By: sharilyn (eggscentric)
1. A Quickness of Light
...Time seems to pass. The world happens, unrolling into moments, and you stop to glance at a spider pressed to its web. There is a quickness of light and a sense of things outlined precisely and streaks of running luster on the bay. You know more surely who you are on a strong bright day after a storm when the smallest falling leaf is stabbed with self-awareness. The wind makes a sound in the pines and the world comes into being, irreversibly, and the spider rides the wind-swayed web...*
It was beautiful, really, the whole of it almost surreally hypnotic as it shimmered in the brilliant, fresh-washed rays of early morning sunlight. And of such deceptively simple design, Jim Ellison mused to himself as he leaned closer to the balcony railing, his sentinel's vision zeroing in on the spider web stretched gossamer-thin but with incredible durability from one corner of the railing to the back of a metal patio chair positioned some four inches' distance from the railing itself. Not that the alert-eyed detective needed to be this close to make out the incredibly complex architecture of his small arachnid interloper's newly-constructed domicile; with his enhanced vision Jim had been able to stand well within the center of the loft's interior and still descry with the utmost clarity every wispy, sticky thread of spider silk comprising the web's parameters outside here on the balcony. He'd first noticed the eight-legged squatter's creation as he came downstairs for his shower
and breakfast, his usual morning routine abruptly interrupted by the pearlescent, near-blinding glint of the web as it snared his attention through the thick glass doors closing off the loft's balcony. And even though he knew he was already pressed for time from minute one this whole day long, Jim had been unable to resist the bright, ephemeral lure of such artistic perfection, draped as it was across his railing like some benevolent gift from the gods.
"Don't worry, fella; you mind your boundaries, I'll mind mine, and we'll get along just fine. Ask Sandburg; he knows," Jim murmured now to the unremarkable gray denizen of this masterwork of nature as it paused in its busy spinning and weaving and clung with a sort of grimly patient paranoia to one corner of its home. Legs bunched almost sullenly beneath its bulbous body, the spider's multiple eyes seemed to study the monstrously huge behemoth looming over it with the wary suspicion of all such creatures whose very survival depends on equal measures of quickness and merciless savagery. Idly Jim found himself wondering just how acute the spider's peculiarly efficient eyesight really was, especially in comparison to his own uber-enhanced but nonetheless mundanely binocular vision; and as the gently undulating vista of translucent web and neatly symmetrical spider's legs filled the frame of Jim's narrowed visual field, he discovered a strangely alluring yearning from somewhere deep
inside his soul to allow himself to sink--just for a bit--quite calmly and happily into a zenlike state of zoning whose center might hold all the answers to the ineffable mysteries lurking behind one small spider's inscrutable perusal.
"Umm...Jim? Earth calling Jim, come in, Jim...PLEASE don't tell me you've zoned on that damned spider's web, cause we just don't have time for one of your 'bonding with nature' moments this morning. Simon will KILL us if we're late," came Blair Sandburg's exasperated, early-morning-and-no-coffee-yet rasp from the open doorway behind Ellison; and at his partner/roommate's longsuffering exhalation, Jim gave his own slightly regretful sigh of surrender and forced his gaze away from the delicate tangle of silky web glinting in the flame-hued rush of dawn. As he straightened somewhat stiffly to his full height, a sudden rush of cool morning air spun down from the sky to swirl playfully around the balcony, its unexpected arrival setting off a graceful vibration to the spider's web and leading Jim to the latent realization that he'd stepped out onto the balcony clad in nothing more than a towel, which was still loosely knotted at his right hip. His bare nipples puckering to hard nubs from
the wind's bracingly cool caress, Jim turned to give Blair a strangely oblique look before brushing past the younger man's sleep-rumpled, wild-haired form to resume his own, 'pre-web' course of action.
"I won't be the one to make us late this morn, Chief," Jim spoke shortly as he headed for the bathroom, both hands already moving to unwrap the towel from his leanly muscled hips in preparation for stepping into the shower. "By the time you stumble your way into the kitchen, suck down your first infusion of caffeine, then battle that rat's nest you call hair into some sort of submission, I will already be dressed and headed out the door." He could almost hear the resentful raising of Blair's eyebrows from somewhere behind him as he slipped into the bathroom and reached behind him to shut the door. His partner's acerbic comeback rebounded off the door's surface, and Jim stifled a little grin as he moved with brisk economy to drape his towel over the rack and turn on the shower.
"Rat's nest?! This from Mr. Buzz Cut with all of two--count them, TWO--hair follicles on his whole head," came Sandburg's continuing, disgruntled diatribe through the sound of pounding hot water splashing off the shower walls; and as Jim stepped gratefully into the steamy heat of his morning ablutions, his mildly amused grin grew and metamorphosed into a contented chuckle as Blair hurled one last, quasi-affectionate insult his way and shuffled off to commune grumpily with his beloved coffee maker. Yes, Jim reflected as he gave himself a quick but thorugh scrub- down and then rubbed a handful of shampoo into his short but adequately follicled hair; it was definitely going to be a full day today. But with all the glories of nature and one oh-so-easy-to-tease partner waiting in the wings, Jim had every hope that the day would be one laden with promise.
2. This Final Morning
...It happened this final morning that they were here at the same time, in the kitchen, and they shambled past each other to get things out of cabinets and drawers and then waited one for the other by the sink or fridge, still a little puddled in dream melt...*
Later, in a melancholy burst of hindsight made almost unbearable by its scope and intensity, Blair would contemplate the terrible tragedy of not having appreciated--of not having KNOWN--within the immediacy of each and every moment of each and every mundane activity of daily living, just how sacred that living and breathing and DOING alongside Jim truly had been. How could he have missed it? How was it that he'd always swallowed down and sublimated the peace and joy of all those deceptively ho-hum mornings spent bumping elbows with Jim in the confines of their narrow, galley-style kitchen? How could it be that he'd never really allowed himself to just stop and gaze with simple, appreciative affection at his best friend in the whole damned world as they'd both mumbled their way through breakfast and the quick clean-up afterward before they'd headed out the door; why, Blair castigated himself bitterly now, had he never actually EXPRESSED to Jim just how freaking cool it was to be there
with him day after day, doing a tandem juggling act of balancing coffee cups and juice glasses and steaming plates of scrambled eggs and toast within a small space as they moved easily around each other, filling each other in on their plans--either joint or individual--for the upcoming day and exchanging the comfortable small talk years of friendship had crafted so smoothly and seamlessly between them?
Sometimes they had not been able to enjoy the luxury of meeting up in the kitchen before the day began; sometimes their schedules had been at such hopeless cross purposes that days would pass before they had the opportunity to once again sit at the breakfast table together and eye each other over assorted dishes of food and stray sections of the morning paper, gazes meeting and meshing in a second of brief, silent communion before they'd spoken innocuous phrases to mask the silent, sometimes startlingly intense rush of relief and relaxation each felt at being together again like this, here in this sunny/rainy/wintry kitchen as the seasons came and went and their friendship/partnership quietly flourished. Blair had never before realized just how much he'd hated those intermittent mornings with no Jim there, those dull, colorless dawns spent hunched over the sink, choking down cold cereal or the dregs of last night's stale coffee because for some reason it just wasn't RIGHT to brew a
fresh, cheerfully burbling pot when Jim wasn't there to draw the heavenly aroma in through those marvelously senstive nostrils of his. For Blair, Jim's quiet savoring of the richness of their favorite special roast was every bit as delightful as the taste of the coffee itself. And it hadn't just been the coffee thing; Blair had always found himself rather pathetically excited to wake up of a morning and sense that Jim was there in the loft with him. As his sleep-gummed eyes fought to open, Blair's hearing would extend out beyond the confines of his bedroom to catch the sound of the shower running or the peeved, barely audible mutterings of his sentinel, whose ultra-sensitive taste buds had just been assaulted by the very slight 'off' quality of the newly expired milk that Blair hadn't yet found time to replace. Even the prospect of facing off with a calcium-deprived partner could never dim that first, near-illicit surge of grateful anticipation Blair always felt when he awoke to the
familiar presence of Jim in the loft.
I should have told him, Blair thought now as he stared numbly down at the dried blood still staining his hands. So many times over these past few years, I should have let him know just how great it's been, living with him, working with him, being his unofficial partner on the job and his de facto 'guide'...but I can count on one hand the number of times I ever said anything to him even remotely pertaining to the bond we've shared. And now it might be too late. Shit, if only we could go back, the both of us, to this morning, back to the coffee and the pancakes and Jim's teasing and snorted laughter when I tried to flip that last batch like a pro and ended up spattering runny pancake batter all down the outside of the skillet...This morning was the first time in four days that we were able to have breakfast together; and I never told him how glad I was for it.
"Blair? Sandburg...it's the surgeon, he's coming out to talk to us now..." Blair stared blankly into Simon's exhausted face, losing himself momentarily in the stress-hollowed channels of the commander's cheeks; he didn't want to listen, didn't want to hear anything but those five magic words: "He's going to make it." But as Simon continued to loom above him, both hands fisted in silent tension within the pockets of his overcoat, Blair's traitorous eyes slowly and stubbornly lifted from Simon's grim face to the mute fear washing like eternal darkness across the brown irises studying him now with such raw helplessness.
"Sandburg? Can you do this?" Simon was saying, his voice coming out thick and distorted and worried, so damned worried. And Blair wanted to shake his head in vehement negation, wanted to growl out, "Fuck, no, I can't do this!" But as he continued to sit here, powerless, he could feel that Jim's blood was still sinking into his skin, each dried, sticky bit of corpuscular residue being absorbed down and down into the deepest layers of Blair's dermis till he swore he could feel and taste and sense the very essence of his best friend's soul burrowing into his own ravaged depths. And he knew he had to do this; Jim's blood called to him to do this, to be strong, to look the surgeon right in the face and to listen to the words coming from his mouth, words for ill or good, words of hope or of unending despair.
I need for you to be alive, Jim, Blair spoke to the other's blood within him as he nodded to Simon once, grimly, and allowed the captain to draw him gingerly to his feet. I need to clasp your hands in mine, Jim, to return your blood--your strength--to you through the contact of our palms, our fingers...I'll give it back to you, all of it, except of course for the copious amounts you bled out all over the parking garage...but that's okay, it will all be okay, I'm sure I have enough of your blood on my hands still to give you that one burst of vitality you need to come back to me, to laugh again at my lack of cooking skills and chew me out for leaving water-spotted glasses on the drainboard all day...God, Jim, let this blood be enough! They told me to wash it all off but I couldn't do it, couldn't stand to see your blood dripping from the soapy tips of my fingers to swirl down the drain...It's enough, Jim, isn't it? Surely the surgeon will say it's just enough, enough to give you back
3. Already There
...His future is not under construction. It is already there, susceptible to entry...*
Jim remembers clawing his way from impenetrable darkness to feel and recognize the touch of Blair's hands over his; he remembers the shaky but blessedly warm clasp of Blair's fingers wrapping around his own, and though he could hear nothing at that moment, he sensed that Blair was speaking to him then and most likely had been doing so for some time. He remembers the hot, dizzying sensation of his own dried and dying blood returning to him through the heat of Blair's skin, every fragment of the rusty elixir of the life force he'd leaked into his best friend's hands somehow revitalizing both itself and Jim's damaged body through some mysterious, alchemical reaction with the essence of Blair's soul. I FELT his soul, Jim thinks now, right there in his hands, felt him sink down into me through his palms and his thumbs and the pads of his fingers. He tasted...sweet...and rich...and pleasantly earthy. He tasted like life, like cinnamon and cloves and sunlight.
And he smelled of fear and desperation, too, Jim recalls; but beneath those things he just smelled like Blair, like himself...and a little bit like Jim, as well, from the sentinel's blood hungrily sinking into all the hidden places of Blair's body and spirit, his guide's strength drawing some vital part of Jim's essence to shelter with him in the quiet darkness, there to grow strong enough to find its way back again and to re-emerge into Jim's body through the touch of Blair's hands on his. I am both embodied and ensouled now, Jim muses tranquilly, almost my old self again... but somehow changed, as Blair too has been changed by the blending of my blood with his soul.
The doctors and the therapists tell Jim that his body's strength and healing are still 'under construction,' so to speak, that his future is like a computer program being slowly and laboriously reset after a sudden, catastrophic meltdown. But both he and Blair know that the 'experts' are wrong, that Jim is a work completed and is already there, right where he was meant to be, past and present and future inextricably entwined with the timeless NOW of that one touch, that one fateful entry through skin and bone and muscle to the place where souls fly free and it is always breakfast somewhere and pancakes flip perfectly every single time. Jim and Blair sit in that kitchen of limitless horizons every single morning now, and in that warm,sunny place it doesn't matter that Jim is still a bit drawn and thin and still moves slowly, or that he sometimes drops his fork and Blair then has to lean under the table and retrieve it, grimacing ruefully when his head occasionally whacks against the
bottom of the table on the way back up. Jim can still scramble a mean egg, and Blair makes the best coffee on the continent (God knows that in Jim's opinion the aroma alone is sheer ambrosia); and when Simon drops in, as he is wont to do at least two days a week, Jim and Blair merely nod and smile sagely when the captain implores them to hurry up and get the hell back to work, cause Rafe and Henri and Megan are driving him NUTS and Lord, he never thought he'd say this, but it would actually be a real PLEASURE to see both Jim's and Blair's ugly mugs back in the Major Crimes bullpen again...
And every time Banks buries his head in his arms at the kitchen table and begins his weekly rant, Jim and Blair exchange wry smiles over his head; and usually right afterwards both men's gazes travel up and up to the lovely spiderweb swaying gently in the rafters high above the kitchen table. And as they contemplate their newest, multi-appendaged roomie busily adding some new silk threads here, a decoratively wrapped insect morsel there, both men know that never again will they be reluctant to speak the words of affection and affirmation that will sustain them for many more 'Simon-friendly' breakfasts to come.
* The excerpts in the vignettes were from a book called THE BODY ARTIST by Don DeLillo.