Originally posted to SA June, 2003.

This is an epilogue for Love And Guns. I always thought that the ending needed just a little bit more. I hope this is acceptable.

All mistakes are my own.

Long Time

By Debbie Tripp

RATING: G (With angst)

SPOILERS: Love and Guns episode

DISCLAIMER: Don't own them; don't get any money from this


It had hurt. Really bad. It hadn't been the first time and it surely wasn't the last time. The hardest part was letting Jim see how much she had affected him. After falling apart in his room alone for about 10 minutes, he sat back up and decided that he couldn't stay in the loft when Jim and that federal agent were getting to know each other much better. He got up off his bed, wiped away the last remnants of his tears, grabbed his backpack and walked through the curtain that separated his room from the rest of the place. He didn't look at Jim or Agent Drennan as he walked towards the door. He put on his coat and picked up the backpack. Just as he reached for the door handle, Jim's voice boomed out.

"Where are you going, Chief?"

Blair could hear the worry and anxiety in the voice. Maybe Jim thought Blair was going after Maya. Blair had to dispel any misunderstandings.

"Just out. I thought I'd give you two a chance to be alone."

"You can stay."

"Nah. You know what they say, Jim. Three's a crowd."

Blair opened the door and walked out before Jim could say anything else. He took the stairs, going down them as fast as he could. When he reached the outside, he released the breath he had been holding.

Jim hadn't followed him. He got to his car and got in. He started driving, not knowing where he was going. He had just needed to get away from the small confines of the small bedroom. Normally, he could have just moved out into the rest of the apartment. But that wasn't an option tonight. He felt that his tears would fall again. He couldn't allow anyone else to see how vulnerable he was. He kept driving and ended up pulling into the parking lot of a motel on the other side of Cascade. Before he realized what he was doing, he had paid for a night at the motel. He took the motel key and walked to the room -- room 4. It was near the main office, so he didn't have to move his car. He walked inside the room and looked around. It was at least bigger than where he had left. That was the only thing wrong with living with Jim. The space was just too small. But Blair wasn't a person to look a gift horse in the mouth. At least he wasn't out on the street. He walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He started to cry again. It was all too close to the surface.

It was almost 10:30 when Jim started getting worried about where Blair was. Drennan had left after the meal. Jim hadn't said anything, but she sensed that there was something wrong with Sandburg. Jim thanked her for understanding. Jim called Blair's cell phone number and the number for his office at Rainier. There was no answer at either place. Jim knew just how devastated Blair had been after falling hard for Maya. He had heard the hurt in Blair's voice when Jim had called him at the university. When Blair had told Jim that he was falling in love with Maya. It had been wrong for Jim to involve Blair in the whole thing. But Jim had thought Blair was going to be a real asset on this assignment. Since there was no reason to lie to Maya of why Blair would show an interest in the young woman. But there was the unexpected part about Blair falling in love with Maya.

Jim decided to go to Rainier. It was the refuge where Blair went when he wanted to be alone. Jim knew that with just a curtain up in the doorway of the small room it didn't afford Blair much privacy. Jim drove to the university. He didn't spot Sandburg's car in the lot where he usually parked. Jim parked anyway and decided to check Blair's office. He could have parked somewhere else. As Jim walked to the office, he thought that he'd put up something more permanent in the doorway to Blair's room. Real doors. He could do the project himself. Since it looked like Blair was going to stay.

Jim found Blair's office door locked and could determine nothing out of the ordinary inside the office. Just as a precaution, Jim got out his key and unlocked the door. Blair had given Jim keys to his office and to his car after he had moved into the loft. Blair knew how much Jim worried about him.

Blair wasn't in the office. Jim had no idea where else Blair could have gone off. Jim decided to go back home. Blair would be back when he felt like it. Maybe this was just the way he coped with things. Jim had seen the tears forming in Blair's eyes when they had spoke earlier. This had really devastated Blair. It would take time to recover from. Jim would start on the doors first thing tomorrow. After all, it was the weekend and he had nothing else planned.

In the morning, Blair went to the main office and paid for two more nights. It was the weekend and he had nothing planned. At least nothing that he felt like doing. He knew that Jim would probably wonder where he was. But he was a big boy and could look out for himself. He somehow fell asleep in the bed.

Jim went to the hardware store and got the materials he needed. He loaded everything in the back of his truck. He took everything back to the loft. It took him several trips to get everything upstairs. He was thankful that the elevator worked throughout the entire operation. He had gotten fancy doors. It wouldn't take long to put the doors up. Maybe Blair would be home by the time Jim finished.

Blair stayed in bed the whole day. He didn't want to do anything. And the thought of food almost made him gag. He didn't think he had ever felt so bad before in his life. It hurt so badly. He kept thinking about how it had all gone wrong. He started crying again. He didn't understand why it hurt so badly. Jim wouldn't understand at all.

Jim finished putting up the doors by the afternoon. He double-checked them to make sure they didn't squeak and that they closed fine. They were perfect. And he knew that Blair would appreciate them. If he'd just come home from licking his wounds. Jim vowed not to get Blair so involved in another case. Blair just took things too personally. He didn't have the objective outlook to distance himself from the situation. He'd never make it as a policeman. As an observer, he did just fine.

Blair wasn't home by the evening. Jim called up Drennan and asked her out to eat. She accepted his offer. Jim left for his date at 7:00 PM.

Blair called the loft to let Jim know he was okay. He could barely keep the hitches and catches out of his voice as he left the message on the answering machine.

Jim got home the next morning. It had been an enjoyable evening with Drennan. He saw the message light flashing. He played back the messages. There was only one from Blair. He was fine and told Jim not to worry about him. Jim could hear the thick emotion in Blair's voice. He was still hurting. Jim decided to confront Blair at Rainier on Monday. He knew that Blair wouldn't ditch his classes.

It was Sunday evening. And Blair still hadn't eaten a thing. He had gotten a few sodas out of the machine that was near the main office. He thought about returning to the loft, but he had paid for another night. He decided to get a good night's sleep. He had an 8:00 AM class. He'd get to the university early. He had a change of clothes there. He had the notes that he needed for his class and the textbook in his backpack. He'd make a quick review of things before class tomorrow and he'd be fine. He knew that later tomorrow he'd have to face Jim. And the others at the station. He usually stopped by the station after his classes. Maybe he could beg off. He didn't feel like being social yet. He was sure that everyone at the station knew about his involvement with Maya. He wondered where she was. Was she already back in Chile? It was a safe guess that she was already back in her country. He knew that he'd probably never see her again. The pain would get less. It would just take time.

Jim knew that Blair had an 8:00 AM class at the university. He would stop by Blair's office before hand in hopes of catching him before the class. He wanted to make sure that Blair was really okay.

Blair was walking to his office. As he walked inside, he saw Jim sitting at his desk.

"Something I can do for you?"

"I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. I was worried."

"I'm fine, Jim. I just didn't want my private life public."

"I'm sorry about what happened, Sandburg. I know she hurt you..."

"Don't, Jim. I don't want to talk about it. I have a class in about a half an hour. I need to prepare for it. Oh, and I probably won't be able to stop by the station later. I've got some other commitments I have here that I have to handle."

"Are you coming back to the loft?"

"Yeah. I'll fix dinner tonight. I'm sure it's my turn."

"Okay. I'll see you later."

Jim left the office. He was still able to hear the soft sobs that Blair released after he left. It would take a long time.