Thanks to Xasphie for the quick beta!


(Sequel to 'The Pain Unseen')

By Demeter

EMAIL: Demeter

He jumped at the sound of the door, mentally scrabbling for an explanation, already feeling the blush of embrarrassment rise...

"Chief," Jim said softly, which didn't help with the embarrassment at all.

"Don't take it the wrong way, man, but you were the last person I wanted to see."

"I figured. That's why I came here. I think we need to talk."

Now Blair was really convinced that his failure had to have been of catastrophic dimensions. Jim was suggesting talking? It seemed like he hadn't concealed his inner chaos as well as he'd thought. And trying to get smashed wasn't making it better, on the contrary.

"I'd offer you a ride home," Jim said half-jokingly. "I'm afraid you might get sick on the way, though, so why don't we stay here for a while. I'm going to make some coffee."

Blair wanted to protest, but he was feeling dizzy already from too much alcohol on a mostly empty stomach, so he simply nodded, watching Jim move around Blair's office with the sureness of someone who felt at home. Sometimes it seemed, for all his worries about becoming a 'lab rat', Jim had adjusted to Blair's world much better than it was the other way around.

Still, there was comfort in those familiar gestures. Having a coffee together. He could do that.

Task accomplished, Jim sat down beside him, close, but still keeping a bit of his distance. Unsure.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I never realized..."

//Realized what? That I'm not the guy you fell in love with?// Blair thought with bitter self-reproach. Jim was bound to want answers. Too bad Blair didn't have them.

"I love you," he blurted out. It wasn't what he'd meant to say, but nevertheless true, still, his face heated with shame. People who loved didn't do that to each other. Walking out on them emotionally at the most important moments.

Jim smiled one of those beautiful smiles of his, covering Blair's hand with his, lightly, unobtrusively. "Same here. Everything else, we can work out, don't you think?"

No, Blair wasn't really convinced of that, but then again, he'd been feeling like falling apart for the better part of the past few days, and even though a voice inside told him that he didn't really deserve it, he leaned into the embrace that was offered, reveling in its warmth.

"It's more complicated than that," he said, hating the tone of his voice. He shouldn't be acting like a frightened child, and especially not with Jim. He was an adult, he had to be capable of being in a relationship. One that was safe like nothing else he'd experienced before - so why couldn't he stop making an idiot of himself?

"No, it isn't." Jim was confident in his objection. "I can see last night was... too rushed. I shouldn't have--"

"No," Blair murmured, holding on tighter. "You did everything right."

Jim pressed a soft kiss against his neck, just a mere whisper of lips against skin. "So did you, Chief. Are you coming home with me?"

He would, Blair knew. Nothing had really been solved today, but running wouldn't solve anything either. If he was going to face the dark, it seemed like a better way to do it - with an ally.

"Coffee first, then home. We don't want to endanger Sweetheart."

When they laughed together, finally, some of the weight of failure was lifting.