Finally, here it is, the continuation of The End. Xasphie and Annie did fabulous beta work, as always.

This won't make much sense to you if you haven't read the first arc, and if you do, please take a moment to read the warnings too.

 

De-framing

By Demeter

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BEST POST-TSBYBS GEN STORY

EMAIL: Demeter

 

A change of heart at last moment's notice. Come to think of it, there's no need to make this drama any worse than it already is, so before I leave for good, I call Jim on his cell and ask him to meet me, anywhere he wants to. I think I owe him that much, a proper goodbye at least.

He seems relieved to hear my voice, which makes me feel bad instantly. God, this won't be easy. It isn't for me, either.

I don't want to burn any bridges, only that they are in ruins already, and it's definitely my fault. As I'm driving, the self-reproaching thoughts rush to the surface again, each of them a slap in the face.

Couldn't you do *this* right at least?

And if you were stupid enough to let yourself get caught in the act, why didn't you think of something else in the first place?

If I had simply left before, I would have spared Jim so much. I haven't seen anyone of the gang or even Simon in person since, I couldn't stand it, and once again, Jim stepped in and diplomatically kept them away from me. But I can imagine what they're thinking.

Guess Simon regrets deeply ever letting me work with Jim in the first place; I didn't make for a cop's partner, and the thought that I even remotely fulfilled my role as a Guide seems ridiculous now. I straighten up in my seat a little, thinking I've made the right decision, even if it hurts like hell.

At least, I'm now paying my dues for the mistakes I've made.

***

The sky is gray, clouds torn by the wind that keeps getting stronger, upheaving the sea. Fitting my mood perfectly. It's still warm though, and so we both kick off our shoes and walk along the beach.

A beautiful image, you'd think.

However, the last time I vividly remember us doing something like this, is in Sierra Verde. Not such a good memory. I've been running out of explanations. The only thing I can do now is indeed - run.

"You know I've got to go away," I say finally. "It'll be for the better."

Jim is very calm about it, which is a relief. Somehow, I was afraid there'd be another argument, and I just couldn't handle that. And part of me feels - disappointed.

"So," he says matter-of-factly. "It seems like I don't have to anything to offer to you anymore."

His words stop me cold. "No! That's not what it's about!"

"What is it about, then?" Jim asks tiredly, turning to me. "Okay, forget it. If you feel safer with the distance, that'll be alright with me."

"Safer?" I'm flabbergasted. "You're not thinking... come on, that's not what I meant! I'm sure they talk at the station, and you don't want to have all that attention. When I'm gone, you can go back to being a regular cop - that's what you wanted, right? I won't be in your way any longer. I understood, finally."

"Well, thanks a lot." A moment later though, he apologizes. "Sorry. It's just that you don't understand at all. This job is not the most important thing to me; I'd like to think I can do another one as well. All that thinking about the mythological background, and the responsibility of being a Sentinel - it's all useless if I can't even protect the one person that keeps me sane."

"Oh, stop, Jim. I'm not--"

"Will you hear me out?" he interrupts with a hint of the familiar impatience. "I want to..." At exactly that moment, it starts to rain, and despite ourselves, we both have to grin. There *is* something comical about us standing here, barefoot, slowly getting drenched.

"Come on," he says, draping an arm around my shoulder. "I'll buy you a coffee."

Why is it so hard to say goodbye?"

END

September 2005