Naked

By Demeter

EMAIL: Demeter

 

The sudden shift in reality is disturbing.

It wasn't so bad just a little while ago, waking up with Jim beside me - which is part strange and part encouraging. So he indulged my laziness, after all. I even held back any teasing comment that might have come to mind at finding my roommate in my bed...

All of that changed within seconds.

I don't really know how it happened; Jim's never that clumsy, but when he got up after asking me if I was coming to dinner with him, he accidentally brushed against the little box and sent it flying to the floor, its contents scattering.

I wished so many things at that moment, that I could turn back time and hide it safely before I'd fallen asleep, so stupid, right? - or that I'd destroyed this box, or never kept it in the first place.

But all I could do was stare at it, mesmerized. Jim seemed to feel the same, because nothing was said for almost a minute, which felt like an eternity.

"Are you *nuts*?"

That was the end of the silence, most definitely.

"Jim, wait, I can explain--"

I couldn't, really, but I had to weasel my way out of this, somehow. Couldn't let him think I was like all the others, those who had pretended to care and turned their backs on him anyway - except that I'd just proven it.

"What's to explain? Does your therapist know that you've had a plan B in addition to all those bloody contracts you signed?"

"This is not... come on, I haven't done anything, have I?" I wish he'd just back off, but Jim is determined.

He's taking one step closer, not bothering to lower his voice and... "No? What the hell do you think you're--"

This is where I know I've really blown it. It was an instinctive reaction to raise my arms in front of my face. I can't even say why I did it, but something about this situation, having nowhere to run with someone yelling at me - even if it's my best friend fearing for my life - had me cringe with something akin to panic.

And I can't ever take it back.

Jim is dismayed, I can read it in his face. Disappointment, maybe disgust, he just can't hide it from me. "You really thought I was going to hit you."

I shake my head, "No, you misunderstood, I wouldn't..."

"That's exactly the problem, Sandburg. You don't even know yourself anymore," he says, and then leaves, the front door slamming.

He's named the conflict so clearly, so why bother spending more money on therapy anyway?

The way things are, I just can't stay here, much as I want to. Jim doesn't trust me anymore, and I just can't live with that knowledge.

~~~~~

Packing up my things is a difficult task. Seems like every piece carries a memory, begging me to rethink my decision, but I can't. I still haven't unpacked the box where I'd stored all the Sentinel research; maybe Jim will make use of it anyway.

But, just maybe, they'll carry too many memories for him, too.

Where did that come from? I wonder. He'll be better off without me, no doubt about it. I'm sure Jim will understand that someday, but I must be gone before that. I could never stand to be around for that moment.

I pick up the frame that's holding a picture taken during one of our fishing trips, when I'd made a big catch. In the frozen moment, Jim's eyes shine with pride; he hasn't turned that expression on me lately.

I've long overstayed my welcome, I think, the knowledge a cold and lonely place - all that is left for me now.

The End