I don't deal well with losses. Does anybody? It's just that I think there have been too fucking many of them in my life; and there's more. Truth is, a few years ago I would have laughed in the face of anybody who'd told me that you can be linked so deeply with a person that you literally cannot imagine living without.
The truth is right here, and I can't ignore it any longer. Besides all the myth - I've never had any friendship like this. Come to think of it, I've never had any *relationship* like this. Kinda leaves you with no other choice but to hold on; and that's the only reason I didn't get all irate about what Blair told me, about moving away, getting *out of my way*.
The ambience between us is so charged and complicated at the moment, I just can't take the risk, even though I wanted to shake him at first, for still not getting it. Guess that wasn't a good idea at all. Better even that he's called me first.
We're sitting at a window table in the small café near the beach, the rain now pounding against the glass pane. The endless succession of raindrops that creep down the glass to form tiny rivers would be a welcome distraction, with their multiple colors no one but me can really see, but I draw my attention away from the sight, direct it back to Sandburg, who's regarding me with what seems like tense expectation.
I begin to lay out my plans to him - interrupted by the waitress who brings our coffee, and I nearly growl at her. I don't have to; she retreats quickly as if having sensed the intense moment she'd been intruding on.
"I imagine we could set up an office pretty soon."
"So," Blair says after I've finished. "You want me to be your secretary?"
That's not what I expected. "Look," I hurry to say, worried I've made a mistake here, another, that is, "the last thing I want is for you to feel underrated, I just meant that..."
I look up to realize he is just yanking my chain here, hardly keeping the grin off his face.
"Right, Chief," I return dryly, "Doing all my paperwork and bringing me coffee anytime I want, I can just see picture you doing that!"
We both have to laugh, though. It's silly, but there's something about us being here, together, alive, allowing ourselves to be silly, that makes me ridiculously happy. It means we're damn lucky.
"So what do you think? Want to be my partner in crime?"
Just for a moment, there's the old sparkle I've missed for so long, back in his eyes. Hope. Longing.
"You're unbelievable. Do you really think we could do it?"
With you, there's nothing I could *not* do. No, I won't let the situation get so sappy as to actually say it out loud. "I'm sure we could," I venture instead.
"You're not doing this just -- because of me, right?" There's the uncertainty again. I know I'll have to deal with it for a long time to come, the thought dimming my enthusiasm slightly, but what matters most is that the period of stagnation is over.
"No. I'd been thinking about it before I even met you." It's the truth. He nods. Blair may not be able to check my heartbeat for verification, but I couldn't get a lie past him to save my life. That's just how things are between us.
//"That's good, because - I'm in, I think."
*That's* how I had imagined this conversation to happen. It doesn't.
"You know I appreciate your offer. I really do."
"Then accept it."
"Jim, it's not that easy." He sighs, finger tracing an almost invisible crack in the china cup, unaware. "I want to, but... think about this. You build a new business on your reputation. Even if this was working out - it would be better to start without me. You might see it differently, but to the rest of the world, I'm not exactly the most trustworthy guy around. The old rumors will start up again, and that's something we can both do without. And - it might be even good for us to go separate ways, at least for a while."
"So how long is that 'while' supposed to last? A couple of months, or two years, or what 'while' is it you're talking about?" //Oh, for Christ's sake, keep down the volume. Yelling has never proven to do any good.//
"I don't know. It's just that... what happens if it doesn't work out? I don't want you to be disappointed with me again."
Stay calm, right. All this time, I've wanted him to stay close, to -don't cringe, will you? - somehow watch over him, but what if it's him who's better off without me?
"Did you plan on keeping in touch at least, then?"
He tells me not to worry, saying he won't do anything stupid, and it's no secret what he means. I realize that it's a test as well. Do I trust him that much? I really hope we're over that hurdle now, and still... Selfish me. I just don't want to let go.
"This is not permanent."
"I hold you to that promise, Chief."
What I really want is to hold on, and ask the question that has been on my mind ever since I've returned from work today. 'Who hurt you so bad that just the memory of it makes you afraid of me?'
"Tell me where you'll go at least."
"I've tried to contact Naomi, but no such luck," he says truthfully, with a hint of sadness. "I think St. Sebastian's it will be. Don't worry Jim; the chance I'll convert to their kind of life-style is still slim. So if you're doing that business thing, I'd love to have a job there once you have yourself established."
"Yeah, making coffee," I joke, even though another emotion is dangerously close to the surface.
"Right. Thank you for everything," Blair says seriously.
We hug briefly, then say a careful goodbye. It is not forever.