Something Real

By Demeter

EMAIL: Demeter

This trusting thing is not so easy to do, when I can read Sandburg's emotions like a book, even now that he's more often trying to hide them from me. We will have to talk about the fact that he's off the meds, and about the dark place he's still retreating to at times - not so often anymore, but I can easily tell that it has happened today.

Hell, I know he'd had other plans in life, and the future's still uncertain, but how many times have you got to tell the guy that he's valued, as a person, a friend?

No, the sarcastic approach doesn't really work well.

I wonder if he ever felt like this when I was zoning, scared out of his wits because he couldn't reach me there. But Blair has never given up on me in such a moment, scared or not, and I guess I owe him to do just the same.

"Where are we going, Jim?" he asks for about the third time, the dark mood having receded some.

I smile at the question, child-like as it sounds. Reminds me of times when not everything was that difficult. "Have patience, Chief. You'll see."

He grumbles something, feigning annoyance, but I can tell he's curious. He'd be shocked if I ever told him the whole extent to which I can measure his state of mind.

The road may be long, but tonight, I think, is one of those small victories.

***

The restaurant is near a lake, the panorama windows giving view to the beautiful sight of the moon rising over the nearby woods. It's too cold yet to sit outside, but we got great seats.

After dinner, we take a walk around the lake, and I start telling Blair about the future plans for the security company. I've contacted an old army buddy who's set up a similar business in New York; educating employees of foreign companies in countries like Iraq or Pakistan, teaching them how to behave in a hostage situation or should they get under fire - it sounded like rewarding work. He's coming to Cascade some time in the next two weeks, and we've planned to meet, talk things through.

Blair gives me a wry smile. "And I'm kinda experienced when it comes to hostage situations, right?"

I realize I haven't talked that much in a while; it's like we've traded places now - he used to be the one with all the enthusiasm, when I used to be the jaded one. One day, we're hopefully going to learn from each other, instead of staying with the extremes...

"You're experienced when it comes to people, what makes them tick. So, yes, you'd be a great asset to the whole project. What do *you* want?"

He sighs, turning his gaze away from me to the dark expanse of water. "You know, I hardly ever touched an Aspirin before. I hate being dependent on those drugs. Hate that I need all that chemistry to have normal functioning emotions. It's not fair."

"No, it isn't," I say quietly. "But that's the way it is at the moment."

"Right. Can we really do this? Can you? It sounds like a great project, and I'd love to be a part of this, but can you deal with the bad days, too?"

Inwardly, I count to ten, and I don't tell him that the only thing I couldn't really deal with was when I realized that he wanted to die. Had wanted it so much he actually chose that lonely rest stop to drive there and - just - do it, without any thought whatsoever of the consequences.

Right, Sandburg's not the only one whose world has been shattered. But the building up is done faster when done by the two of us, isn't it?

"Try me, Chief." *Why don't you try life?*

There are other people around, but for once I don't care as I take his hand into mine, waiting for his answer - to both of the questions.

END