Three Things My Father Told Me
Jim walked into the loft, his steps heavy and weary. He hung up his wet coat on the hook by the door and crossed the living room, slumping down on the couch with a sigh.
Blair followed him in, shaking droplets of rain from his hair and wiping the moisture from his jacket, too tired to care about the wetness now marring the floor. He hung the soaked jacket beside Jim's then traipsed through to the kitchen and put water on to boil, still feeling chilled, despite the warmth of the living room. "I'm making tea. Or would you rather have a beer?"
"How about a scotch?" Jim replied. "There's a bottle in the cupboard above the sink."
"Sure, why not?" Blair turned off the kettle and pulled out the scotch, pouring measures into two glasses. He carried them into the living room and handed one to Jim before seating himself on the arm of the sofa next to his lover. He squeezed Jim's shoulder gently. "How you doing?"
Jim took a sip of the amber liquid, then shrugged. "Okay, I guess. I mean, it shouldn't have come as a shock, after the heart attack he suffered last month. Still…"
"I don't imagine it's something you ever expect," Blair mused. "He was your dad."
"I'm glad I was finally able to think of him that way," Jim said. "Didn't think that would ever happen, but thanks to you -"
"I didn't do anything!" Blair protested. "You reached out and he reached out -"
"And if I hadn't listened to you when we were tracking down Aaron Foster, I probably wouldn't have even gone to his funeral today. It has been good this last couple of years with him, and with Stephen."
"Nice to have good memories to replace the not so good," Blair added.
Jim nodded. He reached out and grabbed Blair's arm, pulling him off the arm of the sofa and onto the seat beside him. "C'mere," he said, wrapping an arm about Blair's shoulders. "You're still shivering. Let me warm you up."
Blair agreed with alacrity, placing his glass on the table and snuggling into Jim's embrace. "I should be comforting you," he protested anyway, "not the other way round."
Jim gave him a squeeze. "You are." He took another sip of his drink then placed his glass beside Blair's and leaned back, bringing Blair with him to rest against his chest. "I told you about my dad telling me to keep quiet about my senses, that people would call me a freak."
"Yeah, I still think he was just trying to protect you."
"I know. He was right. I mean, look what happened when it all came out."
"I'm -" Before Blair could complete the apology, Jim's hand pressed lightly against his mouth. "Don't," he chided gently. He waited a moment then removed his hand and placed it beneath Blair's chin, tipping his head up to give him a gentle, chaste, but lingering kiss. "One of the few times he was right." Jim rested his head back against the sofa and closed his eyes, stroking a hand up and down Blair's back. "I was thinking about that today at the funeral. When I was a kid, my father told me three things, said I should never forget them, and, apart from the freak thing, he was only right once."
Blair shifted a little and looked up at Jim. "Tell me."
"He told me to never trust anyone. That everyone has an agenda, that you should always be watching your back."
"I guess you get that way in business," Blair said, "but it's a sad way to live your life." He shrugged.
Jim smiled a little. "He hadn't met you. Still, even when I first met you, pretty much the first thing I asked you was, what was in it for you."
Blair snorted a little and poked Jim in the chest with a finger. "Well, there was this small matter of my dissertation."
"And you asked me to trust you." Jim opened his eyes and stared down at Blair, his face solemn. "And even while I was walking out of your office, I was thinking I should go back, I needed to trust you… should trust you. That I'd needed to hear those words from someone all my life."
Blair blushed. "Just my gentle powers of persuasion, man," he joked, but his heart warmed at Jim's words. "So, what else did he tell you?"
"Love has no reward. You'll only get hurt."
Blair thought about that for a moment, then said, "What's that quote? 'Love is its own reward.' He'd been hurt, Jim. I guess I can understand why he'd feel that way."
Jim's arm tightened around him. "I sometimes wonder if my parents truly really loved each other," he said. "How could they have and not feel what I do when I think about you, about us? How could they not fight for what they had?"
"Maybe by then, they were both tired of trying so hard, yet knowing it was already lost. I think they loved each other. I think that was a lot of the reason for the way your father treated you and Stephen. He mourned her but knew he could never get her back, and you and Stephen were a constant reminder of what he'd lost."
Jim leaned down and pressed a kiss to the tip of Blair's nose. "You're very wise for one so young, Grasshopper," he said with a smile.
Blair slapped goodnaturedly at Jim's chest. "Enough with the 'young', Jim. You'll give me a complex. What's the third?"
Jim blinked at him. "Third what?"
Blair rolled his eyes. "The third thing your dad told you."
Jim frowned then nodded. "Oh, right. Actually, it's the one thing he was right about."
"And?" Blair nudged Jim with an elbow.
"Competition makes you stronger."
Blair nodded slowly. "Well, sure, I guess, though studies have shown that children subjected to too much competition become aggressive -"
"Who's telling this story?" Jim demanded with a nudge of his own.
"Right. Sorry." Blair settled back against Jim's chest.
"Alex," Jim said softly. "If I hadn't competed with her, if I hadn't fought for control, I would have lost the reason for having these senses in the first place, the reason for them being, for me, a gift. You said in Mexico that she lost her way."
"I think she did. She discovered the power but not the gift they are. They became a burden."
"And because of her burden, I almost lost you."
Blair smiled up at him. "But you didn't. You fought it and you won."
"And so did you," Jim said. "You fought to get me back, to help me release my burden and recognize my gift. Thank you." Jim leaned forward and kissed Blair again, this time lingering for a long moment, then he gently pushed his lover to one side and reached forward to pick up their glasses, handing Blair's to him. "So, here's to you, Dad," he said, raising his glass. "You weren't always right, but those words of wisdom gave me back my life."