Pieces Of Me
NOTES: I woke up the other morning with this story in my head. It's a strange little piece but insisted on being written. It was supposed to be humorous but the angst muse hit me over the head and screamed, "No! No! No!" Feedback welcome on or off list.
And no, I can't remember when Blair got the doors on his room. If someone else can, let me know and I'll change the story accordingly. But now I do! Many thanks to Jean Kluge for helping me out with this piece of info.
"I am *so* out of here." Blair stuffed the last of his meager possessions into his spare backpack then straightened and took a final look around the room that had been his home for the past six months.
Home. He gave a derisive snort. While he might have thought of the loft that way, Jim had never truly let Blair forget that he was just a lodger here. A down on his luck student that the cop had begrudgingly taken in for a week that had become four weeks, then six months.
Blair had to admit he hadn't exactly been looking for another place. He'd just figured if Jim wanted him to leave, he'd say so. Frankly, if Blair had realized just how anal Jim was, he probably would have found a place long ago.
Blair picked up his backpacks and turned toward his curtained doorway. Now that should have been his first clue. His face heated as he remembered the night, a few weeks ago, when he and Kathy, a delightfully pretty and incredibly intelligent fellow grad student had been getting better acquainted in Blair's bedroom. After Jim had walked in on him and Christine making out on the couch not long after he'd moved in, Blair had vowed to keep romantic interludes in his bedroom. Jim had once again come home earlier than planned. Blair knew he was pretty vocal when it came to sex. He'd always figured if you didn't let your partner know how much you were enjoying their attention, you might as well not bother with sex at all. Blair had to give Jim credit. He'd smiled politely at Kathy, giving her a wave as Blair saw her to the door but the moment it was closed and Blair turned back to him, Jim frowned.
"I thought we had a rule about sex in the apartment, Chief."
"Geez, Jim, I'm not a monk, you know," Blair muttered. "What do you want me to do, hire a motel room every time I have a date?"
"Just have a little decorum, Sandburg," Jim admonished. "Don't want the neighbors thinking you're being murdered in your bed."
Blair turned a fiery red at that comment and seeing his discomfort, Jim muttered something about putting a door on Blair's room sometime soon and then climbed the stairs to his bedroom.
The door had never appeared and Blair realized now just how impermanent they made his living situation. He was borrowing a room, a roof over his head. He should have seen through Jim's grievances over pretty much everything he did that flouted Jim's precious house rules and taken the hint.
The complaints over the hair in the drain, the missed spot of food on a dish or two, the sound of his typing late at night when he couldn't sleep or had a thought about his sentinel research that he just had to get down before he forgot it. Color-coded Tupperware. Five minute showers. Not to mention the no flushing after ten rule. It all made him feel as though he'd never be able to get it right. Tonight though had been the straw that broke the camel's back.
They'd had dinner, done the dishes then Blair had retired to his room to study while Jim watched the news. The chili had been Blair's undoing. A moment later, Jim's voice floated through the curtains. "Did you just fart, Sandburg? God, that stinks."
Blair allowed his embarrassment to stoke his anger. If Jim hadn't decided to lace the ostrich stew with extra chili, merely smiling when Blair reminded him of his sensitive taste buds and saying," Now you're here, Chief, I don't have to worry about that," he wouldn't have a stomach so full of gas, he could probably fuel a dozen helium balloons.
Blair couldn't take any more. Jim had finally gone too far. Blair firmed his resolve, refusing to take a backward glance and walked out of his bedroom - the spare room - and moved over to stand in front of Jim. "I'm leaving."
Jim merely raised an eyebrow, his gaze fixed on the basketball game on the TV. "Little late, isn't it? Got a date?"
Blair's impatience hit an all-time high. "I'm moving out, Jim."
That got Jim's attention. He reached out and hit the off button on the remote then looked up at Blair. "Why?"
All of Blair's anger spewed forth with his words. "I can't take any more, Jim. I'm never quiet enough, I'm too untidy, I'm always in your face wanting to do tests, which, by the way, are for your benefit as much as mine, man. I mean, you bitch about my hair clogging the drain, for god's sake and I can't bring a date home without you making comments -"
"Is this about what I said earlier?" Jim asked mildly. "It was just a joke, Sandburg. A little crude admittedly but -"
"No, it's not about that!" Blair replied indignantly then backtracked. "Well, it is but not just about that. It's everything. You've got this perfectly ordered little world and everything I do seems to disrupt it and piss you off. I don't know how Carolyn put up with you for as long as she did -" His words cut off abruptly and he was stricken with shame. That was a low blow, regardless of how he felt right now. "I'm sorry," he rushed on. "I didn't mean that."
Jim's face was devoid of emotion, except for the twitching nerve in his set jaw and the sadness that was telegraphed so tellingly from his eyes. "Yes, you did," he said. "I'm sorry too, Sandburg. I know I've probably been a little rough on you but this is how I live This is how I need to live. When I come home from work and my senses are shaky, I need somewhere that's quiet, controlled. This is my home -"
"I know," Blair said apologetically, suddenly realizing the import of Jim's words and feeling saddened at the truth in them. Jim's home, not his, not theirs. "I'm sorry. I promised to move out after a week. You're right. You need your space back."
"Where will you go? Don't leave now. It's late. You can look around over the next few days -"
"I'll be fine," Blair assured him. "I'm going to stay at Gary's for a few days till I find something," he lied. He felt suddenly weary, all his anger gone in a rush. "I'll see you tomorrow at the station, okay?"
Jim stared at him for a long moment, then he nodded and reached out to hit the switch on the remote. "Fine," he snapped, Blair's ire seemingly transferred to him. "Whatever."
Blair stood flat-footed for a moment, unsure of what to do. This was what he wanted, wasn't it? Finally, he turned and walked slowly to the front door. He hesitated a moment before placing his key in the basket on the table. Not wanting to but unable to stop himself, he turned and looked back at Jim whose attention was doggedly fixed on the muted TV. "See you, Jim," he whispered.
Jim sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face. He lifted his head and looked around the apartment, taking in the small pieces of Blair's presence that had crept out from his room: masks and small artifacts, a pile of CDs vying for space next to Jim's, masses of books crowding the bookcase. It all made the place seem less stark, more like a home. His home and Blair's.
Blair was right, he knew. Carolyn hadn't been able to live with Jim's rules. They'd gotten to the point where they never touched, never kissed or made love. The marriage had become merely a co-existence. He touched Blair a lot though, tousling those unruly curls, squeezing a sturdy shoulder, hugging him while he shuddered through the aftermath of Lash's attack, grounding himself with his guide's presence. He hadn't noticed till now that he no longer needed his rigid rules, that Blair's presence calmed his senses, made life not just bearable but normal.
He opened up his hearing, following Blair down in the elevator, picking up a soft sniffle, homing in on Blair's rapid heartbeat. He tracked it through the lobby, out into the chilly night and concentrated on it until Blair drove away and turned the corner at the end of the street, followed it, allowing it to swell to a crescendo in his head, until he could hear nothing else .
He relaxed into its soothing presence, letting it take him away from his troubling thoughts, from his guilt at driving his guide from their home. It felt reassuringly close, comforting him. Words drifted to him, the voice familiar, the tone tinged with fear.
" hear me, Jim? Come on back. Follow my voice."
Jim snapped back to consciousness with a gasp, pulling in a grateful breath of much needed air. His own heart pounded a tattoo in his chest, matching that of - "Blair?"
Blair slumped onto the couch beside him. "Thank god. You scared the hell out of me, man. I'm not gone ten minutes and look what happens. Have you listened to anything I've said about not concentrating too hard on one sense? Remember the zone-out factor?" He shuddered. "Remember the garbage truck?"
"Sandburg, breathe!" Jim ordered. He sat up and faced his partner. "You came back."
Blair nodded then looked down at his hands, his hair falling forward and obscuring his face. "I couldn't leave with all that anger between us. Naomi always said to detach with love. I'm sorry for what I said, Jim I -"
Jim reached out and cupped Blair's chin, brushed the hair from Blair's face, gently forcing Blair to look at him. "Nothing to be sorry for, Chief. You said what you should have said months ago. I'm the one who should apologize. You've given me an awful lot to be grateful for and I've treated you like crap." He hesitated a moment before asking, "So, does this mean you're staying?"
Blair rolled his eyes, a glimmer of amusement sparkling in his eyes. "I don't have a choice, do I? I mean, god knows what trouble you'll get yourself into without me around." His face became serious. "I'd like to stay, Jim, and I'll try not to piss you off so much."
Jim dropped his hand and shook his head. "Maybe we can sit down tomorrow night and work out a set of rules that works for both of us."
"How about we don't call them rules? Just living arrangements."
Jim nodded. "Works for me, Chief. First order of business - you busy Saturday morning?"
"I thought we'd head down to the hardware store, pick out a door for your room."