At A Loss
A little post TsbyBS piece.
Thanks to Annie as always for the beta.
Blair sat on his bed, head down, shoulders slumped. The badge wallet was beside him, the cover open. Reaching out, he rubbed a finger over the cool metal, tracing the numbers. He knew it was not his to keep… yet. That would depend upon the decision he made. It wasn’t the hardest decision he’d had to make. That had come days before when he announced publicly that he was a fraud. It wouldn’t even mean a momentous change in his life. As he’d told Jim, he’d been acting like a cop for the past few years anyway.
He wouldn’t deny he was hesitant though. No one beside the team in Major Crime and the Mayor knew that Blair’s admission of fraud was a lie, and in order to continue to protect Jim, no one ever would. How other cops would judge him, thinking he’d managed to somehow finagle his way, not only onto the force, but as a detective, was likely to not sit right with some of them. He was still trying to come to terms with the glances of distrust, not to mention the open hostility he’d seen on the faces of his students and members of the faculty. How cops would handle a self-admitted fraud in their midst was pretty scary.
His mother, despite being the original flower child, peace-loving and gentle, had always told him to fight for what he wanted. When he was around ten, she’d sat him down and told him how she’d fought to keep him, despite her parents vociferously demanding she give him up for adoption. The unshed tears in her eyes had stopped him from asking her who his father was. Instead, he’d hugged her and promised that he would do the same and never give up.
He remembered doing just that to get on the high school basketball team. The other kids had laughed when he’d turned up at try-outs. He’d convinced the coach to give him a shot and the snickers and outright teasing had slowly been silenced as he weaved his way around the bigger boys, outrunning most of them and proving he had an uncanny eye when shooting for points, even from the three point line.
It had been harder still to convince the university to take on a sixteen year old, even though he had the scores and scholarship to back him up. He’d had to do some hard talking to convince the Dean that he was ready, willing, and able to handle the rigors of university life.
Blair sighed and lay back, staring up at the ceiling of his room. All of that had been a piece of cake compared to convincing Jim that he was the one person who could help him control and hone his sentinel abilities. In fact, it had taken almost being run over by a garbage truck to get Jim’s attention.
A lot of water had passed under the bridge since then. Not all of it had been smooth. Blair still shivered whenever he thought of Alex Barnes. The memory of drowning was bad enough but the specter of distrust that had hovered over him had been far worse and had only intensified in the days following the leaking of his dissertation.
Jim wanted him back as his partner so the decision should be an easy one. Blair had fought to stay right where he was now, so what was so hard? He reached out and picked up the badge. He didn’t have to fight for his rightful place anymore… Did he?
Silence and solitude had become a haven for Jim since his heightened senses had come online. Often, at the end of hard day, scoping out evidence, using his now finely honed abilities to their limits, he’d come home, exhausted, his nerves screaming with the flood of sensory information, and all he wanted was to just switch off the world, at least for a while.
Blair had made it more bearable. He always seemed to know when Jim was at the limit of his control. Knew just how to talk him through dialing it all down, and strangely, for a man as verbose as Sandburg was, knew just when to leave Jim alone and allow him to gather his strength for another day.
Tonight though, silence was the last thing Jim wanted. He stood and walked over to the balcony and stared out. He thought of dialing up his sight, sending it winging through the night sky, clearing away the darkness like fingertips skimming over a frosted window pane, urging his senses on, far beyond the reach of most humans, but his heart wasn’t in it, his thoughts too consumed knowing Blair was in his room, about to make what was one of the most momentous decisions of his life.
It wasn’t the hardest decision, Jim knew that. That had come days before when Blair had held his press conference, effectively shooting his career and his Holy Grail down in flames. This came close though and Jim hoped that Blair would understand that what Jim had said about him being one of the best cops he knew had not just been a platitude, a grateful thanks for getting his own life back.
Turning, he walked back to the couch and picked up his beer from the coffee table then decisively put it back down and walked over to Blair’s room. He hesitated for a moment then raised his hand to knock. The door opened at the same moment and he took a step back.
Blair smiled at him. “Getting impatient, huh?”
Jim shrugged. “You’ve been in there a long time. I just thought you might like a beer.”
“Sure. That’d be great.” Blair followed Jim out to the kitchen and accepted the drink. He twisted off the cap and tossed it in the garbage bin, automatically raising his arms in a cheering gesture when he scored a hit. He took a sip of his beer then wandered out to the living room, seating himself on the couch. “So, I guess you want to know what I’ve decided.”
“If you’ve made a decision, yes.”
“I need to know something first.” Blair waited until Jim walked over and sat beside him. “I need to know you’re doing this because it’s what you want. Me being your partner. Not because you feel some misplaced sense of guilt over what I did.”
“I already told you that you’re the best cop I’ve worked with,” Jim said. He knew though there was more to Blair’s question. He paused a moment then added, “Yes, I feel guilty over what happened and no, it isn’t misplaced.” He held up a hand when Blair opened his mouth to speak. “Anymore than yours is. We both know that what you did was foolish but me believing you did it deliberately to garner recognition and kudos for yourself was even worse. So, no, I’m not asking you to be my official partner because I feel like the world’s biggest heel, even though I do. I’m asking you because I know you’ll continue to be the best partner I could have, and selfishly, I don’t think I’ll ever have the full control over my senses that I want.”
“Always another curveball coming up just when we think we’ve got it figured out,” Blair added.
“Exactly,” Jim replied fervently. “But if you don’t want to do this… for whatever reason, I’ll accept that.”
Jim waited a moment for Blair to continue. “Okay, and…?”
Blair looked puzzled for a moment then grinned and nodded. “Oh! Okay and okay. Yes, I want to be your partner.”
“You know going to the Academy is non-negotiable?”
“I know but I also know I can handle it. After everything that’s happened in the past few days, it’ll be a piece of cake.”
Jim picked up his beer and clinked the bottle against Blair’s. “If you have any problems while you’re there, I’ll have your back.”
“Thanks.” Blair smiled suddenly. “It’s a bit strange, you know?”
“What’s that?” Jim asked.
“Everything I’ve wanted to do, I’ve always had to fight to get it, to achieve my dreams and then the one thing I always wanted more than anything, I didn’t have to fight for at all.”