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Blair sighed, he never knew his ceiling could be so interesting. He was lying on his bed staring up at it as though the answers were there. They weren't. He'd been trying to figure out how he'd allowed his tight control over his emotions get so far out of control. Blair didn't know. The only thing he knew was that he'd done everything but breakdown in front of Simon.

He squeezed his eyes shut as he remembered the look of confusion and pity that had crossed Simon's face as they started their "heart to heart." Blair took a deep breath, held it, and let it out slowly. He wasn't going to go the final step and cry. He wasn't. The day had sucked enough. He didn't need to have Jim hear him blubbering like the baby everyone thought he was and he was certain his Blessed Protector was monitoring him. Well there's an idea. Simon and Jim think of him as a kid and kids cry. Blair shook his head. No. He wasn't going to allow himself to be sucked in any further. His heart had been heavy ever since seeing Roy in the drainage pipe. Blair ran a hand through his hair. He couldn't believe just days ago they were hugging and exchanging memories. Now he was dead.

Another friend. Shit, maybe he didn't deserve any. No, that's not fair, he had Jim. At least he thought he did. After his performance over the past few days, Blair was surprised Jim didn't ream him already on "proper police procedure." In that respect he'd blown it - several times.

Banging his fist on the mattress he changed position so he sat with his back against the wall, feet flat on the bed and hands folded in his lap. He was reliving everything in such startling clarity. Ahhh, the wonders of hindsight. First he hadn't been able to control his distaste, and hatred for Atlas and stormed out of the bullpen. But not before receiving several Ellison glares for his trouble. Jim followed him into the elevator though and then stopped it. Blair supposed that Jim could have forgotten that he hated stopped elevator cars. Blair barely noticed as he took his frustration out on the walls. Jim hadn't yelled at him then, just tried to tell him that he needed to separate himself. Well, it wasn't as easy for him. Jim just seemed to have an on/off switch sometimes, and Blair didn't work like that. He felt far too much.

Blair wasn't sure how many other times he fumbled through proper procedure, but the ranting and subsequent yelling in Simon's office was the icing on the cake. All through the investigation Blair tried to explain his opinions. He'd had good ones since he had known the family for years. He felt those insights would help push the case in the right direction, instead of pouncing on Roy's brother. Blair tried to explain, in his normal hyper and passionate way, but they didn't listen.

They never do.

He banged his head against the wall as the feelings of inadequacy returned. Why had he bothered? It seemed as though they never listened to him. Oh sure they heard him, but to listen, well that's different. They would have to respect him for that to happen. Who could respect a long haired grad student who plays cops and robbers?? Take today, Jim and Simon kept right on discussing the case, as though he wasn't standing there. He even talked louder, trying to get his point across, but only received a sidelong look from Jim and barely contained irritation from Simon. Blair rolled his head back and forth against the wall as he groaned, remembering the confrontation with Simon. God, how humiliating, he might as well been Simon's son the way he was blubbering on about how no one shows appreciation for him.

Again he banged his head against the wall, wishing the pain could take away the memories. No such luck. The worst part was he was sure Jim listened in, no he didn't know for sure but it was a feeling he had. Jim tried to make light of the whole thing, with the play boxing in the elevator, but it was all forced. Maybe Blair wasn't giving Jim enough credit, but Jim knew the Captain was pissed, so he may have wanted to make sure Simon didn't rip his head off, even though Blair felt he deserved it.

All his life Blair had to prove himself, push himself that much further just to ensure his happiness. A nasty chuckle escaped his lips as he closed his eyes, things still hadn't changed. Blair didn't know why he tried so hard to fit in at the station, he was definitely the circle peg trying to shove itself into a squared shaped opening. But he liked it there, liked helping Jim. But however hard he worked or how much he was there, it just didn't seem to matter. He's still called kid or Hairboy - not that he hated those names, but no one else got called by anything other than their name. Blair? He's got nicknames aplenty! How can anyone take him seriously?

Blair sighed again, he'd been doing that a lot since shutting himself away in his sanctuary, and moved so he sat on the edge of the bed, elbows on knees, head forward so his hair fell around his face. Running his hands through his hair, he still wasn't any closer to reconciling anything, but he had to face Jim sooner or later.

He grinned sadly in the dark, maybe later was better.

 

 

Jim stood at the balcony doors, contemplating the view of the bay and listening to his roommate attempting to beat himself senseless in futile recriminations in that tiny back room.

He sighed a little, wondering what Blair was thinking. He had a general idea of course, the feelings of being overlooked. Jim wasn't too sure where this was coming from. Didn't Blair already control the Sentinel thing, a good portion of the loft and most of Jim's eating habits?

He tilted his head, shifting his view a little closer to home. Of course some of this was probably stemming from old childhood fears and habits. Things Sandburg had let slip in small unknowing moments led Jim to believe that, as a child, he was always on the outskirts of Naomi's doings. Left to his own and overlooked until her projects were finished. There were still traces of that lingering into adulthood. He could see it in her infrequent visits and hard-to-get-in-touch-with addresses. In a flash of insight he realized that he had wished for the complete opposite as a child. To be overlooked, to be left alone for a while instead of the constant pushing, judging and competition. To be a kid tossing a Frisbee because he wanted to, not because he was trying for a scholarship or a place on the team. To have had a normal relationship with his brother. Jim ran a hand over his hair in vague frustration.

Blair seemed to have overcome that, turning into his gregarious, people-loving self. Knowing Sandburg, it was probably inevitable, just brought out earlier and stronger by his unorthodox childhood. And really for the most part Jim blessed that in his roommate. It made so many things so much easier. But his own childhood training made it so difficult to let Blair know, or at least know beyond the realm of the polite or even the macho guy-guy thank you's. He was hopefully working on it though.

And Sandburg had had a really rough couple of months. With his friend Janet being murdered and Incacha dying in their arms, there had been a long series of nightmares from those. Several intense enough that he'd felt justified in waking up his new official shaman. Now - just after everything had been processed and mostly readjusted, this happens. Sandburg loses another friend. This one also having a long, involved history with Blair, rich and full. Another one, brutally and senselessly murdered. The only thing he could see differently this time was that Roy hadn't been trying to help Blair on a case. For that, Jim was thankful. Blair didn't need the added guilt.

A particularly loud thump from the other bedroom made him wince and turn. No, Jim judged that Blair was still not quite ready to talk. Seating himself on the sofa, he went over again the plaintive arguments his Guide had made in Simon's office today.

 

 

Blair had enough wrestling his demons with himself, it was time to paint on a happy face and face Jim. He smirked at his own words. Like the Sentinel was actually going to believe him, it won't take long for Blair to be found out. Best to just be… well however the hell he was being.

Sulky. Petulant. Whiny. Such wonderful things to be Blair thought. With a final shake of his head, he headed toward the door. Might as well get the confrontation over with. Blair wondered if he was going to get the concerned Jim, trying to make him eat, always giving him apprehensive glances. Or was he going to get the irritated macho man that was going to lecture him about acting his age. Blair wasn't sure which one was better, both had their down sides, but as the observer reached for the knob he decided that concerned was the way to go.

With that, he pulled opened the door and walked into the kitchen. He had expected Jim to be in the living room, either on the couch or standing by the balcony doors; a favorite place when emotional events happen to them. But he wasn't. Instead Jim had been walking toward the refrigerator, and hence into Blair, knocking him back a couple of steps.

 

 

Jim sighed. He was never a patient man, and even less so when a person he cared about was hurting. But Jim promised himself that he would wait for Blair to emerge from his room himself. No taking him noodles or anything, just wait. Blair did it all the time so Jim figured it wouldn't by that hard. He was wrong. It was tough, long and painful.

Popping up from the couch he started to pace. After several trips back and forth he wandered to the balcony doors, but the sight held nothing of interest so he started his pacing again. The longer it took Sandburg to come out the more unsettled Jim became. With one last trip to the doors Jim threw his hands up in disgust. Dinner. Blair may be hungry, he was hungry; so he'd make dinner. Have it waiting, or almost done by the time Blair came out. Maybe the noise of him rummaging through the pots and pans would arouse Blair and he'd make an appearance. With that settled Jim headed toward the kitchen. First stop was the refrigerator, he needed to know what they had before he could make the plans.

Jim was a man on a mission; his mind was already occupied with food, so he didn't hear Blair's door open. Didn't see his Guide walking straight for him, so the inevitable happened. They collided and both were sent staggering back several steps.

 

 

"Geez, sorry there, Chief." Jim reached out to steady him but the student was just out of reach.

Blair shook his head, "Sorry man. I didn't see you. My fault." As usual he added in a subvocal mutter. Jim, having heard even the last comment, repressed an urge to grab his Guide by the shoulders and shake some sense into him. "Come on, Chief. I was just about to make dinner but I think we need to talk. How about if I make some tea, you hunt down those new cookies we bought and we discuss this at the table like rational adults?" Apparently stunned speechless, Blair just nodded and dodged around Jim towards the kitchen cupboards. Quickly making his way back around the island, Jim started heating the water and pondered the tea selections. A few quiet minutes later he was setting two mugs of flavored tea next to the napkins and cookies Blair had set on the table.

To say that Blair was shocked as he heard Jim suggest talking, would have been an understatement. Not only that, but it seemed Jim was in a lighthearted mood. That wasn't one of the options that had crossed his mind before he came out to the kitchen. But Blair figured he could work with it, he liked to talk, he liked Jim in this mood, he just wasn't too keen on the idea of explaining himself. And Blair figured Jim wasn't too comfortable with the situation either if the spinning of his mug was any indication.

He felt sorry for his friend and decided to start, what else did he have to lose? Dignity? Oh no, he'd already done that.

"Thanks for the tea man, it's what I needed." Blair offered lamely.

"Sure. Good flavor?"

Blair had to smile. "Yes." He shook his head before he continued and when he looked up Jim was looking at him quizzically.

"Jim. Look I know things have been rough with me lately, it's just… well losing Roy, on top of everything else, was too much for me to handle. I know I should've been more professional, more like you, but I can't just turn off my feelings, or check them at the door."

Jim was stricken, this isn't what he'd wanted. "Whoa Chief. I never want that. Your heart is what makes you who you are…"

"Yeah a man who acts like a child. I figured that out already Jim." Blair sounded defeated.

Jim was clueless, he didn't understand what Blair was saying, or trying to say, and Blair only had to take one look at Jim to know it too.

Blair sighed. "After my little stunt with Simon, I understand why he calls me 'kid.' Let's not forget to mention the elevator scene too man.," he added bitterly.

"Sandburg, you've got to stop this. You're a human being, not a machine. Even Simon and I have our bad days."

Blair abruptly stood from the table, knocking into and spilling the tea. "Jim! Don't you get it? This whole…"

"What I get Chief is that you're beating yourself up…"

"I think I should after the way I acted. Christ Jim, I had an emotional breakdown in front of Simon, leaving him to reassure me. Yeah, that's great for gaining people's respect." Blair turned and walked toward the couches and sat on the big one, slumped against the back.

Jim was a mess of emotion. He wanted to throttle Blair until he understood, wanted to kill the bastards that made his Guide doubt himself so much, wanted to comfort until Blair felt better, but most of all he wanted to take away his friend's pain.

"Blair, Simon doesn't think any less of you. It's a normal reaction to the stresses you've been under. Look Chief, even I lose it. So what if it's only once a year?"

Blair's outburst seemed to have expended all of his energy. His head still rested on the back of the couch, eyes closed hands lying at his sides. He felt better, at least he thought he did. Purging all his troublesome thoughts was good for him, even if Jim never touched on them all, or any for that matter. He knew Jim at least listened to his feelings. And that's what counted. With a small smile that Jim couldn't see Blair told himself not to wait so long next time before allowing himself a tantrum.

Since the grad student felt infinitely better, he played along with Jim's mood. It seemed to be contagious. He muttered, "Dan Freeman ring any bells?" in response to Jim's losing it yearly.

Jim grinned and walked over to the couch, leaning against the back of it, his weight resting on folded forearms. "You gained Simon's respect a long time ago. Hell, you jumped out of a plane and carried a rifle for the man. Granted, you didn't shoot it - but you did hold it. And you know you earned mine long before that."

He reached out and gave the back of Blair's neck a gentle shake. "Just pull yourself together, don't ever do it again and... grovel."

Blair just snorted. "Yeah right," he replied with a smile.

~End~