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He’s crying. I think I can count the times I’ve seen Sandburg cry on one hand. I’m certain there have been more, but the ones I’ve seen…

Sure there was the first time Maya dumped him, the death of his friend when the Chopec were here- I think he shed a few for Incacha while he was at it and then once for his friend Roy. There have been other times that he’s cried but usually in the privacy of his room, or the shower, or maybe even his office late at night. Anything so that he doesn’t blow his macho image.

Though I’m not sure he had one- a macho image that is. Sandburg started out trying so hard but still came off as a little flaky, a little "hippy-ish". He’s earned his macho image over the last years by being clever, a survivor and a stand-up guy, but it’s not one he projects.

Nightmares after Lash and the Golden had him screaming. Oh- I take it back; he broke down on me once after each incident. But I know there were more tears than on just those particular nights.

His mother once drove him into a fit, no tears that day though he was mad enough to cry. She’d changed her date of arrival three times, time of arrival four times; the visit was on, it was off, on, off, off, on, on, off. After the last call Sandburg actually grabbed his head in his hands and jumped up and down cursing in some aboriginal language. After a short laugh and a long battle to control the rest of my chuckles, I took him out to a movie and beers. And he got to punch out one of the punks who tried to rob the convenience store we’d stopped at on the way home.

But today, he’s just sitting there, staring vaguely out the glass doors, blue eyes tinged pink and the tears trickling almost absently down his cheeks. He’s made no effort to stop them and the wet mark on his shirt under his chin says he’s been here for a while.

Setting down my keys, the mail and my jacket, I make my way over to him. For several long silent minutes I stand there, just out of his direct line of sight, letting him get used to me, wracking my brains for a reason, a recent tragedy, a missed anniversary, but I’m coming up blank.

Gingerly I settle myself on the coffee table in front of Sandburg. Now that I am in his vision I get minimal reaction. He blinks, stares at me a moment, then shifts his gaze over my shoulder to the sky again. After a few long seconds, his eyes return to mine and I’m caught, pinned by the pain in those tearing, glassy, blue eyes. We exchange a long wordless look and I have no idea what he’s seeing in my face. Eventually, Sandburg closes his eyes, two more tears escaping and when he opens them again, his gaze slides past me once more.

"Hey, Chief? What’s going on?" My tone is gentle, only a level or two above whisper. I stretch a hand out to brush repeatedly over the knee closest to me.

"I…" Sandburg hesitates or after time passes he apparently just stops. More tears trickle as I wait. I rub his knee again, trying to get him to talk.

"I… it’s…" He stutters to a stop again. Takes a shaky breath, "…can’t. Hurts… I…" Sandburg’s mouth snaps shut and he just shakes his head.

I’ve been there. Once or twice in the darkness and solitude of the jungle I reached this point. But just to make sure, "You’re not actually hurt anywhere are you, Chief?" Another headshake is my answer and the continued slow rolling of tears.

I can’t do it now, just letting tears roll down my face like that. Firstly I just can’t bring myself to cry but on the occasions when I do, the sensation of the salty droplets sliding over my hypersensitive skin irritates me amazingly. I have to wipe them immediately and wash soon after from the feel of the salt drying, the tiny hairs my cheeks slicked down and the feel of the evaporation…

Mentally shaking myself, I stand and hand Sandburg my handkerchief. He takes it as I settle next to him on the sofa, drying his face with it and then crumpling it and uncrumpling it in his hand.

Silently, I reach behind him for his far shoulder and tug him to me. He resists for a long moment, but I tug again and this time he gives in. Bending, slouching, twisting a little, Sandburg’s head lands on my shoulder in the crook of my neck. I rest my cheek on top of his head, feeling the soft curls, immersed in the pleasant scent of his shampoo and him.

Eventually, as the sun is setting, I feel the coolness of the growing damp spot on my shirt against my skin.

~End~