Disclaimers: Boys not mine; I just borrow them from time to time when the muse moves me.
Special Thanks to my Beta Queen, Zoe, without whom I'd be doomed to a life of grammatical inaccuracy. Also, God bless my beta Ari, who has the kindness and tenacity to ensure that what you read is worthy.
Thank you to wolfpup for giving my work a great home.
Warnings: Possibly AU, H/C, Angst, Smarm, and usually a bit of colorful language. This story contains a very tragic event that may be very uncomfortable for some to read. IF you are unsure about whether to read this, please scroll to the end for additional warnings.
Spoilers: None to my knowledge.
Jim lifted the beer haltingly toward his lips. It had been a long time since he'd allowed himself to think about that day. It was my fault. he thought guiltily.
"Stop it," he chastised himself harshly. Just pull it together and let it go, he thought bitterly. "Yeah right," he mocked himself openly. "That's all. Just let it go."
Rotating the amber beer bottle in his shaking hands, he set it with the others onto the table with the deliberateness of a drunk and passed out into a troubled sleep.
Blair quietly unlocked the front door to the loft and squeezed through it, hoping that his Sentinel would sleep through the slight sounds and soft lighting from the hall.
Looking around, his jaw dropped as his face adopted a stunned expression. Jim Ellison was sleeping on the couch?! Surveying the dozen or so beer bottles strewn on the coffee table, he amended his thoughts. Correction, Jim Ellison, Sentinel of the Great City, is passed out on the couch! What in the hell is going on here? Blair thought as he gaped at his partner and best friend.
Making his way quietly across the room, he pulled the afghan from the back of the couch, covered his partner and began to clean up the mess of bottles, knowing that his Sentinel would be nauseated by the smell in the morning. Lastly, he resolved that they would talk about this in the morning, turned out the light and went to bed.
Jim groaned as the light from the balcony doors shone brightly in his face. Lurching upward, he staggered to the bathroom racked with nausea and dry heaves and smelling of the beer he abused the previous evening.
He gripped the hard plastic seat with white knuckles as he heard a soft knocking at the door.
"Jim, you okay?" Blair questioned worriedly, reaching for the doorknob.
Jim inhaled deeply and turned his pale face toward the door. "Yeah, be out in a minute!" Then dry heaves had him turning to the bowl once again. Leaning on the cold comfort of the seat, he sighed deeply.
Deciding that he needed to wake up a bit before facing his roommate, he pulled his weak and trembling body from the cool floor and splashed cool water on his face, running his wet hands over his hair as well. He quickly brushed his teeth and gargled with diluted mouthwash hoping it would do some good to remove the vile taste from his mouth.
Time to go face the music, he thought glumly as he took a last look in the mirror and groaned at his haggard appearance.
Jim wove his way down the small hallway and crashed on the couch burying his head in his hands.
Blair, taking in his roommate's pale and haggard appearance offered him a glass of water and a couple of Advil. "Jim?" Blair began softly, knowing with a doubt that his Sentinel could easily hear him. "What's going on here, man? I have never seen you drink like that!"
"Technically, you still haven't. You arrived post drinking, Sandburg," Jim replied wryly.
"True, so tell me what's going on?" Blair all but begged his partner.
"I don't want to talk about it, okay Sandburg!" Jim snapped from beneath the blanket.
"Look, Jim. I don't want to push you on this, but talking about it will probably help," Blair suggested helpfully.
"Drop it, Sandburg!" Jim growled angrily.
Blair raised his hands in front of him defensively. "Okay, man. It's okay. Take it easy, Jim," Blair reassured as he crossed to the kitchen to get Jim some more water and then made his way back to his friend's side. "Here, take this. At least it should help your head some. I called Simon and told him you were sick... No, I didn't tell him with what, before you ask. He said to give him a call later if you need anything," Blair paused, looking around the loft. "I'm gonna give you a little space right now, but I'll be back by dinner. That's about 5 o'clock, okay?" Blair asked, eyeing his partner worriedly. "Call me if you need anything," he finished as he slung his backpack on his shoulder and headed out the door.
Blair tentatively opened the door to the loft with a sigh. He hoped that Jim would be a little more responsive to his offer to listen. Blair was still disturbed by the amount of beer that Jim had consumed, knowing that his Sentinel was generally very temperate in deference to his senses.
"Oh, man," Blair sighed dejectedly under his breath as he realized that Jim was in the exact position he had left him in just over five hours ago.
Blair refilled Jim's glass with water and grabbed a glass for himself, then made his way back to his hurting friend.
"Jim?" Blair whispered reaching out to touch the shoulder of his partner dozing on the couch, his shoes marking a noticeable depression on the arm of the couch. "Come on, man. Time to get up. You've been lying there most of the day," Blair prodded, gently pulling Jim up to sit at one end of the sofa.
Steel blue eyes penetrated concerned indigo ones as Jim growled at his Guide for forcing the issue. "Just let it go, Sandburg. It's none of your business," Jim snapped, more forcefully than he had intended, nearly shoving Blair from the sofa.
"Jim," Blair replied, turning Jim's face to his to ensure the older man was paying attention. "It is my business when whatever's going on causes you to lose control."
"The senses are fine, Sandburg," Jim grumbled.
"I'm not talking about the senses, man. I'm talking about my friend, you know, Jim Ellison, the man," Blair intoned lightly, never once allowing his gaze to stray from Jim's blazing eyes.
Jim softened at Blair's sincere reply and studied his Guide's distressed expression. Scrubbing his face with both his hands, he reached for the water and began to take a long drink.
Blair waited patiently for his friend to begin, as he ran nimble fingers through his dark curly hair. Patiently, he waited, knowing Jim's quiet contemplation was determining the direction that the conversation would go, assessing whether he could trust his Guide with one more piece to the puzzle that was Jim Ellison.
Jim moved his hands hastily up his face and drew them roughly over his short hair. Scrubbing the top his head with one hand, he sighed deeply and drew in a deep breath, bringing his teary, red eyes to bear on his partner.
"When Carolyn and I first married, everything was great. The first few months seemed almost too good to be true. After about six months, I came late after a stakeout and she was waiting for me. She was anxious and I wasn't sure what was so important that she couldn't wait until the morning," Jim paused, drawing in more air to continue.
Blair smiled gently as he watched his friend divulge a part of his past that he'd previously been unwilling to share. Aside from a few references, Jim never allowed intimate discussion of his relationship with Carolyn or any other members of his family. Blair was awed at the trust his partner was displaying in revealing these things to him now.
Jim got up from the couch and pacing the loft continued his narrative.
"Caro has always been a beautiful woman," Jim sighed, as he ran his hand over his mouth. "She met me as I came in the door and told me we needed to talk. Scared the shit out of me. She had to work early and was always, without fail, in bed by eleven, but this time she wasn't," he paused, smiling at the memory. "She smiled at me and told me that she was... that we were... pregnant," Jim choked out and tears leapt to his eyes in remembrance of the awe he felt at that admission.
Blair smiled sadly at his Sentinel, waiting for the other shoe to fall. "What happened next, Jim?"
Jim smiled briefly as the memories surfaced in his mind, causing long forgotten emotions to surge forth. "I was so... so... I don't know... thankful. I was grateful that everything was okay even though the news was... very unexpected. She was on the pill so we didn't expect to get pregnant. We were working on our careers first to get them in full swing before we added a baby to the mix. Even so, we were excited. We talked about it the entire weekend and had decided to wait until the second trimester to tell anyone."
Jim turned away and headed to the kitchen for a beer. "You want one, Chief? I don't think I can do the rest of this without a little help," he admitted soberly.
"Yeah, thanks," Blair stated as he took the bottle from his partner and took a long draw.
Jim swallowed heavily the first half of the bottle, then continued his dialogue. "So anyway, Caro and I decided that we should tell everybody at the Christmas party. We thought it'd be this great news to share with everyone at the holidays," he whispered bitterly.
Blair laid his hand gently on Jim's shoulder encouraging him to continue.
Jim rotated the bottle between his palms and forged on. "Everybody was thrilled, especially Simon. He was like a kid at Christmas. He handed out cigars to everyone, even Caro," Jim laughed at the memory.
"On the way home, we were talking about the baby and all our plans. Caro was about 17 weeks along, and man, Blair, she looked fantastic," Jim croaked out as tears started to roll down his face. "I never saw the car," he whispered under the hands that were now covering his face to block out the soft sobs echoing through him.
"You were in a car accident?" Blair asked, wanting to make sure that he had heard the soft words correctly.
Jim nodded, then looked away. "Drunk driver on the way home from a party. Didn't have a scratch on him. We... we lost the baby and everything kinda went to hell after that."
Jim turned as he heard his Guide's soft intake of breath. Tears were rolling freely down Blair's face at the pain and loss his best friend had suffered. "I'm so sorry, Jim," he sighed breathlessly, tears choking off any further reply.
Jim smiled gratefully at his partner for his understanding and compassion. Blair always felt things so deeply. "True to form, I didn't want to talk about it. I just needed to keep going. I couldn't stop. It would all fall apart if I stopped. I... I just shut everything down, except the job. Carolyn kept trying to draw me out. Hell, she even signed us up for grief counseling, but a case came along and I bailed on her," Jim spat through grinding teeth.
"It's okay, Jim. It was a horrible accident and you were dealing with it the only way you knew how." Blair comforted his friend.
"Yeah, and it cost me everything. She served me with the papers three months later. I guess, she'd had enough. I signed them without a second thought. I couldn't trap Carolyn. I was completely shut down and I couldn't let her see that losing our baby had almost killed me," Jim sighed, agitatedly brushing the tears from his face. "She took a leave of absence for awhile and when she came back, we just went on with our work like nothing had happened," Jim recounted bitterly.
"What caused all this to come back for you now, Jim?" Blair inquired quietly.
"Last night... on the way home from work, I took a call for an accident and the driver of one of the cars was a pregnant woman. She was hit by a drunk driver and..." his voice broke as his emotions threatened to engulf him and his jaw worked as he tried to regain some control. "She looked so peaceful, Chief. But when I listened for her heartbeat... I couldn't find it or the baby's. She and the baby... they died, Chief..." He choked out around a broken sob.
Wiping his eyes, he glanced up at Blair. "I guess it all just came back when I got home. One minute I was handling it, then I started thinking about what her husband must be feeling - to lose his wife and child in an instant because some stupid asshole got into a car drunk. The pain of that loss would be crushing. The next thing I remembered was Carolyn walking out the door crying, then I remembered why and then it all went to hell. I just grabbed a bottle of beer and started drowning," he replied hazily.
"I wish you had called me, Jim. I would have come home," Blair informed his partner, his eyes flashing with pain.
"Me too," Jim finished, looking away embarrassedly, his lips drawing up into a thin line.
"You've never talked about the baby with anyone?" Blair questioned, unable to hide the compassion he felt for his Sentinel and marvel at the quiet strength and determination with which he carried on after such a heartbreaking loss.
Jim shook his head. "I tried to put it behind me, Chief. It was a really bad time," Jim managed in his discomfort.
"Well I'm glad that you finally talked about it. Maybe, it'll help you come to terms with some of it," Blair spoke, comforting his partner with a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Maybe," Jim whispered, his eyes drawn across the loft and out the glass doors to the darkness befalling the sky.
Two days later...
"I wanted you to meet him," Jim's voice drifted off into the wind as he pulled his jacket snugly about his shoulders in the Cascade drizzle.
"Thank you," Blair whispered back, tears streaking his face as the wind whipped his hair about his face. Blair, going down on one knee, removed his glove and ran his fingers over the stone face gently.
Bennett Joseph Ellison
James Joseph and Carolyn Christine
"Our Blessed Little One"
Smiling softly, he paused at the child's name as he repeated the motion and sighed, "Your daddy is one of the best, little one. And he misses you very, very much. Hope you know how much he will always love you."
Blair stood up slowly and stepped back to give Jim a minute alone with his son. The love and respect he felt for his friend's ability to survive warmed him on this chilly morning.
After a few minutes, Jim turned and placing his arm across his partner's shoulders, walked away from the guilty thoughts he'd spent years forging and into a future that would eventually bring him peace.
Additional Warning: This piece deals with miscarriage and the pain that can carry on from that. If you have had a miscarriage or know of someone who has, my heart and prayers go out to you for carrying the burden of such pain.