Summary: Epilogue for Love Kills. Originally posted to the SentinelAngst list.
For Toni. A special story just for you.
Disclaimer: Jim and Blair aren't mine; they belong to Pet Fly and Paramount. Vision sends Becky a big thank you for all of her work.
Crumpling the paper into a tight ball, Jim tossed it over the railing. Five pieces of paper and two wasted hours had taken their toll on the already exhausted detective. Crossing his arms, Jim rested his head on the cool wood of the table. The quietness of the loft did little to erase the screaming in his head. His eyes drifted closed, the images replaying for the millionth time. Lila's lifeless body cradled in his arms, unseeing eyes turned away from his, blood oozing between his fingers...
Blair opened the door quietly, doing his best not to disturb his hopefully slumbering partner. Carefully lowering his keys into the basket, Blair let his eyes sweep the dimly lit loft. The only light was the faint glow of Jim's desk lamp coming from his upstairs bedroom. Blair moved his way across the loft idly kicking at the balls of scrunched up paper. Hesitating at the bottom of the stairs, Blair froze at the sound of Jim's mumbled words. "Lila ... sorry ... so sorry ... love you."
A lump caught in Blair's throat as the mumbled words increased in volume and intensity. Taking the stairs two at a time, Blair moved swiftly to his partner's side. Jim's eyes snapped open as Blair lightly touched his shoulder.
"Whoa, sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to startle you."
Swiping a hand across his face, Jim quickly cleared his sinuses and picked up the pen in front of him. "I must have fallen asleep. Thanks for waking me up. I got to finish this by tomorrow."
Plopping down on the side of Jim's bed, Blair took a long look at his partner. The glow from the lamp accentuated the dark circles under Jim's eyes and his ghostly pale complexion.
Jim flashed Blair a quick gaze and returned to his writing. "There a problem, Chief?"
Nodding, Blair shifted on the bed. "I'd say so. This isn't going to just disappear, Jim. You have to deal with it. Yell, scream, cry, do something. You can't just let it eat you up like this. You loved her. I want to here you say that."
Jim focused his attention on the paper in front of him, trying desperately to blink away the tears that had started to blur his vision. "Look, I've got work to do. Simon told me to take the report home to finish it. I could use some help."
Leaning to rest his arms on his knees, Blair sighed. "What do you need?"
"Um...I'm kind of blurry on the details here. After the suspect was shot, how long until I got to her? Couple seconds, right?"
"You felt her die, didn't you? You heard her heart stop."
All at once Jim's control snapped. Rushing past his partner, he bounded down the stairs to the bathroom. Blair followed close at his heels. Moments later the sound of violent retching filled the loft. Weighing his options, Blair moved to a sitting position against the outer wall leading to the bathroom. Drawing his knees up, he waited anxiously until the worst of the vomiting subsided. He could feel Jim's body slump against the wall directly behind him.
"You okay, Jim?"
"Yeah," Jim replied hoarsely.
Closing his eyes, Jim focused on the wall at his back. He could feel Blair's presence even through the thick layers of paint and plaster. The melodic rhythm of his heartbeat and the soft sighing of his lungs lulled him into a deep zone. Jim welcomed the darkness, willingly giving over his mind to the empty solace of the void. Emotions and pain had no place here; hurt and confusion were blissfully absent.
Jim's lack of response forced Blair to his feet. Tentatively peering into the shadowed room, Blair quickly moved in beside his partner. Blair could barely make out the figure on the floor and reached for the light switch to illuminate the room.
A light touch on his leg halted his actions. "No light."
Peering down at his partner, Blair dropped his hand to his side. "I thought you zoned."
Lowering himself to kneel beside his partner, Blair whispered, "What brought you out of it?"
"Your heart skipped a beat."
If Jim had been using his enhanced sight, he would have caught the surprised expression on his partner's face. "You've been listening to my heart? For how long?"
"I don't know. Since yesterday I guess."
"I'm not going anywhere, Jim."
A moment of silence passed between them as Jim tried to take control of his raging emotions.
"Did you hear me, Ellison? I'm not going anywhere."
Biting down hard on his lower lip, Jim squinted to block the tears. "Sure."
Blair wasn't sure whether Jim's last word had been a statement or a question. "Jim, we're partners, you're my best friend. You're like a brother to me."
"Brothers leave too." Jim flinched at his own words and quickly swept a tear from his eye.
Blair shifted closer. "Is that what this is about? Everyone you've ever loved has left you, haven't they?"
Trying to lighten the conversation, Jim joked. "Guess I'm not exactly the lovable type."
Smiling slightly, Blair kept his voice low. "I don't know. I'm kind of fond of grumpy Sentinels. They kind of grow on you. Are you listening to my heart right now?"
"Yes," came the faint reply form his partner.
"What do you hear, Jim?"
Shrugging his shoulders, Jim replied, "I don't know...a steady beat."
"That's right -- I'm not gonna leave you. Do you understand?"
Another long silence as Jim allowed the walls around his heart to crumble ever so slightly. "I better get back to work."
Both men stood and Blair moved towards the doorway. "You get some sleep, Jim. I'll finish the report. I'm getting pretty good at forging your handwriting."
"Is that so? Forgery is a crime, Sandburg."
Blair felt a hand on his back as he moved out of the darkness. Turning to face his partner, Blair smiled. "It's gonna be okay."
Jim's voice cracked as he met Blair's eyes. "I...I did love her."
"I know, Jim, I know."