Title: Pushing Back
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Series/Sequel: sequel to Pushed Too Far, second in the Push series
Disclaimers: PetFly still owns the boys, I'm just borrowing them for a little while. I'll give 'em back.... eventually. <g> No money made, for entertainment purposes only, yadda, yadda, yadda
Notes: This is the continuation of the story I started in Pushed Too Far. Like its prequel this was inspired by the "Blair as nurturer" thread on Senad. Many thanks to Maig for the encouragement when I was stuck, and to Wanda and Gilly for listening when I was figuring out the ending. Second story posted, first attempt at slash. Sorry no sex, maybe in the next one. As always, comments, good, bad or indifferent are welcome.
Summary: Blair pushes back.
Warnings: Spoilers for Remembrance and Love Kills
'I can't do this any more,' Blair thought.
He stood in the doorway of his bedroom, worriedly watching his friend and roommate. Jim was on the balcony, had gone out there as soon as they had gotten home from the McNeil Athletic Field where Lila had been killed. That had been almost two hours ago and he showed no signs of coming in any time soon. He wasn't really doing anything, just staring out at the water, only the occasional small movement reassuring Blair that he hadn't zoned.
'I almost wish he had,' Blair sighed to himself. 'At least then he'd let me help.'
And that was the crux of Blair's problem. His partner's pain was battering at him, demanding that he do something to ease it. He wanted to help, he needed to help --hell, his very soul ached to help; only one thing was stopping him. Jim hadn't asked him to.
Ever since their fight over Jim's relationship with his father, Blair had been careful to only offer his help when Jim had requested it and to otherwise back off and give the man some space. It hadn't been easy -- to see somebody hurting and not do anything went against every instinct he had and it was ten times worse when the person hurting was Jim. But somehow he had handled it; he had even managed not to hover when Jim had been released from the hospital, although he'd had to absent himself from the loft altogether to do so.
Now, standing here watching the most important person in his life wrap his pain in a cloak of isolation, he knew he wouldn't be able to keep it up. It just hurt too damned much.
Gripping his courage with both hands, Blair took a deep breath and started across the loft. He was either going to help Jim or... He stopped that thought right there. He was going to help Jim. There was no alternative.
He stepped out onto the balcony and silently waited for Jim to acknowledge his presence. It took a few minutes but finally the older man stirred and glanced sideways at him.
"What is it, Sandburg?" Jim asked tiredly.
Blair did not like the defeat he heard in his partner's voice and it drove his concern and worry a notch higher. And thereby his frustration as well. "Why won't you ask me?" he demanded.
That brought a look of confusion. "Ask you what?"
"You said when you needed my help you'd ask for it. Well from where I'm sitting, man, it sure looks like you could use some right now. So why won't you ask for it?"
He watched Jim struggle to come up with a reason for a moment before he reached out and laid a hand on the older man's arm. "Why won't you let me help you, Jim?" he asked quietly.
The arm beneath his hand tensed and then relaxed as its owner let out a long sigh. "Because there's nothing you can do, Chief."
Encouraged by Jim's use of the nickname, Blair decided to push just a little. "I can listen," he prodded gently.
Silence stretched between them for long minutes. Then, just as Blair was despairing of getting his partner to open up to him, Jim spoke. "I don't know how I'm supposed to feel," he whispered.
Blair quickly suppressed the tiny thrill of triumph he felt at getting Jim to talk and concentrated instead on what he had said. "You're not 'supposed' to be feeling anything, Jim. Emotions aren't right or wrong, they just are. You feel what you feel." He paused, watching the muscle in Jim's jaw twitch, then continued in soothing tones. "So what are you feeling?"
"Anger. At Lila for lying to me, at myself for not seeing through it. Disappointment that she wasn't what she pretended to be. Guilt. I promised I'd protect her if she turned herself in; instead she died trying to save me." He was silent for a moment, his jaw muscle twitching in double time. When he continued, his voice had again dropped to a whisper. "Betrayed."
There was so much pain in that one word that it almost broke Blair's heart. Again he reached out and laid a hand on Jim's arm, wordlessly offering what comfort he could.
"I suppose I should be used to it by now, I mean it's not like it's the first time somebody I've cared about has lied to me." The bitterness in Jim's voice did not quite manage to mask the hurt. "Hell, sometimes it feels like I've been betrayed in one way or another by everyone who's ever loved me."
"Not me," Blair declared vehemently, so focused on Jim that he didn't really think about what he was saying. "I'll never do that to you."
Jim went absolutely still, then turned to look at him, pinning him with a strangely intent gaze. "You saying you love me Sandburg?"
Blair froze, staring back at Jim with what he was sure was a "deer caught in the headlights" look. This was *so* not how he had planned on broaching that particular thorny subject. He hadn't really planned on broaching it at all actually; fantasies and fondest wishes aside, the potential losses were just too high.
'Still, the situation isn't totally irretrievable,' he thought to himself. 'A little well placed obfuscation and I can keep my home, my best friend and my life.' Blair opened his mouth, prepared to talk about friendship, brotherhood, the Sentinel/Guide bond, anything but *that* kind of love....
"Yeah, I am. I do."
Blair stifled the urge to clap a hand over his mouth in an effort to call the words back. 'Where did that come from? Am I missing something here? I don't recall handing over control of my vocal cords to my id. And we're going to have a long talk about that later,' he warned his subconscious mind. 'You hear me in there? Fantasies are all well and good but blurting out admissions of love that way...
'Oh god. I just admitted to my best friend that I loved him. My ex-military, cop, very straight best friend. Who is currently trying to deal with the death of a *woman* that he thought might have been "the one." I am so stupid sometimes! I came out here to help him deal with his pain and instead I dump *this* on him. Well, hopefully killing me will at least help him blow off some steam.' Blair took a deep breath, trying to get his incipient panic under control. 'Breathe Sandburg,' he told himself sternly. 'Passing out from lack of oxygen is not the thing to do, however attractive the idea might be right now.'
He couldn't bear to look at Jim so he stared blindly out at the water, concentrating on not hyperventilating as he waited for the axe to fall.
The softly spoken name was not what he had been expecting. Neither was the gentle touch to the side of his face, silently urging him to turn his head and look at his partner.
When he did so, he felt his breath catch in his throat for an altogether different reason than before. The anger and rejection he'd feared and more than half expected to see were nowhere to be found. Instead Jim's mouth was curled up into a slight smile and his eyes shone with warmth and affection.
"I do too," he said seriously.
"You do?" Blair repeated, not quite daring to believe.
Jim's smile widened and he moved the hand that he still held against the younger man's cheek to stroke through unruly curls. "Yeah, Chief, I do."
Blair felt a wave of joy wash over him as the reality of what Jim was telling him finally sunk in. He hugged his partner tightly, grinning like an idiot. "Man, I never thought you'd feel that way about me."
He felt Jim wrap his arms around him and drop a kiss onto the top of his head. "I've felt like this for a while now. I just didn't know how to tell you." He chuckled, sending warm vibrations through Blair's chest. "Should've figured you'd show me the way, Chief. You always do."
Sighing contentedly, Blair snuggled closer. "Guess that's why I'm the Guide then."
Another kiss was dropped onto his head. "I should have learned to trust your instincts by now." The arms holding Blair tightened. "That thing with my father... I know you meant well. I just wasn't ready to listen. I didn't mean to push you away like that."
Blair sighed again, feeling the last of the hurt and anger left over from that fight melt away. "I know you didn't Jim."
"I regretted it as soon as I did it. When you just turned and walked away like that..." Jim's voice had grown husky and lowered in volume. "I thought that maybe I'd pushed you away for good."
Blair leaned back a bit to look up into his partner's eyes. "Never going to happen man. I just figured you needed some space. And I was pushing kinda hard."
"No harder than you usually do." Jim shrugged then continued rather shyly. "And I've kind of missed your pushing since then."
The younger man grinned, feeling another spark of happiness at the admission. "That's good to know because I don't think I can *not* push. I nearly ruptured something restraining the impulse these last few days."
"Can't have that can we?" Jim replied with a matching grin. Then, turning serious again he said, "I'll probably try to push you away again... but that doesn't mean I want you to stop pushing back."
"I'll never stop Jim. What we have is too important to me -- you're too important to me." Blair met his partner's gaze his eyes full of love. "Moreso now than ever."
Jim smiled, his own feelings shining in his eyes. "Same here Chief, same here." He leaned down and placed a first kiss on Blair's lips.
With a happy murmur Blair gave the kiss all of his attention. There were still some issues they had to talk out but those could wait until they had finished exploring this new development in their relationship. And then when the time was right, they'd deal with those issues and whatever else life threw at them... together.