Author's Note: This is a sequel to The Loft. The story can stand on it's own but makes more sense if you read The Loft first. The way I figure it our poor, dear, muddled anthropologist would have been a little out of it when he first wakes up and more than a little relieved that Jim wants him back. The reality of the deed wouldn't sink in for a little while. But when it did, look out!
Blair sat alone in his room and thought about the implications of the scrap of paper in his hand. /I know the big guy feels guilty as hell about what happened with Alex. Never mind throwing me out of the loft. But to go so far, to sign over a piece of his home. Why did he do that? It wasn't necessary. / He ran his hand through his curly hair in frustration. /I should go to him, tell him that it isn't necessary. Give him back the deed; make him change it back. I'm not going to run out on him, he doesn't need to do this to keep me here./
/I so do not need this. Property tax. Home repairs. Insurance. Maintenance fees. Junk mail. If I accept this, then I have to stay. No more freedom to move on when I get itchy feet. I'll be settled!/
/I've never spent more than six months in one place before in my life. How had the years gone by without the old familiar need for a change of scenery? A need to move down the road, across town, out-of-state? If I accept this then I have to put down roots! I will be Blair Sandburg of Cascade, not Blair Sandburg, citizen of the world./
/The more I think about it the angrier it makes me. How dare he! Is he trying to buy my forgiveness? Does he think he has to give me handouts because I'm a struggling grad student? That I can't afford a place of my own?/
/Jim probably thinks that he has to take care of me. Well he doesn't! Hell, I can take care of myself! I've only been doing it since I was small. Naomi wasn't into being the over-protective hovering parent. I don't need a home to come to when the world gets mean and ugly./
/That's it! We're going to hash this out right now!/ He got up and went to the door of his room. He paused at the door and stared at Jim.
Jim stood on the balcony in the pouring rain. There was such a look of abject misery around the big man that Blair didn't need to see the tears to know that they mingled with the rain. /Aww man. I can't face you now. Not when you're crying. Why isn't anything ever easy with you big guy?/ He turned and went back into the room.
Jim turned his face up to the pouring rain as he heard Blair re-enter his bedroom and close the door. /God Chief, why can't you come talk to me? Can't you forgive me? Can't we get past this? I've tried to give you room, time to heal. Ever since you came back from the hospital, you've been so quiet. I'm afraid that I've lost you for good even though you're here./
/This past week has been hell for me, but it must have been worse for you. Talk to me Blair. Stop avoiding me. I want to help, but I'm afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Give me a clue. Tell me what you need to make it better./
/I'm so afraid that one day that I will come home and you'll be gone. The steady heartbeat of my Guide, the other half of my soul won't be here to greet me. The loft is so empty when you're not here. Do you have any idea how hard it is to listen for you when I get home, Blair? How I stand at the bottom of the stairs and force myself to listen for you? I don't know what I'll do if your heartbeat isn't there some day. Maybe collapse on the stairs and never move again./
Blair sat up on the bed when he heard Jim come in. After several long minutes, he went into the living room. Jim looked up from mopping the floor.
Blair held up the deed and asked "Why?"
"Because you earned it, you deserve it. Hell Chief, you've saved my life, my sanity more times than I care to remember. You never complained no matter how much shit I dumped on you; because you knew that I needed you. Even if I was too dumb to know it. All I can say is thank you for being a better friend than I ever deserved."
Blair looked at him for a long moment then turned and went back into his room.
The next day:
Blair sat in his room and listened as Jim got ready to go to work. /I suppose I should think about going back to work. I dread having to walk by that fountain. The first day's going to be the worst. How can I face my students, my friends, everybody? They'll be talking about what happened. Every time I enter a room the conversations will stop and they'll look guilty . . . Can we say obsessing much? Of course they'll be talking and not necessarily about you! Remember you're not the center of the universe! Even if they are talking about you, it'll die down after a while. Die, now there's a pleasent thought. Relax, will ya? Stop dwelling on what happened. Life goes on, so start living your life! Something else will happen and a new topic will be found./
/As bad as it will be the first few days at Rainer, going back to the squad room will be harder. How am I going to face them? Oh sure, I know that they're my friends, at least I hope so, but everyone's going to be looking at me weird. Well weirder than usual, wondering if I saw a bright light or a tunnel or what. They'll be trying to wrap me in cotton batting if I don't watch out, convinced that I need protecting. I had finally gotten them to start treating me like one of the guys and this had to happen!/
/What about Jim? I wonder how he's been handling things? I hope that they haven't been giving him a hard time. . . Well, he should be long gone now. I just hope that I can get over there and back before his lunchtime call to check up on me and make sure that I eat. I hope Sheila will be able to help me./
Three days later . . .
Jim sat at his desk and listened to the phone ring at the loft, when the answering machine came on he hung up. He stood up and went to Simon's office. He knocked and then entered the room. "Simon, I just tried to call Blair and he's not answering the phone. Is it okay if I swing by the loft to check on him?"
"You're still checking up on him? He probably just went for a walk or something. Cut him a little slack Jim. He's a grown man."
"I worry about him. He's been so. . . I don't know vulnerable lately."
"Go. You won't be worth much until you see for yourself that he's all right."
Five minutes later Simon's phone rang, "Banks."
"Hey Simon, do you know where Jim went? I tried to catch him at his desk but his voice mail picked up." Blair asked.
"He just left to go check on you."
"Oh man, I tried to get home before his call, but I ran out of gas. I think there's something wrong with the fuel gauge."
"Well you just missed him by five minutes. Given the way he drives he should be almost there."
Jim wearily climbed the stairs. At the doorway, he glanced down at the welcome mat at his feet. For a long minute, the words didn't register. Then he threw open the door and entered their home.
The welcome mat read simply Ellison & Sandburg.