Measure of Darkness
Part Six of One Step From Heaven
(Follows Let The Water Come)
"Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." ~ Jung
"Sandburg – "
"Jim – "
"Don't look at him. Just go." I marched to the front door and flung it open. Simon paused but before he could say anything, I lashed out again.
"I thought you were my friend."
Simon looked at me without anger. Instead, I saw understanding and even resigned humor in his eyes.
"I am," he said simply, jerking his head in Jim's direction. "And if he'll just quit being a coward, I will be again."
I closed the door behind him with exaggerated care, resting my forehead against the poster in an effort to calm down and warm up. Even though the room was comfortable, I knew what the problem was – this kind of chill came from within. I was unsurprised when a sweatshirt was draped across my shoulder. Part of me – the six-year-old part of me – wanted to fling it aside, but the cold had seeped into my fingers and toes. I yanked it on, the warmth in the fabric telling me Jim had just taken it off.
Rolling up the sleeves, I took a deep breath and turned around. I may have been mad at Simon for lying to me, but that was nothing compared to what I felt about Jim Ellison. He seemed perfectly calm, like the bomb Simon just dropped hadn't been more damaging than an idle piece of gossip. Standing there in his tee shirt, arms crossed over his chest like he was waiting for a bus, I was on my way to getting madder about his indifference – until I saw the bleakness in his eyes.
He'd expected this – no wonder he'd kept Simon away.
"You bastard," I murmured. "You goddamn bastard."
His shrug died halfway, sending his shoulders downward instead. His eyes followed, ending up somewhere around my socks, and I had to steel myself against the defeated slump of his body. The hurt and anger were coiling tighter within me and before this conversation was over, he was going to feel all of it.
I began slowly, picking my way through my emotions. "Why didn't you – no, wait – what gave you the right to keep this from me?"
His head came up at my interrogative tone. "Right?" he repeated with narrowing eyes.
"You heard me."
"Blair – "
Hearing him speak my name loosened the reins on my anger. "What the hell were you thinking – that you could keep this from me forever? God, what an idiot I was – I thought you wanted to leave the force, to have this – " I flung a hand in the direction of the filing cabinet – "with me!"
My words hit home. He nodded quickly and took a step toward me. "I did – I do. That's why – "
"Simon fired your ass," I finished bluntly. "Not exactly your choice, Jim."
His gaze hardened. "It was all my choice, Sandburg. " He stepped closer, his bowed head almost touching mine, his next words voice low and fierce.
"That's how sacrifices work, remember?"
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