One is a Lonely Number
Notes: Continuing on from 'Finding the OFF switch', in counterpart to sunglow66's Blair in Canada series. Apologies for any obvious mistakes.
The sound of the door slamming echoed through the sterile apartment and rang in Jim Ellison's ears. It had taken less than three weeks for his relationship with Julia to deteriorate to the point where she gathered all her belongings and left. Poker night had been the starting point, but the final nail in the coffin was Jim's stubborn refusal to consider her request for making Blair's old room into an office for her.
He'd come home three nights ago to find the futon covered with colour swatches and Julia with a tape measure in hand. She'd looked up as the French windows were wrenched open and a scowling Jim stood there, asking what the hell she thought she was doing? Their argument on Poker night had simmered under the surface, waiting for a chance to boil over. Julia's habit of marking books in the living room was a constant reminder of Blair, but unlike him, who could mark, drink beer and watch the game all at the same time, she had to have absolute silence.
Tempers flared and Jim had ended up on the futon again, a sense of relief sweeping through him when Julia informed him that she would prefer him to be absent while she packed her things. Her final bitter words still swirled around the loft as the final echoes of the door faded.
"I'm surprised Blair lasted as long as he did living with you, Jim. Or were the rumours true and he was more than a roommate? Obviously he didn't do it for you anymore, or you wouldn't have asked him to move out." The snide tone was new, and the innuendo had caused him to flush, the remembrance of the gossip about him and Blair at the station bringing an uncomfortable twist to his stomach.
Jim shook himself and set about the task of ridding the loft of her scent. Food was cleared out of the fridge and regardless of the chill wind of early winter, the balcony doors were flung open to air the loft. The almost ritual cleansing reminded him sharply of Blair again and there was a bark of bitter laughter in the silence; nearly everything these days reminded him of Sandburg.
"I don't need a babysitter, Simon." Jim slammed into the loft, the door rebounding to almost smack the captain in the face. Simon's hand prevented serious damage to his nose and he closed the door quietly, watching the other man pace the floor in front of the balcony doors.
"Sandburg is not a babysitter, Jim. I just think that you should let him know you've come back on line." Simon rolled his eyes at his use of Blair's terminology for Jim's condition.
"No, definitely not. I can manage without him."
"It's been three weeks Jim, and this last zone was a serious one."
"I can manage." Jim spoke through clenched teeth, his back stiff and his body language screaming for Simon not to get any closer.
"I still thinků"
"Just LEAVE IT, Simon!" Jim swung round and the look in his eyes brought Simon up short. Misery radiated from every pore and dark circles shadowed under his eyes, a testament to Jim's insomnia.
"You miss him."
"Of course I miss him."
"Then let me contact him. He'll come home, I'm sure he will."
"No, not after the way I treated him." Jim turned back to his perusal of the horizon.
"He's not going to hold that against you."
"But I do." Jim murmured to himself.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, Simon." Jim sighed, "I'm okay now."
"Take tomorrow off, Jim. Just think about contacting him, all right?"
"Okay, Simon." He looked over his shoulder at his friend, a slight lift to the corner of his mouth hinting at a smile for him.
"You sure you'll be okay?"
"Positive. Goodnight, Simon." Jim forced himself away from the balcony and stood by the front door.
"Really, I'll be okay." Jim shrugged, "I've been here before, remember?"
"Okay, then." Simon looked long and hard at him and then nodded. He knew what he had to do, and it didn't necessarily involve telling Jim.
The silence wrapped around the still figure curled up under the yellow comforter, the thick quilt no barrier to the sounds of the night. No muffled heartbeat echoed from the room below; the whisper of skin on sheets a distant memory. It wasn't new for Jim to be alone, but the bone deep loneliness he'd suffered since he'd driven Blair away, was.
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