By Martha

He'd asked Jim not to come to the funeral, so Jim had let him go alone. For all of Sandburg's insistence that it was somehow Jim's -- well -- duty or something to share his every public and private grief, when it came to Sandburg's own sorrows, the man was locked up tighter than Fort Knox.

Jim had even tried pushing a little that evening. "I guess you're going to miss Professor Buckner around the department," he blurted out over dinner.

Sandburg's head jerked up and he just looked at him for a moment, dry-eyed, distracted and somehow remote in his grief. "It's gonna be a nightmare finding someone else to sit on my dissertation committee ," he finally said in a flat voice. "Hey, I forgot to mention. Allstate's adjustor finally got out to look at the Corvair, and it's totaled, man. You think you'd have a few hours Saturday morning to drive me around car shopping?"

"Sure. Great. No problem."

"Great?" Sandburg said incredulously. "In what universe is used car shopping ever 'great'?" Then he went back to pretending to eat his dinner, and very late that night as well as the next one, Jim lay awake and listened to him quietly crying in bed.


Saturday morning Jim was out early enough to pick up bagels and cream cheese and lox as well as a newspaper for the want ads. Coffee was brewing and the bagels were ready to go in the toaster when Sandburg finally came stumbling out.

He blinked and scrubbed both hands over his face. His eyes were red again this morning. "What's the occasion?" he asked in a sleep-rough voice.

"Car shopping," Jim declared, pouring a cup of coffee and holding it out to him. "Thought you'd want to get an early start. Want a bagel? I've got garlic and poppy seed."

"Oh." Sandburg didn't take the coffee cup. "That's great, but Molly and a bunch of her friends are driving up to Seattle to see PJ Harvey. Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water ... Anyway, it sounded like fun."

"Oh." Jim set the coffee cup down. "So you're --"

"Yeah. They're gonna swing by and pick me up in about an hour. I gotta get showered and everything before then" He reached for the coffee. "Sorry I forgot."

Jim made himself shrug. "No problem. Who wants to spend Saturday car shopping anyway?"

"Well, yeah, exactly." He disappeared into the bathroom and Jim heard the shower start to run. He stood for a moment longer at the kitchen island, then put the cover back over the lox spread. He was wrapping up the bagels to store them in the freezer when Sandburg suddenly reappeared wrapped in a towel and dripping water all over the kitchen floor.

"Uh, nature boy, do you mind?"

Sandburg just waved a silencing hand at him as he picked up the telephone. He hadn't been in the shower more than a minute, not even long enough for his hair to get completely wet.

"Molly? Hey, it's Blair. Listen, I'm sorry to do this to you, but something's come up and I'm going to have to bag on the road trip... I know, but Leigh can have my ticket. Nah, she doesn't need to pay me back. Yeah. " Blair turned around to look at Jim, half-wet hair dripping in his face. He didn't smile, but his eyes were soft with affection. "Yeah, you could say it was something pretty important. "

Doubt thou, the Starres are fire,
Doubt, that the Sunne doth move:
Doubt Truth to be a Lier,
But never Doubt, I love.
(Hamlet Act 2 scene 2)

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