For The Lave of Me, Would You Save None of Me?
* lave - the remainder, the rest (chiefly Scot).
The loft was dark. He'd left the lights off, not wanting to ruin the mood by turning brightness on, chasing away the obscurity with the harsh visibilty of reality. The loft was silent; once he would have been hesitant to stand here, in the dark, for he had been on the receiving end of too many attacks here in his own home. But in the last few months he'd learned not to be afraid.
Tonight he simply didn't care.
Tonight was going to be special. A night looked forward to for weeks, because ever since they had gone to bed together he'd known that he held a new, wonderful, glorious place in his friend's life. But special even more for the night last week, when, exhausted and satiated, his lover had smiled delightedly at him and asked what he wanted.
Blue eyes had glinted in the last of the day's light. Mischief had suggested itself, but Jim had forestalled it with a moderately gentle bite to the shoulder. "Behave yourself."
"What?" Blair had risen up onto his elbows. "You just bit *me*! Who should behave?"
"You." Jim nibbled again at the biceps still near his mouth. "Or I'll take you seriously."
"Oh... yeah?" He'd wriggled against his lover, feeling absolutely no response from either of them but not minding in the least. "You'd really--"
Jim had kissed him that time. When he'd leaned his head back onto the pillow, he'd said again. "Whatever you want. As long as it's legal, safe, and costs less than $5,000."
His eyes had grown big at that. "You're kidding. Five thousand? You have five K sitting around to spend on me?"
Jim had shaken his head. "No. That's the limit on my credit card. I'd make you pay it, though."
There had been nothing to say to that. Blair had waited for Jim to realise that, and then settled in to consider the offer. "Anything I want?" he'd asked, dreaming some of his favourite dreams.
"Mm-hm." Jim had once again started nibbling skin, and was threatening to distract Blair from his thoughts.
But Blair had decided what he wanted, and knew he couldn't pass up the chance. He'd scooted over to lie on top of Jim, getting his attention -- for at least a moment. "I want dinner. A nice, romantic, extraordinary dinner." He had leaned down and kissed the smooth chest beneath him. "Then, soft music and slow dancing, followed by an evening of as much love as we can create."
Jim had frowned. "Dancing? Chief, we can't--"
"Here. I want to have dinner and dancing here, at home. So neither of us has to worry about anything, or anyone. I just want you. For an entire evening, making love in as many ways as we can imagine."
When he'd finished, Jim had grinned and rolled them over, pinning him underneath. "I have a pretty good imagination. But maybe we should practise...."
Words had been surrendered then, for more basic things. He had believed that both were exhausted, but that stopped neither of them from making caresses. They had closed on each other again with hands and mouths, touching and roaming freely as they'd learned to do only a few short weeks ago. Quick learners, he had teased his lover once.
Neither had become erect again but neither had cared. The sensation of skin on skin, of warm muscles brushing close, had been more than enough. When they had lain back, finally exhausted enough for sleep, he had leaned his mouth against his lover's skin and breathed, slowly, the words.
He had fallen asleep, feeling Jim's hands pressed gently against his back.
Nothing had been said about the plans, since that night. He was looking forward to it, found it difficult to concentrate on even the easiest of tasks. His students had taken advantage of his lack of attention and convinced him to forego a Friday quiz in favour of leaving class early. He'd realised what they were up to, but hadn't cared enough to stop them. It gave him ten extra minutes to waste in his office, though, waiting impatiently for time to go home.
He'd made sure his weekly schedule was up-to-date this week, so Jim could make his plans. The calendar in the kitchen was clearly marked 'home by 5' and he didn't want to risk ruining anything by being home early. Or late -- he had stared at the clock for nearly twenty minutes, until succumbing to the need to go. He'd taken the long way home, to make sure he was not early.
When he'd arrived, the loft had been dark.
He had opened the door carefully, not sure what to expect. When nothing met him, he stepped inside and let the door close behind him. Scanning the darkened apartment as best he could -- knowing that his lvoer could see him clearly, if he were watching, he put his keys and jacket by the door. A tentative step towards the living room, and then he'd stopped.
He'd waited, listening. There was nothing. Cautiously he'd walked through the living room, straining to hear sounds of his lover breathing, moving, anything. Smiling, he'd reached the stairs. He didn't call out, if Jim had wanted to answer he'd have done so the first time. He carefully began climbing the stairs. He'd thought dinner and dancing would be first, but apparently Jim had had other ideas. He went upstairs to the bedroom.
Jim wasn't there. A quick search of the upstairs revealed he wasn't there *at all*. He'd gone downstairs, then, and looked more carefully around, snapping on the kitchen light along the way. Jim was not home. He hadn't *been* home. There were no notes, no signs of a hasty departure to get one last thing from the store, no signs that anything was even being prepared.
As if there was nothing planned, at all.
He stood in the living room, lights off again. The loft was dark, and he was waiting. Thinking about what he wanted, tonight, thinking about which -- if he had to choose -- he wanted most. If Jim were very late, they might have time for only one of his requests. Tonight, at any rate. If Jim were late he had every intention of demanding that they spend the rest of the weekend meeting the rest of the requests.
At seven fifteen the answering machine kicked on -- he'd forgotten the ringer was still off, from last night's more rambuncious and uninterruptable activities. He went to stand by the machine, smiling as he recognised Jim's voice. Frowning as he heard the message.
"Hey, Chief. We wrapped up the Benson case -- finally! Got the guy red-handed, too. Murphy and Daniels and the rest of us are heading out to Sanjo's celebrate. Don't wait up!"
He'd heard talking and laughing in the background. Jim sounded hyped; he'd seen his lover many times after a case was wrapped up successfully. He knew that beer, pool, and the company of other cops was the usual way of relaxing after a case. He knew that his partner had never told anyone at the station that they were lovers.
He didn't understand how Jim had forgotten. He'd rewound the tape and left the phone turned off, moving back to the living room to stare out the large picture windows. The city was gearing up for the night. Friday night, people would be out partying until the wee hours of the morning. Friends he knew would be gathered at certain clubs, ready and willing to welcome his company.
He sat on the couch and did nothing.
Sometime later the machine kicked on again. He tensed, wondering if it was Jim -- had he remembered? Was he calling to apologise? Would he--
"Hi, sweetie!" Mom. "I guess you're out having fun. Or maybe you're in having fun? Happy birthday and use lots of condoms. Love you! Bye!"
He picked up his keys and headed out.
He had no idea where he was going; he wasn't headed anywhere, really. He eschewed the car, knowing from long habit that driving in this mood would be stupid and dangerous. Instead he walked, down the streets away from the apartment.
He knew the areas in every direction well, and made no attempt to direct his route. He simply walked, thinking as little as possible about anything that hurt.
It wasn't very possible. Jim had forgotten. It was only a week ago that they'd made plans, and he'd forgotten. Forgetting for a while in the height of the excitement -- that he could forgive. He'd forgive it later, of course, because right now... Right now he was alone, walking the streets.
Not thinking about how often his lover forgot simple things. Not thinking about how he had to work at getting the most basic of admissions of concern or affection. Not thinking about how often his presence seemed to fade into the background of his lover's life. He walked, hands shoved into jeans pockets to keep them warm. He didn't think about it at all.
He found himself at a neighborhood he hadn't been to in over a year. He stopped when he realised what he was looking at. Surely he wasn't this upset? Surely he wasn't this desperate. He hadn't thought he'd want to come here... but apparently some part of him did. Some part of him *had*, for here he was, standing at the corner of Main and 49th, staring at the people who never seemed to change.
Only a moment's more hesitation, then he went on. Headed for Jerry's. Maybe Jerry would be glad to see him.
He groaned and rolled over. His first thought was his back hurt. Stiff, sore, unused to such things anymore. He rolled onto his back, staring up at grey walls. His legs hurt, his arms hurt, his stomach hurt. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Maybe this wasn't the brightest thing he'd done. It had been a long time, after all, and he'd forgotten how much he'd hated the mornings after.
He looked over and smiled in spite of his pains. Jerry was sitting beside him, eyes crinkled against the morning sun. "What you groaning 'bout?"
"Morning, Jerry. What's for breakfast?"
The other man held out a paper cup, and white wrapped bundle. "I borrowed yer wallet. Got us some real food! Coffee, too."
Sitting up, he found out just *how* much his back hurt. He didn't think about the soft, warm mattress he'd foresaken last night. "Oh, this is great! Thanks, Jerry." He took a sip of the coffee. Disgusting, but hot. The bundle turned out to be half a bagel with something yellow spread over it. Butter? Margerine? Did he want to know? He took an bite and decided he didn't care. It had been a long time, but not so long that he didn't remember this part -- grateful for whatever food you could get, you didn't ask and didn't complain.
He pushed the newspapers aside, which had kept him warm during the night. "I didn't see you last night, Jerry. How have you been?"
"I'm still kickin', if that's what you mean. Still here. Found a place for Miss Meddy. Nice place. She come by once ina while and sez hi. Not like some folks." Jerry gave him the eye.
"Sorry." He took another bite of bagel. "I've been working two jobs the past year -- don't have time for much of anything."
"Two, huh? They raise the rent on that warehouse of yours?"
He smiled. "No. The second one doesn't pay and my warehouse exploded. I'm living with--" he choked it off. "A friend."
"That why you're at my place tonight?" Jerry looked him over. His old friend had always known more than he let on, always knew more than what others told.
He sighed. "Yeah. I left last night. Didn't know where else to go. Where he... couldn't find me." He only then realised it was true. That was why he'd come here last night, to the alleyway Jerry called home, the place he himself had called a place to sleep several weeks running, almost four years before. Jerry had taken him in, like he took anyone in who needed a safe place to be. Children he took in until he could find them a safe place off the streets, those older he simply kept, until they were able to find themselves a home.
When he met Jerry he had been at odds with himself and his life, returning from a field trip which ended in his master's degree and began his serious doubts that anyone would care about the research he preferred. It was the middle of fall and his doctoral studies weren't to begin until spring so he'd been without a stipend, without a home, and without a conviction that he wanted a PhD.
He'd found himself at Jerry's one day, and sat down to talk with the man who seemed for all purposes out of place and yet completely where he belonged. Jerry had offered comfort and advice, and a place to stay. An alley wasn't what most people would call a desirable home, but he found he didn't care. He'd lived in too many types of places to care, and the things he'd learned were too valuable to regret minor things like cold, starving, and the occasional danger from sreet thugs.
Jerry nodded his understanding. "Fight?"
He sighed. "Not yet. I left before he came home."
"And? He forget your birthday?"
"Did he know?"
"Of course he knew! We talked about it last week! I even told him what I wanted..." trailing away, he leaned his head against the brick wall. "I thought he was going to make everything perfect. I thought... I thought we were going to be together. But he called and said he was going out with the guys from work, to celebrate closing a case."
"Didn't you remind him?"
"I didn't talk to him. I heard it on the machine."
"How much time you'd give him to remember?"
"I don't know." His voice dropped. "I don't know how long I sat there. He said not to wait up... he wasn't planning on coming home in time to do *anything*. Sometimes I wonder how he manages to remember I'm there at all."
"You talk to much for anyone to forget for long."
He smiled wryly. "Thanks, Jerry."
"S'why you do it."
He blinked. "Huh?"
"Don't you know? Why you talk so much. So people notice you. Done it since you was a kid, far as I can tell from the stories you told."
"Oh." He paused. "But what about--"
"Can't help you there. If he loves you he'll make it up. If not... you're best off knowing."
"How do I find out without getting hurt again?" His voice was a bare whisper, loud only enough for the other to hear.
"You don't. One way or another you're gonna hurt. Go on, Jangles, and get it over with. Find out what he says."
"Can... can I come back if I have to?"
Jerry smiled, fondly. "You always got a home here. You know that. Finish your breakfast, now. Got a hard day ahead."
He finished his bagel and coffee. He was suddenly glad he'd had some cash in his wallet -- Jerry would have enough to eat for a few days with what he'd had on him. He'd have to remember to come by once in a while, and make sure he had enough. He thought about staying for another day, talking to Jim tomorrow. Jerry was right, though, as always. He had to go back. Long enough to grab a coat, if nothing else.
This time the sun was shining brightly; he couldn't tell if the lights were on, inside. Taking a deep breath he moved to unlocked the door. As his hand neared the door, it swung open. Startled, he looked up at Jim.
"Where have you *been*?" Jim grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him roughly inside.
"When.. when did you get home?" He had to remind himself that he was not the one in trouble, here. Jim let go of him as he stood his ground.
He watched as Jim began to answer, then deflated, anger and worry apparently vanishing. "I'm sorry. I got home after midnight..." The man's voice dropped to almost nothing. "I forgot, Blair."
He nodded. "Oh." He moved past, thinking that he really wanted a shower.
"I'm sorry." Jim stepped beside him, reaching out again but this time only resting a hand on his arm. "I got home, and heard your mom's message... I thought..." Jim shook his head. "I'm sorry."
"That's just great, man. I need a shower. Excuse me."
"You're not going to forgive me?" Jim sounded surprised. He just gave his partner a glare. He watched as Jim's face fell. "I don't know what to do, Chief. I was going nuts, when I remembered, and you weren't home. I didn't know where you'd gone, what you were doing... where *did* you go?"
Jim waited, but when that was all the answer he gave, continued. "I didn't know when you were coming home. I... Next time I do something like this, would you please call me? Tell me I'm supposed to be home with you?"
Outraged, he yelled, "I need to *remind* you to be with me? Thank but no thanks!" To hell with the shower. He spun on his heel, heading for the door.
It was the tone that stopped him. He heard the desperation, had heard it before in his lover's voice -- disguised, hidden, but there. But he had never heard such fear. He turned back around, seeing the panic in Jim's eyes, in the tense way he was reaching out to stop him but not moving to do so.
"Blair, please... I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I can't lose you." He moved closer, Jim placed his hand back on his arm, lightly, as if afraid of presuming to touch. "Please don't go. I love you."
He narrowed his eyes, thinking. He made his decision -- easy, really, but painful nonetheless. "Don't ever do this to me again."
"Never." Jim swore in a strained whisper.
He answered, in a hard, commanding tone -- surprising himself with the ferocity of his words. "Think about me *first*. Act like you think of me first. Don't *ever* make me wonder if you remember I'm here. Every night before you go to sleep tell me you love me. Every morning when you wake up tell me again. Every time you think about doing something you think about how it affects me and you *tell* me when I should know.
"Don't you *ever* blow me off again. And if I *ever* tell you I want something I expect you to do everything in your power to get it for me. Because if you loved me you'd do any of those things without hesitation."
Jim hadn't said a word, nor moved a muscle while he'd spoken. He simply watched, taking in the edicts without complaint. When the dictates were give, Jim took his hand, and kissed it gently.
"Whatever you say, lover." Jim placed his hand against one cheek, cradling it. "I love you."
Finally he felt himself relaxing. He was still angry -- still hurt -- but he no longer needed to leave. He let Jim hold his hand, and forgot for a moment his own anger in the face of his lover's regret, realising for the first time this morning that Jim was hurting as much as he. He caressed Jim's face.
"I love you, too." He moved forward, and kissed him tenderly. Tender became deep, and soon arms were crushing him holding him close, his face was smothered in kisses and his breath taken away. He forgave Jim everything.