Some Time Without You

Blair looked around with approval at the spot Jim had chosen. He nodded. "This is great, Jim."

Jim was looking around as well. "I figured you'd like this, Chief," he said softly. The air was cool, but still; the sun was nearly at its zenith and the trees created sparkles of shade. The grass was still green though the rains for the year had ended almost a month ago. "I wanted to get up here sooner," he apologised.

"No sweat, Jim. Work's been tough, lately." Blair grinned suddenly. "But now it's time to kick back and relax!"

His partner seemed still unwilling to do that, however. Blair resigned himself to cajoling Jim for the rest of the day, if necessary, to get him to actually enjoy the day off. The setting was perfect and Simon had sworn he wouldn't call Jim in on a case until at least tomorrow morning. Late tomorrow morning.

Blair had considered threatening the Police Captain with dire warnings should he call anyhow. Simon had seemed sincere, though, about his promise. Blair turned his attention back to the clearing, and his partner. Jim was unpacking the bag he'd brought. "What'd you bring for lunch?" he asked, heading over to look.

"I don't know what this is," Jim admitted as he took a deli container out of the bag. "I went to that place you like, the Hungarian or Mongolian or whatever-it-is deli."

"Hunters Rising?" Blair grinned. He'd been after Jim for a year to try the food there. It wasn't too spicy, but it wasn't bland, either. "What'd you get?"

"I just told the lady behind the counter what I remembered it looking like. She gave me this." He set the counter down, prying the lid off.

Blair grinned triumphantly. "Yeah, that's it! Oh, man, this stuff is *so* good! You'll love it, trust me."

Jim was already back to pulling other items out. Pita bread, something that might have been spinach salad, and a thermos which Blair didn't bother inspecting. There was another container and Jim paused before setting it down. Though the container was still closed, Jim sniffed it carefully, then made a face. "It's gone bad." He set it aside.

"Are you sure?" Blair leaned over, in front of Jim, to look at it briefly before shrugging. "Why am I asking? You're the Sentinel. If you say it's bad, who am I to argue?" He sat back again, on his heels. "Is this everything?"

"That's it," Jim said, not bothering with a second look into the bag to make sure.

Blair rolled his eyes. "You know, that's always bugged me about you. You're *sure*, and you still don't double-check. *Everyone* double-checks; it's human nature!"

Jim didn't reply. Now that the food was out, Jim proceeded to ignore it. He sat there, cross-legged, arms behind him holding his weight. Blair looked over.

"What's up, Jim?"

Jim sighed, but said nothing. He simply looked out at the trees, seemingly enjoying the day out of doors and away from people, traffic, and Police Captains saying 'just one more thing'. Blair moved to settle down beside him, content to do nothing more for the moment.

"This is nice," he said after a moment. The breeze was beginning to pick up slightly, off and on. Blair turned his face towards it. "Thanks for coming out here."

Jim glanced upwards and sighed, this time in disappointment. "Guess this won't take as long as I'd thought. Rain."

"Rain? The forecast didn't say anything about rain." Blair watched Jim's face, though, and saw as he smelled the air and tested the pressure on his skin. When Jim looked back down, Blair could read the answer off his face. "Rain," he repeated, disgusted.

"I suppose...." Jim began, looking down at the food.

"Eat now, we have time. Don't we?"

"I don't know why I bought all this. I'm not really hungry."

"Come on, Jim," Blair wheedled gently. "You have to try the ganoush, at least."

Jim stared at the containers, then looked back up at the still only-cloudy sky. But he didn't say anything, nor did he move towards the food he'd brought.

"Mind if I eat? Blair asked, smiling.

"I wish--"

Blair looked up. "You wish what?"

"I wish I knew what I was doing."

"Having a picnic lunch?" Blair offered, only pretending at being confused. But he didn't want to talk about what he knew Jim meant. He wanted to enjoy the day, enjoy the sun and the cool air and the company. With or without the food.

Jim leaned forward, resting his head in his hands. "God, Blair, what am I doing?" he whispered.

Blair moved closer, leaning in until he was almost touching his lover. For a moment he didn't say anything, simply needing the proximity before he could try to find words. He knew they wouldn't help, but he had to say them, anyway. "I'm sorry," was all he finally said. "I am so, so sorry." He wanted to place his hand on Jim's head, stroke his hair, but didn't dare reach out.

"I miss you so much."

"I miss you, too." Blair closed his eyes, but briefly. He needed to see Jim more than he needed to not see his lover's pain.

Jim looked up again, unshed tears in his eyes. "Why did you leave me?"

"I didn't want to," Blair replied, words nearly sticking in his throat. "I swear, Jim, I didn't want to."

But Jim didn't hear him. He kept staring out, seeing nothing. Blair was sitting there in front of him, close enough to touch his face. "I wish--" he repeated, though with different words left unspoken.

"Please, Jim," Blair begged. "Please, let's just sit here and enjoy the day. OK? We'll have lunch, we'll watch the birds, maybe get rained on. Just you and me. Please."

Jim looked back down at the pile of food. Without warning he swept his hand against it, knocking everything away. "I need you here with me, Blair," he said with clear, subdued anger.

"I know."

"I need you, Blair," he said again, softer. Defeated.

"I know."

"I miss you."

Blair didn't say anything.

"I love you," Jim whispered, looking out again, beseeching.

"I love you, too."

"Why did you leave me?" The tormented question was spoken so often that it sounded rote. It probably was, Blair mused.

Blair just watched his lover, heart aching. He reached out to let his fingers brush Jim's face. He felt nothing; he hadn't expected to. But sometimes he couldn't avoid it, even though it hurt worse to reach out, than not trying and pretending he could touch if he tried. Sometimes he couldn't stop himself from reaching out.

Watching his hand pass through, while Jim's eyes stared past him, seeing nothing.

"I didn't mean to, Jim," he said again, wishing his lover could hear. "I didn't mean to."

Jim closed his eyes and bowed his head. He sat there unmoving; as always, Blair sat vigil beside him. Watching, and listening. Sometimes, pretending.