by Francesca

Disclaimers: Nothing's mine but the words; everything else belongs to Pet Fly. No infringement is intended, and I'm not makin' a dime. (Who needs money when you've got love?) (Well, okay, but I'm still not making any money!) Please go away if you're under 18!

Summary: Blair gets a postcard. (Yes, yet another of Francesca' incredibly descriptive summaries!)

Warnings: None.

Notes: Like Gone, a short palate cleanser. Like Gone, a short angst piece that I wrote on the subway. Like Gone, no sex! (Sorry Pumpkin!) - - - -

Blair Sandburg breezed into the loft, dropped his keys into the basket and stopped to peruse the mail with a muttered, "Hi, Jim."

Jim Ellison looked up from the case file he was reviewing, raised an absent hand in greeting, and then returned to reading.

Ten minutes later he turned over the final page, sighed, and looked up.

Blair was still standing by the door, jacket on, backpack over one shoulder, staring down at the mail.

"Chief?" Jim asked, and Blair blinked and looked up at him. Jim frowned, catching a glimpse of something unfamiliar in his friend's eyes.

"Yeah, Jim, hi," said Blair, finally letting his backpack drop to the floor. He pulled his jacket off, hung it up.

"Something interesting?" asked Jim, nodding at the mail, his mind reviewing what he had brought up. Bills, that's all he remembered. Nothing that could have held Blair's attention for ten whole minutes.

"Nothing, really, just a postcard," said Blair, detaching the colorful card from the pile and walking across the room with it.

Jim nodded — he had glanced at it, come to think of it. A few terse lines, standard postcard stuff. "Just passing through Cascade, thinking of you. Hope you're well, all my best to your mother," that sort of thing. Three sentences tops. "Who from?" asked Jim, thinking that the significance, if any, must be there.

Blair was rereading the card as if it were the most exotic of love poetry, not the most banal Hallmark-type prose. Thinking of you, for God's sake. "It's from Andre," replied Blair, moving slowly toward his room, eyes fixed on the card. "He dated Naomi...mmmm, must have been 1983? 1984?"

"Oh," said Jim.

"He was always really nice to me," said Blair, and Jim tensed, seeing that unfamiliar something cross Blair's face again. "He drops me a line now and then. It's just nice, that's all," said Blair, tapping the card against his hand. "You know, that he bothers. I'm going to take a shower," he added suddenly, "and then I'll make dinner, I know its my turn," and he disappeared into his room and shut the door.

And Jim suddenly had a headache. It was just a damn postcard — but Jim felt that he had just stumbled into something incredibly private, somewhere he shouldn't have been. "Just passing through Cascade, thinking of you. Hope you're well, all my best to your mother" — this was "really nice"? This was "bothering"? And Jim suddenly felt that a door was opening, and he didn't want it to open — he tried to push it shut, turn away from it, but he couldn't —

— because the postcard was a piece of a puzzle, a puzzle he hadn't even known he was constructing, and the addition of this one small piece gave Jim sudden insight into the previously hidden design —

— and Jim suddenly had a vision of Blair as a child, confronted with boyfriend after boyfriend as Naomi picked them up and discarded them, and he realized that Blair had never heard from most of them, ever again —

— and Jim suddenly saw Blair moving from place to place, a child in an adult's world, eternally out of place and overlooked, sent off to play in a corner while the adults had coffee, had sex, laughed, meditated, conversed —

— and Jim suddenly understood that Blair had developed adult conversational skills in order to be noticed, but had succeeded only in becoming an amusement, a conversation piece, just the cute little child who knew all those big words —

— and Jim suddenly knew that it hadn't been enough, and that Blair had retreated into his own head, had begun to talk to himself, had needed to befriend himself, and had become self-reliant and smart, so dammed smart, talking to himself...

— and Jim suddenly noted that Blair had never had a long-term relationship — that he had smelled both men and women on his guide but never the same man or woman, never twice — and he turned that information around in his brain and it looked suddenly different from this new angle — suddenly it didn't look like bold-faced promiscuity any more, and he felt he had been wrong to tease —

— and Jim suddenly realized that Blair didn't even have a best friend. Blair had tens of friends but not one — no one, Jim thought, that I would call to tell that Blair was sick, or hurt — no one, Jim thought, that Blair would call to talk to if he were upset, or to share good news —

— and Jim suddenly pictured Blair meditating, cross-legged on his bed, dealing with his sorrow, dealing with his joy — alone, internally — talking to himself, calming himself

— and Jim suddenly felt in his bones that Blair had given up on ever being understood, had given up on anyone ever really bothering with him, bothering to know him, and that maybe, somewhere deep down, he had convinced himself that he wasn't worth bothering about

— and then Jim was on his feet, scraping the kitchen chair back against the hardwood floor, and he had crossed the few steps to the door of Blair's room and he knocked three times hard, and he heard Blair call, "Just hold on a minute!" and then Blair opened the door wearing his bathrobe, and the postcard was still in his hand, and Jim plucked it from between his fingers and threw it on the floor, and Blair opened his mouth to protest and then Jim pulled him into his arms, held him close, cradled him to his chest, and he could hear Blair's muffled sounds of confusion, could feel the small movements as Blair stirred within the unexpected embrace, felt Blair's hand flailing and flailing and then stop — felt Blair's arms move tentatively around him, and he gave Blair a rough squeeze, illustrating, demonstrating, giving permission, and then felt Blair's arms tighten around him, first gently, and then with increasing strength, increasing intensity, and Jim bent his head and whispered to Blair: "I love you. I care. I'll bother."

The End

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