Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts by Juliet Benson

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Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts

by Juliet Benson
(Written: 11-07-99)


Disclaimer: Well, I thought about being original and saying I was making millions off of this, but with my luck someone would take me seriously and sue me out of the two cents that I have. So, they aren't mine, but Pet Fly's.
Spoilers: Lots. Especially for "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg"
Author's Notes: Not necessarily they way I want to have it end, but a possibility.
Rating: PG


Blair sat alone in his room, gnawing absently on his lower lip. He had just spent the last hour or so cleaning it out. *Really* cleaning. The down-with-a-mop, plastic-gloves, search-and-destroy-all-living-and-non-living-organisms, even-a-Sentinel-can-find-no-fault cleaning. Rocking back on his heels, he surveyed his room, feeling helpless now that the work was done. It was near noon. Jim was at the station, naturally, and Sandburg found himself alone in the loft. So what did he do with he now oh-so-plentiful free time? Did he read? Did he sleep? No, he *cleaned*. He *hated* cleaning! Always had.

That was one of the nice things growing up; Naomi would hustle him from one place to another, never giving him enough time to settle down and actually make a mess. So why had he spent the whole day on his hands and knees, scrubbing away at the already speckless floor? Simple: he was afraid of getting kicked out. Ever since this whole mess had started, Blair had just been waiting for the time to come where he’d walk into the loft and find all his stuff in boxes, neatly labeled, ready to go, will that be all sir? please pull forward and have a nice day. ‘Ridiculous,’ he kept telling himself. ‘Jim wouldn’t do that to you again.’ Still, that didn’t stop his hands from sweating and his heart pounding with anticipation every time he pulled out his key to the door.

Getting up, he moseyed on out to the center of the loft. Blinking, he eventually found himself standing in front of a bookstand where all his books sat, patiently waiting for him to pull one out. At the end of one row, he saw one of his clay jars propping up the books. He carefully maneuvered it out then repositioned the end book so it wouldn’t fall over. Studying it as he carried it back to his room, he unconsciously walked around furniture and obstacles without looking up. Sitting back down at his original spot, he turned it over in his hands. The corner of his mouth quirked briefly at the memory of persuading Jim that he *needed* to keep it in the loft, and later that he *needed* to have it out in the open. However, the smile was gone before it really started. He hadn’t smiled much lately. Not in a while, come to think of it. Placing it on the floor, he returned to the living room and soon came back carrying another artifact. A long time later, he blinked, feeling like he was coming out a sleep. A pile of his stuff from all over the loft sat before him. His mouth opened slightly in confusion and his brow furrowed, trying to remember how they had snuck in here. He vaguely remembered gathering them up one by one, but it seemed like a distant memory. One from when he was a little boy. He shook his head sharply.

"Get a grip, man," he said out loud. Sticking his cold hands in his pockets, he wandered back out into the living room. And, big surprise, found himself drawn to the bookcase again. He abruptly collapsed down on his rear and scowled sulkily. He was no idiot; he knew what he subconsciously doing.

"But I don’t *want* to leave," he whined. And found that it was true.

For the first in his life, he wanted to plant down roots. Ha! Too bad the other resident didn’t want him there. He sighed heavily and raked both hands through his hair. He should have been more alert. Should have taken a hint.

He’d never had a problem knowing when he’d worn out his welcome before, why now? Probably because before it had never been one-sided. He’d always wanted to leave, before. Before. B. S. For Jim, Before Sandburg. For him, Before Sentinel. Well, Bull Shit either way. They could never go back to before.

He fell onto his back. When had it started? Probably from the second he moved into the loft. No, focus, focus. In retrospect, he’d probably pinpoint The Beginning (Of The End) with that whole mess when Jim needed some space.

That was when Jim had actually flat out said he was in the way. Sandburg frowned. He had said that, hadn’t he? His memory of that time was foggy, but he could still definitely remember Jim saying something to that effect. Of course it had happened. Eventually, people got sick of him, the one and only Blair Sandburg. ‘Yes, what an honor. Please step forward and accept your trophy. Well, I’d like to thank the academy… I’d like world peace, I’d like a little respect, but hey! who doesn’t want those things?’ His mental attempt at humor fell flat and pain tightened his chest when it hit him that he *could* be giving an acceptance speech. For the Noble Prize.

Anyway, dragging his thoughts away from there and back to his initial depression- first come first serve, don’t cha know- he continued his reflection. Um, yeah, at that teeny town with the "disease" running rampant. Blair was not one to dwell on the past, but that had hurt. You don’t say things like that unless you really mean them. He should have packed up right there.  Maybe it even went as far back to that thing with the rig. Jim had complained at him for his messiness quite insistently. There was the first major time they addressed the dissertation, when everything was so crazy with crocodiles, angels and whatnot. But it took having it actually spelled out for him, in the form of boxes packed and waiting for him to realize the gravity of it all. And then dying. Well, moving past that. Needless to say, one would think he would have got it when he witnessed, with his own eyes, right in front of him, Jim making out with his murderess. As if that wasn’t enough, it   appeared that he loaned out his Blessed Protector to the enemy for the week. Drat, just the time he needed him most. "It should have been me," he said suddenly. He noticed breathing had become harder and there was an odd feeling in his throat. And then the Ventriss thing. He had felt so alone that whole time, felt like Jim was so cold. Or maybe that was just *him* finally thawing out. But, no, the kicker was when he realized that Jim still didn’t trust him, still thought he would have betrayed him.

"Hold on, man," he said, almost startling himself with his own voice. "Maybe that’s too harsh." Jim had trusted Sandburg with his *life* on more than one occasion, so he must be wrong, right? Blair sat up and groaned. His eyes fell to the bookshelf. "How perfect," he said, reaching and selecting a book. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. One of his favorites. Flipping through it, he came to the quote he wanted. "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Well, Blair *did* understand Jim’s point of view. He truly did.

Fear-based responses, man. And while he might not be able to fully climb into Jim’s skin because of the Sentinel thing, he certainly was close. And *man* had Jim been through a lot. Just trying to place himself where Jim was overwhelmed him.

Yes, he understood. And no, he didn’t blame Jim. But that didn’t erase the fact that Jim was tired of him, that it was time to let go and move on. It didn’t erase the fact that despite all he’d, they’d, everyone had been through, who was left to defend him? To stand up for him when the darkest of times descended? ‘Simon, thanks man!… Oh, you’ve got Jim covered? Um, well… Megan! What? Oh, thanks for the advice. Joel? Joel? Hello? Rafe? Brown? Anyone? Well, guess I’ll have to watch out for myself. Yeah, just like last time when I ended up face down in a fountain.’

It didn’t erase the fact that Jim still thought he would so easily stab him in the back. How could he just go and accuse him of something like that?  Surely, *surely* Jim knew what he meant to Blair.

"Well, I’m sure Judas loved Jesus, too." He closed his eyes tightly and took a deep breath.

"Why am I doing this?" he muttered. "I am *so* not bitter… I’m not…" After a few minutes of breathing exercises and meditating, he felt at peace with himself. Gathering up To Kill A Mockingbird as well as his other books, he deposited them in his room and went down to the basement to get those damn boxes. Blair stood back and surveyed his work for the second time that day. The scene was chillingly familiar. All his junk, packaged up… Biting his lip, he looked at the clock. Jim wasn’t due home for another three hours. He couldn’t be such a cad and actually just take off and leave, could he? He sighed. Of course he couldn’t.   A while later he got in the Volvo, all his boxes shoved in a cheap storage place. He had filled the car with gas, withdrew all his money from his bank account and was well and truly moved out. He wasn’t sure where he was going to go; out of Cascade definitely, and out of state hopefully. He still had some time left to figure it out and after he did he’d tackle with transporting his boxes.

He reached the police station and got that nervous feeling that hits when you’ve got to give a speech in front of hundreds, or when you have to go on stage in a play.

"Oh, boy," he mumbled and got out of the car.


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