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Summary: Epilogue. Spoilers for Breaking Ground. Warm fuzzies ahead.

Safety of Sleep
epilogue for Breaking Ground
by Becky
June 1998

.... rubble fell everywhere .... blocking sight .... obscuring sounds .... destroying the way out .... eliminating safety .... alone .... abandoned .... rocks .... wood .... dirt .... concrete .... metal .... it was all self-destructing in a never-ending, everlasting, slow tumble of cracking and falling .... falling .... burying .... alone .... enclosing .... hiding .... alone .... losing .... no air .... no light .... alone .... too much noise .... can't see .... can't .... can't .... alone ....

Blair sat up with a gasp, heart pounding in his chest. Damn! Again. Man, I am really getting tired of these things. He ran a hand through his hair, shoving it back from his face. Bringing his knees up to his chest, he leaned forward, wrapping both arms around his legs and resting his forehead on his knees. I have got to get some sleep or I'm not gonna be worth anything to anyone pretty soon, not my students, not my teachers, and most definitely not Jim.

A hand touched his shoulder. "Sand--"

Barely managing to bite down on the yelp that wanted to squeak out past his thundering heart, Blair jumped and moved back, slamming into the wall behind his bed. In the dark, he stared up at the large figure, silhouetted by the city lights edging in through the windows slats.

"Chief, hey, it's just me. Calm down."


"Yeah." The figure sat down on the edge of the bed, reaching out to flick on the small bedside lamp.

Blair squinted, blinking, as Jim's concerned face swam into view, followed by the mussed hair, and gray fuzzy robe, belt hastily tied at the waist. I woke Jim. He swallowed, forcing a brittle smile on his face. "Oh, hi. Did I, uh, did I wake you? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I'm okay. Just go back to bed, Jim. I'll just get a book or something to read for awhile."

Jim frowned, then shook his head. "No."

"No? What do you mean, no?"

"I mean, no, you're not okay. No, I won't just go back to bed. And, no, you won't just get a book and read awhile. You've been doing that for the past several days and it hasn't gotten you anywhere. You're having nightmares about the cave-in, aren't you?" He laid a hand on Blair's leg, his palm resting lightly on the blanket.

Blair felt himself flush and he looked away from Jim's piercing gaze. "It's nothing, Jim. Nothing you need to worry about. I'll be fine. They'll go away soon enough."

"So you are having them?"

Caught by his babbling mouth, Blair could only nod in confirmation. "It's silly. After everything that's happened to me, you think I'd be able to handle a minor cave-in. I mean, I've had guns shot at me, been drugged, been kidnapped. What's a little wood and stone falling down on me? Can't be any worse that anything else I've let myself be dragged into." He rubbed at his face. "It's all just so stupid that I'm dreaming about it. Annoying too."

Jim didn't say anything for a long time and Blair glanced up at him, expecting.... Well, he didn't know what to expect. Agreement, maybe. Censure. Even pity. Instead he saw Jim's eyes soften in sympathy and more concern, the blueness intensifying with every moment of contemplating the younger man. Subtle regret came next, clouding their clearness for a few moments before Jim finally spoke again in a quiet, low voice.

"You were about to be shot when I found you. Did you know I would come after you?" His fingers moved on Blair's leg, absently rubbing in circular patterns.

"Yes. I knew you'd try. I just ... I just didn't know if you would be in time." He had a gun! He was crazy! He was just gonna shoot me and leave me there, Jim! His throat grew tight with remembered fear. His heart rate started to accelerate again, and Blair squeezed his eyes closed, trying to block out his memories. Memories of being alone in the car when the killer showed up with a gun. Memories of being forced into a car at gunpoint. Memories of being prodded along that dark, dreary tunnel of death, hunting for lost gold. He curled his arms around his torso, rocking slightly on the bed. Memories of thinking he would die alone, without Jim anywhere nearby, in that bleak darkness, by the hands of a gold-crazed murderer. Memories of the timber cracking around him, of the walls of the tunnel threatening to collapse inward. And then of that very thing happening even as Jim arrived to save the day.

The bed shifted and Blair's eyes flew open to see Jim standing. Blair swallowed, watching as Jim flicked off the light. He's leaving? Now? He's just gonna leave me by myself? After I've dragged out all the demons? I can't--

"Come on, Chief. Let's go."

"Go? Go where? I need to get some sleep, Jim."

"I know. And so do I. But neither one of us is gonna get any if you stay here." Jim reached down in the darkness and grasped Blair's arm, pulling him gently forward and out of bed. Blair stumbled a moment, hands going out to catch himself, latching fingers into Jim's robe. Jim's hands lent him additional balance, holding strongly to his shoulders. "Sorry, Chief. Forgot myself there for a moment. You can't see too well and I know you're not really awake."

"No, on both accounts. Where are we going, Jim?"

"Upstairs." Leaving one arm around Blair's shoulders, Jim led him from the small bedroom, the floor cold beneath Blair's sock-covered feet. The younger man shivered as the cool air spread across his bare legs and arms. Jim pulled him closer and hurried their steps a bit as they passed the kitchen table.

Blair blinked, trying to clear his sleep-fogged and dream-numbed brain enough to cooperate with higher thought processing. "Why are we going upstairs?"

"So we can get some sleep." They were at the stairs now and Jim released Blair and nudged him toward the steps, silently urging him to climb them.

Blair took one step up, then stopped, turning to look at Jim, now at his eye level. "I don't understand. Why? I mean, that's your bed, your room. Are we going to sleep there ... together? Jim ...." He trailed off, feeling the blush highlighting his cheeks, knowing Jim could see it even the nearly non-existent light.

Jim chuckled softly once. A hand reached up and patted Blair's face, right on top of the blush. "No, Chief, not like that. Stop worrying." His hand slid down to Blair's shoulder as he stepped up next to him, forcing the younger man to tilt his face up again, still trying to see something in the darkness. "You're not sleeping, Blair. You're still scared, I think. That's normal. You thought you were gonna die and didn't know if I would get there in time to prevent it. And then when I did get there, the whole damn thing collapsed on us, nearly burying us for good. I think ..." He paused a moment, then cleared his throat, shifting a little on his feet. "I think you need to feel safe to sleep. Once you can feel safe and sleep for a full night, maybe then the dreams will go away, maybe you'll realize you're okay, that you can sleep without having to relive what happened night after night."

Blair blinked, then smiled. "You been taking psychology classes on the sly, Jim?"

"No, no classes. Just what makes sense to me."


Neither said anything for a bit, then Jim squeezed Blair's shoulder to get his attention. "So, you okay with this, Chief?"

"What? Oh, sleeping upstairs, you mean?"


Blair considered a moment, then turned and walked up the stairs, hearing Jim's light footsteps follow him. He paused before the big bed, chewing on his lip a moment, staring at the sheets and comforter. Jim stood behind him and laid a hand on his back, giving him a gentle shove forward. "Get in. I won't bite. And neither will the bed. Trust me."

He threw the bigger man a quick confident grin. "I always trust you."

"Good, then get in. The warm spot's probably gone by now. You'll have to create another one."

With a small laugh, Blair climbed into the bed, finding, to his surprise, that a warm spot did exist -- in the middle of the large bed. He started to move past it, but then Jim slid in behind him and snagged him around the waist, dragging him back to that warm spot and against Jim's bare chest. The robe had vanished somewhere. Blair sunk into the warmth gratefully, sighing out in pleasure as Jim drew the covers over them.

Jim's voice came from above his head somewhere as he curled his arm over Blair's side again. "You warm enough?"

"Oh, yeah." He lay a hand on Jim's "You're like a human heat lamp, Jim, did you know that?" A yawn punctuated his statement.

Jim laughed again and patted Blair's chest. "I'll add that to my resume. Now, go to sleep, Junior."

"Night, Jim." A pause, a yawn, a snuggle down into the covers and back to rest more firmly against Jim. "And thanks."

Moments later, Blair had followed Jim's directive, sleeping deeply and calmly, his lungs rising and falling rhythmically under Jim's arm, his heart thumping softly under his hand. Jim could feel his own heart beating in time with Blair's, and he found himself unconsciously matching the breathing pattern of his friend tucked up so close to his chest. Smiling to himself, Jim brushed a few more rebellious strands of Blair's hair away from his own face, then settled his head more comfortably on his pillow, eyes closing slowly.

As he let himself go to follow his partner in the distant and sometimes dangerous land of sleep, Jim breathed out in a whisper, somewhere between a prayer and a blessing, "Safe and peaceful dreams, Blair."

- The End -