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Title: What Will It Be
Author/pseudonym: the lady of shalott
Rating: G
Pairings: J/B

Notes: The lyrics noted below are only approximate, since Paula Cole deliberately didn't include lyrics in the CD packet, grr.

Summary: Excerpted bits from the song "I Don't Want to Wait", which just yelled 'Jim and Blair' to me, and a short scene that they inspired.

Warnings: Very angsty, at least for me.

Excerpts from "I Don't Want to Wait" by Paula Cole:

He showed up all wet on the rainy front step
Wearing shrapnel in his skin
And the war he saw lives inside him still
It's so hard to be gentle and warm

I don't want to wait for our lives to be over
I want to know right now what will it be
I don't want to wait for our lives to be over
Will it be yes or will it be sorry?

So you look at me from across the room
You're wearing your anguish again
Believe me I know the feeling
It sucks you into the jaws of anger

So breathe a little more deeply my love
All we have is this very moment
And I don't want to do what his father and his father and his father did
I want to be here now

So open up your morning light
And say a little prayer for I
You know that if we are to stay alive
Then see the love in every eye...

Staring out the rain-spattered front windshield, he let his fingertips drum against the steering wheel, trying to convince himself to stay inside. It hurt to breathe. It was so hard to breathe. That finally forced him outside into the stinging needles of the rain, the frigid air slapping the door out of his hands. He stared blindly into the grey curtain of mist hanging beyond the edge of the cliff, leaning against the rain-dark trunk of a pine. He stared down at the needle-matted ground, churning it into mud with the toe of his boot. Cold droplets collected on his hair and rolled down his neck like misery.

"I want to go home," he whispered painfully.

The empty air answered with silence.

Home had always been whereever he happened to be. Now it was an echoing loft and a tall, quiet man. And neither of them were his. He thought he was crying. His face was so wet with rain it was hard to tell.

Gravel crunched behind him as a truck pulled up beside the Volvo.

Jim ducked out of the cab, hunching up his collar as he ran to stand next to Blair under the pine. "What the hell are you doing?" He felt the startling constriction around his heart again when Blair looked at him with that odd blankness, the same way he had in the loft, as if he were some stranger.

Blair simply shrugged and went back to staring out at nothing.

"Come on, Chief, you're scaring me here," Jim said tightly. He'd felt wrong about having her at the loft, knowing Blair would come home soon. But the pangs of conscience had backfired and turned him contrary, and he'd kept her there longer, deliberately, until Blair had showed up. "I'm sorry, all right?"

"Are you?"

His jaw clenched. "Yes," he bit out. "Blair, I didn't... I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"I think you did," Blair said quietly. "You knew exactly how I'd feel when I walked in and found you necking on the couch with her. And I'd just... I'd really like to know why."

Jim didn't know what to say. "I don't know," he whispered.

A soft whistling sigh escaped the young man. "I know you said you needed more time to think everything over..."


"I can't... I need to know what it's going to be. Now."

"So now it's an ultimatum?"

"Please don't let anger answer for you." Blair's soft voice tamed the tigers beginning to snarl in Jim's gut. "I don't want to push you. But you're pushing me. If you don't want me, just say so and I'll be gone. In a while, we can be friends again, maybe, if I get over you. If not, at least we'll have parted friends. But if I stick around and you keep doing stuff like this..." He didn't need to finish.

"I don't want you gone." Jim inhaled hard. "I just... I want things to be the way they were."

"I'm sorry. But I can't live like this anymore," Blair said. "I don't want to pretend or lie. I don't want to be jealous and miserable all the time. It's been killing me. And I'd die for you, but not that way."

"You're asking me to turn my whole life upside down for you!" Jim turned away, angry and afraid all at once. "Do you really expect me to do this?"

"I'll be packed and out by tonight," Blair said. His voice sounded strange and far-away to his own ears.


"Jim, come on, man. I've been up front with you here, right? So don't do this to me. Just make up your mind. If you don't want me, if you can't take what I'm offering, then let me go. Please." Blair was glad for the rain, knew he was crying now.

Jim stood there, clenching his hands until the nails dug into the skin and he felt cool droplets of blood slipping over his fingertips. Looking at the anguish on his face, Blair wanted desperately to go to him, to hold him, to take everything back, promise he'd stay, no matter what. Only the memory of pain held him back, the pain he knew would drive him away eventually, bitter and angry when he finally left.

"Do you know how everyone would treat us?" Jim said finally. "Your pals in academia may not care, but at the station? Guys you think are your friends will spit in your face."

"Then they're not my friends, and I don't know them." He took a step towards Jim, reached out a single tentative hand towards the pale cheek. "I don't want to wait until the rest of the world is ready for us to live. We'll be waiting for the rest of our lives."

"God!" Jim walked away, turned his face up to the weeping skies, closing his eyes against the downpour.

Blair came to his side, touching his back with warmth. "Jim, we'll both be fine, eventually, whatever you decide. But I want to know what it's going to be."

"'Fine.'" Jim whispered softly. "I haven't been 'fine' since you came into my life, I've been happy. You got me used to that, damn you. How the hell am I supposed to go back to being 'fine' now?" He bridged his forehead with one hand, rubbing his temples.

"Jim, if you want me, I'm yours. You've just got to make the decision." Blair looked up at him, blue eyes gone grey with the reflected sky.

Meeting those eyes, Jim saw the last faint flickers of hope there drowning and suddenly hated himself for being a coward, for putting the poison darts of pain into the trusting heart that had always been too open to him. He sent up a quick prayer and took the upturned face in both hands. "Yes," he said softly, and lowered his head.

Blair's arms came up around him as their lips met. Soaking wet, they stood entwined under the softly falling rain, a weak, tremulous peace wrapping its protective cloak around them.

/ fin /