Note:

This is a sequel to Track 2: Un-Break My Heart.

Lyrics and Music by Antonio Reid, Babyface, and Daryl Simmons. Vocals by Toni Braxton.



TRACK 3: YOU MEAN THE WORLD TO ME

by

Dayspring

Cause you mean the world to me,

You are my everything.

I swear the only thing that matters, matters to me.

Oh, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby....

Cause you mean so much to me.

Blair felt a shiver crawl along his spine as he approached the loft. There were several logical reasons for the sensation. One, it was a cold, wet Cascade night. Two, Jim wasn't expecting someone to stop by at 3:30 in the morning; he'd probably approach the door with a gun. Three, he'd wrote the man a Dear John letter, then walked out; Jim was bound to be out of sorts with him.

Then, there was the fourth, less logical reason for his shiver. That had been the impetus for this sudden drive across the city, to the place he had called home until about twelve hours ago. He and Jim were connected spiritually as sentinel and guide, jaguar and wolf. That connection had been screaming for the past several hours. He had tried to ignore it. When that hadn't worked, he'd watched the late news, grateful that there were no reports of an injured officer. Jim hadn't zoned in months; it was pure selfishness to think Jim may need him.

But the link refused to "go gently into the good night", and so here he was, doing exactly what he said he wasn't going to do. He tapped on the door, figuring Jim had engaged the security chain. When he didn't get an answer, he tried his keys anyway. The door opened without impediment. That wasn't good. Jim was downright obsessive about that chain. Maybe he wasn't home. But the truck was in its usual place. "Jim?" he called softly. "Jim, it's Blair, man. I know I said I was leaving, but I just needed to know..."

Something was wrong. He shivered and looked around the loft. The balcony doors were open. Oh, shit. He reached for his cell phone as he cautiously approached them. Then he saw the figure kneeling in the rain and he forgot about everything except the man before him. "Jim?" No movement. No acknowledgment of his presence. Zoned. For how long? On what?

A touch to the icy bare arm told him that it had been a while, the dripping white paper and frame clutched against him revealed what. He recognized the frame even though the picture was turned toward Jim. He had been so pleased when he'd seen Jim had bought an expensive frame for the picture, not just one of those things on the shelf at the local Dollar Barn. "Oh, baby, I didn't know this would hurt you so bad," he said softly. He placed his hands on both strong shoulders and shook him gently.

"Come on, Jim. Come out of it. It's alright. I'm here. I'm back. Your guide did a bad thing, but he's back now and he needs you to join him, okay? Come on, man. Don't do this to me. We have to get you inside before you get sick. Hell, you probably already are. Please don't tell me you've been out here since you found that stupid note. I didn't mean it, you know. Well, some of it I did. Because I really do love you, Jim." Instead of concentrating on pulling Jim out of the zone, he pulled him closer, until his friend's head rested against his shoulder. "I know that's sort of unexpected and it probably took you on a wild ride, didn't it? I had my feelings for you pretty much under control...until Rose. Guess I never really had any competition until her. The others...they didn't mean that much to you, man. I was always the better choice. I always loved you more. God, I can't explain how much I love you..."

Blair was so busy spilling his heart, he didn't notice as Jim's eyes opened.

If you could give me one good reason

Why I should believe you,

Believe in all the things that you tell.

I would sure like to believe you,

My heart wants to receive you,

Just make me know that you are sincere.

Blair felt Jim begin to stir, so he eased his grip on the man, pulling back so he could see the eyes he loved so much. "Hey, welcome back from the edge, big guy. I know I have a lot of explaining to do, but let's do it inside, okay? You're soaked and freezing, and I'm rapidly joining you." He started to stand, but Jim pulled him back down. "What is it? You a little stiff? How long have you been out here, man?"

Jim didn't say a word. He simply jerked Blair forward and kissed him.

You know I'd love for you to lead me,

And follow through completely,

So won't you give me all I ask for,

And if you give your very best to bring me happiness,

I'll show you just how much I adore you.

Doing a period of his youth, Blair had taken to reading what some called purple prose and others, romance. He had thought the descriptions were slightly overdone and all in all, his forage into the stuff didn't last very long. But he remembered one heroine speaking of her toes curling when the hero kissed her. He had laughed over that one, remembering it when he had his first intense kiss. Actually, he'd thought about it during several other kisses, but no, no toe curls. Until now. For some reason, he had expected Jim's kiss to be shyly given, timid and if not that, then hard and brutal. Instead he received a kiss that was bold but gentle, passionate yet teasing, powerful but not forceful. The toes curled, hormones raged, and Blair almost came on the strength of that one kiss.

He was breathing hard when Jim pulled away, and he had to wait a few minutes before he could talk. "What was that, Jim?" he finally asked.

"That was what you forfeited when you left me," he rasped, surprised at the roughness of his voice.

"But Jim, you never...."

"You never asked."

"But the women--"

"But the women?" Jim countered. "Yours outnumber mine, Sandburg."

Blair wanted to pinch himself, to make sure he wasn't dreaming, then he remembered the kiss and decided if he were dreaming, he didn't want to wake. "Why didn't you ever ask?"

"I had already forced you to change your life, Chief. How many times have you missed classes because of me? How many times have you ended up in the hospital or in danger or hurt because of me? How long ago would you have had your doctorate if it wasn't for me, stubbornly standing in your way? You live in my loft. You work at my side, at my discretion. I already had too much power in this relationship. I felt this, if it were to happen, had to originate from you. It was only fair. It would be the only way I would know whether you really wanted it, or were just conforming to what I wanted."

"I never knew you loved me, Jim."

"For God's sake, Blair! I crossed over to bring you back from the dead. I think that sort of tops a chocolate heart at Valentine's."

Blair smiled. Jim had a point there. "Man, how could I have been so dense? But what about that crap with Alex?"

"Biological imperative. Why do fish swim upstream or birds fly back north, or whales migrate to a certain part of the sea? You called it on the beach, Chief. Alex and I were being called home, to mate, to propagate. Can you imagine the offspring of two full sentinels? That would have made one hell of a research paper."

Blair nodded. The chance to watch a sentinel from birth.... "Hopefully, they would have taken after you, man."

"I think they would have had the desire to protect as I have. Alex...Alex got screwed by life somewhere along the way, I think. When we linked, I saw who she could have been. The knowledge of that tragedy, that loss, will always be with me. But that was merely biological, Chief. What we could have had...would have been beyond physical. We could have created our own world."

"We still could, man."

Jim shook his head. "You did the unforgivable, Blair. You walked out."

Now, it's gonna take some workin'

But I believe you're worth it,

Long as your intentions are good, so good.

There is just one way to show it and, boy, I hope you know it,

That no one could love you like I could.

"I walked back in. Doesn't that count for something?" Blair asked tentatively as he tried to absorb everything that was happening. Had he, in an attempt to protect himself, destroyed his only chance at happiness? No! Not if he had any say about it.

"What should it count for?"

Blair shrugged. "At least a chance for me to hear the words... just once." When he looked into the blue eyes before him, he swore that the deepest ocean could not have swallowed him up more.

"I love you, Blair. I'm not sure when it began.... Probably when I received your 911 call, and I came back here to discover Lash had taken you. I didn't understand until later why I was so frantic, why I was so desperate to save you."

Blair was glad it was raining for it hid his tears. "Why didn't you say anything, damn it!"

Jim sighed, closing his eyes."Because it wouldn't have been right."

"What we feel is definitely right," his partner avowed.

"You know what I mean, Chief. I've manipulated your whole life so that it revolves around me. It had to stop."

"I allowed you to manipulate me," Blair corrected, pleased to hear Jim call him Chief. That meant there was hope for the two of them.

"Whatever. But for me to impose my desires on you, that's where I drew the line. Tell me the truth: if I had told you I loved you and wanted you, would you have denied me your body? Even if you had doubts yourself?"

His first reaction was to say, "Damn right, I would have." But the more he thought about it, the more he was unsure. If he had been devoutly heterosexual, and Jim had propositioned him...what would he have done? Laughed it off as a joke at first. Then, maybe he would have glimpsed the pain in Jim's eyes, and...and given the idea a lot of thought. Hell, admit it Sandburg, he yelled at himself. To make Jim happy, you would have done anything.

Lord knows, I want to trust you,

And, oh, how I'd love you,

But I'm not sure love is enough.

And I will not be forsaken,

And I hope there's no mistakin',

So tell me that you'll always be true.

Jim watched as Blair came to the same conclusion he had; he would have climbed into Jim's bed just to accommodate the sentinel. It was just so natural, so innate, for him to follow his protector. Anywhere...and into anything. "Yes, you fight me. You don't stay in the truck when you're supposed to. You left your hospital bed to go down to Sierra Verde after me. But when it counts, when you don't think I'm in personal danger, you obey me. I couldn't wake up with you in my arms, only to wonder why you were there. I'm an all-or-none sort of guy, Sandburg. If you were with me, I wanted it to be because you wanted me as much as I wanted you. Duty, obedience, guide commitments, had no business in this."

"What about love, Jim? Does it have any business in this?"

"It's the only thing that does, Chief."

There's a feeling in my heart

That I know I can't escape.

So, please, don't let me fall,

Don't let it be too late.

There's a time when words are good,

Then they just get in the way.

So show me how you feel,

Baby I'm for real.

Oh baby, baby, baby, baby, baby....

Blair kissed Jim, allowing everything he felt for the man to flow into the action. When Jim responded, he felt his toes curl again, but one frisson of passion couldn't drown out years of being a guide. Automatically, he recognized the coolness of the lips meshed against his, the tiny shivers of the wet form he wanted desperately to get next to. Even as his tongue darted out to taste the mouth he had moaned about in his dreams, he knew he had to get Jim inside to the warmth of the loft.

Reluctantly, he pulled away. "You're freezing, baby. How long have you been sitting here in the rain?"

"I don't know."

"Come on inside. A nice hot shower will warm you up."

"Just as long as you don't make any of that tea stuff."

Blair helped Jim to his feet. "You're not fooling me, sweetheart. You like my 'tea stuff'."

Jim shook his head. "I just drink it to make you happy."

Blair smiled and kissed the icy cheek. "You make me happy, Jim."

He closed the balcony doors behind them, not noticing as the wind swept a soggy piece of paper across the deck until it rested against a broken picture frame-- reminders of a day not yet over.

Cause you mean the world to me,

You are my everything.

I swear the only thing that matters, matters to me.

Oh, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby....

Cause you mean so much to me.

The End