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The Drive Home



He was slow reaching his full growth, though he still wasn't particularly tall when, at eighteen or so, he finally accepted that he wasn't going to get any bigger. He was on the low side of average height; even his mother was taller - which led him to think that his unknown father had to have been quite... Not small, he told himself. Never think 'small'. Think... 'not tall'.

And that was surprising, because his mother had quite a thing for tall men.

Not that he was ever likely to find out how tall, or not tall, his father had been. 'Love them and leave them' was Naomi's motto, and when she left she never looked back. 'Nostalgia' was not a word in her personal vocabulary. Blair doubted if she even knew what it meant.

Not that nostalgia was an ailment he suffered from, though he had sometimes thought longingly of some of the places where he had lived as a child, places where he had been happy, where he would have been content to stay. But he had quickly learned that for Naomi 'happiness' was a fleeting emotion, to be enjoyed for the brief time it lasted and then forgotten, set aside to make way for new experiences, new happiness. Or what she called happiness.

Rainier had been... quite an experience. Oh, he had known when he went there that he would be there for several years, and he had found himself looking forward to the novelty of knowing where he would be next month... next week... next day... but even at sixteen he hadn't realized just how content he would be, remaining based in one place for years.

He had known that although she had accepted his wish to go to university, Naomi hadn't understood, hadn't begun to understand, why he wanted to. She had sent him to school - when they had been somewhere that had schools - because she accepted that the ability to read and write was useful, but she herself had left school as soon as she was old enough, and Blair doubted that she had opened a book since. Reading, for her, was a functional ability, used to obtain instructions or directions, not something to do for enjoyment. With her as a role model, Blair was surprised that he had found books so enjoyable... though he mostly read to learn, there was some fiction he enjoyed, finding that it stretched his imagination.

And that was, he supposed, part of the difference between him and Naomi, and possibly why he had been able to settle in one place, while she never could. He could use his imagination to make sense of the descriptions in the books, visualize the places from the word pictures drawn in them, while she couldn't. Despite her fascination with gurus and mysticism and psychics who claimed to see visions, she had to physically see the places described in travel catalogs, although once she had seen them, she remembered them. Sometimes - occasionally - she would go back to somewhere she had already visited; most often she didn't, heading instead for somewhere new.

He had always known he wouldn't stay at Rainier for ever, though he hadn't expected to leave the place under a cloud; but as he drove away from it for the last time, he realized that there was more of his mother in him than he had thought, for he left without a backward glance, and with no regrets.

He had left the familiar merry-go-round of academia and would soon be entering, permanently, the roller-coaster of Jim's 'Dirty Harry' world, only now he'd be paid for the often dangerous work he had been doing, unpaid, for four years... once he had taken, and passed, firearms training at the Academy. Not that he hadn't handled guns in the past; he had, but it had always been a bluff. As a cop, he would no longer have the luxury of bluffing; he would have to be prepared to shoot if necessary. But he had considered that before accepting Simon's offer of a badge.

And then?

In a few years, Jim would retire, but he wouldn't be old enough, or have money enough, to retire as well, much as he might - would - want to. But by that stage he should have gained enough of a reputation as a good cop on his own merits to be able to try for promotion, for he didn't think he would find it easy to work with a different partner.

He was, he decided, finally growing up. As a student, even a grad student working as a TA, he had been living a semi-sheltered life. Not as sheltered, these last four years, as it had been, because of his work with Jim; but the option of maintaining that life indefinitely was closed to him now.

Pulling up in front of 852 Prospect, he got out of the car, hooked his pack over one shoulder, lifted out the single box he had brought from Rainier - he had dumped everything else - locked the car and headed into the building.

He had known, once he decided to give that damning press conference, exactly what he was doing, but events since then had moved quickly, and only now had he stopped to think about everything involved.

It had all been about growth. His growth as a person. Jim's growth in finally accepting how much he needed Blair's input, advice, support. Their growth as a team.

It had been an enlightening drive home.


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