Seen by Candlelight

by Jane Davitt

Jim tracked Blair by hearing to his car and listened to him drive away. He had two hours at least before Blair returned, full of popcorn and his own take on the movie, his hair and skin reeking of butter and, probably, perfume from his date.

Blair had given Jim earplugs and a sleep mask to help him rest, but nothing to block out the smell of another woman on him, something that disturbed Jim's sleep more than street noise and sunrise.

The candles Blair had blown out were still warm; the pooled wax around the wicks a translucent puddle. Jim dipped a finger into the wax. He'd done this as a child, peeling off the shell of set wax and seeing the whorls of his fingerprint, clear and distinct enough for him to realize now that it must have been back when he still had the senses.

He let the wax harden and picked it off, feeling nostalgic, then settled down as he'd seen Blair do so often.

He didn't try to pretzel his legs; baby steps.

The match flared bright, the reek of it blurred by the scent of smoke from the candle he lit, and he hesitated, then blew it out. One candle would do.

He stared at the yellow flicker and watched it settle down. There was no draft to disturb it and he was sitting far enough away that his slow exhalations did no more than make it shimmer.

What did Blair see in this golden light? Peace? Emptiness? A happy future? What was Jim supposed to be looking for; an answer to a question he was scared to ask?

Too much uncertainty for one candle; maybe that was why Blair lit so many.

Jim sighed and watched the flame bend away from him, then return forgivingly. Blair did that, rolling with the punches Jim sent his way, engaging, hopeful smile in place.

And Blair burned brightly. Hot, dangerous to touch, but, God, how Jim wanted to fly into all that beautiful, welcoming, beckoning light and the hell with the inevitable sizzle as his wings ignited.

His vision narrowed, blossomed to discover a score of colors in the flame; and he was gone, lost.

"Jim? Jim!"

He tried to open his eyes and found that they already were. Blinking hurt and so did moving from the floor to the couch, but Blair helped him.

"What were you doing?" Concern and exasperation lost out to relief as Jim smiled at him, and then curiosity. "Were you meditating?"

Flip, concealing replies crowded his mouth, but in the end, Jim nodded with helpless honesty.

"Really? That is so cool." Blair beamed encouragingly. "Feel enlightened?"

No, but I'm still going to do this…

Jim pushed his hand into tangled curls and drew Blair close, kissing him lightly.

"Yeah. How about you?"

Blank-eyed, Blair stared at him and Jim shivered, lost in the cold and the dark.

Then Blair smiled, his eyes bright.

"I am now."

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