by Jane Davitt

I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to analyze it. I just need you out of here by the time I get back.

He's not sure what he expects to see when he opens the door. He can hear a heartbeat behind it, but it's surrounded by emptiness, a sound, no more, unanchored. He puts his hand against the wooden surface and wills himself to stay calm.

Space. He needs space. He needs Blair gone from his space. It's a need he can't explain, any more than he's ever been able to explain why he's kept Blair close for so long.

If he lets himself examine this, he'll fall apart, and he can't do that, so he doesn't, won't.

When he's got his space, he thinks it's all going to make sense. He hopes so. He's sacrificed Blair for an answer and if he doesn't get it -- if it was all for nothing --

He walks into a void. There's nothing left.

His furniture, his … stuff, all the useless shit and debris a human drags around with them, oh, that's still here, all of it, but there's nothing of Blair left. The boxes he'd left in the middle of the room are gone, all of them. The doors to Blair's room stand open and inside the tucked-away heart of the loft, is more emptiness.

He glances at the kitchen and sees spaces in the rows of jars, can smell absences as if they were presences; Blair's herbal teas, his funky food, his organic honey and pungent cheeses: gone.

He looks back at the heartbeat and tilts his head, closes his eyes. Blair doesn't smell of anything. No candles bathe him in light, no soap masks his sweat and musk, encasing him in a shell Jim's senses have patiently broken through again and again.

No soap. No smell.

Blair is glass, distilled water, invisible.

No smell.

Jim gasps, draws in air, urgently, panicking, and Blair's eyes open at that and finally there's something beside a heartbeat in the room. There's blue.

"You --" It's a question, an acceptance, an accusation. It's all Jim can say before the panic tears through him and the world wavers.

Blair's legs are bent into the elegant awkwardness of a lotus and he's sitting, naked, on the floor. The rings are gone from his ears and his hair is cropped shorter. For once, Jim can look at him without thinking of sex. Without wanting to set his marks into Blair's skin, claims of ownership drawn in sweat, come, spit.

Blair doesn't answer, because words would hang in the emptiness and Blair's words fill spaces like no one else's ever had. Blair's words give Jim answers, always. Take away the terror of ignorance.

He's told Blair to go. Give him space. Blair's done one of those things.

But he hasn't gone. He hasn't left Jim alone, with questions.

Jim knows Blair is there. His senses are screwing with him, because Blair's breathing, has to be, and that's noisy, and Blair's body can't help but exude odors, subtle and intoxicating, even when it's scrubbed pure and clean.

He breathes in; listens.

Heartbeat and emptiness. And the heartbeat should be loud, invasive, but it's not. It's matched to his own and he thinks it'll stay that way, no matter what he does.

He's not sure this is real.

He sits down, heavily, gracelessly, and closes his eyes. After a long time listening, he puts out his hand and Blair's slides into it, cool and light.

"Tell me why I'm doing this to us," Jim begs and Blair sighs and Jim can hear that, and smell the toothpaste Blair' used and feel the drift of Blair's exhaled air brush his face.

"There's this woman --" Blair begins, his voice calm, holding all the answers, and Jim listens because Blair always knows.

(And didn't go.)

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