Rating: PG
Spoilers: TS312 Prisoner X (*d'oh*)

Beta'd by BJ Kira & Calie



As Jim walked away from the prison, he heard someone running up to him from behind. Without looking, he knew who it was.


He turned around, seeing the concern on his friend's face.
"I'd rather be alone right now, Chief."

"Are you sure? Simon told me you seemed pretty upset, and I have to second that motion." Blair touched Jim's shoulder, causing him to flinch and move away from the touch.
"Don't you want to go home?"

Jim nodded. "But first I'd just like to take a little walk."

"Fine, fine. I'll go with you."

They walked for a while, in silence. The ride home was just as silent. Back at the loft, Jim went to take a shower, while Blair prepared dinner.

Jim was glad to be home, and even happier to be able to shower in privacy without people watching him all the time. He had never thought of it while in Starkville, but now he realized that he smelled like prison. And he could not wait to get rid of that smell.

As Jim emerged from the shower a while later, he sniffed the air. "Chili", he said with a forced smile.

'Yeah'. Blair rounded the kitchen counter, and placed a steaming plate at Jim's place at the table. "I'm so glad you're home, man."

Jim sagged down into his chair. "So am I, Chief. All that hatred and insanity, it was as if it was eating me alive…inside and out."

The haunted look in Jim's eyes and the slump to the strong shoulders gave a window into the distressed soul inside. Blair instantly decided to give him the time he needed.
"If you want to talk about it, I'm here, man. If you want to do it now, it's fine. If you want to wait, that's fine too."

Jim drew a deep breath, and said in a thick voice, "You're a good friend, Sandburg. You know, when I was in there... every time I thought I couldn't take it anymore, you were there. If not in the flesh, at least in my thoughts. And ever since we met, you've helped me with my senses and my feelings. You've set me free, Blair. And I am forever thankful for that."