Acknowledgments: Thanks go to Lola for betaing this story so quickly.
Disclaimers: All standard disclaimers apply. Pet Fly Productions and UPN own the characters and the series. No copyright infringement intended. No money was made in writing or sharing this story.
Warnings: Not a HHJJ story. Perhaps a hankie warning is appropriate.
"Professor, it won't be long now," the female voice says softly through the telephone wire.
"I'll be right there," he whispers, unable to find his voice, and hangs up the phone. Pulling his jacket from the back of his chair, he leaves his office and races down the stairs. He looks briefly at his watch. It's only two in the afternoon. Jim will still be at the station. He nods absently to himself as he gets into the car, knowing it will be easier this way, knowing Jim won't understand.
He races down the hallway, nodding an acknowledgment to the nurse who had called. He pulls off his jacket and drops it to the floor as soon as he enters the room. Taking a deep breath, he releases it slowly, then moves to the bed and gingerly sits beside the supine body.
Dull blue eyes blink at him.
"I'm here," he whispers, tenderly brushing the short hair from her forehead.
"I know you are, sweetheart. That's why I'm here."
"To guide me?" she asks in a shy, almost little girl, voice.
"Yes, to guide you." His voice quavers, but he gently smiles at her, reassuring her. He runs his fingers over her cheek and she presses ever so softly against them.
He takes her hand with his other hand and places it over his heart. "Do you feel that?"
"Hold on to it until you feel safe enough to let go."
"Okay," she mouths.
Her eyes focus slightly behind him and she tilts her head slightly as if listening. A soft smile blossoms over her face. Slowly, she focuses back on his face. "He says it's time."
"Are you ready?"
Her nod is barely perceptible.
"He's happy to see me," she whispers in awe.
"He'll take good care of you," he reassures her.
She looks back to the guide he cannot see. "So much love."
A tear escapes and slowly rolls down his face.
"He says you forgive me." She focuses back on him and smiles tentatively.
"I do, Alex. I do forgive you."
"I can let go now?" she asks, only a little fear trembling in her throat.
"Yes. You can let go, sweetheart."
She smiles at him, but doesn't move her hand. He holds it to his chest with both hands, providing an anchor as she takes the final journey. He watches as her chest slowly rises and falls, until, at last, it rises no more.
He looks up into her beautiful face, with still just a trace of a smile gracing it. Gently, he closes her eyes, and leans forward to kiss her forehead. He tenderly arranges her hands on her chest.
Someone touches him from behind and he turns to see the nurse, who had been so kind to him, who had been so kind to her.
"I don't understand why you're here," she whispers, and immediately blushes, realizing she has overstepped her bounds.
"Because she didn't have anyone else," he answers just as softly, knowing she won't understand.
"But after everything she did..."
"I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word would harrow up thy soul."
"I don't understand," she whispers apologetically.
"Everyone should have at least one person to mourn their passing," he says, standing at last. "You'll see to all the arrangements?"
He turns and picks his jacket off the floor and moves down the hall, feeling hollow, feeling his failure drag behind him like Marley's chains. The sob catches him by surprise and he uses one hand to steady himself against the wall. Years of grief wash over him and he knows if he doesn't move he'll drown. Again.
He stumbles into the sunshine, hating the world for continuing to spin, hating it for not having the decency to mourn.
He should have been able to save her. It was his job after all. It was why he was made -- to help the lost. He should have found a way to rescue her from her own private hell just as he had been rescued from the waters which had separated him from all he held dear.
He could feel the wail build within his soul and wondered if he would be strong enough to survive the devastation.
"I got you, buddy," a familiar voice whispers, as strong arms engulf him. "It's okay. It's going to be okay."
The wail rolls through him but doesn't destroy, harnessed by the love surrounding him. Ironic, to be saved once again by the one he had failed the most.
"You're forgiven, Blair. You've always been forgiven." The soft words are pressed against his temple.
He gives himself over to the sorrow, knowing he will be protected, knowing he has an anchor to follow home.
Hamlet, I, 5 quoted
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