Reflection

by Juli

July 2003

SPECIAL NOTE: Response to Peja’s “There was something in his eyes that said he was broken” first line challenge.

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There was something in his eyes that said he was broken... and if Brian Rafe could see it in his own reflection, then it was damn sure that Jim Ellison could too.

The young detective leaned forward, bracing himself by clutching the sides of the sink. It took every ounce of self-control that Rafe possessed not to smash the mirror and the telltale image it showed the world.  Smashing it, though, would likely create noise, not to mention shards that would cut and bleed. Rafe was hemorrhaging enough the way it was, even though it was his soul that was bleeding out and not his body. Besides, Ellison was way too observant and the last thing Brian wanted to do was attract his attention.

Not now, not when it was glaringly obvious that it was too late.

He should have known better. He should have realized that a man like Jim Ellison was out of his reach. When he joined the Major Crimes department and was introduced to Jim… for a brief, sparkling time, Brian remembered what it felt like to feel worthy of love or, at least, consideration. He let himself believe, a little bit, that he might be able to do more than remember that feeling; that he might actually be able to experience it again.

It had been hard to work past Taylor ’s ghost but Rafe had expected that. Taylor had died months before Brian had been promoted to detective. Cracks had begun to appear in his shadow’s power over him before Rafe had even met Jim. Passing the detective’s exam had started that healing process and having Jim Ellison’s cool blue gaze regard him as an equal had gone a long way towards finishing it.

What Rafe hadn’t expected was Blair Sandburg.

Some detective he turned out to be, Brian thought as he glared himself in the unforgiving mirror. He’d seen the camaraderie between Jim and Blair but chalked it up to the symbiotic relationship of police partners. Tonight had shown him how wrong his perception had been. All of Major Crimes had gone to dinner to celebrate Joel’s twentieth anniversary as a member of the Cascade Police Department. For the first time, Rafe had the opportunity to observe Jim and Blair’s interaction off-duty and it had been an eye-opening experience. With a sinking feeling, he realized that there was only one thing the fleeting touches and shared smiles could mean. What he’d assumed was friendship between Jim and Blair was actually much deeper.

With that realization, Rafe’s world came crashing down. Taylor ’s voice, so silent these last weeks, reasserted itself. His lover’s words were as ugly in death as those he’d uttered when alive. Stupid. Useless. Unwanted. The large banquet room had suddenly seemed stuffy and close and Brian had fled. In the bathroom, staring at his reflection, Brian clearly saw what Jim no doubt did. Why would someone like Jim want a damaged piece of goods like Rafe when he could have a man like Blair Sandburg? Despite their size difference, Brian had no doubt, that if he
and Blair were placed on a cosmic scale, which of the two men would be judged more worthy.

“Fool.” Brian muttered to himself.

His reflection mouthed the words back at him in utter agreement.

A burst of laughter echoed through the door and Rafe realized he’d have to rejoin the party. Running some cool water in the sink, he splashed some on his face. It helped him focus and, if it washed away any tears, well, he was sure his silent, reflective partner wouldn’t tell anybody.

Squaring his shoulders, Rafe walked back towards the rest of the group. As he exited the bathroom, he passed Simon Banks, who was on his way in.

“Captain,” Brian greeted his boss.

“It’s just Simon tonight, Brian,” Simon corrected him.

“Sure thing, sir,” Rafe agreed. Obviously distracted, he moved to rejoin their table.

Simon watched him go. He’d noticed Brian’s reaction to Jim and Blair’s openness tonight. At first, he’d been worried that the detective was disgusted but then he realized that what he was seeing wasn’t prejudice, it was disappointment. Although he felt bad for Rafe’s pain, he actually was quite encouraged by the younger man’s reaction. It meant that Simon himself had a chance.

There was something in Rafe’s eyes that said he was broken... and Simon very much wanted the opportunity to try and fix it.

~the end~

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