The One Left Behind ~ Blair

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Based on an original story and alternate future by Sonny & Ais called In the Company of Shadows.

The story contains..

Slash (M/M), het (M/F) and graphic language, violence and sexual situations. Not intended for anyone under 18!

Side Stories

The Beginning ~ Emilio, Sin
Minuet ~ Chingón, Gioia
Rainbow ~ Ryan
A Morning in Cedar Hills ~ Kassian, Boyd
Preface: Book 2 ~ Sin
Vanilla ~ Emilio, Carhart
Sideways ~ Emilio, Carhart
Fool ~ Emilio, Carhart
The One Left Behind ~ Blair
-somnia ~ Owen
Scrollwork ~ Vivienne


Around the Compound Stories, a Series of Events:
Incident #1 ~ Rebecca, Sin


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The One Left Behind

Blair side story

Written/uploaded on 9/11/2008 by Ais

Timeline: August 2021

The rain was cold against his face, icy tears from the sky that almost hurt as they hit. The black coat he'd chosen for the day had nothing resembling a hood, not that he would have used it even if there were one. Somehow, it seemed like it would be disrespectful.

Blair held the bouquet of flowers close to his chest as he quietly navigated the graveyard. It seemed like every time he came, the gravestones were a touch closer to each other, like someone was coming in during the night and inching the bodies closer, closer, trying to squeeze as much free space in as possible for all the thousands of other inhabitants in the city who were probably near death at that moment. War did that to a community; even the ones who were not initially killed in blasts, who felt Thank-God-I-Made-It-Through lucky, could later realize they'd long ago fallen prey to fallout and had been slowly dying anyway.

He knew the route he was taking so well that he could have done it blindfolded, but he kept his eyes open as he looked around in the same vague discomfort he always felt.

He hated funerals. He hated graveyards.

He hated deaths and he hated watching loved ones die.

He knew it was silly, because they were all mortal and frankly there were many people who he felt like shouldn't have been born in the first place, but in a way he would have preferred that humans were all immortal. Just so the pain of dying wouldn't have to be experienced by the ones left behind.

The gravestone he approached was small and modest, a simple grey stone with the words "Josephine Antoinnette Davis, 1986-2015, Beloved Daughter, Sister, Friend, and Protector; She's flying high in Heaven now" written below. Two small whorls carved into the gravestone on the lower corners were the only decoration, reflecting the same unassuming beauty that Josephine had displayed in life.

Blair crouched beside her grave, reaching out to slowly run his fingers across the rough stone. He hadn't been able to bring himself to come to her grave on the first two anniversaries of her death, but since then he'd made a point and each time he felt that same sharp pain in his heart as he stared at the tangibility of her passing. He'd thought it would go away with time but maybe it never would. Maybe all the regrets and missed chances would always plague him when he knelt there, staring at her name carved with finality in the stone.

After a moment, he carefully set the bouquet down, the colors vivid against the ground. He'd ended up choosing white roses and orange lilies, because they'd been her favorite colors and he thought it looked pretty. He reached into his pocket and set a small toy plastic helicopter beside the two others in various stages of disrepair. There should have been one more, but someone had apparently stolen it in the last year. He should have felt something about that but he didn't; just the same blank emptiness that had started with her death and since then only existed as clearly as when he was crouched by her grave.

"Hey Jo," he said after a long moment; his voice was scratchier than he remembered it being, but it was probably just the emotions making it heavier and rougher. He fell silent briefly, looking down at the little helicopter, then flicked the rotor blades on top as a slight distraction for himself to regroup his thoughts.

"Jim and Nellie are good," he said after a bit, his tone carefully casual. "They've got a new kid on the way. I said they should name it Surprise Johnson but Jim's dead set on Damon whether it's a boy or girl. Nellie says he's delusional but Jim says he'd settle for Damona if he has to." He smiled faintly. "I think he's obsessed 'cause he's still got a man-crush on Damon Miller, even though he says not. Remember that time you snapped that pic of him half-naked and put it in Jim's locker with a heart?" His smile widened briefly but his dark eyes reflected the pained feeling inside; he fell silent, the smile dropping away, and he looked to the side.

"Uh. The Agency got screwed. We actually got infiltrated, can you believe it? Connors was killed. Good riddance on that, except he was kinda fun to mock. We've got Beaulieu in charge now. I'm kinda scared for what that means but, I dunno, so far it's been okay I guess. Too early to tell."

Another bout of silence, broken only by the hushed sound of the rain. "David got hurt bad in the attack. I guess he freaked when he thought Lani'd be in danger and the bad guys took him out on his way to her. She's fine, no worries. He's still recovering from some broken bones and a cracked vertebra. He's kinda pissed, 'cause he wants to be training. Lani said it's the only time she'll ever get him stuck in the house for longer than a few hours, though, so I think she's happy. Other than, you know, the fact he's hurt. But then he said it was more time with Yumi so who knows."

He fell quiet and his eyes inevitably strayed back to her grave. He stared intently at the stone, at the dying grass around it, at the little broken helicopters he'd left for her. He thought about her huge grin, those bright white teeth standing out vividly against her smooth dark skin, the mischief and amusement in her eyes, the stupid American flag bandanas she used to wear over her hair on 4th of July and the way she teased him for being unpatriotic when he said it made her look dumb.

He thought of the way she used to sit cross-legged and how she leaned forward intently, arms jerking around in grand movements as she relayed her most recent tale, of the way she always gave him more credit in the stories than he deserved while casually downplaying her own achievements. He remembered the quiet times she sat in the corner with a book, wearing those simple silver reading glasses that he'd loved to see her in, the way she'd so intently stared at the words as if her entire world was zeroed in on the story she was reading.

A tide of emotions rose slowly within him, inexorable and inescapable and something he hated as much as he didn't.

"And I..." His voice caught when he tried to talk again. "I miss you so much, Jo."

The rain was coming down harder now, soaking his clothing and turning the faded brown and green grass a shade closer to grey in the mud. He reached up to wipe some of the water out of his eyes, and it was only then that he realized part of the problem was he was crying. Part of him wanted to just sit there quietly, but the words within him couldn't stay bottled up, the pain couldn't exist inside alone, and this was the one day a year he allowed himself to feel so clearly the regrets of a life he'd wanted so much but now would never have.

"I know I said it last time, but... I love you. I loved you. I should've said it when you were alive. I should've--" He cut himself off with a sharp shake of his head and looked away, brooding, pained eyes caught on the distant twisted trees and the hundreds of gravestones from similar lives cut short. "It doesn't matter anymore, I guess. Too late now. But when I think about it, I get so mad at myself. I think of all those times I could've, I think... of the times you looked like you wanted to say something too."

The tears started flowing again down his cheeks, mixing warmth with the cold rain, and he grit his teeth but couldn't help a catch in his breath anyway. "Shit," he hissed in frustration, "I don't know why I get this way here. It doesn't change anything, but... Fuck, Jo, if I could go back, I'd do it so different. I'd tell you how I felt, I'd ask you to live with me, I'd take the bullets for you, I'd save you this time, I'd fucking save you..."

As a rule, he did his best not to think about her death, about her blood flowing over his hands and that unwavering grin she'd given him even as pain had filled her eyes, had tightened her muscles and caused a shudder as she'd coughed with a rattle. Of her last smug words of, "Beat ya," and how he'd never known what she'd meant -- beat him to what? Death? The helicopter? Saving the agents they'd been sent to rescue? Whatever it was, he wished he'd been the one who had beat her, he wished he hadn't been the one who'd survived.

The strength of his regret and despair grew sharp and overwhelming. He covered his face with his hands, crouched forward with his elbows on his thighs and for a moment he didn't care that he was in public, he didn't care that anyone could walk by this forgotten grave and see him crying, that he couldn't breathe properly and that the rain was ice cold fingers against his neck. All he could feel was the pain of being left behind, of being the one who kept going and going even while the ones he loved fell along the way. First his parents, then his brother disappeared, then the woman he loved...

Moments like this, he thought of Nellie and Jim and he hated that it could have been Jo and him, he hated to imagine how beautiful she would have been with a full belly, how she would have passed that same mischief onto the kids and how she would have been as wonderful a mother as her mother had been to her. He'd never thought much about children except when he sent presents to his nieces and nephews, and he didn't want them with anyone but Jo.

Part of him wished that somehow it could have happened, that they could have had a kid together and even if the child would have lost its mother, he would have loved it enough for both of them. He would have told his kid stories about Jo's bravery, her compassion, and he would have shown off all the pictures he had of her.

But the time was gone, long gone, and Jo was never going to stand at his side again, giving him hell every time he made a face at her cooking, or throwing the food he made down on the plate and declaring it inedible; she'd never again come up behind him and suddenly hug him, chin resting on his shoulder as she grinned and told him the latest joke she'd heard on a mission; she'd never again whisper to him at night that she was afraid that another war would break out, that her family would be hit harder this time, that they wouldn't make it through, that next time Blair may not return from a mission.

All those missed chances, all those opportunities he hadn't quite reached for, all those moments when he'd frozen and told himself next time, next time he'd tell her, next time he'd risk it. It was all gone forever and all he had left was the burning pain of regret weighing down his body. Part of him wanted to stay there like that, to cry until the rain leeched any warmth or life out of him, until there was nothing left but that gaping hole he felt so sharply inside. But he knew there was no point. He knew it wouldn't change the past and he knew Jo wouldn't have wanted her death to hurt him like that.

So he struggled to regain control and although it took him well over a minute, he was finally able to stop the catching breaths, to slow the tears that had blurred his vision, to push the pain and regret down and away until he was able to drop his hands and just stare at the grass again. It was only a matter of years before even the vague healthiness that could be seen in the yellow-green blades would disappear and die out, joining all the brown blades around them, he thought as he tried to focus on something else.

The graveyard wasn't kept up as well as he would have liked, but that was unsurprising. Because she'd worked for a secret agency she hadn't been buried in the nicer war memorial graveyards, but she wouldn't have wanted that anyway. Here, she was buried with family. Blair had already determined that, even with the dying grass and shrinking plots, he wanted to be buried here too.

He stayed silent for a long moment, waiting until he was certain he was completely under control again despite the pain in his dark eyes and the stiff way he held his shoulders, and then he finally looked at her gravestone again. It remained still and unchanging, conversely as unmoved by his display as she would have been moved in life.

"I brought your favorite crackers." His voice was back to the studied casualness of conversation, as if she was sitting there cross-legged, leaning forward with her arms resting on her knees and watching him with an idly interested expression on her face.

He ignored the imagined ghost of her memory and pulled a beat-up package of stale crackers out of his coat pocket. He set it on the grass next to the flowers, the box rustling the plastic wrapping on the bouquet and causing a few bright orange petals to fall to the grass. He knew that in no time the cardboard would be soaked through and ruin the crackers for consumption, but they were already so old that he didn't care and he figured the ants and other insects would come eat it up once the box ripped.

Josephine had always been very interested in the cycle of life; she'd used it as a reason why humans would bounce back after the war, why life would go on when it seemed like everything had fallen apart. She'd said that all the people who had fallen and died, tragically or unfairly or rightfully, would all give back to the Earth the strength and life it needed for the next generation to heal itself and continue to move forward.

"It's the last box I have and you know how hard they are to find," Blair said, watching as the rain drops quickly darkened the box in a random, spreading pattern. "So... it's the last one for awhile. Maybe ever."

He stayed there for a long moment, the words hanging between the grave and him, the possible finality of that tradition making him feel uncomfortable.

He reached out, cold fingers lightly brushing the little plastic helicopters again. She'd loved to fly, as much as he had. Whenever he was in the sky now he imagined her with him, sitting at his side with that thrilled expression on her face as she laughed and grinned uncontrollably, yelling that she loved this job, she loved this place. Perhaps the cruelest part of her death was that she'd died on the ground before the helicopter could lift her that one last time toward the freedom of the clouds.

Finally, he stood. "I should go. I told Jim I'd stop by if I could; he said he's got something for me but who knows what when it comes to him. I'm kinda hoping for a gift certificate to Brownie's." He smiled to himself, something sad in the expression. "Not likely, I know. Guess I'm just being optimistic."

He paused, staring one more long moment at her grave before he murmured, "So... Bye, Jo. I'll see you next year."

He turned and walked away without looking back, the rain pattering against the graveyard below, the sky bleak and dim in a reflection of what he felt inside. Behind him, the gifts gathered raindrops and water, drooping slowly as the memories of a woman who once had been so alive were left behind once more.