Disclaimer – Pet Fly owns them, not me. Damn.
A/N: Response to Challenge #51 on Sentinel Thursday LJ community – 'Losing Control'
They've got it all wrong, you know. Ass about backwards, as they say. They just look at the hair and the flannel and think 'new age hippy', 'touchy feely' and all that crap. They all think he falls apart at the drop of a hat, but they don't know shit, that's all I say. Sandburg is the strongest man I know, out of the two of us; has been from the very beginning. He doesn't lose it, not like I do. Or did. Shit, I'm rambling now.
Okay, he's lost his temper before, and the way he does that may look like he's out of control, but I know better, because I know him. I do, really, even though it seems like I don't. Christ, I'm at it again. Let's just get this straight, okay? He's had to deal with me for the last three and a half years, which means keeping me from losing it, which I do on a regular basis. Hyperactive senses, you know? Oh, I've gotten a lot better lately, fewer zone outs, yadda yadda, but only because he's the one in charge. I've come to accept that, even if I do grouse about it. Which all boils down to one fact: he's in control. All the time. Of me, him, shit, even Simon, but don't tell the boss that, because he wouldn't like it.
That's why last night came as a shock to me. He'd fooled me for a while, laughing and joking with the gang, bullshitting with the best of them. We were high by the time we got home, by cab, thank you very much, because I still couldn't drive with my leg like it is. I could see him fingering the badge in his jacket pocket, his thumb rubbing over the smooth leather as if he still couldn't believe it was real. I cracked some joke about his hair and his hand lifted up to ward me off. No way was I getting anywhere near it, he said, and there was a slight hitch to his voice. I could hear it; I have very sensitive hearing. Hey, that was supposed to be a joke.
I let it go, and him, and we went to our rooms. I was still listening, though. I guess I couldn't turn it off, now. Not now I'd heard his heart going a mile a minute and those soft hitches again to his breathing. I heard him rustling around in his room, getting undressed and then going to the bathroom. With us both being up, the rule about flushing after ten was shot anyway. Back in his room, he was settling down and I used the bathroom myself then, quickly finishing so we could both get some rest. I don't know what made me do it, but I stopped just outside his room, and listened. Just to check, okay? He knows I listen for him, we've already had that conversation, and it wasn't a pretty one, I tell you. He made me promise not to do it at home, and I usually do as I'm told. Have I mentioned that he's the one in charge? Oh, I have, haven't I?
So I cracked the door open when I heard him. The sounds were muffled, like he was trying to hold it together, but he wasn't being very successful about it. He was huddled on top of the covers and I could see the badge in one fist. The other was jammed into his mouth and I could see his teeth biting down on the white knuckles. His eyes were clenched tight but the tears were leaking out and he was shaking. I've seen men cry before; when you've been in war zones like I have it's part of the eventual fallout. I'll bet Sandburg can quote statistics on Post Traumatic Stress whatever until the cows come home, but you don't really want to know about that, do you? No, I didn't think so.
I guess everything just hit him. Perhaps the beer had lowered his shields or something, but he'd definitely lost it. I moved over to the bed and knelt down, which didn't do anything for my leg, either. He didn't even know I was there until my hand landed on his shoulder. Christ, he jumped a mile, because I don't think he expected me to be there. Blue eyes swimming in tears stared up at me and it was all there for me to see. The loss, fear, everything. He'd finally cracked and what was I going to do about it? Something must have shown on my face because the next minute we were on the floor and he had his face buried in my neck, deep, gut wrenching sobs shaking his body and the only thing I could do was hold on tight as he fell apart. Disjointed words emerged from him, the dissertation, me getting shot, the press conference, even Naomi was mentioned, and I held him through it all, knowing this was what he needed before he could put himself, no us, back together again. I felt like crying myself, but I didn't, and I won't, not yet. This is about him, and for once I'm going to be the strong one, and this time I'll get it right.