Author's Notes:

Okay, I admit it. I've been jonesing for some serious Jim-angst, and although this fits the bill, I'll warn you that more is coming. I guess the winter blahs have snared me too, but instead of bitching about things I can't change, I decided to mess with Jim for a while. It makes me feel better, but I'm sure Jim will appreciate it when I'm over this mood. <g>

The song quoted below is Angel by Sarah MacLachlan.

No spoilers, considering this is set before the series. I have probably violated canon somewhere along the way; take that up with the Dark & Dreary Muse.

By the way, this is dedicated to all the Jim-Babes out there.

Hope you enjoy or whatever.

[Addendum 09-16-04: I have no idea *why* the popular radio stations decided this was a love song. The "angel" in the song is heroin and so it's supposed to be angsty. Read the lyrics, people!! Rant over. ::smile::]

CHOICE

by

D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 03-20-99)

Spend all your time waiting,
For that second chance,
For a break that would make it okay.
There's always some reason
To feel not good enough,
And it's hard at the end of the day.

James Joseph Ellison, Jimmy to his family and friends, and Ellison to the rest, sat carefully on the edge of the bed. The hotel room was standard fare: queen-sized bed with a hideous floral print spread which matched the heavy, sun-blocking drapes; bureau of the wood veneer variety; and the alcove with sink and mirror just outside the bathroom door. It was unsentimental, cold, barren, with no identity of its own.

Like him.

I need some distraction,
Oh, beautiful release,
Memory seeps from my veins.
Let me be empty,
Oh, and weightless, and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight.

Tomorrow he would graduate-- summa cum laude. Had the braided cord to hang around his neck, and the acceptance letters from graduate schools as proof that he was the best among the best, master of all he studied. But, yet, it wasn't good enough. His father was going to miss this graduation as he had the high school one. "Business before pleasure, Jimmy." Pleasure, hell. The old man didn't believe in pleasure, unless it was ignoring his eldest son. If that was the case, then William Ellison had to be one of the most pleasured men on earth.

"I can play the same game, Dad. I can ignore you, my future, my whole fucking wasted life!"

His fingers curled around the syringe in his hand, and he realized the peace he craved, the serenity he had seen in others, was within his reach.

In the arms of an angel,
Fly away from here,
From this dark, cold hotel room,
And the endlessness that you fear.
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie.
You're in the arms of the angel,
May you find some comfort here.

He was tired of trying, tired of failing, tired of being someone he wasn't, someone he'd never be. Bill Ellison was a cold, hard, son of a bitch, and although he did a pretty fair imitation, it was all bullshit. When he hurt people, he felt it-- for days, for weeks, forever. His brother probably thought he hated him, which he didn't. He just hated what they had become to each other. So he had gone off to college for three years, and had never made it back home. He was always taking summer classes (hence, his early graduation), or volunteering in a community program, or assisting a professor in a project.... Anything to avoid Cascade and its memories.

It wasn't that they were all bad; he had actually managed to snag a few good times. It was just that the bad ones were so...goddamned awful.

So tired of the straight line,
And everywhere you turn
There's vultures and thieves at your back,
And the storm keeps on twisting....
You keep on building the lie
That you make up for all that you lack.

His friends were all out celebrating, as couples, or as the whole gang. He had been invited to go along. Several of the women had made him private offers, but he'd turned them all down, acknowledging the inner urge that told him this was it-- this was the moment of no return. It was time to make a decision: go forward, go back, or don't go at all.

He considered the options carefully. The path of least resistance was to continue on the road he now walked: MBA, trainee, junior partner, senior partner, and retire at fifty with a wad of money-- and a string of personal failures, which meant they weren't failures at all. He could also go back; fighting for his father's attention, fighting for his father's favor, fighting for his father's approval...and never getting what he really wanted-- his father's love.

Or he could just stop fighting once and for all.

It don't make no difference
Escaping one last time.
It's easier to believe in this sweet madness, oh,
This glorious sadness that brings me to my knees.

Roger had nearly pissed in his pants when straight-as-an-arrow, my-body-is-a-temple Ellison had wanted to make a buy. On first thought, he figured it was a joke. On second thought, he worried it was a set-up. Then Jimmy, fed up with the delays and excuses, did something he hadn't done since his friend Bud had been murdered; he allowed another to see into his soul. His pal had paled, wanting nothing to do with the deal. But the haunted, shadow-filled eyes had commanded his obedience, and good ol' Roger had come through.

He thought of Hamlet's famous soliloquy, not the usual "to be or not to be" part, but further along when the Dane had observed, "what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause." What dreams indeed? Was there a worse fate awaiting him? Could there be a worse fate than wallowing in a constant stream of lies, betraying yourself, denying who you are...hell, forgetting what you are....

Wait. Where had that one come from? What he was? It was the who that was lost, right? What he was had never been in question, right? Right, freak.

His hand trembled.

In the arms of an angel,
Fly away from here,
From this dark, cold hotel room,
And the endlessness that you fear.
You are pulled from the wreckage
Of your silent reverie.
You're in the arms of the angel,
May you find some comfort here.

Is this what he wanted? Or was he just reacting to his father, dancing to William's tune like he had done all his life? Damn, it would be a shame to die stuck in that same old rut....

He got up, and went to the bathroom. Putting the cap back on the syringe, he wrapped it in toilet paper, and tossed it into the trash. Then he stood before the mirror in the alcove, and mentally snipped the strings that connected him to his parent and puppetmaster.

"Fuck you, Dad. Think I'll join the Army."

Choice made, Jim Ellison lay back on the ugly coverlet...and slept.

You're in the arms of the angel....
May you find some comfort here.

THE END

Comments? D.L. Witherspoon