Disclaimers: Hey, we're doing this for free. Just don't tell our mothers, and nobody'll get hurt.

Pairing: Jim/Blair

Rating: NC-17 for male/male sex... lots of it.

Notes: The authors freely acknowledge that this is not so much a story as it is a long-winded and direct manifestation of Kinks On Parade. This is what happens when Bone and Aristide fight over who gets to write the naughty bits. Sincere thanks go out to Kady, Dawn, and Kat for beta bravery in taking on both of us at once, and a wave to Merri-Todd: Hey, MT, we swear we came up with this all by our little selves, and we chalk any similarities up to cosmic alignment of the planets.

Summary: Econo-sized smut. Price Club size. Probably gets in Guinness for the world's largest pop-tart.

Feedback: is welcome at JBonetoo@yahoo.com and mtriste@hotmail.com

Out of Whack

By Bone & Aristide

September, 1999

Jim checked his watch for the fourth time, grimacing while his stomach growled. Once again, Sandburg had managed to make a plan, pick a time, and then be late. For a moment, visions of low-blood-sugar vengeance danced in his head.

He sighed and looked around impatiently. There wasn't a whole hell of a lot to look around at, unless you were really into heavy brocade curtains. Chu Fu's Chinese Emporium had the distinction of being exactly halfway between the station and the university, as well as having the best spring rolls in Cascade, so it had become their ad hoc meeting place. The curtained booths also allowed for at least the illusion of privacy if police business had to be discussed over won ton soup and crab rangoon. He'd heard of more illicit activity taking place in Chu Fu's booths, but decided that the proprietor himself had started that rumor as a way of picking up business.

Jim desultorily opened his menu-- he knew it all by heart. The egg fu yung sounded good, he thought, and he could smell it in the kitchen, fresh and hot, making his mouth water, but he could already hear the lecture from Blair: "Hello? Does the word 'cholesterol' mean anything to you? I don't even want to think about your arteries." With a sigh, Jim let his eyes drift to the less life-threatening side of the menu.

Just when he'd decided on the beef and broccoli, certain he could convince Blair that the beneficial properties of the broccoli outweighed the big bad beef, he heard a familiar tread on the wooden floor, accompanied by a heartbeat he sometimes thought he could hear in his sleep.

"Sorry, sorry, sorry," Blair said as he ducked inside the curtain. "You wouldn't believe the traffic."

"If you'd been here twenty minutes ago, you wouldn't have hit any traffic," Jim grumbled, handing his menu over.

"Bitch, bitch, bitch," Blair muttered.

"Are you going to say everything three times today?" Jim asked.

"Okay, okay, okay," Blair said, then clapped his hand over his mouth and laughed. "Guess so."

Jim smothered a grin. "What are you getting?"

"I dunno. Something quick," Blair said. He leaned toward Jim and said in a stage whisper, "I've got a date."

Now there was a shock. Sandburg on a date? Why, he hadn't been on a date since... the night before. Jim shook his head. "Any chance it's the same girl you went out with last night?"

Blair looked momentarily nonplussed, then waved his hand at Jim. "Melody? Nah. I mean, she was nice and all, but not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, you know?"

"I thought she was a post-doc chemistry student."

Blair looked up, scratching his forehead; eyes squinted as he went through the motions of trying to categorize his dating fodder, then shook his head. "No, no, no, that's Melanie," he said, with a look at Jim that said he should have known better.

Jim glared at him, wondering why he should be expected to keep track of the revolving door that made up Blair's love life.

Blair shrugged. "They're both redheads," he said, as if that both excused and explained everything.

"I don't know where you keep finding women who'll go out with you," Jim said.

Blair scoffed. "Are you kidding? They line up, man."

They probably did, Jim thought sourly. In the year since Sandburg moved in with him, he'd spent maybe half his nights in the loft. It sometimes occurred to Jim to wonder why he'd bothered giving the kid a place to stay; he was sure if Blair wanted he could have moved into any one of about a dozen women's apartments. Most men who talked about women and sex as much as Sandburg did were trying to compensate for a lack of the same in their lives, Jim had found. Not so for Sandburg. He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. Jim watched Blair's eyes flicker lightning-quick over the menu, and tried not to think about himself, about how hard it had gotten for him to do either.

His thoughts were interrupted by the waiter, and they gave their order, with Blair opting for Chinese vegetables and steamed rice, and Jim stubbornly sticking with the beef and broccoli compromise.

"So who's the lucky girl tonight?" Jim asked, but Blair shushed him, his head turned toward the side of the curtained booth. Jim put his hand out in the classic "What's up?" position and Blair answered with his hand sign for "Hang on a minute."

Curiosity piqued, Jim turned up his hearing and aimed it at the booth on the other side of the curtain.

"... another one bites the dust to Cock-of-the-Walk Sandburg," he heard a woman say giddily, and another immediately chimed in with, "You've been here six months and he's just getting around to you? Poor thing."

Laughter erupted, and Jim could pick out four distinct voices, all female. He glanced over at Blair, ready to deliver a pop to the side of his head, but Blair still held his hand up, obviously entranced. A vague thought of listening at keyholes and 'lest ye be vexed' ran through his mind, but he refrained from comment and decided just to watch Blair, who looked a little bit like a red setter on point.

"What's so funny?" he heard from a third voice. "Come on, Tina-- talk."

"Pour me another one, will you? No, not the daiquiri; I'll try the mai tai this time." Jim heard the sound of a glass being filled, then the one he assumed was Tina said, "It's like a rite of passage at Rainier. Like papering the trees after finals, or tossing tapioca out the caf window. Getting laid by Blair Sandburg is practically a requirement for graduation."

More laughter ensued, along with some distinctly unladylike snorting, and Jim wondered how long they'd been there, and how many rounds of mai tais they'd had. When he looked back at Blair, he'd gone slightly pink, and a little smile played at his lips.

Jim felt his cheeks grow hot. Great. It wasn't good enough that he had to imagine what Blair did on all those dates-- now it seemed he had to hear about it, too.

"You're in for a real treat, Steph," a third woman said, her voice sultry and vaguely slurred. "I dated a guy in high school like Blair, but I didn't know they came in the full-size version."

"What do you mean?" Steph asked.

"Oh, you know... didn't you ever go out with a guy who could--" her words dropped to a whisper, actually louder than her speaking voice. "Do it all night long?"

A cavalcade of giggles. Blair's cheeks were really pink now, but he was still smiling.

Jim heard Steph exhale. "You mean he keeps it up all that time?" she asked, the quintessential auditory picture of awe-struck innocence. "That sounds painful."

This time the laughter hurt Jim's ears, and even Blair pulled back a little.

"No, silly. He's like a slot machine-- keep feeding him quarters and he'll spill all night." This contribution from a voice Jim hadn't heard before, but the other women chimed in with a clapping, whooping chorus of lewd but ringing endorsements, so apparently she wasn't just whistling Dixie.

Jim's empty stomach tightened uncomfortably. He should go. He should just go duck into the bathroom right now, and maybe wash his hands twenty or thirty times and then when he came out the food would be there, and hopefully the girls would have moved on to some bearable topic like menstrual cycles or bikini-waxing or--

"We went through three sets of sheets one night," Tina said without a single trace of self-consciousness in her voice. Jim's face flushed hotter, but he didn't move. "The woman at the laundromat looked at me like I was crazy, but I think she was just jealous. I almost gave her Blair's phone number."

Hoots accompanied that pithy observation, and one voice, stridently drunk, added, "One thing's for sure-- he makes up in volume what he lacks in staying power. Any guy who can come four times in a row doesn't need to worry much about how long he takes, does he?"

"It doesn't hurt that he's hung like a horse," someone said hysterically, but Jim had given up trying to attach names to voices because the whole thing was just making him dizzy, and he was probably going to have a killer headache in about ten minutes. Tight, gleeful whispers of hilarity and murmurs of agreement drifted through the curtain. "For a little guy like that, he's packing some serious meat." Jim looked at Blair again-- he'd gone from pink to brick red, and the smug tilt of the lips had disappeared. Jim couldn't believe women really talked like that. Thank God they didn't talk that way about him, he thought, then his blood ran cold at the thought that perhaps they did-- how would he know? He felt for Sandburg, he really did. It was one thing to overhear a comment or two, but this... this was turning into something else entirely.

"Speaking of staying power," Steph said. "I guess I shouldn't get my hopes up that this is the start of a beautiful relationship?"

Catcalls reverberated through the curtain, and Jim decided women and mai tais really didn't mix. "Honey, let's just say you better enjoy him while you've got him. That man goes through women like a starving man at a country buffet."

"So why do we let him get away with it?" Steph asked, just a little haughtily.

"Because he can make you come so hard your nipples sweat," Tina said, with some apparent (albeit tipsy) authority.

Snorts of laughter almost drowned out Steph's reply. "You know, I thought men only treated other men like that. It's not like we're hanging out in public restrooms looking for a quickie."

"Maybe we should suggest that to Blair for when he gets through shtupping the junior faculty," one of them said. "Then he wouldn't even have to buy us dinner."

"He doesn't buy us dinner now," Tina asserted.

Howls of outraged laughter, and then Jim just tuned them out. He'd heard all he wanted to hear; more than he wanted to hear, really. And Blair looked like he might hyperventilate any minute. He looked mortified, and a little queasy, but underneath it all, was that still a hint of pride he saw lurking? Jim thought about the tone the women had used. Not bitter, not even sour. They'd sounded knowing, and almost... affectionate.

Blair Sandburg, prize stud of Rainier U. No, Jim couldn't really say he was surprised.

An awkward silence descended in their own booth. Blair wouldn't meet his eyes, and he fiddled with his chopsticks, nervous energy finding an outlet in a staccato drumbeat on the placemat.

"Uh, Sandburg... " Jim started, but Blair cut him off.

"You know what? I'm not really that hungry," he said. "Think I'll go... do... something," he stuttered. He started to slide out of the booth, and without thinking Jim reached out for him, grasping his arm near the elbow. Blair looked at him then, and it occurred to Jim that, pride or no pride, the 'lest ye be vexed' part of the equation had kicked in full-force. He didn't really know what to say.

"I'll bring home the leftovers," he murmured finally. He worried a little about letting him go, but really, what else could he possibly do? It wasn't like the women had been spouting lies or anything. Some truths were maybe just a little harder to hear than others.

"Thanks," Blair said under his breath, still not making eye contact. Then he pushed through the curtain, leaving Jim to contemplate beef and broccoli and a whole mess of Chinese vegetables all on his own.

Ah, the academic life. Study and lessons and learning, and the constant, unremitting expectation to perform.

Blair didn't know exactly how it had escaped his notice that his sex life was drifting in the same direction, but it had. And now, looking back on it, he could only assume that he'd gotten his doctorate in that area several times over. With honors. Vale-fucking-dictorian. Literally.

And maybe, enough was enough. Maybe he was a little bit tired of being distinguished as outstanding in the field of waving his dick around.

His hand was still on his keys, which he'd placed carefully in the basket so as to avoid disturbing Jim. He clamped down tight on the sudden, senseless urge to throw them across the room, and made himself let go.

Hearing what he'd overheard had been a tsunami, an earthquake, a natural disaster of awareness that left him exhausted with the knowledge that he'd be cleaning up the debris for a very long time to come.

And Stephanie, when he'd met up with her, had behaved pretty much like any other of his dates-- no speculative looks on her part, nothing to indicate that only an hour before she'd been privy to the most gratuitous assessment of his prowess. Nothing except a lingering taste of pineapple juice and rum, which he'd done his best to forget about.

She took him to bed eagerly, happily, and had been warm and welcoming and vibrant-- like they all were. They were all like that. They all were. He thought about it while he brushed his teeth, used a washcloth on the parts of his body that most needed it, and bundled himself gratefully into his solitary bed.

She'd been just like the others, just like always. There were subtle differences, of course; the degree of roundness at hip and breast, different sounds, smells, tastes. Whether they liked it high and hard, or low and slow. Stephanie had been one of the low and slow ones; familiar to him, to his body, even though he'd never been with her before tonight. Even the things that made her unique, that had brought her to his attention in the first place, that had engaged his mind and excited his body, seemed familiar to him. The whole night had felt like a re-run.

He liked the women he dated; genuinely liked them, and he'd always thought they liked him, too. There had been women who seemed to dig him as much out of bed as in it... Molly, for example, and Katie. But he wasn't sure anymore. Wasn't sure about anything-- maybe he'd been reading them wrong.

But for the most part, first dates usually turned into only dates, very occasionally followed up by a follow-up that never lived up to expectations and always made him wish he'd resisted the temptation to see if lightning could strike twice. Stephanie probably wouldn't be one of those. She'd been too much like the others, too much like always.

He himself, however, hadn't been just like always. Not at all. Hard to lose yourself in the pleasure of the moment when you have to keep one eye out for the scorecards. If he'd been one of those unfortunate individuals who suffered from test anxiety, he probably would have frozen completely.

But he wasn't. And he hadn't. He'd brought her off six times, competently and mechanically, observing with a continually deepening level of clinical dismay how he knew just how to do this. Against his thigh, under the heel of his hand, then his fingertip, around his tongue (twice), and on his cock, in that order. And during the last shimmying, dove-cooing spasm he joined in, just once, just to let go of some of whatever was in him that made him do this.

Just once. It was silent, an experience of unparalleled joylessness. A completely joyless orgasm, but he did it anyway. He hadn't really ever imagined a situation in which the words 'joyless' and 'orgasm' would live in the same sentence, and it sucked, big time, because prior to tonight, prior to the freaking final exam of Stephanie, fucking had been just about the most joyful thing ever.

And now, snug in his bed, despite his reflections on how disappointing it had been, he wondered if he shouldn't have gone ahead and done it a few more times. His body, after all, didn't really care what kind of upheaval was going on in his mind-- his body had been fully prepped to do it up, to go all the way, to get funky until he'd funked himself out.

Buzzing with melancholia and mellow outrage and reluctant lust, Blair covered his eyes with his left forearm and reached slowly down under the sheets with his right hand. It was, of course, a familiar action, but not one that he usually engaged in while burdened with emotional upheaval-- this was supposed to be fun, this used to be so much fun, like the greatest and most wonderful discovery in the natural world.

He knew himself, his body, his responses well-- none better. He was an expert, after all, a prodigy, a freak of nature, a highly skilled craftsman who could make this good, good, good, and with one circular flick of his thumb he made it better and yeah, that was it-- nothing like being pleasured by Blair Sandburg, nothing like coming and coming apart under Blair Sandburg's talented hands.

He swiped through the mess on his stomach and groaned softly. There was plenty more where that came from...

And again, for the benefit of those in the balcony without opera-glasses. Behind his closed eyes he saw Stephanie, Miranda, Jennifer, Crystal, Rachel, Beth, Tina; and he wondered what they gave him, what it was they took from him. Women, all those women, the way they reached for him and opened to him and came for him over and over... The way they smelled, the sweet hot stuff inside, the slip and slide of them-- Blair gasped and shivered, and knew that whether or not he felt like getting up, he'd have to change the sheets tonight.

Round two.

Enthusiastic applause. Thank you, thank you very much. Be sure to tip your waiters. Not a bad performance, really. Nothing he hadn't displayed a thousand times before. But he still wasn't having any fun. Well, beyond the nominal, of course. But the nominal didn't seem to be cutting it; not anymore.

And in his ears, ringing soundly with the effort of holding his breath and trying not to make too much noise, he heard those voices again. Maybe he always would.

...I thought men only treated other men like that...

Do they? Is this what men do? Is this a man thing?

...It's not like we're hanging out in public restrooms looking for a quickie...

Were there men somewhere doing just that? Not caring about anything else but feeling like... oh man, like this?

There was more here, more to think about, more to consider; but he was already hot again and rolling over on his stomach, on top of his own slick fist, happy for the cool softness of pillow that muffled him. He buried his face in it and panted, taking it slow, drawing it out until the line between suffering and pleasure blurred to nothing, until the riot of his thoughts broke up and drifted away.

Rapid and unspecific pictures flashed behind his closed eyes, pressed with each gasping breath into smooth cotton-- bodies to be satisfied, soft bodies, or, for the hell of it, for a change of pace, strong bodies to be filled, delighted; tight, trembling muscles fluttering on the sweat-soaked edge of exhaustion. To feel good-- this was supposed to feel good, and oh yeah, it did, really did feel good. Uh-huh. His heat-slick grip on his cock never missed a stroke, never missed a single chance for sliding, squeezing torture while his other hand reached up and around over the flexing muscles of his ass and behind and brushed against, and then in-- inside, suddenly inside with a huge shocking wallop of pleasure and thank God for the pillow because this time he yowled loud enough to wake the dead but he didn't care, couldn't care at all because fuck that was good, really good, that was it.


Oh fuck.

Oh wow.

He was lying in a puddle. His bed was a swamp. He should get up now, and fix this, before the whole mess set like jello. He should probably try to keep breathing before he just passed out. He should maybe think about what had just happened, and what the hell he was supposed to do about it.

He should.

...Fuck that was that was oh my God what was that...

He was still looking for answers to too many questions when he drifted into sleep, slumped in the swamp.

Jim had been patient. Really, he had. Ask anyone. Well, actually, it seemed unlikely that any asking would occur, given the situation.

At first, the first thing that had struck him, was that the whole thing was... well, weird. At the start, Jim couldn't remember Sandburg ever spending more than two or three nights in a row in the loft, and yet here he was, working on two solid weeks without a night out. Hadn't been out since their aborted attempt to eat at Chu Fu's. Instead, they'd sat around every night like an old married couple in their sock feet and rattiest sweats, watching TV, or reading.

In some ways, they'd been the most normal two weeks since Blair had moved in; which, when he thought about it, was weird but nice. In some ways, they'd been the strangest; which was just plain weird. And maybe a little disturbing. And now, for the eleventh night in a row, Jim lay on his back, eyes on the ceiling, listening to the sound of Libido Boy getting himself off. Repeatedly.

Repeatedly repeatedly.

Round one usually happened in the shower, where Sandburg probably felt his frantic activity would be masked by the pounding water, and the evidence washed away with soap suds and shampoo bubbles. Jim always kept half an ear out to see if there were any sudden mishaps, but no-- apparently, Sandburg had mastered (so to speak) the art of self-love in a slippery environment.

Blair usually held off on round two until after the lights had gone out, until after Jim had stopped moving around. And then he waited a little longer. Jim hadn't meant to tune into him, but it happened anyway. He'd been doing his usual evening survey of the perimeter, and zeroed in on an unexpected source of heat in Sandburg's little cubbyhole. Heat, followed by increased heartbeat, harsh breathing, and finally, the sharp sweet scent of semen.

Rounds three and occasionally even four usually took longer-- luxurious, drawn-out; accompanied by stifled gasps and muttered sex words, by the subtle rocking of the futon on its sturdy legs, by the sound of fist-grip strokes and fingers being sucked, and the ever-present aroma of spilled spunk.

Once he'd oriented himself into the peaks and valleys of this bizarre one-man orgy, Jim had found that he couldn't turn it off, couldn't tune him out. Whatever was going on down there, Jim was along for the duration, wide-awake in every bone in his body. After that first flushed and guilty voyeurism session, dialing it down just hadn't been an option.

He'd tried to. Tried hard. He'd gone so far as to try to zone himself out by staring at a ripple in the plaster of the ceiling; let his focus rest there and spin out and deepen-- but the next thing he knew he was blind to everything but what was happening in Sandburg's room, twitching with reaction while Blair moaned desperately into a pillow.

It had begun as fascination-- probably the same kind of thing, he had to admit, that drew people into the freak tent at the circus-- that a guy could come that often, and that fast, and not just once in awhile but night after night after night...well, if he hadn't heard it himself, he would have said it wasn't even possible. If it had been him, there'd be no way he'd even be able to walk the next day, much less zoom around like a tornado on crack. He'd had serious thoughts about poking Blair with it-- suggesting a change of thesis topic by pointing out that the rare nature of Sentinels had nothing at all on the miraculous fire-hose capabilities of what was stashed in his slacks. But things changed before he'd found a good way to slip it into casual conversation, and then he was involved too, and then it really wasn't funny anymore.

Not funny at all. What had started out as fascination with the freak show (and yeah, he'd happily eat tofu-and-wheatgerm surprise before he'd tell Blair about that little analogy) had all-too quickly evolved into fascination on a whole new level-- Sandburg sounded so helpless, so lost in it, and that drew him closer and he didn't even notice when his own objectivity began to fade away, but it did and then he was helpless, touched all too deeply by something that he should have been able to ignore, should have been able to laugh off.

But he wasn't laughing, because it wasn't funny. He was an unwilling and guilty participant, spending night after night locked in the sweaty prison of his twisted sheets, wanting to rest but not resting; he just stared sightless into the dark, clearly envisioning the evidence his other senses told him.

It was shameful. And scary as hell. And utterly irresistible.

Incomprehensible. Especially since he refused to really let himself think about it, but couldn't seem to concentrate on much of anything else, leaving him wide open to night after night of staring at the ceiling.

Consequently, Jim hadn't had a good night's sleep in almost two weeks. Now that was something he could focus on, something real and definite that could easily be considered without the bright-glowing edges of unknown threat. No real sleep. In almost two weeks. Outrageous. Unfair.

Unfair that all these unsought feelings came surging into his wide-awake body, spilling out through sweat glands and the constant hardness of his own sympathetic erection. It wasn't fair: Blair whacked off happily below him, while upstairs, Jim just felt his whole life had gone out of whack. And you'd think, after all he'd been through, Sentinel-wise, that somehow he would have grown used to feeling like one big, exposed nerve. And he had, really; but he'd never had to deal with feeling like one big, exposed, aroused nerve. And therein lay the problem.

Early on, in the beginning, he'd told himself he was piggy-backing on Blair's amorous adventures. He'd felt a little ashamed of himself, but did it anyway. From what the mai-tai guzzling jury of his peers said, it sounded like the kid knew what he was doing, knew his way around a woman's body, and so imagining them doing the deed wasn't really that weird.

Was it?

So he'd tried to imagine what Tina looked like-- tall, he thought, and brunette, with sharp cheekbones and a wide mouth. And then he'd put her with Sandburg in a bed, rolling on white sheets until Tina was on top, with Sandburg thrusting up from below. She'd be wriggling on top of him, pressing her hands on his chest, levering herself up and down, and he'd be moaning underneath her, his palms rubbing her nipples, his mouth a little open, and he'd be gazing up at her, watching her come, and then he'd hold her hips hard and jerk her up and down, his whole body convulsing, his eyes closing, holding his bottom lip between his teeth as he pounded up into her--

Fuck. Okay, maybe watching the Casanova Sandburg movie every night wasn't too weird, but who was the star of that particular show, anyway? The one who stole the scene, each and every time? Pretty much the same guy who provided the soundtrack, muttering 'oh yeah' into his pillow just down the stairs and around the corner.

Yeah, at first he'd told himself it was the women who aroused him. But not by night eleven. By night eleven, he had to admit that it wasn't imagining the women that had his cock rubbing restlessly against the sheet. He had to confess that when he pictured Sandburg on his stomach, thrusting hard into his poor abused mattress, he wasn't imagining a woman underneath him.

No, this time his stunned, disbelieving eyes didn't even need the black screen of his eyelids to clearly picture himself behind Blair, his own body thrusting Blair into the sheets, listening to the groans as if they were in response to something he'd done.

Done to Blair.

He wanted to do stuff to Blair.

He wanted Blair.

Well, wasn't that just peachy.

He was almost forty, and now a 30 year-old with a body that acted sixteen had forced him to acknowledge something he'd have been just as happy continuing to ignore.

And he'd gotten so good at the tuning in, at the imagining, that when Blair worked himself up for night eleven's round two Jim was right there with him, feeling the sheet like it was a tongue, like a wet finger on his cock, feeling the brush of cotton catching on the head, the friction from his microthrusts all his enhanced senses needed, coming hard without ever touching himself, coming hard right at the same time the bed downstairs shook, and the panting began.

He finally closed his eyes then, waiting to see if maybe all this would go away, if now that he'd gotten that out of his system the insanity would stand out more clearly, send him packing in the other direction.

Yes, it seemed pretty insane. No, it didn't put him off the idea. Not in the least.


And so here he was. Round two for Blair. Round one for Jim. Jim struggled to keep his own breath under control, reaching with a slightly shaky hand for the kleenex he'd learned to keep next to the bed.

Wiping up the mess, he twitched his nostrils, seeking Blair's scent-- unbelievably compelling to him, and comforting and exciting and illicit all at the same time. Even in the very few dreams he managed to have these days, that pungent scent followed him. He sniffed again. Yes, there it was. A fresh batch, still hot. And they were only halfway through a normal night. He had to fight off a sudden urge to groan out loud.

Normal. What a laugh. Nothing about their lives the last couple of weeks had been normal.

A long, low sigh sneaked in Jim's ears. He dialed up his hearing again-- his hearing always went offline when he came, something Blair would probably love to investigate as a scientific phenomenon if he ever found out about it-- and heard Blair roll over, heard him reaching for his own kleenex.

"Fucking hell," he heard Blair mutter. "Jesus, do you have to make such a mess all the time?" Jim assumed he was addressing his dick-- no one else in the loft had participated in that particular problem. He remembered the slot-machine analogy one of those awful women had used, and sympathy and irritation vied for space with the tight, terrible feeling in his stomach that was demanding to know what he planned to do about this.

Jim sighed, and shuffled everything inside him around until the part about lack of sleep was distinctly and triumphantly on top. This internal sleight-of-hand was actually fairly easy, performed smoothly and with the ease of long practice. Enough was enough. Eleven nights of not enough sleep and too many mental images that had profound physical effects was about ten nights too long. Something had to give, and he didn't think it should be him.

When he heard Blair get up and pad to the linen closet, he decided there was no time like the present. If he waited until morning, he'd lose his nerve, or Blair would already be chewing a granola bar on his way out the door, and then between case work and Blair's classes, and three square meals, it would be tomorrow night before he knew it, and he'd once again be tuning into to hear his roommate masturbate time after time after time. And to be quite honest, night twelve might be the death of him. Or of Sandburg, for that matter-- it didn't seem like a far stretch to imagine that he might wake up some morning and find his roommate drowned in his own come-- and he didn't really like to think about the explanations that might entail.

Jim's head spun dizzily when he stood up, so for a moment he simply stood there, holding on to nothing but his own conviction that, one way or another, this had to end. He clamped down tight on the sudden rush of panic that asked him what the hell he was doing, and shook himself briefly.

He was... keeping the peace. Only that. He'd help Sandburg to see reason, and then maybe karma would kick in with some reason for him in return. Wouldn't that be nice?

Blair had stripped the sheets off the futon, and was tucking a clean bottom sheet on the mattress when Jim walked through the kitchen and propped himself on the doorsill. Blair must have been thinking about something pretty hard, because he almost jumped out of his skin when Jim spoke.

"Home fires burning a little hot, Sandburg?" Jim asked, gesturing with a nod to the soggy sheets piled in a corner.

"Bite me," Blair muttered.

In the awkward silence that followed, Jim couldn't help imagining doing just that. He imagined walking over to Blair, pulling down his baggy boxers, and setting his teeth on Blair's cock until it hardened in his mouth. He pictured smelling up close and personal all those musky scents that had been driving him nuts up the distance of a flight of stairs. What would Blair do if he did? Would he push him away? Or pull him closer? He stifled the thought. Oh yeah. This guy with all the girls panting for what he could give them was just going to... what... flip a switch? Get a grip on yourself, Ellison. He swallowed. Sleep. He was here to talk about getting some sleep.

And now, now when he'd committed himself and actually brought the subject up, he suddenly found himself paralyzed-- what the hell was he going to do, anyway, demand that Blair go find some willing woman and exorcise his demons? Tell Blair to look up some of his old Vice buddies so that he could score a reputable hooker? Tell Blair he was risking blindness and hairy palms?

Of course, he could always take the direct route; threaten to cuff Blair's hands to the bed...

Ah. No.

He should have stayed upstairs. He should have worn earplugs. He should have gone to the stupid restroom at Chu Fu's Chinese Emporium so he wouldn't have to keep wondering how big Blair really was down there. What he shouldn't have done was come to Blair's room at this hour of the night. Not when he could easily, with heart-pounding clarity, see the swelling on an incipient round three behind the opaque cover of Blair's shorts. Not when the smell of the room was enough to dizzy him, to make him want to see if he could work up a round two himself. He had to struggle to breathe normally, not to sniff the air hungrily like the dog he apparently was.

Without meaning to, he'd walked himself into one difficult situation. Difficult, and damned awkward, whether or not he could manage to stick to his agenda. Which he would.

Blair stood poised on the balls of his feet for a minute, as if he'd bolt if he thought he had a chance of getting past Jim in the doorway. He didn't try to hide his renewed erection, but he didn't call attention to it either. He just flipped the top sheet onto the futon and tucked it in, taking particular care to balance the length of the sheet on each side. It looked like something Jim would do, and the gesture softened something in him, made it seem somehow possible that there was a way to say this.

He took a closer look at Blair. He had dark circles under his eyes, and his hands were trembling. Looked like maybe the last eleven nights hadn't been a picnic for him, either. Jim hadn't really let himself wonder what had caused the precipitous change in the Blair Sandburg Social Calendar, but something obviously had, and if he had to guess, it all started when someone soused on mai tais described him as "serious meat."

He pulled himself ruthlessly back to center, back to the task at hand, back to the ideas of peace-keeping and reason-bringing and then deliberately leaned harder against the doorway, making himself comfortable. Maybe it was time to start asking some questions, instead of relying on what Blair would call empirical data. Looked like maybe the data was screwed... make that skewed.

Tamping down the last of everything inside him that was not pertinent to this discussion, he concentrated on Blair; who looked rumpled and sticky, and when you got right down to it, pretty miserable. Jim took a deep breath, summoned up whatever patience and courage were left to him after eleven nights of short sleep and a host of dangerous thoughts, and said, "Okay, Sandburg. What's going on?"

Bite me, he'd said. Bite me? What kind of thing was that to say to another man at three in the morning? Because it was one thing, even if it was odd and a little out of the range of his normal fantasy material, to look down at his own prick and imagine another man's hand on it, or reach behind himself and imagine another man's fingers stretching him, because, after all, he was flexible, he'd been born in 1969, he could do flexible. But it was a whole 'nother thing to look down at his pooked-out boxers and think of Jim down there doing anything at all to him. And yet think about it he had, with predictable results. Yeah, after an interminable couple of weeks, if anything was predictable, that was.

In some ways, it was a relief. Not the Jim appearing in his doorway thing, not the startling transformation of the amorphous anonymous men in his head to the solid reality of an irritated Jim in front of him, no, that had more the ring of a death wish, but the thought that he'd been caught, and maybe, could be stopped-- that was almost a relief.

All good things must come to an end, and all that. Of course, Blair reflected, this hadn't exactly been a 'good' thing. A weird thing, yeah-- and sometimes a frustrating thing and a sanity-seeking thing and occasionally a hot-as-blisters, heart-pounding, knee-wobbling wild thing; but not really a 'good' thing.

But, he supposed, it would still have to come to an end, for all that.

And from the look on Jim's face, this was the end of it.

Blair had gone on as well and as quietly as he could, hoping that Jim didn't notice, or, if he did, that he'd just understand, somehow; or, lacking that, that he'd just be too embarrassed to say anything about it. He knew it wasn't exactly the most courteous thing he could do, living with a Sentinel, but hey-- it wasn't like he could help it.

He battled his own ill-tempered frustration, and dredged up a smile from somewhere. It felt tired and stretched on his face, but it was the best he could do for now. He reminded himself that he could do this. "Sorry, Jim. Let me guess-- I've been keeping you up, right?"

Jim just nodded, lips pressed tight together. Even in the dim light from his one bedside lamp he could see the flush coloring Jim's cheeks, and abruptly he wondered how much chutzpah Jim must have had to summon up to actually come down here and talk about it. Someone with Jim's mindset and Jim's fears; the guy was probably terrified that Blair was going to lose control and rush him and try to hump his leg or something...

Smiling got easier. Poor Jim, eyeing his erection like a nervous virgin. Actually, it was pretty fucking funny, in a sick kind of way.

But not, after all, why he was here. "Uh... well, I've been trying to... work some things out, you know? And I think I know what to do now, so pretty soon I'll be back to... well, normal, I guess. A couple more days, definitely by the weekend, I think, and I should be set." It was hard not to babble, hard to do this halfway-talking-without-specifics thing, but given the color of Jim's face, it was probably his best bet.

Apparently his initial apology had defused whatever anger Jim had carried downstairs with him. Jim gave him one of those half-assed, understanding shrugs, and cleared his throat once more. "So. You... going to start dating again?"

Ah. This was the tough part. This was, actually, why it had taken him so long to make a decision. To tell or not to tell-- and that wasn't even a question because Jim was a friend but he was also a Sentinel and a cop, and Blair didn't even want to think about the possible predicaments he could get himself into not telling. It was the first acknowledgement Jim had given to that dizzying conversation they'd overheard, and its impact on Blair's life. If Jim could bring it up, it seemed the least Blair could do to respond to it.

So-- tell. Logical choice. Only choice. But, could he do it?

He swallowed. "Sort of." Well, that was a start, at least.

And obviously, not the answer Jim had expected. The blush was still fully in evidence, but there was an edge of puzzlement there, and possibly a hint of aggravation. Of course, if this was as aggravated as Jim got about this whole thing, he'd be damn lucky. "Sort of? What do you mean 'sort of'?"

There was something tight, tight and low and uncomfortable in the pit of his stomach, but God help him the discomfort didn't even start to make a dent in his current erection-- he had to do this, had to get it done and over with so that he could go back to bed. "Actually, I've decided... I'm going with an alternative solution."

Jim's eyes rolled. "Jesus, Chief; and you tell me I'm close-mouthed... What, should I expect a mail-order bride on the doorstep? You're getting castration surgery? A Pamela Anderson blow-up doll? You've decided to--"

"Men," Blair interrupted, finally just going for it while the bottom dropped out of his stomach in that I-just-stepped-off-a-cliff way that he hated. "I'll be... uh... dating... men."

Jim's mouth was still open, his sentence unfinished. In that moment he looked so frozen and so profoundly wide-eyed that Blair thought for a moment that he'd zoned, and dismay gripped him as he realized that if Jim had, he was going to have to say it all over again.

But no. Not a zone. Apparently just plain old shock, and Blair couldn't blame him for that. He wouldn't have been at all surprised if Jim had pinched himself. Jim didn't, but he shook his head hard and fast, like a dog trying to clear his head of water.

"Men," Jim echoed reflectively, as if he'd never heard of such a thing. "Men. I see."

Blair watched Jim chewing at the inside of his cheek, his eyes narrowed and focused somewhere off to the left, evidently considering. When his gaze snapped back and his eyes locked with Blair's own, it seemed like he could feel the weight of it. "Have you lost your fucking mind, Sandburg?"

And thusly, Blair thought regretfully, the battle was joined. "No, Jim, I haven't-- but I think I probably will if I don't... do something about this."

That was as close as he could get to describing what had been happening to him, how his self-gratification had become more and more desperate, less and less satisfying. He'd done it to stay sane, that was the bottom-line truth of it-- and even the best he could give himself ultimately wasn't enough.

Jim still looked like he was wandering out there in the stratosphere somewhere. "And so your answer to that is... men?"

Now this was the sticking point-- he'd thought about this, he'd gone over it time and again. He could soft-pedal this, talk his way around it-- he could come up with at least three plausible theories without even really digging for them, each loaded with sociological data and credible backup evidence. He could do this, weave a convincing fabric of rationale and save himself the ignominy of truth... but really, when he thought about it, it wasn't a good idea. Others he could lie to, easily, glibly; but Jim knew him. And Jim... Jim deserved the truth.

He pulled in a deep breath. "Yeah, it is. I'm not ready to get married and settle down, and I'm not, like, at all willing to become a monk. I'm not willing to keep using women the way I have been, either, so I figured yeah; men."

To his amazement, Jim actually smiled. "Gonna try using men for a change, huh?"

Blair shrugged. "Well, I'm kind of flying blind here, but my understanding is that casual one-nighters aren't a rarity in the gay world. If the using is mutual..." He shrugged again. Swallowed. Found the strength somewhere to bring out the last of it. "Besides, once I started thinking about it, I thought it was... pretty hot."

That was it. If Jim was going to run, he'd do it now.

Jim didn't run. Jim just looked at him, no longer appearing shocked but only solemn. Blair could feel every single beat of his heart high in his throat.

"So you're going to go out and start sleeping your way through God-knows-how-many guys? Strangers? You have lost your mind, haven't you, Chief? Do you have any idea--"

"Hey, Jim--" Irritation had stolen upon him so quickly that it caught him totally by surprise, and he interrupted Jim without thought. "If you've got any other bright ideas, my ears are wide open. I don't know what else to tell you, except I've already kind of spilled my guts more here than I really felt like, and I've said I'm sorry, and I've told you I'm taking care of it. So freak out if you want, or kick me out, or else get over it, but I can really do without a lecture, okay? This conversation's hard enough as it is."

He'd expected Jim to explode. He really had-- he'd been pulling out the big guns, here, and keeping a close eye on Jim's forehead, the clearest and earliest indicator of fury. There was nothing there, however; just a slight furrow of concern, and a deepening blush. When Jim raised his hand, Blair stilled.

"I'm not freaking out, Sandburg. I'm not freaking out and I'm not kicking you out of the loft. I just want to be able to get some sleep, and I don't want to think about what might happen if you start cruising leather bars."

"Jim--" he was ready, primed to take off again on one of the many lectures he'd prepared for this eventuality, but Jim just shook his head, cutting him off.

"Counterproposal, Chief." Blair braced himself. If Jim said one word about emasculation, he was going to find the nearest heavy object and throw it.

Jim looked around the room for a moment; restlessly, as if he couldn't decide what to look at, then with a sudden straightening of shoulders, met Blair's eyes squarely. "Fine. You want this? You think this is what you want? I'll tell you what-- go right ahead, but don't be so stupid as to risk your life with a bunch of horny strangers. If you want to have meaningless sex with a man... if you want to use someone... use me."

Blair was falling off that cliff again, but this time he hadn't jumped.

This time, Jim had just sneaked up behind him and given him one real big hard fucking push.

"--Sandburg, earth to Sandburg, what the fuck, anyway-- zoneouts aren't contagious, are they? Hello?--"

"Okay," Blair said, realizing belatedly that Jim had probably been talking to him for some time. "Just give me a second, okay? I'm with you, I'm just..."

He broke off, wishing that there was more light in the room because suddenly he really needed to see Jim, needed to see if this was a joke, or a dream, or what. He squinted. Jim stayed Jim, looking concerned and sleepy and still vaguely uncomfortable. Probably not a dream-- Jim had on boxers and a t-shirt, which wouldn't be his first choice for a trip to Fantasy Central; maybe something more along the lines of nothing but a smile.

"Uh, Jim." That was as far as he got, at least for the moment. He'd heard people say 'it rocked my world' but he'd never really thought about what that meant, exactly-- but now he knew. It meant this. This feeling of the whole world, the entire sum and span of one's existence, having been... well, rocked. He felt a little breathless. He supposed he was lucky he was still upright.

He cleared his throat and tried again. "Jim, I don't know if you know what you just said, or if you said what you said when you meant to say something else, or even if you really said what you just said--"

Jim's mouth quirked in annoyance. Ah, yes. Proof that this was no joke, no dream-- the annoyed quirk was definitely real. "I know what I said, Sandburg." Driest of the dry. Jim being pissy, waiting for Blair to get with the program and... what? What the fuck were they talking about here? They were friends, Jim was his friend...

"You're my friend, Jim," he muttered, because that seemed important-- Jesus, it was important, too important to be dealt with lightly.

Jim didn't seem to fully appreciate the enormity of the fact, however. He just dropped the pissy look, and shifted seamlessly over into calm and inquiring. "Is this some kind of revelation you're having? This is a surprise to you?"

"No, you asshole, it's not. But I don't..." There was no more to that, no further information to be prodded out of his shell-shocked brain. He settled for shrugging and waving his arms around a little, indicating that, whatever it was he'd been going to say, it was big.

"So that makes a difference?" Jim asked, still calm.

"I don't know; don't you think maybe it should?" Blair replied, wondering if you could have flashbacks from smoking four joints eight years ago, because they'd just wandered into way foreign territory.

Jim shifted his weight. "Then just say no, Sandburg; it's that simple. I'm not going to be crushed into the dirt just because you don't want to do the wild thing with me..."

Abruptly Blair wondered who this guy was, this guy who looked like Jim but whose expressions he couldn't read anymore, who seemed to be standing in his doorway, offering him... sex. Wild sex.

He felt the insidious smile creep back, the one that embarrassed him and made his face hot; but God he couldn't help it. He saw Jim register the smile, watched that anaesthetic calm break apart for a quick flash of annoyance. "What?!"

And oh, he shouldn't say this, really he shouldn't, not right now and not right here, but... hey, Jim was his friend, after all. "You. The wild thing. I'm just... um, wondering-- how wild is wild? I mean... you're, you know... such a control freak..."

Jim's eyes narrowed. Direct hit, apparently-- and yeah, it was below the belt, but that was probably appropriate, given the circumstances. "You like to push it, don't you, Chief?"

There was a real sound of threat in Jim's voice-- too bad he couldn't stop grinning like an idiot. "Is this, like, a revelation or something?"

Jim in his doorway, head tilted and eyes scanning up and down-- sizing him up, Blair realized, and he had only about one split second to get excited by that before Jim moved.

Towards him.

Blair's stomach tightened, and his half-hard dick went immediately to full-hard and throbbing; just to remind him who was the boss here, he guessed. Jim was moving slowly, but still-- there was something about it that was kind of like being stuck in one place while a tank rolled implacably towards you.

A really hot-looking, sexy tank.

Jim's hands on his arms were warm and insistent, and the shock of that touch occupied him, kept him focused while the rest of him just went with the flow. Smooth steps. Backwards. Until there was a wall at his back and nowhere else to step to, nothing else to focus on except Jim, who was right in his face, tall and broad and-- whoa!-- really strong, really strong and really-- oof!-- dense, dense and solid and right up against him, crushing him into the wall.

"So you like to push me," Jim said mildly, hands like steel bands around his biceps, eyes glowing and dilated and drinking him up.

"Ag," Blair replied, since he couldn't breathe, and most of his brain was working on computing the fact that in addition to Jim's hard arms, and hard chest, something else hard, lower down, was pushing against him. Jim was hard.

"Uh-huh," Jim agreed amenably, and then pulled back a bit so that Blair could breathe but he was still right there, still staring deep into his eyes like he was looking for something. "Yes or no, Sandburg. No hard feelings. Yes or no."

And no, Jim wasn't asking him whether or not he was pushy. They both knew he was. Jim was asking him... about the other thing.

Huh. 'No hard feelings'-- felt pretty hard to him; both of them, hard as frigging rocks. The rock analogy was good, the rock analogy was working-- he was, after all, hanging onto this Jim-shaped mountain, here; this great big hunk of guy and of course he'd been with women taller than him before but this was something else, something massive, and he had no idea why that seemed like such a turn-on but God it made him want to go climbing without a harness. His arms and his mouth opened at the same time and he said "Yeah, yeah, let's do it, that'd be good-- yeah," and then he couldn't say any more because Jim was kissing him.

And he hadn't kissed Jim before and he hadn't kissed a man before and he hadn't kissed anybody in what felt like forever so he had to keep swallowing, gulping back all this sudden excess liquid, spit that was trying desperately to get swapped while the swapping was good. Jim's tongue took a whirlwind tour of his mouth, one of those things where you have to get it all in one shot, no stopping to contemplate the view or wonder who might have been here before you but just Banzai! and gimme gimme gimme gimme. No accidental tourist here. This was one tourist who knew exactly where the fuck he was going. Thank God.

This silent message of want laid to rest any fears he might have had about Jim operating from purely altruistic motives-- this was not the kiss of a nice guy doing a favor for his best buddy; this was the kiss of a guy who was ready (oh, really ready-- hard and fierce and dry-humping him ready) to rock and roll.

"Rock and roll," he muttered insensibly when Jim's hot wet mouth pulled back a little. His voice was shaking. So was he.

"Is that a request for mood music, or just your way of bringing up the generation gap?"

"Fuck!" That was the best explanation he could come up with at the moment, because his body had just caught on to the idea that they were all systems go, that they were cleared for liftoff and green-lighted across the board, that he wasn't going to be having any solitary splashdown at the end of all this. One small step for man...

And because he was, well, up against the wall, here; and because he'd been thinking about this a lot (well, maybe not this-with-Jim-this, but this-with-Jim was a damn good this anyway, and he wished he'd thought of it, and he was certainly thinking about it now), Blair shoved any lingering doubts firmly onto the back burner, and decided to take care of his serious front-burner first. He managed to pry Jim's hand off his arm, holding tight to all those wonderful, strong fingers while he pulled Jim's hand down, wedging it between them so that he could get Jim... ohh... right where he needed him.

"Whoa," Jim said. Somehow it managed to sound profound when he said it.

"Yeah," he agreed, willing at this point to agree to absolutely anything except 'I've got a headache'. And it was sad and ridiculous and more than a little embarrassing but he couldn't even wait for Jim to start stroking him-- all his body cared about was that Jim's hand was right there, and before he could stop himself he was pushing, arching up into Jim's palm, begging for more when he hadn't even had any yet. His own hands had attached themselves to Jim's shoulders, probably too tight but he really couldn't help that right now, he was too busy shoving into Jim's hand and trying not to bang his head on the wall out of sheer, unadulterated lust...

"Whoa," Jim said again, and it was obvious that this time it was an instruction and not an exclamation. Blair almost bit his own tongue.

"No-whoa," he gritted nonsensically, then took a huge breath and forced himself to stillness. "What, Jim? Why? I thought you were... I thought..." I am wheedling, he thought numbly. Complaining and wheedling to get Jim to touch my dick. What an amazing world we live in.

Jim's eyes, even dilated and aroused, were disturbingly steady. "Let me drive, okay, Sandburg?" And that was so perfectly, outrageously predictable that Blair would have throttled the bastard if he hadn't been seriously grossed out by the thought of necrophilia. He settled for a vastly impatient groan, and a silent promise to himself that he'd do his absolute best to level out Jim's karma at the first opportunity.

Jim kissed him again, and that did a lot of good because, while he was still hot and ready and looking for a certain hand to thrust into, the kiss was wet and slow and surprisingly sloppy, surprisingly nasty, and managed somehow to push him, push everything to another level-- the level, of course, where Jim was driving.

And-- what d'you know?-- Jim was a really... really... skilled... driver.

At some point during the kiss, Jim had gotten one arm under his and around his back. That, and the pressure of Jim's chest pinning him against the wall kept him upright while Jim eased his boxers down and off, leaving his overheated groin at the mercy of the cool air, and the much less tender mercy of Jim's clever, wicked, startlingly knowing touch.

Blair gasped against his mouth. "Have you done this before?"

"No," Jim said, and Blair wondered why he didn't sound even a little out of breath. Must be the damn calisthenics.

"Then how come you know what you're doing?" he persisted.

Jim licked the corner of his mouth, raising chill bumps all the way down to Blair's fingertips. "Because I know there's a good night's sleep somewhere at the end of all this. I'm inspired."

Oh. Right. He was keeping Jim up. Blair rocked his torso against Jim and had time to think that yes, indeed, he was keeping Jim up, then that inspired tongue relinquished the corner of his mouth and resumed its exhaustive interior tour, and Blair quit groping for puns and started groping Jim instead.

He heaved against the wall, gasping around Jim's tongue in a way that might have been dangerous if it hadn't worked out so well. This was... this was not... oh not, not at all what he had expected-- men with other men, being held up and jerked off by another man yeah, he had been there (if only in his head) and it had become a good place to go, but imagining it and actually doing it turned out to be lightyears apart. It occurred to him that that was a really stupid thing to just be figuring out. It further occurred to him that he didn't really care, as long as Jim didn't stop.

Jim showed no signs of stopping. He teased and kissed and stroked and nibbled and moved against him in a way that made Blair feel like he was going to just fucking explode, and Jesusgod what the hell had he done to himself, cutting himself off cold turkey so that a simple handjob suddenly felt better than the wettest, kinkiest, slip-slap in-out fuck-till-your-balls-fall-off sex he'd ever had...?

He didn't know. He only knew that he was never going to do it to himself again, as long as Jim could be persuaded to do it for him. He was going to ask Jim to do this a lot-- not just birthdays and Christmas, no way; he was absolutely going to learn how to work 'hey Jim why don't you put me up against the wall and rub me off' into the middle of as many sentences as he could manage.

Damn straight. So to speak.

Blair moaned into Jim's mouth, shuddered, and squeezed Jim's shoulders as hard as he could, trying to find some way to communicate his appreciation that didn't involve giving up the sweet slick pleasure of Jim's tongue flicking against his own. Big, solid Jim with his strong, talented hands; down and up and down again and gently over his balls and up again and then more down and then up to squeeze and tease. He'd leaked so much that the whole thing was wonderfully slippery and dizzyingly smooth; and somehow Jim had managed to draw this out but there was a limit, of course, there were always limits, and Blair had already gone way beyond what he thought of as his own, so he thrust up furiously into Jim's diabolically perfect grip once, twice, and a third time, and then Jim displayed his capacity for compassion and pumped him hard-and-fast-and-tight-and-hot and fuck he was coming now, Jim was making him come, pulling it out of him so powerfully that the whole world, and everything in it, seemed to be going away...

And then, on that ragged edge of anoxia and blitzkrieg passion, something intervened, something brought the world back into excruciating focus because while Jim was holding him up and kissing him and making him come he was also going for it himself-- close and hard and frantic against his hip-- Jim coming, Jim was... Jesus Christ Jim was practically fucking him up against the wall here, and the last pulses of his own orgasm almost killed him with intensity, because Jim grunting and urgent and coming on him was such a major fucking turn-on that he felt spiked from mouth to groin with the hot buzz of already-renewed lust.

But he put that on hold, held that thought, and pushed all that aside while he worked on getting his breath back and silently cursing himself for all the years he'd missed out on this. Friction against his back informed him that he was sliding floorwards, and that was okay because Jim was, too; and Blair could get behind that-- floor, flat, rest, boneless, lack of muscle resistance would be good, very good now, that would work. He went with it.

"Jim," he mumbled once he was safe on the floor, sprawled there in a tangle that made him feel like he had at least three arms too many. He said it because he wanted Jim to know that he was still alive and conscious, but due to air restrictions he was limited at the moment to one syllable at a time. "Jim."

"What, Sandburg." Not for the first time, he envied Jim's lung capacity.

"That. Was. Uh..." Oh, he didn't have a clue what he was talking about here, like he could ever put what had just happened to him into any acceptable words.

Jim sighed, and one of the limbs in the communal pile pawed briefly at his shoulder. "Not bad, for a first time thing."

That was enough to get his head off the floor, despite the fact that his neck seemed to have taken a leave of absence. He peered around until he caught Jim's eyes, and studied very carefully the fervent gleam therein. "Not. Bad?" he asked incredulously.

Jim winked at him, and just kept on gleaming. "For a first time thing."

Blair gave in to gravity and dropped his head back to the floor, and wondered exactly what the hell he'd gotten himself into, here.

Not bad.

For a first time thing.


If it got any better, they'd be hauling his ass out on a stretcher. No point in confessing that, though. Not to a man who looked like he'd just discovered you could put chocolate and peanut butter together. No, he'd hold that little secret close, bluff this out like he knew just what the hell he was doing, like it was no big deal, no big thing. Just some meaningless sex with a friend. Just a way of keeping a guy from making some big mistakes with some other guys who would undoubtedly be bigger than he was, and up to who knew what kinds of crap. He decided he'd hit on something pretty spectacular here: a way to keep Blair happy, and himself happy, and now maybe they could both get some sleep for a change.

Talk about your win/win situations.

Just because it was Jim's first time for this particular first time thing... no reason for him to belabor that particular point, was there? Blair seemed content with Jim's efforts, and God knew Jim was happy enough-- his body was singing high notes he thought he'd lost from lack of practice.

All right, then. All right. It's all right. All. Right. Nothing felt righter; nothing ever. Muscles Jim hadn't worked hard for months suddenly drowsed lax, replete. Muscles he used every day protested violently at being caught between the floor's rock and Blair's hard place. He felt like laughing, like running up a hill, like sleeping for a week. He felt more than he had in a long, long time, and for a man with enhanced senses to note the feeling of something, well, that meant a lot.

It had meant a lot, what had just happened. It had been a big deal. He might not have planned it this way; he might not have planned it at all, but there was something deeply satisfying, deeply right about finding himself in a heap on the floor with a stark naked Blair cutting off his windpipe.

He'd surprised himself, he really had. He'd managed to keep his darkest desires confined to the dark quiet of his bed, to the dark silence of his mind, but when Blair started talking about men, and dating them, and having them, his fantasy world and real world blurred, then blended, and before he knew it, the offer was on the table. He might have been able to retract it if Snot Boy over there hadn't decided to push him. Blair didn't seem to have learned a thing on the playground. Push somebody bigger than you and prepare to be pushed back.

Or maybe Blair did know that.

Maybe he'd pushed on purpose.

Maybe this was what Blair had wanted all along. He'd never know, because he could never ask. For the time being, for this first time (this not-bad first time, which had been so good he was lucky he hadn't ruptured something), it was enough to be here, still tangled, his hand still soaked in Blair's come, his clothes wet with it, his skin slick with it.

Christ, the kid could pump some water from the well.

Jim pulled himself up, staggered to the bathroom and returned with a warm washcloth. He swabbed Blair off, still shaking his head in amazement at the amount of junk the kid had spouted. The few times Jim had managed to go more than one round, anything after the first time was a trickle in comparison, but Blair obviously had overactive balls-- he was a mess. Blair moaned after the first swipe of the washcloth over his crotch, and he pushed his hips up into the second pass, his penis stirring under the rough cloth. He looked up at Jim a little apologetically, but didn't try to hide the lust lurking underneath.

"Again?" Jim murmured, massaging Blair's balls lightly through the washcloth, enjoying the helpless little rolling thrusts pushing up into his hand.

"You mind?" Blair asked, then gasped when Jim circled his cock with the cloth and squeezed tight.

"Does it look like I mind?" Jim said, settling beside him, stroking rhythmically.

Blair groaned and closed his eyes, melting back on the floor like it was a feather bed. "You're the best friend I ever had. Evereverever had."

Jim grinned down at him, watching his face flush, watching his hands twitch on the floor. When Blair reached for him, Jim just brushed his hands aside. "Relax, Sandburg. This isn't a tit-for-tat thing. Some of us are normal."

Blair choked out a laugh, the sound a little desperate as he rocked his hips harder into Jim's grip. "No tits here, man. Not a tit in sight. No sir, what are tits again? Who needs 'em."

Jim nodded gravely, savoring the feel of Blair's penis growing under his fingers. He mapped the length of him through the cloth, brushing up and down until Blair thrust up hard, his hands slapping the floor.

"What do you want?" Jim asked quietly.

"Your hand," Blair gritted. "Bare hand."

Jim tossed the washcloth on the growing pile of laundry in the corner and obliged. Under his fingers, Blair felt hot, slick, and more alive than Jim had ever imagined a person could be. His crotch seemed to be its own life form-- the strong, thick penis, the taut round balls, the fur cloaking the whole area. With Blair's eyes closed, he could indulge his desire to look, to really look at Blair, at his smooth skin, at the way his shoulders narrowed to his hips, so different from the shape of a woman, so... beautiful... in his own way.

Blair reached for him again, his hands stroking whatever part of Jim he could reach.

"Relax, Chief," Jim said, again brushing his hands aside. "Just lie there, would you? I've got it." "Okay, okay," Blair muttered, and Jim watched him make a conscious effort to untense his muscles.

"That's it," Jim said, rewarding him by taking his balls in his other hand, rolling them lightly in his palm. Blair sucked in a deep breath and curled his fingers into the wood floor, letting out a squeak when Jim squeezed him a little.

"God, Jim, you're so good at that," Blair breathed. "Where'd you learn to do that?"

"Um, I have one too, remember?" Jim said, smiling when Blair started nodding.

"Yeah, yeah, I remember. I want to see it. Come on, Jim, fair's fair," he wheedled.

"It's almost three in the morning, Sandburg. Just let me do this, okay?" Jim said.

"No way, uh-uh. You don't have to, you know, do anything; just get naked with me, please?"

Had he ever resisted Blair when he really wanted something? No. And it seemed he couldn't start now, late hour or not. His spunk-soaked t-shirt and shorts added a splash of color to the laundry, and he made a mental reminder to be sure to separate out the lights and darks before washing them. Then Blair got a hand on his chest, and Jim managed to forget about the laundry altogether.

"Get over here," Blair said, his voice dark with promise. Jim stretched out beside him, aligning their bodies on the unforgiving floor, Blair's smooth, warm skin a sharp contrast to the cool wood. Jim propped himself on one elbow and continued his lazy stroking with his free hand, pumping slow and steady, his fingers sure of the motion, the reflexive squeeze and release that he'd always used on himself, which fortunately seemed to work just as well for Blair.

"Yeah, that's how I like it, just like that," Blair encouraged him. "Slow. Tight. Oh, yeah, that's so good."

Jim hadn't really thought about the running commentary that must naturally accompany Sandburg In Lust. It accompanied him everywhere else, from the kitchen to work to school and back, and hadn't he spent the last couple of weeks listening to Blair talk to himself while he worked himself up? The normalness of Blair chatter in the midst of this anything-but-normal night comforted Jim.

"You sure I can't... ?" Blair started to ask, but Jim cut him off.

"I'm fine, Sandburg. Could you quit worrying about it, and just pay attention? I'm doing something here." Jim wondered how often Blair got to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Not often, it seemed. That made sense, he decided. Blair hadn't gotten the rep he had by being selfish in bed. In fact, it looked like maybe he wasn't quite sure how to just be there, being done to instead of doing.

There was something... wonderful about that. That Jim could do this, could give Blair this, with every instinct telling him that he was the first to offer, the first to give, the first to receive the stunning gift of watching Blair soak it up. He shivered.

Blair obligingly screwed his eyes tight in concentration and linked his hands behind his head, probably the only way to keep them from again grabbing him somewhere, Jim thought. Good. He liked the look of laid-back Blair. He liked how relaxed he was, everywhere except where he had his hand on him. Now he had him. Jim leaned up, sneaked a peek at Blair's face, then stretched over and touched his tongue to the tip of Blair's erection.

The taste exploded in his mouth at the same volume as the shout that wracked his ears. As far as he knew, the taste was a shout, unable to distinguish one sense from another in the deluge of sensation. Blair's hands left their sanguine place behind his head and grabbed Jim's head instead, his knees jack-knifing up to push his penis harder against Jim's mouth.

"Fuck, oooh fuck," Blair gasped, every muscle in his body suddenly as rigid as they'd been relaxed seconds before. "Jesus, Jim, please."

And so Jim let him in, opened his mouth wide and did another of those first time things, trying to do it good, trying to be more than not bad for Blair, trying to get his mouth open wide enough to take in more than half of what Blair had to offer and barely succeeding before having to back off and breathe again. As soon as he got his breath back he went back for more; addicted already to the sound/taste of Blair in his mouth and ears, to the breathy gasps and whimpers, to the solid thump of Blair's bare ass on the floor as he thrust up and up and up into Jim's waiting mouth. Blair wrapped his hands; around Jim's head, holding him in position, holding him just so, just at the right angle to plunge in and out, mixing saliva and pre-come into a heady brew, sliding slickly now, a warm wet piston in Jim's mouth.

Well, that's one way to solve the laundry problem, Jim thought a couple of minutes later, when with a last hoarse shout and a punishing clench on his head, Blair shot round four down his throat. His mouth tingled, the slippery stuff coating his mouth before he could swallow, and he licked around his lips to catch the excess. Of course there was excess, Jim thought ruefully, it was Blair they were talking about.

The human slot machine.

Keep feeding him quarters and he'll spill all night.

Right up to the part where he crashed, finally orgasmed out, Jim thought, smiling down at an apparently exhausted Blair.

"Bed," Jim said, dipping his tongue in Blair's belly button to see if he could make his penis twitch. Sure enough.

"Nice thought, man, but really, I think that last time just about did me in," Blair husked.

"Bed as in sleep," Jim clarified, amused that he'd finally gotten Blair to the point where he wasn't reaching for him anymore, wasn't trying to reciprocate. That seemed like progress, in a strange sort of way.

"Right," Blair said, pulling himself up onto the bed and sprawling across it. "Bed as in sleep. Got it."

Jim looked down at him, not sure whether he was supposed to stay or go. He turned to leave, wiping his mouth one last time, but a sleepy voice from the bed stopped him.

"Get your ass over here."

Blair. Bed. Sleep.

Sounded like a good plan to him.

By the time he'd settled in Sandburg's way-too-small bed, crowded onto what he considered less than his fair share given their respective sizes, Blair had dropped off already, sleeping so hard he never moved when Jim turned onto his side so he could get a better look at perpetual motion, finally at rest. Jim leaned over him and clicked off the bedside lamp, leaving the room dark and cozy. He took a deep breath, cataloguing the scents in the room, so different from the loft, so different from his own smells of Old Spice and gym socks. Here he could smell sweat. Patchouli. Tom's natural toothpaste-- peppermint flavor. Semen. His own semen. And Blair's, too. Jim's nostrils twitched at the blended scents, all of them much closer to his sensitive nose than usual.

Much closer than he ever imagined smelling them.

The kid was something else, he thought, with a surge of pure affection. He'd jumped in the pool without even checking the temperature, let alone the depth; just cannon-balled in with a whoop and a splash. You had to admire that kind of adaptability, Jim decided, then thought that maybe after two weeks' close acquaintance with your own right hand, anyone else's might do.

Then again, maybe not just anyone's hand would do. Maybe it took a particular hand. Jim lifted his hand to his face, first sniffing, then licking, feeling an echo of the earlier sensation behind the residual flavor he tasted on his fingers, an aftershock.

He'd never held anything in his arms as vibrant and thrilling as Blair Sandburg in full erotic arrest. He tried to remember what it felt like to cup the heat between a woman's legs, but his hand curled unconsciously into the exact grip he'd need to wrap his fingers around Blair's erection instead. Serious meat, indeed. The kid was packing some serious meat. They hadn't compared erections (yet), but Blair probably had an inch or so on him, and he was thicker, the head big and puffy, fiercely delineated from the trunk. He had a gorgeous cock, Jim thought, and realized it was the first time in his life he'd let himself think of another man's penis that way. It felt weird, but he supposed if his body could adapt, so could his mind.

Blair had changed his life in virtually every other way; he guessed it made sense to make yet one more leap with him. Now the only question was how Blair would feel about it The Morning After. Jim looked him over. His hair was a wild tangle on the pillow, his mouth open for snuffling breaths. He looked... relaxed... and Jim smiled. He'd made Blair look like that.

Jim looked over Blair's shoulder at the clock. 3:08 AM. At best, they'd have about three hours sleep. Jim sighed. If they were going to do this-- and God, he hoped they were-- they'd have to start up earlier in the evening so they could get a decent night's rest. He stretched a little and grimaced at the ache in his lower back. And they were going to have to move the party upstairs to his nice big bed.

The next day, Blair grinned a lot.

Things were busy, even hectic at the University, but he didn't mind. At least, he didn't mind until the third person in a row asked him exactly how lucky he'd gotten last night, and what her name was, at which point he got a little miffed.

However, just the thought of responding to such comments by saying 'damn lucky, and it's his name, thank you very much' was enough to coax the grin back.

He was amazed, actually, at how steady he felt-- well, steadily grinning, anyway. He certainly hadn't felt steady when he first woke up that morning; on the contrary, the first thing he could solidly remember was a confused rush of thoughts along the lines of 'oh fuck I'm in bed with Jim and Jim's eyes are open and Jim knows exactly what I look like when I come and Jim let me come in his mouth oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck'. Not exactly grin material. But at the time there had been no chance to think about it-- they were late, somehow they'd both managed to sleep through his alarm, so really there was no time to pay attention to much of anything other than the mad dash to get out the door. But as soon as he got on the road, driving on autopilot because he was totally distracted by the mellow buzz of residual satiation in his body, the grin had shown up and made itself at home.

Getting lucky. When he thought about it, that was a pretty apt description. Yeah, he'd gotten lucky last night, all kinds of lucky. In fact, as the day wore on through classes and meetings and office hours, he found his ability to focus on the job hopelessly compromised by a growing enthusiasm for getting lucky again.

And it took a while, a few hours at least, before it occurred to him to wonder exactly why he felt so damn lucky. His advisor snagged him just before lunch, roped him into some text assessment thing that was scheduled to run all afternoon, so he called Jim at the station and told him he wouldn't be in, and Jim sounded perfectly fine with that, perfectly normal, and it was only after he'd hung up that Blair realized that Jim's blunt, gruff, normal responses had given him one big diamond-cutter of a hard-on. Abruptly he was glad that he'd gone back to his office to make the call, rather than using the payphone in the caf.

He sat there for a while, bemusedly regarding the prodigious bulge at his crotch, squirming a little at the ache but not really willing to take care of it because... because...

Well, because it would be so much better to wait until Jim could take care of it for him. Hand, mouth, whatever-- at this point, Jim could probably look him to orgasm, especially if he had that no-nonsense, don't-fuck-with-me-just-let-me-do-this look on. Blair shivered. Intense-- what had happened between them had been intense, in a way he hadn't been prepared for.

It was a rare treat; to have his body and his mind engaged by the same thing. He hooked his hands behind his head to remove himself from temptation, leaned back in his chair, and let his dick throb and twitch all it wanted while his mind wandered free. It had been intense, yes-- and his brain lined up possible reasons for that neatly and effortlessly, as comfortable in the realm of theory as it ever was.

The length of time he'd gone without outside stimulation, the undeniable thrill of breaking a sexual taboo, the forced intimacy of the late hour, Jim's talented hands; these were all plausible causes. He was about to break it down further, assign levels of probability to each and maybe pick out a favorite, but in a surprise move his mind gave him a hard time about it, showing a marked tendency to stray off in directions distinctly unscientific.

Like wondering how come he'd never noticed that Jim had these gorgeous hands, great big gorgeous hands. Like extrapolating that if he had hands like that, he probably had a dick to match, which if Blair had been paying attention to Jim he'd know by now, because Jim had been naked and stretched out beside him and right there, but Blair had let himself be distracted, let himself be done to, that marvelous, novel thing, being the one getting stuff done to him, instead of being the one doing the doing, and so the mystery remained.

Like wondering how it was that he'd lived with Jim all this time and he'd never noticed that there was even an inkling of a possibility that Jim might want to stick his hand down his roomie's boxers and short-circuit every nerve in his body. Twice.

And thinking that if his own actions shocked him a little (since academicians didn't always put into practice what they developed in theory), they had nothing on remembering Jim, big strong cop Jim, big strong, and, he'd always assumed, straight Jim, going down on him in a big, strong way.

He could hardly explain his own motivations, aside from the obvious; Jim's were beyond him.

Blair sighed. Of course. Of course postulating theories on this particular topic wasn't quite as absorbing as he'd expected, because, bottom-line time, he wasn't anywhere near as interested in determining why it affected him so, he just wanted to... well, to be affected. Made sense.

Blair shifted restlessly in his chair, closed his eyes, and for a moment imagined that Jim was there, maybe laid out naked right on his desk or... no. Under. Under the desk, whoa-- under the desk, hidden, insisting on remaining hidden, insisting that Blair just go about business as usual with conferences and paperwork and research while he... while he...

Ooooh. Ah. Blair's hips lifted of their own accord, seeking, thighs spreading lax from the sudden hot erotic rush. His mind offered up a stunningly precise picture of himself sitting here, face to face with (Jesus!) the Dean, of all people; fighting like hell to keep his calm look of attentive sagacity while under the desk... Jim fondled him. Squeezed him. Unzipped him. Touched him stroked him licked him nibbled sucked oh yeah sucked, hot wet tight Jim's mouth down on him sucking eating him up--

Strange freight-train sort of noises turned out to be his own gasps for breath, and he sat suddenly bolt-upright in his chair while he scrabbled frantically at the kleenex box on his desk and ignored the niceties of buttons and zipper but just jammed the whole wad right down into his pants because it was coming, he was coming, coming so hard he was groaning loud and utterly out of control while he tried to catch it all and save his pants because Goddamn that felt good and Goddamnit he had a fucking meeting to go to in... five minutes.

Blair blinked sleepily at the clock while he waited for his heart to stop thundering in his chest. Grinned again. Shifted into a grimace when he dug the soaked kleenex out of his pants, and wrapped the whole mess in a discarded brown lunchbag before he threw it away.

He sighed, reminded himself to wash his hands in the men's room before the meeting, and abruptly went back to grinning.

Apparently, Jim didn't even need to look at him.

Pretty cool.

Not quite five hours later, Blair was feeling decidedly less cool. He'd arrived home before Jim did, and just the simple act of walking into his room brought everything back to him with sudden and shocking clarity. This was the place. The very spot. The place where... why, where he'd had sex! With Jim! Right here! And it occurred to him that he had no idea how Jim was feeling about all this, so he put his pack down and lit some incense and bundled up all the laundry and told himself sharply that there was nothing he could do about it either way, except wait and see. Really, what else could he do? Go sit on the curb in his boxers and wait for Jim with a sign that read, "Will fuck for food"? Still, he wished he didn't feel quite so... nervous about it all.

He didn't have to wait long. He'd just settled against the kitchen counter with a beer while he reached the conclusion that the sensible thing to do would be to let go of all assumptions and expectations, to maybe take refuge in some kind of shy-flower routine until he knew where Jim was at, when his thoughts were interrupted by a loud click.

Blair turned, fighting to keep his expression serene and disinterested while a bolt of heat speared through his stomach-- and there was the man himself coming through the door, looking whipped. Looking, in fact, pretty damn exhausted. Meeting Blair's eyes levelly, looking at Blair, looking tired and calm.

Blair swallowed. Tired and calm on the surface, right, but that was just the surface and there was more than that, so easy to see when you really looked because somewhere, deep down in there, Jim looked ... hungry.

That sparked right through him, heat again all around and inside. His mouth watered and his body thrummed like a tuning fork, and Blair realized right then and there that the shy-flower routine wasn't even an option, even if he'd known where to start, shy and flower not being a routine part of his normal... routine.

He let Jim get all the way through the door before he jumped him.

And was struck again by just how big Jim was, how solid, how... hot he was against him. How he didn't have dips and valleys, how he wasn't soft, how he didn't smell like perfume. He was just oh thank God hard hard hard-- hard arms catching him, propping him up, hard chest against his own, and oh yeah, hard there, hard down there, where they'd fit if Blair was a few inches taller, or Jim just a few inches smaller, but instead Blair got a thigh to rub against, and Jim got his own not-quite-so-hard, maybe-time-to-do-some-sit-ups belly.

Blair huffed against his neck, burrowing in, looking for skin. "Where've you been? I'm starving."

He felt Jim's hands rub up and down his back, soothing him and jacking him up, all at the same time. God, it felt good. As good as it had in the middle of the night, as good as it had felt when he'd already been hip deep in his endless cycle of self-imposed lust. Good to know, maybe, that it felt just as good with clothes on, just as good at six in the evening as it did at three in the morning. Maybe it was good to know that.

And maybe it didn't matter why.

He let Jim tuck him in tight, let him push a heavy thigh between his legs, giving him a nice rock solid place to rub against. "Hungry, Chief?" he heard whispered in his ear, before a tongue slicked around the outside, danced around the rim, then slid right inside his ear, and he nodded, thinking how grateful he was that Jim seemed to understand exactly what he'd meant by starving.

"Want burgers?" he heard.

Blair shook his head.

"How about chicken teriyaki?

Hold the phone. Time out. Hang on a second. Blair pushed on Jim's chest (man alive, he's hard), pushing back far enough to see Jim's face. Tired, a little pink; still pretty solemn. From the waist down, their hips were doing their own thing, not a bit concerned with the conversation above. Blair's dick liked Jim's thigh-- liked it just fine, liked it as well as anything it had felt in recent memory-- almost as good as that hand the night before, not quite as good as that mouth, but a distinct improvement over his own thumb and four fingers, and certainly better than the poor futon mattress, which by all rights should have applied for disability by now.

Blair shook his head again, turning down the thought of chicken teriyaki and trying to get his brain in one piece again at the same time. It took that second look, the one that looked below the surface, to see that Jim was yanking his chain. Yanking it hard.

"You are such a dick," he said, wrapping his arms around Jim's neck and pulling himself up so their mouths were level, pulling Jim down to meet him. Jim grinned, damn him, grinned at him, then took Blair's mouth in one of those slow, wet, surprisingly indecent kisses, his tongue hot and strong, and just like that, just that quick, the only hunger Blair wanted to appease was the one straining between his legs.

"I'm not doing this standing up again," Jim muttered when Blair pulled away for a lungful of air.

"Fine by me," Blair said, even though his hips seemed to have welded themselves to Jim's thigh, and whether they were standing up didn't seem to him to have much to do with anything, really, not as long as they had some room to maneuver, but if Jim wanted to sit, or lie down, or stand on his head, or whatever, Blair could accommodate that. No problem. No problem whatsoever.

"That means move, Sandburg," Jim growled, his hands peeling Blair off his leg, pushing him towards the stairs.

"Upstairs?" Blair asked, then wished he hadn't when he heard how unsure he sounded. Okay, okay, no big deal, he told himself. So they were going upstairs. They were going to separate and walk upstairs and pick up where they'd left off. That meant it wasn't spontaneous. Wasn't something spur-of-the-moment, get-it-while-the-getting's-good anymore. No, this moved into the deliberate stage, the on-purpose stage. Nothing to do with the hour, nothing to do with being half-naked and all ready.

Deliberate. They were going to do this. Deliberately.

He looked Jim over. He was breathing hard. One more thing hard about the guy, Blair thought, and smiled inside. Jim opened his jacket, shrugged it off. When he turned to hang it up, Blair could see his erection in profile, distending his jeans. Jim wanted him. His own cock twitched in response, his hands reaching for him, reaching out to cup between Jim's legs, rubbing hard.

"Upstairs, Sandburg," Jim said, taking hold of Blair's wrist, holding it firmly away from him.

And so they moved, a little stiff (a lot stiff) across the room and up the stairs, not touching, not talking, just getting where they could get horizontal, get naked, get some room to move around.

When he looked at it like that, Blair decided upstairs made all kinds of sense.

There goes a day's worth of worry, for nothing, Jim thought as he watched Blair's ass ascend the stairs, headed for his bed. Worrying for nothing.

All day, he'd worried. Worried that he'd blown it-- literally. That despite the obvious willingness of his revved-up body, Blair would realize in the cold light of day that it was one thing to theorize the benefits of all-male mating rituals and quite another to act them out. He worried that somewhere between hurling himself on the grenade of Sandburg's lust-- so altruistic, so noble, saving Blair from all those big mean strangers, keeping him safe-- and waking up face to face with him, he'd screwed everything up.

All day he'd tried hard not to think about the night before, or the night ahead, but whenever the conversation paused, or he turned from one form to another, he'd seen Blair in his mind. Blair with his head back and his hips forward. Blair with his mouth wet and his eyes wide. Blair's hands in his hair, Blair's dick in his mouth, the taste of Blair's semen, a taste he'd only known by smell before.

Blair, rumpled and sleepy and seemingly sorely distressed at sleeping late, at waking to find Jim in the bed with him, naked in the bed with him, naked and awake and in the bed with him. Rushed and flushed and surprisingly light on his feet, Jim thought, given the three hours' sleep and the four orgasms.

Flushed and rushed and gone without a word, or a signal, or a sign. Gone without a hint of whether they'd started something, or ended it, or whether anything had changed at all. The call at lunch hadn't given him many clues, either. Some relief in Blair's voice, he thought, at not having to divide his time that day. A little catch at the end; insignificant, probably, but enough to make Jim's groin swell at the sound of it. Oh good, he'd thought. Just what he needed; someone who could get him hard over the phone. Terrific.

And so he'd delayed a little. Drawn out his day a little. Not sure what to expect, or what to hope for, or even if hope was the right word for it, only to walk in the door prepared for nothing, and getting everything instead. An armful of hungry Blair; not hungry for food-- hungry for him. He'd been so relieved he couldn't help teasing-- like he'd make Blair wait until after dinner. Not likely. Starting their rounds at six sounded like a great idea; maybe they'd be crashed by ten and get a whole eight hours sleep for once.

Yeah, right, his mind grumbled. Yeah, that's the real reason you clopped onto him as soon as you walked in the door. So you could get some sleep. Pull the other one, Ellison. Sleep isn't what you're looking for.

No, it wasn't. What he was looking for now stood at the top of the stairs, staring down at him, not trying to hide the fact that he was shaking, not trying to hide the erection straining the zipper on his jeans. While he watched, Blair let one hand slide down to his crotch, unselfconsciously stroking himself while Jim climbed the last few steps.

"You're too cool to do this," Blair said, licking his lips.

"It's not like it's just for you," Jim admitted, and that made Blair smile.

"Good," he said. "I wouldn't want it to be."

"Better me than some jerk," Jim said, and Blair nodded, his hand moving more deliberately on his crotch.

"Definitely," Blair agreed.

And that took care of talking for awhile; at least it took care of give-and-take conversation. There were still instructions from time to time, an expletive or two, an exclamation here and there, and the constant bubbling babble of Blair's encouragement and gratitude.

Stripping Blair took about a minute. It would have taken less time if he hadn't had to be so careful not to catch The Monster on Blair's zipper. But strip him he had, then himself, and by the time he'd draped his jeans over the railing, he saw Blair had plopped himself on his back on the bed, his feet still on the floor, his erection pointing almost due north, like a flag thrust into a moonscape. Jim stood over him for a minute, breathing him in, letting the smell of Blair's arousal, the sight of him sprawled on his bed, send his own excitement to a higher plane. He grasped his own erection briefly, soothing it, reminding it they had a long, long way to go.

He took the edge off Blair by straddling him on the bed, lowering his cock until it streaked along Blair's, and rubbing back and forth until Blair grabbed him, pulled him down, writhed frantically against him and shot his first load onto Jim's chest. Then he pulled Blair up the bed, settled him against the pillows, and wiped the drips off Blair's chest, then his own. Against his side, he could feel Blair's heart thunder. He heard him take a deep breath, heard him swallow hard. He felt Blair's hand hovering over him, over his stomach, just above his hard cock. Blair brushed him, barely touching him, and whispered, "What can I do for you?"

A surprising, shocking, honest answer reverberated in his otherwise quiet mind, but Jim simply hefted the weight of it, took his own truth in stride, and kept his mouth shut.

Stay here, he wanted to say.

Quit the runaround, he wanted to say.

Just stay with me, he wanted to say.

But he didn't say that. Couldn't. Wouldn't. Blair wouldn't want that, but he might feel like he should give it, might feel like he owed it to Jim, and being owed was the last thing Jim wanted. It's not like it's just for you, he'd told Blair, and he'd never said a statement more true.

Better him than some jerk. Better him than a parade of women who obviously didn't appreciate the whole beautiful package of Blair Sandburg. Better him than Sandburg hurting himself, hurtling himself on the immolation of masturbation.

Better him than anyone, came the revelation.

Probably the last thing Blair would want to hear. The thing guaranteed to send him back to The Dating Game, out to the night, out of his life. So he didn't say any of that. He clamped down on his heart and went with his body, went with what Sandburg could relate to, went with gift-giving on Sandburg's level.

"Fuck me," he said.

He didn't have to dial up to feel Blair's body temperature rise. Liked that thought, did he? Well, good; that made two of them. While Jim watched, Blair's soft groin hardened, the supple muscle strengthening, lengthening. And in counterpoint, Jim felt his insides melt, thawing, softening inside in response to just the thought of it.

What did it say about him that this was what he wanted? Not what he would tolerate, not what he would allow, but what he wanted. He wanted Blair to show him what he'd been showing half the females over twenty and under forty in the city limits of Cascade. He wanted to ride the Sandburg Carousel, see what the fuss was all about. He wanted more than a writhing body to rub against, more than the brush of fingers against his dick.

He wanted it all.

"You sure, Jim?" Blair asked, rising up to lean over Jim, his hair brushing Jim's chest.

Jim nodded. "I'm sure."

"That's... um... new territory for me," Blair said, as if ashamed to admit it.

"Just take your time," Jim said.

Blair laughed under his breath. "Not always possible, you know?" he said.

"Try," Jim said, and Blair nodded.

"Be right back," Blair said, and before Jim could protest, Blair had hopped off the bed and tripped down the stairs. Jim heard him rummaging around in his room, a soft "aha!" and then the padding of bare feet back up the stairs. In one hand he held a strip of condoms; in the other a half-empty bottle of Astroglide. "Not sure this is for... this... but I don't know why it wouldn't work," he said. "I mean, slippery stuff is slippery stuff, right? It's not like Vaseline or anything, I mean, it won't disintegrate the rubber, I know that. I've used it--"

"That's fine, Sandburg," Jim cut him off before he started listing all the places that bottle of Astroglide had traveled.

"Right," Blair said, dropping back on the bed. "How do you want to do this?"

What Jim wanted was to stop talking about it, and start doing it. "Like this," he said, stretching back on the bed and spreading his legs. Before he could feel self-conscious about the blatant pose, Blair had filled the space between his legs, squatting between his thighs and smoothing his hands down Jim's sides. With the motion, Jim felt the last bit of awkwardness slip from him, drawn out by the heat sidling up his legs, into his back and across his groin. Blair moaned above him.

"God almighty, Jim, do you have any idea how good you look like this?" he said, taking Jim's dick in his hand for the first time, gathering his balls up in the other. Jim arched into his touch, letting his arousal climb a little, up to a higher level, to a place where he could feel his pulse in his balls, in the head of his penis.

Blair's thumb rubbed a perfect circle around the swollen head, gathered a drop of precome and spread it like frosting on a cake, an even layer on just the right spots. Jim spread his legs wider, opening himself up, bringing his knees up to encourage Blair to move lower. The hand holding his balls dropped back a little, pressing below his balls, pressing in hard there. Jim felt a shock jolt up his spine at the touch. Blair's strong, wide fingers filled the space there like no woman's ever had, pressed harder than a woman would, pressed hard because he must know himself how damn good it would feel.

Jim groaned, reaching for Blair.

"Just a sec, Jim, hang on," Blair said, soothing him, pressing in again, rubbing.

"Hurry," Jim whispered, and felt Blair comply with the demand, weak as it was.

He closed his eyes against the sight of Blair sliding a condom over his swollen, twitching cock, but he couldn't close his ears, and he listened while Blair rubbed his cock with lubricant, listened to him dripping more on his fingers, and then he felt one of Blair's fingers, one of those strong, wide fingers, pressing against his anus, circling there, touching lightly, then dipping in, pushing resolutely in without any hesitation, determined.

Jim exhaled sharply, his thighs falling open even wider, consciously trying to relax muscles that protested the initial invasion. Blair rubbed his stomach with his other hand, petted him into releasing clenched muscles, into allowing another big finger inside. Whatever minor pain he felt at first dissolved under the discovery of pleasure; nerve endings he hadn't known he possessed sitting up and taking notice that something new and pretty darn exciting was going on.

Before he could accustom himself to the first invaders, Blair made a deep sound in his throat, and Jim opened his eyes just in time to see Blair lining up, getting ready. Jim lifted his legs and put them on Blair's shoulders, following an instinct to open as wide as he could, to make it as easy as possible, and Blair took the weight, shouldered it, and took time to press a kiss to the inside of each of Jim's knees before guiding his erection where it needed to go.

Penetrated. He was being penetrated. By Blair.

Christ, the kid knew what he was doing. He'd said it was his first time in the back, but he had it all down. The angle, the leverage, the force you couldn't use, all of it. He had Jim's legs draped over his shoulders, and his hips in both hands, and he pulled in, then pushed out, like he knew just what the hell he was doing.

Jim felt stretched, invaded, impaled; all of it stronger, more intense than he'd expected, all of it better. If he closed his eyes, he could measure the length of Blair inside him, feel the veins of Blair's penis throbbing against the tight fit of his inner walls. If he closed his eyes, he could lose himself in the feeling, live this way, just this minute, live this filled-up, stretched-out, hot sweaty thrusting minute, pretend he could just stay here, just like this.

But he didn't close his eyes, didn't lose himself. More than he wanted to lose his own way, he wanted Blair to find his. He wanted to see Blair. He wanted to watch. Face to face was definitely the way to do this. Fuck anything else. This way, Jim got to watch that face, watch the flush that started, watch the way Blair tried to keep his eyes on Jim, tried to connect, but kept sliding away, sliding back into what his own body was feeling. That didn't bother Jim a bit. Blair knew where he was, knew who he was with. He gasped it over and over; with every careful, deep, searching, reaching plunge in Jim's body, he whispered Jim's name.

When Jim pulled his knees back towards his chest and humped up to meet his thrusts, Blair lost his grip on Jim's hips, latched onto his knees instead, pushed hard onto him, into him, and came with a shudder and a moan.

He never paused, not even for a breath. "Breathe deep," he said, and when Jim followed his instruction (of course he did, he always did), Blair slid out of him, still erect, still hard. Blair peeled off the sopping condom and tossed it in the trash. Jim watched him use the semen still coating his dick to smooth the way for another condom, watched him squirt lube on it, and he only had time to nod, to spread his legs again, before Blair moved back into place, guided his penis back to Jim's ass, and drove in again.

"I'm sorry," he said, thrusting in hard and holding there, holding his weight on his arms, poised above Jim. "I'm sorry."

Jim stroked Blair's chest, tangling his fingers in the thatch there, feeling Blair's heart pound hard against the palm of his hand. "It's okay, Blair."

Still Blair held, not moving except for the vague trembling in his arms and legs, signs of shallow control, of a man hanging on by a thread.

"Move, Sandburg," Jim finally said, when the pressure made him want to thrust, when the hot length embedded in him made him want to bear down, push it in farther.

"I can't," Blair muttered.

"Why not?"

"Because if I move even one inch, I'm going to come. In. Your. Ass. Again."

"Isn't that why we're here?" Jim pointed out.

"Too soon, too soon," Blair complained, dropping his chin to his chest, gulping in deep breaths.

Jim didn't think he'd ever seen anything more beautiful in his life than this, than Blair on the razor edge of control, struggling against his instincts, his desire, working against his body's urgent demand.

"Fuck, I'm going to lose it again," Blair gasped. Outside, Jim could see him start to shake. Inside, he felt the head of Blair's penis swell, felt it twitch. Against his ass, he could feel Blair's testicles firm, tighten.

"Good," Jim said, and he reached behind Blair, brushed his fingers down between the cheeks of Blair's ass and thrust a dry finger inside him, completely, obscenely.

The results were immediate and gratifying. Blair straightened his back as if he'd been shot, driving hard into Jim's prostate. Jim arched up on a wave of incredible pleasure and clenched down hard, milking the sensation while Blair yelped at the ceiling. He rocked Blair through it, watching greedily while Blair bucked on Jim's finger and in three quick thrusts he felt Blair spill inside the protective condom, felt the sudden increase in temperature inside as hot liquid filled the latex.

Blair dropped down on him, dropped his full weight on him, still buried deep inside him, still thrusting slowly, lazily.

"You didn't come," Blair said against his collarbone, and it sounded perilously close to a whine.

"I didn't come yet," Jim replied. "There's a distinction."

"Huh?" Seemed Blair's brain was still throbbing in Jim's ass.

"We all have our strengths, Chief. You pop at the drop of a hat. I like to hold it," Jim said patiently, lifting Blair to a more comfortable position on his chest.

"I'd like to hold it," Blair said drowsily, and Jim felt a sweaty palm lightly grasp his penis. He jerked in Blair's hand, his hips flexing unconsciously into the grip, going even stiffer at the touch, leaking onto Blair's curious fingertips.

"You are holding it," Jim reminded him, feeling the controls he'd slapped on so vigorously start to thin, feeling his hips move with more authority into Blair's welcoming hand.

"No, dumbass, I want to stop popping at the drop of a hat," Blair said, stroking now as well as gripping, sliding up and down Jim's cock in a smooth, sharp motion. "I want you to teach me how to hold it."

Fuck. Now the kid wanted to talk. Now that he'd had his, now that he'd had his one, two, three, he wanted to talk. Fine. They could talk. Just as soon as Jim quit holding it in, holding on. Just as soon as Jim had his.

"Okay?" Blair asked, moving his hand faster, adding his mouth to the assault by licking Jim's right nipple until he groaned.

"Okay, okay," Jim gasped, lunging up into Blair's hot body, into his hot hand, into his mouth, wrapping his arms around him so Blair couldn't move his hand anymore, so he could just hold on tight. The head of Jim's erection slid against Blair's stomach, against the hair that led down from his belly button, and when Blair set his teeth against the nipple in his mouth, Jim let it go, let it all go, let himself clench down on Blair's softening penis inside him, let the shivers fly down his spine, let his head fall back and his dick slam up, and he came in four hard, long spurts, wetting himself down, sealing their bodies together.

This time, Blair cleaned him off, even wiping his ass down, cleaning off the lube that had leaked. It seemed more intimate than having Blair's fingers in his ass, more intimate than Blair's penis in his mouth, and he felt himself flush at the degree of attention Blair devoted to the task.

"Having fun, Chief?" he finally asked, amused and embarrassed, both.

Blair looked up, distracted. "Hell, yes," he answered emphatically.

Good, Jim thought. That's what he wanted to hear. Blair enjoying himself. Blair having fun. Blair learning some things along the way, and maybe Jim learning a thing or two himself.

He could learn a lot, he decided, feeling his empty insides throb. He could look on this as a real educational experience, for both of them.

A real lesson in looking under the surface.

A real lesson in taking a good hard look at himself, and the man he'd been living with but suddenly realized he barely knew, and the life he'd thought was pretty complete as it was, but had just been made more... whole.

Jim sighed quietly, and glanced over at the bedside clock. Pretty unsettling thoughts for 7 PM. Who knew what kind of trouble he could get into by midnight?

All that brainpower, and not a thought in his head. How pathetic was that?

Of course, when you took into account the fact that at the time he'd been hot enough to feel like nothing more than a life-support system for his dick, it was a little easier to understand, but still-- there were thoughts, considerations, elements that should have occurred to him, that should have received maybe a portion of his attention before he hurled himself, in a fairly literal sense, into the breach.

But no. 'Fuck me', Jim said, and the next thing he knew he'd gone ahead and done it-- some of the most absorbed, experiential, and all-around inconsiderate fucking he'd ever done, at least since he passed sixteen.

If he'd been able to reflect on it with anything less than a brain-numbing grin on his face, he might have managed to feel ashamed of himself. He did feel ashamed, actually; and the only thing that helped him assuage the damage done to his pride was thinking up various paths to redemption, various ways he might even the score.

"Jim Ellison." All business, that voice. The voice of a man who could hold it. Blair sat up straighter as his spine tingled.

"Hey, I... I can't come in this afternoon. Some funding allocation thing. Can you deal without me?"

A pause. When Jim spoke again, his voice was lower. "Sure. No problem. Not much cooking; interviews and paperwork, mostly. I can manage."

"Oh good." He left it at that, listening, relishing the withholding of words almost as much as he relished speaking them, wondering if Jim could hear him smile.

"You, uh..." Exquisite, that slight shade of hesitancy in Jim's voice. "Guess you're swamped, then?"

Ha. Blair closed his eyes, let himself sink a little lower into the familiar support of his office chair. Swamped, right. Translation from Ellisonese: Are you actually busy, Chief; or are you freaking out? So easy to treasure, these rare moments when his understanding worked for instead of against him. "Yup. Swamped. Guess I'll have to wait 'till this evening to fuck you through the floor."

Skirl of silent air against his ear, the sound of an inaudible heartbeat pounding at the top of a choked-off breath.

Then, sooner than he'd expected: "Right." Not at all unusual, for Jim to sound tense. Jim almost always sounded tense. "Well, then I'll just see you at--"

"I'm gonna give you the whole treatment, man," he interrupted blithely, as leisurely and idle as he could make it. His hand stole into his lap by slow degrees, and somehow the telephone handset seemed to be the perfect place for him to rest his head, the ideal support and connection as it pressed Jim into his ear, pulled him close to the mouthpiece until he almost nudged out his tongue to taste it. "There wasn't... just wasn't enough, you know, last night? So I think I'll-- "


Blair's mouth twitched at the corners as warmth seeped through him. Warning. Jim warning him. Jim... pleading with him? Both. Wonderful.

"Yeah." Not a real response. Just a 'yeah' for yeah's sake; something to say because his office and the phone and Jim and his own hard-on seemed to be a combination that worked.

"I'm hanging up now."

Blair squeezed the bulge at his crotch, gasped, and leaned a little harder into the phone. "No way, Jim. C'mon..."

"'Bye, Chief--"

"But Jim, I just--"

"I'll see you after--"

"I've never sucked your cock."

Another one of those moments of restless, rushing silence. Blair drew in a deep breath, slid the heel of his hand hard over his aching length, and continued. "I want to. I'm going to. You'll be lucky if I let you get all the way through the fucking door I want to taste you so bad--"

"Sand... burg..." Jim sounded so amazingly strangled that Blair was at a loss to tell whether it was with outrage or lust, but at the moment he couldn't care; because either way this was just too much fun. Finally, he'd found himself in the driver's seat. He didn't even bother checking the mirror first; he just slid it into first and floored it.

"I had this... under-the-desk thing going on, you know?" Words came so easily this way, with Jim's tight, restrained huffs of breath melting in his ear. "I know there's room for me under there, Jim-- enough room for me to get you out of your pants and into my mouth--"

"Not now, Blair--"

"Yeah now, wish I was, wish I could be; right down under there and right down on you, all the way down..." With the phone held tight by his shoulder he had both hands free, and he kept his eyes open just enough to watch the office door while he groped for the obligatory kleenex and then for himself, rocking smoothly in his chair. What felt like every muscle in his body squeezed tight and then abruptly relaxed, knowing it was coming, counting on it, riding on it, pushing hard into his hand with Jim's abbreviated growls buzzing through him. Perfect.

"Sandburg, there are people here, you can't--"

"Too late," he gasped; heavy and hot and he let his eyes slide closed so that Jim would be closer, so that Jim could be right with him. "Already there-- there, oh, yeah--" and then there was nothing else to say but one long-suffering sound of release that he knew was too loud, but on the other end of the phone Jim grunted at him in desperation, in want, he knew the sound of that, and so it was all just very worth it as he shuddered out Jim's name and spurted, catching the overflow as best he could.

Then there was panting, and a little growling that he couldn't really determine the source of; then a hushed, dense silence that might have been a little scary if it hadn't actually been kind of a turn-on. Blair sighed, tossed the soaked tissues while he fumbled himself back into his pants, and sat up in his chair before he toppled over backwards. An image flashed behind his closed eyes-- Jim, what Jim's face must look like right now. He smiled. "Thanks, man-- I needed that."

"Son-of-a-bitch." Oh-- not a happy camper, there, Jim. Not sounding happy at all. His smile widened.

"At your service," he murmured, pleased with the silken purr of his own voice, reveling in the loose, relaxed feel of his body. "What's the matter-- you having regrets about volunteering for this gig? You want out?" He said it lightly, but as soon as the words left his mouth something painful tightened in his chest, and he bit his lip and wished them back. What the fuck was he doing?

But Jim just made some low grumbling sound of annoyance, and the pain immediately smoothed back into the mellow warmth of afterglow. "I don't remember volunteering as your personal 900 number, Sandburg," Jim hissed at him, simultaneously soft and furious, "I can't fucking believe you just did that--"

"I bet," Blair sympathized earnestly, stretching until his whole body hummed. "Must be tripping you right out. Almost as much as the fact that you stayed on the phone while I did it, huh?"

Silence, and he wondered once again if maybe he'd pushed it too far. The subtle sound of Jim swallowing reassured him. "I'll see... I'll see you tonight, Chief. I'll see you." Jim's voice dark with threat, and then a click. Dial tone. Blair shivered.

He hung up the phone with fingers that were still tingling, and wondered exactly when his smile had shifted into a full-fledged smirk.

Seeing Jim tonight. He had to admit he was really looking forward to it.

And he had to say one thing for Jim-- the guy sure knew how to build anticipation. Dinnertime came and went with no Jim, and he had papers to grade so he tried to do that but couldn't, because he couldn't focus with his ears tuned intimately for the distant sounds of the elevator. He ate a solitary meal and then showered, fully expecting to see Jim slip in behind the curtain at any moment, primed for retribution. He was disappointed.

His dick was disappointed. Blair commiserated with his dick, sincerely he did, but in the end he didn't do anything to assuage the misery-- he'd done that once already, and once was enough. He resigned himself to a permanent erection with a sigh, and a slight twinge of remorse for his earlier adventure.

He could have called, of course, but every time he started dialing it hit him that he really had nothing to say except 'come home so I can fuck you right this time', and that somehow seemed to be pushing things a bit too far. So he waited.

When Jim finally walked in at nine-thirty, Blair was comfortably uncomfortable on the couch, wearing nothing but his robe and holding nothing but an idiotically simple book that he couldn't make the least sense of. The sound of Jim's key in the door made his erect cock twitch fiercely, which in turn made him smile. Ruefully, yes, but a smile nevertheless.

The smile (if not the erection) disappeared as soon as he got a good look at Jim's face. Mouth a tight line, brows drawn down, jaw visibly clenched with strain-- the Ellison scowl at its finest. Dark. Very dark indeed.

Blair swallowed. Yes, evidently his indulgent little dialogue earlier today had really irked Jim. And apparently, things hadn't mellowed out a whole lot since then. He cleared his throat quietly. "Hey-- I hope you don't mind, I, uh... I ate without you." It was as good an opening as any, he supposed.

"Go upstairs," Jim said quietly. The hair on the back of Blair's neck prickled.

He stood up, but made no move towards the staircase. "Why yes, my day was just fine, Jim. How about you?" It was hard not to cross his arms, not to push the line of defiance until... well, until Jim did something.

"Go upstairs," Jim repeated. Blair realized with a sudden flush of heat that he could see the muscles working under Jim's shirt, all that fine restrained tension waiting; waiting for him while on the surface Jim just stuck to his Terminator impression.

"Upstairs. Right." He gave in-- if he didn't, he was going to start shaking where he stood. As it was, his legs didn't feel overly steady as he made his way across the room. "Going upstairs. Here I go. Going."

He was halfway up when his peripheral vision caught Jim's shadow behind him, and then he did start shaking because he hadn't heard a thing, hadn't heard a single step Jim took. And then he was up, staring at Jim's excruciatingly neat bed and almost comically afraid to turn around, a strong pulse throttling, revving between his throat and his groin while he waited for the next move, hating it and loving it at the same time. "Jim, I--"

"Take your robe off. Lie down." Not the words but the tone was familiar, something eerily familiar to him-- Jim making an arrest, right; Jim instructing a perpetrator to assume the position. Same voice as now-- the same calm, deadly serious voice; not mad, not upset, just... serious. He shivered, and shucked the robe off. The muted sound of it hitting the floor seemed oddly loud.

And then Jim was right behind him, sensed only as a radiating warmth against his back. More quiet sounds, deep slow inhalations of Jim just standing back there and smelling him, and Blair's knees weakened dangerously at that so he leaned forward and caught himself on the bed with trembling hands, crawling up and sprawling out and feeling vaguely ridiculous but he couldn't help it because all finesse, all grace had vanished off somewhere-- some distant and unimaginable place where there was more than his hard cock and his shivering body and the palpable weight of Jim's eyes on him.

He gathered his strength, and was almost ready to turn himself over when Jim said "Don't," so he didn't. He just let go, left himself where he was and tried not to listen to the high, rapid shuttle of his own breathing, tried not to think about just how much he wasn't in the driver's seat anymore. That plan he'd had, all those various paths to redemption, to evening the score, to being considerate, well, they were all pretty hard to accomplish face down and shaking. Not that he was complaining, exactly-- his body had no complaints at all, nope, none, but his pride, his I-know-what-I'm-doing-really-I-do self felt like he had to give it a try.

"Jim, look-- I know that bothered you, that phone thing today. I know and I just... well, I was just playing... I was-- ohh--" he hadn't heard a thing, once again, no auditory cues to tell him that Jim was taking his clothes off, but the body that slid up against his back was most definitely, emphatically naked-- naked and smooth and hot hot hot; and touching him in so many places that Jim might as well have been levitating there, floating just above him and sliding, sliding...

"It's not a game," Jim mouthed against his shoulder.

"I know, I know," Blair gasped, squirming under Jim's tongue when it traced his shoulder blade.

"Do you?" Jim asked, and Blair felt that tongue slip down his back, a wet warm stripe that made every hair on his body stand on end.

"Oh my God, you feel good." His voice sounded faraway now, dreamy, and yeah, apparently Jim was back in that mood of wanting to do things to him, and that would have been just as right as rain except that rain was a totally inadequate metaphor for this kind of rightness, this deep, heavy bliss of Jim pressed against his back.

This, he realized with a slow birth of awareness, was Jim wanting him. He could feel desire soaking into him from Jim's touch, no less overwhelming for being coupled with such exacting control. Jim-- wanting and absorbing and sensing him, and staying in control. It made him shiver harder. It made him make one last ditch effort to be on the giving end, knowing as he did so that the offer was paltry at best. "I... you want... what should I..."

"I'll let you know," Jim replied curtly, and Blair surrendered.

Warm, strong hands traveled everywhere, and the slick-hot-sharp of tongue and teeth at his shoulders, waist, down his spine jolted and soothed him at the same time, drawing all sensation up to scattered fierce points of pleasure that made him hiss. The only thing in the whole world that was wrong with it was that he couldn't kiss Jim, and that Jim's bedspread was surprisingly abrasive on the exquisitely sensitive skin of his cock. At some point he thought he moaned about that pretty convincingly, but if he did Jim took no notice; he simply kept on.

And when Jim came up close, stroked the hair back from his temple with a touch that pierced him with tenderness, Blair had to shut his eyes. He had to.

"Go ahead and come whenever you want. I won't stop unless you tell me to."

He had no answer, not a single word to say about that, because it left him breathless.

Jim's hands parted his shaking thighs, Jim's tongue streaked wet fire from the back of his calf on up, and up, and up towards his ass and then his body arched into it all by itself, making the offer before his mind was ready so that it was an utterly staggering shock to feel the flicker and silky plunge of Jim's tongue tasting him, taking him, teasing soft over that place of pulse that suddenly felt so fucking vulnerable that his heart almost stopped in terror.

Blair sucked in one huge whoop of dizzying air even while the rest of him started melting gently, rolling boneless on waves of voluptuousness that went deeper and lower and sweeter until all he could hear were his own stunned, ecstatic, disbelieving moans. He wasn't even shaking anymore but now he seemed to be shaking inside; his interior Richter scale had just gone right off the charts because while all of this had been new to him, this was the first new thing that somehow just tore a hole in his heart and made itself a home there.

He had no control, no connection with his own body but seemed to be floating above it, seeing himself so utterly lost, seeing Jim holding him gently open and tonguing him-- they were connected there, yes, connected to each other, locked together with a depth of passion that made even his incorporeal, observing self gasp and twist. Devotion-- the devotion Jim offered to him, the devotion his uninhibited, uninhabited body soaked up as if he'd been waiting forever, waiting always with a distant kind of longing for someone, for Jim, to find him, to give him this.

Something deep inside pulled at him and then Blair slammed back into his body, unprepared for it but really he didn't think he ever could have been prepared for this, for this terrifying keenness and connection. The moment he touched down in his body he rolled up on the next huge wave of pleasure and came explosively, still not ready for any of it but definitely not ready for the exquisite clarity of feeling himself flutter and spasm around Jim's tongue, crying out with an innocent, unrestrained joy that didn't sound like him-- not like him at all.

But it was him, obvious and inescapable-- so Jim told him, after an endless time of floating downwards. Jim whispered to him exactly who he was, affirmed his name between subtle kisses pressed to the small of his back.

Blair's eyes hurt, aching from being squeezed so tightly. He paid no mind to the ache but just kept his eyes shut, closed tight against everything while Jim stroked him, slowly stretched him, and finally eased into him with killing gentleness that made him wish there was more pain somewhere, something else to focus on, something to take the edge off the ecstasy of having Jim move inside him.

The first time Jim went deep he came again, throbbing and moaning out the long, suffering moments of Jim waiting so patiently, soothing him with soft kisses behind his neck, his ear; hard and needful inside him but waiting anyway, waiting for him while he buried his face into the pillow, not trusting any words that might escape him now.

Jim took him for an eternity, a slow measureless stretch of forever and somewhere in there Jim got his hand under their bodies so that the next time Blair came Jim was everywhere around him, around and inside and totally surrounding and pervading him, taking everything he was except for the little bit closed off behind his eyes. And it was good, deeply, staggeringly good with Jim inside him like that, but it was no longer only his experience because even while he came apart he could feel Jim being patient again, now shuddering fiercely and dripping with sweat but still so controlled, still waiting, still locked into this give and take that had taken him utterly.

Much later, at the end of it, all he could hear was Jim's voice telling him who he was, and yes, he knew who he was, and knew Jim was finally, finally coming inside him, and knew they were both loving it...

And in the midst of it, over his heartbeat and under his skin, as he lay lax, absorbing the strength of Jim, the weight of him, the heat of him inside, all he could think was that Jim had been right. Jim was right.

Whatever they were doing, they weren't playing.

Whatever this was, it sure didn't feel much like a game.

Groggy minutes later, Jim gathered himself together and lifted his head from its sweaty place between Blair's shoulders, groaning under his breath. He squinted down at Blair's limp figure. It had seemed like a good idea at the time: work off some of that built-up tension and teach the kid a lesson at the same time. Funny how it hadn't worked out that way. Not at all. Not at all.

All Jim had managed to do was mire himself deeper. Meaningless sex with a friend-- ha. It had never been that, and now it was... God. Being inside Blair-- taking him, feeling him yield, feeling him forget everything but what Jim was doing-- that meant something. The shitty part was that it probably (come on, be realistic, Ellison), it undoubtedly meant more to Jim than it did to Blair. For all he knew, this kind of thing happened to Blair all the time. Well, maybe not this exact thing. Instinct told him that Blair had never had anyone touch him quite like this.

Jim felt warmth burn in his chest at the thought. He'd touched Blair on the outside in a new way; maybe he could do the same for the inside. He settled himself more comfortably on Blair's back, smiling at the way the warm body underneath his molded automatically to fit against him.

In the time since his bed-rocking, earth-shaking, skin-tingling climax, his breathing and heart rate had aligned themselves to Blair's, and with his softening penis still snug at home inches deep in Blair's ass, he felt that if he tried, if he really tried, he could make believe they'd become one person; a four-armed, four-legged, two-headed, one-hearted all new being.

All it took was a mumble from Blair's pillow-buried head to blow that particularly romantic notion right out of the water.

"If that was supposed to be a punishment for earlier, you totally missed the mark," Blair muttered, just loud enough for Sentinel ears to decipher.

No shit, Sandburg.

Blair lifted himself on his elbows, and he managed to hold Jim up for a couple of seconds before dropping back flat with a groan. "Jim, man, how much do you weigh?"

Jim sighed. So much for the comfortable fit; it was nice while it lasted. He reached down to hold the condom securely while he slid out of Blair's body, feeling the unconscious grasp of Blair's internal muscles protesting his exit. He ran a soothing hand over Blair's hip as he stood, watching muscles ripple in Blair's ass as he did so. Jim discarded the condom and turned back to where Blair still lay sprawled; his legs spread wide apart, the damp spot under him testament to just how much he'd enjoyed himself.

Blair radiated satisfaction out of every pore, and Jim tried to recapture his earlier irritation but... well, it was hard, damn hard to do with Blair looking so... happily fucked.

Thanks to Blair, he'd spent the day on an erotic rack. By about seven, he'd thought if he didn't get home and get naked, he might lose it completely, start flashing the ladies at the bakery or something. He wondered if that was how Blair had felt for those two weeks he went without any help but his own right hand. He wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone.

Still, there were limits. At least he hoped there were limits. And if there weren't limits, it was high time they set some.

He'd done what he set out to do. He'd set out to shut the man up, to show him that he couldn't just play with Jim like a toy he hadn't tired of yet. He'd wanted to give Blair something he hadn't had before, and given the extreme reaction he'd gotten, he'd achieved that goal. He'd wanted to return Blair's favor, because he'd certainly been getting something from Blair that he'd never had before.

Now the question was what the hell to do about it.

What Blair had done on the phone, what he'd almost done to Jim over the phone, had blown his mind. He couldn't decide what rattled him more, the fact that Blair had actually whacked off in his office, apparently heedlessly and happily, or that Jim had almost abandoned forty years of self-control and come in his jeans, clutching the telephone receiver like he wanted to hold his sudden, trapped erection.

But what had really irked him about it was the attitude. The Attitude. The attitude that made Jim start to understand why those women seemed to balance affection and irritation when talking about Blair. He got away with shit. Apparently always had.

And always would, unless Jim did something about it.

"Blair," he said. Good start, he decided.

"Hmmmmm?" wasn't the most coherent response he'd ever heard, but at least he knew Blair hadn't dropped off yet.

"About this morning... " He said, then paused.

Blair lifted his head. His face still glowed, his mouth red, as if they'd kissed for hours, his eyes bright. He looked debauched, a little wicked, totally pleased with himself. And way too complacent for what Jim had intended. He realized with a little shock that it was the first time he'd seen Blair's face, the first time their eyes had met since he'd walked in the door, determined to show Blair who had the upper hand. Yeah, right. Looking at Blair's satisfied expression, it became clear that whatever upper hand Jim might momentarily have had, he'd lost it somewhere between the stairs and licking Blair's ass.

"Yeah?" Blair asked, and Jim was pleased to hear that he didn't sound anywhere near as complacent as he looked. Jim pulled in a deep breath and shifted a little, moving to accommodate the solid pressure of determination inside him; ready to finish what his brain had started hours ago.

"Don't fuck with my head like that," Jim said sternly. He supposed he could have couched it in more diplomatic terms, but subtle didn't always do it for Sandburg, and it looked like words of one syllable might be the best thing at the moment. The kid looked out of it.

"It was supposed to be fun," Blair said, a little defensively.

Fun. For a moment, he couldn't think of a single, goddamn thing to say to that. Fun. Playing ball was fun. Going to a movie was fun. This-- this heart-churning, dick-wringing, cataclysmic thing-- was beyond fun. He couldn't believe Sandburg couldn't feel it, too. He'd been right there with him, hadn't he?

"You know what? I think I'm starting to understand why you go through women like kleenex," Jim said, moving to stand over Blair. "You wear them out, don't you? You just plain wear them out."

Blair turned on his back, grimacing a little when he flexed his legs. Jim knew what that look meant-- it meant you were feeling a few pangs and twinges in places you hadn't paid much attention to before. He knew that look well; he'd seen it in the mirror just that morning. Blair tucked one hand behind his head, utterly at home on the rumpled bed.

Blair took a deep breath. "So... you want to stop?"

The big question. Did he? Did he want to stop what they'd just started? They'd only scratched the surface, and yet Jim already felt like he'd lost whole layers of self-control. But did he want to find something like this, only to give it up because it was more than he'd expected; different?

And the biggest question-- did he want Blair getting what Jim had been giving him from somebody else? Because Blair getting it wasn't in question-- it was only a matter of where. And who'd give it to him.

"No, I don't want to stop," he finally said.

Blair patted the bed beside him. Jim pressed his lips together, then accepted the invitation, sitting close enough that his hip pressed against Blair's leg.

"Better you than some jerk," Blair reminded him, and Jim wondered if he'd read his mind.

"Yeah," Jim acknowledged.

"Better you than some post-doc I'll barely remember next week," Blair continued softly, almost as if he were talking to himself.


Blair traced a finger down Jim's back. "Better you than anyone, I think."

Jim turned to look at him. He'd seen a lot of looks on Blair's face, but nothing quite like this. Blair looked... dazed.

"It's better with you than it's been with anyone." It sounded like a confession; something he should apologize for.

Jim let the silence stretch as long as he could, then, when he couldn't stand it anymore, he asked, "Why?"

Blair laughed, but it had a bitter tinge to it. "You think I haven't been asking myself that? You think I haven't noticed that day three is more intense than day one? Because this is not my usual modus operandi, and you know that. Usually by day three I've got my excuses lined up, I'm out the door, I'm moving on, but Jesus, Jim, all I want to do is touch you."

How did he answer that? Three days didn't seem like such a big deal-- he'd dated Carolyn for three weeks before he'd ever put his hand in her shirt, and two months before they'd actually had sex. He wasn't sure he could relate to a man who counted relationships in hours.

"Bugs you, does it?" he finally said.

"Bugs the shit out of me," Blair answered, covering his eyes with his forearm.

Jim smiled.

Now they were getting somewhere.

Days four, five and six passed in a blur of work and sex, sex and work. And then one week had gone by. More days filled with classes for Blair, cases for Jim, daytime hours spent remembering, and nighttime hours spent creating more memories to prime them the next day, and then two weeks had passed. Then three. Then four.

As far as Jim could tell, Blair stopped counting days, and for his own part, Jim stopped wondering every single time if this time would be the last time, stopped imagining that sure-to-come moment when Blair would stop in his tracks, sniff some woman passing by and bring an abrupt end to whatever it was they'd been doing here.

After their last conversation on the subject, they'd put the introspective stuff behind them, (or at least, Jim had. Tried to. And Blair wasn't saying anything to the contrary). They had the basics down: Jim didn't want to stop, and however freaked Blair might be at the idea of continuing to screw around with the same person night after night, Jim knew he didn't want to stop, either.

So they kept going.

And as they kept going, their world diminishing even more than it already had, until the only outsider who could habitually break the shell was Simon, Jim began to realize that Sandburg had gotten his message. They were having a good time-- Jim hadn't ever had a happier month in his life-- but when he stepped back, he could see the real pull between them, the real spark, came from both of them doing their absolute damnedest to win the power tug-of-war between them.

Why that surprised him, he wasn't sure. Men had been jockeying for power since the first time two of them realized that since they didn't need their arms for walking anymore, they might as well punch each other with them. What he and Blair had wasn't a game-- not even close. This was war. Sex was the weapon, and the loft their battlefield.

Jim took the slow, insidious route, using the excuse of teaching Blair some self-control to draw out their time together, to reduce Blair to a whimpering, straining, grimacing puddle of heat and hormones. By the time he got done with Blair, the kid had still come a scandalous number of times, but it had taken him hours and hours to do so, instead of his accustomed pop-pop-pop.

In return (or was it retaliation?) Blair continued to use the element of surprise. He never pulled the phone trick again, but he still managed to keep Jim's mind off his work more than he would have liked. Once he did it by going commando; casually stepping into jeans one morning, zipping carefully, then slanting a grin at a discomfited Jim, who spent the entire day using his Sentinel vision to track the slip and slide of Blair's dick and balls in their loose home. Another time, Blair hit the 'stop' button on the elevator of their building and sucked Jim off in the time it took Mrs. Hazelton on the second floor to investigate what had triggered the alarm. Jim blamed the ringing in his ears on the bell.

Action and reaction; strike and counterstrike. For every moment that Jim made Blair endure the patient tenderness of his attentions, Blair got him back by bending him over the nearest flat surface and grunting filthy and wonderful things in his ear while pounding away at him until he begged for it; those experienced hands, that talented mouth, that mobile, energetic prick showing him in crystal clear detail exactly why getting laid by Blair Sandburg should be considered a requirement. They were at odds, entrenched in combat, both of them fighting the good fight but both of them (he thought, he was pretty sure, he hoped) essentially okay with it.

Without noting it, certainly without talking about it, their lives took on a new rhythm. Always partners, now Jim felt like they were more than that, like all that time they spent skin to skin now somehow counted for more than the time they spent at the station, or the time they spent testing his senses.

He felt more. But even watching Blair, listening to him, feeling his mouth on his stomach, or his fingers pressing deep inside him, Jim still didn't know whether Blair felt more. And since he knew Blair was just about the most self-aware person on the planet, that probably meant Blair was holding back. Blair knew, but Blair wasn't sharing. Maybe he didn't want to upset the applecart. Maybe he liked what they were doing too much to risk it by examining it out loud. Or maybe this was plenty good enough for Blair-- maybe the outside stuff was all he needed; maybe for Blair sex was still just... sex.

But the longer it went on, the more they traded strength for strength, each reaching deep in the other, teaching and learning together, the more Jim wanted.

He didn't want to just be better than all the other options.

He wanted to be it.

Usually, when Blair freaked out, he did so volubly, spatially, with much churning of arms and shouting. Not this time, though. Not during weeks two, three or four. Not even at the end of month one. Month One. A whole month waking up with the same person. What a concept. And yeah, he supposed in a global sense, he'd been waking up with Jim Ellison for a year now, sharing breakfast, splitting chores, fighting over the remote, but waking up like he woke up now, waking up with a morning hard-on that actually got taken care of before he even set foot in the shower, well, that was a whole new notion.

No, this time, he kept his freakout stifled, composed, in control. He'd learned to do some holding in himself (something Jim continued to try to teach him, with mixed but startlingly pleasurable results).

Blair had, for the first time he could really remember, spare time on his hands. He hadn't realized just how much time commitment and energy it took to keep all those balls in the air. The Tina ball. The Stephanie ball. The Valerie ball. Not to mention those balls still waiting to be discovered; colorful, round, bouncy balls, in piles like they have at Chuck E. Cheese, just waiting to be dived into, picked up, tossed.

Instead, he dribbled just one big ball. Knew how it bounced, knew how much strength it took to move it where he wanted it to go. Interesting, from a scientific point of view, just how good he got at the one ball, now that he had time to really learn its unique properties.

Ball analogies aside, being with Jim simplified his life.

The time he usually spent meeting women, talking to them, approaching them, dating them, satisfying them, now went to devising new ways of making Jim roll over for him, literally and figuratively.

Maybe it wasn't a game, but Blair couldn't remember sex ever being fun like this. Hell, with Jim, losing a skirmish felt just as good as winning-- it just attacked a different part of his brain. As much as he enjoyed those times when Jim caved and let him do his Sandburgian Best, the times he loved most were the ones with Jim comfortably seated in the driver's seat, driving him right out of his mind.

The downside of all that spare time, of course, of that simplified life, of the hours when they weren't working, or thumping each other stupid, was all that time to think.

For example, he had time to ponder if continuous sex with the same person ever led to feeling like you were just jerking off, only with someone else doing the jerking. It didn't feel like that; not so far... but he wondered.

And he wondered why, when variety had always seemed to be the spice of his life, suddenly he thought it was really cool to know all of Jim's buttons, each and every one of them, and how much he liked being an expert in pushing them. The former generalities of breast, waist, and hip had narrowed to the specifics of Jim's chest, his ass, his long thighs and his short hair, and he wondered what made that particular body so appealing, so... necessary... all of a sudden.

He had time to think about how easily he'd gone from polygamous to monogamous. How he'd happily hopped the fence, ditching the female population, and apparently 99.999 percent of the potential male population, too, to shack up with the guy he'd already been living with in every other sense of the word.

He thought about how none of his ready excuses quite seemed to cover what was happening here, and found himself bothered by the fact that it didn't seem to bother him. Most of his excuses had worn down over time-- the late hour certainly didn't explain those nooners they snuck in now and again. The length of time without outside stimulation had worked for maybe half an hour, which was about how long Jim gave him before taking care of every stimulated need he could dream up, and a few even he hadn't thought of.

Breaking a sexual taboo. Well, duh. Yeah, that might excuse the first week-- trying something new, getting off on touching somebody else's dick. After that, he just had to be honest with himself and say that thinking it was hot had nothing on doing it, and he thought how repressed he had to have been not to have wondered sometime before he reached age thirty whether he might not love getting fucked in the ass.

He usually considered himself a thoughtful, fairly cerebral, research-oriented person. But nothing he came up with explained this... thing... with Jim.

And Jim, bless him, never pushed him. Sometimes, in the heat of things, in those dizzy, clutching heights, he felt it in Jim-- intensity, tenderness-- a gut-deep connection that thrilled and terrified him at the same time. Sometimes he thought Jim might say something, or he might. But Jim didn't, and neither did he.

He thought sometimes that maybe he should use some of that spare time to start thinking about what he wanted to do After. He couldn't imagine Jim wanting him to stay in the loft... After. He hoped Jim would continue with the research work-- compartmentalize like he did so well.

Because things like this, even this amazingly intense, gratifying thing, didn't last forever.


Could it?

"So yes, Detective Ellison, those earlier records you requested haven't been added to the database yet, that's why the microfiche is in there with the-- oh! Hi Blair!"

Jim lowered his hand-- he'd had it stretched out to take the file that the Records Clerk (Donna? Dayna?) had offered to him, but now Blair had returned to the desk bearing coffee, and there was a certain Records Clerk who now had absolutely no idea that a guy named Jim Ellison ever existed. He tried not to scowl.

"Hey, Danica-- how's life down in Records?" Blair seemed possessed of the strange ability to talk while doing three other things at once, and never look like he was giving less than his full attention. Jim marveled.

Danica's painted lips curved winningly. She had dimples, he noticed. "Oh, you know-- running behind in triplicate, as usual."

Jim watched as her smile widened. As Sandburg smiled back. As if she'd said something even remotely funny. As if that were some kind of little joke the two of them shared on a regular basis.

Abruptly, he wished he'd skipped lunch.

"So Blair, did you know that there's a Juzo Itami film festival playing down at The Vic? I thought of you because of that talk we had, a while ago, when you were telling me about the development of Japanese culture..."

It was the strangest sensation. He hadn't touched his dials, all senses seemed to be in the proper working order, and yet he was absolutely, totally numb. Head to toe. Just numb. No sense fiddling at all. Naturally numb.

He looked at her, not at all nervous about giving her a good once-over because she was utterly oblivious to him, staring avidly at Blair with a pair of bright, acquisitive, cursedly lovely eyes. Lovely. She was. And apparently, she listened to Sandburg's diatribes without a whimper.

He swallowed, and didn't feel a thing. Except for pressure. Somewhere. He didn't know where. All he knew was that he really, really should have skipped lunch.

"...but I've just got to try to get it all done before the end of the semester. I'm really sorry to miss that festival, though-- you'll have to tell me what your favorites were."

He couldn't look at Blair. He could hear Blair-- Blair's words had cut right into him, penetrated until that strange numb shell just cracked around him and floated away-- but he couldn't look at him. Couldn't watch him turn down this date, couldn't look to see whatever degree of regret there would be on that face he knew so well. Maybe too well.

"Yeah, I'll be sure to do that-- maybe over lunch or something and I'll tell you all about it. Well, I better get back, or Mr. Cranshaw will be asking me if I made my deliveries via Tibet again--"

"My file," Jim was amazed, astounded that his voice sounded so normal, so calm. He took a breath. "My file, please. Microfiche?"

"Oh right," the file appeared in his hand as if by magic. "There you go!"

A very handy, very convenient file, he discovered. Something to look at. Something to flip through.

"Bye, Blair. See you around."

"Bye, Danica. Catch you later."

He's like a slot machine...

He can make you come so hard your nipples sweat...

You're in for a real treat...

Jim stared at the page in front of him, noticing only vaguely that it stuck to the tips of his perspiring fingers. His eyes scanned over the coroner's report and told him that someone had died, wrongful death; someone had given up the ghost and been in the wrong place at the wrong time and had made the wrong choices, and had died.

And for once, strange as it was, Jim had to admit that he didn't care, didn't care, didn't care.

He had intended to have his little talk with Blair as soon as they got home. Jim supposed he shouldn't be surprised that it didn't turn out that way-- nothing in his whole whacked out life had gone on schedule since he and Blair had started this... thing they still didn't put a name to.

He had planned for it, readied himself for it, used one distant corner of his brain to get all his statements neatly lined up while the rest of him just dealt with the impact of what saying the words was going to do to him.

'Blair, we need to stop this.'

'Blair, we can't sleep together anymore.'

'Blair, thanks, it's been great, but we're done now. Go check out that film festival.'

Easy words. Simple words.

Saying them was going to kill him.

But it had to be done. He'd thought a lot about it, and pretty much the only thing he knew for sure was that he'd put himself right in the middle of a huge mess, and it was time that he got himself out of it before it got any messier. It had seemed like an okay thing to begin with, a good idea, even. But looking back on it, it just seemed sort of... selfish. His own selfishness in wanting more from Blair than Blair wanted to give, Blair's selfishness in not giving him what he needed-- a mess.

And of course, it didn't stop there. Pulling himself out of it was a selfish act as well-- he was pulling out for his own well-being, before frustrated expectation became sorrowful disappointment. That was selfish. But he could twist it so it seemed generous, because it freed Blair to find something that worked for him, some arrangement where he wouldn't have to deal with Jim's desire for more-- but then again he had no clue if Blair really knew about that, or if it made any impact on him at all, if he did. Probably so. Probably.

Big mess. Huge mess. Time to stop. Time to stop now.

So he planned out the right words to use and he geared himself up to say them as best he could, and when they got home and Blair asked him what was wrong he took a deep, deep, deep breath and opened his mouth and looked Blair straight in the eye...

And couldn't say a fucking word. Speechless. Blair could have had a gun to his head (and it felt like that, in a way, that's just what it felt like except that Blair was the gun and it was his own finger on the trigger), and he wouldn't have been able to say a single word to save his life.

In the silence that was the absence of his choked-off words he heard a voice, a creeping, sneaking voice deep inside his head, quiet but insidious and oh so demanding, asking 'one last time? one more? can't we have just one more?'

Jim let go of the breath he'd been holding, the breath that was supposed to get him out of this. Utter foolishness, to think this preventive measure could sidestep misery. Like it could somehow stop a future hurt. He was already addicted, hopelessly hooked after days and weeks and a whole month of mainlining Blair, and it was too late to do a single thing about it except remember the addict's insanity, put Blair in a box marked 'poison', and then deal with the shakes and wretchedness and horror of going cold-turkey.

And so he would. After this time. After this one last time.

"Let's go upstairs," he said quietly, and that seemed to be enough of an explanation for Blair, enough of an answer to that big, big question of what was wrong.

Of course it did.

So he paid attention, paid excruciating attention to every single detail, because this was the last, his last time, this was his one and only remaining chance to soak up everything about this. He even managed to shunt aside the conscious awareness that this would be the last time; not even that distracted him.

And because he was paying such close attention, because he was so deeply focused on what they were doing, what it felt like and smelled like and sounded like and tasted like, he found himself taken by surprise, found himself shocked, actually, to realize that at some point things had become... different.

Blair was different, now, somehow. Blair didn't hold back with him, and without his own inner commentary running as a continual background distraction he could see that, could see that somehow, at some point that he couldn't determine, Blair had shifted from Sandburg The Amazing Lust Machine to... this, whatever this was.

Not that there wasn't lust-- no, there was, and plenty of it. But there were other things too, now. Blair held him. Blair caressed him. Blair kissed him with such passion that God he had to wonder if this was new, if this was a first-time thing, and he even abandoned his intense focus on the present moment to look back into memory, only to be stunned with the realization that no, it wasn't new, but the change had been so gradual that he'd missed it entirely.

Until now.

And actually, that made his situation worse-- as if Blair was teasing him, giving him just a little morsel of what he was starving for. This last time, this one-last-time thing had been a huge mistake-- he'd thought it couldn't hurt, or at least couldn't hurt any worse, but this circumvented that nicely. This was worse. He had a sudden urge to toss Blair off him, mumble an apology and just get the hell out. He pulled in a deep breath and looked down...

And let it out in a deep, doleful groan. Blair was touching his feet, so close Jim could feel his breath on the arch of his foot. Blair was stroking his toes, one by one, a picture of concentration, and that was new, a brand new thing between them, and a new thing for Jim altogether; and for some reason, it just ripped him up to watch Blair do that, caressing each toe in turn, nuzzling the arch of his foot and mumbling some nonsense to his feet that he couldn't hear because his senses were out of control, he was out of control and he couldn't stop this, couldn't push it, push Blair, away.

Even if he should have. Yeah, he thought with mellow grief as things went on, he should have.

"Good, good, good..." Blair was whispering, wet and gorgeous and playing his body like a virtuoso, finally inside him; and Jim tuned in to that, memorizing, committing to memory every last bit of what was happening here. Blair stroked into him hard, Blair knew where to push and how much and where to touch and how the stretch and grind and pulse of this was good, good for both of them, Blair was right-- it was good.

"Love fucking you," Blair told him, groaning the words out now and holding him down, hands clutching hard into his spread thighs. "Love this... fucking... I... love it... Jim... so good... I fucking love you..."

Blair moaned like he was in pain and his thrusts slowed, deep and deliberate and just where Jim needed them, and Jim told himself he wasn't going to say anything, and bit his lips so that he wouldn't say anything, and the next thing he knew he'd pulled Blair's face right up to his own, searching deep into desire-glazed eyes. "Did you just say you loved me?"

"Fuck," Blair gasped in response, shaking hard under his hands. "Jim... I'm trying... I'm trying not to... damn."

"Did you mean it?" He gritted out between clenched teeth, but it was too late because even the deathgrip he had on Blair's head couldn't do much as Blair threw his head back, closed his eyes, and pounded into him ruthlessly until he collapsed, groaning and limp across Jim's aching chest.

"Jesus Christ, Sandburg," he muttered. "You're a master of timing, aren't you?"

"You... distracted... me..." Blair huffed breathily, then let go of one last, quiet moan, something that turned into a sigh at the end.

Jim waited. Then decided not to wait. Then decided that Sandburg was a total dick for making him wait. "Sandburg, I think you're--"

"Sorry." Blair interrupted him. "Just thinking. Trying to think. It's not as easy as it looks, you know."

Jim was distracted from his sudden schemes of horrible things he could do to Blair by renewed movement, and his body breathed in deep automatically and obediently as Blair slid out, backed onto his knees and stripped off yet another dead soldier.

And started putting on another one. Calm as anything. Almost sheepish. Not meeting his eyes.


Blair looked at him then, no longer calm. Looking kind of defensive, actually.

"Do you say that to everybody?" Jim asked, feeling a little defensive himself.

Blair laughed under his breath. "Yeah, right."

Jim propped himself up on one elbow, ready to pursue the line of questioning, but Blair stopped him.

"I know, Jim. I know that clause wasn't in our original contract. So sue me."

Bizarre. Defensive, edge-of-hostile Blair, crawling towards him and pushing in again-- so very bizarre that Jim did nothing to stop him. Blair sighed, grabbed for Jim's hips with hands that knew every single angle and plane of his body, then pulled him wide and started going for it, deep and hard and wanting inside him, always such wanting.

"You meant it." His own voice was soft, probably too soft, but apparently Blair heard him.

"I meant it." Blair kissed him, hungrily, and then broke away panting. "God your ass is tight--"

"You love me." He was panting himself, his body on autopilot and working itself up to something while he was busy elsewhere.

"Love you, Jim. Love you, love your body, love kissing you holding you touching you fucking your gorgeous ass--"

"I love you too, you know." It all came out in a rush, something that slipped blissfully free after a long, long time of restraint. It was like a weight falling away, and suddenly Blair was exquisitely present inside him, stroking with silky clarity over nerve endings that were abruptly swamped with sensation.

"I just figured that out." Blair's words were hot and almost indecipherable in his ear. "That's... great. Really great. Can we... uh... can we talk about fucking now?"

"We can talk about coming now," he managed, and then he went there, pushed there all at once and took Blair right with him, together this time, both of them at once for once; both of them together. Blair squeezed him hard enough to hurt, and thundered in his ear with an endless flood of words, flooding him, dragging him under. And yeah, the word 'love' was in there, not only in relation to his ass or how Blair felt about making him come, but in relation to him, them, this; and what do you know-- Blair meant it. Wonder of wonders, he really meant it.

Against Blair's warm shoulder, Jim smiled.

It took a couple of months before Blair could persuade Jim to return to Chu Fu's, or, as Jim referred to it, the Scene of the Crime. Blair didn't think that was a particularly flattering way to describe the start of their beautiful relationship, but then Jim was weird, in a cool, coplike, Sentinel kind of way; in a coolwarmhot kind of way.

But persuade him he did, because he'd always believed in facing his demons, and anyway, nobody did won tons like Fu, and it was halfway between school and the station, and besides, it had the added attraction of those cozy, private, closed-in booths... which Blair had no compunction whatsoever about using to his advantage.

So from the minute they closed the heavy curtains behind them, Blair set out to distract Jim, to wipe out the memory of their last visit and slip a new, better one in its place. He slid in the booth right beside him, instead of courteously across the table. He ate off Jim's plate, poked him with his chopsticks, kept him laughing through the main course with terribly un-PC impressions of Chu Fu and his mustached wife, and felt him up from time to time under the protection of brocade curtains and a nice solid tabletop.

By the time they got to fortune cookies and tea, Blair thought the entire Rainier cheerleading squad could have performed lap dances to "Livin' La Vida Loca" in the next booth and Jim wouldn't have raised an eyebrow.

That sort of attention deserved a reward.

So Blair leaned over and laid one on him-- showed Jim what he'd learned from him about wet, deep, surprisingly nasty kisses, about taking his time, about tongue-sucking and lip-licking. On his tour of Jim's mouth, he picked up faint hints of tea, green pepper, and sweet and sour sauce, and he wondered briefly if his normal taste buds could get all that, Jim's must know what he'd had for breakfast and a mid-morning snack. But it didn't seem to bother him, because when Blair pulled back, a little dizzy in the best possible way-- as opposed to the worst possible way, like the last time they were here-- Jim's mouth followed his, seeking blindly.

Intrigued, Blair leaned back, and Jim leaned forward the same distance, apparently determined, and absolutely focused. When Blair put a hand up between them Jim growled, his kiss-ready mouth tightening, his half-closed eyes narrowing in warning. Jim wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. It was one of Blair's favorite things about him.

One of his favorite things.

Blair took in the glare, the flushed face, the impossible-to-ignore erection-- all the things he loved about Jim, and what he could do to him.

He licked his lips-- a little sour, but mostly sweet.

He looked at Jim and thought about yesterday, and the day before that. And about tomorrow, and the day after that. He looked at Jim, leaned forward to taste him again, and thought about Jim and him, and their lives in particular, and Life in general.

A little sour, but mostly sweet.

Yeah, that about covered it.


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