Disclaimers: Jim and Blair belong to Pet Fly and Paramount. Do not archive, repost, link or publish without discussing it with me first. For adult readers only, please. Contains male/male sexual situations and some really foul language.

Thanks go to Kady Mae and Kat for beta-reading and to JaC, for patiently reeling me in. Dedicated to Z&n and all the women of the RSM.

Comments are welcomed (and almost always responded to) at JBonetoo@yahoo.com

Sequel note: This story picks up two weeks after "Territorial Imperative" left off.

Territorial Imperative, Part Two (NC-17)

By Bone

Blessed Protector, my ass. No Blessed Protector worthy of the name would leave his charge in this condition. I really am going to kill him. I know I've said that before, but I mean it this time. He just up and left me hanging. Well, not really hanging. More like pointing. As in straight up. Hard as a rock, inches away from what I know was destined to be the most mind-blowing orgasm of this anthropologist's life. He just picked up his toys and went home. Went upstairs, which might as well be Mauritania now because my E-Ticket's not getting me up those stairs again any time soon. Shit. This is not exactly how I planned the evening. Okay, I guess it's not entirely his fault. My timing sucks sometimes. Looking back, I can see why he'd be a little upset, but still. To leave me like this?

It seemed harmless enough. I should have known better. He's so freakin' skittish sometimes. Patience, grasshopper, patience. It's all so new, I'm having a little trouble with the sorting and filing. What might have been A-OK over the dinner table turned into Melrose Place on the couch. I half- expected to get slapped. But no, that's not how real men cope with difficult moments. No, real men pull a Jim and triage their war wounds and retreat. So I understand how his mind works. Big deal. Understanding it doesn't make me feel any better. If anything, it makes me feel worse because after two years in his house and two weeks in his bed, you'd think he'd have the decency to talk about it, not snit himself back in his jeans and sulk.

Shit, shit, shit.

And while my brain is working on Problem Area B, Problem Area A is getting downright demanding. I'm going to have to take matters in my own hands. Fuck going to the station, fuck the Anthro wing unisex and the Wonder Burgers' quote unquote facilities, I'm whacking off in my own bed and GI Joe up there can listen, sniff and watch for all I care.

What a jerk. I don't know where his head is sometimes. Well, I know where it wasn't. It wasn't where it should have been, which was paying attention to what I was doing. I'm new at this, for God's sake, a little concentration doesn't seem like too much to ask. It's my own fault. I should know better than to leave that mouth of his unoccupied for more than five minutes at a time. I just thought, you know, with his dick in my mouth he wouldn't be able to ... think ... for a few minutes. Guess I was wrong.

I hear him heave off the couch, muttering under his breath, tripping over something he must have left on the floor, heading for his own room. I hate that. I thought we'd gotten beyond that. His room's turning into a storeroom again. Golf clubs, a couple of spare Kevlar vests -- which no home should require, but ours seems to -- all my cassettes, which we can no longer play because Sandburg's system is better than mine so that's what we hooked up and he just looked at me like I'd lost my mind when I mentioned the tape-to-tape. "Do the letters 'C.D.' mean anything to you, big guy?" he'd asked. So all my tapes are taking up room in his room, because he's supposed to be taking up room in mine.

He's snarling now. Snarling. Stripping the bed, tossing books on the floor, or at least that's what it sounds like, and sound is all I have to go on. He's not making any sense, and I'm not much in the mood to try to decipher Blairspeak, so the voice part just sort of drips off me. The bedsprings creak as he stretches out and he sighs a little. Must feel a little strange in that little closet of a room now, after two weeks up here. I know it feels strange to have me up here and him down there. Now I hear his heartbeat start to speed up, and the sound of skin on skin.

He's really doing it, the little shit.

He's jerking off.

Right under my nose.

Right under me.

I can hear him breathing hard through his nose, a little whuff at the end of each stroke. I can smell him, and if I close my eyes, I can imagine how he looks, because now I've seen him enough that it's right there, ready to be called up any time I want, which seems to be any time my mind gets a minute, like at a stoplight, or during a staff meeting, or right before I go to sleep. Pictures of Sandburg, and his chest, and his eyes, and his mouth and his dick. He's getting close, I can tell that too, now. I know how his breath changes, I know the sounds he makes when he's about to come. I know those sounds now. He can't be quiet anymore, and his hand's moving faster, that sound of skin slapping skin getting louder and then he just stops.

Well, I guess that's that.

Except I don't smell semen, and his heartbeat is just as fast as ever.

"God damn it."

Ouch. That hurt. He sounds furious, and frustrated. I wait to hear what happens next.

"Jim?"

He's using his normal tone of voice now. He knows damn well I've dialed up. What's he up to?

"What?" I shout it at him. It feels good to yell, even if I can excuse it as being the only way he'll hear me all the way down there.

"Man, I hate doing this by myself."

How can he possibly have me laughing? I'm really mad at him. I look at the clock on the end table. Four minutes. It's been four minutes since I put my pants back on and left him on the couch. I guess that's long enough. I never was very good at holding a grudge.

"Come on up, Sandburg." I'm trying to sound resigned, and what's the word? Nonchalant. A good Blair word, heard and defined and stored. By the speed with which I hear him on the stairs, I didn't manage it very well. Now I've got about 150 pounds of very aroused roommate sprawling on my bed.

"I'm sorry, man, really sorry. My head just sort of has its own agenda, and there's like no filter between my brain and my mouth, and it just came out. I didn't mean to go all Scully on you, really, I didn't."

I'd missed him already.

Four minutes and I'd missed this.

I think there's a good chance I need serious psychiatric help.

One cool thing about Jim is that hot as he blows, it never lasts. I can't tell you how many times he's grabbed me and thrown me up against a wall, but I can always talk him down. Glad to know that hasn't changed.

Everything else sure has.

Used to be I had a map for my life. A big one, with bright colors and firm, straight lines that led places like Mozambique and Swaziland and Brazil. All those countries with 'z's in them. So many places highlighted I knew I'd never get to them all, but hell, the research is half the fun anyway, right? All those indigenous tribes, disappearing faster than you can say, "You want fries with that?" All those cultures, and traditions, and rituals, vanishing while people like me pretend we can at least preserve the artifacts if not the landscape.

But that's all changed now. Borneo? No contest. The Sentinel thing, the Jim thing, won hands down. He's his own little tribe of one, a treasure chest of unknown motivations and rabid insecurities and unexpected strengths. And when it was just Jim-Sentinel, Blair-Guide, when it was just research, when he could be the cop and I could be the observer, it was enough.

At least, I thought so.

These last two weeks took that theory and wrote in big red letters across it, "Don't think so, chump." The closer I get to him, the closer I want to be. If I could keep him naked and dialed up in this bed, I'd do it. I absolutely, positively can not get enough of him.

Two years of pining made up for by two weeks of ballistic sex. With no signs yet of slowing down. Two years of the two of us sniffing around each other, a pat here, a hug there, lust on both sides as it turns out, but nothing we couldn't control, nothing we had to set free and watch run amok. It's running now, amoking all over the place. We're taking chances no sane person would. I can't even go into the parking garage any more without getting a hard-on. Sleep is a thing of the past. He's a zombie at work. I'm floating through my classes on adrenaline alone.

Something entirely elemental has changed.

Now when something changes that much, that fast, I'd kind of like to know why. It's a mystery, right? A puzzle to be solved. So I turn on the gray matter and it gets to work. I just didn't time it very well. I had a revelation a few minutes ago while we were getting slippery on the sofa, and of course, I had to share it. Then and there. Regardless of the fact that he's got my dick six inches down his throat and he might not be up for hearing it.

Boy, is that an understatement.

I barely got the word "theory" out of my mouth before he's spitting me out, clenching his jaw, reaching for his jeans and flipping me off on his way up the stairs.

I should have kept my big mouth shut.

He's just laying there now, looking at me, his jeans on but not zipped, his hands tucked behind his head. Looks like if there's talking to be done, I'm going to be the one to do it.

There's a shocker.

"Um, Jim." Oh, that's good, Sandburg. Real smooth.

"Yeah?" Okay, okay, he's receptive, he's listening.

"I just ... I mean, I had this idea and I'm sorry about the timing back there, that stunk, but I still want to tell you what I think I figured out."

He takes a deep breath. "Sandburg, I have turned over just about everything in my life to you, on this Sentinel thing, haven't I?"

"Yeah, Jim, you came around pretty quick. Quicker than I thought you would, really, man, you're good." Chill, Blair, relax.

"I've done your experiments, practiced, tried your weird voodoo things, all that shit, right?"

Voodoo? I'm not sure voodoo's a word I appreciate, but I'm learning as I go which battles to fight, and that's one I'm willing to let slide.

"You've been a model research subject, Jim," I assure him. If he's going to conveniently forget all those times I had to pull and poke and prod him to try something, I can forget them, too.

If it'll get me sucked like that again, I'll forget his name if he wants.

"Let me just make this perfectly clear," he's saying now, real calm, matter- of-fact. "My love life is not an experiment. It is not something we are going to analyze, scrutinize, theorize, tabulize or any other kind of ize. Do you understand me?"

Whoa.

Love life. Love life? His love life? Wouldn't that mean our love life, in this particular instance? Well, shit. No wonder he's pissed. I've been thinking sex. Sex. You know, chemistry. Pheromones. Biology. Genetics. That old territorial imperative.

He's talking love.

We are so not on the same page, here.

Damn it, I did it again. He's clammed up tight. I wish I knew what it was that caused this, this alien reaction thing. He still hasn't told me what this brilliant idea of his is, but judging by the look on his face, he's already moved on to some other problem to be solved.

Great.

I've had about enough surprises for one night. Let's see if we can't put this quiet time to good use.

He's on his side, facing me, and his cock is bouncing up and down. It apparently doesn't care whether his brain is engaged or not, because it hasn't drooped a bit. I slide up to face him and put my hand on his stomach, and push him over so he's on his back. I like seeing my hand on him. Like how it feels too, his skin and hair and muscle. I can dial up my fingers so much I can feel the goosebumps come up even before the little hairs rise up. He responds to every little thing I do. God, he looks good up against the pillow, naked and ready and there.

Forget the argument. Maybe later, we can talk about it again. Right now, I think I'm just gonna get him off. Seems a shame to waste time talking when that is waiting for me. I'm going to have to do something about his mouth, though. No more surprises. I put two fingers on his lips.

"Open your mouth," I say to him and his eyes go wide and then he's opening his mouth and I'm sliding the fingers in. "Not another word out of you, you hear me?"

He grins around my fingers and nods, then starts sucking in earnest. Oh, my God, that feels good. It's hot in there, and wet, and his tongue's like a live thing in there, playing. I let my other hand wrap around his cock and then I just lean down and take it in my mouth again, like we hadn't been interrupted, like none of that happened. It's easy, my throat remembers what to do, and just like that, it's all the way in.

I've been doing this for two weeks now, putting another man's penis in my mouth. I can't describe how good it feels. I thought it might be gross. I thought I might feel, I don't know, weak or something. Like it might be okay for him do to me, but for me to want to do that? I just couldn't picture it. But all it took was that first time, when we were both semi-conscious on the floor, the night of the stakeout. One taste, one time feeling my jaws go wide to get around him, and I was hooked. We do this more than anything else. More than we do mutual hand-jobs, more than him going down on me, more than that amazing rubbing against each other thing. We do this a lot because I love doing this.

I love the sounds he's making, slurping on my fingers, I love his hands going to my head and holding me. His fingers go down to my cheeks and he's feeling himself go in and out of my mouth. His hips are rolling on the sheets now, rolling up, rolling back, he's fucking himself in me now, holding me still and sliding up and back, a little harder each time. I'm having a hard time keeping my fingers in his mouth and I'm starting to realize there's a good chance he's going to bite me, and hard, so I pull them out and send them to one of his nipples instead.

It's like I pulled a plug, because he's talking again, words spilling out so fast I can't keep up with them, but they're all good, they're all encouraging. His nipple's poking against my fingers now, and he's moving all over the bed, everything's wriggling, and I'm having to open up even wider because he's going way down in there now, no rhythm at all now, just these heavy hard uneven strokes. I set my teeth on him, just enough so he can feel it, and I bite down, just a little bit, and then he's coming hard in me, on me, stuff dripping off my nose and down my neck, stuff all over me.

Before he catches his breath even, he's reaching for me, pulling me on top of him, kissing me, licking his come off me and that makes me crazy. I've got good leverage here, a nice warm spot to tuck in, right on the side of his hip, so I just lunge a few times, make sure I never lose contact with that mouth, and it doesn't take long. Feels like the top of my head came off, but it doesn't take long.

That's not science, sport, I don't care what your books tell you. That's just pure magic. That's what that is. Pure magic.

If I'm lucky, if we can stay awake long enough and not piss each other off again, maybe he'll wait until tomorrow to tell me the latest theory.

Yeah, right. Fat chance.

Morning again. Another morning waking up in Jim's bed, looking at Jim's ceiling. Two weeks isn't anywhere near enough time to start thinking it might be half my ceiling. Nope, it's still just Jim's and I'm still just visiting.

He's asleep. I like watching him when he's asleep. I like watching him when he's awake, too, but there's something ... innocent ... about him when he sleeps that really trips my trigger. All those bones that look so hard on him when he's awake and saving the world are all softened up now. His mouth's open a little bit, his eyes move under the lids and his hand twitches a little on top of the comforter. He's chasing rabbits again.

I spoon up against him, tuck my butt in his groin and he reaches for me automatically, one big hot hand gluing me to him. The sex is great. Better than great, bordering on seismic, but this cuddling thing comes in a very close second. Every morning we do this. He sticks that poker between his legs right up against me, but never does anything more than that. One of these days he's going to wake up and already be inside me.

Count on it.

I know, I know, I freaked when I tried it. I still get the heebie-jeebies remembering it. But this wouldn't be like that. I think it would be all different if he were the one on top. Don't ask me how I know that. Call it instinct, and isn't that what we've been attributing all this to anyway? Some primeval instinct asserting itself all over our twentieth century bodies?

I am so ready for that, for him. I get juiced up just thinking about it.

One of these days, man. One of these days.

One of these days he's going to wake up with me stuffed in him. Every morning he pulls the same routine. Snuggles in, rubs against me like a cat and then bounces out of bed five minutes later chattering about toast and tests to grade. After the fiasco the last attempt turned into, you could say I'm a little hesitant to try it on him. I wonder if I could explain to him how it felt from my end.

My end.

Jesus.

Let's rephrase that.

I wonder if I could explain to him how good it felt to me. How amazing it was to be joined like that, even that little bit, for that little bit of time. I'm not positive, since we haven't done it yet, but as remarkable as the blowjobs are, I bet this would be even better.

I'm just not sure exactly how to ask him about it.

/Hey, kid, can I fuck you?/ Sounds a little harsh.

/Can I interest you in some anal intercourse?/ Too brainy.

/Can I do to you what you started to do to me before you decided I'd swallow you whole from the bottom up?/ Yeah, that'd go over real well.

So until I can figure out how to ask him, we're not going to do it.

And that's final.

I'm learning. Takes me awhile sometimes, but if I'm anything, I'm a good student. He obviously needs to separate bed time from other times. That's cool. No more theories, no experiments, no Sentinel talk in bed. This is, after all, his love life we're messing with.

I'm still stumbling over that concept. Love life. His love life. Our love life.

Talk about a paradigm shift.

I've been having sex since I was fourteen. Thirteen if you count what happened after I tried to climb the rope in one of those twenty junior highs I attended and Tamara Butler put my hands in her shirt to make them feel better because they were all scraped and burned, and one thing led to another, but we never actually took any clothes off. So let's go with fourteen. That's half of my life I've been doing this.

Sex is one thing. Love's always been something else. I've loved people. I have. I love Naomi. I loved Maya. Still do, a little. But that love never translated into sex, and so I'm experiencing a little cognitive dissonance here. I want things from Jim I don't even have words for, but I never really considered that the word I might be looking for is love.

We're close. We're getting closer. Every night in his bed, every day now spent completely zeroed in on where the other one is at any given time. I thought I was stuck to him before. Nope. Now I'm stuck to him. And as close as that is, I want more.

But I'm still not sure I'd call it love.

It might take some more ... research.

I've got a dick that certainly thinks so.

I'm a talker. I've got a good vocabulary, I was on the Rainier U debate team for two semesters. I could probably preach if I could find a religion that wanted sermons on the rainforest. But I'll be damned if I can find the words to ask Jim for what I want. The non-verbal cues aren't doing the job. Obviously. If they were, my boxers would be around my ankles and I'd be eating the pillow.

/Jim, man, how about putting that dick somewhere useful?/ Uh, no.

/Jim, how would you feel about trying anal intercourse again?/ Why not just ask him the capital of Lithuania while you're at it?

/Jim, I want you to do me./

Wait a sec. That has potential. It avoids any actual discussion of penetration or the "a" word, and it's not demanding because I'm just stating a desire. Yeah, yeah, I think that might do.

Throat clearing, butt wiggling. His arms tightening, his chin burrowing in my shoulder.

"Jim?" Oops. Didn't make any sound on the first try. Once more into the breach. Well, shit. "Once more into the breach" is exactly what I'm after. That makes me laugh, which makes him laugh, like it always does, bless his heart, even when he doesn't know why I'm laughing.

"JimIwantyoutodome."

A little fast, but loud enough. He heard me. Oh yeah, he heard. Every muscle seized up, especially the one poking me in the ass.

"Thank God," he says, just as the alarm starts buzzing. I hold him down, don't even let him reach over to flick off the beep.

"Thank God I want you to do me? Or thank God the alarm went off so you don't have to answer?"

He rolls over on me and buries his head in my shoulder and talks onto my skin. It tickles. I want him to keep doing that for about the next hour or so.

"Thank God you want me to do that," he mouthes onto my neck. "I really, really, really want to."

Really, really, really? Cool. That's as enthusiastic as I've ever heard Jim. No identity crisis there. No qualms, hesitations, reservations, doubts. No Blair panic-attack specials. Just Jim going for what he wants. As usual.

What a guy.

Now if we can just make it through the work day without sneaking off somewhere.

This has been, without question, the longest day of my life. You would think, after two weeks of almost non-stop sex I'd start getting tired. And if not tired of it, just plain worn out. We're scraping by on an average of about three hours of sleep a night. Lunchtime has started to mean quickies in the truck in the garage. Once we even locked the men's room door and I blew him right there next to the urinal. I can't pretend it was anything but need pushing us that time. I got hungry and he was there, and it just sort of ... happened. We're more careful now.

The fact that criminals continue to be apprehended and processed is more a matter of habit than any good investigative work on my part because I've got to tell you, my mind is not on my work.

Sandburg's having some trouble adjusting. I don't blame him. It's a pretty shocking thing, what we're doing. It's pretty hard to even pause and try to think about it. The feeling part takes over when we're together and we've been doing our best not to be apart. I don't know whether Simon has figured out that something's different. Hell, everything is different. The whole world looks different.

My old man would choke on his martini if he could see inside my head. Jimbo screwing a guy. Not just a guy, but a long-haired, pierced-nippled New Age freak. I think my dad could actually understand if it were another cop maybe, or if I'd done this off in the wilds while I was with Covert Ops. Proximity, danger, all that shit. But to choose this, and to choose him. No, I can't see that going over very well.

I could never get Dad to understand how these last two weeks have changed me. It's more than getting over the idea that the person I've got a boner for shaves. It's more than sex. The sex is more than sex. When I've got him wrapped up, with his clothes off, his eyes closed and his mouth open and he's all shaky because of something I've done to him, I feel complete.

Whole in a whole new way.

Blair's not ready for that. So I'm keeping it to myself. My own little secret. In time, he'll either figure it out, or this will fade out, or more likely burn out, and we'll be back to Sentinel and Guide and I can live with that.

If I have to.

And in the meantime, I have four more hours to kill here. Four more hours before we can go home and get naked.

He's been watching me, across the room, through the window, from his chair to mine. I don't know if he's Sentinel watching, or just Jim watching. From here there's no way to tell. Whichever, I feel it like he's sitting beside me. I've spent the last hour trying to come up with an excuse to leave early. It's not like either of us are contributing one iota of brain power to the Cascade P.D. today anyway.

The anticipation is killing me. I'm getting hot and bothered just imagining it. Him, inside me. Oh, man, I've got to stop thinking about it. Let's think about something else. Masai running across a plain. What's on special at the Peking Inn. The forecast for the weekend. Me on my stomach and him on me like a blanket, impaling me. All right, all right, so thinking about something else isn't working. Shit. Hang on. Got to make an adjustment here. Tugging down the shirttails, leaning forward, book in lap. I'm spending my life this way now, gathering props to keep my crotch covered.

Living untucked.

Unfucked.

But not for long.

I know this won't last. It never does, this stage. It's a hell of a ride while the gas lasts, though, and I intend to enjoy every minute of it. I don't know what's beyond this stage. With all my other pseudo-relationships, the bang's been followed by a whimper. On my side or theirs. I literally can't imagine how this will end. Ending hardly seems an option, you know? I mean, think about it. Where else is he going to find a Guide? Where else am I going to find a Sentinel?

It's like we're ... mated.

Fated.

Elated.

Sated.

Ejaculated.

See, I never can leave that for very long.

Four hours. Four hours to kill. Four hours to the knock-down-drag-out fuck of my life.

I hope he'll keep talking to me through this. I'm not sure I can do it if he doesn't keep talking, telling me he's okay.

We're lucky we didn't get stopped for speeding. Neither of us wanted dinner. Our clothes are hanging off the railing and cluttering up the floor. His boots are right at the top of the stairs, waiting to kill one of us in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom. There's a little part of me left that wants to straighten up a little, but it's been beaten unconscious by all the other parts that are sick to death of waiting.

So far, so good. I spread him out on the bed, arms hanging off the sides, legs, too, just spread him wide. I tuck a pillow under his stomach, to give him something to rub against, and to get that butt of his up in the air. I like his ass. It's little and round and meaty. I like his back. I like his sturdy shoulders, and his neck and all that hair. I like the back view as much as the front and I tell him so. He laughs a little at that.

"Any suggestions?" I ask him. I get his advice on dumb stuff, I'm certainly going to get it about this.

"Slow is good," he mumbles.

"I'll try," is the best I can do with that one.

"Start with something small," he says, propping up on one elbow and twisting at an impossible angle so he can look at me. "That does not qualify," he says, pointing to my dick.

I hold up one finger. "Okay?" He nods and drops back down on his belly.

"Lube is our friend," he says.

"Got it."

All that sounds kind of ... clinical ... and the one thing I'm trying to do is get anything even vaguely scientific sounding out of our bed, so I just file those pieces of information away for future reference and work on getting him worked up.

It takes gratifyingly little. I appreciate that because even though my head understands that I'm pushing forty, my body's feeling about sixteen these days. If I have to spend more than about ten minutes making sure he's really ready for this, I think I'll have to just go on without him and meet him on the other side.

He's making it easy for me. He's saying all the words I'd have a hard time with. He's instructing me, in the sexiest, gentlest way, and believe it or not, I'm not even nervous. One finger with lube on it makes him catch his breath. He rolls on my finger and makes it go deeper. Two fingers and now he's making fists in the comforter, and his teeth are clenched, and we're not getting words anymore, just sounds. He's starting to sweat, right in the middle of his back, so I lean over and lick it up and he's starting to rock back. I hold my hand still and he pushes farther back on it, comes up on his knees a little and spreads his legs wider and thrusts back and forth.

Jesus Christ.

"A little deeper, man, just a little," he pants out, resting on his forearms now, his head down. What a beautiful man he is.

I turn my fingers in him, inside that tight wet heat and dig in a little deeper. I find what I'm looking for and brush across it. Yup, that was it. He howls at that, like a wolf, his head comes up and he howls. When I get my dick in there, I'm going to just tuck up against that and pound him.

I'm moving up behind him now, dragging on a condom with one hand because I can't stand to leave him. I don't know if you've ever tried to put a condom on with one hand, but it's not easy. Worth the trouble, though, not to have to move that hand. I grease it up good and then pull out my fingers.

Before he can even bitch about their leaving, I've got the head inside. It takes more work than the fingers, but he's doing good. He's taking it, a little at a time, stretching around me, breathing deep, rocking back and forth just a little bit. It feels better than I even imagined, being part of him. He's doing all the work, at his own pace. He makes this low moaning sound when we get deeper than my fingers could reach and we wait there awhile. He's trembling all over now, his legs and arms shaking a little.

"You doing okay?" I ask him, because I have to know. I have to hear him say it.

"Yeah, oh, yeah, I'm good. Oh, man, I'm good," he says in little bursts. "Come on, do it, do it, do it."

So I pull back from where I was and then push back in, even farther. I do it again. And again. A little harder this time, a little deeper. He makes this sound every time, this amazing sound that makes me thrust faster just to hear it again. I'm starting to understand what he means about getting lost because there's not much of me left, just the hard part that wants to go back inside the minute any of it withdraws. He's up on his hands and knees now and he grounds me. He's so strong those thrusts don't move him unless he wants to be moved. When he does move with me, it's like dancing, like dreaming. It's all about rhythm, his and mine, one rhythm. I push forward and he pushes back, over and over and now I'm in so far my balls are touching his ass every time. I dare to look down, to watch me go in him, but I shouldn't have done that. Shouldn't have looked. It's me inside* him. Holy Mary, Mother of God.

I lean over his back, change the angle, make it so I can't see myself going in anymore and that change of angle sends him flying. He's trying to toss me off him, he's gone and I manage to get one hand on his cock as he lets loose. He's convulsing on my hand, and on my dick in his ass, and he's groaning something crude and thrilling and all of it combines and then I'm coming too, hard spasms that make it so tight in there I think I'll never ever get out again.

Okay.

That would be okay.

I think I'll just move in Blair.

I know I've never been happier anywhere else.

Jim's feeling magnanimous in the afterglow.

Now he wants to hear the theory, the one that got me in so much trouble right about this time yesterday. Oh, what a difference a day makes. I'm not even sure it makes sense. What felt like a spark then might just have been a brainfart.

But he wants to hear it. And have you ever tried denying Jim Ellison something he wants? Didn't think so. Delaying is the best I can do. I make him get out of bed, hose down, put clothes on and eat something. Any activity to give me ten minutes to get my head together, to pull my brains up from my dick and out of my ass and put them back where they belong. Ten minutes to convince myself that what happened back there, I mean back then, was still just sex.

Because love scares the bejeezus out of me.

So here's the thing. Jim and I have been doing this Sentinel/Guide thing for two years now, right? At the beginning, just knowing he existed was a huge rush. Figuring out how to help him control his senses so they'd work with him instead of against him was like a full-time job there for awhile. One thing led to another, I moved in, he started being able to prevent zoneouts using some of the exercises I gave him, and it all started to seem sort of ... normal.

The guys at the station took me in stride after doing all the posturing, chest-pounding primal male crap they feel entitled, if not compelled to do. Even Simon managed to start calling me Blair, which still feels a little strange, to be quite honest, because after awhile, I'd started not just answering to Sandburg, but referring to myself that way. I've also been known to answer to "Hairboy," "Kiddo," and "Hey, you."

Naomi would spit up a brick.

"Your name is a sacred gift," she'd say. "Treat it with respect and others will respect you." Whatever, Mom. Go commune with a plant somewhere. Get out of my head. My head's full enough.

So, anyway. Life has been starting to feel ... normal. A fairly rare thing in the life of Blair Sandburg. Routine isn't a word I've been terribly comfortable with. Even academic life changes every sixteen weeks. As freaky, dangerous, sleep-depriving and sometimes death-defying as these two years with Jim have been, they're still about the most normal of my life. Isn't that weird? Food appears regularly on the table. Ballgames are watched in their entirety. Flashlights always have batteries and my car always has gas. These have become essential things, part of my life. Part of my life? This is my life.

I think what happened is we got a little stale. The zing of the Sentinel thing faded a little. If it hadn't been for the all-consuming lust factor, I have to be honest and admit there's a chance I'd have bailed once the dissertation was done. I'm not proud of that, but sticking around's not one of my strong suits. The research has been done for a while now, the outline's sitting on my laptop, ready to be filled in. But I've been stalling. A little worried, maybe, that once it was done, I wouldn't have to bail because he'd cut me loose. "Thanks, buddy, I owe you." I can hear it now.

But the lust factor never faded. Never got stale. So we have an almost- finished thesis, a Sentinel capable of guiding himself, and some major chemistry in the physical department.

A shift of some kind seems almost inevitable.

Here's what I think happened: I think the physical thing kicked in to spice things up, keep things fresh, basically, to keep us together. Something deeper than just territorial imperative. I think it's a biological reaction, a predestined formula designed to meld Sentinel and Guide together. Forever. Forever. See how easily I said that? I barely shuddered.

Okay, so it's not exactly what I'd call scientific. It couldn't possibly be replicated, there are no concrete parameters and as far as I know, no historical data to support it. Just a feeling. Gut-level. Gut-level science. Yeah, that'd go over real well with my diss committee. Still, it's the best I can come up with. There's an explanation somewhere, right?

Okay. Rehearsal's over. Time to try it out on him.

Where does he come up with these things?

Does he sit around at night after I'm asleep and hatch these wacko theories? He's been watching too much Discovery Channel. I'd started to get comfortable with the idea of territorial imperative. That makes sense to me. It's a little primitive, and a little canine for me, but on the whole, the reasoning is pretty sound. But to go from that to the idea that we're doing this because we're bored?

I don't see it, Chief. I just don't see it.

Why couldn't I be living a normal life? Why couldn't I just meet a nice girl, get married, settle down. Oh yeah, I tried that once already. The only place it got me was to divorce court.

So it's just me now, me and five enhanced senses and a horny anthropologist I can't live without who's trying to take something bigger than both of us and put it in a nice neat little box. Well, it's not going to work. This life is the sloppiest thing I've seen since the last time I looked in his room. Whatever this is that we have between us, whatever caused it, whatever's keeping it going, is probably not something we'll ever be able to explain.

If I can go with the flow, which anyone will tell you isn't my usual bent, why can't he?

Close the books, kiddo, and just let it be.

"How can you be so sure this isn't just a combination of the whole Sentinel- Guide dynamic, power sex and like, really good friendship? Is there really a need to bring the L-word in to all this?"

This conversation's a sucky way to start the day. And it's Saturday, which means if I don't distract him now, we could be hashing this over all day, and I've got better stuff to do. Like get him back under the covers and lick him all over. Instead, we're standing downstairs, yapping.

He's coming toward me now, all intent and coppish. "Well, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck ..." he tells me.

"And fucks like a duck," I add, understanding there's a possibility I might be taking my life in my hands.

That makes him pause, for like half a second. Then he's crowding me back against the wall, both hands beside my head, leaning in. "You saying I fuck like a duck?" Ooh, he's going the quiet route, the Clint Eastwood route, the talk-softly-big-stick route.

I love it when he's like this, all mock macho in-your-face alpha-male threatening. It's such a facade. I mean, yeah, if you're a crook, or a bigot, or just criminally stupid, there's a chance he'll deposit his size twelves on your face, but this is all an act. He's playing with me, teasing me, there's a goddamn twinkle in his eye. And it's turning me on like a night light in a pitch black room.

"Hmmm?" he's saying now. We're humming, I mean the air's humming, what air there is between us, which isn't much. Kind of thought-robbing, that hum.

"No, no, no, man, although you know ducks are the only birds with penises and they're bright orange, the penises I mean, and proportionally pretty impressive, and they hold their mates down with their wings, and it's all intense and wild and takes some serious duck strength, so it's not like that would be a totally bad thing. I think it'd be pretty cool. You know, to fuck like a duck -"

"Sandburg, shut up." This is punctuated by a hand slapping beside my head on the wall, which makes my dick just leap to attention.

"How do you do this? How do you get so far off the subject, so fast?" He sounds genuinely mystified.

"It's a gift?" I offer that, knowing what it will do to him. Yup. It worked, like a charm. He's got me over his shoulder in one of those fireman carries, not a thing romantic about it, just a way to get me up the stairs without getting any flak about it.

"Your turn," he says, tossing me on the bed.

"What?"

"You want to fuck like a duck, fuck me."

Well. Well, shit. This wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

"I can't, man."

"Sure, you can."

He's always so dang sure of things. He loves me. He's sure of it. He told me so this morning, in what I like to think of as the heat of passion.

I dismissed it.

He told me again over breakfast. Right there over the Rice Krispies and calcium-enriched OJ.

I pretended not to hear it over all that snap, crackle and pop.

So then he tried something else. Told me I loved him. Just came right out and told me that, like he knows better than me how I feel. I tried to explain all the reasons why this isn't really about that, but he's just a steam-roller, and once it's in his head it takes more will and brainpower than I've got to talk him out of it. Which led us to duck-fucking. Which brought me here, where I want to be, but on the wrong end of the stick, if you know what I mean.

"Come on, Chief, it's not like you've never done it before."

"Well, yeah, it's exactly like that. I haven't. Not back there, anyway. Not to a woman, and for sure not to a man."

See, I knew I should have told him that back then. Maybe we could have avoided this little brewing confrontation.

"You haven't?" That piques his interest. Oh no, he's got the introspective look. I hate that look. Let's go back to the alpha-male threatening look, what do you say? That I can deal with.

"No. Can I get up now?"

"Hang on a minute, Chief." He's holding me down, one big hand on my thigh. "What about the slow is good, start with something small, all that?"

It's interesting, with Jim, how concrete he is. He hones in on something specific to nail you with. "Well, I read, man. And I've got gay friends. I hear stuff. Don't you hear stuff?"

"Not at the station, no. I suppose there was talk while I was in Vice, but it didn't stick."

Of course not. Until two weeks ago, what possible reason would there have been for Jim to listen to ways to make it easier to stick his dick in some guy's ass?

At least we're off the L-word, for the moment.

Don't think I don't notice that he's changed the subject. But Blair's bolt-o- meter is registering pretty high this morning, and I find it really, really interesting that he's apparently nowhere near as experienced as I've been giving him credit for being. So I'll let it slide, for now. We've got lots of time ahead of us to deal with the L-word, as he calls it.

The L-word. This from a man who taught an ex-Ranger new swear words.

"Why didn't you just tell me that?"

"I didn't want to disappoint you. HA. That's a laugh, isn't it? Disappointed you anyway." He's up and pacing now. It soothes him, I guess. I prop my back on the pillows and watch him map out the perimeter of the loft.

"You didn't disappoint me, Blair." Despite my best intentions, I still don't call him by his real name often enough. I'm trying, though.

"Disappointed myself," he mutters, and ordinary people wouldn't hear it, but I do, and things start to make a little more sense to me.

Mr. Confident is used to having things come to him easily. I know school's not a challenge. He's squirmed his way into the police department like Sipowicz's thinner, hairier brother. He sees a woman he likes and has a date an hour later. That's how he works. He's good at stuff.

Except for this one thing, which freaked him out. Not that he wasn't good at it. He was. I'll be lucky to survive it if he ever gets the hang of it and really bangs me. I give him bonus points for trying it that one time, knowing now how he feels about it, knowing it was all new for both of us and he was doing his best to be reassuring. And then after all that, it surprised him. The intensity of it. Just how much more connecting went on than two body parts. It surprised me, too, but I've been married, I've done that two-into- one thing. If he thinks the physical part is hard, he should try joint checking accounts.

What I'm not exactly clear on is why it's easy for him to let me do that to him, but not the other way around.

"Blair? Could you stand still for a minute?"

He manages to plant both feet and look at me, but he's still swaying from side to side. A little in-place pacing.

"First of all, you never have to do anything you don't want to. Well, I might ask you to do the dishes now and then," I say, and it sounds stupid and forced to me, but he smiles anyway. It's a little shaky, but better than nothing.

"I just want to understand, that's all. You don't get that same, what did you call it, lost feeling when I do it to you?"

"Not at all." Well, that was prompt. No hesitation at all. Okay.

"Can you tell me why?"

I'm not sure why I've decided this is the day for this discussion. I guess maybe I'm hoping if we talk about this snag, it might throw some light on some other shady areas.

He's suddenly really uncomfortable. I hate that. I get up, ready to call it off, ready to hug him, but he puts a hand up. That hand, that "Stop right there, Jim" hand that tells me he's getting ready to fight for something.

Put up your dukes, kid. I'm ready.

Could I be any more frazzled?

It's time, though. Time to either figure it out or get beyond it. I never was much for ignoring things. So I suck it up and try. He's not going to like it. I don't like it much myself. I don't like myself for thinking it.

Here goes nothing.

"Okay, it's like this. When you're doing it to me, I just have to be there, you know, a receptacle. Absorbing. All I have to worry about is me. The other way, it's just too much ... responsibility."

Oh, that's good, Blair. What are you, sixteen without a condom? Responsibility. But I can't help it. That's how it felt. Like I had the weight of me, and him, and everything we had in front of us on my shoulders. Yeah, I know. Therapy time.

He's thinking that over, looking for a way to fix it. He does that, fixes things. Well, it's worth a shot. If anyone can do it, Jim can.

"But it's all different now. I know what I'm doing. And you'd know what it's like to be me. It's not a mystery anymore."

He has a point. The so-new-it-squeaks aspect is history. He's been fucking my brains out for a solid week now. I'm walking a little bow-legged, but the guys at the station just think it's my usual swagger. They want to know who the girl is. Ironic, don't you think?

All right, so I'll give him that point. We're both a lot more comfortable with it. I wouldn't have to worry about him.

Just myself.

"You know, Chief, it's not like you're there by yourself. I'm with you, all the way. If you start feeling ... lost ... just yell or something. I'll come and get you. Don't I always?"

Yeah, big guy. You always come for me. You get beat up in the process a lot, tossed off trains, dropped through ceilings, stuff like that, but you always get your man. It's those instincts coming into play again. I'm nodding before I know it. My body's always been way ahead of my brain. I've got a prick on red alert and my palms are sweaty.

"Well okay then," he says, real quiet. He goes back to the bed. "Why don't you come over here?"

Thud. That was my heart taking a little break from beating. I'm about to hyperventilate so I talk myself down, just like I'm zoning, which isn't that far from the truth, because suddenly all I can see is Jim. This big strong guy who bends over backward for me. No, that wasn't a double entendre. I'm serious. He puts up with truckloads of shit from me. Truckloads.

And he's still sitting there, patient and calm and ... loving.

I don't have any other word for it.

All those words that live in my head, and that's the only one that fits.

It worked. It really worked. Like he had truth serum for breakfast, he finally talked it all out. And it actually made sense, which he doesn't always manage. He's switching gears while I watch. I can see his eyes start lighting up, hear his heart start pounding, see his erection laying hard on his stomach under his jeans. He's breathing hard, and he's slowly turning pink, all the parts I can see.

In one quick sweep, he's tugging off his t-shirt. He's pink all over his torso. His nipples are hard. He lifts his chin at me and I pull off my shirt too. He holds my eyes while he unbuttons his jeans and unzips them. I match him, tugging off my sweats while he shimmies out of his jeans. I didn't even know guys could shimmy. If he moves like that while he's inside me, I'm a goner.

He's still just standing there in front of me, hard and having trouble breathing. I don't want him to have time to think about it, so I'm already leaning into the drawer for the stuff he'll need.

We'll need.

We are going to do this.

Together.

This is much better.

I don't know if it's the week of knowing exactly what he'll be feeling, or the week of listening to how much he likes it while he's doing it, or what, but it's nowhere near as difficult as I expected. Well, physically it's as axis-tilting as I remember, as tight, but I'm not getting overwhelmed. Not yet, anyway. Let me get these last three inches in and I'll get back to you.

Okay, okay, it's in, I'm in. We're in. We're good. We're both still breathing. I'm a little shaky, but he's rock solid under me. That's my Jim. My god is a rock on a sandy shore. Where did I read that? His ass is tickling my balls. Whoa. Synapses are misfiring all over the place. I'm sure I'm killing brain cells because nothing can feel this good, this long, without damaging something. It's unreal. I'm gonna stretch a little more now. Ohhh, fuck. That's good. That's so good.

He's making the ultimate sacrifice and talking to me, a rumbling, tumbling muted roar of encouragement and empathy and enjoyment. Sounds like a Blair speech. I'm rubbing off on him.

Literally.

He tells me when it's time to push him a little, he tells me when to stop, when to move a little, and where. I don't have time to fret about issues like identity and all that crap. He's talking dirty to me and it's taking all the concentration I've got not to just explode right now.

We find his prostate on about thrust number twenty and then I stop counting thrusts. I'm holding on for dear life, and I can't believe I was worried about feeling responsible because at this point, I'm just along for the ride. I grab his hips at some point and make him find the rhythm I want, just to see if I can do it. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. He did it. We're doing it. Slipping and sliding and grinding and groaning.

He'll be lucky if I ever let him top again.

This top don't want to stop.

Fuck getting lost, man, I am found.

We're sweaty. And sticky. There's a used condom on the floor. And another hanging half out of the waste basket. Twice the little guy took me. Slow and sweet the first time. Hard and fast the second time. I didn't even try to show up for the second one -- I need more than five minutes recovery time, unlike Blair, who never really did soften up in between.

I kind of liked that, though, just feeling him without being distracted. I'm glad he did it, glad he felt safe enough. It feels like a big step in the right direction.

He's fast asleep. He tossed off the condom, climbed right back on top of me and passed out. Wore him out, that second time, I guess. I like his dead weight on me. Like the broad daylight, the smells in the room, the way he's got his hand tucked under my shoulder.

He's such an open guy. So interested in new things, so intrigued by puzzles and mysteries. Give him enough time, and enough security, and maybe he'll get interested in looking into the mysteries of the human heart. His heart. All the pieces are there. He's just having trouble with the idea of putting it all together and calling it love.

That's okay.

A duck's still a duck, no matter what you call it, right?

The End.