Disclaimer: We don't own any of these guys, they are the brainchild and property of: Rysher,
Panzer/Davis, Greg Widen, Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, Paramount, Pet Fly Productions, UPN
and a bunch of other people. No money made, no harm intended. It's all in good fun, don't take
us too seriously.

Attention: This is an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. Expect things to be wacky.

That said, this story takes place in it's own time period. Zen&nancy no longer feel the need to
comply to TPTB's time lines.

Story title and lyrics borrowed without permission from Bob Marley (r.i.p.)

Mucho thanks to Suze for always being there, and to MoonPuppy, who is crazy enough to be
resident beta at the House Of Slack, and the wonderful people who have written us, we're still in
shock that people like this soap opera.

Vive la RSM!

Three Little Birds

Part 28

By Zen&nancy

Duncan woke up five minutes before the alarm clock was set to go off. He spit the curl out of his mouth, reaching over his lover's body to slide the button on the clock to the off position. Blair moved with him, still sound asleep, and Duncan's first thought was to marvel at his lover's heat seeking ability.

It was cold in the loft this morning. Duncan thought of the three frozen miles of park path ahead of him, and almost let a sound asleep Blair pull him back down to his pillow. He kissed his forehead instead, tucking the blankets around the curled form when he sat up, brushing the long strands of his own hair back from his face. Blair flung an arm out, making a grab for his pillow, and dragged it to his chest. Duncan sighed, and made himself leave their bed for the icy bathroom.

Brushing his teeth, he realized that on mornings like these, knowing that downstairs Jim was waking up and facing the cold too was the only thing that got him out of bed. Before he'd had Jim for a running partner, he hadn't been nearly as disciplined about it.

Standing under the hot shower spray, his body remembered the night before, and a wide grin spread across his face. Blair gave him so much, he made Duncan happier than he'd ever imagined he'd be again. Perhaps because it was almost his birthday, Duncan found himself taking a moment to think about how full his life really was at the present, all the people he had to be grateful for. He had a brilliant, beautiful lover, that made his life feel like a gift again, instead of a burden. In Jim, he had a friendship that he never would have imagined, which was becoming more valuable to him every day. Blair hadn't spoke anything less than the truth two months ago, when he'd told Duncan that he and Jim had a great deal in common. Jim was a good man, with a strong moral character, that he felt lucky to have as a friend. Methos was home for Christmas, and soon Richie and Amanda would be too.

The water whistled in the pipes, letting him know that Jim was awake and in the bathroom. Duncan pulled himself out of his reverie, hurrying through the rest of his shower and shave. When he opened the bathroom door, a towel wrapped around his waist, he was confronted with a blast of icy cold air, and went directly to his dresser to find his warmest sweat suit. The windows of the loft were frosted over, so he couldn't see the street, but he had no doubt that it was a bitter morning, and that there would be snow on the ground. The cold had too much damp in it for it not to have snowed during the night.

Duncan stopped at the foot of the bed to look at Blair curled around his pillow for another minute. Only the tip of Blair's nose and the hand that curled around the edge of the blankets were visible, everything else was burrowed underneath the thick down comforter. He would wake up cold, Duncan was sure. He thought again about whether or not it would be crazy to try to add a fireplace to his living space. Maybe he would look into it after all, after the holidays were over.

Jim was locking his door when Duncan reached the bottom step of the second flight down. Duncan waited for him at the landing, returning the smile Jim flashed him as he came down the hallway.

"Morning. It's gonna be bitter out there." Jim looked perversely happy about the harsh weather.

"Yeah, it sure is." Duncan grinned back, suddenly ready for the challenge. It made a world of difference, having a partner to egg him on and bring out his competitive spirit. "So we run faster, to stay warmer, right?"

Jim laughed, following him down the last flight of steps and down the hallway. "Sounds like a good theory to me Mac."

"Can we take the truck today? I'm not sure the T-Bird is going to want to start," Duncan asked, unbolting the door to the street. A blast of wet, icy air greeted them, and both men shuddered.

"Sure. The streets are too icy to be driving that baby anyway. You should store it in the winter and get something more practical."

"Yeah, I guess I should. I like your truck." Duncan set a brisk pace to the side of the building where Jim parked, rubbing his arms with his gloved hands. "You are aware of the fact that it's probably less than twenty degree's out here, right?"

"Yep, and we're crazy, but I'm not letting you go back to bed."

"Okay, sergeant, let's go."

Jim laughed, unlocking the passenger door for him. "That's lieutenant, buddy. Get in the truck and quit whining. You're not the only one freezing your balls off here. Once we get moving it won't be so bad."

Duncan and Jim ran side by side, sharing the narrow path. They had the park to themselves this morning, none of the other early morning joggers had braved the bitter air. The silence had a crystal quality to it, and the branches of the trees and bushes were all covered in a thin layer of ice. Their running shoes made a crunching sound on the path, and their breath floated in twin puffs before them as they ran.

When they'd passed their mile mark for the third time, Duncan dropped to a walk a few paces ahead, stopping to wait for Jim to fall into stride beside him.

"That was good," Jim huffed, sucking in deep lungfuls of the cold air.

"Uh-huh. Very. We should start timing these..." Duncan paused to breath, "That was pretty fast."

Jim nodded, laughing a little as he panted. "See, you were right, the colder it is, the faster you can run."

Duncan's teeth chattered when he answered, "This is an army thing, right? Total defiance of the elements?"

Jim shook his head, grinning back. It felt great to be out in the bitter cold silence, his heart pounding from exertion and his body warmed from the run. "Nope. I know what your problem is Mac, you don't have a hat. How do you expect to stay warm when your head's uncovered? Just because you're Immortal doesn't mean you can't get cold, right?" Jim was wearing a wool ski hat, bought for it's ability to insulate rather than it's fashion statement.

Duncan shrugged, shivering, and picking up the pace a little. They would walk the mile long circle around the park one more time before heading back to the parking lot, and he wanted to get it over with as fast as possible. "I guess I should have thought of a hat. I really haven't needed one yet this winter. My hair keeps me pretty warm, and I usually sweat with a hat on, even when it's snowing. This is really bitter, though. What do you think the temperature is?"

"Mm, my guess is no more than fifteen degrees, maybe more like ten or twelve. It's pretty damn cold."

By the time they made it back to the truck, Duncan was shivering violently, sweat sliding down his back in cold trickles, leaving goose bumps. He eyed Jim's fleece sweat suit appraisingly, asking, "Aren't you freezing?"

"Not too bad, now that my blood's pumping. I have long underwear on under this though, and a hat."

Jim unlocked Duncan's door, leaning in to pop the bench seat back. Pulling out a fleece blanket he kept for emergencies, he handed it to Duncan before going around to the driver's side. "Here, wrap yourself up. It's not good to shiver like that after you work out, you're gonna strain your muscles."

Duncan laughed, thinking that if he did, they would heal almost immediately, but he took the blanket with gratitude.

"Thanks. You're the best." Duncan gave Jim a bright smile, wrapping the warm blanket around his shoulders before he hopped in.

Jim started the truck, which turned over on the first try. "We should probably let it warm up again, the engine's cold."

Duncan nodded, getting comfortable under his blanket. It was nice when Jim drove in the morning, and he didn't have to worry about it. "Sure, no problem."

Jim stared out the window for a moment, wondering how to phrase his question. He turned back to Duncan abruptly, asking, "Mac... Do you mind if I ask you about this Immortality thing? I've been thinking about it a lot, I can't seem to get the idea out of my head."

Duncan shook his head. "No, go ahead. What sort of thing do you want to know?"

"Well, I guess what I'm trying to figure out, is how you see yourself. I mean, do you think of yourself as human, or something else? You're four hundred years old... does it make you feel more like a god than a person?"

Duncan smiled thoughtfully, thinking about how much it told him about a person, the way they reacted to his Immortality. He was touched by Jim's question, it made him smile to think of Jim seeing him as some kind of superman. He thought carefully before he answered, trying to decide which issue to address first.

"Immortality is a gift, but I don't think it makes you more than human, not in the way you're talking about. I've tried very hard to hang on to my humanity, it's important to me. When an Immortal loses their respect for mankind, it usually destroys them in the end. We're not gods, we have just as many flaws and shortcomings as mortals do. I've seen men who thought they were gods, and it sickened me. I've also seen how devastating it can be when one of us feels separated, set apart from humanity. Detaching yourself from the mortal word that way can drive you mad."

Jim nodded in understanding, thinking about what his friend had said. It made him feel better, to know that Duncan thought of his Immortal life that way.

"How do manage to do that, stay connected with the present, when you have so much past behind you? I keep thinking about what the world was like when you were born, and how much has changed since then. How do you do it?"

Duncan answered without hesitation. "Friends. I don't think I could, if I didn't have people close to me who are mortal, who's time is now. Blair does that, you do, too. Caring about people who live in the present keeps you motivated to keep up with the times, to change. Immortals who can't change lead very lonely lives. I don't ever want to be that far behind the times, that I can't relate to what's going on around me."

Jim put the truck into gear, cranking up the heat. Duncan's answer surprised him a bit. He hadn't thought about it that way.

"That's good. Seems like it might be a challenge sometimes, keeping up with it all."

"It is, but it's worth it. You've been thinking about this quite a bit. Does it bother you?" Duncan asked quietly, smiling at Jim when he turned to look over at him.

"Well, no, it's not that the idea of your Immortality upsets me, I'm just trying to get a handle on it, you know?" He laughed suddenly, shaking his head. "I just thought about how Blair must have reacted, when you told him. I bet he had a thousand questions."

Duncan grinned back, nodding. "Yeah, he did, but I sort of distracted him..." His smiled softened, remembering. "It was the first night we made love."

Jim swallowed hard, determined not to let himself get embarrassed, or jealous, either. He was never going to get a better opportunity. "Can I ask you some things?" He frowned, trying to find words that didn't want to come. "I... There's so much that I'm just really confused about, with him... Maybe I'm crossing the line here, getting so personal..." he stalled, trying to back himself out of the questions he'd started to ask. Images of what he'd overheard last night crowded his head, and he felt his face getting hot.

"Hey, you can ask me whatever you want to, we're friends. You're not going to embarrass me. At least, I don't think you are. It's worth a shot, though." Duncan teased, chuckling. "You're already bright red, so you might as well just plow through. What do you want to know?"

Jim laughed self consciously, shaking his head. "Well... When did you figure out that you were attracted to men?" He blurted out the question, keeping his eyes focussed intently on the stoplight they were sitting at.

"About two hundred years ago." Duncan grinned at him, a little surprised, but not unhappy, that the question was about him personally. It was rare that Jim inspired feelings of protectiveness in him, but this new, uncertain version of Jim Ellison had an endearing quality, innocence, and a bashful curiosity he couldn't help but respond to. "I fell into bed drunk with my dearest friend, and he wanted to fool around. I thought he was teasing, just being silly. By the time I figured out he was serious I was enjoying myself too much to stop. He was my best friend for a long time, one of the longest. His name was Fitz."

"He was like you? Immortal?" Jim clarified, trying to keep his voice from cracking.

"Yes. Our friendship spanned over two hundred years. Hugh Fitzcarn was a very good friend, he saved my life more than once."

"Somebody took him? He lost the Game?" There was sympathy in Jim's voice, as he maneuvered the truck through the icy intersection.

"A man I wasted my time hating for years. I killed him, after he took Fitz from me, and saved someone else's life in the process. He was trying to teach me something, but I missed it that time."

"Adam?" Jim guessed, wondering if he was being too nosy.

"Yeah." The abrupt tone of Duncan's reply gave him his answer, and Jim returned to his original question instead.

"So, when you did, the first time..." He stopped, lost for words. He didn't even know the words for what he wanted to ask.

"What? It's okay, just ask me." Duncan encouraged, reaching across to squeeze Jim's shoulder briefly in encouragement.

Jim took a deep, noisy breath, laughing a little at his own ignorance when he exhaled. "That's my problem, Mac. I don't even know enough to know how to ask it."

Duncan nodded, and thought about it for a moment. "Let me try. You want to know if I took the submissive role, that first time?"

Jim felt his face darken, and nodded, still not able to look at Duncan.

"It was pretty mutual, and there wasn't any penetration, we were too drunk to do much, really, but I remember it being... very sweet. I do though, if that's what you're wondering. With Blair." Duncan clarified, feeling a little strange talking about it, but determined to make this conversation happen. If they didn't get it out in the open soon, Jim was going to die of curiosity, he was sure.

"And that doesn't... Bother you?" Jim finished lamely, his eyes darting quickly across the space between them, begging for help.

"It doesn't make me feel any less masculine, if that's what you mean, but that's because I like being on the bottom sometimes. Really, it's not that much different from being in bed with a woman, and letting her take control of what you're doing, be on top, whatever. Well, yes, I guess it is, in some ways... But it's not like you think, it doesn't change who you are on the inside. Does that make sense?"

Duncan looked at Jim, trying to decide if he was giving his friend the information he needed. It wasn't easy, neither of them were much good at this personal discussion thing. Duncan had the thought that Blair would be a much better person to answer these questions, and then, just as quickly, he thought of why he might not be...

"How's that possible?" Jim asked quickly, determined to get the question he'd been wanting to ask so badly out, before he lost his nerve. "It doesn't make you feel like a woman, to let him do that to you..."

Duncan sucked in a slow breath, feeling a smile and a little heat spread across his own features. "Jim, have you been listening?" He asked very carefully, watching Jim's face closely when he spoke.

Jim swerved the truck to the side of the road, pulling into a parking space he'd spotted at the last minute. Driving and having this conversation had just become impossible. He tried to make himself look Duncan in the eyes, and found he absolutely couldn't. His gaze moved across the dashboard instead, as he mumbled. "I didn't mean to... I mean, I try really hard not to... But sometimes it's just not possible. It's like my ears just tune into his heartbeat... when he gets worked up... I'm feeling like a total jerk for it."

Duncan digested Jim's words carefully, doing his best to keep a firm hold on his temper, and his emotions all together. It wasn't easy. "You're saying it's this Sentinel/Guide connection, you don't have any control over it? You just hear him?"

"No, not exactly... Sort of." Jim took a frustrated breath, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mac, I just don't know how to explain it, and you definitely deserve an explanation. I hear his heartbeat all the time, but most of the time I'm just sort of tuning it out, keeping it on monitor, so to speak. When it spikes, it's like it sets off a trigger, and my ears go looking till I find him."

"Okay, I think I understand. What about after that?"

Jim's eyes dropped to his feet, and he shook his head. "After that I should be able to just turn it right back down again, and not listen, but..."

"You're confused, and curious, and sometimes you don't, when you know you should?" Duncan offered, asking himself why he was trying to let Jim off the hook even as he did it.

Jim's head came up sharply and his eyes met Duncan's. "Aren't you angry?" He heard himself ask, in a complete state of shock.

"Um, I don't know... Let me think about it for a minute." Duncan gave Jim a strange little smile and turned to stare out the window. Jim twisted his hands on the steering wheel, feeling very sorry that he'd brought the subject of sex up at all.

"I'm assuming you can hear me, too?"

Jim couldn't answer, he dropped his head down onto his forearms on the steering wheel, groaning. "Mac, I really don't think I can handle any more of this. Maybe we could just give it up and go back to the dojo and you could beat the shit out of me and then we could just forget all about it? What do you think?"

Duncan threw back his head and laughed until tears leaked from the corners of his eyes. Finally, he passed a hand over his face, and thumped Jim on the back, hard. "You're gonna live, Jim, I promise. Come on, we can do this, we don't need to drag Blair into the middle to have a serious conversation."

Duncan realized what he'd said, froze for a second, and then began to laugh twice as hard. After a beat, Jim joined him, shaking his head in despair. "I don't know, Mac," he choked out. "Any more of this in touch with my emotions shit and I'm gonna die, I can't handle it."

Suddenly, Duncan had an idea. "I'll tell you what, we'll go back to the dojo, and have a really good spar, just hands, no weapons, and neither of us will try to kill each other. Then we'll sit down and try to talk about this again, with beer, without Blair. And if that doesn't work..."


Jim nodded enthusiastically, and put the truck back into gear, watching the traffic in his side mirror for a chance to pull back out onto the street.

When they got back to the dojo, Jim followed Duncan inside the double doors, kicking off his shoes and removing his sweatshirt when Duncan did. They turned to face each other, each automatically sizing up his opponent.

"Any rules?" Jim asked, falling naturally into a slight crouch, more than ready to work off some excess tension.

"Not unless you can think of any. I don't care if you don't pull your punches."

"Hey this was your idea to begin with. I don't want to beat you senseless, I just wanna work off some steam."

Duncan stepped back to warm up, throwing Jim a cocky smile. "Okay, then, we won't worry about being nice, and we'll see how it goes."

Jim nodded, and his body fell back a little, tightening like a spring. "Let's go."

Duncan made the first move, a strike aimed at Jim's abdomen, blocked by a hard forearm. When they had traded a series of blows with each strike effectively blocked, they grinned at each other, and got a little more serious. Jim's first kick caught Duncan by surprise, high on his chest, and he staggered back but recovered. The second he was waiting for, and Jim had to alter his trajectory in mid kick to keep from being caught and thrown to the ground.

They sparred freely for the next fifteen minutes, their moves an equal mix of eastern and western hand to hand combat techniques. The only sound in the huge room was their heavy breathing and the impact of flesh on flesh. By the time they fell into a free flowing rhythm of blows and blocks and counter blows both men showed signs of heavy physical exertion. Their bodies danced smoothly in a circular pattern, while their eyes remained locked together.

When Duncan fell back a step out of reach from a punch that connected harder than Jim had intended, he relaxed for a critical second, giving Mac a moment to get his wind back. It was a lesson he'd only have to learn once, Jim decided, as his feet were swept out from under him by a low, spinning kick. Duncan caught him with a crooked arm behind his neck halfway to the floor and went down with him, flipping Jim neatly underneath him as he did so. His arm prevented the back of Jim's head from hitting the floor, but he took most of Duncan's weight on impact, his arms caught beneath him.

Good move, Jim thought, trying to memorize it for the next time. Duncan was sprawled on top of him, one arm behind his head and the other held at the base of his neck, in a non threatening, but entirely lethal position. Duncan grinned at him, and Jim sucked in air, in spite of the weight on his chest, expanding his lungs and tightening muscles to prepare to throw him off.

"Fancy move, I like that." Jim told him, getting his breath back.

Duncan felt the power of the massive body beneath him, as abdominal muscles rippled and thighs turned to steel. His brain told him to get up, to roll back to his feet now, but he was distracted, very distracted. It sent a rush of pure adrenaline through him to hold down all that strength, to feel it ripple and coil beneath him. They were both drenched in sweat, skin sliding against skin everywhere they touched.

Jim arched and exploded into motion underneath him, his powerful legs coming up to separate their bodies and sending Duncan several feet into the air, although he managed to land on his feet.

Jim grinned at him, and shook his head hard, shaking off the impact of Duncan's weight. "Go again?"

"Yeah." Duncan responded, but he wasn't ready. He was caught in blue eyes so clear that for a moment they didn't seem to be any color at all. Totally focused, on him, intent and tracking his slightest move. Drawn into the power there, he froze, and when Jim threw the first punch, he ducked too late, and caught the hard right hook in the bridge of his nose. His head snapped back, and then he fell, his body curling bonelessly to the floor by years of training and instinct alone.

"Shit!" Jim fell to his knees next to Duncan's curled form, fighting off a wave of sickness as the sounds of cartilage crushing and shifting registered in his brain. "Oh God, Duncan, I'm sorry..."

Duncan moaned in pain, curling up tighter, his hands over his nose, which was now an inch to the right on his face and spurting blood freely. "Wait," he groaned, fingers feeling for the sides of of his broken nose. Jim's hands grasped his biceps to steady him, holding on tight, and Duncan pushed hard, setting the cartilage back into place with another stomach turning crunch.

Jim leaned over him, pulling Duncan's head into his chest. Fear, remorse and protectiveness churned inside him, as Duncan moaned in agony. "I'm so sorry, Mac. I swear, I thought you were ready to start again, I didn't realize, I'm so sorry..." Jim babbled, and after a moment Duncan moved, pushing himself back from the heaving chest. " 'S okay. Wait, it's healing." Jim looked closely, and frozen in astonishment. It was like watching time lapse photography, watching skin knit itself back together, the blue lines of energy sparking over Duncan's bloody face.

"Jesus that's weird! Are you okay?"

"No, but I will be in a minute." Duncan's voice sounded nasal and full of pain.

"Oh God Mac, I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to, I swear. I wasn't even aiming for your face."

"I know. I was slow, I got distracted. My fault. Don't worry about it, okay?" Jim looked like he was going to worry about it a lot.

"Jesus! I broke your nose and you're telling me it's no big deal?" Jim held his own nose as he spoke, as if he could feel Duncan's pain. He shuddered as the cartilage fused back together. "I can hear it, it's gotta be killing you." Jim grimaced as he watched Duncan's nose heal.

Duncan sat up on the floor, still holding his face, and watching Jim. "Are you okay?" He asked, worried about the way Jim's eyes were fixed on his, he looked like he was about to zone out. "Jim? Sit down."  He reached for Jim's arm, pulling him back down when he started to get up.

"Yeah, it's the sound of the cartilage growing back together. Really weird, I've never heard anything like it."

"I never would have thought of it." Duncan's voice sounded normal when he spoke. His brain ran with the thought... Sentinels and Immortals, and he decided with a cold shiver down his spine that Jim must never be around when he took a Quickening. "You're not going to zone on me, are you?"

Jim laughed shortly, shaking his head. "No, of course not. Are you really okay?"

"I'll be fine. I'm sorry I gave you such a poor spar, I was sloppy. We don't have to stop, if you don't want to."

"I don't know about you, Mac, but I don't feel like fighting anymore."

Jim looked exhausted. Duncan decided that getting Sentinel back to Guide was the best remedy, and got to his feet, offering Jim a hand. "Let's go up then, you can make us breakfast in the loft, as penance." He smiled, pulling the larger man to his feet when Jim gave him his hand.

"Not looking like this, we'll give Blair a heart attack. Let's clean up first." Jim led the way to the locker room, holding the door for Duncan. He had Duncan's blood on his hand, and his chest, too, but Duncan's face looked like an extra from a horror movie.

"Is it that bad?" Duncan asked, letting Jim lead him over to the sinks. He looked up to see his reflection in the mirror and laughed. "Oh Lord, that does look awful."

Jim reached for a towel from the stack next to the sinks. He wet its corner with warm water. Taking Duncan's face in his free hand, Jim began gently wiping the blood away from Mac's face. Duncan opened his mouth to object, but then thought twice about it. He was perfectly capable of cleaning himself up, but Jim seemed to need to do this for him. Besides, it felt oddly good to have someone being so protective of him. He found this part of Jim's character endearing, even if it wasn't necessary.

Jim's nose was filled with the metallic smell of Duncan's blood, and their sweat that hung in the air. Once he had most of the blood off Duncan's face, he turned back to the sink to wash the blood off his hands and forearms. He wet down another towel and cleaned the blood from his chest. Duncan did the same, splashing water on his face when he was done.

"Well, you look cleaned up, how do I look?" Duncan asked Jim, not finding any remains of blood on the other man.

"Look clean to me." Jim grinned conspiratorially, "Bet he'd never know, if we don't tell."

Duncan laughed, and shook his head, "I'm not going to rat you out. I won't say a word."

Jim clapped him on the shoulder, shaking his head. "You're a pal, Mac. A good egg."

The sounds of male voices and the smell of coffee penetrated Blair's consciousness, and he rolled over under the covers, thinking hazily that he must have slept late. Duncan and Jim sounded much more awake than they usually did when they returned from their run.

"Hey, sleepyhead, are you planning on spending the whole day there?" Duncan called from the kitchen, reaching for a mug to pour Blair a cup when he scooted to the edge of the bed, still wrapped up in the covers.

"It's freezing in here! Did you guys run? Is it arctic out there?"

"Yes on all counts Chief. Duncan, turn the heat up, he's right, it's cold in here."

"Thank you Duncan." Blair called sleepily, dragging a blanket with him as he crawled out of the warmth of the bed.

Blair shuffled across the cold floor, pushing his unruly hair off his face. When his eyes came into focus, he couldn't help but smile. Jim and Duncan were in the kitchen, shirtless and sweaty. //Nice way to wake up. Very nice.//

"You two seem awfully cheerful, what's up?" He looked up at Jim and Duncan, reaching a hand out from under his blanket to take the cup of coffee from Duncan.

"Nothing." Duncan smiled. Blair was one of the few people he knew who could be cute as hell in the morning.

Blair brought his coffee cup to his lips, ready to buy it, until his eyes met Jim's over the rim.

"What kinda nothing?"

"Chief, why don't you take a shower and wake up before you start your daily round of investigation?" Jim smiled at him adoringly.

"Um, maybe..." Blair's eyes went quickly from Jim's to Duncan's, and then back to his Sentinel's, trying to decide what he'd missed by oversleeping. "Yeah, okay, I think it'll keep, at least for coffee."

Duncan's brown eyes laughed at Jim's across the counter. Jim smiled back, thinking that Duncan was as good a friend as he could have asked for, even if he hadn't.

"You look like you're contemplating something..." Blair squinted up at Jim, poking a hard finger into the center of his bare chest. Turning on his heel, Blair turned his sharp gaze on Duncan, shaking his head, "And you, my dear, look like the cat that swallowed the canary. You two intend to talk, or am I going to have to beat it out of you?" Blair walked into Duncan's chest with his arms crossed between them, a look of mock fierceness on his face.

"That's an awful lot of bravado for a guy who's only wearing a blanket." Duncan laughed, making a grab for Blair's covers, and pulling him against his chest.

Blair squealed, catching his blanket around his waist, as Duncan began to tickle him. "Duncan!" Blair tried to get away, and found himself held against the hard chest by an arm around his ribcage. He laughed and fought harder, as Duncan began to tickle him in earnest. "Come on! Jim! Help me, man! Where's that blessed protector thing when you need it?" Blair was laughing so hard his face had turned bright red, and Duncan showed no sign of letting up.

Jim only chuckled, shaking his head. "I don't think so, Chief. I've beat him up enough for one day, you're on your own."

"Thanks a lot!" Blair shrieked, fighting for a better grip on his blankets. Jim watched his struggle under Duncan's restraining arm, feeling heat course through his body at the sight of his Guide squirming and twisting under Duncan's merciless assault. He had to look away, fearing a zone out.

Duncan shouted in surprise and indignation and Jim's eyes returned to them in time to see Blair twist out of his grasp and come flying across the kitchen, hurtling himself into Jim and spinning him around.

"Hide me!" Blair shouted, wrapping his arms and his blanket around Jim.

Blair's naked body pressed against him full length, and his laughter filled Jim's ears. It hurt, the sound, the touch, everything. Everything was suddenly turned up, and there was an emptiness, a huge, aching hole, that he fell into endlessly. He felt himself falling and tried to reach out for Blair, but he was gone.

"Jim! Jim, come back to me, come on, I'm here, listen, listen to my heart..."

Blair had backed away from Jim instinctively, now he grabbed his biceps, trying to pull him out of the zone.

"What's wrong, why isn't it working?" Duncan was at his side, growing more and more concerned as the seconds ticked by.

Blair shook his head, not taking his eyes from Jim's frozen features. "I don't know. What happened this morning? Tell me!"

"Nothing..." Duncan fumbled for words, shrugging helplessly when Blair's head snapped around to pierce him with worried, angry blue eyes. "We ran, we had a talk... then we sparred in the dojo. We had a little accident, he broke my nose... but it wasn't on purpose."

Blair turned back to his Sentinel, stepping close to cover him full length with his body. "Jim, come on, buddy, please. Come on back..."

Jim's arms jerked, coming up around him and crushing his ribcage, holding him pressed tightly to his chest. "Jim!" Blair gasped, afraid for a second that his ribs were going to be broken by the strength in Jim's arms.

"Blair? I'm sorry. I zoned? What happened?"

"Jim, sit down, you don't look good. Are you okay? What's going on with your senses?" Blair rambled anxiously, leading Jim over to the couch by his arm.

"I'm okay, I think..." Jim fell down hard onto the couch, his hands coming up briefly to cover his face. "Maybe we overdid it a little this morning, Chief, I'll be fine."

Blair shook his head, sending a piercing look to his lover across the room. "I don't buy it. What aren't you telling me?"

Duncan came to join them on the couch sitting down next to Jim, one hand reaching to touch his shoulder. "You're okay?"

"Yeah, fine. Just a spike, caught me off guard, flipped everything up. I'll be fine." Jim repeated, sounding much more sure of himself this time.

Jim took a deep breath, exhaling slowly. The empty, achy feeling was still there, he felt hollow inside, but he didn't know how to say it. Blair was still watching him with worried, intense eyes. He hated to see his Guide look like that, so full of self recrimination. "Please, Blair, don't make a big deal out of it, okay? I feel fine, everything's working. Just let it go this time, okay?"

He wanted to tell his Guide not to be so upset, that it wasn't his fault, but he didn't know how to say it without admitting how bad he really felt.

Blair sighed in defeat, and got up from the chair, pulling his blanket back around his hips and heading for the shower. "I'm gonna shower, then we'll talk about this," he promised, sending Jim one more worried look over his shoulder before he closed the door.

"Ah geeze, Mac, I hate it when I do that to him." Jim confessed, sighing heavily. "He gets so upset about it, like it's all his fault."

"It's not like you did it on purpose, Jim. Do know why you zoned?" Duncan asked gently, feeling a rush of sympathy for the confusion he saw in Jim's eyes. He looked like Duncan felt when he came back from being dead.

Jim shrugged, his hands twitching in his lap. "I don't. I mean, I do, but I don't know how to describe it. It's him... it's like a battery, or a magnet or something, and sometimes, when he touches me, it's like the current runs backwards and blows it all up. Everything spikes at once, but I can't really feel it, it's just this emptiness..." Jim stopped, holding up his hands helplessly, "I don't know, Mac, I don't know how to explain it. I wish I could. I never used to take this stuff seriously, about the connection with the Guide. I remember him talking about it the first day, when I showed up at his office at Rainier, and I blew it off right away. I guess it scares me, that's probably what Blair'll come up with, once he's picked my brain for a few hours." Jim's hands came up to cover his face again, and he exhaled noisily, obviously not looking forward to another post zone out third degree.

"Why don't you go back to bed, take a nap, and you two can talk about it a little later. You look exhausted. It'll keep, right?" Duncan's brown eyes were full of concern, and Jim decided he was probably right. It had been one hell of a morning. Maybe a little more sleep wouldn't hurt.

"That's a really good idea. I think I'm going to take your advice, before he gets out of the shower. Hey, tell him I'm not blowing him off, just taking a rain check, okay?"

Duncan smiled, nodding. "Don't worry, it'll be fine."

"Thanks Duncan, I'll see you later." Jim told him, getting up to grab his sweatshirt from the stool at the counter where he'd dropped it.

"Don't worry about it, take a nap. Come up for dinner, I'll cook."

"That sounds nice. Have a good day, Mac." Jim called, leaving through the back door. Duncan listened to his steps on the stairs, a frown creasing his brow.

"Where's Jim?" Blair came out of bathroom, looking quickly around the loft. He was wearing Duncan's robe, because it was warmer his own, wrapping almost double around him, tied tightly at the waist and tucked up to keep it from dragging on the floor.

"I sent him downstairs to take a nap. He had a rough morning. Don't worry, he told me to tell you you have a rain check, you can talk about it later. He really was exhausted, Caro, I think he's pushing himself too hard, trying to adjust to everything."

"Like what?" Blair asked, coming over to sit with his lover on the couch.

"You, living here, the idea of sex with a man... Everything. Give him some time, I think he's going to be okay."

Blair raised his eyebrows at Duncan archly. "And when did you become the expert on Sentinels and zone outs?"

"I'm not, but I can see how hard he's trying. Maybe too hard." Duncan took Blair's hand in both of his own, stroking his thumb over the knuckles. "Don't be upset with me, I'm not trying to do your job, Caro. I care about him too."

A slow smile spread of Blair face, and he nodded. "Okay. That's cool. I know you do, it's just strange having somebody else understand."

Duncan smiled, pulling his lover close for a long, satisfying hug. "I think I'm getting there." Releasing Blair, Duncan held him away from his chest to look at him. "How are you, okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Still wondering what I missed sleeping late. Feels like something important." Blair looked into Duncan's brown eyes levelly, feeling a little strange to be the one in the dark. Whatever he'd missed was the cause of Jim's zone out, it had to be.

"Just what I told you... We talked on the way home, in the truck a bit. It started out on Immortality and kinda veered off..."

"Uh huh?" Blair prompted when Duncan trailed off, looking uncomfortable. "To what?"

"Well... sex."

"Oh. Did you talk about me?" Blair asked, uncertain for a moment how he felt about this.

"Not exactly. I think he's questioning the dynamics, in a sexual relationship with another man... I don't want to betray his confidence, is that okay?" Duncan's expressive eyes questioned his lover's, not sure what the right thing to do was, whose trust to keep.

"Don't tell me, it's okay. Really, I mean it. If you guys have stuff that's just between you and him, that's good. I mean, we're trying to build trust here, right? I want him to be able to trust you, and talk to you, I think it's good. I'm not happy about that zone, though. It was a bad one. Why did it take him so long to respond to me? That scares me." Blair chewed on the end of a curl thoughtfully, something Duncan noticed he only did when he was upset.

"I wish I felt like I knew where we're going, me and him. How can I guide him when I'm totally lost?"

Duncan smiled, reaching out to run his hands through Blair's wet hair, pushing back off his face. "You're not, you're just upset because he zoned. Trust me, just give him some time, and stop worrying. Why don't we do something to take your mind off it for the day. How 'bout I take you to the museum?"

Blair smiled, leaning in for a long, soft kiss. "Mm, I'd love to, but I can't. I have work to do, piles of it. Haven't got the lesson plans for the next quarter done yet. Can I have a rain check from you too, handsome?"

"Sure, no problem. I'll stay home with you then, and make you take breaks. I can wrap presents while you're working." Duncan gave his lover a quick squeeze before getting up from the couch to get the shopping bags of presents waiting to be wrapped near the shelves. Blair opened his laptop, settling into a familiar position on the couch, with the coffee table pulled forward for him to work on.

Duncan watched him from across the room, where he was setting out rolls of wrapping paper and bows and tape on the table, feeling very good about spending a day at home alone with Blair. His lover put his glasses on, tucking his hair behind his ears. Duncan smiled, thinking that the loft seemed so much cozier with Blair there with him. These were his favorite kind of days, when they could just stay home together and enjoy each other's company.

By late afternoon Blair was deeply engrossed in his outlines for the coming semester's courses and Duncan had wrapped all of the presents for the party. Another bag of presents was hidden under the bed, but those he would wrap when Blair wasn't around. The phone rang, and Blair mumbled "couldya get that?" without looking up from his typing.

"Sure." Duncan reached behind him for the cordless phone resting in it's charger on the wall. "Hello?"

"Come have a beer Mac."

"Um, okay, I could. You're at Joe's?"

"Of course where else?"

Duncan laughed, listening to Joe's encouragements in the background. "All right, I'll come down. See you soon."

Blair looked up from his work when Duncan set the phone down. "You going over to Joe's?"

"Yeah, Adam wants me to have a beer with him. Is that okay with you?"

"Oh yeah, sure. Go have fun, tell Joe I said hey."

"Okay." Duncan crossed the room to lean over the back of the sofa, his arms going around Blair's chest to pull him back into a hug. "I'll be back soon. I love you, Caro. Give me a kiss."

Blair smiled, twisting around to reach his lover's lips. Duncan kissed him deeply, his tongue gently probing his mouth as his hand moved to the back of his head, holding Blair up for his kiss. "Mmm, I love you too, have fun."

"I will. Bye." Duncan stole one more kiss before going to the coat stand for his trench coat, wrapping a scarf around his neck for protection against the bitter cold.

Blair looked up at the clock as Duncan left, deciding he'd spent enough of his day on schoolwork, and that this was a perfect time to see what was going on with Jim Ellison. Whatever it was, it wasn't going to go away by him ignoring it. Maybe he'd be able to convince Jim that the only thing to do was talk about it, and maybe not, but if he didn't try he'd just sit up here in the loft and worry about it. Saving his document and shutting down the laptop, Blair got up to find clothes, laughing at himself for sitting around in Duncan's robe half the day. This had to be laziest Christmas vacation he'd ever had, and he had to admit, he was enjoying every minute of it.

Blair grinned when Jim opened the door before he could knock, happy to see Jim's smile of welcome.

"Hi. Duncan went to Joe's to have a beer with Adam. Can I come in?"

"Of course. C'mon in." Jim held the door open for him, following Blair back to the couch.

Blair dropped down cross legged into a corner of the couch, waiting for Jim to sit down with him.

"So, you wanna talk about what happened upstairs this morning?"

"No," Jim laughed, shaking his head. "But I'm going to, right?"

"Right." Blair nodded, hoping he looked a lot more confident than he felt.

Blair was taken completely by surprise when Jim leaned across the space between them, his hands going to Blair's hips to lift him squarely into Jim's lap. Blair's hands went to Jim's shoulders, surprised but not at all unhappy to find himself there.

Jim waited long enough for Blair to figure out what he wanted to do with his legs. When he wrapped them around Jim's waist, he pulled Blair closer, pressing his forehead to his Guide's as he spoke.

"Blair, if we gotta talk, can I have you here? I need you close..."

"Good. Me too." Blair's hands moved from Jim's shoulders to the back of his head, holding them that way while they took a deep, steadying breath.

"This is good...talk to me." Blair murmured, getting more comfortable on top of his Sentinel. He leaned into him, letting Jim take his weight. It felt good, they fit together just right this way.

Jim smiled shaking his head slowly against his Guide. "It's always like this. As soon as I have you close, it's like nothing was ever wrong in the first place, and I'm sure I'm not gonna zone when you touch me anymore. Then I do..." Jim sighed, letting the feel of Blair sink in, a wave of contentedness and satisfaction so deep, he felt it in his bones. "I talked to Mac this morning... It helped."

"That's good, and if you want to keep that between the two of you it's totally okay with me. Tell me about the zone. What did it feel like?"

"Everything just went into overdrive..." Jim took a deep breath, closing his eyes. It felt safer that way. "Sometimes when I look at you, I want you so badly... Just like, more than I know how to explain. It's this emptiness, it swallows me up. When you threw yourself into me this morning, it was just too much, it hurt. Touch, everything. But I know why... I was watching you, knowing you didn't have any clothes on under that blanket, and I was wanting you so badly... It felt like I was just going to die from it, and then I zoned." Jim was looking at him guiltily, as if he thought it was a crime he was admitting to, to look at his Guide lustfully.

"Oh God, I'm sorry... I'm here, anytime you need me, Jim, I'm here." Blair locked his arms behind Jim's head, letting his head drop to his Sentinel's shoulder.

"Don't be sorry. I feel foolish for not being able to get a handle on this, I should be able to control it..."

"You shouldn't have to." Blair wrapped his arms and legs more tightly around Jim, holding him as close to his body as he could. Somehow, Blair was determined to convince Jim that the link between them wasn't something he had to be ashamed of.

"You feel so good, if I could just keep you here I'd be happy," Jim whispered into Blair's hair, loving the feel of it on his face.

" 'S okay with me." Blair mumbled, sighing contentedly as he found the perfect spot to burrow into at the side of Jim's neck. He wanted to talk, to try to get closer to solving the problem of Jim's zone outs, but it felt so damn good, to be this close. It made it hard to concentrate on talking. Blair hugged the big body to him more tightly, wondering if Jim was having the same problem.

Jim felt his body responding, the rush of desire that burned through him like fire. "Ah, God, Blair... I want this. I want you." His own blood rushing through his veins pounded in his ears, and Jim fought for control of his senses.

Without thinking, his hands went to the sides of Blair's head, holding him still to press his lips to his Guide's mouth. Soft, warm lips pressed eagerly to his, parting under his pressure, opening to welcome his tongue. Jim heard himself groan against Blair's lips, and then he was devouring him, his hands plunging greedily into Blair's curls to hold him still. It felt so incredibly good, to thrust his tongue into Blair's mouth and taste him, to have his Guide wrapped around him, kissing him back with hungry enthusiasm.

His tongue deep in Blair's mouth, his hands moving across his back, all Jim could think of was that he wanted more. More of Blair's heat, his taste, more of the feel of his Guide pressed tightly against his body. When they broke apart, gasping, he shifted Blair's weight on top of him, trying to bring their hips into closer contact.

"Chief... I'm sick of feeling so clueless with you... Help me. I want you, I'm gonna die if I don't get you closer... More." Jim groaned, feeling Blair's hands tugging at his clothes as he tried to talk, to tell Blair how strange it was to feel so totally unsure of what to do next.

"You wanna move this to the bed man?" Blair was panting softly near his ear, his hands fighting with the buttons on his shirt.

"Yeah...that'd be good." Jim wasn't able to keep his mouth off his Guide long enough to let him up. In the end, they managed to get from the couch to the bed without letting go of each other for more than a moment. It was an awkward, shuffling struggle, but then he was flat on his back on the bed, and Blair was on top of him. Jim thought he might simply die of pure need as Blair's thighs covered his and he could feel the heat and the hardness of Blair's erect cock rubbing against his own.

"Blair..." Jim moaned, fighting for control enough to talk. The words he wanted to say swam in his head, while the feel and the smell of Blair overcame him, dissolving his inhibitions. All the nervousness and awkwardness he'd felt a moment ago was burned away by the heat of Blair's body and the words came tumbling out, "Show me how to do this right. Guide me, Blair. I need you to take control here, I need you so bad, Chief..."

"Oh, God, Jim, yeah...I will, I promise." Blair was groaning against his mouth, his lips so close that Jim could feel the vibration of his voice against his own lips, inside his mouth. The reaction it caused inside him was profound. Jim felt himself opening, melting, taking the vibration of his Guide's voice into his body, feeling it conducted by his bones. It was a strange, hypnotic sensation, that brought him to the very edge of zoning and left him there.

"Anything you want, anything, just tell me, Jim..." Blair was still fighting with his shirt, pulling it over his head when he lost patience with the buttons.

Jim moaned in ecstasy, as Blair's bare skin came in contact with his own. His Guide's voice ran through his body like an electrical current, except that it brought nothing but intense, mindless pleasure. Blair's hands were everywhere, fighting with single-minded determination with their clothing, not satisfied until he had stripped them both completely. Two sets of jeans, underwear and socks went flying over the side of the bed to land in a messy pile on the floor.

"Come here?" Jim panted, trying to make Blair hold still long enough to kiss him again.

"Oh yeah..." Blair groaned in answer, flattening himself on top of his Sentinel. Jim's response was so intense that for a second Blair thought he was going to come. "Easy, take it easy, breathe with me." Blair muttered against Jim's lips, not letting himself move at all on top of the hard, sweat slicked body. Jim followed his directions, slowly his breaths to match his Guide's. "Yeah, that's right, relax, feel me touching you... Oh man, this feels so good, Jim, like I could just sink right under your skin. Mmm, oh God, I swear I could come just touching you."

"You too?" Jim moaned back, his hands reaching to touch his Guide, moving hungrily over warm, soft skin. His hands moved slowly up and down Blair's sides, and finally over his ass, which made Blair cry out sharply and grind his pelvis into his Sentinel's hipbone.

"Oh man, you have no idea. I think I'm gonna zone, I want you so damn bad." Blair's lips covered his, and Jim's arms locked tightly around his middle, holding on for dear life as Blair's tongue plunged into his mouth. He was losing himself to the soft, smooth textures of Blair's tongue and lips, the taste he felt like he could never get enough of. Suddenly, Blair wrenched his mouth away, just before he zoned. "Wait... I wanna look at you. I just want to be able to see you like this."

Blair's legs straddled his waist, shifting his weight to his knees. His Guide's hands moved up between them to touch his face. Jim shuddered when Blair's fingers moved into his short hair, running his palm back and forth over his brush cut. Huge, dark blue eyes stared into his, so full of love and adoration that Jim could only press his forehead to Blair's, as he had earlier, and soak it in.

"Do you have any idea what this means to me? How important this is? Us, together like this... it's what I've always wanted, Jim, it makes me so happy, to be this close to you. So happy."

Blair's huge eyes were bright, shining with unshed tears. Jim took Blair's head in his hands, pulling him down to kiss him passionately, his tongue searching the sweetness of Blair's mouth again and again. Finally, he was satisfied, and he turned his head to the side, letting his mouth wander slowly across his Guide's jaw to whisper quietly in his ear, his voice cracking and betraying the emotion behind the simple words.

"I belong to you, Blair, I always have."

His Guide let out a short sob, and wrapped his arms fiercely around his neck. Anchoring himself to Jim's body, he dropped passionate, feverish kisses over his throat and shoulders. "Oh God, me too. I love you. I love you so much, Jim." He was trying not to cry, but he didn't think it was going to work.

"Shh, it's okay. I've got you... it's okay." Jim rolled them over to their sides, hugged his Guide close to his body, trying to shelter him from the overpowering emotions.

Slowly, Blair regained control of the turmoil inside him. When he realized that Jim was touching him, he held very still, afraid that if he did anything to return the caresses Jim might realize what he was doing and balk. Jim's hand was stroking slowly up and down his body. Slow, repeated caresses that touched him from his collar bone to his navel. When Jim's hand brushed lightly over his cock Blair moaned softly, and whispered encouragement. "Touch me. Oh please, Jim, hold me in your hand, let me feel you."

Blair groaned out loud, pushing his face into Jim's chest when he felt the warm brush of Jim's fingertips over his cock. "Yeah..." He closed his eyes, letting himself melt under the exquisite touch for a a few perfect seconds. "Mmm, you gotta stop, too good. I'll come."

Jim's laughter was a deep, throaty chuckle. "Isn't that pretty much the point here Chief?"

"Not yet..." Blair argued, moaning. "I want you in my mouth first."

"Oh God Chief..."

Blair was moving down his body, pressing hard, passionate kisses to his chest and stomach. Jim felt each touch of his Guide's mouth like a brand. The hot, searing kisses literally took his breath away, until he had to fight for air. Blair's soft, hungry lips had reached his groin. He was pressing wet, sucking kisses all around the base of his cock and the sensitive skin of his inner thighs.

"Blair... Oh Jesus Blair, please... I can't take anymore, I can't..."

"Yes, you can. Take it easy, turn it down a little. Feel my mouth... good, now just ease that dial down a notch. You need this, I know you do. I do too. So bad. Talk to me, Jim, don't let yourself zone."

"Feels like heaven. I can feel the sound... the vibration, under my skin...it's like having you inside me.

"Open your eyes, I don't want you to zone." Blair's soft whisper over his cock was the most incredible thing he'd ever felt. Jim groaned when his nerves obeyed Blair's voice instinctually, and he was greeted by the sight of his Guide taking the head of his cock into his mouth. Blair looked like an angel, curled up between his legs, eyes shining up at him.

Blair's mouth closed around him as his hand reached up to interlock their fingers. "Stay with me." Blair's whisper was harsh, almost painful. Then he was enveloped into the wet, warm safety of his Guide. Vaguely, Jim felt his fingers crushing Blair's, and forced himself to concentrate, loosening the painful grip. Blair's curls brushed softly over his skin and he watched, amazed, as his Guide took him deeply into his throat, his mouth closing gently around him.

"Blair..." Jim groaned, lost in helpless, agonizing pleasure. The wet heat that held him felt like nothing he'd ever felt before, it was perfect. So absolutely perfect that when Blair tried to move, his hands flew to the sides of his head, begging him to stay. "Please, oh please, stay there."

"Mmm," Blair moaned around him in agreement and Jim thought he would die from the feel of it.

Blair held still, his only movements were the soft sucking motions of his throat as he worked Jim's cock. He could hear Jim moaning and gasping, the sounds surrounding him. Every time he made love to Jim he felt more connected, closer to him, more a part of him.

"More," Jim gasped. "I need more Blair. I can't get close enough to you. I want more of you."

"Okay...okay, wait."

Blair lifted himself off Jim's pulsing cock long enough to flip himself around on the bed. He lay down again, and this time the angle made it easy to take Jim deeply into his throat, until his lips were pressed tightly to the base and Jim was totally engulfed in his mouth. They were both still on their sides, but now he was upside down, so that his cock was in easy reach of Jim's mouth.

"Take me in your mouth, it's okay. Just follow my lead." Blair coaxed.

Jim's head was filled with Blair's scent as he moved slowly towards the hard cock being offered to him. He thought he should feel strange or awkward, but all he wanted was more of his Guide. He reached out and took Blair's rigid cock carefully in his hand. Without thinking his tongue flicked out for a tentative lick. It just tasted like Blair. Jim was surprised that he wasn't disgusted, but he wasn't, not at all. He was intensely, almost painfully excited.

Blair let out a high pitched moan around his cock when he touched him with his tongue, and Jim moved closer, deciding he liked both the sound and the feel of Blair's pleasure even more that the things they'd done before. Just as he was about to repeat the motion, Blair lifted his mouth off his cock to ask in a whisper, "Do I taste really weird to you?"

"No." Jim took the head of Blair's cock into his mouth, sucking softly, as Blair had done. He released him quickly, intrigued and a little surprised by what it felt like. Satiny smooth, and hot, a pulse he could feel under his tongue. Utterly Blair. "You taste incredible."

"Oh my god, Jim."

Jim smiled wolfishly, deciding he liked that reaction even better. Experimentally, he flicked his tongue back and forth rapidly over the oozing tip. Blair's response was to dive onto his cock, burying him deep in his throat. Blair was doing things with his tongue that made it almost impossible to concentrate on what he was trying to do. He was about to zone on the pleasure when Blair's hard cock jerked in his mouth, begging for attention.

Jim drew a little more of Blair's cock into his mouth, sucking gently. Little by little, he took Blair into his throat. It was very strange, and a little awkward, the hard flesh in his mouth seemed much more alive than it did when he held it in his hand. He was suddenly aware of how a woman could feel threatened by an erect penis, it was something he'd never understood, but now he did. Blair didn't try to choke him, though, he stayed still and let Jim do whatever he wanted, moaning encouragement every time he came up for air. Slowly, Jim began to mirror Blair's motions, and when he relaxed, and let the hard cock slide all the way down his throat, he felt as if they were fusing together, becoming one throbbing, pulsing wave of pure pleasure. The orgasm that tore through him and seemed to make a complete circle, a current of energy that ran from his cock, buried in Blair's throat, through his Guide and back into him through Blair's shuddering climax in his mouth. The taste that washed over his tongue made him dizzy with tingling, melting satisfaction. He let his head fall onto Blair's thigh, unwilling to let go of his prize.

Blair held him for another incredible, perfect moment, and then he released him gently, flipping himself around after pulling out of Jim's mouth. Crawling back up to his shoulder, Blair touched his Sentinel's face lightly.

"Are you okay? Did you like that?" His whisper was wonderfully intimate, and Jim wrapped his arms around his Guide, hugging him to his chest as tightly as he dared.

"Very much. It was incredible."

There was long, contented silence, while they lay exhausted in each other's tight embrace. Finally, Jim sighed, and pressed his lips to Blair's temple.

"Chief...can I ask you something?"

It wasn't much more than a whisper. Blair opened his eyes, trying to yank his brain back from the edge of sleep. "Yeah?"

"Do you think this would have happened a long time ago, if I hadn't have been so...If I hadn't been such an asshole?"

"Um, no, I don't think so. Not like this, anyway. We had to go through all that crap to get here. It's karma Jim."

"Are you just saying that to make me feel better?"

Blair picked his head up, using Jim's shoulder as an anchor to pull himself up to his lips. Kissing him softly, he pressed his forehead to Jim's, shaking his head slowly against the larger man's brow. "Nope."

"That's good, because I... I need you, like this. I don't know how the hell I lived without it before... I really don't."

"Shh, it's okay, I need you too. Don't worry, everything's going to be alright."

Blair curled himself up around the big, warm body, his arms slipping under Jim's to pull him closer. His last thought before drifting off to sleep was that whatever Jim and Duncan had talked about, it had done his Sentinel a world of good.

End Part 28

Part 29