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A Fine Mix of Heaven and Hell

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A Fine Mix of Heaven and Hell

by Mickey M.
© June 1997

Special Note: This story first appeared in Mysti's Come To Your Senses 3.


"Alaska?" Blair asked, wonder and excitement in his voice. "Jim, man, that's like way too cool. We gonna camp out?" He stared down at the brochure that Jim had spread out on the desk, eyeing the mountain peaks, studying the text that promised 'crystal clear lakes and streams; fishing and hunting like none other'.

Jim smiled at his partner's enthusiasm. This had been a good idea. He wasn't sure when he saw the brochure...he and Blair had gone camping and fishing together, but a *real* vacation? That was a little different. "We can camp out, or get a cabin. Whichever. I think camping would be more fun--roughing it a little more. And that way we can change campsites if we want to."

"I like this idea. A lot. I don't know about the time thing though..." Blair stopped and sighed, fingering the brochure. "I've always wanted to go to Alaska, but I have a lot of commitments with the University."

"That's why I was thinking of May. School'd be out--unless you're going to teach summer classes?" he paused, waiting for confirmation or denial, then continued, "well, I think that would work then. The worst of the weather's over too--I know how you feel about the cold." Jim grinned at Blair, who smiled back sheepishly. The fact that Blair hated the cold was the worst kept secret between them. "I've already put in my vacation request form, Chief. All we need to do is get our plane tickets, and make the charter reservation." Jim paused briefly, then asked, "Will you be able to afford this, or will it be too much of a strain?"

"Charter?" Blair quickly scanned the brochure again.

"Yeah--Lake Ahnoghon doesn't have any roads into it...there's a charter service that flies people up there."

"Ah. Yeah, okay. As for affording," Blair was silent for about half a second, then a wide grin stretched his mouth, lighting his expressive face. "That's what loans and savings accounts are for. Let's do it, man. I've wanted to see Alaska for a while--never a better time than the present. This is *so* cool!" Blair handed the brochure to Jim. "Check out those mountains--I'll bet the hiking trails are awesome."

Jim sighed, looking at the pictures. "Mountain-climbing--I'd like to do some rappelling."

Blair shuddered. "Oh, no...none of that for me, man. I like *hate* heights..."

"Ellison, Sandburg, my office!" Simon's voice bellowed from his office, and the two men sighed. Jim folded up the brochure and tucked it into his pocket. He'd go see the travel agent before going home today.


"Man, three more months." Blair made the comment as he took a break from grading papers. "I plan to do nothing but catch up on my sleep for the first three days we're up there."

Jim looked up from the report he'd been studying, amusement plain on his face. They were in 'count-down' mode for the sixth of May, and had been since Jim had picked up their tickets. Blair, especially, was caught up in the idea of two weeks away from all forms of civilization, 'you're not taking your cell phone, are you?'; probably a result of his being stretched too thin by too many commitments. "You think you're going to have time to sleep, Chief?"

"Why go on vacation if you don't make time to do nothing?" Blair pulled his glasses off and rubbed his eyes.

Jim grinned outright. "Hard to argue with logic like that."

His Guide arched an eyebrow. "That's why *I'm* the Guide, Jim. I'm the brains, you're the brawn. Got it?"

"Right." He watched Blair flex his neck, trying to work out the knots that built up after his Guide sat in one position for hours at a stretch. "Why don't you ever get up and move around, Sandburg? For someone who's 'the brains' as you put it, you sure don't use your head sometimes. Here, let me do that before you end up with your neck bent at a weird angle." Jim got out of the chair, and moved behind the couch. He put his hands on Blair's neck, and began gently yet firmly kneading the knots that he could feel beneath his fingertips. Blair tensed, then relaxed as the knots were smoothed away.

", that feels *so* good..." Blair relaxed, rolling his neck and shoulders slightly under Jim's ministrations. Jim smiled as he watched Blair's movements; the younger man reminded him of a sleek housecat--smooth, sinuous, graceful. He made a move to push the long hair out of his way, and felt his fingers brush against Blair's as his partner reached back to do the same. Jim felt a spark of... something... race through his fingers, leaving a pleasant tingle of sensation behind. He could feel the small shiver that raced down Blair's spine, and he quickly moved his hand, reconnecting with the knots in Blair's shoulders. Blair gathered his hair into his hand, and shifted it away from Jim. Neither man made any mention of the incident.


"Why is it that the criminals who need to be watched commit crimes during the coldest part of winter?" Blair grumbled as he tucked the blanket tighter around his legs.

Jim watched in amusement, wondering how in the world anyone could be *so* energetic, and so *cold* all at the same time. Didn't burning energy create heat? Last time he had a science class it did. "What is it with you being cold all the time, Chief?"

"I pissed off someone in a past life?" Blair shot a grin at Jim, then shivered faintly.

"Seriously, Sandburg. If it weren't for the fact that all the tickets have been paid for, I'd say you should forget Alaska, even in May. It's gonna be cold there too, you know."

Blair waved a hand expansively. "Yeah, but it'll be worth it. Hiking, camping, fishing...testing you," his eyes gleamed wickedly at the last comment, and Jim felt his heart beat faster for a minute in response. "Besides," his Guide continued, "for one thing, it'll be *daylight*, not dead of night like this is, and something different."

"Seen one stakeout, seem 'em all?" Jim questioned in a gently mocking tone.

"Something like that, man. Yeah, that works." Blair rubbed his hands against his blanket-covered legs, trying to ascertain that there was still flesh beneath the cloth. He was so cold... "Can't we turn the heat on for a few minutes? Please?"

Jim shook his head. "Sorry, Chief. Can't take the chance that they'd hear the truck." He glanced over and caught his partner's crestfallen expression, then the shiver that fizzed up Blair's spine. "C'mere."

"What?" Blair stared at Jim, uncertain of what Jim was saying.

"We'll combine body heat. C'mere." 'What do you think you're doing?' his mind questioned. 'Helping a friend,' he retorted silently. Jim slid a little ways across the seat, and watched Blair's face as his friend came to a decision.

"Okaaay..." Blair slid across cautiously, and came to rest up against Jim's side. The bigger man put an arm across the back of the seat, and let his hand hang down, lightly touching Blair's shoulder. Blair shivered again slightly, but not from the cold this time. He *was* warming up though, and after a few minutes was warm enough to relax into a light doze. He knew Jim would wake him up if he was needed.

Jim settled down when Blair dozed, listening to the quiet rhythm of his friend's heart and breathing; both slow and drowsy. He leaned lightly against Blair, unable to describe the strange but pleasant feelings that were flowing through him. Friend. Somehow that seemed like a puny word to describe all the things that Blair had come to represent in his life. He'd taken Jim's abilities and turned them from something that was working on total destruction of Jim's sanity into something that represented *him*. Represented what he stood for. If for no other reason, he would be forever grateful to Blair; offer his friendship. But beyond that, the younger man had proven to be a *friend*. In spite of Blair's contention that 'BS is a form of male-bonding'; Jim knew he was truthful with him--at least about the things that mattered.

Blair had been there for him countless times; Jim had come to count on the younger man more than he'd ever have believed would happen--more than he'd ever counted on anyone else before.

How many times had his partner endangered his own life--or at least had it endangered, just by association with Jim? Jim shook his head in contemplation. More than he cared to enumerate. Blessed Protector, indeed. If there were anyone in more desperate need, Jim had yet to find one. And what was it about Blair that brought that protector mode to full alert? Jim tilted his head, angling himself for a better look. He was smaller and younger than himself, certainly, but not abnormally so. There was nothing fragile or effeminate about him; he was definitely male, definitely masculine. Right down to the intoxicating scent that was tickling Jim's nose right now...

*WHAT???* Jim felt the danger klaxons begin sounding. 'What the hell am I thinking here? This is Sandburg. Friend, partner, guide. *Male* friend, partner, guide.' Jim shifted, drawing away slightly. This was moving into uncomfortable territory. If he wasn't careful, he'd have himself believing he had feelings of a different nature for Blair.

Blair moved in his sleep, and clutched Jim's jacket. Jim felt his own heart rate speed up in response, and jerked slightly in surprise. Blair woke with a start, and a startled cry. "What!"

Ellison settled down as soon as he had re-established his personal space. "Nothing, Chief. Just getting a cramp in my neck. Sorry."

Blair settled back into his own seat. "S'all right, man. I'm warmed up, anyway. Thanks."

"Anytime, Chief." 'Anytime you want...'. Jim stopped that train of thought and tried to refocus on the stakeout. It was going to be a long night.

'Jesus, not again...' Blair entreated silently as he felt a strange sort of tension course through his body. Jim had sat down next to him. That was all; he just sat down. Blair shuddered and shifted casually, trying to put more distance between them; although what he really wanted to do was... 'No. Don't *even* go there, Blair,' he warned himself sternly. 'This is Jim, your best friend, not Jim, a candidate for romance.'

Lately though, his body had seemed so attuned to Jim...all the man had to do was walk into a room, and Blair felt his pulse speed up, his breathing get harsher, sweat break out on all skin surfaces. It was nuts--it was like he was 18 again. 'You'd think I had a crush on the guy.' Blair stopped his cup halfway to his mouth. 'Oh, shit. Is that what this is?'

"Chief? You okay?"

"Huh? Oh, yeah." Blair brought the cup all the way up to his mouth, took a drink, then set the it back on the table. He felt his skin burn as he realized that Jim's eyes had tracked his movements--swallowing suddenly became difficult, and he felt like his heart was going to pound out of his chest. "Umm...want anything to eat? I'm gonna find something--" Blair bounded off the couch, determined to get away from Jim before he did or said something that would jeopardize their friendship. 'Must be hallucinations brought on by too much time together and too little sleep. Yeah, that's it.' Blair grasped at the idea desperately. Right.

"No, I don't want anything. You sure you're all right?" Jim frowned at Blair's rapidly retreating form, wondering what had caused the sudden attack of the jitters. He could almost feel the panic pouring off Blair in waves, along with the almost sensuous heat that his partner generated. What? What the *hell* was he thinking? 'Well what else do you expect to find in your brain when you watch the man swallow some coffee?' True enough-- he'd watched Blair tip his head back, and had followed the line of his throat in fascination. Blair was beautiful--it was okay to acknowledge that, wasn't it? After all, women and men could be recognized for their beauty, by both sexes, without being ... 'What? Gay?' Jim's inner voice laughed derisively at him. 'Afraid of being gay, Jim old boy? The kid's a looker, isn't he?' 'NO! It's more than that! He's my friend--he's been there for me.' Blair might be beautiful, but there was a true inner- beauty as well. A generous spirit who gave freely and deeply of himself...

Jim interrupted his own thoughts when he realized he'd never heard Blair's answer to his question--if indeed the younger man had answered him. Something was going on between them lately-- they alternately spent their time mooning over each other, or avoiding each other. 'We need to talk about this. Before we end up...' What? It hurt to even consider the possibility of life without Blair in it. He needed Blair on so many different levels he couldn't even differentiate any longer.

Jim sucked in a breath, determined to try and figure this out. "Hey, Chief?"

Blair's voice was muffled slightly, as he bent in front of the refrigerator. "Yeah?"

"I--" His courage deserted him, and Jim closed his mouth abruptly. What if he was wrong? What if he was the only one feeling strange feelings toward his partner...and Blair was only watching him strangely lately because of the way *he* was acting around the younger man? "I'm gonna go to bed. It's getting late, and I'm tired."

"Sure man, whatever." Blair stood up and faced him. "Sleep well, Jim."

Blair stood in the kitchen and watched Jim go up the stairs. Even without recourse to sentinel hearing he knew the routine Jim was following; it was the same every night. Strip down, and hang up clothes. Sleepwear? Boxers if it was a warm night, sweats if it wasn't. Sweats tonight then. Tidy up the room; then a trip back downstairs to brush his teeth, wash up quickly and grab a glass of water. Blair felt his mouth go dry when Jim appeared on the stairs...the sweats were slung low on his hips, cradling Jim's hipbones and exposing the barest hint of a navel. Powerful upper body; pecs and abs defined in bas relief, veins standing out in places. Not too powerful though--nothing like body-builder caliber; just a strong, beautiful body. He swept his gaze up the length of Jim's body, then back down, admiring the long lines of his back as Jim continued on his way to the bathroom. The door closed behind him, and Blair turned and grasped the countertop for support.

When his legs could support him steadily again, Blair headed for the living area, and the recently vacated couch. What was he feeling? *Was* it a crush? Why? Or more precisely, why Jim? It wasn't like he'd never been with a man--or been tempted; although the women outweighed them for sheer number, some of his closest relationships had been with men. Not that he'd had many that were that close... Jim was a straight guy though, and had never expressed the slightest bit of interest in guys--him, or any others. He hadn't seemed unduly stressed when presented with the evidence that his roomie was bisexual, but that didn't mean that Jim was willing to sleep with him--just that he wasn't bothered by it.

Blair shook his head, and focused instead on the sounds coming from the bathroom. What was *up* with them lately? Usually he and Jim were touchy-feely toward each other; just another way of expressing their feelings of friendship and affection toward one another. Oh, yeah, he loved Jim--had for a while. Loved him like a friend, maybe a brother even. But these feelings lately were catching him off guard, even scaring him. And to find Jim staring at him every time he turned around was beginning to disconcert him. Of course, maybe he was reading too much into this: Jim may be watching him simply because he was acting so strangely these days. Blair sighed. 'Guess I'll go to bed myself.'


Insanity prevailed in his life. That was all he could think of to explain what he was feeling--all that *would* explain it. Jim sighed as he sat at the table, staring at Blair as unobtrusively as possible. He was obsessed with the man lately. Obsessed with his movements, the sound of his voice, the way his hands moved constantly as he talked. In fact, those hands had caught his attention again--beautiful, strong, elegant hands.

"Jim, man, what's up with you?" Blair was waving one of those hands in his face now. Jim tracked the movement then focused on the man.

"Sorry, Chief. Just got lost in my thoughts there."

Blair snorted. "Lost in your thoughts? Man, you were like zoned."

'Yeah, zoned on you, Blair,' Jim added silently. "Anyway, what were you saying?"

Blair shook his head. "Just that we should try working more on that piggy-back thing we did, you know, substituting one sense in place of another. That way you don't have to worry if you get an overload on one." Blair's hand movements and facial expressions revealed the excitement that took over him when they worked on some new aspect of focusing Jim's sentinel abilities.

Jim shrugged. "It's really only gonna work between sight and hearing though, don't you think? I mean, how many situations would it work with the others?" he raised his eyes to meet Blair's.

It was Blair's turn to shrug. "I have no idea. Under certain circumstances I could see a crossover between sight and touch maybe, and possibly sight and smell, but yeah, mostly sight and hearing." He glanced down at the notebook he had open next to him, and quickly wrote a note to himself there, then paged through the existing notes rapidly until he came across a passage he was looking for. Jim cleared his throat, and Blair looked back up at him, a comment dying on his lips. Jim was staring at him; eyes bright and clear, unnamed emotions surging in them.

Blair knew Jim was *looking* at him; eyes roaming his face, moving up and down. He felt his chest tighten as his breath caught there, a strange warm achy feeling spreading outward. It felt so right, and so frightening all at the same time, he didn't know how to react to it. He put his pencil down on the notebook, and set his hands on the table. He needed to break the eye contact--but wasn't sure he wanted to. He startled slightly when a large warm hand covered his for an instant, then was gone.

Blair blinked when Jim pushed his chair back. "Jim?"

"Gonna get something to drink. You want anything?"

'You.' The thought jumped into Blair's brain, burning the circuits it touched. Well. There it was, actually acknowledged. Blair watched Jim pull out the coffee and filters, and sighed. "No, thanks." He pushed his own chair back. "I'll be right back, man. Gotta get something else from my room." He retreated to clear his head and get his thoughts under control.

Jim nodded to indicate he'd heard him, then resumed his activity of making coffee. 'What's going on with me? Why did I touch him? I want to touch more of him...' Jim groaned out loud. There it was, acknowledged for real. Was he...falling in love? With Blair? Was there any other explanation that made sense--did *that* one even make sense? He pressed the heels of his hands against his suddenly throbbing head. Overload--too many thoughts of Blair. He opened his eyes in shock. Was there such a thing? Could he have too much of Blair? He shook his head in silent denial, knowing it wasn't true. *All* of Blair likely wouldn't be enough.


"Hey, man, what's wrong? You okay? Jim...?" A soft touch on his back, and Blair's voice cut through his thoughts, gently guiding him back to a stable place, where things weren't careening out of control. Jim shuddered as the warmth of the hand on his back burned through him, alerting every nerve in his body that Blair was touching him. Awareness returned then, and he turned to Blair, dislodging the hand.

"Yeah--just had a touch of a headache for a minute. Sorry...if I startled you," he finished lamely, not knowing what to say.

"Yeah, well," Blair shrugged deprecatingly. "I worry about you, man. I know you've got a handle on your senses--hell, you probably don't even need me anymore, but I still worry. You know, like you'll have a zone-out or something..."

'Not need me anymore.' Was that what Blair thought? "I'll always need you, Chief," he hastened to assure him, in a voice not quite his own. Oh, god...was that him, sounding that raw... that *needy*...? Jim backed away, torn between two actions: grabbing Blair and kissing him until they were both senseless; or running like hell from these thoughts and feelings. He settled for sitting on the couch, moving as nonchalantly as he could manage.

They spent the remainder of the evening carefully avoiding touching each other, talking only when it was necessary.


After nearly two weeks of dancing around each other; words and actions strangely awkward and curtailed; Jim and Blair came to an understanding of sorts. It was a silent one; neither man was willing yet to admit that he had feelings for the other one--at least not to anyone other than himself, and that was only on the most general level. For Blair, it was fear of commitment in general; he didn't have a lot of experience with 'being in love' with someone. Usually his relationships ended before they got much beyond the physical stage, and this one hadn't even reached *that* stage, with no guarantee that it ever would.

Jim's fear was more specific; he was--well, not so much afraid, as unsure--of committing to another man. He had no experience in that area; hadn't ever wanted any. Blair had the innate ability though to make Jim want him without even being aware of the fact that Blair was male. It just didn't seem to matter anymore.

Jim wasn't sure when he became aware of the distance between them; or the difference in how they acted around each other. Actually it was Simon who pointed it out, wondering one day where Sandburg had gotten off to.

"Haven't seen much of him around here lately. You two having troubles?" Simon had been sitting behind his desk, watching his detective carefully. Whatever was up with them he hoped they resolved it soon--Jim had seemed distracted for a while now, and although it wasn't affecting his work yet, there was always the chance that it would.

"He's around, sir," Jim had said, waving his hand dismissively. "We're not having any trouble...he's just been busy."

"Mmmhmm. So how come his 'being busy' has never distracted you like this before?"

"I'm not sure what you mean." Jim wouldn't meet Simon's eyes, afraid he'd see the truth in them.

"You know damn well what I mean, Jim. You're about as fidgety as Darryl these days. Can't seem to concentrate on anything. Whatever the problem between you two is, fix it! I can't afford to have you operating at less than your best." Simon glared at Jim for a minute for emphasis, the demanded, "Am I making myself clear, Ellison?"

"As crystal, sir."


"Thank you, Captain." Jim turned on his heel and left Simon's office, figuring it was time to start showing up at home again. No more late nights, trying to avoid Sandburg. Whatever was ...between them... was going to have to be settled, one way or another. He rolled his shoulders, trying to relax the tension that'd sprung up there. He and Sandburg were going to talk tonight.


"Yeah?" Sandburg looked up from the sink where he was running dishwater.

"Do you realize this is the first time in over a week that we've had dinner here, together? At the same time?"


Jim nodded. "Simon asked me today what was up with us--if something was wrong." He hesitated, not sure how to continue. "Is there? Something wrong?"

The younger man shut the water off and looked at him. "I don't know," he replied evenly. "Is there?"

"What the hell kind of answer is that?"

"You've been gone as much as I have, man. *Is* there something wrong?"

Ellison shook his head. How'd the kid do it? He turned the tables back to Jim so fast it still astonished the older man. "I don't know," he said cautiously. "Things are tense between us...I can sometimes feel the air currents change when we're together now." 'Of course that could just be because I want you so bad.' Jim sighed.

"You can?" The scientist portion of Blair's brain was interested. "How--"

"Blair. Try to stay on track here," Jim reminded him.

"Sorry, big guy. I don't know if anything's *wrong* as much as *different*. You say you can feel the air currents change--well, I can sense something similar. Kinda like karma, y'know? Things are just...different."

They were both silent for a few minutes, then Jim cleared his throat. "I'll be home for dinner tomorrow."

Blair nodded. "There's a few things in my notes from last month I'd like to go over with you...can we do it tomorrow night?"

"Yeah--that'd be good." Jim smiled tentatively, and was pleased to see Blair return the smile.

The shift back toward their old, comfortable relationship wasn't a sudden or obvious one, even after talking. It started gradually, and grew, gaining momentum as it went. Jim stopped trying to find excuses to stay at work on the nights that Blair was home grading papers. Blair started going down to the station more often again, and spending more time at home once more. They began to talk again; working on problems with Jim's cases, and sharing information and insight on the sentinel project.

Blair sat back with a groan, hand reaching behind him to rub his aching neck. Thank god less than three months before their 'getaway'. He'd sat in one position for too long again, and if he didn't get the kinks straightened out soon he was probably going to stay this way forever. He shifted slightly, trying to find the right angle to best reach the knots that seemed to be multiplying even as he was trying to conquer them. A large warm hand touched his, then gently pushed it away, and began attacking the knots. Jim dispatched the tension in the aching muscles with ease and skill, and Blair groaned low in his throat as some of the pressure was relieved.

"Oh,, you're *good* at this...Uhhh...Oh! Ohhh...." Blair dropped his head forward, and pulled his hair out of the way, exposing as much of his neck as possible to Jim's hands. 'He has magic hands, my Jim...' Uh-oh. '"My" Jim?' Blair groaned again, this time not from the neck rub.

Jim smiled as he felt the knots disappearing under his fingertips. He could feel the tension in Blair's body dissipating as he worked, and was glad he'd come down the stairs just when he had. He'd been looking for an excuse for a while to touch Blair; preferably something that would allow for more than a 'door's open, you go first, I'll touch your back as you walk through' type of thing. Blair was still groaning now and then in a combination of pleasure and pain. 'A mixture of heaven and hell. That's what a backrub is like... That's what needing Blair is like.' Jim actually stopped his hands for a moment, his insight startled him so much. He stood there, hands resting lightly on Blair's shoulders, just thinking. Blair rolled his shoulders once or twice before he snagged Jim's attention, and the massage continued.

"Sorry, Chief--got distracted by my thoughts there." Jim dug in to a particularly tenacious knot, and felt the groan that Blair released echo through his own body.

"What were you...ow!...thinking?"

"That a backrub is like heaven and hell mixed together--it feels good, but it hurts too."

Blair chuckled. "You're full of insight tonight, big guy. What's up with that?"

Jim smiled over Blair's head. "Are you saying I'm not usually insightful?" He gave Blair's shoulders a squeeze.

"Me? Nah...not me..." Blair smiled, then groaned again. "Ah...wait, almost...right, there...wait." He reached back and took Jim's hand, and guided it to the side of his neck just under his ear. "Right there!"

Jim gently rubbed the tight muscles, and felt the quivers of pleasure running through Blair's body. 'I'll bet he's really responsive in be-- No! *Don't* follow that line of thought, Ellison. Don't go there.' He allowed his hands to fall still. "Okay, buddy, I think you're done. I hope you're not going to keep this up...?" Jim rested his hands on Blair's shoulders, just savoring the feel of warmth of his Guide under his hands.

Blair gave a small shake of his head. Ordinarily a shrugging motion would have gone with that, but he didn't want to throw Jim's hands off. He was enjoying the touch too much. It was like a wild fire burning its way down his body. "I won't have but one more set of papers to grade before the end of the semester. Try to keep in practice until then."

"Smart-ass." Jim muttered, but still didn't move. His fingers began to rub gently, sensing the softness beneath the cotton shirt. Jim heard Blair's heart rate speed up, and noticed an increase in perspiration. He gave a tiny, gentle squeeze; then began rubbing a little harder, fingertips covering a greater space, but still on Blair's shoulders. His partner's breathing was faster now, a little more irregular. He began smoothing his thumbs along the side of Blair's neck, and heard a jump in speed and volume from the heart currently pounding in Blair's chest. Jim smiled and opened his mouth to speak, and the phone rang.

"Dammit," he growled softly, as he let go of Blair's shoulders and reached for the phone. "Ellison. Right. Yes, sir. No, we can be there in a few minutes. No. No. I understand. We're on our way, Simon."

Blair had turned to look at him, eyes a little glazed. Jim thought he detected a look of longing in the gaze Blair directed at him, but he could be projecting, too. "What's up, man?"

Jim hung up the phone and sat down to put his shoes on. "Hostage situation downtown. Some neo-Nazi type group calling themselves 'Citizens Against Racial Integration' have taken four people hostage and are demanding the release of some of their comrades, as well as safe passage, or they blow the hostages and the building sky-high."

Blair pulled his shoes on, and turned off his computer. "Sounds almost like Kincaid."

"Yeah, except Kincaid didn't ever stop with just four hostages." Jim smiled grimly, remembering how Blair's quick thinking had saved them both that day. "Besides, thankfully, he's still locked up."

"Amen, brother." Blair grabbed his jacket, and shrugged into it.

"Ready, Chief?"

"As I ever will be. Let's go, man."



"NO! Goddammit, NO!"

The voice was insistent, and wouldn't stop. Blair rolled over, pulling his pillow on top of his head, trying to block it out.

"NO!!!! Oh, god, I'm sorry...I'm sorry...I'm sorry..."

The last phrase kept repeating, and Blair finally surfaced from his deep sleep to realize who was calling--and why. He sat up and scrubbed at his face, trying to clear the haze from his brain before he went to wake Jim up. It had been two weeks now since the hostage situation that had ended with four dead, two wounded, and a situation no one could have foreseen.

"Help! Someone get me a medic! Get"

Blair bounded out of bed and raced up the stairs. He could hear Jim fighting with the bedclothes, and knew from three nights worth of experience that they would be tangled all around him, nearly choking him. An unseen enemy grappling with him in his dreams, only to die at his hands.

Except the enemy hadn't been unseen in reality. Reality had been a fifteen-year-old kid who'd been recruited by the group--Citizens Against Racial Integration--who'd been too scared to drop his weapon when Jim had identified himself. Instead the kid had raised it, and fired, prompting Jim to defend himself.

The boy had died while in surgery.

At first Jim seemed normal, unaffected for the most part. Until about three days ago. He'd begun having nightmares--loud, grasping nightmares. Yesterday Blair had persuaded him to go see the department shrink again; insisted upon it in fact, after listening to the sounds of his friend screaming over and over again in his sleep. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder had been the diagnosis. Rest, counseling, and some time off had been the prescription.

Blair stumbled on one of the steps, and he slowed his pace fractionally; breaking his neck wouldn't help Jim in any way. He skidded to a halt at the side of Jim's bed and reached out to gently shake Jim awake.

"Jim... Hey, big guy...come on,'s a dream...come on, man, that's it...follow my voice...wake up...wake up..." He repeated the words over and over, in a soft, soothing tone. After a minute the yelling gave way to gasping breaths, which quieted down slowly. After several long minutes a hand reached out to grasp his wrist, and he pulled away. Clear blue eyes opened to look at him, and Blair winced at the pain, guilt and grief reflected in those eyes.


"You had another dream. You okay, man?"

Jim grimaced. "Dandy, thanks." He pushed the covers back and swung his legs around.

"You know what I mean."

"Yeah, I do. Sorry, Blair. God, I hate this. I'm not--" Jim buried his face in his hands, shoulders shaking with silent tears. Blair stood there, not certain what to do for him. The only other time he'd seen Jim cry was when Danny was killed. He knew Jim wasn't crying for the kid per se, but rather for the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate death.

"Jim." Blair reached out a tentative hand and touched Jim's shoulder. "It's not your fault, man. You followed procedure-- you had no way of knowing that was a kid holding the gun. C'mon, Jim--don't do this to yourself."

"He was fifteen years old," Jim gasped out, trying to control the tears.

"Yeah, and he pulled on a gun on you, for cryin' out loud. Not just pulled it, *fired* it! What're you gonna do, let someone shoot you just 'cause they're under 18?"

"You don't understand, Blair."

"No, I don't. But you could try to explain it to me." Blair sat himself down on the bed next to Jim. "I'm here for you, big guy. Talk to me."

Jim shook his head. "I don't know if I can."

"Try. Okay?" Blair reached down and grasped Jim's hand. He threaded his fingers through Jim's and gave the hand a squeeze. His heart was beating double time; he half expected Jim to yank his hand away and yell for him to get the hell out. The only response he got was a squeeze in return. Blair wished fervently that he could do something to assuage Jim's feelings of guilt and responsibility. His heart ached to see the pain his friend was going through, assuming total responsibility for the shooting. Why couldn't Jim see that the kid had been as responsible for what had happened as he'd been?

Jim remained silent, and Blair cursed himself for pushing. The doctor had told him that when Jim was ready to talk about what was bothering him, he would. Like war veterans, Jim had seen a lot of senseless death; it wasn't unusual, the psychiatrist had noted, for some particular event to trigger a reaction like this. In Jim's case, the death of the boy had been the primer, and a casual bullet fired in a convenience store robbery three days ago had been the trigger.

"Jim? It's okay if you don't want to talk, man. I think you should try to get some more sleep though, okay? I'm gonna go back to bed now; you do the same." Blair felt like he was talking to a brick wall--Jim just sat there, the only indication that he was aware of Blair being the constant pressure on Blair's hand. Blair sighed. This had to be hard on his friend--Jim was used to being in control. Except now that control had been ripped from him by a dead kid. He sighed again, and disengaged his hand. "Okay, Jim. Back to bed. I'll see you in the morning." He patted the older man's shoulder, stood up, and headed for the stairs.

"Blair--wait." Blair turned back toward Jim, but the older man was sitting with his head bowed, face in his hands again. His shoulders were set, appearing carved from stone.


"Would you--stay here?" Jim's voice was low, hoarse. He sounded pretty close to the edge. "Just...sleep in the bed...maybe another person will keep them away." 'Them', Blair knew, were the nightmares.

"I--yeah, Jim. Sure, man." Blair watched as Jim's shoulders relaxed, and he settled back into bed. Blair walked to the other side and crawled into the bed, then pulled the covers up around him. They hadn't touched hardly at all since the night Jim gave him the neck massage--the night that they responded to the hostage call. He'd been sure at the time that Jim was trying to tell him something, but then nothing else had happened, or been said. Until tonight. Jim had held on to his hand like it was a lifeline. 'Well, maybe it was,' Blair thought to himself as sleep claimed him. The last thing he remembered was a large, warm arm draping itself across his chest as he drifted into deep sleep.

The next morning Blair woke, warm and sleepy, feeling oddly rested in spite of the abrupt wake-up the night before. Not so sleepy though that he couldn't identify the hard, hot object poking into the back of his thigh. With a start he came fully awake to find a large, warm, totally asleep Jim Ellison draped around him, spooned to his back. 'Oh, god...what if he wakes up...' Jim chose that moment to mumble in his sleep, then roll over to the other side of the bed. Blair fled before Jim could wake up and realize what was happening.

He stood downstairs, hands braced against the wall of his bedroom; body hard and ready, aching from the need for release. 'I've fallen in love with him.' The thought sprang into his mind, and Blair pushed it away viciously. 'Stop that! Just because you're having a reaction like this--a hard-on doesn't mean you're in love with the guy...' He began pacing the small room, trying to be quiet so he didn't wake the sleeping man upstairs. 'No, a hard-on doesn't...but the ache in my chest when he hurts; the joy in my heart when he's happy; the feelings I have for him constantly...those *do* mean that.' Blair sighed. Just his luck to fall in love with a guy like Jim Ellison--who was warm, wonderful, good-looking, and totally straight to boot. He sighed once more then went to take a shower.


Through the fog of sleep Blair could hear the panicked gasping begin again, and rolled over to pull the larger man close against his chest. His brain slowly engaged as he woke up, and he began to make soft, soothing noises into Jim's ear. The bigger man quieted down, and his breathing slowed as he slipped back into dreamless sleep.

Blair continued to hold Jim, gently stroking the hard muscles of back and shoulders. Jim had pretty much given him carte blanche for getting him through the nightmares, and he marveled at his new ability to do this; wondering all the while what this meant in terms of a relationship between them. There was no physical intimacy, unless you counted the countless times during the night when Blair was awakened by the warning sounds of Jim's nightmare beginning, and responded by cuddling the large body close. There was intense emotional intimacy involved here though; it was called trust.

It had been almost two weeks since the first night Jim had asked him to stay; for three more nights after that first he'd gone to wake Jim from a nightmare, and ended up staying the remainder of the night curled up against him, helping to keep the demons away. A week ago Jim'd asked Blair if he wouldn't just spend the night with him, rather than have Blair have to wake up during the night. Or get up, anyway. He'd agreed, happy to help Jim in some small way, but feeling guilty too, for taking pleasure from Jim's pain. Pleasure it was too, curling up to the large warm body, pretending for a little while that he had that right.

Jim had told him after that first night Blair spent the whole night, that he hadn't felt that rested since the shooting. He'd wrapped Blair in a hug, holding him close for a moment, then smoothed Blair's hair back out of his face, and stroked a thumb down Blair's cheek before moving away. Blair had stood there, body screaming for more, not quite sure how to navigate the turns he could see coming in their future.

Blair returned to the present, pleased that Jim was quieted down, and appeared to be sleeping again. He tightened his arms around Jim, bringing him a bit closer. Jim nuzzled into him in his sleep, and Blair smiled. He closed his eyes to go back to sleep, and nearly jumped out of his skin when a sleepy voice spoke in his ear.

"You smell good, Chief."

"Um...thanks," Blair returned, unsure of how he was supposed to respond. He started in surprise when Jim slid an arm under his, and pulled him closer still; shivering with need and desire as Jim's warm, nearly-naked body pressed against his own. The Sentinel mumbled something, and Blair asked, "What?" when he couldn't make it out.

"You feel good, too." Jim's voice was heavy with sleep, and held rich, husky tones. Warm fingers gently brushed back and forth across his bare back, and Blair shivered again as the gentle touch flowed over him like warm honey. "Cold?" The warm voice sounded a little less sleepy then, and Blair wondered what was going on. Was Jim going to try to seduce him? There wouldn't be much effort on his partner's part, if that were the case.

"No..." Blair couldn't seem to make his voice work, for a change. "Go to sleep, Jim. It's gonna be morning soon, man." Blair closed his eyes and forced himself to try and relax.

That flew out the window when he felt warm, soft lips touch his gently, then cover his mouth completely.

Blair held back at first, not wanting to take advantage of Jim-- whether he was initiating or not, his friend was vulnerable. But Jim wouldn't let him just acquiesce; he wanted participation. Blair groaned as a warm tongue began probing against his lips, seeking entry to the sweetness beyond. He moaned low in his throat and opened his mouth, allowing Jim entry.

Jim growled as Blair opened to him, and he tasted the delicious warmth of the younger man's mouth. A tongue like wet, hot velvet caressed his own, and Jim shuddered under its touch. He heard the breathy little gasps and moans his Guide was making, and they reverberated inside him, echoing his own feelings.

They pulled apart eventually, when the need for air grew too great to remain together, and stared for long moments into each other's eyes.

To Blair's total surprise, rather than leaning to kiss him again, Jim buried his face in his neck and inhaled deeply, ragged breathing sounds mixing with tears. Blair held him and stroked his back, gently soothing him as this outpouring of emotion washed over both of them, knowing the tears were cathartic--and that Jim needed to do this.

The sobs stopped eventually, and Jim quieted down. Blair curled into his arms, offering comfort just by his presence, and the bigger man accepted it gratefully. It'd been days since he'd had a nightmare--mostly now he just slept with Blair in his arms, feeling as though it were the most natural thing in the world. Why he'd had one tonight was anyone's guess, but he figured it would be a while before they left him completely.

Blair's breathing had evened out, and he slept, warm and comfortable in the cradle of Jim's arms. Jim himself lay awake then, very aware of the warm body he held; of who was holding him. They were as entwined as lovers, but had shared nothing more than the one kiss, just now. This seemed more intimate, somehow. Blair had seen the need, and filled it for him. Again. Jim gently brushed a light kiss across Blair's forehead, his thoughts intense with the emotion he was feeling. 'I don't even know at what point I went from thinking of you as a friend, as my Guide; to knowing I was in love with you. But I am, and I'm going to show it to you.' The darker thoughts that this feeling engendered were left in the back of his mind; he'd deal with them later. His breathing slowed and deepened, and Jim joined Blair in undisturbed sleep.

"Do you feel like you're ready to talk yet?"

Jim looked up at Blair when the younger man set a plate of bacon and eggs in front of him, and regarded him warily. "Talk about what?"

Blair shrugged, and returned to the kitchen, emerging a moment later with the pot of coffee. "Whatever. You, the shooting, your nightmares. Us and last night." Blair'd said the last so quickly and quietly that Jim wasn't completely certain he'd heard correctly. Or rather, he knew he had--he just couldn't believe it.

"What about us?"

"Well, that's what I've been wondering." Blair poured himself a cup of coffee, and passed the pot over to Jim. He took a deep breath and raised his eyes to meet Jim's directly. "Jim, man, we've been sleeping together for over two weeks...and...Shit." Blair broke off, unsure of what he wanted to say; to ask. Or at least, how to ask it. He pushed back from the table, agitated, and began wandering around the room.

He came to rest finally in front of the patio doors, staring out at the panorama of Cascade, bathed in early morning sunshine. "I'm just wondering if there *is* an us, man. And after last night..." Blair turned to look at Jim. "I have...I'm in love with you, man. I just want to know if it's returned or not." He turned back to the window, bracing himself for whatever was coming his way.

The idea to ask this had been brewing in his mind since he woke up, totally awed at the kiss they'd exchanged last night. He'd wondered where they were going for a while now. He loved Jim--was in love with him--but he didn't know how Jim felt. Or at least, he thought he knew...but he wasn't sure. And it was driving him absolutely *nuts*. For the last two weeks, any time he looked up, Jim would be there, giving him these smoldering looks; or he'd turn a corner, and Jim would bump into him, fingers or hands lingering just a moment longer than necessary. A soft touch to his hair, a whisper against his skin in the middle of the night. He was going crazy, and he wanted some answers.

Warm arms wrapped themselves around his waist, and drew Blair back against an equally warm, solid chest. Blair sighed with pleasure and relaxed momentarily, then stiffened slightly. There was a brief pause, then a voice rumbled in his ear, "I've fallen in love with you, Chief. And it's scaring me to death."

Blair turned; surprise, joy and uncertainty shining in his eyes at the admission. "Why scared? Because it's me?"

Jim shook his head, one hand coming up to stroke at the richly colored curls. In the morning light they shone, throwing dark auburn highlights off, blending into brown. "Not you, Blair. Me."

"You?" Blair frowned, not sure what Jim was saying. "What do you mean?"

"I've never loved a man before...I'm not sure if...--what if something changes?"

Blair slipped his own arms around Jim's waist, and tipped his head back slightly to gaze into his eyes. "What do you think would change?"

"I don't know--maybe...probably...nothing. With us, anyway." There was a lot left unspoken in Jim's comment, and he finally lowered his eyes, not sure how to go on.

"You're worried about how everyone around us would react." Jim nodded, barely moving his head. Blair was surprised by that. Jim Ellison wasn't a man who typically cared what others thought of him; he did his own thing, as dictated by his own personal mores and morals, and to hell with what the status quo thought. "Well, I'll tell you, man. Just go with me here, okay, and listen. I think that first off, we don't have to tell anyone anything we're not comfortable about telling. We don't owe anyone explanations for our behavior. Last time I checked we're both over 18--and some of us are like *way* over--" Blair smiled when Jim snorted in amusement, "which means we're cool to do whatever we want, pretty much, as long as it's legal." Blair paused for a moment. "I think I can probably keep my hands to myself when we're in public, too."

At this last, Jim actually smiled. "What if I don't want you to?"

"Want me to do what?"

"Keep your hands off me in public. What if I *want* you to touch me publicly?"

Blair smiled, and shrugged his shoulders. "That's totally cool, man. Whatever you're comfortable with. If you want to touch in public, we can touch. If you don't, that's okay too. As long as we're both happy and comfortable, life is good. Okay?"

Jim pulled Blair against him, and held him. Blair could hear Jim's heartbeat beneath his cheek, a solid, steady thump. Jim's voice sounded, muffled, as though coming from far away. "I love you, Chief. God, I love you. I need you here with me, so bad..."

Blair caressed Jim's back with his hands, trying to soothe the older man. "I love you too, Jim, and you've got me for forever, if you want me that long." Whatever misgivings Blair had had about committing had vanished in the face of Jim's fears--the act of comforting him, being there when he was needed; of sensing the love directed his way, was enough. Blair knew he could never leave this man; he could sooner cut off a vital body part.

Jim pulled back just enough to tilt Blair's head up, and gaze into his eyes. Clear blue-grey met smoky blue, and each could read the promise there in the other's. Jim slowly lowered his mouth to his Guide's, eyes maintaining contact until that very last moment. Their lips brushed against each other's, parted, then met again. They exchanged short, soft kisses that slowly increased in length and intensity, until they were tasting each other fully; lips, teeth and tongues meeting and melding together.

They pulled apart, both breathing heavily. Blair leaned into Jim, savoring the warmth and strength in the other's body. He could be strong enough for both of them emotionally, but Jim could support them physically. Jim shifted his grip on Blair, and adjusted their bodies so he could taste Blair's mouth again. Gently, slowly he kissed Blair, easing the full lips open, sliding his tongue in between. Jim caressed Blair's mouth, sweeping with broad strokes of his tongue, until the younger man was moaning against his mouth, hands caressing Jim's back. Blair broke the kiss by pulling back.

"Easy, Romeo. Think we should slow down a bit?" he stared at Jim, noting the dilated pupils and flared nostrils; figured his were the same.

"It's gonna be hard," Jim said, drawing Blair close again, and nuzzling at his neck.

Blair laughed, the sound easing some of the tension. "Gonna be? I'd say it already is." He pushed his hips against Jim's, delighting in the other man's groan as hard cock came into contact with hard cock, even through several layers of cloth. "You've got me so hot for you, Jim, but I think we should take this easy. You can't tell me you're not like still kind of freaked about the whole thing."

"No," Jim admitted, "I can't. But what do you mean by 'take this easy', Chief?"

Blair moved out of Jim's embrace, and headed for the couch, pulling Jim with him. They settled down, Blair sitting up, and Jim laying down with his head in Blair's lap. Blair leaned down and gently kissed Jim, his hair falling like a silken curtain around them. Jim combed his fingers through it; then, as the kiss deepened, wrapped it around his fingers to pull Blair closer to him. After several long moments they backed off from the intensity of the kiss, pulling out of it slowly, until it ended like it had begun; a gentle, sweet press of lips on lips.

"God, Chief...what you do to me." Jim relaxed against Blair's leg, eyes closed. He could hear Blair's heart thundering in his chest, and knew the younger man was just as affected by this physical intimacy as he was.

"Mmm. I could say the same for you, about me." Blair stroked Jim's chest with one hand, and his head with the other, enjoying the feel of the short-cropped hair against his fingers. It was like crushed velvet; stiff, but soft and supple at the same time.

"About taking it easy...?" Jim was practically purring under the magical spell Blair's hands were weaving; he could feel himself rumbling in his chest.

Blair smiled. "I just think we should go slow, make sure this is right for both of us. Not that I don't think it is," he forestalled Jim's comment when the clear blue eyes snapped open; "just that we've been all in our heads about this so far; that's like way different from reality, man. How long have you been in love with me?" he asked, when he could see from Jim's face that the other man wanted to argue with him.

"I don't know. A while now."

"How long?" Blair pressed.

"Late February or maybe March, I think. Why?"

"And all that time you haven't said anything to me."

"You didn't say anything either! How long for you, Chief?" Jim figured turnabout was fair play, enjoying Blair's slight squirm.

"Just as long. See, man, that's my point. We kept it all inside, and didn't act on we need to have some middle ground. It is so *not* normal to go from being best friends to *boom!* being lovers, with nothing in between."

"You want me to court you?" Jim smiled up at Blair. What an outstanding idea!

"Yeah, man, but I want to do the same for you. I love you, Jim. I want to show you that in more ways than just with my body, you know? Sex is like...I dunno, easy for me. But the emotional commitment, the other part--I don't have a lot of experience with that. I want to make this work--it means too much to me not to. If you're game."

"So what're the rules for this?"

"No rules, man. Just taking it nice and slow. We go to Alaska in a month--we could kind of shoot for that as our know, target date."

"'Target date', huh? Do I get some target practice first?"

Blair snickered. "Sure--we can practice all you want before then. Gotta make it good, right? Seriously though, Jim, I really do think we should go slow on this. You can't tell me you're not just a little freaked by this. I know *I* am, and I've been with guys before."

Jim looked up at Blair, at those intense eyes that were boring into his; seeming to look into his soul. He could read the love there, along with trust and commitment, and knew he couldn't say anything but the truth. "No," he whispered. "I want you...god! How I want you..." Jim took Blair's hand and drew it down to cover the hard evidence of how badly he did want his partner. "But you're right--I don't think I'm ...I think I'd like a little more time." He paused, obviously wanting to ask for something, and having a hard time with it. "I'm not very good at this either, Blair. I don't know how--that's why Carolyn left me, you know. I couldn't give her the emotional support she needed." Jim swallowed down his fear of losing this man because of that. Losing Carolyn had been difficult, and painful; losing Blair would devastate him.

Blair grasped Jim's hand. "We'll do this together, man. I'm here for you...just tell me what you need."

"Promise you'll still sleep with me? While we're dating...or whatever you want to call it."

The younger man smiled tenderly at Jim. This was a new side to him; one that Blair wondered if he would have seen had Jim's defenses not been knocked out from the PTSD reaction. He decided to try and defuse a little of the intensity. "You think you're gonna be able to get rid of me, man? After all this?" His smile widened to a grin. "Leaving your bed is about the last thing I want to do, or am planning on doing." Blair could feel Jim's body sag against his in relief. He leaned down to Jim's ear and whispered, "Unless you don't stop stealing all the covers..."

Jim laughed, and grabbed Blair's head, bringing their lips into alignment for a kiss.

The kiss grew and deepened, until the two men were devouring each other. Jim left Blair's lips to taste more of Blair, lingering over his throat when the gentle nips produced loudly vocal results. Jim nipped and nibbled his way down Blair's throat, pausing to swirl his tongue enticingly across Blair's Adam's apple, then sucking gently until the younger man was groaning continuously. He pulled away then, smiling in satisfaction at the dazed look in Blair's eyes, noting the continuous changes in temperature, heart rate and respiration as Blair became focused on the world again. "I'll steal the covers anytime I want."

Blair looked at him, clueless for a moment as to what Jim was talking about. Then his brain grabbed the reference, and he began to laugh. Jim snuck another kiss, and a quick grope, then pushed himself off the couch and headed for the table, and his now-cold breakfast.


Jim sat at his desk, shuffling through the mountain of paperwork that had accumulated in the nearly four weeks he'd been off-duty. The doctor had pronounced him fit for duty again last week, and he'd spent the time since then re-qualifying with weapons training and self-defense courses. Yesterday had been his first day back to work. He told Blair that morning that he still felt a little shaky about being back to work--so many things had been changing in his world lately; his Guide had grabbed hold of him and pulled his head down for a deep, soul-searching kiss. When Blair released him finally, his world was not only changed, but spinning dizzily around him. He'd smiled and left the loft; now, three hours later a bit of a grin still played about his lips.

It had been an interesting couple of weeks; he had to admit that. Things were *almost* as tense, in some ways, as before, as he and Blair learned new things about each other. This courtship thing was a good idea, but, Jim groaned silently, it might just kill him yet.

They'd spent the first few days after their mutual declarations doing--by mutual agreement--nothing more than kissing. But some of those kisses! Lord, it was getting warm in here just remembering them. Wherever Blair had learned to kiss--from whomever--Jim felt he owed them a debt of gratitude, since Blair Sandburg was a world-class kisser.

It was an odd feeling, in some ways, to be 'courting', if such an old-fashioned word could be applied to this situation. Jim shrugged mentally--it worked as well as any other would, considering that none of the 'traditional' rules were being followed. They slept together, but weren't having sex; they were courting, but no one knew they were seeing each other; they were in love, but no one but them knew it. An odd contradiction, yet it suited them perfectly.

Them. Jim smiled thinking the pronoun had taken on a whole new meaning lately, along with words like 'our' and 'we'. They'd always been a team--it just had added dimensions now.

The heady perfume of roses made contact with his nose, and Jim looked up from his introspection to see a delivery boy over by Brown's desk. He grinned to himself. Son-of-a-gun must have finally got lucky with Kelly. He turned his attention back to the paperwork, then heard, "Ellison? He's over there." He looked up to see the delivery boy heading toward him.

A small bouquet of roses, accompanied by a small card was handed to him, then the boy made his exit. Jim stared at the rose, then opened the card with hands that were suddenly trembling. He smiled at the message printed on the card:

Hey, Romeo:

I have something special planned for us this evening. Meet me downstairs at 6:30.



Jim smiled once more at the card. A date. He began anticipating the evening, then looked at the clock. Damn! It was only 11:30am. A shadow fell over his desk, and he looked up to see Brown standing next to him.

"So, Jimmy-boy, who is she?" Brown teased gently.

"No one you know, buddy." Jim grinned broadly. "And you're not gonna, so don't ask."

"Mmm. Well, if you ever get tired of her, let me know, 'kay?"

"Sure." 'When hell freezes over.'

"Hey, Jim! What's with the roses, man?"

Blair's voice. Oh, god! What if they gave something away? What if one accidentally said something...what if... "Hey, Chief. Just a note from a friend."

Blair snorted. "Yeah? And with roses, too. Anyone I know?"

"Could be." Jim folded the paper and stuck it into his pocket. "But probably not."

Brown stood there smirking. "Okay, Sandburg--who's Jim dating? I swear we haven't seen him with a woman in months."

Blair grinned as he sat down at the desk. "I don't think it's been that long, has it? Anyway, he doesn't tell me everything. I sure don't know what woman he's dating." 'Because he's not! It's me me me me me!!!' Cheered the little imp in Blair's brain.

Brown shook his head. "And here I thought the two of you were connected at the hip or something." He turned and headed back to his own desk.

Blair kicked Jim under the desk. When the detective looked up at him, Blair grinned at him. " it too early to go to lunch? I totally forgot about breakfast, and I'm like starved, man."

Jim shook his head. "Nah, I'm hungry too. Let's go." He grabbed his coat as he stood. "Any preferences, Chief?"

"Mmm. Let's talk about it in the truck, okay?" Blair's eyes glinted, and Jim felt a spark race down his spine.

They barely made it to the truck, safely hidden behind tinted glass, before Jim grabbed Blair into his arms and kissed him. "God, I missed you," he mumbled as his lips and tongue traced a path down Blair's arched neck, and up and around his cheekbones.

" too...Man, you just saw me this morning...Ahhh!" Blair unsuccessfully tried to stifle a cry as Jim tugged on his earlobe with his teeth.

"Saw you, tasted you, touched's not enough, Chief. It's never going to be." Jim drew back slightly to gaze into Blair's eyes. Those incredible blues stared back solemnly; desire and love reflected within. Jim leaned back in toward Blair, and pressed a gentle kiss to the other man's lips. "What do you want for lunch?" he asked when he pulled away again, shifting in his seat and putting the Expedition into drive.

"I don't suppose you're offering yourself as the menu?" Blair asked hopefully, a teasing smile on his lips.

"Not right now--not when we have to be back to work in an hour." Jim grinned at him. "How about Mexican?"

Blair sighed and adjusted himself inside his jeans. "Fine--just go to the place that does the beans without using lard, okay?"

"Gotcha." Jim guided the vehicle out into traffic and they were off.

Lunch conversation was notable only for its normalcy. They talked about the usual mundane things happening in their lives right now: Jim's latest information on the bank robberies, Blair's ideas for a new test using Jim's sense of touch, the art fair that was coming to town. Jim noticed that Blair didn't make any attempt to mention the roses, or the invitation, so he agreed silently to do the same. They finished lunch, returned to the precinct, and spent the afternoon doing that most boring of all police-work: paperwork.

It was 4:30 when Blair stood up and stretched, causing his T- shirt to ride up slightly from his waistband. Jim stared at the tanned bit of stomach, lightly sprinkled with fine, dark hair, and longed to touch Blair, to follow the path of hair downward to its end...


"Huh?" he snapped back to reality when he heard the sharp tone in Blair's voice. The younger man had tugged his shirt down, and was staring at him with wide, hot eyes.

"Man, don't do this to me," Blair began in a low voice. "I'm already on edge here..." Louder he said, "I need to run a few errands--I'm gonna cut out of here, 'kay with you?"

"Sure, Chief, whatever." Jim raised a hand--blocked from anyone else's view by Blair's body--and gently touched the waistband of Blair's jeans. The other man's eyes reflected an instant increase in heat and arousal. "Got plans for this evening?"

"Yeah--goin' out on a date. Probably won't be home when you get there, so like, remember to leave a light on for me tonight, okay?"

"I'm goin' out myself, Chief, remember?" Jim tipped his head back slightly to look Blair in the eye, and casually brought the tip of his tongue out to wet his lips.

Blair nearly gasped out loud. He pulled air into his lungs, and frantically tried to remember how to form words into coherent sentences. This was getting out of control way too fast. "Oh, yeah, man. That's right. Well, I'll see you later then. Have a good time."

"You too, Chief."

Jim watched Blair moved away from the desk, and his nostrils flared at the trail of musk that followed the younger man. Thank God no one else had olfactory abilities like his...

Detective Brown looked up as Blair passed by his desk. "Have a good weekend, Sandburg. Try to find out what you can about Ellison's little honey, 'kay, man?"

"Yeah, Brown, sure," Blair answered distractedly as he left the room.

Jim stared after him, eyes slightly glazed, unseeing.

'Heaven,' Blair thought, 'was sitting in a movie theater next to Jim Ellison. Actually, sitting *anywhere* next to Jim Ellison...' He turned his head slightly to look at his friend. This was, in reality, a little more like hell. They were so close, and totally untouching. This could kill him yet. Well, they weren't *totally* untouching--Jim had his arm *almost* around him. It was resting across the back of his seat--like it had been put there casually when Jim stretched out. But Jim's fingertips were hanging down, brushing against his shoulder, and the side of his neck. Blair was nearly beside himself; it was like some exquisite form of torture. What was it Jim had said a while back? 'A mix of heaven and hell'. Yep, that fit.

They had sat in the very back row, in the corner, to get a little privacy. Still, neither man was comfortable with any obvious displays of intimacy--not yet, anyway. Not until they were more comfortable with it between themselves. Blair casually shrugged his shoulders, and leaned backward, managing to wiggle slightly into Jim's embrace. He turned his head further to face the bigger man, and they shared a secret smile.

The evening had gotten off to a great start. Blair had pulled the Corvair back into the parking garage at 6:20, and sat idly, waiting. At 6:28 Jim had appeared, resplendent in jeans and a cable knit sweater in alternating stripes of cream and navy. By mutual agreement they climbed into the Corvair, and Blair had driven up the coast a bit to a restaurant he'd been wanting to try for a while; a new seafood place.

A great dinner, and a bottle of wine; good company. Light touches exchanged--a hand placed on top of his that lingered for a moment; his gentle rubbing of a foot against Jim's calf under the cover of the table. Blair noticed that the atmosphere around them was charged with energy--sexual and otherwise. And now they were here, watching 'The Devil's Own', teasing each other further. Actually, the movie was wrapping up, the credits beginning to roll across the screen. Jim moved his arm just as the lights came up, and the two men shared another secret smile.

They exited the theater in a crush of people that thinned the further into the parking lot they walked. Blair had parked well away from the crowd on purpose--since getting the Corvair repaired from its last misfortunate episode, Blair verged on paranoia regarding his precious car. Jim enjoyed teasing him, but refrained from it tonight.

They shared each other's personal space as they walked, bumping into one another gently and not backing away. "Wanna go for a walk, Romeo?" Blair questioned in a low voice as they approached the car.

Jim smiled--apparently he'd finally received the nickname Blair had been threatening him with almost since they met. "Sure-- what'd you have in mind, Chief?"

"I was thinking beach, moonlight, in my arms..." Blair smiled up at Jim, lush lips curving seductively. Jim blinked and looked around. They were in a far corner of the parking lot, not many people around. Must be the movies had begun again... He made a quick decision, and leaned in for a brush of lips against lips, then trailed his fingers gently but suggestively across Blair's zipper before moving away.

"Sounds good. Let's go."

Blair stood next the car, feeling the tingle spread from his groin outward, his lips burning. Gods, what that man did to him! He fumbled in his pocket--his rapidly shrinking-in-size pocket!-- for the keys and unlocked the door with shaking hands.

The coastline was beautiful in the early spring evening, backlit by the full moon hovering above it. Blair drove down the highway a while until they came to one of the less public piers. Not that it would have mattered much anyway; in early to mid-April the beaches in Cascade were generally fairly empty--other than the most die-hard surfers, most people preferring it to be warmer for their water sports. The two men got out of the car and strolled down by the water.

They walked slowly and quietly, neither one feeling the need for words. After walking for about ten or fifteen minutes, Blair quietly reached for Jim's hand, and entwined their fingers. The bigger man squeezed gently, and they continued walking, hands still clasped.

"There's a ship out there," Jim said suddenly, breaking into Blair's reverie.

"I'd think so, man--it's the ocean after all."

"No, I mean there's a ship out there now."

"Right now."

"Yeah--too bad it's too far away for you to see. It's really a work of art--kind of classy looking."

"Huh." Blair snorted. Then, "What else do you see?"

Jim was silent for a long minute, then answered, "There are two whales out there--I'm not sure what species, so don't ask--and I see a couple of smaller boats. Like fishing boats."

Blair smiled. "Cool--I'll bet those are rad looking."

Jim shrugged, "They look a lot like the ones we see down at the harbor, Chief." The detective shivered then, considering what was between them and the boats. Although he was more comfortable now with the deep water than he'd been before, it still wasn't his favorite spot. "Can we sit for awhile? I'd like to hold on to you, out here in the moonlight."

"Romantic," Blair teased, and pointed to a spot nearby that was sheltered slightly by a large rock.

"Yeah, around you, babe." Jim settled himself on the sand, and pulled Blair down to him, placing him in between his legs. He wrapped his arms around Blair, and pulled the younger man back against his chest. " feel good. You smell good." Jim buried his nose in Blair's hair. "I love your hair...your scent...your taste...your feel...I love *you*..."

Blair snuggled back, content to just be held. " *are* a romantic, aren't you? 'Romeo' fits." He placed his hands over Jim's where they were clasped in front of him. "Do you...ever miss...Carolyn?"

Jim grew very still behind him, and Blair wondered if he shouldn't have asked that.

"No... I regret that our marriage ended the way it did, but we seemed to be better friends afterward, so maybe it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe I was waiting for the right person to come along. Why?" He squeezed Blair, hugging him tightly to him. Blair sighed.

"I just wondered. Call it insatiable curiosity, man. I mean, you two like, seemed so close and all--"

"We were friends after the divorce freed us up to be; you and I were better friends before any ...other... feelings popped up than she and I *ever* were." Blair tipped his head back and rested it on Jim's shoulder. The bigger man leaned in toward him, nuzzling at his neck and ear. "Besides, Chief," Jim whispered into Blair's ear as his tongue played with the silver hoops there, "you've got a cuter ass than she could ever hope to have."

Blair leaned forward, choking and sputtering with laughter. "Oh, man, that like got me *so* out of the mood," he gasped, when he could finally speak again. "Here you were bein' all romantic, and you go and say that..." Blair dissolved into helpless gales again while Jim stared at him in open amusement.

"Glad you think it's funny, Blair," he said mildly. "I was actually being serious..."

"Yeah, right, man." Blair snorted with barely suppressed laughter.

"I *was*!" Jim huffed in mock indignation. "Want me to prove it?" He reached a hand down and gently caressed Blair's thigh.

"Oh, do I ever..." Blair twisted in his arms and their mouths met.

The kiss started off soft and gentle, lips pressing against lips. It grew and deepened as Blair assumed the role of aggressor, pushing Jim back onto the soft sand, forcing Jim's mouth open with his own. Their tongues slid across each other, circling the moist caverns, exploring and tasting. It was a heady mix of sensory input for Jim; the grainy bits of sand under him contrasted sharply with Blair's hard softness pressing down on him. Blair's tongue slid across his again, pausing to engage his own in a delicious duel, and Jim decided that Blair must be what heaven tasted like, because he couldn't conceive of anything tasting better. Blair pulled away from Jim's mouth--with considerable effort--and trailed a string of kisses across the broad planes of his face over to Jim's ear. He rimmed the ear, then blew gently into it, and delighted in the squirming shudder that raced down Jim's frame.

"You're evil," Jim whispered, head tipping to one side as Blair took long tastes of his Sentinel, tongue sweeping across neck and ear lobe.

"You wouldn't want me any other way, Ellison. Admit it."

Jim shuddered again in reply, then moved, flipping Blair over. He pressed the younger man under him, and claimed his mouth for a brief, but fiery kiss. "I can't believe we're out here, necking and petting like teenagers," he stated as his fingers skimmed over Blair's body. His partner arched into the almost non-touch, trying to catch the fleeting fingers.

"'Necking and petting'?" Blair gasped in delight. "Man, I forget you're nearly a different generation..." *That* earned him a sharp bite at the juncture of neck and shoulder, and he gasped again, then smiled. "Touchy about our age, are we?"

"Keep on, Junior, and I'll leave you here like this to suffer," Jim muttered in a mock-threatening tone.

Blair snorted and grinned in disbelief. "Uh-huh. Like I'm gonna believe *that* one?" He wiggled underneath Jim, pressing his body upward.

Jim smiled at him, then decided to tease a bit more--see how much Blair could handle. Of course, who was teasing whom here? The feel of Blair's body under his was maddening...and he questioned--briefly--their decision to wait. The warm, hungry body under his wiggled again, and Jim sat up decisively. He moved backward a bit, until he was stretched out along Blair's legs, still nearly atop him, but down further. He untucked Blair's shirt from the waistband of his jeans, gently caressing the soft skin there with his fingertips.

"Uh, Jim--what are you doing?" Blair craned his head to see what his friend was up to.

"Shh--trust me, okay? You're gonna like this."

"That's what I'm afraid of..." Blair muttered as he settled back. He felt the hem of his shirt being pushed up, exposing a small section of stomach, and tensed slightly. What in the heck was Jim going to do?

Jim pushed Blair's shirt up slowly, taking care to kiss each new inch of skin bared to his hot gaze. Blair's stomach was slightly tanned, and covered with fine, dark hairs that grew more densely together the further up Jim explored. He watched in fascination for a moment as the muscles in Blair's stomach flexed, tensing and relaxing according to where he kissed. He ran his tongue across the ridges created by Blair's ribs, delighting in the shudders that racked the younger man.

His lover moaned above him as Jim danced his tongue back downward, delving into the shadowy recesses of Blair's navel. Back upward, this time nuzzling with his nose instead, taking care to explore thoroughly how each portion of skin smelled, as corresponding to taste. Jim arrived back at the ridges, and sucked on the skin directly beneath the first ridge, working his way across Blair's ribs to his sides. Then he started over, moving up with caresses alternating between tongue sweeps and nipping kisses.

Blair rolled his head back and forth, mind in shut-down mode over this delicious torture. What would the rest of it be like, if Jim could affect him like this with just kisses and caresses? He moaned low in his throat again as Jim raised his shirt further and gently drew a nipple into his warm mouth. Blair pulled back quickly, panic etched on his face and evident in his voice. "Oh, man...we gotta stop! I can't take much more, Jim--you're gonna have me coming in my pants in a minute." He sat upright, heart pounding and breath coming in ragged pants as he stared up at his friend. "You're like, way too good at this. I've never been seduced so well before."

Jim smiled, pleased with himself. "You're welcome, I'm sure," he said, grinning. He tried to ignore the throbbing in his groin--time enough for that later. This was for them to get comfortable with each other. Although he had to admit, he was feeling pretty damned comfortable having Blair in his arms, and writhing beneath him.

Those thoughts occupied him for most of the trip back home.

The loft was quiet, lit only by the solitary light over the sink, when the two men stumbled in an hour later. They hadn't realized how far they'd driven earlier in the evening, nor how long they'd lain on the beach, teasing each other. It was nearly one am now, and both were exhausted.

They took their turns in the bathroom, and quickly headed upstairs. Jim turned the covers down while Blair undressed, then quickly stripped off himself. By tacit agreement they left their boxers on--that last step of intimacy to be breached would come later.

"'Night, Chief," Jim mumbled sleepily as he rolled onto his side to spoon up behind Blair, a heavy arm coming across to cuddle Blair to him.

"'Night, Jim. Sweet dreams," Blair responded, snuggling back into Jim's solid warmth. He closed his eyes thinking that any dreams he had while in Jim's arms would be sweet indeed--and hoped Jim's were the same.

In his dream Jim was stroking him, hand sliding back and forth along the heated shaft of his cock. Blair arched into the hand, and it tightened around him, pumping faster. Warm lips touched the side of his neck, his ear, his throat, his mouth; he opened his mouth and welcomed the thrusting tongue...

With a start Blair woke up and realized that he'd been dreaming, but it was really happening, too. Jim's hand was wrapped around his cock, pumping him. He groaned and arched into that hand, too wrapped up in sensation to think of why they'd wanted to wait for anything more than kissing and light caresses. The teasing from last night had nearly been more than his body could handle, without fulfillment of some sort; now he was getting that--and although a hand job was a far cry from what he *really* wanted, it would do. The hand sped up, and those warm lips sought his again. Blair responded, rolling slightly toward Jim, opening his mouth for him. Jim sucked on his tongue, and brought his other hand up to tease at Blair's nipples, darting back and forth from one to the other, pinching and caressing. Blair reached down and drew Jim's swollen cock from his shorts, and began stroking with slow, firm strokes; gathering the pre-ejaculate onto the tip of his finger and rubbing it into the heated flesh to smooth his way.

Jim groaned into Blair's mouth as his partner's hand began stroking him. He'd been so close last night, he'd nearly taken him on the beach, right there in public. He thrust his hips against the hand that was closed around him, trying to attain maximum friction. Blair's tongue was sliding down his throat now, licking over his Adam's apple, teasing the sensitive spot behind his ear. "Blair... god, baby...don't...I can't..."

The combination of sensations was too much, and he went into sensory overload, bucking his hips as his orgasm overtook him. His thick creamy liquid splattered over Blair's hand and on both their stomachs. Jim gathered some up on his fingers, and used it to lube Blair's cock as he stroked him. Blair clutched Jim's shoulders and pumped himself into the hand grasping him, feeling his own orgasm building. He gave a wordless cry and thrust hard against the hand holding him, spending himself in long hot pulses.

They both flopped onto their backs, staring at each other, eyes wide with surprise, and hot with still-present desire.

With a groan Blair curled himself into Jim's arms. "That wasn't enough," he said quietly. "I want more--I want you."

"I know, Chief," Jim said, stroking Blair's hair soothingly. "Soon, remember? Only two more weeks."

"Yeah. Only." Blair responded with a sigh as he began nuzzling Jim's chest. "It was my idea, I should be able to handle this better. I'm an adult after all--"

"An adult who has a bad case of blue-balls, if you're feeling at all like I am," Jim responded with a wry grin. "Let's just hope the next couple of weeks go quickly."

"Yes," Blair agreed fervently. "The quicker the better."


"Hey, you know...we should get a bigger tent." Jim had the sporting-goods store catalogue open in front of him, and had been paging through it for hours. He was sitting at the end of the couch, and Blair was stretched out, feet in Jim's lap. They'd been there most of the afternoon, just watching the game and relaxing. Finals were over, and Jim didn't have much on his case load for the moment, so they were enjoying the moment.

Blair opened his eyes. "You think?"

"Yeah--unless you want to sleep by yourself for two weeks... Sandburg," his tone dropped to a warning growl when Blair's toes began a little exploring.

"Yes?" A mischievous grin, one that Blair knew Jim had trouble resisting.

"Stop *now*, or I won't be responsible for my actions." Jim closed his eyes against the feel of Blair's toes stroking up and down the rigid length behind his fly.

"Who says I want you responsible?"

"Tents, Sandburg. Think *tents*," Jim ground out.

"I am." He gave one last stroke along the hard length, flashed Jim another one of those grins, then relented and sat up. "Okay, lemme see." The younger man leaned over the catalogue, and very suddenly found himself lying on his back on the couch again, with an extremely aroused James Ellison pressing into him.

"Teasing's not *nice*, Sandburg. Especially teasing a cop who's been perpetually horny for a month now." Jim lowered his head and attacked Blair's mouth; sucking, nipping and licking there before moving lower to repeat the process on the soft skin of his partner's neck.

Blair moaned and arched into Jim's mouth. Oh, god...the feel of those teeth scraping along his neck was enough to make him want to tear Jim's clothes off and...

"Tents, Jim, remember?" he pulled back, breathing hard and heavy.

Ellison let his partner go, and sat back tugging at his jeans. "Yeah, I remember. *You* remember that, in case you want to tease again."

"Hey, man--I tease you, I tease me. You think I'm walking around like this for no reason?" Blair gestured to his very obvious hard-on. "Five more days, man. Five more."

Jim shuddered at the thought of how the first twenty-four, hell make it forty-eight, hours were going to be spent, then drew a deep breath. "We need to get out of here, and out in public. We can't attack each other there."

"Right." Blair shifted up and off the couch and reached for his shoes. "Tents?"


"How much room do you want, anyway?"

Blair and Jim were standing in the sporting-goods store looking at the tents for sale, trying to figure out how big of a tent to get.

"I like room to move around. I've given up on being able to stand fully up-right in one, but I do like to be able to shift around, and not feel cramped."

"I don't see why the four-man tent wouldn't be big enough."

"Probably would be, if all we were going to have in it was us and our bedding. Add to that our other equipment, supplies, and fishing starts to get a little crowded."

"Yeah, I see your point, man. Still, get a load of the price tag on that sucker."

Jim shrugged. "I don't mind paying it if I'm comfortable."

Blair rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Jim. You want the six-man then, or eight?"

Jim moved back and forth between the two, trying to decide. "Want the one with the divided rooms?"

"What, so we can sleep in separate areas?" Blair grinned at him.

"Smart-ass. No, so we *don't* have to sleep with the cook stove, fishing poles, et cetera."

"Like I said, Jim, whatever. You decide. Me, I just want," Blair looked around and dropped his voice to a whisper only a sentinel would hear, "a place where I can throw you down and fuck your brains out."

The younger man looked up to see Jim staring at him with hot eyes.

"C'mere," Jim grabbed his arm and dragged him into the tent in question--the one with divided rooms.

"Wha-- Jim!" Blair bit down on his protest, not wanting to draw attention to them.

Jim pulled the zipper on the tent divider down, then pulled Blair roughly into his arms and claimed his mouth in a fiery kiss.

Blair moaned softly into Jim's mouth as the older man ran his hands down Blair's chest, pausing to pinch his nipples through the T-shirt; hard little nubs already peaked with excitement, begging for a touch.

Ellison reluctantly pulled away from his lover, body shouting for him to throw him to the floor and take what was his. "God, you drive me crazy, you know that? I want you so bad I can hardly think...see...anything. I've never felt this for anyone before, Blair. Never."

"I haven't either," the younger man said, clinging tightly to Jim's waist. "You mean so much to me that I don't even know where to separate the pieces, how to separate you from me."

"Don't then. Don't try--let's be the pieces that complete the whole picture--the picture of us."

"God, I love you, Jim."

"Mmmm...I love you too, Chief," Jim nuzzled Blair's hair for a moment longer, then shifted the younger man out of his arms. "Ready to go back out there?"

"Yeah." Blair gave him a smile. "I think I can handle it now."

Jim returned the smile, and followed Blair out the tent. The salesman was hovering nearby, obviously wondering why they'd gone to.

"Did you find one that you like?"

"Yeah," Jim jerked his thumb at the tent they'd just exited. "That one seemed to work. We'll take it."

Blair cracked up.

"Oh, my god." "Oh, *man*."

Spoken together, synchronously, like their hearts beat.

In spite of his fear of heights, and the fact that he'd seen mosquitoes larger than this plane, even Blair had his nose pressed against the window of the tiny plane in order to view the beautiful landscape before them.

Both men were tired; it'd been a long day of traveling, starting with getting up at 2:30 a.m. in order to make a 4:00a.m. flight. Simon had crashed at their place on the couch so he'd *be* there, and wouldn't have to get up any earlier than he was having to do already. For the first night in nearly six weeks, Jim and Blair slept in separate beds. They weren't ready to share their relationship with anyone yet--not even Simon. Maybe, they'd decided, after the vacation, when they would be relaxed and refreshed. Still, it made for a lonely night--what little of it there was. Consequently, neither man was very rested when the alarms went off.

But this...this...panoramic view spread out in front of them made it all worth it. Blair sat back from the window, and squeezed Jim's thigh briefly. They'd both napped on the flight from Cascade to Anchorage, then briefly on the flight from Anchorage to Fairbanks. In Fairbanks they'd gotten on their charter plane, a little single engine, six-seater that held them, the pilot, and their gear. The charter would take them to Noatuk National Preserve and Lake Ahnoghon. It was a four-hour flight. Blair figured that by the time they reached the lake and the campsites, got their stuff set up and settled, they'd have been up and traveling for a little over twenty-eight hours.

"Almost there," the pilot called back to them. "You can see the ranger's station from here."

Blair looked at Jim, who nodded confirmation.

"I can't wait to get settled," Blair whispered to his partner. "I'm tired, hungry and horny, and I want to take care of all three, not necessarily in that order."

Jim's reply was a wide grin.

"I radioed the ranger, and he knows you're here; if you have any problems, use the portable radio you were given at the air field. The station is about four miles north-east of here; close enough, considering it's Alaska, but still too far to just run for help."

Both men nodded and paid close attention to the last minute instructions the guide gave them. Then he waved goodbye, and was off. Fifteen minutes later when even the Sentinel couldn't hear the plane, Jim turned to Blair, a huge smile breaking on his face.

"Let's get the campsite set up before we pass out from exhaustion."

Blair smiled. "You just want to know it's ready so you can take me in and ravish me."

"Well, that's true enough, but we should have it set up--it'll get dark here, eventually."

The fresh air was exhilarating, Blair decided, as he stood in the middle of the wilderness and breathed deeply. This was a perfect place to begin--or add to--a perfect relationship. Jim was right--they did fit together, two pieces completing the puzzle. He opened his eyes with a happy sigh, and took his jacket off. It was chilly, but he knew that after a little while of moving about, getting camp set up, he'd be warm.

They set up camp in an hour amidst several rounds of tent and pole jokes. They chose a spot very near to the lake so they wouldn't have to go far for drinking water or for fishing; although Jim still insisted they were going to have to try fishing in the river that wound through the mountains and emptied into the lake.

Blair arranged their bedding inside the tent while Jim got some firewood together and built a fire. Soon they had a nice little blaze going, and coffee and some hiker's rations bubbling in a pot on the cooking-rack.

Jim sat down and propped his back against a log he'd dragged over, and Blair settled in between his legs. They sat there for some time, just enjoying the quiet and fresh air, drinking coffee.

"Didja want to do anything today?" Blair asked finally in a sleepy voice, drowsy from the fire and the contentedness he was feeling.

"Nah, not particularly. I was thinking of taking you to bed," Jim smiled down at Blair when the younger man tilted his head back, "but I'm not sure I'd be good for anything other than sleep right now."

"Well, Romeo, you could still take me to bed. Since we haven't done anything in bed together so far *but* sleep, there's nothing wrong with that. Besides," Blair paused to yawn hugely, "I'm pretty wiped too. It's been a long day, or whatever it's been."

"Great. Let's do it, then." Jim gently pushed Blair up, then rose himself and put the fire out. Blair had already gone into the tent by the time he was finished, so he wiped his hands, kicked his boots off in the 'outer' room, and went inside.

His Guide was lying under the covers of their bed--which consisted of one thermal insulated sleeping bag zipped on top of another--eyes already drooping.

"Hey, I thought you were going to wait for me?" Jim began unbuttoning his shirt.

"Yeah, but I wanted to get comfy so I could watch you strip." Blair smiled a teasing little smile.

"Thought you were tired."

"I am. But tired is *not* the same as dead, man, and I'd have to be dead to not want to look at you."

Jim's heart flipped over. "I love you."

"Ditto, man. I love you so much it hurts sometimes. Hurry up," Blair patted the bed beside him. "I want you in here by me."

Jim hastily finished stripping off his clothing until he was down to his boxers. "On or off?" he asked his partner as he hooked his fingers in the waistband.

Blair raised an eyebrow. "What do *you* think, Romeo?"

Jim stripped the shorts off.

He shuddered in pleasant surprise when Blair drew the covers back for him to climb in, and found a warm, naked body waiting for him. He stroked his hand down Blair's chest, and shivered in response to Blair's low, breathy moan as his fingertips grazed nipples that were already peaked from excitement and anticipation.

Jim drew Blair up onto his knees against him, so that they knelt facing each other. The kiss took them by surprise; gentle to start, growing in intensity and strength. They devoured each other's mouths, feeling the strain of weeks of holding back, the allure of total consummation at last.

Fingers whispered upon skin, drawing heat out wherever they touched, sending it back in much the same manner. Blair's hands moved in a restless pattern across Jim's chest, stroking the hard abs and pecs, tactily admiring and worshipping the tight nipples. Jim's fingers combed through the tangle of hair covering Blair's chest, teasing at the nubs hidden there, moving down to stroke the muscles of Blair's stomach and abdomen.

In the gentle light of late afternoon they explored each other using all means at their disposal: teeth, lips, tongue, fingers; Jim enhanced his exploration with his senses; Blair, just through his love for Jim.

Jim returned his mouth to cover Blair's, and delighted in the groan of pleasure that emerged from his Guide. He opened his lover's mouth with his tongue, probing gently until he felt his caresses being answered. They played together that way for some time until one of Jim's hands began stroking the side of Blair's face and neck, and his Guide's head fell backward, exposing the line of throat for his perusal.

A low growl came from Jim as he lowered his head and began nibbling on Blair. Breathy moans resulted as he bit, then sucked a trail up the beautiful throat that was bared to him.

"Oh, *yesssss*....ohohohoh, God, Jim..." Blair rolled his head further back, moaning louder now as Jim kissed each stinging mark, then licked it in turn. He pushed the younger man backward gently, urging him to lie on the sleeping bags again, groaning as Blair spread himself out for his view. "I'm yours, lover, take me. I want you, Jim...need you...oh, yeah..." Blair arched upward toward him as Jim's hungry mouth found a hard nipple and latched on.

"God," Jim felt the word pulled from him as he backed away slightly. He was about *this* close to coming, just from the sounds Blair was making, and the sight and taste of him. He filled Jim, surrounded him. "Oh, god, baby...I want you..." The big man began moving downward, sucking, licking, kissing, tasting each inch of delicious skin. Blair's navel beckoned him then, a small shadowy recess; Blair bucked upward, a high-pitched-- giggle?--that turned to a moan of pleasure when Jim dipped his tongue in for a taste.

The further down Blair's body he traveled, the stronger the scent of his Guide. Jim gently nosed through Blair's pubic hair, tasting and smelling the sweat, salt and arousal there; tasted the bitter flavor of pre-ejaculate from the straining, weeping cock that caught his attention. He mouthed the balls that were laying there so temptingly, then moved his mouth upward and licked the hard length of Blair's erection, before taking it deep into his mouth.

His Guide's hips came off the ground, and a scream of delight tore from Blair's throat, "oh, yesyesyesyes*YES*, Jim...oh, god lover, yes...yes...", and Jim's mouth was flooded with the bitter taste of Blair's semen. He gagged slightly, and swallowed as much as he could before pulling back, releasing Blair.

"I'm sorry," the younger man whispered to him; "I couldn't hold back when...that was way too intense."

"God, Blair, don't apologize..." Jim raised himself up to kiss Blair, and the younger man's eyes widened at the taste of himself on Jim's lips. "You're not the only one here quick on the mark." Jim gestured to himself, and Blair's frown turned into a smile.

"You came? Just from--you know," Blair gestured toward himself.

"I came when you screamed, baby. Just the noises you made-- knowing I was causing them." The older man lay back on the sleeping bags and pulled Blair close to him. "Let's get some sleep, and see what else we're up for later, huh?"

"'Up for'? God, that's bad, Jim."

Ellison rolled his eyes. "So's reading something into an innocent little comment like that."

"Innocent, my ass," was the quick reply.

"Yeah, well, your ass is mine, Sandburg, *after* I've had some sleep."

"Promises, promises," Blair snickered drowsily.

"I'll always keep 'em," Jim threatened playfully, his own voice sleepy.

They were asleep a few minutes later.

Jim woke to a tongue bath. It started somewhere around his neck, and the sensuous, broad sweeps extended down to his navel. He wiggled when Blair poked his tongue *into* his navel, and felt his stomach convulse slightly at the ticklish sensation.

"Hey, lover," his partner sat up to kiss him, an activity that consumed several minutes. Both men were breathing heavily when the separated.

"Whew, Sandburg. All that, and we never even fed you."

"No, but you can..." Blair wiggled his eyebrows lecherously, and Jim laughed.

He sobered instantly when Blair trailed a questing finger down his swollen cock. "I still want you, Jim. I want to feel you throbbing inside me...moving, leaving part of yourself in me."

Jim drew his breath in sharply at Blair's words. His voice had trailed off as he spoke, until he was whispering; all that had served to do was increase the impact. He shuddered as they made contact with the still-coherent portion of his brain, and he realized what Blair was saying to him.

"Fuck me, Jim. I want you...need you to." Blair put a finger under Jim's chin and tilted his head up, lowering his own head for another kiss.

They melded and merged with each other, kisses becoming a conduit for heat that was passed back and forth. Hunger of a kind neither one had ever known surged to the front, consuming their consciousness, consuming *them*. Blair rose over Jim, straddling his body, managing never to break the kiss. He lowered himself so that he was lying atop Jim, moving his body sensuously along the bigger man's, making sure to rub his cock against the other man's. The groan of animal need that rose up from Jim made Blair's stomach clench; he felt the same primal urges rushing through him.

Jim cupped Blair's ass in his hands and began kneading the soft cheeks, pressing and squeezing, caressing. He began to gently probe the cleft between them with a finger, and started in surprise when Blair pushed back against him. His finger rubbed gently around the sensitive skin of the anus, and he dipped in slowly, hearing the moan that Blair was trying control.

"Let it go, baby," he whispered against his lover's lips. "I want to see you...let it go, let me do it."

"Oh, god, Jim...touch me...yeah, like that, it..." Blair shivered as Jim's finger stroked around the outside of his hole, rubbing gently against it, the barest tip probing inside. "Here, let me help..." Blair brought Jim's hand up to his mouth and sucked his fingers, wetting them.

Jim smiled, grateful. He'd forgotten momentarily about the need for lubrication; now, with his fingers wet with Blair's own saliva he began probing at the small opening in earnest; noting how Blair arched his back as he worked one finger inside. He shuddered under Blair as the younger man's hot body surrounded that finger, and for a moment almost lost his control as he imagined that heat surrounding his cock. A growl rose up as he pictured the image all too well, and he began gently thrusting the finger in and out, watching Blair match his motions; riding his finger.

"That's it, baby...oh, Blair, god you're beautiful..." the words tumbled out at the sight of Blair moving above him, head flung back. He fumbled beside the sleeping bag for the Astroglide he belatedly remembered bringing, and managed to locate it. He pulled his finger from Blair, eliciting a groan of frustration from the younger man. "Easy, sweetheart...I'm gonna take care of you..." Jim muttered as he opened the lube.

Blair took that opportunity to scramble onto his hands and knees, presenting his ass to Jim. The older man groaned looking at Blair, open and willing, waiting for him. He lubed two fingers, and moved up behind his partner, stroking gently. Blair groaned low in his throat and pushed back against Jim's hand. The sight of his fingers sliding in and out of that body was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen, and Jim's hand trembled briefly as he struggled again for control.

He worked a third finger into Blair, taking care to open him slowly, gently; his lover guiding him as always with words and soft movements. Three fingers in, and Jim slid up along Blair's back, pressing soft kisses along the sweaty skin.

"Jim, oh man, take me, please...I need...I need to feel you inside me..." Blair moaned when he felt Jim's teeth on the skin of his neck. "Please..."

"I'm here, baby...easy..." Jim took a deep breath, and pressed himself up against Blair, praying for the strength to control himself.

The younger man shuddered and growled when he felt Jim's cock move against him, seeking entrance. He pushed himself backward, meeting the gentle forward thrust, and gasped as he felt Jim slide into him. "Yessss...." he hissed, as the pleasure/pain swept through his body. "Oh, god, yes..." He flexed his muscles, contracting himself around Jim, and heard the other man's moan of pleasure echo his own.

Jim held himself totally still in the hot, tight channel; he was afraid to move because he was afraid one motion would be the end of him. He could feel Blair's body pulsing around his own throbbing flesh; like hundreds of tiny fingers massaging him. The scent that rose into the air was one of heat, sweat and musk- -the smell of sex--overlaid with other less definable odors; Jim preferred to think of those as the scent of love. He gently pressed his Guide down flat onto the sleeping bag, and began moving in the slick heat, slowly stroking in and out, feeling the heat within himself and Blair beginning to build.

Jim could trace his orgasm building as the fluid slowly began to travel through his balls, and up through his cock, as his body gathered heat intensive enough to provide thermo-nuclear meltdown. Under him, Blair was moaning continuously, crying his name; clutching at the covers and grinding his pelvis against the ground. He began to move a little faster.

"Fuck me, Jim...oh god, take me...oh god, oh, God...oh *GOD*...yes, like that lover, yesyesohyesohhhh..." the final jumble of words ended in a shriek and Blair's body clenched furiously around Jim's as he released his seed in hot spurts against his belly.

Jim felt his cock get even harder, and he slammed into Blair with all the force he could muster; holding still then, body straining as he pumped his cream into his lover. Release was a hot, intense rush that had built slowly, and culminated at a fast and furious pace. A cry broke from his lips then, wordless but for one, "Blaaaaaaair....!"

His arms gave out after that, trembling from the force of the orgasm, and the aftershocks of finally consummating--cementing-- the joining with his Guide, and he collapsed, rolling to his side as he did so. Blair lay spooned to him, panting quietly, trying to recover as well.

"Oh my god, that was *intense*," were the first words Blair was able to manage. Jim felt a smile break across his face.


"That's all you're gonna say?" the younger man twisted his head around to peer at his Sentinel. "You looked wiped, man."

"Yeah." Again, the goofy grin spread.

Blair smiled. "I love you, Jim."

"Love you, Blair," Jim mumbled as his eyes closed and he fell asleep.

They both slept then, straight through until the next morning; waking still joined, bodies ready to pleasure one another again.

Jim and Blair spent the next two weeks thoroughly enjoying themselves. They hiked, fished, and went for long walks around the lake, holding hands. Even though they were approaching the period of longest daylight for Alaska, they went to bed every night around eight, and spent the night hours loving each other, learning anew all about the other one.

They didn't confine their lovemaking just to "night-time" either, and Blair laughingly told Jim that if they added up all the hours they spent in the sack, it probably nearly equaled at least one week of their time up there. Jim laughed and said that's what vacations--and honeymoons--were for.

Toward the end of their second week the ranger stopped by to visit for a while. He told them he'd been by once or twice before, but they were either gone, or otherwise occupied--the tent had been closed up in either case, and he'd decided not to bother them. Jim flushed, and told Blair later that he had no recollection of hearing anyone walking around their campsite; Blair replied that he'd probably been a little preoccupied at the time.

Blair and the ranger spent some time swapping recipes, when the other man confessed that a "tour of duty" for the area was three months, and he was tired of cooking the same thing all the time. Jim grinned through the exchange, thanking god that he didn't have a job that would subject him to his own cooking for three months at a time.

When the two weeks were up they were ready to head back to work. Nice as the time alone was, both were beginning to get itchy to do something again; in Jim's case he'd been off-duty for a month, and barely back on again, before leaving. They packed up their gear, then sat down next to the empty fire-pit, Blair seated as usual between Jim's legs; waiting for the charter plane.

"I think I'll be glad to get back," Jim remarked casually, as he stroked Blair's curls.

"I will too, man. Mmmm...that feels good," he added as the caresses extended to a gentle scalp massage. "I really had a good time up here--more than we'd figured when we originally planned this, huh. But it'll be nice to get back home."

"Let's make your room into an office when we get back, okay?" Jim slid his arms around Blair, and pulled him back against him. "I want you to move all your stuff upstairs this week, all right?"

"Mmhmm." Blair snuggled back. The day had turned cool, and he was glad that Jim threw off a lot of body heat. "You feel good, Romeo."

"So do you, Chief." Jim cocked his head, listened intently for a moment. "The plane's coming. Oughta be here shortly." Sure enough, a few minutes later they could see it--barely--a silver speck against the horizon.

Both men climbed to their feet. The vacation was over.


They'd been back from the Great Outdoors, as Jim jokingly referred to their vacation, for two weeks. Two weeks to get back into the rat race and allow the tension that accompanied most days to slowly seep back into their lives. Jim carried a heavier load than usual, since he was still dealing with some residuals of the PTSD, and the lines on his face reflected the workload. Blair knew his lover was coiled tighter than a tension-spring, and set about devising a plan to help relieve Jim of some of that. He had the perfect scenario in mind; he just needed a chance to implement it...

He got his chance a couple of days later, when Jim called him at his office at the University, where he'd gone to look up some things for the ever-growing thesis, to say he'd be running late. Simon had scheduled a last minute meeting with an FBI guy who was also working to apprehend the bank robber who'd been plaguing Cascade. Blair hung up the phone with a "Yes!", and hurried out of his office.

It was a little after seven now, and Blair knew Jim would be home shortly; government types were pretty stuffy about working too late. He glanced at the clock again, then went to check on the Fisherman's casserole in the oven--a recipe that one of the rangers at the park in Alaska had given him. He checked one last time to be sure that everything was ready in the bathroom; all he'd have to do would be run the water, and light the candles. He took a seat on the couch and waited for Jim's arrival.

He didn't have to wait long; Jim arrived about five minutes later, just as the timer was pinging on the stove that dinner was ready. His partner-turned-lover greeted him with a tired smile and a long kiss. "I hate FBI agents," was his comment as he toed his shoes off at the door.

Blair managed with a straight face, "I'm fine dear, and how was your day?"

Jim made a face at him, then smiled. "Fine up until about 4:30. How are you, Chief? Get anything done today?"

"A lot of work on the dissertation, man. Hey, dinner's ready-- sit down, okay?"

Jim sniffed the air. "Smells good? Cod?"

Blair nodded as he handed Jim the plates. He retreated to the kitchen and returned with the hot dish. "Among other things. It's that recipe for Fisherman's casserole. The one that the ranger gave me."

Jim nodded, then helped himself. It smelled great, and he was starved.

Ellison sat back in his chair and looked at Blair. "Guess I get kitchen detail, huh."

Blair nodded, a small smile teasing at his lips. "Yeah--and while you do that, I have a surprise for you I'm gonna get ready."

Jim raised an eyebrow. "Surprise? What surprise?"

"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it." Blair pushed his chair back from the table and stood up; Jim followed suit, then grabbed Blair into his arms.

"C'mon, baby... What's the surprise?" Jim bent down and nuzzled Blair's ear.

Blair gently pushed him away. "You'll find out in a little bit. Go do the dishes, man."

Jim groaned, but began clearing the table. Blair disappeared down the hall, and although the bigger man kept his hearing trained on his Guide, he couldn't tell for sure what he was doing.

Twenty minutes later Blair opened the bathroom door and called to Jim, "Okay, big guy--I'm ready for you." Jim muttered under his breath as he headed for the bathroom. He could smell the candle wax, and some other elusive scents that he wasn't familiar with. He opened the door, and the fragrant steam enveloped him like a lover's embrace. He shuddered in pleasure at the feel of the hot, damp air on his sensitive skin, caressing him.

"C'mon, babe... Don't zone out on me now," Blair tugged on Jim's arm, and pulled him the rest of the way into the smallish room. He shut the door behind them, and the room closed in, like arms tightening around them. "I'm glad you had the original tub replaced with this one," Blair said as he began to undo Jim's shirt. He referred to the large--oversized, in fact--porcelain bathtub that Jim had had installed shortly after purchasing the loft. He'd told Blair he'd bought it *because* it was so big--it allowed plenty of room for his larger frame to relax in. "More maneuvering room," Blair finished.

"That was the idea, Chief," Jim replied absently as he shrugged his shirt off his shoulders. He couldn't get past the *atmosphere* of this room. The steam, the fragrance, the... He looked around in awe at the literally dozens of candles Blair had lit and set around; small flames burning brightly, reflecting in the mirrors over the vanity and on the door. At least one of them was scented, and now that he'd smelled it for a bit longer, he thought he detected sandalwood. The tub was full of steaming water, and as he watched, Blair poured a vial of something into it. "What's that?" His hands continued to automatically undress himself, and pushed his slacks down over muscular thighs and legs. Blair paused to watch in admiration before answering.

"Valerian. Extracted, made into an oil. Very good for soothing, relaxing...for massaging. Come on, babe, your tub's gonna be cold if you don't get a move on." Blair pushed his damp curls back from his face and turned to help Jim finish undressing. He skimmed his hands down the flat stomach to get a hold of Jim's boxers, then managed to touch Jim's genitals all the way down as he pulled the shorts off. Jim shuddered.

The older man stepped into the tub, and sank into the steaming water with a sigh of pleasure. He noted with interest the thick bath towels scattered on the floor, and gestured to them. "What're these for?"

"Insurance against a wet floor, man," Blair responded. "Now lay back and relax. Yeah, like that." The younger man stripped off his own shirt, then knelt beside the tub. He picked up a small bottle, and poured some oil into his hands, rubbing to warm it up. He reached for Jim's foot, and began to rub gently, gaining strength when Jim seemed okay with this. Some people's feet were unbearably ticklish, and he wanted to make sure Jim didn't fall into that category. This was supposed to be pleasant, not torturous. Jim groaned loudly as nimble fingers dug into tense, tender muscles. Blair massaged both of Jim's feet, grinning playfully as he pushed his fingers through the other man's toes, causing Jim to jump at the ticklish sensations. He worked his way up Jim's legs toward his torso, his agile and capable hands working magic on Jim's overly-tense body.

Twice the younger man paused in his ministrations to add hot water, or more oil. He massaged and rubbed all the way up Jim's body, gradually feeling a different sort of tension building in the muscles that were flexing under his hands. He paused when he reached Jim's neck and face--these were delicate areas. Rather than massaging, he simply stroked the throat and neck with gentle fingers, and leaned forward to kiss the warm lips waiting for him.

Jim's eyes--which he'd closed a while ago to better appreciate all the sensations--popped open when he felt Blair's lips touch his. He closed them again and opened his mouth to his lover, groaning into Blair's mouth when the younger man's tongue slid over his. They kissed for endless minutes, desire beginning to rise to a fever pitch. Jim broke the kiss, pulling away just enough to mutter, "Join me," before attaching his lips to the tannish-pink nipple that was displayed so temptingly before him.

Blair moaned when Jim's tongue licked across his nipple, leaving it erect and tingling. "Are you sure?" he managed, moaning again as those lips closed over his other nipple and suckled hard on it. Jim took one of Blair's hands and dragged it down to touch his raging erection.

"Does that feel like doubt to you?" he ground out hoarsely, shuddering when Blair's fingers curled around him and gave a teasing stroke before releasing him. Blair shook his head, his eyes glazed with passion. Jim looked closely at his partner; the smoky blue irises had nearly disappeared--there was only a thin ring of color surrounding the large velvety-black pupils. Those eyes smoldered with heat and lust, and Jim felt an answer forming in the growl beginning in the back of his throat. "Come on in here, Chief. I need to feel you against me."

Blair shivered from the heat and need in those words. They were still in that special 'everything's new' aspect of the relationship, but Blair doubted he'd ever get tired of Jim saying that to him. He swept his gaze over his lover. Jim's body gleamed in the candlelight from the oil and water, and a faint sheen of perspiration from the internal and external heat had broken out on him. Jim's hard cock was standing up stiff out of the water, and he began gently stroking it while watching Blair.

The younger man stood and quickly shed his jeans and boxers, revealing to Jim how aroused he was too. His hard shaft jutted out proudly in front of him, begging for attention. Jim let go of his own cock, and reached for Blair's. An explosion of breath followed the first touch, and Blair whimpered slightly when Jim pulled his finger away. Jim replaced the one finger with several and began stroking Blair. The younger man groaned and shuddered in response to the touch, and Jim felt his cock leap in answer. "Get in here, baby, please." The words came out as a ragged whisper.

Blair stepped into the tub, then knelt down in the warm water in front of Jim. "I want you, Jim," he said softly, voice husky and deep with need.

"I want you too, Chief," was the equally hoarse reply.

Blair dipped his fingers into the warm water, and then trailed them across Jim's chest, just above his nipples. The slick droplets of water dripping across his hot, overly sensitive skin was like a sweet form of torture for Jim, and his nipples hardened instantly. Jim felt a corresponding ache as his cock hardened further. He groaned when Blair's fingers continued to play with his nipples. His lover leaned down to whisper in his ear, "Wanna wait? Or take me now, here?" Blair continued to gently rub his thumbs across the impossibly hard little peaks.

"Oh, god..." Jim moaned as he felt Blair's mouth replace his thumbs. He couldn't think, couldn't even remember what the question was. He was so hot he was going to ignite soon. "" he moaned as teeth nibbled and scraped his nipples into raw points of aching need. "Blair..." He pulled Blair in closer, and the younger man shifted, adjusting his position.

A naked, oil-slicked Blair straddled an equally naked, oil- slicked Jim, knees on the outsides of Jim's legs. Their cocks bumped each other, and Blair began to move purposefully; sliding against Jim, rubbing, creating a slick friction. Jim groaned and wrapped his hands in Blair's hair, and sought the younger man's mouth with his own. He thrust his tongue into the warm cavern, showing Blair with his actions what he wanted to do to his body.

Blair slid forward further, and raised himself slightly. Jim's cock moved under him and came to rest in the cleft of his ass, swollen tip nudging against the entrance to his body. The younger man whimpered at the sensation, and Jim moved a bit, rocking, pushing lightly against him. The Sentinel left that warm mouth and began biting his way down the side of Blair's neck. He followed the bites with soothing licks, broad sweeps of his tongue.

"Touch me, Jim... Please, lover, I want your fingers in me..." Blair moaned against Jim's neck. The bigger man groaned at the words, feeling his body tighten in reaction. Blair groped blindly for the bottle of oil he'd been using, then cursed when he couldn't find it.

"It's okay, baby... I can use the water, it has oil in it..." Jim smoothed a hand down Blair's back, and the younger man arched into his touch. Jim's fingers sought out that small opening his cock was pushing against and began gently working a finger in, pushing carefully past the tight ring of muscle.

Blair gasped at the invasion, then relaxed his tensed muscles. He rocked slowly on the finger, pushing it further into him. Jim rotated it, opening his lover slowly. A month of love-making hadn't been enough time yet to not need to do this, although Blair assured him that one day they probably would be able to skip this step if they wanted to. He withdrew the one finger, then began slowly pushing two in. Blair bucked against him, then shouted hoarsely as Jim raked those fingers across his prostate. He fucked the two fingers in and out of his lover's writhing body, working them into a V, stretching out the muscle. Blair was pushing himself down against the fingers, whimpering again. "More...I want you, Jim...please, put your cock in me..."

Jim nearly lost control with Blair's words. "Okay, baby... You do it--put me in... you take me... Slide me into your body, engulf me..." Jim was chanting the words, trying to keep from coming as Blair slowly shifted, and sank down onto Jim's engorged shaft. Jim watched in fascination at the emotions playing on Blair's face as he impaled himself: eyes gone wide with the first push, as his body stretched to accommodate; pain flashing across in a grimace that was even now fading, eyes that narrowed, drooping as they heated up.

Blair's lips parted, and he bit down lightly on his lower lip as he concentrated on pushing himself further down. His whole lower half ached from being filled, but the ache quickly faded as his mind processed what he was doing--what they were doing. He licked his lips, and watched Jim's eyes follow his tongue, then felt the answering throb from within himself, as Jim's cock reacted to the visual stimuli. His body throbbed in reaction, nipples stiffening again, cock hard and aching. "God, I love you, Jim. I love you being inside me, filling me... I love you fucking me. Fuck me, Jim...make me come for you..."

Jim groaned at the hot words swirling through his brain, and he grasped Blair's hips, and began thrusting up into him. It wasn't going to take much, he was poised on the edge already. Blair's passage was hot and tight, and the warm, oily water surrounding them added a surreal gliding sensation to everything. He leaned toward Blair and brushed a kiss across those luscious lips, then murmured, "I love you too, Chief... I love you so much...let me show you, baby...", before claiming Blair's mouth.

They moved together in perfect rhythm, gaining momentum and speed. Blair shifted himself again, so that he was squatting over Jim, holding onto the broad shoulders for purchase. His cock bumped against Jim's stomach, and the sensation was maddening. Enough to keep him totally aroused, not enough to end the madness. He released one of Jim's shoulders, and reached for himself, stroking quickly in time with their thrusts, eyes closed tightly in concentration. Blair began to make little grunting noises, and Jim felt his heart rate speed up even more. He felt the minute shifts in Blair's body as it began contracting around his own, temperature rising, muscles tensing.

"That's it, baby...come for me, Blair... God, I love you so much... Open your eyes, Blair, I want to see you when you come... That's it baby..."

"Oh, god, Jim...I'm coming! Uhn, god, oh god oh god ohmygod!!!" Blair tensed up totally, body shuddering as he spent himself. He came out of his fog to see Jim shuddering quietly, and was instantly aware of new source of warmth caressing his insides.

"Sweet Jesus Christ..." Jim whispered as he continued to thrust into Blair's body, holding himself in deep, allowing the tight muscles to milk him dry. He relaxed then, and slumped back bonelessly against the tub. Blair fell forward onto his chest, and lay, content, while Jim stroked his hair.

Some time later the two men managed to drag themselves out of the tub, and upstairs to bed, where they more-or-less collapsed and slept where they fell.

Morning arrived with a promising sunrise.

Blair rolled over with a groan when Jim's arms moved around him, caressing him out of a deep sleep.

"We've got time, Chief," Jim whispered as he rimmed Blair's ear with his tongue.

"You sure, lover?" he questioned, gazing blearily at the clock on the bedside table.

"I'm sure. I've been setting it early since we got back." The tongue had moved down and was licking at Blair's neck, and he shifted, moving his head back for greater access.

" wonder you don't mind getting up," Blair smiled at his lover, sleep still fogging the smoky-blue eyes. He stretched then, a long sinuous stretch that accentuated his lean body to the fullest.

Jim waited exactly three seconds before pouncing.

As he shifted into a better position for Jim to take him, Blair mused about how good life was now; loving Jim created a balance in his life, a mix of heaven to offset the hell. He groaned as his lover slid into him, thoughts shifting from the mundane to those urgent sensations coursing through his body...and tightened his arms around his lover to welcome him home.