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The Five Ways of Strategy

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Jim stopped in front of the door to Wu’s cabin, pausing as he raised his hand to knock. This is a bad idea, Ellison.

He’d told Elaine that he needed some air, and it wasn’t far from the truth. Her aggressive assertiveness was getting under his skin, and was proving to be a serious cramp on his style. He’d been doing just fine with Wu, getting a good feel for the man, when her awkward interjection had brought their conversation to a halt.

But, he had to admit, he’d had an unsettling itch twitching underneath his skin ever since this whole case began. Ever since they’d gone to investigate the cabin and ended up arresting Rafferty and Elaine—

No. It had been ever since Blair started trying to get Elaine and him together, all grinning innuendo and waggling eyebrows. And all the while gazing at that guy Rafferty with admiring eyes. The eyes he used to look at—

Fuck it. He exhaled and rapped lightly on the door.

“Come in.” Wu’s voice was matter-of-fact, but the smile he gave Jim as he opened the door was anything but. “Jim! What a surprise.”

Wu’s cabin was about twice the size of the one he’d shown Jim and Elaine to, and much more sumptuously appointed. In addition to the double bed there was a floor to ceiling bookcase covering one wall, with a small built-in desk.

“Our discussion of Musashi was interrupted,” Jim said, closing the door behind him.

“Very true,” Wu said. “Your wife doesn’t seem to have the same appreciation for Eastern wisdom as you do.”

“We’re more business partners, really.”

“Oh?”

“We’ve been… separated for some time.”

“I see.” Wu’s smile grew broader. “How about a drink, then?” He moved over to the bookcase, one shelf of which held several bottles.

“Scotch,” Jim said, “if you’ve got it.”

“Perhaps I could interest you in this excellent Japanese whisky,” Wu said, pouring two glasses. “On par with the finest single malts.” He handed one of the glasses to Jim.

It was good. Light and smooth. It ignited a pleasant fire that pooled in his gut. Jim nodded and then gestured with the glass to the bookcase. “I see you’ve a first printing of Go Rin no Sho.”

“The Five Ways of Strategy. Yes. It was a gift from my master.”

“You were surprised I had read him.”

“Most Westerners haven’t heard of Musashi.” Wu took a sip of whisky, then turned to face him, gaze challenging. “And even those who have struggle to apply him.”

“Their problem is that they don’t realize that his tenets can apply to all life, not just war,” he countered. “Business, promotion, recreation, even sex.”

Wu raised an eyebrow. “Which of his ways do you favor?”

Jim tossed back the rest of the whisky and put the glass on the desk. “Ground,” he replied, as he moved aggressively into Wu’s space, using his greater height and bulk to crowd the slighter man against the foot of the bed. “I have an affinity for… hard objects.”

Wu smiled. “There is great strength in the way of earth,” he said. He reached out and touched Jim’s chest, ran his fingers lightly down Jim’s torso and hooked them into his belt. “But water can also be powerful.” He shifted his weight and then, in one smooth movement, spun them so Jim was the one with his back to the bed.

“Very true. And the wise warrior can harness the passion of fire to serve his needs.”

“So as not to be overcome by it.” Wu reached for Jim’s belt, then undid his pants and unzipped his fly in a few quick movements, freeing Jim’s cock, hard and leaking. He gave Jim an appreciative glance and ran his hand up and down the shaft a few times.

Jim grunted as shivers ran up and down his spine. He unbuckled Wu’s pants and did the same for him, drawing his cock out. Uncut, it was slim and flushed pink. He grasped it and gave it a few experimental strokes.

Wu grinned and leaned in, his hips grinding against Jim’s. “One must not forget the way of wind,” he said, breathlessly. “For it is only through the energy of growth and expansion that one can truly know one’s opponent.”

And then it was a race, each of them with the other’s cock in his hand, trying to make the other come first. Wu was satin and marble, that familiar blend of soft and hard… oh, Jim had missed this. It had been a while since he’d indulged himself, but the moves were coming back to him. A light grip, a gentle twist at the head, a press of thumb at the spot where head joined shaft.

But Wu was equally skilled, his fingers deft and cunning. Jim clenched his jaw and ran through the steps of cleaning his gun in his mind, trying to distract himself as his balls tightened and his cock got harder. He grabbed Wu’s shoulder and squeezed his cock a little tighter, and was gratified to hear a sharp intake of breath.

He watched as Wu’s eyes fluttered half-shut, felt him pulse, and grinned. Victory.

And in that moment, it was Blair in front of him, Blair whom he held in his hand, Blair whose shoulder he was gripping. Head tipped back, eyes closed, mouth open, hair cascading to his shoulders. Blair in the throes of orgasm, as wild and as sensual as he could have imagined.

His control shattered and he came.

As his breathing slowed he reached out to tangle his fingers in those gorgeous tresses. His hand closed on air and his heart sank as his eyes snapped open.

Wu was bracing his hand on Jim’s shoulder, head down, still breathing heavily. He straightened and looked at Jim, a knowing grin curving his mouth. He went into the small bathroom; Jim heard water running. After a few moments Wu came out and tossed him a damp washcloth.

“You are unusually well-versed in the way of void,” Wu said, still grinning. “You perceive what cannot be seen.”

Jim’s heart lurched. Had Wu, somehow, shared his vision of Blair? Or had he guessed about Jim’s senses? He felt exposed, his secrets laid bare.

He scanned Wu as he cleaned himself up, but everything he could sense suggested relaxation after a bout of intense exercise – heartbeat regular and slowing, muscles relaxed, pupils contracted, breathing deep and even. Not what he would expect if Wu was about to use information against him.

Wu moved to the bookshelf and poured himself some more whisky. “Another drink?” he asked, holding the bottle up.

“Thanks, but I should probably get back,” Jim replied, making an effort to keep his tone light. “Don’t want my partner to worry about me.”

“Of course,” Wu said, with an affable smile. “I very much enjoyed our… conversation tonight. I look forward to more in the future.”

He made some polite reply and left, making his way to the deck. Gripping the railing with shaking hands, he inhaled deeply. The sea air was brisk and sharp with salt, and it calmed his pounding heart, cooled the flush on his face and neck.

He’d always known he had a thing for Blair, ever since that day in his office. But he hadn’t realized how serious it had gotten.

But it didn’t matter. Exhaling, he scrubbed his hand down his face. It wasn’t going to stay serious. It was clear that Blair had a type, and old balding cop with oversensitive senses wasn’t it. The last thing he wanted to see was the pity in Blair’s eyes if he tried to make a pass at him. And, anyway, once Blair finished the dissertation, he’d be gone.

So, no, this wasn’t staying serious.

He pulled the persona of Jim Tanner around him like a shroud and turned to go back to his cabin.