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What Are Friends For?

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It started the night Jim came home to find Blair drunk on the balcony.

Jim's day had been pretty good: two cases closed, a pile of paperwork shifted, and now he had four days off, so he was feeling upbeat as he unlocked the loft door. In fact, he was darn-near humming.

There was a cold breeze blowing across the apartment and Jim found the source of it quickly: the balcony door was open. The breeze brought with it a strong smell of alcohol. Jim hung his coat, left his keys on the kitchen counter and went to the refrigerator for a beer, intending to join Blair out there. There was only one bottle left. Jim frowned, sure they'd started the day with an eight-pack in there.

He left the lonely beer where it was and headed out to the balcony. He found Blair, sitting on the floor with his denim-clad legs stretched out in front of him, surrounded by empty beer bottles. There was another bottle between his knees. Blair's wild curls were loose about his unshaven cheeks and he was wearing that threadbare blue shirt he always seemed to throw on when he was miserable.

It didn't take a detective to figure out there was a problem.

But what could be wrong? Jim remembered Blair laughing with Rafe the night before when they left for their date. Blair had been almost irritatingly happy since he and Rafe got together a couple of weeks earlier. Blair had been so nervous when he told Jim about it, as if he was afraid Jim would have a problem with him dating another guy...or maybe another cop. Jim didn't have a problem with either one; at least not in that way.

As Jim watched from the doorway Blair lifted the last bottle to his lips and took a long drink.

"Everything okay, Chief?" Jim asked casually, asking a question with an obvious answer because he wanted to provoke a reaction. Any reaction would do.

He didn't really get one. Blair put the bottle back between his spread knees. "No," he said sullenly.

Jim took a wild guess. "You and Rafe?"

Blair nodded, obviously unhappy.

Oh, hell. "Fight?"

"No." Blair lifted the bottle to his mouth again, but it was empty.

Jim sat down beside him. "Chief, what happened? I thought you two were happy." It was a bit direct for such a personal question, but Blair would tell Jim if he were out of line.

Blair shrugged, a helpless gesture that had Jim really worried. "It was supposed to be a fun week, man! It wasn't supposed to get serious."

"Is it serious?" Jim asked. The question sounded nicely casual, his voice betraying no sign of the way this was tearing him up inside.

Blair set his empty beer bottle at the end of the row of empties. It clinked against its neighbour as he let go. "Serious?" he repeated, slurring the word. "Well...more than I was planning for, man." He giggled and his head rolled back.

Jim didn't see what was funny.

Blair swept out his hand, knocking over the empty bottles like a row of skittles. "Shit, man, you don't need to hear this."

Jim laid a hand on Blair's shoulder and waited until his friend turned miserable blue eyes up to meet his. "I don't need to hear it," Jim told him. "But I want to help, if I can. It's up to you, Chief."

There was a long silence. Jim saw a flush building up beneath Blair's pale skin. He looked uncomfortable. Jim was about to let him off the hook when Blair asked The Question and everything changed.

"Jim, have you ever...you know...with a man?"

Oh, boy... Jim didn't mind the question, but what did this have to do with Blair's drunken misery? Only one way to find out: he answered the question. "Yeah, a couple of times. Just fucking, though. Never anything serious."

"I haven't," Blair said.

Jim had no idea what to say to that.

Blair went on, "I mean...I know I date a lot...but I really don't..."

The notion was absurd. Jim said it aloud, knowing it would sound utterly ridiculous. "Blair...are you a virgin?"

And finally, Blair reacted the way he was supposed to. He shook his head. "Jesus, Jim! No!"

Jim nodded, relieved. "But...with guys?"

Blair looked down at the ground. "Well...yeah."

Jim thought back over the years of their friendship. All Blair's dates, his sideways, anthropological approach to the mating dance. The constant parade of women, yet he'd never had a girl spend a night in the loft. And the crappy place Blair had been living in before he moved in with Jim: not exactly the kind of swanky apartment you'd want to show off to a girl you're trying to impress. Or even a guy.

For Jim, it was as if the whole world shifted on its axis. It was such a huge adjustment in his thinking and it hit him hard to realise how many of his assumptions about Blair had been wrong. Friends don't make those kinds of pre-judgements...do they? Blair and his train-wreck love life...Jim saw everything so differently now. It was a struggle to keep his thoughts out of his expression.

Jim swallowed and slid his arm around Blair's shoulders. Blair cuddled into his side; something he never would have done sober. "So," Jim asked, "what's the problem? Are you...uh...nervous about doing the nasty with Rafe?"

"I'm... Fuck, Jim. He thinks I'm...you know, experienced. He's going to expect..."

And that sounded so much like Blair that Jim couldn't help smiling. "Did you tell him that, Chief?"

"No, man! He just assumed."

"And you just didn't correct him?" Jim concluded. The picture was becoming clear.

Blair looked genuinely miserable. "I guess."

Oh, Chief... He had only himself to blame, but Jim understood Blair's problem. It was the kind of thing Blair would be embarrassed to admit. It said a lot about their friendship that he was willing to tell Jim.

"Jim?" Blair said, his voice muffled against Jim's shirt.

"Yeah, Chief?"

"Maybe you could...I dunno...tell me stuff. I mean, you've..."

Jim shook his head. "Chief, what can I tell you that you can't get off the net?"

Blair sat up, giving Jim a you're-so-dumb look. "The truth, for a start."

Jim had to laugh. "You've got a point there." Still, having a birds-and-bees talk with a drunken Blair Sandburg was most definitely not on the list of Top Ten Ways for Jim Ellison To Spend His Night Off.

Then Jim thought of something that was on that list. He really shouldn't have said it,  but before he'd finished the thought the words spilled came out. "I guess we can talk about it, Chief, but we could talk all night and it wouldn't be as helpful as one good demonstration."

Blair had drawn up his knees and was hugging them, watching Jim. "I guess," he began and then his blue eyes went wide. "...What?"

Jim smiled lazily. "You heard me, Chief. Look, you're the one who let Rafe think you're some kind of sex god. I can't help you with that part, but you're a quick study and you're...inventive. All you really need is a little experience and that I can help with. If you want."

"Are you asking to have sex with me?"

Hell, yes! "I'm offering to show you what you need to know. Your call, Chief." He fought not to hold his breath. Fought to make the offer seem as casual as it had to be. He was lucky Blair wasn't a sentinel because Jim's pulse was pounding in his ears and he felt the sweat dewing his palms. Most of the blood in his body flowed south. Jim stood, abruptly, to hide that reaction. He leaned on the balcony rail and looked out over his city.

Behind him, Blair said, "Are you sure, Jim? I mean, I don't want to fuck up our friendship."

Jim grimaced at Blair's choice of words. Without turning around, he said, "I don't see why it would. That's a girl's argument, Chief." Somehow, his voice hit exactly the right note: casual, a little disdainful. Just the opposite of what he was feeling. His hands tightened on the rail. Blair was going to say yes.

And if he did? Was Jim really going to do this? Take Blair into his bed, for only one night, knowing it was only one night. Give him just enough confidence to send him to someone else's arms? Was Jim really going to do this?

He turned to face Blair.

Blair was still on the ground. His smile was a little shaky, a little uncertain, but it was a genuine smile. He nodded. "Thanks, Jim. That would be great."

"What are friends for?"

*

It was terribly awkward at first.

Because Blair was drunk, Jim made him eat something and made coffee in the French press before he would consider doing anything else. A somewhat more sober Blair then insisted on taking a shower. Jim used that time to make sure he had everything he was going to need within easy reach in the bedroom.

It was a long time since Jim had been with...well, with anyone, really. But Blair...Blair was his closest friend and his most private pain. He'd fallen in love with this neo-hippy-witch-doctor-punk the first day they met. He never should have let Blair move in with him, because once he did, Jim was doomed. He tried at first, as subtly as he could, to see if Blair might be interested. But Sandburg was totally into women and it didn't take long for Jim to get the message.

So instead, Jim took what he could get. Blair's company. His laughter and his blinding smile. His help, so essential to Jim as he struggled to gain control of his freakish senses. And if occasionally the sight of Blair stepping out of the shower made Blair's habit of using all the hot water a blessing for Jim, well that was a small price to pay.

Jim had become reconciled to the situation. He accepted Blair's many girlfriends. He made some half-hearted attempts to find someone else. Blair's friendship was more valuable to him than ever. It was hard to imagine his life without Blair Sandburg in it.

Now he was going to upset the delicate balance of their friendship.

What the hell possessed him to suggest this?

He was about to have sex with Blair. Have sex. With Blair. Blair.

The shower stopped running and a moment later Jim heard Blair brushing his teeth. He wondered if Blair was cleaning up so carefully because of Jim's senses, or if this was some delaying tactic. The waiting was torture for Jim. When the brushing stopped, Jim knocked on the bathroom door before Blair could decide to shave or something else.

"Chief?"

"Yeah...I'm coming." Blair opened the door wearing nothing but his dark blue bathrobe. "I guess...there's no reason to get dressed, huh?" He sounded nervous.

Jim wasn't nervous. He was terrified. "I...uh...that's up to you, I guess. Unless you've changed your mind."

Blair looked oddly shy suddenly. "I'm not gonna change my mind, man. Truth is, I was always...curious...what it would be like...with you."

Oh, shit, Sandburg, couldn't you have told me that weeks ago! "Think you're sober enough now?"

"Yeah," Blair smiled.

"Let's go upstairs, then."

So they were sitting on the edge of Jim's bed and despite all of his dreams and fantasies about this moment, Jim really had no idea how to begin. Every time in his life when he'd had sex with someone for the first time, he'd had some experience with his partner before they hit the bedroom. A date, a kiss, some fooling around. He came to the bedroom with at least some small familiarity with his partner's reactions, what he or she enjoyed. But with Blair he had no previous experience. They had hugged, and touched before but only as friends. He'd never kissed Blair or...or anything. Just dreamed about it.

"Jim, if you're having second thoughts..."

"No, no, I'm not, but... Chief, I haven't really been with anyone since this sentinel thing kicked in. Not past first base anyway. I was just realising that this is going to be different. Kind of a first time for me, too."

Blair shook his head with a quick grin. "Sure you're not just trying to make me feel better?"

And, oddly, that gave Jim the cue he needed. "Hopefully," he said, "we'll both be feeling pretty good soon."

Blair grinned back. "That's the idea."

All of the words were right but Blair hadn't moved and neither had Jim. It felt a little ridiculous, almost as if they had an audience. A freaking elephant in the room. One of them had to make the first move. Jim wanted it to be Blair. He wanted Blair to want him. But Blair was just sitting there.

Okay. Your move, Ellison. Try not to screw it up.

Jim moved toward Blair, reaching out to touch his hair. Blair leaned into the touch and Jim caught his breath. It seemed like such a natural gesture. He threaded his fingers through the still-damp curls, slowly, his sensitive fingers memorising every detail of the texture. Jim could smell the shampoo Blair had used, and beneath that, soap and deodorant.

Jim curled his fingers around the back of Blair's neck and leaned in to kiss him. He felt Blair tense under his hand. With his lips almost touching Blair's lips, Jim urged, "Come on, Chief. Work with me, here."

And, at last, it was Blair who moved, closing the tiny distance between their mouths, parting his lips in invitation as he kissed Jim. Jim kissed him back. Jim probed with his tongue, hardly able to believe he was really doing this after so many months of wanting Blair. Blair moaned into his mouth, a small sound that thrilled along Jim's nerves and suddenly Blair was kissing him back, hard and eager and wanting. Blair's hands came up to hold Jim's face and there was real heat between them. Jim responded to that heat, holding Blair close as they kissed...and kissed...and kissed.

Jim could have stayed there all night, just making out with Blair. Apparently, Blair was thinking along similar lines because it was a long, long time before he came up for air. They drew apart finally, still holding each other. Blair's eyes were closed, his lips still slightly parted. Drunk on passion, he was the most beautiful sight Jim could imagine. Jim was grinning like a lovesick idiot and he couldn't help it. He'd put that look on Blair's face. He did.

"Wow..." Blair whispered.

Jim allowed himself a small chuckle. "Yeah, me too," he agreed. He reached for the belt of Blair's bathrobe. "You ready, Chief?"

Blair covered Jim's hand, stopping him from untying the robe. "Not yet." He smiled, still a little nervous. "I want to see you naked first."

Jim felt his smile growing wider. That sounded...hopeful. Jim stripped off his t-shirt quickly and let it fall to the floor. He began to unbuckle his belt and Blair stopped him again.

"Let me," Blair said quietly, and oh, god, was Jim dreaming now? Blair drew down the zipper of Jim's jeans, oh-so-slowly. He was so careful that Jim knew Blair could feel his erection behind the denim. Jim raised up to let Blair pull his pants down. Blair dropped to his knees, hooking his fingers into the denim and pulling down both the jeans and Jim's boxer shorts in one movement.

Jim sighed with pleasure as his cock was freed from the tight denim. Blair was looking down, working the jeans down his legs. Then the pants were gone and Blair looked up. He stopped, staring at Jim's cock.

It was impossible for Jim to conceal how turned on he was, but Jim didn't even try. Not after that kiss. The expression on Blair's face mingled lust and fear... Geez, Sandburg, I'm not that intimidating! ...But it was Blair's first time.

Jim leaned forward and urged Blair to stand. He reached for the belt of Blair's robe and this time Blair allowed him to undo the knot and push the robe from his shoulders. Blue cloth pooled on the floor around Blair's feet.

It wasn't the first time Jim had seen Blair naked. But it was the first time he'd seen him like this. Jim was conscious of Blair's inexperience but he wanted him so badly, he just had to touch. He ran his hands down Blair's bare arms and then up again, keeping his touch light and teasing. He lifted Blair's hair aside and bent down to kiss his neck. He ran his tongue along the tendon and tasted soap and sweat. But it wasn't enough.

Jim dropped to his knees in front of Blair and wrapped his hand around the root of Blair's hard cock. This was a recurring fantasy and now, now that he could, he simply had to indulge himself. Jim looked up into Blair's eyes, silently asking permission. He didn't exactly get it, but Blair didn't say no. Jim rubbed Blair's cock, slow, firm strokes, and then took the red, swollen tip of him into his mouth.

The reaction was immediate. Blair thrust involuntarily into Jim's mouth, crying out Jim's name. It was all Jim needed to hear. He wanted to make Blair feel good, more than good. And it felt wonderful to Jim, too. The taste of Blair...it was unlike anything Jim ever tasted before. Of course, his senses probably had something to do with that but hell, it was Blair. It was just Blair.

Jim drew back a little, sucking hard on Blair. He felt Blair's hand settle on his head, guiding him. He looked up, his lips wrapped around Blair's cock and saw Blair's eyes were closed. Jim had forgotten how it felt to have a beautiful dick in his mouth. How fucking fantastic it felt to suck, to taste, to smell the musk of Blair's arousal so close it filled him utterly. So amazing there were no words to describe the way Blair's breath hitched each time Jim sucked, or the tremors in his muscles, in his fingertips. And it was Blair, Blair letting him do this, and that went beyond fantastic into the realm of heaven on earth.

"Oh, god, Jim...oh, god, that's..."

He had to be doing something right if Blair couldn't think of the words.

Blair gripped Jim's head, thrusting deep into his throat. Jim was ready for it, and he didn't gag. Hot come filled his mouth, too much to swallow it all.

Blair was breathing hard. "Oh, man... Jim..."

Jim looked up, letting Blair's cock slip from his mouth. Blair was looking down at him, wonder in his eyes as if Jim were the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen. "Do you have any idea what you look like, man?" He ran his thumb across Jim's lips, gathering up the liquid gathered there. "On your knees, my come on your face... Jesus, Jim, I never knew you had this in you."

Oh, hell. Busted. It was inevitable, really.

Blair was still looking at him. Jim couldn't move.  He couldn't move because Blair's hand was cupping his cheek and Blair's blue eyes held his gaze. Then Blair leaned down and kissed him.

"Jim. Oh, god, Jim. I didn't know." Blair was on his knees now, with Jim. Holding him. "Shit...talk to me, man."

Jim knew he had to speak. Say something. Anything would be good. But he couldn't think of a damned thing. He felt Blair's arms around him, and that wasn't helping him think. He drew back a little. "I...uh...let's just say I've been wanting to do that for a long time."

Blair moved back. "For how long?"

Jim smiled, a self-mocking smile, but he gave Blair the truth. "Forever."

"You never told me."

"I thought you were straight."

Blair laughed. "You're kidding me." Then he met Jim's eyes and his laughter vanished. "You're not kidding?"

And that was just embarrassing. Jim started to get up. "If you make one joke about this, Chief I swear I'll..."

Blair grabbed his hand. "Do I look like I'm joking?" He stood, placing Jim's hand on his body. "Do you want to finish this?"

For a moment, Jim froze. Oh, god, yes... He pulled Blair down onto the bed. Blair giggled as they both hit the mattress. Blair reached for Jim and they kissed again. Somehow, Blair ended up on top of Jim. Jim couldn't get enough of touching Blair. His hands roamed Blair's back, sliding down to his waist, lower, grabbing his ass. He managed to get himself into a sitting position with Blair straddling his lap. He kissed Blair's neck hungrily, kissed his chest, his nipples. He felt Blair's cock begin to harden again and slid one hand down to help him along.

"Chief..." he spoke with his mouth against hot flesh. "Oh, man, Chief, you're so fucking hot." He left a line of kisses along Blair's shoulder.

Blair arched into his touch as Jim stroked him back to hardness. "Jim... Jim..."

"I want you, Blair. Please, I want you."

Blair grinned. "You're sexy when you beg."

That did it. Jim rolled them over so Blair was beneath him, still holding Blair's cock in his palm. "Was that a yes, Chief? 'Cause if it's not, I'm gonna need a very cold shower about now."

Blair giggled, his hand sliding between Jim's legs. "Yes, Jim. Of course, yes."