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As The Sentry Turns

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Jim pointed out the C4 on the bridge span to Joel. "See it?"

Joel looked through the binoculars. "Yeah, got it. How did someone put it there?"

"Don't know. I can't see the timer, but I bet it's set for midnight like the other two." Jim sighed. "I'm getting really tired of this guy. If we miss one of these things, midnight's fireworks are going to be more than the Mayor wants."

Joel slapped Jim slightly on the back. "It's a good thing whoever this is wants to taunt Major Crimes with his little New Year's packages."

"Yeah, but did it have to be me? What did I do to deserve this crazy's notice?"

"Don't know. Maybe he just figures you haven't been in the paper enough, man. He hasn't seen your pretty face in awhile."

Jim frowned at the big police captain. "Thanks, Joel. That makes me feel so much better." Jim turned to his Guide. "What next, Chief?"

Blair looked at the laptop perched on the hood of Jim's truck. "No new threatening e-mails, and Simon relayed that they have disarmed the other bombs. So we're good for the moment. How about we take a break and get something to eat?"

Jim climbed into his truck and leaned his head on the steering wheel while Blair closed down the computer. A break was sounding really good.

Blair climbed into the truck, and reached a hand over to rub Jim's muscular thigh. He glanced at the clock they'd taped to the center dash. 7:42 pm. Less than 5 hours to midnight on December 31, 1999. Less than 5 hours until the beginning of a new century (never mind that the new century didn't start for another year). Less than 5 hours before Y2K would be a memory. Less than 5 hours for every crazy, crook, and hacker to do their best to bring down the city or civilization. Less than 5 hours for every cop in Cascade to worry and fret as they patrolled the city and tried to anticipate problems.

Jim cranked the old Ford and put it into gear. "Where to, Chief?"

"Someplace quiet, man. You need to unwind for a little bit. You've been at this all day."

"So have you, Chief, so have you." Jim sighed. "And we've got the rest of the night to go."

"Yeah, but you're the one who can't rest because the tribe is uneasy. Simon has called your cell phone every half hour since dawn. Bomb threat, call Ellison; jumper, call Ellison; sniper, call Ellison; you need to de-compress." Blair's hand kept rubbing Jim's leg. "When this night is over, let's find a nice cabin somewhere in the middle of the woods and hide for a week."

Jim nodded as he pulled into a tiny Italian restaurant that was barely large enough to qualify as a hole-in-the-wall. "We'll leave the phones, beepers and e-mail behind."

"Right." Blair got out of the truck after sliding his laptop under the seat and locked the door behind him. "Just the fishing rods and a couple of good books." He waited until Jim came around the hood of the truck and tucked his arm around the big detective's waist as they walked through the door.

The aroma of garlic bread and pasta hit them in the face as they walked in. Both men paused, inhaling the scents, mouths watering in anticipation of food after long hours of darting around the city on one emergency call after another. A young man in a apron over jeans and sweater approached them with menus and led them to a table.

Jim swirled a piece of garlic bread in clam sauce and popped it in his mouth as his phone rang. Blair glared at it, then snagged it before Jim could.

"Sandburg."

//"Simon. Where's Jim?"//

"He's got his mouth full, Simon. What do you need?"

//"The media just got an e-mail from some joker who says he's going to hit the dam. You got anything?"//

"The laptop's in the truck. We'll finish eating and head that direction. Did he give a time?"

//"Same as the others. Midnight."//

Blair sighed. "You know, the previous turn of the century came in with all sorts of horrible things happening. You think we would have learned."

//"Yeah, we learned how to kill millions instead of hundreds."// The line went dead.

Blair closed the phone, looked at Jim. "You heard?"

Jim nodded and waved for the bill, already digging out his wallet.


The dam was quiet in the darkness except for the roar of the falling water. Two patrol cars were already there, bright lanterns systematically scanning the dam, walkways and power station. Jim looked over the rock cliffs, his eyes dilated in the darkness, trying to see across the canyon, down the shear concrete face.

Blair stood at his side, one hand on Jim's back. "It's too noisy to hear a timer, even if you could filter out the roar. Think you can smell the C4?"

Jim shrugged. "That's probably our best bet. In the dark and with all these shadows, it will take forever to find it by just trying to look for it." Jim started to slowly walk across the walkway at the top of the dam, eyes almost closed, inhaling deeply, holding the breath for a second, before exhaling and doing it again. Blair kept one hand on his sentinel's back, murmuring to him as they walked, making sure Jim didn't walk into a light pole or railing. Ellison stopped short of the power station, opened his eyes and looked around. He looked down at his feet, then knelt.

"Chief, is there a man-hole cover close? I'm picking up a scent, but it's almost under us. The scent is strongest close to the ground." Jim got up, leaned against the fencing that kept someone from jumping from the top of the concrete wall and looked down. Blair walked the rest of the way to the power station, came back.

"There's an electrical panel on the side of the building, but I didn't see anything like a man-hole."

"Get a flashlight out of the truck." Jim trotted to the electrical panel. He ran his hand over the large door, fingers finding a recessed handle. He turned it, pulled. The door opened, much to his surprise. Blair reappeared, the flashlight beam bouncing as he ran to Jim.

"What did you find?"

They were interrupted as a news van, complete with satellite dish on the roof peeled into the parking lot. The partners looked at each other and groaned.

"That's the last thing we needed." Jim took the flashlight and shone the beam over the huge bundles of cables and metal conduit. The rows of electrical cables disappeared into the base of the electrical cabinet through large holes, each cable tagged with a metal identifier. Jim took a deep breath, coughed. "It's in here." He coughed again, but slowly scanned each bundle of cable, not seeing anything that didn't belong. He reached into the box, shoving his arm as deep into the base of the metal cabinet as he could reach.

"Jim, listen for the timer. If we're this close, you should be able to hear it, even over the falls." Blair slid his body between his partner and the huge lights that were now beginning to light up the dam, effectively blocking the camera spot lights from Jim.

Jim nodded and stopped feeling with his fingers. After a moment he pulled himself out of the cabinet and turned to Sandburg. "Call Simon, see if the bomb squad is on the way. It's definitely here; the timer is echoing all over the place."

Sandburg nodded and pulled out the phone. While he talked, he followed Jim to the other side of the station, going back into the shadows and avoiding the media's spotlights.

"Bomb squad is five minutes away." Blair murmured to his partner as they remained in the shadows while watching the TV truck get in the uniforms' way.

Jim nodded. "We'll wait until they get here, then when they establish a perimeter, we'll just slip away while nobody is paying any attention to us." Jim pulled his partner into his arms and took the stolen moment to kiss the lush lips. They lost contact with the outside world until the approaching sirens disturbed them. When Jim released him, Blair chuckled.

"Don't want our bomber to see you on the local news?"

Jim watched the black box van pull up and police wearing 'Bomb Squad' jackets roll out the back. "Don't want to give him the satisfaction. Slip away and get the truck, Chief. Roll it down to the park at the bottom of the hill and wait for me. I'll meet you there."

Blair nodded, and handed Jim his phone and flashlight. He stayed in the darkness as he walked around the parking lot, going behind the multitude of vehicles that were beginning to congest the area. Then he darted to the blue and white truck and, without starting the engine, let gravity ease the vehicle away from the TV news van.

Jim watched the truck for a second, then turned toward the head of the bomb squad who was approaching. The big man who had taken Joel's place was strapping on kevlar and carrying a large lantern. Jim waved him toward the electrical box and opened the door again.

"How did you find it?" Captain Richards asked.

"Can't you smell the C4?" Jim looked at the man, eyes wide as if everyone in the world could smell the explosive.

Richards nodded. "Yeah, I can smell it. But I've trained for years to sniff out stuff like this. Just not used to a detective with a trained nose." Both men shined their flashlights over the cables, trying to spot something out of place. "I don't see it."

"I don't either." Jim shined his light into one of the holes that contained metal conduit snaking out of sight. "What would happen if our bomber lowered his bomb into one of these holes? How far does it go?"

"No telling. I think we need some electricians up here. They'll have to cut the power before we can start searching."

"You might want to get someone in here with a listening device. Maybe you can narrow it down by listening for the timer. If he follows his routine, we've got until midnight."

Richards backed away from the electrical box. "Good idea. You've done all you can here. You might as well take off." He shook Jim's hand. "Our bomber is at least contacting you before he blows something up. Gives us a little warning."

Jim nodded. "Yeah, but I hate playing cat and mouse. Good luck." Ellison turned away, leaving the bomb squad and their disposal crew to their work. He walked into the shadows and down the hill where Sandburg sat in the truck, laptop on his knees, his cell phone in his ear. Jim opened the door, startling the young man.

"Yeah, Simon. Jim just got in the truck. We'll be back at the station as soon as we can." Blair closed the phone.

"What did Simon want?" Jim cranked the truck and pulled back into traffic.

"The Mayor's doing a press conference at 10 pm. Wants a briefing, in person, on what we're doing to alleviate fear and avoid terrorists' activity in the city."

"I don't have time for this. How can I track down a bomber if I'm playing patty cake with the Mayor?" Jim growled toward his partner, muscles in his face beginning to jump.

"I'm sure Simon shares your thoughts." Blair glanced at the clock. 9:45pm. Less than 3 hours. Parties were in full swing all over the city. The police were stretched thin, with every person in the department on duty. The city sponsored functions were being monitored and patrolled. All of the utilities were being guarded. Helicopters were in the air, crossing and crisscrossing the city, vigilant eyes in the sky hoping to spot potential traffic or riot problems before they had a chance to get out of control.

Jim glanced at the clock, the traffic, and pulled out his cell phone. One handed he hit Simon's number and put the phone on his shoulder.

//"Banks."//

"Simon. Jim. Look, I'm not going to make it back to the precinct for the Mayor's 10 o'clock dog and pony show. I'm on the other side of town and traffic is a crawl."

//"Just as well. You and the Mayor are like fire and water anyway. You find the bomb at the dam?"//

"I left the bomb squad with it. They had it narrowed down to a few feet."

//"Where are you heading now?"//

"If I don't have to come all the way back to headquarters, I'm on my way to Cascade Towers."

//"Why there?"//

"Highest place over the main part of the city. Good vantage point."

//"Anything you want to pass on to the Mayor?"//

"Not anything you want to repeat." Ellison folded the phone and put it back in his jacket. He glanced at his partner, who had his phone plugged into his computer. "Anything from our bomber?"

"No. Think he might have given up?" Blair watched the screen as the e-mail downloaded from Jim's computer in the office.

"I doubt it. He may have run out of bombs or is out placing another one so he can brag some more. Do you have his address?"

"I can do a reply. It's a hotmail account. Could be anywhere in the world. What do you want me to send?"

"Send; how does it feel to be the mouse?" Jim grinned an evil smile. "See if I can taunt him into revealing something."

Blair typed the message, and hit send. As soon as the screen cleared, he unplugged his phone and turned off the laptop. He looked out the window, at the main streets of Cascade. They were creeping along, dodging people who were walking and dancing, milling around the center of the city. The streets had been closed to vehicles and several blocks of the city had been designated for a massive block party. Jim pulled his truck into the parking garage under the tallest building in the city.

Sandburg followed his partner silently as they entered the elevator and Jim pushed the button for the restaurant at the top. They had the car to themselves and as it lurched its way to a smooth ascent, Jim pulled Blair into his arms and held him tightly. It had been years since the elevator in Wilkerson Towers, but Blair's heart still leaped each time he got into an elevator. Jim didn't think twice about holding his partner as the car climbed. Even if the car had been full of people, they would have held hands.

Jim kissed the top of Blair's head, forehead, nose, then lips. "Think I can get away with kneeling in front of you, unzipping your jeans, and seeing if I can find a prize hiding in those thermals?" Jim whispered into his lover's ear, one hand already under Blair's coat, fingers sliding up and down the zipper on the tight jeans.

Blair groaned. "Jim, we'll never get away with it. I bet there are a thousand people in this building at various parties. Any second now, the elevator will stop."

Jim's breath was warm in his ear. "Don't tell me you don't get off on the thrill of it? I've seen you get off on the chance of being caught." A wet tongue cruised Blair's ear, followed by a nip on an earlobe. The exploring hand had found the zipper tab and was slowly- so very slowlypulling the metal teeth down and apart.

Blair arched against Jim's chest, his breath stolen as Jim's lips settled over his panting mouth and claimed the air as his own. Blair whimpered softly. He closed his eyes as one of Jim's fingers found its way inside his jeans. Blair's heart raced in his chest as Jim caressed the half hard flesh he found.

The elevator dinged.

"Shit." Jim mumbled over Blair's lips as he pulled away. The car stopped and the air pressure changed as the doors split open and a pair of tipsy party goers fell into the car, barely hanging onto each other.

Jim smiled smugly at his lover as Blair tried to come down from the clouds he'd been walking on. Blair's eyes were dilated, lips swollen and red from kissing.

"To the roof, to the roof," the red-head in the blue-beaded slinky dress declared. She peered at Jim and grinned. "Hello, are you the elevator man for tonight?" She slipped out of her companion's embrace and draped herself on Jim. "Or are you looking to crash a party. I know where there is a good one." She offered the detective a drink from the champagne bottle she was carrying.

The distraction gave Blair a chance to rearrange his clothing and take a couple of deep breaths as he got his body under control. Then he turned to rescue his lover from the clutches of the red-head.

He wasn't needed. The man with the red-head was already pulling her off of Jim and muttering apologies. He pushed her into a corner and kissed her soundly, one hand cupping a breast, the other her ass. They ignored Ellison and Sandburg completely as the elevator continued its rise up the building.

Jim draped his arm around Blair's shoulders and whispered into his ear.

"Told you. We could be doing the horizontal tango and they wouldn't notice."

"Yeah, right." Blair kissed his sentinel on the chin. "Where are we going to bring in the New Year?"

"If nothing else happens, right here." Jim settled his arms around Blair, pulling his companion against his chest. "While you were busy yesterday, I persuaded the building manager to let me out through the fire exit on the roof catwalk. I stashed a few things for us." Jim nibbled on a handy ear tip.

Blair pulled away from the ear-nibbling fiend and turned within Jim's embrace.

"What sort of stuff did you stash?"

"Oh, a little of this, a little of that. Some food and drink. Something soft to snuggle on."

"Uh, huh. And probably a pair of binoculars, extra cell phone batteries, a rifle with a scope." Blair grinned at his lover who was trying to look innocent.

The elevator stopped at the top floor and they disembarked. Jim reached back in and tapped the other male occupant on the shoulder. The man looked up from the shoulder he was marking. He blinked for a moment then nodded. Jim pushed the down button and cleared the door, watching it slide close.

Blair giggled. "Was that nice?"

Jim shrugged and raised an eyebrow. "They appreciated it." He turned Blair toward the restaurant and the fire exit doors. He pulled out a key, turned off the alarm and pushed Blair through the door before resetting the alarm behind them.

The roof was sharply sloping, leading up to the spire that topped the building. An eight foot catwalk went around the roof, giving maintenance people room to work and move around. Jim took Blair's hand and led him to a slightly larger platform. From the platform, the majority of the city was visible, with a piece of the bay and the mountains in the distance.

"Wow." Blair breathed as he took in the sights at a safe distance from the edge. "You can see everything from here."

"That was the whole idea." Jim went to a large cooler and opened it. He pulled out their camping gear and spread it on the metal grating. The camping pad went first, followed by a heavy sleeping bag, then a down comforter. Under the bedding was a picnic basket which Jim lifted out. Then he pulled Blair down on the nest and settled down beside him.

Blair watched his lover prowl through the basket and come up with a ziploc baggy of cut vegetables and a small cup of a spicy dip. Jim sat the goodies between them, added a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of non-alcoholic cider.

"Until we're off duty, I can't open the champagne. Guess this will have to do." His final reach into the basket came up with plastic cups, which he handed to Sandburg. He started peeling the foil off the bottle.

Jim's phone rang. The detective looked at his partner, then pulled the phone from his pocket.

"Ellison."

//"Where are you?"// Banks' voice was loud enough for even Sandburg to hear.

"Cascade Towers." Jim tucked the phone against his shoulder and poured Blair a cup of cider, then one for himself.

//"Did you see the Mayor's press conference?"//

"No TVs on patrol, Simon. Besides, I'm sure he didn't say anything that I didn't already know." Jim heard Simon's glasses hit the top of his desk. "Did he say thank you to the hardworking cops keeping the city safe?"

//"Of course not."//

"I'm not surprised. Something you need?"

//"The bomb squad just called in. They found the bomb on the dam. It was two feet under an electrical box, down in a hole. Not a very big one but if it had blown, the dam would have been compromised. Captain Richards says thanks for the help. Thought you'd like to know."//

"Appreciate that, Simon. Anything else from our bomber?"

//"Nothing new. What's your feeling on this?"//

"If it was me, and I was trying to show up the police department, I'd look at the waterfront. Lots of ships, lots of places to hide. Cargo of all sorts of dangerous stuff. Fuel tanks, propane tanks. I'd hide a couple of small charges along the waterline of some big ships, then wait. Call it in about 5 minutes to midnight. While the police are searching, the charge goes off, kills a bunch of cops, sinks a few ships, makes a big splash all over the headlines."

//"Jim, I really hope our bomber doesn't think that way."//

Jim sighed, his eyes looking at the waterfront in the distance. Even with his vision he couldn't see much in the darkness. In his mind's eye, he destroyed the entire pier with a couple well-placed explosions. It would be so easy...

"Simon, send over a couple of units with the dogs. Have them check ships carrying flammable cargo, hazardous materials, that sort of thing. Check the bases of the fuel tanks in the fuel depot. Have a unit from the bomb squad back them up. Tell them to think like a terrorist. Where could you put a bomb that would create the most damage with the littlest exposure?"

Simon sighed. //"All right, Jim. I've got a squad from the state police standing by. Think I'll send them, too. Just in case your bomber thinks like you do."// The line went dead.

Sandburg was watching the city under their feet. "Think he'll try again?"

"I would. And not in the middle of the city either. Too many cops, too many witnesses. No, I'd strike at the outskirts, just like what he's been doing. The dam, the causeway, the railroad crossing, all of those bombs could have caused major damage without exposing him too much." Jim shook his head. "He's not done yet."

"So what do we do?"

"We watch, and wait." Ellison handed Sandburg the binoculars. Then he draped the comforter over both of them. After a few minutes of squirming around, both men got comfortable on their stomachs, food and drink within reach, a cell phone beside both of them.

Ellison let his eyesight zoom out to each city street and followed it as far as he could. His hearing would be overwhelmed by the celebrations going on around them almost immediately, so he'd dialed it down slightly, just leaving it sensitive enough to hear everything close to him.

Sandburg quietly marveled at the sentinel, keeping watch over his tribe. It hadn't been anything that he'd suggested; the actions came from within Jim. Blair smiled to himself. If he hadn't had proof of his sentinel's priorities, this action would have clinched it. Jim was a statute, eyes roaming the city.

Jim picked up his phone, hit a number. "Dispatch, this is Detective Ellison. Send a car to 1st and Carson, north side. We've got some kids trying to turn over a car. Looks like the partying is getting out of hand." He pushed the button on the phone and took a sip of the cider.

"How far are they from here?" Sandburg was trying to follow the street with the binoculars, finally picking up what Ellison had seen.

"Couple of miles, maybe. There's a youth center on the next block. I'd bet a party let out and the kids don't have anything better to do." The detective chomped on a carrot, before finishing his thought.

"Except go home." Jim growled, already focused on another trouble spot. He pushed the phone on again. "Dispatch, Ellison again. We've got some looters at the downtown Food Mart. Can't tell if they're armed or not. Send a car, and a paramedic. There's a lot of broken glass. Where am I?" Jim chuckled. "Just cruising the city, Dispatch." He hung up again, then glanced at Blair who was grinning and shaking his head.

"What?" Jim cuffed the younger man gently on the head, then smiled.

"Gonna add to that 'supercop' legend if you're not careful. Next thing you know, someone is gonna say you spent the night flying around the city, hiding behind your cape."

Jim ignored the comment. He was focused on the waterfront. He was too far away to see what was happening, but lots of flashing blue and red lights were clustered together. Jim pointed at the lights.

"Think they found something?" Blair aimed the binoculars at the lights, but couldn't see any better than his partner.

"We'll know in a minute. Simon is sure to call." Jim glanced at his watch. 11:10 pm. "Less than a hour, Chief."

A chopper went flying overhead, it's spotlight on the ground, heading for the docks at full speed. On the ground, 2 news vans were speeding in the same direction.

The phone rang.

"Ellison." Jim reached around Blair, snagged the open bottle of sparkling cider and refilled his cup. He dipped a piece of carrot into the dip, offered Blair first bite, then finished it off.

//"When you finish your snack,"// Simon's voice dripped sarcasm; //"I just wanted to let you know it was a good hunch. The dogs found 2 bombs and our bomber was just leaving the scene of the third one. We've got a chopper in pursuit and should have him in no time."//

"We're watching the chopper. Good luck." Jim watched the helicopter as it followed vehicles toward the freeway. Flashing lights were converging from other directions. "Simon, how's everything else going?"

//"Not bad. Some vandalism, some looting, complaints about noise, nothing serious."//

"Maybe the city will survive without to much upheaval." Blair waved his hand in front of Jim's face and pointed down, his eyes in the binoculars. Jim turned to follow Blair's pointing finger. He zoomed in on an orange flickering rising from a warehouse. "Simon, we've got a fire. Warehouse Avenue, about halfway down. Flames coming through the roof. Better roll a couple of companies."

"Tell him I see people trying to get out. Looks like it was being used as a homeless shelter." Blair called, loud enough for Simon to hear over the phone.

Jim heard Simon put them on hold and waited until he returned. Both men watched as a fire truck screamed down a street, followed by another, then a paramedic unit. Simon came back on the line.

//"Units are rolling."//

"We see them." Jim watched the fire department deploy around the warehouse. "Fast response, Simon."

//"They've been on standby all night. Guess they were just itching for a fire to fight. You guys coming back to the station anytime soon?"//

"Not unless you need us there. We can do more out here."

//"All right then. I'll call you if I need you."//

"I know you will, Simon." Jim closed the phone and went back to scanning the city. After a moment, he snuggled a little closer to his partner who was still looking through binoculars. He tucked the comforter closer and looked at his watch. 11:45 pm.

"Not long now, Chief. Great spot to watch the fireworks."

Blair lowered the eyeglasses and studied his partner. Jim was sliding a hand up and down Blair's back under his coat. There was a twinkle in Jim's eye that usually meant he was up to something.

"What are you thinking, Ellison?" Blair smirked at Jim. Then he erupted into giggles as inquisitive fingers found their way under his multiple layers and tickled the sensitive ribs.

Jim pulled Blair to him, rolling his partner onto his chest. He held his guide tight with one arm under the shirts while the other pulled the comforter over their heads.

"I'm thinking that I'm going to ring in the new millennium with my lover, on the roof of the tallest building, surrounded by fireworks. I'm thinking you have on way too many clothes and I need to undress you."

Blair kissed Jim, wrapping himself tightly around his companion, squeezing for all he was worth. "What about the tribe?" he whispered as he broke the kiss.

"We've done all we can do for the tribe right now. This is our time." Jim was pulling off Blair's coat, unbuttoning the first layer of shirts and pulling them free.

"What if Simon calls?" Blair started on Jim's coat and shirt, blue eyes bright with desire.

"We'll answer, wish him a Happy New Year, tell him we're busy and hang up." Jim pulled Blair's long sleeve tee shirt out of the soft jeans, tossed it at the foot of their nest. Long fingers rubbed dark chest hair, tweaked the nipple ring.

Blair had gotten Jim's shirt off, and was working on the turtleneck sweater. Fierce tugging finally pulled it free and in a moment of devilment, he tossed the dark sweater off the platform where it drifted slowly toward the street.

Jim glared, then laughed. "That was a good sweater. I liked that sweater."

"I'll buy you another one." Fingers were busy on a belt and pants while a tongue teased a nipple taunt with cold. "Lift up."

Lots of tugging, pushing and pulling freed Jim from his pants. Blair grinned at his lover and made a motion to throw the pants over the street as well.

"You do that, and I'll make you go get them, without yours." Jim wagged his eyebrows, then took in Blair's half dressed state. "You have on too many clothes." He started on Blair's belt, working it loose and pulling it through the belt loops. Then he started on the buttons of his 501 jeans. Laughing, the two men rolled around the width of the camping pad and under the blanket until they were nude and Jim was lying on top of Blair, licking his neck. He glanced at his watch.

"11:58, lover. The fireworks are going to start any second." He kissed the lush lips. "Want you inside of me. Want you to claim what's yours' as the century turns." Jim kissed his love again, then reached over him and grabbed a bag out of the picnic basket. The little velvet pouch contained the necessary supplies and Blair laughed when Jim dumped them on his chest.

"My boy scout," Blair whispered.

"Be prepared, that's my motto." Jim went back to kissing and licking his lover's neck, working his way down to Blair's chest and nipples. He gently bit on the silver ring in the left one, then pulled on it.

Blair arched up with a shout. Above them the first rocket exploded in blue and green. The crowd on the street was counting down the last minute as another rocket whistled into the sky and exploded.

Jim rolled them over, putting Blair on top and spread his lover's legs, fondling the soft ass cheeks. "Please, lover. Want you." Another rocket boomed overhead and the yellow sparkles drifted down.

Blair nodded and got to his knees, grabbing the lube from where it had fallen. Jim lifted his legs and exposed himself to his lover, eyes closing as the slick fingers began to prepare him. The comforter made a tent around them, protecting exposed flesh from some of the chilly night air.

The voices from the street gained strength as the count down from ten started. "8! 7! 6!" Multiple rockets lit the sky over them, and their thunder shook the building.

Blair rolled a condom down his hard cock and bent to kiss Jim, aligning their bodies with a practiced hand. He slid into the warm tight opening that was waiting for him and nestled his balls against Jim's ass. Jim's arms were around him, the older man's legs over Blair's shoulders. Blair thrust deeply at the shouted count of "1!"

The grand finale of the fireworks started, hundreds of colors filling the sky with sparkles and explosions. The tower shook with each explosion and the colors were reflected on the metal roof.

"I LOVE YOU, BLAIR!" Jim screamed to the sky, back arching as he took each driving thrust into his body.

Blair laughed in joy. "I LOVE YOU, JAMES ELLISON. Hear that, Cascade?! I love James Ellison!" The fireworks died in the sky and the roar of the crowd welcoming in the new century filled the street below them. Blair pounded into his lover with sure, long strokes, his hand wrapped around Jim's erection matching his rhythm. They screamed as their joint orgasms ripped through them, adding their voices to the city below. Blair collapsed on his lover.

Jim stretched out his legs, flexing the cramped muscles, as he held the dear body close. He stroked the dark curls, and whispered love words into the sweaty hair. After a moment, Blair raised his head and leered at Jim.

"You did it. I can't believe you figured out a way to do it."

Jim opened his eyes and looked at his grinning lover. "Do what?"

"You figured out a way to shout our love to the world. That was pretty dramatic."

Jim grinned. "I told you I would if I could. Now I have."

Blair kissed his lover. "I have too." He eased himself out of Jim's body and reached for the packet of baby wipes that had been in their supplies and cleaned both of them. Then he settled back on Jim's chest and licked his love's neck. "I love you Jim, he whispered. "I can honestly say I saw stars while we made love."

Jim chuckled, which turned into a full laugh. He ruffled the dark curls. "I think that's a first for both of us, Chief." He pulled the comforter back around them.

The city was beginning to quiet a little, the occasional fire cracker still going off. The music from the street bands had settled to jazz and slow dance music. Jim stretched out his hearing a little, listening to his city as the excitement of the celebration died.

The phone rang. Ellison and Sandburg both groaned.

"If that's Simon saying he needs us, he'll have to come and get us." Blair groaned. He rolled off Jim and crawled free of the comforter He found the cellphone in the pocket of a balled up jacket and handed it to Jim. Then he pulled out a bottle of champagne from the cooler and started peeling off the foil.

"Ellison." Jim watched the white ass exposed for any chopper still flying above them to see.

//"Happy New Year, Jim."//

"Happy New Year, Simon. Everything under control?"

//"Looks like it. We caught our pesky bomber, the power is still on, so are the phones and the computers. So I'm officially telling you that you and Sandburg are off duty for the holiday. Good night, gentlemen."//

"Night, Simon." Jim closed the phone, then accepted the glass of champagne Blair was patiently holding.

"We're off-duty." Jim looked out over the city. "All's quiet."

Blair nodded. "Good." He touched his glass to Jim's. "Happy New Year, Jim."

"Happy New Year, Chief. May this one be less traumatic than the last one."

"I hear that." They interlaced their arms and drank their glasses of champagne. Then they settled the blanket around themselves and lay on their stomachs, side-by-side, watching the city until they fell asleep.

Happy New Year everyone