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That Essential Quality

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That Essential Quality

by Krisser

 

The often energetic and enthusiastic man could spend much time teaching, sharing adventures, talking but very little about Blair Sandburg was ever exposed. No one had yet to be curious enough to delve deeper. He knew that through all his travels that he had discovered hidden depths in others, and with a few, had seen into their very souls. And in all his travels, not one had tried to dig deeper into Blair. He had no one to share Blair Sandburg with. When he had first started out on the anthropological expeditions, he hadn’t worried much figuring there was time. Ten years later without a nibble, Blair had come to the conclusion that he lacked that essential quality that made others yearn for more in him.

He realized that he probably could have been content to experience new adventures and live on the fringes until he met Jim Ellison, a Sentinel.

That constant connection encouraged closeness and Blair had learned the multitude of layers that made up the complex man. As his guide, it was essential that he know as much as he possibly could. For that information could someday save the Sentinel of the Great City’s life. Never in all the time together, almost four years, did the Sentinel inquire about the guide. It was not necessary to the Sentinel’s job, so it was not required.

Deep within Blair, he wished on many occasions that Jim had been truly curious about the man. He accepted the stories that laid credence to some test or explanation of the sentinel abilities, never delving, never asking more. So Blair didn’t share Blair. And it mattered not to the sentinel. At moments such as this, Blair felt very alone.

But these musings helped him in his personal justification of his decision. Even without a dissertation to write, Blair had continued the research into all things Sentinel. He had discovered obscure works that Burton had referenced or obliquely referred to. He had discovered another step of the Sentinel/Guide relationships. A little discussed but important event and realized a change was a must to ensure Jim’s life.

So this Guide came to the painful conclusion that he must abandon his Sentinel and do what he must to create the circumstances that would provide Jim with a more suitable guide. His extensive research had fettered out some amazing and alarming hypotheses and Blair knew without a doubt that they were connected and correct.

Decided, Blair knew he had to prepare the way so that the new guide would have an easier time adapting and that the new guide and Jim would be aware of the next step of their journey.

Six weeks later

Blair was actually relieved that the fiasco with the dissertation took the decision away. Jim could now be certain that his secret would remain so and be relieved to know that his name would be no longer be found in print.

Sandburg was grateful that the Major Crimes group had wanted to help him from becoming the homeless observer by offering the job, but he knew that they’d never really want him. So it became the perfect break away point.

He’d had everything prepared for several weeks, just waiting for the perfect transition moment. He could leave knowing that Jim didn’t actually hate him, a small token.

The academy wouldn’t start for several weeks and as things happen for reasons, Jim was invited for a weeks fishing trip with his dad and brother…sans Sandburg.

He had assured Jim he was fine with it, Jim agreed to go. Though the parting was strained, as was most of their time together since Alex, Blair tried to convey his deep felt thanks for the last four years. Jim just nodded in his abstract way. Tears spilled down his face as he watched Jim drive away.

Blair gave his car to a loyal TA, left a letter for Simon conveying his thanks, notes for Joel and Megan. And of course, a letter for Jim.

He stored his stuff in a basement of a long time friend but gave most of it to the senior’s center. He took a cab to the airport, picked up his ticket and boarded the plane to Nepal. He cranked his necked so he could watch the mountains of Washington until they were just a memory.

---------

Jim was into the fourth day of fishing and he was almost bored. He puzzled on Blair’s odd goodbye, then finally put it down to their recent inability to communicate. So he was glad to see an emergency page on his beeper. He punched the well known number.

“Banks.”

“You called Simon?” Jim said into the phone.

“You’re not home yet?” Simon said by way of a greeting. Ellison sounded too calm.

“No, what’s wrong? Sandburg destroy something?”

Softly, “Sandburg’s gone. Resigned or whatever you do when you’re not on payroll.”

“What do you mean? He doesn’t want to be a detective. Gone, how?” Jim’s agitation was in his voice.

“He left town. You need to get back here now.” Simon didn’t want to disclose his conclusions over the phone.

“I’ll be home by ten p.m. Meet me there?” Jim didn’t want to face the loft alone.

Simon must have heard it in his voice as he agreed, “Ten p.m.”

--------

Simon was waiting as Jim pulled up in front of the loft. He had told his dad and brother that an emergency had come up, threw his stuff into the truck and had left.

Megan also got out of the car. Jim hardly looked at either in his haste to get inside. As soon as the door opened, Jim could feel the emptiness.

The loft looked practically vacant. Without Blair’s things it was surprising how little was left. Without Blair it was surprising how little of Jim was left, but he didn’t understand the gapping hole he felt.

There was an envelope for Jim in the key basket and he held it in his hands, unmoving as Simon and Megan followed him inside. Jim fingered the last thing he had from Blair, not really wanting to read it.

Simon stood next to Jim, in support and Megan went to the kitchen table where a familiar book lay surrounded by a multitude of papers. Hidden by the lot was a journal. Megan fingered through it and realized that it was left by accident and placed it on the book shelf, not sure that Jim was ready for it.

Simon had Jim sit on the couch before opening the letter. He didn’t know if it would be more or less than what he received and Jim wouldn’t like it either way.

Dear Jim,

First I want to tell you, I have no regrets about the press conference. It was proof positive that I can put friendship above work. I needed to know that too.

Man, I lived the dream, writing it down was my closure. The only copy left is in my safety deposit box. I made you power of attorney so you can get it when ever you want. It may be personal in parts, but honest. It will also help crystallize some aspects of your abilities.

It was a pleasure working, living, being with you. I’d spent my life observing and you provided a way for the first time to put that knowledge to use. I will never forget that or you.

Now, as to why I have left. I never stopped the research as your life was ever dependent on it. I’ve found some new and pertinent information that will be essential in saving your life down the road. As your guide I must ensure that all safeguards are taken.

So with a heavy heart, I say goodbye. For me to remain is selfish, I would put your life at risk.

On the table you will find a list of suggested guides, in order of suitability. The monograph is for the next guide.

The last six months has proved that our relationship was not close enough for Sentinel and Guide, so I bow gracefully aside to allow a more suitable one to take my place.

This is no way a reflection of my feelings for you. I love you and hold you in highest regard, always did.

I always took my guide duties seriously, too serious, you’d say, but nonetheless, I would be remiss to stop at this juncture.

Simon and Megan know, so I have enlisted their help to make the transition as smooth as possible.

With more love than you think I’m capable of,

Blair Sandburg.

Jim let the letter fall from his fingers and laid his head back, eyes closed. Soundless. Overwhelmed. He focused on the only thing left of Blair, a trace of his odor still lingered and Jim zoned.

Simon knew short of physical violence, Jim was out for a while. He was here to watch him, maybe this was a way to deal with it. He needed to talk with Conner.

“Megan, what did Sandburg say to you?” Simon asked as he sat at the table across from the Inspector.

“That a life and death situation would occur in the future with negative results unless Jim got a new guide. He asked me to help you with Jim. Simon, what was Sandy thinking? No one could replace him.” Megan was at a loss.

Simon looked over at the still zoning detective and shared his knowledge. “Blair believes that if some major problem occurs, then the spirit guides will provide Jim with a better guide. He said that he lacked the essential quality. Megan, the tone was frightening. Blair is never coming back.”

They sat silent as their thoughts reeled.

“Simon, Blair kept referring to new research data that he uncovered.” Megan said as her mind started to work on a solution.

“That book is awfully long to just start in looking for the answers.” Simon commented.

Actions matching her words, “If I hold the book closed and let it drop open, it will open to the most use section.” The book clanged as it hit the table, but it opened to an obviously well read area. “Look, there is lots of scribbling in the margins. I’ll need a magnifying glass to read it.”

Simon walked to Jim’s desk and retrieved the object. First they read the surrounded passages. Simon read it aloud, “Should the guide befall a horrific accident and the sentinel had remained aloof from the guide, the sentinel would be able to allow and accept a new guide. The sentinel that had bonded with the guide would no longer function.” Simon looked over at Jim and wondered what it really meant.

“Well, it’s obvious that Sandy thought that Jim would fall into the first category. But Simon, what is a horrific accident?” The Aussie’s accent was very thick at the moment.

Simon rubbed his face, the very tone of Blair’s letter to him was confirmed by those words, horrific accident. “Some event that either left the guide dead or incapacitated.”

“Oh, Sandy, why?” Megan whispered. She stared to hunt through the writings in the margins.

She read the faint scribblings: Only bonded sentinel/guide will be able to protect both ways. The bonding fosters a deeper connection. The sentinel’s enhancements will keep a mental link that will protect the guide. The guide will be left with a greater safety link, to intuitively know when their sentinel is in danger.

Without the bonding, this link is never established. Cited backup, Peruvian shaman writings, 1883.

“Bonding?” Simon asked. The spiritual side of this sentinel thing he had kept on a need to know basis, and he hadn’t the need to know. Guess now he did.

Megan worked it all over again in her head, all implied information. The date of the published book. The mores of the era.

“Sex, Simon. The bond is a sexual relationship. Which explains why all the suggested guides are women.” Megan sat back in the chair, hurting for the missing Sandy. She had always suspected that Blair had wanted exactly that with Jim. His deep love shone through with every action and gesture on his part. He only left now because he believed that Jim wouldn’t have that kind of relationship with him, so concluded he needed a female guide. Sandy could be right, but Megan’s inner self certified that the big doofus loved Sandy in return, he just didn’t know it.

“I see,” Simon sighed. He really did. It was the friendship thing tenfold and the current time wasn’t much more enlightened than Burton’s time.

“We have to tell Jim, and no matter what, we can’t let Sandy die.” Megan proclaimed loudly.

“Sandburg’s dying? Where? let’s go.” Jim said, panic leaping from him in waves.

Simon moved back over to Jim’s side. “Whoa, there. You zoned for an hour. You just overheard the last of our conversation. Slow down. Remember?”

Jim put his head in his hands as he moaned lowly, “Sandburg’s gone.”

“Jim, why don’t you get some sleep. Then in the morning we can discuss what Conner and I have read and make a plan for bringing home our errant detective to be. Okay?” Simon spoke softly, knowing that Jim wasn’t showing the pain he was feeling.

“Yeah, okay.” Jim slowly walked up the stairs. He rolled up into a ball on the bed still clothed and fell asleep.

Megan and Simon had already agreed to stay the night. Megan was into the research. After both Jim and Simon were asleep, Megan got the journal out and opened it. It was a new one with only one entry. Megan couldn’t help herself, she read it.

Friday afternoon------I seem to live for moments of praise from jim—they are few and far between

--he never tried to earn anything from me….but it didn’t matter, I stayed by his side anyway

---I learned from the Borneo offer that I’d best decline all offers----he was mad that I’d even consider an offer over two weeks----which is so funny--- a short project for an anthropologist is a year….I’ve been here three and a half.

-------but this last discovery, I have to change my mind---it could cost jim his life and as his guide I must protect him.----this will be the hardest thing I’ll ever do, the idea that I’ll never see him again just about kills me on the spot. ---But man, I just don’t have that special thing to keep people by me---oh well---I’d love to make it look like an accident cause I don’t want jim to guilt. He feels the loss of any life, hey even mine. end entry.

That was all and Megan cried. She didn’t think that Jim should read it. She hid it back on the shelf for now, and went to get some sleep.

Simon was up early, had the news on as he was making coffee. He sat in front of the TV so he could keep the volume low. He watched as they went to live coverage in Nepal. Simon got a bad feeling about it.

“Live, reporting from the base camp of Annapurna for the rescue efforts for anthropologist, Blair Sandburg…”

“JIM!” Simon shouted but the sentinel was already half way down the stairs. Simon turned the volume up as Conner joined them.

“The threat of avalanche has made sending the helicopter impossible. The ground team can’t get near Sandburg because of the wolf, but if they shot it, then Sandburg would fall.” The reporter’s face was replaced by the footage of Blair hanging over a cliff with a wolf paw trapping his hand. His foot appeared to be wedged and he looked conscious. The reporter’s voice continued, “This morning when rescuers attempted to climb up to the victim, the wolf growled and bared his teeth. From expert accounts, Sandburg is only still up there because the wolf is holding him in place. It also appears to wash his face.”

Jim was at the phone to the airport making a reservation. Two voiced me-toos had him make three. They had an hour to make to the airport and a fifteen hour flight. Jim hoped Blair lived that long.

Megan and Simon looked at each other….accident?

--------

After a restless sleep Jim broached the topic with his friend, “Simon, you and Conner just aren’t telling me everything. What and why’d Blair leave?”

Simon sighed, knowing he couldn’t avoid giving Jim all the facts as they knew them. “Sandburg dug up further research and discovered a deeper bond is necessary. He believes you don’t have it with him. He left so you could get a new guide.”

Everything within Ellison rebelled, “I don’t want a new guide.”

Megan looked crossed eyed at Simon and Simon rolled his eyes, he got to play bad cop.

“Why?”

Exasperated, “Cause Blair’s my guide.”

“You don’t treat him like one anymore. You don’t want him to leave the truck, you tell him to stay behind. How can he be the guide?”

An anguished voice whispered, “He died, Simon, he died. He wouldn’t have been put in that position if it wasn’t for me. Shot, stabbed, poisoned, dead.”

Simon stated very matter-of-factly, “But he’s not dead.”

“He was,” whispered Jim with his eyes closed, remembering.

“So what did you do? You locked him out,” Simon knew that no answer would be forthcoming. So he took a chance on his own observation skills and shock factor. “You should have left him dead.”

Everything within Jim screamed NO! “My god, Simon, how can you say that?” Disbelief warring with the fear that lived within him.

“Blair’s been dying a little bit every day. You locked him out of your life. Told him you didn’t need him. What did you expect him to do?” Simon’s sorrowful tone spoke louder than anger.

“Stay safe.”

“Well now he believes you need a new guide. So it went out to make it happen.” The dark man looked out the window, not wanting Jim to see all the implications in his face.

Panic welled, “What do you mean, make it happen?”

Conner answered, she had it memorized, “To quote Burton…..Should the guide befall a horrific accident and the sentinel had remained aloof from the guide, the sentinel would be able to allow and accept a new guide. The sentinel that had bonded with the guide would no longer function.” Megan dropped her voice, “Sandy believed you not to be bonded and that you can accept a female guide better.”

Confusion and fear, “Horrific accident? Bonded? A female guide? Damn, is he trying to die out there on that stupid mountain?”

Simon answered with his own fears, “Yes, Jim. I think that was his plan.”

Jim paled, “God, Simon, why? He didn’t have to be my guide if he didn’t want to. I wouldn’t have forced him.” Jim was crushed.

Megan thought to herself, ‘men’. “Jim, how do you feel right now? Are you willing to give Sandy up? Or like you’re about to die?”

Wide open eyes with pain stared back at her.

“Sandy believes you need a guide other than him. But to him, you are his life. To make your life work, he’s doing what he has to. He’d die anyway.”

Both Simon and Jim stared incredulously at the Australian woman.

Megan almost smiled, “Jim, you haven’t read Burton’s book at all, have you?”

Jim shook his head no.

“The references are hidden so it would not be to obvious, but most all guides and their sentinels had strong ties between them. If a sentinel died, usually the guide was quick to follow. In most cases if it went the other way, if the guide died, the sentinel either died or went mad. But Burton did find that occasionally, when a guide passed and the attachment wasn’t strong, the sentinel would get another guide. The last is what Sandy’s expecting.”

Emphatically, “I don’t want another guide, I want Blair.”

“Why?” Simon and Megan asked together.

“He’s been the one there for me, he knows me.”

“Jim, the bond’s next level is a full relationship, partners in all things.” Conner told him evenly.

Jim stared again, his heart racing.

“Sandy doesn’t think you’d want that type of relationship with him. So he’s paving the way for a new guide.”

Before Jim could think up a reply, the airline pilot announced they were to ready themselves for landing.

They landed in Katmandu and hired a car to get to the base of Annapurna. Blair was trapped at about fourteen thousand feet, almost half way up. From all reports, Blair was still alive, wolf still protecting him; weather and avalanche fear still made air rescue impossible.

On the drive, Jim sank into himself, keeping his eyes closed, fearful. In a moment, he was back in the Peruvian jungle, next to the temple.

// Enquire //

Jim turned and saw the spirit of Incacha, // Blair lives? //

His old spirit guide nodded, // Did you know your guide wants to die? But won’t until you find a new guide. //

The Sentinel of the Great City nodded sadly. He saw the panther, but the wolf was missing. // That’s his guide out there, keeping him alive? //

Incacha nodded //You must decide. He truly believes that you can accept another, though he can not. //

Jim Ellison was pissed, everyone was telling him this, // You’re saying that he’s bonded and I’m not. How in the fuck do you know? //

// Only you know. Look into your heart and trust what you find there // The knowing eyes locked on his.

Jim opened his eyes to the Himalayas. He thought of all Blair represented. His sanity for accepting and controlling his senses. His working partnership that was also a friendship.

What kind of friend had Blair been? He had always been completely accepting of Jim Ellison. His father had never given him that. He had given up his life’s work, he had humiliated himself for the friendship. He worked the bizarre schedule while teaching, eventually lost all his standing at the college. He lost his doctorate and all that without a backward glance.

Why?

Because their friendship was more important than the money and fame. Even after Alex.

What had he proven to Blair? That he could be an asshole. Hardly ever vocalized his appreciation. He had a place to live as long as he wanted. Jim only had a home if Blair was there. Carolyn hadn’t made it a home in the three years they were married, Blair had made it one in a single week.

So why did Blair continue as his friend?

Because Blair the man, accepted him as place to live as long as he wanted. Jim only had a home if Blair was there. Carolyn hadn’t made it a home in the three years they were married, Blair had made it one in a single week.

So why did Blair continue as his friend?

Because Blair the man, accepted him as is, understood all he never said. Until Alex. Since then Blair had been unsure. Then Jim had drowned himself in guilt, never revealed how elated he was, never rejoiced with his friend being alive.

Jim knew that he didn’t want Blair to leave, he wanted his friend and guide to stay at the loft for…. Jim stopped himself short …….for how long he asked ….his mind didn’t hesitate….forever. He never wanted Blair to leave, to have a life anywhere else. He was a selfish bastard.

Did he want Blair getting married? No. He didn’t want Blair in a relationship with anyone but himself, Blair was his.

How his?

Every way his.

He knew all his moods, his sounds, his scents and he wanted to know how he tasted.

Hell, he was bonded to Blair, they just hadn’t had sex yet.

Blair was his guide, his only guide.

The driver got them to the Annapurna campground base station at ten thousand feet. Jim knew he could get Blair. He asked for a thermal blanket and a thermos of coffee. He took off, leaving Simon to explain to the rescue workers and media.

He found strength within to fuel his body, he had to get to Blair. He practically ran up the last four thousand feet. With his enhanced vision, he could se the wolf thumping his tail in greeting. He could also see that Blair was actually wedged in the rock crevasse and not in danger of an immediate fall. Hypothermia was his real enemy. Jim was hoping that his guide’s animal spirit would keep him safe. The wolf had fooled the other people, that his paw on the human was only for show. So it was obvious to Jim that the wolf wanted him to retrieve his own guide. Blair’s spirit guide and Jim were on the same wavelength.

The media and the frustrated rescue team watched with binoculars as the wolf gleefully let the American and cover the victim with the thermal blanket and pull him to safety.

When Jim had Blair out of the crevasse, he pulled onto his lap and hugged him tight. “Chief, are you with me?”

“Humm, always.” Blair mumbled. “Cold.”

“Okay, let’s get you down, warmed up, then we will talk. But first, I just want to hold you, touch you. You’re mine, Chief.” Jim told as he wrapped him up tighter in the blanket. He turned to the wolf. “I’ve got him now, worry not, and thanks.” The wolf made eye contact, then took off for higher ground.

With the wolf gone the rescue workers were glad to meet Jim and Blair half way. They got their victim bundled up and off to the hospital. The three Americans followed, Jim wanted to avoid the media if possible.

At the hospital, Jim located Blair’s heartbeat as soon as he entered and followed the familiar rhythm to its source. His chest tightened about his heart at the sight before him. Chestnut hair fanned the pillow as his chest moved up and down with even beats. Alive. His Blair was alive and he would stay that way.

He moved to the side of the bed that had no IV’s or monitors attached. He picked up the unencumbered hand and held it tight in his grasp. He gently stroked the palm and inner wrist. Azure eyes opened slowly and locked with his. Jim smiled that special wattage smile that said all in life was good.

Blair kept his gaze on Jim, even as the doctors came in and did some final checks, the younger man’s eyes never left the blue that were fixed on him. The guide tried to read beyond the blatant message of happiness, but that seemed to be all there was and he didn’t wish to miss a second of the eyes that he never expected to see again.

Simon and Megan entered and their presence didn’t shift the gazes of the Sentinel and his guide. Conner knew that Jim had figured out his heart. She smiled at Simon.

Simon coughed and said aloud to the room, “Sandburg will get released this afternoon after the final tests are back. Seems the doctors are baffled that he hasn’t suffered more effects of hypothermia. Conner got us rooms. We head back tomorrow afternoon.” Banks waited in vain for a comment. He added, “We’ll just be outside.”

“Thanks, Simon.” Jim said, eyes never leaving Blair’s face.

The four of them got out closer to evening and stopped for dinner. They kept the conversation light as Simon shared some of the different ways that he and Conner avoided the press.

At the hotel, Megan had gotten three rooms, assuming rightly that Jim wanted to share with Blair. They agreed to meet for a late breakfast and finally Jim had Blair alone. The man with deep feelings but poor communicative skills knew he needed to dig deep and speak from his heart.

Blair lay back in the bed, sitting up and Jim sat across from him in an overstuffed chair. Words swirled in his head and he tried desperately to arrange in some sort of order.

“Chief, you are my guide, my only guide. I can’t accept any other, cause if anything happened to you, I…I wouldn’t be able to do anything.” Jim waved off Blair’s look of interruption, “I need to say this…all this first, okay Chief?”

Blair watched as his sentinel struggled to get the words out and nodded his compliance.

“Blair, I failed you. In my guilt, I let my fear guide me and things got worse. The worst moment in my life was finding you dead in that fountain. I wouldn’t accept it and somehow you were alive. And my fear grew. I doubted my ability to protect and keep you safe. And god, Chief, I needed to keep you safe. So I did it the Ellison way. I locked you out. If you didn’t get near, you’d be safe, and more importantly, I thought I’d be safe. You weren’t, I wasn’t. I got angry and I communicate so well when I’m angry.”

The guide couldn’t help the smile that escaped at that.

“I let my fear control me and that forced you to label your work and yourself a fraud. I am so sorry. Inside, I really didn’t believe that you would betray us, I was afraid that you would have no reason to stay. And here is where you can see I really earned those detective’s of the year. I didn’t see that friendship, real friendship kept you here, not the paper. I didn’t see that you loved me even after you knew me. I didn’t see anything but my fear.”

Jim got up and stood by the window, he fingered the curtain as he continued speaking, “I may have been born with the over achieving senses, but I’m a Sentinel because of you. I am a better person because of you. And I denied it all in fear.” Jim looked at the honest eyes that sent encouragement his way and sighed deeply. “I thought in all my attempts to protect you, keep you safe, I was keeping the civilian observer safe. When Zeller shot you, even though you had on the vest, until you spoke, it was like I couldn’t breath. I knew that you had become someone I cared about. That feeling grew but I never labeled it until yesterday.”

Blair wanted to ask what it was, but he could read Jim’s body language and knew that this speaking out was very important to him, so with great control on his patience, he remained silent.

Jim paced the room and ended up sitting on the bed. “Your….your letter…….after reading it I zoned. Simon says for about an hour. Conner figured it all out with Burton’s book. Chief, we gotta learn to talk more,” Jim grinned at Blair’s raised eyebrows. “Blair, there is no other guide for me. You, Blair Sandburg are it. Mine.” He reached out and touched the cheek of his beloved’s face, “I love you. The kind of love that makes me want the next step in the sentinel/guide thing real bad.”

Blair leaned into the hand resting on his face and closed his eyes on hearing the words he thought impossible. Softly, he said, “Jim.”

His thumb brushing back and forth over the soft skin, “Please, let me finish this.” Blair smiled. “Chief, ……Blair, I’ve never looked at men, gone for them. With you, that doesn’t even enter into it. Might be why it took so long to figure it all out,” Jim shrugged self consciously, “It’s not about, girl, guy or guy, guy. It’s about finding the missing piece of myself. You.” Jim reached out with his arms and Blair was inside the embrace before either drew another breath. Hearts racing, each held the other tight.

With his chin resting on Blair’s head, Jim couldn’t believe how very right this felt. He took in a deep sniff of the Blair scent and let the odor dance in his blood. He whispered in the closest ear, “There is something so special about you, unlike others. You stayed when anyone else would have run screaming. Everything that I have, that I am, I love you, Blair.” He pulled the nestled head back and looked deep into the eyes he hoped to see the rest of his life with, they smiled at him. He dipped his head and rested his lips on his guide’s. They met his with equal strength.

Lips parted and tongues delved. They plundered, sucked, explored, every inch of the warm cavern. Jim tasted Blair and now nothing would ever satisfy him but this taste, this essence. The Sentinel sniffed and licked his guide’s neck and throat, reveling in the purring vibrations against his lips. His tongue continue its explorations to the chest, the fine hairs a sensual delight to the sense-heightened sentinel. Shirt off in a single move, he ran his teeth lightly down his lover’s chest. The tie of the sweats was pulled and they along with the boxers underneath were removed in a simple compact motion. The Sentinel’s nose never lifted from the skin it could bury itself in.

The darker hair of the groin beckoned and the Sentinel could not resist its lure. He rubbed his face across it, breathing deep and he would have zoned but for the anchoring touch of his guide’s touch on head and neck. He rubbed his cheek along the smooth skin of his guide’s cock, nosing it, memorizing its smell. The desire to taste was overwhelming and Jim heeded its call. He drew in the cock slowly, swirling his tongue about each new expanse of skin drawn in. The gasps, the bucking hips, the low throat growls all reassured him that his guide was enjoying the experience as much as he.

Never once did he question himself about Blair’s maleness. He knew it was right, where he belonged and he lavished all his unexpressed love to the single recipient able to unleash it. His soul connecting love he expressed with his physical body. Every touch, lick, kiss, suck conveyed his love and joy, intensifying the sensations for his lover and himself.

Blair’s gyrations changed, signaling his nearing climax. Jim intensified his sucking and caresses and a symphony of sounds assailed his ears as Blair screamed his name as he bestowed all his seed into the eagerly awaiting mouth that needed to memorize that taste, the taste of his Blair’s passion.

Jim made his way up to claim the lips that cried out his name. The kiss was knowing and secretive.

Blair knew that Jim would need more than the words, so he would show Jim his love for him. The guide took control of the kiss. First plundering Jim’s mouth with a force he’d never known. Love and lust were conveyed as the teeth and tongue paid homage to the inner mouth and throat. Blair moved his lips reluctantly away and nibbled ears and then throat, running his teeth over Jim’s Adam’s apple. These sensations, hereto unknown, sent tingling shivers up the sentinel’s spine. He held on to the edge of the bed to remind himself that he was still planet bound.

As Blair would talk and gesture quickly, his tongue worked in much the same way. It stayed in no one place very long, making Jim yearn for more, missing its absence and anticipate its next landing all at the same time. Never had his control ever been stripped away such as this and for Jim, a revelation. He trusted Blair so much that he could release all control without fear. That was in its own right intoxicating, he’d never given up total control before.

Blair lavished the nipples with his tongue and fingers. Back and forth, never resting, sending sensual spikes to each nerve ending. The guide could see his sentinel was hard and leaking, he needed his release. He also knew that he had control, but instinctively knew that the Sentinel needed to claim his guide. Blair knew how to do both.

He lifted off Jim’s body and smiled at the sounds of displeasure, but assured the questing eyes that he would return. Sentinel eyes followed his movement to his backpack where he retrieved his massage oil. He kissed his lover as he lay beside him. He halted Jim’s movement with a single finger and whispered, “Watch.”

His uncapped the bottle and poured some into his hand, warming it before coating Jim’s cock. Jim closed his eyes in bliss at the exquisite feelings. But his eyes opened quickly at the whispered word again.

“Watch.”

Blair poured more oil and coated a single finger and prepared himself for Jim. The sentinel’s senses were transfixed on his guide’s movements. The scent of the oil, the scent of Blair, the scent of arousal, strong and growing, combined with the visual of watching as one finger moved in and out, then withdrawn to be replaced by two, then three. Jim fought himself not to touch. He knew what Blair was planning and he wanted to experience it however Blair wanted him to.

His bewitching guide removed all fingers then reached up to kiss him deep before saying into his mouth, “Watch.”

Jim could do nothing else as his eyes followed Blair sitting on his groin, rubbing against him. Then his guide lifted himself above his throbbing cock and slowly, achingly slow, sat atop that yearning shaft until it was lost from sight and sensation was all that Jim could understand. He forced his eyes opened and kept them connected to Blair’s face as the keeper of his heart moved. Up and down, slow and fast. Blair also used his fingers to tease the balls he nearly sat upon.

Jim begged, “Oh please….”

Blair changed to pounding strokes as he drove Jim higher into the realm of sensation alone and Blair’s name was ripped from Jim as his orgasm blasted into the waiting canal. The knowing was enough to tip Blair himself over the edge and he came on Jim’s stomach and chest. The guide collapsed right on to it as he rested on Jim’s chest, with Jim still sheathed inside his warm body.

It took several minutes for Jim to remember how to use his vocal cords. The man known for his lack of verbosity showed why with, “Wow.”

The guide smiled into the neck he had his face nestled into.

Again the articulate man tried to communicate, “I……never……wow.”

Blair pulled the cover up and over the two of them. Before succumbing to slumber Blair said aloud, “I love you.” Arms tightened about him even in sleep.

Jim awoke first, finding Blair tucked in at his side, hair and legs draped over him. Feelings of rightness and joy bombarded him and he could feel tears threaten. He fingered the chestnut curls as he whispered, “Don’t let this be a dream.”

“Since I’m sharing the same one as you, it’d be okay,” the blue eyes sparkled as Blair smiled up to the solid form of his happiness.

“It took me too long to figure it out, but I know it now, I love you, Chief. The forever kind.” Jim looked down into the smiling eyes of his guide, still fingering the curls.

“And I love you, Jim. Good days and bad, doesn’t matter, remember that, hold it close. There is no other that could fill my heart.”

“I’m ready to take that trip with you, Chief, that one and every one to follow.”

Eyes connected, lips met. Together, their heart, mind and souls forged a link that time itself would be unable to break as love was the binding. As an almost tangible feeling, they sighed together and deepened the kiss.

fini