Begging the excuse of having to check in with his sentries, Jim left Blair at the door to their hut and made good his escape. Blair wasn't in the least bit fooled, but he knew that he had to do some more reading before he could even begin to formulate ideas for testing Jim's abilities. He went inside the hut and perused Grace Ellison's treasure trove. The first of her journals about Jim was pulled out, and Blair managed to unearth a blank notebook and a few pencils.
As he assembled his supplies, he realized that he was hungry and that it must be around time for the mid-day meal. Gathering what he needed, he headed for the fire-circle, snagging a bowl of the usual stew. He found a place to sit down and opened the journal, and began reading.
"You have found the Doctor's books, then?"
Blair looked up, startled, and blinked to bring the face in front of him into focus. It was a young man, probably in his mid-teens, and Blair realized with surprise that the young man spoke to him in his own language.
"You speak English?"
The young man nodded and sat down on the ground next to him. "There is missionary school in town near my village. My family send me there many winters, to learn of white men's language and ways. I learn much Spanish and some English."
"Then you're not from this village?" Blair asked, wondering if he was also a refuge from another destroyed village.
"No. I am Tutapurimi. I come here to learn from my Shaman."
"Ah," Blair said, nodding. "Jim mentioned you - you're a Sentinel, too, and Incacha is your Guide."
"Yes." Tuta gestured towards the journal in Blair's lap. "You learn from Doctor's words, yes? You learn how to guide Enqueri?"
"I hope so," Blair said with a sigh. "I have a feeling that it's not going to be as easy as it looks."
"Incacha says nothing worth having is easy," Tuta said sagely. "Incacha is right about many things."
"You like Incacha, don't you?"
"Incacha save my life," Tuta said simply.
Blair closed the journal and gave Tuta a curious look. "How?"
Tuta hesitated, as if unsure of the words. "I don't have English to explain - you speak Spanish, yes?" As Blair nodded, Tuta launched into rapid Spanish. "All my life, I am different. Things sharper to see, to feel, to touch, to taste. I hear things I should not. When I am twelve, everything gets very, very bad. Voices in my head, food burn me, clothing hurt, parents very scared. Priest from school say I am possessed by devil and must repent, only I don't know for what - not bad boy, me. Think I must kill self, only afraid to go to hot place. Village shaman heard of other like me, sent for Incacha." A smile blossomed on his face at that. "When he touched my hand, everything went soft and quiet. Slept for first time in month. When I wake, Incacha tells me I am special person, that he will help me and care for me, always. We are to be one, he says."
Blair carefully hid the shock he felt at hearing that. "You and Incacha are - intimate?" At the young man's blank look, he sighed and said, "You sleep together?"
"No," Tuta said mournfully. "Incacha will not share pallet with me till I am sixteen." Then he brightened. "Only a year and then I shall be a man. And then Incacha and I will share all things, like you and Enqueri."
Blair frowned slightly, thinking over some of the things that others had said to him. Slowly, he said, "Because you are Sentinel and Guide."
"Yes," Tuta said, nodding his head. He looked beyond Blair and frowned slightly. "Incacha is back and smells tired - I go to make sure he is all right."
Blair grinned at that, recognizing a little of Jim's overprotective attitude in the younger Sentinel. Must be a common trait, he thought, and wondered if Grace had made note of that in her observations of Jim as he grew up.
"Deep thoughts, Chief?" came a familiar voice from nearby, and he looked up to see Jim smiling down at him. The sight made his heart flip-flop, and he was unaware that an answering smile lit his own face.
"Hey, Jim." He held up the journal. "Just going over your mom's notes. There's some pretty fascinating stuff here, man."
Jim groaned as he sat down on the log beside Blair. "You say one word about me as a baby, and you die a slow and painful death, Sandburg."
Blair laughed but said, seriously, "I doubt that you could do that, Jim."
"Do what?" He looked up as one of the women brought him a bowl of stew and nodded his thanks.
"Hurt me. I was talking with Tuta and I got to thinking that Sentinels are probably, like, genetically predisposed to protect their Guide. What do you think, Jim? Do you think you feel - compelled somehow to watch out for me?"
Jim stared down at his stew, absently poking at it with the spoon. "I wasn't in the neighborhood."
"Huh?" Blair asked, not comprehending the change in subject.
Jim looked up at him briefly, then down at the bowl again. "The day we rescued you. You asked me if I was just in the neighborhood and decided to do my good deed for the day. I wasn't."
O-kay, Blair thought. "So you were there because - ?"
"I knew you were in danger."
Blair's eyes widened. "From how far away."
Blair's jaw dropped open. "Jim! That's - wow - man, that's incredible! The range is unbelievable! And - considering how far away I was and how long it took to get there - you must have known that I was in danger before Kincaid's people actually attacked us." He opened the empty journal and began scribbling rapidly, muttering, "I wonder how far your range is, if there's some way we could test it - "
"You are not going to put yourself in danger deliberately, Chief," Jim growled. "Not for some damn test."
Blair looked up with a brief grin. "Oh, yeah, your protective instincts are definitely kicking in here."
"Sandburg, do I have to tie you to the hammock, or are you going to listen to me?"
Blair flung up his hands reassuringly. "I promise, okay? I won't do anything to put myself in danger, so ease off."
Jim gave him a suspicious look, but Blair widened his eyes and did his best innocent look, so the Sentinel finally turned his attention back to his dinner. Blair grinned and returned to scribbling notes, wondering what else Jim was genetically programmed to do with his Guide. Remembering what Tuta had said regarding sex, he flushed and bent his head further over his notebook.
Jim felt the abrupt rise in heat from the man next to him but, since Blair was busily involved in writing notes, figured it must be the rush of scientific discovery that was exciting him. He pushed down his feelings of disappointment and concentrated on finishing his food.
That night, as Blair lay in his hammock listening to Jim attempt to get settled on his pallet above, their conversation came back to him. "Jim?"
"Did I ever thank you for saving my life?"
He heard Jim's soft laugh. "Only about a million times - and that was just on the trip back here."
"Good. I was afraid I might have forgotten to mention it." Blair was silent for a few minutes. "Jim?"
"What now, Sandburg?"
"The Chinese believe that if you save a man's life, you're their Blessed Protector for life."
He heard Jim snort. "Yeah, well -as your Blessed Protector - if you don't shut up and go to sleep, I'm gonna come down there and kick your butt."
Blair laughed. "Good night, Jim."
Blair could almost hear the smile in Jim's voice, and he snuggled down under his blanket and fell asleep.
Jim was already gone when he awoke in the morning, although once again he had left breakfast for Blair. The anthropologist snorted when he saw that and murmured, "Blessed Over-protector," but he was touched by Jim's actions.
He finished breakfast and rinsed the dishes, then tidied up the hut a bit -although it would undoubtedly fail Jim's tidiness requirements. The laundry basket was pretty full, so Blair hefted the woven basket into his arms and headed down towards the lake. He grinned as he thought about what his friends back home would say if they could see him, but consoled himself with the knowledge that village's female population would probably be gathered for the same task and that their grapevine always provided the best information in any community.
He was welcomed with loud cries of "Yachacheq!" and much fussing over his load. No fool, Blair allowed himself to be liberated from the task of washing but sat down with the women to socialize. By pointing at some objects and looking quizzical, he was able to add some more Chopec words to his vocabulary, although the women laughed quite a bit at his first attempts. Still, by the time the laundry was washed and ready to carry back up to the hut, he was feeling pretty good about his progress.
As he turned to head back up the path, he was pleased to see Tania approaching with her own basket of laundry. Over the past two days, he had only glimpsed her on the edges of the village, which was not enough to reassure him that she was all right.
"Tania!" He set down the basket and headed towards the woman.
She looked up and smiled. "Senor Sandburg! Isabet said that she had spoken with you - and I hear that you have been accepted into the village - Yachacheq."
Blair laughed. "Oh, that. Just told a few stories - you know how good I am at talking." Tania rolled her eyes at that. "I'm glad to see you. I wanted to make sure you're okay."
Tania's brow wrinkled. "Of course. Why would I not be?"
Blair felt himself flush a little. "Because - well - you were taken in by a - by a stranger and - and I thought there might be certain expectations that might be - difficult for you."
Tania smiled at his embarrassment and touched his cheek. "Senior, it is all right. I am willing, Mato is handsome, and he treats me well."
"But - but he's a complete stranger!"
She shrugged. "My father had arranged marriage to a man from another village - also a stranger. What difference if I marry him or Mato?" She eyed him knowledgeably. "And you have known Enqueri for as long as I have known Mato, yes?"
He started to protest that it wasn't the same, then realized that it was, and flushed even more. He was just trying to get him words sorted back out when they were joined by one of the young warriors, the one he recognized as Mato. She was smiling up at the young man in a way that reassured Blair, but the look on Mato's face as he glared at the anthropologist was anything but reassuring.
"What is your business here, gringu?" he asked belligerently in the native language, pushing Tania behind him.
Blair didn't understand what he was saying, but he didn't like the way that Mato was pushing Tania around. "Hey! Cool it, jungle boy! The lady and I were talking."
Mato growled at the hand gestures Blair made to indicate himself and Tania, and shoved Blair back. "Are you challenging me for her?"
"Whoa!" Jim appeared suddenly, intervening his body between the two angry men. "No one is challenging anyone!" he told Mato.
"You ask him why he is seducing my woman!"
Jim turned his head and frowned at Blair. "Chief, Mato seems to think that you are trying to seduce his woman."
"His woman! She's a person, not a possession, and her name is Tania!"
Mato stiffened at the sound of Tania's name but Jim held up his hand to silence him and he backed down, his face dark with anger.
Jim turned around and gave Blair a stern look. "Just answer the question, Sandburg."
Blair blew out an exasperated sigh. "No. I am not trying to seduce Tania. I have no interest in Tania whatsoever - except as a friend. I just wanted to make sure that she was okay."
Jim sighed. "Chief, the messes you get yourself into..." He turned back to face Mato. "Yachacheq does not desire your woman. He feels as if she is his sister, and he feels great responsibility for his ayllu. As the remaining qhari of their village, it is his duty to make sure that Tania's mate is a good provider."
Mato looked mollified at that, although he said sulkily, "It is not his concern. There was no bride price."
"Hence his worry," Jim said gravely. "Since he could not see the wealth of your house, he has no surety that you can take care of his pana properly." He reached out to clasp the warrior's arm firmly. "I know you are a good man, Mato, and a fine hunter. I will explain to Yachacheq that he need have no worries about Tania's future."
Mato nodded his head in reply, and Jim turned back to Blair, grasping his arm. In a low voice he said, grimly, "Not a word, Chief. Unless you fancy going mano-y-mano with our pal here." He began towing Blair towards the path leading back to the village.
Mato wasn't quite done with them yet, though. "Enqueri!" he called out to Jim's back. "Perhaps you should divert Yachacheq's attention to other matters, like your bed instead of other men's."
Jim ignored Mato, but once they were away from the lake, he turned on Blair and said, furiously, "This isn't a classroom, Sandburg! Here, sticking your nose into someone else's business can get you killed!"
"Well, excuse me for worrying about a friend!" Blair snapped.
"You sure that's all it was?" Jim said sarcastically. "Not that you were more personally interested?"
"I don't believe you, man!" Blair shouted, stomping away furiously, then turning to glare at Jim. "I was only concerned for her, not trying to get into her bed!"
"That's good," Jim growled. "Because you're mine!"
For the second time since they had met, Blair found himself pinned to a tree by the Sentinel. But what a difference this time! Not only was that long, lean body pressed fully against his but a hot mouth was devouring his like a starving man. And he was clutching the bigger man's arms again but this time, instead of trying to push him away and soothe him, he was trying to pull Jim closer. A hard knee thrust itself between his knees rubbed his already attentive erection, and he groaned into the mouth covering his. His hands moved to grasp a rock-hard ass, pressing their lower bodies closer together.
A gasp and a groan from the bigger man barely caught his attention, or the softly muttered, "Blair." But the lips and teeth making their way down his jaw towards his neck definitely did and he tilted his head to the side to give Jim better access. His eyes were screwed shut and he knew that he was saying something stupid like "Yes - Jim - shit - again - yessss!" but it didn't seem to matter. Feeling slightly drunk with emotion, he grinned and reflected that Jim probably wasn't paying attention and that the other man had as little blood left his brain as Blair did.
And then a bite and a determined suck along just that spot on his collarbone made him buck forward, pushing his needy cock against a similar bulge in Jim's pants, and it was all too much. He exploded in a million pieces, shouting his release into a mouth that was suddenly covering his again.
When he could breathe again, he found himself still against that damn tree but he wasn't in any hurry to move. In the first place, he had the feeling that the tree was the only thing keeping his jelly- filled legs from buckling completely. In the second place, there was a heavy body still pinning him to the tree. A body whose owner sounded like he had just run the 100 meter in record time, his forehead pressed against the tree next to Blair's hair. Blair grinned a little smugly as he realized that the Sentinel had come in his pants, too, and mentally patted his own back.
There was a growl to the voice that made Blair stiffen slightly and swallow hard. Jim sounded mad, and a pissed-off Sentinel was definitely high on the list of things that Blair didn't want to see. "Um - J-Jim - I -"
He halted when he realized that the head beside his had turned and that Jim was nuzzling his neck. No, Jim was sniffing his hair and nuzzling his neck. Just like a big cat scenting his territory.
An involuntary laugh escaped from him and Jim raised his head, meeting his eyes with a smile on his own face. "You sound pretty happy there, Chief."
"I think I must've hit my head one time too many - I'm obviously suffering from weird hallucinations."
Strong fingers threaded through his hair, rubbing soothingly. "Really?"
Blair let his eyes slide closed, enjoying the massage. "Um-hmm. For example, I just imagined that we humped each other against a tree."
"Pretty improbable," Jim agreed, his face impassive as his fingers unerringly found just the right spot. "A bed would make a lot more sense."
Blair grinned. "We'll have to try that next time."
Blair's heart fell and he mentally kicked himself for making an assumption that this was more than just a one-shot deal. Probably just another one of those instinctual Sentinel things, putting the beta-male in place. He swallowed hard, trying to force a noncommittal look on his face, ready to laugh the whole thing off. Which suddenly became more difficult as Jim was leaning in again, nuzzling his ear.
"Next time," Jim murmured into his ear, "I plan to do a lot more than just hump you."
Blair's eyes flew open and he stared, open-mouthed but speechless at the Sentinel.
"What?" Jim asked, amused and slightly annoyed.
"You mean this wasn't just a one-time thing? Like like marking your territory?"
Jim smiled and there was something predatory about it that made Blair shiver with arousal. "Are you my territory, Chief? Do you belong to me?"
"Yes," Blair whispered, mesmerized. "God, yes."
"Good." Jim brushed his lips over Blair's. "Because I belong to you, too." He kissed Blair again, a brief kiss bright with promise, then pushed away from the other man and the tree, heading towards the village without another look at Blair. "Oh, and Chief?"
"Yeah?" Blair's voice was a croak as he sagged helplessly against the tree.
"This is definitely more than a one-time thing."
Blair could feel the grin burst across his face and he hurried after Jim. "Are you trying to seduce me, James Ellison?"
"Quick, aren't you, Sandburg?" Jim turned his head and his eyes gleamed at the younger man. "So is that a 'yes'?"
"What I don't get dinner and flowers first?"
"Fresh outta roses, Chief but I promise to respect you in the morning."
"Yeah, yeah. If I had a dollar for every time I've heard that line," Blair mock-grumbled, following Jim into their hut. He was startled when Jim stopped suddenly and turned around, making Blair bump into him. With another sudden mood change, Jim smiled and raised his hand, smoothing back Blair's hair.
"I'll always respect you, Blair," he said softly.
"Sap," Blair said, affectionately, and pressed a kiss on Jim's lips. "Take me to bed, big man."
"God," Jim muttered, grabbing the bottom of Blair's shirt and yanking it over his head. He ran his hands lightly over Blair's chest, reveling in the feel of the hair over firm flesh. "You are so beautiful."
Blair flushed. "You think so?"
"Yeah," Jim breathed, his hands ghosting over Blair's nipples. Blair groaned and arched into the touch, while his hands anchored themselves on Jim's hips to pull their groins tighter together. Jim bit back a groan, trying to keep some blood in his brain long enough to ask a few vital questions. "Have you ever - "
"Yeah," Blair said breathlessly, attempting to think while those incredibly skillful hands continued their explorations. "I'm bi, been on both top and bottom. Not recently, though - and I checked out clean before I left." At Jim's puzzled look he said, "AIDS, Jim. I know you haven't been in the jungle that long."
Jim shrugged. "Long enough. I haven't been with anyone in a while, not since Incacha found Tuta."
There was a sad tone in his voice that tore apart Blair's heart and he hugged Jim tightly. "Well, you got me now, Jim, and you just try to get rid of me!"
Jim wrapped his arms around Blair, reveling in the idea that he was finally holding his Guide and lover. "Never," he breathed.
"So - you prefer top or bottom?" Blair asked, nuzzling Jim's neck as his body urged him to get back to business.
"I've always topped - "
"I'm cool with that," Blair said.
" - because I was waiting for you."
There was silence for a long moment as Blair pulled back to stare at Jim in surprise. "Oh, God, Jim!" he breathed, and then went into a frenzy of motion. Jim's shirt was ruthlessly stripped off and tossed in one direction, and his shorts were yanked down to his ankles as Blair began a worshipful exploration of his lover's body.
"Beautiful, so beautiful," he murmured, his hands caressing Jim's smooth chest, running down across his stomach and then caressing the cock that was already hardening under his attentions. He went to his knees and ran his tongue along the length of the hard flesh, and found the combination of sweat and Jim's earlier climax to be a heady combination.
"Chief," Jim groaned, clutching at Blair's head. "Thought we were - gonna do this - in bed."
"Mmm," Blair said, his mouth occupied with exploring his new toy, but he reluctantly yielded to Jim's tugging and let go of Jim's cock. He untied Jim's boots and pulled them off, then stripped off the shorts and stood back up to capture Jim's mouth for a long kiss.
"Bed," Jim gasped when released and tugged Blair towards the ladder.
Blair looked up at the loft bed and swallowed. "Um, Jim? I sorta have a problem with heights."
Jim looked up at the bed, then back at Blair. "It'll be okay, Chief. The rails around the outside are tightly lashed and sturdy - there's no way you can fall. You go up the ladder first, and I'll be right behind you."
Blair nodded and hurried up the ladder before he could have a chance for second thoughts. He sat down on the pallet and watched as his naked lover followed him up, then belatedly realized that he was still mostly dressed. He began unlacing his boots, only to have his hands gently but firmly pushed aside.
"I'll do this, Chief." Jim untied each boot and, with a fine disregard for the rules, tossed them over the side. Blair's shorts followed, and the younger man leaned back on his elbows to allow his new lover to get a good look at his body.
"God," Jim breathed, his eyes drinking in all of Blair, lingering on the thick, aroused cock.
Blair grinned. "Haven't even gotten started and you're already worshipping me."
"Always," Jim said, stretching out alongside Blair on the pallet. His hand automatically went out to play with the hair on Blair's chest. "I've never had a lover with so much chest hair."
Before Blair could anxiously ask if it was too much, Jim leaned over and rubbed his face against the other man's chest, his lips seeking out a nipple. Blair groaned at the feeling of soft licks against the hardening nubs and his hands slid up to hold Jim's head against his chest.
"Good," he moaned. "Yes - more - yes!"
Jim obligingly moved to the other side and began lavishing attention on it, while his hands continued to play with the first one. Blair groaned and writhed under the attention, thankful that he'd already had one climax or he'd never be able to last. Jim's mouth moved downward, licking and sucking his way to the cock that was standing straight up by now. He flicked his tongue across the hard flesh and grinned as he heard Blair try to swear and groan at the same time.
Responding to the urgent tug on his arm, he moved back up to lay down alongside Blair, sharing another intense kiss with him. Then it was Blair's turn to pin him down and explore the sleek body again, his mouth and hands worshipping in duet. "You're so damned perfect," he muttered. "I don't know why you're even looking at me." An unpleasant thought hit him and he sat back on his heels. "Unless it's just the Sentinel/Guide thing."
Jim sat up swiftly and grabbed Blair by his arms. "It's not the Sentinel/Guide thing. This is about you, Blair Sandburg, and me, Jim Ellison. Nothing else."
Blair's doubtful eyes met Jim's, and the truth was so apparent in those clear blue eyes that his doubts evaporated. He wrapped his arms around Jim, kissing him hard, devouring him from the inside out.
Jim broke the kiss, murmuring against his lover's lips, "Fuck me, Blair."
Blair drew in a ragged breath. "Shit, Jim." He drew in another breath, trying to calm his racing heart. "We need some kind of lubricant." Jim reached out with one hand, snagging a pot sitting beside the pallet, and handed it to Blair.
"Always prepared, big guy?" Blair asked with a grin.
Jim shrugged self-consciously. "I - um - needed something - my skin is sensitive - "
"Uh - huh." He kissed Jim again. "Turn over, Jim. It'll be easier for your first time."
Jim nodded and rolled over onto his belly, shifting a pillow under him. Blair maneuvered between his legs, leaning over to trail kisses and bites down Jim's back while one lubricated finger began stroking lightly over Jim's opening. The Sentinel groaned under the combined sensations and pushed back against the teasing finger.
"Blair," Jim gasped. "Please...Do something..."
Blair responded by nipping at Jim's shoulder while pressing a finger inside, and he heard a groan that was pure pleasure.
Blair stroked his finger in and out, adding a second when his lover seemed loose enough to take it, enjoying the wild sounds that Jim was making as he rocked back and forth on Blair's fingers. Judging that Jim was relaxed enough to take him, he leaned up and bit his lover's earlobe, murmuring, "I'm gonna take you now. I'm going fuck this hot, tight ass, and you're gonna love it so much that you're gonna come screaming."
"God, Blair!" Jim moaned. "Do it! Do it!"
Blair slicked up his cock and slowly pressed it against the opening. He couldn't contain the groan as he felt himself slowly slide into the tight heat. "God, Jim - you're so perfect, so damn hot - "
Jim was still and silent for a moment, and Blair paused, unwilling to hurt his lover in any way. Then Jim drew in a shaky breath, pressing backwards slightly, and growled, "Sandburg, if you don't do something now, I'm gonna kill you."
Blair couldn't help the laugh that escaped, and he slowly thrust in and out, going a little deeper each time. Jim groaned and shifted his hips a little, taking Blair deeper, and it was so perfect, so hot. It had been so long since he'd wanted anyone this badly, needed anyone this much, and Blair could barely keep himself from just grabbing Jim's hips and fucking him senseless. Jim was moaning under him, breathless exhortations and moans, intermixed with a few words as he begged his lover to fuck him harder, faster, more, more, more. Blair ignored the impatient demands and continued his steady thrusting as he reached around to grasp Jim's cock with his lubricated hand, pumping him in time to his thrusts.
Jim cried out, a few words mixed in with his gasps and moans. "Shit...yes...god yes...oh god...oh god...oh more..."
Blair thrust deeper and deeper, feeling his own controls unraveling around the edges. "Jim...god...want you...so much..."
The pleasure was building within him, burning higher and hotter, and he felt the fire burn his fingers as Jim shuddered and jerked underneath him, crying out his name as he came in convulsive waves. Blair shouted at the clenching of the body around his, then thrust in harder. And it was so good and he was coming and god, it had never, ever been this good before in his entire life.
He collapsed on Jim's back, shuddering under the aftermath, and pressed soft kisses against the sweaty back. "God, Jim," he managed to gasp. "You are so fucking hot."
Jim laughed breathlessly. "You're not - so bad - yourself -Chief."
Blair eased out of his lover's body and collapsed on his back on the pallet, tugging Jim into his arms. The other man's eyes were closed but he didn't look like he was feeling any pain. "You okay?" he asked, when he finally caught his breath.
"Mmm," Jim murmured, already drifting into sleep. " 'kay. Tired."
Blair grinned and wrapped his arms tighter around the other man. "Sleep, babe. I'll be here when you wake."
Blair kissed the short hair under his head, and resisted a chuckle at the goofy looking grin on the sleeping man's face. He had a feeling that he was sporting one of those himself, and he didn't care in the least. He and Jim were together, and that was the only thing in the whole universe that really mattered.
End of How the Guide Claimed His Sentinel