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Back Night

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Back Night

by Roslyn

Any mistakes are mine. Mine, do you hear me? Mine, mine, all mine!!!!!
Just for fun, no profit, no harm, no foul.

Thanks to Northstar for doing the preliminary and primary beta work, the Jillster for doing the secondary, and La Femme Vickita just for reading it.

Friday night found Jim Ellison arriving home from the gym in a fine mood. Fridays were the best part of his workout regime, devoted to working the various muscle groups of the back, which, for some reason, always seemed to have a positive effect on his outlook. Now he was looking forward to a quiet evening at home, alone, since Sandburg was out with the girl of the week. He was beginning to think the kid had something to prove, but an evening alone suited him just fine. He could use a little time alone. He liked Sandburg, liked him plenty, but lately he had seemed a little, well, intense, always right there, in his space, going on about tests and controls and...

But Jim wasn't going to worry about that now. He had endorphins buzzing through his system, there was a game on television later and roast beef in the fridge calling his name right now. He bounded up the stairs two at a time, whistling as he unlocked the door to the loft.

"Back night?"

For a moment, Jim stood frozen in the act of hanging up his jacket. He recovered quickly, turning around with a smoothly blank expression to face his unexpected roommate. Somehow he had not picked up on that unmistakable presence and now, most likely, he was going to have to face a third degree over it. He found himself actually trying to come up with excuses ("I was distracted", "I thought you were out", "I'm used to you being here"), but Sandburg was just looking at him, his own expression uncharacteristically giving no clue as to his thoughts.

"Hey, Sandburg. Thought you were going out this evening. With Cindy Something-or-other."

"Well, 'Cindy Something-or-other' suddenly had something else to do tonight. And how was your evening?"

"Oh, just working out at the gym," Jim replied nonchalantly. He headed toward the kitchen, skirting carefully past Sandburg, whose level regard was beginning to unsettle him. Sandburg folded his arms, leaned against the support beam, and kept right on watching him with that same steady gaze.

"Hungry?" Jim said over his shoulder. He waited a beat, and when no answer seemed forthcoming, he expounded. "'Cause I'm going to make a sandwich. I think there's some of that good roast beef left."

He paused in the act of opening the fridge to hazard a glance at his unusually unresponsive partner. Blair was still watching him intently, but as their gazes locked, he seemed to come back to himself. With a slight headshake, Blair broke eye contact, pushed off the beam with his shoulder and came to stand against the island, staring down at the surface as if seeking some cosmic answer there.

Jim waited a moment more, then dangled the white deli package in the air between them. Blair glanced up at the movement, then shook his head.

"I ate a little while ago. Finished off the stew."

Jim grunted in acknowledgement and turned back to building his sandwich. Snagging the mustard jar with the little finger of the hand still holding the roast beef, he scooped up lettuce and tomato with the other. He was carefully slicing the tomato into precise, eighth-inch sections when the spot between his shoulderblades began to itch. Even without looking up from his task, he knew that Blair had returned to his steady perusal, but he stole a peek at the reflection wavering in the toaster anyway.

And nearly sliced a precise eighth-inch section out of his thumb.

Blair was still leaning against the island, but his arms were once again folded tightly across his chest and he seemed to be...Jim squinted into the imperfect mirror...he seemed to be rubbing himself. Or, more precisely, he seemed to be caressing himself, the thumb of either hand ever so slowly brushing against the soft knit of the t-shirt covering his nipples, all the while staring intently at Jim's back.

Jim froze, knife still poised for the next slice, then he turned slowly around, fully expecting to see Sandburg's hands snatched guiltily behind his back and a patented look of innocence freshly plastered over his face. Instead, he found Sandburg in virtually the same position, but while his hands were now still, his head was held high and the challenging look in his eyes and stance arrowed straight to Jim's lower belly. Shaken, Jim attempted a fast recovery while fighting a sudden weakness in his knees.

"So, Chief, you sure about that sandwich? This is some prime roast beef we've got here."

And nearly dropped the knife as Blair raked him from head to foot with a hard measuring gaze, then moved around the counter with what could only be called a stalking gait.

"Hmm, yes," he said in a throaty tone that sent shivers down Jim's back. "That is some prime beef. I do believe I might be hungry after all."

Jim felt the knife slip again in his suddenly sweaty hand and laid it carefully on the counter. He cleared his throat, firmly telling himself he was not nervous, he was not skittish and he was most certainly not aroused. He turned back to his task, seeking to regain equilibrium.

"Fine," he said over his shoulder, absurdly pleased when his voice didn't squeak. "You want mayo or mustard?"

"Aw, Jim." Blair sounded disappointed and way too close. The hairs on the back of Jim's neck rose as Blair's breath ghosted across it. "You know I like it both ways."

This time he would have dropped the knife for sure. Still, he tried to stay in the game, even though he didn't seem to know the rules or really even what game it was.

"Ah, but do you like it both ways at the same time?"

He turned to look at Blair over his shoulder again, vaguely surprised at how much nerve it took to do so. But Blair was standing too close and Blair's eyes were glittering with some unspoken fever and the room suddenly seemed cramped and overwarm. Jim shivered as a trickle of sweat ran down his back and tried to focus on what Blair was saying.

"...whatever it takes."

His scent had changed. A moment ago Blair had smelled excited, aroused even, and more than a little nervous. Now there was a fine edge of disappointment creeping in. Jim caught himself staring with his mouth open, so he turned back to his sandwich making. Clearing his throat again, for it was strangely tight and dry, he said, "Well, there's plenty here for both of us."

"That's what I was thinking."

Blair had found a new leaning perch, resting one hip against the counter left of Jim's workspace. His arms were folded over his chest again and another subtle shift in scent had occurred. Jim cut his eyes over at him as he tried to tag the change. Determined. Yep, and his body language was saying the same thing. Whatever it was, Blair had dug in for the long haul. For some reason, that thought had an oddly calming effect and Jim managed to place two neatly halved roast beef sandwiches, piled high with lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo, onto plates, even heaping on some potato chips (baked, of course, but still, not half bad) beneath Blair's burning regard, without dropping anything.

He did, however, get some mayonnaise on his finger as he was screwing the lid back on.

He raised the dolloped digit to his lips and felt the intensity of Blair's unwavering scrutiny increase along with its owner's heartrate. Awareness; of Blair, of heat, of some yet unnamed danger, washed over Jim like a wave from a high running surf. He held Blair's eyes with his own and slowly, very slowly, licked off the mayo, sucking the last bit from the tip with a slight flourish.

Then blinked.

Was Blair growling? Why yes, yes he was. Blair's respiration had increased significantly as well, and his eyes were more dilated than even the low lighting warranted. A slow smile came to Jim along with an explanation. Blair's date had canceled. Blair must have had pretty high expectations of scoring and was now working through a bad case of sexual frustration. Well, wasn't that just too bad. He'd be damned if he'd be the stand-in for some chippie co-ed.

Without stopping to examine that thought too closely, he carried the plates to the table.

He could hear Blair behind him, taking a deep breath, opening the fridge and getting them both a beer. Ah, what could be better? A good sandwich after a great workout, a cold beer, and a best pal to needle. Blair set a frosty bottle next to Jim's plate and seated himself at the end of the table at right angles to Jim, bumping knees in the process. Jim grunted a little, just to show he'd noticed, then dug into his sandwich. He really was hungry.

The roast beef was excellent, toothsome and savory, the lettuce crisp and the tomato a treasure, a bright homegrown sunburst of pleasure from the organic farmers' market. Much too soon, it seemed, he was down to crumbs. He glanced a little sheepishly over at Blair, who held the remains of the first half of his sandwich as he chewed, steadily watching Jim all the while. Blair pushed his plate toward Jim.

"Here. I'm full."

"But you only ate half." Jim was already reaching for the plate, but a token resistance seemed necessary, for good form at least.

"I told you, I finished off the stew. That new bread is good, though, isn't it?"

Blair took Jim's barren plate and carried it to the sink as Jim considered the bread, chewing thoughtfully. The bakery downstairs had gotten a new pastry chef and she really knew her business. Yes sir, it was very good bread. Just about perfect in fact. Neither too heavy, nor too fluffy, whole-grain without gaining the brick-like properties of some, all in all a fit canvas for the culinary work of art that was this roast beef sandwich.

Jim let his eyelids drift closed, the better to consider the full flavor. Before his senses had kicked into hyperdrive, there had been long periods in his life when food was simply sustenance, fuel to keep him going and assuage the nagging hunger in his belly. And for a stretch there when they first came back on-line, they had made the simple act of eating into something approaching Russian Roulette. Now, with Blair's help, he had actually begun to enjoy food again. Especially a masterpiece like this sandwich.

A surge of warm feeling, inspired by Blair's generosity, washed over him as he chewed and as he was trying to hold back an appreciative moan, everything changed. Suddenly his mouth, then eyes, ears and nose, were flooded with color. Great looping swirls of green, gold, purple and maroon, burnt umber and ochre, brilliant silvery orange, colors for which he had no names, yet they shivered his soul with their beauty all the same and he could do nothing, nothing at all except take them in and become with them, twine in their flowing dance, tasting, seeing, hearing...

...a sudden warmth on his shoulders and the colors receded. Something brushed over his hair, across his face, and he blinked, the loft snapping back into focus around him like a sheet in the wind. Soft lips were next to his ear, speaking a name, his name, over and over. Warmth moved from his shoulder to the back of his neck and he blinked again, noting distantly the odd dryness of his eyes, as he heard Blair speak.

"Are you back?"

Jim swallowed and attempted to answer, but no sound came out. A cold bottle was pressed into his hand, then guided to his lips and he downed several swallows, the cool fizziness of the beer going a long way to help bring him back from wherever it was he went. He pushed back into the soothing touch on his nape before asking, "How long?"

Blair's hand was still wrapped over Jim's around the beer and he slowly guided it to the table as he answered.

"Not long. Maybe a minute or two. I just came back over to the table and found you doing your tree impression. It needs a little work, though. Even trees tend to be a bit more responsive than that. Unless maybe you were going for tree stump. Then I wouldn't change a thing, because you got that down solid." The flippant words did little to conceal the concern in his voice.

Blair drew his hand away and then placed it on his shoulder, shaking him lightly. Then, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, he began kneading the tight muscles there, sliding his other hand up Jim's neck to work the knot at the base of his skull.

Oh God, that felt good.

Okay, he should shrug him off, tell him he was all right, that was fine, and he would.

Any minute now.

But for just a moment, for just a precious second or two, surely it wouldn't hurt to just let it happen, let those marvelous hands stroke and press, pull and release, working loose some of the stress and tension that even tonight's workout couldn't completely remove. Jim let his head drop forward and this time he couldn't, didn't even really try to, hold back the small sigh/groan of pleasure that escaped him. Blair stilled fractionally, then immediately resumed his ministrations, his hands strong and warm against the planes and hollows and hills of Jim's shoulders. Those hands seemed to know him better than he did himself, digging in in just the right spots, rubbing soothing circles in others until Jim fairly hummed with pleasure from the almost-pain of too-tight muscles being forced to release their burdens.

"Want to tell me why you zoned?"

Tension immediately tried to creep back in, but clever fingers smoothed it out, working it and him into submission. He let his head roll back and those clever fingers began to rub his scalp, relaxing places he had never even realized were tense. And then, slowly, the words were dropping, like stones out of his mouth.

"I was eating, and thinking how good the sandwich was, everything was just right, and how rare that is and then..."

He paused, almost struggling, but whether to keep the words in or get them out, he wasn't sure. Blair's hands still soothed him, pushing him forward to work at the web of muscles between his shoulderblades. Jim had long known this was a pleasurable spot for him, but the combination of his earlier workout concentrating on this area and his own tension being released threatened to send him into a zone of a different kind. He managed to push his plate out of the way before laying his head down on the table, giving himself over to the waves of delight that rolled through him.

"That's it. That's the way. Just let it all go. I'm right here."

The soothing words soaked in slowly. Blair was here. Blair was with him. Blair was touching, stroking, holding him, keeping him safe. That calming voice washed over him again.

"Come on, Jim, tell me what happened. It's all right."

The part of himself that had been holding on so tightly suddenly just let go and the stalled words came tumbling out. "I was enjoying the sandwich, I mean, really enjoying the sandwich, and thinking how nice it was of you to give me your half, and I felt this sound trying to come out. And I didn't want it to get out, so I held it back and the next thing I knew, I was tasting colors."

The hands on his back stilled and Jim nearly whimpered. They started up again immediately, saving him from at least that small indignity. He almost asked himself just what was happening here, how he had come to be half-laid across the table with his roommate getting very familiar with his back, but the slow, deep strokes of those marvelous hands pulled him back, back into his body. His body that was pretty focused on not interfering in anyway with those hands, in fact, with keeping those hands doing what they were doing for as long as possible, anyway possible. That velvet voice washed over him, coaxing responses out of him no torture ever could.

"Why Jim? Why didn't you want the sound to get out?"

Jim brought his arms up around his head and mumbled into his bicep.

"C'mon Jim, you can tell me."

"I-I was afraid."

"Afraid? What were you afraid of, Jim?"

"That you'd find out. And then, maybe, you wouldn't want be friends anymore."

Blair sighed but he didn't pull away.

"Ah, Jim. What am I going to do with you?"

And Jim was so far gone into his blissful haze that the words he had sworn would never pass his lips spilled out. Spilled like an errant glass of water, pouring through his grasp.

"Pretty much anything you want. Just-- just, please, don't leave."

Silence rang in the air just long enough for Jim to fully realize what had just come out of his mouth. Then the hem of his shirt was being pulled up and Blair had his hands on Jim's bare skin. Jim arched back, shocked at the immediacy, the intense personalness of skin on skin, then he was clutching the table and gasping for air, the wind knocked completely out of him and before he could even fathom what had happened, it happened again. When he could breathe again, when the lights and sirens in his head had spun down to something manageable, he felt Blair's solid weight against his back, the light stubble of Blair's cheek rasping between his shoulderblades, and he realized Blair had kissed him. Just pressed his soft, warm lips against the naked skin of his back and that was all.

Jim took a deep breath and realized the edge of the table was digging into his belly. He pushed back and Blair responded by kissing his back again. Though slightly more prepared this time, Jim found himself once more clutching the edges of the table with electric heat sparking straight to his groin, an ecstatic moan rolling out of his gasping mouth. Dazed, he felt as much as heard Blair chuckle as he said, "Liked that, did you?"

Desperately sucking in air, Jim shook his head as he tried to form words. "Yes, no, I mean, don't!"

Blair pulled back swiftly. A black hole of loss immediately blotted out short-lived relief. Blair left one hand resting quietly on his shoulder as Jim tried to collect himself, another small kindness to help him keep it together. After a moment, Jim sat up, placing his hand over Blair's. Blair spoke, his earnest voice weaving a web of sanity back into Jim's grasp.

"I'm sorry Jim. I didn't mean to let it go that far." He tried to pull his hand away, but Jim held on and shook his head.

"No," he managed to gasp, but Blair continued to try to pull away. "No, Blair, wait!"

Blair froze, looking at him with such a mixed expression of hope and trepidation that Jim almost laughed. Smiling instead, he dragged him close, wrapping his arms tightly around those sturdy shoulders. Placing his lips next to one ear, Jim relished the tiny tremor of response before whispering, "I just didn't want to come in my pants."

He felt his face flame at the admission but the look on Blair's face when he pulled back made it worthwhile. Then he bent his head and took that full, sweet mouth, lips still slightly parted in surprise, with his own. The taste that blossomed against his tongue was beyond anything. He might never crave mere food again if there was this to be had. Sinking back down into the hard kitchen chair, he clutched Blair like a lifeline, dragging him down on his lap.

Blair submitted willingly enough, allowing himself to be gathered in, straddling Jim's thighs and clutching his shoulders. Jim continued to devour Blair's mouth, threading his fingers through riotous waves of silken hair to cradle the sweet curve of the back of Blair's skull. A fierce joy flared up in Jim's heart as unmistakable hardness pressed against his belly. Months, years, of pent up desire were crashing loose and he continued to plunder the hidden depths of Blair's mouth until Blair turned his face away and buried it in Jim's neck, breathing hard. Jim started to protest until he realized he was also breathing as if he'd just run a foot race with a perp.

Now that he actually had his arms around Blair, though, he had serious doubts about ever letting go. He had wanted this for so long, without ever really letting himself realize the depths of his want, that now that he actually had a lapful of warm, breathing Blair, he could scarcely bring himself to believe it without keeping a tight grip. In fact, he had a fistful of flannel in one hand and was just managing to keep from twisting long curls around the other. They stayed that way for long moments, breathing heavily in tandem, until Blair lifted his head to look Jim in the face.

"This is real," he said.

"Yeah," Jim agreed.

"No changes," Blair said.


Blair looked away anxiously.

"I mean, you're not going to go all Repressive Man on me and get up tomorrow and act like this never happened, right?"


"'Cause I really don't think I would deal with that well, Jim."

"Got it."

"I mean, I got too much riding on the line here."

"I know."

"It's just, I really don't think I could take it if...."

Jim put his fingertips against Blair's lips.

"Blair, you're not listening to me."

Blair's eyebrows went up and his eyes locked onto Jim's. Jim took a deep breath and plunged ahead.

"This is what I want. This is what I have wanted for a very long time. You and me, together. This is real."

Blair continued to stare searchingly into his eyes, then slowly, so very slowly, bent his head down and touched his lips to Jim's. Jim felt that last tight knot slip free from his heart as Blair almost tentatively slipped the tip of his tongue along the seam of Jim's lips, seeking entrance. Jim opened for him. Opened his mouth and his heart, opened up and let him all the way in.

End Back Night by Roslyn:

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Disclaimer: The Sentinel is owned etc. by Pet Fly, Inc. These pages and the stories on them are not meant to infringe on, nor are they endorsed by, Pet Fly, Inc. and Paramount.