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The Sentinel of His Dreams

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The Sentinel of His Dreams

by Spikedluv

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Jim and Blair belong to me. *shifty eye* What do you mean, they don't belong to me?!!
Written April 12, 2006 for Harlequin Style's Snowed-In Challenge.
Spoilers for Switchman (direct quotes and paraphrasing of text from that ep).
This story is a sequel to:

The cabin was so remote that Blair had to park his Corvair on a pull-off beside a green Ford F- 150 and walk the last quarter mile. The snow that had been falling since before he'd left Cascade made it slow going, and it took over an hour to make the short trip up the mountain on foot. It didn't help that he could barely see the trail or that the weight of the backpack kept shifting, threatening to topple him into a snowbank, but he saw the smoke that told him that someone had a nice warm fire burning and just kept trudging towards it.

When he reached the porch, Blair stumbled over the steps that were hidden beneath the three feet of snow that had already accumulated up there in the higher elevations, and when he finally stood on the firm wooden floor of the porch, he had to swipe snow off his jeans all the way up past his knees. He stomped his feet and shivered when a clump of snow fell inside his boot and hit a piece of still-warm skin and melted.

Blair was so cold, he couldn't believe that any part of him was still warm enough to melt snow. The Corvair's heater had been on the fritz and he had considered rescheduling this trip when he'd woken up to snow, but he hadn't been sure when he'd have another free long-weekend in which to do so. With that in mind, as well as the excitement he'd felt ever since he'd made his discovery fueling his rash action, Blair had decided to risk it.

Blair took the knit hat off his head and shook the snow off, then ran his fingers through his hair, trying to take care of any hat head issues. Once he felt presentable, he knocked on the door. There was no answer or any sounds from within the cabin, but Blair knocked again. Smoke was coming from the chimney, so someone had to be home.

Finally, the door was pulled open. On the other side of the open doorway stood the man of Blair's dreams. He was frowning, but that didn't dim Blair's excitement in the least. He kept his welcoming smile in place and said, "Hi, I'm Blair Sandburg...."

"Not interested," the man said, his voice curt, and shut the door in Blair's face.

Blair's excitement did lose a little bit of its shine at his reception, but he reminded himself that Jim Ellison had been up here in the mountains, alone, for nearly a year. He steeled himself, and knocked once more.

"Mr. Ellison? Mr. Ellison, my name is Blair Sandburg. I'm a grad student at Rainier University in Cascade, and I think I can help you. I just need five min-."

The door was yanked open and Blair, who'd begun listing towards the door as he talked, listening for any movement inside, almost fell through.



"You have two minutes."

"Oh, uh, okay. Um, Blair Sandburg, I already said that, grad student at Rainier. I've done some work with people with enhanced senses and I...."

The door slammed in his face again.

"...think I can help you," Blair said, his voice trailing off.

Well, this wasn't exactly the welcome he'd been expecting. Ever since he'd heard about Detective James Ellison having to leave the police force, his hopes had been raised. Through all his research about Ellison's 'condition', his excitement had grown, and in his daydreams of the moment they met, the moment he told Ellison that he could help him, Ellison had been grateful and appreciative of Blair's assistance.

So grateful that he'd been willing to do anything for Blair, but those fantasies were better left unspoken. Hey, Ellison was a handsome guy, Blair figured he could be forgiven for harboring a fantasy or two...or ten...of how James Ellison had thanked Blair for helping him to get his senses under control.

Blair turned around and stared out over the snow-capped landscape. It was now obvious, however, that he hadn't thought this through very well. Driving up here during a snowstorm had been the most stupid of his ideas, but doing so in a car without a fully functioning heater now loomed as a very close second, and might even be taking the lead.

He could walk back down to his car, but there was no way he'd make it back to Cascade in this snow. He wasn't sure he'd even be able to make it to the nearest town. It was only five miles, but those five miles had taken him twenty minutes to drive over an hour ago. It would take even longer now, if he could even get through. Waiting out the end of the storm and clearing of the roads in his car would have been a possibility if he'd had heat.

Which left him no choice but to knock on Ellison's door once more and beg for shelter. Blair sighed, turned around, and stared at the wooden door as if it was his greatest nemesis. He took a step forward and knocked. Tired, all of a sudden, and weighed down with disappointment, Blair leaned his shoulder against the door and let his head fall forward until he could feel the cold, hard wood against the chilled skin of his face.

"Mr. Ellison," he said, "I won't be able to make it back to town in this weather, and I'd wait out the storm in my car, but it doesn't have any heat." He knocked again. "Mr. Ellison?"

When there was no answer, Blair slumped against the door and reviewed his options. He could wait in his car and freeze to death; he could try to make it back to town, drive off the road, and freeze to death, or he could sit down right here and wait for Ellison to let him in...and possibly freeze to death.

Blair stood back and looked to either side of him. The cabin had windows, so he could always force his way inside, but the pictures of Ellison hadn't done him justice - the man was huge - and he could easily throw Blair back outside if he didn't want him in there. Besides, breaking the windows would defeat the purpose of having someplace warm and dry to wait out the storm.

"Okay," he said, "well, you just think about it. I'll wait right here."

Blair jammed the hat back onto his head and stumbled over to one of the chairs that sat on the porch. He bent over to brush off the snow that had blown onto it, and nearly did a face-plant when the backpack shifted. Blair slid the straps off his shoulder, then sat down and cradled the backpack in his lap. Five very cold minutes passed and there was still no response to his plea for shelter from inside the cabin.

Blair tried not to think about it, but he knew that he could die out here. Well, if he had to die for anything, he'd want it to be a sentinel. He just wished he'd actually been able to meet said sentinel instead of having the door slammed in his face. Twice.

He wasn't one hundred percent certain, but from what he'd heard and read about Ellison's 'symptoms', Blair was willing to bet, well, his life, that Ellison was a sentinel. Just in case Ellison could hear him, Blair kept up a monologue as he pulled a pad of paper and a pen from his backpack.

"Okay, it looks like I'm going to die up here, so I should probably have a Will to dispose of all my worldly goods." Blair snickered as he tried to get the pen to work. When the ink finally flowed smoothly across the paper, Blair said out loud as he wrote, "Dear Naomi."

He paused, holding the pen above the paper. He was dying here. He crossed 'Naomi' out and wrote 'Mom'. Continuing on, Blair spoke the words aloud to himself as he wrote them down.

*Dear Naomi Mom,*

*I'm stuck in a snowstorm up in the mountains, and it's not looking very good, so this is my Last Will and Testament. I know! You'd think, with all the expeditions I've been on, I'd already have one of these, but no one thinks that it's going to happen to them, you know? Especially when they're only twenty-seven.*

*And also, I didn't really have anything to give away. Still don't have that much, but what I do have is yours. Except for that notebook on the horses, give that to Robert. And the backpack that I've got with me now. Give that to James Ellison. (His porch is the one I froze to death on.) He might not want it, but make him take it. He'll need it.*

I love you, Mom. Wish we'd been able to get together over the holidays.


Blair woke up disoriented. He was wrapped in a blanket, lying on a couch in front of a burning fireplace, and bright sunlight shone into the room, lighting up a patch on the floor. Blair pushed himself up so that he was half-sitting, half-lying against the back of the couch. He didn't recognize any of it. Not the blanket, or the braided rug on the floor, or the fireplace, or the windows, or....

Before his panic attack could reach full blown status, a mug appeared in front of his face. He cautiously reached up to take it, his eyes slowly moving from the hand, up the arm, to the face of the man handing it to him. James Ellison. Everything suddenly came back to him - the trip up here during the snowstorm in a car with a broken heater, only to discover that he wasn't welcome, and deciding to wait the storm, or Ellison, whichever broke first, out on the porch - except for how he'd gotten inside the cabin.

The question must have shown on his face, because Ellison said, "I brought you in after you fell asleep. Didn't need you freezing to death on my porch. Too much trouble to dispose of the body this time of year. Then there's your car to get rid of."

Blair didn't know what to say to that, and he wasn't all that certain that Ellison wasn't serious, so he looked down at the mug that was warming his hands.

"Soup," Ellison said. "Eat it."

Blair sniffed the soup and the scent made his mouth water.

"Don't worry, I didn't poison it."

At that point, Blair didn't care if it had been poisoned. He took a sip of the broth; this was no soup from a can. He spooned the meat and vegetables into his mouth, forcing himself to eat slowly. When he was done, he glanced over at Ellison and thought he saw a smile, but it was gone just as quickly as it came.

"Did you make this?"

"You see anyone else up here, Sandburg?"

Blair's first thought, which had to do with burying the bodies, he kept to himself. He was still hungry. "Is there any more?"

Ellison easily pushed himself out of the chair he'd reclined in while Blair was eating, his movements lithe and graceful.

Blair, suddenly embarrassed that Ellison was waiting on him, moved to get up. "I can...."

Ellison placed his hand on Blair's forehead and gently pushed him back against the couch as he took the mug from his hand. "Stay."

"What am I, a dog?" Blair grumbled.

After a second mug of soup, Blair was feeling full and sleepy. The only thing intruding on his peaceful feeling was his bladder, which demanded emptying. He sat up and placed the mug on the end table. "Uh, I have to...."

Ellison pointed towards the hall, and Blair unwrapped himself from his cocoon and hurried to the bathroom where it was a relief to relieve himself.

When he came back out, he looked out the first window he came to. He'd been too disoriented to realize it, but the bright sunshine meant that the snowstorm had passed. "Hey, it's not snowing anymore."

"You always feel a need to state the obvious, Sandburg?"

Blair ignored him. "When do you think I can get out of here?"

"Couple days."

Blair turned in surprise. "A couple days?"

"Why, you got somewhere to be?"

Blair suddenly realized that this was perfect. He was snowed in with James Ellison, a possible sentinel, and now he had the time he'd been denied when Ellison had slammed the door on him. A quick glance at Ellison brought a flush to his skin, the expression on Ellison's face clearly saying that he knew exactly what Blair was thinking. "No," he said anyway, "nowhere to be."

"You might want to shower, then."

Blair ran the fingers of both hands through his hair. "What time is it?"

Without looking up from whatever he was reading, Ellison said, "Almost two."

"Two?" That meant he'd slept for nearly twenty hours. Now that he was awake and his brain was getting back on track, he wanted to get down to business with Ellison, but he figured he should take a minute to formulate a plan of attack. And a shower would make him feel more alive and ready to tackle the big grump. "Okay, shower, yeah, I can do that."

Blair looked down at the baggy sweats he wore, suddenly realizing that they weren't his. "Um, clothes?"

Ellison pointed and Blair saw that his clothes were laid over a rack beside the fireplace. He'd seen it before, but it had merely been part of the background. He hadn't realized the clothes were his own. Taking the now-dry clothes off the rack, Blair returned to the bathroom and showered.

As he soaped up his hair, Blair realized that Ellison's grouchy tone was belied by the kindness he'd shown in bringing him inside, putting him in dry clothes and wrapping him in a blanket before the fire, drying his clothes, feeding him homemade soup, and allowing him to shower. He smiled. Things were suddenly looking up.

When Blair returned to the living room, Ellison was still sitting in the same chair he'd been in when Blair had left. The only difference he noticed was the missing mug. His eyes fell on his pack, which sat on the floor beside Ellison's chair, which was when he realized that Ellison was reading the papers he'd brought with him.

"What are you doing?"

Ellison didn't even look up at him. "I was just checking to see what I'd get if you didn't make it."

"Ha, funny. Anybody ever tell you that you're a laugh riot?"

"No." Jim lowered the pages he held and raised his eyes. "Listen, Sandburg, I don't like company."

"Wow, really?" Blair couldn't help saying. "I'd never have noticed, man."

"Now who's the laugh riot, Sandburg?"

"You can call me Blair, you know. And I'll just call you...." Blair gave Ellison a chance to answer, but continued on when he didn't respond. "...Mr. Ellison. So, Mr. Ellison...."



"Mr. Ellison is my father; call me Jim."

"Uh, okay. Jim. What, uh, what have you, in my papers, what have you found?"

Jim picked up a folder and opened it, withdrew a handful of newspaper and magazine clippings. "You've been researching me."

Blair tried not to look guilty, though it was difficult with Jim glaring at him like that. The research had been necessary to confirm his findings. "Of course I did," he blustered. "How else was I going to confirm my theory about your symptoms?"

"My symptoms?"

"Yeah, like the voices you were hearing, and the things you were seeing...."

"Did you come all this way to tell me I'm crazy, Sandburg? Because it wasn't necessary, the shrink beat you to it."

"Of course not! Jim, you are not crazy. No way, man."

Jim just raised his eyebrows at Blair's emphatic denial.

Blair held his hands up. "Okay, listen, Jim. I think that you have enhanced senses. If I'm right, all five of them, which makes you special, but it doesn't make you crazy."

"Special? They've been nothing but a pain in the...neck since I got them. I could do without being special."

Blair was practically vibrating with excitement. "No, no, Jim, all you've got to do is learn how to control them."

"Learn how to control them, huh? And you think it'll be that easy, Chief?"

Jim looked like he wanted to believe him, but was afraid to, after all the grief his senses had caused him before he left the Cascade PD, and over the past year, if Blair read the situation correctly, which is probably why Jim had isolated himself up here in the mountains, away from anything that would affect his senses.

"If it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing, right?"

Jim snorted. "Can't I just get rid of them?"

Blair could feel his eyes grow wide and his mouth drop open. "Why would you want to do that? I mean, you can see, smell, hear things that no one else can. You're, like, a human crime lab, man."

"I'm not a cop anymore, Sandburg."

"But you could be."

"I don't want to talk about this anymore, Chief."

"Okay." Blair could see that this was difficult for Jim to deal with, and he knew he had a few more days at least to try and convince Jim to let him help, so he backed off. He looked around the small, neatly-kept cabin, looking for something he could do. "I could cook," he said when he saw the kitchen.

Jim's expression was one of confusion, and Blair grinned.

"Sorry, I, uh...." He waved his hands. "I meant, to earn my keep. I could cook."

Jim studied him for a moment, then said, "All right."

The first thing Blair did was look at the package of meat Jim had left on the counter to thaw. "Oh, Jim, man, too much red meat isn't good for you."

"I like steak, Sandburg," Jim growled.

Blair began opening the cupboard doors, looking for marinade, or the ingredients to make his own. "You got a marinade, Jim, or anything I can use to make one?"

"I can't eat anything too spicy," Jim said. "I'm going to go out and start shoveling off the walkway."

"Oh, you want me to come help?"

"You just worry about dinner tonight. You can help tomorrow, when we need to open a path down to your car."

Blair grinned over his shoulder at Jim. "Thanks, man, you're all heart."

He caught the smile before Jim turned away, and it made him warm all over.

Dinner consisted of the steak, twice baked potatoes and green beans that he'd seasoned without making them too spicy in deference to Jim's senses. After they ate, Blair insisted on doing the clean up, as well. When he was done, Blair joined Jim in the living room, where he stood before the fireplace.


When Jim didn't respond, Blair peeked around him. He was staring right into the flames.

"Jim?" Blair said again, moving his hand in front of Jim's eyes. Again there was no response. "Oh, man."

Blair had read about something called a zone-out, where if the sentinel focused too much on one sense, he'd get lost in it until someone, or something, brought him out of it. Softly speaking his name, Blair took both of Jim's arms and turned him away from the fireplace. He slid his hands up and down Jim's arms. He felt cool, even though he'd been standing near the fire.

He raised one hand to Jim's face, and said, "Hey, Jim, man, come on, come back to me. You're worrying me a little bit, so I'd appreciate it if you'd come back to me now."

Jim's eyes focused suddenly, staring right into Blair's. "What are you doing, Sandburg?"

"You zoned, man."

Jim closed his eyes and wiped one hand over his face. "Damn it, not again."

"It's happened before?"

"What do you think, Chief?"

"I think you need to let me help you, Jim."

"Oh, you think that, do you? You think you can help me, Sandburg? You think you know what I need?"

Blair's hands were still holding onto Jim, and now Jim's hands gripped Blair's biceps, pushed him back against the wall. He leaned down, his voice a low snarl in Blair's ear, "You don't have any idea what I need."

Blair closed his eyes against the sensation unfurling in his belly; it wasn't fear, because he wasn't afraid of Jim. Having known Jim for less than twenty-four hours, Blair still felt as if he knew him, as if he'd known him forever, and he knew that Jim's reaction had little to do with anger, and everything to do with his own fear of what was happening to him, of what had been happening to him for the past year.

"Jim, listen, man...." Blair broke off speaking when Jim sniffed at his neck. "J-Jim?"

Jim continued to sniff at his neck, then licked him. "Maybe you do know what I need, Sandburg," he said, and then bit down.

The touch shot through Blair like an electric shock. "Oh, god."

Jim rocked against him and Blair felt the hard proof of Jim's arousal pressing into his stomach. His fingers squeezed convulsively on Jim's arm, his hand slid around Jim's head until he was cradling the back of it, and he pushed back.

"Yeah, you know." Jim's lips were on Blair's ear, his breath, hot and moist, tickled, sending a shiver down Blair's spine.

Blair wasn't sure how they'd gotten to this point, but he knew that he didn't want Jim to stop. He should stop him, Blair knew that. For Jim's sake, if nothing else. Then Jim's lips, which had been kissing a path along his jaw, touched his. Blair felt the flutter of Jim's tongue against his lips and parted them, and they were kissing, hungry, desperate, as if they'd never get enough. Jim's hands moved, one to cup Blair's ass, the other teasing his nipple ring through the sweater and t-shirt, and Blair was incapable of rational thought.

"Tell me you need it, too."


"Tell me."

"Please. Jim, please."

Jim captured Blair's lips once more while he ran his hands up Blair's arms and down his back, cupped his ass and pulled him in close. He slid one hand around, between them, and palmed Blair's erection, squeezed.

Blair made a sound he didn't even recognize and pushed into Jim's hand.

Jim's breaths were heavy, loud in Blair's ear, and when Jim said, "Christ, I can smell you. Smell how much you want this," Blair's knees nearly buckled.

They did buckle when Jim tore at his fly to get his jeans opened, then reached inside and wrapped warm fingers around him. "You always go commando, Chief?" Jim whispered as he stroked Blair and Blair remembered the boxers he'd washed in the sink that morning and hung over the shower curtain rod to dry.

"I will," he said, then choked on the words, "I will from now on if this is what it does to you. Jim, oh, god, Jim, that's...amazing, Jim, don't stop."

"I'm not going to stop, but I need you to touch me, Blair."

Blair's whole body was shaking with the need building inside him, and hearing Jim ask him to touch him only made it more intense. He let go of Jim's arm and dragged his hand down Jim's side, touched him through the denim and reveled in the hiss of breath, and the moan when he rubbed and squeezed Jim's cock.

He undid Jim's jeans, teased Jim through his boxers before pushing the waistband down so he could touch Jim skin to skin. It was difficult to think, with Jim's hand on him, but Blair managed to move his hand on Jim, stroked the length and rubbed his thumb over the moist head, while he thrust into Jim's hold.

The sound of the crackling fire was soon replaced by the grunts and slip of skin on skin as they brought each other closer and closer to completion, and then silence as Blair's orgasm washed over him and through him, and left him gasping and melting against the wall. They rested for a moment, sated, but when Jim pulled away his eyes where hooded, his feelings hidden from Blair.

"We need to clean up," Jim said, then disentangled himself and left Blair leaning against the wall alone. When he returned moments later, all he said was, "All yours."

Blair went into the bathroom and washed the come off his hand, wiped it off his jeans the best he could. In the living room Jim was banking the fire, and Blair just stood and watched him, uncertain as to what had just happened. Not the sex, but Jim's reaction after.

Jim stood and motioned towards the couch where the blanket had been folded earlier, the pillow piled atop it. "Good night. Just turn the light off when you're ready to turn in."

Blair remained standing in the middle of the room, listening to Jim getting ready for bed down the hall. He knew that Jim was afraid of his senses, afraid of what Blair was offering, and he also knew that if they went to bed now, separately, without talking, it would only be worse tomorrow.

Mind made up, Blair turned off the light and made his way down the darkened hallway, thankful for the glow of the fire that gave him some illumination. Without stopping or giving himself time to think, Blair entered Jim's bedroom and began stripping off his clothes.

"What are you doing, Sandburg?"

"Getting ready for bed."

"The couch is out there."

"Shut up, Jim," Blair said. He left his clothes where they fell, then pulled the blankets back. Jim didn't try to stop him. His eyes had adjusted and he could now make Jim out, lying on his back, both arms folded under his head. "And quit being an ass."

Blair climbed under the covers and snuggled up as close to Jim - and Jim's body heat - as he could. Once he had the covers up over his ears, nearly covering his entire head, Blair tucked one leg between Jim's and threw an arm over his chest, resting his head on Jim's shoulder.

He shifted closer, then kissed a bare patch of skin. "Good night."

Jim sighed, but Blair felt his arm go around him just before he slipped under.

Blair could probably blame the twenty hours of sleep he'd gotten the night before for the fact that he was up long before any sane person ought to be. He had the coffee made and was adding vegetables to the chicken breasts he'd found buried in the freezer yesterday while Jim was outside clearing the walkway, when Jim shuffled into the kitchen.

He poured himself a cup of coffee, fixed it, then leaned a hip against the counter and watched Blair. "What are you doing?"

"Starting supper."

Blair was tossing everything into the slow cooker so they'd have a nice filling, tasty, healthy meal waiting for them after they shoveled the long path down to where their vehicles were parked.

"You're not making it too spicy, are you?"

"Jim, if you have spices in this cabin, anywhere, you've hidden them very well."

Jim shrugged, gave Blair a sheepish look over the coffee mug, and said, "Just checking. Who knows what you smuggled in here to torture me with?"

"Just my body," Blair said as he plugged the slow cooker in and turned it onto the low setting. "Besides, you strip-searched me, you should know."

Jim sputtered, choked on his coffee. "I did not strip-search you, Sandburg!" He only calmed down when he saw the glint in Blair's eyes. "Maybe later, though," he added making Blair huff out a laugh of surprise.

He really liked this playful, confident side of Jim.

An hour later, after they'd danced around each other while preparing breakfast as if they'd always shared a kitchen, played footsie under the table, and cleaned up, they both stood outside on the porch, looking at the path they needed to clear down the mountain and contemplating the daunting task ahead of them.

"What do you mean you've only got one shovel?"

"I mean I've only got one shovel, Sandburg."

"But you're so, like, uh...." Blair knew by Jim's narrowed eyes that using the term 'anal' would get him into a heap of trouble. "...prepared. What do you do if it breaks?"

"I fix it," Jim said, his tone brooking no argument.

"All right, man," Blair said, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. "I guess we'll just have to take turns."

Jim snorted, but Blair ignored him.

"While you're shoveling, I'll build a snowman."

"A snowman?"

"Yes, Jim, a snowman. It's not like you don't have enough snow here." Blair looked around for the best place to start rolling the base. He figured downhill would be the way to go. "We can have a contest."

"A contest?"

Blair could tell that Jim was torn between laughing and pulling his hair out.

"Yeah, man, the biggest, the cutest, whatever."

"The cutest. Uh huh. I'm going to start shoveling."

"'Kay, Jim," Blair said. "I'll relieve you when I'm done." He got down on his knees and started rolling the ball that would be the base of his snowman.

By the time he was done, Blair was warmed through from the exertion of building his snowman. It might not be the biggest, but he bet it was the cutest, he thought as he wrapped his scarf around the snowman's neck, then went to relieve Jim.

He held his hand out for the shovel. "Okay, my turn to shovel. Go build your snowman."

"I'm on a roll here, Sandburg."

Blair waggled his fingers. "Hand over the shovel, Jim, and no one gets hurt."

"Chief, I don't want to build a snowman."

"Then go build a little snow fort for my snowman. Come on, it'll be good for you." Blair grabbed the shovel handle and pulled, but Jim didn't let go and soon they were engaged in a tugging battle over the shovel. "Jim! Give me the damned shovel and go build something!"

Jim glared at him, but relinquished the shovel.

Blair turned his back on Jim and got to work, figuring that Jim would stew for a little while before he gave in and began building the snowman. Or snow fort. Five minutes later a snowball hit Blair in the back of the head. It wouldn't have caused much damage if it wasn't for the fact that he no longer had his scarf on, so bits of snow fell down past his collar and made him shiver.

"Jim," Blair said in his best professorial voice, and turned around. A snowball hit him in the face. Stunned, he just blinked through the snow stuck to his face.

"Oh, geez, Chief," Jim said, the words impeded by his laughter, "are you all right? I didn't mean to hit you in the face."

Blair wiped the snow off his eyelashes. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Snowball fight?"

"You're supposed to be building a snowman. Or a snow fort."

Jim smiled. "But this is more fun." He picked up another snowball and Blair saw the pile of them at his feet.

"Jim, no," he said as he backed up.

Jim just grinned and threw the snowball, hitting Blair in the shoulder. The snowball exploded up into his face.

"Jim!" Blair turned and ran as Jim pelted him with snowballs. He dove behind the nearest cover - his snowman, ironically - and packed a snowball as fast as he could. He peeked around the base of the snowman to see where Jim was and nearly had a heart attack when he saw Jim advancing on him, a snowball in each hand.

His first reaction was to throw the snowball he'd just made and run like hell, but he squashed it and forced himself to put it down and make another one. By then, Jim was nearly on top of him, so Blair grabbed his two snowballs and exploded out from the opposite side of the snowman. He quickly threw both snowballs at Jim.

Because of adrenaline, his first shot was off and Jim easily ducked it, but the second hit him in the forehead. Laughing at Jim's sputter of surprise, Blair ran in the opposite direction, directly towards Jim's stockpile of snowballs. Jim caught him and tackled him to the ground, but not before he'd managed to nail Jim twice more.

Jim picked up a handful of snow and threatened to shove it down Blair's neck.

"Don't you dare," Blair said, then sputtered when Jim sprinkled some of the snow onto his face.

In retaliation, Blair lifted Jim's jacket and yanked his shirt out of his jeans, then placed his cold, wet mitten against his back.

"Fuck, Blair!" Jim said, jerking away from Blair's touch.

They were both laughing when everything suddenly went electric between them.

Blair placed his hand on the back of Jim's head. "Jim."

"Blair." Jim lowered his head and kissed him.

Blair got lost in the kiss, forgetting everything except the hand on his head, on his ass.

"Whoa, whoa, Jim!" Blair said, pulling away when Jim's hand began to wander. "You pull my pants down out here and this ass comes into contact with that snow? I'll have to hurt you, man."

Jim laughed in Blair's neck. "Oh, god, Blair."



It seemed to take forever to get back up to the cabin. Once they got inside, there was a flurry of movement as they threw off hats, gloves and coats. Blair was balanced precariously as he tried to toe one boot off, when Jim dropped to his knees in front of him and began unbuttoning his jeans.

Blair steadied himself on Jim's shoulder and managed to kick one boot off. He shivered when Jim pushed his jeans down, gripped his shoulder tightly when Jim took him in hand, and moaned when Jim's hot, wet mouth closed around him.

"God, Jim."

Blair's hands moved into Jim's hair and he fought the urge to thrust into Jim's mouth. He closed his eyes, unable to watch Jim's lips as his cock slid in and out of his mouth, but that only intensified the sensation of Jim's hair, soft against Blair's palms, and the slick glide of Jim's tongue as he sucked up and down Blair's cock.

Jim's hands went around him, cupped his ass and pulled him closer until Blair's cock was sliding down his throat.

Blair couldn't even speak. His fingers tightened in Jim's hair and he came and came as Jim sucked around him and swallowed him down.

Blair's knees went weak and Jim lowered him to the hardwood floor, crawled up his body, and kissed him. Tasting himself on Jim's tongue gave him a little thrill, as did the feel of Jim hard against his hip. He reached down, squeezed Jim's ass.

Jim groaned and pressed his cock into Blair. "What have you done to me?" he said, his warm breath tickling Blair's neck as he humped against Blair's leg.

"Nothing you haven't already done to me." Blair moved his head just a little bit, to give Jim room, and Jim took advantage of it.

He closed his teeth on the sensitive skin of Blair's neck and sucked.

With a little moan, Blair shoved his hand inside Jim's jeans, ignoring the waistband digging into his wrist, and squeezed. The sucking on his neck and the grinding against his hip became more fierce, and when Blair slipped his finger between Jim's cheeks, Jim made a wordless cry that went straight to Blair's groin and came against him.

It didn't take long for Jim to get heavy. Blair nudged him. "Hey, Jim, man, I need to breathe here."

Jim rolled off Blair, but instead of letting go, he pulled Blair with him until Blair was lying on top of him.

Blair laughed at the strange sensation of the cool air on his bare ass with his jeans caught around his thighs, and the fact that one foot was heavier than the other. Jim quirked an eyebrow at him, but Blair just shook his head and pushed the other boot off his foot. He laughed harder when his toes came into contact with the boots still on Jim's feet.

"You didn't even get your boots off, man."

"You didn't, either, Chief." Jim brought a hand down on Blair's bare ass with a sharp smack.

"Ow!" Blair squirmed and claimed, "I got one off."

"Two, actually," Jim said, and winked, and Blair laughed again.

Blair stood looking out the window, watching for Jim's return. After they'd cuddled for a few minutes longer, then cleaned up, Jim had suggested that Blair stay inside and make lunch, since there was just the one shovel. Blair had agreed, but only after giving Jim a hard time for not letting Blair shovel.

"You said you'd cook," Jim had said, then pecked him on the cheek. "By dear."

"Ass," Blair had said, but Jim had just laughed.

Blair had found a pot to heat up the rest of the soup he'd had yesterday, and found a package of rolls in the freezer that just needed browning. While the soup was heating up and the rolls defrosting, Blair had gone into the living room and searched through his pack, pulled everything out and organized it. He'd thought about how he could broach the subject of sentinels to Jim once again.

Blair checked his watch for the fifth time. Jim had been gone two hours, and he was starting to worry. Although he hadn't said when, Blair had expected Jim back by now. He was almost ready to go out looking for him when Blair saw the top of Jim's head as he made his way back up the mountain.

Blair ran to the kitchen and turned the oven on, then placed the tray of rolls on the rack to brown. When that was done, he hurried back to the front door and stepped into his boots. He was on the porch before he'd finished pulling his jacket on. He walked down the shoveled path and met Jim.

Grinning to cover his unnecessary worry, Blair said, "Hey, man, I though you got lost."

"I couldn't do that if I wanted to," Jim said, and he sounded once more like the grouchy man Blair had met two days before.



Jim's reply was curt and invited no further conversation, but Blair had never been one to wait for an invitation.

"Jim, please tell me what's wrong."

Jim turned and looked at him, and Blair could see the inner conflict. Part of him wanted to talk, but another part wanted to close up and hide. He silently willed for the part that wanted to talk to win.

Finally Jim said, "I can hear your heartbeat."

"Right now?"

"Yes." Jim pointed with the hand that held the shovel. "And when I was down there."

Blair couldn't keep the smile off his face. "Really? Man, that is so cool."

"This is not cool, Sandburg. It's a pain in the ass."

Blair wiped the smile off his face. "Did it hurt?" Jim glared at him. "Did it give you a headache, or was it so loud that you couldn't think, or...."

"No, it was just annoying. I couldn't figure out what it was. After that it was just...background noise."

Blair couldn't help bouncing just a little bit. "I still think it's cool, Jim. I wish I could hear your heartbeat," he said, and he knew he sounded a little wistful. "Then I'd always know where you were."

Jim just stared at him, nostrils flaring, and then he rolled his eyes and sighed. Reaching out, he pulled Blair into a one-armed hug. "You won't need enhanced senses to keep track of me, Chief."

Blair hugged Jim back, then remembered the rolls in the oven and dragged him back to the cabin.

Over the soup, Blair once again gushed at how good it tasted.

"Yeah, I'm almost out, too. I'll need to get more."

"Get more?" Blair asked.

"Yeah," Jim said. "There's a little caf, in town, the lady that owns it makes the best soup. I pay her to make me up a huge pot of a couple different kinds each time I head into town for supplies."

"You do. What happened to, 'you see anyone else here, Sandburg'?"

Blair saw the moment Jim remembered the little white lie he'd told the day before.

"You lied."

"I didn't lie, Chief. Exactly."

"You lied. You implied that you made the soup." Blair got up from his chair and went over to sit on Jim's lap. "You know what happens to little boys who lie?"

"They, um, get blow jobs?" Jim asked, smiling hopefully.

"Not exactly," Blair said, laughing. God, he couldn't remember when he'd laughed this much. He turned serious. "They have to listen to anthropology grad students talk about sentinels."

Jim's expression went guarded. "Not how I'd prefer to spend the afternoon, Chief."

"It won't take long, Jim, I promise. Just the highlights."

Jim glanced out the window. "I should go out and finish shoveling the path."

"We've got plenty of time for that because I'm not going anywhere."

"We could cuddle on the couch." He slid one hand up Blair's back.

"You're not going to distract me, Jim. We need to talk about your senses, man."

"I don't want to."

"It'll be quick and painless, I swear." When Jim didn't say anything, Blair added, "I could just follow you down the path and talk your ear off down there."

"Fine," Jim said, his capitulation less than graceful.

"Thanks, Jim. You won't regret it, I promise."

Blair stood up and pulled Jim into the living room before he could change his mind. Once Jim was seated on the couch, Blair opened his pack and withdrew The Sentinels of Paraguay. He set the book on Jim's lap and opened it to a picture of an ancient sentinel, and then began his spiel.

"This is a monograph by Sir Richard Burton. The explorer, not the actor. Over a hundred years ago, he discovered the existence of a pre-civilized breed of man...."

"You're not gaining any points here, Chief."

"Just wait, man, let me finish before you start considering where to bury the body, okay?" He tapped the picture. "Burton called them sentinels. They patrolled the borders...."

"Like a scout?"

"More like a watchman. See, this sentinel would watch for approaching enemies, changes in the weather, movement of game. Tribe survival depended on it."

"What does this have to do with me?" Jim asked, though Blair thought that Jim already suspected the answer to that.

"Sentinels were people who had a genetic advantage; a sensory awareness beyond that of normal humans. Now, I've documented hundreds of cases of people with one or two enhanced senses, such as beer tasters and noses for perfume companies, but I've never met anyone with all five. You could be the real thing, Jim."

"And you came all the way up here just to tell me this?"

"Yes." Blair couldn't keep the wonder out of his voice. "Because I think it's amazing. And I wanted to help you, if I could." He reached out and touched Jim's hand.

"You didn't even know me. Why is this so important to you?"

Blair snorted. "Well, a year ago you could have been the subject of my dissertation. Now, well, validation, I guess."


"I've been searching for a sentinel all my life. Just knowing that sentinels really exist. Even if I'm the only one who knows."

"You really think I can be a cop again?"

"Yes, Jim, I do."

"How? I mean, I can't control...."

"But now that you know what they are, we can work on control."


"Yes, Jim, we. I can stay up here and help you."

"Yeah, but for how long?"

"As long as it takes, Jim. One day soon you're going to go back to Cascade and get your job back. I'd stake my life on that."

"What about your classes? Didn't you say you're a grad student?"

"Yeah, well, I don't have any classes this semester. I'm actually done, just waiting to find out when I need to go in and defend my diss." Blair grinned. "Then it'll be Dr. Sandburg. Kind of hard to imagine."

"What did you end up doing your diss on if you couldn't use sentinels?"

Blair's grin widened. "Well, I did use sentinels, sort of. I couldn't let go of it completely, so I just kind of twisted it around. I managed to get okay'd for a ride-along with the Major Crime department of the Cascade PD and I did my diss on Police Officers: The Modern-Day Sentinel. That's, um, that's how I first heard about you, actually."

Jim got a faraway look on his face. "How was everyone?"

"Good. Everyone was good."

"You met Simon?"

Blair laughed. "Yeah, you could say I met Simon. Had to convince him of the merits of my diss. That was no walk in the park, let me tell you."

"He's good?"

"Yeah, Jim, he's good. He misses you. I could tell by the way he said your name. And I met Daryl, too. Cool kid."

"Henri and Rafe?"

"Yeah, I rode with them for a month. They were quite a pair. And I met Carolyn." Jim's face didn't show what he was thinking. "You were really married to her?"


"Okay, well, you know, I've kinda just thrown a whole bunch of information at you, and you probably need some time to digest it all, so I'm gonna go clean up lunch and let you sit here, okay? If you have any questions, though, you can ask me anything. You can read this book, or the articles I had published, they're all in here." He patted the pack. "All right, I'll just, uh, give you some space."

Blair took his time cleaning up lunch, then cleaned the already spotless kitchen. He peeked into the living room and saw that Jim was reading one of his articles. Not wanting to interrupt, he went in search of the laundry room. When he found it, he started a load, then borrowed a clean pair of sweats and a t-shirt from Jim and stuffed all of his clothes, along with a few of Jim's, into the washer.

He remembered seeing a book on Jim's bedside table, so he spread out on the bed and read while the clothes washed and dried, then he folded them. He'd given Jim about three hours to himself, so Blair decided to take the book into the living room with him.

Jim was still sitting in the same spot, but the book on his lap was turned to a different page.

Blair sat in one corner of the couch and shoved his toes under Jim's leg to keep them warm. Jim didn't respond, so Blair left him alone and returned to the book he'd borrowed. When it got dark, Blair twisted around on the couch and turned on the lamp that sat on the end table.

Blair figured that he'd given Jim enough time to think, so when he turned back around, he said, "Jim?" Jim didn't respond, so Blair poked him with his toes. "Come on, man, you can't just ignore me. I know you're not zoning."

Jim shot a look at Blair that he couldn't decipher.

"Look, Jim, I just wanted you to have all the information, man, you don't have to do anything with it. I mean, you don't want to be a cop anymore, that's fine. You want to let your senses control you, instead of you controlling your senses, that's fine, too. Just don't shut me out."

"I don't know if I can do it."

Before Jim could react, Blair crawled over to him and straddled his lap.

"I want to help you. I'm going to help you." Blair cradled Jim's face, leaned down and gently pressed his lips to Jim's. "And you're going to let me, damn it."

Jim couldn't hide his conflicted feelings. Blair knew that Jim wanted him, but he was afraid of those very same feelings. "I need you too much already," Jim said, proving Blair right.

"Scary, isn't it? Good thing we're both in the same boat."

"Tell me something, Chief. Don't you think this...thing between us happened awfully fast?"

"Yeah," Blair said, trying not to sound like a sap. "I think it was fate, Jim."

"Fate? Like, what, we don't get to make our own decisions?"

"No, fate, like giving us the opportunity and letting us decide what we make of that opportunity. I mean, what are the chances of me, someone with the knowledge of sentinels, meeting Captain Simon Banks and learning about you?"

"And you driving up here during a snowstorm in a car with no heat and getting snowed in with me?"

"Uh, well, actually, Jim, that one's pretty much a given. I mean, the Corvair's a classic, man, but, you know, it costs a lot to keep her on the road."

Jim snorted. "Classic, my ass."

"Well, your ass is a classic, too." Blair giggled. "And it takes less to get it running."

Jim pushed Blair off his lap, and he landed on his ass, then collapsed onto the braided rug in front of the fireplace, caught up in a fit of giggles. When the giggles slowed down, Jim poked his toes into Blair's side and set him off again.

"Some help you're going to be, Chief."

"Oh, Jim," Blair said between giggles, "you have no idea, man."


The Sentinel of His Dreams by Spikedluv:
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