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High Maintenance

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High Maintenance

by JoanZ JemZ



Thank you to my beta, Kerensa

CHAPTER 1

Blair sat in his seat, memorizing the interaction of sentinel's interviewing prospective guides. It was the only thing he could do to occupy his mind and keep himself from going crazy.

When the government-instituted mandatory testing for the Guide Gene he was identified as a Guide and required by law to attend Guide School and, upon graduation, attend one Guide Exposition a month.

At first he thought it would be interesting, anthropologically speaking. After all he held a Masters Degree and was going for his doctorate. But he soon began to inveigh against what he was learning. A Guide served the Sentinel's needs, period.

He understood the need for Guides; a Sentinel without a Guide was subject to zone-outs that would gradually become worse and lead to a zone-coma and death. A worse scenario existed too, and it was what caused lawmakers to institute the Guide Draft, Sentinels could go insane from the need of a Guide. One Sentinel killed several children in a schoolyard to get to a teacher who did not know she carried the Guide Gene. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. The Guide Draft was implemented and with it Guides lost the right to say no to a bond with a Sentinel.

But Blair was not one to go placidly into slavery. He was told that he was not anymore of a slave then anyone in the armed services. "If that's true," he asked, "why don't I have the right to say no?"

"You are not owned, Mr. Sandburg, you are serving society's greater need. You still have the right to vote and you are paid for your work." was the answer he got until the instructor, a bonded Guide, quite angrily told him he had his answer and the subject was no longer open for discussion.

He tried a different tact. "Why is it that a Guide has to meet all the Sentinel's needs, why aren't Sentinels here learning how to meet a Guide's needs?"

"You are here to learn what a Guide needs to learn," the instructor said. "That is all you need to be concerned about."

The day he found out Guides were expected to have sexual relations with their bonded Sentinel really ticked him off. "I'm not gay," he told his instructor after class.

"No one said you are, Mr. Sandburg."

"But I don't have the right to say no," Blair said. "That's institutionalized rape."

"First, Mr. Sandburg, Sentinels do not rape their Guides, and second I doubt you will have to worry about it. You have been declared high maintenance due to your un-cooperative nature. I doubt that any Sentinel would want you." With that she stomped out of the classroom.

Blair followed her down the hall. "Then I can be released from my legal obligations?" he asked.

"Certainly, if you are not claimed by a Sentinel within five years you'll be released from Guide Reserve Duty."

Now here he was at the Guide fair waiting for the day to end. The instructor was right, no Sentinel ever sat down to interview him. They would just read his "warning label" and walk on by or scowl at him and mutter "high maintenance" as they continued their search for a Guide.

Blair was watching a Sentinel who had chosen a Guide and was leaving with her when he noticed a Sentinel standing in front of his table. He stayed longer than most Sentinel's stayed and scowled down at Blair. Blair looked up, smiled his most charming smile and said, "High Maintenance." The Sentinel walked away.

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One month later:

Jim sat at his desk, zoned out on the bubbles that swirled in his cup of coffee. They looked so much like the curly hair of the guide he had seen four weeks ago. He reached out his hand to touch the Guide's hair and dipped his fingers into the hot liquid. He gave a small yelp as he was catapulted out of his zone; he pulled his fingers back and tipped the mug of hot coffee onto his desk and himself. He jumped up cursing himself and his clumsiness and went to the men's room to wash up.

Simon, precinct captain and best friend, followed him in. "What's going on Jim?" he asked.

"I just zoned-out for a moment, that's all."

"Zone-outs don't cause Sentinels to stick their fingers in hot coffee. So I ask again, what's going on?"

"I've been having dreams about a Guide I saw at a Guide Exposition." Jim said as he inspected the men's room wall.

"You found yourself a Guide and you haven't claimed her, why?" Simon asked.

Jim turned and looked at Simon. "Because it's not a her."

"Then I suggest that you find out if he is still available and claim him."

"Oh, he's still available," Jim, said with an ironic laugh.

"How do you know that?"

"Because he comes with a high maintenance due to uncooperative nature, warning. The little shit."

"Oh my god! You're in love with him," Simon said.

"What! Where did you get love out of anything I just said? I don't even know the guy. Plus, Simon, he's a guy and I'm not gay."

"Doesn't matter, you're a Sentinel, he's a Guide. What is it that Sentinel's say? You don't always get the guide you want you get the guide you need. Leave now, go down to Portland and claim him."

"Portland. Why would I want to go to Portland?"

"Isn't that where you met him, last week in Portland?"

"No, last month in Cascade."

"You haven't been able to get this guy out of your mind for a month? Jesus, Jim, what the hell's the matter with you?"

Jim moaned and turned around in a circle before looking back at his friend. "What am I going to do, Simon? I've been to other Guide Fairs and they all smell...sour. I don't want a male Guide."

"Like I just said we don't always get what we want in this life. If he were female what would you have done?"

"I would have claimed her. Do you know what that little bastard did? He looked up at me with a perfectly charming, cat swallowed the canary smile, and said, 'high maintenance'. He knew I wouldn't claim him. He knew it that smug little bas..." Jim looked into his friend's eyes. "I'm in love, aren't I?" he whispered.

"Took you long enough," Simon said. "As to what you're going to do about it, accept it. Your life has changed and it's not going to change back."

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Jim paced outside the doors of the room where the guides waited to be interviewed. He had gotten there half an hour early in hopes of seeing his guide enter the room, but the guides used the employee entrance and by the time it occurred to him they must come in a different way it was almost time for the doors to open, so he paced. A bonded guide of one of the sentinel guards offered to help him calm down, but he told the woman he wasn't interested in calming down, he just wanted to claim his guide. They kept a close eye on him, in case he snapped, that annoyed him but he continued to pace and watch the time creep by until the doors finally opened.

Blair saw the sentinel come into the room and head straight for him. It surprised him that the big guy had not yet found a guide. It was rare he saw a sentinel more than once.

Jim stood in front of Blair's table. "Guide," he said in a firm, police detective voice.

Blair tucked his chin in tilted his head just a bit and looked up at the man towering over him. "Sssen ten nel?" he asked in a voice that Jim could only describe as husky and sultry and damn sexy. His cock twitched at the sound.

Jim sat in the chair across from Blair, partly to hide the tent that would shortly be quite noticeable, and partly to give himself time to think. He had never gotten aroused for a man before. He bit the inside of his cheek in hopes that the pain would stop the pulsing in his groin. But still the Guide's blue eyes watched him and evaluated his every move. Jim moaned. It was a tiny moan and he didn't mean to do it, but he saw the Guide's pupils flare and then return to size, so he knew the Guide had heard it. "Are you gay?" Jim suddenly asked.

"No," was Blair's one word reply.

"Neither am I," Jim said. He waited for a few seconds trying to decide what to say. He couldn't just blurt out 'I love you' in front of everyone. It wasn't in his nature. "We have to talk alone," he said.

"I don't think they allow that," Blair said.

"Yeah, Chief, they do."

"Chief?" Blair asked.

"Yeah, it's a term of endearment," he said, as he looked away and then back into Blair's blue eyes.

Blair suddenly understood. "Shit," he said.

Jim tilted his head and looked at his Guide. "Yeah, that's what I said." He stood up and offered the Guide his hand.

"You don't want to do this, man," Blair said, with an edge of panic in his voice.

Jim shrugged, walked around the table, picked up his Guide and put him over his shoulder. He picked up the tags that would register Blair as his Guide and exited the room. A desk in the lobby was set up for Sentinel/Guide Registration.

"You can put me down now," Blair said, as Jim carried him through the lobby.

"No."

"I won't run," Blair said. He knew a running Guide meant an angry Sentinel was right behind.

Jim stopped and whispered to Blair. "I can't put you down, Chief, I've got a hard on the size of the Washington Monument and your legs are covering it."

"I think I'm going to be sick," Blair said.

"Is that figuratively sick or literally sick?"

Blair moaned.

Jim stepped up to the Sentinel/Guide registration desk. "I'm claiming this Guide," he said as he dropped Blair's tags on the desk and reached in his pocket and took out his ID. "I need a room as soon as possible, my Guide isn't feeling well."

"If you allow me to hold your ID here while I make out the registration papers you can go right on up to your room," the clerk behind the desk said. Everyone on the staff knew delaying a Sentinel was not a wise thing to do.

"That's fine," Jim said.

"Room 507," the clerk said, as she handed him the card key. "The elevator is right around the corner."

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CHAPTER 2

The hotel always provided Sentinels with a suite. Claiming and bonding sometimes took several days and Sentinels would not leave their room until the bonding process was complete.

The bathroom was large with a stall shower big enough for two. There was a whirlpool tub, also designed for two, and a bidet.

There was a fully stocked galley kitchen, the refrigerator had an ice maker and was stocked with bottled spring water. There were fresh fruits and the hotel provided a grocery service at no extra charge.

There was also a sitting area with a small sofa and a chair, as well as a TV, with the full cable lineup and on demand movies.

Most of the bedroom was taken up with a king size bed and there were plenty of large, plump pillows and a satellite radio.

Jim carried Blair into the room and sat him in the chair in the sitting room. Then he locked the door and made the rounds of the suite, checking in closets and under the bed to make sure the area was safe.

Blair watched Jim as he examined the rooms. The big guy did have an erection that any man would be proud of and certainly larger than anything Blair wanted to get to know on a personal level. Running was out of the question. It would only trigger a chase response in the Sentinel and most likely lead to excessive force. So Blair waited and hoped he could use his ability with words to talk the Sentinel out of claiming him.

Jim sat on the sofa and looked into Blair's eyes and Blair looked back. For what seemed like a long time Jim was silent and then he spoke. "We have to make this work, Chief."

"I'm not interested in being a Guide," Blair said. "I have a Masters Degree in Anthropology and I am going for my Doctorate. I have a life, go choose someone who doesn't. Choose a woman, get married, have babies."

"That was the plan."

"So stick with the plan."

"I wish I could," Jim said, in a voice full of sorrow.

Blair gave an ironic laugh. "You have choices, I don't. I am legally obligated to bond on any Sentinel's whim."

"You think I have choices?" Jim said, with an edge of anger in his voice. "You think this is a whim? I don't want a male guide, but I can't get you out of my head. I go to a guide fair every weekend and every guide smells sour since I picked up your scent. I dream about you, I zone over the bubbles in my coffee because it reminds me of your hair. You say you're legally obligated to bond with me. I'm physically, emotionally and mentally obligated to bond with a Guide. I don't have a choice; I need a Guide and you're it, Chief."

"Jesus, they never told us any of this in Guide School. The whole six months could have been boiled down to one sentence. Do what ever the Sentinel tells you to do."

"Sentinels are a pretty secretive bunch. Lack of control is embarrassing, so we don't talk about it. I thought the public figured it out for themselves. Why else would Guides be forced to bond?"

"Power corrupts and Sentinels have power," Blair said.

"And sometimes, Chief, power is just an overcompensation for weakness."

"I'm sorry that you're hurting, man," Blair said. "But I still don't want to do this."

"We have no choice."

"There are always choices," Blair said.

"Okay," Jim said. "My choice is bond with you or die. I choose you."

"But you don't want me. You said so since we've been in this room."

"I do want you, I just don't want to want you. But more importantly I need you. I'm close to breaking, Chief. I felt it this morning, waiting for the doors to open. If I don't bond I won't go into a zone coma and die as my organs shut down, I'll crack and come after you and I will kill anyone that gets in my way."

"You seem pretty stable to me."

"I am right now. I'm here with you. Your smell, the sound of your voice, being able to look at you. That all helps, but sooner or later I'm going to need to touch you and taste you."

"Taste me, what are you going to do, take a bite out of my arm?"

"Come on, Chief, you're a smart guy, you know what it means."

"You'd do that, go down on me? Because the impression I got in Guide School is that the Sentinel is always top."

"It's a pretty strong drive, but I don't think I'll be feeling particularly submissive when I do it."

"When, not if?"

"We can take a few days," Jim said. "Get to know each other and feel more comfortable. The time isn't right, yet."

"I'm never going to feel comfortable," Blair said.

"And I never thought I'd get a hard on for a guy, but it happened."

"Do you really want me that way?"

Jim sighed and stood up. He started pacing as he ran his fingers through his hair. When he stopped and looked at Blair his eyes pleaded with him to understand, they were asking not to be hurt not to be rejected. "Yes, I do."

What Blair saw in Jim's eyes hit him hard. The sound of the sentinel's voice and the words he spoke stabbed deep into his psyche and something changed. It was as if he had traveled to the other side of the universe without moving at all. Blair's blood pressure dropped, his skin felt clammy and he suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous, he slumped forward in the chair and moaned. He knew what it was, it had been explained to him in Guide School. Blair had denied it, he thought he could avoid it just by will power alone.

Jim was there in an instant; he picked up Blair and laid him on the sofa and then dropped to his knees beside his guide. "What happened?" Jim asked, as he brushed Blair's hair out of his face.

The instant Jim touched him the nausea and dizziness were gone and his blood pressure returned to normal. "The bond, it's started."

Jim was quiet for a moment as he ran his finger over Blair's face. He wanted to undress him and explore his body, but somehow he knew it was too soon. His Guide needed time. He didn't think to question this knowing of his Guide's needs. It was normal, natural, like knowing dark from light. He could feel the bond as he touched his Guide. It was a light touch in his mind but warm and fertile and ready to grow deep and strong. "I know you don't want this, but I cant say I'm sorry," and then a moment later the words came unbidden, "I love you," Jim's fingers tangled themselves in the curly silkiness of Blair's hair. He hadn't meant to say it. But the words had slipped out as if they were fingers needing to touch Blair's mind, and they did. Jim could see it in his Guide's eyes.

"I know," Blair whispered, and he did not only know, he understood for the first time what the teachers in Guide school were trying to tell him. From this day on his life was linked with this stranger, this Sentinel that loved him. "I know," he repeated, "But I need time and then I think I'll be able to say I love you too."

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CHAPTER 3

Jim went slowly with Blair, but he never went slower than was absolutely necessary. They sat on the sofa watching old movies and sharing a bowl of popcorn. Blair liked old movies and Jim liked detective movies. So they went to the movies on demand menu and found several to their liking. Jim was happy with it because it gave him the opportunity to sit beside Blair on the sofa and touch him. Blair chatted about the anthropological side of popular entertainment while he tried to ignore Jim's off-again-on-again arousal.

A little way into the second movie Jim decided it was time to step things up. He put his hand under Blair's hair and brushed his fingers along Blair's neck. The skin-to-skin touch made Blair jump. Little electric sparks of pleasure seemed to travel directly to his cock.

"Oh gods," Blair moaned.

"Did you say something, Chief?" Jim asked, with a smile, as he continued ghosting his fingers over Blair's neck.

Blair looked down at his crotch and so did Jim. Blair's arousal at Jim's touch was evident.

"Does that mean I can kiss you now, Chief?"

Blair looked up into Jim's eyes, his own eyes asking the question. 'What's happening?'

"I know," Jim whispered, as his big hand splayed out across Blair's back. "It's strange at first. But we're Sentinel and Guide." He put just the lightest amount of pressure on Blair's back encouraging him to come to him as he leaned in to kiss Blair's lips.

Blair didn't move, neither forward nor back, as Jim moved closer and lightly touched Blair's lips with his own. The kiss was wonderful and Blair closed his eyes.

Jim increased the pressure and ran his tongue over Blair's lips and then Blair did move into the kiss. That small movement was all Jim needed in the way of encouragement. The kiss became demanding and hungry and then Jim picked up his Guide and carried him to the bedroom.

"Jim?" Blair asked as he was laid on the bed. "I don't..."

"Shhh," Jim said, as he laid his fingers across Blair's lips. "I need to do this, Chief, it's time."

"Tasting?" Blair asked with a bit of apprehension, as Jim removed his clothes.

"I won't hurt you, Blair," Jim said as he finished removing Blair's clothes and began to remove his own. "I love you, you're my Guide."

Blair swallowed hard as Jim finished removing his clothes and climbed onto the bed.

"You're frightened," Jim said, "I can smell it."

"Well yeah, I'm a virgin, with this man-to-man stuff, and you're ...huge." In spite of Blair's fear, his erection stayed firm. Jim stroked Blair's chest and every touch sent pleasure through his body.

"I won't hurt you, Blair, you know that, in your soul, you know it." Jim leaned down and began to lick Blair's chest. When his tongue found Blair's nipple Blair moaned with pleasure and his cock began to leak pre-cum.

Blair thrust upward in a desperate attempt to find friction for his aching cock.

"Are you ready, Guide?" Jim asked, and then he ran his tongue around Blair's bellybutton causing Blair, once again, to thrust his hips upward.

"I'm scared as hell," Blair said.

"The only way to get over a fear is to do the thing you fear."

"Well, you're right about one thing," Blair said, trying for a bit of comic relief. "You're definitely the top."

Jim smiled and flicked out his tongue into the small pool of pre-cum on Blair's stomach. "MMMM," he said. "You taste good." He let his tongue brush the tip of Blair's cock.

Blair's hips lifted off the bed once again and he moaned. "I can't be doing this," he said. "I don't even know you."

Jim looked into Blair's eyes. "Don't worry, Chief, I'll still love you in the morning," he said, and then he began to give Blair's cock little kitten licks.

Blair felt as if he were being driven insane by the pleasure that was cursing through his body. He thrust upward again and moaned as Jim took his cock into his mouth.

Jim knew Blair wouldn't last long and he did not want to delay any longer. He slid his lips along the delicious shaft and began to hum.

The vibrations sent Blair wild. He thrust upward and screamed with pleasure. He tried to sit up and pull Jim's head away as he ejaculated into his mouth, but Jim grabbed his hands and took every drop Blair had to offer.

When the orgasm stopped, Blair collapsed on the bed. He lay on his back, looking up at the ceiling, trying to catch his breath.

Jim lay beside him, watching his Guide for signs of stress. "That wasn't so bad was it, Chief?" he asked after a moment had passed.

"I just came in a guy's mouth," Blair said.

"You're a Guide that just came in your Sentinel's mouth. It's not the last time that will happen."

"Look," Blair said. "I know we have this bond thing, but I can't just give up my life and become an extension of you."

Jim sat up, moved the pillows into position and leaned back against the headboard. His erection was disappearing again and he was aching for release but tending to his guide and securing his trust came first. "What do you need?"

"You're asking me what I need?"

"That was the question, Chief."

"Is this a joke?"

"No joke, let's negotiate. What do you need?"

Blair sat up on the bed and crossed his legs, Indian style. "I need to keep my identity," he said, as he looked into Jim's eyes.

"Too general, Chief, I need specifics."

"Okay, ummm, I need to finish my doctorate and work in my field."

"Anthropology?"

"Yeah."

"And you'll finish your doctorate here in Cascade?"

"Yeah, I'm working my way through, correcting papers for professors and tutoring, that kind of stuff, waiting tables when things get real tough."

"No more waiting tables," Jim said with a half growl.

"I need the money sometimes. There aren't always enough tutoring jobs."

"You'll have enough. I'll pay the rent, food and utilities, so no waiting tables. That's not negotiable, Chief."

"Why are you so against my waiting tables?"

"It will take you away from me too much. Studying, correcting papers; that can be done at home. Tutoring is probably where most of your money comes from, and it's a part of working in your field, so I'm willing to compromise on that point. What about eight hours a day with me as my guide, eight hours a day working on your doctorate and eight hours a day we sleep, in the same bed. Does that sound doable?"

"You'd let me finish my studies?" Blair couldn't quite believe it.

"Let you? I wish you would get over this notion that I'm Simon Legree. Look we're probably going to have to make some adjustments as we go, but I'm willing to be bonded to a Doctor of Anthropology. I want us to work this out, okay?"

"What about working in my field after I graduate?"

"I have no idea what a Doctor of Anthropology does. But I'll tell you one thing, you're not going to traipse around the jungles of Peru by yourself."

"Are you saying you'd come with me?"

"I'm saying either I come with you or you don't go."

"So, let me get this straight, once I graduate, when a job in anthropology comes my way I can take it and you'll come with me?"

Jim looked at his Guide. "All I can tell you is I will give it honest consideration."

"So you're the one with the veto rights?" Blair said, with an annoyed voice.

"There you go with the Simon Legree stuff again. Doesn't the phrase honest consideration mean anything to you?"

Blair glared at Jim. "I don't trust you."

Jim reached out and stroked Blair's thigh. "Then give me time to show I'm worthy of your trust."

The now familiar sparks of pleasure ran through Blair's body at the Sentinel's touch. Blair moaned. "Is it always going to feel like this when you touch me?"

"I don't know," Jim said as he lay back down on the bed and pulled Blair to him. "What goes on between a Sentinel and his Guide stays between a Sentinel and his Guide. Sentinels don't talk about it." He began kissing Blair. Softly at first and then the kisses became more urgent. "I'm hurting Guide, help me?"

It was a call that was ancient and deep and one that no Guide who had found his Sentinel could resist. Blair reached out and for the first time stroked his Sentinel.

Jim moaned with pleasure at the touch and Blair felt both a satisfaction at the sound and a desire for more. Everything seamed to melt away for Blair and there was only he and his Sentinel. Blair captured the pre-cum that was leaking from Jim's cock and spread it down Jim's shaft.

Now that Blair was finally touching him and stroking him, Jim did not want to cum. He wanted to delay the inevitable and enjoy the touch of his Guide as long as possible, but his body had been aroused for too long and needed the release. The last moan he gave was not one of pleasure but one of regret as he pulled Blair to him and buried his face in Blair's neck. His body thrust hard as he pumped his seed onto Blair's stomach and chest.

Jim didn't release his hold on Blair when his orgasm ended. He just whispered one word, "Sleep."

Blair found he was tired, and he closed his eyes. His last thought, before drifting into sleep, was wonder at feeling so safe and secure in his sentinel's arms.

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CHAPTER 4

They woke together, still tangled in each other's arms. Jim heard Blair's stomach grumble.

"Hungry, Chief?" he asked.

"Ummm and I've got to pee," Blair said, with a yawn.

Jim let go of Blair. "Why don't you use the bathroom while I call room service and have them bring up some breakfast. Bacon and eggs okay?"

"No way, that's nothing but cholesterol," Blair said, as he got out of bed. "I'll have yogurt with Grape Nuts, fresh fruit and whole wheat toast."

"Please don't tell me you're a health food nut," Jim moaned, as Blair disappeared into the bathroom and closed the door.

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Blair stared at Jim's breakfast plate as he quietly ate his own healthy breakfast.

"Want some?" Jim asked, holding up a fork full of scrambled egg.

Blair shook his head no. "Do you eat that stuff every morning?" he asked.

"Just about," Jim said, and then took a bite of white bread toast with puddles of melted butter on the top.

"When was the last time you had your cholesterol checked?"

"Why, guide, I didn't know you cared," Jim said, with a smile, as he put the last piece of bacon in his mouth.

"You don't expect me to keep my mouth shut while you shovel poison into your body do you?"

"I had my cholesterol checked in March, it's 157. What's yours?"

"I'm 136," Blair said. "Do you ever eat fish or oatmeal?"

"Oatmeal, isn't it that stuff that tastes like wet cardboard?"

"Oatmeal is good, man, mix in some baked apple with a bit of cinnamon and a dash of brown sugar. It's like having apple pie for breakfast. Plus, on a cold morning it stays with you and keeps you warm."

"Tell you what, Chief, the next cold morning we have, you get to cook the oatmeal."

"And you'll eat it?" Blair asked.

"I'll give it a try."

Blair smiled and his whole face lit up. Jim felt good seeing Blair smile. He wondered how many other little things he could do to make his guide smile. He hoped giving in on the little things would make it easier when something came along that required his Guide's obedience.

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Jim walked around the mall with a scowl on his face. He and Blair had been together for a month and for the most part it had been great. But he still hadn't fully claimed his Guide. They gave each other pleasure and oral gratification but he had not yet penetrated Blair. The last three weeks he had been stretching Blair with his fingers and tonight was the night. Blair was ready, he was sure of it. He wanted to make the night special with a gift, but he couldn't find anything appropriate. He turned around to leave when he noticed a small store called Nature's Gifts, it was worth a try, and so he walked in. He had to dial back his sense of smell, because the store sold incense, but it looked like just the kind of store his guide would like. He poked around, not finding anything that struck his fancy, until he noticed a sign near the cash register, Hand Made Jewelry, 20% off. Jim walked over to take a look and this time he found the perfect gift. It caught his eye immediately, a silver wolf's head pendent. He didn't know why he felt it was perfect for Blair; he just knew that it was. He had the woman gift wrap it, surprised that such a small store offered gift-wrapping, but grateful that they did. He picked up a bottle of wine and a complete meal for two from the gourmet shop, on the way home. He would have plenty of time to get everything ready. Jim was a happy man.

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Blair was not a happy man. First, the student he tutored was half an hour late and then, on the way home, he got a flat. As if that was not bad enough, it started to rain right in the middle of changing the tire and now he was covered with road mud. He had tried to call Jim to let him know he would be late but the battery on his cell phone was dead. Now he was an hour late for dinner, dirty and soaked to the skin. Plus, he was pretty sure Jim had planned something special; he had been making little hints for a week about how tonight would be their one-month anniversary. He pulled into his parking space and grabbed his backpack, which contained a gift for Jim, a book about animal spirit guides. He had seen the book three days ago on the discount table at the bookstore and couldn't get it out of his head. He had been saving to purchase new tires, Jim had been nagging him that his tires were too worn and therefore unsafe and subject to blowouts. But the compulsion to buy the book was irresistible and the price was exactly what he had saved. It seemed like a cosmic message to him so yesterday he went back to the bookstore and purchased the book.

Well at least he was finally home; Blair grabbed his backpack, got out of the car and dashed, through the driving rain, for the door.

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Jim glanced at his watch, impatient for his guide to return home. Blair was fifteen minutes late. "Must have got caught in traffic," Jim mumbled.

Jim checked the dinner he was keeping warm in the oven and glance up at the kitchen clock. Blair was half an hour late. Now he was angry. He had dropped enough hints throughout the week that he had something special planned for tonight. "He better not be having drinks with that bitch he tutors," Jim growled under his breath. He called Blair's cell phone but Blair either had it turned off or the battery was dead.

At forty-five minutes late Jim's anger transferred to worry. "Blair wouldn't do this," he said out loud. As annoying as his Guide sometimes was it was always based on ways Blair perceived to make life better. Whatever else his Guide was, he was first and foremost an empath and being inconsiderate or deliberately mean just wasn't in him. Jim tried Blair's cell phone again, with no luck. Then he called the police station to see if there had been any accidents in Cascade. There had been two within the last hour. Jim waited on the line, his heart pounding, to see if any of the cars involved were Blair's. He got some relief when he found Blair was not involved. Next he called university security, they told him nothing involving Blair Sandburg had been reported and suggested he call the clinic in case he had become ill. Jim called but they told him that Blair had not been into the clinic.

By the time he finished all the calls Blair was an hour late. Jim was distraught with worry. "That rattletrap he calls a car must have broken down," he muttered to himself, as he grabbed his coat and keys and started out the door to go and find his Guide. He was convinced that Blair must be walking home or worse thumbing. Just as he opened the door he heard the elevator start up. Jim identified the person in the elevator as Blair, by his heartbeat and his scent. He stood by the elevator doors prepared to rip his Guide a new one until the elevator doors slid open and he saw a soaked, dirty and bedraggled Blair staring at him.

All Jim's emotions drained away and were replaced by one overwhelming drive; care for your Guide! "What happened, Chief?" Jim asked, as he grabbed Blair's backpack off his shoulder and ushered his Guide to the apartment door.

"The student was half an hour late, I tried to call but my cell was dead and then I got a flat and don't be telling me 'I told you so,' because I already heard you say it a hundred times while I was changing the damn tire."

"How did you get so dirty?" Jim asked, as he dropped the backpack on the floor and steered Blair toward the bathroom.

"Got splashed a few times while I was changing the tire."

Jim took Blair into the bathroom and started removing Blair's very dirty clothes.

"Um, Jim, what are you doing?" Blair asked; he had never before seen the sentinel behave this way.

"You need a shower, Chief," Jim answered, as he unbuttoned Blair's shirt.

"Yes, Jim, but I'm a big boy. I'm capable of undressing myself and taking a shower. I do it everyday."

"I need to make sure you're not hurt," Jim said, as he sat Blair on the toilet and knelt down to pull off Blair's shoes and socks.

"If I were hurt I'd know it."

"Not open for negotiation, Chief," Jim said, continuing to undress his Guide.

"Okay, you win this round," Blair said giving up the argument, plus Jim was just about finished undressing him anyway.

"Wasn't prepared to lose this one," the Sentinel said, looking at his Guide with a smile. Jim couldn't smell any blood on Blair so he adjusted the water in the shower and turned to his Guide. "You get cleaned up, I'll bring you some dry clothes and get dinner on the table."

Blair started to get into the shower and then turned to Jim just before he closed the bathroom door. "Jim," he called.

Jim turned to look at his guide. "Yeah, Chief."

"It's good to be home, man."

"It's good to have you home, Guide."

@@@@@@

When Blair came out of the bathroom he was surprised to see the apartment had been transformed. The lights were turned low and soft music was playing on the stereo, candles were burning on a table set for two and dinner was served and waiting.

"Wow, Jim, this is beautiful," Blair said, suddenly all the trials of the last few hours faded away as he looked into his lover's eyes.

"Glad you like it, Chief," Jim said. "Sit down and I'll pour some wine." Jim poured the wine and lifted his glass. "I want to make a toast."

Blair lifted his glass and waited.

"To our first month together and may they all be as happy as this one."

"To our first month," Blair echoed.

A little more than half an hour later they finished their dinner and Jim cleared the table for desert. Blair offered to help, but Jim told him to take it easy, he needed to save his strength for the grand finale. When they had finished their desert, Jim presented Blair with his gift.

"Wow, Jim, I didn't expect this," Blair said.

"I wanted tonight to be special," Jim said.

"Well it is," Blair said. "All of this, It's very special."

"Just shut-up and open your gift, Chief."

"Well, I have a gift for you too."

"I thought you weren't expecting a gift."

"I was expecting something," Blair said, as he walked over to his backpack and pulled out the gift he had bought for Jim. "The way you were dropping hints all week, I just wanted to let you know that tonight is special to me too."

"Saying that is the best gift you could give me...or maybe the second best," Jim said, as he tilted his head toward the bedroom.

"Well, in that case maybe we should both shut up an open our presents."

"You go first, Chief."

Blair opened his gift. "Jim, It's beautiful," he said as he looked at the silver wolfs head pendent. "Wow, Jim, I don't know what to say."

"The look on your face says enough," Jim said, happy that he had managed to purchase a gift that Blair was so obviously thrilled with. "Here, let me put it on for you." Jim fastened the necklace around Blair's neck and then stepped back to admire it. "When I saw it I had to buy it. It caught my eye and wouldn't let go. Somehow I knew it was perfect for you."

"Really, because the same thing happened to me with your gift. Go ahead and open it."

Jim tore the paper off of his gift. "A book on animal spirit guides, thank you Blair."

"Oh, man, you don't get it. You gave me pendent of a wolf and wolves are often spirit guides, and I gave you a book on animal spirit guides. It's a Guide/Sentinel thing." Blair thought for a moment trying to explain to Jim. "It's like The Gift of the Magi."

"I don't understand how that story applied to this. The woman in the story sold her hair to buy a watch fob and the man hawked his watch to buy her a hair comb, from what I see you still have your neck to wear your necklace on and I still have eyes to read my book. But if you think I don't like my present you're wrong. It's a lovely book and from the looks of it expensive and I know money is tight for you."

Blair turned white.

"Chief? What's going on?"

"Nothing, Jim," Blair said as his color returned. "Why don't I help you clean up and then we can go upstairs and call it an early night," he said, trying to distract the Sentinel.

"Guide," Jim said in his police detective voice, and not willing to let the matter drop. "You tell me right now what's going on."

Blair knew there was no point in attempting to dodge the issue. "I spent the money I had been saving to buy new tires on the book," he said softly.

"Jesus, Blair, you promised me you'd get new tires as soon as possible."

"And I will, it's just not possible yet. I...

"Do you have any idea of what you put me through tonight," Jim interrupted, his anger returning. "I called the station, the university and the clinic because I thought you got in an accident. It's dangerous changing tires on the side of the road. What if someone had hit you instead of just splashing you? The book goes back tomorrow, you get your money back and buy those tires. If you don't have enough I'll loan it to you. Do you understand me guide?

"I'm not taking the book back," Blair said with defiance in his voice. "You said that you couldn't resist buying this pendant for me. Well I couldn't resist buying that book for us. It's more than a book. I have hopes of us searching for our animal spirit guides together, going to the next level of the Sentinel/Guide relationship. That book represents my commitment to making this work and I won't take it back.

Jim just looked at his guide for a moment as his anger once again dissipated. "I'm sorry, Chief, I wasn't knocking the gift. It's just that I was crazy with worry for you tonight. You can't let your cell phone battery go dead; I need to know you're safe. I'll buy the tires and you can pay me back. Okay?"

"I don't want to end up a kept man, Jim."

"You'll pay me back," Jim said.

Blair sighed. "I guess I pretty much ruined the evening," Blair said.

"There's always plan B," Jim said.

"All of this and a plan B too?"

" When it's important I always have a plan B. Let's get this cleaned up first."

It didn't take the two of them long to clean up the kitchen and get the dirty dishes into the dishwasher. Then Jim picked up the stereo remote and changed the music. "Listen to the words, Chief, I mean all of them except for the part about being mean. That doesn't fit you but everything else does."

Frank Sinatra began to sing.

"It had to be you,
It had to be you,
I looked around,
And finally found
Somebody who,
Could make me be true,
Could make me be blue,
And even be glad just to be sad thinking of you."

"May I have this dance, Chief?" Jim asked.

Blair smiled and moved into Jim's arms and they danced as the song continued.

"Nobody else gives me a thrill,
With all your faults, dear, I love you still It had to be you, wonderful you,
It had to be you.

Jim danced Blair over to the stairs and the two went up to the bedroom. For the second time that day Jim took off Blair's clothes and then slipped out of his own. The naked couple lay on the bed pleasuring each other.

"Jim," Blair asked, "Do you remember that first day, when I asked if it would always feel the same when you touch me?"

"I remember," Jim said, as he stroked Blair's body.

"Well it does, it still feels the same."

"I'm glad, Chief," Jim said as he kissed and nibbled his way down Blair's body.

Blair leaned back and closed his eyes. Jim didn't like him to talk while they made love. What Jim liked was the little sounds of pleasure he would make.

When Jim finished licking and nibbling Blair's body he took Blair's cock into his mouth and at the same time began preparing Blair with lube. When Jim was sure his guide was ready he removed his fingers and moved up to look into Blair's eyes. He didn't need to ask in words. Blair knew the question. He stroked Jim's face and looked into his eyes with so much love and warmth Jim felt his heart swell.

"Sentinel," Blair whispered, "claim your guide."

Jim moved into position and placed Blair's legs on his shoulders. He covered his cock with lube and gently entered his guide.

Blair lifted his hips and moaned as the large organ slowly traveled up his passage.

Jim pulled out and then entered again. Progress was slow and gentle and, oh so, very wonderful.

Jim shifted a bit to hit Blair's sweet spot and Blair's moans of pleasure increased and with them Jim's forward thrusts picked up speed until Sentinel and Guide found their release in each others arms.

Afterward, the fully bonded pair held each other, content in their afterglow. "Don't ever scare me like that again," Jim said, as he kissed Blair's forehead. "I don't think I would survive if anything happened to you."

Blair pressed himself even closer into Jim's body. "I love you too," he answered and it was true, he really did love his sentinel.


End

High Maintenance by JoanZ JemZ: joanz.jemz@gmail.com
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