Seven seconds, Blair said tightly.
An animal, Jim said. I can feel four legs and a tail. An animal crouching, lashing its tail, over a letter
Four seconds, Blair said, his voice distinctly unsteady now.
Hmmm. The animals darker than the letter, Jim said thoughtfully. Maybe
Times up, Blair said desperately, grabbing Jims wrist and yanking his hand out of Blairs pants by main force. Do you know what it is or not?
Jim opened his eyes, meeting Blairs gaze squarely, seeing what Blair couldnt quite manage to hide, wondering how hed never seen it before. He didnt have to fake the wonder in his voice.
Its a panther, he said. Over the letter J.
Blair went completely, absolutely still, the color draining from his face. Jim laid his hands on Blairs shoulders, just to hold him upright if necessary. Riiiiight.
Am I right? Jim murmured.
Blairs voice was the merest terrified croak.
Jim, man, please dont kill me, I was drunk and
Jim leaned closer.
Am I right?
Blair was trembling violently now.
Jim, I never I mean, I didnt want you to oh, shit.
Closer. Their faces were mere centimeters apart now, Blairs eyes so dilated they looked black, caught between fear and arousal.
Am I right? Jim asked again, very, very softly.
Blairs eyes closed, and his answer was a mere breath.
Jim smiled, unseen, and closed the distance between them. Blairs eyes shot open as Jims lips pressed against his and Jims arms enfolded him. For a moment the younger man stiffened, gasping; then a profound shudder passed through his body and he relaxed, leaning against Jims chest.
Jim kept the kiss soft, gentle, almost chaste, not wanting to frighten Blair with too much passion too soon, wanting Blair to know there was more than blind lust between them; he could feel in the surprised shift of Blairs muscles, the tentative response of Blairs lips, the very moment that his Guide got the message. Jim pulled back slightly, enough to gaze down into wide, wondering eyes.
Can I assume from all this, Jim said softly, that theres something youre having a hard time telling me?
Blair nodded silently.
Since Ive miraculously rendered you speechless, Jim said, probably for the first time since birth, can I play detective now, sum up the clues and tell you what I think?
Blair nodded again.
Since you had the picture of my spirit animal and my initial tattooed on your body, and since I definitely detected some participation in that kiss, and since I know thats not a gun in your pocket, Jim said, can I draw the conclusions that you: one, want me?
Another nod, accompanied by a deep blush.
And two Jim fought hard not to tremble. love me?
Jims knees threatened to give out in sheer relief. He forced himself to stay upright. Parts of him had no trouble with that directive.
Now, since you got that tattoo in a not-very-visible place, since you had to be falling-down drunk to do it, and since you went to a hell of a lot of trouble to hide it afterwards, Jim said slowly, not to mention the fact that youve never breathed a word to me, plus the Please dont kill me line, can I draw the conclusions that you were afraid to tell me because: one, you thought I might take the announcement badly?
Two, you didnt know I was bisexual?
Nod, accompanied by widening of the eyes.
Three, Jim said, very softly, you didnt have the faintest inkling that Ive been deeply in love with you for quite a while now, and deeply in lust with you for even longer?
Blair nodded silently, his eyes full.
Well, now we both know something we didnt know before, dont we? Jim whispered.
I know, he said, very slowly, that if you dont kiss me again, like, very soon, Im going to have to either faint or flee.
Jim closed the distance between their lips again, and this time Blairs mouth opened under his, and Jim wondered whether he might not be the one to faint under the taste of chicken satay, jasmine rice, iced tea, and above all, Blair. Then, on second thought, he realized he might just come instead.
He pulled back before either could occur.
Now you can faint if you have to, Jim said softly, stroking that beautiful crazy hair that was just as silky as hed always dreamed it would be. But no fleeing allowed.
Um, if Im going to faint, Blair murmured, couldnt I do it someplace more comfortable? Like He jerked his head at the bedroom. In there?
Jim shook his head regretfully, gesturing at the recording equipment.
I have to monitor those, he apologized.
Um we could turn them up loud? Blair suggested.
Jim was sorely tempted, but duty was duty.
He started to shake his head; then another thought occurred to him, and he walked over to the couch, pulling Blair with him. As hed hoped, the couch was a pullout. Blair caught on when Jim pulled the cushions off the couch, and joined in to help Jim pull out the bed and fetch in pillows from the bedroom.
Once the bed actually lay there before them, however, Blair stopped, gazing at Jim with marked anxiety. Jim stepped to his side, stroking Blairs hair again.
Uh-oh, hes gone speechless again, so I guess its not time to retire the detective yet, Jim said softly. Hmmm more deductions?
Blair shrugged sheepishly.
Okay. Jim thought. Now, Spokes is a gay bar, and as you said, its a great place for guys to go dancing, but its also a real pickup joint, so a guy dancing there is probably going to get groped a bit. But judging from the amount of booze you must have consumed, together with the fact that you didnt come home smelling like somebody else, you didnt do any dancing at all, which means you werent exactly comfortable with that kind of contact.
Blair looked down at the floor.
Youre too good at this, he muttered.
If I was that good, it wouldnt have taken us this long, he said practically. Chief, I guess Ill just flat out ask have you ever been with a man?
Blair swallowed heavily.
Uh kind of.
Kind of? Jim repeated. Is that something like a little bit pregnant?
Um Blair blushed deeply. Does it count if two twelve-year-old boys jerk each other off
You only get half a point for that, Jim chuckled.
but we get caught by his mother before we can finish? Blair finished sheepishly. Who then kicks me out of the house, literally?
Ouch, Jim said. Correction: You get two points, mostly out of sympathy. Okay, I get your kind of. Come here, Chief. He eased Blair down slowly to the bed.
Blair let Jim stretch him out like an offering on the lumpy mattress. The younger man gazed up at him so solemnly, Jim had absolutely no inclination to try for another witty comment.
I will never, Jim swore from the bottom of his soul, do anything to you, or with you, that you dont want.
Blair smiled tremulously.
Uh, Jim, that leaves an awful lot of open territory, he said softly. The only problem is, I could, like, seriously use a road map.
Well, right now were looking at a stop sign, Jim said gently.
Huh? Blair said, gazing at Jim blankly. But I thought
Ch- -- Blair, we are not going to have sex five minutes after our first kiss, Jim said patiently.
Were not? Blair repeated, looking comically surprised and disappointed.
No, were not, Jim said, chuckling. Blair, even if we wanted to
You dont? Blair said pointedly.
Okay, okay, Jim grinned. Even though we want to
First of all, were on duty, Jim reminded him. Which means that although theres nothing likely to come across on those monitors, we have to be ready to move if something does. As opposed to running across the street stark naked with erections a-bobbing to arrest Shelburn. Although he probably wouldnt resist arrest, because hed be too busy laughing himself to death.
Oh, Blair said disappointedly.
And second, Jim said patiently, I dont know how much you know about male-to-male sex
I have a pretty good theoretical knowledge, Blair said staunchly.
but certain aspects, at least, require condoms and
I have condoms in my backpack, Blair said cheerfully.
and lube, and, thank you very much, a little preparatory cleanup, Jim said sternly. And I dont happen to carry the requisite supplies around in my pockets on a daily basis. True, though hed briefly considered bringing some, just in case. That, however, would have certainly tipped Blair off that hed been well and thoroughly conned, and Jim didnt plan to confess his manipulations until they were a little more secure in this relationship, at which point hed come clean and take his lumps.
And even lacking all those obstacles, Jim said gently, I dont want our first time together to be a slapdash affair in a strange apartment while I keep one ear on those monitors and the other on the door in case one of our coworkers decides to show up.
Blair sighed dejectedly.
Well, when you put it that way He frowned. Then why did you pull the sofa out?
So we could cuddle. Jim pulled Blair close, nuzzling his neck. You dont like cuddling?
Cuddling? Blair groaned as Jims fingertips traced his nipples through his shirt. Cuddling you can do with your cat. Cant fool me, Jim, this is ohhhh, God, do that again definitely foreplay.
Well, heck, Jim chuckled, nibbling the sensitive skin just under Blairs ear. Learn something new every day.
Well, thats the point, Blair panted. I want to learn something new. But you keep saying no.
Blair, my beautiful, tasty, sexy, cuddly beloved, Jim breathed into Blairs ear, As I told you before
Jims cell phone rang, causing both of them to jump approximately eighteen inches above the surface of the bed.
this is a good time and place to get interrupted, Jim said wryly, reflexively straightening his clothes as he retrieved his phone. Ellison.
Dont growl at me, Ellison, Simon growled back. Im just calling to tell you you can pack it in. They picked up Shelburn at his girlfriends condo, just as we expected. We still want the phone tap, just in case any new dealers call in, but you can put it on recorder.
Jim turned the phone off, slightly dazed.
What? Blair asked. He was sitting up now, looking pensive.
That was Simon, Jim said. They picked up Shelburn at his girlfriends place. We can go home.
Blair grinned broadly.
Oh, man, this is, like, a sign from God, he said. Come on, Jim, lets see how many speed limits we can break.
No broken speed limits, Jim said sternly. And we have to stop at the drugstore, remember?
I told you, I have condoms, Blair offered.
Lube? Jim said pointedly.
You dont have any at home? Blair said, raising his eyebrows.
No, Jim said, rolling his eyes. Its been a while since Ive been with a man.
Oh. Blair blinked. Well uh yeah, I have lube, if you dont mind cherry flavored.
No thanks, Chief, Jim said, grimacing. That stuff smells like cough syrup.
And you would know because Blair began mischievously, then blushed and shook his head. Never mind. I do not want to go there. He hesitated. Um, Jim, are we uh definitely headed for something involving the need for lube?
Jim pulled him close and kissed him deeply.
Were definitely headed for whatever you want to do, no more, no less, Jim said firmly. But in sex, as in police work, be prepared is more than a motto, its a life choice. Which is, I assume, why you carry condoms in your backpack even to a stakeout with me.
Blair chuckled sheepishly.
I guess youve got me there, he said.
Although Jim was grateful to adjourn back to the loft early, he knew the interruption and delay while they drove back, while Jim dashed into and out of the drugstore, while they hauled their leftovers back up to the loft, would have certain negative effects such as time for erections to subside and for second thoughts to set in. Time for Blair to come down out of his euphoric headspin and realize that he was imminently headed for sex with another man. A glance at Blairs pensive expression told Jim he was right. Jims heart ached, but he forced himself to smile when Blair began uncomfortably, Uh Jim
No is always an option, Jim said gently. But before you say it, theres one thing I do insist on.
Mmm? Blair looked downright worried now.
I want to see that tattoo, Jim grinned. I won the bet, didnt I?
Oh. Blair blushed. Yeah, I guess you did. He made a vague gesture toward his bedroom. You want uh
If youre all right with that, Jim said softly. If youd rather, I can look right here in the kitchen.
No, its okay, he said with a rather forced smile. Jim followed him into the tiny bedroom. Blair flopped down on his bed on his stomach, and Jim sat down on the edge of the bed, touching the waistband of Blairs sweats.
May I? he asked softly.
Unless youve developed x-ray vision, Blair said wryly. Which wouldnt surprise me at this point. Here, wait a minute.
Blair raised his hips up slightly, and to Jims surprise pushed his sweats and boxers completely down over his hips. Jim sat frozen, almost unable to breathe, staring at the tight, beautifully rounded ass hed fantasized about for, years, so long.. He swallowed heavily, trying not to drool.
No, Jim. Down, boy. Blairs had second thoughts. This is just for the memory, something for those late-night one-handers.
Almost reluctantly Jim forced his eyes to the tattoo. It was as beautiful as the picture the artist had showed him more beautiful, of course, because it was drawn on such a gorgeous canvas. His initial, his spirit animal, his mark on Blair. Jim wanted to weep.
"Um, Jim?" Blair said softly. "I don't suppose you'd put some antibiotic lotion on it for me? Since you're right there and all?"
Jim fought to steady his voice.
"Sure. Where's the - Blair handed him a small bottle of the aloe-based first-aid gel he got from the health food store. "Right."
Jim squirted a little of the gel on his fingers. It was colored blue and smelled strongly of mint and felt a lot like lube. In fact it would probably be a pretty good
Away with that thought.
Jim let his fingers warm the gel slightly, just enough that it wouldnt be a tremendous shock on the irritated skin, and slowly stroked it over the tattoo and the skin around it. Blair let out a ragged sigh.
Oh, God, that feels so good, he murmured contentedly.
To you? If you had any idea how long and how many times Ive fantasized about touching this beautiful ass God, Blair, your skin is just as soft and firm as I knew it would be.
The inflamed skin was well coated with the gel; Jim was out of excuses to keep touching Blair. He fought down a spear of pain as he took his fingers away.
Want me to tape some gauze over that? he said neutrally.
Uh-uh. The air feels good on it. Blair had had his head pillowed on his crossed forearms; now he turned his head so he could gaze at Jim from behind the curtain of his hair. So did your fingers.
Jim wiped his hands on the bottom of his t-shirt and brushed the hair back out of Blairs eyes.
Chief, I can take a yes or a no, he said quietly. But Ive waited too long to play guessing games.
Im not playing, Blair said, almost in a whisper. Im scared. And confused. I do love you, Jim, and I do want you. I know that for sure. Im not saying later, Im not saying no, Im just saying slow.
Jim smiled as he felt his heart opening, opening like a flower that had closed up tight against an early killing frost.
Slow is good, he said simply. What did you have in mind?
Blair smiled shyly.
Well, since Im lying here with my pants halfway off, he said, maybe I could just kick them off He matched deed to words, and pull off my sweatshirt too. And then your hand felt so good touching me, Jim, that maybe maybe youd like to touch me some more?
Jim felt the joy swell up so big in his chest that for a moment he thought he might die of it.
As you would say, Chief, I think I could get with that, Jim said, his voice uneven. He reached down and helped Blair pull the sweatshirt over his head, and then the white t-shirt under it, peeling off the Blair layers one by one to reveal the treasure underneath. And then there he was, his beautiful Guide, compact and perfect, not heavily muscled like Jim but small and sturdy, not an inch of wasted space, just a masterpiece from head to toe.
Brushing Blairs hair aside, Jim laid both hands on Blairs shoulders and started massaging slowly, his thumbs creeping up to rub the back of Blairs neck to the base of his skull. Blair groaned happily.
Oh, God, thats good, he sighed.
Well, Im not in your league, he said. Ive always thought it was so magical, the way you could seem to rub a headache right out of me.
Yeah, but youve got, like, the perfect hands, Blair murmured contentedly. Nice and strong, those long fingers, and yet so sensitive its like youre reading instructions right off my nerve endings, just how hard to press and where. Ooooohhh, man, Ill give you, like, sixty years to cut that out.
Only sixty? Jim teased gently.
Well, thatll put you pretty damned close to the century mark, Blair chuckled. At which point youll need somebody to help you up onto the bed with me, and then Ill probably kick you out because your Depends is leaking.
Youd kick your poor, crippled, incontinent mate out of bed? Jim protested, inwardly delighted to hear Blair talking, even jokingly, about an extended future together.
Nah, Blair said cheerfully. Id clean you up and put you back to bed myself. But Id put a rubber sheet down first, and you sleep in your wet spot, Ill sleep in mine.
I suppose thats fair enough, Jim agreed. But unless we have a substantially wider bed than this, the points kind of moot.
You got me there, Blair chuckled. I guess well have to use your bed.
You in my bed, Jim said softly. The stuff fantasies are made of.
Well, I have to say, I havent often pictured you in mine, Blair admitted. Even in fantasies, I knew youd never fit on this little cot.
Jim bent down and kissed the back of Blairs neck.
Chief, for you Id sleep on a footstool.
Oh, man, that turns me on, he whispered.
What, this? Jim murmured, nibbling at the back of Blairs neck again. Or this? He slid his hands slowly over Blairs buttocks again, carefully skirting the tattoo.
Yes, Blair said. He glanced at Jim again. So uh you want to move this upstairs?
That depends, Jim said softly, his heart pounding. Are you going to let me see the other side of Blair Sandburg?
Blair blinked for a moment, then grinned sheepishly, rolling over, and Jim closed his eyes briefly, dazzled.
He wanted to shower kisses over every inch of that beautiful, strong, compact body. He wanted to spend hours running his fingers through the curling hair that covered Blairs chest, belly and groin. He wanted to nibble one nipple, then the other to see if the one with the ring through it was more sensitive. He wanted to kiss his way up those legs from toes to hips, bite the creamy skin inside Blairs thighs hard enough to leave bruises. He wanted to build a shrine to that beautiful erection, just on the high side of average in length, but oh, God, so beautifully thick and hard and dusky with passion. Jims mouth was watering, and he knew he had to have Blair this way first. Hed heard his Guide, seen him, touched him, smelled him for years, but now finally, finally he had the chance to taste him, to complete the indelible imprinting of Jims Guide upon his body, heart and soul.
Blair glanced at Jims face and froze, his eyes dilating darkly in desire.
Oh, man, he whispered. You should see your face. Ive never had anybody look at me that way in my life.
Like what? Jim asked distractedly, still busy feasting his eyes on Blair.
Like like youre a starving panther and Im the juiciest filet mignon on the planet.
I am, Jim said softly. And you are.
Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man, Blair moaned. His erection jumped violently. Are you just going to look, Jim? Because Im, like, dying here, and you have me seriously at a disadvantage. He plucked at the bottom of Jims t-shirt.
Dont worry about me, Jim said softly. Not right now. Right now He moved over Blairs body, straddling him on his hands and knees, gazing directly down into Blairs eyes. Right now I want to taste you. I want to fill my senses with you. And then after I suck you dry, whatever you want, anything you want, just tell me and its yours. If thats not too fast for you.
Oh, man, Blair breathed. Talk about an offer I cant refuse.
Oh, you can refuse, Jim said, lowering his head so that Blairs breath fanned his face. You can always refuse. But you dont want to refuse, because then youd never know
He nibbled his way up the side of Blairs neck.
How hot and wet my mouth would feel against your skin, he murmured. Youd never know how it felt to be savored, inch by inch, by a Sentinel with taste buds so sensitive that I can tell the difference between your skin oil here
He licked the hollow of Blairs collarbone.
He darted down and sucked briefly on the point of Blairs hipbone.
Youd never know whether Id suckle ever so gently at your nipple
He licked his way softly around Blairs ringed left nipple, then sealed his lips around it, sucking it into a hard little bud.
Or whether I nip.
He gave Blairs right nipple the gentlest of nips; then, when Blair groaned approvingly, a slightly harder one, just to the very edge of pain, and Blair cried out, his fingers digging into Jims shoulders.
Jim realized that Blair was reaching a peak more pain than pleasure, that perhaps his younger and more eager libido simply couldnt take the sustained plateau of prolonged arousal as well as Jim. Not that Jims jeans were anything but tight, confining agony at the moment, but that was unimportant. This was for Blair. His Blair. Better for Blair if Jim concentrated on his pleasure. Safer for Blair if Jim didnt unleash his own passions. Jim slid down Blairs body, spreading his thighs wide.
Youd never know, Jim said wickedly, whether Id lick my way up the bottom of your cock, all the way up from the root to the tip
He licked slowly, drunk on the taste of Blair, the essence of smeared pre-come, reeling from the hot pulse of Blairs blood just beneath the skin. Daringly he traced the very tip of his tongue over the leaking head, taking in the potent elixir of Blairs pleasure, and for a moment he had to pause, to get himself under control again.
Or whether Id just take you in in one huge gulp.
Jim took a deep breath and opened himself, took in Blairs beautiful hard cock, tip to root, in one glorious stroke. Blair cried out something unintelligible and came up off the bed, his entire body shaking on the edge of climax, but just before he could come, Jim retreated, leaving Blair moaning and writhing under him.
And most of all, Jim whispered, youd never know if I swallow.
Jesus Christ Jim will you please shut the fuck up and suck me! Blair howled, grabbing Jims head and yanking it down by main force.
Jim smiled, opened his mouth, and obeyed.
Blair was way beyond aroused now, he was well on the road to insanity, and it took only a few strokes up and down his cock, a few squeezes of Jims throat muscles before he screamed and came, almost hard enough to pass out. Jim held Blairs hips still and nursed his deflating cock through the final spasms as it softened, then kissed his way slowly back up Blairs body. He paused only briefly to savor (I may never see this again) the vision of a beautifully sweaty, semiconscious and sated Blair Sandburg.
I love you, he whispered, and pulled Blair close, squeezing him hard. Jeez, what a guy has to go through to get a look at a lousy tattoo.
Blair laughed, a little breathlessly, his eyes only half-open and still glazed with pleasure.
Man, he whispered. Oh, man. Thank you, Jim.
Jim raised his eyebrows.
For saying that just that way. Blair pushed back a little so he could turn his head up and meet Jims eyes. He grinned shyly. You know, when Id think about us? I could picture in my mind something happening to, you know, get us to the bed. And I could picture us in the bed. Kind of, I mean, because like I said, my knowledge was only theoretical, and I never actually got a good look at you completely naked, much less excited or anything. Well, I havent seen you naked yet, have I? he added a little surprisedly.
Your point? Jim said, chuckling.
Sorry, man, Blair said with a distinct lack of contrition. Anyway, like I said, I could imagine us getting to bed, I could imagine us in bed, but then my mind would always kind of shy away from afterwards. I mean, I couldnt picture James Ellison getting all goo-goo sentimental, and I couldnt picture well, no, I didnt want to picture you just giving me a slap on the ass and booming, Hey, Chief, thanks, great fuck, you know. So I just couldnt imagine the afterward. And that kind of, I dont know, spoiled the whole fantasy, see? I couldnt imagine what you could, or would, possibly say or do that would make it right.
Hey, Chief, thanks, great fuck? Jim felt vaguely no, more than vaguely hurt.
Blair immediately saw or sensed the hurt and snuggled a little closer in Jims arms.
I didnt mean the Thanks, Chief comment, he whispered. Im just nervous, you know?
Jim felt better.
I know, he said softly. So where is this all leading?
Well Blair blushed. When you said you loved me, I mean, it still seems strange hearing you say that kind of thing. But then you gave me that big hug, and then the joke I mean, it was perfect. It was the way, you know, the way I could never think of. The afterward that made it all right. Does that make any sense, or am I a total babbling moron here?
Yes, he said.
Blair chuckled too.
GO TO PART 3