Turn around and smell what you don’t see

    Close your eyes, it’s so clear

    Here’s the mirror, behind there is a screen

    On both ways you can get in

    Don’t think twice before you listen to your heart

    Follow the trace for a new start

    What you need and everything you’ll feel

    Is just a question of the deal

    In the eye of storm you’ll see a lonely dove

    The experience of survival is the key

    To the gravity of love

    Try to think about it

    That’s the chance to live your life and discover

    What it is, what’s the gravity of love

    Look around just people, can you hear their voice

    Find the one who’ll guide you to the limits of your choice

    But if you’re in the eye of storm

    Just think of the lonely dove

    The experience of survival is the key

    To the gravity of love.

    The Gravity of Love

    The Screen Behind the Mirror, Enigma, 2000

    There’s probably no more annoying sensation in the universe than cold, wet jeans chafing the insides of your thighs. It’s the adult version of diaper rash. It’s more annoying than the rest of your cold, wet clothes, if you should happen in fact to be walking around sopping wet in downtown Cascade, Washington in mid-November. It’s more annoying than an aching head where a drunken asshole got in a lucky punch, the banged and swelling knee that hit the rim of the fountain as you fell in (the fountain, in fact, where you got your clothes wet in the first place – and what the hell is a fountain doing running in the middle of November anyway?) with the drunken asshole on top of you, the aching chest where you sucked in water when the 350-pound drunken asshole on top of you smashed you into the bottom of the fountain, the sore ribs that from said smashing, or the wrenched back that occurred when you tried to heave said drunken asshole off you before you drowned in the damned fountain. Of course, you wouldn’t end up in this ridiculous situation. This is definitely a Jim Ellison Special Evening.

    The cold, wet abrasion against some of my most sensitive skin is annoying enough during the distractions of cuffing the drunken assholes at the auto show who started this fracas in the first place, or while giving a quick report to the uniforms who thank God take over for me so I don’t have to slog down to the station in my fucking soaking wet clothes, or convincing the paramedics that despite the fact that I coughed up about two gallons of water I don’t need to go to the hospital. That’s about the time I realize that just about any type of clothing in the world is more comfortable when wet than blue jeans. I wouldn’t need Sentinel sensitivity to realize by this time that I’m quickly being sanded raw by what was, only an hour before, nice soft worn cotton. Even when I stand perfectly still, it still somehow manages to chafe. Not to mention that my back and my ribs and my knee are starting to fucking hurt, my soggy boxers are going right up the crack of my ass, what used to be nice leather shoes and an even nicer leather jacket are squelching and probably ruined, and of course the rest of the auto show that I’ve looked forward to for a couple months is a wash (no pun intended), all because three good ol’ boys who had more beer than they have brain cells had to work out their disagreements on the best off-road vehicle with their fists, right there in the plaza in front of the convention center (next to the fountain, of course) and of course being a cop I couldn’t just stand by and wait for security to break it up.

    So now I walk back with Taggert to his car, cursing under my wheezy, waterlogged breath the whole way. I’m fucking cold, I’m wet, I hurt everywhere now, I’m still coughing up a little water, and the wet jeans are driving me right out of my fucking mind, and of course my head’s joined in with a pounding headache just to cast its vote with the rest of my body. Of course I have no intention of going to the hospital. I mean, a wrenched back is a wrenched back, believe me, I know the feeling. Not much point in going downtown for an M.D. to tell me what I already know. Besides, a trip to the hospital means I’d have to wear those fucking wet jeans a lot longer, and right now the only thing on my mind is getting those things off while I still have some skin left between my legs.

    Okay, and waiting until Taggert can’t see me to pull my boxers out of the crack of my ass, that too.

    Taggert’s been nice about it. He belatedly helped break up the fight – he was a hell of a long way off when it started – he found some newspaper for me to put on his car seat and he cranks the heat way, way up, but of course it doesn’t make a dent in the chill that’s seeped way in to my bones and my balls have crawled inside all the way up to my chin, and the engine-chemical odor blowing out of Taggert’s heater is making my headache worse. Sandburg would be lecturing me right now on the idiocy of charging alone into a fight between three drunken idiots with more brawn than brain. I’ll probably get the lecture anyway, when I get home. I don’t care. I can get these damned jeans off, and no matter how pissed Blair is, he’ll still brew me a cup of hot tea, fetch me a dry robe and probably make me chicken soup. While he lectures, of course.

    "You sure you’re okay, Jim?" Taggert asks as we pull up in front of the building, raising his eyebrows as I painfully pull myself out of the car. "You don’t look so good. You took on a lot of water, and Simon’s gonna yell at us both for bucking the paramedics."

    "I’ll talk to Simon, and it’s my fault," I tell Taggert. "Right now I just want to get warm and dry. Listen, I’m sorry about the show."

    "That’s okay," Taggert says, giving me one of those crazy little-boy smiles he has. "We’ll catch the next one."

    "You got it."

    But right now I don’t care about the next auto show. I squelch up the stairs to the third floor, my knee hurting like hell. Now my other leg has joined in the pain chorus, aching fiercely where Zoeller shot me only a few months ago. No surprise there. That damned leg hates the cold and the wet worse than Blair does. I ache, I’m freezing, I’m so tired I can barely move, and these jeans are torture. I fumble out my keys with basically numb fingers; it takes three tries to unlock the door. I open it and –

    Oh, shit.

    Oh, fucking shit.

    About a week ago, when Blair came home from a Tibetan art exhibit I ambushed him with this little erotic diversion. We both loved the hell out of it, and he asked me about tonight’s auto show and told me that payback was a bitch.

    Blair has obviously been arranging payback.

    The loft is dim but not dark, no, boy. There’s a nice fire going in the fireplace and a blanket and a few cozy cushions laid out in front of it. The stereo is playing something low and throbbing. There are candles burning everywhere, that cinnamon-and-wood scent that drives me absolutely crazy, so of course Blair bought soap and body oil and shampoo and hell, probably laundry detergent in that same scent just for evenings like this. There’s a bottle of wine breathing on the table.

    Oh, shit. My heart falls into my squelchy shoes. Blair has planned a special evening and I have never felt less like sex in my entire life.

    Before I can wallow in guilt, self-pity or physical misery another second, Blair comes out of the bathroom. He’s wearing that silk bathrobe that usually drives me nuts, and, if my perception’s correct – yep, there gapes the robe, right on schedule – nothing underneath. But he’s got my bathrobe in his hands, another towel draped over his arm, a semi-worried look on his face, and no surprise whatsoever at seeing his Sentinel dripping on the doormat.

    "Joel called you," I say, my heart sinking. No way I can even fake the ‘hey, I’m okay, let’s not ruin your evening’ thing. Not that Jim Junior would be up to much of an act anyway.

    Blair nods.

    "While you were talking to the paramedics," he says. Amazing, there isn’t the slightest hint of reproach in his voice. Maybe I’m not in for a lecture after all. Okay, I’m deluding myself, but a man can dream. "Are you okay? Joel said you got kind of knocked around and that you breathed in some water."

    "Yeah, yeah, I’m fine," I grumble as I start pulling off wet clothes, wishing Taggert could keep his big mouth shut just once in a while. "Mostly just soggy."

    "Yeah, and I can see from the way you’re standing that your back hurts and your leg hurts, you only squinch your face up like that when you’ve got a bad headache, and your other knee’s swelling up too," Blair says, moving to help with my clothes, and this time he is scolding, no doubt about it. "Strip off, I’ve got a hot bath ready for you and there’s tea on the stove. I’ll bring you some while you soak."

    It’s at moments like this that I remember just how much I love this man.

    Within two minutes Blair has me naked and installed in a steaming hot tub of water scented with one of those odd-smelling herbal mixes he claims helps sore muscles, and a cup of hot tea in my hand that does miracles for my breathing. This means I can’t wash myself, but that doesn’t bother Blair; he’s apparently fully intent on doing that for me. He’s stripped off the robe; under other circumstances I’d find the sight irresistible.

    "Oh, man, you should see your eye," Blair says ruefully. "We’re talking definite rainbow colors here. Want the frozen peas?"

    I sink a little deeper into the water.

    "Nah, I’m just starting to get warm."

    "That knee’s swelling up already. It’s going to hurt like hell tomorrow."

    "It hurts like hell now." I sigh. "Blair, I’m sorry."

    Blair blinks; the bathroom, like the rest of the loft, is only lit by candlelight, but I can see just fine, of course.

    "Sorry? What for?"

    I shrug.

    "You know. For getting involved in that fight instead of leaving it to security."

    Blair bends down and kisses my cheek, the unbruised part. He’s still washing me, very slowly. It feels wonderful.

    "It’s okay, Jim," he says softly. "You did your job, you got banged up. Can’t be helped. As soon as you thaw out a little, you can finish warming up in front of the fire where I can get a good look at you, and then I’ll see if a rubdown won’t help with all that soreness."

    He’s being too nice. I don’t believe it for a minute because I can tell he’s upset. Is this a new Sandburg Manipulation by Guilt technique?

    "Yeah, but – " I sip my tea. "I spoiled your evening."

    "You didn’t spoil it." Blair rinses the last of the chemical-scented fountain water out of my hair with a careful squeeze from the sponge. "You’re home, you’re safe, you’re here with me. That’s what matters."

    There’s a tone in his voice I don’t like. This isn’t a new manipulation technique. Something’s wrong. I put my cup down and touch his face, turning him toward me.

    "Blair. What’s the matter?"

    Blair shakes his head impatiently, although he doesn’t pull away from my touch.

    "I just don’t – " He shrugs like he’s embarrassed. "I don’t like to think of you, you know, landing in a fountain."

    Fountain? Then I realize. Fountain. I pull Blair’s face to me and kiss him hard; after a moment he responds.

    "Chief, I’m fine," I tell him firmly. "Okay, the jerk that fell into the fountain after me knocked the wind out of me a little, but Taggert had him up off me in a minute. There was never any chance that I’d drown."

    "I didn’t say it was rational, okay?" Blair says, a little impatiently. "I know it isn’t rational. It’s stupid, okay?"

    "It’s not stupid," I tell him quietly. I move the teacup out of the way, and in a surprise move I grab Blair and pull him into the bath with me. Blair yelps, and I stifle a groan because I just twisted my back again, but there are many more important things in this world than my pain, and Blair’s all of them. I pull Blair close, and he gives in and lets himself be cuddled.

    "It’s not stupid," I say again, frustrated. I want to tell him I love him. I do love him, and I wish so much that I could say it.

    "It’s okay, Jim," Blair says softly, holding me close. "It’s okay, we’re okay."

    He helps me out of the tub, towels me off and gives me a shoulder over to the blanket in front of the fire (necessary; the knee’s really stiffening up now), and I know he’s in a hurry to have a look at me, assure himself firsthand that I’m all right. I let him. I love taking care of Blair, but there’s something wonderful, too, in letting him take care of me. It’s certainly a novelty. Nobody ever took care of me before Blair.

    He goes over me an inch at a time, clucking at the bump on my head, my cheek, my ribs. My knee’s swollen up like a cantaloupe by now and the other leg’s cramped, although some of the soreness eased up a little during the soak.

    "Oh, man, your poor legs," Blair says softly, pushing my thighs apart. I start to protest that now’s not the time, but my protest turns into a hiss of pain as his fingertips brush over my inner thighs. "Man, you’re chafed raw."

    "Damned wet jeans," I grumble.

    "I’ve got some lotion that’ll take care of that." He’s only gone a moment. The lotion stings a little at first, but it’s soothing and I sigh with relief. I lie back and close my eyes, so good to let my Guide take care of me, so right.

    His hands are bath-warm, fire-warm, slick with oil and full of magic, and the pain in my back and ribs and legs doesn’t stand a chance against them. Within five minutes I’m a purring puddle on the floor, my headache gone. Within ten minutes my back is utterly happy, the ache from my gunshot wound is gone, and the pain in my swollen knee has faded down to a dull throb. The power of Blair’s love is incredible, beyond anything modern medicine can dream of. I heal from the soul out.

    He talks to me while he rubs all the pain and cold and anger out of me. Talks about nothing in particular – a National Geo special he watched while I was at the auto show, a book he’s reading, a recipe for eggplant lasagna he’d like to try, things I can just tune out. I let his words wash over me. They warm me like the fire. I don’t really need to listen to what he’s saying. I can just lie here and enjoy my Guide’s voice, let it soothe me like the touch of his hands.

    I want to tell him I love him. I want it so much. Why can’t I? I don’t know. The words won’t come. I can hear them in my head, feel them in my mouth, but there they stick, never make it past the lips. Carolyn told me she loved me. She told me we were forever. Both were lies, despicable lies. She loved me until she realized that she couldn’t mold the man she’d married into the man she wanted. I’m sure that came as quite a surprise to her.

    So much for forever.

    Blair doesn’t try to change me. Oh, he gripes that I’m anal, that I’m compulsively neat, that I’m a control freak. I gripe when he leaves the tub drain clogged with hair and doesn’t rinse his dishes. But if I’m still picking big wads of hair out of the drain thirty years from now I’ll still love him just as much, and I know he feels the same. So why won’t those words come out of my mouth? I don’t know. Because I’m afraid, I guess. Because somehow saying it will break the spell.

    And speaking of spells, Blair’s worked his magic on me again. Those hands should be registered as lethal weapons. When I came home I was hurting everywhere, cold and tired and pissed off and good for nothing but a hot drink and bed – sleep, I mean. Now I’m relaxed and comfortable and content, and damned if I’m not hard as a rock too.

    And I love him so damned much.

    I roll over and take him in my arms and he comes down to me without hesitation, draping himself over my chest and snuggling close. He’s clever; it’s a few minutes before I notice he’s arranged himself so his weight isn’t on my ribs. His hair smells of wood and cinnamon and for some reason I think of the first time we made love, in my brother’s mountain cabin. I couldn’t tell him I loved him then, either, but I let him into my body and he seemed to understand what that meant to me, to both of us.

    I didn’t let him into my heart that day. That happened a long time ago.

    He’s a warm, cuddly armful. There’s something reassuring about loving a man, and that really surprises me. I thought it would be harder to get used to. But to someone like me, who’s always worked in a rough and violent profession, who’s trained body and skills to become the best weapon possible, the solidity, the strength of Blair is such a relief. Okay, okay, I know women aren’t weak, and I’ve known some who could probably beat the shit out of me in hand-to-hand (as opposed to Carolyn, who settled for opening arteries at a distance with the edge of her tongue). But all the women I ever had sex with felt soft, rounded, so sensitive in so many places. They felt easy to hurt. I had to be so careful, so gentle with them.

    The funny thing is that between Blair and me, I’m the one who usually needs it gentle because of the Sentinel thing. Blair can take it as rough as I’d ever want to give it. Not that we don’t both love hours of slow, tender loving or whisper-soft teasing touches. But when Blair’s inside me, or blowing me, or stroking me, he always has to start of very gently, very carefully until my control of my senses catches up with the pleasure before we move on to something more energetic, or I overload. It feels so strange, not being the one who has to be careful, to hold back.

    I love every minute of it.

    He’s touching me now, fingers softly exploring my erection, gauging by its hardness whether it’s just a reflexive response to the massage or whether I really mean it. I really mean it, and he can tell, because his touch goes from exploring to caressing.

    "You sure you’re up to anything, big guy?" he murmurs against my lips, his eyes blazing blue into mine. "I mean, if you just want to go to bed, I can take care of you, you know."

    That’s a very generous offer (especially considering Blair’s erection that’s about to drill a hole in my hip), but tired as I am, I am just feeling too lustful, too much in love, too connected to sleep. Did I say "connected"? I’m not nearly as connected as I want to be right now.

    "I want to make love with you," I whisper, burying my fingers in his curls, holding his head still so I can nip at his lips. "I need to make love with you."

    Blair lets me feast on his mouth for a moment, then pulls back slightly. His eyes flicker over me and I can see him doing a three-way cross-reference between my injured body parts, mutually satisfying sexual acts, and the positions in which those acts can be achieved. In our line of work, we’re used to this calculation – hell, Blair even has a name for it. He calls it the "Injured Lover Sex Matrix." There’s a separate calculation, more complicated, for those occasions when both of us are injured. I always let him work these things out. Considering just how creative our love life can get, especially if you factor in locations and accessories and who’s on top, we’re edging into calculus and maybe quantum physics. I’m just a cop.

    A really horny cop.

    I can see the minute changes in Blair’s expression, little flickers of his muscles, as he computes, but his eyes never lose that loving glow. Then he grins, and I know he’s figured something out. Just for fun, I decide to throw a monkey wrench into the gears.

    "I haven’t had you inside me in a long time," I whisper suggestively.

    Blair’s brow furrows briefly, but I haven’t stumped him, because his expression clears again immediately. He kisses me so deeply and so long that we both end up wheezing for breath, then jumps up and runs up the stairs to the bedroom. He’s back almost immediately carrying one of our dildos, approximately Blair-sized.

    Now I’m really intrigued.

    Not to mention really horny.

    I figure we’re going to move on to the serious action now, but oh, no, I forgot one stage of this ritual, one of my favorite parts. It’s called "kiss it and make it better."

    Blair’s lips feel as wonderful as his hands. There’s so much love in his touch. He kisses the bump on my head, little butterfly touch of his lips, all across my forehead. His tongue brushes over my eyelids so softly, all around the swelling bruise on my cheek. He pauses for a short stopover at my mouth, and the taste of him would knock me off my feet if I weren’t already flat on my back. God, those lips. Blair doesn’t need his gun. Between those hands, those lips, that voice, and my God, those eyes, nobody has a chance. Blair Sandburg is a force of nature, like gravity. You can fight it all you want, but sooner or later the very cells of your body are bound to give in. It’s a hopeless struggle. I held out for more than three years, which has got to be some kind of a record. Believe me, that’s not bragging. Holding out against this is nothing to brag about.

    I close my eyes and give in to gravity, just want to feel him. His breath fans warm and moist over my skin like the softest possible caress. It sweeps down over my chest in a warm wave; then those lips dance over my sore ribs, soft gentle wet kisses that my skin will won’t forget anytime soon. A week from now I’ll be sitting at my desk at the station filling out some boring paperwork and I’ll remember that warm sucking kiss just there, halfway down my ribcage on the left, nowhere near my nipple but that doesn’t matter because the fallout from that kiss brings every erectable part of my body to rigid attention. And I’ll sit there shivering at my desk, hands sweating, taking big deep breaths and praying I won’t have to stand up anytime soon. And Blair will look up from his desk right across from me, and there’ll be understanding and amusement in those eyes, and thank God he won’t ask what’s wrong. He’ll just go get me a nice cold coke, and when he puts it down on the desk in front of me, he’ll pat me on the shoulder, lean slightly over me under pretext of looking at my paperwork, and he’ll breathe right in my ear, damn him and that voice, "Thinking of me, big guy?"

    As if I could ever manage not to think of him.

    He’s finished with my ribs now and moved down. His lips barely brush my belly on their way down, and I hold my breath, but damn that tease, he bypasses my leaking cock altogether, and the next time I feel those lips are on my swollen knee. The skin is hot and tight, but his lips are even hotter. Would you believe an aching swollen knee can become an erogenous zone? Yeah, it floors me too.

    Then his mouth moves to my other leg, softly kissing the scar where Zoeller’s bullet dug into the muscle. The leg’s not hurting now, that incredible massage took care of it, but I don’t see any need to stop what Blair’s doing by telling him that. He kisses the scar almost worshipfully, and I know he’s thinking about me protecting him, pushing him down and out of the way of Zoeller’s bullets, covering his body with my own. Little did I know at the time just how much fun covering Blair’s body with mine can be. Or vice versa, come to that. And I hope we come to that pretty damn soon.

    Or at least come somehow or another.

    But hey-ey, I’ve forgotten another injury. Thank God Blair didn’t forget. He presses my legs apart – no resistance from me whatsoever, I spread wide for him. And the next thing I know his head’s down there, hair brushing me in all the best places as his lips soothe the chafed skin inside my thighs, high up, almost to my groin, but damn him he still doesn’t so much as breathe on my cock and balls, and right now they’re aching worse than any other part of my body. That should count for something, shouldn’t it?

    Is it absolutely unbelievable that right now I’m actually wishing the 350-pound drunken asshole had kneed me in the groin?

    Finally I can’t take any more of Blair’s teasing and I unsubtly push my hips up, basically shoving my leaking cock right into his face. That’s a punishment in and of itself; my back’s extremely unhappy with the maneuver and tells me so, but worse, Blair pulls his face out from between my legs and scurries back up, giving me an apologetic kiss.

    "Shhh, easy, love," he says soothingly, and damned if it doesn’t work. I’m soothed. "Easy, Jim, not so fast, love. I want to make this really special. I’m going to take you to a place you’ve never been before. Just relax, I’m going to make it so good for you, I promise."

    He’s kissing me again, slow hot wet lazy kisses, and I let him take it at his pace. I know this much about my Guide and his sexual repertoire: Whatever he’s got in mind, it’s gonna be mind-blowing.

    He kisses his way down my throat, soft worshipful kisses, down my chest to my nipples, and I rest my hands lightly on his shoulders, not pushing, letting him know he’s in control. You’d think that would be hard for me, but it’s not. It’s never hard to trust Blair. It’s the same trust that lets me focus on his voice or his heartbeat when the world around me is going into chaos. It’s the same trust that lets him bring me out of a zoneout or guard my back.

    Trusting him with my body is easy, so easy. I wish I could say the words, tell him that I trust him with my heart too. I hope he knows.

    He’s kissing my nipples, soft silly kisses, not nipping or even licking yet – like I said, he always starts out slow with me, even slower than he needs to, but I’m not complaining – yet. He’s fumbling with something I can’t see down by my legs; then his head pops up and he barely touches my swollen knee.

    "I’m going to raise this up just a little, Jim," he murmurs. "Just let me do all the work."

    He slides a pillow under my knee so smoothly that I don’t feel so much as a twinge; my knee’s more comfortable flexed slightly. Then he pushes my other knee up and I get the idea. I bend my knee, foot flat on the floor, and spread wide for him, showing him my eagerness. Blair chuckles, says nothing, and gets back to my nipples, probably just to spite me. Little tease.

    In under a minute those magic lips and tongue have my nipples happier than they’ve ever been (Okay, at least since the last time we made love) and he’s got me moaning and kneading his shoulders restlessly. I’d be squirming around, too, despite all the sore places, but Blair quickly lays down the law – every time I start to move, he stops what he’s doing. I get the idea right away. Sadistic little tease. He’s fumbling around with something again, and I’m as surprised as I am relieved when lubed fingers start exploring my ass. I mean, I’m grateful for the attention, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t Jim Junior get at least a quick grope or something? Usually when Blair fucks me I’m in for no end of what he calls foreplay and I call torture from that mouth, and every millimeter between my belly button and the small of my back gets its fill of licking, sucking and probing from that agile tongue.

    Today, though, Blair appears to be going straight for the main event. He’s opening me ever so gently, stretching me slowly, patiently – but hey, my prostate isn’t getting even a "Hi there, how ya doing"! I know this guy, he’s the fucking wizard of foreplay and usually I’m lucky to get off (!) with only a half hour or so of appetizers before the main course, and there is definitely something strange going on here.

    Hesitantly I stroke Blair’s hair.

    "Uh, babe – "

    Blair raises his head slightly, his smiling lips and my nipple wet with his saliva.

    "’s okay, big guy," he murmurs. "I just don’t want you getting too hot too fast. Tonight’s gonna be long and slow and beautiful."

    I shiver at his words. Long and slow. Blair’s the master of long and slow. I love it, no doubt about that, but I’m more the ‘hard and furious’ type. I’m in trouble now.

    Don’t rescue me.

    Blair’s working three fingers in me now, slow and languid, and he draws them out and reaches for the lube again. To my surprise, though, he’s slicking up the dildo instead of his cock.

    Oh boy. This is definitely getting interesting.

    Blair almost never takes me from behind, says he couldn’t tell if I started to zone. He’s always so careful entering me, watching my eyes as he slides the dildo ever so slowly in, looking for the faintest sign that something’s not right, too big, too hard, too fast, wrong angle, you name it. He calls me his Blessed Protector but at this moment I’m the one who feels protected, cared for, cherished. I won’t say it’s the best feeling in the world, not with a springy silicon dildo sliding into me instead of Blair’s cock (Blair refuses to use a hard plastic anything on me ever since I told him I could feel the seam where the two halves were joined, no matter how carefully he polished it down), but it’s definitely in the top three. Then it’s in all the way, filling me, nice enough although it doesn’t have the warmth of Blair’s cock, the pulse of his heartbeat, but he’s got something in mind and I’m willing to bet I won’t be disappointed.

    Then Blair’s sliding our big wedge pillow behind me, helping me lift myself up. Now I’m comfortably halfway between lying flat and sitting upright and my butt pressing against the floor holds the dildo inside me, and Blair’s stroking lube over my cock, and my God, I’m starting to get the idea and Jim Junior likes it just fine, thank you very much.

    "Want to get me ready, lover?" Blair purrs, giving me a sultry smile, eyes half closed. He throws his leg over me, straddling me, facing away from me, and suddenly I’m confronted by the most perfect ass in the universe.

    Is this a trick question? I grab the lube.

    Blair’s hot and tight and silky inside, his sweat has taken on the pungent musk of arousal, and I can feel his rapid heartbeat. He pushes back against my finger, urging me to give him more, and I give him more. Unlike him, I’m not in the least afraid to push the envelope a little bit, and Blair moans in surprise when I massage his prostate, pitching forward slightly. He steadies himself on my upraised knee, and for a second he almost grabs the sore one, which would be painful but worth it. But he pulls himself together all too soon, pushing himself up and off my fingers and turning around, giving me a chiding look that isn’t altogether convincing in view of his leaking erection.

    "I said slow, Jim," Blair rebukes me. "I’m not going to let you push me into rushing."

    I smile and nod and try to look innocent, but the expression probably comes off as a lustful leer. Blair leans down for another long, slow kiss, forgiving me for breaking the mood he wanted to create, and God, he’s doing it again, calming and exciting me at the same time until I want nothing more than to just give in to whatever he wants. You can fight gravity, but you can’t win.

    He straddles me again, this time facing me, and we both moan at the first touch of my needy cock against that hot, slick little pucker as he lowers himself. This position is just a little awkward at first, and it’s a cooperative effort; he holds himself open, I guide for once, and there’s the briefest resistance from his sphincter muscle before oh, God I’m sliding into the hottest, tightest, silkiest passage Jim Junior could ever have the pleasure to call home.

    Blair lowers himself so slowly, a hair’s breadth at a time, his hands on my shoulders to steady himself, and my hands are shaking on his hips. We stare into each other’s eyes as he s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y takes me in; maybe, I don’t know, maybe he’s making sure I don’t zone out, but I don’t have that excuse. I’m just greedy for the love and glazed pleasure in his eyes. That expression, the faint trembling in his moist lips, is almost as good as the slick heat slowly enveloping my cock. It seems like forever before he settles in my lap, and for a moment we’re both still, just breathing, listening to the frantic hammering of our own hearts and, in my case, his.

    He rocks on me just a little, and suddenly I realize his strategy. Half propped up and with my knees bent, I don’t have any leverage to thrust upward; he’s got to do all the moving for both of us. And every time he pushes down against me, the dildo inside me pushes inward too, so while I’m fucking him, he’s fucking me. And I’m sitting up enough that my hands have easy access to his body, and he can easily lean over to kiss me – God, this man is an evil genius when it comes to sex.

    And yet I say ‘fucking’ and ‘sex’ only as general terms, because there’s no fucking and no sex going on here.

    This is making love, not a doubt about it.

    Having nicely illustrated the points of this whole exercise, Blair is still for a moment longer, watching me carefully, letting both of us get our feet under us (so to speak). I give him a little smile and a nod to let him know I’ve got all my senses under control, and the smile he gives back is so open and beautiful that it melts my heart into a big happy puddle.

    Then he’s moving, slow and easy as breathing, not just rocking on me but raising up and slowly pushing back down again, so slowly, his eyes still gazing directly into mine. There’s such intensity in those beautiful blue eyes, such focus. It’s incredible how Blair can turn any act of love into a ritual, something sacred and secret and holy.

    He takes his weight completely on his knees now, lifting his hands from my shoulders. His fingers run through my hair, massaging my scalp as his body keeps up the slow, easy strokes. I slide my hands up from his hips, softly up his sides, not lightly enough to tickle, and his fingertips dance over my face, tracing my eyebrows, my cheekbones, my lips. I cheat and suck his finger into my mouth, swirling my tongue over the tip, sucking strongly. Blair moans but doesn’t protest, lets me taste his skin. My tongue can feel every individual whorl of his fingerprint and I release the finger before I can zone on it.

    Blair takes advantage of the wet finger and uses it to play with his own nipple, giving me the intoxicating sight of him playing with himself. God, I love that. I can come just watching him sometimes. I mirror the movements on the other nipple, tugging lightly at the gold ring, and he rewards me with a soft cry of pleasure, throwing his head back, but even so he keeps up the same slow, steady rhythm up and down my cock.

    He’s weaving a spell around us, a spell of almost mystical pleasure and I dive headlong into it, letting him set the rhythm – as if there was ever any choice in the matter. Our breathing has fallen into sync. His fingers ghost over my face again and I reciprocate, my own fingers learning the contours of Blair’s face as if I were blind, weaving through his hair, exploring the whorls of his ears. I cup my fingers around his neck under his hair, exploring the hidden secret nape of his neck under that curly curtain, and he likes that, murmuring with pleasure and pressing back against my fingers. He’s not sweating too much, although all this work must be hell on his thighs. Rock up, tight friction sliding all the way up to the sensitive underside of the head of my cock. Rock down, I’m enveloped in slick heat and the dildo slides over my prostate. God, I’m going insane, no end in sight, and I love it. I love it.

    "Love you," Blair pants, his face intent, his eyes still on mine. "Love you – so much – so much – " He whimpers with each thrust, and I know he’s feeling the same incredible pleasure I am. I toy gently with his nipples, not pushing him too hard; he wants slow and I respect that. Blair moans his appreciation and keeps up his slow, easy rhythm. Then his hand grasps mine, laying it over his heart and holding it there. I can feel the steady rapid pulsing of his life, his passion.

    "Yours," he whispers. "Feel it, Jim. All – yours. Can you – ahhhhh! – feel it?"

    I feel it. There’s not a doubt in my mind that he means what he says. He’s more than once proven his willingness to give anything for me – his life, his love, his career, his future, his beliefs. Maybe that’s why returning his love terrifies me so much. He gives so much that it leaves a huge terrifying vacuum in my heart, a huge gap of inequity that it would take so much of myself to fill. He doesn’t ask that of me, never has, and I know he doesn’t expect it. And that makes the gap so much bigger.

    He shifts his weight slightly and we both moan as the angle of our union changes, intensifying the friction against his prostate and mine, too. He’s shaking hard now, straining to hold the slow rhythm he’s set as his pleasure increases. He’s paying less attention to me now, head thrown back, eyes closed as he becomes momentarily lost in his own pleasure, but to me that’s even better than anything he could do for me. God, the sight of him completely overcome, giving in to pure ecstasy, is the most arousing, intoxicating thing I’ve ever seen – the rapt expression on his face is utterly beautiful, and his scent – well, suffice it to say that I love watching him masturbate almost as much as I love making love to him.


    He’s getting close despite the slow pace, and the sight of him is more than enough to keep me right in pace with him too. I knead his buttocks restlessly, wanting and not wanting to beg him for that faster pace or extra bit of stimulation that will push us both over the edge together. And we’ll go together; we almost always do. My fingers slip down between his cheeks and I feel the tight-stretched skin of his anus as he slides up and down my length, and oh, God, that’s almost enough to do it for me. Now I’m the one shaking, and my sound effects have drowned out Blair’s.

    Blair focuses on me again, smiling that incredible open million-lumen smile and he reaches down, following my fingers to feel for himself. He shivers with arousal, his skin popping out in gooseflesh, and I think, Oh, man, this is it, almost there, almost –

    And then he stops.

    He STOPS.

    I moan my protest, and he bends down and covers my lips with soothing kisses.

    "Shhh, easy, Jim, just a second, just a second – "

    My flexible little minx is changing position slightly, going from knees to feet, now squatting over me instead of kneeling. I slip out momentarily, but I hardly have time to feel the coolness of the air before he lowers himself and I guide again and once more I’m home in Blair’s hot body. The position’s awkward for him and I’m not penetrating him quite as deeply before, but immediately I see the goal of that particular maneuver.

    Oh, boy, do I ever see it. In brilliant Sentinel-magnified detail.

    He’s shifted so now I can see my cock sliding in and out of that hot little pucker, see every capillary in the tight-stretched skin. Oh, yeah, and there’s another purpose too, a little bonus, because he can get some real pistoning action going now, and he’s doing it, too. Yep, we’re definitely going for the gold now, and I’ve already forgotten the brief interruption because my body’s singing the Hallelujah Chorus, my brain, fixated on the sight before my eyes and Blair’s helpless pleasured moans, is going straight into meltdown, and believe me, Jim Ellison’s just along for the ride now as the roller coaster plummets over the crest of the hill and drops in an amazing unbelievable heart-stopping rush, standing up in the car and screaming and throwing up arms, oh, YEAH, adrenaline pounding through every cell as the whole universe coalesces around a single instant where the laws of physics have no jurisdiction.

    And this is the biggest drop ever, the mother of all rollercoasters, the big payoff, the ultimate thrill as Blair and I plunge together. He’s screaming, I’m screaming, our hands have instinctively joined, fingers twining together to help support him in his last desperate out-of-rhythm thrusts. His body contracts rhythmically around me and his semen pumps out hot and wet over my belly and chest even as the rush takes me and I fill his ass with my own hot spurts, the dildo in my ass making the orgasm echo through my whole body, there and back again, and again, and again until I think neither of us can take it, we’re going to combust right here, right now, and I want it to stop and I want it to go on forever.

    It stops, of course; if it went on forever Blair and I would probably burst a blood vessel or something. Blair’s legs give out (should’ve expected that) and he collapses onto my chest probably more abruptly than either he or my back would have wanted, but I’m well beyond pain at this point and I just wrap my arms around him and hold him tight, hold him close, while our hearts thunder together with a single rhythm in the last spasms of ecstasy.

    And slowly our hearts slow as I hold him and he holds me, and I realize something I’ve never thought about before.

    Blair’s heartbeat.

    It’s the first sound I listen for in the morning, the last sound at night. It’s the stability I reach for when I wake up at night from a nightmare, or on the job when I’m having a bad day, or we’re in a shootout and I can’t see him anywhere but can only imagine him lying bleeding to death on the pavement. It’s the lifeline that pulls me back from the void of a zoneout. The sound that means safety and hope and love and home. The sound of Blair.

    The rhythm of my life.

    Until that moment when he pressed my hand over his heart and said "Yours," I never realized. With his heart, Blair gives me more than love or friendship or guidance. He gives me the air I breathe, the ground beneath my feet. Without the anchor of his heart I’m lost in the void again, just as I was so many years. Carolyn could never do that for me, could never anchor me to the world like Blair does, and so I could never give her that last bone-deep, soul-deep trust I give Blair. That blind faith that when I wake up in the morning, I’ll still be anchored to the world. The unspoken promise that every day, every moment, Blair fulfills.

    "Your heart," I whisper breathlessly, nothing more, and I know there’s no possible way Blair can understand what the hell I’m talking about. But he turns his head and kisses my sweaty chest, and when he speaks I can hear in his voice that somehow, once again, he’s read my mind.

    "My heart," he whispers back.

    We lie there in silence a long time, stroking each other softly, whispering little meaningless endearments into each other’s ear, tasting each other’s sweat. I love this aftermath, love to trace my fingertips so lightly over his skin, memorizing every fold and crease and imperfection, mapping every hair follicle. The landscape of Blair – my territory, my homeland. Warm and sweaty and hairy, smelling of sex, he is utterly beautiful to every one of my senses. And in that moment of silence, I’m not afraid anymore.

    "Can I tell you a secret?" I say softly.

    Blair doesn’t laugh. He raises his head, looks into my eyes, smiles, and nods.

    "Whisper it in my ear," he says.

    He leans forward and his hair covers my face, hiding me from the world. I whisper my secret in his ear. Just three little words, something I hope he already knew. When I’m done, he pulls back to look at me, and his eyes are shining so bright. So bright.

    "I can keep a secret," he whispers, Sentinel soft. He presses my hand over his heart again. "I’ll keep it right here."

    Then I pull him close and we hold each other, and I listen to the beat of our hearts pressed so close together.

    If you want to be stubborn, you can fight gravity for a long time, even knowing that if you managed to win you’d just be lost in the void, alone in the cold and darkness with no ground beneath your feet. Still, you can keep fighting as long as you can hold out. You can soup up your engines and pour fuel into them and keep blasting away, not knowing where the hell you’d go if you were free. I did it for three years.

    But in the end, eventually, gravity’s going to win. The birds know it, the tides know it, astronauts know it. I know it too.

    And maybe that’s the way it should be.

    - end -