Territorial Imperative 6

Title: Territorial Imperative 6

Author: Bone

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Fandom: Sentinel

Category: Slash

Rating: NC-17

Pairing: Jim/Blair

Archive: Do not repost, publish or link without discussing it with me first.

Disclaimer: The Sentinel characters belong to Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. Written for pleasure, not profit. For adult readers only, please. Contains male/male sex.

Warning: Contains some really foul language.

Notes: This part is dedicated to the wonderful writers who responded to the Kitchen Table Challenge. As always, my beta readers—Kat, Kady and Melissa—helped tremendously.

Blair got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. It's like he decided in that instant between being asleep and being awake that it was going to be a rotten day and he might as well just be rotten right along with it. He lives under the mistaken impression that I'll somehow be his magical alarm clock. Sorry, kid, I'm not. And no, Blair, I don't have any idea how the switch got from AM to PM, I swear to God. It's also not my fault that you didn't get more orange juice. It was your turn to shop, and you got all involved in one of your weird school things and forgot the list, so you just got what you could remember, and while that managed to include every disgusting thing you put in those algae shakes, you missed the Minute Maid.

Not my fault.

It's been like this for a couple of weeks now—Blair in a piss-poor mood and me backing off, telling him all the reasons why it's not my fault. It's a losing battle—trying to be rational with an irrational man.

This morning's just the latest example.

We're running late. Really late. He left the bathroom looking like a squall line went through it. There's algae shake congealing in the blender because he made the damn thing then announced he didn't have time to drink it and where the hell was his Thermos and fuck it all anyway.

Oh yeah, it was a great start to the day.

Did I mention it's raining? Again? For the ninth day straight? People are starting to make jokes about arks. It smells like the whole city's mildewing.

Even though none of this is my fault, and I'm late, too, I offer to drop him at the University so he won't have to hunt for parking. He accepts this as his due. He really can be a little prick sometimes. He's been muttering under his breath the whole time we're driving, tapping his feet on the floorboards, making the change in his pockets jingle, which he knows makes me nuts. He looks like …well, I don't know, like he wants to explode, or stamp his foot, or something. He looks like a temper tantrum might actually do him some good. It's as if he knows he's being ridiculous and he's trying to get himself under control, but it's still coming out in these pissed-off little ways.

And he tells me not to bottle things up.

Maybe if I rattle his chains a little, he'll blow up and then this can blow over and we can start the damn day from scratch.

"Who peed in your Wheaties, Chief?" I ask him.

He glares at me. "Oh, no, man, don't even try."

"Try what?" I probably should just let him be, but there's a certain sadistic thrill in watching him get riled.

"Don't you go all Blair on me now, man. I am not in the mood." He's shaking his head, which he managed to get wet even with the hood on. You can't get all those curls under a basic hood; there are always bits and pieces flying out in all directions, so he's half wet, half dry. He's kind of funny-looking, to be honest with you. Cute, in a half-drowned sort of way.

"Oh, I get it. It's just fine for you to badger me with questions, but I don't get to do it to you? That's a fine damn how do you do," I say to him.

I'm not really mad. It's just fun to see him in a snit, and this is a button I know how to push.

"Well, you are the research subject."


I go for days without remembering that. Weeks, sometimes. Jim Ellison, anthropological guinea pig. The whole reason he's under my feet. I should know better than to start a war of words with Blair Sandburg. We don't have anywhere near equal ammunition.

I think that last bit made him a little ashamed of himself. He's blowing out a deep breath and turning towards me in the seat. I can hear the sharp whine of his jacket slithering on the seat back, and the catch of damp denim.

"Sorry, man, didn't mean to yank your chain," he mutters, and that edge is gone from his voice.

"So what's up?" I ask him, not so much to push his buttons now; more to see if he'll tell me what's been bugging him the last couple of weeks.

"It's not like just one thing, Jim. It's a whole accumulation of crap," he says, slapping both hands on the dashboard.






It takes him a fraction of a second too long to answer me.


Would a person with normal hearing have understood that? I can tell he's lying. It is me, or at least part of it. Of course, what part of his life doesn't include me these days? School relates to me, and my work relates to him now, and we've hit a level of personal interaction I never even knew existed, let alone dreamed I could experience, so…I guess maybe the time to worry is when I'm not part of the problem.

He's patting me now, on the shoulder that's on his side of the truck. I seem to be leaning into his space, which I wasn't really aware of doing.

"Ignore me, Jim. It's probably just the weather. I need one of those vitamin D lamps or something," he says, giving me a light smack on the thigh before nudging me back to my side of the truck.

The touch makes me feel better than the words, and I'm willing to let it go, for now. I guess he'll tell me in his own sweet time. He certainly tells me everything else.

"How about if I bring over some lunch later?" I offer. Truce.

"Sure, if you want. Anything but Siesta Fiesta," he says, patting his stomach. "I'm still getting aftershocks from the last time."

He closes the truck door without slamming it, which I appreciate. Even in a bad mood, he's pretty sensitive to things that might throw off my senses.

We wouldn't want to skew the data, now would we?

I watch him trudging away, dodging puddles, trailing the end of a six-foot scarf behind him like a tail. He looks like all the other kids—smothered in a bright jacket, jeans and hiking boots. Just another bobbing head in the crowd. I think, for probably the millionth time, how amazing it is that he found me.

So, shitty mood and all, I'll take him. Maybe I'll bring him some matzoh ball soup from the kosher deli. That stuff could convert a registered Episcopalian. It should certainly be able to cure a down-in-the-dumps anthropologist.


You know, some mornings it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. Right from the get-go, I knew today was going to suck. It started bad, with the alarm clock thing, slid downhill when Jim drank the last of the OJ without checking to see if we had any more in the freezer, and bottomed out when my brand spanking new Gore-tex shell leaked worse than Kenneth Starr's entire entourage. And that all happened before I got snippy with Jim and had to stumble all over myself not to make things worse, and then got even wetter than I already was on my way to the Anthro building, where the day turned really shitty.

I don't know if you've ever seen someone literally tear their hair out. It's not a pretty sight. That's what this Junior anthro major was doing on the floor outside my office: Sitting with her knees under her chin, jerking her hair out one piece at a time. It took most of the morning to calm her down, make her see that life will go on if she doesn't get to see the Yanomamo during the first summer session instead of the second. Most Juniors don't even get the option of a trip like that, so I don't know what she's bitching about. Hell, when I was a Junior I spent the summer filing research notes from other people's trips.

Talk about craving burgers at a veggie stand.

Now I'll admit, I might be a little pissier than usual with this oh-my-god-I-have-to-go-in-June girl, because it's another trip I turned down. It went something like this: They needed a teacher type—I fit the description. They asked—I said no. To tell you the truth, that little tune's starting to wear on my nerves.

But what am I supposed to do? Tell the city leaders of Cascade their numero uno detective is entirely on his own because I have to baby-sit a bunch of budding anthropologists through the wilds of the Amazon? Can't you just see Simon eating that up? It's not like it's a hard decision. I just picture Jim's face when I tell him I'm leaving. That's all it takes. The words 'No, thanks, I can't' just pour out all by themselves.

Jim's been left enough.

I just can't add to that pile. Not yet. Maybe not ever. I try not to think in those kinds of terms—they give me a killer headache. Not the concept of going gray with him; I'm cool with that. It's just imagining the daily mechanics of all those years that gives me heart palpitations from time to time. It's just sort of mind-boggling. And at the moment, he's not at all ready to be left; we've seen how that works. If the time ever comes when I think Jim can handle things by himself, or if he wants to take a couple weeks leave and go with me somewhere, that's cool.

But for now, they ask, and I say no.

Usually, I don't have too much of a problem with that. I've got some serious perks right here. If the anthro work on Jim has taken a little bit of a backseat to the screw-Jim-breathless work, well, that's to be expected, don't you think? Let's see …academics? or bacchanalia? …now really, which would you choose?

So anyway, between an impending career crisis, wet cuffs, a growling stomach and—pardon me, but it's true—spoiled brat faux Anthro chicks, I can't wait to see what the PM has to offer. And now Jim's late with whatever lunch he's decided to bring me. What I should have done was ask him for breakfast—I'm fucking starving. I don't feel much like going to the caf—from what I can see out the window, it looks like the rain is coming up from the ground. Brrrrr. I've done the dog-shaking thing enough for one day already. Not even the possibility of hot chocolate with marshmallows is lure enough. Maybe this is just the blood sugar talking, but I could literally eat sawdust at this point. I'd eat a Hostess Cupcake. I'd eat a Slim Jim.

Wait, that wasn't supposed to be a play on words. Really, it wasn't. I'm trying to think up some truly disgusting things that I'd eat now, I'm so hungry. But maybe that's a better thought. Let's think about that Slim Jim for a minute. Oh yeah. That beats the crap out of worrying about Susie Whoosie's so-called problem, and the truly incessant rain, and the fact my career, such as it is, might just have to wait another fifteen years until Jim retires and the Sentinel can kick back in a chair somewhere and the Guide can go away for a couple of days without worrying about zone-outs or gunshots.

Yeah, let's just back-burner all that crap. Screw it. Why make a bad day worse? Hang on, I've got to get comfortable for this. Okay, books piled, chair back, feet up on the desk, hand on the crotch. Now we're talking.

If I were going to eat a slim Jim, I'd start at the top. Natch. Nibble his ears a little, maybe. Gnaw on that big tendon in his neck. Rub my nose on that spot where there's just not quite as much hair as there used to be, three years ago. You could land a plane on that forehead now. I like it like that. Hair's over-rated. I should know. Believe me.

Jim's all clean lines and corners. He's smooth and hard, all over. The pads of his toes are perfect, like firm little pillows. I never paid attention to toe pads before, but there's not an inch of Jim Ellison that I haven't gone over with a fine-toothed comb. He's such a guy guy, he cracks me up sometimes. Whatever minor reputation he might have earned in his Vice days has to be tossed once people get a look at his choice in footwear. No self-respecting gay man would wear white athletic socks with standard issue black cop treadies, like Jim does. Of course, we're both still wrapping our brains around the whole 'gay' concept as it is, so clothing choices are pretty far down the list. But I think those big thick white socks are part of what make his feet so darn cute. No corns or calluses, no bunions or nail-eating foot funguses. Not for Jim. He's got these big wide boats, arches up to here, toes out to there. I could develop a serious foot fetish here.

So from the top of his ever-increasing forehead to the little toenail on his littlest toe, I've got about a five-course meal. With a nice thick palate cleanser sticking up right around the middle. I don't know why, but Jim goes down on me a lot more than I go down on him. It's not that he doesn't like getting it done to him, but he's like possessed sometimes, doing it to me. And I'm not about to make even a peep about it. Far be it from me to deprive Jim of something he so obviously, thoroughly, vocally enjoys.

But one of these days, when he's asleep or just not paying attention, I'm going to sneak up on him and slobber myself down on him. Show him this mouth's good for more than just yapping. It's not like I've never done it; he just beats me to the punch all the time and then once he gets going, I have a hard time even remembering my name, let alone putting together the coherant thought that, duh, maybe it's my turn to tame the gag reflex.

So I'm going to open up and dive right down, maybe rub his ass a little while I'm right there, maybe poke a finger or two in him so he doesn't zone on the front part. I can feel him now, hot and twitching in my mouth, feel his balls butt up under my chin, feel his hands going in my hair.

Going in my hair.

How about coming in my hair.

Oh, shit. I don't know about Jim, but that's just about going to do it for me. I'm unzipping now; somebody needs a whole lot more room than damp jeans are giving him. Gotta be quiet. Susie Whatsername pulled the door to when she left, but it's not quite shut, and don't tell Jim, but the thought that any old body could push open that door and see me here with my dick turning purple in my hand isn't exactly a turn-off. Danger, danger, Will Robinson.

Man, the shit I get off on could fill a book.

Okay, okay, so let's say he's pulling out of my mouth, sliding his dick in my hair, rubbing his hands on it through the hair, jacking himself off. And I'm just kneeling there, letting him. Watching him. Watching him watch himself jerking off in my hair. Uh-huh. Ooh, man. Yeah, yeah, that's doing it. Wish this hellhole ghetto dusty office came equipped with Kleenex. If the real thing ends up anything like the dreamed-up thing, we might need those industrial strength he-man-sized ones. As it is, the Gore-tex is just going to have to prove its complete lack of waterproofing yet again and sop up the mess.

Maybe I was hasty before. Maybe the hair thing's not over-rated after all. I can't wait to try it out on Jim. Maybe when he gets here, I'll just close that door, back him up against the desk, make him drop trou and have him.

For dessert.

Sorry, big guy, a mouthful of come's not going to satisfy this appetite. Feed me first, and I'll do anything you want. Hey, maybe today would be a good day to try out the stacks in the library…

Now isn't this better than bitching about the weather?


I'll give Blair this; he's got real cause for complaint about the rain. I hate this goddamn weather. I had options. I lived in the jungles of Peru, for God's sake. I know it's a big world out there, with plenty of warm places where I could live. Some of them are probably even dry. But what did I do when I got out? Did I move to Hawaii and join corporate security at the Dole pineapple factory? No. Did I head to Scottsdale and do background checks for all those McDonnell-Douglas people? Of course not. I went back to my hometown, got a job as a cop and tried to pretend I hadn't completely lost my mind.

I think you could make a case that most of us who choose to live in a climate this God-awful are a few whiskers shy of a beard in the sanity department. When I think about Sandburg, with his layers of flannel and his doofy hat with the dog-ear flaps, I wonder what the hell Naomi was thinking when she enrolled him at Rainier. This is a kid who had 'Arizona State' written all over him. But this is where he ended up, and I have to give him credit for sticking it out. He's been here since he was sixteen. I guess if he really hated it, he'd have struck out for greener pastures by now.

Unless he feels like he has to stay for me.

You're probably thinking I'm psychic or something, but the sad truth is that half of what Blair thinks also comes out of his mouth, whether he knows it or not. My days are filled with a constant stream of Blairpatter. Let me make clear that I don't tune in on purpose. It just …happens. I'd say about ninety percent of the time, it's stuff I couldn't care less about. I know his opinion of the toilets in the men's room; I know what he really thinks about Sam; I know how many tribes there are left in Amazon Basin. I can't think of anything useful to do with all that information, but he supplies it, unknowingly, about sixteen hours a day.

The ten percent that is useful isn't always stuff I can talk to him about. He'd have to bring them up, and he doesn't. He freaks over dumb things like orange juice, but keeps quiet about the important stuff sometimes. I guess we all have our ways. It's not like I do very well in that department either. Most men don't, when you get right down to it.

So I'm doing what I know how to do, which is be with him, and feed him. Don't knock it. Relationships have been built on less.

As I'm walking up to his office door, I get a whiff of a familiar scent. Shit. Good God, Sandburg. Tell me you didn't. You didn't. Please tell me you didn't. Oh, fuck. You did.

I push open the door.

"The damn door's not even shut," I snap as I'm walking in his office. He looks good and guilty. He's got his windbreaker in his hand and he's still pink and he bit his lip again.

"What am I going to do with you?" I ask him, shaking my head. How did he get from pissed off at the world to jerking off in his office? With the door open? The boy ain't right.

"Jesus, Jim, relax," he says, motioning for me to pipe down.

"Relax? Blair, do you have any idea how much trouble you could get in?" It's easy to forget he's almost thirty sometimes, especially when his pecker's involved. That pecker's not a day over eighteen.

"No trouble at all, unless you don't shut up," he hisses at me, dropping his jacket on the floor and shutting the door. Now he shuts the door. Some days he's too weird for me.

"Like you've never done that," he says, and he's coming towards me, all puffed up and prickly.

"I've never done that."

"Oh right. You're full of shit, Jim."

"Blair, I hate to ruin your little fantasy, but most people can make it through a whole work day without masturbating in their offices," I say, backing up a little, then I stop because I can't believe he's intimidating me. He is, though. Bantamweight that he is, he's got me backing up. My ass hits the desk behind me, so I sit myself down on it, trying to act casual.

Blair, meanwhile, seems to be stalking me.

"Yeah? So you've never, you know, slapped the salami at the station?" he asks me, and he's closer now, and his eyes are bright blue and his tongue's out, worrying that swollen place he bit.

I swallow. I can smell that he's turned on again. Which turns me on. It's a wicked, wicked cycle. I'm never sure who starts it, and it usually only ends one way.

"Blair …" But it's too late, way too late. He's already got a hand on my crotch, and nothing I say's going to change the fact that I'm hard as a rock for him. I try it one more time.

"Blair …"

"Shut up, Jim," he whispers, and he's bending down in front of me. All I can see is the top of his head and all that hair. Am I really going to let him—yes, I am.

"Just lie back and enjoy the ride, man," he says into my lap.

Lie back and enjoy the ride. I can do that.

Amazingly enough, I can.


I can't believe he's going to let me do this. This rocks. He's even pushing his coat out of the way. He takes up the whole desk top when he stretches out on it, and his feet still touch the floor. Jim's big.

I'm not about to give him a chance to change his mind, so I just unzip him, dig him out of his undies and swallow as much as I can. He makes this little strangled sound and his hips jump up off the desk. So I push him back down with a hand on his hip and suck him off to the end, then head back to the base. Up and back, up and back, this great fast rhythm. I think I might have to go home and change clothes before my next class. Whatever the rain and the first time didn't get wet, this go-round certainly will.

He's doing what he does when he gets close when we're like this—he's wrapping my hair up in his fists and fucking my mouth. It's the closest he really gets to going he-man on me when we're having sex. In almost every other circumstance, he stays in control. He knows he's bigger and stronger, and he's used to hanging on, not just losing it. But a good blowjob should make you lose your mind, so it doesn't bother me a bit that I'm having to do a few meditation sequences to keep my gag reflex from upchucking him right back on the desk. He's tunneling down now, holding my head steady for him and I'm breathing real shallow through my nose and rubbing myself through my jeans with my free hand.

I want to see if he'll let me do the hair thing, so before he gets so far I can't stop him, I push on his hip a little and pull my head back. It takes a couple of times before he gets the message. Then he pulls out like I bit him and he's cradling my head and sitting up on the desk, saying real quietly, "Oh, God, Blair, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."

"Jim, hang on, you weren't hurting me." I'm trying to get his hands out of my hair, trying to calm him down. Maybe I should have stopped him sooner. He's, like, out of it.

"Here, man, put it here," I say, and I bend over again, bringing his dick up into our hands, wrapping his hand around it, and the hair, and I've got a finger or two caught in there, too.

He's really still. Completely still and I wonder if I didn't just make a huge mistake. Then his dick twitches, then twitches again, and this close, I can smell that he's already coming. I can feel it riding up his dick and soaking in my hair. He's actually coming, without thrusting or anything. He got his dick in my hair and WHAM, he came. Just like that.


Well, I think we could call that a success, don't you?

So I didn't get a twofer out of it. Doesn't matter—he let me. Can you believe it? He actually let me.

Besides, on a day like this, one less wet spot's probably a good thing.


I think the last time I did something this stupid, I …well, actually, I can't remember ever doing anything this stupid. Wait. Yes, I can. I sucked Blair off in the parking lot of the strip club, under a streetlight. That was pretty dumb. I guess now we're even. He gets hot at the strangest times. I haven't figured out yet what it is about this building that turns him on, unless it's memories of other times he's played here. I'd just as soon not think about that, if you don't mind.

He takes it all in stride. All of it. The come in his hair, the wreck I've made of his desk, everything. He's pouring bottled water into the palm of his hand and working it through his hair, grinning at me. "Good thing it's a rainy day, huh," he says. "Great excuse for a wet head."

Yeah, great. Finally, he's got something good to say about the weather. He can put himself back together faster than I can. It takes a few minutes for my nerve endings to stop twitching, and until that happens, my brain's a little slow. His recovery time is remarkable. He's already happily digging in the paper bags I brought, making appreciative sounds over the soup container, while I'm still sitting here, unzipped and exposed, feeling my heart beat behind my eyes.

He doesn't bother with a spoon. He's babbling about how spoons are a useless invention; that's what bowls are for, and how spoons are really just little bowls with handles on them, and why bother with that when you could just have the whole meal in one big bowl, or one really big spoon, if you care to look at it that way. So the matzoh ball soup goes straight from the styrofoam into Sandburg's mouth. He blows on it a little first, then slurps the whole thing down in about six swallows.

That's quite a chaser, Sandburg. Don't burn yourself.

Half a pastrami on rye is the next thing to disappear in his mouth. I rescue my half before he can reach for that, too. The man can put away some food. I stick my half of the sandwich in my mouth, then zip up and pull my jacket back where it belongs. I still can't really believe we did that. In his hair. I'm not sure I'd ever even let myself imagine that. It seems kinky. Seems kinky? It is kinky. And I did it; I came in his hair, in his office, in the middle of the workday.

I think maybe I ought to ask Simon for some personal leave; sort my head out.

I'm obviously not as stable I'd like to think.

Blair smacks his lips together, pats his stomach and says, "Well, that's better. Man, that was a close one. You're lucky I didn't just bite down and start chewing you. I was hungry."

"Yeah, well, thanks, I guess," I tell him. Oh yeah, my brain's working again.

He wraps up all the trash and tosses it to the trashcan like he's a point guard for the Jaguars. He makes both shots and raises a hand to an imaginary crowd.

Have I mentioned recently how much I love this kid? Kinky quirks, bad moods and all?

He picks up the last bite of my sandwich and pops it in his mouth. "I was eating that," I say to him, but he just waves a hand at me.

"I'm sorry about this morning," he says, while he's gathering all the papers that went flying while we were …you know. "The juice, the alarm, all that shit. I didn't mean to go postal on you."

"S'okay," I tell him, and it is. We all have our days. Or, in Blair's case, weeks. "Want to tell me what's bugging you?" I figure I might as well give him an opening. We have to talk about it sometime, and with him being both full and satisfied, it seems like a great time to do it.

"I'm just crossing bridges before I get to them, Jim, that's all. Building my own huge bridge over the River Kwai, y'know?" he says, holding his arms out wide to show me the size of those bridges.

"About the dissertation?" I'm used to questioning suspects, but I've got to go at it all different with Blair.

"Yeah, that's some of it," he admits, and he motions around the office. "And some days, I get in here and start thinking about what happens after the dissertation, which is dumb because we're still not even close to after yet," he says. "Some days I think we're barely through the intro."

After the dissertation. After the dissertation? I never really thought about what might happen afterward. He's not looking at me. He's still just gathering things up, putting them in what passes for a pile in Blair's world.

On top is a flyer for a department expedition to the Amazon. Yet another trip Blair won't be making. Because he'll be here. In Cascade. With me. Dividing his too precious time between shadowing me for my purposes and his own, teaching classes, and writing a dissertation. That's what he's doing today, and he'll be doing it tomorrow, and all summer long, and for however long we can make it work.

Of course, there's no telling how long that will be. Or what it will cost him.

He shakes his wet head and smiles at me. "I'm just borrowing trouble. No biggie, really. We're cool."



I'm not sure where to go from here. It's such a big thing. The Future. His Career. Our Life. Too big, maybe, to start talking about on a lunch hour. I'll admit to you that I'm not really looking forward to getting it all out in the open. I'm selfish that way. I like things the way they are. I know it's not fair, and I know it's stifling sometimes, for him. It has to be. I feel stifled sometimes and I'm not even the baby-sitter. So I can only imagine how terrifying this is for Blair when he really stops to think about it, and what it means in terms of his life.

So once again, I let it go. I kiss him before I let him open the door. Take his face in my hands and kiss him hard, tongue and everything. I don't do this very often, kiss him while we're standing up, but I like it so much that I just wrap him up and neck with him for awhile. He likes it too, I can tell by the way he nudges up against me and by how hard he's breathing. If I weren't already late again I might see what else we could get up to in his dusty little office, but we're pushing it as it is.

I give him one last lick, put my hands on his shoulders and peel him off me.

"Pick you up at 5:30?" I ask him, and I'm surprised at how husky my voice sounds.

"I'll meet you out front," he says, and leans up for one more kiss.

I tell you, we're getting downright sappy.


Do things seem, I don't know, kind of off to you? Out of whack, unbalanced? Or is it just me? Could just be me. Could be me, needing to get some sunshine, needing to thaw out a little. I'm sick of this weather. I want to wear shorts and t-shirts and no shoes. I want to sleep under just a sheet, or hey, here's a concept, under nothing at all. I want to be able to leave my house without three layers of this and two layers of that and Thinsulate socks. Nine freaking months of the year it does this. After all this time, wouldn't you think I'd acclimate? Nuh-uh. I'm a shivering demon most of the time.

Why do you think I stand so close to Jim all the time?

Well, besides that.

The man has body heat to spare and I'm not shy about getting my share. That was an unfortunate rhyme—ignore it. Even in the dead of winter, he's a boxer-shorts only kind of sleeper. Me, I'd wear those footie pajamas if they wouldn't just add to all the shit I already get for the curls and the big blue eyes and the somewhat lacking in stature thing. You think I don't know how they talk about me? I know. I just choose to focus on stuff more pertinent to the point, which is that I'm it for Jim, and yeah, he likes my body, but he doesn't talk about my eyes, or how cute I am, or any of that crap. Nope. He shows me sometimes, but that's a different story.

Am I rambling? Probably. It's just that something weird's going on, and I'd rather chatter than deal with it. Big surprise. But I'll give it a go. Maybe seeing it spelled out will provide some shattering insight. I'm not holding my breath, though.

It's like we switched places.

No, wait, hear me out. Think about it. Who's usually grouchy? And who's usually all accommodating? See what I mean? In our personal dynamic, it's always gone like this: Jim bitches and I accommodate. Well, all right, maybe that's going a little far. It's not like I have a halo or anything. I've been known to spew a bitch session myself from time to time, but in general, on the whole, Jim's the grouch, and I'm the conciliator, right? But things have shifted the last couple of weeks. I'm getting mean, and I hate that. That's not me. And he's putting up with it because he doesn't know how else to handle it. He's bringing me soup and driving me to work and keeping the heat in the loft at 70 degrees, which hits him hard in the checkbook and makes it so he has go around in t-shirts and shorts the whole time he's home because he's so hot. Talk about a sacrifice.

Naomi once told me to be wary of lovers with the same thermostat. She considers it a recipe for disaster. She's like me, goosebumps on goosebumps, so her idea of checking out the potential lover landscape has always been to find the man in the crowd not wearing a coat. With Jim and me, it's just a happy coincidence that we have diametrically opposed thermostats, since I'm not sure that's listed in the Sentinel/Guide Handbook.

Hell, we're diametrically opposed on lots of stuff, from how we were raised, to whether we think pot should be legalized, to views on whether Xander's better off with Cordelia or Willow. I'm a Cordy man, myself. Have you seen that girl???

Fortunately, we're simpatico on the important stuff.

Most of the time.

When I'm not being a prick.

But anyway, that's the kind of stuff he's doing. Accommodating. Conciliating. Surrendering before the god of snark. The guys at the station would wet themselves if they could see him now—making my favorite dinner, letting me watch the tape of Sports Night for the third time …

I'm sick of the weather.

I'm sick of getting my way all the time.

I'm sick of me.

And if I'm fed up with me, imagine how he feels.

It's time to get way over myself.


I have pussy-footed around him long enough. I'm going to do my level best to get him in a good mood and then I'm going to pull a Blair and we're not going to go to bed until we've sorted this thing out. I made his favorite dinner, and I didn't even complain when he put in the Sports Night tape again. If that doesn't mellow him out, nothing will. I look at the bottle of wine in the fridge, then pour him milk instead. I think this would be better done without booze.

You've seen what happens when he drinks.

We'd never get any talking done.

Thirty minutes later, the TV's off, the dishes are done, and he's back on the couch under a blanket. I'm sweating. It's okay. It's a small enough thing. If he wants the loft warmer, he gets the loft warmer. I get a Coke and go sprawl in the armchair, so there's no danger that he'll seduce me before we can get the conversation started. Actually, that's always a danger. He doesn't have to touch me and he knows it. Sometimes he doesn't even have to talk to me. He'll just look at me, real steady, and move his eyes over my face and down me, then back up, and that's it. That's all it takes. Next thing I know, we're naked and tangled up.

It happens all the time.

So I'm looking at the Coke can like it's a test, not making eye contact with him, because he's pretty adorable all wrapped up in that blanket. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see his feet poking out the end, one lapped over the other, and his toes are rubbing the top of his other foot. Even that arouses me. Who knew I was so easy?

Focus, Ellison. Focus.

"Um, Blair? Can I talk to you?" Well, that wasn't a bad start. A little tentative, but if you'd seen the way this kid can go off when he feels like it, you'd understand the cautious approach.

"Sure," he says, but before I can even start, he's already talking. "If it's about the bathroom, I'm going to do it tomorrow. My class got cancelled—hallelujah—and I switched the study group to the afternoon and you're not on until four, right? Plenty of time."

"It's not about the bathroom, Chief."

He's subsided back on the couch again. When it's not about what he wants to talk about, it's not so easy.

"What, then?" he asks, picking up a magazine and thumbing through it.

"Blair, can you just put the magazine down? Please?" It's a struggle, but I'm staying nice and calm. He tosses it back on the coffee table and looks at me.


"If you've got a problem, I'd like to help." I think that sounded darn good, don't you? Well, it smacked a little of intervention, but given the crowd we run with, that's not entirely surprising. "Maybe if you tell me the problem, I can help you think of a solution."

"Jim, Jim, Jim," he says, pushing himself up, tossing off the blanket and turning so he's facing me. "It's not a problem and there is no solution. It just is."

Zen and the art of Blair Sandburg.

"Can you at least tell me what it is?" I ask him and he shakes his head.

"No, man, if I could, I would. I'd tell you. It's not like I'm deliberately hiding anything. It's just a bigass motherfucker and like I said, it's not like a problem we can solve. It's more a matter of attitude adjustment."

"Keep talking."

"Wish I had a tape recorder," he mutters, and that makes me smile a little.

"I just think I'm looking at everything wrong," he says, and now he's leaning his arms on his thighs, leaning towards me. "I worry about shit that might not even happen, and here I've got everything I ever wanted, right here."

I'd like to pursue that because I think I'd hear some good things, but it's the first part that's causing all the havoc. "What do you worry about?"

He takes a deep breath, then blows it out, laughing. "You want the list?"

When I nod, he says, "Okay. Here goes. I'm fucking my research subject. This isn't something the higher ups approve of, in general. What if I never finish the dissertation? What if us getting involved like we have skews everything and it's not worth shit? It's not like I can even pretend I'm just an objective observer. I'm a shaman for Christ's sake."

He's just warming up, I can tell.

"Or, on the other hand, what if I finish the dissertation and it's this huge success? Book deals, the talk show circuit—how about an action series on the WB featuring a modern-day Sentinel and his trusty Guide? Weirder shit has happened. I hear they're redoing Charlie's Angels. Anything could happen. And what happens to you then? You can't keep being unknown supercop, that's for sure."

I nod at him, bombarded with images of the Bionic Man and Blair on a talk show, never letting the host get a word in edgewise.

"And that's just the dissertation. That's just the beginning. Then come the really big questions. Like, are you my life's work? Would you want to be? Am I really going to be an anthropologist? Because anthropologists travel, and write, and research, and teach, and stay current on journals and give lectures and I've only done two of those things in the last three years and none of it's current. So what if I start out and I'm already behind?"

I didn't know it was all that complicated.

He spits out one more nugget. "So then I think, well, fine, I'll just do something else. But I can never think what."

He's winding down.

I asked for it. I wanted him to talk, and he did. But I have no idea what to say back to him. Not a clue of what I could say to reassure him, or even just make him feel better.

Not a fucking clue.


Man, it feels like I just threw up all over the couch. Like there was some nasty bacterial thing down deep in my gut that had to be puked up before I'd start to feel better. At least the only cleanup required is verbal. Give me a minute to recover from that total tsunami of anxiety and I'll work on back-tracking so he doesn't go jump off the balcony.

He's up and pacing. See? I told you we'd switched places.

"Jim, man, sit down," I tell him and I put my hands up, to show him I'm done with the damn list.

He perches on the back of the couch. Good enough.

"Look, you know me and my mouth. Stuff just comes out. That was like three years worth of accumulated worry. It's not like I sit at the table every morning and worry about where I'm going to be when I'm fifty."

"I do," he says.

"You do what?"

"I worry about what I'll be doing when I'm fifty. Whether you'll still be here. What you'll be doing. All of it."

"Well, shit, man, aren't we a pair," I tell him, and strangely enough, that makes both of us laugh a little. I guess if we're going to be sorryass fretters, the least we can do is do it together.

"What happened to the 'take it as it comes' philosophy?" I ask him.

"Lasted about a day," he says, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands.

"I did better than that," I tell him. "I think I made it a week."

He drops back over the couch, so his back's on the seat and his legs are over the back and his head's hanging down toward the floor. It's a very non-Jim thing to do. "We're fucked," he says.

"Only if we think we are," I point out.

"What do you mean?" he says, and I lean over so I can see his face. I'm looking at the underside of his chin, which I haven't paid much attention to before. It's nice. It looks just a little bit soft and I can see his pulse beating. It's like watching him sleep, I guess. Seeing some little vulnerable part of him that he probably doesn't know about.

"I think we both just need to get over this negative thinking trip we're on," I tell him. I'm convincing him and myself at the same time. "I mean, really, you could get shot and I could get run over by a bus tomorrow and then wouldn't we feel stupid for wasting all this time worrying about stuff."

He puts his hands behind his head and where his shirt's ridden up I can see the lines of muscle in his stomach. That's got to be the best looking six-pack on the West coast.

And it's mine, all mine.

"Seize the day, Sandburg, is that it?" he says.

"Bingo, man. Carpe fucking diem."

"Sounds irresponsible," he says, but he's squirming around, trying to get comfortable, and if his shirt's riding high, his sweats are riding low and I can see that little soft spot just below his belly button, where the hair starts. I'm starting to lose track of the conversation. We are, after all, within touching distance, so it's not entirely my fault.

"Sounds reasonable, at least in our case. We're not normal, Jim," I tell him, and I've got a finger out now, tracing down the line from his navel to his sweatpants.

"And that's reassuring because?" he asks, and he arches his back a little, driving those sweats down one more critical inch.

"Well, in some ways, it means we don't have to follow the rules," I say, feeling better now that he's stretched out here, sleek and willing, in front of me. Whatever other problems we have to face, this isn't going to be one of them. When I'm seventy, I'll be popping Viagra and bending him over his walker.

"Blair?" he asks, and he sounds a little strangled.


"Can we talk about this later?"

"Sure thing."

I'm not distracting him on purpose, really I'm not. But I think we've said what we have to say, don't you? It's not like we're going to come up with any earth-shattering insights now, tonight. We just got thrown a big fat honkin' curveball by the Fates and it's up to us to either get gut-punched by it or smack a linedrive right up into the centerfield bleachers.

I've come to the conclusion in the last couple years that there's nothing Jim and I can't do, as long as we do it together. I know that sounds simplistic and maybe even naive, but circumstances have borne this out. We do better together. He's a better cop because of me. And whatever I'm going to be will be better because of him.

So you see, it's not a problem, exactly. And there's certainly no solution.

It just is what it is.

We'll deal, one rainy day at a time, just like always.


He did it again. After months of this, I should be able to resist a Blair full-out frontal assault. But I can't. You think I let him get away with stuff around the loft? That's nothing compared to what he gets away with around my body. This is a weird position I'm in. The blood's all rushed to my head and my knees are hanging over the back of the couch and if he decides to tickle me to death, there's probably very little I could do to stop him.

That's not what he has in mind, though. No, that's not it. I can feel all the tension our little talk brought up sliding away, just seeping right out of me. He's running his hands hard down my sides, his thumbs meeting in the middle. He's riding his thumbs over my stomach like it's a trail.

So much for talking. Thinking'll be the next thing to go.

Still, we made progress. It's a start. Maybe he's right and there's no solution, but that won't keep me from trying. And at least it's out in the open, where we can turn it over and look at it from all the angles. He's so used to doing for himself that I'll just have to keep reminding him there's two of us now, and two heads have to be better than one, right?

The kid has a right to his own life. I confiscated it, and even if he's a willing hostage, the time will come when what I need will have to take the backseat for awhile. In the meantime, I'll see if I can't figure out some way to get some extra hours in his week. Maybe I'll pay one of the interns to do some of the paperwork he took over. That'd buy him a couple more research hours a week.

Maybe I'll—

Oh, shit, Blair, what are you—

He's doing the hair thing again.

This time he's got a whole hunk of his hair and he's wrapping it around my dick with his hand and now he's pumping, hair and all. Last time I didn't even get to enjoy it. I was so shocked and unbelievably aroused by it, and where we were, and the fact that even when he's mad, he wants me, that I just lost it and came, without any ceremony. I'll see if I can't make this better for him.


I know this is supposed to turn him on, but can I just say it's doing it for me, too? Bigtime. Maybe homosexual love is partly self-love. You know, I'd love to give myself a blowjob, but unless you're a contortionist, that's like a physical impossibility, and I can barely do a cartwheel, let alone get my chin under my balls. I guess the self-love aspect comes in because the geography's basically the same. But Jim's terrain is all different. It's that diametric opposition thing coming into play again. In the male genre, Jim and I are the opposite ends of the scale, I think. Even though we have the same equipment, it's been just as cool to learn him as it's always been to find out what a woman smells like, or how her ass fits in my hand.

There's something really cool about holding on to someone else's dick. When you think about it, a penis is a pretty powerful tool: It helps excrete toxins; it makes babies; it gives pleasure. That's a lot of life-giving stuff for six inches of muscle and a few veins.

I spent so much of my life having sex with women that I never gave The Penis much thought. And women have their own set of miraculous parts—babies come out the same place I go in—how freaky is that? And they can feed them with the same breasts I like to rub and play with and lick.

Pretty stupendous stuff, the human body.

So women have their own kind of beauty. So do men. So does one man in particular. And though I don't have a lot to compare it to, this one man has one beautiful dick. Long, strong, hard, a nice pure straight column that's hot, hot, hot against my neck, under my hair, under my hand.

From this angle, he's just a torso. His head's way far away, hanging off the couch, so he's just a chest and a belly and this gorgeous dick. I can hear him, and I can see his ribs heaving, he's breathing so hard, and if I could see his face, I know he'd have his eyes screwed up tight and his mouth open. Even without seeing, I know he's into this.

"You like that, Jim?" I whisper, and I know he can hear me. Oh man, it's like being able to talk and blow him, all at the same time. It's the same sort of feeling; my face down here in his crotch, his hands reaching out to hang onto my shoulders, but I can still talk to him.

He makes that strangled sound again, and he starts moving faster, bringing his hips way up off the couch now, digging his fingers into my shoulders. I just hold my head still, and my hand still, and let him slide around however he wants.

"Yeah, you like it," I tell him. How's it feel? Kind of soft, right? Like a bunch of dry little tongues, right?"

Can I just tell you that I can get myself off like this, too? Yup, I can talk myself right into oblivion.

He's groping me, trying to get to skin, and I hunch forward and try to help him, taking his hand and putting it down between my legs. Neither one of us is willing to press pause long enough to get my jeans undone, so we're just going to have to settle for the wrapped package. Works for me.

"Blair," he whispers, but I know he's not trying to tell me anything. He says my name like that when he's getting there, getting close. I can feel dribbles starting, and I love it that he can let himself do this, let himself kink out for a minute or two and just enjoy it. He's rubbing me hard, which is good, and I'm trying to stretch out a little so he can get to more of me, but this little tryst is well on its way to over at this point, weird angles and all.

He gasps a little bit when it hits him and I clamp down on him so I can feel it when he comes, feel him swell up that last bit and jerk in my hand, feel the gunk come streaming out all over my hair, into my hand, onto my neck. I'm right behind him, soaking my jeans, pushing myself into the palm of his hand to get whatever last bit of sensation he can give me.

Yeah, we're doing fine, buddy.

You just let me know the next time you want to have a little talk.


Blair's going to kill me one of these days. My last thought will be something along the lines of 'Oh my God, that feels good,' and then I'll stroke out and leave him with a corpse and a mess to clean up.

It probably doesn't help that all the blood that's not in my dick is up in my head. He reaches a hand down and helps pull me up. Now we're both stretched out on the couch, his feet under my butt, mine up around his chin somewhere. He's poking the bottoms of my toes, grinning.

Weird kid.

"Don't get it on the couch," I tell him, pointing to where his head's leaning against the arm of the sofa.

"Don't get it on the couch? We have mind-blowing kinky sex and all you can say, 'Don't get it on the couch?'" He's shaking his head. "You are so predictable." I could take offense to that, but I know he's just teasing, and besides, it's true. I'm predictable, and he's not. It's just one more thing that keeps us on our toes.

"Come on, Chief, let's wash that out before it turns to glue," I say, straddling him and then pushing myself off the couch. Everything goes black. I stood up way too fast and I think if he hadn't been paying attention, I probably would have toppled over like a big pine tree. But he's right there, grabbing my elbows, holding me up straight.

"Shower?" I ask, as he's heading into the kitchen. Maybe I'm not the only light-headed one.

"Sink," he says.

Sink? As in kitchen sink? I don't say anything, but he knows anyway, and he quirks an eyebrow at me.

"Got a problem with that?" he asks.

"Sink's fine," I say, and he grins at how not fine it sounds the way I say it.

He's running the water now, testing the temperature and sticking his whole head under. I wonder if long hair will make the garbage disposal seize up. He's lathering up with the Dial antibacterial soap we keep on the counter, getting suds all over everywhere.

I go lean on the counter next to him and watch the water running down his upside-down face.

"Have you ever done anything conventional in your life, Chief?"

"I went to college," he says, and he sounds a little huffy.

"At sixteen. And you finished in three years."

"I've lived by myself, paid my own bills, all that," he offers.

"You lived in a warehouse, with a monkey, next to a drug dealer," I remind him.

"Like that was my fault," he snorts, but he concedes the point.

"So, what are you getting at?" he asks, turning off the water and reaching out for a towel. I sigh and go get one for him from the bathroom and he scrubs at his hair. He goes to sit on the kitchen table, still rubbing the towel over his head, and I go stand in front of him.

"I just think you'll probably never be a conventional anthropologist," I tell him. "You seem to go your own way all the time, and I don't see why your career should be any different."

"But that's just how it happens. It's not like a goal I strive for," he tells me, and I'm sure that's true. "There's real appeal in the idea of sticking with societal norms. I just haven't had much practice, that's all."

That's an understatement. I can see why part of him would want a normal life—he certainly hasn't had one up to this point. Just when he got to the point where he might have, he met me, and now he's probably the only anthropology student in the whole country who can put on a Kevlar vest in under two minutes.

"Blair, I don't think you were designed for a normal life," I tell him, and hearing it said flat out like that makes it sound worse than I intended.

Fortunately, he takes it well. He drapes the towel over his shoulders and pops me in the arm. "That's what I've been telling you, man," he says. "You just never listen to me."

If only he knew.

He hops off the table and heads into the bathroom. "I'm taking a shower. Want to join me?"

"Now you're taking a shower?" I ask.

He points to his crotch. "Uh, yeah, I'm not going to bed with this mess."

"So what was the deal with the sink?" I really don't understand him sometimes.

"Just seeing if I could get away with it," he says, and he has the balls to wink at me.

I'll throttle him later. Right now, it's just good to have my Blair back.

The one who can destroy the kitchen in three easy steps.

The one who manages to take monumental problems and make them sound like just another item on the agenda.

The one who gets up on the right side of the bed every day.

The right side of my bed.

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