scribblinlenore: (General: Classic Slasher)
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Cock Tease, Part Two
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairing: Jim/Blair
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Blair's in love with the world, and Jim's losing control.

Cock Tease, Part Two

In the truck, Blair closed his eyes, stretched his legs out, and rested his head against the back of the seat. He wasn't used to staying mad at Jim; it was seriously draining. This whole week had really sucked. He would turn around to tell Jim something, and then suddenly remember he wasn't speaking to him. Jim would instinctively reach out to touch him the way he always did, and Blair would involuntarily flinch. Then, of course, Jim would yank his hand back and look like he'd just been punched in the gut.And some people might have taken a spiteful enjoyment in that, might have felt it was Jim's rightful comeuppance. Just a week ago, maybe Blair kind of thought so, too. But now, he was sick to death of the whole thing. And today, with Jim going into a mini, mumbling quasi zone out right in the middle of the bullpen, when he hadn't done anything remotely like that in years-- well, that was the final straw.

He figured spending a quiet evening at home, doing the same thing they had been planning the night Jim went all cave-sentinel on him, was a good place to start. They could have-- what did they call it in kids' games?-- a do-over. Yeah, that's exactly what they needed. They could calm down, veg out, and get their equilibrium back. And then start figuring out exactly what had happened and how they could prevent it the next time.

At the loft, Jim parked, and they went upstairs. Jim phoned for the pizza. Blair went to his room and changed into sweats. Then he headed to the kitchen for a couple of beers. He joined Jim on the sofa and handed him one of the bottles. Blair flipped on the set and tuned in the TV Guide channel. Jim rolled his eyes.

"It's just--" Blair started to say.

Jim held up a hand. "I know. To make sure."

Blair smiled. "Right."

Jim smiled back at him. But then neither of them seemed to know what to say next. Jim sipped his beer thoughtfully, staring into space. Blair drank too, in awkward gulps. The quiet sounded strangely large and a little ominous. It made him jumpy. Blair's palms felt clammy, and his heart was beating too fast. He knew Jim would hear it, and that just made him more nervous. He hated that. He'd never felt this uncomfortable with Jim, ever, not even that first day when Jim had been so scared and cornered that he'd slammed Blair up against the wall. But Blair had understood that, and he didn't get this at all. It scared the shit out of him.

"I don't know why," Jim said quietly, as if he'd been reading Blair's thoughts. "But I am sorry."

Blair nodded. "I know you are. I'm sorry, too."

Jim frowned. "For what?"

"I knew it must be some sentinel thing. I should have--" He shook his head.

"I just want you to know. I wouldn't--" Jim said, earnestly. "Not in my right mind. Ever. I swear to God."

"I know that, Jim." Blair held Jim's eye, so he would believe it. "But do you have any idea-- You know, what the trigger might have been?"

Jim's gaze slid away from his. "Uh, no. No, I don't."

"You called me a cock tease."

Jim turned red. "Yeah, I know. Look, Blair. I'm sorry about that. Really. I just-- I don't know. I guess I'm kind of fucked up, you know?"

It didn't take a genius to see that Jim knew more than he was saying, and Blair's generousness of spirit started to fade.

"You're fucked up?" he said. "That's the best you can do?"

Jim shifted uncomfortably. "Well, yeah."

"Jim, here's a news flash. You've been fucked up since the day I first met you. And you never once, before last Thursday, tried to get into my pants because of it. So, clearly, there's something more going on with this than the simple fact that you are fucked up."

Jim's jaw tightened. "And you think you're not fucked up, Sandburg?"

"We weren't talking about me."

"Because you are," Jim said. "Trust me. I should know."

"Oh, yeah?" Blair said. "You mean because of all that nonsense they like to dish out down at the station about my track record with women? Is that how you came up with that flattering little table leg comment? Or that I'm a cock tease? Hmm? Well, you should know by now not to take that kind of bullshit seriously."

Jim's face flushed with anger. "I don't need anybody to tell me anything. I know all about you, Sandburg. All about your-- your-- proclivities."

"Proclivities? What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Blair demanded.

"It means you don't have any secrets from me."

Blair blinked. Jim really couldn't mean--

"Are you saying you've been using your senses on me like some kind of voyeuristic asshole?"

Jim did at least have the good grace to blush.

"I can not believe you, man. That's just-- Hell, I don't even know what to call it. Fucked up, I guess is really the only thing that describes it. Seems you had it right, Jim. You are one sick ass mother fucker."

Jim stood up, enraged. "Yeah? Well, at least I don't want to fuck absolutely everybody I come into contact with, including my eighty year old next door neighbor!"

Blair scrambled off the sofa. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Are you just being an insulting asshole? Or have you lost your mind completely?"

"Go on. Lie to yourself, Sandburg, like you always do. But you can't lie to a sentinel. You should know that by now."

"I cannot believe--"

The doorbell rang.

"Shit!" Blair said. "That's the damned food."


"Okay. Coming," Blair yelled to the delivery boy.

He turned to Jim. "Let's just--" He waved his hand. "Chill out, man. Okay? We said we were going to eat dinner and watch the game. So let's just do that. We can talk about this later when we're calmer. All right?"

Jim nodded grimly. "Yeah. Okay."

"Right. So I got this." He fished for his wallet in his backpack.

"I can get it," Jim offered.

Blair held up his hand. "I said I would."

"Fine," Jim said, tightly.


Blair dug out his wallet. He opened the door for the delivery boy.

"Ellison?" the boy asked.

"Yeah," Blair said. "What do we owe you?"

"Twelve dollars," the kid said.

Blair pulled out of some cash. A weird buzz went up his spine. He realized it was Jim, watching him, using his senses. Blair wondered how the hell he could have missed that. It wasn't exactly subtle. But then, as he thought about it, it seemed like maybe he had felt something like this before, quite a lot actually, only it was such an underlying part of his day that he'd never stopped to examine it. And then--he blushed to realize--he hadn't exactly found it unpleasant, so there had been no real impetus to analyze it too closely.

"Okay, here you--"

Jim abruptly snatched the money out of his hand, threw it into the hallway and grabbed the pizza.

"What the--" the delivery boy started to say.

Jim slammed the door in his face and locked it. He threw the pizza box on the floor and took a step toward Blair.

Blair backed away. "Hey, Jim, man, we just said we were going to chill. Let's not start anything--"

His sentence ended with a squeak as Jim lunged for him, put a death grip on his shoulders, and stuck his tongue into his mouth. So much for pizza and baseball, Blair thought.

At least it was less disconcerting this time--the groping, the neck biting, the speed with which he was completely divested of his clothes. Blair landed on his back on the sofa, and Jim quickly straddled him. Jim kissed him, put his hands all over him, humped frantically against his thigh. And again, Blair just couldn't help himself. He kissed Jim back. He couldn't seem to touch him enough. His hard-on throbbed eagerly, leaving a slick trail on Jim's hip.

And this, Blair finally understood, was the maddening part. The voice inside him had been right all along. It wasn't Jim he was angry with. Who could be angry with Jim under the circumstances? This wasn't his fault. Oh, no. The Sentinel of the Great City had conveniently lost his mind while all the shit was going down, and Blair was left alone to take the fall. He resented it, bitterly, because he had no easy excuse, no primal dementia to blame for his part in this.

No, he was just a horny bastard--a selfish, thoughtless, irresponsible horny bastard, making a mess out of the most important thing in his life.

And he fucking hated that. He'd always hated it, he realized. He'd spent his entire adult life--and really, a good enough part of his childhood--trying to set boundaries and keep them. For as long as he could remember, he'd been formulating who he wanted to be and how he wanted to live. It wasn't an inflexible life plan. He believed in change the way some people believed in religion. His code of honor was always being revised, from week to week, even moment to moment. It was just really important to him to make sure he ended up the person he intended to be, not some accident of chaos.

This was why he had lived in the same city for fourteen years, instead of gadding about like a hapless moth. He wanted to be able to point to a circle on a map and say: I am a citizen of Cascade, Washington. It was why he had devoted himself so whole-heartedly to his studies. So he could say: I am a student, a teacher, a scholar. And most all, it was why he had stuck so stubbornly with Jim, even when Jim was less than enthused about it. Because he was Jim's guide, his friend, his partner. It defined him, made him accountable, and he liked that. He needed it. Because the last thing he wanted to be was a train wreck barreling through people's lives, leaving behind one disaster after another, without slowing down long enough even to notice.

The last thing he wanted to be was Naomi.

Shit! He balled his fists into Jim's shirt. Where the hell had that come from? He'd spent years on the analyst's couch waiting for a breakthrough on his conflicted feelings about his mother. Well, screw therapy. Groping Jim was clearly a lot more beneficial.

Because suddenly it was all rushing back to him. The time in Las Cruces when Naomi had the idea to start a meditation center and talked a local women's group into helping with the project. The day after it opened, she declared her work done. There was some yogi visiting an ashram in upstate New York and she just had to meet him. Blair could still remember the look on those other women's faces, left in the lurch to manage Naomi's dream.

It was not much different with the feminist bookstore in San Diego or the organic food co-op in Greensboro or that paint-your-own-pottery place in Duluth.

But the people. God. Each one left a separate pain.

There was Blair's fifth grade science teacher in that little town in Ohio. He'd stayed after school almost every day, helping Blair with a study of the communal structures of an ant colony, his project for the end-of-year science fair. Blair made the mistake of talking about it just a little too much, and Naomi got it into her head that she had to meet the man who was being so kind to her son. Soon, the teacher was coming to their house in the afternoons, and Blair started to look at his experiment with approaching regret. When Naomi decided it was over and time to go, the teacher patted Blair on the head, a sad look in his eyes. Blair's project was left in a corner of the classroom, so the other kids could look after his ants for him. Two more weeks, and he might actually have won that damned science fair.

He remembered a woman too, although he couldn't recall her name anymore. She was Naomi's best friend. Blair had called her his aunt. He could still picture her long dark hair and the way her smile lit up her face. Whenever Naomi talked about her, she said things about sisterhood and kindred spirits and pure connections, and Blair had thought maybe this was something, at last.

But then he began to realize that his aunt's bed was never rumpled in the mornings, and Naomi started going on about experimentation and opening up new chakras and how personal orientation could be a powerful political stand against the establishment. She always said it with a dreamy smile, but Blair knew better. He knew. And soon enough, there were the familiar raised voices in the middle of the night and the dark looks over the breakfast table. He remembered the woman, his lost aunt, watching out the window as he and Naomi got into a taxi and drove away. Her long hair hung in her face, but it couldn't hide that she was crying.

And there were so very, very many more that they had all blurred together until they weren't even memories anymore. Until now. Until this.

Blair understood everything so much better. No wonder he'd tried to be so damned careful. No wonder he had his rules. Don't let yourself be important to people if you're not going to let them be important to you. It's why he never went on a fifth date with any of the women he chased. Four dates, and you were still getting to know one another, still taking a test drive. You could go on four dates with someone in good conscience, even if you had no intention of ever loving them. Just never that fifth. He'd been absolutely scrupulous about it.

About so many things. He followed his own rules to the last letter. Don't experiment with what's important to you. Don't risk what you prize. Don't cross those invisible lines. Don't make a mess. Don't start what you can't finish.

He'd been so very cautious, ever since that first day when Jim had come to see him, when he realized how utterly enormous the whole sentinel thing was, how lost and vulnerable Jim was. Blair knew he was the only person who would ever really understand what Jim was or how to help him, and he took that on as a sacred responsibility, with all the ethical rectitude of an anthropologist, all the loving consideration of a friend.

He'd been so meticulous about honoring the boundaries and keeping his hands off.

But now, it was Jim who was all over him. Blair could feel all those years of vigilance slipping away. Maybe the first time could be written off as a fluke, as an accident, but the second-- well, this was clearly a choice. It was his decision not to push Jim away. It was his fault that he was moaning Jim's name, not yelling for him to stop. He was letting Jim kiss the insides of his thighs, letting him rub his cheek against his hip, letting him touch his cock. Because it might be wrong, but, God, it felt so damned good.

He'd been so careful, for so long, for nothing.

Jim flicked his tongue across the head of Blair's cock. Blair couldn't help himself--he shrieked with pleasure. Jim made a growling sound of appreciation in the back of his throat, bent his head over Blair's body, snaked his hand into his own underwear, and went to work in earnest.

Jim's great heaving gulps made it perfectly clear that he had absolutely no idea what he was doing. Blair squeezed his eyes shut as hard as he could, and the after-image was a daisy chain of fifth-grade teachers and aunts with long black hair and all the other irretrievable losses. Soon--he was certain--Jim would be added to that sad list. Because there were things you could pretend never happened and things you could never forget. And this was all going too far. Too damned far. Jim was never going to forgive him, not for this.

Blair made one last, flailing attempt to get away, one final effort to salvage everything that had ever mattered to him. But Jim held him down, his fingers digging into Blair's hip. Jim was determined, and Blair just didn't have the will. He put his hand on Jim's head, but he couldn't bring himself to push him away. Instead, he cradled him and stroked his hair. He gasped for breath, and his belly started to tremble. He was so close.

"Jim! Stop!"

Blair wanted to spare him this, at least. But Jim held tight and sucked him more desperately.

Blair thrashed his head. "No!" he wailed. "Stop! I'm coming. I can't-- Oh, God."

But it was too late. His balls tightened. His stomach lurched. His vision darkened. And he was coming. In Jim's mouth.

"Fuck!" Blair screamed.

Jim jerked back. He sputtered and coughed. Come flew out his nose. His eyes went wide. He backed away.

"Jim!" Blair reached out for him.

But Jim just stared at him, dazed and terrified.

"Please!" Blair begged.

Jim turned and lurched for the door. He threw it open on its hinges and fled. It took a while for Blair to find the strength to pull himself up from the couch and go close the door. But that was all he had the energy to do. He sank to the floor and rested his head against the cool wall.

Maybe there just wasn't enough carefulness in the world. Maybe it was simply a matter of genes, not choice. Maybe he just was Naomi, whether he wanted to be or not.

Jim drove the way drunks did, too slowly, taking each turn with exaggerated care, overcompensating because he knew he really shouldn't be behind the wheel. But he had to get away. He had to do something, and he was too shaky to walk.This can't be happening. Not again.

The stoplight turned red. Jim braked. His head pounded, and he closed his eyes against the pain. But the image on the inside of his eyelids was a black and white photo negative of Blair the way Jim had just left him, flung onto the sofa, dark marks in the shape of fingers on his hips, where Jim had--

His eyes flew open. The light turned green. He stomped hard on the accelerator and took off with a lurch and the sharp squeal of tires.

God. What the fuck was wrong with him? Once might have been a fluke. Once might have been forgivable. But twice?

Jim had never before seriously entertained the possibility that he might be going mad. Even when the senses came roaring back, he always, somehow, believed there was an explanation, even if he had despaired of ever figuring out what it was. This ultimate belief in his sanity had impelled him to keep seeking out doctors who might be able to help him. It kept him hoping for a brain lesion or a freakish deficiency of some mysterious micronutrient he hadn't even known people needed. Something. Anything. Because he wasn't fruit loops. Really. Deep in his heart, he was certain of that.

And so, even when the would-be Dr. McCoy couldn't pronounce his own name, he'd still accepted that business card. He'd sat there on the exam room table, staring at the name on that little piece of cardstock like he was holding salvation in his hand. As soon as he could, he went searching for that person, for the one who might be able to save him. And found Blair.

Because he knew he wasn't crazy.

The cell phone rang, and it made Jim jump, even though it must have been the tenth time it had rung since he'd left the loft. He shrugged off his jacket, balled it up around the phone and tossed it into the passenger side floorboard. He hoped that might muffle the sound a little. He was already jittery enough, and the loud mechanical chirping was unraveling the last little remnant of his composure. He couldn't answer it, though. He wasn't ready to talk to Blair yet. But he couldn't bring himself to shut the phone off, either. That would be definitive in some way, and he hadn't decided anything.

God, he was just barely holding together. He couldn't have fraught, possibly life-altering conversations right now. He couldn't handle symbolic gestures that hinted of finality. He just wanted to drive and have the world mark time, as selfish as that might be, until he was ready, until he could breathe again.

Until he'd figured out if he had finally, after everything, gone loony.

Insanity wasn't even the most terrifying possibility. If he wasn't insane, then maybe these episodes were simply an excuse his subconscious had dreamed up so he could do whatever he wanted and get a free ride. Because that's exactly what Blair would ultimately give him. He would never hold him responsible for some sentinel freak out, not for long. No, Blair would do what he always did. He'd pull out every book he owned and roll up his sleeves and get down to work. He'd figure out some way that this wasn't Jim's fault. And if Jim consciously realized that, then his subconscious must know it too, his cagey, Machiavellian subconscious that he'd never given nearly enough credit.

But, God, had he really wanted that? Had he wanted to-- Just say it! Hold Blair down and leave bruises and suck him off against his will? He couldn't really want that, could he? He wasn't that fucked up, surely?

He wanted to believe it was impossible. He would have paid money for it to be impossible. But the fact was that he had wanted men before. In an Army life, you had to take your comforts where you could find them. He hadn't understood that when he first joined up. He hadn't realized he was only trading one kind of loneliness for another. He'd never imagined they'd be confined to base for such long stretches of time, weeks or even months on end, on alert for some mission that might or might not materialize.

The only way he'd made through all those endless days was to melt into the shadows out behind the barracks with one of his squad mates. The sex was very Army-like, no frills, no romance, just enough to suffice, enough to help him remember what it meant to be human. It was much more charged when they were actually sent away on missions. Then, a touch might be the last thing you could ever give someone, the last thing anyone might ever give you. There was a simple, dire urgency to every encounter.

But with Blair-- God. Everything was so confusing. Jim didn't know who he was anymore. He was driving around in circles like someone who had no idea what he was doing with his life. He could still taste Blair's come in his mouth. His whole life, he'd never once taken another man's cock in his mouth, no matter how lonely or desperate he'd been. But with Blair-- He'd wanted it so much. He'd wanted it enough to use force to get it.

And now, God help him, he didn't want to let it go. It wasn't just some oversight that kept him from going through the McDonald's drive-thru to get coffee or stopping off at the Walgreen's for Listerine. He had no intention of getting rid of the memory of Blair in his mouth. Because he liked it. He liked Blair. More than liked him. And he always had.

It had killed him that Blair seemed to want everybody--everybody but him. Was that enough to drive a person to the brink? Had he gone mad from constant, low-grade longing?

His cell phone buzzed insistently from inside the swaddling of his jacket. He couldn't take it anymore. He jerked the truck over to the side of the road and parked. He dug the phone out and answered it.


"Jim?" Blair sounded tentative and very, very far away.


"Um-- Where are you, man?"

Jim looked around. He couldn't find a street sign.

"I don't know," he said.

"Well, don't you think maybe it would be a good idea to come home now?"



"You have to go." It came out harshly. He didn't mean it that way. He just hated the idea so much. "I'm sorry," he said more gently. "It's not you. It's-- I don't know what it is. But it can't go on. I can't go on. Doing that-- To you-- God."

"Jim." Blair's voice was much firmer now, even commanding. "I'm not going anywhere. Come home. We have to talk."

"No, Blair--"

"Yes, Jim--"

"I'm a lunatic!" he blurted out.

"No, you're not!" And then more kindly, "You're not."

"How do you know?"

"I know."

"I don't know. So how could you possibly--"

Blair sighed in his ear. "Look, I just do. Okay?"

"I don't think I can trust myself."

Jim's eyes burned. His throat hurt. This might very well be the worst day of his life. And that was saying something.

"Yes, you can," Blair said. "Come home. We'll talk. It'll be okay. I swear."

"Chief, I really don't--"

"Get your ass home right this minute, Jim. Or I swear to God I'll track you the fuck down and drag you back to the loft myself."

The phone went dead in his ear. He stared at it a moment, a little flummoxed. Shouldn't a smart guy like Blair have figured out what Jim's evil mastermind of a subconscious had been up to? Shouldn't Blair hate his guts already?

Now Jim was even more confused than ever, too confused to figure out a course of action for himself. That left only one idea on the table, and listening to Blair had become something of a habit over the years. He started the truck and headed for home.

Blair could not decide where to sit or what to do while he waited for Jim. He wanted to seem non-threatening when Jim arrived home, but not like he didn't care. Because, really, when had he ever cared so much?Nothing felt quite right. He tried sitting at the dining table, but he didn't want Jim to feel like he was being ambushed the minute he came through the door. He curled up on his bed with an anthro journal, but he thought maybe that seemed like he wasn't taking this seriously. And, God, he was. He really was. When had anything ever been more important? So that ruled out lying on the sofa. It was definitely too casual. Maybe standing by the balcony doors?

He was still pacing around the living room trying to find the perfect spot when he heard the rattle of the doorknob. He froze. The door swung open, and Jim stepped inside. When he saw Blair standing there, he froze, too.

"Are you okay, man?" Blair asked.

Jim didn't say anything. He looked ready to bolt.

Blair felt a flash of panic. "Why don't we sit down and talk, huh?" he suggested as calmly as he could.

He circled around the sofa and took a seat.

"Come on, Jim. I'm not going to bite."

"Is that supposed to be funny?" Jim asked, his face flashing with hurt.

"God. No. Sorry. Look, I'm nervous, okay? I really don't know the right thing to say. I just know it's important for us not to let this weirdness keep snowballing, all right?"

Jim studied him. "Yeah. Okay," he said.

"So sit down, huh?"

It took Jim a while to unstick himself from his place by the door, but he did finally shuffle over to the couch. He sat jammed up against the arm, as far away from Blair as he could get.

"I, uh-- " Blair twisted his hands in his lap. How exactly did you apologize to someone for coming in his mouth? "I was worried about you. The way you left--"

"I had to get out. Get some air."

Blair nodded. "Yeah. I got that. I also got that maybe this was your first-- Well, you know."

"Sandburg, I swear to God. Don't go there."

"All I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry. I shouldn't have. Really."

Jim shook his head. "No. No, I'm sorry. I'm the one who shouldn't have. Not ever. Certainly not again."

"Come on, Jim. It wasn't-- I didn't exactly fight it off."

"I don't know what's wrong with me. I just couldn't seem to help--" And then Jim stopped and stared at him. "Wait. What did you just say?"

Blair colored. "Uh-- Never mind. Look, we're both sorry about what happened. Let's just leave it at that. We need to move past the guilt and start asking ourselves some questions. So we can figure this out. Okay?"

"Yeah. Okay. So I've got a question for you. What did you mean you weren't exactly fighting it?"

"Uh-- Well-- You know-- I don't really think that's the best place to start. We need to go back to the beginning, to that first night. To what you said." He cleared his throat. "You know, about me being a cock tease."

"Oh, no, Sandburg, no you don't," Jim said. "That's bullshit. You don't have to answer my question, but I'm supposed to-- what? Just splay open a vein?"

"Hey, that is how it all started."

"Like hell it did, libido boy. It started with you going all hot and swampy over absolutely everyone you ever come into contact with. I just got sick of trying to ignore it."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"And pungent, too. Let's not forget pungent."

"Hot, swampy, and pungent? That's what you're saying set you off?"

"Yes. It is."

"O-kay. So let's just pretend for a moment that's not the most insulting and stupid thing I've ever heard. How exactly does hot, swampy and pungent translate into your mauling me? Huh? What the hell does one thing have to do with the other?"

Jim looked down at the rug. His ears turned bright red. Blair frowned. Jim only looked like that when--

"Oh, my God," he said.

"Don't freak out," Jim said. "Okay? Just don't freak out."

"I can't believe--"

What was wrong with him? How had he managed to overlook the most glaringly obvious explanation of all?

"It doesn't have to be some big traumatic deal," Jim said. He was sweating. "I swear--"

"God damn, I'm stupid."

"Look, I'm sorry. I can't help it. But nothing has to change. Honestly--"

"And, you're really not all that bright either, Jim."

"We can just go on like before-- Hey!" Jim glared at him. "Watch it, Sandburg. I'm sorry my having a thing for you makes you uncomfortable, but that doesn't give you the right to insult me."

Blair smiled. "So you have a thing for me, huh?"

"Don't be flippant. Not about this."

"You don't think maybe I have a thing for you, too?" Blair asked.

Jim snorted. "Sandburg, you have a thing for the whole damned world."

Blair shook his head. "You're wrong."

"No, I'm not. I'm a sentinel. I know what I know."

"I'm not arguing with your observations. Just the way you're interpreting them."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means it's not the other people."

"I'm going to need a little more help than that."

Blair slid over beside Jim and took his hand. "It's not the other people I've been reacting to. All those responses you keep sensing-- Think about the situations. What's the one common denominator?"

"You're with humans?" Jim ventured.

Blair whacked him on the shoulder. "You don't be flip, either. Focus. This is important."

"Look, I really don't know what you expect me to say."

Blair sighed. "Fine. I'll tell you. It's you. You're the common denominator, Jim. I just never realized it-- Well, wouldn't let myself realize it. For kind of fucked up reasons. I see that now. Did I ever mention that Naomi wouldn't know a boundary if she fell over one?"

"Blair, what does your mother have to do with this?"

"Nothing. Everything. It involves psychotherapy. You don't really want to hear about that right now, do you?"

"Honestly? No. Not right now. Could we get back to the part where I'm the common denominator?"

"Yeah, well, you are. Always have been. Only I wasn't consciously aware of it. And then tonight I was paying the pizza boy, and I felt this-- man, like the mother of all chills go up my spine. And I realized, hey, I know this. This has happened before. It's happened a lot. So even though I don't go around actually thinking wow, Jim is scoping me out with his senses, there is some part of me that knows it's happening. And, well, kind of-- you know, gets off on it."

"Wait. So you're saying you know when I-- And that's why you--"

"Yeah. And that's why I wasn't fighting it."

Jim squeezed Blair's hand. "It's me. Not them. Me."

"Only you."

"Oh, God." Jim hugged him hard. "It's me. It's me!"

Blair smiled into the armpit where Jim had him quashed. "Yeah, man. I love you, too."

Jim buried his face in Blair's neck. "I make you all shimmery. I make you smell like this. That's just so fucking, fucking fantastic." Jim held him tightly. "And that means there's nothing wrong with me. I don't have a pathological subconscious. I just want you. And you want me. And there's nothing crazy about that."

"Told you," Blair said.

"I really didn't want to be crazy," Jim admitted. "Crazy sucks."

"I hear that."

"I didn't want you to move out, either."

Blair snorted. "Like that was ever going to happen."

"Does this mean I can take you to bed?" Jim asked. "You know, properly?"

"Yes," Blair said. "And it also means that I get to do this without having to feel guilty about it."

He put a hand on Jim's face, tilted his chin and kissed him. Jim's breath was warm, and his lips were both patient and inquisitive. Jim touched his hair, stroked the back of his neck with his thumb, and it was gentle, kind. It was the way Blair had always imagined it, the way he had always wanted it to be. It pointed out the one thing he had never taken into consideration when working out his life code. He'd quite overlooked the fact that love was the exception to pretty much every rule. It had its own urgencies, and sometimes boundaries went by the wayside. But that was okay, because if it was really love, then it had an honor all its own.

Blair pulled back from the kiss. "Okay, bed now," he said.

He stood up and tugged Jim off the couch. They held hands as they walked to the stairs.

"You don't know how much I wanted it to be me," Jim told him.

Blair smiled over his shoulder and let his shirt fall onto the steps. They both quickly ditched their clothes and ended up in a tangle on the bed. Jim rolled them over and moved on top of Blair.

"Just one more thing," Blair said.


Jim kissed his neck.

"It's about that pungent thing."


Jim licked a nipple.

Blair bucked up with pleasure. "God! Jim, wait. I just need to know. Was that pungent like 'eew!' Or was it--"

Jim nibbled his way down Blair's stomach and rimmed his belly button.

Blair's toes curled. "Shit! Hold on. It's just that you're a sentinel and--" Jim tongued his erection. "Fuck!"

"Okay." Blair panted for breath. "I hear you. Pungent is good."

Jim laughed and then set to work showing Blair just how good it could be.


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