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Love's Bitch, Part Two
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairing: Jim/Blair
Rating: NC-17
Summary: When Jim goes undercover in prison, the hardest part is leaving the experience behind.



Love's Bitch, Part Two

THE LOFT

The sky was turning pink and violet, and he had no idea where he'd been. Or even who he was, particularly. He stumbled along Prospect, not aware that this was the name of the street or that it was the way home, not in any conscious way, at least. Instinct simply propelled him along. He put one tired foot in front of the other, listening to its call, letting it guide him.At last he came to a building that felt familiar somehow, and he let the rudimentary voice in his head steer him inside and up the stairs. He stopped outside the door marked #307.

"How the hell should I know where he is?" he heard a raised, angry voice coming from inside.

He waited and listened.

"I'm his partner. Not a damned mind reader. I told you we shouldn't have let him wander around out there-- Yes, I do know how hard it is to argue with him when he has his mind set on something. God knows I understand that better than anyone. But I'm telling you there was something wrong with him. And, shit, Simon, he's still wearing that fucking prison uniform. If cops see him, they might-- Fuck! I can't even think about it.

Prison. He was in prison. Images churned back up from the sediment of his memory: bars, grey walls, blood. But what was he doing out here? And what would happen to him if they caught him? Maybe he could slip back in before they even realized he was missing. He reached out for the door knob and tried it. It wasn't locked. He silently eased his way inside.

A young man stood in the middle of the room. The boy froze when he saw him and stared at him like he was an apparition or something.

"Oh, thank God! Yeah, he just walked in, Simon. Yeah, okay. As soon as he's had time to settle in. Sorry I kind of flipped out on you. Yeah, well, same to you, sir." He laughed. "Talk to you later."

The young man hung up the phone. Jim thought he must be new around here, the cellmate they'd stuck him with. And then he frowned. They were getting pretty lax with the phone privileges. Inmates were only supposed to be able to make calls for an hour in the evening.

"Man, am I ever glad to see you! Do you have any idea how worried I was?" the young man asked him.

He bristled and took several steps forward, invading the guy's space. "What? So now you're my keeper? I report to you?"

The young man back up instinctively, his eyes wide with surprise. "No, man. No. That's not how I meant it. I was just concerned. That's all."

He snorted. The kid had no idea what was in store for him here. "I wouldn't waste my time being worried about me," he told him.

"Okay, man. Whatever you say. I'm sorry."

"And what's with this place?" he asked, looking around the cell. There were empty glasses sitting around, clothes strewn, papers scattered.

The young man ran a hand through his hair. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, man. I meant to clean it up before you got home. I was just kind of going out of my mind, you know?"

Jim glared at him. "You come into my crib, and this is how you treat it?"

The young man stared at him. "I said I'd clean it up. And I thought by now this was our place."

He scowled. "Well, you thought wrong."

"Maybe we could talk about this after you've had a chance to rest, okay?" the kid said softly, sounding hurt.

He shook his head. "Nothing to talk about. Just clean this shit up. And I mean now!"

The young man held up his hands. "Okay, man, no problem."

Jim caught a whiff of anxiety coming from him. He was unnerving the kid. He smiled widely, and the other man swallowed hard. He took another step toward him, just to see how far he could push it.

"So why the hell are you still standing here?" he barked at the boy. "Get your ass in gear."

And then he could smell the anxiety transforming into fear. Oh, yeah. Easy. The kid was a pushover. And so very, very pretty. For once, those assholes had given him a cellmate he could appreciate.

"I'm going to put everything back just the way you like it," the kid assured him. "I just thought maybe you'd be hungry and would want breakfast first."

His stomach gurgled at him, on cue. He hadn't realized exactly how starving he was before the kid mentioned food. Along with his hunger, he could also feel a familiar warmth unfurling in his belly. The idea of this sweet, young thing cooking his meal and serving him was one hell of a turn on.

"Do it, then," he said. "Make me something to eat."

"Okay, Jim. Anything you want."

He smiled. That's the spirit, kid. Remember that tonight after light's out. The young man nervously headed for the kitchen, and he followed closely on his heels, making him even more nervous.

"So are eggs okay?"

"Scrambled."

The young man nodded. "Yeah. I know."

He grabbed him by the arm. "What the hell did you say?"

He could feel the slight trembling in the kid's body. "Just that I know you like your eggs scrambled. That's all. Honest."

"Don't ever presume to know me or what I want," he hissed at him.

"Sorry, man. Didn't mean to tick you off. It's just that ever since I've known you--"

He shook the young man hard. "Don't fucking talk back to me. You got that?" he yelled at him.

"Jim, man. Is something wrong? 'Cause you're really starting to scare me here."

"You stay out of my face, and there won't be any problem."

"Okay, man. Sure. Whatever you say."

"Damn straight." He let the young man go.

The kid rubbed his arm where he'd undoubtedly left a bruise. "Okay, so, scrambled eggs coming right up."

He tried to sound breezy, normal, but Jim could hear his heart thudding, the slight tremor in his voice. Maybe he wouldn't have to wait for the vultures to turn him out or to bother orchestrating a lesson in the showers. Maybe the kid would give it up to him without any real struggle. Steamy pictures pulsed through his mind: the boy on his knees sucking him, the boy on his belly ready to be fucked.

Maybe tonight after light's out he really would stake his claim.

The kid finished fixing breakfast and dished up the eggs and toast onto two plates. They sat down at the table and ate. Jim attacked his portion like a wild dog, and soon, it was gone. He pushed the plate aside, reached out for the boy's and pulled it over to his side of the table.

"What the--" the boy started to protest.

He grabbed the kid's wrist and squeezed painfully until he dropped his fork.

"Shit! Okay! God, all you had to do was ask."

Jim stared him down, daring him to make a move to get his breakfast back, but the kid just sat back in his chair and watched him, his expression both perplexed and frightened. Jim smiled at him, a vicious, feral show of teeth. Just to prove his point, he picked up the kid's fallen fork and began to shovel in the rest of his breakfast with it.

But that proved a mistake. The moment the metal tines touched his lips the kid's taste exploded across his taste buds, and he was rock hard in an instant. Erotic scenes flew through his imagination again. Only this time, he was the one down on his knees, greedily gobbling down more of the kid's sweet, sweet, salty taste. He was the one lying back, spreading his legs, begging for it.

He threw down the fork and leaped up from his chair, knocking it over. "What the fuck is this shit?"

The kid jumped up, too, startled by his outburst. He backed around the corner of the table, away from Jim.

"What do you mean, man?"

"You did something to the food."

He frantically shook his head. "No! You saw me eat it, too. It was good. I swear, Jim."

"You little bitch! You're fucking with my head."

"No! I'd never do anything to hurt you. You know that."

He laughed, an ugly sound, even to his own ears. "Oh, I know, all right. I know exactly want you'd do to me if you ever got the chance. And it's never gonna happen. You fucking understand that?"

"I got you, man. Just calm down. Okay?"

"What? So you can get me off my guard? Forget it, punk! If one of us is gonna wind up on his knees, it's not gonna be me. I promise you that."

"Do you mean-- Oh, fuck! What the hell did they do to you in that place?"

"I'm on top. You understand that? I'm the man, the fuck-er, not the fuck-ee. I'm in control! You hear me?"

"Yeah, of course, I hear you, Jim. I understand perfectly. I just need to-- I'm just gonna--"

The kid reached for the phone, but Jim intercepted him, grabbed his arm, yanked him away from it so hard it was a wonder he didn't dislocate the kid's shoulder.

"Jim, please," the young man begged. "I'm just going to call Simon. He can help."

"What? So now you're a snitch, too?"

The young man shook his head wildly. "No! I'm your friend. Your partner. God, don't you recognize me? It's Blair, Jim. Come on, man. You know me. You've got to snap out of-- whatever the hell this is," he said, desperately.

Jim's head pounded violently. Nothing made any sense.

"Shut the fuck up!" he screamed. "I'm not going to listen to your bullshit."

He grabbed the kid and pulled him roughly against him.

"I know exactly who you are. You're the little prick who wants to make me into a pussy in my own cell."

The kid shook his head. "No, Jim. No. It's not like that. You're not in prison any more. You're home now. You're safe."

But Jim tuned him out, too wrapped up in the sensation of the kid's hot, shuddering body pressed so close. He rocked his hard dick against the swell of his hip. The kid shook even harder.

"Feel that?" he asked, thickly. "I'm not going to be the one on my knees. I'm not!"

"Don't, Jim," the kid begged, his voice broken and shaky. "Please."

"Shut up!" he ordered.

He tugged sharply at the young man's hair to tilt his head back, and then he possessed his mouth, bruising the soft curves. God, so good. That's not what he should have been thinking. He dimly recognized that fact in the survivor's corner of his brain. He should have been glorying in his triumph, basking in his power, his dominion. Instead, he found himself succumbing, to the pleasure of the other man's taste.

At first, the boy fought, trying to kick at his shins and wriggle away. But as Jim softened the hard line of his mouth, as the touch of his lips grew less punishing, more exploratory, the young man's resistance ebbed. He stopped trying to push Jim away. He let himself be pulled closer. And then, finally, he began to kiss back, a little shyly, his tongue darting into Jim's mouth, lightly stroking in return.

Jim moaned in the back of his throat. Every touch of the boy's tongue seemed to lick a path of fire straight to his cock. He cupped the young man's bottom, used the leverage to bring them closer. Their thighs burned against each other. Their cocks teased through the layers of their clothing.

Their cocks-- A dim portion of Jim's brain registered that fact with a start. The boy was hard, too. The pictures started to flood his imagination once again, all the things the other man could do to him, take from him, in his vulnerable, desire-maddened condition.

He abruptly pushed the kid away.

"What--" the boy asked in a daze.

"Bitch!" Jim yelled at him, accusingly. "You god damned, conniving bitch!"

"Jim, man, I'm sorry. I thought-- But I shouldn't have. I shouldn't."

The kid fell back a step, his eyes still dilated, but with fear now, rather than want.

Jim took another step toward him. He put a hand in the middle of his chest and shoved him. "Let's see how you like it."

"Come on, man. I said I was wrong, and I am sorry. Just let me go. So I can get you some help."

"Yeah, right," he said, sarcastically. "Help. Sure. Like some of your friends to hold me down while you fuck me?"

"Shit, Jim! Are you-- Did they--" The boy's face paled. "I just want to help you, Jim. Not hurt you. I swear to God."

"I've heard that before."

"Okay, okay." The young man held up his hands. "I'll show you I'm no threat. You want me? You got me. I won't put up a fight. I promise." He went still.

But when Jim reached for him, he cleverly dodged and made a break for the door. Jim leaped and tackled him, and they both fell heavily to the floor.

"Ow!" the young man hollered on the way down.

Jim scrambled to turn the kid over, the primitive emotions driving him, both terror and lust. Fuck or be fucked. That was the law of the jungle. Now that he had the advantage, he couldn't afford to be a pussy about it. He had to finish it, show the other man who was in charge, once and for all. He trapped the kid's body with his own, pulled his arms above his head and held them their with one vise-like hand.

But then he noticed the blood on the kid's mouth. He must have bitten his lip when he'd fallen. The red glistening sight of it mesmerized him. He froze and couldn't look away.

"Please don't do this, Jim," the young man begged, his voice breaking. "Please don't hurt me."

He stared into the other man's wide, terrified blue eyes, and he could feel something surfacing inside him. He touched the man's hair, gently, stroking his fingers through it, concentrating. It was soft, springy to his touch, familiar. He breathed in his scent, and he knew that, too. He looked at him helplessly, not understanding.

"It's me, Jim. It's Blair."

The young man's chest heaved, and Jim shifted his weight to the side to let him breathe more easily. He ran his free hand gently down the man's arm, letting the sensations register. It was like swimming toward the surface from a very great depth under water. He could feel the blackness receding, the light and clear air getting nearer. He trailed his fingers down to the young man's wrist, and the thudding of the pulse flooded into him.

It jolted him the rest of the way back into awareness. He blinked his eyes, and it was Blair he had pinned to the floor. It was Blair, and it was the loft, and it was all so confusing. He realized he was holding Blair's wrists over his head, and he quickly let them go.

"Blair?" he asked, still dazed, his voice coming out in a croak.

"Jim?" Blair asked, sounding startled that he recognized him.

Then the rest of it hit him: the smell of blood, Blair's blood, the sound of his heart racing and the smell of his fear, the hard floor making his knees ache, the nagging pang of conscience, even though he wasn't quite sure what he'd done wrong, but something, for certain.

"Blair?" he said again, starting to panic.

"It's okay, Jim. It's okay."

God, it really was Blair. He put his hands on Blair's face, on his forehead and his cheeks and his chin, everywhere, trying to reassure himself. He stared into his Guide's eyes, looking for answers.

"Chief," he affirmed.

Blair nodded. "Yeah, man. It's me."

He gently touched the corner of Blair's mouth. Then he held up his finger and stared at it. Blair's blood. And then he remembered, like waking up from a nightmare, only it was real, too horribly real. And he couldn't look away from the red-brown smear on his hand, too appalled by what he'd done.

"Ah, shit!" Blair grabbed his arm. "Don't you do this, man. Don't you fucking zone out on me. You hear me, Jim?"

The insistence in his Guide's voice called him back to reality. And then his stomach lurched violently, without the comfort of oblivion to cushion the realization of what he'd been about to do to the person he most cherished. He jumped up from the floor and ran to the bathroom. His body shook alarmingly as he emptied his guts into the toilet, and his stomach just wouldn't stop heaving, even after there was nothing left to vomit.

Much to his surprise, Blair knelt on the tile floor beside him and rubbed his back soothingly. After what he'd done, what he'd been thinking, he would have expected Sandburg to bolt for safety at the first opportunity. That's exactly what anyone with any sense would have done, what Jim still half wished he would do, in case he lost his mind again.

Instead, Blair was trying to comfort him. "It's okay, Jim. You're okay, now," he said over and over again, in that low, calm voice of his that always resonated in Jim's head and his insides like some kind of acoustic wonder.

"I'm sorry, Blair," he said, when he could finally speak.

"I know. It's all right." Blair wrapped an arm around his shoulders.

"God, I'm just so, so sorry."

"Shhh." Blair hugged him and pressed his face against his shoulder. "I'm not hurt. There's no harm done. You didn't know who I was, did you?"

He shook his head.

"Or who you were, either. Or where. Or much of anything, I'm guessing. Right?"

"I was--" He shook his head. "I don't know even how to describe it."

Blair squeezed his shoulder. "That's okay. We don't have to figure out everything right this minute. Come on, man." He stood up and tugged on Jim's arm to get him to his feet, too. "Why don't you brush your teeth and get a shower? Okay?"

He nodded and let Blair guide him over to the sink. Suddenly, he felt so tired and heavy even the simplest movement took all his strength. He watched as Blair wet the bristles of his tooth brush and squeezed the tooth paste onto it. Blair pressed it into his hand, and he began to brush, mechanically, his body functioning on sense memory, his brain numb. After a while, Blair's hand stopped him and took the tooth brush back. Blair held the cup against his lips, and he automatically took a sip and spit it out.

"There you go, man. That's good. Okay, you hop into the shower, and I'll go upstairs and bring down something clean for you to wear. Your own clothes. That'll help you feel more like yourself. Okay?"

He nodded.

"Good. I'll be right back."

He watched Blair leave the bathroom, and then he slowly, tiredly began to remove the prison uniform he was still wearing. He let it fall to the floor and kicked it aside with his foot, as if he could banish the entire experience with that one, simple gesture. He flipped on the water in the shower and stepped into the tub. It was hot, too hot, really, for his sensitive skin, but he felt the need to sanitize himself, to have the taint burned away.

He heard the soft whoosh of the door opening, as Blair came back into the bathroom.

"I'm just leaving the clothes here for you, man. Okay?"

"'Kay, Chief." His voice came out strained.

"Are you all right, Jim?"

It hurt. It hurt so bad that he couldn't answer.

"Jim?"

He started to whimper. Blair pulled back to the curtain.

"Fuck!" He quickly turned on the cold water and turned down the hot. "Jim, are you hurt, man? Shit! You've got welts all over your body. Come on. Stand under the cool water. Let it soothe your skin."

He inched under the spray, but he kept turned away from Blair. The memories of Jenkins and what had happened to him in the shower at the prison made his skin crawl. He couldn't stand to be naked and vulnerable with someone who was still fully clothed, even if it was his best friend.

Blair sensed his distress and pulled away, closing the curtain again. "I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to intrude on your privacy. I just didn't want you to be in pain."

"S'okay, Chief," he said. "Not you. Not your fault."

"I'm just going to stand here in case you need me. But when you're through, you let me know, and I'll leave."

"Okay, Chief."

He took the soap, worked up a lather and scrubbed his body, vigorously, everywhere. The water went cold and then icy. He started to shiver and then to shudder all over. But still he scrubbed.

"Jim, man. You about finished up in there?"

"Mmm."

But he couldn't stop washing.

"Jim?"

"Not yet."

"Aren't you getting cold?"

He didn't answer, too absorbed in trying to get clean.

"Jim? Man? I'm coming in again. I'm sorry. I know I said I wouldn't. But-- Sorry."

He pushed back the curtain, slowly, trying not to startle him. "Ah, man. The water's freezing." He turned it off. "And what'd you do to your poor skin?"

He looked down at himself. His skin was an alarmingly bright shade of red.

"Had to get it off," he mumbled.

"Okay, buddy. I understand. I'd say you took care of it pretty good. Are you dialed down?" Blair asked, and he nodded. "Okay. That's good. Now, come on out."

He did as Blair asked and sighed softly when he felt a warm towel against his skin and Blair's hands moving over him, drying him off.

"Let's get your robe on you, buddy."

He waited patiently, as still and loose-limbed as a rag doll, while Blair eased his robe over his arms and tied it at the waist. He let his Guide lead him out of the bathroom and over to the sofa. The floor felt strangely insubstantial beneath his feet, like he was only partially inhabiting his body. He still shook violently, both from the icy water and his own feelings.

Blair eased him down onto the cushions, propped him up against the pillows and covered him with the afghan.

"I'm gonna make you some tea, buddy."

He nodded and closed his eyes. He tracked Blair into the kitchen and listened to the pot-rattling, cabinet-shutting, paper-crumpling sounds of the tea-making. It sounded so ordinary, so beautiful, like nothing else ever had. And he couldn't help the few, tired tears that slid down his cheeks.

Blair came back with the mug, sat down beside him and pressed the cup into his hand. He took a long sip and then just held onto it, letting the comforting warmth sink into him.

Blair slid an arm around his back, and the heavy, familiar weight of it felt like an anchor, helping him stay in his body, in his identity. His head suddenly seemed so heavy, and he let it fall onto Blair's shoulder. And then, Blair pulled him closer, into his arms, and he was finally able to relax. He let out his breath in a long sigh and shut his eyes and rested. Blair stroked his hair and held him and didn't try to make him talk. He'd never been more grateful to anyone in his entire life.

"I'm so tired, Chief," he finally said.

He could feel Blair nodding. "You've been through a lot."

"It was so-- All the hatred-- It-- It did something to me."

"Can you tell me?"

"I don't know exactly-- It's hard. It's-- You're supposed to hold on to yourself if you get captured. But I couldn't. I lost me. Like I was in some kind of zone out the whole time. But it wasn't my senses that were out of control, but some primal part of me."

"You must have felt really threatened for that to happen."

"Yeah," he said softly. "I did."

"The other inmates-- They gave you a hard time?"

He half laughed. "You could say that."

He felt Blair stiffen. The hand stroking his hair paused a moment before resuming its gentle ministrations. "Jim, were you... Did they... I'm sorry to have to be so blunt, but some of the things you said-- Were you raped? I really need you to tell me the truth. You could be torn or bleeding inside. "

"I wasn't raped, Chief. It's just--"

"Did they do something else to you?"

He shook his head. "But there was this other guy. He-- He got turned out. You know what that means?"

He felt Blair shaking his head. "Yeah. And you saw it?"

"I heard it. There were a whole bunch of them. They raped him all night. They made him say he loved it, that it was the best sex he'd ever had."

"Fucking animals."

"Then there was this one greaseball-- He wanted to do the same thing to me, turn me into his bitch. He would have, too, if I hadn't gotten out of there."

Blair tightened his hold on him and laid his cheek against the top of his head. "You don't know that, man. You're no pushover. You know how to defend yourself."

"He would have brought his buddies. I wouldn't have had a chance. I never had a chance from the very beginning. That shithead saw right through me."

"That you were a cop, you mean?"

He shook his head. "No." He laughed. "You would have thought if somebody was going to see through me that's what it would have been. But nobody ever figured that out, except this Weasel who recognized me somehow. But he-- Well, he didn't turn out to be a problem."

"So what did this guy, the greaseball, have on you?"

He hesitated. "He sensed-- I don't know how. I guess the way animals just sense things. But he did know somehow. That I'd let guys fuck me before," he said, his voice trailing off.

"Oh."

"Yeah. Look, I know I should have said something--"

"It's okay, Jim."

"No, it's not. You live here. You had a right to--"

Blair shook his head. "No. Really. I mean-- It's okay. You know?"

And then he did know. He heard what was missing from Blair's reaction. The shock, the recriminations. Because Blair wasn't surprised, not even a little bit. Because Blair already knew, probably had known all along. Because living with Blair was like living in the wild. It was useless to think he could hide things. In fact, it seemed he only ever kept his secrets because Blair let him, like with this thing, because Blair-- Well, truthfully, he didn't always understand why Blair did what he did.

Still, he was back in his old life, and the old ways died hard.

"I don't even know why I did it. I have no idea what I was looking for," he said, giving lying one more shot.

"Don't you?" Blair asked, his voice patient.

And he knew that tone. He understood what it meant, that Blair knew very well what Jim had been out searching for in those other men. He knew it, and he knew that Jim knew it, too.

"I never would have done anything," he said softly.

Blair sighed. "Don't I know it."

And maybe those weren't the most erotic words in the English vocabulary. Maybe they wouldn't have turned anyone else on, ever. But they made a beeline straight for Jim's cock. The same red hot burning in his belly that he'd always felt just before going out and getting fucked surged powerfully through his gut, exponentially hotter and more urgent, now that he could admit the source of it.

If he'd been thinking clearly, he might have been struck by the irony of wanting so desperately, so unapologetically, the same thing he'd been so terrified of in prison, so ashamed of in the past. But since he wasn't really thinking at all, he simply offered, "We could do something about it now."

He felt Blair suck in his breath and hold it. "Maybe this isn't the best time, man. I mean, you just had a really traumatic--"

He took Blair's hand and pressed it to his hard dick that throbbed through the terry cloth. "I'd say it's the perfect time."

"Shit, Jim."

"I want to go to bed with you."

Blair's heart sounded like it was playing hopscotch. "I want that, too." Jim could feel his chest heaving. "I just don't want us to do anything you'll regret later."

He gently pulled out of Blair's embrace and stood up to face him. He undid the belt at his waist and shrugged off the robe. His cock curved up toward his belly, fully erect.

"I want you."

"Jim--"

But he could sense Blair's resolve weakening. He could smell the arousal flooding off him.

He took his own cock in his hand, not stroking, not pleasuring, just holding it, trying to make Blair understand how hard he was, how much he needed. "I have to have you," he said.

And that was enough--much more than any mortal man could resist, even if he was trying to be careful and protective of his best friend. Blair scrambled up from the sofa and was on him in an instant. Apparently, knowing Jim's secrets and keeping quiet for so long had left him pent-up and needy, and he poured out his want all over Jim's skin, kissing and touching and practically consuming him.

Only a few minutes earlier when they'd both been in the bathroom, the power imbalance of dressed and not dressed had terrified him. But now, something about the scratch of denim, the slide of flannel against his own nakedness did something inexplicably erotic to him. He got off on it: knowing that Blair had complete access to all his most tender places, feeling his hands stroking his naked penis, cupping his bared balls, while all he could manage was second hand contact, through the barrier of Blair's clothes.

It finally dawned on him that he'd been waiting all his life for someone with whom he could be totally vulnerable, the right someone. Blair.

"Mmm," he moaned between kisses. "Upstairs."

He had this picture in his head of himself stretched out on his bed and Blair stretched out on him.

"'Kay," Blair answered, breathily, still kissing him.

Together, they stumbled up the stairs. He quickly threw back the covers and took Blair by the hand.

"Can I?" he asked, running one hand down the front of Blair's shirt.

Blair nodded, and he pulled off his clothes and tossed them to the floor in a frenzy. When he finally reached bare skin, he began to kiss and explore, even more frantically, his awareness a dizzy, sensual blur made up of the flavor of Blair's skin, the smell of his sweat, the hard contours of his own passion. He pushed Blair down onto the bed, so that he was sitting on the edge of it. And then he fell to his knees and buried his face in his lap, going to the source, the pure scent, the undiluted taste.

As he made love to Blair with his mouth, he couldn't help thinking back to his college hero, who obviously hadn't known shit about blow jobs if he'd thought Jim's inexperienced, terrified, forced effort to please him was something to get excited about. Jim had learned a lot about giving head since then, and he lavished all that skill and experience and some very real enthusiasm on Blair's cock, making him wail like he'd never heard anyone wail during sex before.

When he felt Blair's balls draw up, though, he pulled back.

"Whaa--" Blair muttered, incoherently, his disappointment plain.

Jim rubbed his thighs. "I just don't want you to finish yet."

"Oh, yeah. Sorry, man."

He pulled at Jim's arm to bring him up onto the bed with him.

"Lie back," Blair said, clearly intending to return the favor.

He shook his head. "I had something else in mind."

Blair's pupils dilated with lust. "Oh, yeah," he said, unconsciously licking his lips.

Jim scooted across the bed, painfully hard now, and dug condoms and lube out of the back of his nightstand drawer where he'd stashed them, out of sight, out of mind. He pressed them into Blair's hand, and his partner's deep, blue eyes widened with surprise.

"But I thought--"

Jim turned onto his side and pulled his knees up. "I need you."

"Are you sure? Maybe we should--"

"Please!" he said, unable to keep the driven, needy compulsion out of his voice.

Blair sucked in his breath hard. "God."

And then those big, capable hands were on him again, touching him everywhere, warm and questing, and then cool and slick as the adventuring fingers began to scout out his inner mysteries. No matter how much he begged, Blair would not be rushed. He took his time and got to know him very well. By the time he finally pulled on the condom, lubed his cock and entered him, Jim's nerves were stretched to the finest point of their endurance. The need had grown beyond his ability to bear it. So much so that the searing, overstretched sensation of possession didn't even strike him as pain, but as a remedy.

As Blair fucked him, he also kissed and sucked his neck, whispered in his ear, fisted his cock in time to his thrusts. At first, there was a part of him that found it disconcerting to have someone else, even Blair, so in control of all his most tender places--his ass and his dick and his soul. But soon enough, he felt even that holdout aspect of his psyche surrendering to the very rightness of the act, to the inescapable feeling that this was what he'd been made for, to spread his legs for Blair, to get fucked into drooling insensibility, to be possessed by him in every definition of the word.

"Ahhhh, Jim!" Blair screamed and came inside him.

And even though the condom was in the way and he couldn't feel Blair's come filling him up, still, he could feel the pulsing of Blair's body and his cock swelling inside him. And that was enough to send him so far over the edge he couldn't keep from blacking out.

When he came to, Blair lay pressed against his back, breathing heavily against his shoulder. He had softened enough to slip from his body, and Jim felt the loss.

Blair kissed the curve of his neck. "Are you okay?"

He nodded, still too dazed to speak.

"I'm going to get a wash cloth. I'll be right back."

He nodded again and felt Blair's heat move away from him. He listened to his bare feet go thudding down the stairs. Then he turned over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. This was always the worst part, when his mind clicked back into action and he had to contemplate what he'd done. What he was. A bitch. A natural bitch, just like the Greaseball had said. And with Blair, apparently, a bitch in heat.

In the moment, it had felt so right. But now, he couldn't help thinking about Jenkins, as weird as that was. He'd been so disgusted by what Jenkins had done in the shower, his little display of enthusiasm, but that had all been compelled, coerced, a matter of survival, no real choice. Jim had surrendered of his own volition. No one had forced him to his knees. He'd willingly, happily dropped to them, with eager lips and an obliging ass.

It seemed that the only thing the Greaseball hadn't gotten right about him was that he'd assumed he was up-for-grabs, anyone's bitch, and he wasn't. He was Blair's, and only Blair's.

But that still left him down on his knees, and he couldn't help feeling grief-stricken about it, knowing he wasn't the man he'd thought he was.

"Jim?" Blair said softly.

He turned his head and found Blair standing by the bed. He'd been so absorbed in his thoughts he hadn't even heard him return.

"Oh, Jim. No."

He didn't realize until then--until he saw the look on Blair's face, the stark terror, like maybe he'd injured Jim or traumatized him for life--that there were tears on his face. He didn't understand until he saw the sheer panic in his partner's eyes that Blair didn't feel any more in control of what they'd done than he did.

"I'm sorry, man. God. I thought you wanted-- But we shouldn't have. I knew we shouldn't."

"I just-- I feel so--" He shook his head.

"Ah, Jim. Jim." Blair's face broke open with understanding. "It doesn't have to be like that. Tops and bottoms and pitchers and catchers and all that shit. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't describe what's between us. Or, hell, between any real, genuine, flesh-and-blood people, because life is complicated. And so is sex. And for the record? The way you gave yourself to me? That was so unbelievably beautiful and strong."

He wanted to be convinced, tried so hard to believe, but he couldn't. So he couldn't stand to meet Blair's eye.

"God, Jim, can't you see? When I was inside you just now, you owned me. Do you understand that? I have never belonged to anyone more than I belonged to you. Because I have never loved anyone the way I love you."

That helped him work up the courage to look into Blair's shining, impassioned face. Immediately, he thought two things. First, that he was, in fact, a bitch. But he was love's bitch, and no way did that diminish him or make him less of a man. In fact, it made him damned lucky. And then, he also realized that he wasn't the only one down on his knees. Blair was right there with him. Because, apparently, that's just how love worked. It had its way with whoever was fortunate enough to find it.

And then he opened up his love-whipped arms to his love-whipped partner and said, "I'm sorry. Please come back to bed."

He'd never seen Blair more relieved. He scrambled onto the bed and threw his arms around his waist.

"You scared the shit out of me," he chided.

Jim held him and stroked his hair. "I'm sorry, Chief. It wasn't you. I just-- I couldn't picture how it would be if one of us wasn't at the mercy of the other. And I didn't want you to be under my thumb. So that had to leave me the one down on my knees."

"Ah, Jim. Man. What's happened to make you think shit like that?"

"That's just always the way it's been."

"Jim, there is such a thing as a loving, mutual relationship. You know?"

"It just never seemed to work out that way for me."

"Before now, you mean."

He smiled. "Yeah. Before now."

Blair took his hand. "I don't ever want you down on your knees for me. And you know it's not my style, either. So how about we promise each other just to stay off the damned floor all together?" And then Blair had second thoughts and added, "Well, you know, metaphorically speaking. Because there may be times when the bed or even the couch seems way too far away and the floor might just be the best solution."

He smiled again, squeezed Blair's hand and nodded. "You got it, Chief. No floor. For either of us. Unless we just can't wait. And then it's the floor for both of us."

"Exactly." Blair settled his head onto his chest, but Jim could feel him smiling.

Jim kissed his forehead. "I love you," he whispered.

"Mmm. Me too," Blair murmured, his eyes closed, already drifting off.

Jim closed his eyes, too, now that he was home and felt secure enough to rest. He fell asleep, warm and loved, contemplating his new life, which was civilized in a whole new way, with a safety that didn't have to come at the expense of being known, with the right both to have and to surrender, in a way that made him more, not less.

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