First Appeared in Angel On My Mind 2, 1999
Teasing and Testing by Voracity
Jim checked the loft to make sure Blair wasn't anywhere near the kitchen and dropped the little purple piece of sugar into the mug, smiling as he stepped back. "Blair, coffee's ready," he called.
Blair poked his head out of the bathroom. "Thanks, I just gotta finish drying my hair."
Jim nodded and picked up his own cup. "Now we'll see if what I heard you muttering the other day is really true or not." He grinned and flipped open the paper, heading to the sports section to check the scores out.
Blair came out, reaching across the back of the island to grab his cup on the way to his room. Jim watched him with interest, waiting to see how long it was before Blair noticed.
Blair took his first sip as he got to the door, and immediately turned and walked back to the kitchen. "Jim?" he asked.
"The honey smelled bad." He shrugged.
"So, what grape flavored thing did you put in my coffee?" Jim waved the smarties package slightly, making Blair grin. "Figures. Must have come from your candy stash in your sock drawer."
Jim looked up, hurt. "Would *I* hide candy when you told me I couldn't have any?" Blair nodded, big grin on his face. "Nope, not me."
"No, not innocent little Jim Ellison, right?" Jim nodded, smiling and chuckling. "I'm not going to touch it man, don't worry. You're allowed to have a few pieces when you've had a hard day. Just no more butterscotchies; you could have died from the reaction last time." He took another sip of his coffee. "Are you sure you only put a purple one in? It tastes funny."
Jim nodded, flipping a page. "Two purple ones." He looked up briefly. "What sort of funny taste is it?"
"I don't know, you're the sentinel," he said, handing it over.
Jim took a small sip and handed it back. "I don't taste anything funny. Must be your imagination."
Blair snorted and headed for his room, going to get dressed and ready for the day.
Jim just smiled at the wiggling rear in front of him. "Or my flavor," he whispered once Blair had closed the door. He licked his fingers and turned another page of the paper.
Blair sat back in his office chair and groaned. "That man is such a goof," he sighed and picked up his picture of them together on their last camping trip. "He gives me smarties in my coffee, he packed pixie sticks in my backpack. He's trying to kill me with love and sugar." He carefully set the picture back down and leaned back, closing his eyes. "My big goof."
He could clearly see Jim smiling as he dropped the candy into his pack, or what it must have looked like since he had been out at the bookstore. The big kid's grin, the easy body language. //So, why is he naked?// Blair asked himself and shook himself back to the realities of grading a few hundred essays. "He's not and he won't be that way for me," Blair told himself, picking up his grading pen and picking up the first essay. He snorted and wrote "find your spell checker" in large letters across the top.
Jim smiled at the dragging and droopy Blair wandering off the elevator. He watched the younger man head straight for the coffee pot, heard the moan as he discovered it empty and the speech he gave only to himself as he made more.
Blair eventually made it to his desk, handing Jim a freshly made mug on the way. "So, you needed me?" He almost blushed at his choice of words. //Great, make it sound like a come on that would only lead you to pain.// He swallowed some coffee fast to cover his mistake.
Jim handed him the folder he had been staring at for the last few hours, his smile gone and his work expression back. "This one. I just can't grab hold of it."
Blair set his cup on the desk and flipped open the folder. "Okay, so it's ritualistic and there are a few victims. I can look up the ritual to see if it corresponds to any known one and try to fit the times into a calender of a people." He looked up. "Is there anything else I need to know?"
"You won't like it," Jim warned. Blair nodded so he tossed over the pictures of the bodies from the scenes. "That's how we found them, with one exception. That one had a coarsely woven cloth over his face and genitals."
Blair shuddered and looked up. "Aztec. One of the other profs at Rainier is an expert, we could ask him." He put the pictures carefully away and closed the folder. "They're not on the Aztec calender but the ritual is very similar to the way he described it in the classes I've had with him."
Jim took the folder back, nodding. "Okay, will he be in tonight?" Blair shook his head. "Okay, first thing tomorrow then."
"After ten. He doesn't do mornings very well." Blair shrugged. "The man is never seen before ten and if he is, watch out." He grinned. "That man can be such a bear when people get him up early."
Jim nodded and stood up. "Sounds like a few people I know." He dodged the swat Blair was trying to give him. "What? I didn't mention names."
"If you two," Simon said from his office door, "are finished playing, can I have the pleasure of your company in here now?" He scowled at Jim as he walked past. "Play on your own time detective."
"Yes sir; and Sandburg just gave me a person to talk to at the University about those ritual killings."
"Good. Now all you need to do is to match it to someone who did it and to solve this before the Mayor takes another chunk out of my butt." He chomped on his unlit cigar. "And he sent his well wishes along with this folder too." He tossed it to Blair.
Blair opened it and smiled. "I know her." He looked up. "What did his daughter do now?"
"She was found knocked out behind the wheel of her car along with the visiting diplomat's son last month. We've been gifted with this because the other people who had it didn't do anything to get it solved."
Jim read over Blair's shoulder. "There's not much evidence sir." He took the file and looked over it. "And it says here she had pulled her car off the road and passed out. Her own statement."
"Ah, yes, but the Mayor's daughter doesn't drink." He smiled. "As a matter of fact, she's a virtual saint that doesn't have sex, doesn't talk to strangers, and wouldn't even think about having a blood alcohol content of .15. Have fun gentlemen." He waved toward the door.
Blair walked out. "You know, I hope I never get to be like that if I'm gifted with children. I would *want* to know them for who they really were and what they did. Good or bad."
Jim frowned momentarily, but his usual non-expression came back quickly. "That's true, but your kids wouldn't go out and do things like that either."
"I hope," Blair said, sitting back down.
Jim looked down through the rails and carefully laid the last item on the bedspread. Blair was just now putting the soup pot on to boil.
He checked the items one last time and smiled. Blair had known he was bi for over a year now, right after the Alex thing happened. Now he was going to have to face it, up close and personal and maybe they could get it worked out between them.
Jim laid down among the items and leaned back into the pillows. He set the towel up under his rear, put the candy necklace right where he needed it, and put his hips back down. He wiggled around, settling the pieces of candy firmly in him. He let himself smile one last time and called down a pitiful sounding, "Blair?"
"What's wrong?" came the call from the kitchen.
"I need some help," Jim called back.
Blair came rushing up the stairs and stopped dead at the top. "Um, Jim, I'm not sure I'm the one to help you here."
"Chief, it's not like that. I was going to nibble on this candy necklace I found earlier and accidentally sat down on it." He raised his hips some so Blair could see the rest of the candy hanging off. "I need some help, I can't exactly see to get it out and I'm sure I'd break it."
Blair stared, fixated on the slow swing of the string of little morsels of sugar and swallowed, hard. "Um..." he started. He cleared his throat. //I don't see why he can't do it himself. Oh, God, I'm going to have to touch him *there*// He moved slightly to accommodate the quickly growing bulge. //Why is he tormenting me like this?// "Um, so what do I need to do, just pull it out?"
Jim groaned. "Please don't. That would hurt." He shuddered for affect. "You need to put on a glove and retrieve them, just in case one breaks. Those little pieces have sharp edges."
Blair nodded and looked around for a pair of gloves. Jim pointed and he got one out, slipping into it. "So, how?"
"Get some of the lube and dampen the glove with it. Reach in carefully and push on the top edge of the string." He watched as Blair did as he was told.
Blair tensed before touching one of the parts he had always wanted to be close to. //Can't think about this, I'll go insane and do something if I do. Can't think about my finger being in Jim's ass, how tight it is, how silky the walls feel.// He swallowed and delved a little further in. //There it is, quickly in and out, that's the best way. Be careful, don't want to scratch these sensitive tissues.// "Jim?"
"Yeah, Blair?" Jim looked down the length of his body, smiling and nodding encouragingly. "That's it, I think you got it there."
"Good," Blair said quietly and started to push the brittle candy down and out. //Damn, he's tight and it's so *warm* in here. Savor this now, it's never going to happen again. Not that I know how he did it this time, but still, I won't be doing this again.// He held up the candy, checking it to make sure all the pieces were intact. He had to go back in after a few small chips, but it looked like he had it all out. "So, um, do you want me to check just to make sure I've got it all?" Jim nodded, biting his lip, so he got some more lube and went back in. //Man, he's as embarrassed by this as I am. I shouldn't have even offered.//
Jim suddenly thumped his head on the pillows. "Jim?"
"Oh, yeah," the big man moaned.
Blair pulled his finger out. "Did I do something wrong?"
Jim swallowed all the excess fluid in his mouth. "No, very right," he whispered. "Thank you."
Blair nodded, but didn't move. "I've... I've been wanting to ask you. Um, do you remember what happened two nights ago?"
Jim closed his eyes and thought back, not wanting the smile to show. "No, not really." He smiled up. "Why?"
"You, ah, <clears throat>, called someone's... my name in your sleep."
Jim grinned, all his months of planning falling into place like a perfectly made puzzle. "No, I don't remember. Is that upsetting to you? Did it bother you? If it did, I'm sorry."
Blair shook his head and stood up, taking off the glove. "No, I told you that when you told me... about ... this. I was just wondering if..." He swallowed hard and looked down. "Jim, do you find me attractive?"
Jim could have cheered, but didn't when he saw the scared look on his friend's face. "Blair, sit down and let's talk." He patted a spot on the bed and moved the lube and other things off to the floor.
Blair nodded and sat, still not looking up. "You, um, yelled ... my name and that's why I was wondering." //Please, oh, please. But which answer do I want? It's going to hurt either way and I really don't want that sort of pain right now. Not ever. I might have to leave or...// "Listen, never mind, I don't need to know," he added and stood. He turned and headed for the stairs.
"Blair, what's got you so scared?" Jim rolled onto his side so he could face Blair and brought a corner of the sheet up to cover his hips and thighs. "If you'd tell me I'm sure we could work it out."
Blair spun around. "There's nothing to work out, all right?" He ran down the stairs and into his room.
Jim flopped onto his back and inhaled deeply, trying to not run after him. Then he sensed something. Fear. "Blair," he called, but there was no answer except the locking of the french doors. He stood, putting on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt, and headed down to see what was really wrong. He knocked gently on the glass. "Blair?" he called softly.
"Just go away, Jim."
"Blair, I want to talk to you."
"No you don't, you want to make fun of me." Something soft hit the door.
"Blair, why would I want to make fun of you?" He laid his head against the cool glass. "I promise, Chief, I don't want to hurt you. Never."
Blair unlocked the door and threw it open. "Sure. That's what all this has been about though. We, I, can only be hurt by this. Now, let me be alone and think please." He shut the door again and locked it.
Jim sat down on the floor in shock. "I couldn't hurt you. Never," he said quietly.
Jim looked up from the pot of soup he was stirring when Blair came out of his room. "Do you want to talk?"
"That's my line and it never happened," Blair said with a finality to his voice. "How much longer?"
"Until the soup's ready?" Blair nodded. "About half an hour. I just put in the last ingredient." He held up the spoon so Blair could taste it. "Does it need more salt?"
Blair sipped delicately at the offering. "Yeah, but not too much." He headed out to the balcony, closing the doors behind him.
Jim covered the pot and grabbed them each bottles of water. He followed Blair out into the light drizzle, closing the doors gently behind him to give Blair a warning. He knew the younger man was upset, but not why? "Why?"
"We're not going to talk about it anymore. It can't happen and it won't," Blair said.
Jim shook his head and pulled Blair around, kissing him deeply. He let his friend go, watching him step back. "Why? What was so wrong about that?"
"Jim.... just... just drop it!" He threw his arms up and walked to the other side of the small area. "There's nothing that can be helped here and nothing to talk about. Even if I wanted this, it can't happen."
"But, you..." Jim turned around and went back inside, leaving Blair alone.
"I do want it, but it's nothing I can have," Blair whispered. "And we both have to get over it."
Jim heard the last sentence, and the soul marring darkness he had been about to plunge into lifted; but he still didn't know what he was supposed to be doing here. He went back to the soup, stirring it again. "No, we don't," he promised himself. And Blair.
Jim walked into Simon's office and closed the door. "Can I talk to you?" The older man nodded and waved him in, 'uh-huh'ing into the phone. Jim sat down in one of the chairs and waited.
Finally Simon got off and hung up, a sour expression on his face. "Make it quick, that was Joan. Darryl's being suspended from school for defending himself."
"Simon, I need a favor."
"So what else is new?" He leaned back and lit his cigar, blowing the smoke up toward the ceiling. "So, what is it?"
"I need for myself and Sandburg to take some time off. We need to discuss some things he doesn't want to and I can't get him to do it at home."
Simon's feet fell to the floor and he turned quickly. "Let me get this straight. *You're* trying to get *Sandburg* to talk to you? And he won't?" Jim nodded and Simon started to laugh. "Oh, that is good. I'll have to remember to tell Darryl this one when he can move again." He shook his head. "You know I need at least a week's notice unless it's an emergency." He spread his hands. "Show me one and I'll allow it."
"Sandburg hasn't said a word to me for a week," Jim said quietly. "Not a nag about Wonder burger, not a comment about losing my gun again, not a single 'would you like one'. Nothing."
"Jim, this is definitely out of the ordinary, but I still don't see the emergency in it. Even your little professor is allowed to not talk for a few days. I know it's not normal, but it'll be all right. It's probably just some woman dumped him or something." He stood. "Now if you'll excuse me, I got to yell at my son and the parents of the idiot that took my boy on." He straightened out his vest.
"Simon if it was just that I'd ask for a few days off and tie him to the bed until I knew what was wrong, but *I* caused this one. Me. I pushed him and he *yelled* at me. I need to take him someplace neutral and work it out with him."
Simon sat on the edge of his desk. "What did you do to that man this time? And you had better not tell me you wigged out and threw him out again or I'll kick your ass to Tacoma."
Jim looked down at the floor. "No, nothing like that. I ... I made a very unsubtle pass at him." Jim looked his oldest friend in the eyes. "He wanted it, but he won't accept it. He actually locked himself in his room and said it would only lead to pain for him."
"Well, you do have this astounding record of hurting him." He chomped on the end of his cigar and thought for a second. "Are you sure he wanted it?"
Jim smiled, a beautiful and radiant glow coming over him from it. "Yeah. I not only heard him talking about it, but he admitted he wanted it when he yelled at me. He just won't accept me." His shoulder's slumped. "I know I've hurt him in the past, but he said he'd gotten over it and forgiven me."
Simon clapped him on the shoulder. "It's Wednesday. Take off Friday and come back in a week or so." He stood again and grabbed his jacket. "And I want this crap worked out once and for all." He walked out of his office, letting Jim follow behind him.
Jim walked back to his desk, planning in his head where they could go. Blair looked up from his laptop and smiled at him, but it didn't reach his eyes. He could still see the pain in there, eating away at his friend and hopefully lover.
"Jim, what did Simon want?"
"Just something about our vacation time disappearing unless we use it soon. I agreed to take off Friday and take a week of it. So, where would you like to go?" He sat down and spun his chair around to look at his Guide. "Where is a good place to go visit now, in early spring, for you?"
"Sorry, I have a class on Saturday that I'm taking over for another teacher and classes all next week too."
Jim leaned forward, patting Blair's hand. "We're going, get him to do his own class, Chief. We need the time to talk."
Blair took a deep breath and pulled his hand back. "Jim, there's nothing to talk about." His eyes got this hard and cold look. "And there never will be."
Jim got this defeated look and slumped down some. "All right. I just thought we should talk about us and whether or not it would be worth it to still be .. .us." He shrugged and turned back to his computer to do some of the mounds of paperwork he needed to clear. "I don't want you to be uncomfortable around me and you are. I thought you might want to clear the air between us. Nothing sinister." He glanced over to see Blair's face, which was showing great fear. "Chief, you're here as long as you want to be, but I want to be selfish and have it last longer," he said quietly.
Blair nodded and got up, heading for the bathroom.
Jim shook his head in defeat. "Great job Ellison, push him farther away," he told himself.
By the time his partner had come back, Jim had a plan in place. All he had to do was to get the most important detail there, Blair.
Blair opened his eyes and looked around at the back of the van. //I knew I went to bed; in my own bed at that. So, why am I here?// He tried to look around, but he couldn't see over the back of the middle seat. //Damn, I wish I had Jim's abilities. Who knows what psycho's got me this time. And no Jim anywhere.// But that last thought brought an evil little suspicion to his mind. He looked down to check for ropes. //Soft cloth ties?// He had a pillow and a blanket under him; the throw from the couch over him. //Jim kidnaped me? I'll... I'll ... I'll, what will I do? I can't leave him. I'll yell at him. No, he'll get that upset look that makes me feel guilty because he's being an ass.// He cleared his throat. "Jim, you're a dead man, you know that right?"
The van slowly pulled over to the shoulder and was stopped. Someone came around to the back where he was laying, opened the back hatch. Jim.
"Would you like to explain the purpose of kidnaping me?" he asked his friend. //Right now would be good.// "And maybe untie me also?"
Jim didn't say a word, just untied him and pointed toward the front seat. Blair stood and walked around the middle seat, climbing into the comfortable captain's chair in the front. Jim got back in and they started off again.
"So, where are we going?"
Jim didn't say a word.
"You know it's going to be hard for us to talk if you won't."
Jim turned to look at him, but still no speech abilities showed up.
"So, are you like some mute clone of Jim? Or is this non-talking all a part of the plan?"
Jim pulled off at a rest station and got out, locking his door and turning on the car alarm from the keychain. Blair tried to get out also, but the door wouldn't budge, it was locked. "Um, Jim?"
Jim just grinned and went inside the little packette to get them some things and to get some gas. He filled the tank quickly, and went back inside. He came back out with a large paper bag and a smaller plastic one.
Blair watched in interest as he turned off the alarm and put the small bag in the back before getting back in. "So, are you done with this little dance now? Because you know I have a class tomorrow." He crossed his arms as Jim started the van again. "And who's van is this anyway?"
Jim turned, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and started the van. They pulled out and went back to going where ever they had been headed.
Blair frowned at the gates in front of them. The guard came over and talked to Jim, who had gotten out, then waved them on.
Jim got back in and pulled off onto a small side road. They drove through a small wooded area, passing some beautiful scenery, and came out near a waterfall. "Here," was all he said. He got out, coming around to open Blair's door for him, and grabbed their bags from the back of van. He led the still fuming man into an apparently small opening behind the falls.
Blair walked silently behind his partner and friend, unsure of what was going on. //Has Jim flipped out? Did he zone and come out like this? Is this some funny drug reaction? Or has my partner and the man I love actually kidnaped me and taken me here to this... Oh, my, Gods.// He got his first view of the room behind the falls as the entry passage dipped upwards..
It was beautiful, huge, and still mostly natural. Whomever had decorated it had kept the natural splendor intact. The walls were covered in crude paintings on the bare rock, the moss growing naturally between them. There were stone benches covered in unobtrusive fabric cushions. A few openings led to other rooms, one to a warm pool. One opening led to a beautifully carved stone bed with a huge feather mattress.
"Jim, man, where are we?"
"Someplace very special. I asked a few friends if we could come here to work things out." He checked his watch. "Just about in time too." He laid their things past a dark line drawn on the floor. "We're here for a while, get settled in for the night. I'll sleep out here." He went to a built- in rock cabinet and pulled out a small mattress looking pad. He laid it over the couch and laid down. "The bed's fantastic," he whispered when Blair hadn't moved.
Blair started to walk out of the cave, but stopped when he noticed the water coming in farther. The whole front of the cave had been uncovered when they had entered, but now there was water coming in. "Jim, tide?"
"Um-huh. For six days." He opened his eyes and looked up. "Don't worry, it doesn't get above that line ever. This cave has been like this for centuries." He turned his head to see Blair walking back toward him. "We'll be fine here. There's food, water, wood, electricity, and the bathing pool. We'll talk in the morning Blair."
"No, we'll talk now about how kidnapping is a Federal offense," Blair said, putting his hands on his hips. "Now why don't you tell me why you brought me here?"
"To talk. Nothing more and nothing less. We needed to go someplace that wasn't the loft and it was supposed to rain this weekend. I arranged for your classes to be covered by the shithead who was trying to blackmail you into covering for him in the morning. You know, he wasn't real pleased to know that I was a cop." He grinned and looked back up. "Go to bed and we'll talk when you're not pissed."
"No man, we'll talk now." He stomped his foot. "Where are we?"
"I can't give you the name, I can't pronounce it. It's an old Indian tribe's home. When they were forced to move, no one knew any of this was here. Then a group took over the lands and they're allowing us to visit. They won't bother us and we won't go near them. Especially since they're a nudist and spiritual colony and we aren't part of it." Jim shrugged. "I have a friend from the military who works here and he asked the community's leaders if we could come. This place was originally for the newly married couples to come and be alone for a while." He grinned again. "My friend was most amused that you're you and me, well that I knew who you were and still associated with you. Seems your mother lived here for a time back in the late seventies. One of the Elders remembers your having chickenpox here."
Blair sat down hard, and buried his head in his hands. "Jim, this is so not good. First of all you lie, then you kidnap me to someplace where I usually wouldn't be welcome because I'm not a part of the life, and now we're trapped here and everyone will know what's going on." He shook his head. "Not all people like my mother believe in gays either. That free love movement didn't usually include them."
"Blair, calm down. My friend knew and he said the people that told others that had been expelled. Matter of fact he also told the gate guard to tell me that there was a letter for you in by the pool."
"Jim, you don't understand..."
"Blair, I know more than you think. He said there are four openly gay couples here now and all the people who couldn't accept people in all their various forms have been removed." He rolled onto his side and faced his friend and the man he loved. "Blair, calm down. These guys are good ones; they believe it's okay. They want to undo the damage those others did. They want to help us. Hell, one of them even knew what your diss topic was about. He's a native shaman here on retreat and he talked to me for hours about how he had 'seen us' and about how 'we had to get this fixed now or there would be dire consequences'. And I believed him." He reached over and ruffled the curls he had wanted to touch for so long. "Okay? Can we just try and talk?"
Blair sat still for a few minutes, deep in thought. "Yeah, we can. There's nothing wrong with talking." He sighed and stood up, going into the bedroom, then heading back out to the pool area and grabbing the envelope with his name on it before returning to the bedroom. "Good night, Jim."
"Night, Blair," Jim called back and rolled back onto his back. "Sleep well and be at ease," he whispered.
Blair sat down on the edge of the bed and sank backward, letting the comfortable mattress hold him close. //I don't want to sleep alone in here. This bed is huge and it's hugging me.// He wiggled up and leaned against the back, opening the envelope he had found with his name on it.
Let me say this before anything else. We were wrong and we're sorry.
What we told you when you were younger was wrong, stupid, and evil. We had no right to poison your mind like that. I don't know who else reinforced that message, but they were wrong too. Very and absolutely wrong. The only good thing in life is love; it's the reason for the rest to happen.
Blair, forgive us please. Trust us now as you used to and overlook our former stupidity. If you love someone, it's never wrong and can never be wrong. No matter what society (the corrupt institution of hatred) or the media (biased representatives of that institution) tell you.
Your heart, which used to be so pure and carefree, won't lead you wrong in this. If you love him, let him know and do not be afraid of it. He's a good man and would do right by you. Hell, he even puts up with your mother. Trust your instincts and see me on the way home if you want. I'll be waiting, in the same house, for you.
Rain (your former 'father'), and I would love to have you be my son again.)
He laid the paper out, smoothing it against the sheet. Then he did something he hadn't done for a while, he cried.
Jim heard his friend's misery and got up to go see if he could be of help. He tried to knock on the rock but no sound came out so he just walked over and pulled Blair up to hold him tightly. "Ssshh, let it all out," he said softly.
Blair wrapped his arms around Jim's neck and held on as the tears he had been holding back for a while now came to the surface. All the pain, all the hurt those words had caused him came floating up to be disbursed. Every time he had denied himself or turned away from what he felt was right came back also, only to be washed away by the tears and the strong arms holding him. Jim rocked them back and forth slightly, humming deep in his chest to soothe the younger man into an easier state. He let Blair up when he started to laugh, holding him at arm's length and looking at him. "That bad?"
Blair nodded and buried his face in Jim's chest again, asking for and receiving the comfort he needed. When he was finally calm again, he wiggled back some so he could look Jim in the face. "Thank you."
"For?" Blair kissed him on the cheek. "I'm happy you feel better. I never meant to hurt you with my plans."
Blair laughed and launched himself back onto the soft mattress. "You didn't, not really. I hurt myself over it." He saw the dismayed look Jim was giving him. "In here," he added, tapping his head. "I'd always been taught that it was wrong and the one time I almost broke it, it was shown to me that they had been right." He wiggled over onto his side.
"Okay," Jim said, nodding his head, not sure exactly what Blair had been talking about, but sure they could at least talk now. "So, can we talk in the morning?"
"Yeah, man, that would be great," Blair sighed and snuggled down into the bed. "I want to tell you things in the morning though." He closed his eyes, gripping the sheet tightly in his fist.
"Sleep Blair and I'll be right in the next room," Jim said quietly. He pulled the other half of the top sheet over and covered the sleeping younger man, so much like an innocent child at that moment. He stood up and walked out, shaking his head. "Just like a toddler, set them down for five minutes and they take a nap," he muttered, going back to his bench.
Jim awoke to the sound of Blair yelling. He jumped up and ran into the next room, trying to see what was wrong. Blair was flailing around on the bed, trying to hold off some dream monster. Jim sat down on the bed, pulling the younger man over to him and holding him tight. "Blair, come on, Blair." He shook the man slightly. "Come on, buddy, it's just a nightmare. Come one now, wake up for me."
Blair pulled out of his arms and scooted himself back, panting but awake now. He looked around the stone walls, checking to make sure the people from his dream weren't there. He blew out a deep breath. "Thanks, man." He wiped his sweaty brow. "That was a bad one."
"Tell me what happened?" Jim moved to a more comfortable position on the soft mattress. "It might help."
"No, it wouldn't. Trust me on this, nothing will make it go away." He pulled his sweaty hair back, letting the slight breeze cool him off. He leaned over, taking deep breaths to steady and calm himself.
Jim leaned over and touched Blair's shoulder, making him flinch. "It must be bad if you're scared of me. Are you sure you don't want to talk about it?" Blair shook his head. "Do you want me to move my mattress in here and sleep beside you on the floor? That might help some."
"No, thanks though." He looked up, a bright light in his eyes. "It would make it worse," he said quietly.
Jim shook his head. "What happened? It didn't sound like one of our serial psychopaths."
"Nothing. It was a long time before I met you. Just drop it and go back to bed. Please?"
Jim nodded and patted Blair's leg. "If you want to talk or for me to just be here, yell." He stood up and went back to his bed.
Blair watched him go, sadness dripping from his body and eyes. He laid back down, covering himself with the sheet, and closed his eyes, praying for some peace.
Jim looked back from the small stove top and smiled. Blair was sitting at the table, reading the one book Jim had packed for him. He quickly finished the scrambled eggs and dished them out, bringing them over to the table and setting them in front of the two chairs.
"Thanks," Blair said, picking up his fork and eating automatically as he read. Until Jim took the book and put it down on the table. "Hey, I was reading that."
"You know better. House rule number 12: no books at the table during meals." He waggled his fork at the younger man. "You tend to forget to put the food in your mouth when you read at the same time."
"Jim, man, you can be such a *mother* sometimes." Blair took another bite of food. "See, I'm eating."
"Yeah, and you're going to stay that way too." He grinned. "So, we have a radio, your one book, and us. Can we talk today?" Blair shook his head. "Okay, when you're ready. I'm going to go relax in the bathing pool then." He took his last bite and stood up. "Would you do the dishes since I cooked?" Blair nodded and he left the room, heading for the pool.
Blair watched Jim's back, frowning slightly. "How many ways can I say I don't want to talk until you understand it?" he asked quietly.
"Depends, how many languages do you know?" Jim yelled from the next room.
Blair just shook his head, smiling, and finished his breakfast.
It was two hours later that Blair looked up and realized he hadn't seen Jim since breakfast and his disappearance. He closed the book, marking his place, and set it down. He stood and stretched, his back making horrible popping sounds, and walked into the bathing room.
Jim was laying against an edge asleep, so Blair took the opportunity to study him. //Why don't you take no for an answer? Is that a sentinel trait or a Jim thing? What would you do if I told you about what the nightmare was really about? Oh, Gods, he looks so innocent laying there, almost like a big kid. The one he acts like when we're playing. Why won't you relax and be this Jim around me more often? Hmm? You know I fell in love with you because of this Jim, the playful and not so serious man who burped in tune to the song on the truck radio that morning. The one that slipped a gummy worm into my briefcase and let it slime those poor kid's essays. The one that slipped pixie sticks into my briefcase and smarties into my coffee. Why can't you be that Jim more often than the pushy and overprotective mothering one. Not that I don't like that one, but I love the other one. I would be happy if he would stay around longer and the official Detective Ellison took a hike more often. I really would, Jim. If you would just quit pushing, I might be able to come to you and not be so afraid that you'd end up the same way. I just need you to back off some; give me a little space so I could get over my fears and come to you for you.// "That's all, Detective, just a little space so I can get over it and come to you," he whispered and stood up, going back to his book.
Jim opened an eye and watched his progress. "If that's what you need, it's yours, Blair," he whispered. He sunk down some in the water, soaking away some of the tension he had been carrying around for far too long.
Jim set supper on the table, smiling and taking the book out of Blair's hand. "You know that's the only one I packed you, right? After that it's just the radio and us?"
Blair looked up and grinned. "Yeah, but you packed a good one. I can reread that one over and over again for a long time." He attacked his food. "So, how was your soak?"
"Very relaxing, how was your thinking?"
"Not too productive. And yes, before you ask, I did think about us." He took another bite of the pasta and hummed around it. "This is good."
"Canned by one of the nice families around here. It's part of the supplies they left us." Jim sat down and shrugged. "I'd like to thank them on the way out if that's all right."
Blair nodded and swallowed quickly. "Yeah, there's someone I might want to see too; but you know this is a *nudist* colony? That you have to go naked?"
Jim smiled. "I've got nothing to hide. You're the one that wears all those clothes."
"That's me, ready for a polar expedition every day." He took another bite to cover up the painful silence that was about to occur. //Damn, he would have to mention that.//
Jim was staring at Blair, trying to figure out what he had said this time. "I'm going to give you one of those big foam boppers so you can just hit me the next time I say something hurtful," he said quietly.
Blair put down his fork. "Jim, it's nothing. Well, it isn't but it's not something we need to talk about right now." //Or ever if I get my way.//
Jim nodded. "I know and you'll tell me when you're ready, just like everything else." He finished his food quickly, getting up to do the dishes.
Blair watched the stiff back and sighed mentally. "Jim," he said. The older man turned around. "Maybe we both need those foam boppers. I'm sorry man."
Jim came over and dropped a kiss on top of Blair's hair. "For what? For needing to keep something to yourself? Not a problem." He waited while Blair scraped his plate. "Do you want more? There's a little left."
Blair raced over to the stove and grabbed the last of the pasta, sitting back down to watch Jim clean up. When he was done, all but licking the plate, he gave Jim his plate and started to dry. They spent the rest of the night in the comfortable silence they had always shared.
Later, when Blair had another nightmare, Jim moved his mattress in so he could sleep beside the bed, until Blair started to have another one, then he crawled in. He was careful to keep at least the sheet between them all night so Blair wouldn't be too uncomfortable.
Blair looked up and almost snarled. It was their third day of being stranded in the cave and their comfortable silence had dried up last night. "Jim, turn off that polka before I hurt you," he snapped.
Jim reached over and turned the radio off. "Better?"
"No, not really." He ran a hand through his hair. "Why did you do this to us? Strand us here?"
"So we could talk," he answered quietly. "But I'm willing to wait until you're ready."
"That's great, man, and I'm not going to tell you what you need so..."
"So, tell me who Gregory was, or is," Jim said quietly.
Blair spun around and faced him, angry and hurt. "How did you hear about him?"
"Your nightmares." Jim shrugged and turned the page. "I just thought I would understand your reluctance to talk if I knew what the cause was, and the nightmare seems to be a pretty big one." He looked up. "I won't object if you don't tell me but I would like to know what's really bothering you."
Blair stormed out of the main room, going into the bathing pool. He stripped down quickly and submersed himself, doing quick, short laps across the small distance. He surfaced a while later to find a clean towel on the bench and no sight of Jim, so he relaxed back into the warm water.
//Oh, hell, this was a *great* fucking idea, Jim. Kidnap me to make me talk and strand us here for a week so we have to. You *knew* I didn't want to talk about it yet you persist. Why can't you give me the time I need to work through it.// Then he snorted. //Yeah, and I've been working on that so hard too. I've not gotten over Gregory, and I never will. His death was the reinforcement I needed to show me how right Rain and the others were when I was younger. He died because of me liking him and that was it, the only real reason.// He took a deep breath and sunk down, wetting his hair. When he came back up, Jim was standing there with his shampoo.
"May I?" Blair nodded and Jim sat down on the edge of the pool, around Blair's shoulders. He poured some of the sweet smelling shampoo into his hand and started to work it into the top of the hair. "I always wanted to do this for you, I used to dream about using the other shampoo, the one you gave up last month," he said quietly, working the suds down to the ends of the curls. "I never wanted to hurt you either and if you feel we can't even be friends after this, I'll understand." He pulled back his hands. "Done, you can rinse now."
Blair dunked himself back under the water and ran his fingers through his hair. //What is he talking about? Why wouldn't we be friends? Because he came onto me? Because I love him and I can't act on it? That is such a crock of shit and he knows it.// He came back up for air and went back under to make sure all the suds were gone. //We'll still be friends, maybe not the easy and comfortable ones we were for a while, but we'll still be friends, even after this.// He came back up and turned to look for Jim, who had disappeared. //Damn him. How can he drop a sentence like that and leave?// "Jim, get your ass in here," he called softly.
Jim poked his head around the edge of the doorway. "You called? Need some more help?"
"No, and that last thing you said was *such* a crock of crap and you know it." He faced the other wall. "I thought you had learned that by now."
"You know I'm not going to push you away, but if you feel like you can't be around me comfortably," he stressed that word heavily, "then I don't want you to feel guilty about not wanting to be around me."
Blair turned back around and scowled. "That's still a crock and you know it." He thought very carefully about his next move. Then he splashed some of the warm water at the older man.
Jim shook his head and held up a finger, disappearing for a second. He came back, stripping off his shirt on the way, and jumped down into the water.
They started to splash each other, having a great time getting out their aggression in the play. Finally Blair had to declare Jim the winner when he went under the water and hadn't come back up in a few minutes.
"Okay, oh great one, you win. You can come up now," he called. When Jim still didn't show, he dived under the water and found him sitting near the bottom trying to get his shorts out of one of the natural drains.
Blair quickly set his foot over the drain and helped Jim out of his shorts, unbuttoning them for him and sliding them down. They swam back to the surface, both panting by the time they got there.
"Damn man, don't do that again," Blair wheezed.
Jim patted his back. "I didn't exactly plan that one." He kissed the top of Blair's head and started to get out.
"Um, maybe you should stay in for a while. Let me go get you some clothes." Blair scrambled up the few steps to get out.
"Blair, it's nothing you haven't seen before," Jim protested and climbed out. He hurried to the bedroom area, searching for more clothes. "Damn," was the quiet call from the bedroom.
"Problems?" Blair called, wrapping up his hair and heading in there himself.
Jim was squatted down, looking through his bag. He turned his head to see Blair lounging in the doorway. "Have you been stealing my clothes?"
Blair looked down at what was obviously Jim's t-shirt. "Only your shirts," he said. "Didn't you pack enough? I'm sure we could always retrieve that pair of boxers and shorts and wash them out if we need to.
"Blair, I had a week's worth of clothes in here and now I can't even find the dirty ones." He tossed the only thing he could find, a pair of socks, back into his pack.
"Racoons," Blair suggested, earning him a frown. "Well it was a thought. I don't know how it happened. I only steal shirts." He grinned. "It's not like I could wear your shorts or boxers."
Jim shook his head and stood up, walking around the room to see if he couldn't find some more of his clothes. Eventually he gave up and flopped down onto the bed, arms tossed above his head.
"Jim, listen, if it makes you more comfortable we could both go naked. I have no problem with doing that around just you." He shrugged and tugged off his shirt. "If it helps, you could borrow anything of mine that you can fit into."
Jim turned his head and grimaced. "Bad news Chief, I couldn't find any of your's either." Blair groaned and sat down on the floor. "So, nude is okay for you?"
"Yeah," Blair said, chewing on his lip. "Not a problem until we have to leave. That gives us four days to find them."
Jim snorted. "Well, you were the one who said he was bored..."
Blair shook his head and walked back out to the main room.
They spent the next few days walking around each other, reestablishing their former relationship; that closeness and easy comfort that had appeared after their second meeting. They didn't talk much, or about anything like their relationship, but they got comfortable with each other again. Finally, on the fifth day, Jim couldn't take it anymore.
"Blair, talk to me," he said.
Blair looked over his shoulder from the stove. "I thought we had been doing that."
"No, we've been talking at each other, not to each other and we've been avoiding the subject at hand the whole time we've been here practically." He sighed and leaned on the table, looking up from his crossed arms. "You still haven't told me why you love me but you can't do that."
Blair turned around, body stiff. "You do know that eavesdropping is considered impolite in most of the world, right?" Jim nodded, slight grimace in place. "So, why do you do it?"
"I couldn't help it. I tried to turn my hearing down but I was so focused on you that I heard it anyway. So, will you tell me what's really wrong?"
"No, and drop the subject now please." He turned and started to stretch, facing away from Jim.
Jim sighed and walked in front of the younger man, squatting down. "This is silly."
Blair turned away again.
Jim walked around to face him. Blair turned and Jim followed, again and again. Finally Jim couldn't take it any more. He stood up and swatted Blair's hair. "If you keep doing that you'll get stone burn and I'm *not* going to rub cream on it." He walked into the pool room and jumped in.
Blair laid his head down on his legs and closed his eyes. //I tried to tell you but you wouldn't listen. If you would've just dropped it I might have come to you, but I can't do that. Not now. Damn stupid human.// He sighed and stretched further. //Only one more day and we'll be free and I'll be able to return to ignoring you for a while until all this blows over.// He changed positions and stretched down the other leg. The splashing sounds stopped from the pool, making Blair turn his head. //Damn, not again.// He stood, rolling briefly up onto the balls of his feet to work out the small pain, and walked into the pool room.
Jim was floating in the middle of the pool, the skylight above his body showering his chest with colors. Blair looked over him, wondering what it was about the sight that felt so wrong. He looked over his friend from head to toe, taking in all the lax muscles and the closed eyes. //It just looks like he's sleeping,// Blair thought. He started to step back, but something caught his eye in the water. Something silver. He leaned over the edge of the pool and looked down, trying hard to find the shiny substance.
Blair blinked and looked around. The light was gone, Jim was gone. He couldn't hear anyone else in the cave at all. He stood up and walked around, nothing. No Jim, no anything. Even the radio that only got AM stations was gone.
He sat in the middle of the floor and tried to clear his mind and meditate, but nothing would come. He was stuck there. Alone. When he opened his eyes, he was back beside the pool and Jim was still floating.
//Okay, that was strange. What the hell was that?// He stood up and started to pace the confines of the rocks. //One minute I'm here and he's here, the next only I'm here. Man, I thought some of the other things that had happened to us were strange, but this beats it.// He laughed lightly. //That was so stupid of me to get worried about it. It was probably just some vision or something. Nothing serious.// He started to walk into the bedroom and lay down, but he couldn't shake the feeling in the pit of his stomach; that uneasy, almost queasy, feeling that told you something was wrong. The one that you needed to pay attention to or else.
Blair headed back toward the pool and stopped. No Jim again. He ran in and checked the pool's bottom just in case the older man had fallen asleep and slipped under. Nothing. He made a quick circuit of the cave and still no Jim.
Blair started to laugh, sitting down in the middle of the floor. He pillowed his head in his hands and the laughs turned into sobs. //No, no not happening. I'm not here alone, not stranded again. Jim didn't leave me here to go insane or die. He doesn't do things like that. This must be a dream or a vision or something. Nothing else would make sense. Jim doesn't do things like that.// He stood up and ran around the cave, yelling for his partner, but all he heard was Jim's name echoing back to him from the rocks.
Blair went back to the pool and sat back down beside it. He stared into the water, wanting to know what was going on, hoping the water would reflect reality back at him. All he could see was himself. Same Blair, same person, same hair. Alone. He started to sob again, knowing that this was now his reality. Somehow he had been moved here.
Jim came out of his doze and looked around. Blair was sitting beside the pool crying, mumbling. He flipped over and walked back quickly, pulling the smaller man into his arms and down into the water. "Sssshhh, I'm here." He held his best friend and soothed him as best he could. All of a sudden, it came to him; this was what he wanted.
The sex would be great, but if he couldn't comfort, couldn't hold or see or touch his friend, it wasn't worth it.
He stepped back when Blair stopped, holding him at arms length. "I'm sorry," he said.
Blair looked up and smiled, brightly and fully. His eyes alone were enough for Jim though; the smile that had been missing for much too long being back now.(awkward)
"Me too. Oh, Gods, how stupid I've been." He sniffled one last time and pulled Jim closer. "Thank you," he whispered quietly.
"For showing me I was being an ass." At Jim's pulling away, he amended, "for making me see where I was heading by my overreactions and fears and prejudices. For giving me my space, enough so I could figure it out."
Jim just nodded and pulled Blair closer again, still mystified. "You're welcome, but I didn't do anything besides take a nap."
Blair gave him one last squeeze before leading him up the stairs. "I think I know where our clothes are," he said quietly, leading Jim into the bedroom.
Jim had other ideas. He pushed Blair onto the bed and crawled in beside him, pulling him close enough to hold. "I just want to be here now," he said. Blair nodded and they fell asleep, right where they belonged.
Blair woke up and suddenly it felt like all the pieces in his life now almost fit together. There were still some spaces left open, but not many, and he felt whole.
He rolled over, smiling at the older man holding him tightly. //You did this, made me whole. No more pieces ever, huh. So, now what? I might be in love with you, but I don't have a clue what to do with you.// His smile got brighter and he snuggled back down into the strong arms that had always held and helped him. //Through all the crap we've been through, you've been there. These arms and that grin have always been beside me and around me and I never noticed. What a piss- poor observer I turned out to be.// He closed his eyes and just laid there, comfortable for the first time in a long time.
Jim's arms tightened around him once, then relaxed. "Hi," he said quietly.
Blair opened an eye and raised a finger to his lips, silencing them from any more intrusions. "Nope, not another word for a while." Jim nodded and settled his head(chin?) on the top of Blair's head.
Blair's mind was going around in circles, trying to figure things out. //Should I tell him? What should I tell him? Should I tell him about Gregory? Should I tell him the others stuff that was force-fed to me as a child? Should I tell him how I really feel? How about what I want and need? Will it end up happening again? Can I afford to waste this time if it does?// That last thought galvanized him into action. "Jim? Could we talk now?"
Jim's smile would have lit up the whole cave complex if the lights had been out. "Sure, anything and everything you're ready for." He placed a soft and gentle kiss on Blair's forehead. "Whenever you're ready."
Blair cleared his throat a few times and opened his mouth. When nothing came out, he closed it again. "I don't know where to start," he said, amazed.
Jim laughed and rolled them so Blair was laying across his chest. "So, start at the beginning."
Blair ginned. "Well, it started out at this nice commune..." Jim groaned and started to tickle him. They rolled around on the bed for a few minutes, just enjoying their playful sides. Finally Blair rolled away and got to his knees. "Enough man, I can't take any more."
Jim nodded and rolled onto his back, holding up an arm so Blair would come and lie on his chest again. After the younger man had found a comfortable spot by rubbing his head around and wiggling, Jim started to comb through his hair, playing with the curls and waves. "So, you were conceived on a commune?"
Blair nodded. "Yeah, my mom ran away to join one when her parents didn't understand." He sighed. "But later, here to be exact, was where the trouble started." He took a deep breath and took the letter out from under a pillow, handing it over. Jim read it quietly, continuing to stroke through Blair's curls.
"So, they told you it was wrong?" He dropped the letter to the floor and hugged the younger man closer to him. "You know that they were wrong, right?"
"Now I do. When I woke up, it was like all the puzzle pieces of my life had suddenly started to fit together right. I woke up and realized they had dropped into perfect alignment and had started to form a beautiful picture." He stroked over the strong chest muscles he was using for a pillow. "Thank you."
"For making me complete and ... and ... whole, and teaching me they were wrong, evidence notwithstanding."
"Okay, now you've lost me again, Chief," Jim said, rolling them over so he could lie on the hairy mass that Blair called his chest. "What evidence?" He groaned. "Gregory?"
Blair nodded. "He was the first I felt anything for, that I *let* myself feel anything for. He, um, he died shortly after I told him." Blair rolled onto his side, curling up into the body next to him. I told him and he just stood there, stunned, on the street corner. We were on our way to a lecture, my choice, and then, well then a car jumped the curb and ..." He buried his face in Jim's neck.
"Oh, babe, I'm sorry." He rocked them back and forth, pulling himself up so Blair would(could) rest more comfortably against him. "I'm sorry, so so so sorry, babe."
Blair sniffled a few times and looked up. "You would have liked him. We were *so* alike." He smiled. "Well, he was growing to be more like a cross between Henry and Rafe, but we started out so alike."
Jim shook his head, not even able to picture that mix. "So, you told him and he was hit and so you believed them?" Blair nodded. "But that was an accident, a coincidence. It might have happened even if you hadn't told him."
Blair nodded. "I understand that, but the timing combined with the 'enforced' teachings of the people here, especially Rain, were enough to make me believe they were connected." He buried his head in Jim's neck again. "Up until I woke up a few minutes ago."
"Ahhhh, now I get it. That was why you loved me but you couldn't, right?" Blair nodded. "But you've realized now they were wrong?"
"I'm not so sure of that yet, but I don't care. I'm not letting you go without telling you and I'll hold on to you for as long as I can."
"Forever, Blair, forever," Jim promised, rocking them both slowly. "You're mine and I'm not letting you go anytime soon, not even to be hit by a train."
Blair started to laugh. "Please don't say things like that. You never know who might be listening."
Jim hugged him tightly and they lay there for a long time, savoring what they already had and anticipating what they could build.
Finally Jim looked over and smiled. "I think you were right about the clothes," he said quietly, pulling Blair's chin up so he could see the piles of clothes that hadn't been seen for a few days.
Blair started to laugh. "See, I told you it was raccoons, man." Jim groaned and started to tickle him again. But this time, Blair was going to play dirty. He rolled them over, landing on top of Jim's chest and straddling it. He pinned the bigger man's arms down and kissed him, possessing the mouth of his lover for the first time.
When Jim could talk again, he started out by smiling. "Not bad, but we can't do this here." Blair's face fell. "I don't have the stuff with me to make love to you and we've only got a few more hours before we have to leave." He shrugged. "I'm sure we can finish this at home, though. Would love to make love to you in the loft," he whispered, kissing Blair.
Blair hummed and licked at the retreating lips. "We could stay," he suggested. "Just pop out to get the stuff we'd need."
Jim pulled back and looked at his lover. "Do you even know what we need?" Blair blushed slightly. "See, we need to be back to civilization so I can show you everything."
"Jim, I know....," his protest was cut off by a large finger.
"Later, in *our* home, in *our* bed, we'll make love and I'll show it all to you." Blair nodded so he removed his finger. "Now then, we're going to need to get ready."
"Can I try something first?" Blair asked. "Do we have enough time?"
Jim got up and ran out to the sloping entry way, checking to see if the water had started to recede yet. "Yeah," he said, crawling slowly across the huge feather mattress, "we've got enough time to do a few things."
"Good," Blair said, pushing Jim down onto his back. "I've wanted to do something for you since you somehow got that candy necklace embedded in you." Jim flushed slightly. "Ah-ha, so that was a set up," he declared, making Jim nod. "That's okay, Jim, I wanted it and you did what you thought was the thing to make me come to you," he whispered into the older man's ear. "But for now, I want to worship your body."
"Blair, you don't have to..."
"Na-huh. I'm going to take my little virgin mouth and my virginal inclinations and imaginings and eat...you .... alive." That said, he leaned down to place a sucking kiss over Jim's heart.
Jim moaned, so Blair moved down, touching all the places he liked to have touched on him, recording his lover's responses for later, when they had *much* more time. He nibbled and licked and sucked and tongue bathed his way down the hard body, stopping to play with pertinent spots. When he finally got to his main objective, he looked up with a huge grin and took a broad lick across the tip. "That's what that was!" He punched Jim in the arm. "You big goof!" he exclaimed, rolling over laughing.
Jim just lay there and looked confused until he realized what Blair was talking about. "Yeah, that's what that was."
Blair rolled back over, hugging and kissing his lover until he couldn't breathe. "My big goof," he whispered. Jim nodded in agreement and they both started to laugh at what the older man had done and the lengths he had gone to to prove Blair was his.