Blair contemplated the drops as they made their way down the window in streams.
It had to be raining. Somehow that made it more fitting. Yet the gentle misting rain didn't quite fit. No, he needed pounding, hurtful, angry rain. That would be the order of the day. Thunder and lightning, and maybe some wind. Not this half hearted attempt, but rather a full force gale.
He never thought that it would really matter to him what others thought of his work. Success was something that had always come naturally to him. Failure had never seemed like an option, so he did the only thing available to him. He succeeded. He worked hard and applied himself, at school and in life. He knew he was smart and had come a long way in dispelling the insecurities of youth. But, in the blink of an eye, that hard-earned confidence had shattered into pieces.
Blair looked at the letter, crumpled in his hand.
...Thank you for your submission...
He had worked really hard on that paper. It was one of his favorite essays. He had really poured his heart and soul into it. What's more, he really believed in it. It could have *real* consequences in the field, not just be relegated to the shelf to be read by some undergrad looking for a quote. No, this could change everything.
...We would be interested in seeing other work from you...
It was just a paper though. A couple of weeks worth of research and thought, sketched out during a stakeout with Jim, edited at the station between doing Jim's reports. It was only thirty sheets of paper. Right?
...but perhaps you should look elsewhere to publish this particular submission...
It was only thirty sheets of paper. Wood fiber, ground up and mushed together, bleached and dried. Thin and crackling with newness. Just thirty sheets of paper.
...if you have any work that is more fitting for our publication, then please consider submitting them...
He could always come up with thirty more sheets of paper.
"Chief? You okay?"
Blair turned, as Jim set the groceries down on the counter. He was obviously concerned about finding his lover staring out the balcony doors.
"Yeah, Jim. I'm okay." Blair crumpled the paper in his hand and after tossing it in the garbage, went to help unpack the groceries.
"Well, your definition of 'fine' and my definition of 'fine' must be two different things then. 'Cause you don't look fine. Your heartbeat's off too."
Blair grumbled about the joys of living with a Sentinel who doted far too much, even for a lover.
"I heard that. " There was a polite pause. "So Mr. Let's-Talk-About-Things, what's going on in your head, huh?" Jim grabbed two beers from the fridge and handed one over to his guide, hoping that it would lubricate the conversation. He just knew that his partner needed some space and didn't rush to enfold the younger man within his arms as his instincts screamed for him to do.
"It's nothing, Jim. Really." As he accepted the beer, Blair felt almost embarrassed about the whole situation. Jim wouldn't understand why he was so upset. Losing a criminal in a chase, having a perp get acquitted, getting pay cuts, losing friends, lovers, partners, army buddies and family to violence, prejudice and the ravages of time . . . these were losses that Jim would understand and would see why they were important But a silly little rejection letter?
"You always say that it's better to talk about things than to let them simmer." Jim rested his hip against the counter, prepared to out wait his unusually reticent lover.
"I know, man. I know." Blair sipped his beer. "I just got a letter about that paper I submitted to the American Journal of Anthropology. They turned it down. No big deal, right?"
Was that nonchalant? Did the deep pain stay hidden?
"Sounds like a big deal to me, Chief. Isn't that the paper you spent all that time looking for that one reference for?"
Blair looked up in surprise. Surprise that Jim would actually remember. Not that Jim was unthoughtful. He was one of the most attentive and caring lovers that Blair had ever had. But the Sentinel had never really shown an interest in his anthropological work that wasn't related to Sentinel 'stuff'. Once Blair had explained to him that this paper had nothing to do with Sentinels, Jim hadn't seemed overly interested in the topic. But once again, Sentinel threw Guide for a loop.
"Uh, yeah, that's the one."
"So why did they turn it down?"
"Oh, you know. Not what they're looking for. Stuff like that." As Blair saw the actual interest and concern in Jim's eyes, he decided to unload the frustration and rage that the rejection had spawned, suddenly not caring if Jim would understand.
"I don't know if you remember what the paper was about Jim, but it was about a core assumption that underlies anthropological study. Most anthropologists are committed to cultural relativism. You know, you can't judge another culture because you're using your own culture's values. And it's pretty basic as a principle. I mean, the first thing they drum into you as an undergrad is that we can't be imperialistic and judge other cultures." Blair began pacing as he continued
"But you see, Jim. There is work being done that suggests that cultures aren't that different when it comes to really deep values, that cultural relativism isn't the be all and the end all . Granted, most of the work isn't being done in anthropology, most of its coming out of philosophical work. My paper was arguing that we had to take that work seriously within anthropology, not just ethics in philosophy. And it was a good paper Jim! It was. The reasoning was sound. The thesis was tenable. Sure there were some criticisms that I would expect, but the whole point of journals is to spawn discussion right?"
Jim simply nodded, eyes locked on the agitated guide, exuding quiet, yet solid, emotional support.
"But they turned it down. Not because it wasn't
good. I mean, they want to see other stuff Jim. They just don't want anyone
suggesting that the way things are going isn't necessarily the right way. It just
really pissed me off, man."
Blair pushed his hair back from his face and blew air through his lips in frustration. He went back to the balcony doors and stared out at the grey world, crossing his arms over his chest, trying to keep the despair at bay. He continued in a quiet voice. So quiet that Jim had to turn up the dial a notch to hear him clearly.
"I've never been rejected by a journal. I'm not used to being told that my research wasn't good enough. I just knew that my academic stuff wasn't going to be questioned or put down because that was what I was good at. That no matter what else happened, I'd succeed at one thing. This just kinda rocked the boat a little."
Jim came over to stand behind him.
"I think that they don't know what they're doing and it's their loss." Jim quietly mused. "What's more, there's one more other thing you can be sure of. You're a success here. With me. I'd be lost without you. What you've managed to do for me - and to me - since that day you walked into the hospital is more amazing than anything else I could possibly imagine. Whatever happens out there, Chief, know that the success you've had as a guide, my guide and lover, is never going to go away. Our love is a success that can't be questioned."
Blair felt his throat constrict at the declaration of love. Jim wasn't the most verbal man in the world, preferring to act out his feelings. But the little speech was the first step in shoring up the banks of Blair's self esteem and confidence which had threatened to collapse in the flood of self doubt. Blair made as though to turn around, but an arm around his chest hugged him close to the larger man and held him in place.
"You're my Guide Blair. Don't think that others' prejudiced judgements about your work makes an impact on who you are and what you're worth to me."
Content to absorb the affection and love behind the words, Blair let Jim give him the comfort he had desperately needed. Then, in a voice Sentinel-soft and laden with appreciation and reciprocated affection, he whispered,
"Let me show you how much you mean to me, sweetheart." Jim wrapped his other arm about Blair's waist as well and gently undulated his hips. He nuzzled at Blair's neck, gently kissing a line along his jaw. Blair arched back into his touch, reaching up and back to caress Jim's face, grasping at his short hair.
"Oh, yeah." Blair moaned as Jim sucked voraciously at Blair's collarbone. Blair felt the worries of the day fade as Jim's attentions went straight to his groin. He twisted in Jim's arms and titled his head up for a kiss. Jim obliged and tenderly melded their lips together, teasing Blair's mouth open with his tongue, exploring the familiar depths.
"You <kiss> are so <kiss> important <kiss> to me." Jim managed to say between deep kisses. Blair gasped as Jim swept him off his feet with an arm under his knees.
"Jim! Put me down!" He laughed. "You'll put out your back!"
Jim ignored him and gallantly carried the slighter man up the stairs to *their* bed. With a tenderness that only Blair had ever really seen, Jim centred his lover in the bed. He held himself over Blair on his hands and knees, straddling the beloved compact body that housed the other half of his soul. Lowering his head he bypassed the lips that parted in expectation and after running his tongue along the rim of Blair's right ear he whispered roughly,
"I'm going to make you scream for me."
"Is that a threat or a promise?" Blair moaned at the lust in his lover's voice. Deep and husky, it sent tendrils of passion straight to his cock which was doing its best to burrow out of his jeans.
"Both" Jim growled.
Within minutes the two were writhing together, skin on skin, having divested each other of clothes with the ease of much practice.
Jim disengaged their mouths with a groan of protest from Blair. The larger man encouraged Blair to pull up his legs to his chest, baring his centre. Jim kissed an inner thigh and grinned as Blair shivered in anticipation. Blair tossed his head as he felt Jim trail a stream of kisses down his thigh to lave the underside of his weeping cock with a talented tongue. His hips jerked upwards, craving stronger stimulation.
"More Jim . . . more." The panting groan encouraged Jim to reverently kiss the tip of Blair's cock before turning his attention to more exotic fare. He sucked gently at Blair's perineum, nuzzling the tight balls with his nose. The resultant whimpers were music to a Sentinel's ears. He slowly licked downward to the puckered opening and teased it, barely stroking it with the tip of his tongue. Undiluted Blair.
Blair twisted his hands in the sheets, willing Jim to go on, to do more. He resisted the urge to grab Jim's head and guide him to his straining erection, wanting to have Jim do this for him. He felt the probing touch and purred deep in his throat and Jim slowly worked the tip of his tongue into the opening, caressing the sides. The knowledge alone that Jim would be so intimate and loving was almost enough to set him off, but he struggled back from the edge, wanting them to reach completeness together . . . united, as in all things.
"Jim . . . please . . . ugh . . . oh god. In me."
More than happy to oblige, Jim urged Blair onto his stomach. Taking the time to prepare his lover, he soon had Blair writhing back onto three fingers, urging him on with an enticing wriggle of that incredibly sexy ass. Jim stroked the firm muscles, and after placing a kiss on each globe, parted the cheeks and guided his slicked cock into that tight clingy place that always welcomed his presence.
"So good baby . . . So hot. All mine." Jim moaned
At the last murmur Blair surged back to meet the gentle thrust of his lover. He cried out as the firm cock massaged his prostate in a succession of ecstasy. They moved with a rhythm that spoke of familiarity, there was no shyness, reserve or uncertainty. Perfect harmony, perfect love.
Jim opened his senses and barely kept from zoning: the scent of natural Blair and the arousal that they generated, the sound of the whimpers Blair emitted in the height of passion, the sight of sweat beading and rolling down the subtle planes of Blair's back and between shoulder blades, the taste of arousal, the feel of the clenching sheath around his cock. A sensory banquet with Blair as appetizer, main course and dessert.
The shudders that wracked Blair's body signalled the end and Blair screamed in passion as he came, his ass clenching uncontrollably, his untouched erection spraying his come onto the sheets. Jim thrust into Blair's ass and shouted with unadulterated joy as his orgasm welled up within him and he filled his lover with his seed.
Jim managed to keep from crushing his lover, despite the lethargy that filled his limbs. He made as though to pull out, but Blair rolled them - still connected - onto their sides, clutcching Jim's arms around his waist. Spooned together, they basked in the afterglow of their mating, all thoughts of papers and journals banished into the dark where such demons reside.
The rain continued outside, cleansing the world, rejuvenating and refreshing life.