Feedback onlist or to: Annie


BETAED by Lyn, the best and fastest beta in the business. Thanks sis, for all the encouragement and support over the past couple of very difficult months. I wouldn't be doing this stuff if it wasn't for you.

RATING: NC:17. Explicit m/m sex.

DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel do not belong to me. This was written purely for entertainment purposes and no money has changed hands. No copyright infringement intended.

SUMMARY: Jim learns a lesson about honesty in relationships.


"Hey Blair, how you doing, man?"

Blair looked over and gave a wave to the detective who'd greeted him. "Fine, Rafe. How about you?"

"Overworked and underpaid. You know the story, Sandburg," Rafe replied mournfully.

"You're not the only one, man. Hey, where's Jim?" Blair asked, seeing his partner's chair was empty.

"He's in with the captain. You might as well go right in. Jim was expecting you, wasn't he?" Rafe said.

"Yeah, but I'm actually 10 minutes early. Thought I'd give the big guy a surprise," Blair answered, grinning.

"Be careful, kid. You do it once, he's gonna expect you to be early every time," Rafe warned, holding up a cautionary finger.

"Nah, Jim knows me too well, Rafe." Blair smiled again as he headed for the captain's door. He was about to walk right in as the door was slightly ajar but then he remembered Simon's constant admonishments about him knocking before he entered. Now that he was a bona fide member of the department as a paid consultant, Blair figured he should show his boss that he was trying to follow orders. He lifted his hand to knock, then stopped as he heard his name mentioned. Moving back a little he listened, pushing back the vague sense of guilt he felt at eavesdropping. Jim's voice was slightly raised as if he was annoyed by something the captain had said.

Blair knew that under normal circumstances, Jim would have known he was there anyway, but he remembered Jim complaining of a headache this morning and Blair telling him to keep his hearing down unless he really needed to dial it up. Fairly confident that Jim was too involved in his discussion with the captain to know he was there, Blair took a quick look around the bullpen and saw that it was empty. Rafe had obviously gone for a break or something. Standing as still as he could, breathing shallowly, Blair listened.

"I'm not gay, Simon. Look, I don't know who the hell started these rumors about me and Sandburg but it's all crap," Jim said vehemently.

"Jim, listen. What you and Sandburg do in your own home on your own time is your business. I just thought you should know what's being said around the station. It was bound to happen, what with you letting Blair stay on after he'd said he was a fraud…"

"He was never a fraud, Simon," Jim interrupted.

"Hell, I know that. I'm just saying, to people who don't know any different it seems a bit strange that you'd keep him living and working with you after that," Simon explained patiently.

"I thought we'd taken care of that by publicising his record with the PD as the reason he'd been hired as a consultant," Jim said.

"To the outside world, it did take care of it, Jim. I don't think the majority of the Cascade public even remembers much about it anymore. There've been a lot bigger news stories since then but I'm talking about the department here, Jim. What did Sandburg call it? A closed society?" Simon asked. "Like I said, I don't care either way, though as your friend, yours and Blair's, I'd like to think you'd trust me enough to tell me if something like this had happened…"

"It hasn't," Jim interrupted again. "Look, for the last time, Simon, Sandburg and I are not lovers, okay?"

Blair gasped inaudibly. Jim was denying their relationship, lying about it to the one man Blair knew they could trust with their secret? Feeling a cold chill settle around his heart, Blair moved quietly away from the door and out of the bullpen, bumping into Rafe on his way through the door.

"Whoa, Blair, where are you going in such a hurry? Did you manage to surprise your partner?" Rafe asked, looking Blair over curiously. Sandburg looked pale and his eyes held a dazed look, as if he'd had some bad news. Rafe reached out a hand and steadied his friend with a hand on his shoulder. "Hey, Blair, you all right? Did something happen? You get some bad news or something?"

"Or something," Blair whispered, so quietly that Rafe could barely hear the words. "Look, if Jim asks for me tell him I went out for a while. I'll catch up with him at home later," Blair said, only a little louder.

"Sure, man. You sure you're okay. Where's your jacket? It's raining like crazy out there. You bring your car?" Rafe asked, concerned now. Blair's eyes held a glint of moisture as if he was trying to hold back tears.

"Yeah, I got my car, Rafe. I'll be okay. Just give Jim…" His voice broke on the name.

"I will, Blair. You take care, buddy," Rafe assured him. He patted the shoulder under his hand and watched as Blair walked quickly to the elevator. *What the hell had Ellison said to upset the kid this time?* Rafe wondered. He'd thought that after the fiasco over Sandburg's dissertation had settled down and Blair had been taken on as an employee of the department that Jim and Blair's relationship had settled back into the close friendship it had been before Blair's drowning. Rafe still got shivers every time he thought about watching Sandburg come back to life under Jim's hands. He didn't understand how it had happened and he didn't much care. Blair had survived. That was all that mattered at the time. Rafe moved over to his desk and sat down, deep in thought. It seemed like it was right after that happened, after Barnes had been captured down in Mexico that the problems between Jim and Blair had started. Instead of drawing them closer, it seemed to push them apart. Then suddenly, after Blair had said he'd lied about Jim having heightened senses, something that most people thought would destroy their friendship completely, the two had become even closer. Blair stayed on at the loft and now he worked full time with Jim, as well as being on call to any of the other Major Crime detectives who needed his expertise in human behaviour and anthropology. And Blair was damn good at his job, too, Rafe thought. It wasn't unusual for him to be juggling two cases at once.

Rafe had no doubt that Ellison was responsible for Blair's sudden change in mood today. He looked up as Jim walked out of Simon's office, looking grim.

"Rafe," Jim called, "You seen Sandburg? He was supposed to be here 5 minutes ago."

"Yeah, he was just here, Jim, but he seemed like he was upset and he left. Said to tell you he was going out for a while and he'd catch you back home," Rafe replied, watching Jim closely for his reaction.

Jim glanced across and saw Blair's backpack and jacket next to Simon's door. "Shit! How long ago was he here?"

"He just left like 3 or 4 minutes ago, man. He said he had his car here, though, so you probably won't catch up with him now."

Rafe watched as Jim walked slowly over and picked up Blair's things. "I told him it was raining outside, Jim. Asked him about his jacket but he was really down about something. I don't understand it. When he came in he was laughing and joking about how he was gonna surprise you being 10 minutes early. I went out for a coffee and when I came back he nearly mowed me down as he came through the door. You didn't speak to him when he came in?" Rafe asked, confused now. *Maybe Sandburg had gotten a phone call while he was waiting for Jim, someone calling with bad news, his mom perhaps…*

Rafe's thoughts were brought to a sudden stop by Jim's voice breaking in. "Rafe, tell the captain I had to go home for a while. Say my headache got worse and I might not be in until tomorrow, okay?"

"Sure, Jim. Um, what should I say if he asks where Blair is?" Rafe asked, hesitantly. He glanced up at Ellison, shocked by the look he saw on the other detective's face. Jim looked as bad as Blair had a few minutes ago.

"Tell him Blair phoned in sick. Must be this 'flu' bug that's going around," Jim replied, his voice suddenly sounding weary. "Sorry to ask you to lie for us, Rafe, but it's important. I've got to go find Blair, tell him I didn't mean…" Jim suddenly seemed to catch himself. Awkwardly he reached out and gave Rafe's shoulder a pat then turned and hurried out the door.

Rafe watched him go then turned back to his own work. He'd cover for them. They were his friends and he hoped they could sort out whatever had gone wrong this time. Rafe had heard the rumors about Ellison and Sandburg being more than friends. He really could care less. He had several gay friends and he didn't treat them any differently than he did his straight ones. All he knew was that Blair and Jim were meant to be together and he'd do whatever it took to make sure they didn't lose each other again. Witnessing Jim thinking he'd lost Blair once was enough for Rafe. He hoped never to see anyone in that much emotional pain again. He looked up as Captain Banks approached his desk and quickly rehearsed the story Jim had given him.


Blair had only made it 3 blocks from the PD before his car stalled at the lights and refused to start again. A passing uniform cop who recognised him from the station helped him push it to the side of the road and offered him a lift, which Blair refused. He couldn't face seeing Jim yet and he felt he couldn't go home. Was it still home? Even after Jim had let him stay on after his week was up when his warehouse exploded along with the drug lab next door, Blair had still not quite let himself believe the loft was *his* home. Sure, he lived there with Jim but he paid his own way most of the time. He'd only really felt like it was his home when he and Jim had committed to each other. Shaking off those thoughts for now, he waved the cop on and started walking. Without even thinking about it he headed for the warehouse district, back to where he'd been when his journey with Jim had begun.

He kept walking long after he was drenched to the skin and beginning to shiver with cold. Looking down, startled by the sudden stinging in his hands, he saw that his fingers were tinged with blue. He stopped, bending double, hands on knees and stared at his reflection in a puddle at his feet. His image was blurred and wavery on the windblown surface of the water and his face looked gray. Blair blinked the rain from his eyes and looked again. A face filled with inexpressible sorrow looked back at him. Jim would probably be worried about him by now. "Yeah right," he said sarcastically back at his reflection as he straightened and began to walk again.

Another block or three or four, he'd stopped counting by then, and Blair could see the burned out shell of his old home ahead of him. A chain link fence stretched partway round the perimeter, shreds of yellow police ribbon still hanging to the wire, warning trespassers away. He made his way to the gap in the fence and walked through, finding a corner of the building that didn't look as if it would crash down on his head with the first heavy gust of wind. It was relatively protected from the rain by an overhanging piece of roof that had survived the blast.

He sat on the damp ground and pulled his knees up under his chin, wrapping his arms around them and trying to warm his hands by rubbing them up and down his wet jeans. It didn't work very well and he soon gave up, his hands clenched in tight fists across his legs. Tears spilled over as he finally allowed the memories through, picturing each one as clearly as if they were being shown on a screen in front of him, instead of in his head. With each one the feelings gained force and soon he was sobbing quietly, his head buried in his arms and his tears soaking into the rain drenched cloth of his shirt sleeves.

Eventually he stopped crying, feeling wrung out, his emotions torn out of him and leaving him hollow. He dredged the memories up again, trying to gain some sense of why Jim would disavow him now just when Blair had thought their life together was really beginning.

They'd made love once after they'd come back from Mexico, although having now experienced really making love with Jim, Blair preferred to think of it as having sex. Blair was still having nightmares about Alex and the fountain and one night after a particularly vivid dream that had left both Blair and Jim shaken, Jim had held his guide close and kissed him. Blair had responded eagerly. The kiss had led to an almost frantic coupling that left them both sated and breathless but when Jim hadn't approached him again after that night, Blair had put it down to some sort of Sentinel thing, a need for the Sentinel to re-establish the bond with his Guide perhaps.

Jim already knew Blair was bisexual. Blair had felt the need to tell him when the detective had let him stay at the loft. He'd assured Jim he had no intention of jumping his bones and he remembered his partner laughing as Blair had said it. As if the thought of the smaller man forcing the musclebound detective into bed was so unlikely as to be funny. He'd been scared at the time that Jim would kick him out but Jim had simply shrugged and said it was none of his business who Blair slept with as long as he didn't do it in the loft.

So Blair struggled through a series of destined to fail relationships, trying to convince himself each time that this one was the real thing, even while his heart was telling him the real thing was a buff 6 feet tall Sentinel sleeping in the room above Blair's.

After Naomi had inadvertently leaked his dissertation, exposing Jim's Sentinel abilities to the world, Blair had felt as if his life was in ruins. He'd held the press conference in an effort to save Jim's credibility and career, all the while knowing he was sacrificing his own. The Sentinel thought he'd done it for friendship but for his Guide it went much deeper than that. Blair loved Jim, was *in* love with him and had been for a long time. His career, even his life, meant nothing to him without Jim to share it.

At first, Blair had just been grateful that the detective had let him take back his role as guide and partner on the job and he'd buried his real feelings for Jim as deep as he could. He'd pleaded with every deity he could think of not to let him slip up and reveal anything. But gradually, the usual touches that Blair had come to expect from Jim became more like caresses and the occasional hug more frequent and heartfelt.

One night, a stray bullet on a stakeout had grazed Blair's head. It was only a small laceration requiring three stitches but Jim had gone into full-blown Blessed Protector overdrive, according to Simon. When Blair had come round from the concussion, Jim had been holding his hand, not unlike he'd done when Blair had been overdosed with Golden and when Alex had drowned him. But this time when Blair was fully awake, Jim hadn't let go of his hand. Instead, he'd said, "I can't risk you doing this anymore without telling you how I feel."

Blair had been prepared to argue, thinking it was going to be the usual disagreement about him not being a cop. But this time, Jim had rendered him speechless, first by bending and gently kissing his lips and then by saying, "Blair, I love you. I've loved you for so long. I just wanted you to know that in case…" His voice had broken at that point and Blair had pulled him down and kissed him back and finally let his love for Jim take wing.

They'd made love tenderly the next night, after Blair had been discharged from the hospital, and almost every night since. Not like the first time. This wasn't just sex. It wasn't about the Sentinel-Guide bond. It was love, pure and simple.

A week ago Jim had bought Blair a diamond earring stud and asked him to wear it as a confirmation of their commitment to each other. The next day, Blair had bought Jim a small plain silver disc on a chain that he'd had engraved on the back. Nothing revealing - just "To Jim from Blair" and the date they'd become lovers. They'd talked a little about the rumors that were going around the PD about their relationship but Jim had brushed them off, saying the rumors had been around as long as Blair had. He swore they didn't bother him but he didn't want to confirm them to anyone either. He'd been shocked and more than a little angry when Blair admitted that he'd already told Naomi about their relationship. He wasn't mollified in the least by his lover's assurance that his mother had been happy for them.

The rumors didn't bother Blair either but for a different reason. He thought that in this day and age he and Jim should be free to show their love for each other. It was the first time they'd fought since they'd become intimate and it shook them both. Eventually they'd decided on a compromise. They wouldn't advertise the fact that they were lovers but should someone they could trust ask, then they would tell the truth. And if Simon couldn't be trusted, Blair wondered who could? After all, he'd kept the Sentinel thing secret all these years. But instead Jim had lied to Simon and in doing so had crushed Blair's hopes and dreams like so much dust beneath his feet.

Blair closed his eyes. Now that he'd thought it through, he felt more heartsick than ever. Jim was ashamed of him, his hippie partner, the fraud. Blair castigated himself with names he'd never heard Jim use toward him, trying to fire up some anger against his lover. But he couldn't. He even failed at that.

The sky was darkening now and the rain, which had stopped briefly, began to pelt down. Blair tried to huddle deeper within his meager shelter and then realized that he'd stopped shivering. He didn't even feel cold anymore. His whole body felt numb save for a small cold spot over his heart. He felt overwhelmingly tired and despite his best intentions to stay awake, his head dropped back down to rest on his arms and his eyelids slowly drooped closed.

It could have been hours or minutes later that he heard someone calling his name. Some part of him recognized the voice as Jim's but he brushed the thought aside and tried to bury himself deeper in the fuzzy cottonwool that held him, warm and immobile in its strands.

A hand gripped his chin, forcing his face up and the concern in the voice became more urgent. He didn't want Jim to be worried so he pushed his eyelids open against their leaden weights and blinked until Jim's face wove into view above his.


"Jesus, Blair, you're frozen. What the hell did you think you were doing…" Jim stopped speaking as Blair flinched back against the wall, pulling away from his hand.

"Tired," Blair said, "Need to sleep. Don't want to think anymore." His words were mumbled and indistinct but Jim heard them clearly.

He reached a hand toward his partner and grasped his shoulder. Blair's head had dropped forward again and Jim reached to brush the dripping strands of hair away from the cold face, tipping Blair's head up so he could look into his eyes. Blair's gaze was dull and vacant. He seemed to have no sense of where he was or the fact that his temperature was sub-normal. Jim was even more worried when he realized no shivering shook the small frame. Blair was definitely hypothermic. Talking could wait until he was home, safe and warm. He grabbed the front of Blair's sodden shirt in his fists and levered the smaller man to his feet. Blair stood, his knees bowing under his weight, his head falling forward to rest against Jim's chest.

Jim shifted his grip until he could reach around and heft Blair over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. He patted the back of the leg nearest him and said quietly, "I'm sorry, Chief."

Blair muttered something as Jim carried him to the truck but by then Jim was too busy trying to maneuver his cold burden into the passenger seat to take much notice. He secured the seat belt around his mostly upright partner then hurried around to climb into the driver's seat. Starting the engine, he turned the heater up full and directed the vents towards Blair, who sighed and turned his body into the warmth. His eyes were closed again, but they moved restlessly under the lids as if he was caught in the throes of some dream he couldn't escape. He murmured something but the only word even Sentinel hearing could make out clearly was, "sorry", repeated over and over.

As Jim moved the car away from the kerb, the muttering died away as Blair drooped further over on the seat. Jim stroked a hand over Blair's head once, gently, then turned his attention back to the road.

By the time they reached the loft, Blair was only a little more cognizant of his surroundings than he'd been when Jim found him. He managed to stumble to the elevator with Jim's help but inside, he slid down the wall and curled into a ball on the floor, apparently sleeping.

Jim knelt beside him and tapped his cheeks. Getting no response, he sighed and pulled Blair up to slump against him until the elevator bumped to a halt. He looked down as they exited and headed toward the door to the apartment. Blair was tripping over his feet and he sagged heavily into Jim's side. They made it through the door and over to the couch with Jim taking more and more of Blair's weight.

Pushing Blair down into a reclining position on the cushions, Jim studied his lover closely, wondering if perhaps he should have taken him to the hospital instead. But then, reminding himself how much Blair hated hospitals, he went to the closet and pulled out several woollen blankets and sleeping bags, piling the blankets on top of the sleeping form and the bags in front of the fireplace. Then he started a fire, waiting till it was burning brightly before he went to the bathroom and ran a tepid bath.

Returning to the living room, he managed to strip Blair of his wet clothing, then he bent and scooped the naked man into his arms and deposited him carefully in the bath. He gradually added more and more hot water, carefully gauging Blair's temperature with his senses. He noticed Blair beginning to thrash around as he woke up more, so Jim turned off the faucet and kneeling next to the tub, poured handfuls of the warm liquid over Blair's body, calming him with soothing tones.

"Jim?" The voice was husky and confused.

"Blair, relax. I'm just trying to get you warmed up here, okay? I'm going to get you up now, Chief. Just let me do all the work." Jim spoke softly, as he grasped Blair's arms and pulled him up. Slowly, he managed to get him out of the tub and wrapped in a bath sheet, then virtually carried him back to the other room and settled him down on the floor on top of the sleeping bags.

Jim moved to stand up but Blair caught his hand, as if wanting to make sure he was real and Jim immediately stilled. He looked into Blair's eyes. They still looked dazed. After a moment Blair released him and Jim went to grab some dry clothes from Blair's room.

"What happened?" Blair asked, sounding confused. He looked around as if unsure of where he was. He was beginning to shake now, but not with cold, Jim thought.

Quickly the detective returned to his partner's side. He took Blair's hand and let his other hand trace gently up over the side of his Guide's face. "It's okay. You just got a bit too cold. I found you at your old place and brought you home. You just need to get warmed up a bit more."

"I don't remember coming here," Blair said worriedly. "I wasn't going to come back here. You don't want me with you. I heard you… what you said to Simon…"

"I know," Jim replied, his shame and sorrow at his part in Blair's distress almost overwhelming him. "I'm sorry. We'll talk but not yet. Let me take care of you and when I know you're all right, I promise we'll talk about it." Bending forward he pressed a chaste kiss to his lover's cold lips, surprised when Blair returned it.

Within minutes Jim had Blair dressed in warm clothes and was pushing him back down onto the sleeping bags, draping the blankets over him again.

By the time, Jim had made tea and soup, Blair was drowsing in front of the fire but he woke and drank the tea, pushing away the soup with a mumbled, "I'm tired."

Undressing down to his boxers, the Sentinel crept under the blankets and pulled his Guide's unprotesting body back against his chest. He pressed his mouth to the still damp curls and filled his nostrils with their scent. Blair murmured but then relaxed in his arms and soon they were both asleep.

Blair half woke several times during the night, jerking awake and then lying trembling in Jim's arms. Jim soothed him back to sleep, rubbing calming circles on his back. By the time daylight woke Jim the next morning, he could tell Blair's temperature was back to normal.

During the night Blair had moved so he slept in his usual position, his head on Jim's chest and one arm thrown around the broad body. Cautiously, Jim disengaged himself from the restraining arm and stood up, looking Blair over carefully.

Blair was pale and there was a hint of sadness in his face even as he slept. Jim cursed himself for putting it there as he turned away.

"Don't go."

Jim stopped as Blair spoke and turned back slowly to face his lover. "Hey, Chief," he said, swallowing down the enormous lump that threatened to suffocate him.

"Hey," Blair began, then he stopped, his Adam's apple bobbing as he choked on the rest of his words. Tears began to drip from his eyes and he put a hand up, as if trying to hold them back, his shoulders shaking with silent sobs.

"Oh Jesus, Blair, I'm so sorry." Jim knelt in front of his lover and pulled him close, tears burning his own eyes as he tried to still the tremors shuddering through the man in his arms. "Ssh, babe, don't. Please don't." He rocked back and forth, rubbing caresses on the shaking back, dropping kisses on the bowed head. Only when he felt the crying begin to abate, did he push himself slightly away and look into Blair's tear streaked face. He brushed the remnants of the tears away with his fingers and then felt as if his heart would break as he felt Blair's hand on his own face, doing the same for him.

"How'd you know where to find me?" Blair asked.

Jim put a finger to his lips, turning an imaginary key. "Blessed Protector's trade secret," he replied, trying to smile. He watched as Blair took a deep breath then looked deeply into his eyes.

"Why?" Blair asked softly.

Jim moved back but made sure he stayed in contact with his lover, one hand holding Blair's. "I'm not sure. I think I just reacted instinctively. You and I had just had that argument about telling people and then Simon started in about the rumors and I… I don't know, Blair."

"But you knew about the rumors," Blair replied, obviously confused. "You said they didn't bother you."

"They don't. It was just, with Simon saying it out loud… Look, Blair, I don't know if I can explain this properly but I'll try. You came to terms with the fact that you were bisexual some time ago, right?" He waited till Blair nodded slowly then continued. "See, I never thought I was gay or bisexual until one day this guy walked into my hospital room and gradually over the next few years, into my home and my life, and one day I realized he was in here as well." Jim tapped his chest, over his heart, smiling at Blair gently. "I always thought I was this big macho heterosexual cop and one day I found out I'm in love with my male partner, my Guide. I guess, at the time, I didn't question it. Still don't. I know my feelings for you are real, Blair. I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I guess I just got a bit of a shock at being pushed out of the closet so soon, before I'd even come to terms with it myself."

"It's not because you're ashamed of people knowing it's me?" Blair asked hesitantly, almost as if he didn't want to know the answer.

"What do you mean?"

"You know, the hippie, the fraud," Blair muttered.

"Oh babe, no. I've never thought of you that way. You're my partner in everything. I love you. Part of me wants to shout from the rooftops that you're mine and I'm your's. Part of me, the part that William Ellison raised is scared to." Jim bent forward and kissed Blair's mouth. "Do you understand?"

"Yeah, I do, Jim. It's just that I thought… when we said if someone we could trust asked… and I thought, if we can't trust Simon, you know? I mean, he kept your other secret all this time."

"You're right, Blair. We should tell Simon. *I* should have told Simon. I panicked. Forgive me?" He smiled as he saw the sadness in Blair's face begin to fade. "I'm really glad your mom doesn't mind. Thought she'd murder me with a sage overdose for corrupting her son." Jim said, attempting a grin, finally beginning to hope that maybe he could still save the most precious thing in his life after all.

"Oh, she was a little disappointed," Blair said, quirking that bright smile back at Jim, the smile Jim loved so much.

"Why?" Jim asked, puzzled.

"Ah, I think she fancied you herself." Blair laughed, and Jim's own face showed his happiness at hearing it again.

"Hey, Chief," he replied in a mock-stern voice, "that's your mom, you know."

Blair reached out and pulled his partner into a hug, whispering over and over, "I love you, I love you."

"I love you, too, Blair. You gave me something worth living for. I don't ever want to risk losing that again. How about I call Simon, now? Ask him over for dinner tonight?" Jim responded.

"You sure?" Blair pulled back and looked into Jim's eyes. Seemingly satisfied, he nodded and pulled his lover close again. "You're sure," he said. He pushed himself to his knees and leaned forward till Jim toppled backwards under his weight, then he bent and took Jim's mouth gently, delicately.

Jim trailed his tongue over the smooth softness of Blair's lips, as they opened to his, granting him entrance. He groaned as he ran his hands through Blair's hair, tangling his fingers in his curls as they kissed. He felt himself harden and felt the answering passion of Blair's body. "Gotta get rid of those clothes, Chief," he growled into Blair's ear, laughing as Blair pushed himself to his feet and nearly fell over in his hurry to divest himself of everything as fast as possible. Jim shucked his boxers down to his feet and kicked them off.

Then Blair was back in his arms and they were skin to skin. Their cocks touched and they both moaned aloud.

Blair rubbed softly around one of Jim's nipples with his fingers, Jim's arousal growing more intense as he plundered Blair's mouth.

Then their desire overtook them and they aligned their cocks, Blair thrusting down as Jim pushed up, holding Blair's buttocks in his hands to deepen the movements.

Their rhythm became fragmented and Blair buried his head in Jim's shoulder, biting down gently. Jim's hand trailed up and down Blair's cleft and Blair sighed and pushed himself against his lover's body more firmly.

Jim could feel his orgasm building, his cock leaking pre-come against Blair's, easing the friction. He thrust again and again and then they were coming, Blair freezing in his arms and then grinding his cock frantically against Jim's as Jim's semen bathed his belly, while Blair's spurted warmly across his. Fulfilled and exhausted, they lay in each other's arms and drifted between sleep and awareness.

"How are you going to break it to Simon?" Blair asked sleepily.

"I'm not, Chief. We both are," Jim said, gathering Blair's body close to his side. "We're a partnership, babe. Don't you forget that."

Blair mumbled something that sounded like agreement and fell asleep, while Jim stayed awake, wanting to remember this time always. The moment he finally realized how much he had almost lost.

The End

March 25th, 2004