Living La Vida Loca
Jim Ellison felt like a fool. Worse than that like a man, no, make that an idiot, being led around by his well, his body's overwhelming response to pheromones. It might just be because of his Sentinel senses being back online and therefore making him more sensitive to such things (which was how Sandburg had explained it) but he still felt like a goddamned fool.
Everything that had happened with Laura seemed magnified in hindsight - the overpowering pull he'd felt to be with her, even in the middle of a crowded bar, while he was supposed to be investigating a case, while his *boss*, for God's sake, was waiting for him in the next room The need to be close to her, to hold her, to kiss her, had been so overwhelming that he hadn't cared about any of that. Even his initial embarrassment at being discovered by Sandburg in such a compromising position, in flagrante delecto, as a matter of fact, had paled next to the shaft of almost-pain he'd felt at having to leave her.
The worse thing was, he'd really thought it was love or lust, or at least a combination of the two. That, at least, would have been halfway dignified, would have made some sort of crazy human sense. After all, men have done stranger things in the cause of love.
But then Sandburg had turned up with that damnable wine glass wrapped in a napkin, with Laura's lipsticked mouth print on it and he'd known the moment he'd held it, that the kid was right. Sandburg had done it again. Bang on target, as usual, just like he always seemed to be when it came to Jim's senses. So, now, Jim was mortified, not just by the fact that it seemed that being a Sentinel gave you as many weaknesses as it did strengths, but also by the fact that Sandburg now seemed to be becoming privy to more and more of those weaknesses, day by day. And, being the private man Jim Ellison was, he didn't think he liked that one little bit. There was also the not inconsiderable worry that Blair might just stumble on Jim's biggest secret - his love and physical attraction to his partner.
And now he'd compounded that mortification a hundred times over. Made it worse, proved Sandburg's point, showed that a Sentinel could be led around by his nose, so to speak.
He'd hit the kid. Belted him one right on the jaw, knocking him flying from where he'd been sitting next to Jim on the couch, to land on his butt smack up against the wall of the living room.
Blair's eyes had been wide with shock when he'd sat up, a hand coming up to cradle his jaw, blood seeping through his fingertips from what was probably a cut lip.
Jim, to his everlasting shame, hadn't waited around to find out where the blood was coming from. He'd stormed to his feet and almost run up the stairs to his bedroom and sat on his bed, trying desperately to make sense of the whole mess for the past fifteen minutes or more.
He stiffened as he heard Sandburg's footsteps coming up the stairs, keeping his head down, not wanting to meet the deserved outrage in his friend's eyes. "Hey, Ali, next time we have a rematch, I get a free punch, okay?"
Jim's head jerked up involuntarily. Blair didn't sound mad. His voice was a little muffled, probably because of the icepack he was holding to his mouth but he sounded friendly enough, conciliatory even. The bed dipped as Blair sat beside him, a cautious few inches away from touching territory.
"You okay?" Jim asked quietly.
"Me? Yeah, I'm all right, well relatively speaking." Blair chuckled. "Hell of a punch you've got there, Jim. Glad I haven't been on the receiving end of it before. I think..." Blair's voice became distorted and Jim looked over to see his tongue producing a bulge in his cheek as he probed at a tooth. "Yeb, you yoosened a mholarh."
"Christ, I'm sorry, Chief. Let me see."
Jim's guilt won out over embarrassment, and Blair sat patiently as the Sentinel pulled the icebag away from his mouth, then poked at the offending tooth with a gentle, shaking finger.
"Yeah, it's loose all right. Let me see your lip."
Blair suffered stoically through having his lower lip pulled down and examined microscopically by his friend's enhanced vision.
"Id's nod dat badz, Jib," he mumbled, sighing with relief as Jim released him, replaced the icepack and moved away again.
"You probably won't need stitches. You'll need to go to the dentist, though. Get that molar checked out. I'll pay!" he said as Blair began to protest through his ice-numb mouth.
Blair pulled the ice pack down and sat it on Jim's bedside table, sighing long- sufferingly at the look of disapproval that garnered as water seeped from the pack onto the polished surface. He grabbed a pair of Jim's boxers out of the basket next to the bed and put them under the leaking bag. "Happy?" he asked, taking Jim's lack of response for approval. "Look, man, this was my fault. I shouldn't have pushed it. I was just trying to see if your *appreciation *," here his fingers wiggled parentheses around the word, "extended to only female pheromones or to pheromones in general. It was stupid, Jim. I apologize."
"Guess you got your answer, hey, Einstein?" Jim muttered.
Blair fingered his sore jaw. "Yeah, got the message loud and clear."
"I'm sorry I hit you, Chief, but when you did that, I just reacted, you know?" Jim said, his voice low with embarrassment, wishing he could tell Blair the truth - that he'd reacted the way he had because he'd known Blair hadn't meant it, that it had been a joke, an experiment.
"I know. Look, I really don't think you have anything to worry about. I mean, you were able to control your autonomic response enough to arrest Laura. I think your imperative as a Sentinel to protect the city eventually overrode your body's autonomic response to her pheromones. It was just a joke, Jim. A dumb one, but really, I didn't mean anything by it. I mean, you're a great looking guy and all, but you're missing a couple of the important things I usually look for in a date," Blair said, his own voice low, an embarrassed smile on his face. "It was a spur of the moment thing. You know, I'd asked you to see if you could sense anything different about my usual scent, because I'd sprayed a little of that new pheromone cologne stuff on me before you came home, and next thing I knew, you were right in my face, man, and I just did it."
"I was trying to smell what was different, Chief. It was pretty faint," Jim replied, trying not to let his disappointment at Blair's words show. He wasn't sure why he should be surprised by Blair's statement. His friend had been the poster child for StraightUSA ever since Jim had known him, and if he'd ever decided to mark his conquests by putting notches on his bedpost, Jim seriously doubted there'd be any bedpost left to notch.
"Yeah, well, I didn't wanna overdo it, in case it backfired on me," Blair said, his face red with embarrassment.
"You kissed me, Sandburg," Jim said indignantly. "Right here!" He pointed at the right side of his face, just below his eye, unable to stop his fingers from hesitating on the spot as if he could still feel the phantom impression of Blair's lush lips.
"Nah, that wasn't a kiss, man. Believe me, you'd know if I really kissed you," Blair said hesitantly.
Jim wanted to tell him that he wanted to know, needed to know what it really felt like to be kissed by Blair Sandburg, but Blair was babbling on again, his cheeks growing redder with every stumbling word.
"That was more like a, um, a raspberry, like when you blow on baby's belly's to make it laugh. Really, Jim, it was a joke. I swear to God!"
Jim looked over at his partner. Blair's eyes were wide with innocence and could that be fear? For the first time since it had happened, Jim smiled. "You know, Chief, this could do your reputation some serious harm around the precinct."
Blair looked calmly into his eyes, his nervousness seemingly suddenly gone. "You wouldn't do that, man."
"Do what, Chief?" Jim asked, standing as well and smiling gently down into Blair's face.
"Tell anyone that I kissed you."
"Why not?" Jim asked, bending forward, his eyes focused on Blair's mouth.
"Because you're glad I did," Blair whispered, "aren't you?"
"What makes you think that, Blair?" Jim asked, his own voice only a murmur now.
Blair shrugged. "I just know," he said assuredly.
"And that doesn't bother you?" Jim asked. "After all, I don't have the usual equipment you're interested in."
Blair reached out and touched Jim's chest hesitantly. "You do, you know. I just never knew how to tell you before. I thought you'd be turned off, get mad, kick me out something like that. You never told me you liked guys."
Jim shrugged. "Never came up," he said, wincing at the obvious pun. He stretched out a hand and caressed Blair's face, cupping his chin gently in his hand. "Let's go get some meds for your tooth before it starts aching. We'll get some dinner and after that, we'll talk."
Blair nodded, his eyes shining. "Okay," he agreed, turning and heading downstairs, Jim in his wake.
"Don't forget to call your dentist in the morning," Jim said as he went to the kitchen drawer and pulled out the bottle of Tylenol they kept there. He handed two over to Blair along with a glass of water. "Get an estimate of the cost and I'll give you the cash before you go."
"You don't have to do that, Jim. Really. It was my own stupid fault. I'll get the money somehow."
Jim stood in front of his partner and gently touched Blair's cut lip. "No. I'll pay. No matter the reason, I shouldn't have hit you, Chief. I am sorry about that."
Blair swallowed the tablets then nodded. "Okay. Thanks, Jim. You want me to start dinner now? I was gonna make lasagne."
"That'll sting your mouth. How about we get takeout tonight, noodles or something soft like that?" Jim suggested, crossing to the phone and picking it up.
"Thanks, man." Blair moved across the room to where Jim stood and hugged him quickly then stepped back, his face flushing, and his eyes downcast.
"What was that for?" Jim asked, surprised.
"You're being unbelievably cool about this, Jim," Blair replied, his eyes finally meeting Jim's. "I I appreciate it."
Jim ruffled his hair gently. "Go take a load off till dinner gets here." He watched affectionately as Blair went over and sank down on the couch, turning on the TV and beginning to flip through the channels till he found something he obviously liked.
Jim watched Blair surreptitiously as they ate, wincing guiltily every time Blair did, when he bit down too hard on his loose tooth.
"Stop it, Jim," Blair said, finally pushing his plate away.
"Wincing every time I do. It's not that bad, man. I'm a wuss."
"No. That's one thing you're not, Chief. You're one of the toughest guys I've ever known," Jim said, reaching across the table and clasping his hand in his.
"Really?" Blair grinned at him. "I know a few football players from my high school who'd disagree with that."
Jim stood and walked around the table to Blair, bending down to press a kiss to the top of his head. "What would they know?" he asked, picking up Blair's plate and carrying it with his out to the kitchen. "Football players. Not the sharpest tools in the shed, are they?"
"I think that's discrimination against football players," Blair said, following him, and picking up a towel ready to dry the dishes. "But, it's such a boost to my ego to have you say it that I really don't care how un-PC it is."
Jim turned from the sink where he'd stacked the dishes, plucking the towel from Blair's hands. "Leave the dishes, Chief. We have some talking to do."Blair's mouth dropped open and Jim closed it with a finger under his chin. "No smart-ass comments, Sandburg. Go sit down. You want a beer?"
Blair shook his head ruefully, his finger coming up to caress Jim's finger where it still rested, beneath his chin. "I think the cold will be a bit much," he said.
Jim kissed his cheek. "Sorry. However, I have something better," he said, detouring to the cupboard above the stove and pulling down a bottle of brandy. He held it up for Blair's inspection. "Want one or two?" he asked. "It's supposed to be good for toothache."
Blair nodded, then went out and sat on the sofa, removing his shoes then pulling his feet up on the edge of the sofa, so his knees were bent and he could rest his arms on them.
He looked up as Jim handed him the drink, watching him as Jim took a seat on the coffee table in front of him. He sipped the liquor slowly then put the glass down on the table. "What's going on here, Jim?" he asked quietly.
"I thought you knew," Jim replied, his voice equally soft. He placed the beer bottle he'd brought with him onto the floor next to his feet, then leaned forward and cupped Blair's face with both hands, pulling him forward till Blair straightened his legs and let his feet drop to the floor. Then, he kissed Blair gently on the mouth, not trying for passion, just for love.
When Blair's mouth opened beneath his, he wrapped a hand behind Blair's neck, tangling his fingers through the soft curls of his long hair and let passion take over.
Minutes later, Blair pulled away. Jim let him go, watching as Blair touched a finger to his mouth as if in wonder.
"Wow," Blair said. "I wasn't sure I mean, I hoped but I didn't know-"
"Now you know," Jim said, picking up his beer and taking a sip. "Is it okay How I feel about you, I mean?"
"You haven't told me how you feel yet," Blair replied, picking up his own drink and taking a gulp.
"I thought I just did," Jim said with a smile.
Blair shook his head. "Nope. That was definitely showing, Jim, not telling." He put the glass back on the table then leaned forward and captured Jim's mouth in a deep, scotch-flavored kiss. "That's showing," he whispered huskily as they broke apart. "I love you, Jim. That was the telling part," he clarified, grinning broadly.
"I love you, Blair," Jim said obediently, reaching out a hand to tangle through Blair's hair then letting his fingers trail down over Blair's jaw to his chest to toy with a hardened nipple beneath his shirt.
Blair gasped. "That's good, Jim. Good job on the telling. Want to get back to the showing again?"
Jim let his fingers do the walking, down from Blair's chest to rub enticingly across the hardness at his crotch. "Now you're talking, Chief," he said.