Missing

By Hawk 

EMAIL: Hawk

Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, honest! I'm just playing... I'll return them safe and sound when I'm finished.

Pairing: J/B

Rating: NC-17, what else???

Warnings: Rapefic!!

Summary: Blair goes missing. How far will Jim go to get him back?

Notes: Thanks to my wonderful beta, Lin. She took a scribbled dream-fic (yes, I do dream this stuff) and helped smooth it out so someone might want to read it.

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Jim looked around as he wiped the accumulated soot and grime from his face. "Where's Sandburg?" He perused the immediate area intently, scanning each face, looking beyond the men milling in front of him - - searching for dark curls. Nothing. His heart began to race as he pushed his way through the swarm of SWAT members and policemen. "Simon!"

The large man turned at the sound of his name, grumbling. "Yeah Ellison? What is it?"

Jim grabbed his upper arms and stared into dark brown eyes that were becoming alarmed at the police detective's obvious distress. "Have you seen Blair?"

Simon looked up, as if seeking answers from above, then returned his eyes to the worried detective and shaking his head slowly said, "No, Jim. I haven't." He looked around. "He has to be here somewhere, though."

Jim sighed loudly and let go of Simon's arms. He looked around wildly. "I don't think so. I don't hear him anywhere!"

Simon chuckled. "Now why would he just take off, Jim?"

"I don't know," Jim despondently responded.

"Look for him. I'm sure he's just asking the inevitable questions." Simon shook his head as he wandered off through the clustered groups of police cleaning up from a bust gone very wrong.

Jim looked - - and looked again. He questioned every officer in the vicinity. No one could tell him what happened to Blair. He had simply vanished from everyone's sight. Blair had always kept a low profile. This time, as far as the distraught detective was concerned, too low a profile that he could just disappear from under the noses of nearly every police officer in the city. If Jim thought he was worried before, now he was terrified.

Three days passed. Three days in which Jim grew more and more panicked over the fate of his partner. Three days in which he neither slept nor ate. Three days that seemed a lifetime to the sentinel sans guide.

On the fourth day after Blair's mysterious disappearance Simon called Jim into his office. He looked up when the detective stalked in, looking every inch the fugitive instead of the cop. The concerned, tired detective ran his hands through his hair and across the stubble that currently graced his chin. Jim sighed loudly as he fell into a chair in front of the Captain's desk.

"What is it, Simon?" Jim nearly growled.

Simon glowered from the other side of the desk, and then he too sighed. "Jim, I know this is hard on you." He took a deep breath. "We have no evidence that Sandburg was abducted."

Jim looked up quickly, assessing the face before him and dreading the next words.

"Jim." Simon's voice was low and gentle. "Maybe he simply left - - walked away."

"No." Jim wouldn't listen to this. He got to his feet, shaking his head while looking at the floor. "No. Blair wouldn't just walk away."

Simon shook his head and looked up at his friend. "You have to consider the possibility, Jim."

"No." Jim turned and walked out of the office and out of the precinct. He drove home through the deepening gloom and let himself in to the dark, empty loft. Everywhere he looked the absence of Blair was an overwhelming reminder of his failure. Jim looked at the tribal masks on the wall, the stacks of papers Blair was grading, all reminders of his absent partner. A man that trusted him, that Jim now feels he has let down. He stalked over to the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the refrigerator. Disgustedly dragging his feet, he walked over to the sofa and dropped down into the only comfort left in the loft, letting the darkness caress his skin. He emptied the bottle then leaned forward and sat it on the coffee table in front of him.

After a few minutes he got up and walked into the kitchen again. This time he brought the rest of the six-pack, setting it on the coffee table. When he sat back on the sofa, he removed one beer from the pack, cradling the beer on his lap. One after another they were emptied and still the ache for his partner didn't lessen. It wasn't until he tried to stand that he realized he hadn't eaten anything in four days. Jim felt his world tilt slightly and he held onto the edge of the sofa for a minute to get his balance before stumbling to the bathroom to relieve himself.

Jim caught a glimpse of himself in the bathroom mirror as he washed his hands. The gaunt man with the dark circles under his eyes and four days growth of beard on his face was a stranger to him. He leaned on his hands and studied the face before him. How had he come to this place? When had he begun to care so much for his wiry, annoying roommate and partner? What was left that he could do to find and bring back this other part of himself?

He opened the door to Blair's room and stepped inside slowly. His breath caught in his throat as the scent of his roommate washed over him. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply before crossing to the futon and sitting gingerly on the edge. His hand reached out, caressing the pillow lying there before lifting it from its resting place and crushing it to his chest. "Where are you, Blair?"

Only silence answered his anguished voice. He curled up on his side and stared at the wall in front of him until he succumbed to his exhaustion and slept.

The insistent ringing of the telephone brought Jim to his feet. He looked around blearily, surprised to find himself still in Blair's room. His head was pounding as he made his way into the living room. Leaning into the table, he grabbed the phone. "Yeah? Ellison."

"Detective, how are you this morning?"

The unfamiliar voice on the phone sent warning signals ringing in Jim's mind. He stood straighter, automatically becoming alert. "Who is this?"

"I have something you want."

"Really? And what would that be?" Jim said skeptically.

"Blair Sandburg."

Jim grabbed the edge of the table. He took a deep breath, steadying himself. "You son of a bitch! He had better be all right."

"If you mean still alive, he is that."

Jim swallowed heavily.

"If you want to see your partner again, you will do exactly as I say."

"Go on." Jim's mind was racing. He had to let Simon know what was happening. He reached out and turned on the answering machine, recording the phone call. He prayed the man on the other end of the phone wouldn't hear the tape start.

"First: no phone calls. We wouldn't want your cop friends barging in on our little party. I am monitoring your line, detective, so I will know if you place any calls. Where is your cell phone?"

"By the front door."

"Good. Leave it there and it won't get you in any trouble."

Jim nodded slightly as the voice continued.

"Second: You will hang up the phone and walk out of your apartment, closing the door behind you. You will take nothing with you but your keys. When you get downstairs you will get into the navy blue Ford Excursion parked at the curb. If you do everything you are told, you will soon be with your partner. If not, you will find his body in a few days."

Jim cleared his throat, swallowing convulsively around the dryness in his mouth. "I understand."

"Good. Then go." The line clicked dead and Jim stared at the phone for a minute before setting the handset gently back in its cradle. He leaned forward on the table for just a moment before straightening and walking to the door. He slipped into his shoes, grabbed his keys out of the basket and closed the door quietly behind him.

He shielded his eyes from the sun as he opened the front door of his building. As Jim stepped into the sunlight, a man stepped away from the navy blue Ford Excursion parked at the curb, opening the back door and indicating to Jim to enter the vehicle. The man held his hand out and Jim dropped his keys into it before stepping into the truck. The car's driver slammed the door and headed for the loft. Jim watched him walk into the building, wondering what he would be looking for in the loft, before turning to the other man sitting in the back seat with him.

He wasn't surprised to see the barrel of a gun pointed at his chest.

"Lean forward, detective. Place your hands at your back," the second man said gruffly.

Jim nodded, leaning forward until he was laying his chest on his knees, bent like a paperclip. He crossed his arms at the small of his back and felt the metal of handcuffs being closed around his wrists. He flexed his hands once before sitting back upright as his captor pressed up on his chest. He allowed the seatbelt to be buckled across his hips and a blindfold to be placed across his eyes. He took a quiet, deep breath to calm himself before settling back for the ride. Thinking of Blair, of what he might find at the end of this ride, were the only thoughts keeping him going at this time.

The car stopped as the sound of a large overhead door rumbled above the car. Jim stiffened with the sounds, hoping they were close to his guide. The vehicle rolled forward and Jim could hear the door being lowered behind them. He felt the car move slightly as the driver got out the car. Suddenly the door next to him was pulled open and Jim was unceremoniously pulled from the vehicle. He stumbled along at the prodding of his captor, trying to stall for time while reaching out with his hearing to find his guide, unable to separate the sound of Blair from the other sounds around him.

A strong hand on his bicep pulled him to a stop before a door slammed shut at his back. A finger was placed at his lips before a voice whispered in his ear. "Not a sound detective. Not a sound if you want him to live."

The blindfold was pulled from his eyes and it was all he could do not to cry out at the sight that met his eyes. He took a deep shuddering breath and let it out slowly as he glared around him. The man standing in front of him was somewhat familiar to him but it was the man beside him that caused Jim to tremble with barely controlled fury.

The man standing in front of Jim smiled, reminding Jim of a shark - - all teeth and no humor. He was holding a length of chain in one hand and he reached out with the other to ruffle the curls of the man kneeling at his feet causing Jim to growl low in his throat. Jim's captor from the car, who was standing next to him, elbowed Jim sharply, reminding him to stay quiet. Jim shifted away from the pain but held his tongue.

Blair was naked, covered in bruises of all sizes in various stages of healing. He was wearing a blindfold and had a ball gag shoved between his lips and teeth, stretching his jaw uncomfortably wide. The strap holding the gag was fastened tightly behind his neck causing Blair to keep his head facing straight ahead. Jim could see Blair swallow awkwardly around the gag while shifting uncomfortably on his bruised knees as he sat back on his heels. His hands were fastened at the small of his back with wide leather cuffs and a chain that ran from the cuffs over his buttocks and to his ankles, which were cuffed in similar fashion.

Jim clenched his jaw and stared at the man holding dog leash attached to the thick, studded leather dog collar around Blair's neck. His anger radiated off him in waves.

"Isn't he beautiful?" He ran his hand over Blair's curls again and Jim saw the younger man shudder at the contact. "I've taught him much these last few days but there is another lesson I want him to learn."

Jim stiffened.

The man looked Jim in the eye and smiled again. "I want him to learn how to fuck for me."

Jim looked to Blair then looked back piercingly to the man again. The man holding the leash laughed, moving his hand to Blair's shoulder. Blair cringed away from his touch. He tugged sharply on the leash and Blair stopped struggling. He was panting harshly through his nose and the sound echoed in the room.

"Calm, little one." The man said to Blair, as if talking to a young child. The cruel man then changed his whole demeanor as he turned to Jim again. "I bet you're wondering what this is all about."

Jim lifted his chin but said nothing.

"You ruined my day, detective. You tore up my warehouse, arrested my men and interrupted a very lucrative deal, costing me a small fortune." He started to pet Blair then tousled Blair's curls again. Blair twisted, trying to get away from the groping fingers. The man then grabbed a handful of hair, pulling Blair roughly up off his haunches causing Blair to balance his weight totally on his bruised knees. "Stay still," he hissed at Blair. Turning to the appalled sentinel, he said, "I saw this one hanging back, watching you at work and knew he was the answer to my prayers." He turned that deadly smile onto Jim again. "My prayers were to humiliate you, detective. To bring you to your knees for what you did to me at that warehouse. And there stood my revenge." As he said that he once again tugged on the handful of hair he still held causing Blair to whimper around the gag that stretched and filled his mouth. "He was very easy to grab. No one was the wiser." He sighed. "But now I've had my fill of him and it's your turn to suffer." He reached behind him and picked up a long slender piece of metal off the desk behind him. He flicked his wrist and the deadly looking blade opened. He pressed the tip of the knife under Blair's chin and stared at Jim. "Strip."

Jim's eyes opened wide and he flinched when he felt hands at his back, unfastening his cuffs. He brought his hands around in front of him massaging the feeling back into them as he considered his options. Jim stretched out his hearing to determine if somehow Simon had found them. He could hear nothing to make him believe that help was on its way.

The man that had captured Jim at the loft was still standing behind Jim with his gun leveled at Jim's head. Jim started to take a step forward with one foot as the blade at Blair's throat pressed into his skin. Jim stopped as he saw a thin trickle of blood run down his partner's neck and heard the sound of a bullet being chambered in the gun pointed at him.

"Now, detective. I am not a patient man. STRIP!"

Jim's hands shook slightly as he unbuttoned his shirt. He kicked off his shoes and dropped his pants then the boxers. He was naked as he stepped forward over his puddle of clothes. The man behind him kicked his clothing clear. Jim flinched as his hands were pulled behind him once again and handcuffed tightly. He glared at the man holding the knife against Blair's exposed throat as he flexed his hands in the cuffs at his back.

"Very nice, detective."

Jim blushed slightly as hostile eyes slid insolently over his naked body. His skin crawled with the sensation of being ogled at and he shivered. "So now what, Henderson?" He smiled as the man's eyes opened wide. "Oh yeah, I know who you are. So you had a bad day? We tore up your little operation? Too fucking bad."

The man standing at Jim's back punched him hard in the kidneys as he doubled over in pain. Jim locked his knees as they threatened to buckle under the assault and breathed deeply to steady himself. He flinched as a wide leather collar was buckled around his throat. A heavy dog leash chain hung from the ring on the front of it.

Henderson yanked the blindfold from Blair's eyes and he blinked in the sudden light. His eyes opened wide and he began to struggle as his eyes found his partner. He keened behind the gag and Henderson pressed the knifepoint into his neck again. Henderson again spoke as if to a small child. "Stay still, little one. Kerry wouldn't mind killing your partner so don't give him any reason to."

Jim stared at Blair, watching him try to harness his raging emotions. He was breathing fast and heavily through his nose and was in danger of hyperventilating if he couldn't calm himself. Henderson yanked his hair again until Blair was looking up at him, his eyes wild.

"Calm down, little one. If you can't get yourself under control I will personally slit his throat and make you watch him die," Henderson uttered into Blair's ear.

Blair blinked slowly then visibly began calming himself. He closed his eyes for a minute. Jim could tell that his guide was trying desperately to compose himself. As Blair opened his eyes again Jim could tell that his guide was much more in control of himself. Jim stared into Blair's eyes, telling him silently that everything would be okay. But would it? How could this possibly turn out okay? Jim was not in control of anything at this time.

Jim stared at Blair, visibly grounding himself as a padded sawhorse was placed in front of him. Jim didn't flinch as his ankles were fastened to the lower legs and his hips rested against the leather of the padded top. He was pulled forward by the chain attached to his collar and it was fastened to a ring set in the lower crossbar of the horse keeping his body from moving around. He was now at the mercy of whatever was to happen.

Blair watched this happening and couldn't hold back his moan. He swallowed heavily against the bile that rose in his throat as Jim was fastened in place. He knew what he'd been through in the past few days and he couldn't bear watching the same atrocities being meted out to his partner, his friend. Jim's eyes met his and suddenly Blair understood. . Henderson had said he was going to learn to fuck. Oh my God! Henderson expected him to fuck Jim. He couldn't do it. He wouldn't do it for their amusement. He pulled away from the hand holding him, struggling until a voice cut through his panic.

"Calm yourself, little one. His life is now in your hands."

Blair watched as a gun was leveled and the barrel placed against Jim's temple. He stopped his struggling and looked to Henderson.

The man smiled sickly at him. "Very good, Blair pet. If you want your partner to live you will do this. You will fuck him for me pet and I will walk away. If you don't I will leave two very bloody bodies here - - yours and his." He nodded toward Jim.

Jim growled and spat. "Fuck you, Henderson! I don't care what you say - - what you do. I will find you." Jim struggled as Kerry, the guard, forced a thick bit gag between his teeth and buckled it ruthlessly behind his head. His eyes flashed his hatred as he twisted on the horse, Jim's shoulders moving as if crawling on the ground under fire.

Henderson laughed and Blair shivered at the scene. Henderson unfastened the chain running between Blair's hands and ankles. He yanked on the leash, pulling Blair to his unsteady feet. Henderson then walked over to where Jim was bound, tugging a reluctant Blair along with him. Henderson ran his hand over Jim's upturned and vulnerable ass. Blair was embarrassed to note how his cock twitched at the sight hoping Henderson did not see it as well. Jim flinched away from the caress.

He stepped back and unbuckled Blair's gag. Blair spat out the offending piece of rubber and then worked his jaw to ease the deep ache there. "I won't do this." Blair stood tall and glared at the smirking man.

Henderson stepped forward until he was nose to nose with Blair. "Yes, you will pet. You will do this because if you don't I will slit his throat and leave him to bleed out. You? You I'll take with me. Even if I tire of you, I am sure I can sell you to a good home that knows how to use a pet like you!" He ran a hand over Blair's jaw, lightly, caressing. "Still, I've come to like being buried in that tight little ass of yours, pet."

Blair choked back his reply as he stepped back away from Henderson. Blair had already been through enough with that man. He did not want to be his "pet". He looked to Jim for some clue as to what to do only seeing that the older man had closed his eyes and was breathing deeply through his nose. He let his eyes roam over Jim's naked form again and felt his cock twitch in response.

He looked back at Henderson again and cleared his throat asking warily. "You'll - - you'll just let us go?"

Henderson grinned like a Cheshire cat. "Yeah, I'll just let you go."

Blair grimaced and looked away from Henderson, back to where Jim now watched him. He stared into those icy blue eyes and knew he couldn't watch Henderson just kill him. He'd do anything - - even something that was bound to destroy their friendship and partnership - - to save his life. He nodded once and turned his back to Henderson. "I need my hands free."

Henderson smiled. "Of course you do, pet. How obtuse of me not to notice." He unlocked the padlock holding Blair's cuffs together and Blair rolled his shoulders to ease the ache there. Blair's hands were shaking and Henderson laughed. "Get in there, pet. I want to see you buried balls deep in him - - now!"

Blair stepped up behind Jim. He had always been attracted to his partner but had hidden his feelings, unwilling to risk their partnership and friendship for sex. Besides, Jim was straight - - he'd even been married. Blair, on the other hand, was bisexual and he thought Jim was one sexy man. Spread open for him now, even knowing he wasn't there of his own free will, he was very sexy indeed and Blair could feel his body responding to that. Knowing that Jim did put himself in this situation to save his life just made him even harder.

He put his hand on Jim's hip and felt the older man flinch under his hand. He leaned forward. "Shh, Jim - - it's just me. I'm sorry, man."

Jim twisted against the horse and pulled on his cuffs. Blair stood again and looked at Henderson who was smirking at him.

"Get on with it, pet."

"I need some lube."

Henderson maliciously laughed. "No lube. Just fuck him."

Blair shook his head. "I'll do it, but I won't deliberately hurt him just so you can get off on it. How do you expect to get away from this if he ends up in the hospital?"

"No lube. Besides, I will get away with your buddy in or out of a hospital!"

Blair turned back to Jim and spat on his hand. He reached down and ran his fingers down Jim's cleft, teasing at his opening. Jim bucked into his hand and Blair soothed him with soft words that only the sentinel could hear and gentle caresses. "Shh, relax Jim. It'll be okay."

Jim tried to turn his head in agitation but the chained collar restricted his movement

"Jim, it's the only way." He spoke low enough that no one but Jim could hear him. "I won't hurt you - - I promise - - but you have to relax for me. Don't fight me."

Jim continued to struggle weakly and jumped at Blair's next touch.

"Relax, man. Come on. You know you can trust me not to hurt you." Blair teased at his hole with a spit-slicked finger, pressing in slightly. He barely breached the tight opening when Jim grunted and bucked again. "Shh, relax." He ran his free hand in light, slow circles over the other man's back as he began to move his finger inside him.

"Hurry up, PET. I want to see you buried inside that tight asshole."

Blair glared at the man over his shoulder. "I won't deliberately hurt him for you, Henderson."

"Then you'd better speed things up or I'll have Kerry finish him."

Blair felt Jim tense beneath his hand and murmured to him. "Work with me here, Jim. I won't let him have you but you have to help me out here. Relax for me."

Jim quieted under Blair's hands and Blair smiled. "That's good, man." He slicked up his fingers again and the next thing Jim felt were two thick digits pressing their way inside him. He tensed at the burning sensation and Blair comforted him again. "Relax, Jim. That's it." He angled his fingers and pressed against Jim's prostate gland briefly. Jim bucked under his hand and opened to his fingers. Blair smiled as he scissored his fingers inside him. He added a third finger and Jim arched against his hand in pain.

"Kerry, finish this." Henderson roughly ordered.

As Kerry stepped forward, unzipping his pants at the same time, Blair snapped his head around. "Don't even think about it," he hissed. "He's mine." Kerry reached out for Blair's shoulders, turning him to face the detective's sore ass. Blair squirmed at the touch but could see where this was heading. Kerry looked to Henderson.

"If you don't finish it on you own now, Kerry will do you both pet!" As Henderson finished saying that, Blair could feel Kerry's cock up against his own abused ass.

Blair focused his attention on his sentinel. When he had earlier pulled his fingers from Jim's body and heard the older man groan at the loss of sensation, Blair knew Jim was as ready as he would ever be for Blair's hard cock. He slicked up his cock once more, this time with the pre cum and positioned it at Jim's hole. He grabbed hold of Jim's hips as he pressed forward, impaling Jim with his length bit by bit.

As Blair entered Jim's hole, he could still feel the hot breath of Kerry on his neck. The guard was still positioned to bend Blair over and impale the pet with his hot cock if Blair did not follow orders to the letter! Blair closed his eyes to help him pay attention to Jim's body. Blair reached around Jim and started stroking his semi-hard cock to relax him when Blair began to feel Jim still fighting the intrusion. Jim went limp with the stimulation and Blair sank inside him to the hilt.

"Very nice. Kerry, move away from pet now. I think he has the situation well in hand now!"

As Kerry stepped away, Blair heard Henderson and felt Jim tense beneath him. He stroked Jim's erection, building his rhythm slowly as he began to move inside him. The tight, virginal hole was making him crazy and he longed to pound into it with abandon but he held himself back, not wanting to hurt his partner.

"Are you happy now?" Blair snarled that last over his shoulder as he tried to keep a tight reign on the passion that was threatening to overtake him.

"No, I'm not. Finish him off. I want him so hot for you he's begging for more."

Blair leaned over Jim. "Hang on, man. I'll try to make it good for you - - but don't tense up on me. I don't want to hurt you."

Jim mewled into the gag filling his mouth as Blair planted a kiss on his shoulder blade. He breathed rapidly through his nose as Blair began to move inside of him. All the new burning sensations that filled Jim slowly began to transform into pleasure and he bucked when Blair hit his prostate over and over again. Jim arched up, thrusting his ass high off the padded horse, as Blair fisted his erection and he came with a shout as his prostate was nailed again. The rippling muscles surrounding his shaft sent Blair over the edge and he ground his erection into Jim's hole as he came hard, clenching his ass as he writhed against Jim's back. They were both breathing hard when they heard the slow clapping of hands beside them.

Jim hung down over the horse, breathing heavily, eyes closed against the sensations surging through his body. Blair pushed himself up, leaning with his hands braced on the horse. He felt the barrel of a gun press against his back as he tried to pull away from Jim and he stopped. His eyes opened wide in surprise and he looked at Henderson.

"You promised." Blair practically whispered.

"That I did, little one. And I will keep that promise if you don't move for the next five minutes. If I see you following us before the five minutes are up I will kill you both." He held out a hand-held viewing screen that showed Blair buried inside Jim. Blair looked around quickly and found the camera mounted in the corner of the room. "Five minutes, pet - - if you want to save his life, and your own."

Henderson stroked Blair's ass cheeks one last time then dropped a set of keys into Blair's hand and stalked from the room. The next five minutes were the longest of Blair's life as he leaned against his partner, still buried inside the tight passage and watched the clock on the wall tick off the seconds. He talked quietly to Jim but got no response, worried now that his sentinel was zoned out or if he was even conscious.

When the clock finally ticked off the last of the five minutes Blair withdrew his now soft cock and stood. Jim groaned as he finally pulled free and Blair rubbed his hand over his back. //At least Jim isn't zoned.// Jim bucked against Blair's hand and began to pull against the restrictive handcuffs and the chain holding him forward over the horse.

"Jim, calm down man. Let me help you." Blair unfastened the cuffs around his ankles first then the handcuffs. Jim nearly screamed as his hands fell free. He pulled on the buckle of the gag as Blair unlocked the padlock holding him bent over the horse. Blair helped him to stand on shaking legs then gently pushed his hands away and unfastened the gag for him. Jim stood still as Blair took the wide collar off him then Jim's knees finally buckled and he fell to the floor.

Jim was trembling all over as Blair engulfed him in his arms. Blair held him tightly as the older detective struggled weakly in his arms for a minute before at long last sagging against his partner's chest. "I'm sorry, Jim. I'm so sorry." Blair kept repeating.

Blair looked around and sighed. "Come on, man. Let's get you dressed." He helped Jim pull on his clothes and stand up on his shaky legs.

"You're still naked, Chief," Jim said with no emotion.

Blair shrugged. "Yeah, I noticed. Come on." He pulled Jim along behind him. Blair was surprised when they found his clothing piled neatly near the door of the warehouse. They stopped just long enough for Blair to pull them on hastily.

Jim had pulled himself together to put up a good front for others by the time they reached the door. There was a taxicab parked outside when they pulled open the pedestrian door of the warehouse. The cabby was leaning against the taxi, his arms folded across his chest. He pushed away from the car when the door opened. "I thought you guys would never come out. Good thing your friend pays well or I'd have left here five minutes ago." He opened the back door for the stunned partners before getting in the driver's seat.

Blair and Jim exchanged a long look then shrugged in unison and climbed into the cab. Jim winced as he sat and Blair blushed, wishing he could help his partner more. Blair leaned forward to give the address and the cabby waved him away.

"Yeah, 852 Prospect. I already know."

The men exchanged uneasy glances as the cab sped through the city. Blair watched Jim hug himself and longed to take the older man in his arms to lend him comfort. Still, he didn't think Jim would want to be touched by him right now so he sat at a distance in the back seat watching the passing scenery. The cabby dropped them in front of the apartment and they walked inside slowly.

"I gave them my keys." Jim looked blankly up the stairs to the loft.

Blair reached into his pocket and pulled out his own set of keys to the loft. He unlocked the door letting Jim enter the loft before him, closing the door quietly behind them. Jim's keys were in the dish by the door. Blair did not understand how the keys got there.

Jim kicked off his shoes and walked over to the answering machine. The tape had been removed. The only evidence of the call was gone, never to be heard again. Jim shook his head slowly and looked around the apartment. Nothing else seemed to be missing. He walked slowly to the bathroom and shut the door behind him.

A couple of minutes later Blair heard the water start. Jim was taking a shower. Blair sighed loudly and fell onto the sofa. He was still there when Jim emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later. He felt Jim walk up behind him but still jumped when he laid his hand on his shoulder. He had put on a pair of sweatpants and an old T-shirt.

"Sorry, Chief."

Blair turned quickly and saw the sadness in Jim's wavering gaze. "Sorry?"

"For startling you. I'm sorry."

"S'okay, man." He stood and wiped his hands on his pants. "I'm going to take a shower. I'm a mess."

Jim nodded, unsure of what to say. Blair sidled around him and went into the bathroom. Jim took his place on the sofa and stared at the wall in front of him as the water ran in the shower. After a few minutes he got up and headed up the stairs to his bedroom. Each step on the stairs made him wince and he was winded by the time he reached the top. He couldn't face getting undressed for bed so slipped between the covers wearing his T-shirt and sweatpants, curled up on his side and tried to will himself to sleep.

Blair took his time in the bathroom, wanting to give Jim the time he needed to process what had happened. There was that plus the fact that Blair didn't want to face Jim kept him in the bathroom longer than usual. He was surprised to find the living room empty when he finally found the courage to come out. // Jim must've gone to bed. Guess he was really beat. //

As Blair reached out to push open the door to his room he heard a muffled sound from Jim's bedroom. It puzzled him and he turned, lifting his chin to peer into the loft bedroom. He heard the sound again and stepped on the bottom stair. "You okay, man?" Blair began to worry when he didn't receive an answer and he quietly walked up the stairs leading to Jim's bedroom.

Jim was curled on his side facing away from Blair, clutching the covers around his body. He was shaking and as Blair crept closer he could tell that the sounds he had heard were muffled sobs. Blair pulled a heavy comforter out of the chest at the end of the bed, gently covering Jim with it. He then crawled under the covers behind Jim. Wrapping his arms around the bigger man and slowly spooning behind the cold, clammy man to lend him his warmth, Blair whispered in his ear, "It'll be okay, Jim. I promise."