desperate times.jpg (35587 bytes)



BY: Lyn


DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel are not mine. This fanfic has been written for my own and others' enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.




DEDICATION: For Patt, whose story this was and who generously gave it to me, and to my family of fellow Mongoosians. Many thanks to Landis McQuade, queen of word usage for the excellent beta.

Originally written for My Mongoose Ezines, 'The Many Faces of Jim.'

"Desperate Times, Desperate Measures."

Blair Sandburg pulled his old Volvo into a parking space in the visitors' parking lot and studied himself critically in the rear view mirror. As he tucked an errant curl back into his ponytail, his fingers brushed his earrings and he wondered briefly if he should remove them. Shrugging, he decided against it and glanced at his watch. He saw that he was a half-hour early for his interview but decided that early was infinitely better than too late and got out of his car, locking it before walking toward the glass entrance doors of Resthaven Psychiatric Facility.

Blair was a grad student who was in his final year of his anthropology doctorate at Rainier University. His dissertation subject was tribal watchmen or as the famous explorer Sir Richard Burton had called them, sentinels. These ancient tribal guardians had possessed genetically enhanced heightened senses and most modern day scientists were of the belief that they had long been extinct, if indeed they had ever existed. Blair had found several subjects of study who possessed one or two heightened senses but he had yet to find his Holy Grail, the one who would validate his study and his hard work and would also negate the ridicule he'd been subjected to, a full five heightened senses sentinel.

One of Blair's students worked part-time at Resthaven as an orderly and had phoned him a few days before to tell him about a patient at the facility that he thought Blair might be interested in. Agreeing that the man's symptoms sounded promising but not wanting to risk being laughed out of the place, Blair had applied for a job as an occupational therapy assistant.

It wasn't as though he couldn't use the work, after all. Up until now, he had subsisted on grants and scholarships and the occasional handout from his mother whenever she happened to wander into town. He had taken up residence in a vast and drafty vacant warehouse rented out by the owner for a nominal fee. However, since his student loans and books ate most of his funds, by the end of every month, he was struggling to make ends meet. Somehow he always seemed to scrape through but he was tired of living hand to mouth.

He figured out he could juggle a few shifts at the hospital and study his new subject at the same time. He'd minored in psychology and was an easy-going, kind young man who was passionate about his anthropology. He enjoyed his teaching position at the university and liked the idea of helping people who were in need. If nothing else, Blair decided, at the end of it all, if this James Ellison didn't want to speak to him or wasn't the real thing, he'd at least have some cash in his pocket and he'd be helping someone out. When Blair walked back to the car an hour later he had a job and hopefully a sentinel.


By mid-day, Blair had finished his first half-day at the facility helping Brian Rafe, the occupational therapist, with an assortment of patients. While he'd enjoyed the work and the interaction with the patients, Blair's mind had wandered more than once to the patient he wanted to see who he'd discovered was in Room 403. Finally, Brian had grown impatient with his inattention and hustled him out the door.

"Go take your lunch break, Blair."

Blair felt rightfully ashamed. "Brian, I'm sorry. I'm really enjoying this work. I won't get distracted again. I promise."

Brian smiled at him. "Final year of your doctorate, isn't it?" At Blair's wide-eyed stare, he shrugged. "Henri, your anthropology student is a friend of mine. He told me a little about your thesis. Something to do with heightened senses." He dismissed it as though it held little interest. "Henri asked if I could pave the way for you a little. I spoke to Simon Banks, Jim's doctor, and he's agreed to speak with you at 12.15."

"That's great! Thank you." Blair bent and began to roll up the exercise mats.

"Go now. Talk to Doctor Banks and once you've got that sorted you can get your mind back on the job. I've got to warn you though, I don't like your chances. Banks is pretty protective of the guy."

Blair smiled and nodded. "I'm a good talker. I'll just get the rest of this stuff put away and then…"

"Blair, go!"

"I'm gone."

Blair made his way eagerly to the fourth floor waiting room where Brian had arranged for him to talk to Simon Banks.

The minimal information he'd gleaned from the therapist and from Henri Brown, was that James Joseph Ellison was the son of a wealthy businessman. He'd worked in partnership with his younger brother Steven and his father from the time he'd finished school. He’d been admitted to the hospital a month ago after he had complained about hearing voices and seeing things that no one else could hear or see.

The anthropologist had managed a quick peek at Ellison's records before his scheduled meeting with the doctor and what he read there made his excitement increase. Oversensitive sight, hearing, smell, taste and that final elusive one, touch. Five senses - all enhanced. Holy shit! Blair had to physically restrain himself from jumping up and punching the air. Holy Grail time!

"Mr. Sandburg?" Blair turned from the desk at the summons and watched a tall, well-built black man approach him. The anthropologist held out his hand, hoping it was not sweating and tried not to look intimidated as the other man towered over him.

"Dr. Banks? It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Please, call me…"

The doctor glared at him and pointedly ignored his proffered hand. "Let's go into the private waiting room and talk." He led the way down the corridor at a frantic pace and Blair had to scurry to keep him in sight.

The doctor was already waiting in the tiny room, arms crossed over his massive chest, when Blair finally skidded to a halt outside the door. Taking a deep, shaky breath, the young man pushed open the door and stepped inside.

"Talk." Banks’ deep and authoritative voice and stern features let Blair know in no uncertain terms that idle chit-chat would not be tolerated.

Blair nodded, then took a deep, slow cleansing breath and launched into his spiel. At the end of it he stopped his pacing and looked up, mildly surprised that the doctor had not interrupted once.

The doctor shrugged. "Rafe asked me to listen to you, I listened. Personally, Sandburg, I think you're out of your mind and if I didn't know that it had already been done, I'd be drawing blood from you right now for a drug analysis."

"But…" Blair ventured, his excitement beginning to rise once more.

"But nothing. Jim is a special case. It's a sensitive matter and I know that there is no way his father is going to sanction this. So I'm sorry, Mr. Sandburg, but you'll have to look for your…sentinel? Elsewhere."

"Let me talk to him then," Blair implored. "I think I can help this guy. From what I've read in his file, I'm almost certain…"

Banks' eyes narrowed and he cut him off before he could continue. "You had no right reading his records - they're sealed and the answer is still no. William Ellison is a very powerful man here in Cascade, Sandburg. I'm warning you now, interfere in his private affairs and you'll be very sorry. You'll be lucky to be studying dog droppings in Holden Park."

Blair set his jaw. "What about James Ellison? Doesn't he get a say in this?"

"No!" Banks sighed and Blair saw a flicker of sadness cross the doctor's face as his shoulders slumped. "Jim's not capable of making any rational decisions right now."

"You didn't say you didn't believe me, not exactly," Blair ventured. "Can you at least tell me a little about him? Please?" Blair added as he saw the other man begin to shake his head.

Banks sighed then motioned for Blair to take a seat. "Sit. It's a pretty long and involved story and it's not to leave this room."

Blair crossed his heart, mimed locking his lips and throwing away the key, and when the doctor rolled his eyes he took a seat.


Blair sat on a bench in the hospital gardens and sipped slowly at his coffee, mulling over the information that Simon Banks had given him.

Jim Ellison had left the family business for a few years and had joined the army. He'd gone to Peru on some kind of top-secret military mission, and had been stranded there for some eighteen months after his helicopter had crashed. Jim, the sole survivor, had been taken in by a tribe of Chopec Indians and had lived with them until he’d been rescued and brought back to the States. His remarkable survival in the jungles of Peru had been the subject of a Time News Magazine cover article and Blair made a mental note to search for it on the 'Net when he got home.

Ellison had rejoined his father's business when he'd recovered from his ordeal and had worked there for two years until he'd begun to talk of hearing voices and seeing things that no one else could see or hear. After running the gamut of medical tests and finding no physical cause for Jim's worsening condition, Banks had recommended that he be committed.

In closing, Banks mentioned one final thing that sealed Blair's diagnosis that James Ellison was a sentinel. Banks said his patient suffered from mysterious fugue states, similar to Jacksonian or focal epilepsy, a condition where the sufferer appears to blink out of awareness for a brief time. Banks was concerned; the lapses were becoming more frequent and lasting longer. Blair frowned even now at the thought. Zone-outs. If he didn't find a way to get in and see Jim Ellison, Banks and Jim's own family could very well kill him themselves out of ignorance.

Blair turned away slightly as he watched Simon Banks hurry out of the hospital and climb into a chauffeur driven car. Glancing at his watch, Blair cursed, he was late for his shift. The rest of his plan would have to wait until the evening.


At five o'clock that afternoon Blair bid goodbye to Brian Rafe and signed off on his shift. He took the elevator to the fourth floor and made his way to Room 403. He stood for a moment outside the door trying to calm his quaking nerves, then drawing in a deep breath and exhaling it slowly, he knocked at the door. There was no answer, but feeling his courage return Blair pushed open the door and stepped into the room.

The occupant of the room sat in a chair gazing silently out of the window. When there was still no response to his presence, Blair cleared his throat, then took a tentative step toward the silent man. "Mr. Ellison? My name is Blair Sandburg and I…" He froze in shock as the man in the chair started at the sound. Blair dropped his voice before he continued. "I'm sorry. I should have realized. Mr. Ellison, I think I can help you with your problem."

"What problem would that be?" Ellison's voice was deep but scratchy as though unused, the volume pitched so low that Blair had to step closer to hear clearly.

"The problems you're having with your senses. Loud noises that shouldn't be loud. Smelling things that no one else can smell. Seeing things half a street away. Tastebuds overpowering, right?" The anthropologist reached out a hand and rested it on the other man's shoulder, lifting it quickly when Ellison flinched. "Hyperactive tactile sense."

Ellison finally shifted in the chair to look at him. "What?"

Blair shrugged. "Extra touchy-feely lately."

"They say I'm crazy," Jim whispered.

Shaking his head vehemently, Blair stepped in front of the motionless man. He sucked in a breath at the patient's haggard appearance. Jim Ellison was a big man, tall with a strong frame but where Blair could see that muscles would have rippled along the broad chest, if he was healthy, the flesh now angled sharply against the bones. His face was handsome despite the almost cadaverous appearance, the skin pallid with a sallow tinge from too much time spent indoors. Fine lines of pain and tension creased the high forehead and dark black shadows framed the most beautiful pair of expressive and sad blue eyes that Blair had ever seen.

He was suddenly and embarrassingly aware that the other man was staring back at him, obviously waiting for him to speak. "Um," Blair wracked his brain for something to say, but found his mind suddenly vacant, uncharacteristically at a loss for something to say. "You're not crazy and I think I can help you control your senses."

"Who did you say you were again?"

"Okay, name is Blair Sandburg. And I'm working on my doctorate in anthropology and you just may be the living embodiment of my field of study. If I'm correct, Mr. Ellison, you're a behavioral throwback to a pre-civilized breed of man."

"Are you out of your mind?"

Blair took an uncertain step back as Ellison rose slowly to his feet, anger darkening his pale features. "Are you trying to tell me I'm some sort of caveman?"

"No, not exactly. I didn't mean…" Blair took another step back as the larger man advanced on him, then stopped, when he felt the wall against his back. He gasped as Ellison reached out to grasp him by the lapels of his jacket and lifted him, then slammed him back hard against the wall. The man still had surprising strength despite his weight loss and Blair choked back a cry of pain as his head smacked the wall.

Ellison leaned in close, his breath hot on Blair's face. "Listen, you neo-hippy witch doctor punk, it's bad enough that I have to spend my time in here, staring at walls, afraid to speak in case what I say is interpreted as another sign that I'm nuts, without you coming in here and spouting this nonsensical bullshit."

"Hey, look." Blair managed to get one hand up and tried to force it beneath the one that Ellison had against his throat. He was starting to see spots in front of his eyes and it was getting hard to breathe. "I'm sorry. I know what I'm talking about and I really think I can help you," he wheezed.

His voice faded away as the spots began to coalesce into a blackness that crept across his vision. His hand fell away and he struggled in the man's grip, suddenly aware that Ellison's eyes had become glassy and unfocused. Then there was no air at all and his body convulsed violently.

"Jim? Oh Christ! Jim!"

The voice seemed to come from far away and then suddenly chaos appeared to erupt around them. Blair saw Rafe pull Jim away from him and push him onto the bed, the death grip around his throat was gone and Blair fell heavily to the floor, his chest heaving as he sucked in lungfuls of precious air. He curled himself into a tight ball on the floor and raised a shaking hand to his throat, wincing at the tenderness. He felt a hand on his shoulder and fought briefly as he was pushed over onto his back. Then a mask was placed firmly over his nose and cool air was hissing into his mouth.

"Easy. Easy. It's just an oxygen mask. Breathe slowly. That's it." The vaguely familiar voice kept up the litany of soothing words and Blair finally managed to open heavy eyelids and squint blearily up. Brian Rafe knelt beside him, one hand holding the mask to Blair's face, the other gripping his wrist.

"He okay?" Blair heard someone ask.

He craned his neck, groaning as the movement caused more agony in his throat, and saw Dr. Banks bending over Jim Ellison's unmoving form where it was stretched out on the bed

Rafe nodded. "Yeah, he'll be fine. What about Jim?"

"I think he's coming around now. Come on, Jim. Snap out of it, man." Banks turned to glare down at Blair. "Get him out of here, and I want him banned from this room."

"Can you stand up?" Brian's voice was concerned as he looked down at Blair.

"Y-ye," Blair gave up on speaking and nodded instead. With considerable assistance from Brian, the anthropologist staggered to his feet.

As Brian steered him towards the door, he stopped by the bed. "I'm sorry," he whispered. Jim was awake now, though he still looked somewhat disoriented. "I meant what I said though. I can help you if you'll let me."

Banks straightened and whirled to face Blair. "You've been warned, Sandburg. Stay away from this room. If you don't, I'll make sure you're fired."

"Blair? Come on, let's get you checked out."

Blair felt too exhausted and weak to argue and so he allowed himself to be led from the room. A half-hour later he assured Rafe that he would be fine and stumbled out in the cold night air to his car. His throat ached terribly and his head pounded and he was sure he had bruises on his back. Brian had offered him the following day off but Blair refused.

"This is my fault, man. I'll see you tomorrow."

He sat for a moment in his car, going over the heated argument in his head and trying to think of a way to get back in to see Jim. It was suddenly not just about his dissertation. There was something about Jim Ellison that had reached out and tugged at Blair Sandburg's heart and he wanted desperately to help the other man.

Reaching up, he flipped the visor down and studied his reflection in the small mirror. His eyes were swollen and bloodshot and when he pulled his collar away from his neck he could see the dark bruising and swelling that encircled it. It was going to be painful to eat and talk for a few days. "Another fine mess," he croaked, suddenly disheartened. Sighing, Blair started the car and headed for home.


Jim Ellison watched as Simon Banks paced back and forth in front of him. Finally, the doctor stopped and looked at him. "You're going to have to try and control that temper of yours, Jim. You almost killed the kid."

"I don't remember anything after he told me he could help me. Is he all right?"

Banks nodded. "Bruised and battered but he'll live. Look, Jim, I want you to rethink your stance about the sedatives and antidepressants I prescribed. I think if you're calmer and able to rest more easily, without the distractions of these other things that you keep experiencing, then the sooner you'll be out of here and back home."

Jim looked away quickly. "I'm not sure I want to go home."

Banks reached out and patted the other man's hand, sighing when Jim flinched at his touch. "You just need to get some rest away from all the stress in your life and then this will all go away, you'll see. Let me at least prescribe a sleeping pill for you."

"He said he could help me, Simon."

"He's crazy," Simon began, then looked chagrined at his faux pas. "Probably some sort of holistic bullshit. Either that or the kid's on something. I think I'll ask the director to have him re-tested for narcotics, maybe run a police check on him too."

"I believe him."


"He knew about what I was experiencing."

"He read your file," Simon countered.

Jim fixed him with a glare. "He didn't think I was crazy."

Simon sighed. "Jim, your father…"

"Screw my father," Jim shouted. He stood up from his chair and stalked to the window. Looking out, he saw the longhaired young man sitting cross-legged on the lawn talking animatedly to a rapt group of people, patients and staff alike. "My father arranged for me to be brought here so I won't embarrass him. I want to see Blair Sandburg again."

"I really don't think that's a good idea," Simon counseled.

Jim turned on him, his blue eyes flashing in the dimness of the room. "I didn't ask for your opinion, Dr. Banks. Ask Sandburg to come and see me."


Blair tapped at the door of room 403 and waited for the summons to enter. When it came, he pushed open the door and stood just inside, excitement merging with trepidation as the man seated at the window turned to look at him.

"Come on in," Jim said. When Blair hesitated, he smiled. "Relax, I promise I won't attack you again, but just in case, Terry, the orderly there is going to stay in the room."

Blair nodded and walked closer. Jim held out a hand and Blair clasped it, feeling warmth and strength in the grip. "I want to apologize first of all," Jim continued as he motioned to the second chair in the room. "I don't know what happened but I hope you weren't seriously hurt."

Blair shook his head, then seated himself. "I'm fine," he croaked, as much out of nerves as anything.

Jim nodded, then sat back and crossed his arms. "Talk. I'm listening."

Blair pulled a book from his backpack and laid it on his lap before opening it and angling so that Jim could see the pages. "This is a monograph by Sir Richard Burton, the explorer, not the actor. It's over a hundred years old. Anyway, the idea goes something like this -- in all tribal cultures every village had what Burton named a Sentinel. Now this was someone who patrolled the border."

Jim nodded slowly. "You mean a scout."

"No, no, no, more like a watchman. You see, this Sentinel would watch for approaching enemies, changes in the weather, movement of game. Tribe survival depended on it."

"And you think that I'm one of these Sentinels? Why me?"

Blair shrugged. "Why not you?" He leaned forward, his passion in his subject obvious as he began to speak more quickly, his hands sketching his words in the air. "A Sentinel is chosen because of a genetic advantage. A sensory awareness that can be developed beyond normal humans. Now these senses are honed by solitary time spent in the wild. At first Burton's monograph was disputed and now it's basically forgotten. I mean, there are certain manifestations today of maybe one or two hyperactive senses, like taste and smell, people who work for coffee and perfume companies. Oh, and in Vietnam, the Army long-range recon units that had to -- "

"-- change their diet to fish and rice because a Cong scout could smell a Westerner by his waste," Jim finished for him, then smiled.

It was the first time Blair had seen Jim smile and it warmed his heart. "Right, right, exactly. I've got hundreds and hundreds of documented cases in my office of one or two hyperactive senses but not one single subject with all five. You could be the real thing."

Jim stood and walked to the window. He spoke softly. "The truth is I don't remember much of anything about the jungle."

Blair stood as well and moved to stand beside the other man. "A year and a half spent in the bush? The sole survivor of your unit? I mean, I'm no psychiatrist, but that sounds pretty damn traumatic to me. And trauma tends to get repressed."

"Let's say I buy this. Why is this coming back now?" Jim asked.

"I don't know. Maybe we'll figure that out as we go along. But you need someone who understands your condition and you won't get that from a psychiatrist or sedatives."

Jim turned to look at him, arms folded across the once powerful chest. "What's the payoff?"

"My doctorate. I want to write about you. You're my thesis."


Blair paused for only a second. Some things could be worked out later. "Absolutely."


"That's it? Just okay?"

"You don't think I'm crazy?"

"Definitely not."



The next two weeks passed in a pleasant haze for Jim Ellison. Blair arrived every morning for an hour before his shift, then came back every evening until the increasingly tolerant nurses threw him out.

Only one incident had marred the growing friendship. Jim had refused to listen to his doctor's arguments about not seeing Blair. One night Banks told Jim that he'd have Sandburg fired and it ended with Banks himself hustled from the room and Jim in restraints until Blair had arrived and managed to calm both the Sentinel and the staff down. The evening had been a traumatic one. Blair had soothed Jim and brought him back from a near zone-out as he struggled to get out of his restraints. The young man drooped with exhaustion, his head pillowed on Jim's arm on the bed. The nurses took pity on him and allowed him to stay until morning.

Mornings were spent walking in the vast garden of the facility with Blair encouraging Jim to extend his senses a little more each day. In the evenings they talked about their childhood and their hopes and dreams. Jim finally admitted that he wanted to leave his father's company and go into business on his own. Blair owned up that as much as he loved his mother, he'd always felt neglected.

Jim found himself counting the hours until Blair would arrive and dreading the time he would leave. He hadn't had a zone-out for three days and he felt more energized, more positive than he could ever remember. He was eating more and gaining weight and had begun working out in the hospital gymnasium.

The Sentinel looked up at the clock now, then dialed up his sense of hearing as Blair had taught him. He grinned. Right on time and, Jim sniffed appreciatively - he's brought a treat. He picked up the TV remote and turned the television on to the Jags game. Blair had promised that tonight they could have some time off and just kick back, watch a game, maybe eat…

"I hope you're hungry. I brought pizza."

Jim turned to the anthropologist and smiled. "Starving. Take a load off," Jim plunked himself onto the bed and patted the space beside him.

Blair hesitated for only a second before seating himself on the bed. He placed the pizza on the rollaway table, then rummaged in the paper bag he'd put on his lap. With a flourish, he pulled out two bottles of beer and handed one to Jim. Jim laughed outright and accepted one before clinking it against Blair's. Blair settled himself back on the pillows with a contented sigh.

"Do you realize how difficult it is to smuggle a pizza into this place?"

"I owe you one," Jim said agreeably. "Now shut up, the game's about to start."

Half way through the first half, Jim realized that he was watching Blair more than he was watching the game. Slowly, the young man seemed to become aware of the scrutiny and turned to him.

"Jim? You okay?"

Jim started and smiled guiltily as he rolled onto his back. "Yeah. Sorry if I was making you uncomfortable." His voice sounded hoarse to his ears. He felt a hand stroke up his arm and come to rest on his shoulder.

"I'm not uncomfortable with it," Blair said. He pushed himself up and turned to his side, supporting his head on his hand. "Just surprised and hoping like hell I wasn't getting the wrong message."

Jim couldn't look at him. "What message did you think I was sending."

"That you're attracted to me."

Jim shook his head, then turned so that he faced Blair and stroked a hand across Blair's full lips. "It's a whole lot more than that," he whispered. "I think I've fallen in love with you."

"The feeling is entirely mutual," Blair said.

Jim felt his heart pound in his chest as Blair leaned close and their lips brushed. His arms went around Blair's waist and pulled the young man to him so that Blair lay on top, his mouth never breaking contact. Blair's tongue licked slowly along his upper lip and Jim shuddered violently.

"Dial it down, man. Just a little," Blair whispered.

Jim shivered and struggled to find the dials.

"Oh my God!"

Both men jumped at the voice, Blair almost rolling off the bed, saved only by a last minute grab by Jim. Blair smiled nervous thanks and stood quickly, straightening his clothes and tucking his unruly hair back behind his ears.

The man in the doorway was undoubtedly William Ellison. He was a slighter, older version of Jim. Blair stepped forward, a friendly smile pasted on his face, his hand held out. "You must be Mr. Ellison. I'm Blair Sandburg."

William Ellison gave him a scathing look and stepped around him to glare at his son. "I had hoped this place had cured you of your disgusting habits, Jimmy."

Jim's eyes flashed with anger. "There's nothing disgusting about it, dad, but I hardly expect you to understand. Just another thing to add to the freak label, right?"

William turned to Blair. "So, you're the one who's been filling Jim's head with all this garbage about having special senses."

Blair shook his head. "Mr. Ellison, it's not…"

Ellison cut him dead. "I thought Dr. Banks banned you from this room."

Jim stood then and stepped to Blair's side. "It's not Banks' decision to make or yours. I asked Blair to come back."

Blair placed a gentle hand on Jim's arm. He could feel the powerful muscles ripple with tension beneath his touch. "Jim? Let it go for now, man. All right?" He looked at his watch. "I've got to go anyway. I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Father and son still stood, glaring at each other, their hands balled into fists at their sides. The resemblance was remarkable. "Jim?"

Jim finally stirred and looked at Blair, his jaw clenched tight. "Okay. I'll see you in the morning."


"What do you mean he can leave whenever he wants?" Blair looked up from his position on the floor where he was crouched on hands and knees scooping up the scattered pieces of a jigsaw puzzle swept to the floor by an enraged patient. "He has to be signed out by his psychiatrist doesn’t he?"

Rafe shook his head. "He committed himself voluntarily, which means that he can leave whenever he wants."

Blair stood and dropped the last pieces of the puzzle into the box. "Okay, I’ll talk to him about it tonight. There’s no reason for him to stay here. I mean, he’s not crazy and we’re doing really well with fine-tuning his senses. He hasn’t had a zone-out for almost a week."

"Just go slowly, Blair," Rafe advised. "You’re getting very involved with this guy and I don’t know if that’s a good thing. You could be heading for some disappointment or worse."

"Worse?" Blair cocked an inquisitive eyebrow at the therapist.

"A broken heart," Rafe said. There was a twinkle in his eye but his face was serious. "It’s obvious there’s more going on between you two than just a professional interest. Jim’s dad is a very powerful man and Jim’s very vulnerable right now. I just don’t want to see either of you get hurt."

Their conversation was cut short by a commotion from the dayroom. It seemed their unruly patient had lost her temper once more. Blair filed the conversation away to be chewed over with lunch and got to his feet.

"What's happening guys? Well, if the television is bothering you, go into the other room."


"Can’t you at least tell me why you’re so hesitant to leave here?" Blair watched Jim pace furiously up and down the room. Finally, the agitated man stopped and turned to face him.

"I’m afraid," he whispered. Then he gave a snort of derisive laughter. "Who would have thought. Big, tough ex-Army Ranger scared to go home." He hunkered down in front of Blair and rested his hands on the other man’s legs, stroking along his thighs. "In here, it’s all controlled. If my senses spike or I zone-out, no one gets hurt."

"I'll be there to act as your guide. You're already controlling your senses at will, the zone-outs are almost non-existent and I think your range is far greater than I could have even imagined." Blair leaned closed and framed Jim's face with his hands. "You won’t be alone any more," He dropped a gentle kiss onto Jim’s lips. "I’ll be with you. We’ll figure it out together."

Jim nodded slowly. "For the first time in my life I don’t feel like a freak. I can finally think of my senses as a gift instead of a curse." He returned Blair’s kiss with a more passionate one of his own. "I’ll talk to Simon in the morning and get my discharge papers signed."

"Great." Blair grinned, then looked at his watch. "I’ve got to go. I’ve got papers to grade. I’ll see you in the morning."


Walking through the darkened car park to his Corvair, Blair sensed their presence even before they were upon him. He gasped in pain as his arms were caught up and pulled roughly behind his back. A hard punch to his stomach drove the air from his lungs and stole any chance he had to call for help. His legs buckled and he would have fallen if strong arms hadn’t held him up A large fist gripped a handful of his hair and pulled his head back so far he was sure his neck would snap.

"You were told to leave Ellison alone," a voice rasped in his ear. "Just what part of that don't you understand?"

A fist crashed against his cheek at the same time as the hands supporting him let go and he fell to the ground. The beating began in earnest with fists and feet until Blair could no longer discern the individual blows. His hands that had been cupped protectively around his head dropped limply to the ground and he arched his back, mouth opened in a silent scream of agony as an angry foot slammed into the small of his back. Then the footsteps faded away and Blair lay curled into a ball of pain, every nerve screaming until blessed oblivion took him.


Jim wasn't entirely sure what woke him. He felt a prickle of unease creep down his spine and the hairs at the nape of his neck stood up. He gripped the bedside rail tightly and hesitantly extended his hearing, pushing past the myriad sounds and heartbeats, searching for the whisper that had dragged him from a restless slumber.


"Blair?" He was unaware that he'd called the name out loud as he concentrated on pulling his still sleep-addled body from the bed, throwing the covers angrily to the floor when they twisted about his legs. He moved swiftly to the window and dialed up his sight, scanning the grounds below with his enhanced vision but he could see nothing out of place.


He spun around expecting to see Blair standing in the doorway, so close was the summons, but there was no one there. Fear spiking and causing every nerve in his body to thrum with tension, he pulled his robe from the chair and hurriedly pushed his feet into his loafers.

Ruth Cassidy, the floor's night nurse looked up from her romance novel as Jim stumbled from his room, one hand going up to shield his eyes against the muted glow of the corridor lights. Standing, she walked quickly around the desk to intercept him as he headed toward the stairs. "Mr. Ellison? Are you okay?"

There was no reply. The big man seemed not to have seen or heard her. She caught up to him and grasped hold of his elbow, forcing him to stop. He turned to her and pulled his arm from her grip, his eyes wide, his face pale and beaded with sweat.

"Jim? What's wrong?"

"It's Blair. Something's happened to him," Jim croaked out.

Ruth backed toward the desk, intent on reaching the phone and calling for backup, pulling Jim with her. She'd heard about Ellison's outbursts and was sure she'd be unable to restrain him herself. "Mr. Sandburg left hours ago," she soothed. "It's after midnight."

"No!" Jim wrenched his arm and she swore as he broke away from her and ran back toward the stairs. Hoping she'd have time to forewarn the security guards in the foyer, she kept her eye on her patient's rapidly disappearing back as she picked up the phone and punched in the extension number.


Jim was already pushing open the exit door before the guards had time to react. His enhanced vision allowed him to easily navigate his way through the dark night toward the one whose voice and heartbeat lured him. As he got closer, he suddenly doubled over and retched violently as the overpowering stench of blood assaulted his nose.


The call was barely a whisper now and Jim pushed himself upright and staggered on. He growled in rage and frustration as hands caught at him and attempted to impede his path to his guide. Shaking them off, he was unaware of anything but the man who whispered his name like a siren call.

He saw the crumpled body ahead of him and he ran forward the final few steps, tears already beginning to streak his cheeks when his enhanced sight picked up the terrible damage done. Blair sat leaning against the door of his car with his head slumped forward onto his chest. Jim skidded to a halt beside the injured man and gently reached out a shaking hand to cup the other man's chin and lift his head.

Blair moaned softly at the action at the same time Jim groaned in sorrow at the injuries he saw there. The young man's face was bleeding from a myriad of cuts and abrasions. Blood still streamed from his nose and one eye was swollen almost shut. A bleeding hand was cradled on his lap and Blair brought the other one up to weakly grasp Jim's robe.

"Jim?" A spray of blood accompanied the word and Jim quickly moved around behind the young man and cradled him so that Blair's back rested against his broad chest. He wrapped a gentle hand around Blair's heaving body and used the other to stroke comfortingly across his brow. "I'm here," he soothed. "I'm here."

The security guards stopped in shock at the scene before them. Jim Ellison sat on the ground with the lolling body of a bruised and bleeding young man clasped in his arms. More shocking was the feral growl that rumbled from the patient's throat when Stan Parker attempted to approach the pair.

Stan held out a hand and crouched down, moving stealthily. "I just want to check him out, buddy. Looks like he could use a doctor."

Jim growled again and pressed Blair's limp body closer to him. Stan looked up as hurrying footsteps approached. He nodded as Dr. Banks ran up, a small case clutched in one hand. The doctor too, stopped and gaped in shock. "Oh Christ!"

"You're right there," Stan said feelingly to the doctor. "He won't let me get near them."

"Jim, it's Simon." Why don't you let go of him so that we can get him some help, hmm?"

Jim didn't even grace the doctor with a glance, his attention solely on the injured man. Gently, he used the cuff of his robe to pat at the worst of the blood on Blair's face, serving mostly to only smear it further. He moaned once more in sorrow.

Banks sighed and straightened up. "I'll have to sedate him. Can you get around behind him and hang on to him when I tell you. I don't want to risk a needle breaking off."

"What if he struggles and hurts the other guy?" Stan pointed out.

"If we don't get Sandburg away from Jim and to medical help it may not matter," Banks said soberly. "I can't tell from here how badly Sandburg's injured."

Stan nodded his agreement and waving his partner forward, he waited until the doctor captured Jim's attention before he began to sidle around the car. Banks crouched down once more and moved forward, stopping when Jim lifted his head and growled threateningly.

"Jim? Can you tell me what happened?"

Jim stared at him blankly for a moment, then resumed his gentle stroking of Blair's head. "Someone hurt him, Simon," he whispered brokenly. "Who would want to do that?"

"I don't know. Did you two have a fight do you think? Like the last time?" Simon made his way forward slowly but stopped as Jim tensed and his eyes widened.

"You think I did this?" the other man gasped. "I could never…I wouldn't…"

"That's okay. That's okay." Simon fisted the loaded syringe in his hand and prayed that he wouldn't stick himself. He nodded abruptly to the two guards and leaped into the fray as soon as they jumped onto Ellison. The big man bucked and screamed at the sudden attack and Simon winced as Sandburg's body slumped bonelessly to the concrete. He jabbed the hypodermic into Jim's thigh, then leaned on his wildly kicking legs. It was not long however before the powerful sedative did its job and Jim's movements became slow and erratic. Slowly, Jim turned mournful eyes toward the injured young man who lay unmoving at his side.

"Blair?" he whispered as his eyes fluttered, then closed.


His first waking sensations were of pain and fear. Voices buzzed around him in nonsensical rhythm, touch alternately soothed and terrified him. Movement caused the agony to surge dragging keening wails from his lips. Only one word passed his lips that made sense and he repeated it over and over, a mantra -- a plea. "Jim."

The pain diminished enough to allow consciousness to arise from the murky depths of his muddled mind and he began to spend more time awake and oriented. He still slept for long periods, startling himself awake with Jim’s name on his lips and hot tears coursing down his cheeks.

As he drifted now in a half-dreamy haze, pleasantly pain-free due to the regular administration of powerful narcotics injected into his IV by an array of doting, kind-faced nurses, Blair became aware of the gentle stroking of a hand across his brow. His eyes widened and his face split into a lazy smile. "Jim!"

"Sorry, buddy, only me."

His reverie rudely shattered, Blair jerked away from the kind touch and then cried out as sharp pain lanced through his body.

"Easy, easy," the voice soothed again, the warm, strong hand back at its steady rhythm. "It’s Brian Rafe."

"Brian?" Blair’s voice sounded rusty and hoarse to his own ears and he gratefully accepted the ice chips placed on his tongue. He sucked on the soothing coolness until it evaporated, then turned drowsy eyes to his friend. "Brian, where’s Jim?"

Brian sighed and looked away, though his hand never ceased its gentle motion. "He found you, Blair, in the parking lot. He went crazy, wouldn’t let anyone touch you. Simon Banks had to sedate him so that you could be treated. He hasn’t come out of it."

"How…how long?"

"Four days."

"Oh God," Blair struggled against Rafe’s restraining hands, then screamed at the white-hot fire that knifed through his back. He fell back onto the bed and tried to draw in a breath of air past the agony that his chest had become. He flailed for Brian’s hand, finally grasping it and squeezing it weakly. "You have to get me out of here. I have to get to Jim."

Rafe was already shaking his head vehemently. "No way, Blair. The doctor said you’re going to be here for at least a week and then off your feet for another month." He leaned in close and framed Blair’s shaking head with his hands, ceasing the negative motion. "They almost killed you, Sandburg. You almost lost a kidney because of those bastards."

"Jim doesn’t have that long," Blair whispered brokenly. "I know I can bring him back, Brian. He’ll come back for me."

"What makes you think that you can do what a dozen doctors haven’t been able to?"

"He loves me and I love him, and I’m his Guide."

Brian sighed. "Banks is giving him Electro Shock Therapy starting tomorrow as a last ditch attempt to bring him out of the fugue."

"They’ll kill him." His weakness ambushing him, Blair surrendered to sleep, still crying for his lover.


His next awakening was more gentle, though still fraught with initial confusion and pain. He was alone, the soft beeping of an IV monitor invading his restless dreams. Blair managed to push himself up on his pillows so that he could sit semi-upright, gritting his teeth and panting through the worst of the pain. When it had settled into a dull, pounding throb, he reached tentatively for the call button on the bedside table.

A few minutes later, a white-coated middle-aged doctor with sparse hair and a generous smile entered the room accompanied by Brian Rafe.

"Hey, Blair, you're looking a whole lot better today," Brian said, seating himself beside Blair's bed.

Blair had already caught a skewed glimpse of his reflection in the mirror set above his bed and smiled wryly. "If this is better, man, I don't think I want to know what I looked like when I first got here."

The doctor stepped forward then and introduced himself as Doctor Evans. He spent a few minutes checking Blair's wounds before making notes on the chart at the end of the bed. "You've definitely improved over the last twenty-four hours, Mr. Sandburg. You have no more blood in your urine and we removed the catheter last night."

"Glad I was asleep for that performance," Blair muttered. "When can I leave?"

"It will be a few more days yet, Mr. Sandburg," the doctor replied as he checked Blair's IV. "You had some severe injuries. Your kidney may be on the mend but I'd like to keep an eye on you in case you begin to bleed again. You also had a severe concussion and some deep lacerations to your hand and face, bruised ribs. Let's say conservatively, Sunday?"

Blair looked at Rafe. "What day is it?"



Rafe sighed and looked at his hands. "Banks started ECT yesterday. There's been no change in Jim's condition."

"He'll kill him," Blair said fretfully. "If he's hypersensitive, can you imagine what ECT will do to him? Banks is just compromising the zone-out, he'll never get him back." Decisively, Blair swung his legs over the side of the bed and bit down on the groan that welled up in his throat at the movement. "Get me my clothes," he said as he pulled the IV needle from the back of his hand. "Can you give me a ride to Resthaven?"

The doctor placed a restraining hand on his shoulder. "Mr. Sandburg, you're in no shape to go anywhere. Why don't you lie back and get some rest. I can't be responsible should your condition worsen once you leave here."

"Fine," Blair agreed. "Get me the form and I'll sign myself out AMA. Brian, how about that ride or do I need to call a cab?"

Brian Rafe stood and shook his head at his friend before walking over to the small closet in the corner and pulling Blair's clothes from within. "You're a stubborn son of a bitch, you know that?"

Blair grinned around his split lip. "I know."


The reality of moving was far worse than Blair had thought it would be. Every muscle in his body screamed for attention and his lower back throbbed in agony by the time they reached Resthaven's front door. He clutched at Brian's shirt for a moment, feeling the sweat dribble down his face and pushed back the dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him.

"Two things," he said finally when he'd caught his breath. "Do you have a spare shirt in your office that I can use?" He pulled his sweater out from his chest and grimaced. "If Jim smells the blood on me he’ll flip out."

"Blair, he's…"

"What?" Blair glared at Brian, his eyes glittering with challenge.

Brian shook his head. "Nothing," he answered. "What's the second thing?"

"Distract the nurse at the desk until I get into Jim's room."

"Okay, but if I lose my job over this…"

"I'll tell them I threatened you with bodily harm," Blair finished for him. Rafe snorted and Blair knew it sounded ludicrous as he stood, barely supporting his own weight, one arm clutched protectively around his chest, the other hooked desperately into Rafe's jacket.

"Wait here a minute," Brian suggested. I'll send the security guy off on a wild goose chase and come back for you." He pushed Blair onto one of the chairs situated beside the front door. "And sit down before you fall down."

Blair sat gratefully then watched Rafe enter the building and approach the desk. He pushed aside the nagging thought that he might be too late, that Jim might have been zoned for so long now that he'd be in an irretrievable vegetative state. Just wasn't going to happen, Blair vowed. Something deep within him told the anthropologist that he was the only one who could guide Jim back.

He started from his thoughts at a touch on his arm and looked up to see Brian crouched at his side, a blue sweater in one hand. "I don't know about this, man," Brian said as he helped Blair strip off the soiled top and pull the sweater on over his badly bruised ribs. "You don't look so good."

"I'll be fine once I see Jim," Blair assured him. He levered himself upright, determined not to make a sound of distress and followed Rafe into the main entrance and then into the waiting elevator.

He stifled a gasp of shock as he caught sight of his face in the metal of the control panel. Now he could understand Brian's hesitancy at bringing him here. His gray-complexioned face was swollen down the left side, black bruises along his cheekbone and jaw were fading now into red and purple and his left eye was still partially closed. His hair was matted and filthy and Blair wondered how long it had been since he'd had a wash. His beard was only thick stubble so he assumed that he'd at least been sponged down and shaved fairly recently.

He could remember little of the attack or his stay in the hospital. One memory stood out starkly and that was a vision of Jim holding him in his arms in the parking lot as Blair had whispered his name. He blinked away the tears that the memory invoked and concentrated on the task ahead, bringing back the man he loved.

He waited hunched into a corner of the corridor until he saw that Rafe had charmed the night duty nurse into making him a cup of coffee. As the two disappeared into the break-room, Brian turned quickly and winked at him, then made shooing motions toward Jim's room. Blair grinned back and slipped quickly inside.

The lights were set to a dim orange glow that centered over the gaunt slack features of the man in the bed and Blair felt his breath hitch painfully in his chest at the sight.

Approaching Jim slowly, the anthropologist gritted his teeth and pulled a chair up to the bedside, then leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Jim's forehead before lowering himself gingerly to the chair.

"Oh, Jim, look what they've done to you." Blair stroked a gentle hand down Jim's face, feeling the rough scratch of unshaved bristle beneath his fingers. Jim's skin was gray, his eyes partially open and totally unfocused, his chin reddened from constant ooze of drool that seeped from his bloodied mouth. Blair thought he might have bitten his tongue during the ECT.

Pushing himself closer to the bed, Blair took hold of one cold hand and began to stroke the back of it with his thumb. "Jim? It's Blair. I'm okay and you're going to be okay too. It's safe to come back now. I won't let them hurt you anymore."

There was no response from the man in the bed but Blair was a patient soul. He continued to stroke Jim's hand and talk to him in a low voice, urging the Sentinel to return. The sky outside the window was just beginning to lighten when he thought he felt a slight pressure against his fingers. Blair's voice was almost gone now, his throat dry and sore, his energy almost spent. Raising his head from where it had drooped onto the bed, he searched the pale face for signs of returning consciousness. "Jim," he whispered hoarsely. "Come on back, man. You're safe now. I'm here."

He felt an answering squeeze in his hand and then Jim's eyelids twitched and the big man took a shuddering breath. "That's it," Blair breathed, tears beginning to streak down his cheeks. "Just a little further. I've got you."

The door was pushed open suddenly and William Ellison stood in the doorway, his body rigid with anger. "Get away from my son, you little pervert," he ground out. "I know what you're after. Think you can get your hands on my money, don't you?" he said as he advanced on Blair.

Blair managed to stand but refused to move away from the bed and stood as straight as he could, glaring back at Jim's father. "If I leave now you’ll kill him and I can't let you do that. I love him."

"Liar!" William spat. "I've seen your type before. You're a parasite, sucking the lifeblood out of poor susceptible souls who can't stand up for themselves. I'd hoped I'd scared you off but you ignored my warning. I'll take him away where you'll never find him."

Blair felt his knees begin to buckle and his vision swam as he looked up at the menacing man. Not now, he beseeched his exhausted body, just a little longer.


The voice was merely a breath but Blair spun around at the sound. "Jim? Oh, thank God."

Jim looked back at him, his blue eyes drowsy and confused but awake. Blair grinned and lifted Jim's hand to his lips, bestowing a welcoming kiss on the palm. "About time, man. Everyone says I talk a lot but I was running out of things to say."

Jim nodded, still too far out of the loop to catch the joke and then his mouth trembled and tears welled in his eyes as he traced Blair's bruised face with a shaky forefinger. "You're okay?"

Blair nodded, holding on tenaciously to Jim's big hand. "I'm fine."

"Sorry. So sorry, Blair."

"Hey man, sorry for what?" Blair brushed away Jim's tears with his thumb.

"For not protecting you."

"All right. I've heard enough."

Blair gasped as William grasped his shoulder and tore his hand from Jim's, then pushed him away from the bed. The movement sparked sharp pain in Blair's chest and he doubled up, trying to catch his breath.

"No!" Jim was struggling to get out of the bed, his face a mask of mingled anger and grief. "No more!" he shouted at his father as he managed to gain his footing and pull Blair behind his protective stance.

"I agree," said a voice from the doorway and all three men looked to see the stern figure of Simon Banks with Brian Rafe at his side. "I think you've done enough damage, William and I wouldn't blame this young man at all if he were to press charges for assault."

"No." Blair stepped up to Jim's side and pushed the swaying man down to sit on the side of the bed. "Jim's been through enough."

Simon joined him and looked closely at his patient. "Jim? How are you feeling?"

Jim appeared to consider the question for a moment. "Vague," he finally said. "Thirsty. Hungry." He smiled at Blair. "Pizza?"

Blair grinned back. "I think not. We've got to get some meat back on your bones, so it's going to be lots of healthy salads for you for a while."


"That's your choice, Jim," Blair answered. "Nobody can make that decision for you."

Jim nodded slowly then watched his father walk slowly to the door. William Ellison's shoulders were hunched in defeat and he suddenly looked very old. "Dad?" Jim waited until his father turned to face him. "Please try to understand."

William shook his head. "You've made your bed, Jim. You lie on it, but when he finally bleeds you dry and gets tired of you and your mental problems, don't come to me. I warned you."

"Not going to happen, Mr. Ellison," Blair said fervently. "One day you’ll realize that Jim and I were meant to be together. I wish you'd stay. Jim still needs you and Steven in his life."

William Ellison turned silently and walked out the door. Blair turned back to Jim, his heart breaking with sorrow. "I'm sorry, Jim."

Jim nodded in understanding. "His loss," he said. He looked then at Simon Banks. "I want to go home, Simon."

Simon frowned. "I don't know about this, Jim. As much as I have to admit rethinking my earlier diagnosis, I don't know that you're well enough to look after yourself yet."

"I'll look after him," Blair said. "I'm his Guide."

"Where will you live?"

"I've still got the loft," Jim said. "I kept it, hoping I might get well enough to go back there one day."

Simon nodded slowly. "You already know that I can't stop you. I'll organize the discharge papers." The doctor held out his hand to Blair. "Thank you for what you've done for Jim," he said, his tone sincere. "What you did tonight, especially considering your own injuries, was nothing short of a miracle. I'd like to stay in touch if I may. Learn some more about this Sentinel thing."

Blair smiled. "I'd like to tell you more." He grinned at Brian Rafe. "Thanks, man. I owe you a whole lot."

"I'm going to miss you, Blair. You've got a great rapport with the patients."

"Actually, I was thinking of staying on for a while, part-time," Blair said. "I'm still going to need a job and I like working here. What do you think?"

"I think that several patients are going to be very happy to see you back," Rafe replied. "Especially Alex. You're the only one who seems to be able to keep her calm. She's been creating havoc while you've been gone."

Jim raised a proprietary eyebrow and drew Blair closer to his side. "Alex?'

"Oh, yeah. I never did get a chance to tell you about her, did I?" Blair enthused. He settled himself on the bed at his lover's side, patiently allowing Jim to fuss over his cuts and bruises while he chattered away. "I know she's got some heightened senses but I haven't had a chance to run any tests on her yet to determine how many. Who'd have thought?" he asked. "What are the chances of two Sentinels in the same city?"


Jim unlocked the front door of the loft and then moved aside to allow Blair to enter first. They had spent a week at Blair's warehouse while Jim's apartment was cleaned, recuperating, getting to know each other, talking and laughing. They had slept together, held each other but both men had been too weak from their experiences to do more.

Blair stepped into the living room and stood gazing around curiously. "Oh, wow, Jim, this is…"

"I know it's not much to look at," Jim interrupted. He took off his jacket and hung it on a hook next to the front door then did the same with Blair's. He walked over to the heavy drapes and pulled them back, wincing a little as light flooded the apartment.

"Dial it down," Blair whispered and was pleased to see Jim do so immediately.

He walked over to where Jim stood and opened the door that led out onto the balcony. Hesitantly - he'd never been good with heights - he stepped over to the balcony wall and looked out at the city beyond. Jim came to stand at his side and placed an arm around his shoulder. Blair looked up at him with sparkling eyes. "It's all coming together, just like Burton wrote. This is your tribe, Jim."

Jim nodded and smiled, then drew Blair closer and tipped his chin up with one finger. Gently he rested his lips on Blair's. Blair felt the tip of Jim's tongue stroke across his top lip and he opened his mouth and sucked it in. Blair's arms came up to hang on tightly to Jim's shoulders and he felt Jim's hand cup the back of his head.

Blair was breathing heavily and was half-hard when the kiss ended and he nudged Jim's groin with his knee, stroking firmly over the bulge there. "I know what I want, Jim," he said, gazing up into azure blue eyes. "What do you want?"

Jim's reply was to take his hand and lead him inside. He led Blair up the narrow stairs to the loft bedroom and drew the younger man over to the bed. Lying down on his back, Jim held out his arms to his lover. "Make love to me, Blair."

Blair didn't need a second invitation. He stripped his own clothes off quickly, reassuring Jim with gentle kisses when the Sentinel growled angrily at the bruises that still marred his body. "It's okay," he whispered as he climbed on the bed and sat astride Jim's hips. "We're safe now."

Jim nodded and relaxed back into the bed, reaching up to scratch gently through Blair's chest hair; smiling when his actions received a sigh of pleasure. Blair slowly unbuttoned Jim's shirt, pushing the cloth aside to stroke across the broad smooth chest. Leaning down, he lapped at one hard brown nipple while he rolled its twin between his fingers. He began to rock slowly backward and forward as he kissed his way down Jim's body, rubbing his erection against his lover's stomach.

Blair unbuttoned Jim's pants and pulled them down to his ankles then threw them onto the floor. There was a dark, wet patch on Jim's silk boxers and he bent down and stroked his cheek over the hard mound there, then when Jim groaned softly Blair mouthed it gently. Jim arched up, anxious to get Blair's mouth on him and Blair obliged, yanking the boxers down and off, and diving onto Jim's weeping cock like a man half-starved.

He wrapped one hand around the base of the large organ and stroked as he sucked at the deep-red head, smiling around his mouthful when Jim cried out his name.

"Blair! I'm going to…"

Blair sat up, and massaged Jim's lower belly gently, soothing the rippling muscles there. "No, you're not," he said. "Not yet anyway."

He allowed his hand to stroke lower until he cupped Jim's balls in one hand and stroked along the length of the Sentinel's erection with the other. Then he slowly began to rock again, rubbing his cock along Jim's flat belly, shifting up slightly until he rested on his knees astride Jim's hips. He leaned forward and took Jim's mouth in a searing kiss, his hands framing Jim's face, all the time rubbing himself along Jim's body like a sleepy cat. He felt Jim's legs raise up and clench tightly around his waist and he increased his movements, stroking harder and faster. Then both men were panting, sweating and crying out each other's names as they moved in counterpoint to each other. Blair sighed his pleasure into Jim's sweet mouth as their seed spilled and mixed on their sweating bellies.

They lay together, sticky, sated and exhausted, Blair still on top of Jim, Jim's hand fisted gently in Blair's curls, massaging, soothing him to sleep. Blair was writhing in a slow, sensual rhythm along Jim's sensitive cock and Jim could feel the stirring of passion awakening once more.

"I like your place," Blair finally said.

"I never got around to doing much with it," Jim replied, pushing Blair off so that they lay side by side. "Anything I put up was always too bright, too light, too… much."

"Hey, man, I live in a unused warehouse, I can hardly criticize," Blair said, smiling. He stroked pensively over Jim's chest. "I could help you if you want," he offered around a yawn. "I could help you pick out colors that wouldn't bother you, paintings, maybe some knick-knacks, books, you've got to have books."

"I was sort of hoping you'd have some of your own stuff that you'd like to put up," Jim answered as he leaned in to nuzzle Blair's earlobe.

"Mmm-mmm," Blair tried to think past the delightful feel of Jim's tongue on his ear and Jim's hand now descending to his cock. "My stuff?"

"Yeah," Jim answered, ghosting a finger along Blair's hardening shaft. "Move in with me, live with me."

Blair began to thrust lazily into Jim's hand and reached around to trail his finger between the cheeks of Jim's firm ass, eliciting a groan of desire from his lover as he stroked across the tight pucker hidden there. "I have a mask or two I could put up."


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