HARD PROMISES

By: Lyn

Feedback to: lyntownsend_2000@yahoo.com

DISCLAIMER: The characters from The Sentinel are the property of Petfly. The story, storyline and other characters are mine. No money has been made from this story.

CATEGORY: Drama

RATING: N/C – 17

WARNINGS: Explicit descriptions of m/m sex, language, violence.

PAIRING: J/B

AUTHOR’S NOTES: Set before S2 and TsbyBS, Jim and Blair are couple but are not out. This is my first slash fic, the story is based on the lyrics "Hard Promises To Keep" by K. Rhodes. If you are under the age of majority in your area or if depictions of m/m sex are not to your liking, please leave now or use your delete button. For those remaining: Enjoy!

"I’m tryin’ to believe in forever

And I’m tryin’ to believe in

The little jewel box life we lead

Babe, I get so close sometimes

All I really know is I believe

That we’ve been makin’ hard promises to keep

Promises are like little diamonds

Promises are like little hearts you meant to give away

I thought you’d want them back someday

I kept them for you anyway

But I know when I’ve been given

Hard promises to keep."

Blair Sandburg came awake slowly, his mind cognisant only of the exquisite feeling of a warm moist tongue that gently lapped at his right nipple, whilst a callused thumb stroked the left until both became hard. He stretched extravagantly, then arched his hips up with a gasp as a second hand found its way to his balls, rolling them delicately while a thumb stroked the tender perineum beneath. "Ohh, Jim," Blair whispered, but his moans were cut short by Jim’s lips against his.

"Shh, babe," Jim whispered against his mouth "Don’t talk until I tell you to"

Jim’s hand found its way now to Blair’s hard cock and the young man sighed as Jim began a slow stroking motion along the aching length, keeping the touch of his hand feather soft. Blair moaned again, trying to push his erection hard into Jim’s fist and Jim smiled as Blair’s hand came down to close around his own.

"No way, Sandburg, I’m calling the shots here."

Blair grinned suddenly and lay flat on his back, placing both hands under his head. "Okay, big guy, you win."

Then he couldn’t speak at all as Jim bent suddenly and engulfed his cock in a hot wet cavern. Blair gasped and fisted the sheets, his breath coming in short quick pants as he bucked upward into Jim’s mouth. Jim, however had other ideas and pushed Blair’s hips down with both hands allowing the smaller man no opportunity to move. As soon as he realised his lover was close to orgasm, Jim moved again, kneeling now between Blair’s widely splayed knees. He reached toward the bedside table then and coated his fingers with the lube left there uncapped from the night before. He took Blair into his mouth again, this time sucking up and down the hard length, at the same time slipping one finger into his lover’s body, hearing the hiss of pleasure as he stroked slowly. As Blair began to push back on his finger, Jim withdrew it and then pushed two digits back in, scissoring apart and stretching the tight passage. Blair was moaning continuously now, pushing back onto Jim’s stroking fingers and then up into the sucking mouth. Jim knew his partner would not last much longer and seriously doubted his own staying power as he watched Blair’s naked form contort sensuously beneath his ministrations. Inserting three fingers now, he quickly lifted the younger man’s legs over his shoulders and placed his firm lubed fist around Blair’s cock keeping up the same languid stroking pace. Jim’s erection grew even harder as he watched his fingers stroking back and forth inside Blair’s channel and then heard the barely contained scream as he hit Blair’s prostate several times. Removing his fingers, he placed the head of his cock against the loosened ring and gently, slowly pushed in until he was fully sheathed in the hot moist heat. Slowly beginning to move in and out, matching his thrusts with his strokes on Blair’s cock, he looked at his lover and spoke finally.

"You know that I love you, don’t you?"

Not trusting himself to speak, Blair only nodded as he arched harder into Jim’s thrusts.

"Tell me what you know, babe," Jim growled, picking up speed now as his own orgasm threatened to overtake him.

"You love me," Blair whispered, "You love me, you love me." The simple words became his mantra as he pushed himself up trying to take even more of Jim’s cock into him. "You love me, you love me." The words became a nonsense rhyme as Jim pounded hard into Blair. Blair thrust into Jim’s fist once more and came, his spasming muscles dragging Jim into his own release as both men groaned in the final throes of passion. Jim gathered Blair into his arms and turned him onto his side, spooning up tightly behind him, his cock still deep within his lover, moving in and out in a gentle caress.

0~0~0~0~0

The enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee tickled Jim’s nose and he awoke smiling. Padding down the stairs, he saw his guide seated at the table, laptop already out and operating.

Blair looked up and smiled as Jim approached, and enveloped him in a bearhug. "Good morning, did you sleep well?"

Jim nodded, nuzzling Blair’s ear. "I must have, I didn’t hear you get up." Picking up Blair’s empty coffee cup, Jim went to the kitchen and poured coffee for them both, then set about preparing breakfast. "So what have you got on this morning, Chief?" he asked.

Blair closed down his laptop and stood, sipping at his coffee and accepting the bagel Jim offered him. "I’ve got to get these grades posted and I promised Carrie that I’d go over some notes with her. She’s a student who transferred in a few months ago. She had to move back home because her mother died and her dad needed her help. Anyway, she found it a little difficult settling in and finding her feet at first, but she’s picking it up pretty well now." With that he looked at his watch and frowned. "Man, I’m going to be late." Downing his coffee, he grabbed up his backpack and began to stuff books and notes in haphazardly. "I’ll see you at the station around two, okay?" Blair looked up to see his lover grinning widely. "What?"

"I’ll bet Carrie is just gonna love you in those cute boxers, Chief," Jim laughed as Blair looked down and realized that he was only half-dressed.

"Shit! Thanks Jim, I owe you one, man," Blair replied, already halfway to the stairs hastily trying to pull his shoes off as he went.

Jim doubled over with laughter as Blair over balanced and sat down hard on his butt with a muttered curse. By the time the anthropologist was fully clothed, Jim was waiting at the door, Blair’s and his own keys and their jackets in hand.

Blair grabbed his things from Jim and reached up, planting a quick kiss on the detective’s cheek. "’Bye honey, have a nice day."

Jim swatted him on the backside for his trouble and the two men trotted quickly downstairs to their respective cars. It was a beautiful morning, certainly by Cascade standards, with warmth in the air that hinted of the summer to come.

‘A perfect day,’ Blair thought as he turned the ignition key only to hear the motor whine noisily, several times. Grimacing, he thumped his head on the steering wheel and then wound down his window. "Uh, Jim?"

"Look, I promise I’ll get Sam to look at the car again tomorrow, Jim. He said it was all okay now. God knows he charged me enough to fix it."

"Maybe I should talk to Sam for you, Sandburg," Jim suggested, as he turned into Blair’s parking space.

"Jeez Jim, I’m not a two year old. I think I’m capable of making a complaint to my mechanic without your help," Blair suddenly fumed.

 

Jim held his hands up in surrender. "All right, Chief, just a suggestion. Do you want me to come pick you up this afternoon?" he asked.

"No, I’m fine. I’ll catch the bus, if it’s still nice, maybe I’ll walk," Blair answered, not looking up.

Jim took Blair’s hand in his. "Blair, I didn’t mean to suggest that you’re incapable or anything, I’m sorry."

"I know that. It’s fine." Looking around quickly to ensure no one was about, Blair leaned over and kissed his lover gently on the lips. "You can apologize properly tonight. It’s your turn to cook."

Jim drew Blair closer and deepened the kiss, then let him go with a sigh. "I had something else besides dinner in mind for an apology."

" I’m nothing if not amenable, big guy. You can do both. Later, babe," Blair said and exited the truck. He walked only a few steps before he noticed Carrie Webster waiting in the shadows of Hargrove Hall, chewing absently on a pencil. "Hey Carrie, you’re here bright and early."

"Oh, hi, Mr. Sandburg, I was looking for your car. I didn’t see you drive up," Carrie said, smiling shyly.

"My car threw a spaz this morning and refused to start, so I got a ride in with Jim," Blair said, shouldering his backpack and holding the door open for the young woman. ‘Definitely cute,’ he thought to himself. ‘If it wasn’t for Jim….’ He looked up as he realized Carrie was talking again and he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. "I’m sorry, Carrie, what was that, my brain’s like mush this morning."

"That’s okay," Carrie replied. "I was just saying that my friends were saying that your room mate is a cop and you work with him."

"Yeah, Jim’s a cop, but don’t let that put you off. He’s an all right guy and he’s a better roommate than Larry was," Blair said feelingly.

"Larry?" Carrie asked as Blair ushered her into the tiny storeroom that passed for his office.

‘Next year,’ Blair thought, ‘once my dissertation is done, then I’ll have an office I can actually move in.’ "Larry was one of my study subjects for a while." At Carrie’s concerned look, he laughed "It’s okay. He was a Barbary Ape."

At that, she giggled and Blair saw beneath the hair that she seemed to keep over her eyes as though it were a curtain against the world, that Carrie was indeed a very pretty girl.

The morning passed quickly for Blair. He managed to convince Carrie that she was on target with her work and he told her that he thought that she had the makings of a good anthropologist, if she chose to stay with the course. A lot of Blair’s students took Anthro 101 as an addendum to their other studies, sports jocks and the like thinking it an easy way to get the grades they needed. Blair hoped that along the way, his enthusiasm and love for his chosen field rubbed off on a few. He posted the grades and then repacked his backpack, deciding that the day was indeed pleasant enough for a walk to the precinct. Smiling to himself, he decided that he’d buy some sandwiches and juice and entice his lover into having lunch in the park.

He sat down in his chair and reached forward for his phone then sat back, beginning to dial. He had a stomach churning feeling of falling as his chair continued to swing backwards and then he fell, slamming his head into the wall behind him. Blair lay on the floor for a moment trying to stop the ringing in his ears and to dispel the flashing lights from his sight. Slowly he sat up and began to take stock of himself. He fingered a small bump on his temple and rubbed at bruised ribs that had contacted the base of his chair.

"Idiot," he mumbled to himself.

It was obviously time for a new office chair and he decided after lunch to check what was down in the storeroom. Slowly he stood up, still feeling a trifle embarrassed at his less than graceful swan dive and looked quickly at the door to reassure himself that no one had seen. He picked the phone up off the floor and dialed Jim’s number smiling in spite of his aches when he heard his lover’s voice. He arranged to meet Jim at the park and grabbed his backpack, wincing slightly as he did so and headed for the door.

"Hi there. Do you come here often?" Blair grinned at the lame pickup line and looked up at Jim.

"Very original, big guy. Who writes your material?" he asked.

"I do, Chief. Works every time," Jim replied, sinking down onto the bench and accepting a sandwich and a quick kiss from Blair.

He softly stroked the small bump on Blair’s head. "Walk into another door, Sandburg?"

Blair pushed his hand away, wincing. "Leave it alone, will you, Jim. It hurts enough now. My desk chair broke okay?"

Jim tried unsuccessfully to stifle a smile. "You fell out of your chair? Way to go. Anyone see?"

"No!" Blair answered grumpily, then grinned despite himself. "So how was your day?"

"Pretty good," Jim said. "Though I could do with your help this afternoon. There’s a crime scene I want to walk through, and there’s something there but it keeps slipping away from me."

Blair nodded. "No problem. We’ll do that and then you can drop me back at the university. I’ll finish what I have to do there and you can pick me up when you’re done."

"Sounds like a plan" Jim agreed, then slid closer to Blair on the seat. Quickly checking no one was nearby, he licked sensuously at his lover’s earlobe. "What are you doing after dinner?"

Blair stretched extravagantly, putting his neck into contact with Jim’s warm tongue. "I’m pretty beat, man. I think I’ll just go to bed."

"Really?" Jim asked, his tongue still busy. "Think you’ll need help getting to sleep?"

"Count on it, big guy." With a sigh, Blair pulled away from his partner and stood, throwing the remains of their lunch into a nearby bin. "The sooner we get started, the sooner we get home."

Jim got up as well and began to move toward the path. Something caught his attention in the shadows and he stopped suddenly, searching.

Blair put his hand on his partner’s arm. "Jim? What is it?" he asked.

Jim cast his eyes about once more, then shrugged. "Nothing, I thought I saw something move behind those trees."

"Probably a bird or something," Blair said, walking up the path toward the truck.

"Probably," Jim agreed and then trotted to catch up with Blair.

By the time, Blair had gone over the scene of Cascade’s latest bank heist with Jim, it was close to four p.m. Jim dropped Blair back at the university and arranged to pick his lover up an hour later, after finishing off his report. Blair went back to his office, picking up a key to the storeroom from the janitor on his way in. As the furniture storage and his office were on the same level, Blair left his backpack and jacket on his desk in order to leave his hands free to carry back a chair.

The room was fairly large and packed rather tightly with faded office and lab furniture of an indeterminate age. Blair picked his way past lab stools and shelving piled haphazardly with desk lamps and other office paraphernalia.

‘Jim thinks my room is bad,’ he grinned to himself.

He finally reached the far side of the room and pulled a swivel chair from a group situated in the corner. In order to save himself the trouble of hauling back a damaged chair, and the embarrassment of another fall, Blair hunkered down on the floor and bent his head to check the base and wheels. He neither heard nor saw the laden shelves as they came crashing down upon him, the heavy wooden platforms driving the breath from his lungs and slamming him, already unconscious, into the ground. Blood trickled slowly from cuts in his hands and face, speared by the razor sharp fragments of shattered light globes.

0~0~0~0~0

Jim sat in his truck, drumming his fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. He’d arranged to pick Blair up from outside Hargrove Hall at five p.m. It was now five fifteen and he was tired and hungry. With a sigh of frustration at his tardy lover, he climbed out of the cab and walked into the hall. The university was almost deserted and he took the stairs down to Blair’s office. Poking his head in the door, he could see the room was empty, although Blair’s backpack sat on the desk. Remembering that Blair had mentioned trying to find a new chair, Jim made his way to the janitor’s office. The old man was sitting at a rickety table inside the tiny room, looking decidedly put out as he informed Jim that Blair hadn’t returned the storeroom keys and he couldn’t do his rounds until he had them. Jim felt a gnawing concern begin in his gut, he knew Blair would not have left the university and Charlie, the janitor said he’d collected the keys over an hour before. Jim managed to convince the old man to show him the way to the storeroom and extended his hearing, searching for Blair’s heartbeat as he tried to hurry the old man’s shuffling gait. Entering the large room, he pinpointed Blair’s heartbeat coming from the other side of the room, sounding thundering and rapid in his ears. Without his sight dialed up he could see little more than shadows because of the encroaching dusk.

"Blair?" he called. "Where are you, buddy?" The detective heard a muffled moan of pain and reached quickly to flick the switch to flood the room with light. "Oh shit, Blair."

His lover lay pinned beneath a large wooden plank and the twisted framework of shelving, shattered glass glittering in the harsh glare of the light. Jim hurried forward, shouting over his shoulder to Charlie. "Call 911, get some paramedics here quickly."

Charlie nodded and took off back to his office at a fast clipped pace. Jim picked his way as quickly as he could through the jumble of furniture and scattered debris. Kneeling at Blair's side, he spoke softly to him. "Blair, can you hear me?"

His lover lay on his stomach, his pale face turned toward Jim, both bleeding hands covering his head as though to protect it from damage. He moaned again softly and struggled to move then stilled suddenly with an indrawn hiss of pain. Blue eyes opened wide and Blair moved one hand toward his partner.

"Easy, Blair, it’s okay, help’s coming."

"Jim." Blair’s voice was strained and wheezy. "Get this off me, please, it hurts."

Jim nodded and moved to where the large plank lay across Blair’s lower back. Hefting it in both hands, he managed to lift it up and away from his lover’s body, lowering it quickly to one side. He scooted back up to check on Blair and saw that the young man’s eyes were closed again, a faint sheen of sweat coating his pallid features. Jim felt Blair’s pulse with shaking hands, breathing a sigh of relief as he found it rapid but strong. He gently brushed stray curls back from Blair’s face and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe away the trickling blood. He moved back as he heard footsteps clattering into the room and ushered the paramedics over. Within minutes, the two medics had Blair’s vitals monitored and he was hooked up to an IV and secured to a backboard, then gently lifted onto a gurney. One of the paramedics looked at Jim and tried to smile reassuringly. "Why don’t you follow us in, Jim? He’s got some nasty cuts and bruising and he’s a little shocky. They’ll need to check for fractures and internal injuries."

Jim nodded silently and followed the men and the stretcher out into the cool evening.

0~0~0~0~0

The Sentinel felt the minute shift in the bed and scooted his chair closer to watch his lover over the bed rail. Blair’s eyes opened slowly, his unfocussed gaze travelling around the room before coming to rest on Jim’s face.

"Hey," he whispered.

"Hey, yourself," Jim replied, grasping the younger man’s hand and lightly stroking it. "How are you feeling, babe?"

Blair thought a moment, then tried an experimental wriggle, wincing as he did so. "What hit me?"

"A shelf or two and a couple of desk lamps," Jim answered, indicating Blair’s bandaged hands and forehead. "Any idea what happened, Chief?"

Blair frowned as he shook his head carefully. "I remember going into the storeroom to look for a new chair, I found one, then nothing till now."

Jim nodded "The frames looked pretty sturdy, it would take some effort to push them over," he said thoughtfully.

Blair’s eyes widened in disbelief. "You think someone pushed them onto me? Why? Who?"

Jim shrugged, then sat back and smiled at Blair. "It’s probably just my over active imagination, Sandburg. The car, your chair, then this. You pissed anybody off at the university lately? Fail somebody, steal someone’s girlfriend?"

Blair’s eyes crinkled with laughter at the last question then he sobered. "You don’t really think someone tried to kill me?"

"Like I said, it’s probably just a coincidence, Blair." Jim looked up as the doctor returned to the room. "Dr Maddern, what’s the damage?"

The middle-aged doctor smiled and approached Blair’s bedside reaching to shake the young man’s hand. "Nice to see you awake, Mr. Sandburg. You’re a lucky guy. You’ve got some severe bruising to your lower back and walking is going to be painful for several days, but there are no fractures or internal injuries. Some of the gashes in your right hand necessitated sutures, but the rest of the cuts were minor. The bandaging can be removed in a day or two, you can come back and have the sutures removed in a week and I’ll check out the bruising again at the same time."

Blair nodded and smiled wanly. "Thanks Doctor, so I can go home?"

"Yes, you can, but I don’t want you doing anything more physical than reading a book for a day or two. I’ll give you some painkillers …." The doctor held up a hand as Blair tried to interrupt. "Take them home with you, Mr. Sandburg, if you don’t need them, fine. Though I strongly suspect that at least for tonight, you’ll be grateful for them."

Blair nodded again and managed to sit upright with Jim’s help. By the time, he was dressed and seated in the truck; he began to realize just how correct the doctor’s final words had been. His right hand throbbed in time with his head and his lower back felt as though it was held in a red hot vice. He was able to climb down from the cab with a modicum of dignity, ridiculously pleased not to have collapsed in a screaming heap at Jim’s feet. He managed three shuffling steps toward the entrance before his knees buckled. Jim caught him easily and ignoring his protestations half carried him into the apartment. By the time Blair lay down on the couch, his face was gray and he was shaking like a leaf.

Jim brushed a kiss lightly over Blair’s lips and stroked the damp curls away from the bandages on his head. "I’ll make you some tea."

"Have you got those pain pills there?" Blair whispered.

Jim nodded and without a word went to the kitchen and returned with a glass of water and two pills. He helped Blair sit up to swallow the pills then laid him back down, fussing a little to make sure his lover was more comfortable. He sat next to Blair, gently stroking his hand until he heard the young man’s breathing even out into sleep then he stood and went upstairs to phone his captain.

Blair opened his eyes and tried to figure out where he was. After a moment of confusion he remembered falling asleep on the couch and insisting to Jim when his lover roused him, that he would be more comfortable there than climbing the stairs to their bed. His nose detected the strong odor of freshly brewed coffee and he pulled himself into a sitting position, then yelled hoarsely and collapsed heavily back onto the couch. "Oh shit! Man, that hurts," he hissed.

Jim was at his side in seconds, a strong arm behind his back gently levering him upright. "Easy, Chief, take it slowly," he said.

Blair slumped forward as he tried to catch his breath, his head lying limply on Jim’s chest. His closed his eyes tightly and took slow deep breaths as nausea and dizziness threatened. "Thanks Jim. I’ll be all right in a minute. Just forgot what happened."

"Take your time, buddy," Jim whispered into the curls atop his head.

After several minutes Blair felt well enough to walk with help to the table. He sat down gingerly and wrapped his hands around the mug Jim proffered. "Thanks. I really need this. Those pills give me a terrible hangover."

"Why don’t I go call Simon and stay here with you today?" Jim suggested, looking worriedly at Blair’s pale face. It was obvious that the young man was in considerable pain still and Jim didn’t entirely trust him to simply lay on the couch and read a book. He was also more than a little suspicious over the spate of accidents his partner had suffered and wanted to be nearby, should anything else occur.

Blair resolutely shook his head. "I’ll be fine. I know you’re up to neck with work, after this latest bank robbery."

"I only have reports to do unless something new comes in. Brown and Rafe can cover anything else for me. Let me go down to the precinct, pick up some reports, talk to Simon and then I’ll pick up lunch on the way home and you can help me type reports all afternoon. Come on, Chief, humor me."

Blair sighed, then smiled. "Okay, babe, you win. But you can type the reports; I’ll just correct your grammar and spelling mistakes. That’ll take me all afternoon."

"You’re a prick sometimes, Sandburg," Jim said as he got up from the table and moved around behind his lover to wrap him in a careful hug.

"Yeah, but I’m your prick, Ellison," Blair retorted, lifting his face for a deep kiss.

"Don’t you ever forget it," Jim replied, reluctantly heading for the bathroom to shower and change.

Blair was halfway back to the couch when someone rapped quietly at the door. The young man growled in frustration then did an about face and hobbled slowly to the door. The knocking came again, this time rather louder.

"Alright, hold your horses, I’m getting there," Blair called. He pulled the door open expecting to see Simon Banks and halted in surprise when he saw Carrie Webster. "Oh, hey, Carrie. How are you? Um, what are you doing here? No, I’m sorry, that came out wrong. What can I do for you?"

Carrie smiled shyly from beneath her curtain of hair and held out his backpack. "I heard about your accident yesterday when I went back to your office to ask you something else about the assignment. I saw your backpack there and, well, you always have it, so I asked a friend who works in the Registry Office for your address and, um, here…" With that said, she offered the bag once more.

"Oh," Blair said, temporarily taken aback. He had been going to ask Jim to stop by the University and pick his backpack and jacket up. He had some research notes in the bag he could work on at home. "Thanks, Carrie, I appreciate it. Please come in for a minute."

Both turned as Jim trotted down the stairs, towel drying his hair.

"Hey, Jim, this is Carrie Webster. I mentioned her to you yesterday."

"You did? Why?" Carrie asked abruptly.

"What? Oh, I just mentioned to Jim how you’d transferred back here and how well you were doing. It’s gratifying to have someone enjoying the course," Blair smiled.

Carrie relaxed instantly and smiled at Jim. "Mr. Sandburg’s a wonderful teacher. It’s not hard to enjoy anthropology when it’s taught with so much enthusiasm."

"It’s nice to meet you, Carrie." Jim turned to Blair. "I’ve gotta go, are you sure you’re going to be okay?"

"I’ll be fine, Jim. I’ll see you at lunchtime."

Blair and Carrie stood facing each other awkwardly for a moment, and then Blair spoke up. "I was just about to make a cup of tea. Can I offer you something?" He rather hoped the young woman would refuse. His back was beginning to hurt with a vengeance and all he wanted to do was to curl up in a ball on the couch and sleep until it was better.

"No, it’s okay, I can see you’re not well," Carrie answered with a smile. "I tell you what. Why don’t you lay down and let me make you a cup of tea before I go? You look like you’re ready to fall down and my mom always said I made the best tea. It used to relax her and after the chemo, it was usually the only thing she could keep down." Her voice wavered slightly on the last few words and she bent her head, allowing her hair to cover her features once more.

"Thanks, Carrie, that’d be great." Blair spoke sincerely. He shuffled over to the couch and lay down carefully with a sigh. "Everything’s on the counter there." He lay back, trying to take shallow breaths as the pain in his back retreated in ever decreasing echoes. In what seemed only minutes, Carrie was standing over him, holding a mug of steaming aromatic tea. Blair struggled to sit up and the young woman assisted him with a hand around his shoulders. "Oh wow, thanks Carrie, this is great."

"No problem, Mr. Sandburg," Carrie answered. "It’s nice to be able to do something for you. You’ve been so kind to me since I came here."

"It must be tough for you," Blair said softly, sipping at his tea. "Looking after your little sister and your dad and trying to study."

"I have to be here for my sister, Amy. If I wasn’t… things would be really bad for her."

"At least you’ve both still got your dad, Carrie," Blair answered. "And I’m sure he’s very grateful that you’re home."

Carrie nodded. "Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s glad I’m home."

Blair detected a hint of anger in her tone and looked up from his cup to see tears beginning to trail down her face. "Oh, Carrie, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you."

"It wasn’t you, Blair. I’ll be fine."

Blair asked her about her assignment and they chatted a while longer as he sipped his tea. Blair rubbed at his eyes and yawned suddenly. "Man, I’m really wiped here."

He squinted up at Carrie, his eyesight wavering as she moved to take the tilting teacup from his suddenly nerveless fingers. His brain finally caught up to the idea that something was terribly wrong and he leaned forward to grab at the young woman’s wrist. "There’s something wrong. I feel really strange."

Blair saw Carrie smiling at him. "It’s okay, Blair. Just a little something to help you relax while we wait for Detective Ellison. If those shelves had fallen the way they were supposed to, I wouldn’t have to do this. This is better though, now you both get to pay."

"What have you done? Pay for what?" Blair’s voice sounded sluggish and thick to his ears and his vision began to white out rapidly. "Carrie? Why…?" In a belated panicked move, he lunged forward in a futile attempt to escape, succeeding only in toppling off the couch and landing heavily on the floor.

Carrie bent and lifted Blair’s limp arm, checking for a pulse. She smiled as she felt it thrum slowly and weakly against her fingertips. Leaving the unconscious anthropologist on the floor, she walked to the kitchen to tip the remains of the tainted tea down the sink.

"Now we wait."

0~0~0~0~0

Jim unlocked the door to the apartment and managed to push it open with his foot. His hands were full of files and two bags of Thai takeout, that he hoped would tempt his lover to eat. He went through to the kitchen calling out as he unloaded the bags onto the counter. "Hey, Chief, it’s me. Hope you’re hungry."

Jim turned to take the small pile of reports into the lounge, and then his heart slammed into his throat as he caught sight of Blair sprawled in a heap on the floor next to the couch. The folders spilled from his arms as he raced forward to kneel at the side of his unconscious partner. Shaking, Jim lifted Blair’s wrist and felt for a pulse, sighing in relief as he felt it, slow but strong. He dialed up his senses to check Blair’s vitals and search for injuries, speaking to the non-responsive young man at the same time. "Blair? Can you wake up for me? Come on buddy, open your eyes."

After a few moments, he was rewarded with a low moan and he gently turned Blair onto his side so that he could see his face. The young man had a nasty bruise coloring one cheek, possibly caused when he hit the floor, but Jim could not detect any injuries apart from those caused by the shelves the day before.

"Jim?" The voice was whisper soft and Jim bent his head to hear. "Wha’ happened?"

"I was hoping you could tell me, Chief. I’m going to call for an ambulance, okay? Just keep breathing."

Blair’s eyes suddenly widened in horror and he struggled frantically to sit up. "Jim! Carrie, she, she…"

"Easy buddy, take it easy." Jim tried to gently restrain the struggling man. "What about Carrie? Is she okay?" He felt the uneasy sensation of someone at his back at the same time as Blair looked past him and screamed.

"Noooo!"

Jim spun quickly and caught a flash of silver, then shuddered as red-hot agony shot through his shoulder and arm. He managed to stagger upright as Carrie came at him again, her face a mask of ashen fury, the kitchen knife held tightly in a white-knuckled grip as she slashed it down at him again. Jim ducked back, the very vehemence of Carrie’s attack precluding much accuracy. As he shifted backwards, he tripped over Blair, who was attempting to pull himself to his hands and knees, sending them both tumbling to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs. Jim saw the room darken for a moment and he fought to hang on to his consciousness. He felt Blair squirm frantically beneath him, uttering a pained moan and he quickly rolled off the younger man. He looked around the room and saw Carrie disappearing out the front door. Jim pressed a hand to his bloody shoulder and turned to his partner. "Blair, you okay?"

Blair nodded and then his eyes widened as he took in the gash on Jim’s shoulder. "Oh God, Jim, you’re hurt." He reached a wavering hand up toward his lover but Jim waved it away and spoke firmly.

"I’ll be fine, babe. I’ve got to go after her. Stay here and call for backup. Can you do that?"

Blair nodded and Jim straightened and raced for the front door, calling over his shoulder. "I mean that, Sandburg, stay here."

Jim reached the hallway and cast his glance left and right. He spotted the door to the roof just whispering shut and pulling his gun from his holster ran for the stairs. He burst out onto the roof and looked around carefully but could see no one. He extended his hearing and picked up a rapid heartbeat around the corner and something else. The young girl was whispering frantically to herself, berating her deeds and crying dejectedly. Jim slowed to a walk and moved around the corner. He stopped dead in his tracks at the sight that greeted him. Carrie stood at the very edge of the roof, pacing back and forth muttering softly to herself. She still held the bloodied kitchen knife, but now rubbed it back and forth against her wrist, not hard enough to cut but Jim could see the ragged scratches slowly deepening. He holstered his weapon and moved forward slowly.

"Carrie?"

The young girl’s head shot up in alarm and she moved even closer to the edge, holding the knife out threateningly. "Go away, this is all your fault. I’ll kill you. It’s all your fault."

Jim stopped where he was and held his hands out in what he hoped was a non-threatening gesture. "Why don’t you tell me why it’s my fault, Carrie?"

Carrie shook her head, then spoke in a small voice. "You don’t even remember her, do you? She loved you so much and you promised her you’d be together forever."

Jim shook his head in puzzlement. "I’m not sure I know who you’re talking about, Carrie."

Carrie took a shuddering breath. "Her name was Barbara Scott and you fell in love with her, now she’s dead and I’m here and it’s all your fault."

Jim cast through half remembered memories, the name seemed familiar. Suddenly he grasped it and smiled in spite of the situation. "Betsy" he said. "I don’t understand what this is about, Carrie. Why did you attack me? And Blair? Where does he fit into this?"

As he spoke, he tried to sidle closer to the distraught young woman, he could feel his blood trickling down his chest and he already felt lightheaded and weak.

"Mom loved you, Jim," Carrie said. "She talked about you all the time. You met in junior high and you promised her that you would always be together. You talked about the house you’d build and the children you’d have." Her voice quavered, then she lifted her chin, her eyes narrowed accusingly. "Then you went away and forgot about her."

"We were just kids, Carrie. I liked your mom very much, but the things we planned were just children’s dreams of make believe. I went into the army and by the time, I got back, I heard Betsy had married. It wouldn’t have been right for me to intrude on her new life."

"She married him because he raped her and she got pregnant," Carrie wailed. "Her parents insisted that they get married. They had me and six years later, he raped her again and she had Amy. In the years between, he beat her and raped her and made her life and mine a living hell. All the time, she kept talking about you, how much you’d loved each other, how different it would be if you hadn’t left her."

Jim sighed in sorrow and then slowly moved forward again, but the girl caught the movement and brought the knife up once more, this time toward her own throat. "You stay back," she screamed hoarsely, her voice spent of tears. "I’ll kill myself."

Jim stayed where he was and tried once more to keep the girl talking. "Why Blair, Carrie? Why did you hurt Blair?"

"Because you chose him over me, over mom. If you’d come back to mom like you promised, she wouldn’t have married *him*." Carrie spat the last word violently. "He wouldn’t have been able to do what he did to me."

Realization dawned on Jim and he recoiled in disgust. "Did your father rape you, Carrie?"

"All the time," she whispered in a small voice. "Whenever mom was at work or out somewhere. He said I wanted him to do it, that he did it to show me how much he loved me." She raised her chin defiantly, a steely look firming her features. "That’s why I left. To stop it. Then mom got sick and Amy wrote to me, she said he was doing things to her. She was so scared. I had to come back."

Jim had moved cautiously to get closer to the girl without attracting her attention, but froze suddenly, his mouth dry as he saw Blair dragging himself slowly, painfully up behind the distraught young woman. His eyes were as wide as saucers and Jim could see him bite down on his lip to stifle the moan of pain that threatened to erupt as each movement seared agony through his damaged back. Jim knew it was too late to call his partner off. If Carrie were alerted to the young man’s presence in her current state of mind, she would likely attack him before Jim would be close enough to stop her. He fought to keep his voice steady as he kept her talking and focussed on him.

"Let me help you and Amy, Carrie. You can press charges against him."

She laughed suddenly, the sound brittle as it rose from her constricted throat. "I already tried that, they didn’t believe me and Amy was too frightened to corroborate my story. My dad told them that I was having trouble coping with my mom’s death. He threatened to take Amy away, if I said anything to anyone. I have to keep her safe. If I’m there, he won’t need her."

A sob was wrenched from the young woman’s throat and she raised her hand to stifle it, looking in surprise at the knife she clutched. Then she looked slowly up at Jim, her tears forming sooty tracks down her cheeks as her mascara ran from her puffy eyelids. "Oh God, what did I do?" Her frightened eyes took in the bloody gash on Jim shoulder as she staggered back against the concrete wall.

Jim took a panicked step forward, his hands held out as if in supplication. "No, Carrie, it’s okay, we’ll help you."

Carrie shook her head frantically and threw herself suddenly at the parapet. Jim heard Blair’s horrified scream as the young woman tumbled over the edge.

"Carrie!" Blair was close enough to throw himself at her and grabbed at her arm as she plummeted downward. He screamed in agony as the girl’s full weight tore at his injured back. He looked down and saw Carrie’s white features staring back at him.

"Let me go, please," she whispered brokenly. As he shook his head, she reached upward and plunged the kitchen knife into his forearm. Blair screamed again but hung on resolutely as red-hot agony scorched through him. Then Jim was there, adding his dwindling strength to that of his partner. Slowly, they inched backwards until Jim was able to drag the sobbing girl over the ledge where she collapsed in a dead faint.

Jim staggered to her side, vaguely aware of Blair sitting down heavily, his back against the wall, cradling his bleeding arm with his other hand. The detective rolled the unconscious girl onto her side and hurried back to Blair’s side, slumping down beside him as he heard the racing footsteps of several people clattering up the stairs. He gathered his lover to him and rocked him gently as he felt the shock and pain coursing through the slight figure.

"It’s okay now, baby," he whispered. "Help’s here."

One week later:

"Thanks Simon, I appreciate the call. We’ll see you tomorrow." Jim replaced the phone receiver and called into the kitchen where Blair was busying himself with supper. "That was Simon, Chief. John Webster hung himself this morning. He was due in court tomorrow to answer the rape charges against Carrie and Amy."

Blair sighed and then smiled gently at his lover. "At least there’s closure for the girls. Now, maybe they can begin to heal."

Jim looked up as Blair padded in barefoot from the kitchen, steaming mugs of soup held precariously in both hands.

"Take it easy, Blair," he admonished gently. "The doctor told you not to overdo things for a few weeks."

He grabbed a mug from his lover’s hand as it began to tilt and set it on the coffee table. Settling back onto the couch, he grasped the smaller man by his hips as Blair bent to put his cup down and pulled him back to sit on his lap. "You tore some muscles in your back pretty badly, baby, and the stitches in your arm only came out today. I don’t relish taking you back to the hospital for another set."

Blair lay back against Jim’s chest, raising his neck for his lover’s attention. "Pity," he whispered silkily.

"What’s a pity?" Jim mumbled as he obliged his lover and snaked his tongue out to lick softly at Blair’s exposed Adam’s apple.

Blair groaned deep in his throat and skated a hand softly over Jim’s burgeoning denim covered erection. "Pity I can’t do something to help you with this," he said.

Jim pushed his hips up, thrusting into the stroking palm. "’Course you can, baby. You’ve just got to let me do all the work."

"Don’t know about that, Jim," Blair replied as he turned to straddle his lover’s lap. "You’ve got a shoulder wound."

Jim shook his head, his words muffled as his lips found a soft nipple and sucked it into his hot mouth causing Blair to gasp and arch his chest up for more attention. "Just a scratch, Chief."

Blair grinned, then all coherent thought fled as Jim’s mouth switched sides and found the tiny silver nipple ring and tugged on it gently. He lifted his arms as Jim divested him of his shirt, rubbing his cock roughly into Jim’s groin. "No, you don’t Sandburg. I said I was doing all the workm," Jim growled.

Jim quickly removed the rest of Blair’s clothes, then stripped off his own. Blair felt himself lifted and positioned face down on the blanket covered floor in front of the fire. He heard Jim move off and turned his head to see his lover disappear into the bathroom, then return with a small bottle of massage oil clasped in his hand. Blair shivered in delicious anticipation as Jim knelt astride his hips.

"Let’s get those tight muscles loosened up, baby," he whispered.

Blair felt himself melt into the blanket as the warm oil was drizzled between his shoulder blades and then Jim’s large hands began a soothing kneading down his spine. "Mmm, good Jim, so good," he whispered drowsily.

Jim kept up the firm pressure as he moved slowly down Blair’s bruised back. He let his lips follow his hands’ path down as he soothed each discoloration with a soft kiss and lick. He felt his own erection begin to weep as he kneaded the firm lightly tanned ass cheeks, allowing his thumbs to trace a path between them and brush lightly over the tight pucker at Blair’s center. He heard Blair’s soft gasp of surprise as he licked gently at the hole, pressing his tongue softly at first into the tight muscle, then harder as Blair began to open for him, panting softly in desire.

Jim continued to caress one buttock as he stroked in and out of his lover’s ass. Blair was moving back and forward rhythmically now, fucking Jim’s tongue and moaning continuously.

"Here, baby, let me help you up." Jim moved up to whisper in Blair’s ear and sucked for a moment on the soft lobe. Blair continued to moan and rock back and forth as Jim helped him onto his knees, then pushed him forward so his head was cradled on his forearms. "I don’t want you to put any weight on your arm, lover."

Jim knelt back then and coated his fingers in the warmed oil. Leaning forward, he planted a kiss at the base of. Blair’s spine as he pushed one finger into his lover’s moistened opening. He felt Blair push back on his finger and moved it gently back and forth, working his way further in. As he felt the sphincter begin to give, he inserted two fingers, scissoring them apart to open the way. Blair pushed back harder now and Jim stayed him with a firm hand on his hip. "Easy, baby, let me do all the work."

"Now, Jim, need you now, please," Blair grunted.

"Soon, Blair, soon."

Jim returned to Blair’s ass with three fingers and sat back on his heels to watch them stroking in and out of his lover’s hole. He found the sight incredibly erotic and felt his cock harden achingly. Finally he removed his fingers, hearing Blair sigh as he did so. He positioned his cock at Blair’s ass and slid slowly in, allowing Blair to rock back onto him as he did so, impaling himself to the hilt. Both men stilled for a moment and then as Blair began to undulate against him, Jim reached around to take Blair’s weeping shaft in his fist. He matched his strong strokes with those of his thrusts into Blair’s ass and felt the groan that began deep in Blair’s throat warning of his approaching orgasm. He pulled Blair up suddenly so that the young man sat fully on his lap and thrust up as hard as he could into the hot channel. He heard a sob torn from Blair’s throat as the young man exploded over his hand with a shudder, as Jim’s cock slammed hard against his prostate. He continued to thrust up and pull Blair’s hips down against him as he felt his balls pull up tight in their sac and then he was coming, emptying his seed deep into his lover as he moaned his name over and over. He pulled Blair off his softening cock and rolled him to his side, spooning up behind him, the fingers of his left hand interlocked with Blair’s on his chest.

Blair was still sobbing softly and Jim leaned up on one arm and wiped at the tears with his thumb. "Blair? What’s wrong, baby? Did I hurt you? I shouldn’t have gotten so rough with you."

Blair shook his head and reached for Jim’s hand, kissing the fingers one by one. "I just feel so sad for Carrie and Amy. To think that bastard turned something as beautiful as this into something dirty and disgusting. He stole their childhood away from them."

"I know, but at least Amy has a chance to regain some of hers, with our help and her sister’s. She’s still young Blair, but she’s tough."

"And smart, Jim. She’s gonna go places, is Amy," Blair answered, beginning to smile. "Some of the questions she asks, man."

"Well, Darwin, if you’re gonna regale the kid with tales of your adventures as an anthropologist, you have to be able to back them up with hard facts," Jim said, leaning over to kiss each eyelid, as they drowsily closed.

"What and let her find out I’m all bluff? No way man."

"She already knows, Chief. Like you said, the kid is smart. Goodnight, baby, you did good."

"Blair’s eyes opened fractionally. "I did?"

"Yes, Blair, you did."

"You want me to believe in forever

Do you know how hard I’m holding

Just to keep my grip on yesterday

But I’m trying hard to see the pretty pictures

That you paint for me

You know how tight I’m holding

To hard promises to keep

Promises are like little diamonds

Promises are like little hearts you meant

To give away

I thought you’d want them back someday

I kept them for you anyway

But I know when I’ve been given

Hard promises to keep"

–K.Rhodes

Fin

- Lyn

- August 21, 2000

 

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