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Have you practiced so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems ...
Walt Whitman, "Song of Myself"


by Resonant and Kass


"Do you suppose Whitman could have been a Sentinel, Jim?"

"Do I think who was a what?"

"Whitman. Walt. You know, the poet--"

"Anthropologists are reading poetry now? Did they discover a colony of poets in South America, all squatting around campfires in loincloths and --"

"Fuck you," Blair said, looking up from the book and grinning. "Shauna lent it to me. I thought it would be a nice gesture to, like, actually read it. But it's really good, it's a lot better than I expected."

"'Leaves of Grass.' Isn't that the one Clinton ..."

"Yeah, OK, Jim, let's not make this any more tawdry than it already is, all right?"

"And speaking of tawdry, isn't Shauna one of your students? That's a little pathetic, Chief."

It was a low blow, but if they were talking about Blair's love life, then they weren't talking about Jim's senses. Which was worth a little dirty fighting as far as Jim was concerned

"She was in one of my classes. She is no longer in one of my classes. She is a 22-year-old master's degree student now. And I'm not even dating her, man, we just went to lunch once."

"And you're not even a little bit defensive about this."

"Oh, give me a break, Jim, if you knew how many times I've heard this already ..."

Jim snorted and went back to his ESPN: The Magazine. On second thought, that didn't seem like enough of a guarantee that Sandburg would shut up, so he turned on the TV and flipped channels until he found basketball.

After the third personal foul on Stockton, Blair put the book down on his knee and started watching, too. Success: annoying conversation averted.


"Hey, Jim, you never answered my question about Walt Whitman." They were watching CNN, Jim having failed to find anything else even remotely worth watching. It had been a long day and neither of them had felt like cooking: they'd ordered in pizza and devoured it straight from the box.

Jim muted the television and heaved a theatrically long-suffering sigh. "Somehow I missed the part in our negotiations where I handed you my spare room, two-thirds of the medicine cabinet, and all my TV-watching time."

He would have been shocked if Blair had done anything other than what he did: ignore him completely. "Listen to this. 'Houses and rooms are full of perfumes .... the shelves are crowded with perfumes,/ I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it...'"

"He's not a Sentinel," Jim said instantly. "That shit stinks."

"Shut up and listen, will you? 'The distillation would intoxicate me also but I shall not let it..."

"Intoxicate him or gag him, maybe," Jim said. "Most people aren't as clean as they think they are." But he didn't turn the sound back up.

Blair gave one armpit a quick sniff. Jim chuckled.

"And worse than that, if you don't know how to interpret it, all of it's white noise. Your senses are screaming, 'Pay attention to this! This is important!' about every single thing, and you have no idea what you're smelling, and whether it's fresh or two weeks old, and whether it has anything to do with you."

"Wow. That's better now, though, right?"

"Oh yeah. The dials help. Plus the longer I do it, the easier it gets. And I can tune out the irrelevant stuff, so I'm not wasting time trying to interpret Mrs. Hawkins's roasted garlic or Simon's deodorant."

"Oh, I can interpret Simon's deodorant for you, man. It's saying, 'Help! Backup! There's a shootout! Goin' dooown!'" He mimed the death of the deodorant, flopping down beside Jim on the couch.

Jim threw a cushion at him. "You kids have no respect for authority."

"What, Simon's deodorant is an authority now? Well, hey, it's earned it. It works harder than anybody else at the station." Blair recaptured his book from where it had fallen on the floor. "Seriously, though, listen to this. 'The atmosphere is not a perfume .... It is for my mouth forever .... I am in love with it,/ I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,/ I am mad for it to be in contact with me.'"

Jim snorted. "I will go to the wood and get arrested for indecent exposure. Yeah, sounds like your basic Sentinel behavior there, Chief."

"So that's not really what it's like?"

"How often do you think I'm seized by the urge to get naked in the woods, Sandburg?"

Blair gave a little laugh. "Well, just because I've never seen you do it --"

Jim resisted the temptation to roll his eyes. "No, Chief. Life does not always feel like sex to a Sentinel."

"But sometimes?"

Blair persisted. God, he was persistent. "Sometimes," Jim admitted. "At the most inconvenient times, too." Fishing, the smell of pine and wet denim and fresh sweat and Sandburg's sun-warmed hair ... He shook off the memory. "It sucks."

"I don't know. I'd take it," Blair said. "Even in a staff meeting."

"So you think."

"So I know! To be able to sense so much, take in so much ... I used to get so pissed at you, man, you kept saying, 'Help me get rid of this stuff' -- like you had this great gift and you wanted to fucking give it back! I'd give a couple of teeth to experience things like that. Compared to that, I just feel ... numb." He flung the book down and stalked into the kitchen, where he poured a beer into a glass with a whole ten-course meal's worth of slamming and clattering.

"You don't know what you're talking about," Jim muttered, not that Sandburg could have heard him with all the noise he was making.

Jim stifled a sigh and turned the volume back up on the TV.


"You might as well get Narcotics on this now, Simon," Jim said into the cell phone. "Today it's an arson, but yesterday it was a meth lab."

Out of cell phone range, but well within the capabilities of Sentinel hearing, Blair was muttering: "Which we know because one of us has super powers. While the other of us is just an ordinary guy whose spectacular mind and stunning good looks apparently don't count for shit around here..."

"And Simon?" Jim said. "If I bring Sandburg in for felonious grouchiness, can you promise me you'll put him in a soundproof cell?"


"I'll bet lots of people with enhanced senses become poets. I mean, if you feel things that intensely ..."

Jim put down his checkbook and calculator and stifled the impulse to hunt for the remote control. "Why are we still having this conversation?"

As usual, Blair managed to simultaneously ignore what he'd said and demand further response. "C'mon, Jim, I'm serious. I don't know why anybody in English or Lit Studies hasn't thought of this."

"Because it's bullshit?" Jim offered.

Blair shot him a dirty look.

"You're talking like a poet's, like, I don't know, a court reporter or something." Blair frowned at him. "You know. Feel it, write it down. Feel it, write it down."

"What, you're the expert on the poetic experience now?"

"I'm not. That's the point, Sandburg. I don't need to make everything more intense. Just the opposite." Jim leaned forward, suddenly sure he had discovered something. "Your poet guy -- somehow he had to learn to dial it up."

Blair's hands sketched a broad arc of bafflement. "Dial what up?"

"Dunno." Jim rubbed the corners of his eyes. "His attention, maybe."

"His attention." Blair rolled his eyes. "Jim," he said with exaggerated patience, "I pay attention. I've done coursework in paying attention. No way is Whitman getting all that -- all ..." he retrieved the book and scrabbled through the pages, "'The smoke of my own breath,/ Echoes, ripples, and buzzed whispers ... loveroot, silkthread, crotch and vine ...' there's no way he's getting all that from just feeling the same things I feel. No way." He was talking so fast Jim was faintly surprised he could get the words out. Great: manic Sandburg.

"If you'd slow the fuck down, Sandburg, you might notice more."

Blair got up from the couch and took two quick steps towards the kitchen, then turned around, shaking his head. "It's not a question of speed, Jim, it's --"

"You don't experience five percent of what comes in through your senses." Said with finality.

"Oh, yeah, right. 'The smoke of my own breath' -- breathing doesn't feel like, what'd he say, echoes and ripples."

"Pay some attention. Try it."

"No way. It's not ..." And then he frowned. "Hey, wait." He walked back to the couch and sat down again, blessedly still.

Jim couldn't help a laugh. "See? Just, your subconscious tunes out a lot of what you sense because you don't need to pay attention to it. But it's all there."

Blair's eyes were closed. "Whoa. It's like being stoned, only I'm sober!" he said, grinning. "Not that I ever really indulged in, y'know, things of that ilk."

Jim snorted -- like he believed that -- and waited for something more, but Blair just sat there, breathing with his eyes closed. After a moment Jim returned to balancing his checkbook. He felt oddly ... disappointed that the conversation appeared to be over.


Sandburg barely did shit all morning. Jim finished his half of the paperwork first -- some kind of record.

When it was time to go to lunch, Jim had to call Blair's name twice; Blair was running a finger up and down the seam at the edge of his jeans, apparently focused on his fingertip to the exclusion of anything else. Like, say, Jim saying "Sandburg" loud enough to make half the bullpen turn around.

Lunch took about three times as long as it should have. Apparently Blair was trying to take as long as humanly possible to eat his orange. He spent a while turning the thing over in his hand, stealing furtive sniffs of the peel when he thought Jim wasn't looking. And then he ate it section by section. Slowly. Licking juice off his fingers.

It was a little maddening, actually. There was something weird about watching Sandburg savor the orange. Something ... hot.

Jim masked the horniness the way he always did: by being surly. "You planning to propose to that thing?"

Blair had the grace to blush. He finished the last few segments, quickly, and wiped his hands on his thighs. Jim felt an odd echo of denim against his own fingertips, as if his hands were feeling Blair's sensations. He remembered how giddy touch had made him when the senses were new.

Jim didn't want to think about it, about Blair feeling that dizzying sensuality, but it was hard not to with Blair sitting right beside him. Fortunately, Blair left work early, eyes darting about like he couldn't quite focus enough to make eye contact.

Jim was slightly on edge by the time he got home, wondering what Blair might have gotten into by now, but he found Blair just sitting on the couch, eyes closed, breathing again.

Despite himself, Jim closed the door quietly, not wanting to break Blair's concentration. There was always a certain pleasure in coming home to the silent house of a meditating Blair. He toed off his shoes and walked over to the couch.

"How goes?"

Unlike at the bullpen, Blair seemed to still have access to his ears; he smiled, although his eyes didn't open.

"It's cool coming in and warm going out, and it's warmer when I'm talking ... man, this is so ool!"

The blissed-out expression on Blair's face was too much: it brought all kinds of images unbidden to Jim's mind. Skimming his hands over Blair's body. Licking the head of Blair's dick and watching the pleasure play across his features.

This kind of fantasizing made Jim vaguely uncomfortable when he was alone; when he was sitting in the same room with the guy it made him feel like a pervert.

Jim took a deep breath, made the conscious decision not to think about being attracted to Blair, released the breath, and realized he wasn't sure what else to think about.

Sensory tests. That'd keep his mind occupied, right?

"So what else can you feel?"

"What else is there?" Blair opened his eyes, annoyed. "C'mon, Jim, I'm enjoying this, don't spoil it."

Jim grinned. Okay, maybe putting his partner through some sensory hoops would be its own kind of pleasure. In a very small vengeance kind of way.

"Oh, give me a break, Sandburg. How many times did I stare at that flashing prism?"

Blair closed his eyes as if he weren't listening, but his face pinked slightly.

"You can feel more than this." Exasperated. "C'mon, you meditate all the fucking time, so do whatever it is you do when you meditate."

Blair's eyes popped open again. "I can't, I can't," he said, "meditating, it's not the same thing, you're trying to let go of thought and sensation. I've got all this practice letting it wash over me, I don't know how to focus ... Wait a minute. I've got an idea."

He darted into his room, and Jim could hear the sound of drawers opening and fabric hitting the floor and a muffled "aha!" before Blair emerged dangling an olive-green knitted necktie. He pulled it over his eyes, then turned his back to Jim and held his hair out of the way while Jim tied it. Then he turned back around and laid his head against the back of the couch.

"Better?" Jim asked.


"That's a good color on you."

Blair snorted. "OK, let's try again, man."

"Right. OK, now just see what you can feel."

"Um ... Hey, there are air currents in here! I can feel the air moving a little, differences in temperature." He lifted his hands away from his thighs, then brought them back slowly. "Wow. Oh wow. I can feel the air get warmer closer to my body."

"Good. You're doing good. What else?"

"My hair, I can feel my hair on my face and on my neck. Um, my clothes, I can feel my shirt collar, the sleeves against my forearms and where they bunch up under my arms. Pants I don't feel much unless ..." He straightened and bent his leg. "... unless I move. Um. The couch under me. The floor under my feet. My shoes against the tops of my feet ... wait a minute ..." He bent and tugged at his sock. "Oh, thanks, Jim, that wasn't bothering me at all until we started this."

He gave up and toed his shoes off, then stepped on each sock to pull it off. "Better. Now ... mmm ... the air is cooler to my feet than to the rest of me. I can feel it sort of eddying around." He slid his feet forward and backward. "Rug ... Oh, wow, man, I just noticed -- I have sort of toe-tips, like fingertips -- my toes are more sensitive than the rest of my feet. My feet just feel that the rug is rough, but my toes can pick up a bit of the weave."

"OK, pull in a little bit. Try to feel your own body. Can you feel your heartbeat?"

" ... No."

"No, don't try to feel it in your chest. Try ... um ... your fingers."

Blair was silent for several deep breaths, then -- "Yeah! Whoa! I can feel it in my fingertips. And where one foot touches the other, I can feel it there, too."

Jim closed his eyes for a moment, concentrating. "Can you feel ... uh, your tongue in your mouth?" Blair nodded. "Uh ... one finger against another? ... Oh, OK, try this: Where can you feel your breathing?"

"What do you mean where can I ... oh. Um, in my arms I can feel my chest getting bigger and smaller ... and breathing moves my shirt against my chest, I can feel that ... Jim, man, this is the most amazing thing!"

Jim was slightly surprised to discover himself grinning back at his blind partner. This was actually pretty fun. "You wanna try hearing?"

"Yeah, OK." There was a long pause. "Um, the laptop's humming." Another pause. "Actually there's lots of humming going on here. Refrigerator ... um, that must be the heat ... and there's another one, almost buzzy ..."

"That's the light over the sink. It's noisy," Jim said. "When you're up first in the morning, lots of times that's what wakes me up."

"Oh, man, I'm ..."

"Don't even, Sandburg. If I don't want to be awake I just tune it out and go back to sleep. If you try not to do anything that will wake me up, you're not going to be able to move."

"OK. But you'd tell me if it was bad, right?"

"Yeah, of course I would. Ah ... another hearing test. Could you tell what time of day it was with your hearing?"

"How could I ... um." Blair's eyebrows pulled together. "Well ... I can hear traffic. I guess if it was rush hour I could tell by that. And if it was Sunday morning I could hear the bells at St. Sharbel's, I know that ..." Another pause. "Hey!" he said, grinning. "I got it! I know it's between 6 and 7 because I can hear Sarah practicing her clarinet!"

"Very good!" Jim said. "She's getting a little better, don't you think?"

"How would I know? I don't know a good clarinet from a bad clarinet." Blair tilted his head to one side. "I'll bet I could tell from your voice what time of day it was," he said. "I think you sound different at night than in the morning. When you're tired, your voice is a little ... fuzzy. Plus when you're tired you've always got a hand on your mouth, you ever notice that?"

Sandburg had been watching him. Sandburg had been watching his mouth. A feeling akin to nervousness rushed up his spine. "I do not," he said, a little more sharply than he intended.

"Do so. You wipe your mouth with the back of your hand like every ten seconds, man."

"Hey, I'm not going to give you sense lessons if you're just going to use them to torment me, Sandburg."

"If you think that's torment ... OK, OK, OK. What next?"

"How about smell? What can you smell?"

"Um. My own shampoo. Um ... coffee. Ee-ew, the garbage, sorry, Jim, it's my turn, isn't it? Um ... corn chips. Sprouts -- man, those reek! I can't believe I can still smell those!"

"Sprouts are one of those smells that stay in the air," Jim said. "Oranges, too. I mean for days." Carefully not thinking about the orange he knew he'd still be able to taste on Sandburg's fingers.

"Um, I can smell dust, I think. Not much else."

"Can you smell anything from me?"

"No ... yeah. Toothpaste -- what did you do, brush your teeth after lunch? What a boy scout!"

"Hey, I like my teeth," Jim said loftily.

"And, um, well, it's hard to tell -- soap, laundry detergent -- we use the same stuff, so that could be you or it could be me." Blair lifted his own arm to his nose. "My skin smells ... I can tell I've been outside. Not like sweat, exactly, but something ... Do I reek to you?"

"No," Jim assured him. "I mean, yeah, times when we've had to run after somebody and then get in the truck, I can smell you pretty strongly then, and if you go clubbing I can smell smoke on your skin till you wash it off. And, um, first thing in the morning you don't smell bad but you've got a different sort of smell, a sleep smell..." That sleep smell. Jim liked that sleep smell. Something in him thrilled at the remembered scent, but he ignored it.

"Hey, hey, hey! I was after a little reassurance there, man, not a Taxonomy of Blairstinks!" He was running his nose over the back of his hand, and then he turned his hand and touched his face. "Jeez, I need a shave again already." He ran his fingers over the back of his other hand, then up his arm.

"Can I ..." Blair reached over, fumbling, until his hand reached Jim. "Whoa. Esau was a hairy man, but Jacob was a smooth man." He ran his fingertips down Jim's arm. Jim closed his eyes, then opened them again, glad Blair couldn't see his face. "You do have hair. Just, um, softer, finer than mine. Wow, skin is warmer than I remembered it being." His fingers mapped Jim's wristbones, then slid over the back of his hand and down his fingers. "How long has it been since you wore a wedding ring?"

"Years. You can still feel a difference?"

"Yeah. This finger isn't quite shaped the way the others are. It's narrower. Has a little less give to it. What was your ring like?"

"Wide. Plain." Blair was still tracing around the base of Jim's ring finger. Jim brought up his other hand and brushed across Blair's knuckles. "I liked it."

"Lots of cops don't wear them."

"Yeah, lot of guys say they feel funny. It didn't to me, not once I got used to it. I liked the way it looked."

"I wear rings sometimes," Blair said. "But I pretty much always know they're there. Earrings I don't feel at all most of the time."

"How about the bracelets?" Jim turned his hand under Blair's and touched the leather thong around his wrist, carefully not thinking about the fact that he and Blair were holding hands.

"Not most of the time. I have one with beads on it, and I had to stop wearing it because it, like, distracted me all the time. But the leather ones and the cloth ones, I really don't feel them much." Blair thought about that. "Except sometimes they get wet when I wash my hands, and then I'll really feel them until they dry." There was a pause.

"Can I ..." He lifted Jim's hand and pressed it clumsily to his face, fingertips in his hair, his mouth against the base of Jim's thumb. "You smell like hand soap. And, um, onions, a little bit."

Jim shifted a little closer on the couch and moved his fingertips until they brushed the blindfold. "I haven't touched an onion since, ah, Thursday. No, Wednesday." The momentary contact with the rough knit made his fingers tingle.

Blair scooted even closer, turned his nose into Jim's wrist. "I think I can smell that you've been outside, too." He let go of Jim's hand, which dropped to his shoulder, and reached for Jim's face. "Can I ..." He brushed his fingers down the center of Jim's face: forehead, nose, mouth, chin. Jim closed his eyes again, letting himself savor the contact.

Blair was rubbing his fingers back and forth across Jim's chin. "Why is it," he said, "that I have stubble already and you don't?"

"Why is it that I'm going bald and you're not?" Jim said without opening his eyes. "You won the hair lottery and I didn't. I have no idea."

"Your voice --" Blair said, and then fell silent. He moved his fingers slowly up Jim's cheek, then brushed, very delicately, across his eyelashes. "I can feel your eye moving." He rested two fingers at the outer corner of Jim's eye. "Your skin is warmer here than the rest of your face."

Not thinking was working out pretty well for him so far. Jim blanked his mind, slid his hand up Blair's shoulder, and very slowly bent closer, and brushed his mouth across Blair's. Then he did it again, even more slowly.

Blair's breathing deepened, and he began to move his mouth against Jim's, keeping the contact light, until Jim pulled back a little bit. "Blair?" he said softly. "Is it OK?"

"Yeah, yes, oh god, please, Jim," Blair said, and pulled Jim's head closer and kissed him in earnest, running his tongue over Jim's lips before dipping inside his mouth.

His hand pushed over Jim's hair to rest on the back of his neck, and he brought his other hand up from the back of the couch and into the middle of their kiss, fingers moving over Jim's lips and into his mouth. Jim broke off, panting a little, but Blair's fingers continued moving.

"Your mouth is hot," he whispered, and then shuddered as Jim sucked at his finger. "Ah, god, Jim. Kiss me again."

Jim moved until their lips were touching, then said softly against Blair's mouth, "What do you feel?"

Blair kissed him quickly, deep, then shallow. "Your teeth are smooth," he murmured, "and your lips are softer than I thought they'd be." He licked at Jim's lips again and wrapped his arm around Jim's shoulder. "Come closer."

Jim pressed his body against Blair's, and Blair turned his face into Jim's neck. The blindfold was rough against Jim's skin.

"Smell good," Blair said, and then put out his tongue and delicately tasted Jim's skin, making Jim shiver. "Taste good, too."

"How --" and Jim broke off with a gasp as Blair's tongue moved along his neck and down his throat -- "how do I taste?"

"Good. I don't know. Like you."

Blair bit him gently, and Jim heard himself let out a soft moan. Then Blair moved his face further down, rubbing it against the front of Jim's chambray shirt. "I can smell that you ironed this shirt, you freak," he said softly. He tugged on a button with his teeth, then turned his face and nuzzled until he found a nipple. "Whoa," he said. "It comes out to meet me. X marks the spot." He sucked gently through the shirt, then moved across Jim's chest to the other side.

Jim looked down and saw the dark spot where Blair's mouth had wet the cotton. "Blair," he said thickly.

"Mmm," Blair said against the other nipple. "Don't make me stop."

"Blair," Jim said again. "Come upstairs with me."

Blair's hands fisted into Jim's shirt, and he pressed his face against Jim's chest. "Yeah, OK." He sat up a bit and moved his hands to the blindfold.

Jim's hands, which had been on his shoulders, slid down to grasp his upper arms. "No. Don't take it off. I won't let you trip." He pulled Blair up to stand beside him and wrapped an arm around Blair's shoulder, and Blair turned his head and kissed Jim's fingers, then licked them. Jim slid them along Blair's arm until they were out of reach of his mouth. "Move," he said huskily, and guided Blair into a slow walk. "OK, stairs now."

They couldn't go up the stairs side by side, so Jim moved ahead of Blair and placed both Blair's hands on his arm. "If you came up here a lot, your feet would know how many stairs there are. Top now, turn right, follow me. OK, stop."

And then he just stood there, watching Blair mount the top step and turn toward him. But Blair didn't stop. He kept walking until he bumped into Jim, and then he walked them both over until the bed struck the backs of Jim's knees and Jim sat. Blair pushed, and Jim went over on his back with his feet still on the floor, and Blair draped himself over Jim's body. Jim's arms came up around him.

"God," Blair sighed as their hips came into alignment. He pressed his face to Jim's neck again and breathed deeply.

"What --" Jim broke off as he felt Blair's fingers on the first button of his shirt. He cleared his throat. "What do you feel now?"

"You," Blair said against his throat, and he stilled his downward motion. "I can feel your heart beat through your chest," he said. "I can feel your chest move when you breathe. Fast, you're breathing fast. And your body heat, under me." He moved his hips a bit and Jim caught his breath. "Hard," said Blair, "you're so hard, Jim, I love that." He pushed himself up, straddling Jim, undoing the rest of the buttons and spreading the sides of Jim's shirt.

Jim pushed himself up onto the bed, Blair following, then reached out and snagged a pillow. As he raised his head and shoulders to put it behind him, Blair's hands went to his tightening stomach. "Oh my god," Blair said. "The muscles -- moving under the skin -- " and he moved off Jim and to the side so that he could put his face where his hands had been. Jim watched Blair's lips move over his belly, then gasped as Blair's tongue made a small circle around his navel.

"You smell different now," Blair murmured against his skin. "I'd know you now, Jim, I'd know your smell anywhere."

"I know yours," Jim gasped, bringing his hands down to cup Blair's face as Blair moved his tongue along the waistband of Jim's khakis. "Stop a minute. I want to try something."

Blair stopped moving, but he didn't raise his head. "Try what?"

"Lie down for me," Jim said. "Take your shirt off."

Blair did. Jim looked at him for a long time, and then held his hand an inch or so above Blair's mouth. "Can you feel that?"

"Yeahhh. My breath comes back to me off your hand. Yeah." It trailed off into a sigh as Jim began to move his hand, molding Blair's throat and chest, never touching his skin.

"Never knew hair was a sense organ," Blair said breathlessly. "Jim, man, touch me, come on, touch -- oh, that feels so sweet," as Jim's hand came down very lightly on his ribs, just below the nipple, and smoothed down his side to the waistband of his jeans and back up, barely touching. Over his belly, up the center of his chest, then the fingertips of both hands skimming his collarbone. Blair tilted his head back and Jim brushed up over the sides of his neck, traced over his ears -- then rolled suddenly on top of him.

"Ah!" Blair's voice was loud in the silence of the room. Jim lay still, pressing them together from chest to groin, knees on either side of Blair's hips, as Blair panted, "God -- oh god that's so ... " Jim smoothed his thumbs over Blair's cheekbones, brushing the tie.

"Jim," Blair sighed at last. "I almost -- just from that --" Then he pushed at where Jim's arms were supporting his weight, pausing to stroke over the curves of muscle, dip his fingers into the hollows at Jim's shoulder. "Come on, man, let go, I want all of you, you won't smoosh me," and Jim slid one arm under Blair's shoulders and cupped the back of his head with the other hand and kissed him and kissed him.

"God," Blair said, pulling his head loose, "our mouths make noise, I never knew -- I can hear my own jeans --" He smoothed his hand over Jim's back and down over his khakis. "Cloth's rough, I can feel the stitching, feel how much less body heat comes through where the pockets are." He pressed a little harder. "Bet I can guess .. boxers."

Jim drew a hissing breath: Blair's fingers were rubbing the crease where thigh met buttock. "Don't want to spoil the surprise," he said hoarsely.

"Ohhh," Blair said, voice low. "I can feel you ... "

Too much, it was too much. Blair gave a sigh of regret, almost comical, when Jim pulled back. Jim grinned, even though Blair couldn't see him, and reached over to run a hand over Blair's chest.

Blair twitched, like he was trying to roll over and find Jim, but Jim placed a palm in the middle of his chest. "Let me ... " he said softly.

Amazingly, Blair seemed to get it; he took a deep breath and lay still. Jim reached a hand over and held it, hovering, over Blair's pierced nipple. No reaction, so he moved it slightly closer. Bingo: Blair inhaled hard.

The lightest touch of a finger, and Blair gasped.

Tiny strokes, and Blair was breathing hard. But that wasn't quite enough, so Jim moved so he could paint the nipple with licks. Blair moaned, and Jim's dick twitched in response.

The careful use of teeth resulted in Blair letting out a steady stream of moans, his chest lightly sheened in sweat. Jim pulled back and looked at what he'd done, and saw that it was good. And saw how to make it even better: bending to mouth Blair's dick through his jeans.

"Jim!" Blair had never said his name with such urgency, not even at gunpoint.

Jim pulled back an inch. "What do you feel?"

"Heat," Blair murmured. Jim kept breathing and Blair shifted, restless.

Jim popped the top button and Blair gasped. After buttons two, three, four, and five, the jeans pulled away enough to expose a triangle of cotton boxers. Jim tried breathing through those and Blair nearly wailed.

Jim pulled back.

"What?" Blair sounded almost petulant. "Why'd you --"

"What do you feel," Jim repeated.

Blair released a breath. "Cold, damp, air currents, the complete lack of your mouth," and Jim grinned and put his mouth back where it had been, and Blair sighed, then hastily kept talking. "Oh, God, hot, Jim, so hot ... "

Jim moved back slightly and blew a stream of air over the damp cotton. Blair's body jolted. "Air, air, air," he chanted.

His nipples were still alert, and Jim amused himself by reaching up to tease each one, to rub his fingers lightly over the silver ring, and Blair moaned again. "Can ... feel it ... all the way up my arms," he managed. His voice sounded strained.

"And this?" Jim asked, rhetorically, reaching into the gap in Blair's boxers to slip Blair's dick into his mouth.

Amazingly, after having talked and moaned almost continually for at least fifteen minutes, Blair had no words for his orgasm, just a breathy gasp.

Jim rested his head on Blair's thighs for a second, his mouth tingling as if he'd swallowed sea water. After a moment he moved up the bed to lie beside Blair, who ripped the blindfold off, then winced his eyes shut and moved down Jim's body. In the next ten seconds Jim's khakis were unfastened and yanked down and Blair's hand was squirming through Jim's boxer briefs to press at the base of Jim's dick.

Listening to Blair vocalize his pleasure had been its own kind of tease; Jim managed only two or three short thrusts into Blair's hand before coming, helplessly, all over himself. He closed his eyes, body vibrating like a tuning fork. Blair rolled away. Jim floated.

Some minutes later Blair said "Holy shit."

Consciousness slammed back into Jim's brain. Suddenly his unfastened khakis and unbuttoned shirt felt more naked than nudity. He made himself look over at Blair, who had raised his head and was laying it gingerly back against the pillow.

"Jesus, Jim, what did you do to me?" He was twitching, shaking back his shoulders. "I can feel every hair in my head, man, I can feel the air currents moving them around. Now I know why you keep yours so short."

"Sandburg, I'm sorry."

"Hey, no, it was so worth it." Blair pushed up and turned toward Jim with a warm smile, which quickly changed to a frown. Jim lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, carefully not looking at Blair. "Jim?"

"Shit." Jim finally met his eyes. "I am so sorry. Look, I didn't mean - " He swallowed and squared his shoulders as well as he could lying on his back. He felt cold at the pit of his stomach. "I never meant to take advantage of you."

"Take advantage?" Blair sat up. "You can't be serious."

Jim flinched. "Yeah, OK," he said, "I might as well have gotten you drunk and jumped you."

"What does --" Blair stopped in mid-sentence. Then, softly, "Jim, you're thinking this never crossed my mind until you ambushed me while I was under the influence of sensory meditation?"

Jim nodded.

"Jim." Blair moved a little closer. "Look at me. Come on, man, I'm not mad. Look at me."

Jim raised his eyes.

"I have --" Blair swallowed and said very clearly, "I have wanted this since 1997."

Jim blinked.

Blair grinned at him, apparently aware that the moment of crisis had passed. "I mean it. I've been trying to figure out a way to get us here for ever, man, though I have to admit none of my scenarios ever involved a blindfold and a book of poetry. Jim, man, say something. You look like somebody just punched you in the gut."

Jim finally let out a breath. "You mean it?"

Blair looked at him like he was speaking Swahili. "Of course I mean it. Why wouldn't I mean it?"

At a loss for words, Jim just looked away. Blair kicked off his jeans and lay back down, pushing right into Jim's personal space, almost but not quite touching. Jim felt their proximity spark along his torso.

"Jesus, Jim," Blair said, "you're really telling me you didn't know?"

"How would I have known?"

"How would you have ... are you blind? Some days you're in the room and I'll catch myself starting to, like, lean, you know, like one of those windowsill plants -- I mean, what was I supposed to do, write a note that said Check Yes or No?"

"You could have. I don't see you being shy about approaching anybody else," Jim said, almost angrily. "And don't tell me you were afraid I'd say no, Sandburg. You're the one who challenged Judge Susan Delacorte to a game of strip poker."

"Yeah, OK, the odds were not in my favor, I admit it, but if she'd said yes! Man, what a rush that would have been!" Blair grinned happily and pushed his face into Jim's chest, making a small contented hum.

"My point," Jim went on doggedly, "is that this is not the behavior of someone who fears rejection."

"Naw," Blair said, pulling away and propping himself up on a folded arm. "I wasn't afraid you'd say no. I was afraid you'd say yes."

Jim frowned at him.

"No, really, think about it, man. What's the pattern of our whole entire life together? It's me going, 'Come on, Jim, just try it,' and you going, 'Oh, all right, Sandburg, just to shut you up' --" and Blair's imitation was so on-target that Jim had to smile -- "and then you try the, whatever, red bean ice cream or raspberry lambic or medieval polyphony or socks that aren't white --" Jim snorted -- "and do this grudging 'Whaddaya know, not bad, Sandburg,' thing, and then go back to what you were doing before. Right?"

Without waiting for an answer, he went on, gathering speed: "And you know, man, if it's, like, genmaicha tea, I'm like, OK, fine, at least I widened Jim's horizons a little. But if we're talking about going to bed with me as another one of those things that you'll try once to get me off your back, I gotta tell you, Jim, that would have sucked."

There was a pause. I ought to say something, Jim thought. I really ought to have an answer to that other than a big stupid grin. But ... he said he meant it.

Blair elbowed him in the ribs. "Jim."


"This is where you're supposed to tell me you're not just trying this once to get me off your back, man." The smile came through in the timbre of Blair's voice.

"Yeah, yadda, yadda," Jim said, trying to sound absent but failing. He curled to the side to wrap himself around Blair.

After some minutes Blair pulled away and squirmed out of his boxers. Jim shoved his own sticky pants off, let them drop to the floor, and settled back in to twining himself with Blair. So many patches of skin to feel: hair here, softness there.

"We oughta get up and make some dinner," Blair said presently.


After a while Jim felt Blair's mouth curve against his chest.


"'What is Happiness, anyhow? Is this one of its hours -- so impalpable -- a mere breath, an evanescent tinge?'"

Jim found himself grinning in reply. Impalpable, my ass, he thought. "So you happy now? You've figured out what the poets have that you don't have?"

"Not a damned thing."


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February 13, 2002