This story is rated NC-17 (adults only). It includes explicit male/male sex. If this is what you came for, scroll down. If it isn't, hit the Back button.




















by Resonant

I used to have test anxiety. Now I have calisthenics anxiety. Big fucking improvement.

At the ungodly hour of six-thirty in the morning, these days, I've gotta be ready to run windsprints in the rain, and do jumping jacks, and a bunch of other stuff that reasonable people are done with when they leave junior high. The brain doesn't have to report for duty until after lunch, but the body has to be up and rarin' to go, and if I show up even thirty seconds late, I get that look that says, We're cutting you some slack on the hair, weirdo, so don't push it.

Stay in school too long and you learn really lousy sleeping habits. I had years and years to get used to spending a half-hour every morning communing with my snooze button, so of course when I know I have to get up early I sleep like shit, wake up every couple of hours thinking, Oh, god, I'm late, which doesn't really do my physical fitness efforts any good.

Jim's just lurking around waiting for me to ask for help, but it would be way humiliating to have to have my roommate get up early every morning just to give me a wake-up call. I'm gonna have to give in and do it, though, unless Plan B works.

Plan B: the Sunrise Clock.

It's the weirdest looking alarm clock I've ever seen -- and let me add that an anthropologist is no stranger to odd timepieces. This one looks a little like that pyramid and eye thing on the dollar bill, and it's supposed to wake me up with gradually increasing light, which the catalog claimed is the natural way to start your day off. Although I continue to maintain that it is deeply unnatural to expect somebody to wake up while it's still dark outside, no matter how you do it.

Anyway, natural or not, it had better work, or I'm gonna have no choice but to use the Jim Alarm.

Something's different.

One minute I'm sound asleep and the next I'm in full flight reflex: heart pounding, muscles tense, every sense wide open.

Sandburg awake? No. Breathing's deep and even, heartbeat's slow, body temp's low. Not a threat, then. Just an oddity.

The light. The light is different. I sit up and look over the rail. Yep. There's a faint, faint light coming from Sandburg's room. Five-fifteen. Too early even for him.

It's always like driving into a tunnel when the senses tick back down to normal after a full-open scare, the way the light dims and the sounds go muffled. I'm still curious, though. What would light up Sandburg's room while he's asleep?

Instinctively I grab for where my robe ought to be but hasn't been since August -- my small daily irritation. Going to have to get that back from him one of these days.

I have to walk right up to the door before I can see where the light's coming from: a pyramid-shaped thing on the nightstand, topped by a round, glowing bulb. Lamp? Ah -- there's a clock in the base. Some sort of light on a timer. It's dim as moonlight now, but gradually getting brighter.

It touches the sleeping figure so faintly that I have to dial up to see him clearly in his nest of blankets, sheets, and pillows.

Normally Sandburg's an active sleeper -- a thrashing, squirming, pillow-flipping sleeper. And vocal, of course. I could mark his sleep cycles by the regular rhythm of silence-squirming-murmuring-silence.

I hear my name a lot. I hear it in all the four hundred tones of voice that he uses every day. Impatience, eagerness: let's get going, Jim. Placation: all right, calm down, Jim. Status check: just making sure you're there, Jim. At first it unnerved me. Now I find it comforting that I'm important enough to show up so often in his sleep.

He's not talking now, though. Not moving. Just breathing. Cheeks flushed, jaw darkened by stubble, mouth slightly open, face soft with sleep. Hair woolly from a night's friction against the pillowcase. One arm clutching a pillow under his chest and face, the other dangling over the bed. Terrifyingly vulnerable. Heartstoppingly beautiful.

Something surges up in my belly that's not entirely protective.

Sleep mellows Sandburg's scent, and the layers of blankets capture it, and the warmth intensifies it. Laundry detergent and shampoo, food and toothpaste. Underneath them all, I can catch a bit of his own fragrance, like peaches and sandalwood and the dark damp solitude you sometimes find under a low-growing evergreen tree. His pillow would hold a lingering trace of his scent, but the sweetest concentration of it would be on the side of his neck, right below his ear, and if I lifted up his hair and pressed my nose there ...

I'm already swaying forward, one hand on the doorframe.

What the fuck am I doing?

The light's still brightening, and Sandburg's body is changing as he comes up into a shallower level of sleep, heartbeat speeding slightly, small muscle movements beginning, and I'm standing in his doorway sniffing --



Sandburg'll be up any minute. I'll make some coffee.

The sunrise clock is pretty cool. I mean, it doesn't make waking up in any way painless -- I don't think anything short of a personality transplant could do that -- but I think it makes it a little easier.

I may be having a better morning than usual, but I sure can't say the same for Jim. Poor guy's standing there with a coffee pot full of water in his hand, staring at it like it just grew a tail. I don't even know what he's doing up in the first place ...

Oh shit. Yes I do.

"Uh, Jim?"

There's this, like, two-second delay, it's like a bad international phone call. And once he looks up I swear to god he looks right through me for a minute before he finally focuses on me. "Yeah?"

"Um, the reason you're awake, is it by any chance because you saw a, uh, mysterious light in my room?" Oh, man, am I ever fucked. I'll be lucky if I ever get off dishwashing duty for this one.

But after that same weird pause, he says, "Yeah." And that's it.

"Oh, god, Jim, I'm sorry, that really sucks, man, I know you were working late and you need your sleep, it's just that I was having all this trouble waking up and I got this new clock and --"

And I'm halfway through explaining circadian rhythms to him when I realize: He's not listening to a word I say. And it's not because he's plotting revenge, either -- he's staring at one of my shoulders like his fortune is written there.

Still holding that damned coffee pot.

"Uh ... Jim?"

"Yeah?" His eyes come vaguely back to mine.

"Maybe I ought to make the coffee." I take the pot out of his hand. "You're in no condition to operate heavy machinery."

"Yeah, OK." Shit. He's being cooperative. Now I'm really worried. Sleep deprivation is not pretty.

My carob bar is half eaten before he even moves from the coffee maker. I wish I could hang around until I'm sure he's gonna be OK.

"Jim? Are you gonna go to work like this?" He nods. Yeah, of course he is, he could get run over by a truck and not miss a shift. "Well, just remember: The badge goes on you, the cuffs go on the other guy." Not even a smile.

"Shit. I'm sorry, man, this really messed up your mind." I'm trying to apologize and shoulder my gym bag and put up my hair all at the same time. "Look, don't worry about dinner tonight, OK? I get home at three and I'll make us a nice risotto or something."

"Thanks, Blair," he murmurs, and he gives my ponytail a tug.

"Least I can do," I say as I swing out the door, and then --

Blair? He's calling me Blair?

What the hell was that?

Even through the scent of the coffee I can still smell him. My hands shake a little as I pull out a mug.

Jesus. One minute I'm going, Aww, they're so innocent when they're sleeping. The next minute I've got my hand on the door, I'm ready to -- and my body is --- jesus.

What the hell was that?

I mean, OK, I've never quite reacted to Sandburg the way I react to anybody else. He's always been in his own category.

He got under my guard from day one. He's small, he's young, I guess he got a bit of my kid reaction at first. By the time I realized how badly I'd been underestimating him, it was too late to get that distance back.

Protective, yeah. But it wasn't long before I figured out that as much as I was protecting him, he was protecting me just as much. Maybe more.

And the guy is damned cuddly, isn't he? That's another thing I didn't notice until it was too late to change it. The way I seem to have a hand on him all the time. Just friendly, of course. But you won't catch me doing that with anybody else.

But cuddly is one thing. Wanting to crawl up to your sleeping roommate and sniff his neck -- that's something else again.

What the hell was that?

When I was in high school, I once had a night job mopping floors at the Mega Discount. Push a mop along a white tile floor for four hours at a stretch, and man, your brain goes some strange places.

Running laps is like that, too.

So while my feet are going round and round the soggy grass, my brain is going round and round that weird-out scene at the coffee pot this morning.

What a strange thing, him calling me Blair. He does it sometimes, sure, but never when I've just robbed him of several hours of much-needed sleep.

There was something off about the hair thing, too, but I can't put my finger on it. Not like it's unusual for him to put his hands in my hair -- he ruffles it all the time. I always want to say "Woof" when he does that.

Matter of fact, sometimes he treats me like a big old dog. Certainly doesn't treat me the way he treats the other guys.

I mean, watch Jim with Simon. Friendship, respect, yeah, but they're proud, too, dignified with each other. The whole relationship is there in the posture, you know?

Now watch him with me. The guy thinks I'm a fucking puppy.

Not that I mind. I mean, I've long since figured out that we're gonna take a nice ride on Satan's sled before that touchy-feely thing we've got going makes any kind of leap beyond friendship. Which is cool, I'm cool with it, I didn't get to be the basically happy and adaptable kind of guy I am by trying to fight nature.

Better he should see me as a golden retriever than as one more guy he's gotta have a manly friendship with. I don't do manly friendship. I don't do relationships with that many boundaries. Life's way too short.

But Jim Ellison's best friend, partner, and semi-housebroken mutt -- that's a relationship that's worth the time.

No matter what I try to focus on, I keep going over it in my head. Did something change in that moment when I stood in the doorway watching my roommate sleep? Or had I had this ... thing in me all my life, right below the surface, waiting for me to lower my guard?

All right, Ellison, look it in the eye. It's not a marauding great white shark. It's just your libido, which apparently isn't quite as focused as you thought.

By ten I'm aware Simon's watching me. By one he's seen enough to decide I'm useless as far as work goes.

"You look like shit," he says bluntly, sitting on the edge of my desk. "You sick or something?"

"I don't know, Simon. I'm just ... not tracking." I wave my hand vaguely at the pile of stuff from Research that I've been trying to make sense of all day.

"Anybody else, I'd guess you were hung over. Is it ..." He's trying to ask whether the problems I'm having are Sentinel-related. I wonder about that, actually. It's not pleasant to imagine that something that seems so ... personal, so deep, could just be the tribe trying to protect itself. The tribe got into my head without my consent. It can damn well stay out of my pants.

On the other hand, every time a woman raises my pulse, you could say that's just the species demanding that I do my part. So, yeah, that's some gentle genetic prodding going on there, but it doesn't suddenly make all my relationships with women into puppet shows.

The difference is that there are thousands of women in town, and only one Guide.

Only one.

"Look, Jim, sick or not, you're no use to me like this. Just go on home, get some sleep."

"But I ..."

"Jim." There's no arguing with that tone.

What can I do? I go home. But once I get there, I can't do anything. I can't read. I can't eat. I can't watch TV. I can't keep my imagination away from Sandburg's door.

Might as well look it in the eye. So I go over to where I stood this morning, and I try to follow this image wherever it will take me.

This isn't a place I've ever consciously kept my brain out of, but I find there's an invisible barrier. It takes an effort of will to let it down and let myself imagine it. I close my eyes and see him again: lying on his stomach, turned toward me, left arm wrapped around the pillow that supports him, right hand hanging off the bed. That weird lamp-clock-thing casts a warm glow on his face and hair. In my mind I'm walking in, kneeling by the bed. I push back his hair and bury my face in his neck.

His smell here is so warm and strong, so unmistakably Blair, that it makes my mouth water. He stirs a bit but doesn't wake. I rub my cheek against his, and then I take down another invisible barrier, and I kiss his sleeping mouth. His lips are warm, soft, a little chapped; I'm dialed up so far I can feel his pulse in them. My own heart is pounding.

He's thrown the sheet off and his tan T-shirt has ridden up, showing an inch or so of bare back and side. I run my fingers over his skin, then slip my hand under the T-shirt and slide it over his back, which is smooth and nicely muscled and faintly damp with sleep-sweat. He smiles a little, and I lean over and place a soft, lingering kiss on his side.

When I come back to myself, I find I've got a white-knuckle grip on the doorframe. I'm breathless, and I'm hard, and I'm scared as hell, but I'm also strangely exhilarated. It feels like a dive into deep water.

From the doorway I can get a bit of his scent still lingering in the sheets. I open up smell a little and it gets stronger, more three-dimensional. I can pick up separate scents for each part of the bed, traces of his hair, his face, his body. I open up touch, too. It's been hours since I watched him lying here, but I still think I can feel a trace of warmth in the bed.

If I were really kneeling over there, his skin would be warm against my fingertips. Even warmer when he started waking up. I imagine it now, the way his pulse would speed up under my hand where it lies on the small of his back.

The muscles there tense a little as he raises his head, and sees me, and sighs. And sighs. My name.

I've heard that tone. I've heard him say my name in just that tone. In his sleep.

Oh my god.

And in my vision I pounce, there isn't any other word for it, I'm on top of him and his arms are coming up around me and I'm licking his neck, biting his jaw, my hands going under his T-shirt and gathering him up, and he's saying it again, Jim, Jim, oh, and the next thing I'm aware of is my knees hitting the floor in Blair's doorway just as a key turns in the front door.

"Jim, what the heck ...?"

I turn numbly to look at him. His sweats have a rip right above his left knee, exposing a little triangle of dark hair and golden skin, and I imagine pressing my mouth there, moving it up over the fleece ...

"You OK, man?"

I know that tone, too. Concern, not entirely unmixed with curiosity. Nothing is ever entirely unmixed with curiosity. I hope like hell that he can be curious about what's going on with me now. If he's angry or disgusted I don't think I can bear it. And I don't know how I'm going to tell him, but I couldn't lie to him about it now if my life depended on it.

I won't tell you I've never pictured Jim Ellison on his knees, but the reality of it makes me really, really tense. I mean, setting aside the weirdness of it, which I'm sure I'm going to get an explanation for in a minute, there's also something unpleasantly submissive about it. In my fantasies I'm seeing pleasure laying a strong man bare. This looks uncomfortably like fear bringing a strong man low.

"You zone or something?" Jeez, I hope that's all it is. If it's a Sentinel thing, I can fake my way through it like I always do, because false confidence is better than none, right? But he's shaking his head. No zone.

"Are you hurt? You're really scaring me here, man." He's still got his work pants on. He's on his knees in his khakis and shirtsleeves in the open door to my room, and there's confusion on his face, and fear, and a kind of desperate resolve.

"Blair," he says, and there's something in his voice, and I think, oh god, somebody died, and before I can get my conscious mind in action I've crossed the room, slinging the duffel bag on the couch as I pass, and sunk to my knees beside him, and wrapped him up in my arms.

God, he's shaking, it must be bad, and I'm whispering, "sh, sh, it's OK," all the kind of shit you whisper when what you mean is, I'm here, you're not alone. His arms go around me and his hands knot in the back of my T-shirt and he says, "sorry, I'm sorry, I just --"

And then he's kissing me.

I'm frozen for a moment by the sheer shock of it, and by the time that wears off I'm frozen in concentration because it feels so good. His lips are hot on mine and he's breathing like he just ran five miles and he's kneeling up, pulling me up, to press our bodies together, and oh shit he's hard, oh my god I had no idea, and the thought just goes through me like water and everything washes away but his mouth and his hands and his hot strong body against mine.

But then he's letting go, he's pulling away, pushing back against my arms around him, and I realize I've been focusing so hard on what I feel that I wasn't kissing him back.

"Sorry, I'm sorry," he says again, miserably, and he looks down and to the side, not meeting my eyes. "I was gonna tell you, I didn't mean to show you ..." I don't know what to say. I don't know how to react because he's not giving me any clue about how he feels, other than the obvious.

He's knelt back on his heels, and one of my knees has somehow gotten pressed between his thighs. I can still feel him trembling.

He's fighting some kind of serious inner battle here, and I ought to give him some space, help him out, but all I can think is, Oh, god, he wants me. Maybe he doesn't want to want me, but he does.

Say yes to it, Jim. Please say yes.

Weak, weak. I lost control the minute he touched me. Damn, Ellison, maul the guy, why don't you.

I was going to tell him. We were going to talk about it. But when he came into my arms it was so right, like the whole universe sighing Yes, and right away I was all over him like a drunken prom date.

He's saying my name now, softly. Processing, sorting data. That lightning-quick brain of his is testing one hypothesis after another until he hits on something that sounds like the truth to him. It's like ice in my belly to watch him. That's my whole fate he's deciding on.

And then I feel his hand on my face and I hear my name again, and oh my god. Joyful certainty. The path has been made clear to him.

And "Yes," he says, and he kisses me.

Really kisses me. Puts his whole heart into it, as if he could pour his certainty into me, lip to lip. The intensity of his focus gradually slows the kiss until somehow we move into another rhythm altogether: hot, and slow, and sweet. The soft wet sound of our mouths as they meet is enough to take my breath away.

We really ought to discuss this. I've put a whole day's worth of thinking into this, and he's had about a minute and a half to get used to it. We ought to talk.

But he said yes.

Jim. You gotta slow down, man, it's not a race. It's not like I'm gonna turn into a pumpkin if you haven't licked every square centimeter of my mouth in the next thirty seconds. Slow. Yeah.

Oh yeah.

Kisses talk, and all I want, heart and soul, is for this one to say Yes. And after a moment he relaxes in my arms and I feel that Sentinel concentration turned on me, on my mouth and my tongue and my teeth, and it's overwhelming. I pull us both up to our knees again and press against him, thigh to chest. I can feel his heart pounding.

His hands come up and gently grip my upper arms, and we kiss like ... well, like what we are, which is two people who have wasted four fucking years doing everything except kissing, and now have lots of catching up to do. His mouth is warmer than mine, and every now and then a little sound escapes him.

I stroke his face, his neck, his hair, his ears, and he sighs into the kiss. His hands rest on my arms, unmoving. As I touch him, a little desperation comes back into the kiss, but his hands stay still, though they clutch a little tighter.

Then I understand. He needs permission.

I smile a little against his mouth. Oh yeah. I can do that. If words are what he needs, words I can definitely give him.

"Jim," I sigh into his mouth, and he shudders and rests his head on my shoulder. I put my lips against his ear and whisper, "I want you."

I feel his gasp against the side of my neck.

"Wanted you for so long," I say, and run my tongue along the outer rim of his ear. "So long, thinking about this, how you would taste, how you would feel --"

And I'm on my back so fast it makes my head spin.

" -- want your mouth on me, want you to taste me," he's sighing as I lower us to the floor, and this is a tone I've never heard, breathy and hoarse. I close my eyes as a wave of desire washes over me. "Want your skin on mine, Jim, want to be naked with you," and he's going to talk to me till I come if I don't stop him now. I push his T-shirt up and go right for his nipple, and the words trail off into a hiss of pleasure.

He doesn't wear the ring any more, and the hole is probably closing up, but the pierced nipple stands up most of the time anyway. I noticed that months ago when he wore a shirt that was a little tighter than usual. At the time, all it inspired in me was mild curiosity. Now I think about how that side must be more sensitive and it makes me crazy, and I swipe over it once, wetly, and then run teasing licks all around the outer edge of the aureole before I take the nipple, very gently, between my teeth.

"Jim!" His shoulders come up off the floor for a second, and he grabs my head to stop it from moving. "Oh, yeah, Jim, more of that, please, please, please ..."

There's a little catch in his voice. It's the sexiest thing I've ever heard. I want to lie here on the floor with him for the rest of my life, doing things to make him sound like that.

I push up on my elbow to look at his face. He's flushed, breathing hard, watching me through half-closed eyes, lips curved in an almost-smile. His T-shirt is rucked up under his arms and his sweats are riding low on his hips, showing a half-inch of white elastic underneath.

He's so turned on he's made a wet spot on the gray fleece.

I trail my fingertips down the center of his chest, over his navel, and then press the flat of my hand against his cock, hard.

He draws a strangled gasp, and his hips jerk, and under my palm his cock jumps. And one more time he whispers, "Yes."

Oh god. I'm really going to do this. He's really going to let me do this. Twenty-four hours ago I thought the only Jockeys I'd ever touch would be my own, and now the hard length of Blair Sandburg's cock is hot against my hand, like a brand.

Marking me forever.

He isn't moving. Why isn't he moving? Oh, jeez, I don't think I can stand it if he doesn't move.

I don't remember closing my eyes, but when I open them, Jim isn't looking at my face. His eyes are on his own hand, which is pressed flat against the hardest hard-on that has ever inhabited these particular sweatpants. And he looks like somebody just told him he could fly.

Holy shit. He's never done this before.

Holy shit. He's going to let me be the first.

"Jim," I whisper.

He doesn't exactly turn to look at my face. It's more like he drags his reluctant eyes away from my cock under his hand, over my belly and chest and neck and mouth, and I feel his gaze like a hand sweeping over my body, until our eyes lock.

I guess he sees in my face that I know, and he smiles a little bit, just one corner of his mouth lifting. "I do know how," he says.

I'm all set to say something reassuring, but what comes out of my mouth is, "Prove it."

That little smartass. Next thing you know he'll be double-dog-daring me.

I kind of feel like I'm on a dare. There's a thrill of the forbidden about this: breathing hard, grinning madly, sprawled on the floor in a doorway with my hand on another man's cock.

But safe too. It's perfectly safe. It's Blair.

I hate to move my hand. It feels so at home there. But I stroke up his belly and then back down, working my hand under two layers of cotton knit, to touch his bare skin for the first time.

Blair's cock feels ... alive. It moves under my hand, of its own accord. It's hot, silky-smooth, wet. I explore it with my fingertips, spreading moisture down the shaft, and I can feel him trying not to pant, trying not to thrust, holding back to let me take this at my own pace. When I need time to take something in, he always knows.

"I want to see it."

Is that my voice? I sound like I've been screaming. Under my fingers his cock gives a little leap. The hands that come up to push down his sweats and briefs are shaking.

He uses his feet to work them down off his legs, pushing his sneakers off at the same time. One sock comes off, and then I start to move my hand and he freezes in the middle of toeing the other sock off and lets out a groan that sounds like it came from the center of the earth.

I want to look everywhere at once. At his cock, red-brown and slick, appearing and disappearing from the circle of my fingers. At his hands, scrabbling along the bare floor before coming up to clutch into fists on his belly. At his strong, sturdy legs with that one ridiculous white sock, at the sweet hollows of his hips, at the flat nipple and the pointed nipple. At his mouth, slack with pleasure, moving in words too soft even for Sentinel hearing.

At his eyes, watching me with a fathomless tenderness.

Oh god.


Oh god. Jim.

It's so incredible to watch him do this, watch him discover it all. His eyes are skating over my body hungrily, and when they turn up to meet mine his expression is so filled with longing that it nearly breaks my heart. He looks like he still can't believe I really want this from him.

It feels like I'll never want anything else from anyone.

He's moving his hand a little faster, pumping, and his touch is surer now that he's had a chance to explore. I push my hips up and he tightens his fist and I moan, helplessly, and then I see what that does to his face and it makes me moan again.

I feel it start to build, and I wish I could stretch this out, make it last longer. I want more of his hand on me, his eyes on me.

I wonder if he'll ever want to do it again.

I put one hand on his forearm, feeling the muscles there as he tightens his fingers even more. He's not worried about hurting me. He knows how good this feels.

"Jim," I gasp. "Oh fuck. I'm gonna ... gonna come in your hand, gonna come for you, feels so good ..."

And he closes his eyes, and opens them, and then he's leaning over me, kissing me, wet and loose, tasting me, and I close my eyes and let go and give him everything.

I'm not completely confident of my technique as applied to anybody but me, but I must have done something right: I have come on the bottom of my chin.

He comes hard and fast, three long spasms so strong they loosen my grip on him, instead of the six or seven less intense ones I usually get. And he gets stuff everywhere: his chest, my clothes, the floor.

His face as he comes is unbelievably beautiful, incandescent with pleasure. I'm going to have to do this again soon with my eyes on his cock instead.

I look down now, and the liquid glistening on my knuckles turns me on so much I can hardly breathe.

He opens his eyes and breathes, "Jim ... incredible ..." He doesn't soften up right away, and I'm still holding his cock gently, thinking crazy thoughts about trying to get him to let me do it again, when he takes his hand off my arm and strokes the back of my hand and pulls it up to his mouth. Oh, god, I'm lying on the floor with Blair Sandburg and I'm going to come without ever unbuttoning a button.

It seems to occur to him, too, that I'm still dressed. He pauses in the act of sucking on my knuckles. "Jim. Take your clothes off."

I very nearly tell him, "Say please," but then he looks me in the eye and flicks his tongue into the gap between my fingers, and right then if he told me to go jump off the balcony, I would do it.

I don't want to lose his mouth on my hand, but I can't undress left-handed. I can hardly do it with both hands.

I don't even bother to unbutton the shirt, just sit up and pull it and the T-shirt over my head together while I toe off my shoes and socks. Pants in a heap on the floor. Lie back down on my back.

When I put my hands on the waistband of my boxers, I have a moment of pure panic. Three decades of conditioning start screaming that I can't, can't, can't let another man see my hard-on, or something awful will happen. But I want it. I want his eyes on me, maybe even more than his hands on me. Nobody else really sees me. I want him to see me.

He doesn't want me to look at him.

Jesus, Jim, don't freak out on me now.

OK, OK, maybe just a reflex, his hands are moving again. But so slow.

And then I smile. Permission.

"Jim." I'm not going out of my way to make my voice sexy, but it sounds about like you'd expect from somebody who's been moaning continually for the last fifteen minutes, and Jim reacts. His eyes fall half-closed and he shudders.

"Beautiful," I say, and I lean up and run my hands over his bare shoulders. I'm still wearing a fucking T-shirt, how twisted is that, I pull it off one-handed and go back to appreciating Jim's body, which I could do as a full-time job and still want to do it as a hobby. "You're so beautiful, Jim, I've been trying not to look at you for so long, I felt like some kind of perv, man, always hoping the bathroom door wouldn't catch ..."

And he laughs a little, breathlessly, and says, "I'll leave it open," and as he's speaking the damned boxers finally come off and I can see all of him.

And of course you know Jim Ellison would have a beautiful cock. It's long and elegant like his hands, delicately curved back toward his belly, pale but slightly flushed. It's wet almost along the whole length, he's pretty far gone already, and just knowing I'm looking at him is enough to make it twitch. God, I want everything at once, it's all I can do not to eat him alive, but he's still looking a little uncertain. And maybe we'll have other chances.

I run the back of one finger softly down his length, crown to base, and he shudders hard.

I say, "No other guy ever ..." It isn't a question. He shakes his head without opening his eyes. "Oh yeah," I say -- growl, really -- and he tries to moan and laugh at the same time.

He's close enough to the edge that I don't think I'd be doing him any favors to draw it out. I lie on my side, put my left arm under his neck and pull him close, and then I enclose his cock in a firm grip and start to move, the backs of my fingers brushing my own belly. He gasps.

I lick at the corner of his mouth, but he can't concentrate well enough to keep a kiss going. He's really breathing hard, and his hips are thrusting up hard to meet my pumping hand, and his face is so ... stark, so open, so beautiful, and all my fantasies are right here in my arms at last.

God, his touch goes through me like a knife. I'm a different person with his hand on me.

His face is right next to mine and that smell that started this whole thing, that scent is coming at me in waves, mixed in with the ocean scent of his semen and the familiar tang of my own body when I'm turned on. And he's whispering in my ear, breathlessly: "So good, dream about this all the time, Jim, spend so much time trying to imagine what you'd look like when you come ... god, you're so hot, give it to me, let me give you this ..."

I'm skating on the edge now, trying to hold that vibrating moment right before I come when anything seems possible, and when I look at him his eyes are half-closed and his voice changes, goes ragged, like it does when he's scared ...

Oh god. Oh fuck.

He loves me.

And I'm coming, coming hard into his warm hand, my hips are jerking and my arms are pulling him hard against me, his hand trapped between us still moving slowly, knuckles digging into my belly, and I'm whispering his name, over and over, like a prayer.


Oh, wow.

He comes like it hurts him, almost -- like the way it feels when you relax a muscle that you keep tense all the time.

He says my name. Groans it, shouts it, sighs it.

So totally beyond amazing.

And then he just holds onto me, so tight we're breathing the same breath.

Ah, god, Jim. I'm here, man. I'm not going anywhere.

After a minute his hold on me loosens, and when I look at him he's got this big goofy grin. You sometimes see his eyes crinkle -- this time his whole face crinkles. He hasn't even opened his eyes.

I don't think I've ever seen him look so relaxed.

Wonder how long I've got before reality kicks in?

The thought makes me go cold. I mean, right now he's feeling no pain, he's just floating along on Endorphin Cruise Lines. But sooner or later it's gonna occur to him that the person he's playing shuffleboard on the deck with is a just a little unusually ... male.

And then maybe we'll get shouts and recriminations, and maybe we'll get a quick silent retreat. Either way, this hormone honeymoon can't last forever.

Gonna enjoy it while I can.

This is one hell of a strange day.

I've had no sleep. I got sent home from work for daydreaming. Thirty-eight years of perfectly satisfactory heterosexuality have just gone out the window. I'm naked and sticky and wrapped around a naked, sticky Blair Sandburg.

I'm so happy I can hardly breathe.

Blair's not saying much. I don't blame him. Probably thinking, Let me know when the real Jim returns to his body, OK?

But apparently this thing -- this me and Blair thing, this naked and sticky thing -- is old news to him. He said he thinks about it.

He said he dreams about it.

No fucking wonder. I don't know how I'm ever gonna think of anything else.

When I finally get my mouth sufficiently under control to speak, I'm surprised at what comes out of it.

"That's the best sex I ever had."

The look he gives me is surprised, but it mutates into smug pretty quickly. "Really?" he says. "Cool."

"Sandburg. I've had sex on top of a Camaro on a public beach. I've been tied up and licked all over for an hour. I've had two women at once --"

"You have?" Seriously, the astonishment in his voice is damned insulting.

"-- and groping on the floor with you for half an hour is the best sex I've ever had?"


"So it's weird, that's what."

He scoots over until our bodies are touching again, and he puts his arms around me and pulls me over, almost on top of him. "It's not weird," he says softly. Amused, exasperated, affectionate. I hear this tone a lot. "You're in love with me."

And then he laughs, because probably everything that makes me feel is right there on my face.

Well, why the hell not? "Yeah, dammit, I am," I say.

"Good," he says, and kisses me hard.

I can't believe I said that. I can't believe I had the nerve.

I can't believe I was right.

Maybe it's my birthday or something. Or maybe the Romance Fairy just dropped by to say Thinking Of You.

Anyway, I've got indisputable proof in the form of a very naked, very solid (very very solid), and to all appearances very happy Jim Ellison.

Man, Mother Earth, if I ever uttered a word of complaint, I take it all back.

"I was going to tell you the whole story about this," he says, and a wave of his hand translates 'this' as 'us, naked and covered with come in the doorway of your bedroom.' This ought to be good.

"I'm a little old for story hour on the floor." I get up and give him my hand. "You wanna borrow a robe?" The first robe I can grab is his dark-blue terry that I borrowed, like, a year ago. "Let me rephrase that. You want your robe back?"

He puts it on while I dig for my own robe. By the time I've given up and found a T-shirt and fresh underwear, he's already made himself comfortable in the living room.

He's sitting on the short couch instead of the long one. It makes me smile. He wants to give me some space -- but not too much.

I sit down right in his personal space and lean back against his chest, and his arms come up around me. "OK," I say, "tell me all about it."

"OK." I feel stupid, but there's nothing for it but to plow on through. "OK. Right. Well, this morning at five-fourteen, I was still straight."

This obviously isn't what he expected. He tilts his head back to look at me, and the look on his face says, Well, you're nuts, but I don't yet have any evidence that you're dangerous.

"Seriously. I was so straight that I never even thought about being straight, you know? Any more than most people would ask themselves, Hey, do I want my lovers to dress up as circus clowns?"

Nuts, but entertainingly nuts, his face says.

"And then at five-fifteen your stupid clock-light-thing woke me up --"

"Oh, man, I'm --" And then he looks at me and grins. "Naw, if this is where it gets me, I'm not sorry."

I shake my head. "And I came downstairs to see what it was, and I saw you sleeping."

There's a moment of silence. Then he says, "That's it?"

I nod.

"You've seen me sleeping before," he points out. "You've gone camping with me, we've gone on stakeouts, you've seen me sleep all the time."

"Yeah, I don't get it, either. It was fucking weird, Sandburg. It was like getting hit by lightning."

"Jim. Do you think this could be a Sentinel thing?" He doesn't sound like he likes the idea any better than I do.

"I thought about that."

We sit there for a minute, thinking about pheromones and free will. And then it hits me.

"Blair. What if we've got it backwards? We're talking like we're attracted because you're the Guide. But what if it's the other way around?"

"I don't get --" and then I do get it. "You're saying I became your Guide because I was attracted to you?"

"No. You became my Guide because I was attracted to you."

No way. That one's gonna require some support from primary sources.

"Look," he says. "The senses are hereditary, right? But if a Guide is a shaman, that's not a mutation, it's more of a ... calling." He looks at me for confirmation. It sounds right so far, so I nod.

"But what that means," he goes on, "is that -- not that anybody could have done what you've done, but the position was open and anybody could have stepped in. I mean, any of my doctors, any of my friends. Simon. Carolyn --"

It seems unfair to me. "You can't -- I mean, they didn't, they weren't prepared, they didn't know what to do --"

He snorts. "Oh, yeah, they didn't have the extensive training you had, Sandburg, they weren't given the many options you got --" He's tugging on my hair again, just like he did this morning, a million years ago.

"Let's face it," he says. "You knew almost nothing. You didn't even know there was such a thing as a Guide. But you rose to the occasion. And you had to rise to the occasion. Because I needed you. Because I relied on you. Because I chose you."

Man, that just takes my breath away.

And then I get this weird urge to giggle.

And then -- man, this is totally inappropriate, to go all debunker on him now when he's looking at me tenderly and he's just done everything but hand me a jeweler's box -- but, but, but --

"But Jim. You weren't attracted to me. Not until this morning at five-fifteen."

It doesn't even faze him. "I wasn't," he agrees. "Not in any way that I recognized as attraction. But haven't you noticed that there's always been something different about the way I relate to you? Something that isn't there between me and anyone else?"

I can't help it -- I have to use the Spock voice. "It's sex, Jim, but not as we know it."

He laughs out loud at that. "No kidding. Well, not as I know it. Apparently you've done that dance step before."

"Not like that," I say, and it's true. I think maybe that was the best sex I ever had. Even if you count that thing with the mirror and the strobe light.

That makes me think of something. "Jim, was it something you saw this morning that set you off? Was the primary stimulus visual?"

To my surprise, that makes him blush. "Smell. It was smell. I was thinking that if I knelt down and smelled your neck, under your hair --"

"Scent markers," I say.

"Do what?"

Oh, man, this is totally fucking amazing. "Most animals know each other by smell, not by sight. It's why they tell you not to touch a baby animal or its mother won't recognize it -- "

He has the strangest look on his face.

Scent markers. Of course.

"When you said that animals recognize each other," I say slowly. "That's what it was like. This morning. Recognition. Something clicked and suddenly I knew you. Knew what you ought to be to me."

"Wow," he breathes.

Yeah. Wow.

His brain's going a mile a minute again. "Jim, man, wait a second, you know, this makes perfect sense. Because primitive humans lived in much closer proximity than we do, and they bathed a lot less, too. So the early Sentinels would have all the information they needed to choose a Guide. But us, now, we don't get into other people's smell sphere very much, and scent dissipates when you move around and concentrates when you stay still, so if we didn't live together, you never would have -- oh, wow --"


"The way you've always stuck so close to me -- the way we're always in each other's space --"

"-- instinct telling me to put myself in your scent sphere. To make sure I'd recognize you."

He's laughing now. "Man, four years!" he crows. "Instinct must have been just about ready to lose patience with us and whack us over the head with a clue-by-four!"

And I say slowly, "I think that's exactly what it did."

He's silent for a while now. Processing again. It makes me a little nervous. We've established that I chose him, but whether he chooses me -- for something like this -- is a different question.

Well, why dick around, Ellison? Ask the man.

"So," I say. And then I have to clear my throat and start again. "So where do you want to go with this?"

He catches my hand, interlaces our fingers. "Jim, you know I'm with you, man, I've always been with you," he says softly.

I can only nod.

"But you --" he says now. "You're the one who's on new territory here, man, I should be asking you. Where do you wanna go with it?"

"All the way."

Such a sweet smile.

"OK," he says a little hoarsely. "Then we'll go there. I can go as slow as you need to, man, I know it's all new to you --"

"I don't want slow, Sandburg." I'm a little irritated that he's being so careful with me. I thought we were partners. "I want you to put the seal on this thing right now. I mean, I want you to, you know. The real thing."

The real thing. Oh, man. I bet he even thinks he means that.

"Shit, Jim, you can't even say it. You want me to fuck you." He flinches. "I knew it."

"No," he says. "The word." I frown at him. "I mean," he goes on, "I say 'fuck' all the time, but I'd never say it about what I do in bed. It's too aggressive. Impersonal."

Oh. Yeah. I guess it would sound that way, to somebody who still thought he was straight at five-fifteen. "Jim, man, you're entering a culture with a whole new dialect here," I tell him. "I mean, you're making an emotional distinction, right? -- fuck or make love?" He nods. "But where you're going now there's a physical distinction, you know? Like, fuck or get fucked." I'm watching him closely, and he blinks every time I say the word, but he doesn't look like the idea disgusts him. And his mouth is set in a stubborn line.

"I don't care what you call it. I want you to do it."

As gently as I can, I tell him, "No."

No? He's telling me no? "You don't want to?"

"Ah, no, no, no. No, I want to, you have no idea how much the idea turns me on, man, no idea. But I think you should wait."

"You think I'm gonna change my mind?"

"I think that if you're gonna freak out on me tomorrow morning, you've already got plenty to freak out about. I mean, what's your hurry, man? You've only been bisexual for, what ..." He squints at the clock.

"Twelve and a half hours. But I don't think I'm bisexual at all."

He looks pointedly down at where I've pushed his T-shirt up to rest my hand on his bare belly.

"No, I'm serious. The way I figure it, my world now has three sexes in it: men, women, and you. And my preference is you."

"You're Blairsexual?" He's grinning. "What a pervert."

"I hope we can still be friends," I tell him.

"I still think we should wait." Some people think Sandburg has a short attention span. They're sadly mistaken. "I mean, I'm not saying I don't wanna make love with you again, because I do. But I think it will minimize the freak-out factor if you don't do anything with me that you couldn't do with a woman, you know?"

It seems perfectly reasonable to me. I mean, he wouldn't be the first guy to wake up in the morning with his heart pounding, going, Oh shit, did I really let another guy jerk me off last night? But he's looking at me like I just told him the world was flat.

"Sandburg," he says, "I've already done something with you that I couldn't do with a woman." And he lifts up his hand, without losing eye contact, and deliberately sucks his knuckles, to remind me.

Oh god. The universe has not equipped me with enough willpower to keep saying no to this man.

"Jim," I say, and it's not the same voice I was using a minute ago. "Why? Why is it so important?"

"I want us to be connected," he whispers. "Our bodies, connected, the way our lives are connected, you know?" I nod, because I don't think I can speak.

"And ... I want to give that to you."

To give that to me?

Then it hits me. He's never had anything in his ass, not even a woman's finger.

He thinks it's just a nice way for the guy on the bottom to give the guy on top some pleasure.

He doesn't even know what's in there.

What the hell is he smiling about? Have I said something stupid? "What?" I say.

His grin gets even wider. "Ah, Jim, man, you've convinced me."

Well, thank god for that. I was perilously close to begging.

I don't entirely understand why I want this so much. It may be for exactly the reason that he was trying to talk me out of it: because it's something that you can't go back from. Because once he's done that to me, whatever else happens, I can't pretend I'm the same.

He's getting up now, grabbing my arms. Now that he's made up his mind, he's not wasting any time. I head for the stairs, but he veers off into his room, pulls a battered Ziploc bag out of his backpack before towing me toward the staircase.

By the time we're halfway up the stairs, he's already sent his T-shirt flying, and somehow or other he manages to walk out of his briefs, too. At the top, he turns and gives my robe a significant look. I take it off.

"Damn, you're beautiful." He places a kiss right on my solar plexus. It knocks the wind out of me as thoroughly as a punch. I don't so much sit on the bed as fall on it.

He puts the bag on the nightstand, and it crackles as he sets it down. Condoms, OK, I should have expected that. The other stuff in there, I can't tell what it is.

I'm thoroughly turned on, but I'm also nervous as hell. It's not that I'm afraid of the pain itself, exactly, but I'm afraid I'm going to be a wimp with it. I don't want to do anything that will make him change his mind about this, even when it hurts. And -- I admit it -- I don't want to look weak in front of him.

"You ... you've done this before, right?" I hate the anxiety in my voice. "I mean, you know how?"

"Yeah," he says gently, sitting down beside me and drawing us both to lie on the bed. "I know how."

I rub his arm. "I'm not gonna hurt you, man."

His nod says he understands me, but he doesn't believe me. He's nervous. Of course he is. And it's one of those little ironies of life -- the more he's afraid it'll hurt, the tenser he gets, and the tenser he gets, the more likely it is that it'll hurt. Nature is a mother.

"Did you imagine this? With me?" I ask suddenly as I lie down beside him.

"Couldn't quite manage it," he says wryly. But he must have thought about it at least a little, because he's rolling over now.

"Wait, wait, wait." I pull him back toward me, and he comes to rest spooned up with his back against my chest. It's a good position, though it's not one I usually use. Our height difference is mostly in our legs, so when our hips slot together, I can see my arms will be long enough to reach everything I need to reach, and my mouth is against the back of his neck.

I lean up toward his ear and tell him, "We've got a long ways to go first, buddy."

A long ways to go? What do we need to do, draft a prenup? I can't help it. I'm nervous and jumpy and I want to get the hard part over with.

He curls up against my back and nuzzles the spot under my ear, making me shiver. "Trust me," he whispers. I nod.

I don't even have to dial up to feel the texture of his hair against my back. It feels nice, so I focus on that. He must feel me relax, because he says, "Good," in a voice full of dark promise.

"Now," he says. "I want you to dial touch down to about normal, OK? I mean, like, me-normal, not so far down that you can't tell me if you don't like something, but not so far up that it gets too intense for you, OK?" I feel him grin against my neck. "If you like it at the Blair part of the dial, then later on we can do some experimenting."


He's propped himself up on his elbow, and his right hand is stroking idly over my thigh. It feels good.

"Good," he says again. "I need some time to get you ready."

"What's --" I gasp as his hand strokes up to rub my nipple. "What's ready?" I look back at him and see him watching his fingers as they pull and roll my nipple. He'd better answer soon, before I forget the question.

"Ready," he says huskily, "is when you're all relaxed and comfortable --" and he licks my ear -- "and I've opened you up with my fingers --" and his tongue moves over the point of my jaw -- "and gotten you all wet inside --" and he licks down the side of my neck -- "and you're so turned on you can't say anything but Yes." And he sinks his teeth into the spot where my neck meets my shoulder.

"Shit!" I'm almost shouting. I feel him smile against my skin.

"That's a good start," he says.

Oh yeah. I knew I could talk him into submission. Just hope I don't talk myself out of patience. I've wanted this too long to rush through it.

When I move my hand off his nipple, he lets out an almost comical sigh of disappointment. He's nearly as sensitive as I am there, and he doesn't have the benefit of body jewelry. I'll have to remember that for later.

For now I've got another destination in mind. His cock is a pretty good barometer of his anxiety; it came back to full hardness while I was telling him what I was going to do to him. I stroke it gently, work with his rhythm for a minute and then go into almost random motions. He fights me for a stroke or two and then relaxes back against me.

"Good," I say in his ear. "Let me take care of you, man, you know I'm gonna give you what you need."

I stroke down over his balls, gently, gently; now is not the time to explore how much he can take here. I gather them up in my palm and stroke my fingertips over the smooth skin behind them, and his breath catches in his throat.

"Like that?" Like I can't tell. But it's so sweet to hear him sigh, "Yes." And I know from experience that it's harder to stay tense when you're talking.

Now I rub a little, searching for the right spot, and when I find it I press up, hard. "Oh," he says.

"You know about that spot?" I ask him, and he nods. "I'm gonna be touching that from the inside, Jim, that's what you're gonna be feeling."

"Oh," he says again, this time in a tone of amazement. I almost laugh. This is gonna be so great, I can't wait to see his face.

Looks like I've got an erogenous zone I forgot about.

Blair's fingertips are pulsing against me, hard but not too hard, sending a little spike of pleasure with each push. He pulls me back a little so I'm lying half on my side and half on my back, leaning against him, and he leans down for a long, leisurely kiss. It feels really amazing.

"God, that's good." I almost don't recognize my voice. "You could probably make me come like this."

That makes his hips jerk forward, rubbing his cock against the back of my hip. "We can try that," he offers.

"Sometime. Not tonight."

He nods, scrubbing his face against my shoulder. His fingers stop their rhythmic pressure and go back to stroking lightly. That feels good too, but in a different way, less urgent, more sensual. He tugs on my thigh and I drape my leg back over his, opening for him.

"Oh yeah," he says softly. "Trust me."

"I do," I whisper.

Now his fingers are moving backwards. I know where he's headed, and I think I know what it's going to feel like, but I'm wrong, because -- "Shit. Oh fuck that feels good." His fingertips are brushing lightly and nerve endings I didn't even know I had are waking up and saying gimme gimme gimme.

"You like that?" There's a smile in his voice.

"Damn. I've been missing out."

"Just you wait, man, just you wait."

His hand is zeroing in now, rubbing over the opening, and it feels absolutely amazing. I can feel two of his other fingers spreading me, opening me, and even that turns me on. It occurs to me that I could give him better access if ... I bend my knee, and then I roll all the way to my back and bend the other knee, propping the foot on the bed, tilting my hips up.

"God." More breath than voice. "You're a natural," he says, and he pushes one finger a little way in.

Feels good, feels really good, but those muscles reflexively tighten around his finger. I concentrate on trying to relax them.

"Don't think," he whispers in my ear. "You can't do this with your brain. Just let me."

Man. How did he get this old without trying this when his whole body is screaming for it?

It's incredible to watch him. His face is still, eyes closed, and he looks like he's just concentrating -- like when he's at a crime scene and he's shushing me so he can listen. But his chest is heaving and he keeps spreading his legs wider, tilting up and opening up for me. It's the hottest thing I ever saw.

Three fingers now and a little gasp from him, but I stay still until he braces his heels on the bed and pushes up and makes me move.

"Tell me," I say, but he only says, "fuck," drawn out and quiet, and then nothing else.

I stroke into him slowly, avoiding his prostate, you'd say I was teasing him except that he doesn't know it's there. OK, I'm a weirdo, I want to surprise him. So I keep stroking in and out, a little twist, a little stretch, and he's pushing his hips a tiny bit up each time, pushing down on my fingers. "Jim," I say. "You're opening for me, you're almost ready for me, man, it's so beautiful to see you like this."

And he says in a small voice, "Soon?"

"Soon," I say, and my voice is almost a croak, "soon like in now."

But when I go to turn over he stops me again. "No, like this, we can do it like this," he says. "I wanna watch your face." He pulls out his fingers and moves between my legs and puts them back in, and I can feel how open I am, how easy it is. Incredible.

He gets a condom out of the bag, but his slippery fingers can't get a grip on the wrapper. I take it out of his hands and tear it open, and I watch him touch himself in the most businesslike way, little drop of gel on the head of his cock, smooth the rubber over it and roll it down, another little drop of lube on the outside, spread it all around.

"I really want to do that for you sometime," I say, and he closes his eyes and takes a couple of deep breaths and says, "Shit, Jim, way to make it hard to go slow."

I don't know how we're gonna do this with me on my back, but he seems to know what he's doing, and my conscious mind is content to observe everything distantly while my body takes center stage. He moves back between my legs and puts an arm behind each knee and sort of lifts my body up. Then he shrugs one of my legs onto his shoulder to get access to that hand again, and I feel his cock pressing softly against me and then in a little bit.

It's bigger than three fingers, and it hurts. I don't want him to stop, but I can't help a deep breath hissing in through my teeth, and he goes still. "Blair," I sigh. It's almost a whine. "Please."

"Wait, Jim, easy." He strokes over the backs of my thighs. I'm really sensitive there and it feels so good that it distracts me for a second and he slides in a little more.

"Please. I want you all the way in."

"Yeah," he pants, and he goes forward, bit by bit by bit, until I can feel his body pressed up against mine. I open my eyes and see something he probably doesn't want me to see: the strain of going so slow, his face tense with fighting for control. Oh, god, I want him to be able to let go.

Shit. So hot. So tight. I can't believe he's letting me do this.

I stay still for a minute and then I just rock a little, in and out a tiny bit, and his breath catches and he moans and pushes his hips at me. "More," he breathes.


A deeper stroke. A rougher moan. He reaches up over his head and braces one hand on the railing and pushes back hard against me, and I can't help moaning too.

A smoother rhythm. We're making noises together now.

I'm not hearing what I want to hear, though, which is Jim out of his mind with pleasure. So I shift position a little bit on the next slow stroke, and --

Oh, holy god, what is -- please -- again -- please --

-- and his mouth opens wide and he makes this grunting sound, would probably embarrass him if he weren't so far gone, he's beyond words now. His left hand has a white-knuckle grip on the railing, and his right is moving down in small jerky motions, reaching for his cock, but before he can get there I push in hard and it must be just the right angle, because he tilts his head back and roars and he's coming hard, cries going to moans going to whimpers --

-- and I had some thought of slowing down but my body is not listening to me at all, my hips just keep pistoning in and out while his spasms grip me and when he says my name I just -- totally -- fucking -- lose it.

Oh Jim.

Oh fuck.

I never felt anything like that in my life.

I'm going to say so, too. As soon as I can breathe.

Distantly I feel Blair pull out, feel him doing something with the condom, hear him muttering something about a towel before he drags my robe up off the floor and cleans me off with it. I have a vague idea that I ought to object to that.

The only thing I object to his him being so far away.

So the next time he's in range I sling an arm around him and drag him back down, half on top of me. He says, "Jim!" all surprised and laughing, and then he lays his head down on my chest and says it again, this time relaxed and contented.

Let's lie here for a while. Just until I get my brain cells back.

Don't go anywhere.

Mindblowing sex, a little nap, Jim Ellison's chiseled face rubbing against mine in what he would probably indignantly deny was a nuzzle ...

Now this is the way to wake up.

By my calculations Jim's now been Blairsexual for about eighteen hours. And I haven't eaten for nearly twelve. And the need for nourishment is about to outpace all my basic needs, including the need to cuddle and the need to lie here pinching myself to make sure this isn't all some bizarre, calisthenics-induced dream.

And Jim's stomach is making some odd gurgling noises, too.

"Hey," I say, lifting my head up off his shoulder. He gives me a dreamy smile and says, "Yeah?" in this hoarse, low, sexy voice I've never heard before.

"You wanna eat something?"

"Aw," he says. "I thought you were gonna say something romantic."

"Hey, heartache to heartache we stand, no promises, no demands, love is a battlefield. Now you wanna get something to eat?" Who would have thought he could throw me off without using his hands?

Of course with the showering and getting dressed and Jim's not being able to wait one more minute to take a damp cloth to the floor outside my room, we're past hungry and on the verge of ravenous by the time we make it out the door. Which is good, since Fast Eddie's Pizza is about our only choice for hot food at this time of night, and let me tell you, that's a meal that really needs a major hunger to make it palatable.

So I'm maybe not quick enough on the uptake when we get out into the hall, and I don't have time to object before Jim pushes me up against the wall and gives me the wettest, slowest, most thorough kiss I've had since -- well, since the last wet slow thorough kiss I got from him a couple of hours ago.

"Jim --" I'm almost sputtering. "I thought you'd want to keep a lid on this, man. I mean, not that I don't appreciate the occasional PDA as much as the next guy, but the larger culture is not exactly welcoming this kind of stuff with open arms, you know --"

He's got a warm hand on the back of my neck, under my hair, and he's using it to propel me down the hall. "You and I are just doing what we have to do for the safety of the tribe here, Sandburg," he says loftily as he pushes the elevator button left-handed. "The larger culture can go fuck itself."

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January 2000