Hot Jazz

by ALF

This started out as an Obsenad after I watched a prom with Wynton Marsalis and The Lincoln Jazz Centre Orchestra, but grew when I decided to use an earlier plot bunny idea to expand on it. Thanks to the members of Sen Beta for their sterling work helping me beat this into shape and make it better than what it was.

In this story Blair is the Sentinel and Jim is the Guide, so if you don't like the sound of that, I suggest you hit delete now!

The club was dark, smoky and hot. But not as hot as Blair Sandburg as he stood in front of a microphone, singing to the crowd packed into the jazz club. And definitely not as hot as Jim Ellison as he watched the man on the stage weaving his magic around the crowd.

Sandburg was performing at the club 'for one night only' as the old clich had it. He had agreed to appear as a special favor to the owner of the club, Simon Banks, who was an old friend of his mother's. Just how close a friend, Blair wasn't exactly sure, but close enough that, when the request had come to him from Simon via his mother, Naomi, he had been unable to refuse. He had hoped that Naomi would be in Cascade long enough to see him sing, but she had left two days earlier on another trip in her constant search for spiritual enlightenment.

"Blair, honey, I'll be there in spirit," she had told him as they hugged goodbye at the airport.

Blair had nodded acceptance and understanding. But, inside, he'd wished that, just this once, she'd be there in body, too. "I know, Mom," he said, kissing her goodbye. "Enjoy your trip."

"I will, Sweetie," she'd said. Then she was gone in a swirl of gossamer material and delicate perfume, en route to India and a meeting with some new guru who was the talk of all her friends....

Blair brought his thoughts back to his set and the next song as he waited through the rapturous applause that had greeted the conclusion of each song so far. He looked out across the crowd, catching another glimpse of the tall, good-looking stranger who had been lounging against the bar all evening, occasionally exchanging a word or two with Simon or the bartender.

Blair looked at the man, one of several faces new to the club since the last time he had been there, years ago, when he had been barely legal and Simon was just starting out as its owner and manager. He wondered what attracted him to the man, whose physique made him think of a Greek god, feeling drawn to him in some way he couldn't identify. Just then, the god looked up and caught his eye. Blair's breath caught in the back of his throat and he swallowed hard. The look sparked between them, almost igniting as blue eyes locked on blue -- one pair cool as ice, the other as smoky as the club's atmosphere.

The introduction to the next song throbbed into Blair's awareness and he began to sing, keeping his attention riveted on the stranger at the bar, who stared right back at him. Blair could feel the heat throbbing between them as he sang and he felt distantly glad this was his last number and he had told Simon in advance that he didn't do encores. He was desperate to get backstage and relieve the growing pressure in his tight jeans, knowing that his head would be full of images of the stranger making love to him as he did so.

He wondered if Simon knew the man. Certainly from what little Blair had seen of their earlier interactions, there had seemed to be a hint of familiarity between them. Perhaps he could find out his name from Simon. Then someone else at the bar jostled Blair's lust object and their glance was finally broken. Blair focused his attention back onto the song and the rest of the crowd in the club until, finally, it was over and he was done, free to escape back to the tiny dressing room while the small band continued to play and the house singer took over. He didn't even hear the disappointment of the crowd when they discovered that he wasn't going to do an encore. His entire being was consumed by the need for privacy.

As Blair reached the door of his dressing room, he almost groaned as he heard Simon's deep voice booming out behind him, "Blair!"

The voice commanded a response. Blair couldn't ignore it. Telling his traitorous body to wait and his hard dick that it's time was close at hand, he took a deep breath and turned. "Simon...." he said, the word faltering as he took in the presence of the man at his mother's friend's side. The breath whooshed out of him and he stood literally mouth agape. Close up, the stranger was even more handsome.

"Blair, this is Jim Ellison, an old friend of mine," Simon's voice dragged Blair's attention back to him and he registered the name through his haze of lust, not noticing the small smile on the face of the club's owner.

"Pleased to meet you." The god held out his hand towards Blair.

Blair took it and shook automatically, just about managing to squeak out a reply.

"Jim and I knew each other in the Army," Simon explained.

Blair nodded vaguely.

"I should let you change," Jim suggested hesitantly.

"You can wait for him in the dressing room," Simon suggested, trying not to appear too obvious.

Blair gave another vague nod and turned to open the door. "Come in," he said politely, automatically gesturing Jim forward.

"I'll see you before you leave, Blair," Simon said.

"Sure, Simon," Blair called back, already starting to strip off the tight mesh muscle shirt he was wearing, oblivious to the effect he was having on the other man in the tiny room.

Jim shut the door and leaned against it, glad to watch the singer covertly. He could almost feel the lust pouring off of the other man, and he had been aware of Blair's bulging groin, as well.

"So, what do you do for a living?" the question startled Jim as Blair suddenly turned to look at him.

"Huh?" It was a lame response, but, with all of Jim's blood in his rock-hard dick as he took in the tempting hair that covered Blair's chest, it was the best he could manage.

Blair gave a low chuckle, well aware of the effect he was having on the other man and glad it went both ways. "Your job?" he repeated his question patiently as he reached into the small bathroom off the changing room to switch on the shower.

"Oh!" Jim shook off his lust-induced stupor. "I'm a detective," he said. "Cascade PD."

"Which department?" Blair asked as he undid his hair from the leather band that he wore while singing.

Jim grimaced. "Homicide," he answered.

Blair nodded his head in sympathy. "Must be tough," he said.

Jim muttered something that might have been agreement as Blair undid his jeans and slipped them off, revealing tight black briefs underneath, seemingly unaware of Jim's observation.

Jim checked the door behind him unobtrusively, making sure it was locked. Then he pulled his T-shirt off, revealing a smooth expanse of chest. "Need someone to soap your back, Chief?" he asked, prowling forward to where Blair was standing in front of a closet removing towels.

He chuckled as Blair jumped in surprise and whirled around, catching the singer by the arms before he could fall. Then Jim pulled Blair flush against his body and kissed him hungrily, possessively, forcing his tongue into Blair's mouth and stealing his breath away. Blair, to give him credit, returned the kiss just as aggressively, until they were finally forced to stop, panting breathlessly, still plastered against each other.

Jim's hands strayed down to Blair's ass and toyed with the waistband of the briefs. In retaliation, Blair reached down and undid Jim's jeans. Jim sighed with relief as the pressure eased in his groin, and moaned with pleasure as Blair started to stroke him. Blair moaned, too, shocked and thrilled to find that Jim had gone commando under the tight denim. He pushed Jim's jeans down to his feet while Jim toed off his shoes. Then Jim stepped out of the puddled pants and backed Blair into the bathroom and under the spray of the shower.

They kissed again. This time the passion turned to gentle exploration of each other's mouths before the kisses moved on to other body parts. Jim laved a spot behind Blair's ear that made the other man whimper in pleasure, the whimper turning into a loud moan when Jim sucked a passion mark onto the skin at that location. The water poured down on them as they got to know each other's bodies.

Blair pulled away, finally, to look at Jim. "Fuck me?" he asked.

Jim gasped. "Are you sure?" he asked.

Blair turned and leaned against the wall of the shower, spreading his legs, saying nothing, but offering everything.

Jim moved forward and ran his hands possessively down Blair's body until he was cupping the beautiful ass of his lover. At the same time, he sucked and licked at Blair's nape, pushing aside the heavy curls with his nose. "Yes," he breathed the word against Blair's skin and a tiny push backwards from Blair's hips told him that the other man had heard his acceptance of the offer.

Jim reached out a long arm to snag the bottle of body oil that was on the sink. He poured some into his palm and coated one finger. Then he gently started to prepare Blair for penetration. Jim took his time, making sure that Blair was enjoying the process as much as he was, until he had three fingers brushing his partner's prostate and Blair's hips were in motion.

They reached around for an awkward kiss as Jim finally entered Blair slowly, allowing them both time to adjust their bodies to what they were doing. Finally, though, Jim was all the way in and they rested like that, exchanging another kiss, until Blair indicated with a thrust of his hips that he was ready for Jim to move.

Jim worked hard to keep control for as long as possible, wanting to make this as enjoyable as he could for his partner. At the same time, he pumped and stroked Blair's cock, reveling in the pleasure sounds that Blair was making as he did so. When Jim could no longer restrain himself and Blair's movements in counterpoint to his own suggested that the other man was reaching climax, Jim started to pound hard, grunting and moaning in the throes of passion.

Then, after what seemed an eternity on the edge, they were coming, Blair first, Jim a beat behind him, shaking and shivering uncontrollably through their climax, until they collapsed together, sated and exhausted on the floor of the shower, finally aware of the now-cold water pouring over them.

Jim reached up to turn off the control, then wrapped the arm back around Blair, who rested in his lap. They stayed that way for a short while, but Blair soon began to shiver, so Jim hoisted them both upright and reached for the towels to wrap around their now chilled bodies.

As they dried off, they shared soft smiles and hot looks, lingering admiration and warmth in their gaze.

"Do you want to come back to my place for something to eat?" Blair suggested, breaking the silence, finally, as they dressed.

Jim looked up. "Where do you live?" he asked.

"Lexington Place," Blair answered.

Jim whistled. "That's a pretty expensive neighborhood."

Blair shrugged carelessly. "I guess," he replied. "It wasn't like that, though, when I first starting renting it, so I got a good deal from the owner who renovated the place."

"Okay," Jim finally agreed. "How about pizza?"

Blair pulled a face. "How about something cholesterol free?" he offered.

It was Jim's turn to grimace. "Chinese?" he countered.

"Thai," Blair gave a mischievous grin.

"Thai's fine." Jim smiled in relief that they had reached agreement.

"Let's just say goodbye to Simon, then we can head out," Blair said. "I want to know all about you, Detective Ellison."

"Works both ways, Chief," Jim said, holding the door open for the other man.

They exchanged another kiss, tender and passion-filled, looking forward to getting to know each other even more intimately. Finally, they left to make their way to the office where Simon was working on his accounts. The club owner took one look at them and smiled knowingly....

Half an hour later, Blair was ushering Jim into his home, which took up the whole of the building's top floor. Jim gave a low whistle of appreciation as he took in the apartment, which was one large open area with pillars and screens dividing the space into a living room, kitchen, bedroom and study/home office. He guessed the bathroom must be hidden behind a door in the far wall, opposite the entrance to the loft. "This is amazing, Chief," he said, turning around as he tried to take it all in.

"Go ahead and look around as much as you want," Blair invited, a note of amusement in his tone. "Beer?" he questioned, heading for a large fridge against one wall.

Jim nodded vaguely, crossing over to look at a series of framed pictures on another wall. There were a number of magazine covers, interspersed with a variety of photos, all featuring Blair in some way, and Jim took his time studying each one in turn.

"Here," Blair's voice and the press of a cold bottle against his hand surprised Jim for a moment.

"Thanks," he said automatically, not turning to look at Blair. "These are interesting," he noted, gesturing towards the magazine covers.

"Thanks," Blair replied. "Just a few mementoes of my former life."

"So, why did you give up singing?" Jim asked, finally turning to look at Blair.

Blair looked surprised. "You don't know?" he asked as he crossed into the living room.

Jim shook his head. "No. That's why I asked, Chief."

Blair went and slumped onto a couch. "It's been a long time since I've met someone who didn't know the story." He took a gulp of beer.

Jim walked over to sit beside him on the couch, drinking some of his own beer, waiting patiently for the story.

"I've been singing all my life," Blair began, putting his now-empty beer bottle aside. "So, when I found myself short of money as a student, it seemed like a good way to put myself through school. My mom hooked me up with Simon, who's a friend of hers from way back. Around the same time that I finished my doctorate at Rainier, I got offered a recording contract with a major studio." Blair looked up, to see Jim watching him and listening intently. He took a breath and carried on, "Before I knew it, I was this big jazz star, traveling around the country, recording albums.... That lasted a few years."

"What went wrong?" Jim asked as Blair paused.

"I came back to Cascade to do a charity concert. I was at a meeting at City Hall when a group of terrorists, led by a lunatic named Alex Barnes, stormed the place and took a load of people hostage. When it came down to a shoot-out between the cops and the terrorists, Alex escaped with me acting as a human shield. She..."

"She?" Jim's startled response stopped Blair's narrative.

Blair looked up and nodded. "She," he repeated.

"Sorry," Jim said.

"No, I understand," Blair said. "I should have been able to stop a woman, I know."

Jim shook his head. "That wasn't what I meant, Chief," he explained. "I've never heard of a woman leading a bunch of terrorists before. That's all."

"Well, she wasn't your average, ordinary woman," Blair responded. "She had enhanced senses."

"What does that mean?" Jim asked.

Blair shrugged. "Exactly what it sounds like. Her sensory abilities were heightened beyond the norm. It's something that the explorer Sir Richard Burton wrote about in the 19th century. He called them Sentinels. Anyway," he dismissed the explanation with a wave. "She took me off into the mountains to some cabin in the middle of nowhere, left me tied up and unconscious while she came back to Cascade to negotiate for ransom for me. What she didn't realise was that I have enhanced senses, too."

"You do?" Again Jim's startled comment interrupted the flow of the story.

"Yeah, Jim. Me too," Blair told him.

Jim shook his head, wondering just who he had gotten involved with.

"Look, Jim, I know how crazy this all sounds, but believe me, I'm not insane." He stood up abruptly and crossed to an overflowing bookcase against the wall. Returning to the couch, he gave Jim a book which appeared old and well-read. "Look." The book's title read, 'The Sentinels of Paraguay.' "This is Burton's monograph," he explained as Jim opened the book and looked through it. "My mom gave it to me when I was about twelve. She knew the truth about me, that I might have the Sentinel gene. Her grandfather gave the book to her just before he died."

"Okay. So, why don't you tell me the rest of the story then Chief," Jim said, putting the book on the coffee table in front of him.

"Well, it's quite common for Sentinel senses to come on-line after a period of isolation. During the week she left me alone in that cabin, my senses kicked in. When she came back, I was waiting for her. That time, I was able to get the drop on her and fight her off. She had kidnapped me because she'd felt some sort of connection between us and she thought I was a Guide."

"What's a Guide?" Jim asked as Blair hesitated, no doubt in anticipation of Jim's question.

"Someone who backs up the Sentinel, helps them control their senses and watches for zone-outs."

"And a zone-out is...?" Jim asked.

"When the Sentinel focuses too closely on one sense, they can lose awareness of everything around them and they get lost in that input. That's a zone-out," Blair explained. "The Guide helps ground the Sentinel by giving their senses another focus. Anyway, when Alex came back to the cabin, she didn't know that I was on-line and could sense when she was coming."

When Blair seemed to get lost in his thoughts and memories of the past, Jim finally asked "What happened to her?"

"Oh," Blair said. "Well, I ended up having to shoot her." He looked down, biting his lip, then looked up again. "It was an accident," he said. "She died in the hospital about a week later. I was never charged. The shooting was ruled as self-defense. But I was a mess afterwards. My senses were out of control and I couldn't cope with what had happened. I retired from singing and settled back in Cascade, permanently."

Jim slid over until he was next to Blair and pulled the other man into his arms. "It must have been pretty traumatic."

Blair shuddered in memory. "It was awful, man. I hate guns. I'd never touched one before, or seen anyone shot for real. You know?"

Jim nodded at the mostly rhetorical question, Blair already carrying on, "I was totally messed up by the whole thing. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even leave my house for six months, I was so scared of what might happen. I thought I was going to end up a basketcase, locked up in a padded room somewhere."

"How did you get past it?" Jim asked, hands stroking soothing circles on Blair's back as the other man relaxed against his body.

"Mom came back to Cascade. You see, Naomi travels a lot. She's kinda like a hippie flower-child, always searching for enlightenment," Blair spoke quietly. "She helped me a bit by getting me meditating and she talked me into seeing a therapist. After a while the heightened senses mostly seemed to go away. I guess you could say they became dormant again. But I still didn't feel like getting back into singing, so I started writing, instead. I got back into Anthropology, which was what I studied at Rainier. I still don't go out much, but I write articles and I've recently had a textbook published, plus I study a lot via the Internet."

Jim kissed Blair on the forehead. "Sounds like you've been through quite a lot."

Blair gave a small laugh at that. "That's an understatement, Big Guy," he said affectionately, kissing Jim slowly and gently.

Before the passion could get out of control, Jim pulled back slightly to speak. "You know, I think I may have met one of your Sentinels," he offered.

"What?" Surprise jerked Blair upright out of Jim's arms.

Jim was starting to get tired and had a feeling Blair was ready for sleep too, so he left out a huge part of the story in order to get to the point. He explained, "When I was in the Rangers, I got stuck in Peru for a while. There was a man there, Nanto, who acted as a scout for the tribe I was stationed with. He seemed to have amazing eyesight and hearing. But when I spoke to the tribal Shaman, Incacha, about his abilities, he didn't use the term Sentinel, and he wouldn't talk about it much. Incacha did tell me something about myself though."

"What was that?" Blair asked, sounding almost asleep.

"He told me that I would find someone one day who would answer my questions and who I would guide along his true path," Jim said.

Blair sat up again, a wide-eyed look on his face. "Oh man," he said. "This is incredible." Whatever he had intended to say next was swallowed by a jaw-cracking yawn.

"Look, Chief, it's three a.m. Why don't we table this discussion till we've gotten some sleep?" Jim suggested.

Blair nodded agreement. "You will stay, though, won't you?" he asked anxiously.

Jim nodded. "I'd love to."

Blair smiled in satisfaction at that and they exchanged another slow, tender kiss before stumbling to their feet and heading over to the corner, where Blair's king-size bed was hidden behind two screens made of Chinese paintings on stretched silk. They undressed quickly and then slid under the covers, automatically coming together and entwining themselves comfortably.

"Night, Jim," Blair said through another large yawn.

"Goodnight, Blair," Jim replied, giving him a quick kiss on the hair before closing his eyes and drifting off to sleep. Blair joined him in slumber almost immediately. The only sound in the loft was the soft breathing of two men deep in repose and the street traffic below.

The next morning, Jim drifted slowly awake, memories of the night before flooding back as he felt the warmth of another body cuddled up to his back. Somehow, during the night, he and Blair had changed positions so that Blair was now pressed up against him, spoon style. The feel of Blair's morning hard cock nestled intimately against his ass was a jolt of electricity to Jim's system. Like last night, he felt the flare of the connection between them surge.

Jim lay there, unwilling to lose touch with Blair's body, wondering what had happened to him and why he was here. He acknowledged the mutual attraction that had sparked between them, the instant lust that had been gratified in the shower less than twelve hours ago. It wasn't the sort of thing Jim Ellison was in the habit of doing. But in this instance, he had felt helpless to hold back the tide of emotion and it had seemed so right to act on what he was feeling. The revelation about Blair's heightened senses was a puzzle, but he remembered Incacha's words and trusted them, in the same way he had trusted the Chopec Shaman throughout his time in Peru.

Further musings were interrupted as Jim felt Blair beginning to stir behind him. He rubbed his backside against Blair's hardness as he listened to Blair mumble his way awake, grinning to himself.

"Someone's eager this morning," a dry voice finally said against his back, even as a kiss was pressed to his skin and fingertips skimmed down his spine.

"Someone's already up," Jim responded with a half-laugh, half-growl, which turned into a moan of pleasure as Blair licked his skin.

Blair pulled on his shoulder, rolling Jim over to face him. "Good morning," he said, then pressed his lips against Jim's in a kiss, getting thoroughly acquainted with Jim's mouth in the process.

"Good morning to you, too," Jim said when he finally gasped in enough air to recover.

"So, what do you have planned for today?" Blair asked, keeping up a sensual, sinuous grind against Jim's body as he spoke.

"Other than getting fucked within an inch of my life, you mean?" Jim retorted, pulling Sandburg impossibly closer to him.

The singer responded with a growl and shoved Jim down onto his back. Jim looked up, laughing into smoky, passion-filled eyes. "I take it that suggestion meets with your approval?" he asked.

Blair hummed in reply, too busy working on giving Jim the mother of all hickeys on his neck to actually use words to answer him. Jim reached over to pick up the tube of lube he could see sitting on the nightstand. He dropped it so that it landed on Blair's face, which was pressed against his chest, mouth working a nipple to peak hardness.

Blair looked up at him, earnest look on his face. "Are you sure?" he asked.

"Never been more sure of anything," Jim told him firmly. "I'll let you in on a little secret, here, Chief. You're the first man I've fucked for a long time. If you hadn't asked first, I was going to ask you to do me last night."

Blair looked at him wide-eyed.

"What?" Jim asked.

"Nothing man," Blair shook his head.

"You didn't think I'd want you to take me?" Jim asked, easily guessing where Blair's thoughts had been headed. "It's not that I don't enjoy topping," he explained.

"After last night, I think I could've worked that one out, thanks," Blair said dryly.

"Yeah, I'll give you that one," Jim responded with a half smile. "But, although I do top, I really enjoy bottoming more. So, will you fuck me?" He rolled onto his stomach and lifted his ass in the air, loving the sharp intake of breath Blair made in response to the invitation. "I'll beg if I have to," he added, turning to look at the singer, wiggling his ass as he said it.

Blair laughed out loud at that and ran an appreciative hand down Jim's back. "That won't be necessary," he told Jim. "At least, not this time."

This time, it was Jim who growled at the myriad of hot images that little idea raised in his brain. Blair laughed again and leaned in to give him a tongue-curling, tonsil-searching kiss. Then he began working his way down Jim's back, kissing, licking and nibbling at the skin, enjoying the whimpers, moans and outright pleading he got -- "Just get the hell on with it and fuck me, Sandburg!" -- from Jim.

Once he finally reached Jim's ass, Blair shifted position to settle between the other man's legs and started licking and kissing the skin again, skilfully working on loosening the detective's hole to take his cock. Jim responded as eagerly to this as he had to all of Blair's previous attentions -- vocally and physically, pushing his hips back to encourage Blair's tongue inside of him, calling out his approval, begging constantly for more.

When Blair pushed a lubed finger inside him, grazing across his prostate, Jim lost control, howling with pleasure and coming hard without either of them ever having touched his cock. Blair soothed him through the aftershocks of the mind-blowing orgasm, keeping up a gentle finger fucking as he did so. Jim didn't even notice that one finger had become two, then three as he lay panting on the bed. Neither did he seem to notice the huge wet spot he was lying in. However, he did notice when Blair slowly began to push inside of him. He raised up to his knees again and thrust back impatiently against Blair, wanting more of that delicious hardness inside him.

Blair's hands grabbed Jim's hips and his thumbs rubbed soothing patterns on Jim's skin. He was almost overwhelmed by the feeling of tight heat surrounding and gripping his cock as it slowly and inexorably slid all the way into Jim's ass. Once he was fully inside, he rested, allowing them both to adjust to the penetration. It wasn't long, though, before they both felt the need for Blair to move, so he began thrusting, pulling almost all the way out before pushing back in again, maintaining a steady rhythm.

Jim felt himself starting to get hard again from the constant jolts to his prostate, loving the feel of Blair inside him combined with the spiritual connection between them. He moaned Blair's name encouragingly and began to move his hips in counterpoint to Blair's thrusts. Blair responded by speeding up his movements and calling Jim's name as he thrust harder and faster, both of them racing towards climax, this time.

Blair reached around to stroke Jim's cock, making the older man come, and felt the pressure of Jim's clenching muscles spasming around his own dick start his own powerful orgasm. They cried out to each other, feeling as though the earth was moving on its axis and realigning itself, their connection flaring to life more strongly than ever before.

Then Blair was collapsing across Jim's back, exhausted and spent, and he heard Jim trying to heave in lungfuls of air despite being squashed beneath the sated form of his lover. As he lay there, Blair became aware of something else - his sense of himself and the physical link he still held to Jim through their joined bodies, the blood pounding through their veins, the beat of their hearts, the feeling of Jim's skin against his own.... His dormant senses had suddenly roared powerfully to life again.

Blair gasped as the sensory flood swept over him, moaning in surprise and not a little pain as his senses expanded outward and he became aware of input from beyond the room where they were lying melded together. Forcing himself to concentrate, he managed to physically withdraw from Jim, but was unable to do more than flop beside the detective, whimpering in shock as the chaos overwhelmed his system.

Jim turned his head, becoming aware that the noises Blair was making had turned from pleasure to pain. "Chief?" he asked tentatively, putting a hand on Blair's arm.

Blair's only response was to whimper again and curl up into a fetal position, trying to shield himself from the information bombarding him, unable to cope with the mass of data he was receiving.

Jim frowned in concern, rubbing his hand gently across the singer's arm. "Blair?" he whispered. "What's wrong? Talk to me, buddy."

Blair felt Jim's gentle touch and heard his soothing voice. He focused in on that, instinctively remembering things he had read and theorised about -- the idea that his heightened senses could be grounded by a Guide. He was barely aware of his surroundings, but could feel Jim as an oasis of calm in the maelstrom that surrounded him. He let his senses converge at that oasis and felt some of the pain slowly recede. He uncurled slightly and Jim responded by slowly pulling him into a gentle, full-body hug.

Blair whimpered again, but this time it was as much in pleasure as it was in pain, from the feeling of Jim's body pressed tightly against his own. He remained vaguely aware of Jim's voice keeping up a soothing litany as one hand continued to stroke and soothe him, while the other cradled his head against Jim's chest. Gradually, Jim's presence allowed him to regain control of his senses and reign all of them back to a more normal level.

Blair slowly raised his head from Jim's chest, careful not to dislodge the hand still entangled in his curls. "Thank you," he whispered quietly, his throat feeling as raw as if he had been screaming for hours.

"My pleasure," Jim whispered back. "Although, I'm not really sure what I did or what just happened here."

"My senses just came back on-line," Blair murmured quietly, making Jim strain to catch the words.

"Ohhh!" The word was breathed out on a long-drawn sigh of understanding. "It looked pretty painful," he offered.

"It was, to start with," Blair nodded, managing to ease back a little further and speak in a normal, albeit, quiet tone. "But your presence grounded me. Your touch, your voice soothed me and allowed me to regain control. Jim, I think you're my Guide." Blair looked up at that, not sure what the cop's reaction would be to this news.

To his surprise, Jim was merely nodding, a thoughtful look on his face. "I kind of guessed as much," Jim confessed. "Earlier, before you were awake, I was lying here thinking about things. I think you must be the person that Incacha was referring to, the one who I had to help find their path."

Blair nodded agreement. "I have to agree with you there, Big Guy." He was glad that Jim was dealing with this so well, rather than running screaming from the loft as he had half-feared would happen. It seemed that he had a lot to learn about his new-found Guide and lover.

Just then, both their stomachs rumbled and they laughed at each other a little self-consciously.

"We never did get to that Thai food last night," Jim reminded Blair with a half smile. "So, I figure you owe me a meal, Sandburg."

Blair grinned back at him, starting to feel better and a little more hopeful about the future. "Teddy's does a great breakfast," he suggested.

"Teddy's?" Jim asked. "That place on the corner of Lincoln and Third?"

"That's right," Blair nodded in agreement. "What time is it, anyway?" He turned to peer at the clock on his nightstand. "Eleven thirty," he said, turning back to Jim. "We could make it an all-day breakfast," he offered.

"That sounds great, Chief," Jim said with a smile. "Do you mind if we stop at my place on the way, so that I can change into some fresh clothes? I don't want to wear those all day." He pointed with a grimace to the clothes he had worn the night before to the club.

"Sure, man," Blair said, finally letting go of Jim to roll out of bed. "Do you want to shower here or at your place?"

Jim looked up from his contemplation of Blair's naked form. "Huh?" he asked intelligently.

"Jim, try and focus a second," Blair laughed, pulling a robe around himself. "Shower here or at your place?"

"I guess I might as well wait till I get to my place," he said.

"Okay. I won't be long, then," Blair said. He headed for a door, which Jim had guessed the previous evening concealed the bathroom, and Jim rolled out of bed, too.

While Blair disappeared into the shower, Jim quickly threw on his clothes, pulling a face as he did so, then crossed over to Blair's kitchen to make coffee. As the coffee brewed, he went into the living room and picked up the book that Blair had shown him the night before. He flipped through 'The Sentinels of Paraguay' trying to distract himself from the sounds of his lover singing in the shower. Blair's singing reminded him of the previous night at the club, and of what had happened between them in the dressingroom afterwards.... He shook himself from his memories. That wasn't what he needed right now. A repeat performance would mean they'd never get out of Blair's apartment and, appealing as that sounded to Jim, he knew they couldn't stay indoors forever. They had to face reality sooner or later. And sooner was probably better, in this case, than later.

True to his word, Blair was ready thirty minutes later and they set out for Jim's apartment. As they rode down in the elevator, the two men stood close together, not quite touching.

"What's that awful smell?" Blair suddenly asked, wrinkling his nose in distaste.

Jim sniffed the air. "I don't smell anything."

Blair pinched his nose and gave a cry as he sagged against Jim. "Oh god, surely you can smell that."

Jim put an arm around Blair's waist to support him, still sniffing, trying to figure out what Blair was smelling, but Jim couldn't detect any odor strong enough to spark this reaction in his lover.

The singer's eyes were starting to water and he had one hand clamped across his nose in an attempt to filter out the smell. Just then, the elevator reached the ground floor and the door opened with a ding. Jim guided Blair from the elevator and towards the front door, hoping that fresh air would help. As they neared the entrance to the building, he became aware of a smell himself -- blood. Fresh blood. He wrinkled his own nose in disgust and hurried Blair out through the door into the open air.

Once outside, he held onto his lover as Blair drew in heaving lungfuls of air, panting as he tried to get rid of the awful smell. Eventually, Blair was able to stand upright again and calm his breathing.

"Are you okay?" Jim asked anxiously, still keeping a hand on Blair's shoulder. At Blair's nod, Jim continued, "All right. You wait right here, then, while I try and find out where the smell was coming from."

"Caretaker," Blair said, sounding hoarse.

"What?" Jim turned back, having started to go back towards the entrance to the building.

Blair coughed, trying to clear his throat. "The smell was coming from Pete's place. He's the caretaker of the building, the only one who has a place on the ground floor."

Jim nodded his understanding and turned to hurry into the building, breathing shallowly through his mouth to try and counteract the coppery smell of blood. When he got into the building, he went to the door of the apartment, which stood slightly ajar. He pushed the door open with the toe of his shoe, allowing him to see just inside the apartment. A body lay in plain sight on the floor, blood all around it. Jim went no further. Instead, he used his handkerchief to pull the door closed again and reached into his pocket for his cell phone, already regretting the fact that his day off was blown. 'So much for breakfast with Blair,' he thought morosely. Cell phone in hand, he walked back outside to Blair as he dialled the number for his boss, Captain Wilson.

Blair was leaning against the wall of the apartment building, eyes closed when Jim returned.

"Are you okay, Chief?" Jim asked as he reached the singer.

Blair opened his eyes and nodded.

"I spoke to my boss and he's on his way with the Forensics teams and backup," Jim explained.

"Was it Pete?"

"Huh?" Blair's non-sequitur threw Jim momentarily. "Oh. I don't know. What does he look like?"

"About my age, short black hair, slim build, probably your height."

Jim nodded. "Sounds like the guy."

"Why would anyone want to kill Pete?" Blair asked plaintively. "He was a nice guy; not too clever, but really good whenever anything needed fixing around the building. Everyone here really liked him, including Mr Carmichael, the building's owner."

"I wish I could tell you, Chief." Jim put his arm around his lover, trying to comfort him. "I promise we'll do everything we can to find out who did this to him, Blair." He placed a kiss on the curls under his chin, then drew back reluctantly as he heard the sound of approaching sirens.

Blair watched from his position against the wall as Jim assumed what Blair immediately labelled his 'cop' persona, becoming brisk and business-like as he interacted with his Captain and the other personnel who had arrived on the scene. Blair was introduced briefly as "a friend of Jim's" who lived in the building. Captain Wilson shook hands in a no-nonsense manner and Blair got the impression he had been thoroughly sized up in the few seconds of discourse between them. Then Jim was leading them inside to show them the body and Blair was left to his own devices.

As Jim and his Captain passed through the door into the building slightly ahead of the other PD personnel, Blair heard a remark he clearly shouldn't have been able to and was sure that if the good Captain had known that Blair could hear it, there was no way he would have made it.

"So, Jimmy, if that's your latest boy-toy, you've certainly gone up in the world." The voice was mocking and ironic, but Blair couldn't detect any hint of negativity to the tone. If anything, Wilson sounded faintly jealous.

Jim's only response was to say in a polite tone, "The body's just over here, sir."

Blair considered that remark as he let their voices fade out, once they started to discuss the body and the murder scene. It didn't bother him, being thought of that way, he'd heard far worse in the past, but he wondered just who the Captain was jealous of -- him or Jim? He shivered slightly and wrapped his arms around himself. This was even worse than when he'd been forced to shoot Alex Barnes. He closed his eyes again and started a calming chant in his head to try and soothe his troubled soul. He felt himself slip into a light meditative trance and began to focus his thoughts on Jim, zeroing in on the Detective's heartbeat, in the same way he had learned to detect Naomi's after his senses had first come online.

There was a lot that he and Jim needed to discuss, and preferably sooner rather than later. He wanted to hear all about Jim's experiences in Peru, the Shaman Incacha and the man, Nanto, that Jim thought might have been a Sentinel. They also had to talk about what it meant for Jim to be Blair's Guide, not to mention their burgeoning relationship.

The sound of Jim's heartbeat coming closer alerted Blair to his Guide's approach and he slowly roused himself from his meditation, opening his eyes enough to watch the Detective approach. Whatever else happened, he couldn't find it in himself to regret what they had already shared. He was hopeful that they would be sharing a lot more in the future, too.

"Blair." Jim said the name softly, unsure exactly what the singer was doing or if he was disturbing him.

A heart-stoppingly brilliant smile was directed at Jim from smoky blue eyes. "Detective," Blair purred in a silky tone, his smile turning seductive and predatory as he heard Jim's heartbeat speed up and his temperature skyrocket from the single word out of Blair's mouth.

Jim gasped, then looked around wildly, sure that everyone in the vicinity must have heard him. No one was paying them any attention, though, and he turned back to Blair, just in time to see him lick his lips, making Jim's pulse race. "Jeezus, Sandburg!" he groaned. "I'm supposed to be working, here. Have mercy."

Blair gave a low chuckle, enjoying the power he had over the big Detective. "I heard that little comment your Captain made. Who's he jealous of -- you or me?"

"Shit!" Jim hissed. "Not now, Chief. Okay?"

Blair pouted, an action that was guaranteed not to cool Jim's libido.

"I'm sorry, Blair." Jim caressed the singer's hair briefly. "Wilson wants me to bring you to the station so you can make a statement. Can you do that?"

Blair sighed and got serious. "Of course I can, Jim." He ran a hand down Jim's arm. "I guess this means our day is shot to hell?"

"Yeah, I'm afraid so," Jim sighed. "I'm really sorry."

"Not your fault, Jim. I guess we should go get this over with?"

Jim nodded and led the way to his truck, which was parked in a guest space at the side of the building.

Once they were en route to the precinct, Blair wasted no time in asking the question that had been bothering him since Jim had announced he was supposed to take Blair's statement. "Will you be working this case, Jim?"

Jim gave him a quick sideways glance, then concentrated on his driving again. "Why would you ask?"

Blair sighed. "Because here you are babysitting me, while the body's still back there." A thumb pointed backwards to indicate the general direction of Blair's apartment building.

"I saw everything I needed to at the scene, Chief," Jim explained. "Some of the other officers will canvass the neighbours. Forensics are on the scene to deal with the body. Captain Wilson decided that, since I already know you and you're considered a high-profile individual, still, in Cascade society, I should stick with you for now."

"I'm nobody," Blair said dismissively.

Jim turned to look at Blair again as they stopped at a red light. "Well, it seems that my boss disagrees. And as he is my boss, I do what he says." This last was said with an air of finality, and Jim turned his attention back to the road again as the light changed to green. They rode the rest of the way in silence.

Jim parked his truck in his usual spot in the PD parking garage. Switching off the engine, he turned to look at his passenger. Blair was slumped in his seat, head resting on the window next to him, eyes closed. His face was marked by a number of pain lines and Jim felt a pang of emotion, that he was reluctant to identify, as he looked at the beautiful man sitting next to him. He reached out and put a hand on the singer's shoulder. "Blair," he said quietly.

Blair opened his eyes and looked at Jim. "We there?"

Jim nodded. "Are you feeling okay? How are your senses doing?"

Blair closed his eyes again to consider the question, taking internal stock of himself. Jim waited patiently, giving the other man the time he needed. "Everything is too high," he finally said.

"Can't you turn it off or down or something?" Jim asked, concerned and frustrated with his inability to do anything to help.

Blair turned to look at Jim, surprised by the depth of emotion in the Detective's face and voice as he sat studying him in dim light of the parking garage. He thought for a moment, chewing his lower lip as he did so. "I can't turn them off," he explained. "It doesn't really work like that."

"You said they went away before," Jim reminded him.

"That was different," Blair told him. "Besides, it happened over a period of time, rather than all at once."

Jim nodded. "I'll take your word for it, Chief, but is there anything you can do to control the input in some way?"

Blair's face resumed it's thoughtful expression. "There was one thing that I read in Burton's book," he said hesitantly. "It might just work."

"Go on," Jim encouraged.

"Okay. He suggested that the senses could be turned up or down at will, when the Sentinel had control over them. The only thing was, he didn't say how to do that. He's very vague most of the time about any specifics dealing with the senses." Blair turned to face Jim. "I don't suppose you learned anything from the Chopec that might help, did you?"

Jim shook his head. "No. Unfortunately, Incacha wasn't willing to go into a lot of detail about what he did to help Nanto." He paused, remembering something. "Hold on. There was something I heard him discussing with Nanto once. I guess they didn't realise I could understand what they were saying. Incacha didn't know I picked up Quecha as quickly as I did. Incacha asked Nanto what level his sight was at, then he asked him if he could turn it up any higher." Jim frowned. "Could you try changing the level by... I don't know... imagining buttons, maybe... like on a remote control... turning them up and down? Like a volume button?"

Blair looked thoughtful. "I guess so." He closed his eyes and pictured the volume button on his TV remote, imagined pressing it down and watching the indicator on his TV screen getting shorter and shorter, imagined turning down his hearing in the same manner. Amazingly, it seemed to work. Blair could no longer hear every tiny sound. He felt himself relax and the headache he hadn't realized he'd had receded.

Jim watched impatiently, one hand still on Blair's arm. "Well?"

Blair gave him a huge grin. "It worked!" he said excitedly. "My hearing is only just above normal, now."

Jim couldn't help himself, he pulled Blair to him and hugged him hard. Blair laughed and returned the embrace enthusiastically, holding on until Jim pulled back slightly. "Now, try the others," Jim suggested.

Blair remained in the circle of Jim's arms and closed his eyes again. One by one, he worked on turning his other senses down, as well, shortening the indicators in his head for each one until he had all of his senses at a level slightly above normal. Finally done, he opened his eyes with a sigh and sagged against Jim.

"How do you feel?" Jim asked him anxiously.

Blair looked up and smiled. "A lot better," he answered gratefully. Then he tilted his head up and met Jim's lips in a kiss. "Thank you."

Jim smiled. "Glad to be of service."

"Shouldn't we be going?" Blair asked, sitting up and pulling out of Jim's embrace, suddenly remembering where they were and why they were there.

Jim sighed. "I guess so," he agreed. He opened his door and slid out of the truck. "I wish we could just blow this off and get out of here," he told Blair as he walked around the truck to join the singer.

Blair slipped one of his hands into Jim's and squeezed it briefly, then let go again. "Me, too," he agreed. "But I want to do whatever I can to help you find out who killed Pete. He didn't deserve to die like that. He never hurt anyone."

Jim patted Blair on the back briefly. "I know, Chief. But don't worry. We'll do everything we can to find out who did this and put a stop to them ever hurting anyone else."

"Thanks, Jim," Blair smiled up at the Detective as they walked to the elevator side by side.

Several hours later, Blair was wishing that they had in fact played hooky and never gone into the PD. He gave a heavy sigh and picked up the bottle of beer he'd been sipping on and off for the past hour, fiddling with a corner of the label. He carefully cast out his hearing to try and find Jim, still uncertain about his mastery of the imaginary control levers he had established for his newly re-emerged senses. He located the Detective's heartbeat easily enough, and decided Jim was in the kitchen. Turning up the level of his hearing a bit more, he realised that the other man was talking to someone on the phone -- most likely his back-up, which was in another house about a mile away.

Absently, Blair turned his hearing back down again, and went back to musing on the afternoon from hell. Jim had taken him to a conference room to formally record his statement, but almost immediately, Captain Wilson had arrived with the news that the murder of Pete Glover was not as straightforward as it had first seemed. When they had moved the caretaker's body, a note had dropped out of his pants leg, addressed to Blair. It had simply said 'I know where you are, Sandburg'. That note was enough to get the homicide transferred to the Major Crime department, which worried Blair. He knew that he needed to be with Jim if he was to have any chance of maintaining his fledging control of his newly-reactivated senses. It seemed his worries were going to be realised when Joel Taggert, the big, black teddy-bear of a man who ran Major Crime immediately informed Blair that he wanted the singer to go into protective custody. So Blair did something that he had never done before, and exercised his supposed celebrity status.

"I'll go on one condition," he announced to the roomful of men who loomed around him, discussing his protection as though he were a thing rather than a person. Jim had hovered at the back of the room, near the windows, trying to remain unnoticed and obviously not planning on leaving until he was told to do so.

"What's your condition, Mr Sandburg?" Taggert asked.

"That Detective Ellison is the one to guard me. I don't know anyone else here, but him I know I can trust."

Wilson, who had also remained in the conference room, despite having no real reason to do so, immediately protested. "This is not Ellison's case..." he started to say.

"Nor is it yours," Taggert immediately reminded him, in a quiet tone which nevertheless commanded attention.

That had been enough. Wilson had left, muttering threats and imprecations under his breath, but unable to do anything. Taggert had then turned back to Blair. "I have no problem with meeting your condition, Mr Sandburg, providing Detective Ellison doesn't mind."

Blair had immediately turned to Jim, who was still standing by the windows, arms crossed over his chest. As Blair had suspected Jim hadn't been able to resist the pleading look directed his way. He uncrossed his arms and nodded his head. "I'll do it."

Taggert nodded too, then turned back to Blair. "We have a safe house we can take you to, Mr Sandburg."

"Um, not to be a nuisance, Captain, but..." Blair fell silent, seeing the glances being directed at him by the other detectives in the room, getting the impression none of them liked him a great deal and that they did indeed think he was a nuisance.

"Mr Sandburg?" Taggert prompted.

"I have a house on the beach road," Blair explained. "It's isolated, nobody knows about it. I'm sure that I'll be safe there, with Detective Ellison looking after me."

"That sounds reasonable to me, sir," Jim said. "My brother has a house on the beach road, the back up could stay there."

"That works for me," Taggert said.

Blair grinned to himself, loving the fact that he had these men doing what he wanted. Maybe being a celebrity wasn't such a bad thing after all. Then he remembered why he was here and doing this and the grin dissolved like morning mist. If it wasn't for the fact that he'd been a celebrity, then he wouldn't be here, wouldn't be needing to go and hide out on the beach in November. Instead he could be going home with Jim and spending the day lazing around together, preferably in bed.

Once the decision had been made, it hadn't taken long for Jim and Blair to get on the road to the house. They had made a brief stop for Jim to collect some clothes from his apartment, Blair explaining that anything he might need was already at the beach house as he kept spare clothes there all the time, ready for whenever he might feel the need to get away from the city for a while.

So now Blair found himself sat in the master bedroom, looking out on a rain and wind-swept beach, waiting for Jim to come upstairs and talk to him. Jim had put his clothes into an adjoining bedroom, for appearance's sake, just in case the back up came to the house. But Blair was hoping that it wouldn't come to that. Working together, if only subconsciously, he and Jim had arranged it so that they could be alone together in the house. Blair was pretty sure that it wasn't SOP in these cases to have your back up in another house, especially when it turned out Jim's brother's house was a mile further up the road, closer to the city than Blair's house. But Blair had been adamant, and Captain Taggert had been surprisingly accommodating in his acquiescence to Blair's demands, making Blair wonder if perhaps the big man was a fan. Blair shook his head, dismissing the irrelevant thoughts and sighed deeply. God how he wished all this was over.

"Penny for them, Chief?"

Blair turned slowly from the view out the window, infinitely preferring the view in his bedroom. He smiled slowly in appreciation. "I heard you coming," he said in satisfaction.

"Not yet, Chief, but soon I hope." The wicked look that accompanied Jim's words made Blair moan and sway towards the Detective. Jim made him so hot, so quickly, that Blair marvelled he hadn't just spontaneously combusted at the mere sight of the man. Once they had arrived at the house and got settled in, Jim had finally had the chance to have the shower he'd been wanting for most of the day. He then went straight downstairs to check out the rest of the house again more thoroughly, before checking in with his back up. Consequently, Blair hadn't seen him since before the shower, nor had he seen the clothes that Jim had changed into afterwards.

But he was certainly getting an eyeful, now, Blair thought to himself dizzily as his dick got harder and stood to attention at the sight of the man in front of him. He looked positively sinful in jeans that were just a little too tight and threadbare, suggesting they were the sort of thing Jim would reserve for lounging around his home on weekends. They also were obviously being worn commando, making Jim's package bulge interestingly as he watched Blair watching him. To go with the jeans, Jim wore a plain white tank shirt which was pulled tight across his chest, making his nipples stand out underneath the thin cotton material. Blair moaned deep in his throat at the sight, as well as the waves of lust he seemed to be able to smell coming off of his protector. He almost threw himself across the room at Jim, glad when the Detective caught him in hard, strong arms, holding Blair tightly against his chest, while the singer nuzzled at the skin next to his mouth.

They stood there, just clinging together for several minutes, not even kissing, just panting harshly as they heaved in breath, sounding like they had just finished a marathon of some sort, either athletic or sexual. They were caught in the sudden strength of emotions each was feeling, wondering where the maelstrom had come from, and how to react to it.

Finally, Jim gently eased Blair back from the crushing embrace, allowing him to look down into the singer's face. "Blair, I - I don't know how to say this," he said haltingly, stumbling over the words. Blair looked up at him trustingly, his face full of something that gave Jim hope and the courage to finish what he was trying to say. "I think I love you."

The brilliant smile that radiated from Blair in response to Jim's words threatened to blind the Detective with it's nuclear intensity. Reaching up, Blair briefly pressed his lips to Jim's. Then he dropped back down again. "The feeling's mutual, Big Guy, and it's definitely love," he said.

It was Jim's turn for a blinding smile and he lifted Blair backwards onto the bed that was close behind them. Bearing them both down onto their sides facing each other, he kissed Blair hard and long, until they were both dizzy from lack of oxygen and laughing at each other in surprise and delight. They spent long minutes kissing deeply, revelling in having the time to indulge their passion and mutual need for exploration. When they paused to gasp in breath, they would remove an item of clothing, until they were both finally naked and thrusting against each other, enjoying the friction created by slick sweat on their skins. Finally, they shuddered their way to a mutually satisfying climax.

The two men lay wrapped tightly together in the afterglow of orgasm, enjoying the feelings of closeness. Jim turned his head to nuzzle at Blair's curls, while Blair placed small, gentle kisses against Jim's chest.

"So, Chief, what's the deal with this guy who stalked you before?"

Blair frowned at the unexpected question, and the way that Jim's heartbeat was elevated. The question was obviously one that bothered the Detective for some reason. "Why are you asking that now, man?"

"Well, you didn't really say a lot this afternoon back at the station, when Captain Taggert asked you about it. This could be the same guy who's going after you again now. Anything you can tell us could help nail this guy."

Blair pulled back now to look at Jim. "There really is nothing to tell. As I said before, he sent me presents and letters and stuff, but never actually approached me. The Chicago PD could never find out who he was and then I came back to Cascade and that was it, he seemed to be gone."

"That's it?" Jim asked. "What did they do to try and find this guy, anyway?"

"Jim!" Blair protested. "Do we have to talk about this right now? Way to ruin the afterglow, man."

"I'm sorry, Blair, it's just that I don't like the idea of this crazy lunatic running around out there trying to kill you."

"Well, if we're going to talk, let's do it over dinner, huh? I've starving, man, and you still owe me a conversation about your past." As if to prove Blair's point, his stomach rumbled loudly, making Jim laugh.

"Well, you still owe me a meal, Sandburg, so if you cook, I'll talk. Deal?"

Blair bounced out of bed eagerly. "Sure man, I can even give you the Thai meal I promised you, I have all the right ingredients in the cupboard." He grabbed up his jeans and slid them on, not bothering with underwear. Turning to pick up his T-shirt, he found himself in the arms of his Guide.

"How are your senses doing in all of this, Chief?" Jim asked, tipping up Blair's chin to look into his eyes with concern.

"So long as you're around, they're fine, Jim," Blair reassured him, pressing a kiss to the Detective's lips. "We do need to discuss the future though."

Jim nodded agreement. "I know, Blair," he said seriously. "But let's get this guy caught first and then we can deal with that other business, okay?"

Blair nodded in his turn, as his stomach rumbled again. "Man, we have got to eat," he said with a chuckle.

Jim laughed as well and turned to finish dressing. "So what are you going to cook for me then, Emeril?" he asked.

Blair led the way down to the kitchen. "How about Pad Thai?" he suggested. "I also have that very traditional Thai dish Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey for dessert."

Jim moaned appreciatively. "Sounds great, Chief. Do you have beer?"

Blair chuckled, a husky note to his voice which warmed Jim's heart and made his dick sit up and take notice. "Is the Pope Catholic?"

"That's a trick question, right?" Jim teased, enjoying this easy bantering between the two of them, thinking he'd never been this relaxed with a lover before, especially not someone he had known for such a short space of time.

Blair rummaged in the large silver fridge in a corner of the kitchen. The beach house was totally unlike his apartment in Cascade, being furnished with older items and having a fairly rustic appearance. Jim loved it.

"Dos Equis," he said, suddenly popping back into Jim's view.

"Thai food, American ice cream, Mexican beer," Jim said. "How international of you."

"Hey, anthropology background, remember?" Blair said. "I take the best from every culture, whether it's food or drink or..." He let his voice trail off suggestively.

"Or what?" Jim raised his eyebrows questioningly.

"Whatever, man." Blair smiled seductively and turned to the cupboards to start gathering equipment and ingredients for dinner.

"Tease." Jim said it affectionately, settling on a stool in front of the breakfast bar with his bottle of beer to watch Blair cook, fascinated by this aspect of the man he had fallen in love with.

"So tell me about Peru, Jim," Blair suggested as he started to prepare the meal.

Jim shrugged. "A lot of what happened is still classified," he told Blair. "But the basics are that I was on a mission with seven other men when our chopper was shot down. I was the only survivor." Blair made a soft sound of distress at that and Jim paused for a moment, remembering those men, then continued. "I was taken in by the Chopec, the tribe in that region, and they helped me survive. I spent the next eighteen months there, carrying out my mission, until another Ranger unit was sent in and they took me home."

"Now who's being cryptic about his past?" Blair asked, watching Jim fiddle with his beer bottle and sensing the turmoil and pain the story had stirred up in his lover.

Jim looked up at him with serious eyes. "I prefer not to remember that time," he said.

"I'm sorry." Blair put down the knife he was holding and went round the counter to hug Jim. "I didn't mean to stir up painful memories."

Jim returned the hug easily. "It's okay," he reassured the other man. "It's just that I've tried to put that time behind me and go on with my life. It wasn't until you told me about your senses that I even remembered Incacha and Nanto and what Incacha had told me about guiding someone."

Blair ran his fingers through Jim's short brown hair. "I understand trying to forget things," he said with a self-deprecating laugh. "Just look at me and my senses. But anything that you can remember about things that you saw or heard between Incacha and Nanto might be helpful to us, here, in our relationship as Sentinel and Guide."

"I'll think about it some more and try to remember," Jim promised, bringing Blair's mouth to his for a kiss.

"Easy, tough guy." Blair broke the kiss with a reluctant sigh. "Let's have dinner first, okay, recover some energy."

Jim pulled back equally reluctantly. "I hear that," he said.

Blair looked at him in surprise.

"What?" Jim demanded.

"That's one of the things my mom says all the time," Blair explained. "I never expected you to say something like that, though."

Jim shrugged. "It's something I remember a friend's mom saying a lot," he offered. "I guess it just seemed appropriate in the circumstances."

Blair hummed his agreement and returned to his cooking. Jim's cell phone ringing broke the momentary silence.

"Ellison," Jim listened to the voice on the other end of his phone, while Blair deliberately didn't turn up his hearing enough to be able to listen to both sides of the conversation. "Really?" The sharp note in Jim's voice caught Blair's attention and he watched Jim intently, still resisting the urge to listen in. Jim spoke again. "We'll be there as soon as we can sir," he said, then switched the phone off.

"What is it?" Blair asked immediately.

"You didn't listen in?"

"No, man, that was a private call, none of my business," Blair protested.

"Well, in this instance, it is your business," Jim said. "They just caught some guy in your apartment and have him downtown at the Precinct. That was Taggert on the phone. He wants me to bring you down there to see if you recognise this guy as he claims to know you."

"Did you get a name?" Blair asked as he turned off the stove and put a few things back into the fridge to ensure they didn't spoil.

"Guy said his name is David Lewis," Jim replied, going to collect their jackets from the coat stand by the door.

Blair shook his head as Jim helped him into his coat. "I don't know anyone by that name," he said.

"Okay, we'll sort it out when we get there," Jim told him.

Forty-five minutes later, they were back in the PD parking garage.

"You ready for this?" Jim asked Blair, looking at the singer in the dim light of the garage.

Blair nodded. "Let's go," he replied, determined expression in place. "Maybe if this is the guy who killed Pete, we can get this over with and get on with our lives."

Jim took one of Blair's hands in his and quickly squeezed it before releasing it again. "I hope so, Chief."

They rode up in the elevator to Major Crime in silence, standing behind several other passengers. Once in the Major Crime bullpen, they were immediately greeted by Joel Taggert and led to his office.

"Thank you for coming in, Mr Sandburg," the Captain was saying as they sat at the conference table in his office and accepted cups of coffee.

"What can you tell us about what happened, Captain?" Blair asked. "I didn't realise you were going to be keeping my apartment under some sort of surveillance."

Taggert nodded. "I know we didn't spell that out to you, Mr Sandburg, but it is standard procedure in a case like this to keep the residence of the victim of a stalking under observation even if the resident is elsewhere in protective custody, as you were. I've had patrols going past regularly throughout today and around an hour ago, they reported seeing a light coming from your apartment. Knowing that no-one was supposed to be in there, I had my detectives go in and apprehend the intruder. He gave his name as David Lewis and claimed to be a friend of yours from Seattle."

"I don't know anyone by that name," Blair said immediately.

Taggert nodded his understanding. "Okay, but we'd like you to take a look at him anyway, to see if you recognise him, please."

"Sure," Blair agreed.

"We have him in an interrogation room so you'll be able to see him through the two-way mirror, but he won't be aware that you are there observing him," the Captain explained as he led Blair out through another door in his office and into the corridor. Jim followed along behind, having no intention of leaving Blair alone, even if they were in a police station.

Once in the interrogation room, Blair stepped forward to look through the glass at the man in the other room. The figure that sat slumped over the battered table was no-one he recognised and he said as much to the Captain.

"Okay, thank you for that, Mr Sandburg," Taggert said.

"So what happens now?" Blair asked him.

"I have a team searching his address right now and depending on the outcome of that search, someone will then question him some more and find out exactly what's going on," Taggert explained.

"Can we stay?" Blair looked from Jim to the Captain. "I'd like to know what's going on here."

"I don't think that's a good idea, Blair," Jim said. "We should go back to the beach house for tonight and the Captain can update us in the morning on what's happened."

Taggert was nodding his agreement as Jim spoke. "It's better if you stay away, Mr Sandburg, just in case this isn't the man we're looking for. The less exposed you are, the better."

Just as Blair was about to protest, a knock sounded at the door and another man came in.

"Sorry to interrupt, sir," the man said.

"What is it, Rafe?" Taggert asked the smartly-dressed man.

"We just got word from the team searching Lewis' address," Rafe explained. "They just found a whole load of material about Mr Sandburg. Boxes full of photos, newspaper clippings, CDs, videos, letters." He paused for breath.

"And?" Taggert asked.

"And they also found a bloody knife in a drawer in the bedroom," Rafe said. "Dan Wolfe says there's a high probability it's the murder weapon used on the caretaker."

"All right, Rafe, thank you," Taggert dismissed the man with a nod.

Jim stepped forward as soon as the Detective had left. "I'd like to question the suspect, please, Captain," he said quietly.

Taggert looked at him thoughtfully for a moment. "I'll allow that," he finally said. "But one of my men will be with you during the questioning."

"Yes sir." Jim nodded, having expected nothing else.

"Mr Sandburg, I think it would be best if you waited in my office," Taggert said then.

"But..." Blair started to protest.

"It's for the best, Chief, believe me," Jim said, laying a hand on Blair's shoulder. "This could get ugly."

"I want to know why he did this," Blair said.

"I know you do," Jim said. "And I promise I'll tell you what I can afterwards, but you really don't need to see this going down."

"Okay," Blair agreed reluctantly.

"Come with me, please, Mr Sandburg," Taggert said. "I'll send Rafe back to sit in with you during the questioning, Ellison."

Jim nodded absently, watching Blair leave the room.

An hour later and it was all over. Jim knelt on the floor in front of the couch in Taggert's office, gently waking up Blair, who lay covered by an old blanket, sleeping deeply.

"Blair, sweetheart, wake up," he whispered, softly kissing the singer's forehead.

"Wha?" Blair opened his eyes and looked groggily at Jim.

"That's it, buddy, just sit up." Jim helped him sit upright.

"Jim! What happened?" Blair was suddenly wide awake as memory flooded back.

"He confessed everything, Chief," Jim said, slipping into the seat next to Blair and encouraging the Sentinel to lean against him.

"Everything?" Blair asked, confused.

"He admitted to stalking you back in Chicago and Pete's murder and that he had recently started watching you again," Jim explained.

Blair was glad to have Jim's warmth and bulk to sag against. "Oh," was all he managed to say. "So what happens now?"

"Now, we go home to bed," Jim said, with an exaggerated leer.

"No, dummy," Blair slapped an arm for emphasis. "With this David Lewis guy, I mean."

Jim shrugged. "With any luck they throw his ass in jail for a hell of a long time."

Blair nodded solemnly. "Works for me, man," he said. "Now about this bed thing?"

"What about it, Chief?" Jim asked, smiling at him.

"Can we go back to your place? Only I really don't have the energy to go back to the beach house tonight."

"Sure thing, if that's what you want," Jim said amiably.

"Well, there's no way I feel up to going back to my apartment, and I'm not keen on getting a motel room," Blair explained.

"I don't have a problem with going back to my place, Blair," Jim said patiently.

Blair stood up and stretched. "Let's go then, man," he said, tugging Jim to his feet.

"Eager aren't you?" Jim said with a laugh.

"I'm tired, man, and hungry and I wouldn't mind a shower either."

"Well, I think I can help you deal with those problems, Chief," Jim smiled, and putting an arm around Blair's shoulders he led him to the door.

They stopped at a late night diner to pick up some food on the way to Jim's loft apartment. Once there, Blair accepted Jim's offer of a shower before they ate. He couldn't stop yawning and considered himself lucky not to fall over and knock himself out as he got clean. When he left the bathroom, Jim had the food laid out on the table, along with some bottled water.

"This looks great, Jim, thanks." Blair slipped into the seat next to Jim at the table.

"My pleasure." Jim smiled at Blair as he took his first mouthful of food.

"We need to talk about the future," Blair said a few minutes later, as he came up for air, his plate half empty.

"In what context?" Jim asked.

"In an 'us' context," Blair said. "If we're going to be together, not just as lovers, but as Sentinel and Guide, there are things we need to discuss."

Jim played with the salad still on his plate. "Does this mean you want there to be an us?" he asked, suddenly feeling insecure.

Blair laid a hand over Jim's stilling his fork. "What we said earlier, at the beach. I don't say things like that lightly. I want us to be together."

"I want that too, Blair," Jim said. "But how can I help you with your senses if I'm working all day? You can't spend all your life shut up in that apartment of yours."

"Well, I did have an idea about that, actually," Blair admitted.

Jim stood up and carried their plates over to the sink. "What idea?" he asked, finally, turning to lean against the counter and look at Blair who was watching him closely.

"Remember how I told you that I studied anthropology and was still studying via the Internet?"

Jim nodded, remembering that conversation, shocked to realise that it had taken place less than 24 hours ago. His life seemed to have turned upside down since the first time he had seen Blair in that jazz club. A hand on his arm surprised him.

"Are you okay, Jim?" He looked down into concerned eyes which were as blue as the Caribbean.

"I'm fine," he managed to say, suddenly feeling breathless. "Just remembering."

Blair's face lit up at that. "Yeah man, it's been kind of a wild ride, hasn't it?"

"It sure has, Chief," Jim agreed. He steered them both to sit on the couch. "So what was this idea of yours then?"

Blair smiled and happily snuggled into Jim's side. "I'm thinking about training as a profiler. Do you think your department could use someone like that?"

"Probably not in Homicide," Jim said. "But Taggert did ask me today to consider a transfer to Major Crime. They would be more likely to want a profiler because they get all the big cases, like serial killers as well as the more political cases."

"So, if I can convince Captain Taggert that he needs a profiler, then we would be working together in the same department," Blair said enthusiastically.

"Yeah, but I wouldn't have seniority in that department," Jim cautioned. "Plus, you'd have to work on whatever cases you were needed on -- there's no guarantee that we would be working together. You could even get loaned to other departments."

Blair sighed. "I get that Jim, but at least we'd be together most of the time and I could be a real help at crime scenes, sniffing out stuff that the Forensics people couldn't find."

"Wouldn't Forensic Anthropology be a better choice?" Jim asked. "There would be more chance of us working together then. A profiler wouldn't really be expected to go to crime scenes in the same way that a Forensic Anthropologist would."

Blair looked at Jim in interest at that suggestion. "How come you know so much about it?"

"I actually dated someone who was a Forensic Anthropologist," he said with a shrug.

"Really? That's so cool!" Blair enthused.

"Steady on, Chief," Jim said with a chuckle. "Do you think it's an idea worth considering?"

"Definitely man," Blair said. "I'll do some research on the Net tomorrow, see what I can come up with and talk to some people over at Rainier."

Jim pulled Blair onto his lap. "Great, Chief," he murmured "Now come here and kiss me."

Blair laughed at that, voice deep with arousal as he lifted his lips to Jim's. "I can get with that program," he said, then any further words were swallowed by Jim's tongue pressing into his mouth and all thoughts of the future vanished for both of them in the reconnection of their physical bond.

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