"So, how did you know it was me?"
Jim sighed as his guide pestered him for the millionth time. He walked into the kitchen to retrieve a beer, one of his favorites. He frequently had to be on guard against zoning when drinking one, but he felt it was a small price to pay for such incredible depth of taste.
"Look, I just knew it was you, okay, Chief?" he muttered as he headed back towards the living room, intent on mellowing out on the couch. He did not want to discuss this.
"No, Jim, really. I wanna know, how did you know it was me?" Blair nagged, following his sentinel back to the couch and plopping down beside him.
Ellison groaned, letting his head flop back onto the cushions. "Sandburg, let it go!"
"Why? You found me in a crowd of, like, over a couple hundred! You were all the way on the other side of the mall and didn't even know where I was gonna be! Not only that, but you showed up just as I was getting harassed by that jock. How did you know?"
"Because I could hear you, alright?!" the older man snapped, then grimaced. He took a swig of beer and glanced away, automatically rolling the liquid in his mouth to savor the taste before swallowing.
Blair was gaping at him, slack-jawed and silent. That didn't last long, much to Jim's regret.
"You heard me? From the other side of the mall? Way cool, man! What was it, the conversation, or my voice, or-"
"It was your heart." Jim began picking at the label on the beer bottle. "That's what clued me in first."
Sandburg blinked. "My ... my heart? What about it?"
"It started beating harder, with that angry beat that you sometimes get. Except it was nervous, too. It wasn't going thump-thump normal, it was going KA-thump hyper. Your heart has different beats for different emotions, with different noise levels for the severity of them."
Well, that's done it, the cop thought. Cat's out of the bag now.
Blair was silent for a moment, then asked, "You listen to my heart? Enough to know what's going on because of the difference in the way it beats?"
"Yes." The single word was gritty and grudging and pushed through clenching teeth.
Blair noticed and realized that his friend was reaching his limits, but he just had to know.
"But ... why, man?"
Jim sighed roughly and scrubbed at his forehead with one hand as he thought how to play this. Realizing that he was tired and that Blair would keep nagging at him, he decided he might as well get it over with. He was in for a round of tests just from what he'd already said, anyway.
Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Might as well get something out of the doing, he thought resignedly as he shifted so that he was facing his friend, his face serious.
"Look, it's like this, okay? Pay attention, now. You're my Guide, right? The guy that helps me with my senses, helps me with my job, watches my back. Right? Okay. Well, in order for you to do that, you have to be safe. Ergo, it's my job to keep track of you in order to keep you safe. You thought you were joking when you named me your 'Blessed Protector', weren't you, Short-eyes? Well, guess what: it's not a joke. Not to me. I seem to be hard-wired into looking after your skinny ass. I always hear you; it's an instinctual thing. My ears constantly have the sound of you in them. Got it?"
Blair nodded, awe on his face. "You listen for me all the time? Man, that's just ... so ... nice. Thanks, Jim."
"Yeah, well, don't let it go to your head. It's not like I can turn it off. There are some days I wish I-" Jim bit off the last of his sentence and looked away, again.
Sandburg, however, was by no means stupid. "You wish you could turn it off. That you didn't have to - don't want to - listen for me."
Glancing at his friend, Jim could see the slight hurt that Blair was trying hard, and failing, to hide. Reaching over, he rested a hand on one of Blair's knees, gripping firmly.
"It's not you, Chief," he said, feelingly. "You gotta know that. It's just ... I swear, since I've met you, my rate of hair loss has increased because I'm always checking up on you, worrying about you."
Blair grinned at that. "Oh, please! Don't you dare blame your hair loss on me, Baldi-locks! I'm not that much trouble."
"Wanna bet, Runt Boy?" Ellison teased, lifting his hand to smack the back of it against Blair's cheek. "I'm surprised what little I have left hasn't turned gray yet!"
"Who says it hasn't? I can spot six gray hairs from here!" the younger man sassed back.
Jim let out an "Oh, really?" chuckle and leaned forward to rest his beer on the coffee table.
His guide took that as a hint that it was time to skedaddle.
He didn't even make it off the couch.
For the next few minutes, apartment #307 rang with laughter, curses, squeals, threats, and pleadings for mercy. These, in turn, were mingled with more laughter, shouts, orders, and denials of mercy, as the two men grappled and wrestled and tickled each other on the sofa.
Finally, they were quiet, lying draped over opposite ends of the couch. When Jim got his breath back, he stretched to reach his beer, snagged it, and took a drink, closing his eyes as he relished the taste.
Blair watched him from where he was sprawled and grinned at the look on his friend's face. "You really like that, don't you?"
The older man cracked open an eye, regarded his companion and, a moment later, swallowed the beer. When he was done, he said, "Yeah, I like it. With taste buds like mine, when there's something I really like the taste of, I enjoy it as much and as long as possible."
Sandburg nodded. "I can understand that. Anyway, thanks for explaining to me. I think it's really nice that you use your hearing to keep track of me, that you care enough to do that."
"All of them, actually."
Jim closed his eyes as soon as the words were out of his mouth, wishing them back. Are you insane? Why did you say that?!
Blair sat up like he'd been electrocuted. "What did you say?" he demanded.
"Nothing, Sandburg, just forget it-"
"Ohhh, no! No way, man! This is just too much! I mean, the fact that you use your hearing to keep track of me is amazing, but ... you actually use all of them? Just for me? I don't get it!"
"I don't use all of them - I can't - and what's not to get?" Jim said grumpily.
"One, that you use them on me. And two, why can't you use all of them?" Blair asked, curious.
Ellison frowned as he sat up, too. "Hold it, back up for a moment, Chief. Why are you having a problem with the fact that I use my senses on you, to keep track of you? I just explained that you're my guide, that it's instinctual!"
Blair blushed and looked down at the couch cushions. "Yeah, I guess, it's just kind of ... I mean, come on, Jim. I'm not used to anyone needing me like that. Needing to know I'm safe. That I matter-" He cut himself off, and shrugged. "It's really weird, that's all."
"What, that you matter to someone? To me?"
"Well ... kinda, yeah."
"Of all the looney-tune - why would you think that?!"
"Come on, Jim! This is me, remember? The neo-hippie witchdoctor punk that gets on everybody's nerves! I'm useful for what I can contribute at the time, but otherwise...."
Jim couldn't believe what he was hearing. Realizing his jaw was sagging downwards, he closed it with a snap, then reached out and grabbed hold of his friend's upper arms and gave the younger man a firm shake.
"I do not believe this! Chief ... Blair, I thought you knew better by now! Don't you know you're important to me?"
"Well, sure. I help you with the senses, your paperwork-"
Blair sighed, exasperated. "Then what, Jim? Look, I know we're friends, but-"
"What does that mean to you, Blair?" the sentinel asked, concerned. "What does friendship mean to you? What does our friendship mean to you?"
The younger man opened his mouth to reply, but found he couldn't. Not yet. Frowning slightly, he closed his mouth and thought for a long few minutes.
While he was doing that, Jim loosened his grip a bit and said softly, "Let me tell you what it means to me, Chief. Being your friend, having your friendship, means I'm not alone anymore. My life isn't simply an existence anymore. Before you, I was alone, tired, bored, and feeling like I was missing something. Then you came along. Sure, at first, you were annoying to me because I wasn't used to you. Had never really met anyone like you before. But after a while, you grew on me. And I realized what a really great guy you are, Chief. You became a close friend and I wasn't lonely anymore, or alone. I'm not so tired of everything, because of you. I'm certainly not bored; you take care of that frequently. And that missing feeling? I think that was you."
Blair looked up at his friend and didn't say anything. He didn't have to. Every emotion was parading across his face and through his eyes like a marching band at full volume.
Jim smiled, reaching up to tuck a strand of hair behind one of Blair's ears. "I think I was missing you, Chief. It was gradual, but one day, after I realized how close we'd gotten, I also realized that the missing feeling was gone, and had been for a while. And it was because of you. You were there. And I wasn't missing a thing. I finally had everything I needed. And that, my friend, is what our friendship, our relationship, means to me."
The younger man swallowed hard, blinking quickly, and then he simply fell forward against his partner, wrapping his arms tightly around Jim's back.
Jim returned the gesture and held on as hard as he could, burying his face in his guide's hair, sniffing deeply to get his friend's scent, peace stealing through him as always at the smell of him.
Long moments later, they loosened their hold on each other and sat back slowly, looking at each other.
Blair blushed, gave a shy grin, and wiped at the tiny wet, salty tracks on his cheeks.
Jim smiled fondly and reached up to gently brush his thumbs over said cheeks, his touch light and tender.
Finally, Blair cleared his throat and said, "Okay. So, we've established that we're more than simple 'partners'. We're friends, soul-mates in the truest sense (no pun intended) of the word. Now, answer the other question."
"Which one is that?" Jim asked, letting his hands drop down to his lap.
"Why you can't use all of your senses to keep track of me."
"Oh, that. It's simple, actually. I don't know what you taste like. Scent, hearing, touch, and sight, yes. Taste, no."
"Oh. Well, we can fix that, easily."
"Easy. Kiss me."
Jim froze. A moment later, he peered carefully at his friend. "What ... Blair, what?"
The guide grinned. "Easily fixed, Jim. Kiss me. That's all it should take to learn my taste."
"I ... are you sure?" the sentinel asked, a trifle desperately.
Blair nodded. "Yes. It's the one thing your senses don't know about me. We should correct it. I don't mind. It's you. And I think ... Jim, I think I love you."
Lifting his hand, Jim touched one long finger to one of Blair's blushing cheeks, sensing the increase of heat easily. He swallowed and said, "I think that's possible. I think I feel the same way about you, Chi-Blair."
"So," Jim breathed, and cupped his friend's - no, his mate's - face in his hands. He lowered his own face slowly, carefully, until his mouth was hovering over Blair's. "Ready?"
"Yes. I think I've been ready for years, man," Sandburg whispered back, his breath puffing over Jim's lips.
"Me, too. Now..."
Jim ceased talking and sealed his lips to Blair's, not doing anything more than that for a few moments, simply learning the texture of his friend's lips. The softness and warmth of them, the shape and feel of them. When they parted, allowing moist warmth to escape, Jim took the hint and opened his own lips, letting his tongue slip through to gently trace the outline before politely slipping inside to touch Blair's tongue.
An instant later, he shivered hard and withdrew, lifting his head to look into startled deep blue eyes.
"What? What is it?" Blair asked anxiously.
"You taste good," Jim said, with some surprise.
The younger man smiled. "I'm glad. You like?"
Ellison grinned and nodded. "I like. And do you remember what I said about how I deal with tastes I like?"
"I enjoy as much and as long as possible, Chief. And I'm thinking I've found a new taste I want to get very, very well acquainted with. What do you say?" the older man asked with a teasing grin.
Blair's smile was equal parts desire and affection and amusement as he lifted his arms to wrap them around his friend's neck. "I think that would be a very good idea, Jim."
"We're in a perfect frenzy of agreement, then," Jim said smoothly as he wound his arms around Blair's back.
Then he took his mate's mouth again, delving deeper, staying longer, tasting his guide with great enjoyment and contentment as he gently sucked on Blair's tongue, and took his own on a tour inside the younger man's mouth, tasting and stroking and apparently driving Blair wild if the sudden jerks and whimpers were any indication.
It was a very long time before Jim could bring himself to stop kissing his guide, feeling as though he never, ever wanted to stop.
Blair, to the sentinel's delight, felt the same way.
And the two of them realized that they had begun something very special indeed.
Tell Rogue how you liked it!
Back to Story Index