Under Cover - Liz

Man, I knew better than to stay out this late. The sun went down hours ago, taking all the warmth Cascade had to spare with it, Blair thought miserably, but Daryl needed help with that special History project, and I just couldn't say no to a cross-cultural comparison of recreational practices between the Toltec, Incas, Mayans and Aztec. I wonder what he would've picked if they'd been studying North America? The history of kickball? Blair grinned.

Daryl or no, I've got to be the only insane person outside willingly tonight. Never mind that the Volvo's in the shop and its a billion below. The professor shivered pulling his layers tighter around his slim frame. One more alley and I'll be within sprinting distance, the anthropologist thought, thanking every deity his half-frozen brain could think of that it was only cold and not icy for once.

He ducked between the two buildings, nearing but not giving much attention to the man curled up on an egg-crate mattress among the garbage bags next to the metallic green dumpster. At least he's out of it and not jumping me, not that I have anything *he'd* be interested in on me right now. Something dark scurried across the still form catching Blair's attention. What the hell? Petey's never been that far gone to let the rats use him as a playground. Cautiously the professor crouched before the homeless junkie and tilted the man's head.

Shit! Shit! Shit! Recoiling instantly from the sightless eyes, Blair propelled himself backwards stopping only when his back hit the opposite alley wall. Oh, damn! Blair leaned to the side and lost the contents of his stomach and any thought of food he'd had for the past three weeks. He spit a few times, wiping his mouth on the edge of his scarf, rolling it carefully and shoving it into his jacket pocket, promising himself a trip to the dry cleaners later, much later.

Blair glanced up and down the alley, not a single living person was visible. Of course, Blair thought cynically, there's a dead body here, why would anyone be around. He sighed, poor Petey, he scared the crap out of me, but he didn't deserve whatever got him.

Blair spread his legs a little and leaned into the cold brick at his back, closing his eyes as he took several calming breaths. His brief respite was shattered when the sounds of a heated argument broke out above him followed rapidly by gunfire.

Oh fuck! Blair tried to melt into the bricks behind him. Glancing upward, Blair heard a muffled grunt and was shocked to see a large figure tumble from the roof onto the pile of egg-crate padding. He's got to be a lucky SOB, because I'd have landed in the empty dumpster. Blair steeled himself and re-thanked all the deities he could think of that the man landed away from Petey. Before Blair could get to the fallen man he heard a shrill wail and the pounding of tiny feet.

"Bweah, Bweah, Bweah!"

What the-- Blair didn't get a chance to complete his thought before he had a shivering mass of wriggling child in his arms, "Hey, now. It's ok. What's your name?" Blair wrapped the edges of his coat around the little girl, he noted. "Didn't your Mommy tell you not to go near strangers? What if I was a bad guy?"

"My name is 'Manda. Daddy Jim calls me Munchkin. Mommy's workin'," the light brown-haired girl replied, "'sides Daddy Jim said when the bad man fell that I hafta run to Bweah an' that's you, silly!"

Blair looked into her big green eyes and melted, "Ok, Munchkin it is, but what if I wasn't Blair? How did you know to run to me? I don't know your Daddy Jim." And what does he want me to do with you? Blair continued silently looking over at the immobile man wondering if that was her father.

The little girl grabbed a handful of Blair's curls and tugged his ear closer to her mouth. "Shhh... he's not really my daddy, but he says the bad men'll stay 'way if we p'tend. He tells me ever'body's name. Cuz he knows ever'body! Daddy Jim says you're a nice man, and kind, and be-u-ti-ful, only tha' last part he says when he think's 'm not listenin', but I hear ever'thin'," she whispered conspiratorially.

Blair smiled at the little girl careful to shield her from the sight of Petey, "So what did Daddy Jim say to do after you found me?"

"Take me to my Mommy," the little girl handed Blair a gold colored envelope, "and give her this."

Blair opened the envelope around the little girl's back and nearly dropped it when he saw the contents. What the hell have I gotten myself into? There's gotta be a thousand dollars in there easy and a hotel key. Blair zipped up his jacket around the little girl's back and started towards the fallen man.

A gravelly voice cut through the night stopping him. "Don't even think about it, Chief. Just get her out of here. Come back if you feel like you need to, but I want Mandy safe first. Got it?"

Crap. Okay, first things first. "Ok, Mandy, where does your Mommy work?"

The little girl nodded her head in answer to a question Blair didn't hear, "She works at the diner next to the toy store."

Blair thought quickly, running through all the diners he knew in the area that could be near a toy store. "Jack's?" The little girl nodded. "Okay, Mandy, let's get going."

The little girl's mother had been surprised to see Blair carrying her baby girl, but nodded solemnly at the envelope from Daddy Jim. She didn't seem surprised at the envelope and thanked Blair for taking care of Amanda. Amanda leaned over to Blair from her perch in her mother's arms and whispered, "Please go back to Daddy Jim. You can look after him like he looks after me. Maybe he needs an amb'lance. You just gotta!"

"He was the grouchy bear in the alley, right, munchkin?" At her giggle and nod he continued, "Ok, Mandy, you take care of your Mom and I'll take care of Daddy Jim." Blair tousled the little girl's hair causing her to giggle more.

She smiled at him, showing Blair her missing front tooth. He smiled back at her one more time and left the diner. Heading over towards the alley, Blair thought over his situation.

Okay, so what do I know so far? I have a stalker named Daddy Jim thatís adopted at least one little girl and her mom to keep the "bad men" away, and he knows the name of everyone in the neighborhood. Well, he has to be something if he keeps Mandy safe just by associating with her and her mother. He wanted to protect the little girl first so he can't be that bad, and he's probably bi if I can trust what Mandy said about him thinking I'm beautiful. Then again, kids interpret things differently, and there's that whole not beautiful that I happen to be. Geez, man, get it together, that didn't even make sense in my head.

At the mouth of the alley the professor stopped, taking a deep breath. Taking an unobtrusive look to make sure no one was around, he entered the alley. Approaching quietly he shied away from the still body of Petey. He reached the man Mandy called Daddy Jim with trepidation. "Um, Jim? That is your name, huh?"

Receiving no response he placed his hand on the man's shoulder shaking him gently. Blair wondered what the guy had dropped into when he pulled back a sticky hand. Automatically sniffing his hand, he blanched when he realized it was blood.

Yanking the utility knife he'd gotten for a Bar Mitzvah gift and his scarf out of his pockets, Blair cut the wrapped end off and bound the man's shoulder as best as he could. It wasn't sanitary, but at least it'd help slow the bleeding. Ok, I can't lift him, but I've got to get him out of here. Who knows if he's hurt somewhere else? Blair bit his lip. I can drag him near the mouth of the alley, but there's no way I can drag him all the way to my place, not without attracting a lot of attention. For some reason, I think that's the last think Jim wants. Ok, let's get him up there first, Blair thought as he pulled the egg-crate under the unconscious man.

About halfway down the alley, Jim jerked and rolled himself off the egg-crate landing in a crouch with his back against the brick. Blair, in mid-step, fell to his knees from the sudden lack of weight barely saving his face from hitting the pavement with his hands. "Ow, hey man, what was that for?"

Jim's eyes scanned the alleyway critically as Blair regained his feet, before grounding out, "Mandy and her mom safe?"

"I took Mandy to her mom, and gave her the envelope like you said. They were about to leave when I started back this way." Blair waved his hands in agitation, "No one saw me as far as I know. The diner was empty except for the guy behind the stove, other than that, I dunno, man."

Jim relaxed minutely upon hearing his girls were safe, "Fair enough, Chief. Where were you taking me?" Jim stood, wincing and nearly toppling over if not for the wall at his back.

"You ok, man?" Blair reached out and touched Jim's forearm, surprised at the electricity from that simple gesture he backed up a step, "I was taking you to my place, itís not far from here. I know you're bleeding at shoulder, but that's the only thing I could tell in this pitch black. I have a first aid kit there, unless you'd rather go to the hospital?" Blair trailed off.

"No!" Jim jerked back, "No hospitals, Chief! Your place is fine."

Okaaay, Blair thought, instead saying aloud, "Ok, man, suit yourself, thought you might like the option of that instead of going to a complete stranger's place. I am a complete stranger, right?" Blair asked, hoping that Jim would give him some indication of the extent of the bigger man's stalking efforts.

"I'll tell you what I can, when we get there." Jim offered.

"Right, man, I'm holding you to that," Blair replied, taking Jim's left arm and pulling it across his shoulders.

Jim pulled his arm back slowly. "No, Chief, it'll have to be the right one,Ē Jim grimaced at the jostling of his shoulder, but shot went through clean and he wanted to hide his injuries as best he could.

"But, Jim--" Blair started.

"It's ok, the bullets went straight through. It'll be uncomfortable, but I'll live." Jim grimaced as Blair followed his instructions. The bigger man leaned heavily upon Blair a moment, before straightening slightly, "I'd rather not announce that I've been a gunshot victim right now; too many questions, and they'll be looking for the shooter."

The shooter, Blair thought, must be military or some sort of enforcement, no one I know uses that term so casually. Both men were silent the rest of the way to Blair's warehouse apartment. It was awkward unlocking and getting into the place, and both were panting from the effort.

"You said both shots went through clean, right?" At Jim's nod, Blair continued, "Ok, man, why don't you get a quick shower and--"

Jim cut the younger man off mid-sentence, "Look, Sport, maybe we should wait on that shower, I'll probably fall over if I try it."

"I can get a milk crate for you to sit on or I can give you a sponge bath, but you have to get clean. There's no telling what was in that pile that broke your fall." Blair offered knowing the man would take the first choice.

"Maybe later on the sponge bath, Chief. A milk crate is fine." Jim gave Blair a half-hearted smirk.

Blair helped the wounded man over to the bathroom and leaned him against the door. Jim started unbuttoning his shirt. Blair took a peek and sped into the living room area. Shoving the cd's off the milk crate, the professor returned quickly to the bathroom.

"Here ya go, man." Blair rushed past Jim, dropping the crate into the tub rather clumsily. "Towels are on the shelf, shampoo and soap's in there. Use as much hot water as you want." Glancing upward, Blair swallowed hard at the bared skin. Closing his eyes and taking a calming breath, Blair forced himself to look at the man's face, not his body. Blair was momentarily lost in the pale blue eyes of the man leaning on his bathroom door. Jim was gorgeous! Suddenly the thought of Jim thinking he was beautiful had definite appeal.

"Um, Chief?" Jim asked reluctantly breaking the moment.

"Yeah, Jim?"

"There's no way I'll be able to get this shirt the rest of the way off. Little help here?"

"Oh, um, right. You want me to cut it off?"

Jim shrugged, "No, it's not necessary, but it's ruined anyway, Chief. It'll probably be easier if you do."

"Ok." Blair's heartbeat pounded in his chest. Right, Jim's bleeding all over the place and you're getting hard thinking about shredding his shirt. Geez.

"I don't bite, Chief, and I'm getting kinda tired, so you might be giving me that sponge bath after all, if you don't hurry up." This time Blair received a full-blown smirk.

I swear he's gotta know what I'm thinking. He looks good enough to eat. Man! "Um, yeah. Right." Blair retrieved his utility knife from his pocket for the second time in an hour and turned Jim to his left. Cutting the fabric swiftly and thanking the God of Sharp Objects that the task didn't take any longer. Blair hissed at the sight of the hole in Jim's shoulder and the large furrow in his side. Both wounds were small, but extremely painful looking to Blair, "Damn, how can you stand there like that?"

"Can't feel a thing, Chief. I've got the pain dial turned down. I read about some special meditation techniques a few years back." Jim smiled down at the younger man, "I'm gonna take that shower now, Chief, unless you want to help with the pants too?"

Blair's brain snapped back online with Jim's comment about a pain dial, but the professor pushed the thought back momentarily, "No, you're a big boy," Blair blushed, clearing his throat, "I think you can handle the rest. I have some old clothes around here that Simon left the last time we played ball. They should fit you ok."

"Thanks, Blair." Jim reached for the top button on his jeans and grinned at the younger man, who shivered and fled before the second button was released.

Ok, let's put aside the definite sparks flying in here. Sponge baths and helping him remove his pants notwithstanding, the man looks so straight it hurts. Come to think of it he does look familiar. Maybe he's been on campus before, Blair thought as he walked over to his closet area. Pulling out his first aid kit and a pair of Simon's black Cascade PD sweats, he walked back to the bathroom. The silver Cascade PD logo had completely worn off in the wash, not even an outline was visible. Blair doubted Simon even missed the clothing, never mind be able to pick them out of his laundry basket.

Blair dropped the sweats next to the sink and glanced at the occupant of the shower. Jim had moved the milk crate out to the bathroom floor and closed the curtain. Blair could see the older man leaning against the tile from his outline on the shower curtain. "Here ya go, man."

"Thanks, Chief," Jim called out over the shower curtain, turning the water off before reaching for the curtain. Blair took that as a good sign to leave. The anthropologist picked up the man's discarded clothing and closed the door behind him. Even with the thrumming in his body, there was no way he'd risk getting clocked.

Blair set the kit on the table in front of his couch, tossed Jim's clothing with a few items of his own into the wash, and busied himself in the kitchen with tea preparation. Washing his hands, the younger man had no idea if Jim would want any tea, but he certainly needed it, even if the bigger man didn't. Blair could almost swear Jim had read the thesis he had published for his doctorate. The comments about not feeling anything, the special meditation techniques, and more importantly the pain dial, seemed to indicate such, but could also just be circumstantial.

Hearing the water in the sink running, Blair returned to the kitchen. The professor poured his and Jim's tea, and carried both cups to the living area, sitting them on the coffee table. Blair shook his head a little at the incongruence of tea on a coffee table. Opening the kit he pulled out the supplies he'd need to bandage Jim. Blair was leery of actually trying to stitch Jim up and hoped the bandages would work. Blair finished arranging his supplies, and returned to the kitchen to wash his hands again, before actually opening anything.

Blair knew most of his actions were out of nerves, but couldn't seem to stop himself. The anthropologist reached for his tea mug, took a sip and then nearly proceeded to drop the entire cup in his lap at the sight of Jim fresh out of the shower in only the sweatpants. The older man had bits of his ruined shirt pressed against his skin, helping to slow the bleeding even more.

"Cascade PD, Chief?"

"Huh?" Blair responded distractedly, inwardly cursing his inability to form complete sentences around the older man, but then allowing it because of the man's lack of clothing.

"The sweats, they're from the PD?" Jim walked past the younger man, sitting partially facing Blair on the opposite end of the couch.

"Yeah, my kid's father works for the PD. I play ball with the old man occasionally and he left a set over here in case of emergency basketball. Can you turn a bit further this way?"

"Sure Chief. Your kid?" Jim turned, allowing Blair to get started with his patching.

"You think you'll need stitches?"

"Nah, he really only clipped me. It's not as bad as it looks, Doc, just bled a hell of a lot." Jim sat still for the rest of Blair's ministrations.

"Ok, man, that should do it." Blair touched Jim's arm, smiling briefly. The anthropologist picked up the mess from the coffee table and headed into the kitchen. "Your tea should be cool enough to drink by now. You hungry?"

"I could eat. Are you ok with me staying what's left of the night? I can be out of your hair if you're not comfortable with it." From the kitchen Blair watched Jim trace the CPD outline, clearly visible to the older man, on the sweats he'd inadvertently borrowed from Simon.

Only if you're in my bed, Blair thought silently. Shaking his head he answered aloud, "To be perfectly honest Jim, since you won't go to the hospital, I think you should probably stay here for a few days if not at least a week until you recover. I don't know much about gunshot wounds, but whatever you're into can't be healthy, and probably even more dangerous with you less than 100%." Blair called from the kitchen area pulling out eggs and other ingredients for an omelet. Suddenly remembering the clothes, the academic tossed them into the dryer and returned to the kitchen.

"Thanks for washing my clothes, Chief, but don't go too spicy on the omelet. My taste buds can't handle it."

"Jim?"

"I can smell the peppers from here, Blair, and I'd rather keep the skin on my tongue. It's useful sometimes." Jim's smirk returned.

Blair blushed at the thought of the uses he could put Jim's tongue to, but replied, "Right, no peppers, I'll scramble them. Be done in a minute." Blair cracked the eggs into a bowl and whipped them. Pouring them into a heated pan, he dropped the bread into the toaster. True to his word, Blair finished in record time. Putting the toast on their plates as he dished up the eggs to the side. Jim joined him at the table and both men tucked into their food like they hadn't eaten in weeks.

"This is great, Sandburg," Jim smiled at the anthropologist, but frowned as he cocked his head, "You expecting company?"

"No. Why?"

"Because there's a man in the parking lot on the other side of the parking lot cursing and saying 'Sandburg! Dammit kid, I told you to call when you got home. Daryl won't go to sleep until he knows you made it safely. I told him you were an adult and that my job was to keep the citizens of Cascade safe, not baby sit some hippie doctor' sound familiar, Sandburg?" Jim grinned outright at the dumbfounded expression on Blair's face.

"Shit! I forgot to call Simon. Hang on a sec, unless you want to meet him?" At Jim's vehement negative response, Blair picked up the phone, waylaying Simon in his progress.

"Banks," the police captain answered gruffly.

"Simon, this is Blair. Sorry it took me so long to call you, I got a little sidetracked."

"It better be good, Sandburg. Daryl's worried sick, and I'm already in the parking lot for your building."

"You remember Petey, right, the guy that lived in the alley next to my place? I found him dead tonight. Didn't look like there was any sign of a struggle or other foul play. Scared the bejeezus out of me though, man."

"And you're just now telling me about this? Why didn't you call 911 immediately?"

"Sorry Simon, it just freaked me out. You know Naomi, she always detached with love before it got to this point. The closest I've come to a dying person was when I spent time with that tribe in Paraguay. See there was this elder--"

Simon cut the diatribe off before it could start, "I get it Blair. It's ok. I'm just glad you're safe. I'll call it in."

Jim's frantic motions caught Blair's attention, "Hang on, Simon." Blair put his hand over the phone and walked back to Jim's side, "What is it Jim? You want Simon to come over now?"

"No," Jim whispered, "tell him 'Jenkins dirt, two slug hiatus, floating. Say you saw it on a note near Petey."

Blair took a seat next to the older man, "Jim we're seriously going to have to talk after this ok?" Jim nodded and Blair got back on the phone in time to hear Simon muttering.

"Any day now Sandburg...."

"Simon, I just remembered something, I found a note near Petey. It said 'Jenkins dirt, two slug hiatus, floating'. That mean anything to you?"

"Shit, was that it kid? Anything more on the note?" Simon seemed to believe the obfuscation Blair was spinning.

Jim whispered the words 'rooftop, treasure chest,' and grinned outright at the words 'pick up Rich' squeezing Blair's leg right above his knee.

"The back of the note was kinda blurry, but I think it said 'rooftop, treasure chest' and 'pick up Rich'." Blair was pleased that his voice didn't break a bit as he delivered the bizarre message between Jim and Simon. He didn't quite understand their connection, but he had a pretty good idea after all the coded crap Jim had him spouting.

Blair could hear the smile in Simon's voice, "Sandburg, you little shit! When you see the guy who wrote that note, and I know you will, tell him good job, go to the hospital and that with the exception of the report I want on my desk tomorrow afternoon, I don't want to see his ugly mug for a week! I gotta go now, son. Call Daryl and let him know you're ok, and that I'll be back in a few hours."

"Sure, Simon. I'll tell them. Good night." Blair disconnected the call and dialed Simon's home. After relaying Simon's message, Blair thanked the boy for worrying about him, and assured Daryl he was fine. Ending the call, Blair pressed the off button on his cordless phone and turned to the smug man he knew had to be a detective.

Well at least my stalker's a good guy, and I guess he's not really a stalker after all. If Jim was an undercover officer, he'd have to know the surroundings, and Blair had been a part of said surroundings for years. "So how long have you been under, Jim, and what was all that code crap? Why couldn't I just tell Simon what was going on?"

"In the department, I'm strictly low profile. Not that I don't work the high profile cases, because I do, I just stay out of the spotlight so I can go under easier, Chief. I've been on this case about a year. You didn't notice the drug lab that moved in next door? I figured your line was probably tapped." At Blair's open-mouth shock, Jim smirked, "We've been working on busting them and their distribution system. I told Simon that the Jenkins, Sheila and Amanda, which you met, went underground until they can be placed in protective custody. I was shot twice and need time to recover, but that it wasn't life threatening. The floating part was about the guy who shot me." Jim didn't elaborate, and Blair felt relieved about not hearing those particular details.

"What about the next set of bland but mysterious codes?" Blair teased the detective on his lack imagination.

"Smart ass." Jim grinned, "I was telling him where to find the muscle and the evidence we need to nail Rich, that's Richardson, to the wall. He's the guy fronting the operation. They won't move any of the drugs without his approval and if he's detained..." Jim trailed off.

"Right, no approval, and the drugs stay off the street. That's great, man!" Blair enthused.

"You know, you never did tell me why you call Daryl your kid. Care to spill, Chief?" Jim leaned back into the cushions of the sofa.

Blair winced at the uncomfortable fit and made a split second decision, "Um, look Jim, don't take this the wrong way, but why don't you take my bed?" There was no mistaking the lust in Jim's eyes at that comment, so Blair continued quietly, "Um, we could share if you wanted."

"Contrary to popular belief at the station, which you have no idea about, I don't bite. I think we can share, but I still want to hear about Daryl. I like the kid, he's pretty tough." Jim said the last as if it were the only reason that mattered.

Blair helped Jim off the couch and led him to the bedroom area. The bed really was enormous. When Blair had moved into the warehouse apartment, the first thing he bought with his first paycheck was a decent bed. He dropped the old futon off at the battered women's shelter, knowing that they'd get good use out of it. Blair sat Jim on the side of the bed, "Wait here a sec." Jim nodded and Blair went to the dryer. He pulled out Jim's boxers, luckily they were dry, and turned the dryer back on to finish drying the detective's jeans.

"Here," Blair returned to his bed waking the semi-drowsing detective with the noise, "I'll be right back." Blair went to the bathroom for his evening ablutions. He finished up and stripped down to his boxers. Padding softly back into his bedroom he noticed the detective had donned his own boxers and slipped under the covers. Blair smiled and joined him, although careful not to touch the older man.

Jim smiled at Blair's obvious attempts to stay far away from the detective. "I'm awake Blair, and you have a story to tell."

"Man! I bet that determination comes in handy at the office, right Jim?" Blair couldn't resist teasing the man, obviously he was dying of curiosity, "Daryl's more like a little brother. Rainier has a program that allows faculty and grad students to pair up with students in the Cascade Public School System. Basically the program is to help the kids pick up their grades and generally motivate them. Did you know that students with mentors are less likely to get into drugs or criminal behavior? It's a great program. I picked up Daryl about four years ago, right before I received my doctorate."

"Your thesis was on heightened senses in modern man paralleling the Sentinel Myths. You gave Simon a copy because Daryl was so impressed with it. He thinks I'm Superman for some reason, but I keep trying to convince him I'm not bulletproof." Jim smiled up at the ceiling.

"Wait! You're the supercop that Daryl goes on and on about?!?!" Blair asked incredulously sitting upright and looking down at Jim's face. "Wait, I thought you were married?" Blair could've eaten his whole shoe, but couldn't take the words back.

"Nah, been divorced six years now. According to Daryl, you're SuperProfessor that knows everything and helps him with his schoolwork, and girls too, but I haven't told Simon that part yet." Jim smiled up at him while pushing at the younger man's shoulder to get him to settle back down under the covers.

"You know, I thought Daryl was just exaggerating the stories about your senses," which Blair now realized were all enhanced. The clues clicked into place, the pain dial, the CPD outline that had faded completely away but was still visible to Jim's sight, Jim smelling the peppers when Blair hadn't even taken them out of their airtight container, Jim complaining about his taste buds, and him hearing Simon from outside the building and across the parking lot. Jim was a real live Sentinel! Blair bounced a little on the bed earning a soft smack on the arm causing him to finally crawl back under the covers, "Oh, sorry, Jim. You know, after he told me that I decided to include a chapter with basic exercises for controlling the senses without a Guide or Shaman present for the modern day Sentinel."

"Between the Shaman from the Chopec that helped me when I was stranded in Peru and your thesis, I've done pretty well with my senses. I still zone out from time to time, but I owe my ability to work, and even my sanity to you, Blair." Jim said softly.

"Wow." Blair touched Jim's uninjured shoulder. "I guess we should get some sleep, huh?" Blair closed his eyes.

"I'm right after ya, Sandburg." Jim closed his eyes and quickly followed Blair into slumber only to awaken a few hours later to the younger man in a nightmare-induced panic.

"No! I don't have any change! No drugs! No food! No, Petey! I'm sorry! I couldn't help you! No, Petey, no!!" Blair was barely whispering, but to Sentinel ears it was loud enough.

Jim reached over and brushed the dreaming man's hair from his face. Stroking his forehead gently, Blair calmed enough for Jim to pull him closer. Wrapping his arms around the younger man, Jim soothed, "It's ok, Blair. I'm here. I've got you. No one's going to hurt you. They'll have to come through me first." Jim repeated this litany continuously until Blair's heartbeat calmed and the anthropologist was completely awake. "Wanna talk about it, Blair?"

"No, not really. I dreamed about the first time I met up with Petey but then it was him the way he looked dead tonight, and I guess I'm talking about it after all." Blair sighed into Jim's chest. "You must think I'm a wuss, needing you to hold me like this."

"No, actually, Chief, I've been trying to get you in this position all night," Jim teased, hoping to lighten the mood.

"Oh, really? Was I playing hard to get?" Blair grinned.

"How about playing to get hard?" Jim let out a chuckle at Blair's groan.

"Man, you gotta work on your material, Jim. That was bad,Ē Blair shook his head into Jim's chest.

"Bad, huh? Maybe I need to do a little research?" Jim smiled predatorily, causing Blair to shiver. Jim tilted Blair's head, his eyes dilating as he focused on the younger man's lips. Blair, noticing the scrutiny, licked his lips in anticipation. The pink tongue causing the Sentinel to take Blair's lips into a hungry soul-searing kiss. When air became annoyingly necessary, they broke apart, "Get some rest, Blair." At the professor's yawning nod, Jim wrapped Blair tightly and pulled him close, wandering off to dreamland together.

The end.

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