Unsaid by Lisa, Duncan's Twin

Unsaid - Lisa, Duncan’s Twin

(For Patt, Happy Birthday!)

Being Jim Ellison’s guide isn’t just about teaching him how to use and hone his senses, it’s also about interpreting him. I’ve come to learn over the years that what Jim doesn’t say is almost more important than what he does say. A grimace means he doesn’t like it, but he’ll do it and complain the whole time. One raised eyebrow means he’s curious and wants to know more. It’s all about interpretation.

Most people are easy to figure out, they have easy to read body language. A sentinel (and trained soldier) is a little harder. He’s been schooled in not giving anything away, to not let a single word or look spill his secrets. And damn, he was good at it. I say was because once I realized Jim said more with a touch or just the tilt of his head, I began to learn the secret language of Jim Ellison. I couldn’t help but notice, after all, I was studying him.

He had different ways of touching things, not just his sentinel touch ability. A shoulder pat meant he was happy about something. A chest tap meant he wanted to point something out. A cheek pat meant he wanted my attention. A forehead tap meant he was teasing. There were varying degrees of smiles, tilts of his head, and looks. It has taken the whole time I’ve known Jim to catalog all of Jim’s tells. He’d kill me if he knew that I can tell when he’s bluffing when we play poker.

There’s just one thing in his repertoire that I’ve yet to understand. It’s the squeeze with a thumb rub. The first time I felt it, a shoulder pat and then squeeze were combined; I thought it meant he was just really happy, but the circumstances didn’t fit. Another time, he squeezed my arm, my forearm and added a thumb rub. I was completely flummoxed. What did the squeeze mean? He didn’t use it often, maybe once every couple of months. I couldn’t see the similarities in the situations in which it was used. At a loss, I chalked it up to something I’d learn later.


We grew into our roles as sentinel and guide, and as roommates. We grew comfortable with each other and the lines started to blur. I started to develop feelings for Jim. Feeling feelings. It didn’t help when I started writing about how Jim’s senses were enhanced by his physical fitness. I spent the better part of two hours trying to find words that didn’t sound like I lusted after his body. Words kept spinning through my brain. Solid. Yeah. Thick. God. Hard. Crap. Sexy. Shit. Hot. Oh, hell. Hard. Again. Fuck. Yeah. Fucked.

This self realization surprised me. Seeing Jim as a sexual (okay, sexy) creature made my stomach do flip flops. Sure, I’d been attracted to men before but it had always been in passing, and never so prolonged. I began to day dream about marking that place on his shoulder, right where the muscle and bone made a natural indentation.

And it wasn’t like I had to fantasize all that often. Jim was comfortable in his skin, walking around in jeans or just boxers as he got ready some days. Hell, we were comfortable with each other. We were just two guys hanging out in our boxers and tee shirts watching the late night sports recap before going to sleep. We’d taken a piss standing next to each other in a public restroom. I’d stepped into the shower 30 seconds after he’d stepped out and was still drying off. We were two men who lived together out of necessity. Okay, more out of convenience and less necessity. But it became harder (pardon the pun) as I became more aware of my feelings about him and my reactions to his body. I was sure my inevitable reaction to his physical presence would give me away at some point.

I began to think about moving out. My stomach tied itself into knots just thinking about it. Leave Jim? Not be there to say good night before bed? Not be there to see his bed head first thing in the morning? Not be there to make him laugh after a long day? Not be there to tend to his wounds? No, not an option.

But I needed to know how he felt. In the end, I trusted my ability to read him to make the decision for me.

“So, Todd mentioned that he’s going to need a roommate next semester and asked if I’d be interested.”

Only twice before had I experienced a deafening silence. I looked up at Jim, standing on the other side of the kitchen. He took a step back, leaned against the counter, crossed his legs at the ankle, then crossed his arms protectively over his chest, clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes.

I went out on a fairly safe limb. “I told him I didn’t think I could afford it.”

Jim’s whole posture softened marginally. He nodded, uncrossed his arms and reached for his cup of coffee.

“Isn’t it down near the docks?” Jim said, knowing it was, before taking a sip, and looking at me over the rim of the mug.

Yeah, I wasn’t going anywhere.


Now faced with the reality that Jim didn’t want to me to go and my growing attraction, I started to wonder how Jim saw me. I’d never before wondered how another man might see me. Would he think I was sexy? Mildly attractive? I knew how women saw me… I was cute and fun, someone they could have a good time with. Although, and this hurt when reflecting on it, none of them had ever wanted anything more serious with me than a short term fling. What was wrong with me?

“Nut ‘n honey,” Marcus teased when I’d posed this question to him. Marcus was my closest gay friend.

“But why doesn’t anyone stay with me longer than a month or so?” I whined. Yes, I was capable of whining.

Marcus took my hand in his and spoke seriously to me. “Blair, I love you, so I’m going to tell you the truth.

“It’s easy to see why a woman would be attracted to you. You’re gorgeous, but once they get to know you, they realize you’re more than just a pretty face. You’re deeper than these shallow girls. And, to be honest, they see that you’re looking for something they aren’t. I think they leave you before you can leave them.”

His words struck a nerve and rattled around in my head as I tried to fully understand what he meant. Even Jim noticed I wasn’t my usual self, and in true Jim fashion, he didn’t ask but his body language said he was there for me. He did buy dinner and we ate in the living room.

“Do you ever think you’re looking for something you’ll never find?” I asked between bites.

Jim set his fork down and directed all of his attention on me.

“What do you mean?” he asked, sliding his hand closer to me in a move I was sure was subconscious.

“I’m not sure,” I said, throwing my hands in the air. “Someone told me today that the reason I can’t maintain a relationship is because the other person can see that I’m looking for something they aren’t, and that they leave me before I can leave them.”

Jim tilted his head and kept his eyes on me.

“I don’t see that,” Jim started, “you’ve been with me for three years and I don’t think you’ll ever leave,” Jim teased, patting my cheek.

I rolled my eyes at his grin.

Jim’s hand was on my arm, a squeeze got my attention. “No, seriously, Chief, I think when you decide what it is you want, the person you’re with will know that you’re not going anywhere and won’t leave you.”

He made a lot of sense and we went back to eating dinner.


A few days later I was enjoying an unusually sunny spring day lounging in the courtyard at the university. The book I had been reading lay forgotten on my chest as I turned my attention to people watching. Over and over my attention was drawn back to one particular couple.

There wasn’t anything especially attention grabbing about them but I found it hard to look away. There was something so familiar in the way they sat together. How close they sat, the attention they paid to each other. The way they leaned towards each other when they laughed. The way he touched her face.

I released a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. Dawning awareness swam over me like a warm blanket. How easily I could picture Jim and me sitting close like that, talking that easily, sharing a laugh, a touch.

The anonymous couple leaned close and shared a kiss.

Flip flop. Kiss Jim? Whoa.

And then I saw it. Saw what I could never understand. The touch that I couldn’t explain. In vivid color in front of me I saw the arm squeeze followed by the thumb rub. It was a caress. It was affection. It was... love? Flip flop.

I had to know.


Making dinner filled the time while my mind raced. What if I was wrong? What if I’d misread it? What if I hadn’t?

“Smells good,” Jim said, patting me on the shoulder as he walked by to wash his hands.

Flip flop.

He sat down at the table as I scooped up a plateful of dinner and set it in front of him. I laid my hand on his forearm. Jim tilted his head and focused his eyes on mine. I squeezed and rubbed my thumb across his bare skin. Caressed him.

I smiled and leaned closer. Jim’s hand reached up to pull me closer. The first kiss was a greeting, a welcoming home. The second kiss was a question. The third was a promise.

Standing back up, my smile mirrored the one before me. I knew he could feel my heart flip flopping under the hand that slid from behind my head.

“Get yourself some dinner,” Jim said, his eyes saying something totally different, but something my heart understood.

I nodded, but found it hard to step away from his touch, from what I’d found in his eyes.

“Hurry up and eat, we have things to do tonight,” Jim said, taking my hand in his and squeezing.

I didn’t need to answer, my squeeze in return said it all.

The end.

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Notes: Many thanks to Kelly and Sheila for the beta jobs. Thanks to Patt for giving me exactly the cover I want, and for always being there.