Close Encounters by Mostcrazylady

Close Encounters - Mostcrazylady

First Encounter

Jim Ellison wasn’t in the best of moods as he leaned against the bar and tried to catch the bartender’s attention. Yeah, he was here to celebrate with his friends but the air was so smoky he could hardly breathe and everything was so loud his ears hurt. The headache he was developing didn’t help matters either.

“Busy place tonight.”

Jim glanced at the owner of the pleasant voice and gave a curt nod. It was bad enough he had to converse with his co-workers, he was damned if he was going to make small talk with some stranger. Especially some kid with long hair and earrings for God’s sake.

Undaunted, the voice continued. “For a weeknight, I mean. Course, it’s probably busier on the weekends.”

Jim sighed and was relieved when the bartender finally took his order.

“Interesting place though. Especially after living with a native tribe in South America for the last year.”

Jim sighed again. This kid just didn’t give up. He secretly took a closer look at the young man seated next to him. Dark curly hair that hung just below his shoulders framed a handsome friendly face. A very nice build and nicely toned muscles were accented by the just tight enough jeans and t-shirt the kid wore. Jim quickly pulled his thoughts back into line. Jeez, Ellison. Those are not the kind of thoughts to be thinking in a cop-bar with your co-workers sitting a couple tables away.

“So, uh, do you come here often?”

Jim turned an incredulous look on the young man whose appreciative gaze turned to one of chagrin.

“I can’t believe that came out of my mouth. That has to be the lamest pick-up line in town.” He smiled and shook his head.

Jim couldn’t help but return the smile and he began to chuckle. “As a matter of fact, I do come here fairly often. Along with my fellow cops.”

The young man’s eyes widened and he swallowed. “You’re a cop?”

Jim smiled as he nodded.

“Oh, man. I am so dead.”

Jim continued to chuckle as he paid for his drink and turned to head back to his seat. He leaned close enough to inhale the kid’s fresh clean scent and quietly said, “A word to the wise, Chief. Be a little more careful who you use that lame pick-up line on.”

As he stepped away he heard the kid say, “Hey, man. You be careful too. A cop’s life isn’t the easiest one.”

Jim nodded in acknowledgement and rejoined his friends. He suddenly realized that his headache was gone. The smoke and loud noise weren’t as bad either. His mood had improved so much that he actually found himself laughing along with the others at Brown’s bad jokes.

When it was time to call it a night, Jim looked for the young man but didn’t see him so he got the bartender’s attention.

“Hey, Fred. That kid that was sitting here. You know him?”

“Never seen him in here before. Why? He wanted for something?”

Yeah, wanted by me. “No, just curious. Night, Fred.”

Jim walked out and climbed into his truck still wondering about the young man. He smiled and admitted to himself that he was flattered. It had been quite a while since he’d been hit on and never by someone so attractive. The kid had to be at least ten years younger than he was and with his looks he could have anyone he wanted. Yet he’d chosen Jim. It was a pleasant thought to end the day on.

____________

Second Encounter

Two weeks later, a disgruntled Jim found himself part of the special security detail for the opening of a new exhibit at the Cascade Museum of Cultural Arts. At first the South American native artwork intrigued him and brought back memories of his own time spent in Peru. But after an hour of the bright lights and noisy chatter of the attendees, his head was beginning to ache.

“Busy place tonight.”

The amused voice that came from behind him was vaguely familiar. He turned to face its owner and found himself looking into the blue eyes of the young man from the bar. Jim noted that tonight he was dressed in a suit and tie and his hair was pulled back into a respectable ponytail that made him look a little older but no less handsome.

“Course that’s because it’s the opening for a new exhibit. It’s probably just as busy on weekends.” The young man was trying to appear serious but there was no mistaking the look of mischief on his face as he innocently made his next remark.

“So, uh, do you come here often?”

Jim narrowed his eyes and tried to look stern as he answered.

“No, only when I’m on duty as part of the security detail for the Mayor’s favorite museum.”

“Still a cop, huh? Just my luck.” He sighed dramatically and shook his head.

They watched the crowd together for a moment before Jim asked, “So, do you come here often?”

“Not as often as I’d like. I’m here tonight because I helped Dr. Buckner set up the exhibit.” He smiled ruefully and shrugged. “Also, University politics being what they are, I’m here to be seen while I rack up the old brownie points. I’d forgotten how cutthroat academia can be. Personally, I’d rather be home in bed.”

I’d rather you were home in my bed, Jim’s unruly thoughts whispered, but aloud he said, “Me too, Chief.”

The young man smiled again and held out his hand. “My name’s Blair but I don’t mind you calling me Chief.”

“I’m Jim,” Jim answered as he gripped Blair’s hand. Both men were startled by the tingle where their hands met and quickly let go.

“Whoa! Static electricity,” Blair laughed nervously.

They were interrupted by someone nearby clearing his throat. Jim turned his head and met the disapproving eyes of an older man who frowned at Blair and said,

“Mr. Sandburg. Need I remind you why your presence was required tonight?”

“Oops, gotta go kiss more butt,” Blair whispered conspiratorially to Jim.

“I’ll bet you’re real good at that.” Jim’s reply was filled with innuendo.

“Depends on who it belongs to.” Blair wiggled his eyebrows, grinned and disappeared into the crowd.

On his way home that night, Jim thought back to his time in Peru living with the Chopec tribe and the way he had been able to see, hear, and smell the enemy coming from miles away. It had only taken one taste for him to know if food or water was tainted and occasionally he would get rashes from his clothing. The tribe’s shaman, Incacha, had referred to his heightened senses as ‘the panther’ and when Jim was finally rescued, he had solemnly told him that ‘the panther will sleep until your life-mate is near. When the panther awakens, look for the wolf.’

By the time Jim returned to the States, his senses were back to normal and they had remained that way until just a few weeks ago. He realized that the lights that were too bright, noises too loud, and ordinary odors that were suddenly overwhelming meant that his senses were becoming heightened again. The panther was waking up. Somewhere in the past two weeks he must have come in contact with the person destined to be his life-mate.

Jim wondered who she was and tried to remember the women he had recently met. Well, he’d just have to keep an eye out for the wolf, he chuckled to himself.

____________

Third Encounter

As the days passed Jim found himself spending more and more time trying to figure out who his life-mate might be. Even now, when he should be thinking about the stakeout he was meeting Brown and Rafe for, he was contemplating the women he’d met over the last month.

There was Tracy, the new waitress at the diner he frequented. The petite blond had flirted shamelessly with him and made it clear that she was willing to warm up more than his coffee.

Or how about Karie in records? Now there was a babe that he wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life with. He’d only taken her out once but what a night that had been. He’d definitely have to ask her out again.

Carolyn had recently transferred from the San Francisco PD to become head of the forensics department. She’d quickly shown her interest by asking him out and they’d gotten together three or four times since. Yeah, they’d certainly clicked. She would make a great life-mate since she was as career minded as he was.

But where the hell was the damn wolf?

With a start, Jim realized that he was nearing the location of the stakeout and the sight of a small convenience store reminded him that he had promised to bring some munchies for the other guys. He quickly parked his truck and hurried into the building and over to the snack aisle. He was reaching for another bag of potato chips when he heard a now familiar voice snickering behind him.

“Busy place tonight. Do you come here often?”

Jim snorted in amusement as he turned to meet Blair’s grin. “Do you?” he countered. “You know if I were paranoid, I’d think you were following me.”

“No way, man. You’re obviously following me,” Blair responded. “Face it, Jim. You find me so irresistible you can’t stay away.”

“Oh no, no, no. I’m just passing through and happened to stop in to pick up a few snacks. What’s your excuse?”

“I live a couple blocks away. It’s on my way home from Rainier.”

“You live in this neighborhood? Are you nuts?” Jim demanded.

“Normally, no. But by the time I got back from South America all the affordable student housing near campus was taken. This was the best I could do.”

“This is not a nice neighborhood, Chief. I hope you take suitable precautions.”

“Oh yeah. I always take precautions. Course, you being a cop, maybe you could come with me and make sure everything is tight.” He wiggled his eyebrows and grinned hopefully.

“Any other night I’d be tempted to take you up on that offer. But I’m on my way to a stakeout and if I don’t get going I’ll be late.”

“Seems like you’re always on duty. Sounds to me like three strikes I’m out,” Blair sighed and his disappointment was obvious.

Jim found himself reluctant to part on this note with the young man. “Tell you what, Chief. Give me your phone number and next time I get a day off I’ll give you a call.”

“Yeah? Okay.” Blair brightened visibly as he dug through his backpack and pulled out a business card. He hurriedly scribbled a number on the back and handed it to Jim. “Even if you don’t want to do anything but sit around and talk. That would be okay with me,” he smiled shyly.

Jim pocketed the card and nodded toward the register. “Yeah, well, I gotta go. Duty calls. You be careful going home from here, Chief.”

“I will be. You be careful too, Jim.”

Jim quickly paid for his purchases and hurried back to his truck. He noted that he’d only be a couple minutes late and he had the excuse of Brown’s and Rafe’s junk food to make up for it.

Hours after as Jim fought the boredom of watching for a perp who obviously wasn’t going to show and listening to Brown and Rafe trade tall tales, his thoughts wandered to the handsome young man he kept running into. There was something about him that tickled at Jim’s mind and wouldn’t let go. Suddenly he realized what it was. The kid had been wearing a medallion with a wolf engraved on it.

‘Look for the wolf,’ Incacha’s voice whispered in his mind.

Nah, couldn’t be, Jim mentally scoffed. Just a coincidence. No way could his life-mate be a guy. That was just ridiculous. Still, he had to admit he liked the idea that such a good looking younger man was interested in him. Yeah, next day off he’d call Blair, get together with him, shoot the breeze, maybe invite him over to watch a game or whatever else happened to come up. Yeah, who knows what might come up.

Jim smiled and turned his thoughts back to the women he’d met and wondering which one was destined to become his life-mate.

_____________

Fourth Encounter

Jim had never been so frustrated in his entire life. He’d wondered where the damn wolf was? Well, ever since he’d noticed Blair’s medallion, he’d been seeing wolves everywhere. The fucking things were coming out of the damn woodwork.

He’d been pleased when he observed that Tracy at the diner was wearing a charm bracelet with little wolves on it. She was cute and sweet and it was obvious that she’d really like to get to know him better. He’d almost made up his mind that she was the one when he noticed that Karie in records had a snow globe with two howling wolves in it sitting on her desk. Then Caroline walked into the bullpen and he saw she was wearing earrings that looked like silver wolf heads.

A few days later, while he was still debating which of the three lovely ladies belonged to his wolf, Joel stopped by his desk to chat. When the former bomb squad captain leaned forward to make a point, Jim found himself face to face with Joel’s tie clasp which featured a wolf.

The next day Jim was discussing a case with Rafe when his eyes were drawn to the calendar on the other man’s desktop. A nature calendar which just happened to showcase wolves this month.

Well, damn, Jim mentally sighed. Maybe his life-mate was supposed to be a man. He surreptitiously considered Rafe and tried to picture him in that role. Not a bad looking guy, dressed nicely, kept his work space neat and tidy which meant that his home was probably just as clean. He supposed he could do worse. He’d barely begun to reevaluate his stance on the gender of his life-mate when Brown waltzed in with a gaudy wolf head on his belt buckle. Jim did a double take and decided that he had a lot more thinking to do.

A week later Jim was still deliberating when his captain, Simon Banks called him into his office.

“Close the door and take a seat, Jim.”

As Jim settled into a chair, his attention was caught by the coffee mug on Simon’s desk. Oh, no, he groaned to himself. Not more wolves. He glanced at Simon and decided there was no way in hell he was going to be life-mates with his boss. Look for the wolf, indeed. Well he was finding wolves but he had no way to tell which wolf was the right one.

He took a deep breath and shook off his thoughts about rotten sneaky wolves, then wondered if Simon was reading his mind when he saw the look of disgust on the other man’s face.

“What’s up, Captain?”

“I just got word from the mayor’s office. Because of our ‘high solve rate’, we’re being assigned a ride along. Rainier University is sending over one of their grad students to observe us ‘in action’ so he can write a paper on ‘How Investigative Procedures Lead to the Conviction of Criminals’. Of course he’ll have to go out in the field with us when we investigate crime scenes in order to get his data.”

“Damn,” Jim frowned. “Just what we need, a civilian under foot while we chase down criminals. How long will we be stuck with him?”

“Anywhere from three to six months, depending on how long it takes him to gather his information.”

“Can’t we get out of this?”

“Nope,” Simon sighed. “Believe me, I tried. It seems the kid’s adviser, Dr. Eli Stoddard, is a long time good buddy of the mayor’s so we have no choice. We’re ordered to do this as a personal favor to the man. And that’s where you come in.”

Simon smiled and Jim suddenly felt uneasy. “Me?” he asked warily.

“The kid will be riding with you, Jim.”

Jim abruptly stood and paced over to the windows where he stared out at the view of the city. “No way. There is no way I’m going to spend my time babysitting some snot-nosed kid. Get one of the other guys to do it.”

“You will do it. You’re the only one in the unit who doesn’t have a permanent partner and the only one I can fully trust to make sure nothing happens to him. So suck it up, Detective. That’s an order.”

Their argument was interrupted by Simon’s intercom.

“Captain Banks, Mr. Sandburg is here.”

“Thank you, Rhonda. Send him in.” Simon turned off the intercom and looked over at Jim where he slouched sullenly at the window. “You will be pleasant and cooperative. The sooner he gets his info, the sooner we get rid of him.”

“Sir, yes sir,” Jim groused and obstinately kept his back to the room.

Simon turned toward his office door and his welcoming smile froze for an instant as he got a good look at the young man who entered. Dear lord, he moaned to himself. How long is his hair that he can pull it back in a ponytail? And Christ, are those earrings? A quick glance took in the faded jeans and the blue vest the kid wore. He sighed and gave himself a mental shake then firmed up his smile and held out his hand.

“Mr. Sandburg? I’m Captain Banks.”

“Pleasure to meet you, Captain. Thanks for helping me out with my paper. And please, call me Blair.”

As they shook hands, Simon noted Blair’s firm grip and friendly smile and decided that the kid looked intelligent enough to do as he was told. “You’ll be riding with Detective Ellison.”

The moment Jim heard the by now very familiar voice, he straightened and turned to face the room where he met Blair’s startled eyes.

Blair shook his head and smiled. “We have got to stop meeting like this.”

“Why?” Jim smirked. “Are people starting to talk?”

Blair averted his eyes and whispered so quietly that Jim was sure only he could hear the words. “Don’t I wish.”

Simon cleared his throat. “You two know each other?”

“We’ve bumped into each other a few times,” Jim acknowledged.

“Only in passing,” Blair said at the same time.

“Well, good,” Simon nodded; sure that he was missing something. “Show him around, Jim. Introduce him to everyone and take him to personnel to get his observer’s badge. Dismissed.”

“Yes sir.” Jim led his new partner over to his own desk where they paused to confer quietly.

“I’m sorry, Jim. I didn’t know I’d be put with you.” Blair looked uncomfortable. “I know there are other people you’d rather be with.”

“No, I’m sorry, Chief. I know I said I’d call you but things got busy around here all of a sudden.” Jim hoped Blair would accept the half-truth because the whole truth was that he’d been so busy trying to figure out who belonged to his wolf that he’d forgotten about the handsome young man he kept running into.

“No problem. I know your job is important.” Blair smiled and shrugged then added hopefully, “Maybe we could get together some evening after work.”

“Tell you what. When we get done here today, why don’t you come over to my place for supper? We can get to know each other better.” Careful that no one was paying them any attention, Jim ran his eyes suggestively over Blair’s body.

“Cool,” Blair whispered and gave Jim his own once over. “I’d really like to get to know you better.”

As Jim ushered Blair out of the bullpen, he couldn’t help thinking to himself, Take that, you useless wolf. I am not gonna look for you anymore. I’ve got this drop dead gorgeous young guy who is still interested in spite of everything and I am definitely interested in him. So piss on you, wolf. You can go play your dumb-ass games with someone else.

It had been too long since he’d indulged himself with a man and Jim wasn’t about to let some stupid wolf spoil his fun. Yeah. Blair would be a pleasant distraction while he waited for his life-mate to show up.

_____________

Final Encounter

Jim couldn’t have been in a better mood if he tried. His intimate evening with Blair had progressed nicely if he did say so himself. They’d stopped at Jim’s favorite Italian restaurant for take-out, Jim’s treat; after all he was the inviter. Their ‘getting to know you’ conversation during the meal was relaxed and comfortable and Jim found he liked more about Blair than just his good looks. He wasn’t sure who was the seducer and who was the seducee, but decided it didn’t matter since it seemed they both had the same goal in mind. Talk led to other things until they finally ended up snuggled together in his big bed, sated and sleepy.

Jim thoughtfully considered his senses. They hadn’t been this sharp and easy to control since Incacha had helped him in Peru. He cautiously extended his hearing beyond his loft apartment and listened to the sounds of the neighborhood around him for a moment before pulling his hearing back to his bedroom and the gentle beat of Blair’s heart.

He carefully ran his hands over his bedmate’s body and was amazed at the different textures he could feel. Even in the dim lighting Jim could easily confirm that Blair was good looking with an inner and outer beauty all his own. He couldn’t help smiling at the memory of the young man’s taste. Oh yeah, he tasted good with a capitol G. Jim’s smile grew when he thought about the ways he had tasted him.

Jim closed his eyes and buried his nose in Blair’s hair. He inhaled deeply and began snuffling around, searching for more of that oh so pleasant fragrance. His exploratory journey ended abruptly when his nose encountered a metallic scent. Jim opened his eyes and found the engraved wolf on Blair’s medallion staring back at him.

‘Look for the wolf,’ Incacha’s voice whispered again and Jim recalled that he had thought he’d heard a panther answer a wolf’s howl of pleasure but at the time had put it down to an orgasmic hallucination. Suddenly, he wasn’t so sure about that.

“Where’d you get this?”

“What?” Blair asked sleepily.

“Your medallion. Where’d you get it?”

“Oh.” Blair roused himself and blinked. “I think I mentioned that I spent the last year living in South America with a native tribe. Well the tribe’s shaman took a shine to me for some reason, much to Dr. Buckner’s annoyance,” he smiled and fingered the medallion. “When we were ready to leave, he gave this to me. He told me it was my spirit animal and I had to always wear it so the panther could find me because the panther and the wolf were meant to be life-mates.”

“So the panther could find you,” Jim repeated quietly then shook his head and sat up. “Talk about stupid! I can’t believe how dense I’ve been. I’m a detective for God’s sake. I should have been able to figure this out before now.”

“What are you talking about?”

Jim sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. “Let me guess. You were with the Chopec in Peru and Incacha was the shaman who gave you that medallion.”

“How’d you know that?” Blair sat up so he could get a better look at Jim’s face.

“A few years ago when I was in the army, I got stranded in Peru. I lived with the Chopec for eighteen months. So, yeah. I know Incacha.”

“Small world,” Blair laughed.

“The thing is,” Jim continued, “while I was there, all five of my senses were heightened. I could see, hear, and smell the enemy coming from miles away. One taste told me if food or water was tainted and sometimes my clothes irritated my skin so badly I’d have to go naked. Incacha told me I was a sentinel and he helped me keep my senses under control.”

“You’re a sentinel?” Blair asked in amazement. “Incacha told me more about sentinels than he did about tribal life. The stories were fascinating but I never thought I’d actually meet someone with heightened senses. And now here I am sitting next to you. Wow. Talk about coincidence.”

“I’m not so sure,” Jim disagreed. “Incacha, called my heightened senses the panther. When I got rescued, he said that the panther would sleep until my life-mate was near and when the panther woke up, I should look for the wolf. By the time I got home my senses were back to normal and they stayed that way until around the time that a certain good looking guy tried to pick me up in a bar. My senses had been acting up and I’m just now realizing that they behaved themselves for a few days just after each time that I ran into you.”

Blair looked surprised, then thoughtful. “The minute I saw you in that bar, I felt that I had to be with you. I’ve never been drawn so strongly to anyone else. It was like someone was pushing me toward you and I had no desire to resist. And then we kept running into each other, almost as if we were meant to connect.”

“You are my wolf,” Jim spoke with conviction.

“And you’re my panther,” Blair stated in wonder.

“Would it bother you to be my life-mate?” Jim cautiously asked.

“Not a bit,” Blair answered, then shyly asked, “Would it bother you?”

“Not a bit.”

“Good.” Blair rewarded him with a beautiful smile. “Now, where were we?”

Jim gently pushed Blair back down on the bed and leaning over him, began to nuzzle his neck. “We were right….about….here.”

Their gentle laughter soon became sounds of pleasure.

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In the jungles of Peru, a certain shaman returned from his spirit walk and smiled.

The end

Back to Stories.

Acknowledgements: Thank you, Patt, for giving me the incentive to get off my butt and finally finish this story.