The Beginning of Control by Chrys

The Beginning of Control - Chrys

The man working in the opulently decorated office signed yet another paper, then tossed his pen down on the desk and sighed, rotating his head briefly to ease the taut muscles in his neck. Leaning back in his chair, he ran his eyes across the wall to his left, skipping over the crossed whips on either side of the monitor banks to focus on the monitors themselves.

All looked calm on the floor tonight. So far, at least, it was still quite early. A weeknight, though, so it would likely stay relatively quiet. If he finished his paperwork, he thought hopefully, he might even have time to play himself. It had been too long.

A face in one of the monitors caught his eye and he sighed again. He had to solve that problem, sooner rather than later if he could. But he had no idea what he could – or should -do.

A discreet tap on his door made him frown slightly. His staff knew he was busy. If they were disturbing him, it had to be important. “Enter,” he said.

He smiled as Ryan came through the door, coming to attention just inside. “I’m sorry, Sir,” he said. “But there’s someone here who wants to see you.”

“That’s one. There’s always someone who wants to see me,” he answered, his tone dry. Ryan flinched just a bit, but nodded. “What makes this person special?”

“Because it’s me,” came the reply in a totally unexpected voice. Its owner appeared in the doorway, and he smiled delightedly.

“Blair Sandburg,” he said. “Thank you, Ryan. I take it back, you made the right decision. You may go.”

Ryan murmured a brief thank you and slipped out of the office as his visitor entered, closing the door behind him. “Earning strokes just for letting you know you have a visitor, Matthew?”

He gestured to his desk. “When I have this much paperwork, yes.” He smiled widely. “But forget the paperwork, it can wait another day. How was Borneo?”

Blair literally bounced and Matthew bit back a laugh at his friend’s expression. “I take it that’s a silly question?”

“Borneo was fantastic! Let me tell you, Eli is the man to study with. I’m really hoping he asks me to go along on his next trip – to anywhere!”

The laugh broke through, but Blair only grinned in response, his eyes dancing. He looked wonderful, Matthew thought. His hair, usually loose or tied back, was caught in an intricate braid that made Matthew’s fingers itch to touch and trace the patterns. He was tanned and fit, muscle definition filling out clothing that had been a bit loose before the trip.

“So,” he said, pushing his chair back from the desk. “What will you do now?”

Blair shrugged. “Write my thesis. I’ve got all the data I need, now.” His eyes darkened for a minute, then he shrugged again. “And the committee’s happy with the new topic, so…”

“I thought the tribe you went to had a Sentinel?” Matthew knew how much Blair had wanted to write on his original topic. He’d searched for years for a subject, giving up only a few months ago. But there had been that last little bit of hope, he’d confessed before the trip to Borneo.

Blair shook his head. “Had is the operative term there. The man died six months before we arrived.”

“Ah.”

“Yeah. I’ve got all kinds of stories, and I’ll be able to write a few articles on the topic, but enough for a thesis?” He shook his head again. “No.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Water under the bridge, man. Nothing to be done about it. As Naomi says, detach with love, right?”

“Your mother, as much as I love her, never understood how much it meant to you. I do.”

Blair’s eyes met his own, unguarded pain showing for just a moment. “I know. Matthew, I appreciate it. But – I need to let it go.”

Matthew nodded slowly. “All right.”

“Thank you.” Blair closed his eyes for a moment, then smiled at him. “Enough of that. I need the news. Starting with – how is He?”

Matthew heard the capital letter as clearly as he knew Blair had meant him to. They both knew who Blair meant. There was only one person who they referred to that way, the Dom who had trained them both. He hesitated, not wanting to upset Blair further, but knew he had no choice.

“He’s not doing well, Blair. It – the cancer was too far advanced when they found it. You should – you should go visit.”

Blair nodded, his face sober. “I thought it might be too late. I’ll go.”

“Soon.”

“It’s that bad?” Matthew didn’t answer and Blair scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’ll go tomorrow.”

“That would be good.”

Blair took a deep breath. “Well. This hasn’t been the way I expected tonight to go.”

“I imagine not. It’s early still, though.”

“Early or not, I’m not sure I’m in the right head set for this, Matthew.”

Blair’s tone was a bit more relaxed, despite his words, and Matthew smiled internally. Blair needed this, and he knew it as much as Matthew did. “I could change that,” he offered, his voice silky, and let the smile out when Blair laughed.

“You wish,” he said, still laughing. “The offer’s appreciated, but I know which end of the whip I like to be on, thank you very much.”

“You’d like it, and you know it,” Matthew teased.

“Of course I would.” Blair shook his head and grinned at him. “You know the same tricks I do, after all. The offer’s appreciated, but the answer is still no.”

“Pity,” Matthew said. “Well, if you’re sure…” His voice trailed off and he stared at the monitor he’d been watching earlier, then a smile spread across his face slowly.

*****

Blair watched as something clicked into place in his friend’s head, raising an eyebrow at the evil smile that crossed Matthew’s face. “Uh-oh,” he said. “What just happened?”

Matthew shook his head. “Just a thought,” he said casually. He turned to face Blair, his expression a bit too innocent for Blair’s liking. “I’ll tell you what. Take a look around the club. See if anyone takes your interest. You need to play, Blair. You’re too wound up, and you know it.”

“I am,” Blair agreed. “But – I’m looking for someone who can handle me at my worst, Matthew. Not just to play tonight, but someone to be there as I write this thing that I don’t really want to write. That won’t come easy, and I’m not sure I’m up to starting the search tonight.”

“Mmm.” Matthew leaned back, his eyes watchful as he looked at Blair for a moment. “You’re right, someone like that won’t be easy to find. You still need to let some of the tension out, though.”

Blair shrugged. “I can wait.”

“Can you?” Matthew countered. “You are more tightly wound than I’ve ever seen you, Blair.”

“I can do whatever I have to.”

“I know. But this isn’t something you have to do, Blair.”

Blair didn’t say anything. He knew he was being stubborn, knew Matthew was right to call him on it. But he didn’t want to give in on this. He’d had too many casual relationships. It was time to start looking for something more, and a one-night fling, no matter how good it was, wasn’t the right way to go about beginning his search.

Matthew sighed, after a moment. “All right,” he said finally. “Look around tonight, take an hour. If you haven’t found someone you’re interested in by then – will I do?”

Blair choked. “Matthew?”

His friend didn’t say anything, just looked at him steadily. Blair shook his head, disbelieving. “You haven’t subbed for anyone in years. You don’t want to do this.”

Matthew shrugged. “It was good, three years ago. You made sure of that, you will tonight too.”

“Fuck,” Blair breathed. “You’re serious.”

Matthew nodded. “As long as you take a serious look at your options, then, yes. I am.”

Blair took a deep breath, his mind spinning. Matthew was right that he needed to let go, but… He nodded, once. “All right.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Matthew grinned at him, turning to wave a hand at the monitors. “Take a look, then. If you spot someone, we can head over to them, otherwise we’ll just wander the floor.”

Blair closed his eyes briefly, then turned, obediently, and began to look.

*****

Matthew sat still while Blair’s eyes moved over the screens. He hoped this worked. He thought it would, and he knew they’d be good together, but…

He hadn’t lied. It had been good, that night with Blair, and he remembered the peace of letting someone else be in charge fondly. That didn’t mean he was eager to experience it again. He was far too attached to being the one in control. He’d do it, and he’d enjoy it. Eventually. If he had to.

He just wanted to not have to.

With an effort that surprised him, he kept himself from tensing as Blair reached the third set of monitors. His fingers mentally crossed, he waited.

Three, two, one…

“Who. Is that?”

Yes!

“Who?” he asked nonchalantly. Blair pointed a finger at the screen. “Oh. That’s Jim. He’s new, just started coming about three weeks after you left for Borneo.”

“Military? The haircut and the way he’s standing… Top, I’ll bet.”

“Ex-military,” Matthew corrected. “He was an Army Ranger. Ex-cop, too. And he’s a sub.”

“Why ex?”

Matthew shrugged, hiding his elation at the carefully not-interested tone to Blair’s voice. “Ex isn’t really the right term, I suppose,” he said. “He’s on medical leave.”

“Injury?”

“More complicated than that.”

“So tell me.”

Matthew hid his smile as Blair glanced over at him, then returned his attention to the man on the screen. “Remember the Switchman?”

“Um. Yeah,” Blair said slowly. “She was the bomber, right?”

“Right. Last thing she did was take out a bus full of tourists, along with herself. Turns out she was the daughter of a man Jim had led in the Army, a man that died while he survived. It was all aimed at Jim, to punish him for living when her father didn’t.”

“That’s harsh.”

“You could say that. Anyway, Jim didn’t deal too well with finding that out. Had some issues, and eventually had to go on medical leave. He showed up here about a month later.”

“You know a lot about him.”

“You know how we screen, Blair.”

“You’ve topped him.”

“Of course.”

“Who else?”

“No one.”

Blair turned to face him, his expression filled with surprise. “No one?”

Matthew sighed. “Like I said. It’s complicated.” He leaned back in his chair, his eyes holding Blair’s. “Jim doesn’t know where his limits are. And neither do I.”

Blair shook his head. “That doesn’t make any sense, Matthew.”

Sighing again, Matthew turned back to the screen. “His limits change with every session. And I don’t mean expand. They change. One night he can take a caning and barely flinch, the next time a light flogger is too much. I haven’t allowed him to be with anyone else, because I can barely trust myself with him.”

Blair whistled, the sound low in the quiet office. “That’s… Wow.”

“Colin wants him. He saw Jim take a bullwhip once.”

“That would be a spectacularly bad idea.”

“Yes. Colin is very good at pushing limits, and very, very bad at finding them in the first place. With a sub who knows where his are, Colin is an outstanding Dom. With Jim? It would be a disaster.”

“So,” Blair said after a minute. “I can see why you aren’t letting anyone else top him. But I assume you haven’t gone exclusive.”

Matthew laughed. “No. I doubt I’ll ever find someone I want to limit myself to, my friend. No, Jim shows up, and if I’m not busy with something or someone else, we play. If I am, he watches for a while, then leaves. He’s not in all that often, actually, maybe once a week or so, if that.”

“And tonight?”

“That’s up to you, isn’t it?”

Blair took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. “Matthew…”

“Blair. There are three people I would trust Jim to. Myself. Him, of course. And you. If you want him, that is. I think you would be good together, but it’s your choice.”

“I – “ Blair stood silent for a long time, then nodded once, his eyes still on the monitor screen. “I want to meet him, at least.”

Matthew felt his shoulders relax at the quiet words. That should be all it took.

*****

Jim watched as Martina played with Sam. The bound sub was obviously enjoying everything his Mistress was doing, despite his cries and struggles. His cock was erect and leaking even with a ring on, and he arched into the flogger, not away from it. It was – not arousing.

It should have been. Every other person watching the show was being turned on by it. Both players were beautiful, and they were so clearly enjoying each other. But…

Jim sighed and turned away, wandering the club. He was beginning to think that this was going to be one of the times when Matthew simply didn’t acknowledge his presence. It happened, more often than Jim liked, but he could deal with it. Since he had to.

He could do anything he had to. He’d always known that, his military experience only reinforcing something his father had made plain early on. Jim Ellison was in control – of everything.

Except that he wasn’t. His life had exploded out of control even as Veronica Sarris had exploded his city, with him helpless to prevent it. He knew the doctors thought he ought to be committed. It was only Simon’s intervention that had stopped the department shrink from doing so.

Hell, sometimes he thought they were right, days when his clothing made him want to tear his skin off, days when he couldn’t eat because anything he tried tasted like fire in his mouth.

Days when he needed – this. The simplicity of what Matthew Smith could make him feel.

He hated that he needed it. But he knew that he felt more centered, more able to cope with smells and sounds that assaulted him, after a session with the Dom.

And he wasn’t going to get that relief tonight, clearly. He turned to head toward the exit, only to be stopped by a familiar voice.

“Jim.”

He turned back, meeting Matthew’s eyes briefly before dropping his gaze. “Sir,” he said, his voice even as he suppressed the hope that he’d been wrong.

“I want you to meet someone,” Matthew said, gesturing to his right. Jim hadn’t even noticed the man standing next to the Dom, his focus too tight. He swore at himself as he looked at the other man. He shouldn’t get that bound up in anyone.

The man was shorter than Matthew, sturdy, well-muscled. Hair bound back in braids exposed a beautiful face, and Jim felt his fingers twitch as he studied the man. He wanted to touch him. A pink tongue swept over a lower lip and Jim amended that thought. He wanted to taste him.

“This is my good friend, Blair,” Matthew was saying, his tone amused for some reason. “I was going to say that the two of you ought to get along well, but I can see that that is an understatement, if I go by how you haven’t taken your eyes off each other.”

Oh. So that was what was amusing the Dom. He was right, though. Jim was still staring at Blair, and the other man was staring back.

“Blair?”

Matthew’s tone was sharp, and Blair blinked and looked away from Jim. “Yeah?” he said, his voice husky and Jim wanted him to keep talking, wanted to hear more.

“I think the two of you need to talk. Don’t you?”

Oh, yes. Talk. They could do that.

Blair swallowed and nodded as he looked back at Jim. “Yes,” he said. “I think that would be a good idea. Don’t you, Jim?”

“Whatever you want,” Jim said, and Blair smiled.

“Yes.” His smile grew as he looked at Jim. “That’s what we need to talk about. What I want. What you want. And what we both need.”

“Well,” Matthew said, breaking into the tension between them, “I’m thinking that I’m no longer needed this evening, yes, Blair?”

Jim watched as Blair smiled at Matthew and agreed, his eyes dancing. Matthew winked at Jim, making him realize that he’d forgotten to keep his eyes lowered, turned and walked away. The two men watched him go, then Blair looked back to Jim.

“Let’s find somewhere quiet?” he suggested. Jim nodded silently and followed Blair to a small table tucked between two large planters. He waited until Blair chose a chair, then sat as well.

Blair looked at him for a moment, his face unreadable. Jim met his eyes, and after a little while, Blair smiled at him.

“I love Matthew dearly,” he said. “He’s one of my oldest friends. But I’m tempted to smack him right now.”

“Why?”

Blair laughed. “Because if this works out, he’s going to be insufferably smug.”

Jim had to agree with that. The man was right. “He will, won’t he?”

“Yep. And-“ Blair shook his head. “I’ll be okay with that. How about you?”

Jim swallowed, then nodded. Blair leaned back in his chair, his face serious as he studied Jim. “This is the awkward discussion part,” he said. “Necessary, of course.”

“So we should get it over with, then, “ Jim suggested, and Blair laughed.

“Right. I’ll start.” He lifted a hand and ran it over his face before dropping it into this lap as he continued to look at Jim. Jim met his gaze and waited.

“I’m not looking for a slave,” he started, and Jim felt a relaxation he hadn’t expected. He didn’t know if he could do that, no matter how much he wanted this man. Blair went on. “I’m not even looking for a full-time sub, although I’d like a full-time relationship. I want someone to talk to, eat meals with, watch games with – and on occasion, dominate. I’d prefer a sexual relationship, but I don’t need one.” He took a deep breath. “I’m about to start writing my thesis, I wouldn’t have time for a full-time sub even if I wanted one.” His eyes were intent as he looked at Jim. “How does that mesh with what you want?”

“Very well, actually,” Jim said honestly. “Most of the time I don’t need or want – anything, really. I haven’t been in a relationship for a while, though. And that didn’t work out well. So I’m not sure if I can give you what you’re looking for that way.”

“He leave you?”

“She divorced me.”

A raised eyebrow was the only sign of surprise Blair gave. “And the rest of it?”

Jim refused to back down from this. “The rest of it – yes. But - I control my life,” he said evenly. “I always have.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Because I don’t seem to be able to control myself.”

“Explain.”

Jim shook his head. “I can’t. I don’t understand it myself.”

Blair smiled at him, laying his hand on the table, palm up. “Try.”

Jim closed his eyes for a moment. “It started after the Switchman case,” he said slowly. “Do you know…”

“I know about it,” Blair said. “The daughter of someone who served with you.”

“Yeah. The daughter of someone I let die.”

“Could you have stopped it?”

The tone was honest curiosity, and Jim shrugged before shaking his head. “No.”

“Then it wasn’t your fault, man.”

“Maybe not. But she thought it was, and to punish me for it, she killed almost a hundred people, including herself.”

“Still not your fault.”

“I didn’t figure it out in time.”

“Is that why you’re not a cop anymore?”

“Yes. No. It’s complicated.”

Blair sighed. “Sounds like something that you need to work through, then.”

“There’s more to it.”

“So tell me.”

Jim didn’t want to. He knew he’d have to, though, if he wanted this to go anywhere, so he took a deep breath and forced himself to speak. “Trying to catch her, I started seeing things, hearing things. The doctors can’t find a reason, and the shrinks think I’m crazy.”

“Ah.” Blair nodded slowly. “That would explain the medical leave.”

“It should have meant I’d be fired,” Jim corrected. “My captain went to bat for me, and if I can ever get this under control, I’ll be able to go back. It’s not looking likely, though.”

“None of this explains why you’re here.” Blair’s face was implacable, and Jim knew he’d have to say it.

“After I’ve been here, after – afterwards – I’m more in control. I feel more settled in myself, I’m more aware of what is normal, what I can and should be seeing, hearing – feeling.”

“That makes sense. After a session, a sub is always more grounded and comfortable in themselves.” Blair’s eyes narrowed as he looked at Jim. “Is this true even after a session where your reactions aren’t true to what is being done? Matthew mentioned that sometimes you can take heavy punishment, and sometimes you can’t.”

“Yes,” Jim said. “It doesn’t seem to matter how intense the scene is. If I get into sub space, once I come back from it, I’m more in control.”

“How long does it last?”

Jim shrugged, unable to answer that question. Blair seemed to understand, or at least, not care to push for the answer at the moment. He leaned back, his eyes closed for a moment as he thought. Jim waited. He didn’t have any other option, after all.

“All right,” Blair said finally. He opened his eyes to study Jim. “We’ll see how tonight goes. If it goes well for both of us, we’ll see how we get along outside of Carnivale, okay?”

Jim nodded. Blair smiled at him. “Let’s start you getting where you need to be, then. Come here and kneel next to me. I’ll think a bit on what we’re going to do, then we’ll go get a room key.”

Jim rose, silently, and moved over next to the other man. He took a deep breath, then folded himself down to kneel by Blair’s side. He kept his eyes down, but was startled by Blair’s next words.

“Look at me for a minute, Jim.”

Following orders, he met Blair’s eyes. They were warm, filled with both understanding and desire, and something within him relaxed. Yes. This would work.

“Safewords?”

“Yellow and red. Sir.”

“Those will work for now,” Blair agreed. “If this works out, we might want to pick something more personal.”

Jim nodded, and Blair smiled at him. For the first time, he smiled back.

*****

Matthew felt like cheering as he watched Jim move to kneel by Blair’s side. The monitor had been the focus of his attention since he had returned to his office, and for a time he had thought it was going to fall through. But apparently not. Leaning forward, he pushed a button.

“Yes, Sir?”

“Ryan. Take the key to Room 14 to Blair, please. He’s at table 22. Then come in here.”

“Yes, Sir.”

He looked at the stack of papers he still had to deal with, then pushed them away. He had better things planned for the rest of the night.

*****

You can tell he’s been down for a while, But my god it’s so beautiful when the boy smiles

The words to a song he normally didn’t like flashed through Blair’s mind as he stared, stunned, at the face turned up to his. He’d known this man was handsome. But the smile made him beautiful. Unable to resist, he leaned down, slowly enough that he knew Jim would figure out what he was doing, and kissed him.

He tasted sweet, like apple juice, and Blair savored the taste for a moment before flicking his tongue over his lips. Jim opened them obediently and Blair deepened the kiss, chasing the flavor until he got beneath it and began to taste Jim himself. Jim was sweeter than the juice had been, he thought dimly, participating in the kiss without any effort to take it over. Perfect.

He didn’t know how long the kiss lasted, didn’t really care, either. It would have gone on longer except that Blair suddenly knew he wanted more, wanted to move on and touch and see and taste other parts of Jim. He pulled back slowly, reluctantly, only able to do so because he knew that what was still to come would be worth it. Jim’s eyes were closed, but opened slowly to look at him briefly before being lowered to the floor.

“Sir?” he said, his voice husky.

“It’s okay. Just time to get a room key, don’t you think?”

Jim nodded and Blair smiled down at him before pushing his chair back and standing up. Jim rose gracefully, obviously having had practice getting up from a kneeling position. Not surprising. Matthew liked his subs graceful. Blair appreciated that.

He turned, about to head to the main bar, and halted. “Ryan?” he said, surprised.

Ryan was on his knees a few feet away from the table, his eyes on the floor. He lifted a hand, held flat to show the key he was holding. “Master Matthew sent you this, Sir.”

Blair sighed. Yes, insufferably smug. “Thank you, Ryan,” he replied, taking the key. “Which room is it?”

“Room 14, Sir.”

“All right. You’re going back to Matthew?” Ryan nodded silently and Blair smiled. Ryan had come a long way since he’d first showed up at Carnivale. “Tell him I said ‘thank you’. You can go.”

“Yes, Sir.”

The sub rose and backed a few steps, then turned to go. Blair watched him for a minute, then turned to Jim. “Let’s go,” he ordered, and walked away, not looking to see if Jim followed him. He knew the other man would.

They were half way across the club when the glasses fell. Blair had been watching Jim in the mirror, seeing how he moved, not quite at heel, although he was trying. They could work on that, if it was something Jim wanted, he thought. And then the crash of splintering glass rang through the club and Jim cringed, his hands coming up to cover his ears as he stopped walking.

Blair spun, his hands going to Jim’s arms, not to pull them down but to support them. Jim’s eyes were tightly closed and his face taut with pain. Blair stroked his fingers along Jim’s skin, his touch firm. It took a little while, but finally Jim relaxed slightly and opened his eyes. He blinked when he saw Blair so close to him, then looked down, red staining his cheeks.

“Sorry,” he said quietly.

“Nothing to be sorry about,” Blair replied, his voice just as quiet. “I take it that was a problem with your hearing?”

Jim nodded. “Yes, Sir,” he answered. “It felt like there were knives going into my ears.”

“Better now?” Jim nodded again and Blair let go of him. “Do you still want to do this?”

“Yes! Please. I have to…”

Jim’s voice was tense and Blair shushed him. “It’s all right,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure.”

He turned and walked away, watching to make sure that Jim was all right with that. He was right behind Blair, so Blair relaxed a bit and headed for the stairs, his mind racing.

He knew what it looked like. He’d been studying the subject long enough, after all. If he was right – well. It could just be sight, touch, and hearing, and he’d seen plenty of cases involving three of the senses. If it was smell and taste as well?

Jim’s doctors thought he was crazy. They were wrong. Blair just needed to find out how wrong.

*****

There were no further incidents before they reached the door to Room 14, for which Blair was grateful. He wasn’t sure how much Jim could take, yet, and if he was in pain, Blair wanted it to be because of something he’d done, something ultimately pleasurable for Jim. He opened the door, nodding at Jim to enter first.

“Strip,” he said softly, closing the door behind him, the dullness of soundproofing flattening the word. Jim began, unselfconsciously, toeing off his shoes as he unbuttoned his shirt. Blair watched, noting that although he was more relaxed, there were still marks of tension on his face.

“What can you hear?” he asked. Jim glanced up at him, then down again.

“The music in the bar,” he answered. “People talking. Your heart beating.” He flushed suddenly. Blair smiled.

“What else?”

“Ryan and Matthew.” Jim’s flush darkened. “They’re having a good time. Sir.”

“Good for them,” Blair replied. “They deserve it.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Jim finished undressing and stood nude, at a parade rest, Blair thought, his feet spread, his shoulders back. “Nice,” he said. “Not quite a proper display position, but I like it anyway.”

“Sir?”

“Put your hands behind your back, holding the opposite wrist.”

Jim moved as Blair directed, the new position bringing his chest forward. “Yes,” Blair said, walking around him. “Very nice.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Blair reached a finger out and trailed it along the line of Jim’s six-pack. “I want you to do something for me,” he said.

“Yes, Sir,” Jim said immediately, his skin rippling at even that gentle touch. Blair smiled.

“So eager,” he teased. “It shouldn’t be hard. You know those old-style radio dials, the ones with numbers from 0 to 10 for volume?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Jim sounded confused. He’d figure it out, Blair thought. Hoped. It had worked with others, anyway.

“I want you to picture one in your head. The label on it is sound. I want you to set 4 as being normal hearing, which means you should not be able to hear anything other than what is in this room – the refrigerator, my voice. All right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

The confusion was still there, and Blair continued before the image could dissipate. “Where is the dial set, Jim?”

“Seven,” Jim said immediately.

“Good. Now that you can see it, I want you to turn it down. Turn it so it’s set at four.”

Jim stood silent for a moment, then his face relaxed and he lifted his eyes to gaze at Blair with disbelief. “It worked.”

“Very good,” Blair praised. “Can you keep it there?”

Jim frowned, then shrugged, looking at the floor. “I don’t know. Sir.”

“It’s all right if you can’t,” Blair said. “Now that you know how, you can turn it up or down whenever you want to. Or you should be able to, at any rate.”

Jim closed his eyes and swallowed. Blair watched as the muscle in his jaw jumped, fascinated. “Sir, I – thank you,” he said finally. “You have no idea what this might mean.”

“Oh, I think I do,” Blair said lightly. “I’ve been studying people with enhanced senses for years, after all.”

“What?”

“Careful,” Blair snapped, frowning at the tone Jim used. Jim ducked his head, obviously aware he’d overstepped, so Blair decided to let it go at the warning. “My Masters was on people with multiple enhanced senses, up to three at a time. If I’d found anyone with all five senses enhanced, my doctoral thesis would have been, too. Instead, I’ve had to change my topic.”

He turned, walking over to the softly humming refrigerator in the corner of the room, pulling out a bottle of water, and after a moment’s thought, a bottle of apple juice. Setting them on the counter, he looked back at Jim, who hadn’t moved. “I’m probably the closest thing to an expert on heightened senses. And you’ve got them, Jim. I promise you that. Or that dial trick wouldn’t have worked.”

“Does it – Sir, does it keep working?”

There was a desperate hope in Jim’s voice and Blair smiled gently at him. “It has so far. There’s one woman I’ve been working with for over five years. She has smell and taste and vision, which makes her a fantastic vintner.”

Opening the apple juice, he offered it to Jim, who opened his mouth, keeping his hands where they were. Blair nodded approval, making a mental note that he would have to thank Matthew for doing the basic training with Jim. Bringing the bottle to Jim’s lips, he tilted it slowly, letting him drink until he pulled back slightly. “Enough?”

“Yes, thank you, Sir.”

“Good,” Blair said, setting the bottle back down. Taking a small drink of water, he capped it as well, then looked back to Jim. “Where are your dials for sight and touch, Jim?”

He’d asked unexpectedly, hoping to startle the other man into finding them without thinking. He smiled as Jim answered without hesitation.

“Five and six, Sir.”

“Sight’s at five?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“All right. Take it down to four as well.” He debated for a minute. “You decide whether you want touch at four or five, just let me know which. It’ll affect how hard I hit you, and with what.”

Jim swallowed. “Five, Sir.”

“Okay. Flogger, then.” Blair stepped forward, placing a hand on Jim’s chest, the skin warm and smooth beneath his palm. “Tell me your safewords again.”

“Yellow and red, Sir.”

“Good. Across the bench, please.”

Crossing the room to the cabinet against the wall, he debated which tool to use, finally opting for a suede flogger. It was soft, and the strips were wide enough that it would have more of a thud than a zing, which with Jim’s sense of touch up a bit was a good idea. He thought about insisting that Jim turn it down to normal, but decided to let him have it where he wanted it. Blair would be hurting him either way, and it was Jim’s choice, after all.

Turning back to Jim, he admired him for a moment. He was lying across the spanking bench, his hands gripping the handles, his body stretched and exposed. Beautiful. Walking back to him, Blair bent down and fastened the cuffs around Jim’s wrists, making sure they were snug, but not tight. He left the ankles free, trusting that Jim had enough discipline to stay still.

They would see if that was true, at least.

“Ready?” he asked, not giving Jim a chance to answer before the flogger fell. Jim hissed in surprise and pain, his skin reddening immediately. Blair hadn’t used all his strength, hadn’t needed to, but even at half-strength, the flogger stung.

He knew exactly what it felt like, after all, even if he didn’t know what the change in Jim’s senses would mean for the feeling.

“One,” Jim forced out and Blair smiled.

“You don’t need to count,” he said. “Just feel.”

He settled in, the flogger falling at irregular intervals, always varying the placement. He watched as Jim fought to anticipate the next blow, his muscles straining to move even as he forced himself to stay still beneath the suede strips. His skin was turning red, and Blair knew that if he touched it, it would feel hot beneath his fingers. Not yet, he thought.

It took longer than Blair had thought it would, but he knew the exact moment that Jim relaxed, no longer anticipating and fighting the sensation, but accepting and reacting to it as it came. He began to move, not much, just tiny little movements, arching into the flogger as it kissed his skin. He was hard, and Blair smiled to himself. Oh, yes, this was lovely.

“Don’t come,” he said softly, and Jim moaned.

“I mean it, Jim,” he said, his arm falling again. Jim gasped as the suede hit him.

“Yes, Sir,” he managed, then moaned again.

“Good boy,” Blair praised.

His strokes were lighter now. Jim’s skin, already sensitized, didn’t require much force to maintain the feelings rolling through the bound sub. Blair began to trail the flogger tails over Jim’s body after each blow before lifting it to strike again. Jim cried out, his hands flexing on the grips. “Please,” he gasped. “Please.”

“Please what?” Blair asked, his voice calm as he hit Jim again.

“Please,” Jim groaned. “More.”

“More of this?” Blair asked as the flogger fell once more. “Or,” he took a step forward, and ran a hand over Jim’s ass, “more of this?”

Jim pushed up into him. “Yes,” he begged, that strong voice broken and pleading. “Touch me.”

“Yes. I will.” Blair dropped the flogger, both hands skimming lightly over hot, red skin, Jim whimpering at the sensation. Trailing his fingertips along Jim’s back, he bent and licked delicately at one cheek, then bit down carefully. Jim groaned again, the sound low and going straight to Blair’s cock. He couldn’t remember when he’d been this hard, and he hoped, really, really hoped, that this was going where he wanted it to.

He wouldn’t push Jim into sex, though, it would have to be Jim’s choice.

No matter how much he wanted it.

*****

It hurt and his body tensed against it, fighting to move, despite the cuffs, despite his wanting this. He couldn’t figure out when it was coming, couldn’t prepare, couldn’t do anything about it. Fire raced through him with every blow from the flogger, his nerves screaming along his skin. And that was the point, wasn’t it?

Along his skin, defining and outlining him, forcing him to focus on where and who he was. Making him feel the thing that touched him, hit him, slid along his body and kept him within it. He fought it, fought the wanting, the need to give in to it, for as long as he could. And then…

Between one strike and the next, he relaxed. The pain, that once he’d avoided, now became the all consuming thing that he wanted, and he could feel his body arching into it, the movement he’d controlled now controlling him as he tried to get more. He was flying, and at the same time he was tethered so tightly to himself that he could almost believe that he’d never been lost, never forgotten where the limits of his reality were.

This – this is what he’d craved, wanted – needed.

It went on and on, and despite his weak protest when ordered not to come, he welcomed the command. It allowed him to concentrate on maintaining this feeling, rather than racing toward the completion he’d been denied. Soft suede hit him, never coming when or where he might expect it, and after a while he stopped expecting it, just floated in the sensations.

It changed, just a bit, and he moaned, his need suddenly overwhelmingly present. “Please,” he begged, not really knowing what he was asking for, just asking. Cool hands touched him, and he wanted, needed more.

Needed to be touched. Needed to be taken.

And so he asked for that as well.

*****

Gods, Jim felt so good. Smooth skin over tight, strong muscle, hot and red from Blair’s flogger, pushing up into his touch and begging for more. Blair swallowed hard, his fingers biting into Jim’s ass as he gripped harder than he’d meant to, relaxing when Jim cried out.

“So good,” Jim moaned. “Please…”

“What do you want, Jim?” Blair kept his voice even with an effort. He knew what he wanted, but Jim would have to ask for it. And then – his eyes closed briefly.

“You,” came the answer. “In me? Please?”

“Yes,” Blair said, then leaned down and licked at the flesh still showing the marks of his fingers. “Yes.”

He stepped away, hating that he had to, Jim’s protest making him move even more quickly. Grabbing a packet of lube and a condom from the bowl set on the counter, he went back to Jim’s side, soothing him with a hand on his back. Jim stilled under his touch, muscles that had tensed relaxing again.

“I’m here,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Jim shivered beneath his fingers as he trailed them over his back and ass, dipping between his legs to brush over Jim’s opening. Jim moaned, spreading his legs wider and Blair bit his lip, the sight making him need the sharp pain to slow his own need a bit. Hurriedly he undid his pants and pushed them down, not willing to take the time to undress.

He wanted this man, and he wanted him now.

Slicking his fingers, he pushed at the tight ring of muscle, feeling Jim push back onto his touch. One finger slid in easily, a second almost as quickly. Jim tightened around his fingers, a nearly constant litany of “please” spilling from his lips as he asked for more.

Blair would give him more, gladly. He hated to pull his hand away from that amazing heat, but made himself, hearing Jim whimper as he did. Opening the condom, he prepared himself quickly, and set the tip of his cock to Jim’s entrance. “Now,” he said, and pushed in.

He sank in slowly, barely holding back the need to shove and batter his way inside this strong man who lay, willingly, beneath his control. Jim was more than a quick fuck, and Blair refused to treat him as one. He felt so good, so amazingly good, and when Blair was as deeply within him as he could go, he stopped for a moment and just felt. It was perfect.

But perfect doesn’t last, and he had to move, to pull out and drive in again, Jim moving with him, meeting every thrust with one of his own, pushing back as hard as his bonds would allow. He was panting, Blair could feel Jim’s body convulsing every time Blair’s cock slid over Jim’s prostate. It couldn’t last.

“Come for me,” he said, commanded, and felt Jim spasm around him as he was obeyed. It brought him over the edge as well, and he came, as deep within Jim as he could get. He wanted to stay there, to stay connected to Jim, but he couldn’t. Reluctantly he pulled out, disposing of the condom and tucking himself in quickly before returning his attention to his sub. Jim lay draped bonelessly over the bench, his face turned to the side as he sucked in large gasps of air.

Blair bent and released the cuffs. “Up you get,” he said gently, helping Jim to rise. Unsteady from the flogging and the sex, Jim staggered to the bed with Blair’s help, sitting on the edge with his hands on his knees. “Stay there,” Blair said.

Snagging an unopened bottle of water from the refrigerator, he grabbed his own as well and moved back to sit next to Jim. Opening the new bottle, he offered it to Jim, who took it and drank thirstily.

“Thank you, Sir,” he said hoarsely, handing it back.

“You’re welcome. But the scene is over, Jim, and my name is Blair.”

“I – yes.”

Blair thought for a moment, taking a drink of his own water, then tossed the bottle off to the side. “I’d like to hold you for a while. Is that okay?”

“Yes, Sir. Blair,” Jim corrected himself and lifted his eyes to meet Blair’s gaze, smiling. “I’d like that.”

“That’s – good,” Blair said, once again caught up in the beauty of that smile. “Come here.”

Jim moved into his arms, and they shifted around, lying on the bed, until both men were comfortable, lying entwined and warm. They lay together for a long time, until Jim chuckled, the sound rumbling in his chest.

“What?”

Jim chuckled again. “Tonight went well, I think. So now we have to find out if we actually like each other. I just think that’s – funny.”

Blair laughed. “it is, isn’t it? Um.” He thought for a moment. “Tomorrow I’m in meetings with my dissertation committee, pretty much all day. Dinner?”

“Yeah, that’ll work.” Jim shrugged. “I’m pretty much available any time, Chief.”

“Chief?” Blair asked, amused.

“It’s the braids.” Jim shrugged again. “They seem kind of tribal.”

“Oh, they totally are.” Blair smiled. “It’s not the worst nickname I’ve had, at least.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

They lay together in quiet for a few more minutes before Blair shifted. “So I’ll call you when I get out of my meetings, then.”

“Sounds good. I’m looking forward to it.”

“So am I. Jim?”

“Yeah?”

“Sight, sound, and touch. Is it just those three?”

Jim was silent for a long time, then he sighed. “No. It’s not.”

“All five?”

“All five.”

Blair didn’t know what to say, what to think. All those years, all that time spend hunting for a Sentinel, with nothing to show for it. His dissertation topic changed, his life’s course altered. And now, he’d found a Sentinel, a man living in modern society with all five senses enhanced. He’d slept with this man, wanted to build a relationship with this man. He couldn’t study him, could not possibly use him as a research subject, even if his committee would allow him to change back. Not and continue to see him, touch him, dominate him and control him. Not and love him, which Blair was horribly afraid was all too possible.

He would have to choose. What meant more to him, his career and life-long goal, or this man he’d just met?

“That isn’t a problem, is it, Chief?”

And with that question, his choice was made. “No,” he said, his arms tightening around Jim. “It’s not a problem at all.”

The end

Back to Story Index

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Patt and Lisa, for their patience and for dealing with the art, and to bardicfaerie, (Kelly) for the beta read. Thank you to Nicci Mac for the lovely cover manip. And as always, for my lady, even though she will never read this one. They’re all for her.

Notes: This is actually an AU of a novel I’ve been working on for some time now. Hopefully I can get that one done now.