Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter – Lyn
Blair Sandburg jumped at the voice, causing his grease-covered hand to slip on the wrench and felt the edge of the pipe he'd just cut bite into his finger. He bit down on the epithet that found its way to his tongue and scooted out from his position under the sink, looking up into a pretty, smiling face.
"Hey, Molly," he said. He sat up and wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving a swathe of dirt in its path.
"Mom thought you'd like some lunch," Molly said. She held out a plate piled high with sandwiches.
"Thank you," Blair answered, smiling back at her. He pushed himself to his feet and looked around. "Let me just clean up first. The leak is fixed anyway."
"That's great, Blair. Here," Molly passed him a towel and watched as he washed his hands and packed up his tools. Then she led the way out to the dining room table and placed the sandwiches in the center.
"I hope you're going to help me eat these," Blair said, indicating the platter. "There is no way I can get through all of those on my own."
"Okay," Molly agreed, settling into the chair opposite him.
Hannah Brown appeared from the kitchen at that moment and hurried forward with two steaming mugs of coffee. "Oh, good. You've fixed the leak then, Blair?"
Blair nodded, his mouth full of ham and salad. Swallowing quickly, he answered. "All done, Mrs. Brown. Thanks for lunch. I didn't get time for breakfast. Mr. Jackson said he heard rodents under his bed again."
Hannah rolled her eyes. "That man. I think he's just lonely, you know? Since his wife died."
"I know," Blair agreed. "I don't mind. I feel sorry for him. It must be awful to be alone like that."
"You'd know," Hannah answered. "When are you going to find a nice girl and settle down, Blair?"
Molly rolled her eyes behind her mother's back and Blair tried not to burst out laughing.
"You're such a nice boy, so hard-working, not to mention good-looking. Any girl would be lucky to have you," Hannah continued, oblivious to her daughter's antics.
Blair shrugged. "I guess I just haven't found the right person yet," he replied.
Molly schooled her features as Hannah turned to her. "Neither has Molly, have you, dear? Why don't you two go see a movie or something one night?"
"Mom," Molly groaned.
Hannah tut-tutted as she headed back to the kitchen. "It's just a movie, Molly," she said. "It's not as though I'm asking Blair to marry you." She smiled at Blair and raised her eyebrows.
"I'm sure Blair's got better things to do with his time than go to the movies with me," Molly said.
Blair finished his sandwich and wiped his mouth. "No, not at all," he said, smiling shyly. "I'll call you."
"Thanks," Molly answered. "I'd like that. Just as friends?"
"Just friends," Blair agreed. "I'd better go. I'm meeting someone and I have to get cleaned up first."
Hannah smiled again and disappeared into the kitchen.
Molly followed Blair to the front door. "Thanks for getting me out of that."
"No problem," Blair answered. "It's just a movie, right?"
Molly shook her head. "Mom's so desperate for grandchildren. I swear she'd marry me off to old Mr. Jackson, if she thought there was a chance."
Blair whooped with laughter at the thought, then sobered. "It's not that I don't like you, Molly. Any guy would be lucky to have you," he said. "It's just that I, well, I am interested in someone."
Molly laid a hand on his arm. "You don't need to explain, Blair," she answered. "We're good friends. Friends go to movies all the time. I've got to say, I'm kind of relieved that you don't see me in a romantic way."
Blair's eyes lit up. "So there's someone waiting in the wings?"
Molly shook her head. "Not exactly. I'll see you later, all right?"
"Sure. I'll be in touch."
Molly nodded then placed a quick kiss on Blair's cheek, smiling as he blushed. She watched the young man walk up to the elevator and punch the button. As the doors opened, he looked back and waved.
"Hold the elevator!" Blair looked up at the call and pressed the door open button, swallowing nervously. Detective Jim Ellison hurried in and stood at the back of the car. "Thanks," he said.
"You're welcome," Blair answered, wincing as his voice cracked. He froze as the detective leaned close, reaching over his shoulder to punch the ground floor button. The two men rode in silence, and Blair stood facing forward, affording himself a distorted view of the other man in the polished metal of the control panel.
Ellison brushed past him as he got out on the ground floor and Blair prayed he couldn't feel the erection that tented his pants. "You're bleeding, Chief," the detective said. "You should put a bandage on that cut."
Blair nodded dumbly and watched as Jim walked out of the apartment building. Sighing, the young janitor adjusted his shirts to cover his burgeoning hard-on and pressed the button for the basement.
Megan Conner looked across the table at her silent companion and sighed. "Blair? Earth to Sandburg."
"Hmm, what?" Blair started at the touch of Megan's hand on his and dragged his gaze from the scene outside the restaurant window.
"Have you heard a word I've said?" Megan asked, a smile softening her words.
Blair sighed. "God, Megan. I'm sorry. What were you saying?"
"You're thinking about that bloody copper again, aren't you?"
Blair reddened and reached for his wineglass. "No, I've just got a lot on my mind and I'm a little tired, that's all."
"Don't try and pull the wool over my eyes, Sandy. I can see right through you. Come on now, tell Aunty Megan all about it."
Blair leaned back in his chair and grinned at the pretty brunette opposite him. He had met Megan Conner, a forthright, ebullient Australian nurse at a gay bar that he often frequented. Blair was bi-sexual but it was something he kept to himself. Though he was extremely popular at the apartment block where he was the live-in janitor, he wasn't sure of his acceptance should his secret get out.
Blair had been raised by a free-spirited single mother who believed that there was good in all people and that everyone should be accepted for whom, not what they were. It was an admirable premise and one that Blair himself had espoused until the night he'd left his favorite hangout and been beaten and very nearly raped by a group of thugs out for an evening's entertainment. Megan had come across him as he tried to drag himself out of the alley and back to his car. He'd argued against going to the hospital but she'd insisted that he needed medical treatment and had taken him back to her apartment where she cleaned and bandaged his wounds and nursed him back to health.
Though he'd felt an attraction toward his savior initially, Megan had told him that she was very definitely gay and not interested in a relationship with him. The friendship had become close over the past two years and Blair looked upon Megan now as the big sister he'd never had.
"Blair? Talk to me."
Megan's voice brought him back to the present and he took a deep breath before answering. "I don't know what it is, Megan. The minute I laid eyes on this guy I knew he's the one I've been looking for all my life. I mean, he's tall, handsome, he's got the body of Adonis, but it's his face. He looks so sad most of the time, and he's got the most incredible eyes. Kind eyes that look like they can see into your very soul."
"Very poetic," Megan said. "You really fancy this bloke, don't you?"
Blair sighed and nodded.
"So ask him out."
Blair choked on his wine and reached hastily for a napkin to mop up the spill. "Are you kidding?" he asked incredulously. "Detective Straight?"
"Well, what are you going to do? You can't keep moping around the way you are, looking all love-struck and forlorn. I'll have to start calling you Camille."
"Very funny," Blair grinned, amused despite himself. "No, I've decided Detective Jim Ellison is a lost cause and there are definitely other fish in the sea."
Megan's face brightened. "There are?"
"Yep," Blair nodded. He leaned forward and rested his chin on his clasped hands. "Her name is Molly Brown and she's single and she lives at 852."
"Not the unsinkable Molly Brown?" Megan asked mischievously.
"Get real, Megan. She's not that old. She's funny and smart and beautiful."
"So ask her out already."
"I might just do that," Blair answered, taking a final sip of his wine. "So, how's your love-life going?"
"Ah," Megan began, raising one finger for emphasis. "Now that may just be the world's greatest romantic tragedy."
Blair quickly finger combed his hair and straightened his jacket before knocking at the Browns' front door. He heard footsteps from within and then Hannah Brown opened the door.
"Blair! How nice to see you again. Come in. Come in."
"Hello, Mrs. Brown," Blair followed the small woman into the living room. "Any more problems with the bathroom pipe?"
Hannah shook her head. "Not a one, but I'm sure you're not here about pipes." Turning away from him, she called out loudly, causing Blair to wince slightly. "Molly! Blair's here."
Blair fixed a smile back on his face by the time Hannah turned back to him.
"Hey, Blair." Molly walked in to the living room and greeted the young man with a wave and a smile. She was dressed casually in faded jeans and a blue sweater that accentuated her azure eyes. Her blonde waist length hair was tied back from her face in a loose ponytail.
"Hi, Molly," Blair replied. "About that movie? Um, if you're free, I thought we could go tonight."
"Tonight? Oh." Molly sighed.
Blair swallowed hard. "I can take a rain check, if you don't feel up to it?"
"Of course she wants to go," Hannah interrupted. "She's done nothing but mope around the apartment for the last couple of days. I'll get your purse. Why don't you let me treat you?" Hannah hurried off, still talking.
Molly and Blair looked at each other.
"Look, if you'd rather not..." Blair began.
Molly shook her head. "No, no. It's okay. Mom's right. It will be nice to get out of the apartment for awhile."
"Are you sure?"
Molly nodded emphatically. "I'm sure. What do you want to go see."
Blair and Molly strolled along the beach slowly, both enjoying the cool breeze drifting over them. Molly stole a glance at Blair as he walked next to her, his head down and his hands shoved deep into his pockets. He'd seemed preoccupied all evening and she worried he was already regretting his decision to ask her out. Then again, that would at least make telling him what she had to so much easier.
"Penny for them," she said.
Blair looked up quickly, then smiled at her apologetically. "I'm sorry. I haven't exactly shown you a great time, have I?"
Molly shook her head. "It's all right. I had fun. The movie was good; the company is even better. Something's bothering you though. Do you want to talk about it?"
"It's nothing," Blair assured her.
"Is it about Detective Ellison?" Molly asked.
Blair stopped dead in his tracks and turned to her in surprise. "How did you.... No, it's not..." He sighed and threw his hands in the air. "Am I that obvious?" he said. "Megan says I am."
Molly raised an eyebrow. "Megan?"
"She's an old friend," Blair offered.
He leaned over and linked his arm in Molly's, steering her up a small path to a grassed area overlooking the beach. Sinking down onto a bench, Molly smiled up at him and motioned for him to join her.
"You're in love with Jim Ellison," she said. She held up a hand as Blair began to protest. "Hey, no problem there. What's not to love? I mean the man is a hunk. It's just that I didn't realize that you were gay. I've seen the way you look at him but you always have beautiful women around you. I thought it was my imagination until I saw your face when he got into the elevator the other day."
Blair took a deep breath. "I'm bi-sexual," he explained. "I knew it was crazy having an attraction toward a man who's so obviously straight but it's like my heart didn't want to hear what my head was saying. I know I don't have a chance with him, he doesn't even know I exist."
They were both silent for a moment, gazing out over the little park, watching the breeze pick up leaves and old picnic wrappings, sending them scurrying along the ground.
"Is that why you decided to ask me out?" Molly asked finally.
"God, no," Blair answered. Then he shook his head and turned to face her. "I guess, in a way, yes. Not the way you think, though, Molly, honestly. I like you a lot. I really do. I've always thought that maybe you and me...." He reached over and took her hand. "Then I got swept up in this little daydream of mine. Talk about building castles in the air. I really do like you, Molly."
Blair leaned forward slowly; watching Molly watching him as their faces drew closer together. His arm snaked around to the back of her head, pulling her in close for a kiss. He was startled when she pushed away from him roughly and stood up.
"Molly? Oh, God, what an absolute screw-up I've made of things," Blair groaned. He lowered his head to his hands and scrubbed at his face. "I didn't mean for you to think you were second best. Megan always said I could obfuscate my way out of anything, that I had a way with words. Well, all the right words have deserted me now. I didn't mean to offend you, honestly."
He looked up as Molly knelt before him and placed a finger to his lips. "Blair, it's not that. I haven't told anyone except my closest friends about this. I'm gay, Blair, and I'm sorry to say you're just not my type."
Jim Ellison opened the door to his apartment and threw his keys into the little basket he kept on the counter. The keys hit the edge of the basket and he watched with a thrill of annoyance as they dropped to the ground. He sighed and bent to pick them up then walked into the bathroom stripping off his jacket as he went and tossing it over the back of the couch.
He turned on the water for the shower and stretched mightily before stripping off and stepping under the warm spray. He was bone weary, after being on a stakeout that had stretched over two days. It had been followed by a long chase on foot through the streets of Cascade trying to catch the suspects in a series of robberies. That they had evaded him finally made him mad as hell. Especially since he had unconsciously used his gift for the first time ever on the job and it had let him down. He had opened his hearing up to hear which alley the thieves had taken in their flight, extending his sight to attempt to catch a glimpse of them and remembered nothing more. He'd come back to himself, standing on the pavement, his captain shaking his shoulders and tapping his face.
The detective had been aware of his particular gift since he was a child. He had been born with heightened senses, being able to see, smell, touch, hear and taste far beyond the range of a normal human being. His father, when finally convinced that his young son was not making up fairy tales, had made the discussion of Jim's gift, or curse, as he saw it, taboo. The depression of his senses had made them almost non-existent and inactive until a helicopter crash in Peru had reawakened them.
Jim had been an Army Ranger, a member of a highly skilled team, sent into Peru. The helicopter carrying him and his men had crashed, leaving Jim the sole survivor. Badly injured in the crash, Jim had lain alone in the jungle for several days and his latent hyper-senses had kicked back in, he assumed, as a protection mechanism. Having been rescued by a Peruvian tribe, known as the Chopec, Jim's gift was recognized and honed to exceptional levels by Incacha, the shaman of the tribe. When he had finally been rescued by the armed forces, his senses had returned to normal, or so he thought.
On his return, to the United States, he had settled back in his hometown of Cascade and joined the police force. A stakeout for several days in a forest area not unlike the jungles of Peru had caused his senses to once more return to their previous clarity, with one minor problem. They were wildly out of control, spiraling from nothing to overload within seconds and leaving him to believe he was truly going insane. He knew that the answer to his problem lay in the fact that he had no shaman here, as he had in Peru. There was no one like Incacha to guide him, and teach him how to control his senses. Jim did what he knew he must, in order to preserve his sanity, he depressed his senses once more, just as he had when a child for his disapproving father.
He had become a solitary creature, seen as forbidding and morose to those he worked with. His co-workers in Major Crimes tended to leave him alone, for the most part. The taciturn detective usually met an invitation to any social event with a rebuff and they had long ago given up trying to coax him out of his shell.
Alone in his apartment, however, Jim allowed his senses full rein, allowing him to become a participant in the life he desperately wanted to have. He was aware that he'd become something of a voyeur but argued that he was simply doing his job, standing guard over the inhabitants who shared his apartment block, just as he had protected the tribe in Peru. The most puzzling aspect of this was that he'd discovered that if he tuned in first to one particular heartbeat and then allowed that to ground him as he continued his mental tour, his senses did not spike. After discovering this, he'd experimented with other people in the apartment building, thinking that perhaps, he'd finally found a way to gain control over his senses so that he could put them to use in his work. It only worked with one heartbeat, however and Jim then discovered that he had become dependent on the sound and to his discomfort, sexually attracted to the young man who lived in the basement of the apartment building. Blair Sandburg was the janitor, the keeper of Jim's heart and the savior of his soul.
Except that tonight, he wasn't home. Jim had already cast his sensory net out the moment he had arrived home, searching, but not finding, the heartbeat he knew would relax and calm him. He shook himself from his reverie and turned up the hot water in the shower before stepping under the spray, allowing the water to pound away at his sore muscles and aching head. He knew he would never have a chance with Blair, the kid was terrified of him, freezing up, his heart pounding and his breath catching whenever Jim got near him. Tonight his imagination would have to suffice.
Jim reached for the shower gel, the same herbal blend that he had smelled on Blair and soaped up his muscular body. He allowed his hands to glide over the wide expanse of his chest, stroking then tweaking his firm, sensitive nipples. He leaned back against the cold tiles and closed his eyes, seeing Blair in front of him, lapping at his chest, his long curls cascading over his shoulders. Groaning, he sent his hands lower, gliding across his tight belly to scratch softly through the hair at the base of his throbbing cock. Finally, he fisted the hard shaft of his penis and used his other hand to roll his heavy balls in their soft sac. Slowly, he began to stroke, his hand at first just ghosting over his aching flesh, then firming and speeding up as he pictured Blair in front of him leaning forward, braced against the tiles. Jim could see his own broad hands gripping Blair's narrow hips tightly as he sunk his slick cock deep into the younger man's ass. He watched Blair arch up and back toward him, his head falling back onto Jim's chest as he stiffened and cried out his release. Jim's own cry of passion brought him back to reality with a gasp and he slid down the wall of the shower and sat panting under the cooling spray.
Drying himself off, Jim slowly climbed the stairs to his bedroom and pulled on a pair of boxers. He slid under the bedcovers, delighting in the coolness against his heated skin. He lay there for an hour, his overactive mind unwilling to switch off and allow him the rest he needed. In desperation, he extended his hearing out through the apartment building once more, identifying and discarding sounds as he went, then relaxing as his ears picked up the beat he needed to hear. Jim lay in the bed, his mind drifting aimlessly as Blair's heartbeat filled his ears and his soul. Suddenly, Blair's heart began to race and Jim sat up, his whole body tense as he concentrated on moving his hearing past the much-loved heartbeat to the voice beyond it.
"What the... What the hell are you doing in here?"
There was the sound of something hard and unyielding hitting flesh and a grunt of pain, then the sound of a body hitting the floor. Then silence.
Jim was out of bed and flying down the stairs toward the basement, gun in hand before he was aware of it. Reaching the emergency exit of the basement stairs, he slowed down and fought to control his wildly pounding heart. He pushed the door open slowly and peeked out into the corridor. Seeing no one, he crept out and made his way toward Blair's apartment, keeping his back to the wall. As he turned the corner, he felt the color drain from his face. Blair's body lay in the open doorway of his small apartment. He was sprawled on his back, his arms thrown out to the sides, blood streaming from a deep gash on his forehead.
By the time Blair walked Molly back to the apartment building, he'd recovered a little from the shock of her news. He was somehow more surprised at himself for not guessing her secret before now. He'd always prided himself on having exceptionally good gaydar, a necessity, really, in his job where you couldn't risk coming on to the wrong guy. His gaydar was set, of course, to men. Perhaps the signs were different for a gay woman; maybe it was simply that he'd seen only what he wanted to see; a beautiful desirable young woman.
He said goodnight to Molly and she asked him to call her in a few days, just as friends, of course. Sweetly, she kissed his cheek and he walked down the stairs to his apartment, feeling both jilted and oddly relieved. The relief, though, brought him back full circle to one Detective James Ellison. Definitely off-limits.
"You're a sad case, Sandburg," Blair sighed as he fitted his key into the front door lock, and froze as the door swung open, creaking a little.
He took one step nervously into the apartment and reached a hand out to where he knew the light switch was. He squinted and pulled his hand up to shield his eyes as a large man dressed in black, his face concealed by a hood, swung a flashlight up and directed it at him. Blair took an involuntary step back and looked in shock at a second man who held Blair's precious laptop to his chest.
"What the.... What the hell are you doing in here?" Blair asked.
His gaze fixed on the man with his computer; Blair did not notice the first man sidle up beside him until it was too late. He turned his head as a dark object flashed at the edge of his vision, and then something hard crashed brutally into his head. The myth about seeing stars when you get hit on the head is just that, a myth. Blair was unconscious before he hit the ground.
Jim leaned forward as Blair shifted slightly on the ambulance gurney and moaned softly. Two blue eyes set in a white face fluttered open, squinted at him and closed again. Blair licked his lips and raised a hand toward the large bandage taped to his forehead.
"What happened?" he whispered.
Jim intercepted Blair's hand and laid it back at his side, squeezing it gently.
"Just take it easy," he said softly. "You're on your way to hospital. You're going to be fine, Chief."
He watched as Blair struggled to open his eyes once more.
"'Tective? That you?"
"Yeah, it's me. Rest now." Jim smiled as Blair finally won the battle and looked up at him.
"Hey," Blair whispered.
"Hey, yourself," Jim answered.
Blair squeezed his hand gently and went back to sleep.
Jim looked up from his cramped position in the hard plastic waiting room chair as the doctor called his name. Striding over to the middle-aged dark-haired woman, he nodded and shook the hand she extended.
"I'm Doctor Anderson, Mr. Ellison. Your partner is a lucky man."
Jim shook his head. "He's not my partner," he said. "I live in the same apartment block. I found him after the attack, and it's Detective Ellison."
"Oh." The doctor's brows knit together in confusion. "Are you Jim?"
"Yes, I am."
The doctor smiled then, whatever was troubling her obviously gone. "Mr. Sandburg has been asking for you, so I just assumed, seeing that you rode in with him..."
Jim colored slightly, then swallowed past the lump in his throat. "How is he?"
The doctor smiled again and motioned for him to sit before lowering herself into the seat beside him with a sigh.
"He's going to be fine, Detective. He has a concussion and a deep gash in his forehead. We've sutured the cut and he needs to be observed closely for the next twenty-four hours. If you're waiting to take a statement from him, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until morning. He's still a little vague on details. There is, however, one small problem. He's insisting on signing himself out AMA. Do you know if Mr. Sandburg lives with somebody else?"
Jim shook his head. "No, he lives alone."
"Then I would strongly advise against his being discharged. It would not be wise for him to be alone right now. If he had someone to keep an eye on him, I might consider it. I wonder if you might talk to him. See if you can convince him to stay. At least for twenty-four hours."
Jim nodded and stood up. "I'll see what I can do, although I can't imagine why he'd listen to me."
"He has been asking for you, detective," Doctor Anderson reminded him. "I'll show you to his room."
If Jim hadn't been so worried about Blair, the sight before him may have been amusing. As it was his lips twitched upward and he had to resist laughing outright. Blair sat on the gurney, his legs hanging over the side and his long curls obscuring his face as he tried, unsuccessfully, to thread the sleeves of his hospital gown over the still attached IV tubing. He'd managed to strip the gown down to his waist, so that his surprisingly well-muscled chest was bare but he continued to wrestle against insurmountable odds to remove it completely.
Jim couldn't hold back a snort of laughter and Blair looked up suddenly and blinked at him owlishly.
"Hey, no making fun of the brain damaged, man," he said.
Doctor Anderson bustled past Jim and into the room. "You're far from brain damaged, young man, and if you're not careful, you're going to pull out that IV."
"That's the plan," Blair said peevishly. He looked back at Jim. "Where are my clothes?"
Jim shrugged. "You've got me, Chief. Why don't you let the doctor keep an eye on you overnight. You can go home tomorrow when you're feeling better."
Blair shook his head then grimaced. "No way, man. I cannot afford to lose this job. I need the money and the apartment."
The doctor pushed Blair back onto his pillows. "I'm not prepared to discharge you unless you have someone to take care of you for twenty-four hours," she said firmly.
Blair looked at Jim again, his blue eyes begging. "Come on, detective. Can't you do something?" He struggled upwards. "If I have to, I'll walk out of here in my boxers."
Jim sighed and spoke up even as his mind was screaming for him to be quiet. "I can look after him. He can stay at my place until tomorrow."
Blair's eyes widened in shock and he seemed about to speak when the doctor interrupted.
"If you're happy to do that, Detective Ellison, I'd be satisfied to discharge Mr. Sandburg into your care. I assume, as a police officer, you have some rudimentary medical knowledge?"
Jim nodded. "I was a medic in the army."
"Good, good." The doctor smiled, looking inordinately pleased with herself. "Are you happy with this arrangement, Mr. Sandburg?"
Blair opened and closed his mouth several times, looking not unlike a grounded fish, Jim thought. Then he nodded his head and looked at Jim. "Thanks."
"No problem, Chief. Why don't I go find your clothes and a wheelchair and we'll get out of here."
The doctor smiled at both men. "Your clothes are in the basket under the gurney. I'll get a nurse to remove the IV and bring your discharge papers. Don't get that bandage wet," she admonished. "You can take it off in the morning to have a shower. The stitches can be removed in five days. You can come back here to the E.R to have that done."
"I can do it," Jim broke in.
"Fine," the doctor agreed. "Then it's all settled. Goodnight, gentlemen."
She swept out of the room, leaving the two men staring at each other. Jim pulled Blair's clothes from the rack and handed them to him then motioned over his shoulder. "I'll get a wheelchair and pick up my car keys from the desk. I asked one of the other officers to bring my truck in."
"Just one thing," Blair said.
Jim raised an eyebrow and licked his lips nervously.
"Can we leave my statement until tomorrow? I have a seriously pounding headache happening."
Jim laughed. "I'm not surprised. Nothing but rest until tomorrow."
Blair nodded and reached for his jeans.
Blair shifted slightly in the passenger seat and tried not to moan out loud as the truck rounded a sharp corner and his head banged against the window. He had a headache the size of Texas and he felt faintly nauseous. He felt drained and exhausted but his curiosity would allow his mind no rest; so he sat, hunched sideways in the seat watching his companion from beneath veiled lashes.
The detective had not said a word to Blair since they'd climbed into the truck, besides admonishing him to buckle his seatbelt. Blair had closed his eyes against the rush of sensation he'd felt as Jim placed a broad hand on his back to help steady him when he stood. Now the detective sat ramrod straight in his seat, eyes fixed unwaveringly on the view through the front windshield, his hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel. Eventually, the gentle motion of the truck lulled Blair into a light doze. He woke, startled as a hand shook him awake.
He sat up straight and looked around him in confusion, wincing as the movement sparked pain in his head. His raised hand was once again gently intercepted before it could reach the bandage covering the gash and Blair finally remembered where he was.
"Oh, sorry. Must have drifted off for a minute," he said woozily.
No problem, Chief," Jim answered.
Blair climbed gingerly from the truck and feeling a hand supporting him, shook it off quickly.
"I'm okay," he insisted.
He took two steps forward then stopped as the ground suddenly rose up to meet him and the nausea he been holding at bay overwhelmed him. He was caught up in strong arms and supported against a broad expanse of chest before he could hit the ground.
"Thanks," he muttered and then ungraciously threw up over his savior before passing out.
Jim Ellison poured himself a cup of coffee then pulled up a chair and sat watching his charge sleep. He reached forward with one hand to push away a lock of hair that was hanging over Blair's face and obscuring his view then froze, his hand still in mid-air as the young man sighed and shifted slightly on the couch.
It had been morning by the time the two men had arrived back at the loft after waiting an interminable length of time for discharge papers and a prescription for a mild analgesic for Blair's headache. Blair had not woken again since he'd vomited and then passed out, so Jim had carried him to the couch and deposited him there before striding quickly upstairs to change into a clean shirt and pants. He'd filled a bowl with warm water and stripped off the unconscious man's soiled shirt, cleaning him gently and admonishing his raging erection to behave at the same time.
Now he sat and drank his fill of the enticing view before him. Blair had an exotic beauty, Jim thought, with long russet curls that brushed his shoulders and framed an open face. Jim allowed his fingers to ghost along the laugh lines that edged Blair's eyes, then stroked down to softly cup the young man's lightly stubbled cheek. The obvious masculinity did not detract from Blair's natural beauty and Jim felt distantly surprised that he felt no disgust in his sexual desire for another man.
He sat back again as Blair shifted once more and contented himself with studying the sleeping face. So caught up was he in his intense scrutiny, that it was several seconds before he became aware of the deep blue eyes that stared back at him sleepily.
"Boy, you were really gone," Blair said softly, smiling as he accepted Jim's offer of assistance to sit forward while the detective pushed another pillow behind his back.
"Sorry," Jim replied. "Just thinking."
"S'okay." Blair eyed Jim's cup with undisguised interest. "Is that coffee?"
Jim nodded then watched with amusement as Blair reached over and unselfconsciously took the mug from his hand before drinking deeply. He leaned back and closed his eyes, sighing.
"Nectar of the Gods, man."
He was silent a moment and Jim thought that he'd dozed off once more, then he spoke again. "This isn't my apartment."
"Ah, no." Jim rescued the coffee cup as it drooped in Blair's grasp and set it on the table. "The thieves left your apartment in a bit of a mess, I'm afraid. Papers and books thrown everywhere, dirty dishes and clothes covering the benches..."
"That was me," Blair interrupted. He shrugged. "I've been busy lately."
"Well, it's also covered in fingerprint powder, so I thought you'd be more comfortable here until tomorrow."
"Okay. What time is it?"
"Almost three p.m.," Jim answered, checking his watch.
Blair opened one eye and stared at him. "Really? Wow, I must have really been tired." He yawned then straightened up suddenly. "My laptop! Did you find it?"
Jim shook his head. "I was more concerned with getting you to the hospital and looking for the thieves. You can make a list tomorrow of what's missing. Are you insured?"
Blair shook his head mournfully. "Not on what I make. I've been putting money aside for a special project." He slapped his forehead and yelped at the pain it caused. "My money." He opened his eyes and looked at Jim. "Could you go check if my money is still there?"
Jim looked at him dubiously. "I shouldn't leave you alone."
"I'm not going anywhere," Blair answered, lying back against the cushions. "The money is very important to me. I've been saving it for a long time. I know I should have put it in a bank but I just don't trust them. Something my mother instilled in me. Please?"
Jim couldn't resist the plea in the dark blue eyes. He nodded and held out his hand. For Blair's keys. "Where did you keep it?"
"In the freezer," Blair said. At Jim's incredulous look, he shrugged. "I saw it in a movie once. Can you look for my laptop too?"
"Sure," Jim agreed. "You stay where you are. No getting up on your own. When I get back, I'll heat you some soup."
Blair smiled at him drowsily. "Thanks, man, for everything."
He flung an arm out, his action encompassing the apartment, then closed his eyes.
"You're welcome," Jim whispered.
A check of Blair's freezer yielded the money wrapped securely in several plastic bags but a quick look through the untidy apartment did not turn up Blair's laptop. Jim shook his head at the devastation in front of him. He wondered how anyone could live in such disarray.
The attack appeared to have taken more out of Blair that he cared to admit. By the time, Jim got back upstairs; Blair was sleeping soundly once more. Checking his watch as he opened his front door, Jim realized it was almost time to wake him for a neurological check. He walked over to the slumbering man and pulled the blanket more closely around his shoulders, then after watching him for a moment longer, went off to the kitchen to heat some soup.
Blair's thundering heartbeat pulled Jim from a near zone out and he turned off the bubbling soup and hurried to the younger man's side. Blair lay, twisted in the bedclothes, both hands raised up to protect his head and his eyes moving rapidly beneath tightly closed lids.
"No," he whispered. Then he shouted the word and shot up on the couch, his eyes suddenly wide with fear.
"Easy, easy. It's all right." Jim spoke softly, unsure of whether Blair was fully awake yet from his nightmare. He reached out a hand and squeezed the other man's shoulder, then brushed the sleep-mussed hair from his face.
Blair turned a pale face toward him then relaxed, slumping back down against the pillows. "Oh boy, it was just a dream."
"Yeah," Jim agreed, "Just a dream. I could hear your heart really pounding though. It must have been quite a nightmare."
Blair blushed a little and looked down at the blanket. "Guess you think I'm a real coward for flipping out over a burglary."
"Hell, no," Jim said. He sat on the edge of the couch and tipped Blair's chin up so the younger man had to look at him. "I'd be more worried if you weren't freaking out."
Blair smiled then and leaned into the hand Jim hadn't realized was stroking the younger man's cheek. "That feels nice," he whispered.
Jim sobered and moved to pull his hand away. "Blair..." he began.
Blair reached up and caught Jim's fingers before they escaped completely, bringing them to his mouth before turning the hand palm up and nuzzling it.
Jim fought to hold back his groan of desire and shifted slightly to accommodate his quickly growing erection. "Blair..." he tried again.
"Shh," Blair whispered, cupping a hand around the back of Jim's head and pulling him closer until their faces were inches apart. "You'll ruin it."
"Ruin what?" Jim said softly, his voice unconsciously dropping to match that of Blair's.
"The seduction." Blair pulled Jim's face down and angled his up, opening his mouth as Jim's lips touched his.
The kiss was gentle and sweet, almost chaste except for the hunger it stirred in Jim's groin. Blair pulled back after a moment and leaned his head back, the tip of his tongue sweeping over his lips.
"Mmm, nice," he said.
He opened his eyes and stared at Jim for a brief moment, then pulled Jim forward to cover him. "More," he growled.
This time, the kiss was passionate, primal. Jim's mouth pressed Blair's open and he pushed his tongue into the hot cavern, stroking and mapping teeth, tongue and gums. Blair tasted of mint and coffee, an unusual but addictive combination and Jim wrapped strong arms around the other man then pulled back so that Blair sat straddling his lap. He moved his own hand now so that it fisted in the luxuriant curls, while the other snaked up beneath the flannel shirt and tee to stroke the firmly muscled back. His mouth unerringly found Blair's again and he gave himself up to the joy of it, opening his hearing to find the heartbeat he knew so well, then extending his other senses to fully experience the body above him.
Blair began to grind his hips against Jim; his erection finding and stroking the length of Jim's raging hard-on and he faintly heard Blair moan as his movements picked up speed.
Suddenly Blair's heart roared in Jim's ears and he felt his consciousness begin to fade. Alarmed, he pulled back, ignoring Blair's soft protests.
Blair finally sat back and placed both hands on Jim's shoulders. He was panting slightly, sweat beading his brow. "Jim? What's wrong?"
Jim shook his head then scrubbed a shaky hand over his face. "Too fast. This is going too fast," he whispered.
Blair slid off his lap quickly and stood up, his balance shaky, but when Jim extended a hand of support, he shook his head, leaning instead against the arm of the couch. "I'm all right," he assured the other man. "Just got up a little fast."
Both men were silent for a moment, then Blair spoke again.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that."
Jim lifted his face from his hands and looked at him. "I shouldn't have pushed you."
"Are you kidding?" Blair asked. "I've been wanting to do that since the first time I saw you, when I came and fixed the kitchen faucet."
"So have I."
Blair collapsed back onto the couch with a sigh and reached for Jim's hand. "So, what's the problem then."
"It's just moving a little too fast, that's all," Jim answered. "You've been injured. I'm supposed to be looking after you."
"And you're doing a great job of it," Blair said, leaning sideways to lick Jim's earlobe.
Jim pulled back then turned to face Blair, grasping both his hands. "I think I'm in love with you, Blair. I've felt this way for a long time now and I don't want to screw it up, like I have before. I have a habit of jumping into relationships dick-first and two months later; I'm alone again. I want you to be with me forever."
Blair stared at Jim for a long moment, then reached one hand up to gently stroke his cheek. "I'm right where I want to be. We'll take it as slow as you want, Jim, but I'm telling you now. I want you."
Jim leaned forward so that his forehead touched Blair's. "There's something I need to tell you about me first. After that, if you decide to go, I won't stop you."
Blair grinned nervously. "It can't be that bad, surely." His smile slipped just a bit. "Can it?"
Jim kissed him softly on his full lips. A loud rumble of discontent from Blair's neglected stomach disrupted the brevity of the moment and both men laughed, grateful for the respite. Jim pressed a quick kiss to Blair's forehead and stood.
"Let me get you something to eat and I'll tell you the story of my life."
Blair placed the painkillers that Jim handed him into his mouth and swallowed them with a sip of water as he contemplated what Jim had just told him. Jim sat down in the chair opposite him and watched him carefully, a worried expression on his face.
"So," Blair said slowly. "You think because it's my heartbeat that stops you from zoning out," he sketched quotation marks in the air, "that means I'm your guide. Do you think it's predestined, like a genetic thing, or coincidence, happenstance?"
"Just like that, you believe me?" Jim asked, looking astonished.
Blair took another sip of his water before he spoke.
"When I finished high school, I planned on going to university. I wanted to study anthropology. I'd been reading about lost cultures and primitive tribes and how they lived since I was a little kid. I knew I'd have to apply for scholarships and stuff. My mom was a single mother and she had to work hard to bring me up, she worked two jobs when I was younger to get me through school and buy me the books I wanted to read. When I was fifteen, my mom died. I went off the rails for a while. She was all I had."
Blair's voice quavered a little. He took a deep breath and continued. "For a long time, I didn't care about anything. I dropped out of school. Just wandered around really. Three years ago, I walked into the library to shelter from the rain and I started reading some of the books I loved, books about tribes in Peru and Africa and Borneo. I read a little by a guy called Sir Richard Burton."
Blair raised a hand as Jim opened his mouth to speak.
"The explorer," he said with a grin.
"So, he wrote books and went exploring as well as acting. He was a talented guy," Jim broke in.
"No, this guy wasn't the same..." He stopped when he noticed the grin on Jim's face. "Are you making fun of me?" Blair asked, stretching one leg out under the table to stroke along Jim's thigh. He rubbed at the lump he felt at the juncture of leg and groin.
Jim sucked in a deep breath and smiled. "I couldn't resist," he said, massaging Blair's toes with one hand. I love watching you when you talk. You get so fired up and passionate. Anyway, I've never heard of this guy Burton. He knew of other people like me?"
Blair nodded. "There are thousands of people who have one or two heightened senses, tasters, people who work for perfume companies and so on, but Burton knew of these tribes who had sentinels, with all five senses heightened. They were the protectors of their tribes. A few years ago, an archaeologist by the name of Feliz Santiago discovered some ruins in the Yucatan. He believed them to be the remains of the temple of the Sentinels."
Blair pulled the plastic covered wad of bank notes toward him and held it up. "That's what this money is for. I was saving to take a trip down there, to see it for myself. Did you find my lap top?"
Jim shook his head. "I'm sorry, looks like they got it."
"One of them was holding it when I walked in," Blair said. "I knew I'd never get to university but everything I read about, every trip I took to historical sites or people I visited, I recorded, like a journal. I don't know, I had some kind of idea that maybe one day I could write a book about my experiences. Stupid, huh?"
Jim reached across the table and took Blair's hand, squeezing it gently. "Not stupid, no. You have everything backed up, don't you?"
Blair nodded, then stifled a yawn. "Of course, I do, but they're no good without a computer, man and there's no way, I can afford a new one. I guess I'll have to choose between a new laptop or the trip."
"Don't worry about it now," Jim said, standing up. "You need to rest. Let's get you upstairs."
"I'll be fine on the couch," Blair answered.
"But you'll be more comfortable in a proper bed," Jim insisted. I'll take the couch."
"We could share the bed," Blair said softly.
Jim moved around to stand in front of Blair and placed a soft kiss on the top of his head. "Tonight you sleep and recover. Tomorrow, we'll talk about the rest."
Blair nodded against his chest. "That sounds like a plan."
A frantic hammering at the front door startled Jim from his sleep and he sat and attempted to stretch the kinks from his cramped muscles. The knocking came again and he reached for his robe then remembered it was still upstairs. He glanced at his watch and noted it was a little past 6a.m.
"All right already. Hold your horses," he called.
He made his way slowly to the door, scrubbing a hand through his close-cropped hair and yawned widely. He pulled open the door and stepped back quickly as a tall, thin woman pushed past him.
"I'm looking for Sandy," she said without introduction. "I heard he was here."
Jim shut the door then turned to look at his intruder, crossing his arms across his chest. "And you would be?"
"Oh, sorry. Megan Conner."
She extended a hand and gripped Jim's with surprising strength. "I'm a friend of Sandy's. I work at the hospital and someone told me Sandy was brought in last night, injured. I tried phoning his apartment but I got no answer. Anyway, one of my friends who works in the E.R told me that he was staying with you." She paused to take a breath and Jim wondered briefly if she and Blair had, perhaps, been separated at birth.
Blair's drowsy voice came from above them and both turned to look as Blair came slowly down the stairs from Jim's bedroom. It was only when he viewed Blair's attire that Jim became aware of his own state of undress. He'd gone to bed as he always did in just a pair of boxers, his heightened sense of touch making it unnecessary for him to rug up against the night chill. Blair was dressed in boxers as well, but he had found an oversized Cascade PD sweatshirt of Jim's to wear, the sleeves falling down over his hands and one shoulder sliding off to reveal a darkly furred chest.
"I'll leave you two to talk," Jim said, sidling past the young woman who appeared to be sizing him up, much as a lion would its prey. Jim thought back to her Australian accent and immediately amended the image in his head to that of a dingo.
"No, stay, please," Blair said as he hurried over to them.
Megan enveloped him in a hug and he steered her toward the couch, nodding at her questions and surrendering with a sigh and a long-suffering look at Jim when she pushed him onto the seat and began to poke and prod at the cut on his head.
Jim grinned back then pointed upstairs. "I'm going to change."
"Oh, right," Blair said, finally noticing Jim's clothes or lack thereof.
By the time, Jim came back downstairs, Blair had made coffee and the face Megan turned toward him was decidedly more friendly.
"Thank you for taking care of Sandy, detective," Megan said as he accepted a proffered cup from Blair.
"No thanks necessary, Ms. Conner," Jim answered.
Jim nodded and smiled. "I'm Jim."
Megan stood and picked up her purse. "I've got to go and get ready for work." She turned to Blair and kissed his cheek. "You call me if you need anything, all right?"
Blair nodded and walked her to the door.
"I mean it, Blair. Anything." Megan glanced meaningfully over at Jim, who caught the warning look she gave him and smiled nervously.
"Yes, mom," Blair joked. "Are we still on for dinner Friday night?"
"Of course," Megan answered. "Feel free to bring a friend, if you'd like."
"Okay. Oh, wait. That reminds me," Blair said. "Do you mind if we make it dinner for four? There's someone else I want you to meet."
Megan's eyes narrowed. "What are you up to, Sandy?"
Blair feigned a look of wide-eyed innocence. "Nothing! Honest! I just want you to meet another friend of mine. I think you might get along, that's all."
"Okay." Megan glanced at her watch. "Shit! I'm going to be late. That old bag Murray is just waiting for me to screw up so she can send me packing back to Oz. I've got to go."
She placed another kiss on Blair's cheek then raised her hand in farewell to Jim. "Thanks again, Jim. I'll see you on Friday night."
She grinned cheekily and left.
Blair walked over to Jim and wrapped in tightly in a bear hug. "I think she likes you," he said happily, nuzzling his face into Jim's warm chest.
Jim gave a mock shudder. "Yeah, right." He pulled back a little from the embrace. "I'm going to take a shower."
Blair nodded. "Okay. I should get my stuff organized. I need to go down and make a statement."
Jim headed into the bathroom, silently berating his cowardice at not asking Blair to join him. He turned on the taps and stepped under the warm spray before beginning to soap his body up. He had his face tilted up to the spray to rinse the suds from his face when the shower curtain was pulled back.
"Is there room in here for two?" Blair asked.
Jim smiled and snaked a hand out. "Get in here already," he growled.
He pulled Blair under the water and turned him so that he faced away from him. Reaching for the shower gel, he squeezed a small amount into the palm of his hand and began to stroke across the lightly furred chest. Blair sighed and rested his head against Jim allowing the detective to take control.
Jim deliberately avoided Blair's lower body for now, moving instead to soap up his back, enjoying the feel of soft skin over firm muscles. He massaged lower, his hands gliding over Blair's tight buttocks before stroking down each leg and foot in turn.
Blair turned within his embrace and began to lap at Jim's right nipple, using one hand to stroke the left to a peak until Jim began to arch up against him at the exquisite sensation. Jim growled low in his throat and bent to nuzzle at the juncture of Blair's neck, nipping lightly and causing Blair to yelp in surprise before nudging Jim's mouth for more. He moved his mouth lower, dipping his tongue into Jim's navel and allowing one hand to ghost gently up and down Jim's straining erection before cupping the balls beneath and rolling them gently in their sac. Jim opened his senses fully, allowing himself to revel in the pleasures being lavished upon him whilst grounding himself in the touch, taste and smell of his lover.
Then Blair reached between them and finally grasped Jim's hard cock, stroking firmly and raising his head to capture Jim's lips in a deep kiss. Jim pushed Blair's mouth open and plunged his tongue into the hot cavern, stroking the gums and tongue at the same time as his hands moved down to massage Blair's ass and pull him in closer. He gently pulled Blair's ass cheeks apart and circled the pucker hidden within with one finger. Blair moaned and pushed back against the digit, all the while continuing to lavish his attention on Jim's drooling cock.
"More," Blair pleaded and Jim obliged him, pressing two fingers into Blair's ass and stroking slowly in and out in counterpoint to Blair's movements on him.
"Not enough," Blair groaned.
He turned back to face the wall and leaned slightly forward, bracing himself against the tiles with both hands.
Jim's mouth went dry at the sight of his lover's offering. "Blair," he whispered hoarsely
Blair turned his head to look at him and nodded. "I love you, Jim. I want you."
Jim nodded slowly and took the gel that Blair offered him. He moved in closer and laid gentle kisses at the nape of Blair's neck, at the same time, pressing two fingers into Blair's passage and scissoring them, slowly stretching the muscle. Feeling it begin to relax, he inserted three fingers and circled the hole, speeding up his actions as Blair moaned and began to move back and forth on his hand. Jim reached around with his other hand and found Blair's cock, hard and straining up against his stomach. Jim fisted the erection firmly and stroked slowly feeling Blair thrust forward into his hand and then back onto his fingers.
Finally, feeling as though his cock would burst, he lubed himself up quickly and pressed slowly into Blair. The other man lowered his head and body more and Jim took hold of Blair's hips in order to control his advance. Slowly, Blair began to rock back and forth on Jim's shaft, each small movement taking him deeper.
"Now, Jim, please," Blair grunted and he lunged back hard until Jim's balls slapped against his ass.
Jim took up the offer and began to pound hard into his lover, delighting in Blair's cry as the tip of his cock nudged Blair's prostate, sending a surge of pleasure spiraling through the young man. Reaching around, Jim took Blair's cock in his fist once more and stroked in counterpoint to his thrusts behind. Blair cried out again and lunged back hard then his muscles clenched hard around Jim's cock and the older man gasped as his own orgasm was wrenched from him.
Jim rested his head on Blair's back, continuing to move slowly within him, not wanting to lose this intimate contact with his lover. Blair moved first, slowly straightening up as Jim's softening cock slipped from his body.
"Sorry, babe," he said, turning to Jim and kissing his forehead gently. "I'll have a major kink in my back if I don't move."
"I'll massage it out for you," Jim answered, wrapping Blair in a hug before turning off the cooling water and stepping out of the tub. He dried off quickly and wrapped a towel about his waist then sat on the seat of the toilet watching as Blair toweled off his body and hair, not wanting to take his eyes off this beautiful man for a moment.
Blair finished drying off and turned to Jim.
"Where do we go from here?" Jim asked.
Blair shrugged and smiled. "I don't know, babe. My mom once said, life's an incredible journey; you don't want to miss one second of it. Why don't we just see where it takes us?"
Jim nodded, content with that much. He wrapped an arm around Blair as they exited the bathroom. "There is one trip I want to make with you."
Blair tipped his face up to look at him and Jim couldn't resist placing a kiss on the tip of his nose.
"What trip would that be?" Blair asked.
"That trip to Mexico. To the temple of the sentinels. I've got some time off due me. We could learn more together. Maybe I could finally put these senses to some good instead of cursing them, if I understand them."
Blair grinned, his eyes lighting up in delight. "We could do some research into why I seem to be the only one who can ground you when you use your senses. I could learn more about how to be your guide." He nodded slowly, looking thoughtful. "We'll need to do some tests."
"Tests, Chief?" Jim suddenly looked doubtful.
"Come on, Jim, it'll be interesting."
Blair continued to chatter as Jim pushed him upstairs to the bedroom.
"I'm not into tests," Jim muttered as he watched Blair's delectable ass ascend the steps.
Blair waited at the top of the stairs and drew Jim to him, wrapping his arms tightly about him.
"I'll reward you when you do good," Blair said, grinding his returning erection against Jim's awakening cock. "Deal?"
Jim groaned and crushed Blair's mouth against his. Coming up for air, he smiled and stroked a thumb gently down his lover's cheek before loosening Blair's towel and sending it sailing over the rail to the floor below. "Deal."
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Lisa for having me, Mary for the excellent beta, Patt, Amy and Dyann for the brilliant pics. Dedicated to Patt, for inviting me and supplying a plot bunny.