In This Life - Lisa, Duncan's Twin

For all I’ve been blessed with in my life,
There was an emptiness in me

Week #1-Monday

It was another late night for Professor Blair Sandburg. He was the youngest professor at Rainier and, therefore, tended to have more than his share of classes, papers and meetings thrust upon him. It seemed that every minute of his day was taken, and it was only after dark, when everyone else had gone home, that Blair could actually get some work done.

Flipping open another test booklet, Blair was startled by a light tap on his door.

“Yes?”

An unfamiliar man stepped into his office. He was tall and built, with a moustache and a small spurt of hair under his lower lip.   A flavor saver, Blair recalled hearing it referred to.

“Sorry to bother you, professor, but I,” the man stopped then continued, “Got any trash?”

Finally noticing the janitorial uniform, Blair smiled, “You must be new here. I’m Blair Sandburg.”

Standing and holding out his hand, Blair watched as the janitor carefully wiped his own hand on a rag, then stepped forward to grasp Blair’s outstretched one.

“Jim. Jim Ellison,” he said, smiling. “Yeah, first night on the job.”

Nodding, Blair bent and grabbed the trash can. “Here you go.”

“Thanks,” Jim said, taking the can and emptying it into a larger bin. Handing it back to Blair, he said, “Sorry to have bothered you.”

“No problem. I needed to take a break anyway,” Blair said, trying to put the janitor at ease. “So, how’re you doing tonight, Jim?”

“Fine, thanks,” Jim answered, pushing his cart down the hall, Blair following. “You’re sure working late tonight.”

“Always, man, always.”

Jim just nodded in response. At the next office, Jim pulled out his keys to open the locked office.

“See ya later,” Blair said, as he continued down the hall. “It was nice to meet you.”

“You, too,” Jim said automatically.

“Don’t work too hard, Jim.”

“Thanks, I’ll try not to,” Jim said, stepping into the dark office, glad that he’d met at least one nice person the first day on the job.

***

Dropping his coins in the vending machine, Blair deliberated between the pretzels and the granola bar.   ‘Eeny meeny miney mo.’ Finally, he just closed his eyes and punched in a number. Retrieving a chocolate bar, he wandered back towards his office, mentally cataloging Jim’s path down the hall of faculty offices. ‘Wow, he works fast.’

Flipping on some soft music, Blair sat back down at his desk and got back to work. He had mountains of piles of work to complete and not nearly enough hours in the day to do so. Unlike most of his colleagues, Blair wasn’t married, so there was no one waiting with dinner for him. There also wasn’t anyone waiting to hug him or comfort him when he felt lonely.   Blair wasn’t lonely often; he had a whole address book full of men and women whom he dated with some regularity, but he’d never found anyone he couldn’t live without. He even managed to live without his mother, who only traipsed through Cascade once a year, and even then seemed to miss all major holidays and his birthday. He’d gotten used to it. It was amazing what people could get used to.

Looking around his cluttered desktop, Blair sighed heavily. ‘Yeah, it’s amazing what someone can get used to.’

His desk light burned brightly into the night, the radio his only company as one late day at the office blurred into the early morning of the next.

***

The hour long drive from Cascade to Seattle gave Jim Ellison plenty of time to think, about his life, his friends, his family. He laughed to himself as he thought about how different his current lifestyle was when compared to his childhood. Little Jimmy Ellison hadn’t grown up to follow in his father’s footsteps as had been planned. No, sir. Little Jimmy Ellison had transformed into Slick, sergeant-at-arms of the Panteras Del Diablo biker gang.

It’s not every little boy’s dream growing up to be in a biker gang, but sometimes fate uses her strong arms and pushes. And sometimes it’s all a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or is it the right place at the right time?

Flashback, 1979-1980

Jim Ellison graduated salutatorian from Cascade Heights High School in May of 1979. Second best. His father never let him forget that fact, nor the fact that Jim had lost his full scholarship to Yale to a girl, the valedictorian. As a form of punishment, William Ellison made his son get a job to support himself. In defiance, Jim got a job as a mechanic in a bike shop. It seemed that the battle of wills between father and son was only escalating as they both aged.

Jim started college in the fall, three months after graduating, but again in defiance of his old man, Jim enrolled at a community college. Further irritating his father, Jim refused to participate in any of the sports the college boasted, instead he took an active interest in drama and arts classes. If truth be told, Jim’s main reason for taking these classes had nothing to do with his father, but with the large number of women he saw registering for them. He was nothing if not an active lover of women. All women.

Also to spite his father, Jim became friends with unusual and unique people, and then invited them home to be paraded in front of his only parent, who was too well bred to say anything to them. Afterwards, Jim would get an earful about the quality of his friends, and how Jim was just wasting his time at the community college, and Jim would just nod in agreement, but then proceed to bring home even more outrageous people the next time. One of the most unusual people Jim brought home was Paul Sarris.

Sarris was a lot like Jim; he came from a wealthy family and was bucking his father’s authority at every turn. He enrolled in the maximum number of classes and then dropped them, pocketing the tuition refund for drugs and alcohol. His father bought him a new Camero Z28 as a bribe to finish college, but Sarris merely saw it as another way for his father to control him. So, he came to the shop where Jim worked and made a deal with the owner. In the end, Sarris traded in his new car for a used Harley, and his father kicked him out of the house.   He landed on his feet, moving in with a girlfriend and selling drugs to support himself.

One of the few ‘normal’ people Jim made friends with was Simon Banks. Unlike Jim, Simon had grown up in a poor neighborhood and was working to support himself as a security guard at the college in exchange for reduced tuition. They became fast friends, quickly learning that they shared many of the same interests, including motorcycles. Simon often spent time with Jim at the bike shop, helping to work on the bikes that came in, and helping Jim put together his own hog in off hours. Sarris often joined them, and the three men would smoke a little pot and drink a few beers.

One late afternoon, Sarris drove into Seattle to buy more pot. Time got away from him, and it was dark when he started home. Unfamiliar with the streets of Seattle, Sarris took a wrong turn and got lost. He stopped in a small convenience store to ask for directions, but the woman behind the counter hardly spoke any English, and Sarris’ knowledge of Spanish was nonexistent, so he returned to his bike in hopes that he could find someone else to ask.   Unfortunately, he found trouble instead.

A white man in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood spelled trouble, and when Sarris stopped at a red light, a group of Hispanic youths jumped him. They knocked him off his bike, kicking at his head, stomping on his chest. It looked like the end had come in Sarris’ short life, but fate stepped in.  

In the midst of the beating, Sarris heard the approach of at least two other hogs. As he waited for the beating to come to a bitter end, he looked up into the eyes of his saviors, and promptly passed out. It was pure luck that two members of the Panteras Del Diablo had been on a cross street, seen Sarris getting beaten up, and stopped to investigate. They had saved Sarris’ life by chasing off the youths and then called an ambulance.   After the ambulance sped off, they had the damaged hog loaded into a friend’s pickup truck, and it was taken back to their hangout.

Upon waking at the hospital, Sarris called Jim to come pick him up. Except for his loss of consciousness at the scene, Sarris’ injuries weren’t life threatening, and after several x-rays and 15 stitches, he was released. In the waiting room, he again came face to face with his saviors. They didn’t say much, just introduced themselves to Jim and Sarris, and then wrote the address where the hog could be picked up. With a quick nod, Shooter and Smokey walked out of the ER.

Sarris was shaken by the experience, but after two days of resting he was eager to get his hog back, so he and Jim borrowed Simon’s old truck and headed to Seattle to see how much of the bike could be salvaged, not knowing the extent of the damage.

After a few wrong turns, they finally found the hangout of the Panteras—not difficult given the fifteen hogs lined up in the street. Barely out of the truck, they were aware of several sets of eyes on them, brimming with everything from barely contained curiosity to open hostility. It wasn’t until they saw two familiar faces that they relaxed. Smokey and Shooter shook their hands like old friends, immediately showing the other gang members that Jim and Sarris had their protection for the duration of their visit. They led the two younger men back towards a garage, and once inside, they saw Sarris’ hog. It didn’t have a scratch on it.

Shooter joked with Sarris, calling him ‘Lucky’ and telling him that they’d had some time on their hands and had fixed it up for him. Both Jim and Sarris were at a loss for words. They hadn’t expected this kind of kindness. Jim offered to buy them a drink in thanks, but they declined and instead invited Jim and ‘Lucky’ into the hangout. Not able to refuse, the two younger men could only follow.

Several hours and numerous beers later, Jim, who had earned the nickname ‘Slick’ because of the smooth way he’d smiled and flirted with the ladies, and Lucky walked out into the cool February air. They’d made plans to return the next day for a party, and neither Slick nor Lucky could wait.

Steering into his permanent parking spot sixteen years after that day, Slick smiled to himself about his life. ‘It might not be every little boy’s dream, but it’s my life.’

“Slick!” The call went up once he’d opened the hangout’s door.

“Hey,” Slick said to the group at large.

Helping himself to a beer from the fridge, he settled on one of the many couches, eyes taking in all the other bikers around him.

There was the group leader, talking to his old lady. Preacher had been leader when Jim first joined and would probably continue to run it after he died. Over the course of the years Slick had learned a lot about the members, some good and some bad, but he’d learned early that it didn’t matter what anyone had done before they joined the gang, it was only what you did while you were a member that counted. Preacher, whose real name was Warren Chapel, had once been known as the ‘Avenging Angel’, a killer in San Francisco who’d gotten off on a technicality. Slick had seen Preacher kill in his years as a Pantera, and it chilled him to the bone because the man’s face never changed expression. It was hard and cold.   Stony. Preacher was one man Slick never wanted to wrong.

There were a couple of initiates sitting around Coyote, listening to him tell his tales while Pepper egged him on. Seven years ago, Coyote had sponsored a young, eager kid, Pepper, teaching him the biker ways and Coyote’s own personal code. Coyote, also known as Garret Kincaid, was a radical thinker, bigoted to the extreme and very nearly insane. He taught Lee Bracket, Pepper, everything he knew. They were well suited, but even in their madness, Preacher kept a firm hand over their activities. Slick knew that Coyote harbored secret fantasies of taking control away from Preacher, but he’d never said anything out loud. Talk like that could get a man gutted.

Glancing around, Slick wondered where Shooter and Smokey were. It seemed that where one led, the other followed, much like he and Lucky had years ago. Thinking about Lucky, Slick stood up and walked over to the memorial wall. Five years ago, Lucky had an argument with a bus and lost in a big way. Every July, Slick and the rest of the Panteras paid homage to their fallen comrade by celebrating all day.   It was a tribute of the highest honor.   Spitting a mouthful of beer over Lucky’s picture, Slick noticed Preacher nod his head. What might have been an insult on the outside, was considered paying tribute on the inside. Biker rules were for bikers to understand.

Slipping out the back door, Slick could hear Smokey’s distinctive laugh, and he followed it to the garage that had been set up for working on the hogs. Sure enough, there was Shooter sitting across from Smokey while they watched the newest Pantera, Brando, work on his hog.

Brando was a kid from the neighborhood who’d always watched in fascination every time the Panteras had driven by his house. Slick had watched the star-eyed kid watch him, and he’d felt a kinship to the child.   Brian Rafe’s mom had died at an early age, and he was left to struggle to survive with a father who had more important things on his mind than his young son. Slick had seen the need in the young boy’s eyes, recognized it in himself still, and had been a friend to the boy. The young boy’s looks were immediately apparent, and with each passing year, he grew more good looking, and quickly earned the ‘Brando’ nickname.   It was the first step in being accepted into the Panteras. By the time he was eighteen, sponsored by Slick, Brando earned his patch.

“Slick!” Smokey called, catching him lurking in the shadows.

“Hey guys. How goes it?”

Standing, Brando gestured to his hog, “Just changing the fuel filter.”

“Have a seat man,” Shooter said, moving to sit beside Smokey.

Smokey and Shooter.   Where you found one, you were sure to find the other. They’d become Panteras around the same time and quickly became fast friends. Being a Pantera meant you always had someone to back you up in a fight or if you were in trouble, but there were certain members who were closer, people who you would give your life for. That’s how it was with Smokey and Shooter.

Shooter was pretty quiet about his past, but Slick had learned that he’d been in the army for a short time and had been summarily discharged after an incident with a commander’s daughter. Alan Archer had taken his discharge papers, his hog and the commander’s daughter, Veronica, on a road trip to Vegas for a quickie marriage, and they’d continued west until they hit Seattle. It was there that he’d linked up with the Panteras sixteen years ago.

If Shooter was quiet about his past, Smokey was downright secretive. There was gossip that Smokey had kidnapped a man and then killed him after receiving the ransom money, but no one had any names or any proof. The allure of the secrecy was always a topic of speculation among younger members of the club, but no one had ever come right out and asked him. The most Slick had learned was that Jack Pendergrast was slow to anger, quick to defend, and valued honesty above all else. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough.

Looking around at his friends, Slick sipped his beer and relaxed in the easy friendships he had with these men. It was everything.

***

Week #2-Tuesday

It was another late night.   He had a grant proposal to finish, and a book to read so he could bluff his way though a meeting he’d only been informed of late that evening. And then there was the article he was trying to write for a psychology journal. He’d be lucky to get any sleep this month.

Sighing, Blair reached for his coffee cup only to find it empty; the pot was in a similar condition.   He grabbed the glass pot and headed down the hall for the nearest water fountain. Standing at the fountain, finger firmly pressing the button, water slowly trickling into the pot, Blair looked around. The bulletin board above the fountain provided little interest, except for an advertisement about a new club opening the following weekend.

Hearing a familiar whistle, Blair smiled. In the week Jim had been there, they had crossed paths a number of times, often passing each other in the hallways and working the same late hours. Without looking at his watch, Blair knew it must be close to nine o’clock. ‘That man gives punctual a whole new meaning.’ Blair thought. ‘He also gives new meaning to the word gorg-’

“Shit!” Blair said, jumping back from where the water was overflowing from the pot down the front of his pants. “Damn it!”

“Doc, you okay?” Jim called from down the hallway, peering out of an open office door.

“Yeah, just being stupid.”

Stepping out of the office, Jim saw Blair’s standing in front of the water fountain shaking off the excess water from his hands. Grabbing a couple of paper towels, Jim took them to Blair.

“Thanks,” Blair said, taking the paper towels, missing Jim’s grin.

***

The ringing of the phone jerked Blair out of sleep.

“‘lo?”

Squinting at the clock, he sighed heavily. It was his first night in a week getting to bed before midnight, and here he was getting a phone call at three. He’d be lucky if he got back to sleep.

“Blair boy, you there?”

“Yes, Chad. I’m here,” Blair sighed. “Do you know what time it is?”

“It’s party time, don’t ya know, Blair baby.”

“Chad-”

“Baby, come get me.”

“Chad-”

“Come on, I’m at Pete’s.”

“Chad-”

“I’ll let you fuck me good and hard, baby, just how you like it.”

Blair paused. “I’ll be there in twenty.”

***

The hangout was rocking by the time Slick got there after work. The music was blasting, but the laughter of his buddies could still be heard.   The beer was free flowing, drugs of all kind were available, and the prostitutes were doing whatever was asked of them. It was patch holder night for the Panteras, which meant that only patch holders could attend. It happened once a month, with members contributing either money or supplies, and it usually lasted several days and nights until they either ran out of beer, drugs or women.

After taking the offered beer from Brando, Slick worked his way around the room. Occasionally, he’d take an offered snort of coke or a hit off a joint from his buddies. On patch holder’s night, everything in the hangout was shared. Everything included women, which was why most of the Panteras with old ladies left them at home on this night.

“Slick!” Smokey called, gesturing to him.

Tossing his empty beer bottle towards the nearest trash can, Slick headed towards his old friend.

“Just in time, man, just in time,” Smokey said, gripping Slick’s hand. “Hey, you need a beer.”

“No, I-”

Grabbing one of the broads by the upper arm, Smokey ordered, “Bring us three more beers.”

Turning to the couch, Slick smiled at Shooter and sat down.

“Good evening,” Shooter said, sliding over to make room for Smokey to sit between them.    

The broad returned with their beers, and then Smokey suggested she start blowing if she wanted to earn her money.

Slick laughed to himself, ‘Yes, it was definitely gonna be a good evening.’

***

Week #2-Thursday

“Celtic? No. Queen?   No,” Blair said out loud, trying to decide which music would keep him awake tonight. “Ah, here we go.”

The CD player whirred to life, and tribal music filled his office. Checking his watch, Blair shrugged and then turned the volume up a little more.

Returning to his book, Blair was quickly absorbed, nodding his head along with the pounding beat of the tribal drums.

Down the hall, unbeknownst to Blair, Jim fell to his knees, clutching his throbbing head. ‘No! Not again!   Not here!’ Struggling to stand, he forced himself closer to the source of his pain. It took every ounce of his power to throw open Blair’s office door.

The slam of Blair’s door against the wall made him jump out of his chair, eyes riveted on the man standing there. Jim looked like a man in serious pain, hands clutched at his ears, eyes tearing. Immediately Blair hit the power button on the CD player.   The silence was almost as deafening as the sound had been.

“Jim?” Blair said, stepping closer, seeing Jim sag against the door jam. “You okay, man?”

Ears still ringing, Jim didn’t answer. He used the back of his hand to wipe away the tears that had escaped. Blair pulled a hankie from his front pocket, but Jim waved it away, trying to regain his composure.

“What the hell was that?” Jim finally asked.

“Tribal Incantations,” Blair said, showing Jim the jewel case. “You okay now?”

“Yeah,” Jim said, shaking his head once again. “Tribal Incantations, huh? Sounded more like a war, Chief.”

“I’m sorry, Jim,” Blair said, pushing his hair back from his face. “I guess I just didn’t realize how loud it was.”

“It’s okay. Just took me by surprise when it started,” Jim started, needing to explain. “I was next door.”

“Oh, yeah. I understand. I’ll be more careful. I just thought with it this late there wouldn’t be that many people around.”   Blair was rambling now. “So, I guess you don’t like tribal music.”

“Just don’t play it so loud anymore, Chief.”

Hanging his head, Blair nodded in agreement. “Deal.”

Straightening, Jim started to head back to his work, but then turned. “But if you’re taking requests, you can’t go wrong with Santana.”

“I’ll remember that,” Blair said, laughing.

***

Flipping off the eleven o’clock news, Blair tossed the remote control onto the coffee table and flopped back onto the couch. No date, no paperwork, nothing to do. Blair thought about calling his mom, but he wasn’t sure where she was, which was par for the course.

Naomi Sandburg was a gypsy at heart, and she had shared that love of travel with Blair at a young age, carting him across six continents by the time he was fifteen. While he appreciated the education his world travels had imprinted upon him, sometimes he wished that he’d had a more normal upbringing. Naomi was his only family.   She’d left home as soon as the high school diploma was firmly in her hand and had never looked back.   Accepting his teaching position at Rainier after finishing his dissertation had been a major step in his life, his first chance for a real home.

He’d been twelve the first time he’d seen the Rainier campus. Naomi had been dating a psychology professor who had written a popular self-help book that she’d sworn had changed her life. That change, as well as the professor had only lasted three months, but it was enough time for Blair to fall in love with Rainier. He made up his mind that he was going to go to school there, and four years later he was back again, enrolling in his freshman courses. Naomi had been unable to stick around for the semester, so he’d had to live in the dorms, and then in later semesters, with friends, never having a place and space of his own.

Naomi came back in time for graduation three years later, full of stories and advice. They spent the summer traveling together, working their way down the coast, stopping whenever the mood struck or she ran into old friends. Eventually they ended up in Austin at the University of Texas where Blair was going to start work on his Master’s degree. She rented a sunny little house for them to share and life seemed to settle into a normal routine. It lasted for about four months, and then she started getting itchy feet. She was gone right after the new year started, leaving Blair enough money for the next month’s rent and not much else. But Blair was self-sufficient, he got a job and stretched each penny and kept the house until he graduated. This time Naomi didn’t show up. They had talked on the phone, but she just hadn’t been able to tear herself away from her pursuits long enough to celebrate with him.   He understood. It was just her way.

Blair returned to Rainier seeking his doctorate in Anthropology, and many of the professors remembered him fondly, encouraging him at every turn. Blair was enthusiastic and motivated and brought those qualities out in people around him, so getting a fellowship to teach while earning his degree wasn’t too hard. He’d always imagined that his life’s work would be out in the field, traveling the world in search of undiscovered wonders, but it was inside the classroom where he found his true calling. His natural abilities made him an exceptional teacher. There was always a waiting list for his class, and once in, students rarely missed his lectures.

After he received his doctorate, Blair was immediately offered a full time teaching position, which just meant that he’d get paid for teaching the same number of classes as he had been. He accepted, and started looking for a more permanent place to live than the warehouse he had been renting.   Several weeks later he found the perfect spot in the old business district.

It had been part of a warehouse, but when it was sold, it had been zoned for private residences.   Inside the third floor residence, there was a large open area, a small spare room, a bathroom, small bathroom and a wonderful loft. Blair knew immediately that this was the place he would call home. He signed a mortgage and finally knew the meaning of the word home. Home was where all the money went. It felt good.

Looking around, Blair smiled at his home. He’d been here for three years and had loved every minute. From his herb garden on the balcony to his newest purchase, stackable washer and dryer in the bathroom, Blair loved every aspect of owning his own home. Now if only he could find someone to share it with.

Sighing, he picked up his empty tea cup and took it to the sink. Taking a moment to make sure the front door was locked, he then made a final stop in the bathroom before heading up to bed. ‘Someday’ he promised himself, ‘I’ll find someone to share this with.’

***

After the usual rounds downstairs, Slick headed up to the rooms he called home. Most of the other Panteras had homes nearby, but he had always considered the hangout home since leaving his father’s house.

Slipping off his leather jacket, Slick hung it on the back of a chair before sitting down at the table.   He struggled with removing his steel-toed boots and then flexed his tired feet. His encounter with the loud tribal music had completely worn him out.   Usually he had pretty good control over his senses, but sometimes something unexpected popped up and knocked him on his ass.

Sighing, Slick reached for a small metal tin box sitting on the table. Popping the lid open he pulled out a small packet of weed, cigarette papers and a match. He pushed the tin box aside and reached for a discarded fast food bag. Ripping the bag apart, Slick flattening it as much as possible. Opening the nickel bag, he put a couple of pinches of the weed on the flattened bag, and then sorted through it to remove all the seeds and stems. When that was done, he folded the paper in half, like a funnel.   Taking out a piece of the cigarette paper, Slick folded it lengthwise about a third of the way from the bottom, with the glue side up. Holding it in his left hand, the glue side between his index and middle fingers and the other end between his thumb and ring finger, Slick picked up the paper and sprinkled the weed on the cigarette paper and then crumpled the take out bag, tossing it away. He spread the weed out in a semi-straight line, almost to the edges of the rolling paper. Holding it with both hands now, Slick used his thumbs to gently roll the joint, finally licking the glue edge to seal it. Then he licked it again to make sure it was sealed.

Standing, he set the joint beside the match and stripped off his clothes. Taking the joint and the match, Slick sat down on this bed, striking the match against the rough wood table and lighting up his joint. He inhaled deeply, filling his lungs. ‘Oh yeah, nothing like that first hit.’ Lying back on the pillows, he continued to enjoy his smoke until it burned low against his fingers. Blindly, he grabbed a roach clip from the ashtray on the bedside table and clipped it on the end of the joint, intent on enjoying every drag.

Drifting in his stoned haze, Slick seemed content, but under the temporary fix, there was something tickling the edges of his conscious. For the moment, he let it go. This high was too good, too necessary. And a voice inside him called out, but he just wasn’t listening.  

***

Week #3-Wednesday

Blair had waited all afternoon for this moment. The moment he was the last faculty member on his floor. Carefully withdrawing the latest gift from his mom, he eased the edge of the tin can up, inhaling deeply. ‘Oh, jeezus, that’s good.’

Naomi’s gift had arrived with the morning mail and Blair had eagerly torn it open. She was always sending him something unusual, but this had been a surprise. He wasn’t much of a coffee drinker, using it mostly to keep himself awake during his late nights at school, so he’d just tossed it inside his backpack. It was hours later when he’d yawned for the thirtieth time that he’d remembered the gift. Fishing out the tin, he pried the lid off and near orgasmed as the smell filled his nose. It was the finest Italian coffee, a specialty with a hint of added spices.   He’d quickly closed the container, afraid that the aroma would escape down the hallway and attract unwanted company.   This was special coffee, not to be shared with just anybody. He had slipped the tin inside his desk and gone for a coke instead, counting the hours until he was alone and could enjoy the coffee by himself. And now that moment was here. He’d already filled the water reservoir, using bottled water, and now he scooped the coffee into the filter.

Pushing the button, Blair sat back and waited.

He tried to distract himself with work, but it did no good, the smell and the sound drew his eyes back to the slowly filling pot. Using all his willpower, he forced himself not to pull the pot off as soon as the dark liquid covered the bottom even though his tongue quivered in anticipation.

A sound at his door drew his attention away from the coffee pot.

“Yes?”

“Just me, Chief,” Jim answered from behind the closed door.

Looking back at the filling pot, Blair smiled.

“Come on in, Jim,” Blair called out.

Slowly the door opened and Jim stepped in. Blair could see the cart Jim normally pushed when he was cleaning the offices, but a look at his watch told a different tale. Jim kept a strict schedule, preferring to leave cleaning the offices for last, so showing up early meant something, and Blair suspected he knew what it was.

“Got trash, Chief?”

“Not much,” Blair said, shaking his head. “You’re early tonight.”

“Well, I...” Jim searched for a plausible answer. “I was trying to finish up early tonight.”

“Oh? Special plans?”

“No, just tired, you know,” Jim said vaguely.

“Yeah, I know,” Blair answered, a smile threatening to explode across his face.

“Well,” Jim started, “guess I’ll see ya later.”

Jim turned away, heading back to his job. Blair hesitated for a moment, but then did what he knew he’d do as soon as he’d heard Jim in the hallway.

“How ‘bout a cup of coffee?”

Turning, Jim smiled broadly. “Thought you’d never ask.”

***

Dumping his backpack on the kitchen table, Blair sighed. It seemed like the days were getting longer. Either that or he was getting older. Shrugging off his jacket, he hung it on the back of the chair, and then checked the time. Scratching his stomach, Blair decided he needed something to eat.

Toasting a bagel, Blair put the kettle on, and leaned back against the counter, thinking back to the coffee he’d shared with Jim. He had to admit to himself that he’d hoped Jim would smell the coffee and come in search.   For reasons Blair didn’t understand, he felt a kinship with Jim, something which touched on attraction, yet it was different from how he’d felt about men in the past.

Accepting his bisexuality at an early age, Blair had dated numerous men and women, and had drawn his conclusions about himself and his partners. He preferred tall women who were self-confident, women who didn’t need or depend on him, which he also admitted was because of his mother’s influences. In men, his preferences were similar. He liked men who were muscular, tall, very masculine.

Men like Jim. The only problem was that he was pretty sure Jim was straight. Being friendly and enjoying good coffee didn’t make anyone gay. His curiosity would have to be filed away. From all their interactions, Jim seemed very quiet and private, which was too bad, because Blair also sensed a deep loneliness from him. They weren’t good enough friends for him to mention it; he didn’t want to do anything to scare Jim away from their burgeoning friendship.

***

Pinching off the burning end of the joint between his fingers, Slick leaned back against his headboard. He was restless. Lately, there was nothing that could take away that feeling, nothing that could make it go away. What made it even worse what that he didn’t know the cause. That wasn’t completely true. His thirty-sixth birthday was just around the corner, making him feel older than he was, making him consider his life.

Where was his life going?   He couldn’t be a Pantera for the rest of his life. At one time, he thought he’d die riding his bike, like Lucky, but as each birthday passed, he realized that wasn’t going to happen. Some people stayed bikers for their whole lives, while others left, staying a friend of the club and coming back for the major events. But what would life outside the Panteras be like?   After a decade and a half, what was a normal life, and could he have one if he left?

***

Week #3-Friday

Whistling softly, Blair gathered up his books and papers. He had a big date tonight, and was leaving early to run some errands and make sure the loft was in order.

‘Condoms, wine, flowers’ thought Blair, ‘in that order.’

The door to Hargrove Hall slammed shut behind him, caught by the wind, but Blair hardly noticed. He was halfway to his car when the loud rumbling of a motorcycle caught his attention. Stopping, he watched the slow, evocative approach, as if the Harley was stalking him, or maybe it was just the expression on the rider’s face.   On Jim’s face. A fire started in the pit of his belly, low and hard.   There was something about a man on a Harley, especially when that man was wearing leather and looked like Jim.

Jim nudged the kickstand down and turned off the motor. Swinging his right leg over the bike, Jim turned to where Blair still stood. He looked all of sixteen years old standing there, hair blowing wildly in the wind, mouth agape, eyes wide. Jim couldn’t help but smile.

Transfixed, Blair hadn’t moved, eyes taking in every inch of Jim, the biker. Now he noticed the jacket, biker gang name emblazoned on the back. ‘Panteras del Diablo.   Devil’s Panthers.’ Blair mentally translated, calling upon his working knowledge of Spanish. He’d had no idea Jim was a biker.

Seeing Jim’s smile, Blair walked over, trying to act casual.

“Nice bike.”

“Thanks,” Jim answered, tilting his head as if scrutinizing Blair.

“It’s an Electraglide, right?” Blair asked, a bit unnerved under Jim’s gaze.

Nodding, Jim answered, “Yeah, how’d—”

“A ’79?” Blair asked, leaning in for a closer look.

“How do you know so much about bikes?” Jim asked, curious now.

Shrugging, Blair smiled enigmatically. “What, a science nerd can’t possibly know anything about Harley’s?”

“Chief, I didn’t mean—”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Blair said, laughing. “My mom dated this guy who loved Harley’s. Bought ‘em old and fixed ‘em up. I paid attention.”

“Sounds like.” Jim then asked, “So, where’s your ride?”

“Ah, my baby. Right over here,” Blair said, gesturing to his car with a flourish.

Walking the length of the car, Jim nodded in appreciation.

“It’s a—”

“Corvair,” Jim interrupted.   “A ‘66, right?”

“Yeah, how’d you know?”

“What, a biker can’t know anything about cars?” Jim said teasingly, tossing Blair’s earlier comment back at him.

Blair grinned and said, “Okay, okay. Point made.”

“Good,” Jim said.   “This guy I used to work for loved ‘Vairs. He drove one, a ’62. He’d fixed it up real nice, did all the work on it himself cause he didn’t trust anybody else with it.”

“He’s a mechanic?” Blair asked, always curious about competent mechanics to work on his precious car.

“Not really, just a ‘Vair lover.”

“Oh.”

Jim heard the disappointed tone.

“What’s wrong, Chief?   Car problems?”

“Always,” Blair said, pushing a strand of hair behind his ear. “She’s a good car, but she’s temperamental, you know. She could probably do with a major tune up by a mechanic who knows her style, and I just don’t have the experience.”

Caressing the roof top, Jim considered. “I could give my friend a call,” he offered, “but I can’t make any promises.”

“You mean it,” Blair said, eyes wide in surprise.

“Sure. I’ll call him on my break.”

“God, Jim, that’d be great!   How can I thank you for this?”

“He hasn’t said yes, Chief.   Let’s just wait and see,” Jim said, smiling at Blair’s enthusiasm.

“Right. Okay,” Blair said. “So, guess I should let you get to work.”

“Yeah,” Jim said, looking over his shoulder at the waiting building. “You’re outta here early.”

“Date,” Blair said, grinning.

“Ah. Well, I’ll catch ya later.”

Nodding, Blair pulled his keys out of his pocket. “Thanks again, Jim.”

“Sure thing.”

Jim watched as Blair started the classic, waved and then drove away. Whistling, he started into the building.

***

Dinner with Marissa had gone surprisingly well. She was a graduate student in Psychology, and they found they had a number of other things in common, including a love of rich desserts. Blair didn’t realize how well the date had been going until Marissa ordered a second dessert, to take home.

She was asleep now, worn out by his enthusiastic loving. There were chocolate cake remnants strewn across the bed and on the floor. The sheets were stained from where they must have rolled in the cake. And Blair was pretty sure he could feel sticky patches on his body where icing had dried and was now flaking off. Deciding he couldn’t stand it any longer, Blair eased out from under Marissa’s arm, grabbed his robe and headed downstairs to take a shower.

The hot water flowed over his shoulders, soaking his hair, easing his muscles. Squeezing out a generous portion of soap, he slowly lathered up, replaying bits and pieces of the evening.

He had pursued Marissa from the very first moment he’d seen her sparkling green eyes and long legs, and had been very happy when she’d accepted his dinner invitation. Their dinner had been filled with lots of laughter and plenty of flirting on both their parts, but Blair had been surprised, pleasantly so, when she’d agreed to come back to his loft. And the sex...the sex had been exciting and hot, but now, head clear, Blair found himself wondering if there was something more, something he was missing.

He had no illusions about a future relationship with Marissa. She was going back to Arizona in two weeks, and had told him up front that she wasn’t looking for a long term relationship. He wondered if there was some kind of sign above his head that read ‘quick fuck here’.

A blast of cold air shook him from his musings. The curtain slid back and Marissa stuck her head in.

“Can I join you?”

“Sure.”

Blair moved to the back of the shower, offering her the direct spray. He offered to soap her back, but she just shrugged and did it herself. It soon became apparent that she didn’t intend to share the shower, so Blair stepped out and dried off quickly.

While Blair waited for her to finish, he changed the sheets on his bed, thinking that maybe they could return to it once again, but when Marissa came back upstairs, she reached for her clothes, and Blair knew their evening was over. He put the kettle on for a cup of tea and waited for her to come downstairs.

Smiling when she appeared, he asked, “Tea?”

“No,” she said, slipping her shoes on. “I never really liked it much.”

“Oh.”

She seemed eager to leave, so Blair grabbed her coat off the hook and held it open for her.

“Thanks, Blair,” she said.   Turning to him, she continued, “Tonight was a lot of fun. You were really great.”

“Yeah, it was fun. I thought maybe—”

“I’m so glad you’re not one of those people who thinks sex means anything,” she laughed, but it sounded so hollow in his ears. “Neither of us are the type of person who wants a permanent relationship.”

Blair didn’t say anything, couldn’t, he just nodded and kissed her cheek as she breezed out the door.   He finished making his cup of tea and then carried it over to the balcony doors, staring into the night.

‘But I do want a permanent relationship.’ That thought kept him company through the long night.

***

When Slick got home from his job at the University, he was met at the door by a very fucked up Brando.

“Slick!”

Practically holding his friend up, Slick moved them inside. An impromptu party was going on. A bottle of Jack Daniels was shoved into his hand, forcing him to release Brando, who was promptly caught by one of the numerous whores working the party.   All the members were present, enjoying the festivities. Relaxing, Slick twisted the lid off the bottle and took a swallow.

“Slick,” Preacher said over the loud music, “glad you’re here.”

He only nodded as he felt the beginnings of a headache. Knowing he couldn’t leave without being disrespectful to his brother’s generosity, Slick looked for another reason to escape. And she was a red head with big tits. Knowing she was already bought and paid for, Slick wasted little time with small talk, just grabbing her by the forearm and leading her upstairs.

He closed the door behind them, muting the blasting stereo somewhat. Taking a deep breath, he tried to shake off the headache. As if sensing his distress, the whore offered some of the coke she’d picked up from downstairs. He took a small snort, knowing that it wouldn’t take much to send him flying, and then began stripping off his clothes, mildly noticing that she was helping.

The room spun as she pushed him onto the bed, she fisted his cock and brought him to full hardness with a few strokes. Standing up, she slipped off her panties and grabbed a condom from her purse.   Returning to the bed, she mechanically slid it on him and then straddled his hips. He was good sized but she was experienced and took him easily. She rode him without thinking. It didn’t mean anything to either of them.

Eventually, Slick’s body tensed and he called out indistinctly. The whore slipped off him, disposed of the condom and pulled her panties back on. He was passed out on the bed.

She had the decency to cover him with a blanket when she left, but that was all.

***

Week #4-Monday

Jim drove into work early so he would make sure to catch Blair. Late Saturday afternoon when he’d finally awoken from his stupor, Jim had called his old boss about working on Blair’s ‘Vair. Bruce had been thrilled at the prospect of working on another ‘Vair and told Jim to tell his friend to come by whenever he could.   Jim couldn’t wait to tell Blair.

Rounding the corner near Blair’s office, Jim stopped short. Blair was standing just in the door way with another man, but it was the way he was standing that caused Jim to pause. There was a familiarity in the stance, a closeness that whispered in Jim’s subconscious and made him keep silent.

Then the other man, older and taller than Blair, opened his arms and Blair stepped into the embrace.   And an embrace it surely was.   Jim looked over his shoulder and down the hallway, making sure no one was coming and would catch him spying on Blair, and then he turned back. And witnessed a kiss he was sure he’d never forget.

They were kissing, deeply.   Jim could see the movement of their tongues against each other’s cheeks. He felt himself start to sweat. Kissing wasn’t the only thing they were doing. The older man’s hands had slid down Blair’s back, pulling them closer together, and then the hands slid even lower, cupping Blair’s ass, squeezing, caressing.

Jim didn’t know what to do, but stop watching them wasn’t an option. He’d never seen two men embrace, much less kiss and fondle. He supposed he should have been disgusted at their actions, yet, this was the same man who’d befriended and accepted him with no hesitation when he’d found out that Jim was a biker. His reaction didn’t make sense or, rather, his lack of reaction.

Finally, the two broke their kiss. Both were flushed with arousal, and in that instant, Jim felt like an intruder. He tried to back away quietly, but his boot caught the edge of a chair and it skittered down the hallway, making an ungodly loud noise.   He could have just tried to continue down the hallway, pretending that nothing happened, but instead he walked around the corner, to face the two men.

“Jim!” Blair said, his voice raised slightly.

“Damn chair,” Jim said, grabbing the offending piece of furniture and righting it by the wall.

Blair and his friend laughed a little self-consciously.

“Jim, this is my friend Paul. Paul, Jim.”

The two men shook hands, then looked back at Blair expectantly.

Breaking the strained silence, Blair asked, “Did you need to talk to me, Jim?”

“Um, yeah. I talked to my friend about your car and—”

“Oh, great.” Blair interrupted and turned to Paul. “I really need to talk to Jim about this.   It was nice to see you again.”

Jim stepped aside as Blair maneuvered the older man down the hall towards the elevators, and smiled to himself. Walking into Blair’s office, Jim helped himself to a cup of coffee, using the mug Blair had specified as his the first time they’d shared coffee. It had become an almost nightly ritual in the week since that first fateful cup, and Jim looked forward to sitting and talking over a mug. He liked Blair’s sharp wit and quick smile.

“Jeez,” Blair said as he came back into his office, closing the door behind him.

“What?” Jim asked curiously, sipping his coffee.

“Paul. We are so over, but ever time we run into each other, he wants to rehash the whole thing, and I told him...” Blair stopped. “Is this too much information?”

“Why do you ask?” Jim answered, setting the coffee mug on the edge of the desk.

“You had a real nasty look on your face. I guess you didn’t know I was bi. Sorry.”

“No, Chief, it’s not that, although that is a surprise,” Jim said. “It’s this coffee. When did you make it? Friday?”   Jim laughed.

Grinning, Blair answered, “Well, now that you mention it...”

They shared a laugh as Blair dumped Jim’s cup of coffee back in the pot, and then carried it down the hallway, returning with a pot of clean water. While he made a new pot, Jim told him about Bruce.

“He said to tell you to bring it by whenever you get a chance,” Jim informed him, writing the address and phone number on a sheet of paper.

“Great, Jim. Thanks so much. Next week is spring break, so hopefully he can look at it while I’m gone.”

“Gone? Where ya going?”

“The warm beaches of Mexico,” Blair said, sighing as if imagining already being warm. “My mom’s there and she invited me down.”

Curious, Jim asked, “Your mom live down there?”

“No. Her current boyfriend lives down there.”

“Like mother, like son,” Jim said softly.

“Huh?” Blair asked, not certain of Jim’s meaning.

“Nothing,” Jim answered, wishing he could take it back.

“No, what did you mean?” Blair asked seriously. “Do you have a problem with me being bi?”

Shaking his head, Jim answered, “No. What you do is your business. It’s just, just that you mentioned you had a date on Friday and then today you’re practically making out with a guy. You just seem to have a lot going on.” Jim paused, then continued, “And you said that your mom sent the coffee from Europe and now, a week later, she’s in Mexico with a new guy. That’s all, Chief.”

Turning back to the coffee pot, Blair poured them both a new cup as he thought about what Jim had said.   Handing Jim the hot mug, Blair caught Jim’s eyes.

“Paul is a long time over, and Marissa was just a...a date,” Blair clarified. “My mom loves men and traveling, and when they’re a package deal, she likes it even more. It just so happens that the guy she’s with in Mexico is the same one from Europe.”

Properly chastised for making assumptions, Jim apologized, “I’m sorry, Chief. I didn’t know.”

“No, you didn’t,” Blair said sternly, “And not that it matters, but I’m trying to settle down.   Date one person at a time, you know, grow up.”

Laughing, Jim said, “I don’t think that’s what grown up means.”

“Maybe not,” Blair smiled, “but it’s a start.”

They raised their mugs and then sipped the hot liquid. For the first time since starting his job, Jim started his shift late. And for the thousandth time, Blair worked late. But somewhere in the middle, they had time for another cup of coffee.

***

Lying in his big bed, Blair rolled over again. He punched the pillow, but still couldn’t get it right. It was late, later than usual, but he still couldn’t go to sleep.   He couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was that was keeping him awake, but obviously something was nagging at his subconscious.

He thought about meditating, but he lacked the desire to go downstairs for candles, and he remembered that he’d loaned his favorite meditation CD to a friend. ‘Just breathe. Nice deep breaths. In and out.   In and out.’

‘Yeah, that helped.’ Blair thought as his cock fantasized about that very action. In and out.

There was only one cure for this problem, and it would probably help him sleep better anyway.

Slowly, he ghosted his fingertips over his face. His forehead. His eyelids. Down his nose, across his lips. He raised his neck as his fingers trailed down the sensitive skin. Sighing, he slowly picked up speed, seeking out the dark nipples trapped in the silky chest hair. He pinched them gently at first, then harder, groaning at the pleasure he was causing in his own body. Self-love had always been so hot to him.

Sliding his hands down his chest, he tried to decide who to fantasize about, a man or a woman.   ‘Mmm, man tonight. A tall, strong man.’ He grasped his hard cock in his right hand, the left cradling his balls. Slowly stroking himself, he let the fantasy take him.

His fantasy lover was cradling him securely in his strong arms, holding him like the most precious gift imaginable. His lover’s hands touched him everywhere. Pinching his nipples, rubbing the precum off the tip of his cock, teasing his opening with promises to come. His lover was tasting him. Tasting his cock, his ass, following his treasure trail up his chest, licking behind his ear. His lover was pulling back to look into his eyes, and...

“Fuck!”

He was coming, pulling hard on his dick, jamming his fingers in and out of his ass, panting.

“Oh, Jim.”

***

Slick didn’t go straight home after his shift at the University. Instead, he drove aimlessly, letting the rumbling of his hog soothe and calm him. He knew his presence probably wasn’t appreciated in the quieter suburbs, but he drove the familiar streets anyway. He only slowed once, in front of the house he’d grown up in. It was dark, but he hadn’t expected his regimented father to be up past the late news. A part of him wanted to park his bike and walk up to the front door, but the other part, the cynical part, figured his father would probably call the police as soon as look at him.

‘Speak of the devil,’ Slick thought as he saw a cop car pull in behind him.

Realizing he wasn’t wanted here, Slick made a left and headed towards the interstate and the long drive back to Seattle. He noticed the cop car make the same turn, following him, and wondered briefly if someone in the upscale neighborhood had called them, or if they’d just been cruising by.

Watching his speed and obeying all the traffic laws, Slick led the cops onto the highway. He knew they’d probably already run his license plate and found out everything they could without actually stopping him.   Since he’d broken no laws, they had no cause to stop him, but if they had, Slick would have been polite and unassuming, offering them no ammunition to detain him. They finally gave up at the county line, realizing he wasn’t going to play their game, and then Slick opened his hog up and let her roar down the highway with no regard for his speed.

Not ready to go back to the clubhouse, Slick headed instead to a local coffee shop. One of the waitresses used to date Pepper, and she smiled at him when he came in and sat down in a corner booth.

“Hey, Slick,” she said, snapping her gum. “What can I get ya?”

“Coke, double cheeseburger, onion rings.”

She wandered off to put his order in, returning a few minutes later with his coke.

Fiddling with the straw, Slick thought back to the kiss he’d witnessed that afternoon. ‘So, the little professor is gay. No, bi. What the hell does that mean anyway? That he couldn’t decide whether he wanted men or women so he just takes the best of both worlds?’

When his burger and rings came, he poured ketchup on the burger and then took a big bite. It didn’t really matter if Blair was gay or bi, what did make an impact on Slick was Blair’s easy acceptance of his biker status. Most people immediately categorized him as soon as they knew, thinking of him as a troublemaker, cutting off their friendship as if by proximity they would become like him. Lots of people made judgments based purely on what they saw and not what was real. Slick had been on the receiving end of that treatment and knew how it felt to be snubbed by a friend, former friend. It hurt.

‘So, if Blair doesn’t have a problem with me being a biker,’ Slick decided, ‘then I don’t have a problem with him being bi.’

Content with his decision, Slick ordered a dessert and coffee. And half way through his cup of coffee, he wished Blair were sitting across from him.

***

Week #4-Wednesday

Checking his watch for the twentieth time, Blair knew he’d never finish in time to catch even the last quarter of the Jags/Spurs game. His mid-semester grades had to be turned in by midnight, and he’d made the mistake of postponing the midterm for his Anthro 201 students until this afternoon, completely forgetting about the big game and his plans to join friends at the bar to watch.

There was a quiet tap on the door, and then Jim opened it. Blair barely acknowledged his presence, head completely absorbed by the test booklet in front of him. Closing it, he looked up to see Jim getting ready to close the door and leave.

“No time for coffee?” Blair asked.

Shrugging, Jim said, “You looked busy.”

“Never too busy to take a break,” Blair said, standing and stretching. “Hey, any idea how the Jags are doing?”

“They don’t stand a chance against the Spurs,” Jim said, pouring coffee for both of them.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Blair said, taking the mug Jim offered.

“Robinson’ll kick Wallace’s ass.”

“No way! Wallace is too fast for him.”

“The Admiral can shoot like a dream,” Jim said, mimicking a free throw.

“Yeah, but he’ll need more than that to beat Wallace.”

“Yeah, right,” Jim said, laughing. “If you’re such a Jags fan, why aren’t you at the game?”

“No money, man. I had to pay for my plane ticket to Mexico,” Blair said, making a show of turning his empty pockets inside out. “What about you?”

“I work nights, Chief.”

“True. But you could have taken off, gone with some of your buddies.”

Shaking his head, Jim answered, “My buddies don’t care too much for sports.”

“Ah.”

“What’s that mean? ‘Ah’.”

“Just ‘ah’. Nothing.   I just wondered...”

“How I got to be a biker?”

“Yeah,” Blair said, his natural curiosity perking up. “How old were you when you joined? What kind of—”

Holding up his hands, Jim stopped him, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Lots of questions there, Chief.”

“Yeah, sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“You didn’t, don’t worry.   But can we save this for another time?” Jim asked. “We’ve both still got work to do, and maybe if we finish quick enough, we can catch some of the game over at the student union.”

That sounds like a plan!”

They both returned to their jobs, but a clogged sink kept Jim from joining Blair at the student union to watch the overtime. The Spurs won 119 to 118, and Blair just shook his head. The Admiral had pulled it off.

***

“Don’t hang up, don’t hang up,’ Blair chanted as he tried to unlock his front door and get to the ringing phone.

“Hello?”

“Sweetie?”

“Mom!”

“I’ve been calling all day, Blair. You’re not working too hard are you?”

“No, it’s just really busy right now. I’m trying to get everything done now so I can enjoy my vacation.”

“That’s wonderful, Sweetie. I can’t wait to see you,” Naomi said. “Are you bringing someone special?”

“No, mom, not this trip.”

“But you’re seeing someone?” Naomi asked, perpetually nosey.

An image of Jim flashed into his head, and his body shivered with remembered desire at the fantasy from earlier in the week.   When he finally answered, he had to struggle for his voice not to shake.

“No, I’m not seeing anyone.”

“Blair Sandburg, you can lie to everybody else, but I’m your mother and I know when you’re lying. Tell me about him.”

“Him?” Blair squeaked. “What makes you think it’s a man?”

“You’re always more secretive when you’re dating a man,” she clarified. “Now, tell me!”

“Naomi,” Blair sighed, “we’re not dating. He’s just a friend.”

“But you want there to be more?”

“Yes. No.”

“Which is it, Sweetie?”

They were both silent as Blair considered the question.  

“Yes,” he said, but the sadness in his voice made his answer seem less sure.

“Blair, what’s wrong?”

“He...I...”

“You can talk to me, Sweetie,” she said, coaxingly.   “Do I need to fly up there and kick some guy’s ass?”

Blair snorted. “You would, wouldn’t you?”

“Anything for you. You know that.”

“Yeah, I do know that.” Blair sighed. “I just really can’t talk about this right now, okay. But we will talk. I promise.”

“Okay, Blair. I’ll hold you to that,” she said, and he could almost see the finger shaking in his face. “Now, what time is your flight?”

They discussed his flight plans and made arrangements for her to pick him up late Friday night. Before they hung up, she made him promise again to tell her about this man that had him tied up in knots.

After hanging up with Naomi, he automatically reached for the kettle, but dropped it noisily onto the cook top.

“Damn it!” he yelled at the silent and empty space which haunted him.

***

Slick, Smokey and Shooter were enjoying the mild night, sitting behind the clubhouse, drinking beer. Slick had always felt close to them, mostly because they had sponsored him and Lucky so many years ago, but also because they were good at reading him.

“What’s eatin’ at ya, Slick?” Smokey asked.

“Just thinking.”

“About...” Shooter prodded.

Taking a long pull from his beer, Slick deliberated.   “About the future.”

“Aww,” Smokey teased, “our little boy’s growing up.”

Shooter laughed with him.

Slick didn’t. “Fuck you,” he said, starting to stand up.

Grabbing Slick’s arm, Smokey said, “Just sit the fuck down. Damn, you’re touchy.   Can’t take a joke anymore?”

He didn’t answer.

“Man, why don’t you go grab more beer,” Smokey said to Shooter. Once he’d gone inside, Smokey leaned closer to Slick. “What’s going on, kid?”

“Kid? I’m not a fuckin’ kid! I’m almost thirty-fucking-six years old.”

“And I’m almost fifty fuckin’ years old. What the hell does that have to do with anything?”

Sighing raggedly, Slick continued, “Don’t you want more than this?”

“More than what?”

“More than this,” Slick gestured wildly. “A house. A job. Someone to love.   Just...more.”

“Ah, the universal more,” Smokey said. “Slick, I have a roof over my head, good friends, anything I want. I have more than some people, and I have a hell of a lot less, too, but I’m happy.   What more could a man ask for?   Are you happy?”

Shaking his head, Slick answered softly, “Sometimes.”

“Then you need to figure out what’s gonna make you happy. And if leaving the Panteras is it, then I say go. You’ll always have a home and friends here, never doubt that.”

Shooter returned then, handing each of them a cold beer.

“Thanks,” Slick said, his eyes on Smokey who just nodded.

Twisting the lid off, Slick took a long swallow and contemplated the stars, wishing the answers were as clear as the night.

***

Week #4-Thursday

Blair waited until a quarter of seven before heading down to the university cafeteria. It usually emptied out once evening classes started, which was the only time he could eat a meal in peace without a hundred and one students trying to talk to him. He’d actually hung a ‘be back in an hour’ sign on his door that afternoon just to get some work done.

Choosing the grilled chicken sandwich and a salad, he thought about going back to his office to eat, but when he saw Jim sitting alone, the decision was no longer his.

“Mind if I join you?” Blair asked.

“Hey, Chief,” Jim said, surprised. “Sure, sit down.”

“Thanks.”

Blair tore into this sandwich, discarding the bread and soggy tomato, and then ripping the chicken into pieces with his fingers.

“I think it’s dead,” Jim observed.

Blair laughed. “Never hurts to be careful.”

“You eat down here often?”

“Nah. You?”

“Only when I’m running late.”

“Am I keeping you?” Blair asked, realizing that Jim’s tray only held an empty plate.

“No,” Jim said quickly, “I just left home late and didn’t have time to stop for anything else.”

“Ah,” Blair said, taking a bite of his salad.   “Where’s home?”

“Seattle.”

Raising his eyebrows, Blair asked, “You drive in from Seattle ever day?”

“Yep.”

“Why?” Blair asked, curious. “I mean, there have to be jobs in Seattle.”

“Kinda goes back to the whole biker thing.”

“Oh.” Blair didn’t say anything more.

“It’s not that I can’t get a job there, it was just easier to come to Cascade where the Panteras don’t have a reputation,” Jim explained.

“I understand,” Blair said, sipping his bottled water.

“Do you really?”

Sighing, Blair answered, “No, not really. Do you have time now? Can you explain it to me?”

“Yeah. Okay.”

They talked for almost an hour. Well, actually Jim talked and Blair listened.   It was probably the first time in a long time that Blair didn’t do the majority of the talking. Jim explained how he’d joined the Panteras and what life was like as a biker, while Blair listened intently. It surprised Jim, but it felt so good to talk to someone who didn’t have any preconceived notions or expectations, that Jim opened up completely, admitting that he was questioning his membership in the Panteras and wondered what his future held.

Blair listened with a sympathetic ear, offering suggestions when Jim asked or when he seemed unsure what to say next. It was a very intimate conversation, and Blair relished every second of being allowed so deeply inside Jim’s soul.

All too soon, the cafeteria grew steadily noisier, signaling evening break time. The noise broke Jim’s concentration and focus, and he pulled back from the conversation, embarrassed that he’d revealed so much about himself.

“Sorry, Chief,” Jim said, no longer meeting Blair’s eyes.

“Why?”

“I didn’t mean to dump all that on you. You’ve got better things to do than listen to me complain.”

“Jim,” Blair waited until Jim’s eyes met his again, “shut up. Friends listen, and they help if they can.”

Remembering his conversation with Smokey the night before, Jim smiled. “Thanks, I’m glad we’re friends.”

“Me, too.”

Smiling at each other, they cleaned their table and left the cafeteria. They returned to their jobs, and the smiles stayed on their faces.

***

Blair was still smiling as he packed for his spring break trip. Digging in the back of drawers and the closet, he managed to scrounge up his meager summer clothes.   Living in Washington State didn’t require more than two pairs of shorts, but Mexico was different; shorts were a staple of a wardrobe there.

Carrying his bag downstairs, he set it on a kitchen chair and went to the bathroom to pack his shaving kit. He contemplated condoms and lube. ‘Is that what I’m looking for on this trip?’ Finally, he put them both back in the medicine cabinet.   If it was sex he was looking for, he didn’t have to look further than the university campus. ‘No, this trip is about relaxing and visiting with Naomi.’

Shaking his head at his reflection, he berated himself, ‘Lie to other people, but not to yourself, ‘Chief’.’

Jim.

Unable to face his reflection any longer, he left the bathroom, dumping his shaving kit into the open bag. Lighting a three-wicked candle on the coffee table, Blair settled on the couch, pulling an afghan over his legs.

Thinking back to his shared dinner with Jim, Blair filtered the images through his mind. He couldn’t think of another conversation where he’d listened and learned so much about another person. And the more time he spent with Jim, the more time he wanted to. He loved Jim’s smile and quirky sense of humor, so like his own. For being so different, they had a remarkable number of common interests. It was too bad.…

Shaking off that train of thoughts, Blair angrily flipped back the afghan, checked the lock on his door and then headed up to bed.   He had to get up early to catch his flight, and it wasn’t productive to waste any more time thinking about a man who only wanted his friendship.

***

Sitting on the front steps with Brando while the kid fiddled with the engine on his hog, Slick drank a beer and kept an ear out for Smokey and Shooter. It was common for members to be out after dark, but there had been a few reports of trouble from other biker gangs. Just to be on the safe side, Preacher had suggested that someone keep a watch in the evenings.

Hearing the clubhouse door opening behind him, Slick looked up to see Preacher step outside.

“Preacher,” Slick greeted him.

The older man sat down beside him, scanning the street.   Not a man for small talk, Preacher got right to his point.

“You having any trouble getting in and out of Cascade?”

Knowing Preacher meant trouble from other bikers, Slick shook his head and answered, “Nope, none. Other than a few riceburners at the university, I haven’t seen a thing.”

“Good, good. I heard the Void was looking to expand their territory, and we don’t need that kind of shit here.”

Slick nodded, knowing the Void was primarily a Cascade based club that dealt in meth labs and gambling. They were the kind of club that gave biker gangs a bad rap.  

“You ever run into them, get your ass outta there, Slick,” Preacher warned. “They don’t fuck around. They shoot first, and ask questions later.”

Laughing to lighten the leader’s mood, Slick joked, “Don’t worry about me, Preacher. I like my ass just the way it is.”

***

Week #5-Spring Break

Even though it was Spring Break, the university was still active and Jim was kept busy. The floors in his building had to be waxed, including several classrooms, which meant moving the desks out first. The physical labor kept him busy but his mind wandered.

Usually the faculty offices didn’t need cleaning during the break, so Jim had no excuse to go by Blair’s office. But under the pretext of watering Blair’s plants, Jim visited his office.

The next night Jim found himself staring at the coffee pot; he missed his regular coffee break with Blair, chatting about their day or hearing Blair tell one of his stories about his adventures. He cleaned it and the mugs, and silently figured out how many hours until Blair returned.

Another night, he ate dinner in the cafeteria, but it wasn’t even close to as good as the dinner they’d shared. And Jim refused to answer the burning question.   Was it the food or the company that made the first dinner so much better? Sometimes it was better to leave details like that alone.

Towards the end of the week, Jim was vacuuming the hallways. He paused in front of Blair’s office. Only professors who’d asked had their offices vacuumed. Justifying it to himself as a favor, Jim unlocked the door and continued his vacuuming.   He found Blair’s scarf under the desk.

Turning it over in his hands, Jim checked the label.   It was pure cashmere. Rubbing the soft material against his cheek, his whiskers were rough against the silkiness. ‘Probably a gift from some girl. Or some guy,’ he thought. He folded the scarf carefully and set it on Blair’s desk.

After returning the vacuum to the storage closet and clocking out, he went back to Blair’s office and slipped the folded scarf inside his leather jacket. Still unable to admit the real reason to himself, Jim skulked from the building, hiding in shadows, afraid that someone would see him and his secret would be written all over his face.

***

Mexico was wonderful for Blair. He soaked up the sun, storing it away for when he returned to Cascade; his skin turning bronze under the kiss of the sun. Naomi’s boyfriend rented a sailboat, and they cruised along the coast, drinking margaritas and laughing.

At night, after Roland went to bed, Naomi would stay up and they would talk late into the night. It only took her two days to break down his defenses and persuade him to tell her all about Jim. But even then, Blair insisted they were only friends, and she had looked at him with all the motherly love possible and told him to ‘wise up’ and either ‘let it go or do something about it’.

And like any good boy, he listened to his mother; he tried to let it go. He was bi and Jim was straight, and he’d never given Blair any indication that he’d be willing to switch teams. Sure, they had a lot in common, but that still didn’t make Jim open to a homosexual relationship or even attracted to him. He was so mixed up, but he knew letting the idea go was the best. But some doubts lingered.

Half memory-half thoughts would come to him at the oddest moments. The way Jim looked the night he’d caught Blair and Paul kissing. It had been a combination of embarrassment and curiosity.   Blair wondered what it would take to suppress the one and satisfy the other.

He remembered the first time he’d seen Jim ride up on his Harley. The predatory look in Jim’s eyes as he eased the heavy machine towards Blair. The way Jim had listened and cared enough about Blair’s ‘Vair to make sure it got the right treatment. He wondered if Jim showed that much care to all his friends, and how he treated the people he dated.

Were these things just the actions of a friend, or was there more there? That question kept Blair company during his week in the sun. He left Mexico tanned and rested, but still with filled with unanswered questions.

At the airport, right before his flight was called, Naomi handed him a small box.

“It’s just a little something.”

Flipping the lid open, Blair smiled. “An aquamarine?”

“It possesses the calming effect of the sea, and you have been calmer down here, haven’t you?” Blair nodded. “It also promotes clarity of mind, and you have a big decision ahead of you.”

Throwing his arms around her, he hugged her tightly.   “Thank you so much.”

He had to run to catch his plane, but the new earring, a hoop with a small aquamarine gem, was dangling proudly from his left ear.

***

It had been a slow week on all fronts for Slick.   The clubhouse was quiet for a change.   Preacher and a group had left early in the week on a run to San Francisco, leaving behind a few members to keep an eye on the clubhouse. There wasn’t likely to be trouble, the neighborhood was pretty decent and they respected the club for keeping it that way.

His work at the university kept his hands busy, but the work was mindless and his thoughts drifted. Drifted to Blair and what he might be doing in Mexico. His interest in the professor stunned him, and yet he could find no reason not to remain friends. It was an unexplainable attraction. And that was the problem.

Slick had always been attracted to good looking women, had never had a problem getting company in his bed either before or since becoming a Pantera, but now he found excuses to avoid women. He tried to rationalize his fondness for Blair, trying to identify and label all of Blair’s feminine traits, thinking that was why he found Blair attractive, but he fell short. Sure, Blair had long hair, was physically smaller than he, but that’s where the feminine characteristics ended. In a number of ways, Blair was exceptionally masculine.

They’d talked at length about sports, and Slick was surprised that Blair was active in a faculty basketball league and played softball in the summer. Being an anthropologist, Blair was used to roughing it, but Slick was impressed that Blair took real pride in being a nature lover and that he loved to camp and fish. Slick remembered doing those kinds of things years ago, in another lifetime.

Then there were Blair’s other masculine traits.   The five o’clock shadow no matter the time of day, the hint of chest hair that peeked out from the top of tee-shirts, the size of Blair’s hands.

It hadn’t escaped Slick’s notice that Blair’s hands were bigger than his. In fact, just thinking about his hands, made Slick shiver. He’d watched those hands writing, making coffee, caressing an artifact as he described its origins, and embellishing a story. They were the most expressive hands Slick had ever seen.   And during their dinner, he’d gotten the chance to watch Blair suck those fingers into his mouth to clean them after ripping apart his chicken sandwich.

Remembering that night, Slick thought back to the way Blair’s lips had looked, shiny with saliva and grease.

‘Stop it!’

And the way his fingers had slid in and out from between those lips, his tongue curled around them.

“Shit!”

His outburst attracted the attention of a nearby member, but the other guy, T-Bone, turned back to his hot mama, forgetting the incident before Slick had even left the room.

Slamming his bedroom door, Slick looked around for something to hit, to break, to help him escape. Spotting his pot tin, he sat down at the table to roll a joint.   He opened the nickel bag and sniffed the sweet weed, but it didn’t smell like normal.    Thinking back, he tried to remember when he’d bought this bag.   Realizing it had been quite a while, and that the pot was stale, he slammed the lid of the tin shut.

He needed something. Someone. He knew there were only a handful of females downstairs and most were old ladies of members and not shared. He also knew that if he really wanted company, he could easily find it. But the image in his head, the image of what he wanted, he knew he wouldn’t find in some nameless broad.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, he slowly undressed, pulling off his steel-toed boots first. He pulled the tee-shirt over his head, tossing it down beside the bed, and then he stood to unzip his jeans. They slid down his bare skin, a whispered caress against him. Stepping out of them, he bent gracefully and picked them up, laying them over his dresser.

Lying back against the head board, he causally stroked his half hard dick. He tried to visualize a lover. Sucking on a nipple while pinching the other. A lover licking down his chest. His hands tangling in dark curls. That hot, knowing mouth finding all his sweet places.   His hands sliding down to touch the lips, tilting the head, meeting ocean blue eyes.

Blair’s eyes.

Dropping his hard cock like it was burning his hand, he berated himself, ‘What the hell am I thinking?’ He didn’t need to answer that question out loud, it seemed his body had already decided. His cock throbbed now, harder than ever before. It knew what he wanted, what he needed.

Gripping his cock more firmly, Slick tried to direct his fantasy once again.

She was holding his cock with one hand, rolling his balls with the other. Bending to lick at the crown and the leaking slit. Taking the tip between full lips, sucking ever so softly. Teasing fingers sliding down under his balls.

He spread his legs unconsciously, letting his own fingers follow his fantasy lover’s lead.

That knowing hand sped up the stroking, making him pant. The fingers continued their journey downwards, ghosting over his asshole, making him gasp.

He touched himself intimately, pressing lightly against his hole, moaning.

His lover’s mouth slowly slid down the length of him, nose pressed against his pubic hair, swallowing convulsively around him. Fingers pressing inside.

He pulled at his cock harder, his questing fingers pushing inside him, searing his soul.

His lover was whispering to him. ‘Come for me. Come on me.’

He did, come splattering his chest and face, as his fingers stilled in his spasming ass and the image of Blair, lips swollen and red, grinned at him, imaginary come dripping off Blair’s lips onto him.

“Fuck!” Slick yelled, reaching for his discarded tee-shirt and wiping the come away.

He threw the tee-shirt as far across the room as it would go, then angrily pulled back his sheets, sliding between their coolness.   Punching the pillow, he tried to go to sleep, and not analyze the distinctive turn his fantasy had taken.  

‘I’m NOT gay!’ Slick mentally screamed, but a little voice inside him called out for Blair. And when sleep finally came, he dreamed of Blair and he was at peace.

***

Week #6-Monday

Jim didn’t even try to deny why he was at work early.   He had missed Blair.

Checking Blair’s office, Jim found it empty. He knew Blair’s schedule by heart, yet another thing he refused to explain to himself, and his last class should have ended over an hour ago. So where was he?

Using his passkey, Jim let himself into the empty office. Blair’s backpack was sitting next to his desk, his jacket lay over the arm of his chair, but there was no other indication of the man they belonged to. Looking around the empty office, Jim felt a momentary flash of apprehension. How would he explain being in Blair’s office when the professor was nowhere to be found?   

Hurriedly, Jim searched for some clue. Blair’s jacket being here didn’t mean anything because it was an unseasonably sunny and warm day. The backpack’s presence meant he hadn’t left and probably wasn’t doing university business. So, what would take Blair out of the office? Or was it who?

‘Male or female?’

Jim needed to get some fresh air. Closing and locking the door behind him, Jim headed for the roof, the one place he was sure not to run into another person. He took the stairs two at a time, anger fueling his ascent, slamming into the roof door hard enough for it to hit the wall and bounce back at him, the lock pinching the edge of his left hand and slicing it open.  

Muttering a curse, Jim looked at his hand. It was just a little cut, but like most small cuts, it had the potential to bleed profusely. Sucking the wounded skin, he tasted the coppery flavor of his blood.   Waiting for it to stop bleeding, Jim looked around and realized he wasn’t alone on the roof.

Someone had set up a collapsible beach chair near the far corner. Taking a step closer, Jim realized who that someone was. The reason for his anger. Blair Sandburg.

Listening to his headphones, Blair hadn’t heard Jim's arrival on the roof. In fact, Blair appeared to be asleep, soaking up the sunshine. He had stripped off his shirt and his pants, unbuttoned, had slipped down a few inches revealing the top of what appeared to be navy silk. Jim’s fingers tingled as if he’d already touched the soft material.

His skin was darker, Jim noticed. ‘From his vacation,’ he reasoned, letting his eyes roam across Blair’s hairy chest, pinpointing the cinnamon colored nipples, which were peaked, a result of the cool breeze. The breeze was also lifting Blair’s loose curls away from his face, revealing more clearly the sharp angles of his jaw, the curve of his Adam’s apple, the fullness of his lips. Jim reasoned that Blair must have been out here a long time, because a light sheen of sweat had broken across his forehead.

Blair shifted, raising one arm above his head, revealing the lighter skin of his underarm, the hair short. Jim sniffed the air, willing the breeze to bring Blair’s scent along to him. A bead of sweat caught his eye, and he watching it slowly roll down Blair’s chest, ease through the curls and slide into the shallow depression of Blair’s navel.   His eyes continued down, unconsciously following the treasure trail to the border of silk. Even then he couldn’t pull back, he had to see, needed to see.

His heart was beating so loudly in his own head, its rhythm mimicked the pounding of the bass pouring out through Blair’s headphones.   He could barely make out the words between heartbeats.

/...a sexual thing...lyin’ there...so horny...startin’...hold me...feels so good...knew it would.../

The lyrics thrummed through his brain and shot straight to his cock. Yes, yes, yes. At that moment, Jim would have agreed to anything. Whether it was the power of the words and the visual stimuli, it was overwhelming.   It was overpowering. It was undeniable.

Jim watched with greedy eyes as Blair slowly opened his own eyes.

/...It’s just a sexual thing.../

The weight and heat of Jim’s gaze singed Blair’s soul.   He’d never felt anything as intense as the moment their eyes met and realization and recognition dawned on both of them.

Standing gracefully, Blair took a moment to button his pants, eyes locked with Jim’s.

/...pleased you’ve come.../

Blair grabbed his bottle of water, tilting his head back, he tipped the bottle, pouring a healthy flow onto his face.   Shaking his head, the water flew in all directions from the ends of his hair. With the palm of his hand, he wiped away the excess moisture from his forehead, drying his hand on the light material of his pants, darkening them.

/...pleasure’s all mine.../

Jim tried to draw a deep breath into his chest, but his body wasn’t responding; he panted. He was consumed with the presence in front of him.

/...I am your...I am your...ain’t nothin’ but a sexual thing.../

Blair took a step closer. Jim’s heart beat faster. He was being hunted. The look in Blair’s eyes was predatory, hungry, aching. Jim’s body responded in a way he’d never felt before. He wanted to be pursued, hunted, eaten, taken. He trembled.

/...masturbating.../

Hunter took another step, closing the distance.

/...fornicating.../

Prey licked his lips and hunter followed the tongue’s path.

/...come with me.../

Blair stretched out his hand, palm up, silently asking Jim to take that step, take that chance. And Jim had no willpower to resist, the spell around them was too strong, too powerful. He raised his hand to clasp Blair’s.

/...it’s just a sexual thing.../

Blair saw the blood a second before he felt the slickness on his palm.

“Jim,” he broke the silence, shattering the spell around them, “you’re bleeding.”

Shaking off his lust induced stupor, Jim slammed back into reality, “It’s nothing.”

He tried to pull back his hand, but Blair refused to let it go, examining the wound.

“I don’t think you need stitches but it definitely needs to be cleaned and bandaged.” Letting go of Jim’s hand, Blair turned back to his beach chair, grabbing his shirt and slipping his arms into the sleeves. Buttoning one button, he grabbed Jim by the hand again, leading him down the stairs, ignoring the resistance he felt.

Blair fumbled with the keys to his office, finally getting the lock open. He left the keys dangling from the lock as he maneuvered Jim into the chair across from his, and dug in his desk, looking for his first aid kit. Finding it, he dropped down between Jim’s outspread knees.

Breathing shallowly, Jim watched every move Blair made.   His mind was still spinning, thoughts coming at him from every angle, words pounding in his head. He barely felt the sting of the antiseptic as Blair cleansed the wound, and then felt a twinge of pain as the bandage was secured around the cut.

Blair’s head was bent down, still close to the wound, and for a second, Jim thought he was going to kiss the bandaged area.   Mixed emotions coursed through him. Blair was on his knees, between Jim’s legs. It was too much.

Jerking his hand away from Blair’s grasp, Jim stood abruptly sending his chair backwards into a filing cabinet. He looked at the startled expression on Blair’s face, the hurt look in his eyes, and struggled for something to say.

“Chief...”

And then he turned and fled out the open door.

***

The lock easily slid closed and Blair dropped his keys on the table beside the door. He let his backpack slip off his shoulder and it landed with a soft thump.   Not bothering to flick on a light despite the darkness, he made his way to the nearest couch. Drawing his knees up, Blair struggled to understand.

After Jim’s hasty escape from his office, Blair had been tempted to follow, but his trembling legs had made that all but impossible. He’d sat at his desk for a few minutes, breathing deeply to calm himself. He had then fixed his clothes, buttoning his shirt up and tucking it back in, and gone in search of Jim. His first instinct had been to make sure Jim’s bike was still in the parking lot, and its notable absence tore at his heart. He hadn’t meant to drive Jim away; he wanted Jim as close as he’d been that afternoon—if not closer.

Thinking back to those precious moments on the roof, Blair had no idea what had roused him from his sunny nap, but opening his eyes to see Jim standing there, watching him, eyes caressing him, had been like a sign from the heavens. It was just what he’d prayed for, wished for, hoped for. And he thought Jim had felt the same, but the hasty retreat spoke of other things. Of fear and confusion.

But Jim’s body hadn’t been confused. Blair had seen clear evidence of Jim’s erection, both on the roof and in his office. Jim had liked what he’d seen, had wanted Blair as much as Blair wanted him. But why did he run?

‘He can’t think I don’t want him. I thought I was pretty obvious,’ Blair thought to himself.

Pulling the afghan from the back of the couch over him, he scooted down, getting comfortable, already making plans for the next time he saw Jim Ellison.

***

If Blair was having a hard time understanding, Slick wasn’t in much better shape a town away.

He’d driven back to Seattle like a bat outta hell, wanting, daring some unsuspecting cop to stop him, but to no avail. He was looking for a fight, anything to take his mind off the afternoon’s events.

The clubhouse was practically empty, most of the members were either at their jobs or busy with family, so Slick prowled the streets on his hog. He was a menacing spectacle, death on two wheels, looking for something to satisfy the rage that rumbled through him. He needed to hit someone, something.

Preacher’s words from a week ago rolled through his mind.   ‘The Void.’ With purposeful moves, Slick headed back to the interstate and Cascade.

But as he drove mechanically, he had time to think.   And the more he thought, the quicker his rage faded, and uncertainty took its place.

‘What the hell happened on that roof?’ he asked himself.   ‘It was like I wasn’t in control, like I had no choice. And I...I liked...I wanted...’ He refused to let himself finish that comment, as if by not admitting it, it would make it any less real.

Back in Cascade, he cruised by the university, seeing Blair’s ‘Vair. He wasn’t sure if that was comforting or not, but he knew he couldn’t face Blair right now anyway, so he left the university grounds.

Slick contemplated driving by his father’s house again, but he knew that even if his old man was home, he wouldn’t go in. He didn’t even know if he was welcome in the house, and he was scared to try and have the door slammed in his face. He’d seen his dad four times in the last fifteen years, the last time about five years ago at Christmas, and with each passing year it became harder to try again. Maybe someday.

Driving around, he spotted a sign for the garage he’d suggested to Blair and decided to stop in for a visit, but the doors were closed for the night. He hadn’t realized how late it was getting. Thinking again of his time working at the garage, he remembered his old friend Simon. They’d kept in touch over the years, getting together on Lucky’s birthday to remember their fallen friend.

Spotting a pay phone, Slick pulled up beside it, fished out some change and made a call. It was a short conversation, but he’d secured a dinner invitation and the much needed company.

Simon’s house was in a decent neighborhood, working class, and Simon had worked hard to get his family there. After working days in the garage and attending night school for six years, Simon had earned his degree in Criminal Justice. At one point, he’d thought about becoming a cop, but having just married and about to be a father, Simon couldn’t stand the thought of purposely putting his life in danger. Instead, he’d worked to get his private detective’s license and set up his own firm. He had two other people working for him now, and more work than he could handle. Simon had made it. But life for him wasn’t all peaches and cream. His wife had died two years ago, leaving Simon to raise a small child on his own. Daryl had just turned seven and was a straight ‘A’ student in the first grade. Slick was a proud godfather, even if he did only see the kid once a year, he still sent presents at Christmas and on birthdays.

As Slick pulling into Simon’s driveway, Daryl was standing there waving to him, having heard his approach from a good distance away in the quiet suburb.

“Uncle Jim!”

“Hey, Squirt,” Slick said, dismounting his bike.

“You gonna give me a ride today?” Daryl asked. He asked every time Slick came over, but the answer was always the same.

“I don’t think so, Daryl!” Simon called from the doorway. “And get in here and wash your hands, dinner is almost ready.”

Daryl ran in, Slick following.

“Simon, how’s it going?”

“Not bad. You?”

“Same ole, same ole.”

They sat down to a home cooked dinner, something Slick was rarely able to indulge in. It didn’t matter that it was fish sticks and macaroni and cheese; it wasn’t take out or diner food. Daryl regaled them with stories of his classmates and their latest field trip to the zoo, and Slick absorbed every moment, storing it up for the long empty stretches of time when he was alone.

Daryl went up to take his bath while Simon did the dishes; he washed and Slick dried.

“So, what’s up?” Simon asked.

Slick continued to dry the plate he was holding, not saying a word.

“You in some trouble?”

“No.”

They finished the dishes in silence and then took their iced teas into the living room. Daryl sat beside Slick as they watched the Cartoon Network, Daryl’s nightly half-hour of television. At bedtime, Daryl gave Slick a hug before heading up to bed. When Simon came back downstairs, he detoured to the kitchen and retrieved two beers.

Handing Slick the beer, Simon asked again, “So, if you’re not in trouble, then what brings you by?”

“What? A guy can’t just drop by to see his friend and godson?”

“Not when that guy is you,” Simon answered, laughing.

They finished their beers in silence, the television still droning on. When his bottle was empty, Slick took it and Simon’s to the kitchen, threw them away and returned with two more.

Taking a long swallow, Slick finally asked, “You know any gay people?”

Raising his eyebrows, Simon didn’t answer right away.

“Yep.”

“And?”

“And what?” Simon said, over the rim of the bottle.

“Is he...normal?”

“Normal? No, he’s gay.”

“Simon!” Slick said, frustrated.

“Don’t ‘Simon’ me. Ask me what you want to know.”

Sighing, Slick downed the rest of his beer.

“What’s you gay friend like?” Slick finally asked.

“Like? He’s like you or me,” Simon answered, gesturing. “He works, he laughs, he pays taxes.”

“But, doesn’t it bother you?”

“That he’s gay? That he likes to suck cock?” Slick grimaced at the vulgarity. “No, it doesn’t bother me. He’s just a normal person who happens to love differently than I do.”

Weighing this, Slick phrased his next question carefully. “So, you think it’s okay for two men to love each other?”

“Let me tell you something, Jim,” Simon said, leaning closer. “Love is so rare and precious that I don’t think it matters where it comes from, just so long as you appreciate it when you have it. Cause once love’s gone, you feel its loss.”

Slick knew Simon was speaking from experience.   Losing Joan had nearly broken Simon apart, and if he hadn’t had Daryl to pour all his love onto, Simon might not have survived her death. Reaching over, Slick squeezed Simon’s hand, realizing that even though Joan had been gone for two years, Simon still loved her.

On the drive back to Seattle, Slick contemplated the idea of a devoted, enduring love. If two men could share that kind of love, how would that love be expressed?

When the image of Blair, bare chested and sweating, popped into his head, Slick almost drove off the road. A hard-on was his companion on the rest of the trip, the vivid image of Blair on the roof firmly reminding him with every mile. It was a long drive home.

***

Week #6-Tuesday

Checking his watch again, Blair sighed. For once, he was caught up with his grading and paperwork and could go home. Yet, here he was. He looked over at the half full coffee pot and sighed again. Then he heard it, the familiar sound of a cleaning cart being pushed up the hallway.

Jim tapped on Blair’s door and then let himself in.

They both stared for a long minute. Heat washed over both of them, memories becoming vivid once again.

“Trash?”

“Coffee?” They spoke at the same time.

Smiling, Blair stood and poured two cups of coffee while Jim emptied the trash can. Waiting until Jim set the can back down, Blair then handed him the mug.

“Thanks.”

They sipped their coffee, still standing, tension filling the small office.

“I—”

“I—” The both started at the same time.

Gesturing, Jim said, “Go ahead.”

“I, um, I just wanted to thank you for watering my plants while I was gone.”

“How’d you...”

“Well, they usually wilt a whole lot, so when I noticed they hadn’t, I assumed...”

“Yeah.”

Blair nodded. Jim’s defensive posture was making him nervous and unsure.

“Well, I—”

“I thought—” Laughing, Blair continued, “Third time’s charm. So, Jim, I was thinking, how about I buy you a drink after work. You know, a thank you for saving my plants. What do you say?”

Setting the coffee mug on the edge of Blair’s desk, Jim circled the rim with his index finger.

“It was nothing,” he said, not meeting Blair’s eyes.   “Anyway, I need to get back to work.”

“Oh, okay,” Blair said disappointed.

Turning, Jim slipped out the door, closing it as silently as a heart breaking.

***

Blair sat in the darkness of his loft, wishing he were more of a drinker. A half empty glass of rum and coke sat on the coffee table, probably leaving a ring as the ice melted and condensation rolled down the sides. He wished he could just get drunk and wake up forgetting this whole situation. But that would mean he’d have to forget Jim, and how could he possibly do that when he was in love with him?

There, he’d admitted it. Like it mattered one way or the other, obviously Jim wasn’t interested. But something had happened between them on the roof. Something had passed between them. Something...

The phone’s ringing startled him.

“Hello?”

“Blair, sweetie, how are you?” Naomi asked.   “I’ve been getting the strangest vibe all day today, and I just knew it had something to do with you. Did you talk to that man of yours?”

“He’s not ‘my man’, Naomi.”

“It didn’t go well, I take it.”

“It didn’t go at all. Before I got the chance to talk to him.…” Blair filled his mom in on the events of the past two days, including Jim’s reactions. They talked for a solid hour, Naomi offering the one thing she was definitely good at, listening, and then offering advice about the other thing she was good at, seducing men.

She’d reasoned with Blair, assuring him that Jim’s reactions were more of a man scared than of a man who wasn’t interested, pointing at the erection and the interest as clear signs that he was attracted to Blair. The running and inability to meet Blair’s eyes were obvious signs that Jim was afraid of what was happening.

“Sweetie, he’s been straight his whole life, and you’ve thrown him a loop ball.”

“A curve ball,” Blair corrected, smiling.   “Maybe, but how do I—”

“You’ll know. Blair, you have an amazing gift of knowing what people around you need.   Just be yourself. Don’t change how you interact with him, show him that you’re the same person you’ve always been. His friend. And when he’s ready, he’ll come to you.”

“Are you sure, Mom?” Blair sounded so young and needy, it pulled at her heart.

“Blair Sandburg, he’d be a fool not to love you,” Naomi said sincerely. “And if he hurts you, I’m gonna come up there and knock some sense into him!”

Laughing, Blair answered, “And I’ll hold him down for you.”

They hung up a few minutes later, and Blair felt better than he had all day. He was just gonna be himself, and Jim was gonna come to him. He hoped.

***

Slick made the phone call before he left the university; he was expected.

He pulled into the driveway behind the Lincoln, shutting down his bike. The front porch light was on, as were the lights in the living room.

Standing in front of the door, Slick didn’t know whether to knock or just let himself in. The decision was taken out of his hands when his dad opened the door.

“Jimmy, I thought I heard your bike.”

“Dad.”

Taking off his leather coat, Slick hung it on the antique hall tree that had been in the foyer for as long as he could remember.   Looking around, he noticed that not much had changed. The wallpaper was new, but still in a very subdued pattern. He followed his dad into the study.

Standing at the bar, William Ellison asked, “Drink?   Whiskey okay?”

“Sure.”

Taking the drink from his dad’s outstretched hand, Slick sat down in one of the matching leather chairs by the fireplace.

After a few minutes, William said, “Happy birthday, son.”

“Thanks.”

They sipped at their drinks in silence.

“So, I guess you’re still riding around with those hoodlums?”

Sighing, Slick set his glass down. “Yes.” It never changed, and he wondered why he even bothered to care after all these years.

“Don’t you think I’ve paid enough?”

“Excuse me?” Slick said, standing up.

“Aren’t you done making me pay for pushing you?   With all the advantages you had growing up, I don’t know why you insist on throwing your future away.”

“It’s my future, not yours. I decide. I’m in control,” Slick’s voice continued to rise. “I’m not some little boy you can bully into doing things your way. This is my life! It’s who I am!”

“Oh, wonderful, Jimmy!” Sarcasm dripped from every syllable. “Just what I wanted for a son, a biker thug!”

Stomping towards the door, Slick stopped, dropping one last bomb on his father.

“Then you’re gonna love this, I’m gay,” he said, watching his father’s face fall. “And the name's Slick.”

Grabbing his coat, he left, slamming the door behind him.

***

Week #6-Wednesday

“Tracy, you are a doll!” Blair said, grinning from ear to ear as he turned to leave the Employee Records office.

“You won’t forget to ask Rob, will you?”

Turning back, Blair clasped her hand. “I’ll go ask him right now. I know he’s been wanting to ask you out forever, he just wanted to make sure you’d say yes.”

“Oh, I’ll say yes,” Tracy grinned.

“Bye,” Blair called, making a beeline for the Bursar’s office and Rob. He owed Tracy a big favor; she’d dug into the personnel files and let him skim Jim’s information. It was a total breach of faith, but all was fair in love and war, and this was definitely love.

After making sure Rob would ask Tracy out, Blair headed for the cafeteria in search of something special. Again the fates were smiling down on him as he carried his coveted prize back to his office. Now all he had to do was wait.

An unexpected meeting with another professor filled Blair’s afternoon, but his mind wasn’t completely in the meeting, and therefore he didn’t argue when he was handed a major proposal for funding to write. Just shrugging it off, Blair headed back to his office with a big smile on his face.

Around eight Blair made a fresh pot of coffee, using the special coffee his mother had sent, the one that had lured Jim in not so long ago, and then he sat down to wait, working on the proposal. It took longer this time for Jim to come knocking on his door, and it took all Blair’s willpower not to cheer out loud.

“Hey, Jim,” Blair said, smiling. “Want some coffee?”

Grinning at Blair’s obvious attempt to be coy, Jim played coy himself, saying, “Sure, if it’s not too much trouble.”

Since his announcement last night to his dad, Jim had given serious thought to what being gay would mean to him. His whole life was based on a male hierarchical system where things like homosexuality and different ethnicities were frowned upon.   Admitting and accepting this change in himself meant changing who he was completely. If the only thing Blair wanted was a sexual relationship, Jim didn’t think he’d be willing to take that chance, but in order to find out, he had to take the first step.

Sipping his coffee, Jim didn’t see Blair approach with his surprise.

“Happy birthday, Jim,” Blair said, holding out a chocolate frosted cupcake with a small white candle perched on top.

“Chief,” Jim started, but his voice broke. When had another person been this thoughtful?

“Make a wish and blow out the candle,” Blair encouraged.

Closing his eyes, Jim made the wish closest to his heart. Opening his eyes, he locked them on Blair’s, trying to convey his happiness. He cupped his hand around Blair’s, holding it steady so he could blow out the candle; his eyes never left Blair’s as the small flame went out, but the flame between them sparked to life, brighter than ever.

Pulling the candle out of the cupcake, Blair licked the frosting away, deliciously aware of Jim’s eyes following the movement of his tongue. Setting aside the cleaned candle, Blair tried to extricate his hand from under the cupcake so Jim could eat it, but Jim’s hand gripped him firmer.

“Want a bite, Chief?” Jim offered.

Smiling slowly, Blair nodded.

Jim took the cupcake in his other hand, reluctantly letting Blair’s hand go. He pulled the paper back from the edge and held it up to Blair’s mouth. Blair opened his mouth, trying to take a small bite, but Jim rubbed the frosted edge against Blair’s upper lip, spreading the frosting across it before allowing Blair to bite the moist cake. Using the pad of his thumb, Jim wiped the frosting from Blair’s lip, and then raised it to his own mouth, sucking the chocolate off, Blair’s eyes big as he watched.

They stood, eyes locked, weighing the situation for a while. Finally, Jim broke the gaze, bringing the cupcake up to his mouth, taking a big bite, and then offered the last bite to Blair, who took it with a smile.   Grinning like idiots at each other, they reached for their coffee mugs to wash the treat down.

Sitting down, Jim said, “Thanks. It was a nice surprise.”

“There’s more,” Blair said, setting his mug back down.   “I noticed that you have hole in your ear, but you don’t wear an earring, so,” Blair unhooked the hoop with the aquamarine bead and pulled it out of his ear, “this is for you.”

“No, I couldn’t...” Jim protested.

Shaking his head, Blair wouldn’t take no for an answer. “You can’t refuse a gift, Jim.   And it’s your birthstone.”

Stepping between Jim’s legs, Blair leaned close, easing the earring in the seldom used hole, closing it firmly.

Pulling back, Blair left his hand on Jim’s shoulder, saying softly, “Aquamarine’s promote clarity of mind.”

“Thank you, Blair,” Jim said, eyes shining.

“You’re welcome, Jim.”

They shared another cup of coffee before Jim had to return to his work, but it was like old times, and they both left work that night smiling.

***

Blair came home whistling. Dropping his backpack and the mail on the table, he headed for the stereo, needing some music to match his mood; he chose one of Bonnie Raitt’s newer CDs.

Coming back to the table, Blair looked through his mail. Just some bills and a postcard from an old friend who was on an expedition in Chile. He saw the answering machine light blinking, so he hit it as he went to the fridge for a beer.

“Dr. Sandburg, this is Bruce. The part for your car came in, so if you could give me a call at 555-2090. I’m here until 6 o’clock.”

It was well after six, but Blair made a note of the phone number so he could call tomorrow. His car was running better, but once the new part was in, it would be purring like a kitten.

“Hi Blair, it’s Tracy. I just got home from my date with Rob. Thank you so much!”

Score one for matchmaker Sandburg.

Blair settled at the table, working on his proposal until his eyes burned from the strain. He checked to make sure the door was locked and then went up to bed.   Once in bed, he was unable to sleep even though he was tired. He knew it was the excitement of the day clinging to him; it had been a great day, and he couldn’t wait to wake up and find out what the next would bring.

Reaching under his bed, Blair slid a box out.   Inside was his most treasured possession, _The Sentinels of Paraguay_ by Sir Richard Burton. It had been the basis of most of his studies while a graduate student. He’d always hoped to find a real Sentinel, but instead had based his dissertation on case studies of people with one or two heightened senses.

He carefully lifted the book out of its box, and began reading it again, even though he had memorized much of the text.   Eventually, he fell asleep, the book pulled tight to his chest, comforting.

***

The Panteras were partying when Slick pulled up in front of the clubhouse. He greeted several members standing outside, as he made his way inside. The air reeked of pot and cigarette smoke, beer and heavier alcohol. It was a full service party, Slick noted, seeing many familiar whores working the members.

Grabbing a beer, Slick slipped out the back door.   The party hadn’t spilled to the back yet, and Slick hoped it wouldn’t for a while. It was a mild night and the sky was clear. Sitting on the back steps, he sipped his beer and thought about the day, unconsciously stroking his new earring.

Blair had looked so cute with chocolate frosting smeared across his top lip, and the impulse to lick it away had been strong, but as calm as he’d appeared on the outside, Slick had still been worried about what a relationship with a man would be like. How would they fit together?

Mind absorbed with the mental images, Slick didn’t hear the approach of his initiate.

“Slick, my man!” Brando called to him, slapping him on the back. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Tell you?”

“That it was your birthday. Here.” Brando handed him a nickel bag. “Smoke it in good health.”

“Thanks.”

“You coming back in?” Brando asked, hand on the door.

“Yeah, I’ll be in soon.”

“Cool.”

Examining the baggie, Slick tried to remember the last time he’d rolled a joint, but the best he could come up with was sometime before spring break. ‘Interesting,’ Slick observed. He’d been using pot to dull his senses ever since the week his bike had broken on an old logging road he’d thought was a short cut. He’d tried to walk out, but had twisted his ankle and was forced to camp out and make due with the few provisions he had with him. His rescue had come five days later and ever since then, his senses had been virtually uncontrollable. He’d tried pot and found that it dulled his senses, making it possible for him to continue to function.

Opening the baggie, he dumped the weed out, scattering it in the bushes next to the stairs. He didn’t need it any longer, but couldn’t figure out why.

A yell from inside drew his attention. He finished his beer and headed inside. He had obligations.

***

Week #6-Thursday

Hanging up the phone, Blair sighed heavily. He had just gotten off the phone with Bruce about his ‘Vair; they had been extremely busy and hadn’t completed the additional repairs on his car. Blair was happy that Bruce and the other mechanics at his shop were diligent, but it left him with no ride home, other than the bus. ‘I’ve done it before,’ Blair consoled himself, although he really hated riding the bus.

A gentle tap alerted him to Jim’s presence.

“Hey, Chief, something wrong?” He’d heard Blair’s heart beat speed up and come looking.

Quirking his eyebrows, Blair wondered how Jim had known.

“Nah, not really,” Blair said, lifting a pile of papers from one corner of his desk to the other. “I just gotta get out of here soon.”

“Oh?” Jim asked, not quite able to hide his disappointed look.

Smiling, Blair saw Jim’s look and heard the real question in the small word.

“Actually, I have to catch the bus, and the last express is at seven, otherwise I have to take the cross town and I have to transfer and it takes an extra hour and—”

“Breathe, Chief!”

Laughing, Blair took an exaggerated deep breath.

“How about I give you a ride home?” Jim offered.

“What?”

“If you can wait until my shift is over, anyway.”

“You and me on the bike?”

Studying Blair, Jim answered, “Yeah, unless that’s a problem.”

“N-no, that’s not a problem,” Blair said, his thoughts already on riding behind Jim on the Harley.

Jim could smell the desire coursing off Blair and wondered why he’d never noticed it before, but then maybe he’d been too drugged up to notice. Or maybe he just hadn’t wanted to notice, but he was noticing now. His body was reacting like Blair’s desire was a great body of water and he was a thirsty man; he was soaking it up, his cock growing harder with each swallow.

He could barely hear his own heartbeat over the thrumming of Blair’s heart, and unconsciously, Jim felt his heart change its rhythm to match until their hearts were beating in sync. Blair’s eyes, those deep dark pools of blue longing were drowning him, beckoning him closer; and he wanted to go, he had never wanted anything more in his entire life than to step closer, to feel the rapid heartbeat at the base of Blair’s throat, to further intoxicate himself in Blair’s every essence. He’d used his senses—sight, smell, hearing, to identify and caress Blair, and for the first time, Jim ached to touch and, heaven help him, taste.

They could have stood there for an hour, eyes locked, communicating on an unconscious level, but in reality, it was probably only a few minutes.

Finally recovering himself, Jim took a step back and Blair cleared his throat.

“Should I—”

“I should—” They spoke at the same time.

Smiling, Jim continued, “I should get back to work so we can get out of here early. I’ll come get you when I’m done, okay?”

“Okay,” Blair answered, watching Jim leave.

He turned back to his paper work but was unable to concentrate, his thoughts on the upcoming ride on Jim’s Harley.

It was less than three hours later when Jim let himself into Blair’s office. He’d cut a few corners but he didn’t want to make Blair wait until eleven to go home.

“Ready, Chief?”

Looking up, Blair smiled. “Ready.”

Zipping up his backpack, Blair stood, slipped his jacket on and threw the pack over his shoulder. Jim hit the lights and closed the door, waiting for Blair to lock it behind them. They took the stairs down, their footsteps echoing in the empty stairwell.

“Where do you live?” Jim asked his voice breaking the silence.

“Prospect Place, 852, near Colette’s Bakery.”

Jim nodded, knowing the area Blair was talking about.

At the bike, Jim turned and asked, “You ever ridden one before?”

“Not in a long time.”

“Just like riding a bicycle,” Jim said, swinging his leg over.

“Except this’ll hurt a lot worse if I fall off,” Blair mused.

“Just hold on tight and that won’t happen,” Jim advised, turning the key. Pushing the clutch, he kick started the bike.

Sliding his backpack over his other arm, Blair put his hand on Jim’s shoulder and threw his leg over the bike. Wrapping both arms around Jim’s chest, Blair slid infinitely closer. He thought he felt Jim tremble, but it might have been the bike, and then they were moving.

Jim handled the bike like a lover, knowing all of her tricks and teases. He pushed her to the limit, enjoying the feel of Blair pressed firmly against him.   Loose tendrils of Blair’s hair whipped around, caressing the skin above Jim's leather jacket, teasing him with a light herbal scent. He felt himself grow hard again, Blair’s nearness a powerful aphrodisiac.   Shifting his hips back, Jim felt an answering hardness, launching thousands of butterflies in the pit of his stomach.  

He wished their ride together could go on forever, but too soon they neared the old business district and he slowed. Blair lifted one hand from Jim’s chest and pointed in the general direction of Colette’s, and Jim saw Blair’s street number painted above the doorway.

Stopping, Jim stretched out his long legs, balancing the bike. He turned if off unhurriedly, drawing out the delightful pressure of Blair, hard, against his back. They sat like that for a long second, and then, regrettably, Blair threw his leg over the seat, his hand grasping Jim’s shoulder for support.

Standing on the curb, hand still on Jim’s shoulder, Blair smiled crookedly and said, “Thanks.”

The word breezed across Jim’s face, caressing him, drawing him in like a bee after pollen. Undeniable.

Leaning towards Blair, Jim’s eyes asked with their hopefulness, and Blair’s answered with their willingness. And then both closed their eyes and leaned in.

It was just the briefest touch of lips, a marriage of breaths and a soft sigh in parting. It rocked them to their core, igniting more possibilities than either had ever contemplated before. It was addictive and addicting, and they couldn’t resist an encore.

This time they lingered, pressing harder, opening their lips as they opened their hearts. Somehow Jim’s hand found it’s way to Blair’s face, his thumb caressing a silken eyebrow, and then they parted.

Huge smiles graced their faces, smiles that were from the heart, light and joyous.

“So, can I give you a ride?” Jim asked. “I mean, tomorrow. To school.”

Blair laughed at the innuendo, then answered, “Nah, you don’t have to. I can catch the express at seven.”

“But you don’t have classes until eleven.”

“How did you...” Blair said, letting his words trail off. “I can always do some extra work.”

Shrugging, Jim said, “You should get inside.”

Blair looked back at his building, saying, “Yeah, I guess.” He turned back to Jim, smiling.   “Thanks for everything.”

“My pleasure.”

Their grins widened.

“Mine, too,” Blair agreed. He took a step back, watching Jim start the bike up.

Waiting until Blair had entered the vestibule, Jim slowly drove home.

***

Blair swung his front door open, grinning from ear to ear. ‘Jim kissed me,’ sing-songed through his head. He couldn’t believe it had actually happened, he’d hoped and wished, but he’d never actually expected it to happen.   Delight tickled his insides, making him giggle. Slapping his hand over his lips, he tried to stifle the giggle, but it grew worse, he was so joyously happy. Throwing his head back, Blair gave in to the urge and laughed loudly.

“WOO-HOO!!” he yelled to the ceiling.

He sat for a long time, relishing the feelings inside him. Countless thoughts raced through his mind, wondering about their future and what tomorrow would bring.   He contemplated kissing Jim again, kissing him for a day, touching him.

His cock had taken an interest the moment he’d slipped onto the back of the bike and it hadn’t waned a bit. Thinking of Jim had only piqued its interests, driving his arousal higher until he could stand it no longer.

Stripping as he headed for the shower, Blair hummed softly to himself. He turned on the water, adjusted the temperature and got in. Squirting a healthy dollop of liquid soap into his hand, he worked up a good lather, soaping himself all over. His slick hands slid down his neck, over his peaked nipples, followed the line of hair down to dip into his belly button. He soaped his pubic hair, not touching his cock yet, teasing himself. Lifting his foot to the rim of the tub, Blair’s hands slid lower, soaping the dark crevice, his fingers pressing teasingly against his hole. His hands were promising delights his body ached to receive. Saving his cock for last, Blair cleaned it quickly, already too close to the edge to tease any longer.

Stepping out of the shower, he dried himself swiftly, thoughts of what he was going to do, making his hands shake in anticipation.   He grabbed a half empty tube of lube from the medicine cabinet and headed upstairs.

***

Miles away, Slick made his excuses to his friends, claiming tiredness, and climbed the stairs to his bedroom two at a time.   Shrugging out of his jacket, he tossed it on the table. Slick carefully sat in a chair, mindful of the erection that hadn’t abated since feeling Blair behind him on the hog; he needed some relief.

Slick pulled off his boots, then stood to pull his tee-shirt off over his head. Unbuttoning his pants, he left them hanging precariously on his hips as he slowly stroked his freed cock. ‘Blair kissed me,’ the thought rang through his lust hazed brain, and his cock showed its appreciation, pre-cum drooling out the slit.

Releasing his aching erection, Slick pushed his jeans the rest of the way down, stepping out of them as he sat back onto the bed.   Lying back against the headboard, he slowly let his hands trail down his chest, lightly skimming the sensitive surface.

***

Lying on his back, Blair teased his nipples, pinching lightly and pulling the nubs.

Wetting his finger, Slick circled one nipple while ghosting his other fingers down his torso.

Both of Blair’s hands carded through the hair on his chest, his fingers stroking his skin, edging further down with each pass.

Arching his back, Slick grasped his cock, stroking up and down ever so slowly.

Blair’s hands slid down his thighs, coming back up to cup his heavy balls with one hand, while the fingers of the other hand circled the head of his cock, thumb spreading the pre-cum.

Pulling his balls away from his body, Slick released them, his hand sliding down to that wonderfully sensitive place below the sac.

Blair pressed his fingers firmly against his perineum, a low moan breaking the silence.

Slick stroked his cock, fingers sliding further down, circling his hole.

Squeezing some lube onto his fingers, Blair eased a finger inside, spreading the slickness.

Clenching his cock tighter, orgasm so close, Slick pushed his fingers further inside himself, enjoying the tremors racking his body.

Fucking himself with his fingers, hand pumping his cock to the same rhythm, Blair felt the orgasm approaching with blinding speed.

Body tensed, hanging precariously on the edge, Slick thought about Blair.

Kissing Jim.

Kissing Blair.

And Blair was coming, hot spurts streaking across his chest, moaning Jim’s name.

And Slick was coming, hot spurts streaking across his chest, moaning Blair’s name.

It was bliss.

It was love.

***

Week #6-Friday

Blair got up earlier than usual, knowing he had to catch the bus at seven. He showered quickly, washing away the remains of his explosive fantasy about Jim the night before. His cock showed its interest in reliving the fantasy, but Blair didn’t have time, so he filed away the image and got ready to leave.

Locking the door behind him, Blair slipped his keys in his pocket and hefted his backpack over his shoulder. He took the stairs down, too energized to wait for the elevator. Opening the door to the street, Blair stopped cold. Jim was in exactly the same place as Blair had seen him last night, straddling the bike, smiling.

“Need a ride?”

Blair had to swallow twice before he had enough spit to answer. Jim was dressed in head to toe leather. His familiar leather jacket and gloves, but Jim had added black leather chaps. The only patch of color was where the chaps ended at Jim’s crotch, revealing faded jeans that clung to his defined package.

‘Oh, yeah, I want a ride,’ Blair thought to himself, licking his lips.

As if able to read Blair’s mind, Jim shifted, giving him a better view.

Smiling, Blair stepped closer. He studied Jim’s face, visually caressing his features, lingering on his lips. Blair wanted to kiss Jim again, but he wasn’t sure how he would feel about it in broad daylight. Taking the choice out of Blair’s hands, Jim reached out, grabbing Blair’s hand and drawing him closer.

“Good morning,” Jim said, and then pressed his soft lips to Blair’s.

Jim’s tongue peaked out for a taste, delicately licking at the seam of Blair’s lips, begging for permission. Moaning, Blair opened to the tender teasing. Their tongues touched, mated, circled and withdrew.  

Holding on to Jim’s arm for support, Blair said, “Wow!”

Grinning, Jim asked again, “So, need a ride this morning, Chief?”

“Yeah,” Blair said, climbing on the bike like it was his every day routine.

The ride to the university was short, but by the time they got there, Blair had made a decision. He waited until Jim had parked, silencing the Harley, and they had both gotten off.

“What do you think about playing hooky today?”

Jim cocked his head, asking, “Do you think that’s a good idea, professor?”

Pretending to weigh the options, Blair said, “Teaching all day or playing around, hmm, which would I rather do?”

He couldn’t help it, Jim laughed. “So, what are we gonna do today?”

Blair left Jim at the bike, rushing up to his office, hastily scribbling a note for the department secretary notifying her of his absence and then he headed up to the classroom he normally taught in, taping a ‘Class Cancelled’ notice on the door. He was back to Jim in less than ten minutes.

Deciding to grab some breakfast and talk about the rest of the day, they picked a small diner near the university. Over breakfast, Jim learned that Blair didn’t eat pork products and that he preferred fruit topping on his pancakes rather than syrup. Blair learned that Jim liked his eggs scrambled and his hash browns crispy.   When the bill came, they each insisted on paying, but the waitress came to their rescue, splitting the bill.   She got a thirty percent tip.

They climbed back on Jim’s bike and headed over to the garage to check on Blair’s car. Bruce promised to have the car ready for pick up by closing, and when Jim asked, Bruce agreed to drop the car off at Blair’s loft. Blair paid his bill, and they were off again.

Jim drove with no destination in mind, just enjoying the feel of Blair holding on to him. Eventually, Jim turned into a quiet park that was virtually deserted in the morning hours. He parked near a picnic table, and they climbed off. They walked and talked, sharing pieces of the their pasts. Near lunch time, the park started getting crowded, so they headed out.

Jim hadn’t been to a movie in years and had no idea what was playing, but Blair insisted, and confronted with that doe-eyed look, Jim was helpless to say no. They bought popcorn and nachos and candy and huge sodas; they acted like teenagers, desperately in love, enjoying just being together. While the movie was a predictable shoot ‘em up, somewhere during the middle, munchies shoved aside, they held hands, and neither could have told how the movie ended.

It was late afternoon when the movie let out, and after a quick stop in the restrooms, Jim’s attention was drawn to the small arcade attached to the theater. They raced boats against each other, playing several times, both winning and losing.   Finally, worn out, they left the theater.

Jim drove them back towards Blair’s loft along the riverfront. They stopped at an outdoor market and walked around, looking at all the kiosks and food for sale. Blair turned to him then, asking if Jim would like to have dinner at his place and Jim agreed, wanting that more than he could even say. Blair made a few purchases for dinner, and then they headed to the loft.

Blair’s car was already parked out front, and an envelope had been slipped into his mailbox along with the keys. Jim helped Blair juggle the bags and the mail as he unlocked the front door.

“Welcome to Casa de Blair.”

Setting the bags on the counter, Jim looked around.   The loft was pretty much how Blair had described it, colorful, cluttered, homey. Very Blair.

“Can I help?” Jim asked, seeing Blair putting way the purchases.

“Nope, I’ve got it,” Blair said. “Can I get you a beer?”

“Nah, I’m good.”

Jim ambled around the living room, looking at the various pictures in frames, the books on Blair’s shelves, the CDs in his collection.   The background noise of Blair working in the kitchen was comforting and soothing. Jim felt very comfortable.

“Pick some music,” Blair called.

Flipping on the stereo, Jim tuned it until he came across an oldies station and left it there.

“Mind if I get comfortable?” he asked Blair.

“Go ahead.”

Slipping off his leather jacket, Jim hung it on the back of a kitchen chair. Then, he unbuckled and unzipped his chaps, sliding them down his long legs.   Looking up, he saw Blair staring at him, his hand paused in midair. Jim smiled, enjoying the feel of Blair’s eyes on him.

“So, what’s for dinner?”

“Huh?” Blair asked, swallowing. “What? Oh, spinach lasagna. That okay?”

“Sure, sounds good.”

Jim sat on one of the bar stools, watching Blair cook.   He offered to help again when Blair took out the makings for a salad, but Blair declined again, wanting to cook the whole meal himself. Blair did offer Jim a bottle of wine to open while he added garlic bread to the oven, and then Jim set the table for them. Eventually, everything was ready and they were sitting down to eat.

“Looks really great, Chief. Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome. I hope you like it.”

Knowing that Blair could have offered him plain rice and he would have enjoyed it, Jim dug into the delicious home cooked dinner, relishing every bite because it was made with tender loving care.

They did the dishes together, Blair washing while Jim dried. It was relaxed and peaceful, and neither man could remember a time they’d ever had so much fun having dinner with someone.

Taking their wine glasses to the couch, Blair lit some candles before settling back beside Jim, their hands joining.

“You know,” Blair said, gesturing to Jim’s leather wear, “you never told me your biker name. I mean, you have one, right?”

Smiling, Jim stroked his moustache, answering, “Slick.”

“Slick, as in...”

Jim cleared his throat. “When I first started hanging around with the Panteras, they said I was really ‘slick’ with the ladies. It stuck.”

“Oh.”

“But that was a long time ago,” Jim clarified, lifting Blair’s chin. “And it’s been at least three weeks since I’ve been with anybody.”

Blue eyes flashed up, surprised. “Really?” Jim nodded. “It’s been about that for me, too.”

Squeezing their hands together again, they scooted closer, letting the music surround them. Blair reached for his wine glass, but Jim lifted his to Blair’s lips, watching him sip the red wine. They sat together, enjoying being together, not needing to say a word. And then Jim leaned over and kissed Blair’s temple.

Turning his head, Blair kissed the side of Jim’s jaw, and kept kissing, moving slowly to those lips he’d dreamed about. Then they were kissing, simple, chaste kisses at first, building in intensity with every taste. And then it wasn’t enough. Opening their mouths, shy, hesitant tongues met across a plain of love and tenderness. They learned the contour and taste of each other’s mouths; they learned what each other liked and strived to please.

And when that was no longer enough, they moved on.   Tongues and teeth sought out sensitive spots on their necks, and hands released so they could feel as well.   Jim wrapped his hands in Blair’s tantalizing curls, letting their softness envelop him. Caressing Jim’s short hair, Blair slid his fingers inside the neck of Jim’s tee-shirt, feeling the muscles move under his touch.

One trembled or maybe both, and the candle sputtered out.

Jim sat up, realizing he’d been practically lying on top of Blair, their bodies fitting together so perfectly. Blair followed him up, lips puffy, face flushed.   They’d been making out for over an hour.

Reaching for his wine glass, Jim found it empty.   Smiling, Blair handed Jim his half full one. Standing, Blair took the empty glass to the kitchen and then detoured into the bathroom, relieving himself, although his half-hard dick wanted to come out and play. ‘Later,’ Blair promised.

He returned to find Jim strapping on his chaps.

“It’s getting kinda late, Chief.”

“Yeah,” Blair said, disappointed.

Sliding the jacket over his shoulders, Jim moved to where Blair seemed to have taken root.

“Thank you for today,” Jim said, kissing Blair softly. “I had a great time.”

Smiling, Blair nodded. “Me, too.”

They linked hands, Jim walking towards the door, Blair following slowly.

Standing in the doorway, they kissed once again.   It was a kiss full of promise and passion and left no doubt in either’s mind how much they were wanted.

With a final smile, Jim walked away, going back to Slick, but Blair knew Jim would be back.

***

Closing the door, Blair leaned against it, fingers unconsciously trailing over his kiss swollen lips. He felt like he could fly.

Grinning, he grabbed the cordless phone, dialing Naomi’s new number from memory.

“Hello?” she said.

“He kissed me,” Blair said with no preliminaries.

“Oh, Sweetie, that’s wonderful!”

“And we made out on the couch tonight,” Blair continued, the words pouring out of him.

“Tell me everything!”

They talked for a long time, laughing, hoping.   It was a great end to a fabulous day.

***

Easing his bike into its parking spot, Slick saw Brando and a couple of other members sitting on the front steps.

“Slick!” Brando yelled.

Deciding to socialize, he shook hands with a couple of them, accepting the beer that was offered.

“What’s going on, guys?” he asked, taking a long pull from the cold beer.

“Nada, man,” Brando answered.

They sat around, shooting the shit, talking bikes and the run to San Francisco. It was like usual times. Several other members came outside, including Preacher.

And then a man came out of the convenience store across the street. He was very thin, fragile looking.

“Hey! It’s that fag,” one of the Panteras yelled, pointing.

Several members made other rude comments, from downright lewd to raunchy. The discussion about faggots continued for several minutes, a couple of members talking about how fags should be killed; it was too much for Slick to take.   Dumping his beer bottle in the trash, he went inside and up to his room.

He tried to relax, to let their hateful words go, but every time he closed his eyes, he pictured his friends standing over him, beating the hell out of him for being a faggot. He got little sleep that night.

***

Week #7-Monday

“Son of a...” The cry pierced the silence of Hargrove Hall.

Jim took off at a full run, knowing that voice like he knew his own. He could hear Blair’s heart pounding as he drew closer.

The office door slammed back against the wall, and Blair’s head whipped around, startled by the noise.

“What? What is it?” Jim asked, rushing to Blair’s side near a bookshelf.

“What what?” Blair asked, confused.

“What happened? Are you hurt?”

“Hurt? No.   Why?”

“I heard...” Jim stopped, afraid of revealing too much of his secret. “I thought I heard something.”

Squinting his eyes, Blair studied Jim. “You did hear me, didn’t you?”

“What? No,” Jim said, shaking his head. “I didn’t hear anything.”

Realizing Jim was clamming up, Blair went at him from a different angle. “Did I ever tell you what my doctorate thesis was about?”

Perplexed by the sudden change in conversation, Jim bit, shaking his head. “No.”

“It was about people with heightened senses.   Like hearing,” Blair said, his brain cycling up, remembering past experiences with Jim. “Like smell. And touch.”

“And sight and taste,” Jim finished.

“Oh man, how did I miss it?” Blair asked. “Which senses, Jim?”

Shaking his head, Jim tried to deny his gifts as he always did.

“Tell me!” Blair demanded.

Sighing, Jim lowered his head, defeat in every muscle.   His secret would be revealed and Blair would think of him as a freak. ‘Freak,’ his father’s voice echoed in his head.

“All of them.”

Blair’s hand covered his mouth, shock, amazement, disbelief and acceptance. His emotions ran across his features like a movie against a screen.

“The music.” Jim nodded. “The coffee.” Another nod. “What else, Jim?”

“The roof.” Blair looked questioningly at him. “The suntan lotion, sweat, you.”

“Everything, Jim, tell me everything.”

Looking at Blair in astonishment, Jim could only smile.

“What?”

“Nothing, I just...” Impetuously, Jim pulled Blair into his arms, kissing him deeply.

Blair went willingly, enjoying Jim’s spontaneous display of affection. Their tongues twirled together, playing, until Jim broke the kiss.

“You’re something, Chief.”

“Something good?”

“Something wonderful.”

They kissed again, slower this time. Jim sucked on Blair’s lower lip, then finally released him. Blair wobbled a bit and Jim kept his arms safely around him.

Looking up into Jim’s fathomless blue eyes, Blair said, “And don’t think that kiss made me forget your senses. Tell me everything.”

They sat down then, right there on the floor by the bookshelves, and Jim talked, not leaving anything out. At one point, Blair grabbed a notebook and took notes.   Even later, Jim made coffee and brought the mugs back to their spot on the floor. They talked for hours.

Jim didn’t finish his work that night, and neither did Blair.

***

It was especially late when Blair got home, but he was still too excited to sleep. His life’s dream, to find a Sentinel, and he’d found it in the man he was falling in love with. It was incredible the way things worked out.

Upstairs, Blair pulled out the special box he stored the monograph in. He wanted Jim to see it, read it. He took it downstairs, setting it on the table, then sat down himself, flipping open the book. Pulling his backpack over, Blair dug out the notes he’d made of Jim’s experiences.

Much later, he made a pot of tea, too interested in studying to notice the passing hours. Eventually, Blair fell asleep on the couch with a smile on his face. His dreams were all coming true.

***

The clubhouse was quiet when Slick returned.   There were a couple of guys playing pool, but most had gone home or upstairs to sleep, which suited him just fine.

Upstairs, Jim shrugged out of his clothes and fell into bed.

He still couldn’t believe Blair’s reaction to his senses. ‘What did Blair call me?   A Sentinel. Shit, I don’t know exactly what that means, but it sure feels better than being called a freak.’

Laughing to himself, Slick contemplated calling his father at this ungodly hour to tell him he wasn’t a freak, but the more rational side of him knew that it didn’t matter what it was called, William Ellison would still consider his son a freak of nature because he wasn’t normal, wasn’t like everyone else. And then Blair’s words came back to him, ‘you’re special, man. A precious gem,’ and all thoughts of anything other than Blair faded away.

The man he was falling in love with didn’t think he was a freak. Slick fell asleep thinking about Blair.

***

Week #7-Tuesday

Jim came into work early, making up for the time he missed the day before. At one point, he passed Blair in a crowded hallway. Blair had been wrapped up in a conversation, but the smile he sent Jim’s way had been burning. It fueled Jim’s fire to finish his work early; he wanted so much to hold Blair again, touch him, kiss him.

Around eight o’clock, Jim couldn’t stand it any longer and went to Blair’s office. Blair was grading essays when Jim opened the door, letting himself in without knocking.

“Hey,” Blair said, looking up and smiling.

“Hey, yourself.”

Jim closed the distance between them, bracing his hands on the edge of Blair’s desk and leaning over. Their lips met in a soft kiss.

“Been wanting to do that all day,” Jim said, stepping back and sitting across from Blair.

Blair smiled. “Glad you gave in.”

Looking around, Jim asked, “You gonna be able to get out of here anytime soon?”

“Yeah, I could, “ Blair said, teasing, “if you make me the right kind of offer.”

“Dinner?”

“Give me ten minutes to wrap this up, and I’m all yours.”

“Meet you at my bike?”

“Deal.”

Ten long minutes later they were standing at Jim’s bike trying to decide where to go for dinner.

“Why don’t we go back to my place and order in?” Blair offered.

Swallowing loudly, Jim could only nod in agreement.   He watched Blair walk to his car and start the ‘Vair up. ‘Sure sounds good,’ Jim thought, about both the proposition of going to Blair’s and the car’s engine.

Jim sat at the kitchen table watching Blair dig though his junk drawer, looking for delivery menus.

“Ah-ha, here’s one for subs. Um, there’s always pizza, I guess.”

Laughing, Jim asked, “Don’t you like pizza, Chief?”

Looking over his shoulder at Jim, Blair answered, “Actually, I prefer mine. Less fat, better taste.”

“Another hidden talent?” Jim asked.

“I’ve got talents you haven’t—” Blair stopped, waving around a flyer. “Found it!   The best Chinese.”

Snagging the menu, Jim caught Blair in his arms as he spun around.

“Aren’t you hungry?” Blair whispered huskily.

“Starving.”

They had become masters at kissing one another, had quickly learned what the other liked best, what got them the hottest, and they used this skill as a weapon. Holding each other, they let hands explore. Jim learned the contour of Blair’s back, the dip at his waist, the way Blair shivered when Jim traced the line of his spine. Blair’s hands memorized the muscles of Jim’s shoulders, the way they bunched under his hands.

Breaking off their kiss, Blair let his hands caress Jim’s sides, moving slowly up his chest, then ghosting over hardening nipples.

“Oh,” Jim moaned.

“Do you like that?” Blair whispered.

“Yes.”

Mindful of Jim’s sensitivity, Blair lightly pinched the nipples. Jim moaned again, louder, his hips thrusting against Blair’s body.

“Come here, baby,” Blair said, leading Jim to the couch.

Straddling Jim’s hips, Blair rained kisses across Jim’s forehead and eyelids, his tongue tasting alternately. He licked the rim of Jim’s ear, nipping the lobe, then moved to the pierced one where the aquamarine still hung. He sucked briefly on the lobe, ring and all, while Jim’s hips jumped, their erections brushing through two heavy layers of denim.  

“Oh, god,” Jim moaned.

Scooting further down Jim’s magnificent body, Blair grazed his teeth along Jim’s jaw, licking the Adam’s apple. He sucked for a moment on Jim’s collar bone and then nipped it gently.

Blair’s hands trailed down Jim’s chest, slowly pulling the tee-shirt out of the his jeans. He pushed the shirt up, until Jim sat up and pulled it off over his head, tossing it away. Fingers tickling their way back up Jim’s chest, they stopped to torment the hard nipples. Leaning over, Blair licked one nipple.

“Please...”

“Please what?” Blair asked, teasing as he licked the other bud.

“Touch me.”

“You want me to touch your cock, Jim? You want me to suck you?”

“Yes,” Jim moaned pitifully, tossing his head back.

Sitting up, Blair commanded, “Look at me, Jim.”   Waiting until he had Jim’s total attention, then Blair continued, “Anything you want. Anything.”

Lowering his head back to Jim’s chest, Blair licked each nipple again before moving further down. Sliding off Jim’s legs, Blair knelt between Jim’s outspread knees, his tongue painting a path across the muscled abs, loving Jim’s bare skin with his mouth.

Fingers resting on the belt buckle, Blair looked up into Jim’s eyes.

“Touch me, suck me, anything, Blair.”

He made quick work of the belt, unbuttoning and unzipping Jim’s jeans. Jim lifted his hips to help Blair ease the jeans down some, freeing his aching erection.   Blair fisted the impressive cock, stroking it slowly, watching Jim’s expressive face.

“I’m gonna suck your cock, Jim. I’m gonna make you come.”

Jim thrust up into Blair’s hand, effectively fucking himself in Blair’s fist, until Blair released Jim’s iron hard cock.

“Blair...”

“Hold on.”

Jim gripped the back of the couch just as Blair lowered his head, opened his mouth and consumed Jim’s cock. Jim’s flavor exploded all across Blair’s tongue.

Blair used his hands to hold Jim’s hips down, as he tried to swallow the thick cock. Easing off, Blair nursed the head, releasing one hip so he could wrap his hand around the base of Jim’s cock. Blair licked at the slit, tasting the pre-cum. He flicked his tongue against the back of the head, watching Jim’s whole body shake as he neared completion.

Letting go of Jim’s other hip, Blair cradled Jim’s balls, a single finger rubbing against the smooth, sensitive spot behind Jim’s balls, while he stroked and sucked. Jim’s orgasm struck like lightening, blinding and fierce. His whole body trembled as Blair manipulated him like a master.

Slowing his movements, Blair let Jim’s cock fall out of his mouth, still half-hard. He lay his head on Jim’s thigh, trying not to think of how Jim looked at his moment of completion, face contorted in pleasure-pain, and how he looked now, replete in his afterglow.

Shaking his head, trying to clear the cobwebs, Jim grabbed Blair under his arms and pulled him up onto Jim’s lap, mindful of his sensitive cock still hanging out.

“Can I touch you?” Jim asked shyly.

Instead of answering, Blair relaxed in Jim’s arms, letting his legs drop apart, his chinos tented. Jim stroked over the material, feeling Blair’s heat and hardness.   Nimbly, Jim unbuttoned and unzipped Blair’s pants, snaking his hand inside, caressing Blair over the thin material of his boxers.

The heat was consuming, making Jim’s cock throb with renewed desire. Touching Blair was addictive, and Jim was like a junky needing another, a bigger dose of pure Blair.

Watching Blair’s face, Jim eased his hand into the boxers.

“Yes!” Blair groaned, turning his head into Jim’s neck, kissing him.

Having never touched another man’s cock, Jim wasn’t exactly sure what to do, but he’d practiced plenty with his own, so he slowly stroked the silky hot organ. Blair’s hips jittered recklessly, needing a firmer touch and his own release.   Gripping Blair’s cock harder, Jim stroked him with purpose, with the aching need to see Blair come, to make Blair come.

Moaning uncontrollably against Jim’s neck, Blair rode the crest of his orgasm, barely remembering not to scream so near Jim’s ear.   Then he shattered, coming as waves of pleasure racked his body. Jim clutched his limp body to his chest and eased his hand out from inside the sticky boxers. Come clung to his hand, and he raised it to his mouth to taste; he was compelled to taste. Blair’s come was bitter but not nasty, certainly something Jim decided that he could get used to tasting, already contemplating their next encounter.

Blair shuddered in his arms, and Jim looked down, nearly drowning in the emotion in his sapphire blue eyes. It was right on the tip of Blair’s tongue to declare his love, but he held back, deciding it wasn’t the time yet. Instead, he cuddled closer against Jim, soaking up his heat.

Some time later, Blair trembled in Jim’s arms, for cold unfortunately, instead of pleasure, and Jim was forced to release him.   They both stood, buckling up their pants, fixing their clothes, a touch of awkwardness between them.

Jim turned to Blair, cupping his face in both hands.

“Thank you, Blair,” Jim said. “I...this....” He couldn’t find words to express his feelings.

“It’s okay, Jim. I understand.”

Smiling, Jim softly kissed Blair, that gentle, lingering, meaningful kind of kiss.

Blair walked Jim to the door, holding his hand.

“See ya tomorrow,” Jim said, kissing Blair once more.

“Goodnight.”

Jim waited until Blair closed the door and he heard it lock behind him, before he headed downstairs and back to Seattle.

***

After locking the door, Blair went to the bathroom to clean himself up. He caught sight of his smiling reflection in the mirror and almost pinched himself to make sure that tonight hadn’t been a dream, but just in case it was, he decided to fantasize a little longer.

He let the water warm up before soaking the washcloth.   Swiping the damp cloth across his groin and belly, his cock hardened as he thought about Jim touching him so intimately. It had been an incredible night.

Turning out the bathroom lights, Blair headed upstairs to bed. He lay down under the heavy covers, still thinking about Jim. There was an unspoken agreement to take things slow, between them, and as much as Blair wished he’d asked Jim to stay, he knew that it was still too early in their relationship for that kind of step.

The phone rang softly beside him on the bedside table.   Thinking it might be Jim calling, Blair grabbed it quickly.

“Hello?”

“Blair baby!”

Sighing, Blair said, “What do you want, Chad?”

“What do you think I want?” His voice was slurred, Blair knew from the vodka he preferred to drink.

“I’m not coming to pick you up,” Blair said, firmly.

“Aw, come on. Don’t be like that.”

“Chad, I’m seeing someone.”

“So? That mean you can’t fuck me?”

“That’s exactly what it means,” Blair said.   “Get a cab, Chad. The Blair shuttle-and-fuck service is out of business.”

“Fine!” Chad spit into the phone. “But I’ll still be here long after he dumps your ass.”

Blair slammed the phone down.

Taking a deep breath, he tried to let it go.   ‘He’s just pissed that his fuck buddy doesn’t want him. He doesn’t have any idea what Jim and I have.’

Yet, even as sure as Blair wanted to be, he wished he knew exactly what Jim felt for him. His dreams were haunted by intermingled images of Jim transmuting into Chad and then back again. It was a long night.

***

Slick’s mind certainly wasn’t on driving as he headed back to Seattle. He could still smell Blair on his hand, and if he tried hard enough, he could pick up a residual hint of Blair’s semen on his lips.

He wasn’t ready to go back to the hangout, so he drove to the diner instead. Sitting in his customary corner booth, he ordered a Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes, remembering again why they had never gotten around to eating dinner.   Shifting to spread his legs, Slick rubbed his hand across his lips, tasting again Blair’s flavor, his cock growing hard within the confines of his tight denim. He though about Blair going down on him and wished he’d had enough nerve to reciprocate, but his inexperience had made him hold back.   ‘Next time,’ he promised himself, ‘next time I will.’

The waitress brought his food, and he dug in, starving, wondering if Blair had remembered to eat anything. ‘Well, besides me.’

He choked on a mouthful of mashed potatoes and had to grab his water glass, swallowing several times to clear his throat.   Deciding that thinking about Blair probably wasn’t conducive to his health at this point, Slick concentrated on his dinner, but his eyes still twinkled in amusement. He was a happy man.

***

Week-#7-Wednesday

“Don’t forget, I want your term paper ideas in my hands by next Wednesday,” Blair called to the class of mostly sophomores as they hurried out of his two o’clock class.

Packing up his texts, he didn’t hear Jim’s approach.

“Hey, Chief,” Jim said softly.

Looking up, Blair smiled widely. “Hi.”

“Can I walk you back to your office?” Jim asked.

“Sure.”

Blair mentally kicked himself and his one word answers, but Jim had never come into his classes before. And Jim offering to walk him back to his office very nearly made Blair melt into a puddle at Jim’s feet.

They walked side by side, not touching, looking more like two people heading in the same direction rather than two men walking together, but soon they were in Blair’s office, behind a closed door.

Blair dropped his backpack on the floor and was immediately pulled into Jim’s arms. Their lips met with a burning intensity, tongues dueling while their hands caressed any skin it could find, the small of Blair’s back under his polo shirt, the nape of Jim’s neck. Breaking for air, they pulled away, eyes locked. Looking around, they laughed nervously. It would be so easy to lose themselves in the moment, but Jim was a man with a purpose.

“You have any plans for tonight?” he asked.

“No.” Blair was back to one word answers.

“Would you go out with me?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah?” Jim said, pleased. “Should I pick you up at the loft?”

“Oh. Um, yeah,” Blair answered. “Where’re we going, anyway?”

“To meet a friend.”

“Okay.”

Jim started to leave, but then turned back, reaching into the pocket of his uniform pants.

“I, um, I got this for you,” Jim said, holding out a small red rose bud with a trembling hand.

It was a barely opened bud, new, fragile, like Jim’s love, and he was offering it to Blair, who accepted the gift and the feelings that went along with it.

“Thank you, Jim.”

“I just, it made me think of you.”

They smiled at each other, and then Blair stretched up and kissed Jim softly on the lips, stroking the rose bud against Jim’s cheek.

Parting, Jim asked again, “Seven at the loft?”

Blair nodded, not trusting himself to speak just yet.

Seeing the nod, Jim left, closing the door behind him.

***

Blair was nervous about meeting Jim’s friend. He was pretty sure it wasn’t a biker friend, but that thought only made him more nervous. He’d deliberated over what to wear for the last hour, changing his mind half a dozen times before deciding on a simple faded blue button down and black jeans.

Jim knocked on his door promptly at seven.   Opening the door, Blair was surprised to see him in a button down shirt instead of his usual tee-shirt, but he didn’t say anything. Grabbing his jacket, they headed downstairs.

By unspoken agreement, they mounted Jim’s bike and set off for their destination. Completely comfortable, Blair simply held on, enjoying the ride. He noticed they were heading into the suburbs and his nervousness faded some. Pulling into a driveway, Blair saw a little boy standing on the front steps, watching them.

After Jim turned the bike off, Blair heard the little boy shout.

“He’s here! With some man.”

Both Jim and Blair blushed.

Daryl ran over after they dismounted the bike.   “Hi Uncle Jim!”

“Hey Squirt,” Jim greeted him.

“Can I have a ride tonight?” Daryl asked.

“You know the answer to that.”

“Who’s he?” Daryl asked, pointing at Blair.

“Squirt, this is Blair. Blair, this is Squirt.”

“That’s not my name,” he said, turning to Blair offering his little hand. “I’m Daryl James Banks!”

“Nice to meet you, Daryl James Banks,” Blair said, shaking the outstretched hand. “I’m Blair Sandburg.”

“Don’t you got no middle name?”

“It’s ‘don’t you have a middle name’, young man,” a deep voice called from inside the front door.

Blair’s eyes widened as he watched Jim’s friend come out the door. The man was huge. And Blair though Jim was big.  

The man stepped closer and Blair had to look up to keep eye contact.

“Simon Banks,” he stretched out his hand, mimicking his son’s earlier action, and Blair saw where the little boy had learned such good manners. They shook hands.

“Blair Sandburg.”

Simon gestured for them to go into the house, Daryl leading the way.

“Dad’s making hamburgers tonight. He makes really good hamburgers,” Daryl assured Blair.

They ate dinner on the back porch, laughing and telling stories. Daryl, like some children, never forgot his unanswered question about Blair’s middle name, and amidst a chorus of promises, he revealed that his middle name was actually Moonbeam. Jim and Simon laughed, Jim nearly falling off the bench seat, while Daryl just looked at him, not understanding.

Eventually, they cleared the table. Jim and Blair doing the dishes and putting away the leftovers while Simon took a business call and Daryl took his bath. Afterwards, Daryl sat between Jim and Blair on the couch while they watched a special about cheetahs, and when it was time for bed, he hugged all three men before he went upstairs.

They sat around talking for a while longer, but it was getting late, and they all had to work the next day. Simon invited them back, the invitation open ended, and Blair found himself looking forward to returning.

Jim drove them home slowly, not wanting this perfect night to end. He wished they could just keep driving forever, but eventually they pulled up in front of Blair’s building. Turning off the Harley, they sat there, Blair’s arms still wrapped around Jim’s waist.

“Come up,” Blair mumbled into Jim’s back.

“I shouldn’t,” Jim sighed.

“Why not?”

“Because I want to, so much,” Jim admitted, naked emotion in his confession.

Blair shifted off the bike, straddling Jim’s outstretched leg, rubbing his erection against Jim’s thigh.

“I want that, too.”

Cupping Blair’s lightly stubbled cheek, Jim pulled Blair into a gentle kiss, then whispered, “Not yet. Okay?”

Looking deep into Jim’s eyes, Blair saw the longing, but also the shy man he cared for so much.

“Okay.”

Kissing Jim one last time, Blair stepped away, and then turned to go inside, knowing Jim wouldn’t drive away until he was safely home. Blair waved from inside the vestibule and then watched Jim drive away.

***

Blair was practically vibrating, he was so happy.   Meeting Jim’s best friend and seeing the way they interacted had been incredible. The tender way Jim hugged Daryl goodnight. The way he and Simon had laughed so heartily at Blair’s middle name. It was the first time Blair had ever seen Jim so relaxed and open. Even for all their closeness, there was a familiarity between Jim and Simon that made Blair a little jealous. He knew Jim wasn’t romantically interested in Simon, but they shared a past history that Blair and Jim didn’t. But they were well on their way to starting a future together. At least, Blair hoped Jim felt the same way.

Jim had never said anything to lead Blair to that conclusion, but every time they kissed, touched, there was so much more there than lust and desire. There was a connection, a meeting of two kindred souls. The fact that they came from two different worlds didn’t matter, and even though there might be hard times ahead, Blair knew that no matter how hard the road, he’d stand beside Jim.

***

Slick got back to the hangout while Preacher was discussing the actions of a new patch holder. The kid, Dingo, had been disrespectful to another patch holder’s old lady, and there was discussion about what action should be taken. Most members felt that Dingo should make amends and be warned. They finally voted on that option, and the meeting broke up.

Following Smokey and Shooter out back, Slick wondered what would happen to him if the Panteras ever found out about his relationship with Blair, but deep inside, he already knew that answer. He would be lucky to escape with his life. The Panteras would consider it a personal attack on Slick’s part, for lying to them, deceiving them. It wouldn’t matter to them that it was only Blair he felt this attraction for, lying to another patch holder was grounds for patch pulling; being a faggot among your brothers was grounds for termination.   Permanent termination.

Slick knew that if he pursued this relationship with Blair, and there was no way he wasn’t, he’d have to decide about leaving the Panteras. While they were the only home he’d known for over fifteen years, Slick could definitely see himself living with Blair in the loft. That thought stayed with him most of the night as he drank some beer with his buddies, enjoying the moment and letting all the other thoughts go. He knew he’d have to face reality soon enough, but for right now, he’d enjoy the moment.

***

Week #7-Thursday

Jim’s world was knocked on its axis when he saw Blair for the first time that day. Blair, his Blair, was walking with another man, and it wasn’t just any other man, it was that Paul guy, the one Jim had seen Blair kiss a few weeks ago.   They were walking towards Hargrove Hall when Jim caught sight of them.

His first instinct was anger and then rage. He trailed them, letting his nose follow the scent he’d come to recognize as Blair’s. There was another scent intermingled with it, the smell of lust.   Jim’s vision narrowed. Blair or Paul. Rational thought beat a hasty retreat.

He took the stairs up to the fourth floor, then paused at the top of the deserted stairwell, trying to calm his breath enough so he could try and hear what was going on in Blair’s office, but every time he tried to turn his hearing up, a crackle of static broke his concentration.   He had no idea what was going on in that office, but he was going to sure as hell find out.

Untucking and unbuttoning his work shirt, Jim slipped it off his shoulders, and clenched it in his left fist, leaving his right fist free just in case he needed to make a point. In his tank top, he flexed his muscles and pulled open the stairwell door.   Stalking to Blair’s office, Jim didn’t bother to knock when he came to the closed door.

“Jim!” Blair said, standing behind his desk, his eyes were wide, his heart pounding.

“Blair,” Jim said, ownership evident in the unusual usage of his given name.

Paul looked from Blair to Jim and back again.   “Do you mind? We were in the middle of something.”

Shifting away from the door, Jim answered, “No, I don’t mind at all. Go right ahead.”

Glaring at Jim, Paul put his hands on his hips, straightening to his full height, but Paul had nothing on Jim. Crossing his arms across his chest, Jim flexed his muscles and stared back, threat clear in the crystal blue of Jim’s eyes.

Successfully intimidated, Paul turned back to Blair.   “We’ll talk about this another time.”

Observing their whole confrontation and not quite sure what to feel, Blair shook his head, saying, “No, Paul. I don’t think—”

Jim interrupted, “What Blair means, is that this conversation is over, and he doesn’t want you sniffing around anymore.”   Jim took a menacing step closer.   “And neither do I.”

Taking a final look at Blair and not seeing him contradict the Neanderthal, Paul turned and left the office, slamming the door behind him.

“What the fuck was that?” Blair asked, his voice deadly calm.

“Just doing my job, Chief. Getting rid of the trash.”

“I didn’t ask you to do that.”

“You want me to get him back here for you?” Jim said, his voice raising. “Cause I can go drag his ass back in here if that’s what you want.”

“What I ‘want’,” Blair elucidated, “is to know why you just acted like a total asshole to a friend of mine.”

“Friend? That ‘friend’ was so hot for you, he could’ve burned a hole in the floor!”

“So? Why does that matter?”

Jim pinched his lips shut, clamming up.

“Huh? Tell me,” Blair said, rounding his desk, getting right into Jim’s face. “Why does it matter if someone else wants me?”

Growling, Jim grabbed Blair by the upper arms.   “Because I fucking don’t want anybody else touching you.”

Jim’s lips crushed Blair’s in a bruising, punishing kiss, a kiss of ownership. And Blair wanted to be owned, taken, possessed. Opening his mouth wider under Jim’s assault, Blair sucked on Jim’s tongue, showing his willingness and desire.

Moaning, Jim pulled away, holding a dazed Blair in his arms. “Blair...”

“Take me. Take me home.”

Nodding, Jim turned Blair towards the door, leaving behind his backpack and coat, only one thing on their minds. They were consumed with the need and it was building.

Downstairs in the parking lot, they headed towards Jim’s bike, but in their haste, he’d even forgotten his jacket and the early evening was too cool to be riding without. Blair dug in his pants pocket, and handed Jim his car keys.

The ‘Vair handled like a dream, but Jim was only vaguely aware of it. Blair’s hand was burning his thigh where it rested. Praying for divine intervention, Jim drove faster.

Arriving at Blair’s loft, Jim grabbed a hold of Blair’s hand and dragged him across the seat, unwilling to let him out of his grasp even for a second this close to fulfillment. The elevator, thankfully, was on the ground floor, and they rode up in silence.

Jim unlocked the loft door with shaking hands.   Once inside, he hesitated, but Blair knew what he needed, what they both needed. Gripping Jim’s hand, Blair led them upstairs.

Standing face to face, Blair pulled his shirt off, tossing it aside. He kicked his shoes off, unbuttoned his pants, and watching Jim’s eyes, unzipped, letting them slide to the floor. Boxers temptingly tented, Blair paused, waiting for Jim to make a move.

His heartbeat throbbing in his ears, Jim leaned against the brick wall, and pulled off his boots. Straightening, he reached behind his head and pulled the tank top off with one hand and dropped it. He unbuttoned his jeans, each button sliding soundlessly through the worn hole, and he let go of the denim, stepping out of it as it hit the floor; he never wore underwear.

Stepping to Blair, bodies straining to touch, Jim’s fingers skimmed over Blair’s shoulders and down his arms, catching the edge of his boxers, pulling them down slowly. They hung for a second on Blair’s hard cock, but finally gave, revealing Blair to Jim’s hungry eyes.

Gripping Blair’s hips, Jim guided them to the bed, pushing Blair onto it, and then kneeling on the floor between Blair’s thighs.   Wide eyed, Blair could only watch with anticipation as Jim leaned down and licked the crown of his cock, tasting the pre-cum.

“Oh...” he moaned.

The flavor was so much stronger than last time, Jim noticed. Addictive. Wrapping his hand around Blair’s cock, Jim stroked, drawing another moan from Blair’s parted lips.

Sucking in the ruddy head, Jim suckled with abandon, then released the head, running his tongue up and down the hard shaft.   Licking the underside, he felt Blair’s balls against his chin, and teased their hairy surface with the end of his tongue.

Blair tossed his head back and forth, completely lost in the sensations Jim was sparking in him. He needed more, so much more, but he couldn’t verbalize his thoughts at this point, so he simply spread his legs in wild abandon, hoping Jim would understand.

Blair’s spread legs were all the encouragement Jim needed. His tongue dipped lower, tasting the smooth skin under Blair’s balls, the place he touched himself that drove him crazy, and Blair’s reaction was startling similar.

“Please...” Blair moaned.

Sliding up Blair’s body, Jim kissed him again.   Blair tasted himself on Jim’s tongue and it fueled his desire, ratcheting it up higher. Reaching out to stroke Jim’s dick, Blair’s hand was stopped in mid-stroke.

“No, too close,” Jim groaned.

Understanding, Blair requested, “Love me.”

Whispering against Blair’s throat, Jim answered the only way he could, “Yes.”

Nudging Jim off, Blair sat up, digging in his bedside table drawer for the lube. Handing it back to Jim, Blair rolled over onto his stomach, raising his hips and spreading his legs in invitation.

Grabbing his cock, Jim squeezed, praying for control.   Slipping between Blair’s spread knees, Jim caressed Blair’s back, sliding his hands up and down, feeling the burning hot flesh, stoking their desires higher with each pass. He let his fingertips dip into the dark crevice, gently stroking the wrinkled skin.

Leaning down, Jim kissed the base of Blair’s spine at the top of the crack of his ass, then slowly dragged his tongue down, licking over Blair’s hole, feeling it contract under his loving. Blair’s moans grew markedly louder, so Jim did it again, with more force, pushing against the opening. Reaching between Blair’s legs, Jim stroked Blair’s cock, feeling the fluid dribbling out the slit and down the throbbing length.   Releasing Blair’s cock, Jim reached for the lube.

He knew the basics of anal sex, having performed this act on a woman years ago, so he squeezed out a generous dollop of lube onto his fingers, and then eased them in, spreading the lube.

Blair was scalding hot around his fingers, clenching and unclenching, as Jim lovingly prepared him. It didn’t take long for Blair, who was used to penetrating his own body, to relax his anal muscles, moving back on Jim’s questing fingers, trying to nonverbally hint to Jim that he was ready for more.

It was everything Jim could do not to withdraw his happy fingers and slam his cock inside Blair, but he was searching for something, waiting for the reaction he knew would happen when—

“Oh jee-zuss,” Blair moaned, and Jim knew he’d found Blair’s prostate.

Easing his fingers out, Jim wiped the excess slickness onto his aching erection, and eased the blunt head of his cock inside, pausing while Blair flexed around him, and then sliding the rest of the way into Blair.

“Oh my god,” Jim prayed, his eyes rolling back into his head. Nothing had ever felt this good before.

Jim took two long strokes before he realized his orgasm was almost on him. Sliding all the way back inside, Jim reached under Blair, pulling him back onto Jim’s lap, fully seating Blair on Jim’s cock. Blair threw his head back, resting in on Jim’s shoulder, eyes closed, panting.

Gripping Blair’s cock, Jim stroked it fast and furious, hurtling them to the brink of orgasm and then, blindingly, over. Blair was coming, spurts streaking across the bed and dribbling down Jim’s hand. Jim’s own cock, buried deep inside of Blair, felt the walls spasming around it, stroking it internally, and Jim roared in his completion, biting down on Blair’s vulnerable neck as his cock jerked and spilled its precious juice.

They stayed in that position, frozen for long minutes while their bodies stayed connected, and Jim gently sucked on the bite mark on Blair’s neck. Sadly, Jim’s spent cock slipped from Blair’s body and they parted, lying on their sides, watching each other in the aftermath of their joyous coupling.

“I do love you,” Jim said finally, his heart exploding.

Blair smiled blissfully. “Me, too.”

Leaning forward, Jim kissed Blair softly, lovingly, and they cuddled together, Jim’s head resting on Blair’s stomach, their hands joined. They dozed.

Sometime later, after dark, they woke, almost simultaneously, but didn’t move from their comfortable position.

“Stay?” Blair asked quietly.

Kissing Blair’s stomach, Jim answered the only way he could, “Yes.”

***

Week #7-Friday

Blair woke slowly and stretched, feeling a certain ache he hadn’t experienced in a while; with most of his male lovers, Blair took the more dominant role, but with Jim, Blair had felt an overwhelming need to feel Jim inside him. Contemplating that connected, complete feeling, Blair looked at Jim’s back, noticing for the first time the tattoo.

It was only about four inches in diameter, about the size of his fist, on Jim’s left shoulder blade. ‘Very tasteful,’ Blair judged, having seen quite a few tattoos in his life. It was a black panther, stalking its prey, encircled with a ring of red flame. The Panteras Del Diablo.

Feeling the scrutiny of Blair’s gaze, Jim rolled over, and pulled Blair against him.

“Good morning,” Blair said, after a morning kiss.

“It will be,” Jim growled, kissing Blair’s neck and then sliding down.

A long time later, starving from missing dinner the night before and their early morning round of sixty-nine that nearly drowned Jim, they raided Blair’s refrigerator. They scrambled half a dozen eggs and toasted all the bagels Blair had, slathering cream cheese (Blair) and peanut butter (Jim) all over them.   They drank papaya juice since the milk was spoiled and had to settle for hot tea because Blair was out of coffee.   Blair learned that Jim liked his tea with just a touch of honey, and a kiss. It was the best breakfast either could remember eating.

They showered separately, knowing they’d never leave the loft if they shared the shower, and they were ready to face the day, Jim wearing one of Blair’s tee-shirts stretched across his chest enticingly and both wearing shit eating grins.

Blair drove them back to the university to pick up Jim’s bike, but he drove slowly, their hands entwined on the seat between them.  

The lot was fuller than usual for a Friday, so Blair parked further away from Hargrove Hall. Getting out, they walked around the tail end of the car, the heat of the engine keeping the chill away.

Stroking his thumb over Blair’s neck where he’d bitten him the night before, Jim could still feel the heat under the flannel shirt.   Unable to resist, they kissed again, Blair’s hands stroking Jim’s back while Jim’s free hand caressed Blair’s cheek, its freshly shaven surface soft under his hand.

Smiling at each other, Jim grasped Blair’s hand, then turned and started walking towards the building. So intent on each other, it took a moment for the feeling of someone watching them to sink in. Looking around, Jim immediately spotted the source. Sitting beside his hog were two others, familiar as his own bike. They belonged to Smokey and Shooter who were standing directly in front of Jim, and had witnessed his encounter with Blair.

Jim continued forward, eyes locked on Smokey’s, while Blair followed, unaware. Reaching the curb, Blair stepped up beside him, facing the stares of the two bikers.  

Finally, Jim turned to Blair. “I’ll call you later.”

“Okay,” Blair whispered, looking back and forth between the three men.

Hurrying into the building, Blair shivered, but from the cold or the stares, he wasn’t sure.

***

Blair’s mind was only half on his classes, and it showed in his teaching. Dismissing his classes early, Blair hurried back to his office in hopes of finding a message from Jim, but his voice mail was silent. He checked his answering machine at home, but it, too, was silent.

Eventually, restlessness drove Blair from his office.   Back at the loft, Blair tried to work to keep his mind occupied, but changing the sheets he and Jim had made love on only made his worrying worse. The silence was driving him crazy.

He flipped on the stereo, but it was still set for the oldies channel Jim had chosen, and even looking at the dirty dishes on the counter nearly brought tears to Blair’s eyes. He had no idea where Jim was, so he couldn’t go driving aimlessly around Seattle, and besides, it would only make the situation worse.

‘Jim said he would call and Jim doesn’t lie,’ he reminded himself for the hundredth time.

The waiting was going to kill him.

***

Smokey and Shooter waited for Slick to retrieve his jacket, and then they drove out together. Slick wasn’t sure where they were going, but when they didn’t head towards Seattle, he knew something was up. Smokey was his sponsor in the Panteras, and felt a responsibility for Slick’s actions because they reflected, not only on Slick, but on Smokey as well.

Thirty miles later, they pulled into a rest stop.   There was a small motel, a diner, two gas stations and a post office. They dismounted the bikes at the diner and went in. The lady behind the counter greeted them like they were regulars, and when she brought three beers, despite the early morning hour, Slick figured that Smokey and Shooter had been there before.

Sitting side by side, Smokey looked at Shooter, and with a small nod, Shooter clasped Smokey’s hand. Slick choked on his beer, spewing it across the table. The waitress rushed back and wiped the table clean, and then skittered away.

“Guess that means you’re surprised, huh?” Smokey said, sipping his beer.

“You could say that,” Slick answered.

“But we ain’t here to talk about us,” Shooter said, eliciting a nod from Smokey, who had obviously promised to keep their most intimate secrets.

“Shooter’s right. Our situation is different from yours. We’re both Panteras, brothers, and on occasion, more,” Smokey clarified.   “But your little boy’s not one of us.”

“He’s not a little boy, he’s—”

“Doesn’t matter, Slick. He’s not one of us,” Shooter said.

Glaring at them, Slick asked, “So, what does that mean?”

“Means you gotta decide.”

“Decide?”

“You can’t have both. Either the Panteras or the boy.”

Taking a long sip of his beer, Slick thought about the possibilities.

“How long?”

Shrugging, Smokey said, “The weekend. Get out by yourself, drive and think. It’s a big decision, Slick.”

Nodding, Slick asked, “And if I choose the kid?”

“Leave the Panteras in good standing. We aren’t gonna say anything about today,” Smokey clarified. “But if you choose the Panteras, you have to give up the kid.”

“No ifs, ands or buts,” Shooter supplied.

“Okay.”

They finished their beers, dropped a twenty on the table and headed out. Back in Seattle, Slick packed his saddle bags and headed out with a nod to Smokey.  

He drove south, no destination in mind, just wide open spaces. When it got dark, he stopped and called Blair.

***

When the phone finally rang, Blair answered on the first ring.

“Jim?”

“Yeah.”

“Oh god, are you alright? Where are you? What happened?”

“Slow down, Chief,” Jim said, humorously.   “I’m fine. I don’t know where I am. Bum Fuck, Oregon, I think.”

“Oregon?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you,” Blair’s voice cracked, “are you coming back?”

“Yeah,” Jim said. “Look, Chief, I’ve got some stuff I’ve got to figure out, and when I get back, we’ll talk.”

“Okay,” Blair whispered.

“Keep your chin up, Moonbeam.”

Laughing, Blair felt a tear escape the corner of his eye and roughly wiped it way. “Okay.”

“Bye.”

Blair held the phone against his chest, fighting back tears. It was a long time before he could hang it up.

***

Week #8-Monday

Blair’s mind wasn’t on his classes. He’d spent a sleepless weekend worrying about Jim, and what Jim was thinking about. Naomi had been out of contact, she and Roland continuing their vacation; he knew she’d call when they found a place to settle into, but he needed her reassuring voice. He needed Jim’s voice.

He dismissed his two o’clock class, reminding them again about their final paper propositions, and then he retreated to the silence of his office. Contemplating a pot of coffee, Blair’s thoughts drifted back to Jim. Sighing, he got up, deciding a coke would have to suffice. The hallway was empty, and he was back to his office in a matter of minutes.

Jim was standing beside his desk.

Moving without thought, Blair threw himself into Jim’s welcoming arms. They stood there for a long time, locked in an emotional embrace, unable to let go.   Finally, Jim pulled away.

“Can you leave?”

“Yes.” Blair slipped his jacket on, grabbed his backpack and they left, locking the door behind them.

Once outside, Jim asked, “Follow me?”

Nodding, Blair headed for his car, watching for Jim to lead the way. They drove to the beach, which in the late afternoon, was virtually deserted.   Walking side by side, they watched the waves roll in, not speaking.

Finally, Jim stopped, and asked, “What do you want from me?”

“Want?”

“Yeah. Are we, I mean, is this a long term thing?”

Studying Jim’s eyes, Blair spoke from his heart.   “I don’t fall in love every day, and I’ve fallen hard for you, Jim. I want that, I want us to be long term.”

Nodding, Jim agreed, “I want that too, Chief.”

Taking Blair’s hand, Jim brought their interlocked fingers to his lips, kissing Blair’s fingers several times.

“What happens now?” Blair asked softly, still unsure.

Smiling, Jim pulled Blair against him and they fell into the sand. “Now, we sit here and I tell you about my plans.”

Sitting between Jim’s spread legs, Blair leaned back against his chest and listened to the decisions Jim had made.

He told Blair about the ultimatum Smokey had delivered, and when he felt Blair stiffen in his arms, Jim reassured him that he had no intention of leaving Blair; Jim had decided to leave the Panteras. He knew it would be hard because being part of them was all he’d known for the last sixteen years, and joining the real world was going to be a culture shock, but knowing that Blair was going to be by his side made that decision easier.

“It’s not gonna be easy, Chief,” Jim warned. “I don’t know how to live a ‘normal’ life.”

“Normal’s what you make,” Blair simplified.

“Are you sure you want me?” Jim asked, looking hopelessly young and scared, his voice wavering slightly.

“I want you any way I can have you.”

“You want me,” Jim paused, swallowing loudly, “forever?”

“Absolutely,” Blair declared.

As twilight neared, they sealed their commitment with a kiss, breathing in each other.

“Come home with me?” Blair asked.

“Absolutely.”

***

Week #8-Tuesday

Blair woke first, rolling closer to Jim’s warmth.   His hard cock, remembering how lovingly it had been sucked the night before, throbbed, insistent. Rubbing his length against Jim’s hip, Blair stretched, anticipatory.

Turning his head, Jim watched as Blair stretched, watched the taut muscles in Blair’s arms flex, and his cock grew hard between his legs. Shifting onto his side, Jim felt Blair move even closer, a hair’s breadth away, their cocks kissing.

“Do we have time for this?” Jim asked against the bite mark on Blair’s neck, remembering the two hours of loving the night before.

“No, but we have time for this,” Blair answered, dipping his head down and sucking on Jim’s neck, his hand already reaching between them to grip their cocks.

Jim’s hand joined his, and they stroked each other to completion, moaning between kisses. They shouted their joy almost simultaneously, Blair following Jim in orgasm, hot ejaculate scalding their bellies.

They lay together for a few more minutes, enjoying the afterglow, but the semen drying on Jim’s stomach was too much for his senses, and they soon headed downstairs to share a shower. It was a very long shower, and Blair ended up running late, but before he left, he handed Jim a key.

“What’s this?”

“It’s a key to the...” Blair stopped, wondering if he’d been wrong. “Never mind.” He tried to take the key back, but Jim clenched his hand around Blair’s fingers.

“Tell me,” Jim insisted, not wanting to assume, but letting himself hope.

Sighing, Blair explained, “When I first moved in, I had two sets of keys made. One for my mom, so she could come and visit whenever she wanted.”

“And...” Jim prompted.

“And a set for someone special,” Blair finished.   “I’ve never given this key to anyone else. I never wanted to, until now.”

Smiling, Jim asked, “You want me to live with you?”

“Yeah,” Blair nodded.

“Good, cause I wanna be here.”

Their lips met in a tender kiss, a giving and receiving, an acceptance of the love they shared and the bond they had created.   Eventually, they parted, going their separate ways, but knowing that at the end of the day, they would be rejoined.

***

Jim left Blair with a smile, but the ride to Seattle was more than enough to wipe away any trace of happiness. It was indeed a sad day for Jim, leaving the family he’d vowed his allegiance to so many years ago, knowing that his new life and his old could never merge.

The hangout was quiet in the early morning hours, as, almost reverent, he climbed the stairs to his room for the last time.   He didn’t have much, mostly clothes, and a few personal items, and it didn’t take long to pack everything into a duffle bag. Looking around once more, Jim thought about all the growing up he’d done in this place, with these people. Like when he left his father’s house for the Panteras, Jim was leaving behind a part of himself, a part he would never be again, and moving on into another phase of his life.

Stepping out into the hallway, closing the door softly behind him, Jim saw Smokey standing across the hall.

“The kid, huh?”

Nodding, Jim didn’t trust himself to speak.

“Good choice.”

Smiling, Jim’s eyes burned. Smokey’s approval was the one thing Jim had always desperately wanted.

Sliding his hand into his jacket pocket, Jim pulled out a note card and handed it to Smokey.

“This is where you can find me.” It was the phone number for the loft.

Nodding, Smokey looked at the card, and then pushed it into his jeans pocket.

“Later, dude,” Smokey said, stepping back into his room and closing the door.

Smiling at the closed door, Jim laid his hand on the grainy wood, and then turned and escaped down the stairs.

Still officially a Pantera until he turned his patch into Preacher, Jim mounted his bike for the short drive. Preacher worked at a carpentry shop, restoring old furniture and building new.

Preacher was working in the morning sun, sanding a chest of drawers, when Jim pulled up. Setting his tools down and slipping the dust mask off his face, Preacher watched him approach.

Without a word, Jim held out his Panteras patch.

Looking at Jim’s leather jacket, Preacher could see the darker leather that had lain under the patch for years.  

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

Nodding, Preacher pocketed the patch. “See you Memorial Day?”

Preacher was referring to the next open party the Panteras were hosting. Friends of the club, which Jim was now considered, were welcome.

“Hell, yeah.” Jim smiled.

They shook hands. Then Jim got on his bike, in many ways alone for the first time in sixteen years, and drove back to Cascade and his new home.

***

EPILOGUE-a month later

For every mountain I have climbed,
Every raging river crossed,
You were the treasure I longed to find,
Without your love, I would be lost.

Letting himself into the loft, Blair dropped his backpack by the door.

“Hey!” Jim called from upstairs.

“Hey yourself,” Blair answered, wandering into the kitchen to see what Jim was surprising him with for dinner tonight.

They took turns most nights, and Jim had taken a real interest in cooking. In fact, he was steadily working his way though the meat entrée section of a cookbook.   Besides the potatoes peeled and soaking in water, there was a mysterious metal pan covered with foil.

“No peeking,” Jim said, grabbing Blair’s hand and pulling him into a hug.

“Aw, come on,” Blair said, starting to protest, but Jim kissed him, silencing anything else Blair might have said.

Breaking apart, Jim smiled, pointing at the table.   “They came.”

“It’s about time.” Blair picked up the documents from the mortgage company.

Two weeks ago, when Blair was paying bills, Jim had decided that it wasn’t fair for Blair to pay for their home. After talking about it, they went back to the mortgage company and started the process for refinancing and adding Jim to the mortgage.   It was a major step, but they’d known within a week of moving in together that this was a permanent relationship, and while they couldn’t marry like traditional couples, there were other things to do to cement their relationship. Along with the mortgage, they opened joint checking and savings accounts, applied for (and received) a joint credit card and even had wills drawn up.   They were together for the long haul.

Moving to sit on the couch, Blair read through the documents, making sure everything was in order. He noticed Jim hadn’t signed it yet.

Looking at Jim, Blair asked, “You sure about this?”

Sitting down beside Blair, Jim held out a black jeweler’s box. “Does this answer your question?”

“Jim...”

“Signing this paper, committing to paying a mortgage for the next 30 years with you is just like committing to marrying you.   It’s a life long prospect.”   Opening the jewel box, Jim pulled one of the rings out and took Blair’s hand. “Blair Moonbeam Sandburg, do you promise to love, honor and go into debt with James Joseph Ellison?”

“I will. I am.” Jim slipped the ring on Blair’s finger.

Trembling, Blair took the other ring from the box.   “Do you, James Joseph Ellison promise to love, honor and go into debt with Blair Sandburg?”

“Moonbeam.”

Blair laughed. “Moonbeam.”

“I do. Always.” Blair slipped the ring onto Jim’s finger.

They kissed to seal their vow.

“And now we sign,” Blair said, grabbing a pen from the coffee table.

“Wait!” Jim said. “I gotta put dinner in or it won’t be ready in time.”

Laughing, Blair watched Jim slip the dish in the oven and turn on the water under the potatoes.

“What are we having, anyway?”

“Surprise.”

Blair signed the paper. “Is this like the surprise last week?”

“Hey, anybody can burn spaghetti sauce.” Jim signed the paper.

“Guess I’m stuck with you.”

“Guess so.”

Grinning like idiots, they kissed again.

“You know,” Blair said, “I should have bought your ring.”

“Well, if it makes you feel better, they’re getting paid for out of our checking account.”

Laughing, they held hands as they talked about their respective day.

Soon after Jim moved in, he had asked his boss if he could start working days, but there hadn’t been any openings at the time, so Jim had grudgingly worked nights, but Blair stayed with him every night.   Wanting to be on a similar schedule to Blair’s, Jim had started looking for another job. This week had been his first at the new job; he was working for Simon in his private investigation office. For the time being, Jim handled all the office work, everything from typing to filing and cleaning the bathrooms, but he was learning as he went, and once summer session classes started at Rainier, Jim was starting back to college. He wasn’t quite sure what he was going to major in, but he had promised Blair that he would stay away from Anthropology classes.

Eventually, they moved to the kitchen so Jim could finish dinner. Blair made a salad while Jim heated up sugar snap peas and mashed the potatoes. He’d been happy with instant potatoes, but Blair had insisted that there was nothing like real, and one hilarious night, Jim had done a side by side comparison—on Blair’s ass cheeks. Everything tasted better on Blair’s ass.

Finally, sitting at the table, Jim revealed his dinner surprise, meatloaf. He dished up his main entrée and waited eagerly for Blair to try it.

Blowing to cool a forkful of the steaming meat, Blair took a small bite.

“Mmm. Pretty good.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Blair said, taking another bite.   “Really good.”

“I made it with half ground beef and half ground turkey.”

Blair smiled around a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

“What?” Jim asked, seeing the smirk.

“Nothing. Well, I’m just surprised you deviated from a recipe.” Blair grinned.

“Oh, bite me, Chief. I can be spontaneous.”

Snickering loudly, Blair took a sip of his iced tea.

“What? Are you saying I can’t be spontaneous?” Jim asked.

“I’m not saying that.”

Without another word, Jim leapt from his chair, picking Blair up and carrying him upstairs. Setting Blair down beside their bed, Jim quickly stripped him and then shoved him down onto the bed.

Panting, incredibly turned on and getting harder with every breath, Blair watched Jim strip off his clothes hastily. In no time, they were lying entangled on the bed, kissing, hands roaming over bare skin.

Slowly, Jim rolled Blair onto his back, teasing Blair’s nipples with his tongue. Continuing down Blair’s chest, Jim kissed random spots as he moved progressively towards Blair’s hard cock. Circling Blair’s cock with a loose fist, Jim stroked slowly, barely ghosting his fingers up and down the throbbing shaft. They had spent the last month learning each other’s reactions to certain stimuli, and Jim knew this act drove Blair crazy.

His body trembling minutely, Blair couldn’t decide if he wanted the delicious torture to stop. No other lover had ever known his body as well as Jim knew it; Jim was a virtuoso at prolonging Blair’s arousal until they were both begging to come.

Desire driving his actions, Jim couldn’t stand it any longer. He licked the crown of Blair’s cock, tasting the pre-cum that had gathered. As always, Jim’s addiction flared.   Unable to wait, he deep throated Blair’s cock, needing as much of Blair as he could get.

Trying not to thrust, Blair clenched his hands into tight fists. Jim grabbed one of Blair’s fists and uncurled it, linking their fingers together as he continued to love Blair’s cock.

Blair had found out early on that Jim liked to touch him, had to touch him, needed to touch him, and the more Blair touched Jim back, the stronger Jim’s feelings were. Blair had learned that Jim was rarely touched as a child, his Sentinel senses making it all but impossible for anyone to hug him, and over the years, he’d come to accept that he was unlovable because no one would touch him.   But Blair touched him. All the time. And Jim was slowly learning to touch back and seek out Blair’s touch if he needed it. Even when Jim slept, he still reached out for Blair, waking if he couldn’t find a part of Blair to touch. If Jim enjoyed touching Blair out of bed, then he was practically ecstatic to touch Blair intimately.

Sucking on the tip of Blair’s cock, Jim slid a finger inside Blair’s tight ass, searching for his prostate and then rubbing against the tiny nub. The reaction was almost instantaneous.

Blair’s whole body seized up, hanging precariously on the edge, and he trembled and yelled out Jim’s name, coming in great waves that Jim swallowed greedily. Sliding his imprisoned finger from inside Blair, Jim slowly stroked the last of Blair’s orgasm out of him, small tremors wracking his body.

Jim kissed his way back up Blair’s relaxed body, sucking for a moment on Blair’s hard nipples before moving up to kiss Blair’s parted lips.

“...so good...” Blair murmured against Jim’s lips.

Nuzzling Blair’s neck, Jim sensuously rubbed his own erection against Blair’s thigh, not asking for immediate release, just thrilling at the prospect of being loved and stoking his arousal higher. Jim’s body hummed pleasantly at having pleasured his lover so passionately.

Blair’s hands finally started receiving the impulses his brain was sending out, and he wrapped his arms about Jim, caressing the strong shoulders and muscular arms. Lightly caressing Jim’s ass, Blair felt Jim rub himself against Blair’s hip more firmly. ‘I know what you want, baby,’ Blair thought to himself.

Urging Jim to roll over, Blair hovered over him, bodies not touching. Jim was breathing fast, his face flushed, lips reddened, eyes dilated.   He looked beautiful. Kissing Jim’s jaw, Blair licked down to Jim’s ear, where the aquamarine still hung, and sucked it gently, hearing Jim moan softly.

While nibbling Jim’s neck and shoulder, Blair’s fingers were busy pinching Jim’s nipples. Jim might have a heightened sense of touch, but he adored nipple stimulation, often resulting in nipples that stayed red for hours after some of their more acrobatic sexual encounters.

Laving his tongue over the tormented nipples, Blair felt his cock stir. He never failed to get excited by loving Jim. They were each other’s addictions. Tracing Jim’s abdominal muscles, Blair followed his caress with a swipe of his tongue and then blew lightly over the dampened skin, making Jim shiver in anticipation.

Jim’s cock was drooling steadily, wetting his belly, and Blair licked greedily, tormenting Jim by avoiding his hard cock. Continuing to lick Jim’s hairless pubis, Blair sucked gently.

Over the weekend, Jim had agreed to let Blair shave off his pubic hair. Jim had been skeptical but, unable to resist Blair, he’d agreed. In the end, after an incredible blow job, Jim had screamed loud enough to wake the dead and passed out.   Blair had been particularly pleased with himself.

Stroking Jim’s cock, Blair followed the thick vein with his tongue, circling the tight balls. Blair stopped his actions until Jim looked at him, and then slowly Blair drew one smooth testicle into his mouth, sucking gently before releasing and repeating that gesture on the other. Jim trembled.

Sitting back on his heels between Jim’s spread legs, Blair whispered, “Roll over.”

Turning gracefully, Jim knelt in front of Blair, presenting his luscious ass for Blair’s pleasure. Jim’s skin tingled as he felt the visual caress; he held steady for the first touch of Blair’s hands on his ass, and shivered when it finally came.

Blair caressed the firm globes, trailing his fingers up and down the dark crevice. Spreading Jim’s ass cheeks, Blair bent down and licked lightly over the pink pucker, which spasmed under his tongue. Licking again, Blair pressed more firmly, dragging his tongue across the wrinkled skin and then pressing the tip against the hole.

“Oh, god...”

Knowing how much Jim loved this specific act, Blair never hurried, preferring to draw out the foreplay until Jim was dangling on the razor’s edge. Blair circled the spasming pucker with his tongue, slowly narrowing in and then stabbing at the throbbing hole, tongue fucking Jim wildly, holding on to Jim’s thrusting hips. Slowing his tongue, Blair softly licked the reddened area, and then pressed his tongue inside as deeply as he could.

“Please...please...” Jim begged, and Blair couldn’t hold off any longer.

“The lube,” he requested of Jim.

Jim shivered at the idea of getting the lube so Blair could take him. Reaching across to the basket on the bedside table, Jim snatched the tube and shoved it in Blair’s general vicinity.

Smiling, Blair squirted some lube onto his fingers and eased them inside Jim’s tight, hot ass. Jim bucked back against the invading fingers, encouraging their exploration, begging to be filled.

Soon after moving in, Jim had shyly expressed his interest in having Blair make love to him, and Blair had been eager to show Jim what being taken could feel like; Jim had come the instant Blair fully sheathed himself inside Jim. His reaction had calmed down some, but the intensity of that first coupling had stayed with them.

Blair wiped the extra lube down the length of his hard cock and then moved in close behind Jim, teasing Jim’s opening with the mushroom head of his cock. Feeling Jim shift, Blair knew Jim had gripped his cock in an iron tight fist to try and hold off his orgasm, and then Blair eased inside the loosened ring, pushing until his pubis pressed against Jim’s ass.

Jim shuddered under him once, and then again, longer, and Blair felt the walls of Jim’s ass squeeze him tightly, caressing his cock, as Jim came hard, shooting passionately all over their comforter.

Blair held on, gripping Jim’s hips roughly, trying not to come himself, riding out the after quakes that wracked Jim’s body.   Waiting until he felt Jim relax under him, Blair took his first stroke. Easing in and out, Blair built a steady rhythm, angling for Jim’s prostate, drawing a moan at every caress.

Nearing his own completion, Blair pulled all the way out, holding his throbbing cock as Jim turned over and pulled his legs up to his chest. Blair slid back inside Jim’s welcoming heat, and watched the emotions well up in Jim’s eyes. Their emotional connection was just as strong as their physical one, and they needed this ritual to sustain them.

Wrapping his legs around Blair’s waist, Jim pulled Blair deeper inside. Blair moved gently inside Jim, trying to prolong their union, but it was just too much.   Eyes locked on Jim’s, Blair thrust hard once and then came, spurting his hot essence deep inside the man he loved, his soul mate, his Sentinel. Feeling Blair’s release, Jim’s cock jerked in reaction and he came again, a small burst of semen on his belly.

Collapsing onto Jim’s chest, Blair sighed and tried to hug Jim back when he felt Jim’s arms surround him. They lay together for a long time, their heavy breathing the only sound in the loft. Blair’s dick eventually softened and slipped out of Jim’s pleasured body, and then Jim shifted them onto their sides, kissing Blair’s forehead.

Jim’s stomach growled and Blair smiled against Jim’s chest.

“Hungry?”

Clearing his throat, Jim answered, “Well, I did miss dinner.”

“Yes, you did.”

They got up, sticky, sated and naked, and went downstairs. Blair made sandwiches with the cold meatloaf while Jim heated up the mashed potatoes, and they ate standing at the kitchen counter. After cleaning up their mess, they stood in front of the balcony doors, Blair leaning against Jim's solid presence, and watched the world go by, at peace and in love.

The end.

Let the world stop turning, let the sun stop burning,
Let them tell me love’s not worth going through,
If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart,
The only dream that mattered had come true,
In this life, I was loved by you.

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Acknowledgements: This started one sleepless night in October. Iceman and I were stuck in this crappy hotel room in Virginia with a barely working air conditioner and a lumpy mattress. Trying to sleep, I found myself listening to the television and an A&E special about biker gangs. Fertile imagination took over and a story idea was born. I wrote the opening scene, plotted a bit and then writer's block hit. I didn't pick the story up again until January, when I wrote for a couple of days and stopped. Then one night, chatting with my girls, one of them asked if I was ever gonna finish that biker story. And I probably made some sly comment about 'someday' and then she challenged me to finish it by the end of the month. That's how March started. So, I started writing more seriously, getting into the swing of it again. Then another friend asked me to put it in a zine, but I'm too impatient to wait for zines to come out, so I said no. And then Iceman said, why not make an ezine? It had started.

I have so many people to thank. First, and always, thanks to Iceman, for not complaining about all the time I spent on the computer when he could've been playing games and for not ripping down the half-naked (and nekkid) manips of Jim and Blair; thanks to Diana for insisting I read TS fanfic and sending me the tapes that started this addiction and for always being there for me; and to my TFCs for being there night after night, to support, to encourage and to laugh, y'all are BAD! :)

I need to especially thank the lovely people of Senad. If I had a question, they were there with answers all hours of the day and night. For that help, thank you. For medical information, thanks to PJ, Aly, Laura, Silk, Shirin, Kathy, Maggie, Brynn, Claire; for Corvair information, thanks to Sallye, Dewey, Kari; for pot help, thanks to Tricia, Wendy, Manic, GreenWoman, Mary; for tattoo help, thanks to Diviant; for Harley help, thanks to Patt;

It wouldn't be a story of mine if there weren't lyrics somewhere in there. Lyrics quoted are: Poison's "Sexual Thing" and Collin Raye's "In This Life".

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