Blair in the Center - Kerensa
“Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” Henri Brown said reverently.
Jim Ellison looked up and smirked when he saw the look on the hip detective’s face. Zeroing in with his enhanced vision, the Sentinel could actually see some drool pooling at the corner of the other man’s mouth.
“What’s happening?” Joel Taggart, captain of the bomb squad, came up behind Ellison and asked.
“Johansen brought some of his old skin magazines to show around. They,” he nodded at the younger detectives, “are falling all over themselves looking at the pictures.
“And the articles too,” Joel added seriously. He and Jim looked at one another and burst out laughing.
“Yum, I like that one,” Rhonda, Simon’s secretary drawled out.
Joel’s eyebrows shot up his face. He gave Jim a questioning look. The detective grinned at his astonishment.
“Apparently it was a very progressive magazine and had pictures of both women and men.”
“Ah,” Joel said with a nod. He hadn’t thought that Rhonda was into women, but you never knew.
Simon opened the door to his office and stepped out. The majority of the bullpen was so preoccupied with their “reading material” that they didn’t even notice. Simon scowled and pulled the unlit cigar from his mouth. He glared at the other side of the room.
Most people would reckon that the anger was over the lack of work going on. Jim figured that Simon was mad because, as captain, he didn’t think he should join in.
“Oh!” Rhonda exclaimed loudly.
Megan’s, “holy crap!” was just as startling.
Both women’s reactions were sufficiently loud enough to catch people’s attention. Jim looked over and saw that Rhonda’s face had turned an interesting shade of crimson and that Megan’s mouth was hanging open in surprise. The Australian woman was holding up the magazine sideways, from which a couple of extra pages were hanging down; they were looking at the centerfold.
Ellison didn’t even try to hide his grin. He and Banks exchanged questioning looks. Jim knew that these magazines were tamer than most skin mags, showing quite a bit of skin, but not total nudity, so what had so shocked both women?
Rafe and Henri circled around to stand behind and to either side of Megan. The worried looks they all directed at Jim had the detective on his feet and walking towards them before he even knew what he was doing.
“What’s going on?”
“Uh, Jimbo…” Megan started, trying to close the magazine stealthily.
Brown and Rafe started to edge away, while Rhonda stood mute. Whatever was on those pages had them all worried about Jim’s reaction, which was enough to worry Jim by itself.
The Sentinel pulled the periodical out of Megan’s hand. She tried to keep hold of it, but the slick, glossy paper slid easily from between her fingers. While still looking from one to the other of his friends, Ellison stuck his thumb into the natural center of the publication and flicked it open.
Jim gasped. Behind him, he heard Simon’s gasp at what was revealed. What was revealed was Blair, and a lot of him.
The picture wasn’t that old, because Blair didn’t look a lot different than he did now. He was standing against a white wall, his arms up over his head, one hand holding onto the other wrist. Blair was clad in a pair of very form fitting jeans and nothing else. His eyes were burning embers of ice and the smile on his beautiful face promised so much more after the jeans came off; anything the looker wanted.
Jim swallowed hard, sure that a river had taken up residence in his mouth. His emotions were conflicted. On the one hand, he could feel himself growing hard over the sensuous picture in front of him. But on the other hand, well, he felt shame and disappointment. Shame that their friends had seen Blair like this, and disappointment in the anthropologist for doing something like this in the first place.
The ex-Ranger snapped the magazine shut and glared at Megan, Rafe, Henri and Rhonda, daring them to say anything. For once, even Megan didn’t try to say anything and H mimed zipping his mouth. Jim glared at the balding man, who hurried over to his desk and sat down. Rafe and Rhonda were already “working” diligently and Megan nonchalantly walked over to “help” Rhonda.
“Jim, my office please,” Simon’s quiet voice interrupted the tense, deafening silence.
Banks eyed his best detective like he was a cobra waiting to strike. Or a bomb about to detonate, Simon amended to himself.
“Nobody else saw it,” the captain offered, trying to calm Jim down. Ellison just looked at him. “Uh, yeah.” It was a popular publication, after all. “Crap.”
“I’m going to kill him,” Jim saw through gritted teeth. “What the hell possessed him to pose for this filth?” He brandished the magazine in one tightly clenched hand.
“Huh. So, you thought it was funny and interesting when it was strangers they were looking at, but not so much when it’s your partner.”
Jim stood up and gave his superior officer a dirty look. “That’s right, sir,” he ground out. “Permission to leave?”
“Yes. Go on; get out of here before you kill someone.”
Simon watched as Jim stomped out of the room. Those in the know wisely kept out of his way. Banks hoped nobody tried to stop Ellison, because there was no telling what the Sentinel would do if they did.
“I’ve got to warn Blair,” Simon realized. He snatched up the phone and began to punch in the numbers for Blair’s office at the university.
“Damn,” Simon cursed as he slammed the receiver down twenty minutes later.
Despite repeated calls to both the loft and the university, he’d had no luck reaching Blair. Banks knew that Jim had to be close to the loft by now, especially considering how he was likely to be driving, and figured that there wasn’t any reason to try again. Blair was on his own.
“I just hope he’s got his umbrella, because there’s a storm heading his way,” Simon muttered.
Jim’s bad humor had grown by leaps and bounds by the time he got back to the loft. The magazine had lain there on the seat, tempting and mocking him.
That was the real reason that Jim was mad; he wanted to look at the picture of Blair, memorize it and wrap himself up in it. Ellison’s dick twitched in his pants, as his mind remembered the provocative picture. The idea that others had seen the man that he’d secretly lusted after for over three years was galling.
In a vain effort to distract himself, Ellison turned the knob on his radio, hoping to get Santana to listen to. What he got instead was the J. Giles Band singing ‘Centerfold’.
My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold
My angel is a centerfold
Angel is a centerfold
My blood runs cold, my memory has just been sold
Angel is a centerfold
Jim’s eyes bugged out at the coincidence of the song. With a vicious twist of his wrist, the Sentinel turned the radio back off. He knew that if he listened to that song, about an old crush who turned out to be a centerfold, he’d beat the crap out of someone.
He slammed on his brakes, not having noticed that he was coming to a stop light. The detective realized that he’d better pay attention to what he was doing or he was going to end up getting someone killed. With his eyes resolutely looking ahead, and not at the magazine he wanted to peruse, Jim prepared himself mentally for the confrontation ahead.
“What the hell would possess you to do something like this, Sandburg?”
Blair jumped back when the other man threw the magazine at him. It bounced off Blair’s chest and landed on the coffee table with a thud. He looked down at the glossy pages. The publication had fallen open to a page showing a scantily clad young woman.
Ellison had stormed into the loft, startling Blair, who had jumped off the couch like he'd been shot. Before he could even ask what was wrong, the Sentinel had started yelling at him. The grad student felt his face flame at the humiliation of being accused this way. Then he felt the shame give way to pure, boiling anger. He looked up and glared at Ellison.
“How dare you, you smug, arrogant bastard!”
Jim blinked in surprise and straightened up. He started to reply, but his senses chose that moment to surge up, as they always did in times of high emotion. Jim saw how dilated the capillaries on Blair’s face were, making it a bright red. He could see how fast the anthropologist’s breathing was and heard the fast thump of his heart.
"A-arrogant?" Ellison stuttered, trying hard to hang on to his righteous anger. It wasn't easy to though when he saw how upset Blair was.
"Yes, arrogant," Blair reiterated. "You, who came from money and had your way paid through college, have no right to look down on me for doing what I had to."
Jim leaned forward against the back of the couch and squeezed the top of the cushions in both hands. "I worked damn hard in the Army," he growled.
"Yeah, no shit, Jim. But so do I. I've been on my own since I was 16, Jim. On my own. That means I've been responsible for me and taking care of everything I needed for most of my life."
Jim frowned. He'd known that Blair started college at an early age, but he'd always assumed Naomi was at least accessible. Although, thinking back, the Sentinel wondered why he'd thought that. In the three years that Blair had been living with Jim, Naomi had stopped by only two times and then only to cause trouble for Blair. Or, at least that's how it seemed to Ellison.
The detective remembered being 16 quite clearly. Even with all the problems he'd had with his dad and the rivalry between he and Steve, Jim had had a good teenage life. He'd learned to drive a car, using one of his dad's many vehicles, gone to the movies, dated several different girls and gone to lots and lots of parties. He couldn't imagine the stress of wondering where he was going to live or where his next meal was coming from. He certainly couldn't picture doing any of that on his own. His dad wasn't there much, but Sally was like a mother to him and was just as stern and loving as a real mother would have been.
"I had a full scholarship, but man, that only pays for books and tuition. For everything else, I had to work for it."
"But these pictures weren't taken when you were a kid." Jim pointed to the magazine.
"No kidding. I was a small, skinny, geeky kid at that age. No one would have paid to look sideways at me then. I've tossed a lot of burgers and stocked a whole shitload of shelves at night in my time."
"So..." Ellison glanced at the magazine, still wanting clarification.
"Man, you are like a dog with a bone." Blair shook his head. "I got older and wasn't quite so pathetic to look at. A friend turned me on to posing. He said I could make some good money without killing myself in the process." Blair crossed his arms over his chest.
"How many times have you posed?" Ellison asked, horrified at the thought that there were more pictures out there.
"I don't know," Blair admitted. "A few."
Jim swallowed the lump in his throat at the same time he unconsciously licked his lips. The Sentinel knew that most magazines weren't as conservative as this one. Just how bare had Blair ever gotten?
"Jim, before I met you, do you know what I did on my summer vacations from the university?" Blair asked seriously.
Ellison shrugged and pursed his lips. "Partied?"
Sandburg snorted. "I wish. I worked, Jim, every day I could. My 'time off' was filled with as many jobs as I could find, that way I had enough, or nearly enough, to eat the rest of the year. I only did any modeling when I really needed the money," Blair admitted.
Jim gave him a searching look. "So, when did you need it that recently?" He got an alarmed look on his face. "Has it been since you've been living here?" he asked.
Blair gritted his teeth, making his jaw as tense as Ellison's usually got. His eyes were a bright, glittery blue and showed his anger, as well as his pain.
"Yes, Jim. Right after I moved in was when those pictures were taken."
Jim didn't say anything at first and that only made Blair even madder. "Why did you need money so 'desperately' then?" The sarcasm when the Sentinel said 'desperately' showed how much he doubted his friend's statement.
"What did you think happened after my place was blown up, man? Huh? I lost almost everything I owned in the explosion. What wasn't blown the fuck up was waterlogged by the firemen. Of the few things that were left, so many smelled of smoke that I had to toss them. So, you tell me, why would I have needed money then?!" Blair was yelling by the end of his speech.
"I guess that makes sense," Jim admitted.
"Oh, thank you very much for your approval," Blair snapped back. "Oh yeah, and let's add the video camera that you borrowed from your ex-wife's department to the list."
Ellison shook his head. "I talked to Carolyn about that; she said not to worry, that she'd take care of it."
"Oh, she did alright. But taking care of it amounted to threatening to sue my ass if I didn't come up with the money for it. I had no choice but to make some money, fast. It was either selling drugs, which, no way, hooking, ditto, or taking a few pictures. Guess which one I chose."
Blair stomped over to the front door. He slipped his jacket on and yanked the door open. "I'm outta here," he muttered.
Jim stood and stared in stunned amazement at the closed door. When had he lost control?
"About the time I had a conniption fit over those really rather tame pictures," Ellison admitted to himself.
Blair was sitting on a bench in the park when Ellison found him. Jim could see that the grad student was shivering, despite the heavy, fleece lined jacket that he was wearing. Jim sat down beside him and winced at how chilly the wooden seat was on his butt.
"I'm sorry, Chief."
Sandburg glanced over and Jim winced at the surprise in his eyes. It was a sad day when your best friend was amazed when you apologized.
"Okay," Blair said quietly.
"I don't say that nearly enough," Jim admitted.
"Why did you freak so badly?"
Ellison leaned forward so that his elbows were resting on his knees. "Because I liked them."
The anthropologist shook his head, not understanding. "Them?" he questioned.
"The pictures." Blair's eyes widened dramatically. "After you left, I looked closer at the magazine. I'd only seen the centerfold, I hadn't realized yours was a several page spread."
Even the memory of those pictures was enough to make the heat rise up in Jim's body. The first picture had been simple, almost demure, with Blair sitting on top of a table, Indian-style. His jeans had been just tight enough so that the vee between his legs outlined his assets nicely. From that picture to the last one, Blair lost an article or two of clothing each time. It wasn't always very much. One picture in particular was Jim's favorite. In it, Blair lost one sock, just one. That naked, vulnerable foot was more compelling than any pictures Jim had seen in a long time.
"So, you liked them?" Blair clarified. Jim could see that he was delighted at being the object of Jim's desire.
"No, Blair, I loved them."
Ellison straightened up and slid closer to the observer. Watching to make sure that his attentions were welcome, Jim moved until his lips were gently brushing Blair's. The younger man's lips were cold from being outside for so long, but it didn't take long for Jim to warm them up.
Mouth's opened to admit tongues. Hands slid under each other's coats, trying to get as close as they could. It was a mating dance older than time.
"Let's take this some place warmer," Jim growled into the ear that he was currently nibbling on.
Blair gasped at the shivery sensation of warm breath on and in his ear. He nodded his agreement, even as he pulled Jim's head closer.
"Home," he agreed moments later.
The two men walked the several blocks back to the loft, oblivious to anything going on around them. The gods must have been watching out for them that night, because in a city rife with crime, no one molested them. At least until they got home, then a lot of molestation went on in the bedroom above the stairs.
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Acknowledgments: Thanks to Bobbie for the beta. Thanks to my mother for the story idea. Thanks also to Nicci and her wonderful pic that was the inspiration.