Saving a Dead Dinosaur - Tinnean
~~~ indicates a flashback
A warm hand was fondling my butt, and then a warmer breath washed over my ear. "C'mon, Chief. Up and at 'em!"
I wriggled voluptuously. "Hmm?" After the ceremony at Rainier, we'd returned to the loft for a little afternoon delight, and once we'd achieved the most amazing orgasms, had dozed off. At least, I'd dozed off. What was Jim doing awake?
Maybe he wanted another round, I hoped?
"C'mon, Chief," he repeated. His voice was filled with affection, and I loved hearing it. Well, it was directed at me. "If you want dinner anytime in this millennia, we've got to get hopping. La Cueva awaits."
"The Peruvian restaurant on Valiette Street?" Mention of food made me realize we'd missed lunch and it had been a long time since breakfast.
"Yep. Only the best for my Guide." Jim dropped a kiss on the back of my neck. "Let's go. Time's a-wastin', and I have plans for later."
"Oh, yeah?" My face was still buried in my pillow - god, it was wonderful knowing that the other pillow on my lover's bed was mine - and I smiled.
"Yeah." This time he wacked my butt, but gently. "Now let's go."
I came down from the loft, tucking a white dress shirt into a pair of black jeans.
"So we're really going to La Cueva?"
"I thought we'd go somewhere special to celebrate. It isn't everyday my... roommate successfully defends his dissertation and gets to put 'doctor' in front of his name."
Yeah, I was pretty excited about that myself. I'd been awarded my degree and hooded, and I was Doctor Blair Sandburg now. Although to tell the truth, I was a little bummed no one from Major Crimes had showed up. I thought they liked me.
I pushed aside those thoughts. "Let me get my jacket, and we can go."
The original plan was that I'd write my dissertation on Sentinel abilities, but then Jim and I became lovers - and talk about a weird set of circumstances.
Although maybe not.
"Why do you have to go to Rainier today, Chief?" Was that a touch of sulkiness in his voice?
"If I want to get my doctorate, I have to put in the time," I said as patiently as I could. Didn't he realize I'd rather have stayed with him, even if it meant simply getting his paperwork in order?
I wasn't going to tell him I'd finished my dissertation ages ago. I'd been putting off Eli Stoddard, but now he was making noises about the committee getting impatient and wanting to see something.
"Okay. Well, I've got to go. I'm going to be late. Simon wants me on a stakeout down at the docks."
"Dammit. I'm going to miss out on sitting in the cab of your truck with the heater turned off, drinking coffee, and hoping our backup arrives before I need to use the john?"
"And here I was planning on telling you about my cousin Rucker." Sometimes Jim would talk about what it was like growing up with a real family, a real father, although from what I'd seen of William Ellison, maybe not having a dad wasn't as bad as I'd thought.
"I'm sorry, Jim." Though why I was apologizing was beyond me. I really did need to put in an appearance at Rainier. Not only were there classes I had to teach, but on top of that, I had office hours. I'd been missing too many of them, and Eli was getting on my case about it. "Want me to pick up something for dinner?" I asked wistfully.
He shrugged. "If you want. Just don't wait for me," he snapped.
What the fuck? Before I could ask what bug had crawled up his ass and died, he turned on his heel and stalked out.
"Well, fine, Ellison. Be that way." I was about to grab my backpack and keys and leave as well, when it occurred to me that maybe he was getting tired of having a roommate. It was only supposed to be for one week, but somehow it had stretched to three years.
I thought Jim and I were friends, but lately he'd been acting strange, and I was starting to get worried
I liked living in the loft, liked living with Jim.
Okay, truth time... I loved Jim, and what I really would have liked was to let him in my pants. But the fact of the matter was he didn't know I was gay - all the girls I 'dated' were just camouflage. I'd roomed with straight boys before and had learned early not to mention my homosexuality.
So yeah, I loved him, but that didn't make me blind. Sometimes he could be the biggest pain in the ass.
I chewed on my lip, then decided it might be a good thing to earn some Brownie points. The sink was piled high with dishes, not only from breakfast but from last night's dinner as well. We'd got in late and had been too wiped out to do anything more than eat and roll into bed - his bed up in the loft, and mine under the stairs.
Maybe if I did them it would put Jim in a better mood. I didn't want him so mad that he told me he wanted me out of the loft. Out of his life.
It was going to make me a little late, but what the hell. I called the Anthro department and told them the Volvo wouldn't start but I'd be in as soon as I could.
Talk about karma coming back to bite me in the ass.
The sun wasn't exactly shining but it was out, kind of playing peek-a-boo with the clouds. Smart me decided it wasn't necessary to take along an umbrella, so I left the loft, whistling something by David Lee Roth that had been on the radio while I'd washed and put away the dishes. When I got in the Volvo, it gave a cough and shuddered, but then the ignition caught, and I drove to Rainier.
Classes were over for the day, and after having waited a couple of hours in my office for any student who might need to see me - which was no one, since that was who did show up - I left a note on the door letting whoever might care to show up know that I'd gone home and so should they...
And that was where karma did its thing. Not only was it raining like god was planning on doing a remake of Noah and his ark and I didn't have an umbrella, but the Volvo wouldn't start.
Normally I'd call Jim, but he was on that stakeout.
And he was probably still pissed at me.
So I went back into Hargrove Hall. It was dark in there, everyone having long since left. I reached for my wallet, where I kept a slip of paper with important phone numbers on it, including the one for Danny's Car Service.
Only no wallet. I tore through my backpack, hoping I might have stuffed it in there, but no such luck. And I knew from previous experience that 'Danny' didn't look favorably on not being paid.
I sighed and started hoofing it back to 852 Prospect.
By the time I got home, I was shivering from the cold. Water dripped from my hair down the back of my neck, off my clothes, and left wet footprints to follow me into the loft.
Good thing Jim wasn't home. I'd have time to clean up the mess, and...
"You're late, Chief."
"Shit. Give a guy a heart attack! And what are you doing home?"
"I live here."
I pushed wet strands of hair out of my eyes and glared at him. "You're supposed to be on a stakeout."
"It started raining- "
"I noticed," I muttered.
"- and Simon called it off. How'd you get so wet?"
He gave a huff of irritation, and I knew obfuscation wasn't going to work this time.
"I had to walk home from Rainier."
"Why didn't you call me?"
"Stakeout?" I reminded him.
"Right. So what happened to the Volvo?"
"Dunno. It just sat there like a lump, making obscene noises when I tried to start the engine."
"What did the mechanic have to say?"
"Dunno." I wasn't going to tell him I'd left my wallet home and that on top of not having the car service's number, didn't have the mechanic's either. "It was too late to call him, so I walked home. As I said."
"Right." There was amusement that one word, and I started to get a little teed off. What did he find so funny? The fact that he wasn't the one who was sopping wet?
He stared down at the trail of water I'd left behind me.
"S-sorry about that, Jim." I felt a tickle at the back of my nose, and grabbed a handkerchief barely in time to contain the sneeze.
"You coming down with a cold, Chief?"
"Nah. It's just- " Another sneeze cut me off.
"Sounds like it to me. Go take a hot shower. No, don't go into your room, you're leaving enough water behind you to fill a reservoir."
"Okay, I'll just wrap myself up in a towel and scurry across the loft to my little room... " Maybe a flash of skin might interest him? Although why should it now, when in three years it hadn't... Still, I was willing to try.
"No, you'll stay in the bathroom until I bring you some dry clothes."
He'd never offered to do anything like that for me before, but I wasn't about to look a gift valet in the mouth.
"Okay, Jim. Thanks."
"Don't mention it. And listen - don't worry about the hot water. Use as much as you need."
I raised an eyebrow. "Who are you and what have you done with my roommate?"
His lips curved in a wry smile. "I have been giving you a hard time, haven't I, Chief?"
"Jim?" Now I was really confused.
He shook his head. "Get out of those wet clothes before you catch pneumonia."
My head was starting to feel like it was stuffed with cotton, so I dropped my backpack by the door, hung up my dripping jacket and toed off my wet Nikes, and headed for the bathroom.
I took Jim at his word and turned the water to as hot as I could bear it.
By the time I was done, I was feeling more human. With a sigh of pleasure, I turned off the water. Cool air began seeping in over the shower curtain, and I was tempted to turn on the water again.
"Here you go, Chief." A hand thrust around the curtain, offering one of Jim's thick, fluffy towels.
"Uh... Thanks, Jim. I'll need one for my hair too."
Another towel appeared, and this time it was draped over my head and rubbed vigorously.
"Thanks," I mumbled. Why was he doing this? He was a good guy who'd give a friend the shirt off his back, but valet duties weren't in his area of expertise. Was he getting ready to lower the boom and tell me I had until sundown to get out of the loft? But why? I'd thought things were going so well between us.
"I can do this, Jim. You're getting your shirt wet." I swallowed hard and knotted the towel at my waist before stepping out of the shower.
Jim was standing right there, close enough for me to almost fall into the ice blue of his eyes, and if I were a Sentinel, I'd have zoned on them.
"Here, Chief." He picked up the mug of tea that was on the vanity and handed it to me. "This should be good for what ails you."
I took it, enjoying the warmth that filled my hands. I hated being cold, one of my not-so-secret secrets, but I was surprised Jim was being so accommodating. Was he trying to soften the blow?
But jesus, what had I done?
I took a swallow of the tea, nearly burning my tongue. "Jim-"
"Chief- " The look on his face was so serious. I could picture him trying to come up with the words to tell me my time at the loft was up.
And now I was really scared. "Jim, I don't want to leave-"
"Chief, I don't want you to... Wait a second. What?"
"I know I've stayed here way past the one week you told me I could have, but I thought we were so great together. Great friends, I mean. You know?"
"I know. What made you think I wanted you to leave?"
"Well, you've been awfully moody lately."
"Don't give me that. Moody is your middle name."
"I thought Joseph was my- "
"Oh, ha ha. Here I am, pouring my heart out to you, and you're mocking me?"
He took the mug of tea from my hands and put it on the sink. "I'm not mocking you, Chief." He pulled me into his arms, and while one hand was on my waist, keeping me anchored against him, the other stroked the bare skin of my spine. "I'm just so fucking relieved."
"Huh?" Had I fallen asleep in the shower? Surreptitiously, I pinched myself. Ow! Okay, that proved I was awake.
Jim had always been a touchy/feely kind of guy, but this - this was something new. As an anthropologist, I got answers to questions by asking, questing, probing. This time, though, I was going to keep my mouth shut and just enjoy it. I leaned into him and tuned back in to what he was saying.
"I thought you were getting tired of having to tag along helping me keep my senses in check, of all the rules I laid down - "
"You can be a little anal, Jim."
He ignored that and continued. "That's why I didn't push to get the dishes done last night. And you went ahead and washed them this morning. Do you know how scared that made me when I came home and saw that?"
"I thought you were getting tired of having me around. And I thought you were straight. Guess I was wrong, huh?" I could feel his cock nudging my hip.
"Yeah, you were." There was a smile in his voice, and his hand dropped down to close around and stroke my erection. "And for that matter, I thought you were a - "
"Don't say it, Jim." I didn't want to hear him call me a horn dog who'd hump a table leg, although I'd done my damnedest to give that impression.
"I was going to say a ladies' man. It just about killed me every time you told me you were going on a date with Maya or Molly or - "
I flinched, waiting for him to mention Alex.
He didn't, just stood there holding me and tracing patterns on my cock.
"But... your sense of smell, Jim? Couldn't you tell how turned on I was by you?"
"I kept it dialed down around you, Chief. I thought it was only polite. Plus if you had some woman's perfume all over you, I didn't want to know."
"There's never been a woman. And there hasn't been another guy since I moved in."
"Do you know how hot that makes me?"
"No. But you're going to show me, aren't you?"
"Uh... there's just one thing, Jim."
"You've got me nervous now."
"No, it's nothing to be nervous about. I don't think."
"Spill it, Sandburg!"
"It's just... I like bottoming, but once in a while I like to top." I sneaked a peek at him, afraid that might be the deal-breaker.
"Is that all? Well, I like to top, but for you, Chief... "
What could I do? I threaded my fingers through his hair and kissed him. "What do you say we take this up to the loft?"
A few hours later, my cold a thing of the past, Jim was holding me tight against him, a hand on my hip drawing patterns on it while he nuzzled the curls at my temple.
"This is going to complicate things for you, isn't it, Chief?"
"I'm not following you."
"How much work have you managed to actually get done on your diss?"
Could he have done this to compromise my dissertation? If it came out that I'd slept with my subject, I'd never be able to successfully defend it.
I shrugged and tried to put some distance between us. "I actually finished it."
"Yeah. Late last year."
"That was when- You were so down. I thought it was because that Barbie doll you were seeing broke up with you."
"No. She was a nice girl and lots of fun, but we both knew she could never be more than a friend, and she wanted someone who looked at her the way I looked at you." I could feel a blush heating my cheeks. Sex was one thing, but maybe that was all that Jim wanted.
"So if you weren't depressed because you and Barbie were through?"
"Her name was Beth, and no. I knew I didn't have an excuse to stay with you any longer. All I had left to do was let you look it over, turn it in, and defend it."
"And you didn't."
"No." Geez, I was starting to sound like a broken record.
"Why not? You've been working toward that since you discovered Sir Richard Burton's monograph. And how long ago was that?"
I shrugged it off. "Being here with you meant more to me than some letters in front of my name."
"Listen, Chief. I would never want to stand in your way. You deserve to get your doctorate."
"Can we... uh... talk about this later?" It didn't hurt nearly as much as I'd thought, giving up that dream. Not when I had a living, breathing Sentinel within arm's reach.
"This is pretty important."
"I won't deny that, but making love with you is more important." I smiled and kissed the corner of his mouth.
So the original subject for my diss was out the door. It would have been unethical, to say nothing of being an encroachment on our privacy, because news of it would have leaked out, even if the committee had the best intentions of keeping quiet about it. I could just picture the general populace demanding to know what making love felt like to someone with enhanced senses.
Well, bless their prurient little hearts, it was none of their business!
I came up with another subject. Eli Stoddard, my mentor, was a little disappointed, but he agreed it had more of a bearing with the way things were going in the world. He pointed me toward the paleoecology department, the newest science Rainier offered.
I sat in front of my laptop, working on Everything Old is New Again: The Arrival of the Clovis People on the North American Continent, the resulting extinction of most megafauna, and the likelihood that history may well repeat itself if mankind does not take steps to become more eco-savvy, when Jim paused by the table.
"I'm putting out the recycling, Chief. You done with that?" He nodded toward my empty soda can.
"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure, Jim. Gotta do our part toward saving the planet."
We walked into La Cueva, and Jim nodded to the hostess. "Ellison-Sandburg party."
She gave a big smile. "Of course. Right this way, please." She led us to a pair of closed doors over to the side and threw them open with a flourish.
"Surprise!" Everyone from Major Crimes was there, even the Donut Dolly, and they started to sing, "For he's a jolly good fellow... "
I felt myself start to choke up. "You guys!"
"Congratulations, Shadow!" Simon shook my hand.
"Fair dinkum, Sandy!" Megan kissed my cheek.
"I knew you had it in you, Hairboy!" Henry whacked me on the back, causing me to stagger.
"Way to go, kid!" Joel hugged me until I thought my ribs would crack.
"Blair... " Rafe came toward me, his arms outspread, and Jim stepped between us.
"Find your own PhD, Peter Pan."
"So, Blair, what did you think of Jim's gift?"
The way he'd loved me from top to toe earlier? I turned bright red. "Excuse me?"
Jim scowled at Simon. "I was going to wait until after dinner to give it to him."
"Better give it to him now. After dinner it will be too dark, and we want to see his reaction!"
"I wanted to get you something special, especially since your Volvo crapped out one time too many. C'mon, Chief." He took me by the arm and pulled me toward the back patio of La Cueva.
Parked at the curb was a lime green Ford Escape SUV.
"Jim!" After the Volvo had gone to that big junk yard in the sky, I'd shopped around for another car, looking at various hybrids. For one reason or another, Jim had found something about each of them to detest, and when I'd taken him to look at a SmartForTwo, he'd curled his lip.
'But it's only $15,000!'
'And if it gets in an accident, its airbags won't matter a bit. You'll be squashed like a bug!'
He did have a point, so I gave up on the little coupe.
"I thought we'd save a dead dinosaur, Chief. It's a hybrid."
"She's gorgeous! But the color, Jim?"
"Hey, when we go green, we go green all the way!"
Back to the Slashdex
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Patt, not only for asking me to contribute to this Moonridge Edition of MME, but for the lovely artwork as well, to Tim Mead for his information about getting a doctorate, and as always, to Gail for the beta.
Notes: I'm including a link to the Ford Escape SUV and one for the SmartForTwo Coupe.