Spring Fever - Lilith Faire

James Joseph Ellison decided that he hated spring. It wasn't a decision that he took lightly, but after sneezing and blowing his nose for what seemed like the hundredth time in the last hour, it was the only conclusion he could come to. It didn't help that the fine sunny weather the forecaster had promised had left for greener pastures either. Jim stood by the doors leading to the balcony, watched the water streaming down in a curtain, and shivered. Why did it have to be so damp and cold? It was spring for god's sake. And one would think the rain falling incessantly would at the very least dampen all the pollen in the air, but no....

Jim sneezed again and barely resisted the urge to scream. It was times like this that he wanted to pack it in and move to Arizona. At least the pollen count would be minimal, and there wouldn't be any danger of drowning when stepping off the curb to walk across the street. The idea definitely had merit. Now, all he had to do was convince his guide. And that shouldn't be too difficult, seeing as how Blair probably hated the wet weather even more than Jim did.

Jim turned from the window and watched as the object of his thoughts walked through the door. Sandburg looked like a drowned rat with his hair plastered to his head and his clothes clinging to his body like a second skin. Now, here was someone who could commiserate.

Jim opened his mouth only to be interrupted by Blair.

"Hey, man! Doncha just love spring! It's great, isn't it?"

Well, shit. Jim stood mesmerized by the sight of Blair standing and shaking himself like a dog, spraying water everywhere. He found himself focusing on one raindrop wending its way down the side of Blair's face, almost caressing the cheek before skirting that strong jawbone to fall to the floor below.

Blair's shivering broke the impending zone. Jim realized that he had been staring and almost ran to the bathroom to get a towel, hoping that Sandburg hadn't noticed. When he returned, Blair had taken off his coat and boots and was working on the sodden socks.

"Here, Chief," Jim tossed him the towel. "Dry off before you drip all over the floor. You know," Jim continued, "when I tell you to go soak your head, I don't mean it literally."

Blair snorted as he worked the towel through his hair. "You're a real laugh riot, Ellison. You should be on the stage - the first stage out of town!"

Jim reeled back, clutching his heart. "Oh, I'm wounded here, Sandburg. I thought you liked my razor-sharp wit."

Blair grinned from beneath the towel. "I do, Jim, I do. Can you let me know when it gets back from vacation?"

Jim chuckled and shook his head. "I was working on a doozy of a pissy mood, and as usual, you've managed to come along and spoil it. Thanks a bunch."

Jim sneezed three times in quick succession and gave in to the impulse. He screamed.

"Argh! I hate this. I hate spring, and I hate the rain! And how come Mr. Cold-and-wet-is-my-world likes this weather? I thought you couldn't stand it."

"Whoa, man. Who pissed in your cornflakes? I've never said I couldn't stand spring. In fact, it's my favorite season."

Jim was surprised. "It is?"

"Yup. I love the smell in the air during spring. All fresh and new. Watching the flowers bloom, the birds building their nests, that whole period of rebirth thing going on. It's rejuvenating!"

"But what about the rain? You hate the rain, Sandburg."

Blair shook his head. "No, I love the rain. It washes the memories off the sidewalks of life."

That was it. Jim was going to have to kill him now. He reached for his guide only to have Blair dance out of his reach and make for his bedroom, laughing madly. Jim caught him easily.

"I'm sorry, Jim, I'm sorry!" Blair smiled up at him. "I couldn't resist. Sometimes it's just too easy to yank your chain."

Jim mock-growled and lightly shook the man before him. "Will you quit cheering me up? I happen to like wallowing in my misery."

"Sure, Jim, whatever you say." Blair patted Jim's cheek. "So, seriously, what's wrong? Your senses giving you grief?"

Jim released Blair and moved over to the couch, flopping down on it with a sigh. He sneezed again and grabbed a tissue, blowing his nose.

"It's not my senses, really. I think that all the damn pollen in the air has given me hay fever, and I can't take anything for it. And then the rain started. And the damp just seems to go right through me. Spring sucks."

Jim leaned his head on the back of the couch and closed his eyes in defeat. He felt Blair sit beside him and opened his eyes to look at his partner. Blair gazed back at him silently, as if making a decision. Then he spoke.

"Why don't you go have a nice hot shower while I make some soup. Or even better, I'll make some herbal tea that will help with the sneezing. Then, once the rain stops, you and I are going out. I'm going to show you that spring doesn't have to suck."

Blair stood up and moved to the kitchen. Jim continued to sit, unsure of what just happened. Was Blair fussing over him? The thought of Blair fussing warmed him like nothing else could. Jim was disturbed from his reverie when he realized that Blair was standing over him, hands on hips.

"Move, Ellison."

What could Jim do? He moved.

***

The restorative powers of a hot shower were really quite remarkable. Jim contemplated why exactly that was as he toweled off. His head already felt clearer, and he hadn't sneezed once since entering the bathroom. He could hear Sandburg in the kitchen humming tunelessly as he prepared the tea. When Jim took a deep breath, a tantalizing aroma filled his senses. It was the tea, but a mixture of herbs and spices that Jim had never before smelled. Jim could swear that it was calling to him, and almost before he realized it, he was following his nose out of the bathroom and into the kitchen. When Blair's gaze widened and then pointedly fixed itself on a spot just left of Jim's ear, Jim belatedly remembered to wrap a towel around his middle.

"Sorry, Chief. The tea just smells delicious." Jim grinned at Blair's obvious discomfort. It wasn't as if the man had never seen him naked before. The thought of Blair being uncomfortable around Jim when he was nude caused a strange sensation in the pit of his stomach, not unlike what he felt when Blair was fussing over him earlier. But the tea was definitely calling his name now, so with a small smile of apology, Jim accepted the mug and sat down on the sofa.

Jim spent a minute just inhaling the aroma, trying to determine exactly what Blair had added to the tea. But the blend refused to give up its secrets, so Jim took a careful sip. The flavor hit his taste buds, and instantly Jim craved more. The tea tasted of flowers and rain and green grass. It tasted like Blair. That last thought startled him, even though a part of him acknowledged the rightness of it. Jim shied away from that idea. Time for some conversation.

"So, Sandburg. Pretty good tea, there."

"Well, that's what I call being damned with faint praise." Blair laughed. "I'm glad you like it."

Jim smiled sheepishly. "Actually, I must confess that I love it. Between this and the hot shower, I'm beginning to feel human again. Can you tell me what's in the tea? I can't quite place all the different flavors."

Blair shook his head. "Weellll, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

Jim chuckled in reply and tossed a cushion at the other man. "Fine, keep your little secret. I'm going to go put some clothes on."

With that, Jim rose from the sofa and, as he walked past the window, noticed that the rain had finally stopped. Thank god.

"Hey, Blair. The rain's stopped."

"Great! Hurry and get dressed. Maybe we'll be able to go for a walk. I still have to convince you that spring doesn't suck, you know."

Jim took the stairs two at a time, suddenly feeling very light-hearted. Blair seemed to be doing a mighty fine job so far. Jim wondered, not for the first time, how Blair seemed to know him so well. It was such a subtle thing, the way Sandburg had entered his home and then become a part of his life. When had that happened? Jim shook his head. These thoughts were always dangerous. They tended to segue into feelings and emotions better left unexplored. It was enough for now just to revel in their friendship.

Blair's voice calling to him was a welcome interruption.

"Jim, hurry up, man! There's a rainbow here you've got to see!"

Jim called back, "I'm on my way, Sandburg!", and quickly grabbed some sweats and a tee shirt. He realized as he put on the pants that he was going commando but decided to live dangerously for once. What the hell - it was supposed to be spring.

Jim ran back down the stairs, pulling on his shirt as he went. Blair had the French doors open and was standing on the balcony. Jim joined him, and they stood silently side-by-side. Jim followed the rainbow to its end; fancifully imagining he could see the pot of gold. He chuckled to himself at that bit of whimsy, and Blair turned to eye him quizzically.

Jim shrugged self-consciously as he said, "Just being silly, Chief. Nothing important."

Blair continued to stare, saying nothing, just smiling that little half-smile of his. Jim knew it was only a matter of time before he cracked. Might as well get it over with.

"Okay, okay! Sheesh, is nothing sacred any more? I was just trying to see the pot of gold. I know it's silly, and I haven't done it since I was a kid. But today, for some reason, I thought I might just get lucky."

Blair's smile widened, and Jim answered with one of his own, waiting for the other man to laugh at such foolishness. But Blair didn't laugh. He just continued to smile and then patted Jim on the arm briefly before turning away. Jim felt that strange sensation in the pit of his stomach again and had to swallow hard against a sudden lump in his throat, almost missing what Blair was murmuring.

"'When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be....'"

"That sounds familiar. Is it part of a poem, Chief?"

"It's Tennyson. I've always wondered if he knew about sentinels, especially when I think of this verse. And it's quite appropriate for today, too. Since we're trying to change your mind about spring and all."

"Ah. How does the rest of it go?"

"Hmm, let's see if I can remember." Jim watched as Blair closed his eyes and bit on his lower lip in concentration. Jim had to fight a sudden urge to save that poor lip from any further mangling and turned his head in order to compose himself. What was it with these strange random thoughts? Jim was saved again when Blair began speaking.

"'In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring...."
Blair abruptly stopped. "I can't remember the rest."

It was Jim's turn to stare as an interesting shade of red worked its way up Blair's neck and face. Blair was worrying that lower lip again, always a sure sign that there was something more here than met the eye. Jim was about to quiz him when Blair turned and walked back into the living room.

"Come on, Jim! I promised you a walk, so let's go before the weather decides to change again."

Jim followed more slowly, deciding to let it go for now.

***

Once outside in the watery sunshine, Jim took an appreciative breath. The air was redolent with the scent of spring flowers and, miracle of miracles, Jim wasn't sneezing. That tea really was a wonder cure. Or maybe it was the company.

Jim smiled as he gazed at his partner. They had walked down to the waterfront, and now Blair stood with his head raised to the sky, eyes closed, a blissful look on his face. It was a rare treat to see Sandburg so peaceful, and Jim drank in his fill. Then Blair opened his eyes, and they made eye contact. That feeling was back again the instant their eyes met, and the glow Jim felt in the pit of his stomach began radiating outward, infusing his whole body with heat.

Jim tore his eyes away, confused and unsure as to what exactly was happening. A gentle hand on his arm brought him back, and Jim looked down at the sturdy fingers encircling his wrist. The touch grounded him, and he was able to look Blair in the face again. Seeing nothing in Blair's expression but the usual openness of his guide, Jim relaxed. A momentary aberration, Jim concluded, brought on by spring fever.

"Come on, Chief. Let's keep walking."

With that, Jim began a leisurely stroll along the walkway. Blair was at his side, and the two made desultory conversation, but more often than not, they just walked in companionable silence.

The scent of the spring flowers tickled at Jim's nose, but for once, there was no urge to sneeze. He took a deep breath and decided that the fragrance of spring was intoxicating, to say the least. Now, this was more like it. And the warmth of the sun was finally penetrating, making him feel quite cozy.

Jim stopped walking when he noticed that another rainbow had formed. This one had a perfect arch and all the colors stood out in brilliant contrast against the gray of the sky. Jim had that crazy impulse again; it was definitely calling him to follow the rainbow to its end. Jim scanned the sky overhead and decided that the end of the rainbow (or beginning - how could you really tell?) was more or less in the direction of the loft.

The decision was made almost before Jim realized it himself. With a quick 'Come on, Sandburg!', he was off, hotfooting it across the park, suddenly anxious to get there before the rainbow dissipated. Jim spared a glance over his shoulder, and was surprisingly gratified to see Blair right there behind him, a big grin on his face.

Once they reached the edge of the park, Jim retraced the rainbow. It was starting to disappear, and Jim quickened his pace, not wanting to lose it now. It really did appear to be close to the apartment. Jim hurried along the street, hearing Blair panting softly behind him. He stopped at the street light across from the apartment building and waited impatiently for it to turn green.

The rainbow was definitely coming from that area, and Jim felt a surge of excitement. He knew it was silly, but he'd wanted to do this since he was a kid and had never before been so close. But just as the light turned green, Jim felt a raindrop on his arm, and by the time the two of them had crossed the street, the heavens had opened.

The rainbow was gone.

Swallowing his disappointment, Jim pulled Blair into the first vacant doorway to get out of the downpour. They were both soaked to the skin, and Blair was shivering again.

"S-s-sorry you didn't find the end, man," Blair said, teeth chattering.

Jim shrugged. "It's okay. Stupid idea. Foolish, really."

"It's never foolish to follow a dream, Jim."

Jim glanced down at Blair. The intensity in Blair's voice was matched only by the intensity in his eyes. The warmth was back in the pit of Jim's stomach, but this time it was accompanied by an inexplicable ache in his chest. Jim inhaled deeply, trying to shake the sensation. It didn't help, and if anything, made matters worse. Because now he could smell Blair, and the scent was making him light-headed.

"You okay, Jim?" Blair asked.

Jim couldn't help smiling at Blair's concern. The warmth intensified, and Jim suddenly identified it as happiness. He hadn't experienced it in a long while, and he laughed for the sheer joy of it. Blair appeared confused but started to chuckle along with Jim.

It was the sight of Blair's up-turned laughing face that finally caused the penny to drop for Jim. It wasn't just happiness but love he was feeling. He loved Blair.

He was in love with Blair.

God, he could get addicted to this feeling. Jim laughed out loud as he realized that the rainbow had ended here after all. All that mother-henning and concern from Blair; it suddenly made perfect sense. He swept Blair up in a hug that the other man returned, and then whispered in Blair's ear, "You're the pot of gold, Chief."

Blair pulled back partway and stared at Jim. "I'm not sure I understand."

"It's you, Blair. You're what I've been searching for. The rainbow ended here, and you're the pot of gold I've been looking for all my life. I love you, Blair."

Oh, god. Had he said too much? Was he reading Blair wrong?

"Oh, man...." Jim watched as Blair swallowed convulsively and then opened and closed his mouth, seemingly without words for once. Damn. He knew he shouldn't have said anything. When was he going to learn that dreams were better left for the dreamers?

Jim turned away and concentrated on the rain, trying to gauge when to make a run for the loft. He ignored the touch of Blair's hand on his forearm, and wracked his brain to come up with a plausible excuse for what he had blurted out.

"Jim, look at me." A small shake of the arm. Blair was persistent - he had to give him that.

"Jim." A strong hand grasped Jim's chin, forcing it back around. Jim resisted, but the hand was insistent. What could Jim do? He turned.

He turned and looked into the eyes of love. Breathing a silent thank you, Jim brought his hands up to Blair's face, cupping it gently. Blair gave a gentle smile, and Jim was undone.

He leaned down slightly and brushed a kiss across those tantalizing lips. It wasn't enough, and Jim had to come back for another and then another. Each kiss grew in intensity, and when Jim opened his mouth slightly, Blair was right there, exploring Jim with his tongue. The essence of Blair exploded across Jim's taste buds, and he groaned and pulled Blair closer to him, ravaging Blair's mouth. He could feel the heat of Blair's body against him, and the hard need of Blair's erection pulsed in time with Jim's own.

It was too much too fast, and Jim ended the kiss reluctantly, suddenly aware of exactly where they were. Blair moaned forlornly, and the sound almost made Jim forget his intentions.

"Come on, Chief. Let's get inside."

Jim held Blair's hand as they made a dash for their building, both of them laughing madly. Blair came to an abrupt stop, jerking at Jim's arm. Jim wasn't sure what was going on when Blair raised his face and arms to the heavens, spinning in a giant circle.

"I love spring!" With that yell, Blair made a dash for the loft.

By the time Jim recovered and chased after his Guide, Blair was already unlocking the door and bolting inside. Jim laughed anew as he followed the trail of wet clothes up the stairs to his bedroom. He stopped short at the sight of Blair on his bed, sitting cross-legged and drying his hair with one of Jim's towels. His breath caught in his throat, and he closed his eyes briefly as the love he felt for the other man threatened to overwhelm him.

His eyes flew open again when Blair spoke softly, reciting the same verse as he had earlier.

"'When I dipt into the future far has human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be -

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;
In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;
In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.'"

Jim's heart swelled even more at hearing the end of the poem.

"God, I love you, Blair."

Jim made his way slowly to the bed, peeling off his shirt as he went. He kicked off his shoes and with one motion, pulled off the sweat pants. Blair's eyes widened, but this time he didn't look away, and Jim grinned as he knelt on the bed. He grabbed the towel from Blair's hand and then lightly pushed him back onto the mattress, following him down.

Jim groaned at the first sensation of skin against skin, and heard Blair's answering moan. The sound shot right to his cock, and Jim knew, without a doubt, that this first time was going to be down and dirty and over far too quickly. In short - perfect.

Jim captured Blair's lips, reacquainting himself with the unique flavor of his love. All too soon, that wasn't enough, and Jim kissed his way to Blair's ear, stopping briefly to sweep his tongue along the outer edge, then gently nipping at the lobe. Blair arched his back and grabbed at Jim, baring his neck. It was an invitation that Jim didn't have the heart to refuse.

The pulse at Blair's throat was pounding beneath Jim's mouth. Jim sucked at the pulse point, reveling in the taste of Blair skin as he licked at the passion mark he'd left behind. Jim had to find more of that elusive flavor, so he continued licking and nipping his way down Blair's chest until he came to one nipple. Jim softly licked at the erect pap, then sucked it into his mouth and worried it gently with his teeth. Blair wailed and clutched at Jim's head, holding him in place briefly, then guiding Jim's head over to the other nipple.

Jim was more than happy to oblige and delicately tugged on the ring threaded there. Blair screamed.

"Jimjimjim. Ohmygod - I'm gonna...."

Jim smothered the rest of the sentence, stealing Blair's breath and making it his own. Blair was writhing beneath him, and Jim gave a gasp as his cock slid along Blair's length. Jim gave a tentative thrust, and that was all it took. Blair wrapped his legs around Jim's waist and drove his hips upward in a punishing rhythm.

Jim plundered at Blair's mouth, dueling with Blair's tongue, establishing a rhythm of his own. Then Jim felt Blair's hand holding their cocks together. He carded his hands in Blair's hair and held on, kissing Blair savagely, losing himself in that ancient dance, and sobbing into Blair's mouth as he came.

And when he felt the heat of Blair's semen on his belly, he cried out and came again, losing himself joyously in his senses.

An eternity later, he returned to himself to feel Blair gently stroking his cheek.

"Hi," Jim murmured.

"Hi yourself. You okay?"

Jim stretched and then realized that Blair must have moved him.

"I'm fine. Are you okay?"

Blair gave a radiant smile and replied, "Never better, man. I love you, you know."

Jim returned the smile with one of his own. "I know. I love you, too, Blair." Jim's smile widened. "You want to know what else I love, Chief?"

"What?"

Jim pulled his Guide into a hug as he whispered, "I love spring."

The End

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Acknowledgements: I would first like to give a huge thanks to Patt, because without her encouragement and invite, I wouldn't be here! And also to Lisa, for the warm welcome to the insanity that is MME! My heartfelt thanks to Diana for the great beta work and to Barb (Agt Spooky) for the wonderful artwork. What a privilege it is to work with the two of you!

This is dedicated to B - my sister of the heart. She is my inspiration to write.