Follow-Through - akablonded
Jesus H. Christ. Is he ever going to come out here? I’ve been waiting for him, feels like, for hours.
Truth be told, I guess I’ve been waiting for someone like Blair Sandburg my whole sorry-assed life.
No, not someone like him. Him. Because, my hand to God, there is no one else like him.
I’ve been pegged by powers higher than myself to be the Protector of Blair Jacob Sandburg. In the flesh. In the blood. In the soul. I can’t figure out how I got so blessed. Or cursed, depending on the day and hour. Sandburg says it’s because I saved his life. And the Chinese say that that once you’ve done that, it’s your duty to continue forever. That, and care for them.
Care for Blair, I do. It’s been a tough thing for me, since I haven’t had a lot of practice at it. Caring, that is. I always seem to care for the wrong person. Again and again and again.
But this time, it’s the right one. And caring for, hell, cherishing, and loving the right one should be easier, shouldn’t it?
The flip side of it is that it’s harder, because if I get this one wrong, I am seriously fucked.
I’ve got to stay focused here. I’m better than I used to be about zoneouts these days, what with Blair at my back - and my side - to help me keep my senses in line.
But why does it feel like one slip up, one stray thought to what it’s going to be like to finally have all of my Guide under me, and over me, and around me, and, Jesus, in me and I’ll skid into a …
Shit. How long has it been? 8:35. Only a few minutes according to the wall clock. You know what it’s like when you try not to think about something? Or someone? That’s what I’m up against here. Not trying to imagine Blair as mine. All mine. No more being on the outside of his chaotic, bursting-at-the-seams life. No more being just a convenient shoulder to cry on when every Chris, Iris, or, damn-her-to-hell, Maya takes him, chews him up, then spits him out. No more sporting a mosaic of a heart from Blair Sandburg being anybody’s but mine.
I need a beer. The first of many, I think.
See, this thing between us stopped being about friendship for me a long time ago, when I had more hair, more muscle, and a whole lot less sense than I do now.
Shit, let me get Sandburg’s friggin’ twig tea started.
So that’s why I’m sitting here in my living room, in front of the fireplace, waiting to see if my partner comes through his bedroom door any time soon, and what his face tells me.
If he changed that clever, unfathomable mind of his - which he’s certainly capable of doing, the little S.O.B. - how will we backtrack to being friends? Best friends, the best ever, but only friends?
Blair’d figure out how do it. He’s more intuitive, and a damned-sight smarter than anybody I know. Sandburg’s also got a truckload of compassion, so he’d be able to juggle it all, inflicting the least amount of trauma to yours truly. Just like the Chopec ripping an arrow out of your shoulder. They do it, no preamble, but first they drug you good enough so that you don’t care. (Which is alright, until the drug wears off. Then a side trip to Hell would be a pleasant alternative.) Blair would make me see how not being involved was the only sensible choice that a Guide and Sentinel can make. To be on the same path, always together, but forever apart.
Me? To save face, I’d pretend that it was all right. And, I guess, for a little while, it would be. Cop partners and roommates, but at the end of the day, he’d go his way and I’d go mine. It would last maybe a month, if I stayed drunk enough. Then, my real feelings would start to leak out. Erupt is more like it. I end up fighting with him, savaging him about everything under the sun - except it .
I can’t go back. I know it as sure as my name’s Jim Ellison. I can’t take the words back. I can’t take the feelings back. I can’t take my love back. Blair’s got them all. He’s the other part of me – the best part.
How can he drink this? It smells awful. “Sandburg, your tea’s ready.”
Ah, he lives. But still no movement in there. And, believe me, I’d know. On a good day, I can tell you which particular piece of clothing the kid’s putting on just by how it sounds gliding over his body. Flannel on skin is different from denim or suede to a Sentinel’s ears. And when he throw on anything silky, shit, I almost shoot my wad at the sensations it produces in parts of me a lot lower than my brain. (Sorry about being so crude. But you might as well know how it is. It ain’t good.)
Yeah, definitely, I need another beer. Back then - when I first was … swamped is the only word that comes to mind … by Blair Sandburg, I saw him as a necessary evil. A pain in the ass, thorn in my side, know-it-all, neo-hippie, witchdoctor-punk answer to the weird, unnerving situation I’d found myself in as an unclaimed and untrained Sentinel. Senses on overload, with no control or hope of finding any.
He certainly has balls. You gotta give Sandburg that. From day one, at Cascade General Hospital, when he walked in, scammed me into thinking he was an MD, to practically luring me to his broom closet of an office at Rainier University. All of which was only marginally less ridiculous than my agreeing to take him on as a partner, no matter how unofficial it was. When everybody at Major Crimes treated Blair like my shadow, my whipping boy, or, worst, like a cop groupie, he just kept smiling, put his little bulldog head down, and slogged relentlessly through all the crap. Sandburg did it long enough to make everybody - including our captain, Simon Banks, who’s big enough and mean enough to have him for lunch - come to respect his brainpower, his courage, and his devotion to me. Does that word sound sappy? But devotion it is.
Blair belongs with me. I belong with him. And to him. I wonder if he knows that?
That’s why he was in that damned alley and almost got killed. Again. Several of us from Metro had been chasing scumbag mafioso Pat “Patsy” D'Ambrosio and some of his family members down in Little Italy. Joey “the Chisel” Petosa (where the fuck do they get these monikers?), who hates me on a personal level, decided that he’d burst my particular bubble by using Sandburg for target practice. Of course, when you’re using an AK-47, the target’s pretty much going to be obliterated. There’d only be enough to pick up with a squeegee. A very, very small squeegee.
Luckily, I heard the big bull of a man swearing under his extremely-bad breath, as he began to squeeze the trigger. I reached out instinctively, grabbed Sandburg around the waist, and threw him roughly onto to the ground, fell on top of him and propelled the two of us to safety behind a foul-smelling restaurant dumpster nearby.
Christ, what a stink. I almost lost it, the smell was so overwhelming. Summer sun on three days of garbage will do that for you.
My senses were just about to gray out when the damnedest thing happened. From under me, Sandburg wiggled a little, lifted up that gorgeous face of his and bit my bottom lip. His surprisingly-strong grip pulled me down closer. Even with his mouth half-full, I heard my partner whisper "I love you, big guy." Christ, he’d said it. He’d used the actual words, the ones that had been stuck in my throat for what seemed like forever. Sandburg then proceeded to try to suck my face off. I’m not sure how long we stayed in that position, but I know it was long enough for me to get harder than I’ve ever been in my forty-something life. All I could think of was how much I wanted Blair. Right then and there. I wanted to take him. To have him. To fuck him into another zip code. But I had to stop. We were moving too fast, even if it had taken us three years to get here where “X” marks the spot. In a dumpster, ripening under a cloudless, blue Cascade sky.
I willed my body to pull itself together, rolled off him less than gently, and then ordered, “Sandburg, we have to talk. But not now.”
“No argument here, Jim. We do stink on ice. Let’s go.”
Nothing’s happened since then, really, no thanks to Mr. Hormones ‘R Us in the next room. Even "easy" stuff has been damned difficult. All the necking, groping, the feeling-up. Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention the hot talk? Believe me when I tell you this, Blair Sandburg can talk a better game in the sex area than any 10 other people I can think of, including Dr. Ruth. For the life of me, I don’t know where he comes up with this stuff. And if he’s making it up as he goes along, I’ll be dead within the year. Hell, if I make it to autumn, I’ll be lucky.
You’d think after all this time, I’d be the last one to say “whoa.” But I wanted Blair to be sure. I needed both of us to be sure. And in between all of the stuff he wickedly suggested, to push me over the edge, I found out my Guide truly loves me, and is "in love" with me. So, when I finally decided that we were going to happen, I was fully prepared to take this nice and easy.
With Blair Sandburg’s motor running as hot as it was, what the hell was I thinking? He was all for hitting the sheets as fast as we could get out of our clothes. But I needed to know if this was love for him, or just incredible nervousness on the part of a 30-year-old virgin to get it over with.
Yeah, I’d pretty much figured out that Blair was cherry with men.
So that means that I’ll be the first. And I want to be the “only” for Sandburg. I never, ever want Blair to experience anything but joy and care and love. I want it to be nothing like what happened to me. It wasn’t a first-time I’d wish on anybody. Sordid’s the word that comes to mind. Ugly’s another. Unpleasant, a third. And for as much pain as there was – and there was plenty to go around, believe me – it was nothing compared to the humiliation and self-loathing. Even as a kid, I was bisexual, but I didn’t have a “name” for it. I only knew that I liked girls – but I craved guys. Being big for my age and made to feel like a freak by my dad because of my “gifts,” I was the classic easy prey for the wrong kind of person. My looks, the fact that I was an always athlete in training, working out to build and keep my body in peak condition, seemed to send out signals to a certain type of predator.
When I was 17, the one who decided that I’d be a summer’s worth of fun was a golfing buddy of my old man’s. Ironic, huh? Ellison’s weird kid wasn’t good enough to spend more than a few minutes here and there with “Wild Bill,” but he was good enough to fuck and be fucked by one of father’s country club cronies. What a pathetic reason to do anything - me trying to even the score, my “lover” trying to reclaim a piece of his youth with a piece of young ass.
As I got older, the experiences were better. At least, they were for the right reasons. Some made me think happiness was possible. Others convinced me that the emotion was meant for others. Never anyone named Ellison.
I’m trying my level best to figure out if Blair and I will have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it. Listen, I’ve been there, done that, and have the bloodstains on my tee-shirt to prove it.
Love isn’t enough. It should be everything. In a perfect world - or on a desert island - it would be. But the last time I checked, we both lived in Cascade, WA. And anyway you dice it or slice it, that’s a piece of a kick-you-in-the-ass-until-your-nose-bleeds real estate. God, supposing we were found out. We don’t work only with the people in Major Crimes, who are, by and large, our friends. In my “Dirty Harry cop world,” there are still way too many incidences of slow or no response to cops who - what’s the party line these days - “have chosen to adopt alternative life styles.” Me, I’d take whatever comes, if it meant having Blair Sandburg, even for a little while. But if anything ever happened to him because he committed the ultimate sin of loving me, I couldn’t. And, my hand to God, I’d send everybody responsible to hell – before I followed them all.
Jesus, what’s wrong with me? Here, I should be doing war hoops because Blair Sandburg loves me. And wants me. At least as of an hour ago. That was before I scared the living daylights out of him. A bull in a china shop could learn a thing or two from me. I thought he was going to swallow his tongue, outright. He was soaked to the bone. “Take those off!” I’d ordered him. He looked like a deer caught in the headlights. My voice startled him into clutching at his shirt and pants. He looked like a scared 12-year-old. “What?” He sputtered, his heart racing. Then he saw I was I pointing to his wet shoes and socks.
“Oh, uh … yeah … uh … OK.”
“What did you think I meant, chief?” My voice wasn’t as rocky as I felt at that moment.
“Nothing, man. Doc Martin’s, argyles, that’s all.”
That just about tore it. “Sure, if you say so.” I’d pulled yet another colossal Jim Ellison screw-up out of thin air.
I sent him off to take a shower, to bide my time. I even tried to bribe him back into some sort of comfort level by an offer of tea. “I’ll make that twig stuff you like.”
“Uh … Jim … I …”
“Go ahead, Sandburg. I’m not going anywhere.”
“OK, I’ll be out in a bit. OK?”
I didn’t know what to say. Because I didn’t honestly know if it was OK. Or if we’d be OK.
Then Blair ran away, and hid in the shower until I could almost hear his skin puckering from the cold water. I wanted so badly to strip, climb in there with him, and just hug his fears away. But, I couldn’t take the chance, as skittish as he was acting. I was afraid I’d do something so stupid, even I’d be surprised by it.
Fifteen minutes ago, I did go and rescue Sandburg from pneumonia by pulling him out of the frigid stream of icy water (I gotta do something about the hot water heater) and pretty much carried him into his room to get dressed. If nothing else, to get warm. The hardest thing I’ve had to do – at least tonight - was not put a naked Blair down on his futon and make love to him. I’ve lead men into combat, headed countless missions and fought nameless wars. I was scared. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
But not half so scared as I am now. Will I still be sitting in front of this damned fireplace by myself, this time tomorrow? Will I be nursing this beer, or one of its many relatives? So many questions. So few fucking answers.
I wish I had the kid’s way with words. Inside, I feel gentle, tender even. And I’ve got a dozen great speeches with his name stamped on them. But something always happens between, “I love you, Blair Sandburg, more than I ever thought it was humanly possible to love someone else” rattling around, deep, deep inside this old carcass to the way it comes out. “Yeah, me, too, chief. Got a problem with that?”
“I love you, Jim.” Blair’s standing in his doorway. He sees the look of hesitance on my face.
“I said ‘I love you, Jim.’ You look like shit. Say something.”
“I want … I just … I …” If I could just form the words.
“What? You want to fuck me? To love me? To grow old with me? To eat the last Ringding left in the box?”
“There’s one left? You hid it from me, didn’t you, you little packrat!”
“Uh … Jim … I think you’re missing the point here.” He crosses over to where I’m sitting, grabs my hand and cossets it on his eager dick which is seeking out my palm like a new puppy looking for a safe, warm place to curl up.
Jesus. I can feel the blood surging, the moisture radiating from that remarkable organ. Sandburg’s so hot, I think I’m getting singed from the contact. Now he’s moving my fingertips around to grab that firm, tantalizing ass of his. It fits neatly into my grasp, as though some cosmic Bob Villa designed it from a master set of blueprints.
“You and me, Jim … there’s nothing to be afraid of. We’re where we’re supposed to be. Together.”
Well fuck. I mean fuck. What do you say to something like that?
Sandburg throws back his head and laughs at what he’s called my ‘delightful economy with words.’ He looks enormously pleased with himself.
“So, kiss me already, you damned tall drink of water.“ Blair also seems pretty pleased with me, as he stands up on tiptoes to kiss me full on the mouth. I can’t protest. I can’t think. I can only tumble into the swirl of pheromones and saliva and untold want for this man. When we finally break apart with sound effects usually reserved for overworked sub-pumps, my ex-professor pats my forearms fondly, He takes the opportunity to throw a philosophy in my direction: “It’s good to be the Guide.”
As Blair pulls me teasingly, affectionately, inexorably, upstairs to the big bed - our bed, I guess, from now on - flashing a smile that would melt Permafrost, I’m beginning to think about what our life is going to be like together. God, let me make this man as happy as he’s made me – and give me strength to keep up with him. As I watch that great ass marching up the steps, and know that the heartbeat I hear is racing for me, and me alone, I guess Sandburg’s answer to the big question was “yes.”
You know, as I walk along, obediently, behind my guide, I think it’s not all that shabby being the Sentinel, either.
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