Communication Breakdown - Lyn
Sandburg's out on the town again. That makes six nights out of seven this week, and while it doesn't surprise me - he's a popular guy - I can feel a vague uneasiness beginning to take hold in my gut.
He's been a detective for six months now and my official partner for three, after doing a quick rotation through the various departments. Over my vociferous protests, the Chief of Police insisted that the only way we could get around allowing a self-proclaimed fraud to join the force, was to do things by the book. Well, as much by the book as we have been, before Blair’s dissertation was made public and everything went to hell in a handbasket.
Sandburg got a badge instead of a doctorate and I got to keep my secret and Blair at my side. Nobody knows about my senses except the Chief, Blair, and our close-knit team in Major Crime.
He's a better cop than he ever gives himself credit for. The observational skills honed by years as an anthropologist have been invaluable to us all, and while I don't think he'll ever carry a gun with ease, he's adapted, knows it’s something he has to deal with just as he has so often in the past.
The partnership's going well and it's good to know we're not hiding him behind a long-outdated ride-along pass any more. Our arrest rate is second to none, and there's been talk of a promotion for both of us.
Things have changed though, and I’m thinking I need to back off a little or the past four years are going to have been for nothing. While I'd be happy enough to say so be it and walk away, call it my penance, I can't cheapen the career and life he's sacrificed. If I don't handle this properly tonight, I'm going to lose him, and not just as my partner.
Let's take it back a little. One week ago, Sunday night. We were on our way home from the precinct. It had been pretty full on in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. It's not uncommon, desperate people get more desperate over what everyone laughingly refers to as the festive season. We were both worn down, burned out from the horror stories and sadness of seeing families disintegrate with violence over too little money and too much booze.
Blair was feeling it more than the rest of us. I don't think it's something he'll ever get used to, regardless of the number of times I spout that 'check your emotions at the door' speech.
His eyes were shadowed, his features drawn, and I could tell he had a monster headache by the way his hand kept stealing up to rub inconspicuously, or so he thought, at his head. I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen him smile, and his normal exuberance and verbosity had trickled away to be replaced by thoughtful, sad looks and one word answers.
I was too tired to eat, but knew we both needed to. We'd been running on fumes and Wonderburger for the better part of the week, and even my fondness for fast food was beginning to wane. I slowed as we approached a late night Thai takeout restaurant just down the road from the loft.
"Why don't we get some Thai for dinner, Chief?"
It took him a moment to respond but just as I was about to reach out and nudge him, he turned to look at me. "Nah. You go ahead. I'm not hungry."
I debated arguing with him, but didn’t have the heart to when I saw how exhausted he looked, and the emptiness in his eyes almost unhinged me completely. Shrugging, I pulled the truck into a parking space and climbed out, leaving the engine running and the heater on in deference to the chilly evening. "Only be a couple of minutes."
He nodded absently and resumed his vacant stare out the window. Making a swift decision, wanting to get home as quickly as I could, for both of our sakes, I opted for some noodles and added a serve of soup to the list in my head, just in case the smell would be enough to tempt Blair to eat something after all.
I wasn't in the restaurant that long, couldn't have been more than ten minutes. I walked out to a scene that made my stomach clench, and I was sure for a moment that my heart stopped.
Blair was half in, half out of the passenger side of the truck, wrestling frantically with a large, heavily muscled man. A smaller youth was inside the cab attempting to throw the truck into reverse. I was stunned into inactivity for a split second by the horrified thought that I hadn't heard a damn thing. The rough weeks had taken their toll on my senses, I knew, but I had no idea just how much, and it said a lot for Sandburg's state of health that he hadn't picked up on it either.
Blair looked up at me in the same instant that I whipped my gun from its holster and aimed it at the carjackers, dropping the takeout containers on the ground, ignoring the splatter of food over my pants. "Freeze. Cascade PD."
The reaction was instantaneous. The guy Blair was wrestling with dragged him bodily from the truck. One strongly muscled arm wrapped tightly around Blair's throat, forcing a gasp of pain from him. The perp brought his other hand up, bearing a wicked-looking blade, double-edged, I could see, and dug it into Blair's neck. "Back off, cop, or I'll slice him ear to ear."
I was unerringly drawn to the thin ribbon of blood that snaked immediately down Blair's throat and gathered in the hollow. I stood my ground. Blair's face was red from lack of oxygen, his eyes bulging as he clawed futilely at the strangling chokehold. The second youth had climbed from the cab and stood in the roadway, his wide-eyed stare flickering from me to his partner in crime. Then with a frightened cry, he took off across the road like a startled rabbit. I let him go. I had more important things on my mind.
The red of Blair's blood drew me in again and a low growl of anger rumbled from my throat. Stalemate, and no guarantee if I dropped my weapon that he wouldn't just cut Sandburg's throat anyway.
Blair bucked suddenly in his captor's arms, taking the decision out of my hands and causing the knife to dig a little more deeply, but also giving me the opening I needed as the punk committed his second biggest mistake and took his attention off me. I fired once and Blair pulled away as his attacker was flung backward, his skull exploding.
I kept my gun trained on the guy until I got up close and kicked the blade away. His sightless eyes stared up at the sky, and I knew there was no need to check for a pulse. Behind me, I heard violent retching, and I turned my attention to Sandburg. He was kneeling by the front wheel of the truck, puking his guts into the gutter. I had the inane thought that he'd feel better if he’d had something in his stomach to throw up.
Crossing over to him, I rubbed a hand along his back, feeling the spasms finally ease. He dropped his head forward and rested it against the truck.
"You all right?" I asked him, feeling tremors still shuddering through him. "You need an ambulance?"
He shook his head. "I'm okay," he replied, sounding raspy.
I waited a moment, wanting to stay connected to him as my own thoughts ran rampant with visions of what might have been. Finally I stood, my legs feeling decidedly shaky. "I’d better call it in."
He nodded again, but didn't seem to want to shift just yet, so I shrugged out of my jacket and draped it over his shoulders. He looked up, nodding gratefully and flashed me a wan smile.
I left him there and went around to the passenger side of the truck to pull his cell phone carefully from his backpack. The other guy was still out there and I was careful not to ruin any prints that might be in the truck.
When we finally got home, two hours later, he was still shaky, and I have to admit I was feeling none too steady myself. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it, clutching my jacket tightly around his shoulders.
"Sorry," he whispered, and I winced at the rusty sound of his voice. "Fine cop I am."
I shook my head and turned to him. "You did everything right," I replied, a little surprised at the waver in my own voice. "I'd be more worried if you weren't upset." I took a step closer, running a finger gently over the shallow cut in his neck… and suddenly what Blair calls my Blessed Protector instincts tipped into overdrive.
My hands ghosted over his body, slowly at first, feeling every bone, every inch of flesh as I bent forward to bury my face in his hair. I pressed my fingers to the pulse in his neck, feeling it thump reassuringly against my fingertips.
He stiffened just for a minute then relaxed under my questing touch. I couldn't get enough of him, couldn't get close enough.
The smell of him was intoxicating, and I couldn't hold back a groan as I felt myself harden. I lifted my head, and touched my tongue to his lips, at the same time, slipping one hand into the open neck of his shirt, to skim over soft chest hair and lie flat-palmed over his heart. He moaned and opened his mouth and that was my undoing.
I must have zoned on the proximity of him -- or maybe that's just my excuse, because I can't face up to what followed. I came up for air, God knows how long later, to find my hands entangled in his hair, my lips pressed down upon his almost savagely, my tongue delving in to taste him. Blair's head was thrown back, his eyes closed, hot breath panting rapidly through full lips as he pushed back against me. It was the most beautiful sight I'd ever seen. I dived back in to taste him again, felt his cock digging into my thigh and my own erection so hard, it throbbed with need.
We stood there, Blair leaning back against the door, my body draped over him, my hand still stroking across his chest. He moved finally and opened his eyes. Then he looked away, and shame smothered me. I stepped back, giving him room to move around me. He stared at me for a long moment, his chest still heaving then turned toward his bedroom. "I'm going to take a shower," he said so softly I could scarcely make out the words.
I rushed to shore up what I saw as our perfect little world shattering around us. "Blair! It wasn't what you think."
He smiled, looking inordinately sad. "I know."
He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. I heard the lock snick, the sound deafening in my ears.
Which brings us to now. Neither of us has spoken about what happened that night. Hell, we didn't talk about it then. Blair showered and went to bed, and the next morning we got up and went back to work as though nothing had changed. Except it has, and it scares me to death.
Blair has been slowly, carefully, resolutely increasing the gap between us. He walks around me now in ever-widening circles instead of reaching across me for the juice in the morning. He's moved his desk chair at work, so that it sits at the farthest edge, and his inbox rests between us. He's gone out every night this week; not returning until almost dawn, smelling of booze and looking like something the cat's dragged in. My voiced concern about him burning the candle at both ends received the fiery and uncharacteristic remark that it was his life and I should stay out of it.
The gap has become a chasm, and until tonight I thought I knew why. I forced myself on him, betrayed him in the worst possible way, and he's been pulling away from me ever since. I've finally faced up to the truth that this is nothing to do with being a Sentinel, and everything to do with admitting to myself who I am. I got a phone call tonight, and what I was told has forced me to rethink everything about our relationship, and most importantly about me, about us.
Tonight's the night we finally talk. I've been waiting here in the dark for two hours, and I can hear him trudging up the stairs to our floor. Elevator must be out again. I take a deep breath as the door opens quietly. I risk losing the only thing that's important to me if I don't handle this right.
"Have a good night?"
He jumps a little when I speak, but recovers quickly. In the darkness, I see him shrug as he takes off his jacket and hangs it on the hook behind the door.
"Yeah, you know. Same old, same old."
"Who was it tonight?"
He reacts instantly, his stance defensive. "Nobody you know." He hesitates. "Why?"
"I think we need to talk about what happened last week."
He crosses the room, moving out a little as he realizes he has to walk past me to get to his room. "I'm beat. We can talk tomorrow."
I reach out and grasp his wrist, pulling him to a stop.
"Hey!" He fights to wrench free from my grip, but I just as firmly hold on. "You're hurting me."
"No, I'm not. We need to talk - now."
He suddenly seems to cave in on himself as a heavy sigh escapes his lips. "Nothing to talk about. I figure you had an adrenaline surge, which sent you into a primal overdrive. You didn't hurt me, and I'm fine with it."
"Why not?" He sounds exasperated.
"I know you've been spending every night this week alone at a bar."
"How do you…." He waves the question away. "Never mind, doesn't matter."
"I told you that night that it wasn't what you thought."
"And I told you I understood." He's speaking slowly, patiently as though to a slow-learning child.
"You can't understand what you wouldn't let me explain, Blair. You want to tell me why you've been spending every night this week, drinking on your own?"
"I've had a lot on my mind. I needed to think."
"Where are you going with this, Jim?" He's getting edgy, and I know I'm on the right track. "We've got to be at work in three hours." He makes another abortive attempt to free his hand. Damn, he's a strong little fucker.
"What happened the other night made me face up to my feelings for you. It might have been a primal behavioral instinct, and God help me, if I hurt you in anyway, I'll go turn myself over to Simon right now. It doesn't change the fact that what I did was wrong, forcing myself on you that way, but it's something that I've wanted for a very long time, only I was too blind and embarrassed to admit it."
He goes very still. "Embarrassed?"
"I guess there are things about me I never wanted to face up to and being in love with another man was one of them. You know me, the master of avoidance."
"Are you saying you're in love with me?"
I run my free hand over my face. I'm shaking. "Yeah."
I wait for the explosion, but to my utter surprise, he laughs. He shifts his hand in my grip, not trying to get away now, just angling it so that he can lower himself to sit on the arm of my chair. I feel my hope increase incrementally.
"Shit," he says with the most feeling I've heard in his voice for weeks. "Aren't we a pair?"
We're both silent for a long time. He turns a little so he's facing me. I doubt he can see much in the darkened room. "Jim, when you told me it wasn't what I thought it was, I thought you were telling me that it meant nothing, that it was just a Sentinel thing."
"You wanted it to be more than that?"
"I've been wanting it to be more than that since we went to Mexico. I questioned it for a long time. The gay issue didn't bother me. I'm pretty philosophical about that kind of thing. I was terrified that you'd reject me, that you wouldn't want me around if I admitted my feelings for you. I thought you'd have realized that when I gave up my doctorate, accepted the badge. It would have been easier then for me to leave, but I couldn't do it. At first, last week, I thought you finally felt the same way I did, and then you said… well, I just figured if I wanted to stay around, I needed to get some space between us."
"Why didn't you just leave?"
His mouth drops open. "I've already lost too much. I'm not going to lose you too. Even if you didn't feel the same way I did. I told myself it was enough for me to know I loved you. I thought I believed that."
"How…." His shoulders slump. "Simon called you? I made him swear he wouldn't, not until I'd gone."
"He values his friends too much to let either of us get hurt, Blair. He saw the writing on the wall a long time ago, just wondered how long it was going to take before we got on the clue bus."
Blair places his other hand over mine and squeezes gently. "We need to talk," he says decisively.
"I thought we just did."
"Shh." He places a finger over my lips, smiling as I kiss the tip, then suck it into my mouth. He leans closer, his finger pulling away to be replaced by his lips. "We'll talk some more. Later, much later."
When dawn begins to lighten the loft two hours later, we're lying upstairs in my bed. Blair is spooned up against me, and my morning erection is nestled against the warmth of his ass.
I shift back a little and stroke my palm down his back, losing myself in the contrast of hard knobs of vertebrae and satiny skin overlaid with fine hair.
I haven't slept, and I don't think he has either, both of us content to drift, occasionally stealing a kiss or an exploratory touch. We haven't had that other talk yet. Maybe we don't need to. We both said what we needed to say. Except….
"Mmm-hmm?" The sound huffs lazily from his lips.
"I don't know if I could…. I've never…. Have you ever…." I groan in frustration at my inability to say the words, and at the realization of the minefield we have yet to negotiate.
"Had a cock up my ass?" He flops over to his back, his eyes telegraphing an apology at his blunt choice of words. "No. Do I want to try it? Yes, but…" He presses a finger to my lips as I open my mouth to speak. "Jim, I love sex. I love the foreplay; I love coming, and cuddling up after. All of it. Don't confuse lust with love, though." He looks thoughtful, then pulls himself up and clambers over my legs, to kneel between my thighs, nudging them apart a little to make room.
"If you were in love with a woman, and she told you that giving head-jobs turned her off, but you really, really liked head-jobs, would you try to force her into it?"
I'm shocked by the question. "No! Of course not."
"This is no different just because we're both men. I'm not going to beg you to fuck me, if you don't want to do that. I'd like to try it, but if you don't think you can even entertain the idea of it, fine. There's lots of other things we can do to make love." He leans forward and plants a noisy kiss on my lips then settles back on his knees. "Like this." He rests one hand flat on my belly and slowly lowers his head.
I flinch at the first touch of warm wetness over my balls. I fist my hands in the sheets, lifting my hips involuntarily as the rough pad of his tongue swipes a broad, wet swathe over the wrinkled skin of my sac. My morning-after doubts scatter, my inhibitions evaporating as he sucks a testicle into his mouth, laving it with his tongue, then releases it to the cool air to bestow the same exquisite treatment to its twin. His hand is rubbing a gentle massage on my belly, snaking lower to scrape through my pubic hair and curl loosely around the base of my leaking, very erect cock.
His curly head appears from between my widespread thighs and he grins. "Like that, huh?" Before I can reply, he dives in again, this time swallowing my cock.
"Jesus, Sandburg!" I gasp and thrash on the bed as he massages the shaft with his mouth, sucking strongly. His tongue traces the underside, exploring its shape, then his teeth scrape softly along the length. He pulls back a little and my body follows him of its own volition, wanting to go deeper. He holds me back with one hand on my hip as he explores the head of my penis with his tongue and lips, his other hand pumping the shaft, gaining speed. Suddenly, he takes me in all the way and sucks - hard.
My muscles clench and convulse spasmodically as I shoot down his throat. He swallows, chokes, and swallows again.
My body’s still shuddering when he releases my flaccid organ and crawls up my body, draping himself languidly over my chest. I don’t think I’ve come that quickly since Kate O’Malley let me touch her breast in the ninth grade.
"See?" he says drowsily, but with a hint of satisfaction in his voice. "Lots of other things we can do." His hand pats my whiskered cheek affectionately. "Don't know that I want to do the swallowing again, though. Give me a little warning next time, huh? Ick."
Still trying to catch my breath, I roll a little to my side so that he slides off and lies beside me. I raise myself up and rest my head on one hand. "Ick? This from a man who drinks algae?"
He rolls away from me, scooting back until we're once more spooned together. "Yeah, well, to each his own. But if you’re okay with the swallowing…" He flops over onto his back and waves a vague hand at his nether regions. “…go for it.”
I smother the smile on his mouth with a kiss.
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Author's Notes: I wrote this some time ago but was never really happy with the final result. So I decided to take another look at it and offer it to MME. Thanks as always to Annie for great beta work and for sharing my love of fandom and writing.