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The Auction, Part II

Blair was yawning and, predictably, shivering in the post-dawn chill as he huddled in his jacket, but he made no complaint about their early departure. Unfortunately, the weather didn't look promising. Clouds hovered over the distant peaks and the wind was sharp, but at least it wasn't raining. Sandburg dozed for the first hour of the drive, and then roused himself when Jim stopped at the local village store where they shopped whenever they were in the area. Less than an hour later, they were again on the road, heading through the forest toward the campground along a picturesque river. For the rest of the journey, Blair chattered cheerfully about whatever came to mind, the weather, the likelihood of catching some fish before it started to rain, how beautiful it all was, how clean the air. Talking about nothing much to pass the time and fill the silence between them.

Once they reached the campsite, they quickly set up their tent and unloaded their supplies and gear, securing the camp before pulling on hip-waders and ambling to the river bank with their poles and nets. The sun was valiantly doing its best to burn off some of the cloud cover, and light spangled on the water. The trees and the high wall of the mountain slope across the river cut the wind, and they could hear birdsong and the chittering of a squirrel as they sloshed into the water, venturing out until the river flowed over their knees. Flicking their poles, the lines flashed over their shoulders and back, the glittering flies falling to dance lightly on the surface. Gradually, the peace and tranquility of their surroundings sank into them, and tension eased from their shoulders and backs.

An hour passed serenely while they flicked their lines, reeling in slowly and casting again, and again. And then Blair gave a low, triumphant hiss, "Yesss!" when he got a bite and he flashed a grin at Jim while letting the line play out before carefully drawing the fish in. When Blair pulled it from the water a few minutes later, Jim was ready with the net, and he gracefully swept it under the wriggling body, the iridescent scales of the five-pound trout shimmering silver in the light. Carefully, Blair removed the hook, and then Jim carried the catch to shore, to wrap it in moist leaves to keep it fresh for their lunch.

An hour later, Jim caught his own fish, another good-sized trout that would do nicely for dinner. With a soft cheer of congratulations, Blair slipped the net closed, tying it off and then securing the captured fish in the shallows where it would live for the rest of the afternoon. After that, having enough food but reluctant to leave the quiet pleasure of the water, they released what they caught, stopping only briefly at noon to cook Blair's fish over a campfire and savour its delicate flavour before venturing back into the water.

When the sun dipped behind the mountain and the shadows began to lengthen, stealing the heat from the day, they decided to go for a walk before dinner. "God, it's beautiful here," Blair murmured as they sauntered along the river, occasionally casting smooth stones to watch them skip across the water before sinking from sight.

"Yeah, it is," Jim agreed quietly with a slow smile before moving closer to loop his arm around his friend's shoulders and turn him back toward their camp. While Jim cleaned and prepared the fish, Blair chopped vegetables for a stirfry, and they set both pans over the flames. In minutes, the meal was ready and, while Jim dished up, Blair put on a pot of coffee. The homey scent of woodsmoke, freshly cooked food and coffee mingled with the sharp, clean tang of the pines; the gurgle of the river blended with the soft whisper of wind and birds twittering in the trees to create natural harmonics to accompany the simple meal.

But the light was going fast as dark, heavy clouds gathered overhead, and the flames danced wildly in the freshening wind.

"Gonna rain," Blair observed philosophically with a glance at the heavens.

"And soon," Jim replied with a sniff and glance toward the west, where the clouds were heaviest. Lightning flickered in their depths and there was a distant, low rumble. "Let's clean up and secure everything before it hits."

The next few minutes were a scramble of activity, as Blair took their pots, plates and implements to the water, and Jim banked the fire before carrying their supplies into the tent. Sandburg had barely gotten back and inside when the first curtain of rain rushed past, splattering the ground heavily. Lightning streaked the sky just before thunder boomed overhead, and Jim flinched, ducking his head instinctively as he covered his ears.

"Whoa, that was loud," Blair exclaimed softly as he reached out to grip Jim's arm. "Get the dial down, man," he urged, his tone low and calm.

Nodding, Jim drew a deep breath and let it out slowly before lifting his head and sighing as the pain eased. Thunder rumbled again and wind buffeted the sides of the tent, chilling the air. Rain pattered harder on the canvas, falling so thick and fast that their view of the river outside was obscured. Jim turned on a small battery-powered lantern and reached for the coffee pot to pour two mugs, handing one to Blair, who took it gratefully. Hunched against the cold, sitting so closely together their shoulders touched, they sipped the hot beverage and listened to the storm.

Blair took a deep breath of the rain-cleansed air and let it out in a long, satisfied sigh. "This was a really great day, man," he reflected with quiet happiness, leaning a little against Jim to reinforce his words. "Thanks for suggesting we come up here."

Feeling the slight shiver of cold rippling through his friend's body, wordlessly Jim draped an arm around Blair's shoulders to warm him, and was warmed in his turn by the quick smile of gratitude before Sandburg bowed his head to sip again at his coffee. "Chief," he asked, oddly hesitant, "could we talk?"

Startled by the tone, Blair looked up, surprise and concern darkening his eyes. "Talk? Sure. About what?"

Avoiding eye contact, Jim shrugged diffidently and took a small gulp of coffee. Unconsciously, he tightened his grip around Blair's shoulders and his hand rubbed slowly up and down Sandburg's arm. Swallowing, he said uncertainly, "You said a few things the other day that, well, that I've been thinking about ever since." Blair's eyes narrowed and a small frown furrowed his brow, but he didn't say anything, so Jim continued, "About feeling like a puppet on the end of my string. And, uh, and that you think I don't know how to be happy."

His lips parting, Blair's gaze fell away and he shifted uneasily. "I'm sorry," he said. "I was upset and ... and I shouldn't've said that stuff."

"Do you really feel like some kind of puppet that's getting jerked around?" Jim persisted, unwilling to just let it go. But when he felt Blair stiffen beside him, he wondered if he should have left well enough alone.

Sandburg slowly turned the half-empty coffee mug in his hands. "Sometimes," he admitted finally, his voice low. Lifting his face to look directly at Jim, he continued solemnly, "But not the way you think." His gaze drifted around the tent as he sought for words to express his feelings. "It's not that I feel you're jerking me around, not at all. And taking the badge, becoming a cop, that's not about being your puppet, or only doing what you want me to do – I'm doing what I want to do. But ... but when you follow me all over the PD, and don't let me handle things on my own, I feel as if you don't trust me, or as if, I don't know, as if you don't think I'm capable of handling myself, you know?" Looking back at Jim, he added hurriedly, "I know you're just trying to protect me, man, and I appreciate it. But sometimes it's suffocating. And it gives people the impression that ... that either I need to be watched, or that ... that I'm not man enough to look after myself in what we both know is a hostile environment."

His lips thinning in chagrin, Jim's gaze dropped away as his shoulders sagged in discouragement. "I ... I want to make things easier, that's all," he muttered.

Gripping his knee firmly, Blair gave him a little shake. "I know that, Jim. Honestly, I do know that – and I guess that's why I didn't say anything right away, when I should have. But I can handle the jerks, Jim. And, maybe more importantly, they have to see that I can handle them, you know? You've got to give me some space." When Jim sighed and nodded unhappily, Blair nudged into him with his shoulder. "C'mon, don't feel bad. I know it's been hard on you, too." When Jim still didn't say anything, Blair sighed and leaned his head against Jim's shoulder. Staring out at the night, he murmured quietly, "Actually, I think it's been harder on you than on me. For one thing, you can hear a lot more of the bullshit than I can. For another, it's put your own position – the respect that you've earned – in question with some of your colleagues."

"I don't care about –" Jim growled, but Blair cut in firmly, "It has to hurt, man, whether you admit it or not. You said so yourself the other day ... that it's a mess. That your reputation as well as mine has been called into question, at least in some minds. And I'm really, really sorry about that." Sighing, he pushed his hair behind his ear. "But if we don't let them get to us, if we just do our jobs, we'll get past this. I know we will. Besides, it's not like we've got a lot of choice but to, well, just live with it until things get back to normal."

"Normal?" Jim echoed hollowly as he drew Blair closer and rested his chin on his friend's head. "What's normal, Chief?"

Snickering softly, Blair allowed, "That's a good question, man. Normal for us, I guess. Doing what we've been doing for years – solving crimes. Me helping you with your senses when you need it, watching your back. Except I'll be able to do that better, now that I've finally accepted the need to be trained."

"You always did just fine," Jim told him, his voice tight.

"Thanks. I appreciate that," Blair murmured huskily. But then he cleared his throat and said more firmly, "You've got to let the guilt go, Jim. Over what happened. I don't know how many different ways I can say it, but none of it was your fault. And it turned out okay. There's nothing to feel guilty about."

Tensing, Jim started to shift away, but Blair snaked an arm around his waist and held him close. "Don't pull away, man," he entreated. "Please. This is tearing us both apart. It's more important than anything those assholes at the station can ever say or do. If we can't get past this, we've got real trouble."

For long minutes, there were only the sounds of the rain beating on the tent and splashing into puddles on the ground outside, and the whine of the wind cracking through the branches of the trees around them, and snapping the canvas of the tent. Finally, Jim sighed heavily and then asked distantly, "How can you say this is what you want?" Grimly, he carried on, "You gave up your career, everything you've worked half your life for. You never wanted to carry a weapon. Getting mixed up with me is probably just about the worst thing that ever happened to you. Your life would be so much different. Hell, Chief ... of course I feel guilty. You lost everything, up to and including your reputation for honesty, let alone your dreams, because of me, my senses. If –"

But whatever else he might have said was cut off when Blair smacked the back of his head sharply as he sat up and twisted around and up onto his knees to face Jim squarely. "Enough!" he practically bellowed. "For God's sake, Jim! Who chased after you four years ago begging to be allowed into your life? To work with you? Huh? And why did I do that? Do you remember? Yes, absolutely, for my career, my life's work. And what was that life's work about?" When Jim didn't answer or look at him, he gripped Jim's arms and shook him. "Finding a sentinel!" he insisted vehemently. "That was my dream, you know that! God, I told you nearly two years ago that I had enough material for a dissertation, but I didn't write it because I didn't want to stop working with you." When Jim's gaze rose to meet his, and he could still see uncertainty there, he went on compellingly, "You're my holy grail, Jim – not some stupid paper about you. Not some degree. You're my career, man, not some musty lecture hall filled with indifferent students and interminably dull faculty meetings. When that paper was leaked, you're right. I nearly lost my dream, nearly lost everything that held any meaning for me. I nearly lost my chance to keep working with you. That ... that press conference was absolutely an act of utter desperation. I could only hope and pray it would be enough to ... to maybe fix things between us. So we could at least still be friends. And I didn't know – when we met up at the hospital afterward – I didn't know if would be enough. When you said ... you insisted that I'd given up my life, I agreed with you, but I didn't mean the university. I meant you, working with you, because I thought it had gone too far to ever be salvaged. But, but you and Simon ... you guys saved me, man. When you offered me the badge ... you guys saved me. Saved my dream. Let me have my life back. Don't you understand that? That that's all I wanted, all I ever wanted? Just to keep working with, living with, you."

His voice cracked and he had to swipe at his eyes. Jim looked away, embarrassed by the emotion and, seemingly, still sorrowed. "Because I'm a sentinel," he rasped with hollow emptiness, more to himself than to Blair.

"Only at first," he insisted softly, once again leaning against Jim. "But mostly because you're the best friend I've ever had and I love you, man," he said with unaffected candor. "I love working with you. And ... and if I wasn't there to back you up, I'd always be worrying myself sick about you, about whether you were getting the support you need, or if you were in danger because nobody understands your senses like I do. And, well, over the years, I've come to really love what we do together, you know? Catching the bad guys. Making the city a little safer. Protecting people. I really love being part of all that. And, and I love living with you in the loft, even with all the stupid rules," he added with a gamin grin. "Oh, I know, eventually I guess we'll have to get our own places, but I don't really want to, you know? I don't want to leave the loft 'cause it really does feel like home now. I love the times we share together, talking, teasing, watching games, going for walks, or fishing, like this. I love every minute I spend in your company. I've never been happier in my life than I've been these last few years with you, even with the pretty hairy messes we got ourselves into. But our friendship always helped guide us back home again. Please, man, don't feel guilty for making my dreams come true."

Jim tightened his lips against the emotion that surged in his chest; he sniffed and swallowed hard to clear away the lump that had risen to clog his throat. Turning his head to bury his face in Blair's hair, he asked, "You mean that, Chief?"

"Yeah, man, I do. With all my heart," Blair affirmed, locking his arms around Jim's body, to hug him tightly. "I'm sorry, Jim. I guess I thought that you'd figured that out."

Jim hesitated and then asked the question that had haunted him for weeks. "Then, I don't understand, Chief. I really don't. Why, if you didn't want to quit, why did you write the dissertation – and why did you leave my name in it?"

"Ah, Jim," Blair sighed. "It was never meant to be my dissertation, man. I wrote it for you. Only for you. Nobody else was ever supposed to see it."

Closing his eyes tightly, Jim encircled him in a warm embrace, and let his doubts and grief, his guilt seep away. He had to swallow again before he could rasp hoarsely, "You're my best friend, too, Chief. I hope you know that."

"I know that, man," Blair replied teasingly with a watery laugh. "But it's good to finally hear that you know it, too." Sniffing, blinking hard, he pulled a little away. "So, um, are we good now?"

"Yeah, we're good," Jim told him. Fondly, he combed his fingers through Blair's curls, and then asked, "So you really think I don't know how to be happy?"

Huffing a low laugh, Blair shook his head as he sat back and purposefully raked his hair off his face. He gazed at Jim affectionately, his lips curved in a half smile, but sadness lurked in his eyes. "I don't know, man," he murmured. "Sometimes I wonder. I mean, I know you don't reveal your feelings the way I do. And, um, you're more of an introvert – you need quiet and peace, tranquility, to be content, whereas I'm a lot more exuberant by nature, more of an extrovert that gets energized by being around people. I think sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time, you find me exhausting to be around. And you've had to learn, over and over again, to guard your emotions, to not hope for too much, because ... well, because people have let you down. Important people. Like your mom and dad, Steven, your senior officers, women you've loved ... me. It's, uh, hard to be happy if you're worried about letting go and trusting that the good stuff in life will last, you know? Sometimes ... sometimes I think you're afraid to be happy. As if it might be bad luck, or something. And, well, you never get much time to just be happy, to feel good. There's always some horrific case to work on, and you never quit until it's done – and then there's another one and you start all over again with the long hours and the burden of knowing you're running against the clock, trying to catch some perp before he or she kills again. You hardly ever have time to just chill out, you know? To just do things you enjoy doing."

Feeling uncomfortably as if he'd just been stripped bare, as if all his defences had been breached, Jim's gaze jerked away and he frowned as his jaw clenched reflexively. Crossing his arms, he wasn't sure what to say or even if there was anything to say. Blair reached out to lightly grip his arm, grounding him, letting him know he wasn't alone; nonverbally giving him the message that it was okay, he didn't have to be strong, not now, not all the time. Grimacing, he sighed. "Well, when you put it like that," he muttered wryly, trying for humour and not quite making it. "Makes me sound like a basket case."

Blair's grip tightened as he hastened to say, "Ah, hey, not at all, man. You're a rock. The strongest, most intrepid guy I've ever known. It's just that ... that I wish you had more fun, you know? That you had more chance to relax and laugh and, I don't know, just play."

"I do okay," Jim contested with a diffident shrug.

"No, it's not okay, man. Bare contentment is never enough for true happiness; isn't the same as being charged up by passionate energy, because you love, really love what you're doing and how your life is turning out. Jim, do you even know what makes you happy? Or what would make you happier, if you could have or do anything you wanted?" Blair asked gently. "Like, well, for instance, would it be better for you if I, uh, if I finally found a place of my own and let you have your space and your life back?"

"No," he blurted with solidly categorical decisiveness, without thinking.

"Well, it's just that I've been wondering, since you went to Clayton Falls – that was a pretty clear cry for peace and quiet, you know? And you shouldn't have to leave your own home to find some privacy and personal space."

Jim rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head. Given all that had happened since, how many times he'd come too close to losing Blair – seeing him lying dead at the fountain, believing Sandburg was going to leave because of the dissertation disaster – he could scarcely remember why he'd thought it so urgent to get away for a few days. About all he recalled about Clayton Falls was how scared he'd been when they'd carried Blair into that isolation tent, terrified that he'd never see his friend alive again. "Moving out wouldn't make me happy, Chief," he asserted firmly.

Blair smiled widely and his eyes sparkled with relief. "Okay," he nodded. "Good, that's good. 'Cause I didn't really want to move out, you know? But ... am I right, Jim? That it's not easy for you to be happy? Or that you don't let yourself be happy?"

Rolling his shoulders, Jim shifted and scratched his cheek. "I've never really thought about it," he admitted. "Is this something we really need to talk about?"

Gazing at him bemusedly, Blair replied, "You're the one who brought it up, man. But, no, we don't have to talk about it ... only ...."

"Only what, Sandburg?" Jim groused, wondering why he'd thought this was something they should discuss; but he could still hear the plaintive tone that had been in Blair's voice two days before, a kind of anguish underlying his frustration.

"Only I'd like you to be happy, but happiness is a state of mind, a kind of choice – nobody else can make us happy," he reflected solemnly. "For instance, can you name five things that really and truly make you feel happy? Or even just the last time you were uncomplicatedly, unconditionally, really, really happy?"

Rubbing his mouth, Jim thought about that. "It's not all that complicated," he finally replied, but there was a shy, vulnerable expression on his face when he added candidly, "The last is easy – it was when you agreed to come onboard as my official partner."

Genuinely surprised and deeply touched that his decision had been such welcome news to Jim, he squeaked, "Really? You're not just saying that? Kidding around to placate me?"

"No," Jim returned sardonically, embarrassed by the bright emotion and gratitude gleaming in Blair's eyes. "I thought you knew that."

"Ah, Jim," Blair sighed with a sappy sentimental smile. "You don't know how much it means to me to know that. That it wasn't just a sense of necessity or misplaced guilt in thinking you owed me some kind of lifeline. I am so glad to know you really wanted this official partnership."

Uncomfortable with the emotion brimming in the kid's eyes, Jim waved a hand toward the rain-shrouded river as he said, "And other things that make me happy? Well, doing this, fishing, camping, just being out of the city – I enjoy this. I'm happy doing this. Watching a good game on TV. Enjoying a good meal. Getting a really bad guy off the street. That feels good. Really good."

"That's good, man. That's four things that we can make a point of doing as often as possible, and the city will even pay us for one of them. Got one more?" Blair encouraged cheekily.

Jim gazed at him thoughtfully and seemed about to speak, but then he hesitated and looked away. "Four'll do for now," he said, his tone brooking no argument. Blair quirked a brow but resisted making any further comment. Relenting, Jim grinned at him. "Hey, four out of five ain't bad, kid. You happy now?"

Snickering, Blair nodded. "Yeah, man. If you're happy, I'm happy." Tilting his head, he looked up at the canvas above that was still being battered by rain and wind, and added with feigned woefulness, "But I'd be happier if it would stop raining!"

"Yeah, yeah, cold and wet is your world, Chief," Jim teased as he turned to roll out the sleeping bags. Tossing his friend a blanket, he added, "Wrap this around yourself."

Snatching it from the air, Blair pulled the warm wool around his shoulders, grinning merrily as if all was right with his world. "Hey," he said, "it's too early to go to sleep. I brought a deck of cards." Before Jim responded, he pulled his backpack from the corner and rifled in it. Looking up, he waggled his eyebrows. "A little poker, maybe? Or twenty-one?"

"Feeling lucky, are you?"

"Yeah, man. Fortune favours –"

"Fools," Jim interjected, silencing Blair with a finger against his lips, and then laughed at the disconcerted look on Blair's face. "Deal the cards, Chief. I'm feeling brave."

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Blair snorted as he pulled the deck from the well-worn package and began to shuffle.

Later, several dollars poorer, Jim listened to the soft snuffling snore of a fast asleep Sandburg and smiled. But his throat thickened and he had to blink at the sting in his eyes as he thought about the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth things in his life that made him happy every day, whether he revealed his feelings openly or not. The sound of Sandburg sleeping nearby. Sandburg giggling merrily. Sandburg, safe and, best of all, part of his life.

The ache in his chest began to resonate with his thoughts and emotions as he thought about Blair ... and he closed his eyes as he rubbed at the ache, no longer able to avoid what it meant. Sandburg had said that he loved him – as a friend. Even a best friend. And sometimes, though rarely, Blair called him 'my brother'.

And, though he wished he could deny it, and didn't pretend to understand it, Jim finally acknowledged to himself that he loved Blair in return. But not as a brother. And he wanted more than to be a friend. Even a best friend. Swallowing, he bent his right arm up under his head, tilting his face so he could look at his partner. Tenderness washed over his features as he studied the beautiful face that seemed so eternally young and so innocent in sleep. His gaze roamed over his partner, the darkness no barrier to the acuity of his sight, but even he couldn't discern the shape of the nipple ring he knew was there under the t-shirt and flannel and woolen blanket – the nipple ring that had intrigued him, often slipping into his thoughts and, if he was honest, his dreams, for years. Inhaling, he drew in and savoured Blair's distinctive scent, blended now with the aromatics of wet earth, pine and rain. The sound of Blair's even breathing was a counterpoint to the inconstancy of the wind outside, his heartbeat a steady drum under the timpani of rain on canvas. Rising up on one elbow, his throat dry with longing, Jim reached out to very lightly, very tentatively, caress his partner's cheek, his fingertips as light, as gossamer as butterfly wings. He wished with almost sick desperation that he could lean down and kiss those lips, to know Blair's taste, and to lie close, skin to skin, cherishing that sturdy body. Grief filled his eyes then, wrenching pain that he'd never have what he desired so much, even needed, to feel whole. He was being ridiculous, tormenting himself over the impossibility of what would never be.

Embarrassed by his need, deeply unsettled by it, he began to pull away just as Blair's eyes flickered open and caught him caressing the lightly stubbled cheek. He blushed hotly, and jerked his hand away as if Sandburg's skin was suddenly scorching hot, but Blair was faster, catching his wrist in a surprisingly strong, uncompromising grip. "What?" he asked, blinking sleep from his eyes. "What were you doing?"

Caught fairly, and hating it, he grated caustically, "Well, for a bright guy, you sure miss the obvious. I was touching you." He tried to pull his arm away, but Blair held firm.

"Yeah, I got that part," Sandburg replied slowly, not put off or intimidated by the harsh tone. "But why?"

Giving up the effort to regain his wrist, he shrugged as he lay back to stare at the tent top and avoid Blair's eyes as he answered flatly, "Why do most people reach out to caress someone's cheek?"

Blinking with heavy slowness, Blair thought about that, but his expression gave nothing away. "We need to talk about this," he finally reflected soberly.

Groaning, Jim rubbed his eyes and protested, "Not now, okay? In the middle of the night? With a storm blowing so hard I can hardly hear or think?"

Nodding reflectively, Blair replied, "Okay, not tonight." But then he rolled deliberately on his side, facing away from his partner, while simultaneously edging his body closer to Jim's, and he drew the captured wrist around him, so that Jim's arm was, perforce, holding him close. Snuggling down into his blanket, Blair murmured with husky hoarseness, "But, just for the record? You can touch me anywhere, anytime, man. I'd, uh, I'd really like it if you'd touch me more and, um, differently than you usually do. I'd like that a lot."

Startled, Jim turned his face to the stare at the mass of unruly curls that were scant inches away. "You're kidding," he gasped.

"Nope. Not at all," Blair replied evenly, then added with a small hopeful grin that Jim couldn't see, "but you're right. No need to talk about it tonight."

Suddenly, waiting for morning didn't seem to be the best idea he'd ever had. Though Jim scarcely understood his own compulsion, and thought he was more than half crazy, he simply, physically, could not resist the blatant if wholly unexpected invitation offered to him. Rolling onto his side, spooning his body close along Blair's, he drew his partner into a tighter embrace while his sensitive fingertips sought and found the silver nipple-ring. When he rubbed the pad of his thumb across the erect nub, Blair's breathing hitched and then exhaled in a soft moan of pleasure as he arched his chest into Jim's touch.

Emboldened by his partner's reaction, he tugged at the nipple ring even as he leaned his face down to blow into and nuzzle Blair's ear. "You really want this?" he rasped huskily.

"Oh God," Blair gasped, his hips pressing back against Jim's inflamed groin as he twisted around, his lips seeking Jim's. "Yes."

Mouths brushed together and then caught hold, opened and tongues plunged deeply, warring for dominance. Lightning speared the night, thunder crashed overhead and heavy rain pelted their tent as they pressed together, Jim's leg between Blair's, Blair's eager erection straining against Jim's, hands grasping and roaming, stroking and caressing, pushing away the constraint of clothing. Hot flesh against flesh, moaning, gasping breaths, licking, kissing, humping against one another as pure, almost frenzied, sensation and need consumed them.

"This is crazy," Jim gusted between kisses, even as his hands buried themselves in Blair's hair, clasping his scalp.

"Mmm. Maybe," Blair muttered distractedly while his lips sought the pulse point in Jim's throat. "Probably," he added more coherently a moment later, and then surged up, unbalancing Jim and pushing him onto his back. Gripping Jim's shoulders strongly, his face pressed close as he squinted through the darkness, trying to see Jim's face, he demanded hoarsely, "You want to stop?"

"No," Jim replied simply, drawing Blair's face closer still. "No, I don't."

But Blair pulled back and away. "You're sure?" he challenged, raking his hair back from his face, his movements jerky and agitated. "Sure enough to handle this in the light? Because I want to see you when I make love to you, man. If this is a quick grope in the dark, a simple buddy fuck, I need to know."

"You just said I could touch you anyway, anytime I wanted. You said you wanted this," Jim accused, stung and reacting defensively.

Blair suddenly stilled and, for a moment, it seemed he'd even stopped breathing, though Jim could hear his heart hammering furiously. Finally, he turned his face away so that Jim couldn't see his expression, and drew in a slow, deep breath. "You can. I do," he replied with slow deliberation. But the cadences of his voice broke up and his words sounded shaky as he continued, "But ... but I need to know, Jim. I need to know what you want, what you expect. What this means to you. So, so I know how ... what ... so I know whether this is a one time thing or what. What are we doing here, man? Are we fucking or making love? Fucking I can do in the dark."

Jim closed his eyes and swallowed, not sure what to say when he didn't understand it himself. Nervously, Blair filled the silence. "If it's just sex, that's, like, fine, man. I mean ... hell, I've been lusting after you for what feels like forever. But ... I just need to know."

Lightning flickered, briefly illuminating the darkness, and thunder rumbled more distantly as the storm moved further east. Rain still pattered against the canvas, but with less harsh violence.

"Guess I've killed the mood, huh?" Sandburg muttered with uncertain regret. Dejectedly, he dropped heavily onto his sleeping bag, fumbling to pull it back over his body.

Mutely, Jim shifted to reach for the battery-powered lantern and he flicked it on, filling the tent with a soft, yellow glow. Startled, Blair looked at him, wide-eyed, but Jim's gaze fell away. "I don't honestly know what this is about, Chief," he replied with quiet solemnity. "But I do know it's not just about fucking blindly in the dark, because ... because it's convenient or some damned thing." He flicked a glance at Blair and then said with hoarse meaning, "I love you, Blair. I haven't wanted to ... to admit that. I'm not sure this is a good idea. But ... but ...." His voice died away and the muscles rippled along his jaw. His lips quirked sardonically and he sighed with evident self-disparagement. "But I gotta tell ya, I haven't lost the mood, here. You know what I'm saying?"

A slow smile lit Blair's face as his gaze wandered over Jim's body, and he threw back the covering, once again baring his nakedness. With a rueful glance at his groin, he replied wryly, "Apparently, neither have I." And then he drew Jim down and rose up over him, reaching to caress his cheek and then stroked his chest before straddling his legs. "You are so, so beautiful, man," he murmured as he clasped Jim's erection with confident possessiveness. "Guide my touch, Jim," he added hoarsely, mindful of Jim's heightened sensitivity. "Let me know what feels good, okay? Don't let me hurt you." And then, his fist beginning a sensual rhythm along the hard length, he leaned down to capture Jim's lips with his own.

They kissed deeply until they had to break apart to breathe ... and then Blair delicately suckled his nipples until he moaned with the desire for more and his hips arced upward into Blair's hand. With a low, seductive chuckle of satisfaction, Blair went down on him, and he was lost to the purity of sensation and need, his orgasm building like a firestorm in his belly, blasting away thought and reason as he gripped Blair's head and his hips thrust with ever greater urgency. When he came, he heard Blair moan deep in his throat, and he smelled the scent of his partner's semen, felt the heat of it splash his leg. Dimly, in the midst of the overwhelming sensations that flooded him, he understood that Blair's orgasm had followed closely on his own, as if triggered simply by giving him such pleasure. Joy sparked in his chest, replacing the hollow ache that had grown so familiar, and he was filled with contentment as he drew Blair up to lie sprawled over his body, his lover's head tucked under his jaw. Languidly, he drew Blair's sleeping bag over them for warmth.

Far in the distance, thunder grumbled. Tangled together, listening to the splatter of rain and one another's heartbeats, they fell asleep in the lantern's golden glow.

* * * * * * * * * *

Part III: http://www.livejournal.com/editjournal.bml?journal=caarianna&itemid=20651


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 21st, 2007 11:31 am (UTC)
Part III
sorry for intruding but I thought it could be nice keep reading this story here at lj rather than search for it in your website, less cliffhanging this way *smiles shyly*
link to part III
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



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