Second Time Around

I was wondering how long it was going to take him to notice. Maybe he wouldn't. He didn't last week.

Had he?  

I thought about that possibility, tugging on it like a dangle of thread from a ball of wool, but dismissed it when I hit a knot of logic; Jim's good at hiding what he's feeling but I'm just as good at finding it, sifting through the dirt. I'd have seen him looking; sneaked peeks, a bemused half smile, skin flushing…

I was still a little tender from that night; I'd left them on too long because we were sitting close enough that his arm was brushing mine and I wasn't risking losing that contact. Kept getting shivery thrills from it, every time he leaned over for his drink and settled back, maybe a fraction closer. If I'd excused myself for the few minutes it would've taken to get them off me and whimper through the pain, when I came back he might not have been where I left him.

So the clamps stayed on until he went to get more beer, pinching bright and hot, and I paid for those moments where his bare arm touched my shirt, feeling like the original little mermaid, walking on knives to entrance her prince.

Turned to sea foam when he didn't love her back.

Sucks to be in a fairytale.

Maybe he just couldn't see them. I was wearing a loose shirt, after all, and even a Sentinel doesn't have X-ray vision.

But I was lying back in my chair and the fabric was pulling tight enough that he should've be able to see --

No. He just wasn't looking my way.

He was watching TV, glowering a bit, annoyed by something, I didn't know what. He'd been fine when we were getting ready to watch the game, bumping his hip against my ass when I was hovering in front of the fridge, leaning past me to take out some salsa, his hand on my shoulder to brace himself. I’d felt the curled grip of his fingers like a pressed-sweet bruise for long minutes after.

And I'd slipped into my room, pushing my shirt up high, tucking it under my chin to hold it out of the way as I attached the clamps, viciously pretty silver, business-like black, linked with a thin, strong chain. I'd had to lick my fingers and wet-pinch my nipples hard to take them, then had to gather my rumpled shirt higher so I could shove it into my mouth and muffle the throat-caught grunts of pain.

Ow. Fucking ow, man. Fucking major ow.

I'd made sure I got into place on the chair before he finished futzing around with a bowl for chips so I could walk across the room unobserved, shoulders hunched, taking careful steps. He'd have noticed that change of pace. The chain had been a big mistake. The weight of it was easy to bear for a second, but there are sixty in a minute and it had been on for two, and it had tangled with my chest hair at the lowest point, anchoring it in place. There was a constant, light tug on the clamps and I'd been sweating, scrabbling to free the chain before Jim came in.

I'd managed it, the relief out of proportion to the difference in the pain, because, really, it still hurt like hell. I just liked it when it hurt like that. It's amazing how sharp and thin that dividing line is and it's so easy to fall and tumble and there's no right or wrong side to land, not really.

Jim had come in, glanced at me, and hesitated. I'd thought he'd seen them and the prickle of anticipation had my fingernails driving hard into the arms of the chair as I rode it out, striving for silence. Wasn't that, though. He'd looked disappointed and then sullen, flinging himself onto the primo spot on the couch, his body language screaming pout.

I'd eased him out of it with silence; always a good tactic because it was unusual enough to get him worried. Before long, he'd relaxed, half-turned to me, giving me a grimace that could just about pass for an apology, except he wasn't going to admit he'd been sulking and until I'd worked out what was the matter with him, I wasn't going near it, either.

And now I'd reached my limit with the clamps and I was going to have to call it quits real soon. One last try…

I waited until he was looking and stretched up, a bone-cracking adjustment of shoulders and spine, the jolt of pain arrowing zing-straight to my dick which I greeted with an appreciative moan I hoped Jim would put down to the stretch.

His forehead acquired a few deep grooves and I squirmed, pinned down. Hard to look away from Jim.

And, bingo. Score. Houston, we have… well, that could go either way. Liftoff or a problem. Time would tell.


He gets this mellow tone when he's menacing. Talk about your mixed signals.


He was staring at my chest, the incredulous frown not showing any signs of going away. I watched him shuffle through an assortment of options for his next question -- not that saying my name was a proper question in any technical sense of the word, but he could pack a lot into any of the labels he stuck on me.

He went with a guarded, oblique approach that made me picture him tracking through the jungle, brown skin shadow-dappled, part of the scenery, at home.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

See? Subtle.


"No. No pretending you don't know what I'm talking about."

I'd got him angry and I hadn't even been trying.

"I don't." Lying to him was risky; he was as likely to storm out as anything else. He just didn't deal well with it. I wasn't lying, though. I'd thought I knew, but I was starting to rethink that thought because this didn't match any reaction I'd expected.

He spat it out as if the words had been waiting to be said for a while and they were too sour to swallow. "Why are you sitting over there?"

Each word got the 'I'm unbelievably pissed off' enunciation of extreme clarity but it still took a moment for my jaw to drop.

Sometimes I'm stupid and I'm secure enough to admit it. Especially when it comes with a side-order of happy because it's nice to be missed.

"I just am."

"You never sit there."

Accusing, petulant -- how can he make that work the way he does? So it's a turn on and a compelling reason to get busy making him smile again, all at once…

"Sure I do."

"Not when there's a game on."

True. The chair was great for reading in, back-lit by the balcony in the day, but at totally the wrong angle to watch TV.

"You want me over there?" I offered, wondering what he'd say to that. I watched it hit him just how deep a hole he'd dug, and blinked as he came out the other end with a stubborn grunt and a symbolic shifting of position, ceding me an extra inch beside him.

Looked like a 'yes' to me. I jumped up, exhaled sharply as the chain leaped up, too, stumbled, gave a muted screech, and sat down next to him with the grace of a hippo. Jim's gaze tracked my lumbering progress, astonished, then suspicious, and we stared at each other in silence.

He cleared his throat. "Uh…"

"What?" It came out in a snap. I was back to ow not wow and my dick was getting dizzy from expanding and shrinking way too fucking fast.

His hand met my shoulder in a placatory pat. "Sorry, Sandburg. Look, sit where you want, okay? I don't know why I -- it's been a long day."

"I want to sit here." I did some patting of my own, tit for tat, except my hand gravitated to his knee and met some carelessly dripped super glue or something because I couldn't pull it away once it was on all that bone and muscle and heat.

We both stared at my trespassing hand and I was still staring at it when Jim's head tilted back, presumably to get enough breath to ask me what the fuck I was doing, and he finally noticed what I was wearing in the way of accessories.

I knew because he made this choked sound and his spine jerked exclamation point straight and quivering.

And then, just as I was expecting a barrage of questions, disgusted, disapproving, contemptuous, whatever, he melted down, leaning in closer, and pushed me back with gentle hands on my shoulders, his thumbs fitting into the hollows of my collar bone, until I was sprawled out, mostly sitting, a cushion behind me.


I'd lost him. He was giving my shirt a careful, perplexed look, his hands still on me, holding me still, not that I was moving. I could feel heat, lust and actual, swamp me like the seventh wave, the one that gets you when you've turned your head to watch a seagull, the one that knocks you breathless, sends you staggering, soaks and saturates you, leaves you gasping.

His hands slid down my arms and found my hands, linked mine with his, coaxing my fingers wide. The heel of his hands nudged mine in a slow rub, but all his attention was focused on my chest.

"Want to see?" I whispered, flexing my fingers experimentally against his.

He didn't answer me unless you count the move that ended with my wrists inside his fist -- they didn't fit; it was more symbolic, but I wasn't struggling, so it worked -- and above my head. Which was uncomfortable and made my nipples protest as the skin around them was stretched taut, but I didn't care.

His free hand was unbuttoning my shirt and I was looking at his face, inches away, and wondering if this was really happening because I'd never expected it to work and when it hadn't, I'd decided to do it again only because I'd come so hard after the last time, after waiting through the endless thirty minutes before Jim started to snuffle in sleep, that I couldn't resist.

I wondered myself into a dreamy detachment that ended abruptly when Jim finished with my buttons and flicked my shirt open, exposing my chest, a cool by comparison breath of air drifting over the hot, swollen skin.

His fist clenched and I whimpered to let him know he was hurting. His grip eased a little immediately, mid-whimper, and then went down another few notches in a more deliberate slackening of his grip.

"You did this?"

It felt like a weird question at the time but I guess it was a good one. It asked me if I was cool with it and it checked on the existence of someone else in the picture.


He nodded, frowning down at my left nipple, the one that hurt just a fraction more because it was pierced, even though I hadn't worn the ring in it since, well, last week. "Why?" He traced the wiggle of the tangled chain, his fingertip hovering just above the metal, not touching it but sometimes brushing a hair, static-charged, reaching up.

"Feels good."

That wasn't a complete answer, but it wasn't a lie. I was being careful about that.

His eyes went deep and distant and I felt him open up to everything his senses were telling him.

About me.

He'd done it before when I was injured and it felt -- God. When you know what it is, what he's doing, it's a rush. Totally. First time he'd done it when I wasn't bleeding or scared, though. I saw him register the way my heartbeat swept into a frenzied shimmy-shake against my ribcage and I don't think he missed the acorn to oak morph in my pants, either.

It didn't always help; he got the data but he didn't always interpret it right, or there was too much of it and he choked but this was simple. My solid dick made it simple; the Rosetta Stone that stopped him thinking I was scared, or teasing, or anything but so turned on I wasn't sure I could last much longer.

"They're hurting you." His voice was flat. He didn't like that idea but he wasn't going to tell me to take them off, not after I'd told him they were there by choice.

"Yeah. They need to come off now."

He didn't release my wrists but his gaze flicked up to them and then back down to the clamps before his eyebrows lifted in a question.

"Sure." I nodded. "Just got to warn you, though --"

He waited, his hand warm on my side, fingers still.

"They come off, and I'm going to be -- it's going to hurt. And I might --" I swallowed. "I don't always because, yeah, it really does hurt after and usually I've already -- but I wanted to just…" I ran out of words and closed my eyes for a moment. He waited patiently, although he had to know what I was trying to say. "God, Jim. I'm going to be screaming and coming and you might not want to be this close when I do, okay?"

I forced open my eyes just as he began work on the button and zip fastening my pants, dealing with them methodically, taking care not to touch my dick. He studied me for a second and then hooked his finger in the waistband of my shorts, tugging it down so that the head of my dick popped free.

Then that large, strong hand grabbed a bunch of material at my crotch and yanked my pants and shorts down to mid-thigh, my hips lifting instinctively once I got what he was doing.

"Now you won't make a mess when you do," he said with one of those quick, closed-mouth smiles of his; the, I'm being reasonable here, Chief, type.

I made a high, weak keening sound, pure lust, and his eyes softened. "This one's hurting most."

I managed a nod as his finger brushed the left clamp.

"So we do this one first." His fingers eased the right clamp off, deft and sure, keeping the chain from dragging. I wasn't sure where he was going with that logic but I wasn't really caring right then. The crushed, punished flesh was expanding, blood rushing back in, and he was listening to it, watching it, his fingers rubbing over the abused skin, briskly gentle.

I arched and panted, close to the scream I'd promised him. "Hurts, oh, fuck -- Jim -- Jim --"

His mouth covered it as his hand got busy with the second clamp and I writhed, fighting his grip, feeling his tongue lap and his lips purse and suck.

Then the second clamp dropped away and I had a split-second jolt of relief before the agony hit and his shoulder was there for me to bite as his mouth crossed over to where it was needed, and I forced the shape of a scream into it, savage and deep, tears spilling over.

I came without really feeling it over the swell and relentless beat of the pain but it helped, I think it helped. Jim's mouth left me when I bit him, his head jerking back, but I think it was just to stop himself biting back which would've been too much right then.

Lines. All about the lines.

I lay back, wiped out and wasted, come cooling on my stomach, eyes closed, and Jim finally let go of my wrists. I kept my hands there for a moment in case he changed his mind, then let them drop down to rub gingerly at the throbbing, burning skin, wondering why I'd thought this was a good idea, the way I always did in the aftermath.

Jim made a questioning sound that could've meant anything and I moaned. "Oh, Jim… man, that was …"

"Sandburg." There was a weird twist to my name and I blinked my eyes open. Jim was staring at his fingers and I tracked from them to his shirt to my stomach.



He was still staring at my come on his fingers, looking vaguely horrified, or maybe just stunned; I wasn't sure which.

Maybe neither, as the next thing he did was rub his fingers together, the way a woman tests the texture of clothing in a shop, absently fingering it in passing. Then he sniffed at them, inhaling slowly.

Three down and hearing was out…

Watching Jim Ellison lick my come off his skin turned out to be the perfect distraction from the pain. It was so careful, so thorough a tasting. His nose wrinkled a little but he didn't stop until his fingers were clean and then he wiped them dry on his shirt.

It was weirdly not-sexy and hot as hell which summed up the last ten minutes.

Jim scooped up the linked clamps from the couch -- good move as it was one of those pieces of furniture which ate stuff -- and weighed them in his hand before opening one and testing it on the back of his wrist, enduring the bite for a few seconds, his face impassive, before taking it off.

There was a quickly fading mark on his skin. It wouldn't bruise, I didn't think.

He held the tangle of metal and rubber out to me and I accepted it in silence, then struggled to sit up.

"You want to ask me about this?"


"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure."

He sounded sure. I closed my hand around what it held, feeling the metal shift and knowing he could probably hear the tiny chink-clinks as I ground it into my palm.

Hadn't worked. I'd gone down an alley and it'd turned out to be a dead-end. The only positive part was that Jim wasn't freaking out on me even if he wasn't --

He stood, pausing in front of me for just long enough that I could map the shape of his erection visually and long enough to say softly, "But I'll listen to anything you want to tell me. I always would have. You didn't need to do this. And you really didn't have to do it…" He moved off toward the bathroom as he spoke and I didn't even try to stop him and offer to help him out with what he was going to do. If he'd wanted it, he'd have asked.

I was too busy listening to the echo of his last word in my head.


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