"You've been here a while now, Sandburg."
Blair looked up from his laptop and blinked Jim into focus. "Huh? Do you need to use the table?" Comprehension struck. "Oh, staying here, you mean…" He counted up weeks in his head. More than one. Much more than one. Five? Six? "Sorry, Jim. I guess, well, it's been working out and I just let it slide. I'll start looking for somewhere."
"You don’t have to," Jim said after a pause. He studied the apple he was holding and began to polish it on his T-shirt, shiny green against tight black. "It's working out for me, too. You're a slob, but I've lived with worse. You promise me no more monkeys --"
"Apes," Blair said automatically.
"And you can stay as long as it takes for you to finish up this project of yours."
"Thanks, Jim." He said it with genuine gratitude warming the words. Sure, his room was freaking tiny, shoebox size, really, but when claustrophobia hit, he only had to pull the curtain aside to have the high, wide space of the loft soothe him.
And getting to know Jim was fascinating. Really. The man was a mass of insecurities wrapped up in a security blanket of routine. Picky as hell, but after all, Blair had his own ways to stave off panic; his own rituals.
Plus, Jim wouldn't take more than a nominal rent, and Blair, for the first time in a long time, had cash in his pocket, not fresh air and crumbs.
"There's just one thing…" Jim went on.
Of course there was. Blair braced himself for a demand he couldn't agree to, a command masquerading as a compromise
"It's not something I want to get out, so I'd appreciate it if you'd keep this to yourself." Jim stared at him, his blue eyes frosting over as if Blair had already been indiscreet. "But if it's a deal breaker, I want to know now before either of us wastes any more time on this Sentinel thing."
"If it's related to your senses, I'm not sure I can leave it out of my diss," Blair began doubtfully.
Jim cut him off. "It's not. It's just --" He inhaled with a sharp, decisive sniff, his lips tightening, and then said deliberately, "I'm bi, okay? Not straight. If that's a problem for you, well, I guess you'll have to start looking for somewhere else to live." His mouth crooked up at the side. "And no, you're not my type, don't worry."
"You date men?" Blair asked, knowing he sounded incredulous. Since when? In the few months he'd known Jim, he'd met his ex-wife and seen him flirt with some stunning women, but Jim's gaze had never lingered on a man. Blair had been the recipient of some of Jim's smiles and touches, sure, but they'd been delivered with a brotherly air; casual; friendly at most.
"No. I date women. I just have sex with men, and I don't do it here." Jim bit into the apple with a decisive crunch. "And if I bring a woman back, I'd appreciate you finding somewhere else to stay for the night, okay? Assuming you're going to stick around."
"I'll stick," Blair assured him. "Hell, Jim, what kind of asshole do you think I am?"
There was a pause and then Jim started to chuckle as Blair blushed bright. "The kind I have no interest in getting to know better," Jim said. "I mean it, Blair; I don't want you getting self-conscious and treating me like a freak. You walk around here half naked in the morning and so do I; it hasn't been an issue, right?"
Define 'issue', Blair thought, but he nodded.
"Good. Well, I want it to stay that way."
"I can't say this hasn't changed the way I see you," Blair said slowly. "Because it has. It's a shock. But it's a shock because I didn't know, not because of what it is I didn't know."
"That's clear as mud, Sandburg," Jim said. He took another bite of the apple, juice glazing his lips. "The scary thing is that I understand it. You're rubbing off on me."
"You wish. Or no, maybe you don't." They exchanged quick grins and then Jim nodded and turned away, the subject clearly closed as far as he was concerned.
"Jim? Just one question."
"What?" There was a wary defensiveness to Jim's tone now.
"You said I wasn't your type?"
Okay that stung just as much the second time.
"What -- who -- is?"
Jim shrugged, turned back, and leaned against the support pillar. "Tall. Built. Muscles. Big dick, tight ass."
"Sounds like masturbation," Blair said without thinking.
Jim gave him an amused look and visibly relaxed. "Trust me, it doesn't feel like it, and believe me, I know the difference." He pursed his lips. "You took this better than I expected."
"You know why I'm not freaking out," Blair said. There had been just enough encouragement in Jim's voice to make him truthful.
Jim nodded slowly. "Yeah. I guess I do. I just didn't want to mention it until you did. Is this where I say thanks for sharing?"
"If you want to," Blair said. He was aroused, he realized, just a little, aware of the body on display before him in a way he hadn't allowed himself to be before, when he hadn't known.
Jim bit a neat chunk out of the apple and mumbled a dutiful, "Thank you, Blair," around his mouthful.
"But I'm not your type," Blair said slowly.
"Not really." Jim's lips twitched. "Are you going to tell me what yours is?"
"Not you," Blair said, with a placid expression pasted on his face, willing himself to a deceitful calm. "I don't go for the hunks."
"Gee, thanks, Sandburg. Consider my ego crushed. Or was that a compliment?"
"Take it any way you like," Blair said generously. "Let's see…Younger than me by a few years at least. Definitely not taller." Blair gave Jim an appraising look. "Short hair, yeah, I guess you qualify there, but blond, not dark, and --"
"I get it," Jim said, a suspicion of a growl showing.
"Not from me," Blair said easily. "And if we're done confessing, I've got some papers to grade."
"And I've got laundry to sort." Jim shook his head. "You know, I might just skip that, thrilling as it sounds, and go out for a beer; want to tag along?"
Blair grimaced. "I would, but …"
"Another time," Jim said easily.
"Definitely," Blair assured him.
And watched Jim walk out ten minutes later in nothing more exotic than jeans, a T-shirt and a leather jacket, and knew what Jim was going to do because the body inside the clothes was moving with a sleek, predatory assurance.
Not his type. No. He'd meant it, too, but it didn't mean he wouldn't have settled for Jim's ass and mouth and strong, careful hands. He'd settled for a lot worse when he'd been horny and desperate in the past. Alan. God, Alan. He shuddered at the memory of a wet mouth and a sweat-rank body, and wondered if Jim could have been persuaded (seduced) into staying home to get his awakened itch scratched.
Probably not. Jim had left looking like a man prepared to enjoy the hunt as much as the kill.
Jim got back in around one in the morning, his eyes hazy with alcohol, the clean lines of his mouth blurred and bruised soft by sex, not kisses.
Blair swallowed, his mouth watering, literally filling with saliva, warm and soft, as the images flooded his head. Jim on his knees, mouth parted, hungry, with an assurance his position couldn't subdue. Jim letting his face get painted with come, his lips splattered with it, grinning up lazily at the man he'd reduced to a whimpering, grateful, weak-kneed supplicant. Jim jerking off as he sucked someone, efficient, cool, no mess.
Jim would be good.
Jim smiled across the room at him without speaking and a moment later the bathroom door slammed and a few minutes later, a naked Jim, scratching his ass, wandered off to bed, giving Blair a casual wave and showing off a red-dark mark halfway between throat and nipple where he'd been bitten hard.
Blair went to bed and, made strong by a spirit of rebellion and defiance, didn't jerk off. He wanted to -- oh, God, did he want -- but he didn't.
Not only was Jim not his type, but he was an arrogant, irritating --
The hair around Jim's cock had been a wiry cloud of brown, but his balls had been relatively hairless. Blair could feel the way they'd roll loosely across his tongue and swell and tighten when he mouthed them.
And to know what they looked like in that much detail, he had to have been staring and Jim would have noticed that.
He muttered, "Fuck," this time aloud, realized that Jim had to have heard him, and punched his pillow hard three times before settling down to sleep in a resentful seethe of lust and frustration…
… while above him Jim smiled into the darkness.
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