by Jane Davitt

Jim smells the vodka from clear across the room and wrinkles his nose. It clashes with the mulled wine in a way he can't articulate but doesn't like.

Or maybe he's just pissed at someone's idea of a joke. A single drink probably wouldn't do much harm to someone driving; the glasses are small and the concoction's too sweet to be drunk in volume. Laced with vodka, though, a glass is enough to send someone out to their car just that little slow in reacting, and the roads are slick with ice.

A quiet word in the ear of the server, whose blouse is decorated with a Rudolph brooch, red nose flashing (a sartorial crime even at this time of the year, but not one Jim's interested in prosecuting) and the punchbowl is whisked away.

Time to hunt down the joker.

Jim takes a deep, satisfied breath, smiles, all teeth, and startles a passing professor into spilling her drink (luckily club soda). It's at times like this that he loves having enhanced senses. His steps quicken and he's breathing lightly, quickly, heart thudding with excitement.

The flat, empty bottle makes the student's jacket hang down on one side. Too stupid to ditch the evidence, or too arrogant to think that he'd be caught? Jim doesn't care. He hauls the boy into an empty hallway and scares the shit out of the punk without breaking a sweat, gets his name, and promises reprisals.

The boy scurries off, shoulders hunched.

"You enjoyed that way too much," Blair says in his ear.

Jim grins. Busted.

"And you were good. I watched you. You didn't hesitate; just homed in on him."

Jim shrugs. "It was easy."

"A thousand different scents to sort through? A year ago, you'd have told me it was impossible." Blair sounds regretful. "You don't need me now."

"Never going to be true, babe," Jim tells him sincerely. "Trust me, when you said a sentinel needs backup, you were right." He steps in close and guides Blair's hand to the strong, hard pulse of his erection for a fleeting moment, listening for approaching footsteps without taking his attention away from Blair. "God, you were so right…"

"That's not your back," Blair says, his lips twisting in a smile, "and anyone can take care of that little problem."

"You're wrong about that," Jim says, ignoring the 'little'. They both know it isn't. "And if you want to watch my back, take me home and bend me over something when you fuck me; you'll have a great view of it then."

Blair's breath catches and the look he gives Jim is fierce, hungry as his hand reaches out. "That hunt really got you going, didn't it?" Jim nods, too aroused to speak now that Blair's playing with him. "I guess you earned a reward," Blair muses and Jim nods again, wondering what he'll get from Blair.

Blair who guides the hunt, and holds his leash tightly, just the way he likes it.

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