Jim's towel slipped and
he grabbed it, not, Blair thought, out of
modesty, but more an instinctive reaction to loss. He looked; looked
away fast. Not fast enough. Jim's eyes narrowed. The words, 'a-ha!'
trembled, unspoken between them.
Blair swallowed dryly. Caught. And Jim was way past suspicious -- too much certainty in his expression for that -- which meant all the times he'd thought Jim hadn't noticed him looking, maybe he'd been wrong, wrong, fucked.
He watched Jim's triumph fade to be replaced with indecision. Because nothing had been said, had it; it took words to make it count. And they could both walk away from this if they just didn't say anything…
Foolishly, ass backward, Blair ducked his head and stared at the book in his lap. "Yeah?"
Wrong, wrong, fucked again; someone says your name and you look at them. Blair forced his eyes up, a beat too late, feeling dizzy and out of step, and smiled, a distant, distracted fake smile.
Jim was going to say something. There was a roil of bad temper in the blue eyes, a flush of heat in his face that couldn't be down to the shower because Blair had run the water cool thinking Jim would sleep late and it would have time to heat up again.
And it wasn't as if Jim was all that used to guarding his tongue; he let fly with criticisms, comments, and acid observations at will, especially here, at home, in his space.
"I wish you wouldn't do that."
Jim hesitated. Second chance to walk away, Jim, Blair thought silently, forcefully. Take it, man, take it…
"Stare at me. Little sneaky peeks."
Not walking. Attacking. Jim warmed to it now he'd started and Blair's shoulder blades began to dig a hole in the back of the couch.
"Look, this is my home, okay? I'm not going to be made to feel like this because I go from the bathroom to my bedroom in a towel or eat breakfast in my shorts. It's not --"
"Feel like what?"
"Embarrassed. Awkward." Jim made a complex gesture with his hand. "It makes my skin crawl."
Ah. Blair rallied. "Typical heterosexual panic at the idea --"
"Fuck that," Jim said succinctly. "Naked in front of other men doesn't bother me. It's just when they're staring sideways, pretending they're not. The way I feel is a reflection of the way you feel and it's got to stop."
"What?" Blair stood up. "Hey; anthropologist, here! I know all about nudity taboos and I'm telling you, I am not embarrassed about anything. Did I ever tell you about the time I spent --?"
"Fuck that, too." Jim chewed the inside of his cheek, his arms folded across his chest, a ripple and swell of muscles on display. "You peek. You don't look. It's pissing me off. I don't like it."
"Fine." Blair felt breathless, put on the spot like this, pressed down by the weight of that accusing glare. "I'll close my eyes when there's more than six square inches of Ellison skin on display; how about that?"
"You think this is funny?" Jim jerked his chin, an aggressive, unconscious gesture that left Blair feeling that the next step would be grunting or territory marking. God, Jim was just way overreacting here… a few peeks, yes, but it wasn't like he'd meant them to be intrusive…
"No, and I get that you're upset. I'm sorry, okay?" Placate, calm, edge toward the door…
Jim nodded. "Right." He loosened the towel and allowed it to slide past the hook of his hips, exposing dark, damp hair against freshly washed skin, low down on his belly.
Blair's gaze did a well-practiced flick, Kodak moment, flick away, image burned into his memory.
"See?" Jim said, getting a good deal of menace into a single syllable. He drummed his fingers against his leg. "Right."
"I'm going to cure you."
"Two ways," Jim said, securing the towel again with neat, brisk movements. "I spend the weekend naked until you're so sick of the sight of my butt, you're begging me to get dressed again --" Not going to happen, Jim, not ever, Jim. "Or, as it's December and on the chilly side, I give you a few minutes to get an eyeful and it ends right here."
Jim went to the table and got a wooden chair, placing it in the middle of the room. "Sit."
Jim pointed at the chair. "Get your ass over here and sit down, Sandburg."
Because he was supposed to be the articulate one, Blair tried to come up with something better than his last two attempts but succeeded only in making a puzzled, baffled sound that only wished it was a word. By the time he'd given up, he was on the chair, drawn there by that pointing, expectant finger, his hands smoothing nervously over his thighs, and Jim was a few feet away, his hand on the support pillar by the counter, a slight smile on his face.
"You're going to stay there until you could ace a quiz on every freckle, every hair, okay? Look all you want without feeling sneaky or dirty." Jim sighed. "I'm so fucking sick of your hang-ups making me feel uncomfortable," he confided.
Blair gave an apologetic whine, way back in his throat, still speechless. Jim tossed the towel away and arched an eyebrow. "Front or back, first? You choose."
Blair felt his blood do a Mexican wave, rushing to his face, and back to his dick in a sweeping swoosh of confused corpuscles. He wasn't even looking at Jim; had his eyes fixed an inch above Jim's head, studying the grain in the wooden pillar Jim was leaning against. He couldn't meet Jim's sardonic, challenging eyes.
Only one choice, then, wasn't there? Blair found the ability to echo, if not to speak.
Jim pursed his lips as if divining the reason why Blair had gone with the option that meant he could stare unobserved and condemning it as cowardly. Then he shrugged, and turned, spreading his legs a little and propping his chin on his folded arms, resting them against the dark wood. "Tell me when you want me to turn around." He sounded vaguely bored, as if posing naked for Blair was on the to-do list, maybe somewhere between checking the truck's oil and defrosting the fridge.
Blair bit back a panicked whimper and knew, from the slight twitch of Jim's shoulders, that Jim had heard it anyway.
Shoulders. He was looking at Jim's shoulders. Somewhere between the turn and positioning, he'd started to look. Well, of course he had. Jim was right; he'd been doing this for months. Since he moved in. Hell, since they'd met and he'd walked through that hospital door and got a fleeting glimpse of Jim's chest and back as he worked his shirt over his head.
He didn't think this would cure him; the shriveling embarrassment had expanded, blossomed, bloomed into a devouring curiosity. Jim could stand like this all day and Blair wouldn't get tired of staring.
Though he might want to add touching, scenting, tasting… might want to hear Jim make sounds for him, encouraging, desperate, hot and needy…
Jim sniffed, a prosaic sniff, and relapsed into disinterested silence again.
Blair dragged his gaze up and started at the top. Got as far as the nape of Jim's neck, a paler stripe of skin exposed by a recent haircut, and found himself mapping every contour of Jim's ass with a greedy fervency and heartfelt appreciation.
It wasn't that Jim's back didn't appeal; it did. It was broad at the shoulders, divided, bisected, by a spine Blair wanted to lick his way down, from the bump of bone at the top to the hidden point at the base, buried in the deep, decisive cleft of… he was back at Jim's ass again, wasn't he?
So stare at it. Look at it. Jim's ass. Close enough (though out of reach) that Blair could see the faint matchstrikes of scratches where Jim's nails had dealt ruthlessly with an itch. Blair frowned, distracted from lust by a sudden concern. "Are you getting a reaction to that new soap?"
"The soap I got. The homemade stuff. Your -- you look like you've been scratching and I wondered …"
"No." Jim reached down and rubbed at his ass. "There?"
"No, it's fine. Just itched. You know."
With a twinge of guilt, Blair skimmed his gaze over the long legs, down, up, pause at the swaying shadow of Jim's balls, heavy and hinted at -- God.
"Uh…" He said 'yes' and Jim was going to turn. And he'd get to see Jim's dick which was going to be as much of a draw as Jim's ass had been and this time Jim would be watching, would see that Blair was panting, drooling, lusting after him like a fucking pervert because Jim was one hell of a good looking man and Blair didn't care.
No, he did care. He did. Let him touch and there wouldn't be an inch of Jim left unappreciated. Let him put his mouth on that body and he'd leave it kiss-flushed, spit-damp from the tips of Jim's ears to the soles of Jim's feet. Give him permission and he'd kneel in worship and Jim could stand there and be adored…
But if all he could do was look, he was going to spend it looking at what he hadn't seen except in conflicting fragments, more guess than glimpses.
"Could you close your eyes?"
"Jesus…" Jim muttered. "Okay, Sandburg."
He pushed away from the pillar, turned, his eyes closing as he did, so that Blair watched the blue get shrouded, saw Jim's face contort and then relax. Jim leaned back, standing straight enough that the wood was pressing against him from the back of his skull to the swell of his ass. He let his left hand hang down, curved, a cup of fingers and palm, an offering, a frame. His right arm came up to cover his blind eyes, the palm of that hand facing Blair, warding him off.
He was hard. Close to coming. As Blair's eyes widened, as Blair sucked in an astonished, shocked gulp and gasp, it jerked.
Like a rush of wind though an opened window, Blair heard a speeded-up playback of every sound he'd made in his head, unnoticed because he'd been too busy staring. Small sounds, barely voiced, clear as print to Jim who had been standing there listening, every sense he had turned up to fucking eleven.
Jim who'd stood, posed, knowing how much Blair was getting off on it, how aroused Blair was, how hungry.
I moaned, Blair thought. I think I said his name. I sounded like I do when I'm having sex. And it did that to him.
Blair sighed and leaned back in his chair.
"Move your arm, will you, Jim?" he asked, his voice soft, persuasive, gentle. "I want to see your face."
"No, you don't."
"Yeah, I really do." Jim's arm fell to his side and Blair hummed a thank you and traced the curve of Jim's hairline, the hollows at his forehead, the shape of his eyebrows…
"You can open your eyes now."
"I don't think so."
"I want you to."
Why that worked, Blair didn't know, but it did, and a second later he and Jim were locking gazes.
"Oh, man. You are just…" Blair sighed. "Thanks for ruining every date I'm going to have for the foreseeable future, because if they're male, they're just not going to come close to you."
Jim's lips twitched. "Is that so?"
"You know it." Blair broke the shared look and nodded down. "I know why I'm hard; what did it for you?"
He wasn't sure Jim would answer, even though that erection wasn't something you could ignore. The thick, transparent gloss of wet across the head… no, Blair couldn't ignore that, or the urge to take care of it with some well-aimed, slow passes of his tongue.
"Your face," Jim said after a moment. "When you were staring at my ass. Which was all you were staring at. Jesus, Sandburg, you were supposed to --"
"You could see me?" Blair shook his head at his own blindness. Sentinel. Give him a few reflective surfaces -- the loft was full of them -- and he could see behind him without turning his head. "Of course, you could. And don't tell me what I was supposed to do!"
Jim rolled his eyes, looking off to the side the way he did when he was uncomfortable.
"So now you know what I look like," Jim said. "You going to stop peeking?"
"You going to stop looking?"
"You going to start touching?"
Blair eased his legs apart and allowed himself the luxury of a hard scrub of the heel of his hand against the caught, captured throb of his erection and nearly came just from that.
He nodded, got his voice under control and husked, "I'll clean you up any way you want after I see you take care of that."
Jim smiled. "You've already seen that," he said mildly. "Three weeks ago. When I was in the shower and you were…"
"Peeking," Blair said without a shred of self-consciousness. "Yeah. I want to see it properly."
"You want to get an eyeful?" Jim asked, his hand trailing down over his chest and belly in a languid drift that still managed to get his hand on his dick in a matter of seconds.
Blair measured the distance between them and hitched his chair closer. "Go for it."
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