Many thanks to T Verano for beta reading.
Jim cursed as the brake lights on the car in front of him flared red and dimmed, three times in quick succession. The message from the driver was clear enough: back off, asshole, and stop tailgating me, but Jim couldn't help crowding him.
He needed to get home. He needed to get home now.
Simon wouldn't. Not a chance. And Blair wouldn't let him if Simon tried. Which he wouldn't.
So there was no real need to be driving as fast as he could, going through lights that had turned red for the car ahead, let alone his, and generally being the selfish, reckless son of a bitch he usually shook his head over, wondering why people drove like that; what was their goddamned rush?
Well, he knew now. They were breaking their necks trying to get home before their fucking best friends tied their fucking boyfriends to the fucking -- no. No.
Simon wouldn't. Not a chance. And Blair wouldn't let him if Simon tried. Which he wouldn't
That mantra was starting to lose its calming effect.
It wasn't as if, deep down, he didn't know that it wasn't happening. Blair had been pissed and it had been his way of challenging Jim -- oh, bring it on, Chief, he said silently, his fingers tight on the steering wheel. You want me to take you in hand? Teach you what I'll put up with and what I won't? Show you what happens when you push me this far?
He closed his eyes against a pleasant vision of Blair, ass spanked red, kneeling in the corner watching Jim jerk off, Blair's hands tied behind him, his dick aching, hungry for a touch it wouldn't get for hours, not until Blair had -- well, maybe not hours… no sense in Jim suffering as well as Blair…
A horn blared and Jim jerked out of the fantasy to see the light on green and a space in front of him.
His foot stabbed at the gas pedal and the car shot forward.
He'd laugh about this later, he was sure he would, but right now he was wondering just how much he'd annoyed Simon earlier. Enough for Simon to do it if Blair asked him to?
No. Simon wouldn't. Not a chance. And Blair wouldn't let him if Simon tried. Which he wouldn't.
But Simon had been close to losing his temper --
"Got a minute, Jim?"
Jim glanced up. "Sure, Simon."
"What, again?" Jim led the way and then turned to give Simon an exasperated look. "This had better be about what that new girl did on her trial run."
"Laura?" Simon grimaced and sat on the edge of Jim's desk. "Yeah… it's good she didn't go along with what they wanted, but --"
"Throwing a drink in their faces isn't the way to say no," Jim finished. "If they'd been real customers, we'd have been stuck with their dry cleaning bills, not to mention the fact that one of our people making a scene in a hotel we use a lot doesn't make us look good. Diana was impressed with her up to that point, but I don't know… someone with a fuse that short isn't going to be much use to us."
Simon shrugged. "Your call."
"She walks," Jim said flatly. "We start to compromise and we lose our reputation for quality service. We've worked too hard to get it."
"Fine." Simon cleared his throat as Jim walked toward the door, which Jim had expected. No way Simon was going to let him off this particular hook. "That wasn't all."
"No," Jim said, turning back. "That wasn't any of it. You want to talk about Blair. I don't. Take the hint, why don't you?"
"You're still seeing him?"
Jim smiled. His day had started with Blair's mouth on his dick, sucking him with a fervor that compensated for lack of technique. Not the worst blow job he'd had, though, not by a long way. Blair remembered what Jim had liked before and did it, and if that wasn't what Jim felt like just then, he got the message and tried something else. Jim approved of initiative like that, even if Blair's ambitious attempts to deep throat him -- at least he thought that was what Blair had been trying -- had ended in Jim waiting out a coughing spasm that had left Blair's eyes wet and his face red.
He realized that he was wearing a fondly indulgent smile and Simon was smirking. Shit.
"I'll take that as a yes," Simon said. "Especially as I already knew you were." He gave Jim a reproachful look. "Why do I have to hear from Rhonda that he's moved in with you?"
"Rhonda talks too much," Jim said. He gauged the amount of hurt in Simon's expression and relented. "He hasn't moved in, not really; just staying with me while he finds a place of his own. Easier than driving in from his mom's place all the time."
"Bullshit," Simon said, drawing the word out.
"Open secret. You want him close."
"I want him safe," Jim snapped. "I want him where I can keep an eye on him and not spend the day worried that he's -- that he's --"
He paused. He really didn't want to tell Simon what Blair had done as his inexperience had given way to enthusiasm, or what he thought Blair might do next (please God, let it not be braving Club Z on his own). It was between them.
"Look, why not come over tonight and meet him?" he offered. "After your shift. Stop by for a nightcap."
"Sure," Simon said, his voice neutral. "Love to."
"Great." Jim gave him a happy smile, relieved that it'd been that easy. Simon and Blair… no reason why they wouldn't get along… he liked them both, didn't he? More than liked, loved -- no, too soon, too soon for Blair -- but he did, even so. Fuck. Where had that come from?
"Just so I don't put my foot in it, though," Simon went on, casually enough that Jim tensed, his body singing out a warning, "how much have you told him?"
"Us." Simon gestured vaguely. "This place. You."
"Well…" Jim began. He stopped. Tried again. "He, uh, knows we served together and that we're partners now. Knows we're good friends."
"Sure we are," Simon murmured blandly. "Best buddies."
"He knows I was married and it didn't work out," Jim went on, hurrying now, panic licking like tiny flames at his heels. "And that's about it."
"Mmm-hmm." Simon's smile was all teeth, like a crocodile. "So you're doing it again. You don't learn from your mistakes, do you, Jim?"
"I've only just met him."
"And in a few months, you'll lose him; that what you want?"
The thought of Blair gone, walking away as Carolyn had done, had the power to hurt. "No."
"Then you'd better get both of you good and drunk and spill some tears and truth."
Even as Simon said it, Jim knew he couldn't. Memories, years-old as these were, never lost their edge. He relived them in nightmares, not dreams, and he just --
"You can't do it, can you?" Simon sounded weary, not disgusted, but Jim still screwed his eyes closed for a moment in shame at his cowardice.
"I will. Soon."
Was it still a lie when neither of them was fooled?
Jim took a steadying breath. Simon had gone over to the loft early -- hours early, dammit, to help out. Because he'd known Jim would never tell Blair what Blair needed to know.
Except, maybe he would have. Maybe there wasn't much he couldn't tell Blair, when it came down to it, because there wasn't anything Blair couldn't tell him. He tried to feel some indignation that Simon had taken away his chance to be brave and honest and a lot of other excellent, character-building things, and couldn't.
Simon would have hit the high spots; there was still plenty he could share with Blair if he felt the urge.
Gratitude. Yeah. To Simon for telling; to Blair for listening.
Oh, God, what if Blair was as freaked and disapproving as Carolyn? What if Blair had packed and gone; wouldn't take long; most of his belongings were still at Naomi's --
He was going to kill Simon.
He drove faster and found himself inches away from the bumper of the car he'd been tailgating earlier.
The driver gave him the finger and Jim snarled and dropped back a foot, no more.
Had to get home. Had to see Blair, kick Simon's interfering ass, if he was still there, and then tie Blair up so he couldn't run away, and the hell with that being wrong on every level.
Unless Simon had already seen to the tying up -- no, he wouldn't -- oh, fuck, not again.
Okay, this was what going insane felt like, had to be.
Jim leaned against the wall and watched Simon close the loft door behind him. He'd left the elevator and heard the rumble of Simon's voice and decided against pushing his way into a volatile situation.
One on one was better and he didn't want Blair to see this if it got nasty.
After that commute from hell, he felt that it might.
With a jerk of his head, he got Simon to follow him down the corridor until they were at a safe distance from the loft door. Knowing that Simon wouldn't have left if Blair was in any kind of restraints even allowed him to give the sneaky son of a bitch a tight smile.
"Early for a nightcap, Simon."
"Don't bother trying to make me feel guilty." Simon sighed and massaged the back of his neck. "God, I feel like crap."
"Twist a muscle stabbing me in the back?"
"Cheap shot." Simon eyed him sourly. "How old did you say he was? Is he even legal?"
"Nice, Simon, real nice. Thirty. And I've seen his driver's license."
"Huh. He's a babe in the woods. If he was older than you on paper, he still would be."
"I know." Jim smiled, taking a small amount of satisfaction in Simon's reaction to Blair. Told you so… "See why I want him close?"
"Oh, yeah." Simon chuckled. "Oh, yeah. And I see why you don't want him at Club Z unless he's wearing a hood the whole night."
"Wouldn't matter if he was," Jim said. Sam had a dress code for subs and the hood would be about all Blair was wearing. He'd be scared and aroused and the combination would draw way more attention than Jim would be happy with. "You haven't seen him naked." Jim fixed Simon with a stare. "At least, you'd better not have."
"Relax. The kid was blowing off steam because you pissed him off, and you know it." Yeah. He did. Now. "I pushed him at the end, just to see if he'd let me do it --"
Suspicion flared again. "Oh, you did, did you? And if he'd said yes?"
Simon raised his eyebrows. "You have to ask?"
Jim sighed, chastened by the indignation in Simon's eyes. "No. I'm sorry, Simon. I just -- he's got me -- oh, fuck."
Simon patted his shoulder, the familiar gesture momentarily comforting. "Yeah, I can see that. It's kind of amusing, really."
"What?" Jim jerked away from Simon's hand. "Fuck you, Simon. Amusing? Where the hell do you get off saying that?"
Simon blew out an aggrieved breath. "And we're back to hostile. I'm cutting you some slack here, but telling a complete stranger about a time I don't like thinking about any more than you do, well, it wasn't my idea of a good way to spend the day, you hear me? I did it because it needed doing, and it let you off the hook, but it doesn't mean I wanted to. And don't even think about trying that intimidating look because it won't work on me; never has."
Simon's gaze raked over Jim dispassionately. "You need to get in there now. Do whatever you have to do to get back where you think he needs you to be. And don't worry about pushing him; he can take more than you think. Sam was right; he's a natural. Wasted on you, because you don't need him on his knees, do you?" Simon shook his head slowly. "And he doesn't want to be anywhere else."
"That's your expert advice, is it?" Jim couldn't keep the sneer out of his voice. Better that than to have it shake. He knew Simon's judgment was rock-solid; he had a knack Sam envied of watching a crowd and spotting the true subs from any number of subtle clues lost on Jim. Simon wasn't telling him anything he didn't know, though; he just wasn't saying anything Jim wanted to hear. "Thanks. Send me your fucking bill."
He pushed past Simon and walked away, not looking back. Simon wouldn't follow him. They were done here.
If he'd found Blair waiting upstairs, his eyes warm with welcome, it might have taken the edge off his mood, but he didn't. Blair was sitting at the kitchen table, dressed in jeans and a white T-shirt, his feet bare. He stood as Jim came in, and walked over to him, stopping a few feet away. "Jim. Hey."
Blair knew. All the way home, that had been the thought Jim had refused to let surface. Blair knew about some -- not all, still not all -- of his failures, knew how he'd allowed himself to be broken and reshaped. Knew he was weak.
He'd spent his life letting people down and Blair had to be wondering if he was next to be disappointed. If the man had any sense, he'd run; go looking for someone strong like Simon.
A sick feeling of inevitability filled him and, as he had with Simon, he hid it under anger. "I thought I said I wanted you upstairs and naked."
Blair blinked, his only reaction to the snap in Jim's voice. "In a way, I am." He gave an uneasy chuckle. "In a way…"
Jim kicked off his shoes and left them in the middle of the room and then rolled his sleeves up with deliberate care. His head was aching, tension and pressure building. He'd felt like this before a mission, his rifle butt smooth against his sweating palms, his vision alternately preternaturally sharp or graying out. People usually ended up dead and bleeding soon after; it wasn't a comforting thought, even though he couldn't see himself hurting Blair. Not physically. Not deliberately.
"I know what naked looks like, Blair. This isn't it." He loosened his tie and dragged it off, tossing it over the back of the couch, and then gave Blair his most charming professional smile. "Hey, don't worry about it. You don't want to play, that's fine."
Blair frowned. "What? No, I do -- at least, well, we can if you want to -- I mean, you only just got in, but sure --"
"Stop fucking talking," Jim ground out, losing the smile. "Or talk sense."
Blair took a deep breath. "I was naked," he began. "Simon thought it was probably you in the elevator, so I…" Blair's gaze went back to the kitchen table for some reason. The table was empty of everything but a salt shaker, and Jim spared it an uncomprehending glance before turning his attention back to Blair. "I, uh, went upstairs, got undressed and lay down. But you didn't come in, so I figured it hadn't been you, and I felt, well, it felt weird just lying there waiting, you know? So I put some of it back on." Blair plucked at his T-shirt. "Just this," he said softly. "And my jeans. That's it."
Jim had to look. Had to. And for a dizzying moment, he got what Blair had meant when he'd said he was naked, because denim and cotton were clinging to skin and showcasing, not hiding, Blair's body. And a pulse was beating at Blair's throat, visible, tattle-tale proof of his nervousness.
"I can get undressed again in, like, ten seconds," Blair offered. "Just tell me."
"I told you what I wanted on the phone and you didn't do it." Blair opened his mouth and then closed it. "You know, Blair, this isn't how it works. It really isn't." Don't say it, don't do it… "If we were doing this for real --"
Jim curled his lip. "Oh, you have to be fucking kidding me."
Blair didn't flinch; if anything his stance became combative; his chin lifting, his eyes wary. "No. And if you want more, try me. I'm over being scared." He spoiled it all by adding, "I think," but Jim refused to allow himself to be captivated by Blair's ability to be disarming.
"Then why the hell aren't you where you should be?"
He'd raised his voice and he heard his father's voice echo dryly: First one to do that loses the argument every time, Jimmy. Every time.
"I know why," he said, his voice back where it should be, under his control, amusement and insinuation glossing it slickly so that the words came out easily, slipping past his lips before he had a chance to hear them in his head, censor them.
He closed the gap between them and circled around Blair, who held his ground, the rapid rise and fall of his chest the only sign of his emotions, his face blank. "Oh, yeah. I get it. Sorry; I'm a little slow today, aren't I?"
"Get what?" Blair said, his voice unforgivably calmer than Jim's.
Jim paused behind Blair and leaned in, touching Blair only with his words and each exhaled breath, hot and bitter. "You want me to punish you, don't you? A real spanking, not one given because you want it and I'm kind, but one you've earned by being disobedient."
"I don't think so," Blair said steadily. "No, I'm pretty sure that's not why I --"
"Oh, yeah, yeah, that's it." His mouth was so close to Blair's skin now. He could smell him, clean cotton, clean skin. You missed that when you were fighting. Missed being clean, the feel of it, the smell of it. Dirty skin itched almost as much as dried blood, and the stink of your body could keep you awake worse than being hungry or scared… "'S'okay, sweetheart, don't blush, don't lie. You want to be my bad boy, you only had to ask -- no, beg, you'd like that better, huh? Only had to beg me to spank you."
"Jim, this really isn't doing anything for me." That chuckle again, defensive, placating.
"But you're not stopping me. You're not walking away." Jim licked the side of Blair's neck just to see if it tasted clean, too, remembering the time he'd done that to a bar of fancy soap their housekeeper had put in the bathroom, black cherry soap, expecting it to taste of fruit. He'd been, what, five? Six? He could still recall the shock of disappointment. Blair's skin just tasted of skin, but it left Jim's tongue tingling. "And I bet you're hard, right? Let me see --"
"Fuck you," Blair said, warding off Jim's groping hand.
"Never going to happen," Jim said lightly. "I don't bend over for spank-hungry little subs like you."
"Unless we pay you to."
"Ooh, I'm hurt." He was; not the words, but the discovery that Blair could be petty enough to say them.
Blair finally moved, stepping forward, but Jim had been expecting that, and he stopped him. One of his hands clamped down on the back of Blair's neck, surprising a gasp out of him, and the other took advantage of Blair's reaction and slipped around to cup the half-hard swell of Blair's cock. He'd picked this hold up from Simon, and he knew Blair's body well enough even in this short a time to know that it would work on him.
He just wished he knew if Blair had been hard to start with and was softening, or if this was turning him on more than his attitude suggested. Simon would know -- and that thought wasn't helping him at all.
Blair whined, deep in his throat, and arched back against the hand at his neck, rubbing his groin restlessly against Jim's palm as if he thought they'd stopped arguing and this was foreplay now. Good luck there, kid, Jim thought. He was numb, cold with anticipation of loss, as far from arousal as he'd ever been in his life, closed off from it, no matter how much he wanted to respond to the promise of pleasure Blair offered. "Jim…"
"Slut," Jim whispered in Blair's ear and bit down on the sweet, tender skin of the lobe. "If you were mine, do you know what I'd do to you?"
Blair gave an exasperated snarl and twisted around, the movement unexpected and strong enough that it caught Jim off guard. Blair's hands cupped his face, his fingers digging in behind Jim's ears. "I am, okay? I am yours. God, you're so fucking stupid…"
Jim opened his mouth to answer and Blair tugged him down into a kiss that should have been clumsy, all spit and teeth, but wasn't. For the first time, Blair kissed him as an equal, without diffidence or hesitation, his grip not gentling until Jim kissed him back, helplessly lost in the feel of Blair's warm mouth on his. The insecurity that had marked everything that had happened between them was gone, maybe only temporarily, but Jim didn't care, because if this confidence was in Blair, he could get it to surface again. If there had been one thing holding him back, a nagging presence in the back of his mind, it had been Blair's lack of self-esteem. For a sub, that had to rank high on the list of things you just didn't want to see. Jim had been around Simon and Sam long enough to know that the best subs -- and the agency didn't employ anything but the best -- walked with a bone-deep confidence in themselves, unshakeable, profound.
Of course, that only mattered if he hadn't gotten Blair pissed off to the point of walking by being even more of an asshole than normal. The kiss was reassuring, but, hell, Blair was hard; nothing counted when you were aroused in Jim's experience; no reassurance, no words of love, nothing.
As if Blair could feel Jim's doubts, he eased up on the kiss, his mouth a bare, scant inch away from Jim's. "Tell me to get naked. Tell me you still want me.Tell me."
The sheer desperation that had crawled back into Blair's voice did what the kiss hadn't; Jim shook off his foul mood and left his guilt for later.
"Blair, you have no idea how much I want you." His body warmed, making the words true.
"Show me." Blair was back to demanding again, his eyes a blue glitter, sun on sea, his mouth delivering kisses like bullets, hard, fast hits on Jim's face and neck. "Fuck me."
"Oh, God…" He had to get control back, but he was losing it, losing everything just thinking about Blair spread out beneath him, open, eager.
"Please," Blair said, saying the word as if it was new to him and he was trying it out to see if it worked. "You want me to beg? I will. I'll beg. On my knees? I can do that --" You'd have to stop kissing me then, Jim thought. No. "Jim, will you please --"
"Blair, God," Jim said faintly. "Just -- stop talking, okay?" No. He had to do it better than that. Never make it a choice; never make it a question.
He stepped back, away from Blair's petting, distracting hands, away from the kisses and the anxiously questioning eyes. He had to do this right.
"Go upstairs. Strip and kneel by the side of the bed for a full minute. Count it off in your head. Then get on the bed and lie there, face down, and wait for me, for as long as it takes, in silence."
Blair started to speak and he held up his hand, palm out. "You'd better be about to say 'Yes, Jim'."
He would have bet everything he owned that Blair hadn't been, but when Blair spoke those were the words that came out of his kiss-flushed, tempting fucking mouth and Jim supposed that was progress.
He didn't watch Blair walk upstairs and he didn't join him for a long time, not until the loft was filled with shadows and his head was aching with the silence surrounding him.
When he did, Blair had fallen asleep and lay curled in the center of the bed, his hair dark against the pillow, his forehead creased, his hands clutching tightly at the sheets below him.
Jim sighed, and joined him, just for a little while, his unfed stomach giving a protesting grumble, his hand reaching out unwillingly to stroke Blair's hair.
He'd rest. Wake Blair up. Feed them both. And then -- no, it was blank after that.
He didn't have a fucking clue where they could go from here.
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