Point of Contact

Part Thirteen

Many thanks to T Verano for beta reading.

Blair woke up when someone knocked at the door, feeling the world blur and shimmer around him as he tried to remember where he was. Naps always did that to him, which was why he avoided them when possible, but emotional scenes tended to make him retreat to the oblivion of sleep no matter what the downside. It didn't help that he still wasn't used to waking up in Jim's bed.

He heard Jim talking to someone and then the front door closed. A moment later, he breathed in the rich, spicy smell of an Indian takeout and hunger snapped the world back into focus. He started to get up and then hesitated. Jim had told him to stay on the bed and wait, but he recalled Jim curled up beside him for part of the time he'd been asleep at least; a certainty pieced together from fragments woven through his dreams. Someone had stroked his hair and pushed it back off his face with gentle, careful hands, and Jim was the only one of his lovers who'd ever played with his hair like that. Most of the women he'd dated had wanted him to cut it.

If Jim had come up here and not done more than touch his hair, when he'd been sprawled out naked and ready -- Indignation and insecurity clashed, but hunger easily won the war.

He moved to the head of the bed -- not technically disobeying Jim's orders; still naked, still on the bed, still face down -- and called down to him through the railings. "Jim? Is any of that for me?"

Okay, he'd been told to stay silent, but he couldn't stop his stomach from growling audibly, so totally quiet just wasn't an option.

"I'm hungry enough to eat it all, but I'll share if you get dressed and down here in the next thirty seconds or so." Jim sounded normal, which was both reassuring and not. Blair couldn't move that quickly between the emotional tempest of earlier to calmer seas and he found himself hoping that Jim couldn't either and the normality was fake.

He put his shorts on under his jeans this time, with the vague idea of not tempting fate, even if it did add another ten seconds to the time it took to get dressed, and hurried down the stairs.

Jim glanced up and gave him a faint smile, his hands busy with unpacking a brown paper bag, grease-stained on one corner, leaking sauce. "I hope you like Indian food. I ordered from the mild end of the menu, so it should be safe."

"Hey, I've eaten it in India," Blair assured him. "Love it. Naomi always says the hottest curries are in England, though, and I've had those, too."

Jim grinned, this smile looking less forced. "Okay. Next time we go for the vindaloo or the phal."

Next time. Blair let himself relax at the reassurance implicit in those two words. "Works for me."

He helped Jim set the table and they ate with a greed hunger made forgivable, sharing the three dishes Jim had chosen and the rice. They dipped torn-off pieces of naan bread in the aromatic sauces surrounding chunks of chicken and vegetables, and kept the conversation firmly, if surreally, given the events of earlier, on food.

Finally, Jim pushed his plate away and took a last drink from his bottle of beer, an imported Danish lager Blair found stronger than he was used to. "Okay, I'm done. I can't walk farther than the couch, but I'm happy."

Blair scooped up one last mouthful of basmati rice and then sighed in agreement. "I might explode but it's a good way to go."

"A wafer-thin mint?" Jim suggested, with a wiggle of his eyebrows.

Blair snickered. "Hey, you like Python; that's so cool, man. Have you ever seen…?" His words faded and he swallowed, having reached saturation point on more than food. "Jim --"

"Yeah, I know." Jim stood and walked over to the couch. "We have to talk, right?"

"I guess we do," Blair agreed sadly. He liked talking and he was good at listening, but he wasn't looking forward to this conversation, necessary though it was. He made a point of sitting beside Jim on the couch, keeping the distance between them an emotional one, not a physical one. If Jim needed him, he wanted to be close.

"I can't tell you how sorry I am," Jim began.

"Yeah, you can. You just say, 'Blair, I'm really sorry.'"

"It'd be nice if it was that easy." Something in the bitterness of Jim's voice made Blair wince. He was used to Naomi's easy to earn forgiveness, bought with an hour or so of earnest discussion and a hug.

"It is," he insisted. "Jim, I'm not going to pretend you weren't a total fucking asshole, because you were, but if it helps, when you apologize, I'm going to accept it."

"Maybe you shouldn't," Jim said bleakly.

"Maybe I'm the one who gets to decide that," Blair said with some asperity. "Just say it, okay?"

"You're feeling sorry for me, is that it?" Jim demanded. Anger was better than apathy, but Blair really wasn't in the mood for another fight.

"No. If you mean sorry because of what Simon told me, well, yeah, you had a rough deal, but it was a long time ago and it seems to me you've dealt with it pretty well. I'm looking at you now and I'm not seeing someone I need to pity."

"So why the quick forgiveness?"

"Don't you want it?" Blair asked, sincerely puzzled by Jim's reluctance to be absolved. "Shit, Jim, I thought I was the one who enjoyed being spanked, not you. If you want me to bawl you out, I will, but --"

"I think I'd feel better if you did," Jim admitted. "Partly because it's more what I'm used to when I screw up big time -- and this was huge, I know it -- and partly because, well, I think you're fooling yourself when you say you're over it. It's too soon for that, and I'd rather deal with it now, not have you bring it up a week from now, out of nowhere."

Blair pushed his hair back off his face and gave a gusty sigh. "Okay. Okay, yes, that makes sense. I can internalize my hostility sometimes -- are you laughing?"

"A little bit," Jim said, his mouth twitching. "Go on."

"Fine," Blair said, goaded. "If you want to know what I'm thinking, it's that you should listen to yourself sometimes."

Jim leaned back against the couch, one arm resting across the back of it, urbane and relaxed now, on the surface at least. Blair noted the way Jim's knuckles were pale points of bone under skin and didn't make the mistake of accepting the façade at face value. "Not following you, Chief."

"You told me that a relationship, especially one like ours, is based on respect and trust."

Blair could hear Jim saying it, feel his own impatience as he'd tried to urge Jim to tie him up… it seemed like a long time ago, not less than a week.

"True," Jim said cautiously.

"How much of either did you show me after you walked through the door tonight?"

He watched Jim process that question and then spoke without giving him time to answer. "None. Zero. And that's just not like you, which is why it -- why I -- fuck." He wanted to crawl closer and get Jim's arms around him, but he held himself in place. "Respect. Those things you said to me -- the names you called me -- God, Jim. Way to go, you know?"

Jim flinched, his pose cracking. "Yeah… Blair, you know I didn't mean --"

"Naomi always says it isn't alcohol but anger that brings the truth out." And he had to stop quoting her, but for all her flaws, she knew a lot about emotions and relationships. Not many people ever left her; she had the power to captivate and charm. It was just a shame it wasn't anchored to anything remotely like the ability to commit.

"Does she?" Jim shrugged. "Can't say I agree in this case."

"No? I do."

"Blair," Jim protested. "Come on; you've got this way of looking at yourself -- judging yourself -- and it's just wrong. I don't see you that way."

"No?" Blair felt his face heat with an echo of the humiliation he'd felt, but he didn't back down. "You called me a -- a spank-happy little slut."

Jim sank his head in his hands and groaned. "Fuck."

Blair waved his hand dismissively. "Hey, don't beat yourself up over it. It's all true. Getting spanked does make me happy, and little… well, yeah. Compared to you and Simon, I am. Slut, well, maybe not that. Except when it comes to you, maybe I am. I don't think there's much I wouldn't do when it came to sex if you told me to, and when I'm with you, I want you pretty much all the time. If you can be a slut with just one person, then, yes, I am with you."

Jim was watching him now, a question flickering in his eyes.

"What?" Blair asked.

"Just me?"

"Well, yeah." Blair frowned. "Come on, Jim!"

"So what did you think of Simon?"

The question was simple and direct in about the same way as a brick thrown at him would be. Blair sucked in a surprised breath. "Uh, big? Intimidating? Loves the hell out of you?"

"All of those." Jim nodded. "I met him as he was leaving."

"Ah." That explained both the delay in Jim arriving and his mood.

"He seemed taken with you."

"Ooh, I don't know about that," Blair said uneasily. Was Jim jealous? No; how could he be? "He wasn't all that happy to find me staying here. Called me worse names than you did, although he took them back."

"Guess you changed his mind fast, Chief." Jim gave him the seraphic smile Blair was starting to view as a warning flag. "Must have been the way the thought of him tying you up turned you on. Simon always did like being appreciated."

"It so did not." Blair cleared his throat, realizing that he wasn't fooling Jim, and coated his reply with some truth. "Okay, maybe as a fantasy it could work for me, but for real? No way. And when I thought about it, just thought, Jim, you were there, front and center, and Simon was just… watching. If I got off on anything, it was us putting on a show for him."

Jim considered that in silence and then nodded. "Maybe for his birthday," he said, which left Blair floundering until he remembered just what they'd been discussing. Another of Jim's distractions; it had to be. He was starting to see that Jim would cheerfully use Simon as both weapon and threat if he thought it would help him, and guessed that Simon wouldn't do more than smile indulgently if he knew.

"This isn't about Simon," he told Jim. "It's about what happened between us. Even though what you called me wasn't that far off base, it was still said to hurt me, and you were laughing at me and what gets me off, and you said you'd never do that, so, yeah, full disclosure time, that pissed me off."

"Laughing? No." Jim studied his hands, locked together now in his lap "I envy you and Simon. You're both so sure of what you want, and it's achievable; there're plenty of people out there who'd love to give you just what you want, Blair; Simon's not ideal, because you like sex with whoever's topping you, too, and he doesn't really go for men, but someone like him."

"Yeah," Blair said flatly. "You gave me a list. I know. I don't want them. Any of them. I just want you."

"Chief…" Jim's smile was warm, inviting, and Blair again fought back the need to touch him. Jim made a good security blanket; too good.

"Trust," he said. "You lashed out because, what? You assumed what Simon had told me would freak me out, have me packing and you were angry?"

"Something like that," Jim admitted, his tone guarded now, his smile tucked away.

Some of the truth, not all of it then? Blair continued pushing, determined not to let this go until he knew.

"You didn't trust me to stay. Well, tell me, Jim, just tell me; what the hell did Simon reveal that I didn't already know? He told me you were a soldier; knew that. A hero; would have put money on it. Bisexual and with poor taste in men; really not news --"

"Hey." Jim reached out and grabbed Blair's arm and shook him to silence. "Stop it. I know who you must mean, and if you ever compare yourself to him again, I'll gag you for the whole fucking day, you hear me? And he was a mistake, sure, because I didn't realize he was using me, not that way, anyhow, but Simon's got this way of acting like I was in love with the twisted little bastard and I wasn't. Simon might not have known his reputation, but I did. I just didn't care. I wanted what he was offering and I took it because hell, I'd earned it. After what had happened on that mission, I needed it. Okay?"

Blair nodded mutely and Jim's hand fell away. He licked his lips uncertainly and continued, his voice subdued. "Married, divorced, a hooker. Knew it already, all of it." His voice gathered strength. "Jim, you know that! Why would you think I'd leave now?"

Jim frowned. "I don't -- I didn't think it through. Carolyn left and I just assumed --"

"She didn't already know about you," Blair interrupted. "I do. And you can fucking trust me next time, okay?"

"I wasn't all that angry, well, not with you," Jim said abruptly. He met Blair's gaze directly, the tips of his ears going pink. "I was scared."

"What of?" Blair knew the answer as soon as he asked the question and his mouth split in a wide, delighted smile. "Oh, my God, you were scared of losing me."

Jim gave him a look which could only be interpreted as exasperated, the embarrassed flush fading. "That can't be news to you, Blair."

"It is; well, no, I suppose it isn't, but, yeah, yeah, it is."

He'd had enough. He moved before Jim could stop him and straddled Jim's lap. "If I tell you I'm going to kiss you when you accept that I accept your apology, will you accept it?"

Jim's eyes lit with amusement. "Depends on how good a kiss it is. Are we talking tongue here or a peck on the cheek?"

"What do you think?"

"I think you can go ahead and kiss me."

Blair allowed himself a small, smug smile. See; he could do it. Relationships weren't as tricky as people made out. He'd just got through an argument and a reconciliation in a matter of hours and Jim was smiling at him and kissing him back and --

"We haven't finished talking yet."


Blair pulled back, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and sighed. "We haven’t?"

"No." Jim leaned in and gave Blair one last kiss, his hands running slowly up and down Blair's arms. "And you're going to need to get off me, sport, because between you and the curry…"

For once, Blair didn't feel flustered or rejected; maybe because when he slid off Jim's lap, Jim hauled him in close, his arm around Blair's shoulders, his other hand petting Blair; slow, light touches that left Blair wanting more.

"We need to start over, Blair. We've been responding to everything that's come up in this off the cuff, instinctive way, starting with me knocking on your hotel door and not walking away, and it's left us in a place I don't want to be."

"Oh, God, I knew he was wrong," Blair said, blurting out the words, his elation at the thought of being wanted that much -- enough for Jim to be cruel -- fading. "You don't want me here, do you?"

Jim rested his forehead against Blair's shoulder and sighed. "He. Simon, right? Okay, what the fuck did he say? God, I'm going to kick his ass, I swear it. I'm younger; I work out; I can take him."

"He said you didn't want me to find a place to live in the city," Blair said without any qualms about sharing. Simon had told him to tell Jim the truth, after all. "That you wanted me to move in with you."

"Oh, that." Jim shrugged. "Yeah, I do. You mind?"

"I mind that you didn't just ask me." Why did everyone assume he was a mind reader, for God's sake?

"I thought I wouldn't need to," Jim said slowly. "That you'd get it without being told."

"No. And that was dumb."

"I often am." Jim's hand stroked the side of Blair's face, finding places to touch that Blair wasn't sure had ever been caressed before. How much of his body had only ever been kissed, touched, learned and conquered by Jim? Virgin territory, except that pun was too obvious to be worth more than a groan and an eye roll. "Move in?" Jim suggested. "Try it? All your stuff, not just a box or two? I give you a key; you learn how to work the coffee maker?"

Blair's reaction to the idea when Simon had broached it had been pure shock, but that had worn off during his nap. He wasn't sure how it would work out, or what Jim would be like to live with; tidier than he was, that was for sure. The appeal of an apartment hadn't been based around a yearning for solitude and independence; he'd had that most of the time at his mother's house. No, it'd been the need to have somewhere of his own, where he could see Jim, uninterrupted, unobserved.

Living with Jim would accomplish that, and it'd give them the chance to get to know each other really well.

There was also the fact that a few nights of sleeping next to Jim had left Blair contemplating a bed with no Jim in it with something close to despondency. Jim might take up more of the mattress than he was entitled to, and have a tendency to drape a heavy arm across Blair at three a.m., which was no time for a hug, but he was a solid, sexy, infinitely comforting person to share a bed with.

 Blair only kept Jim waiting for the space of a few breaths before saying casually, "Sure. And thank you." His confidence deserted him and he added, "But you know, if it doesn't work out, just say, and I'll be out of your hair before you can finish telling me to get lost."

"I expected you to argue more," Jim said, ignoring the last part of Blair's words, which, Blair supposed, was as a good an answer as they deserved.

"I want to move in with you," Blair said simply. "What would be the point of trying to argue you out of inviting me?"

Jim smiled a slow, wide, and happy smile. "Well, all right then."

"So…" Blair wriggled closer and tried to look like someone who needed kissing.

"No." Jim pushed gently at Blair's chin. "You look at me like that and we'll never get this mess sorted out."

"What mess?" Blair said. "It all looks good from here." He was staring at Jim when he said it, so he was certain of his facts.

"I don't know what I want to be to you," Jim said abruptly. "I don't know how far you want to go or if I'm ready to go there with you."

"Oh." Blair swallowed. "Jim, you know we don't have to -- all the, the bondage and the spanking and -- if it's not working for you, we can skip it."

"Sure we can," Jim agreed, his expression somber. "And I know I can keep you happy enough in bed that you won't even miss it for, oh, a month, maybe two. Then you'll get an itch and you'll want it scratched, and I'll do it, because it's you, and we're back here, fighting." His voice was gentle, inflexible. "I want better than that for you. And for me."

"Help me out here," Blair begged. "And I've said from the start that I didn’t like this being all about me."

"I know." Jim moved away from him, putting a foot of space between them but not going far enough away that Blair couldn't have stretched out his hand and touched him. He'd noticed that Jim rarely did go out of reach. "And I've never kept it a secret that the whole Dom/sub scene isn't something I've ever done for fun; it's always been part of my job. I'm good at it, good enough for the clients, anyway, but I'm not into it heart and soul."

"It feels like you are," Blair said. "When you're doing it to me. I can tell."

"So maybe I'm your slut," Jim said, tangling his hand in Blair's hair and winding a few strands around his fingers. "I have to say, that first time I spanked you… that worked for me. Blew me away."

"Oh, God, yes," Blair said fervently. Just the thought of that night had the power to arouse him. He poked Jim in the ribs. "I still can't believe you didn't let me watch."

"I will next time, babe," Jim promised, his voice husky enough to be felt across every nerve ending Blair had.

"You're into it with me," Blair repeated. "You are, Jim. And you wouldn't be as good at it as you are if you hated it."

"Now, there, you're wrong," Jim told him. "I'm good at a lot of things I don't enjoy doing."

"Name one," Blair challenged.

"Killing people," Jim said succinctly. "Drop it, okay?"

"Dropping," Blair said. "God, Jim --"

"It doesn't matter, anyway," Jim said. "And I don't hate it; you know I don't. Just not… I don't need it. You do, and I can't think about you getting it from someone else without wanting to practice some of those skills we're not going to talk about on them."

Blair stripped the hyperbole from that threat and was still left with the conviction that Jim was on a possessive, protective trip. Surprisingly, it didn't make him feel stifled, but sheltered. For now, anyway. Just while he found his feet. And if Jim didn't back off a few weeks down the line -- and the guy could give lessons to mama hens -- Blair would point out that submissive didn't mean helpless. Which Jim already knew, so it wouldn't be a problem, he was sure of it.

"I can't even see myself sharing you with Simon, and he's the closest friend I've got," Jim continued, "which means I guess you're stuck with me as long as we’re together."

"I'll be brave," Blair said dryly. "It's a hardship, but I'll bear -- ow!"

Jim grinned, kissed his thumb, and rubbed it over Blair's pinched nipple, throbbing beneath his T-shirt from that sharp twist of Jim's fingers. "All better," Jim said. "So, we need to find out how far you want to take this."

"We do?"

"Yes," Jim said. "We do. You've already gone beyond what most people do for kicks once in a while. Not much beyond, but still… And you liked it." He gave Blair a thoughtful look. "Loved it," he amended. "But it's still just something you're playing with. Two people whose judgment I trust say you're a natural sub; you're going to want more than this; the question is, how much more?"

"I don't have a freaking clue," Blair said frankly. "I don't see me doing it 24/7, Jim. I know people do --"

"Not as many as you'd think, but, yes, some do. They wear their collars all the time; they're owned; their choice. And some save it for pre-determined times and places, and most of the time they just get on with their life and you'd never know from looking at them what they were." Jim shrugged. "Well, someone like Sam would, I guess. There isn't a right or wrong way to do it, Blair; just what's right for you. And me."

"And I don't have to decide right away," Blair said. "Right?"

"I'd like to say you didn't, but…" Jim looked at him. "I need to know soon, Blair. I'm worried about fucking this up for you by not being enough, or by coming on too strong. See, I'm -- I've done --" He paused, his mouth tight, and then said, "I'll go as far as you want to, short of anything that leaves you permanently scarred. That's my limit; my red light. Which still leaves a lot you haven't tried, and that's an understatement."

"What? Scarring? Man, that is so not a problem." Blair felt his mouth go dry, not with the fascination he'd felt looking around the sex shop, but with shock. "I don't want that. I -- God."

"No?" Jim flicked at Blair's nipple, sending a not unpleasant twinge of pain radiating through it. "How about if I said I wanted you to get your nipple pierced? Both of them?"

Blair thought about that. He liked the idea, if the echoing throb of approval from his dick counted as a vote in favor. Maybe he could get his ear pierced, too; he loved the way the earring in Jim's ear looked. "I could go for that."

"It's a hole through your skin," Jim said bluntly. "I'd like it, but it's not something I'd ever order you to do, because it's still damage, still permanent. It would have to be your choice, not mine."

"It's not the same thing!" Blair protested. "You're talking, I don't know, whip marks or something, right?"

"I'm talking you chasing an edge, a release, and getting to the point where you only achieve it when you're bleeding. Whip or knife… I've seen people beg for both and get it."

"Oh, man, that's just sick," Blair muttered, and shuddered with revulsion.

Jim eyed him with more disfavor than he ever had. "I could say the same about you getting off on a red ass and kneeling for me. The average person would lump you in with them as a freak. You're in no position to judge, so don't."

Shame washed over him. "Sorry."

"Yeah. You should be." Jim's expression softened. "But it's a difficult lesson to learn. It took me months before I realized I was never going to get good at giving my clients what they wanted unless I stopped pitying and despising them for wanting it." Jim grimaced. "Up to a point. Under age, unwilling -- never. And once, when it was kids, young kids, someone wanted -- well, I worked with the cops and got him put away. It's one reason the agency's not hassled; we're clean in the ways that count, and the cops know that. But as long as it's something the clients are doing to themselves, I'm not going to claim a moral high ground, no matter what it is. I just won't be the one who gives it to them past a certain point."

"Do you have people who will?" Blair asked, wondering if he really wanted to know the answer.

"Not directly," Jim said, the evasion a warning that Blair was crossing a line. "I know where to send them. My clients -- most of the time, it's just sex, no frills, though Simon and Sam have gotten us a good reputation for the kind of sex you like --" Blair felt the rebuke in that and sighed. Jim really hadn't liked the "sick" comment, had he? "But I guess you know, or you wouldn't have chosen us." Jim frowned, his expression going from stern to quizzical. "I never asked how you came to call Rhonda that night. It's not like we advertise that side of it; word of mouth and repeat business keep us busy, but you're not in that particular loop yet."

He'd always known that Jim would ask that question; in some ways, he was surprised it'd taken that long. He didn't have an answer ready that made him look good, any more than he'd had one when Naomi had asked him what Jim did.

He went with the truth and pared it down to a sliver because even now he could remember the way he'd been shaking, palms damp, face scarlet. "I hung around a hotel bar and watched someone get picked up by a hooker. And, yes, you could tell that's what she was. When she came back downstairs alone, I followed her out and asked her --" He swallowed. "She, uh, didn't do what I wanted, but I guess she felt sorry for me, because she told me to call you. Well, not you, but the agency."

"How much did it cost for her to feel that sorry?" Jim asked, not unsympathetically.

Blair took a deep breath, steadied by a burst of irritation at Jim's perceptiveness; short-lived, but intense. "You really can be a cynical son of a bitch, Jim, do you know that?"

"How much?" Jim repeated mercilessly

"A hundred," Blair admitted. He glared at Jim who was trying to hold back a grin. "Hey, it was worth it, wasn't it?"

Jim's expression softened. "It was, but let me tell you, she still owes you. A hundred bucks for a phone number? God."

"If I ever see her again, do you want me to tell her that?" Blair asked. "Demand a quick hand job, maybe to balance the books?"

"I'm not the only son of a bitch in the room," Jim said wryly. "You'd better not, Chief." He didn't sound too concerned, but it'd been a threat as empty as outer space and they both knew it. "Where were we? Oh, yeah… I know my limits; we need to find yours. And it isn't a limit as such, but I've got to tell you, I can't see me having the patience to make this work as a lifestyle. Now and then, for the day, yeah, might be fun, but not every day. It starts being a chore, not a pleasure."

"Huh?" Sometimes, Jim verged on cryptic.

"It's okay," Jim said. "You told me you didn't want 24/7 anyway, so it shouldn't be an issue."

"Sure," Blair said tentatively, feeling his way through what felt like a lot of hidden layers and reluctant to admit that he didn't really know what Jim meant. "I like sex, but it's not the only thing I like doing. And you can have too much of a good thing, though it's a theory I'd like to test."

"I'm not talking about actual sex," Jim said patiently. "I'm talking about you relating to me as my sub, with that influencing every word you say, where you stand, how you behave -- you under my control, obeying previously agreed rules we'd worked out. I'm talking you being trained and putting that training into practice from anything to bringing me a drink to, oh, I don't know, washing the dishes."

"Oh." Blair tried again, because that had emerged as a startled squeak. "That -- Jim, that's -- I don't think I'm ready for that."

"Every Dom I know would agree," Jim said dryly. "But I'm a little more forgiving of your limitations. Is it something you'd want to try?"

Blair held up his hand. "Give me a minute." Jim nodded and without moving, gave the impression of retreating into his own thoughts, leaving Blair free to do some thinking of his own without feeling pressured.

He knew now what Jim wanted from him, but he wasn't sure he could give him an answer that was complete or final, because how the hell could he, mired in what he was beginning to see was abysmal ignorance, for all the research he'd done? And he could ask Jim to give him a day like that, but he suspected that if he knew it was temporary and if he went into it cold, it wouldn't give him an idea of what it was like for real, and he'd spend most of the day asking Jim questions until Jim finally got out that gag and used it.

Part of him had lit up like a pinball machine at Jim's matter-of-fact description, though, and he knew he was going to have to try it, and the hell with the inherent problems. And another part of him, the coolly objective part, knew that it was never going to be something he could sustain indefinitely.

"I want to at least try it," he said finally. "If it's as big a turn on as it sounds, then it could be something we did from time to time, maybe, but you know, Jim, what we have here is good, really it is. Sex without frills and throw in the occasional spanking -- I'm down with that, really I am."

Jim grinned at him. "I think for you, I'd throw in a few frills, Blair. Okay. Good enough for now."

"It is?" Blair blew out a relieved sigh. "Can we -- uh, can we --?"

"If you can't ask for it without a stammer or a blush, you don't get it," Jim said, with a lazy stretch that put his long, powerful body on display. "New rule. Make a note."

"Can we go to bed?" Blair said, giving Jim a glare. "And I'm feeling too full for anything energetic, but I wouldn't mind getting naked and taking it from there, and no, I'm not blushing. I just don't like the idea of planning in advance."

"We can," Jim said with a nod, "but you're not going to get to come until tomorrow night, if then, just so you know before you start something I won't finish -- or let you finish solo."

"Is this some kind of test?" Blair said suspiciously.

"No. It's the start of me driving you out of your mind with lust." Jim was grinning but Blair wasn't. He knew just how easily Jim could do that, for one thing. "Tomorrow night, I want you hungry. I want your body screaming "fuck me" and everyone listening lining up to be the one to do it, except they'd have to go through me first." Jim's smile was pure predator now and arrogant as hell. "And when they see who you're with, they won't even try, but they'll still enjoy watching you."

"Excuse me?" Blair demanded. "Are we talking theoretical people, or are you planning on throwing a party in the bedroom?"

Jim's eyes narrowed, though they were too amused for Blair to think he was genuinely annoyed. "Lose that attitude or you're going to get us both kicked out."

"Of where?"

"Club Z." Jim slid his hand under Blair's T-shirt, and his fingers homed in on the other nipple this time and teased it to hardness. "I'm going to take my sweet little slut out for a walk on the wild side."

Blair rallied from that revelation to say, "Call me that again and I'll --"

"What?" Jim mouthed at the nipple he'd been tormenting through Blair's T-shirt, and bit down. "What will you do to me, sweetheart?"

"Anything you want," Blair said, lying under Jim now on the couch, breathless and anticipating what was going to happen next, even if Jim wasn't going to let him come. "Just call me that again."

"I don't like repeating myself," Jim said. He shoved Blair's T-shirt up high. "Yeah, a ring, maybe two… one in each…"

"Jim… say it," Blair begged, squirming against the wet tickle of Jim's mouth. "Please."

"I'll say what I think you liked best about it," Jim said. "How about that?"

Intrigued, Blair nodded.

"'My'," Jim said. "All mine. My slut."

Blair fitted his hands to the shape of Jim's jaw and nodded and felt Jim's widening smile warm his palms.

Part Fourteen

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