Point of Contact

Part Three


Blair lit a candle, white, unscented, and sank down in front of the table it stood on, the steady light level with his eyes. He needed this quiet space of time. Had to calm himself down before he picked up the phone and called Jim.

Jim. He snorted. Maybe he should start thinking of him as 'Mr. Ellison' as the guy had gone back to calling him 'Mr. Sandburg'. He said it under his breath a few times, fitting his breathing to the words, making it a mantra. It didn't work.

'Jim' did, though.

He heard himself solemnly chanting it and started to laugh, which ruined the mood so completely that he gave up, blowing out the candle with an impatient puff of air.

He watched the smoke spiral upwards, visible, intangible, dissipating quickly.

The marks Jim's hand had left on his ass had been visible and pretty damn easy to feel for a few precious hours, but they'd been gone by the morning. He'd hoped there'd be something left when he woke, but no.

The crop Sam had used to goad and prod him into doing things her way, at her speed, had hurt more but it hadn't been the right kind of hurt. He felt his body heat with the memory of those humiliating, dismissive flicks and the look on her face when he hadn't come.

Yeah. Like that was a new experience for him. When it came to disappointing women, he was an expert.

He wanted to blame her for the failure of that whole, disastrous encounter, but he couldn't. He'd asked for her, after all. Jim, who'd said she was just what he wanted; oh, yeah, he could blame Jim…

He spent a few minutes doing just that as the kettle boiled and he made himself some tea using a dubious looking teabag from a selection his mother had brought back with her from Guatemala. He sniffed the steam cautiously and took a small sip before pouring it down the sink with a shudder and getting himself a beer.

He'd asked for Sam and meant it when he'd told Jim why. Part of him was still trying to process the whole sex with a guy deal. He couldn't argue with the fact that it had been spectacular but how much of that was down to the spanking? He'd needed to find out.

And he had. Sam's slender, bony lap had been about as appealing a resting place as wet concrete and she was just so… small. He'd made no protest about being told to lie on his bed instead, a pillow under his hips. And if his skin hadn't been stinging in a dozen spots from that fucking crop of hers he might have been able to concentrate on her hand and what it was doing, but it had and he hadn't and it had been an annoying assault more than anything. Something to be endured.

And once she'd gone and he'd calmed down he'd realised that the main problem about Sam was that she wasn't Jim.

Somewhere between the phone call to the agency and the knock at the door, he'd gone from wanting to see Sam -- who had, oddly enough, looked just like he'd imagined her -- to expecting to see Jim.

Jim smiling down at him and murmuring something about another mix-up, and did Blair mind --?

He'd even made sure he had the whiskey they'd shared out on the table, ready to offer Jim a glass.

Fuck. Pathetic of him. The man wasn't going to deliberately get it wrong again. Not someone who took that much pride in his organisation.

And if Jim had sounded weird on the phone once Blair had mentioned Sam's name, it'd been because he'd come on too strong, telling Jim to call him by his first name, babbling…

Yeah. Women; men -- it didn't really make any difference; he could send both sexes backing away fast. Go him.

He chewed down on his lip. Was there really any point in blowing another five hundred dollars? And given his performance -- or lack of it -- with Sam, were those places and numbers Jim had sent him really worth pursuing?

"Give it up," he whispered into the silence of the house. "Forget it. You can't use a kink you don't have as an excuse. You're just a loser who can't get a date."

He might have listened to himself if he hadn't come a few hours later, tipped over the edge by a single flashback to Jim's hand over his mouth and Jim's husky voice, drawling, 'That's it? That's all you thought you wanted?'

If it had been, it wasn't now.

***

When he heard the knock, he knew it was Jim, fitting the sound to his memory of the rap at the hotel room door and finding it a match. It sent him hurrying down the hallway, his mind busy, chaotic, filled with disjointed thoughts.

Three. Third time, three letters in his name -- three times he hit me -- God, like that matters, like it's important -- what will he do, what will I do if this doesn't work again --

Jim, framed against a rhododendron bush in full bloom, one of dozens that lined the driveway and shielded the house from the road, this one a deep, dusky pink, looked real and solid and concerned.

Concerned? Why --oh.

"Breathe, Blair," Jim said, stepping close and patting his cheek.

"I didn't stop!"

"You did." Jim was grinning at him now, the tension Blair had noticed only when it began to slip away, gone completely now. "Lucky for you I'm a trained medic and mouth-to-mouth is a specialty."

"You were a medic? When?"

Jim made a show of looking around him pointedly. "Is this whole not inviting me in going to be something we do every time?"

The implications of that struck Blair with as much force as the sight of Jim had. 'Every time' meant Jim was expecting another time after this one.

He figured if he ate noodles and drank water he could afford Jim about once every three months but he wasn't planning on sharing that information.

"Sorry. I was just -- Come in. Please."

"Just?" Jim asked, letting Blair usher him through to the family room. He was carrying a small sports bag, made of black leather. It looked both practical and expensive, and just imagining what might be in it made Blair's body react predictably. "You were thinking again, weren't -- oh, God, I love the view…"

Blair smiled, pleased, but not surprised, following Jim across the long, wide room to the expanse of windows that showcased the mountains and the city, the blue sparkle of sea a distant glimmer. "You should see it when a storm hits. Or a clear night with a full moon."

"I can imagine," Jim murmured, staring out at something Blair had never taken for granted. "Is that an eagle?"

Blair stepped beside him, sighting along the line of Jim's pointing finger. "Where?" He squinted and made out a small speck, floating lazily in an updraft, lost in a dazzle of late evening sunlight. "Man, you're good."

A shoulder lifted in a shrug. "Good at getting distracted, anyway. I'm sorry."

"Hey, don't be." Impulsively, Blair put his hand on Jim's arm, feeling the muscles jump and tighten through the thin jacket and shirt. "It's nice to see you again."

Jim stepped back and lifted the bag. "Yeah. Do you want to get started?"

"Wow." Blair licked nervously at his lips. "Even that Sam woman wasn't this --" He waved his hand around, trying to think of the best word choice.

"Abrupt?"

"Yeah."

"You've only got an hour," Jim reminded him, sounding tired.

"From when?" Jim blinked at him, a frown deepening the creases around his eyes. Blair hurried on with words, locking them both in place, here, in a room with no beds, with that bag of Jim's still closed, zipped. Safe. "Not from when you left the office, because the traffic at this time of the night, hell, I wouldn't have time to get naked, never mind… From when I opened the door? Because you're the one who went sightseeing, man, and don't get me wrong, look all you want; hell, I'll give you the guided tour, if you like, but that's on your time, not mine."

He came to a breathless halt, worrying that he'd been rude but prepared to do worse if it extended the time he was in the same room as Jim, soaking up details about the way he looked and sounded. Stuff he'd been too freaked to notice in more than a peripheral way last time, imperfectly absorbed, so that later, in the days that followed, he'd been unsure of the exact shape of Jim's ears, but able to recall the precise shade of pink they'd gone when he'd been talking to his friend Simon.

"I'd like the guided tour," Jim said after a taffy-stretched silence. He moved in. Looming. Definitely looming. "Why don't we start with your bedroom, Mr. Sandburg? I hear it's interesting."

"Oh, God, you talked to her," Blair blurted out, too horrified at that revelation to protest the name. "You shouldn't have done that."

Jim gaped at him, looking seriously bewildered. "I shouldn't have talked to her? Or read her report? Are you kidding me?"

"Report?" It had been six years since his last panic attack and he'd thought he was over them. Apparently not. "An in writing report with words?" Okay, that was clear as mud. He pushed on regardless, getting up into Jim's face. "With pictures? No, no, I'd have noticed her doing that…" He shook himself. "She grade me, too? What did I get for pissing her off? 'F' for 'failed to come'? 'D' for dickless wonder? Huh?"

The air he was sucking in wasn't doing anything. Empty air. No oxygen. Nothing but empty --

"Stop it." Blue eyes. Blue like water. Like sky. Water had oxygen. You could still drown in it, though. "Blair, I mean it. Listen to me or I start the fucking clock, you hear me?"

He swallowed and felt the plastic around him, clinging, suffocating, rip and shred to nothing. He filled his lungs, breathing the way he'd been taught, feeling Jim's hands on his shoulders, kneading them soothingly. "I'm okay. You can stop that."

"I don't want to stop touching you." Jim sounded shaken. "Blair --"

"Don't ever call me Mr. Sandburg again," Blair said, interrupting him. "I really don't like it."

"But Blair's good?"

"Blair's fine."

"Is he?" Jim rolled his eyes and amended it to, "Are you?" before Blair could tell him what he thought about baby talk like that.

"I guess."

Jim's hands patted Blair's shoulders once and then moved away. Blair glanced down and saw that the leather bag was on the floor, tracking back until he remembered the thud of it landing, lost in the heavy, fast beat of his heart.

"I'm going to start over and I want you to listen, okay?"

"Okay," Blair said agreeably. He was submerged in shame, at saturation point, and that brought with it a certain calmness. The exhilaration of despair. He couldn't possibly fuck this up any worse, which meant the worst was over. "Go ahead."

"Can we sit down?"

"Here?"

Jim shrugged. "Wherever you feel comfortable, Blair. It's your house."

"My room."

"Sure." Jim picked up the bag and tilted his head expectantly. "Right behind you, Chief." He pursed his lips. "Sorry."

"No, that's okay," Blair told him, leading them out into the hallway. "I don't mind that."

In his room, with the door closed, he felt better. The rest of the house was comfortable, inviting even, scattered with interesting, often beautiful objects his mother had picked up on her travels, but his tastes and hers didn't always overlap. And this room, an L-shape, sitting area leading into bedroom, into bathroom, was all his. A large room; a small home.

He sat on the couch, angling his body sideways to invite Jim to join him there, rather than on the only other chair in the room, a recliner set in front of the window. Blair sat there to read, the sunlight pouring over him, glancing up now and then to see the shadows race over the forests below as the wind took the clouds across the wide sky.

Jim set the bag down -- Blair eyed it with a growing, burning curiosity but didn't comment -- and took the seat beside Blair, keeping his gaze on Blair with what looked like an effort.

"You can look," Blair offered. "It's mostly just books, though."

"I like books." Jim didn't look away. "Maybe later. I'd rather look at you."

"Thought you wanted a guided tour."

"I do." Jim smiled slowly, amused by a joke Blair wasn't getting. "You just misunderstood what I wanted to get a closer look at." His gaze wandered, lingered, dragged over Blair. "Starting to get a clue now?"

"Oh, we've started?" Blair said, belatedly catching on and straightening up. "Sorry, I didn't -- uh, you want me to get undressed?" His hand went to the top button on his shirt but Jim reached out, covering Blair's hand with his own and stopping him.

''Started'?" Jim repeated. "Huh?"

"Tick tock?"

"No," Jim said. He exhaled, leaning back. "Look, this is just not going the way I expected it to."

"Do you plan it out in advance?" Blair asked, genuinely interested. "Is that what the reports are for?" He found he could think of them without freaking if he thought of their purpose instead of what they contained.

"Sometimes. And, yes, partly, but that's not what I meant." Jim smoothed back his hair, an unconscious gesture Blair remembered him making in the hotel room. "Look." He stood, took off his jacket and slung it over the back of the couch. Then he rolled up the sleeves of his dark green shirt and unfastened his watch strap. "No watch," he said, putting it on the coffee table in front of the couch. "No ticking. Your time hasn't started and it won't until we get a few things clear."

"Like what?"

"Like what happened to you last time."

"With you? Or with --"

"I know what happened when you were with me." Jim sounded grim. "With Sam."

"Oh, man." Blair twisted around, thunked his forehead against the back of the couch, and moaned, hamming it up a little, laughing at himself to save Jim the trouble. "I blew it. Big time. But you know that if she… if she wrote about it."

"That's not what she wrote. That's not what she said." The pad of Jim's thumb rubbed the place on Blair's head that was throbbing mildly and Blair shivered. "Don't do that again."

"What?"

"Hurt yourself." A smile flickered across Jim's face, slightly pained. "You're paying me to do that, remember?"

"It's not the same thing."

"No. It's not." Jim raised his eyebrows. "I got you to talk last time so we know I can do it; mind saving me the hassle and giving me what I want?"

"Be specific." Blair waited and grinned when Jim got it and pulled a 'you think you're so fucking clever' face at him. He was feeling better now; not the false calm of earlier, but something with more foundation to it. His space… Jim in it…nice.

"Okay. I want you to answer me with detail, complete honesty, and doing your best to help me." Jim waved his finger warningly. "No distracting me. No bullshit."

"How do I distract you?" Blair asked, really wanting to know.

Jim inhaled sharply, his mouth tightening. "You just do, okay?"

"'Detail… complete honesty…'" Blair smiled at him, making it a challenge. "Works both ways."

Jim looked uncomfortable but Blair gave him credit for not backing down. "True. Okay…" He tapped his finger against his bottom lip. "There. On you. You bite it. Nibble at it. Drives me crazy. I want to --" He flushed but continued, his voice steady. "I want to see what's so goddamn tasty about it."

"You'd have to get closer, then." Blair felt the ground drop away, but he was flying not falling, flirting not -- "Put your mouth on me. Right?" Please?

"I could," Jim said, his voice tight, his hands locked together, resting on his knee. "And I would, yes. I will if you tell me on a scale of one to ten just how distracting you're being right now and the honest answer's under five."

There was a pause. "Seven?" Blair said cautiously.

"Eleven."

"No way."

"Doesn't matter." Jim grinned, a savage slash of smile. "You're over five. Moving on."

"Bastard."

"Oh, sweetheart, I get worse than this."

"I can believe that," Blair said.

"I bet." Jim patted Blair's leg. He did that a lot, Blair noticed. As reassurance, as reward… touching him. And it felt good through clothes but on his bare skin… Blair let the shiver that thought brought on race through him, waiting for Jim to start talking.

"What happened last time that you didn't like?" Jim propped his elbow on the back of the couch and leaned his face into the cup of his palm. "This isn't meant as a criticism of Sam; she's my employee and she has my unreserved trust and support -- but clearly it didn't go well between you. Why?"

"I was expecting it to be you at the door." Okay, he hadn't been going to admit that… "You can laugh all you want --"

"Blair." Jim's shoe kicked Blair's shin in a gentle reproof. "Not going to happen. I have to tell you that again and it's going to start counting against your time."

"How much?"

"One minute," Jim said immediately, scowling at him. "And two if you distract me, so don't."

"Okay, okay!" Blair returned Jim's scowl and grimaced. "So. I was nervous about her and like I said, I got this dumb idea that you'd know that, which you wouldn't -- I mean; why would you? -- and that you'd come instead -- and hey, you shouldn't have to deal with me at all, I know that. You're retired and even if I decided I didn't want a woman and you know, I think I have -- unless you think I should try one more -- but not Sam, okay, because we didn't --"

"Stop." Jim held up his hand. "Wait." He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. "One. You're on my client list. Mine. You can use another agency but I don't care who's available, the only person from my agency you get to deal with is me from now on."

"Why?" Blair asked weakly. "I'm that much trouble?"

Jim smiled, his eyes gleaming. "Oh, Chief, you have no idea how much…" He chuckled. "Joking. I think." His smile faded. "Is that a problem?"

"No. Totally not a problem," Blair assured him. "I don't want anyone but you." He cleared his throat. "I didn't mean that the way it sounded."

"It sounded like you were happy with the service you were getting from me," Jim said bluntly. "That's not something I mind hearing."

Service…Blair wondered how different it would be if he had to actually hand money over at the end of the hour instead of trusting whoever did the accounting at the agency to bill his credit card. Maybe the separation of money from the event itself increased the illusion of intimacy… interesting… He made a note to explore that at some point in his book and surfaced to find Jim giving him a patiently long-suffering look.

"Two, if I'm not interrupting anything," Jim said caustically, "I'm not a mind reader and besides, you were right; you did need to try it with a woman. It didn't work. You might think it was the particular woman, and I'm not ruling that out, but don't be too quick to close doors. Any of them."

"I won't," Blair said meekly. "Is there a three?"

"Three is you answering the original question clearly and concisely," Jim told him. "I've read your book; I know you're capable of --"

"Wait, wait -- you've read it?" Blair stared at Jim. A reader. Of his book. Wow. "Did you like it?" he asked eagerly. "You don't think it dragged a little in the middle? I wanted the section on dowries but my editor said it --"

"Two minutes," Jim said.

"What? Oh, shit." Blair contemplated pouting which someone had once told him looked cute, a compliment he'd treasured without really wanting the word applied to him, but decided against it. If it worked, Jim would probably call it distracting and dock him another couple of minutes. "Fine." He shoved his hair back with both hands and tried to organise his thoughts.

"She looked great."

"Yeah, she does." Jim sounded amused. "Like she walked out of your fantasies, right?"

"Big time." Blair sighed wistfully. "And I got turned on, no problem there…" He'd been in therapy enough that really, this kind of conversation wasn't new territory for him. He wasn't sure why he was making life difficult for Jim by being so… scattered.

"None at all?"

"No." Blair shook his head, giving Jim a conspiratorial smile. "She made me kneel down and that, well, it was cheesy, you know?"

"No." Jim pointed to the floor, his face cold. "In fact, how about you kneel for me now. It might focus your attention on what we're doing here."

"What?" His composure shattered, Blair looked from Jim's face to the thick rug. "You're serious?"

Jim inclined his head in a slow nod. "I'm waiting. I'm not very fond of that, by the way. I might start taking off more time to make myself feel better."

"Shouldn't you be doing that anyway? If I kneel aren't we --?"

"You'll know when I do. One minute and let's up the stakes a little." Jim stared at him, blue eyes burning into him. "One extra at the end from whatever I'm using on your ass by then."

"I might like that."

Jim eyed him and then said dryly, "Trust me, by then you wouldn't." He shifted so he was facing forward and without looking at Blair again, snapped his fingers, a clear, crisp sound, and nodded down at the floor. "In front of me, please. Close enough that I can touch you if I want."

Fighting back a sound that even unvoiced he knew would emerge as a nervous chuckle, Blair got off the couch and knelt in front of Jim.

"Still feel like smiling?" Jim inquired, leaning forward so his face was close to Blair's, his hands on his thighs, his knees spread.

"No," Blair admitted. Now he'd done it, now he was here, at Jim's feet, following a direct order… well, he was getting off on it.

Still thought it was cheesy, though. Which reminded him…

"You tell me to call you 'master' and that might change," Blair warned.

Jim nodded. "Duly noted."

"Unless you want me to --?" Blair frowned. "Should you be letting me say stuff like that to you?"

"It's a problem. One I'm beginning to see Sam's side of."

"A problem? I'm a problem?" Blair felt a familiar sinking certainty that he was doing it all wrong again.

"Not you. It's just…" Jim sighed and stroked the side of Blair's face, looking frustrated. Blair leaned into the touch without thinking, rubbing against the warm, caressing fingertips and saw the surprise in Jim's face. Jim stared at his hand as if he hadn't realised what it was doing and pulled it back, his fingers curling tightly.

"Just what?" Blair asked. His voice sounded different. Lower. Careful. He squirmed as his dick woke up and stretched and then noticed Jim register the squirm with a faintly disapproving glint in his eyes and froze.

Jim chewed his lip. "This. All of it. You don't have a clue what you want and by the time you figure it out you'll have paid for my next vacation. That's not fair on you. You should be getting an hour of what you want, sixty minutes of sizzle and sex. Not a conversation." Jim's mouth quirked slightly. "Not this kind of conversation, anyway."

"Talking about it is helping," Blair told him.

"You can afford to spend five hundred bucks on a conversation?"

"No…"

"Thought not." Jim stared at him. "This isn't what you need, Blair. No. Let me finish. What you just asked; if we were doing this for real, you'd call me what I told you to." He paused. "Well. We'd have discussed it before, maybe, but no, you wouldn't get to argue like that, not when you were on your knees. God." Jim shook his head. "No wonder Sam -- never mind. What I'm trying to say, though, is that this isn't real."

"No," Blair said flatly. He'd known that. Nothing good ever was.

"You're paying me to please you. It…confuses everything. If you don't want to call me 'Master' then I should know that and I'd never ask you to. Because you're the client and you get what you want. All the power is with you and that's just not how it works with this scene. It's never that one-sided."

Jim stood up, pacing the room, his movements controlled but his agitation clear. Blair watched him as much as he could without turning his head and waited. It was like meditating. He wasn't focusing on a candle flame, but that fierce heat coming off Jim. He felt his heart slow and his breathing settle and he arched his back and split his knees wider, wanting Jim to notice and comment.

God. This was doing a lot more for him than he'd expected. Experimentally, driven by curiosity and a spike of arousal caused by nothing more than bending his head forward in a classically submissive baring of the back of his neck (if you ignored the fact that his hair still covered it) he put his hands, crossed at the wrist, in the small of his back.

Ooh. Nice.

Jim was still stalking around, still talking, but Blair wasn't listening. He got it and Jim was right; didn't take much to see the inherent paradox of a Dom bought and paid for by a sub. He was fairly sure other people made it work but as Jim had pointed out, they probably had a better idea of what they were doing than Blair did.

His erection was getting insistent, clamouring for a touch, but he could see out of the corner of his eyes that Jim had circled around and was watching him and he didn't dare to move.

Damn. Reminding himself to never put his hands behind him again, he sweated it out. Jim had to stop the Hamlet impression soon and notice that he was fucking dying here….

"What the hell are you doing?" Jim demanded in a stifled, rasping whisper that dragged a shudder out of Blair.

"Kneeling. You told me to." Blair paused and then with the utmost meekness, certain that it would get a reaction, added, "Jim" with the exact inflection he would have used if he'd said the M-word.

Jim stopped dead and then advanced on him. Not a stalk. A prowl. "Right. I did. I didn't tell you to do it like this, though, did I?"

"No," Blair admitted. "It just feels good."

"Not cheesy?"

"I don't care." Blair arched his back some more. His nipples ached, tight and hard, pebbled as if he was in a cold shower. Nipples. You didn't really notice them most of the time. He was noticing his now. "Can I say something?"

Jim sat down in front of him again, slumped forward, leaning on his knees. "Sure. Go ahead. I'll try and get this on track before midnight."

"I'm not going anywhere," Blair assured him. "You?" Jim shook his head and Blair frowned at him. "Your social life has to be better than mine."

"I don't know what yours is like."

"Non-existent."

"It's better than that, yes, but I still don't have plans for tonight."

"I don't know how to say this…"

"Just spit it out. I do have to be at work by nine tomorrow."

"Why did you make an exception for me?" Blair took a quick breath and continued talking. "You're retired. You said you still saw some old clients but it was personal; I don't get that; do they book you? Pay you?"

"Less formal than that," Jim told him. "And we're talking…" He screwed up his mouth in thought. "Three men, two women. I see them maybe a couple of times a year in my, ah, professional role."

"You socialise with them?"

"That goes beyond what I'll share, Chief." Jim's tone was friendly but there was a clear warning there. "And I don't know where you're going with this."

"I'm not sure, either," Blair said slowly. "I suck at this. At relationships. Any kind of relationships. It doesn't make that much difference to me that I'm paying you to be here; I fucked up with Sam just as fast as I did with any woman I've ever dated. I get what you're saying, too, by the way and you're right. I just don't see a way around it except to ask you to do this for me as a friend. Do it properly and that's… yeah. Insulting. Because this is your job and you don't know me and -- oh fuck --" Blair stared directly at Jim, a sick feeling quenching his arousal. "Are you married? Dating? With someone?"

"Divorced, sometimes, not currently." Jim wasn't looking disgusted or scornful. He should have been. Halfway through his speech Blair had realised that what he was asking for was a free ride. Literally.

"What makes you think I want to do this on my own time?" Jim was staring at him, barely blinking, voice steady. Blair was the one trembling, sweating, but he still felt as if he was the calmer of the two of them. There was something about the line of Jim's shoulders, stiffly tense… "What makes you think it's even my kink outside work?"

Blair licked his lips wet enough to make words. People didn't always like it when he shared what he'd noticed.  "Two things. You told me you'd love spanking me and I know you weren't lying about that. How far you go with all of this through choice, I don't know. I don't know how far I want it to go yet, either. The second…" He let his hands slide apart and brought them around in front of him, rubbing one wrist absently. "Well, you're hard. Harder than me. I can't think of a good reason for that --"

"Want me to tell you?" Jim interrupted, sitting up straight and glaring down at Blair as if that, of everything he'd said, had annoyed him.

"I'd love that." Blair looked at Jim. "Or you could just tell me to strip and get over your knee again. Or tell me how I can make you come because I will. I want to." He bit down on his lip, deliberately, slowly, doing it hard, easing off so that Jim could watch his lip redden and swell.

"Stop that." Jim's voice was surprisingly mild. "It doesn't work when you do it on purpose." He pursed his lips, visibly reconsidering. "Well, not as much, anyway."

Blair sighed and settled back, making himself comfortable, or trying to. His feet were getting pins and needles.

"You can get up if you like," Jim said.

"Don't you like seeing me like this?"

"Not when you're wriggling," Jim said with a brutal frankness. "Get back up here."

"Okay. And I wasn't wriggling," Blair added with as much dignity as he could. "I was restoring circulation to my extremities."

Jim snorted. "I could do so much with a line like that but I'll resist the temptation."

"All of it?"

Jim's hand ruffled Blair's hair until Blair's indignant snarl made him stop. "Blair -- I owe you something. You enjoyed it, but fifteen hundred dollars for one spanking is a rip off." He smiled, his eyes warm. "Fifteen hundred and a tip. Thanks for that, by the way."

"I didn't -- oh. The roses." Blair beamed at him, pleased. He'd sent them and then spent the night worrying that it would seem weird. "Did your friend like them?"

"Yeah. I liked them better." Jim rubbed at his forehead. "I want you to get what you came to me for. I can't figure out a way to do it on the clock but there's no way we're doing what you just said."

"Yes," Blair agreed. "Sorry. I can't stop doing that."

"Doing what?"

"Asking people out when they're like --" Blair waved his hand over his head and gave Jim a companionable smile. "You know. Out of my league. But sometimes it works. I think I shock them into saying yes."

"You're seriously lacking in confidence, aren't you?"

"No. I just recognise a truth once I've had my nose rubbed in it."

Jim shook his head. "Not by me."

"You won't consider dating me," Blair pointed out. "I didn't even get a chance to fail. That's worse."

"You're too young, too inexperienced, too …" Jim faltered, his gaze dropping away. "No. That's not it and I won't lie to you about it. I don't care about the first and the second's more of a turn on than you know."

"It wouldn't be for long," Blair said, resorting to pleading. "No one's ever lasted for longer than, uh, five dates, and I'm not sure you can count the fifth because she stood me up."

"What do you do to them?" Jim asked looking bemused.

"I don't know!" Blair couldn't help laughing because Jim's expression was so bewildered… "They just don't stick around. I swear I don't do anything gross in public or serenade them in the moonlight. I just… I'm just me, I guess and they don't like it."

"You don't ask hookers for dates, Blair." Jim sounded kind. "It's not something that ends well. Think about it."

He didn't have to; he was finding it all too easy to stay in step with Jim and understand the man's point from just a hint or a few words. Jim might not see many clients but he was still available and Blair couldn't see that changing. And his mother would freak, for all her surface tolerance of alternative lifestyles. Dating a man; that, she'd go along with; even applaud given that she was as aware of Blair's dead in the water love life as he was. Dating a man in Jim's line of work… not so much.

"You have to have a personal life," he argued. "It's a job, like any other. It doesn't stop you seeing people; you told me that much yourself. Or do you lie to them about what you do?"

"Sometimes," Jim said, his voice cool, barriers up.

"No need to lie to me." Blair tried to find the words he needed to keep Jim in his life a little longer. He was going to stand up, walk out… "Jim -- " He couldn't get past that single word. "Jim…" he repeated, helplessly. "Fuck. Turn me down and where will I go?"

"Lots of places. I gave you a list." A muscle was twitching in Jim's cheek.

"Okay. I'll go there. I'll… I'll cruise, get picked up, go into a back room with someone, let them do what they want to me, nasty, dirty, fucking perfect things." Blair could hear himself screaming the words in his head but they were coming out in an intense whisper which had to be why Jim was leaning in, so he could hear them, his breath warm on Blair's face. "Does that get you hard, too? Is that what you want me to do?"

"No. Fuck, no." Jim jerked back. "Shit."

Shaky, triumphant, knowing he'd won, even if he didn't know why, Blair pointed at the bag. "Open it. Get what you need. You do it. You."

"Do what?" Jim asked him.

Blair slid down to his knees, facing away from Jim, positioning himself how he'd been when he'd got the standing ovation from his dick. He let his head sink down low. "I don't know, man. You're in charge now."

He felt Jim gather his hair and push it aside and waited for a kiss on the exposed nape, knowing he was going to jump and quiver even expecting it like he was.

Jim's teeth sank in, savage, sweet, sucking and hurting, licking at the skin his teeth had captured, moaning against it, his hand tugging Blair's head so that the bow of Blair's neck was angled to suit him. He held Blair like that, balanced between the two contact points of his hand and his mouth until Blair broke and cried out a warning because he was going to come and he couldn't, not from that, not just from that.

Jim's other hand swept up across Blair's chest, something to lean into, something to hold him up and then he was pulled back against Jim, who was kneeling behind him, and turning his head to get kissed, his body startled, electric, alive.

"Hell of a first date," Jim said into his ear.

Part Four

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