Point of Contact

Part Eight

Many thanks to T Verano for beta reading.

Simon was waiting for him when he arrived at the office, which was exactly what Jim had expected. He nodded a greeting to him, and gave the room of busy people a wide, brimful of happy smile.

Even if his dick hated him, he was feeling good this morning. And his mouth was watering just thinking about lunch. Be fun to see how easy it was to get Blair aroused, the evidence south of the belt hidden by one of the heavy linen napkins Roberto used, white and stiff -- and the hazy eyes and flushed face, the licked lips and unsteady voice less easy to disguise.

There were places he could take Blair afterwards. Safe places, discreet… equipped. He liked the prospect of Blair's mouth on him, still sweet from dessert, still hot from coffee.

His turn to come.

He headed for his private office to check the availability of the one closest to the restaurant, a restored, late nineteenth century house, all conservative elegance and indulgent comfort. One of the bedrooms had a wide, high bed, solid and sink-into soft. He thought about spending the afternoon there, one slow drowse of an hour after another, letting the day work hard around them while he listened to Blair talk about anything and nothing, his spanked ass burning against Jim's hand, his heartbeat still frantic from everything Jim had done to him.

There was a school room crossed with a nursery at the top of the house, kinky as hell and just slightly creepy, though some people got a kick out of it; ornately dressed dolls and a rocking horse staring glassy-eyed at a much larger horse, bolted to the floor, all straps and leather; a blackboard and teacher's desk in front of a short row of old-fashioned student desks.

Jim had used that room once when he was an employee of the agency rather than its owner. Sam had set up a scenario and needed him to play the widowed father to her governess while the clients, a married couple, played the rebellious teenagers in need of some discipline.

That one hadn't been easy, even with every move supposedly arranged beforehand. You couldn't predict a client's reaction with complete accuracy and you couldn't turn them down when they decided that they wanted something as straightforward as getting fucked. Hell, Jack would've had him working the graveyard shift for weeks, earning next to nothing, if he'd even tried to say no.

Fucking what was supposed to be his daughter while she screamed and wept, some of the tears real because Sam had been as efficient as always…well, no matter how much she and her watching husband got off on it, it wasn't his idea of fun. He'd hung onto an erection through an effort of will -- and a little chemical help -- and managed to smile when the clients had praised him afterwards, but… okay, maybe not that house. Maybe the ultra-modern apartment over on Bloor, with the closet full of enough restraints and floggers, whips, and canes to make Blair's eyes go wide and his knees go weak…

Jim -- not like that. Just you.

He frowned, second-guessing himself. Maybe they could just go back to his place? Or maybe just --

"Jim. Got a minute?"

Simon walked in and closed the door without waiting for Jim's reply.

Jim eyed him blandly. "Well, this is unexpected. Have a seat, Simon."

Simon snorted and sat down on the loveseat along one side of the office, owning it immediately, his arms spread across the back, his long, powerful body framed by the dark-green leather. "Asshole."

"You know you love me." Jim gave Simon his best puppy dog look and grinned when Simon rolled his eyes in disgust.

"I know I care enough about you to say something when I see you making a mistake," Simon corrected him. "And dating a client -- Jim, Jim… tell me I got that wrong?"

"No."

"I'm going to want more than that," Simon said after a short pause.

Jim sighed and walked over to the coffee machine in the corner, where a pot of Columbian coffee stood waiting. He poured them both a mug, and added cream and sugar to Simon's, leaving his own black. "You've read his file." It wasn't a question.

Simon took his coffee from Jim, placed it on the low table in front of him, and nodded. "Seems harmless."

"You ran a deep check, didn't you?"

That level of background check was usually saved for clients who wanted something extreme or expensive; Blair didn't qualify, and when Simon shrugged and nodded, Jim felt a stab of annoyance.

"That wasn't necessary."

"Could be Vice. Undercover."

Jim stared at Simon, incredulity replacing irritation. "You think I wouldn't spot a cop? And he's come back three times, Simon; don't you think once would've been enough to nail us? Besides," he sipped his coffee, smooth and hot, "when have we ever had any trouble from Vice? They know we're clean. No drugs, no underage clients or workers; everyone's healthy…"

"They know there's worse out there, that's all," Simon corrected him. "And they use limited resources to target them first. We're not safe from investigation and prosecution, Jim, and don't ever think it. No matter who we have on our client list."

Jim grimaced. "I know, but…"

"And stop changing the subject," Simon said. "What the hell were you thinking? Cancel his fee? I suppose you want me to give him a refund, too, for the first two sessions?"

"No," Jim said. "Those, he pays for. But not last night."

"Why?" Simon said, a growl through gritted teeth.

"Because I don't let my dates pay to screw me," Jim snapped. "Christ, Simon, is a personal life too much to ask for? You're the one who told me it'd make a difference owning this place; that I wouldn't feel like the piece of fucking meat I did when I left. You keep on like this and hey, stick a fork in me, I'm done."

"Jim, you've got clients you still see, ones you've gotten friendly with --"

"Yeah? So?" And three of them were among the ones who kept the agency safe; high-placed, influential people.

"You still charge them," Simon said bluntly.

"Because they're still clients! Blair's different."

Simon sighed. "He's a kid. Wet behind the ears and as far away from what you normally go for as it gets. Not your type."

"He's thirty, he could probably make you blush with one of his stories about wedding rituals in some obscure culture, and he's meeting me for lunch and I plan to make it a long one, so if you don't mind, can we drop my fucking social life and get on with some work?" Jim said coldly. His type? What type? He didn't have a fucking type. He just had disasters and worse disasters. "What's happening with that new escort you interviewed last week? Did she check out?"

After a moment when he thought Simon was going to push him on this and take them somewhere Jim really didn't want to go -- arguing with Simon just didn't feel right -- Simon nodded. Neither victory nor surrender; just a breathing space. Simon could be relentless in pursuit of something he wanted.

"Laura? She's looking promising. Interesting, classy, and, well, you've seen her. One fine-looking lady. Not interested in being more than an escort, but that's not a problem. She's going out tonight with Diana; dummy run, though she doesn't know it."

"What's the set-up?" Jim asked absently. He had to call and book a table. A secluded one; he didn't want Blair on display, with people staring at him. Something told him they'd both react badly to that, for very different reasons.

"Two businessmen who want company because they're in town overnight and don't like eating and clubbing without a pretty girl on their arm."

Jim nodded. It was a standard way to test a new employee and see how well they behaved in public and how they handled the common hazards of their job. The businessmen would be agency employees Laura hadn't met who would get steadily drunker and more obnoxious and push for sex.

If Laura couldn't handle a jerk with Diana there to provide backup and a good example, or fend off advances that went beyond what she could legally offer, well, they needed to find that out before she met with a real client.

It was amazing how many people they interviewed for the sex side of the agency said primly that no, they wouldn't ever, not ever, what kind of a person do you think I am? and then demonstrated their willingness to go to their knees for a fifty extra on the tip when they were hired as escorts instead.

And that just wasn't allowed.

The escort side of the business was just that; nothing more, ever. Anyone who forgot that and got found out -- and they always did -- got no second chance, no reprieve.

"Sounds good," Jim said. "We done here?"

Simon stood. "Assuming he sticks around, you plan to introduce me?"

"He tells me no one ever gets past four dates without ditching him," Jim said, smiling at the look that got him.

"And what number is lunch?"

"Second one," Jim said. "But I don't have any plans to cut Blair loose, Simon."

Their gazes met and locked.

"I'm getting the message," Simon said dryly. "You've got a new hobby. Or is he an obsession?"

"He's --" Jim paused. "I like him, Simon. You will, too."

"Sam doesn't," Simon said. "She says he needs a gag and a few lessons in manners." Jim raised an eyebrow and Simon began to chuckle. "Maybe I will like him. Anyone who can piss Sam off that fast has to have something going for him."

"She said he had a lot of potential, too," Jim said. "Natural sub."

"Yeah?" Simon considered that. "Are you going to take him to her club?"

"He wants to go," Jim admitted.

"Of course he does." Simon picked up his coffee and drained it. "Might be a good idea."

"He's not ready. He'd freak out."

"Like I said." Simon put his mug on Jim's desk with a decisive click. "Might be a good idea."


***

Jim sat at the Zigzag bar, where he could keep an eye on the door, and took a sip from a weak whiskey and water, given to him that way because it was how he always had it here. You didn't get drunk when you were with clients, but you made them think you were having fun with them. He was too used to it to even notice the taste.

Roberto walked over to him and gave him a conspiratorial wink as he fussed with an arrangement of flowers that was making Jim want to sneeze. "Your table is ready whenever your guest arrives," he murmured. "And I can't wait to see him."

"Remember what I told you," Jim said. "He's not interested in people fussing over him."

Roberto nodded sagely. "Authors. Painters. Creative types. They're like that sometimes. I understand. They deal with fame differently than, say, actors who want the world to look and admire them."

"He's not famous," Jim said, back-pedaling a little. "I told you; one book and he's working on his second."

An airy wave of the hand dismissed his attempts to be honest. "Nonsense. He is dining at my restaurant with my favorite customer --" Roberto patted Jim's arm and relented. "Fine. He's an unsung genius."

Jim grinned reluctantly. "Closer. Just don't look at him."

"What?" Roberto dropped the affectations and most of his accent. "I can't look at him? I have to greet him and escort him to the table with my eyes shut?"

"I mean," Jim clarified, "one of your special looks. The ones you give the people you don't think meet your standards. I don't want him getting indigestion or hiccups; and you even think about correcting his pronunciation or raising your fucking eyebrow at what he chooses, and I'll --"

"Jim, Jim!" Roberto was wide-eyed and indignant, his short dark hair rumpled by an agitated thrust of his fingers through it. "I would never!"

"Oh, yes, you would," Jim said, mildly now. "And you do it to him and I walk and we take our clients somewhere else, you got that?"

For a moment, real anger passed over Roberto's face and Jim began to mentally phrase an apology. Shit. What the hell was the matter with him? Then a knowing smile replaced the annoyance and Roberto began to chuckle. "Oh-ho."

"No," Jim said, beginning to sweat. "No, Roberto."

"Oh, but yes," Roberto said in a sing-song voice. "Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. Mr. Ellison is enraptured, infatuated, ready to be quite astonishingly rude to a dear friend --"

"Roberto, I'm sorry. I apologize. Grovel, even." Jim tried a chuckle of his own. "Can we just forget I said anything? It's just -- first dates, you know how it is --"

"I forgive you because you brought him here, to me, to my restaurant," Roberto said magnanimously. "And because of the friendship I bear you."

"You're a star," Jim said. "And you know if you served breakfast I'd never eat anywhere else, ever, right?"

"Breakfast?" Roberto said faintly. "People really do that? Consume food while they're still half asleep?" He shuddered and Jim wasn't sure that was put on. Roberto was rumored to exist on coffee until the restaurant closed, when he sampled every dish served that evening and made notes on it for his long-suffering staff.

Before he could assure Roberto that, yes, people did, and his Sunday mornings would be blighted without hash browns and pancakes on the menu, Blair arrived.

It was still raining and he'd obviously walked from the library; his hair was dark and plastered to his skull, his jacket damp, and his glasses were dotted with raindrops. He stood beside the reception desk, smiling brightly at the woman giving him just exactly the kind of look Jim had known he'd get, and took off his glasses, polishing them dry on a handkerchief.

"No," Roberto said, echoing Jim's own plea, his gaze following Jim's intent stare. "No, Jim."

"Be nice," Jim hissed. "Or I'll hurt you."

Roberto's eyes narrowed as Blair slid his glasses back on. "He has nothing, Jim. Nothing."

Blair said something to the woman, who was probably trying to persuade him to leave, and then turned to peer into the restaurant and saw Jim. His smile, relieved, pleased, left Jim dealing with a twist of tenderness that recalled the time a three-inch thorn had embedded itself in his foot. Being happy shouldn't be this acutely painful.

"Oh…" Roberto said, with a wealth of meaning. "Now, perhaps, I see, a little. But Jim, this first time I allow, but never a shirt like that again. Please. You will tell him, yes?"

"I will tell him, no." Jim muttered, as Roberto surged forward, a hand extended dramatically, pitching his voice so that it carried. No one had to teach Roberto that when faced with a potentially awkward situation, half-measures were rarely effective.

"Mr. Sandburg! An honor. Please, this way, follow me."

A ripple of interest ran around the room, with people who, Jim was cynically certain, had been expecting to see Blair leave, tail tucked between his legs, reevaluating him in the light of Roberto's effusive greeting.

Except you couldn't do anything much with what Blair was wearing. He looked scruffy-casual, and by habit, not design. The borrowed tie made it worse and Jim cursed himself for thinking it would help.

He caught Blair's eye, smiled, and tapped his own impeccable strip of silk before shaking his head slightly. Blair looked baffled for a moment and then nodded back. By the time they reached the table, the borrowed tie was a (creased, crumpled) bulge in one of the many pockets of Blair's coat.

Coat off, even when that revealed rolled up sleeves and more of the plaid shirt, Blair looked better. Roberto gave him an indulgent smile and said simply, "I will see to your drinks myself. Jim, my friend; another whiskey?"

"No, this is fine," Jim told him. "Blair? Would you like a drink before we order?"

Blair shook his head and tapped his finger against his water glass. "Water's good, thanks. I'm thirsty." He gave Roberto a friendly smile. "I've been in the stacks all morning. Man, you wouldn't believe the dust."

Some of it lay in a smudge across Blair's cheek. Jim saw Roberto notice it and do a good job of ignoring it. Roberto clicked his fingers and a waiter appeared, filling their water glasses with a discreet gurgle and not a single splash.

"Thank you," Blair said politely.

Roberto snapped his fingers again, accepted two menus and the wine list from a second hovering waiter, and passed them out with a flourish. "Enjoy your meal," he said, his attention drifting to the door and a new arrival. He turned to leave, but paused and gave Blair an appraising look. Blair didn't notice because he was already reading the menu, his eyes widening.

Jim gave Roberto a 'get the hell out of here' glare that was met with a mocking smile before Roberto walked away to welcome an elderly man. He was rumored to be related to European royalty, which Jim doubted, but if it made Roberto happy to believe it...

"Jim," Blair said in a low voice, delivering a gentle kick to Jim's ankle. "Fifteen dollars for soup?"

"Don't make me take that menu away from you," Jim warned him. "And you've got --"

"What?"

"Here." Jim waved his hand vaguely at his own cheek. "Dirt or something."

Blair, predictably, rubbed at the wrong cheek, and Jim sighed, licked his thumb, leaned over, and took care of it, gripping Blair's chin with his other hand to hold him still.

"That was about the most humiliating experience, ever," Blair hissed when he was released. The kick that followed really hurt.

"Then you should have taken the time to look in a mirror before you got here," Jim said without a trace of apology. Seeing Blair here, at a table he'd sat at with so many clients, so many times, the conversation easy, urbane, was disconcerting. He couldn't -- he couldn't talk to him. He was floundering between conflicting emotions and the overpowering need to touch Blair any way he could get away with.

"I was running late," Blair snapped.

"Well, I can tell you were running…" Jim let his gaze linger on Blair's heated face and tangled hair.

"Oh, man…" Blair tossed his napkin on the table where it fell into starched peaks and folds, a white splash against a white cloth. "I don't need this. I'm out of here. I'm gone."

Jim closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. "Blair. I'm sorry. And you make three."

"Three what?" Blair was poised on the edge of his seat and they were getting inquisitive, sidelong glances from the diners around them.

"Three people I -- three people I've pissed off today."

"Who were the other two?" Blair sounded interested now. Piquing his curiosity seemed to be the best way to calm him down. Jim filed that away and continued repairing the damage.

"Simon, back at the office, and Roberto just before you got in."

"Something happen?" Blair subsided into his chair, which was enough to make Jim relax, and took a gulp from his water glass. "Because you were in a good mood when you dropped me off."

"Yes," Jim said. "The day started off just the way I like it. And then you left and it went downhill."

Blair chuckled uncertainly. "That sounds like another line."

"It might, but it's the truth." Jim sipped his whiskey. "The ache in my balls didn't help, either."

Blair snorted with laughter and hid his face in his menu. "I can't believe you just said that in public."

"I can't believe I was so fucking conscientious about getting into work on time," Jim told him. "I walked into a lecture from Simon I could have done without and a --"

"A lecture?" Blair put the menu down. "About me?" His eyes were anxious. "Jim, I told you that you didn't have to cancel that charge. If it's going to get you into trouble --"

"Relax, Chief," Jim said as a waiter began to walk toward them. "I'm not in trouble."

They ordered, with Blair refusing a starter and choosing an entrée at what seemed like random, his focus on Jim. Jim had what he always had; steak and a salad. The menu prettied them up but that was basically what they were.

When they were alone again, Jim braced himself for more questions, but Blair seemed absorbed in splitting and buttering a roll, giving the task more attention than it deserved, his eyes downcast.

"I meant it," Jim said gently. "Hell, I own the place, remember?"

"But he's your partner, right?" Blair broke off a piece of roll and ate it. "He has a say in the way you do things and I bet he's not happy about all this."

"Well, no," Jim admitted. "But it's more that he's surprised and he doesn't like that. He likes things planned and orderly. Likes it tidy."

"Who is he? How long have you known him?"

Jim leaned back. "Simon? About ten years. He was my commanding officer when I was in Special Forces."

"Wow," Blair said blankly. "Special Forces?"

"Oh, come on, Chief," Jim teased. "I saw you looking at that old photo of me in uniform; did you think I was paint-balling or something?"

"No," Blair said slowly. "It's just both of you ending up working together and in a job like this; you've got to admit that's out there."

"Lots of army buddies do it," Jim said defensively. "They trust each other, know they can work well together; their families are close…"

"And you trust Simon?"

"I took a bullet for him once and I'd do it again." Jim swallowed the last of his whiskey and greeted the wine waiter with a grateful smile. "Hello, Francis."

"Mr. Ellison," Francis murmured, giving him a deferential smile and Blair a speculative look. "I think you'll like this Shiraz. The '94 is a little more robust, perhaps, but the '96 has a charm of its own."

"It's fine," Jim said, barely tasting it. Blair sipped his without commenting.

"Don't you like it?" Jim asked when Francis had walked away.

Blair shrugged. "It's okay. I don't drink wine much, to be honest. I worked at a vineyard one summer and, man, I could tell you some stories --"

Jim raised his hand. "Don't. Because I do drink it."

Blair grinned, quick and mischievous. "I want to, but I won't. Really, I like it. Nice berry overtones and a good nose." His grin faded. "Bullets. Scary stuff."

"It isn't at the time. Afterwards, maybe, but by then you're safe, so..."

"What about the next time? Before the fighting starts?"

Jim shrugged, glancing off to the side and uncomfortably aware that Blair had unerringly targeted the worst time to have an attack of nerves. "You wanted to know if I trusted him. I do."

"I still don't know how the two of you went into this line of work." Blair sounded tentative but Jim sensed the same quality that Simon possessed; a stubborn determination to get answers.

"I'll tell you later," he said. "Not here."

Blair nodded, accepting that rebuff more easily than Jim had expected. "So, should my ears have been burning this morning?"

Jim smiled. "It's possible. Mine were getting chewed off, if that's any consolation." He fiddled with the position of his knife on the tablecloth for a moment before saying casually, "He thinks I'm, uh, infatuated with you."

He glanced up to catch Blair's expression and saw nothing but a waiting expectancy.

"That doesn't seem to be news to you."

"Well, no," Blair said. "I'd already worked that one out for myself."

"Uh…"

"And I don't like it, but it's not like I can change it --"

"Wait, you don't like --?"

Blair took off his glasses and rubbed at his eyes. "It won't last. You want to fix me up and either you will and then you'll lose interest, or you won't and you'll get frustrated and walk away. I'd sooner you just kind of liked me and we could build on it, but you don't, do you?" He replaced his glasses and Jim was hit by a resigned look that cut deep. "You're crazy about me. I always thought that would feel good, to be wanted, but it doesn't. Not if it won't last."

Jim opened his mouth, about to deny it, deny it all, when a plate was slid in front of him and a pepper grinder was flourished under his nose.

By the time they'd dealt with one hell of a lot of solicitous inquiries about the food they'd barely had a chance to taste, he was almost certain Blair was kidding.

Almost.

Because it wasn't like that. It really wasn't.

***

Outside the restaurant, with a watery sunlight seeping though the clouds, Jim waited for Blair to say something. The flirting over the meal, the slow simmer of seduction he'd planned, just hadn't happened. Blair and he had talked, argued, and lowered the level in the wine bottle, but they hadn't arranged to see each other again or made any plans for the future and he felt an unfamiliar uncertainty eat away at him.

Blair stood in front of him, his hands in his pockets. "Thanks for feeding me. Next time, it's on me, okay?"

Next time. Jim smiled. "Sure," he began.

Blair interrupted him. "Do you have to… yeah, you do, don't you?"

"Have to what?" The wind was blowing down the street, waltzing with a sheet of newspaper, and Blair's hair, dry now, was across his face one moment, lifting to expose the line of his neck the next. Under the jacket, under the clothes, he wore a bruise from Jim's mouth and teeth on his hip, imprinted heat from Jim's hand on his ass, but those were hidden, secret, safe, and Jim was standing a few feet away, his hands empty.

"Go back to work?" Blair sighed. "Yeah, you're late, already, aren't you? Should've skipped dessert."

"The way you were staring at the profiteroles on the next table?" Jim said dryly. "I'm not that cruel."

"I'd choose you over chocolate." Blair peered up at him. "That was a compliment. They were really good profiteroles."

"I'll take your word for it." He didn't do desserts. Every year, staying fit took more effort and he didn't need the extra calories. "And you didn't need to choose. You can have both. There's time for…"

"A nooner," Blair said reflectively and accurately. "I've never done this before. Do we check into a motel or something?"

"Do you want to?" Jim toyed with the idea of installing a fake motel room in one of the agency's houses and dismissed it. You couldn't fake the sleaze and the thin walls, or the slick grease of sordid over everything.

"I want…" Blair shook his head. "Just somewhere no one's watching. Somewhere we can get naked." His head tilted, he stared at Jim. "Somewhere I can take care of that pissy attitude for you, because, man, you need to get laid, don't you?"

Jim wanted to groan an agreement, wanted to unzip right there and let Blair take care of him against the nearest wall, coach him through it, make him gag and choke and keep on coming back for more because he couldn't get enough of the taste of Jim's cock and the feel of it against his tongue, his lips. He settled for a sigh, quiet enough that only Blair's slow smile let him know it'd been heard.

"Oh, you want it," Blair murmured, and it was Jim getting seduced now, aroused by a carnal mouth, sticky-sweet, and a bare handful of words he wanted to eat like cherries, sucking the tart, red flesh off the stones.

"Follow me," Jim said, wondering that he could say even that much without telling Blair the rest of it. He guessed Blair could see it on his face and he covered the raw, naked need with a grin. "My little obsession, my chocolate-coated infatuation, my --"

"Hey," Blair protested, falling into step beside him as Jim walked away. "Keep that up and I'm changing direction and walking away from the crazy man."

"No, you won't."

"You sound sure of that."

"I am." They came to a halt, waiting for the lights to change, the two of them invisible in the crowd, letting Jim speak freely, though he kept his voice low. "Because I might be obsessed, but you're addicted."

Blair's breath caught, a choke of shock Jim could hear over the roar of traffic and the baby screaming in a stroller beside him. "I -- I'm not."

They crossed the street and Jim took advantage of the press of people to slip his hand around Blair's shoulders. He guided them into a quieter side street and then let his hand fall away. "Yes, you are. Do you think I didn't see the look on your face when we were waiting for the check? You wanted to be out of there so badly I could taste it. You were jittering like you were the one with the espresso, not me."

Blair's face was averted, the shielding sway of his hair a barrier Jim wanted to draw aside. He wasn't sure how he felt about Blair's hair. He'd never had a male lover with long hair and it was distracting, disconcerting.

And he was getting tired of kissing Blair and ending up kissing hair instead. The damn stuff got everywhere.

But Blair only had to tie it back for his hands to itch with the need to free it so that they could play with it, cat's cradle for adults, with Jim pushing his spread fingers through it slowly, past snarls and tangles, silky, static-sparking strands clinging to the back of his hands, his wrists, until he was cradling the curve of Blair's skull.

He wanted to brush Blair's hair, Blair on the floor, leaning back against the bed, his eyes closed, a dreamy look on his face. Wanted the rebellious hair to lie smooth under each slow dragged pass of the brush, only to spring back as the brush completed the stroke. Wanted to smell it, feel it, clean and damp from washing, brush it dry, watching it lighten, snap-crackle-popping at him.

Wanted to drop the brush into Blair's waiting hand and make him crawl to put it away, his hair slipping forward over bare shoulders, his movements slow, languid, a pampered, spoiled pet.

Now that was a fantasy for the Victorian house.

"What would you have done if I'd said I had to go back to work?" Jim said, his tone harsher than he'd planned. "Accepted it? Pouted, pleaded, begged?"

Blair swung around to face him, his expression challenging. "It didn't come up. Because you wanted it just as much as me. You stood there on the sidewalk and I could see how much you wanted me to stay. I stepped back and you followed me. You thought I was leaving and you swallowed and your eyes, God, Jim --"

"I'm going to fuck -- no," Jim corrected himself, "I'm going to have you on your knees sucking me as soon as we're behind a door that locks. That's a promise. Still want to come with me?"

"I'd do it now if you told me to."

Jim smiled at hearing the echo of his earlier thought. "I wouldn't -- that's not taking care of you -- but I appreciate the offer."

"Fine. We'll wait." Blair glanced around. "Uh, where are we? And where the hell are we going?"

Good question.

Jim pulled a key ring out of his jacket pocket. "Pick a key."

"To what?"

"They're houses we own. Places we take clients. That first night I told you I could take you somewhere you could be noisy, remember? That's what I meant."

And Blair had freaked out. That seemed like a long time ago.

"The closest place will do."

"Then you'd better hope you pick that one." Blair had to learn to obey, not argue, but Jim wasn't holding his breath.

"But I don't know -- oh, this one." Blair tapped a silver key, hanging off to the left of the bunch. "Now tell me it's clear across town and watch me cry."

Jim started walking again. "It's close; they all are, but I have to make sure it's free."

"How many of them do you have?" Blair asked curiously as Jim waited for Rhonda to check, the phone against his ear, his steps slowing because if it was being used they'd have to turn around.

"Five," Jim said. "But some we share with another agency -- oh, thanks, Rhonda. Take it out of the system until four and send a cleaner over at three thirty, will you?"

He turned off his phone and smiled at Blair. "So, on the one hand no rush, on the other…"

"Walk faster?" Blair asked, grinning.

"I'm not sure you're going to get to come," Jim said mildly. "Maybe you need to learn how to wait. Sam's big on delayed gratification; I'm sure she'd approve."

"Fifteen years wasn't long enough?" Blair shook his head. "And if you want me to give Sam another whirl, well…"

"Sam doesn't want you," Jim said. He put his arm around Blair and pulled him against his side without breaking stride. "I, on the other hand, do. And I don't share."

"Possessive," Blair said. He stayed within the curve of Jim's arm for a few more steps, a strand of that damn hair finding its way across Jim's chin, and then moved away. "I'm not used to that."

"Better learn," Jim said lightly, meaning it.

Blair gave him a quick, hard to interpret look, and smiled slightly but for once didn't answer.

Jim had run out of things to say, anyway. He knew which of the houses on the street was their destination, that one, there, four steps leading up to a door painted his favorite dark green; shuttered windows managing, because of the flowerboxes beneath them, not to look forbidding.

The street was mostly business, not residential, the neighbors unlikely to be curious if the outside was well-kept -- and it was -- and the noise level low --which it also was. In the time that the agency had owned it, the houses on either side had seen a steady turnover in tenants, anyway; small businesses, optimistically certain they could pay the staggeringly large rents.

And they were almost there, the key warm in his hand and Blair's quick, uneven breathing a match to his own.

"That door?" Blair asked as Jim turned and began to walk up the steps.

Jim glanced back. "Is that a problem?"

Blair licked his lips, which meant that if it was, Jim really didn't care. "Only if the key sticks, because I'm not sure I can wait much longer."

"It won't." To prove it, Jim slid it home and turned it. The door swung open and he stepped inside, tapping out a four-digit code on the keypad as it began to beep a warning.

By the time Jim had disabled the alarm, the door had been closed and locked and Blair was on his knees. His eyes had the distant, hazy look Jim was starting to recognize as Blair so turned on he could barely speak. Something else Blair needed to be trained out of. Jim wanted Blair there, with him, participating. Passive didn't do a thing for him, never had.

Jim leaned back against the door and unbuckled his belt, shoving his jacket wide without bothering to take it off. He thumbed open a button, slid down a zipper and eased out his cock and balls with a practiced scoop of his hand, never taking his eyes off Blair.

Then he jerked his head in a signal and watched Blair edge forward the few inches needed, which was good because Jim wasn't sure he could speak without his voice shaking.

Blair put his hands on Jim's thighs, fingers spread wide, the warmth of his palms hotter on Jim's skin than he'd expected through a layer of fabric, making his skin prickle with sweat. Blair's eyes closed and he leaned forward, rubbing the side of his face and that silky mess of hair against Jim's cock, the strands catching on the rougher hair surrounding it, the darting, sideways lick of his tongue unexpected. It drew a deep, harsh moan from Jim that he heard in his head as Blair's name.

Blair's hands flexed without moving upward and he continued to let the glossed-wet head butt against his cheek, his closed lips, his chin, licking it at intervals, sometimes snatching a taste of the precome shining like ice on holly berries against the deep red flesh, sometimes running his tongue along the length, finding places that made Jim shudder and jerk.

He endured it for a long minute, his hands by his side in an effort of will only he would ever appreciate, and then he whispered, "Open your damned mouth, Blair," as tenderly as he could because his hands were full of Blair's hair and he couldn't be gentle, not now, not with his hands, not with his body, not when Blair was sucking him eagerly, appreciative hums and moans and those damn hands hot on him, so hot.

Jim came before he'd planned to, three seconds early at least, cheated out of one more thrust into Blair's welcoming mouth because he looked down as Blair looked up and that did it for him. No one should look that good with a cock shaping their mouth round, lips wet, slicked, smeared, eyes bright, cheeks flushed.

Blair strained forward, fighting Jim's grip on his hair in an attempt to keep as much of Jim's cock in his mouth as he could. Had to hurt because Jim didn't slacken his hold. Couldn't, right then. Jim felt his hips jerk forward, back, once, twice, then froze, deep in Blair's mouth, as he stopped thinking for a moment, vision gone, body jolted by the kind of climax that hit hard and left you breathless.

He tipped his head back, staring up at the ceiling, and tried to make his body remember how to inhale and his fingers to relent, release their hold on Blair's hair.

He managed it when Blair made a small, plaintive sound and rocked his head slightly in an unspoken request, but he couldn't do more than that. Blair eased his mouth off Jim a moment later and Jim shivered as the wet skin on his cock met the air-conditioned air, cooling fast.

He looked down. Blair hadn't moved. He knelt at Jim's feet, his hands sliding over Jim's thighs, a few inches up, then back to where they'd started, the repetitive action helping to bring Jim back because it was vaguely irritating as much as it was soothing.

Blair sighed, rested his forehead in the hollow of Jim's hip for the space of a breath, and then brought his hand over to wipe at his mouth.

Jim found the energy to smile at that and stroked Blair's head. "You okay?"

Blair nodded and Jim felt a damp kiss against his stomach.

"Good," Jim murmured. He reached down and slid his hand between Blair's hand and his leg. Blair's fingers clutched hard and Jim ran his thumb across Blair's knuckles. "Right here, Blair."

Blair exhaled. "That was --"

"Yeah."

Jim didn't want to talk about it. He was too busy looking at the stairs and the open doorway at the top of them even as his hands petted and calmed.

A bedroom, a bed. Right there.

And he wouldn't have made it. Couldn't have waited that long (ten, fifteen seconds, an agony of need making them endless).

He brought Blair to his feet and pointed at the stairs. "Up. And don't get undressed yet. This time you're doing it my way."

"But I get to come, right?" Blair glanced back over his shoulder, already halfway up the stairs. "Jim? Tell me I don't have to wait."

Jim hung up his coat and tugged up his zipper, leaving his belt unbuckled. He was going to be taking it off soon. A closet full of everything you'd ever need to inflict a smart, a sting on waiting, willing flesh, and Blair could look all he wanted at paddles and whips, but he was getting Jim's hand and the belt Jim would slip back through the loops on his pants.

"Maybe and yes, definitely."

The feeling of panic following his loss of control was fading with every muttered complaint from Blair.

As he walked slowly up the stairs, easing his belt free, Jim was smiling.


Part Nine

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