Point of Contact

Part Nine



Many thanks to T Verano for being a wonderful beta.

*****
Blair didn't know what he'd expected, but the bedroom looked disappointingly normal. Large, yes, luxurious, yes, but… normal.

Jim's hand came to rest on his shoulder, squeezing it and not moving away. "Look again," Jim said, a hint of amusement in his voice.

He wasn't sure if it was good that Jim could read him that easily. Useful in some ways, sure, but…

"Look closer," Jim advised, leaning in. His breath stirred the air beside Blair's neck and set off a chain reaction, a localized shiver.

And just like that, he saw normal shred away, because most bedrooms didn't have a hook set into the ceiling above the bed.

The bed was higher than most, and there was a discreet key pad, wall-mounted, within reach of someone lying down. "Adjustable," Jim murmured in his ear. "Hell on the back if you want to fuck someone while you're standing and the bed's too low…"

Blair stared at the bed, all white pillows and dove gray covers, muted, elegant, a neutral canvas. He tried to picture Jim, naked, his hands gripping slender hips; a faceless, beautiful woman moaning, long hair brushing the bed as she was fucked.

Except it wouldn't always be like that, would it? It might be Jim on his hands and knees, mouth making sounds he'd been paid to make, a man behind him, older maybe, with a body showing the effects of too many lunches like the one Blair had just had, a sweaty, red-faced, grunting man --

"You're not looking happy." Blair turned and saw that Jim was holding his belt in one hand, the dark strip of leather dangling. Jim saw the direction of Blair's gaze and coiled the belt loosely before tossing it onto the bed. It lay against the pale fabric like an ink-drawn spiral. "You said you didn't mind me talking about it."

"I don't." Blair licked his lips and caught himself doing it. Doing it again, because ever since he'd risen from his knees, lips warm and numb and wet, he'd been licking at them, chasing the taste (new, different, had to show; had to be like lipstick, there for all the world to see…).

The only reason he wanted to stop doing it was because each time the flavor was fading, going away.

He tried again. "I don't mind. I just -- I was thinking of you. Doing that." Having it done to you.

"Oh." Jim stood in silence for a moment. "I've never -- not here. Not in this actual room." He glanced around, frowning. "I don't think so, anyway."

"It doesn't matter," Blair said. He couldn't let it matter. And in a weird, fucked-up way, it aroused him; not the idea of Jim getting fucked, no, but the wave of possessiveness that followed the thought. He liked the mantra of 'mine' it set off in his brain.

He studied the room with more attention now. Jim's place. Jim's space. Jim's workplace. And Jim was looking vaguely proud now that Blair thought about it, standing there and watching Blair wander around something he'd created.

"Close the door?" Blair asked.

"No one else will show up," Jim told him. "But sure." He pushed it closed. "Want me to lock it?"

"Yeah, I do. Do you mind?"

"No."

He supposed he should feel panicked, claustrophobic even. The windows in the room, two of them, were blind, hidden behind heavy drapes, and the room was quiet. Alone in here, he might have felt trapped, but with Jim there, arms folded across his chest, leaning back against the locked door, the room felt like a refuge.

There were places on the headboard where metal and wood had been rubbed shiny. Places where anchor points had been added. Blair found himself absently stroking his wrist, remembering how it'd felt to be tied down.

"I don't suppose there's a Gideon Bible in the nightstand."

"If the cleaners did their job -- and I'm sure they did, they're in-house and well-trained -- there are three bottles of assorted lubes and five boxes of condoms in various styles and sizes, plus, well, other stuff." Jim grinned at him. "Go and check for me and I can call this a working lunch; part of my job is random inspections of the rooms."

Curious, Blair opened a drawer. The bottles and boxes were small, reminding him of the usual hotel giveaways of toiletries. "Looks like it's all there," he reported back. "All new, too. The lubes haven't been opened."

"Well, sure." Jim sounded perplexed. "Once they're opened, they're disposed of at the end of the session."

For some reason, that mundane detail brought home to him where they were more than anything else. His own bottle of lube, sticky, half-empty, tossed under a heap of junk in his own nightstand drawer, had been there for months.

He closed the drawer and turned, gesturing at the closets, two of them, flanking the doorway to the bathroom. "What's in there?"

"Equipment," Jim said. "Want to see?" His mouth twitched in what Blair guessed was an attempt to hold back a smile. "Of course you do."

"Maybe I do," Blair said. He managed to keep a grin off his face for about three seconds before surrendering. "Oh, you know I do."

He walked over to the closet nearest the window and tugged at the doorknob. Locked.

"You can't open it without using this," Jim said, joining him by the door and pointing at yet another keypad set into the wall. "And clients never get told the combination, and neither will you, but for different reasons." Oh, way to make his throat close up, lust choking him as he worked through the implications of that. Jim liked being in control, but not as much as Blair liked being held in place… and if he didn't get to come soon, really soon, he might have to see how easy it was to beg Jim into being merciful. "Close your eyes."

"You're joking, right -- oh!" Jim's large hand covered his eyes, a warm, effective blindfold, and Blair heard the light tap of a finger entering a four-digit code, and then a soft click.

"You can look now."

Jim's hand fell away and left Blair staring at the contents of the closet. Neat. Tidy. Organized. Not alphabetically, no, because dildo came before flogger -- unless it was a crop? No, that was over there, hanging from a hook…

"Uh-hmm." Jim sounded satisfied by Blair's reaction, even if it'd consisted of one sharp breath and a lot of stunned silence. "The other closet's got costumes, harnesses, that sort of thing. Nothing I want you in."

"Collars?" Blair asked, surprising himself. "Because, you know, I think I'd like to try --"

Jim brushed the back of his hand over Blair's throat. He didn't look pleased. "No."

"No?"

"Two things. No, three. One, you wear a collar -- my collar -- and it's going to be one I had made for you, not something a fucking client -- not something anyone else has ever touched."

"Fine --" And I was a 'fucking client' until last night, Jim…

"Second, I'm not sure I want to take this that far --"

Then why are you still touching my neck, Jim? Why are you looking at me like you did when I was on my knees, mouth full of your dick?

Blair tipped his head back instead of asking what he thought were two excellent questions, and felt Jim's fingers slide up the side of his neck, one finger finding the hollow behind his ear and pressing into it. When the finger moved away, Blair could still feel the insistent pressure there, radiating out until the skin around it felt heavy with the weight of their mutual need.

Because Jim might have just come, but it hadn't been enough for him. Blair could tell.

"And third…" Jim kissed the corner of Blair's mouth. "You're not ready for one. Nowhere near ready."

"Hey!" Frustrated, Blair slammed his hand against Jim's chest and pushed, succeeding mostly in propelling himself backward, because Jim didn't budge. "That's my call to make."

"You think it’s just a fashion statement?" Jim's eyes were remote, cool. "Something you can wear for the hell of it and take off after you've come? You think it's something you can ask for without earning? You think you can wear it while you've got all these limits in place?" Jim shook his head. "Not that I'm saying you're wrong to have those limits, but -- it just doesn't work like that, Blair." His voice softened marginally. "Look, trust me on this, will you? Don't rush it. Don't push yourself or me." He reached out and hooked his finger under Blair's chin, bringing Blair stumbling closer with a small tug. "I promise you we've got time, okay?"

Blair jerked his head, freeing himself, and nodded. "Okay."

As responses went, it was pitifully inadequate, but it was all he had. He felt humiliated, his needs and weaknesses exposed.

And still hard. God, so very fucking hard.

Limits… yeah, he had those, didn't he? And he could see what Jim meant; he wanted the toy without eating the cereal. And maybe thinking about it as a toy wasn't something Jim would like, either.

"Fuck me today," he offered impulsively, the words spilling out. "Get it over with."

"What part of not rushing are you failing to get, Blair?" Jim shook his head, looking bemused. "You're something else, you know that?"

Blair opened his mouth to refute that, and got distracted by something on the third shelf. "Jim? What -- oh, God, it's an arm." A clenched fist and a forearm, to be exact. The thought of it inside his ass was enough to make every muscle he had go into spasms. "Shit, it's just… way to make me feel inadequate," he muttered, trying to cover up his reaction.

"Hmm?" Jim turned his head. "Oh…" This time his lips tightened but the amusement was still visible. "Well, as arms go, it's not that big."

Blair chuckled. Fisting wasn't on his to-do list which meant that impossibly sized object was something he could observe objectively after his first, instinctive flinch. "True. And compared to you, it's on the small side." He ran his hand over Jim's forearm, gratified by the way Jim froze in place. "The bright purple's a bit much."

"There's probably one in a different color in another room if you want me to get it," Jim said softly. "Or maybe we could just stop sightseeing now?"

"Works for me," Blair agreed, registering the way Jim's voice had gone quiet and recognizing it as a signal that Jim was done playing. "So what do you want --?"

This time, the hand went across his mouth.

"I want you to stop talking. I want you to do what you're told without hesitation, without commentary. I see you smile or roll your eyes and you're taking care of this little problem --" Blair gasped as Jim palmed the heavy ache of his dick, the casually rough caress perfectly timed, Jim's hand gone before Blair could arch and rub against it. "Single-handed," Jim finished, the final word ominous.

Jim smiled unexpectedly. "And I want you to learn how to get undressed for me the way I like it." He pushed his thumb past Blair's lips and pulled it back wet from the lick Blair hadn't been able to stop himself giving it. "You're a quick study. It's not a lesson I expect to have to repeat."

Jim dropped his hand and arched his eyebrows, waiting for a response. Blair knew these games from a dozen movies about soldiers in training and he'd gotten off on them even as Naomi had exclaimed in horror at his choice of entertainment. And Jim had been a soldier, hadn't he, so this was something he'd have endured for real...

So. He hadn't been asked a question, which meant he had to keep his mouth shut -- unless maybe Jim wanted him to acknowledge the instructions, in which case did Jim want him to say 'sir' or something?

"You do quiet the way other people make speeches," Jim told him. "Just nod, okay?"

Blair nodded.

"Right," Jim said, with a sigh of relief. "Now we're getting somewhere."

'Getting somewhere' meant taking fifteen minutes -- fifteen, and Blair didn't believe Jim when he said it could take four times that, because you could only spin out taking off a sock for so long -- to do what Blair, motivated by what was going to happen once he was naked, could have accomplished in as many seconds.

It meant Jim lounging back in an armchair, fingers tapping idly at his mouth, his gaze never leaving Blair, his eyes cool, appraising.

It meant Blair feeling his arousal wane somewhere around the third button on his shirt, refastened and undone four times before Jim was happy with the way he'd done it (it was a button, for God's sake, a freaking button…) -- only for it flare up, burning bright and hot, when Jim stood, walked over, bent his head and kissed the bared skin on Blair's chest, a single, slow kiss, and then glanced up, meeting Blair's eyes.

"Take that long on the next ones and you won't get to come at all," Jim said pleasantly.

Bastard.

"Don't worry." Jim's next words were whispered into Blair's hair, quiet words in a quiet room. "I'll still spank you, sweetheart."

Diabolic bastard, Blair amended silently, biting back a despairing whimper at the threat of a spanking with no climax. Or worse, coming anyway, as he wasn't sure it was something he'd be able to prevent, and Jim doing… something to him by way of punishment that he wouldn't like.

Jim went back to his chair, nodded, flicked his fingers, and Blair slid the next button free, one handed, his gaze fixed on Jim's face, his other hand resting against his thigh, fingers spread, pointing down.

"Better."

Jim's commentary wasn't helping his nerves, but it was better than doing this into an unresponsive silence. Maybe.

Blair was sweating, a graceless, blushing mess, but under Jim's steady gaze he produced something that was barely adequate, although he wasn't confident of his ability to remember the order his clothes had to leave his body -- right sock before left and both before his pants, for example -- and some of the details Jim was insisting on were just too fucking stupid --

And it didn't matter, did it? The realization hit him at the same time as his shirt reached the floor after sliding down his outstretched arms, his back arched in a wordless offering of his finally naked body.

It only mattered that Jim was telling him what to do and making his obedience perfect by not accepting anything less -- or as close to perfection as Blair could get, because this wasn't easy. He'd thought that it would be -- that arousal and an erection would carry him over any awkwardness toward the ultimate goal of sex the way he wanted it, with someone hot. He'd even, more or less, gotten over the shock of discovering that men did more for him than women when it came to this kind of sex.

Maybe any kind. He wasn't sure about that; but until Jim left his life, it was a theoretical question.

He hadn't gotten over the twist of pure need in his gut every time he looked at Jim and found him looking back, that grave, considering smile on his face. Didn't want to.

But it wasn't easy and he was wondering why he'd ever thought it would be.

He stood, positioned by words, held in place by his own determination, and felt himself lose it between one breath and the next, shaking, his teeth chattering, warm tears gathering in his eyes, because he was naked and Jim wasn't looking at anything but his face, and he could feel the blood heat it and even if he managed to keep these stupid fucking tears from falling, his nose would start to run soon, always did, and Jim had told him not to move and sniffing was so not seductive…

Jim nodded, made an indeterminate sound of approval, and walked past Blair to the bed, pausing for long enough to shove a handkerchief into one of Blair's hands. Blair used it, balled it up, and after looking around, left it on a table by the window, next to a glass vase filled with nothing but air, the glass a smoky mix of purple and gray.

Jim undressed to the waist in a matter of seconds, placing his discarded clothes on an upright chair against the wall. Blair watched, resentment that Jim got to do it the easy way lost in appreciation of Jim's chest and arms -- God, if Jim didn't say to him soon, lick me all over and do it slowly, he was going to suggest it himself -- and a dawning awareness that even when he stripped quickly, Jim still made it look better than he had done in that endless quarter of an hour.

Jim kicked his shoes off and then, still wearing his pants, got onto the bed and patted it, settling down on his side. "Come here."

Blair took a step forward and then paused, lost without the instructions that had rained down on him when he'd undressed.

"Just do it," Jim said. He smiled. "Do it so I can't take my eyes off you."

Blair didn't think that was much of a challenge. Jim hadn't stopped looking at him since he'd walked into the restaurant. He considered his options and went for simple. He walked to the end of the bed, bent and put his hands flat on it, and then crawled over it until his head was level with Jim's shoulder. He stopped, head down, his hair falling around his face, and held that position.

"Oh, that was nice," Jim said approvingly. "Stay like this."

He stared down at the bed, his eyes blurring. Jim edged a little closer and began to fondle him, his hand stroking Blair's back and side, exploratory, possessive touches.

"Don't like your hair like that, though," Jim murmured, tucking Blair's hair back behind his ear on the side nearest Jim, exposing Blair's face. "I want to see you. Is that a problem?"

Blair shook his head. Jim's hand swept down his spine and cupped his ass. "You answered too fast," Jim told him. "But I don't think I'd have listened if you'd said it was." His thumb grazed down the split of Blair's ass, going shallow and slow. Blair shivered and found his knees edging wider, his hips tilting up. God, he was going to be begging Jim to fuck him soon, because that single teasing touch had left him trembling and it hadn't been anywhere near his --

He forced himself to think, ignoring what Jim's hand was doing to the back of his thigh with an effort of will. He was past freaking out about sex with a man. He was. He was turned on by Jim to the point where the man could get him hard just by existing; that didn't go with freaking out, it just didn't.

And yet he only had to imagine Jim sliding one slicked-up finger into his ass for his face to crumple into a squeamish grimace. Stupid; Jim was inside his head, for God's sake; his ass was off-limits, but his mind wasn't?

But logic didn't mean much to muscle groups, and even as he spread wider, feeling his knee nudge the cool leather of Jim's belt, he tensed up.

His half whispered, half wailed, 'Jim' came a heartbeat behind Jim's 'What is it?'.

He collapsed onto his stomach, scrubbed his face against a clean, cool pillow, and waited for Jim to read his mind and make it better.

"Uh, Blair…"

"Mmm?"

"Get your head out of that pillow, would you?"

From bemused to bossy in two sentences.

Blair turned his head and stared up into blue, blue eyes. "Have you ever wanted something you were terrified of?"

"Sure," Jim said promptly. "Parachuting. I wasn't scared the first time, but the second… God. See, I knew what it was like… and I loved the freedom, the feeling that I was flying -- nothing like it -- but it scared the shit out of me, too." He pushed Blair's hair back again in a move Blair was starting to anticipate. "What am I doing wrong?"

"Nothing. It's me."

"You're doing just fine. I'd tell you if you weren't."

"See, that's just it. I'm only doing what you tell me to. Take you away and I'm lost."

"Well..." Jim was back to looking bemused again. "Blair, you need me for this. Or it's called masturbation and I think you've had enough practice at that."

Blair swatted Jim's hip indignantly. "Hey! Don't tell me you don't jerk off."

"Oh, I do," Jim assured him. "But since I met you… well…"

"What?"

"I missed you," Jim said obliquely. "Put it this way; that time in the hotel bathroom wasn't the last time I jerked off thinking about you."

"You've been thinking about me when you…?" Was that flattering or … no, it was flattering. It was really, really…

Jim didn't have the grace to look even a little self-conscious. "Only when I'm in a hurry."

Blair absorbed that and decided to do come confessing of his own. "God, I only have to think about you and I go off like a rocket."

"Yeah? Me doing what?" Jim asked. Jim didn't sound as if he was fishing for a compliment Blair doubted he could frame in anything but stammered incoherencies; he sounded more like a doctor asking about symptoms.

Blair shook his head and lied, just a little. "Nothing specific. Just you. Spanking me. You know…"

And kissing the back of my neck, and holding me, and getting hard over me, over me

"Mmm." Jim looked unconvinced, but he let it go, which disappointed Blair in some ways. "So what's wrong?"

Blair rolled to his side, facing Jim. "I think about you fucking me and I can't go there. Then you touch my ass and I'm -- it feels good and I want it and I start to think I can… and then I'm back on the image of your fingers in my ass and I'm just -- oh, man."

Jim blinked at him in silence for long enough that Blair's erection began to wilt. "I see."

"Glad one of us does, because I can't figure it out," Blair muttered.

"There's nothing to work out. You don't want it, we don't do it."

"You say that now."

Jim's fingers were suddenly tight on Blair's chin, holding him in place. "I say that now, yes. I'm not going to change my mind. Do I want to fuck you? Yes, because I know I'll like it and I think you would, too. I do. But it's not a condition of being with me."

"What is?" Blair asked quietly.

"I don't know. That you don't lie to me. That you don't hide --" Jim pushed his hand through Blair's hair, freeing it from behind his ear without letting it fall forward to shield his face. "With me, why would you want to? I know your deepest, darkest secret, right?"

Good point. "Habit."

"Break it."

"Yes, sir."

"Smartass," Jim said affectionately and kissed him.

Blair stiffened in surprise and then got into it as Jim didn't show any signs of stopping or being in a hurry. The cloth of Jim's pants was smooth against his legs and he edged back a little because he was hard again. Those pants looked expensive.

He didn't ask Jim to take them off, though; he'd already worked out that Jim preferred to spank him when he was naked and Jim wasn't, and he could appreciate the power dynamics at play there.

Jim paused. "Feeling better?" His hand reached down and stroked Blair's erection. "Oh, yeah, you are."

"Not really," Blair said without thinking. Jim frowned and he pushed himself to explain before Jim began to ask questions. "I'm still all --" He wiggled his hand. "Indecisive."

A flash of frustration passed over Jim's face before his expression changed to studiously calm. "Then we deal with it. Don't overthink it, just tell me to start with what is it that you like about the idea?"

"Like? Oh, man." Blair shook his head. "The physical bit -- you touch me and I just -- I don't know what you do, but it's good. And I trust you."

"Okay…"

"And I like the idea of being…" Blair swallowed, but he'd come this far, he could do this… "I like the idea of being taken by you. Just feels like the ultimate submission, right?"

"I can't say it feels that way for me when I'm bent over," Jim said, a slight edge to his voice. "But if that's what you think you'd get out of it, well, it's your dime, Chief."

He wasn't going to back down no matter what issues Jim had. "Yeah. It is. I've been letting you inside since we met; that would be just more of the same."

Something softened in Jim's eyes. "I guess. Okay; so that sounds like you want it here --" he tapped Blair's forehead, "as well as down there. Move on to what's holding you back."

"Messy, painful, and just not what I'm used to," Blair blurted out, the words running together like rained-on wet paint.

Jim wrinkled up his nose, looking bewildered. "Huh?"

"You asked."

"'Messy'," Jim repeated. "Blair, it's sex. Sex is messy. You don't let it stop you and if you mean what I think you mean --"

"You know I do," Blair muttered, his ears hot.

"Well, I could point out a lot of things, but why don't we just go with 'shit happens' and you cross that one off your list of hang-ups because it's sure as hell not on mine." Jim sighed. "And it won't hurt. I wouldn't let it."

"Mmm," Blair said tightly. "Fine."

"Has it hurt before?" Jim asked tentatively.

"Before?" Blair stopped reciting the alphabet backward in his head to distract himself from the single most embarrassing conversation he'd had since the first time he'd met Jim, and blinked. "Jim, you know I've never done this before."

"Not with someone else, no," Jim said, "but when it's just you, I mean."

"What?"

Jim's breath hissed through his teeth. "When you jerk off, Blair. Or are you telling me you've never slid a finger or two inside to make things interesting -- oh, God, you haven't, have you?"

"No, Jim," Blair snapped, his humiliation reaching heights he hadn't known it could and tipping over into rage. "Sorry, but at the age of twelve, I had enough to deal with on the outside to think about sliding a finger up my ass, or my ear, or my fucking nose for that matter. It wouldn't have occurred to me, and since then I've just gone with what I knew would work." He sat up, needing to be able to glare down at Jim. "What, did I miss a memo on the Ellison-approved method of getting off? Have I been doing it wrong all this time? Do I fail at that the same way I did at getting naked?"

"Blair --"

"No, you asked, and I'm telling you. I never have. Virgin territory. And, yes, I guess I could change that with five minutes alone in that bathroom over there and one of those bottles in the top drawer, and maybe I will, but you don't get to look at me like I'm -- like I'm -- fuck."

Into the stunned silence that followed his final snarl, Jim dropped a single word. "Sorry."

"Yeah, well," Blair muttered, unwilling to give up the lifejacket of righteous anger and just sink. "Now you know. I'm a repressed, fucked-up, sad --"

"You didn't see them, because they're in the other closet," Jim interrupted, "but this room's equipped with a variety of gags."

"Make your mind up." He was aware of the fact that he was behaving badly, but stopping was harder than starting. "First you make me talk, then you --"

"No," Jim said. "You're the one who wanted to spill, and I'm glad I made you. I get it now and so do you. You're scared. You've been scared since you opened that hotel room door and saw me, and you've dealt with all of it really well, but you've reached your limit. I get that, Blair, I really do." He smiled. "Simon would be amazed at how reasonable and understanding I'm being. I fake it for clients, but with friends, well, I've been known to come on a little strong. I'll have to tell him you're a good influence on me."

"I'm not scared."

Jim turned and Blair heard a drawer slide open. A moment later a bottle of lube, a paper-thin surgical glove, and a flat package of Wet Wipes landed on the bed. "Prove it. Here, with me watching, or in the bathroom alone, if you like."

"You want me to…" Blair felt hot and dizzy and oddly eager, which must have shown on his face, because Jim's lips curled in a small smile. "Jim, I don't think so. I will, but not now."

"Okay." Jim's smile vanished and he looked -- oh, God, he looked disappointed. Anger, Blair could have met with a matching heat; disappointment had him looking for a way to make it better.

"What happened to it not mattering?" Blair demanded. "What happened to it being my choice when it happens?"

"That hasn't changed. I'm not going to fuck you. It won't even be my finger. I don't even need to be here when you do it. But if even that's too much, too soon, fine."

There was a pause as Blair digested that piece of Jim-logic. In the end, though, it wasn't Jim's now well hidden disappointment, but the memory of the tingle of anticipation he'd felt with Jim's hand on his ass, just before the panic had hit. Pleasure or panic; one of those emotions had to win out, and if it wasn't an easy choice to implement, he knew which option he preferred. Enough of his life had been lived under the shadow of self-doubt and apprehension; enough time had been wasted while he tried to pretend that he could get by with fantasies.

"Green," he said finally. "You wanted me to tell you when things changed, right? So, for this, it's green, but I want you to do it, not me." He picked up the glove, stared at it for a moment as it lay limp and empty across his palm, and then tossed it off the bed and onto the floor. "Don't need that." He picked up the lube and held it out. "But you do need that, right?"

Jim hesitated and then took it from him. "You're sure about this? Me doing it, not you, I mean?"

"You didn't want me to overthink it," Blair reminded him. "And, yes, I'm sure I want it to be you."

Jim knew what he was doing, for one thing.

"Okay. But we do it my way."

"So what's new?"

Jim grinned at him slowly. "You really believe that, don't you? Blair, you have no fucking idea how wrong you are, but let it go."

Jim stood up and got out of his pants, dropping them over the chair that held the rest of his clothes. He was wearing boxers in navy silk, dark against his tanned skin. "Get a towel from the bathroom," he said without looking at Blair.

"Why?" Jim turned his head and Blair got off the bed fast when he saw Jim's expression. "Towel, right."

He grabbed the first one he saw in the bathroom, white, fluffy, thick, and walked back across the bedroom. Jim nodded at the bed. "Put it there." He was holding his belt between his hands, doubled over, and a pillow had been moved to the center of the bed. "Facedown," Jim said.

"Jim…" Blair said uncertainly.

"I'm going to get you relaxed, Blair," Jim said. He raised the belt. "And I promised myself I'd use my belt on your ass, so you get that first, because I'm feeling selfish. Then you're going over my knee -- which is what the towel's for, because if you come, I don't want to be wearing it all day -- and you get my hand." He gave Blair something Blair decided was meant to be an evil smile but really, Jim looked as if he was having a good time, and it showed. "And then a finger or two."

Blair lay down on the bed without answering, his legs already relaxed to the point of being incapable of holding him up, suddenly calm. He'd heard what Jim had said, but that was far off and distant, a future happening.

The belt in Jim's hand was now.

It flicked his thigh, a snap and a promise, and he exhaled slowly and waited for Jim to get something and tie him down.

***

Jim got what he needed from the closet, his mind still processing what had just happened. Jesus, the kid was one surprise after another. His mouth shaped 'messy' soundlessly and he choked back laughter that would have hurt Blair's feelings and held more than a little incredulity.

Because, really, if anything had been needed to drive it home, bang, bang, just how much distance there was between them, it was that.

Not when it came to sex. No. Just… life. He'd spent two days in the jungle wearing a uniform where blood from three men, shit and piss and puke and God knows what else, had dried stiff, and had stunk so badly he'd come close to stripping it off and leaving it until his nose shut down. And he'd been glad of the shit smeared down his arms and stomach because it had fouled the scent of blood, and made him less of a target, but that was a rationalization he'd come up with later. At the time, he'd been a shell-shocked zombie, stumbling through undergrowth and suffering from a few wounds of his own, concussion, and, until he'd found water, dehydration.

He remembered falling into the water, a small, swift-moving river, and letting it take him, cleanse him, cool his fever, and he remembered strong hands pulling him out.

And he remembered a room like this one where a woman had wanted him to piss on her, craving a degradation a world away from Blair's simpler need to submit, but he wasn't sharing that story with Blair and not only because it wasn't his to tell.

Messy.

He was stranded between tenderness and impatience, but when he turned, his hands full of leather and steel, and met Blair's gaze as Blair glanced back at him and smiled, the impatience was lost.

He got Blair tied down, moving quickly only because of the clock, ticking away the time they had here, and found himself wishing he hadn't told Blair what he was going to do because really, right now, Blair was ready. Blair loved this. He was testing the restraints, sure; Jim could see the muscles in Blair's arms and legs tense and relax; hear the creak of the bed as Blair used what limited leverage he had to tug, but he wasn't fighting them. He just got off on knowing how well he was held.

Jim could have told him that he was held perfectly because he was damned if Blair was ever going to have anything less, but Blair needed to find out for himself that he was safe.

And after, Blair was as graceful in the placing of his head and the arch of his body as he'd been clumsy at undressing. Maybe next time, Blair could strip blindfolded… might work for him… or maybe it'd make it too easy…

He eyed the round, solid curve of Blair's ass and wondered what Blair would do if he just got between those widespread legs, parted that ass and let his tongue lap and push inside. It wasn't something he did often -- never with a lover, only a client -- but for Blair, yeah, for Blair…

Blair made a small, protesting, inquiring sound and Jim snapped out of his reverie. "Just admiring the view," he said by way of an explanation.

"My ass?" Blair sounded too… connected for Jim's liking. Too calm, too reasonable. "It's worth looking at?"

"Oh, yeah." Jim nodded, even though Blair couldn't see him. "Shame to mark it up."

There was a pause measured in heartbeats. "Really?"

Scarlet skin, and dim purple bruises rising… Jim wound the buckle end of the belt around his hand and drew the leather through the fingers of his other hand, checking for sharp edges, flaws.

"No. Not really."

Blair's cry, startled, exultant, as the leather struck skin -- Jim was half hard before the second stroke landed, aching for release by the last one.

And Blair was sobbing, pleading now. Not for Jim to stop, not that, no, but for a permission to come he wasn't going to get, because when Blair came, Jim wanted to see his face or at least be holding him.

He knelt on the bed, undoing Blair's restraints, unable to resist locking his hands around each freed wrist and ankle for a moment once the cuffs had been removed. The skin was hot against his palm, roughened slightly, and Blair moaned when he was touched and curled up, reaching out blindly for Jim.

"Come here," Jim said, remembering to drape the towel across his lap as he sat on the edge of the bed, and wishing he didn't have to put that barrier between them.

Blair crawled into Jim's lap, instead of across it, wrapped his arms around Jim's neck, his legs around Jim's waist, and stared at him with a dazed intensity. His cock was jabbing into Jim's belly, wet-tipped and hard, and he was shaking. "Fuck."

Jim held him, one hand sliding down to trace the welts on Blair's skin. Blair's eyes widened. "Don't --"

"Can't help it," Jim whispered back, fiercely.

"I'll come," Blair warned him, his voice husky, his hips jerking. "Jim, I'll come on you --"

Jim felt his world narrow to those words, already anticipating the slick heat against his skin, the noises Blair would make. God knows what he looked like, but he felt -- felt --

Like he had in the shower that morning. Unsure, with no clear idea of what he was doing, and, at the same time, confident that he couldn't do anything wrong.

He mouthed Blair's neck, licking at damp skin. Blair's hair was damp, too, with sweat now, not rain, strands of it clinging to his face, dark and lustrous. His eyes were glittering and his face was flushed and he wouldn't stop moving --

Jim shifted his hold on Blair and pushed down. "Over my knee," he whispered. Blair stared at him and then did it, tensing slightly as Jim's hand brushed over hot, sore skin.

He groped for the lube, bringing it closer and flipping the top open, and then dropped it beside him. He studied Blair's ass, assessing the damage. He'd been careful, though he wasn't sure Blair would agree. The skin wasn't broken and it was stinging like hell, most likely, but the pain would already be starting to fade to heat and a throb. "You can take more," he said. Blair moaned in response, already arching up to meet the promise of a slap.

Oh, yeah. Blair could take it, would beg for it, if Jim teased him with a delay -- but Jim knew that his own control was weakening. His erection was as insistent as it'd been when he'd walked into the house, pressing against the silk of his shorts, rubbed by Blair's hip when Blair wriggled.

He took a deep breath and brought his hand down, three times on each cheek, hard, as hard as he could, not holding back as he had with his belt, and then Blair started to sob and writhe, struggling.

He murmured something soothing, something sweet, and made Blair take two more, his free hand clamped down in the small of Blair's back, pinning him in place.

Blair wailed, hips jerking, and Jim grabbed the lube and one-handed, not fumbling because he'd done this before, God, so many times, squeezed out a puddle of it into his palm, dropping the bottle and tilting his hand until his fingers caught the downward spill.

Then he pushed a single slick finger inside Blair, slowly, carefully, holding him down. Blair stiffened, silenced by that, and Jim eased his finger in and out, going deeper each time, so much lube, so easy, so hot and tight in there, and Blair was panting now, and yeah, there, there, Blair was pushing back, wanting more, that was what he'd wanted, that was what he'd been waiting for --

Jim couldn't wait any longer. He got Blair off his knee and onto the bed on his back, rotating his wrist with a dexterous twist and keeping his finger deep inside Blair's ass. He wasn't losing that connection between them. Blair lay sprawled out, gasping, his chest heaving, his hands clutching air and then clawing at the covers. His cock was rigid, dark, his balls drawn up and tight.

Jim grabbed one of Blair's hands and held on tight, then slid half off the bed, taking Blair's cock into his mouth in a greedy, avid swoop, choking as it nudged the back of his throat and not caring. He sealed his lips around it and sucked hard, using his tongue, his teeth, and matched the thrust of his finger with the bob of his head.

He could taste Blair and smell him, musky, pungent, male; could hear him cry out, wordless, frantic, and feel the answering squeeze of Blair's hand as he clung to him. It wasn't enough, God, it would never be enough. He pushed a second finger inside Blair, fucking him fast now, driving his fingers deep and feeling Blair struggle to take them deeper.

He came a moment after Blair did, his climax triggered by Blair's startled, awed 'oh' and the warm spurt of come spilling over his tongue in a smooth rush, the taste of it catching at his throat, intense, intimate. Came without warning, the spattered silk clinging to him as Blair's fingers loosened and slipped away.

He turned his head slowly after giving Blair's cock one final, gentle lap, and kissed Blair's thigh as he eased his fingers free.

The room felt crowded with silence but Jim didn't want to speak. Not yet. He picked up the towel that had fallen to the floor and wiped his mouth, his hand, Blair's skin, not giving them more than a token clean because when he was able to walk, which he wasn't right then, he was heading for the shower and taking Blair with him.

His shorts were soaked. Fuck.

Blair slid down off the bed to join Jim on the floor, moving into Jim's arms as if he belonged there.

Jim waited for Blair to comment on the fact that Jim had come in his fucking shorts like a goddamned kid, but Blair just passed one hand lightly over the outline of Jim's cock, still half-hard, and sighed with what sounded like a sleepy satisfaction.

Jim smiled and kissed the side of Blair's head. "You okay, Chief?"

"Oh, yeah. Very much okay," Blair assured him.

"Good." Jim realized that he was petting Blair the way he petted Simon's cat when it climbed onto his knee and settled down to purr. He cleared his throat. "Hate to make you move, but --"

"Oh, God, no." With a gratifying reluctance, Blair burrowed in closer, his hands hot on Jim's skin. "Don't wanna."

Jim grinned and slapped Blair's thigh -- gently. "I don't, either, but --"

"But what?" Blair grumbled.

"We need to shower --"

"Some of us more than others."

Jim made his next slap on target and got a yelp of protest followed by a sound, husky and provocative, that he knew damn well Blair wouldn't be able to make good on. "Behave, or I won't apply some TLC to your backside."

"Mmm. Going to kiss it better?"

"No." God, he wanted to. Wanted to spread Blair out on the bed and lick his way across every inch of skin he'd marked. "Got some cream; it'll cool it off, help with the bruising."

"I don't want it cooling and I want the fucking bruises."

Jim raised his eyebrows at Blair's petulant tone. "I don't recall asking your permission."

"I want something to remember -- to -- something I can see afterwards so I know it was --"

"Real?" Blair didn't answer and Jim sighed. He touched the bite mark on Blair's hip. "You've got that."

"It'll fade."

"Then I'll give you another." Jim pushed his hand through Blair's hair and tilted Blair's face up. "Blair -- I'm not going anywhere. You want to carry something that lets you accept that, I'll give it to you. But you let me take care of you after a session, okay? That's not negotiable."

Blair sighed. "Okay. Sorry. I'm just --" He shrugged, looking a little lost. "That was kind of overwhelming, you know?"

"For me, too, and I know you noticed," Jim said dryly. He cupped Blair's face. "So…?"

"Yeah. I liked it," Blair said, answering the question Jim hadn't needed to ask. "And I guess that wasn't hard to miss."

"Nope."

"No more limits."

"One less limit," Jim corrected him. "Now get your ass in the shower, will you?"

"Sir, yes, sir." Blair murmured, getting to his feet and walking away, leaving Jim to follow him into the shower, crowding close and kissing Blair's smiling mouth as the water rained down.

Part Ten

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