Reaching Out

by Jane Davitt

"That's cheating."

"But am I wrong? Sandburg, did you take the last slice of pizza or not?"

"You know I did."


"So you cheated. Don't lie, man; I saw you sniff and do that thing where you zoom in; there's tomato sauce on my face or something, isn't there?"



"On your ear. I'm not asking how it got there, but there's this little dab of it…"

"Do you know how much it freaks me out when you do that? You're supposed to use your powers to protect the city, not your midnight snack."

"I can't turn it off, Chief."

"I know that, I know…. It's just -- man, you didn't even
need to! It's just us two living here; you didn't eat it, it had to be me. Using your Sentinel abilities is, like, way overkill."

"I just --"

"Don't do it on me, okay? Not for little stuff like this. Just… don't."


It'd been a week and I was trying. I still wasn't sure what had set Sandburg off like that, and he should've known what he was asking was close to impossible sometimes, but I was trying to give him some privacy.

It wasn't like I couldn't see his point, after all. Shoe was on the other foot, and I'd have frozen and never thawed, not wanting to move or speak, knowing how much I was giving away with every muscle twitch, every thought with its inevitable physical echo… He dealt with that reality, side effect, whatever, by ignoring it, usually, and I didn't refer to anything I found out. We'd gotten good at pretending, evading, shoving all the secrets -- his secrets -- back in the box as fast as they spilled out.

And most of it was nothing much; so I knew he got choked up over a commercial for dog food -- I didn't know why that one did it for him, but I knew that it did -- and gargled his mouthwash three times, then spat, always three, never four; so what? I didn't listen in on him taking a piss; I stuck my fingers in my ears, in a manner of speaking, when he was whispering, sweet and flirty, into the phone and, by proxy, his latest girlfriend's ear.

I gave him personal space. Always had.

Even if he was currently curled up on the couch next to me, close enough that our sleeves brushed; I'd sat down first, after all; where he'd migrated to during the movie was his choice; I swear I hadn't moved an inch to my right.

Or my left.

He was pissing me off, though; constantly twitching and drumming his fingers on his leg, Sandburg demonstrating perpetual motion really did exist. I was biting my lip to keep from snapping out an order for him to quit it, my fingers aching from the effort of not reaching out to grab his wrists and force his hands to lie still in his lap for just one fucking minute.

And if I did, I'd check to see how he reacted; I knew I would. Cheat without guilt or hesitation. Check on the prickle of sweat against my palms as his body heated, dial hearing up high, high as it'd go, and listen to the muted scrape of every hair on his body lifting, flinch from the deafening gallop of his heartbeat…

Okay, maybe I was suffering from a little wishful thinking there. Odds were good he'd just roll his eyes, settle down, and five minutes later go back to tapping and twitching.

Just when I was on the edge of cracking, driven there by the final straw of an intermittent humming as he tried to accompany the onscreen soundtrack, he lunged for the remote on the table, already grinning, focused on the prize.

Not a chance, Chief.

I grabbed it first, held it up out of reach, and glared at him.

"Come on, Jim; it's the commercials; I've got time to check what's on the other channels."


"Why?" His hand strained up but he didn't get close, and for some reason, he didn't improve his chances by kneeling or, God forbid, standing on the couch. Maybe I'd house-trained him a little, after all.

"Because it doesn't matter what's on; we're watching the movie."

"Sure we are, yes, we are, we definitely are. I just want to see…."

Attention span of a goldfish. I tossed the remote on the couch beside me, away from him. "No."

And that should've been it, victory mine, but he tucked his feet up under him, twisted sideways, and lunged again, this time across me, leaving me with a lapful of squirming Sandburg, arm outstretched, fingers groping for control over my fucking TV.

He was an inch too short; his fingers flexed and straightened, and didn't quite make it. In the moment that he began to wriggle forward, my left hand landed in the small of his back, harder than I'd intended, halting him as I grabbed a handful of his shirt.

"Hey, Jim, easy there." He relaxed when I would have started struggling, going boneless, his feet braced against the arm of the couch, his hand detouring to grab at a cushion that hadn't been there this morning and, given the way its paisley pattern made my eyes ache, wouldn't be there when I went to bed. He shoved the cushion up against my thigh and pillowed his folded arms on it, resting comfortably across my knees. "I like this shirt."

It was just a shirt.

"I wasn't planning on tearing it off you, Chief."

"No?" He turned his head a little and gave me a slanting look through a tangle of hair that was all speculation and mischief before glancing away. "Got other plans for me? Or for this?"

Little bastard wiggled his ass. Funny.

"You know, I'm broad-minded, Jim. If you get your kicks from a little bad boy hands-on action, who am I to --"

"You put yourself here," I reminded him, wondering if he was being subtle and flirting or just a jerk trying to get me to blush. Good luck on that one after the time I'd spent in Vice. "And no, I don't."

"Ever tried?" He didn't wait for an answer I wouldn't have given; just kept babbling. "God, I'm getting flashbacks to Louise; remember her?"

"Louise? No." Why was he doing this? Why was I letting him? Scratch that last bit; I knew why.

"Maybe that was before we -- oh, yeah, yeah, it was…" He chuckled, rich and inward, and I scowled down at my hand and held on tighter. "She was into spanking, that whole scene, in a big way, and you know me; always like to make people happy even if it didn't really work for me as far as I knew --" And the sad part was, he didn't see how pitiful that was. Probably thought that made him a better person instead of a pushover. "So, what can I say? I gave it my best shot."

I got a disturbing visual of Blair whaling on some girl's ass while she cried out, and flinched. "You know, Chief, somehow I'm not seeing you hitting a woman for fun."

He snorted with amusement. "Jim…"

"Even if she asked you nicely. Even if --"

"Jim -- other way round. The hitting, I mean. Louise was the one dealing it out. She had this wooden --"

I cut him off before he got detailed. "I get it." I felt my face flush after all, not because I'd got it wrong, but because my free hand wanted to pat his ass, soothe away a long gone, unwanted sting. It was all wrong that he'd let someone do that to him just to be kind.

"Man, she wore me out… one week and I had to bail, you know? See, after she'd finished turning my ass this deep shade of --"

I interrupted him again, because if I'd had to listen to a literal blow-by-blow account, I'd have lost it. "Sandburg, are you planning on moving said ass any time soon?"

The movie kicked in again, car chase, boom, gunfire, smash; nothing I minded missing. The noise made a background for the sudden silence between us, the contrast making it mean more than it should. It was just a question, and a reasonable one, I thought.

"I was kind of expecting to have hit the floor about three minutes ago," he said finally, his voice soft. "Why am I still here? Well, why are you letting me be?"

He tilted his head to look at me again, his mop of hair falling forward, hiding his face from me. Without thinking, I reached down and tucked it back behind his ear, fingertips stroking his cheek, the spark and tangle of his hair bright against my skin. He'd told me about auras once; I'd nodded skeptically and endured a lecture that left me still unconvinced, but sometimes, when I looked at him just right, I could almost see the light he walked in, almost touch it.

He shivered when I touched him, full mouth falling open, looking defenceless and lost. I shoved every sense I had down as low as it would go, like wrapping myself in cotton wool, grey and damp, willing myself not to give into temptation and get all the clues I needed to work out what kind of shiver it was.

I could barely hear him say my name but I knew that shape and shift of his lips by heart.

Okay, he couldn't expect this much sensory deprivation from me; I was entitled to use what everyone had. Cautiously, bit by bit, I eased back up to what felt like normal, just in time to hear him say my name again.


"Mmm?" I slackened my grip on his shirt, releasing it, the bunched fabric flattening as he arched up a little and then settled down again. My hand lay flat, two thicknesses of cotton between it and his skin. Tearing his shirt --shirts -- off was starting to sound like a good plan, one I could enjoy.

"That crossed a line."

I could still only see half his face but it was enough; he'd got that determined, set, intent look going on; the one he gets when there's a puzzle in front of him and he can't quite figure it out.

I wasn't going to help him with this one. Not after he'd draped himself over my fucking knee and stayed there.

"Did it?" I pushed my fingers deep into his tucked, trapped hair and tugged it free so it fell down again. I didn't do it roughly, not at all, but it was aggressive enough an act given what he'd just said for my breath to catch in panic that I'd gone too far. We were like kids in a schoolyard shoving each other, with a finger, a hand, a fist, driving the tension higher with every accepted challenge. We were barely moving but my heart was racing, and I was aroused, aggravated, unsure. "That better?"

He shook his head, not in an answer, just to get his hair out of the way. His hands and forearms were flat against the cushion now; all it would take was a push and he could roll off me, but he wasn't moving. My fingers were spread on his back, too light a pressure to be anything but symbolic, but it was as if he was chained down, immobile. Waiting.


But not very patiently.

I stroked my hand down over his ass, following the seam of his jeans with my thumb, letting the light friction strike up a burn in my skin. I took my thumb away just as his legs parted an inch, just before it would have had to dip down to keep following that thick, doubled layer of denim. Another few inches, another second, and I'd have been digging my thumb into the back of his balls. I'd have been gentle, but he'd have felt it.

"What about that line?" I ran my finger around one of the pockets sewn into the back of his jeans, following the shape it made. "Or this?"

"You're killing me here, you know that, right?" He sounded breathless and a little bit amused.

I still felt distanced from what was going on and it was driving me crazy. "Blair --" He jerked slightly. I didn't call him that often, but it felt right somehow. "I want -- let me --"

"Anything, man," he assured me eagerly.

Okay, somehow I didn't think we were on the same page.

It crossed my mind that we'd missed out a lot of talking and jumped right in -- Sandburg likes talking -- but when it came down to it, every question we could have asked each other had the same answer and there was only one question that mattered: Do you want this? Yes.

Oh, God, yes.

"I want to -- I haven't been -- not since you said, not with you -- let me dial everything up high? Blair?"

He let my stumbling words exhaust themselves and shook his head slowly, firmly. "No way. Not this time, anyway."

"Blair…" I exhaled, frustrated and annoyed.

"Don't you get it? We'd be on totally different levels, Jim. It wouldn't be fair and I want -- up high, you'd get turned on by anyone with a heartbeat --"

"I don't think so, Chief." I felt obscurely insulted.

"You wouldn't even need to be touched." His fist hammered into the cushion, once, twice, and I got tired of not seeing his face and rolled him to his back, one hand cupping his neck, the other on his stomach.

He stared up at me. "I want to know it's me making you--" His hand traced a cryptic pattern in the air and fell back to his side. "Pop."

Well, that was romantic. I couldn't help grinning. Insecurity suited him in a way, held him still so I could focus.

"It would be, Sandburg. All you. Trust me on that, okay?" And that was me talking about a year of slowly building need and I hope he appreciated it because I'd kept it quiet for so long I'm not sure even I knew about it.

He didn't argue, just looked at me. No dice. No way. Not budging.

 I caved. He can get more out of me with silence and a look than with any amount of glib, over-persuasive talk that I tune out, mostly. One day, he'll figure that out.

"Fine. I keep everything at normal." His mouth opened, already pouncing on the ambiguity, and I forestalled him. "Normal for you."

"Thanks, Jim." He sounded sincere, even grateful. Then he winked at me, mouth spreading wide in a quick grin, there and then gone. "Then I'm all yours."

I gave him an enigmatic, cool smile that was as fake as plastic fruit. "Is that so?"

He didn't answer, just looked at me some more, earnest and watchful and waiting, now. Never thought I'd miss him talking…

I took a deep breath, working out what to do. It was too much, all at once, feast after famine, and I couldn't decide what he wanted to happen. I needed to find out my way, but he'd know if I did and Sandburg pissed at me wasn't what I wanted to deal with right now.

He settled back against my hand under his neck, the cushion, my legs, sinking deeper somehow, with a contented sigh. Okay; he wanted to stay here. That made it simpler. I accepted it as a rule without questioning it; this was how he was going to stay for the duration and I couldn't move him.

Which meant any… popping I did was going to be unassisted. Guess he really did want me to prove something to him.

I wasn't sure I wanted to come in my pants, even for him, but I was a long way off that, still too surprised to be more than half-hard, and I was starting to warm up to the idea of doing what the hell I wanted to him within the tight limitations of this space, this position we'd locked ourselves into.

"You're smiling."

"Yeah." I tickled his stomach and felt the muscles jump and quiver, a vague, dim sensation through his clothing. "Is it okay if I --?"

"Yes." He looked at me. "Anything. Don't ask. Just do it."

I pursed my lips. "Okay, Chief."

He watched me unbutton his shirt one-handed, peering down the length of his body, his chest barely moving with each shallow breath. Curious, experimenting, I tightened my grip on his neck, giving a possessive squeeze, just to see… His mouth tensed, lips thinning slightly, and he blinked. That was it, but even dialed down I could tell he'd fought to keep himself from reacting.

This from a man who got embarrassingly vocal when he was eating something tasty, eyes closed, making happy little whimpers before shoveling in another mouthful? I bit back a protest. So I had to work to get him out of it enough that he couldn't control the way he moved, the sounds he made; I could do that.

Well, I could try. I'd never had to make that much effort before, but if I'd ever thought about what it'd be like with Sandburg -- and I hadn't, because I could come just from picturing him, totally unrelated to me, just him, sorting though a collection of snatched, stolen glimpses of him naked, bent over, smiling, until one did the trick -- if I'd ever considered it, I'd have put money on his making it screwy and complicated and messy.

And strangely easy, the way driving a car was all those things and became brushing your teeth routine after a while. Because, really, with him lying on me like this, all I could do was bring him off with my hand and it didn't get much simpler than that.

It occurred to me in a rush of pleasure, like waking up when you've really, truly forgotten it's your birthday as a kid and then remembering, that I could take my time and look at him now, openly, for a long time, could touch him. God, anywhere I could reach, I could touch, and there was so much --

"Why are you smiling again?"

"I can touch your knees."


"I don't want to just now, but I could, right?"

He started to chuckle. "Yeah. Yeah, you could, Jim. Go for my knees. Knock yourself out."

I flicked his nose reprovingly. "I said I was saving them; weren't you listening?" He didn't stop making these cute, breathy giggles, and I sighed and folded the red shirt he was wearing back and pushed up the black T-shirt he was wearing underneath it, exposing his belly, those muscles, and a lot of dark, swirled-flat hair. The sounds cut off abruptly when I scored my nails over hair and skin, leaving faint red lines behind, fading before he'd got himself under control again.


I glanced away from his stomach and up at his face. "Mmm?"

He shook his head, looking nicely stunned. "Nothing."

If I'd pulled that little trick, he'd have been all over me trying to make me give it up and tell him what I'd been thinking. I couldn't see the point when I already knew.

His T-shirt wouldn't stay tucked up out of my way; when I'd pushed it back twice, I lost patience and lifted him up with the hand under his neck, just for long enough that I could shove the T-shirt high on his chest, a tight, concertinaed band level with his armpits.

"You could just take it off." He sounded hesitant, which was new.

I looked at the big picture, sweeping my gaze over him, head to possibly out of reach sock-covered toes. The contrast between rumpled clothing and bare skin was hot, exciting; I didn't want to lose that, not yet. I rubbed my thumb against the side of his neck, considering what to do next, and got a shiver as the nipple on that side hardened.

"Where's your ring?" I licked the pad of my thumb and pressed it against the tight, furled bump, surrounded by a circle of soft, slightly uneven skin. The other nipple, pierced and empty, shrank in sympathy, then pushed up, looking for attention. I wet two fingers and stroked across it, waiting for him to answer.

"I took it out a month or so ago. It got -- someone pulled on it too hard and --" He winced in memory, his hand lifting slightly from where it lay on the couch and then falling back. "I'll put it back in soon, I guess. It doesn't hurt now."

I wanted to put my mouth on it and feel the ragged scar and the hole against my tongue. I wanted to get to know every inch of him in dizzying detail, saturating every sense with what his body would give me. I settled for making him smile by kissing my finger with a loud smooch and dotting it against the healed skin, trying to remember if I'd smelled blood on him recently and coming up with nothing until I realized it had to have been the day I sneezed myself into a headache because he reeked of antiseptic. He'd told me he'd got a splinter. Right.

Even with my senses at normal, this all felt good, really good. I wasn't letting myself think about the fallout waiting because it felt right, too, as if this had been building, waiting for its moment, as impossible to prevent as a sunrise. If I needed it, now or later, Sandburg would probably be able to come up with a reason why we'd been circling each other for what felt like forever, and another for why we'd stopped at the same time and walked across those lines of his. If he thought I was freaking out about it, he'd soothe me with science, calm me with a dozen stories of Sentinels who'd got so fucking obsessed with the guy watching their back that they couldn't stop watching --

I made him suck his stomach in with a sharp, shocked breath by running a single finger along the strip of skin just above his jeans; on the return trip, with the extra space, I could dip inside them a little, brushing hair and skin and --

"Oh, man! Oh, you've got to --" His hips lifted imploringly, trying to get my fingertip to do more than nudge the head of his cock, trapped in position as it had hardened and angled to the side where it lay against his stomach. Even through the thin cotton of his shorts, even with a contact that had lasted for a fraction of a second, if I'd been dialed high, I could have touched that finger to my lips and ridden out a double punch to the gut courtesy of the raw, fresh reek of sex and sweat. I'd come once from walking into the bathroom ten minutes after he'd jerked off in there, unprepared because he'd done it while I was out picking up groceries. I'd been blind-sided, knees buckling, riding a shockwave of something that wasn't lust as much as panic that he could do this to me without even being in the fucking room.

Now I had to suck at my finger, tongue wrapping around it, to get even a hint of that remembered taste and smell.

He watched me try, some sympathy in his eyes, and then started to unfasten the button on his jeans. I stopped him, my hand smacking down against his wrist. "No. I just want you to lie still."

"What about what I want?" It didn't sound like a protest, somehow.

"You said I could do what the hell I wanted."

"Yeah. So what do you want?"

I smiled nicely at him as I took his hands and placed them beside him, palms flat, moving them maybe an inch or two from where they'd been, no more, just making a point. "That." I tapped his mouth, liking the way his lips pushed up against my fingers. "And if I don't get to use my senses, I need you to stop holding out on me. Help me out here, Sandburg. Moan. Whimper. Tell me I need to go harder, slower, whatever. This is no time to clam up on me."

"Okay…" He was watching me again. "Are you down with kissing?"

"I can't reach you."

"I could sit up," he suggested.

I poked him in the chest. "You're staying right there, Chief."

"You're really getting off on ordering me around, aren't you?"

I thought about it. "I don't think so." I put my hand over his heart and couldn't find it at first which scared the hell out of me. "I just -- work with me here, will you? I'm enjoying it this way, with your rules--"

"Rules?" His eyes got bigger. "What rules?"

Damn. I went for attack as a good distraction from that little fuck-up of a misunderstanding.

"Sandburg, shut up and let me jerk you off, okay? Is that a problem? Is that too much to ask? Is that --?"

"Jim…" His hand came up, patted my face, and went right back where I'd put it. "I'd like that. Really."

I flicked the button on his jeans, tugged the zipper down, and froze. I hadn't meant to, I swear, but my fingers, curling inside the gape of his jeans, had stroked his cock and resented the hell out of the barrier of his shorts.

I could get round barriers and it was starting to be automatic, thanks to Sandburg's training. Thin, washed-thinner cotton was easy to erase, discount, whatever. Not as good as it would feel when I pulled his shorts down and put my hand on his dick but close.

I got away with that fleeting, off the scale zing of awareness, because he'd obviously decided he'd been quiet and restrained for long enough and the rising rasp of his zipper coming down had been followed by an appreciative murmur, deep in his throat, his eyes closing briefly. This time when his ass lifted in a nudging hint, I took it, increasing the bared skin available by a few crucial square inches. His lowered jeans and shorts kept his legs from spreading but it didn't matter; I could get to enough of him.

And he'd been right, which was typical and fucking annoying; it was better doing it like this. I palmed his dick, warm and slightly damp, hair crisp around it, balls a soft, heavy bunch of flesh, waiting to be cupped, and it was how it was supposed to feel. Senses on max, it would've been like looking at a painting flake by flake, brushstroke by -- yeah. No good. Curiosity would have me increasing my range slowly if he let me do this again with no restrictions, because I'd have liked to have felt the pulse of blood as his cock stiffened, trace the rough or smooth places on it where his fingers pressed when he jerked off, fit my own to them, but I wasn't complaining about this.

I dragged my hand up and back, a loose fist, no more, because I got a kick out of teasing him and always did. And I kept on doing it like that, fucking with him, light, sweet flicks and brushes when I knew damn well he wanted tight and hard and fast until he narrowed his eyes and clutched his obedient hands into fists against the couch and spat out, "One sense. You get one. And then you do it right."

I thought about it, rocking my wrist slowly in an age-old gesture. Take away Blair's dick and put me in a bar and I'd just insulted anyone male who was watching. "You don't need to do that, Chief."

"Hell I don't." He sounded indignant.

"You could just ask me," I reminded him.

Watching him get it, seeing the head slap, duh look wash over his face, made me smile.

"Jim," he said, voice tense and deliberate. "That's not enough, what you're doing, like you don't know it, you -- I want to come. I want you to make me come. I want you to get your fucking hand from under my fucking neck and wrap it around my cock and you'd better get that other hand off my cock and on my balls before I bite it off, okay? And then you can do it like you mean it and put some effort into it and I swear --uhn -- Yeah. Like that --"

I could just hear the slide of skin on skin as I worked him, just catch the rising scent of pre-come and damp heat. He was watching what I was doing, and I was splitting my attention between the mesmerizing way his cock was swallowed and spat out by my blurring hand and his expression, fiercely determined, nakedly hungry.

I don't know what I looked like. I don't know how I felt. I'd taken every physical response to him and buried it deep because I didn't want this to end. I could've come from his wriggling against my cock, from the first touch on my hand on his skin once that line of his had been crossed. He could have made me give it up by just telling me to, and that was with everything set to normal.

I paused and he made a sharp, incredulous, keening sound, followed by a lot of panting before he got to the point where he could form words. "Didn't want you to stop why did you stop don't stop --"

"I want -- you're too far away." He shook his head, eyes wild. "Come here --" I grabbed him, getting him sitting up with one smooth tug and then paused. Our faces were close enough that we could kiss.

Oh, what the hell.

I put my hand on his dick, because even a few seconds away from it and I was missing it, and kissed him, working my way from his throat to his mouth in four stages. It would've been five but he turned his head and latched onto me, messy and wet, teeth -- God, he was biting me, fucking himself in my hand, panting and moaning into my mouth.

"What is wrong with you, man?" he demanded in a savage whisper. "You're supposed to be involved in this --"

"I get any more involved and we'll be sitting in a wet spot."

"Are you even hard?" he asked, his hand dropping into my lap and groping.

"The only way I wouldn't be was if I was dead."

His hand found my erection and he looked appeased a little. Less like he wanted to find my gun and shoot me with it, anyway.

"So why do I feel like you're not --" He got it before he finished asking the question and growled. I didn't know Sandburg could growl. "Stop it."

"I'll come."

"No, you won't." He found a place on my collar bone I didn't know I had and ground the heel of his hand against it, drawing an anguished yelp. "There. See?"

Pain was a good way to take the edge off, yeah.

"Now stop being such a fucking jerk about this; you're too old to pout."

"I am not --" It was so unfair I was spluttering. "Look, you were right, okay? If I'd gone into this like a, well, like a Sentinel, this would've been over before it started and I'm enjoying making it last. I don't want to rush this." I breathed heavily, temper rising. "I'm having a nice time, you pushy, bad-tempered son of a bitch."

He was laughing before I'd finished. I smacked the top of his head lightly with the hand not still moving slowly on his dick. "You are such a fucking pain in the ass."

"You love it." Such certainty. How could he be that sure? I wasn't that confident about anything in my life.

"Yeah, keep thinking that, Chief."

And then we both ran out of words. People don't talk much when they're fucking and there's a damn good reason for that; it's distracting. We stared at each other, his tongue flicking across his lips nervously, eyes wide.

I turned him slowly, no resistance, until he was lying back against me as I sat, snug in my lap, his feet braced against the edge of the table, dick high and hard. His hair was tickling my cheek and I pushed it aside so I could get at his ear, sucking and nibbling on it like candy as my hand wrapped around him, one across his waist, holding him in place, the other dropping down.

He moaned when I rubbed a finger through the mess his dick was making and my dick went so rigid I yelped and had to wrench my mouth away before I bit down too hard to be fun.

He was straining, trying to split his legs wider and cursing when he couldn't. "Can I take these off?"

"Sure." I tightened my arm. "Just don't move away."

He made a scoffing sound and launched into a demonstration of how limber he was, kicking and thrashing until his jeans and shorts were around his ankles, ready to be toed off, along with his socks. Then he sighed, heartfelt and relieved, and spread for me, offering himself up for my hand, his legs hooked over my knees so I could push them wider if I wanted.

Like this, I could stroke a finger or two down over the furred, silky skin behind his balls, and I did, circling his hole, pressing against the indentation gently, no more than that, because he shook his head and grabbed at my arm. "God, don't. Unless you want me to come. That feels too good, you know?"

Yes, I knew.

He writhed against me. "These rules of yours --"

"Sandburg…" I was never going to hear the end of that.

"They say something about you not getting naked, do they?"


He turned his head, his face heated, and kissed me, a fast, wet swipe of his mouth. "I want to see you naked," he said with gritted-teeth distinctness. "Your jeans are rubbing my ass raw and I want to see you."

I let go of him, spreading my arms wide, a little ticked off that this was getting away from where I'd thought it was going until I thought about what it'd feel like if he got back on me when we were both bare. Jesus. Way to go with the bright ideas, Sandburg… "Fine." I got a look at his ass, as he stood, a little pink in places, no more, and offered a belated, "Sorry."

He turned to look at me expectantly, already shrugging out of his shirt and T-shirt. "Jim. Stop drooling, and get with the program, okay?"

"I'm not drooling, but appreciating you naked is part of the program, as far as I'm concerned."

He considered that and nodded. "True. Just it should go both ways."

"You've seen me naked before," I pointed out, shifting to the edge of the couch and starting to undress slowly. "Any time I've taken a shower and surprise, surprise, the person in there before me hasn't left a single dry towel."

"That was different." I tossed my shirt in the direction of the floor and he wiggled his eyebrows, grinning, hands on his hips. "And I won't need to do it anymore, will I?"

I paused, half out of my pants. "You did that on purpose?"



"Oh, I don't know, let me think about it…so I'd get you stalking past me, dripping wet and glaring, with a nice view of your ass when you went upstairs?"

If he'd expected me to bawl him out over that little confession, I disappointed him. More flattering than anything, and I could see the funny side of it. I got out of the rest of my clothes without commenting and stood up. There wasn't much room between the couch and the table and as I straightened his hand brushed my hip and then tightened, bringing me forward an inch or two, bringing me into his arms for a hug.

Most hugs are over in a moment, with less body contact than you'd think. He didn't do it like that. He moved into every space he could, one leg sliding between mine, skin on skin, all the way down, working us closer, one hand reaching between us matter-of-factly to ease our erections into a comfortable place, side by side. I was taller than him, but it still worked out okay. I felt his cock, hard and waiting, dig into my stomach and did some of that controlled breathing he was always telling me about.

"I could go to sleep like this," he murmured into my chest.

"No, you couldn't." I kissed what I could see of his face until he got the hint and tipped his head back. "You'd fall over as soon as you started snoring."

"I don't --" He cut off what was an old, old argument neither of us ever won, and ground against me. "Weren't we in the middle of something?"

"Yeah. I wanted to make you come."

"That's it?"

He sounded baffled, not teasing.

"It'll do for a start."

"I'm not going to until you do."

"It's not a fucking competition, Chief."

I got an exasperated sigh. "Well, of course it is."

"Well, it shouldn't be." I took one step back without letting go of him, my hands on his arms. "Blair, just let me --"

"Let you?" He shook his head, that ridiculous mop of hair exploding in every direction. "Jim, there have been times I'd have gone on my knees and begged you --"

"That sounds… really unnecessary."

I let go of him long enough to grab for the remote and kill the TV which was getting on my nerves, currently yammering on about bathroom cleaners. He was muttering 'unnecessary' to himself and I let my hearing drift up out of the green.

"Your heart is beating in time with mine," I told him. Maybe it would derail him and shut him up. As data went, it wasn't all that significant; it happened a lot. Once, I'd walked into Simon's office when he had two other detectives in there and by some freak, all four of us were pumping blood in sync. For a long twenty seconds, with Simon catching on fast and covering, it was all I could hear, thunderous, compelling; then Simon's agitation made his heartbeat speed up, breaking the perfect unison, freeing me.

I only had to sit next to Sandburg for a minute or two before our breathing slowed, steadied, and matched. I wasn't sure if that was normal, or not. I'd never told him.

He blinked. "That came out of nowhere." Then his face softened. "Is it? Really?" I nodded and his expression got indignant. "You're not supposed to know!"

"Chief, I can't help it." I rubbed my hand across my jaw. "The longer this goes on, the more trouble I'm having with keeping everything normal. I'm scared I'm going to end up zoning out on something stupid like --"

"Like?" he prompted, when I dried up.

"Like you," I said, when he kept waiting for an answer. "Like anything about you, Sandburg."

"Me?" He swallowed, his eyes closing. "Oh, man. Jim."

Blind, distracted… I sat down, which put my mouth at just the right level, and yanked him to me. His cock slid home and he stopped arguing. God, if I'd known that would work, I'd have been the one on my knees a long time ago.

I let the sounds he was making guide me, but mostly I just did what I wanted and it seemed to work. Blow jobs aren't complicated and I've always liked them, whichever end of one I was on; no mess, no need for a bed, and if you're good at it, fast enough to cut the risk of being caught down to acceptable.

I was good, but I wasn't rushing tonight. Blair's hands were kneading my shoulders hard enough to leave marks; I could feel my skin tear under his nails as they dug in -- oh, not enough to draw blood, but touch was another sense spiking right then and if the tip of a single hair of his had touched me it would've felt like a needle going in.

My mouth was where I was focusing, though; my shoulders could wait. My mouth… Touch, sure, as his cock, ridged and slippery, drove over my lapping, licking tongue, smell and taste, well, yeah, of course… but hearing was already up and the wet, luscious sound of him fucking my mouth was what made me come.

I'd come, all senses quivering, before, just out of curiosity. I passed out. It wasn't fun and it was even a little scary. This time, I had Blair, and he did what he always did; gave me something beyond the rush and flood of sensation to think about, because I wasn't alone in this and I couldn't forget him without risking hurting him.

As soon as he realized why I'd paused mid-lick, swallow, slurp, he pulled out, which was probably a good idea; I was losing it. He pushed me back on the couch and fell on top of me, using the come smeared all over my stomach -- that stuff gets everywhere and there's always more of it to clean up than came out, I swear -- to make rubbing off on me easier. It didn't take him long but it felt fucking perfect, part of me getting off on being used like that, being what he needed in the way of a hollow of bone and a few inches of smooth skin.

I discovered that he came without making much sound; just some plaintive, pained grunts, kept deep in his throat, that might have been my name if he'd let them escape, followed by a long sigh and a nuzzle into my shoulder. He was shaking, hands clutching at me, and for the first time in my life I got to take my time getting back to normal.

People talk too soon after sex; get self-conscious too fast, try to kick sand over the evidence that they just got naked, vulnerable, and pretty much made a fool of themselves. Heat of the moment cools quickly.

Blair didn't talk. It was like he didn't even register that technically we'd stopped having sex. He wasn't pushy, and I know he had to be feeling as wiped out as me, but he didn't pull back at all. Eventually, he eased off me a little, with a slick squelch, come plastered to his chest and belly, but he still didn't say anything and he kept giving me these little touches with his hand and his mouth, reassuring pets, although I think it went both ways.

After a while, I realized I was doing it to him, too, and had been all along.

Reaching out for the nearest shirt to clean him felt like an extension of the touching but he took it as a signal and smiled at me, sitting up and moving over a bit. I continued cleaning him and then dealt with myself.

He frowned at me, his eyes on the shirt, and I glanced down. "What?"

"Jim… I told you; I like that shirt."

"It'll wash, Chief." I dropped it onto the floor, tracking it as it fell and catching sight of the label. XL. "Sandburg, that's my shirt!" It was one of two we had that were close enough in color to get mixed up.

He smiled tolerantly. "That's why I like it."

Sweet. Romantic. I didn't buy it for a second. "It's all messy."

"You said it would wash."

"That was when I thought it was your shirt."

He eyed me as if he was trying to come up with the perfect comeback and then dived for the remote, grabbing it with a crow of triumph and pointing it at the TV with one hand while he started to sort through the heap of clothes on the floor with the other.

"Mission accomplished?" I asked acidly.

He grinned at me, hauling his shorts on one-handed. "Oh, yeah."


He tossed the remote away and hugged me, biting a line of kisses along my jaw. "You know I didn't mean --"


"Because for a minute there --"

"I knew exactly what you meant."

"Like I'd go to those lengths to get the remote."

"As if."

I reached out behind his back and couldn't quite get to it.


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