Disclaimer: The TV show THE SENTENEL and all characters therein are the property of Pet Fly and UPN; according to counsels opinion, fanfic qualifies as fair use so long as it is not written or distributed for money.
Pairing: J/B; somewhere between PG-13 and R
Summary: Jim gets romantic; Blair freaks a little
Sequel to "The Shummanite"
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Archive if you wish; just tell me.
As he pulled into the parking deck of Police Headquarters, Detective James Joseph Ellison, Major Crimes Unit, Cascade (Washington) Police, glanced at his reflection in his truck's rear-view mirror; he noticed that he was wearing a wide grin; he had been wearing that particular expression a lot recently, and he had enough self-knowledge to know that this was unusual for him. He half expected one of his colleagues to say, "Who are you and what have you done with Detective Ellison?"
There was a reason for the normally morose detective's good mood; he was in love--and with a most unlikely person. Indeed, if a month or so ago anyone had predicted this development, he would have distracted the person, tied him up, and called Mental Health. The grin and an expression suggestive of having been hit on the back of the head with a board were now his default expression.
If any of his co-workers knew of this development, they would have been surprised; some may have suspected that there was some new person in his life--but he was willing to lay odds that nobody had guessed who that new person was. The person in question was so totally different from his previous paramours that nobody could possibly guess.
In spite of his ruggedly handsome face and a body that could be favorably compared to Michelangelo's David, Detective Ellison's romantic history was not an active or varied one. As a young man from a family fairly high up on the Cascade Social Register, he had been pursued for reasons of social prestige; as a handsome, athletic young man, he had been pursued for his looks. Few young women had been interested in him for himself, and for the sensitive youth he had been this intensely painful. All his life he had shown an uncanny talent for attracting the wrong kind of woman, up to an including his former wife. The redheaded harridan who had been Mrs. Ellison had, before walking out on him, given him a long list of adjectives to describe his bedroom skills; the least uncomplimentary word was unimaginative, and it went downhill from there. It had been a long time before he had even wanted to become involved in a romantic relationship. In contrast, his current flame reveled in his erotic skills.
"Hey, Ellison!" said a voice behind him, "Where's 'Tigger'?"
"That," replied his interlocutor, a youngish man in a dark wool topcoat, "is my new name for Sandburg. I was watching my neighbor's kid and they put 'Winnie the Pu' on the box; Tigger reminded me of him."
"'Their heads are made out of rubber,'" he quoted,"' their bottoms are made out of springs.'"
"Yes, that's Sandburg all right! He's at the University today. I'll tell him you asked about him."
The two men entered the elevator and shot to their floor.
Some people were of the opinion that Cascade, Washington, was the "crime capital of the Pacific Northwest." This was an exaggeration; Cascade's crime rate was not unduly high for a city of that size. Indeed, for "normal" crimes--burglary, muggings, car theft, etc.--it was rather low. However, somehow Cascade seemed to attract more than its share of mad bombers, terrorists, organized crime turf wars, and similar unpleasantnesses. The School of Criminal Justice at Washington State University had studied the phenomenon extensively, but had not come up with a reason why this was so. Be that as it may, it was a quiet day in the Major Crimes Unit--at least so far. Most of the detectives were using the opportunity to catch up on paperwork and analyze evidence in between the exchange of jokes and gossip.
"Guess what I heard in the ladies," said an Australian-accented voice.
"Running water?" hazarded Jim.
"Dont be silly," replied Megan Connor, the Irish-Australian detective responded, "No, I heard two ladies discussing the Men of Major Crimes. They called you Iceman, but were of the opinion that someone was thawing you. Come, luv, tell us who it is."
"A gentleman never asks, a gentleman never tells."
"They mentioned Rafe, too," she said.
"What were they saying about me?"
"Well, one said you were good-looking."
"What did the other one say?"
"That she made it a point never to date a man who was prettier than she was. She wondered how much time you spent in front of the mirror each morning and if you had put your IRA in Armani and Doir stocks or something."
As Detective Rafe was something of a cloths-horse and had a face fit to grace the cover of GQ, this statement was received with laughter all around. Rafe turned pale, then blushed, and hurriedly left the bullpen. Jims sensitive ears heard him stomping down the hall towards the mens room swearing in a language that was not quite German.
"Megan," said Henry, "That wasnt very nice."
"I have to keep him humble. Tell me, guys, does the mens room mirror have lip marks on it?"
The end of the day; no stakeout or other night duty. The Sentinel of the Great City was going home. He showered and shaved at the station and changed into the clothing hed brought that morning: brown woolen trousers, a tweed jacket, a blue silk knit turtle neck, and brown tasseled loafers. On his way out of the building he encountered Megan.
"Woo-hoo! Hot date tonight, Jimbo?"
"Well, looking like that, youll get some action. Come on, whos the lucky woman."
"As I said, Connor, I dont kiss and tell."
Jim did not want to lie to Megan, but he didnt dare tell her the truth. Two weeks earlier he and Blair had made a mutual discoveryeach had harbored a strong sexual attraction for one another, and each had thought the other was uninterested. They had been experimenting ever since. Jim had never been with a man before, and had limited experience with women; Blair, on the other hand, was even less experiencedalthough almost thirty, he had never been with a man or a woman.
Jim had been flabbergasted; he could not understand how an attractive young man like Blair could have managed to reach his age. . .untouched. Blairs explanation was perfectly logical: he had skipped high school, taking his GED at fourteen and starting college at fifteen and a half. The college girls wouldnt give him the time of day; at best they got all sisterly. When he got a bit older, he decided that his first had to be specialand though he had dated (it seemed) fully half the eligible women in Cascadewith a few from Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver for good measurenone had, apparently, been special enough. It had taken all of Jims self-control not to cry when he realized that Blair considered him so special.
Considering that both were fairly ignorantneither having anything to go on except instinct and locker room jokesthey had not done too badly. Jim had sensed that Blair was very nervous; he could discuss with perfect equanimity the courting and mating rituals of a hundred cultures, but there is a difference between knowing and doing. Jim had been therefore as gentle as possible. He had always thought that between two men sex could be a little rougher, more unrestrained, more aggressive, than between a man and a woman; in Blairs case, however, Jim had to exercise all the tact and patience he could muster. They had progressed from kissing and cuddling, to petting above the waist through clothing, to petting above the waist on skin, to mutual masturbation. Jim was hoping that this would be the night to go fartheralthough Jim was not entirely sure what to do next. Cascade was a relatively liberal city, and Jim personally knew two openly gay men on the force; nevertheless, he did not know either very well, and certainly not well enough to ask for pointers. Just thinking about asking the questions made Jim blush.
Blair had prepared a special meal that nighta rich, hearty tomato-y, garlic-y beef stew, a salad with a pungent dressing, crusty bread from the best bakery in Cascade, and a Cassata Siciliana from the Italian pastry shop down the block. He was careful to make the spices pungent enough to stimulate him, but not so strong that Jim would react badly. Hed chosen the wines alsodry Sherry as an aperitif, a California Zinfandel with the meal, and a very expensive Cognac for after dinner. This was a bit more alcohol than they normally had, but Blair really felt he needed to relax.
Hed taken as great care with his outfit, consulting Rafe about what to wear for a hot date. Rafes first idea was a white raw silk suit, a dark blue shirt, and a black tie; Blair had dismissed this idea as nice for you, Rafe, but so not me! Rafe had reconsidered and suggested black toreador pants, a dark blue silk poets shirt, and black boots with Cuban heels. Blair had balked at the boots at first, but Rafe said, Blair, Ive seen the Amazons you date; you need heels. (Blair had great difficulty stifling a laugh hed never have been able to explain.) Rafe had confided to Blair that when he retired from the force he planned to open a haberdashery, and was taking correspondence courses in fashion design and merchandising; Blair was sure it would be a roaring success.
Blair had the stew simmering, the bread crusting in the oven, the wines breathing. After a quick shower and shave he put on the outfit, topping it with a heavy silver Celtic brooch at the throat; the carvings showed stylized wolves, and there was a blue stone in the center. He dimmed the lights, put some soft music on the stereo, lit candles, and composed himself to wait.
Several blocks away Jims Sentinel nose picked up a glorious smell. He wasnt sure what Blair was cooking, but whatever it was it made his mouth water. Knowing that Blair was cooking something special, he had deliberately eaten a small, early lunch, and whatever it was almost made him zone. Indeed, by the time he had reached their building and gotten off the elevator on the third floor he was in a small one.
Forcing himself back to normal, Jim came down the hall, deliberately making more noise than he normally would; Blair probably had an idea for a scene for his entrance, and Jim decided to indulge him.
Jim opened the door. The loft was dim, illuminated only by candles. The stereo was playing---opera? Blair never listened to opera. A clear tenor voice rose triumphantly over the orchestra; after his final ringing note the orchestra took up the theme, broadening it and raising the listener almost to heaven. Jim vaguely remembered this aria from a music history class hed taken in college; he couldnt quite remember the composers name.. . . .it began with a P.?
Jim shook his head. This was no time to think of music, not with the vision before him.
Blair stood directly before the door; his blue shirt glowed in the candlelight. At his throat the blue stone gleamed like a third eye. His hair flowed to his shoulders; the candlelight picked up the red highlights that were his heritage from his mother.
"Blair!" gasped Jim.
"Do you like it?"
"You look like. . . you look like. . . .There are fairy tales of a knight meeting an elf princess who takes him under the hill for what seems to be a night of love, but when he comes back thirty years have past. Even as a child Id wondered how the knight would be so silly as to go with a stranger he met in the woods. Now I understand. If I met you in a dark forest by moonlight Id follow you, even if I knew full well what would happen. You look so beautiful, and like something not quite of this world. Im not sure if this is real or a dream. Blair, my elf-prince."
"You are the handsomest man in Cascade. You are so large, and warm, and strong, and dependable. When Im with you I feel safe. I feel as though nothing really, really bad can happen as long as I am with you. You are like an island in a stormy sea, like a standing rock in the desert. When I look at you I feel as though I have been wandering through a snowy forest, my hands and feet like blocks of ice, and I come into a clearing with a cabin. A solid log cabin. With smoke coming up the chimney and light shining through the chinks in the door, and I know that there is hot soup on the fire, a soft rug on the floor, and a big, comfortable easy chair, so big that my feet cant touch the floor, with deep cushions and an afghan, and that if I can just make it a few yards farther I can wrap myself in the afghan, sit in the chair, and eat some of that soup. Thats what you are to me. A shelter from darkness and winter. A bowl of hot soup on a cold day. A soft easy chair when one is weary."
"Blair, Im almost afraid that if I touch you youll disappear back into whatever strange world you came from. Will you stay?"
"Jim, Im so cold. Give me your warmth."
Nothing more was said for some time.
"Jim, get up. The floor is hard, and youre heavy." *Good lord, hes zoned.* "Jim, Jim, come back to us. Jim. Jim. Jim, that isnt a comfortable way for my leg to bend..
Jim, get up. Jim, youre squashing me here. Jim, Jim. . ."
"You zoned. Now get up and lets get something to eat."
"No; three, five minutes. We were hugging and then. . .whump. Me flat on my back with you on top of me."
"Did I hurt you?"
"Knocked the wind out of me, thats all. Im fine. Go, sit."
Blair poured Jim some sherry and gave him a plate of Moravian cheese biscuits.
"Tell me about your day."
The rest of the meal passed almost normally. The food was good, even for Blairs cooking, and they exchanged stories about the days happenings.
Then Jim noticed something wrong. Blair was tense, nervous, and he was drinking more wine than he usually did. He wasnt enough off for anyone else to notice, but one cant deceive a Sentinel that easily. He began concentrating, trying to figure out what was wrong. After the dessert, when Blair poured himself a LARGE brandy and gulped rather than sipped, Jim had enough.
"Blair, whats wrong?"
Jim did not like the sound of that nothing; that nothing was something. Blair was definitely upset about something. Jim repressed his initial urge to scold and to shake some sense into Blair. Instead, he came over to his side of the table and took him by the elbow.
"Leave the dishes; somethings bothering you. Youre the one who always says that talking about it helps. Come, lets go over to the couch. Ill light the fire."
Once they were settled on the couch, Jim put an arm around Blair and drew him close.
"Jim, I love you."
"I love you too, Chief."
"And I do want to be with you."
"I do too."
"But. . . "
"Well. . . .well. . .you know that Ive not done this before."
"Nor have I."
"I dont know what to do. I wanted to find out. I have some gay friends, and I thought about asking them, but I . . .couldnt."
"Well, of course not; one doesnt ask about such things."
"I thought about pretending I was doing a study, but that would be wrong. Unethical. I couldnt do that any more than you could take a bribe or. . .well, you see what I mean."
"Yes. Go on."
"I did some research."
Blair got up and went into his room. He came out with a book and some magazines, which he handed to Jim.
"I got the book from the Library. I went to a little shop on Esther Street for the magazines."
Jim looked at the book. THE GAY MANS ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO TOTAL SEXUAL FULFILLMENT, read the cover. He flipped through it. Illustrated was right.
"This one," said Blair, "Looks real uncomfortable."
"I think they misprinted it; the picture is upside down."
He turned the book around.
"Or perhaps not."
"The magazines Jim. I looked at some of the pictures, read some of the stories and. . . ."
Jim looked at the magazines.
"Let me get thispardon the punstraight. You looked at some pictures and freaked."
"Yes. A little. Well, a lot. I have a full-blown panic attack this afternoon. But I love you, Jim; I want to be your loverif that includes doing. . . .some of those things I will, but. . ."
"Blair, didnt I say wed take it slow?"
"Chief, this isnt a class; theres no exam and you arent being graded. Now, these magazines. Youve seen straight porn, and you know that it often bears only a passing resemblance to heterosexual lovemaking, right?"
"Ive been toldbut how would I know?"
"Blair, do you trust me?"
"With my life, Jim."
"Then trust me in this. Pornography and lovemaking often have little to do with one another. I know that this is true for straight porn, and Im fairly sure the same holds for gay porn. Give me the magazines."
Jim threw the magazines on the fire.
"Now, as for the book. Well, think of it like a cookbooka big one like FANNY FARMER or JOY OF COOKING. Do you want to try every dish in the book?"
"No, of course not. Kidneyseeuch!"
"There you are. We dont have to do everything in the book, but we can use it to get ideas. I admit that I was a little nervous about what to do, and this may help. But. . ."
"No more independent study; were a couple. Now, lets look at that book."
There followed a period of "that looks like fun" and "that looks hard on the back" and "Id rather not try this" and "hummm" with an occasional, "NO WAY!" interspersed with kissing and giggles. A hand grasped the remote and started the CD player; once more the tenor voice recalled a night in a faraway city. Then came the sound of a pair of loafers taking long strides, and a pair of Cuban heels taking short ones across a hardwood floor and up a short flight of stairs. More kissing and laughing. The sound of silk over skin the creak of a bedspring. The tenors voice rose, with the orchestra under it, proclaiming: "Vincero! Vincero! Vincero!"
"Well, Tigger, howd the hot date go?"
"Oh, great. Thanks for your help with the outfit."
"She liked it?"
"It went over great. Id never have been comfortable in the suit."
"Do you even own a suit?"
"Howd the date go?"
"Did you get lucky?"
"You Yanks! Such prudes!"
"I dont kiss and tell."