Fic: Womb For Rent

By Kerensa

Rating: FRM

Pairing: Jim/Blair

Warnings: Mpreg, talk of child abuse and rape; it mentions a lot of the episodes

Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters and am not making any money from this.

 

A/N: Thanks to Joanne for her buying my story during the Moonridge Auction, and for having so much patience for me to finish it.

 

A/N2: Thanks to my mom for suggesting the song quote.

 

A/N3: Thanks to Hawk for all her help. She shared some of her pregnancy stories with me. Anything with a * at the end of it came from Hawk. Anything with a ^ at the end of it can be attributed to my mom. If there is an = that means the help or idea came from my daughter, Caitlin.

 

A/N4: The phone number I list for the loft is the one they use on the show. I zoomed in with my DVD player to make sure.

 

Trailer for sale or rent

Rooms to let...fifty cents

 

King of the Road

By Roger Miller

 

Chapter 1

 

Jim ran his questing hand up Blair’s thigh. The cool, silky material of the younger man’s pants slid enticingly under his hand. Blair appreciatively moaned into his mouth, both over the touch of his lover’s hand and the sensuous feel of the slick material next to his skin.

 

“Chief,” Jim moaned.

 

Blair gave a little snort and Jim broke away from the kiss to see what was so amusing. Normally, laughter would not be a good thing while making love, but with Blair there was always a good explanation. The younger man looked up from where he lay on the couch, where his chest, not to mention the rest of his body, was flush against Jim’s chest, and shook his head ruefully.

 

“Man, you can’t even say my name when we’re making out.”

 

Ellison rolled his eyes at his lover and propped himself up on one elbow. He gazed down at his beloved and was entranced by what he saw. Blair’s lips were kiss swollen and reddened from the passion of their lovemaking. The anthropologist’s curly brown hair was spread, in a wild disarray, on the arm of the couch, messed up from Jim running his fingers through it, over and over again. The detective winced, realizing that Blair was going to have a devil of a time combing through it later.

 

‘I’ll be forced to help him,’ Ellison thought with an internal grin. On the outside though, Jim managed to keep his smile soft and loving.

 

“So, I don’t say your name enough, hmmmm.” Jim ran one finger down the center of Blair’s chest, just over the line where one side of the shirt was buttoned to the other. Blair closed his eyes for a moment at the sensation. Sentinel senses weren’t the only ones to appreciate the black silk pajamas that Jim had given Blair for his birthday the previous week.

 

“Nope,” Blair said as he wriggled his butt into a more comfortable position on the couch. Jim’s breath caught in his throat and he let his hips twitch against Blair’s in response. Blair’s gasp indicated that the silk felt even better against his erection.

 

Jim shifted over a little so that his whole body weight wasn’t directly on Blair. He was a great deal bigger than the younger man and didn’t want to crush him. Ellison reached one hand between their bodies and gave the swollen flesh between Blair’s legs a good squeeze. Blair groaned and his chest arched up against Jim. To be fair, that was the only part of his trapped body that could move at the moment.

 

Light from the ceiling fixture glinted off of the shiny buttons on Blair’s shirt and Jim’s attention was captured by them. They were so round and black and the light swirled around them in a…

 

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Blair was squirming happily under Jim, appreciating the heavier body blanketing him, and the hand on his groin even more, when he realized that his lover wasn’t moving any more. He opened his eyes and saw that Jim was staring blankly at something on Blair’s chest.

 

‘Damn, he’s zoned out,’ Blair thought. He quickly wormed his hand out from under his hip. Jim was kinky. Who would have ever guessed that? Certainly not Blair all those years ago, but it was true. The Sentinel liked to be in complete control sometimes—not really a big surprise—and had Blair tuck his hands underneath him. Sandburg figured that light bondage might be next.

 

“Jim. Jim, come on back to me. Hey, Big Guy, I know you’re in there.” Blair ran his slightly numb fingers over the other man’s face as he talked, hoping that the physical as well as verbal stimulation would bring Ellison back without too much trouble. “Come on, Big Guy.”

 

The Sentinel gave a slight shudder and blinked his way back to reality. One look at Blair’s concerned face and he realized what had happened. The Sentinel gave Blair a rueful glance.

 

“I’m not the only one who doesn’t use somebody’s name,” he said, trying to divert his lover’s attention.

 

Blair relaxed now that Jim was back and arched a dark eyebrow at the bigger man. “What?” Now his hand was all pins and needles. Blair began to shake the sleepy appendage. Jim took the solid appendage into his even stronger one and began to massage it. Blair wanted to purr at the attention.

 

“You call me Big Guy all the time,” Ellison explained, arching his considerably tamer, and more patrician looking eyebrow, at his folliclly endowed mate.

 

“Yes, but I call you Jim most of the time. You only call me Blair when one of us is about to die.” Blair smiled in appreciation as Jim released his other arm, the one wedged against the back of the couch, and began to massage it too. “That makes a big difference, you know.”

 

“Hmmm,” Jim hummed as he worked.

 

“What did you zone on, man?” Blair watched in fascinated amazement as his big bad, ex-military, I can kill you with a toothpick, lover actually blushed and ducked his head. “Come on…fess up.”

 

“Fess?” Jim laughed.

 

Blair smacked his lover on the arm. “Yes, fess. I told you that I lived in Texas with my cousins for a while. Fess is a perfectly good southern word.” He drawled out the word southern in his best Texas drawl and saw Jim’s eyes dilate slightly. Blair wrapped one leg over Jim’s hip and squeezed slightly, earning an appreciative growl.

 

“So, darlin’,” Blair continued in his honey sweet accent, “don’t change the subject.”

 

Ellison tucked his head into the crook of Blair’s neck and muttered something indistinguishable. Blair shuddered at the sensation. “Wh-what was that?” The teasing accent disappeared with his renewed arousal.

 

Jim raised his head and sighed, giving in to the inevitable curiosity. “The buttons on your shirt.”

 

Blair blinked in surprise and glanced down at said fasteners. “Oh, I never thought about that.”

 

“Yeah.” Jim frowned in exasperation; he so hated to show any sign of weakness and the ex-Ranger perceived these zone outs as a definite weakness. “The light shone off of them and that was that.”

 

To cheer his lover up, and not lose the wonderful foreplay they had going, Blair leaned up and licked Ellison’s bottom lip. Seeing how that caught his lover’s attention, Blair licked a line all the way around the other man’s mouth and then sealed the line with his own lips. Jim quickly forgot his chagrin and leaned lower, making it easier for Blair to reach him. They kissed passionately for several minutes.

 

“I know how to eliminate that problem,” Blair said as he licked his lips. Jim watched Blair’s tongue as it circled his own mouth and grinned.

 

“And how’s that?”

 

The observer reached up and began to slowly unbutton his shirt. He slid the button through its small opening and bared a little bit of his chest when he was through. Jim was fascinated by what Blair was doing. The anthropologist knew he didn’t need to seduce his lover, evidence of both their interest were pressing against one another, but a little fun never hurt anybody.

 

He reached for the next button and Jim’s hand stopped him. “I have an even better idea,” the detective said huskily. “Let’s take this upstairs.”

 

Blair grinned, his eyes sparkling. The couch was great for making out, but not so easy on the back when it came to the actual lovemaking process, as Blair knew to his vexation. There were many times he had hobbled around like an old man after they had had sex on the couch; and hadn’t the teasing from that been fun when he’d gone back to the station the next day.

 

By the time they landed on the upstairs bed, both men were out of breath from laughing. Blair had been walking ahead of Jim when the Sentinel had stopped him, mid-way on the stairs, and bit him on the butt. Blair was certain that his squeal of surprise had startled the neighbors. Ellison had just laughed at his mate’s astonished squawk and chased Blair the rest of the way, threatening to bite the other cheek as they ran.

 

“I can’t believe you bit me, actually bit me.” Blair shook his head.

 

Ellison grinned unrepentantly. “What can I say? It was right there—so soft and round—just tempting me, so I grabbed hold.”

 

Blair laughed and Jim rubbed the abused cheek. Again, the Guide was lying on his back underneath Ellison. It wasn’t that Jim was making Blair the wife in the relationship; it was the need for the Sentinel to sometimes be in complete control. Blair understood that, most of the time. Other times, it was the Guide who took control, letting Jim relax after a really tough case.

 

“Now, where were we?”

 

Blair reached up and began to slide another shiny button through the silk shirt. Jim watched in fascination. The Guide, being a very intelligent man who learns from previous error, wrapped his leg around his lover’s hips and rubbed his foot against Jim to keep him grounded.

 

The maneuver worked and Jim was still with him when Blair finished unbuttoning his shirt. The older man slowly pulled apart the silk to bare the silk of Blair’s chest hair. With a moan, Jim took hold of Blair’s chest, one hand on either side of his ribs, and leaned over, capturing one tempting nipple in his mouth.

 

Blair gasped and tried to arch up as Jim began to suck relentlessly on the small nub. However, Jim’s hands kept his torso steady and the Sentinel’s body, lying draped across his, effectively trapped his legs. He could move his arms now though and Blair clutched at the back of Ellison’s head with both hands.

 

Jim could sense when the hard nipple was being stimulated a little too much and let go of it with a final lick. He kissed his way across Blair’s chest and latched on to the matching nub on the other side. Hearing Blair cry out like that made Jim even more desperate to lay claim to the rest of his mate’s body…and so he did.

 

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Later, after they were lying in bed, sated from their love making, was the first time the subject came up.

 

“Does it bother you that we won’t be able to have children?”

 

Blair, who had been almost asleep, opened his eyes and blinked at Jim in astonishment. They were lying in bed, facing each other, and he could barely see the older man in the pale moonlight coming through the skylight.

 

“I’m…not sure.” Blair shifted closer and winced at the achy feeling in his butt. Jim had been particularly aggressive tonight when they’d made love; Blair guessed the extra seduction had done the trick. “What about you?”

 

Jim rubbed a hand on Blair’s chest soothingly. Blair knew that his heart rate must have shot up with his answer.

 

“Yeah, sometimes.”

 

Blair knew his worried frown could be seen by the super-sighted Sentinel. He therefore wasn’t surprised when his mate rubbed a finger over his brow, erasing the frown living there.

 

“But having you is worth anything we might have missed.” Jim kissed him on the temple, sorry that he’d brought the upsetting subject up now.

 

“Yeah…but still.”

 

“Yes…still.”

 

“We could always adopt kids,” Blair suggested. “Same sex marriages are legal now, so it would be harder for the adoption agencies to discriminate against us.”

 

Yes, eight months and one week ago exactly, it became legal all over the United States for couples of the same sex to get married. They joined Canada and a few other forward thinking countries around the world. Mexico and the United Kingdom followed suit shortly afterwards.

 

One week after the new law went into effect, Blair and Jim had gotten married, in a lovely outdoor ceremony in the park. The law had been new enough that the media had tried to make it into a circus, but their friends in the police department had managed to keep the wolves away.

 

Jim’s dad had conveniently been out of town that week and therefore unable to make the wedding of his eldest son and his gay lover. Steven, Jim’s younger brother, had been there with subdued congratulations. Naomi had been unreachable at a retreat that she sometimes went to.

 

Naomi hadn’t reacted well to Blair being with Jim at all, so the younger man hadn’t really been surprised. It wasn’t that they were gay that Naomi was upset about, it was that Jim was a cop.

 

Their friends at Major Crimes had taken their coming out of the closet in stride and their marriage was celebrated without any qualms. The absence of William and Naomi had been painful, but not that bad as the two parents had never really been a part of Jim and Blair’s life anyway.

 

“Or there’s always surrogacy.” Blair came up another solution, like a priest making an offering.

 

“Hmmm, that’s true.” Jim didn’t sound very sanguineous about that idea, so Blair let it drop. “We’ll see,” Jim said drowsily. “Besides, I like it just being the two of us right now.”

 

Blair closed his eyes and laid his head back down, on Jim’s chest this time. Sleep took a little while longer to achieve as little boys and girls, with varying shades of blue eyes, danced past his drowsy mind.

 

Chapter 2

 

Blair took his glasses off and rubbed his tired eyes wearily. His head still ached fiercely from the concussion he’d received from being beaten up by Maya Carasco’s father’s goon. Working semi-undercover for Jim hadn’t been as interesting as they made it out on TV, especially when the young woman started putting the moves on him.

 

The anthropologist had tried explaining to Maya, patiently and at length, that he was married…to a man, but the young Chilean woman was determined for Blair to be her first. As flattering as that sounded, Blair wouldn’t have taken her virginity under false pretenses, even if he hadn’t been happily married.

 

Then, to top it all off, that FBI agent, Agent Drennan, had made a play for Jim. Although, to her credit, she did back off when Jim informed her that he and Blair were married.

 

Maya’s little scene in the spare bedroom hadn’t helped matters any. Blair had been resting there instead of upstairs, so that Jim could watch over him. It was either that or stay in the hospital overnight and Blair hadn’t wanted to do that.

 

Jim had been very put out when Maya blamed Blair for her father’s arrest, pointing out to the upset observer that he hadn’t made the man a criminal. After Blair had calmed down, and wasn’t so out of it with a head injury, he had agreed.

 

Blair was debating on whether or not to blow off the rest of his office hours in favor of going home and lying down, when there was a soft knock at his office door. Inwardly, he groaned, but on the outside, he pasted on a smile.

 

“Come in.” The greeting came out as more of a weak croak and Blair was surprised when he was actually heard.

 

“Blair?” Melissa Grayson, another grad student and friend of Blair's stuck her head in the room. She frowned at Blair’s appearance. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, Melissa.” Blair gave her a tired smile and waved her in. “Just a headache,” he admitted.

 

“You should go home,” was the fellow anthropologist’s advice. The young woman stepped into Blair's office, a sheaf of papers in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. Blair's stomach rolled as the smell of her drink wafted over him.

 

“I was just thinking the same thing.” Blair leaned his head against his open palm and sighed.

 

She gave him a long look. “I’ll come back on Monday,” she stated and started to turn around to leave.

 

“No, that’s okay.” At Blair’s insistence, she came back over and sat down. Amazingly there was an available chair, not something that happened on a regular basis in the overly crowded office. “What’s up?”

 

Melissa was still contemplating Blair’s pale face. She shook her head and smiled. Long, slender braids, ones that reached well past her slim shoulders, swished at the movement. The small gold beads on the tips of each braid clinked together faintly.

 

“I wanted to bring you your teaching schedule for this summer.” The young woman smiled and handed over the papers.

 

“Thanks,” Blair said as he took the thin sheaf of paperwork. “This saves me a trip down to the main office.”

 

“No problem,” she waved a delicate brown hand negligently. “I was in the secretary’s office anyway and grabbed yours when I was getting mine.”

 

Blair gave the paper a quick going over; his head wouldn’t let him do much more right at the moment. He groaned at what he saw.

 

“What is it?” The other grad student asked.

 

“I’ve got three Antro 101 courses.”

 

“Sheesh,” Melissa empathized.

 

The introductory courses were usually filled with Freshman. Those young and largely undisciplined students were generally wildly out of control. The kids were especially wild during the summer semester when they’d rather be at the pool. Or the classes were filled with people expecting to make an easy A from the intro class, and quite often got mad when they didn’t.

 

“I don’t envy you.”

 

“Thanks.” Seeing the work schedule he was going to have for the next several months hadn’t helped his headache on bit. “What did you get?”

 

“I lucked out,” she admitted. “I’ve been assigned one mid-level class and a very advanced class.”

 

Melissa was smiling at the prospect and Blair couldn’t blame her. The advanced classes were extremely limited in class size—she probably wouldn’t have more than 10 students, if that many, to contend with. The mid-level class would be filled with students more students, but they would be eager to learn and interested in the subject matter. Whereas, he would have 40-50 per class, and few, if any, of the students would actually care about anthropology.

 

“Cool.” Blair tried not to be envious at her good luck.

 

“Thanks.” She stood up once again. “I better get going and you should go home.” Her steps faltered and Melissa looked back at Blair, who was getting paler by the moment. “Do you have a ride home? I really don’t think you should be driving.”

 

“Uh, no, I don’t,” Blair admitted. “I drove in today.”

 

“Hmmm, well you certainly don’t need to be behind the wheel this afternoon. How about if I give you a ride home,” the young woman offered.

 

Blair started to object and then decided the hell with it when a pain, like a spike being stabbed into his head, almost made him cry out. He needed to get home, to his bed and his medicine, before it got any worse. Besides which, Melissa only lived a few blocks away from the loft, so it wouldn’t be that far out of her way.

 

“Thanks, I think I’ll take you up on that.”

 

The anthropologist gathered up his backpack and a few papers he might need and followed his friend outside. By the time he got to the front of Hargrove Hall, Melissa had driven her car around. Blair was grateful, because the bright sunlight was making his head throb.

 

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Keeping his eyes closed helped a little. Blair hoped Melissa wasn’t offended by the lack of conversation, but it wasn’t easy being witty when your brain was trying to pound its way out of your ears.

 

“Did you catch the news story?”

 

Her soft voice didn’t hurt too badly. “What story?” Blair asked quietly.

 

“About men having babies.”

 

He slit one eye open and looked over at her to see what the joke was. The young woman was busy watching the road, but she seemed serious enough.

 

“Say again,” he said with a high degree of astonishment…and who could blame him.

 

“Yes, it’s true.” She nodded her head. “I saw a whole story about it.”

 

Blair closed his eyes and swallowed hard when his stomach gave a suspicious quiver. “I’ve seen that page on the net, it was all a hoax.”

 

“Oh no,” Melissa disagreed. “I saw that one too. This came out over the AP wire service.”

 

That recaptured Blair’s attention. If it was from a legitimate news source…

 

“Apparently there is a research facility in Canada that has come up with a way for men to conceive and carry a baby. It’s far enough along that they are having the first trial right now.”

 

“Uhm…oh.” Blair didn’t know what to say…or think…or feel. The conversation he and Jim had had several months ago still rattled around in his brain sometimes. He was almost haunted by their specter children.

 

“Here we are.”

 

“What?” Blair’s mind was under a lot of strain at the moment and he wasn’t thinking as clearly as he normally would be.

 

“We’re at your place.” Melissa smiled and nodded at Blair’s side of the car.

 

The grad student carefully turned his head and realized that while he’d been preoccupied with the astonishing news, they’d gotten back to the loft. “Oh!” He gave an embarrassed laugh. “We’re home.”

 

Opening the car door, Blair unpacked himself from the very small compact and gave a brief prayer of thanks that he wasn’t as tall as Jim or, heaven forbid, Simon, otherwise, he never could have extracted himself. At least, not and lived to tell the tale. Jim would have been stuck and poor Simon would have needed a can opener to even get his tall frame into the car in the first place.

 

‘Or a shoehorn,’ he thought with an internal giggle.

 

“Thanks for the ride, ‘Lis.”

 

She gave a dismissive flap of her hand. “No prob. If you need a ride back on Monday, just give me a ring.”

 

“I may do that.” Blair started to shut the door and hesitated. Before he could change his mind, Blair glanced back. “Hey, do you happen to have a website address for that story you saw?”

 

“Sure do,” she said with a cheery smile. “I’ll e-mail it to you.”

 

“Thanks.” Blair’s smile wasn’t quite as blinding, but he tried.

 

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Jim heard a moan when he slammed the front door. The Sentinel hadn’t intended to make so much noise, but the door had slipped out of his hand. The hinges hadn’t been the same since Lash had trashed the door. As an aside he decided to get some new hinges this weekend and fix the door properly.

 

Ellison stood still for a moment and tracked the soft, rustling sounds upstairs to his and Blair’s bedroom. Moving quietly, which was exceptionally silent—not surprising, considering his natural disposition—Jim hurried up the loft stairs.

 

Blair was lying on their bed, curled up on his side, with Jim’s sleeping mask over his eyes. Jim slowly lowered himself onto the side of the bed and reached over to brush the hair off Blair’s forehead.

 

“Migraine?” he queried quietly.

 

“Yeah,” Blair answered just as quietly.

 

“Have you taken your meds?” Blair had a prescription for the migraines he was sometimes plagued with.

 

Blair nodded and then whimpered as the movement made his headache spike. Jim winced in sympathy and began to give his husband a neck rub. That, along with the medicine, seemed to help, and it wasn’t long before Jim could tell that Blair had fallen asleep. The Sentinel waited for a few minutes, still massaging the younger man’s neck, and listening to the even breathing that showed Blair wasn’t in any distress.

 

Downstairs, Ellison finally looked around and realized that the loft was completely dark, except for a few rays of fading sunlight that seeped in around the shades. He had been so worried about his lover that Jim had automatically dialed up his sense of sight to compensate without even thinking about it.

 

Worried that the television would bother Blair, and knowing that the smell of supper cooking certainly would, Jim booted up the computer and decided to check their e-mail for a while. They could worry about eating later on, after Blair woke up, and Jim determined how much Blair’s stomach could handle.

 

Boring, boring, boring.

 

Over 200 e-mails between them and most of them were junk. What was it that Blair called them? Oh yes, Spam. Although why junk e-mail was named after a faux meat product, Jim had no idea.

 

“What’s this?” Jim asked, keeping his voice to a murmur.

 

There was an e-mail from Blair’s friend, Melissa. The subject line read, Babies. Too intrigued to do otherwise, Jim looked, even though he knew it had been sent to his lover.

 

Blair,


Here’s that link for the mpreg site. Enjoy!

 

Btw, you left your backpack in my car. If you need it over the weekend just give me a call, otherwise I’ll give it to you on Monday.

 

Kisses,

Melissa

 

Well, that answered one question Ellison had. Namely, how Blair got home when he was so ill. Jim was thankful that the young woman had given him a ride and decided to send her a thank you card.

 

Now, what in the heck was mpreg?

 

Jim clicked on the link and got the surprise of his life.

 

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Blair lay on the bed and tried not to move. He didn’t even want to think about moving. If he budged then his head would fall off and roll down the stairs, like that scene from that old movie Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

 

But at least he was feeling better…

 

If he listened hard enough, Blair could hear Jim downstairs. The Sentinel was muttering under his breath, and every once in a while there was a faint click. Blair realized that Ellison was on the computer, but trying to be quiet so as not to disturb him.

 

He must have made an involuntary noise at some point, because a few moments later, Blair heard his husband’s step on the stairs. The bed dipped slightly when Jim sat down on the edge of it.

 

“Chief?” Ellison greeted him softly.

 

“Hey, Jim.”

 

Blair reached up to remove the sleep mask. His arms felt like they had lead weights attached to them.

 

“Let me do that for you.” Jim eased the elastic from around his head and despite how gentle the detective was, Blair winced in pain.

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

“Awful,” Blair confided. “Everything aches…even my hair hurts.”

 

Jim frowned and nodded his head. It was always the same after a migraine. For two or three days Blair would feel wrung out and sick. Jim had to oh so delicately pick out any tangles in his lovers long, curly hair, because brushing the locks was too painful for the young man.

 

“What about your stomach?” Jim queried. “Do you feel up to eating?” Jim picked up Blair’s hand and held it between his.

 

Blair thought about the question a moment. He closed his eyes and contemplated the way his gut was feeling. “I think I could eat a little something. Not much though,” he warned the other man.

 

“How about some soup?” Ellison rubbed a thumb across the back of the hand he was holding. Blair smiled at the offer of comfort. “Maybe a few crackers,” Jim said, trying to tempt him.

 

“Okay.” Blair gave in, knowing that he needed to eat something.

 

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Jim came back upstairs, carrying a tray with their light dinner on it. Standing beside the bed, the detective wondered if Blair had gone back to sleep; he was lying so still and quiet.

 

“Chief?” he whispered.

 

Blair opened his eyes immediately and smiled. Ellison was glad, he didn’t want to have disturbed the younger man if he’d been resting.

 

“I’m still awake.”

 

Blair pushed himself upright. The movement wasn’t as painful as it had been earlier in the day, but he was lightheaded and felt woozy now. Jim sat down on the rumpled bed beside Blair and the anthropologist leaned against his side gratefully, both for the emotional support, but the physical as well. With just a couple of support cables at the head of their bed, there wasn’t anything to lean back against, like a typical headboard.

 

“I checked the e-mail earlier,” Jim said as he ate the thick potato soup. It was some of Blair’s own homemade soup that had been frozen and just needed to be reheated in the microwave.

 

“Anything good online?” Blair ate at a considerably slower rate than his husband, but he was happy to realize that the food wasn’t upsetting his stomach.

 

“Well, now that you mention it…”

 

Blair glanced over in surprise. It wasn’t like Jim to be this hesitant. The Guide watched as a blush rose up from Jim’s neck and covered his whole face. Blair wondered what in the world could have embarrassed the Sentinel so.

 

“I read one of your personal e-mails,” Ellison admitted.

 

“That’s okay.” Blair leaned over and rubbed his head against Jim’s shoulder. “We don’t have any secrets from each other.” He shrugged. “Unless it’s Christmastime or birthday time, then…look out.”

 

Jim laughed and Blair watched as the blush faded away. “So, what did you read that has you self-conscious?”

 

“It was something that Melissa sent.” Jim hesitated.

 

Blair closed his eyes and frowned, trying to remember what they’d talked about on the way home from the university. The period of time from mid-morning on was a little hazy. He knew it was something important…oh yes!

 

“Oh, right. I remember now, it was the link about men having babies.” Blair gave Jim a searching look. “And?”

 

“And it seems real. The site quotes a couple of doctors that I’ve heard of before. According to the site, they have already impregnated the first group of 100 men. Apparently this test group will be followed by several more sets of 100 until they are sure there won’t be any problems and then, hopefully, it will be open to the general public.”

 

Blair was speechless. “You’re telling me that there are actually 100 men who are pregnant at this moment.”

 

“Yes.” Jim sat the tray with their empty soup bowls on the floor. He covered up Blair’s bowl with a napkin, because in reality it was only half empty.

 

The pair of them slid down in the bed. Jim reached over and turned the light off, plunging the room into late evening darkness. The only real light in the room, at least to a non-sentinel, was the weak starlight that shone through the skylight.

 

Blair snuggled into Jim’s side, his face in the crook of Jim’s neck. The anthropologist stared out into the room, seeing nothing. “We could have our own baby,” he breathed out softly.

 

“Yeah, maybe we could.”

 

The younger man could feel it when Jim smiled and he smiled back. A baby of their own. It was too wonderful to contemplate.

 

Chapter 3

 

The next year was a hectic one. Maya came back again and caused even more trouble, and this time she couldn’t blame it on her father. They had their run in with Lee Bracket, the rogue CIA operative. But in among all the chaos and the general mayhem that came with working at Major Crimes, the two men kept a close eye on the pregnancies that were happening in Canada.

 

Of the 100 original men who became pregnant, three of them had miscarriages, due to one thing or another. The other 97 men successfully delivered their children. The three unsuccessful parents were going to try again in the 2nd set of trials that was supposed to start at the beginning of the next month…

 

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Jim shut the front door behind him and waited. He was a little surprised, and a whole lot disappointed, when his husband didn't greet him. It was a semi-ritual that the couple had; whoever got home first met the last one home and gave them a kiss, unless they were sick or hurt.

 

The Sentinel extended his sense of hearing and heard Blair's heartbeat, so he knew the younger man was home. Narrowing down the field, Ellison quickly decided that his husband was in his old bedroom. Jim reasoned that the anthropologist must be working on something. Since he and Blair became lovers, the small room downstairs had become a study/office. Blair's desk and Jim's desk were identical and sat, side by side, against the wall opposite the futon. The couple shared desks, just like they did down at the station. The futon wasn't used as a bed much any more. It was there just in case they had company, and was folded back up like a sofa.

 

Ellison cracked the French doors open and peeked around the corner. He didn't want to startle Blair if he happened to be sleeping. The teacher and grad student had been working hard the last couple of weeks to finish the semester and was worn out.

 

It was the futon that Blair was sitting on, surrounded by what appeared to be a thick packet of forms and letters. Jim thought to himself how sexy Blair looked with his glasses sliding down his button nose. Blair was chewing the corner of his bottom lip and Jim’s eyes were drawn to the sight.

 

“If you keep that up, we’ll never eat,” Jim said huskily. All the blood in his body had migrated downwards, making it hard to talk and even harder to think. That was nothing new when Jim was around the man he loved.

 

Blair looked up and blinked dazedly, like a sleepy owl caught unawares. “What?” he asked. The younger man’s face held a look of surprise before it cleared and he smiled.

 

“Hey, Jim.”

 

Blair stacked the papers neatly on the small side table and hurried over to the Sentinel. “When did you get here, man?”

 

Ellison quirked one eyebrow in feigned astonishment. “Huh. I like that. I come home and my husband doesn’t even notice,” he teased. “I am soooo memorable.” Jim tilted his head to one side and seemed to contemplate the fire escape. “Maybe I should just leave.” He sighed in mock sadness.

 

Blair wrapped his arms around his lover and snorted. He smacked Jim on the butt, making the detective jump. “As if.”

 

Jim enclosed his spouse in his arms and pulled him close, into a tight hug. Their lips met in a soft caress before his tongue slipped past the younger man’s full lips and began to reexplore the ridges on the roof of his mouth. Of their own volition, Jim’s hands slid down Blair’s body, stopping just at the under swelling of the anthropologist’s butt. He tugged up, pulling Blair up and into his own erection. Blair moaned his appreciation at the sensation and the hand that had swatted Jim tightened on his behind involuntarily.

 

With one last kiss, Jim let go of his double handful of Guide butt. Blair slid back down, to stand on his feet fully. Both men were panting and Jim had to smile at how flushed Blair looked.

 

“Wh-” Blair cleared his throat. “What is it that I’m supposed to quit doing?”

 

“Ah ha. You were paying attention…as you chewed on your lip,” Jim said with a smile.

 

Blair’s dark eyebrows shot up at that. “You mean like this?”

 

Ellison’s gaze slid down and was riveted to Blair’s mouth as he tugged first one side of his bottom lip and then the other side, into his mouth. There was just the slightest hint of white teeth…biting…

 

“Dinner can wait,” Jim declared as he walked Blair backwards toward the futon.

 

“Um huh,” Blair agreed.

 

Ellison released Blair long enough to yank the futon out of its sofa position and back into a bed. The frame bounced against his desk, knocking over a stack of papers, but for once the Sentinel didn’t care.

 

He caught Blair’s hand as the younger man was reaching up to remove his gold rimmed glasses. “Leave them on…please.”

 

Blair looked surprised at the request, but he didn’t take them off. Instead he sat down on the bed. “Anything you want.” The observer lay back on the bed and gazed up at his detective lover. Jim lay down on top of him and began to devour Blair’s mouth himself.

 

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Later that evening, Jim and Blair sat in the kitchen, eating reheated Chinese food and discussing their respective days. Blair laughed as Jim regaled him with a chase that Henri Brown and Brian Rafe had participated in.

 

“…and by the time it was all over with, both of them looked like they’d been tarred and feathered,” Ellison concluded with a grin.

 

Blair was laughing so hard that he was holding his protesting stomach. “Oh man, I’m sorry I missed that.”

 

Jim smiled. He loved to see Blair laugh. “I wish you’d been there. I’ve missed having you around lately.”

 

“Me too,” Blair admitted. “But, as of today, I am as free as the air.” Blair stuck his arms out to his sides like a bird in flight.

 

“Thank heavens,” Jim exclaimed.

 

This semester had been a rough one. At the end of the last school year, Blair had completed his dissertations, yes more than one, and was now officially Dr. Blair Sandburg-Ellison. However, instead of lightening his work load, that meant that Blair was teaching even more classes than before. To top it all off, the anthropologist was now an official, paid consultant to the Cascade PD, specifically the Major Crimes division, and worked there part time as well.

 

In other words, Blair had graduated from college, but was working harder than ever before. Jim kept a weather eye on his love, hoping to keep him from burning out, but it wasn’t easy. Neither had it been easy to keep Blair on at the station. Not because they didn’t want the new doctor, but because everybody wanted him now.

 

Blair had written and successfully defended an astonishing three dissertations. One was the expected Sentinel one. It hadn’t been easy, but Sandburg managed to keep that information available to the dissertation committee only. The second one had been on Closed Societies and Their Impact on the Work Environment. The third one had been a study of The Criminal Element and Their Detrimental Impact on Society at Large.

 

Ellison wasn’t ashamed to admit that reading the large and extremely complicated texts had made his head swim. It wasn’t that Jim was dumb, or anything remotely like that, but these papers had shown him just how far ahead intelligently that Blair was from the rest of them.

 

The anthropologist had been inundated with offers to teach, to go on expeditions all over the world, and so on. But he had decided to stay right here in Cascade, with Jim and their friends. Not that Ellison expected his husband to abandon him, but Blair had even turned down the Sentinel’s offer to accompany Blair anywhere he wanted to go. Jim was fully prepared to sit and watch Blair dig artifacts from the ground if that’s what Blair wanted to do.

 

Jim smiled proudly at his lover. Blair caught the smile and threw it back to him.

 

“So, what were you perusing?” Ellison asked with a grin. He loved to throw out the big words sometimes, just to prove that, even if he wasn’t the genius that Blair was, he wasn’t a moron either.

 

Blair gave a quick jerk of a smile, one that just barely twitched the corners of his full lips. One hand picked at the remains of their dinner nervously.

 

“Is something wrong?” the detective asked his husband. Jim reached out and took hold of Blair’s hand. He noticed that Blair’s palms were sweaty.

 

“I, uh…” Blair swallowed nervously, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down quickly. He bent his head, giving the table an intense scrutinizing. “It’s paperwork about getting pregnant.”

 

Jim’s eyebrows shot up at that admission, surprised at the new information. “I didn’t know you’d sent off for it,” he said at last.

 

They’d discussed getting more information, but, as far as Jim knew, it hadn’t gone any farther. Apparently he was mistaken.

 

“Yeah…I just wanted to find out more about the process.” Blair flicked a look up at Jim through several strands of long hair that had slid down to cover his face. “Are you mad?” Blair asked quietly.

 

“Of course not, Chief.” Ellison tugged on Blair’s hand and pulled the other man to his side. He felt a flutter of hope beating in his chest. Maybe their dreams of a larger family weren’t so far fetched after all.

 

“That’s good.” Blair relaxed and took another bite of his strawberry cheesecake. Jim noticed that the hand holding the fork was trembling, just slightly.

 

It bothered Jim that his husband had been worried about Jim’s reaction. Understandable, but upsetting. Ellison knew that he had a problem with overreacting to any perceived threats, whether they were real or not.

 

“Now, we need to decide how interested we are.” Blair gave Jim a sideways look out of the corner of his eye. “There are a lot of forms to fill out.”

 

Jim snorted and Blair looked up questioningly. “Chief, I think we can safely say that we’re very interested.”

 

Blair chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so.”

 

The Sentinel sat for a moment and thought about what they were planning. He definitely wanted a baby of their own, but there was only one real problem…

 

“Chief, uh…”

 

Blair turned around from where he’d been placing leftovers in the refrigerator and waited patiently for Jim to say whatever was on his mind.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’m not sure if I could…” Ellison froze, trying to think how to express his misgivings. Finally, he mimed having a pregnant belly. Blair looked startled.

 

“Jim…” Now it was Blair’s turn to hesitate. “I figured, well, I was kind of hoping…” He sighed and shrugged. “I’d like to be the one to have the baby.”

 

Ellison smiled and held out his arms. Blair willingly, and very quickly, came over and slid onto his lap. The younger man sat down facing the Sentinel, with his legs wrapped around behind Jim’s chair and his arms around his lover’s neck. The detective wrapped his arms around Blair’s hips, just to keep him balanced, don’t you know.

 

“You pregnant.” Jim smiled and loosened his grip long enough to rub Blair’s tummy gently. “I’d like that.”

 

Blair grinned and placed one hand over Jim’s. “Let’s not get our hopes up too high, we might not even qualify.”

 

“Uh huh.” Jim didn’t deny that the odds were high against them being chosen, but he had a feeling that things were going to turn out fine.

 

Chapter 4

 

Blair sat in the doctor’s waiting room and glanced around nervously. It was no wonder that he felt out of place and more than a little self conscious, as he was the only man there. At least the only man who wasn’t attached to a pregnant woman.

 

He clutched the thick pile of documents to his chest and tried not to stare. It wasn’t easy though. What Blair wanted to do was to talk to these women and ask them questions and, if permissible, touch their pregnant tummies. But he couldn’t, otherwise they’d think he was some kind of pervert. All he could do, all he was allowed, was to surreptitiously watch the gestating women and hope like heck that that was him in a few months.

 

“Mr. Sandburg,” the nurse called his name. At the sound of a man being called back into the doctor’s office, several people looked up in surprise. The ongoing study coming out of Canada probably wasn’t that big of a deal to most people.

 

Blushingly, Blair got up to follow the woman back into the corridor. Behind him, the anthropologist heard a low buzz of chatter start up.

 

‘Better get used to that,’ Blair thought. ‘If you get pregnant there will be a lot more talk than that.’

 

“Right in here.” The nurse gestured for Blair to follow her.

 

Blair took a deep breath and followed her into the examination room, knowing his life was about to change.

 

+-+-+-

 

Thirty minutes later, Blair sat, now shivering and even more nervous than before, and waited for the doctor to arrive. His height, weight, pulse, temperature and blood pressure had all been taken by the nurse he’d first seen. A little clip had been placed on the end of his finger and Blair had discovered that his ox sat was 98%; he assumed that was a good thing.

 

Blair was trying to remain calm, but it wasn’t easy, what with his sitting in a skimpy paper gown. At least they’d let him keep his underwear on, although the odds on them staying weren’t very good.

 

He and Jim had lucked out, because one of the primary researchers from the male pregnancy study now lived in Cascade. Even though she had moved there a few months earlier, the doctor was still actively involved in the study going on in Canada. Of course, living as close to the Canadian border as Blair and Jim did, traveling to the main test site in Vancouver, British Columbia wouldn't have been that big a hardship...at least not at first. It was only about 120 miles away, but that was a long ways to go if someone was in labor.

 

This was actually Blair’s third time to a doctor to see if he qualified for the test group. The first two times had included Jim though and hadn’t been quite as intimidating. Also, this would be the first time that he saw the doctor who would oversee the pregnancy. The other times had been different doctors and nurse practitioners in her office.

 

The genetic testing that they had both gone through had turned out fine. Their combined genes weren’t likely to produce any rare genetic condition in a baby. Jim’s sperm count and mobility was tested and was great. The count was high and apparently Jim’s little soldiers, as the technician had called his sperm, were very active and healthy. That was one major hurdle.

 

Now, Blair had to be checked all over, from top to bottom. The doctor needed to determine if Blair was healthy enough to withstand the hormone regimen he would need to become pregnant and then the additional stresses and strains of pregnancy.

 

The odds of qualifying were so astronomically high that Jim and Blair hadn’t told anyone yet, not even Simon, just in case nothing came of it. They didn’t want to go through explaining the whole procedure if nothing was going to come of it.

 

Blair looked up as the door opened. In walked a woman in her mid-30’s. She was attractive enough, with black hair that was done up in a twist on top of her head, tanned skin and a kind smile.

 

“Hello, I’m Dr. Caroline McPhereson.” Blair shook her hand and as he looked into her warm brown eyes, he relaxed for the first time that day.

 

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When Blair came back after the testing, he was exhausted. Dr. McPhereson had been wonderful the first day. She’d been great on the second day of testing. But by today, the third day, she was beginning to lose her charm, at least as far as Blair was concerned.

 

“Chief?” Jim’s enquiring voice called out. Blair was so tired that he hadn’t even heard the front door open.

 

“Over here, Jim.” Blair’s voice was muffled by the couch cushion that his face was mashed into. The anthropologist raised his arm over the back of the couch and flapped his hand around in an attempt at a wave at his husband.

 

“Damn.”

 

Blair opened one eye and looked up to see a concerned looking Jim kneeling beside him. A grunt was his only reply.

 

“Are there any more tests?” Ellison asked. “Are there any more they could possibly do?”

 

“Oh man, don’t ask.” Blair reached a hand out, intending on covering Jim’s mouth, but the hand in question only made it half way before flopping down on the floor tiredly. “Don’t tease the fates like that.”

 

The first day was a very, very thorough physical. He was examined from head to toe, and Blair had been right, the boxers had been discarded early in the process. There hadn’t been a spot, outside, or as far as the doctor could reach, inside his body that wasn’t probed and/or mashed on.

 

He’d had his feet up in the stirrups, and wasn’t that a charming experience, for quite a while, as the doctor examined everything she possibly could. If Jim had been the one to have him in that position, Blair would have loved it, but with two women eyeing his ass…not so much. The young man had concentrated on the pattern on the nurse’s scrub uniform and tried not think about how exposed he was.

 

Blair had limped home that day and soaked in the tub for about two hours. The younger man had felt like he’d had surgery without the benefit of anesthesia.

 

The second day had been devoted to the vampires. The amount of blood taken out of his arm had actually made Blair a little dizzy. Then he’d had to pee in a cup, again an interesting experience. Blair wondered how a woman, who couldn’t hold on to their genitalia and aim, ever got anything in the tiny receptacle.

 

Then, joy of joy, Blair had to bring home a container to, you guessed it, pee into. It was a 24-hour urine collection test to see how his kidneys were functioning.

 

A chest x-ray checked on his lungs. Then there was an ultrasound that checked all of his internal organs, making certain that they were working correctly and weren’t enlarged or unnaturally small.

 

“Juuuust right,” Blair muttered.

 

“Chief?” Jim was looking at his mate, as if he was wondering about Blair’s sanity.

 

“Nothing, Big Guy. Just blithering.”

 

“So…how did it go today?”

 

Blair rolled onto his back and groaned as the movement made his whole body cramp up. “Oh man, it was a killer. First was the tread mill, then they slapped a breathing mask on me and did a lung function test.” Blair closed his eyes and sighed tiredly. “Man, it’s hard work to huff and puff into that breathing machine.”

 

“Was that before or after the MRI?” Jim asked sympathetically.

 

“In between. I did the lung test, then the MRI, then walked about 20 miles on the tread mill…then they did a CAT scan.” Blair waggled his hand back and forth weakly. “A head to toe scan. I am soooo glad that the CAT scan machines are open nowadays. That doughnut shaped ring is a lot easier to handle than the white cube of death…”

 

Ellison patted his husband on the shoulder and shook his head sadly when he realized that the younger man had fallen asleep, in mid-rant. The Sentinel took the multicolored lap robe off the back of the couch and covered Blair with it.

 

“I think I’d better get used to this,” Jim remarked quietly, as he got up to start fixing dinner. “Because if Blair gets pregnant, things are bound to get a whole lot worse.”

 

Chapter 5

 

“Unh uh,” Blair said with an emphatic shake of his head.

 

Ellison rolled his eyes. “Oh come on, Sandburg.”

 

Blair reached out and smacked him on the arm…hard. “I’m your husband, not one of your Army buddies, call…me…by…my…name.” Each word of the later part of his statement was accompanied by a poke from Blair’s index finger.

 

Jim looked at the frown on Blair’s face and relented. “Okay…come on…Chief.”

 

“That’s better,” Blair said with a smile. “But I’m still not doing it.” The anthropologist sat down at his desk in the bullpen and crossed his arms and shook his head determinedly. “I’m the one,” he glanced around quickly and whispered, “you know. So, you get to tell Simon.”

 

The Sentinel relented and nodded reluctantly. Almost instantaneously, Blair’s whole demeanor changed, going from ticked off to bubbly happy, faster than the speed of light. In the last three months, Ellison had gotten a little more used to the abrupt mood changes…a little.

 

He and Blair had been approved for the study and Blair had begun a regimen of hormones that would mimic those of an ovulating female. At first it had only been a few pills a day, but now Blair had been pumped up to two shots, in addition to the fertility drugs, which had just been added this last week.

 

The lovely combination of drugs had Blair’s body hopping around like crazy. One minute he would be jittery and on edge, the next he was exhausted and emotional. Jim knew that they both had to ride out the rough times if they wanted a child.

 

"Well..." He eyed Simon Banks' closed office door, much the way Daniel probably looked at the lion's den. "I'm off."

 

"Good luck," Blair said with an unrepentant smile.

 

Jim knocked on Simon's door and heard the captain telling him to come in. Just as he opened the door, Jim heard Blair whistling behind him. He paused for a minute and turned to glare at his husband. Blair was innocently whistling the United States Air Force theme. 'Off we go, into the wild, blue yonder...' Jim's mind translated the whistling into the appropriate lyrics. Ellison thought about sticking his tongue out at the observer, but decided not to risk another mood swing.

 

"Are you coming in any time today?" Simon sounded peevish.

 

"Yes, sir. Just dealing with a little problem."

 

Blair had no compunction against sticking his tongue out in the middle of the bullpen. Ellison heard Joel Taggart snort at the childish display.

 

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The inside of Simon's mouth really wasn't that attractive to look at, Jim decided after a couple of minutes. He'd had that long to think about it, because when Ellison had told the captain the news, his mouth had fallen open in shock and hadn't closed yet.

 

‘In fact…’ Jim thought, as he peered down Simon’s throat some more, ‘I think Simon needs to get his tonsils looked at. They are a little irritated looking.’

 

"Y-you're what?!"

 

"We're going to have a baby." At his friend's confused look, Jim added, "Surely you've heard about what's been happening up in Canada."

 

"Of course I have; it's been all over the news for two years now." Simon gave the detective a searching look. "I just didn't know you were interested in having a kid."

 

Jim relaxed back in his chair and waved a hand. "It never came up. I mean, before now it didn't really matter, did it?" Ellison shrugged one shoulder and tried to look nonchalant. "I'm a gay man, so there wasn't ever going to be much opportunity."

 

Simon raised his eyebrows. "You were married."

 

"Yes, but Carolyn had no desire to have a baby. She, and I quote, wasn't going to mess up her body to give me a brat," Jim mimicked his ex-wife's eye roll and pursed lips.

 

"Damn, that's harsh," Simon stated.

 

"Yeah, just another thing we didn't talk about before we got married," Jim said with regret. That hasty marriage had ruined a fairly decent friendship, something he had thankfully avoided doing with Blair.

 

Jim saw the captain glance out the glass windows and knew he was looking at Blair. "So...who's going to..." Simon hesitated, flicking his gaze from Blair to Jim. For just a moment, the Sentinel wanted to laugh. It was obviously making the captain sweat, trying to figure out which of them was going to be pregnant. Then the detective's better nature rose up and he grinned.

 

"Blair's going to carry the baby. We've already qualified for the study and had all the testing we needed to."

 

Simon seemed to accept the news and angled his head to see Blair better. Jim looked too and saw that Blair had laid his head down on his desk and looked like he was asleep.

 

"So, now what?" Simon asked.

 

"For right now, nothing more. Blair is taking hormones and fertility drugs to get his body ready. In a few months, he'll have surgery where they'll implant an artificial womb. After that's healed up, the doctor will try artificial insemination."

 

The Captain's mouth was hanging open again. "Uh, okay."

 

He thought for a moment, worrying a paperclip between his fingers as he did. Banks was trying to cut back on his smoking and had taken to fidgeting with various objects to keep his hands busy.

 

"Fertility drugs? Be careful Jim, you might end up with four or five children at one whack," Banks warned.

 

Jim shook his head. "No, the drugs are just to combine with the hormones to get Blair's body in tune with the implantation. Since neither of us actually produces an egg, there won't be any chance of more than one child."

 

"Speaking of which..."

 

Ellison interrupted him. "The ovum will come from a donor. Through some process, that I didn't understand, they will be able to take her genetic material out of the egg and place Blair's and mine in."

 

"Well...good luck." Simon was overwhelmed by the information and so Jim ignored the less than enthusiastic best wishes.

 

"Thanks."

 

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Blair stuck out his finger and waited. The phlebotomist, which was just a fancy name for the person who drew his blood, used a lancet and poked his finger. The small amount of blood was placed in the machine and they both waited for the results. Every week, Blair had to come and get his ProTime level checked to make sure his blood wasn't getting too thick. Apparently some of the medicines that he was taking could cause that to happen and might cause a blood clot, if not caught in time.

 

"It still checks out fine," the older man said with a smile.

 

"That's good." Blair sighed in relief. He really didn't want to go back on the blood thinners. With as much running around as he did at the university and all the running after criminals he did with Jim, Blair was banged around a fair amount. As a result, he'd been covered in bruises the few times he'd needed to take the Coumadin.

 

"Where are you on the list?" Tom asked with genuine interest.

 

"I don't know." Blair threw away the cotton swab that had been pressed against his finger to stop the bleeding. "I haven't heard in a while. The last time I checked, I was..." He thought hard. "I was, like, 10th down, or something like that."

 

Tom pursed his lips and nodded knowingly. "That's not much longer then. I know they've implanted at least three people this week only."

 

"Really?" Blair clarified, perking up with interest. "Cool."

 

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"How's it going, Hairboy?" Henri Brown asked with one of his trademark grins.

 

"Pretty good, H. And you?"

 

Brown's smile faded a little. "So-so."

 

"What's up?" Blair leaned against the detective's desk, one hip perched on the corner edge.

 

"He and Mandy broke up," Brian Rafe answered from his adjoining desk.

 

"Oh man, that's too bad." Blair patted the detective on the back sympathetically. He knew all about being dumped. Before he and Jim had gotten together, Blair had dated more men and women than he cared to admit. Not because Blair was easy, but because most people either couldn't handle his enthusiastic personality, or because they were upset because he wasn't the easy lay most people made him out to be.

 

"Yeah," H agreed.

 

Blair eyed his friend for a minute, thinking. He'd have to see if the detective was interested in being set up in a few weeks time. That would give Brown time to get over the breakup with his girlfriend and Blair time to perk Melissa's interest in the detective.

 

"Come on, Chief."

 

"Where are we going?" Blair asked as he hurried after his lover. He waved over his shoulder to Rafe and H.

 

"I need to talk to Sneaks about the Manetti case," Jim informed him as he pushed the elevator button.

 

Blair automatically looked down at his footwear, when Jim mentioned the informant who so dearly loved to collect sneakers, hence his nickname. Blair decided that the shoes he had on could be sacrificed if it meant that they'd get some information about the drug dealing Antonio Manetti.

 

"Okay, man. But let it be on your head if my tootsies get frozen."

 

Jim grinned and gave Blair a quick peck on the lips as the elevator doors closed. "I think you'll survive, Chief. Besides which, we have some extra shoes in the truck."

 

"I like a man who thinks ahead," Blair said with a grin.

 

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Blair was still grinning that night as they were watching television. He hadn’t lost his shoes…but Jim had. The Sentinel had been ticked off at having to give up one of his good pairs of tennis shoes, but Sneaks had fallen in love with them.

 

“Stop snickering, Ch…Blair. It wasn’t that funny.”

 

“No, of course not, Jim.” Blair batted his eyes innocently.

 

Jim snorted. “Don’t give me that butterfly eyes look.”

 

Chapter 6

 

Jim was at the station doing paperwork. Sometimes the detective felt like that was all he did, that one day the stacks of paper were going to fall over and smother him to death.

 

The Sentinel snorted at that whimsical image. One of the uniformed officers was walking by at that moment and gave the detective a curious look. Jim gave the man in blue one of his looks. It was the one that Blair had dubbed the killer-diller look. It worked and the cop scurried off, with his proverbial tail between his legs.

 

‘Oh yeah. I’ve still got it,’ Ellison crowed to himself.

 

Brrrrng.

 

“Ellison,” Jim had the phone up and answered before it truly dawned on him that he’d heard it ring. The response was automatic anymore.

 

“Hey, Jim.”

 

The Sentinel frowned at how far away Blair’s voice sounded. “Chief?”

 

“…eah, it’s me.” Static cut across the line again, making Jim wince.

 

“Can you speak up? I can barely hear you.”

 

“Sorry, man,” Blair’s voice got marginally louder. “I’m using the payphone in the doctor’s office.

 

Jim frowned. “Is something wrong with your cell phone?” Ellison dialed up his hearing, just a tad, so he could hear his husband better, but hopefully wouldn’t be deafened if more static came through. “There better not be, considering what we pay a month for the damned things,” the detective groused.

 

Blair’s husky laughter made Jim smile. “Calm down, Tarzan,” the anthropologist told him. “The cell’s fine. I’m not supposed to use it in the office, because it messes with the electronic equipment.”

 

“That’s good.”

 

There was a pause on the other line and then Blair laughed again. “Soooo, do you want to know why I called?”

 

Jim smiled, it seemed like this was one of Blair’s happy days. “You bet, Chief.”

 

“My turn has come.” This time the excitement in Blair’s voice was unmistakable.

 

Jim gasped. “The implant?” he clarified. His heart began to pound in his chest when he realized that the day they’d been hoping for for so long was finally here.

 

“Yep,” Blair chirped. “Day after tomorrow, I get the womb implant.”

 

Ellison dialed up his hearing even further and really listened to his husband. Blair’s heartbeat was only slightly elevated, as it would be if he were excited. Not really pounding, as if he were scared or upset. Likewise, his breathing was a little faster, but nothing too noteworthy.

 

“That’s great, Chief,” Jim said, with a happy smile beaming from his face.

 

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Simon eyed the detective who was twitching in the chair on the other side of his desk. Yes, the stoic Sentinel was actually twitching. It was this same behavior that had caused Banks to call his detective into the office.

 

"What has you so happy?" Simon asked curiously. "You are grinning like a rooster in a hen house."

 

"Is that a bad thing?" Jim asked with a chuckle.

 

"In a way," Simon admitted with his own suspicious grin. "You're scaring everybody. We're not used to you smiling this much. Not from you anyway."

 

Ellison snorted, but then shrugged as he silently acknowledged the truth. BB, or Before Blair, James Joseph Ellison had been one grim SOB. Even Jim realized that, otherwise he wouldn't have ended up divorced and with precious few friends. Blair in his life had loosened him up and made life easier for everybody around him.

 

"Well, you all are just going to have to get used to it."

 

Banks narrowed his eyes and looked at his friend speculatively. "Why's that."

 

"Because Blair just called with the good news. This Tuesday is when he's going to get the womb implant." The information exploded out of Jim and it was obvious to Simon that he’d been dying for someone to share the news with.

 

"Uh, that's great."

 

Luckily for Banks, and all the people who would be around Jim for the rest of the day, the detective was too happy to notice that Simon's congratulations were more than a little on the subdued side. Actually, the Captain sounded downright morose.

 

He had been hoping and praying that they'd change their minds. It wasn't that the captain wasn't happy for his friends, but he was worried about them.

 

The whole thing was odd to Simon and not because he was prejudiced, although the thought of a man being pregnant was weird and more than a little frightening.  He vividly remembered the morning sickness and hot flashes that Joan went through.  The aches and pains, not to mention, the many hours of labor that she had suffered through. The captain knew that he would never have the nerve to deliberately put himself through all that.

 

Simon listened to Jim as he talked about the people he'd talked to online and the meeting he had arranged to meet one of the other fathers that he'd talked to. The captain managed to hide his distress from the enthusiastic Sentinel. He'd hoped that they would change their minds before anything drastic really happened. It appeared that his hopes were in vain.

 

In Simon's way of thinking, this whole pregnancy thing was a disaster waiting to happen, because, let's face it, trouble followed the two of them around like a lost puppy. Simon wasn't sure if he believed in fate or destiny, but whatever force was running the universe seemed to have it out for the duo. Banks could only imagine what was going to happen when they added making a baby into the mix.

 

Simon was worried about Blair's health. It was easy to see that just the hormones he'd had to take had drug the hyper young man down and they hadn't even gotten to the tough part yet. If something were to happen to the baby, or Blair, god forbid, Simon was certain that Ellison would go completely to pieces. And without Sandburg there to pick up those pieces, Jim would never be the same.

 

Watching his happy friend, Simon hoped that everything went alright.

 

“Congratulations, Jim,” the captain said with a smile. Mentally he crossed his fingers and began to pray.

 

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Jim stood in the doorway of the diner and looked around the room, as he speculated on the people eating there. Over, in a far, corner booth, sat the man he’d come to meet. Ellison walked over, winding in and around the numerous tables, like an overgrown cat.

 

“You must be Jim Ellison.” The other man half rose from the booth and shook Jim’s hand. “I’m Sam Davis.”

 

“Nice to finally meet you. And yeah, I’m Ellison.”

 

Jim slid into his side of the table and gave the man in front of him a quick looking over. Sam was probably mid way between his and Blair’s age, so early 30’s. He had short, blond hair and dark brown eyes. The man smiled easily, but his eyes swept the room, like Ellison’s did, and betrayed a military or police background somewhere in his past.

 

“Thanks for meeting me,” Jim said.

 

“Hey, it’s no problem,” Sam stated, as he waved his hand around dismissively. “I had to be in town for a business meeting anyway.”

 

The two of them eyed each other for a moment. Jim, at least, wasn’t certain how to start the conversation. He’d just gathered the nerve to start the ball rolling when their waiter appeared and handed them their menus.

 

“Would you gentlemen like a drink from the bar?” Tony, as his nametag identified him, asked.

 

“None for me,” Sam said with a quick smile. “I have to drive back tonight.”

 

“No thanks,” Jim shook his head. “I’m driving too.

 

They both ordered soft drinks and Tony left to get them. Jim perused the laminated menu, trying to decide whether or not to splurge and have what he really wanted to eat, which was the smothered steak and loaded baked potato, or go with what Blair would suggest, a Chef’s salad.

 

Davis laughed. “I know that look. You want to eat one thing, but your guy’s voice is in your head telling you to eat something else.”

 

Jim laughed. “Yeah. You too?”

 

“Oh, yeah.” Sam nodded and grinned. “My Ivan’s the same way. He’s always onto me to eat healthier. Personally, I’d rather have a burger.” The two men shared a conspiratorial smile.

 

In the end, Jim compromised. He had the steak and potato, but he also had a good sized salad with it; one that he didn’t smother to death with dressing, like Blair always accused him of doing.

 

Sam snorted when the food was delivered. Jim glanced up to see the other man had his hand over his mouth, trying to hide a laugh. Ellison looked down at Davis’ food and let out his own snort. Davis had a salad, just like Jim’s, with a light amount of dressing.

 

“God, we are so whipped,” Davis said with a laugh, after Tony had departed.

 

Jim sat up straighter and gave a mock huffing sound. “I prefer to think of it as trained.” Sam laughed at the statement. Ellison gave up pretending and laughed as well.

 

"Trained to be whipped," Sam added with a grin.

 

Ellison nodded in acknowledgement, although he knew that Blair had compromised as much, if not more, than he had over the years.

 

"So, how far along are you?"

 

Jim stopped eating long enough to answer. "Blair's getting the womb implant in a couple of days."

 

Davis nodded. "So, the fun's about to start."

 

"Start?" Jim asked incredulously. "The hormones he's been taking have made Blair into a hellcat sometimes. Either that or maudlin." He shuddered as he remembered some of the crying jags that the anthropologist had had in the last several months.

 

Sam laughed and almost choked on the bite of potato that got sucked down his windpipe. Jim watched anxiously as the other man turned red. He had to sit there helplessly as Davis coughed for a couple of minutes, clearing his throat out. Jim knew that, contrary to popular belief, pounding on someone's back only drives the food down further.

 

Tony came hurrying over, bringing a fresh drink. He stood by equally helplessly.

 

Finally, Sam took a drink of his soda and leaned back in the booth.

 

"Are you alright?" Jim asked him solicitously.

 

"Yeah, I'm fine." Sam shook his head. "Really," he reassured their waiter, who went to serve some more people.

 

"My friend, if you think these last few months have been bad, then you are in for a biiiiiig shock."

 

Jim frowned. He took one look at the other man's sympathetic face and leaned back himself. "That bad, huh?"

 

"After he gets pregnant is when the hormones really kick into gear." Jim flinched at that news. "Then you've got the nausea, hot flashes, strange cravings, back aches, feet aches, leg cramps and tiredness.” He paused and let Jim get used to that information before he continued.

 

“Sometimes, he'll just feel like crap and not be able to articulate any particular pain. You'll try to find out what the problem is, but he won't be able to give you a specific area. That'll frustrate you, because you want to help him and won't know what to do, and upset him, because he will know you're upset."

 

Sam took a deep breath and held up one finger. "Just remember this, because this is especially important: Don't get upset with him! No matter how tired and frustrated you are, it won't be a drop in the bucket compared to what he's going through."

 

Ellison looked stunned. He hadn't thought about it in quite that way before. Intellectually, he knew what other men went through when their wives were pregnant, but it hadn't dawned on him what they must have gone through behind closed doors. And that was without all the extra work that Blair was going through to even get him there.

 

"On that happy note," Sam said ruefully, "I've got a list for you that some of the other dads and I have put together. It gets added to every time somebody has a kid, so I'll probably e-mail you with more every week."

 

Jim took the proffered pages carefully, leery of what else he was going to learn. "What is it?"

 

"This is the top Blank list of things to help when you're baby is having a baby."

 

Ellison opened the folded paper and spread it out on the tabletop, beside his plate. This reminded him of his half-eaten dinner. Jim picked up his fork in one hand, as he began to peruse the list. And what a list it was!

 

"Top Blank List?"

 

"Yes. We can't give it a number yet, as it keeps growing."

 

While Sam went back to eating his own food, Jim started to read the list.

 

List:

 

 1. Candy (for getting the bad taste out of your mouth)

 2. Printout of all meds and procedures

 3. Wet wipes

 4. Hand sanitizer

 5. Tissues

 6. $10.00, in coins and one dollar bills

 7. Lip moisturizer

 8. A few assorted drinks that don’t need to be refrigerated

 9. Book, or something else to occupy yourself

10. A complete change of clothes for yourself

11. 3 complete changes of clothes for the pregnant person, plus

      several different shoes, including at least one pair of comfy

      slippers

12. Pillow (3) one for head, one for back, one to put feet on

13. Blanket

14. Ben Gay for muscle cramps

15. Crackers for nausea

16. Weeks worth of meds

17. Snacks

18. Whatever they are craving at the time (if at all possible)

19. A portable fan, for the hot flashes

20. Fully stocked First Aid kit

21. Bottle of cleaner and rags

22. Several, heavy duty bags, to put soiled linens in

23. Barf bags

24. A toy for the baby

 

"A toy?" Jim asked quietly.

 

"Yeah, something to remind your guy of the reason he’s going through all this crap,” Sam stated. “He’ll need it sometimes.”

 

Jim nodded. Blair could already have used something like that.

 

“Speaking of which,” Davis said as he began to dig in his jacket that was draped across the seat. “Here’s my reason.”

 

The other man handed over a wallet and the first thing that Jim saw was a picture of a smiling baby. His mouth sported two tiny little teeth, which were peaking up from behind his lips. The sweet face was laughing happily. Another picture showed the same baby, only younger, cradled in a very tired looking young man’s arms.

 

“That’s my Ivan.”

 

Sam pointed to the man in the picture. He had straight red hair the color of warm flames and very pale skin.

 

“That was right after he had our Davy.” One finger caressed the picture. “He’s not usually that pale, but the pain medication made him nauseous.”

 

“You’re a lucky man,” Jim stated.

 

“I know,” Sam said proudly.

 

“Very lucky,” Jim said again. Looking at the picture, for the first time, it dawned on Jim that he would most likely have a picture of his own like this in a few months.

 

“You will be too.” Sam leaned forward and clapped the detective on the arm.

 

Chapter 7

 

Today was the day. W day, as they had so jokingly dubbed it.

 

This was the day that Blair was finally going to get the womb implant. And Jim was worried. He’d been tense for several days beforehand and had tried to hide it from his lover, without a lot of success. Blair had remained calm as could be, at least until today.

 

The day of surgery they arrived at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning. Jim was glad that patients didn’t need to check in the night before, like they used to make you do. As it was, he and Blair didn’t get very much rest.

 

As they are waiting for the surgery to begin, Jim could tell that the wait was getting to Blair, who had been pretty calm up until now. Jim watched as his husband licked his lips nervously.

 

“Thirsty, Chief?”

 

Blair nodded. “Yeah. Being NPO sucks.”

 

NPO, meant nothing by mouth, as Jim had been informed. So, not only was Blair thirsty, not having anything to drink after midnight, he was also getting antsy. The anxiety made the younger man’s mouth dry and that just made him more upset.

 

Jim smiled in sympathy when Blair gave his stomach a surreptitious scratch. The soon-to-be pregnant man’s abdomen had been shaved in anticipation of the surgery and was probably itching by now.

 

Blair swallowed hard and gave Jim a quick grin. Ellison could see that his lover was trying to appear calm when in reality he was about to have a panic attack. Jim listened as Blair's pounding heartbeat spiked when someone rolled a cart down the hallway.

 

"Are you sure, Jim?" Blair asked in a cracking voice. "Because you know, man, these last few months have been a walk in the park compared to what it's going to be like when I'm knocked up." Blair licked his lips nervously and darted a glance towards the hospital door like he was expecting a dragon to emerge from it.

 

"Chief, are you having second thoughts? It's not too late if you are. I know the doctor would be all right with it." Jim brushed his fingers across Blair’s forehead and watched as the azure eyes calmed a little.

 

“No,” Blair said, a little too loudly and a little too forcefully, to be completely believable.

 

Jim arched an eyebrow at his husband and Blair gave a little, nervous laugh. “Chief?”

 

“No, really Jim.” Blair took a deep, settling breath and continued. “I still want to do this. I just wish we could get it over with.”

 

Ellison agreed. The waiting was the hardest part. He knew his time of waiting was going to be a lot longer, but for Blair it had to be especially nerve wracking.

 

“It’s okay, Chief,” Jim told him in a soothing voice. “This is just like every other time you’ve been in the hospital.”

 

Blair nodded and flicked a glance at the door nervously. “Uh huh. But see, Jim, I’ve never had surgery before.”

 

Jim frowned at the new information. “You haven’t.”

 

“Nope. The closest I’ve come to really being in the hospital was when I broke my arm as a kid.” Blair shrugged. “And the couple of times I’ve hit my head. But they were all in and out visits.”

 

“Except for the time when you were poisoned with the Golden,” Jim reminded him. The Sentinel winced at his own insensitivity at mentioning that terrible time to the already stressed Blair.

 

Blair patted Ellison’s hand, reassuring him this time. “Yeah, but I don’t remember much about that time. I was out of it most of the time.”

 

Jim took a deep breath and tried to banish the images that they had conjured up. ‘Out of it’ was a nice way of saying that Blair had been in a coma.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim tried to keep Blair calm, but nothing seemed to help. Time drug on and the expected surgery time passed without a word. Intellectually, they both knew that some surgeries went on longer than planned, or an emergency could have pushed back Blair’s time, but that didn’t help calm either of them down. Blair was almost in tears by the time they come for him and Jim was about to take his lover out of the hospital and forget the whole thing.

 

“Here we go.” The orderly and a harried looking nurse both hurried into the room. And not a moment too soon.

 

“What’s taken so long?” Jim asked with as much patience as he could muster.

 

The nurse looked up in surprise, like she’d never had anyone question her before. “The last procedure took longer than the doctor thought it would. This is all routine.” She waved a hand negligently.

 

“Not to us it isn’t,” Jim ground out. Someone could have told them there was a problem, kept them informed at least.

 

“Didn’t someone inform you of the delay?” She frowned at him and then gave the shaking Blair a hard look. Blair gave a quick shake of his head. “I-I’m sorry about that.” Under her breath, Ellison heard the nurse muttering about kicking someone’s ass for that and had to smile.

 

Blair was quickly and efficiently transferred to the gurney. The i.v., that a nurse had started not long after they arrived, was attached to the pole on the moving bed and they were off.

 

Jim frowned at the way his lover’s heart rate shot up. He followed along beside the gurney as they made their way to the surgery suite. With every step closer that they got, the faster Blair’s heart began to beat. Ellison shook his head and made them stop wheeling Blair off.

 

“Wait a minute,” he ordered.

 

The nurse and orderly frowned at him, not liking the delay in their already lagging schedule. Jim didn’t give a damn about them or their schedule, however. All he cared about at this moment was his lover who was about to have an anxiety attack.

 

“Blair, calm down.” He leaned down by Blair’s head and took the younger man’s hand into his own. Blair latched on to the proffered hand gratefully.

 

“Baby, it’s not too late, if you’ve changed your mind.”

 

Blair started crying, big silent tears that ran down either side of his face. Jim leaned down and held him tighter.

 

“I promise I won’t be mad or upset if you want to stop.” Jim knew in his heart he would be disappointed, because the baby was very real to him now. But Blair was the one who was going to have to go through so much.

 

“Blair? Jim?” Dr. Caroline McPhereson came out to see what was happening. The nurse had gone in to where she was scrubbing up for surgery to alert the doctor to the situation.

 

“Hello, doctor.” Jim was still holding his husband, sheltering him from inquisitive eyes.

 

“Hi,” she said with a soothing smile on her face.

 

Blair gave her a tremulous smile back. It was obvious that he was trying to stop crying, but couldn’t. “Hey,” he whispered.

 

“Scared?” she asked.

 

“Y-yeah,” Blair admitted. This admission cost him the loss of his hard won control and he started crying harder again.

 

The doctor turned back to her nurse and ordered a mild sedative while Jim kept trying to calm Blair back down. In just a couple of minutes, Caroline had the syringe with the medicine in it and had administered the shot, via Blair’s i.v.

 

“Just give the meds a few minutes and you should be feeling better. I’m sorry that we’ve been delayed. There was an emergency ahead of us.”

 

"I understand." Blair blinked his eyes several times and looked around, embarrassed at having fallen apart in front of an audience.

 

"Blair, you don’t have to go through with the surgery, if you've changed your mind. We can either postpone or cancel the procedure altogether." She smiled at him reassuringly. "No one will think any less of you, I assure you."

 

"Jim, have you changed your mind?" Blair asked.

 

 "No, Chief. I definitely still want the baby. But Blair, you are the one who will have to have more than one surgery, not me."

 

The sedative began to take affect and Blair relaxed onto the gurney. He took several deep breaths and centered himself while he thought over what Jim and the doctor had said. He was able to calm down and think straight. Not having the surgery would be great, but that would also mean no baby, and Blair wanted that baby. He wanted him or her so much he could taste it.

 

"I'm ready now," Blair stated.

 

Jim double checked and so did the doctor. "Are you sure, Chief?"

 

"Yes, Jim. I'm okay now. I guess I just freaked out for a minute there." Blair smiled at them both. He was still shaky, but sure.

 

"Okay, Chief," Jim whispered as he bent down and gave the younger man a kiss on the lips.

 

He turned and watched as Blair was taken through the double doors back into the area with the operating rooms. Over the back of the bed, Blair's bright hair could be seen longer than anything else.

 

+-+-+-

 

Now came the part that Jim always hated; he went out to wait.

 

The Sentinel tried not to pace. Doing so made him feel like every bad cliché about expectant fathers.

 

He tried not to stare the clock to death either. It wasn't the poor clock's fault that every second seemed like an eternity.

 

Jim did his best not to use his senses to keep track of how Blair was doing. There wasn't anything he could do if something went wrong and, in fact, he was more likely to zone out, what with all the other distractions, and be a burden to Blair when he didn't need any more problems.

 

The surgery was considered to be on the low to moderate side, danger wise. The incision was going to be fairly small, only about 1 ½ inches long, but still abdominal surgery. If all went well, Blair would only need to stay overnight for observation. And they were only doing that because this was still a fairly new procedure.

 

Less than an hour later Dr. McPhereson walked back into the room. The big smile on her face made Jim sag in relief.

 

"Everything went fine," were the first words out of her mouth, before she even got fully into the room. "Blair is in recovery right now and will probably be back in his room in another hour or so."

 

"There weren't any problems?"

 

"No, it went very smoothly.”

 

"Thank you." Jim shook the doctor's hand. "For everything you've done."

 

"No problem." They both knew that Jim was acknowledging her help with Blair before the surgery, as well as the surgery itself.

 

Caroline left to go help her next patient and Jim went back to waiting. But this time it was with an easier heart.

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair was resting later and Jim was sitting by his bed, waiting for the younger man to wake up.

 

Ellison heard the sheet rustling a little and sat up straighter. "Blair?" he inquired.

 

"Jim." Blair opened his eyes and gave his husband a drowsy smile.

 

"The surgery was a success," Jim told Blair.

 

"Good," was Blair's only comment as he went back to sleep.

 

At Blair's insistence, Jim went home that night to sleep. The Sentinel didn't rest very well though, not without his mate and Guide nearby.

 

In the hospital, Blair's sleep was better, because of the pain medication, but he too missed his husband's warm presence by his side.

 

+-+-+-

 

The next day at noon, Blair was sitting up eating his lunch when Jim arrived. He'd come by early that morning to give his lover a kiss before heading to the station. Now, he was back again to take Blair home. The following day, Jim would go back to the station. They had decided that if Blair rested on the couch, he could stay by himself at the loft while Jim went back to work.

 

"Hey, Chief."

 

"Hi, Jim." Blair gave a little wave with his spoon. The younger man was sitting up in the hospital bed eating his lunch; a clear liquid diet, consisting of broth, juice, tea and jello.

 

"How are you feeling, babe?"

 

Blair smiled at the endearment. "Not too bad," he said. A moment later he grimaced at the sharp pain in his abdomen, but it only lasted a moment. "Gas," he explained with an embarrassed grimace.

 

"Ah." Jim nodded. He knew that excess gas was a problem after abdominal surgery.

 

"How's that McMartin case going?" Blair asked while he continued to eat. The doctor wanted him to eat this meal before he was dismissed from the hospital.

 

"So-so." Jim waggled his hand back and forth in demonstration. "Her lawyers are fighting us every step of the way. And Judge Halibrant isn't helping anything."

 

"Of course not. He and Mr. McMartin are good friends. He's not going to help put his best friend's wife in the electric chair." Blair frowned at the blue jello. He wasn't hungry anymore. And...damn...there was another pain in his side.

 

"True," Jim agreed with him. He was keeping a close watch on his husband, not having missed even one of the painful grimaces. "He should have recused himself from the case."

 

"Yeah, but when...ungh!" Blair's spoon fell to the tray with a clatter.

 

This time the pain had a bite to it. It wasn’t as easy to dismiss as the already diminishing pain from the surgery had been. Blair frowned and touched the bandage through his thin hospital gown.

 

“Chief?” Jim naturally noticed the movement. “What’s wrong? Your heartbeat just jumped.”

 

“I had a really sharp pain just then,” Blair admitted.

 

“Maybe you need to use the pump.” Jim gestured to the PCA pump beside Blair’s bed.

 

The machine was there so that he could self administer his own pain medicine and therefore not be too drugged or in too much pain. It was a vast improvement over the old method of getting a large shot every 4 hours. That method left you drugged out of your mind at first and really hurting by the time the next shot came around. With the Patient Controlled Analgesic pump, you got smaller doses, but could administer them every 15 minutes or so.

 

“I know you don’t like taking drugs, but there’s no sense hurting.”

 

“You’re right,” Blair admitted. “But if I need pain meds the doctor isn't going to let me go home, and I’m just kind of surprised. I haven’t needed to use it much up to this point, so why am I hurting so much now.”

 

“Is it getting worse?”

 

“Uh, yeah,” Blair admitted reluctantly. He gasped as another, even sharper pain hit. The grad student could feel sweat on his forehead and goose bumps breaking out all over his body.

 

Jim got up from his chair beside the bed and leaned over the bed. He took one look at Blair’s face and pushed the red button that buzzed the nurse’s station.

 

“Blair?!”

 

Blair cried out as the pain built. He could hear Jim talking to the nurse over the intercom, but couldn’t concentrate on what they were saying. The young man doubled over, trying to hold the pain in. Jim’s hand joined his to cup over the wound.

 

+-+-+-

 

Ellison was horrified to realize that he could, heaven help him, feel Blair’s abdomen getting bigger by the second. He didn’t know whether to lay Blair down or if that would only make things worse.

 

"Oh...god!" Blair cried out.

 

Matters were taken out of his hands moments later. One of the nurses came rushing in, Jim had been, uhm, a little vocal when he’d called for help. She took one look at the situation and raced straight back out.

 

Blair was gasping, obviously trying not to scream, when the nurse, and a whole heluva lot more people, came pouring back in. The rolling table was shoved to one side, causing Blair's lunch tray to slide off onto the floor with a bang. The head of the bed was quickly lowered. Blair cried out at the sudden movement and tried to turn to his side, the instinctive need to curl around the pain fighting against the people who were trying to help him.

 

Jim tried to resist being separated from Blair, but was no match for the sheer number of people who got between them. Before the Sentinel knew what was happening, he was standing outside Blair’s closed hospital door. Not to be left out, Jim dialed up his hearing and tried to listen in. Only he couldn't filter out one person from the other, not with all the people talking, and him not knowing who to actually listen to.

 

The door burst open and Blair's bed came rushing out. Blair was moaning and clutching at the sheets on his bed. One of the people who was running alongside the moving bed, had her hand clamped tightly against the surgery site. Jim ran up, pushed a couple of people out of the way, and grabbed hold of one of Blair's hands. The young man was in so much pain that he didn't even realize Jim was there.

 

The Sentinel tried to stay calm, but it wasn't easy. He could smell blood and knew that something was seriously wrong with his lover.

 

The group of people raced down the hallway and into an emergency room cubicle. Jim was again pushed back and reluctantly let go of Blair's hand. He didn't want to get in the way of them helping the younger man.

 

"What's happening?" Jim snatched hold of the sleeve of one of the doctor's lab coats, stopping the man from following the others in. "I'm his husband, tell me what's wrong," Ellison insisted.

 

Dr. Martin--Jim noted his name tag without thought--gently, but firmly, pulled the detective over to one of the waiting room chairs. That way the older man wasn't in the way, but he could still see the area where they were working on Blair.

 

"Something is wrong with the incision," he explained.

 

Jim's eyes widened in panic and he flicked a wild, terrified look over to where he could see the shadows of people working frantically through the closed curtain. "The incision?"

 

"Yes. We don't know what's going on yet. I know that Dr. McPhereson has been contacted and is on her way down. Luckily, she was in the hospital doing rounds, so it shouldn't be a few minutes."

 

Blair screamed and Jim jumped up, about to race in and help his husband himself. Martin jumped up as well and grabbed hold of Jim by the arms, stopping him, at least for the moment, from racing into the cubicle.

 

"Wait! He's in good hands. Dr. Powell is one of the best emergency room trauma doctors in the city." Jim looked the other man in the eye, checking for any hint of deception. There wasn't any. That, and seeing Caroline rushing past them, calmed Jim down more than anything else could. Other than seeing Blair that is.

 

"Do you swear?" Jim whispered intently.

 

"I swear to you that he is in excellent hands and everything that can be done, is being done," he said intently.

 

"Okay," Jim sat back down reluctantly.

 

Deciding that Jim would stay where he was, the doctor hurried back to help. Metal rollers clacked loudly when the curtain was opened and then closed again behind him.

 

Extending his hearing, Jim followed as much of what was going on as he could. It didn't take long to realize that Blair had been given anesthesia. The Sentinel closed his eyes in relief. He'd been worried when he couldn't hear Blair, although he was glad that he wasn't crying out in pain anymore.

 

Looking over at the clock, Jim was stunned to realize that it was just now one o'clock. It had been less than an hour ago that he'd arrived to take Blair home.

 

"I'm late for work."

 

Jim glanced around and found a courtesy phone on the far wall. The Please limit phone calls to 15 minutes sign stared him in the face as he waited for the captain to pick up.

 

"Banks." Simon's voice startled Jim who had been standing there in a daze.

 

"Uh, it's me, Simon. I, uh, wanted to let you know that I won't be in this afternoon."

 

There was complete silence. "Jim, you had the afternoon off anyway, to take Blair home," Simon reminded him.

 

"Oh...yeah." Ellison had forgotten. He stood there, staring stupidly at the push button numbers.

 

"Jim, what's happened?"

 

"I'm not sure," Jim said in a small voice. "I was talking to him and then he was hurting. There were people running around, Blair was screaming and I smelled blood. Oh god, Simon, he was bleeding."

 

"Oh my heavens," Simon exclaimed. "Hang on, I'll be right there. Where are you now?"

 

"In the E.R. waiting room."

 

"Okay. Listen. Go sit back down. I'm on my way." Simon spoke as calmly as he could, but Jim could hear his racing heartbeat through the phone line.

 

"Right." He hung up and went back to his chair to wait. He hadn't really paid attention to his conversation with Simon. All that Jim could remember was that his friend was on the way.

 

Jim looked at the clock again. 'Thirty minutes,' he thought to himself. 'Just thirty minutes ago I was talking with Blair and everything was great, but now... Blair could die.' That realization hit Jim for the first time. 'Blair could die because of this.'

 

+-+-+-

 

Simon arrived, very out of breath, and saw Jim sitting, unmoving. For a moment, the captain was afraid that the detective had zoned out.

 

"Any word yet?" he puffed out.

 

"Huh?" Jim looked at the captain like he didn't know who he was.

 

Banks frowned. Jim was in shock. Patting the Sentinel on the arm, Simon got back up and poured a cup of coffee from the complimentary urn. He added several packets of sugar and brought it back to his friend.

 

"Drink this, Jim."

 

The detective took the cup and drank automatically. After a few sips he grimaced at the extra sweet taste and tried to set it down.

 

"No, you need to drink it all." Jim frowned at him, but kept drinking. He also kept looking at a curtained area. Banks assumed that Blair was behind there, being worked on.

 

The two men didn’t say anything as they waited for news. Time crept on slowly. A second was a minute and a minute an hour, so by the time 33 more minutes had passed, empires had risen and fallen in their never-ending limbo.

 

Clack. Clack. Clack.

 

Jim was on his feet by the time the curtains had parted enough to let Dr. McPhereson pass through. She gestured for Jim to follow her into another, empty cubicle. Simon hesitated.

 

“Come on.” Ellison waved at him to follow.

 

Caroline gave Jim a tight smile, barely more than a quirk of the lips really. “Blair’s going to be alright now.”

 

Simon gave a sharp gasp. Jim, however, couldn’t seem to trust the information and remained tense. The tiny muscle in the corner of his jaw twitched as he clenched his mouth.

 

“What happened?” Simon asked, breaking the tension when Jim couldn’t seem to say anything.

 

“Blair’s womb implant malfunctioned and started opening,” the doctor told them.

 

Simon winced. “Ouch.”

 

“Oh my…” Jim turned decidedly pale. He swallowed hard and Simon grabbed his elbow when the detective’s legs threatened to give out under him. The doctor took hold of Jim’s other arm, and together, she and Simon sat Ellison down.

 

“I-it was only supposed to expand as the baby grew and at tiny increments at a time,” Jim protested.

 

“I know,” she admitted. “There was a faulty switch. It began to expand rapidly…”

 

“He was being ripped open, from the inside out,” Jim concluded.

 

Simon flinched at that notion and the doctor nodded tiredly. “Essentially, yes.”

 

“We’ve replaced the womb implant…” Jim’s head snapped up at that, fear replacing worry on his face. “The new implant was checked out four times before we even thought about putting the new one back in Blair. The one that malfunctioned was a fluke, none of the other implants have ever had a problem.”

 

“So…you don’t think there’s anything to worry about?” Simon asked.

 

“No,” she said firmly. “The implant has successfully anchored itself inside his abdomen and is already showing signs of attaching itself and setting up a blood supply.

However, I want to keep Blair in the hospital for 3-4 more days, just to be on the safe side,” she reassured the Sentinel.

 

“Okay.” Jim nodded to the woman and she got up to see her other patients.

 

Simon stood up and gestured to his friend. “Come on. Let’s go see what the cafeteria’s coffee is like. It’ll be a little while until Blair is back in his room again.”

 

Jim nodded. “You’re right.” He followed behind his friend. “Thanks for coming, Simon.”

 

“No problem, Jim,” Simon reassured him.

 

+-+-+-

 

Back at the room, Jim sat by the bed and watched his young husband sleeping. Blair looked awful. His skin was gray and he was pale around the mouth. There was a nasal cannula tucked under his nose; the clear plastic tubing giving him a little help with his breathing.

 

A couple of monitors had been added since Blair came back; a heart monitor--strictly a precaution the doctor assured him--and something that resembled a fetal monitor. It was there to keep a check on the womb implant, again, just as a precaution.

 

The tiny opening that had been left, through which the fertilization would take place later, was quite a bit bigger than it had been. This area had a tube that was acting as a drain, so they would know if any infection set in.

 

Simon had left earlier, saying he needed to get back to the station. He told Jim to take the next couple of days off, knowing that there was no way he'd feel safe leaving Blair now.

 

Blair moaned in his sleep, something he’d done a few times in the last half hour. Jim figured that meant his lover was finally going to wake all the way up. He had mixed feelings about that. On the one hand he was thrilled that Blair was going to be conscious again, but on the other hand, he’d most likely be in a lot of pain.

 

“…jim?”

 

Ellison stood up quickly and picked up Blair’s hand, being mindful of the i.v. stuck in the back of it. He leaned over the railing and got as close to the younger man as he could.

 

“I’m here, Chief.”

 

“hurts,” Blair whispered. He winced as the pain from his surgery site began to spread.

 

“I know, babe. Here.” Jim placed the button for the pump in Blair’s hand. “Here are your pain meds.”

 

Blair pushed the button and finally opened his eyes. He looked at Jim questioningly and tried to lick his lips.

 

“Hang on, Blair.” Jim picked up the ice bucket and scraped a few chips of ice into a small cup. Using the plastic spoon on the table, the Sentinel placed a few slivers of ice in Blair’s mouth.

 

Blair savored the infinitesimal amounts of liquid that were sliding down his throat like they were the most expensive wine in the world. Silently he opened his mouth and let Jim put in a few more pieces.

 

“What happened?” Blair’s voice sounded stronger.

 

Ellison told the younger man about the equipment failure. Blair’s brow furrowed as he listened to the news.

 

“So…no baby?”

 

“What?” Jim thought for a moment. “Oh, no, Chief. She put in a new womb implant. We’ll still be able to have the baby.”

 

Blair sighed in relief. “A baby. Good.” The pain medication was kicking in, causing Blair’s answers to be less than witty.

 

“Simon said to tell you to stop messing around,” Jim said jokingly.

 

Blair smiled and nodded. He knew the gruff captain was a friend. “You called him?” he asked drowsily.

 

“Yes, and he came over and waited with me. For moral support.”

 

“That’s nice. I’m glad you didn’t have to go through this ordeal all on your own.”

 

Jim’s shoulders slumped. He couldn’t believe that Blair was more concerned about him at this point.

 

“No, Chief. I wasn’t alone,” he said quietly. Blair didn’t hear him, as he was already asleep. “I’m never alone when I have you,” he whispered.

 

Ellison sat back down in his recliner/cot and leaned back. He needed to rest himself if he was going to be in any shape to take care of Blair when he came home.

 

Reaching through the metal railing, Jim gave Blair’s hand one last pat before settling down. Even as sleep pulled him under, the Sentinel kept a close eye on his husband.

 

Chapter 8

 

Blair followed Jim into Hargrove Hall, all the way to his office, with the older man walking slightly in front, like he was guarding Blair. The younger man thought about the situation for a moment and started to giggle uncontrollably.

 

“Chief? What’s so funny?” Jim asked. He turned and slowed down, waiting for Blair to catch up with him

 

“Are we going steady now?” Blair asked with a fake flutter of his eyelashes.

 

“What?” Jim laughed/asked.

 

“Well…you did carry my school bag for me.” Blair leaned against Jim’s side and gazed up adoringly. “So, we must be going steady.”

 

Ellison laughed at the sappy look on Blair’s face and wrapped an arm around his husband’s shoulder. “Yes, I’ll give you my letterman’s jacket when I walk you home from school today.”

 

“Awwww, that’s sooo sweet.”

 

Finally, Blair couldn’t hold it in any longer. He turned in Jim’s loose embrace and began to laugh into the detective’s shoulder. Jim quickly, and happily, joined him.

 

It had been five weeks since Blair’s mishap with the womb implant. This was the first day the anthropologist was allowed to go back to the university. He wasn’t allowed back to the rougher atmosphere of the station for at least three more weeks though.

 

Blair still wasn’t allowed to carry or lift anything very heavy, certainly nothing over 10 pounds. His backpack, containing his laptop and several text books, well exceeded the limit, hence Jim taking him to school and carrying his pack.

 

Several people waved to Blair as they walked down the hallway. Friends, colleagues and students alike seemed happy to have the anthropologist back. Several inquiries about Blair's health were made as they went along.

 

As of yet, no one knew about the planned pregnancy. Jim and Blair had decided to wait a little longer before telling people. The problem with the womb implant had worried them both and they didn't want to go to the hassle of informing people that Blair was going to be preggers until he actually was.

 

So, as far as everyone, other than Simon that is, knew was that Blair had had surgery, but they didn't know what kind. They also knew that there had been a complication. Rumors were running rampant over the campus. Some people thought Blair had been hurt helping Ellison and the police were covering it up for publicity’s sake. Others thought that Blair was really sick, like with cancer, and covering it up for campus politics’ sake. A very few of the more malicious, and jealous, figured that Jim was worried about Blair getting some girl pregnant and had made him have a vasectomy.

 

The many and varied rumors of Blair's sexual explorations with numerous women over the years was really very humorous. Not only was Blair gay and married, but he had never had the time or money to date in the first place. The few people that Blair had been interested in wouldn't have been brought back to the grad student's warehouse, in its extremely dangerous and frightening neighborhood.

 

Jim snorted and Blair looked up at his husband inquiringly. "What, man?"

 

"Kevin Townsend thinks you've had a bad vasectomy," Ellison informed him.

 

Blair giggled. "Talk about having the wrong end of the stick," he said with a grin.

 

The Sentinel held the door open for Blair and then followed the younger man into his office. "No kidding." He gave the closed door a thoughtful look. "Do you think he'll be a problem when the truth comes out?"

 

"I don't know," Blair admitted. "I'm not sure how anybody's going to react."

 

The anthropologist sat down behind his desk and patted the wood in satisfaction. It was good to be back.

 

"Hmmmm." Jim decided to ignore the problem for now, not wanting to upset Blair on his first day back at work. He'd keep an eye out for any troublemakers when the time came.

 

"Here you go, Teach." Ellison sat the backpack on Blair's desk and smacked the Guide's hands away when he reached for it. "Nuh uh," he admonished. "Let me get that for you."

 

Blair sat back with a smile and let himself be pampered. He didn't make a comment as Jim got out his laptop and textbooks. Separately they were well below the weight limit still imposed on him, but if it made Jim feel better, Blair wasn't going to say a thing.

 

"Thanks, Big Guy. If you are a good boy, you can be teacher's pet." Blair stood up and leaned over the desk, smiling naughtily.

 

"Oh really? Will I get extra credit?" Jim teased back.

 

"Hmmm, certainly...if you put in that extra work."

 

Jim pulled Blair into an embrace, sliding one hand down to squeeze a butt cheek. "How's that?" he asked huskily.

 

Blair panted breathlessly into his neck as an answer. "Not bad. Needs a little more work though."

 

Ellison smacked him on the butt, making Blair start. Shaking his head at his husband, Jim took a half-step back.

 

"Okay...sir. I'll do some of that extra work tonight."

 

Blair grinned delightedly at the prospect.

 

+-+-+-

 

As Jim was leaving the university, he passed by Kevin Townsend and decided a little reconnaissance was in order. Alright…truthfully, the Sentinel used his senses to find the possible troublemaker and made sure he was accidentally outside the library when the young man exited.

 

Townsend jumped back a good two feet when he literally ran into Jim. The student had been looking at a book for his computer class and not paying attention to where he was going. Ellison snagged hold of Kevin’s jacket, keeping him upright, or the young man would have fallen on his butt on the cold concrete.

 

“You better watch where you’re going there, son.” Jim’s smile didn’t reassure the student. In fact, the predatory gleam in Ellison’s eyes had the young man backing up even further.

 

“Uh, yeah. S-sorry. It was all my fault. I guess I wasn’t paying attention,” Kevin stuttered.

 

“Uhmmm,” Jim agreed, nodding his head. “That can be dangerous. You wouldn’t want to get hurt would you?”

 

The rumormonger swallowed hard at the veiled threat and shook his head. “No, I wouldn’t.”

 

“I don’t blame you.” Jim smiled again. “I’d hate for anything bad to happen.”

 

Kevin nodded his head quickly, several times, like one of those bobble-head dolls. “Yes, sir. I mean, no sir.” His darted his gaze around quickly, looking for help. “I hope Professor Sandburg is doing better.”

 

“He is.” Jim gave another fake smile and clapped Kevin on the back. “Thank you for asking. As a matter of fact, I’m hoping you can help me,” Ellison stated with as much sincerity as he could muster up.

 

“O-of course.” Kevin’s eyes couldn’t possibly get any bigger and the stench of sweat and fear rolling off of him in waves was making the Sentinel’s eyes water.

 

“Some people have been spreading nasty rumors about Blair.” He paused, letting that seep into the young man’s brain. “I hope I can count on you to quash anything ugly being said about my husband.”

 

Jim was wrong, Kevin’s eyes did manage to grow. Or maybe it was just how pale his face had become in comparison.

 

“Yes, sir. I will,” he whispered.

 

“Good. I’m glad we’ve come to an agreement.”

 

This time the detective’s smile was sincere. He knew that Kevin would not forget this meeting any time soon. Any future threat from him towards Blair had been nipped before it could blossom.

 

Chapter 9

 

It took six tries at fertilization before Blair actually became pregnant.

 

Dr. McPhereson insisted that they wait for six full months after the womb implant before they even try impregnating him. Blair had faunched at the bit over the delay, but Jim had been secretly and finally, quite vocally, glad of the delay. The younger man's body had been through enough trauma already without pushing the process.

 

Blair had finally agreed, not that he had much choice in the matter. If the doctor wouldn't go to the next step, he just had to wait and be patient. Blair waited, but he wasn't at all patient.

 

The first month went off without a hitch, despite how nervous and scared Jim was. There was no repeat of the womb implant debacle.

 

Jim’s DNA and Blair’s DNA were combined and inserted into a large bore needle that was itself inserted in the small place that had been left open on Blair’s side, in a sort of shunt. Several donor eggs, which had been “neutralized” of their original DNA structure, were already inside of the womb implant, awaiting fertilization.

 

Unfortunately, nothing happened.

 

The second month was basically a repeat of the first without any more success than their first attempt had been. And so on.

 

One year to the day of his implant surgery, Blair went in for another attempt. He was beginning to worry, and with good reason. If this impregnation did not take, they would have to do more surgery to put additional eggs in the womb. Blair wasn’t certain that Jim would let him risk further surgery.

 

+-+-+-+-

 

“So, who can tell me the importance of storytellers in tribal culture?”

 

Blair smiled at the number of hands that were suddenly thrust in the air. As a teacher it was gratifying to see that many enthusiastic, and hopefully correct, pupils.

 

"Alright..." He glanced around and pointed at the far right-hand side of the room. "Sarah." He selected her, because she was shy and normally didn't talk very much in class. For her to be participating was wonderful.

 

"Storytellers are important because they preserve the culture and heritage of whatever tribe they represent."

 

Blair leaned on the podium and strained to hear her quiet voice. "Very good, Sarah," he praised. The young woman blushed at the compliment and quickly sat back down. "What are some examples of ancient storytellers in our own modern day culture?"

 

Blank faces looked back at him. He waited, giving them a chance to think. Finally someone raised a tentative hand.

 

"Yes?" he encouraged.

 

"Movies, books and television?" Timothy, a tall, skinny young man, with more hair than Blair, asked more than said.

 

"Exactly."

 

Timothy grinned happily. Across the room another student added a comment and a good debate was started. Before he knew it the class was over and Blair was gathering up his notes to leave. Several students lingered, asking questions and adding comments. They all seemed unwilling for the lively class discussion to end.

 

As he turned to leave, a wave of warmth washed over him, leaving the teacher dizzy. Luckily, he was close enough to the door frame so he didn't fall. Timothy caught hold of his arm when he saw Blair falter.

 

"Are you okay, Professor?"

 

"Yes, I'm fine. Thank you." Blair reassured him.

 

And it wasn't a lie, at least not at that moment. After the dizziness passed, he felt fine again...at least until he was about halfway back to his office. That's when the nausea hit. He made it to the bathroom stall, just barely.

 

Afterwards, he staggered back to his office and slumped down in the plush black leather chair that Jim had given him as a present when he'd gotten his doctorate. The leather was as soft as butter and he sunk into its softness with a groan. Blair was fairly certain he'd just thrown up his breakfast...from the day before.

 

Blair grabbed up his trash can, leaned over and threw up again. His stomach muscles protested the abuse, especially when he was sick a third time just a few minutes later.

 

"I think I saw bits of my socks in there," Blair quipped. "I'm thinking that my tuna fish sandwich wasn't the freshest in the world."

 

He hunched over as his stomach quivered dangerously again. Luckily this time the nausea passed. Holding one hand over his mouth and nose, and keeping the trashcan as far away from his body as his other arm could manage it, Blair carted off the evidence of his illness.

 

The anthropologist looked at the long line--meaning none--outside his door and decided to blow off office hours a little early--meaning about three hours ahead of time. He figured that any students needing advice could wait until tomorrow. Right now he didn't give a crap.

 

+-+-+-+-

 

"Blair."

 

The man in question turned and gave Jack Kelso a small wave. He waited while the other professor caught up, Kelso quickly and efficiently navigating his wheelchair down the path.

 

"Hey, Jack. How are you doin?"

 

"I can't complain." Kelso smiled up at Blair. "But you don't look good. Are you okay?" the dark haired man asked with a worried frown.

 

"Yeah." Blair waved off the concern. "Just ate something that didn't agree with me."

 

The two men continued on towards the car lot. For once Blair didn't have to slow his pace so the handicapped man wouldn't have to strain to keep up. Blair felt ragged enough that Kelso was the one who was going slower.

 

"Oh, before I forget it," Jack reached back and pulled his backpack off the handlebars of his chair, where he carried it. "I've got those papers you were asking about."

 

Blair leaned against the Volvo and waited while the older man rummaged through the bulging bag. "That's great man. I want to write a paper on the Orragu civilization for Anthropological World." The journal in question was a very prestigious monthly publication and it was an honor to be asked to contribute.

 

Kelso nodded. "I lived with them for over two years when I worked for the CIA. They were certainly a unique group of people."

 

Sandburg nodded enthusiastically. "Oh yeah, man. It's not very often that you find a culture that is absolutely pure, not tainted by the rest of the world whatsoever."

 

Jack nodded and smiled at Blair's enthusiasm. He handed over the papers, which consisted of his notes and field journal from those two years. Minus the CIA related material, of course.

 

"Thanks for this, man. Your first hand knowledge will give me a big leg up."

 

"I'm glad to help. Take care now."

 

"Uh huh, I will," Blair answered absentmindedly, already looking the papers over eagerly.

 

Kelso waved good bye and wheeled off.

 

+-+-+-

 

The nausea lasted for another couple of days and then faded away, until Blair only felt a brief fluttering once in a while. He quickly forgot the instance, dismissing it as relatively unimportant.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim's eyes popped open. He quickly scanned the room, trying to determine what had woken him in the middle of the night. The Sentinel extended his senses, and nothing seemed to be out of place in the rest of the loft.

 

He couldn't smell anything extraordinary; no smoke or gas or anything dangerous. Just the trash, he realized with a crinkling of his nose. 'I need to take that out in the morning.'

 

There weren't any extraneous sounds, like an intruder or... Wait, there was a new sound.

 

Jim heard a heartbeat, a very fast heartbeat.

 

He carefully rolled Blair onto his back, from the spoon position he'd been in, in front of Jim. Ellison placed his hand over Blair's chest, over his heart, afraid that Blair was sick. Some of the hormones he'd been taking had made Blair's heart race. But no, Jim decided that his husband's heart felt normal and slow, like someone who was asleep.

 

The Sentinel frowned and sat up. If Blair was alright, then whose heart was racing?

 

He got out of bed and looked around the room, trying to figure it out. Blair felt Jim leave their bed and woke up in time to see Jim sneaking downstairs. The younger man followed his husband, both to guide him and to be backup if necessary.

 

The detective turned to watch Blair descending the stairs. It dawned on Jim that the sound, which had grown softer, was getting louder again, the closer Blair got. With a gasp, he finally figured it out. Without a word, Jim walked over to meet Blair in the middle of the living room and sank to his knees.

 

Blair was mesmerized by what Jim was doing. The Sentinel was acting freaky and that kind of odd behavior tended to lead to bad things happening. A brief flash of Alex's face crossed Blair's mind. She'd been the one thing that had almost broken he and Jim apart. Luckily, Jim had shared his dream where he shot the wolf. Together, they had realized that Alex was the danger and arrested the out-of-control Sentinel.

 

The observer watched in amazement as Jim dropped to his knees and pressed his ear to Blair's flat tummy. Jim's short hair brushed gently against the long t-shirt Blair wore to bed.

 

Laying one hand on Jim's shoulder, Blair asked, "Jim, man, what're you doing?"

 

"Listening to our baby," Jim said quietly.

 

Blair sucked in a surprised breath. "B-baby?" he gasped out.

 

Jim nodded, his head rubbing Blair, and their baby. He wrapped his arms around Blair's hips reverently. Soft, warm tears ran down Blair's face, they matched the ones on his tummy that Jim had shed on their new miracle.

 

+-+-+-

 

Another big event happened at around this time. Jim let the doctor know about his senses. It wasn't deliberate, letting someone else know his secret. No, it was an accident really.

 

He really shouldn’t have blurted out that he knew Blair was pregnant, the second they walked in the door. Dr. McPhereson, amazingly enough, didn’t seem very surprised by the revelation. Blair later confided to Jim that he figured she knew a Sentinel, even though she probably didn’t know about Burton’s work.

 

So, all in all, what under normal circumstances would be a major event…sort of fell into the background, as Blair’s pregnancy was confirmed.

 

Chapter 10

 

Telling their friends about the good news was verrry interesting.

 

Joel had looked as happy as could be. Considering that he looked upon the anthropologist almost like an adopted son, this wasn't particularly surprising. Henri had stared at Blair's stomach, open mouthed, for several minutes before finally congratulating them. Rafe had acted like the news was no big surprise, but the Sentinel had detected a decided elevation in the younger cop's heart beat and knew he was bluffing.

 

Simon looked embarrassed, Jim was interested to note.

 

All in all, there were a lot of shocked people, but not much in the way of negative feedback, even at the university. Jim grinned to himself.

 

'I guess my little talk with Kevin Townsend worked out better than I thought.'

 

+-+-+-

 

“Hey, guys.”

 

Jim watched guardedly as his friends, his very large friends swarmed towards Blair and his special delivery. The Sentinel needn’t have worried though, because all four men were very conscious of Blair’s pregnant state and didn’t so much as jostle him.

 

“Oh, thanks Hairboy. I’m starving.” Brown ripped the sack open and pulled out his double deluxe Wonderburger, with a large order of fries.

 

“Gimme,” Rafe stated oh-so eloquently.

 

Blair snorted and backed away. “Man, you guys need to eat once in a while.”

 

“We would’ve, Chief, but the refrigerator in the break room died and everything in it is spoiled. All we had was the stale crap that’s in the vending machine.”

 

The anthropologist arched an eyebrow and look at the group of men in front of him. There was no way that any vending machine contents could measure up for these guys.

 

“What’s in there?” Jim asked, eyeing the bag of food in Blair’s hand.

 

“Food,” Blair quipped and grinned cheekily. He danced back when the detective reached for it.

 

“Smart alec,” Ellison said with a slight smile. “Now hand it over.”

 

“No! It’s mine.”

 

Jim looked at the paper sack. It wasn’t as big as the others that Blair had brought, but it was still good sized. The Sentinel watched in amazement as Blair began to unload his goodies.

 

Two double deluxe Wonderburgers were unearthed. Next came an extra-large order of French fries and a hefty bag of onion rings. A large soft drink and, what Jim’s Sentinel nose told him, was a strawberry milkshake. Ellison was about to comment when Blair dug into the sack again and laid out two fried pies, one cherry and an apple one.

 

Ellison was speechless. His healthy eating, ‘I’d rather have a salad than clog my arteries’ husband was eating enough grease to lube Jim’s truck. He looked over at the other Major Crimes detectives and saw that they were as awestruck as he was.

 

“You sure you haven’t missed anything there, Sandburg?” Simon asked with a little laugh.

 

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Blair answered seriously. The pregnant man snapped his fingers as if he’d remembered something. He pulled out a little tub of honey-mustard sauce and peeled off the foil top. Quickly dipping a French fry into the sauce, Blair answered the captain, “I had the hot fudge sundae on the way over here. The ice cream would never have survived this long.”

 

With that he began to inhale his dinner. Jim decided that this pregnancy was going to be one long, scary ride.

 

+-+-+-

 

On the ride home, Jim had to stop—twice—while Blair threw up by the side of the road.

 

Ellison winced as he held onto Blair’s waist and pulled his hair back so it wouldn’t get into the mess. He could almost feel the younger man’s stomach cramping up as it repeatedly tried to rid itself of the large meal Blair had eaten earlier.

 

“I-I think I’m through now,” Blair said shakily.

 

Jim leaned him back until Blair was resting against his chest. He pulled a handkerchief out of his back pocket and used it to wipe Blair’s mouth off.

 

“I’ve got some water in the truck,” Jim reminded his husband. “You can rinse your mouth out with that.”

 

Blair nodded, making his curly hair rub against Jim’s chin. For once, the effect wasn’t erotic. Jim was too worried about how sick Blair had been—and too conscious of the traffic that was whizzing by at 50 mph, less than 10 feet from where they were sitting on the pavement.

 

“Up you go then.”

 

The pregnant man’s legs wobbled dangerously for a moment, but there really wasn’t any fear of Jim letting his husband fall down. He turned Blair around, so that he was sitting on the truck seat, but facing out the door. Ellison reached in behind Blair’s back and pulled out the plastic bottle of water. Blair dutifully took a swallow, swished it around, and spit the liquid onto the ground.

 

Jim buckled Blair in, once he’d gotten facing the right way, and hurried around to his own side of the truck to climb in. Blair took small, careful sips of the water, waiting a pause after each drink to make sure it was going to stay down.

 

The Sentinel kept glancing over at Blair, even as he waited for a break in the traffic to pull back off the shoulder. Blair’s color was certainly better. It had gone from a nasty gray to his more normal light tan.

 

Blair smiled when Jim reached over and patted him on the knee. “How’re you doing, Chief?”

 

“Better. Much better.” The anthropologist rubbed his tummy a couple of circles. “In fact…I’m hungry.”

 

Jim looked over at his husband incredulously. ‘Yep, one scary ride.’

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair leaned his head against the cool window and tried to take several, deep and cleansing breaths. The September day was a hot one, even this early in the morning. Way too hot to make throwing up comfortable.

 

“Man, I’d like to know of any place or time that it’s good to throw up,” Blair groused out loud.

 

He was less than a mile from the loft and had already puked for the second time today. It seemed like he couldn’t keep food down for more than 15 minutes lately.

 

Blair rubbed his wrist. He’d tightened one of those seasickness bands so tight that it sometimes left bruises on his wrist. And still…not much help.*

 

The pregnant man shifted his hips back and forth on the sticky car seat, as if testing the waters. When the slight motion didn’t make him nauseous, Blair decided to make another run for the university.

 

“Who knows, I might actually get there before I barf again.” Blair shrugged philosophically. Such were the pitfalls of being pregnant.

 

He only made it three more miles before he had to stop again.

 

Chapter 11

 

~Round about month 2~

 

Blair was lying unconscious on the bathroom floor when Jim finally made it home that night. Or at least that’s what the Sentinel thought.

 

Jim had trudged up the three flights of stairs--the elevator being out again…naturally--only to drop the bag of apples, twice, outside the loft door. He chalked it up to too many long days and tried not to curse as he examined the now very bruised fruit.

 

“I’m home, Chief.”

 

There was no answer and Ellison frowned as he hung his jacket up on the hook by the door. Dialing up his hearing, the Sentinel knew that Blair was in the apartment. So…why wasn’t he answering?

 

“Chief?”

 

Glancing around, Ellison used his senses to locate his missing mate. He looked over and could see Blair’s feet through the partially open bathroom door.

 

He raced in and dropped to his knees beside his husband and examined the young man. Blair’s hair was stiff from sweating and his clothes were still slightly damp. The detective was almost overwhelmed by the stench of the vomit, but he was able to dial smell down enough to manage.

 

“Oh, crap. Hang on, Chief.” Jim had his cell phone out and was already dialing when Blair opened his eyes.

 

“jim,” Blair whispered.

 

Ellison snapped the cell phone shut. If Blair was conscious, he didn’t need an ambulance. “I’m here, babe.”

 

Blair swallowed and winced as his irritated throat protested. “water.”

 

The larger man got to his knees and filled one of the rinse cups with some cool water from the tap. He slid an arm under Blair’s shoulders and pulled him up.

 

“Small sips, Chief,” Jim instructed him.

 

Blair swished the water around in his mouth for a few seconds and then leaned over to spit it in the stool. Once his mouth was refreshed, the pregnant man took a miniscule sip of water.

 

“What happened, babe?”

 

“Afternoon sickness,” Blair rasped.

 

“Uh, I thought it was supposed to be morning sickness.” Jim leaned his smaller husband back against him and pushed the long, curly hair out of Blair’s face.

 

‘He feels a little warm,’ Jim thought worriedly.

 

“Sometimes people get nauseated, even in the latter part of the day,” Blair informed him. “I just couldn’t stop throwing up this afternoon, even with…” He waved a wrist around. It was the one with his seasickness bracelet strapped on.

 

“Do you think you need to go see the doctor?” Jim inquired. He was fully prepared, no matter how tired he was, to take Blair anywhere he needed to go.

 

“No, man. I’m feeling better already.”

 

“Maybe if you ate something, it would settle your stomach.”

 

“Yeah, I think I’m ready to try it now. Would you?” Blair pointed to the cabinet under the sink. Jim frowned and opened the dark wooden door, only to find an opened box of saltine crackers waiting.

 

“Blair?”

 

The pregnant man took a proffered cracker and munched on it carefully. “It’s okay. I keep easy snacks all over the place, so when I feel like I’m going to throw up, I can nosh on one. I just didn’t make it this time.”

 

Ellison frowned. He didn’t like the fact that Blair was obviously that sick and he hadn’t realized it. Vowing to keep a closer eye on his pregnant spouse, Jim pulled Blair up off the bathroom floor and helped him into the living room.

 

Blair swayed on his feet a couple of times on the way to the couch, but Ellison’s firm grip on his waist kept Blair upright. Once settled on the couch, Jim got a glass of juice to soothe and cool Blair’s throat and a wet cloth to cool off his face.

 

The Guide made happy sounds in the back of his throat when Jim wiped his sticky skin. The detective was happy when his efforts resulted in a more comfortable spouse. Blair was resting on the couch, taking a nap, by the time Jim was through.

 

The Sentinel relaxed. His territory was secure and his mate was comfortable. Their child was fed and protected. Jim turned the television on, keeping the volume to a Sentinel low level and smiled happily.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim went back to the station the next day and saw Detective Lenora Davis. She was being loaned to Major Crimes, from Vice, because she was six months pregnant. It was kind of difficult to work vice while out to there pregnant.

 

The Sentinel was privately glad that Blair was too busy lately to come to the station. He wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a pregnant Blair around all of these criminals. Jim knew that it was fairly safe—Rhonda, after all, had worked until she was eight and a half months along—but this was Blair he was talking about. Blair, trouble magnet is my middle name, Sandburg-Ellison.

 

Ellison watched the young woman, unobserved, from his vantage point by the bullpen door.

 

Lenora was sitting in front of a small fan and eating Tums. As Jim watched, she picked up a manila folder and began to doubly fan herself.

 

Jim winced at how miserable she looked and hurried out of the room for a moment. It didn't take him long to accomplish his mission and the detective was back.

 

"Here you go."

 

Davis looked at the proffered éclair and then back up at Jim with a questioning tilt of her head. "Detective Ellison?"

 

The Sentinel shrugged and gave a sheepish grin. "Blair's pregnant too. He's just started with all this," Jim gestured to the fan.

 

Lenora nodded in understanding and took the present. She plucked the cherry off the top and chewed it, eyes slitted in bliss.

 

"Uhm."

 

She looked up and raised her eyebrows at the questioning sound. "Yes?"

 

"Why the Tums?"

 

"They cut down on the leg cramps and let me tell you they are something in the middle of the night."*

 

"Okay." Jim frowned at the news.

 

"Trust me, you'll need to buy these by the case."

 

Jim nodded and went back to his desk. When he looked back, Davis was licking the cream filling out of one end of the pastry. After watching her for a moment, he had an epiphany.

 

'I've got something to add to the Top Blank List. Tums.'

 

Blair was the happy recipient of his own éclair that evening.

 

Chapter 12

 

~Month 3~

 

Blair gave the Volvo a dirty look and thumped the trunk with his fist. He yelped at the pain that radiated up his arm to settle in his shoulder like an electric shock.

 

“Well, that was bright.”

 

The anthropologist sighed and rubbed his arm, as he glanced around the empty parking lot. Not one other vehicle was around and the security guards that patrolled the buildings were conspicuous in their absence.

 

The young man gave the fountain a brief, nervous look. He still didn’t like being around the darned thing. Alex had chased him out of his office that morning and knocked him to the ground. She’d been in the process of drowning the semi-conscious Guide when Jim had arrived and knocked her out.

 

“No, the fountain is definitely not my favorite feature of the uni,” Blair said. The sound of his voice was unnaturally loud in the quiet of the late afternoon and Blair shivered.

 

He gave the flat tire another disgruntled look and leaned his hip against the bumper. “Man, not only do I have a flat, but the jack is missing. Now what am I going to do.”

 

Jim was working on a stakeout and would be incommunicado until later that evening. It was after 5 o’clock, so any garages would already be closed.

 

Blair sighed. “A cab it is then. At least my cell phone is working,” he muttered.

 

+-+-+-

 

Dinner that night consisted of a grilled cheese sandwich and some homemade soup. Both could be fixed in a jiffy when Jim came home and frankly, Blair didn’t think he could stand the smell of anything else cooking.

 

Blair had felt like a fool, sitting inside his locked car, and waiting for the cab. But he had felt marginally safer. Looking back now, Blair acknowledged to himself that if anyone, say another rogue Sentinel, had wanted to attack him, then a locked car wouldn’t have slowed them down very much.

 

“It worked though,” he muttered, just as the front door opened.

 

“What worked?” Jim asked.

 

“Nothing. Hey, Big Guy.” Blair gave his husband a hug and a very thorough kiss, hoping to distract the detective. He should have known better.

 

“Uhm, now that’s how I like to come home.” Jim gave Blair’s tempting butt and good squeeze. “Now…what worked?” He looked Blair right in the eyes, knowing the anthropologist couldn’t, and wouldn’t, lie to him.

 

“When I started to leave the university this evening, I had a flat and for some reason the jack was missing. I, uh…” Blair blushed as he admitted, “I stayed in the car while I waited for a cab.”

 

“Good thinking.” Jim nodded. “If anything had happened, the extra minute or two it would have taken somebody to break through the window would have given you time to take off.”

 

“With a flat?” Blair frowned.

 

“Yes, even with a flat tire. Your life is more important than the rim of a tire, Chief,” Jim admonished. “And why were you even thinking of changing the tire in your condition. You shouldn’t be hauling on the spare and certainly not trying to loosen the lug bolts.”

 

Blair gave a little laugh and pulled his husband into a hug. “Yes, worrywart, I know.”

 

“Chief…” Jim began to admonish.

 

The Guide put a finger over Jim’s warm lips. “I agree. I’m not going to do anything to risk the baby.”

 

“I know you won’t,” Ellison admitted. “I just get worried sometimes.”

 

“Um huh.” Blair wisely chose not to point out that Jim’s job was a great deal more dangerous than anything Blair might do.

 

“I’m starved,” Jim exclaimed. His stomach chose that moment to protest its emptiness.

 

“Me too,” Blair said brightly.

 

“You haven’t eaten yet?” The Sentinel frowned.

 

“Yes, I ate earlier.” Blair put the soup on to heat and cocked his head to one side in a ‘What’s your point?’ look.

 

Jim grinned and waved the look off. Ah yes, he needed to feed the baby…again.

 

Chapter 13

 

~Somewhere in Month 4~

 

“Ellison, San….Ellison, my office.”

 

Simon shook his head over the misspeak. He was so used to saying Jim and Blair’s names together, almost like they were one long name. After so many years of seeing the curly haired observer by the detective’s side, not having him around was surprising.

 

“Yes, sir.” Jim appeared in the open doorway.

 

“Come on in, Jim.” The detective closed the door behind him and sat down in the chair that Simon indicated. “Coffee?”

 

Jim sniffed the air delicately and frowned at what he found. “Uh, no thanks, sir. I don’t particularly care for chocolate coffee.” The detective shuddered at the idea.

 

“I know what you mean.” Simon sighed and took a drink. “I sure as hell wish people would stop sending me this weird crap.”

 

“You don’t have to drink it you know,” Ellison said with a slight grin.

 

“Hizzonnor himself sent it over…so yes I do.”

 

The Sentinel nodded sagely, recognizing the fine art of politicking. He settled into one of the captain’s plush visitor chairs and stretched his tired body.

 

“Are we still on for Friday night?” Simon watched his friend carefully, not liking the signs of weariness that were so evident.

 

“You bet,” Jim said with a smile. “Blair and I have been looking forward to this for a couple of weeks.”

 

“Oh, that’s good.”

 

Jim was too distracted to notice how fixed the smile on Simon’s face had become. The captain could see how much Blair’s pregnancy was taking out of his friend and it bugged him. Obviously the whole weird scheme of Blair having a baby had been the younger man’s idea and he’d coerced Jim into going along with it.

 

‘Well,’ Simon determined, ‘he’s not going to take over all of Jim’s life.’

 

With that decided, the captain kept half his mind on the conversation with Ellison and began to work out a plan of action. It didn’t take long for the smile on Simon’s face to be genuine once more as he determined on a course of action.

 

+-+-+-+-

 

“How’re you doing, Sandburg?”

 

Blair turned to look up at the taller man with a smile when Simon walked into the room. “I’m great. How about you?” Blair enthused.

 

“Fine, fine.”

 

Blair nodded and craned his neck as he looked out the window on Simon’s office door. ‘Looking for Jim,’ Simon decided. He narrowed his eyes and shook his head slightly at how clingy the observer had become. ‘Enough,’ he thought.

 

“I wonder where Jim’s gotten to. He asked me specifically to be here by 4:30.”

 

The anthropologist pushed up his sleeve and gave his watch a quick glance, confirming the time. Simon looked at the clock on his desk and noticed that it was almost a quarter after five. Blair had been sitting in Simon’s office for almost an hour, no wonder he was so antsy.

 

“He’s taking a break…I mean, he went to the break room,” Simon amended oh-so casually. Blair turned his head quickly to look at the captain.

 

“A break?” Blair began to shift around on the chair anxiously. “Did something happen? Has he been under a lot of stress today?”

 

Simon sat down, reclaiming his chair with a sigh of relief. He’d gone out with Jim on a case earlier that day. That in itself was unusual, but he hadn’t wanted the Sentinel out there without the backup of someone who knew about his senses.

 

Blair was sitting on the edge of his chair, waiting for Simon’s answer. The captain could see the worry on the younger man’s face and hesitated for a moment. But then he thought about all the pressure Jim was under lately and hardened his resolve.

 

“Oh,” he waved a hand dismissively, “no more than usual.”

 

The pregnant man blanched at that, his face literally going almost white. Blair slid back in the chair and stared at the front of Simon’s desk unseeingly. He winced and one hand went up to his stomach.

 

‘Oh god, he’s not going to start that is he?’

 

Sure enough—and to Simon’s disgust—Blair did the baby tummy rub. For some reason that gesture bugged Banks. He found the whole male pregnancy situation bizarre enough anyway, without Blair acting like an expectant mommy.

 

Seeing Blair make the same motions that Joan had made while carrying Darryl seemed wrong somehow. He felt an irrational irritation towards the younger man.

 

“Chief?” The door swung back as Ellison came hurrying in. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing.” Blair looked as surprised as Simon at Jim’s abrupt entrance. “Why?”

 

“Well, your heartbeat went crazy a couple of minutes ago.” Jim knelt down by Blair’s chair and placed a hand on his young husband’s blue jean clad knee. “Are you hurting somewhere?”

 

Blair smiled reassuringly, although, Simon was happy to note, the observer was…observing his husband. And apparently not liking what he was seeing there.

 

Simon felt a wave of righteousness roll over him. He was right to point out what Jim was going through.

 

“No, Jim. I’m fine. I just thought of something important that I need to take care of. Something I hadn’t realized I was missing.”

 

Ellison seemed to accept the explanation. Blair placed his hand over Jim’s and studied him thoughtfully. Simon was glad that the anthropologist was taking what he’d said seriously.

 

+-+-+-+-

 

Blair leaned against the kitchen cabinet and planned his strategy very carefully. Now that he’d been shown the truth, the Guide realized he’d been shamefully neglecting his Sentinel’s needs these last few months. Not one to procrastinate, Blair wanted to remedy the situation as soon as possible. He needed to give Jim some time off from the baby stuff without making him feel guilty in the process.

 

Listening to the steady thrumming noise that was the water in the shower hitting the plastic door panel, Blair contemplated his situation. Realizing supper wasn’t going to make itself, he opened the freezer door and pulled out a container of Alfredo sauce that he’d made last month. Next came a plastic bag with sliced pieces of cooked chicken. Putting them both into the microwave to thaw, he then dumped onions, bell peppers, red and green, and tomatoes onto the cutting board. Fettuccini was dropped into a pan of boiling water while Blair sliced and then sautéed the vegetables.

 

By the time Ellison finished his shower, Blair was placing dinner on the table. The Sentinel took a deep, appreciative breath and savored the smells.

 

“Uhm, that smells wonderful, Chief.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

Ellison frowned at the subdued thanks and looked at his husband. He didn’t look ill, but appearances can be deceiving, so he left his senses roam over the pregnant man. Hearing both Blair’s and the baby’s heartbeats lub-dubbing nicely, Jim felt his shoulders relax a bit.

 

“Jim…I’ve been thinking,” Blair began tentatively.

 

They had been eating for a few minutes. Well, Jim had been eating, Blair had been busy moving his fettuccini from one side of the plate to the other.

 

“Oh…I’ll alert the media,” Jim teased. Blair threw his napkin at the detective. “What’ve you been thinking about?”

 

“Steven.”

 

“What about Steven?”

 

Blair had a sour orange smell wafting off of him. The Sentinel had come to associate that scent with when Blair was nervous or worried. Blair’s scent had increased dramatically since he’d become pregnant, making it easier for Jim to tell when something was wrong. When he was happy, there was the gentle fragrance of apples. When Blair was excited, he smelled like cinnamon. But upset gave off the orange scent.

 

“The two of you haven’t had a chance to spend much time together lately, what with everything.” Blair’s hand waved around, indicating anything and everything that had been happening in their lives. “I don’t want you to lose touch again, not after all you’ve gone through.” Blair went back to picking at his dinner.

 

“It’s true, we have both been really busy lately,” Ellison admitted. “But you know, Chief, a lot’s been going on this last year.”

 

“Yeah, I know.” Blair’s plate was obviously very interesting, considering how intently he was staring at it. “I thought…well, I thought that maybe you could…t-take Steven to the Jags game with you.”

 

“What?” Jim asked in surprise.

 

That orange smell got stronger and even sourer than it had been earlier. Jim flinched when his sensitive nose was assaulted by the increase. He frowned at the look on Blair’s face and how upset he was becoming.

 

This was obviously important to the younger man. Jim listened to Blair’s impassioned arguments and saw how agitated the observer was getting. The flushed look to his face and escalating heartbeat worried the older man.

 

“I need to finish grading those papers,” Blair admitted.

 

He had just given a major test in one of his Anthropology 103 classes and was trying to finish them before Thanksgiving. Jim knew that Blair had been working steadily on the exams so that they could have the holiday weekend free. He had less than 10 days to finish up his work, so Jim knew he wasn't obfuscating too much.

 

“You and Steven could go with Simon and Darryl. It’d be a nice outing for the four of you.”

 

Something was definitely not right with this scene. However, instead of further upsetting Blair, Jim relented and after supper, he called Steven. His brother was thrilled to come with Jim; he was almost as big a Jags fan as Jim and Blair were.

 

“There. Isn’t that better,” Blair said with a winning smile.

 

Jim smiled back, but personally he didn’t see how things had improved. The Sentinel would rather be going with his husband, even though he loved his brother dearly.

 

“Sure, Chief.”

 

Blair missed the lack of enthusiasm in Ellison’s voice. Or, if he noticed it, he didn’t comment on it.

 

+-+-+-

 

“Woo hoo!” Darryl shrieked.

 

Jim winced at the particularly loud sound and managed not to glare at the enthusiastic young man. It wasn’t as if he were the loudest in this crowd, just the closest.

 

“That was a good play.” Steven clapped enthusiastically.

 

Ellison glanced out at the court and watched the players racing back and forth, already onto another play. He had no idea what was happening in the game or even what the score currently was. His mind was too busy trying to solve the puzzle of Blair’s sudden change in attitude.

 

“What’s up, big brother?” Steven took a sip of his drink and gave Jim an intense look. Jim shrugged and the younger Ellison continued. “You haven’t been able to relax all night. Is something wrong?”

 

Jim leaned closer. That way he wouldn’t have to shout and no one else could listen in on their private conversation.

 

“Inviting you…” He trailed off, not wanting to sound like he didn’t want to spend time with his brother.

 

“Was kind of sudden and unexpected,” Steven finished for him.

 

“Yeah.” Jim took a drink and worried the cup between both hands. “It was Blair’s idea.” Again he let the conversation trail off.

 

“Okay. That was very nice of him.”

 

“It has me stumped. Blair’s been looking forward to this night for weeks. Since he’s about four months pregnant, and the next Jags home game isn’t for another three months, it’s a cinch that he won’t be able to climb any bleachers to watch a game. This is his last chance until after the baby is born.”

 

Steven nodded. His own wife had missed out on a lot of activities when she was pregnant with both of their children.

 

“Why don’t you give Blair a call,” Steven suggested. “It’ll make you feel better and probably give him a boost. And it’ll give me a few minutes to think over your conundrum.”

 

Jim let himself be convinced—not that it took much convincing—and went out to the lobby to call his husband. Naturally, Jim had his cell phone, but he doubted that he would be able to make himself heard over the noise of the boisterous crowd.

 

+-+-+-

 

Simon watched as Ellison worked his way over to the aisle. It wasn’t easy for the detective to make his way across the stands, because people were more interested in watching the exciting game than moving over to let Jim pass.

 

Banks had overheard—i.e., listened in—part of the conversation and felt a little guilty. Maybe he’d been rash in blaming Blair for Jim looking tired. And now that he thought about it, Blair had been awfully peaked lately.

 

The captain didn’t notice Steven watching him.

 

+-+-+-

 

Steven saw the looks crossing Simon’s face. Guilt and worry were chief among them and it got the younger man’s mind to working overtime.

 

He leaned back, almost into the man sitting behind him, and let Jim sit back down. After apologizing to the other man, Steven turned to his brother and saw that instead of looking relieved, Jim appeared to be even more worried than when he left to make his call.

 

“Is Blair alright?”

 

“I don’t know,” Jim admitted. “He says he is, but he sounded really tense.”

 

“He’d tell you if something was wrong, wouldn’t he?” Steven queried.

 

“Yes, if it was something physical. If it’s something bothering him, he might not.”

 

“Because he wants you to relax tonight.” Steven nodded. That sounded just like something his brother-in-law would do.

 

Simon flinched at Steven’s comment. At least, that’s what Steven assumed. And, even with his dark skin, and the relatively dim light in the stands, the younger Ellison saw the captain flush a bright red and duck his head.

 

Steven leaned closer, purely for show, and whispered in Jim’s ear. He knew about his brother’s abilities. He had, in fact, known something was unique about Jim since they were kids. So, Steven knew that Jim could hear him just fine, but there was no need to broadcast that information.

 

“Maybe he’s partially responsible for the change of heart.”

 

Jim followed Steven’s pointed look and nodded. He’d been wondering the same thing.

 

“Do you want to leave early?” Steven asked in all seriousness. “I certainly don’t mind.”

 

“No,” Jim said after a few moments consideration. “That’ll only make Blair feel worse, if he thinks I’ve left before time on account of him. Besides,” he glanced at the timer, “there are only a couple of minutes left.”

 

The other Ellison nodded and silently began counting down the seconds until the game would end.

 

+-+-+-

 

~Meanwhile, at the loft~

 

Blair stood there, with the phone still in his hand and listened to the dial tone until that annoying and loud voice told him to “please hang up and dial again”. The young man wanted to call Jim back and ask him to come home immediately, but knowing that Jim needed some time off stopped him. That same knowledge had kept him silent when Jim had asked if he was alright.

 

He wasn’t.

 

The pregnant man had not been having a good day. He had been the unfortunate recipient of two calls that upset him immensely.

 

~Earlier~

 

Naomi had called, just after Jim left to pick up Steven. It had been the first time Blair had heard from his mother in almost a year. The older woman had been on a retreat in the Andes Mountains and out of touch for most of that time. The region her retreat had been located at was high in the mountains and impassable during the long winter months.

 

"Hi, sweetie."

 

"Hey, mom. How was the retreat?"

 

She sighed. "Oh, it was simply heaven. So calming and serene. You would have liked it."

 

Blair wasn't surprised. How could a monastery, in the middle of the mountains, with no other human contact for miles and miles around, be anything but serene? For a moment, Blair's mind flashed back to his and Jim's adventures with Brother Jeremy and Brother Marcus. He guessed calm wasn't always the case. Naturally, it was in his mother's case. No criminal would dare intrude on her sanctuary. Even her voice sounded more ethereal.

 

"That's cool. I..."

 

"And how are you doing?" she interrupted. "How's Jim?" Her voice wasn't as happy sounding now. In fact, it had a brittle quality to it, like broken glass grinding under foot.

 

"Pretty good. We're both great. In fact...uh, did you get my last letter?" Blair knew this was going to be awkward. Naomi's reaction to Blair and Jim getting married had put a strain on their mother-son relationship.

 

"Yes, sweetie, I did." There was a pause, a brief one, but nonetheless, a pause. "I think that's great." She sounded cautiously happy, but at least she wasn't upset.

 

"Great." Blair smiled. He hated being on the outs with his mom. Their bond might be largely long distance, but he still loved her.

 

"Yes, I can't wait to be a grandma."

 

Blair blinked in surprise. Naomi had always resisted being called "mom" and now she was bandying "grandma" around.

 

"Cool. I..."

 

"Still...I was wondering about a few things," she interrupted.

 

"Like?" Blair asked in trepidation.

 

"How are you doing? Are you still nauseated? I know you mentioned that in your last letter."

 

"Oh, not so much now," Blair admitted, patting his tummy gratefully. "That's pretty much gone away in the last couple of weeks."

 

"Good, good. So, what did you use to help it?"

 

Blair rubbed his wrist thoughtfully. "I had gone of those seasickness wrist bands and I used some herbal tea. Mostly I just barfed." He gave a little laugh.

 

"That's too bad. I was lucky and didn't have one day of morning sickness with you. I sailed through my pregnancy."

 

"Cool." It was probably his imagination, but Blair felt like her statement was a put down of some kind.

 

"So, what mid-wife have you picked? It's essential that you find one as early as possible, because all the good ones are usually booked solid," Naomi stated brightly.

 

Mid-wife?

 

The pregnant man blinked in astonishment. "Uh, Naomi...I'm a guy. I'll have to have a C-section."

 

"A cesarean!" She said the word like it was blasphemy. "Oh Blair, you can't. All of that unnatural intervention isn't good for you or the baby," she admonished.

 

"I'm a guy having a baby, Naomi. Of course it's unnatural."

 

Blair felt guilty for calling his and Jim's precious miracle unnatural. He silently apologized to the baby and resented his mother for making him say something so awful.

 

"There's nothing else that can be done."

 

"Why not?" she asked stubbornly.

 

"Because there's nowhere for the baby to come out," he snapped back. He was irritated at how unrealistic the other woman was being. So much for this staying a nice conversation.

 

"Oh. Okay, I can see that, but I don't like it."

 

Blair rolled his eyes. It wasn't like he wanted to have another surgery either, but that was the price to have their own baby, and Blair was willing to pay it.

 

"Mom, what did you expect? I've already had a lot of medical intervention. There was no other way to get pregnant and I wanted to have Jim's baby myself. No adoption or surrogacy."

 

"I hear you."

 

He slumped down on the couch. Intellectually, Blair had realized the odds of his mother reacting any better to this than she had to his marriage to a "jack booted pig" had been slim, but he'd hoped against hope.

 

"Yeah, I hear you too, Naomi."

 

The red-haired woman must have heard the resignation in his voice and she paused. "I love you, sweetie."

 

"I love you too, mom."

 

And he did. It wasn't her fault that this bothered her. But, if she wanted to spend time with her grandchild, it was up to Naomi.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim opened the loft door and looked around with a frown. Blair wasn't in the living room, although the television was still playing and a cup of tea was sitting on the coffee table. Extending his hearing, Jim could hear his husband's heartbeat coming from Blair's old bedroom.

 

"Chief?" He peered into the small office and saw Blair lying on the folded up, couch version of the futon. Blair wasn't even under the covers, but instead lying, curled up, on top of them, facing the far wall. "Babe, what's wrong?" Ellison knelt down and rubbed soothing circles on Blair's back.

 

Blair rolled over until he was facing Ellison. His long t-shirt tried to twist around him when he moved, but Jim was there and kept it straight.

 

"I'm kind of tired," Blair admitted.

 

The Sentinel sat down on the side of the bed and Blair curled up into a tighter ball, physically wrapping his own body around Jim’s hip. "How was the game?" Blair asked unenthusiastically.

 

"It was fine. What's wrong, baby?"

 

The pregnant man smiled and gave Jim's jean clad knee a kiss. He started to answer, when Jim interrupted. "And don't say ‘nothing’. I can tell you are upset."

 

Looking up at Jim, Blair saw the steely determination in his blue eyes and knew the truth would come out at some point, so he spilled. "I got a call from mom earlier."

 

"Okay...how did that go?" Ellison managed to keep his voice neutral.

 

For the most part, he liked his mother-in-law, but there were times that he'd like to bury her in a shallow grave up in the mountains. After Blair related his conversation with his free-loving mother, Jim was ready to pull out his shovel.

 

"I'm so sorry."

 

"It's okay." Blair sounded like a young, very hurt, child.

 

Jim was trying to think of something, anything to say that might help. The problem was, he didn't have a close relationship with his dad and his mom had died when Jim was 11, so he couldn't relate to what Blair was feeling.

 

"Uhm...your dad called too," Blair admitted.

 

Ellison gave Blair a quick, searching look and realized there was more to tell. "What did he want?"

 

Blair shrugged, one shouldered, and hugged Jim's knee even tighter. "Someone told him about the baby and he wanted to know if it was true."

 

Jim clenched his jaw, audibly grinding his teeth together. "So, some crony at the country club stuck their nose in where it didn't belong and dad is complaining about it."

 

Blair nodded and laid his head on Jim's knee. There was no way for the younger man to possibly get any closer, not without surgery being involved.

 

"Yeah. William was more upset that he didn't know first than he was about the baby."

 

The Sentinel heard the worry in Blair's voice and hastened to reassure him. "I'll call him, Chief. I can explain."

 

"It's not like you didn't try to contact him, once we knew for sure that I was pregnant," Blair said sadly.

 

"I know. He's been traveling all over the world for the last few months. But..."

 

"What?" Blair raised his head and looked closer at his husband.

 

"I could have tried harder," Jim admitted. "I just didn't want to deal with his reaction."

 

Blair laid his head back down and sighed. "I can relate."

 

Ellison wished that, just for once, their parents hadn't reacted so predictably. A little support would have been nice, especially for Blair.

 

"Why don't you go take your shower," Blair suggested.

 

They both knew that the Sentinel needed to clean the smells of so many other people off his skin and the clothes he'd been wearing would need to be bagged and washed before they could be worn again. The concentration of so many people in one place crept into his pores and clothing, and would quickly overwhelm the man's sensitive nose if not taken care of.

 

"Are you sure you'll be okay?" Jim queried.

 

"Yeah, I'm fine." Blair smiled and released his tight grip on Jim's legs. "I'll rest here until you get through."

 

"Okay." The detective stood reluctantly. "Call if you need me."

 

"I will." Blair closed his eyes and clutched a pillow to his body.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim heard a gasp, just as he turned the water off. The shower had felt heavenly, the warm water washing away the cares of the day.

 

"Chief?"

 

He pulled the plastic shower curtain back, grabbed up a thick towel off the rack and quickly dried. It felt like something was wrong. Hearing another noise, Jim looked over and, between the door and the sink, stood his spirit guide. The large, black cat was quivering.

 

Ellison pulled a shirt over his jeans and ran to the door. He pulled it open and found Blair standing on the other side.

 

"Jim," Blair's voice quavered. The smaller man was holding out a red hand and on the right side of his oversized, white t-shirt, there was more blood.

 

Oh god.

 

Automatically, Jim used his training as a Ranger, a cop and a Sentinel to check for intruders. That was his first reaction, that someone had broken into their home, yet again, and attacked Blair, also yet again.

 

"Baby." He caught Blair, as his legs threatened to buckle. "I've got you."

 

Jim sat Blair down on the couch and carefully pulled the wet shirt up, afraid he was going to see a knife or bullet wound. Instead, what he found was blood welling up around the surgery site.

 

Ah, not an intruder, but still a danger to his family.

 

"Let me grab our stuff and we'll go to the emergency room," Jim informed Blair. The other man looked too stunned to understand much of what was going on, but he nodded in agreement.

 

The former Ranger grabbed coats, keys and got his shoes on in seconds. He wrapped Blair's coat around the anthropologist's shoulders and scooped him up into his arms.

 

'It's a good thing I work out,' Jim thought to himself.

 

+-+-+-

 

Lacey Hennesy was very helpful. The young woman lived just down the hall from the loft, in apartment 303, and had been exiting the elevator when Jim hurried up. She'd offered to go back and turn everything off in the loft and lock the door for them. Jim hadn't even thought about such practicalities.

 

During the race to the hospital, Jim called Dr. McPhereson, who agreed to meet them at the hospital.

 

Once there, everything was a whirlwind for a while. This time, Jim insisted that he stay with Blair and he was allowed. It might have had something to do with how scared Blair was, or it might have been Jim's growling. Whatever, it worked.

 

"Our baby, our baby," Blair said tearfully.

 

"Chief. Chief, look at me." When he had Blair's attention, Jim continued. "We will handle it, no matter what."

 

Blair nodded, his head jerking. Jim was trying to keep Blair from having a panic attack, which would only make things worse. Inside, Jim was panicking too. Their little child was just as real as if he or she were walking around, calling him daddy.

 

Jim sucked in a pained gasp and almost started crying himself at the possibility that that dream might never happen. He felt a cold hand on his arm and clutched it with his own.

 

"It'll be alright, Big Guy." It was Blair's turn to reassure him. "It has to be."

 

The privacy curtain twitched and Caroline McPhereson hurried back in. "Good news, guys," she announced. "It looks like everything is fine, as far as the baby is concerned."

 

"What about the bleeding?" Jim asked worriedly.

 

"There is leakage around the implant site, not unlike what happens sometimes with women's cervixes."

 

"I'm not losing the baby?" Blair asked for clarification.

 

"Not right now, no." She patted Blair's shoulder and then Jim's.

 

Blair took a shuddering breath and tried to relax back against the bed. Jim could feel him shaking from the adrenaline letdown.

 

"So, what happens now?"

 

"I'll do what I would if this happened to a woman, I'll sew it up."

 

Jim frowned. "More surgery?"

 

"Uhm, sort of. A mini-surgery. It is called a cerclage and I can do it right here."

 

Ellison watched as they cleaned and prepared Blair's side. He was glad to see that the bleeding had slowed, but it still hadn't stopped. Blair winced when the shot to deaden his abdomen was given. Blair kept his eyes closed the whole time, but maintained a tight grip on Jim's hand. Curiosity, and a strong desire to see what was happening with his mate, had Jim leaning around the sterile drape and watching part of the procedure.

 

'It looks like they're sewing up a purse,' he thought in amazement.

 

The doctor made a long, looping stitch all the way around the opening, cinching it up. The whole thing only took a few minutes and, luckily, Blair didn't seem to be hurting through any of it.

 

"Jim.” Blair clutched harder at the Sentinel’s hand. Jim rubbed the shock cold fingers between his own.

 

The detective stepped back from the bed and let them clean up their paraphernalia. He looked over at the doctor and tried to judge, from her serious face, what, if anything, was wrong.

 

"Everything seems to be fine at this point. I want to keep him in the hospital for three days. Part of that is merely a precaution. This is all relatively new, and with the problems Blair has had earlier with his womb implant, I don't want to take any chances."

 

Jim nodded. He was all for avoiding any more problems.

 

"When he goes home, I want Blair to be on complete bed rest for a minimum of three weeks. After that, he'll probably need to take it easy for the rest of the pregnancy."

 

Rubbing his chin with one hand, Jim shook his head. "That's going to be interesting. Blair's so..."

 

"Enthusiastic?" she offered.

 

Jim gave a snorting laugh. “That’s one way of putting it. He gets bored so easily that it’s going to be interesting keeping him down for that long.

 

They both looked over at the younger man, who was resting on the bed. The stress of the day, not to mention the surgery, had taken its toll and Blair had fallen asleep. Several strands of his long, curly hair were twisted around his face and over his neck, like a living scarf.

 

“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” the doctor said confidently. “He might be able to do some research on is computer or grade papers for some of the other professors. You could check with his fellow teachers and see what they can come up with.”

 

Jim nodded. It would be a struggle, but he’d keep Blair’s mercurial mind occupied.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim was sitting beside Blair’s hospital bed. He liked the newer chairs in this section of the hospital. They were recliners that could be laid back enough to sleep on. Ellison had used it the night before and found it really comfortable.

 

A soft tap at the door and a quiet “Jim” had him up and opening the door before Blair could be woken up by the visitor. The younger man needed all the rest he could get.

 

“Simon,” Jim said neutrally, after he stepped out into the hallway and shut the door behind himself.

 

“How’s the kid doing?” Simon gave the closed panel a worried look.

 

“So far, so good,” Jim admitted, glancing back involuntarily.

 

“I’m glad to hear it.” Simon sighed. “Can I buy you a cup of coffee in the cafeteria?”

 

“Sure,” Jim relented. “Blair’s sleeping right now.”

 

“Yeah, let’s face it, hospitals aren’t the best place to get any rest.”

 

“No,” Jim agreed with a snort, as they walked down the hallway. “People are in and out of the room at all hours of the day and night. They flip on the light, check Blair all over and then go back out. The problem is that they leave the light on and the door open.

 

Simon shook his head at the unusual place a hospital was. They’d all had their share of staying and/or visiting friends staying in them.

 

+-+-+-

 

“I know you said something to Blair and whatever it was upset him enough that he bowed out of going to the game.” Jim confronted his friend and captain.

 

Simon’s dark eyes widened in fear. “Oh damn…that didn’t…”

 

Jim shook his head. “No, that’s not why Blair came close to losing the baby, but it added to his stress and that is not acceptable.” Jim sighed and took a sip of his coffee, his grip on the white ceramic cup was tight. “My dad and his mom were even worse.”

 

“What did they do?”

 

“Dad and Naomi were their usual, interfering, pain-in-the-ass selves.” Jim looked up and Simon was speared on the sharp look in his cerulean eyes. “I know you said something to Blair,” he repeated.

 

Simon flinched at the accusation and any irritation or condemnation he felt towards the pregnant man seemed petty and ridiculous now. The very idea of Blair pressuring Ellison into anything was ludicrous.

 

“I was wrong,” he admitted.

 

Jim nodded, his eyes never leaving Banks’. “I understand and I’m sure you thought you had a good reason. However…don’t mess with my family again or you won’t like the consequences.”

 

Simon swallowed hard and nodded. He completely understood. If Jim had treated Darryl the way he’d treated Blair…he would have beaten the crap out of the former Ranger. Or at least tried to.

 

The captain realized just how close he’d come to losing his best friend, both of his friends really. And if, heaven forbid, something happened and Blair lost the baby anyway…Well, their friendship could still go down in flames.

 

+-+-+-

 

“This will be a little cold,” David, the technician warned.

 

Blair jerked when the cool gel was squirted out on his stomach. “Man, you weren’t kidding.”

 

Jim gave Blair’s hand a gentle squeeze, hoping to calm the younger man down. Before Blair could go home from the hospital, Caroline wanted to do an ultrasound.

 

The Sentinel wasn’t worried—he could hear the baby’s heartbeat, loud and clear. And now…they would know what they were going to have!

 

“There’s your baby,” the tech told them.

 

Jim peered intently as the moving blob of black and gray. Even with his Sentinel eyes, it was difficult to make anything out.

 

“Here’s the head and that’s an arm,” David said, tracing a couple of darker marks on the screen. “Oh…look, the baby is sucking her thumb.”

 

And suddenly, the fuzzy blob was a baby.

 

“She?” Blair asked reverently.

 

“Yep, it’s a girl.” David grinned, he was always happy to give good news. Jim and Blair had been very enthusiastic about finding out the sex of their child.

 

Blair grabbed Jim’s hand. Their baby was more real now than she had ever been.

 

Chapter 14

 

“Just go slow and easy, Chief,” Jim cautioned.

 

Blair had to smile. He couldn’t walk any slower down the hallway if he had to, and with Jim’s proprietary grip on his arm, there wasn’t much danger of his falling. The anthropologist admitted that the support was needed and appreciated.

 

“Hang on.” They stopped and waited while Jim unlocked the loft door. As soon as the door was opened, Ellison held up a hand and moved to shield Blair.

 

“Somebody’s been here.”

 

Blair stayed behind his husband, one hand on his back, and prayed that the danger was gone. “Are they still here?”

 

“No,” Jim said.

 

Blair closed his eyes in relief and leaned his head on Jim’s tense shoulder blade. “Sit down, babe.” He was sat down on the couch, with his feet up on the coffee table, before he even realized they were moving.

 

Jim tilted his head to one side, not in his standard listening stance, but more in a curiosity pose. He walked over to the television, where a white envelope was propped up. A surprised look crossed his face when he started reading and the Sentinel flicked a look towards the balcony stairs, before returning to his missive. Blair turned his neck to look at what had Jim so fascinated.

 

“What’s that?” he asked. There was definitely something on the stairs, but in the half-light coming from the balcony window, he couldn’t quite make it out.

 

“A lift chair.”

 

“A what?” Blair stood up and walked over to the stairs. Jim flipped the lights on and the pregnant man blinked in surprise. “Oh, I see now.”

 

Going up both sides of the stairs were bright, new metal railings. Before that there had only been a handrail on one side. Attached to the bottom left of the stairs was a lift chair; one of those seats that elderly people, or people in poor health used to go up and down stairs. This one was a warm maroon color and had a safety belt and everything.

 

“Wow.” Blair touched the arm of the chair. It was covered in leather and as soft as a whisper. “Where did this come from?” Blair was reasonably certain that Jim would have mentioned the addition to their home before now.

 

“Dad.”

 

Jim walked over to look at the chair and handed the letter to Blair.

 

“William?” Blair was stunned. He opened the folded sheet of paper.

 

            Dear Jim and Blair,

           

            Please forgive an old fool. I have let my unease about how my friends

            would react to my having  a gay son influence how I treated the both

            of you.

 

            I let myself miss my eldest son’s wedding and have missed out on many

            more, important years with you and my son-in-law.

 

            Blair. I’m sorry that I upset you with my phone call. Again, I let my

            insecurities rule my head. I cannot express my relief that you and the

            baby are alright.

 

            Please accept the new railing and lift chair. Not as my trying to buy

            back your affection, but as an apology for any pain I’ve caused.

 

            Love,

            Dad

 

A quiet knock at the door caused Blair to jump slightly. Jim gave him a reassuring pat on the back and led the younger man back to the couch.

 

“Be right there,” Ellison called out.

 

“Can I come in?” It was Jim’s dad.

 

Blair heard William’s quiet inquiry and waited, with his back to the room, giving them a hint of privacy. It was Jim’s decision whether or not his father was forgiven. But he had to admit, it was tough waiting. Blair would hate to see Jim and his dad’s very tenuous relationship break apart because of this. William's call had added to the stress and might have contributed to Blair's almost-miscarriage...a little. But it had by no means been the main or only cause.

 

“Yeah, come on in.” Jim stepped back and waved his father into their home and Blair sighed in relief.

 

“How are you doing?”

 

Blair turned at the query and smiled at his father-in-law. “Much better now, thank you for asking.”

 

William bobbed his head up and down in a quick, nervous gesture. “I’m glad to hear that, son.” The older man's nervous gaze flicked down to Blair's barely-there bump, before looking over at Jim.

 

The pregnant man schooled his face into as neutral a look as he could manage. Jim’s father didn’t like talking to him at all and the older man calling him “son” was unprecedented.

 

“I, uh, hope that was alright.” He gestured to the new addition to their stairs. “I figured that you would need to take it easy for a while and since the main bedroom is on the upper level…” William trailed off uncertainly.

 

“It was a wonderful gesture,” Blair said with a smile.

 

“You were right. Blair is supposed to take it easy for the rest of his pregnancy,” Jim admitted.

 

Blair frowned at the reminder. He was going to be bored out of his skull before very long, but their baby was worth it.

 

“Ah.” The senior Ellison sighed in relief.

 

Blair glanced over at Jim and could see how touched he was by his father’s gift. Blair was just as moved, but he also was very tired.

 

Jim saw how worn out Blair was—proving once again why he’d been Detective of the Year for several years running—and slipped an arm around Blair’s waist. The shorter man leaned his head against Jim’s shoulder and let the other man make his apologies to William.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim helped Blair over to the brand-new lift chair. It only took a moment’s perusal to figure out how it was operated. He pulled down the fold up seat and had Blair situated on it in a matter of moments. The Sentinel carefully cinched the safety belt under Blair's tummy, making sure it didn't irritate his surgery sites.

 

Blair closed his eyes and shifted a little on his perch. Jim knew what the problem was...Blair is afraid of heights. Even with the added railing on either side of the stairs, they were still mostly open. Jim put one hand on Blair's shoulder and pushed the button to start the chair. The younger man jumped and gave a small gasp when the motor began whirring and his seat started gliding up the track.

 

"It's okay, Chief. I'm here."

 

Blair opened his eyes and into Jim's. He smiled and relaxed, just a fraction. He was still nervous, but not nearly as afraid. Not with Jim walking along beside him.

 

After Jim got Blair settled in bed, he came back downstairs to where his father was waiting.

 

"How's he doing? Really?" the elder Ellison queried. asked

 

"A lot better now. Although...the doctor thinks he's going to have a harder time than we'd originally thought," Jim admitted. "Uh, thank you for that." He waved a hand at the stair chair. "I was planning on moving our bed downstairs until after the baby was born. This has made our lives much easier."

 

"I'm glad." William looked at the layout of the loft and his mind started planning. He wasn't through with his surprises just yet.

 

"Do you want something to drink?" Jim asked from the kitchen. William nodded his head at the beer his son held up, surprising Jim and giving William a little kick. Obviously the younger man hadn't dreamed that his father would stoop to drinking a beer.

 

"I'm sorry," William said, after fortifying himself with a few sips. "I've let other people influence my way of thinking." He sighed. "And because of my crappy attitude, I've missed so much." William looked his astonished son, straight in the eye. "I really and truly regret missing your wedding. Both of them, as a matter of fact. But at least the one with Carolyn was a little more understandable--we were still estranged then. But the ceremony with Blair...I should have been there."

 

"I-I wish you'd been there too," Jim admitted quietly. "But you're here now and that's what counts."

 

William and Jim smiled at one another. Wounds, some years and others only days old, began to heal.

 

Everything was going okay though.

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair dropped his head back and against the pillow and let the book he’d been reading fall onto his lap with a thump. The story was wonderful, as always, but it couldn’t hold his attention.

 

“And if To Kill A Mockingbird won’t keep me interested, nothing will,” Blair said about his favorite novel.

 

Just as everybody had predicted, the anthropologist was slowly going crazy with inactivity. The pregnant man was used to being on the move and didn't know how to 'take it easy'.

 

Reaching a hand up, Blair began to vigorously rub around the surgery site. It had begun to itch like crazy the last couple of days, but the young man knew better than to actually scratch at it. He’d forgotten a couple of times. Ouch and double ouch.

 

He wriggled his toes and grinned at the sight they made. His friend from the university, Melissa, had given him a pair of “turkey socks” as a get well present. They were truly ugly pieces of footwear, being a brownish sock with a wool turkey head perched on the top of each foot. Every time Blair moved, they wobbled like those bobble head dolls that you saw on people’s car dash and the bright red wattle flopped back and forth.

 

Jim had about ruptured something the first time Blair had tried them on. The Sentinel had laughed so hard, he’d fallen off the end of the bed. The sight of Jim being so carefree made it all worthwhile to Blair.

 

Blair heard something downstairs and carefully sat up and turned so that he was looking down, over the bedroom balustrade and at the front door. It was way too early for Jim to be coming home. If trouble was coming in that door—again—he wanted to be prepared.

 

“Hello? Sandy?” Megan’s voice appeared even before her bright head did in the open door.

 

“Up here.” Blair waved over the bed railing at his good friend. “Come on up,” he offered.

 

The Australian woman waved back and locked the door behind her. With an ease that the now-cautious pregnant man envied, Megan bounded up the stairs to where Blair was resting.

 

“How are you doing, mate?” She eyed Blair critically, as if she’d catch him unawares; doing something he ought not to have been.

 

“Not too bad.”

 

“Good.”

 

She sat down on the side of the bed and began to regale the lonely man with some of the funnier things that had been happening at the station. Before Blair knew it, Megan had cheered him up and he wasn’t bored any more.

 

Chapter 15

 

~Month 5ish~

 

“Ellison.”

 

Henri heard Jim’s tone when he picked up the phone and almost felt the tension rise in the bullpen. He looked over and saw the other detective’s knuckles turn white as he gripped the receiver so tightly in one hand.

 

The dark-skinned detective gave his snazily dressed partner a worried look. They were both thinking the same thing, that something had happened to Blair.

 

“Oh, damn,” Jim whispered. He didn’t seem outrageously upset though, so the guys relaxed…a little.

 

“Jim?” Simon’s quiet, questioning voice cut through the silence that had followed the call.

 

“That was Dr. McPhereson. One of our friends, Jeff Hayes, was in a car wreck earlier this morning. He was pretty badly injured and may lose his and James’ baby.”

 

“Damn,” Joel summed up all their worries.

 

“Yeah. Uh, Simon, can I…”

 

“Go on,” Banks interrupted him. “Let Blair know before some well-meaning person upsets him.”

 

Jim nodded, grabbed up his jacket, and hurried out of the room, all the while Simon was still speaking. Rafe straightened his desk and shut down the still running computer for the other detective, the one that Jim had forgotten all about in his haste.

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair grabbed up another tissue from the box by his hip and wiped his eyes. He couldn’t seem to stop crying and although he knew it was partially due to the pregnancy hormones, the younger man still felt like some kind of wuss.

 

“Okay, Chief. I’ve got good news.” Jim moved the box out of the way and sat down on the couch beside his husband. He wrapped a comforting arm around Blair’s shoulders. “James said that Jeff and the baby are doing good.”

 

“They are?” Blair looked up hopefully.

 

It had been a tense two weeks since the wreck. Two weeks where their friend Jeff had lain flat on his back in a hospital bed and their other friend James had stayed right beside him.

 

“Um huh. Jeff just delivered a healthy four pound, six ounce little boy. He’s breathing on his own and everything.”

 

“No ventilator?” Blair asked with a smile.

 

“Nope. He has a nasal cannula, but the doctors assure them that that’s not unusual. Especially for a baby that’s three weeks early.”

 

Blair nodded. They’d heard all about it, especially Jim, from a very worried James over the last two weeks.

 

“What a wonderful early Christmas present,” Blair stated. He snuggled next to Jim and looked at the brightly lit Christmas tree.

 

“Yeah,” Ellison agreed as he looked, not at the tree, but at his husband. He ran a hand down Blair’s side. “Merry Christmas,” he whispered.

 

~ Two Days Later~

 

William leaned back in his chair and patted his stomach in appreciation. “That was a really excellent meal,” he commented.

 

“Yes, it was,” Jim agreed. Both men looked over at Blair.

 

“No kidding. Be sure and thank Sally for us.”

 

Sally was William’s housekeeper. She had all but raised Jim and his brother Steven after their mother had left with Peter, the tennis pro. #

 

William nodded. The Asian woman was an excellent cook and had prepared the sumptuous feast for the three men. Roasted duck, with a spectacularly home prepared mint jelly, was just the beginning. There were several side dishes consisting of: stuffed artichokes, AuGratin potatoes, green bean almandine, and for desert, a cheesecake.

 

Even as hungry as he was most of the time, Blair was still stuffed. There were enough leftovers that neither he nor Jim would have to cook for the next couple of days.

 

Blair stood up and gathered up his own plate and several of the smaller bowls. He started into the kitchen and wasn't surprised to hear both men protesting behind him.

 

"Guys," he interrupted them, setting the dishes on the countertop. "I can carry a couple of plates. Calm down."

 

He grinned when he had his back to them and could tell by the sounds that both men were hastily cleaning the table so he wouldn't make another trip. Blair filled the sink with soap and water and started washing the dishes as the other two men carried them in. The assembly line approach worked and the kitchen was cleaned up in about 10 minutes.

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair had his head leaning on Jim’s shoulder. The Sentinel smiled and pulled his husband a little closer.

 

William had left about an hour earlier. They had exchanged Christmas presents and then his father had left early, so he could rest—tomorrow he would do the same thing with Steven.

 

The Sentinel could still see the look on Blair’s face when his father-in-law had told him about his present. The Volvo—which had supposedly been in the shop for a tune-up—had been completely overhauled. The 1969 vehicle was now as good as new, from the pristine paint job to the brand new carpet inside.

 

William had informed Blair that, “no grandchild, child, or child-in-law of mine was going to ride around in that deathtrap”.

 

Jim could tell that Blair was so tickled at being included in the family description that he completely forgot to protest the “deathtrap” label.

 

With a fire crackling in the fireplace, the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner, and a sleepy mate in his arms, the Sentinel was happy and content.

 

Chapter 16

 

~ Late in Month 5 ~

 

Simon watched as Jim winced at a noise. Opening his door, the captain listened. He soon realized that the sound of someone’s cell phone ringing was what was irritating the Sentinel.

 

Banks frowned and tried to think what to do. He knew that Ellison had been suffering through sensory spikes and had witnessed no less than four semi-zone outs—all in the last week.

 

The captain knew he needed to do something, but what?

 

Simon knew better than to burden Blair with this problem. Since the pregnant man had almost had a miscarriage the month before, the captain treated his young friend with kid gloves.

 

Jim, of course, was even less likely to talk to his Guide. He’d been privy to every nightmare the gestating man had had since that day and wasn’t about to stress him out even more.

 

The captain started planning. He’d have to be cunning and oh-so very careful in eliciting Blair’s help—somehow, without Blair knowing what was going on.

 

+-+-+-

 

“Damn it,” Blair cursed quietly. He slammed the phone back down on its base and closed his eyes as if in pain.

 

“Uh, I’ll be back in a sec.” The pregnant man gave William what was surely supposed to be a sincere smile. The older Ellison wasn’t fooled.

 

“Sure, no problem.”

 

Blair hurried into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. William heard the lock click and, a few minutes later, the quiet sound of someone crying and trying to hide it.

 

Jim’s dad had come over early. He was going to have dinner with his son and son-in-law. The businessman was trying to make up for some of the time he’d lost with his son over the years.

 

The phone rang again and the older man picked the receiver up. Before he could offer a greeting, the sound of a baby crying startled him. He jumped and almost dropped the phone.

 

The child sounded very young and in a lot of anguish. It was most distressing. No wonder Blair had gotten so upset.

 

“Who is this?” he demanded. There was a click and then silence as the caller hung up.

 

William narrowed his eyes, looking eerily like his son when he was pissed off. Blair had been very upset by the phone call, much more than the situation warranted. Almost as if this sort of call came in a lot.

 

Blair came out of the bathroom. He looked from William to the phone and back again, silently asking.

 

“Does that happen very often?” William demanded.

 

“Uhm…” Blair wavered, uncertain what to admit. He wasn’t used to depending on anybody, other than Jim, in situations like this.

 

However, the determined look on the older man’s face had his resolve crumbling and him leaning against the back of the couch. “Yeah, it does.”

 

William nodded. “Don’t worry, son. I’ll make sure it stops.”

 

Blair’s face lit up. It felt nice to have a father-figure who wanted to take care of him. So, for once in his life, Blair gave up control, easily, and without any fuss.

 

“Okay, thanks.”

 

+-+-+-

 

“So, uhm, Blair…”

 

Blair looked over at Simon warily. It wasn’t often that Banks called Blair by his first name and when he did, it usually meant something bad had happened or was going to.

 

“Yes?”

 

The large grin, complete with stunningly white teeth, made Blair even more wary. He didn’t let on about his reservations though, since Simon was so desperately trying not to worry him.

 

“I was just wondering if you could give me the rundown again about what to do in my capacity as Jim’s “temporary guide”.” Simon smiled again, a little more sincerely this time. “Not that I wasn’t paying attention the first time, or anything.”

 

“Ri-ight,” Blair drawled.

 

Being a very intelligent man—and an observer to boot— it took Blair all of two seconds to come to the conclusion that Jim was having trouble with his senses while at work and Simon wanted to help him. Blair wasn’t surprised at the news, although he was worried. He knew how much the Sentinel relied on him to keep Jim grounded.

 

Blair gave Simon the short-short version of Guiding 101. It wasn’t a fraction of the information that Blair had in his brain to keep Jim’s senses from going out of whack, but it seemed to placate Simon.

 

Simon clapped Blair on the back and then grimaced when it made Blair wince in pain. “Oh crap, I’m sorry, kid. I forgot.”

 

“It’s alright.” Blair resisted rubbing his side, because he knew that would only make Simon feel worse. “No problems,” Blair told him, the influence of a certain Australian woman making itself known.

 

The captain patted Blair on the shoulder, remembering to be gentle this time. Simon knew how to help his friend. Blair knew Jim was being watched over, and had managed to keep Simon from realized his covert tactics had been anything but.

 

Just another typical day in Cascade.

 

+-+-+-

 

“Mr. Ellison.”

 

William looked up from the file he was studying and gestured for Lydia Prison to come into his office. The younger woman was in her mid-thirties. Her wavy blond hair fell in soft waves around her face, curly under her chin. The blond hair and soft, China-blue eyes made her look delicate and vulnerable.

 

She had on a charcoal gray suit from Versache, which probably cost well over a thousand dollars and Italian shoes whose asking price set her back several hundred Euros. Every bit of the expense was worth it. Lydia looked professional and yet feminine at the same time.

 

Looking at the woman, no one would suspect that she was really William Ellison’s personal bodyguard and that at any given time she had from four to ten weapons concealed about her person.

 

William had long since stopped thinking of her as an attractive woman and respected her for the weapon she was. She was as much a part of his group of advisors as the four vice presidents who saw to the actual day-to-day running of Ellison Enterprises.

 

“Well?” he asked. William’s attitude was that of a man who expects answers the moment he asks a question.

 

“Over the last six weeks, 148 calls have been made to 555-1014, your son’s residence,” Lydia’s soft, but strong voice supplied the information with hesitation. “The calls originated from 555-1965, the home of a Ms. Shelly Skelton.”

 

The older man nodded at the information, managing to keep his face a blank—although, it had been difficult to keep his composure when he realized that Blair had been harassed so unmercifully.

 

“What is her connection with the boys?”

 

“Eight months ago, Detective Ellison rescued Ms. Skelton from a would-be carjacker. There hasn’t been any contact between them since then, however. She has an obsessive-compulsive personality and there have been problems before where she fixated on authority figures, to the point where she harassed them.”

 

“Send a team to her house. I want this situation ended…today.”

 

“Of course, sir.” Lydia’s predatory smile made a shiver of fear slither up William’s back. “I’m heading out now.

 

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Lydia did remedy the situation...without bloodshed or even threats.

 

Shelly Skelton had indeed become obsessed with Jim. Her small house was like a shrine to the detective. Every wall, and part of the ceilings and floor, were covered with candid photos of Jim. Any shot that had Blair included was defaced—Blair's image was either scored with a knife or cut out altogether.

 

According to Shelly, she and Jim were soulmates. They were destined to be together forever and Blair was ruining Jim's life.

 

Lydia very calmly and patiently talked with Shelly. It didn't take the young woman long to admit that she had been neglecting her medicine and felt a little "funny" inside her head. The security chief talked Shelly into contacting her psychiatrist, who in turn convinced the young woman to come stay in the hospital for a while.

 

The pictures were take down and destroyed. The recording of a baby crying was disposed of and the little house was closed up for the time being.

 

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Jim's father came to dinner later that week. Blair looked much better, certainly a lot more rested.

 

William reassured his son-in-law that he wouldn't be harassed any more. Blair went against type and didn't ask any questions—he simply didn't want to know any more.

 

Jim never knew what his husband had been going through.

 

At the station, things improved as well. Simon took Blair's lecture to heart and started helping Jim more. He made a point to pat the Sentinel on the back, or touch his arm, or one of the numerous other ways that Blair kept Jim's senses on an even keel, several hundred times a day. Not that Simon touched Jim that much, but it was enough to keep Ellison's senses from spiking and he only rarely zoned out any more.

 

Chapter 17

 

~Early in Month 6~

 

“Have you seen Sandburg lately?”

 

Jim stopped walking when he heard the whispered question. It wasn’t the first time that his enhanced hearing had heard things he wished he hadn’t and it probably wouldn’t be the last.

 

“Yeah, he’s wayyyy big.” The answerer laughed. "It seems like he's been pregnant forever."*

 

“I can’t believe someone as macho as Ellison married somebody as frilly as Blair. Crap, even his name sounds feminine.” The frilly part was said in a whiny, nasally voice.

 

The two men, who Jim didn’t know personally, snickered together and then walked off. The detective realized he had stopped in the middle of the hallway and hurried into the bathroom, his face blazing in embarrassment.

 

The Sentinel sat down on the edge of the toilet and tried to compose himself. Comments like those weren’t common, but they weren’t all that unusual either. It didn’t hurt as bad when it was people he didn’t know, but Sgt. McNally’s derision was harder to take. Jim had known Phil McNally for over 10 years.

 

After several minutes, Jim finally managed to get his blood pressure back down below the exploding head level. He splashed a lot of cold water on his face and, with chin determinedly up, walked back into Major Crimes.

 

It didn’t help anything that Jim’s desk was piled high with the paperwork resulting from the last two cases—paperwork that normally Blair would be there to help with and could breeze through in a few hours. Jim would have to slog through it and might be lucky to finish by the end of the day.

 

Nobody commented on the detective’s bad mood. None of them were very chipper either. Whether or not you were directly involved in the last two crimes, they still affected you.

 

The last case, the Hawks one, had been particularly brutal. Kevin and Delia Hawks had been fine, upstanding citizens. They went to every PTA meeting and attended church faithfully, every Sunday.

 

They also beat and molested their son and daughter.

 

No one had been privy to that fact until little Davy Hawks didn’t come to school for almost a week. One of his teachers, worried about her star pupil, had gone to their innocent looking house, and had found a bloodbath.

 

Davy had been raped so severely, that he’d bled to death on his bedroom floor. Bruising and scars indicated that the 6-year-old boy had been going through this sort of thing most of his life.

 

His 10-year-old sister Lacy was found, tied, spread-eagled, in the middle of her loving parent’s bed. She too had been raped and beaten. Serena’s early guess had proven correct—she had choked to death on the blood from her broken nose.

 

They were still searching for the parents.

 

On top of that, there was another, not quite as horrific crime, which Jim had been lucky enough to be given. This time it was the father’s disappearance that had sparked curiosity in the neighborhood.

 

Jim had gone to Mr. Wilson Martindale’s residence at 1405 Martindale Avenue. The fact that the street was named after the millionaire indicated just how rich he really was. The multi-level home had been featured in House Beautiful and was a landscapers dream.

 

Inside hadn’t been quite as pretty.

 

The Sentinel had found a situation that eerily mirrored his own early home life. Wilson’s wife had left him—run off with the tennis pro. In her wake, the unfaithful wife had left a very bitter husband and two small sons.

 

Mr. Martindale had tried his best to provide a good life for his children. That included working all hours of the day and night, despite the vast amounts of money they already had in the bank, and giving his children “discipline” when and where he saw fit.

 

This time, people had seen the abuse, but were too afraid of crossing the very powerful businessman. So, the two defenseless children were left to their own devices.

 

Jim found the boys, Timothy and Kevin, huddled in the elder Timmy’s bedroom closet. They were filthy and hungry. Their father had told them to “get the hell to your damned rooms”, slammed out the front door, and not been seen in a week. The kids were too traumatized to leave the closet, for more than a brief excursion to the kitchen, twice in the seven days since their father had left.

 

Family Services had taken the boys, who would live with their maternal aunt. The younger woman had been banned from the house when her sister left and wasn’t aware of the abuse.

 

Jim could easily see himself in Timmy and his brother Steven in the young Kevin. Not that William had ever pulled either of their pants down at a dinner party and beaten them with a belt. Far from it, William had always been coolly dismissive of his children, especially if they had guests.

 

No, it wasn’t the abuse that he identified with, but the indifference and chill that could be felt in the house, even after the father was dead. It was only in the couple of years that Jim felt any love at all from his father, and he knew that was due to Blair’s pushing them together.

 

Wilson Martindale’s Porsche had been found two days later. His car was down a steep ravine and crumpled up against a large tree. It didn’t help Jim’s growing anger that the man had died on impact and therefore couldn’t be prosecuted for his soul destroying behavior towards his children.

 

Ellison slammed the file folder down on the top of his desk. Pictures from both crimes scenes spilled out across the desk, mingling together in one large, nasty picture.

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair wrapped his coat around himself a little tighter and shivered in the blast of cold air that followed him in. He rubbed his arms vigorously and was silently glad to be inside of the police station and out of the frigid January weather.

 

He looked back over his shoulder, as he waited at the bank of elevators, and looked at the little swirls of ice crystals that were pattering against the glass doors. ‘Man, I’d hate to be living in this,’ his compassionate nature allowing him to commiserate with the homeless people who had no place warm to go.

 

The anthropologist was coming in unannounced, hoping to surprise his husband and take him out for lunch. Blair knew that Jim—and indeed all of their friends—had been working overtime on several really tough cases. He hoped that the Sentinel would be able to relax for an hour or so and recharge his seriously depleted physical and emotional batteries.

 

Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long for one of the many elevators in the building to arrive. Leaning against the wall of the elevator, the pregnant young man surreptitiously put a hand to the small of his back and rubbed it. He was far enough along in the pregnancy that his back ached quite a bit of the time. It wasn’t too bad if he was sitting down, but standing up for any length of time was downright painful.

 

He slid farther into the corner when the elevator stopped on the 3rd floor and several more people got on. The only other person who’d gotten on in the lobby also exited at this time, making Blair feel like he’d lost an ally somehow. Sensing a new tension, Blair glanced over, out of the corner of his eye, and saw that a couple of the beat officers were giving him odd looks. Blair was used to being stared at—after all, as a pregnant man, he was a rarity—but their attitude was starting to worry him.

 

Keeping his eyes firmly fixed on the illuminated floor level display, Blair hoped to avoid any trouble. Maybe if he ignored the man and woman, they’d ignore him in return.

 

“Hey.”

 

‘No such luck,’ Blair thought with a grimace. He’d just watched as everyone, except himself and the lookers, had gotten out on the 4th floor. For just a moment, Blair wished he’d gone with them.

 

“Uh, yeah?” That came out very tentatively.

 

“Where’d ya get tha’ coat?” the man asked.

 

“Wh-what?” Blair was thrown for a loop by the surprising question.

 

“I was just wonderin’. Cause my wife is pregnant too and she needs a new winter coat.” The cop waved an arm at Blair’s long, black lamb’s wool coat. “That one looks really nice,” he added.

 

“I was just telling Murray here that I think you got that at McKinley’s out at the mall.” The female officer smiled brightly and pushed a strand of auburn hair back behind her ear.

 

Blair gave a laughing sigh of relief. “Well, it was a gift from my husband, but yes, I think he got it at McKinley’s.”

 

“See, I told you.” The woman hit her friend on the arm with the back of her hand.

 

“Yeah, yeah, you are all knowing and wonderful.” Murray was slightly taller than his companion and had hair almost as curly as Blair’s—albeit, worn much shorter. “Thanks,” he said to Blair, as the elevator doors opened and they all stepped out.

 

“No problem.” The observer tugged at the collar of his coat appreciatively. “When is your wife due?” he asked companionably.

 

“In tha’ middle of March. And you?”

 

“I’m not due until the end of April.”

 

“Well, congrats,” Murray said with a smile.

 

“Yes, good luck,” the woman—Blair still didn’t know her name—gave a cheery wave as the two friends walked down the hallway, in the opposite direction from Major Crimes.

 

“Thanks,” Blair answered back.

 

Relief left Blair feeling a little shaky. After all, he still didn’t know who had made all those nasty phone calls a few months ago. Although he trusted William when his father-in-law told him that “the situation had been taken care of”.

 

Blair pushed open the door and walked in the Major Crimes bullpen…

 

+-+-+-

 

“Hey, Jim.”

 

Ellison glanced up and saw what right at that particular moment was the worst thing for him…Blair. His husband. His pregnant husband. And, oh look, several people had stopped to watch them and Jim could hear laughing over to one side.

 

He could literally feel his blood pressure rising. It was coming up and out in the red that was showing up on his face. His mind brain was so full of the mocking laughter—remembered and that he was now hearing—that he wasn’t paying attention to what Blair had to say.

 

“…was wondering if you might be free for lunch?” Blair asked with a hopeful smile lighting up his face.

 

“I don’t think so…” the detective started to refuse.

 

“We could even go to Wonderburger,” Blair offered as a temptation.

 

Jim surged up from his chair, startling Blair into taking a step back and wiping the smile off his face. The Sentinel felt a measure of success when it also stopped the muttering he could hear in the background.

 

“Jim? What…?” Blair asked in a small voice.

 

“I told you that I can’t…” Ellison started to grind out. He stopped when it occurred to him that arguing with Blair, in the middle of the squad room wasn’t the way to stop the rumormongers.

 

“Come with me.”

 

He grabbed hold of Blair, just above the elbow, and drug him out the doorway, across the hall, and into the stairwell. His grip was tight—to ensure that Blair followed him—and he didn’t let up, even for a second.

 

“I can’t just drop everything and come running whenever you call,” he blasted. “I have a job to do, you know.”

 

Jim let go of Blair’s arm and started to pace on the stairwell landing. His agitation wasn’t assuaged by the limited space he had. The upset Sentinel didn’t look up at his husband—didn’t see the affect his words were having on him.

 

“Damnit, someone has to support us…now that you’re not working. And I’ve got to get some of this scum off the streets.”

 

Ellison waved a hand, as if cutting off what Blair was going to say. Blair was too stunned to say anything, but again, Jim wasn’t paying attention.

 

“I’ve got to go back to work. I don’t have time for this crap.”

 

He yanked so hard on the door that it slammed back against the wall, knocking a chip of plaster off the concrete blocks. Ellison stormed out, leaving a bewildered mate in his wake.

 

+-+-+-

 

Jim stomped back into the bullpen and glared around the room, daring anybody to make a comment. His sharp, laser blue gaze, pinned the two cops he’d heard joking earlier.

 

They felt the glare, like it was a living thing. The two men stopped moving. They stopped breathing. After a few moments of looking like a pair of deer caught in the blaze of a headlight, they looked away from Jim’s intensity and stared at the floor.

 

Appeased with having shown them who was stronger, the Sentinel walked over to his desk and sat down. He curled his lip in disdain at the weaker men and started straightening the files on his desk.

 

He was just beginning to calm when a barked, “Ellison,” made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

 

The detective knew better than to ignore his boss’ call—even though that was just exactly what he wanted to do. Jim stood and slammed his chair under his desk and stomped into the captain’s office, giving death glares to all he passed on the way.

 

Simon didn’t comment on Jim’s dramatic entrance. He sat down behind his desk and watched, without comment, as Ellison paced around for a few minutes.

 

First, he’d go over to the window and peer out of it, as if the criminals were standing just outside, despite the fact that they were on one of the top floors of the building. Then, he’d stalk over to the office door and glare out of it, as if his friends and co-workers were going to attack at any moment.

 

The captain waited, biding his time, and allowing his good friend and best detective to calm down. It worked, and eventually Jim sat down in the “visitor’s chair”.

 

Now it was Simon’s turn.

 

“Do you want to give me some idea what the hell that was all about!” Simon got louder with each word and was shouting by the time he finished the sentence.

 

Jim told Simon about what he’d been hearing lately and how it’d made him feel. Simon started to interrupt a couple of times, but shut his mouth as he decided to let Jim talk his frustrations out. Again, it worked. After a while, the detective’s complaining ground to a halt.

 

“So, in other words, you heard some stupid, Neanderthal, jackasses making shitty comments about you and your husband and became embarrassed. Then you got into a pissing contest with those same creeps out there,” he waved an arm towards the door, “and acted like an idiot.”

 

Jim frowned, taking exception to the idiot part of the statement. Simon glared at him and Ellison had enough sense to remember that even though Simon was a friend, he was his boss first.

 

“But what’s worst of all is that you took all this out on Blair.” Jim blinked for a moment, taking that knowledge into his head and beginning to cringe. “And excuse me, but just how long ago was it that Blair almost had a miscarriage because of stress?”

 

The captain felt a moment’s revenge, since he had been part of all that stress a couple of months ago. It only lasted a moment though, because Blair had been really ill and Jim was obviously remembering that.

 

Jim blanched. He thought back over the scene, especially the one in the stairs, and paled further. In his mind’s eye, Jim could feel the tight grip he’d had on Blair’s arm as he drug…

 

‘Dear heavens! I manhandled him!’

 

Closing his eyes, Jim could see Blair’s pale, shocked face and wide, startled eyes. The younger man had been afraid. Afraid of him!

 

“Simon,” he whispered, “what have I done?”

 

Simon threw his hands up in the air. “I don’t know, Jim. I really don’t. What I don’t understand is, why you gave a damn what those idiots think anyway.” Banks frowned. “You and Blair have been causing a stir for years, why has this thrown you so bad?”

 

Jim frowned and thought back to his overreaction. “I’m afraid,” he admitted to the older man.

 

“Of what?” Simon frowned.

 

“That I’m going to be a horrible father. I don’t want to end up like my dad. It would be better not to have children at all if that is what’ll happen.” Jim rubbed a hand across his mouth.

 

“Jim…you are nothing like your father. And Blair is nothing like your mother,” he added shrewdly.

 

The Sentinel gave his captain a startled look. He hadn’t realized that, in his mind, he was comparing Blair to his mother, and Evelyn Martindale.

 

“He’s not going to leave you,” Simon reassured him. “If he’s stuck around, after all that the two of you have been through, there’s no way he’d bail on you now.”

 

“You’re right.”

 

Simon gave a mock huff. “Of course. I’m the captain.”

 

Jim grinned for a moment. Then reality intruded again, as he thought of the truly crappy way he’d treated his husband. Blair might not want to admit it, but he was fairly fragile, pregnancy-wise. The doctor didn’t want any added stress in the young man’s life and Jim had just stressed him up one side and down the other.

 

Thinking of Blair and remembering him standing in the loft, in a t-shirt covered in blood, the detective stood abruptly. “I’ve got to go, sir.”

 

Simon nodded. “Go on. You’ve got the rest of the day off.”

 

Jim was only half listening when he nodded back. As he raced out of the room he heard his friend’s, “Good luck”.

 

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By the time Jim pulled into the loft’s parking lot, he had whipped himself up into a panic, imagining what catastrophe he would find when he got home. By the time he raced up the stairs—not wanting to wait for the elevator, damn, stupid thing—the Sentinel was more than halfway hysterical, certain that he would find his husband lying in a pool of blood by the balcony doors.

 

He wasn’t lying in a pool of blood, by the balcony or anywhere else either. Ellison’s frantic perusal of the main floor helped steady Jim’s nerves slightly…a little.

 

“Blair?”

 

No one answered, but Blair’s reassuringly steady and calm heartbeat echoed from upstairs. Jim ran up the short flight, bypassing Blair’s stair chair, which was still down in the “seat” position—a sure sign of how upset Blair had been. The observer was always certain that he “raised the seat” so Jim wouldn’t run into the rim of the chair.

 

Jim stopped when he saw an edge of Blair’s tousled hair hanging over the top of the blanket. The younger man had his back to the stairs, and was asleep, or pretending so he wouldn’t have to acknowledge his husband. Jim wasn’t sure of which.

 

“Chief?” he asked in a whisper.

 

“Ungh,” Blair muttered.

 

The covers began undulating, like waves on an ocean, as Blair tried to free his arms. Jim took hold of the top of the blanket and pulled it down to the pregnant man’s waist.

 

“Hmmmm, thanks.” Blair rubbed a hand over his eyes, trying to scrub the sleep out.

 

Ellison brushed a hand over Blair’s cinnamon colored curls and waited for Blair to wake up enough to remember what had happened. He was dreading seeing the pain that would appear in that expressive face.

 

His heart flew up into his throat and then plummeted down into his stomach when he saw a large, hand-sized bruise on Blair’s arm. It was peeking out from under the sleeve of the younger man’s t-shirt, like an accusation.

 

“Jim?” Blair looked over his shoulder and gave a small smile. He rolled over onto his back and then onto the side facing the Sentinel. “You okay now?”

 

Jim’s mouth fell open in astonishment. “I…” He shook his head. “I can’t believe you’re worried about me. Especially after the way I treated you…” Jim swallowed the tears that were pooling up in his eyes.

 

He looked down, and sure enough, there was another, matching bruise, on the pregnant man’s right arm. They were both large, and very dark.

 

“Oh god, I’m so sorry.” Jim traced the edge of the mark, as if he could magically take away the pain.

 

Blair looked at where Jim was touching. “So, what happened?” He was using his soothing, Guide voice.

 

Once again, Jim tried to explain why he’d gone ballistic. This time he omitted any reference to the creeps at the station. Unbeknownst to him, Blair already had an inkling of what some of the cops were saying about him—hence his being nervous in the elevator.

 

However, the more Jim talked the more of a jackass he felt.

 

‘I should have kicked those men’s butts!” he thought. ‘Instead, I attacked my husband. My husband!’

 

Jim didn’t realize that his every thought and emotion was written clearly on his face. Blair knew that the Sentinel took most things to heart anyway, even situations—like with those kids—that he couldn’t possibly control.

 

“Hey, Big Guy,” Blair patted Jim’s leg, “it’s okay.”

 

“How can…” Ellison started, but Blair interrupted.

 

“Everybody has a bad day once in a while.”

 

Jim relaxed at the sincerity on his husband’s face. Blair wasn’t just saying that to placate Jim, he meant it.

 

The Sentinel lay down on the bed beside his lover. He gave a long, shuddering sigh as his body melted onto the bed. Blair wrapped a supportive arm around his waist. They closed their eyes and, with heart rate and breathing in sync, the two men let their tired bodies rest.

 

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When Jim went back to the station the next day, he got the cold shoulder from most of their friends. Megan especially was particularly frosty.

 

The situation improved quickly, however, when they realized that Jim was back to being himself. But Megan didn’t allow herself to forgive Ellison…at least until she heard the phone call…

 

“Yes, Mr. Harrison, I’m sure that’s the book I want.”

 

Jim nodded, even though he knew that the man on the other end of the line couldn’t see him. The detective didn’t realize that he had a much augmented audience listening to his private conversation. Most of the people in the desks surrounding his were eagerly paying attention.

 

“Right. The one Blair Sandburg-Ellison was wanting. How much was it again?” The ex-Ranger winced at the amount he heard. “Uh, okay. I’ll pick it up in a couple of hours. Thanks.”

 

Ellison sat back, making his chair squeak, and winced as his headache ratcheted up a few notches. Without his Guide there to keep his senses grounded the Sentinel often suffered with headaches and numerous other irritations.

 

“Here.”

 

A white bottle was thrust in front of his face. Jim looked up at the owner—Megan.

 

“Thanks.” He popped open the lid and extracted a couple of the pills.

 

“No worries.” Megan gave him a little smile, and Jim figured he’d been forgiven.

 

Chapter 18

 

~Very late in Month 6~

 

Blair began to button the crisp white, pleated shirt that went with his tuxedo and thought about the coming evening. Jim's dad had invited them to a function that one of his high society friends was giving. The detective had been resisting going, doing everything in his power to come up with a reason to miss out on the “fun-filled” evening that William had assured them this would be.

 

The pregnant man gave up on the last few buttons—it had taken him forever to button all those little, tiny buttons anyway—and slowly waddled his way over to the lift chair. Closing his eyes, because the height thingie still bothered him, Blair sat down and rode the stair chair downstairs.

 

He hurried, as much as he could, over to the nearest armchair. Blair knew that after he’d gone to all this trouble, Jim wouldn’t back out of going. Personally, he didn’t give two figs about the get together, but obviously William did.

 

“Bl-lair,” Jim’s semi-holler up the stairs was cut off when he saw that Blair was downstairs. He frowned at Blair’s mostly dressed state and sighed in irritation.

 

‘Gotcha,’ Blair thought triumphantly. He smiled reassuringly at his spouse and tried to look as innocent—and more importantly—not tired. Which he was.

 

“Yes, Jim?” There, that was as chipper as he could possibly manage under the circumstances.

 

Ellison narrowed his eyes and shook his head, sensing that he’d been outmaneuvered. “I’ll be back down in a couple of minutes.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Blair sighed quietly himself as he watched his buff, semi-wet, and, oh yes, mostly naked spouse ran up the stairs. The observer admitted that he angled his head, hoping that the small towel draped around Jim’s hips would give him a little glimpse underneath. But…no such luck.

 

The Guide tackled those last half-dozen remaining buttons, which were stubbornly staying out of his reach. He’d pretty much given it up as a bad job when Jim touched his shoulder, making him jump.

 

“Easy, Chief.” The Sentinel eyed him like he was going to fly apart at any given moment. “Are you okay?”

 

“Yeah, Big Guy. I’m fine.” Blair had to smile. The hovering could get kind of smothering at times, but there were times—a lot of them, in fact—where it was nice to be coddled too.

 

Jim took hold of Blair’s hands and pulled him upright. Blair smiled in appreciation. He could get up from the chair, but it wasn’t exactly easy at times, and let’s not even mention the butt-eating sofas.

 

“Let me help you.”

 

Blair stood still while Jim unbuttoned the pants to his tuxedo and tucked his shirt inside. The Sentinel didn’t bother with the last few buttons since they would be out of sight anyway. Blair silently wished he’d thought of that earlier.

 

‘That would’ve save a heluva lot of time and effort.’ Blair gave himself a mental smack on the head.

 

“I have something for you,” Jim admitted. “Well, for all of us really.”

 

‘All?’ Blair frowned as he wondered. There was Jim and himself and…

 

“Ta da,” Jim said quietly as he pulled out a pair of matching—pink—cummerbunds.

 

“Pink, Jim?” Blair queried.

 

“For our little girl,” Ellison admitted with a blush, as he secured the band around Blair’s tummy.

 

“That’s wonderful,” Blair whispered. He ran a hand over his husband’s bristly, but soft, hair. The detective was in the perfect position for him to do so, as he’d bent over to wrap his arms around Blair’s not inconsiderable tummy.

 

“I’m glad you like it.” Jim fastened his own cummerbund and then gave Blair a kiss. The younger man took hold of Jim’s neck and pulled him in, deepening the kiss for a few, precious moments.

 

“We’re not going to stay very long,” Ellison stated with certainty as he helped Blair on with his jacket.

 

“Yes, Jim,” Blair agreed, mostly to keep the peace. After Jim’s sweet gesture, how could he not give in to the mother-henning?

 

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“…and this is my son-in-law, Blair.”

 

William drug Blair closer to yet another good friend and smilingly introduced him. Blair was certain that he’d met 100 people or more tonight and by now they’d all run together into one big person in his brain.

 

“Nice to meet you,” he responded cordially.

 

“Uh, likewise.” At least William’s friends were too polite to let their surprise at meeting a pregnant man show on their faces.

 

On the other side of the room, Blair could see Jim as he made the rounds, meeting up with people that he hadn’t seen in years. Even as he watched his handsome husband talking politely with an elderly matron, Jim’s looked up and met his eyes. Blair could relax among all these strangers, because he knew that Jim was always watching out for him.

 

‘For them,’ his mind amended.

 

“I would like you to meet…”

 

Blair turned back and smiled winsomely at the next person William wanted him to meet.

 

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Blair took a quick look out of the balcony doors and shuddered in sympathy. Jim looked really cold, and no wonder. It was 22 degrees outside. Luckily, it wasn’t snowing or anything, but still…

 

‘And he’s doing it for me,’ the Guide thought with a smile.

 

Almost since conception, Blair had been unable to smell meat cooking. He could eat it just fine, but the smell made him throw up.* Hence, Jim standing in bellow freezing temperatures, cooking on their outdoor grill.

 

“God, I love that man.”

 

Jim turned and winked at Blair. Even though Jim’s nose was a painful red color, Blair was able to relax, knowing his husband would do anything for him.

 

Chapter 19

 

~Month 7- Two weeks before Valentine’s Day

 

“Jim,” Simon paused in the middle of his choking to snicker, “you have got to be kidding me.”

 

Ellison waited patiently for the captain to stop laughing. He didn’t say anything, but let his angry stance and the steely look in his eyes tell his friend how ticked off he was at Simon’s hilarity. Actually, this response wasn’t all that surprising. Banks wasn’t exactly known for his tolerance of new ideas.

 

“No, I am not kidding.” Jim’s voice was so full of steel that it dropped out of his mouth and fell through to the floor below.

 

Simon seemed to realize that he was the only one laughing, that sobered him up—and fast.

 

“Jim, you can’t be serious.” Simon frowned. He stood up and shut his office door completely. “If someone saw you…”

 

“First of all, I won’t be leaving the loft. And secondly, people see Blair like that every day.”

 

“I know, but…”

 

Again, Jim interrupted. “I’m going to do this, for Blair’s sake. I want him to see that I understand at least a little of what he’s been going through.”

 

“Yes, but wearing an empathy belly is going a bit far, don’t you think.” The look of distaste on Simon’s face spoke volumes.

 

“How else am I going to know what it feels like to be pregnant? Hmmmmm?” Ellison asked, standing up to face his friend.

 

Simon opened his mouth to reply and then realized he didn’t have an answer. “I don’t know.”

 

Jim nodded. “I’m going to wear it all this weekend.”

 

“What does Blair think about this?” Simon asked his friend, the one he personally thought was crazy. Not that he’d ever tell the Sentinel that.

 

“He doesn’t know about it yet. I’ve got the outfit in the car, it arrived this morning.”

 

“What’s it like?” Simon asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

 

“Well…it’s intimidating,” Jim admitted.

 

“Intimidating?”

 

“Yeah. For one thing, it weighs 30 pounds.”

 

“Yikes.” Simon winced at the idea of added that much weight to your body, particularly all at one whack.

 

Jim nodded. “It has weights to put added pressure on the bladder.” Ellison shook his head, thinking of all the times that Blair had gotten up to go to the bathroom. “There are balls, or something like that, that move around and make it feel like the baby is kicking.”

 

“You’re going to have a heluva time sleeping,” Simon warned him.

 

“I know, but that’s kind of the idea, you know. Blair doesn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time, if he’s lucky. With all that he’s going through, I figure this is the least I can do.”

 

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“Uh…what?” Blair shut the refrigerator door, his juice forgotten, and glanced over at Jim in astonishment.

 

“You heard me right.” The Sentinel held up the heavy, bulky suit, with its large fake belly and artificial breasts.

 

“You’d really do that for me?” Blair’s eyes were wide with astonishment, as he eyed the cumbersome looking garment.

 

“Yes. I want to do this,” Jim reassured Blair.

 

“Oh, Jim.”

 

Blair looked so happy that Jim pulled his husband in for a kiss. The kiss soon deepened. Jim abandoned the suit on the couch for the night while he and Blair made love.

 

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“Ellison. Uh, will you come into my office…please.”

 

Simon’s hesitating voice—and the use of the word “please”—was surprising enough to stop all activity in the room. It was unusual enough to warrant Megan, Rafe and Henri gathering around Megan’s desk to discuss it.

 

“I wonder what tha bloody hell that’s all about?” Megan asked. She trained a shrewd eye on the captain’s closed door.

 

“I don’t know,” H admitted. “But I’ve never seen the captain looking so…” he hesitated, as he struggled to find the right word.

 

“Contrite,” Rafe finished for him.

 

“Exactly, babe.” Brown nodded at his partner. “I wonder what happened to cause that?”

 

The two detectives and one inspector went back to work…and kept a close eye on Bank’s office.

 

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“Sir?” Jim paused in the doorway. This time it was Simon who was pacing back and forth—a welcome, if unusual change from their normal positions.

 

“Come on in.” Simon gestured at him.

 

“Simon?” Jim asked, when the other man finally sat down, but still didn’t say anything. The Sentinel was surprised to see a blush spread across the darker man’s face.

 

Banks cleared his throat, started to speak, and cleared his throat again. “I want to apologize,” he finally spat out. “I was a jerk yesterday. It is, naturally, a wonderful thing that you are willing to experience what Blair is going through.”

 

Jim hid a grin behind one hand as Simon made his carefully rehearsed recitation. When the captain was done, Jim gave a small snort, trying to hold in his laughter. It only took him a moment to give in and laugh right out loud. Simon looked more than a little perturbed.

 

“So, who made you do that? Joan?” Jim guessed.

 

Simon ducked his head and then laughed too. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I told Joan what you were doing and made the mistake of laughing about it.”

 

Jim crossed his arms and arched an eyebrow in response. “And?”

 

“And she was so pissed off at me that my backside is now missing several chunks,” the captain admitted ruefully.

 

The Sentinel nodded. He could believe that, having witnessed some of the former Mrs. Banks’ meltdowns.

 

“And I’ve, uh, been thinking. She’s right and so are you. So, I’d…” he came to rambling stop.

 

“You’d what?”

 

“I’dliketodoitwithyou.”

 

Jim’s brow furrowed up at that. Even with Sentinel hearing, he couldn’t decipher that gobbledygook.

 

“What?”

 

Simon dropped his face into one open hand and gave a groan. “I said, ‘I’d like to do it with you’,” he reiterated.

 

Jim just stared at his friend for a moment. Of all the things that Simon could have said, that was something the detective never thought he’d hear him utter.

 

“I see.” Ellison shook himself. “That’d be great, but I’ve only got the one ensemble. It took me almost two weeks to get it, even using express delivery.”

 

“That’s, uhm, no problem,” Banks muttered, blushing furiously again. “Apparently the Home Economics class at the high school has a couple of these suits for their Planned Parenthood classes. Joan graciously borrowed one for me. It’s down in my car, right now.”

 

‘I’ll just bet she did,’ Jim thought. Out loud, he said, “sounds good, Simon. I’m glad you can join in on the fun.”

 

Banks glared at his good friend and mumbled under his breath. Jim pretended he couldn’t hear the captain griping.

 

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Blair heard a noise and looked up. He saw Jim hesitating at the top of the stairs. The anthropologist wasn’t sure if he was unsure because of embarrassment from wearing the pregnancy suit or hesitation about navigating the stairs.

 

“Jim?”

 

“Hey, babe.” Ellison sighed and, taking a firm grip on the railing, walked slowly down to the ground level. It took him a while, much longer than usual. The newly “pregnant” man eased one foot down at a time, finding his way, because he couldn’t see where to step anymore.

 

‘Ah, worries about falling,’ Blair decided with an internal nod.

 

“How are you doing?” Blair asked as he looked Jim over. Before the other man could answer, the French doors to Blair’s old bedroom opened and Simon came out.

 

“Good grief.” Simon snickered when he saw Jim, with his new belly and breasts, standing there. “Do I look as silly as you?”

 

Jim just grinned at his boss. Blair had to admit that the two, big and buff men looked a little ridiculous, dressed as they were.

 

‘Do I look that dumb?’ Blair silently asked himself. He smoothed his extra large shirt down over his tummy. For the first time in months, he felt shy and insecure.

 

Simon and Jim walked over to the couch, trailing behind Blair like a couple of stray puppies. Banks tripped over the edge of the area rug and stumbled into Jim. Both men tottered dangerously, thrown off balance by their new additions.

 

Blair took a quick step back, hoping to avoid being crushed if the two, much bigger men, actually fell. Luckily, they grabbed one another’s arms and were able to regain their balance.

 

“Well, crap. That wasn’t fun,” Simon admitted; the momentary whimsy of earlier evaporating in the face of his unsteadiness.

 

“That’s for damn sure.”

 

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Simon leaned forward…farther…farther… With a grunt, he reached his goal—and picked up a magazine off the coffee table. His much larger tummy made it difficult for the captain to bend over the low lying table.

 

Banks immediately began to fan himself with a copy of Anthropological Monthly, a sturdy journal-magazine that Blair often contributed to. The thick periodical looked just right in the 6’4” man’s hand.

 

“Damn, I’m hot,” he lamented. “What’s the thermostat on anyway?”

 

Jim looked at the small box…from his perch on the couch. “It’s…no, that can’t be right.” The Sentinel leaned forward and zeroed his sight in closer.

 

“What?” Simon asked peevishly.

 

“The thermometer reads at 72 degrees.”

 

“I don’t believe it.” The dark skinned man glared at the tiny, inoffensive box.

 

Blair watched the older men’s antics with a jaundiced eye. He’d been there, done that for several months now. He snorted.

 

Simon and Jim both turned inquisitive looks towards the pregnant man. “It’s called hot flashes, guys,” Blair explained.

 

Jim frowned, remembering all the times that Blair had complained about being hot. And he hadn’t been sympathetic at all.

 

“I’m hungry,” Blair declared suddenly.

 

“I’ll get you something, babe.” Jim tried to get up from the low-lying, deep-cushioned sofa. He didn’t have much luck.

 

Simon automatically started to help his friend. He floundered around himself though, not having any more luck than Jim had.

 

Blair shook his head. He’d started to warn them about not sitting down on anything with arms to help yourself up; especially, something that soft.

 

“You could just take those things off,” Blair suggested, waving a hand at the sweating men and their empathy bellies.

 

“No!” Simon insisted. “I’ve sworn I’d wear this all weekend and I will.”

 

The anthropologist rolled his eyes. Ignoring his husband and their boss, Blair walked into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door. He stood staring at the contents for a few minutes, but nothing appealed to him. He had a craving, but he wasn’t sure what it was for. The young man shut the refrigerator door and gazed around the kitchen, his eyes roaming the countertop until…

 

“Ahhhh,” he sighed. That hit the spot.

 

“Sandburg? What are you doing?” Simon sounded horrified. He and Jim had finally escaped the jaws of the killer couch.

 

Blair lowered the glass jar. “I wanted some pickles,” he explained.

 

“But…you aren’t eating pickles.” Simon gave Jim an imploring look, as if he doubted Blair’s sanity.

 

Blair shrugged. “We’re out, so I’m improvising.” He tilted the pickle jar up again and drank down some of the green liquid inside.

 

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Jim coughed. It was easy to see that Simon was just as overwhelmed by how hard it was to breathe.

 

Blair, Simon and Jim had been watching a movie on the television—an old comedy that had all of them laughing. That had been great until the two older men got out of breath. And now they couldn’t get it back.

 

The pregnancy suit had laces in the back, like an old-time corset, designed to show how much difficulty pregnant people had breathing. What with the extra fluid circulating around in their bodies, plus the weight of the baby on different organs, some expectant persons had a tough time in the later months.

 

Ellison looked over at his husband, horrified to realize that Blair had been experiencing this shortness of breath for probably quite a while now. Jim decided that he needed to keep a closer watch on his husband.

 

“No, I’m not going to stop. I can do this.” Simon was stubbornly refusing to admit defeat.

 

Blair got up by pushing against Jim’s shoulder. It was awkward, but that’s the price you paid if you were going to sit on something that soft and squishy, and Blair had wanted to sit by his husband.

 

The pregnant man strode determinedly over to stand behind the captain. He pulled Simon’s loose shirt up and yanked at the ties on the back of the corset, untying and pulling them loose at the same time.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he growled out. “I’ve had months to get used to this.” He reached over and loosened Jim’s strings as well. “Now stop being an ass,” he shouted.

 

Blair stomped over to the stairs. His dramatic exit was marred slightly by having to ride the slow lift chair up to their bedroom, but he had made his point. The younger man had watched as Simon, and Jim to a lesser degree, had whined and complained for the whole three hours that they’d had the suit on. Enough was enough.

 

Simon looked down at his hands and frowned. “Damn. I didn’t mean to upset the kid,” he admitted.

 

“Neither did I. This was supposed to give me a little understanding about what Blair’s been going through. I just didn’t realize he was going through so much,” Jim said with a grimace. He rubbed at his aching back.

 

“Yeah. I think Joan needs to get some roses.”

 

Jim smiled at Simon and pulled “the suit” off, tossing it across the back of the couch. “I’m gonna go check on Blair.”

 

Simon nodded, but didn’t say anything. He was also trying to extricate himself, but not managing it as gracefully as Jim did.

 

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“Chief?”

 

Blair pulled his pillow closer to his chest and didn’t answer. Jim wasn’t deterred. He sat down on the edge of the bed and began to rub Blair’s back. The young man moaned and unconsciously began to arch back against the massaging hand.

 

“This wasn’t what I wanted to happen,” Jim told his spouse quietly. The Sentinel could smell salt and knew that the younger man was crying. “Aw, babe, don’t cry.”

 

Of course, that made Blair cry even harder. “I’m s-sorry. I can’t help it.”

 

“I know you can’t.” Jim grimaced. He was only making things worse.

 

“Do I look dumb?” Blair asked in a Sentinel soft whisper.

 

“What? No, of course not. Why would you ask something like that?”

 

Blair shrugged one shoulder. That one movement spoke whole volumes. “You two were making fun of each other. The way you walk and sit and were holding your backs,” Blair took a shuddering breath. “J-just the way I do.”

 

“Damn. No, Blair…” He gave Blair’s back a hard look. “Babe, please look at me.”

 

Jim tugged on his husband’s hip and shoulder. Blair resisted and then let himself be rolled over. The miserable look on Blair’s face broke Jim’s heart.

 

“Oh, babe, no. You don’t look dumb or ridiculous, or anything even remotely in that area of the ballpark.” He took a tissue out of the box on the bedside table and wiped at Blair’s miserable looking face.

 

“Simon and I…well, you have to admit that a couple of twits like us do look silly in maternity outfits.” The corners of Blair’s lips quirked at that. “And I don’t know what Simon was thinking, but I saw him standing there and had an image of him explaining his ‘miracle’ to Joan and Daryl.”

 

“I can’t see his ex-wife or son being very happy with that,” Blair admitted with a little chuckle.

 

“Not really, no.” Jim saw that, even though Blair was smiling, his eyes still looked a little sad. “I’m sorry that this has upset you. And I am soooo sorry that I haven’t been more sympathetic about everything that you’ve been going through.”

 

“Don’t beat yourself up about it, Big Guy. Until you actually experience stuff, like the hot flashes and just how badly your back hurts sometimes, you don’t have a frame of reference,” Blair told Jim, as his eyes began to droop.

 

Ellison could tell that his audience was fading fast, so he began to rub a hand over Blair’s forehead, soothing and relaxing the younger man. Jim checked his husband over, a little more thoroughly than he usually did.

 

Temperature seemed fine. Blair wasn’t overly hot, in fact, he was a little cool. Without jarring the mostly asleep pregnant man, Jim managed to snag hold of the blanket at the foot of the bed. He covered his husband.

 

Jim watched and listened and felt as Blair’s heart rate and breathing slowed and evened out as he slid into slumber. Jim gave Blair’s covered tummy a little rub and felt a kick. He quietly muttered, “Now, don’t you start up. Your daddy needs some rest and so do you, young lady.”

 

Apparently the admonishment worked because their unborn offspring quieted down. Jim smiled at the picture Blair made with his hair spread out behind him on the pillow and the multi colored blanket, the one that used to grace the back of the couch, pulled up to his chin.

 

Jim gave Blair’s cheek a soft kiss and then went downstairs, being sure to veer around the lift chair. Simon was leaning against the back of the couch, with a worried look on his face.

 

“I was imagining you, with your feet up in stirrups, panting and trying to deliver a baby, while Sandburg is standing beside you urging you to ‘breathe through the pain’,” the captain informed him. Simon grinned at the image. “A pregnant you would have ripped his head off.”

 

Ellison had to laugh at that image. “Yeah, I can’t picture any of us living with me going through the hormones that Blair has had to endure.” Jim glanced up the stairs. “So, you heard, huh.”

 

Banks snorted. “I may not be a Sentinel, but I’m not deaf either. Is the kid okay?”

 

Jim nodded. “He’ll be fine.”

 

“I’d never realized just how heavy a baby can be,” the captain admitted. “They’re so tiny when they come out, but lugging all the extras around for nine months must be just awful.”

 

The two of them unthinkingly rubbed the small of their backs in empathy. Neither of them would take the aches and pains of a pregnant person for granted again.

 

Chapter 20

 

"Hi, Sandy."

 

Megan's greeting alerted them all to Blair's presence. Joel enveloped the smaller man in an enthusiastic, if careful, hug.

 

"Hey there, Hairboy."

 

"Hi, H." Blair shook his head at all the nicknames he had. "How're you doing?"

 

"Can't complain, babe. What about you? Is that lunkhead you live with treating you alright?"

 

Simon noticed that Rafe, Megan, Joel and Henri all had intense looks on their faces. Blair grinned at his fearsome protectors and patted Joel on the shoulder.

 

"Yes, he's been really great," Blair admitted.

 

"Are you supposed to be out and about?" Simon asked. "Here sit down. No, not on that hard chair, take mine." Simon redirected Blair to his own soft and plush chair in the office.

 

Blair blinked in surprise. He'd been maneuvered into the office, onto the chair, and had his feet up on a footstool before he knew what was happening.

 

'Where in the world did somebody get a footstool from?' he wondered in a daze.

 

"Uh, yeah. I can get out once in a while."

 

'Very once in a while,' he admitted to himself.

 

His friends were looking at Blair speculatively, as if they didn't believe him. "Are you sure that's not an..." Joel frowned as he searched his memory for the correct word, "obfuscation?"

 

Blair laughed. "Ri-ight. Like Jim doesn't keep a close eye on me."

 

The five people, who were crowded into Simon's office, all nodded their heads in agreement. Blair watched them, absently thinking how they looked like a line of bobble-head dolls in the back window of a car.

 

"I had a doctor's appointment," he admitted. "Just a check-up," Blair reassured them, holding up one hand in appeasement. The pregnant man shifted a little in the chair, trying to get in a more comfortable position.

 

"Lean forward a second," Simon said.

 

Blair did and a firm pillow was placed behind his back. He made a happy noise when the pain in his back decreased dramatically. A few moments later, Blair heard a small click and felt a cool, and welcoming breeze, on his face. It didn't matter that it was in the middle of winter—to the pregnant man, it was as hot as Hades.

 

"Here you go, Blair."

 

The anthropologist opened his eyes, which he hadn't realized he'd shut, and saw that Rafe had gotten a cool drink for him. Blair had to smile in appreciation. Obviously, Simon had a heluva lot more empathy now. It was nice to be pampered.

 

"Thanks, guys." He raised the bottle of pop up in a salute to his friends.

 

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“So, what’re you going to give Jimbo for Valentine’s Day?” Megan asked. The Australian woman was sitting on the side of Blair and Jim's bed, upstairs in the loft. She'd come for a visit and had insisted that Blair keep resting in bed, like he was supposed to the majority of the time.

 

“I have no idea,” Blair admitted. “Usually I can think of something he’d love, but this year…nothing.”

 

“Uhm. You could give him something personal. Like maybe…wear something sexy?”

 

Blair snorted, surprising Megan—and Jim, who was listening in, just outside the loft’s front door. Jim hadn't meant to eavesdrop—no, really—but when he'd arrived home, the Sentinel had automatically scanned the loft to check on Blair, and had accidentally heard the beginning of the conversation. The rest of their talk...he did eavesdrop on that.

 

“Like what? An awning?”

 

Blair rubbed the side of his stomach and shifted around on the couch, trying to get comfortable. The younger man still had to take it easy and that meant resting in bed most of the time.

 

“I’m the size of a frickin blimp here.”

 

The Australian woman shook her head at her good friend. “Sandy. You are one of the sexiest men I know, pregnant or not.”

 

Blair laughed and gave Megan’s hand a squeeze. “You're nice to say that.” He smiled, but it was obvious that Blair didn’t believe her.

 

"So...what are you going to give Simon for Valentine's Day?" Blair asked with a sly grin.

 

"What?! B-but how?" Megan sputtered.

 

"Oh, come on, Megan. I may not be a detective, but I can read the signs. As near as I can tell, you two have been seeing each other since last July."

 

Megan's mouth curled up into a smile. "How did you know?"

 

Jim wanted to know that himself. He was a detective and he hadn't noticed a thing.

 

"I saw the way you two were eyeing each other at the 4th of July picnic. He was watching you like you were the last slice of chocolate cake in the world and you were looking at him like he was covered in barbecue sauce...and you wanted to lick it all off."

 

The inspector blushed at Blair's description and then started to laugh. "Oh, Sandy. We did not."

 

"Yes, you did," Blair insisted. "And if I'm wrong, why are you now as red as a stop sign?"

 

Megan's face turned even redder. "I didn't say you were wrong," she admitted with a grin.

 

"Cool." Blair bounced a little in the bed. Inside his tummy, the baby bounced too. "So, are you going to surprise him with something slinky and sexy?"

 

"No. I don't think a satin negligee would look good on Simon," she said in all seriousness, and then burst out laughing.

 

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Jim leaned against his front door and thought for a moment. Blair's Valentine's Day present had already been bought and he was going to pick it up on the day itself...but obviously something else was needed. Something that would show Blair just how hot and sexy he really was.

 

Now, the Sentinel just had to figure out what that mysterious something was.

 

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Blair gasped and his eyes flew open. Someone was kicking him! It wasn't Jim though, it was the baby.

 

It was bedtime for Blair, so that meant their daughter wanted to play kickstart for a while. Blair had learned that while the pregnant person was awake and moving around, the baby was being rocked in its amniotic fluid and slept a lot of the time, so when the rocking stopped baby came out to play.*

 

The pregnant man rolled onto his side as quietly and easily as possible. He didn't want to wake Jim up...again. The detective had to get up in a few hours and go to work, after all. Blair would do a little reading and writing, but nothing too strenuous, so losing some sleep wouldn't hurt him.

 

Right?

 

Right. That's why Blair wanted to bang his head on the wall. He was tired enough anyway, without losing more sleep.

 

Jim rubbed a hand over Blair's swollen tummy, causing the younger man to jump. "Jim!" he gasped out. He could feel his heart pounding in his throat.

 

"Shhhh," Jim murmured.

 

He pushed back the covers and scooted down in the bed. Blair watched him, wide-eyed, and hoped Jim wasn't planning on sex, of any kind. The observer was just too tired for it tonight.

 

Jim wrapped an arm around the under curve of Blair's belly, cradling it, and laid his head on the bed beside it. Ellison pressed a kiss, just to the right of Blair's belly button, and then began to hum.

 

The tune was soft enough that Blair couldn't recognize the song at first, and gentle enough to give a fine vibration, without tickling him.

 

"Hush little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mocking bird..."

 

It only took a couple of verses for the baby to settle down in its watery bed and go back to sleep. Blair only made it through one verse. And Jim soon followed his young family into slumber.

 

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"Happy Valentine's Day, Jim." Blair handed the taller man a brightly wrapped package.

 

Jim opened it, very precisely. He was so careful, that the tape didn't tear the paper when it was removed and it could be used again to wrap something else. Blair watched the unveiling with amusement. It was always interesting to see how carefully Jim did things like that.

 

The Sentinel grinned when he unearthed the book. "All About Fishing," he read from the title. "Different fishing techniques from around the world," he continued. "Chief, this is great," Jim enthused. "Thank you."

 

Blair was treated to an energetic kiss. By the time they separated, Blair was panting, and the wild-eyed look Jim was giving him made heat pool in his groin.

 

"Later," Jim promised with a nip at Blair's lower lip.

 

"Uh, okay." It was hard for Blair to get his mind back on track, especially with the way Jim was acting.

 

"Now, it's your turn." Jim waggled his eyes and then winked. "First of all, your original present will be given in the morning." Blair frowned at that and Jim laughed. "Now, don't pout."

 

Ellison hopped up and walked around the back of the couch. He retrieved two, rather large boxes, from the floor and laid then on Blair's lap. "This one first," he directed, pointing at the one covered in purple foil paper.

 

Blair was much more enthusiastic when he opened a present. Almost immediately, the floor around the couch was littered with bits of paper.

 

"Oh, wow. Jim this is beautiful." Blair held up a pair of lounging pajamas. They were pale blue silk with a Japanese dragon embroidered on the back of the top. They were cool and silken and felt like heaven against Blair's hands.

 

"Let's put them on you." Jim pulled Blair up off the couch. He reached for the hem of Blair's loose t-shirt and started to tug it over his head.

 

"Wait a minute...here? You want me to change here? In front of the windows? What if someone sees, man?"

 

Blair's babbling didn't slow Jim down for even a fraction of a second. The very pregnant man blushed when he was standing in the middle of the living room floor, stark naked, his tummy sticking out for all the world to see.

 

Jim stared. He looked Blair up and down and gave a small growl at what he saw. With great reluctance, the detective began to reclothe his spouse. "Let 'em look, babe. Maybe it'll give them a thrill."

 

The observer blushed again, but this time it wasn't embarrassment that caused it. He was happy that Jim thought people might want to look at him.

 

Ellison frowned and gave the balcony doors a hard stare. "On second thought, let them get their own babe to look at," he said jealously. He shut the curtains with an emphatic yank on the fabric.

 

"Now, let's eat."

 

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It was only after a dinner, consisting of steak, grilled vegetables, homemade dinner rolls and a sinfully indulgent chocolate cake had been eaten that Blair remembered the other present.

 

"Can I open that now?" he asked.

 

Jim nodded and retrieved the package for Blair. He'd cleared the table off, so there was room for Blair to open it without getting up. This time, the box wasn't wrapped, because it didn't need to be. It was a wooden box, with inlaid mother-of-pearl on the top. The design wasn't any particular picture, but more of a swirl of concentric circles.

 

"Oh, Jim. Wow, this is incredible." Blair reverently touched the glowing cherry wood lid.

 

"That's not all, babe. Open it."

 

Blair lifted the hinged lid and inside were all manner of bottles. He picked up one at random and squinted to see the writing. Rose water. He looked at another. This one was cream for stretch marks.

 

"Let me show you what these are for." Jim picked up the heavy case and led Blair into the bathroom.

 

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Blair moaned and pushed back into Jim's hand happily. The last two hours had been heaven on earth for Blair.

 

Vanilla scented candles had encircled the big, claw-foot tub. The water had been slippery with the bath crystals that Jim had ladled in with a small scoop. Jim had helped Blair to sit down and then climbed in behind him. The large, old tub had been more than accommodating for the two men, plus part of a baby. The Sentinel had rubbed his big hands all over Blair's body, rubbing the oil into his skin and relaxing Blair, who hadn't realized how tense he was.

 

The evening hadn't ended there though. Jim had wrapped a large, fluffy towel around Blair and carried him over to his lift chair. Blair didn't need to be told how much Jim liked the cuddling, it was obvious from the large erection that the naked man was sporting.

 

Blair figured that the evening was pretty much over. He had never been more wrong.

 

Jim started at the top of Blair's body and worked his way down. The Sentinel opened the wooden case and pulled out the rose water. He poured a little onto his hands and then worked the soothing scent into Blair's hair while he gave the pregnant man a scalp massage. Special cream was rubbed onto Blair's feet and legs. Another bottle of cream was massaged into Blair's chest and tummy, making the stretched skin feel looser. Ellison had then turned Blair onto his side and rubbed cream all up and down the back of Blair's body.

 

He moaned again when Jim rolled him onto his back again. Blair hadn't felt this good in months.

 

A warm wetness covered his left nipple. Blair gasped and arched into his husband's mouth. Jim kissed his way across Blair's chest and latched onto the other small bud. Blair moaned at the feeling. Jim's answering moan sent bolts of arousal straight down his body.

 

In the meantime, Jim was employing the rest of his body too. His ever talented hands were roaming up and down Blair's sides, while he was rubbing himself against the side of Blair's hip. The angle was awkward, because Jim didn't want to squish the baby, but he managed.

 

One of Jim's hands reached under Blair's tummy and began to rub the line between where his stomach and pelvic bone met. Blair's hips shot up at that. He didn't know that that area was an erogenous zone. After finding such a treasure, Jim wasn't about to give it up. He let go of the now reddened nipple and slid down Blair's body, licking and kissing every inch of skin he could find, and used both hands to rub the spot Blair liked so much.

 

Blair began to pant and whimper under Jim's talented hands and mouth. The younger man felt the bed sway and opened his eyes. Jim was sitting up, watching him intently. Reaching over into the box, the Sentinel opened a bottle, one-handed, and poured out some more lotion. The cool liquid on Blair's hot penis was almost the younger man's undoing.

 

Keeping one slick hand on his penis and the other under his tummy, Jim began to rub and pump enthusiastically. Blair couldn't take his eyes off the wildness in Jim's eyes. The obvious appreciation that Jim had for Blair was pouring off of him in waves.

 

"Oh god, babe. You are so hot like this," the ex-Ranger told him. Blair heard him and this time he believed it.

 

The Guide cried out as he released in an explosion of nerve endings. The pregnant man gasped at the strength and length of the orgasm. When he was finally through, Blair slumped down on the bed in a barely connected pile of skin and bones.

 

Jim flopped down and to one side of his husband on the bed. He too was panting.

 

Blair forced his eyes open. There was no way he was going to leave Jim unsatisfied. "That was magnificent," he said in a whisper.

 

The Sentinel had a self-satisfied look on his face. The kind a man gets when he knows his prowess has been proven. Blair was thrilled to be able to give that to him.

 

"Let me help." Blair managed to raise his overcooked-noodle arm and began to reach down.

 

"That's okay, babe." Jim intercepted Blair's questing hand and gave it a kiss.

 

"But..." Blair frowned.

 

"I, uhm." Jim blushed.

 

Blair glanced down and saw evidence of Jim's own orgasm. "Oh," he said in surprise.

 

"Seeing you like that—so beautiful and so hot—it was too much," Jim admitted.

 

"Oh, wow." Blair grinned. Now, he had the satisfied smirk on his face. It's not everyone who can bring their lover off, just by coming themselves. "Cool."

 

Jim laughed and nodded in agreement. "Way cool."

 

Now that he didn't have to worry about Jim, Blair let himself be lulled into sleep. He never noticed Jim cleaning them up or removing the towels that had kept the sheets in pristine condition.

 

Blair slept better than he had in ages.

 

+-+-+-

 

Someone licking the end of his nose is what woke Blair up the next morning. Blair smiled, hoping there might be a repeat of the night before.

 

“Jim,” he sighed. The tongue gave another lick and it was…rough?

 

Blair’s eyes popped open and he jerked back when a small, furry, brown and black face was staring back at him. The little dog was startled too. It gave a hop backwards and barked a couple of times.

 

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Chief.” Jim appeared at the top of the stairs.

 

“Jim? What?”

 

Blair sat up, pulling the covers up over his chest. He was still nude from the lovemaking the night before and, while that had been more than fine at the time, he was a little self conscious now.

 

The little dog barked as it was slid closer to Blair from where it was sitting on top of the blanket. Blair grinned as the tiny creature tried to nip at the moving coverlet.

 

“This was the 3rd part of your presents,” Jim informed him.

 

Blair reached out a hand to the little dog and was thrilled when it licked the back of his hand and started wagging its tail. “Oh, Jim, it’s so cute.”

 

“She,” he informed Blair.

 

“What’s her name?” Blair scooped the dog up into one hand. She was small enough that Blair didn't need any more than that to hold her.

 

"She doesn't have a name yet." Jim sat down on the bed. Blair leaned against his side and contemplated the newest addition to their ever growing family. “Well, she did have one from her last owner, but I doubt you want to call her Precious.”

 

Blair wrinkled his nose at the oh-so-cute name. “No, not really.”

 

The dog was tiny and wouldn't grow any bigger, because she was about a year old. She was a Yorkshire Terrier and weighed only a couple of pounds. Around her neck was a very narrow, green collar that had tiny, diamond-like stones encircling it. Dangling from the front of the collar was a very small, gold bell. It gave the faintest tinkling sound when she moved.

 

"I've got another present for you both," Jim informed him. He reached down and picked up a set of miniature steps. "They're doggie stairs. This way she can get up and down off the bed by herself." Ellison gave Blair a warning stare. "She's been trained to go potty in a litter box, so that's no problem. This way you don't have to worry about her."

 

Blair stifled the grin that wanted to pop out and nodded seriously. Jim was so overprotective of him that it was almost comical. The Sentinel had decided that a pregnant spouse shouldn't do anything other than walk to and from the bed and couch and go to the bathroom by himself. And he was only supposed to do that when Jim wasn't there to help him.

 

"Gala=," Blair announced. "That's her name."

 

"Gala," Jim repeated. The young dog's head perked up and she gave a short bark. Jim laughed. "I think she likes her name, Chief."

 

"Cool."

 

Chapter 21

 

~ 8th month ~

 

Jim walked into the loft and paused to listen. Not hearing any voices he quietly locked the door and, using his super-quiet, Sentinel stealth mode, he crept up the stairs.

 

Blair was lying on the bed, snoring slightly. His glasses had ridden half-way down on his nose and were about to slide off. Jim carefully removed the eyewear and laid it on the bedside table. He moved the book that Blair had dropped when he fell asleep as well.

 

‘He’s rereading the Harry Potter books,’ Jim noticed. Blair loved the fantasy novels and had read them several times.

 

Gala raised up her head from where she was resting on the end of the bed. Jim held up a finger to his lips and mimed, “shhhhh”. The little dog gave him a long look and apparently he was deemed not a threat. The Yorkie laid her head back down and went back to sleep.

 

Jim grinned. Blair’s dog might be small, but she was a fearsome protector. Her bark, and her bite, had deterred more than one unfriendly visitor to the loft. And…she had sent several friendly visitors packing when she sensed that Blair was getting tired.

 

Ellison turned out the lights and slid under the covers himself. He figured that the four of them could take a little nap before dinner.

 

+-+-+-

 

“Hello, Jim.”

 

Ellison winced at the falsely sweet tone Naomi was using. The look in her eyes was anything but sweet…but he wasn’t going to say anything that might upset Blair.

 

“Hello, Naomi.” He took a deep breath and lied. “It’s good to see you.”

 

After the way she’d reacted to their engagement and marriage, ‘good’ was somewhat debatable. After the way she’d reacted to Blair’s news about being pregnant…it was downright unlikely.

 

But Blair was sitting it his chair, looking so worried, that Jim hadn’t the heart to do anything but what he did. Ellison walked over and gave his lover a kiss and then knelt down beside his chair.

 

“How are you doing, babe?” he asked quietly, aware of Naomi’s disapproving presence behind him.

 

“Pretty good.” Blair grinned. “She’s really active today.” He placed Jim’s hand on his tummy. Their daughter felt like she was doing cartwheels in the younger man’s stomach.

 

The Sentinel ignored everything and everyone except the awed look in Blair’s eyes and the sound and feel of their child. For once, Naomi seems to realize that this is a moment to be quiet…and she did.

 

+-+-+-

 

“I can’t wait to see my new granddaughter,” Naomi enthused.

 

Blair raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at his mother. “New?” he asked speculatively.

 

Naomi laughed and swatted at Blair’s leg. Gala gave a tiny growl, one that Jim barely heard, so it was a cinch that Blair and Naomi would have missed it. He hid a smile—even Blair’s pet realized how fake the red head’s enthusiasm seemed.

 

‘She acts like there has never been a problem,’ Jim groused to himself. Ellison knew that his mother-in-law was a master at pretending, so he wasn’t really surprised. But he gritted his teeth and went along, for Blair’s sake.

 

“Don’t be silly, sweetheart. She is naturally my only grandchild.”

 

“So far,” Blair quipped.

 

“What?” The smile froze hard on her face. Icebergs were forming along her hairline.

 

“Nothing,” Blair said innocently. The look he gave Jim was full of mischief though.

 

They had discussed the possibility of having another child, but neither one liked the idea of Blair having, yet again, several more surgeries. He was just yanking on his mother’s chain.

 

“More tea, mom?” Blair asked with a big smile.

 

+-+-+-

 

“Thanks, Big Guy,” Blair whispered.

 

Jim rolled over until he was facing the younger man. “For what?” He scooted as close as he could, considering how much room Blair’s tummy took up.

 

“For putting up with Naomi.” Blair smiled at the look on his husband’s face. “I know she’s not really happy with the situation,” he waved a hand between Jim, himself, and the baby he was carrying. “It’s just…she’s my mom.” He shrugged helplessly, not able to explain it any more than that.

 

“I understand, babe.” Jim leaned forward and gave Blair a kiss. “Hey, I’ve put up with my dad for years, this is no big deal.”

 

Blair smiled at the comment and, after putting a hand behind Jim’s neck, he pulled the Sentinel in for a much more thorough kiss.

 

Chapter 22

 

Kevin and Delia Hawks were finally found.

 

After the couple had murdered their son and daughter they had gone into hiding, doing heaven only knows what. Every cop in Cascade, and the surrounding towns, had been on the lookout for the perpetrators of such an horrific crime.

 

Today they’d been found in a cheap motel room outside of Olympia. Both were dead—one lying on the bed and one on the floor in a macabre recreation of their children’s deaths.

 

From the note left under the plastic ice bucket the cops learned that Kevin Hawks had apparently tired of sneaking around and wanted to turn himself in. Delia had had other ideas.

 

She’d shot her husband, written the suicide note, and then shot herself.

 

When questioned, people in the neighboring rooms had admitted to hearing the couple fighting and then shots, almost an hour apart. No one had cared enough to see what was going on.

 

The file was closed on a gruesome case that ended with the deaths of four people—two of them completely innocent. No one was really happy with the results, but at least the Hawks’ wouldn’t be hurting any more children.

 

+-+-+-

 

~ Nine months…and counting~

 

+-+-+-

 

"Hey, Jim."

 

"Joel. Come on in."

 

Jim stood back from the door and let their visitor enter. At almost the same instance, Blair waddled--errr, walked--out of the bathroom.

 

"Hey, Joel," Blair greeted.

 

"Hi, Blair." The older man smiled congenially. He'd had a soft spot for Blair since the first time he'd met him. "How're you feeling?"

 

"Pretty good," Blair admitted with a bright smile.

 

And he looked good too. Pregnancy obviously agreed with Blair. His cheeks were a slight shade of pink and he had the pregnancy glow people always went on about.

 

"That's good. We've missed seeing you down at the station," Taggart informed him. "People ask about you all the time."

 

Blair looked happy at the news. "Really?" He grinned. "Cool."

 

"Oh, before I forget, I have a present for, well, the baby."

 

Joel handed a brightly colored bag to the pregnant man. It was one of those present sacks that had tissue paper stuck in the top to hide the present. This one was yellow and green, with different colored balloons decorating the front. The tissue was a pale pink.

 

The small bag looked strange in Joel’s large hand. It seemed more natural when Blair was holding it, especially when the young man perched it on his tummy to open the present.

 

"Ohhhhh, how sweet!" Blair exclaimed. He held up a stuffed Kanga—of Winnie the Pooh fame—complete with a little baby, Roo, in her pouch. "Thank you."

 

"Yes, thank you," Jim agreed.

 

"I'm glad to do it." Joel blushed at how well his little present was received. He went on to talk with the two men, and they passed a pleasant afternoon.

 

+-+-+-

 

"I'm sorry to bother you, but we needed your signature."

 

Simon seemed embarrassed to be standing in Jim and Blair's bedroom. His gaze kept flitting around the room, like he didn't know where to look. It really seemed to disconcert the captain that he was talking with Blair while the other man was lying in bed.

 

"It's no problem," Blair said, trying to put him at ease.

 

The Guide's signature was needed on a case he'd helped Jim with, months ago. It was only now coming to trial and more eyewitness forms were needed.

 

"Here you go." Blair handed the sheaf of papers back to the captain.

 

"Okay...I'll exchange with you." Simon took the forms and handed Blair a soft wrapped bundle. This time the gift wasn't in a bag, but wrapped in tissue paper, with a large, clumsily tied bow around the middle.

 

Blair took the present and silently opened it. He smiled at the stuffed Tigger he opened. It seemed like Winnie the Pooh was going to be a theme where the baby was concerned.

 

"Not all the presents should be for the baby," Simon explained.

 

"It's for me?" Blair asked delightedly.

 

"Yeah," Banks admitted. "I thought who has more bounce than Blair. I couldn't think of anybody, so I settled for the second bounciest."

 

Blair laughed and ran an appreciative finger over the orange and black striped animal.

 

The grin on Jim’s face told Simon that his present was appreciated by more than just the recipient. Even Gala wagged her tail at him.

 

Chapter 23

 

"When's his due date?"

 

Simon cringed. Jim had just settled down, a little, when one of the uniformed officers asked her question.

 

'Here it goes again,' Banks waited for the pacing to begin.

 

"The twenty-first," Jim said eagerly. And just like Simon had predicted, Jim began to twitch.

 

"That's great," the other cop said. "Good luck.

 

"Jim." The detective looked up when his captain called to him. "Why don't you come in here for a moment."

 

Ellison followed the older man into his office. "Just three more days." He sat down in the comfortable chair Banks had for visitors, but he couldn't get comfortable and jiggled his foot up and down.

 

"That's close," Simon admitted. "How's the kid taking it?"

 

Jim snorted. "Better than I am," he admitted.

 

"And...would that take much?" Simon teased.

 

"No, not really." Jim gave a small laugh. "I hate it that Blair's going to have more surgery."

 

Simon nodded. He watched Ellison thoughtfully. "You're lucky in some ways though."

 

The Sentinel raised an eyebrow. "Oh? In what way?"

 

"One word—labor." Simon enunciated the word 'labor'.

 

Ellison winced. "True. That's the one thing he won't have to go through. It's about the only thing though." Jim rubbed his hands down his jean covered legs and sighed. "I'll be glad when this is all over."

 

"Yeah," Simon agreed. "This has been really hard on the kid."

 

Banks leaned back in his chair. "I remember when Joan had Daryl." Simon shook his head. "We'd gone to the carnival, even though she’d been feeling a little off that day.”

 

“The carnival?” Jim asked in surprise.

 

“Yeah. Oh, we didn’t ride any of the rides or anything. We walked around and had a good time.” Simon grinned. “I won her a stuffed teddy bear in the ring toss game.” He smiled in remembrance. “Do you know, Joan still has that little stuffed animal.”

 

Simon stared down at his desk, lost in memories. He and Joan had had some really good times. There had been a lot of doozies too, but at least enough time had passed since the divorce that he could remember the positive ones too.

 

“We went home that night and Joan realized she was in labor. She…” he shook his head bemusedly. “She insisted on taking a bath before going to the hospital.”

 

Jim smiled with him. The Sentinel couldn’t see Blair insisting on cleaning up first, but he had no trouble picturing himself acting that way.

 

“Oh man, that was Saturday night and she didn’t have Daryl until Sunday afternoon.”

 

Ellison looked at the captain in horror. “Crap. What happened?”

 

“The labor pains kept varying. One time they’d be two minutes apart, the next ten. They couldn’t even give her something for the pain, because they were afraid it would stop the contractions.”

 

Jim shook his head. “Why didn’t they do a c-section?”

 

“It was a Catholic hospital, they don’t believe in interfering with nature like that.”++ Simon tossed his hand up in the air.

 

“Fortunately, at about 1 in the afternoon, her labor settled down. She had Daryl at 3:02.”+++

 

“So, see. It could have been a lot worse. Blair…” Jim nodded his head and then started, jumping slightly. "What's..."

 

Ellison pulled out his cell phone. The captain realized that Jim must either have it on vibrate mode or had the volume turned down low enough that only a Sentinel would hear it. He gave a quick glance at the display and frowned.

 

"Babe?"

 

Simon watched as Jim's eyes widened and the detective jumped to his feet. Alarmed, Simon did the same. Something was obviously wrong with the pregnant man.

 

'No!' Simon's mind shrieked. 'Please, god. Don't let anything go wrong no.'

 

"Alright, Chief. I'm on my way. Just try to stay calm."

 

Banks grabbed up his coat and raced out after the detective. There was no way he was going to let an upset Ellison drive—a calm one was enough of a menace.

 

"Jim?" he asked.

 

"Blair's having labor pains," Jim said, as they entered the thankfully empty elevator.

 

"What? How is that possible?" Simon asked in astonishment.

 

"According to Dr. McPhereson, a few of the men have experienced some pains. But it's different for a guy, because there's nowhere for the baby to come out."

 

Simon thought that over as they raced across the parking garage to his car.

 

'Poor Blair isn't getting out of anything,' he thought ruefully.

 

+-+-+-

 

Blair moaned as another pain curled through his abdomen. Beside him on the couch, Gala whimpered in empathy. She didn’t like seeing her master hurting, but there wasn’t anything to bark or nip at.

 

“Thanks girl. I’ll be okay though. Jim’s on his way.”

 

Gala gave a little bark. She totally agreed. Jim would make everything better.

 

The front door flew open and Jim raced in. Simon was just a few steps behind him, gasping as he tried to get his breath back—Jim had run, full out, all the way from Simon’s car.

 

“Babe?”

 

Jim dropped down onto one knee and took in Blair’s sweaty and pale face. He didn’t bother to ask if Blair were alright, it was obvious that he wasn’t.

 

Blair smiled shakily up at his husband. He’d been thrown for a loop when the young man realized he was in labor. Everything else had been thought out and planned for—well, mostly anyway—but this, this he wasn’t sure how to handle.

 

“Let’s get you to the hospital,” Jim said with a smile.

 

“It looks like your daughter is anxious to get here,” Simon added. He picked up Blair’s overnight bag and waited for Jim to help Blair stand up.

 

“Y-yeah, I guess she is.” Blair couldn’t stop shaking. He knew it was from nerves, but that really didn’t help much.

 

Simon pointed to the framed picture on their bookcase. It was a copy of the ultrasound, the one that showed the baby sucking her thumb. “Well, she’s such a cutie, we’d better help with her debut.”

 

Blair laughed and felt a little better.

 

+-+-+-

 

"Have you given a thought to names yet?" Caroline asked, trying to distract Blair from the pain.

 

"Yeah, her name is going..." Blair stopped to gasp as his stomach twisted up in a contraction. His body kept trying to rid itself of the baby that wanted to enter the world, but had no place to exit.

 

Caroline waited patiently. She needed Blair to be as still as possible to do the epidural and he certainly couldn't be immobile while in the middle of a labor pain.

 

"Easy, Chief. I've got you." Jim was standing in front of Blair, supporting him.

 

Blair relaxed as the pain ended. He laid his head on Jim's shoulder and panted for a couple of seconds. The epidural wasn't really very painful, due to the numbing agent already put on his back. Almost immediately, Blair felt the lower half of his body going numb. Jim had to help him lay down.

 

The younger man looked up at his doctor. "Peru."

 

"Pardon," she asked at the non sequitor.

 

"Her name is going to be Peru Isabelle."

 

"Oh." She gave a little laugh. "That's a very pretty name."

 

"Thanks." Blair smiled over at Jim. They both knew the significance of the name. Peru, for obvious reasons, was important to both of them. Isabelle was Jim’s grandmother’s name.

 

+-+-+-

 

“Okay, here we go,” Caroline smiled at Blair over her surgical mask.

 

Blair looked over at Jim who was watching him back. “We’re almost there, babe,” Jim tells him encouragingly.

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Blair flinched. There wasn’t any pain when she made the incision, just some pressure, but he almost panicked anyway.

 

“Chief? Are you hurting?” Jim, of course, noticed.

 

Caroline stuck a worried pair of eyes over the surgery drape. “Blair?”

 

“N-no, it doesn’t hurt,” he admitted. She seemed satisfied and went back to the surgery.

 

“Take it easy, babe.” Jim leaned closer and kissed Blair’s forehead. “Everything will be fine,” he reassured his lover.

 

Blair closed his eyes and concentrated on Jim—the feel of him, the smell of his sweet breath and the soothing sound of his voice. This calms him down like no sedative ever could.

 

A baby’s thin cry broke the silence he’d surrounded himself with. Blair opened startled eyes and looked into Jim’s loving ones.

 

“And here she is,” Caroline declared.

 

One of Blair’s arms is stretched out to the side with an i.v. attached, the other is stretched the other way, with a blood pressure cuff strapped on…and yet he is still able to snuggle with his new baby.

 

Jim lays Peru onto Blair’s chest and holds onto the tiny newborn with one hand and caresses Blair’s head with the other. Both men were crying happy tears of joy. The baby watched Blair. She blinked tired, cloudy blue eyes at him.

 

“Jim…”

 

“She’s so beautiful, babe. Absolutely perfect.”

 

“Our baby,” Blair whispered, as if saying it any louder would make her disappear like a bit of fluff in the wind.

 

“Yes, ours.”

 

+-+-+-

 

“Six pounds and thirteen ounces,” Simon informed the waiting crowd. To hear the captain talk you would have thought he was one of the proud parents himself. “And she’s nineteen inches long.”

 

“That’s bloody wonderful.” Megan surreptitiously wiped her eyes. After all, she had a tough guy, err, woman, image to maintain.

 

“How’s Blair doing?” Joel asked.

 

“He’s fine. Jim said that he keeps waking up to ask about the baby.” Simon grinned.

 

Henri shook his head. “He won’t sleep for a year.”

 

The friends laughed and agreed that Jim was going to have his hands full keeping Blair from wearing himself out taking care of the new baby.

 

Chapter 24

 

~ Coming Home ~

 

Jim wondered what was up with his friends; they’d been acting weird all morning.

 

The whole MC’s gang had shown up at the hospital to help Jim bring Blair and Peru home. The Sentinel had been grateful for the help. Blair had received several bouquets of flowers and about a dozen of those Mylar balloons, and those just from friends and colleagues.

 

Jim, William, Steven, Naomi, and their good friends from the station had added a whole florist’s shop worth to the mix. The Sentinel honestly didn’t know how he would have transported all that, a man who’d recently had surgery, plus a brand new baby, home.

 

But they’d been grinning and giving each other funny looks the entire time, like they had a secret and were dying to share it. He and Blair had exchanged wary looks, neither one of them was up for anything hinky right now.

 

“Ah-hem.”

 

Jim looked up when his father cleared his throat. Blair was still sitting in the back seat of his father’s huge sedan, with the door open, waiting for Jim to help him out.

 

“As you’ve probably guessed,” the older man began, “we have a surprise for the three of you.”

 

“Unh huh.” Jim glanced around at their friends. All of them were grinning like loons. “Should we be worried?”

 

“I hope not,” William admitted.

 

Megan and Simon shook their heads no. Steven patted his father on the back and gave his brother a wink.

 

“Come on, Chief. Let’s see what’s going on.”

 

He carefully eased the anthropologist up and out of the car. Blair winced as his abdominal muscles protested the movement. The postpartum man had stayed in the hospital for five days. That was highly unusual for a normal c-section, but since Blair’s case was still very rare, they were being super cautious. It hadn’t helped when Blair had developed an infection on day three of his hospital stay.

 

“Do you remember Mrs. O’Dailey?” William asked unexpectedly.

 

“Of course,” Jim answered with a frown. “She’s lived next door to us for almost a year.”

 

“She moved a couple of weeks ago,” Blair supplied. “I’m not sure where she went.”

 

“Seattle. She’s now living in a little condo, closer to her daughter. This way she doesn’t have to worry about maintenance or going to the doctor’s.” William smiled as he imparted the news.

 

“How do you know all that, dad?” Jim asked suspiciously. William just smiled enigmatically. Rafe and Henri exchanged knowing grins.

 

Blair paused, leaning heavily against Jim’s arm. “I hope the elevator’s working, man. I don’t think I can make it up the stairs,” he admitted.

 

Since that really hadn’t been a funny statement, the two men were surprised when Megan laughed. Jim scowled at her, but it was hard to glare at the woman who was carrying his daughter’s car seat—and, of course, his daughter.

 

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” William admitted.

 

Jim and Blair saw what he was talking about when they arrived at the elevator. The doors opened and instead of their old, rickety and not very reliable elevator, there was a brand new lift in its place.

 

“Wow.” Blair said, impressed by the well carpeted interior. “Thanks…dad,” he said quietly.

 

“You’re welcome, son. This is for the whole building.”

 

Jim stared at his father in astonishment. “Yeah, thanks dad.”

 

William smiled. “You two will need a bigger place now,” he added, still smiling.

 

“I know,” Ellison admitted. “We hate the idea of moving is all.”

 

“That’s what I figured.”

 

Jim’s dad preceded the couple down the hall. By the time they’d arrived at their front door, all of their loved ones were lining the hallway around the entryway.

 

“Uh oh,” Blair summed up.

 

“Yeah.” Jim eyed the group, trying to guess what was going on.

 

“Surprise,” William whispered, an unsure look on his older face.

 

Stephen reached a hand around the partially open front door and flicked on the light. Jim made sure he had a firm grip on his husband and they walked into their home…and stared.

 

“Wow!” Blair exclaimed. Jim was speechless.

 

What once had been a good sized loft, with one big, open room, Jim and Blair’s upstairs bedroom, and Blair’s tiny ex-bedroom…was now just a fraction of their space. The loft twice as deep and twice as wide as it had been a mere five days earlier.

 

There was a dining room and another bedroom where Mrs. O’Dailey’s apartment used to be. Behind the original loft and Mrs. O’Dailey’s, the two apartments that used to be there were now a part of Jim and Blair’s home, as well.

 

“Dad? How did you manage all this in five days?”

 

The senior Ellison laughed. “This has been in the works since Blair was four months along,” he admitted. “I bought those,” he indicated the two rear apartments, “months ago. Mrs. O’Dailey finally agreed last month. The carpenters had done everything they could, short of tearing walls down.”

 

“This is incredible,” Blair told him. He gazed around their home, one hand on Jim’s arm for support.

 

William beamed. Now that he wasn’t worried that Jim or Blair would be upset about the change, he was a happy man.

 

“It really is,” Jim agreed. His attention had been captured by the state-of-the-art kitchen. Gleaming surfaces bespoke of a cleanliness that would make even a Sentinel weep.

 

“I-I can’t believe you did all of this.”

 

“Well, it’s not completely finished. The walls are all primed, but you two can tell the painters what colors you want. Likewise, any rooms you want carpets in, you just tell the contractor.”

 

Blair looked down at the hardwood floors incredulously. He couldn’t imagine covering that loveliness up with a carpet. Then he thought of their baby’s delicate knees and her crawling on unforgiving wood.

 

“Maybe some area rugs,” he compromised.

 

The staircase, along with its lift chair, was still in the same spot. It was a good thing that the chair hadn’t been removed, because almost as soon as the homecoming had begun, daddy and child needed to take a nap.

 

Jim and Blair bid farewell to all their friends. After a quick hug—by Jim—and a longer one from Blair, William and Steven left as well.

 

The Sentinel held the carseat and walked along beside Blair as he rode the chair up to their room. Their bedroom was still the same, sort of. Now, it extended backwards, to make it twice as big. Jim walked to the other side—after Blair was sitting on the bed, of course—and sure enough, this side looked down on that portion of the loft, just like the front side did.

 

One major change was a little more substantial barrier at either end. No longer was there a single wire keeping them from tumbling down onto the main floor. There was instead a mesh obstruction, bolted solidly all along the sides and bottom of the opening. That way, no little girl would ever accidentally fall off.

 

The other half of their bedroom had a partition that could be moved back to make the two rooms one or closed for more privacy. On that side was a nursery.

 

Jim and Blair had talked about what they wanted for their little girl’s room, but hadn’t had the space for most of it. William had provided the space and added the accessories they hadn’t purchased.

 

The brass crib they’d purchased was tucked into one corner, covered in the white eyelet and pink bow bunting. They’d also found a very nice changing table that was a pale oak. Blair had spent some of the time he’d been cooped up in bed painting flowers all over the drawers. It had taken Blair a long time to accomplish this, not because of a lack of talent, but because he could only paint a little at a time, so as not to be bothered by the paint fumes.

 

William had gone into his family’s voluminous attic and dug out some family heirlooms. An antique chest-of-drawers and dresser were found and polished to gleaming. But he also found an old fashioned carousel horse and rocking chair. The chair was covered in the same white and pink that was on the baby’s bed.

 

“Jim, it’s beautiful.”

 

The Sentinel turned around and looked at his lover, his partner, his mate, his friend and his husband. The curly haired man was sitting on the side of the bed holding their daughter in his arms. The little beauty was still sleeping peacefully, her nose snuggled into Blair’s neck. The sun was sending rays in through the sunlight and made the area around the bed seem to be in a spotlight.

 

“It certainly is,” Jim said, a lump in his throat.

 

Chapter 25

 

Epilogue: 10 months later

 

"Kwat."

 

"Blair, did you hear that?!" Ellison called to his husband excitedly.

 

"Yes! Did she say what I thought she said?"

 

Jim nodded, a big grin on his face. Both men knelt down beside their precocious daughter. "Talk to your daddies again, sweetheart," he encouraged her.

 

The little girl looked up at Jim and then over to Blair. Her little face was serious. Light blue eyes peered out of a mop of dark, curly hair. She tilted her head to one side as she considered them, looking just like Jim when he was Sentinel-listening.

 

"C-cat," she said seriously, and quite plainly.

 

"Her first word," Blair yelped. It was strange that her first word wasn't Daddy, but they'd live with it.

 

"She must mean her baby." Jim said, pointing to the stuffed kitty-cat that Naomi had given her granddaughter on her first birthday.

 

"Unh huh." Blair handed the stuffed animal to their daughter. "Here it is, my little Ru." Ru was their nickname for Peru.

 

The little girl clasped one hand over a stuffed ear and clutched the animal to her chest. She frowned, making her bottom lip pooch out in frustration. "Cat," she said again, bouncing up and down...and looking over by the balcony doors. Both Jim and Blair looked over. Their mouths dropped open at what they saw.

 

There was Jim's spirit guide, the panther, and Blair's, the wolf...that wasn't altogether unsurprising. But rolling around on the floor at their feet, worrying a little mouse between its paws—was a very unique animal.

 

It was half wolf/half jaguar. She had a long, thick tail like a jaguar, but the smaller pointed ears of a wolf. Her fur was brindled, some black, some brown. The little kit/cub gave an excited yip as she got more excited, playing with her toy. But when it rolled from between her paws, she gave the tiniest little growl.

 

She had to be Peru's spirit guide.

 

"Jag^," Peru said, pointing to the little cub/kit. The animal looked up and when she saw the little girl pointing, she sat up and gave an excited yip. From between her paws, the mouse peeked out playfully. "Mousie," Peru christened the littlest spirit.

 

The two fathers looked down at their daughter and up again at each other in trepidation. Not only was the girl talking exceptionally early, but she had gone from a vocabulary of none to several words in the space of a few minutes.

 

"Uh, Chief..." Jim began.

 

"Daddy," Peru said clearly, looking up at Blair with adoring eyes. Before Blair had more than a chance to get teary-eyed, she turned to Jim. "Papa."

 

"Jim," Blair whispered. Jim was too overwhelmed to answer him. Peru wrapped her small arms around first one of Jim's and then the closest one of Blair's legs and hugged. Jag gave a tiny growl. The Sentinel and Guide glanced over. Their spirit guides were wrestling with Jag. Mousie was sitting atop of the jaguar's head.

 

Jim and Blair gave each other a searching look. A spirit guide that young...what could it mean?

 

The End

 

 

A/N: Here’s the full set of lyrics for the title song.

 

King of the Road

By Roger Miller

 

Trailer for sale or rent

Rooms to let...fifty cents.

No phone, no pool, no pets

I ain't got no cigarettes

Ah, but...two hours of pushin' broom

Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room

I'm a man of means by no means

King of the road.

 

Third boxcar, midnight train

Destination...Bangor, Maine.

Old worn out clothes and shoes,

I don't pay no union dues,

I smoke old stogies I have found

Short, but not too big around

I'm a man of means by no means

King of the road.

 

I know every engineer on every train

All of their children, and all of their names

And every handout in every town

And every lock that ain't locked

When no one's around.

 

I sing,

Trailers for sale or rent

Rooms to let, fifty cents

No phone, no pool, no pets

I ain't got no cigarettes

Ah, but, two hours of pushin' broom

Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room

I'm a man of means by no means

King of the road.

 

# <g> That was my little nod to the television series, Soap.

 

++ No, I don’t have anything against the Catholic religion. I am just telling what really happened when my mother went to have me. Yes, this is a retelling of my birth. (ouch)

 

+++ <g> That’s when I was born.