Title: The Shunammite
Fandom: The Sentinel
Class: First Time
Rating: PG-13; M/M sex, but not described explicitly. (I am not into "who did what and with which and to whom)
Disclaimer: The characters and general background, of course, belong to Pet Fly et al.. I am advised by counsel that FanFic, so long as it is not written for money, comes under "fair use".
Summary: The guys find out that they had been going at cross-purposes. Could take place anytime after Blair moved in but before TSBS.
Archive: yes, wherever; tell me, though, please
Comments: Please to [email protected]
Anyone watching Det. Ellison and his companion would be put in mind of a Rottwieler accompanied by a Jack Russell terrier--one large, muscular, quiet and (on occasion) dangerous; the other small, loud, energetic and (on occasion) highly annoying. They were walking down Prospect Street towards their apartment; walking because both of their cars were in the shop. Det. Ellison's truck was just in for routine maintenance; Blair Sandburg, M.A., however, was worried about his Volvo, which was constantly threatening to die. Fortunately the garage, whose owner gave them a discount out of gratitude for their help over a certain incident, was not too far to walk---perhaps farther then most people would like, but Jim's long legs and Blair's quick steps ate the distance up faster than most people's more sedate rate of speed.
The elevator was not working--again!---but both men were in good enough shape that a third-floor walkup was no hardship; again, the big man's long legs took the stairs two at a time, while the smaller man--not really small, he just looked it in comparison--seemed to bounce up as though he was made of rubber.
"Are you going back to the station?" asked Blair.
"No," replied Jim, "I told Simon about our transportation, and he said I could work on some files from home. I'm glad you showed me how to tap into the Department's computer from home--some things are a great deal easier now."
"Yes, but you find it even hard to leave problems at work at work now."
"I feel that I'm almost about to get an insight on that case, I just need to look over the file again. I'm missing something."
Blair bit his lip; he knew what case his partner referred to.
Several major shipments of certain chemicals had come into Cascade--and then vanished. All of the chemicals had legitimate industrial uses. However, the firms that had legitimate needs for such were a tiny part of the city's economy, not nearly enough to account for those shipments; furthermore, the few firms that did use those chemicals could account for all that they had brought in and used--and none of it was from the vanished shipments. The problem was that these chemicals had other, less benign usages; some of them could be used as raw materials for recreational drugs; others, for high explosives; still others for chemical warfare substances. Still, there was not even a rumor on "the street" about any of those things being produced in Cascade--except for the drugs, and these were not being produced in enough amounts to account for the missing chemicals.
"Do you have any ideas?"
"Something nebulous. . .I'm sure it will come to me."
"I'd love to stay and help, Jim, but I have a class; with the Volvo in the shop I have to take the bus, and that means I have to go now, or I'll be late."
"My turn to cook tonight. Chicken OK?"
As soon as Blair left, Jim took the chicken out of the freezer to thaw, took off his boots, stretched out on the couch, and put an afghan over his lap. He then took the file and opened it, scanning the documents in the hope that something would "click."
That evening, Blair returned to the loft, to find it dark and silent. At first he thought the Jim had gone for a run to clear his head, but as soon as he turned on the light, he saw the Sentinel sitting as rigid as a statue on the couch. A zone-out--and a bad one.
First things first. We aren't going to eat until much later; the chicken goes into the refrigerator to keep for later. Now, take the file off his lap, being careful to keep everything in order--in case there was an order.
"Jim, buddy, follow my voice. Come back to me, Jim. . . ." Blair repeated the phrases, over and over, massaging Jim's arms and shoulders. When that didn't seem to work, he took off the big man's socks and started to press the shiatsu point on the soles of his feet. After what seemed like hours--but was probably only less than fifteen minutes, the Sentinel relaxed and went limp--so suddenly that he slid from the couch to the floor. He wasn't stiff any more, but he was not showing any signs of awareness--and now he was starting to shiver.
Blair was not a big man, and he was an academic. However, he was not a soft, stringy Library-rat. He was an anthropologist and an archaeologist who had done much fieldwork--to say nothing of all the time he had spent chasing criminals with Jim. He was not endowed with rippling , Conanesqe muscles like, Jim, but he was whipcord over bone, and much stronger than he looked. It took some doing, but he managed to haul Jim up to his bedroom, strip him, and put him into his bed. Then the piled every blanket, quilt, coverlet, throw, and afghan in the house--he even unzipped the sleeping bags. Still the Sentinel shivered.
"'And they piled blankets upon him,'" quoted Blair, "'but he gat no heat.' Jim's older than I am, but not as old as King David was; and I make a rather odd-looking Shunammite maiden--but the principle still holds."
Blair wasted no time in stripping to the skin and sliding under the covers. He wrapped his arms around Jim, and tried to impart some warmth. It seemed to work, because he stopped shivering, and his breathing patterns indicated that he had shifted to normal sleep.
Blair had had a big day--he had walked more than he was accustomed to, followed by the emotional and physical demands of dezoning Jim, so it is no wonder that he too fell asleep.
"Well, here's a howdy-do. Not that I haven't thought about it," said Jim as they woke up in one another's arms.
Blair leapt out of the bed as though he'd been poked with a sharp stake. He grabbed a blanket draped it toga-like about his body, and rushed down the stairs. Jim took time to find his boxers, and followed somewhat more slowly, but in time to catch the Guide before he vanished into his room.
"Chief, Chief. . . .I was only teasing. Don't freak on me, now. . ."
"Jim, how can you say something like that? Even if you were gay, or bi. . . .well, guys like you don't go for guys like me."
"What do you mean, 'Guys like me'?"
Blair rummaged in his bookcase and pulled out one of his Art History texts.
"Page 250. The Spear-Carrier. Page 325. The Apollo Belvedere."
He pulled out another.
"Page 175; Michelangelo's David."
"Your point being?"
"These statues are the canon of the ideal masculine form for European and Euroamerican tastes, have been for the last few millennia."
He grabbed Jim's arm, and pulled them both in front of a full-length mirror.
"Which of us comes closer?"
Jim said nothing.
"Say it. There's no shame in bragging if itís true."
"Well, I guess I do."
"No guessing about it, big guy. Don't get me wrong--I don't resent that you look the way you do--the inside's more important than the outside, and I happen to think that the inside is pretty fantastic too--and it isn't your fault--not as though you had plastic surgery to look this way, but. . . .Look at me. D'you know why I eat the way I do? I've seen Grandpa Sandburg; if I don't watch what I eat I'll end up more-or-less spherical; I'm short and near-sighted and. . . .in short--pun intended--physically I fell into the shallow end of the gene pool. Normally I'm straight, but I'll admit I've had a bit of a crush on you, but I know I have no chance, so I haven't done or said anything about it until now and. . . ."
"Hold it, Chief. First, when did you realized you had feelings other than friendship for me?"
"Seeing you and Mom together. There seemed a 'spark' between you, and I started speculating about having you for a stepfather. . . .and then when she met your dad, thinking of you as a potential stepbrother. . . ."
"STEPFATHER! STEPBROTHER!!" roared Jim, and fell on the floor laughing.
"Laugh all you want, you hyena, but I realized that I did not feel either filial or fraternal towards you."
Jim stifled his laughter and got up.
"Chief, come here."
He led the smaller man to the sofa.
"Sit. Part of the reason I was laughing, Chief, is that while you were attracted to me and thinking I'd not want you, I've been attracted to you and thinking you'd not want me. I didn't want to damage our friendship either, so I kept quiet, but since the issue has been forced. . ."
"I was sure that, if you were inclined that way, you'd be interested in someone like. . .like. . .Simon, or Brian Rafe; or. . . .well, you get the idea."
"Chief, I felt as inferior to you intellectually as you do to me physically."
"Jim, you aren't stupid, and I'll not have you saying you are. . .You're a very smart man! I have the highest respect for your brains."
"I never said I thought I was dumb. I know I'm well above average--truth is no brag. But you. . . . .And you are not an unattractive man--I've seen women check you out; men too, for that matter. You aren't the classic type of male beauty that you have shown me to be--you're a more contemporary version."
Blair started to laugh.
"Have you ever heard the saying 'the cobbler's child goes barefoot'? Here I am--I'm a trained behavioral scientist and I couldn't see a classic pattern right under my nose!"
"Chief. . .Blair. Now that our feelings are out in the open. . .what do we do next? Do you want to get physical? I confess that I've never done 'it' with another man. . I don't know about you."
"I've never done it either."
"You mean with another guy. . . "
"I mean. . . "
"But your reputation. . . 'table-leg Blair.'"
"I never lied; I just let people assume. I've made out a lot, but I've never. . .never. . .as we said in high school 'gone all the way.'"
"You're almost thirty and. . . ."
Blair's blush was almost purple.
"Never mind, Blair. Let's just take it slow and see what happens. We'll not force the issue."
Gently, as though he was afraid to break something, he pulled his Guide to him and kissed him. First on the forehead, then on the eyes, then on the mouth. He tried to push his tongue in, but felt Blair stiffen."
"Don't you like it?"
"No, that's not it. I'm not quite ready. . . I'm sorry. . ."
"That's OK. Neither of us will push the other to something he doesn't feel ready for. Now, get dressed, or at least put on a proper robe or something. I want to discuss my zone-out."
Blair went into his room; Jim went upstairs and set the bedroom to rights, put the extra coverings back where they belonged, and started the chicken. Blair soon came out of his room in a set of Ranier sweats--fairly new ones--and a pair of knitted slipper-socks the old lady next door had made for him. Jim set up a couple of candles, and took out a bottle of white wine.
"This is a special occasion. Think of it as a semi-date."
He set out some celery and carrot sticks, and a dish of garlic-and-chive tofu dip.
"My talk of nutrition has rubbed off on you."
"I got tired of being yelled at for chips. . .besides, this tofu isn't bad if you flavor it right. Now, about my zone."
"Yes," said Blair, nibbling on a carrot stick, "What happened."
"Well, it occurred to me that one of the few neighborhoods we hadn't checked was here. There are a few old warehouses and factories that could conceal something. I knew how most of those chemicals smell, so I dialed down everything except sent and. . ."
"Now, see why you need a Guide? If I hadn't come along when I did. . .well, you might have died, or gone mad. They'd have shipped you to St. Callixtus' and had committed as a catatonic. Indeed, my theory is that some withdrawn mental patients might be Sentinels in zone-outs; I'm working with a psychologist at St. Callixtus to test my theory. You remember Sister Felicity?"
"The old hag I saw coming out of your office the other day. . . .?"
"No, Sister Felicity is between our ages, and not bad looking--if only she werenít a nun. Oh well. In any case, she has a Ph.D. in Psch., and was really interested. No, the 'old hag' you saw is Sister Maura; she belongs to a different Order and is a very distinguished historian. A delightful woman, too; when she heard about my project she was interested in seeing if some of the saints' legends were based on Sentinel senses."
"So, this Sentinel thing is not just Anthropology."
"No, it has implications for all the social science. I've tapped a Psychologist and an Historian; Sociology and Anthropology are close enough that I can do both. I'm thinking how I can get to Economics and Political Science? Now, how did we get sidetrack?"
"You were telling me about the nuns. In connection with St. Callixtus. Where you say I'm liable to end up if I don't control my senses."
"True. What if someone other than me found you? What would. . .could. . .he or she have done?"
"I know, Blair, and I'm sorry now."
"I didn't make those declarations to loose you. Did you get anything?"
"I think a whiff, but I zoned before I could lock onto it."
"Let's try again tomorrow. I haven't any classes tomorrow, so we can do it together."
"Good. The chicken should be ready by now. Let's eat."
By unspoken, mutual consent they put both the case and the new aspect of their relationship on hold. They spoke of inconsequential things, drank some wine, cleaned up a bit, and finished the bottle. Opened another. Watched the Jags game on TV. After the game, Jim started up the stairs to his bed.
"Chief, would you mind joining me? I kind of liked waking up to a warm body next to me. If you don't want to I won't press you to do anything more than just hold each other."
Blair agreed, and soon his former bedroom became the study/guestroom. They eventually solved the mystery of the chemicals, and their relationship grew. But those are other stories, for another day.
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