From Black to Grey -- Part II
J. L. Blackstone
Come along with me and I’ll ease your pain.
~~Titiyo from the song ‘Come Along‘~~
Blair opened the report and began reading, deliberately ignoring the scraping, thudding sounds that were issuing from above as he’d done for the last ten minutes. The sudden sound of breaking glass however had him out of his office and up the stairs in a flash.
“Jim, what the hell are you doing?” Blair glanced at his lover who was sprawled face down across the mattresses, which themselves were askew on the frame while the lamp which had previously been on the dresser by the stairs was now in pieces on the floor.
“Got it!” Jim stated triumphantly, holding up a small piece of paper that he’d apparently pulled off the mattress.
Blair stepped forward and reached for the piece of paper. “The mattress tag?!”
“Yeah.” Jim stood up, a bright grin on his face. “I’ve been feeling the stiffness and hearing the damn crinkling of the paper since we got the new mattresses. That’s why I couldn’t sleep these last couple of nights.”
“But it’s only a half inch wide…” Blair shook his head and gestured with the paper. “Forget it. I’m glad you found the problem. Now hopefully we’ll actually get some rest tonight.” He turned and slowly walked down the stairs, still shaking his head in disbelief. One thing he could definitely attest to, living and sleeping with a sentinel was never boring.
“Chief, you ready?” Jim called while he took the list off the refrigerator door.
“Yeah, just give me a minute.” Blair was tucking the end of his grey shirt inside the waist of his jeans as he walked slowly down the stairs. “Got the list?” he asked, stopping by the coat rack, and tossing Jim’s to him before he shrugged into his own.
“All set,” Jim replied opening the door.
Blair smiled as he walked through, patiently waiting while Jim locked the door. “Making any headway?” Jim asked as they walked down the hallway towards the elevator.
“Yeah. I mean, I have only three patients tomorrow. Its just that I haven’t seen two of them in two months. I wanted to review their files before their appointments, see if there’ve been any complaints against them, you know.”
Jim nodded, pushing the button of the first floor once inside the elevator. He held the door open when it stopped, releasing it only after his partner stepped out.
“Hi Jim, Blair,” Chris greeted the two men.
Blair stopped just outside the entrance and smiled at their neighbor. “Hiya Chris, how’s it going?”
“Pretty good.” The tall blond man smiled in Jim’s direction before returning his attention to Blair. “How about you? Any word on the forensic certification?”
“Nah, not yet. I expect I’ll hear sometime next week.” A smile of chagrin accompanied the words and he shot a glance sideways up at Jim.
“He aced it, he’s just too modest.” Jim casually brought up his right arm around Blair’s shoulders and gave him a quick hug, releasing him after ruffling the long curly hair playfully.
“Hey, watch it! Just because you don’t have any!” Blair pushed Jim away and combed down his hair anxiously.
Chris laughed and continued into the building. “See you later guys. And good luck, Blair. I’m sure you got it.”
Jim smiled. “See ya later, Doc.”
“Yeah, see you, Chris.”
Blair stepped off the curb with Jim right beside him. “What is it with you and my hair, man? I’m seriously beginning to think that you have a fetish.”
Jim just grinned and got into the truck. “Whatever, Chief. While we’re still young, all right.”
“Yeah, yeah, man. You’re the one who spent half the afternoon taking our bedroom apart.”
Blair stared at the various colored boxes in front of him with a frown on his face. He’d already gotten Jim’s Frosted Flakes, now he just had to figure out what to get for himself. God, so many choices. He pulled out his glasses and put them on, turning the box he had in his hands over to read the ingredients. He didn’t want one with just sugar.
“Hhhmm,” Blair responded distractedly, grabbing another box and comparing it to the first.
Supposed to lower cholesterol, “Yeah.”
“What were you going to do, roll over and let him have your ass.”
Blair froze and turned to Jim in absolute amazement, dimly hearing from behind the sound of several boxes hitting the floor. He shook his head and turned around, giving a weak smile to the blushing woman who was valiantly trying to give the impression that she just hadn’t heard what Jim had just said.
He turned and strode up to his soon to be dead lover. “What the hell, Jim?!” he furiously whispered into the expressionless face. He shot a grin over his shoulder at the woman reassuringly as he grabbed the muscular forearm and began to usher Jim and the cart out of the aisle.
Or at least tried to.
The wall of muscle wasn’t going anywhere. Blair dropped his arm down to his side and stared into the light blue eyes for a long moment, dimly hearing the pushing of the cart as the woman left them alone in the aisle. “You want to talk about this now!?”
“Why!? And why here!?” Blair opened his arms wide in a gesture indicating the supermarket. He’d been asking, taunting, and eventually begging for Jim to tell him what he felt about him propositioning Brackett in the nine days since he’d been back from D.C. Jim of course had simply said that he was “fine”, “he didn’t want to talk about it”, “drop it, Blair,” numerous times, which only convinced him that Jim was upset and had gone into repression mode. As a result he continued his efforts to get Jim to open up until…
“Listen, Don Juan, if you want some sympathy about Brackett turning you down, go down to McGinty’s, I’m sure you’ll find lots of volunteers.”
Blair had instantly backed off, otherwise he would have belted him. Enraged that Jim would attack him in the one area Jim knew would hurt him the most. Shocked at the casual cruelty, even though he knew that it was a typical defensive Ellison move. Even though he knew this, Blair dropped the subject and the name “Brackett” had not been mentioned again, until now.
“The Doc said a neutral setting.”
“You’re listening to Dr. Aaron, now!?” Blair knew he was being unfair. Jim had been doing pretty good, excellent in fact with the therapy sessions since the kidnapping and rape--much better than him in the end. Jim had in fact taken to the formal counseling process. While he…strange as it had seemed at the time, it had taken one simple statement from Lee Brackett to dissipate the rage that he’d been plagued with since being raped and not the weeks of therapy.
“Okay fine. You want to talk about it, we’ll talk about it.” Blair crossed his arms over his chest and stared up at Jim.
Jim frowned. “Never mind.”
“Uh-uh, there is no way in hell, Ellison.” Blair arched his eyebrows questioningly as he challenged Jim.
“Okay, how about you answer the question, Chief?”
It took him a second to remember the question. “Yes.”
Jim’s face darkened. “That’s it?! That’s all you have to say?! No obfuscations, no let me explain, Jim?!”
Blair took a deep breath and met the angry eyes peering into his unflinchingly. “Yes, I would have let him fuck me. A blowjob was out, of course, so yes, I would have let him fuck me or I would’ve fucked him. Whatever he wanted.”
“I don’t believe you!”
“No, you want me to lie. You want me to have been drunk, or for it to be Brackett’s fault. Well it isn’t. I knew what I was doing, knew what I was going to do since I told you I was going alone.” He swallowed. “I knew it was cheating, that it would hurt you, but I needed to--”
“Fuck someone else!” Jim sneered.
“No, to get him out of our lives! Do you know what it was like for me? Knowing that I was being watched all the time. Everywhere I went, who I talked with, everything I did, day after day someone keeping tabs on me. What I was wearing, what book I was currently reading? Even if he didn’t do anything about it, he was STILL THERE all the time. I wanted it over. If sleeping with him was the price, then so be it. He would have been gone, and I could forget about…”
Jim inhaled sharply.
“…that day,” Blair finished haltingly, not realizing until he said it that it was the truth. “That it was finally over,” he whispered not seeing Jim anymore as his attention turned inward. Oh god, was that what he’d been thinking? Yes, that was part of it, even now he still didn’t know if he could have gone through with it. If he would’ve been able to physically allow Brackett to fuck him, a part of him relieved that he hadn’t had to find out.
“Excuse me, gentlemen. Is there something wrong?”
Blair suddenly noticed the handsome Hispanic man with neatly cut raven hair standing beside them with a manager’s name tag fastened to the front of his neatly ironed white dress shirt.
“No, thank you. Me and my partner just got into a discussion that we’ll be finishing somewhere else,” Jim replied in a conciliatory tone. “Come on, Sandburg. Let’s pay and head home.”
Blair stared thoughtfully at Jim’s back as they walked towards the front of the store, wondering what was going on in the tall cop’s mind. Wait, wasn’t this where they had started?
Jim stared at his lover’s profile as he quietly aided him in putting up the groceries that they’d just bought. The ride from the store had been mercifully silent. Blair hadn’t brought up the subject again for which he was eternally grateful. He’d known there was a reason why he didn’t want to talk about the damn trip and now he knew why. It just opened everything back up again.
He opened the refrigerator and placed the six pack of beer inside, next to the bottled water. Jim hadn’t wanted to think about what Blair had told him about propositioning the rogue CIA agent days ago, so he didn’t.
Hey it was second nature. Didn’t want to think what it meant, what it ‘signified.’ Nothing had happened. Blair hadn’t fucked around on him, so he thought he’d just let it go. Or so he thought. But he found himself at odd moments thinking about it, wondering, considering how Blair was still uneasy at times with sex since the kidnapping, just what the hell had he been planning on doing with Brackett?
Okay yeah, so the idea bugged him. Jim popped his neck in an attempt to relieve some of the tension he was feeling and turned around, surprised at the still figure that was leaning against the island counter staring at him.
Jim looked around at the empty counters, even the brown paper grocery bags were neatly folded and put away. Oops.
“You’ve been standing there, not moving for 8 minutes,” Blair quietly informed him, his arms folded across his chest.
“If he hadn’t turned you down, would you have told me?” Jim didn’t know where the question had come from, didn’t even know it was something he really wanted to know until the words had left his mouth.
“Yes.” Blair’s eyes met Jim’s steadily.
Jim sighed and leaned back, his hands clenching the counter tightly. “You wanted him.”
Blair shook his head. “No, not the way that you mean. I would never have normally even given him a second glance, especially after the Ebola thing but I didn’t know what else to do. I thought…”
“…he deserved it. For saving you,” Jim finished simply, his eyes daring Blair to tell him differently.
“Forget it, you don’t have to answer that.” Jim ran his hand tiredly through his hair and closed his eyes for a second. He didn’t know what this was going to accomplish. What the hell was the good in rehashing all this shit anyway, after the fact? This ‘sharing’ business, share what? The misery.
“I trust you, Blair. You know that, or should by now. I don’t know what I would have done if you’d ended up----” Jim pressed his lips together tightly before continuing, “and frankly I don’t want to know. I’m not exactly rational when it comes to you, as you probably have figured out by now.” Jim grimaced slightly, not surprised to see an weak smile flash across Blair’s face.
He stepped forward and brushed the back of his hand across the Blair’s cheek. “I love you. I’ll say I forgive you if that’s what you need to hear, although I don’t think there is anything to forgive.” Jim gently pressed his mouth against Blair’s, gently tracing the line between the full lips, delving inside the sweet warmth when they parted accompanied with a deep moan.
Blair moaned into the hot mouth, his hands reaching out to grasp the waist of Jim’s jeans, and quickly pulling him hard against him. He slid his hands down to clutch the muscular buttocks through the blue denim, and tilted his head back.
Jim took him up on his offer and began kissing him down his neck while he reached around and picked Blair up completely.
Blair locked his legs around Jim’s waist, trying to help him out with the weight of carrying him, laughing breathlessly after he was placed on his back on the kitchen table. “I like the way you think,” was all he managed before his mouth was once again consumed by kisses.
He thrust his tongue hungrily inside Jim’s, his hand sliding across the smooth chiseled face before grasping his neck to pull him even closer. To his dismay, Jim backed off, leaving him to lie there panting.
Jim stood up and pulled the front of the white t-shirt he was wearing out of his jeans. With one quick up and over motion, it was gone, revealing a golden chest. He caught one of the restless ankles as it was trying to wrap tightly around him and quickly untied the shoelace. The shoe carefully removed and the sock slowly peeled off to reveal an ankle that demanded to be kissed.
Blair raised his head in shock and stared in disbelief after Jim kissed his leg. “Jim?” The other foot was quickly treated to the same treatment, although this one was left with a lingering caress to the bottom of his foot that made him fall back, trembling, onto the table.
The sound of a jean unfastening made Blair groan and he anxiously unbuckled his own belt, needing to feel skin against his or he was going to explode. Closing his eyes tightly at the wonderful feel of warm hands on his hips, sliding down his jeans and underwear until they were off. The resulting rush of cool air against his enflamed skin utterly blissful.
But even better was the return of lips on his, the delicious tongue once again plundering deep while the bare chest rubbed against him. His previously wayward legs finding their place again, wrapped around the lean waist, the ankles occasionally falling down to brush against the muscled buttocks.
Laughing into the kiss as the sweat from their activity, allowed his easy slide towards the edge of the table. Blair’s hands roamed down the wet back muscles until they rested on the muscular butt, spreading his legs even further to pull Jim tightly to him. His hips canted up in obvious invitation, burning need firing his veins.
He clutched at the buttocks, his head falling back, his eyes opening to a pair of ice blue eyes that were staring intently down into his. His breath hitched slightly as the head of the familiar cock shifted, trying to get into position. The flexing of the buttocks underneath his hands heralding the slow continuous thrust inside.
Blair exhaled shakily at the intense feeling, his eyes still locked with Jim’s.
“I love you, Blair,” Jim stated in a harsh breathless tone. “But I won’t share you.” He readjusted his hold, his hand sliding down from Blair’s hip to grip his thigh. “I won’t share this.”
Blair swallowed and stared up for several long seconds. The hurt in Jim’s light blue eyes unmistakable. As was the warning.
Jim forgave him for his stupidity while in D. C. but wouldn’t do it again.
“I understand,” he replied with a solemn expression.
At his words, Jim began to move with slow deliberate thrusts.
Blair tightened his grip on the butt in his hands, pulling Jim deeper inside him. He tilted his face up, and pressed his mouth to the tense lips, thrusting his tongue inside the hot mouth in quick deep kisses. His tongue hungrily slid against Jim’s while his eyes drilled into the blue eyed gaze and tried to express all the love he felt for the tall stoic cop.
He moved his hips to meet each frenzied thrust, tearing his mouth away to give a cry of delight as the pulsating organ inside him brushed his prostate. Blair panted heavily as Jim’s pace increased, each stroke bringing them closer, until with a short scream he came.
Blair panted, and looked up curiously at Jim whose movements had stilled. “Jim?” he questioned softly and wiggled his hips slightly. Jim smiled and placed a tender kiss on Blair’s mouth as he slowly withdrew before pushing back inside, holding Blair’s eyes with his as he stroked inside the tight body, coming after six deep thrusts.
Each thrust felt like a brand, searing Jim deep into his soul. Blair reached up and cradled the heavy weight that collapsed half on him and half on the table. He ran his hand gently over Jim’s hair and murmured softly, “There is no one else for me, Jim. Only you. Only you.”
Jim looked up at Blair’s face for a long second and kissed him.
They stayed like that for a long while, Jim only moving once to gently withdraw with a frown of sentinel concentration.
“What’s up?” Blair asked softly, his hand reaching up to brush the rigid jaw line.
“Making sure I didn’t hurt you,” Jim replied, his sense of touch set high as he withdrew looking for and to his regret finding tears inside Blair as a result of the dry entry.
“They’re tiny and you know it,” Blair alleged, slapping Jim’s shoulder playfully. “Believe me if I was hurt you’d know it,” he stated exaggeratedly. He was quite vocal when in pain and he knew it. But they’d done this before with no permanent damage. Dry entry was no problem, usually because he was so excited that what little pain that resulted was usually vaporized in a lustful blaze. However, they didn’t make a habit of barebacking.
Blair sighed at the feel of the head scraping along inside him until only it remained. Jim paused for a millisecond before totally withdrawing, leaving him with the familiar empty ache. “I do like feeling you once in a while,” he murmured as Jim laid back beside him and rested his head upon his chest.
Jim smiled in agreement.
Blair closed his eyes, content to bath in the afterglow although he could sense Jim getting restless, probably worrying about the table. Actually he was surprised that it continued to hold the weight of two fully grown men especially after all the activity. He smiled at the thought before stating in an emphatic tone. “You’re cleaning the table, Jim. Not me.”
The tall man stood just inside Major Crime and watched the flurry of activity in the large open room for about two minutes before someone noticed him.
“Looking for someone, buddy?” Detective Brown asked, looking at the stranger from his brown patent leather shoes up to the light brown hair.
The detective gave a negative shake of his head. “And who are you?”
“I’m a friend of his, Joel Campbell. We met in D. C.”
“The FBI guy?”
The federal agent nodded his head, seemingly surprised that Blair had spoken of him.
“You’ll find him downstairs, third floor in the counselor’s office.”
“Thanks,” he replied to the detective’s retreating back before heading back towards the elevator.
“I don’t know, Blair…” The middle-aged man eyed the business card the counselor had just handed him warily.
“Jason, I wouldn’t recommend anyone who I didn’t believe could help you. Doctor Dukayne knows the drill,” Blair began, continuing in the face of the Sergeant’s skepticism. “Her father was a cop down in Texas. All she handles are law enforcement personnel and their families. She understands about the pressure of living with the job. She can prescribe you something that’ll get you over the rough spots. Think of it this way, sometimes you have a deep cut that needs to be held together to heal but is not serious enough for stitches. So you put a bandage on it to hold the edges together.”
Blair’s lips curled up in a half smile. Who would’ve thought that he’d end up advocating pharmaceutics? But even he realized that in some cases it was warranted like now. “Just try it temporarily. We don’t even know if she’ll prescribe anything. All I ask, is that you see her with an open mind. We’ll still have our weekly appointment. This is just a suggestion. What you do with it is up to you.”
Blair had found that it worked better to allow those who he counseled to make decisions themselves. Most of them felt like their lives were already out of their control and this allowed them a little back. He’d a lot of experience dealing with a control-freak after all in the past five years.
Only in extreme cases did he offer no alternative, either they go to a psychiatrist or go into rehab, depending on the problem in question. If they chose not to, the next step would be his recommendation that they be put on leave.
Sergeant Klein, however, wasn’t at that point quite yet. Jason would probably get better in a few months even with only these weekly visits with him at the station. It would just take longer. If the man was sleeping he wouldn’t have suggested Dr. Dukayne but since the cop wasn’t it worried him. Fatigue slows down reaction time which could be fatal in their line of work.
Blair doubted that the doc would prescribe him anything stronger than a mild sedative and not keep him on it for longer than a month. Once the man’s exhaustion was dealt with, his ability to handle the emotional stress would improve greatly.
Klein only had a mild case of depression brought about by one too many cases which ended up with someone dead. The last one being a five year old little boy who was accidentally killed in the crossfire. They still didn’t know whose bullet killed him, whether it was Cascade PD or the child’s gun smuggling relatives.
“I’ll give it a try,” Jason stated.
“That’s all I ask. I’ll see you next week.” Blair stood up and patted the man on the back as he opened the door. “You have my number if you need to talk.”
Jason nodded. “Thanks, Blair.”
Blair sat behind his desk and wrote a few notes about the session, once again amazed at the resilience of the human spirit. Of cops. It was all fine and good when a case succeeded but it was hell living when a case failed. To work in a field where failure holds the real possibility of death, not only for you but for your partner and anyone who happens to be around at the time.
Living day in and day out with this knowledge, that sometimes you’ll be too late and the only thing left to do is pick up the bodies. The courage it takes to get up the next day and put the uniform on again.
He shook his head still astounded that Cascade PD thought that just any psychologist or counselor could effectively counsel cops and their families. Blair snorted as he remembered how when he first started riding with Jim as an observer everyone thought the counselor at the time, Dr. Jensen was a complete and utter waste of time.
Blair realized how lucky he was in that regard. Cops wouldn’t talk to someone who they didn’t trust. Trust which had to be earned and Jensen with his academic and “normal” life hadn’t been able to earn it, while he’d been tested in fire, sometimes quite literally.
Thanks to Jim and his penchant for getting in trouble, well he felt like he’d been on the job 10 years instead of five. Most of the cops he counseled seemed to accept him as one of them which made his job all that easier. Half of the work already done.
He knew if he hadn’t worked as a counselor for several months before they came out, they would have encountered more flack about being gay. As it was he knew only a handful of officers who had a problem with it. He didn’t know what Jim heard with his sentinel hearing but it seemed that the ones who espoused the philosophy of “live and let live” outnumbered the minority of homophobic schmucks, thank god.
He’d had one of the latter sent to him for counseling but after realizing how the man felt within the first five minutes of the session had referred him to another counselor, Dr. Sullivan. The psychologist was on retainer with the department to handle his case overflow or those who refused to work with him due to personality conflicts etc.
He’d just closed the Sergeant’s file and stood up to place it back in the cabinet in the corner when a knock on the door stopped him. “Come in.”
The door opened to reveal one of the last persons he’d ever thought he’d see again. “Joel!” Blair immediately stepped around the desk and held his hand out to shake the FBI profiler’s hand.
“Hi Blair,” Joel greeted with a genuine smile, grasping his hand warmly.
Blair held Joel’s hand tightly in both of his hands, giving a comforting pat to the back of the hand before finally releasing it. “What are you doing in Cascade, man?” he asked, gesturing for the man to sit down while he perched himself on the corner of his desk.
Joel chuckled. “Your sterling recommendation about the wonderful weather of the northwest was just too good to let go by without verification.”
Blair laughed at the sarcasm, remembering too clearly one of the many “cold and wet is my world” alcohol inspired rants he’d given during that very long and hazy night.
“Besides, there was nothing left for me in Chicago.”
His smiled faded at Joel’s words. “I’m sorry, man.” Blair knew that Joel had been hoping that the attraction to his therapist, Polly would turn into something more. Which it probably would have if that sick bastard hadn’t kidnapped her as bait for Joel.
Joel shrugged. “It happens. She couldn’t see me without remembering.” He gave a bitter bark of laughter. “Its not every day that you get put in mortal danger because one of your patients has an obsessed serial killer as a stalker.”
“Joel…” Blair said softly.
“Yeah, I know.” For a few seconds his eyes turned distant before he focused his attention back on Blair. “So how about you? How’d you do on the test?”
Blair smiled ruefully. “I don’t know. I should be getting word sometime this week.”
“How are you doing, Joel?” he asked in a gentle but knowing tone.
“I’m off the seconal. Nightmares are gone…for the most part. My blood pressure is still high but I haven’t had a headache…well,” Joel grinned as he continued, “since that night with a certain consultant of the Cascade PD.”
“Oh man, I still remember that headache. What the hell did we drink?”
“Oh no, my friend. The better question is what the hell didn’t we drink that night,” Joel corrected him.
“You got that right.” Blair nodded in agreement, his face flushing in embarrassment as he thought back, not to the night but back to that morning when he woke to find out that Jim had stayed by an open phone line all night listening while he and Joel were passed out.
He stood up and picked up Sergeant Klein’s folder. “So you’re here on vacation, then?” he asked over his shoulder as he re-filed it, before closing the drawer and then locking it.
“No, I’m back on the job. LA’s out, so I thought I’d give Cascade a try. If I don’t like it here I’ll try Seattle, anyplace is as good as the other.”
“Where are you staying?” Blair asked as he began straightening the papers on his desk.
Joel shook his head. “Some hotel, till I can find a place.”
Blair smiled, he’d hoped this was the case. “How about you stay with us? We have a spare bedroom…”
“Jim won’t mind?” Joel asked suspiciously.
“I don’t see why. I live there and you’re my friend. You need a place to stay, so it’s a no-brainer.” Blair laughed and gestured for Joel to hand him his coat from the coat rack.
“How are things with him?” Joel asked as he stood and stared intently at Blair face while he answered.
“With Jim?” Blair asked while putting his coat on. “If you’d asked me that even two days ago I would have said okay, but now I’d have to honestly say we’re doing good, maybe even great,” he finished with a bright smile, opening the door to let the other man precede him out into the hallway before turning and locking the door.
“So he…” Joe fell silent not knowing how to word his question.
“Oh he’s backed off on the protectiveness schtick he was on or I would have kicked his ass. And from I was told by others, I wouldn’t have been the only one,” Blair laughingly informed as they walked down the hallway towards the elevator.
“I’m glad. One of us deserved for it to work out.”
Blair reached up and patted Joel’s shoulder before stepping into the elevator. “It’ll happen, Joel.” He punched the elevator button as he spoke, “all it takes is time.”
Jim looked up at the sound of Blair’s laughter and smiled. He glanced toward the clock and then back at the scattered papers across his desk. After closing the file he was working on, he activated the screensaver on his computer. He was putting on his jacket and turning toward the direction of the entrance of Major Crime when Blair finally walked in…with a man beside him.
“Hey Jim, you ready to go?” Blair asked when they met almost in the center of the bullpen.
“Yes,” he replied, his attention focused on the unfamiliar face on Sandburg’s right. The man was slightly shorter than him and had the unmistakable feel of a Fed. “Who’s this?”
“I see you found him,” Brown commented as he passed by the three men.
Blair’s flicked toward Joel for a second before returning to Jim’s face. “Jim, this is Joel Campbell. He just got assigned to the field office here.”
Jim’s eyes had narrowed in recognition at the name and felt his back stiffen. He knew exactly who the man was. He stared down at the extended hand for a long second before giving it a quick impersonal shake. “Agent Campbell.”
Joel nodded. “Detective Ellison.”
Blair frowned at the stiffness in Jim’s voice. “I’ve invited Joel to stay at the loft till he finds a place, Jim.”
Noting the soft rebuke in Blair’s voice, Jim simply gave a small. “Hmmm,” accompanied with a small nod.
All three men began moving towards the elevator.
“So where shall we stop for dinner?” Blair asked in a bright one as they all got into the elevator. “What do you feel like, Joel? You’re the guest of honor.”
The smile that formed on the Fed’s face was anything but pleasant. Jim kept his attention on the agent as they walked out of the elevator on the ground floor.
“Italian, Mexican, Chinese, barbecue?” asked Blair.
The man’s body stiffened curiously at the third suggestion. The tension obvious to his heightened senses as well as…Jim’s eyes narrowed as he took in the sloped shoulders and the man’s underlying tiredness. A tiredness that was much too pervasive for mere jet lag. His eyes narrowed. The man was suffering mild exhaustion at the least but it was the eyes that was the tip off. There was a blankness behind them that you’d usually only see in burnt out cops or in soldiers who’d spent way too much time in combat zones. The man had been out on medical leave…“Mexican sounds good, Chief.”
Joel only shrugged and followed them back into the elevator after picking up two duffel bags that he’d left down here behind the information desk.
Jim automatically picked up both bags once the elevator doors opened and exited out into the parking garage leaving the other two men to follow.
Blair simply shrugged at the confused glance Joel shot at him behind Jim’s back.
Joel hadn’t given any thought to what kind of car Blair’s boyfriend drove. He knew Blair drove a green Volvo. Blair had waxed on it along with a plethora of little details that he knew the tall cop wouldn’t like him to know about the friendly energetic man walking beside him.
So he hadn’t thought of what vehicle they were heading towards until Blair suddenly stopped short to let a truck pass. Only the truck didn’t pass, but stopped. He peered through the windshield and couldn’t stop from chuckling as he recognized the driver as Ellison. He let Blair precede him into the cab and sat dawn, tiredly drawing the seatbelt across his chest.
“So what was the final verdict? Mexican?” Jim asked as he pulled out of the parking garage.
“Sounds good to me,” Joel confirmed, leaning his head tiredly back against the seat. The conversation continued between the two men, but they seemed to sense that he didn’t feel like talking and so didn’t direct the topic towards him, keeping it to what cases Jim had worked on that day.
Although he didn’t know any of the people that came up often in their conversation, he found the sound of the two voices soothing as an ordinary conversation between a married couple can be. He hadn’t ever experienced it himself, but he remembered hearing his parents speak with that same fondness in their voices to one another.
“Hey man, you awake?” Blair asked softly.
“Yeah.” Joel lifted his head and looked around. Rosalito’s. He opened the door and stepped out.
“Rosalito’s has the best chilito in Cascade!” Blair assured him as he and Jim walked around the truck to stand beside him. He glanced from Blair to Jim curiously.
“Red or green sauce that is hotter than hell,” Jim translated holding the door of the restaurant open for both of them.
Joel shook his head and smiled as he walked in to follow Blair towards a table. He sat down opposite of Blair in the booth they ended up sitting in and picked up a menu. As he looked down the items he listened to the two men’s easygoing banter.
“No, Jim you’re not getting it.”
“Hey, you’re having all that cheese,” Jim grumbled.
“In a vegetable, Jim.”
“Yeah, a fried chili pepper,” Jim pointed out. “When did you become my mother?”
“When I have to listen to you bitch about heartburn for the next two days.”
Jim’s laugh caused him to look up. The cop’s blue eyes were sparkling as he bumped Blair’s shoulder playfully with his own. “You are so easy, Chief.”
“Are you gentlemen ready to order?”
Joel nodded to the waitress and looked over at the two men.
“Yeah, we’re ready,” Blair replied, “I’ll have the chilli relleno plate.”
“Chicken fajitas, hold the guacamole,” replied Jim as he reached over to place the menu back in the holder by the window, his hand crossing a patch of sunlight from outside and reflecting off the ring on his finger.
“..The enchilada plate…” he stated as he looked form Jim’s hand to Blair’s. The rings were identical.
“Beef or cheese?” the waitress asked.
“One of each, please.”
“What will you have to drink?
They quickly gave their beverage orders and then the woman was gone, leaving an awkward silence in her wake.
“So how did you two meet in D.C.?” Jim asked, glancing between his and Blair’s face a few times until remaining on his.
Joel swallowed and wished that he’d asked for something stronger than a coke. He got a small reprieve in the form of said beverage along with the two men’s being delivered just then.
“Well, I’d just finished yet another meeting with not one but two shrinks, each having a fine old time dragging out why in particular I thought I was now fit to go back to work. As a result I found the nearest barstool as quickly as I could once I was out the door. I hadn’t been there half an hour or so, I was still on my second drink, pacing myself you understand, when the stool next to me was taken by this long haired freak wearing blue jeans.”
At his description of Blair, Jim smiled sideways at his partner and gestured for Joel to go on.
“He asked me for the peanuts.”
“You were hogging them, man,” Blair interjected. “There was only one bowl for our end of the bar.”
“…so I passed him the bowl…”
“It was empty.”
“…and since all it had was a few peanuts, and the bartender was too occupied with the redhead at the other end of the bar, Mr. Genius here decided he’d go behind the counter and refill it…”
“It was no problem.”
“I’m not finished. Not only did he refill the peanut bowl but he decided he’d make me a drink that he’d just discovered called a Mudslide…”
“It’s wonderful Jim, it has Kahlua liqueur, Bailey’s Irish cream…”
“…and vodka,” Joel finished dryly. “And so began the night. Anything more is a bit fuzzy on my end.”
“Ugh, don’t remind me, that headache still haunts me,” Blair groaned, even though he was smiling.
“Let me put it this way, I didn’t need to take seconal to get to sleep for the first time in a while…”
Jim’s eyebrows arched at the drug’s name. “That I knew.”
Joel frowned in confusion. “What?”
Blair shot a dirty look at Jim. “Uuh, I called Jim when you fell asleep and didn’t hang up when I…”
“…passed out,” Jim finished for him with a shrug. “I kept the line open to make sure he was all right.”
“Oh.” He seemed to remember urging Blair to call his lover and talk to him about all the things the younger man had told, ranted about the control freak he lived and worked with during that long liquor drenched night. Apparently the younger man had taken his drunken advice. Joel winced at what he imagined what a drunk Blair had said. No wonder the cop wasn’t thrilled about him showing up in Cascade.
“Have you thought about what kind of place you want?” Blair asked, changing the subject.
Joel shook his head. “Something furnished.”
“That narrows it down some. How about we head out tomorrow and see what’s available?”
His gaze shifted between the two men’s. “Don’t you have to work?”
Blair shook his head. “I’ll be working with Jim at the station in the morning but I don’t have appointments tomorrow afternoon. It’ll give you a chance to sleep in and get some rest from your trip.”
“Sounds good,” Joel agreed taking a sip of his Coke.
The food arrived then, putting an end to all conversation save for the occasional appreciative word or sound for the food.
“This is where you’ll be sleeping.” Blair switched on the light in his office and gestured to the neatly made bed. “I know it’s a twin but we bought it for Jim’s niece, who we baby-sit from time to time. Actually you lucked out. The futon I had in here would’ve murdered your back. I was the only who could sleep on it.”
Joel stepped into the room and looked around. “It’s fine, Blair. I can still go to a hotel if it’s putting you out,” he said as he looked at the numerous files on the top of the desk.
“It’s no problem. Go ahead and lie down. I can see that your tired, man,” Blair suggested gently. He picked up Joel’s bags and placed them under the bed.
Joel sat down on the bed and leaned back against the wall with one leg half crossed on the bed and the other still flat on the floor.
Blair sat down in the chair and stared intently. Joel’s eyes were closed with his head resting back against the wall.
“How are you doing?” Blair gently asked.
The troubled eyes slowly opened and met Blair’s.
“Did you tell them?”
Joel snorted and looked over at the bookshelf. “No. If I had, I could’ve kissed my job goodbye. They would have discharged me for mental disability, Blair. You and I both know it.”
“Have you told anyone?”
The blue grey eyes turned and met his steadily. “Just you.”
Blair said nothing more, simply waited.
“You were right. It’s amazing to me that it took seven months for what passes as my wits nowadays to start tormenting me about it. What is it with me and that… Griffin’s dead. I made sure of that myself. It’s finally over. The nightmares about Lisa, the fire are gone.”
Joel gave a bark of laughter that held pain but no amusement. “Only to be replaced by my fucked-up psyche, replaying what that bastard…”
Joel closed his eyes tightly and once again tilted his head back to rest against the wall. “When it was actually happening I really didn’t think anything of it. It was just another thing to get through. All I could think of was Polly. That she’d die because I’d screwed up again. That I’d forgotten how sick the fucker was, led him right to her, just like Lisa.”
“That’s why it’s happening now,” Blair said softly. “At the time you were more concerned with Polly’s life than your own. What happened to you, what David Griffin…”
Joel’s eyes shot open and stared fixedly into Blair’s at the name.
“…did to you wasn’t important. You decided this when you handed him your gun. Your mind was focused only on that. The job. Getting Polly out safe. It was merely a means to the end. Getting him to trust you. Afterwards you were too busy to dwell on it. It’s only been in the last couple of months that things have slowed down enough for your mind to…”
“What, process it? I know the spiel, Blair,” Joel challenged angrily.
“…accept it. You didn’t feel it at the time, not really. You said it yourself,” Blair reminded him of what he said back in D. C. “I bet the nightmares you’re having now, that’s all your getting, aren’t you? The feelings, the sensations you experienced during the attack.”
Joel nodded and looked down, noticing for the first time that his hands were clutching the comforter tightly in his fists.
“That’s the way it was with me. When Thornton’s dick was actually in my mouth, all I could think about was choking to death. What it actually felt like inside my mouth, in my throat, what it smelt like, the sounds he made, all that didn’t start haunting me until hours, even days later.”
Blair smiled weakly at the other man and took a deep breath before continuing. “It took a while but the nightmares do go away.” He looked down and said softly. “But I still get anxious sometimes when I’m kissing Jim and well, I remember now you see and don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget enough to...” he let himself trail off, sure that the other man understand the implication.
“How long did it take for the nightmares to subside?”
“A couple of months,” Blair answered, “but I was also seeing someone, Joel. Even if the only thing I did was yell at the poor guy.”
“That’s why I’m here,” Joel softly stated the obvious with a small sigh. “You’ve already helped me a lot, Blair. I don’t know why, but I can talk to you. I needed to that night.”
Blair smiled. “We both did. I’ll always listen. Now get some rest.” He turned back just before he closed the door to comment with a soft chuckle. “I’ll tell you something funny about therapy. In my case anyway. I don’t know if it was the circumstances or whatever, but Jim got more actual ‘help’ from the sessions than I did.” Blair shuddered theatrically, “He’s more emotionally balanced now than before, as frightening as that thought might be to you.”
Joel smiled wryly. “Why does that not surprise me.”
Blair laughed again as he shut the door softly and made his way up the stairs to Jim.
Jim looked up from the mystery he was reading as Blair stepped up the last stair into their bedroom.
Blair began unbuttoning his shirt as he walked towards the bed. “So how much did you hear?”
Jim shook his head disbelievingly at the amusement in Blair’s eyes. “Not much. I turned my hearing down to normal when I realized that it was…personal.”
Blair’s eyebrows arched at the choice of word and continued to undress, balling up the discarded clothing before shucking them into the hamper. He pulled the covers back and got into bed perhaps jostling around a bit more than he needed to.
Jim suddenly pulled Blair up into his arms to lay breathless on his chest. “Want something, Sherlock?”
Blair looked down at the book that had fallen to the floor. “Weren’t you reading?”
“Yes, I was,” Jim replied. echoing the distant politeness of Blair’s tone.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to disturb you.”
“Oh really?” Jim laughed and placed a quick kiss on the full mauve-colored lips while he adjusted his hold around the firm shoulders to pull Blair even closer, the hairy legs now settled between his.
He slowly looked over the tanned handsome face with a tender expression, his right hand reaching up to gently comb the few stray curls falling forward against the left cheek, back behind Blair’s ear. “You just couldn’t leave the work at home, could you?”
“I guess not.” Blair looked down at the bare chest, his hands slowly stroking over the smooth pectoral muscles he was currently resting upon.
“You wouldn’t be you if you could.”
Blair snorted, “Yeah, right.”
Jim’s arms tightened, not allowing him to pull away. “I’m serious, Blair.”
Blair looked at Jim’s serious expression and swallowed.
“You help people, Chief. It’s a rare ability and one, for all my gifts, I don’t have.”
“I’m good on the physical side of things,” Jim grinned at the lecherous thrust against his groin which Blair gave in agreement. “You need backup, I’m your man, while you…you’re much better at feelings. You try to help without being asked. Campbell, well I can guess what happened. He needs your help and maybe it’s that fate and destiny cra--stuff that you’re always talking about that you guys met in that bar.”
“He helped me as much as I helped him. We both needed to get some things off our chests.”
Jim tensed before slowly relaxing. “Things you couldn’t tell me, right?”
“Things that can only be revealed to a stranger, Jim. Someone without any preconceived notions in their head, who just listens, who knows no one, plus who you will probably never see again.” A wry grin flitted across Blair’s face at the latter words.
“Is this a problem, Blair? Campbell, here?”
“Isn’t that a question that I should be asking you? I did kind of spring his staying at the loft without asking.” Blair sighed as the light blue eyes continued to stare steadily into his. “No, actually I’m kind of relieved that Joel showed up. I was worried about him. Wanted to know how he was doing.”
“He was raped, wasn’t he?”
Blair nodded. “His last case. No one knows.”
“I don’t mind. Him being here, either in the loft or in Cascade. I knew by the time we got to the restaurant that he was okay. Is he all right, though with us considering what happened to him?”
“He seems to be, god knows what happened really has nothing in common with our sex life save for the physical act itself.” Blair tilted his head at an angle and peered at Jim. “Actually, I think being around you will help him in some ways that I can’t.”
“What?! But I’ve never been…”
“It has nothing to do with being raped, Jim. It has to do with the courage to go on afterwards. It doesn’t matter after what. A helicopter crash, a robbery, assault, rape. It’s living with the memory of what happened, and persevering in spite of it. And with you being a cop, you share a similar outlook.”
Jim nodded. “I’ll do my part, Chief.”
Blair grinned. “I didn’t have any doubt.”
“Oh yeah? Is that because I’m now ‘emotionally balanced’, Freud?”
“You were listening?!”
“I just caught the end!” Jim grabbed the hands in his fists that were playfully going for his head.
“You better have.”
“I promise,” Jim whispered against the parted lips before delving into the sweet mouth for a deep kiss, cutting off Blair’s laughter.
Joel glanced up towards the ceiling at the sound of laughter and smiled before falling asleep.
I hope you liked Come Along. The Love and Friendship series shall continue. Most probably with a story set after Hands of Time.
Thank you for reading.
Chilito -- Spanish. Pronounced chee-lee-tow. Salsa; hot sauce. Alternate slang. little dick; insult.