Author's disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended etc.
Author's notes: This tale is set aproximately 4 months after Time's Up. No sex in this one just plenty of angst.
Blair smiled as he spied the note sitting on top of the file folder as he walked into Conference Room B. Jim had said something this morning about a surprise. The smile vanished as he opened the folded piece of paper and began to read. He sat down with a thud, jarring the huge pile of case files strewn across the table.
'Shit!' thought Blair as he stared dully at the note he still clutched open in his hand.
'Oh man, Jim is going to go ballistic when he finds out about this!' he mentally groaned. He had never told Jim about the little 'gifts' Lee Brackett had been sending him periodically for over 4 1/2 years. There hadn't been a point until now. This was the first time he had even indicated that he was in the country, let alone that he wanted to meet.
'Meet,' Blair laughed scornfully at himself. 'He doesn't want to meet. He wants a DATE. This is going to go over real well with Jim.'
Jim had taken an instant dislike to the rogue CIA agent who had blackmailed him into committing a crime by threatening to release the Ebola virus in Cascade. That one had been too damn close for everyone's comfort, even Brackett's. Afterwards Brackett had disappeared into a bureaucratic abyss.
I mean the most Jim, with all his secret contacts was able to find out about Brackett after the CIA took custody of him, was that he was still alive and "they were taking care of it." After meeting several CIA agents over the past few years that was more worrisome than comforting.
'I wonder where Jim is now?' thought Blair as he headed out the door to find his partner.
There was no sign of Ellison in the bullpen as he walked into Major Crime, so he headed straight to Captain Bank's office. He gave two taps on the door before opening it at Simon's "Come in."
Without a word Blair walked over to the desk and handed the note to the seated man. The pleasant expression on the dark attractive face transformed into anger as he too quickly read the brief note.
"Where the hell did this come from Sandburg!?"
"It was sitting on top of a file in the conference room after I got back from the john. I don't have any idea how it got there," Blair said as he began to pace.
"Are you trying to tell me that bastard was able to just walk into a secured area in police headquarters and no one saw him. Son of a bitch!" cried Simon as he picked up the phone and barked, "I want an immediate shutdown of headquarters, no one unauthorized in or out. Suspect Lee Brackett is loose on the premises." Simon slammed down the receiver as he shot to his feet and strode over to his door.
"Taggart! I want a floor by floor search. Lee Brackett has been on the premises." Taggart's jocular face actually blanched at the name. "We don't suspect any bombs but just keep an eye out. If that bastard is still here I want him found. Understood?"
"Yes, sir!" replied Captain Taggart as he instantly began to coordinate the search. His squad would start at the top while Rafe and H would begin their search on the parking level. All personnel that were not in the middle of something were soon organizing themselves into various search teams.
Simon turned back into his office and closed his door on the flurry of activity that his words had set in motion in the bullpen. His focus returned to the curly haired man standing anxiously by his desk.
"Simon, where's Jim?" Blair asked as Simon sat down behind his desk.
"Interviewing payroll employees for the Danbury case. Why?" Simon said as he picked up the cigar he had left on his desk.
"He needs to be informed..."Blair began.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa Jim doesn't need to know anything. I don't want him going off half-cocked trying to find Brackett when we aren't even sure what these communications mean" argued Simon with a firm shake of his head.
"Damn it Simon! This time it's different and you know it. Brackett wants to meet tonight. I'm not keeping this from him anymore! Jim has a right to know! "
James Ellison was just leaving the elevator on the seventh floor when he heard his lover's light baritone voice raised in anger. Jim's face went still as he caught the tail end of sentence. His face betrayed nothing as he strode through Major Crime and straight into his boss's office without knocking.
"What do I have to know?" Jim asked the nerve along his left cheek visibly twitching as he controlled his emotions.
Jim's sudden entrance had shocked both men into silence as both had turned to stare at the tall muscular detective whose body radiated tension. Blair stared into the familiar blue eyes for a second before calmly and deliberately turning to pick up the note sitting on the desk in front of Simon and handing it to Jim without a word.
Simon just sighed as Sandburg's eyes meet his in challenge as he had picked up the note. He pulled open the filing cabinet on his right and got out a folder which he placed on his desk, a resigned expression on his face.
Jim took the note Sandburg handed him with a puzzled expression on his face. His eyes filled with cold rage as he read the note. His gaze locked on Blair's anxious blue eyes as he coldly demanded, "What the hell?! BLAIR!!"
Blair winced at the tone and the use of his first name. Jim usually only publicly called him by his given name when it was a life or death situation.
"Lee Brackett has been occasionally communicating with me since October 1995" Sandburg calmly stated while his heartbeat accelerated and his body tensed.
"WHAT?!" Jim yelled so loud that the windows of Simon's office vibrated. Jim took a step towards Blair as his outraged voice continued, "AND YOUR TELLING ME THIS FIVE YEARS LATER!"
Sandburg fought every instinct he possessed to keep from reacting to the enraged man approaching him. He kept perfectly still, knowing any movement could easily provoke the ex-covert operative into physical violence when he was this angry. Blair didn't think this was the time to demonstrate just how back into fighting trim he had gotten since working out 4 times a week with Jamie at the 'Sweet Roy' gym.
Simon stood as he bellowed, "It was my call, Detective Ellison! I ordered Sandburg to not reveal any of Brackett's communications to you."
Jim turned stunned blue eyes to his Captain's commanding face. "Why?" Jim growled.
"There was no need. Other than the first one, they were just notes that I judged were part of some game that Brackett was playing. The Feds would give up nothing new about his whereabouts. No crime was committed and we had no idea of the damn man's location. The notes were mailed from all over the world."
"How many notes are there?" Jim's cold voice asked as he tried to fully grasp the situation, and the depth of his lover's betrayal.
Simon picked up the folder laying on his desk and handed it to Ellison as he sat back down. Blair let out the breath he had been holding as Jim took the folder and propped himself on the edge of Simon's desk and began to read. Blair stayed where he was, leaning with his back against the exterior window as Jim went through the evidence.
Jim's head shot up to stare heatedly into Blair's tense blue eyes as he saw a picture of the first item Brackett had sent Blair. A necklace. Not just any necklace but a rare extremely expensive artifact. A chieftain necklace from the reclusive tribe of Samigi who live deep in the Amazon rainforest.
The attached note had simply read:
Don't let them put a transmitter in this one either, Mister Sandburg.
Jim knew this necklace, Blair had dragged him out to some exhibit at Rainier a couple of months ago and he had passed by it in the front gallery where it was prominently displayed in a glass case. His mouth increasingly narrowed with displeasure as he flipped through the rest of Brackett's messages to Sandburg. There were no more handwritten notes other than the first and the one he still held in his left hand. The others were just clippings from various newspapers, magazines and journals. They just had one thing in common-Blair.
They were the sort of articles and announcements that a considerate spouse would clip because they knew the information would be of interest to their significant other. One announced the formation of a South African expedition headed up by Stoddard. Another that Smith Technology Inc. had just donated 1 billion dollars to fund studies on the Brazilian rain forest etc at various universities.
Until this last one. The son-of-a-bitch now had upped the ante. He wanted a date with Blair. Not a meeting but a DATE. The damn notes and necklace were part of some fucking courtship ritual that Brackett was playing at with Blair.
Jim's displeasure showed in his ice blue eyes as he caught Sandburg's gaze in an intense knowing look.
"This one came today, I take it?" Jim's asked in a too casual voice as he turned to look at Simon.
Blair felt like he had just been given a reprieve from the devil when Ellison broke the hold on his eyes.
"Yeah, I just found it on top of some files I was working on" Blair quietly told him.
"I've already instituted a search of the building" added Simon.
Jim shook his head knowingly, "he's long gone Simon. He only came to deliver his message to Sandburg." Jim's eyes once again strayed to his lover whose rapidly beating heart hadn't slowed in the slightest.
"Simon I want to speak with Sandburg alone please. Will you let us use your office."
"I don't think...." Simon began with a concerned look at Blair who was staring intently at Jim's face.
"It's fine Simon. I need to tell Jim some things. Just give us five minutes. The blinds are up so you can see that we don't kill each other" Blair said with a little nervous laugh as he ushered a bewildered Simon Banks out of his own office and locked the door behind him.
Blair leaned his back against the door as he lifted his eyes to stare into Jim's wounded ones.
"Jim, I honestly forgot about the notes. This is the first one I've gotten since we got together." Blair said, his deep blue eyes pleading as he took a step towards his lover who was standing still by the desk.
With a glance at the open blinds he placed a hand on Jim's left arm as he let his eyes reveal the depth of his misery.
"Tell me you understand. I wanted to tell you but I was overruled."
Jim suddenly let out a huge breath and let the rage slip from him as he stared into the wise blue eyes that were prettily begging for understanding.
"It's alright Blair. I don't like it, but I've been there and its okay." Jim grimly said wishing that they were hidden from view so he could kiss Blair's full lips which were pressed together into a hard line of tension.
Blair motioned for Jim to follow him as he walked over to the door ostensibly to open it and let Simon back in. As soon as he and Jim were hidden behind the door, Blair quickly reached up to pull Jim's head down to claim his mouth in an urgent kiss.
Jim's mouth curled in a smile as Blair once again had anticipated his need. Jim soon had the previously tense lips wet and open to his thrusting tongue. His right hand came up to bury itself into his lover's long curly hair as his tongue glided along Blair's seeking comfort.
"Any day now gentlemen.." Simon's sarcastic voice loudly penetrated through the closed door after a couple of minutes of silence coming from his office.
Jim and Blair broke apart with a laugh. Blair quickly turned to open the door for Simon while Ellison put some distance between them and walked over to stand by his boss's desk.
Blair preceded Simon as he walked back into to his office.
"Are we okay, Jim?" Simon asked his best detective, his dark brown eyes dead serious.
"Yeah Simon, I understand the call. Hell you were probably right to keep the information from me," Jim honestly admitted as his right hand ran anxiously over his short brown hair.
"The question is, what do we do now? Brackett hasn't done anything outright illegal. We can't officially put him under surveillance and I don't like the idea of Sandburg going in there alone" said Jim.
"You mean you are actually going to meet Brackett tonight?" Simon incredulously asked the curly-haired police consultant now facing him.
"It's the only way to find out what this is about, Simon" Blair resolutely stated while inwardly he was filled with doubts.
"Fine, if you and Jim are set on meeting the guy I'll back you up, unofficially of course" Simon said with a little shake of his head.
"Great. Simon, I figure you and I can keep an eye on Sandburg from somewhere out of sight inside the restaurant.."
"And listen in on the conversation..." Simon interrupted.
"Yeah," Jim acknowledge with a grim fleeting smile, "and if I hear anything suspicious you'll have the authority to handle the situation."
'And keep Jim from rending Bracket limb from limb' Blair darkly thought knowing damn well how jealous his lover was.
"Sounds like a plan, but in the meantime I think we should try to get some work done gentlemen."
"Very good Sir" replied Jim as he strode to the office door and opened it motioning Sandburg to go in front of him. Blair didn't pause to speak with Jim and was immediately heading back to the conference room when Captain Taggart returned to Major Crime.
"No sign of Brackett so far, Simon."
"Thanks Joel. Keep on it just in case" Simon said while he and Ellison exchanged a resigned look. They knew it wouldn't be that easy to catch Brackett in the middle of perpetrating a crime.
Sandburg just silently groaned as the horrible feeling that had come over him since he read the damn note only intensified.
"This is not going to be good." Blair morosely muttered to himself as he sat back down alone in conference room B and continued to check the phone records of Cascade's payroll department for a clue as to who had embezzled 2.3 billion dollars of the City's money before killing Charles Danbury, a lowly mail-room clerk.
Blair quickly looked up at the two sharp knocks.
"Time to go Chief! It's five o'clock and I want to check out the restaurant before the meet" Jim said as he casually leaned against the edge of the doorframe looking as cool and collected as ever.
Blair stared suspiciously at the guileless face as Jim handed him his brown leather jacket that he had left inside Major Crime.
"After you, Sandburg" called Jim with a grandiose gesture of his left hand.
'Damn!' Blair thought furiously to himself. 'I should have never let Jim have two and a half hours alone at his desk to brood about Brackett. I knew I had gotten off the hook too easily in Simon's office.'
The elevator ride down to the parking garage was a strange one. The usually taciturn Ellison was the one making pleasant chit-chat with their fellow passengers while the normally talkative Sandburg was quiet.
The strange dynamic held between the two men until they were both enclosed in the first place that held true privacy since Blair had handed Jim the note.
"Out with it, Jim!" Blair demanded as he fastened his seatbelt inside the truck.
Jim just glanced at his lover with an innocent expression on his face as he put the truck into drive and made his way out onto the street, "What are you talking about?" Jim asked in a dulcet tone that grated on Blair's already strung out nerves.
"Stop playing with me, man! I'm already freaked out enough about having to meet that sociopath in less than three hours" Blair stated, the stress and tension easily heard in his voice. Desperation shone in the azure eyes he turned in his lover's direction.
"I've just been wondering...why you? I mean you didn't say anything to him that could be construed as flirting, did you?"
"I don't believe you! You were with me both times that I was in the man's presence" Blair cried as he shook his head bewilderingly at Jim. "What the hell is going on in your head?"
"You didn't talk to him while he was in the holding cell, waiting to be picked up by the Agency."
"Of course not. Why would I? The guy is a total dick and you know it."
Some of the tension relaxed from Ellison's shoulders and back as his wild imaginings proved to be just that.
"Simon hasn't caught on to what the necklace and notes mean at all?" Ellison asked disbelievingly.
Blair sighed, "No, why should he? I mean he has no idea that I'm bi and that we (he gestured with his left hand to Jim and himself) are together. It isn't the sort of thing that occurs to a straight man."
"So how did Brackett pick up on it?"
"Hell, I don't know. Maybe it was his gaydar. Maybe since he's into men he could sense I was bi-sexual," Blair said as he pointedly ignored the tightening strangle hold Ellison was putting on the steering wheel at the words.
"What the hell did you think he meant with the remark about me removing the wire in your belt when we were at La Cueva! He was baiting you. Trying to find out if we were lovers" Blair pointed out while glancing at his lover's shocked expression.
Blair didn't mention that he had suspected Brackett's sexual orientation almost from the very beginning. There had been an intensity exuded by the rogue CIA agent that was impossible for Blair to ignore even in the midst of having a gun pointed at his head. Some of the looks Brackett gave him shot home to Blair that Brackett was just as aware of Blair as he was of Brackett. That in addition to the "Mister Sandburg" business made the suspicion into a certainty for Blair that was unnecessarily proven by the arrival of the necklace 14 months after the Ebola incident.
"Just think of how you would react to that remark today, now that we are lovers. You would have gone through the roof and you damn well know it. You would never have been able to keep your cool like you did at the time" elaborated Blair as he looked out the passenger window of the truck.
Jim's face had taken on a thoughtful expression as Blair had been speaking. He could see that Blair was right, at least about how easy it would have been for Brackett to surmise his intimate relationship with Blair or the lack of one back in 1994.
"But that doesn't explain how he knew that you would be interested in a new expedition being headed by Stoddard" Ellison pointed out as he turned into the parking lot across from their loft.
"It's public knowledge that Dr. Stoddard was my graduate advisor in Chicago, Jim. He told us that he had researched my academic career and yours, remember?" Blair patiently reminded Jim as the truck slowed to a stop. Blair wished that Detective Jim would just quit trying to be clever and spit out what was behind his superfluous questions.
Blair quickly got out of the truck and slammed the door in irritation at Jim's questioning which he was sure would continue throughout the evening. He waited by the elevator for Jim, subconsciously noting and then dismissing Jim's sentinel scan of the neighborhood for anything out of the ordinary. Both men were silent, intent on their own thoughts as the elevator rose to the third floor. Blair was the first one out and waited outside the door of 307 for Ellison who quickly ascertained with a quick sweep of his senses that the loft was empty. Jim was in no mood to enter his home to find Brackett there holding a gun on him and Blair like last time. He quickly unlocked the door and motioned to Blair to enter as he quickly did another sweep of the third floor looking for anything suspicious before crossing the threshold; quickly locking the door behind him.
Blair had thrown himself down onto the couch after entering the loft. He was taking deep calming breaths that hopefully would put him into a meditative state that would help him cleanse his mind of the panic that was threatening to overwhelm him.
Jim's light blue eyes quickly focused on the young man sitting cross legged on the couch as he dropped his keys into the basket by the door. Blair's eyes were tightly closed and he was breathing rhythmically. With a wry twist of his lips Jim recognized the meditation routine that his lover practiced on a very frequent basis to control anxiety in his life as a forensic anthropologist and Ellison's partner.
Jim's forehead creased at the latter thought guiltily. He knew that he had reacted harshly to this mess at the station but that was why he had tried to be pleasant on the drive home and not shutdown behind his usual stone facade. His demeanor, however instead of soothing Blair seemed to only irritate and heighten his lover's anxiety even more.
'Damned if do, damned it I don't' he thought bitterly to himself as he walked into the kitchen, 'I am beginning to think Blair prefers the throwback.' Jim kept an sentinel eye on Sandburg as he made both of them tuna salad sandwiches to eat before the meeting with Brackett. The soft flutter of eyelashes and the even heartbeat signaled the return of Sandburg to the land of the living.
"I made some sandwiches, Chief" called out Jim as his eyes rolled appreciatively over the slimly muscled body that was standing and stretching by the couch. A smile covered his face as he remembered Blair's reaction after he had deliberately antagonized him by pretending to leer at his mother while she had done similar stretching motions. Little did Blair know that even back then that Jim felt only platonic affection for his best friend's attractive mother.
'Now what he felt for Naomi's son was a totally different ball-game' Jim thought to himself as his cool blue eyes gazed lustily over the muscles in the legs and buttocks which were clearly delineated through the tight jeans as Blair bent forwards stretching his hands down to his feet.
A grimace covered the young man's handsome face at the mention of food. Blair shook his head at the proffered sandwich precisely cut into fourths as he walked towards Jim. "Can you get me some juice" Blair said as he faced Jim across the island in the kitchen. "Sure" replied Jim as he efficiently did so, quickly filling a glass with the all natural fruit juice that Blair liked so much.
"You need to eat something Chief."
Blair just shook his head as he took a sip of his drink. His clear blue eyes focusing on the ice twirling in the red liquid. Even though he knew the probability of actually consuming food during the "dinner date" with Brackett was practically nil the thought of food presently nauseated him. The constant feel of concerned eyes on him soon made him sigh resignedly.
"All right MOM, give me a piece of rye bread with some cheese and I'll try to eat that" Blair counter offered in an exasperated voice.
Blair stared down at the requested items which were quickly put down before him by his attentive lover. He gingerly picked up the slice of bread with cheese and forced himself to take a small bite. When nothing untoward happened after the first swallow, the second and third bites were much easier to take. Blair forced himself to eat the whole slice since he knew he needed something in his stomach if he hoped to make it through the night without developing one hell of an ulcer.
Jim had been cleaning the counter and putting away the kitchen stuff and extra sandwich after eating his own while Blair slowly nibbled his bread.
With a glance at the clock Jim said, "It's 5:50 PM."
The dread that had fled during the familiar bantering about food returned with a punch to Blair's stomach. He quickly turned and walked to the bathroom without another word.
Blair started the shower before quickly undressing and tossing his clothes into a ball in the corner as he stepped into the stall.
He stood under the shower head without moving for several minutes, letting the hot water relax the muscles in his neck and shoulders. Blair placed a hand on either side of the showerhead as he leaned against the wall trying to make his overactive mind a complete blank. Even with the hot water coursing over them Blair's muscles continued to tighten with tension at the flickering images going through his head.
Blair right hand suddenly slapped the tiled wall in frustration as his thoughts refused to be tamed.
'What is it with me and psychos' he bitterly thought to himself as the memory of being at the mercy of Lash came to him. 'They always seem to get a hard-on for me' he tried to laugh at the thought but all that came out was a half-sob that he hoped the running water would mask from Jim's all too perceptive hearing.
Blair's breath became ragged as he tried to control the memories that were threatening to overwhelm him. 'I am not going think about it. It doesn't matter now, Lash is DEAD. Jim got there in time. Now is not the time to relive it. You have to get yourself together to face Brackett. Calm down Blair, let it go. One crisis at a time. One psycho at a time.' Blair's breathing evened out as his powerful mind once again mastered his tumultuous emotions behind a seemingly calm mask. His mind was filled with blissfully nothing as he concentrated on the mundane task of washing his hair and body.
Unbeknownst to Sandburg, Jim was leaning on the wall outside the bathroom. He had immediately followed Blair and had secretly taken his familiar position by the door while he monitored his lover's activities with his senses. Jim knew that Sandburg would not be pleased that his lover had sort of made an enjoyable past time of listening to Blair take a shower or shave. No, Jim knew damn well that even Blair with his forgiving nature would be royally pissed by Jim's occasional violation of his privacy.
Jim's shoulders tensed as he heard Blair's breathing accelerate. He suddenly found himself standing with his hand on the knob about to go in when the labored breathing calmed as quickly as it had begun. He backed away from the door reluctantly and walked over to sit on the couch so recently occupied by his young lover.
'I wonder what Blair was thinking about that made him almost have a severe panic attack' Jim worriedly thought to himself. 'I know that it's nerve-wreaking to know that Brackett is loose in Cascade but Blair's reaction seems a little extreme' Jim mused as a nagging suspicion began to grow that Blair was holding something back from him.
Although as physically intimate as he and Blair now were he still knew only an outline of the events in Sandburg's life before they had meet in that examination room. Sandburg for all his chatter never revealed much personal information about himself, unlike Jim. Jim's life had been laid bare before the almighty Sandburg before Ellison even knew what was happening.
Jim was mentally reviewing the entire previous incident with Brackett when Sandburg finally exited the bathroom in the blue robe Jim had bought for him for Christmas.
"Better get a move on Chief, you wouldn't want to be late for your DATE."
Blair stiffened at the remark but said nothing as he went into his old room. He was standing in front of the closet where he still kept his clothes, when he felt Jim's presence in the doorway. When he didn't say anything Blair ignored him and began dressing.
Jim's glacier blue eyes intently watched as his lover modestly pulled on a pair of clean boxer shorts under the robe revealing nothing but hair-covered legs. He leaned against the doorsill his arms folded across his chest as Blair pulled on a pair of dark grey dress slacks in the same manner.
Blair was pulling on the blue long-sleeved shirt that Ellison had bought him specifically because it enhanced the color of his lover's eyes when the conspicuous silence was broken.
"You want to look your very best" Jim commented.
Blair jerkily buttoned the shirt trying not to lose his temper. "It's the only one that I have clean that goes with this suit JIM" he replied, pissed that he had to explain.
That was the last straw.
"Damn it Jim!" Blair cried out as he turned and quickly got into his lover's face. "I am anxious enough as it is without your snide-ass remarks. Spit out what the hell is bothering you or shut the hell up!"
Jim's lips pressed tightly together in response before he spun and strode away towards the stairs.
Blair watched him go with relief. He didn't think his nerves could handle a 'let's find out what's bothering Jim' session right now. He quickly finished dressing and walked out to the living room.
Jim soon re-joined him looking severely handsome in a navy blue suit and pearl gray tie. Blair accepted the black tie that Jim casually handed him and began to awkwardly tie it. His hands were pushed aside as Jim stepped close in front of him and gently began to competently fasten it for his lover.
'Annoying as Jim was, he was still the sexiest man he had ever seen' thought Blair as his eyes gazed appreciatively at the face before him. His eyes traced the nicely defined jaw-line to the lips that he knew so well, up the straight nose and into the eyes that were now staring intently into his own.
"Sorry" muttered Jim.
Blair smiled and placed a quick kiss on Jim's lips before he turned and walked towards the front door.
7:10 PM PLAZA TOWER
Both men had been quiet on the drive over, wrapped in their individual thoughts in companionable silence.
They appeared to be tranquilly waiting for the valet to take the truck keys when Blair suddenly blurted out, "Let's forget about doing this! Bracket will get the hint when I don't show. Call Simon and tell him it's off." A strong sense of self preservation giving impetus to the words.
Jim's cool blue eyes narrowed as they gazed at Blair's tense face.
"Are you sure?" he simply asked not vocalizing the possibility that if Brackett was later found out to be involved in some terrorist activity that his lover would feel responsible at missing the opportunity to stop it.
"No...forget I said anything. I'm just panicking" Blair said knowing that whatever game Brackett was playing with him or Jim, it needed to be resolved once and for all.
Ellison glanced at his watch as they walked through the glass doors to the lobby and made their way to the glass elevator. 7:18 PM.
Simon was waiting for them when they exited at the top roof level where the restaurant was located.
"Mr. Wilson I'd like you to meet Detective Jim Ellison. He will be conducting the surveillance with me. And this is Blair Sandburg who will be sitting at the table with our suspect. Gentlemen, this is Hector Wilson the restaurant's owner who has graciously offered to help us in our little endeavor."
"Thank you sir. We really appreciate it," said Jim as he firmly shook Mr. Wilson's hand. Mr. Wilson was just shaking Blair's hand when Simon continued.
"Mr. Wilson has informed us that there is a reservation for 8 this evening...under the name of Sandburg."
Shock quickly filled Sandburg's eyes before the reason became clear. He exchanged a knowing look with Jim before focusing on what Simon was saying.
"As there has been no specific request for a particular table, Wilson has informed the maitre de to seat them at this table" Simon indicated as he walked through the still empty tables, the restaurant's official opening time being 7:30.
"Looks good. We'll be watching from just inside these doors, right Captain?" Jim asked while he motioned to two white double doors that were in a diagonal direction 15 yards from said table. It had a clear line of sight.
"Right. These particular doors are never used now. The kitchen was renovated and those doors on the far right are the ones the waiters travel through. No one should hinder us," explained Simon.
Both policemen glanced down at the man who was nervously wiping the palms of his hands along his pant legs.
"Sounds good, guys. Where should I wait? I mean I don't want to look too eager, right?" Blair joked.
Mr. Wilson who had been silently accompanying them during their recon spoke up. "My office is right by the elevators. You can wait there, Mr. Sandburg," he offered wondering why the handsome young man grimaced slightly. "If you would excuse me for a minute I need to check with the kitchen before we officially open."
After Wilson left, the three men quickly grouped together in a huddle.
"Sandburg, eh?" Jim said dryly.
"Brackett must be using a different name. Makes sense if he is trying to keep his presence in this country a secret" ventured Blair.
"It fits. I think we need to all get in position. I see Wilson is motioning to Sandburg."
All three men turned to see Mr. Wilson at the entryway.
"Blair wait until 10 after before entering the restaurant" Jim advised looking down.
Blair turned to catch Jim's eyes with his own in a reassuring look before turning and striding towards the exit.
Jim's gaze followed his lover's path until he vanished into the hallway.
"Jim, I put a 'mike' at the table" said Simon.
"What! Come on, Simon remember last time."
"Hear me out Jim. Either Brackett is expecting only Sandburg to show for dinner or he is expecting you both, in either case he will either not care that a microphone is there or he will expect one. You may not need one to hear the conversation but I do if I am going to back you up in any sort of official testimony."
Jim said nothing and just gave a worried glance in the direction of the table as he and Simon took their place behind the doors.
Apparently the restaurant was officially open as the hostess entered escorting a couple to sit them at a table on the corner in the far left.
"I checked the floor and the building's security tapes. No sign of Brackett" Simon mentioned as they watched the tables gradually filling with patrons.
"Sorry you had to do the sweep on your own, Simon" began Jim in an apologetic tone, "you know how long it takes Sandburg to get ready for a date."
Simon frowned at the tall detective's choice of words.
"The kid has enough to deal with. Cut him some slack, Jim. Every time one of those damn notes arrived he was fit to be tied. He would argue with me for days that you should be told."
Jim turned thoughtful eyes on his Captain before quickly returning them to the small smoked etched windows set in the doors that allowed only his sentinel vision a clear view of the restaurant floor and the table.
"Heads up, Simon. Our guest of honor has arrived" Jim stated as he watched the tall brown haired man sit down at the table.
'Nothing good is going to come out of this' Blair thought angrily to himself as he paced the confines of Wilson' luxuriously furnished office with repeated glances at the towering mahogany grandfather clock standing in the corner.
The anger that been intermixed with nervousness had now taken precedence making the young man's body brim with hostility. He knew that he would be hard-pressed not to punch Brackett's arrogant face the first chance he got.
'Damn him to the seven levels of hell.'
Blair's eyes closed in frustration. His life had been going so well too. He was back working with Jim at the station. Their personal relationship was good, the sex was great. His life was perfect. Perfect.
Until that bastard had to come and ruin it. All of Blair's instincts were telling him that Brackett's infatuation was going to lead to disaster.
'If it's not one thing it's another' Blair bitterly thought to himself as the chimes musically announced the hour.
It seemed to take forever for the hands to reach 10 and yet it seemed to happen way too fast.
Blair stepped out of the office while straightening the edge of his suit nervously before entering the restaurant.
"Reservation for Sandburg" he said to the maitre de, surprised that it came out in such a calm tone considering that his skin suddenly felt like it was going to crawl off without him as the sensation of strange eyes watching him began.
It felt totally different from Jim's thrillingly intense gaze.
As the hostess shifted to the right while escorting him to the table, the owner of the penetrating eyes suddenly came into view.
Blair's eyes narrowed as Brackett rose to his feet as he approached the table.
"It's good to see you again, Mister Sandburg. Please join me." Brackett charmingly invited with a graceful wave of his hand.
Blair pulled out the chair and sat down with a scowl on his handsome face.
Brackett took a moment to savor the appearance of the man that was finally sitting across from him after four and a half years. The long curls that Lee had dreamed about touching were regretfully pulled severely back in a ponytail. The hairstyle gave a sophisticated controlled air to the man whose intelligent blue eyes appeared even bigger and more beautiful than he remembered.
"Why am I here Brackett?" asked Blair in a no nonsense tone very aware of Brackett's sexual appraisal.
Brackett smiled charmingly, "Benedict. Lee Benedict, Security Specialist at your service."
Blair frowned, "Guys at Langley couldn't come up with anything more original, eh?"
Brackett gave a low laugh at the aggravation he heard underlying the smart aleck remark.
Jim's attention remained riveted on the conversation at the table while Simon phoned the station to have the name Lee Benedict run through the police database.
"What can I get for you gentlemen to drink this evening?"
Blair shook his head and quickly said "nothing" his eyes never straying from Brackett's.
"Vodka with a shot of tequila" drawled Brackett.
Blair's right hand began toying with the edge of the napkin that was laying in front of him as the waiter left.
"Why are you back in Cascade? Are you on an official assignment?"
"The Agency and I have permanently severed our partnership," an evil laugh punctuated the sentence. "The...people I now work for make Black Ops look like the ROTC."
The penetrating blue gray eyes became compelling, "I'm in Cascade to renew an old acquaintance." His teasing tone implying that Blair knew damn well why he had returned to town.
Blair leaned slightly back in his chair as he spotted the waiter returning with Brackett's drink.
"Are you gentlemen ready to order? Tonight's special is..."
"No we are not," Blair interrupted the spiel before it could even begin, "We will call you when we are ready. Thank you." Blair firmly finished giving the message loud and clear to the waiter as well as the man sitting across from him that he was in control here. Dinner was the last thing he wanted right now. What Blair needed, wanted was answers.
Brackett had a small smile on his face as the waiter discreetly left without another word.
Brackett took a long swallow of his drink before asking, "Did you like the necklace?"
He sighed heavily when Blair just silently glared at him.
"I should have known that someone with your generous nature would have donated such an rare artifact to the University," he said in a self-mocking tone. "I shall just send you something else to demonstrate my affection."
"You can't be serious!"
"Why not, Mister Sandburg? It's not like you haven't been courted by a man before. You have had a male lover before. Several in fact. Although I was surprised that you began so young. I would have never pictured someone as bright as you being a rent boy."
Shock filled the cerulean blue eyes before being quickly replaced with rage.
"I was NEVER a rent boy." Blair hissed between clenched teeth, his right hand now clenching the napkin in a fist.
"Certainly looks that way to me." Brackett said as his right hand reached into his left breast pocket and withdrew a picture. "I never thought I would say this, but you look even sexier with short hair."
Blair's eyes shut with the certain knowledge of what particular picture Brackett held in his hand. His eyes opened to see Brackett gazing intently at the photograph taken in Philadelphia.
"You were sixteen in this picture with Thornton, right?" Brackett asked while placing the color photo on the table facing Blair.
"Get to the point!" Blair demanded through gritted teeth completely ignoring the photo.
"My point is that I am attracted to you, and I KNOW that you are attracted to me. I felt it when we touched four years ago, Blair" Brackett stated with conviction as he reached his large right hand over the table intending to cover Blair's left hand with his own.
Jim Ellison's body had become rock as the words "male lover" penetrated through his brain. He had stopped breathing by the time Brackett said "rent boy." The rapidly accelerating beat of Blair's heart providing a tension raising soundtrack to the dialogue.
Simon was staring in shocked concern at the detective's expressionless face which was becoming increasingly pale as the unbelievable conversation continued.
Captain Banks was too late to grab Ellison who was already quickly disappearing through the doors when the sound of Sandburg's quick harsh intake of breath and sudden movement carried clearly over the microphone.
Blair gasped and quickly snatched his hands from the table before Brackett could touch him.
"It's not going to happen..." Blair began before being interrupted by a tall, very angry James Joseph Ellison who suddenly appeared to the right of him between him and Brackett.
"Brackett!" Jim said warningly in a tone that although low in volume carried full menace.
Brackett leaned back bringing his hands back to his side of the table as his blue gray eyes flickered from the steely-eyed Detective to the furious but achingly beautiful man sitting across from him.
"Well I'll be damned.." Brackett softly whispered at the clear perceptible intimacy between the two men as Jim stood so closely to Blair that his leg casually brushed unknowingly against Blair's right arm.
Hard blue-gray eyes raised to meet Ellison's scornfully.
"So, you finally realized what you were missing, Ellison. It certainly took you long enough Detective" Brackett angrily mocked as he stood.
Brackett's eyes returned to the surprise filled eyes of Blair as he withdrew a one hundred dollar bill that he casually tossed to the table.
"It might behoove you to know, Mister Sandburg that Thornton is still paying attention. I encountered signs of a previous search regarding the current activities of the new forensic anthropologist employed by the Cascade Police Department."
Wariness filled Blair's eyes at the unexpected news.
"Well gentlemen, it's been enlightening" said Brackett. "I'm not giving up Mister Sandburg, merely leaving the field to fight another day. I can wait till he throws you out of his bed."
Blair's face flushed at the patronizing tone.
"You'll be waiting for nothing" Blair grimly stated.
"We'll see. Gentlemen" Brackett gave a slight nod of his head in Ellison and Sandburg's direction before quickly striding out of the restaurant.
Simon stepped out from behind a nearby tall fichus tree after Brackett left.
"Well, that was anticlimactic," Simon said dourly to the two men who hadn't moved or spoken since Brackett's abrupt and shockingly peaceful departure. "Well gentlemen, let's allow the rest of these fine people enjoy their dinner," he said as he reminded them with a glance that they were in a crowded restaurant and although not quite making a scene were still getting noticeable stares. Ellison in particular was causing anxiety in the patrons as he stood menacingly silent by the table.
Blair had already stood and joined Simon as he spoke. Blair was looking concernedly at Jim's back when Mr. Wilson came up to speak to them.
Ellison had just surreptitiously picked something up from the table and placed it in the pocket of his pants when he heard Wilson walk up.
"I'd like to thank you on behalf of the Cascade Police Department, Mr. Wilson for your full cooperation tonight" Simon was saying as he shook Mr. Wilson's hand. "We shall leave you now in peace. Gentlemen?"
Ellison turned at Simon's words and casually handed him the microphone he held in his hand as the three men walked out of the restaurant.
All three men were silent on the elevator ride down. Simon glanced at the two men on either side of him, uneasily noticing the concerned glances Sandburg was giving Ellison who was deliberately not looking in his partner's direction.
"I'll meet you guys at the loft where we can discuss Brackett," Simon said as he strode over to his car.
Blair was a bundle of nerves as he followed Jim's stiff angry back towards the truck.
"Jim..." Blair began anxiously as they both entered the truck.
"Blair, do not say anything right now," Jim firmly said his eyes facing fixedly forward as he drove off.
Ellison resolutely ignored the pitifully dejected looks his lover kept giving him during the entire drive home.
Banks was waiting at the elevator as Jim and Sandburg finally entered the building still not speaking. Simon silently sighed and asked God what he had done to deserve this?
Ellison was the first one off the elevator and was striding down the hallway when he abruptly stopped causing Sandburg to bump into him.
"What's the deal?" Blair asked as he moved up on Jim's left.
"Flowers," Jim muttered with a dark expression covering his face and an even darker emotion filling his ice blue eyes as he quickly covered the remaining distance to the loft and strode through the door.
"The door was locked...?" Blair trailed off as he spotted the large vase of flowers on the kitchen table as he paused in the doorway.
Jim was standing by the nauseatingly sweet smelling things with his hands clenched into fists down by his side as he fought the urge to pick up the vase and throw it against the brick wall. He heard Blair softly enter the apartment and walk up beside him.
Blair ignored the flowers and quickly picked up the envelope that was laying by them on the table.
Simon had entered the apartment right after Blair and was closing the front door when he demanded, "Well what does it say?"
"Until next time, Mister Sandburg. Brackett," Blair said woodenly as he let the note fall to the table in utter disgust.
Blair's eyes were focused on Jim when he heard Simon beginning to curse behind him. Both he and Jim turned to see their boss sitting down on the armchair in the living room while pulling out a cigar to chew on.
"What the hell is Brackett up to? Is this really just a simple case of him having some sort of fixation on Sandburg? Some sort of crush? And what was that damn crack about waiting till you were thrown out of his bed? Whose bed are you sleeping in Sandburg?" asked Simon.
'Shit' thought Blair, 'of all the possible ways that he had imagined someone finding out about him and Jim, this scenario took the cake.' He stared into Simon's puzzled face and tried to remember how to breath as his mind rapidly flipped through his standard obfuscations.
"Well..?" prompted Simon.
"Mine" Jim suddenly ground out tensely before Blair could speak.
Simon's facial expression became even more confused at Jim's answer.
"What?" Simon asked as he glanced from his best detective to Sandburg who was looking incredulously at his best friend.
'This is not happening. This can't be happening. Don't do it Jim' Blair was thinking furiously as he stared at his lover in complete stupefaction.
"We are sleeping together," Jim calmly said to Banks' horrified face.
"I am going to make some coffee," Blair announced after a quick glance at Simon's face.
Jim grabbed Blair's arm before he could make his escape.
"Oh no you don't!" Jim harshly whispered. "You are not leaving me alone to do this. What the hell do I say?"
"He's your friend Jim, you have known him longer than me. Just talk to him" Blair argued back as he extricated his arm from Ellison's panicked hold. Blair gave a little push to the center of his lover's back in Simon's direction as he strode to the kitchen.
It was this intimate exchange between the two men that brought home the reality of what Jim had just said to Simon's brain. It was the struggle of wills that occurred between lovers or spouses. Jim and Blair's relationship had shifted slightly to something beyond friendship, hell even beyond love from what Simon could perceive. The close connection between the two men had transmuted into an even stronger bond. He couldn't believe he had never seen it before, considering how often he saw them together, both in and outside work. Jim was one of his closest friends, had been since...Sandburg showed up four years ago.
Simon's gaze shifted to the figure who was standing over in the kitchen with his back to him by the coffee maker. Jim had been a coldly polite man before the cheerful wild kid had bounced with him into the station. Hell the kid had infected the whole station with his crazy chatter and enthusiasm after only one week. The police station had gone from just a place where he worked to a pleasant place where he and he suspected everyone else employed at Major Crime didn't mind coming to every day. All as a result of Sandburg, anthropologist extraordinaire. Simon sighed as he remembered Blair's press conference. The kid had lost everything that meant anything to him. 'Well maybe not everything' thought Simon as he focused outwardly on Ellison's expressionless face as the man seemed to finally come to a decision and walk towards him to sit down on the couch on his left.
"How long?" asked Simon as he chewed on his cigar.
"Well? Don't you have anything to say?" Jim asked his oldest friend.
"The department has no regulation excluding fraternizing between civilian and police personnel" stated Simon.
"I'm not asking for departmental policy, Simon. I'm asking you, my friend how you feel about Blair and I being together?"
Simon almost laughed in Ellison's face although he restrained himself since he knew Jim would never understand. James Joseph Ellison the hard ass asking about feelings. Hell he had to remember to do something special for Sandburg to reward him from changing an ogre into a human being.
Blair knew he was being a coward by hiding out in the kitchen while Jim talked to Simon, but hell Jim was the one who had to blurt out the truth when it wasn't necessary. He had been about to change the subject when Mr. Straight and Narrow had to open his bloody mouth. Blair knew Simon had always suffered his presence at the station because of Jim. He just knew that this was going to destroy the friendship he had managed to develop with Simon.
He thought it doubly ironic that Jim had decided to tell Simon about them now, when there might not be a 'them' to worry about after Jim gets through with him tonight, thanks to Brackett. He had been grateful when Simon had informed them that he would meet them at the loft to talk. It gave him more time to decide what he was going to tell Jim after Simon left.
Blair poured out three cups of coffee fixing one with five sugars and four creams just the way Jim liked it. Simon's he left black, while he added honey to his own. 'Oh well he had hidden out long enough' Blair thought as he picked up all three cups and made his careful way into the living room to face the lions.
A wry smile spread over Simon's brown somber face as Sandburg approached and handed him a cup of coffee.
"Thanks," Simon said as he watched Sandburg carefully hand the other to Ellison before propping himself on the arm of the couch on Jim's right. While he took a sip of coffee Simon watched bemusedly as Ellison's right arm unconsciously moved over onto the inside Sandburg's left thigh and stayed there, his hand on Blair's knee.
Simon sighed, "Well, I can't say that I am ecstatic over this turn of events, and it is not going to be easy if it ever becomes public. But if you too are as happy with each other as I think, you have my full support." Simon gave an honest grin as he shook the hand Jim was holding out. Simon's attractive black face becoming serious as he continued with his next words.
"Now about Brackett, is Sandburg really the only thing he was after all this time?" he asked them.
Jim abruptly stood and walked over to look at the bay through the windows with his arms folded across his chest.
The smile that was on Blair's face at the warm acceptance he saw in Simon's dark eyes at the news that him and Jim were lovers, faded as he watched Jim distance himself from him both physically and emotionally.
"Yes. Brackett has gotten it into his head that there is some sort of romantic connection between him and I. Which there ISN'T" Blair finished pointedly for the benefit of his brooding lover.
"So do we have anything major to worry about from him? Any blackmail schemes maybe to get you to....(brown eyes flickered to the tall man who was still silently facing out the windows) to sleep with him?"
Blair's forehead wrinkled as he thought about it. "No, Brackett will probably just continue on like he has as long as he thinks that he has a chance. I don't think he will have much time to devote to me, either. The organization he now works for scares him."
"So that's your brilliant diagnosis, eh Freud? Based on what? A conversation over a single dinner?" Jim taunted as he abruptly turned and stalked over to his lover.
"Jim, I don't think...." Simon began before he was interrupted.
"Stay out of it Simon, this is between me and Blair" Jim grimly stated.
Blair stared silently into Jim's jealousy filled eyes for several seconds realizing the futility in trying to avoid this confrontation any longer.
"Yeah Simon, it is getting pretty late and you have that meeting with the Chief at 7 am. Let's table the discussion for now and see if anything new occurs to us in the morning. The odds are that we're not going to hear anything more from Brackett for a while." Blair soothingly said as he guided Simon, who soon found himself walking towards the front door without remembering when he had even gotten up.
"Jim?" asked Simon as he paused midway over the threshold.
"Goodnight Simon. I'll talk to you in the morning, okay?" assured Jim in a much calmer tone.
"Night guys, but I don't want to be getting any disturbance calls from this address later. Is that understood?"
Jim nodded stiffly while Blair just gave Simon's arm a little pat as he walked through the front door.
The sound of the door clicking shut boomed loud in the ensuing silence.
Blair leaned his back against the door his wary eyes fixed on the living statue standing in the living room.
He suddenly straightened up, opened wide the front door before striding over to the table and lifting the vase full of flowers. Without even glancing at Jim he walked out of the loft without a word.
Jim monitored his lover's progress down the hall with his hearing and into the elevator where he lost Blair's heartbeat in the clank of the elevator after it went down past the second floor.
On his return, Blair spotted the door to the loft standing open as he approached 317 with increasing apprehension. The sight of Jim standing in the same place and stance didn't improve matters. 'Dammit he's zoned!'
"Jim? Can you hear me, man?"
The look that crossed his lover's face was pure disgruntled Ellison. "Just because I am not chattering a mile a minute doesn't mean that I've zoned, Sandburg."
"I know that!" snapped Blair.
Silence descended between the two men as they tensely faced each other.
"It seems you have quite a few skeletons in your closet, Mister Communication. Time to 'fess up, don't ya think?" Jim goaded.
Blair took a deep breath as he tried to control his rising anger. "What exactly do you want to know?"
"Let's start with your shacking-up with a rich old man!"
"I only stayed at Thornton's place for two nights," Blair stiffly said.
"I guess your tongue wasn't as skilled as it is now," Jim spitefully said throwing the blowjob Blair had performed on him just this morning into his lover's face.
Blair's tanned skin flushed red with rage.
Jim's implication that he was a whore, coming on top of Brackett's insinuations. Not to mention the four years of snide 'table leg' comments by Jim was just too much suddenly even for peace loving Sandburg.
"You Son-Of-A-Bitch!" yelled Blair as his right hand curled into a fist and suddenly made solid contact with the left side of Jim's face.
Ellison's reflexes kicked in as Blair left hand was thrown next to be caught in midair by Jim's powerful grip. Jim quickly spread his legs apart to avoid a vicious kick to his right knee trapping the offensive leg between his own as he used his right arm to pull Blair roughly against his chest.
Jim then quickly released the fist he held in his left hand to immobilize Blair in a full bear hug that allowed his lover no offensive movements.
Blair's struggling ceased as he suddenly felt something hard brush against his left knee which was trapped pressed against Jim's groin.
A dark jagged laugh spilled from Blair's mouth, "I should have known you would get hard because I hit you...and you think I'm a slut."
Ellison thrust Sandburg away from him as if repelled.
Both men silently glared across the room at the other for several minutes.
Ellison's left hand reached up and gently pressed on his mouth tracing the bleeding tear in his bottom lip with his forefinger where Blair's wolf ring had cut it.
It was as if a switch had been thrown inside Blair as he watched Jim touch his lip, all his anger suddenly collapsed leaving him empty.
Blair sat down in the chair behind him and closed his eyes as he began to speak.
"I have only had three male lovers in my life.....The first as you already know was Roy. The second was a guy named Jason Carster. The third and I hope the last, is YOU." Blair said quietly as he opened his eyes to see how Jim was taking his little speech. Although Jim was still standing rigid, his hands were no longer clenched into fists. Blair closed his eyes again as it seemed easier to speak when he didn't have to look at the angry ice blue eyes in the handsome chiseled face.
"I did not have sex, of any kind with Paul Thornton," Blair continued harshly. "Brackett left out quite a few details at dinner. I was 16. Naomi was in Philadelphia with Edward Thornton, Paul's younger brother. I had just graduated and had plans to attend Rainier in the fall. Edward invited me to spend the summer with Naomi and him. I hadn't seen Naomi in four months and had never been to Pennsylvania so I agreed. Edward lived with his brother on an estate in the outskirts of Philly. The family had made their money in textiles. As I said earlier, I ended up only staying two nights before leaving to spend the summer with my cousins in Texas." Blair took a deep breath before he continued telling of the incident that left him for years afterwards with nightmares. Blair opened his eyes but didn't look in Jim's direction.
"It was the second night that it...happened. I already had gotten a bad feeling about Thornton, although Edward was an all right guy. It was Thornton who took me on a promised tour of the grounds that afternoon while Naomi and Edward slept. Naomi and I had stayed up past dawn talking and catching up.(A smile flitted across his face at the memory of his mother's smiling face.) During the tour I noticed that Thornton took every opportunity to touch me that came up. I shrugged it off, however as just my overactive imagination. There was some formal dance that the brothers were invited to that evening and of course I went. That is where that damn picture was taken. What you can't see is that Naomi was on my right with Edward but they were cropped out. (Blair sighed and ran his right hand through his hair as he came to the difficult part.) We got home around midnight and I instantly went to my room. I crashed hard, the plane trip catching up to me I guess. It was around three that I suddenly woke to see Thornton standing at the foot of my bed. (Blair's heart felt suddenly heavy in his chest at the remembered anxiety of waking up to find he wasn't alone in the dark richly furnished room.)
Cold terror rushed through him as he recognized Paul, still dressed in his tuxedo standing motionless at the foot of the bed.
"You are one of the most beautiful boys I have seen in a long time, Blair."
A chill ran through him at the lust he heard in the man's voice, very glad that he couldn't see the man's eyes which surely would have revealed even something more ugly.
In a calm deliberate tone that sounded much older, more experienced than even Blair at the age of 29 would manage to get, Blair replied, "I'm not interested."
He felt the arrogant smile on the other's man face although he couldn't see it.
"I am sure we can come to an arrangement that would be equally pleasurable to both of us. I am prepared to provide you with anything you desire. I'll even fund your education if you insist on continuing your little pastime."
The patronizing confidence set Blair's nerves on edge as he laid prone in the bed clutching the blankets in aching fists. The anger coursing through him was demanding that he get up and beat the arrogant smile off the man's face. Reality however wisely interfered. He was thin for his age and although had grown three inches in the past 6 months he still hadn't put on any bulk, making him look younger than sixteen. If this confrontation became physical, he would lose.
"No" he simply said in that same voice mentally calculating the various objects in the room that he could fight with as he escaped from the room if Thornton tried to...
Thornton's sudden chuckle raised the hairs on Blair's arms as Thornton moved within touching distance of him.
Blair fought the urge to flinch as Thornton's right hand came up to caress the right side of his face.
"I shall enjoy negotiating with such a delight as you."
Blair continued to keep his expression cold and impassive not letting any of the revulsion that filled his brain at the man's touch and words show on his face. The man actually believed that Blair was trying to play hard-to-get to drive the price higher.
The man had turned and walked from the room without another word.
"He made a pass at me" continued Blair when a sound from Jim made him catch his lover's eyes.
"Did he...hurt you?" Jim asked angrily his eyes so pale that it was frightening. Concern and outrage filled the orbs on behalf of the boy who had to endure such a horrible situation at such an early age.
"No, No! Jim. Nothing happened. I refused and he left" Blair quickly assured him as he stood and rushed over to press his hands soothingly against Jim's muscular chest.
"Is he the type to hold a grudge 14 years later" Jim grimly asked referring to Brackett's news that Thornton was still keeping an eye on Blair .
Blair thought back to that damn night. He had felt so fucking powerless and vulnerable. He had sworn that night that he would never feel that way ever again. Blair had known damn well that if Thornton had pushed the matter that his first real sexual experience would have been rape. He knew that it had only been Thornton's arrogant belief that Blair would eventually let the old bastard fuck him in exchange for money that spared him from that fate. Thornton actually thought he could buy him. Blair said nothing about the letter that Thornton had couriered to Texas the day after he fled Philadelphia which Blair had returned un-opened.
Jim gazed down intently at the upturned face as several emotions flickered one after another in the depths of the beautiful blue eyes. Sandburg's feeling towards the situation with his student Brad Ventriss now sharply gaining clarity considering this revelation from Blair's past. Ventriss had used Daddy's money and power to get away with raping a fellow female student and unsuccessfully tried to do the same thing with murder. Jim knew he had treated Blair's concern for the girl way too lightly. Now he felt even worse about his smart aleck treatment of Blair during the case. His lover had been in a similar position as the girl when he was little more than a child. No wonder Blair had been so outraged at the University's and Jim's dismissal of the rape. Blair already had experienced sexual harassment from the victim's perspective.
"Yeah the man is mal-adjusted enough to think that he deserves to have me. To a man like that people are things that you can buy" Blair said as he shuddered at just the thought of seeing Thornton's damn face again let alone if the sick bastard ever got the opportunity to actually get his hands on him.
Jim's arms came to circle comfortingly around Blair at the shudder. Both men suddenly laughed aloud as they realized at the same time that they had unknowingly returned to their previously violent position.
The smile on Blair's face faded as he probed the light blue eyes for some hint of Jim's thoughts.
"I'm sorry I hit you."
A small chuckle reverberated through the chest beneath his palms.
"That is one mean right hook you have there, Chief."
Blair raised up on his toes as he placed a gentle kiss on Jim's slightly swollen lip.
Jim pressed his forehead briefly against Blair's enjoying the feel of Blair's body pressed against his.
He lifted his head to catch Blair's eyes with his own serious ones.
"Don't worry about it. I deserved it for taking such a cheap shot," Jim said with shame in his voice. He rubbed the side of his face against the deliciously soft curls murmuring into them, "I love everything you do. Every touch you give me, I feel privileged to receive."
Blair shivered at the seductive tone of Jim's voice against his hair. He closed his eyes relishing the feel of the muscular chest against his face and of the arms holding him. He raised his head to catch Jim's lips in a deep passionate kiss feeling smug when Jim's arms tightened even more around him as their tongues tasted each other as if it was their first kiss all over again.
"Let's go to bed," Blair whispered as his mouth was finally released.
Jim nodded and stepped away to make sure the doors and windows were locked while Blair waited by the foot of the stairs. When his lover rejoined him, Blair put his right arm around Jim's waist while Jim's left arm laid across his shoulders as they slowly walked up the stairs to their bed.
The clink of glass hitting glass filled the dark hotel room. With a swift twist of his right hand a new bottle was open and the man was tilting his head back as the cool soothing liquid went down his throat. He stood with care, avoiding the trash can full of empty beer bottles and walked towards the window which was filled with the lights of Cascade below.
'Blair...yes he would wait. For now.' The sound of another bottle being opened accompanied the thought.
The big strong hand delicately combing through his curls felt wonderful as he laid with his head on Jim's chest in their bed. Blair felt his back muscles release all the tension that the day's events had created.
"Doing okay, babe?" Jim softly murmured.
"Great, just great.."
"Spit it out Jim, since I doubt that you've picked up meditating" Blair said, amusement running through the words showing that he wasn't angry at all.
"He was the reason you got so angry about being my beneficiary? Wasn't he?" asked Jim as he remembered how enraged Sandburg had gotten a few months ago when Blair found out that he was not just financially comfortable but quite wealthy thanks to some shrewd investments.
Blair sighed. He still was not comfortable with the knowledge that Jim was actually a millionaire. A multi-millionaire at that. 2.3 fucking million dollars. No wonder he never really pushed for his rent when they were just roommates. His mind shyed away from the thought that some might have viewed him as Jim's rent boy from the very beginning. That he was only sleeping with Jim because of money. He knew damn well that if the true nature of his and Jim's intimate relationship ever became public knowledge that that is what people would think. Especially the Ellisons. The hippie fraud who lied about his roommate to get a million dollar book deal. Yeah right. Before he had gotten the forensic anthropologist job at Cascade PD he had been real uncomfortable at being Jim's beneficiary and power of attorney. Still did. Even though Jim was his power of attorney as well.
"Yes. I hate feeling like some kind of kept whore."
"Dammit Blair! I said I was sorry about what I said earlier..."
Blair quickly reached up and silenced the rest of Jim's words by placing his left fingers over his delectable lips. Shivering as Jim promptly kissed his fingers.
"Earlier is forgiven, Jim" Blair soothed as he returned his hand to Jim's chest.
"What about Brackett? Do you believe him?"
A long silence filled the dark loft as Blair thought over both what Brackett did and did not say during the meeting at the restaurant.
"Yes. As long as he thinks he has a chance with me; he won't force the issue" Blair replied before sighing softly as he once again wondered what it was about him and psychos. He continued to watch the bright moonlight as it illuminated parts of the nude muscular body he was using as his pillow. 'God, how he loved this man.'
"You are my life, Blair" Jim whispered as if he could hear Blair's unspoken thought.
Blair snuggled closer to Jim's body in response as he joined his lover in sleep.