"No way, Sandburg."
"Come on, Jim. Just one little—"
"What part of 'no way' do you not understand?" Jim asked, his exasperation with his lover more than evident in his tone.
Blair sighed dramatically, holding up his hands in an appeasing gesture. "Okay, man. Have it your way." Turning and walking towards the kitchen, he muttered under his breath, "Not that I'm surprised or anything. What can you expect from a control freak?"
Jim, of course, heard every word. "What did you call me?"
Spinning back around, Blair advanced on him. "You heard me! Control freak. What is up with you lately, man? You've always been a little anal about some stuff, but lately you've been unbearable! You're always having to make the decisions, and refusing to do any tests or even to let me talk you through anything. And let's not even get into the sex department!"
"What's wrong with the sex?" Jim demanded, highly affronted. He deliberately ignored the rest of Blair's tirade, not having any answers he was willing to give.
"Nothing's wrong, per se, if you don't mind it always being one-sided. I love that you can make my brains turn into jelly, but occasionally I'd like the chance to return the favor." Blair's voice calmed and took on a note of concern. "I think it's just a symptom of a larger problem. Which you refuse to admit even exists."
Jim just shook his head, feeling the muscle in his jaw begin to twitch. He knew Blair wouldn't let go of this until he'd figured it out, but he wasn't about to provide any encouragement. Why couldn't the kid see that this was something he wanted to work through himself?
Blair had that contemplative look that he always got when he was figuring out a puzzle. "This all started about a month ago," he mused. "That was right after that whole Golden mess."
At the mention of the case that had left him temporarily blind and had almost killed his partner, Jim stiffened involuntarily. It didn't go unnoticed by said partner.
"I'm right, aren't I?" Blair began pacing and gesturing wildly as he talked it out. "Losing your sight took away a lot of your feeling of being able to control a situation. And then when I ate that Golden-laced pizza and ended up in the hospital, all you could do was wait and see if I pulled through. It must've just driven home the fact that you had no control. So, ever since then, you've been overcompensating, trying to control everything and blowing a gasket if anyone even suggests that you give up some of that control."
Jim sighed ruefully. Damn, but the kid was good.
"So, what do you suggest I do about it, Dr. Freud?" he asked sarcastically, though deep inside he hoped his Guide would have a workable plan. He wasn't so far gone that he thought he could continue on like this indefinitely.
Ignoring the sarcasm, Blair replied, "We've got to convince your subconscious that it's okay to let go sometimes, that nothing bad is going to happen if you're not in control every single second."
"And how do we do that?"
Blair continued pacing in silence for a moment, then stopped dead and spun to face Jim, a triumphant smile on his face. "Sex!"
Jim blinked. "Sex," he repeated blankly.
His partner nodded enthusiastically. "Sex. It's perfect, man. I've been wanting to take the lead for a while, but now it's for a good reason. Of course every time I've tried lately, you just overpower me and turn the tables, but we can find ways to work around that—maybe tying you to the bed or something. Oh, and, hey, I just had another thought—this whole thing started because you lost your sight, so maybe we can incorporate that, too, by blindfolding you. I've got some silk scarves I bought for Naomi's birthday that would be perfect. Man, this is going to be so great—"
"Whoa, whoa, slow down there for a minute," Jim interrupted. "Let me see if I've got this straight. You think I have a problem with being too much in control and your solution to that is to blindfold and tie me up and have your wicked way with me?"
"Well, yeah, essentially. Don't worry, I promise you'll enjoy it. That's the whole point, really, because if you didn't, that would just make the original trauma worse. But I'm sure I know your body well enough to guarantee that won't happen, so you don't have to worry about that."
"Well, we don't have to do it tonight. Actually, it would probably be better if we did do it another night because then I'll have more time to prepare and we can set aside the entire evening, make it something of a ritual. Hey, I wonder if there's anything written on Sentinels and cleansing rituals? I'll have to go do some research tomorrow—"
Jim reached out and stopped the flow of words by the simple but expedient means of putting his hand over Blair's mouth.
"Would you let me get a word in here edgewise, Sandburg? Don't you think you better get my agreement before you start making plans? Or were you planning on tying me up when I was asleep or something?" Jim wasn't sure which annoyed him most—the idea of what Blair wanted to do or the fact that he just assumed that Jim would automatically go along with it.
Blair looked offended and pulled Jim's hand away from his mouth. "Of course not! How could you even think—" He stopped and looked at the older man through narrowed eyes. "You're not going to do it."
"Damn right I'm not! The whole idea is ridiculous—bondage as therapy? And that's even if I admit I need therapy, which I haven't. You've really gone over the edge this time, Sandburg."
"Well, if you don't have a problem with giving up control, there's got to be another reason you don't want to do it. I know it's not prudishness—we've played enough games for me to know that. So, what's the reason? Is it because you don't trust me?"
Jim sighed. "Don't be stupid, Chief."
"Well, it's got to be something and that's the only other thing I can think of."
Jim was beginning to feel backed into a corner. "You know I trust you, Chief. I just don't like the idea of it. I mean, would you let me blindfold you and tie you to the bed if I asked you to?"
"In a heartbeat, man," the younger man answered. "But then, I don't have a problem with control—or trust."
"I don't have a problem with trust!" Jim all but shouted.
Blair laid a hand on his partner's arm. "Then trust me in this. I know the idea of giving up that much control scares you, but trust that I won't hurt you and that I'll do everything in my power to make sure you enjoy it."
Jim looked into those earnest blue eyes. For a moment, he wanted to give in and say yes, but the fear of relinquishing that much control was just too much. "I can't," he whispered.
There was silence for a moment as Blair studied his lover's face intently. "Okay," he sighed, turning away and running his hands through his hair. "If you can't, you can't. I'll just have to think of some other way of attacking this control thing. But whatever else I come up with won't be nearly as much fun."
Jim stared at him for a minute, waiting for an explosion that never came. "That's it?" he finally asked.
Blair looked at him over his shoulder. "What were you expecting? This would only work if you gave up control voluntarily. And even if that wasn't the case, I wouldn't force you. If you think I would, then you really don't trust me." He shook his head with a sigh. "I'm going to bed."
Jim watched Blair head upstairs. Time to take a hard look at yourself, Ellison, he thought. Had he really believed Blair would force the issue? Yes, he realized, he had, if only by pestering him to death about it. And there was a part of him that had half-believed that his lover would spring it on him in his sleep. Jim closed his eyes. No wonder Blair wasn't sure about his trust. Well, there was a way he could prove it to him, if he really wanted to. Decision made, he went upstairs before he could change his mind.
Blair was lying on the bed, curled up on his side, facing away from the stairs. Jim sat down beside him.
"Yeah?" Blair answered, not moving.
"I'll do it."
Blair rolled over onto his back and blinked up at him. "But I thought..." he began confusedly.
Jim reached out a hand and began playing with Blair's curls, carefully avoiding the younger man's eyes. "I realized you had a point—about the control thing and about the trust. I've got something to prove not only to you but to myself. This...ritual...seems like the best way to do that."
He felt a hand gently caress his cheek and looked up, meeting blue eyes full of concern and love. "You sure about this?" Blair asked quietly.
"Yeah." Jim's reply was immediate.
"Okay, then. We can do it tomorrow night."
Jim couldn't suppress the tiny ripple of anxiety that went through him at that, though he did manage to keep it out of his voice when he answered. "That sounds fine."
As usual, though, Blair somehow sensed his unease. "Come here," he said, pulling the larger man down to lie in his embrace. Jim automatically wrapped his arms around him, burying his face in his lover's hair. "It's going to be all right," Blair whispered Sentinel-soft. "You'll see."
Jim just nodded and hugged Blair tighter.
* * *
All the next day Jim was on edge, caught between dread and a strange and growing anticipation. Blair had had classes all day so they hadn't seen or spoken to each other since that morning. He had been stuck doing paperwork all afternoon so there hadn't been much to distract his thoughts from the impending evening.
By the time he arrived home, he was so wound up, he was practically vibrating. Great, he thought, bouncing in place as he rode the elevator up to the loft. I'm turning into Sandburg now.
He paused before opening the apartment door, doing his best to calm his jangled nerves. Then, taking a deep breath, he went inside.
He wasn't sure what he had been expecting, but he was sure this wasn't it. The place looked...normal. Just like it was an ordinary evening.
Blair was in the kitchen, stirring a pot of something that was simmering merrily on the stove. Jim sniffed and identified it as tortellini alfredo. With chicken. One of his favorites, he thought idly.
Blair had looked up and gave him a bright smile. "Hi. Just in time. This is almost done. Do me a favor and open the wine, would you?"
Moving as if in a daze, Jim followed his lover's instructions and then sat down at the table.
"Thanks, babe," Blair said, leaning over and kissing Jim as he laid a plate filled with pasta in front of him before taking the other seat.
Jim watched as his partner began to dig into his dinner with gusto.
"Man, I am starving!" Blair said around a mouthful of food. "The meeting with my advisor ran late so I didn't have any time for lunch. Haven't had a bite since breakfast this morning." He paused, gesturing with his pasta-laden fork at Jim's untouched plate. "You not hungry?"
Numbly, Jim picked up his fork and mechanically began shoving the food in. He listened to his lover babble on about his day just like it was a normal evening and wondered when the other shoe was going to drop.
Finally, he found he just had to say something.
"Chief," he said, interrupting Blair as he began another story about the trials and tribulations in the life of a grad student, "what's going on? I thought we were going to...you know."
Blair set down his fork and met Jim's eyes squarely. "We are. But not until after dinner." A small smile touched his lips briefly. "What—did you think I was going to jump and hogtie you the second you walked in the door?"
"Well, I..." Jim stammered, blushing as he realized that was exactly what he had been expecting.
Blair's smile widened and he reached over and laid a hand on Jim's forearm. "We'll talk about it after dinner. It's been a long day. We both need time to unwind. And I really am starving. Food first, okay?"
Jim nodded. "Okay." He turned his attention back to his dinner and was able to add his own contributions to the conversation, though Blair still did most of the talking.
When they were finished and the table had been cleared, Blair finally turned to Jim with a serious expression. "Okay, time for that talk now."
Jim felt all of the tension which had eased during dinner come rushing back. Mutely, he followed Blair into the living room and sat beside him on the couch. Taking a deep breath, he turned to his partner. "So, talk."
"Are you sure you want to do this, Jim?"
Jim blinked. Blair was giving him an out. All he had to do was say no, that he had made a mistake in agreeing to this last night and that would be that. But as much as the idea still scared him, at some point during the day, it had begun to fascinate him as well. And as scared as he was, he found he really did want to go through with it.
"I'm not backing out, Blair. What I said last night still stands."
His lover looked deep into his eyes for a moment, then nodded. "Okay, then. Why don't you go take a shower, then, while I get things together upstairs? Just come up when you're ready."
Jim nodded, stood up and headed for the bathroom. He hesitated at the doorway and looked back over his shoulder to see Blair silently encouraging him with a smile. He returned the smile somewhat uncertainly and went into the bathroom.
Once inside, he stripped and turned on the shower. Closing his eyes, he let the water massage some of the tension out of his muscles. He was really going to do this, he thought. He was going to let his lover tie him up and blindfold him and have his way with him. The thought was still frightening, but now that he had committed to it, he noticed that wasn't the only feeling it inspired. The anticipation he had been feeling all day was quickly growing into full-fledged arousal.
He looked down at his rapidly filling cock and a wry smile touched his lips; growing was definitely the right word.
Jim took his time with the shower, cleaning himself inside and out, letting the anticipation and arousal build. He had expected his anxiety to likewise heighten, but it seemed to remain constant at the same level, for which he was grateful. He was still nervous, but that he could deal with.
Finishing, he dried himself off, wrapped a towel around his waist and exited the bathroom.
Blair had turned off all the lights downstairs and Jim could tell by the soft glow coming from the loft above that the only illumination in the place was coming from candles.
He quickly crossed the living room, and, heart pounding, started to ascend the stairs to the bedroom.
Blair turned from the nightstand when Jim reached the top, shaking out the match he'd just used to light some incense. His eyes roved over the Sentinel's nearly naked form and he smiled appreciatively. "Man, you are gorgeous."
Jim, much to his chagrin, felt himself blush. Blair's smile just widened as he walked over to where his lover stood, wrapped his arm's around the older man's neck and kissed him thoroughly.
After a moment, he pulled away and looked intently at Jim's expression. "You ready?" he asked quietly.
Jim's anxiety and his arousal both took a sudden leap upwards. Unable to get any words out of a suddenly tight throat, he just nodded. Caressing his cheek in a comforting gesture, Blair kissed him quickly again, then turned and picked up a blue silk scarf from the night stand. Turning back, he moved behind Jim and said, "Close your eyes."
With a deep breath, the older man did so. A few seconds later, he felt the soft material being placed over his closed eyelids and tied in place.
He sensed Blair move around to stand in front of him and felt a gentle hand caress his cheek again. "You okay?" his lover asked quietly.
It was the first time he'd been without his sight in any way since the Golden fiasco and the panic he had expected to feel at being deprived of it wasn't materializing.
"Yeah," he said, slightly surprised, realizing that as long as he could sense his lover, he was all right.
"Good," Blair replied, and kissed him again. Then he took Jim's hand and led him over to the bed. "Sit," he commanded.
Jim did so, listening to the soft rustling as Blair picked up something else from the nightstand.
"Hold out your hands."
Again, Jim did as he was told, swallowing hard as he held his hands out in front of him as if he was about to be handcuffed. Again, he felt soft silk against his skin as Blair tied his wrists together with another scarf.
"How many of those do you have?" he thought to ask.
Blair's soft chuckle caressed his ears. "That would be telling." He finished the knot he was tying and gently shoved Jim back onto the bed. "Lie down," he said. "And raise your arms above your head."
His stomach fluttering in nervousness, Jim obeyed, shivering slightly as Blair lightly touched his waist to guide him into the position he wanted. More rustling sounds and then he could feel his lover leaning over him as the younger man used a third scarf to tie his bound wrists to the bedframe.
Squirming around a bit Jim tested his range of motion and discovered that, yes, he was bound securely, though the scarf that tied him to the bed still had a little slack. Just enough to allow him to roll over without releasing him, he realized and that thought sent a tiny bolt of anxious arousal through his frame.
Blair was still leaning over him, close enough for Jim to feel the heat coming off his body. "Comfortable?" he purred in Jim's ear.
The Sentinel swallowed as that voice went straight to his groin. "It's fine," he finally managed to say.
"Good," Blair replied and moved away.
For a second, Jim panicked, thinking that his partner was leaving, but his senses told him otherwise before he could embarrass himself. The soft 'hooshing' sounds Blair's clothes made as he removed them were enough to tell him why his Guide had left the bed and the scent of Blair's arousal was strong enough to reassure him that the abandonment was just temporary.
Indeed, Jim had barely finished the thought before he felt the bed shift slightly as Blair climbed back onto it. He jumped when he felt the younger man's hands touch his waist again, this time removing the towel still tied there.
There was silence for a long moment. The reality of the situation hit Jim like a ton of bricks all of a sudden. He was naked and bound, totally at the mercy of whatever his Guide wanted to do to him. Part of him wanted to call it all off, to order his lover to untie him, but he fought the panic down. He could do this, he could. Still, it was all Jim could do to keep from squirming as he felt Blair's eyes roaming over him like a physical touch.
"You really are gorgeous, you know that? Perfection. It takes my breath away every time. And seeing you like this, knowing you trust me enough to let me do this, man, I could come just from looking at you."
Just hearing his Guide's voice soothed his anxiety and his words and the pictures they inspired notched Jim's arousal another step higher and he groaned.
Blair laughed softly and ran a hand lightly down Jim's leg. "Don't worry," he told the older man. "I'm going to do a lot more than just look."
Jim wasn't sure if that comment was more comforting than it was frightening.
There were some fumbling sounds and then he caught hold of a new scent—strawberries? But not the actual fruit.
"Massage oil?" he guessed.
"Very good," Blair complimented, his voice pleased. "The edible kind because I'm not sure where I'll be putting my mouth when we're done with the massage." Jim could hear the wicked grin in his lover's voice.
He felt Blair shift around on the bed and then his calves were being stroked by hands that were warm and slippery. He groaned and sighed as his lover began an expert massage, starting with his lower legs and gradually working his way upwards.
Blair took his time, and Jim gradually began to relax under his lover's touch that was at once both soothing and arousing. He reached Jim's thighs and the older man felt his breathing quicken at the thought of what part of his anatomy was next. But Blair carefully avoided touching his cock, instead sliding his hands from the top of the Sentinel's thighs up onto his stomach.
Jim couldn't suppress a moan of disappointment at that.
"Don't worry, lover. We'll get there. Eventually," Blair reassured him in a voice full of humor. "Patience is a virtue, after all."
Jim just groaned again, which drew a soft laugh from his Guide.
Blair continued to massage his way up Jim's body and took his time doing it. Jim was panting by the time his Guide had finished and removed his hands from the older man's body.
"Now what?" he asked somewhat trepidatiously, somehow knowing that Blair was grinning wickedly at him even without being able to see.
"Now, we obey a simple law of physics," Blair replied.
"Physics?" Jim repeated, wondering what the hell his lover was going on about.
"Yeah. Physics, Jim. To put it simply, I went up, so now I have to go down." And so saying, Blair swooped down and engulfed Jim's cock in his mouth.
Jim lurched up with a wordless cry at the unexpected but very welcome sensation. His whole world seemed to narrow to his groin and what Blair was doing with his tongue. He couldn't keep from thrusting upwards, trying to get even further into the moist haven of that wonderful mouth. But Blair moved with his thrusts, keeping control of how deep the Sentinel went. Jim whimpered in frustration as he was brought to the brink time after time, but never allowed to topple over. Finally, when it seemed to Jim like he'd been on the edge forever, Blair took him in up to the root and hummed lightly. The added vibrations were more than enough. Jim climaxed with a yell, and shot his seed down his lover's throat, his whole body shuddering as it was wracked by waves of almost unbearable pleasure.
Blair continued to milk him until the last of the shudders had faded, then crawled up his lover's body and kissed him, letting Jim taste himself.
It took the Sentinel a few minutes to catch his breath when their lips parted. "God, Chief," he finally managed to say. "That was incredible!"
"Glad you liked it," Blair replied, then leaned close and whispered right into Jim's ear, "But what makes you think that we're done yet?"
The words made Jim shiver and brought back a little of his earlier nervousness. Just how far was Blair planning on taking this?
"Chief, I—" He stopped, hearing the uncertainty in his voice.
Blair caught the older man's mouth in a gentle comforting kiss. "Trust me," he whispered against Jim's lips.
Jim took a deep breath, then nodded. "I do."
He heard the younger man's breath catch at his simple declaration and there was silence between them for a moment. When Blair finally did speak, his voice was a bit huskier than before.
Jim complied, with a little help from his Guide as it was a difficult maneuver with his hands still tied to the headboard.
"You okay?" Blair asked him as he settled onto his stomach.
He wriggled around a bit. It was a bit more awkward than lying on his back, but not unbearably so. "Yeah."
He felt Blair shift down the bed again. "Lift up for a second." When Jim did so, Blair shoved a pillow under his hips.
"It'll make things easier later," he explained. Jim shivered again at the pictures that explanation conjured.
Again, the oil was brought out, and again, Blair began a slow erotic massage, starting with the backs of Jim's feet and slowly working his way upwards. This time Jim relaxed much more quickly under his lover's wonderful ministrations. The massage had an added erotic component as well with Blair's words about physics still running through Jim's mind.
Blair spent quite a long time on Jim's buttocks when he got there, stroking and kneading the firm cheeks repeatedly, occasionally brushing one finger or another into the cleft between them. Jim moaned as he felt his cock begin to harden again.
Finally, Blair's hands moved onward, massaging his way up the wide expanse of Jim's muscular back. When he reached the shoulders, he leaned over and kissed the back of his lover's neck. Jim moaned again at the sensation and felt Blair's lips curve into a smile at the sound.
Blair began kissing his way down Jim's body again, his mouth retracing the path his hands had taken in reverse.
Jim tensed as the trail of kisses went down his spine straight to the top of his cleft. Only Blair didn't stop there.
Holding Jim's cheeks apart with his hands, he licked over the sensitive pucker that was then exposed.
"God!" Jim cried out, arching into the incredible sensation.
Blair then began a merciless attack, licking over and around Jim's opening, his tongue occasionally darting inside. It was an attack that soon had Jim reduced to whimpers, rendering him incapable of doing anything but feeling the pleasure that kept building higher and higher.
He cried out in loss when Blair's tongue left him, only to moan in ecstasy when it was replaced by a well-oiled finger.
One finger quickly became two, then three, moving smoothly in and out as they stretched him. Then the fingers were removed, but before Jim had a chance to mourn their loss, Blair's cock took their place, sliding into him in one smooth thrust.
Jim moaned and quivered as Blair withdrew only to thrust back in. He tried to move his hips higher to deepen his Guide's penetration, but could get very little leverage tied as he was.
Blair started thrusting in a slow, even rhythm; Jim moaned in frustration as it only served to drive him higher, but wasn't enough to push him over. It was obvious Blair was determined to drive him crazy.
Blair continued his slow easy rhythm until Jim was gasping for air, little mewling sounds coming from his mouth. The Sentinel had reached heights of arousal he'd never before experienced and each thrust only served to enflame him even more. He was so far beyond himself, he would've been terrified, if he had any brain power left over for it.
Gradually, Blair's thrusts sped up. He shifted a bit, changing his angle of entry so that he hit Jim's prostate and at the same time reached around and grabbed Jim's cock in his hand.
The duel sensation proved to be too much. Jim screamed as he exploded into the most intense climax he had ever experienced. Everything he was was tossed into a tidal wave of pleasure. His last coherent thought before being dragged under was that it was okay to let go because Blair was there to catch him.
An eternity later, he became aware of someone calling his name. He opened his eyes, idly registering that the blindfold and other restraints were gone, and saw his lover looking down at him worriedly.
Blair sighed in relief when he saw Jim's eyes open. "Man, don't scare me like that!"
Licking dry lips, Jim tried to find his voice. "What happened?" he asked hoarsely.
"You passed out! You've been out cold for five minutes. I was starting to think you'd had a stroke or something."
Jim blinked. "Five minutes?" he repeated in disbelief.
Blair nodded. "Yeah. Five minutes. I was almost ready to call for help."
"Five minutes?" Jim repeated again. He just could not wrap his mind around that.
"Yeah." Blair frowned in concern. "Are you all right?"
Jim nodded. "Yeah. It's just—five minutes." Five minutes. Wow.
"I am so sorry about this, man. I was trying to get you to lose control, yeah, but I didn't mean to knock you into next week like that. Maybe you were right about this being a bad idea. I don't know what you can be thinking of me right now, but I—"
Jim reached up and covered Blair's mouth with his hand. "Let me tell you what I'm thinking. I'm thinking that that was the most intense sexual experience of my life. I'm thinking that at any other time being that out of control would've terrified me, but not this time. Because I knew you were there and you wouldn't let me fall."
Blair just stared at him, blue eyes wide, his emotions plain to read in them. He opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out.
Blair Sandburg speechless, Jim thought, amused. Now I've seen everything. Aloud, he said, "You did good, Chief," and smiled, reaching up to caress his lover's hair.
He watched as a brilliant smile slowly spread across Blair's face, then pulled the young man into a gentle kiss. Blair snuggled into his side. Feeling quite content, Jim sighed and wrapped his arms around the younger man.
A little while later, a chuckle drifted up to him. "Does this mean you'll be willing to do some tests now?"
"Don't push it, Chief."