Dancing in the Dark
by cmshaw
11 May 1998

Disclaimers: Pet Fly owns 'em, UPN abuses 'em, I just love 'em.

Summary: This was going to be a PWP involving nothing more serious than Bailey's Irish Creme, but Blair saw right through Jim's (and my) flippant reassurances the morning after. He insisted on processing. What could I do? We processed.

Warning: This is another story falling under the category of 'avoid doing this drunk unless you're a fictional character'. NC-17 for m/m sex while under the influence, plus some bad language.

Note: Yes, I can get the boys together sober. Really, I swear. I'm just doing it this way because I'm feeling a tad awkward about having lost my NC-17-virginity on Senad to the Pink Ostrich challenge -- I want to prove I can do something a little (just a little) more classy with two lovely, tipsy fictional men.

Another warning: No, this isn't beta'd either. I promise I'll find myself a beta-reader as soon as finals are over and I can admit to myself that I'm spending real time on these stories.

It was fascinating, Jim thought meditatively, the way the sweet alcohol slid cold down his throat but landed in his stomach with a such fiery burn. The fire, in fact, spread all through his body, rising up his spine to twine around the base of his skull, hissing through his nerves down to his fingertips, and pooling like lava in his groin. Was it his sense of touch that was burning? Curious, he found the dial and drunkenly fumbled it up a notch. Ooh. Ooh yeah, that was it. Jim let his head fall back onto the couch and licked his lips for the tiny explosion of taste still available. He basked in the warmth and well-being radiating out through his body from the tingling ball of fire between his legs. Groaning slightly in pleasure, he wiggled gently against the sofa cushions and turned the dial a notch higher.

"Jim," crooned a soft, low voice.

"Mmm," he replied. That was a nice voice. He liked the sound of it, wrapping around him, vibrating softly in the air.

"Jim," the voice said again. "Are you okay?"

"Mmm," Jim said again. He hoped the voice kept speaking. Nonsense syllables were just fine.

"Man, I'm gettin' a bit worried here," he heard, and then a new source of warmth was swooping towards him. He reached out to greet it, laughing lightly as his arms flailed, overbalanced by what seemed to be weights tied to him in odd places. He latched onto something hot in spite of this impediment and pulled it into his embrace, opening his eyes to see what this new source of delight looked like.

It looked like an incubus, actually. Soft curls burnished gold by an unknown light source framed a beloved face and bright blue eyes that seemed to burn with the same fire that lit Jim's belly. Have you come here to seduce me, you beautiful creature? Jim wondered. Please, allow me to roll over and offer up my soul to you. "Blair," he groaned, not knowing quite what he meant.

"Jim, big guy, you are one cuddly drunk, you know that?" the voice sighed, the gentle susurration making his skin tingle. Jim's eyes followed the movements of the full lips only inches away from his own as the meaningless words echoed in the air, and leaned forward to taste them.

Heat, a raging fiery heat under a sweet, cool coating of liquid, that was his first sensory impression. A silky softness tangled with his tongue as he sought more of the creamy taste, and somehow this made Jim burn all the hotter and probe farther with his tongue, seeking more and finding it. He moaned, and felt the mouth against his vibrate with the sound.

Jim leaned back again, hearing air rush into two pairs of lungs as he released the mouth he'd kissed. The voice took hold of him again, carrying him down into the pounding of two heartbeats, and he let his hands roam as they willed over the luscious body in his arms.

"Oh wow, man, make that a cuddler and one hell of a kisser. Where did you learn to kiss like that and why on earth haven't we done that before? Or off earth, man, cuz I think I'm on cloud nine right here... ooh. Oh yeah, touch me there, Jim. Yeah, gods yes. This is crazy but it's such a good crazy, Jim, don't stop. Oh gods. Oh gods. Oh Jim. Oh yes..."

Gradually that voice, as it always did, brought Jim up out of his haze. He was sitting on their living-room couch with his roommate in his lap, happy and horny and groping said roommate with alcohol-induced single-minded focus. His hands slid up under Blair's soft flannel shirt and over thick, springy curls; the skin under his fingertips was hot, and slick with natural oils. Jim drew in a deep breath and inhaled sweat, alcohol, and the unmistakable scents of two aroused men. His cock throbbed in his jeans. What was he doing? He didn't care. One caressing thumb found a ring of warmed metal and rubbed it curiously. The body in Jim's arms responded with an erotic shudder, starting in the flat stomach now exposed to Jim's hungry eyes, flowing downwards to rock against Jim's thighs, flowing upwards to flex the chest cradled in his hands and tip back Blair's head, heavy with its wealth of curls. The silken strands seemed to crackle free and individually float back down to slide sensually over Blair's shoulders. The deep rumble of Blair's voice, internalized until it was almost a soothing purr vibrating though Jim's body, grew louder in excitement.

Old memories teased the back of Jim's mind. Go with the flow, man, whispered a voice that sounded much like Blair's, and Jim took its advice. He wrapped both arms around Blair's chest, leaned as far forward as he could, and lurched off of the couch, landing them both on their feet.

"Oof," said Blair into his shoulder.

Either Jim or the room was swaying, possibly both. Nevertheless, the sentinel took his guide's hand in his own and laced their fingers together. He took his bearings carefully, noted the obstacles between himself and his goal, and set off in the direction of the stairs to his bedroom, towing his companion behind him. Halfway up the steps, it occurred to him that navigating stairs while this drunk was ridiculous, and he started laughing, which set Blair off, which nearly knocked both of them off of their feet and back down into the living room. They were still giggling when they attained the bed, fell into it, and began tugging ineffectively at each other's clothes. Concentrating so carefully that he nearly zoned, Jim finally got the first three buttons of Blair's flannel open and pulled it over Blair's head. Rolling back, he pulled his own rugby shirt off quickly, opened his jeans by feel -- a task to which Blair had just proven himself unequal -- and slid out of his jeans and boxers, thankful he was barefoot. Turning back to Blair, he swatted aside the younger man's hands, opened his zipper too, and relieved them of the final interfering garments.

The rush of heat from Blair's uncovered body hit him squarely in the groin, and he moaned, sliding one hand up the newly revealed smooth thigh and into the furry warmth below his hips. Blair arched into his touch, that smooth voice tightening its clasp around him: "Yes, Jim, yes, I want you, please, please gods I want you--" and Jim growled, helpless in his need, and flipped Blair onto his stomach. Muscles rippled under the skin that he caressed. With one hand he stretched out and yanked open the bottom drawer to his nightstand, using the shock of the cold wood under his fingers to remember what he sought. A foil-wrapped circle met his questing hand at last, and he curled back around the hot, writhing, intoxicating body of his partner. Hands shaking, he opened the condom and slid it on, the pressure of his fingers around his cock making him shudder. Pumping his erection once more and then letting go, he ran his hand now slippery with spermicide up between Blair's thighs and pushed one finger right into the hot body under his hands.

Hot? Incendiary, more like. Jim felt himself melting, collapsing into a pool of molten desire, as he thrust his one finger in and out of that welcoming body. Two fingers. Three fingers. Blair was completely relaxed, open to his penetrating hand and crying out his eagerness in an unceasing flow of deep rolling words. Jim pulled his hand free and moved to cover the sweaty body of his guide with his own body. He slid his hands down Blair's arms and over the backs of his hands, lacing their fingers together and spreading their arms out to the side. Digging both knees into the mattress on either side of Blair's hips, Jim thrust himself home with one harsh cry and buried his face in the slick shoulder and damp curls.

So good. He didn't remember it ever being this good before. He gripped the hips under him with his thighs, lifted them slightly off the mattress, and thrust again, penetrating deeper. The body he held twisted eagerly into his grip. He pulled back, feeling the contrast between the burning heat of Blair's ass and the relatively cool air that swirled between their bodies, and pushed his hips down again, burying his cock in that fire once more. He was groaning now, his body finding the tempo and rocking him in and out of Blair's body in time with his rhythmic cries. Blair's voice still urged him on, babbling encouragement or nonsense or the secrets of the universe, Jim didn't care. He curled around Blair and concentrated on making love.

It seemed to go on forever, timeless, dizzying, and all-encompassing, but in the end he heard and felt a change in the body rocking in cadence with his. Tucking his head down, he changed his rhythm, thrusting in short, hard strokes, and felt the rush of heat as Blair tightened his fists, keened, writhed, and came in hard, clenching spasms. Sweat rolling down Blair's back coated Jim's chest and face. Crying aloud, Jim ground his hips into the shuddering body. He pulled back and pushed in again, pressing his cock deep and rocking their hips into the sheets. With a yell of relief, he came, heat engulfing the head of his cock in the condom and electricity sizzling up his spine to explode behind his eyes. Panting, he collapsed onto his partner's back.

As the aftershocks diminished, he pulled Blair's arms underneath their bodies, Blair's fists still clasped in his hands, and rolled them onto their sides, letting his head fall back onto the cool mattress with a sigh. He felt pleasantly lethargic, slightly dizzy, and utterly sated. All that was missing was--

"Oh wow, man," purred a soft voice. Ah, there it was. "I mean, wow, man. I am feelin' no pain now. Not that I would, I mean, sex is supposed to feel good, but right now I am floating so high that good doesn't even begin to describe it. Sublime," the voice crooned, "magnificent, awe-inspiring, overwhelming..."

Moving brought a good, deep ache to his muscles as he pushed Blair's hips away from his own gently, holding the base of the condom with one hand and gasping as his limp cock slid out of Blair's body. Blair gasped, too, and resumed his monologue as Jim rolled to deposit the condom in the wastebasket beside his bed. Jim rolled back to spoon up around the other man. He kicked the topsheet out from under their feet, pulled it up over the two of them, and tucked a pillow under his own head. Blair was finally winding down, or perhaps Jim was sliding into sleep already, because his voice was growing fainter and fainter in Jim's ears...

Jim woke to the tinny buzzing of his alarm clock and rolled over with a groan to slap the snooze button. Seven-thirty a.m. and it feels (and tastes) like you had way to much to drink given that last night was only Thursday, James my man, he told himself. And you smell quite strongly of your roommate, too. Just what did you-- and then he remembered.

Jim flipped over again, wide awake now. Oh, now this is a sight to wake up to, he decided. Blair was sprawled on his stomach across the other side of the bed, hair fanning out around his bare shoulders with a long curve of his back left exposed by the sheet wrapped around his waist. He was smiling faintly in his sleep.

Oh yeah, you still got it, old man. Jim stretched luxuriously, feeling warm, comfortable, and quite pleased with himself. He inhaled deeply and savored the mingled scents of their sweat and semen on the bedclothes. Blair, he smiled to see, had tucked one knee up under his body and was curled like a contortionist -- or a cat -- to avoid the wet spot. He looked altogether edible, and Jim forced himself to turn his head and look at the clock again. 7:33.

With a sigh, he leaned over, slid his hand caressingly along Blair's warm shoulder, and shook his bedpartner gently. "Blair. Hey, Sandburg, time to get up."

Blair twitched, mumbled something along the lines of "hmmmpherrg," and buried his face pointedly in the pillow.

Just an ordinary morning in the Sandburg-Ellison household, Jim thought with a wry chuckle. "Chief. Rise and shine." Nothing. "If you don't get up now I'm going to claim the first shower. And use up all the hot water."

That percolated through the younger man's mind eventually, and he groaned, rolled over, and sat up. Moving on autopilot, he reached down, tossed back the covers, and tried to stand up, only to find that the edge of the bed wasn't where he thought it was. He rubbed his eyes and opened them for a look.

God but he's adorable when he's sleepy, Jim thought, not for the first time. Bright blue eyes blinked at him in confusion, and then Blair reached up to rub at his face again.

Jim chuckled. "Morning, Chief. You want that hot water or not?"

"Uh, yeah." Blair shook his head, curls bouncing, and slid out of the other side of the bed. He hissed as he stood up, then planted his feet and lifted his arms over his head, stretching and twisting as Jim heard his vertebrae and shoulder joints crack. He took a few steps toward the stairs, stopped, and turned back. "Uh..." he said uncertainly.

Jim snuggled back down into his place in the bed and pulled the sheets up around himself. "I'll get up in a few minutes," he said.

"Oh," Blair said. "Okay." He turned and padded down the stairs.

Jim closed his eyes and half-consciously tracked his roommate into the bathroom, turning on the shower, stepping in.... The alarm clock took him by surprise. He grunted, slapped the snooze button, and rolled onto his other side. The alarm clock woke him again. 7:42. Blair was still in the shower. Sighing for the woes of the working man, Jim clambered out of bed and shrugged into his robe, tying the belt as he made his way into the kitchen. Coffee: he opened the percolator, placed a new filter in the top, removed the coffee beans from the freezer, measured them into the grinder, replaced the bag in the freezer, ground the coffee, tapped it into the filter, double-checked the water, turned on the machine, and cleaned the coffee grinder. Then he leaned against the counter, inhaling coffee grounds from his fingertips and listening to the water boil.

Blair emerged from the bathroom just as the coffee was ready. He left Blair's mug on the counter, one spoon of honey, no milk, and took a careful gulp of his own, one spoon of honey, extra milk, before heading for the shower himself. Blair paused in his doorway, towel wrapped around his hips and damp hair brushing his back, and then ducked into his own room without a word. Jim ran through his morning ablutions still on autopilot, although the caffeine and the lukewarm water were finally starting to wake him, and dressed quickly. Their clothes from yesterday were still scattered on his bedroom floor. Laughing happily to himself, Jim scooped them up and carried them downstairs to toss them in the clothes hamper. Blair was setting out scrambled eggs in the kitchen.

Jim reclaimed his coffee from the kitchen table and moved back into the living room, grimacing slightly at the sweet odor rising from the rug beneath the coffee table. Damn. One of them had spilled a drink last night. He gathered up their leavings and returned to the kitchen, setting the glasses in the sink and replacing the bottle in the liquor cabinet. Yawning, he refilled his coffee mug and took his seat at the table. Halfway through his eggs, he realized Blair was staring at him.

"Chief?" he asked.

"About last night," Blair began, and stopped.

"Mmm?" Jim encouraged. The kid was blushing and speechless, two unfamiliar states of being for him as far as Jim knew. Remembering how Blair had babbled uncontrollably the night before, he couldn't help smiling.

"You've done that before," Blair blurted.

Jim cocked his head to the side. "Done what, exactly?"

Blair blushed harder and waved his hand suggestively. "Ji-im," he complained.

"Army rangers are highly practiced in many arts," Jim said with a smile.

"So you're bi?" Blair asked incredulously.

Bi? Bisexual? Jim frowned. "It's not like that, Sandburg," he said. "It's just, you know, guys. Sex. You know?"

"Well, no, not really. I mean, not personally."

"You've never had sex with a guy before?" Now Jim was surprised. Blair certainly had seemed to know what he was doing last night...

"No, I haven't, but that's not what I meant. It's just that..." Blair blushed again, but whereas before he'd been playfully embarrassed, now he seemed truly uncomfortable. "That, well, when I have sex with someone, even once, it means something to me."

"What are you saying, Chief?" Jim was getting worried. He didn't understand what had happened; something was bothering Blair, and he had no idea what it was. With a jolt, he remembered the two bottles of wine they'd polished off over dinner before moving on to the hard stuff. Had Blair not been as consenting as he'd appeared when drunk? Damn, what a way to ruin such a wonderful afterglow.

Blair stared down at his half-eaten eggs. "I just kinda thought more was going on last night than testosterone and half a bottle of Bailey's, that's all. Guess I was wrong." He poked despondently at his food with his fork.

"I don't understand," Jim said plaintively.

"Obviously not," said Blair, and left it at that.

Jim glanced at the clock. "Chief," he said, standing up and dumping his plate in the sink, "we're going to be late if we don't hurry up." He scrubbed his plate, his mug, and the glasses from last night, accepting Blair's as well when the graduate student handed them to him, and listened as Blair rustled through his papers scattered across the floor of his room. "Blair," he said quietly as his guide met him at the front door, coat and backpack in hand. "We need to talk about what's wrong, okay? I'm sorry if I did anything last night that you didn't want me to do."

"No, man," said Blair, trotting ahead to the stairwell, "it's more what you didn't do."

Jim locked the door and hurried after him. Blair was waiting in the truck when he got outside. "What do you mean, what I didn't do?" he asked as he turned the key in the ignition.

Blair looked out the window. "What made you think I wanted you last night?"

Jim laughed. "Alcohol and arrogance." He paused; Blair didn't need a flippant response right now. "You kissed me back," he said, "and I could smell it."

"You could smell what?" Blair asked.

"Your body smells different when you're turned on." Or unhappy, like you are right now, Jim added to himself.

"Huh," said Blair, obviously filing that away for future reference. "Arrogance?"

"I guess I just... assumed..." Jim trailed off, trying to figure out why he was blushing.

"...That I was that kind of guy?" Blair finished sarcastically.

Yes, Jim almost said, and stopped to think before he spoke. 'That kind of guy.' There had been one or two in almost every unit he'd served in back in his Ranger days: the guy with the reputation for being easy, for liking it 'that way.' Jim realized that he hadn't really thought about it at the time, or since; he'd just accepted it, accepted the sex he'd had with those guys, and shrugged the whole thing off. 'Peer pressure' had not been a phrase in his vocabulary in those days. Now, blushing harder, it occurred to him that while he'd been contemplating how nice it was to have his roommate in his bed wearing nothing but a smile and a bedsheet, he had never stopped to wonder if Blair really wanted to be there.

I just assumed that anything I really wanted, he'd do. The thought wasn't a comfortable one.

"Hey, big guy," Blair voice jolted him back to reality. "Green light." Jim nodded and continued toward the station.

'So you're bi?' echoed Blair's voice in his head. 'When I have sex with someone, even once, it means something to me.' Shit. Shit shit shit. Jim felt suddenly, incredibly stupid. Your partner is not your personal call boy, he told himself angrily. He's your partner, and he has an equal say in this relationship. And he's a hell of a lot more refined than you are, Ellison, and maybe he doesn't think that getting drunk and getting his rocks off with a buddy is the best party in town.

But Blair always seemed so willing to jump into bed with anyone, whispered the devil on his other shoulder. This one sounded disconcertingly like his father. After all, he liked it when you fucked him, didn't he? Moaned and begged for it, remember that?

Shut up, Jim told that voice. "Blair," he said, and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I just didn't understand what you were saying this morning. When you said sex means something to you -- well, it's not the sex that means something to me, it's you. Sex doesn't change what you mean to me, for me. Yes, I was assuming that sex didn't change anything for you either, and I'm sorry. I shouldn't have assumed that." He was almost to the station, but he pulled up into a gas station and stopped in a corner of the lot, brave enough to look at Blair now that his little speech was said.

Blair was still looking out the window, but his heart was pounding faster. "What do I mean to you, Jim?" he asked in a soft voice.

"Everything," Jim said, having run out of fancy words.

"That's quite a lot, big guy," said Blair, turning to face him. Jim could see tears trembling in the edges of his eyes, and hear them in the trembling voice. Guilt hit him hard.

"I meant what I said last night over dinner, Sandburg," he said roughly. "These have been the best three years of my life, because of you. I wanted to celebrate that then and I want to celebrate it next year, and the year after, and for as long as you'll put up with me and my stupid habit of taking you for granted, okay?"

Blair swallowed. "Okay, Jim," he said. "Let's... let's talk about the rest of it tonight, when we've got time, all right? We're going to be late."

Jim nodded. He pulled the truck back onto the road and drove the rest of the way to the station in silence.

* * *

Jim dropped his keys into the basket by the door and watched as Blair crossed the living room and threw himself down on the couch facing away from the door.

"Jim?" Blair tipped his head all the way back until upside-down he met Jim's eyes. "Come sit down."

Jim seated himself with trepidation on the other end of Blair's couch and clasped his hands between his knees. Clearing his throat, he said, "So. We talk now?"

"Yeah, man." Blair didn't say anything for a minute. Jim stared at his hands. "Look, I was thinking, today, about what you said this morning. About how last night didn't mean anything to you."

"I didn't say it didn't mean anything," Jim said, not looking up. "It didn't mean anything different."

"It sure felt different to me." Blair's pulse thrummed faster in Jim's ears. "Jim. Do you love me?"

What? "Of course I love you, Chief," Jim said.

"No, man, I mean really love me." Jim could feel Blair shifting nervously where he sat on the couch.

"I guess I don't understand what you're asking," Jim said, looking up.

Blair was staring at him. "Have you ever been in love with a guy, Jim?" The question seemed to be terribly important to him.

"I love you. You're a man," Jim smiled, "or at least you were last night -- I got a pretty good look."

Blair blushed again. He also shifted in his corner of the couch again, and his scent changed, just slightly, reflecting a tinge of arousal. Jim didn't think he would have caught it if he hadn't been concentrating so carefully on his guide. "In love, man, in love."

"What difference are you trying to pinpoint here, Sandburg?" Jim asked.

"Ji-im," Blair said, rolling his eyes and waving his hands, "you love your friends, you're in love with your... lovers, I suppose, or spouse, or-- dammit, you know what I mean!"

"So you're saying the difference is sex? That because we pounded the mattress together last night, everything between us has changed?"

"Well, it would make us common-law spouses in some places, you know--"

Jim interrupted him with a laugh. "Once in three years -- we're doing better than plenty of married couples I know."

"Doesn't this make any difference to you at all!" yelled Blair.

"No!" Jim yelled back. Then, drawing a deep breath, "Except that it obviously does to you, and that means it's making a difference to us."

"So there is an 'us' after all!" said Blair.

"Of course there's an us," Jim replied, now completely bewildered. "Us. Partners. Friends. Right?"

"What about 'us, lovers'?" Blair asked.

"Lovers?" Jim repeated.

"Romance, Jim. How come you never once in the last three years even said, 'Oh by the way, Blair, I love you'? Didn't you even think to mention it?" Blair's gaze was challenging.

"I thought was telling you," Jim said sadly. "I thought you knew." He looked back down at his hands. "You know I'm not much of a talker, Blair."

He heard Blair sigh and slide down the couch until they were sitting side by side. One warm, blunt-fingered hand reached out to cover his cold clasped fingers. "Jim," Blair said, "if you loved me, why didn't you ever do anything?"

"Do what?" Jim asked.

At this range he could feel the heat from Blair's blush against his cheek and neck. "Well, like-- like kiss me the way you did last night."

Jim shrugged. "I just never, I don't know, thought of it."

"So it took being drunk to make you want me?" Blair's voice was steady but his pulse and temperature rose sharply.

"No. It was just, you know, the right moment."

"And do you think it'll ever be the right moment again?" That question definitely made Blair nervous.

Yes, Jim thought, picturing again Blair laid out across his bed, but he said, "Do you want it to be?"

Six heartbeats later, Blair said, "Yeah. Yeah, man, I do." Before Jim could reply, he added sharply, "I guess that makes me bi."

That was a question Jim had been pondering, slowly and carefully so as to avoid any trickier issues, while he and Blair had run through their day filling out paperwork at the station and tracking witnesses to interview. "I guess that makes us both bi, then." A tendril of curly brown hair brushed his cheek as Blair brought his head up sharply, but Jim kept his eyes on his lap. "I was thinking about that today. You were right: I can't not acknowledge the men I... slept with." The euphemism sounded odd, given the memories in question, but cruder terms wouldn't have fit the mood either. "It wouldn't be fair," he continued, and stared at his hands in Blair's grip. "Some of them are dead now. I shouldn't laugh off what they gave me." He fell silent, remembering buddies whom he hadn't seen in years, or had last seen lowered into the ground under a flag at half-mast, or had only heard of as 'missing in a routine accident.' Thomas, with his spiky blond crewcut and wicked talent for imitating their commanding officers. Nico, who sucked cock better than any whore Jim ever met on a Vice patrol. Pat and his earrings, back when guys just didn't do that. A sergeant whose name Jim had never even known, who'd taken a young lieutenant out behind the barracks and shown him exactly how to fuck another man. And others, men who didn't deserve to be brushed aside by one self-righteous ex-army cop.

And Blair Sandburg.

"Is romance what you want, Chief?" Jim asked, looking up into Blair's waiting eyes. "I was happy with what we had, here, together, but I shouldn't have assumed that it was what you wanted." He bit his lip and looked away again. "I thought you were happy too."

"I was. I am, Jim. But I've just seen a chance here to get even happier, and I want that chance now." He paused. "Look, tell me if I'm being too forward here, but I'd kinda like to sleep with you, in your bed, I mean."

"Anytime," Jim said.

"Permanently?" Blair asked.

Permanently? Jim studied the face so close to his own, letting his eyes caress the line of the jaw and remembering the sandpaper roughness that had rasped under his fingers yesterday evening. Did he want to wake up to this face every morning, forever? He remembered asking that question of himself before, about Carolyn, and thinking that the answer was yes. Remembered discovering that the answer was no. Then again, he thought, I already wake up to Blair every morning as it is. The real question ought to be, do I want to wake up with this man in my bed or in some other bed? Do I want my best friend to wake up to me?

Jim nodded and swallowed. "Sure," he said. "Sounds good to me." In for a penny, in for a pound, he thought.

"Are you sure, man?" Blair asked.

"I wouldn't have said it if I weren't, Sandburg," Jim mock-growled.

"Ah, there's the James Ellison I know and love," Blair laughed. In a more serious tone, he said, "I do love you, you know."

"Yes," Jim said, "I know." He freed one hand and brought it up to trace the curve of Blair's cheek. "You're right, though: it is nice to hear it said." He smiled shyly. "I love you." A brilliant smile creased Blair's face. "May I kiss you?" he asked.

Blair chuckled. "You didn't ask first last night."

"Last night I was drunk off my ass," Jim pointed out.

"No, man," Blair said, laughing again, "you were drunk off my ass."

Jim laughed in sudden surprise. "But I enjoyed it even more when I was drunk on your ass," he said, continuing the game. "And what an ass it was," Jim added, his voice dropping of its own volition by nearly an octave. He watched as Blair's pupils dilated in response, inhaling the heady scent of Blair's body announcing its approval of Jim's seduction and trailing his fingers gently across a jawline flushed hot with sudden passion. He brought his other hand up to cup the other side of Blair's face, leaned in to brush his lips oh so lightly across Blair's mouth, and husked, "May I kiss you, Blair?"

"Yes," whispered Blair, and licked his lips before parting them.

His guide's kiss was everything he remembered. Jim seldom dared to open himself so freely to his senses, but everything from the scent of Blair's sweat to the cradling rhythm of his heartbeat let Jim know he was safe. Safe, breathless, and as intoxicated on sensation as he had been on alcohol the night before, he found. Soft lips pressed into his and hot silk dueled with his tongue. Jim slid his fingers into those riotous curls, held the back of Blair's head in the cradle of his hands, and leaned into the kiss, bending the other man backwards and feeling hands slide up his arms and around his shoulders to hang on. Goosebumps trailed the path of Blair's fingers over him, even through his shirt, and he moaned into the younger man's mouth before sucking their tongues into his own mouth to be caressed. With a sigh, Jim lifted his mouth free and opened his eyes to look at his partner, lying panting in his arms.

"Blair," Jim whispered, meaning, as he always had, I love you.


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