by cmshaw
20 July 1998

Disclaimers: It's all Pet Fly's, even the boxers. (There's a line stolen from the X-Files, but I lay claim to it as part of my pop cultural heritage.)

Summary: Jim and Blair play doctor. Not quite a PWP, but calling it h/c would be seriously overstating the case.

Dedication: To the evil genius who mentioned in a story which I can't find anymore that Jim could come in his pants just from wearing silk boxers.

Warning: Jim. Silk boxers. Sensory spikes. Helpful Guide. Any questions?

Detective Ellison glared at the phone on his desk. This was humiliating. This was unacceptably humiliating, and there didn't seem to be a damn thing he could do about it. Feeling like he was chewing broken glass, he forced his hand to pick up the phone and hit the right speed-dial button.

"Blair Sandburg."

Jim winced and pulled the phone away from his ear. "Sandburg. It's me."

"Jim? Everything okay, man?"

"No, it's not."

"What? What's wrong? Do you need me for a crime scene--"

"No, no, it's..." /I can't say this./ "It's a...problem. Something's come up," /Wonderful choice of words there, Ellison,/ "and I could, um, use your help." He shifted in his chair, freezing hastily as put-upon nerve endings flared at the movement.

"I'm on my way, Jim. I'll be there in fifteen minutes, tops. Cool?"

"Yeah," Jim gasped, and hung up, thinking that *cool* was not the word he would have chosen himself. Cautiously, he bit down on his lower lip, trying to distract himself with the pain.

Eleven minutes later, his Guide skidded into the bullpen and careened to a halt beside Jim's desk. The detective closed his eyes and offered up a silent prayer of thanks that most people had already left for lunch.


Jim didn't open his eyes. "Make it *stop*, Chief," he begged.

He heard the clatter as Blair dragged a chair around and seated himself close enough to Jim that the Sentinel could feel the air currents warming. Blair's voice, when he spoke, was low and calm.

"Tell me what needs to stop, Jim. Which sense is it?"

"Touch," Jim said. "It's clothes." Suddenly he felt an absurd need to explain this crazy situation. "I didn't do the laundry Tuesday because we were on stakeout for the Ricard case, and I had to dig to wear some...I mean, I don't normally..."

"Jim, it's okay. Lean back and take a deep breath." Jim tried. "A *deep* breath, Jim. Open your chest, hold it, now relax. All right. Something you're wearing is bothering you. Something you washed in the wrong laundry detergent when we were testing those?"

Jim twitched his head in a minimal 'no'. "The fabric," he said. He opened his eyes and looked at Blair, who was studying his teeshirt and slacks with a puzzled frown. "Not something you can see," he explained.

Blair nodded. "Socks or underwear?" he asked. Jim blushed; he didn't know if it was visible or not, but it was painful on his cheeks. Blair sighed. "Jim, think of this like talking to your doctor, okay?" He leaned forward and placed one hand soothingly on Jim's forearm where it rested on the desk.

Jim sucked in a shocked breath and barely caught it on the exhale before it turned into a whimper. The anthropologist's hand was warm and callused; he could feel the pulse beating even through the fingertips, and read from the tension in the muscles how gentle Blair was being, how much strength in those hands was being restrained.

Blair carefully removed his hand. "Sorry, man," he said. "I didn't think. I didn't mean to hurt you." Goosebumps prickled up and down Jim's arm from the chill where he'd lost Blair's body heat. His Guide cleared his throat and continued neutrally, "So, underwear, huh? Ouch, man."

"No," Jim whispered.


"No, it's...hell, it''s not pain, okay?" He waited. Finally, he snapped, "I dug an old pair of silk boxers out of the back of my dresser this morning, you copy, Sandburg?"

"And...and this is a problem because--?"

God help him, if Blair started laughing he'd kill the man himself and to hell with the consequences. He wouldn't even need to hide the body; it would be justifiable homicide. Although then he'd have to explain to Simon why he'd done it -- oh, he could just imagine that scene: 'Well, sir, I was wearing this sexy underwear and...'

He settled for glaring. "Because I can't get up from this desk without embarrassing myself in front of the entire department and I *can't turn it off*!" His stomach growled in punctuation. His lunch break was nearly over and he hadn't been able to so much as walk to the break room for a coffee since about ten a.m.

Blair's gaze dropped to Jim's crotch, and the detective barely managed to stop himself from turning defensively away. /Remember you can't move, idiot./

"Couldn't you just," Blair made a vague yet suggestive gesture with his hands, "go to the men's room and take care of it, then go home and change?"

"No," said Jim, *knowing* his face was bright red. "It'd be too late by the time I got halfway to the corridor." Blair whistled. Jim closed his eyes and ignored that. "Besides," he added, "it *hurts*."

"All right, man," Blair said calmly. His voice had found that gentle tone that always caught and held the Sentinel. "Listen to me. I want you to breathe slowly, evenly, good. Picture your dials. Find the 'Touch' dial, Jim. Can you find it?"

"Can't," said Jim. "I keep getting distracted."

"Focus on me--"

"I can *feel* the air in my ears pressing again my eardrums."

"That's incredible, Jim, but that's not what you need to concentrate on right now."

"Dammit, Chief--"

"Jim--" Blair leaned forward and, probably out of reflex, put his hand back on Jim's arm. This time Jim knew he made a strangled sort of noise, mouth falling open and body jerking as he tried desperately to avoid orgasming. His partner's touch felt more like warm honey poured down his whole body than like a palm pressed against his bicep, and all in all felt too damn much like a caress for what peace of mind he had left.

Blair pulled back with an apology that Jim lost in the shudder that wracked him. Slowly the detective fell forward until his head rested on his arms outstretched along the desk. His back bowed, he held this new position and tried to breathe.

"Jim," Blair sighed. "Oh, fuck. Look, the place is almost empty. You're not a screamer, are you?"

"What?" croaked Jim incredulously.

"I've gotta get you out of here, man, before people come pouring back in and your senses go off the scale from the stimuli. That means you do what you need to do to be able to walk, then we book it down to your truck before anyone notices the wet spot."

"Shit." If it wouldn't have hurt so much Jim would have pounded his fist into the desktop.

"Stay here," Blair said, as if Jim were going to jump up and follow him. He rose to his feet (clatter of the chair legs against the floor) and crossed the room, opening Captain Bank's door without knocking.

"What?" he heard the captain snap.

"Simon, Jim's not feeling well. I'm taking him home," Blair announced.

Simon huffed angrily. "Sandburg, we've got serious work to do here--"

"And Jim can't do it right now," Blair shot back, unintimidated. "He's having trouble, *Sentinel* trouble, and I'm taking him home now." He stepped back (sound of the door clicking shut) and crossed the bullpen to return to Jim's side.

Jim heard Simon getting up from his desk just as Blair reached out and stroked his fingers lightly down the line of Jim's spine through his teeshirt. "Are you re--" he heard, and then the Sentinel could do nothing but clench his fists and lock his jaw as that sizzling touch arced gracefully through his body (/Incoming!/ he wanted to yell) and exploded in the pit of his belly. He jerked and grunted as the concussion waves pounded through him, feeling more relief than pleasure as he caught his breath again after the worst of it. Blair's hand under his elbow was urging him to stand.

"Ellison." He looked up and tried to focus his eyes as Simon's face swam in front of him. "You look like shit. Go home." With that, Simon turned and retreated back into his office.

"Yes *sir*," Jim whispered to the empty bullpen, lurching to his feet. He grabbed Blair's shoulder as he nearly toppled over; his sense of balance was crooked, and he felt like the floor was rolling under his feet like a ship's deck. He hated deep sea crossings. Blair slung the arm he'd used to haul Jim upright around his shoulders and grabbed hold of Jim's waist. Half-carrying, half-leading, he got the two of them into an elevator.

Jim sagged against the wall. The short walk had been agony; his accursed silk boxers had twisted tight across his crotch and pulled at the painfully sensitized skin with each step. And yet, somehow, he was still partially aroused. /This,/ he decided for the thousandth time that day, /is not in the least bit funny./

* * *

...Blair weaves the truck deftly through downtown lunch-hour traffic, focusing sternly on his role as Guide to the Sentinel and not on the erotic possibilities of silk. Or velvet. Or perhaps satin. Meanwhile, Jim just stares out the window and tries to remember to breathe, tries to forget how good it felt to be stroked and caressed...

* * *

Blair helped his Sentinel through the front door of their loft and turned to shoot the lock behind him. When he turned around, Jim was standing in the living room, shivering, with his hands clenched on the back of the couch and a miserable expression on his face.

Blair shook his head. "Jim, get those clothes off before they kill you. I'll go start you a bath, okay?" Waiting just long enough for a 'no' to fail to materialize, he darted into the bathroom and began filling the tub. He checked for clean towels, flicked the fan on, and went back for Jim, who was still standing on the center of the living room. He'd apparently started to pull his teeshirt up and stopped, because it was rucked awkwardly up around his stomach.

"Jim? Do you need help?" Jim shook his head forcefully. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Jim croaked. "I'll...just..." He made a movement toward the bathroom and had to flail for the couch to stay upright.

Blair was at his side before he'd even consciously registered that Jim was in trouble. "Come on, man," he said, wrapping his arm around Jim's waist again, looking up as the other man tried to pull away. "What? Oh," he said, as he realized what the problem might be. "Jim, man, we've been living in the same apartment for four months now. I've seen you naked before, buddy. Treat it like a doctor's visit, remember?"

"Yeah, but I'm--" Jim stopped speaking, but his tiny hand gesture towards his crotch was clear: but you haven't seen me like *this*.

"I don't think you've got anything I haven't seen before, Jim," Blair said drily. Pushing aside Jim's hands, he yanked the teeshirt over his friend's head in one quick move. Leaving Jim to shake it off of his arms on his own, he dropped one knee to the floor and unfastened the fly of Jim's trousers, letting them fall around Jim's ankles, and (/Don't think about it, don't think about it/) peeled the troublesome boxers away from Jim's ass, then carefully over the erection that was so clearly outlined by the sticky fabric. He couldn't tell if Jim's penis was red simply from arousal or because of the chafing, and he decided it would probably not be a good idea to run his fingers along the skin of it to find out.

"Lift your foot," he instructed, tapping Jim's left ankle. Jim raised his leg, flexing his foot to help Blair get his sneaker off. Blair pulled trousers, boxers, and sock away from that leg, then repeated the action on the right. Placing one hand lightly on Jim's hip for balance, he looked up the length of the detective's body as he rocked back to his feet.

/Impressive. Very impressive. But like I told him, nothing I haven't seen before -- although usually when I see it from this angle, I have different plans in mind for it.../ Resisting the mischievous urge to lick the tip of Jim's cock as he rose, he clasped Jim's hand instead, supporting the blushing Sentinel into the bathroom.

The bathtub was almost full, and Blair leaned over to trail his hand in the water, making sure it was lukewarm. Satisfied, he waited a minute, then turned off the water. "Okay, man, hop in," he said.

Behind him, Jim sighed, but did as Blair requested. Blair kept his eyes politely averted as Jim slid into the water, but he lowered the seat of the toilet and perched himself over the tub once Jim was submerged.

"Here's what I think is happening, Jim," he began, and Jim looked up at him. "When you started to get uncomfortable -- well, you know what I mean -- this morning, with the silk, you tried to push it away, didn't you?" Jim nodded. "Man," Blair sighed, "haven't you been *listening* to me? That's not how it works. You can't just ignore this." He raised his hand as Jim looked like he was going to argue. "*Jim*. In order to filter out a sensation, you have to recognize it. You have to 'tag' it, and that means you have to open up and experience it, at least briefly. You didn't do that here, did you? No, I know you didn't. So you couldn't filter it, and it got worse. The more you push, Jim, the worse a chain reaction you set off. Like this: look, here you are in pain, all because you were wearing silk next to your skin this morning."

"But what do I *do* about it, Sandburg?" Jim growled.

"Close your eyes and lean back, Jim." The Sentinel slid lower in the water. "Feel the water against your skin. Feel the warmth of it, the pressure of it, the way the water currents flow around your body. Your body is surrounded by water, Jim. Let it touch your skin." Blair could feel the strain in his throat as he dropped his voice into the register which made Jim respond. "Now let it go. Let the water become part of the background, Jim. You don't need to notice it. Like turning your keys in the lock on the door. Like holstering your gun. The water isn't important to you now, Jim. Let it go. Let it go.... Now open your eyes and look at me."

Jim looked at him. "Thank you," he breathed.


"Much better."

"Are your other senses bothering you?"

"Smell, a little."

"Is there a particular smell that's bothering you?"

"'s all of them together. They keep pulling my attention away."

"Focus on one."


Blair chewed at his lower lip as he considered that. "Okay, man, here's what you're going to do. Close your eyes again and relax." Jim's breathing evened out reflexively, and Blair felt a burst of pride at his 'student'. "Good. Now picture this, see it: you're lying next to a pool of water, clear water, okay? Trail your hands in the water. Can you feel the goldfish bumping into your fingers? Those are the smells that are bothering you. Just relax your hands and let one swim into your palm. Hold it, gently now, just look at it. Look at the light reflecting off its scales." He thought Jim's eyes were moving behind their closed lids. Of course, if this weren't working Jim would probably have already interrupted with a rude comment. "Now let it go and watch it swim away. It's not staying in the pond. You can open your hands and catch another one now." Jim's hands twitched. "Good, that's it. One by one."

He continued talking softly, describing the pool to his partner, as he leaned forward and snagged his bath sponge from where it hung over the bath faucets. Lathering it up, he began gently washing Jim's shoulders and chest. He moved gradually lower, eventually trailing the sponge lightly over Jim's thighs before sliding his hand between them and brushing at the testicles and penis. At this gentle pressure it took a long time to be certain that all the dried semen had been cleaned away, and the tickling brush of the sponge was obviously contributing to Jim's arousal. It was having no little effect on Blair's own libido, in fact, which was perhaps why the Guide didn't notice that Jim had opened his eyes until he squeezed out the sponge and hooked it back in place. Jim touched his arm briefly.

"Thank you again," he said with a soft smile. "The fish are all gone."

"How are you feeling now, then?" Blair asked.

"Tired," Jim said, "and like I ought to do something about this, sore as it is." He gestured at his groin.

"Want me to kiss it and make it better?" /Oops, did I say that?/

Jim caught and held his gaze. "You're the expert," he said with a lazy grin. "I'll follow your treatment plan."

Blair grinned back. "Then I prescribe bed rest for the patient, definitely."

"Rest?" Jim raised his eyebrows.

"I know how you are about doctor's orders, Jim," Blair said sternly. "I'll have to make *sure* you're exhausted."

Oh, that was a lovely smile that Jim was turning on him. "Hand me that towel, would you, doc?" he said, levering himself up from the water after flicking the drain open with his toes. Once upright, he shooed Blair out of the bathroom while he dried himself off.

Blair started to bound up the stairs to Jim's bedroom and stopped, swinging himself around by his grip on the bannister and ducking through the kitchen into his own room. He dropped to his knees and pulled a box out from under the bed. Hesitating, he grabbed two condoms and checked the expiry date. /Better safe than sorry,/ he decided, /or frustrated./ He scooped up a handful of AquaLube sample packets and closed the box again. Hearing Jim leave the bathroom and walk upstairs, Blair quickly peeled out of his clothes, grabbed the necessaries, and paused briefly to check himself in the mirror. /What are you worried about, the outfit?/ he chided himself. /It's fashionable. Stop stalling./ He ran his fingers lightly down through his chest hair and up the base of his cock, then pushed aside the curtain in the doorway and went upstairs.

Jim was waiting for him, naked, sitting up against the railing at the head of the bed with one leg bent to frame his erection perfectly. He topped this vision off with a shy smile.

/Ohhhh yeeeeah,/ was the only thought going through Blair Sandburg's mind as he paused on the second-to-last step to take this in. That, and: /Jackpot!/

Then Blair was moving forward, confident, goals-oriented, and completely focused on creating some *serious* sexual pleasure. He tossed his latex accessories onto one corner of the bed and crawled over the sheets toward Jim, who looked mesmerized by his approach. Blair didn't stop until he had climbed into Jim's lap, and then he drew himself up, took Jim's shoulders in both hands, and kissed the man like there was no tomorrow. Jim's mouth was soft and pliant under his, and Jim's hands were hard and strong as they slid around his waist, and it was wonderful. He especially liked the way Jim arched his back and rubbed his chest against Blair's stomach and cock.

At last he pulled back from the kiss. Kneading Jim's shoulders gently, he said in a low, husky voice, "I'm not going to tease you, baby. That's not what you need right now."

Jim swallowed and nodded, head still tipped back and lips slightly parted. Blair moved back and Jim slid himself down until he was on his back. Then he rolled away from Blair, onto his side, and pulled his upper leg into his chest. He rolled his head back to look at Blair, mutely begging.

"Really?" Blair whispered. /He's such a control freak, I'd have thought for sure he'd want to top./ "Oh yeah, man." He caressed Jim's upthrust hip with one hand as he lowered himself down until he was lying behind his friend.

He reached back for a condom and pulled open the wrapper, rolling it on and stroking himself teasingly as Jim said hoarsely, "Yeah, really. I can't take much more stimulation from the front right now." /Oh, that's right,/ Blair reminded himself. /Guess it was chafed after all./ He ripped open the first AquaLube packet and squeezed the slippery stuff into his hand.

He saw goosebumps trail up Jim's side as he began massaging the soft skin behind his balls. /Smooth as a baby's bottom,/ he thought with a smile, comparing it to his own furred body, and pushed the tip of his index finger into Jim's body. It was a tight fit, and he leaned forward and licked from the base of Jim's throat up to his ear, sucking gently on the earlobe as he twisted his finger. Jim took a deep breath and relaxed, easily opening himself to the full length of Blair's index finger. Blair worked his hand in and out, closing his eyes to better appreciate the satiny caressing of his finger by Jim's body, and reluctantly pulled out to open another packet of lube. Jim opened to two fingers surprisingly easily.

/Mulder, you just keep unfolding like a flower,/ he thought with wonder, not realizing he'd spoken aloud until Jim laughed.

"You tryin' to tell me that's not your real hair color, Chief?" he gasped. Blair chuckled and ran his tongue around the whorls of Jim's ear. "Ohh," Jim groaned, "thought you weren't gonna tease."

Blair kissed the underside of Jim's jaw and slid a third finger into his anus. "No," he whispered, "just promise." He pushed himself forward on the bed until he was spooned up behind Jim, then slid his hand out of Jim's warmth with a sigh and ran it quickly over his own cock to double-check the condom. Bracing Jim's hip with a splay-fingered grip, he pressed his face against Jim's sweaty shoulder, pushed the head of his cock into Jim, and began rocking his hips forward. Jim panted and arched his back, groaning as Blair's stomach brushed against his back. Blair held full penetration for a moment, rubbing himself wantonly against the man in his arms, then he shifted his grip on Jim's hip and started a longer stroke. Long and slow and hard, that's how he liked it. From the way Jim knotted his hands in the sheets and the way the muscles in his arms rippled as he pushed himself back to meet Blair's thrusts, it seemed that his partner liked it that way too.

He slid his hand up Jim's side in a gentle caress and caught his breath in surprise as Jim twisted into the gesture, the Sentinel's muscles clenching convulsively around Blair's cock and under his palm. "You like this, baby?" he breathed into Jim's ear, and felt another shudder rock the body he held. He suckled at the earlobe again, moaning at the pleasure of feeling Jim react like this.

"Ah...Chief...yeah," Jim managed to say. He pushed himself back more strongly against his Guide. "Touch me," he gasped. "No," as Blair slid his hand down Jim's stomach toward his cock, "not there. Touch me... yeah...oh, that's...mmm, ah, ah!" Fascinated, Blair swept his hand over Jim's chest, fingers spread to touch as much skin as possible as the other man traded words for guttural moans. Jim was shaking all over now, still trying to match Blair's thrusts as his own hips jerked and trembled. Sweat was pouring down his ribs and turning his skin under Blair's caresses sleek and slippery. /An aroused Sentinel is quite an armful. The way he's moving -- oh yeah, like *that* -- yeah, he must've turned his sense of touch back up. Oh man, he likes *that*. Whatever I do, I gotta remember: *no biting*./ He stroked from Jim's throat to his stomach, pressing his hand flat over the navel and hitching forward to kiss and lick the line of Jim's jaw. Blair threw his leg over Jim's hip and held on as Jim turned his face into the mattress to mute his howl, body bucking in Blair's clasp as he climaxed.

"Oh yeah," Blair breathed as he hung on for the ride. Jim was *strong*; he was seeing stars sparkling at the edges of his vision as Jim's muscles wrapped tightly around his cock in orgasm. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," he moaned, pushing Jim almost over onto his stomach as he resumed his thrusting. Oh yeah, he could feel it building, electricity crackling through his body and roaring up his spine every time that velvet glove fisted around him. His breath hissed between clenched teeth as he pushed his hips forward, world narrowing down to the feel of that ring of muscle sliding down his cock as his own climax curled through his body.

With a heaving gasp, Blair started breathing again, raising himself up on his elbows and peeling his chest from Jim's sweaty back. Jim slowly released his grip on the sheets and pulled his arms underneath himself. He turned his head and looked over his shoulder at Blair, an adorably sweet grin tugging at his lips. Blair leaned forward again and dropped a quick kiss on the corner of that mouth, lifting one hand to brush gently at Jim's cheek before pushing himself to the side and out of Jim. He rubbed his hand soothingly across Jim's ass, peeled the condom off, and dropped the used latex in the small wastebasket underneath Jim's nightstand. Jim rolled to the other side of the bed and turned to face him, one hand draped bonelessly across the pillows with the fingers curled half-open. Really, he was just *too* cute lying there with that sated smile on his face, Blair decided.

He reached out to run his fingers down Jim's chest, but the Sentinel pulled away. "Not a cuddler, man?" Blair asked, a bit disappointed.

"No," said Jim, "no, I just need to turn myself back down first."

"I knew it," said Blair, propping himself up on his elbows again and running his eyes critically down the length of Jim's body. "You turned your sense of touch back up, didn't you?"

Jim closed his eyes and nodded. For some reason, licking his lips over and over seemed to help him concentrate, and when he opened his eyes to look back at his Guide and say sternly, "No tests on this, Sandburg," *that* little meditative aid had almost caused Blair to forget what it was that he could be testing.

He blinked and smiled, then said, "But wouldn't it be more fun than--"

"Not if you stopped in the middle to take notes," Jim interrupted.

"I could videotape it." Jim opened his eyes wide; Blair met the look with a lazy grin.

"No," Jim said, and something in the tone of his voice made Blair lean forward and press a kiss gently onto Jim's outflung fingertips.

"Not if you don't like it, man," he agreed softly. He moved his mouth down and licked small circles on Jim's wrist, suckling his way toward the tender skin inside the elbow. Goosebumps shivered along Jim's arm, and when he raised his head again Blair saw that Jim had fallen back against the pillow, eyes drooping shut again. He looked like he might purr at any moment. Regretfully, Blair pushed himself up and got to his feet. Jim turned to look up at him, raising his eyebrows inquiringly. "I need to go get cleaned up. How about I bring you brunch in bed?"

Jim sighed. "All right. I should change the sheets anyway."

"I can bring you up a towel for the wet spot," Blair offered.

"No," Jim said, shaking his head. "If it gets into the mattress I'll never get that goldfish out of here." He paused. "I mean, that *smell*. Dammit, Sandburg," he groaned, "if you embarrass me with that metaphor in front of the department no one will *ever* find your body."

Blair clapped a hand over his mouth to keep from laughing. "I'll, um, go get some food now," he not-quite-snickered, gesturing toward the stairs. He stopped partway down, though, turning and watching as Jim rose from the bed and walked nude across the room to retrieve sheets from his closet. /Wow,/ said a small, irreverent voice in the back of his head. /Look what *I* just fucked./ He shushed that voice firmly, reminding himself that Jim was his *friend*, his *best* friend, and worthy of some morning-after (afternoon-after) respect...even if he was *built*. And *hung*. And just plain *yummy*. He lingered on the stairs, admiring the view.

Eventually Jim turned around and noticed him. Rolling his eyes, he dropped his armful of sheets onto the bed and leaned casually against his dresser, staring down at his roommate. He certainly wasn't self-conscious about his body; Blair didn't know if it was due to being back in control of his senses, to no longer being rampantly erect, or to the comfort of that warm afterglow still lingering in his smile. Whatever it was, Blair decided he liked it. "Something else you wanted, Chief?" Jim asked.

Blair squelched several obscene requests and said seriously, "I just wanted to say that, well, you're my friend. I'm not just notching my bedpost here."

That sweet, shy smile was back. "Yeah," Jim said, "friends. 'Special friends,' as we said back in the army." He tilted his head to the side, making his last sentence almost a question.

"'Special friends,'" Blair repeated. "Hey, y'know, I like that. Even if it is, like, *so* fifties, man." He ducked, laughing, as Jim grabbed his pillow and threatened to throw it, and retreated into the bathroom downstairs. Jim's warm laughter followed him down.

* * *

...Blair shifts closer to his partner's warm body in the cool darkness of the loft, rubbing the bristly crewcut gently with one palm. Jim nuzzles his shoulder sleepily, twining himself bonelessly around his Guide's smaller frame and murmuring happily as Blair's other hand continues tracing random patterns across the skin of his back. Blair smiles to himself and kisses the top of his Sentinel's head...

* * *

Simon Banks studied the two men standing before him through narrowed eyes. Ellison had taken up the kidnapping case he'd been working on yesterday morning, grabbed a coffee and his partner, and vanished again to track down several possible witness. Nothing seemed to be bothering him, and he'd given his captain a rundown on his progress looking and sounding like his normal self. If Simon hadn't seen his shell-shocked expression and drained white face the previous day, he wouldn't have believed anything had ever been wrong.

"Ellison," he said as Sandburg hopped down from his perch on the table, obviously heading for the door and his lunch break. Both partners turned and looked back at him. "You all right today?"

"Yeah, captain, I'm fine now," Ellison said, poker-faced. Obviously he wasn't going to talk about it. He took a sip from the mug of coffee in his hands, glanced at Sandburg, and added, "It won't be a problem again."

"Damn right it won't," the kid muttered.

Simon eyed him sourly, wondering if he'd ever get used to the authority this scruffy student exercised over the detective whose respect Simon had had to spend years and blood earning. "Do I want to know what happened?" he asked.

"No, sir, I don't think you do," Ellison told him.

Simon sighed and rubbed at his eyes. "All right. I'll believe that, Jim. Well, since you were obviously taking a raincheck last night, are we on for dinner tonight?" He gathered from Ellison's surprised look that he'd forgotten all about their admittedly casual plans to hit their favorite sports bar the other night.

"Oh," Sandburg said, looking just as surprised. "I'd made plans--" When Ellison turned to look at him, still with that startled expression, he added, "You said I could run some tests tonight if I bribed you with my four-cheese lasagna."

"Yeah," Jim said with an oddly regretful look as he took another sip of coffee. "Look, Chief, I'm really sorry--"

The kid sighed. "I thought I could play doctor again," he said with what could almost be a pout.

Jim looked at him blankly for a moment, forehead furrowed in a puzzled frown, and then he choked, spat his mouthful of coffee down his shirt front, and sat down hard on the edge of the table. Sandburg cracked up. Simon just lowered his head into his hands and sighed, deeply.

"You--" Jim gasped, coughing. "You are an *evil* man, Sandburg." He stole a handful of napkins from the stack beside Simon's coffeepot and dabbed ineffectually at the stains on his pale blue teeshirt. If Sandburg's grin was any guide, this was a high compliment. If Ellison's grin was any guide, the devil was hosting the Icecapades this weekend; Simon had seen his short-tempered friend throw co-workers into the handiest wall for similar practical jokes, but now the man looked frankly *pleased* to be wiping coffee from his clothes.

Simon closed his eyes and briefly, very briefly, wondered what 'playing doctor' translated to in the Sandburg Zone. "Ellison," he said.

"Simon, I'm sorry--" Ellison began, but the captain cut him off.

"Go home, change your shirt, and eat lunch. I'll take another raincheck for that dinner, but you're buying the first round, you hear me?" He pointed firmly toward the door.

"Thanks, Simon," Jim said, echoed immediately by Sandburg's "Yeah, thanks, man."

"Oh, and Jim?" The detective paused in the doorway, one hand on his partner's back to usher him out of the office. "I *don't* want to know, is that understood? I just don't want to know."

Ellison flashed his crooked smile at his friend. "Understood, Simon," he said, and closed the door behind them.


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