Title: The Ring
Author/pseudonym: Squidgie (Walter H. Hopgood)
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Archive: YES to Merry and Michelle
Archive author: Squidgie
Archive email address: email@example.com
Series/Sequel: Part of the Panda series
Other website: http://www.meer.net/~walterh/walter/
Disclaimers: I don't own Jim or Blair - they're owned by UPN and Pet
Fly. However, I *do* make many trips up to Vancouver, and if the
boys just happen to make their way back home with me in my suitcase,
I promise to send them back relatively unharmed.
Notes: This is dedicated to my Panda. This story is the second in a
series called "The Panda Series." Each story is a standalone, but
contains a panda in some way. The first of this series was titled
"The Bear." Big old bear-hugs to you, ShelBear! You're a great
influence on me, and a wonderful editor! This is my second
Sentinel story. Feedback is wanted desperately (or I'll send you
an email chain letter! Bwahahahahahaha!!!)
Summary: It's just a Jim and Blair story
Warnings: None, unless you don't like romance. There is no sex in
this, but there is a steamy scene.
The blue and white truck pulled off of the road, turning into the
parking lot of a convenience store. "Sure, Chief, whatever. When they
start carrying whole wheat, organic Twinkies at Whole Foods, I'll
buy them there. Until then," Jim pulled his keys from the ignition,
turning to Blair and giving him a flat expression, "after you buy
groceries, I get to stop here and pick up my junk food."
A sigh escaped Blair's lips. "Man, don't you know how *bad* those
things are for you? Think about what that crap is doing to your
Jim's face lit up with an innocent smile. "Yeah, but it keeps me
looking young, Chief." When Blair's face threw an expression that
could only mean, /Yeah, right/, Jim narrowed his eyes at him, sending
imaginary daggers right through Blair.
Oblivious to the invisible blades penetrating his person, Blair continued
on with his tirade as they made their way in and through the store.
"Jim, you heard about the latest findings about what preservatives are
doing to us, haven't you? Did you know that the average corpse is
degrading at a rate that is 53 percent slower than corpses from the 19th
"Blair!" Jim almost yelled, "I don't really need to know this. But
what I *do* need," he said while grabbing a few packs of Hostess'
finest, "is my own little version of heaven. Besides you, that is,"
and shot a smile to his partner that showed he'd won, and Blair's
version of healthy cardboard "treats" were not long in finding their
way to the dumpster.
Blair wished that Jim wouldn't do that. It was hard enough that through
the course of the last couple of years that he'd fallen head over heels
in love with him, with a healthy amount of lust thrown in for good measure.
But when Jim teased him, unknowing of his teasing's effects, it made
Blair's desire ache that much more. It did, however, have the desired
effect that Jim was going for. Blair became flabbergasted at the remark
and had stopped his health food tirade.
The pair made their way up to the checkout counter, which was now
a couple of people deep. The clerk spotted them over the ten year
old, who's icy drink was dripping all over the counter and the change
he spilled out of his pocket to pay for the beverage, and shot
an instant smile towards Jim. /Your day's looking up, Delores/ she
thought, /Your sexy detective is here./ Delores had a thing for
the cop that started the day he walked in wearing his dress blues.
Her suggestive smile beamed at him, her eyes not hiding a bit of
desire. Jim, never the one to take flirting well, blushed a deep
crimson when her made up eyelid winked at him.
"She want's ya, big guy," Blair whispered to him, which made him blush
"Knock it off, Ch-"
"DON'T MOVE!" The voice came from behind them suddenly. Everyone in
line's attention was immediately drawn to the young man, pointing a
gun at the crowd. The man's eyes seemed desperate, almost wild.
"Give me all your money!" All hands in the line instinctively went
up, as Blair and Jim began to scrutinize the robber, searching for
a weakness. /Jesus/ Jim thought to himself. /This kid's strung out
on something./ Seeing this, he knew instinctively to take the situation
easy; don't provoke the kid or he might do something stupid.
Jim began speaking slowly, quietly. "It's OK... Why don't you-"
"SHUT UP! Now give me all the money in the register, and everybody
give me your wallets. You! Behind the counter! Put it in a bag and
pass it this way." The kid was sweating, his eyes darting about and
hands shaking. He couldn't have been more than eighteen, but scared
and desperate. His tenseness was echoed by the people he was now
Again, Jim tried to calm everyone down with a calm, authoritative voice.
"It's OK, everyone. Just do as he says and he'll leave us alone." He
reached into his pocket and retrieved his wallet, handing it to the boy
along with the others that were being offered. Realizing that his
situation was working as he planned, he began to shake off some of
his nervousness and reached out to grab the items offered to him.
Hands shaking just slightly, he took too big a handful, dropping a
couple to the ground.
"SHIT!" He exclaimed, pointing the gun directly at Jim. Jim looked down,
realizing it was his wallet that had fallen, opening up and displaying
his badge prominently. The gun, aimed directly at Jim's head, was
shaking violently. "You a cop?" he asked, the meekness of his conviction
showing in his voice.
Jim didn't even get to utter the words. As he began to form the word "Yes"
on his lips, shaking his head affirmative to the question, the boy panicked
and grabbed the person nearest him, treating him as a shield between him
and the cop. The money forgotten, he tried to back away from the group,
all the while holding his captive close to his body.
/Shit, man, not again./ Blair thought to himself. He kept his arms up as
the robber held him by the neck, backing slowly toward the door of the
convenience store. His eyes locked onto Jim, his arms also still in the
air, and conveyed his panic back to Jim. Blair and the robber were about
five feet away from the group, when the noise of an oblivious teenager
coming through the main door startled them. The thief flung around and
shot the gun toward the sound of the noise, sending him and Blair off
This slight distraction was all Jim needed. He lunged at the thief as
soon as he began to turn in a desperate attempt to control the situation.
He landed on the robber, who's arms flailed, sending the gun one direction
and Blair the other. As Jim and the thief landed on the ground with a
thud, Blair's forehead connected with the corner of a display table with
an eerie crack, his body falling to the floor unconscious. Panic took
over in Jim's thoughts as he flew into Blessed Protector mode for his
guide - *his Blair*. "Blair!?" he called, as the young man beneath him
began to stir and fuss, reality coming back to him. He asserted his
entire weight down on the robber, adjusting only to flip the boy over,
yanking the boy's arms behind his back harshly. "BLAIR?" he yelled
again, inflicting pain on the robber by pulling his arms even higher, as if
punishment for what he'd done. With all the confusion and noise, it
took all his available strength and concentration to force out everything
around him - the groaning robber beneath him, the crying child who had
been at the front of the line, the sound of a police siren that was now
about two blocks away, everything - and focus on the heartbeat of his
guide. There it was. It was still beating at a rapid pace, but it was
Jim breathed somewhat easier, and turned to the woman behind the counter
who was still standing there, frozen. "Did you trip your silent alarm?"
The woman slowly came back to reality, as if in a coma and waking up for
the first time in years. She reached under the counter, pressing the
switch. "I..I...I just did."
/SHIT/ Jim cursed to himself. /That must have been for somewhere else/
he thought, wishing the sound of the police car was for the store. "Get
on the phone and call for an ambulance! Tell them it's an officer down."
Jim knew he stood the chance of getting written up, but Sandburg *was* his
partner, and after two years on the force, most of the cops treated him
as close to a cop as they could. He *was* one of their own, at least in
Jim's eyes. Another struggle of the body below him brought his attention
back to the young robber. "Do you have any rope or anything back there?"
The clerk turned to hang up the phone and shook her head at Jim. As soon
as the phone was in it's cradle, she moved to the sink behind her and turned
the water on, letting it wet a washcloth in the sink. She rang it out
and went to Blair, who was just barely starting to stir. Jim blocked
the smell of blood as best he could, and watched the woman dab at the
crimson stained gash on Blair's forehead, cooing over him slightly.
"Shhh... It's gonna be fine," she spoke quietly to Blair. She wiped
away as much blood as the thin, well-worn cloth could handle, then
patted Blair on the chest before getting up to rinse it out and freshen
it up. Jim couldn't stand not being able to help his guide, but took
a little comfort in the aid the clerk was providing.
Blair began to move gently, a moan escaping his lips. He drew his hands
up toward his head, speaking in a voice barely audible to even a
Sentinel's hearing. "Jim?" His hand touched his bleeding wound,
wincing in pain as he did so. "Oh, man..."
"Don't move, Chief," Jim demanded. "You took a nasty fall." The clerk
knelt again at Blair's side, dabbing his head and held the cloth
in place to slow the bleeding. "Just take it easy," he added as police
and an ambulance pulled up outside.
Raising his arms to his sides and pushing himself up, Blair tried to
force his back from the floor. "I'm fine, Jim," he added woozily.
"I don't need to-"
"Forget it, Chief. You're going to get checked out by the docs, so lay
down or as soon as I get off this guy, I'll come sit on you and hold *you*
down." Jim shot a smile to his partner.
"Promises, promises," Blair added, weakly, and collapsed back on the
There was a flurry of activity as Jim handed off the thief to the
officers, all the while keeping at least his hearing on Blair and
the EMTs who were caring for him. He noted all the readings that
they had been doing, showing Blair's vitals had all been within
normal parameters. Jim told the arresting officer that he'd be in
to fill out the paperwork Monday; this was his day off, and with
that, turned his full attention to Blair.
"Jim, *please* tell them that I'm fine. I'm just a little weak. I
can rest at home."
Jim snorted a cautious laugh. "No can do, Chief. Boys?" he looked
at the EMTs, "You may have to strap him in," which brought a
laugh from the technicians. "Chief? You do as they say. I'm going
to get the groceries home, then come to the hospital and check on
you, OK?" As much as Jim wanted to ride with Blair and the EMTs,
his Blessed Protector mode doing overtime, he also didn't want to
freak Blair out. He looked fine, and was fine from what they'd
"I *told* you I'm just a little weak. I'll be...." Blair's face went
blank, and his head hit the small pillow with a light thud. His eyes
rolled back into his head, and his body began to tremble, each limb
"CHIEF?!!?" Jim yelled, bringing the technician's full attention back
"Shit! Grand Malle." The first EMT called as he grabbed Blair's head
and held it back. "Robert, get me a mouth plate!" The second EMT flew
back out to the ambulance as panic covered Jim's face.
"What can I do?" Jim asked the EMT, his panic showing in his voice
as it did on his face.
"Hold his legs." Robert, the second EMT, ran back in the store, handing
the instrument to the first EMT. Jim watched as it was inserted into
Blair's mouth as Blair's body continued to convulse. "Does he have a
history of seizures?"
Jim shook his head. "No. This is the first." Jim watched as Robert
hooked each set of straps from the side of the stretcher around Blair's
body, wrapping him into a medical cocoon. "Did his fall cause this?"
"I can't tell. Let's roll." The pair moved Jim out of the way and
brought the stretcher to it's standing position, and quickly made
through the door and to the ambulance.
In an instant Jim was running after the pair, climbing into the cab of
the ambulance. Robert turned to him, not knowing the full extent of
the pair. "Are you his next of kin?"
A shot of pain ran through Jim's body at the words, and he winced
slightly. "I'm his partner," he offered firmly. His eyes told the
driver not to question him, just let him ride.
"Fine," Robert added while reaching for the microphone. "Just sit back
and stay out of the way." He brought the microphone to his face and
announced their status. "Cascade General, this is Alpha-40..."
The ride to the hospital had been the longest five minutes of Jim's life.
Blair's convulsion had stopped a few blocks from the hospital, but he
was still out. Jim's senses were running at full capacity, his
hearing and sight trained on his guide who was strapped down in the
back of the ambulance.
Jim was climbing out of the vehicle before it had come to a complete stop
at the doors to the emergency room. He ran to the back of the ambulance
and barely missed a door as it swung open. The driver, Robert, made
his way to the open doors and the paramedics worked in tandem, taking
Blair out of the ambulance, rolling him through the doors and toward
a room. Jim followed, listening to the pair give report to a nurse and
doctor to whom they were handing Blair off. Before he could enter the
room, he was met by a nurse in blue scrubs, blocking his entrance.
"Are you with um, Mister..." she looked at the paperwork in her hands.
"Sandburg," Jim replied, almost yelling. "I'm his partner."
"Then what I need you to do," she added in a much practiced and almost
condescending tone, "Is to go out there," she pointed towards the lobby,
"get him registered, and fill out his paperwork."
A scowl overcame Jim's face, but he knew he was defeated. He trained
his hearing on Blair's room, and turned towards the ER lobby, sighing
his resignation of the situation heavily. He walked through the double
doors, and sat in the chair next to the admitting clerk, and started
rattling off Blair's pertinent information to him, all the while alert
to the goings on in Blair's room. As he heard it, Blair was stable, but
the doctor wanted several tests to be run to check the extent of his
The clerk finished entering the essential information into the computer
and handed Jim a stack of paperwork, nodding to a chair in the lobby
in which he could complete it. As Jim rose, he smiled, hearing his
guide's voice as Blair came to. He crossed the room, listening
in on the conversation.
"Wh.. What happened? Where's Jim?"
"It's OK, Mister Sandburg. You hit your head and had a seizure." The
voice was singsong and calming. "You're in Cascade General ER and
we need to run a few-"
"Where's JIM?!" Blair demanded, rustling the sheets on the gourney.
"Lay back down, Mister Sandburg. Your partner is out in the lobby. After
we've run some tests, we'll let him come back, OK? But until then," more
rustling of the gourney's sheets, "You have to lay back and let us finish,
OK? Do you understand, Mister Sandburg?"
Blair must have nodded, as the person attending him turned and walked
out of the room. Under his breath, he muttered, "Do you understand,
*Mister* *Sandburg*?" He lay his head back down, the sound of silky,
dark curls running over the pillow beneath his head. "Jim, I know you're
out there, and you're probably listening to me right now. I'm fine,
so you can stop worrying." Jim smiled quietly to himself. His guide
seemed to know him quite well. "You can take Blessed Protector out of
A heavy sigh of relief finally passed Jim's lips, and he slumped back
in his chair, finally allowing himself to relax for the first time
since the incident. /God, I don't know what I'd do without my Blair./
he thought. /Wait a minute, *my Blair*? That's the second time.../
his thoughts trailed off as to how he was thinking of his partner in
a possessive sense. The lamp of enlightenment had been lit back at the
store as Blair lay bleeding, when Jim realized he couldn't do anything for
his partner. All emotion began to clash within him, as he allowed his
deep, far hidden feelings to float to the surface. Yes, *his* Blair.
The feelings of helplessness had helped chisel the love that he held for
his partner free from his darkened, closed off heart. His eyes began
to well with tears as the emotions swirled within his chest. /Yes/
he finally admitted to himself, /I'm in love with Blair./
Jim wiped the tear from his eye, as the frustration of reality hit
him hard. /Stupid! You're in love with your straight partner. *STRAIGHT*/.
He got up and dropped the forms off to the admitting clerk, and made
a quick trip outside. It had suddenly gotten very stuffy in the lobby,
and he needed space - and time - to deal with his newfound emotions.
Once in the clean air, he shook his head, as if to force all of the
thoughts into one easy way of dealing with them. Knowing how futile
this was, he began to walk. On one hand, he wanted to rush to Blair's
side and tell him his new found feelings. That's what Blair would want,
right? But reality kept stomping the idea down, telling him that he had
a damn good thing right now, and not to blow it. Jim laughed to himself
at his sudden pun. "God, Ellison, what are you gonna do?"
Jim looked up to the sky, as if for guidance, and it came raining down
on him in buckets. The sky was a beautiful blue, immediately reminding
him of his partner's eyes and the soul that prowled beneath them. He
knew that was something he never wanted to lose, so he made a promise to
himself. He could love his guide, but only from afar. He had to hide
his true emotions from Blair, lest he find out and leave Jim forever.
Jim shuddered at the thought - he didn't think he could handle that.
"Do what you gotta do, Jimmy," he said quietly to himself. "Just don't
lose him." With a heavy sigh, Jim turned back to the emergency room,
and walked slowly back.
The closer he got, the better he could hear his guide's heartbeat. He
walked back into the ER, and started to make his way to his original
seat, still focused on Blair's room. There were other people with him
now, discussing the further tests needed to be done. He heard Blair
speak. "No way, man. I don't *want* an MRI. Those things freak me
out, man." Jim knew his partner was frightened by the edge in his voice.
"Mister Sandburg, you really shoul-"
Jim was brought back quickly by the woman making her way to him.
"Mister Ellison?" He suppressed a flinch as the closness of the voice
bombarded him, and mentally turned down his hearing.
"Yes?" He replied, trying to be casual.
The nurse motioned her hand towards the double doors, through where his
partner was. "You can come back and see him now."
"Thanks," Jim muttered, and headed straight for Blair's room. He rounded
the corner in near record time and came to stand just outside of the
room. He knocked quietly as he entered, trying not to disturb the
conversation taking place too much. "Chief?"
A pair of the bluest eyes he had ever seen met his, threatening to steal
his breath. "Jim! Thank god you're here. They want to do an MRI, man.
I don't think I can handle it."
Jim took his place at Blair's side, opposite the doctor, touching his
leg gently. "I don't know, Doc. I tend to agree. He can barely sit
still through a movie." He ignored the glare the was now beaming at him.
"I don't know how he'll be able to be still for an MRI."
"Well, like it or not, he has to have one. Mister Sandburg," he turned
to Blair, "seizures don't just come about for no reason. I want to make
sure that there's no scarring, no permanent damage."
"Too late," Jim added wryly, earning him yet another glare. "Blair, I'll
be right there. You'll be fine. There's nothing to worry about." Jim
realized his hand was still on Blair's shin, rubbed it in a comforting
motion, and withdrew it easily, as to not call attention to it. For
Blair, this was too late. Jim's touch had been electric, as it always
was. He silently prayed to all the gods he could remember *not* to get
excited, not to let the electric touch of Jim's hand get to him, but a cool
breeze gave his body other ideas. As he tried to mentally turn his emotions
off, the breeze caressed his chest, his shirt unbuttoned and laying open,
causing his nipples to harden in an instant. Blair tried to casually
adjust himself, hiding it as a motion of giving in to the doctor's wishes.
"OK, I'll do it," he admitted, leaning forward to cover his nipples and
minutely adjust the hardness in his jeans. He turned to his partner.
"Just promise me you'll be there, man."
Jim was momentarily caught off guard, his sense of smell suddenly
pummeled by... pheromones? There was the distinctive smell of Blair
with a new smell that challenged this senses as well as his thoughts
about his roommate. "You got it, Chief," he added, trying not to be too
conspicuous as he continued to investigate the odor.
"Take off all your clothes, and put this on." Hearing this in any other
situation would normally intrigue Blair, turning him on if it were
the right person saying it. But not now. "Your jewelry, too.
Mister Ellison and I will go into the booth." Hospital gown now handed
over to Blair, the radiology technician turned to Jim, motioning
him to the door. "Once you're undressed, let me know. We'll go through
this door over here," he pointed to the door that led to the MRI scanning
room, "and I'll get you situation for the scan." He turned back to
Jim. "After you, Mister Ellison."
/Damn./ Jim thought as he made his way out of the changing room. /Gonna
miss the show./ His newfound feelings were still raging within him, now
fed with the thoughts of his guide, naked and so close to him. Jim
entered the MRI control booth, then turned to the technician standing
next to the door where Blair was. "Where do you want me?"
"Sit anywhere in the back," he responded, reaching for the door where
Blair was. "Just please don't touch anything." The technician walked
in and escorted Blair into the room with the MRI equipment.
Jim watched the pair enter the room, and smiled as he caught a whisp
of Blair's bare bottom. The technician helped Blair up onto the table
and adjusted him to the position necessary for the procedure. "OK,
just remember to lie back, take easy breaths, and do *not* move until
we are through." Instructions given, the technician turned to leave
"Good luck trying to keep *him* still." Jim said quietly to himself,
thankful that he was the one with sentinel abilities and not Blair.
The technician walked in and sat down next to Jim, trying to figure
out what the smirk on Jim's face was all about as he started getting
the MRI setup and ready to go. As he performed some final adjustments,
he flipped on a microphone. "Mister Sandburg, can you hear me?"
"Loud and clear," came the response. "Jim, you out there, man?"
"I'm here buddy. Just lay back and take it easy, and do as the man
"Easy for you to say," Blair added quietly. "You're not the one that's
stuck here in this damn room."
The technician, having heard this banter between his patients and their
ever present guests too often, tuned out the exchange. "Mister Sandburg,
are you ready for me to begin?"
"Yeah, I gue- Oh crap! Wait a minute!"
A look of concern played on Jim's face. "What is it, Chief?"
"Hey Jim? Can you come in here a minute?"
Jim turned toward the technician, as if to ask permission to enter
the MRI room. "Before you go in, Mister Ellison," the technician
began, handing a small basket to Jim, "Put your wallet and other
valuables in here. You don't want your Visa zapped, do you?"
Jim complied, piling his wallet and keys into the small container.
"Anything else?" he asked. The technician passed his hand through
the air, indicating it was OK for Jim to check on the patient's needs,
and turned back to the console, ready to begin the procedure. Jim made
his way into the room, where Blair's hands were fidgeting underneath
his hospital gown. "What's wrong, Blair? You need some help?" Jim
stared intently, trying to figure out what Blair was doing with his
unseen hands. "Everything OK?"
"There. Got it." Blair's hands came out from underneath the cloth
and presented a small silver ring to Jim's outstretched hand. "Here.
Can you hold onto this for me? I forgot to take it off." As the ring
dropped from Blair's hand to Jim's, a huge grin plastered upon Jim's
"Jesus, Blair. I forgot all about your nipple ring." The grin was
contagious, as it spread to Blair's lips. "You got anything else
pierced that needs removing?"
"Wouldn't you like to know, big guy!" Blair replied, his eyebrows
threatening to escape his forehead if he flung them about any further.
Blair let the feeling go, remembering the promise he made to himself
about his feelings for Jim. /Don't flirt with the straight cop, unless
you have another place to live./
Taking one last look at Blair's body laid out on the table, Jim walked
out of the room, putting the silver hoop in his pants pocket.
"Home sweet home, Chief." Jim stepped aside as he let Blair pass him
into the loft. They had left the hospital after a six hour stay had
presented Blair with a clean bill of health. The doctor told him to
take it easy for a few days, and to report back if any other problems
related to his head trauma came up. He also asked if Jim would mind
keeping an eye on his roommate for the next few days, 'just in case'.
/Like that's going to be difficult./ Jim mentally replied to the
doctor. "Here, let's get you settled in," he told Blair, steering him
towards the couch.
"Jesus, Jim. I'm *not* an invalid, you know," was the crotchety reply.
"I'm just a little weak, not helpless."
Jim mentally backed off some, as not to press Blair too much. "Sure,
Chief. Can I get you something?"
"How about you put a pot of water on to boil? I've got some herbs
that'll take some of this swelling away, and take the edge off of
this headache." Blair sat back on the couch, listening to Jim
moving about in the kitchen, and tried to cover a yawn. The entire
hospital ordeal had him tensed, and he just wanted to relax for
a while. "You want help with those groceries, man?" Jim was putting
away their items from their shopping earlier that day.
"No thanks. You just sit back and relax, Chief. I'll take care of
it *this* time." Jim took a wet hand out of one of the plastic bags,
the items once frozen were now puddles of cool goo. "Shit, I forgot
about the stuff for the 'fridge. We're going to have to go back out
to replace some of this stuff."
"Sure... Let's," *yawn*, "go after a little while, OK? I just want to
sit back and relax a bit. That OK?" Blair looked over at Jim, who
nodded in agreement. "Jesus, it's cold in here." Blair pulled his
hands into the sleeves of his sweater and crossed his arms over his
chest, putting his hands in each armpit to keep it warm. As the
material stretched over his chest, it stimulated his nipples, causing
them to become erect. It was a wonderful feeling, but something seemed
to be missing... "Oh Jim? Can I have my ring back, man?"
Jim's face shot up from the soggy bread he was retrieving from the
bag, images of Blair's naked chest filling his mind. "Sure, Chief,"
he said, thrusting his hand into his pocket. "It's right..." Jim
searched his pocket, but the ring seemed to be missing. He searched
his other pocket, then went over to the basket to see if it had
caught on his key ring.
"Oh man, don't tell me you lost it, Jim. That was my only one!" Blair
sat back against the arm of the sofa, as one more bad thing happened
to him. The ring provided ample stimulation for him, and if he was
to be cooped up for the next couple of days, he was going to need
all the stimulation he could get. Then again, just being around his
sentinel would give him at least adequate fantasy material for quite
a while. As long as Jim didn't figure out why it was he always took
such long showers, he'd be fine in that department. /A high water bill
just for the chance to get off/ He thought, smiling to himself while
wondering where he was going to get another nipple ring. But the
shower was the only place that he could safely get off, and have the
odor masked almost successfully.
Jim's face held disappointment, mostly because he'd lost something that
he had been entrusted with. But there was a part of it thrown in because
he wouldn't see Blair with the ring in place. "Sorry, Blair. It must
have fallen out of my pocket, and I didn't notice."
Blair waved his hand at Jim, passing off the situation. "Don't worry
about it. I'll get one later. Right now," *yawn* "I just want to
sleep." Blair put his head back against the arm of the couch and
let his mind go, releasing the thoughts of the day. Before he knew
it, he was fast asleep.
The bulk of their purchases either put away or tossed out, Jim turned off
the unneeded kettle of water and tidied up the loft as quietly as he could.
As he put some magazines away from the coffee table, he noticed Blair
shivering just slightly, the exposed skin covered in a light dust of goose
flesh. He went to Blair's room and grabbed one of the heavy blankets from
the bed, returning to the couch with it, and draped it over his roommate.
/God, I can't believe how beautiful he looks when he sleeps./ Jim thought,
as the material left his fingers. He focused on the closed eyes, watching
them dart back and forth, knowing Blair was dreaming. He took it all
in, his body threatening to zone on all that was Blair. When his
roommate adjusted himself fitfully in his sleep, Jim pulled the long,
silken hair from his face, letting it linger within his hands for
a second more than he should. /God/ he thought. /I've gotta get
out of here before I attack him in his sleep!/ Jim left Blair's side
and jotted a note, leaving it next to his sleeping form. He quietly
picked up his keys, and headed out the door.
Jim finished up the replacement grocery shopping, and was making
his way back to the loft. He passed a strip mall a few blocks
from the grocery, and noticed a store that, until now, he'd not
paid attention to. In large red lettering that hung just over the
doorway, the letters spelled out, "PIERCING PAGODA". Thinking back
to the ring he was charged with, but lost, he pulled into the parking
lot, parked, and strolled into the store.
A teenage girl, who's perkiness and energy level challenged that of
even Blair's, greeted him as he walked through the doors. "Hi!
Welcome to Piercing Pagoda! Can I help you?"
Jim's face went flush with slight embarrassment. In a quiet voice,
so as not to attract attention from the other shoppers or staff,
he asked, "Um, do you have any, um, nipple rings?"
"I'm *sorry*," was the syrupy reply, loud enough to send an extra pint
or two of blood to Jim's cheeks. "We don't do nipple piercing here,
but I can direct you to-"
Totally flustered, Jim stopped her before she dug him in deeper. "No
I *don't* want my nipple pierced. I just want to buy a nipple ring."
The girl's face lit up, as she realized her mistake. "Oh, just a
nipple *ring*." Attention from the entire store, if not the entire
strip mall, was now fully on Jim. "We have a small selection over
here. Please follow me." She walked behind the counter, directing
Jim to a small collection of thick rings and posts. "Which one?"
A confused look covered Jim's face. "Excuse me?"
"Which one do you have pierced?"
/This girl's got a *big* shovel/ Jim thought. Just as he thought he
couldn't get any deeper - or any redder - this girl rose to the challenge,
and brought home the gold. Jaw clenched, he replied, "I don't *have*
my nipple pierced. I'm buying this for a *friend*." /Is it me, or
is the heat up little too high?/ Jim looked over the selection, finding
one that was almost identical to the one he'd lost. He pulled out his
wallet, then pointed to the ring. "I'll take that one."
The clerk was obviously having a great time at Jim's expense. "Woo,
nice one! Cash, check, or charge?"
Totally defeated, Jim handed over a twenty dollar bill, took his
merchandise and change, and left the store, thoughts of dismemberment
and bodily harm filling his head. He walked through the doors, trying
to ignore the clerk's final words as he left.
The truck pulled up to the loft. Jim grabbed his purchases into his arms,
making his way up the stairs. Taking each step quietly, he focused on the
loft, trying to determine if Blair was awake or not. He realized that
yes, indeed, Blair was awake, and watching some nature special on
television. Inserting his key, he opened the door to find Blair still
on the couch, engrossed in a documentary. "Hey, Chief. How you feelin'?"
he questioned, as he put the bags on the counter.
"Pretty good, just tired. Jim, you should come watch this, man." Jim
shot a quizzed look to Blair on the couch. "It's a special on the Giant
Panda. You know, where they live, mating habits, that kind of thing."
Blair grinned to the image of the black and white bear on the screen.
"I mean, how can you not help but love these guys?" Blair looked over
to Jim and nodded his head towards the bags on the counter. "Thanks
for getting the groceries, man. I owe ya."
/Yep, he's fine. He's back in good old Blair mode./ Jim thought as he
brought his hand out of one of the bags, flashing Blair a pack of Twinkies,
a smile on his face. "Hey, I had to go get these, anyway," he grinned.
"Not a problem." Jim's mind returned to his final purchase, and his
grin stretched further. "And I even picked something up for you."
Jim walked over to where Blair was stretched out on the couch and knelt
down next to him. "Here." Jim handed him the silver hoop.
"Oh man, thanks! You didn't have to do that!"
Jim nodded, watching intently as Blair unbuttoned his shirt. "Yeah, I
did. I lost it, so I have to replace it." His eyes followed Blair's
hands up his chest, and watched him as he opened the ring, getting it
ready to insert. "Um, how does it work?"
The tension between the two was thick, and every movement seemed to be
electric. Blair saw an opportunity to test the waters. It seemed that
Jim was fascinated by the nipple ring almost to the point of arousal.
Promise or no promise, he wanted to see what Jim's response would be.
"Here," Blair pronounced, grabbing Jim's arm and putting the ring into
the hand. "Try it out. I've had it a while, so you can't hurt me."
/Yes he can, Blair. He freaks and throws you out, and you will most
*definitely* be hurt./
Jim's hand shook slightly as he raised it up Blair's chest to the nipple,
now fully erect. His left hand followed, cupping the firm pectoral
muscle, and squeezed it gently, making for a better surface on which
to work. His forefinger went behind the small part of the ring, and
guided it through the nipple, gently pushing it until the shiny surface
protruded through the other end. Pushing it a little farther, he
used his thick fingers to adjust the clasp, until it was fastened.
Jim released the breath that he didn't realize he had been holding.
Fighting a sudden dryness in his mouth and throat, he asked quietly,
"That OK, Chief?"
When Jim made no effort to remove his hands from the muscular chest,
Blair finally spoke. "You know, Jim," /Dammit voice, don't squeak
so much!/ "In some cultures, we would be considered married now."
He let his eyes meet up with Jim's, which he had avoided until he
finished speaking. Jim's lips parted slightly, while his fingers
closed on the ring that was now in place, tugging on it gently.
"Really?" Jim asked quietly, his eyes hiding none of the desire that
was raging within him. "Sounds kind of nice." Jim tugged on the ring
with a slightly firmer motion, which brought a moan from Blair's lips.
Barely whispering, he asked, "You like that, Sandburg?"
Blair could hold back no more. His hands went to the sides of Jim's
face, pulling him close. He licked his lips, then surrounded Jim's
lips with his own, thrusting his tongue deep into Jim's mouth. Jim
rose from his kneeling position and put his body over Blair's, hovering
as his free hand began to explore the body beneath him while the
other still tugged gently on the silver ring. Blair let his hands
roam, finding hard, red-hot flesh beneath his fingertips, threatening
to sear his skin off. The couple broke off the kiss and stared deep
into each other's eyes.
"Jesus, Jim," Blair panted. "Where have you been hiding *that*?"
Jim just smiled, then gave Blair a quick kiss before standing. "You
never asked for it before, Sandburg."
Blair immediately missed the closeness that the two had shared just
seconds earlier, his face questioning why Jim was now standing away
from him. His unasked question was answered as Jim extended his
hand, summoning him to his feet. "Come on, Chief."
Blair extended his hand out, and it was swallowed between the older
man's hands. "What?" he questioned quietly.
"Come on," Jim responded, his eyes penetrating to the depths of Blair's
soul. "We're going upstairs...to *our* room."
"Our room?" Blair asked, not hiding the surprise in his voice.
Jim released himself from the pools of blue in which he had almost
immersed himself completely, and turned slightly away. He knew
that if Blair took what he was about to say wrong, his heart
would break. By turning away, he could prevent some of that hurt
if Blair shot him down. "Chief, I know this is new to both of us,
but I'm not willing to do this half-heartedly. If I do this, I'm in it
for good." Jim turned back to his partner's face. "Blair," he said
quietly, "I love you."
A look of immense joy overtook Blair's face, his eyes sparkling.
"Jesus, Jim! Do you know how long I've waited for you to hear that?"
Blair brought his hands to Jim's face, feeling the stubble underneath
his palms. "I love you, too."
Blair tilted his head up, stepping on the tips of his toes to meet
Jim's full height, and kissed him gently on the lips. As he came back
down, he grabbed Jim's hand in his and led towards the stairs. "Come
on, big guy!" he added, a mischievous grin spreading over his face.
He took one step, but felt as if he had been chained to a tree, as his
body snapped back into place. As he turned to Jim, he noticed a look
of concern on the detective's face. "What is it, Jim? Did I do
something wrong? What?" Concern dripped heavily from his voice.
The cheeks of Jim's face held a blush, and he stammered as he began to
quietly speak. "Um... How do I say this?" He brought his eyes to meet
Blair's. "Blair," he almost whispered. "I've never done this before."
A light hearted laugh escaped Blair's lips. "Oh man," he said, eyes
crinkling with delight. "You mean you're a virgin?" When Jim began
to correct Blair, he restated, "I mean for the male/male thing."
Jim's felt as if today he were in eternal blush mode. "Yeah. The male/male
"Oh man, don't worry about it. We can take it as slow as you want.
Whatever you don't feel comfortable with-"
"Wait a minute, Sandburg. You mean *you've* done this before?"
Blair needn't have answered. As he flashed Jim his most innocent smile,
he couldn't help biting his lip in a look of satisfied guilt. "Yeah, but
I've hardly been around the block more than a few times. And it's
been years, man. You think I'd go out with a guy while I lived here?"
he asked, gesturing around the loft. "You'd have smelled it in a minute.
But I have done some stuff, you know, nothing hardcore or anything.
Well, I've read a lot of stuff, but I've never been able to-"
"Sandburg!" Jim yanked on Blair's hand, bringing him close.
Blair was once again biting his lip, looking up at his partner. "Yeah,
"Shut up and get upstairs."