Disclaimer: They're not mine, and I write them for love not money.

Notes: I labelled this J/B and m/m, but that "/" could be debated. In my mind, this story is gen with sort-of-sex, but others have read it as total and utter slash. Feel free to have whatever interpretation suits, naturally, but you're now warned in cas e that's a problem. :)

Thanks to Rachel for an excellent beta, and I would never complete anything if it weren't for Anagi.

Feedback is humbly begged, and constructive criticism welcomed with open arms.

Last Time, by Julad

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One more time, this one last time, Jim marvelled at how well he had learned to use his senses. He wasn't sure how he knew what Blair was doing; whether his hearing was so acute he could follow every movement, or if had somehow learned how to sense all through any atoms which separated them, but there was no doubt that he knew. Jim was tuned into his guide with the ability his guide had given him. He shared every nuance, every quiver, every sigh. Every beat of his heart.

Blair was only teasing himself at this stage, feeding feather-light strokes and tiny experimental touches to the flicker of desire in his groin. His breathing was under perfect control, slow and deep as the systematic flexing of muscles which were relaxing his whole body.

Jim focussed on the steady ebb of air in and out, letting the waves of sound surround him, enchant him, guide him. When his heart had slowed to match the soft, hypnotic thud which was weaving its way upwards in his hearing, he began the touching.

Blair was lightly stroking his face, crisp rustling of stubble on the short fingernails and the faintest shade of sensual luxury in his breath. Jim brought his own hand upwards, slowly, and let the pads of his fingers brush his own cheeks, nudge his eyelids closed, and glide up to caress the creases from his forehead. When there was no resistance from his brow, Jim slid fingertips down his nose to rest on his lips, waiting.

His confused guilt had been shoved aside tonight, brutally. Time enough for doubt and self-loathing when he could do this no more. When the sleepless, restless nights would come to him, alone in an empty loft, his memory could debate this with his conscience. With no guide to stir downstairs and sleepily lead his mind away from brooding, he would have opportunity enough to review the circumstances and calculate the likelihood of Blair's knowledge and consent. Knowing already that his conscience would judge him a violator and a voyeur, Jim pushed the thoughts away again and. Training his senses onto the one who had trained them was both instinctive and indecent, but tonight was his last chance to experience this precious intimacy, and he couldn't bring himself to squander it.

Tiny sounds of moistness in Blair's breath let Jim know that Blair had parted his lips, was sliding his fingers inside. The Sentinel watched with his ears as Blair flickered his tongue across his fingertips, absently at first; closing his lips around sensitised fingers and then releasing, ever teasing, always heightening the experience through anticipation. When the embers of desire had begun to harden his cock, Blair let his fingers slide all the way into the hot mouth and with slow, brazen purpose, started sucking. Faint moans bubbled out of him as he shifted lazily against the blankets, unselfconsciously enjoying pleasure on a level Jim had barely known before, just by going down on his own fingers while they fucked his mouth.

Blair was relaxed, still, doing this, but tonight Jim couldn't be. He sucked his own hand desperately, barely controlling the whimpers of need developing deep in his throat. Hips already twitching in minute thrusts, his skin prickled into gooseflesh with every current of air which collided with it. He begged silently until Blair picked up the pace, dragging his slick fingers down his throat and onto his chest.

It had been a riotous dinner, with Blair no doubt unsurprised that the Major Crimes cops - who had ribbed and mocked while he was part of the force - were shouting each other down with their favourite 'Hairboy' stories at his send-off. Unwrapping presents with surprised shouts of glee between courses, sitting indiscriminately in laps to do it, he'd sparkled with plans and promises and intoxicated affection. At some stage he'd convinced half the Cascade PD to shed their shoes and jackets, and Jim had watched him lead the barefoot macarenas with a wry smile and a twisting heart. Long after midnight, he'd stood by the door, want to be near Blair as - with a wine glass in one hand and spirit glass in the other - he hugged and kissed all his Cascade friends goodbye.

While they waited in the cold foyer for their taxi, and Blair muttered half-hearted obscenities about restaurant closing times, Jim touched guilty fingers to the unopened envelope in his jacket.

Blair was still staggering in time to the music, although Jim had to stretch his hearing to find it. A little Mona Lisa smile skittered over Blair's face as he swayed in close to his roommate, eyes lighting up with expectation, showing that uncanny guide ability to anticipate - and by anticipating inducing - an action from Jim.

Jim handed over the envelope to distract him as he turned his face into the shadows to hide the tiredness he couldn't bear to show. In his peripheral vision the envelope fluttered in several pieces to the carpet, then he was forced to turn back as Blair's cold hand grabbed his. Blue eyes stared at him with too much insight, and then hazed over a little as he turned back to stare at the airline ticket in his hands.

"I'll use it as soon as I can get time off," Blair said softly.

Jim smiled a little, and looked away, but Blair slid an arm around his waist and stared up at him.

"Jim -"

"Taxi's here," he'd said then, walking out the door and staring down the deserted street. Blair touched his arm but he lifted it, waving the cab down long before the driver could have seen them.

Driving home, tongue wooden with wine, easily lulled into silence by the artificial warmth of the taxi's heater, it was too easy to say nothing. To hard to say anything. Too goddamned difficult to open his mouth and say a few little words like 'thank-you' and 'I'll miss you' and 'you changed my life'. Even thinking about the profound gratitude he felt, and the surprise and the need and the desperation and.... Jim's throat sealed up. Emotion closed off the means of speaking, before he could force out the words which might express some of what he felt - never everything, but maybe enough. Words remained trapped which might have convinced Blair to just *not* live a normal life, not accept the scholarship, not pack up and leave but stay in this sexlessly passionate relationship for no other reason than that Jim needed him to.

Even though the need to make this impossible request brought tears to Jim's eyes, he watched the ghostly, garish lights of the city flash by his window and said nothing.

When Jim paid the driver, they stumbled through rain into the building, huddled for warmth in the freezing elevator, hurried along the hall. Blair hummed tunelessly into Jim's shoulder as Jim unlocked the door, but stopped as they paused inside the loft. The silence surrounding them, and the boxes stacked haphazardly outside Blair's room, said it all.

Jim saw, in tipsy clarity, lines leading to parts of the loft and sketching out the future: footprints leading into the kitchen to much needed coffee and more desperately needed conversation; to the couch and the chance to savour continued physical contact. His bladder drew a halfhearted line toward the bathroom, and most of all, his heavy eyelids and weary heart demanded his bed... although that path, when trod by him and his snuggling roommate, lead to a dangerous cliff-hanger at the base of the stairs...

....and just when Jim was ready to abandon all reservations and seize Blair and say everything, spill it all out as fast as he could, Blair slapped him on the back and, through an enormous yawn, drawled something about resting up for the big move tomorrow.

And so Jim had made his slow way up the stairs, heavy with unspoken gratitude and unarticulated need, and stumbled into bed. He closed his eyes and willed all thoughts from his mind, wishing to fall asleep quickly tonight of all nights. It took only a few minutes of tossing unhappily while his head spun, exhausted and wide awake, before his resolve crumbled and he opened his hearing. The facade of calm he'd been maintaining wavered, as his ears informed him that - unconsciously or not - his guide had not yet stopped giving to him.

Blair was now stroking hollow of his throat. Jim followed the example, feeling his adam's apple shift as he swallowed back tonight's memories. Blair's other hand was at his nipples, tracing the edge slowly, and Jim marvelled at his own skin there; the subtle distinctions between the softness of the pink flesh and the smoothness of the skin which surrounded it.

A deep sigh, and Jim knew Blair was touching his nipple-ring, exploiting the advantage, wallowing in the strange pleasure it gave him. Jim adjusted his senses to keep pace, and as he followed suit, Jim wondered if he should have told Blair he could do this... that he could now not only turn his touch all the way up with the other senses down, but charge it all to one place, tune a body's worth of sensation into one nipple and then touch it, feel the bud tightening all over his body in the most extraordinary sensation in his existence.

With a soft humming, Blair crawled deeper into his blankets, reminding Jim that they were both still drunk, drawing the tingling of champagne to the surface, flushing his skin with warmth and energy. Toying with his throat again, then a quick pass over the lips, a kiss to his fingers, Jim followed. With a soft laugh Blair slid his hands to his stomach and caressed it lightly, squirming a little with the tickle until it abated and he was left shivering, gradually spreading his legs, moving lazily now within his cocoon as the arousal in him rose to the next level. Minute sparks of dangerous energy shivered up and down through Jim's legs as he copied.

The flickering of desire and fear in that sensation reminded Jim of the earlier spit and crackle of a match, then the hiss as scented candles were lit, the low throb of music which Jim somehow knew was for his benefit. Blair had spent a long time relaxing tonight - stretching, breathing, repeating - longer, Jim suspected, than Blair had ever needed for this. He was drunk and sleepy, he didn't need meditation to jerk off and sleep. There could have been other reasons for it, but alone above him, Jim had been soothed. He'd told himself repeatedly that if anything indicated knowledge and consent, or even an instinct to act which matched his own instinct to listen, it was the time Blair allowed before he began. The ritual lulled Jim's anxieties; his guide's meditation seduced his hearing into the room downstairs and compelled him to follow. The calm which it induced smoothed a path which allowed Jim to follow on this journey.

Jim held firmly to the thread of that peace as Blair's fingers travelled their way across inner thighs, soothing and then teasing, first like a massage, then light as a lover's breath. Pinches and little slaps led up to his buttocks and then travelled more tenderly into the crack between. And this too, had been a revelation for Jim - a whole new erotic zone which had never been given more than a perfunctory experimentation. Shame and guilt had had him backing away from the disturbing tingle long before he could ever learn to enjoy it. But Blair naturally accepted the pleasure his fingers brought him there, teasing the rim and moaning softly. He revelled in touching himself with such intimacy, unfazed by considerations of what it might mean that he liked it.

Jim reached into the bedside drawer, managing to coat a finger with gel without actually looking at the tube. He closed his eyes, and, with the lurch of determination normally reserved for leaping off buildings and stepping in front of moving vehicles, slid the finger into his ass. As always, the exhilaration of success accompanied the rush of the raw pleasure in a potent mix of sensations. He turned his hearing back to Blair, relieved to be able to accompany him. They thrust gently, gasped in muffled unison, and then Blair's hand flowed onto his cock and Jim whimpered as the teasing stopped and the real thing started.

But the sick thrill of doing this to himself was fraught now, with more than a sentinel's caution and a life's oppression against it. Jim knew, with heavy certainty, that once Blair was gone his own ass would be a danger zone once more; too threatening, too uncomfortable an act to enjoy without being guided through it. Jim shuddered as he squeezed his cock, and plunged another finger inside himself, not knowing how he would find relief from his own mechanical process, even though he'd done it that way every time, before Blair.

Since Blair, Jim had discovered couldn't do this alone. Horny, angry or frustrated enough, he could somehow let off pressure, but he had quickly abandoned his attempts to find, alone, the kind of pleasure he glimpsed in tandem with his guide.

But that was tomorrow's problem. Pushing those thoughts down hard, pushing his fingers in harder, Jim dialled up his touch until he could feel the ecstatic firing of every nerve cell, until he saw his pleasure flash white before his eyes. Beneath him, Blair was murmuring little encouragements, a throaty 'mmm' and a breathless 'ohh', making Jim shudder with guilt and arousal.

He could sense that Blair was now rolling onto his stomach, rubbing himself against the sheet as he fucked himself harder, every slick thrust echoed by a sharp groan, and a harsh breath sucked in as the fingers were pulled back out. Again, and again, Jim copied, hand crushed between cock and mattress, feeling the momentum building in both of them with every movement.

Blair was doing it harder now, thrusting back on his fingers, holding his cock tight and jerking occasionally, when he couldn't help himself. He moaned out load, the deep rattle of arousal shaking both of them. Jim moaned in return, and Blair whimpered, then abandoned the last of his restraint. Fucking himself furiously, rubbing against the sheets with cock and nipples, hand gripping his balls briefly before curling back around his erection, and all the while panting, muffling his groans into the pillow. Above him, Jim did the same, face burning as his body convulsed and his arousal reached unbearable heights. Senses dialled up, everything fed into the building swell; his sweat, his laboured breaths, the slick sounds of his own masturbation.

He turned back onto his back and pushed down on his hand until he touched his prostate; gritted his teeth and pressed hard when Blair did, felt it sear like lightning through him, agonising and electrifying. Climax was rushing in to take him and he squeezed his cock hard, afraid to go there first, terrified that if he came this hard without Blair he'd zone on it forever.

Suspended before it, waiting in agony, wanting to scream out loud, the knowledge was a knife in his heart. No matter who would follow, no matter who he met and mated and even married, the best feeling of his life was the one which was about to consume his body.

Blair's sudden, astonished gasp as he felt it coming made Jim moan helplessly. It was out of his guide's control now, for both of them.

The wave paused for an eternal moment, long enough for Jim to look up at it and recognise it for what it was: the imminent loss of the only force which had ever reconciled him with his own body. Then Blair bucked viciously and cried out and it crashed violently over Jim, dragging him under, forcing the air out of his lungs as he was pounded by the ecstasy. The force of it shook through every nerve in his body and bruised him inside and out. He convulsed on the bed, screaming soundlessly, believing every second that it would be his last.

And then it abated, passed on through, and his body shook in protest and relief. Jim lay sprawled across the bed, feeling brittle and hollow; bereft. Face wet with tears, stomach coated in slick come, muscles twitching and jumping uncontrollably, Jim gulped in air until he could dial down his senses once more.

With shaky control he tuned back in, only to learn that he'd missed the satisfied murmur Blair made as he sank from ecstasy into sleep, and Jim wanted to weep at the loss. He dialled his hearing down resolutely, telling himself to accept the fate tomorrow would bring, but dissatisfaction was settling over him; itching like dust, growing like panic in the space between aftershocks.

He couldn't do this. He could no longer live with himself without a guide. He couldn't let Blair go.

He couldn't do otherwise.

Remembering Blair's surprise at the letter congratulating him on his doctorate, followed by dumbstruck awe at the offer. A position at one of the finest anthropology schools in the world, salary, benefits, relocation expenses... and then his joy had faltered when Jim asked him which university it was.

Sick with shame, Jim remembered. Blair had put the letter aside, and said that it was nice but it didn't matter.

Burying his face in the pillow, Jim bit his tongue to keep the sobs in his throat from breaking free. What else could he have said?

The trapped feeling which had haunted him since that day escalated beyond bearing, and he writhed amongst prickling blankets and the deafening crunching of sheets, his senses flying off the scale. He forced them back, ruthlessly. Clamped down on the panic. Dialled, as Blair had once yelled at him, the hell down.

And that one last irony was too much to withstand. The cry escaped Jim before he could stop it, although he stopped the rest. Tears too hot burned skin too sensitive before he harshly rubbed them off, but his skin against skin was like sandpaper. In desperation, he reached out his senses again, and sagged with unexpected relief at finding Blair hadn't actually left yet. That brief contact soothed him instantly, and Jim lingered, knowing he shouldn't.

He had to learn to sleep without it, he knew that, but knowing it was his last chance for the sleep of the peaceful, knowing that from now on his nights would be filled with tossing and turning, thoughts churning, staring at ceilings in helpless frustration, Jim couldn't deny himself this final time.

So once again the sentinel slid into the reassuring lullaby of his guide's breathing. Let it surround him, become his world -- the soft hush of air drawn in; the moist sigh of breath released. The steady rise and fall of it became like the swaying of a hammock in a warm breeze, the soothing rocking of a yacht in harbour, and then Jim reached out again, into the rain falling against his guide's window. He added the soothing voices of a million raindrops to his lullaby, and then followed the sound down to the street. There he gathered the whispering of waters in the storm drains into his growing orchestra and moved along with them until they spilled into a creek, and floated along above them. He followed the faint, glistening thread of natural music until he reached his destination.

Floating above the foam, he was cleansed by the sharp fresh scent. Tasting the salty air, he watched the waves thunder against black, moonlit rocks and felt the heavy vibrations flood all the way up his living link to its anchor. Then he superimposed them, in a method which had ever defied reason but satisfied instinct; the hypnotic rhythms of distant waves and his guide's near breathing.

At first the two were discordant, the waves too heavy and ponderous to match the light in-out of respiration. The lack of harmony was a blessing: a paradox which absorbed his mind's restless thoughts. And then inevitably the cycles grew closer; the crash and backward seethe of the water drawing nearer to the hush and sigh of his guide at rest, until finally they coincided. The untamed might of the ocean exploded as Blair inhaled, it withdrew quietly as Blair exhaled, and Jim slipped from consciousness into warm sleep.

The sentinel's dreams were peaceful, his daily hurts healed as his guide's heartbeat thudded softly around him.

For the last time.

 

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