This is a joint effort of Derora and Anagi -- Derora's first Sentinel story, Anagi's second. Our thanks (as always) to Smaragd for the beta read and Stef for editing.

Something in the Air
Jim Ellison relaxed into the back of the sofa with a deep sigh. It was Friday, he had a cold beer in his hand, the loft to himself, and barring disaster, he was off duty until Monday. He would order a pizza, watch a little television, turn in early. Or make himself a hoagie, stay up all night, sleep till noon. It just didn't matter. He sighed again. Life didn't get much better than this.

The good life lasted all of 17 minutes. Blair Sandburg burst into the loft, a tornado of books and papers spilling out of his arms and just barely making it to the kitchen table. At least, most of them hit the table. Jim quickly closed his eyes against the sight, but couldn't shut out the sound of his Guide's voice quite as easily. He didn't realize that he was hearing the sound of Blair's voice more than the words until he heard him say for the second time, "Can you believe that, man?"

"Sorry," Jim said as he opened his eyes. "What?"

Blair was pacing the dining room, arms waving energetically. His hair was crackling about his head and Jim briefly wondered what it felt like when it was energized like that. "Jiimm! Pay attention! I was telling you that Shauna canceled out on me at the last minute, after I got the tickets and everything."

"Tickets to what?" Jim wasn't sure he cared, but he figured the response was expected of him.

"The concert at Green Gate. Tonight and tomorrow. I mean, the tickets weren't all that expensive, but I was really looking forward to it. And I spent all morning making a picnic dinner."

"So call one of your numerous other girlfriends." Jim dismissed the problem from his mind and slouched down on the couch cushions a little more, contemplating a nap before calling the pizza place.

"I've been trying!" Blair's frustration was evident in his voice as he began to pick up the papers that had fallen on the floor. "They're all either busy or mad at me for not calling them back earlier."

Jim had to chuckle at that last statement. Sandburg was notorious for the wide swath he cut through the female population of Cascade. "That's called payback, Chief. What about Mindy? She's been nipping at your heels for months now."

Blair shuddered at the thought of the records clerk at the police department. She had been chasing Blair almost to the point of stalking him through the halls of the station. Jim found her attentions to Blair to be highly amusing; Blair was just creeped out.

"The day I ask her out is the day you can have me committed, Jim. I am not going there."

"So ask a friend." By now Jim was lying flat on the couch, eyes drifting shut and preparing to slip into that planned nap. His eyes shot open again at the feeling that someone was hovering near his face. Blair was hanging over the back of the couch, his face bent down and his best puppy dog face in full 'on' mode, blue eyes wide and pleading.

"Jim?" Blair stared beseechingly.

"Oh, no. No way, Sandburg. I just got home, and I don't want to do anything tonight except veg in front of the tube." //Did he just bat his eyelashes at me?//

"Pleeaase, Jim? It'll be so much fun! You know, just us guys, a male bonding experience. You know, in some South Seas cultures - "

"No." //He definitely batted his lashes. At me.//

"But, Jim..."

"No." Jim closed his eyes and folded his arms across his chest, determined that this conversation was at an end, fluttering lashes or not. And it seemed to work. Blair was silent. Jim could hear him back at the table, the quiet rustle of turning pages telling him a book was being read.

All was peacefully quiet in the loft for a few minutes. Jim shifted into the cushions and was just relaxing enough to doze off when he heard it. A sniffle. One small, pathetic little sniffle. Jim bit the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. He just waited, knowing what was coming next.

A sigh. A heartfelt, mournful little sigh, enough to stir the most hardened criminal to loving concern. //That's two. One more to go.// He didn't have to wait too long before it came. A gulp of air, carefully crafted to sound like a quiet sob. Designed to tell his Sentinel that yes, my heart is broken, but that's OK, don't let me disturb you, I'll just go quietly kill myself while you nap.

"Shall I tie the noose to the railing for you, Sandburg?" he asked dryly.

Blair took that as a cue to race over to the couch and kneel at his side. "Please, Jim? It'll be a great concert. And dinner's already made. We'll come home early if you hate it. Or at least after Bonnie Raitt. And the blankets and cooler are all ready to go, you won't have to do a thing," he begged.

Jim hated to admit that his interest was piqued, but it was. "Bonnie Raitt?" he asked, sitting up and gently pushing his roommate out of the way with a long leg.

Blair scrambled backwards, frantically pushing the words out, before Jim could say no again. "Yeah. It's the American Music Festival. Two nights, with tons of music. And all kinds -- blues, rock, Cajun, jazz, country. Bonnie Raitt is playing tonight. Please come with me? It's the last concert of the season at Green Gate, and I've been looking forward to it for weeks."

Jim made the mistake of looking at his roommate. //Oh, yeah. Full puppy dog mode.// He did like Bonnie Raitt, but wouldn't dream of admitting it out loud. Any more than he would dream of letting Blair know that he had won with that first sniffle. Like he always did. He couldn't resist Blair Sandburg when he poured it on, and it never occurred to him to wonder why this was the case.

"All right, all right. I can see that I wouldn't have gotten a nap here anyway, Sandburg. Not with you moaning all night."

Blair looked indignant at that. "I don't moan! Well," he said, arching an eyebrow, "not over concerts at least." He laughed at himself, and Jim finally gave in with a groan and joined him.

-----------------------

An hour later, Jim was pulling into one of the few remaining spots in the large lot, Blair leaping out of the truck before the engine was off. Jim followed more sedately, watching the younger man collect an impressive amount of items from the back of the truck.

"You know, Chief, this isn't Woodstock. We are going home tonight." He gestured at the collection of supplies in the truck bed. "Do you really think we need all this stuff?"

Blair looked at him as if he'd lost his mind. "Of course we do!" Blair named each item as he expertly rearranged things in one of Jim's old military duffel bags. "Blankets to sit on, blankets to cover up with after dark," he shuddered dramatically and reached for another folded blanket, "and one to grow on. You can never have enough warmth, man." Jim grabbed the cooler that was being shoved in his direction. "Dinner and wine in the cooler, binoculars to see with, rain gear - "

"In case it rains," Jim finished impatiently. "Yes, yes, I get it, Sandburg. I guess I should be glad you didn't bring along the couch."

"Great idea, man! Next time." Blair laughed, and against his best efforts to not encourage his partner, Jim found himself smiling.

"Yeah, well, as long as you keep in mind that you'll be carrying it." He turned and started for the entrance, cooler in one hand, leaving Blair standing beside his pile. "I got the food, Chief. The rest is all yours," he called over his shoulder, leaving Blair to quickly gather up the rest of their "necessities" and jog to catch up.

-----------------------

After a short wait to get in the gate, Jim and Blair followed the large crowd into the park. Green Gate was Cascade's outdoor concert venue, a terraced hillside overlooking the bay just south of town. There were no seats, just a stage and a broad expanse of lawn for blankets and lawn chairs. Trees along the back and sides of the park formed a natural barrier to the sights and sounds of the city.

"Hurry, Jim, it's filling up down front!" Blair was tugging at his shirt, trying to pull him towards the stage area at the bottom of the hill. He almost lost his balance when Jim dug in his heels and refused to move.

"Sandburg," he said, "Do you see the size of the speakers down there? Are you trying to kill me?"

Blair looked toward the stage and noticed for the first time the 10 foot speakers on either side of the stage. He turned slowly, and noted more speakers in the trees, and along the rear of the hillside. "Oh, yeah. But there are speakers all over. What do you suggest?"

Jim did a slow survey of the park, focusing his vision on the sides of the concert grounds where the woods began. He finally saw a grassy area towards the rear, with several trees and only one small speaker hanging from a branch some distance away. There were a few people already setting up camp nearby, but not enough that it would feel crowded.

"Follow me." Without waiting for agreement, Jim started off toward the area he'd staked out, threading his way through the blankets and lawn chairs that were already set out. When he reached his spot of choice, he set the cooler down and waited for Blair to catch up.

Blair's reaction to Jim's choice was predictable. "Jim, we can't see anything from here! We probably can't even hear from here!" He lowered his voice automatically to add, "Only a Sentinel would like this spot."

"Yes, we can. There's a speaker right over there, there's a video screen over the stage, and you have binoculars. You'll be fine." At Blair's grumble, he added gently, "Besides, Chief, this way I can enjoy it, too."

Blair turned and looked at him, taking in that small look of pleading that was almost hidden in Jim's tough guy face. "OK, Jim. This'll be fine," he relented, as Jim knew he would. //And I didn't even have to bat my eyelashes at him.//

-----------------------

After two hours of jazz, rock, roasted chicken, apple pie, and most of a bottle of white wine, Jim was having a fine time. He was sitting cross-legged on one of Blair's blankets, leaning back against a broad tree trunk, and listening contentedly to the music from the stage. All in all, he really was enjoying this, although he hadn't yet admitted it to Sandburg.

His body was tingling slightly from the wine, and his head was awash with the smell of pheromones that filled the air. Apparently this was a choice spot for couples desiring a little privacy. At least three pairs within 20 feet were doing some heavy groping under their blankets. A soft moan from one of the moving lumps caught his attention momentarily and he had to shake his head to avoid focusing too closely.

The alcohol, coupled with the over-stimulation of his ears and nose left him unable to concentrate completely. He thought of mentioning it to Sandburg, but was afraid his Guide might make them leave. Instead, he jumped from one sense to another, trying to avoid using any of them for very long. //So why were they all focusing on Blair?// Even separated by a few feet, he could smell his Guide's shampoo, hear his teeth clicking against each other, see him --

Shivering. It was almost dark, and the warmth of the early fall day had long since disappeared. He saw Sandburg searching through the duffel bag he had been using as a backrest. He pulled out several more blankets, draped one across his shoulders and placed another over his lap and crossed legs. The last one he offered to Jim, who took it with a smile of thanks. And somehow, in the arranging of the blankets, Blair had ended up a little closer to him. Jim watched his Guide follow a familiar routine of trying to share some of his body heat. He even thought for a moment that he was the one who had pulled Blair closer, but dismissed it as a delusion of his currently fuzzy state of mind.

Jim felt Blair still shivering under the additional blankets, and marveled at just how cold one person could be all the time. He saw his friend clutch the blanket tightly around his shoulders, trying to hold it close to capture his remaining warmth, but clearly not finding it to be sufficient.

A small shuffle of his hips and he was closer still to Jim. A few more minutes went by and Sandburg scooted again, his thigh touching Jim's. Shaking his head, Jim pulled his blanket off his lap, and pulled it around his shoulders. He reached out an arm, opening himself to Blair. Blair glanced at him in surprise, but quickly insinuated himself under Jim's arm.

"Thanks," he said gratefully, rearranging the lap blankets to cover them both.

Jim draped his arm across Blair's shoulders and gave a quick squeeze, using his other hand to grab Blair's wrist and pull it onto his lap, trapping it against his thigh. Feeling the expected chill in his Guide's hand, he started to rub the back of it briskly with his own large palm. "I could feel you shivering. Besides, I was afraid if you tried to get any closer, you'd end up in my lap, Chief."

Blair squeezed the thigh under his hand and chuckled. "You wish, Ellison," and turned his attention back to the stage, watching the emcee introduce a new band.

Jim turned his attention the same way, absently continuing to rub Blair's hand. //Zydeco? What the hell is Zydeco music?// A high pitched whine from the group's opening number made him shudder and he quickly turned his hearing down, jumping to smell, and nearly drowning in the flood of arousal from the couples around him. He desperately sorted through the stimulation and found a familiar scent and followed it back to Blair. He smelled like peppermint and rain and almonds. He smelled like home.

Breathing shallowly, he reached out and found Blair's heart, thumping in its steady, accustomed beat. //Blair. Blair will keep me safe.// Straining to extend his sense of touch, he felt Blair's shoulder under his hand, chilly and dancing under his palm. Jim could feel the minuscule tremors that racked Blair's skin, his body trying to generate enough heat to keep itself warm. The shivers were so small, Jim doubted his Guide could even feel them.

Jim turned his senses to the warming hand beneath his. He could feel each of Blair's fingers branding his thigh where they rested. Sweeping his hand up the wrist, he could feel the steadfast rhythm of moving blood. Warm and full of life. The heart that pushed it sent out its compelling tattoo through Blair's wrist to Jim's fingers, and seemed to rise to his brain, inundating it with sensory images and slowing his cognitive processes.

There was only Blair. And him. //Were they one and the same?//

Jim was drowning. He mistakenly took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind. The musky odors about him rushed into his mouth and lungs, his mind tumbling down with the heat pooling in his groin. His cock was hardening with need -- to be touched, held, loved. He shook his head, trying to fight the neediness before it overwhelmed him completely. The move had little effect on the fog in his brain, or the heat in his groin. //No, wait. That feels better.// The pain was easing a bit, his head clearing and his mind sharpening. Jim looked around to see what had changed, what had helped him focus.

He was shocked to see the cause. He apparently had pulled Blair's hand from where it was resting on his thigh, and had moved it down to cover his crotch. Mortification flooded through him, but not before his brain registered how good it felt, how right it seemed to have Blair touching him. He was holding Blair's palm against his swollen dick, and his Guide's fingers were very gently cradling his balls. In the instant that he had to feel it, to treasure it, it was the feeling of completeness that hit him the hardest. It was the sweetness of Blair's touch, the warmth that filled his entire body, the jolt of electricity that he felt when the circuit between them was completed.

All those thoughts and sensations flashed through him in an millisecond, and when it was over, he did the impossible. He lifted Blair's hand off his cock, and placed it very gently back on his partner's knee. He let it go cleanly, removing his hand without lingering. He felt as though someone had taken an ax and chopped him in half.

He couldn't look at Blair. He couldn't bear to see the shock and disgust that he knew had to be on his Guide's face. //Oh, God. Oh, my God. Blair.// Just the thought of his name was enough to rekindle that sense of completeness he had felt a few moments ago. He wished he could share this with his partner. //Sandburg would be fascinated.//

Jim couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from his boots. They were his favorite hiking boots. //They could use a shine. They --//

A set of warm, strong fingers were grasping his chin, pulling it to his left, forcing him to turn his head toward Blair. "Jim, look at me."

"Can't." His voice was soft, lost.

"Jim, c'mon, look at me. I need to ask you something."

Jim slowly raised his eyes. Blair's hand moved from his chin to cover his cheek with a warm palm, and the eyes that met Jim's were serious and a little scared. "Did you feel that?"

//Did I feel that? Did I feel that?!// "Feel what?" was all he could bring himself to ask. He could feel Blair staring into his eyes, trying to learn the truth. He watched Blair study him, and felt a great sense of relief when he saw the wonder and joy move across his Guide's face.

"You did," Blair exclaimed in triumph. "You felt it, too. That connection between us. The circle closing, the circuit complete."

Jim was too afraid to believe that Blair was interpreting things the same way that he did. "But what does it mean?"

"Jim, think about it for a moment. Two men, friends, who've never thought of each other as possible lovers, and yet there is this sense of rightness the first time they touch each other sexually. Why?"

The detective tried to distance himself a bit from this conversation with the only weapon he could summon: sarcasm. "Don't tell me. It's a Sentinel thing."

"Yes! That's the only explanation for it, Jim. It has to be. Sentinel and Guide. There's got to be a biological imperative that keeps them together. Something that makes one reach for the other before anyone else. That almost excludes any other possible lovers."

"So you're saying that you were meant for me, and I was meant for you?" The sarcasm was still there, but tinged with a tiny bit of longing that Jim hoped Blair wouldn't detect.

"No Jim, don't be stupid. If I weren't your Guide, you wouldn't have looked at me twice. Some elegant woman would be sitting here beside you, if you would have brought her here." Blair gave a sigh of exasperation. "Sentinel and Guide are meant to be mates. That's the information you're seeking.

What you do with it is up to you." With that, Blair took his hand from Jim's face and placed both hands calmly in his lap.

Jim stared straight ahead for a few minutes, not noticing either the music from the stage or the people around them. He tried hard to organize his thoughts to ask Blair what he needed to know. There was so much crowding his brain at the moment. //Does Blair love me? Is he the one I want? What the hell do I do now?//

"Chief?"

"Yes, Jim?"

"Why now? Why after three years?"

Blair chuckled. "Well, you've never put my hand on your cock before."

"But you've touched me before."

Blair considered this for a few moments before answering, "Well, I guess it's kind of a mating trigger. It's probably the tactical experience of touching the genitals. You know, it awakens your awareness of your Guide. Or your Sentinel."

//Mating trigger? Good Lord!// Silence stretched out between them as Jim tried to process what Sandburg was telling him. "So what are we supposed to do about this?"

"Beats me. I mean, it's not like we've been pining for each other and are ready to leap into bed, right?"

There was a brief moment of hesitation. "Right. But can we ignore it? Will it go away?"

Blair took another few moments to think. "I doubt it, man. It's my guess that once the mating trigger has been activated, it colors the whole Sentinel/Guide relationship. I think that if we try to stop this, I won't be an effective Guide for you anymore."

Jim was shocked into movement at that point. He turned to Blair with a look of horror on his face. "No! That can't happen. You're my Guide."

Blair's hand went to his partner's back and started rubbing a slow circle underneath the blanket. "It's okay, big guy. We'll figure something out."

"Like what?"

Blair leaned against Jim and let his head fall to the broad shoulder next to him. "Well, I think we need to take the next step. Try something. See if it's what we want and then decide what we need."

Jim still had a million questions running through his mind, but couldn't bring himself to ask what would happen if they didn't like it. Or if they did. Or even what "it" should be. When he could answer Blair, it was almost in a whisper. "Okay."

Blair snuggled up a little closer to his Sentinel. "Okay, Jim. Everything will be okay, you'll see."

Still whispering, but leaning a little closer to Blair, Jim asked, "So, now what?"

"So now we take care of this problem you still have." Reaching down under the blanket on their laps, Blair's hand found the outline of Jim's still-erect cock in its denim wrapping. He cupped it gently, and gave it an exploratory squeeze.

"Sandburg!" Jim choked out with a start. "We're in public here, surrounded by thousands of people!"

"So?" Blair answered softly. "No one can see anything, we're both covered by blankets. If you'll just stay still and not make any noise, no one will know anything."

"I'm a cop, Blair. I can't -"

"Yes, you can." Blair's voice with firm, with a hint of Guide-tone creeping in. "It's important that we do this, right here and right now. We have to know the answer." He rubbed a soothing hand up and down Jim's thigh. "It'll be all right, Jim. I promise."

As usual, Jim surrendered himself into his Guide's hands, knowing implicitly that he was safe. That Blair would keep him safe. He pulled the blankets more securely around the two of them and rested his weight lightly against Blair's shoulder.

Nimble fingers released his jeans and drew out his aching erection. Fingers danced up and down the hard length, leaving fire in their wake. Blair seemed to know instinctively where to caress and where to press, bringing him to the edge almost immediately. A thumb stroked the damp head, flicking the slit gently, making Jim tremble, while the fingers cupped and squeezed him. Jim could feel Blair's fingerprints, each whorl a soft scrape of stimulation across the tender skin of his penis. He felt like Blair's fingers were memorizing him, storing information for future use.

Jim gasped softly when Blair shifted to take a firmer hold on his cock. It was surrounded now, with Blair's fingers encircling its width and the base of his palm brushing his scrotum. In spite of his fears of being arrested for having sex in public, he had never felt safer; here, being held by Blair. He reached over and put his hand on his partner's shoulder beneath the blanket, just so he could wrap a hand around those curls at long last.

Jim wondered briefly how it was that he could isolate a single sense when all of them were overloaded at once. He could barely breathe or think, but he could feel the currents of electricity that shot through his body every time Blair moved his hand. He thought he heard the quiet rustle of leaves above him and the stifled moans from the blankets around them. The music was slowly filtering out, distant and fuzzy, all fading in comparison to the whispers of his Guide, his Blair.

Blair's breath sounded heavy and damp in his ear, soft words caressing his neck, flowing over his face. "C'mon, Jim. Do it for me. Let it go, baby, and come for me. I want to see your face. I want to feel your cum all over my hand. I want to know I gave you that pleasure." Blair tightened his hand around Jim, giving his cock a little twist as he pumped it up and down. "C'mon, big guy, let it come. Come for me. Let me have you."

Jim groaned and leaned back against the tree trunk. It was too much: Blair's voice, his touch, his smell filling his head. When Blair accelerated his hand movements yet again, Jim moaned softly and let go of what little control remained. He tracked the tightening of his balls, the eruption of his semen, its flow up his cock, and Blair's siphoning to pull every last drop out of him. The only things that registered in Jim's mind were the exquisite pleasure of the orgasm, and the equal pleasure of Blair's voice filling his head. They seemed to merge in his overwhelmed mind. The sound of his Guide's voice triggered his orgasm. The sexual ecstasy of his orgasm was Blair.

"That's it, Jim," Blair murmured in his ear. "Give it all to me." Blair had caught most of the semen on his fingers, and rubbed it back onto Jim's cock as his erection softened and he remembered to breathe. Then the molten heat of Blair's hand was missing, and Jim opened his eyes to find his Guide licking his fingertips, running a warm pointed tongue over his palm, erasing the last bits of Jim from his hand. Before he could finish, Jim grabbed Blair's wrist, and pulled it to his own mouth. He drew each finger in turn into his mouth, sucking them clean, unable to tear his eyes from his Guide's. This sharing of his semen seemed to create a bond of its own, one that Jim was suddenly anxious to bring full circle.

"Chief, let me..."

"No, Jim. Let's go home, OK?"

"Whatever you want, Chief." And it was just that simple.

Jim pulled his clothes back together, and pushed himself off the ground, using the tree trunk for leverage. Balancing on still shaky legs, he reached out a hand to help his partner stand. Blair straightened, and took advantage of his proximity to Jim to lean briefly against his chest. "You okay, Jim?"

"Fine. Confused." Jim shrugged and smiled down at his friend. "Happy."

"Don't worry, big guy. We'll figure it all out when we get home."

Together, they picked up the blankets and folded them, their hands brushing at every opportunity. Jim watched as Blair gathered up their belongings, packing everything away with quick, efficient movements. He still felt like he was in a bit of a daze, but it was impossible not to notice the brilliant smile on Blair's face.

"So, Jim, you want to come back for the second half of the concert tomorrow night?"

Jim looked at him fondly, weighing his answer and making Blair wait for his response. "Sure, Chief," he said with a smile. "Just remember to bring the blankets."

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Disclaimer: These characters belong to PetFly and the author makes no claims upon them - no copyright infrigement is intended. This story is for entertainment purposes only and there is no monetary gain.