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Summary: In a moment of vulnerability, Blair inadvertently lets something slip.

Author's Note: Written for the 101st challenge at [livejournal.com profile] sentinel_thurs.

Rating: Non-explicit.

by Fluterbev

July 2005

Hypersensitized - that was the description he’d been searching for. This, he imagined, was how Jim felt sometimes, when his sense of touch was on overload.

Oh man, how did he stand it?

Even the brush of air over his skin hurt, so the hands, when they seized him again, were like branding irons. Agony; sheer, scorching agony, and he cried out, trying to fight them off. But they only held on more tightly, the burning restraint robbing him of breath with which to scream. Trying to see who his tormenters were only made the flickering lights around him more blinding, and for a moment as he struggled in their grasp, he lost sense of up and down and even, for a second, of who he was.

But then he heard The Voice, and remembered. “Hey, there’s no need to use those. Blair trusts me - I’ll stay with him.” Jim, his memory supplied. And Jim wouldn’t let anyone hurt him – he knew that, better than he knew his own name – although Jim’s words had helped him remember that too.

“Sir, if he’s not restrained he could hurt himself-”

“I’ll make sure he doesn’t.” Categoric, final.

The fight had gone out of Blair, the second he’d perceived the safety implied by Jim’s words. And as he relaxed, the confining hands fell away, fading like petals disintegrating into ashes. The awful beauty of that image transfixed him, until another pair of hands formed out of the light - living things born out of the ashes of their predecessors. They moved toward him, filling his vision, and he studied them wonderingly as they came closer. Fine boned, fair, long fingered. A living paradox; tender, yet strong – hands that were equally capable of gently easing a hurt or violently snapping a neck.

“Easy, Chief,” The Voice – Jim’s voice – soothed, as the hands came closer, reaching out. “You’re gonna be okay.”

Like a flower lifting its head toward the sun, Blair looked away from the encroaching hands of his savior and toward the sound of his voice instead, basking in the life-giving warmth which emanated from him. Jim’s face was bathed in light, his smile transcendent. “Wow,” Blair breathed, awed.

“Hey,” Jim said, his voice gentle as summer rain; cooling, caressing. “Let’s get you up off the floor, huh?”

The floor? What floor? Frowning, Blair looked around, seeing only the ethereal, shimmering glow surrounding him – above, around, underneath, as though he was inside a sunbeam, floating on a cushion of sunlight. He made a questioning noise as Jim’s hands grasped his and pulled, feeling the unexpected resistance of solidity beneath him as he endured the sensation of being hauled upright.

Jim’s hands in his burned, although not like the others had done – the tingle in his palms was pleasant, and oddly arousing. Blair smiled at Jim’s luminous face, which was now inches from his own, Jim’s lips drawing his gaze. They looked so inviting, and if he were to lean forward just a little bit, he’d be able to capture them, and finally find out what they felt like…

He was a mere hair’s breadth away from his target when Jim moved, and Blair felt himself being propelled along. “Come on, Sandburg,” the other man said. “Let’s get you into bed.”

“Oh, yeah!” Blair could live with that. “Wow, Jim! I’ve always wanted to go to bed with you.” It seemed he hadn’t been alone in his secret fantasy after all. “You too, huh?” Blair was being lowered down now, and he went with it, trusting Jim not to let him fall through the clouds.

“Me too, what?” Jim asked, as Blair gradually reclined onto something soft.

Blair chuckled. “You know what I mean,” he said suggestively, looking up at the shining wonder that was Jim; his idol. “I love you, man!”

“Yeah, Chief. I know.” Jim was frowning, his hands doing something with the clouds that made them look like bed sheets. “I love you too.”

Jim's expression – which seemed now to be one of mild disapproval - caused a rush of sudden anxiety in Blair, damping his ardor as effectively as a downpour on a forest fire, as his desire was swept away in a flash flood of sorrow and insecurity. “What…” he breathed miserably, “What did I do wrong?”

“Nothing.” Jim’s voice was firm. He came close, his eyes hot, blue fire. “You’ve done nothing wrong, Blair.”

But despite the sincerity in Jim’s voice, the anxiety remained. This was wrong – all of it. Blair didn’t understand why, but he knew it. “Jim?” he queried, and to his dismay, he perceived darkness on the fringes of the sunlight. Sudden fear of what might be lurking there made his voice shake. “What’s going on, man?”

One of Jim’s beautiful hands loomed large in his sight, and it tingled almost unendurably where it palmed his cheek. “Settle down,” Jim said, and the gentleness in his voice and touch filled Blair to the brim with gratitude that despite whatever it was that Blair had done, and however unworthy he was of Jim’s love, Jim still cared for him. “It’s all right, partner. You’re going to be fine.”

Blair swallowed, trying to reclaim the security and ecstatic happiness he had felt in Jim’s presence just a moment ago. But he was too ashamed of his inadequacy, and too afraid of the shadows and the things that moved there, watching. A tear escaped, then a choked sob. Looking up at Jim helplessly, more aware than ever of the other man’s perfection in the face of his own flaws, Blair silently begged for understanding.

Jim gave it without question. Blair felt himself tugged upright again, Jim’s arms going around him. He could feel Jim’s shoulder against his face, and he burrowed there, knowing instinctively that here, the darkness could not get him. He was being rocked, cradled in the arms of a god, and the world rumbled like thunder as Jim spoke. “I’ve got you,” his voice boomed. “Just relax.”

“I’m scared.” Stripped bare of dignity, Blair’s voice was small, his insignificance profound in the lee of Jim’s overwhelming presence.

A gentle hand stroked his hair. “It’s okay,” Jim said. “Trust me, Chief. I’m not letting go.”

Blair drifted for what felt like a long while, Jim’s embrace a haven and a sanctuary, and his reassuring voice bringing Blair the nearest to heaven he had ever been. The darkness and the things in it circled them, occasionally getting so close that Blair could feel their eyes upon him and hear their voices, but Jim didn’t permit them to touch him. And hearing Jim vanquish foes with the power of his voice, Blair knew he’d gladly give anything, if only he could remain here, safe in Jim’s arms, forever.

But eventually, to his dismay, the heat of Jim’s proximity became cloying, and the constant rocking began to be a torment instead of a comfort. Swallowing convulsively, Blair pulled back, the encroaching darkness creating black spots in his vision, and the taste of acid in his mouth. “Oh man…” was all the warning he had opportunity to give, before bile erupted from his mouth convulsively.

There was a tray under his chin suddenly and, helpless in the throes of sickness, Blair was grateful for his partner’s fast reflexes as he painfully emptied his guts into it. It seemed to go on for ever, and Blair was a shuddering, exhausted wreck by the time the spasms eased.

In the aftermath, Blair’s vertigo was such that he was not even aware that he was lying down, until he felt a cool cloth wiping the sweat from his face and neck, which helped him to come back to himself a little. A straw appeared at his lips, and he drank thirstily, his mouth dry and foul with vomit.

He drifted again, conscious of time passing but having no way to measure it, until the sensation of gentle fingers at his hairline, stroking the hair back from his forehead, brought him back to awareness. Somehow he found the courage to open his eyes. It was Jim who was tending to him, of course. His friend looked mortal again; the glow which had earlier deified him and obscured the ordinary reality of the world having receded sufficiently for Blair to make out that they were in a room, and not hovering somewhere above the clouds after all.

Jim was watching him tiredly. Perhaps perceiving Blair’s comprehension of his surroundings, a faint smile touched the corners of his mouth. “Hey,” he said. “You back with me?”

Blair blinked slowly, contemplating Jim’s question. “I think so.” His voice was scratchy, roughened by sickness. “Uh,” he tried to form a coherent thought, and glanced around, finding himself in depressingly familiar surroundings. “Hospital, right?” he deduced.

Jim nodded. “You remember what happened?” he asked.

Blair tried, but all he remembered was the glorious sunlight, drenching everything in golden splendor, and his terror of the monsters lurking in the shadows. He shuddered, and felt Jim’s hand grasp his. “Not really,” he admitted, emboldened by Jim’s touch. “I feel pretty weird, man.” He knew, intellectually, that he was in hospital bed. But the shadows still scared him.

“I’m sure you do,” Jim reassured, his thumb stroking over Blair’s knuckles. “We were out celebrating Rafe’s birthday. Someone spiked your drink with a hallucinogen. You’ve had one hell of a trip, partner.”

“Oh,” Blair digested that revelation for a moment, reminded predictably of another case they’d worked together a few years ago - before he’d become a cop - when he’d ended up in similar straits. “Like, uh, that other time? With the golden?”

Jim smiled grimly. “Not as bad, although it might not seem that way to you, since you were conscious through more of it this time. You didn’t get enough to overdose, but you still reacted pretty badly.”

Blair nodded, acknowledging the likelihood of that. He’d long ago decided to avoid drugs of all kinds, ever since his youthful experimentation with cannabis had led him to the conclusion that even mild mind-altering substances tended to make him overly paranoid.

Jim carried on with the tale. “Some idiot in the bar realized that the place was full of cops. He decided to get rid of the last of his stash by putting it in the nearest bottle, which just happened to be yours. The effects hit you pretty fast, and lucky for you, I could smell the narcotic on your breath and in your drink. I knew what had happened right away, and got you to the E.R. pretty fast. The doc decided that the least harmful thing to do was to keep you under medical supervision, and let it work its way out of your system naturally.”

Well, Blair thought, still feeling utterly drained from his vomiting bout earlier, it had certainly been doing just that. As for the rest of it, Blair didn’t really remember anything about it at all. “What happened to the guy?” he asked curiously.

“Are you kidding?” Jim shook his head. “Every single cop at the party was lining up to arrest the asshole. In the end, they decided to let Connor have him. I don’t think he’ll do anything that stupid again in a hurry.”

“Ouch.” He and Jim shared a knowing look. The poor guy - Blair almost felt sorry for him.

Jim, Blair realized, looked worn out. “Hey, man,” he said. “How long have we been here?”

Jim shrugged. “A few hours,” he said. “It’s nearly morning.”

“You should go home, get some sleep. I’ll be okay now.” As the words left his mouth, Blair’s eyes drifted unbidden to the dark corners of the room, then snapped back to look at his friend. Stop it, he told himself firmly. There’s nothing there, you wuss.

Jim smiled, his hand tightening on Blair’s. “I may as well stay. They’ll probably let you out in a while, anyway. Easier for me than going home, only to get woken up after a couple of hours to come back and get you.”

“Oh.” Blair blinked. “Okay. Whatever’s easiest for you, man.” But he couldn’t help the relief which flooded him, all the same.

Jim didn’t seem in any hurry to let go of Blair’s hand, and Blair was still feeling a bit too out of it to protest. Instead, he let his eyes drift shut, losing himself in the reassuring sensation of Jim’s thumb rubbing reassuringly over his knuckles.

Man, he thought, as he drifted off into a natural sleep at long last. I hope I didn’t do anything too embarrassing.

The End

Comments are welcome, but absolutely not necessary - all of my stories are offered freely and without obligation. If you do wish to comment below please sign your name/pseudonym if you are not logged-in to Dreamwidth or Open ID, or alternatively you can email me at fluterbev@gmail.com

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