The sizzling beef was brought to Blair’s table and he inhaled the rich, smoky scent of it hungrily. His friend and fellow Anthro student, Carla, sat across from him and ogled her huge plate of fire-roasted chicken.
“Are we supposed to eat this or sacrifice it to the gods?” she asked with a laugh as she further contemplated her meal.
Blair laughed and opened up his napkin, spreading it on his lap with an efficient wave of his hands. “I don’t know,” he answered, “but the gods would be psyched to get this, let me tell you!”
Carla agreed and picked up her glass of wine. “Here’s to the successful end of finals,” she declared, inclining it toward Blair.
“Here, here, and amen!” he smiled, taking a sip of his Merlot after the ceremonial ‘clink’. He made an appreciative sound as he set it back down and picked up his fork and steak knife, preparing to settle into some serious eating.
It was a well-known fact that if you wanted authentic, hearty, no nonsense fare from South America, you had to go to Enqueri’s, the dark, comfortable restaurant on Catalina Boulevard. Blair loved indulging himself every once in a while. It was on the high end of affordable – just enough to turn it into an occasional splurge as opposed to a hangout. But with the oversized servings, it was well worth the money; he could always count on getting a couple of meals out of anything he ordered. He sometimes went for lunch, when he could pick up a couple of empanadas or some fish soup to take back to campus, or, on long days, enjoy a break in one of the comfortable and traditionally decorated rooms.
The style of those rooms was a big reason he enjoyed the eatery, in fact. There were two of them, one a deep, earthy red and the other a rich dark green, both with masks, photographs and other tribal artifacts adorning the walls. The décor was subtle and welcoming, and whoever put it together – Blair assumed it was the owner, Jim Ellison – did it with style, class and respect. The anthropologist in Blair got a little thrill every time he took a trip to the place. He felt at home there, and the fact that the food was peerless was simply a bonus. Enqueri’s always received the highest honors when it came to food, cleanliness and service, and was continually cited as one of Cascade’s best places to dine. It was a tightly run ship, no doubt about it. Blair felt it was a perfect place to celebrate the end of a stressful semester.
“How’s your chicken?” he asked with a mouthful of savory plantain.
Carla simply rolled her eyes in ecstasy and shook her head as she finished chewing. “There are no words,” she said finally, laughing and spearing a scorched potato.
Blair nodded and sipped more wine. “Unreal, isn’t it, all the flavors?” he sliced another piece of tender steak and savored it happily. “A little bit o’ heaven, right here in Cascade!”
The two laughed and Carla picked up her glass and echoed Blair’s earlier words, “Here, here, and amen!”
A voice interrupted their laughter, appearing at the side of their table just as Blair had a forkful of mixed greens halfway to his mouth.
“How is everything this evening?” the voice said.
Both diners looked up and Blair nearly dropped his fork.
Jim sat in his office looking over the inventory list given to him by his head chef. Combining that list with the one for dining room and cleaning supplies, he was able to get a more accurate idea of how much of the budget would need to be spent for the week. Because he was a man whose senses were incredibly strong, he often heard what was needed through conversations his workers had with each other, but lists always supplied the items he didn’t hear. Those same senses provided him with knowledge about the freshness of his food, plus the cleanliness of his kitchen and public spaces, affording him the ability to keep his place at the highest possible standards for a restaurant. His enhanced abilities had often bothered him in the past, but in the last several years, they’d served him well.
Setting aside his lists, he put on his suit coat and left his office for his favorite part of the job – interacting with his patrons. He walked slowly among the diners, asking about their food and drinks, smiling with unwavering charm, expressing genuine concern about their experiences. There were some regulars he remembered by name, even remembering the names of their children. Generally speaking, people were very satisfied with Enqueri’s, but on the rare occasion that someone wasn’t, Jim was there, ready and willing to set everything right. He had the admirable ability to be a canny and attentive businessman, while still being a good friend, a stern but understanding boss and a gracious host.
As he approached a particularly animated table, he noticed that neither the woman, nor the man she sat with were customers he’d seen before. He wondered if they’d ever been to the restaurant and decided he’d ask.
“How is everything this evening?”
They both looked up at him, but it was the strikingly handsome man that gave him a start. It had been years since he felt sparks like that, and looking into those intense blue eyes, his breath momentarily caught in his throat. He collected himself and put on his professional face, smiling warmly, wanting immediately to discover more about this man.
“Everything is great!” came Carla’s cheery response.
“Yeah, it’s…” Blair faltered as he looked at the polished and fine-looking man and felt his face flush slightly, “really fantastic. Compliments to the chef,” he finished, raising his water glass in a salute.
Jim’s gaze lingered briefly on Blair, and then he held out a hand to him. “Thank you, I’ll be sure to pass that along. I’m Jim, is this your first time here?” He shook Carla’s hand then clasped his own behind his back.
Blair and Carla’s responses stumbled erratically over each other, but then Carla spoke first, “Well, for me, yes. I’ve had food from here before, but I’ve never eaten here. Blair’s been here, though.” Something about Jim made her want to giggle and bat her eyelashes. But she realized pretty quickly that although the urge was strong, it would have little effect on the handsome man, if the way he looked at Blair were any indication. He was friendly and respectful to both of them, but he was clearly on a mission.
“Uh, I’ve been here before, yeah, a few times,” Blair responded, smiling. “I sometimes come in and get lunch. Once in a blue moon, I’ll have dinner here.”
“Really?” Jim said, a smile on his own lips, “I’m usually pretty good about noticing and remembering customers. Maybe you came in on those few occasions when I wasn’t here.”
Blair nodded and gave a small shrug, never taking his eyes off those of the restaurant’s proprietor, “It’s possible.”
“I’m a bit of a workaholic,” Jim said apologetically as he turned to Carla. “I’m almost always here. I like being accessible, you know? I like to see who’s coming here and talk to them,” here, he looked back at Blair. “It keeps me on my toes.”
“Well, it shows, man. This is a great place,” Blair enthused, “I figured it was probably the best place to relax after finals, you know? South American comfort food!” he chuckled.
Jim’s face brightened in understanding. “You’re over at Rainier, then?” At their nods, he continued, “What are you studying?”
“We’re both getting our doctorates in Anthropology,” Carla answered around a small bite of chicken. “Almost done.”
“Oh, anthropology, huh? Right, Professor Buckner comes in every once in a while. Give him my regards, will you?” He smiled genuinely. “Well, thanks for choosing my place to celebrate and congratulations to both of you,” he held out his hand again. “It was so nice to meet you… Blair, is it?” he looked down into the curly-haired man’s face questioningly.
Blair sipped some wine and responded quickly, “Yeah, Blair Sandburg,” he said with a firm handshake and a sincere smile.
Jim nodded and looked at Carla, “And…?”
She took his hand and gripped it once, “Carla Wakefield. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jim. Don’t work too hard, huh?”
The tall man laughed, “I’ll try not to! Listen, if there’s anything I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here for the rest of the evening.” He laid a hand on each of their shoulders, “You guys come back soon, all right?”
The diners assured him they would and thanked him again, then watched him walk across the room toward the bar. The table was suddenly silent, but then Carla inhaled deeply and let out a sound somewhere between a sigh and a laugh. Blair’s overheated mind was running a mile a minute and he broke out into a light sweat all over his body. Jim – that beautiful, sky-blue-eyed owner of one of Cascade’s best restaurants had thrown him for a loop, taking his insides for a nice little spin. He grinned and cut another piece of meat and chewed it slowly. “He seemed like a nice guy,” he said.
Carla scooped up a forkful of caramelized onions as she looked through her lashes at her dinner companion. She smiled a small, amused smile and replied, “Yeah, very nice.”
Blair sat at the mirrored, well stocked bar, sipping a small margarita and wondering what the hell he was doing back at Enqueri’s. He’d been in his office doing some research and figured since it was way past time for dinner, he’d go and get a bite to eat. But somehow, the thirty-five thousand other restaurants within a block of the U didn’t seem to hold any appeal. Once he stepped into the dimly lit reception area, however, his appetite was swiftly halved and he opted to get a snack at the bar instead. He ordered a salad, and when it came, he picked up his fork and munched nervously on it, waiting. Secretly hoping. He found himself glancing constantly into the mirror as he ate, and about two-thirds of the way through, decided he could stand it no longer. He reached into his pocket for his wallet, and froze when he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Blair? Hey, good to see you!”
In spite of the fact that he’d wanted Jim to appear – whether he admitted it or not - Blair was still startled when he finally did. He’d been ready to bolt, deciding that he’d misread the heat in Jim’s eyes, that there was no way he could tell that man with a straight face that he’d come back only for food, that this was all just stupid and he should leave before he got busted.
Well, and there he was. Busted and grinning like a dork.
“Jim, how’s it going?”
The second they looked at each other, he knew he’d misread nothing. The attraction was still clearly there. Not lust, not yet, but attraction certainly. Interest, definitely. A desire to know more. Jim gave him a smile that made him want to disintegrate and then set down his leather satchel. Blair glanced at the well-crafted bag before looking back at him.
“You heading out?”
“Yep, calling it a night, I think,” he answered slowly. He sat on a stool next to Blair and put his elbow on the bar. “So, two Fridays in a row, huh? Wish all my customers were as loyal as you.”
“Ah, well,” Blair looked away shyly, grinning and fighting the urge to say what it was that really brought him. He decided to go with a half-truth, “No one else has tangerine margaritas. You have a top-notch bar staff, man.”
“Well, that’s good to hear,” Jim said with a smile. He noticed Blair’s wallet on the bar. “You leaving, too?”
Blair looked at the wallet that he’d nearly forgotten was there. “Yeah,” he replied absently. He looked again at Jim, and suddenly thought, ‘This is ridiculous.’ “Yeah, I am,” he said with more authority. “Want to grab a cup of coffee with me? I mean, if you’re tired, I completely -”
“I’d love it,” Jim said, forestalling Blair’s train of thought. “Got a place in mind?”
The pleasure was evident in Blair’s face and it was Jim’s turn to get a bit bashful. He grinned and reached for the glass of water his bartender had set in front of him and took a small drink.
“Ever been to the Flying Saucer around the corner?” asked Blair as he opened his wallet and pulled out a twenty. He could not stop smiling.
Jim watched as Blair laid the money on the bar and answered, “I’ve gone in for a coffee once or twice, but I’ve never actually sat at a table. They always seem to be playing good music, though.” He paused, glancing again at the cash sitting on the polished wood. “Um,” he began hesitantly, “Do you mind… I mean, would you feel awkward if I paid for this?” he gestured to the unfinished salad and cocktail.
Blair looked at him curiously and considered the offer. “Will you let me buy you coffee?” he asked softly.
“Then knock yourself out.”
Jim laughed and Blair was a little surprised to see him pull a twenty out of his own wallet and give it to him. He’d assumed that Jim would simply tell the bartender to put it on some sort of tab or something, but the fact that he actually paid for it, gave Blair an unexpected sense of satisfaction. He slipped the bill into his wallet and folded it into his pocket as he climbed off the barstool and picked up his jacket.
“Okay?” Jim asked, inclining his head toward the door and picking up his satchel.
“Let’s go,” Blair answered, then smiled as he followed his date out the door.
That Sunday, they’d gone to an art gallery reception, and afterwards, again for coffee. Wednesday was a Mariners’ game and, this time, it had been a movie. Blair noted with amusement that neither of them ever suggested going to a restaurant, which made him wonder what kinds of places restaurateurs went when they wanted to eat out. Oddly, the topic never came up in all the time they’d spent together. He sat in the passenger seat and chuckled to himself as Jim drove him home from the film. Jim had volunteered to pick him up because his apartment was between Jim’s place and the theater, and Blair couldn’t have been more thrilled about that. He liked sitting next to him, watching him drive and discerning things about him from the vehicle he drove (a dark teal Ford Explorer) and the condition in which he kept it (clean and neat, but not showroom-ready). He also decided that he liked this ‘casual’ Jim – the man who was stunning in a suit and tie was flat out devastating in jeans and a sweater. He looked over and took a nice, leisurely perusal, wondering how Jim would feel if he just leaned into his space and licked his ear while he was driving.
“What?” Jim smiled, keeping his eyes on the road.
“You’re staring at me,” his voice held a faint undertone of wonder as he looked briefly at Blair and back to the intersection he was about to turn through. “What?”
“Was I staring?” Blair asked in mock innocence while his eyes continued to rove Jim’s body. “Sorry.”
Jim tapped Blair’s thigh with the back of his hand in a ‘cut it out’ gesture. “Don’t even try it. What were you laughing about a minute ago, anyway?”
Blair reluctantly faced forward again and smiled. “The fact that we’ve gone on four dates and have never been out to dinner,” he gave him a cheeky grin. “Avoiding the competition?”
A somewhat surprised expression crossed Jim’s face and he laughed. “I guess I just hadn’t really thought about it,” he explained. “I’m around food so much, I generally don’t eat out very often. I mean, I…” he glanced somewhat regretfully at Blair. “We can go if you want. I wasn’t intentionally not taking you out-”
“Jim,” Blair interrupted him and laid a hand on his arm, “it’s okay, you know?” he chuckled. “I just think it’s funny, that’s all. Restaurants are common date destinations, and it’s just interesting that as an owner of one, you hadn’t… I don’t know… swept me off to some unknown tiny bistro that serves the creamiest risotto in America or something,” he laughed, and was glad to see the humor return to Jim’s face. “We can stay in and have PB ‘n’ J, for all I care. I’m having fun, all right?” he finished with tender seriousness.
Jim nodded, clearly pleased. “All right,” he answered as he turned onto Blair’s street.
The motion detector switched on the lone floodlight above Blair’s front door when they drove up to the large building, bathing the front of the truck in sudden brightness. Blair turned to Jim when the truck came to a stop and unclasped his seat belt. “Come in for a minute,” he said to him, reaching for the door handle.
“Okay,” Jim replied and cut the engine and headlights.
Jim followed Blair into the converted warehouse and understood immediately why Blair liked his restaurant so much. All around the drafty space, he’d placed a number of paintings, pieces of earthenware, sculptures and carvings, as well as colorful textiles and plants, all clearly from different corners of the world. He had attached a heavy curtain to a beam in the ceiling to create a sleeping area, but otherwise the apartment was simply one huge room. The only place that was architecturally separate was the bathroom.
“My God, do you know what you could do with a space like this?” Jim asked reverently, looking around at the naked potential in such a place.
Blair looked around himself, seeing it through Jim’s eyes, and smiled, “Yeah, I do, actually. I don’t have that kind of money, though. It could be incredible, I know.” He sighed, “Maybe one day, I can really fill it up and make it a little warmer.”
Jim went over to a Peruvian blanket, running his fingers over the rough weave, “You already have some great things in here, though. This, in particular, really brings back memories,” he looked around again. “Quite a collection.”
“Well,” Blair began modestly, “it’s the anthropologist in me. I’m a compulsive collector, I can’t help it!” He walked toward the kitchen, “You want a beer or a soda or anything?”
“Actually, I’d love some water, if that’s all right,” Jim answered, walking around the sofa and sitting on it.
“Water it is,” said Blair as he took the pitcher from the refrigerator and filled two glasses. He brought one to the side table closest to Jim, then took a drink from the other and set it on the coffee table as he sat down.
They picked up right where they’d left off the night before, the conversation bouncing around from topic to topic, going from excited recollections to sedated observations. They moved around constantly while time passed, getting increasingly comfortable as they crossed and uncrossed their legs, clutched and released pillows, went to and returned from the bathroom, and touched occasionally, gently, until it was time for Jim to leave.
“Oh, man,” he glanced at his watch and ran a hand over his face. “I really have to go. I have a ten o’clock meeting in the morning,” he looked at Blair and made no motion to get up. “I think I could conceivably talk to you all night.”
Blair smiled and nodded slowly, “And I would gladly listen.” He took Jim’s hand and pulled until Jim rose off the sofa. They walked to the door and Blair gave him his jacket and grinned, “Here. Get out and go get some sleep!”
Jim laughed and put the jacket on. “Yes, sir,” he said, then yawned as if to illustrate Blair’s point. He laughed again and took both Blair’s hands in his own. “Listen,” came his hushed, tired voice, “what you said in the truck earlier, about having fun?”
Blair nodded, “Yeah?”
“Well, I am too,” he continued. “It’s been, ah, a long time since I’ve dated anyone, and I just wanted to tell you that I’m having a great time. This feels really good.”
Blair squeezed his hands and gave him a sweet smile, then leaned forward and kissed his lips for the first time.
For about half a second, Blair wondered if this was what it felt like to be a flower. An image of his body changing colors and his arms opening like petals flashed in his mind, then went as quickly as it came as those same arms settled loosely around Jim’s shoulders and Jim’s rested easily across his back. The kiss was slow and sleepy, tongues eventually sliding lazily against each other, sending tiny shocks through the two of them.
“This feels really good, too,” Blair said softly as he broke away briefly, and they both laughed in that secretive, sensual way that new lovers do, then they kissed for a little while longer.
“Mmm,” Jim said against Blair’s lips as he began to pull away. “I really have to go, Blair,” he sighed with dismay.
Blair wrapped his arms around him and hugged him, thinking with a dazed sense of joy that Jim felt as good as he looked. “I know,” he answered into Jim’s neck, then released his hold but didn’t let go. “I wish you didn’t, but I know you have to be on top of it tomorrow, so….” he trailed off with a shrug and a smile.
“So, we’ll continue this later, huh?” Jim finished with a smile of his own.
“Yeah, okay,” Blair said agreeably and kissed Jim’s chin. “Now, get out of my house and call me tomorrow!”
And that’s what Jim did.
Jim expected to see blue when he woke up, but the sky turned out to be cloudy and pale, pale gray when he removed his eye mask and looked through the skylight in his ceiling. In spite of the meteorologists’ inaccurate forecast, though, Jim smiled and felt warm and comfortably anxious. Today was his birthday, and while normally he wouldn’t be terribly thrilled about it, this time he had a reason to celebrate because he’d taken the entire day off (shocking his entire staff) and would spend it with Blair. He had no clear idea what they were going to do – Blair had said to leave it to him – but he knew that it would be interesting, probably a little off the wall, and likely very romantic. They’d passed the one-month mark in their relationship and Jim still felt giddy and tingly whenever he heard Blair’s voice, still felt like a teenager when Blair touched him. He laughed at himself when he considered that a single month, after all, wasn’t really that long. One would hope that he’d still be feeling the flush of new love after only four weeks (and four days, ten hours and thirty-eight minutes), but it still felt different. This was the most passionate he’d ever felt about anyone and he decided he wasn’t going to analyze it.
He had generally considered himself a content man. Not only that, but if asked, he could say with a fair amount of honesty that he was actually quite happy with his life. He had a career he enjoyed, made a nice living and had a good network of friends and colleagues. He dated once in a while, but nothing serious. The addition of Blair in his life enriched him beyond what he thought imaginable. He once heard that success was nothing without a loved one to share it with. He thought that was fundamentally true and considered the possibility that Blair could be that someone.
He turned and looked at his clock. Eight twelve. Blair had said to be ready by nine thirty, so he took a deep, cleansing breath and pulled back the comforter. He stood, stretched, did a few push-ups, a couple dozen sit-ups, then made his bed and headed for the shower. ‘You can take the man out of the military….’ he thought with a rueful snicker as he stepped into the warm water.
He walked around the loft propelled by nervous energy. It was nine o’clock and he was showered, dressed and trying to figure out what to do for the next thirty minutes. He didn’t want to eat, because Blair was taking him to breakfast. However, his body was used to eight-thirty coffee and bagels, so he was starting to get a little hungry. He figured that by the time Blair came to get him, then took them to the restaurant and they placed their orders and the food got to the table, it would be at least eleven, so he decided maybe he could get away with eating something small. He’d just taken an English muffin out of the breadbox when the phone rang.
“Hey birthday boy!” Blair said with a smile in his voice.
Jim grinned and stuck the muffin in the toaster, “Hey, good morning! How are you?”
“I’m great. I can’t wait to see you.”
“Me neither,” Jim said as he poured himself a glass of cranberry juice. “Are you going to tell me what you’re doing with me today?”
Blair laughed sinisterly, “Nope, you’re just gonna have to wait. But I was wondering,” he hesitated, “I know it’s early, but do you happen to be dressed? I mean, could I come get you now?”
“Now? You’re ready?”
“Yeah,” Blair laughed a little sheepishly, “anxious, I guess. I can wait, though, if you’re not.”
“Are you kidding? Come on over, I was just about to have an English muffin.”
A tiny, good-natured whine crept into Blair’s voice, “What about breakfast?”
“Don’t worry,” Jim assured him, “I’ll still have plenty of room for wherever you take me. It’s just that usually, I’ve eaten by now and my stomach’s already starting to growl,” he laughed and pulled the popped up muffin out of the toaster. “This is just a little something to tide me over.”
“Well, all right, just as long as you don’t start complaining about being full after the first couple of bites!”
Jim took a drink of juice, “I don’t think that’ll be a problem! So you’re on your way?”
“Yeah, I should be there in about, mmm, fifteen minutes? Is that cool?” Blair asked.
Jim could hear him moving around and getting his keys, “Great. I’ll be waiting.”
“Okay, then I’ll see you in fifteen.”
“All right, see you then,” Jim smiled.
Jim hung up the phone and licked a small piece of butter off his finger. That innocuous action brought a vivid image of Blair to his mind that made him shudder. He stared at the clock, willing the hands to move faster.
“Close your eyes,” Blair said when they turned onto a dirt road that seemed to lead to a field.
“Do I have to?” Jim replied, tossing Blair a crooked smile.
Blair sighed a little impatiently – apparently they were getting close. “Yes,” he said quickly, “now come on, close ‘em!”
Jim did as he was asked and tried not to use his other senses to tell him what exactly they were approaching. As Blair began to slow the car, though, he could make out a sound that was something like a huge blowtorch, even without trying to hear it. It sounded like… but no, it couldn’t be that.
“Okay, Jim. Open your eyes,” Blair said quietly when he turned the car off.
It was what he thought it was! He couldn’t believe it. Before them sat an enormous basket, and attached to it was a big, flat, red and blue hot air balloon in the process of being inflated. Jim’s mouth dropped open and he turned to Blair who was watching his face and grinning.
“Happy birthday, Jim,” he said with a swift peck on his cheek. “Come on, Terry’s waiting for us.”
Jim got out and followed Blair who was waving to the man inflating the balloon. When they were closer to him, he and Blair exchanged greetings and handshakes and Blair introduced him to Jim.
“So, it’s your first time up in one of these, huh, Jim?” he asked.
Jim watched in fascination as the balloon began to rise and fill, “Yep, first time. Always wanted to go, though.”
“Well,” Terry looked appreciatively at the sky, “you picked a perfect day for it – clear skies, not too windy, it should be a smooth ride.”
Jim remembered what the sky looked like when he woke up and smiled. It looked as if his birthday was going to be even better than he thought.
“Yeah,” Jim agreed, “it’s turning out to be a pretty nice day.”
They walked into Jim’s apartment and Jim hung his keys on a wrought iron hook on the wall, shutting the door behind them. Before he even removed his jacket, he turned to Blair and slid one hand behind his neck and kissed him the way he’d wanted to since before breakfast. He took Blair’s hair in both hands and pulled him close, kissing him not quite roughly, but far beyond tenderly. Blair held him, staying present and not backing off for a minute. His hands moved with surety, tugging and grasping, as if trying to figure out what to pull off Jim first.
Abruptly, he stopped and pulled away, stilling Jim with his hands on his face. “Jim… wait, stop for a minute,” he said, just above a whisper.
“What? What’s wrong?” Jim asked, worried for a second that this perfect day was going to end in disaster.
Blair was quick to reassure him, “Nothing,” he said, laying his fingers on Jim’s lips, “nothing, I just… um… I just want to make sure we’re on the same page, here, you know? I don’t want to assume anything.”
“Okay, fair enough,” Jim said, kissing Blair’s fingertips, then his palm. “I want you to fuck me, upstairs, right now. What page are you on?”
Blair voiced a short, sultry laugh and kissed Jim’s mouth, “That one,” he said with a soft bite on Jim’s lower lip. “In fact, I keep reading the same paragraph over,” kiss, “and over,” lick, “and over again.”
Jim laughed as he pulled their jackets off and kissed him with short, wet smacks of his lips. He dove into Blair’s neck, making him laugh as he nuzzled and kissed him there, tickling him and running his hands up and down his back, rubbing and squeezing him through his jeans and pulling him hard against his own body. Blair wrapped his arms around his neck and made a satisfied humming sound and took Jim’s earlobe between his lips.
“Let’s go upstairs and read to each other, shall we?”
Once upstairs, they made short work of removing their clothing and wasted little time in climbing into bed. Both were beyond ready, having spent the entire day in a state of low-grade arousal, plus the last several minutes putting their desires sharply into focus. It was time to get busy.
They were fairly familiar with each other’s bodies; over the period that they’d been dating, they’d slowly gotten more and more exploratory with each other, but they’d never been completely naked together. They pressed against each other and kissed, vacillating between wanting to touch and look and feel, and wanting to just pass go already and collect the two hundred bucks. Jim decided for them and reached over into a drawer to pull out condoms and a bottle of lubricant. Now that he’d verbalized what he wanted, he wanted it immediately if not sooner. He ripped open a foil packet and handed it to Blair, who sat up and got onto his knees to put the latex on, tossing the wrapper onto the night table. Jim turned onto his stomach and crooked one knee, putting a pillow under his hips. He looked over his shoulder and watched Blair pour a thin stream of fluid onto his hand and penis, then more on just his hand. He turned his head back into the bed and gasped at the feel of Blair’s fingers rubbing him, working lube into him slightly, and then taking his hand away. He writhed slowly against the bed, reacting to sensation as he felt Blair come down on him, then begin to enter him. He took deep breaths, relaxing his muscles, letting himself be opened and sighing with the old familiar pleasure/pain. He groaned when the connection was complete and shivered when Blair’s breath came warm in his ear.
“This is gonna be so good,” he said.
And it was.
Good and hard and fast, just like Jim wanted it. He needed to get it over with, scratch the itch. He’d wanted Blair so badly that by the time they finally got into bed together, he could hardly see straight. The feel of a nice, solid body breaching him like that, following him and owning him, was such a release. He knew they were right together and he felt a sense of peace that hadn’t existed in a long time.
He was still feeling aftershocks when Blair withdrew from him and threw away the condom. He removed the now dampened pillowcase from the pillow and then turned over to see Blair sitting on his heels, staring at him through strands of sweat soaked hair.
“Holy shit,” Blair said with a small laugh. “That was… uh…”
“Pretty fucking fantastic?” Jim offered, stretching.
Blair looked at him and shook his head, truly laughing now. “Yeah, actually,” he said as he leaned down to lie atop Jim, “pretty fucking fantastic.”
He kissed him slowly, bringing down the urgency that coursed through them just a few short moments before. Jim lay there and opened himself up to Blair’s deeply searching tongue, the sheer eroticism of it sending chills down his spine. Blair had decided that it was time to see the scenery, Jim thought. The full lips left his and began to drift downward, bestowing kisses on his nipples, stomach, collarbones, hips and thighs. He picked up Jim’s arms and kissed his palms, the underside of his wrists, the inside of his forearms and the crooks of his elbows. It sounded to Jim like he was enjoying himself, emitting little moans and sighs as he tasted and stroked his skin, from the tips of his fingers to the backs of his knees. For his part, Jim was surprised and happy – he’d never had anyone pay such close attention to the areas of his body that Blair was. He’d always felt a little weird telling someone ‘rub your lips across the arch of my foot’ or something, but Blair apparently thought it to be a pretty good idea, since that’s where that lovely mouth had gone next. He was in heaven.
Blair leisurely made his way back up Jim’s body and started kissing his face while Jim made his own discoveries of Blair’s body with his hands. Sleep was beginning to come, owing itself to the long day and the wildly energetic punctuation they’d just given it. With a sigh, Blair wrapped his arms around Jim’s waist and snuggled into his neck, giving the slowly pulsing artery there a little kiss.
“I hope you had a good birthday, Jim,” he said, stifling a yawn.
Jim chuckled and squeezed him, scratching his scalp through his hair and kissing the top of his head. “It was the best birthday I’ve had in a really long time. I think, maybe ever.” He paused, thinking about the day again and said, “I still can’t believe you got me a hot air balloon ride.”
For a second, he thought Blair might be asleep, but his groggy answer came to him, “You said you wanted one, so I got you one,” he answered as if it were the most logical explanation. “I like trying to get you what you want.”
Filled with immense affection at the simple admission, Jim sighed and smiled and tilted Blair’s head back for one last brief kiss, conveying to him physically what he wasn’t sure he could do verbally.
“Thank you, Blair,” he tucked him back under his chin. “Good night.”
“ ‘Night, Jim.”
Blair could’ve sworn he felt a tongue slithering up the center of his chest. He opened his eyes, and sure enough, there was Jim, giving him slow, warm, wet swipes across his sternum, over his shoulders and behind his ear. Suddenly, Blair thought with a raspy and irrational bark of laughter, Jim had become a huge cat.
“Does that tickle?” Jim asked, doing it again.
Blair roused himself more, “No,” he said, then squirmed and giggled, “well, yes, now that you mention it!”
Jim laughed low and licked around Blair’s left nipple. Blair stopped laughing, but continued to smile.
“I was thinking that you remind me of a big cat,” he said, unconsciously arching up to Jim’s mouth.
Jim’s hand traveled all around Blair’s body, one landing surely between his legs, which Blair opened with alacrity.
“My animal spirit is a black jaguar,” Jim said conversationally.
Intoxicated on stimulation, Blair responded hazily, “What?”
Jim answered by claiming his mouth hungrily and reaching again for a condom. “Let’s do it again,” he said against Blair’s lips, thrusting the little square into the other man’s hand.
Blair opened it, but when he started to sit up, Jim had gotten to his knees and stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.
“No, stay there. I want you on your back,” he hesitated. “Please.”
Blair looked at Jim, not much more than a dim figure in the darkness of the apartment and nodded, “Whatever you want, Jim.”
Blair slid the condom on and felt more than saw Jim drizzling lubricant onto his sheathed erection with one hand while the other stroked his hip. He kinda liked not really being able to see much, if truth be told. Somehow, it made the sensations more intense. Every touch felt like liquid fire.
“I like it like this,” Jim was saying, crawling over him and straddling his hips, kissing Blair’s belly as he did so.
Blair sighed as he felt Jim take hold of his cock, press it to his body, and then lower himself slowly. “I do, too,” he said.
With infinitesimal thrusts, Jim worked his way down until he sat on Blair’s pelvis, sending waves of pleasure soaring through Blair. He watched Jim move, observing the shadows and faint light dance across the magnificent body as Jim ground slowly and made a long, low sound in his throat. Blair grasped Jim’s thighs and Jim’s hands came down on his, squeezing them in time to his shallow movements, then trailing up and down his arms. Blair raised his knees, planting his feet flat on the bed, and pushed his hips up once sharply, bringing Jim instantly to silent motionlessness before a brief, choked cry escaped his mouth and he began to move once more.
“Do that…” He forced out as he began to increase his pace, “…do that again.”
Blair closed his eyes and grabbed Jim’s hips, thrusting up again as Jim pushed down, his moan floating up alongside Jim’s grunt of pleasure. A rhythm established, they rocked back and forth deeply, Jim’s sweat slick thighs opening and closing around Blair as his hips swayed like oiled hinges above him. Blair’s head thrashed on the pillow, eventually pushing it through the railing behind the bed to the floor below, as his hands slipped over Jim’s skin, trying to get a purchase. His head tilted back off the bed, dropping between the same bars the pillow had fallen through, and with a shuddering gasp, he came, pumping mindlessly into Jim until his body simply stopped.
Jim was panting and writhing slowly on top of him. Blair reached up and dropped a heavy hand on his thigh, only to feel it lifted and put against Jim's mouth. Jim gave the hand a slow kiss and Blair could feel the warm, stuttering breaths and the strong, steady pulse pounding in Jim's neck as he climaxed quietly. When Jim stopped moving and they both began to come down, Blair's penis slipped out of his body as if it had had enough of the festivities and just wanted to go to sleep. Blair raised himself up onto his elbows and Jim swung off of him, letting him remove the condom and toss it into the wastebasket. He fell back onto the bed and shut his eyes, smiling as Jim's hand ghosted over his stomach.
After a while, Jim got up and went downstairs, returning with a warm washcloth, two glasses of water, and, in his teeth, the pillow. Blair turned on a small lamp and laughed at the sight and relieved him of a glass and the down-filled rectangle hanging from his mouth like fallen prey. He took a big drink before setting the water on the table and putting the pillow back at its rightful place at the head of the bed. When they were both reasonably clean and settled, he turned the lamp back off and curled himself up against Jim again. They kissed drowsily and spoke quietly, assurances and endearments, discoveries and laughter hanging in the air between them. Yet again, sleep was stealing over them, but Blair’s mind was stuck on a question.
“What’s this about a black jaguar?” he mumbled.
“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow,” Jim answered.