Blair stepped into the apartment, exhausted and ready to collapse, not to mention drenched. They’d had one of those unexpected and oh, so lovely April showers, and he’d been caught without an umbrella or even a coat. Stupid, but typical of this entire week.

Groaning, he dropped his backpack on the floor by the door and turned to lock the door. Once that was done, he turned towards the kitchen to make some tea when something solid and heavy landed on his back and sent him sprawling. He hit the floor with a thump and his breath expelled forcefully.

Automatically, Blair started struggling, but then a growl echoed through the loft and he froze. It sounded like a really, really big cat was right on top of him and, craning his neck around, he swallowed nervously to see that that was exactly true. A Black jaguar with blue eyes...it seemed that his life had just gotten weirder and that Jim’s spirit animal had been made flesh. Okay, Sandburg, you can do this. A spirit animal’s gotta understand more than a regular animal, try reasoning with it.

“Ah, look, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m just the Guide, I’m not the Sentinel you’re looking for,” Blair said slowly, then had an absurd urge to laugh as he realized the words echoed a line from Star Wars. Talk about your subconscious taking over!

A quick lick across the back of his neck startled him, and then the cat got off him and sat, almost expectantly, a few short feet away.

Pushing into a sitting position, Blair asked, “You know I’m the Guide?”

“Okay. So, right. Are you looking for Jim?” Blair questioned, his heart finally getting back into a normal pattern and speed.

The jaguar humphed emphatically, shaking its head.

The dreaded question surfaced in his mind and Blair asked, “Has something happened to Jim?”

This time an emphatic nod.

Panic sped his heart again and Blair lurched to his feet. “Where is he? Do you know? Should I call Simon for backup? Oh God, what if it’s one of Oliver’s cronies?”

The jaguar rose on its hind legs and thumped Blair on the chest with its front paws, leaning on him. The great cat was heavy enough that it pushed Blair all the way to the door, pinning him there effectively.

Blair grunted at the impact and frowned. “What?”

The blue eyes held an oddly familiar look, an irritated one. The expression was remarkably similar to Jim when he thought Blair was being particularly dense. A light bulb clicked and Blair’s eyes widened as he gasped, “Jim? Shit, is that you?”

Huffing affirmatively right in his face, the jaguar dropped back to the floor. Its massive jaw lowered in a frightening approximation of a smile.

And now that Blair was looking, he could see the expression in the blue eyes was all Jim. Hell, even the posture and attitude were. It was just the package that had thrown him off. “Well. Fuck. How did this happen?”

The jaguar…Jim, he corrected himself…padded over to the couch and hopped up before shrugging and making himself comfortable.

“Oh now, come on. You can’t lay all of this on my shoulders! I wasn’t even with you today!” Blair exclaimed, following his partner.

Jim huffed again, looking at him and clearly putting it all squarely on Blair’s shoulders.

Irritated, Blair snapped, “That’s not fair! How could I possibly have known about something like this? It’s damn sure not in the monograph and I’ve never come across a single reference of Sentinels being Shapeshifters.”

Blair realized his blunder as soon as Jim’s gaze sharpened on him, accusing. Wincing, Blair admitted, “Yes. Okay. There are legends about Shapeshifters, mostly in native lore, or going way, way far back in Anglo-legend. You know, the werewolf stories? But really, I never once saw anything to indicate that Sentinel’s had this kind of ability. Although, really, it would make a weird kind of sense. How better to know and understand the balance of the ecology you live in, than to become one of the animals who dwell there? But still, there should’ve been…”

An angry growl interrupted him, and Blair collected his rapidly scattering thoughts. Clearing his throat, he nodded and agreed, “Right. Speculation isn’t helping. Look, I’m going to call Simon and get the rest of the week off for you. I hope it doesn’t take that long to reverse this but, um, I have no idea.”

Jim yawned to show his appreciation of that idea and Blair snorted. “Yeah well, be thankful you can’t talk, man, because otherwise this would be all yours.”

Ignoring the toothy grin, Blair crossed to the phone and dialed their Captain’s phone number.

“Banks here.”

“Yeah, Simon, it’s Blair.”

“Sandburg, it’s late.”

“I know. But, uh, did anything seem strange to you about Jim today?”

“No.”

“Nothing unusual happened to him while I was gone?”

“No, why?”

“Jim and I are gonna need the rest of the week off.”

“What? Why?”

“Maybe longer.”

“Sandburg…”

Grimacing at the growl that was a lot like the one that Jim had just uttered, Blair sighed and explained, “Jim’s not really himself right now. And trust me, that’s all you want to know.”

“Shit. Sentinel stuff, right?”

“Oh yeah.”

A heavy sigh echoed through the phone before Simon said, “All right. It’s Wednesday anyhow, so take the rest of the week off. But I want daily progress reports, Sandburg. He’s not in any danger, is he?”

Blair’s eyes lingered on where Jim was primly cleaning his paws on the couch and stifled the hysterical urge to laugh. “No, not as such.”

“Sandburg…”

“He’s fine Simon. Well, not fine, but not hurt or anything.”

“All right. I’ll take your word for it. But Sandburg, if you need help, just ask.”

Blair half-smiled. “Thanks, Simon, we appreciate that. Talk to you tomorrow.”

Hanging up, Blair turned to Jim and demanded wryly, “I suppose you want a nice steak for dinner now.”

* * * *

Everything was sharper now, even more so than when his senses had first come back online. Jim could practically taste the contaminants in the air and could smell everything, even the subconscious pheromones that Blair gave off while asleep or in deep research mode. Even the floor beneath his paws was a new sensation, because he felt every tiny crack and shift and warp in the wood. The almost raw steak and fish that Blair gave him had been incredibly rich in texture and flavor.

There was something alluring about his Guide now, too, though he couldn’t put his finger on it. It was important for him to be in as constant contact with Blair as possible.

He found the best part was creeping into bed with Blair after he’d fallen asleep. Blair seemed to gravitate towards him almost automatically once he settled lengthwise against the man. Then he would curl all the way around Jim, his leg thrown possessively over Jim and his arm wrapped across his furry back. Since Jim didn’t seem to need more than a few hours of sleep at a time, it was easy enough to get out of the bed before his friend woke each morning. It gave Jim a secure and content feeling, as well as something else that he couldn’t quite identify.

There were other things that told Jim that this was a normal state for them, even if it was new. The way Blair’s fingers just knew exactly where and when to scratch, and where and when to pet or stroke. The way that they could communicate almost flawlessly, despite Jim being non-verbal. The ease with which they’d both adjusted to the change. It felt, basically, like Jim had found a part of himself that he hadn’t even known was missing.

And it would be perfect if only he could figure out this strange, itchy feeling at gut-level whenever he was in direct contact with Blair for a long period of time.

* * * *

Living with Jim as a cat was very weird. Not that the other man was normally really talkative, because he wasn’t, but absolute silence was disconcerting, to say the least. Okay, not complete silence since there was the purring and growling things used to communicate. And Jim developed a particularly annoying habit of drumming his claws on a hard surface when he was impatient about something.

The other thing was that Jim seemed to like to be in constant contact with him. Blair was used to the touching that Jim gave him, the hugs and hair-ruffling, but now he was always either laying directly against him, or even had his head on Blair’s lap while he was researching. There was the kneading thing that was almost a quasi-massage, too.

Not that Blair was minding it or anything, it just took some getting used to.

Jim, thankfully, seemed to have taken to his new form in stride. Maybe he’d inherited the universal cat attitude of not giving a shit, but whatever the case, Blair was grateful for it. Having to deal with a freaked out Jim when he was still mildly freaked out himself was not something that Blair needed at that point. Jim seemed a little irritated at not being able to go out, but otherwise unconcerned about this latest insanity.

He talked to Simon on Thursday and Friday, but only to report that there was nothing to report. Simon didn’t repeat his demand to know what was going on, probably sensing that it really wasn’t something that he wanted to know about.

On Saturday, after researching online and in books on the shapeshifting phenomena until his eyes felt like they were bleeding, Blair finally succumbed to sleep. It was dark when he woke to a large, wet tongue bathing his bare foot. He jerked the rest of the way awake and sat up too fast, knocking his head on the coffee table because he’d pretty much passed out where he’d been reading on the living room floor.

Groaning and holding his head, Blair gave Jim a sour look and demanded, “You couldn’t have just nudged me awake or something?”

Jim gave him an innocent look.

To which, Blair snorted in disbelief and said, “Yeah, right. Okay. Dinner it is.”

He got up and went into the kitchen, Jim right beside him as usual. When he got there, though, Jim started rubbing his head against Blair’s leg. Frowning, Blair looked down to see that he was being marked with the jaguar’s scent glands. He dismissed it as an odd new quirk and set about making dinner.

Before he’d gone more than a few steps, though, Jim pounced on him from behind, sending them both to the floor. A little stunned, the wind knocked out of him, Blair gasped a few times trying to recover. Large paws kneaded his back and a tongue licked the back of his throat where his hair had fallen aside. It wasn’t until Jim stretched out on top of him and Blair felt the cock had come out of its sheath that he realized what was going on.

Panic lent him the strength to squirm out from under Jim and get to his feet, facing the large cat. Swallowing, Blair held a hand out towards his disgruntled friend and warned, “Jim...think about this. This isn’t you, okay? You’re ah, you’re probably just reacting to stray pheromones, is all. You don’t really, um, want me.”

Of course, the long, thick cock that almost dragged the floor put the lie to those words, but Blair was really, really trying not to look at that part of Jim’s body.

Jim growled softly, purring simultaneously to assure him that he really did want Blair.

“Okay, let me rephrase this. I don’t want you.”

The growl drowned out the purring.

Hastily, Blair clarified, “Like this. I don’t want you like this, Jim. I mean, you’re a cat for God’s sake! I can’t, and I’ve never anyhow, and it’s...you’re a cat!”

Jim huffed, scoffing, and prowled towards him.

Walking backwards, it wasn’t until the back of his legs hit the stairs that Blair realized that he was being herded towards the bedroom. He tried to dart past Jim a couple of times, but the other’s reflexes were way faster than his as a human, never mind a jaguar. “Please, Jim, just back off, okay, man? This isn’t going to happen.”

With a hiss, Jim’s teeth bared and Blair automatically stepped backwards, putting his foot on the step. And, of course, once he’d given way even a little, he had to keep going. At the top of the steps, he was again pounced only this time landed on the bed. The heavy, furred body pinned him easily to the mattress and Blair felt the hard cock rubbing between his legs against the space just behind his balls.

Unexpected pleasure slammed into Blair, even with the barrier of his boxers in the way, and he inhaled sharply, fingers gripping the thick fur and corded muscles. “Fuck!”

The purring had returned and Blair moaned when a tongue laved over his chest, focusing on his nipples until they were hard.

“I don’t want, Jim, stop man, please stop,” Blair pleaded, fighting his body’s automatic response to the pleasure it was getting.

But Jim was a determined animal now, fangs nipping sharply whenever Blair tried to move away. Claws made short work of his boxers and his shirt, the fabric falling aside with little effort. He froze when the long tongue somehow wrapped around his cock, his breathing stopping as his shaft hardened in record time. “Oh, God, no, this is, fuck, so wrong! Can’t...Jim!”

Jim hissed in pleasure at Blair’s responses, even as the words continued to demand an end. The jaguar was plainly in no mood to listen and set about devastating his unwilling lover. Blair was writhing in agonized need by the time Jim stopped licking him all over. He didn’t have any strength to resist, not even when Jim flipped him over.

It wasn’t until the tongue resumed its licking, all along the crack of his ass, that Blair’s head cleared a little. Shaking his head, he tried to get up, but a paw pushed him down, easily holding him there. Then the hard, bristled cock was at his hole and Blair breathed deep, trying to relax enough to take it without too much pain. Not enough, though, because as he was penetrated, the cock pushing into him felt just as big as it had looked.

Half-sobbing as he panted, face into the mattress, Blair’s fingers clenched the bedspread and he spread his legs, trying to make more room for the cock still pushing inside him. At least Jim was going slow, which meant that a tiny bit of his humanity was trying to keep him from getting hurt. Even as he thought that, though, a growling groan issued and Jim shoved the rest of the way inside, provoking a shout of pain from Blair.

He wasn’t given time to adjust after that. Jim’s animal nature had, apparently, taken over completely and he started fucking Blair in earnest. Blair moaned with the pain as the cock pulled out and slammed back in, feeling everything like it was magnified. He’d never been so stretched before and it hurt so much that Blair thought he was going to pass out. He didn’t though. He lay there as the great cat mated to him with savage abandon and as he did, a strange thing happened.

The pain transmuted to pleasure. Something inside was being prodded with each thrust and sending electric need through him. He shuddered violently as Jim bit into his shoulder, breaking the skin. He groaned, feeling something shift deep inside, feeling himself shift, deep inside. He felt a strange connection burst into awareness through the sharing of their blood and bodies and gasped as orgasm slammed unexpectedly through him.

Blair felt the hot seed burst inside him and shivered with need. It branded him from the inside out and his legs splayed further apart as he encouraged Jim, “More, God, Jim, more, please!”

Jim growled hotly in his ear, still humping into Blair, though with barely any force just then.

Blair reached back and gripped the fur, ordering, “Harder! Need you, need you!”

That was all the urging Jim needed to start up again. Massive paws gripped his shoulder, the claws retracting so as not to scratch the tender human skin. A warm tongue lapped the bloody bite, restarting the flow and the connection surged between them. Blair could hear a chant in his mind, a chant in Jim’s voice of, Mine, mine, love you, need you, mine, love, always, love you.

Crying out with the beauty of the experience, Blair clenched the bedspread and shoved himself onto his hands and knees. He thrust back hard onto the large cock and Jim literally roared his approval. Life seemed to blur just about then for Blair. Colors didn’t quite stay in place and sound began to echo strangely. He felt every bristle on Jim’s cock, every bit of fur rubbing sensually against him, and sticking to him because of his sweat.

When the second orgasm ripped through Blair, he screamed with the release and the flare of overwhelming input to every one of his senses.

* * * *

It was a pounding on the door that woke Blair. He groaned with pain as his muscles protested the sudden movement. He was alone in the bed and that prompted him to ignore the pain and push into a sideways sitting position. “Jim! Jim, where are you!?”

There was a strange whine under the bed and Blair half-twisted down to find the jaguar under the bed. Blue eyes were wide and haunted and Blair knew that Jim was feeling ashamed of what he’d done to Blair.

“Sandburg! We’re coming in!”

“Oh shit!” Blair hissed, forcing himself to shout back, “Hang on, Simon! Give me a minute to get to the door! Don’t break it in!”

“Hurry up!”

“Easier said than done, man,” Blair muttered. He ignored the pain and hurried as best he could down the stairs to his bedroom. His ass was throbbing with every movement, but Blair doggedly got dressed in spite of it. He pulled on a big, baggy, turtle-neck, thankful it was cool enough in the loft to call for one.

“Sandburg!”

“I’m coming, damn it!” Blair shouted back, angling for the door. He paused for a second to look out the peephole and groaned when he saw it was Simon, Joel and Henri all standing on their doorstep, guns in hand. Sighing explosively, Blair opened the door and stepped back. “Come on in, guys.”

Simon practically growled as he brushed passed Blair, eyes scanning the apartment for any sign of trouble. Joel frowned at Blair, taking in his ragged appearance without a comment. Blair smiled briefly at Henri and moved to the center of the living room. “So. What brings you guys out here so late, ah, early?”

“A couple of your neighbors heard you screaming, Blair,” Joel answered kindly.

Oh shit. Wonderful. It must’ve sounded like he was being murdered that last time. “I’m fine, see? Alive and well.”

Staring at him suspiciously, Simon demanded, “Where’s Jim?”

“Not here,” Blair answered promptly.

“What do you mean, not here? He’s all better?”

“Well, not exactly.”

“Sandburg.”

Sighing, Blair pinched the bridge of his nose and said, “Look, guys, I’m sorry you got brought down on a false alarm, but I am wiped. Simon, Jim’s fine and I’ll call you tomorrow to let you know how things are.”

“You don’t look so hot, Blair,” H commented.

Blair shrugged, then winced when the movement shifted the bite area. “Rough night.”

A faint smirk crossed the young black man’s face as H replied, “So that’s what the screaming was about.”

Flushing, Blair couldn’t exactly deny it.

“Oh for Christ’s sake, Sandburg. What happened to no sex in the loft?” Simon demanded, finally putting his gun away.

Not wanting to get into things, Blair just answered, “Rules are made to be broken, man. Can I get some sleep now?”

The other men shook their heads and started towards the door. When Joel and H had left, Simon demanded, “Where the hell is Jim?”

“Simon?”

Blair and Simon turned towards Joel, who was frowning at them.

“I’ll be right down, Joel,” Simon assured him. The other man nodded and again left, and Simon closed the door, rounding on Blair with, “Tell me what the hell is going on!”

“I can’t,” Blair answered.

Simon grabbed Blair, but he gripped the bite mark, causing Blair to cry out with pain and twist away. Eyes wide with shock, Simon held his hands up to show he wasn’t going to do that again and said, almost accusingly, “You’re hurt! Jim hurt you, didn’t he?”

Swallowing, trying to will the pain down, Blair answered, “It’s none of your business, Simon. Just leave.”

“Like hell it’s none of my business,” Simon exclaimed.

“Please, Simon, please just leave,” Blair pleaded.

Concern was written plain across Simon’s face and he replied softly, “You’re no match for Jim if he’s gone over the edge, Blair. Just tell me that’s happened and I’ll get you out of here.”

Wanting to laugh at the absurdity, Blair was instead appalled when a tear slipped out. Clearing his throat and wiping it away, Blair insisted, “I can handle this, I swear. It’s...it’s not going to happen again. He promised.”

Which wasn’t strictly true, but Blair had seen the look in the jaguar’s eyes and known that Jim would injure himself before doing that to him again.

Jaw tightening, Simon looked once more around the loft, but didn’t find anything out of place. Giving up with a sigh, Simon agreed, “All right. But you get out if it gets too much. Call me, okay? Promise?”

Blair nodded. “I promise. I’ll be fine, Simon, really.”

Though still reluctant, Simon nodded and said, “I’m leaving. But remember what I said.”

“I will.”

It wasn’t until after the door had closed and he’d locked it, that Blair breathed a sigh of relief. That had been just too damn close. Then he looked up at the bedroom and sighed, not sure what the hell was going to happen next.