Blair had always been overprotective of Jim in his own way over the years. Generally it involved getting dosed with God-awful home remedies while sick, or messing with Jim’s diet, and sometimes even giving that irritating headshake that said, ‘Don’t even think about it, Mister,’ like he was Jim’s wife or something. The thought always caused Jim to grin, but his partner’s current behavior was seriously starting to bug the shit out of him.

This was different. Whenever someone they didn’t know approached Jim, Blair was right there, hovering between them. Since they met up with new people all the time in the course of their job, it got old fast. On top of that, Blair was extra touch-feely, frequently keeping a hand on Jim as much as possible and pretty much jumping him the moment they were home alone. And while he didn’t mind that part at all, the change to his lover’s behavior was so striking that Jim was more than a little worried.

After a week had passed, Jim finally put a stop to it. He grabbed Blair’s hands when the younger man tried to undo his pants and said flatly, “We need to talk.”

Big, blue eyes looked up at him, startled, and Blair asked, “Now? You’re about to get lucky, you know.”

Jim snorted and countered, “You mean, you’re about to get lucky. I’ve just been along for the ride.”

Blair’s hands yanked free instantly and he stepped back, looking appalled and stunned. “What are you talking about?”

Sighing explosively, Jim told him, “Don’t get me wrong. I love the attention, Chief, but I’m starting to feel like the prize at the bottom of the cereal box. And don’t think I don’t know that you found something out about that other group and aren’t telling me. You’ve got a particular smell that tells me you’re holding something back.”

“You can smell that?” Blair demanded, incredulous.

Jim grinned, smug. “No, but you just confirmed it.”

Blair stuck his tongue out and complained, “You’re a jerk, Jim.”

“I’m a prince among men,” Jim replied, dry. “Now sit and talk, before I put on a chastity belt or something.”

Blair made another face, but walked over to the chair, sitting cross-legged as Jim took a seat on the sofa. He wasn’t risking anything getting in the way of a discussion that had been put off too long.

“Once I knew who to look for, research got fairly easy. Not that they lead public lives of obvious consumption or anything, but I know money when I see it and they have it. Whatever’s going on, money is not the problem.”

Jim nodded, knowing exactly what Blair was talking about. His lover knew money when he saw it because he’d been poor most of his life. Jim knew it because that was the world in which he’d been born.

“Turns out that our friends own an estate just outside of Seattle,” Blair continued. “It’s a compound, really, with anywhere from twenty to fifty people coming and going at a time. They’ve been there for sixty years and the deed has passed from father to son. No one bothered to look at photos of both men or, if they did, they assumed a seriously strong family resemblance.”

“He passed it down to himself,” Jim guessed.

Blair nodded. “Definitely. I don’t know, Jim. Maybe you’ve got a longer lifespan than the rest of us mere mortals.”

“Funny, Darwin.”

“Who’s joking?”

Jim opened his mouth, then closed it again. Blair was serious.

“Yeah, exactly,” Blair agreed. “And if that’s the case, you could have who knows how many more years.”

An unpleasant thought surfaced and Jim asked tightly, “What about you?”

Blair shrugged. “No idea. I guess we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it.”

“What else did you find out?” Jim questioned, pushing away the thought that he might have a couple of decades longer to live than his lover.

“Not much. There’s a rival business that seems to give them the most trouble: The Larssen Group. They both play for serious stakes in genetics, medicine, and technology, often competing for the same government contracts. I’m just starting my research into these other guys now.”

Jim nodded and ordered sternly, “This time, keep me in the loop.”

An embarrassed expression surfaced and Blair apologized, “I honestly don’t know what got into me, Jim. I didn’t do it on purpose. Ever since they came to Cascade I’ve been…I don’t know…itchy. Restless. Suspicious. I don’t like it, but I can’t help it, either. You haven’t?”

“No. Actually, I’ve been…” Jim’s voice trailed off, his own embarrassment rising.

Blair’s eyebrows rose as he prompted, “You’ve been what?”

Clearing his throat, Jim hedged, “I’ve been fine.”

The eyebrows lowered suspiciously and Blair demanded, “Spill it, Jim.”

Jim grimaced. “Maybe it’s because you’ve been so on edge, but I’ve been…lazy. No, that’s not the right word. Easy-going? I don’t know. Like things will work out however they will and it doesn’t matter what I do.”

“Fatalistic?” Blair suggested, frowning.

“No, that’s not right either. Whatever it is, I can’t remember feeling like this before,” Jim admitted uncomfortably. “I guess I don’t mind you being in charge right now, even though I know I should.”

Blair’s frown shifted into a thoughtful expression and he mused, “Interesting. Like there’s only room for one alpha here at a time. Makes sense, really. And it would explain my behavior, too, now that I think about it. Man, I really have been running you ragged, haven’t I?”

Jim grinned. “Like I said, I sure as hell didn’t mind that part.”

“No, I bet not,” Blair agreed, grinning back.

Feeling that the worst of it was over, now that Blair knew how he was acting, Jim asked, “You ready to go see Simon now?”

Blair groaned. “I completely forgot.”

“I couldn’t tell,” Jim commented dryly as he stood. “C’mon, Chief. We’re going to be late as it is.”

Blair stood and they headed for the door to pick up their coats. Jim was down to a smaller cast already, thankfully, and could wear his usual jacket. As they left the apartment, Blair gripped his belt and Jim sighed, shaking his head.

So much for self-awareness.

*  *  *  *

They had agreed to meet Simon, Rafe, and Steven at a restaurant not far from the station, since Rafe and Simon were still on duty. Simon had brought Rafe in on the situation the day after the impromptu visit from the Seattle people. Both he and Jim thought it best to have another trained fighter on the team and while Blair couldn’t fault the strategy, he still didn’t like to have Jim’s secret out with an ever-increasing number of people.

It didn’t help that Rafe kept looking at Jim as though waiting for him to suddenly sprout fur.

Sliding into the booth after Jim, he greeted Steven, “Hey. What’s up?”

“Not much,” Steven replied, smiling. Glancing at his brother, he asked, “How’s your arm?”

Jim shrugged and answered, “Feels good to me, just waiting to get the cast off next week probably.”

“That’s what you think,” Simon commented, joining them.

Rafe was next to Simon and slid into the booth beside Steven before Simon capped off the seat. It looked like a tight squeeze, despite the generous space the booth provided, and Blair hid a grin at the sight.

Jim frowned at their Captain and demanded, “What’s that mean?”

Simon pulled his glasses off, pinching the bridge of his nose as he explained, “If you take it off that fast, people will start asking questions. Right Sandburg?”

Blair had to nod. “I was going to talk to you about it, but I think two more weeks to be safe.”

Jim grumbled under his breath, but everyone ignored him.

The waitress arrived just then and there was a jumble of ordering drinks and food. Blair leaned on Jim as they waited for the others to make their requests, sliding an arm around his lover’s waist. The last week of cramming research in with his other obligations were taking a toll. He wasn’t able to keep going the way he used to and exhaustion dogged him. It was a wonder that he’d had all that energy to tackle Jim the way he had for the last week.

“So what’s going on?” Simon demanded once the woman was gone. “What have you found out?”

Blair relayed the same information to the others that he just had to Jim at the loft, keeping their hands laced together as he talked. It was the easiest way to keep his hand from wandering into verboten territory while in public. Jim’s close proximity was distracting, the smell of him underlying everything else, sitting this close together. Not fifteen minutes after sitting down, he was half-hard and working up to a full erection.

Rafe leaned on the table and asked, “So what do we do now?”

Shrugging, Blair answered, “Nothing. I don’t think they’ll come back without asking permission next time.”

“But about that interference thing?” Simon prompted.

Blair scowled. “I haven’t found anything out about that yet. Not even a hint or clue.”

“It sounds important.”

Blair couldn’t help glaring at Rafe’s words, snapping, No kidding!”

“Easy there, Junior,” Jim murmured. “He’s on our side, remember?”

Blair sighed and apologized, “Sorry, Rafe. Didn’t mean to jump down your throat. Hopefully I’ll find something soon that’ll explain the whole thing.”

Steven ventured, “What if you don’t?”

While he didn’t want to think about it, Blair knew that was a possibility. He also knew it was more than possible that their new ‘friends’ were simply waiting for the lack of information to get to them. That they assumed Jim and Blair would make contact once they couldn’t find out what was going on. Not that he was giving up, not by a long shot. There was too much at stake.

“I’ll think of something,” Blair promised.

And he would. It just might not involve Jim or the others, which he didn’t plan on mentioning.

Jim canted his head at Blair, as if hearing something in his voice, but didn’t comment.

The waitress arrived with their drinks and Blair took his ale with a knowing grin at Jim.

Jim made a face and said, “I am not carting your sorry ass home, Sandburg.”

“Please. A few ales aren’t going to put me under,” Blair retorted loftily. “I’ll have you know that when I spent time in umph!”

He bit sharply at Jim’s hand to move it, and then wished that he hadn’t. Jim removed the offending hand, as intended, but Blair was suddenly and desperately hard, wanting to do a helluva lot more than that to his lover. Jim met his gaze and his mouth opened slightly, as if tasting the pheromones that Blair knew he had to be putting out. For the first time ever, he wanted to bury himself in Jim’s body, to take the big man hard and wild.

“Ah shit. Will you two knock it off! Worse than a couple of newlyweds.”

Simon’s querulous complaint was like cold water and cut right through the heat that had flushed through Blair. Tearing his gaze from Jim’s, Blair took a deep drink from his ale and then grinned wolfishly at Simon. “Technically, we are newlyweds, since it’s been less than a year from when we first…”

“TMI, Sandburg!” Simon exclaimed, overriding him.

The waitress arrived with impeccable timing with their breadsticks and soups.

Dinner passed in a bit of a fog for Blair. While the others talked shop, with Steven looking on in obvious admiration, Blair couldn’t keep still. Not until one of his hands landed squarely between Jim’s legs to squeeze tight. He barely heard Jim’s hiss of reaction and knew none of the others even noticed anything. Jim had a great poker face, after all, and Blair did his best to look interested as Rafe and Simon bonded over some college sports affiliation. Most of his attention was on the heat gripped in his hand, the feel of his lover’s hardness through the denim.

When it came time to pay the bill, Blair withdrew his hand reluctantly as they all brought out wallets. It had only been about an hour and a half, longer than Simon usually allowed for dinner on duty, but it had seemed an eternity to Blair. Finally, they were outside in the cold night air, which felt great on his flushed face. They all said goodbye at the door and split up to go to their own vehicles, though Simon and Rafe offered a ride to Steven, who’d been dropped off by a friend.

Once in the truck, Blair attacked Jim’s mouth, devouring him and pushing him up against the door. He broke it off, panting harshly, and ordered, “Home. Now.”

Jim licked at his lips and nodded, not saying a word as he started the engine and pulled out of the parking lot into traffic.

Blair kept his hand on Jim’s inner thigh the whole ride home.

*  *  *  *

Somehow, Jim had forgotten that Blair had had a steady stream of women in his life for a long time. That the other man’s reputation for sexual prowess had made its way through the station shortly ahead of Blair himself. Since they’d become lovers, Jim had always been the aggressor, taking Blair as passionately as he knew how, though he did sometimes feel that was lacking, since he wasn’t exactly the lothario that Sandburg was.

He might have blocked all that out before, but couldn’t ignore the way Blair was doing his best to excavate his tonsils by tongue alone. Pressed up against the wall, Jim could barely think with the maddening way Blair’s hands seemed to caress every bit of him at the same time and the thigh pressed strong between his thigh.

Breaking off the kiss, Blair nipped at Jim’s lower lip before ordering, “Upstairs. Now.”

Jim shuddered in pure lust.

Whatever was going on, he liked it.

Blair’s hands were on his ass the entire walk upstairs, squeezing and rubbing. Once in the bedroom, he turned and pulled Blair in tight, kissing him hungrily. He felt Blair’s hands tear at his belt and then his pants and returned the favor. They were naked fast, thank God, and he groaned as Blair jerked him off, hard and fast, obliterating him in just a few minutes. Holding tight to Blair with his cast-arm, Jim groaned loudly as he came, spurting over his lover’s hand.

When Blair shoved him to the bed, he landed with a grunt and just lay there, still gasping for air. Looking up at the other man, Jim asked, “You sure you know what you’re doing, Chief?”

Blair licked his lips as he climbed onto the bed and straddled him. “I think I can figure it out.”

“I don’t know, Chief, it’s harder than it looks,” Jim teased, reaching out with his good hand to stroke lightly down his lover’s hard dick.

Blair snorted. “I would say you’ve lost your higher brain functions thanks to orgasm, but your humor’s always sucked.”

Jim grinned, raising his legs up to expose himself as he countered, “Sure you want to be smug right now?”

Blair’s breath hitched audibly. “Maybe not.”

If anyone had told him a few months ago that he’d be offering his ass to anyone, even Blair, Jim would’ve slugged them. Right then, though, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. He knew there was something missing that Blair would fill up with his body. Even though he could count his lovers on one hand, Jim wasn’t afraid to do anything with the one kneeling between his legs. Trust issues were not among the problems their relationship faced.

I’m surprised he lasted this long without wanting to fuck me, Jim thought as Blair grabbed the lube from the nightstand. He’s not exactly Mr. Subtle when it comes to sex and what he wants.

Unlike a lot of guys, Jim had never assumed that Blair was a bottom boy when it came to sex. He’d never actually thought of Blair as gay at all, or even bisexual. He’d accidentally heard a lot over the years they’d lived together, coming home before an appointed time or hearing Blair in a car outside with his date. Jim knew just how aggressive the other man could be when it came to getting laid. He never forced himself on anyone, Blair was much too honorable for that, but he was damn good at seducing the women with whom he went on dates with.

Now was no exception. Jim groaned in pleasure as Blair busied himself probing his hole with a slick finger while simultaneously licking a path over and around Jim’s spent cock. It never got old, watching Blair lick him clean, just as he loved doing the same thing to his lover.

Two fingers was definitely a strain and he grimaced, despite the distraction of Blair’s mouth now sucking on his sluggish dick. Blair went slow though and he was able to relax into the careful massage and stretching. Jim lost track of how long that went on; long enough for him to feel the strain in his thighs from holding up his legs.

As if sensing that, Blair withdrew his fingers and released Jim’s dick. Looking at him, Blair suggested, “Let’s get you more comfortable.”

They spent a couple of minutes putting a pillow under his hips and arranging him so that he had back support. He felt a little wimpy at the amount of care Blair used, but didn’t voice any complaints, suspecting that he would need it by the time this was over.

“There we go,” Blair murmured, bending down to take his mouth in a slow, deep kiss.

Jim sighed into the kiss, relaxing even further at the possession. Those two fingers returned and it was easier this time as Blair gently finger-fucked him. They made out, trading control of the kiss back and forth, like true partners, equals in every way. Jim suddenly realized that was what had been missing from their lives; equality. He’d still felt responsible for Blair, like the other man hadn’t been a cop in his own right for the last few years. That had translated into the bedroom, so it was no wonder Blair was practically running him down in his need.

Three fingers pushed into him, provoking a hiss of pain from Jim. Blair shot him a questioning glance and Jim shook his head, letting him know it was fine.

With that permission, Blair returned to coaxing the most from Jim’s body. Instead of his mouth on Jim’s dick, though, he said, “Can’t wait to be in you, Jim, need you so much. Gonna make you feel so fucking good, you’re going to fly, man. Gonna do you slow and hard, make you ache for it. Then tomorrow, I’m going to do you so fast and dirty, your head’s going to spin.”

Jim shuddered at the words, succumbing to the images they brought to mind and collapsing fully against the pillows.

“That’s it, take my fingers, baby, you do it so good, letting me in like this,” Blair continued in that low, hypnotizing voice. “I know you haven’t done this in a long time, but it’s going to be better than anything else you’ve ever done.”

Jim believed him.

It wasn’t much later that Blair pulled his fingers free and coated his cock with the lube. Jim lifted his legs again, this time resting them over his lover’s shoulders and back as Blair moved into position above him. He pushed into Jim’s hole in a steady move, stopping at intervals to let them both catch their breaths. Jim’s free hand clenched in the blankets and he moaned almost continually as his lover’s cock filled him to the hilt.

Completely seated in Jim’s body brought Blair up close enough to kiss him again, which he did in deep, nasty kisses. Short ones by necessity, given their position and Blair’s continuous undulation inside him. The world was one big swirl of sensation as Jim’s senses focused solely on his lover in a way they never had before. Without that link, he knew that he would be lost to the insanity assaulting his body.

Blair’s thrusts were forceful, but slow, as promised, tantalizing and making Jim want more, also as promised. When he rubbed against Jim’s prostate, electricity shot through Jim and he shouted in response, jerking hard in reaction. Blair maintained that angle, speeding up and going harder as nature and need took over them both. Jim’s heels dug into his lover’s back, urging him on as words spilled unheeded from him.

When he came the second time, the world exploded into that prism of wild colors and Jim felt Blair’s mind saturate his own. All the love and need and joy and lust and exasperation slammed through him in one, massive tidal wave. He didn’t even get a particular thought from Blair like before, but rather the whole of what made up his lover.

And then the world went black.

*  *  *  *

Blair woke groggy and exhausted, feeling like he’d gone ten rounds with someone a hell of a lot bigger than he was. His entire body, especially his ass, was one big bruise and he could barely find the energy to lift his head, let alone move. None of which made any sense, since he hadn’t been the one getting fucked. The last thing he remembered was an incredible union with Jim, his mind flooded with the other man’s entire being.

It had been the most incredible thing ever, hands down.

“My ass is killing me,” Jim groaned, poking him with an elbow.

Blair winced and apologized, “Didn’t mean to fall asleep in you, babe, I’m sorry. Hang on, let me pull out.”

Jim hissed in pain as Blair slowly withdrew. Shifting down his lover’s body, Blair checked carefully for signs of damage. He didn’t spot anything and there was no blood on his dick, so he figured that Jim was just sore from his muscles being stretched all night.

“No, Sandburg, you think?” Jim demanded. “Just get the shower running so it’s good and hot by the time I hobble down there.”

Blair blinked as he realized that Jim had answered his unspoken assumption.

“What do you mean, unspoken?”

Jaw dropping a bit, Blair thought, I mean, I’m not speaking right now, I’m thinking.

Jim turned over with a muted groan and complained, “Very funny.”

I’m not joking, Jim.

It was Jim’s jaw that dropped a little then and he said, “Okay. This is weird, even for us.”

Blair grinned, thinking, Give it a shot.

Jim frowned, but said without speaking, This can’t be right.

Blair whooped in excitement and exclaimed, “This is so awesome! Jim, do you know what this means?”

That were more freaks than we even thought?” Jim demanded sourly.

Making a face, Blair retorted, “No! That we’ve somehow jumped to the next evolutionary stage! The advantage this gives us is unprecedented! Think about it. We’re out of range for cell phones, one of us is kidnapped, all we have to do is think our location and the other can find him!”

Good going, using the kidnapped example, Junior. Now we’re jinxed.

Blair laughed in delight. “Oh, come on, Jim. You’ve got to admit this is cool!”

Jim sighed and countered, “Do you really want to be able to hear all of my thoughts, all the time?”

“Hmm. You might be right about that,” Blair mused. Not that we’ll be able to help it.

Jim grimaced. “I heard that.”

Blaire winced as he said, “Sorry. Okay. We can fix this.”

“Oh yeah? How?”

“I just need to think.”

That’s the problem.

You’re not helping.

Jim opened his mouth, then shut it again. He sounded annoyed even in his thoughts as he replied silently, I’m going to take a shower. Fix this, Sandburg.

Blair watched his lover limp carefully towards the stairs and called after him, “This isn’t my fault, you know!”

There was no answer, audible or otherwise.

Sighing, Blair flopped back on the bed and pondered on how the hell to fix telepathy.