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Notes: In response to the 'get Jim and Blair into bed' challenge. The title is pretty random and doesn't have much to do with the story. Sorry...

Breathing Room
by the lady of shalott

The increasingly harsh rasp of Blair's breathing echoed loudly in the Sentinel's ears as he ran down the alleyway behind the staggering younger man. *He won't be able to keep this up much longer,* he grimly realized, pulling the gun from his waist holster and checking the ammunition as he ran. He silently cursed himself a dozen ways from Sunday for having dragged Blair into this mess when the anthropology student was already nearly keeling over from exhaustion after a grueling weekend of grading finals. *He told you how tired he was. For once he asks to sit one out, circles under his eyes, and instead you bitch and moan at him, haul him along on a stakeout when any idiot could see he can barely keep his eyes open...*

"J--jim," Blair gasped, stumbling to a halt. "Can't... breathe. Better split up." He gestured towards a dumpster. "I'll hide in there. You... lead 'em off." *Worth a try,* he thought, hoping to hit the 'Blessed Protector' nerve by suggesting that Jim draw off the pursuit. Jim's next words made it clear that he needed to work on his subtlety.

"What you mean is, I leave you here and take off. Not on your life, Chief," he responded sharply, grabbing Blair's arm and pulling him back into a slow lope, hearing attuned to the rapidly gaining footsteps of their pursuers.

"Can't run anymore," Blair protested, panting as he was dragged along. "No point... them getting... both of us. Can't rescue me if they've got you."

"I can't rescue you from a gunshot to the head, either, and that's what you'll get if they catch you. These are not hostage-taking types." Jim opened his senses, searching around for some kind of shelter. He recoiled reflexively as the obscene sounds of heavy grunts and moaning invaded his hearing, but then deliberately turned it back up. Pinpointing the location, he led Blair over to the building where the noises were coming from, practically shoving him through the front doors whose glass panes were covered to opacity with ferocious graffiti.

Blair tumbled through and collapsed on the floor, head leaning on his knees. Jim felt another shock of guilt surge through him as he took in the trembling limbs, followed by affectionate pride as the younger man managed to pull himself back up and straighten his shoulders.

"Now what?" Blair looked up at Jim hopefully.

"Now... we hide in here. They might suspect the place or hang out around there for a while, hoping that we'll come out." Jim jerked a thumb towards the narrow flight of stairs going up into the dim interior, "Come on, and let me do the talking for once." He ignored the subvocalized grumbling behind him as they walked up the steps.

They found a small desk at the top of the stairs. The rather bored-looking young woman at the table, her metallic blond hair glaringly artificial to the Sentinel's eyes, barely looked up as they approached her. Her eyes flicked from Jim's muscular frame over to Blair's slighter form, taking into account the glazed look in the younger man's eyes and his disheveled condition. She addressed Jim, "You want company, toys, or just a private room?"

Jim devoutly hoped that Blair was sufficiently out of it to miss the significance of this conversation. "Just the room," he said crisply. "I've already got the entertainment." He jerked his head just a little towards the younger man.

Blair, standing behind him, felt a hot flush crawl over his cheeks. *God, that woman must think I'm some kind of prostitute.* He snuck a glance over at Jim's near-perfect body, rear neatly encased in snug jeans. *As if Jim would have to pay someone for sex. More like the other way around.*

Jim tensed as he heard the door at the base of the stairs open, but the staggering gait was unlikely to belong to the gang members on their tail. He sniffed and picked up the scent of cheap whiskey, confirmed the identification with a quick glance. *Just another client. All the better to have someone coming right after us -- it'll help cover up our trail.* He accepted a key from the woman and handed her a folded bill, then quickly pulled Blair down the hall, wincing at some of the sounds he could hear behind the doors. Reaching number 18, he nudged the door open with one foot, surveyed the interior with a practiced eye, then motioned Blair inside and followed him in.

Perching on the sagging queen-sized bed as the door shut, Blair sighed heavily. "Think we lost 'em?"

Poised by the door, Jim extended his hearing. The immediate noises kept intruding, but he managed to filter enough out to pick up the scattered voices of the hunters, who were obliging him by shouting to each other. "They lost the trail, but they're betting we went to ground," he reported grimly. "They've started looking around from building to building, and they're coming towards this one. Try and catch your breath -- we're going to have to make a break for it. Maybe we can get up to the roof or something."

"Wait. Jim, did those guys get a look at us? I mean, would they know us if they saw us? It was pretty dark in that alleyway for those of us unendowed with Sentinel sight, and they were standing under streetlights, which would have made it even harder for them to see into a darker area."

Jim considered while picking up more bits and pieces of the conversation. "I don't think they did," he said finally. "We had enough of a head start on them that they were only following us based on sound."

"So maybe we should just lie low in here. Because I hate to say it, but I am not in shape for another exciting chase scene." Blair looked down at his hands. "Sorry, big guy. If I weren't here, I bet you'd be out of this by now."

"Hey, in case you've forgotten, I'm the one who hauled you into this." Jim sighed. "You knew your limits and you tried to tell me you weren't up for this tonight, and I ignored it because... because I didn't want to sit around without company for six hours at what I thought was going to be a boring stakeout." *Yeah. Afraid of a little boredom. Hell of a reason to get your best friend nearly killed.*

"No," Blair corrected quietly. "You wanted your partner along on a stakeout, and you had a right to want that. I committed to being your backup, and now that's part of my job -- you know, that whole duty concept. I shouldn't have pushed the envelope all weekend and ended up useless tonight when I knew you were going to need me along."

"Hey, this is not like you ran off and got plastered, Sandburg," Jim protested. "You worked your ass off all weekend, and you've got a right to be tired. Stop beating on yourself for it." Blair just smiled a little and shook his head, but he subsided, which Jim decided to consider a victory. He listened some more and felt fear come leaping back.

"What is it?" Blair easily picked up on the tension creeping back into his partner's frame. "They're coming in?"

Jim nodded. "They're talking to the receptionist, asking her if she's seen anyone looking suspicious come in." He turned around and looked the barren room over, jaw clenching. *Damn! Bolted window!*

"Well, don't just stand there, come on," Blair said.

"Where exactly do you think we're going?" Jim asked, bewildered.

Blair started stripping off his clothing. "Bed," he said pointedly. "Which is where we would be if we were patrons of this exciting establishment instead of the people those guys are looking for."

Jim gaped for a bit, shocked out of it only when he overheard the receptionist agreeing to let the gang members check out the rooms as long as they were quiet. Pushing off his sneakers, he took off his shirt and folded it neatly, only to have Blair grab the shirt, rumple it, and toss it haphazardly into the air. "Hey!"

"Man, someone horny and stupid enough to pick up a cheap male whore and drag 'em to a flophouse in this neighborhood is not going to be worrying about folding his clothing!" Blair retorted, decorating one of the cracked wooden bedposts with his boxers. "Come on, hurry!"

For a moment, Jim could only stare at his Guide, already naked and climbing beneath the covers. *Cheap? No one in their right mind would believe anyone as incredibly sexy as Blair is cheap -- and what the hell am I thinking?* He took a deep breath, then pulled off his jeans and boxers and threw them on the floor as he switched off the sickly fluorescent overhead and got into the bed with Blair.

Violet-blue light filtered in from a neon sign outside, spilling over them and limning their bodies with an otherworldly glow as they tentatively edged towards each other. Blair, curled up slightly on his side, reached out and rubbed Jim's shoulder, tracing patterns of shadow on the illuminated skin. His voice slid naturally into the low cadences of his Guide voice, "Relax. Just relax and focus on their footsteps against the floor, their voices in the hallway."

"They're coming," Jim reported tensely. Senses straining to catch every little noise were suddenly overwhelmed by the sound of a loud, throaty moan from Blair. Panicking, Jim reached out and started running his hands over Blair's body, checking for an injury. "What's wrong?" he hissed as Blair eeked quietly at his touch.

"Nothing's wrong -- we're supposed to be getting all hot and heavy in here," Blair whispered back, an odd catch in his voice. "Moan or something!" Jim flushed and essayed a groan. Despite the dark, he could clearly see Blair rolling his eyes. "Oh, man. Come on, try to sound like you have a hard-on, not indigestion." Jim tried again, without much more success, and Blair started to hiccup with stifled laughter. "Big guy, you are never going to win an Oscar."

Jim found himself choking down laughter, but the sound of footsteps outside the door next to theirs cut off his amusement. "Almost here."

Blair bit his lip and rolled onto his stomach. "Get on top of me," he whispered.

Jim swallowed hard as he complied, Blair's buttocks firm and warm against his cock and thighs. He held himself very still. *I am NOT enjoying this. This does NOT feel good,* he mentally chanted to himself. *I am NOT going to even THINK about moving against--* "Oh, shit," he muttered to himself under his breath and shifted his attention to counting the fake woodgrain lines in the headboard.

*I don't believe I'm going to say this.* Blair winced as he cleared his throat a little. "Jim... you probably need to move a little here. I mean, not to criticize your technique, and I don't know how your dates have felt about this, but..." *Stop babbling NOW, Sandburg,* he admonished himself, clamping his jaw shut in the middle of the sentence.

Working hard to keep his voice level, Jim managed, "Right. Fine. I'll move." *God, what did I do to piss You off this badly?* he plaintively wondered. As he started to rock back and forth, he gasped involuntarily at the sensation.

"Yes, that's right," Blair muttered a little unsteadily, his own hips starting to twitch in sympathetic response. *I am NOT enjoying this. This does NOT feel good. Oh god, is he getting hard? Oh god, he is... Oh god, so am I... Okay, okay, I'm just experiencing a normal physical reaction to external stimuli heightened by an adrenaline rush. Oh, man, that feels good...* He started to move a little more as he heard Jim begin to pant heavily. "Jim... Louder," he urged, insanely wishing he had the nerve to say 'harder' instead.

Liberated by the command, Jim let the moans clawing their way out of his throat come freely, shivering as his cock hardened, sliding along the enticing cleft. The scent of arousal -- his own, Blair's -- started to overwhelm his sense of smell. The silken glide of Blair's skin between his legs, rhythm building slow and hot and sweet between them as Blair moved with him, hips thrusting back against his cock -- everything seemed to be conspiring against him, eroding his control.

Blair rocked back against Jim, hips lifting as his cock brushed against the sheets, trembling as Jim's cock slid back and forth between his buttocks. He sighed and moaned as well, some small still-rational part of his brain attempting to come up with plausible excuses to offer Jim after this as every stroke of his partner's rigid length evoked an unsettling pleasure from him. When Jim's hand unexpectedly came around to grip his shaft, he bucked almost violently, only the other man's weight keeping them both on the bed.

When the door edged open, they barely noticed, lost in the deepening whirl of arousal and desire. When it shut hastily a moment later, they didn't pause for a moment, bodies still struggling and writhing with and against each other.

"Blair... Oh... Mine," Jim felt the possessive words slip out without volition, worked out of him. "Mine!" he repeated, fiercely now, thrusting harder and pushing the slender, firm body beneath him hard against the sheets.

"Yes," Blair whispered, eyes leaking tears from sheer intensity. "Yes." He pushed back as Jim's hand tightened on him, loving the unfamiliar sensation of the warm, muscular body blanketing his own, the cock sliding between his thighs and nudging his tightening balls. "Oh... oh..." he almost whimpered as the wave of his climax hit, exploded out of him in hot, creamy pulsations.

Jim moaned wordlessly as the evidence of Blair's orgasm flowed over his hand, and thrust hard once more between the younger man's thighs. Blair closed his legs together and squeezed, then felt the hot rush of Jim's completion flooding over his groin.

Trembling, Blair folded his arms and rested his head on them, using the elevation to give him some chest wall room so he could breathe despite the heavy weight of Jim's body atop him. Jim slid down a little, rested his head on the slope of Blair's upper back, tendrils of soft brown hair tickling his cheekbones. Entwined, they lay together, labored breathing slowly easing, mouths too dry to venture into the territory of speech.

The interruption, when it came, was graceless, a harsh reminder of reality. The door opened and the glaring overhead light was switched back on.

"Hey, this isn't a hotel," brassy tones intruded. "If you want more time, it'll cost you."

Feeling Blair tense beneath him, Jim raised himself up on one arm and glared at the figure of the bouncer standing in the doorway. "We'll be out of here in a minute," he grated. "Close the goddamned door, now." The beefy man shrugged equably and obliged.

He took the rest of his weight off Blair's body, feeling the separation keenly as he lost the tactile sense of his Guide's heartbeat. Sky met ocean as Blair pushed himself up and their gazes connected, asking questions of each other.

Questions, Jim decided, that were not going to get answered in a dingy room in one of the sleaziest excuses for a brothel in Cascade. "Come on, Chief," he said quietly, reaching out to squeeze the other man's shoulder, trying to convey what he meant with the touch more than his words. "Those creeps are gone. Let's get out of here and get the APB out on them. We... we can figure everything else out once we get home."

Blair looked back at him, silent for once, until a cold fist of fear started tightening around his chest. A warm hand covering his own disrupted the growing tension. "Sounds good, big guy. But I think we really should go home before we go to the station."

Grinning widely in relief, Jim climbed out of the bed and reached for his clothes, even venturing a little teasing commentary, "Sandburg, what about all that stuff you were saying earlier about duty?"

"Yeah, well, you're not the one we both came all over," Blair said, smirking as Jim blushed. "But hey, if you want to explain to Simon what we were doing that got me all sticky, far be it from me to deny you." He clambered out of the bed, using a corner of the sheet to wipe himself off, somewhat ineffectually, before grabbing his boxers.

Still blushing, Jim mumbled, "Ahh... let's head home."

"I thought -- ick -- you'd see it my way." Blair pulled on his clothes, making a face as the fabric stuck to his body.

"Somehow I always end up seeing things your way. Or at least doing them your way," Jim grumbled.

"It's because you love me, man," Blair said lightly as he pulled his jacket on and came to stand by his Sentinel, his tired eyes nevertheless bright.

Jim reached out and cupped Blair's face with one callused palm. "Yeah. Because I love you," he echoed softly.

The End