Note: See part one for warnings.
He watched Blair leave the bathroom, and then he slowly, tiredly began to remove the prison uniform he was still wearing. He let it fall to the floor and kicked it aside with his foot, as if he could banish the entire experience with that one, simple gesture. He flipped on the water in the shower and stepped into the tub. It was hot, too hot, really, for his sensitive skin, but he felt the need to sanitize himself, to have the taint burned away.
He heard the soft whoosh of the door opening, as Blair came back into the bathroom.
"I'm just leaving the clothes here for you, man. Okay?"
"'Kay, Chief." His voice came out strained.
"Are you all right, Jim?"
It hurt. It hurt so bad that he couldn't answer.
He started to whimper. Blair pulled back to the curtain.
"Fuck!" He quickly turned on the cold water and turned down the hot. "Jim, are you hurt, man? Shit! You've got welts all over your body. Come on. Stand under the cool water. Let it soothe your skin."
He inched under the spray, but he kept turned away from Blair. The memories of Jenkins and what had happened to him in the shower at the prison made his skin crawl. He couldn't stand to be naked and vulnerable with someone who was still fully clothed, even if it was his best friend.
Blair sensed his distress and pulled away, closing the curtain again. "I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to intrude on your privacy. I just didn't want you to be in pain."
"S'okay, Chief," he said. "Not you. Not your fault."
"I'm just going to stand here in case you need me. But when you're through, you let me know, and I'll leave."
He took the soap, worked up a lather and scrubbed his body, vigorously, everywhere. The water went cold and then icy. He started to shiver and then to shudder all over. But still he scrubbed.
"Jim, man. You about finished up in there?"
But he couldn't stop washing.
"Aren't you getting cold?"
He didn't answer, too absorbed in trying to get clean.
"Jim? Man? I'm coming in again. I'm sorry. I know I said I wouldn't. But-- Sorry."
He pushed back the curtain, slowly, trying not to startle him. "Ah, man. The water's freezing." He turned it off. "And what'd you do to your poor skin?"
He looked down at himself. His skin was an alarmingly bright shade of red.
"Had to get it off," he mumbled.
"Okay, buddy. I understand. I'd say you took care of it pretty good. Are you dialed down?" Blair asked, and he nodded. "Okay. That's good. Now, come on out."
He did as Blair asked and sighed softly when he felt a warm towel against his skin and Blair's hands moving over him, drying him off.
"Let's get your robe on you, buddy."
He waited patiently, as still and loose-limbed as a rag doll, while Blair eased his robe over his arms and tied it at the waist. He let his Guide lead him out of the bathroom and over to the sofa. The floor felt strangely insubstantial beneath his feet, like he was only partially inhabiting his body. He still shook violently, both from the icy water and his own feelings.
Blair eased him down onto the cushions, propped him up against the pillows and covered him with the afghan.
"I'm gonna make you some tea, buddy."
He nodded and closed his eyes. He tracked Blair into the kitchen and listened to the pot-rattling, cabinet-shutting, paper-crumpling sounds of the tea-making. It sounded so ordinary, so beautiful, like nothing else ever had. And he couldn't help the few, tired tears that slid down his cheeks.
Blair came back with the mug, sat down beside him and pressed the cup into his hand. He took a long sip and then just held onto it, letting the comforting warmth sink into him.
Blair slid an arm around his back, and the heavy, familiar weight of it felt like an anchor, helping him stay in his body, in his identity. His head suddenly seemed so heavy, and he let it fall onto Blair's shoulder. And then, Blair pulled him closer, into his arms, and he was finally able to relax. He let out his breath in a long sigh and shut his eyes and rested. Blair stroked his hair and held him and didn't try to make him talk. He'd never been more grateful to anyone in his entire life.
"I'm so tired, Chief," he finally said.
He could feel Blair nodding. "You've been through a lot."
"It was so-- All the hatred-- It-- It did something to me."
"Can you tell me?"
"I don't know exactly-- It's hard. It's-- You're supposed to hold on to yourself if you get captured. But I couldn't. I lost me. Like I was in some kind of zone out the whole time. But it wasn't my senses that were out of control, but some primal part of me."
"You must have felt really threatened for that to happen."
"Yeah," he said softly. "I did."
"The other inmates-- They gave you a hard time?"
He half laughed. "You could say that."
He felt Blair stiffen. The hand stroking his hair paused a moment before resuming its gentle ministrations. "Jim, were you... Did they... I'm sorry to have to be so blunt, but some of the things you said-- Were you raped? I really need you to tell me the truth. You could be torn or bleeding inside. "
"I wasn't raped, Chief. It's just--"
"Did they do something else to you?"
He shook his head. "But there was this other guy. He-- He got turned out. You know what that means?"
He felt Blair shaking his head. "Yeah. And you saw it?"
"I heard it. There were a whole bunch of them. They raped him all night. They made him say he loved it, that it was the best sex he'd ever had."
"Then there was this one greaseball-- He wanted to do the same thing to me, turn me into his bitch. He would have, too, if I hadn't gotten out of there."
Blair tightened his hold on him and laid his cheek against the top of his head. "You don't know that, man. You're no pushover. You know how to defend yourself."
"He would have brought his buddies. I wouldn't have had a chance. I never had a chance from the very beginning. That shithead saw right through me."
"That you were a cop, you mean?"
He shook his head. "No." He laughed. "You would have thought if somebody was going to see through me that's what it would have been. But nobody ever figured that out, except this Weasel who recognized me somehow. But he-- Well, he didn't turn out to be a problem."
"So what did this guy, the greaseball, have on you?"
He hesitated. "He sensed-- I don't know how. I guess the way animals just sense things. But he did know somehow. That I'd let guys fuck me before," he said, his voice trailing off.
"Yeah. Look, I know I should have said something--"
"It's okay, Jim."
"No, it's not. You live here. You had a right to--"
Blair shook his head. "No. Really. I mean-- It's okay. You know?"
And then he did know. He heard what was missing from Blair's reaction. The shock, the recriminations. Because Blair wasn't surprised, not even a little bit. Because Blair already knew, probably had known all along. Because living with Blair was like living in the wild. It was useless to think he could hide things. In fact, it seemed he only ever kept his secrets because Blair let him, like with this thing, because Blair-- Well, truthfully, he didn't always understand why Blair did what he did.
Still, he was back in his old life, and the old ways died hard.
"I don't even know why I did it. I have no idea what I was looking for," he said, giving lying one more shot.
"Don't you?" Blair asked, his voice patient.
And he knew that tone. He understood what it meant, that Blair knew very well what Jim had been out searching for in those other men. He knew it, and he knew that Jim knew it, too.
"I never would have done anything," he said softly.
Blair sighed. "Don't I know it."
And maybe those weren't the most erotic words in the English vocabulary. Maybe they wouldn't have turned anyone else on, ever. But they made a beeline straight for Jim's cock. The same red hot burning in his belly that he'd always felt just before going out and getting fucked surged powerfully through his gut, exponentially hotter and more urgent, now that he could admit the source of it.
If he'd been thinking clearly, he might have been struck by the irony of wanting so desperately, so unapologetically, the same thing he'd been so terrified of in prison, so ashamed of in the past. But since he wasn't really thinking at all, he simply offered, "We could do something about it now."
He felt Blair suck in his breath and hold it. "Maybe this isn't the best time, man. I mean, you just had a really traumatic--"
He took Blair's hand and pressed it to his hard dick that throbbed through the terry cloth. "I'd say it's the perfect time."
"I want to go to bed with you."
Blair's heart sounded like it was playing hopscotch. "I want that, too." Jim could feel his chest heaving. "I just don't want us to do anything you'll regret later."
He gently pulled out of Blair's embrace and stood up to face him. He undid the belt at his waist and shrugged off the robe. His cock curved up toward his belly, fully erect.
"I want you."
But he could sense Blair's resolve weakening. He could smell the arousal flooding off him.
He took his own cock in his hand, not stroking, not pleasuring, just holding it, trying to make Blair understand how hard he was, how much he needed. "I have to have you," he said.
And that was enough--much more than any mortal man could resist, even if he was trying to be careful and protective of his best friend. Blair scrambled up from the sofa and was on him in an instant. Apparently, knowing Jim's secrets and keeping quiet for so long had left him pent-up and needy, and he poured out his want all over Jim's skin, kissing and touching and practically consuming him.
Only a few minutes earlier when they'd both been in the bathroom, the power imbalance of dressed and not dressed had terrified him. But now, something about the scratch of denim, the slide of flannel against his own nakedness did something inexplicably erotic to him. He got off on it: knowing that Blair had complete access to all his most tender places, feeling his hands stroking his naked penis, cupping his bared balls, while all he could manage was second hand contact, through the barrier of Blair's clothes.
It finally dawned on him that he'd been waiting all his life for someone with whom he could be totally vulnerable, the right someone. Blair.
"Mmm," he moaned between kisses. "Upstairs."
He had this picture in his head of himself stretched out on his bed and Blair stretched out on him.
"'Kay," Blair answered, breathily, still kissing him.
Together, they stumbled up the stairs. He quickly threw back the covers and took Blair by the hand.
"Can I?" he asked, running one hand down the front of Blair's shirt.
Blair nodded, and he pulled off his clothes and tossed them to the floor in a frenzy. When he finally reached bare skin, he began to kiss and explore, even more frantically, his awareness a dizzy, sensual blur made up of the flavor of Blair's skin, the smell of his sweat, the hard contours of his own passion. He pushed Blair down onto the bed, so that he was sitting on the edge of it. And then he fell to his knees and buried his face in his lap, going to the source, the pure scent, the undiluted taste.
As he made love to Blair with his mouth, he couldn't help thinking back to his college hero, who obviously hadn't known shit about blow jobs if he'd thought Jim's inexperienced, terrified, forced effort to please him was something to get excited about. Jim had learned a lot about giving head since then, and he lavished all that skill and experience and some very real enthusiasm on Blair's cock, making him wail like he'd never heard anyone wail during sex before.
When he felt Blair's balls draw up, though, he pulled back.
"Whaa--" Blair muttered, incoherently, his disappointment plain.
Jim rubbed his thighs. "I just don't want you to finish yet."
"Oh, yeah. Sorry, man."
He pulled at Jim's arm to bring him up onto the bed with him.
"Lie back," Blair said, clearly intending to return the favor.
He shook his head. "I had something else in mind."
Blair's pupils dilated with lust. "Oh, yeah," he said, unconsciously licking his lips.
Jim scooted across the bed, painfully hard now, and dug condoms and lube out of the back of his nightstand drawer where he'd stashed them, out of sight, out of mind. He pressed them into Blair's hand, and his partner's deep, blue eyes widened with surprise.
"But I thought--"
Jim turned onto his side and pulled his knees up. "I need you."
"Are you sure? Maybe we should--"
"Please!" he said, unable to keep the driven, needy compulsion out of his voice.
Blair sucked in his breath hard. "God."
And then those big, capable hands were on him again, touching him everywhere, warm and questing, and then cool and slick as the adventuring fingers began to scout out his inner mysteries. No matter how much he begged, Blair would not be rushed. He took his time and got to know him very well. By the time he finally pulled on the condom, lubed his cock and entered him, Jim's nerves were stretched to the finest point of their endurance. The need had grown beyond his ability to bear it. So much so that the searing, overstretched sensation of possession didn't even strike him as pain, but as a remedy.
As Blair fucked him, he also kissed and sucked his neck, whispered in his ear, fisted his cock in time to his thrusts. At first, there was a part of him that found it disconcerting to have someone else, even Blair, so in control of all his most tender places--his ass and his dick and his soul. But soon enough, he felt even that holdout aspect of his psyche surrendering to the very rightness of the act, to the inescapable feeling that this was what he'd been made for, to spread his legs for Blair, to get fucked into drooling insensibility, to be possessed by him in every definition of the word.
"Ahhhh, Jim!" Blair screamed and came inside him.
And even though the condom was in the way and he couldn't feel Blair's come filling him up, still, he could feel the pulsing of Blair's body and his cock swelling inside him. And that was enough to send him so far over the edge he couldn't keep from blacking out.
When he came to, Blair lay pressed against his back, breathing heavily against his shoulder. He had softened enough to slip from his body, and Jim felt the loss.
Blair kissed the curve of his neck. "Are you okay?"
He nodded, still too dazed to speak.
"I'm going to get a wash cloth. I'll be right back."
He nodded again and felt Blair's heat move away from him. He listened to his bare feet go thudding down the stairs. Then he turned over onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. This was always the worst part, when his mind clicked back into action and he had to contemplate what he'd done. What he was. A bitch. A natural bitch, just like the Greaseball had said. And with Blair, apparently, a bitch in heat.
In the moment, it had felt so right. But now, he couldn't help thinking about Jenkins, as weird as that was. He'd been so disgusted by what Jenkins had done in the shower, his little display of enthusiasm, but that had all been compelled, coerced, a matter of survival, no real choice. Jim had surrendered of his own volition. No one had forced him to his knees. He'd willingly, happily dropped to them, with eager lips and an obliging ass.
It seemed that the only thing the Greaseball hadn't gotten right about him was that he'd assumed he was up-for-grabs, anyone's bitch, and he wasn't. He was Blair's, and only Blair's.
But that still left him down on his knees, and he couldn't help feeling grief-stricken about it, knowing he wasn't the man he'd thought he was.
"Jim?" Blair said softly.
He turned his head and found Blair standing by the bed. He'd been so absorbed in his thoughts he hadn't even heard him return.
"Oh, Jim. No."
He didn't realize until then--until he saw the look on Blair's face, the stark terror, like maybe he'd injured Jim or traumatized him for life--that there were tears on his face. He didn't understand until he saw the sheer panic in his partner's eyes that Blair didn't feel any more in control of what they'd done than he did.
"I'm sorry, man. God. I thought you wanted-- But we shouldn't have. I knew we shouldn't."
"I just-- I feel so--" He shook his head.
"Ah, Jim. Jim." Blair's face broke open with understanding. "It doesn't have to be like that. Tops and bottoms and pitchers and catchers and all that shit. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't describe what's between us. Or, hell, between any real, genuine, flesh-and-blood people, because life is complicated. And so is sex. And for the record? The way you gave yourself to me? That was so unbelievably beautiful and strong."
He wanted to be convinced, tried so hard to believe, but he couldn't. So he couldn't stand to meet Blair's eye.
"God, Jim, can't you see? When I was inside you just now, you owned me. Do you understand that? I have never belonged to anyone more than I belonged to you. Because I have never loved anyone the way I love you."
That helped him work up the courage to look into Blair's shining, impassioned face. Immediately, he thought two things. First, that he was, in fact, a bitch. But he was love's bitch, and no way did that diminish him or make him less of a man. In fact, it made him damned lucky. And then, he also realized that he wasn't the only one down on his knees. Blair was right there with him. Because, apparently, that's just how love worked. It had its way with whoever was fortunate enough to find it.
And then he opened up his love-whipped arms to his love-whipped partner and said, "I'm sorry. Please come back to bed."
He'd never seen Blair more relieved. He scrambled onto the bed and threw his arms around his waist.
"You scared the shit out of me," he chided.
Jim held him and stroked his hair. "I'm sorry, Chief. It wasn't you. I just-- I couldn't picture how it would be if one of us wasn't at the mercy of the other. And I didn't want you to be under my thumb. So that had to leave me the one down on my knees."
"Ah, Jim. Man. What's happened to make you think shit like that?"
"That's just always the way it's been."
"Jim, there is such a thing as a loving, mutual relationship. You know?"
"It just never seemed to work out that way for me."
"Before now, you mean."
He smiled. "Yeah. Before now."
Blair took his hand. "I don't ever want you down on your knees for me. And you know it's not my style, either. So how about we promise each other just to stay off the damned floor all together?" And then Blair had second thoughts and added, "Well, you know, metaphorically speaking. Because there may be times when the bed or even the couch seems way too far away and the floor might just be the best solution."
He smiled again, squeezed Blair's hand and nodded. "You got it, Chief. No floor. For either of us. Unless we just can't wait. And then it's the floor for both of us."
"Exactly." Blair settled his head onto his chest, but Jim could feel him smiling.
Jim kissed his forehead. "I love you," he whispered.
"Mmm. Me too," Blair murmured, his eyes closed, already drifting off.
Jim closed his eyes, too, now that he was home and felt secure
enough to rest. He fell asleep, warm and loved, contemplating
his new life, which was civilized in a whole new way, with a safety
that didn't have to come at the expense of being known, with the
right both to have and to surrender, in a way that made him more,