Rite of Passage
(Part Two)

Note: See part one for warnings.

I shook my head. "It's a natural reaction. Don't worry about it."

He began to sway on his feet. "I'm not feeling too good, man."

I held onto his arm to steady him. "I've got you, Chief."

"I'm so hot."

"That's normal. You're gonna be okay."

He clutched at me. "What's wrong with me? Why do I feel so weird?"

"It's all part of the ritual."

"My head's spinning. I'm way too hot here. God, man, what's going on?" he asked, starting to sound genuinely terrified.

"Just hold on."

I could feel his body temperature skyrocketing, the heat practically pouring off him. Sweat began to run down his back and belly. It dripped off his arms and legs.

"I can see them. Oh, my God. Jim. They're here. They're talking to me. But I don't understand what they're saying."

He looked around wildly, at whatever, whoever, he was seeing.

"They want me to touch them," he said.

He extended his hand, reaching, straining. His eyes were unfocused, his pupils dilated.

"Ahhhh!" he screamed and jerked his hand back. His body bucked, as if a jolt of electricity had gone through him. "Oh, God. It's too much. Too much. Jim!"

"Breathe, Chief. Try to take it easy."

"It hurts!"

"I know. I know it does."

"Oh, God." He started to sob. "Make it stop."

"I wish I could, Chief. Just try to hang in there, buddy."

"They want to touch me again. Don't let them, Jim. Please don't let them." He grabbed my shirt and held on. "No! Don't touch me! Don't you touch me! Ahhhh!"

His body arced and shook. His cock leaped, getting impossibly hard. I put my arm around his waist, to help support his weight, to keep him from falling.

"It's too much," he whispered, shaking his head, out of his mind. "I can't do it. It hurts so much. It's too large. I can't hold it all. Can't. Just can't."

I brushed the hair back from his face. "Yes, you can. You're doing fine. Just hang on, Chief."

"It hurts." He stared down at his hugely engorged penis like he had no idea what it was or what to do about it. He whimpered in pain, and then he turned to look at me, his eyes huge and pleading.

"Let me help you," I told him.

He nodded, still whimpering. I licked my hand and gently began to pump him.

"Mmm," he murmured.

He let his head fall onto my shoulder and began to push forward with his hips.

"Is that better, buddy?" I asked.


He began to thrust wildly, desperately. I could feel the torsion of his body, the pain gripping him, in every muscle and tendon. I could feel the pulsing of his blood beneath my fingers. I knew when he was about to come. I could feel the rush of his semen through his penis before it erupted onto my hand. After the last spasm, he let out his breath and sagged back against me. I tightened my hold on his waist.

But the relief didn't last long. His cock only softened a little before another wave of energy hit him and his entire body went rigid again. He got even harder this time.

"They keep telling me things," he said. Tears streamed down his face. "And showing me things. I can't take it all. Jim. Please."

"It's all right," I soothed him. "You're going to be all right," I promised, as I began to stroke him again.

It went on like that for some time. I would jerk him off until he came. Then he would get hard again, and we'd start all over. Eventually, just my hand wasn't enough. He was unbearably hard, and I couldn't help him come anymore just by touching him.

So I eased him down onto the blanket, onto his back, and began to take care of him with my mouth, something I hadn't done for a man since I'd left Incacha. Blair ranted and raved, trying to tell me what he was seeing, what was happening to him, but it all came out in broken, indecipherable fragments. He clawed at the ground with his fingers, thrashed his head and kicked his legs. I held his hips down and sucked him, taking him deep into my throat, cradling his balls in my hand.

I'd never tasted my Guide before, not his lips or his skin or any part of him. Until that moment, when I had his intimate taste on my tongue, I'd never realized how much I had been missing this information, how sad it had been not to know him in this way. I only wished that we could have discovered this together, in bed, in love, in shared pleasure.

After a while, my mouth wasn't enough, either.

"Jim!" he begged, his voice the very definition of agony.

I stroked his hip as I undid my pants and pulled them off, along with my shirt and boxers.

"Shh," I tried to comfort him. "I'm going to take care of you."

I grabbed the lube out of the backpack, popped the cap and squirted the gel onto my fingers. My hand shook as I reached behind me. It had been such a long time, and it felt foreign, unnatural, to open myself up like that. I hadn't touched myself there since those long, sweltering nights with Incacha in the days after my own initiation.

I'd never been with another man before him, and I could never have imagined wanting it, liking it. But I had. As I got myself ready for Blair, I could remember so clearly how I would lie down for Incacha, my legs spread wantonly, the need uncontainable. I remembered exactly how it felt to have Incacha's cock deep inside me, stretching me to the limit, his hand on my dick, hot and urgent, playing me masterfully. I could still hear my own voice, wailing Incacha's name, begging him, sounding like a wild thing in heat.

That's why it had been easier never to share too much about my time in Peru with anyone, even after I'd begun to regain the memories when my senses kicked back in. I had no idea how to explain it.

"J-iiii-m!" Blair howled in pain.

"I'm coming, buddy."

I lubed Blair's cock and wished we could use a condom. I'm clean, but there's no point in taking chances. Still, there couldn't be any barriers between us. That's just the way this thing works.

I straddled Blair's body and slowly lowered myself. God, it hurt. I'd forgotten how much. Blair was big under normal circumstances, and this was far from normal. It felt like I was being ripped apart, but I couldn't stop because Blair couldn't. So I eased myself down little by little, breathing hard, trying to relax, working to get him all the way inside me.

And then I felt it. The spark. The connection. Whatever was flowing through Blair began to flow through me. He looked up at me, his eyes wide and wild, passionate, if disoriented. I took his hands and kissed them and held onto him as I began to ride, now feeling the most intense pleasure along with the pain.

I don't know how Incacha did it. I have to say that. If I had even half the stamina Blair did, he must have been sore for weeks and weeks afterwards. Every time Blair came inside me, he would immediately get hard again. My legs got weak and shaky from moving myself up and down on his cock. I ached all over, inside and out.

Then finally, being inside me wasn't enough, either. That left only one last thing to do, the thing I'd been hoping we could avoid. Even though I knew it wasn't possible. The connection always goes both ways. It has to.

I eased myself off him and grabbed a towel to clean up. I tried to wash Blair's genitals with the wet cloth, but he moaned and kept pushing my hands away. His cock was red and painfully swollen, too raw to be touched.

"I just want it over," he moaned.

I nodded. "I know, Chief. It almost is. I promise."

"I never knew there was so much," he said.

"I know. I didn't either."

"It's so much, and I'm so little."

"That's not true."

"I feel so empty," he said, tears trembling in his eyes.

"You're going to be okay. I swear."

"Help me, Jim. Fill me up. I know you can. They say so. Please. You have to."

"Okay, Chief. I'm going to take care of you."


"I've got you."

I squirted more gel onto my fingers and began to stretch him. When he felt my fingers slide inside him, he relaxed, which was good. I didn't want to hurt him.

"Mmm," he said, rocking his hips, taking my fingers deeper into his body. "More. Please."

But I wasn't going to rush. He was so tight. I knew he'd never done this before. Hell, I'd never seen him so much as check out another guy.

"Jim!" he began to beg, frantically trying to fuck himself on my hand.

I held his hips still. "I'm coming, Chief. Just hold on."

I lubed my dick and pulled his legs up over my shoulders.

I pressed a kiss to the inside of his thigh. "I love you, Blair."

And then I began to push into him. It was amazing, really, how his body yielded to me, took me in, embraced me. He was hot and moist inside. So, so alive. I could feel the pulsing of his blood through his veins, the hum of the energy moving through him. It was as if his very essence was passing from him to me, through my dick, into my body, into my soul. I wasn't just possessing him. He was possessing me, too, in a consummate way, far beyond the simple connection of sex.

I moved inside him, slowly, needing to make it last, so it would be enough for him, so this ordeal would finally be over. I caressed his chest and belly and hips and whatever other parts of him I could reach, trying to show him some little part of the overwhelming thing I felt for him. So maybe his body would carry the impression somehow—his bones and skin would hold the memory of how I had touched him with love.

"S'good," he said, moving his hips in time to my thrusts. "I can see so much. I can feel. So, so much." His voice was passionate and awestruck, his eyes filled with wonder and tears. "It's beautiful," he said, and the tears started to trickle down his cheeks.

"I'm glad, Chief." I stroked his leg tenderly.

"I feel so complete," he said. "I'm a part of everything, and it's—God, it's all in me. I never knew it could be. I just never knew."

"You're so beautiful, Blair. You feel so good."

"I'm going to come," he said, his voice rising, his face screwed up in concentration, his hips thrashing urgently.

"Yeah, baby. Come for me. Just this one last time."

I began to move faster, stroking my cock over the electric place deep inside him.

"Ah! Yes! I understand. God. I can see it. Touch it. I am it. Oh, God. God. Yeah! Yeah! Ahhhhh!"

He screamed his head off for God knows how long. He didn't come so much as he exploded, so hard it pulled the orgasm right out of me. His semen sprayed his belly, his chest, his arms and even his face. It would have been astonishing in and of itself, but it was downright miraculous after all the orgasms he'd already had. This time, though, he stayed soft after he'd finished coming. It was finally over.

I pulled out of him as carefully as possible, tried to wipe us both off. I'd never been so exhausted in my whole life. I just wanted to gather him into my arms and sleep. But I did force myself to pull on a pair of pants first, just in case there was an emergency. So I wouldn't be totally unprepared. The protector in me never takes a rest.

Blair's eyes were open, but not really focused on anything. He lay sprawled in the same spot, too tired to move.

"Come on, baby. Let's get you into the tent, so you can rest."

I pulled him into a sitting position, into my arms. I could tell that he was trying to push himself up, but his muscles just wouldn't cooperate with him.

"Don't worry about it, Chief. I've got you."

I didn't trust myself to pick him up. My muscles weren't too steady, either. So I had to half drag him into the tent. I settled him onto the sleeping bag, lay down beside him, and pulled him into my arms.

"Is it over?" he asked, groggily.

"Yeah, buddy. It's over."

I felt him relax into my embrace. "Thank God," he murmured.

I tightened my arms around him and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. "You said it, Chief."

But he was already fast asleep. It wasn't long before the world started to go gray on me, too, and I let myself go.

I woke up the next morning when I felt Blair stirring. I turned over. His eyes were open, and he looked terribly confused.

"What happened?" he asked. "Did it work?"

"Yeah, Chief. It did."

"I don't remember."

"That happens."

The herbal concoction used during the ritual had a tendency to induce temporary amnesia that lasted for several days or even weeks after it had been taken.

"So I'm a Shaman?" His eyes were still a little fuzzy and his voice was hoarse from screaming.

"Yeah. You are."

"I don't feel any different."

"You will."

"I just feel—"

He trailed off and looked down at himself. He was still naked, still covered in paint, now smeared and caked on. There was dried come on his belly and thighs, his own—and mine was, well, it was there, too. He must have smelled it. I mean, I know I'm a Sentinel, but he was ripe with sex scent. His eyes flickered over to me. I was shirtless, and the fly was still open on the pants I'd managed to throw back on before we both fell asleep.

I felt his heart start to race. He was naked and lying pressed against my body and stinking of come. I could see all the questions and the possibilities flashing in his eyes. I felt his shoulders go stiff, and then he pulled away from me and sat up.

"What happened here, Jim?" he asked, his voice turning sharp.

The mounting panic must have burned away whatever residual drug was still left in his system, because he was suddenly completely lucid.

"Try to take it easy, Chief. I know it's confusing, and you don't remember much right now. That's a normal part of the experience. But it will start to come back to you."

"No, you tell me. You tell me what—" He gestured to his body. "What the hell is this?"

"I'm not supposed to tell you. When you're ready, you'll remember."

He shook his head. "That's not good enough."

He scrabbled to his feet, but standing there in front of me made him self-conscious of his nakedness. He turned red and quickly grabbed his clothes and held them up in front of his body to shield himself.

"Tell me we didn't. Tell we didn't do what I think we did."

I hesitated. "I can't, Chief. I'm sorry."

He started shaking his head and wouldn't stop. "No. Oh, God."

He backed out of the tent, and I followed him.

"It's going to be okay. I promise," I said.

His eyes flashed with anger. "No, it's not going to be okay. You had sex with me. Shit! What was that crap you gave me to drink? Huh?"

I told him the name. "It's a plant the Chopec Shamans use to bring on visions."

His expression twisted into disbelief. "A hallucinogen? You gave me a fucking hallucinogen without telling me? Without asking me?"

"I told you I couldn't warn you about any of this."

"Fuck you and your excuses! You drugged me, you bastard. You drugged me and then you... You..."

He stopped short, the full import of what had happened only just hitting him. Then the panic truly sparked in his eyes. He whipped his head around and reached behind himself to test with his fingers, to get confirmation of what the ache he must have felt there was telling him. When he turned back to face me, his eyes were shimmering like blue beacons, filled with tears, outrage and, worst of all, betrayal.

"You wouldn't do that. You couldn't." He shook his head, desperately. "Oh, God."

"Blair, I know you're upset, but—"

"How could you? You. You're my... At least I thought. Oh, God."

He clutched his belly, bent over and threw up. There was nothing in his stomach, but his body just kept heaving and shuddering anyway, pitifully trying to retch what wasn't there. The stench of bile bloomed in the air.

"Have some water," I said and tried to hand him the canteen.

He ignored me, his shoulders still heaving, out of control.

I took a step toward him. "Chief, please let me—"

"No!" he managed to shout, between waves of sickness.

I wanted to do something, anything to make it better. But what can you possibly say when you've destroyed every ounce of faith the person you love has ever had in you? Look, I know I've completely betrayed you and ruined our friendship, but as hard as it is to believe, that's all part of your becoming a Shaman.

I hated it all, every last detail. I can't even tell you how much. I hated Sentinels and Shamans. I hated the secrecy and the brutality. I hated Incacha for pushing this on us. I hated myself for giving in. I hated the very notion of tribal custom. I hated everything that had brought us to this nightmare moment.

"Blair, I am so sorry," I tried to tell him.

He straightened up. His face was so pale he looked gray. There was a little trickle of vomit at the corner of his mouth.

"Sorry? You're sorry!? You fucked me!" he screamed. "You bastard! I was out of my mind. I had no idea what I was doing. But you! You—"

"I'm sorry, Blair. God. But I had no choice. You—"

"You had no choice? You?" His face turned red, and his voice shook. "That's fucking bullshit, and you know it. I was the one who didn't have a choice. I was the one who was too stoned to realize what was going on. I was the one who didn't have the chance to say yes or no. I was the one who couldn't defend himself while you took what you had no, fucking right to take. You had all the choices in the world here, Jim, and that's what you picked. That."

"You think I wanted it this way? You think I wanted to make you feel like you'd been... I tried everything else. I swear to God. Everything. But you needed it. You were in bad shape, and you begged me to do it. I didn't want to, but I had to."

He went completely still, all over, and I thought he might be remembering. So I never suspected, never even saw it coming. Just one moment, I was standing there trying to explain, trying to calm him down, and the next thing, I was sprawled on the ground, my jaw on fire. It was one hell of a punch, too. Blair might think like a pacifist, but he hits like a welter-weight.

"Fuck." I rubbed my jaw.

"Get up."

He circled around me, his fists up, his knuckles white with rage.

"Chief, don't."

"Get the fuck up!" he screamed.

I pulled myself into a sitting position, but I didn't stand. "I don't want to fight you," I told him.

"You should have thought about that before you raped me."

I flinched. It was worse than being hit. "Chief— God."

"You don't think that's what it was? Huh, Detective Ellison? I didn't say yes. I didn't." He shook his head. "I never said you could." His mouth trembled, like he needed to cry but couldn't let himself.

I climbed to my feet, warily. I wanted more than anything to go to him, to comfort him. But I knew that wasn't possible, and I wasn't eager to take another right hook to the chin.

But he didn't make another move at me. The shock seemed to have caught up with him. "Why?" he asked, his voice shattered. "Was it because I pushed you on this whole Shaman thing? I got on your nerves, so you decided to bring me out here and teach me a lesson. Is that it?"

"You know it's not," I said, my voice pleading, feeling pretty close to tears myself.

"Did you think it was funny? Did you like the power? Did you get off on it?" He waved his hand and laughed, an ugly sound. "What am I saying? I've got your come inside me. Of course, you enjoyed it."

"It wasn't like that. I swear."

"What was it like then? Romantic? Huh? Me half unconscious. Hell, drooling probably. Is that your idea of a good time?"

My jaw clenched. "You know it's not. You know I would never intentionally hurt you."

"You took my manhood," he screamed, his face so red I was afraid for him. "You made me into something I never wanted to be. You don't think that hurt me?"

"Blair— Shit! That's not what I... You're not... This is not how I ever wanted it to be," I said, my voice trembling.

"At least we agree on one thing," he said and laughed again, on the verge of hysteria.

I felt so cold and sick inside.

"I know this... I know it seems... Why don't we just go home? We can talk about it some more later. Huh, Chief?"

"Does it really matter what I want? It didn't seem to last night."

"Please, Blair."

"Sure. What the fuck?" he said, his voice brittle. "Let's get packed up and head back to the loft like nothing ever happened. I know that's the way you like to do things. Hey, no problem. I should stop being such a big baby. I should just get over it. Right?"

"That's not what I meant."

"I don't care what you meant!" he yelled, his eyes bright and dangerous. "All that matters is what you did."

"I know. I'm sorry. God, am I sorry."

He shook his head with disgust. "If we're going to get out of here, let's just go. Okay?"

"Okay. Whenever you're ready."

He suddenly looked down at himself, surprised, as if in his shock and anger he hadn't quite realized he was still standing there mostly naked. He clutched his clothes even more tightly to his body. "Go stand over there and keep your back turned." His hand shook as he pointed.

"Sure, sure. Anything you say." I held up my hands and backed away. When I got to the spot where he'd directed, I turned around.

I listened to the sound of straining fabric as he frantically scrambled into his clothes, his heart pounding like crazy. I could have heard the rasp of his breathing even without Sentinel senses, that's how labored and panicky it was. He sounded like somebody about to go into convulsions.

"Chief? Are you okay?"

"Don't look at me! Don't you fucking look at me!"

His scent spiked. Pure animal fear. Because of me.

"Okay, okay," I assured him, in my softest, gentlest voice, the one I use on frightened children and defenseless animals. "Not until you say. No problem."

He struggled with buttons and zippers for several long seconds. "All right. You can turn around now."

He'd buttoned his shirt up as far as it would go, and he'd put his jacket on over that, zipped up all the way, despite the July weather. It was if he was trying to put as much of a barrier between us as he could.

"I'll tear down the tent," I told him. "If you want to gather the rest of the stuff."

He didn't say anything or even nod. He just started shoving stuff into the pack, in a frenzy, like he couldn't stand to be stranded with me even one second longer than he had to be. I tried not to pay attention to the tight thing in my chest that felt like life as I had known it was over forever.

It didn't take very long to get everything ready. We strapped on our packs and walked back down the trail to the truck. I tried to let him go first, thinking that would make him feel more in charge. But he balked, and his vitals surged into panic mode again. So I went on ahead. I guess he felt safer being able to keep an eye on me. He probably figured that if I tried to attacked him again at least he'd see me coming.

It took everything I had not to puke my guts out.

We made it to the truck, stowed the gear and got in. Blair huddled against the passenger side door, as far away from me as he could possibly get. I drove and tried not to keep staring at my watch. It really wasn't that far back to Cascade, but every minute felt like an eternity.

We rode in silence. Blair stared out the side window, his shoulders squared against me. I tried to keep my mind on the driving, but my eyes kept drifting over to him. At one point, his shoulders were shaking, and I knew he was crying, even if he wasn't making any noise. But there was nothing I could do to make it better. I was the cause of his suffering. Saying something about it would only further humiliate him. All I could do was wait for him to remember and hope that it made a difference.

We were already inside the Cascade city limits when he finally gave up the window and turned around in his seat. He shifted his body and suddenly froze.

"Shit!" he said softly as he let out his breath.

Fear clutched me. I had tried to be careful, to be gentle with him. But first times are unpredictable. There's always risk.

"Are you hurt?" I asked him.

He settled back against the seat, more gingerly this time, still ignoring me.

"Chief, please."


"But if it's bad, we should go to the hospital. Make sure it isn't—"

"I said don't!"

He sounded like he was about fly to pieces, so I stopped pushing. But I was sick with worry. If he was really hurt, if anything happened to him...

I think I would kill myself. It was scary and freakish to come to that conclusion. There's nothing melodramatic about me. I've never felt like that about anyone else, no matter how much I loved them. I've never felt there was someone I couldn't go on without. Not even in Peru, when it was everyone who left me. But if something happened to Blair, especially if it was my fault, I really don't know how I would live. I can't see wanting to.

And even though I understood why he wouldn't want me to help him, not after I was the one who had done that to him, I just hoped to God that he would let someone help him if he was really hurt. I spent the rest of the drive worrying whether he would, terrified of what would happen if he didn't.

When we got back to the loft, he got out of the truck without a word and slammed the door. I brought in the gear. By the time, I made it inside, he had already gone up in the elevator. When I got upstairs, the door to the loft was standing open. I went inside and dumped the stuff on the floor. Blair was in his room. I could hear him shoving stuff into his duffel bag.

I didn't go to him. I'd lost that right. So I just hovered there outside his door and listened as he packed up nearly three years of friendship.

When he came out of his room, he didn't look at me. He just sat down his stuff long enough to take his loft key off the ring and lay it on the table.

"Chief, I—"

He turned abruptly, his eyes on fire. "Don't ever call me that again."

And then he was gone. When the door slammed shut behind him, I actually jumped, as if I was startled by the noise, as if I hadn't been expecting it.

I sat down on the sofa and held my head in my hands. My temples throbbed. My senses hurt. My heart...well, I can't even put into words how I felt about what I'd done to Blair. It was the worst day of my entire, fucked up life. It was no consolation, either, knowing that he would have to come back, whether he wanted to or not. In fact, it made me sick to think that Blair wouldn't have a choice, yet again.

He definitely won the endurance race. I don't know how he lasted so long. A whole week went by, and I didn't hear from him. And then the days of the following week began to tick by. Still no contact. I'd only managed to stay away from Incacha four days before I couldn't take it anymore.

I'd actually begun to worry that maybe the connection hadn't really taken. Maybe I'd misunderstood something or got it wrong somehow. Maybe he wasn't really my Shaman. Maybe he would never come back to me.

But then he finally showed up at my door, wild-eyed and disheveled, and so furious he was nearly spitting.

I opened the door to let him in. He pushed by me angrily. I followed him into the living room. When he spun around to face me, his eyes were glittering, desperate and enraged.

"What the fuck have you done to me?" he demanded.

"What's wrong?"

"You know what's wrong!" he yelled. "Don't fucking toy with me, man."

"Try to calm down."

"Don't you dare tell me what to do or how to feel!" His whole body shook.

"I'm sorry."

"And quit fucking apologizing. You did enough of that up in the mountains. This time, try telling me something useful."

I sighed. "Okay, Chie— Blair. What you're going through is a perfectly normal part of the Shamanic experience. I know it's really intense right now, but it will level off as time goes on. I swear."

He stared at me in disbelief. "Do you know the kinds of dreams I've been having? What I've been thinking about? Hell, obsessing over. Do you know the things I've been doing? Do you?"

I nodded. "Yeah, I do."

"How? How can you possibly know?" he asked, both distraught and outraged.

"I went through all the same shit after Incacha initiated me."

"You saw— You had the—"

"Visions. Yeah."

"And was it all tied up with—"

"Sex. Incacha once tried to explain to me why the mystical connection gets expressed as sexual energy, but I didn't really understand what he was talking about. I guess the bottom line is that it just does."

He looked down at the floor. "I've been thinking about— I've been having fantasies—"

"About me."

His head snapped up. "How did you know?"

"I couldn't stop thinking about Incacha when it happened to me."

"I don't just think about it. I—"

"You touch yourself."

He turned red. "I've never done that before. Not like that, I mean. Ever," he said, softly.

I nodded. "But even that wasn't enough, was it?"

He shook his head.

"That's why you came here today. You couldn't help yourself."

There were tears in his eyes. "I didn't like what you did to me. I never wanted it."

"But you can't stop thinking about it."

"What's wrong with me? Is that drug still doing shit to me? Because this is not who I am. It's not. I've never even thought about— Never wanted— I'm not—"

"I know."

"Then why?"

"Why'd you come back, you mean?"

He nodded.

"Because you're a Shaman. My Shaman."

He blushed hard, finally beginning to understand what I meant by that. "That's what Sentinels and Shamans— They—" he stuttered.

"They fuck each other."

He shook his head. "No. God. That can't be it."

"You know it is.

He shook his head even harder, with real determination. "You're trying to tell me that a Shaman is just some out-of-control bottom boy with a compulsion to take it up the ass? The Sentinel's plaything whenever he gets horny? No way. No fucking way, man."

"God, Blair. You make it sound so— Look, it's a two-way street, okay? Nobody uses anybody."

"Well, that's not the way it looks from where I'm standing. I seem to be the only one who's gotten fucked around here. And I mean that literally and figuratively."

I sighed. He obviously hadn't regained his memory yet.

"Is that the problem? You're afraid there's some kind of power imbalance going on?"

He wouldn't look at me.

"Fine," I told him, beginning to unbutton my shirt. "Let's go upstairs, and we'll fix that."

That got his attention. He stared at me, mouth hanging open, eyes wide, as I stripped for him. He'd been naked and vulnerable with me. I figured it was only right to do the same for him, to make it somehow more even between us.


He sounded like he wanted to protest, to say no, but the arousal fairly streamed off him.

"Come on, Chie— Blair. Even if you don't want to, you need it."

I turned and headed upstairs. He lagged behind. I could hear him down there, pacing, running his hands through his hair. I went ahead and turned down the bed, arranged the pillows the way I liked them, pulled out the lube from my night stand drawer. I was just settling onto my belly, finding a comfortable position, when I heard him jerk to a stop at the top of the steps.

"Shit!" he gasped.

I looked over at him. "You wanted quid pro quo, didn't you?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Not like this."

I softened my voice. "It's okay, Blair. This is the way it's supposed to be. I promise."

"But you don't want it. You couldn't."

"Yes, I do. I want it as much as you do. God. Probably more."

"Really?" he asked, astonished.

"Yeah. So come here. Please."

He approached the bed like it might bite him.

I patted the mattress. "It's okay. Come sit down."

He hesitated, but finally did settle on the bed beside me. I could feel both want and fear coming off him, hot and cold.

"I've never done this before," he said, nervously.

I pressed the tube of lube into his hand. "Use your fingers first. Use lots of this on both of us. You just have to open me up first, then take it slow. I'll tell you when I'm ready for more."

He looked worried. "I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't."

I'm not sure I completely convinced him, but he did shift onto the bed to kneel beside my hip. I was naked, and I wanted him. The pull was too strong for him to resist.

"Are you sure?" he asked, shakily.

I looked over my shoulder at him. "I want you." I spread my legs to show him how much.

"God, Jim." A shy hand ghosted over the small of my back and my hip.

"Mmm. That's nice."

"I don't know if I can do this."

"I can feel you. I know you want it."

He blushed fiercely. "I can't help that."

"I know."

"I don't understand any of this. But I do know that I'm still pissed at you. Even if my dick doesn't get it. I still hate you for what you did to me," he said.

I nodded. "I can see why you'd feel that way. It's okay."

"No, it's not! I need to fuck you, but I can't even stand the sight of you."

"So make it even between us. Here's your chance."

He shook his head. "God, do you know me at all? I don't want a revenge fuck. I don't want to do it just 'cause there's a part of me that wants to hurt you like you hurt me. That's not who I am. It's not what I do. It's not going to make me feel better."

"Blair, I know this isn't what you want to hear. But you're not going to be able to resist this. You can do it now. Or can do it later. But you're going to have to do it eventually."

"Fuck you!"

"Exactly," I said and smiled, intentionally goading him.

When I'd gone back to Incacha, he had done the same thing, pushed me to take him, and then the memories had started rushing back to me. I desperately needed Blair to remember. I couldn't take being separated from him any longer.

"You bastard!" he hissed at me, his eyes flashing. "Okay. You want me to fuck your ass? Fine. You got it. But be careful what you ask for, man. I like it hard."

I could smell his smoldering rage. I could feel the heat of his want as he moved between my legs and pushed my thighs further apart. I heard him pop the cap on the lube. His hand shook angrily as he touched me. It was just one finger, but I flinched. I was still tender from the last time he'd been inside me.

He jerked back. "Shit! What'd I do?"

His hand moved unconsciously over my back and along my side, tenderly, stroking me. He might hate my guts. He might talk be capable of talking shit. But Blair Sandburg didn't have it in him to actually enjoy causing me pain.

"It's okay," I told him. "I'm just a little—"

"Oh, my God."


"Oh, shit."

I could feel him shaking.

"You're sore," he said, like it was accusation.

"Look, it's okay. I'm just a little—"

"You let me do it to you, too. When we were in the mountains."


"Did you suck my dick, too? 'Cause suddenly I have this picture in my head. Oh, God. Jim. Shit."

I reached back for him. "It's okay. You're starting to remember. That's good."

He shook his head, and there were tears in his eyes. "I didn't know. I guess I should have. But I didn't."

"There was no way you could have. You didn't do anything wrong."

He started to pull back from me. "I can't do this to you. None of this is what I thought. I can't handle this."

I turned over and grabbed his arm. "Please. Blair. Don't go."

"I don't understand what's happening to me," he said, desperately.

"Come here. Let me show you. Let me give myself to you. It will help make things clearer. I promise."

He shook his head wildly. "I don't understand how."

"I know. And I know I don't have any right to ask you to trust me. But we need this. I swear that's the truth. Come lie down beside me. Please?"

I could see in his eyes just how torn he was, but he did finally, hesitantly, stretch out alongside me. I crooked my arm around his shoulders and tried not to hurt inside when he cringed at my touch. He was still hard, though, and I could tell that the incongruity of how he felt and how his body was responding confused the hell out of him.

"I'm not going to hurt you. Ever again. I swear. I'm not going to do the touching this time, okay? This is just for you. You can do anything you want to me."

He blinked at me, like he didn't quite understand what he was supposed to do or why or how come he wanted it so much. I took his hand and placed it on my chest.

"Anything you want, Blair."

And then the instincts, the pull, the need, whatever the hell it is, took over. He sat up on his knees and began to explore me. His hands shook, and his breathing came in ragged little hitches. But he touched me everywhere. He gasped and told me how hot my skin felt, like it was burning his fingers. And it seemed so funny to hear him say that because he felt like a damned cauldron moving over me. I had never wanted anyone like that in my whole, long history of desire.

He balked a little when it came time to get me ready for his dick, but he did it, anyway. And in the end, he liked it. He liked that it was so intimate, that he was the only one who could touch me there, the only one who could have that, ever. He liked that when he reached for just the right place inside me he could drive me out of my mind and make me howl his name like I'd never even heard the word "self-control."

By the time he turned me over, took off his clothes and moved into position, I could feel the energy radiating off him. I could feel the answering pulse inside me. He stroked my hips and then parted my cheeks and started to make his way inside.


"That's it. Put it in me. Give it to me."

I ignored the pain and concentrated on the connection. It was worth it, whatever it might cost me, to be that close to him, to really know him.

"Oh, my God," he said, his voice trembling, his body shuddering. He jerked to a stop. "You said you love me. Before you took me. I remember. You told me—"

"I do. I love you. Please don't stop."

He started to thrust again, but he couldn't stop apologizing. "I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't know. I didn't."

"I know. It's all right," I told him.

The pressure was building up inside me, liquefying my bones, fraying my reason, deconstructing my sense of self. I just wanted him to fuck me. That's all I was. Not Detective Ellison or the Sentinel of the Great City or even Jim. I was simply the man who had to have Blair Sandburg's dick inside him, who couldn't survive without it.

I could feel him getting close, and then his hand reached for me, a little awkwardly, even shyly. Still, it was his hand on my cock. I couldn't hold on. I came so hard I saw flashes of light, odd pictures, fragments of visions, of God knows what.

Blair came, too. He screamed like something was trying to kill him and then passed out cold. As powerful as it was for me, the connection was new to him, and until he got used to it, it would knock him on his ass every time we made love.

Every time. It sounded so good. I just hoped to God he would think so, too.

When he softened and slipped from my body, I pulled him into my arms. I wanted that to be how he woke up, with me holding him. It took a while, but he did finally open his eyes. He blinked at me, not comprehending where he was or why or maybe even who he was. This mystical connection thing is powerful shit. But then it hit him, and his whole body tensed.

"Oh, God. Oh God. Oh God."

"Take it easy. It's going to be all right."

"Oh, shit!"

"Don't panic."

"I'm sorry!"


"I'm sorry I hit you. I'm sorry I got us into this. I'm sorry I couldn't just take no for an answer. I'm sorry I didn't trust you when you told me I really didn't want to do this. God, I'm so sorry for all of it."

I stroked his hair, trying to comfort him. "Don't, Chie— Blair."

He shook his head. "It's okay. I take it back."

"Chief." It was a such a profound, strange relief to be able to say it again. "It's not your fault. None of it. You have nothing to be sorry for."

"But I hit you."

"You don't know how many punches I threw at Incacha. He was just smart enough to know when to duck."

"That's why you didn't want to do this. Because it happened to you."

I nodded. "When I woke up the day after my initiation and realized— when I felt his come and knew— that he'd been inside me— That was the worst moment of my life."

Until I did that same thing to you, I thought.

"I'm not gay," he said, trying not to cry.

"I know."

"You're not either, are you?" he asked.

"Not really. I mean, it's kind of confusing what that means exactly in a situation like ours. But I've only ever been with you and Incacha. I've never looked at another man, never thought about it otherwise."

"This isn't what I ever wanted to be." He shook his head and couldn't hold it in any longer. His shoulders shook, and he started to cry, hard.

I wrapped my arms around him, and he held onto me, his whole body shaking. "I'm so sorry, Chief."

"You tried to warn me," he said, through great, wracking sobs. "I just didn't know it would be like this. I don't know if I can handle it."

"It will get better. I promise."

"You were right when you said I'll never be the same again. I don't have any idea who I am anymore. Or even what I am."

"Oh, Chief." I held him tighter and pressed a kiss to his head. "I know you feel like you've had something taken away from you. But you're still the same person you always were, in all the ways that count. You're still you."

"It doesn't feel that way." He cried harder.

"I know."

There was really nothing else to say. He felt like shit, and platitudes weren't going to fix it. I just held onto him and willed him to understand that I'd be with him every step of the way. I'd do anything I could to help him.

It was kind of scary, actually. To see him cry. For someone who's got such a good, open heart, Blair's weirdly stoic when it comes to his pain. He may not hide it exactly, but he doesn't particularly share it, either. In all the years I'd known him, I'd never seen him cry, not even once, not over death or heartbreak or anything. But now, he cried so hard he could barely breathe. He cried like his world was coming to an end.

And all I could do was listen and watch and feel my heart twisting in my chest. Until he finally cried himself out and his shoulders heaved with his final sobs.

"Can I ask you something?" he said, in a small voice.

"Sure, buddy."

"Did you love Incacha?"

"I grew to love him. We were very— intimate with one another. You develop an affection for someone when you share things like that."

"Is that what happened with me?" he asked, a little shyly. "I grew on you?"

I shook my head. "No. I loved you from the start."

His shoulders shook, and I thought he might start crying again.

"What's wrong, Chief?"

"I was jealous," he confessed, softly, into my chest.

"Of what?"

"Of Incacha. When I saw the two of you together, I could feel this thing between you. The thing that's between us now, I guess. And I didn't like it. Because I'm supposed to be the one. I supposed to be your— your person. And I could tell that Incacha was something to you, something crucial, like I'd never even imagined. And I hated it. I fucking hated it so much, Jim."

"Oh, Chief. You are my person. Always have been, since the first day I met you."

"I didn't know. I didn't understand. That's why I wanted to become a Shaman. So I could have the same thing with you that Incacha did. But now— Now—"

"It's not what you were expecting."

He shook his head. "And it's not that I don't love you. I do. You know that. Just not like this— I wanted to be important to you. I wanted you to need me. But I didn't want—"

"I know, Chief. I'm sorry it's like this."

"Now I can't stop wanting you, and it really fucks with my head."

I rubbed his back. "I know it doesn't really help for me to keep saying that it gets better, but it does. I promise. In time, it won't feel so unnatural, so forced. The love just needs time to catch up to the need."

"Maybe," he said. "But why does it have to be like this?"

"To keep Shaman and Sentinel together, I guess. Incacha also said something about it creating a complete circuit, so the energy can run through us. So we can know the things we need to know."

"I never understood how knowledge could be painful, how it could hurt you. But it can. I know more than I can stand, Jim. It's not just the sex. It's all of it "

"It's new now."

"Maybe. But it's always going to be a burden. I never did understand how you could feel that way about it. But it is. It really is."

"You're not alone. I know that's probably not much comfort. But it is the truth."

He tightened his arms around my waist. "It is a comfort. I'm glad it's you. If it had to be anyone. I do really love you."

He tilted his head so he could look at me. His eyes were so earnest, so sincere. He was my Blair, and I'd never even kissed him.

He half smiled. "No, you haven't," he said.

Really mine. I smiled at the thought. And I did kiss him, and he felt wonderful. Like no one else ever had or ever would again. And it still wasn't worth it, exactly. It was still too damned high a price to pay. But at least it was beautiful, too. Beautiful and brutal, the way things always are the closer you get to nature.

When we broke the kiss, he rested his forehead against mine.

"How could you leave Incacha?" he wondered out loud. "I don't know how I could stand being separated from you."

"He took my memories."

"Oh, God," he said, comprehension lighting his face. "That's why you could never remember too much about your time in Peru."

"He must have seen that my destiny lay elsewhere, not with the Chopec, not with him. So he found a way to let me go."

Blair was quiet for a moment.

Finally, he said, "I don't know this is what I would have chosen if I'd known what it was. And I think it's really going to take some getting used to. And I don't blame you for what happened during the ritual, not now that I remember most everything. But I still have all kinds of feelings about it. About being out of control of my body like that. About having had— you know, intercourse. About who I am as a result of it. I think it's going to take some work to deal with all this and not feel the mixed up things that I do right now."

He tightened his hold on me.

"But it did happen, and it's changed me. And I need you. And you're not ever going to forget me. I won't let you. I don't give a shit about destiny, and I'm not noble. I don't care what happens. I won't ever let you go."

I couldn't move for a minute. It wasn't anything I ever expected to hear from anyone. And then I kissed him, hard, with the most profound gratitude I'd ever felt.

"I'm not going to let you go, either, Chief," I promised him.

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