“Halt! Cascade Police!”
Of course the guy didn’t stop. They never did. Jim sighed as he pelted down the street after the fleeing man. He was starting to gain on his quarry when the man juked to his right and vaulted over a low stone wall into somebody’s yard. Jim followed suit, heading down a manicured stretch of grass, bordered on both sides by glossy rosebushes laden with dark red blooms.
An older man stood in the middle of the yard, wearing overalls and with a tank strapped to his back. He held a long copper rod in his hand which he was using to spray the contents of the tank over the rosebushes.
Without breaking stride, Jim’s fugitive grabbed the man and flung him into Jim’s path. Jim tried his best to put the brakes on, but he was going too fast. He collided with the gardener; getting a direct hit of whatever was in that tank.
The scent rolled over him in a wave, and he dropped to his hands and knees, gasping for breath. Pungent and cloying, it reminded him of overippe figs and sharp cheese. There was something musky-smelling about it, and it left a sour taste in his mouth. His eyes burned, and he fought the impulse to rub them.
“Jim!” He could hear the edge of panic in Blair’s voice as he ran up. “What happened?”
He was still coughing too hard to speak, but he sat back on his heels and tried to wave Blair off. If this shit was poisonous, he didn’t want Blair anywhere near it.
His efforts were useless, of course. Blair evaded his hand and sank down to the ground in front of him, gripping Jim’s shoulders. “Okay, look, just… just relax. Try to… try to take some deep breaths.”
No problem, Sandburg, I’ll get right on that. The glare he gave Blair would have been much more effective, he was sure, if his eyes hadn’t been watering so much. As it was, whatever expression he did manage to make must have looked pretty bad, because Blair turned his head to shout at someone.
“What the hell is in that shit?”
“It’s… nothing! It’s a fertilizer, an organic fertilizer….” Thanks to his streaming eyes, the gardener was just a denim-blue blob on the lawn in front of Jim. He was glad to hear the ma’s voice, though. At least he hadn’t been hurt in the collision.
“Organic doesn’t mean safe,” Blair snarled, and, despite the amount of discomfort he was in, Jim filed that phrase in the back of his brain to use the next time Blair wanted to spring for the double-the-price organic chicken at the grocery store. “Leastways, not for a sentinel,” Blair finished, under his breath.
He cupped Blair’s elbow, trying to be reassuring, although now that he was starting to catch his breath, all he could think about was some of the chemical agents he’d seen used in the Army, and their side effects. A shiver passed through him, and his heart thumped hard against his ribs.
“Get me some bottled water,” Blair snapped to the gardener. As the man clambered to his feet and moved off, he rubbed his hands up and down Jim’s upper arms. “It’s going to be okay, Jim,” he said. “You’re going to be okay. Just try to relax.”
He nodded. He could hear someone coming up the lawn, breathing heavily; a tall dark shape with distinctively-colored trim on her jacket. “Connor” he managed to force out through his raw throat, “did you get him?”
“Sorry, Jimbo.” Her voice vibrated with disappointment. “He went over the fence and got into the woods. We’ve got men in there looking, but….”
“You’re sure it was Hardison?” Blair asked.
“We’re sure,” Connor said.
Someone else hurried up; the gardener from the color. A moment later, Blair pressed a cold plastic bottle into his hand. He unscrewed the top and took a swig, swishing it around his mouth and then spitting it out on the lawn. He did that two more times and then took a drink. Better, although he could still detect a hint of sourness at the back of his throat. But the cool water felt soothing.
“Try to keep your eyes open as best you can,” Blair told him. “But don’t stop blinking.” He did as bid, and after a moment felt water flow from the top of his head over his face and down his neck. The burning in his eyes lessened slightly and despite his anxiety, he smiled. That was his partner, alway resourceful.
“What happened?” Connor asked.
“He got a face full of whatever that crap is that’s being sprayed on the roses,” Blair grumbled in response.
“I brought the contact information for the manufacturer,” the gardener said.
“Megan, can you hang onto that for me? Jim, this time, keep your eyes closed.” More water spilled down Jim’s face. It reminded him of standing under a tropical waterfall. Except for the chill of the water and the whole potentially-been-exposed-to-poison thing. “Three of these should do it, at least until you can get into the shower at the station,” Blair murmured. “Unless you think we need to go to the hospital?”
He shook his head. He could still smell the fertilizer, but he actually felt okay. Although he’d probably have to get rid of these clothes. No doubt that stuff had soaked in good; better than any laundry could remove, at least to his nose.
“Okay,” Blair said, “now try and open your eyes.”
His face was still wet, and without think started to lift his arm to wipe it off. Blair’s hand stopped him.
“Wait, wait,” Blair said. He could hear rustling, and then a soft cloth brushed over his face. He inhaled and caught the familiar smell of Blair’s herbal shampoo, along with the slightly sweet, slightly smoky odor that was his partner’s unique scent. “Okay, now try.”
He raised his eyelids slowly, blinking several times to clear his vision. His eyes felt sore and a little swollen, but he could see. Blair was shrugging his flannel shirt back on, and Connor was peering anxiously at him, the gardener looking nervous behind her. He grinned; lightheaded with relief. The memory of opening his eyes and seeing nothing after being exposed to Golden faded into the background.
Blair grinned back at him, but then quickly sobered. “We still need to get you back to the station ASAP,” he said. “There’s no telling what that stuff might do to your skin. You need to take a shower.” He stood up and offered Jim a hand. “I’ll drive.”
Back at the station, he spent a long time under the spray in the station locker room, set as hot as he could stand. The steam helped clear the residual scent of the stuff out of the back of his throat, too. Once he’d dried himself off and pulled on a sweatshirt and an old pair of running shorts that he’d had in his locker, he felt almost back to normal.
He ran into Connor as he was heading back to the bullpen. “Have you seen Sandy?” she asked him.
“Not since we got here.”
Connor sighed and looked at her watch. “I’ve got to go question a suspect in that electronics smuggling ring, I can’t wait around for him.” She handed him a piece of paper. “Here, give him that when you see him. I called the company and got the ingredient list for that fertilizer you got hit with. He seemed pretty interested in it.”
“Yeah, well, he probably wants to make sure there isn’t anything in it that’ll give me weird side effects or something.” He started to unfold the paper.
“You probably don’t want to take a look at that, mate.” Connor grinned at him, one eyebrow raised. “There’s some strange stuff in there.”
“Like what?” A knot of tension twisted in his belly.
“Like wolf urine. Female wolf urine.” The look on his face must have been priceless, because Connor guffawed. “Supposedly keeps deer away – they smell it and assume there are male wolves around.”
Great. He’d gotten a face full of wolf pee. Although he supposed it beat a face full of DDT.
Connor was still chuckling as she headed for the elevator. “Don’t feel too bad, Jimbo. Could have happened to any of us.”
“But it didn’t,” he muttered to himself as he stalked into the bullpen. It had to happen to the guy with the enhanced senses.
Oh, well, it was over now, and he was none the worse for wear, apparently. Whatever lingering traces of the scent remained would fade with time, and the whole episode could be forgotten.
The bullpen was quiet. He could see Simon talking on the phone in his office, the door closed. But otherwise he was the only one there. He glanced at the clock. It was after five already. Time to go home. And speaking of that, where the hell was Sandburg?
He exhaled in irritation and dropped the ingredient list in his inbox to give to Blair when he showed up. Sitting down at his desk, he started up his computer. As long as he was waiting for his partner, he might as well start writing up the incident while it was fresh in his mind.
Something slid, slowly and lightly, up the outside of his legs.
He lurched upwards, banging his thighs against the underside of his desk so hard it brought tears to his eyes.
A familiar giggle wafted out from underneath his desk.
“Sandburg?” he hissed. “What the hell—”
“Jim!” Simon had thrown open the door to his office and was marching towards him, coffee cup in hand. “Want to tell me how our well-planned stakeout failed to catch Hardison?”
“Uh, yes, sir.” Heart pounding, he moved his chair in closer, hoping that Blair would hear Simon’s voice and stay put. “We saw Hardison return to his apartment, as we’d planned, but…”
One of Blair’s hands stroked the back of his calf with a feathery touch, and teeth nipped playfully just inside his knee. A shiver of desire ran down Jim’s spine. He swallowed and tried to remember where he’d been in the story. “… but, uh, somehow he’d made us. By the time we got to the front door, he was heading out the back.”
With his other hand, Blair reached up and loosened the tie at Jim’s waist. The shorts were old and worn and the elastic was shot; Jim felt it give as Blair tugged on it.
He ground his teeth in frustration – both with the antics of his partner and because of them – and his hands balled into fists on top of his desk. He heard Blair giggle again, this time pitched low for sentinel ears.
“Don’t feel bad, Jim.” Simon’s look was sympathetic. “Hardison is a pro. I’m not surprised he made you; I’m sure he learned a lot in prison.”
“We still could have caught him. I was right on his tail until…” The air abruptly left Jim’s lungs as Blair’s warm breath ghosted over his crotch. His shorts were gaping open at the waist, and the only thing between him and Blair’s mouth was his underwear.
“Are you all right?” Simon asked, brows pulling together.
“I…” Blair was nuzzling and mouthing at his dick, which was responding in predictable, if inconvenient fashion. It didn’t help that Blair’s hair was spread across the tops of his thighs, tickling his legs with light, silken fingers. Between that and the moist pressure of Blair’s lips against the thin cotton of his boxers, it was all Jim could do to keep focused. With a massive effort, he wrenched his mind back to Simon standing in front of him. “I’ve been trying to tell you. I nearly had him, but he ran into someone’s yard and I ended up tangling with the gardener and getting a face full of rose fertilizer.”
Simon frowned. “That doesn’t sound good. You okay?”
“Ye—” In a flash, Jim saw his way out. “No. I took a shower, but I’m still feeling pretty funky. Smell seems out of whack, touch a little bit, too.” He unclenched one to rub at his eyes. “My eyes don’t feel great, either.”
“Did Sandburg check you out?”
“No.” Blair grazed his teeth lightly over the head of Jim’s dick, and Jim swallowed a whimper. “He… uh, he had to go back to the loft. Um, tutoring, or something.”
Simon regarded him gravely. “Well, maybe you’d better go home and have him run you through some tests or whatever it is that he does. After all, that’s what I don’t pay him for.”
“Good idea. I’ll do that.”
He waited until Simon was well out and around the corner from the bullpen, then reached down and grabbed Blair by the collar, dragging him out from under the desk. “What the hell has gotten into you?”
Blair’s face was flushed and his eyes were dark and gleaming, pupils wide. He grinned and ran his tongue slowly over his lips, and Jim’s irritation evaporated in a wave of lust. He groaned, letting go of Blair long enough to jerk his shorts back up and tie them. Then he grabbed Blair’s arm and hustled him towards the exit. “I’d better get you out of here before you do something really embarrassing.”
He towed Blair, who was giggling again, to the elevators, but stopped, struck by the vision of being trapped, even for a few short minutes, in a small metal box with his suddenly inexplicably horny partner.
Not that the vision wasn’t a nice one. Just not one he wanted to have happen in the PD. Time for the stairs.
As he dragged Blair towards the exit door, he cast desperately about in his mind for some clue about what the hell was going on. Blair was inventive, sure, and willing to try anything when it came to sex; he wasn’t usually so exhibitionistic, nor so excited by the possibility of being found out. In fact, he’d been pretty careful, since they’d started sleeping together, not to be too demonstrative at the PD, for fear of how discovery would affect Jim’s relationships with his co-workers.
Walking eight flights down didn’t cool Blair’s ardor one bit, and Jim’s decision to avoid the elevator was proven wise, as Blair tried to get his hands on Jim on every landing. It was hard work, keeping enough hold of Blair to keep him moving, but also trying to avoid Blair’s talented fingers. The near misses had him aching. It didn’t help that his own libido was increasingly lobbying for Blair’s solution to the problem.
They reached the garage and he manhandled Blair over to the passenger-side door of the truck. But he fumbled the keys as he pulled them out of his pocket, and they dropped to the ground. Distracted, he glanced down, and Blair shoved him up against the side of the truck, yanked his shorts back down around his ankles, and was crouching in front of him eyeing his tented boxers with the sort of hunger that he usually reserved for the deluxe lamb vindaloo at Sitar House.
He grabbed Blair’s head with both hands to keep it immobile, and duck-walked them over to the rear of the truck, which he was relatively sure was out of the range of the garage cameras. If there was one thing he earned in the Army, it was that sometimes you just had to shut up and go along with the program.
Settling back against the tailgate, he softened his grip and smiled at Blair, stroking his thumb lightly over his cheekbone in tacit permission. The look that Blair gave him back as he worked Jim’s boxers down made his heart stutter for a moment. Blair licked his lips again, taking in the sight of Jim’s stiff dick, took a deep breath, and closed his mouth around Jim.
Oh, Christ, he’s so good at this, Jim thought, as his head tilted back and his eyes tried to roll back in his head. He sank his fingers into Blair’s hair, dialing his sense of touch up so he could fully appreciate the soft, tender brush of the strands against his skin. Blair’s mouth was perfect; hot and moist, lips tight against him, tongue stroking that sweet spot right underneath the head that he knew drove Jim crazy.
He rolled his hips forward experimentally. Blair made a pleased murmuring sound and shifted slightly, en slid his hands up Jim’s thighs to grip his hips, signaling his readiness. With a shaky exhale, Jim cupped Blair’s head gently in his hands and started fucking his mouth in earnest. Within moments the combination of heat, slickness, and friction had brought him to the edge.
One of Blair’s hands traced lightly down the crease where hip joined thigh and stroked Jim’s balls, rolling them gently in his palm. Then those clever fingers sought out the tender spot of skin behind and pressed gently. Jim clenched his jaw down on a cry as white bursts of light bloomed behind his eyes and he came helplessly into Blair’s mouth.
When his limbs would obey him again, he grabbed the front of Blair’s shirt and hauled him up into a kiss, relishing the depths of that luscious mouth, tasting the bitter hint of his come on Blair’s tongue.
Blair whimpered and pressed against him, rocking his hips slightly. Jim took the hint and shifted so that his leg was pushed forward between Blair’s. He could feel Blair’s length hard against him, encased in denim, as Blair grunted and humped himself against Jim’s thigh.
Jim drank in the sight of him. Hair in a wild tangle around his face, eyes closed, teeth pressed against his bottom lip, he looked debauched and inexpressibly beautiful. He slipped a hand under the layers of flannel and cotton and ran it down Blair’s back, sliding underneath the waistband of his jeans and stroking lightly across his ass. Blair pressed closer, the rocking of his hips redoubled, and Jim parted his cheeks and slid a finger across his opening. Blair shuddered and came, muffling his exclamation against Jim’s shoulder.
Jim waited patiently, stroking slow circles over Blair’s back, until Blair’s breathing had returned to a regular rhythm. “So, Chief, what was that all about?”
“I… don’t know,” Blair d. He tilted his head to look up at Jim, a drowsy smile curving his mouth. “All of a sudden, I just… I wanted you.”
“You’ve wanted me before.”
“Yeah, this was… this was different. More intense. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.”
Jim smiled in return, rubbing his thumb lightly over the indentations in Blair’s bottom lip. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you. Except you might wait for a more appropriate location, next time.”
Blair’s cheeks flushed. “I don’t know what came over me. It was like I was drugged or something.” He snuggled up against Jim. “Pheromones in overdrive.”
He nodded. “I get that. After all, I tried to have sex in a coat check closet because of pheromones.” He thought back to Laura and that dizzying, desperate feeling of attraction and need.
The realization hit him like a lightning bolt. Pheromones. He sucked in a breath and held it, then burst out laughing.
“What?” Blair was looking at him with a wary smile.
“Pheromones,” he managed to get out, between gasps of laughter. It didn’t help, because Blair still had that faintly puzzled but still amused look.
When he caught his breath he grinned widely at Blair. “I know what happened to you.” Then he told Blair what Connor had found out about the fertilizer ingredients.
Blair’s eyes widened in shock and his mouth dropped open. “No way! No fucking way! Wolf urine? Wolf urine got me hot and bothered?”
“Female wolf urine,” Jim reminded him. “It is your spirit animal, after all.”
“But… but…” Blair shook his head. “I didn’t even get hit with the stuff.”
“You wiped my face off with your shirt. And you were touching me. I guess that was enough exposure. After all, you’ve seen what a little catnip does to me.”
Blair spluttered, but the corner of his mouth crooked up in a smile at the mention of his research on cat toys and their effect on Jim. He hadn’t seen Blair rendered speechless in quite some time. He should enjoy it while it lasted, because in a minute that wicked brain was going to start running double-time again.
He suppressed a shiver of pleasure at the thought, and tugged Blair’s face close to kiss him. “Come on, Chief, let’s go home and get cleaned up and get something to eat.”
As he pulled up his shorts, he gave the two of them an once-over. He looked all right, if a bit disheveled, but there was no hiding the damp spot on Blair’s jeans. Hopefully they had something in the fridge, because there was no way they were going grocery shopping looking like that. He retrieved his keys and unlocked the truck.
They were heading out of the garage when Blair spoke. “Actually, can we make a stop before we head for the loft?”
“Sure,” Jim replied. “You want to hit a drive-through somewhere?”
“Nah.” Blair gave him a sly grin. “I want to stop at Cascade Garden Center. I think we need some rosebushes for the loft balcony.”