Second in the "The Scientific Method" series; follows "Hypothesis!"
DISCLAIMER : This story refers to characters and concepts from the television show "The Sentinel," which do no belong to me.
NOTE : When I originally wrote "Hypothesis?", I didn't plan to take the story any further. However, I had so many requests for a morning-after sequel that I started writing "Validation." As Jim and Blair started to work things out, I realized there was more story to tell. Real relationships do not miraculously happen overnight. The boys will need time for their bond to develop properly. Thus this plotline has been turned into a series I'm calling "The Scientific Method." There are at several more parts to come after "Validation."
Warning : References to m/m sex
Blair came awake gradually. He felt content and satiated, his head comfortably pillowed on a human shoulder. Cuddled in loving arms was absolutely the best way to start off a morning. He allowed his senses to drift along the borderland of sleep, enjoying the feeling of skin-on-skin the entire length of his body. He snuggled happily. Slowly he trailed his fingers across the soft skin of the ribcage, bringing his hand to rest over his lover's heart. As he woke more fully, he began to kiss his way up the column of throat to a strong chin and firm lips. As the mouth opened to his exploring tongue, he became aware that he had just kissed his way across a stubble of beard and that the nipple he was caressing was located on a hard muscular chest rather than a soft feminine breast.
His eyes flew open, and he froze. Dark blue eyes looked into light. The world stopped as Blair realized he was making love to a man. No, not just any man -- it was his partner Jim Ellison! He lay petrified, unable to breathe, unable to think.
Time started up again. He thrust himself backwards with a cry, then tumbled from the couch as the blanket twisted around his legs tripping him. He scrambled backwards feeling his cheeks blaze with heat. His mouth worked, but no sound came from his throat.
The expression on Jim's face turned from surprise to pain. "Blair? Blair, are you all right?" The tone was worried. Fear clouded the smokey blue eyes.
Still Blair could not speak. The soul-searching of the previous months slowly rose in his memory: all his anxiety and doubts as he finally admitted to himself that he -- 100% heterosexual, woman-chasing, woman-loving Blair Sandburg -- was sexually attracted to his very male partner and friend. He recalled his agonizing self-examination as his research revealed the inevitability of the sexual bond between Sentinel and Guide. He remembered the moment he decided to respond to Jim's overtures, to offer his body as well as his friendship to the man he so admired. His mind was a kalideoscope of images from the previous night -- the blazing joy on Jim's face when he realized what Blair was offering, the touch that set his pulse to racing, the kisses that seared his lips and set his soul on fire, the unexpected passion mixed with tenderness, the mind-blowing orgasm as he came inside Jim's hot, wet mouth...
He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, willing his heartrate to slow and his blood pressure to drop back to normal.
"Blair! Blair..." Jim's voice came from miles away, but he could still hear the panic in it. "I'm sorry, Chief. I thought... I thought you were okay with what we did..."
The Guide instinct took over immediately, the need to alleviate and sooth his Sentinel paramount to all other considerations.
He opened his eyes to see Jim sitting up on the sofa, his arm outstretched and his fingers within inches of Sandburg's shoulder. As plainly as if it were written in a book, Blair read the big man's face. He knew Jim was aching to touch and comfort him but was afraid physical contact would be rejected. Jim was broadcasting so much fear and distress that the emotions rolled over him like a tidal wave.
The young man blinked and forced his rigid lips to respond. "It's okay, Jim. I was just startled to wake up on the sofa. That's all."
He was lying. He knew he was lying and so did Jim. But he thought if he repeated it often enough he could convince himself. Then he'd be able to convince Jim.
Gathering the twisted blanket around himself, he mumbled, "Gotta go to the bathroom," and dashed off before the other man could say anything.
Once inside with the door safely closed, Sandburg allowed his mind to go numb as he relieved himself, then moved to the sink to wash his hands. He found himself staring into the mirror, examining his face for unexpected changes. Beyond a certain haunted expression in the back of his eyes, all his features were the same. It was no different from the face he saw every morning in the mirror as he shaved.
He leaned forward and rested his forehead against the cool mirror surface.
"All right, Sandburg," he sighed silently, "you knew what you were getting into when you agreed to sleep with Jim. It's too late to have second thoughts."
His mirror image mocked him back, "But you didn't expect to enjoy it like you did, did you? You didn't think having sex with a man could be the same mind-blowing experience it is with a woman. You thought you'd be indulging Jim more than yourself. You didn't expect to turn your whole world view upside down."
And that was the crux of the matter. He'd intellectualized the decision in advance. He'd still thought of himself as heterosexual, or at least 99.9 per cent. He'd believed the sexual bond with his Sentinel would be physical only, that it wouldn't affect him emotionally on such a deep level. He'd thought the drive for sex between them was more on Jim's part than his. He hadn't expected to find passion within himself, passion that struck directly right down to the center of his being.
He leaned back and stared into his mirrored eyes. "Who am I? What am I now?"
"Blair? Blair, are you all right in there?" His roommate's voice drew him from his reverie.
"Fine... I'm fine..." he managed to croak.
Come on, Sandburg. Pull yourself together. Don't do this to Jim. It's not his fault you didn't think this through as thoroughly as you thought you had. "I'll be out in a sec," he added.
He took a deep breath, let it out slowly and headed for the door. His hand froze on the knob. He found he couldn't face Jim naked. It would leave him feeling too vulnerable, too... Too what? Be honest, Sandburg, he scolded himself. Too embarassed.
Quickly he reached inside the clothes hamper and dug out a teeshirt and a pair of plaid boxers. He pulled them on, unaware his face was flushing with heat.
Finally he made it out of the bathroom.
Jim was waiting just outside the door, looking pale and bewildered. Blair heaved a sigh of relief when he saw that the man had pulled his own boxers back on as well.
His eyes flicked guiltily away from Jim's anxious face.
"I'm gonna put some coffee on," he muttered, then rushed past his roommate before the big man could speak.
He felt Jim's eyes boring into his back as he went about putting fresh Columbian in the coffee maker and filled it with water.
Turn around, Sandburg. Face the man. Tell him how you feel.
But I don't know how I feel. A long pause, then: Last night was magic! Little shivers of pleasure ran up and down his skin at the memory. Everything felt so right, so perfect -- but this morning I feel all out of kilter with the world, like what happened wasn't real... like it was someone else making love to Jim, not me.
He sighed and leaned into the counter.
Strong hands clasped his shoulders, causing him to startle. He was drawn back against a broad, firm chest. Warm breath whispered over his ear, "It's all right, Chief. You're gonna be fine. It's okay to feel all confused right now." The hands slid down his chest and the arms came around him in a loving embrace. "Your whole world has just been turned upside down, and you don't know what to think. It's perfectly natural to feel this way."
Blair discovered slow tears were seeping from his eyes. "I'm sorry. It's so stupid... I don't know why I'm reacting this way."
"Shush," Jim's gentle voice whispered into his curls. "There's noting to be sorry for. You think I don't remember what it felt like the first time after I'd been with another man? I was so angry at him... at myself... My whole self-image had been destroyed. It took weeks for me to get myself back together. I kept blaming him, saying he took advantage of me. It took a long time for me to admit that bi-sexuality was part of my nature."
Blair sobbed and turned in Jim's arms, wrapping his own arms around the bigger man. Leaning his face against his friend's comforting chest, he tried to explain himself. "But I already knew I was attracted to you... The Sentinel/Guide bond, I knew it was happening between us. I made the first move. I can't claim you took advantage of me. I knew what I was doing. So, why do I feel the whole world has turned inside out? I'm not being fair to you, and I don't know why I feel like this..."
Jim's fingers began to run up and down his spine in a soothing rhythm. "Knowing something in your head, Blair, and knowing it in your heart are two different matters." He kneaded the young man's knotted muscles. "Last night you were acting on instinct... We both were acting on instinct. It felt like a dream, like we were totally disconnected from the world. This morning reality has set in. You're having to deal with a new vision of yourself, something that goes to the core of your identity. I know, Chief. I've been there." He paused and ran his fingers in slow circles over Blair's back. The Guide leaned into his Sentinel's embrace. "Whether planned ahead or just something that happed out of the blue, it's world-shattering. Your world is virtually torn to pieces, and you have to put it back together in a new pattern. It's not easy, but -- believe me -- you will learn to accept your new self... because your new self and your old self are just two sides of the same person. You're still Blair Sandburg. You always have been, and you always will be."
They stood, holding each other in comforting silence, until the sound of the coffee maker finishing brewing drew them back to the physical world.
Blair looked into Jim's caring face and gave a tremulous smile. "Are you sure your college major wasn't in psych, Lover?"
'Lover.' It was hard getting the word out, but as soon as he'd said it, he felt a weight lift off his shoulders. Lovers. He and his best friend were lovers. The world had shifted on its axis, but it continued to spin around the sun. Maybe everything was going to be all right after all.
Planting a quick kiss on Jim's chin, Blair put himself into gear to face the day. "Why don't you go take a shower while I finish making breakfast. If we don't get a move on it, we're going to be late for work."
"...you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah. I may have some more reflecting to do, but I think I've turned the corner."
He looked directly into Jim's eyes, gave him his most dazzling smile, and kissed him firmly on the lips. "Let's get this day underway."
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