FAULT LINES - part 3

 

"Blair, love, didn’t we just have this conversation.  I told you, YOU are not going to ruin this relationship.  You can't, I won't let you."

 

"I know, you said that.  But, I've done it in the past.  I've driven people away, people have gotten sick of me or I've done something and they didn't tell me and they've just left and....." 

 

“Blair, hush.  That is not going to happen this time.  Other people may have left your relationships at the first sign of trouble, but I’m not them.  I am not going to do that.  If we split apart it’s not going to be because of something you did---something bad you did.  I’m not like that.  You have to trust me, love.  You have to, otherwise….” He trailed off, "otherwise, our relationship can never be as wonderful as I know it can be."

 

Twisting around in Jim’s arms, Blair hugged him.  "I know, I'm trying, I really am."

 

Jim said simply, "I love you,” as he pulled the doubting Thomas in closer.

 

"Me, too."

 

"Come on, let's go to bed.  It's been a long day for both of us."

 

"Let me make love to you,” Blair said, earnestly, his eyes looking up pleadingly.

 

"Your wish is my command, love,” Jim answered with a smile.  Bending down he kissed his lover, holding the sides of Blair's face, plunging his tongue deep into the waiting mouth.  He could feel Blair's eager hands quickly unbuttoning his shirt, sliding it off his shoulders.

 

"I want you tonight, I want to be in you," Blair whispered, momentarily breaking from the kiss, as his hands further helped Jim undress.

 

"Anything you want, love, I am at your disposal."

 

"Ah, and I would have to forget to bring my handcuffs with me," Blair laughed, as he initiated the next kiss.  Hungrily attacking Jim's mouth, he grabbed the taller man's head and held it in place. Bringing one leg up and wrapping it around Jim's, Blair ensured that his lover was not going anywhere.

 

Reaching one large hand down, Jim cupped Blair's now naked butt, softly kneading it, almost in rhythm to Blair's leg movements on his hip.   Stopping his kneading for a moment, he brought his hand up to the swollen lips.  Almost instinctually, without a word, Blair took the offered finger in his mouth and slowly sucked on it. 

 

Smiling slightly at the sounds his partner was making, the need and yearning so obvious in the passionate moment, Blair took his time sucking and nibbling the offered finger.

 

"No, no, no," Jim said, withdrawing his finger from Blair's mouth with a smile, "I have plans for this, I don't need you eating it."

 

"Oh," Blair said, pretending to pout, "I guess I will just have to make due with something else," he said, attacking Jim's lips again with a renewed fervor.

 

Bringing the wetted finger down to Blair's butt again, Jim lightly teased his partner's opening, quickly darting in and out.

 

Moaning, the curly-haired young man hiked his leg up more, opening himself further to Jim's fingers.

 

"Do you want to continue this in the bedroom or should I let you ravish me right here on the living room floor?" Jim asked minutes later.

 

"Bedroom," Blair answered breathlessly, "Lube?"

 

"My bag on the nightstand."

 

"Always the Boy Scott, huh?"

 

"Hey, one of us needs to be."

 

Stepping back from Jim, Blair smiled wickedly, "Come on," he said, "I don't want to be kept waiting."

 

"Yes, sir," the other man replied, laughing, "your chariot awaits."  With that, he stepped closer to Blair, sweeping him up into his arms, cupping his seat.

 

Blair gasped and quickly wrapped his legs around Jim's waist.

 

With his hands supporting Blair's butt, his fingers were allowed to resume the exploration of his guide’s body, finishing the journey of promise they had begun.

 

"Let's go, Chief. You may be a little smaller then me, but you are not that light."

 

Laughing, Blair nuzzled into Jim’s neck and allowed himself to be carried into the bedroom and deposited on the bed.  Bouncing up he hungrily sought the tube of lubricant in Jim’s toilet case.  Laying down, laughter still evident in the bright eyes, he waited while Jim joined him.

 

"Ready?  Sure I can top?" Blair asked, waiting for final approval.

 

"I am more then ready and I love it when you top."

 

Smiling at the older man's answer, he swiftly oiled his cock with one hand while he gently stroked Jim's with his other. Lifting his lover's knees to his shoulders, he quickly plunged into the now relaxed, lubricated orifice with one smooth motion.

 

Jim opened his mouth to moan, but was stopped by Blair's questing tongue filling the enclosure with his sweet taste.

 

The younger man lay on top of him for a brief moment, allowing Jim to adjust to the penetration, before pulling up to begin thrusting into the waiting body.

 

There is almost nothing as good as this. Jim beneath me---open and willing---his blue eyes wide and dilated with arousal, Blair thought as he increased his thrust.

 

When Jim gave a small moan, Blair reached down to stroke the now erect cock. "Come for me, Jim. Come with me, love."

 

The younger man's breathing increased as he began to vary his thrusting---quick, short spurts and then the long slide out before shoving back in again as hard as he could. For a brief moment, he considered whether he was hurting Jim, but one look at the almost heavenly pleasure that lit Jim's sweaty face and the thought quickly disappeared.

 

Wrapping his legs around Blair's waist in an effort to take even more of his guide into him, Jim strained with the effort.

 

Shaking his head “no,” sweat droplets fell to mingle with the streaks of moisture on Jim's chest.  God, I love this man, Blair swore.  It was the trust his lover placed in him.  He knew some men considered it unmanly to ever bottom, but Jim had no problem giving up that control; even though he topped most of the time, it was never actually a given with them.

 

"Jim, I'm going to come, baby," Blair gasped.

 

"I love you, Blair!" Jim screamed as he contracted his inner muscles at the peak of the thrust and felt Blair's shutter as he came.

 

Frozen and trembling, he squeezed Jim's cock and was rewarded with copious, milky fluid splattering them both, as their orgasms seemed to go on forever. 

 

Slumping heavily over Jim's heaving chest, his hair damp with exertion, Blair sighed.

 

They lay like that for several minutes before the younger man made a move to slide off.

 

"No, stay inside me just a little longer.   Please?" Jim asked rather tentatively. "I love the feel of you in me."

 

"Of course love, anything."

 

Jim gave a tired, contented sigh and drifted off to sleep.  Still inside his lover, Blair joined him in tandem, riding the smooth surf of fulfilled desire.

 

 

 

 

Jim awoke with a start, momentarily confused, not seeing the familiar warmth piercing through the skylight in his bedroom, but Blair was curled up next to him, peacefully sleeping, so it didn’t really matter where he was.  Settling down into his pillow and snuggling back up to the smaller body sharing his bed, he did not fall back asleep immediately.  His mind wandered back to Friday night and sitting alone in the loft.  Fluctuating between worry and anger at his guide, he debated about what to do.  The loneliness of the night allowed him to ponder their relationship, it's problems and what viable solutions were at hand.

 

After much deliberation and a long, emotionally engaging phone call to old friends in London, Jim had reached his decision.  He only hoped that Blair would accept it.

 

 

 

 

The next morning, Blair awoke slowly.  Stretching and yawning, he looked around, trying to figure out where he was.   Falling back into the softness of his pillow he remembered his flight from the University with Ben, Jim and Simon tracking him down.  Jim had said they would talk about it today.  Lying quietly, contemplating pretending to be asleep, he thought about yesterday.  He knew Jim was not mad at him, disappointed, maybe---probably---but as he said several times, they would get through this relationship crisis.

 

He heard Jim walk down the hall and pause outside the bedroom door.  Listening, Blair thought.

 

"Come in, Big Guy, I'm awake," he called out.

 

"Come on, Chief, up and at 'em, it's 9:30 already, I've got breakfast cooking and I don't want it to get burnt or cold waiting for you."

 

Blair sat up, giving Jim his best puppy dog look, "No good morning kiss? No 'thank you for fucking me until I saw stars;’ all I get is a 'up and at 'em?’"

 

Jim laughed.  Walking over to the bed, he flopped down next to his guide.  Kissing him gently on the nose, he said, “Good morning, love.  Thank you for fucking me until I saw stars last night."

 

Blair kissed him back, "Much better, and you’re welcome."

 

 

Placing both plates of pancakes on the table, Jim sat down.  Blair had already set down their coffee cups. 

 

"We need to go shopping today and get some more food." Jim said, as he began to butter his stack.

 

"I know, there's a grocery store in town that's not that far."  Blair stopped for a moment, then hesitantly he added, “Jim, I'm sorry about yesterday and running away...”

 

"Chief, we need to talk about it, " Jim said, interrupting him.  "But, first, before we do that, I have something else to talk to you about.  Let me tell you a story.  You think you can sit there quietly and not interrupt too often?"

 

Blair laughed, "Okay, few questions, I promise."

 

Jim smiled at him.  "Okay.  Have you ever heard me mention Vincent Cade and Damien St. Clair?"

 

"Yeah, that's your old commander, right, the one who lives just outside of London?  He and Damien are partners."

 

"Right, they've been together for years now.  They live in Salisbury.  Cade retired from the military when I was in Peru.  I spent some time with them---over a month---when I got out.  It was peaceful there, walking or just looking out on the Plain.  So different from Peru"

 

"I bet."

 

"But, what impressed me the most was them.  I already had some male lovers, if you could call them lovers.  Most of them were just quick lays, a good hard fuck once in awhile.  It was sort of depressing and that's what I really thought gay relationships were.  Nothing committed, nothing stable."

 

Blair nodded, he had gone through lovers like that, "It is lonely. It’s depressing to think that is it." 

 

"Yeah," Jim said, reaching over and giving Blair's hand a gentle squeeze.  "But, they were different.  They were totally in love, totally committed to each other, true lovers---emotionally and physically lovers.  They rarely argued, both seemed at peace with each other and with themselves, there was a sense of order."

 

Blair blushed and looked down at his plate, knowing that order and peace was something rarely seen at the loft.  Especially lately, with his schedule, he seemed to be running around half the time, not sure if he was coming or going.

 

"Vincent and I spent a lot of time together, walking around or just sitting on their porch talking.  I already knew I was at least bi-sexual, if not totally gay, and we talked about that.  When I told him how impressed I was with his relationship with Damien, and I asked him how he found someone so perfect, he just told me that they had an arrangement that worked for them, kept the peace and kept Day on track and in control.  I gathered from what Vin told me, Damien had some trouble staying in school and was just out of control when they first meet.  I think he had even had some minor trouble with the law."

 

"What sort of arrangement did they have?"  Blair asked.

 

"I found out one afternoon.  I had gone for a walk over to the Cathedral, but had gotten a headache and came back home early.  I walked in and heard Day crying.  I thought he was hurt or something horrible had happened.  I rushed into their bedroom, without knocking and found him curled up on Vincent's lap, crying.  He didn't seem to notice me, but Vin nodded to me and motioned for me to leave.  I did, totally puzzled by what I had seen.  I went out on the porch and about an hour later Vin joined me.  He told me that Damien had been rude and had been punished."

"Oh!" Blair said quietly, "I wondered where you learned to spank me."

 

Jim smiled, "Yeah. We talked a long time about the arrangement they had come up with.  They found that being in a disciplinary relationship worked.  Day did better, he was happier, less stressed, felt more in control, as a result their relationship worked better.  They had a set of rules that they agreed upon for Damien and they agreed that he would be punished, mainly spanked or paddled, for breaking them."  He stopped, looking at Blair for a minute.

 

Blair looked down at his plate, not meeting Jim's eyes.

 

"Blair, love," Jim began, placing his large hands on top of the smaller, trembling ones.  "I talked to them both Friday night, when you were missing.  I told them about how stressed you've been, how out of control you've seemed.  We talked a long time about the stress our relationship's been under.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seemed to be better, happier, less stressed right after I spanked you those two times.  I was keeping you in line, for a little while right after that, then I would slack off and you, we, would go right back into the old patterns for awhile until the next time I reached my limit and punished you again."

 

Blair nodded, and mumbled, "Yeah," hating to admit the truth of the matter.

 

"That's not fair to you.  Most people need consistent expectations and I was failing to give that to you in our relationship.  I would be frustrated and punish you for pushing yourself and doing too much, but then I would allow you to do exactly the same thing a month later.  That's not fair, that's not helping.  Vincent and Damien both suggest, think it would help, for us to try a disciplinary relationship."

 

Blair's head shot up with that and he looked startled.  "What does that mean?  What do you mean by that?" he asked, quietly.

 

"It means pretty much whatever we want it to mean.  But, basically, we would sit down and write out rules for your behavior, expectations for you, with clear consequences for breaking those rules.   We could agree to this for a trial period of time, say ... six months.  After that time, we would talk about it and see how it's working for us."

 

Blair did not say anything, just sat at the table, twisting his paper napkin until it began to shred.

 

"Blair, please, look at me."  Jim waited until his guide finally raised his eyes and looked at the older man.  "I love you so much, I hate to see you hurting yourself, stressing out, being out of control.  I don't like what it does to our relationship.  I really think that this might work.  I think we need to do something.  Please, trust me, give up control to me and you will find a deeper, better control over your life.  I can't force you; I want you to decide on your own.  I am not going to leave you, even if you say ‘no,’ but I think we need to do something."

 

Blair nodded, "We have to do something," he agreed, softly.

 

Jim knelt down next to Blair's chair.  "That's all I ask love, think about it.  We can talk about it later.  Just think about it right now."  Kissing the younger man gently, he stood up.  Picking up both plates, he walked into the kitchen, giving his lover the space he needed.  Running water, and adding soap, he looked over at Blair still sitting at the table.  The younger man looked up and gave Jim a small smile.  Smiling back, Jim's heart felt lighter. 

 

Blair stood up and carried the butter back and put it in the small refrigerator.   Grabbing a sponge from the sink, he began to clean the counters.

 

As they cleaned up after breakfast, Blair asked, hesitantly "Jim, I know that we need to talk about this...”

 

"Yes, we do."

 

"Umm, I have some things I need to figure out first, can we do it in a little while, like maybe this afternoon or something?"

 

Jim put the plate down that he was drying and stepped closer to Blair.

 

"Love, we have all week to talk, take as much time as you need, we can do it whenever you want.  We have some big issues to talk about and I want you comfortable.” He paused for a moment, debating about saying something and then deciding, he continued.  "You know, whatever you decide, we will work with it and deal with it, so don't worry about what I want or what you think I want, you have to make this decision."

 

Leaning over, hands soapy and wet, the younger man kissed him, leaving wet handprints on his shirt.  "I love you."

 

"Me, too."

 

 

Blair walked up a path near their lodging to the middle of a small waterfall, an easy half-mile walk from the cabin.  The path ended into a rocky outcropping into full sunlight.  Sitting down comfortably on a rock, warmed by the sun, he looked up at the cascading water spilling over the edge of the waterfall---rushing, plunging onward, not knowing where it was going, not knowing what lay before it or what would happen when it got to its final destination.

 

Smiling, feeling a sort of kinship with the water, he relaxed.  Looking down, he could see still ponds around the edge of the stream, fed by the waterfall, but safely protected from the whitewater by rock or tree branches.  Blair became absorbed in the churning excitement and foaming movement created in the whitewater directly at the base of the flowing water.  A small twig fell over the edge and was carried along with the current.  Tracking its place and movement absentmindedly, he saw it churn and turn, trapped in the turbulent water, not going anywhere, not continuing its journey, just spinning.

 

Suddenly, through some force of nature, it was able to free itself and continued along its path down the river.  Blair watched it float away in the water, knowing that it would find other waterfalls and face other struggles in its journey until it found a safe resting place.  The calm pool around the edge of the stream had a mixture of twigs and leafs that had decided to end their journey in this beautiful spot.  Knowing it was stupid, he still could not help but wonder, which twig was happiest.

 

The young man sat there, thinking of twigs and journeys and Jim and himself for almost an hour.  Sitting straighter and stretching, he debated about what to do next.  A peace had come over him; a decision had been made.  He did not want to leave his perch, but wanted to explain his decision in the spot where it had made the most sense to him.

 

Feeling confident that Jim was respecting his privacy, but also equally confident that his Blessed Protector was also keeping an ear out for him, he said in a normal tone, "Jim, I'm ready to talk if you want to."  Pausing for a moment, then, suddenly afraid, he added, "but not if you're busy, or don't want to talk right now.  I'll understand ... we can do it whenever you want.  There's no rush."

 

Nervously fidgeting for a few moments, he forced himself to take a deep breath and relax.  It was out of his control now, he had chosen a path and he was going to see where it went.  It was not his to worry about and stress over because he had handed the problem over to a man he trusted with all his heart.

 

Ten minutes later, he heard a warm, gentle voice behind him, as strong arms wrapped themselves around his chest.  "Love, I am never too busy for you.  You are my top priority, you are above everything else."

 

Smiling, Blair did not turn around, but gave a stage whisper, trying not to laugh, "Oh Bob!  You shouldn't be here.  Jim, my possessive and overly protective lover is going to be here in a few minutes.  He has a tendency to go a little crazy if he finds me with other men.  He wants me to have 'property of JE' branded on my forehead."

 

Laughing, Jim bopped him on the head, saying, "Yeah, and don't you forget it!"

 

Settling down behind his guide, the Sentinel surveyed the waterfall and the stream,  "This is a beautiful spot you've found, Chief."

 

 "It is."

 

Several moments of silence eased them into a familiar comfort, as Blair tried to shape his thoughts into structure.

 

His partner waited patiently, knowing that this was a leap in trust his friend had to make on his own.  His only job right now was to be supportive and protective and be there when that leap came, catching the young man in a web of strength and promise.

 

"Remember the first time you spanked me?" the younger man, asked finally.

 

"Yeah, this summer; you were not sleeping or eating...but telling me you were.  You ended up crashing your car, because you fell asleep driving home."

 

"You basically carried me home, put me to bed for two days.  You weren't too mad at me."

 

"I was scared, Chief.  You could have gotten seriously injured."

 

"It hurt."

 

Jim knew immediately what he was talking about.  The day after Blair's accident, he had gone upstairs and the younger man was blowing the whole thing off.  He didn't seem to understand how important his health was or how frightened Jim had been by his carelessness.  The older man, acting not as a roommate or a friend or a police detective, had reacted solely as a lover, frustrated at his partner's actions and out of a need to get through to him how wrong his behavior had been.

 

Jim had sat down on the bed, pulled Blair over his lap, pulled down his boxers and spanked him.  It had been a short, but hard spanking that had left Blair sobbing.  The tears were caused more by embarrassment and the knowledge that he had scared the detective rather than real pain or damage.  Later that day, they had talked about it and Blair admitted that while he did not enjoy the spanking, he understood it and was fine with it.    

 

"It was supposed to hurt, love," Jim answered, pushing the memory from his mind.

 

"I know."  Then falling silent again, Blair reworked his thinking, gathering his courage to make the final leap.

 

Time matched the steady flow of the stream, constant and moving.  The two men sat quietly watching the water both lost in thought.

 

"I was sitting here thinking," Blair said, breaking the silence, "and I saw this twig floating in the water.  It went over the waterfall and got caught down below in the turbulence.  It looked like it was trapped there, but somehow it managed to break free and continue on down the stream.  It seemed to pause for a second, as if it were thinking about going into the calm area, in that little pool over there."

 

Jim looked to where his partner was pointing and saw a calm, peaceful little patch of water, protected by some larger rocks.  "Ah huh," he said, not wanting to stop Blair's speech, but wanting to be encouraging.

 

"I kind of felt sorry for the twig, it chose to continue down the river and it's going to face more waterfalls and more turbulence. It doesn't know what it's like to feel safe and at peace and it may never find it,” he finished, twisting around so he faced Jim.  "I want what you offered this morning, I want to give you that control over me.  I want to feel safe, Jim, for a time."

 

"Blair, you don't have to give me control for us to continue.  I love you, no matter what," Jim said earnestly, knowing this was a big step---wanting Blair to make it for the right reasons.

 

"I know, Jim, I really do.  I thought a lot about the last months and the time when you did discipline me or make me walk some line.  I was a better person, and we were better together.  There was less stress and I felt calmer, more in control and I got more things done.  I was a better person, knowing that you were there, ready to pull me back in line if I strayed too far."

 

"Blair, you are always a good person, you will always be a good person.  I don't do that, that is you...all by yourself."

 

"I know.  I am smart and everything, and before I met you, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to travel.  I didn't want to settle down.  I enjoyed following the river, not caring what I was leaving behind or what I was facing, I had to keep moving."  His voice trailed off, once again allowing silence to reign between them.

 

Honoring the silence, not wishing to push, giving Blair the freedom to make his own decision, Jim stared off into the distance.

 

"Now," he began, almost whispering, "I don't know what I want.  I'm out of control.  My schoolwork is suffering, my teaching is suffering, I'm hurting myself and I'm hurting our relationship.  I need you to take control for a little while, I need a firm constant in my life.  I need to know that you are there.  I need to find out who I am and what I want."

 

"Blair, love," the older man said, hugging his partner tightly, "I will always be there."

 

"I know," came a small voice, "but I need this; I need you, I can't do it by myself anymore."  With that final revelation, a sob broke free and Blair seemed to fold up into himself.

 

Pulling the huddled figure closer, Jim began a slight rocking movement.  "It's okay, it's going to be okay.  You'll be fine.  We'll be fine.  We'll get you back on track in no time."

 

Blair nodded, hugging tightly to his own rock in the stream, sighing heavily.

 

Time moved forward half cloaking the once sunny rock in shadows, burnishing the landscape with the golden solemnity of late afternoon.

 

"Chief, I think we should be heading back.  We need to run into town for some supplies and I don't want to be out too late."

 

"Okay," Blair said, slowly moving out of Jim's arms and standing up.  "I don't want you to spank me," he whispered quietly, not looking at the Sentinel, studying the stream intently.

 

Throwing an arm around the smaller man's shoulder, giving him a hug, the other replied gently, "That's not your decision anymore, Chief."

 

"I know."

 

 

Walking through the aisles of the small grocery shop, they discussed what they needed for the week.  Blair had gotten some supplies, but they needed what Jim referred to as "real food.”

 

"Sandburg, why don't you go pick out some potatoes to go with the steaks." 

 

"Okay, but I am also getting stuff for salads, just because we're on vacation, doesn't mean that I'm going to let you eat whatever you want," Blair said, laughing dictatorially, as he walked off towards the produce.

 

Smiling to himself Jim watched him disappear around a corner.  Blair had been quiet and subdued on their walk back from the stream.  The older man was determined to show him that little was going to change in their relationship now that Blair had agreed to answer to Jim about his behavior.  In Jim's mind, they were still equal, neither one of them having more say about their lives than the other one. 

 

His smile vanished, replaced by a more thoughtful look, knowing that they were going to have a rough night tonight.  He knew he needed to punish Blair for taking matters into his own hands and for running away.  He had jeopardized Cutler’s life as well as his own. Blair knew that it was going to happen---would have happened even if they had not reached their agreement this afternoon---but, Jim knew, just because his guide knew it was deserved, knew he had agreed to it, he would not go quietly.  He expected and understood the reaction.  It was a natural one, no matter how much you deserve something and almost welcome it a part of you is still afraid---does not want to be hurt  

 

Driving up with Simon yesterday, he had given Blair's behavior and the consequences of it a lot of thought.  Now, with their recent agreement, Jim knew that he would have to go beyond a simple spanking.  Dismissing using a strap or a belt as too harsh, he decided that a paddle would be best. 

 

"Hey, man, you've barely moved since I left," a voice came from behind, startling the older man.

 

"Oh sorry, Chief, just thinking.  Did you get everything we need?"

 

"Yeah," Blair exclaimed, proudly holding up a multitude of bags.

 

"Okay.  I need to get some shampoo, I forgot to bring some."

 

"You could always use mine.  Hey, don't be making a face!  If it's good enough for all of this,” he said indicating his curls, "I'm sure it can handle your…. Umm… hair."

 

Laughing and teasing each other, they walked to the hair product's aisle.  Picking up a small bottle of his normal shampoo, Jim paused by the hairbrushes, studying them.  Seeing one that would work, he picked it up and threw it into the basket.

 

Blair noticed the new addition, picking the large brush up, he looked puzzled, "Jim, this isn't going to make a dent in my hair.  I use a comb, plus I don't think half these bristles will ever get a workout on your head."  Reaching over to put it back on the shelf, he was stopped by Jim. 

 

Taking the brush from his hand and tossing it back into the basket, Jim said gently, almost matter-of-factly, "It's not for your hair, love."

 

A look of puzzlement and then embarrassment crossed Blair’s face.  Glancing around quickly to see if anyone else was close enough to overhear his lover's statement, he lowered his voice and stammered out, "Not for my hair?"

 

"No," the other man replied calmly.

 

"Oh!"

 

As they finished shopping, Blair could not keep his eyes off of the brush.  No matter what he threw into the basket, the brush remained on top, in plain view, a constant reminder of what was coming.  He could not help staring at it.  I'm crazy, he thought to himself; I'm a grown man that is going to allow my lover to discipline me when he feels it's necessary.  I have no say in the matter.  Oh God, what was I thinking?  I can't do that! I can't allow that to happen to me!  Feeling the rising panic, he tried to control his breathing enough to get the words out, say something that would cancel their agreement. 

 

As they rounded a corner into an empty aisle of cereals, Jim suddenly stopped the cart and gathered Blair into a quick hug.  "It's okay, Chief, you've made the right decision, it will work out.  You have to trust me and you have to trust yourself."

 

Blair gave a small laugh, "How did you know I was freaking out?"

 

"I figured as much.  Plus I could hear your breathing and heartbeat going off the scale.  It's a scary thought.  But," he said, looking down into worried blue eyes, "it's the right thing.  You said it's what you want and what you think you need.  I agree with you.  You have to have faith in me and have faith in yourself; you may be scared, you may be having second…"

 

"Try fourth, man."

 

Jim smiled, "fourth thoughts, but think back to the river this morning and what you told me, what you figured out.  I think if you look deep inside yourself, you'll see that this decision is the right one."

 

Blair did not speak for several minutes, just allowing himself to feel safe in Jim's arms, trying to re-capture the feelings he had this afternoon.  The image of the twig caught in the turbulence and not finding peace flashed through him.  Breaking free, he sighed, "You're right.  I'm just scared.  Seeing the hairbrush that you are buying, knowing what you are going to do with it.... "  He paused for a moment, searching for the right words. "It just makes it seem so real, so 'this is my life'. "

 

"It is real, buddy.  This is your life…at least for the next six months.  It's going to be okay."

 

"I know, I do know you’re right; I know I'm right, but I'm still scared," he finished with a nervous laugh.

 

"You have every right to be.  Come on, let’s finish this and go home, it's getting late."

 

 

After unpacking the Volvo and putting the groceries away, Jim went into the bedroom they were using and grabbed a book from his bag.  Settling on the sofa in front of the fireplace he listened to Blair grab something from the fridge and walk into the living room.

 

"I'm going to go sit outside on the porch for awhile.  Okay?"

 

"You want some company?"

 

"Umm, actually..."

 

"Say no more...it's okay.  I'll do dinner tonight.  In about an hour?"

 

"That sounds good."

 

Blair opened the door, but stopped.  Not looking at Jim, he asked quietly, "When is it going to... when are we going to... when are you going to spank me?"

 

Rising from the couch Jim walked over to the smaller man.  Gathering him in his arms he kissed him softly on the forehead.  "After dinner, we will sit down and talk and then you will go into the second bedroom and wait for me.  I'll come in and put you over my lap, pull down your pants and boxers and paddle you.  We can talk again afterwards or we can just cuddle or I can leave you alone.  Your call, we can do whatever makes you comfortable."

 

Swallowing hard, Blair nodded. "Thanks, I hate not knowing what's going to happen."  Stepping outside, pausing just before he closed the door, still looking down, he asked, "Is it going to hurt?"

 

"Yes."

 

Nodding slightly, Blair shut the door to the porch.  Jim could hear his soft footfalls on the wood planking then the creak of the swing chains, and ultimately the steady, even rhythm of his glide through space.

 

Pausing for a moment, gauging the other's vitals, Jim walked back to the sofa. Lifting the book from the large coffee table, he tried to refocus to the page, but it was futile.  Concentration eluded him like a soft butterfly, fluttering out the window to the porch, to the one who mattered the most to him.  Listening with his heart as well as his senses, he latched onto his love, wanting to protect him from anything harmful, including himself.

 

 

Sitting in the cool of the evening, allowing the motion of the swing to relax him, Blair thought back over the past several years of his life with Jim, the last year since they had become lovers and further back to the time before Jim.

 

He had always prided himself on being smart, driven, sure of himself, but deep down inside he knew that it was a lie. The lies were fabricated as shells to protect him, keep him safely tucked into a world where he had control, where he could strut his stuff with surety and purpose.

 

The younger man grimaced thinking of how like Ben Cutler he really was: cocky, almost to the point of obnoxious, when he started college, overly eager to enlighten the realm of academia and blow them all away with his insightful wisdom.  What few people saw was that the cockiness was just a mask, just a cover to hide his fears, his insecurities.  Bringing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them, he hugged himself.  Trying to keep the long suppressed fears and feelings of inadequacies at bay, he knew that these fears were still driving him today. 

 

Fear of falling short of the mark plagued him in all his roles. If he wasn't perfect; wasn't a wonderful teacher, insightful guide, caring and attentive lover, brilliant consultant, then he would not be deemed worthy by whatever gods or fates controlled these things.  It would all be taken from him and he would be alone again---tossed without choice back into the river to face the turbulence and whitewater again, without support or guidance, alone again.

 

Rationally, he knew this was the force driving him, trying to do too much and failing at all.  No! he told himself,  not failing, just not succeeding, not enjoying much of it.   He shook his head as if trying to rid himself of such depressing thoughts, and pushed back on the swing to get it going again.

 

Thinking back to his arrangement with Jim and what was going to happen this evening, he began to concentrate on that.  He was still lost in thought, fluctuating between a calm acceptance and the knowledge that it was the right thing to do and a cold fear that settled into his stomach.   He contemplated calling the whole thing off when Jim quietly opened the door and announced that dinner was ready.

 

 

Dinner was a simple meal of soup and crusty bread, broiled with garlic and oil.

 

Sensing the distress associated with the coming event, Jim set off the meal with an explosive barrage of questions, all focusing on the vacation, the time to relax and enjoy each other's company.

 

"What do you think we should do, love, with our time up here, anything special?  I was thinking some hiking, maybe catch some scenic sites, or we could just lay around here, read, or..."

 

"No way, man. This place is magnificent, Jim. I did some reading about the local sites and historical dramas in the region…"

 

With that Blair jumped in. The remembered plans for their week together kicking in and going full throttle. Blair took off on ideas and expectations.

 

Jim listened attentively, nodding his head, withholding the smile that threatened to break. This was the Blair he wanted out more often. This was his eager charmer of tales and plans and dreams, spinning with bright blues eyes and quick-witted hope webs of delight.

 

"…And Jim there is a trail about 10 miles from here that leads to a series of three amazing waterfalls. It’s supposed to be an easy hike from the tourist lot near the Point.  So, you think we can go tomorrow?"

 

Jim smiled at his lover, glad to see the nervousness and hesitation that had gripped the younger man earlier was almost forgotten.  "Sure, Chief, tomorrow or Tuesday---remember, we have all week."

 

Nodding his head, in eager agreement, lost in the joys of planning the vacation, he concurred.  "Okay, that sounds good.  Whenever. Fishing, too, Jim, let's do some fishing."

 

He stood from the table and carried his and Jim's bowls into the kitchen.  Looking out the bay window, he saw a deer and fawn grazing off some berries in the thick foliage.

 

"Jim...Jim," he said softly, motioning with his hands for the man to join him at the window.

 

Ellison came up behind him and pulling Blair back against him he hugged the man to him. They stood for a few seconds enjoying the beautiful creatures. Then a noise from the road, some unknown predator scrambling through the thick growth, or a danger only they could sense, and they were off and away in their graceful dance of flight.

 

Pulling away, Blair started filling the sink with water.  "So what do you want to do tonight?"

 

Calmly and evenly Jim said, "I think we have some business to take care of this evening.  Why don't we see what you are up to after that."

 

Blair blanched, feeling ridiculous. How could he have forgotten? Jim had made him so relaxed throughout the meal, how could he have actually forgotten. "I'm sorry,” he said quietly, "I can't believe I forgot.  I'm sorry."

 

Jim walked over to him quickly, taking the dish from him and kissing his hand.  "Blair love, there is nothing to be sorry about.  It's not something to look forward to, I am not surprised you forgot.  You didn't do anything wrong by forgetting, okay?  I'm glad you were allowed to focus on the week ahead and enjoy the meal. It was my intent."

 

"Oh." 

 

"Okay.  Why don't we finish these dishes later, come sit down with me and let's talk."

 

"Why do we need to talk?  I know I screwed up and I'm sorry.  I don't want to talk, let's just do it and get it over with," Blair said, following Jim into the living room.

 

"Blair, come sit down with me.  I want to talk about it; I want to make sure you know why you are about to get paddled.  I don't want to just discipline you without it being clear which actions are unacceptable." Settling himself on the couch, Jim reached his arms out for his lover.  "This is a big step for you, I want to make sure you are comfortable with it and understand how it works."

 

"I know, but...” the rest trailed off too quietly for even the Sentinel to hear him.

 

"What did you say, Chief, I didn't hear you?"

 

Blair took a deep breath and let it out quickly, saying, "I'm embarrassed, I'm sorry and I don't want to talk about it, I just want to get this over with it."  He paused for a moment, then taking another deep breath, he added, "Please, Jim."

 

The other man thought for a second and then nodded, "All right, Blair, if that is the way you want it.  We can talk later.  Right now, I want you to go into the second bedroom, take off your jeans and stand in the corner.  I'll be there in a few minutes."

 

Blair looked at him and then nodded once and walked quickly into the other bedroom, just off the living room.

 

Jim walked into the kitchen, grabbing a coke from the refrigerator, he stared out the window, thinking.  This was not the first time he had disciplined his lover, but it was in a way.  The other two times had been out of frustration and fear, the only way he could think of to reach the thick-headed, stubborn, whirlwind...the only attention grabber for the eager mind.

 

Tonight, they were going to enter a new stage; a new height to their relationship built on trust, love and hope.  Consensual, disciplinary relationships worked well, when both men understood the purpose and benefits gleaned from it. He hoped, prayed, that it was the right one for them, that it would make them stronger and happier together.  In his heart, he knew it was right.  He knew that Blair had made the decision on his own and this afternoon seemed confident that it was the right choice.  Still, Jim had fears, hurting someone you loved, having that kind of control over the smaller, weaker man, honed Jim's conscience with the doubts of all men in power.

 

Steeling himself to follow through on the agreed upon routine, he put his coke on the counter and walked into the master bedroom.  Picking up the newly, purchased hairbrush from the dresser he proceeded into the second bedroom.

 

Seeing his lover standing in the corner, the slight tremors passing through his body, head bowed, Jim zoned in on the beating heart. Sitting on the bed, laying the brush beside him, he said, "Blair, come here, please."

 

Jerking his curly head up at the sound of the older man's voice, Blair took a deep breath and turning, schooled his face with a brave smile.  Walking towards Jim, he avoided the brush on the bed, focusing on the man he trusted.

 

Reaching out his hand, Jim said, "Come and stand next to me.  It's okay."

 

"I know, I'm sorry.  I know you aren't going to hurt me."  Stopping to the right of his lover, Blair took a deep breath and said, "I'm ready."

 

Jim simply nodded, gripped him by both arms and gently but firmly drew him across his lap.  Blair didn’t resist, but he didn’t exactly cooperate with the maneuver.  Holding himself stiff and rigid, he braced himself, tightening his buttocks, squirming on Jim’s lap, testing his freedom of movement.

 

Realizing he was a captive audience to this event, Blair folded his arms and rested his head on them on the bed, allowing a small gasp to escape his lips as he felt Jim tug down his boxers.  "Please, Jim, don't take them down."

 

Jim ignored him.  "Blair," he asked, rather harshly, "what are you getting punished for?"  Blair wiggled uncomfortably, whether it was his position or the question, Jim wasn't sure.  Either way there was a struggle, a small sign of resistance showing from the penitent.

 

"Um ... I..." Blair started. 

 

Jim brought his hand down hard on the right cheek.  Satisfied with the red imprint, he asked again, “What are you getting punished for?”

 

Blair shivered, then said, "I’m getting punished for lying to you and for running away with Ben yesterday. For not coming to you with my concerns and fears and for not trusting you and for not believing you when you said that you would look into what was going on with Ben."

 

"That's right, but mainly, you are getting paddled for lying to me about coming to me with your questions, for taking the law into your own hands. You could have been hurt---you endangered Cutler's life, too. You said you would trust me, and you lied.  Lying breeds distrust and without trust, no relationship, no matter how strong, can survive."

 

"I know, I'm sorry." the other man whispered, sniffling a little.

 

"I'm sure you are in your present position, but I'm going to make sure you're going to be a lot more sorry in the next few minutes."  With that statement, Jim picked up the hairbrush from the bed, raising it he quickly and sharply brought it down on Blair's left check, producing a matching set of red imprints.

 

Blair gasped out loud and tried to squirm away from the brush as it landed again and again on his unprotected bottom.  “No!” he voiced his protestations.

 

“Please, Jim.”

 

Jim answered his pleas by pulling him tightly up against his stomach, holding on to his lover as he swatted him repeatedly.

 

"I'm sorry, Jim.  Please, stop!  I'm sorry.  Please!" Blair cried out.

 

Jim watched with a detached fascination as the soft globes changed color. The perfectly white, tender flesh now ripened to a cherry red, hot and angry.  The mounds arched and wiggled as Blair sought some surcease from the assault.

 

Pulling himself back to reality, he was shocked by the fact that the angry flesh brought no compassion, only a more heated rage at the need to punish the one he loved more than life itself.

 

"Lying will not be tolerated at all.  Distrust will not be tolerated at all," was the older man's reply, punctuating each word with a swat.  Increasing the force of the assault as he brought his anger in for a landing. Stopping with the final word, he laid the brush down and slowly rubbed his lover's back.

 

Lying across Jim’s lap for several minutes, Blair tried to gain control over his emotions. The great gasping sobs now eased into a steady murmuring of sorrow.

Finally bringing himself under control, he slowly raised up.  Wiping his eyes, he stood and turned to leave.

 

"No, Blair, wait.  Come here, love," Jim said, grasping his arm and not letting him escape.

 

"No, Jim," Blair said, his voice catching in his throat, "Just let me go, I need to go...  I need to leave...  I need…." he said desperately, trying to tug away from his lover, as his crying increased on the final need.

 

"Blair, Shhhh!” Jim said, standing up and gathering the crying man in his arms. "It's okay.  I really think you should stay here.  There's nothing to be embarrassed about, nothing to be ashamed of, cry, get it out of your system."

 

He stroked the curly head and felt the young man slowly relax against his chest as he muttered nonsense words and sounds, not meant to make conversation, just add an air of comfort.

 

Wordlessly, he led Blair into the living room.  Sitting on the couch, Blair instinctively curled up in his arms, perching on Jim’s lap.

 

Wiggling uncomfortably as his sore bottom made contact with Jim's hard thighs, he gripped Jim's shirt and buried his face, trying to hide the tears that were once again flowing.  "I'm sorry, please forgive me," came the muffled voice heavy with regrets.

 

"Love, it's over.  All is forgiven.  Once you have been punished for something, that's it, it's forgotten and over."

 

Remaining firmly committed by their embrace each man tried to sort through the ramifications of their new arrangement, the responsibilities each had and the trust that needed to be forever evident in their dealings with one another.

 

"Blair," Jim said softly, not wanting to disturb the peace that had fallen over the cabin.  "I think I know that if you put your complete and total trust in me that you will be happy.  I think right now, you are struggling so hard for control over everything---school, teaching, police work, us, your personal life---that you can't possibly get it.  That makes you more frustrated and more determined to do everything and gain control over everything and, in the end, you loose it even more.  Six months, that’s all I’m asking---give up control for six months and see.  Just relax, leave the decisions up to me and trust that I will be there for you."  He paused for a moment, giving the weight of what he had said, time to sink in.  "Can you do that?"

 

Pulling back slightly, locking on the man he loved so much with his soft blue eyes, he nodded solemnly. “I can, Jim, because I do trust you.”

 

 

 

 

The days following were the most relaxing Blair could remember spending with his love.  The easy trust and confidence he had placed in his Blessed Protector only seemed to intensify his feelings of love and devotion. The remaining days eased by with calm dalliance, peaceful and gracious in their timing.

 

Fishing, long walks, lying in the sun by the stream, nothing more than spending time with one another, enjoying each other’s presence.  Now the last day of their week, the overcast sky promised little outdoor activity.

 

Breakfast over with, Blair sat on the swing enjoying the growing turbulence around him. He loved the time before a storm, the building of pressure, the totally overpowering sensation of atmosphere, and the eager rush his own soul built.

 

The wind was picking up, swirling leaves around his feet in angry cyclones.  He wanted to see the stream one last time.  It would be too muddy after a heavy rain and he didn’t relish the muck and goo he would have to trudge through. The stream was the focal point of his commitment to Jim, the rambling friend who convinced him that sometimes you did indeed have to give yourself up to someone to truly discover yourself.

 

“Jim,” he called into the cabin. “I’m going up to the stream. I’ll only be a half hour or so.”

 

“Okay, Chief,” Jim called back as he continued drying the dishes, his concession to Blair for the great blueberry pancakes he had made for breakfast.

 

“Just don’t stay out too long. It looks like a storm’s brewing. Half hour and I want you back here.”

 

“Yeah, Jim, probably less than that.”

 

Blair was off at a good pace. The trail was uphill most ways, and normally an easy walk. However, the strong gusts of wind that periodically pushed through the trees made the climb seem more arduous.

 

Reaching the same rocks he had made his life-altering decision from several days ago, he sat down upon the perch.  Perhaps the spot was Feng-shui, with the position of water or the stars, or whatever Naomi Sandburg preached in her constant desire to re-arrange Jim’s furniture. A soft laugh escaped and he shook his head. Life is indeed interesting if nothing else, he thought.

 

The rain started almost instantaneously. No soft droplets promising the torrential downpour, no simple moisture pocking the air, but a curtain of harsh, skin-prickling rivulets came drumming down upon him. Jumping up immediately, his foot slipped on the now slippery surface of the rock.  The foot pushed down harshly between another boulder wedging itself deeper and angling downward.  Gasping at the pain, he tried to brace himself against another rock, trying to take the pressure off of the foot pinned to the ankle in a crevice.

 

Finding no purchase on the rocks, no easy stance to alleviate the pain in his foot and ankle, he awkwardly balanced himself.  His foot was tightly wedged, but he felt an urgent need to free it before it swelled. Surely some bones were broken, and now would be the best chance to pull free.

 

Grabbing the boulder with both hands, he carefully eased his whole body up, the slippery, wet surface becoming slimy as the rain continued in torrents. His hair plastered his face, and it was difficult to see through the curtain of water that would just not let up.  He raised up on his knees, angled his foot in different positions, seeking the less painful, and with one great effort, biting his lip at the pain, he managed to pull his foot out, minus the shoe.

 

Looking down at his foot, the sock torn and bloody, he thanked God that the shoes were sturdy. It could have been a lot worse. Gingerly placing the foot on the mud-soaked earth, he eased his body weight forward.

 

“Oh God!  Ow…ow…ow…” he cried out as his foot slipped in the mud. A bright burst of lightening blossomed across the sky followed by a loud rumble of thunder that seemed to shake the ground. Blair tried to walk again, easing himself gently forward while leaning against the rocks. His good foot lost purchase and he slid forward into the mud-drenched earth.

 

 

“Damn it,” Jim muttered as the lightening and thunder assaulted his senses.  Positioning himself on the porch he had scanned the surrounding area, listening for signs of Blair.  Surely the damn fool was half way back by now. However, the sensual search proved ineffectual.

 

Grabbing his jacket off of a coat rack just inside the door, he started off up the trail towards the stream.  Running up the path, now slick and thick with black goo---portions of the trail actually had mini streams rushing downward---he struggled several times for footing. 

 

Stopping suddenly, he grabbed his ears. A loud roaring assaulted his sense.  It was a flash flood---remembering the sound from his past experiences, he let out a cry of desperation, "SANDBURG!”

 

 

Sandburg struggled to pull himself up. How did I end up in the stream? he asked himself, realizing that he was in the water now, not alongside it.  Somehow he had failed to notice when the stream became a raging river.  Feeling his body uplifted, he struggled to grab hold of something.  The rocks he had fallen near were no longer there. The harsh, beating rain made everything seem foggy, blending the scenery into one thick fishbowl of murky madness.  He could no longer demarcate branches or roots or rocks...all was raging water swelling around him, angrily demanding his cooperation.

 

The tugging current increased its strength lifting him up. He started moving in quick short excursions of pain, his leg twisting in the water, snagging a rock or stone, his arm banging against a boulder. Desperately reaching around him for anything to delay his eviction from the spot, he was finally able to grab what appeared to be a long vine reaching out from what surely was the bank at one time.  It's a flash flood. I've gotten myself caught up in a flash flood, panic rose up in his thoughts.

 

With eager hope he dared one hand a short flight to his face, brushing away the wet tendrils of soggy hair. Water continued to plaster him with defiance.  He raised his head up to the heavens and in the trust all men place in God and friends, he directed his cry to both, "JIM…Please, let Jim hear me."

 

 

 

 

Ellison heard the cry for help.  With determination bred from love and need, he crashed through the undergrowth, veering off the path, finding leverage and assistance from the thick foliage alongside the weathered trail.

 

Crashing out into the opening, he pulled back, quickly hugging a tree. The complete bank where he and Sandburg had so lazily lain days ago, was no longer...the quiet, gentle stream had changed into a raging river...angry and violent and uncontrollable.

 

"SANDBURG!" He shouted in competition with the drumming sounds of rain and the roaring rage of the river.

 

"SANDBURG! WHERE ARE YOU?"

 

"Jim...Jim, I'm here. Help me!"

 

The quiet sound reached the Sentinel's ears. Focusing in, panning the turbulence before him he saw an arm upraised several yards up river, fighting the rushing waters to stay erect.  There was no way to get to him.  The whitewater crashed violently towards him, reaching out in eager swells to pull him in.

 

There was only one thing to do. No time to go back for a rope, no time to think. If the river didn't sweep him away within the next few minutes, surely he would be pulled under and drowned or battered by the passing foam and the debris that churned in the madness.

 

Pulling a firm, but pliant branch down from the sturdy tree he held onto, he cautiously moved forward into the path of the water.  Immediately he felt the pull of current pushing and heaving him backwards, away from Sandburg.

 

"BLAIR. LISTEN TO ME!  LET GO! I WILL CATCH YOU!"

 

"JIM, I CAN'T. THE CURRENT IS TOO STRONG."

 

"TRUST ME!" He yelled back. There was nothing else to say. It all came down to those two words. The whole week, the whole relationship, the final call would lay in those two words.

 

Blair heard the final command. It was not a request. When Ellison said those words, they were not said in any invitation to a party, ‘trust me and we'll have fun.’ They were given as orders with only one thought intended...DO IT!

 

Blair raised his water-swollen eyes to heaven, sighed deeply, raised his hand in a final gesture, and let go, as his body and soul tumbled towards its only destination---Jim.

 

 

Jim saw the small circle the hand made in the air, the thumb and forefinger forming a small loop. He smiled at the spunk the kid showed. The "gotcha" that was implied was so typically Sandburg...the trust so much a given in their relationship.

 

Then all thought pushed into a clear cool pool inside his head.  The practiced ranger, the detective in charge, the man who commanded situations and was not commanded by them, reached out a large hand and snagged the passing jacket...for that was all that was visible above the raging tide.

 

The soggy anthropologist sputtered and gasped.  "Grab hold of my belt, Chief. Don't let go," Jim yelled above the chaos.

 

"Don't worry, Jim. Getting me to let go might prove a problem later."

 

Jim smiled as he concentrated all his efforts now on pulling the extra weight back out of the force of water.  The large muscled arms crossed hand over hand along the branch in quick rhythm, easing both men up and out of the raging tide.

 

Collapsing on the now solid ground amid the trees, Jim turned and grabbed Blair's arm.  "You can let go now, Chief," he encouraged gently.

 

The bedraggled form laughed, almost hysterically, then threw himself into Jim's arms, burying his face against the broad chest.

 

"I was so scared, Jim. It came out of nowhere."

 

"I know, Chief, that's why they're called flash floods."

 

"Jim, I don't think I can walk. I think I might have broken some bones in my foot. It was wedged between some rocks just before the water swept me away."

 

Jim pushed him gently away, stationing him against a tree.  He pulled the injured foot up onto his lap and tugged off the ragged sock. Blair winced, but said nothing. Jim focused in on his heartbeat and gauged the pain as he fingered the foot and ankle. 

 

“Chief, I don’t feel any broken bones, but I can’t be sure. There are so many small bones it could be undetectable. The foot is pretty badly swollen.”

 

Blair nodded. “I don’t think I can walk on it.”

 

“No problem.”  Jim rose.  He bent and lifted his love to his chest with ease.

 

“I just love the caveman in you, love,” Blair said sheepishly, wrapping an arm around the tall man’s neck.

 

“Well, I’ll expect you to wait on me hand and foot when my back starts realizing I’m not young any more, Chief.”

 

The other merely smiled wanly and laid his head upon his rescuer’s shoulder.

 

He started off cautiously down the slope.   The treasure held snugly in his arms. The rain had eased a bit and the clouds moved off over the mountains with disinterest.  All immediate danger was gone; only the ravages of nature’s forces remained.  The sun would return and the lands would dry and before long the small stream would gurgle along with trusting twigs and lost anthropologists in her wake.

 

THE END

 

We thank you for reading and hope that you have been entertained.

 

 

 

 

1