Wrapped in Silence



The club was packed, if the number of people spilling down the stairway and gathering out in front was any indication, and parking was non-existent. Jim didn't even hesitate when he pulled his truck into the tow-away zone in front. This was police business and he was in a hurry. Simon had called him at home earlier and needed him to come down and look at a weapons bust in the cannery district, and he wanted Sandburg there to help him filter out the overpowering smells and noises from the canneries. Sandburg had said he and his friends were headed to this club, but if he wasn't here, Jim would just have to leave without him and try to handle it on his own.

He'd already tried Sandburg's cell phone, but, whether it was turned off or, more likely, couldn't be heard over the noise of the music inside, he hadn't answered. Even outside the concrete structure of the club people had to shout to be heard and Jim took the precaution of dialing his hearing down so that music sounded like the dull roar of water cascading over a waterfall. Still loud but not painfully so. He put the police strobe on the dash and activated it, smiling slightly as the patrons outside Club Doom began to scatter in the face of visible police presence. This time his truck was not going to be towed before he got back.

He had the same effect as a police strobe as he walked across the parking lot and up the stairs; people melted away from him, anxious to avoid contact. He smelled fear, anger, a broad cross-section of illegal drugs, alcohol, sweat, stale sex, cigarettes, perfumes and after shaves, the heavy musk of pheromones and arousal; the basic miasma of club smells to a sentinel. At the top of the stairs he bared his teeth into a semblance of a smile and flashed his police ID at the bouncer, who reluctantly stepped aside. Jim saw the bouncer's hand flick to a small switch by the door and made a note to find out -- at some later date -- why he was alerting someone inside to police presence.

He moved inside the door and stood on the balcony, looking down at the main floor of the club. The cigarette smoke was thick and noxious and the club stank as though the air had been trapped inside for months. Even with his senses dialed down, the blast of flashing lights, noises, smoke and smells nearly overwhelmed him and he doubted that he would be able to see Blair in the mess.

He stopped consciously trying to find Blair and let his senses free, without trying to control them. It might have been the combination of all five senses or some special sixth sense, attuned only to Blair, but Jim knew he could find him faster this way. He let his eyes slowly close and his senses pulled him inexorably in one direction. Seconds later, he had his answer. On the northwest side of the building, downstairs, about twenty feet from the wall. He turned his head that direction, opened his eyes and looked directly at Blair.

He was dressed in ripped jeans and a loose, dark red cotton button-up shirt. He was talking in a highly animated way, even for Blair, to a man and woman who stood very close, pushed almost up against him by the tightly-packed crowd. The woman looked slightly familiar, probably someone from Rainier, but Jim did not recognize the man and his sleek, predatory dark good looks set off alarm bells in Jim's mind. Jim watched them talk and watched Blair's waving hands and his bright eyes and expressive face and realized that Blair was more than half-drunk. Jim had seen Blair drunk only a few times, but Blair did drunk the way he did everything else -- with a great deal of noisy, hand-waving enthusiasm.

The heavy bass thump started again and the audience moved, almost as one entity, with the swell of music. Jim watched as Blair threw back his head and laughed as his body moved in sync with the music and the crowd. The tall woman next to him exchanged a glance with her male escort. He nodded and reached out for Blair, one hand grasping the front of his shirt and the other skating across his shoulder to entwine in Blair's loose hair. The man made a fist and pulled and Blair let him, his head falling even further backward, exposing his throat. Jim sucked in a deep breath and stepped forward, grabbing the metal railing at the balcony's edge

The woman touched Blair's throat lightly, her hand sliding up his neck to the side of his face. His body opened to her, willing. She leaned down and kissed him, hard and possessive, as her male companion tightened his hand in Blair's hair and set his teeth into the junction of Blair's shoulder and neck. Blair shuddered under the combined caresses.

For Jim, the sound in the club abruptly ceased as his hearing, smell and tactile senses went suddenly off-line. In the silence he could still feel the vibration of the music in his body, the bass rattling his frame to the bone, but there was no sound, no scent, and the feel of the blood-warm metal railing beneath his hand vanished. His eyesight sharpened and then narrowed in focus, as though looking into a telescope. He saw only Blair as he responded to the hands and lips touching him, arching up briefly into the caresses before pulling away unsteadily, out of reach of the two sets of hands that held him. He was laughing, his skin flushed with desire and his eyes shining, but he was shaking his head in the negative and holding his hands up to keep them away. The man looked inclined to pursue, but his female companion caught his arm and shook her head

Still Jim was trapped in his own silence, with only the visual image of Blair to guide him. Jim had known, in the abstract, that Blair had lovers. Once, early in their partnership, Jim had come home to find Blair and a female companion on the sofa together, and it made Jim invent new house rules to keep it from happening in front of him again. After that, Blair had always been very careful to keep the physical evidence of his love life outside the loft. But to know that it happened, to smell the evidence when Blair got home after a late night date was one thing. To see others touch Blair -- his Blair -- like this was another. He took a deep breath and looked down at the metal railing under his hands.

He closed his eyes and immediately the image of Blair, his body moving underneath hands that held him, filled his mind. But in this image the hands holding him did not belong to the man and woman on the dance floor, they belonged to-- Jim's eyes snapped open to find Blair almost at his side, walking across the balcony, his hands spread wide; an offering, invitation and command all at once.

"Jim," he heard Blair whisper, and he felt his muted senses snap back to full ON and it was too much, too much.

He shuddered under the sensory impact and then Blair's hands were on him, holding him firmly, just the way hands had been holding Blair in his vision. "Blair," he started, then faltered, unsure of what to say.

Blair smiled and his hands tightened. "Let's get you out of here, Jim," he said, leading him out the door and into the cooler, cleaner night air.

After the noise levels inside the club Jim felt as though he was wrapped in silence once again, bereft of the normal sounds of the night. But he was not alone in this silence, not with those two warm hands touching him, holding him firmly anchored.

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