In the Eye of the Beholder: Videotape

by Francesca

Disclaimer: Nothing's mine but the words; everything else belongs to Pet Fly. No infringement is intended, and I'm not makin' a dime. (Who needs money when you've got love?) (Well, *okay*, but I'm still not making any money!) Please go away if you're under 18!

Notes: "Videotape" is the first in the "In The Eye of The Beholder" series. I'll be adding to these as the muse strikes.

Jim Ellison sat on the floor in front of the television and frowned as he watched the shaky tape of himself.

"Sentinel Project, December 4th-" he heard Blair Sandburg say, then watched himself turn angrily toward the camera.

"What the hell are you doing?" he yelled at the unseen Blair.

"I told you," Blair's voice said, off camera. "I want to document your ability to — "

"Turn it off," he heard himself say, watched as the camera faltered, showing his arm, a blurry shot of his angry face, his shoulder.

"Come on, Jim!" Blair's voice whined, and then there was a shot of the ground — the sky — the ground.

"Cut it out, Sandburg!" he heard himself say. "I'm trying to — "

And then there was just the buzz of gray, fuzzy static; the tape not having caught his explanation of what he was trying to do. Work, he supposed glumly. *I'm trying to work.* Sounded like him, like something he'd say. *I'm trying to work here,* he had probably said. He couldn't remember. It seemed like so long ago. All work and no play makes Jim —

" — with this thing on," said Blair's voice, and Jim's head shot up. He stared at the screen, which had again resolved itself into a picture.

And what a picture: Jim's mouth fell open, and he leaned instinctively forward. It was Blair. Younger. Thinner. Short-haired.


Sitting between the legs of some guy, back pressed against the other man's chest, the two of them leaning against — what was that? A wall? A...headboard?

Blair laughed, and a dark curl fell across his forehead as he tried to squirm away.

The other man had a firm grip on Blair's biceps, was holding him in place. He was laughing too. "Relax, okay? I'm telling you, you need this. You need to see — "

"I don't," said Blair, flushing, and Jim saw that he was trying not to look at the camera. "I don't, I believe you," he said, twisting his head around to look at the man behind him. "So why don't we just turn that off, okay?" he said, and the layers of sexual suggestion in Blair's voice made Jim gasp.

The other man reached around gently and, taking Blair's chin in his hand, turned Blair's face back toward the camera. Blair laughed nervously, blushed furiously, and averted his eyes. Jim clenched his fists as the man wrapped his arms around Blair affectionately, then leaned forward and rested his head atop Blair's shoulder, pressing their cheeks together. "You need this," the man murmured gently. "You need to see how beautiful you are."

"John, stop it," said Blair softly, sounding embarrassed.

"You should see yourself," said John. "You still think of yourself as a science nerd. You need to see yourself as you are." Jim jumped as John raised one arm and pointed straight at the camera, straight at him. "Say hello, Blair."

Blair laughed shyly, glanced quickly up at the camera, looked down again. "Say hello to who?" he asked.

"To yourself — this tape is for you," replied John.

Blair laughed more heartily at this, and looked straight into the camera lens. "Blair, turn the tape off," he told himself firmly. "Go have a sandwich or something. Don't you have work to do?" Behind him, John was laughing. "Blair, you're not listening to me," said Blair, wagging a finger at the screen. "If you sit around watching pornographic tapes of yourself you are never going to get into graduate school. And you'll never get out of therapy," he added, wryly.

"Stop it," said John, grabbing Blair's wagging finger with a smile. "You're ruining the mood."

"You told me to talk to myself," objected Blair, grinning. "So this is how I talk to myself. Right?" he asked the camera, playfully, and then he nodded, and turned his head to look at John.. "See? He agrees with me. I know him so well."

"All right, all right, scratch that," said John. "You're not talking to yourself any more."

"I'm not?" teased Blair. "Where did I go?"

"You're off writing something brilliant," John answered.

"I am?" asked Blair.

"Absolutely. Yes," replied John.

Blair's face lit up in a smile. He looked again at the camera. "Way to go, man!" he said to himself, raising a fist in triumph.

"Let's try something else," said John huskily.

But Blair was still talking to himself. "But listen," he said to the camera, amusement coloring his voice, "*don't* forget to write to Naomi, and *don't* forget about that hundred bucks in the back of your wallet, and *don't* — "

John cut him off by taking Blair's face in his hands and pulling him in to a deep, searing kiss. Blair seemed to melt into the other man's larger body, the muscles along his lithe frame relaxing as he gave himself over to the kiss.

Watching, Jim felt strangled, felt a hand tightly clutching his throat, felt (but ignored) a twitch in his cock. He reached forward with his arm, finger already extended toward the STOP button, but then he froze, arm suspended in the air, as the two men broke apart.

"You're gone," murmured John, nuzzling the side of Blair's face with his lips.

"Oh?" breathed Blair, eyes closed. "So who's watching?" he asked, blindly seeking out John's lips again for a gentle kiss.

"Your lover," John replied softly, and Blair opened his eyes.

"Who's that?" Blair asked.

"Who do you want it to be?" asked John.

"I don't know," Blair said meditatively, leaning his head against John's neck. "I'm not sure I know what I want. I'm not even sure that I believe that there's one single person who...I mean, Naomi says — "

"He's watching," said John softly, hypnotically. "He's watching this, watching you. He thinks you're beautiful."

"He needs to get out more," snorted Blair quietly.

"He wants you," John continued, spinning the fantasy in a low, ragged voice. "He loves you. He wants you. Show him how beautiful you are." John's hands slowly caressed Blair's chest, slid down to his abdomen, slid back up to tease his nipples. Blair inhaled deeply, and his cock began to fill and harden as John's hands aroused him. Watching, Jim felt his mouth go dry.

"Who is he?" Blair whispered.

"He's everything you want," John whispered back. "Everything you won't admit you want. Everything you think you won't get. Everything you've convinced yourself not to expect."

"Stop it," whispered Blair, sinking deeper into arousal, sinking deeper into John's arms.

"Everything you're convinced you don't deserve," John continued rhythmically, his voice a low thrum. "Everything you think is impossible and unrealistic. Everything you've told yourself not to hope for. Everything that science nerds don't get."

"Stop," whispered Blair, but his nipples were taut and straining, and his cock was erect and wet and glistening. He closed his eyes, tried to twist his head away from the camera, tried to bury his face in John's shoulder.

"Show him how beautiful you are," murmured John, sliding his hands down Blair's torso again, letting his palms rest on Blair's thighs. "Show him how beautiful your body is." John gripped Blair's thighs with long fingers, kneading them, massaging the twitching muscles. "Show him how beautiful your cock is," he said, gently pulling Blair's thighs further apart so that Blair's erection stood out in sharp relief.

Jim moaned softly at the same time that Blair moaned on the tape. And then Blair stretched out slightly — leaned back a bit, slid forward a bit, arched up a bit — exposing, displaying, posing — settling into John's arms, his legs held wide apart by the splayed palms of John's hands.

Jim bent forward again, bringing his extended finger closer still to the STOP button, but again he didn't push it.

John moved his right hand and curled it around Blair's erection loosely, then began to stroke him gently. "Say hello, Blair," he whispered. "Hello," Blair murmured, not opening his eyes, not looking at the camera.

John tightened his grip on Blair's erection, stroked harder, and Blair cried out in pleasure, and thrust up into John's hand. John masturbated him obligingly, until Blair's face was contorted with pleasure and his hips were frantically rocking to the rhythm of John's strokes — and then John stopped suddenly, stilling Blair's cock by clenching his fist around it tightly. Blair let out a cry of frustration, desperation.

"To the camera," John murmured quickly into Blair's ear. "'Hello.'"

Blair's eyes flew open, and he turned his face to the camera. "Hello," he whispered intently to Jim, and Jim gasped and grabbed his cock hard through his pants.

"'Hello, lover,'" John prompted quietly, and then he raised his free hand to his mouth and wet his index finger and lowered it slowly between Blair's legs — and Jim squeezed his eyes shut suddenly, unable to watch any more, experiencing lust so intense it felt like pain.

"Hello, lover," he heard Blair say, and then he heard ragged cries of passion, and they were coming from Blair, and they were coming from him, and they were both sobbing together, separated by time, separated by distance — and Jim fumbled with his fly and grabbed himself and began to masturbate furiously to the sound of Blair's moans, his own moans, they were twined together, now — inseparable — and he couldn't help it, he was helpless to stop now.

And underneath the layers of moans he heard John whispering again, and when Blair cried out, "Come for me. Come for me, lover! Come for me!" the world blazed red behind his closed eyelids and then he did come, spurting jerkily into the cupped palm of his hand.

And Jim could hear that Blair was coming, too, and he had seen enough to be able to imagine what that would look like, what Blair would look like, convulsed in passion, a hand fisted around his cock, a finger deep within his ass — and the image was imprinted on his brain, and Blair's soft screams were echoing in his ears — and he flailed out toward the VCR with his free hand, wanting it to stop — and then it did stop, cutting Blair's cries off, abruptly, and Jim heard the machine whirr and spit out the tape.

And then there was only the sound of his own ragged breathing, and finally he managed to open his eyes, and the TV screen glowed bright blue, and the black plastic casing of the videotape peeked out from the slot of the VCR, looking usual and normal, and the loft around it looked usual and normal — the green walls, the sofa, the coffee table, the kitchen — and Jim felt that he had been hallucinating, that he had fallen into and out of some weird, erotic dream — except that his hand was wet with semen, except for the strange, hitching sound of his own breathing.

Leaving his fly open he stumbled to his feet, stumbled to the bathroom — and he had just enough presence of mind to kick his shoes off before stepping into the shower fully clothed and turning the cold water on, full-blast.

He sighed and leaned against the white-tiled wall, thinking that the cold water felt good, enjoying the stinging feel of it as it soaked his hair, his shirt, his jeans, making them heavy. He shivered and turned his face into the spray, holding it there as long as he could — until he finally couldn't take it any longer, and he reached out and turned the water off.

And now he had tasks, he had work to do: he had to get out of his heavy, wet clothes, and dry himself off, and find other, warm, clothes, and get himself dressed, and hang the towels and the wet clothes up to dry across the shower curtain rod — and he tried to lose himself in the practical details of these tasks, tried not to think about Blair, to wonder who John was, to wonder whether Blair had ever actually watched the tape, to wonder whether it meant anything that Blair had planned to record over it with Sentinel research.

And after Jim had gotten dressed and straightened up the bathroom he decided to tidy up the living room and kitchen as well, and at some point he casually pulled the black cassette tape from the mouth of the VCR and slid it into its box, and put it back neatly atop the pile of cassettes, as if it were just any old movie, or just a recording of last week's game, and by the time he heard Blair's key in the lock the place was looking good, and he was feeling pretty usual, pretty normal —

— except that the first glimpse of Blair knocked him sideways, and he felt sudden, throbbing pain behind his eyes, and he closed them and sat down hard on a kitchen chair and raised his hands to his head —

— and Blair gasped, "Jim!" and he heard the thud of Blair's backpack hitting the floor and then he could smell Blair, Blair was bending over him, Blair was touching his face and whispering, "Should I get a doctor? Should I get a doctor? Oh, god! — Jim, talk to me!"

Jim opened his eyes and they felt vaguely wet, and he blinked twice, quickly, and said, "I'm sorry, Blair. I'm sorry."

"For what?!" Blair asked hysterically, and his eyes were frightened and confused and Jim could see that Blair thought he was having a heart attack, or an aneurysm, or a seizure, and he was about to call for an ambulance.

But there was no answer to Blair's question, or there were too many answers to Blair's question, and his head felt like it was splitting apart, and he couldn't say anything more. And Blair's heart was pounding, and he turned quickly and ran for the telephone, and Jim heard the soft beeps of 9-1-1 and somehow the noise propelled him out of his chair, and as he pulled the phone from Blair's hand and turned it off and set it down he suddenly knew what he was sorry for — he was being sorry in advance, sorry for what he was about to do, sorry for ruining their friendship — but it was done now, he had done it already, he had opened Pandora's box and he couldn't help it, he was helpless to stop now.

He grabbed Blair's shoulders and pushed him hard against the wall and kissed him — kissed him like he was about to have a heart attack or an aneurysm or a seizure, like these were his last five minutes on earth — and some part of him wished these were his last five minutes, because then he wouldn't have to be around to watch his life fall apart, and because he couldn't imagine a better last five minutes than these, drowning in the lush wet softness of Blair Sandburg's generous mouth.

And then Blair shoved him hard, backwards, and if anything Blair looked even more frightened and more confused as he sputtered, wide-eyed, "What the fuck??"

But there was no answer to that question either, and so Jim just took a few steps backwards and said, again, softly, "I'm sorry," which at least seemed to make a little more sense this time round.

Blair was leaning against the wall, hyperventilating — looking, for the first time since Jim had known him, utterly and completely at a loss for words. Finally he managed to say, weakly, "Jim, are you crazy or am I crazy?"

"Oh, me, definitely," said Jim instantly, and then he laughed, and Blair looked over at him and laughed too.

"Okay," said Blair, and he was twitching, trembling. He took a shaky step away from the wall, reached up and pushed his hair away from his face with a nervous hand. "Would it, uh, help at all if I left and came back in again?"

"Would it help you?" Jim asked sincerely.

Blair blinked. "Actually, no, I don't think so," he admitted. He fidgeted with his clothes, and then took a few tentative steps forward. "Are you, uh," said Blair, and then he swallowed hard. "Am I to understand that, uh — I mean, are you telling me that, uh, — "

"I want you?" asked Jim thickly. "Yes."

"Okay, yeah, that's what I thought you were saying," said Blair quickly.

"But I'll control it," added Jim, quickly. "After this, I mean. From now on. I'm sorry about this. I didn't mean for it to — I tried to clean the loft," he said, waving his hand vaguely around the room, "but it didn't work." He knew that the explanation was strange even as the words left his mouth.

"Jim, shush!" said Blair, moving dazedly to the sofa and sitting down hard.

"Please don't be mad," pleaded Jim. "I mean, you have every right to be mad, but please — "

"Jim, shush!" said Blair again, and he closed his eyes and raised his hands to his head, unconsciously mirroring Jim's pose of a few minutes earlier.

Finally Blair dropped his hands and opened his eyes and said, "Okay."

"Okay, what?" asked Jim.

"Okay if you want me," replied Blair, nervously. "If you want me — okay."

Jim stared at him in disbelief, and Blair quickly stood up.

"I mean, if that's what you want," Blair added, backing away from him. "I mean, you said — "

"Yeah. Yeah. I do. I said," said Jim quickly.

Blair exhaled, seemed relieved to hear this. "So okay," he said, and Jim crossed the room and stood in front of him and held Blair gently by his upper arms. "I mean, I'm scared and all," Blair said anxiously, looking up at him. "I have to tell you that I'm not sure I believe that there's one single person who — " and Jim bent his head and kissed him, and felt Blair's mouth open under his and it felt right to be this close to Blair, it felt right that they were joined like this, and he felt Blair raise his arms to encircle his back and hold him close —

— and he felt suddenly, for the first time, that maybe he really was the one, that maybe he — maybe he! — could be everything Blair wanted, everything Blair thought he'd never get.

And when they broke apart he took Blair's face between his hands and said, hoarsely, "I think you're beautiful."

And Blair looked up at him, his features reflecting the purest astonishment, and whispered, softly, "Hello, lover."

The End