I reiterate: this story is intense, graphic, violent, and it contains bad language. If you are under 18 or likely to be upset by this, please go back now.

This is an AU, mostly because I wrote this before the "Spare Parts" episode. Since no family had been established for Blair at that time, I gave him one. They're not Naomi, but they're all mine.

written September, 1996

The Devil You Know


Susan L. Williams

The ogres were pounding at the castle gates, trying to smash them in. Blue wizard's robes streaming behind him in the wind, he watched from the battlements, fingering the bones and feathers that hung from his belt, muttering spells to strengthen the gates. They would not be enough, he knew. Soon, the ogres would break through to slaughter the guards and take the castle, and there was nothing he could do. A panther stalked the battlements beside him, eyes shining gold in the torchlight. The Ogre-King looked up at him, and laughed.

"Open up, Sandburg! Come on, Sandburg, open the door!"

Blair's eyes snapped open. Heart racing, he stared around him for a moment, seeing the familiar furnishings of the loft in place of the besieged castle of his dream. A dream, that's all it was. He'd fallen asleep on the couch. But the pounding was still going on. What was--oh, right, the door.

"Sandburg, open up!"

Blair pushed himself off the couch. Papers fell from his lap, scattering across the floor. Great. The essays he'd been grading. No wonder he'd fallen asleep. Most of them weren't worth reading. At least half of them seemed to be written by people who didn't speak English. And he had to get them done tonight. If he didn't, he'd be doing this tomorrow night, too, instead of asking Mirelle to go to that new French art film with him. Rubbing bleary eyes, Blair stumbled toward the door.

"Who is it?"

"Who do you think it is? Open the door!"

Oops. It was Jim, sounding a little irritated. He must have put the chain on the door and forgotten it. Again. Blair reached up to take the chain off: it wasn't on. So what was the problem? Shrugging, Blair fumbled with the lock, and finally got the door open.

"Sorry, Jim. I was asleep."

Jim shoved past him without speaking. His elbow caught Blair in the ribs, knocking him back into the door.

"Ow! Hey, take it easy, man. I said I was sorry."

Ellison didn't answer. Blair closed the door, and turned to find Jim surveying the area around the couch. Uh-oh. If he worked fast, maybe he could forestall the lecture. With the mood Jim was in, if he didn't, he'd be hearing about every little thing he'd ever done, from leaving the cap off the toothpaste to using the last of the milk.

"Sorry about the mess." Blair edged past his partner and went to his knees, grabbing up papers. Jim watched without moving or offering to help. Fine. Be that way, Tough Guy. "Howcome you didn't use your key?"

"I lost it."

"You lost it?" Blair sat back on his heels, laughing. "You, Mr. 'Don't forget your key, Chief'? You lost it?"

Jim didn't laugh. Jim just glared at him, his blue eyes cold. Blair's grin vanished.

"Hey, no big deal. We'll get a copy made tomorrow."

"No, we won't. I'll use yours."

"Mine? What am I supposed to do?"

"Move out."

Jim didn't even crack a smile. Blair snorted. "Right. Big joke."

"It's no joke, Sandburg. I want you out of here. Now."

Blair couldn't feel the papers in his hands. Memory flashed through his head: his father, every gray hair in place, cashmere sweater buttoned over his white shirt and precisely knotted tie, his voice cold--never hot--with anger. "If you insist on wasting your time and intelligence with this Sentinel nonsense, you are no longer welcome in my house. Nor will I support you in any way." He looked into Jim's eyes, trying to find some hint--anything--that his friend was kidding. There was nothing.

"You're serious."

"Believe it, Chief."


"Why?" Ellison grabbed a fistful of Blair's jersey and jerked him to his feet. "Because I'm sick of being studied and examined like some lab rat. I'm sick of performing tricks so you can get ahead. I'm sick of your dissertation, and I'm sick of you!"

On the last word, Jim pushed him away. Blair staggered back, lost his balance, and fell. Papers flew through the air, fluttering down to the floor. Jim stood over him for a minute, looking at him as if he were some kind of disgusting insect, then turned away.

Blair climbed to his feet. Something was really wrong here. Jim had never lost control like this before. Sure, when they first met, Jim had shoved him up against a few walls, but he'd been in a state of near-panic then, not knowing what was happening with his senses. He'd gotten over that a long time ago, with Blair's help.

Jim had his back to him. Blair hesitated, afraid of provoking more violence. No, that was ridiculous. Jim was his friend, Jim would never hurt him. Not on purpose. He reached out to touch the bigger man's arm.

"Jim? Come on, man, we can talk about this, can't we? I had no idea you--"

Ellison's fist smashed into Blair's face. Hurled backwards, he collided with the coffee table, and fell over it. The corner of the table gouged his back, and he slammed onto the floor, the breath knocked out of him. Jim bent over and pulled him up, and he couldn't breathe, couldn't move to defend himself. Ellison backhanded him, then punched him in the stomach and the ribs, keeping him on his feet. His fist cracked twice more across Blair's face. Blair tasted blood, and felt it running down his chin. His mind whirled in confusion. This wasn't Jim. Jim wouldn't do this to him. Jim wouldn't hurt him. But the face above him was Jim's face, and the eyes were Jim's eyes.

Jim let him go, but his legs wouldn't hold him and he dropped to the floor. He raised his arms, trying to shield himself, but Jim slapped them down and hit him again, kept hitting him until he stopped moving.

Blair hoped--prayed--that Ellison was done, that he'd leave him alone now until he could crawl away. But a sudden smile stretched Jim's lips, and a light shone cold in his eyes, a light Blair had never seen before. Terror knotted his stomach. He tried to get up, but Jim pushed him back down.

"Your heartbeat's real fast, Chief," Jim said softly. "You scared? Or excited?"

Blair didn't understand. He didn't understand any of this nightmare, he just wanted it to stop. A nightmare, that was it. He was still dreaming. In a minute, he'd wake up, and none of this would have happened, none of it would be real.

Jim unzipped his jeans. "I'm excited."

Oh God. Oh, God, no, this couldn't be happening. This had to be a dream. Jim reached for him. Blair tried to fight him off, but Jim was so much bigger, so much stronger--Ellison flipped him onto his stomach, wrenched his arms behind his back and held them there. Blair struggled to free his hands, but Jim crushed his wrists, pulling his arms up until he cried out. Jim reached under him to rip his jeans open. One-handed, he worked Blair's jeans and shorts off, then yanked his legs apart and knelt between them.

"No!" Blair gasped. "Jim, you don't want to do this!"

"Sure I do, Chief. I've wanted to do this for a long time."

"No, man, please! Please, don't--"

A pain worse than anything he'd ever known tore through his body. Blair tried not to scream, but he couldn't stop the sound that ripped his throat. Jim forced his cock into Blair's ass, alternating hard thrusts with unrelenting pressure, working it deeper and deeper until Blair thought he'd be torn apart. Someone was moaning, and whimpering--he couldn't tell who it was. He knew only the pain, and the huge, stone-hard cock that impaled him. Slowly, almost gently, Jim began to rock back and forth, withdrawing a few inches, then sliding in again. Each time he moved, pain stabbed Blair's ribs. He could hardly breathe.

"God! Jim, stop!"

Ellison chuckled, whispering in his ear. "I'm just getting started, Chief. Come on, now, don't you want to help me use all my Sentinel abilities? This is the best one, and I've been saving it just for you."

Jim continued the motion just long enough for the pain to become bearable. Blair's muscles involuntarily relaxed a tiny fraction, but even that slight change was enough for Jim to feel. He began a series of hard thrusts, ramming his cock home until Blair cried out with the pain. Jim changed to the rocking again, then back to the pounding thrusts, slamming into him so hard that Blair could hear Jim's thighs hitting his ass. He prayed for it to stop, or that he'd pass out, but there was no mercy. It went on and on, and he was conscious for all of it.

Jim wrenched his legs wider apart. Still trapping Blair's wrists with one hand, Jim tangled the other in his hair. Ellison thrust still deeper, driving into him again and again. Blair moaned in agony, and Jim pumped harder and faster, panting. The image of a panther came to Blair's mind, and he tried to focus on it, but the pain drove everything else away. Jim jerked his head back, thrusting so hard that Blair would have screamed if he could. Semen shot into him. Jim groaned in satisfaction, pumping until he was drained, then relaxed, settling his full weight on top of Blair's body. Crushed by the bigger man, Blair fought to breathe. Pain knifed his side, and he nearly passed out, but Jim must have sensed it. Releasing his hold on Blair's hair and wrists, Ellison raised himself up on his elbows, taking most of his weight off Blair. He waited a minute, then slowly withdrew his cock. One hand caressed Blair's ass.

"Guess you don't have to leave after all, Chief."

Blair heard Jim get up, heard him zipping his jeans.

"I'll be back in a little while. I expect you to be waiting."

He heard footsteps, heard the door open and close. He was alone. It was over.

Blair lay on the floor, unable to think or move. Pain forced awareness on him, pain and the memory of Jim's last words. He was coming back. He was coming back, and when he did, it would all happen again, and Blair knew he couldn't take it. He had to move, he had to get out.

Blair worked his aching arms up to his shoulders, and tried to lever himself up. God, everything hurt. Breathing hurt. But he couldn't stay here. The ogre was gone, but he'd be back and-- No, dammit, that was the dream. This was real, and he had to get out of here. Arms shaking, he pushed himself up, slowly got his knees under him, sweating with the effort. He grabbed the couch, and had to rest for a minute before he could gather the strength to pull himself to his feet. Something wet ran down his legs, but he didn't look, he didn't want to know. He saw his black jeans, crumpled on the floor. Oh, shit, he couldn't--he had to. He tottered a few steps, bent over, and nearly fainted, would have if he hadn't lunged back to the couch and sat there with his head down, but he'd snagged the jeans, and when the blackness went away, he pulled them on. Shoes. He had shoes, somewhere. He'd kicked them off while he was reading essays. There was one, under some papers; the other one, halfway under the couch. He managed to get them on, but couldn't tie the laces, his hands were shaking too much and bending over took his breath away, threatening blackness. He couldn't let that happen. He couldn't be here, helpless, when the ogre--Dammit, Sandburg, get your brain in gear!--when Jim came back.

Blair got up, stood swaying, praying that he wouldn't fall over. He moved toward the door, stepping on papers. Damn, the essays! He wasn't done yet, he should... Jim'd be mad if he left a mess,he... Had to get out. Just get out. Leave the papers, leave his stuff, just go, before--before--God, Jim, why'd you--No. Don't think. Just get out. Just--get--out.

Blair reached for his leather jacket, grabbed his side when pain stabbed. There was blood on his hand; he didn't know where it had come from. He couldn't think about it. Couldn't. Not now. Put his jacket on, grabbed his keys from the table--car keys only, his key to the loft was gone.

"I'll use yours."

No. Not now. Not now. Opened the door, holding his breath, afraid to see-- No one on the other side. No one. Slipped out, closed the door, made his way down the hall, leaning on the wall, listening. Stupid, stupid, Jim would hear him long before he ever-- Down the stairs, outside. No one in the parking lot, except some guy he'd never seen before, grinning at him. The Corvair, waiting. Hands shook trying to get the key in the lock--Dammit, get in, please--opened the door, fell in, pulled the door shut--God, it hurt!--locked it, concentrated on guiding the key to the ignition. Start, please, God--the engine turned over--thank God, thank God. Shifted into drive, drove out of the parking lot, turned onto the street, no sign of the truck. Just let him get away, please. Please.

The campus parking lot was deserted, but Blair had expected that. Hoped for it. He parked the Corvair as close to the building as he could, and eased out of the car, trying not to jar anything. His ribs protested, and he clutched his side, feeling the bandages through his jersey. He'd been at the hospital for hours, half of them spent waiting for a doctor to see him. A dozen times, he'd been ready to bolt, when he thought about having to tell them what had happened. He'd tried finally, but his body'd had other ideas and he hadn't gotten ten feet before he collapsed. That had brought a nurse running, and then the harried doctor, a pushy guy who couldn't mind his own business. They'd cleaned him up, x-rayed him--nothing broken, but two ribs cracked--wound bandages around his ribs with the idea of squeezing the air from his lungs (until he complained), and taken a few stitches. He hadn't felt the needle, they'd given him a local, and he'd just lain there with his head in his arms, trying not to think about what the doctor was doing. He remembered that. He remembered glimpsing himself in the surface of a metal tray, seeing the bruises around his left eye, spreading from temple to jaw, the lump on the other side of his jaw, the split lip--he'd shoved the tray away then, spilling instruments on the floor, but the nurse hadn't said anything when she came in, just asked if he was okay. He didn't remember answering. He didn't remember anything he'd said, or anything they'd asked, except when they'd wanted his phone number, and he'd started to give the number at the loft, and almost lost it right there. Over a phone number. He'd tried to come up with a believable story, but he couldn't remember if he'd stuck to it, or even what it was, now. He only knew that he couldn't tell them the truth, that it was Jim who'd--who'd beaten the shit out of him.

A sliver of sun showed on the horizon. Blair opened the door, and stopped. The corridor was dark, emergency lights the only illumination. It was enough to see his way, but no more.

"Everything all right, Mr. Sandburg?"

Security guards. Their patrol car was loud in the dawn quiet. Blair didn't turn around, just waved, swearing at the pain the movement caused. The car drove away, and Blair stepped inside. At least they hadn't asked what he was doing here so early. He started down the corridor, telling himself that it was stupid to be afraid. There was no one else here. No one was going to jump him out of the darkness.

By the time he reached his office door, he was sweating. The key was slippery in his hand, but he managed to get the door open and slip inside, closed it again and locked it, then checked it to make sure. He didn't bother to turn a light on. It was dim, but he knew where all the stuff was piled, and sunlight was beginning to seep through the window. He sat down carefully, settling himself as comfortably as possible. Something rattled in his pocket, and he pulled out a bottle of painkillers they'd given him at the hospital. They'd wanted him to stay--Hell, the doctor had practically ordered him to check in--but he'd refused. He couldn't stand the thought of lying there pumped full of drugs, helpless. He hadn't let them knock him out, or give him anything but the local. He hadn't taken any of these yet, because he couldn't drive while he was on this stuff. But now, maybe he could. Just one, to dull the pain and let him sleep a little. He was safe, here.

His spells were useless. He had used the best he had, but they had not stopped the ogres, and now they were inside, killing, destroying all that was good. He tried to run, but the King of the ogres trapped him in a corner, and he had no spells left, no weapons at all. The King-Ogre laughed, raising his sword, and he shrank back, knowing he would die, waiting for the pain.

"Sandburg, wake up!"

Blair shuddered awake, unsure of where he was. His office? What was he doing here? Light poured through the window; he squinted, lifting a hand to shield his eyes. Bruises circled his wrist. He stared at them, memory of how they had gotten there hitting him as hard as Jim's fists. For a moment, he couldn't breathe.

"Come on, Blair, I know you're awake. Open up."

Jim. God. Blair's eyes darted to the door. He'd locked it, hadn't he? "What do you want?"

"What do I--? I want to know what the hell last night was all about, that's what I want."

Blair's heart thudded in his chest. God, Jim would be able to hear it in the next county. He had to make this convincing. "Get out of here!" He picked up the phone. "Get out, or I'll call security."


"Get out, dammit! Leave me alone!"

There was silence for a minute. Then, "Blair, I found blood in the loft. What happened? Come on, kid, talk to me."

Blair gave a half laugh, shaking his head. "I don't believe this. I don't believe it! You--" His hands began to shake. He put the phone down, and moved toward the door, but didn't touch it. "Look, man, just--just leave me alone, okay? Please."


"Please! God, what do you want from me, man? I'm begging you! Leave me alone!"

Another pause. "Okay. Okay, Chief, I'm going. But we're going to talk later."

Footsteps, moving away. Blair pressed his ear to the door, listening as they faded. He wasn't stupid. He knew Jim could sneak back if he wanted to, and he'd never hear a thing until the door was kicked in. But he had to believe that wouldn't happen. He had to believe Jim wouldn't attack him here, where there might be witnesses. Jim couldn't be that crazy. Still, he stayed motionless for ten minutes, straining to hear any sound over the pounding of his heart. At last, he pushed away from the door and grabbed onto one of the free-standing shelves.

"You bastard," he whispered. "You bastard!"

Rage burned so hot that he screamed aloud. Summoning strength he shouldn't have had, Blair threw the shelves down. Masks and pottery shattered, books and papers flew everywhere. He didn't care. He couldn't think. He rampaged through the office, overturning boxes and files, smashing anything that would break.

"You bastard! You bastard! You're asking me what last night was all about? Asking me what happened? You son of a bitch!"

He picked up an eight hundred year old jar, his favorite of all the artifacts he'd accumulated, and raised it over his head. Frantic pounding at the door distracted him, and he froze.

"Mr. Sandburg! Mr. Sandburg! Are you all right? What's going on in there?"

It was Wilton, the old fossil down the hall. Say something, Sandburg.

"Everything's okay," he managed. "I--uh--had a little accident with the shelves. Nothing major."

"Well, try to keep the noise to a minimum, Mr. Sandburg. People are working, you know."

Asshole. "Right. Sorry, Professor Wilton."

Wilton went away. Blair lowered the jar to the floor, setting it down gently. He looked around, at the ruins of his office. He'd spent years gathering this stuff, destroyed it in less than five minutes. And none of it mattered. None of it.

Pain caught up with him, no longer held at bay by the adrenaline surge. Blair sank down beside the jar, arms wrapped around his ribs. It was all over. He'd never get his doctorate now. He couldn't finish his dissertation, and the idea of starting over with a new topic was just--impossible. He'd barely gotten the Sentinel study approved, they'd never let him switch now. How was he supposed to explain it? "Well, you see, the subject of my study turned on me. No, I don't know why. Maybe I annoyed him one too many times. Maybe he was a rotten son of a bitch all along, and I just never noticed. Either way, that makes me a pretty lousy observer, so I guess I'd just better quit while I'm still alive." They wouldn't let him teach anymore. He'd have to go home. No, not home, he couldn't face home. He didn't even know if they'd let him in. And if they did, he'd have to listen to his father. Oh, Dad wouldn't gloat, no, that was beneath Benjamin Sandburg. But he'd still find a way to make it real clear that he'd been right all along about this "Sentinel nonsense", and Blair had been wrong. He wouldn't go back to that. But he had to go somewhere. Anywhere, as long as it was out of Cascade.

End of Part 1

Part 2