Disclaimer: The main characters are not mine, this is an amateur effort written purely for the fun of it, and no money has exchanged hands, and it is not intended to breach the copyright of Paramount and Pet Fly Publication.

 

 

The information for this story has been taken from the book Regency Underworld, by Donald Low, any mistakes are mine.

In this AU the world of the sentinels is known, the world is a violent place, with a large gap between the rich and the poor, sentinels are employed in the role of thief takers.  The law has been dispensed by local troops, now it is being put in the hand of a new Police Force, known as the Thief Takers. The setting is Cascade, Washington, the year 2000 bug hit hard and in the 150 years since the world now has a mixture of the modern and the old.

This is my take on the origins of Rogues Sentinel Corp AU.

 

 

With thanks to Gail and Casey, Connie and Lorraine, for all your help.

And of course Rogue, who lets me play in her AU.

 

Thief Taker

 

Cascade was a dangerous place to live; the smart addresses were only a stone throw, or a wrong turning, away from the worst parts of the city. There was no middle ground, money was the only way to jump the social divide, it was either earned or stolen, and with employment in short supply the former was the most popular choice.  In a city like Cascade, if you wandered in the wrong area it was at your peril, and if you were lucky you might just lose your pocket watch, and if not, your life.

 

The streets were filthy, and rat ridden.   For every five buildings, the sixth was a public house, selling its own cheap blue gin that could rot the brain, but was the only release for a large majority of the people.

 

The brothels of Drury Lane were well known and frequented by men with money, yet turn a street into Moon Street, and the price dropped by 20 dollars, the whores were cheaper and the pleasure more risky.  Another block, and the price was down to 5 dollars, and the pleasure was taken down an alleyway up against a wall.  Dangerous especially now the Carvers had taken to the streets, even the whores had taken to plying their trade under the streetlights, but the savage attacks had driven them off the streets now and into the cheapest gin dives.

 

The Carvers had taken to the streets for the first time in November, when the fog was beginning to seep through the streets, shrouding them.  No one knew who the Carvers were, they roamed the streets in a gang, attacking for sport any of the people they found, leaving victims badly injured or dead in their wake.

 

-0-0-0


Captain Simon Bank straightened up from crouching over the body, and shook his head, tugging out a cigar; he took a steadying breath. The young Thief Taker that had found them was throwing up some distance away. To Simon’s limited sentinel abilities the odor of vomit was enough to make him want to gag. He quickly lit the cigar and inhaled the smoke. It blocked out the smell, so he could now concentrate on the bodies in front of him.

 

“Brown, what do we know about them?”

 

The Thief Taker shook his head, “sorry sir. All I have managed to find out is the woman is Sally B, aged 18. Her medical card has been stamped, she was clean of disease as of the 15th. She moved in from out of the state, belongs to the Fitch stable.  The man’s wallet had been taken.”

 

“Have his likeness recorded and circulated, I want to find out who he is.”

 

Simon chewed on the cigar. The legalization of prostitution had been passed only a year ago, and it had cut down on some of the local crime, but as a former Law Giver it rankled him that they now thumbed their noses at the newly created police force.   He liked the new name ’Police’, but for the people Thief Taker was still the way they were thought of.

 

This was the eighth murder by the Carvers, and he had to bring them down. They went after the poor and the weak. Sometimes just slashing people’s clothing, other times taking off a nose or the tip of an ear, but too often now the Carvers were committing murder, and they had to be stopped.

 

0-0-0-0

 

Blair Sandburg came out of the side alleyway, when he saw the Thief Takers he melted into one of the passageways. He did not need to draw attention to himself now.  Like all of the people in the area, his clothes had seen better days, the coat had been stolen off the line of a  washerwoman, his boot uppers were flapping, the soles had cardboard in them to cover the holes, and string tied them together.

 

He had paid his farthing, and spent the night propped over a rope strung the length of the room. For a farthing he could drape himself over it, and sleep like that. For a penny he could have had one of the flea ridden cots. With typical gallows humor, people said they were always warm, because as one client left, another rolled into the bed.  Blair’s hand went to his stomach; he had spent his last farthing on the room.  He had slept on doorsteps before now, but with the Carvers on the loose he had, like many others, decided to sleep inside.

 

But tonight, unless he could find a tick (watch) or tawnee (ring), he would be taking his chances on the streets.  His stomach growled again, and he headed towards the thronging Cascade streets, waiting for a mark.

 

Blair tried not to think of how his life had changed over the last six months. If it were not for the thieving, and the small pittance he earned writing letters and reading them for the locals, he would have starved before now.  He had seen others like him losing their self in the cheap gin, preferring a few hours of oblivion to the stark reality of life on the street.

 

Jessie came up to him, she had been working the street for the last three years after losing her position at one of the hotels when a couple of silver spoons had gone missing.  “Hi lover, spend a little time with a girl?”

 

Blair grinned and pulled his pockets out so that she could see the lining, “little short on funds at the moment, another time perhaps.”

She moved close and ran her hand down his chest and lower, her fingertips brushing over his groin.

 

“Any time Blair, and remember I would give you a discount” she laughed softly and headed into the throng of people.

Blair watched her go wistfully, she was a good kid, only a few months younger than him.  He frowned slightly as the carriage pulled up and the door opened, for a moment she stood talking for a second, he saw the man, and then she stepped inside.  For some reason he felt a chill go up his spine.

 

0-0-0-0-0

Evening.

 

James Ellison came out of the clothing shop and paused for a moment to look in the window.  He was by no means a clotheshorse, liking his clothing to be functional and nothing more.  The dandies could preen themselves in front of a mirror, but as a Thief Taker, he did not have time for that.

 

His attention was caught be a young man in the reflection, he looked shabby, the jacket has once been well, but was now thinning at the elbow, and the pants worn at the knees.  He watched as the younger man reached forward his fingers brushing a purse, and then pulling back as he saw one of the uniformed Thief Takers walking past.

 

Thief Taker Littlewood, nodded slightly to James Ellison, not wanting to bring attention to him.  Ellison was the Enforcer for Thief Taker General Wildman, the man was a power onto himself, and when he had introduced his own Elite squad, they had been nicknamed the Enforcers; if they were on a case, sensible people backed away.  If any one queried their methods the Mayor just pointed to Wildman’s record, his department had more convictions than any other, with Wildman sitting in the middle of it like a fat spider in his web. Jim Ellison was a sentinel unbonded and lethal; if he was hunting human prey then he did not want to know about it.

 

Ellison focused again on the younger man, as he saw him close onto a large man with a ruddy complexion who he was totally ignoring the handkerchief that was hanging from his pocket, the young man was good at what he did, he walked past and then it was gone.

 

Jim moved away from the window and began to follow him; the young man did what all the thieves did, heading straight for the rookeries that few Thief Takers would pursue them into. The smog had not lifted, and as the day began to draw in, it was getting thicker, and once the cloak of smog had fallen over the city, then the lawless would take to the street.

 

James Ellison began to close the distance between him and his target; the young man was cutting through a rabbit warren of lanes. With a smirk, James knew where the kid was going, old mother Greens.  The woman was as old as time herself; she had started out as a whore, and moved up from there.  Not the typical whore, with a heart of gold, she offered the best price for any goods that came her way, but would throw a man to the Thief Takers without a second thought to save her own hide.

 

Instead of now following, James cut down a foul smelling alleyway, for a moment his head rushed, and he had to grab at the slim covered wall to stop from falling.  He pulled himself together and dialed his senses down.

 

Then his stubborn streak set in, and he pushed himself away, he did not have time for this weakness, he had a criminal to catch, and if the kid had more than one handkerchief on him, then he would do the Cascade Jig at the end of a rope.

 

Jim’s feet splashed through the filth, he heard the click of a window, and pulled back in time to avoid the contents of a chamber pot being flung out of the window, he struggled to prevent the stench from tipping him into the dark void.  Then he focused on the kid, his senses wrapped round him, his hands went to his head, as a loud regular thumping assaulted his ears, then voices, one edged with fear.

 

“Look mister, I don’t have anything,” then a sickening thump and a gasp.

“That’s all I have, I need it.”

 

“Sandburg, either you give it  up or you wont have any need for it.”

 

“Fuck off Mark,” then there was a thud and another scream.

 

Jim was running now, all he knew was that he had to get to the young thief, he turned the corner, the kid was on his feet, one of the other men was on the ground clutching his groin, and the two others were closing in.

 

“John, gut the little bastard,” the fallen man grated out through the pain. The man’s knife slashed out, and the kid gave a cry of pain as it opened him from elbow to wrist.

 

There was an inhuman roar that made the men spin round, and the Sentinel was on top of them, one of them lunged at Jim, the wrist was caught broken, and the knife twisted back on the man, then stabbed upwards into the heart.

 

Mark Turner got to his feet, grabbed the arm of his friend and tried to disappeared into the night, as the big man turned on them.  Panicked he grabbed his pistol and fired, it lit the night up with a flash as the ancient weapon misfired. Mark saw the man thrown his arm up to protect his face, but didn’t wait around to see what happened next, he melted back into the night; he could wait and get Sandburg another time.

 

Blair was breathing hard as he pushed himself off the wall; a glance towards his rescuer puzzled him the man was not moving. Stepping over the dead body he tried to thank the man, but came to a halt. He tried again, “I said thanks,” Blair reached out a hand not sure that his touch would be welcomed the man seemed to be in a trance. It was then the penny dropped it was not a trance, it was a zone out. He had read about Sentinels and now it looked as if he was actually facing one.

 

He heard the church clock begin to strike, he needed to get off the street now, because once it struck twelve, the Carver and his gang would be out, and it would be too dangerous. 

 

Carefully he felt into the larger man’s pockets and pulled out a wallet, and riffled through it, more money than he would see in a week, all he had to do was leave the guy and the money would be enough to pay for a room for the rest of the month.   The Carver and his gang might find the guy, and then…

 

But Blair could not, he grabbed the man’s arm and gave him a tug, then swore, he was rooted to the spot.  He moved close enough and then keeping one hand on his lapel, he stroked the man’s face.  The nose twitched slightly, “sorry about the smell, but you can’t have everything man.”   He flinched as the mans arm went round his shoulder, and he was pulled tightly against a broad chest.

 

“I am here, not going anywhere, not leaving you, but we have to get you off the street, you have to come with me.”

 

This time when he tugged the man started to move slowly, it was as if he was walking through treacle, but at least they were moving.

 

0-0-0-0-0-0

 

Jim came round; his mouth felt as if it was coated with sand, and his head was pounding.  He had zoned out, //where the hell was he?//

 

He swung his feet off the bed and sat up, his head in his hands.

 

Then is head came up, and he heard a thumping, footsteps coming closer.  Jim moved behind the door and waited, the door handle was pushed down, and it opened.  His arm came round the man’s throat, and he hauled back so that his captive’s feet only just touched the floor.

 

“Keep struggling and I’ll break your neck.”

 

“Easy mister,” Blair could only just force the words out. Then he was pushed away, he spun round only to find the man blocking the door.  He had never seen anyone so angry and so dangerous.  “You zoned out, I managed to get you here and off the street.”

 

Jim’s eyes fixed on his wallet in the kid’s pocket, “You took my money.”

 

He took a step closer, and the kid back peddled his hand dropping down towards his boots.

 

“Needed the money for room and food, I earned it, I could have left you for the Carver and his gang.” Blair put in defensively.

 

“Pull that knife kid and I promise I’ll make you eat it.”  The warning wasn’t shouted, but it made it all the more threatening.  Jim had noticed the practiced move.

 

“You’re a Sentinel,” Blair needed the man to tell him, to confirm what he thought, because he was as sure as hell not looking at someone who was suffering from fits.  This was a Sentinel, and if he was alone he was unbonded.

 

“Yeah, kid,” Jim tried to dismiss it, not wanting to get involved with the whole Sentinel business, people usually reacted one of two ways, treated him as a freak or wanted him to do something for them, so he changed the subject “so what’s this place?”

 

“Ma Green’s whore house, best one on Cranks street.”

 

“Do you work here?”  Jim’s eyes bored into the blue ones of Blair Sandburg.  Looking at the kid in the candle light, he realized the kid could charge top dollar, he was young, good looking and he had seen worse on the street.  Then he noticed the flush on the pale face.

 

“No, No.” Blair repeated it. “I might need the money, but I don’t lift the linen for anyone.”   He paused, “But any port in a storm, and Ma has the best locks going, the Carver and his gang wont get in here easy.”  

 

Jim heard the scream come from the street and then the baying as if of hounds, but human hounds.  He started towards the door, only to have the kid grab him, “you can’t do anything man, they will cut you into matchsticks.”

 

Jim ignored him, but Blair hung onto him. In desperation, Jim caught his arm to peel him off. It was then the younger man screamed, biting it back, and lost his color and his legs began to buckle.

 

The Sentinel caught hold of him round the waist, it was already too late to help the latest victim, and he could not leave the kid, what had started as a vague need to help the kid, had become the need to protect him in the street, and now it was burning through him.  Jim bent and caught the kid’s legs and lifted him as if a child, and carried him to the bed.

 

 A knock on the door brought him back, and with two large steps had the door pulled open.  He recognized Ma Green, the woman was barely five foot tall, her hair now gray and badly colored a rich red, her gown was velvet, and was expensive. 

 

“Blair said you might need company,” she waved two of her girls forward, Jim shook his head, “No, the kid, er... Blair is enough for me, but I need hot water, cloths and rum, you have it?”

 

“Of course sir,” she tried to look past the larger man that was blocking the doorway, “now Blair is not one of my regulars, and although he paid for the room, I could of course...”

 

“One moment” Jim retrieved his wallet and pushed a large note in her hand, “Include blankets, and food and you can keep this one,” he folded the second note for her to see.

 

“Of course sir, its always nice to deal with quality.”

 

Once the door was closed again Jim shuddered, the woman made him want to wash, she was that slimy.

 

He turned his attention back to Blair, so that was the kid’s name.  Jim sat on the edge of the bed, pushed back the threadbare jacket sleeve, he had smelt the blood and could now feel the heat coming off the forearm.

 

Jim reached up and pulled the knife from the sheath sewn in the back of his jacket, and cut the sleeve open. The Sentinel snarled as he saw the shirtsleeve stuck to the wound.  Peeling it back he could see the wound went from Blair’s elbow to his wrist, the wound was red, and angry.

 

The knock on the door announced that Ma Green’s girls were back; he took the tray of supplies from them and locked the door, before turning  back to the young man.

 

Carefully Jim arranged the supplies he needed, and then supporting the arm on his lap, he held tightly onto the wrist  as he cleaned the wound with rum, thankfully the kid was still out of it.

 

Using the clean cloths he bound the arm up. Almost guiltily he reached out and gently stroked the kid’s face, noting there was the hint of fever.  Jim shook out the blankets and created a warm nest for the kid to sleep in before settling in by his side.

 

As he slept, without any conscious thought, his senses began to wrap round Blair, Jim’s hand still kept contact with the smaller man, and for the primal Sentinel that was enough.  The input it was receiving was very simple, near him was a Guide, unbonded, and the scent was pure.  He had not been claimed, therefore he was his, the need to take the Guide was burning through the primal Sentinel, but it pulled back. His Guide was hurt, and he would not hurt him further. 

 

Blair opened his eyes slowly, as if a heavy weight was holding them down. He was warm and for the first time in a long time he actually felt safe.

 

Then his mind caught up with his body, and he sat up, his arm hurt and he cradled it close.  The first thing he realized was he was naked in the bed, and his clothes were on a chair, and the man he had rescued the night before had his back to him.

 

“Don’t even think about it Blair,” there was amusement in his voice. “Oh Ma told me your name. She seems to think that you’re entertaining me.”

 

Blair pulled the blankets round him. Still the man hadn’t turned round, he just continued his shave.

 

“Look man I am not into that sort of thing,” he pulled the blanket back and looked down at himself.

 

“Don’t worry kid, your virtue is intact, I don’t swing that way.” There was a touch of amusement to his voice, as he added, “There is food near the bed.”

 

Only then did he turn round.  “The reason I took your clothes off was that you started a fever, the cold water cooled you down, it’s the least I could do.” 

Then with a grin that bordered on sarcastic, he nodded “those all yours, kid? Six handkerchiefs, enough to get you hung or do you have a bad cold I should know about.”

 

“Only if you’re a Thief Taker,” Blair could feel a knot forming in the pit of his stomach. He was out of the bed and heading for the door when he was caught by the waist and swung round. He struggled, trying to slam his head backward to break the man’s nose.  With a humph he was thrown onto the bed on his stomach and pinned down.

 

“Keep still or you’ll break the wound open. How far do you think you’ll get naked? Sort of conspicuous aren’t you.” 

 

“Fuck you man,” Blair snarled. The man had him pinned and was laughing at him.

 

“I am a Thief Taker,” he felt the younger man tense and knew he would try to escape.  But his weight kept him pinned even as  Blair’s body bucked against him, frantically trying to throw him off. 

 

Jim lifted one hand long enough to give his head a clip, to get his attention, “If I wanted to take you in Blair, I could have done anytime today, instead I kept watch over you, so you’re not gallows fodder yet.  In fact, I think there is someone you should meet.” 

 

Blair looked over his shoulder, “get off me and let me get dressed.”

 

“Only if you promise not to run.”

 

“I won’t run.” Blair grated out, then he froze as the larger man sniffed at his neck, “I am not a Guide man, so back off.”

 

The Sentinel eased back and allowed him to sit up. Blair gathered the blanket, pulling it into his lap, but his eyes followed every move the Sentinel made, as the man backed away from him. He could tell from the way the man tilted his head, the slightly open mouth, and the intense look on the handsome face that he was being scented.  “Quit it, I am not a Guide okay.”

 

“Your scent tells me different,”

 

Blair scoffed “and how would you know unbonded? I have not washed in three weeks, I doubt if you could smell me through the stench, which by the way, sorry.” 

 

When the Sentinel moved forward, Blair tried to back peddle. Catching himself in the blanket he went sideways off the bed, ending up in a heap on the floor. He cursed in about three different languages as he tried to pick himself up.  When the Sentinel reached for him, he nearly tripped.  “Look man no disrespect, but I would prefer that you don’t touch me, I am not a Guide, and certainly not your Guide, so back off a pace okay, before I break my neck.”

 

“Thanks for the work on my arm, but I kinda think that we are even, and I need to get on with my life.”

 

The Sentinel’s mouth twisted. “Blair you’re under arrest for theft.” Then he added, “do we have to do it the hard way, or... “ He left it hanging.

 

 

“Okay, okay, let me get dressed, then I am all yours.” He saw the older man’s eyes glow, “No way man, not that way.”  The light faded, and Blair reached out to reclaim his clothes.  His mind whirling at how he was going to escape the Sentinel before he wanted him to bond with him.

 

0-0-0-0-0

 

The Cascade Headquarters of the Thief Takers was a classical building with large pillars and marble steps; it had survived the crash of 2000, and had been refurbished to become the center of law and order in the city.

 

Blair tensed as he approached the building, “Look I still think that this is a bad idea.”  But the hand on his elbow tightened. 

 

“You’re going to Guide me Blair, and to do that you’re going to need a certificate of registration, or do I have to take you to holding, and get them to run your name through the card index.”

 

“Okay you made your point,” Blair gave a sigh, and they had been having this argument since they had left the brothel. He had tried to come up a solution, but the Sentinel was stubborn. Either Blair helped Jim with his senses, or he would take him in and he would do the Cascade Jig, next session.

 

Henri Brown watched the odd couple as they came up the stairs. He, like the rest of Major Crimes, could barely tolerate Wildman Enforcers, but Ellison was a different type from Wildman’s usual mercenaries. He seemed to actually care about the people he was responsible for. 

 

“Hi Ellison.”

 

“Brown.”

 

The detective noticed the way that Ellison pulled the younger man to one side, making almost a human barrier between them, “So are congratulations in order, you’ve bonded.”

 

“No way, no fucking way.”  The young man spat the words out.

Jim gave him a shake that would have loosened teeth. “Temporary Brown.”

 

The detective was not convinced as he saw the way that the man’s eyes had glowed, and from what he had read, that only happened when a Sentinel had his Guide, his true Guide, with him. The connection must have already started. If the kid thought he could duck and run, he was sadly mistaken.

 

“Sure Ellison, by the way Wildman has assigned you to Major Crimes, seems he’s loaning you to us for the Carver Case, nasty bastards.”

 

Blair yelped, “Carvers, well that’s it man, hand me in or whatever, but I am sure as hell not tracking those bastards down.”

 

Jim’s hand went to his ear, as if trying to block Blair’s voice out.  With a snarl he turned and caught him by the throat and took him back against the wall with a sickening thud, “No, listen to me you longhaired witch doctor punk, you are my Guide, and you do not yell.  If you keep doing that I might have to have the doc make a few adjustments get my drift.”

 

Brown saw the younger man go pale. 

 

“Come on Ellison, the kid is kinda new, you would not want to do that.”  He like a lot of people, had been shocked to see some of Wildman’s Guides with scars to their throats, where he had ordered them operated on to reduce their voices to a whisper that the Sentinel could listen to, but which made them unable to speak loudly to normal ears.

 

Jim Ellison took in the scared eyes that looked up at him, and could smell the stench of fear that was pulsating off the smaller man. With fingertips he lightly stroked Blair’s face, calming him, “Easy kid, no one is going to hurt you, I would never do that to you.”

 

“Sure,” but Blair’s tone told him different. If Ellison said it, he was thinking about it.

 

Keeping his grip on his new Guide, Jim took the stairs up to the Major Crime Department.  As they walked through the corridors he saw several other pairings, the Guides moving freely at their Sentinel’s sides, equals, friends.  But Wildman was different; he would only allow one of his Sentinels to take a Guide if he could prove the Guide was trained to the hand.

 

Blair was his Guide, and he would never hurt him, he just had to make Blair see that.

 

 

Captain Simon Banks greeted Jim with a smile. He liked the man, for all his reputation, he had the making of one of the best Thief Takers.  Then his face hardened,  “Blair Sandburg,” what are you doing here?”

 

Blair began to edge towards the door, when he was caught by Ellison and pulled upright, the Sentinel looked angry and puzzled in turn, and that with a primal Sentinel was not good, pain usually followed.

 

“You know him Captain?”

 

“I know him.  Sandburg is from Rainier University, and he’s a post grad student, doing his essay.”

 

“My dissertation,” Blair corrected, and received a shake  in return, for his attempt to escape, his jacket was bunched up round his neck.  The Sentinel was not going to let go.

 

“Hey man, put me down”

 

His demand only resulted in him being pulled higher so he was on his toes.

 

“On the enclosed.”

 

“Closed,” Blair corrected, “Chill it man,” he added, as he was pulled higher and closer to the angry Sentinel.

 

“Closed society of the Rookery.  I see that you’re still risking your neck out there,” the big Captain gave a grin and a satisfied pull on his cigar, “It seems that you got a little more than you asked for...Guide Sandburg.”

 

Blair felt the hold on his jacket ease, and took the opportunity to bring his foot down hard on the Sentinel’s instep and broke free; he got the desk and Banks between them.  “You back off Sentinel before I do something you regret.”

 

The younger man was worried, the Sentinel’s attention had not wavered from him in the slightest, if anything when Banks had called him Guide, the man’s eyes had started to glow, and that was so not what he wanted. 

 

Simon looked up at Blair, “You talk to him Sandburg, you made your bed, you lie in it, and Jim, no taming okay.”  He hardened his tone, “You heard me Ellison?”

 

“Sir, yes, Sir,” the response was automatic, but the eyes had lost their glow now. 

 

Blair slowly edged round the corner of the desk,  “And Sandburg, go and have a shower, you smell ripe.”

 

“Yes Captain,” the younger man edged round the Sentinel, and headed for the locker room.  He did not have to be an empath to know that the man was following; he was like a looming shadow. 

 

It seemed like his research was over now, enough people had seen him being lead into the Thief Takers headquarters, and they would not buy him on the street home free, his cover was blown and there was nothing he could do about it but cut his loses and go back to Rainier and write up his work.  His six month research sabbatical was nearly over anyways, but it would have been nice to have dotted the I’s and crossed the T’s.

 

A couple of Thief Takers were enjoying the communal bath when he arrived in the locker room, but a growl from his Sentinel and self appointed protector and they soon grabbed their clothes and ran.  Blair saw the way the Ellison settled on the side of the bath and waited.  Blair cursed, Primal Rule One, once a Sentinel had found his Guide they didn’t let go, and Ellison was a living breathing confirmation of that rule.  The man would not get off the idea that they would be bonded.  With disgust Blair unlocked Locker number 617, he had been allowed to stow his clothes there at the start of the research, and with relief he would be glad to get back into academia where the worst thing that could happen was a paper cut.

 

He let the filthy rags fall to the floor and then padded bare footed to the bath, the stream was rising, and he was looking forward to his first real bath in six months.  You could not really count the lick and spit baths he had been taking, or the soak in the horse trough. 

 

Naked he slide into the water, ignoring the Sentinel that was pacing the sides of the bath, his eyes all the time sweeping over him, to check the surrounding area, the man was in Blessed Protector at least level three by the look of it.  He knew then with a sinking feeling that he might have to surface bond with the guy if he was going to get out in one piece.  He just hoped and prayed Ellison had more control than he was showing, otherwise he was in for a rough ride.

 

Blair undid the bandage on his arm, and taking a deep breath, pushed it under the water, it hurt, but the wound looked clean, and would heal so resigning himself to having an audience he began to soap up a cloth.  Finally he could not put it off any longer and Blair carefully climbed out of the bath, and reached for the towel, only to have it pulled out of his grip, keeping his eyes fixed on those of the Sentinel and keeping his voice level he said. “Okay, either you give it to me or I go next door and get another one.”

 

The Sentinel growled, he could hear other men; his Guide was not going in there naked.  The towel hit Blair in the face.

 

“Right, thanks man,” ignoring the Thief Taker, he began to dry himself off, thankful that he had grown up with no hang ups about being naked, otherwise the Sentinel’s gaze would have had him freaking out by now.  The bond for all the rumors was not sexual, but was if possible, even more intimate.  Once taken into the bond, a Sentinel and Guide had a lifelong partnership, without divorce, a true til’ death do us part.

 

The Sentinel was rumbling when he re-wrapped the old bandage on the wound.  “Back off man, I’ll get it looked at, no need to bust a gut.”  The constant hovering was getting on Blair’s nerves.

 

He tried not to flinch when a hand caught his shoulder and pulled him close to the Sentinel,  he managed to ease back enough to grab his boxers, before he was pushed down to sit on the bench, only then did the Sentinel began to dry his hair, the growl becoming a rumbling purr, as one hand wrapped in the long strands, and the other rubbed the long dark curls with the towel.

 

“So you see Dr. Phillips, Mr. Sandburg is perfectly all right, he...” Simon pushed the door to the locker room open and froze.  Ellison had his back to them, and Sandburg was pulled close.

 

“What the hell are you doing?”  Dr. Phillips pushed past Simon.  “Get your hands off him you Neanderthal.”  The Doctor was by no means a small man; he had gotten his doctorate through sports scholarships, and had been a good footballer in his time.  He grabbed the Sentinel’s shoulder, only to have an elbow stab him in the stomach, knocking all the air from him.  Even as he doubled over, he was caught and run into the wall, a hand like a vice on his neck and he was lifted up his feet kicking above the floor.  Ellison’s lips were pulled back over his teeth and he was snarling at the doctor, as he shook him like a terrier would a rat.

 

Blair threw himself at the Sentinel, wrapping himself round the enraged man, knowing that he could not break the other’s hold, he caught a fistful of the older man’s hair, and forced his head round.  He gave him the only thing that would over ride all other emotions, the one thing the Sentinel craved.  The one thing that would save his friend and mentor

 

“Yours Sentinel, to bond,”

 

For a moment the Sentinel froze, then the doctor was released with a push that sent him staggering. Blair was swept up off his feet, and the Sentinel crashed through the door to the bonding area.  It was a squalid room with stained mattresses, on a floor littered with bottles and towels, it was then that Blair began to struggle, not here not like this but he was forced down onto his back.  But the Sentinel used his weight to push him down, one hand circling his throat, the finger flexed not squeezing just holding him pinned, the need to bond was riding the older man, and his eyes had become charged with a eerie light.  Blair twisted his fist hitting the Sentinel as hard as he could but the older man rolled with the blow, like this he could feel no pain, his mind body was now fixed on only one thing the bond, the need to finish what had now started. His grip tightened on Blair’s shoulder as his guide began to fight and struggle, the Sentinel not understanding what was wrong tried to restrain him not realizing that Blair’s terror was fuelling his own fears through their fledgling connection, magnifying it and pushing him towards a zone out. Then his mind froze, and his mind spiraled down into the dark void.

 

Blair struggled to free himself from the sentinel’s grasp, rolling clear and was half way to the door when he realized that he was not being chased.  Turning with a hand on the door handle he saw the Sentinel frozen.

 

He pulled the door open then halted, he could not leave him like that, “get out you idiot,” Blair told himself, but even as the thought formed he was going back.  Kneeling Blair reached out a hand, he closed it into a fist, to try and stop the shaking, he brought it down hard against his thigh, “you can do this,” this time his hand didn’t shake as he touched the Sentinel’s face.  The tips of his fingers brushed the side of the chiseled features tracing the clenched jaw line. The guide moved closer, so that he could smell his scent, “Come back to me Sentinel,” the words said softly still had the kick ass roar of a guide, to a reluctant Sentinel. 

 

Jim Ellison’s eyes opened, but they where still unfocused, but almost blindly he reached out, one arm wrapping round Blair’s waist and pulled him close, the arm holding him in place as his other hand ran over the smaller body. Suddenly Blair was flipped over onto his back and he found himself looking up into the face of the Sentinel, but this time the man didn’t pin him down, he kept his weight off the smaller man.  As Ellison realized that although he was making an effort the Guide was not willing to bond. His touch was not rejected, but he felt a flinch that only a Sentinel would have detected. His Guide was not ready to give himself, a black depression settled over him, and he started to pull himself up, when Blair caught his jacket, and held him.

 

“I can’t bond now, but let me help you, please.”  He lightly touched the Sentinel’s face, knowing that the other man needed the tactile contact. “Maybe later, but for now...”

 

“My Guide,” for the first time in a while the man spoke for the Sentinel.

 

“Yes,” Blair answered him.

 

Only to have a large hand cup his face and turn him gently back so that he was looking into the Sentinel’s eyes again. “Tell me……… please.”

 

“I was attacked by a Sentinel in bonding frenzy,” taking Jim’s hand he let the fingers trail over his chest and stomach, “feel the scars. He saw the understand in the older man’s face. “They said that I would never bond, I can only give you what I can but that will never be enough” Blair bit his lip, his blue eyes filling with tears, this was what he had always wanted, a Sentinel, but he knew that he would never have the confidence to bond, he was scared in mind and body

 

“But I can’t let you go,” there was a sadness in Jim’s voice that the young guide had to respond too.”  Jim Ellison had made his choice and only death now could break the connection between them, it would only grow stronger over time, denying the bond, would result in the Sentinel dying.  There was no life without the guide.

 

“I might never be able to fully give myself to you in the bond,” Blair knew he had to make the Sentinel understand,  “I.”

 

A finger closed his lips.

 

“My Guide,” Jim was willing to accept that if he could keep Blair, before the younger man can answer Jim added. “To protect, to cherish.”

 

Blair answered, “To bond two lives to one, to serve and be served, even death can not part us.”

 

The young grad student finished the vow, he allowed his mind to brush across the Sentinel’s, and he was hugged tighter as the Sentinel’s mind opened to him, cradling him, but holding back from the full bond.  The voice in his mind was soft. “Until you’re ready Blair, you need not fear me. I will never take what you will not willingly give me.”

 

“My Sentinel,” Blair said the words and for the first time there was no fear.  The connection between the two of them was fledgling, enough to help the Sentinel, who had imprinted on him, but not enough to bond him as a full Guide. The Sentinel scent on him would tell any others that he was taken and protected. A new life was starting for him, and as he tightened his hold on Jim Ellison, he embraced the man and the life.  Somehow he was going to have to explain it all to his mentor.

 

But that could wait.

 

The end