With thanks to Gail and Jade for the beta reading.
For my sister Eileen, who a year ago set up my web page, and has looked after it ever since.
Carolyn Plummer was seated at her desk in the Technical Support Department and in her hand, an invitation to the Cascade PD Award Ceremony. The Mayor as always would attend; it was a political photo opportunity to show to the electorates that he was 100 percent behind law and order.
In previous years she had arrived on the arm of James Ellison, first as his girl friend and then later as his wife.
She allowed herself to bask in that warm feeling when considering getting back together with Jim. Oh she readily agreed that at the end they had barely spoken, but when they had first started out, WOW!
Jim had been a strong and passionate lover, but at the same time so conscious of his strength. During the early days he had opened up his heart to her in a way that he has never done with anyone else, a sacred gift he had offered to her with all his love. The emotional mask he showed the world had been discarded for her and she had felt privileged.
Then as their relationship had faltered, so to the mask had slid into place, shutting her out. Now she thought she understood. It had been the Sentinel part of him that had tried to push her away.
Now though Jim could control his senses, albeit in the shape of a longhaired hippy wanna-be.
Ah…the fly in the ointment. Blair Sandburg. The man sickened her with the way that he clung onto her ex-husband. Always so needy, pawing at Jim, she suppressed a shudder. And didn't Jim see the way that people looked at them, or hear the things they said behind their hands? Jim was never one to like emotional displays, he was acutely embarrassed by them. So look what he got, a weak willed Guide who was an emotional cripple.
Carolyn was suddenly jolted from her thoughts as she realised that Eve Lawton was standing before her. Eve was in her early twenties and had become her assistant about two months ago; she had been trying to lose herself in her work. Then one night over a Thai take out she had broken down and Carolyn had found herself in the role of agony aunt as the younger woman had talked about the messy break up with her boyfriend. Never meaning to do it, Carolyn had found herself opening up to the younger woman. And with Eve she had found a ready shoulder to lean on as she spoke of her regrets over the failure of her marriage.
Eve smiled. “Sorry Carolyn. Did I interrupt something?”
"No, just thinking", she indicated the invites, "I was hoping that perhaps Jim would come, but that little * creep * would have to come as well.”
"No need for that."
"I thought they had to remain joined at the hip?" //At least Jim gives that impression//. Carolyn thought with a flash of resentment and jealousy.
"No… Guides can be parted from their Sentinels when they have their barriers up. Also, if you and Jim got together, you would not have to have him at the house. They have hostel's for Guides." Eve pushed the leaflet across Carolyn's desk. "I picked this up from the GDP office on the Ninth floor." She paused, "Have a chat with them Carolyn. Alice is a fount of knowledge. She said that in the early days it's not unusual for a Sentinel to be possessive of his Guide, but it soon passes.”
"I might do that. Thanks.” Then she became all business, "Have we got the tire tracks back from the FBI in Washington yet?”
"I contacted them, they said they will be here tomorrow.”
Jim knew that something was wrong the moment he started down the corridor. He threw the groceries down as he pulled his key out, unlocked the front door, and then kicked it closed behind him, leaving the groceries outside, taking the stairs to his bedroom two at a time. The sounds of distress were coming from there. With great care so as not to spook his Guide, he pulled the clothes back, along the rungs, to expose his Guide. Blair was sitting in Jim's closet, back against the wall, his knees pulled up to his chest. The smaller man's arms where folded with his head tucked against them, as all the while he was rocking.
“Blair it's alright.” He hesitated and then lightly rested his hand on Blair's shoulder; he felt him flinch but did not let Blair pull away. Carefully Jim's fingers began gently massaging the tense muscles in his Guide's shoulders.
Blair lifted his head, “They where here, they wanted me, but I hid, can't find me, can't take me.”
Jim opened his arms, and it was the only invite the smaller Guide needed as he moved into them and clung on tightly.
“GDP?” Jim felt the nod against his chest.
Gently he began to rock his Guide, one hand holding him close as with his other he rubbed his back and neck.
“They banged on the door, said they knew I was in here alone and I had to open the door, you said not to…so I didn't.”
“You did right Blair”, Jim gave reassurance as he heard Blair's heart start to slow. //The kid was scared he had done wrong//.
“You don't let anyone into our home that you don't want in here. And that goes doubly for the GDP!” The Sentinel all but spat out the initials.
He continued to slowly rock his Guide while letting his own head rest on top of the other's curly dark hair.
Blair was coming along, but it was still early days, and he was skittish as hell. The GDP Doctors said that he would settle, but also had warned he could be suicidal. Personally Jim knew that Blair would never attempt to take his own life, but the fear still ate away at skittish young man.
The Sentinel lost all references to time, there was just he and his Guide and that was his entire world at this moment. He never heard the knock on the door until Blair made a frightened noise and tried to burrow even deeper into Jim's sweater.
“Easy Kid, I'm here.” Jim sent out his senses and detected four heartbeats, then the unique scent of Simon Bank's cigars became overwhelming. “It's okay Blair, it's only Simon, he's got some people with him. Why don't I go down and see what he wants and then we can bond? You're a little shaky kid.”
Carefully the Sentinel got to his feet, moving, cautiously, so not to lose the precious bundle that was held against his chest.
Just then there was a key in the lock, and the door was opening.
Immediately Jim pressed Blair down onto his bed, “Stay there Chief.” He took the stairs down in large strides, and heard Blair follow him down, scared, but still needing to be with his Sentinel.
A GDP officer and a Senior Guard stood in his living room.
Correction, two officer's and one GDP rookie flanked Simon.
“Jim, are you alright? They tried to call earlier, and no one was at home, and they got concerned.” Simon was clearly worried about his friend.
“No. I'm fine, Blair's been looking after me.” Jim's face was grim, seeming nearly carved from stone.
“Respectfully Sentinel; your Guide is a known rogue with a history of moral corruption. Dr. Jenson is adamant that we check on you. We made ourselves know on our first visit, but your Guide refused to open the door.” The female officer's voice carried with it more than a little disgust and anger, fuelled by the fact a Guide had dared to disobey her orders. Correction facility officers were not used to being ignored.
“And who are you lady?” Jim's voice was polite but icy, and too calm, never a good sign.
“I am Lieutenant Katherine County, this is Senior Guard Ward and Cadet Officer Farmer”, she indicated the older man who stood next to her, and finally the young pale-faced cadet, she was obviously nervous, unsure of what was going to happen.
“I told Blair when he's on his own, not to open the door to anyone. And that lady includes the GDP.” There was no missing the fact that the large Sentinel's whole body language was changing, the aggression pouring off him.
Blair moved closer, pressing up against Jim, in whole body contact with his Sentinel, almost melting against him. For the moment Banks and the GDP were forgotten, his Sentinel needed him, and no one else existed. One hand clutched the back of Jim's jacket, the other moving over his back and shoulders, Blair's head resting on Jim's back. His voice Sentinel soft called to him. It seemed to be working.
Lieutenant County slipped into her training. “All Sentinels are a little over protective of their Guides to start with. It's perfectly natural, your emotion's are all set on high.” She tried to keep her tone professional as she tried to talk the irate Sentinel down. When he appeared to listen, she continued “But there is nothing to worry about, it will all settle down. Your Guide will in time become a friend, but he is still your Guide.” Her attention strayed from Jim to the smaller shadow that was now hiding behind the larger man. “Show your respect Guide Sandburg.”
Jim's hand caught Blair's arm as he would have started to kneel and he was pulled firmly round so that he was anchored to Jim's chest with one arm.
“Listen to me Lieutenant.” The words seemed to vibrate deep in the throat of the Sentinel. It was a very clear warning that this particular Sentinel was beyond angry, more like a slow burn. His blue eyes had gone deep blue and ice cold. “Blair doesn't kneel in his own home Lady, and certainly not to you.”
“Sentinel, your Guide's emotional balance has been flagged on his medical report. The doctor at the hospital stated that he could be suicidal. You are not experienced enough to realise that a suicidal Guide can drag his Sentinel down into depression and …”
“Blair is not suicidal, it's not in his make up.”
“He is a Guide James.” The female GDP officer tried a new tact of using his first name, try and show him that she understood.
“Guides are fragile and prone to emotional problems, where was he when you found him, hiding upstairs.” She saw a flicker in the eyes, //she had guessed right//. “Next time he could overload, he really needs to be brought in for examination.”
Jim felt Blair's hands tighten on his shirt; he looked down at the smaller man, and saw the shake of his head, the mouth starting to form its plea. He moved his hand up and pulled Blair's head back against his chest, the need to protect the smaller man was running through him like wild fire.
“My name is Sentinel Detective Ellison, remember that Kathy.” He deliberately used her name and heard a quick intake of breath.
When his Guide tried to turn to look at her, Jim's hand held his head in place. “Just look at me Chief.” When he knew he'd gotten his Guide's attention he added, “Now listen very carefully, go upstairs and wait for me. This has nothing to do with you.” His grim features softened slightly as he looked down on the upturned face, his hand moved slightly, his thumb brushing Blair's cheek and lips. Then he released his hold and gave his Guide a soft push towards the stairs up to his bedroom.
Without looking round Blair hurried up the steps, nearly tripping in his hurry to get away from the GDP. Upstairs he toed off his sneakers and curled up on Jim's bed, pulling the pillow against him, hugging it, needing contact, as he peered between the bars, looking down at them. He ducked back as Simon looked up at him.
Senior Guard Ward was looking round the loft, which earned him a withering look from the Sentinel who instantly moved to block the stairs to the bedroom to protect his Guide. The male GDP Officer shook his head in a clear answer to a questioning look from his female colleague.
“Sentinel”, the woman looked round her, “Where is your bonding platform.”
“Don't need one, don't own one.”
“Sentinel, all pairs must bond, you have reaffirmed your bond since the initial bonding at the police station?”
“That is none of your business.”
“Sentinel I am a member of the GDP, this is for your own good, have you bonded recently, and if so…” Her voice faltered, “You are bonding on the bed!” For a split second distaste coloured her face. “Of course Sentinel, your Guide hasn't told you about the platform, you are untrained.” Her tone made it almost a slur. “He is corrupt as you know. He hopes to debase and manipulate you to his own ends. It is not unknown for a rogue to sexually abuse his Sentinel during a zone out.”
Simon jumped in, “Lieutenant you are out of line!” there was a bark to his voice, a warning timber that made the detectives of Major Crimes look up and pay attention.
“Captain Banks, you don't understand.”
“I might not be GDP, and I might not be a Sentinel… but what I do know is that there is no evidence that Blair has done anything criminally wrong here. All he did was not open the door. And * that * Lieutenant isn't a crime, so tone it down.”
Senior Guard Ward stepped forward. “I am sure Captain, that Detective Ellison has not had that problem with his Guide, all my colleague is trying to say is that the Guide has …”
Jim jumped straight in. “Mister, you have no idea what you're talking about. I was the one that decided we would use the bed. Blair's in no condition to bond on a mat, and I am not about hurt him. Not for the sake of your petty rules.”
Officer County was now worried. //It was worse that I thought, this has to be reported back to Dr. Jenson as soon as possible//. She tried for a softer tone.
“Of course, Sentinel. We would not want your Guide to be hurt. All I needed was to make sure that you've had no problems with bonding. You are perhaps feeling the need. Now if you would allow us to observe you bond.”
Jim took a step forward, his hands clenching and unclenching. The Dark Sentinel was coming forward. The man that was Jim Ellison had to fight to keep that persona under control. The Dark Sentinel was calling for him to trample these people. For a moment the Dark Sentinel flashed from Ellison's eyes. This time the Guide was not there to filter the emotion.
“No one watches our bond. Get out!”
Lieutenant County thought she'd identified the problem, “It's alright Sentinel. I would send Cadet Farmer out. I certainly wouldn't expect you to bond in front of a Cadet. We do understand the sanctity of the Bond.” Her voice had dropped to the soothing tone she knew worked well on the frayed nerves of a Sentinel in Blessed Protector mode.
But this Sentinel wasn't listening to her any more. There was only one voice he would listen to now and it wasn't her. It belonged to his Guide waiting now in his territory for him.
“Sentinel, we really do need to watch. There is always a possibility that the Guide is not conducting himself correctly, he should not look at you or speak until ordered too.”
That seemed to be the last straw, the Sentinel had been walking a tightrope emotionally, and it had just snapped. He caught the Guard that had come too close to him and threw him towards the door. Simon moved fast and caught his friend, firmly. Jim's hands fastened on his Captain's forearms to try and throw him off, but Simon held tight.
“Jim for God's sake, no one is trying to take him away from you. Sandburg, get down here.”
Jim's strength flared; he pushed Simon away from him causing the big Captain to stagger back.
The Sentinel was in Blessed Protector overdrive, and he moved forward, one thing running through his head, to rend and destroy.
Simon blocked his way, “Jim!” but the Sentinel was bearing down on him like a tank.
The same moment Simon said Jim's name, Blair called out to him. The Sentinel turned fast, catching his Guide as the smaller man launched himself at Jim, arms and legs wrapping round the bigger man, holding tightly. Ellison had no option but to grip his Guide. The startled Sentinel found himself nose to nose with a Guide in the heat of bonding. Pheromones that heightened the linkage scent were rolling off his Guide. Blair needed to bond, and it was a need that called to the Sentinel to answer.
Without even turning back, Jim's husky voice spoke. “My Guide needs to bond. You will go, now!” There was finality to his words that Simon did not like the sound of. They were being dismissed. Jim's face was pressed against his Guide's throat, he was snuffling at Blair's scent, as seductive as any catnip.
“Sure Jim.” Banks said in a appeasing tone. “Come on Lieutenant, you have seen what you needed. Now let's give them some privacy.”
When the Lieutenant made no effort to move, Simon's anger flared, “Come on! This isn't a peep show.” He caught hold of the GDP officer's arms, pushing them to the door.
Jim spoke softly to his Guide “See Blair, they're gone.”
“We bond now Jim.” His voice was slightly breathless at the intensity of the emotions that where coming off his Sentinel.
“We bond now.” The large Sentinel moved an arm under his Guide's legs as he carried his Guide up the stairs to the bedroom, the smaller man holding tight to Jim.
With great care he laid the shaking Guide down on the bed. Only then did Blair release his hold and scoot back against the pillows, reaching his hands towards his Sentinel. He shook his hair out of his eyes, “Sentinel claim your Guide.” The Dark Sentinel surged forward in answer, pounced and pulled him down. Now they would bond!
Carolyn was on her dinner break. As she entered the office of the GDP the woman behind the desk rose to greet her, "Hello can I help you?”
"Eve Lawson said to ask for *Alice*.”
"I am Alice Major. You must be Lieutenant Plummer. Please do take a seat, I won't be a minute.” Carolyn sank into one of the chairs and glanced round at the posters on the wall. There were pictures of Guides and Sentinels working together, hiking in the mountains, sailing, working as police officers. The Guide's in their bullet proof vests stood behind an armed Sentinel, directing him in an emergency situation.
Officer Alice Major was a small petite woman with long dark hair curled in a practical no nonsense style. The black uniform of the GDP suited her, she was poster material for the organisation. Her tone was sympathetic. “Perhaps you could tell me what the problem is, Lieutenant.”
"My ex-husband is Detective James Ellison, we divorced two years ago, he was diagnosed as a latent Sentinel. I believe now that was the reason we parted, Jim is...well… we are getting closer, but it's his Guide. Whenever we go anywhere the Guide has to come too, he's...”
"Let me just get the file up, Lieutenant Plummer." Her fingers flew across the keyboard, as she accessed the Sentinel files. "James Joseph Ellison.” She saw the note on the divorce. "According to the file, Sentinel Detective Ellison has only been bonded a very short time, less than three weeks. That means it is a very new bonding, it is to be expected.” She leaned back in her chair. "A Sentinel will be very protective of his Guide, and will want to keep him or her with him, at all times. They have this worry that the Guide will disappear, or be hurt. Gradually these emotions fade and they treat their Guides in the correct manner. I see that Detective Ellison has not been through the prescribed training courses, he attended some lectures, but nothing more. That could also help explain his reactions, he doesn't have any grounding in Guide care. Some things that seem perhaps alarming to him would be considered natural to a trained Sentinel. I will make a note on his file to have him scheduled for some training next time the courses are held.” She continued to read through the file, "Hmmm, I see he's also a Dark Sentinel. That is extremely rare…”
Carolyn added "I blame his Guide, the little hippy freak, you should see the way he's all over Jim, pawing at him. I know my husband, sorry, my ex husband, and Jim would not like that. Heaven knows what the little pervert does when Jim zones” Carolyn let the bile run from her in one go. Her resentment of Blair flaring up.
The GDP officer was thoughtful; she had heard about this Sentinel and Guide pairing, several emails had already been received from Dr. Jenson. It seemed the doctors concerns were well founded. Carolyn Plummer was merely confirming what the doctor had feared, that the Guide was corrupt and needed an adjustment.
Alice paged down the file, and then linked to the Guide file, and her face-hardened. "Blair Sandburg?" She made the name a question.
"Now the touching is something that all Guides do. It helps them control their barriers and receive the support they need from their Sentinels so they'll be able to work. The Guide, through the link they share after bonding, is able to assist the Sentinel in his or her work. But looking at his Guides file I can see that he is a rogue, and.... you may have cause to be concerned. His time in the facility was eventful, he had to have special training. But of course the tender care with which the Guides are treated appears to have worked with him and he bonded. Huh?”
"Is there a problem?”
"Yes…a few notes are down here that I will have to check on. I am pleased that you have brought this to our attention. Guide Sandburg will have to be watched for abnormal behaviour, and I will recommend that he have additional training. Now, you wanted to ask me...?"
"Does Jim have to have him all the time? I mean Eve gave me this leaflet about the Guide hostels, they seem nice enough places.” Carolyn pushed it across for the officer to see. “It looks really friendly. I mean… does he have to live in the house???”
Alice tried to reassure the other woman. “Four weeks into the bonding, yes, it would make detective Ellison feel secure. But later? No. Many Sentinels routinely leave their Guides in the hostel. There they are with their own kind and can receive all the attention they need to make their life a happy one, with low stimulation rooms with dampers to stop them overloading.” She smiled; Carolyn Plummer seemed to be listening now, it was just a matter of getting through the fear of the unknown. Alice added, "I am sure that Guide Sandburg would he quite happy there.” Then her voice took on the tone of a fellow conspirator. "I would suggest you mention it to your ex husband.” Alice lifted a hand to ward off the question she knew was coming “Don't be alarmed if he rejects it at first, they always do, but once he's settled into the bonding, he will be more open to the idea.”
"Sandburg… Officer, what exactly is the problem with him? I…”
"I am sorry, I can't tell you that. The exact details in the file of any Guide is open only to the GDP and to his Sentinel, but...." she sympathised with the woman especially since she had read the Guides file. "I do have to get a file from the other room, I won't be a minute." Alice gave a nod to the monitor, then turned and left.
Carolyn hesitated, then moved around the desk and started to read it. //I'm not really betraying the Guide's right to privacy, I'm just protecting Jim, my ex-husband and the man I secretly still love. // Carolyn's face-hardened as she read through it Blair's prior history. //I had heard some of it on the grapevine, but to see it in black and white! // “He killed his previous Sentinel and had … that's * disgusting *// She was back in her seat when Alice returned.
Her mind was spinning, that one paragraph she just read justified everything she was doing. //Jim had to be protected from Blair Sandburg//.
Jim yawned, his eyes still closed, as he reached out for his Guide, only to find an empty space. His eyes flew open, his senses automatically searching for the younger man. Satisfied, he closed them again, his Guide was near.
Blair was sitting on the floor, legs crossed as he started to meditate, his back resting against the bed. He felt a warm tingle round through his body, He did not even bother to open his eyes, he knew the feeling was Jim wrapping his senses around him. An equally warm sensation flowed through him, curling up from his stomach and through his chest, he felt owned by his Sentinel, but in a way that the GDP could never understand, and he openly embraced it, with ever fibre of his being. For several long moments neither man spoke then Jim asked. “Feel better kid?”
“Yeah!” Then realising that that had fallen well short of an answer, Blair added, “Just trying to centre myself.”
Jim was puzzled by the fact that his young Guide sounded nervous, he needed to know what the kid was frightened of. So he asked.
“Something you learned on your travels?”
“Not really, my mother taught me, she is…was, really into it.” Blair sounded sad. “Alex use to beat me if she caught me meditating, she said I did it to escape her. It would have helped her, but she…”
Jim just said two words “Teach me.”
Blair's eye grew wide, for a moment his mouth opened and closed as if he could not believe that Jim would want to do this.
“You heard me Chief, where do I start.”
“Sure man that's… wow!” He added quickly, “I didn't think you would be open to this type of thing.”
//Not before you came along//, Jim added silently to himself. “So what do I do?”
Blair patted the floor by his side. “Sit here now, you need to get comfortable.”
//A born teacher Chief, don't worry we will get you back were you belong. //
“Now I need you too relax. Then you close your eyes and focus on a scent that you know well.”
“Yours.” There was no hesitation in Jim's answer. His blue eyes fixed on Blair; the look was so intense that the younger man felt as if he was going to ignite.
“M my scent.” Blair almost stuttered.
“What's wrong Chief, I thought me being able to…” Jim came to a halt, unsure of how to phase this, whichever way he did, in his mind it sounded wrong.
“You seek my scent.”
Jim flushed, he hadn't expected this reaction from his Guide, was he doing something wrong.
Blair added quickly, “It's okay Jim and perfectly natural for a Sentinel. It's just we haven't been bonded that long. It's usually with more established pairings that you would expect to find that happening.
For a moment the Sentinel debated if to say what he felt and then with a shrug said, “Your scent. I look for it each morning when I wake, then I have to fix each of my senses on you, only then can I relax.”
For Blair is was like a piece of the puzzle fitting into place. Jim always came to him the moment he woke, he moved close, looking at him intently, and then he always touched him. Now it all made sense.
Jim continued, “And when I go to sleep, it's the last thing that I remember. I'm sorry if it makes you uneasy Blair.
The silent tears that ran down Blair's face alarmed Jim.
“Blair.” Jim reached out his hand to firmly rest on his Guide's back, then gently rubbing, giving reassurance, with touch.
Blair smiled, his voice still faulted slightly “You should have a better Guide than me, you shouldn't have to put up with all of the other things.”
Seeing the confused look on Jim's face he added with a sniff. “You shouldn't have to touch me like that.” He blushed scarlet, “The treatment and all that.” He met Jim's gaze head on.
“The medication?” Jim sighed. He thought he had made his young Guide understand. But it was clear now that words where never going to be enough.
First Alex Barnes and then the GDP, had badly damaged Blair's sense of self worth. Inside this enigmatic bundle was a man that had had the courage to stand up to the worst kind of abuse. Who, instead of taking the easy option of being a Guide, had wanted independence enough to go rogue. The young mans was a mass of insecurities. And Jim vowed he would help his Guide and friend overcome it so that when the time came, Blair Sandburg would walk into Ranier University again, with his head high, and take his proper place.
First making sure that he had the younger mans full attention, he spoke firmly but kindly. “Blair, none of that was your fault. I know you're not going to heal overnight…but you are healing.”
“Blair Sandburg, you are my Guide, Claimed and Marked, until death, and beyond.” Jim's voice deepened as he let the full flow of his emotions run freely into Blair. Then as if to prove his point he took a deep breath, his nose flaring as he brought the scent of his Guide deep into his lungs.
The intensity of Jim's expression made the breath catch in Blair's throat. He could feel the bond between them vibrate, no one had ever told him that this was what the nature of the bond was, and without realising it he leaned into the older man.
Jim began to drift into the seductive warmth that was his Guide, then * the voice * called him back to the present.
“Stay with me man. Don't zone on me.”
“I'm here chief.” He reached out and lightly stroked his Guide's face, revelling in the softness and texture of the skin; it took great will power not to lose his self in the sensory feast that was his Guide.
Almost reluctantly he asked “Now what?”
With a start Blair went back into academic mode. Moving to face the big man, Blair tugged Jim into sitting cross-legged and knelt directly in front of him. He then laid his hands on his Sentinel's knees so that they were connected. “I want you to take some deep breaths…to centre yourself.”
Jim hesitated, “Do I close my eyes?”
“Only if you want too, it's all about what makes you relax. Now deep breathes, letting them each go slowly, now another deep breath.” Blair gently coaxed him until he could see the tension gradually fade from the older man.
“Now cast out your senses, there is no need to fear, I'm right here.”
Jim's eyes, which had started to close, flew open, and his hands covered the cold hands of his Guide.
“I am here Jim, I am not going anywhere.”
The Sentinel's hands moved so that his fingers could feel the pulse running through Blair's wrists.
Only then did the Sentinel exhale slowly, as his breathing deepened. Now connected like this to his Guide, he could feel the life force flowing through Blair. Every sense dial was slowly eased up until, to the sensitised Sentinel there was no longer Jim and Blair, just one entity, Sentinel and Guide joined as one.
The tension eased from him; when Blair directed him to open his senses he followed without fear, trusting Blair to Guide him.
For Sentinel and Guide time no longer existed, there was just the two of them.
Alice Major got out of her car just as the blue and white truck of James Ellison pulled into the car park.
Blair Sandburg hopped out, and already he appeared to be talking a mile a minute. And Ellison, had a look on his face that would have surprised a lot of people in the PD, it was resigned patience.
The Sentinel was carrying a backpack, a bag of sandwiches for a local deli, and juggling a large coffee cup.
Blair was walking in front of him; to be precisely he was walking backward, trusting Jim to keep him safe as he carried on a monologue about some trip to South America.
Alice frowned, this was not right; he was taking advantage of his Sentinel, and talking openly of having fled the country, disgraceful. It appeared that if this was the tip of the iceberg, God knows what other misbehaviour the Guide was getting up to.
For Detective James Ellison the day hadn't gone well. Their suspect had escaped from the two uniforms bringing him in, and two weeks of work had gone down the drain. Ellison was getting ready to vent, and all he was looking for was a target.
The Sentinel's young Guide was making himself impossibly small behind the computer; his attempt to link had been brutally brushed away. Jim was not ready for that just yet.
Rafe and H looked up from their work and exchanged looks, Jim Ellison was pissed off, and everyone in the Bull Pen could feel it. Now he was heading for their direction, a file in his hand, he threw onto H's desk. "Keep your crap off my desk H. My desk, my files right?"
"Right!" H tried to keep his voice level under the freezing stare he was getting from the Sentinel, but he could hear it cracking.
Simon came out of his office, looked around once and frowned. "Ellison! My office, now. And bring the Guide with you.” It wasn't a request, it was an order.
Jim turned round slowly and just stared at him, the Dark Sentinel objecting to his tone, //how dare he order him around//.
Simon turned back as he noticed that Jim Ellison hadn't moved.
"You heard me Ellison. My office. NOW!”
Jim strode over, caught Blair by the scruff of his jacket, and pulled him out of the Bull Pen and to the elevator.
Inside the elevator, Blair looked up, his face showing the fear that was coiling in his stomach. "Jim, come on man, Simon wanted to talk to you.” Blair swallowed nervously. “And it won't take long.”
He was hauled up onto his toes and given a shake. The Dark Sentinel's eyes burning through him, “Did I tell you to talk Guide?” The doors opened and Shelley, one of the civilian workers about to enter the lift, took one look and decided to wait for the next.
Blair was frog marched to the truck; the door was yanked open as if it had offended the Sentinel, and he was more or less tossed in. The pain flared through him, and he pulled himself into the seat trying to make his self as small as possible.
The Sentinel climbed into the driver's seat, and then just stared ahead of him. Then suddenly he hammered the driving wheel and let out a long pent up breath. His language was colourful to say the least. He shook his head in frustration, "Blair, what the hell happened in there?”
When he didn't get an answer he looked at this Guide, and then swore again. Blair was pulled in on himself and Jim tasted self-loathing as he saw what he had done to his Guide.
He reached out and pulled his Guide to him. Realising that he was holding too tight, bruising the flesh under the layered clothing, he let go and allowed Blair to pull back. All he could do now was apologies and hope that it would be enough.
"Blair, I am sorry kid. You have to know I wouldn't hurt you. I…" He ran a hand through his short hair. "What the hell happened?”
"Reaction.” Blair said the word softly, hesitantly, but the academic was cutting in. "The GDP officer, the one that got into the elevator, she more or less said that you could not control your own Guide. The Dark Sentinel didn't like it, and you reacted. Then when Captain Banks ordered you to his office, it was the last straw, and by the way big guy, your going to have to apologies to Captain Banks about that.”
"It was weird Chief. I could not get it out of my head, who the hell was he to tell me what to do.”
"Okay Darwin, mind explaining.”
"Darwin", Blair's eyes widened, this was a new nickname from his Sentinel. "Er… well, you're a Sentinel, and Sentinels have a very status conscious pecking order. And being a Dark Sentinel to boot, you don't exactly fit in, you're a throw back.”
"As in caveman, Guide?" There was a distinct tone of annoyance in Jim's voice.
"Sentinel. I.... I p please.”
Immediately Jim kicked himself. He reached out and caught his Guide, feeling Blair tense, his head going down, the flinch, waiting for the first blow. "For God's sake Blair, I am not going to hurt you! Okay! You know that.” Fitting action to words, he pulled Blair into his lap the best he could, holding him close, his hands petting and stroking his Guide, "Link Chief.”
Jim felt the tug on the back of his mind, and he could feel Blair there, edging in slowly, then gradually filling his mind. With a sigh he felt complete again. With Blair held against him, and linked mentally and physically, his world was finally at peace. Words now where only backup, amplified by the link like this, no half-truths could be uttered without the other knowing straight away.
“We okay with this chief?”
The nod and smile that welcomed his words where enough to tell him yes.
Captain Simon Bank's face clouded over, he had seen Jim Ellison's reaction, and he turned his attention to the cause of it all. //Blair Sandburg. This was all his fault. The kid hadn't learned his place, and he had done this to Jim, turned him into some sort of prowling animal, that only he could control. But he wasn't going to do it, because it gave him power over Jim Ellison. This was going to stop now//. He did not want to see the kid treated as a slave; it cut to his very soul to allow that to happen. But if in the long run it came down to Blair Sandburg or James Ellison, he knew whose well being was his priority.
Simon took a deep breath and flipped open his diary, ran a finger down the list of names until it stopped at J, and then he began to dial.
In the truck now, the connection was not enough for Jim, he needed to bond with his Guide, he tried to pull Blair deeper.
Firmly Blair pushed back shutting the older man out. Not enough to panic the newly bonded Sentinel into thinking that he was refusing to bond, but enough to make him pause.
“The Sentinel suite Jim, then I am all yours.” Blair sent soothing and comforting emotions that told of his commitment to the bonding, that he would never leave him. Only then did Blair catch Jim's hand, and give it a tug.
Reluctantly, Jim released his hold and allowed Blair to take him to the elevator. Once the doors closed Blair had his hands full, as he was pinned to the wall of the car, his Sentinel was all over him. The need to bond was flaring again. Blair thanked his lucky stars that for once the car got to the floor without stopping. Once the door opened, Blair was dragged along to the Sentinel suite; the doctor was all but pushed out of the way in the haste to bond. Then the locks where slammed into place. When Jim turned, it was the Dark Sentinel that closed on the young Guide. Blair held his ground, no matter what form Jim took; he knew that the man would never allow him to be hurt.
“Sentinel, claim your Guide.” Four words, but to a Sentinel in the heat of bonding they were the sweetest of all. The Guide, ready and willing to bond, nothing more mattered at that moment.
The returned phone call came through to the office of Simon Banks thirty minters later. At least Dr. Amy Jenson hadn't gloated over being right, she just came straight down to the problem in hand.
“Simon, it's Amy. Now I can understand your worries concerning Guide Sandburg, what happened before was unfortunately...” She curbed what she was going to add, knowing instinctively that Simon would protest. After all she didn't want to alienate the man, he had a soft heart, and like all civilians didn't understand what was best for a Guide.
“I have spoken to Captain Mason. He has someone who can help Sentinel Ellison with his Guide problems, which are mostly stemming from his untrained state. The trainer is a Sentinel. He has a very good reputation, and would certainly be able to put Guide Sandburg through his paces. And of course it would not harm Sentinel Ellison to be parted from his Guide for a few hours a day. It's early days and it wouldn't hurt him to see that although he needs Sandburg, he can function without him.”
Amy paused "It's such a shame he isn't trained, but if he attends the lectures at the beginning of next term it will help. But in the mean time we need to deal with Guide Sandburg.”
In front of her on the desk was a red flagged file marked Blair Jacob Sandburg. In it was a carefully documented list of complaints, along with reports from his training officers dating right back to his time as a Training Guide. Her mouth was in a tight line of disgust; there was no way a Dark Sentinel should have been allowed to bond with this degenerate. What other way was there to describe him? She did not allow any of her distaste to show and when she spoke her voice was warm and full of concern for Simon's problem. //Finally he's seeing things my way//.
"I am pleased you came to me Simon, you're not the only one who has raised a question mark against Sandburg. Officer Major reported that Lieutenant Plummer is also concerned about the Guide and his unnatural influence over her ex husband. Officer Major has also received several other members of the PD in her office, all with the same concerns. As you can see, we need to nip this in the bud, now, before he can corrupt Sentinel Ellison.”
“What form did their concerns take?” //Dear god have I been that blind about the kid//.
"I can't really tell you what they said Simon, but they have raised serious matters. The least of which is his failure to show the correct respect to his Sentinel, not kneeling.”
"I told him not to do that.”
"Simon, Simon. You mean well, but he has to show respect, he's been seen talking to people without permission, it's just not right.”
“I honestly can't see the harm.”
“By allowing him to do that he is not focused on his Sentinel, his mind is wandering, what if Jim Ellison had zoned. Some of the rules seem draconian, but they are there for a reason. And that is the good of the Sentinel.”
“I just don't want to see him hurt.”
“Simon, please be reassured, a Guide is a unique resource and we would never do anything to endanger that. Believe me, when you see him after training, he will be a better Guide for it. So please don't worry, we will see to him.”
Her voice became more business like. "Now we will need to separate him from his Sentinel. After what happened today when Sentinel Ellison ignored your order. Plus what the doctor has told me.”
“Amy what are you talking about?”
“I hoped to hide it from you Simon. But after Jim rushed out…”, she deliberately changed from Sentinel Ellison to Jim, making it appear that he was her friend as well. “He was seen in the garage with his Guide. It appears that Sandburg tried to bond with him in the front of the vehicle, in front of the CCTV camera. An exhibitionist of the worse kind. Then when Jim took him to the bonding suite…”, she trailed off again.
“Amy please, I need to know.” The concern from Simon caused the woman's mouth to turn up in a grin, she had him now. When she was finished Simon Banks would whole-heartedly embrace the GDP programme and Sandburg would be back in the fold. Over the telephone she was playing him like a pro.
“He refused to bond until he had Jim begging for it. Only then did he allow him access to him, his behaviour was unconscionable. I am so sorry Simon, but we will help them both.”
“I never realised it had gone that far.” Simon was torn, he didn't want to see the kid distressed. But if Sandburg was manipulating Jim, whether the kid was doing it deliberately or not, he could not allow Jim to become so obsessed to the point where it broke down his ability to work. But the kid had to learn discipline if he was going to be an asset to Jim, and not a liability that would get him killed. //What harm could a few lessons do the kid. He might learn something. Damn, he didn't like to do this but what harm could a few lessons be. And since Wilson and his cronies where out of the way, the kid would be safe. He could not see his friend and detective like this, an animal protecting its young. //But then why did it feel as if he had just accepted 30 pieces of silver?//
Sensing that she had won the battle, Amy now went in for the kill. “I think we can take it that Jim won't listen to anyone, about letting us take Sandburg for training. So this first separation will have to be done with a certain amount of controlled force, Sandburg has a history of running. Now this is what I suggest...”
Simon put the phone down twenty minters later; the deed was done and the plans had now been put in motion. He lit a cigar and took one pull only to stab it out, one of his small pleasures, yet now he could get no enjoyment from it.
The moment the truck pulled into the underground garage of the PD, Blair detected the increase in tension in his Sentinel. Jim had decided to come in early to get a start on his paperwork, but the aggression was bubbling just below the surface.
In the elevator, Blair leaned forward and pressed the button for floor nine, meeting Jim's gaze levelly he explained, “We need to bond now, trust me on this.”
The younger mans mouth dropped, it was said with such certainty.
Jim reached and with the tip of his finger pushed Blair's mouth closed with a smile, added, “Just calling it as I see it chief.”
When they came off the elevator Blair immediately slid into place behind his Sentinel, the perfect Guide. His hand resting on the powerful forearm flexed as he saw the GDP Doctor. As Jim stopped Blair eased down onto his knees, his shoulder pressed against Jim's hip, his head down and hands crossed behind his back.
Blair tried to keep Jim calm; the man was hovering on the edge of Blessed Protector mode.
The GDP Doctor, Ken Allison, got up when he saw the Sentinel and Guide enter the Sentinel suite, “Ah, Sentinel Ellison, can I help you?”
He ignored Blair for the moment.
“The bonding suite, is it vacant?” Jim had to make a conscious effort to keep his voice level, the fear rolling off his Guide was becoming hard to ignore. He dropped his hand down and rubbed the back of Blair's neck to try and reassure the smaller man.
“Yes, is there a problem Sentinel?” For the first time he looked at the young Guide. He made a 'huh' noise as he saw the multi-coloured clothing, the Guide was dressed like some kind of hippy wanna-be, a disgrace to his calling. If there was a problem it usually rested with the Guide, especially with this one, he knew Sandburg's history. He had been told by Dr, Jenson to document the rogue Guide's actions, given Ellison's elite Dark Sentinel status.
“None, I just need to bond.” There was a slight pause as he added with a warning tone, “Or do you have a problem with that?”
“Of course not Sentinel Ellison.” The doctor had noted the flare of aggression in the man.
Blair was caught hold of, firmly tugged to his feet, and manhandled into the bonding suit, the door firmly locked behind them.
Jim paused and then crossed and looked right into the lens of the surveillance camera. “This is private, you're not invited.” He reached up and unhooked the feed.
When he turned back Blair was seated on the bonding platform his eyes fixed on his Sentinel's face. The need to bond burned in Jim's eyes, and ignited the need in the Guide, flaring through him like wild fire. Each of them was quivering with the force of their bond.
The Sentinel removed his jacket and gun and placed them on the floor out of the way. He loomed over his Guide, feeling the primitive emotions of possessiveness and ownership run through him like a drug.
Blair reached up towards him, his whole body language showing that he craved the touch of his Sentinel, when Jim's larger hand encircled the slender hand of his Guide, he felt Blair lower his barriers in total submission of a Guide to the Alpha Sentinel.
All that he needed was at his feet… his Guide ready and willing to bond. The need was vibrating through his young Guide, turning Blair's whole body into a tuning fork. It heightened his pheromones, bringing out the sharp tangs of the linkage scent.
Jim moved quickly forward, instinct governing his actions, pushing Blair down onto his back.
Blair reached up and catching Jim's shirt pulled him down, “Sentinel claim your Guide” his voice was Sentinel soft but urgent.
For all his strength, Jim treated him like the most rare of treasures. Blair sighed softly at the light touches, the use of controlled strength, as he was eased into place. But this was no Sentinel thinking only of his own needs, he was being fussed over, making sure he was comfortable, and as he connected he was flooded by the warmth and depth of emotions which this very private man opened up to him.
Later, as Jim dozed deep in the mellow influence of the bond, Blair cradled him, and began to think over what he had to do. He had to make sure that the same burst of aggression that Jim had shown in the Bullpen did not happen again.
The behaviour had been pure Alpha Male Sentinel; only the restraints that had been pounded into the man that was James Ellison through his time in the military had stopped him tearing into his own Captain. The James Ellison part of his Sentinel had accepted his Captain's authority, but the Dark Sentinel had fought against it. It only obeyed the law of the jungle, the alpha did not kneel to the beta, and that was how the Dark Sentinel saw the Captain.
As he relived the incident he felt his heart beat faster as he wondered if the incident had been reported back to the GDP as an example of his inability to direct his Sentinel. //Would Simon Bank's have done that too him? Reported him to the GDP. // He knew that the Captain disliked him. The normal's always disliked them; empath's were seen as emotional vampires, weak and needy, and corrupting. He reminded himself to keep his head down. // If they did not see him or hear him, they would not tell the GDP. Then there would just be Guide and Sentinel, and Jim would keep him safe. //
From his office Simon watched the Sentinel and Guide pairing, and he knew that he was doing the right thing. Jim, the lone wolf, was fussing over Sandburg. //This was not right, he was empowering the Guide and that could never happen at the expense of his friend. // Now it seemed that everything Amy has said was coming true right in front of his very eyes.
He turned one of the files over, and then he nodded to himself. // The ideal one, the Fitzgerald case. // The FBI had a related case and someone had to go and see the paperwork, and Jim Ellison was ideal. // Also he could spin a tale that the FBI would exclude the kid from the building or make him stay in an isolated Guide room, that would be enough for Jim to make Blair stay put. //
Simon walked out, immediately Jim turned with a half grin. The exchange was short and the Sentinel was not happy when he left, but Blair remained behind. The kid seemed to pull himself down, making him seem smaller.
“Sandburg, my office now.”
Blair reached for his backpack, and took it along with him; Simon waved him to a seat, noticing how the Guide put it carefully down near his feet, with a soft pat
. “That bag you always have it with you, it's special isn't it?”
Blair tried to pull back and then stopped himself, “My mother bought it for me when I first started at Ranier, she doesn't believe in animals being killed for leather, but she saved up to get it for me.”
Looking past the smaller man, Simon say the two GDP guards enter the now almost deserted bullpen. The Guide looked so young and vulnerable like this, Simon pushed his emotions down; this had to be done.
Blair was puzzled // Why had Captain Banks called him in just to ask him about his bag? // Covertly he lowered his barriers to try and get a reading on the gruff Captain. His eyes suddenly opened wide, he was nearly swamped by regret, deep regret. “Guide Blair Sandburg.” The words were like a sentence being given out by a hanging judge.
Blair turned and was out of the chair and round the desk trying to take refuge behind Simon, his fingers digging painfully into the larger man's shoulder.
Senior Guard, Ward, moved towards Blair as his partner took up position by the door, blocking his escape. Ward ignored Simon Banks, this was GDP business and nothing to do with the Captain. “Guide Sandburg, kneel and await your detention.”
“N n n oo.” Blair eyes were large. His voice was shaking. “Captain B Banks p p please.” His fingers gripped so tight that it was almost bruising.
Senior Guard Ward ignored Blair, “Captain Banks thank your for your help in this matter, my apologies for any distress, just believe that it is for his own good that we do this.”
Ward had been careful to centre his emotions before entering the bullpen, he had read Sandburg's file, and briefed his men on the rogue Guide. // He couldn't allow it to seep through to the Guide, no matter what he felt about this one, he could not allow it to show. He was a professional. //
Ward saw Cadet David Lash's face. The look of expectation at leashing the Guide was visible. The man was older than the usual cadets, intelligent, there was just something that Ward saw in him that made him uneasy. The man was itching to use the leash on Sandburg, so God knew what he was broadcasting to the Guide.
Ward could see that Sandburg was going to make a run for it and that would do no one any good. A direct appeal to the Guide might help, making him see reason.
“Guide! For the sake of your Sentinel, you either come with me now, or I will leash you. Just think of the disgrace to Sentinel Ellison, that his Guide had to be removed, leashed like a wild animal.”
Blair pulled himself up. // For Jim, he could do this. // His hand was shaking badly as he reached up to push his hair back out of his eyes, he clenched his fist to kill the shake, and then with a steadying breath, he stepped forward.
Ward came forward to meet him immediately closing the distance between. “Your barriers Guide, what is their status?”
With that answer Ward took a firm hold on the Blair's arm. “This way Guide.
Simon found that he couldn't look at Blair as he was being taken away, the fear in the blue eyes cut right through him. But he felt he had to warn them, “If you hurt him...”
But before he could finish Ward answered, “Captain Banks, we are not in the practice of hurting a Guide for the sake of it. He is merely going to have the training he should have had. Sentinel Trainer Hudson has had a lot of experience with rogues.”
The Hispanic guard, who had blocked the doorway, took Blair's other arm. He spoke softly, “Now if you're a good Guide, we won't have to leash you, so are you going to behave.”
The guard tightened his grip.
“Yes Sir.” Blair kept his head down, showing the right degree of submissiveness to the guards. It must have worked, because the grip slackened slightly.
Blair had to fight the urge to run, he kept focusing on Jim, the need to be strong for him, he could not disgrace his Sentinel.
The black GDP van was in the underground car park. Two GDP Officers got out of the front of the vehicle and walked round, not even bothering to look at Blair. He was nothing, he did not exist.
“Any trouble Ted?” The taller of the two asked. As he tossed his cigarette onto the floor and ground it out.
”None Lieutenant Carter. He's been a good Guide.” He patted Blair's arm as if he was a pet dog and not a person.
Lieutenant Thomas Carter allowed his distaste for Blair to show.
“You will get in the van, then Guide, onto your belly. You will be leashed, until it is the Sentinel Training Officers pleasure that you are released.”
“Jim, Jim said.” Blair started to try and explain.
“Did you speak Guide”, David Lash hit Blair hard across the back of his head. “Guides don't speak until they are asked too. What did I say?”
Blair's mouth opened, but he stopped himself in time, he had fallen for that before, and had been beaten worse as an example.
Ward snapped at Lash, “Cadet! You don't touch the Guide, ever, or I'll have your ass in a sling.”
Carter cut across him, “Where as I agree with you Senior Guard, I do think that Cadet Lash should be credited with showing the right response, even if he did over step his authority.”
Lash's face took an almost sly look.
“Get him in the van Sentinel Trainer Hudson is waiting, we will deal with Sentinel Ellison.”
Simon moved to the door of his office, and glanced across at his visitor's. Two GDP officers, they had the job of explaining what has happened to Jim Ellison. The Captain shook his head. // Jim was not going to like this, and the last thing he needed now was a pre-Sandburg Ellison on the warpath//.
The Captain lit one of his cigars, needing something to keep him calm. He had argued that he should speak to Jim on his own, that maybe he could make his stubborn headed friend see the need for Blair to complete his training, that it would be in the kids own interest.
But Officers Carter and Danvers had beaten him down.
Simon had been surprised to see that Danvers was a Guide. The man did not show any of the guide manners that Blair was expected too, and in fact Carter openly referred to him as an equal in their working partnership.
“What's he doing here, where is his Sentinel?” Simon demanded.
“My Sentinel died last year, in a car accident Captain. I am waiting for a new Sentinel, and in the meantime I help with the training of Guides. Since Sentinel Ellison will be upset by the loss of his own Guide, I will be able to offer him solace until Sandburg is returned.”
“You would bond with him.” Simon could not help the distaste to show, he could barely put up with the idea of Sandburg bonding, but this man, this stranger. He knew it was not logical, but it just felt wrong.
“No Captain, we would not bond, but I can keep Sentinel Ellison balanced, until Sandburg is returned.” Simon picked up on the body language from the GDP Guide Officer; there was no feeling of Guide solidarity here. Blair was a rogue and as far as this GDP Guide was concerned a lesser being. // Where the hell did it all go wrong? //
Carter's voice dropped to a lower soothing note. "You did everything correctly, I have read his file, and although it's tragic what Wilson did, he merely fell pry to the deprived nature of.....”
At that point Simon jumped in, his anger coming to the fore, he was not going to let that go by. They might be GDP, but he had dealt with rape and abuse victims, and he was not going to let them blame Blair Sandburg for that.
“Wait up there, Wilson raped that kid, and was going to sell his time to visiting clients, that is a victim mister!” Simon's tone was the one that made the detectives in the PD quake in their boots.
"My apologies.” Carter put in quickly, but in that same sickly sweet soothing tone that was eating away at Simon's self control. He was preaching the creed of the GDP as if it was written in stone. Simon was beginning to have second thoughts. // Did I do the right thing? //
At that moment Simon saw Jim Ellison enter the Bullpen; that was a moot point now, it was already too late.
Simon went to the door and barked.
“Ellison, my office now.” The Sentinel had paused to look round for his Guide, clearly worried when he couldn't see him in his usual place. But command was ingrained in him, and he crossed to his captain's office.
Jim stopped just inside the door and his eyes burned into the two men, in the GDP uniforms. His tone was icy, vintage Ellison “What are they doing here?” Immediately the Dark Sentinel began to come forward as he sensed a threat to his Guide. And with his Guide absent he barely held the feral persona in check.
"Sit down Jim. We need to talk.” Simon noticed the way Ellison's head tilted slightly, the listening position he recognised from his Sentinel 101.
"What's wrong Simon, your hearts pounding like a drum?” His eyes seemed to bore through the Captain.
Carter tried to interrupt the Sentinel, he rose and offered his hand, “Officer Carter, and this is GDP Guide Officer Danvers, from the Training Branch of the GDP.”
Jim looked the men up and down, and ignored them completely, they where no importance to him, “I have nothing to talk to you about." he was barely civil.
But Carter had dealt with Sentinels before and wasn't going to let this untrained one beat him. "Sentinel Ellison, your Captain asked us to come, because he's worried about you.”
“Sure and you have only my best interest at heart, go find a rock and crawl under it.” The man's tone was making the Sentinels skin creep. His attention was on his Captain. "What's this about Simon?”
Before the Captain could answer Carter tried again. "It's alright Sentinel, nothing to be alarmed about, we just need to chat about some options, and…”
Jim turned on them, “Some options, right, so why don't you cut the crap and one of you tell me what the fuck is going on here.”
//Great Jim. Very diplomatic. // Simon shook his head and was about to speak when the so far silent Danvers shot Simon a look to keep quiet. "Your Captain was concerned about your Guide, *Blair Sandburg*.”
At the mention of his Guides name, Jim began to bristle; he was barely keeping the Dark Sentinel under control now.
Simon took command of the situation before Jim went onto a full vent and they would be left to pick up body parts. "I spoke to Dr. Jenson about Blair. She…”
"That bitch! Simon, I can't believe you would do that.”
He moved forward without even realising he had done it.
"It's for your own good Jim. For Gods sake man I was concerned about you. Blair has you wrapped around his little finger. They're only going to take Blair away for...”
"Blair!" Jim twisted, his Sentinel eyes searching for his Guide. He pushed his senses out, and found no familiar heart beat in the building. Panic began to set in; he pushed his senses out further, desperation fuelling him. Then he fell into the void as he overloaded.
Simon caught he friend's arm. He knew he could not ease him out of the zone. He did the only thing he could, hit him, hard, right across the face. The crack of the blow rang out like a gun shot.
"CAPTAIN NO!” Danvers yelled the warning, but it was too late.
Jim staggered, it was as if his whole body was on fire, he gave a hard push, and Simon fell back into his desk. Officer Danvers tried to block the irate detective's way, and was sent flying. He might be a Guide, but he wasn't THE Guide.
“Jim!” Simon yelled after his friend as the Sentinel rushed out of the bullpen, they must have taken Blair down to the garage.
Carolyn Plummer turned into the car park and saw her ex-husband; he was clearly in an aggravated state, searching for something. Concerned, she went over to him.
"Jimmy?" He turned to see Carolyn standing there.
"Those GDP bastards have snatched Blair." It was said with an almost inhuman snarl.
She had only seen this anger once before, when her sister Julies was beaten by her boyfriend when she was pregnant, and she had nearly lost her sister and the baby. The hot fury had been one thing, but this ice cold rage was different, it had been the only time she had been truly frightened of Jim.
"We can get him back Jim, they won't hurt him.” She suddenly realised that Jim needed her. Not her petty jealousy and insecurities, but her strength. And if Jim needed Blair Sandburg, she would help him get him.
Danvers, Carter and Simon, arrived just then.
"Jim." Simons voice was pitched carefully. But the breath caught in his throat as the detective turned toward him, this was a man he didn't know. At that moment, the dangerous Black Ops Ranger had found it's perfect partner in the deadly Dark Sentinel.
The Dark Sentinel's head turned, and he saw the Panther come out of the wall; the large cat snarled its anger, ears flat against its skull. Then it ran, leapt, and Jim's body was thrown back against the police car. Carolyn caught his arm and gasped, she had felt an electric charge run through him.
The Dark Sentinel stalked forward, all he wanted was the answer to one question, and they were going to give it to him.
"My Guide… you will tell me where he is, NOW.”
Simon blocked him, a last ditch effort to calm Jim and the Dark Sentinel down. “They're not going to hurt him Jim. All they are doing is separating you for a few hours each day while he completes his training. Amy said you need this time, to adjust the..." He trailed off.
Jim and the Dark Sentinel were not listening. // That wasn't the answer he wanted. // Only the inbuilt respect for his Captain and friend stopped the Sentinel him from putting Banks down for this betrayal.
"Jim this is a normal practice.” But even as he said it, he knew the truth, he had been conned into betraying his friend. A sick feeling flooded through him, he had to put this right.
"Simon, They. Screwed. You." Four words, but Jims tone was like ice. He brushed past his Captain and his hand lashed out catching Danvers, pulling him off the floor. This was full-blown Blessed Protector mode, and then some.
Danvers did not struggle, he was a Guide and this was territory he knew. “Sentinel, this is perfectly normal, let me help you. I can make you relax if you'll let me.” He put a hand flat on Jim's chest, and the other rose to stroke the Sentinel's shoulder.
“Touch me again Guide, and I'll break every bone in your hand. Keep your lousy paws off me.” Jim shook Danvers violently, “Now answer my question.”
Danvers hand dropped away, the power of this Sentinel had ripped through his carefully controlled barriers as if they where tissue paper. The man could put him into empathic shock. // Who, no…WHAT the hell is this guy? //
Carter cut in, his words tumbling over each other. This was way out of control. All he could do was get Sentinel and Guide back together as quickly as possible. “Cadet Training Facility 9, it's at Applegate. They took him there.”
Cadet Training Facility 9
Blair kept tugging against the leash they had put on him in the van as it had pulled away from the PD. Laid out, face down on the floor in the darkened van at the feet of Cadet Lash, he had no idea where they were going.
Lash leaned down running a rough hand over his head and upper body, then took a hard hold on his hair and pulled Blair's head back.
“I know all about you, you filthy little pervert. This is going to be fun. Sentinel Hudson, he knows how to put you through your paces, what do you say to that Guide.”
Blair refused to answer. Lash angrily kicked out, his foot thudding into the lashed Guide's ribs. Blair bit down hard on his lip, he was not going to give the Cadet the satisfaction of hearing him cry out.
“Didn't you hear me Guide?” Lash's voice started to raise. His foot stamped down on Blair's thigh when Blair refused to answer.
There was a bang as the window between the cab and the van opened.
“You okay in there Lash?” Ward sounded suspicious, and shot his partner a look. “Carlos, pull over. I'm going to ride in the back.”
Ward quickly changed places, almost pulling Lash out and pushing him to the passenger door of the van. Once he was inside, Ward hit the side of the van to let them continue their journey. Immediately he knelt down and ran a hand over Blair's body, when he saw the foot print on the clothing. “Damn.”
“Easy kid, we're nearly there, no one is going to hurt you. Lash is going on report for this, no one harms a Guide on my watch.”
The van went into the underground parking. It would be better that way. The civ's wouldn't see the Guide being taken in. They got too emotional about things they did not understand.
Ward manhandled Blair out of the van, careful not to let the smaller Guide fall. Leashed like this, Sandburg would have been unable to stop himself from taking a bad fall onto the concrete.
With a firm grip Ted Ward, escorted his charge to the elevator, then the first floor. The leash wrap made Blair keep his head down, and did not give him any play to lift it enough to see where he was going.
He was tugged to a halt in an office; Ward picked up the clipboard and signed Blair in. The sound and buzz of computers and the ordinary office chat went on around them. Phones rang nearby.
“Senior Guard Ward, Sentinel Prime Hudson is in the training Hall. Prepare the Guide for instruction.” The woman seemed almost bored by it all.
Ward gave Blair a tug.
“Where are you going Senior Guard? I said to prepare the Guide for instruction.”
“ Guide Officer Day, I was just going to take him to the changing room.”
“You can do it here Ward, it's not as if he a blushing virgin. is it? He's a rogue, privacy is something to be earned… and he has not earned it yet.”
“Guide Officer .?”
“You heard me, Sentinel Prime Hudson doesn't like to be kept waiting, so strip him, now.”
Blair tried to pull back as he felt a hand on his wrists and another on his throat.
“Easy kid, no one here is going to hurt you like that, you're perfectly safe with us, isn't he Carlo.”
The smaller Hispanic guard nodded, “Sure, this is for your own good kid, you have to toe the line.” Blair dipped his barriers enough and for a moment the remembered terror eased. Neither of these guards had carnal emotions, not like Wilson and his crew. They where doing this because it was their job and nothing more.
They worked quickly, and tried to hide him from the view of the people in the office, as he was stripped. Then the leash was put back on again. Ward gave him a pull to get him walking, and steered him round the desks, he snapped at the GDP gawking office workers, “Don't you have work to do?”
Embarrassed, some of them looked away. Through his touch with the young Guide he could feel the man shiver, with humiliation and fear.
“A real bitch, isn't she Ted?” Carlos said.
“The worst kind of bitch, one with power.”
Blair was shepherded into the training room; even without looking he knew there was another Sentinel there, a bonded one, by the vibes. He was forced down into a kneeling position and managed to just barely lift his head. He saw the female Guide Officer standing in front of him. She wore the black uniform of a GDP Guide, her pretty face twisted in a look of total disgust at him. He knew she was the one from the office. He looked past her and upwards, and saw the gallery. GDP Cadets sat there, his barriers flexed and he was nearly swamped by the excitement he could feel coming off them.
"Who told you to look up Guide?" The voice came from behind him, all business like, and a hard hand pushed him between the shoulder blades face first onto the floor.
Blair just managed to twist to avoid falling flat on his face. He found himself looking up the long length of the GDP Sentinel. Judging by the number and type of Training flashes on his uniform, for a rogue Guide…this would be a Sentinel from hell.
The Sentinel was wearing a lightweight headset so that his words where not lost on the cadets. The Sentinel was walking round Blair as if he was an interesting specimen.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is a rogue Guide, you are very lucky to be able to witness a training session. First off, you may find some of what you see upsetting. That is natural, but those of you who wish to enter the field of training must understand that it is for the good of the Guide. The old maxim of being cruel to be kind is very much alive here. First we loosen the leash but do not remove it. This will allow him freedom of movement, while at the same time the weight of it; its presence, reminds him of his status. If he doesn't respond to the training, then the leash is carefully tightened.” He nodded to the two guards Ted and Carlos; they expertly flipped Blair over and slackened it off.
“We now have to isolate the Guide, you may have noticed that the temperature in this room is down by more than 10 degrees lower that that in the main facility, this is by design.”
“On arrival the Guide was stripped naked, this is a way of making him aware of his position, that he is nothing. If during the course of the session he makes progress, then an article of clothing will be given as a reward. This is an incentive for him to obey. The carrot or the whip. This session is scheduled to last for the next four hours, during that time the Guide will be either on his knees, his belly or in the extreme position, the cold will start to sap his energy, and even the most rebellious Guide will start to become fatigued and then will start to give in. Then progress will have been made”
Now the Sentinel turned his attention back to Blair, the shivering had started as the cold air cut across his skin. Hudson nodded in satisfaction, it was working.
“The second thing to remember is not to address the Guide by name, the moment he entered the facility he became only the Guide.” The GDP Guide moved forward and tugged the leash none too gently to get Blair's attention as her Sentinel ordered.
"Show your respect Guide to the Sentinel Prime of Cascade. Captain Mark Hudson.”
Deep within him something stirred, Blair should have gone straight to his knees. But a voice was screaming at him that this man was not the Sentinel Prime, he was a pretender, unworthy of the title. In the weeks since his bonding, Jim had nurtured his self worth, told him over and over that he was a person, not a pet.
The old Blair Sandburg, cut in // I've been the youngest student and Teaching Assistant at the University. I've been picked on all me life because of my nomadic life style. I'm always the new boy, the hippy wanna be. And I've always fought back. Verbally and sometime even physically had a go at the bastards. There was no way I am ever going to kneel down to some bullies then, no matter what they do to me in the end. And I am sure as hell not starting now. I am not going to be a lab rat for this guy's Cadet lecture.
Hudson waited, with a snort he reached down and caught a large fistful of Blair's long hair, and pulled him up from where he was laid on his side. Instinctively, Blair caught at the Sentinel's wrist; the man shook him like a terrier with a rat, and threw him, forward onto his stomach. “Belly Guide.”
Blair's hands just managed to brace him to avoid his face hitting the floor again; rolling onto his side he kicked out as the Sentinel tried to grab him. "You're not my Sentinel.” He snapped the words out.
Ted Ward moved quickly, his foot coming down hard on the middle of Blair's back, his whole weight grinding the naked Guide into the floor. Ward and Carlos took over handling the struggling Guide, dragging him forward onto his stomach.
And then Sentinel Hudson pulled the leash to its tightest setting.
Blair had to bite his tongue to stop crying out in pain. The Training Sentinel wanted to hear him cry out, but finally it was wrenched out of him.
Hudson straighten up, leaving Blair leashed in so tightly he was having trouble breathing. The Sentinel was monitoring the Guide's vitals as he spoke to the gallery.
“That Class is the typical reaction of a rogue Guide, you can see how wilful he is, not recognising the superiority of the GDP. Now I would not suggest leaving the Guide in this position for long, his breathing is laboured by the position he is in.”
Hudson saw one of the Cadet put her hand up, “Yes, Cadet Bahn what would you like to ask?”
“How long would you keep him like this?”
“Twenty minutes at the most. If you look in your manual under Guide Wraps, you will see that this is one of the extreme punishment wraps. I personally would not suggest that you use it, unless you are under supervision.
Turning back to the matter in hand he ordered, “Senior Guard Ward, slacken the leash.”
Ward stepped forward again, and pulled the leash open, Blair slumped sideways trying to pull in lung fulls of air.
"Working position Guide.” Sentinel Hudson growled the order near Blair's ear. When Blair was slow, Hudson's hand latched onto the leash collar and pulled him back to keeling, then the collar was twisted so the collar pressed against the main artery in the throat. Blair's world greyed out. Hudson's words to the watching Cadets were lost as the Sentinel released his hold and he was allowed to sink forward. A hard clip to his head brought him back to the present, and he pulled his body into the correct stance.
Hudson's words now came back, “This Guide has long hair. If he was in the GDP facility we would cut his hair back to a buzz cut. Again this is a way of taking his individuality away from him. But since he is the property of Sentinel Ellison, that would be over stepping the bounds.” He threw a band in front of Blair.
"Tie that back now.”
Blair hurriedly picked the tie up, he had to struggle with his limited movement to pull his hair back in a tight ponytail, then returned to the working position, letting his head drop low in the posture of total submission.
The Training Sentinel, was talking as if he didn't exist, commenting to his own Guide. "Totally corrupt, Mary. I pity his Sentinel. He's undisciplined, and he prostituted his way around the facility.” Then Hudson directed his comments to Blair "And your poor Sentinel believed your stories. I am surprised he didn't throw you out. Dr Jenson told me what you have been up to Guide, back to your filthy little ways of trying to corrupt your own Sentinel.”
The female GDP Guide shook her head. “A pitiful creature Sentinel Prime, it's his kind that pollute the good name of the Guide Corp.”
Jim's words cut through the bile the Sentinel and Guide were spewing at him. His head came up, he didn't care what the Sentinel did. // Well, maybe he would later, but now. // The anger cut through him, and it the old Blair Sandburg that answered, not the abused Guide. "I was the victim, you bastard, not them.”
Hudson's face hardened. // How dare this Guide speak to him, the Sentinel Prime, in that way. // His hand lashed out, anger making the blow more powerful than he would have thrown normally. It smashed into Blair's head and put him down, his head cracking on the floor. For a moment his eyesight greyed out and he was struggling to open them.
"What was it Guide? You called rape because they didn't pay you enough." He laughed, his anger making him cruel. His head turned to his Guide at her quick intake of breath, and he clapped down on his anger. // God, had I really just said that? //
He had to cover up, the loss of temper this early in the session was inexcusable. “Mary, lower his barriers.”
He turned to the gallery of watching cadets, “My apologies that you had to see and hear that. With a rogue like this, sometimes the gentle and firm approach is not enough. They have to have the truths of their degenerate conduct pointed out in, I am sorry to say, the most crude of terms.” Now my Guide Officer Day will inject the Guide with the drug V149. It will bring his barriers down in at least 10 minutes. The Guide will then be struggling to block out emotions.
“Yes, Cadet Bahn?” Hudson's voice was warm as he saw the young Cadet put her hand up again. She had real promise.
“What if he overloads Sir?”
“Once the barriers are down, a normal Guide would have at least one to two hours before they start to overload. You have all done the math, as you will note the session will not be over when that happens At that time the Guide will have to accept the shielding of the only Sentinel present, myself.
That privilege he will have to earn, otherwise, he will overload.” Hudson added quickly, “Please do not be distressed, he won't be in any danger, once overload has begun, he will be taken to the medical bay and isolated in a low stimulation room. He will then be injected with a drug to create an artificial barrier. This I have been told is uncomfortable for the empath, but would stop him going too deep. In the meantime his Sentinel will be summoned and under observation, which you would be allowed to take part in, you will be able to see them bond.
Hudson broke off as he saw one of the male Cadets put his hand up. “Yes, Cadet Coleman.
“Sir, since he is a rogue the bonding… would that be leashed.”
”Yes, in extreme cases such as this Guides case, we would leash him before letting his Sentinel bond, this would restrict his movement. Keep him in the correct bonding position.”
Mary moved to Blair's side, as the guards pulled him onto his stomach, and she pressed the pressure syringe against his arm. Then moved back, not wanting to touch him more than she had too, as was if he were diseased.
Blair had heard everything the Sentinel had said, and decided that if he was going to overload, it was going to happen. He would never crawl on his belly to that Sentinel. He was Jim's Guide, claimed and marked, only Jim's. His voice was surprisingly strong when he yelled at Hudson.
"Sit, stay, kneel, we're people, not animals. When are you over-sensed dinosaurs going to realise that.” Blair snarled; he had to brace himself with his hands pressed against the floor.
"You say something Guide?” There was a very real warning in Hudson's voice.
Blair knew that he shouldn't answer. But what the hell, the guy couldn't kill him. "I said you're a dinosaur. You think that your senses make you more than us. Well where would you be without us? Dead!”
Hudson's mouth opened and closed. He could not believe what he was hearing. Any trained Guide would have known that the only answer to his question was silence. A trained Guide would not speak unless ordered to by his Sentinel.
"Position three Guide." His voice was chilling.
Blair hesitated, his fear responses nearly driving him to the extreme position, but then he shook his head, he would not kneel like that to this Sentinel, not in the extreme position.
His head snapped up as he pulled himself to his feet, looking up at the much larger Sentinel, "Go &*&* yourself, I don't kneel to you, like that." He knew he would get beaten, no Sentinel, let alone a GDP Sentinel would allow a rogue Guide to get away with that. But he would fight every inch of the way. He was Jim's Guide. They might beat him, but they would not hospitalise him. He would live through this.
Never once did Blair even think of obeying. Some inner voice growled that Jim was the only Sentinel to whom he could willingly, with his whole heart and soul, kneel too. One half of his consciousness recorded it. Surged with strength from it. // Where had that come from? // But before it could take hold, the door behind which it had been before pushing into his mind, slammed close again.
Hudson's temper snapped, he could not believe that not only had the Guide said that, but had dared to stand when he had been ordered down. Hudson's hand lashed out, flat handing Blair across the face and knocking him down again.
“Senior Guard Ward”
The guard moved forward quickly and tightened the leash so that Blair was on his knees, his head pulled down to the floor resting on his arms, immobilizing him.
Ward went to the side and picked up a second leash and handed it to the Sentinel. The guard was a veteran of the training facility, and his heartbeat was level, he got no pleasure out of doing this to the young Guide, but he knew by rote the GDP creed. The Guide would be better for this correction, just a pity it had to be so public.”
“When a Guide has to be punished, this is usually done a few hours later, to avoid striking in the heat of anger, but in this case, the offence is so severe that it must be done now.
“Now in the past the GDP recommended a cane, but we favour the use of a leash. Now a trained Guide would not have to be leashed before punishment. They know they have done wrong and are willing to be corrected. Now can anyone tell me what the formal wording from the Guide would be?”
Blair's heart was pounding in his chest as he tried to hang onto the present and push the nightmare away. Somehow this was worse, he was nothing but a training tool to them. he has ceased to be a person.
“Sentinel Prime Hudson, the wording usually is; my punishment is in your hands.”
“Correct Cadet Farmer. Now with a rogue it's recommended that the Guide is leashed or held during punishment. Now take the leash, hold your hand up, tuck the top the leash over your fingers and then take it down under your elbow and back again. You will see now that we have a thickness of leash, six loops. Now remove it from your arm and grip here.” Hudson hefted the leash so they could all see it clearly. “Now, when the beating is being administrated, the GDP Manual states…” Hudson paused and waited while his Guide handed the blue and black covered manual to him. “Now you place it between your elbow and the side of your body, this restricts the strength of the blow and prevents serious injury. Always remember why we are here, to correct and to teach.”
There was no warning and the first blow did make Blair cry out, and then he bit back any further sound. He would not cry out, he would not give this bastard the satisfaction of making him beg.
Three blows and Hudson stopped. “Now you will see the stripes of the leash are not welts, they don't break the skin. If at any time you draw blood, the punishment session must finish. We are not here to torture the Guide, we are here to give enlightenment. Now, if you look at your study notes you will see that care has to be taken as to the area the beating is applied.”
Hudson's hands moved over Blair's body, strong fingers pulling and pushing him, as if he was a dumb animal, as he pointed out areas to the students. “Here, here, and here.”
A female cadet coughed and then asked “All Guides, would you always strip them naked before punishment.” She sounded embarrassed.
Hudson smiled “There is no need to be shy Cadet Templer. Remember that this is nothing that the Guide, especially a rogue, has not undergone before. If you saw a horse without a saddle or a dog without a lead, you wouldn't be embarrassed. Your touch must always be impersonal. Now to answer your question, a normal Guide would be punished with the blows applied to them while they are dressed. But being a rogue that doesn't apply here, this is done for effect.”
“Now you measure the area like this. Bringing the leash down in a short chopping motion like this.”
Blair screamed and chomped down to stifle the sound, tears pricked his eyes as he fought to keep control.
All that Blair could hold onto was that his Sentinel would come. Hudson demonstrated a couple more times. And seemed disappointed when Blair didn't cry out again. He made the last blow the hardest of all, and was rewarded with a muffled cry of pain.
The Sentinel trainer stopped, his breath was coming in harsh pants. Straightening up, he slowly circled the Guide. Before he removed the leashing. “Now do you have any questions?”
“Sentinel Prime Hudson, I am on placement with Lieutenant County. We visited this Guide, he has been bonding with his Sentinel on the bed, this is clearly corrupt behaviour. How would you address this problem?”
Hudson shook his head almost sadly, “It unfortunately is indicative of this Guides behaviour. The paper work is in the system to have him committed to a hostel and to only have supervised bonding with his Sentinel until his problems have been addressed. Cadet Farmer, thank you for raising this matter to our attention.”
Blair had slumped down trying to relieve some of the pain; his body still not healed from the abuse of Wilson and his crew, and he was in agony.
The words burned into his head. // The hostel, observed bonding, no can't go back there. Jim. Jim where are you? //
Hudson could smell the fear rolling off the rogue Guide; it was underlined with the smell of blood. The Sentinel checked the area he had beaten, there was no cuts to the Guides back. He ran his hand lower, and saw a smear of blood on the inner thighs, without any thought of Blair's privacy; he pushed Blair's knees apart exposing his centre and the damage that was only just healing. Sentinel eyes picked up the blood and the anger in the Sentinel grew. Reading it was one thing but seeing the damage was another.
He felt the violent flinch as his hand lightly ran over the body already the heat from the bruising was hot under his fingertips.
“Mary hand me the boxer shorts now.”
“Sir, he hasn't showed that he…”
“ Just do it.” Hudson snapped.
The smaller man flinched when he touched his hip; Hudson released him from the leash. Then helped him put the boxers on. Then he firmly positioned him in the standard position, knowing, or rather guessing what it was doing to him.
He had corrected the Guide, yes, but he wasn't here to be cruel to him. He glared at Mary. Why hadn't she said something? She had revised his file. He would never have had him stripped buck-naked if he had know that he was still bleeding from the internal injuries. And he would have taken greater case during the punishment. Hudson pushed that back, he could not do anything about that now. But later he promised he would speak to Mary on this.
For the moment he turned back to the business in hand. The Cadets where leaning down, waiting for him to continue the lecture.
The Sentinel picked up from what he had been saying. "All you had to do Guide was follow my instructions, why make it so hard?" Now Hudson was willing to be supportive, if Blair were to follow his commands like a good Guide. His hands moved almost impersonally over Blair, trying to calm him.
“Now is the time that you have to get the Guide to admit to their faults. In doing that the first part of the training has forfilled its function. A Guide that repents their past degenerate behaviour is a Guide that has started on the road forward to a true working relationship with their Sentinel.”
He deepened the caressing, but instead of calming Blair's anger was fuelled.
"You sadistic bastard, get your hands off me." , Blair forced out through steadying breaths. “You beat me like a dog and then think I should thank you for it, you over-sensed asshole.”
Hudson straightened up, his face went white with anger, he had been prepared to help the Guide now he had accepted his punishment, but the Guide was still resisting him.
Blair shook his head, trying to clear his mind; he bit back the pain. He would not pay homage to this Sentinel, even if he overloaded. Jim had taught him that, he was a person and he had rights, no matter what the GDP said.
With a hard push, he sent the kneeling GDP Sentinel falling backwards onto his butt, as he managed to get to his feet. The guards started towards him.
The door to the training room flew open so hard it was taken clean off its hinges.
It took everyone by surprise. Blair recovered the fastest and lunged towards his Sentinel. Hudson's foot lashed out and caught Blair, tripping him and sending the young Guide piling face first hard into the floor.
"Get away from him." The Dark Sentinel roared.
Hudson got up and threw the leash down in disgust, his nose twitching as he identified Jim's scent as the one the permeated the rouge Guide's skin and clothing.
"This yours Sentinel.” He scoffed, tilting his head dismissively at Blair. The man was an untrained latent Sentinel; no wonder the rogue Guide had gotten ideas above his station. If this Sentinel thought he could come in and disrupt his lecture, he had another thing coming. But first he had to understand that he had to pay his respect to the Senior Sentinel Prime present. The Alpha Sentinel of Cascade. An Untrained beta Sentinel needed to know his place. Hudson glared at the Sentinel newcomer and growled. "Pay your respect to me Sentinel.”
"Don't hold your breath you son of a bitch. You're not worthy of anyone's respect.” The Dark Sentinel snarled, almost animalistic, his eyes ice cold with anger as his senses wrapped round the body of his Guide.
Simon heard the tone of voice as he came through the door, trailing the GDP officers. // Oh no, when you heard that tone in the big Detective's voice, it was time to run for cover. Jim was going to vent… only this wasn't Jim? // In the short time Simon had learned to detect the Dark Sentinel persona. There was a certain twist to his lips, the way his body language changed, becoming more fluid and primal. Yep, the Dark Sentinel was spoiling for a fight.
“The only constructive thing about this Guide is as a living lesson to my students as to the depth of depravity a rogue Guide can sink to. I am Sentinel Prime Hudson. You should feel honoured that I have agreed to train you filthy little rogue Guide.”
"So…” purred the Dark Sentinel / Jim as he moved slowly around the room, making the other Sentinel turn, as he inserted himself between Hudson and his Guide. “What does that make you, the biggest jerk in Cascade?”
"It makes me the Sentinel Prime of the City of Cascade.”
“You're nothing but a Sentinel who enjoys hurting Guides, an abusive bully.” The Dark Sentinel scoffed.
"You challenging me Sentinel?”
Jim's smile was chilling, "Anytime you want to start.”
Simon turned on the GDP officers and guards ready to step in if it looked as if they where going to interfere. But none of them made any attempt to get closer, this was now Sentinel business, and they would keep out of it, until one Sentinel was victorious.
Carolyn carefully edged past the two Sentinels in a wide circle, moving towards the fallen Guide who, for the moment, was forgotten.
The GDP Guide moved to block her only to find herself on her knees, with her arm twisted back in the police take down position. “You're a Guide and you let him do that to Sandburg?” She forced the Guide to look at Blair, and then pushed her down hard on the floor as she hissed a warning. “Keep out of my way bitch or I'll put you down so hard you'll never get up.”
Her own anger surprised Carolyn when she thought about it later, but now the woman was just another GDP uniform trying to get in between her and what Jim needed.
"Sandburg, er it's alright." She put a hand on the young man's shoulder and she felt him flinch. "No one is going to hurt you, Sandburg, NOT NOW.” Carolyn was surprised when she realised that she actually meant it, firmly she eased him onto his side.
Looking at his face she saw where a lump was coming up on his forehead. Likely he had a concussion. Also his skin was pale and the tremors that where running through his body meant he was in shock. Still he was trying to hold it together, not wanting to disgrace his Sentinel. Carolyn turned to the woman Guide. “Get his clothes. NOW!” The order was roared and the GDP Guide did not hesitate to obey.
Jim closed the distance between himself and the other. A large predator closing on the person that dared to challenge his claim to his Guide, had dared to punish his Guide! Such could only be met with force.
The Dark Sentinel sprang. Simon knew that Jim usually held back on using the skills he'd learned as a soldier, but this time was different, he would remove the threat to his Guide, once and for all.
Hudson had always prided himself on his Special Forces training, but he suddenly realised that he was completely out classed… and that he was going to die. He tried everything that he knew, but it never made a dent in the attacking Sentinel. Then there was a kick to the back of his knee, dislocating it. Hudson crashed down onto the floor. His fingers were broken like twigs under the other man's grip as he tried to break the hold on his neck. Then the other Sentinel's knee was in his back as the challenger went for the kill.
"Jim! NO!" Blair screamed as he realised that Jim was about to snap Hudson's neck. The Dark Sentinel lifted his head, snarling. Intense fury rebelled that he should be stopped before he could terminate the threat? But only that one voice could call him back from such a killing rage. He focused on his Guide. Blair struggled to his feet, he was swaying as his head spun, only Carolyn's grip keeping him from falling. But he could rest later, now his Sentinel needed him.
"Jim, I need you, help me.” Blair knew it was the only thing that would stop Jim killing the other Sentinel. The need to protect the Guide could and would over ride the instinct to kill; once they made contact, then he could calm and centre Jim.
The Dark Sentinel's head tilted slightly, then he growled softly to Hudson. "As for you, you are a dead man walking. Next time I see you, I will bury you.” He let go and gave the defeated man a hard push so that he collapsed on the floor.
The Dark Sentinel stopped Hudson's Guide, preventing her from going to him, and fixed her with a hard stare. Guide Day looked up at him with fear. // Don't want her in my city; she could try to challenge Blair for the chance to take his place at my side, as the Guide Prime of Cascade. // “As for you Guide, you'll leave Cascade. Immediately.” Then the Dark Sentinel retreated slightly and Jim came through, his voice not unkindly. “Go help your Sentinel.” He walked past her, and the young woman hurried to Hudson's side, her hands and voice helping him to dial down the pain. Then she was caught and pulled into an emotional embrace as Hudson needed to hold her, to make sure she was alright.
Blair was clinging to Carolyn, and she tried to stop him as she felt his intension. But he shook his head reassuringly. "I have too." and went down on his knees to his Sentinel. Showing his commitment and loyalty to Jim. The cop might not need it, but the Dark Sentinel did.
Carolyn ignored the look from her ex husband and kept a firm hold on the younger man, he was swaying. For a moment Blair found back black edging round his vision, his body going hot and cold, as reaction ran through him, the start of a panic attack.
He felt Jim's hand on his shoulder, a hard hand catching his arm to support him. Carolyn letting her hand drop away, and stepping back. Then Jim pulled him to his feet. Only then did Blair reach a hand out towards his Sentinel as the man moved into the Guide's personal space, in truth he had given that up the moment they had bonded.
Hypersensitive fingers checked out the lump on Sandburg's face, tilting his face back to check his eyes. Concerned lines marked Jim's face as he detected the concussion.
Blair's hands moved to rest on his Sentinel. One hand above the big man's heart, the other stroking tense arms from elbow to neck. Jims face took on a dreamy look, as he fixed his senses on the one person more precious to him than life itself. Blair said something that Carolyn could not hear, but she saw the corners of her ex's mouth lift, then he pulled Blair close, allowing his senses to range over his Guide. Jim frowned as he detected the heat of bruising on the chilled skin. With a growl he started to turn back towards Hudson.
"Sentinel." The commanding roar of the Guide brought him back.
Jim gently pulled his Guide behind him, facing the threat; he felt his Guide's hand twist in the back of his jacket, a hand on his shoulder, and the weight of a head resting against his back.
The GDP officers and newly arrived guards had stepped back the moment the challenge was given; it had then become Sentinel business. Danvers took a quick look at his Sentinel colleague, and edged towards Jim and Blair.
"Sentinel Prime Ellison, we...”
"What's this crap Chief?" He growled. He would not play their stupid status games. Blair felt the anger flare and tried to calm Jim again. Trying to calm the unrelenting itching feeling that was running through his Sentinel, the one that screamed at him to kill the other Sentinel.
Jim felt the flutter of Blair's hands that indicated how agitated his Guide was. So he made an major effort to control his emotions, his Guide just couldn't take it at the moment.
Then he heard Blair's voice, he was excited. "Jim, you defeated the Sentinel Prime of Cascade, as a Dark Sentinel this is your place, man.” The Anthropologists excitement was growing. "Right on the top of the tree, the Alpha Male of the City, I mean wow.”
For a moment he was about to snap at Blair, then he felt the pride that echoed through their link, "You went to battle for ME, you took on the Sentinel Prime, I'm not…” There was wonder mixed with self doubt in his Guide's voice.
"You're MY Guide, Blair. No one, Sentinel Prime or ordinary Sentinel is going to hurt you.”
He looked over at the GDP, the way they deferred to him now. If being Sentinel Prime of Cascade would keep Blair safe, then that is who he would be, it was just a title, nothing more, he could do this.
The New Sentinel Prime of Cascade, looked them up and down, "Yes. What do you want?” The moment his mind accepted his new role, a connection flared and sealed in his head.
Blair gave a small groan, as a pathway opened and closed along the link, he clung tighter, only to feel himself pulled round and enclosed in a firm embrace. Almost desperately Blair snaked an arm around Jim's waist, anchoring his self to his Sentinel.
"Your Guide. The training? We…” Danvers came forward. As a Guide he felt that he could approach the new Sentinel Prime easier, perhaps be seen as a lesser threat.
He was shocked when the exhausted, barely upright Guide seemed to bristle, and actually pulled himself in front of his Sentinel.
“He's mine.” Blair snarled at him, “Get away from him Guide.”
Jim's smile was brilliant, as he pulled Blair round, running calming hands over him. One settling on his waist, as his other tipped Blair's face up to look at him. “MY Guide has claimed me, claimed and marked.”
“Claimed and marked, MY Sentinel.” Blair leaned his head on to Jim's chest, for the moment there was just the two of them.
Finally Jim turned his attention back to Danvers. "My Guide does not require retraining." Jim mused. // Might as well put this Sentinel Prime stuff to work, I know they can pass the wonderful news along. // His smile was predatory. "And you can tell Dr. Jenson, that if she so much as approaches my Guide again, she will regret it.”
While Jim was busy Carolyn had collected Blair's clothing from a corner of the room; she kept her eyes on his face, not wanting to embarrass him further. Hidden behind his Sentinel, Blair quickly pulled various items on. As the material of his shirt touched his back, he gave a hiss of pain. He was struggling when Carolyn helped him. Her smile was gentle and understanding.
"Come on Chief, we're leaving.” He hesitated as if seeing her for the first time. "Carolyn, you coming?”
She smiled. "I'd better. I drove you here." As she walked with them, for the first time she really looked at them, the way Jim steered his Guide was like a older brother looking after a younger brother. Her jealousy seemed petty all of the sudden. At her car she paused. "Jim, I never realised this is what they did to Guides. I am sorry.”
Jim could not understand what Carolyn was apologies about. "It's okay Caro. Thanks for helping me back there.”
She smiled again. "Now, you get in the back, I'll drive. I still have a no claims bonus to protect.”
Simon caught up with them "Jim?” The Sentinel's eyes raked over him, he was seen, assessed, and forgotten. Jim settled in the back of the car, it was cramped for his long legs, but it didn't matter, he tugged his Guide against him. Simon quickly slid in the passenger side of the car, he had screwed up badly, and he knew it.
Even as she drove she could hear the Sentinel and Guide talking. To start with Blair was pulling back, afraid of appearing needy in front of Jim's ex wife and boss. But the Sentinel soon had had enough of that. He needed his Guide, needed to affirm that he was alive and well. But first he need to know exactly what has he was up against. "What happened Chief?”
"I was slow kneeling to him, he wanted me on all fours, I...” There was a tremor in his voice, and he looked down.
"Bad memories Chief?”
Blair's head came up. "Some, but that wasn't the only reason." Jim noticed the younger man's eyes seemed to burn with a eager light, and he caught Jims shirt, tugging at him. "You were awesome man. You are THE Sentinel Prime! I know now why I didn't kneel, I couldn't, don't you see… you're…" He pulled him close. "You're the Sentinel Prime of Cascade, not that, that… jerk! You are man. That's your place..."
There was genuine concern in his Sentinel's face, his hand closing on the younger man. Then he realised that Blair was still trying to shake him. "Jim you are Sentinel Prime of the whole damn city! It's, wow man, out of this world, they all have to defer to you!”
"Sure Chief", Ellison gently slid an arm around his Guide, pulling him close. This time Blair allowed it, his head resting on the broad shoulders of his Sentinel, he suddenly felt incredibly tired.
Carolyn pulled up at the hospital door, "Jim, we're here.”
"Thanks.” He reached forward and squeezed her shoulders as he eased his Guide out. Simon got out to assist, but the Sentinel snarled and gathered his Guide up, all but carrying him into building.
"Simon." Carolyn lifted a hand and let it drop // There, but for the grace of God, goes I // She knew with a sickening thud that if she had done as Simon had, she would have lost Jim forever. It had been the first time that she had really seen them together objectively. And what she had seen in the training area had sickened her. Well, her only way of getting to Jim was through his Guide, and Blair had shown he was willing to help William Ellison with his reconciliation. Maybe, just maybe, he could help her. She looked up into the distressed face of the large police Captain and shook her head. She had no words, but reached out and gave his shoulder a squeeze. "Come on, we'd best go check on them.”
"They wouldn't want me there.”
"Simon, you did what you thought was best for Jim." She hesitated, then blurted out, "I was going to do the same thing, all we wanted to do was protect him. He will see that Simon, and Sandburg will make him see sense.”
"That kid! Simon… he's the lynchpin to this Sentinel business, I am beginning to see that now.”
"God, its such a mine field. There aren't any books." Simon allowed his concerned anger to show through. "It's not natural, to be so co-dependant on each other like that.”
"It's the nature of what they are, I am just learning that now. It's okay Simon, I'll see to them." She patted his shoulder. It hurt her to see Simon like this. The gruff Captain could throw up a convincing shield round him, but it was only an act to prevent his feelings becoming public. A good cop couldn't do his duty if he couldn't divorce himself from his emotions, but it was at a price.
When Jim emerged, it was with an arm anchoring his Guide to him round the waist, the kid was leaning into him.
Her ex appeared to relax for the first time. "Slight concussion, but he will be alright.” Blair gave her an apologetic shrug, he had been pleading with Jim to take him home since he'd arrived, but in Blessed Protector mode, Jim had wanted Blair checked out, and only a thorough examination would do.
Carolyn had driven them to the loft and followed the pair upstairs. Now she gazed round the space open mouthed. She had heard back through the grape vein that the loft was stark, and now she saw it first hand. Jim had not done anything to it since the day she'd left.
Blair was clinging tightly to his Sentinel. His barriers were gone, a combination of the concussion, drugs and mental exhaustion. A part of his mind was telling him that Carolyn was here and he should step back, reminding him she didn't like him. But the need to be with his Sentinel was greater.
Jim helped him onto the sofa and settled him down, but he immediately tried to sit up, holding Jim tight. Carolyn hesitated, then volunteered. “I'll put the kettle on Jim.”
"Thanks, he's got some tea in the cupboard near the kettle. The red box, it helps him relax.”
Carolyn shook her head and concentrated on making the tea, she sensed her ex-husband come up behind her, "How is he?”
"Resting, the doctor said he could sleep, but I have to wake him up every hour, and check his response.”
"You need to do something about the loft.”
"In what way?" she noted the guarded tone to his voice.
"Simple Sherlock." She smiled, and was pleased to see it answered. "Blair's with you for life, isn't he?” She saw the nod. "I realise that now. I thought…" she trailed off, thinking.
"What Caro? Talk to me."
"We stopped talking, didn't we?”
"Part of our problem."
"I was jealous, I thought that if he wasn't around we would get back together. But it doesn't work like that, does it?”
"No. A Sentinel and Guide are joined for life. When we bonded, it was no longer Jim Ellison the loner. I can never be alone again. When we link, all my emotions are open to him. When I bonded it stripped him of any chance to keep his barriers up high totally on his own, he can't go for more than 8 to 9 hours without me being there to boost his support."
"If he doesn't get it?"
"He would overload, go catatonic, or insane.”
"I never knew it was that serious.”
"Few people do. What did you mean about the loft?”
"You need to get Blair's nesting instincts going here Jim. Look at this place? Doesn't the kid have any books, pictures, CD's? Anything like that.”
"Books, yes. He puts them in his room when he goes to bed.”
"Jim, Jimmy, you can't do that. What you're saying is, this is my loft, and your room. If you want him to settle in, then say this is OUR home."
"He knows that.”
"Jim… the kid is nothing more than a glorified pet.”
"NEVER - NO WAY!"
"Keep your voice down, and think about it. You want this to be his home, then you make it one. Come on, this way.” Carolyn went to the doorway of the room that had been her office and looked in. "Right! The first thing you'll do is replace the curtain's with French doors. And a lock! That gives him the option to lock the world out. He may never use it, but knowing it's there will help him.”
"I am a sociology minor remember, do you want me to continue?”
Jim nodded. "Yes..........please.”
"Right. Lets see… he needs a bookcase, a laundry hamper. And take him out with you, let him choose, it's his room. Now, let him leave his books in the front room.” She threw up a hand. “Neatly, I'm sure. He will feel it's more like his home too. Little things Jim, but it will make a difference, believe me.”
Jim's head tilted, the kettle was nearly ready "Waters boiling. We'd best make the tea.”
Carolyn found herself seated in one of the over stuffed armchairs, watching the TV. It was a National Geographic programme. Blair was leaned into his Sentinel, watching while keeping up a commentary on the programme. Some of it was insightful, and other parts down right funny.
Watching Jim with Blair made her wonder just what their life would have been like if they had married and had children. Would he still have come on line as a Sentinel? He had wanted kids and it had been she who had said no, wanting her career first. Maybe that was where she had gone wrong. His strong paternal instinct was now focused, with the Sentinel instinct, on one long-haired grad student Guide. She gave a deep sigh, and for a moment met Jims gaze as he turned to check on her. What was gone, was gone, but there was always the future. If she wanted that, then she had to embrace him as he is now, and let the past go.”
It was going on one o'clock when she realised what the time was. By then Jim had moved his Guide into the spare bedroom… correction, Blair's room.
"Look Caro, it's too late, why don't you take my bed? I'll take the sofa. You're tired and I don't feel comfortable with you driving.”
"I'll take the sofa, you'll never get a good nights sleep on it."
"Caro, I have to wake up every hour to wake him up, it'll be easier this way.”
"Okay, see you in the morning.” She then leaned over and gave him a kiss, which he returned with more than a little interest.
"If you had kissed me like that before Jim...”
"I know…” He watched her mount the steps to their…oops, his now… bedroom.
With a shake of the head, he settled down on the sofa. He knew he was going to feel this in the morning. Protectively he cast his senses out, surrounding his Guide who was sleeping peacefully. A quick check of his watch, setting the timer to whisper mode, and he settled down. But he found his hearing focusing on Carolyn, the soft whisper of the dress running down her legs as she stepped out of it, the dozen little noises as she prepared for bed, things that fired his memory. Sighing, he turned and tried to get some sleep. Then he heard the Sentinel soft, "Good Night Jim", as she to turned over and went to sleep.
Carolyn turned over and for the moment looked up at the light coming through the ceiling. She reached for the warm body that should be laid next to her, and with a start realised that was all over. She rolled onto her stomach and looked down through the railing. She remembered when they had first moved the bed there, her irrational fear she would fall, and then safe in Jim's strong arms. She watched as her ex husband moved round the kitchen, putting on coffee and preparing breakfast. Then there was the sound of curtains being push open, and *the Guide* appeared. The kid looked as if he had been dragged through a hedge backward, and then jumped on. Jim paused, lifting one hand in warning. "Your Sentinel can make you breakfast once in a while, Chief. So go and have your shower, okay?”
She saw the nod of the curly head, and Blair plodded drowsily into the bathroom. She glanced at her watch. She had plenty of time, so she curled back up into the bed and looked round the room, she would wait for the kid to come out, and then have her own shower.
Carolyn was just coming down the stairs as Sandburg came back into the living room, fully dressed; he suddenly folded onto his knees, his head touching the floor in the extreme working position.
"Blair! Don't do this kid." Jim crossed the distance between them in a couple of long strides.
"As your Guide, I pay my respect to the New Sentinel Prime of Cascade, and vow to conduct myself in the manner that will be of credit to you.” The pride in his soft voice was clear, and at the same time upsetting to Jim. If the kid believed in this crap, what the hell would the other Sentinel's think?
"Blair." Anger must have coloured his tone, because his Guide suddenly went forward onto his stomach, as if shot by a gun. "My apologies Sentinel Prime for not showing the correct respect to you, I await your punishment.” The kid sounded resolved to that.
"This finishes NOW Blair! I told you not to kneel…and you don't kneel.”
He saw the flinch that ran through the body on the floor. "You will listen to me Blair Jacob Sandburg. Guide, you are getting to your knees NOW!" Jim watched his Guide do as he was commanded. "Now, onto your feet, and come here.” Blair kept his head down.
Jim put his hand out and tilted his Guides head up. "Listen to me and hear me clearly on this. As far as I am concerned this Sentinel Prime stuff is a load of crap, but if it keeps you safe from them to think of me that way, so be it. But YOU do NOT buy into this. Got me? Right!”
“Good.” He pulled his Guide close for a brief hug, and ruffled his hair. “Now sit down and have your breakfast.” With that he gave Blair a gentle push towards the table.
"Morning Caro. Sleep well?”
"Fine." To herself she added *better if you were there*, then kicked herself for her wishful thinking.
"Morning B... er Sand..." then in desperation added, "What do I call you?”
"Blair is fine.”
"Good morning Blair.”
"Lieutenant Plummer,” pause, "Thank you for yesterday.”
Carolyn smiled, "I am just pleased you're feeling better.”
"Tea and Toast””
Carolyn offered to drive them in, but first she had to stop off at her house to change. When she came out of her room it was to find Jim prowling round the apartment. She came up behind Blair, "Is it a Sentinel thing Blair?”
"Could we talk? I mean later, about all this....",
"Any time Lieutenant, anytime.”
Carolyn was looking at him thoughtfully. If William Ellison thought the kid was worth taking an interest in, then it bode everyone else to take notice, in the Guide she would have an ally. If she and Jim got back together she was now resigned to the fact there would be three to the marriage. A smile twisted her lips *do you Carolyn Plummer take this man… and his Guide, in lawful wedded marriage to.... *.
"Caro, share the joke.”
"Sorry Jim, just miles away, that's all. Best get going before Simon puts out the blood hounds.”
Eve Lawson was puzzled as to the change in Carolyn, and couldn't think why. Finally her curiosity got the best of her. “Well, what happened? Did you get the Guide out of the picture?”
"What? ... No need Eve. Let's just say I have a better understanding now, and leave it at that.”
Personally she was amazed at the turnabout in herself. Maybe she had needed that cold hard look at the reality of a Guide's life to understand why Jim was so protective of the kid. He was not a parasite, leaching off of Jim. It was a partnership, and she had glimpsed something of the depth of the bonding. And maybe a little glimpse of just what she had lost.
Simon Banks sat in his office and absent-mildly fiddled with his pen. He had screwed up and done so badly. Amy Jenson had been TOO helpful, and he was beginning to realise that she had played on his ignorance for her own ends. He looked at the crumpled Sentinel 101 book. The problem was that he knew so little about the whole Sentinel / Guide business.
He looked out the window and saw them coming in, and hesitated. He would let them settle in before he tried to put this mess behind them.
During the course of the day he noticed the distinct difference in Sandburg. Over the last few weeks Blair had started to move more independently round the bullpen, gaining in confidence, to collect files and get tea and coffee.
But now he stuck close to Jim, and pulled back when his Sentinel left the desk. He was frightened, he had been in the bullpen when the GDP had taken him away, and he was scared that they would do so again.
Jim glanced at this watch. Assistant D.A. Swann wanted him to go over his statement for the Rutherford Video Black Market Case. He had been told he had to leave Blair behind; but his Guide was skittish to say the least. Normally he would have placed him with Simon, the kid could work on his files in the office nice and quiet, but he didn't trust Banks with his Guide, YET.”
The GQ and grudge cop came over; a relatively new partnership and yet already getting an understanding that verged on a double act.
"Can you look after Blair for me? I have to give a statement. It won't be long, but I... can't leave him on his own.”
"I won't run Jim.”
"It's not that Chief. I just want to keep you safe." Mentally Jim swore, the kid was on edge and that brought his worst fears out. And the one fear at the top of that tree was that Jim would think that he was trying to run because he was a rogue Guide. Jim ran a hand over his Guide's shoulder and smiled reassuringly at him.
“Maybe hair-boy can help us with our computer search?” The grunge cop volunteered. “I noticed he's good at that." H put in, catching on quickly, having heard the scuttlebutt round the bullpen. He met the Sentinel's gaze levelly, knowing that he needed this connection, a human lie detector.
"Okay." There was a tremor to the soft voice. Understanding, Rafe moved round the table so that between he and H they would have Blair sandwiched in, and protected. Even so, he seemed to draw in on himself.
Simon waited for Jim to leave, then came out, "Sandburg! In my office."
Rafe watched the Guide get slowly to his feet, his head whipping back and forth as if looking for an avenue of escape. Then he proceed in and closed the door behind him.
"Take a seat." // Please don't kneel. //
Blair slid into a chair, he was looking at the floor.
"It's usually common courteously to look at me when I'm talking.”
The former grad student's head shot up. Simon shook his head, that had come out wrong.
"I just mean that I like to see who I am talking too, Sandburg… Blair.”
Simon exhaled slowly, "Coffee?" // Give him a drink, get him settled down, and then maybe they could get somewhere. //
//Well, at least it was a start. //
"My cousin has a coffee shop, he sends me different blends to try. This one's a decaff.”
Simon settled back in his chair, "Okay, lets get down to it, Sandburg. I fouled up major league yesterday. I was worried about the amount of influence that you had on Jim. You have to understand. I have seen this man that wouldn't take a partner, one who when he had one forced on him burned them off in 48 hours, suddenly have this ... hippy wanna be, pushed on him, and the next thing I know he's treating you like his own young. He's my best friend and I was worried about him. Dr Jenson…" // You didn't have to be a Sentinel to see the shudder that ran through the kid at the name. // "She said because you where a rogue Guide, you where manipulating him, unnaturally...”
The kid blushed, "Captain Banks, may I speak freely?”
"Certainly.” He waited, but nothing was forth coming, "Usually Kid, when you say that… you talk."
"I was a rogue Guide, but they think that once you're a rogue, you're always one. I didn't want to bond, Captain. I had a life to live, place to go, things to do, and it would have all ended if , the GDP, had known that I was a Guide.”
“I wouldn't even have been able to leave the country, in case a foreign Sentinel got me. I couldn't accept that... Captain. But the GDP did found out. They came for me, at first they tried to sweet talk me into accepting my fate. When that failed, they put me in a training facility. I still refused and they loaded me with a damper drug, and I was given to four un-bonded Sentinels to use as their practice Guide." He saw the horror in the Captain's face, "They have to learn some how. They were about to graduate and go to bond, I was their training Guide. Not nice, Captain. Jim doesn't even know about them. I'm kind of worried that one day I am going to bump into one of them, Jim would not like it..."
"A Sentinel thing?"
"A territorial thing, Captain. I am his now, claimed and marked, and he wouldn't like the idea of another Sentinel, or Sentinels....", he trailed off.
"But Alex Barnes.”
"IS DEAD! The others are still alive, and he is a Dark Sentinel.”
"So dead is okay, but alive is a different think completely.”
He saw the nod. This was the most the kid had ever talked to him, and he gave a gently nudge, “Then what happened?”
"Alex Barnes heard about me, and she grabbed me. The rest is history.”
"Did they hurt you, the un-bonded Sentinels?”
"Some were okay, some were not. But back to your original worry Captain. No, I am not manipulating Jim Ellison. He has been good to me, treated me like a normal person, not a freak of nature, a Guide. You don't realise how…" Blair closed his eyes for a moment, and then opened them again, a trace of tears visible that he was trying to keep back. "how rare that is Captain. He doesn't make me kneel to him every time he comes into a room. I broke a cup and he didn't beat me, or keep me on my knees for 3 hours.”
"No one would do that...”
"Seymour did, one of my training Sentinels. I broke a plate, and he kept me down for that long, leashed.”
What shook Simon was the way the kid seemed to accept casual abuse as normal. "Sandburg, no one had the right to do that to you.”
"I am a Guide, section 18. *A Sentinel may discipline his Guide as and when he sees fit.* I still can't believe that Jim is so good to me, and when he said I could go back to university, I ... waited for the bubble to burst, the other shoe to drop, to see what he wanted from me in return. But it hasn't. With Jim you get just what you see.”
Simon slowly began to ask the questions that had worried him, and Blair Sandburg answered him, no lies, no obfuscations, just the truth.
Rafe and H watched the pair at first, then they turned back to their work. When he came out, Blair was looking a little on edge. Rafe checked his watch and nodded. “Blair it's time for your dinner." H saw the look of embarrassment on the grad student's face, but they both knew that if Blair missed a meal there would be all hell to pay. The Sentinel was making sure that he ate.
"I'll get you..." H put in. Blair shook his head and dug out some coins, "Jim gave me some money, I'll get it.”
"I don't know hair-boy..." he shook his head slowly, but then saw the look his partner gave him. The kid's confidence had been badly shaken by the kidnapping, because if he hadn't been a Guide, that is what it would have been, a kidnapping. He needed to prove to himself that he could walk around the station.
"Okay, but straight in and out.”
Carolyn was walking down the corridor of the police station when she heard voices, and the tone made her quicken her step. Rounding the corner she saw Blair Sandburg, forced down on his knees, his arms pinned painfully high up his back. Henderson was standing in front of him, his normally handsome face twisted into an angry mask. “You come in here flashing your ass round the station, putting out, and you think no one can touch you. Perverted little bastard! You're a cop killer. Just because you're a freak of nature no one is going to touch you Barnes. Believe me you are going to pay. You think that because Ellison is blind to you, everyone else is. We're not! And one day you're going to find out about it all.” The big officer picked the packet of sandwiches off the table, "Ellison asked you to pick these up? What a pity…" he ripped open the foil, dropping the sandwiches to the floor, and ground it in. "Eat that Barnes! Come on guys." He smiled at Carolyn as she came up, clicked a small cylinder off, and left.
The Guide was still on his knees, trying to pick the sandwich up. Carolyn bent quickly, "You don't want those Blair.” He looked up, "J Jim gave me the money for food, he wants me to eat, and I can't..."
"Jim would not want you to eat that. Come on." She tugged gently at his arm, got him to his feet, then took out her purse and slotted several coins into the machine, pulling out another pack of sandwiches. “There you go Blair.” She shepherded the student along, and for the first time found herself monitored the people that passed them. Some just went by. But then there were the others that shot the Guide barbed looks. The kid seemed to move towards her more, and maternal instinct cut in. Was it Blair or was it just a Guide thing that you felt the need to protect him.
She left him at Jim's desk, and then stomped into Simon's office. A few minutes later the Captain got to his feet, and yelled "Sandburg in here NOW.”
When Jim got into the lift his hand hesitated over the buttons, and then he punched the button for the floor for the GDP office. The girl on reception smiled at him.
“I want to speak to the Major, now.”
“Who shall I say is calling?”
Jim's smile was chilling, “The Sentinel Prime of Cascade James Ellison.”
The effect on the receptionist was immediate. “Of course sir, one minute.”
The young woman came out straight away. “Sentinel Prime Ellison, how can I...?” She never got to finish the sentence.
“Lady it is very simple, you keep away from my Guide. You don't talk about him, you don't even look at him. If I ever hear of you so much as causing him the slightest grief then I will be in here so fast your head will be spinning. And I will get you transferred to the Alaska office. Understand me?”
”Sentinel, your Guide..?.”
“Exactly lady…MY Guide.” He closed the distance. “Only mine. We have an understanding now.”
“Good.” Jim Ellison turned on his heels and left, his point made.
Jim came out of the office, tapping an ear to clear it from the white noise generator that had popped his ears; it appears she hadn't wasted any time in reporting his visit to her superiors. Jim stretched out his senses for his Guide, three floors up. Then he began to take the stairs, two at a time, his Guide was with Simon Banks?
He gave Rafe and H a barbed look, as he came in fast and ground to a halt. Blair was stretched out on the sofa in the Captain's office, his eyes where closed and a thermal blanket covered him, a half eaten sandwich sat on a plate to the side on the floor.
“Quiet Jim, he's asleep"
"What have you done to him?” The Sentinel snarled, but it amused Simon that he kept his voice down all the same.
"Nothing. We had a talk, and he explained allot of things to me. Sentinel things.” He seemed tired, so I got him sitting down… and he just fell asleep." Simon decided to tell Jim about Henderson later, first he wanted to have a word with the uniform himself.
"Adrenaline rebound. The doctor told me about it.” Jim moved across and a hypersensitive hand brushed Blair's cheek, breaking a small smile as his Guide made a small contented noise and settled down.
"Jim… I was wrong. All I wanted to do was protect you, from the very person that has that as his job description. I LISTENED to the wrong person, and allowed my prejudice to colour my thinking.”
The Sentinel just looked at him. "S*** happens Simon.” His hands ghosted over his Guide, needing to check that he was alright.
"I thought, well…. you would have more to say to me.” Simon sounded puzzled.
"I would have killed you the other day, but last night he talked and talked." Again his mouth tugged into a smile as he added, “He's good at that. He explained to me that you meant well, and then we bonded...”
"We're cool on this now Captain." A sleepy voice put in, as a hand caught his Sentinel's wrist, holding it in place with just the tips of his fingers, "Aren't we Jim?”
The Sentinels other hand ruffled the sleep flattened curls hair affectingly, "Sure chief.”
"It will never happen again JIM. I'll make sure of that." Simon promised levelly, and was fixed by the Sentinel's laser blue eyes. All he received was a curt nod but then Jim got up, "I have a report to finish, I'll leave him here.” Banks knew it was going to be okay, Jim trusted him with his Guide, and this time he wouldn't fall down on the Job.