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

With thanks to Gail and Nancy.

This story is set in the GDP series, and in the early days of Jim and Blairís bonding.

They have just bonded, and completed the 14 days isolation.

H/C for both Jim and Blair.

The Elevator

The elevator was dark, and Blair was curled up in the corner of it. He had no idea how long he had been stuck. He didnít have a watch, no need for a guide to know the time, all he had to know was when his sentinel wanted him.

The walls of the car seemed to close in on him. He shuddered.

//Two years ago, I was a grad student with my BA, MA and looking forward to starting work on my Ph.D. Dr. Woodward had accepted me as a TA, and now just because of that bitch Barnes, I am nothing, a guide.//

Blair pressed his face against his sleeve. //If I had had the guts I would have killed myself rather than let Barnes and Wilson abuse me, but I didnít. I was too scared. Jim Ellison knows all about what they did. How long before he realizes what I am going to do to his reputation at the PD. Wilson is still out there; what if, what if.// His mind just froze on that thought. The tears slowly and silently tracked down his face.

Since Jim Ellison had claimed him, he had been kept in the loft, not allowed out, except for that one trip to the police station, and then he had overloaded so badly that Jim had nearly taken him to the hospital. Just the thought of being surrounded by GDP medics had made him panic. //I let Jim down. I am still surprised that he hasn't taken a leash to me. Alex would have.//

Blair shivered again. //How had it gone wrong?// He hugged himself harder.

Jim had promised him his life back. //But if I continue to screw up, will he still allow me to go back to Rainier? I disgraced him again today. There is only so much a sentinel will take from his guide. Perhaps I have just exceeded that limit today. Stupid so stupid...//

0-0-0-0-0

Earlier that Morning:

Jim Ellison was in a bad mood, he had woken up to spitting pieces of tooth out The blow he had taken to his jaw had wreaked more damage than he had thought. His jaw was now multicolored, and when he opened his mouth to gingerly feel his back teeth, the pain had nearly taken his head off. With a groan, he lowered his head against the cool bathroom tiles. He hated the dentist. He would rather walk naked through the jungle--scratch that, he had already done that--sit through a lecture on guide maintance, than go to the dentist.

He pulled the door to the medicine cabinet open, and looked inside. It was nearly empty. He remembered then that he had dumped most of the drugs after the doctor at the hospital had warned that Blair might be sucidal after the assaults he had suffered at the facility. Personally, he thought the man was shooting the breeze. Blair, he knew, would never do that, but all the same he had dumped the stronger medication, the blessed protector in him demanding that he take every precaution where his guide was concerned. And now he was going to have to live with it.

Breakfast had been eaten in near silence. When he had reached for a carton of orange juice, Blair had flinched, ducking down, eyes scared. Jim had pushed back his anger, he had cut himself off from Blair because of the pain, and the kid thought he was angry at him for something. Now his guide looked at him as if he was expecting any minute to feel a blow around his head, scared that he had infuriated him. By now his jaw was so painful that it was an effort to speak, but he had to try and put right some of the hurt he had inflicted on his guide. When Blair turned from putting the dirty plates onto kitchen island, he turned and found himself almost pinned to the counter.

"Easy, Chief, I am not angry with you." With the greatest of care, as if he was touching something of great value that would break, he put his hand against the side of Blairís neck and eased him forward, resting his forehead against Blairís.

Then trying to remember the younger man's lessons, he pressed against Blairís mind, and it opened to him, wide, then he felt it wrap around him.

Blair suddenly gave a cry of pain, as he took in Jimís pain. His hands clutched at him, trying to hold him, to prevent him pulling back at the gasp of pain. He found himself looking into wide blue eyes. Jim knew then that he could not deal with this now. He pulled back, firmly breaking the connection. He felt his guide sink against him, feeling the almost physical loss, his knees almost buckling.

He could not explain, not now, and tried to peel Blair off him.

His guide blocked him when he tried to leave, the smaller hand brushed his face, and pain sliced through his head. He had to get out of there. In desperation he caught his guide, and then lifted him up and placed him out of the way. "Back off, Sandburg," his pain made him snap at his guide. He could see Blair almost fold in on himself. "I am going out now. Do your chores around the apartment. Once they're done you can watch the Discovery Channel, not before. And donít leave the apartment, or Iíll have your hide."

"Y-yes."

Jim swore under his breath. Blairís stuttering had begun to fade away as he got more confidence, but he had managed to scare him. In his pain he had lashed out verbally at the one person he had vowed never to knowingly hurt.

"Look, Chief, I didnít mean to hurt you." He quickly ran his hands over his guide, distressed to feel the heat of bruises on his forearms where he had grabbed him. Jim felt Blair tremble slightly when his hand ran down the back of his head and shoulders. He rested his hand on the back of Blairís neck and pulled him very gently forward, feeling the tension in the smaller body. He hugged him, until he felt the tension fade. "We okay on this, Blair?"

 

"Y-yess." There was a long pause. "Sorry, it was my fault, Sentinel."

Puzzled, Jim eased him back, and when Blair didnít look him in the face, with the tip of one finger he eased his chin up. "Why is my bad temper your fault, Chief?"

"The guide..." he tried to steady his breathing.

Jim began to stroke his guide, trying to show with touch that there was nothing to fear.

"The guide must look after his sentinel. If the sentinel loses his temper the fault is with the guide. I must have done something wrong." Blair tried to sink down to his knees. "Sentinel, instruct your guide, show him his failings."

"Blair, cut this crap out now." Jim gave the smaller man a gentle shake. He had seen this before, when Blair would get trapped into some conditioning that had been forced on him in the facility. "You do a lot for me already."

"But you're in pain. I know you're hurting, please let me help you?"

Jim hesitated, his hand petting Blair. The pain was peaking again. All he had to do was let Blair help him, but he was too embarrassed. He was a wimp. All he had to do was walk into the dentist's office and get the tooth pulled, but the moment he set foot in there his legs would turn to jelly. It was a weakness, and he could not allow them. How could he protect his guide, if he allowed something like this to put him down.

With great care, Jim eased back from Blair, his fingertips brushing Blairís face. "I wonít be long, just stay here. Your barriers, how are they?"

"High, Jim."

"Good. I won't be long, Chief. Now remember to keep the door locked. Don't let anyone into the loft. I don't care if they're card-carrying members of the GDP, they donít get in. And if you need me, use the cell phone number." He patted Blairís shoulder as he went out. Once the door had closed behind him he put a hand to his jaw and groaned. The pain had increased.

0-0-0-0-0

Blair reached up to the cupboard and opened it, looking around. It was nearly bare of food. He could understand that. Before Jim went online as a sentinel, his sense of taste would have been going through the roof. He would have been eating less, and only bland things. Blair looked down at the food on the table. All he needed was some pasta and a small can of plum tomatoes, and he would have dinner ready. He looked at the clock and bit his lip. Jim had told him that he could not go out alone yet, even though their fourteen-day period of isolation was over. But Jim wasnít here, and he would expect a meal when he came in.

Blair opened the French doors onto the balcony and then peered over the edge. He knew it wasnít logical, he could not fall. The balcony had a four-foot wall around it, but even so he clung on as his head began to swim. He had seen what he wanted, a small supermarket. It wasnít far. He could get out, get what he wanted and then hurry back. He mentally checked his barriers. He felt them quiver slightly, and then become more solid.

Now he needed money. He remembered seeing Jim put some change in one of the drawers of the small table near the door, where he always threw his keys. Jim had flown out, after receiving a phone call. Then he saw Jimís wallet. Looking around, he opened it, and saw the $20 note. His hand began to shake. It wasnít as if he was stealing, this was for money to buy food for his sentinel.

He pushed the wallet into his pocket, and then saw the spare key in the drawer. He picked it up and put it in his pocket. Slowly, he pushed open the front door, then for the first time on his own he stepped out into the corridor. When the door further along began to open, he had a glimpse of an older grey-haired woman. Before she could say anything, he rushed past, keeping his head down, eyes fixed on the floor.

Hettyís mouth closed, the words of welcome not having the time to be uttered. There was something wrong with that young man, but, for the life of her, she couldnít put her finger on it. He appeared to be living with the very cold police officer. They looked like the original odd couple. It was a mystery, and she promised herself that she was going to solve it. When she saw the young man stop at the elevator, she headed towards him. "Hello. You're new, arenít you?"

Blair stabbed the button of the elevator call. He heard the woman call to him. He kept ignoring her, staring at the floor, grateful when the door opened and he got in. The elevator shuddered and then began to head downwards.

//I can do this, I can do this.// Blair repeated the mantra to himself.

Hetty found herself looking at the closed door of the elevator. //Young man, you can run, but you canít hide,// she mused as she walked back to her apartment.

0-0-0-0-0

Scott White looked up from his counter as the newcomer entered the supermarket, a rather grand name for a mom and pop operation. Immediately he began to watch the kid. He looked as white as a ghost, and there where dark shadows under his eyes. Scott nodded to himself, a junkie and strung out by the look of him. His hand moved nearer the gun he kept for personal protection,. You never knew with that sort what they might try next, the last one had tried to punch his way through a freezer door. This one looked flaky enough to try anything.

The kid moved around adding things to his basket, and then finally made his way nervously to the cash desk. Scott ran the goods through the scanner. "Fifteen dollars." He kept his voice neutral.

Blair pulled the wallet out and began to take a note out, when a hand caught the wallet and pulled it out of his fingers. "Stupid move, kid. Ellison is going to have your guts. Of all the dumb things, to steal a cop's wallet."

"M-m-m-my Sentinel." Blair found it hard to speak, his eyes never leaving the gun that now waved in his face. It looked impossibly large.

"Sure, kid. Detective Ellison is going to have a junkie like you as his guide. Now keep your hands where I can see them." Scott reached for the telephone, and it was then Blair bolted out onto the street, clutching the paper sack.

Blair headed for the only place he knew, the loft. Almost too late he saw the car. It braked hard, and Blair bounced off the edge of the hood. His knees hit the street, and then he was up and running. All that burned through Blairís head was the word *run*. He bit his lip against the pain from his knees where the gravel had torn through the material, and the pain radiating up from the center of his body and his internal injuries. He could not be caught by *them*. All he had fixed in his brain was that he had to get back to the loft. Blairís fingers fumbled with the electronic key to open the security door. He was relieved to see the elevator was on the ground floor.

He pressed the button for the third floor, and with a shudder it started up. Then suddenly it seem to drop, and he was thrown against the wall as the lights went out. In the pitch black he groped for the panel, his fumbling fingers hitting the emergency light button. It was then he saw the telephone was broken, the dangling cord mocking him.

Blair began to panic. Suddenly, he did not seem able to breathe, the air catching in his lungs, and he began to hammer on the door, yelling for help, but no one could hear him. The light on the panel flickered, and immediately Blairís fear began to increase. The light was pitiful, but at least he wasnít all in the dark. If that failed... But the light came back. Blair sank down on the floor of the elevator car and just looked up at it, as if it was his only lifeline.

In his mind the small light became the light coming from the viewing hole in his cell. He was in the dark, alone, and any time soon, he would hear Wilson and his croniesí footsteps, and then it would start all over again.

0-0-0-0-0

Jim Ellisonís mood had not improved. The dentist had been a real butcher, the needle to numb his mouth had felt like a blunt knitting needle. The first time the dentist had touched his tooth, he had been out of the chair. He didnít need this. The dentist had been apologetic, but had been pleased to see the sentinel go; they were notoriously bad patients.

He pulled up in front of the loft, then saw the police car outside of the Whiteís Supermarket. He glanced up at the loft, then headed down to see that was going on.

The uniform gave his partner a nudge. "Thatís Ellison." Then louder. "Detective Ellison, we tried to get in touch with you. Mr. White called us after a junkie tried to use your wallet to pay for some goods."

"Junkie."

Jim put his hand in his pocket, his wallet was missing. He took the evidence bag off the counter. The wallet was his, sure enough. He racked his brain, he had left it in the drawer by the door. "Blair."

"Sir?" Officer Beck asked.

"The man who brought it in, what did he look like?"

"Mr. White described him as five foot seven or eight at the most, thin build, long hair, very pale, strung out, shivering, could hardly speak, too large clothes."

"That was my guide, Blair. He was doing some shopping for me." The police officer looked at Mr. White, as he was telling his story for the fifth time to his regular customers. "Mr. White, could you come over here please."

Scott pulled himself up, he was the hero of the hour. Pity he could not have gotten that punk kid. That really would have been something.

"Mr. White, did the young man say anything to you when you told him it was Detective Ellisonís wallet?" Officer Beck asked.

"He swore at me, and said something about a fucking pig's money being as good as anyone else's. He was really strung out, you know--crazy eyes. I thought the kid was going to pull a knife on me."

The police officers exchanged a look. "Er, Mr. White, would you like to think again."

"No need, thatís what he said."

Jimís temper was getting worse by the second. He could not fault Scottís misunderstanding over the wallet, but his lies began to grate.

"Scott, that was my guide, Blair Sandburg. Are you telling me that he didnít identify himself to you?" His voice had an edge to it as he added, "Remember I can tell the difference, if you lie."

"Okay, the kid said he was your guide, Mr. Ellison, but come on, how was I to know? He looked like those druggie students from Rainier."

Officer Beck closed his notebook with a snap. This was between White and Ellison now, and he knew who he would put the money on. What Ellison did with his guide about this mess wasnít any of their concern; that would be sentinel and guide business.

Jim pocketed his wallet as he came out of the supermarket, his hand pressed to his face. The pain had started to knife up through his jaw again. He pressed the elevator call button, and heard a dull thud as it tried to come down. "Great, out of order again."

Then he stopped in his tracks as he heard a cry. Someone was stuck in the elevator.

He climbed the stairs. The elevator was stuck between the second and third floors. It was then he recognized the too fast heartbeat echoing in the steel box. It was Blairís, he was stuck in the elevator.

"Blair."

There was no answer.

The sentinel took the stairs two at a time and went down into the basement. The caretaker, Mr. Carey, was looking wistfully into the electric box.

He listened carefully to what the sentinel had to say, then shook his head. "I am sorry detective, but I called the elevator firm. They said they could get here in two hours. They're on another call at the moment.

"MY guide is in that ELEVATOR."

Mr. Carey backed off a step. "Now I didnít know that Detective, I thought it was empty. The car canít fall, heís real safe up there." His attempt to reassure the sentinel didnít seem to be working.

"Do you have a crowbar?"

"Sure," then he paused. "Why."

"I am getting him out, and youíre going to help me." Jimís look killed any protests the man might have made.

0-0-0-0-0

Blair had heard the footsteps near the lift, the voice calling out to him, but as scared as he was he ignored it.

//If I keep quiet they won't see me. If they donít see me, they canít hurt me.// Blair kept repeating his mantra. So far the guards hadnít entered the cell. He had heard them call his name, but he was too clever to answer them. If he did, they would know he was there.//

Jim forced the elevator door open and looked down the shaft. He could get down it, but Blair would not be able to get up it very easily, so he was going to have to wait with his guide until they got the elevator going.

He disappeared into the loft, and came back with a blanket, some food and a bottle of mineral water pushed in his pockets.

"I am going to stay with him. You tell that firm that you have people stuck, and I expect to be out in one hour. You follow me?"

"Yes, sir." When Detective Ellison spoke to you in that tone, you obeyed him.

Carefully, so not to rock the car, Jim climbed down, ignoring the grease stains on his jacket and trousers. All that mattered was he was going to get to his guide.

The trap door to the car opened, and Jim shinnied a flashlight in, but the moment the light hit Blair, his guide threw his arm up to protect his eyes, and shot across the small car to the far side away from him. "Please, donít hurt me." Blair pulled in on himself, the fear overlaid his scent. It was enough to turn Jimís stomach, but he had to keep his emotions on an even keel. If he lost it now, it would do neither of them any good. Jim lowered himself down, and dropped the rest of the way, his feet landing with a bang on the steel floor. Blair gave a cry and tried to make himself one with the wall behind him.

"Itís all right, Chief, nice and easy." Jim wanted to go to his guide, but he held back.

Blair's fingers were painfully digging into his arms as he shivered.

"Chief, I am just going to sit down near you."

"Blair, NO!" His guide threw himself back against the wall, his head thumping against it with a clang. The guide reached a hand up and rubbed the back of his head. His eyes were clear, and understanding now colored them.

"J-J-Jim."

"Yes, Chief, I'm here." With great care he inched towards his guide. The next minute Blair was being held and pulled close to his sentinel. He clung on tightly. Only then did his heart begin to slow.

"S-so-s-orry."

"There's nothing to be sorry about, Blair." He began to pet his guide. As his sensitive fingers began to check him over, Jim was alamed by the heavy bruising that he found on the smaller body. His hands ran under Blairís loose clothing, as he checked for injuries and the metallic scent of blood. He went into Blessed Protector overdrive.

"I was back in the cell," Blair stammered. The aggression level of his sentinel had gone though the roof. He pulled himself up so that he was in his sentinel's lap, his body wrapped around the larger man. He broadcast his needs and fears freely to the one man he knew would protect him.

"You're safe, Blair, I wonít let them near you, I promise you that. Your Blessed Protector will tear them apart if they so much as look at you the wrong way. You're mine, Blair, and no one hurts my guide." It was said with the deep-throated roar of the Dark Sentinel for his soulmated guide.

"Really?" Blair kept his face pressed against the sports jacket.

"Really, kid. No one take whatís mine." It resulted in Blair being pulled even tighter against Jim, and cuddled even harder.

Blair patted his sentinelís chest lightly. "Sorry that you have a real wimp as a guide." He could not hide the disappointment in himself.

"Chief, youíre my guide, and I have no regrets. Hell, if I had been through what you had, I would have freaked out.

He felt Jimís breath against his ear. "Link, Chief, we bond now."

"In here?" There was a touch of alarm in Blairís voice.

"Here and now. Claimed and Marked, Guide."

"Claimed and Marked, Sentinel," Blair finished the vow. With the greatest of care Blair felt himself lowered onto the steel floor, held in one arm. Jim shook out the blanket with the other, then settled them both down on the makeshift bonding platform. Through the bond the sentinel could reassure himself that his guide was all right, and reassert ownership.

"The light in the panel went out, and they were left with only the light from the flashlight. This time, Blair was not frightened because he knew he was safe and protected. Wilson and his cronies of his waking nightmares could never touch him, because Jim would not let them.

With a soft sigh, the connection between the two of them joined.

"Talk to me, Blair."

"What about?" The young guide was slightly startled by the request. Feeling his unease in the bond, Jim tucked him under his chin, and soothed him.

"Anything." Jim racked his brain. "How did all this come about? You know, the GDP."

For a while there was nothing, and he was worried Sandburg would not take the bait.

"Speke." Blair said the name, and then wished it back.

"Speke, the guy that wrote the GDP handbook."

"Something like that." The guide was watching his sentinel carefully in the light of the flashlight.

"Can you tell me about it, Chief?" Jim settled back into a more comfortable position and encouraged the smaller man to get comfortable. Feeling contented when Blair rested easily against him within his arms, he felt the tug on the back of his mind as Blair started to draw from him.

"You really want to know."

"Of course, wouldnít have asked if I didnít want to know." Jim knew that Blair would be reading his emotions now, in the bond.

Jim tugged the blanket around them both.

"There were two explorers in the 19th Century from England, Richard Burton, the explorer, not the actor, and Speke. They both found the source of the Nile. Burton spoke muti-langages, and was the first proper anthropologist. He actually lived with his subjects, and didnít try to change them. He observed them. But he and Speke had a falling out after one particular trip into the interior of Peru, when Burton was working on the ambassador staff in Brazil. They got lost in the jungle for three weeks to a month. When they came out, Burton wrote his first book on Sentinels. The book was largely forgotten, until sentinels began to appear again. Modern medicine was ignorant of the condition, and a lot were lost. But finally they started to look at the work of the only expert on the condition.

"Burton."

"No, Speke. His work became the cornerstone of the GDP creed." Blair looked up nervously at Jim. "I am I talking too much?"

"No, Chief. So they used Spekeís book. What's the difference?"

"Speke was a sentinel, and Burton was the guide. Speke hated Burtonís guts, and they must have never bonded. Theirs would have been a poisonous bond. So his work points out in painful detail the failings of the guide, how weak."

Blair yawned; the events of the day were catching up to him. "The GDP was created after the war. To start with, they had no power, and they actually helped out. Gradually, as the need for guides to work with sentinels became more known, the government started state-sponsored testing programs. If your enemies have sentinel warriors, then you have them, too. But not enough guides were coming forward, so some were forced into service. Then when the K2000 crash happened, the GDP came into their own. The GDP got the political backing they wanted, and the rights of the guides became lost.

"Abroad, other counties have the Burton version as their baseline, which talks, because he was a guide, of the beauty of the bond, and the need for the unity of the two." Blair yawned again and then buried his face against his sentinel, feeling secure and protected. No one could harm him, he was safe.

"Although Burton is the more well-known, they only use excerpts from his book where it actually backs up the information in Spekeís work. Call it a hybrid, but if you ask anyone, they always say it's Burtonís work. Speke must be turning over in his grave. Ironic, really, isnít it?" Blair yawned.

The pride Jim felt in his guide vibrated through the bond, warming Blair. Softly against Blairís ear Jim whispered, "You're going to be a great teacher, Chief, you have a real talent. Woodward's going to be lucky to get you. Soon, Blair, soon." Blair slid into sleep as the events of the day caught up with him.

A smile tugged Jim's lips as Blair, in his sleep, tried to maximize the contact between them. He tried to almost climb on top of him, one leg thrown over his, clinging on as if frightened that Jim would leave him. Softly, he began to talk to Blair, whispering against his ear, telling him all the things they would do; how he would go back to Rainier, how he would have his life back, that he did have a future, and that Blair had to believe him. This was no whim on his part, this was going to all happen. He wasnít going to take it away from him.

His head tilted slightly as he realized that Blair was waking up. He kept a firm hold on the smaller man, not wanting him to panic when he woke up in the near dark.

Blair gave a satisfied little moan, as Jimís hand began to massage the back of his neck and head, coaxing him back to sleep again.

The jolt of the elevator woke the sleeping guide and dozing sentinel. Jim blinked as the doors opened. He would have been blinded for a moment if Blair hadnít whispered for him to lower the dials on his eyesight. Standing, Jim reached down and pulled Blair to his feet. The engineer moved out of the way. The caretaker had told him that the trapped men were guide and sentinel. He could see the blue eyes of the sentinel glare at him, and he made sure that he was seen as no threat. He could well believe the bigger of the two men was ready to take him apart with his bare hands.

"You took your time," Jim snarled.

"Sorry, sir." The engineer backed away even further, mentally vowing that next time he got called to Prospect he would be on time.

It was when Jim had closed the door to the loft that he found his way blocked by his guide. Blair stepped forward, making him step back against the door.

Reaching a hand up, Blair lightly stroked his face. "You're hurting, Jim. Talk to me, please." Blair was still clinging to the paper sack. He let it drop to the floor when Jim tried to walk around him. Blair blocked his way again, this time resting his palm against his sentinel's chest. When Jim looked down into his face, he saw the blue eyes flash as a surge of emotions blazed through their link. Jim realized that the protective instinct was not restricted to the sentinel, it was in the guide as well, and Blair was in the guide Blessed Protector mode. He could not help but chuckle; if the GDP could see it they would never believe it, but in his mind the Dark Sentinel reveled in the deepened connection.

"No way, man." Blairís voice had changed to the guide tone, only this was one he had rarely heard--it was the kick ass guide voice. "Youíre going to a dentist."

"I canít go back."

"Why not?"

Jim closed his eyes, unable to meet Blairís. "I hate the dentist, okay? The needles, the instruments, they feel blunt, and taste weird."

"Big guy, youíre a sentinel, you need to dial it all down."

"Would you come?"

Blair lightly stroked his sentinelís shoulder, calming him down. Through the link he could feel the very real fear the older man had. "Sure, Iíll be there every step of the way."

"Last time I went to the dentist, Dad wouldn't..." Jim trailed off embarrassed. He sounded like a...

"Wimp." Blair supplied, as he picked the word from his sentinel's mind. "Jim, you were a child, a sentinel--okay, latent, but still a sentinel. He should have taken you to a dentist in sentinel medicine. They would have understood. He paused, then took Jimís hand, and gave it a tug. "Let's go find you a dentist."

0-0-0-0-0

Dr. Williams shook hands with Jim, and then looked at Blair. "Guide Sandburg, we spoke on the phone." The doctor believed in treating the guide as a person, and he had been surprised that most of the sentinels he treated didnít seem to mind. This one didnít. He might have looked a guideís worse nightmare--he looked stern and unforgiving--but the way he had shepherded his guide in, and the glare he gave the doctor, was all he needed to know.

"Now Guide Sandburg told me that youíre not too keen on the dentist, bad experiences. That's good to know, it means I can work around them." He paused, the sentinel looked as if he was going to bolt, but when the guide's hand had rested on his arm, he had looked down at the smaller man, and whatever had passed between them had calmed the bigger man down.

"Please take a seat. Now, if your guide will sit just here." He moved a very low stool into place. This would put Blair at his sentinel's feet, out of the way of the dentist and nurse as they worked.

"Doctor, if I may."

Williams took his nurse and pulled her back away from them.

Blairís hands rested against Jimís face, careful of his lower jaw, and he looked straight into his eyes, blue meeting blue, trust exchanged and amplified back between them. "Youíre going to turn your dials down for me; first taste, 5, 4, 3, 2, and hold on two. Touch, 5, 4, 3, 2 and hold. He ran his hands down Jim's body, his palms touching his shoulder, then one hand down each arm to his hands, and then the smaller hands curled around the larger ones. "I'm here, Jim, always here." He sat down, leaning forward so that his body blanketed Jimís legs and his head rested on Jimís thigh. Jim slid one hand out of Blairís and rested it on his head, his fingers sliding into the long curly hair. Anchored with Blair, he felt the tug on his mind deepen, and he nodded to the dentist to start.

0-0-0-0-0

The Loft.

Jim sat on the sofa as Blair fussed around him. His face was still numb, and he was going to regret it when it thawed out, but in the meantime he had something more important to worry about. He caught his guide by the wrist and tugged him down next to him. Talking was a little hard, but Jim needed to put something right.

"I know what happened, Chief." He showed him the wallet.

Blair pulled back, but before he could say anything, he was tugged hard enough so that he sprawled against Jim, and was held tight.

"I'm not angry, Blair, I just need to know why."

"We had run out of food, and I wanted to make a meal, and I thought it wouldn't hurt."

"White could have hurt you . You didn't wait around because you thought they would call the GDP. Right, Chief?"

"Yeah."

"Tomorrow, I'm going to take you around to all the shops I have an account with and introduce you. This isnít going to happen again. Your name is going on all the accounts, and if you need anything, and I mean anything--school supplies, or a new jacket, you ask for it, and it gets charged. Right, kiddo?"

"Jim, you donít have to."

"This is our home, Blair, and our accounts. You not a second class citizen. You might be my guide, but you're Blair Jacob Sandburg first and foremost, and one day the world is going to know that."

"Sure, Jim." Blair was looking at him as if he was out of his head; he laid a hand against his head as if looking for a fever.

"No fever dreams, Blair--the future." His jaw began to hurt, so he pulled his guide closer, and then rested his face against his shoulder. The pain seemed to lessen, as he bathed in Blairís soothing presence.

The End