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.

My thanks to Gail, Nancy and Lois for your beta reading and your input.

This is a general story, but contains intense emotional.

 

Love and Lies

Part Two

Blaer followed his Sentinel and found him seated on a rock looking towards a small waterfall. He seemed lost. Blaer started forward, frightened that Jeme had begun to zone out.

Before he could reach him, Jeme said, without turning around, his eyes still focused on something only he could see, "I can hear you, Blaer, so why don't you talk to me?"

"Jeme, it's not what you think."

This time Jeme turned around. "Then tell me what all this is about. You have betrayed me, Blaer. Used me. So explain to me how everything is all right. Is that what they taught you at the Temple, to use and abuse your bond? We might be barbarians in your eyes, but none of the clan Guides would do that to their Sentinels, even if they didn't have your education."

Blaer was knocked back by the fury in Jeme's voice and eyes. "Jeme, please."

"Then talk, Blaer, and make it good."

The young Guide was shaking. It was as if the very bond they shared was no longer at peace; it was like a burning brand running through him.

"Tell me, Blaer, why did you lie about the bond?"

"I didn't lie." He saw the look on Jeme's face, then added, "Maybe I just didn't tell you everything. I was frightened I would lose you if you knew. Sentinels have been known to refuse the bond through fear." Blaer hesitated. "The darkest bond is never gentle, and you are not trained. I thought I could control it for both of us. I failed." Blaer looked down at his hands.

Suddenly, to Jeme, Blaer looked every one of his years, small vulnerable, not the ice-cold assassin, the shaman -- just a young Guide scared of losing his Sentinel.

Blaer felt Jeme's hand on his shoulder, and he was moved over to the wide stone that Jeme had been sitting on, and pushed down onto it.

Jeme's voice had a timber to it which Blaer had never heard before. "This ends now, Blaer. We finish the bond."

"You want to do this?"

"Would I say that if I didn't mean it?''

"No." Blaer took a steadying breath. "The dark bond is known as the animal spirit bond, because the bonding takes place not just on this plain but in the spirit world as well. They merge with us, and we become one. It gives us extra strength in the bond. The spirit guides have to be commanded, if they gain control, then we are lost."

"You mean like when I hurt you?"

Blaer rested his hand on Jeme's wrist, his fingertips brushing the pulse point. "When you merged with the Panther, it prevented you from overloading with the strength of your senses, but you did not accept it. You were reluctant to accept your spirit guide, and in the dark bond you fought him. You have to lead him. Then the Wolf will lead the Panther."

"So what do we do?"

Blaer still had to ask, "Jeme, are you sure you really what to do this?"

"Yes."

Blaer felt Jeme pull him close so they were seated against each other. "In the bond, the Sentinel usually sets the pace of the bond; the Guide is there to help direct it, nothing more."

"Except when he jumps on his Sentinel," Jeme put in levelly, watching with some amusement as Blaer colored, remembering all too clearly when his need to bond had gotten the best of him, and he had thrown himself at his Sentinel, aggressively taking the lead in the bonding.

"As I was saying, in the darkest bond, the Guide takes control from the Sentinel. His will becomes that of his Guide, the needs of the Guide become his." He risked looking straight at Jeme's face and saw the look burning in them. He quickly looked away. "The Guide can use the Sentinel to look through his eyes, hear with his ears, and feel through his hands."

"Is that restricted to just when we bond, or would you be able to do it all the time?"

"No, all the time, but it has to be practiced. The dark bond allows the connection to be made."

"So the Guide becomes the dominant one in the partnership?"

"Only in the darkest bond," Blaer put in quickly. "That is where the problem in our bond lies. Because you have not accepted the Panther part of you, the man has not taken charge, and therefore the Panther will not submit to the Guide's dominancy. Now I am finding it hard to control the Wolf." Blaer's fingers picked the edge of his robe, and he lapsed into silence, so Jeme continued.

"When we performed the ceremony in front of the clan, the touching of the belt to my face, that was not just me acknowledging your bond, was it? It was to say that I submitted to your leadership. Another lie, Blaer?"

"Yes." Blaer sounded miserable. "I was joining with your senses when I overloaded on them and fell into the void."

Jeme's anger bubbled. "Blaer, you could have told me, or did you trust me so little?

Jeme reached out, his hands cupping Blaer's face. His thumbs gently stroked, the pads ghosting over his eyes and mouth. Then slowly they trailed down Blaer's arms until they took his hands.

"Why have you been so touchy about the girls. Jess said you threatened to kill his daughter."

For Blaer, the embarrassment could not have gotten any worse, and yet he had to answer because he would no longer hold back a lie from his soul-mate. "The Panther is too near the surface. You could have hurt them if the need to mate became too strong." Even so, he hesitated to continue, but Blaer saw the way Jeme looked at him and knew that the time for lying was over. "I was jealous of them. They might have taken you away from me. You're my mate, my Sentinel."

"So you frightened them away." Jeme tutted, then the humor left his eyes, and it was replaced by something else. "Blaer, what we have can never be threatened by the pleasures of the flesh. Their attraction is of the moment only."

He pinned Blaer with a look, and Blaer felt a fire ignited in his belly, and spreading through his body, rushing to his head, the breath caught in his throat. It was the look of a Sentinel in need to claimed by his Guide. Jeme had now moved that close, they touched as lightning arced between them.

Blaer hooked his fingers through Jeme's and pulled them up close to his chest, over his heart. "Close your eyes, Jeme." Only when he had done that did Blaer then join his mind to that of his Sentinel. "Now open your mind to me. Let me take you on the journey."

Blaer closed his eyes, and leaned his head against his Sentinel's shoulder.

As Blaer slid into Jeme's mind, the world around him changed, the whole area was alive with a blue light. No other colors seemed to exist. Jeme found himself looking down at his Guide. Across them in the clearing stood the spirit guides.

The Panther was pacing, but the Wolf was blocking him, his eyes never leaving the face of his chosen one. The Panther fainted to the left and then was past. It gathered speed and jumped, hitting Jeme in the chest, throwing him backward. Like a cat, he twisted in mid-air and landed on all fours, his legs gathered under him. When he looked up at Blaer, it was with the Panther; he snarled and powered up. The Wolf cut between them yapping and growling.

The Panther Man looked down at it and snarled as the Wolf prevented it from getting to what he needed, his Guide.

Blaer knelt and put a hand out, petting his spirit guide. The Wolf merging, becoming one with itís human.

The Panther Sentinel and the Wolf Guide looked at each other. The Panther started to slowly circle its smaller mate.

For the Panther Man the need to pin and claim his Guide was the only thought that burned through his head.

But the Wolf Guide stood his ground. "Panther, are you ready to submit to the will of your Guide?"

The Panther Sentinel growled, wanting control, not willing to be taken by its Guide, to give up control to the smaller Wolf. It was the dominant one of the partnership; he would not give in. Then the Panther shook its head, growling as if in pain.

When it straightened its head, it was Jeme that looked up -- the man, no longer the Panther, looked at his Wolf Guide. "Guide, your Sentinel submits to you, in this world of the spirits and in the world of man."

The Wolf Guide smiled. The words he longed to hear had been voiced. The man had spoken, not the Panther. The Wolf Guide reached out with both hands. They were engulfed by the larger hands of the Sentinel. The Wolf pulled back to allow Blaer to come forward.

The sheer power of the Dark Sentinel vibrated through the bond. It was then the bond became visible to both of them; the dark red of the Sentinel mixed and blended with the yellow life force of the Guide. It twisted around them, wrapping them together.

Blaer's eyes never left his Sentinel's face. As he echoed the Sentinel's words. "This world and the next, my Sentinel."

The bond began to glow brighter. Both men felt it as it pushed them towards completion.

"Claim me, Guide."

Blaer was drawn closer by the sheer strength of the older man. This was not the Sentinel trying to take control of his Guide, this was the Sentinel using his strength to pay homage to his Guide. All Blaer could see and feel through the bond was Jeme's total acceptance of him, of the darkest bond. He was willing now to give up a part of himself, the thing that he treasured above all things-- control -- to him. These were not empty words, this was a gesture that once enacted, could never be called back.

On an instinct older than time itself, Jeme knew exactly what he had to do. He brought their joined hands up and brushed them across his face, then Blaer's, touching eyes, mouth, then heart. His eyes never leaving Blaer's face, he drew Blaer into his body.

The Guide became one with his Sentinel.

For Blaer it was as if Jeme's hands were his, only one heart now pounded in their body, one pair of lungs gave them breath. His eyes were that of his Sentinel, he heard what his Sentinel heard. As he did so, they joined mind, body and soul. The Sentinel's screamed cry was echoed by the Panther, as he gave himself fully to his Guide. The power coursing through the joined Sentinel and Guide, searing them together for this life and the next. None now could break the bond.

Blaer cried out, his voice joining that of his Sentinel as it brought them both to completion of the darkest of all bonds.

With a shudder, Blaer fell backwards out of his Sentinel's body and found himself looking up into Jeme's face, their hands still joined. For a moment he was scared that Jeme now regretted their joining, knowing that if he was rejected now, he was lost, with only insanity and death left for him.

Jeme released one hand and reached out, the palm of his hand resting against Blaerís throat, the thumb gently brushing his lips and cheek. It was then Blaer's fears began to fade. All he saw in the vivid blue eyes of his Sentinel was the joy of the bond, his acceptance of their fully mated state. Their souls joined together, tying them across the ages. No matter what happened, Sentinel and Guide would always find each other, no matter what time or place. Neither would ever be alone. They would always find each other, soul-mated for eternity.

The blue of the spirit world faded, and Blaer woke. He was held tightly against his Sentinel's body. He was exhausted, the pathways in his head like individual fires. He found it hard to even think, let alone speak. Then Jeme opened his eyes as he rejoined him, and Blaer was gathered so close he felt as if he could, like his spirit self, merge with Jeme.

Then his Sentinel took control. His head was propped against a strong shoulder and a soothing hand began to massage his temples and neck, easing the migraine, reassuring him and comforting him through touch and words.

For the first time since the darkest bonding had started, Blaer began to relax. Even in that mellow state, he could feel the bond between them crackling and humming. Without even thinking about it, he could feel Jeme's emotions.

Blaer reached up a shaking hand and rubbed the back of his fingers against Jeme's face, needing to tell him, to acknowledge in this world, the bond they had felt in the spirit one, only to have the hand caught, long fingers curling around it.

"It's all right, Blaer. I understand. We are one now, bonded through darkness and light, joined in that world and this. Yours, Blaer, Claimed."

Blaer finished the vow, "Yours, Jeme, Marked."

The darkest bond could never be broken, even by death.

0-0-0-0-0

Wilhelm sat outside of the hut that his eldest son was sharing with his Guide, as the two men appeared. The smaller man was walking close, his son's arm rested around his back. The two seemed at peace. Whatever disagreement they had had was over, but Blaer seemed exhausted, his foot catching on the uneven ground. If he stumbled slightly, the arm holding him never let him falter. Whatever had happened had brought the two even closer together.

Wilhelm shook his head. He could not begin to understand the link between Guide and Sentinel, but he would have to for his grandchildren's sake, and now for Jeme's, with their uncle being what Warren had told him -- the best candidate for the next Senior Sentinel Prime of the Clan. Knowing Jeme, and what he suspected of Blaer, that was what they would become. Then his grandchildren would have a position, and from that he could create a dynasty that would put Warren in the shade. Warren's power would of the moment, but his would be of the ages.

"Jeme, are you all right?"

Blaer dipped his barriers and could feel that the older man was genuinely concerned about Jeme, but if it was because he was his blood or because without Jeme the alliance would not take place, he wasn't sure.

"Everything is fine, Father. Leave us. We need to bond." Through their connection, the Sentinel could feel the exhaustion of his younger Guide. The completion of the bond had drained Blaer, and he needed to rest inside their bond and regain his center before the wedding the next morning.

0-0-0-0-0

Jeme watched his Guide unpack the clothes for the wedding. Caro and the women of the Clan had spent time and effort in dressing them for the occasion. Here they would represent the Clan, and they must look their best.

Blaer's hand caressed the material of his robe. It was black, of course, but it had the detail on the collar picked up in a jet black braid. In it was finely intertwined silver cording. The material was the softest that he had ever felt.

Jeme leaned over his shoulder and ran a hand over the material. "Suits you, Blaer."

Then he unpacked his own clothes. The tunic was dark red, almost scarlet, the trousers black with detail embroidered on it, the outline of the Panther, marking him as the Panther Clan. At this ceremony, he was the Clan.

The clothes were laid out. The ceremony would start at first light with the blessing of the Clan shaman.

0-0-0-0-0

Shelia was biting her nails. The Shaman of the Clan had already been in and had started to prepare her for the ceremony. She would not be allowed to leave the tent until the dawn of the day of her marriage.

Later, the women of the Clan would come and keep her company. She looked across at her cousin, Sarane. She was a year older and lacked Shelia's looks. Sarane had square hands and strong fingers, not suited to the delicate needlework that a woman of class should have. Before the merging of the clans by her grandfather with Wilhelm, they had owned slaves to do the work. Now she was expected to go to a clan that had outlawed slavery and have to work for herself.

She heard a soft knock on the side of the hut; two knocks, then a third--John. She could see enough to know that it was now dusk.

Sarane looked up. "What was that?"

"Nothing, Sarane. Could you get mother? I need to talk to her."

Sarane hesitated. As her cousin, she had the job of chaperoning Shelia for the last night of her maiden life before handing her into the hands of her husband -- in this case, her proxy husband.

"Please, Sarane, before the other women come."

Reluctantly, her cousin left. Shelia knocked on the wall, and it was splintered open. John opened the hole up. His eyes lit up when he saw Shelia, but he had also noticed the dowry presents on the table in the room, badges of her new status.

He pushed the leather bags at her. "Fill them."

"John, we don't need--"

Her boyfriend cut across her quickly. "We will have to run hard and fast, Shelia. In time your father and grandfather might accept our union, but in the meantime, we have to have money to pay our way. Please, it is yours in name."

Shelia nodded slowly. It made sense. Then she began to pack the dowry in the bag. By the time that Sarane returned with their mother, Shelia was gone, and so was the dowry.

The camp was in an uproar when it was reported that John and Shelia were missing.

Riscgi was wringing his hands; he could see that Saemond would demand payment for this. The honor of the Panther clan had been slurred by the actions. She, a mere chit of a girl, had broken the agreement.

Wilhelm watched as Blaer and Jeme saddled their horses. Now it was up to Jeme and Blaer to bring her back. John and Shelia would stand trial in front of the elders, and their fate would be in the hands of his eldest son. Jeme could, if the girl was no longer pure, call for her to be put to death for her actions. Wilhelm prayed to the gods that Jeme would reach her in time.

The two men were nearly ready to leave when a young woman came up to Wilhelm. She was leading a bay horse. Instead of a dress, she wore the clothing of a boy.

Wilhelm shook his head. He had argued about it, but Sarane and his wife had stood their ground. Sarane was headstrong and independent, he pitied the man that took her as his wife. "Jeme, this is Sarane, cousin of Shelia. She is going with you."

"No." Jeme turned his back on them and mounted his horse, waiting for Blaer to follow.

"Yes, I am." Sarane came forward, catching the bridle of the Blaer's horse, knowing that if she won him over, the sentinel would let her join them. "Either I go with you, or you'll see me following you, because you're not leaving me behind. Shelia is my cousin, and when we find her, she is going to need me. This John has a strong power over her. As her cousin, I might be able to break it."

Blaer leaned down. "We could always tie you up at the nearest tree and leave you for the mercenaries." There was an edge to his voice that made her not sure if he was joking or actually serious.

Sarane patted the neck of his horse. "No, you won't," she grinned. "It's not in your creed. You're a Dark Guide, a shaman, an assassin, but you would not leave a defenseless girl to those monsters."

Jeme turned his horse. "You can come, but the first time that you complain or whimper, you'll be set adrift, no matter where we are." He looked from Sarane to Blaer, and back again. "Blaer is mine, Claimed and Marked."

"Claimed and Marked, Jeme," Blaer intoned, as he kicked his horse forward.

Blaer and Jeme moved ahead, and Sarane followed at a distance. As she watched them tracking, she marvelled at the way they worked. Of the two men, the smaller one, the Dark Guide, never seemed to stop talking. The Sentinel just nodded from time to time, and would say something in reply. But mostly he seemed content to just listen to Blaer talk. She had been interested in them, and had sought out the people that could tell her about Jeme. She could see the strength in the warrior, but it was not just brute strength, it was intelligence as well. She switched her gaze onto Blaer, the temptation demon, the seducer of innocents, and chuckled.

Jeme turned to look at her, then turned back and shrugged.

Nice looking guy, the Guide, but no demon. Flesh and bone and mortal.

It was after nine hours that they found a piece of the dowry, a small gold pin on the ground. Jeme pocketed it, and they continued.

Jeme nearly zoned on a stench, only the steadying hand of Blaer kept him from pitching forward into a zone out. "Stay back. Blaer, with me."

Sarane kicked her horse on, but Jeme hauled around and blocked her way.

"You heard me. You stay back until I tell you to come."

Blaer dismounted and slid his sword from the sheath. "Can you hear them, Jeme?"

The Sentinel cocked his head to one side, pushing out with his senses, and could hear nothing but the natural sounds of the countryside. The touch of Blaer's hand kept him focused.

Lying in a clearing were two bodies. John had been run through. Shelia's throat had been cut. Jeme circled the bodies. Pieces of jewelry and gold coins were scattered over the ground, and tracks led off into the distance.

End of Part Two.