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.

Thanks to Rogue for allowing me to play in her AU and her encouragement.

 

Sentinel Corp story based on the AU created by Rogue.

Information on Ergot, taken from the book Secrets of the Dead by Hugh Miller, based on the Channel 4 television series.

 

Sentinel Corp

Revenge is a dish (best served cold).

Sentinel and Guide pairings had been known for the last century. The creation of the Sentinel Corp had been to help utilise them to their full potential, at the same time cutting down on the number of territorial fights and appease the most basic need of the Sentinel, to protect the tribe.

The majority of pairings worked in Criminal Investigation. Sentinel Agent James Ellison had work primarily with the Major Crimes Division of the Cascade PD, with his Guide Ramona, until tragedy had struck in the form of a psychotic Sentinel named Alex Barnes. By the time she had been caught Ellisonís Guide was dead and the Sentinel had been a shattered man, vowing never to take another Guide, not wanting to take the responsibility of another personís life.

But fate was to take a hand in the form of Commander Addison; who had decided that Jim Ellison would bond again to Guide Agent Blair Sandburg, a young Guide who had only recently come from an abusive bonding. His former Sentinel Dale had been unstable and resented having a Guide higher rated than himself and taken it out on Blair with beatings.

There had been some concern voiced that the trauma Ellison and Sandburg had gone through would affect the strength of the bond. But Addison knew his men and was pleased to see that he was being proved right. There was very much a connection between the two of them, though on the surface both men were so different.

Guide Agent Sandburg looked like a retro child of the 1960ís with his long hair and colourful clothing. While Jim Ellison was every inch the Sentinel Captain from Covert Ops that he had been at one time. Tall and stoic, his glare could give frostbite at a thousand yards; his temper was the thing of legends.

Now that Ellison was bonded to Sandburg, a calming influence was back in his life. Because the bond between Sentinel and Guide knew no boundaries of sex, age or race. They were already the only Max 10 team in the country.

All the outward signs gave Addison faith that the two of them would form a strong partnership. But the mechanics of the bonding aside, they had to learn about each other, which was always the hardest.

0-0-0-0-0

Joe Dillon pushed his dark glasses up the bridge of his nose, stared at the mark on his essay and then down at the notes made by his teacher. He had been graded a D. He swore violently. His father had made it clear that if he dropped below a C there went his allowance; below a B and the Ferrari was a thing of the past.

Grabbing the essay he strode out of the cafeteria, heading towards his teacherís office. Sandburg was going to change his grade if he knew what was good for him.

Before he got to the office he saw Sandburg ahead of him, in deep conversation with another TA. Without even waiting Dillon caught his arm and pulled him around hard, then gave a yelp of pain as his hand was caught and twisted back as he was forced to his knees. Joe found himself staring up at his teacher.

"You donít grab me, Mr. Dillon. Do we understand each other?" Blair released the younger manís hand and stepped back, allowing the student to get to his feet. "Now what was so important?"

"My grade; you gave me a D. I want a B."

"Then I would suggest that you do your homework and the set reading. I can set you another essay which would gain you some extra credits."

Joe shook his head. "You donít get it, Sandburg. You change the grade."

"No, you want it. You earned a D. End of conversation." He nodded to his fellow TA. "Come on, April. Joe, calm down and we can talk later."

"No one says no to me, you little runt." The anger burst and he lashed out, but his fist was caught in mid-air before it could land, the arm twisted back and down. An arm like a steel bar was round his throat and he began to struggle to breathe.

Blair quickly reached out, his hand running soothingly over Jimís arm. "Itís okay, big guy, he didnít hurt me."

"He threatened you." There was a low, gravel-ly growl in the words. It was a Sentinel in Sentinel Protector Instinct and he was ready to tear the kidís arm off.

Blair dropped his voice to the Guide tone, the one that his Sentinel would have to listen to. "Come on, Jim, youíve made your point. Dillonís seen the error of his ways, havenít you?"

"Yeah, sure." The words were squeezed out painfully. Then suddenly he couldnít breathe as the Sentinel took exception to his far from apologetic remark.

"James," the name was said with a kick ass roar of his life Guide, "drop him, now!"

The grip suddenly went and Dillon ended up on his knees on the ground, taking large gulps of air into his starved lungs.

"Dillon, get the hell out of here," Blair snapped at him as he moved closer to his Sentinel, placing his hands palms flat on the broad chest. He tried not to flinch as a large hand caught his jacket and lifted him up. For a moment all he could think of was the times that Dale, his former Sentinel, had grabbed him. That had always finished with pain. His hands went defensively to his face.

"Blair Ö Blair." He suddenly realised that Jim was talking to him. "Itís okay, I am not going to hurt you." An arm held him in place as Jim carefully caught one of Blairís cold pale hands and lowered it.

"Sorry." The word was said Sentinel soft.

"No problem, Chief." He pulled him closer, then pressed Blairís hand against his own jacket, smiling to encourage him as the pale hand caught his jacket front. Then he began to run his hand firmly over his Guide, using touch to reassure him. Then with relief he felt Blairís other hand go almost timidly around his waist. The curly head rested forward and Jim scented at his hair.

Only then did Blair, with a sigh, ease back, but not breaking the arm round his waist. He felt the connection between them like a living force.

He looked past Blair at the female TA and growled at her. He was fighting against the possessive urge that was running through him; it was like a fever. All he could think of doing was roaring his ownership of his Guide.

The girl paled and stepped back quickly, only to be caught hold of by a more knowledgeable student and pulled away. Any shock that the students might had had at their favourite TA being pulled into an intimate embrace faded as they saw the patches on the jackets: Sentinel and Guide. That made it cool.

And the more knowledgeable one added with a hiss, "Blairís newly bonded."

Jim ignored them; none of them threatened his Guide, but he felt sickened that he had frightened him. The sour scent of fear had corrupted Sandburgís scent. Now that it was fading, the Sentinel Protector Instinct began to calm down.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Joeís anger did not go away. Not only did that little runt cause him to lose his allowance, but also that freak of his had caused him to lose face.

He would have his revenge, something that could not be traced back to him. He picked up the book from the table and flicked through the pages. A sly smile touched his lips. Here he had the perfect medium to do it.

Three days later he sat in the Campus pub waiting for Gerry Webber. The man was a science geek, but had his uses, and this was one of them.

Gerry was nervous; this was bigger than anything he had ever done before, and he took a seat holding his package tight to his body. "If you want it then itís going to cost you."

"How do I know it works?" Joe would not put it past the geek to wimp out on him.

"I have a demonstration set up. If youíll come with meÖ?"

Gingerly, Joe got into the car, trying not to step on the papers that filled the feet well of the passenger seat. The car set off toward the warehouse district. Gerry was explaining about the substance, but Joe tuned it out. All he wanted to know was did it work.

The warehouse had broken windows and looked as if a bomb had gone off. With a shrug, Gerry just waved a hand at the burned ruin next door to it. "Drug lab blew and took this building with it." It was then Dillon heard the barking of a dog.

There was a crude pen in the centre of the building and a mongrel was running up and down, trying to escape from itís temporary prison.

Gerry slipped into academic mode. "I found the thesis on the Salem Witch Hunts and the case reported in 1951 in Pont-St-Esprit in Providence. Iíve made a cake up with the substance. Now watch and learn."

A small cake was tossed into the pen. The dog sniffed it and walked away. But a few minutesí later it circled back and ate it. Before long the animal began to run around the pen in wild frantic circles, then began chewing at a piece of metal until its teeth were smashed. Finally itís back legs collapsed. At that point Gerry stepped in and put it down with one bullet to the head, sadly shaking his head. "I hope that makes my point."

Joe was already tugging the notes from his wallet. "$800 as promised."

Greedily he grabbed the package from Gerry then his face fell. "What the fuck! I paid you for..."

Gerry cut in. "You paid me for the ergot; its up to you to make the bread. I am a chemist, not a baker." Then he strode out of the warehouse.

0-0-0-0-0

Clare Goose had been Joeís girlfriend for the last two years, putting up with his violence and cruel tricks, because she had her eye on being Mrs. Joseph Dillon, a sure way of getting on in life. She began to make the bread and swore at him. "Where the hell did you get this flour?" She ran her fingers thought it; the rye flour had an odd greyish look to it. Once she started work on it, the dough felt slimy and she wrinkled her nose up at the smell of it. The dough refused to rise and she had to empty some of the ordinary flour into the mix to get anywhere. But soon two loafs were baking in the oven.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Clare had the sandwiches in her bag as she entered the TAís staff room. There in front of her were the bags of sandwiches that the University provided for the Teaching Assistants. Finding the bag stencilled Sandburg, she removed the sandwiches and placed in the rye bread sandwiches that she had made that morning from her own bread. Puzzled, she walked away, not noticing the other student that had been waiting to arrange an appointment with one of the other TAís.

0-0-0-0

Blair started to feel under the weather. He could not afford to be ill. Fishing in his pocket he pulled out a flat pack of pills and popped one from the bubble wrap and swallowed it dry.

Looking at the pack he realised he was now out of them. The prescription was expensive, the drug carefully designed for a Guideís needs. His previous Sentinel had taken his money and had left him with a handful of debts.

Blair had pled with the creditors that he did not owe anything; it had been Dale Jay that had run the debts up, but to no avail. The law was plain on the point. A Guide and Sentinel pairing contracted to each other, they were viewed as a partnership. The debt of one became the debt of both.

Dale had banked his own money while living on Blairís wages and now he was left with a bank account that was near to zero. And with Dale now in psychiatric care, the debts had fallen on him and his new Sentinel James Ellison.

That last part he had been careful to avoid telling the older man. Sure Ö he could just picture it: //Hi, Jim, by the way I owe $10,000. Dale ran it up but you have to pay it.// If he scrimped and saved he could eventually pay it off and thankfully his student loans did not come due until he got his PhD, so with a bit of luck, he might just be able to balance the two.

As he looked at the text in front of him his mind began to become fuzzy. Then he saw the bloodworms oozing out of the walls and he took to his heels. Everywhere he looked he could see them. He was forced up to the roof. As they still moved towards him he pulled his weapon and fired.

0-0-0-0

Jim Ellison got the phone call at the station; his Guide was on the roof of Hargrove Hall, armed and in an unstable state. Blair was screaming and had fired off two shots from his weapon. So far Security had held back; they had him contained for the moment.

The Sentinel took the steps two at a time. Captain Simon Banks knelt by the door to the roof. Reaching up he risked life and limb by pulling the irate Sentinel down. "Listen, Ellison, no one is going to hurt your Guide, but heís armed and seriously disturbed. Heís not making any sense."

"I have to go to him." Jim started forward only to be pulled down again.

"If you do, and I know there is no way to stop you, you wear a vest. No Guides or Sentinels are dying on my watch."

When he stepped out on the flat roof the first thing that hit Jim was the stench of vomit. Blair was walking up and down, talking to himself in a loud voice, and his movements were short and sharp. He was highly agitated. He had thrown up all down his jacket and was waving his gun around, using it to punctuate his rambling words.

Jim checked out the weapon at a distance; there was no knowing how many bullets Blair had already fired. The uniforms he had spoken to had said three to four, which meant he still had a half full clip. He had to close the distance between them; so slowly, keeping his hands clear of his sides, he began to edge towards his partner. "Blair, itís alright. Iím here." Jim kept his voice soothing; the last thing he wanted to do was spook his Guide into pulling the trigger. Even so, Blair flinched and whirled round.

"Blair, no," Jim put in quickly was he saw the gun hand start to come up. Then suddenly his Guide doubled over, his hand clutching at this stomach, as he dropped to his knees, dry retching.

Jim could hear his Guideís heartbeat. Far from the strong regular beat that he knew, it was rapid, and irregular. Without thinking he went straight into SPI mode. All he knew was that his Guide was hurting and needed him.

Looking up, Blair brought the gun to bear, pointed straight at Jim. "Keep away from me, Dale."

"Itís alright, Blair. Itís Jim Ellison. I am not going to hurt you."

But Blair wasnít listening. He was shaking his head as if trying to clear his mind. All he could see was Dale walking towards him, just like all those times before, when he knew that the other was going to beat him.

Dale was lying as usual, just like when he said that he would never hurt him again. "No, Ellison is bonded. I know itís you, Dale, and youíre not going to hurt me again." His finger tightened on the trigger of the gun. "I have to stop it now."

Jim could see Blairís finger begin to tense on the trigger. "No, Chief! Listen to me, you know my voice, you know itís me. Dale is gone and he canít hurt you again. You have to put the gun down."

Blair shook his head, tears rolling down his face, "You would like that, Dale; make it easy for you. But I canít let you do this again. Itís all over, man. All over." With a catch in his throat he saw that Dale was too close, that he was already on him. With a cry of total despair, Blair turned the gun towards his own head.

Jim screamed, "NO!" In panic his young Guide turned the gun back toward the Sentinel and fired. The bullet ploughed into the Kevlar vest knocking the Sentinel onto his back and for a few seconds the entire world went black.

Kneeling, Blair was rocking back and forth, his eyes never leaving the fallen man. Slowly Blair inched forward. His fingers began to lose all sensation and the gun dropped from his hand. Coldness was seeping through his body. A heavy pressure was pressing down on his chest, but he had to get to his Sentinel. Even Dale shouldnít die alone.

Jim came around to see his Guide leaned over him, a shaking hand reaching for his hand, tears running freely down Blairís face and splashing against his hand as it was caught and held against Blairís heart. "D-Dale, w-why, man? I didnít w-w-want toooooo Ö w-w-why, killed my sent Ė inel." Before Jim could act, Blairís eyes rolled up and he collapsed onto the larger man. The Sentinel wrapped his arms around Blair as he yelled for a medic.

0-0-0-0-0-0

Cascade Hospital

Dr. Archer didnít waste time with pleasantries. He had already heard from the paramedics all about the Sentinel who had refused to release hold of his Guide. It had taken a direct order from Commander Addison before Ellison let go of the pale hand that he was holding. One look had told him he was dealing with a Sentinel in SPI mode. Like that, the man wanted answers to his questions and fast.

"First and most importantly, we got to your Guide in time, Sentinel Ellison. Heís going to be okay. Itís not going to be pleasant, but he will be all right. Heís suffering from ergot poisoning."

"Ergot." Jim shook his head. "Never heard of it."

"Ergot is a fungus that effects the ripe grains of some cereal crops, especially rye. If it gets into the food supply it can cause untold harm. Your Guide was particular susceptible to it."

"But he is going to be okay?"

"He should make a full recovery. He will have muscle aches and pains, and we will have to monitor him for high blood pressure for a few days, but he will make a full recovery, Sentinel." The doctor was quick to give Jim as much reassurance as he could. Now seeing the very obvious need for Sentinel and Guide to be reunited he added, " You can see him now." Dr. Archer stepped back quickly to avoid being trampled by the Sentinel. Blair was in the Sentinel / Guide ward, specially constructed to give as much comfort as possible to over loaded senses.

Jim entered the room, moving swiftly to his Guideís side and pulled the blankets back. When he heard the gasp from the nurse that had followed him in, he turned with a snarl. Dr. Archer caught her arm and began to pull her out of the room. Nurse Harrison was new to Sentinel medicine and her mouth had dropped open when this handsome man had turned almost feral in front of her eyes.

The Doctor held one hand up, hoping to forestall any violence. The Sentinel was walking on a knife-edge and it was best to humour him. Only when the strangers had left the room did he turn back to his Guide.

Blair was lying too still. He was used to his Guide being always in motion. This was unnatural and lightly he began to run his hands over his Guide, checking him over from head to foot, needing to make sure that the doctors had not lied to him.

He gave a low growl, not liking the fact that his Guideís scent was soured by illness and the antiseptic scent of the hospital, and grounded his senses on Blair. Reaching out with his foot he snagged a chair and hooked it to him so that he could sit by the side of the bed. His hand from time to time lightly petting and stroking his Guideís face as he tried to encourage him to return to consciousness.

Jim carefully scanned each nurse that entered the room. While in SPI, he trusted no one near his Guide and so started to his feet when he saw the needle this latest one was holding. If she thought she was going to stick that into his Guide, she had another think coming.

Blair caught his wrist with a hand that lacked any strength, but it stopped his Sentinel in his tracks. "B-back off, big guy. Sheís only doing her job."

"Blair." The relief in that one word was heartfelt.

Even though his arms felt heavy, Blair reached for his Sentinel with his other hand. With great care he was swept into strong arms and held tight. The need for Sentinel and Guide to connect was primal and Blair needed to replace in his mind the nightmare that had driven him from the comforting darkness of unconsciousness. He had shot Dale only to see him morph into Jim Ellison. Heíd had to wake up to see for himself the reality of Jim unhurt, flesh and blood.

When he tried to tell Jim his nightmare, he was hushed and told to rest. Finally, sleep and emotion got to be too much for him and he didnít resist when Jim laid him down. His voice was too low even for a Sentinel to hear him, but Jim could read Blair speak. He took his hand in both of his and lightly began to stroke the pale hand. Blair curled up around his hand, pulling it up against his chest. Resigned to losing that hand, Jim gently stroked Blairís head and shoulders, light touches that allowed him, through touch, to tell Blair how much he meant to him.

0-0-0-0-0

The news of what had happened to Blair went through the University like wild fire as the Police and the Health Department descended on the Campus, wanting to find the cause of the poisoning. Ergot poisoning was not unheard of; it had struck in the past, with devastating results. The quicker the source could be tracked down, the quicker they could stop it.

They had sealed off Blairís office and then taken it apart, finding a small part of a sandwich ground into the carpet. Other than that, the room had been clean, apart from the damage that Blair had done in his delirious state.

The wrapper for the sandwich had lead them to the Picnic Box, a professional catering organisation. The small Ma and Pa operation had been checked and had been given a clean bill of health, which was beginning to puzzle the investigators.

Sharon Riley had been working for the Health Department for the last 20 years and was one of the few people to have seen an ergot outbreak. And this one was not following any known pattern. Usually there was a clear path to the source; there was no way that only one person would be affected. They had gone over the Sentinelís home and checked out all the food. She had done it to make sure that no stone was left unchecked, but logic dictated that no Sentinel would have missed the smell and they certainly would not let their Guide eat it if there were the slightest doubt about it.

That was when theyíd had their first break.

Gillian Green had approached her tutor with concern that someone had been messing with her experiment. She was studying the Salem witch-hunt and had decided that the cause of the extreme symptoms of witchcraft might have been caused by Ergot poisoning. She had then been called home, only to return and hear the news about Blair Sandburg. The University was a rumour mill and she had with a sudden certainty felt that if she was thought to have been negligent that it could cost her grant.

Clare was now getting worried. For the first time, she realised what she had done, or rather, been talked into doing. Now Joe had dropped her like a stone and she was all too aware that she lacked his fatherís money if it hit the fan.

The way the SenCorp was combing the University, anyone disappearing was going to be hunted down. The logistics of the size of the Campus did not seem to have fazed the Corp. Someone had tried to poison one of their own. A Guide. That would have all the Sentinels going into SPI mode. Everyone was stepping lightly around them.

Heather Watkins, meanwhile, had been turning the problem over in her head. She had seen Clare in the TA staff room, near the sandwiches, which is from where Mr. Sandburg would have taken his poisoned one. Of course there was no proof, but then again no other TA had been taken ill, and she knew for a fact that half of them had rye bread. So how come only Mr. Sandburg had been affected? She decided to speak to Clare first. Maybe she had cooked something for Mr. Sandburg; kind of an Ďapple for the teacherí thing and he was certainly cute enough.

Clare had tried to push her away. "You donít know what youíre talking about, Heather. I never went near them."

"I saw you. It was an accident right? Right?" When Clare would not look her in the eye, she swore. "What have you done, Clare?"

"Joe Ö he askedó"

"Joe, itís always Joe! When are you going to learn what we all know Ė that heís a spoiled brat, more money than brains."

"You never have liked him." Clare began to move way. Only to be caught hold of and shaken.

"What the hell did he have you do, Clare?"

"He asked me to make some bread for him and he made the sandwich up. He said that it was Ė it was just for fun, that it would not hurt Mr. Sandburg, just keep him stuck in the john for the next six hours. A little payback for a bad grade."

"And you didnít see anything wrong in poisoning him."

"It wasnít."

"Clare, it is poisoning. Now own up and you might just live to qualify, because as it is, your ass is grass if the Sentinels catch you. So we are going to cut to the chase and see Sentinel Ellison."

Clare pulled, but was held closer, then found herself being dragged towards the car park. The sooner this was done the better.

Looking around she saw the tall man in the jacket similar to the one Mr. Sandburg wore and then the face clicked. Her teacher had introduced his class to his Sentinel before their last exam, when Mr. Sandburg had been the instructor.

"ErrrÖ Sentinel Agent, Sir." She tagged the Ďsirí on when she remembered that she didnít know the manís name.

"What?" The word was fired at her and she took a step back, nearly colliding with Clare.

"Sorry, Sentinel. Er, Mr. Sandburg, heís your Guide?"

"Yes." She felt the icy blue eyes rake across her and suppressed a shiver.

This was hard work. The Sentinel seemed happy to answer in one-word sentences. But at the sound of his Guideís name the big man had stepped closer, into her personal space, and she almost tripped back only to be caught by him.

"My Guide Ė what do you know about this?" He was almost shaking her.

The sound of a carís engine roaring brought all three of them around in time to see the danger bearing down on them. Jim reacted fast, only having time to push the girls out of the way. He rolled clear of them, his gun in his hand and firing, the bullets hitting the rear of the car, which fishtailed and then ploughed into the fountain outside of Hargrove Hall.

Jim was up and running, with each step the civilised man was stripped back, and only the primal Sentinel was left. He grabbed the door handle and pulled it open, just as Joe bailed from the other side and took to his heels.

He might have been younger, but the relentlessness of the Sentinel made him run too fast too soon. ĎThey never give up.í Those four words rattled in his head. Then he was kissing the tarmac as he was tackled to the ground. An arm around his neck pulled his head up, as the weight forced his body down, his neck bent near to breaking.

"Jim, no!" Rafe edged forward carefully. He had seen the Sentinel race after the man and had followed, hoping to catch up in time. It seemed he had barely made it.

"Give him to me. Iíll see that heís charged with attempted murder. Jim, he tried to kill the three of you in front of witnesses." Then he played his trump card. "Blair would not like it. Think of the paper work."

For a moment, Rafe was not sure if he had reached the Sentinel. He and his partner H had gotten on well with Ellison, and he just mentally kept his fingers crossed that Jim would listen to him.

Jim moved his weight off the body, grabbed Joe by the scruff, pulled him to his feet and held on while he was cuffed.

Joe hissed, "My dad will get me off. He always does, Sentinel." He grinned as Rafe took him away.

0-0-0-0-0

"Joseph Mark Dillon, the court has found you guilty of attempted murder of Heather Wilkins, Clare Goose, Sentinel Agent James Ellison, and Guide Agent Blair Sandburg." The judgeís voice droned through the sentencing.

Joe stared at his parents. He could not believe that his father had just let it happen. His mother was already in tears, but this time his father had let justice take its course. He recognised the man standing next to him, William Ellison. His father was rich, but Ellison was in a different league. Ellison, it could not be Ö he looked from James Ellison to William Ellison and he could see the family resemblance.

The Sentinel just looked straight at him and he felt his blood go cold. Whatever the judge had just sentence him to, it would be safer than being on the outside with the Sentinel after his blood. He knew then as clearly as if it was written in stone, Ellison would be waiting for him.

Clare knew that she was lucky to get away with a suspended sentence; she had come forward to the SenCorp with vital information. Heather had glossed over the fact that she had tried to make a run for it. There was now only one major problem: the first time she had approached Blair to apologise she had been pinned to the wall and the life had slowly been being choking out of her. Only the voice and touch of Blair Sandburg had called his Sentinel back from the killing rage. The University had thought it best to transfer her.

0-0-0-0

Blair could feel the emotions playing through his Sentinel as Simon Banks drove them back to the Loft. Commander Addison had refused to let Jim drive, knowing that he was in advanced Sentinel Protector Instinct after being in the same room as the man that had planned his Guideís assault and possible death.

Jim, rather than ride in the front of the hover car where there was more legroom, was seated in the back with his Guide pulled close to him, his face buried against Blairís neck.

Once inside the apartment, Blair heard the door being locked behind him. Jim was prowling; that was the only name for it. But far from being frightened, he could feel warmth spreading through him. It was the warmth of the heart and mind, knowing that he was cared for. That Jim, unlike Dale Jay, would never hurt him. That he would rather cut off his own hand than raise it against him.

When Jim had committed to him it had not just been the signing of a contract, it had been a joining of souls. He knew it sounded sappy, but that was the closest he could come to it.

He could remember having to tell Jim about his private life, his past, his likes and dislikes. He had waited for the axe to fall, for Jim to lodge an 87B, a formal application for the severing of their bond. But the big man hadnít. Instead he sat the skittish Guide down and explained that he would not interfere with Blairís love life as long as the girl was not wanted and was not involved in anything illegal. And they passed the police scan. It had taken him a moment to realise that the older man was joking about the police scan; he had a real good dead pan sense of humour. He had to be joking; surely Jim would never. Or would he?

Blair was brought back to the present as Jim reached for him, pulling him close. Then he hooked an arm around Blairís waist, anchoring him to Jim. With the other hand he reached up and tugged the leather tie from the long dark curly hair, his long fingers massaging Blairís head lightly, helping to relieve the tension headache that had been building all day in the courtroom.

Then he was shepherded to the sofa. Cushions were placed so that Blair could rest with his head in Jimís lap as the Sentinel continued the massage, using all his senses to bring relief to his Guide.

As the daylight turned to twilight, the headache began to lift. Blair talked softly, knowing that Jim would hear. He spoke of the horror of knowing that he had shot his own Sentinel, of his fears of losing Jim. All the time, Jim comforted him, knowing that Blair needed to talk.

Blair put a hand up and caught the front of Jimís shirt, pulled himself up, and for a moment just looked the other in the eyes, seeing unconditional acceptance and trust. This was the bond he had always dreamed of.

He leaned forward so that his head rested on the broad chest. Under his ear he could hear the steady thump of Jimís heart and his arms wrapped around the much larger man. His body only relaxed when he felt Jim return the hug and then pull the blanket off the back of the sofa over them.

With his Guide held close, the Sentinel sent out his senses to weave a sensory grid around the two of them. The watchman on guard, protecting the most important addition to his life.

Tomorrow morning they would talk about Blairís debt and he would see the sense in letting him clear it. Blair would argue, but on this point he would lose.

With that thought, Jim settled down. Already the relaxed weight told him that Blair had lost the battle against sleep. Jim closed his eyes and followed his Guide into sleep. Sentinel and Guide were one.

The End