The sentinel is the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Production, I have just taBen them out to play with and promise to return them soon, and maybe a little worse for wear. This is just for fun and no money had been made from it.
Thanks to Gail and Melissa for all your help with this story

This story is AU
Warning Adult situation and a few bad words.
This is a stand-alone story.

Angel of Death


Part One

Law and order in conventional terms had become a thing of the past; the dawn of the 21st Century had seen the civilized world in a state of crisis. To combat the crime the guilds had been formed and among the most sinister had been the Assassins Guild. When the other guilds had finally been destroyed as Law and Order regained control the Assassin Guild had been the only one to survive. Many people said it was due to the fact that they did know, literally, where the bodies were buried. The Guild itself couldn't be touched, but its assassins' could. Some cities still allowed Guild assassins to operate on the old system of legally contracted killings. But other municipalities now had publicly turned their faces against the practice, and the City of Cascade was one of them. Notification had gone out that morning.

Monday 15th January 2010 New Calendar.
Any Assassin Guild member's working within the City and Districts of Cascade have 72 hours to leave it's jurisdiction. After that time any individual involved in any contracted assassination work will be hunted down and treated as any common murderer. All privileges and rights formally assigned to them as Guild Members is hereby revoked.
Signed Raymond Barton Commissioner of Police.

George Fallon threw the newspaper down in front of his boss Alan Holland, “it didn't work, the Commissioner has the backing of the Mayor on this, and you can bet that Captain Simon Banks had a hand in it as well”. Fallon ran a hand over his baldhead and straightened his tie as he nervously waited to find out what his boss had decided to do about this development. Fallon just couldn't imagine Holland letting one of his most lucrative areas of revenue get flushed down the toilet.

Alan Holland leaned back in his swivel chair, “Then Captain Banks needs to be removed. A small demonstration perhaps, that will show just who is really in charge in Cascade”.

“Get in touch with the Guild, and tell them I want the Angel for this one”.

Fallon picked up the phone and began to dial.

Tuesday 16th January 2010
The night was dark and the all black figure flitting across the rooftops of the colonial houses was invisible to anyone from street level. Strapped across his back was swung a backpack. Carefully he moved down the slope of the roof to the guttering and then lowered himself over the edge. For a second his feet swung in mid air, and then found the purchase he was looking for and hand over hand he made his way down to the balcony. His foot grazed a flowerpot on the railing and for a second it rocked back and forth, and then it settled. The assassin released a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and dropped lightly down onto the balcony. The French doors behind him were in darkness and a smile twitched at his lips. The Millers had accepted the tickets and a night at the Cascade Hilton as the first prize for a competition he had created for them. Human nature was so predictable; given the chance of a free night out at the best Hotel in Cascade, no one was going to turn it down, even if they could not remember entering any contests.

With practised hands he assembled the rifle and settled into place. He was in perfect line of sight for the hit he was contracted to perform. He dug a hand into one of the pockets and pulled out an energy bar and took a bite. He had at least another two hours to wait for his target. In the meantime, he pulled on the lightweight headset and adjusted the frequency. He could hear the voices of Cascade PD chattering like mother hens over a chick. The mark, Ben Shackleton, would be arriving soon once Cascades finest had finished the bomb check of the court room.

He suppressed a sneer, only an amateur would use a bomb. The rifle was his preferred weapon, this way he could make sure that no innocents got in the way, no point in killing any one he wasn't paid to kill. The assassin shivered, the temperature was starting to dip, he hated the cold and he flexed his fingers to stop the cold cramping them.

The rogue dealer Ben Shackleton got out of the car and started up the stairs to the court building, the window of opportunity was very narrow, but that was all that would be needed. The assassin's finger squeezed with a firm, smooth pressure on the trigger. The silenced rifle fired and Shackleton's head snapped back as the bullet found its mark. Before the body had hit the ground the assassin was already on the move, the spent shell was pocketed, the rifle broken down and pushed into the pack, and the man was up the rope and back onto the roof.

Making his way swiftly across the rooftop, the ice made it treacherous under foot. One moment he was moving smoothly the next his feet went out from under him. Falling, his hip crashed into the roof, pain exploded through his body as he threw his hand out and tried to halt his decent. The assassin slide down the steep grade of the roof, he lost the fingernails to his left hand as they clawed at the tiles to halt his fall, the pain was blinding. He managed to stop just on the edge, his legs were splayed out in mid air; his breath was coming in loud pants. The guttering that he was partly laid on and that his feet had hit on the way down groaned and shook. He tried to inch back up onto the roof, his heart pounding, than he felt a tug, and risked a look over his shoulder. His pack had been caught on one of the thin vertical heater pipes. He tried to move again, he was caught. He swore, and tried to pull free, his actions made more urgent by the loud thumping of approaching helicopter blades, and the lick of white light from the spot lights getting closer.

The light played across the roof towards him, he twisted, then managed to free himself from the pack. Scrambling up at the moment the light hit him, he ignored the warning yelled from the helicopter, and carried on. Bullets ricocheted off the side of the roof, then he was over and sliding down the other side, feet first. He bent his knees as he landed on the walkway that joined the two building, and then was on the move again. The rope was fixed round the end chimney stack, he caught it and abseiled down the side of the building, then began to run, already the sound of police sirens began to ring out. The helicopter had lost him for the moment, unable to get close because of the power lines. The assassin stripped off his black jacket, turned it inside out and pulled it on, then tugged on an old Jag's cap and glanced at this watch. Perfect timing, the stadium was just emptying and he tagged onto the crowds. One face among many.

Captain Simon Banks looked round at this Detectives, "Right, Ladies and Gentlemen, what exactly do we have?"

Henri Brown coughed, "The weapon recovered from the roof is a guild weapon, there are no serial numbers on it, but it is colour coded. Of course the Guild isn't going to help us identify who the owner is". "But the rumour is" he paused knowing that his boss wasn't going to like this.

"Okay. Brown tell me, or is it a secret?"

"Well the rumour on the street is that the Stock Brokers hired *the Angel of Death* to take Shackleton out. Shackleton must have really pissed them off".

"To the tune of 56 million Brown. They're sure about the *Angel*?”.

"Yes Sir, they are, but no one is saying much beyond that though".

"Captain". Lieutenant Plummer cut in, "Sorry Sir, but who is the Angel of Death?"

Simon Banks took a pull on his cigar, " Who is he, well that's the 60 million dollar question, but what he is, is another thing". "The Angel of Death has been operating for at least the last two years, always a rifle, never explosives. And his targets, all morally corrupt, or gang leaders, murderers, even cop killers".

"But Shackleton, that was just money". Carolyn put in.

"Shackleton left two of the largest charities in Cascade on the poverty line, that would have been like sending up a flare to the get the *Angel's* attention". "I want this assassin, and when we get him he is going to do time. Now why are you all standing around, we have a killer to catch". The detectives scattered at the growl from their Captain. Only when the door was closed did Simon Banks ask "Carolyn, that friend of yours Ally Best, her son was the one that hacked the Central Bank computer didn't he?"

"Yes, and paid the Commissioner in cash, all in nickels. Why?"

"See if she would mind him helping us, he would work from here, no risk. But I would like to get into the Guild central data base".

"Simon for gods sake!"

The big Captain got to his feet and poured himself a coffee, waving the pot towards Carolyn, “ The Assassin Guild is like a weed we have growing”. “ Now is the time to cut it down, before it strangles us all”. “The Commissioner and Mayor have finally had the balls…” immediately he apologized, “Sorry Carolyn, it's just I'm a cop, have been all my life, and to think that killers can walk free because of a deal and a scrap of paper really burns me up”.

“The information the boy gets us can't be used in court, But it might help us identify guild members. I am not on a witch-hunt. If they remain inactive, than okay, but if they work, than we take them down, once and for all”.

“I can understand you wanting to bring them down Simon, but watch out, they won't go easily, and you could find that they'll target you as well”.

"If they do they do, but law and order will mean something again in Cascade".

0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

9 Months Later
Alan Holland was seated behind his desk. With his $2000 dollar suit he was the picture of a successful businessman; only his money came from prostitution, drugs and contract killing, that was until Simon Banks and the Commissioner had gotten in the way.

The other Contractors hadn't taken the notification seriously to start with, money talked, they could always buy their way out of trouble, they had done so before. This time they found the door slammed in their faces, and their cronies were being arrested and thrown out of office, or just not returning their calls. A new wind was sweeping Cascade and Simon Banks was one of the driving forces behind it. This had to end, now.

Holland straightened his tie, tugged his waistcoat down, and took a steadying breath. He was about to face the one man that scared him. The hit man was a Guild Master, and rumour had it that he had iced three Assassin Council members to gain the position. The mans personal hits had numbered more than 250, and he was known to be possessive about his territory. Most Master Assassin's took on apprentices to train and sponsor to the guild. But this man hadn't, he was cold, hard, emotionless and nothing showed on his face, neither pleasure or anger, he could not be read.

The man was a sentinel and would pick up on any panic or fear on his part. The intercom on his desk buzzed and his secretary's voice came through. "Mr. Curtis is here for you sir".

"Send him through".

Alan got to his feet to greet his visitor; Curtis as always was immaculately dressed in a dark blue suit, white shirt and a tie that screamed taste. The assassin had dark hair that was cut short, he was powerfully built and obviously worked out regularly. Although good looking, it was off set by the lack of emotion he showed, if anything he looked bored.

Jack Curtis had his senses pulled right back almost to the base line, the slight control he had as an unbonded sentinel was starting to fray. He was losing control, and that frightened him, he couldn't lose control of his senses now, he had work to do.

“You wanted to see me Holland?” His voice was neutral.

"Always to the point Curtis. I have a personal contract for you. A police Captain, he's causing me a few problems". "His names Simon Bank's". For a moment he thought he saw a flash in Curtis' eyes, but he couldn't be sure.

"I don't kill cops Holland” Curtis started to turn back towards the door. Holland got up, “Curtis, what if I could give you what you want?”

Part Two

Jack Curtis viewed Alan Holland levelly. “Money, I have enough. Ask the Guild Bankers. So, what could you have that I want?”

Holland's face took on a calculated look. “What about a Guide. You're a Sentinel. There is a long list on the Guild of Guides' application role, and you know they are reluctant to give Guides to the Assassin's Guild. I can offer you someone. I'm not saying that you would want him as a life Guide, but you can use him, and discard him later”.

“So who is he?”

Curtis' voice sounded disinterested, not a good sign Holland mused. But he kept plugging away.

“The kid played the ponies to raise money for his education, and he was remarkable successful. He's got a Bachelors and Masters and he's working on his PhD in Anthropology and Sentinel Studies”.

“So who is this paragon of virtue, Holland, and how did you get your claws in him?”

“Always to the point, Curtis, as usual. The kid's mother was involved in a serious accident, he walked away from the crash and she didn't. The bills rolled in and the kid didn't have the money, so he came to me. You see his mother wasn't the kind to have insurance, and he only had his Teaching Assistant wages to fall back on. So I made him a deal”.

“How does he pay you back?” Curtis had an idea he knew what was coming and if he was right, it was sickening.

Holland's smile became more of a leer. “I was really lucky there, he's an empath, special meat on any menu. I could have traded his ass for $25,000 to any brothel on Lincoln Street. But he's a nice treat for my special customers, in particular, Sentinels. They like the taste of him; they get a real treat from doing the big no-no with a Guide. The whole Alpha Male, Beta Male shit”.
“How much for your personal toy?”

Curtis tone remained deadpan. “$1500 a week, that's his rate. You can do what you like with him, as long as you don't mark him up too bad. I can personally recommend him; as I always sample the special merchandise”.

“He's got an ass that doesn't quit and its especially sweet if you dust him down so his empathic barriers crash, and you can….” He smirked expecting some comment from the assassin, but the expression did not change.

Holland made his tone all business again, “He can be a handful, and he's got a attitude that's not to everyone's taste”. Holland shrugged, “But nothing you shouldn't be able to handle. Fallon took him through a few attitude adjustment sessions, he responds well to pain. Some of my Sentinel customers like that, they get a charge through putting him through the hoops”.

Curtis threw the money onto the table. “His first week's money. Have him sent over to room 568 at the Cascade Hilton. Send me details of the hit when you have them. I want full schedules, photos and plans”.

Cascade Hilton
Blair Sandburg raised his hand to knock on the hotel door, his face still a little flushed from the look the man at the front desk had given him when he had asked for Curtis Room. The door opened before his hand could fall and he found himself looking the man in the chest. Slowly he lifted his head and looked into the eyes, suppressing a shiver. They were blue and ice cold.]

“Mr Curtis? Alan Holland sent me”.

The man stepped back and waved him in. Blair stood still as the Sentinel slowly circled him, he could tell by the way his skin tingled that he was being sensed. Holland had taken great pleasure in telling him all about Curtis, and how if maybe he made himself 'pleasing' to Curtis, he might just leave him alive at the end of the contract. From practice, Blair closed his mind to everything but the job in hand. Curtis was un-bonded, so he needed a nanny Guide, a beta male-for-hire until he could get his own, lily white and unsoiled. The Sentinel put his hand out for the backpack and Blair handed it over.

“Careful, man, my laptop's in there”.

Curtis emptied the pack onto the coffee table and sorted through it, a laptop, pack of discs, books, a notebook, and some clothes.

A strong hand caught Blair's arm, spinning him around and throwing him against the wall. He barely managed to get his hands up to prevent his head from smacking into the wall. A foot knocked his legs apart and hard hands ran over his body, professional and impersonal.

“I'm not wired man. Holland would kill me if I was stupid enough to try that”, Blair tried to convince the Sentinel.

A hand latched onto the scruff of his jacket and pushed him to the sofa.” “Sit down and shut up, kid”.

The Sentinel was growling, his hand rubbing at his head with the start of a migraine.] The kid's heart sounded too loud. As he walked past the Guide, the young man flinched and tried to pull in on himself.

Blair glanced round the suite for the first time, the door to the bedroom was open showing a large double bed. He tried to keep calm. Curtis looked as if he worked out regularly, if the Sentinel wanted him that way, there was nothing he would be able to do to fight the man off.

“Holland didn't give me a name for you”.

The smaller man jumped slightly, he had heard that one before, “ Whatever you want to call me that's okay”.

“Your own name will do, kid”.

“Blair”.

“Blair what?” The laser blue eyes fixed on him.

The young grad student tried to keep his voice neutral, as he felt a flutter of fear in his stomach.

“Blair Jacob Sandburg, Master”.

“Okay Blair Jacob Sandburg, cut the master crap. My name's Jack Curtis, so use it. Take your coat off, you're not going any where”.

Blair slid out of his army surplus coat. He was nervous and could feel the suppressed aggression that was coming off Curtis. The man was a time bomb waiting to explode.

The Sentinel scooped up the telephone and punched in the number for room service. “Have you eaten today, kid?” Then he added gruffly, “ I'm paying for you, you keel over and I'm out of money”.

Blair shook his head.

“That a yes or a no?” Curtis sounded impatient.

“No”.

The Sentinel snapped his order down into the phone, “Two steaks and all the trimmings, then apple pie and custard, coffee and tea”. He paused, “Are you vegetarian?”

“No”.

Blair started to watch Curtis more carefully now. This man wasn't the same as the other people that Holland had sent him to. Most of them clawed his clothes off as soon as he set foot in the room. Or, in the case of the Sentinels[,] he had received more than one back handing for not answering quickly enough, or being submissive enough, when they were playing the alpha male. But Curtis was actually going to take the time to feed him, before he jumped his bones.

The sentinel was prowling up and down as he waited for the food to arrive. Blair kept his head down to avoid eye contact, and to show he knew his place. The knock on the door startled him, he risked looking up. Curtis checked his weapon before putting it in the holster he wore against the small of his back, ready for action, as he opened the door. The waiter was a sharp-faced man who paused inside the room as the Sentinel circled him.

Everyone knew about the Sentinel in room 568, the hotel staff had had to use Ivory Snow on the sheets and towels. As he waited to pass the Sentinel's test, his gaze settled on the smaller, younger man and he grinned. It looked like the Sentinel had already ordered dessert. He would have to remember to tell Dawson that, it would get a chuckle out of the older man. For a moment he considered asking the Sentinel if he would like a little female company to sweeten the deal, but when the man stopped in front of him the words died away unsaid. The Sentinel looked almost feral.

“Get out. I'll call when you can collect the cart”, the man growled, more animal than human.”

“As you wish, Sir, enjoy your meal”. He backed out, as the Sentinel moved towards him, determined to get this interloper out of his territory.

Only when the door was locked and Curtis knew the man was on the way down in the lift did he relax. Over his shoulder he ordered, “Take a seat, Blair”.

Blair moved slowly, all the time keeping his eyes fixed on Curtis. He watched with disbelief as Curtis transferred the plates of steaming food off the cart onto the table. The student's stomach rumbled, it had been a long time since he had seen food like that. His last meal had been all of 24 hours ago when he had got some out-of-date mac and cheese at the local market.

Curtis began to eat then realised that the empath was still sitting, hands in his lap, making no attempt to start his meal.

“Dig in, kid, before it gets cold,” his tone surprising Blair as it was almost friendly. When he pushed a plate of hot rolls across, shyly Blair took one.

The meal was eaten in silence; Curtis appeared to prefer it that way. Blair did not object, it gave him longer to observe the older man, try and get a reading on him.
After the plates had been cleared, Blair had managed to secrete a large piece of pie away for later, before the cart was put outside. The Sentinel picked up the wide screen TV remote, and started to examine the on-screen menu.

Blair scooted to the end of the sofa furthest away from his client. Curtis seemed content to ignore him, and he was all for that, anything to put off the time when the Sentinel would want to turn in for the night. After the older man had settled down to watch the big fight on pay-per-view, he tugged a book from his backpack, “Burton, Genius or Fake” and settled down to read. With a frown, he pulled his glasses out of his pocket and slipped them on.

The fight was not the soul source of interest to the Sentinel; seated there he could monitor the Guide. He noticed that when he put his arm up on the back of the sofa, the kid flinched, as if frightened that he was going to be dragged close. He needed the kid to understand that he was safe; it didn't take a genius to understand what the kid thought he wanted. He forced himself to keep calm, the kid was skittish, and that was to be expected. The fight went the full distance, so it was with a yawn that Jack finally switched the TV off.

“Okay, I'm off to bed now. “The sofa folds down, and there are spare blankets in that cupboard if you want them.”

Curtis nose twitched as he recognised the smell of fear that was coming in waves off the younger man. But he was unsure how to help him.

“Do you need anything?” Four simple words, but said with a wealth of emotion.

“No. I'm fine, get a good nights sleep, Blair”

Jack turned on his heels, and went into his room. But sleep would not claim him; he kept hearing the noise. At first it had been low, a regular thumping that penetrated his brain, like a migraine. Finally he swore, it had taken him time but finally he realised what he was hearing was the kid's heart; his senses, for some reason, had latched onto Blair. There seemed nothing he could do to break them away. Each breath that Blair took was given due attention, each beat of his heart was logged, if he turned over in his sleep, Curtis knew it.

Curtis rolled over, folding a pillow round his head. When that failed, he slammed a fist into the pillow, as if it had caused him personal offence. If he was bonded it would have been so easy, he would have had his life Guide lying by his side, in his territory and in his bed. He would have held him close, and lost himself in the Guide's scent and heartbeat, it would have been soothing and he would have slept.

As seductive as the idea of a Guide was, Curtis fought it tooth and nail. He was his own man and wouldn't give up control of any aspects of his life to another person. Certainly not a wet-behind-the-ear, third year grad student from the Guide's Guild.

Blair woke, the living room was in near darkness, and looming over him was the silent and solemn figure of Jack Curtis. Blair threw himself off the bed, and then away from the Sentinel. But a hand latched on his arm and eased him back, pushing him none too gently back onto the sofa. The young empath could feel the tension radiating off the older man, the anger bubbling just under the surface.

“I can't sleep, kid, every time I close my eyes I can hear your heartbeat, I can smell your scent. It's everywhere. I even know which towels you used to wash up with. Make it stop!”

Blair rubbed his eyes to clear them, “Okay, man, we can deal with this”. The young man tucked his feet under him. “The problem is this suite has become your territory, and I'm in it, and I'm a Guide. Even though I'm only a nanny Guide you have to still bookmark me, so that you can ignore me when you do a security sweep of the room. Once you've done that you can tune me out”.

“So what do I do?”

Blair patted the sofa near him, “First take a seat”.

The man was on edge but that was natural for an un-bonded Sentinel. But the fact the man was in his late thirties, maybe early forties, seemed to have money, yet hadn't bought an introduction to the Guide socials was a surprise. It could mean a few things; either he was a very weak Sentinel, or the man did not want a Guide and was willing to try and tough it out. Either way he was going to have to try and help him.

Part Three

Blair decided that if he was going to help this Sentinel, he had to go back to basics. Starting with finding out if Curtis had ever had any formal training.

“Now, have you had any Sentinel training"?

"Some in the Army, but not much. Never wanted any, I couldn't see the need for it”. It was said almost defensively.

Bingo! The man was a reluctant Sentinel; he had documented cases of Sentinels that believed that if they ignored the enhanced senses they would go away. Just never thought he would be a nanny to one.

“Right man, no problems. We can still deal with this, it would just be easier if you'd had some training". Blair slipped into academic mode, "Sentinels use all their five senses, and since you're not bonded you don't use them quite the same way. For example, a scent or flash of colour might attract your attention, and then you're more susceptible to zoning, so you pull back and try to block them. Don't worry, man , your not the first fledgling that's frightened he's going to zone”.

“You think that I am frightened?” Curtis' voice had gone icy. How dare this wet behind the ear's kid tell him what he felt.

Scratch frightened to zone, Jeeze if that man grinds his jaw any harder he won't have any teeth left.

"Cool it”, Blair brought his hands up palm out, to try and pacify the Sentinel. “Maybe I should have phrased it better, but you still have them and we need to exercise them don't Now, when I came in you scented me".

"No way", Curtis exploded; Blair caught his arm to prevent him pulling away as the larger man powered to his feet dragging the smaller Guide with him.

A fist wrapped itself into the Guide's t-shirt and pulled him up on his toes. “I am not one of your clients, kid, and I certainly would not debase myself with your scent. Don't flatter yourself”. He gave Blair a push that was hard enough to cause him to fall back onto the sofa.

Okay, big guy, so you don't like to think that you do anything by instinct. Great, just what I want, a Sentinel and control freak who has a short fuse temper. Damn it, he's got to understand.

"Live with it, man, it's who you are. You're a Sentinel, and they're hard-wired pre-civilized men”.

“I caveman you little…” Curtis started forward, this time the younger man did not pull back, just met his angry eyes full on, even if his heart beat was pounding in his chest.

You've got guts, kid, I'll give you that, Curtis thought ruefully.

"I don't have to like it, do I? All right, Chief, what do I have to do?”

"Put your hand over my heart."

Jack hesitated.

Blair smiled, "I don't bite, man".

All right, we can do this, just go with me on this. There go the teeth again, hard-wired reaction to anything he did not like.

The Sentinel's hand rested lightly on his t-shirted chest and then pulled away fast.

"What's wrong?”

"Your shirt, it's like sandpaper".

His senses are cranked up too high. Blair pulled his t-shirt off with one quick movement, then caught Curtis' hand. The Sentinel tried to pull it away, but Blair hung on and then pressed the palm over his heart holding it there.

"Your dials are set too high. Listen to my voice. Now picture a dial in your head, from zero to ten, you can feel the warmth of my skin, the texture, now bring the dial down".

He felt Curtis' hand relax under his own.

"It's working", the Sentinel seemed surprised, but there was a touch of wonder in his voice.

"When you finally bond with your life Guide you will use your Guide as a baseline. Each of your senses will tune into him or her, and you will become one".

There go the teeth again, sure hope you've got dental. "But in the meantime, I can settle your senses down”.

"If we do this, what's to stop me bonding with you, you're an empath, a Guide?"

I'm your nanny Guide.” He saw the man cringe at that. “Okay, your beta Guide. It won't happen, believe me, it just won't happen". There was a bitter resentment in Blair's voice that was not there before, There was something he wanted, but would never have now , and he had suddenly felt that lose deeply. Blair hurried on, "Right now you can feel my heartbeat, it's vibrating through your fingers. Let your hearing focus on it. That's it. Can you hear it, can you feel it”?

"S-SHIT!” Blair swore as he realised the fledgling Sentinel had zoned on that small amount of stimuli. At this rate. He could never handle a full bonding without going catatonic.

Curtis, you need to come back to me NOW!" The last word was said with the kick-ass tone of a full Guide. Blair backed it up by reaching out and gently stroked Curtis' inner arm from wrist to elbow. "Feel my hand, and follow my voice back". His hand moved up to lightly caress the strong jaw of the Sentinel.

The Sentinel suddenly jolted violently, his eyes flying open. "What happened?” He lashed out and knocked Blair's hand down, and moved back from him, wanting to put distance between himself and the smaller Guide.

"You zoned, man, one of the downers of being a Sentinel".

“Did you have to paw me like that?” The sentinel rubbed his face as if trying to remove the memory of Blair's touch. Curtis regretted it as soon as he spoke, seeing the look of hurt that flooded the younger man's face.

“I would never violate the sanctity of the bond, no matter what you think of me. Touch and voice are the main tools to bring a Sentinel back, that's all”.

“Look, kid . . . Blair. . .” He trailed to a halt, not sure how to continue. He noticed that the heartbeat was gone. For reasons he couldn't fathom, he felt the loss keenly. “I can't hear your heart.”

Blair pushed past the hurt. What was he expecting,? All Curtis knew of him was that he was a Guide and whore for hire. Why shouldn't he think the worse of him? He centred himself and was all business again.

"It's all right, you have everything turned down to the baseline, and now that you have me marked you shouldn't have any problem". Blair shivered but it wasn't just a coldness of the body, it was of the heart as well.

Jack bent and retrieved the Guide's t-shirt and handed it back to him,. “Thanks Chief”. The Sentinel's hand ruffled the long dark curlsand he went back to his own bedroom.

For the first time in weeks Jack woke from a good night's sleep. He stretched luxuriantly. Since moving into the hotel he had built up a routine, a quick shower, a work out and then breakfast.

He cocked his head to one side. It sounded like the kid was already awake. He pushed open the door and his face went like a stone mask. "What the hell are you doing?" He caught Blair by the back of his neck, hauled him to his feet and shook him like a rat. "Druggie hippy freak, you're doing drugs in my room!"

Blair twisted, his anger rising he lashed out and caused the surprised Sentinel to release his hold. He pulled clear. "I am a registered Guide. Have you any idea what that means, Curtis? [I'm] on line 24 / 7 and without a bonded Sentinel I can't handle the emotional crap I get from people round me. Do I have to fucking well spell it out for you Without them I would be in the funny farm, or dead with a bullet in the head from one of Holland's friends when I freak out ". The young empath ground to a halt at the look on the Sentinel's face. Anger he had expected but not sorrow, it disappeared in a split second, but Blair was sure he had seen it.

"Sorry, Blair, I shouldn't have jumped like that. It's just..." He trailed off, then met the young empath look for look, "The druggie hippy crack, well,that was way out of order".

"The long hair, the clothes, you're not the first one to say something like that. But I don't do drugs ever, man, no way". It was suddenly important that Curtis understand that.

The Sentinel raised a hand and Blair flinched, but he just lightly patted his shoulder. "There was still no excuse for it, Chief. Then he headed back into the bedroom to give the empath time to finish his injection.

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The rest of the week passed surprisingly quickly, and although he fought Blair every inch of the way, he had to be honest and admit that the kid's lessons actually worked.

Since Blair had come to live with him, he had ordered his beta Guide to stay in the hotel room. He was forbidden from leaving, even when Curtis himself was not in. He had read him the riot act the first morning when Blair had gone to answer the door. He was never to open the door, if Curtis had visitors he was to go into the bedroom, and put the radio on, he was not to come out until Curtis told him he could.

Blair looked at his watch, his Sentinel client had left early that morning, and if he followed his usual pattern he would be gone for at least the next two hours. The man had a rigid routine, the control freak part of his nature. If he was quick he could get out, pick up the papers he needed and be back before the man even knew he was gone. He would have to make sure that Dawson did not see him; otherwise the man would tell Curtis.

Quickly he pocketed the second swipe key to the room, picked up his backpack, and headed out of the room, locking it behind him and pressed the lift call button. The second lift arrived a second before his, and Blair's stomach hit the floor. Curtis got out, for a moment they just stood there and then the flight instinct kicked in, and Blair made a dash for it. But he was caught by the back of his coat and shaken like a terrier would a rat.

“Having trouble Curtis?” Blair twisted and saw Fallon standing there.

“It's nothing that I can't handle”.

Blair was frog marched back to the room, dragged across it and thrown onto the sofa. The backpack was pulled off his shoulder, and his laptop was suddenly in Curtis' hand. With three strides, the Sentinel was into his bedroom, and there was the sound of smashing as the machine was destroyed. Blair was up and heading towards the room when Fallon caught him, twisting one arm up high behind his back, his other arm pinned Blair's neck, making sure he felt the pressure on his windpipe.

Curtis came back in, none of the anger had abated, “Give him to me.” Fallon released Blair with a push that sent him staggering into the assassin. “Ten minutes Fallon, I have something to deal with”.

The door did not close completely and Fallon moved up to enjoy the show. Blair did not even struggle as he was stripped off, and then bundled into a closet, the door closed behind him.

Fallon pulled back, “So what are you going to do to him?”

“He's considering his actions at the moment, and we will talk later”, Curtis'face twisted into a smile.

“You evil bastard, Curtis. Holland wanted this face-to-face meet about the contract. He wanted to make sure that you got everything directly from me. He's concerned because rumour on the street is that Major Crimes may have full surveillance on him.

“And you came straight here?” The anger from the assassin made Fallon pull back. “I did a three car switch with two back ups. There is no way anyone could have tailed me”.

“Give me the packet, and then get out of here. The usual terms -- the hit is at my discretion and I always have lead time into the hit”.

“Holland wants it on Monday”.

“Then get a new assassin, I am not being rushed on this one. And don't even think of subcontracting out. You do that, you tell Holland he won't have to worry about Simon Banks, because he'll already be dead”.

“Do you really want me to pass that message on to him?” Fallon was waiting for Curtis to back down, the assassin's lips twitched.

“Word for word, Fallon. Holland pays for a job, but I do it my way. Now get out.” Curtis turned his head towards the bedroom, “I have something else to deal with now”.

Fallon looked towards the bedroom door and its prisoner. “Sure you don't want any help here? Last time Sandburg was …” He ground to a halt, The sentinel had moved in front of the door, blocking him, and there was a look on his face he did not understand, but which scared him. Fallon edged towards the door, and was out, only relaxing on the way down in the lift. Sentinels' freaks the lot of them, it was easier to dismiss it that way.

Blair curled up in the closet, shivering, If he was lucky Curtis was only going to beat the hell out of him. He bit his lip, the laptop had been an old friend. His mother had bought it for him, all his research was on it, and now at the whim of a sentinel it was matchwood. There was no way he would be able to afford a new one.
The door to the closet was pulled open, “Okay Blair out NOW”.

He was surprised when he was hit in the chest by a thick dressing gown.

“Cover yourself” Curtis looked almost apologetic, “If I hadn't done it, Fallon would have.”

“Aren't you going to punish me?”

“I should”. Curtis pulled open a drawer near the bed and handed Blair the laptop. “But I can't. Just go and get changed”.

”But I heard…”

“Just say that I owe the hotel a radio, now get. And Blair…” the Sentinel called the Guide just as he was opening the door to the living room, “you ever disobey me again, and I will punish you”. The young guide knew this wasn't a threat[,] it was a promise.

Blair hugged the laptop against him, “Thanks man”. He saw the look on the Sentinels face and added, “For not being a mean, vindictive SOB”.

“I try, Chief. Later we will go over the hotel rules again”.

By early evening Blair was suffering from a dull throbbing headache, his throat was scratchy and he was shivering even though the room was warm. He had caught Curtis looking at him from time to time. A couple of times the sentinel went to speak but always pulled back. Blair cuddled down the other end of the sofa. He knew he was going down with the flu. At a guess, he caught it off the man at the front desk. The guy had been sneezing enough to give it to half the hotel. It was almost a relief when the older man snatched up his coat, and walked out with only a sharp, “keep the door locked” as an reason for him going out.

It was nearly two in the morning when Curtis returned to his hotel room, after initial reconnaissance of the killing zone. The first thing he looked for was the Guide. He swore when he didn't spot the kid on the sofa, if the kid had done a runner he would…. Then his hearing picked out the heartbeat, *his bedroom*. Long strides took him into the room.

His Guide, no, the Guide, was laid out on the bed with the comforter twisted round him. He reached to shake the kid awake, but pulled back. He could feel the heat coming off the empath in waves. Blair's skin was flushed, and he could hear the congestion in the lungs as he deepened his hearing. He had thought he had detected something this morning, but had pushed it away, and now his Guide, yes, HIS Guide was ill, and nothing else could cover what he felt for the smaller man.

Dr Thorpe, the hotel doctor, looked as if he was more suited to being an undertaker than a doctor, but it hid a man with a sharp wit, and deadpan humour. Now he was all business. At first it had taken him a little while to work out what the relationship was between the two men. Dawson had already been more than free with his ideas, but the moment he had spoken to Mr. Curtis, he knew that he was looking at a Sentinel in Blessed Protector mode. The man hovered over him as if frightened that he would cause the sick young man harm.

Blair rolled his head round towards the voices. He could remember crawling on the bed for a few minutes rest. The sofa had felt so hard and lumpy. He was sure that Curtis had come in at some point but instead of yelling at him, he had run soothing hands over him, checking him out. Then everything began to swirl round. When he closed his eyes it spun even faster, so he cracked them open again, but the picture was fuzzy. Curtis was talking to an older man, now if only the pounding in his head would stop he might be able to hear what they are saying.
Then everything seemed to jump again and he was naked and rolled on his stomach, a sharp stinging on his left buttock. Then he was eased onto his back and blankets pulled up round him. A firm hand supported his neck and a glass was put to his lips. Warm honey and lemon washed over his tongue, he had to drink. Each time he tried to pull away, Curtis would mutter encouragement. Finally it was drained and he was eased back down.

Dr[.] Thorpe smiled as he watched the way Curtis was fussing over his young charge. "The young man, Mr. Curtis, has German Flu. It's a particularly nasty strain. He will He'll be flat on his back for at least the next 72 hours. Keep him warm and make sure he takes plenty of fluids. Now, I gave him a vitamin booster, to help him, as he looks pretty run down. You'll have to take better care of your Guide, Mr. Curtis. They can get side-tracked looking after their sentinels and forget to look after themselves. I'll drop in tomorrow and give him another injection. Make sure he takes the tablets and just keep close to him, he will need to know that you're nearby".

"Thanks for coming so quickly, Doctor". Curtis all but escorted the man out of the suite, not liking him near the Guide when he was ill, even if he was a doctor.

He made sure the door to the bedroom was open and he could see his Guide. No, the Guide, he corrected himself from his chair, and picked up his newspaper. Five minutes later Curtis moved to the sofa, rationalizing that he would be more comfortable there. Another five and Curtis was on the armchair in the bedroom. This way he didn't have to stretch his vision more than he had to. Five more and he was seated on the edge of the bed. With a curse he slipped his shoes off, put his feet up on the bed, pulled a couple of pillows behind his back, and picked his newspaper up again.

A feeling of satisfaction settled over him as he read. One hand moved and buried itself into the curls beside him. He carded through them, massaging gently massaging the scalp and neck, an unconscious gesture like petting a cat.

Blair cranked his eyes open. Umm, the feeling was out of this world and he wanted more. With single-minded determination he climbed into the Sentinel's lap and held onto. With a sigh more for show that in reality, Curtis put his paper down and collected the Guide into his arms, pulling the blankets round them. A little while later his back began to make its discomfort known. He tried to move the dead weight down onto the bed only to find that Blair began to whimper in distress and cling even harder.

He resigned himself to spending the rest of the night here. Well, if he was, he was going to get comfortable. He managed to disentangle himself from Blair, only to have the young guide start to make louder whimpering noises, his distress getting worse. In desperation he pushed a pillow into Blair's arms and they closed on it, holding it close and he seemed to calm. But it soon became plain that it wouldn't work. Blair buried his face in the pillow and then, eyes still closed, pushed it away from him. The wail got louder, the guide calling for his sentinel. Curtis quickly undressed to his boxers and climbed into bed. He pulled the fevered man against him, ridiculously pleased when eyes still closed, Blair reached for him, and buried himself deeply in Curtis' arms, his face rubbing across the older man's chest, needing the skin-to-skin touch.

While they slept the empath's mind sought out what it needed, a Sentinel. The flu had weakened his mind's normal restraints. Instinct governed his subconscious actions as he climbed into the Sentinel's nervous system and his mind.

Curtis woke to a feeling of peace and warmth, he shook his head to try and clear it. Moving carefully so as not to throw off the younger man, he tried to sit up, only to have Blair protest and wrap an arm and leg around him. It would not have taken much to push the sick man off him, but Curtis found that if anything, he held him closer.

The next 24 hours to Blair were a mixture of dreams. Being prodded and poked, being made to take tablets, to drink fluids and soup. Then the cold hands of a much older man that he was sure Curtis kept telling him was a doctor, and he was here to help.

Each time they slept, for the Sentinel, it was to an increasing awareness of oneness with the younger man. When Blair came fully aware it was to find himself laid across chest and stomach. He tried to push himself up as mortification took over, then his arms gave way and he nosed dived into the man's chest. He almost timidly looked up, and croaked "Sorry man".

The blue eyes of the Sentinel pinned him, then softened, and strong arms pulled him close so that he nestled against his shoulder. Arms moved over his body in soothing caresses. "You don't have anywhere to go, Blair, just rest".

Blair yawned and then, with a weak flutter of his hand patted Curtis' chest, “Good Sentinel”, his voice slurred off.

There was a deep anger simmering in Jack Curtis. During his time tending Blair he had noticed the fading scars on the younger man's body -- on his back, buttocks and thighs --deep wounds that had left white scars. Thin scars marked each wrist, and a feather light hand had detected the ridges of where ribs had been fractured and then healed. His anger began to bubble to the surface. How dare they beat Blair like that. [Although] still asleep, the younger man began to fret, soft sounds of distress coming from his lips. Immediately Jack pushed the anger back, forcing himself to keep calm. Only then did Blair relaxed as well.

Taking great care, Curtis changed his position so that he was curled round the empath. Holding him close, needing to do this to reassure him that he was safe. One thing was certain, Blair had fought, and been punished by Holland for not wanting to play his sick games, his Guide, somehow that was the only way to describe him, had spirit and that had never been broken.

Doctor Thorpe was moving round the bedroom, normally he would not have been still checking up on a flu patient. But this Sentinel, he gave a small smile, was deep in Blessed Protector mode, needing to fuss round and make sure his Guide was going to be all right.

Somehow Jack Curtis was not the kind of person you could refuse. The doctor took the thermometer out of this patient's mouth, checked it, felt the side of his throat. Still swollen, that was to be expected, but the man was on the mend now.

“Doctor Thorpe.” Blair croaked, “While I was ill, did I have any injections?”

"Just some vitamins. Why?”

"Nothing, doctor, nothing". But Blair's mind was racing.

Part Four

Five Day Later
Blair knew that he still hadn't come up with any ideas on how to break the fledgling bond, but at least by sleeping back on the sofa again, and starting with the injections, he could possibly stop it going any deeper. His bleeper went off in his backpack and reluctantly he fished it out. A glance at the number and his heart went cold, George Fallon. Curtis was in the bedroom, so he picked up the phone and began to punch the number in. Curtis' hearing picked up the voice of the Guide and then tuned it out.

A few minters later the young man stuck his head round the door, "Sorry, Curtis, I have to go to the hospital. I won't be long, that's if you don't mind?"

For a moment the Sentinel just looked at him, then pulled out a $50 bill and walking over pushed it into Blair's shirt pocket. “That's for taxi fare and food, Chief, make sure you eat."

Taking in the stunned expression he added, “Hasn't anyone ever given you money before, Chief? Shit, sorry Blair” Without even thinking about it he reached out and pulled Blair close. “I didn't mean it that way, Blair”.

“It's okay man, it just threw me for a minute there.” He kept his voice neutral.

“We okay on this?” Curtis still sounded worried.

“We're cool on this, man”. Blair tried to put some reassurance into his tone.

He had nearly made it out of the door when Curtis called “heads up”. Turning back he was hit in the face with a large, sweatshirt.
Blair felt the lump in this throat, "Thanks man".

It was half an hour later that on his way to getting a cup of coffee Jack saw the blinking light of the answer phone he had installed. The kid must have hit record when he dialled out. For a moment he hesitated and then he pressed the play button. His face became a hard mask as he recognised George Fallon.

The mans voice was oily, "Party time, Blair. The America's Bar 9.00 p.m. And I don't give a fuck if Curtis has paid for you, this is a special and Holland said to get your ass over here. After all kid, he still owns it. If you don't, it's penalty time!" The Sentinel tuned out the Guide's voice as his anger became a living thing. How dare this man threaten his Guide. HIS GUIDE HIS PROPERTY HIS. Logical thought got pushed back, all that remained was instinct.

The America's Bar
It might have been called a bar but it was nothing more than a fancy brothel. The place reeked of money, and already as Jack entered he could sense eight Sentinels there. His hackles rose ready to fight to take back what was his. His eyes fixed on his target, the younger man was wearing black jeans and a white shirt that were so tight they must have been spray painted on his lean frame, his long hair pulled back in a black band.

A small pot-bellied businessman in a $3000 suit was openly groping Blair. The Sentinel's hand went to his head as the Guide's heartbeat thundered through it. Blair's breath was coming in short pants, he was scared. The man's words came easily to Curtis.

"So, Holland let you out again, Blair. $1000 for the night and you put on a show for us".

"I don't do parties".

"Holland arranged it, you do it." He leaned into Blair, his chubby fingers trailing up the young man's inner thigh. The Sentinel saw the shudder run through the lean frame, but all it did was increase the sexual arousal scent that was pouring off the businessman. "You wouldn't want me to tell him you didn't behave, would you? But than then again it might be fun to watch Fallon take the strap to you again".

"KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF HIM", the bellow came from across the room, and brought everyone to a stand still.

The businessman was not use to people interfering with his fun. "We hired him".

"Then Holland double booked you, because he's MINE". Simple words but said with the full possessive roar of a Sentinel.

Jack's hand dropped on Blair's shoulder, he saw the younger man's face in the mirror; there was a flare of anger in the eyes that flashed. "We're going home, Blair".

Blair brought his shoulders back; “ I am not a bit of meat to be fought over. Piss off, Curtis, I don't belong to you".

The businessman grinned but it turned to anger as Blair threw his hand off him also, "Leave me the f*** alone".

The man made a grab at him, he was not use to his bought and paid for play toys refusing him. The Sentinel moved fast, catching the hand and twisting the arm back and down forcing the man to his knees, "You don't get it do you? You don't touch him, you don't get to have him". Curtis made a quick move and the fingers and wrist broke like twigs in his hands. The man collapsed, whimpering as he clutched his hand to his chest.

Blair found himself spun round on his seat and pulled up. Curtis' anger flared as he realised that Blair was naked under the tight jeans. Hell, he must have spray painted them on. A shoulder caught Blair in the stomach and he was thrown over the Sentinel's shoulder. The younger man began to struggle as his face flushed with embarrassment and anger. He twisted and tried to get the older man to lose his balance and drop him.

Then he yelped as he received a stinging blow to his skin-tight jeans covered rear, a second blow just as hard followed it.

"Fuck it, Curtis, let me go. You retarded over-sensed caveman". The hand hit him again two more stinging blows as Jack growled, "Keep a civil tongue in your head Sandburg and quite struggling or you won't sit down for a month".

Blair knew now the man would do just that, the Sentinel was in Blessed Protector mode, and that translated as protect the Guide from everyone, including himself. If he thought he had reached the maximum amount of embarrassment he was proved wrong when the piano player struck up with the song from Officer and a Gentleman to the applause and catcalls of the other Sentinels.

Part Five
Cascade Hilton
Jack Curtis was angry and it was an almost living force. *His Guide* "HIS GUIDE*, had dared to escape from him. It was with a shock that he realised that he meant it. The Sentinel, who had never wanted a guide, now mourned his loss. When he had called Blair his, he had with the instinct of an Alpha Sentinel recognized his mate. Blair had managed to twist free as the door to the car had been opened, and although he had gotten a good hold on his shirt, Blair had managed to pull free.

I will find you Sandburg, and when I do ... what would he do? I can't raise a hand to him, and he's my Guide. Protect the Guide, Cherish the Guide, Protect the Guide. Jack picked up the phone and dialled a number. His voice was controlled, too controlled. "Blair Sandburg, I want his address. No, I'll handle it".

The pen in his hand made an almost savage scratch over the paper. You can't avoid your Sentinel, Sandburg. You're mine, body and soul.

Blair was pulling his meagre possessions into his backpack and a few boxes he had. He was surprised that Fallon hadn't been waiting for him. The breath caught in his throat as the lights in the warehouse dump that he called home went off. It could have been a brown out or a fuse, but as the doors closed with a clang, he knew it was something much worse than that. The cry rang round the warehouse echoing off the walls, the cry of a large cat, a predator.

"What do you want, man? You want to punish me for tonight?" He threw open his arms, "Come on, man, I'm here".

"NO." One word, more a snarl than a word. In the small amount of light that came from the half black[ed]out windows he saw a dark shadow flit through the warehouse.

"COME ON, you're scaring me here. What do you want, is it me?"

The Sentinel was in pure alpha male Sentinel mode. He could detect the change in the scent of his Guide as his normal musky, white chocolate scent soured with the scent of fear.

Blair jumped back as something thudded near his feet, candles and a matchbox. Gracefully he knelt down and lit the candles, the match flared.

"Come on, come closer and let me see you".

He could see the Sentinel just beyond the light, circling him. Then a hand dropped on his shoulder and he flinched, but the hand didn't move. The Sentinel sank down to kneel behind him. The younger man kept perfectly still as one hand curled round his waist and he was pulled back against the strong body. He could feel the Sentinel press his face against the side of his neck and heard the intake of breath as he was scented. This was no half-hearted measure of a man unsure of what he was, no, this was a Sentinel, pure and instinctual. When the Sentinel pressed gently on the back of his head he lowered it submissively. Knowing what was needed of him, needed of a repentant Guide. The strong fingers flexed on the nape of his neck, the hair band was tugged out and fingers carded through the long dark curls.

You like that don't you Sentinel? I can't believe it, the big guy is actually purring. Blair's academic mind began to kick in, he knew through the vibes that this was Jack Curtis. He had known from the very start the man would come for him, known they had partially bonded. He had thought that he could ignore it, that it would fade, but it was not going to be. He knew now this was no fledgling Sentinel with weak powers. This was the real thing, a pure Alpha Male Sentinel, of great strength in his powers. He had hunted Blair, caught him, he was Curtis'. This was not a client reclaiming property; this was a Sentinel reclaiming a Guide. The hand moved through his hair and then over his face, the touch as light as a feather. Suddenly he felt the Sentinel tense, the purr became like a deep-throated growl, and through the bond he could feel the barely concealed aggression.

The Sentinel heard a threat to his Guide. His Guide would have to trust him. But his Guide had run? His grip changed slightly on the younger man, he pressed on the nerves in the sleeper hold, and the smaller body went limp in his arms. Gently he placed Blair face down on the floor, his fingers lightly brushing him. Mine soon to be reclaimed, but first a danger to be destroyed. His Guide would be the bait.

George Fallon looked from left to right at his henchmen, this was going to be fun. Holland had told him they could do what they liked to Sandburg as long as they didn't mark his face, which was their fortune, and didn't put him in hospital. There was, he had already decided, a whole world of pain available to him. Sandburg had cost them money and one of their best customers, the young empath would pay for that

"Trying to hide, Sandburg? You can't escape". A grin creased his face. "John kept keep watch on the door.” He motioned to one of his men. “Mark, you're with me". They moved towards the circle of light where Blair was laid out on the floor, his body unmoving. Fallon kicked the bottom of Blair's foot but he didn't move. Frowning, he bent and felt for a pulse, it was slow and steady "What the hell's going on here?"

John, at the door, never heard the footfall, only felt the arm that went round his neck, and then nothing. The body slipped silently to the floor, the Sentinel already stalking his second prey.

Fallon heard the gasp from the second of his two men and turned fast enough only to see the unmoving body. He began to twist and turn, reached for his gun, only to have a hand catch his wrist. Fingers dug into a pressure point and the gun dropped to the floor to be swept aside. An arm snaked round his throat and tightened. The voice in his ear was barely human. "My Guide, Fallon. You ever touch him and I'll make a gelding of you." The Sentinel brought a knee up hard between Fallon's legs from behind, the man screamed and folded. He fell almost head first onto the concrete floor, then a fist put him out cold.

The Sentinel picked his Guide up, slung him over his shoulder and carried him out to the car. He then went back for the pathetically few bags and boxes he had seen. He would take those with him, his Guide would not be returning to this rattrap. He paused only long enough to hike up the hood on Fallon's car and pull out the wires from the distributor, then he was driving away. His Guide needed to be taken to his territory, only his territory.

The car went over the bridge and headed for the other side of Cascade towards the University. The Sentinel patiently carried his Guide up to the loft, handcuffed him to the rail at the head of his bed, and then went down and brought his things up to the loft. His Guide had run once, he would not run again.

Blair came round with a stiff neck and headache. He rolled onto his stomach and looked down through the rails to the apartment below. All the furniture was covered with dust- sheets. Whoever had done it had taken great care, each sheet had been placed square on the furniture and even tucked into place. The whole place had been put in storage by the look of it.

Curtis locked the door behind him, and then glanced up to see the smaller man looking down at him. He walked to one of the cupboards and took out a small packet, popped out a couple of aspirin and then filled a cup of water and brought it up the stairs with him. He carefully perched on the edge of the bed and offered the tablets to his Guide. With his one free hand Blair took them, noting, if anything, the Sentinel looked embarrassed when he reached out to touch him. Blair kept perfectly still. "Your neck's hurting".

Carefully he was tugged toward the older man, and the Sentinel's hands began to move on his neck and shoulder, the fingers detected the stiffness and stress. "I had to do that because it would have been dangerous if you had run".

"Dangerous?" I think there was something else going on there, he didn't tell me about.
"You're my Sentinel, I trust you to protect me". Good move, some of the tension is going now. "What threat to me?"

"George Fallon was there, I had to draw him in. He won't try to hurt you again".

Blair's heartbeat to the Sentinel ears suddenly sped up, it was a trigger for him to pull his Guide close. "You have to release me, Jack. I won't run, I promise you. Listen to my heart rate, you can hear I am telling you the truth".

“You ran once”.

“I might run again.” Curtis tensed, Blair added, “But if I do, it will always be towards you. When a Guide runs, it's to his Sentinel. I am your beta Guide”.

“NO.” It was said with a finality that frightened Blair. “My alpha Guide”. Only then did Curtis reach over, unclip his wrist and then pull him closer.

Blessed Protector with a healthy dose of mother hen just for luck. There was is nothing here now that I can't control. Blair relaxed against him, not fighting as his sneakers where pulled from his feet, and then he was pressed down onto the bed. A hand gently brushed his chest, resting over his heart, then it moved to stroke his face and ruffle his hair. Only then did Jack pulled away. Blair could hear the Sentinel going downstairs and then a few minutes later returning with an arm full of blankets and a comforter.

The Sentinel was creating a warm safe nest for him with the warm linens. Blair slowly eased up to sit with his back against the rail. They needed to complete the bond, but Curtis just sat on the edge of the bed. His Sentinel was scared, he didn't know what he wanted, or how to get it; the need to bond was there but not the knowledge.

"Its okay, I won't hurt you , Jack." A smile twisted his lips, as if he could force himself on this buff, 6 foot 2, 200lb, muscular sentinel. "We've started to bond now "

Blair's hand moved up to cup Curtis' face, any protest that the man might have had made vanished, as he scented his Guide. The need to complete the bond flared. The empath revelled in the increased connection between them, his eyes darkened, as the intensity of the bond grew. "Sentinel, finish what you have started".

He's untrained. "It's all right Jack, just follow my lead, listen to my voice and trust me, I won't let you fall". Blair caught onto the front of his Sentinel's jacket and as he laid back he brought the other man with him, and Curtis went willingly into the bond.

As the morning light flooded through the skylight, Curtis felt for the first time in a long time that an aching canyon that he never knew he had, was now filled by the small bundle that was laid in his arms. This was the missing part of his life, now he was complete. He felt Blair begin to stir from his place resting against his chest.

Blair yawned largely, he still felt tired, but he didn't flinch when the warm hand settled on his stomach.

"You need to eat more, you're too thin." It was the concerned voice of a Sentinel in the mother hen mode. "Your clothes aren't warm enough for winter, we'll have to put that right, you can't be cold".

The small Guide snuggled closer, now was not the time to argue with Jack, that could wait. He found himself tucked under his Sentinel's chin. "Tell me about the other Sentinel, your first Sentinel". Blair detected the hardening in Jack's tone. A jealous Sentinel is a dangerous Sentinel. The old dogma came unbidden into his mind. He took a steadying breath. This had to be expected since Jack knew that he had been on-line before. In anger he had revealed his shame to Curtis, when the sentinel had accused him of being a druggie hippy.

" I was at the Guild house then in Seattle when we first met. The Sentinels name was Peter Wagner. Normally we would have spent more time together, but Peter was starting to zone and become catatonic at the slightest thing. His father pushed the Council of Sentinel and Guides to let us bond, which we did in front of the full council. Six months later Pete decided that I wasn't good enough for him, and the Council severed the bond” Blair shuddered, as he flashbacked on the pain, it had caused. “ It felt as if my whole mind was being pulled out of my skull. The Council Doctor told me the massive shock had nearly killed me and that I had to be sedated for the next five days, all I can remember is the pounding pain. When I left he gave me meds I would need to keep me sane. I found out later that Pete has bonded to a blue-blooded life Guide one that he could take round the homes of his father's friends without being embarrassed, within a hour of severing our bond.”. “ I am, was, a rejected Guide, until you claimed me". “Gave me back my sanity, and my worth”.

Through the newly created and strengthen bond Curtis could feel the distress and sadness. "Why?" He couldn't understand how anyone could reject Blair.

"Because I'm a bastard with no pedigree, and…" Blair trailed off. He found himself pulled close and hugged tighter.

Jack knew there was more to the story, with great care he tipped his young Guide's face up so that he could look into his eyes. He had never seen such fear and sadness. It was as if he was scared that he would lose everything. "Talk to me Blair".

"His father belonged to the Moral League and he cited Section 124”.

“Oh, but its not illegal.” Curtis took a breath “Section A or B”.

“Section B”, Blair's words were muffled as he hung onto Jack for dear life, scared that he would be pushed away.

“Right, " was all Curtis could say as the final piece of the puzzle fell into place. Jack Curtis moved slightly, and suddenly found that Blair was hanging onto him for dear life, scared that he would be pushed away. He waited for the axe to fall.

Blair shook his head, “I…Jack… I can understand if you don't want me around. Don't want me close. I promise I would never…" Jack's finger pressed against Blair's lips, silencing him.

"Blair. You are my Guide, you're welcome into my life, and my territory, when we bond we bond as one. Or do I have to spell it out to you?”

Just those words and it was as if a dam broke and Blair clung even tighter as he began to talk. All the hurt that he had kept in, that had festered, and that he had been unable to detach himself from, ran out, leaving him gasping for breath with deep sobs. Firm hands moved over his body, and those along with soft words of support and understanding calmed the emotionally drained younger man. Already exhausted, he soon fell asleep again, cuddled and held close. Curtis kept his anger down to a low roar; Blair was in no condition to take any more emotional flak. But heaven help Wagner if he ever crossed his path.

Holland's phone call came through the next day, followed by a courier with a package. Jack let his Guide sleep in, no need to wake him yet, and the kid needed it. The contents was spread out on the coffee table; the target was Simon Banks, the Captain of Cascade PD's Major Crime department, and the man responsible for making life too hot for Holland. Along with the photographs was a detailed schedule for the next week of Bank's life, and if Curtis had anything to do with it, the last days of his life.

Part Six

The day was bleak and wind swept, Blair knelt by the side of his Sentinel as the man expertly slotted the pieces of the rifle together. The day before he had helped set up the tags across the killing zone, all 2000 yards of it. His hand now rested on Jack's back so that he was focused; through the link he supported him.

Curtis fired and Simon Banks went down, his arms wind milling, as he was knocked onto his back. Jack began to quickly dismantle the rifle, the Sentinel's head snapped round as he heard the click of another gun the fraction of a second before it was fired. He threw himself sideways so his shoulder slammed into Blair, sending him staggering sideways.

The bullet hit him, knocking him back against the small parapet round the flat rooftop, the rifle sliding from his fingers. Blair meanwhile regained his balance as the would-be killer ignored him. And for that he died. Blair dived forward, scooping the rifle up as he rolled on his left shoulder, onto his knees, hands bringing the rifle up, perfectly balanced as he fired. The first bullet took the killer through the head, the second through the heart. The Guide got smoothly to his feet, he didn't have to check his kill.

Now all that mattered was his Sentinel, he was leaning over him when he heard the thud of approaching feet. He twisted round with the rifle ready to protect and kill again if it was needed. Three men stood there, guns pointed straight at him. One grunge dressed, one a fashion plate, and lastly a dead man.

"Drop the gun, kid." Simon Banks ordered. He had a good idea who the kid was, but all the same the kid needed to put the gun down. Then he added "Brown call 911, Officer down".

Blair hung onto the weapon not sure what was going on, only that the cops could not get their hands on Jack. "My Sentinel? You can't take him".

"Kid, Blair isn't it? ... Jim told us all about you".

"Jim."

"James *Jim* Ellison. He's a police officer, no one here is going to hurt him. You have to let us help him. Read me, kid."

Simon lowered his gun and moved closer. The empath seemed to look into his very soul, and only then did the rifle lower. In two long strides Simon had the gun off him. Blair was on his knees at Jack's side as he tried to stem the flow of blood, and took some solace from the help of the fashion plate cop.

"Jack's a cop?" Blair looked lost; in the distance he could hear the sirens of an ambulance as he clung onto his Sentinel's pale hand, needing the contact.

"Jim's a detective in Major Crimes, he's been undercover for the last six month to get Holland".

Gently almost, the large Captain collected up the Guide and moved him to one side as the paramedics worked on the fallen police officer. "Rafe, make sure Blair's in the ambulance. He's Jim's Guide, they must be kept together. We can take his statement later".

Simon was thoughtful as he watched them leave.

Cascade Hospital
The last hour had been a living nightmare as Jim had been taken through to ER, then to the operating theatre. On the good side, the bullet had avoided any major organs, and Jim would be back on duty fairly quickly. Now that he Blair was installed by the bedside of his Sentinel the Guide was a lot calmer.

Blair had been a near nervous wreak while the operation had been going on, and Simon had been on the verge of asking for a sedative for the young man when he had been called in and allowed to stay with his Sentinel. The relief in the man was a physical thing. Jim was Simon's detective, he was also his best friend, but he knew that if what he read was true then that didn't even start to cover what a bonded Sentinel and Guide experienced.

Uniforms where posted on the door of the room for added security but the sweep had been pretty complete, taking both Holland, and his Lieutenant Fallon, together in a car waiting for their second assassin to report the death of their scapegoat Jack Curtis.

24 Hours later
Simon's hand clutched the report. He was not looking forward to giving this to Jim. He paused just inside of the door. The Guide was leaned over his Sentinel, his hands fluttering over him, as he brought them both into the bond. Simon tried to prevent his distaste from showing. This was the side of the Sentinel and Guide relationship that was most widely misunderstood, as the Moral League had tried to besmirch any close contact between people as unnatural and wrong

Jim smiled as he saw his friend and coaxed his Guide to sit by his side, using his good hand to calm him down as his heartbeat began to race when he saw the Captain.

"How are you feeling, Jim?"

"Hurts, but I'll be out of here soon. It could have been a lot worse".

"You're not going to like this, but hear me out first. I did some checking on your Guide. Now don't give me the patented Ellison death glare, it doesn't work with me. You're a police officer and my friend, and if you're going to be life partnered with one of Holland's play toys, I wanted to know about him".

"Simon." The name was snarled. "He was not Holland's anything! He was abused and assaulted by that blackmailing scum". The blue eyes flashed. Jim pulled Blair closer as the waves of distress coming off the younger man were almost a physical force to the Sentinel.

"Blair Jacob Sandburg has a BA and MA in Anthropology, he has been at Rainier University for one year, he moved here in October. Is that right?"

The grad student nodded, his hand tighter on Jim's.

"We agree on that. In November his mother was involved in a serious car accident. She was driving, he was in the passenger side. The medical records show that he was in a coma for three days. The doctors say he made a near perfect recovery, no memory loss. Only I think there was".

"So you're a doctor now, Simon". Sarcasm from Ellison was never a good thing.

At least he's listening, now comes the hard part. "I think that he did have a memory loss and that he began to live his cover story".

"No way, man,. I am a Rainier University Teaching Assistant I am a Guide. Nothing more." Blair started to hyperventilate.

"Blair. Breathe for me, slow deep breaths, in and out". Jim tightened his hold on his Guide. Pleased when he could feel him following his orders and his breathing started to return to normal.

The Sentinel's patience began to wear thin, "Get on with it Simon".

"I had Blair's photo run through a few databases. It came back with a match. Blair Jacob Sandburg has a Bachelor of Assassination degree. He's a Master Assassin and is a TA at the Guild University in Vancouver. He's working for his doctorate. Don't you get it Jim? You were playing the part of assassin, Blair is one! He graduated top of his class. Hell, Jim, he's got honours in the subject".

Blair pushed away from his Sentinel, his hands flying to his head, he suddenly could not breath, "No way, man, I could not.” His knees buckled and he pitched forward. Jim lunged to catch him and cried out in pain, but Simon managed to grab the smaller man just in time to avoid his head coming into contact with the hard floor. Jim twisted and pressed the medical assist button even as Simon bent and picked up the smaller man and laid him on the bed next to his Sentinel.

"Don't worry, Jim, I'm sure he'll be okay". Then the medical personal arrived in force and Blair was swept away.

It was hard to keep the Sentinel in his bed, and worse when he saw the look on Simon's face after he had browbeat him into going to check on his Guide. "Simon, what's wrong?"

"He's escaped. He put a sleeper hold on a doctor and walked out".

"Simon, he's scared, you have to find him. He's my Guide. I can't lose him now".

48 Hours later
Officer James was standing at the door to the detective's room. When he saw the doctor coming down the corridor he shook his head, what was that old saying 'you knew you were getting old when the doctors looked young'. Hell, this one looked as if he was still in college. The intern's hair had been scraped back in a ponytail, and he wore sneakers and jeans under a white coat, the man was almost bouncing along,

"Hi, Officer.” He tipped his ID badge up. "Dr MacKay, come to check Detective Ellison".

The door was opened and the doctor was admitted.

"Hi, Jim.” Although the words where whispered, the Sentinel's eyes opened straight away.

"Blair".

"In the flesh, sorry about bailing on you, but I had a few things to do first".

"Mind telling me exactly who you are?".

Blair settled on the bottom of the bed, but the need for a Guide to have contact with his Sentinel made him edge nearer. His hand finally came to rest on Jim's leg. "My name is Blair Sandburg, and Captain Banks was right. I was in Cascade to do a contract, the name is not important, but it was one of a double hit. The second was one Alan Holland. I had to get close to him, so I moved to Rainier University and started to play the ponies, then my mother turned up. I wasn't exactly expecting her. Anyway, she was driving when we went off the road, and that was the last thing I remembered until I kinda woke up on a gurney".

"Our bond".

Blair caught his hand and pulled it close and pressed it against his heart, "Our bond is of the soul, not the mind, the bond for me is just as strong", he looked concerned at Jim, "What about you?"

For a moment the Sentinel closed his eyes, then a look of contentment came to his face, "It is still as strong, Blair, we are still one. You'll stay with me in Cascade".

"It's where I belong, by your side".

"No more hits, kid, Simon wouldn't like that".

"Okay, I promise. I would like to stay on at Rainier, thought I'd get my doctorate in anthropology. I kinda thought I would do my diss on Sentinel's in closed societies".

"Like the thin blue line".

"Do you think they would accept that?”

"Worth a spin round the block, Chief".

Blair eased his shoes off, reached back and untied his long hair, and allowed himself to be drawn onto the bed and nestled close to his Sentinel as they sank deeply into the bond.

Jim's good hand slide the automatic out of the shoulder holster Blair was wearing. "The first thing we do is get this thing registered with Cascade and not just the Guild".

"Any thing you say, Jim".

"And I can tell him you're retired".

"A change of profession, my Sentinel, just a change of profession".

Thee Weeks Later
Cascade PD

Simon Banks looked out of his doorway, and barked “Ellison, my office, now”. The Sentinel got to his feet, his hand petting Blair's shoulder, a gesture of reassurance to his young Guide. Blair was still finding his feet at the PD, he now had his official ride along credentials, and the detective's of Major Crime were slowly realising that as Jim Ellison's Guide he was here to stay. Only Rafe and H knew of Blair's background, and that was what Simon liked to think of as Jim's insurance policy.

The Sentinel might bluster and say that Blair was his Guide and would never turn on him, but Simon still thought once a Guild member, always a Guild member. Jim was his friend first and his detective second. Which if it meant protecting him from himself, so be it. To the rest of the department Blair Sandburg was a TA at Rainier and Jim's Guide, already they were taking bets on how long the kid would last at a murder scene, and how fast he would toss his cookies. Little knowing, Simon mused, that Blair had possibly caused more of them then they had hot dinners, be it before the fact. The kid was not as fragile as he looked.

Blair dug through his backpack and swore, he had left a book he needed in his car, when he got up from the desk. He saw Jim immediately turn and look towards him. He kept his voice Sentinel soft. “It's okay man, just getting a book, fifteen minutes tops”.

Only then did Jim turn back to Simon, he looked rather sheepish.

Simon, rather than angry, looked bemused. “Are you always going to be this sensitised with the kid?”

“I don't know, Simon, but at the moment, I can't help it. I have to keep him close.”

“As long as it doesn't interfere with your work. Now, the McMaster's case”.

Blair stepped out of the lift and took a calming breath; ever since the Devon Hit he had had a phobia about lifts. As the grad student unlocked his car, faint footfall echoed out, sending him spinning round, his hand going to the small of his back and his gun. The light from one of the overhead fixtures lit the newcomer from the feet upwards. Three-inch heels, then long legs, a tight skirt, and a leather jacket that fit in all the right places. Her face was not 'model' pretty, but it was striking in a powerful way that would turn men's heads.

“Hello, Angel”. Her voice was sultry and slightly husky. “Long time, lover.” Then with a grin added, as she looked him up and down “That your gun or are you just pleased to see me?” Her chuckle was low and sexy. She closed the distance between them; Blair remaining rooted to the spot. The woman dipped her head to claim his mouth as her arms came round to encircle his head and shoulders. She plundered his mouth, her tongue flicking over his lips. When he did not respond she nipped his lip hard enough to draw blood. Blair pushed back, his hand touching his bleeding lip.

“Still playing rough, Alex”.

“You always liked it that way, pet, remember?”

“No, you did Alex. It's all over, in the past”.

“So you say”. Alex pounced, taking him back against the car, her lips sealed to his. She pressed her body up against his, grinding her hips against him, her knee slipping between his, and pressing up, she felt him respond.

“Your mind might say NO, but you're body says YES”.

Blair's hand caught in her hair, pulling her head back down, finally only breaking the kiss when they needed air.

“Come on in, Alex, the water's warm”. His hand slid under her jacket wrapping round her waist.

The End.

23rd January 2001

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