Disclaimer: Not mine. I am only keeping the fandoms alive in our hearts.
Acknowledgments: Thank you to my beta Kerensa and a special thanks to Neichan whose discussions about character interaction helped me to polish this story.
The two couples awoke the next morning to the harsh sound of the alarm clock. Xander found himself tightly wedged between Spike and Blair. He was embarrassed by the incident that had taken place the night before and just wanted to close his eyes and bury himself under the covers.
Jim and Blair got up first and showered together. Blair was surprised that Jim, usually a very private man was so totally unselfconscious.
“It really doesn’t bother you that they are in our bed?” Blair asked as he washed Jim’s back.
“I’m the one that insisted they be there, Chief.”
“I never thought I’d see the day that you would share our bed with anyone,” Blair said as he handed Jim the soap and turned around to have his back washed.
“Not anyone, they’re family,” Jim said as he ran the specially scented soap over Blair’s back. “Sentinel family and they’re in danger.”
“They? Why do you say they? I thought it was only Xander.”
“Come on, Chief, put it together, Booker’s missing, his house is blown up, both teachers that Xander reported the abuse to are dead, No one knows where Ethan Rayne is, but we do know he was keeping track of Xander. It makes sense Rayne will try to kill Spike.”
“Have you mentioned this to Spike?” Blair asked, shocked that anyone would try to murder a sentinel.
“Not in words, but he knows,” Jim said with a feral grin. “I almost pity the man that comes after him.”
“Come on, Pet,” Spike said as he pulled the sheet out of Xander’s fist. “We have to shower and have breakfast before we go to the station.”
Xander curled himself into a ball and clutched his knees to his chest.
“Guide, stop this behavior right now,” Spike said.
Xander didn’t move.
Spike picked him up, took him into the bathroom, laid him in the tub and turned on the cold water.
Xander squealed, stood up and turned off the shower. “What did you do that for?” he yelled at Spike.
“You weren’t responding to me.” Spike got into the tub and then turned on the water and readjusted it to a comfortable temperature. He picked up the soap and began to wash his guide. “There is nothing to be embarrassed about,” he said as he rubbed his hands over his guide’s body in an attempt to give comfort. “We were all together. It was just normal sentinel behavior.”
“That was normal?” Xander asked in disbelief.
“For a sentinel, yes.” Spike said in a sultry voice as he rinsed the soap off of his guide.
“No wonder you’re all so damn tight mouthed about what goes on between you,” Xander said as he took the soap and began washing Spike. “Oh, and for the record, my ass is sore.”
When the foursome got to the station Jim and Spike picked up where they had left off interviewing guides and faculty from the guide school.
“I think we need to talk,” Blair said to Xander who had refused to make eye contact with anyone during breakfast and was now doing his best to disappear among the office furniture. They went to a conference room and put a busy sign on the door.
“Xander,” Blair began as they took seats beside each other at the large table. “I know you’re embarrassed about last night, But that was normal…”
“Normal sentinel behavior,” Xander interrupted. “I know Spike told me.”
“We need to talk about this,” Blair said. “You’re letting it interfere with your guide duties.”
“I let him down, Blair,” Xander said as he studied the tabletop.
Blair waited for Xander to continue.
After a few moments Xander sighed and started to speak again. “It’s not just the sex, I mean Spike is really good, He’s sweet and gentle and attentive and then I go and spoil it all because I didn’t want to get out of bed. Part of me says what’s so wrong about wanting privacy? But I know Sentinels are different. They have different social rules and I violated them and caused that whole…whatever it was, I was the cause of it.”
“You made a mistake, Xan, now you know not to do it again.”
“I feel so lost. What was the point of going to guide school when I’m so unprepared?” Xander moaned and lifted his head toward the ceiling, “God it hurts, I didn’t know it could hurt like this; I don’t want to disappoint him again. What am I supposed to do?” he said, looking at Blair. “I don’t think I’ll be able to respond to him with you and Jim there.”
Blair took Xander’s hand. “I’ll talk to Jim, I think I can get him to let you and Spike have some private time as long as you come upstairs afterward. I know it’s a compromise but Jim can’t sleep until he knows you’re safe and that means the four of us in the same bed.”
Jim was busy on the phone with yet another guide interview when the envelope from Booker arrived. It was unusual for him to get mail at the station, so as soon as he finished the call he picked it up. Spike’s desk was beside him so he turned to give Spike a heads up about the envelope.
“When did that come in?” Spike asked as soon as he saw what Jim had.
“Just a few minutes ago,” Jim said as he slit open the envelope, tipped out the contents and handed half to Spike.
Spike and Jim began to scan the pages, “A lot of this has to do with a company called Washington Genetics,” Spike said.
“Yeah, mine too,” Jim said.
“This stuff goes back years,” Spike said. “Washington Genetics, isn’t that just this side of Tacoma?”
“Yes, it’s a big company, specializes in stem cell research, and treatment of genetic diseases with gene therapy. They’ve had a couple of good breakthroughs.”
“But what does this have to do with Xander?” Spike asked. “He’s not sick, he’s…”
Both Sentinels looked up from the papers they were holding and locked eye contact as the realization of why Ethan wanted Xander hit them with an accompanying wave of rage.
In the conference room Blair and Xander froze for a split second. “What the hell?” Xander said as they stood up and ran for their sentinels.
Jim and Spike were on the move toward Simon’s office as the silent shout for the pack rippled across the bullpen.
H and Rafe stood up; the empathic call was impossible to resist and they made their way toward the meeting place.
Tara gasped when she felt the emotional ripple, her eyes opened even larger and her heartbeat increased. Simon stood up and opened the door to his office; three sentinels and three guides entered.
“What is it?” Simon asked without sitting down.
“We know why Ethan wants Xander,” Jim said as he tossed the papers he held onto Simon’s desk.
Xander look at Spike. “You do, you figured out what’s in it for him?”
Spike put his hands on Xander’s shoulders and leaned his forehead against Xander’s. “Yeah, Pet, we did.”
Everyone waited for Spike to tell his guide what he knew. It was his right and obligation as Xander’s sentinel.
“He wants to harvest your genetic makeup,” Spike began, “and use gene splicing to make super soldiers. If he can trigger your sentinel gene he’ll be able to make millions. Every country in the world will want an army of sentinels with 6 hyper-senses.”
Xander’s mouth dropped open in shock and he backed away from his sentinel. “Harvest? Like I’m nothing but a tomato plant. What makes him think he has the right…” Xander looked at the four sentinels in turn, Spike, Jim, H and Simon; and then he laughed hysterically, “Oh, but we know don’t we. Guides don’t have any rights except what their sentinel gives them. I’m just a slave so why shouldn’t Ethan hop on the gravy train.”
Spike reached for his guide. “You’re upset, Pet. Come on let’s go where we can talk this out alone.”
Xander yanked his arm away. “A pet, that’s all I am to you,” he said, his anger clearly showing in his voice. “Do you really want to talk this out or just suck on my guide gland until my brain is scrambled and then fuck me silly?”
“He’s too stressed,” Tara said. “We have to get him out of here and do a healing.”
“We’ll take him to the Guide Hospital,” Blair said.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Xander growled.
“Yes you are, My Love,” Spike said in a soft voice as he reached out to stroke his guide’s face.
Xander backed away until he was against the wall and had nowhere to go.
“Blair and Tara,” Simon said, “You’re both healers; the six of us should stay together. H, call the hospital and tell them we are on the way and then make sure the bullpen knows we’re off duty for a while. Meet us at the hospital. I think the pack needs to do this together.”
“Oh, goodie,” Xander laughed, “an orgy.”
It was rare that a guide got so stressed that he or she needed the pack to heal, but Ethan’s plan was more than an affront to Xander; it was an outrage to the pack. Xander was family, bonded by sprit and body to the pack; to wound Xander was to wound the pack and they would do whatever it took to heal him and bring him back to the fold.
The healing suite at the guide hospital was specially designed for pack healings. It consisted of a 14X14 sunken nesting room; sleeping together was not a problem as the floor was paved with foam mattresses. Pillows and comforters were folded around the perimeter giving the room the look and feel of a nest. The bathroom was quite large with a whirlpool big enough to hold 10. Four could shower together comfortably in the stall shower. The only windows in the rooms were heavily frosted skylights; sentinels liked their privacy. The room was painted green and there was a sound machine capable of playing a rain shower, waves on a beach or a babbling brook along with several other soothing possibilities. When Henri called the hospital to let them know the pack was on the way he told them to make sure the whirlpool was ready when they arrived.
Xander had gone quiet during the ride to the hospital. It was worse than the rage, far worse. It was as if he had simply removed his consciousness from the world. Spike took off his shirt and Xander’s, they sat together with as much skin-to-skin contact as the van ride would allow. Tara reached over and stroked the pair offering her empathic support.
When they reached the hospital, Spike carried Xander to the suite. Simon was surprised that he could handle the larger man so easily; even though Spike was in a dead tie with Ellison for the most perfect pecks he had ever seen.
Nothing was said when the group reached the healing suite. Spike sat Xander against the wall and finished removing Xander’s clothing as well as his own. The rest of the group disrobed and let their clothes fall to the floor forgotten as they moved with one thought, heal the guide.
Jim climbed into the whirlpool first and held out his arms to take Xander so Spike could enter. Jim sat Xander down and Spike sat next to him on the left. Blair sat next to Spike and Jim next to Blair. Tara sat on the right of Xander with Simon on her other side. Spike held Xander with both arms; one arm around his shoulder the other across his waist. He looked up at Tara with a pain filled expression that broke her heart.
“I know this is hard,” she said to Spike. “Xander’s been through a lot in his life. Finding out what Rayne had planned was just the last straw. He’s always been alone, until you. He just needs to learn to trust that we’re here for him; then he’ll come back to us.”
Jim sat in the warm whirling water, cuddled as closely to Blair as the seats would allow.
One hand stroked Blair’s thigh, the other arm was around his shoulders, but the hand was rested on Spike’s shoulder, his fingers moved gently offering to the other sentinel what small comfort he could give. The two healers continued to touch and stroke the emotionally wounded guide and his sentinel, pouring their energy and support into each stroke.
When H and Rafe arrived they picked up everyone’s clothes, guns and badges and put them away before removing their own and entering the tub to sit next to Simon.
When the warm water and the comforting sound of the bubbles made them sleepy the group moved to the main room. Pillows were brought to the center of the nest and Spike and Xander lay on their sides facing each other with their legs entangled. Blair spooned up behind Spike and Jim cuddled in behind Blair. Blair poured his healing energy into everyone he touched.
Tara lay down against Xander’s back hugging him, stroking his arm and pouring her healing energy into him. Simon was behind her then Rafe and H. All lay with their arms outstretched touching as many of the pack as they could. Their hands moved up and down with gentle stroking. All the Sentinels began to purr and the two healing guides made soft mewling sounds.
Xander didn’t respond. His mind sat in a dark room. Something on the other side of the dark kept touching him and calling to him. He refused to respond, they were in the light and being in the light hurt. Xander retreated into sleep.
By afternoon Jim could feel that Blair was exhausted he pulled him away so that he was no longer touching Spike. “That’s enough for now Chief, you need to rest.
Spike had had all he could take of Xander’s suffering. As soon as Blair moved away he stood up looked up at the ceiling and started shouting with an English accent. “Why are you hurtin’ im? ‘E doesn’t deserve this!”
Blair tried to get up and go to Spike but Jim held him down and called to H and Rafe. “Hold him, I’ll get Spike.”
Spike continued his rant, “I’m the one that’s suppos’ ta be payin for wha’ I did. ‘E never did ena thin’ but fight for the good.”
“Sentinel,” Jim said quietly as he reached for Spike.
Spike slipped away from Jim’s grip and looked him in the eye, “She said I could come ‘ere and be a sentinel. It was my reward for savin’ the world. Said I could bond with my soul mate.” Spike looked back up at the ceiling and shouted. “Where are you, come ‘ere and fix this.” Spike collapsed on to his knees in tears; he buried his face in his hands.
Jim dropped to the floor and grabbed Spike hard. “Sentinel,” he shouted, desperate to get Spike’s attention and snap him out of the bizarre fugue.
Spike startled and then looked into Jim’s eyes. “Jim, what happened?”
Blair lay back exhausted, Jim could take care of Spike; he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
“You were in some kind of fugue state,” Jim said softly as he stroked Spike’s face. “How are you feeling?”
“Here, lay down,” Jim said.
“No. Xan,” Spike said
“Tara has him and he’s sleeping right now. You need to regain control. Lay down I’ll help you.”
Spike let Jim lay him down onto his back. Jim stroked Spike’s arm and torso and gently kissed his shoulder.
Simon watched with surprise, he knew the sentinels bonded when in a war zone, but only when a healing guide was unavailable. The bond was always second to that of a guide but no less permanent. It could stabilize a sentinel until a healing guide could be reached but he had never experienced a sentinel-to-sentinel bond; he had never been in a situation where one was needed.
Jim pulled Spike onto his side and stroked his face. “You’re beautiful,” he whispered.
“Jim,” Spike whispered back sadly as he touched Jim’s face in return. “I’m mated to Xander.”
“And I’m mated to Blair and that’s not going to change, for either of us, I promise.”
“Then I don’t understand,” Spike said. “It feels…”
“Right,” Jim said as he captured Spike’s mouth in a kiss.
H left Blair with Rafe and moved over beside Simon. He needed the elder sentinel’s touch and reassurance. He could sense that what was happening between Jim and Spike was sacred and he wasn’t sure whether it required witnesses or privacy.
Spike pulled away from the kiss. “I can’t, Jim, Xander needs me.”
“You need to regain control before you can help Xander to heal,” Jim said.
Spike leaned back and moaned in despair.
Jim pulled Spike to him again. “I know it hurts,” he whispered. “Let me help you bear it.”
It was the call of the pack leader and Spike could not resist. This time when Jim kissed him he opened himself to it.
H and Simon felt the call, it was more than a sentinel offering help to another. They moved closer to witness the bonding of their leader to his chosen second.
Jim and Spike explored each other’s bodies with their hands as their kisses became more passionate. They moaned and purred and made comforting mewling sounds to each other to satisfy their need to hear one another. Their hands explored each other’s bodies, tracing the hills and valleys of perfectly toned muscles to satisfy their sense of touch. They drank each other in with their eyes, Spike’s blond wavy hair and Jim’s square jaw line. They licked and sniffed their way around the other’s body, nowhere was off limits, arm pits were nuzzled and tasted, vertebrae was stroked and silently counted, Cheeks were pulled apart and fingers and tongues sent waves of pleasure through their bodies. Their eyes were the dark blue of a sentinel in thrall when their tongues found each other’s erection; rock hard, hot and weeping pre-cum the wet lick of a tongue made the sentinels moan in ecstasy. Hands found their way between legs to gently rock testicles over their palm, as hungry mouths demanded more. And more was given as each sentinel drank in the other’s essence in an explosion of body and will. They didn’t want to let go. They continued to lick until each flaccid shaft was rested back into its fluffy pubic nest.
Only then did they break away and pull each other into a kiss; with that soft enduring promise of devotion they were sated and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
When Spike and Jim awoke they exchanged a look and a nod and then each went to their respective guides. Rafe moved back with H when Jim took Blair in his arms.
Spike lay down next to Xander. “I’ll take Xander now, Tara, you should get some rest.”
“No,” Tara said. “I can wait until Blair wakes up.”
“It’s okay, Tara,” Spike said with a melancholy smile. “I’ve got him.”
“Spike’s right,” Simon said. “You’ve been at this long enough, you need a break.” He pulled Tara into his arms.
Spike held Xander, rocking him gently and making the same mewling sounds he had made their first night together.
It hurt and he woke up, something was touching him and it was in terrible pain. Xander tried to curl up against it but he couldn’t; his empathic sense demanded that he pay attention. Someone was in pain and he was causing it. He moaned.
Spike felt Xander’s body twitch and heard the moan. “Xan?” he called.
“Love, it’s okay, you’re not alone. Xan? Please, Love”
Xander began to cry, softly at first and then hard body jarring sobs. “How can you love me?” he chocked out between sobs. “I’m just a thing.”
“No, no, you’re not; I need you, Xan.”
Blair woke up and moved to lie against Spike’s back, followed by Jim. The rest of the pack came together, stroking one another and offering comfort and healing to Xander and Spike.
“I let you down,” Xander said. “I’m sorry.”
“You came back to me; that’s all that counts,” Spike said with a kiss to Xander’s forehead, and the sentinels purred.
The pack cuddled together for a while before going into the whirlpool again and then each couple went to their own corner of the nest to renew their bond before coming back to the center to sleep intertwined.
Xander was still very much on edge after the whirlpool, so Spike did not fully claim him. He licked and stroked and pleasured Xander to orgasm orally. Spike was willing to let it go at that but Xander insisted on bringing Spike to climax, whispering that he had already let his sentinel down enough and didn’t want a non-mutual on his conscience.
Spike and Xander were the first couple to return to the middle of the nest. Xander lay on his side and Spike spooned him. As soon as they got comfortable Blair cuddled in behind Xander and Jim behind Blair. Jim’s big arm stretched across the two guides and rested on Spike. Spike entwined his fingers with Jim’s and they slept well through the night.
The other group of 4 formed their own tangle of bodies, also with the guides between the two sentinels.
They woke naturally in the morning. Simon and Tara were the first to shower, dress and leave the group. Tara offered her neck to each of the sentinels before leaving and she gave a sisterly kiss to each of the guides. H and Rafe were the next to go, Rafe also offering his neck to the two remaining sentinels and kissed the guides, European style, on each cheek.
Jim wanted the remaining members of the pack to shower together. Xander had learned his lesson about saying no to the pack leader so he agreed. Jim wanted to wash Spike’s back, but Xander was resistant to the idea saying he needed to resume his guide duties, so Jim said he would settle for washing Spike’s hair. Blair was surprised, hair washing seamed more intimate then back washing, but it was puzzlement as to why Jim wanted to wash Spike at all. As the group was getting out of the shower Jim pulled Spike back in saying he still had suds in his hair.
“We have to tell them,” Jim said. “The longer we wait the harder it will be.”
“I know,” Spike said. “But Xander’s still kind of shaky.”
“I’ll do it,” Jim said. “It’s my place as head of the pack.”
When they left the shower Blair was drying his hair and Xander had found some disposable razors and was shaving.
Jim wiped himself down so that he was no longer dripping before speaking.
“Chief, Xander,” he said. “There’s something I have to tell you.”
Spike moved beside Xander and took his hand.
“Yesterday, with Simon and H as witnesses, I claimed Spike as my second.”
Xander was confused. “Your second what?” he asked.
Blair wasn’t confused. “I should have known,” he said. “But I didn’t want to believe it. I felt it when he was standing there with that stupid pillow and the way you watched him move around the room and the things you said in the elevator. You couldn’t wait to bring him into the pack.”
Xander suddenly understood. “It’s my fault isn’t it?”
“No,” Spike said. “It’s no one’s fault.”
Xander yanked his hand away from Spike, “Don’t lie to me. I wasn’t there for you. You needed me and I wasn’t there. So you bonded with the pack leader.”
“It was my idea and my right as pack leader to choose a second,” Jim said.
“Pet, listen to what he is saying; I’m second. We agreed guides come first.”
“He’s telling you the truth,” Blair said still angry and with a touch of sarcasm. “A sentinel-to-sentinel bond is always second to a sentinel-guide bond.”
Spike tilted his head and looked at Xander. “You’re first and you’ll always be first,” he said, his blue eyes pleading for his guide to understand.
Xander looked into Spike’s eyes, his empathic sense could see the pain, the hope, the fear and the overwhelming love, and he made a decision. He was going to stop running away; he was going to stop being a scared little boy and start being a man and Xander, the man and one true guide to Sentinel Detective William Spikeman, stepped forward. “I love you,” he said and he pulled Spike into a hug. “I’m sorry for any pain I’ve caused you. I’m going to do better, I promise.”
Spike threw his arms around his guide. “I love you too, Pet…I love you too,” he said as he nuzzled his guide’s neck.
Blair walked out of the bathroom and stood in the nesting room with his back against the wall looking up at the skylight.
Jim came into the room and walked over to his guide. “Are we okay, Chief?”
Blair gave an ironic little laugh. “I feel like I got punched in the stomach. I keep trying to figure out why I wasn’t enough.”
“It’s not like that, Chief, this had nothing to do with you. It was…I don’t know…Primal…Instinct…I can’t explain it any better than that. I won’t let him come between us.”
“He already has,” Blair said.
“Only in your mind. He doesn’t want me. He wants his guide and I want mine.”
Blair sighed. “How are we supposed to make this work, Jim, four alpha males in the same household?”
“You think this is funny?” Blair asked, with renewed ire.
“You’re thinking about how to make it work.” Jim said as he ran his fingers through Blair’s damp hair. That means you’ve accepted it.”
“Don’t have much of a choice,” Blair said pushing away from the wall. He walked into the bathroom and approached Spike. He pulled his hair away and offered Spike his neck.
“Welcome to the family,” he said.
Xander watched as Spike held Blair and licked and sucked at his neck. His stomach gave a small jolt but he told himself it was all pack behavior and what was good for one guide was good for both. He walked over to Jim. “I don’t think welcome to the family is the correct thing for me to say so I’ll just say: Care for a taste?” And he offered his neck to Jim.
Jim couldn’t help thinking this was a different Xander as he took him in his arms. This was the alpha male Blair had mentioned. The healing had worked.
It was late morning when the four men left the hospital. They called a cab and stood in front of the main entrance waiting for it to arrive. They were chatting about the weather when Xander was suddenly hit with a red alert. He screamed, “Get down” as he swept a leg out from under Spike and fell on top of him. Jim and Blair hit the ground a split second later. The sniper bullet flew over their head and hit a guide standing at the reception desk inside the hospital. Jim had his gun out and was scanning the parking garage for the sniper. Spike pushed Xander off of him and then took out his gun as he got on top of his guide to shield him from any further bullets.
“Roof,” Jim said and started shooting, “Get them to cover.”
Spike ushered Blair and Xander into the hospital and down the corridor where a sentinel had taken his injured guide for safety.
“We’re healer’s,” Blair said as he took the injured guide out of the sentinel’s arms and Xander put pressure on the wound.
“Call for back up and stay with them,” Spike told the strange sentinel and then he was gone.
Jim had grabbed an empty ambulance and blocked the exit and entrance to the garage. Spike ran across the courtyard and found Jim behind a car waiting for him.
“A guide is down, sentinel is with them, backup’s on its way,” Spike whispered.
Jim nodded and signaled for them to start a sweep of the garage. They found Gunn on the second level holding an un-bonded female guide as hostage.
“Let the woman go,” Jim said as Spike crept closer, unseen by Gunn.
“I’ll trade you the guide for Spikeman,” Gunn said.
“Spikeman’s not here, he stayed in the hospital, he’s guarding the guides.”
“You got a cell phone, call him, or you’ll have a dead guide on your conscience.”
Jim needed to stall for time. He knew exactly where Spike was. He could smell him and hear him creeping around trying to outflank Gunn.
“Back-up is on the way,” Jim said. “You kill a guide and you’ll never get out of here alive.”
Spike was in position. He put away his gun; he would need both hands.
Jim never saw a human being move so fast.
Spike was a blur as he jumped at Gunn. He grabbed the gun first, and a bullet hit the ceiling. The gun clattered to the floor as Spike snapped the hit man’s wrist. Jim ran for the guide as she screamed hysterically. Gunn tried to twist around to fight but Spike had him by the head. Jim heard Gunn’s neck snap and he was dead before he hit the ground.
Jim hugged the distraught guide as he watched Spike go through Gunn’s clothing for evidence. Back-up arrived. A sentinel took the distraught guide to the hospital and the area was cordoned off.
Gunn was a pro and they found nothing in his pockets. The pair left the scene to the CSI people and walked back to the hospital. Jim grabbed Spike’s arm and stopped him half way across the courtyard.
“What did you do before you became a sentinel?” Jim asked. “And don’t give me that bull shit about being a teacher.”
“I was black ops,” Spike whispered.
“I was black ops, elite team. I didn’t know you.”
“I was blacker,” Spike said and started to move.
Jim grabbed his arm again. “I’m your pack leader, you’re my second, we’re bonded; I have a right to know.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me,” Jim said.
Spike shook his head and then looked into Jim’s eyes “I was in the coma for three days,” Spike said. “During those three days I lived a whole other life. That’s where I learned how to be a predator. I don’t remember much. Just bits and pieces really. And nightmares, sometimes I have nightmares. I know I did things, bad things, and I became a sentinel to make up for them.”
“That was just a dream,” Jim said.
“Then tell me how I managed to kill a professional hit man, bare handed, in less then 10 seconds?” Spike asked.