Acknowledgments: Thank you to my beta Kerensa and a special thanks to Neichan whose discussions about character interaction helped me to polish this story.
Blair watched his sentinel kiss Xander and was undecided about how he felt. He had never seen Jim kiss another guide, man or woman, not even Tara, who he knew that Jim admired enough to ask her to be a surrogate mother of their child. He could see that Jim’s kiss did not have any of the demanding need that Jim had when he kissed him but it did have a kind of passion, not demanding, but a sharing of himself and a willingness to receive from another. Blair doubted that Jim’s willingness to share himself would extend beyond their little quartet but it was still more than Jim was willing to do a month ago. He decided he felt good about the kiss.
Spike watched the kiss and smiled. He was secure in his love for Xander and Xander’s love for him. Xander was his touchstone, his rock. No matter what the storm he could stand firm as long as he had his guide. Jim was a visitor to Rock Xander, but only a visitor, just as he was only a visitor to Jim’s rock, Blair.
Blair was the perfect guide for Jim, warm, friendly and outgoing to Jim’s ‘pompous ass’ demeanor.
But Xander was his perfect guide. Warm, sweet, caring and willing to heal another, even when he himself was in pain. But the biggest reason Xander was perfect for him was because Xander needed him as much as he needed Xander.
The kiss ended and Jim looked into Xander’s eyes and smiled and then he turned to Blair. “Are you all right, Chief?” he asked.
“That was beautiful, man,” Blair said. “I’m proud of you.”
Jim took a step toward his guide and opened his arms. “Proud?” he asked.
Blair stepped into Jim’s arms. “Yes, proud that you were able to open up to him. I know that it’s not easy for you.”
“I was scared of what I would feel for him,” Jim said, burying his face in Blair’s hair. “I didn’t want to hurt you.”
“It’s not the same as what you feel for me,” Blair said. “I could tell by the way you kissed him.”
“No, it’s not the same, Xander is a wonderful person, but he is not my one true guide and he is not my mate. You are.”
“And may I say how glad I am about that,” Xander said with a smile.
Jim looked over at the guide. “Was there something wrong with the kiss?” he asked, deciding to tease Xander a bit.
“No, no, the kiss was great. In a different sort of way then the way kisses are great with Spike. I just mean that is was obvious to me that Blair is a better fit with you than I could ever be.”
“And you, my love,” Spike interrupted, as he wrapped his arms around Xander, “are a better fit to me than Blair could ever be.”
“And don’t you ever forget it,” Xander said with a quick kiss to the tip of Spike’s nose.
“Not bloody likely.” Spike said in a perfect English accent and then began to tickle Xander. Xander broke away and started running around the nesting room, giggling. Spike took off after him and when he caught him the couple fell on the soft floor kissing and pawing at each other. Spike kissed his way down Xander’s torso and captured his guide’s cock in his mouth. Xander lay back to enjoy the sensations Spike was giving him and moaned in pleasure.
Jim and Blair smiled at Spike and Xander’s antics and lay down on the floor themselves. Jim began kissing and stroking Blair. “Do you know how precious you are to me?” he asked his guide.
“Tell me,” Blair whispered.
“I love you,” Jim said, “you’re my shelter in a storm, you keep me sane, you give me control, and I just want to kiss you and make love to you.”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Blair asked.
Two hours later the four sated lovers decided they needed a shower to slough of the remains of their lovemaking. Once in the shower, they again switched partners.
This time they were more relaxed and at ease with each other and after drying off they returned to the nesting room to lie together.
Jim’s sentinel behavior kicked in and he began exploring Xander’s body, first with smell and then with touch. He ran his fingers over Xander, patterning him and committing this guide to sentinel memory. Xander attempted to respond with touch, but Jim stopped him, and when Xander looked into the dark blue eyes of the sentinel he understood the bonding had begun so he lay back and allowed Jim to explore him. It was a slow process, the touching, seeing and smelling followed by the tasting. Jim started with Xander’s face and then moved down to his neck. He suckled Xander’s guide gland for a few minutes and then moved down his arms. Each finger was lovingly licked and sucked. Xander was rolled over and a warm wet tongue ran down his back. Each vertebra was counted and licked. The sentinel took particular delight in nipping at the most sensitive areas of Xander’s cheeks before moving down his thighs and on to his toes. It seemed to Xander that Jim wasn’t just sucking and tasting his toes but worshiping them. He looked over at Spike who was watching with such love in his eyes that Xander’s heart filled to nearly bursting.
Jim licked his way up between Xander’s legs and then picked up his legs and put them over his shoulders. He leaned in and began licking Xander’s crack. When he came to Xander’s bud he encircled it with his tongue licking and sucking. Then he laid Xander onto his side and looked at Spike.
Spike understood the summons and moved in behind his guide; he slicked his finger and began making Xander ready as Jim continued to give Xander oral pleasure. When Xander was properly stretched Spike entered him. Jim and Spike synchronized their rhythm and Xander became lost in a bonding thrall.
Blair moved in and began stroking Jim’s weeping erection.
And then Xander felt it. Both sentinels were there in his mind and soul, wanting to protect him and care for him. Xander was overwhelmed with the love he felt from them and he called out Spike’s name as his seed filled Jim’s mouth. Jim and Spike reached their climax together as Spike called to his guide. “I’m here, Pet, I’m here.”
Jim licked the last drops of cum from Xander’s cock and pulled away to look into Xander's eyes, “Are you all right?” he asked.
“Oh gods,” Xander said. “Oh gods that was…intense. I didn’t know you were both going to…”
“It just seemed the right thing to do,” Jim said with a smile that held just a bit of smugness.
“Yeah,” Xander said. “Definitely the right thing.”
“Did it work?” Blair asked. “Are you bonded?”
Jim moved back and placed Blair between him and Xander where he belonged. “Yeah, Chief, we’re bonded, But you’re still my one true guide and my mate.”
Blair snuggled in against Jim. “I didn’t think otherwise,” he said.
The three spent men closed their eyes to rest and fell asleep. Blair tried to sleep with them but sleep was ellusive. He resorted to meditation in an attempt to calm himself but sleep still would not come. He was gradually getting more stressed. He tried to put the lust he felt for Spike behind him. He knew it was a result of Jim’s bond with Spike and his need to share that bond but the frantic need only seemed to become more demanding. And then they woke. All of them could feel a guide in desperate need.
Xander moved out of the way so that Spike and Jim could tend to Blair.
“It’s time, Chief,” Jim said, and with a nudge encouraged Blair to roll over and face Spike.
Spike put his hand on Blair’s shoulder and gently helped him turn over. “Tell me what you need, Blair?” Spike asked, as soon as Blair faced him.
“Do what Jim did for Xander,” Blair said.
Spike could smell Blair’s lust for him. He could feel it pounding through Blair’s body. “You’re not Xander, that’s not what you need. It’s okay, tell me what ‘you’ need.”
“I need to bond with you.”
Spike began kissing Blair as he spoke. “Do you know how beautiful you are?” He said with a kiss. “So warm,” kiss, “caring,” kiss, “so willing to give,” kiss. “And so beautiful to look at.” Spike captured Blair’s mouth in a softly passionate kiss. He brushed his tongue against Blair’s mouth and the guide opened to the sentinel. Their tongues met and danced as Spike slid his hands down Blair’s back and cupped his ass, pulling the guide to him. Their erections rubbed against each other and Blair broke the kiss with a soft moan.
Spike nuzzled Blair’s neck and began to suck and nibble at Blair’s guide gland.
“Spike, please,” Blair gasped. “I can’t, I’m not supposed to want you like this.”
“It’s okay, Chief,” Jim said as Spike continued suckling and rubbing his erection against Blair’s. “You need to bond with him; you have to let go.”
Something inside Blair snapped, as if Jim’s words had broken a barrier; he could no longer hold back his need. He pulled Spike’s head away from his neck and captured his mouth in a brutal kiss. He sucked in Spike’s lower lip and worried it between his teeth as he rolled Spike onto his back with him on top. He wiggled down’s Spike torso and sucked in one of Spike’s nipples. He sucked hard and when the nipple was swollen and tender he bit into it.
Jim had never seen Blair be brutal. He reached out for his guide but Xander stopped him.
“Let him take what he needs,” Xander said, empathically feeling Blair’s need.
Spike allowed Blair to take control. He simply held the guide and gently stroked him as he took what he needed. Spike hissed from the sting when Blair bit his nipple but then suddenly it wasn’t Blair on top of him in the nesting room but a blond woman in an alley.
“That’s right, Luv,” Spike said to the woman, but it was Blair that heard the words. “Let me have it. Give it to me; give it to me good, give it all to me.”
And then as suddenly as it started it was over. Blair stopped, looked at Spike and gave a heartfelt moan as he pushed away and rolled off of Spike. Spike blinked; the alley and the woman disappeared and he was back in the nesting room.
“I hurt you,” the guide said in a pain filled voice.
“No, Love, no,” Spike said, as he sat up and pulled Blair to him. “You just got some things out of your system that’s all.” Spike stroked and planted little kisses on Blair’s face as he talked. “I’m all right.”
“I was so angry at you,” Blair said. “And even more angry at myself.”
“Why would you be angry at yourself?” Jim asked. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“You have to tell him,” Spike said, “or what happened just now will come back on you.”
“What I feel isn’t real,” Blair said. “It’s because of your bond with Jim.”
“What is it that’s not real?” Jim asked. “If it’s not real why not tell me?”
Blair looked at his sentinel. “When we talked about doing this,” he said, “Xander and I said it wasn’t what we wanted but it was what we needed. It would have been more accurate for me to say I don’t want to want it.”
Jim pulled his guide into a hug. “It’s okay, Chief,” he said. “I can’t fault you for it, when I wanted it myself.”
“Jim,” Blair said, his anguish at what he was about to say was evident. “I need to bond with Spike. I don’t understand why I have this drive. I’ve tried to push it away. It just keeps coming back harder. I don’t know what it is but it just… won’t… stop. I just feel like… Ohhh,” gave a pain filled moan, “I can’t feel a part of you, Jim. It’s like a big dark room and Spike is the key… My gut tells me I have to bond with him. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve tried to push it away, Jim, honest I’ve tried, but it just comes back, even stronger.”
Jim was overwhelmed with concern for his guide. “That’s why we’re here, Chief, so you can bond with Spike,” he said as he stroked Blair.
Blair hung his head. “I think I need more than what you did with Xander,” he whispered.
Confusion mixed with concern for Blair flooded Jim’s emotions. “What are you saying, guide?” Jim asked. “You want the sentinel to claim you?”
“I want to be his second,” Blair said, “He’s your second, I want to be his.”
Anger suddenly welled up in Jim. “Two sentinel’s can’t claim the same guide!” Jim growled.
“Let him do it,” Xander whispered.
“What?” Jim asked, as anger, worry and confusion swirled into a kaleidoscope of feelings “You want Spike to claim him?”
“I want Blair to live, that black place where Blair can’t touch you, that’s death,” Xander said. “Something dangerous is coming, I feel it. We need this; the pack needs this. If Spike doesn’t claim Blair he won’t survive.”
“Xan,” Blair said, “I never wanted to hurt you.”
“You’re not hurting me, Blair,” Xander said. “Really it’s okay, It would hurt me more to lose you as a friend.”
“Are you sure about this?” Jim asked as worry for his guide won the battling emotions.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m 8.9 sure.” Xander said.
“Hazard detection,” Blair said.
“Do you know what the danger is?” Spike asked.
“No,” Xander said, “I don’t even know when, could be tomorrow, could be next year.”
Jim got up and started pacing; Blair sat on the floor, cross-legged, watching him.
Jim stopped pacing and ran his fingers through his hair. He looked down at his guide. “Can this drive you have to bond with Spike be your hazard detection kicking in?”
“I’m not as sensitive as Xander, but yeah, It could be,” Blair said. “It would explain a lot.”
“Then do it,” Jim said, determined to do what was best for his guide.
Spike got up and walked over to Jim. “Blair’s your guide now and he’ll be your guide when this is done. It’s why we did this in the first place, to keep our guides safe. This is just one more step.”
Jim looked into Spike’s eye’s. “If it were anyone else I’d kill him,” he said as a statement of fact.
“If it were anyone else,” Spike said, “I’d help you.”
Jim pulled Spike into a passionate kiss. “Brothers,” he said when the kiss ended.
“Brothers,” Spike repeated with a nod.
Xander walked over and put his hand on Spike’s shoulder. “Make it beautiful,” he said with a smile.
Spike pulled Xander into a hug, “You’re mine,” he whispered, “ and always will be.”
“And you’re mine,” Xander said, “And always will be.”
“I need to do this now, Pet,” Spike said.
“I know,” Xander said and turned to Jim. “You won’t be able to help, they have to do this alone.”
Jim took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he attempted to resign himself to Blair being claimed by Spike. “I know the drill,” he said in a clipped military style, his fists clenching and unclenching.
“You don’t have to watch this,” Xander said. “We can go to the cafeteria or another room and I’ll hold you if you like.”
“I’m not leaving this room,” Jim said through clenched teeth, and then calmed himself. “Holding me would be good. I think I need a guide’s touch.”
Xander reached out and began stroking the distraught sentinel. “We’ll sit over here,” he said as he took Jim’s hand and led him toward the nest wall.
Jim’s eyes never left Spike and Blair as he slid himself into a sitting position against the wall. He watched as Spike began to suckle and Blair’s pheromones filled the air. He gave a soft moan as the sentinel call of ‘Guide!’ rose within him and his eyes turned to the dark blue black of a sentinel in thrall. Jim began to stand but Xander pulled him back.
“Whoa, big guy, you need to stay with me,” Xander said.
The sentinel looked at Xander, and then Xander realized it wasn’t Jim he was talking to but an ancient sentinel’s soul. “You’re not mine,” the sentinel said and once more tried to go to Blair.
“Do we have to have this conversation again? I am yours!” Xander put his hand over Jim’s heart and sent healing energy. “Feel it?”
The sentinel’s eyes opened wide as he looked at Xander and then at Blair and back to Xander. “I need my guide,” he said, as he lay Xander down on the nesting floor, nuzzled into Xander’s neck and began to suckle.
Spike was lost in a bonding thrall with a guide that was his but not his own. He touched and stroked Blair’s body, patterning it and committing the feel to memory. The hill and valley of each muscle was traced and with sentinel sensitive fingers and tongue. Each sound, breath, heartbeat, moan and word, were indelibly etched into the sentinel’s memory. Each taste and smell were cataloged and filed for instant recognition when future need arose.
And with each lick, smell, and touch Blair could feel the sentinel’s joy of bonding with a guide. Blair was awash with the feelings that bombarded him and sunk into his mind.
Spike took Blair’s cock into his mouth, and made love to it. He reveled in the feel of Blair’s jewels rolling over his tongue and the sound of pleasure that escaped as he returned to Blair’s cock to lick more pre-cum from the sensitive tip.
Spike slick fingers slipped into the guide reading him, and one word escaped from Blair’s lips, “Please.”
Spike crawled toward the Guide, his finger turned under, his eyes blue-black, his muscles taunt.
For a moment it was a golden cougar that crawled toward Blair and then it was Spike again, his pure sexual energy so beautiful that Blair gasped and his heart skipped a beat.
Spike kissed Blair as he stoked their cocks and coated them with lube, and then he got into position, put Blair’s legs on his shoulder and claimed his second guide.
Spike slid into Blair, body and mind. Emotions seemed to collapsed inward and explode outward at the same time. And with each stroke Spike became more a part of Blair until he cried out, “Sentinel,” and his seed burst from him.
And Spike answered the call, “Guide.”
Blair was glowing and at peace for the first time since Jim had bonded with Spike. He cuddled in Spike’s arms for a few minutes as Spike stroked and kissed him.
“You’re beautiful when you glow,” Spike said.
“And when I’m not glowing?” Blair asked teasingly.
“You’re beautiful then too.” Spike kissed Blair on the forehead. “I have to go to Xander now, Love.”
“And I need to get back to Jim. I’m surprised he’s not over here already.”
The pair got up and turned toward Jim and Xander. Xander lay with his back against the nest wall. Jim was holding him, protecting him with his body but both could see the unmistakable glow emanating from Xander.
“It’s only fair,” Blair whispered, when he felt the sudden cringe of emotions emanating from Spike. “You claimed me.”
“You wanted me to claim you and your sentinel gave me permission,” Spike said.
He could hear Xander whisper, “Let me go to him.”
And Jim’s answer, “I’ll take care of it, Xan.”
Spike walked over to Jim. “Sauce for the goose, Jim?” he asked in a tone that was neither friendly nor confrontational. It was as if he were asking a stranger for the time.
“I needed him and he gave himself to me,” Jim said, without turning to face Spike and then he kissed Xander and stood up to look into Spike’s eyes. “If you have a problem with that, you have it with me, not with the guide.”
Xander got up and started to walk toward Spike. Jim put his arm out and stopped him.
“Spike said he’d be proud of me if you ever needed me and I could help,” Xander said to Jim. “He’d never hurt me. He’s my sentinel, let me go to him.”
Jim put his arm down and Xander walked into Spike’s embrace.
“Are you okay, Pet?” Spike asked.
“Ummm,” Xander said as he laid his head on Spike’s shoulder.
Spike took Xander’ head in both hands and looked into his eyes, “Xan,” he asked in a soft but firm voice. “Are…you…okay?”
Xander understood what he was asking, “It wasn’t ugly, Spike, he didn’t force me and he didn’t hurt me.”
Spike pulled Xander back into his embrace. “I’m proud of you, Pet,” Spike said with a smile and then he looked up at Jim. “He’s not like other guides,” he said.
“No, he’s not,” Jim said. “He’s astounding.”
Ethan Rayne had everything arranged. Monday was a go. The lucky thing was he would not have to leave the country, but the military refused to reveal their exact plans to Rayne. A black ops team from the U.S. Milatary would take care of everything. And he had full lab facilities available, all he had to do was supply the research scientist, himself included, and the notes on the progress he had made so far. In less than twenty-four hours Xander would be his, and this time there would be no interference and no escape.
Monday morning the detectives were working on the guide abuse case when a call came in that there was a silent alarm at The National Savings Bank on Main Street. The guides were told to wait at the station where they would be safe from a possible shootout while all the sentinels and several uniformed officers sped to the bank.
The black ops team entered the building as soon as it emptied out. They carried Theta brainwave blockers to impede Xander’s hazard detection and dart guns that would knock out anyone still in the building as well as erase memory for up to ten minutes before they were attacked. The operation went smoothly. All the guides were together and Xander never sensed them coming. The guides were tranquilized and Xander was carried out of the building and put into a van, the team got away without incident.
When the sentinels got to the bank they found it was a false alarm. Spike sensed that something was wrong and cursed himself for not keeping his guide close by. He and Jim started back to the station immediately. A traffic accident, arranged by the black ops team, had backed up traffic and the sentinels had to go several blocks out of their way to get around it. When they got back to the station they found chaos. Jim and Spike didn’t wait to see what happened, they ran to their guides.
The smell of drugs was everywhere. Tara and Blair had just woken up and were attending to Rafe when the sentinels arrived.
“Where’s Xander,” Spike asked with barely contained rage.
“I don’t know,” Tara said, “I was the first to wake up and he wasn’t here.”
“What happened?” Blair asked.
“They took Xander,” Spike growled and hurried away.
Jim and Blair followed. “Where are you going?” Jim asked.
“To get him,” Spike said.
“We don’t know where to look,” Jim said.
They had reached the sidewalk and Spike stopped. Blair felt relieved that Jim had managed to keep Spike from going rogue. Spike shook out his arms, closed his eyes, took a deep breath and slowly let it out. “This way,” Spike said, when he opened his eyes and then he started walking.
“I don’t smell him,” Jim said and grabbed Spike’s arm.
When Spike turned to face Jim his eyes were ablaze with yellow fire.
“What the hell?” Blair said.
‘Ell is what they asked for; ‘ell is what they’re gona’ get,” Spike said with an English accent. “I don’t ‘ave to smell him; if ‘e’s anywhere on this sodden planet I’ll find ‘im” Spike started walking again.
“Stay with him,” Jim said to Blair, “I’ll get the truck.”
“Spike wait,” Blair said when he caught up with Spike. “Jim will come with the truck and we’ll look together.”
Spike stopped and nodded his agreement.
“Um, you’re eyes are yellow. I’ve never seen a sentinel’s eyes turn yellow, darken to nearly black, but never yellow.”
“The buggers took Xan,” Spike said, as if that explained everything.
“And you’re talking with an English accent.”
Spike turned and looked into Blair’s eyes, “You have a problem with that, Luv?”
“I’m just wondering if I’m still talking to Sentinel Detective William Spikeman?”
Jim drove up and the two men got in. “Take the highway, west, toward the abandoned army base,” Spike said
Blair wasn’t about to let his question go unanswered. “Are you William Spikeman?” he asked again.
“You won’t believe me if I told you.”
“We know you’re different,” Blair said. “We’re both bonded to you. You can tell us anything.”
“I’m Spike,” he said, resigned to the fact that Blair wouldn’t just let the matter drop. “Also known, in my last life, as William the Bloody. I choose to come here, to be a sentinel. I told her I wanted to keep all my mystical abilities, to do that, she had to make the demon a part of me. But she couldn’t wipe the memories from the demon so sometimes I remember.”
“Demon?” Jim asked. “You’re telling us you’re part demon?”
“Told ya’, ya’ wouldn’t believe me.”
“I believe you,” Blair said.
“You can’t lie to me, Luv,” Spike said, “I claimed you as my own.”
“Well it is kind of hard to accept,” Blair said, sorry he attempted to lie.
Spike took his eyes from the road and looked at Blair. “Then why are my eyes yellow, Luv?”
“He’s telling us the truth, Chief,” Jim said. “I saw him kill the hit man in the parking garage. He’s faster and stronger than he should be and we both sense an other worldliness about him.”
“Spike’s no demon, Jim, he’s a healer. A meta-physical being… that I can believe, but he’s no demon.”
Spike laughed at the irony of Blair’s words. “Okay, Luv, meta-physical being it is then.”
“It was you that came out at the nesting room while we were healing Xander, wasn’t it?” Blair asked.
“That was me, Luv.”
“But you’re eyes weren’t yellow then.”
“Didn’t want to kill anyone then,” Spike hissed.
Blair shivered from the venom he heard in Spike’s voice. “And you do now?”
“My kind don’t tolerate anyone taking what’s ‘rs; most won’t admit it but we ‘ave a strong sense of family. ‘Urt what’s mine and ya’ won’t live long enough t’ regret it.”
Spike looked over at Jim. “Get off at the next exit and turn north,” he said in a tone that made it clear he expected to be obeyed.
Jim didn’t know how Spike was tracking Xander but he had no doubt that when they got to where ever they were going Xander would be there.
When they got to the abandoned army base, Spike told Jim to park off road behind a stand of trees. Jim got binoculars, 2 flak jackets, an assault rifle and a couple of Bowie knifes from the locked toolbox in the back of his truck. Spike went to get a closer look at the buildings as Jim assembled the rifle and put on his jacket.
“You’re staying here, Chief,” Jim said.
“Oh come on, Jim, you may need me,” Blair moaned. “What if Xander is hurt, you may need a healer.”
“Jim’s right, Luv,” Spike said when he returned from his recon. “These guys won’t ‘esitate to use you against us. We’re safer with you ‘ere. Give me your word you’ll stay with the truck.”
Blair sighed. “Okay, Ill stay with the truck.”
“Good, then in you go.”
Blair got into the truck and before he knew what was happening Spike handcuffed him to the steering wheel.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Blair asked as he tugged at the cuffs.
“I told you, Luv, you can’t lie to me. Best you drive back to Cascade.”
“No way I’m leaving the two of you here by yourselves.”
Spike ignored Blair as he took the bulletproof vest from Jim and put it on.
Blair attempted an appeal to the head of the pack. “Jim?”
Jim looked at his guide and shook his head no. “Drive back to Cascade, Chief, and let Simon know where we are,” he said. The two sentinels strapped the knives onto their ankles and then they were gone.
Blair waited about two and a half minutes to make sure the sentinels were far enough away before reaching for the handcuff key he kept hidden under the passenger’s seat. He had hid it there shortly after bonding with Jim. Jim had threatened to cuff him to the truck if he didn’t stay put ‘this time’, after Blair had disobeyed him and left the truck during a convenience store robbery. Jim never made good on the threat, so he never knew the key was there. It wasn’t easy reaching it. He had to take off his belt, loop it, and pull the key within reach. The whole thing took a bit of time but in the end Blair was free. “Crazy sentinels,” he muttered under his breath. “Haven’t you ever heard of cell phones?” Blair took out his cell and called Simon for backup. By then Jim and Spike had taken out two of the three guards patrolling the area.
Sentinel General Henry Gideon had been hand chosen to oversee the operation. The promise of highly reliable hazard detection becoming part of a sentinel’s hyper-senses was too valuable a possibility to pass up. He had lost his guide during a black ops mission due to an undetected booby trap. Reliable hazard detection would have avoided his guide's untimely death. But he didn’t quite trust Ethan Rayne. Kidnapping a bonded guide, even one unfit to bond, was a major dereliction of Sentinel protocol. He justified his part in the operation by telling himself that having no guide was better than having an unfit guide and the sentinel, an ex high school English teacher, must be unfit himself to chase down an unfit guide.
The General believed the operation needed to be overseen by someone who could keep Rayne in line and understood both sentinel and guide’s needs. He knew of the accusations of abuse that Rayne had been charged with and he was determined that no such abuse would take place under his watch. He would allow Rayne to extract DNA from the boy (the general could not bring himself to call Xander a guide, or a man, due to his unfit status), but he would make sure the boy was well cared for.
Xander had been kept sedated for the ride to the base. Now he was strapped to an exam table and Rayne was giving him a shot to wake him up. The General had insisted on being present, Rayne was not happy about having ‘the tight assed bastard’, in the room but he figured if he didn’t argue in the beginning the General would lose interest soon enough and he would have the whelp to himself.
Xander struggled to wake up; he opened his eyes, looked into the face of Ethan Rayne.
And laughed. “You are soooo dead,” he said.
Ethan slapped Xander hard across the face.
The General grabbed Ethan’s arm. “You will not strike the boy again,” he hissed.
“Yeah, that’ll work,” Xander said, with a roll of his eyes. “You’re a sentinel, I can feel it. What are you doing, helping him kidnap a bonded guide?”
“You may be bonded to a sentinel,” the General said with disgust, “but you’re no guide. You’re unfit and the school teacher that choose you is better off without you.”
“I’m not unfit!” Xander growled. “Ethan Rayne, had me declared unfit so he could get away with using me, he’s manipulating you. When Spike gets here you are going to have one mega pissed-off sentinel to deal with.”
“Your sentinel won’t be coming,” the General said. “I know how to thwart a sentinel’s hyper-senses. You were in a specially designed compartment for transport here. A sentinel can’t track what he can’t sense.”
“He will come,” Xander said.
A sergeant came into the room and handed the General a note telling him what they had intercepted on their cell phone scanner. General Gideon’s face turned red with anger as he read what it had to say. “How did this happen?” he asked the Sergeant.
“General, Sir, I don’t know, Sir,” was the clipped reply.
“Stay with the boy, Sergeant, Rayne, you come with me.”
Rayne didn’t like taking orders, this was supposed to be his operation, now that Xander was in custody. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s going on.”
“They’re here,” Xander said. “That’s what’s going on. So put your head between your legs and kiss you ass goodbye, Rayne.”
Rayne advanced on Xander and lifted his arm to slap him again. The General grabbed Rayne and twisted his arm behind his back. “I told you not to strike the boy, he may be unfit but he is still a guide and you’re no sentinel.” The General shoved Rayne toward the door as he left orders for the sergeant. “Guard the boy, no one gets in here without me being present. That includes medical staff. Shoot to kill if you have too.”
The General shoved Rayne out the door and down the corridor while he screamed for his Lieutenant. “Take six of your men and find the intruders. Bring them back here for questioning. I want to know how the fuck they found us.”
“We should get out of here,” Rayne said. “Take Harris and the medical staff and get out of Dodge.”
“I’m not running,” the General growled. “We have fifteen men here and counting myself, eight of them are sentinels. They are the best the Army has to offer. We’ll capture the intruders.”
“And then what?” Rayne asked. “One of those intruders is bonded to the brat and the other one is his pack leader. They’ll want him back.”
“If I can’t reason with them, I’ll keep them in custody. I need to know how they tracked us.”
Spike stiffened. “Bloody hell!” he whispered. “Blair’s loose and they know we’re here, they’re hunting us.”
“Do they have Blair?” Jim growled, not caring how Spike knew Blair was loose.
“Not yet,” Spike said. “He’s this way. Let’s go”
Blair found a flaw in his plan. He had made it across the open space and was at the group of buildings but he had no way of knowing which way Jim and Spike had gone. He decided to go right since that afforded him the most cover and he called out softly to Jim as he crept along; he knew only a sentinel would be able to hear him. Then he felt the sting in his neck, when for the second time that day, he was hit with a dart. He managed to knock on the building twice as he lost conciseness, he only hoped his sentinels would hear.
Blair awoke to find himself in a room with a sergeant, who Blair’s empathic sense told him was a guide, a high-ranking sentinel, and Ethan Rayne.
“Hello guide,” the general said. “I am surprised that you caught up with us so soon.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself, Sentinel,” Blair said. “Ethan Rayne is despicable.
He’s tortured Xander and had at least three people associated with the guide school murdered. He had Director Booker declare Xander unfit. He’s a psychotic murderer.”
“Those are harsh accusations, Guide. Why should I believe you? From my point of view Xander Harris is unfit. He’s been bonded to his sentinel for 8 days and almost half that time has been spent in the Guide Hospital, surely a guide that needs that much healing in such a short time is far from fit for duty as a guide.”
“And why do you assume that Xander was the one being healed? Xander is a healer guide. Did it ever enter your mind he was the one doing the healing? I demand that you put Ethan Rayne under arrest for Guide abuse.”
“This is ridiculous,” Rayne said. “He is obviously lying to save himself, it won’t work this time, Sandburg. No one is going to listen to your lies.”
“Arrest Ethan Rayne and call this off, General,” Blair said using his guide command voice, “before more of your men are killed.”
The General dialed up his sense of smell and sniffed the air. The guide didn’t smell like he was lying and he could always sense when a guide was telling a lie. It had a subtle scent like milk, not gone sour, but no longer fresh either. One thing was for sure, he didn’t trust Rayne, the man set off his ‘red alert’ sirens. He decided he had better check on the sentinel’s that were patrolling his perimeter. He sent the Sergeant out to get a report and then turned back to Blair. The General dialed up all his senses and began to compare what he had read about the guide in his mission report to what he could sense coming from the him. Blair was bonded to the pack leader in the Cascade Police Department. He was extremely intelligent and well trusted by his superiors. The General evaluated his sentinel input and decided that Blair was a highly superior guide.
He had kept his senses dialed low when he was in the room with the Harris boy. He simply didn’t want the sour taste that evaluating an unfit guide would leave behind. The General decided he would have to take a closer look at Xander Harris. If what Guide Blair was saying were true, and the General believed it was, Ethan Rayne would have to be removed from this operation. There were others that could extract the genetic component of hazard detection from the Harris boy.
But right now there was one other question that needed to be answered. “How did you find us so quickly?” the General asked.
“We tracked you,” Blair said.
“How? Using what sense?”
“Sorry I’m not answering anymore questions until Rayne is in custody and I can talk to Xander.”
The Sergeant came back into the room and whispered to the General. “There are five sentinels unaccounted for General.
The General looked at Blair, “I’ll bring Xander to this room. If what you say is true I’ll arrest Rayne and call off the mission.”
“It’s true,” Blair said.
“General, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity here,” Rayne said.
“Shut-up Rayne,” the General growled and then he turned to the Sergeant. “Hold them here. If Rayne tries to touch the guide or leave, shoot him.”
The General left the room and ordered his remaining men, mostly guides, to use delaying tactics on the two approaching sentinels. “These men are sentinel’s,” he said. “They will not willingly hurt a guide. I need as much time as you can give me to interrogate the detainee. Do what ever you have to, just get me the time I need.”
The General had been unable to dial his senses back down after evaluating Blair. He had been using the guides in his squad to keep him stable but that was a temporary measure and the need for a guide of his own had been steadily increasing. The stress of this operation had catapulted that need into a nagging demand. When the General got to Xander’s room he had one question to ask. “Is it true that Ethan Rayne tortured you while you were in Guide School?” he asked.
“Why should I answer you,” Xander said, “you won’t believe me.”
The General leaned down and sniffed Xander’s neck. He ran all the subtle smells through his mind, evaluating each. He prided himself on his ability to evaluate a guide. He judged his sentinels on the guides they chose. He knew now that Blair was telling the truth. Xander Harris was not unfit. He was, in fact, a highly superior guide.
The General stood up and looked at the sergeant that had been guarding Xander. “You can go to your sentinel now.” The sergeant nodded and left. The General turned back to Xander bent down and licked his guide spot.
The smell of fear flooded the small room. “It’s all right guide,” the General said. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Xander looked into the General’s eyes and saw the dark blue of a sentinel in a bonding thrall.
“Henry,” Xander said in his best commanding voice. “I am a claimed and bonded guide. Unless you want to find yourself on the losing side of a fight to the death you should stop this behavior, now.”
The General drew his dart gun and aimed it at Xander. “You deserve better then an ex-schoolteacher,” he said, and then he shot ‘his’ guide.
Spike and Jim were almost to the building where Blair and Xander were being held when they saw a group of men exit the building and take up defensive positions. They could smell that almost all of them were guides. A firefight broke out as the only sentinel in the group saw Spike and Jim’s attempt to out flank them.
The General un-strapped the unconscious Xander from the gurney and carried him down the hall to an exit away from the firefight. He took Xander outside and across an open area to a chopper where he strapped him into a rear seat and then took the pilot’s chair. He knew that his getaway depended on his men delaying the sentinels long enough for the choppers engines to get up to speed for takeoff. He went through the pre-flight checklist turning on each gauge but saving the engines for last. When he everything was checked out he flipped a switch and the chopper’s engines whirled to life.
Spike and Jim both heard the engines turn on. Spike knew that Xander was on the chopper. He couldn’t wait any longer. “Cover me,” he ordered Jim, and then he ran in the direction of the sound. He came within sight of the chopper just as it was lifting off from the ground. Spike launched himself at the rising copter. He missed by a fraction of an inch. When he hit the ground again he gave a blood-curdling roar. Every guide and sentinel that heard it shivered as one word echoed through the deserted Army Base. “MINE!”