Author: Joan Z and Neichen
Summary: Xander has been rescued from his kidnappers, but an overdose of a memory-erasing drug has destroyed part of the mental pathways he used as a guide. The four men struggle to make the cross bonding work while trying to heal Xander.
The group suspects that Xander is still in danger from who ever shot down the
Warnings: Group sex, a four-way relationship, Hurt/comfort, explicit M/M sex
Acknowledgments: Thanks to my beta Kerensa and to Neichen for her encouragement.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I am only keeping the fandom alive in our hearts.
Sentinel Prime Captain Graham Miller sat in his car, two houses from Jim Ellison’s home address. His guide, Riley Finn, seated patiently beside him, still glowing from being scent marked before they left their home.
The sweet scent of his own smell mixed with Finn’s soothed Miller. They were about to go into a very alpha sentinel’s personal territory, never a relaxing proposition, not even if he’d been invited. There were protocols to observe and the inevitable recognition of dominance that couldn’t be determined until they were face to face. All in all, an awful lot of trouble to go through. It would be far simpler to just stay away.
“I don’t know why I agreed to come here,” Graham said to his guide. “This cross bonding just doesn’t make any sense to me.”
The idea made Graham’s skin crawl. He didn’t want anyone sharing his Guide. He couldn’t come up with a better reason to pull his gun and shoot someone. Just the thought of another Sentinel’s hand on his sweet Riley would do it for him, throw him into a killing rage. So he had no idea what he was doing outside Ellison’s home. Except he was so damn curious, he wanted to know, needed to know, WHY?
“You agreed because you have been trying to gather evidence to have Byron Harris removed for over a year. You finally have a chance to get a well respected sentinel on your side,” Riley pointed out. He couldn’t help but be aware of Graham’s unease. The tension racing through the sentinel was palpable, as if he were preparing for battle, not a meeting of friendly Sentinels and their Guides.
“I don’t know how much respect he has left with this cross-bonding shit. Having a pack is one thing; it is normal sentinel behavior and choosing a second is not uncommon in the Agency or with sentinels that spend most of their time in the field, but for cops…” Graham shook his head, his hands tightened on the steering wheel as he spoke. “This cross bonding with guides isn’t normal.”
“Detectives,” Riley corrected.
Graham looked at him, frowning. “What?”
“They are detectives,” Riley said again, mildly. He reached out threading his finger through Graham’s on the wheel and loosening the iron grip.
“Not a lot of difference from my point of view,” Graham said, allowing the touch, though he was usually more reserved in public. “They go home at night. They don’t sleep in the field. And why would Ellison choose an ex-schoolteacher for his second? The only reason I can think of is to protect the guide. But he could have done that without claiming Spikeman.”
“So you’re going to turn down the cross-bonding with Wesley?” Riley asked, speaking low and feeling a strange wave of disappointment wash over him.
“No, I won’t make up my mind before we talk. I do think the negatives outweigh the positives in it. But Peter is worried about his guide. I can’t just turn him down. I have to at least give Peter an informed no, besides I am damn curious as to why Ellison did it. I’ve met Ellison and his guide. He would kill anyone that touched Blair without permission. I just can’t picture Ellison willingly sharing his guide.”
And that was the truth. Graham couldn’t figure out a scenario that would fit the facts. He had tried over and over and always came to the same dead end. It only made his need to know burn hotter. He tried again to picture what he knew to be true. He tried to picture Ellison, the ex-special forces sentinel standing by while another sentinel lay Blair on his back and entered him. But all he could picture was an Ellison in restraints; he laughed out loud at the thought of what it would take to get Ellison into them.
“Well we’re about to get our questions answered. Peter and Wesley just drove up,” Riley said, instead of asking about the laugh. He liked it too much to question it. Graham, his sentinel, didn’t find a lot to laugh about and each and every smile or laugh was precious to Riley Finn.
The laugh disappeared with a sigh as Graham got out of the car, determined to quell his curiosity and get some answers.
Jim saw Graham’s nostrils flare and the hackles on the back of his neck rise as soon as he stepped through the front door. “Graham, welcome,” Jim said, his face stoic but offering his hand to the career military sentinel. “It’s been awhile.”
“Yes, too long, Jim,” Graham said with an equally stoic expression as he shook Jim’s hand. He was busy cataloging the parts of the house he could see and the people in it. Riley, bless him, was staying firmly behind his Sentinel. Not further complicating the mix by making Graham worry about his safety before he had the situation scouted out. “I’m sorry it couldn’t have been under happier circumstances.”
Jim nodded agreement with Miller’s assessment of the mess they now found themselves embroiled in. “You know my Guide, Blair.” Blair stepped forward, smiling. But not far enough to move beyond the shelter of Ellison’s bulk. He stayed behind him, keeping his sentinel happy.
Graham nodded at the glowing guide but did not offer his hand. He sniffed and could smell that Blair had been scent marked by two sentinels. His hair rose further, it just… It made him nervous and he fought to keep his lips from peeling back and showing his teeth. Riley moved up in back of his sentinel. Gently and subtly as he could, he channeled off the stress his sentinel felt.
“And this is my claimed second, Sentinel William Spikeman, he goes by Spike.” Jim sounded proud as he introduced Spike.
With Riley plastered against his back, Graham managed to turn his head and look at the ex-schoolteacher and quickly sized him up. He was slimmer then most sentinels and barely six feet tall, not much bulk to speak of, almost guide-ish in appearance. If it weren’t for the square jaw and intense blue eyes he would have trouble believing he was a sentinel at all. Spike offered his hand and Graham took it. He immediately felt a very pleasant energy surge go through him. His nostrils flared as he took a deep breath and moved to shake Spike’s hand with both of his hands.
“Nice to meet you,” Spike said and then gave a small jerk as Sentinel Miller began to pattern Spike’s palm with his fingertips. His blue eyes widened and his made a strange ugg sound with his sudden intake of breath.
Xander felt the energy bump through his link with Spike. His nostril’s flared and his pupils dilated as he glared at the high-ranking sentinel. Xander pressed in against Spike’s back, much as Riley was doing, but this wasn’t subtle, it was overt, and his arms came around Spike like steel cables, anchoring them together. It was fine with Spike, he melted into the embrace, giving Xander as much comfort as he was able.
With more than a little effort, Spike pulled his hand away as he introduced Xander. As soon as Spike was free, Xander pulled them backward three steps. He made it clear that he wanted to keep a distance between them and the military pair that stood in their doorway.
If Graham had seen the pair from a distance he would have thought Xander Harris was the sentinel. He was bigger than Spike and with his unusually broad shoulders and thick dark hair he had the look of a Harris family sentinel. The aggressive body language was more sentinel than guide. Just as the melting quality of Spikeman’s posture as Harris embraced him was pure Guide. It was weird, and to Graham, standing in strange territory, weird was synonymous with dangerous.
“Why don’t we go into the living room,” Jim said, cutting through the building tension. “We can sit comfortably in there and have a beer while we talk.” ‘And give Blair a chance to work his calming magic and Spike a chance to get Xander under control,’ he thought.
Blair went into the kitchen to get the beer and Wesley and Riley followed to help, leaving the three sentinels and Xander in the living room. Xander glared at Miller who ignored the guide as he busied himself cataloging Spikeman.
Spike was wearing a tight black t-shirt that left his arms bare so that Xander could have the skin-to-skin contact that he needed. Graham could see that Spike’s relatively thin frame was all muscle. He watched Spike move across the living room one hand placed gently on his guide’s back. Graham’s eyes dilated as he evaluated Spike’s gate and listened to the soft pat of his bare feet on the hardwood floor, he didn’t move like a schoolteacher; he moved like a predator, Graham’s mouth began to water as he tasted the air Spike had walked through. The bare feet, a sign of submission to an Alpha sentinel, were surprisingly…stimulating. ‘This could be the man who put restraints on Ellison,’ he thought as he watched Spike move. Unconsciously his tongue flicked out to lick his lips.
Spike and Xander sat on one of the sofas. Xander curled up on Spike’s right with Spike’s arm around him. Xander pulled the arm across his chest and gently stroked it, his nostrils flared, as if he were scenting the air. Gaham’s brows shot up. ‘No it wasn’t possible,’ Graham thought. ‘Was it?’ The other sentinels in the room seemed not to notice the odd way the Harris kid was behaving. Graham grabbed for control. He was in another sentinel’s territory and he had to get a hold on himself and stop letting his mind play tricks on him.
Graham sat on Spike’s left. He thought he heard a low growl from Xander as he sat down but guides don’t growl so he categorized it as a stomach rumble. Thinking how funny it was that it sounded just like a territorial warning, one he had used himself more than once.
Spike knew his guide was capable of growling. “It’s okay, Pet,” Spike said, stroking Xander’s arm. “He’s not going to hurt you, he’s here to help.” Spike looked at Graham. “This is the first time since the kidnapping he’s been around a strange sentinel,” he explained.
Graham blinked. Spikeman was explaining as if…He stared at the dark brown eyes fastened on him from over Spikeman’s shoulder. As if the growl… No he had to be mistaken it wasn’t the growl Spike was referring to it was the glare and the intimate way Xander was holding and stroking his sentinel.
“Hey.” Graham looked up, startled that Ellison’s Guide had managed to sneak up on him. “A beer?” Blair asked.
Graham nodded and took the beer Blair offered, accepting a second one and after sniffing it, passed it over to Riley with a nod of permission to drink.
Blair handed Spike and Xander cokes. Xander wasn’t allowed alcohol since the overdose and Spike simply refuse all alcohol until Xander recovered. Blair went to sit on the other sofa with the other two guides. Jim and Peter sat in the two remaining living room chairs.
Jim looked at Graham. He knew the man well and decided there was no point in wasting time with small talk. “I understand you have some questions about the cross-bonding,”
Graham leaned forward on the sofa. He rested his elbows on his knees and held the brown beer bottle between his legs. “Mostly I want to know why you did it, Jim. You’re the last sentinel I could imagine sharing his guide. Now that I’ve met Spikeman I understand why you chose him for your second…”As he said Spike’s name, Graham placed one hand on Spike’s knee. His strong fingers were gentle as they cupped it seeking to feel the power of the man beneath the denim jeans.
Spike startled at the unexpected touch, he knew the reaction he caused in Alpha sentinels but none had ever been this brazen before. He could feel Xander’s muscles tighten when Graham touched him, but he wanted this man to help them. He was not happy about Graham’s behavior but he believed Graham was trying to figure out if he could trust him enough to align himself with Jim’s pack. Pushing Graham away was not an option, so he began to murmur soft soothing sounds to his guide.
Xander was even less happy about Graham’s behavior then Spike was and his big hand made its journey downward to lay itself over Spike’s crotch. Spike looked down at Xander’s hand, embarrassed at the intimacy of the touch in front of a strange sentinel but removing Xander’s hand was not an option. Xander was on the edge and Spike knew that he was probably lucky he wasn’t being stripped and claimed right now, company be damned.
“But, what I don’t understand,” Graham continued, unaware of Xander’s protective move, “is you cross-bonding with the guides and nesting with them.” Graham let his hand stroke Spike’s thigh as he sat back on the sofa. Xander gave a loud growl as he saw the sentinel’s hand move closer to Spike’s crotch and then he lunged for Graham.
Spike was faster and stood up, snatching Xander from what seemed like mid air. “He’s mine,” Xander screamed as he reached for the sentinel’s neck. Graham could feel the movement of the air against his skin as Xander’s fingers slipped past.
Jim and Blair were out of their seats in a flash.
‘Fast for a Guide, too fast,’ Graham thought as he stood up ready to defend himself, knowing it was impossible for the smaller man to hold onto the raging larger one. But somehow Spike did the impossible and held the struggling, angry, guide, then he got a glimpse of something else impossible just before Jim cut off his line of sight; Spike’s eyes had turned yellow.
“It’s okay, Luv,” Spike said in an English accent, “I’m yours, Luv, yours forever.”
Graham Miller stared, his mouth hanging open as the slim Sentinel picked up the larger, growling and thrashing Guide, with no more difficulty then picking up a gallon of milk and carried him off to the nesting room.
“He’s mine,” Xander screamed again over Spike’s shoulder, still clawing the air trying to get to the offending sentinel.
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