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.
Jim, Blair, Spike and Xander sat on the couch listening to the news report. None were happy with what the Washington, D.C., correspondent had to say.
“Can we expect a presidential veto?” the news anchor asked, his concern evident.
The correspondent answered in an appropriately serious tone. “No Bob, I’m afraid not. Even if the president did veto the law, the senate has the votes to override.”
“This law takes away the reproductive rights of both guides and sentinels, Anna,” the anchorman said. “Have there been any rumors of a constitutional challenge or protests being organized?”
“None, Bob,” the correspondent said. “As you know, any citizen with an empathic rating of 4 or above is drafted into the Guide Corps. They are required by law to go to Guide basic training schools. When they turn 21 years of age a sentinel has the right to choose from any one of them as his guide. The guides only right of refusal are due to chronic or terminal illness. It was hoped that the Guide draft would increase the number of guides available for bonding, but the numbers have continued to drop precipitously. We are in a crisis situation; even starting today it will take 22 years to stop the decline of available guides. Voluntary reproduction has not worked. I have talked to people on the street and they are in full support of the new laws. Sentinels are an intricate part of our law enforcement and our armed services. Loosing them is unthinkable. It would put our entire nation at risk.”
“Thank you, Anna,” Bob said solemnly, his blue eyes grave.
Blair turned off the TV. It was all so carefully orchestrated. The majority of Americans would believe the lie and support the new laws.
“Are you all right Xander?” Spike asked, his concern filling his voice.
“I’m okay,” Xander said, as he cuddled in even closer to Spike. “It’s not like we didn’t know it was coming.”
Blair moved in closer to Jim “So what do we do now?” Blair asked, as he stroked his sentinel’s chest and laid his riotously curly head on Jim’s shoulder. He felt helpless.
What could they do, a small group of grass roots sentinels and guides against a powerful government willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to win the peoples hearts and minds?
“Organize resistance,” Jim said, his certainly was absolute.
“But how much of this is true? Is there really a guide shortage?” Blair asked. “If there isn’t and we can prove it to the public we can convince them they are being used and manipulated and get them behind the resistance.”
“That part is true, the ratio of sentinels to guides has been dropping since we figured out how to trigger sentinels instead of letting nature chose who would trigger and when. Any man who joins the armed service and carries the gene is triggered as soon as he reaches the age of 25; it is a matter of course. More sentinels means more guides are taken out of the general population, less are left to procreate. I haven’t seen statistics but it makes sense that the guide birthrate is dropping. Nature never meant for there to be so many active sentinels.”
“Then how do we form a resistance knowing that, in the future, there will be sentinels without guides?” Xander asked. “Are the people doing this, taking away our right to procreate as we see fit, are they actually right? Are we wrong?” Xander hated the doubt in his own voice.
“The answer isn’t to take away our reproductive rights,” Spike said firmly while running a comforting hand down his guide’s back. “The government needs to stop artificial triggering of sentinels. That will stabilize the population naturally.”
“But they won’t do that,” Blair said. “They are creating an artificial crisis and using it to hide their true agenda of developing a super sentinel and probably a super guide to go with it. They want as large a gene pool as possible to choose from.” He looked around at the men he called family, “and they want to control us.”
“So we have a decision to make,” Jim said. “Will our resistance be public or covert?”
“I don’t think the government will tolerate public resistance,” Blair said. “I think we have to be covert.” It would be a long, difficult battle, but it was the best avenue open to them. They would pretend to comply but resist to the utmost.
“I agree,” Spike said. “Besides it isn’t only the public laws we’re against; it’s the hidden agenda that is the biggest threat to us. Someday they are going to want to put behavior modification chips in our heads and turn us into their trained monkeys.” To Jim and Blair, Spike’s words sounded like a bitter joke, but Xander knew just how serious Spike was.
Peter stood frozen, staring at the letter, trying to comprehend the words while Wesley stroked his arm and made soothing sounds. He felt as if he were encased in glass with nothing quite touching his numb skin.
“What is it?” Riley asked, feeling the tension that filled the room. He hurried to Graham’s side.
Graham had his own letter from the agency. “It’s a summons, it says that Wesley is being called to account for being incompetent and gives a date for a hearing.”
“I thought that that was all taken care of with the cross bond,” Riley said. “They can’t strip Wes from both of you can they?” Riley looked as worried as the two sentinels. In the short time they had been a pack he had come to value Wesley’s friendship. Wesley was an alpha guide but he accepted Riley’s need to be subordinate to his sentinel. He never judged Riley’s delight in sinking to his knees or his lack of hesitation when presenting himself for punishment.
“Harris must not realize we’ve cross bonded,” Graham said. “If he knew he would never have risked his charges being overruled.” Graham knew that Harris didn’t have nearly enough juice to publicly override his claim of Peter as his second and his cross-bond with Wesley. Some assistant’s head would surely roll over the oversight; or Harris has friends in high places that were willing to indulge his whims. The last thought made him shiver and he pushed it away. Surely no sentinel would go along with stripping a sentinel from his guide.
“You registered the cross bond, didn’t you?” Peter asked, not able to keep the fear of losing Wesley out of his voice. His fingers tightened on the rolled paper, crumpling it.
“It’s properly registered,” Graham said, “and we have Jim and Spike as witnesses, not to mention all the sentinels at the agency that picked up my scent on Wesley.” Graham looked at the letter with disdain and tossed it on the table and then he walked over and pulled Peter and Wesley into a hug. “There’s no way for the tribunal to keep me from testifying in Wesley’s behalf. And not only do they have to have evidence that Wesley is incompetent, they have to have a mind walker guide that can break a bond with minimal risk of brain damage to the guide.”
The mind walker scowled at the computer screen. She didn’t like what she read. Both Sentinel Peter Wall and Guide Wesley Price were healthy, and there was another sentinel involved in the bond, Sentinel Captain Graham Miller. Her eyes widened when she read Miller’s sentinel record. He came from a long line of well-respected sentinels and was only one step down from Byron Harris in rank, not a man to be trifled with. This was not looking good.
Always before, when she had been ordered to strip a sentinel of his bond, one of the pair had been very ill, either in a coma or terminal. She would have to refuse to do the sundering, but she knew that that meant punishment. She sighed knowing that whatever they did to her would be far less painful then the consequences of complying with their order. Still, there was always the hope that the tribunal would overrule the Alpha Prime’s accusations and disallow removal of Guide Wesley Price. She decided to see who the Tribunal Judges would be. Her heart started pounding as she read about them and their guides. Like sentinel Harris all three were old school sentinels with long term bonds to guides with an empathic rating lower then 4. According to law they had to have a yearly evaluation of their emotional health. They all had the evaluations on record but they were signed by another sentinel, not by a medical doctor. Not a good sign at all. Her empathic sense told her that Guide Wesley Price was being railroaded. Something was going on and it was something she wanted no part of.
She made a decision. Three years ago a newly promoted General had told her if she ever needed anything to call him. She had never called in that favor but the General had kept in touch over the years; sending her a card every time his phone number changed or he was moved for reassignment. Now he had climbed in rank to a three star general and was assigned to Washington, D.C., as head of the NCSIA, The National Coalition of Sentinel Internal Affairs. She took a deep breath, picked up the phone and dialed.
“General Gibbs’ residence, Guide DiNozzo speaking.” She was startled by the live voice; she had expected she would have to leave a message.
“Hello this is guide 915, may I speak with the General, please.”
“Um, yeah, that’s what the General calls me, Red. May I speak with him?” She was surprised that Tony would remember her after such a long time. But then maybe he was the one that sent out the cards.
“What’s wrong, Red? Are you okay?”
“It’s sentinel business, I need to talk to the General.”
“What’s going on, DiNozzo?” Gibbs said, annoyed at his guide’s delay. “Supper is getting cold.”
“It’s Red, she says she needs to talk to you. I can feel the stress coming out of the phone.”
Jethro gave Tony a light slap on the back of the head. “Then…give me…the phone.”
Tony handed over the phone.
“Hello, Sentinel Gibbs.”
“No time for the small talk, Red, get to the point.”
“I’ve been ordered to perform a sundering of a perfectly healthy guide from two perfectly healthy sentinels. The guide is a level 7.8. I am going to refuse. I think the guide and the sentinels are being set up.”
“You say this guide is bonded to two sentinels?”
“Yes, sir, and they are both registered as alphas.”
“Unusual, and improbable,” Gibbs said, trying to figure out why two sentinels would share a guide. The guide shortage could not be any worse in Cascade then it was in any other part of the country or he would have known about it. “Why the order, did the Alphas try to kill each other over the guide?”
“No, sir, both sentinels want to continue the bond, but the guide has been accused of incompetence by the Alpha Prime. These are Sentinels and Guides with exemplary records, General. I can’t believe that a healthy guide has suddenly become incompetent.”
“I need more than your belief and your empathic sense if I’m to intervene here, Red.”
“The Alpha Prime making the charges has a Guide with a rating under 4 and all three of the tribunal judges have guides with ratings under 4. Two I could see as a co-incidence but four sentinels with low functioning guides on the same case…”
“I don’t believe in co-incidence,” Gibbs said, beginning to see Red’s point. “When was their last medical exam?”
“I don’t know,” Red said. “They have been signed off as emotionally fit by other sentinels not by a physician.”
“I’m on my way, Red. I owe you another one for this.” Gibbs hung up the phone and called to his guide. “You have twenty minutes to get us packed. We’re going to Cascade.”
The mind walker looked at the dead phone in her hand and wondered how things had gotten turned around from asking for a favor to doing one. She shrugged and hung up. She had done all that she could and there were other things for her to worry about.
She had already gotten notice that the sundering would be her last act as a healer. She had been transferred to the new “Guide Proliferation Division” of the agency. She was to become a breeder. It made her shudder; not the having babies part, that she would welcome if that had been all there was to it, but she knew it would go further than that. She was a double X guide, a level 9.9 empathic and she saw things that other people couldn’t see. She saw people as they truly were and the people in power lately were not people she would want to raise children. They were hard, cold, and above all else, arrogant in their surety that power made right and any means to an end was a valid lifestyle. She decided to meditate on the matter. She hoped she could get in touch with the sprit guide, Incacha. He had been coming to her a lot lately. He told her she would re-united with her soul mate, the one that had been taken from her too soon in her last life. She wasn’t sure she could believe that. But she was sure she would not give these arrogant bastards her children to use as guinea pigs. If all else failed she would simply shut down and die. But that was a last resort. Her first choice was to fight. It was fate that landed her in Cascade, the Western US center for guides and sentinels, she was sure of it. If there were a resistance she would sense it and she knew they could use someone of her capabilities.
Peter, Graham, Wesley and Riley waited in the hallway of The Sentinel Court Building. They had been there less then five minutes when the rest of their hive members arrived.
Peter, unwilling to let go of Wesley, pulled him along with him as he fell into a hug with Spike. “I want to kill them,” Peter whispered into his sire’s ear.
“The tribunal will do the right thing and over rule the Alpha Prime,” Spike said. “I see you’re both wearing Graham’s scent. That’s good. Harris won’t be able to argue that the cross bonding was nothing but paperwork.”
Graham walked over to the group. “They will be starting in a few minutes, we need to go in and take our seats.”
A guard stopped the group at the courtroom door. “I’m sorry but only the sentinel and guide named in the report and those who may be called as witnesses may enter. If you wish to see the proceedings they will be telecast over The Sentinel/Guide News Network.”
Graham scowled at the guard. “I am Sentinel Graham Miller and this is my second, Sentinel Peter Wall, it is our guide, Wesley Price, that is named in the summons. These are our brothers, Sentinel James Ellison and Sentinel William Spikeman and their guides, Blair and Xander. They may be called as witnesses to Wesley’s competency.”
“All right, you may enter,” the guard said, “but seating is limited and any other witnesses will have to wait in the hall way before being called.”
“That will be fine,” Graham said, knowing that they had no other witnesses.
The courtroom was small and smelled of old wood and polish. A large portion, the two back rows, was taken up with television cameras and their crew. Usually Sentinel Tribunals were kept private; Graham hadn’t expected television cameras, they were a doubled edged sword. Who they would benefit was entirely up to the point of view of the observer and the spin the newscaster would give the proceedings. Graham’s stomach churned. There was do doubt in his mind that the correspondents had been ordered to put Wesley in the worst light possible.
Peter, Graham and Wesley sat at the defendant’s table with Wesley in the middle, the rest of the group sat behind them in the first row.
There was a small flurry of activity as a guide, absent his sentinel, entered the courtroom and walked over to the defendant’s table.
“Hey, Graham,” he said with a broad smile.
“Tony, what are you doing here? Graham asked, confused by the guide’s sudden appearance. “Where’s Gibbs?”
“He’ll be in in a minute,” Tony said, as he entered the first row of seating and sat between Blair and Xander.
“So Graham,” Tony said as he wiggled his eyebrows like Grocho Marx, “Riley wasn’t man enough for you, hummm?”
“All rise,” the bailiff called out before Graham could answer.