Author's Notes: The next story in this alternate universe where Pairs are known. ** signals a discussion being held in a language other than English. Warnings: AU, Semi-Angst, SIP (Series in Progress). Disclaimers: As before, as always, not mine. Just borrowed.

For a Male Guide 11a: Un-Fixed Assumptions - Class is in Session

by Jaye Daver aka Jayed (or vice versa)

EMAIL: Jayed

Inevitably the discussion at the Poker Party turned to the missing Sentinel. The various detectives had been looking forward to getting to know him a little better. Chen hadn't actually been with the department all that long, but he had made quite an impression. The idea that a Bonded Sentinel would be able to outdo what Chen had done had made the detectives anxious to convince him to join them.

His initial annoyance having turned to something resembling regret, Simon admitted that Jim had, in fact, come to the Party. Further, he admitted that the demolished spinach-artichoke dip and the good beer had been the contributions of said Sentinel. And his Guide.

This set off a further flurry of questions that Simon didn't really want to answer. Finally he was forced to admit that the two had left when he had made it clear that he hadn't expected Blair to come to the Party and hadn't actually made him all that welcome.

"Simon!" Joel exclaimed. "Why?"

"Because…because he's not…he's…he's Daryl's friend, not mine," Simon finally got out. "This was supposed to be a party for adults, and Blair's a …" Rafe and H stumbled over each other in their haste to interrupt. "He's a Bonded Guide," and "He's a college professor," were the beginning salvos, but then each man stopped and gestured to his partner to continue. Before either could, Wilmot filled in the space, "Well, Simon's right. He wasn't invited, and he's just a kid. Were we supposed to drink lemonade at this game?"

Joel turned his shock on Wilmot."So, what did you suppose Jim was going to do in Major Crimes? Was he gonna leave his Guide home when he went out to crime scenes? He gonna hire a babysitter and leave the kid at the house?" He looked around the table, seeing H and Rafe nod at him, but noting the incomprehension of the rest of the poker players. "Major Crimes is the department that handles Pair issues, and you don't even understand the simplest elements concerning Bonded Pairs. How did you think this was going to work?"

Simon sputtered angrily for a moment, "Joel, of course we know about Pairs."

"No, Simon," Joel said, sadly, "I think the whole department needs refresher." He looked around the table and sighed. "I think I'm going to call it a night." He gathered up his small winnings and, looking around the table once more, took his leave. Rafe and H said quick farewells and joined him, wanting to talk to him some more about the situation, wondering if it was salvageable. They honestly thought the department would be better off with a Pair, and they had liked Jim in their brief interactions.

Simon looked around the table at the remaining players, Wilmot, Megan, Jill, and Heinz. Although his original thoughts had matched Wilmot's, he suddenly realized that he now believed that Joel was correct. If he had been so out of touch in his reaction to Blair, and he was the Captain of the Unit, how could he expect his detectives to be better prepared to deal with this Pair or any Pair for that matter? Blair was young, but there were other, relatively, young Guides. Furthermore, he recalled one Guide who had been less than five feet tall. He couldn't let his men get away with disrespecting Guides for reasons that had nothing to do with their actual skills and connections to their Sentinels. He had, he now knew, done a rather foolish thing, even if he had been a little blind-sided; he had been the one to disrespect this Guide.

The next morning he asked Rhonda to set up an appointment with the Pair who had come from Seattle several years earlier to hold a training session. "Ask them to come back and give us a refresher. Actually, since Wilmot wasn't here then, it's probably just as well."

Rhonda set up the appointment and when she knocked on Simon's door to give him the information, she couldn't help but ask. Sighing heavily, her boss was forced to admit that he had been rude to Blair, somewhat unintentionally. Although he could see that she clearly wanted to ask him what that meant, she showed her usual intuition and good sense in dealing with her often temperamental boss and let it go. She'd sit in on the session and get some answers that way. As secretary to Major Crimes, she, too, needed to understand the various elements of Pair issues.

They'd been in luck. A cancellation had opened up a spot just a few days later. All of Major Crimes, plus interested parties from several other divisions, gathered in the PD auditorium. At 9 sharp the door opened, and a large man entered the room. His carriage and the buzzcut hair hinted at his previous military service. Following him, almost dwarfed by his bulk, was a casually dressed woman with café au lait skin and ebony hair hanging in a braid to her knees. Her left hand rested on the man's side, and she was speaking softly to him. He nodded once, smiling at her, and then he turned to the room.

"I'm Samuel Greenberg, Sentinel. This is Athena Wyse, my Guide. In case you wandered in here by mistake, we're the folks your PD asked to come and speak about Pair issues. We were here a few years ago, so I'm guessing that this is partly a refresher for some of you and partly a lot of new information for others. We'll go with the longer version, then, as I don't think it will hurt. We can get through our materials by about noon, break for lunch, and spend the afternoon in questions. Okay?" He looked up, accepting the nods of the various participants.

"First, I've been informed that Major Crimes will shortly have a Pair serving here. Is that correct? Why aren't they here?"

Simon Banks felt himself blushing, thanking his dark skin until he realized that Greenberg would be able to see it, dark or not. "I'm Captain Simon Banks. We had a young man who was an unBonded Sentinel for a short time until he recently found his Guide and went to join the FBI. Jim Ellison, a Cascade-born Sentinel, was looking at Major Crimes as a possible job opportunity, but there's nothing that definite in the works."

He paused, wondering if this was the right moment to bring up the problem. Sighing, he accepted that it probably was. "Well, he was. A couple of nights ago, I invited Ellison to the departmental poker game so that he could meet his potential colleagues." He paused in some discomfort.

Jumping in, Wilmot spoke up. "Ellison showed up for the poker party with an uninvited child…"

That was as far as he got, Joel, Rafe, and H were all on their feet, protesting vigorously.

Putting two fingers to her lips and winking at her Sentinel, Wyse pulled the attention of the room back to the front with a piercing whistle. Having dialed down at her wink, Greenberg grinned as the room went quiet. "Gentleman. Please. Captain, you were saying?"

"I invited Ellison, Jim, without thinking about it. I was startled when he showed up with Sandburg, Blair…his Guide, because I was thinking of him as Daryl's, my son's, teenage friend, not as a Bonded Guide or even as Jim's friend." He looked a bit defiant when he added, "My son and I have spent some time with Ellison and Sandburg, and we always split along age lines. I didn't really think of Blair as Jim's Guide." He looked thoughtful. "You know, it just dawned on me that I also don't usually think of Blair as Jim's Guide because he's male. All the other Pairs I've even known were male-female."

Greenberg and Wyse were both making a few notes on their pre-prepared presentation materials. Then Wyse looked up and address Wilmot. "You stand by your statement? Sentinel Ellison showed up somewhere with 'a child?'" You don't see the other man as his Guide?"

Wilmot shook his head. He didn't really have an answer. "Okay, so I knew Ellison had a teenage kid for a Guide, but…" He hesitated. He knew he wasn't winning any points with the presenters, or his colleagues for that matter. "I have a son who is seventeen. I know what teenagers are like. You cannot expect me to treat this kid as a full member of Major Crimes."

Greenberg nodded at Banks, giving him a chance to respond first. Banks nodded back at him, giving him the floor.

"You are Wilmot Devon, correct?" After receiving the expected nod he continued. "Blair Sandburg is an emancipated minor with a Master's degree in Anthropology. He has been living on his own for several years. He teaches college classes, full of enthusiastic students several years his senior, and he does not have disciplinary problems with his classes. He has traveled extensively." He paused. "And he's a Bonded Guide."

"So, Mr. Devon, in what way is this admittedly young man a 'kid' like your own son? Your son has had a completely different upbringing and background from that of Mr. Sandburg. Do you think everyone of the same age is exactly the same? How far does this go, Mr. Wilmot?"

"What does that mean?"

"Is age the only factor you use to discriminate?"

"What? Are you calling me a bigot?"

"Are you one?"

Both Sentinel and Guide, and most of the others in the room, focused their full attention on him. He couldn't lie to a Sentinel. "No," emphatically. "I am not a bigot. I just know teenagers."

"Wrong. You know one teenager, and I suspect there's more to your son than you are aware of. Have you actually had a real conversation with your son? Do you know what he wants to do with his life? Do you know his friends?"

"Sure I do! He's going to go into the Navy like I did and then get a law degree on the GI Bill."

"Does he want to go into the Navy, or is that something you expect? Who decided he was going to be a lawyer?"

"Of course he does. I went into the Navy, my brothers did, my older son did."

"I ask again. Does he want to go into the Navy, or this something the family, you, expect? Think carefully."

A whisper from his Guide, and the Sentinel was suddenly back on track with the program, leaving Wilmot some time to think. A short film, showing a brief history of Sentinel-Guides studies was shown, and then information was presented on full and partial Sentinels, on Guides, and on the various professions that Pairs gravitated to. A brief lecture followed on the differences between unBonded and Bonded Sentinels. Finally, a few scenarios, including one on zones, were played out, with the participation of various members of the audience, Wilmot declining.

Finally, it was time for lunch. Most of the participants adjourned to a nearby conference room where Rhonda had had a lunch, courtesy of a local deli, set up. Greenberg and Wyse asked Banks for a suggestion and walked a few blocks up for Indian food. They settled into their seats, placed their orders, noted the presence of multiple police officers, and switched to the fluent Korean they shared, discussing their impressions of the various participants in the session.

**"I think Banks is finally catching on. He's been quite thoughtful all morning. I wonder what he actually said to the Pair. Perhaps the situation is recoverable. Joel, Henri, and Rafe seem to have a good handle on things. The others seem to be catching on as well. Except that Devon."

The two paused. Both realizing at the same time that Devon was not someone who should be working with this Pair, if any. He didn't have the requisite understanding and his mind was closed. They also wondered a bit about his sons, the older one currently towing the line and the younger who was expected to do the same.

**"I wonder if we can get the Pair here for the afternoon question and answer. I wish we'd had more time to plan this. If the Guide is going to be in school for a few more years, the Sentinel will want to do something. Major Crimes would have been perfect," Athena sighed. **"Can I admit that I wanted to meet the Guidefinder?" She smiled, partially shyly, and partially slyly. Her Sentinel snorted at her.

**"Heads up."

Looking over her shoulder, Athena noted the arrival of Simon Banks. She waved him on over to their table and the two switched back to English. "Sit down, Captain."

"Simon. Please."

"Thea."

"Sam."

"Did you order already? The tandoori is fabulous here or saag wala. Neither of those is particularly spicy."

"Thanks, Simon, but I can do Indian food, even vindaloo. Athena is here."

Simon looked startled and then nodded. "You know, I think I'm finally getting it. Joel and some of my other men accused me of not knowing enough about Pairs, and I'm beginning to think they are correct. I head the unit that deals with their issues, but I don't think I really know those issues as well as I thought I did." He frowned slightly, debating. "Do you think Jim and Blair would come to the afternoon session? They could see we are trying and that we do want them to join us."

Sam laughed. "We were just discussing that. You want to call them, or should I?"

Simon made a wry face. "You had better. I don't know as they would appreciate a call from me at this point. Um. I do have their cell phone numbers."

Athena reached out to pat Simon's hand where it rested on the table. "I do feel that you care and that you are trying. That's all we ask. Keep an open mind." She paused and looked at her partner. He nodded.

"About Wilmot Devon…"