Author's Notes: The next story in this alternate universe where Pairs are known. Warnings: AU, Semi-Angst, SIP (Series in Progress). Disclaimers: As before, as always, not mine. Just borrowed.

For a Male Guide 11b: Un-Fixed Assumptions - Fixed

Jaye Daver aka Jayed (or vice versa)

EMAIL: Jayed

Blair was currently lying on the rug in front of the couch, lazily reading a National Geographic article on the tiny Arizona town of Bisbee. Jim, his Sentinel, was asleep on the couch, taking advantage of a quiet day to nap just because he could. He was in his Home territory, in his actual Home, and his Guide, safe and secure, was breathing easily close by.

The gentle ringtones of Jim's cell phone sounded louder than usual in the unusual quiet of the room, and Jim came alertly awake, something both his military and Sentinel selves made inevitable. He picked up the phone and spoke a curt, "Hello."

"Mr. Ellison? My name is Samuel Greenberg. I'm one of the Training Sentinels for Washington State."

Cautiously, "What's this about?"

"I'm giving a Pair Orientation to the Major Crimes Department of the Cascade PD today, and I was wondering if I could talk you, and your Guide, of course, into coming down and joining in the Question & Answer session this afternoon. I know it's short notice, but we will be starting back up around 1:30." Jim looked over at the clock. It was 1:00.

"Mighty short notice."

"Yes, I know. But my Partner, Athena, and I only just found out about your situation today, and we didn't have time to pre-plan anything. It really would be useful for the department that handles Pair Issues to know what they are doing and what they shouldn't do. I realize you probably cannot make it for the start of the afternoon session, but do try to come."

Jim sighed, knowing the other Sentinel could hear him clearly. "I'll speak to Blair, my Guide." He paused. "How much of the situation did they tell you?"

"Mr. Ellison…"

Sam's tone told Jim that the other Sentinel understood that Jim was asking if his fellow understood why Jim was so reluctant to reconnect with this particular group. "You might as well call me Jim."

"Thank you. Jim, you should know that several of the members of the department do understand already. And Simon's well on his way. He's quite embarrassed, actually." He paused, "And I'm Sam."

Jim was tempted to sigh again. "Like I said, let me talk to Blair." Then he started to laugh. "Wait, you are asking us to come down and essentially hold class right?"

"Well, I suppose that's one way to look at it."

"There's no way Blair is going to sit that out. We'll be there soon."

After a few moments of mutual acknowledgement and good-byes, Jim hung up the phone.

"Well?"

"Well? Well what, Chief?"

"Who was that, and why did you tell them I'd hold a class? A class on what?"

"Pairs." He paused, watching Blair closely for any sign that he really didn't want to do this. "Major Crimes is having a Training Day on Pair Issues."

Blair's eyebrows crawled toward his hairline. This was a surprise. Perhaps there was something still to salvage in their relationship with both Banks (and Banks) and with Major Crimes. Bouncing to his feet, Blair insisted that they head straight on over. And Jim could only laugh.

Rhonda was waiting for them when they appeared in the lobby, ready to ease their travels through the building. Simon didn't want them to be held up by anything now that they had agreed to come on down. He'd been relieved and embarrassed, but mostly relieved, when Sam told him that they had agreed to come.

Blair, however, got progressively less bouncy the closer they got to the auditorium. Did he really want to face all these cops, especially knowing that at least some of them thought he was just some strange kid? As they reached the door, Rhonda stopped the light chatter she'd kept up, trying to give them an idea of what to expect. Nodding at them, she left them to take a minute before they joined the gathering. Nodding back, Jim silently thanked her for her tact.

"We can still go home, Blair," Jim said, quietly.

"No. I can do this. I just…Jim, you gotta pay attention. If they don't get it, we can't work here." It was clear that Blair still thought that the situation was disappointing Jim somehow.

"Blair, there are lots of other things we can do. There are dozens, hell, probably hundreds of organizations that would be more than happy to have us both on board. So, we'll see how this goes, and then we'll decide. In the meantime, you can kick some butts." He put up his hands and made little "air quote" signs, "Metaphorically speaking."

When Blair snorted at the silliness of the gesture, Jim opened the door and escorted his smiling partner into the room.

The next few minutes were taken up by introductions, as the room sized up Jim and Blair, and they sized up the crowd right back. Then the two Pairs took a quiet moment for introductions and mutual compliments. Athena was so happy to meet the Guidefinder that she almost outbounced the younger Guide.

Seizing the moment, Simon stood when the Assembly was asked what kind of questions they had. "This is not really a question. It's an apology." He paused, and then he looked at the young man he realized he had become fond of, "I am sorry, Blair. I wasn't thinking the other night. I forgot you are Jim's Guide as well as Daryl's friend, but I won't forget again."

After that, the questions came slowly. Questions were addressed to both Sentinels and both Guides, and to all four. Some were silly, "So, are Pairs psychic? Can you read each others' minds?" Some were concerned, "Blair, will you get some training at the Academy so you know what to do to be safe?" Some were pure curiosity, "How did you know that your Guide, was, like, The Guide?" A few were sly, "Hey, my sister wants to be a Guide, and, well…" But most of the questions were earnest, and the two Pairs, through senses and empathy, could clearly judge that sincerity, and they tried to answer in kind.

However, inevitably, one or two were so outrageous that the room burst into a frenzy when they were spoken. From Wilmot, proving that he absolutely didn't belong in Major Crimes, "So, Ellison, why don't you just wait for him to grow up?" And, even more irrationally from one of the visitor Vice cops, a jaded middle-aged woman named Louise Green, a question that implied that Jim was not only a pedophile, but a danger to the public at large.

Having gotten comfortable with the easy and common questions, all four of the speakers were caught completely off-guard. Jim went red and Blair white. Before any of them could speak, however, Green was surrounded by an "un"Honor Guard, made up of Henri, Rafe, Joel, and Simon and escorted back to Vice.

Sam, recognizing that this was a moment that he had to step up, took the opportunity to once again reiterate the information about the fact that Pairs were not necessarily romantically or sexually involved. Yes, some were, but it was an individual choice. And, he hastened to point out, Blair was seventeen, not four. Jim's Guide was young, but he was not truly a child. The insinuations were offensive on so many levels that it was hard to know where to begin. It was the kind of accusation that could linger, even if untrue, sometimes especially when untrue, in the rumor mills.

"Well," Megan spoke up, "What about you two? Are you and Athena a couple as well as a Pair?" Since she was pretty sure that they were not, she hoped that the information would help get people's minds back on track.

"We thought at one point that we might become closer," Athena answered, "but then Sam and I were invited to his college roommate's wedding. He fell for Bob's sister, Jillian, and, well, I just got engaged to their cousin, Tobias." She held up her hand, showing off her new ring to the crowd.

Blair, his coloring slowly returned to normal, spoke up, too. "Hey, I went to a lot of trouble to set up Jim with Kyra, one of the secretaries at Rainier."

Jim, however, refused to calm down. He had come to this little meet and greet in good faith because he knew that Blair still thought he should look at the Police Station as a reasonable placement while Blair himself finished up his degree. This kind of insult, however, was not something he expected. Wilmot's crack about Blair's age they had prepared for. A question about his integrity and the implications that he was a danger to children or his own Guide? How could he be expected to work with these people?

Recognizing that Jim had had enough (and more than enough), Sam called an end to the Question & Answers and wrapped up the session. He asked Blair and Jim to wait, but Jim didn't want to stay at the station. He did agree to meet the other Pair for coffee a little later that afternoon.

By the time Simon and his men returned, Jim and Blair were gone. The buzz in the room had quieted, and Sam was preparing to show one final little film about the current activities of Sentinels and Guides the world over. When the room emptied, a few folks lingering to ask questions they'd been too shy to ask earlier, or that they had since thought up, Simon asked Sam what had happened after he took Green from the room.

"Well, this was still a good idea," Sam began, "but I don't think it's solved all your problems with getting this Sentinel and Guide to work here. It's not the sexual nature of the question that offended Jim, you know? It's the idea that he would harm his Guide, or a child. No Sentinel wants to associate with people who think he could do either of those things." He paused. "However, I do think that the session was useful. The question, if less offensively, may have been in other minds. This way it's out, and that should, despite everything, actually help to diffuse it. Unless Green wants a slander suit and keeps spouting that little tidbit of hers."

Simon shook his head ruefully, "Two steps forward, one step back. I talked to Green's boss, briefly. He's going to talk to her in a little more detail." He paused. "Are you seeing Jim and Blair later? Do you think you could ask them to call me? We'd like to have the Poker Party again, and do it right."

"With Wilmot?"

"No, I'm going to encourage Wilmot to transfer to another department. He can't work with Pairs; that's clear. I'm thinking he'll have to go to Traffic or Bunko. None of the major divisions can afford to have someone so blind on the staff." He looked Sam and then Athena in the eyes, "I know it sounds crazy, but he really has been a good detective until now. I have never seen any previous signs that he has a problem with Pairs, or Guides," he paused thoughtfully, "or teens." After shaking hands with the Pair, and thanking them for coming, Banks headed back to his department to "debrief" with his staff.

On the ride over to meet up with Cascade Pair, Athena asked Sam the question she'd been mulling all day. "So, do you think I should ask him? Or, do you think it's going to make me look like one more person who wants something?" She laughed wryly. "Of course, I do want something."

"Athena, you can ask. He is a Guidefinder. He'll say no if he's feeling taken advantage of, or Jim will say on it his behalf." Pausing to remember his own first meeting with his Guide, he held her hand for a moment, letting the thumb caress the back, "Athena, Jim will know how important this is to Flynn. He'll know I know, and that will let him understand why you are asking." Smiling gratefully, Athena squeezed back.

The four actually met at the place that Jim still thought of as Blair's Little Diner rather than a more raucous Starbucks or Barney's. Pie and coffee all around made everyone a bit more comfortable, and they discussed the PD, Training Sessions at various institutions and schools, and Blair's unusual talent. Sam actually was the one to turn the conversation that way, trying to give Athena an opportunity to ask Blair about her friend. Jim, picking up the subtext, nudged Blair and pointed toward Athena.

"You know a Sentinel without a Guide, eh?" Blair asked, looking at his counterpart calmly.

"Yes. I'm sorry to bring it up, but, I have to ask. His name's Flynn. I met him when we were both taking some pottery classes. I thought he might turn out to be my Sentinel, but we never quite clicked. Then, I met Sam, and, well, you know, suddenly, one day, I just knew." She picked up Sam's hand and held it.

"Well, I'll do what I can, but you have to remember that I can only say I'll try. No guarantees, 'kay?"

"That's fair enough." Athena smiled happily. "If you give me a number, I'll call you to set something up at a convenient time." While the Guides discussed the details of their schedules, Sam turned to Jim. "Simon is going to call you. He wants to rerun the Poker Party."

Jim nodded. "We'll talk about it."

Two weeks later, Blair lay down his cards on the first hand of the night and won with a heart flush, beating Megan's three jacks and Simon's three nines. Pizzas were argued over, ordered, and consumed. Stories were told-true ones about life, false ones about fishing adventures-and a new team dynamic was formed. "Yes," Simon thought, "this was going to work."