Authors Notes: The seventh story in this alternate universe where Sentinel/Guide Pairs are known. In fact, this one might make a little less sense if you havent read the others first, but each story can stand on its own.
Warnings: AU, SIP (Series in Progress.)
Disclaimers: As before, as always, not mine. Just borrowed.
For a Male Guide 7:
Settling Down, Settling Pratt
The trip to the Emergency Room was quick. Blairs wrist was set, and his small bruises checked, but the emotional wounds went deeper. Sentinel and Guide families usually celebrated the new Pairing. For Blair, an orphaned teen without any close relatives, family had come to be very important. The idea that Jims father would not only deny him, but insult and attack him was almost beyond his comprehension. He couldnt help but believe that he had somehow come between Jim and his father, not considering that Jim and his father were already estranged.
Thus, it was a substantially subdued Blair who returned to the house at 852 Prospect Street, the house he had bought together with his Sentinel, the house that was supposed to be their home, the first real, settled home, of Blairs life. It was tainted somehow by Mr. Ellisons accusations and assumptions, and he couldnt quite feel comfortable when they walked through the door. He suspected that he was over-reacting, but it wasnt until he realized how upset he was making Jim that he made any effort to control his thinking and his emotions.
Jim, for his part, had been thinking the whole time they had been at the hospital. He kept one eye on the current situation, monitoring his Guide, making the doctors just nervous enough to treat the young man with extra care and courtesy, Blessed Protector mode not quite all the way engaged--it was, after all, only a minor break of a small bone. No, Jim had been trying to figure out how to talk about his father and his fathers words. He knew his young Guide well enough already to know that the words would be more painful than the wrist.
So, while Blair hovered uncertainly in the living room, Jim made a quick cup of tea for them both. He brought the mugs and took a seat on the loveseat, consciously choosing it rather than the larger sofa, and patted the seat beside him. Blair, called out of his reverie, noted Jims encouraging smile, and hurried to the offered comfort of tea and proximity.
The two drank silently for a moment, and then Jim spoke up, "Blair, I need for you to listen to me, to hear me out, okay?"
Looking half-solemn, half-nervous, heart-rate slightly elevated, Blair nodded, silently.
Hoping to shake his Guide out of the unusual silence, Jim told Blair about his childhood, about the distance between himself and his father, emotionally and physically, he spoke of the distance between himself and his absent mother, and brief moments of happiness with a stepmother and half-brother before his father forced them into physical and emotional distance as well. Hed found a kind of family in his high school teammates and coach, in his Army buddies, and, now, more than ever, in his Guide, a relationship that he could finally trust to last and be true. In a choice between his father and his Guide, there was no choice. In a choice between William Ellison and Blair Sandburg, even less.
Jims voice had grown a little tight as he finished his brief monologue, and he just managed to keep from breaking down--this was not a story he had ever told anyone before--losing control only of a single tear. Blair, much less willing or needing to keep up a macho front, sobbed aloud, clung briefly to Jim in a convulsive hug, and bespoke Jim from his heart straight into the Sentinels mind, "Love you, too." And, then, abruptly, emotionally drained, physically tired, drugs finally allowed to kick in, Blair fell asleep.
Grinning broadly, Jim turned, slipped an arm under his Guides legs, and carried him into his bedroom. If pushed, he would have admitted that he found the color that his Guide had chosen for this bedroom to be vastly amusing. Who would have suspected that his Guide, who chose to wear such vibrantly colored clothing, would have chosen to paint his bedroom a gentle, baby blue?
Not quite too early the next morning, Jim heard a pair of voices heading toward the front door. One he recognized, it was the voice of Simon Banks. The other was younger and lighter. Before the knock, Jim had the door open. The other voice belonged a boy with a passing resemblance to the tall man standing in front of him.
"Simon, hello, and you must be Daryl?"
"Yeah, Im Daryl." The boy was a little disconcerted with the close scrutiny he was being given. Hed never really met any Sentinels, except for Detective Chen, who he had seen once or twice when visiting his Dads office. He didnt think hed ever actually spoken to him. When his Dad had mentioned that he might introduce him to Blair Sandburg, Jims Guide, hed been a little unsure, but then he realized that Blair was the guy from the TV. His friends would think it was cool if he met the SuperGuide, although he suspected that his Dad wouldnt appreciate it if he called Blair that to his face.
Hearing voices, Blair stumbled out into the living room, and only then took a moment to consider what he looked like. His hair was probably a rats nest. His arm was aching a bit as well. However, he pulled himself up, ran his good hand through his hair to tame it, and greeted Simon enthusiastically, thanking him shyly for coming to his aid the night before.
"Jim did that, mostly," Simon noted, honestly.
"Yes, but you came when I called you. I appreciate that."
"Any time, Blair." Then he smiled. "This is my son, Daryl. Daryl, this is Blair Sandburg."
Blair put out his hand, and Daryl took it, giving the kind of firm handshake his father had taught him, putting a little more into it in his nervousness. Blair managed not to grin or wince. He was only two years old than Daryl chronologically, but he was much older than that in other ways, and he didnt want to embarrass the other boy. Yet, he was intrigued. It had been a very long time since hed had the opportunity to spend any real time with anyone younger than himself, other than the odd babysitting evening with a fellow graduate students infant or toddler and that hardly counted here.
The four sat down, after Jim brought everyone a drink, sodas for Blair and Daryl, beer for Simon and himself. Talk was a bit strained at first, but then the two older men caught onto the younger mens conversation about the Jags. Suddenly the conversation between all four was lively and loud. Blair and Simon backed Orvelle Wallace as the star of the team, Jim and Daryl held out for the new rookie, Kennedy Browne. Talk ranged from the previous season to the hopes for this years team to make it into the playoffs to the possibilities of a new coach.
In the middle of the discussion, Jim and Simon took a moment to smile past the two younger men, happy that they seemed to be hitting it off so well. Then Blair excused himself, hurrying to his room and back, one of his treasures clutched in his hand. There, protected by a sturdy clear plastic sleeve, was a signed rookie card for Orvelle Wallace.
Blair had actually gotten to meet him when he had come to talk to Rainiers basketball team a little more than a year earlier. Blair had been tutoring one of the players, a junior shooting guard, and had wrangled an invite to join the team. The coach, grateful for Blairs help in keeping the struggling player eligible, allowed him to sit in on the session. Then, Wallace had actually included him in the meet, agreeing not only to sign the card he had brought along, but also encouraging him to take a few layouts and shoot a few free throws, complimenting him on the latter when he easily made fifteen in a row. The coach had even teasingly offered to replaced the teams center with Blair; that young man, for some reason, only made fifty percent of his free throws. Of course, the fact that he was well over a foot taller than Blair let everyone know it was all in fun.
Jim wondered if Wallace knew how much that simple kindness had meant to the then fifteen year old boy, and he decided that he would find a way to thank the man. Any memory that made his Guides eyes shine so happily, especially after the recent trauma, was worthy of a thank you from a grateful Sentinel.
Plans were made for the four to try for tickets to a couple of upcoming games, and Blair agreed to meet Daryl and some of his friends the next day for pizza. Overall, the visit was deemed a success, albeit for slightly different reasons, by all four participants.
Since Detective Chen, together with Agent Smith, his Guide, had made the decision to leave Cascade and try the FBI, the Cascade PD had lost its Sentinel. Very few cities their size had a Sentinel, but Simon was used to the work that Chen had been able to do. Of course, Ellison, Jim he reminded himself, as a Sentinel with a Guide, an important distinction, would be even more valuable, his senses stronger and more under control. Of course, that control was a kind of shared control he only partially understood. Realistically, that also meant finding a way to integrate the young man who was Jims Guide into the picture, but he figured where there was a will, there was a way. He needed to sound Jim out. Maybe hed invite Jim to the next Major Crimes Poker Party. It was at his house this month, and he knew his people would make Jim feel welcomed.
It was just unfortunate for that first invitation that Simon momentarily forgot that Blair was Jims partner, not his ward or his baby brother. He wished he had remembered the phone call about the problematic real estate agents in time.
Pratt knew he was doomed when he found out that the older man with the Jaguar was Ellisons father, and, further, that he had somehow managed to injure Blair. Jim wouldnt leave Blair alone again for a while, now. He would be mother-henning him over the injured wrist, if nothing else. But Pratt was a licensed psychologist. He knew, almost as well as Blairs own Sentinel, that this boy would take it hard that his Sentinels father had not accepted him. Pratt knew what not having a father could do to a child, particularly a soft-hearted, bright child, an orphan without maternal relatives to make up the lack. He damned William Ellison for screwing up his own plans by upsetting the Pair, never considering that he had had plans to do something similar, although not with physical injuries, himself.
He knew he shouldnt, but started to hover on the edges of Rainier, hoping against hope that he might yet find his Guide on his own. He also spent some time near the Cascade PD, not in hopes of catching Blair there, but listening to the discussions of Blairs case whenever he could.
Jim wasnt sure at first, but then he was. At the end of the First Week, his senses had shifted, grown solid in a way could never explain to anyone other than other Sentinels, and then probably only the other Fives. With his more powerful senses, and ever alert to danger to his Guide, he knew that Tom Pratt was in Cascade, haunting the places he and Blair frequented, particularly the university and police station. He hadnt sensed him at the house, so he hadnt made an issue of it. But he was worried. Surely Pratt wasnt going to turn Rogue.
His thoughts turning from Pratt to the police station more fully, he contemplated the not-so-subtle hints hed gotten from Banks, Simon he reminded himself, about joining the PD, Major Crimes specifically. He didnt particularly want to be a patrol officer, but Simon had assured him that with his college degree, military background, and Sentinel abilities, hed be fast-tracked through the Academy and moved almost directly into a detective spot. Hed need to study Procedures, Law, and Policy, but he could probably teach the courses on Guns and Self-Defense.
Blairs Blessed Protector finally eased up enough to let his injured Guide out of the house, their territory, three days after the whole ugly incident. Jims father had tried to call multiple times, and Jim had finally had the phone company block his phone, his cellphone, and any of the numbers from his fathers place of business. There was nothing he wanted to say to the man, and he would not allow the man to bother his Guide ever again. Blair was too forgiving. An attack on his Guide was not something a Sentinel ever could or would forgive or forget. A restraining order was next on that agenda.
Blair, for his part, endured and secretly (or not) enjoyed the pampering of his worried Sentinel. True to the Bond, he had slept, warm and safe, with his Sentinel, and both Sentinel and Guide had been able to sleep.
Given a chance to go out, but limited as to his activities, Blair still chose to go to the Park. He talked Jim into packing a picnic and grabbing a blanket (and watched in amusement as Jim added a first aid kit, an umbrella, sunscreen, and a couple of pillows to the items to be brought along). Blair was allowed to carry the pillows to the car, and then they were on their way to the large public park near the university.
It was a Sunday, and the park was full of people. The two found a relatively quiet spot to relax and people watch. Blair casually tested his Sentinels sense of smell as the older man leaned back comfortably against a convenient tree, eyes half-closed in lazy contentment. His Guides voice kept him grounded as he sought to name as many scents as he could.
As he sought one last elusive scent, the Rainiers womens track team jogged by, getting some off-season practice and team-building time. A visiting assistant coach jogged with them, waving casually at Blair as she went by. Blair had offered extra tutoring to the members of the relay team who had taken one of his classes. Hed met the coaches then.
Suddenly, Blair sat up straight, staring after her retreating back. Could it be? The coach was studying the training methods of the Rainier team after having spent some time studying at a few other American universities. She was returning home soon to Bolivia to take up a position as a coach at Bolivias largest university. She was she was Pratts Guide.
Noting his Guides interest in the retreating runners, and noting the elevated heart-rate, Jim at first assumed that the younger man was attracted by the (admittedly) fine female forms, jogging away with long legs and short shorts. Then he noted the lack of pheromones. This was something else.
Then Jim looked at Blairs face. There it was, what Jim had taken to calling, privately, his "Guidefinder smile." Jim thought quickly. Blair only currently knew one unbonded Sentinel: Pratt.
"Which one was it, Chief," he asked, gently. "You found Pratts Guide, didnt you?"
"Yeah!" Blair smiled. He wasnt completely sure why Jim was so down on Tom, except hed been an Unbonded Sentinel hanging around a newly Bonded Pair. Blair felt only a sense of relief. Hed helped the last of his rescuers, if he could get the two together.
"The coach, the assistant coach, Jim, shes the one. Shes Maria Elena Linera." Suddenly he smiled. "Youll like this part. Shes Bolivian, and shes going home next week to be the Head Coach at Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar in La Paz. I wonder if Tom speaks Spanish." He grinned. "Im guessing it wont bother you if Tom moves to Bolivia."
Jim smiled back, trying not laugh at the last comment. He should have known that Blair would pick up on his feelings about Pratt. However, he could now admit it to himself that he had felt a little badly about Pratts situation, especially in light of the fact that Blairs kidnapping had worked out so well for the other two and himself. Pratt had to be pushed away from the newly Bonded Pair because hed been too likely to upset Blair when he hadnt needed that kind of pressure. Now, they just had to find Pratt. Maybe Pratts hovering at the University was not the result of his trying to find Blair, Jim suddenly realized, but rather his attraction, all unknown, to Maria.
"Do you suppose she knows shes a Guide? I mean, coaching must involve psychology, nutrition, and training. Oh. Wow. All Guides are coaches, arent we? Of a kind, anyway." Blair grinned. Hey, maybe there was a paper here.
Jim didnt want to interact personally with Pratt, nor did he want Blair to do so. Thus, when they next went to the University, and Jim sensed that Pratt was nearby, he contacted Simon. Between the usual foot patrol in the Park and Jims senses, Pratt was quickly located.
Simon slowly approached the quiet man, sitting forlornly on the bench at the edge of the park. "Dr. Pratt? No, dont be alarmed. Im Captain Simon Banks with the Cascade Police Department." He held out his badge. "Ive got some good news for you from Blair Sandburg. He and James Ellison have asked me to let "
"He found her! Where is she? Who is she?" Pratt had jumped to his feet when Simon first addressed him by name, now he practically vibrated with the need to be moving. "Why isnt he here nevermind thats not important Who is she?"
Simon grinned. If the man would let him get in a word edgewise he might be able to tell him. Pratt seemed to realize that himself because abruptly he stopped speaking and sat back down. "Maria Elena Linera. Thats her name. Shes been living in Cascade and training at Rainier, but shes a Bolivian national. Shes returning home soon to be the Head Track Coach at Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar in La Paz."
Simon wanted to ask Pratt some of the questions that Blair had given him, but the man was already moving by the time hed said she was a track coach. Sentinel hearing no doubt let him hear the rest of what Simon said as Pratt began all but running toward the University. Just before he was out of "regular" eyesight, he suddenly turned and waved, as if realizing that hed been a bit rude. Simon smiled and spoke once more, hoping Pratt hadnt turned all his attentions to the University, "Blair said to tell you to live long and prosper. Jim says that he hopes you live long and prosper, in Bolivia."
Task completed, good deed done, Simon returned his cigar to the corner of his mouth and took himself back to his office, chuckling softly the whole way.
Maria Elena Linera had known she was a Guide, but hadnt really thought about looking for a Sentinel. Then, as she stepped out of the Physical Education Building to go home for the night, she was approached by a very nervous man. She was about to turn to go back into the safety of the building when she realized how safe she was with this man. Smiling broadly she asked, "Mina?"
Smiling back, the man said, "El tuyo. Mina?"
Jim and Blair received a postcard four months later. "Bolivia is wonderful. Maria is more. My thanks, Tom Pratt."
To be continued