Author's Notes: The ninth story in this alternate universe where Pairs are known. Warnings: AU, SIP (Series in Progress). Disclaimers: As before, as always, not mine. Just borrowed. Additional Note: I am honored to have been nominated for this series in the LMFAs. My thanks.

For a Male Guide 9: Reporting

Jayed

EMAIL: Jayed

Jim Ellison, Sentinel, was almost whistling as he walked toward the front door of the house he shared with his young Guide. He was back from a brief, "getting to know you" date with Kyra Everett, the secretary to the Dean of the Sociology Department at his Guide's beloved Rainier University. Their first date had been aborted due to Jim's own father's interference and failed machinations, but this date had gone rather well. Kyra was quite lovely, and she had a wicked sense of humor. It took a special someone to be involved with Sentinels and Guides, recognizing the all-important role played by each one's partner. Kyra seemed like just that sort of person.

Ellison had been a little surprised to see Blair's car in the driveway. He, too, had gone out on a date. This was his first real relationship. At nineteen, the young woman was a bit older than her beau, but he had been able to hold his own with her. She was, after all, only a junior in Journalism while he already held a graduate degree. She had the amazing name of Fiorenza Ghita Giacobbe, and Blair thought she was the most exquisite woman on Earth with lightly brown skin, enormous dark eyes, and waves of auburn hair.

As was his wont, Jim sent his senses on ahead, seeking to reestablish contact with his Guide as soon as possible. Immediately, he smelled salt water and heard harsh breathing. His Guide was trying not to cry, probably trying to keep his emotions from spilling over and alerting his overprotective Sentinel and breaking into his date again. Of their own volition, his feet began to move faster until he was practically running into the house.

As the front door banged open, Blair wiped futilely at his eyes. He knew he couldn't hide the evidence from Jim nor did he really want to do so. They had a pact, a solemn promise between them, that they would not try to keep hurts hidden or let misunderstandings lie. Such things usually came out anyway. Blair had kept from alerting Jim and ruining his date, but the Sentinel was home now.

As Jim moved toward the hall and Blair's bedroom, the younger man came out of his room and met his Sentinel in the corridor. "Oh, Jim," he said, "I'm so glad you're home."

"Blair, buddy, what happened? Did something happen to Fiorenza?"

"You could say that." Suddenly he just looked terribly defeated. "She was never really interested in me, Blair Sandburg. She was dating the Guidefinder."

"What?!" Jim couldn't believe it. She had seemed like such a sweet-faced girl.

"We went to Cylene's, you know, the vegetarian place near her house. She, um, sat next to me rather than across the table, and, um," Blair blushed scarlet. He knew his Sentinel knew he was inexperienced with women, and he trusted him with his life, but it was still embarrassing. "She told me that Elizabeth, you know, her roommate, was out-of-town and invited me back to their apartment." He blushed again. "I thought that we were going to, you know what I mean?" The younger man looked at the older one, seeking understanding.

Because he did understand that something had happened when Blair was in a clearly emotionally (and probably physically) distressed state, he led the younger man to the living room and sat down next to him on the couch. He kept one soothing hand on his Guide, to comfort both of them.

"We finished eating, and she went to the Ladies Room. I went, too. Well, to the Men's Room, you know? I could hear her through the door. She was talking on a cell phone. She was sooo excited, Jim. She was telling someone that she had an exclusive scoop on the Guidefinder and giving them her address." Tear glistened in his eyes. "I just, I just paid and left before she got out of the bathroom. I couldn't even look at her. Was the story worth that much?"

Jim heard the unspoken corollary, "Was I, Blair, worth so little?" Reaching out both arms and Bond, Jim wrapped his Guide in a hug and mental warmth, soothing him, reminding him how oh-so-very-important he was to his Sentinel.

Managing a watery smile, glad to have gotten the story out, Blair lay back and enjoyed the warmth for a while. Then he pulled forward a little, and Jim let him go. "I need a shower, man. I need to just wash this off."

Jim nodded and let him go. When the shower started, the Sentinel turned back to the front door which he had not locked in his desire to get quickly to his Guide. He saw the light flashing on the answering machine and played the three messages back. The first was a reminder that both he and Blair had dental appointments early the next week. The second and third were from Fiorenza.

First Message: "Blair? Where are you? Did you go home? Are you sick? Call my cell phone, you know the number, 555-1993."

Second Message: "Blair, you're worrying me here. The waiter said that you paid; it was supposed to be my treat tonight. Come on, Blair, call me."

As Jim was busy erasing these messages, Blair didn't need to hear that little bitch acting so innocent. Jim could hear her heart beating quickly on the tape. She knew; yeah, she knew he knew, but she was playing the innocent, perhaps in hopes of luring him back and saving her story.

The phone rang. Not wanting Blair to hear it and come out, Jim grabbed it quickly. It was Fiorenza again. "Oh, Jim," she said enthusiastically, "Can I talk to Blair?"

"No."

"What? Jim? Let me talk to …"

"What part of no don't you understand? The Guidefinder doesn't want to give you an exclusive."

The girl went silent. Then the phone was gently hung up.

Why couldn't people let the young man be? Why did so many people think that there was money to made from Blair's Guidefinding abilities? Why did so many of them think that they deserved a chance to exploit him and get their share?

END