Author’s Notes: Sentinels and Guides are known and Bond. It’s just part of life. This is an answer to the First Time/20 Word Challenge issued by Peja. (Look! I used all 20!)

Warnings: AU. M/M Sex.

Disclaimers: Not mine. Just borrowed.

Rating: FRM

Courting

By Jayed

EMAIL: Jayed

 

 

After Alex Barnes betrayed him during their Courtship, Blair Sandburg went through a period wherein he didn’t trust Sentinels. Things had begun so well. He’d quite enjoyed their first few meetings. A beautiful woman, as well as a Sentinel, she had asked him for a date, True, she hadn’t made the official Seeker’s overture, but he’s been quite flattered by her attentions. Then she surprised him by asking him to her home for a romantic dinner rather soon after they’d met. Newly come into his powers as a Guide, extremely young, and, most importantly, rather na´ve, he’d agreed to the dinner without thinking through the potential implications.

Before and during the meal, she’d served him mead, keeping his glass refilled. Unused to it and lulled by the honey sweet taste, he hadn’t realized it had such a high alcohol content; he had become drunk before he’d finished the meal. Despite the fact that it was early in the Courtship, and despite the fact that none of the preliminary ceremonies had taken place, and more importantly, without Blair’s explicit consent, she’d tried to initiate an "intimate encounter." Since sex was the one way, and an easy one at the that, to seal a Bond between Sentinel and Guide, her action was illegal and immoral, both a crime and a sin, in the world of Sentinels & Guides. Ironically, he was saved from her machinations by the fact that she gave him too much too drink. As the young man was unused to anything stronger than beer, the mead had only made him ill.

Blair later figured that he was supposed to think it had all been a misunderstanding of some kind, a moment of passion that got out of hand. However, he would have been caught, Bonded to her without any of the details of their relationship planned and without any of the usual checks and balances provided by the Sentinel-Guide House. He wondered if he’d been targeted because of his youth and inexperience or because she just happened to see him the day she decided she had to have a Guide. In any case, he had gotten away from her without a fight after throwing, and then sobering, up. When he got home that evening, he had reported her to the House authorities. No doubt that had been as unpleasant a surprise for her as the one she had planned for him would have been had she succeeded.

That had been almost a year earlier, and he had resisted all efforts by his friends to set him up on dates with anyone, Sentinel or not. He’d gone nineteen years without a relationship, and he could continue on that way for now. Maybe he was lonely, maybe it would be nice to be kissed and cuddled, but until he was confident that he could trust his empathy to keep him from misunderstanding the differences between a true promise and a lie, he wasn’t willing to risk his body, his heart, or his soul.

Now, at a party for friends, a party hosted by Kyle, his Guide Mentor, he stood quietly, unseen, in the small alcove between the kitchen and dining room, eavesdropping without really meaning to do so. He heard one Pair, the Host’s sister and her Guide, planning a romantic getaway and another Pair discussing making their secret relationship public. He had thought that Yolanda was in a situation like his own, someone who could commiserate with him about the perfidy of Sentinels, but it sounded like she had moved on from the separation that had occurred just before her Bonding Ceremony the previous year. She and her then Sentinel, a charming, slightly older woman, had had a long and careful Courtship and then, at the last possible moment, the Sentinel had changed her mind and refused all of Yolanda’s overtures. Blair knew that Yolanda had not stopped wondering what had stopped her Companion from going through with their Bonding, but it appeared that she had found the courage, something he obviously lacked, to try again.

He sighed deeply and wondered if he’d stayed long enough at the party to safely be allowed to leave. It was nice to have friends who cared, but sometimes they hovered over him a little too much. The doorbell rang as he was moving to set down his soft drink and make his good-byes. The tall man a the door spoke briefly with Kyle, and then suddenly his head came up. He stared straight at Blair in his quiet corner.

Slowly, clearly making the effort not to startle him, the tall man made his way over to where Blair stood. "Jim Ellison," he said, "Sentinel Seeker."

Okay, so he’d avoided set-ups, never having actually had to meet any of the offered Sentinels his friends had mentioned. He wondered if Kyle had done this on purpose or if it was just Kismet. By naming himself a Seeker, this Ellison was "seeking" permission to Court him. Most Guides were bisexual, but he’d never actually considered a man before.

Patiently, kindly, the Sentinel allowed the Guide a chance to consider his answer. He’d heard the young man talking one day at Rainier and before he’d even seen the young man’s face he’d known he’d found his Guide. Unfortunately, when he tried to find out more information about him, he’d found out about Barnes and wasn’t it always charming to meet the ex? He’d been warned he’d have to move slowly, and he was prepared to do so. He’d had a few temporary Guides, but never a true Bond. He was twenty eight. It was time.

Finally, Blair looked him in the eye, trying to judge the other man’s character through the blue staring back at him. He half saw Kyle nodding frantically at him and, surprisingly, Yolanda as well. He decided to take the chance and be as brave as his friend. "Blair Sandburg. I will be Sought."

The next few weeks were almost dizzying to the young man. Ellison started slowly, but moved inexorably to convince the Guide to accept him. He offered dates in safe public places, dates filled with fabulous foods, a little dancing, a bit of bowling, and lots of laughter. Next, he took the younger man for long hikes and days spent fishing. He talked a little about himself and encouraged the younger man to talk about himself as well. Of course, he also taught Blair to appreciate male-to-male kissing.

Finally, on the four month anniversary of their meeting, Jim picked him up, not telling him where they were going, and drove them into the downtown shopping district. Parking his old truck, he led Blair into a small, out-of-the-way shop. As soon as they entered and Blair knew what kind of shop it was. His heart rate shot straight up.

"Blair? Is this a bad idea? Too soon?" Jim, for the first time since their first week’s Courtship, looked unsure and anxious.

"No. I’m not upset, just surprised." He lowered his eyes shyly. "I’m … pleased."

He risked looking up just as Jim pulled him into a quick, but thorough and thoroughly appreciated hug. "Good. I’m glad. I didn’t know how to ask, so I thought I’d just try this."

Then Jim turned to the shop’s proprietor, one arm still firmly around the younger man’s shoulders. "We’ve come to look at Sentinel-Guide Bonding sets."

The old man grinned. "As if I didn’t know that," he thought to himself. He stepped forward to the counter in front of the Courting couple and pulled out several trays from a locked cabinet. He set the trays in front of them.

Blair’s eye was immediately caught by a pair of medallions with the symbols for Sentinel and Guide entwined on one side and a space for engraving on the other. No chain was connected to them, but chains in the another display were the proper lengths for either bracelets or necklaces. By tradition, Sentinels and Guides wore matching jewelry, but there was nothing stipulated about what form the jewelry had to take. Yolanda and Everett had chosen to be Bonded with infinity symbol earrings in their left ears. Kyle and his Sentinel wore matching wristwatches with each other’s names on the backs.

Hearing Blair catch his breath, Jim looked to see what had caught his Companion’s eye. He had been directed to this shop by the Sentinel-Guide House as a good place to come for their jewelry, and he had been counseled to let the Guide choose. Astonishingly, although it seemed a terribly simple thing, ninety seven percent of Pairs whose Guides freely chose their Bonding jewelry stayed together. Of the couples wherein the Sentinel chose without the Guide’s input, eighty percent stayed. Unions wherein the Sentinel "directed" the Guide’s choice usually lasted less than two years before they split apart. So, Jim hadn’t made any choices. He had merely brought the younger man to the shop and fully expected to accept whatever the younger man chose.

"Jim?" Blair pointed to his choice. "We could have our names entwined like that on the other side." Although it was a statement, Jim could clearly hear the question behind it, and the eager happiness as well.

The proprietor saw the decision had been made. He was aware of the statistics about Bonding jewelry, having, in fact, been the person who had brought it to the attention of the Sentinel-Guide House. It was one of the reasons they were so willing to direct new Pairs to his seemingly modest shop. "What names, then?" he asked.

Blair smiled up at Jim, the very look in his eyes a joyful confession of love and faith.

That detail settled, Jim buying the medallions and acquiescing when Blair insisted that he pay for the necklace chains, Jim drove the two of them back across town to the Sentinel-Guide House. They spent the rest of the day and a good deal of the evening hours secluded with one of the House’s Counselor Pairs. The four of them worked out the contract under which Jim and Blair would Bond and live. There was some angst and some compromise, but mostly there was a sense of relief, and of hope, and of happiness.


They held their ceremony late the following week in the Bonders’ Room at the House, speaking the simple vows before an audience of friends, Sentinels, Guides, and others. The Head of the House--this year it happened to be a Guide, so next year it would be a Sentinel--stood at the front of the room, and the two coming to be Bonded came slowly toward him from doors on opposite sides of the room.

When they met in the middle, Jim spoke the words he’d said once many months before, "Jim Ellison, Seeker Sentinel."

He was answered, "Blair Sandburg, I was Sought and am Found."

The Head put the Bonding necklaces over their heads, letting the medallions come to rest on their chests. By accident or design, the one on Blair rested with their names facing outwards and Jim’s showed the symbols for Sentinel and Guide. Then the Head took a single step back from the new Pair and raised his right arm, moving to put his palm outward toward them. Slowly, solemnly, he read their contract to the assembled witnesses. Then he placed the document on a small table, picked up a pen, and signed it.

Immediately after, Jim and Blair picked up pens and signed their names simultaneously.

The Head picked up the document to keep it safely with other like documents in the House’s documents facility. Then, he spoke the final words of the brief ceremony to the assembled crowd, "I give you a new Pair, Sentinel and Guide, Guide and Sentinel. Here are Blair Sandburg and Jim Ellison, Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. You, who are their Bond’s witnesses, honor them, support them, heed them, and teach them."

The next couple of hours were a bit of blur to Blair. There was a reception and dancing, some storytelling and the odd bit of teasing. Finally, the two were allowed to slip away from the party and go to Jim’s loft apartment, the place they had decided would be their home.

Jim had offered Blair the choice of a real honeymoon, a trip someplace exotic or, at the least, a night in an elegant hotel. Blair had asked that they spend their first night in what would their be his home. While the two had spent the previous day at the House, friends had moved all of Blair’s things to the Loft, placing them where he and Jim had directed through a series of notes.

All the way back to the Loft, Jim had kept a careful hand on his Guide, now resting on his shoulder, now combing through his curls, now rubbing softly down his thigh. The touch was simultaneously soothing and arousing. Hand in hand they walked up the stairs, and Jim watched as Blair used his new key to open the door to his new home for the first time.

By now the pheromones were pouring off the younger man, but Jim had prepared himself for that. It wouldn’t do to jump his new partner, not when the young man was a virgin and a little nervous. So, Jim gave a few moments to collect himself, walking into the kitchen to retrieve bottles of water for them both. He joined his Guide on the couch, when Blair finally settled there, and pulled him close.

Blair took a long drink of the water from the offered bottle and then turned his face upward expectantly. Taking the hint, Jim leaned in and kissed him, licking across the younger man’s lips, asking entry.

They’d kissed before, as part of the Courtship, but Blair had known that those kisses were safe, were not really leading any further. This, though, this kiss was quite different, soothing and demanding; it made his previously comfortable pants suddenly seem way too tight. He opened his mouth.

The next hour was permanently and indelibly engraved on his mind. Jim’s tongue first explored his mouth and then invited his tongue to follow it back to Jim’s mouth. The taste was a bit strange, but not disagreeable, and the sounds they both made were addictive. Putting his arms around his Sentinel, he brought them closer, trading tongues back and forth as the kisses grew sloppier and more emphatic.

Then, they stopped as Jim went to his feet, pulling Blair up with him. "Shower?" he managed to ask. Blair nodded and allowed Jim to lead him. Jim made quick work of removing his own clothing, leaving only his boxers. Then, slowly, he removed Blair’s shirt and then went to his knees to pull off shoes and socks, finally unzipping the pants, pulling them down and encouraging Blair to step out of them. Little kisses were placed all over his body, and as Jim stood, purposely allowing his body to glide up Blair’s, Blair couldn’t help but cum, helplessly, in his boxers, knees suddenly refusing to hold him up as Jim reached out to pull him close.

"I’m sorry," he said, quietly, blushing. He couldn’t help it; it had felt so good. But he’d ruined it.

But Jim cupped his chin carefully and turned his head up so that they could look each other in the eye, "Why are you sorry? Frankly, I’m pretty flattered. And we’re not done, don’t worry about that."

Leaning up for a kiss, and then keeping in eye contract, Blair took Jim’s words to heart and tried to slow his breathing. Their lips met and Blair felt the stirring of another erection already growing, rubbing against the hardness in Jim’s boxers. So, no, not over.

Jim had actually been not only pleased, but relieved. Nineteen year old stamina would bring him back, but that first orgasm would surely help to relax him. A bit of kissing was enjoyable, but then Jim encouraged the younger man to remove his own boxers by taking off his own. He turned on the shower, setting the water to warm, but not hot, and climbed in, reaching out and pulling Blair in as well.

By a kind of unspoken agreement, they washed each other, using soft cloths and their own hands. Jim found that Blair’s nipples weren’t actually all that sensitive, but that his ears were and the hollow point at the front of his neck. Blair found that Jim liked it when he alternately licked and blew on his chest, anywhere, and that Jim did have very sensitive nipples.

Finally, feeling bolder, Blair reached out and wrapped his hand around Jim’s cock, letting the soap smooth his way. Jim almost came right then. A series of involuntary groans fell from his mouth and his head fell back against the wall. "That’s it, Baby. Like that. A little faster." Blair smiled softly, looking first down, watching his hand, and then up at Jim’s pleasure contorted face. He was doing this! He was making Jim happy.

Just before the water got too cold, Jim came, bending over Blair’s hand and gasping, "Oh! Oh, oh, oh," trying to keep his feet. Blair reached out to steady him and then turned off the water. The two men climbed out of the tub and dried each other carefully, Jim paying special attention to Blair’s curls.

Finally, the two began kissing again, moving while they did so toward the stairs up to the bedroom. They turned their faces from one another for the trip up the stairs, no sense in injuring themselves, and then lay together on top of the smooth white comforter on the king-size bed. Caresses and kisses grew steadily more heated until Jim pulled his Guide close and then turned onto his back. "Rock against me," he whispered, encouraging Blair’s hands to the bed on either side of him. He’d have turned them the other way, but he was being careful not to make Blair feel too vulnerable or submissive this first time.

Feeling his cock slid alongside Jim, silky hardness against silky hardness, Blair caught on quickly, hips rocking back in forth in a rhythm that no one had to teach him and that Jim began to copy. "Oh, Jim. Jim. Feels. Feels good. Love…love you, Jim."

Hands moving ceaselessly in caresses across Blair’s back and chest, Jim had just enough breath to answer, "Oh, yeah, feels good. Love you, Blair."

Then, shortly thereafter, they both came and a blinding light flashed behind their eyes as orgasm and Bond joined to seal them in body, heart, and soul. And they fell asleep, Blair still partially lying across Jim’s chest, Jim’s arms still holding Blair close.

END

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