Finding, Keeping, Losing, Weeping 2
Warnings: AU. Xover. Angst. WiP.
Authors Notes: Blair held his press conference to denounce himself and his work, but Simon, Jim, and Megan were not shot, and no one has offered Blair a badge. Post-TSbBS. Spoilers for S2 and other episodes. A much shorter version of this story (which was called Sentinels) appeared in the SenA list, but this longer version will include slash. ("Sentinels" can be found here: http://brothersinarms.tvheaven.com/jayed/jayedtsgen/sentinels.html).
Disclaimers: Not mine. Just borrowed.
Prologue: As Blair and Simon headed for Seattle, carefully worded official letters were going out to the world via carefully chosen members of the press. Information on Sentinels and Guides from Hutch, from the Bay City Commissioner, from Blairs dissertation, and from all the family histories had been included.
The advantage to being detectives was that Starsky and Hutch knew how to find where the young man was to be found. They contacted their own Police Commissioner, who had known about them for a good dozen years. He contacted the Cascade Commissioner who, although somewhat stunned, got in touch with Banks.
Simon Banks was a gold mine of information and was more than happy to share what he knew. He realized that the secret was well and truly out now. His best bet to help his friends rested with the two men whod been recommended so highly. He spent a good half an hour on the phone with the Lead Pair on speaker phone. Starsky could have listened in without it, of course, but Banks would not have been able to hear what he had to say.
So. It comes to this, Simon, Hutch said at last, What does Jim want? He paused and then continued, And what does Blair want?
Thats the problem. Im positive that Jim wants Blair, but Im also very much aware that he doesnt want to want him. Jim doesnt want to be dependent, to admit he needs someone. Hes spent the last four years alternately clinging and shoving, protecting and harming. Sometimes Ive been surprised by which way things have gone. I really thought that Blairs death would have made a bigger difference, but things have been pretty bad since then. After a brief silence, he continued, Blair? He wants Jim. But he thinks he cant have him. You know Simon paused and ran a tired hand across his face as he gathered his thoughts, I dont think Blair has ever given himself enough credit for all the work hes had to do and has done. I think hes a Guide who wants and needs a Sentinel.
Starsky sighed. I think that story about the fountains pretty incredible, but ya gotta admit that that shoulda done the trick. He paused. We want Blair in Seattle. The unbonded Sentinels have gathered to meet him. Suddenly, he had a quick flashback to his own first Joining with Hutch. Reaching out, he took Hutchs hand in his own and raised it softly to his lips. Hutch leaned silently against his Sentinel, smiling broadly and putting his head briefly on the other mans shoulder.
Simon sighed audibly. Is there anything I can do? Should he have an agent? A companion? A bodyguard? He paused, A friend?
Simon thought briefly. He remembered every time Blair had stepped up for him. Yes, he said, clearly and simply. I am.
After a few more caveats, suggestions, and mutual compliments, the three men hung up the phones.
First impressions are generally important. In the world of Sentinels and Guides, first impressions are more than that. They are crucial to the future relationship between individuals and Pairs. Some of the unbonded ignored this; some knew it well.
Two of the unbonded Sentinels, Ann Fisher and Rose Little, actually lived and worked together. Historically, some rare female Sentinels had shared their duties with one another, allowing one to be pregnant--and to pass on their vital genes--while the other patrolled. This harmonious modern Pairs relationship gave the Sentinels another view of their relationship with one another. It wasnt all territorial; they could work together, and not just briefly, as at this gathering. Additionally, the historical Sentinels had shared one Guide between them, and the two women appeared to be amenable to the idea, if the Guide was.
Prepubescent Sentinels were also not considered a threat by any Sentinels. This allowed older Pairs to not only tolerate, but to train their potential successors. Even as students grew, they would not be seen as rivals or dangerous. Thus, the most popular Sentinel among the unbonded was Angie Rosselini, the eleven year old Italian-American Sentinel. The other teen Sentinels also had little trouble feeling accepted by the group, even the rather large football player, high school senior Patrick McTeague. It helped, of course, that they were all accompanied by parents and on their best behavior, but Sentinels, protectors all, would always find a reason to look after children.
Lloyd Weston, on the other hand, made himself quite unpopular through his sense of entitlement. He seemed to believe that as the oldest unbonded Sentinel, he was entitled to a first shot at the Guide. He was astonished and furious when the others didnt agree with him. He would bear watching.
Worse, despite all the instructions and common sense, Sherman Coates made unwelcome and somewhat astonishing overtures to Jesse Travis, trying and failing to be subtle about it. Travis responded by immediately retreating to his Sentinels back and plastering himself there, wrapping his arms around Steve Sloans still trim waist. This not only allowed Travis to feel the comfort of his Sentinels presence, but it also kept said Sentinel from rearranging the anatomy of the foolish Coates. This minor crisis soon involved not only Sloan and Travis and the Lead Pair, but all of the other bonded Guides. Coates was warned not to repeat his mistake.
When Tony DiNozzo and Jethro Gibbs arrived, the latter experienced a momentary pang when he realized that the youngest Sentinel, Angie, looked rather like his deceased daughter. Rather than coming in to meet with the Sentinels immediately, DiNozzo made their apologies, blaming the difficulties of travel, and took his stressed Guide up to their room for a brief rest and a chance to regain his composure. Gibbs hated to accept the solicitude, but he had come to respect his Sentinels need to care for him, and, when he could, when he really did need it, he acquiesced. A good long nap wrapped around each other helped each man to regain his composure. They were able to join the group by the time several of the other Pairs had arrived.
Sabrina Duncan and John Bosley didnt experience any traumas in their initial meeting with the unbonded Sentinels, and Bosley soon found himself happily sharing some of the more interesting stories in his repertoire with this new and appreciative audience. At the ripe old age of seventy, he was the oldest living member of a Pair. The fact that he was almost twenty years older than his Sentinel was something the two of them had come to terms with, and the vast disparity in their ages gave hope to Sentinels whose ages were significantly different than Blairs own thirty years. Unfortunately, it also reinforced some of Westons plans.
Showing his complete idiocy, Coates took one look at the very mismatched appearing Pair of Vin Tanner and Ezra Standish and made his final mistake of the Gathering. He had, apparently, paid no attention to any of the previous warnings. His sensitive nose picked up the expensive cologne worn by Standish and the good wine hed had with his last meal. It also picked up on the dirt and sweat on Tanners outfit and his more plebian taste in food and beverage. Walking boldly up to Ezra, he announced that Vin was the wrong Sentinel for a Guide with Ezras clearly refined tastes. As he finished speaking, he reached over and actually put his hands on Ezras shoulders, leaning over him proprietarily.
It only took Standish a moment or two to overcome his surprise. Then a few well-placed strikes put Coates on the ground, writhing in pain, one hand on an imminent shiner and the other on his seriously outraged genitals. Next, in a move reminiscent of Jesses earlier in the day, he moved rapidly to put himself at the back of his Sentinel, both asking and giving comfort. Jesse, seeing Ezras actions and realizing the cause (although hed missed the beginning of the incident), returned swiftly to Steves back. The two importuned Guides then steered their Sentinels from the Meeting Room, whispering reassurances and love.
The other Pairs surrounded Coates, lying on the ground whimpering, and the Lead Pair, who had moved immediately to his sides. Hutch had already acquired a couple of ice bags. The other unbonded Sentinels were asked to return to their rooms for the time being, and, still in shock, they all retreated lest Coates should somehow taint them or their chances.
As a bit of intelligence returned to Coates eyes, Hutch stared at him intently. Coates, you were warned. We gave you the word before the Pairs came. We gave you a strong warning when you tried your little trick with Jesse. What the Hell made you make a serious play for Ezra? Are you stupid or crazy? He paused. Actually, it doesnt matter which. When you feel up to standing, I want you to get your belongings and leave the hotel and go home. Dont cause any more trouble. For Gods sake, dont try to talk to any more Guides.
With that as his last word as Lead Shaman, Hutch took Starsky to go and talk to the unbonded Sentinels. This kind of thing was not unheard of, but it was damned distressing for everyone. Taking a semi-liberty as Lead Sentinel, Starsky had made a quick check-in with the two stressed Pairs. With Hutch as anchor, hed learned to hear through the white noise generators. It wasnt voyeurism, nor was it considered such by the others. It was the necessary monitoring by the Leads. Grinning, Starsky was able to report that each Pair was happily engaged in activities that allowed each of the four men to focus solely on his Partner.
As expected, the other Sentinels had not retreated to their rooms alone. They had gathered together in a few small groups, talking about Coates and Blair and their own individual anxieties. Their families and friends were with them, trying to keep up their spirits amidst the stresses of the day. The youngest Sentinels were particularly affected by the undercurrents of the interactions surrounding them.
Before Blair even reached the hotel, most of the Sentinels, Bonded and not, knew he was near. The unbonded Sentinels were given admonishments and encouragement to settle down. The Guides of the Bonded Sentinels worked with them to get their senses back under their control. Blair was clearly agitated and still unsure about what he was doing. The Bonded Pairs all looked knowingly at one another. They would have to be careful with him. It would be ludicrous if they found a Guide and then lost him to nerves, fright, or misunderstanding.
For his part, Blair was overwhelmed. He was still reeling from the situation with Jim and with the knowledge that Simon had not only talked to the Commissioner about him, but that he had also begun to act as an Intermediary between Blair and all the other Sentinels. As he and Simon were getting settled in a pre-paid suite, he spoke emphatically, I know you can all hear me. Im going to ask you all to keep yourselves from listening to me tonight. I need some time to think before I see you all. I do not want you to imprint on my heartbeat. I expect you to comply with this request.
Picking up the request, the Leads reinforced it.
How did you know that they were all listening?
They wouldnt have been able to help themselves. Im not only a Guide; Im an untrained Shaman. They are all doubly drawn to me. He looked at Simon, his expressive face moving from elation to confusion to grief to confidence. Oh, God, Simon, what the hell am I doing here?
To be continued