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Sentinel Shift

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Sentinel Shift

 

by Krisser

“Jim, I think you’d better see this,” Blair called to his partner.

Alerted by something in his guide’s voice, Cascade’s Sentinel walked around to Blair’s desk. “Whatcha got?” He stood behind him, looking down over his shoulder.

The unusually quiet man pointed to his computer screen. His latest email message was still open. “This is actually the third one I’ve received.”

Jim read the short message. –

Subj: Your destiny

Date:6/17 /00 2:31pm Pacific Daylight Time

From:urminenow@dolling.net

To: Blair

I’m dissatisfied at your lack of progress. Do you lack belief in my sincerity? I will prove it, if that is what you need. Your destined one.-

“Do you have the other two?” At face value, it wasn’t very threatening, but on a different level, the Blessed Protector knew there was a threat to his guide. He rested his hand on Blair’s shoulder as he brought up the other already opened mail.

Blair double clicked to open the other two emails.

Subj: Your destiny

Date:6/15 /00 9:20am Pacific Daylight Time

From:urminenow@dolling.net

To: Blair

I’ve finally unencumbered myself and can now devote myself to you.

Subj: Your destiny

Date:6/16 /00 4:57pm Pacific Daylight Time

From:urminenow@dolling.net

To: Blair

It’s now your turn to free yourself for me.

“I answered this latest one today. Just told him to leave me alone. I ignored the other two.” He explained.

The older detective sat down next to his partner. “On the surface they seem innocuous, but I don’t think they are. We need to keep watch, I think this person could pose a real threat to you.” Jim moved closer to his guide as he heard a distinct growl in his mind.

“I did try a back trace, but he is using public terminals. None the same as the last.” Blair said as he watched his partner print out the three emails.

“Let me know if more come in.” Jim patted his guide’s shoulder.

Jim found excuses to stay close to Sandburg the rest of the day. When anyone came in the bullpen, Jim moved in front of Blair, blocking all view of his partner to other’s eyes. The behavior was noted by the Major Crimes staff but ignored as the detective was always protective of his partner. That hadn’t changed even when said partner became a detective himself.

That night at the loft, Jim felt a nagging urge to stay close to his guide. They watched a jags game after dinner and the Blessed Protector stayed up with his roommate, watching a documentary about a remote Chinese village.

Blair teased his partner, “Didn’t know you were interested in cultural anthropology, Jim?”

“I have more interests than you think, Darwin,” was the off-hand reply.

“You look tired.” Blair told him in a serious tone.

“Yea, kinda, but too restless to sleep.”

Blair let the false response slide, as the man was the picture of relaxation. Legs stretched out, torso slid half way down couch. Real restless looking.

The guide shut off the TV at the show’s conclusion and cleaned off the coffee table. “Are we hitting the gym before work tomorrow?”

Jim’s brow squenched in confusion.

“Softball game right after work, remember?” Blair reminded him.

“Oh yeah, fine. I’ll wake ya.” Jim now felt even more disturbed. Blair would be so exposed, he’d have to stay close.

The Sentinel checked the locks of the doors and windows one last time before going upstairs. He listened to his guide’s heartbeat fall into it’s sleep rhythm before allowing himself sleep too.

Upon waking, the Sentinel checked the perimeter with his senses. All was the same as last night. He felt a calming relief at the ordinariness of the morning. Jim showered then woke Blair.

Work cruised by easily with an overload of paperwork keeping the partners busy and tied to their desks.

The afternoon special delivery to Blair ruined the atmosphere for all of Major Crimes.

A freshly dead rat.

Jim’s muffled curses and Blair’s face drained of all color, forced the pair to explain to their co-workers about the harassment.

“Blair, this is serious, you should have told us when it started,” Joel told his young friend.

The newest detective in Major Crimes smiled, “I really didn’t think much about it until yesterday. Then I told Jim.”

Jim was investigating the box and carcass with all his senses.

H was already working on the delivery company. “Damn. It was a routine pick up for delivery from a scheduled stop. The entire company just leaves their packages out in a public area for pick up. The perp may not even work there.” Brown’s disappointment showed in his slumped shoulders.

Jim looked over at Henry, “You might want to get a list of the persons that left packages for pick up and determine if the package originated there. Eliminate that place if nothing else. We don’t have much to work with here.”

H and his partner, Rafe agreed. They left straight away.

Captain Banks returned from his lunch with the Mayor and noted the concentration of his staff centered about Sandburg’s desk. He made his way over. “A Captain can only hope that this impromptu meeting is about work?” Banks said it as though he believed otherwise.

“It is Captain. Blair is being stalked and Jim’s life has been threatened.” Connor shared with the tall commander.”

“Why wasn’t I told of this immediately?” Simon demanded, covering up his concern for the Kid.

“Well, Captain,” Blair explained, “The dead rat just arrived. So you haven’t missed much.” The Anthropologist, turned detective, tried to appear more unconcerned than he was as he spoke to his boss.

Jim looked up from the container that he had been studying to address his friend, “Combine the rat with the emails, I think that we’re dealing with a real threat to Sandburg’s life.” Jim’s voice didn’t hide any of the anxiety he was feeling.

It wasn’t difficult for Simon to see that Jim had gone into Blessed Protector mode. He hadn’t removed that hand resting on the Kid’s shoulder since he got back.

The ding of the elevator not only had Jim blocking Blair from view, but Joel and Connor moved to block the pair from sight.

Rhonda couldn’t help but wonder what disaster had befallen Blair as she noted the bull pen’s reaction as she exited the elevator.

The protectors only relaxed slightly.

Jim was all for Blair missing the softball game, but the man in question refused.

“Jim, I will have most of Major Crimes there. The best of the police force, where else would I be safer?” Blair asked Jim and turned to everyone with a pleading look.

Jim thought to himself, ‘With me at the loft,’ but he said nothing aloud.

Forty five minutes later Brown and Rafe returned with no new information. “The rat package was unaccounted for. Sorry, Jimbo,” H told the detective.

Jim rechecked the box, the packaging and the dead animal once again before sending it down to forensics.

-------------------------------

The softball game was good for the entire squad. Hitting or at least attempting to hit the ball worked out a lot of the aggression that the Major Crimes Unit was feeling.

After seven and a half innings the Major Crimes team was up by two runs. Blair was at bat and after four pitches he walked. The pitcher complained that his target was too small and said target smiled brightly at the pitcher as he almost skipped to first base. The pitcher received several universal finger signs for his comment.

Jim was up to bat next and stepped into the batter’s box. It was as he was digging his toe in that his nose picked up an odor. He quickly stepped back and out of the batter’s box so the pitcher wouldn’t hit him in the head with the softball. Increasing the dial on his sense of smell, the Sentinel concentrated on the familiar smell. He recognized it. It had been on the dead rat.

The panther growled danger loud in his mind and the primitive Sentinel took over. He dropped his bat and ran towards first where his guide was waiting on base. He paid no attention to his guide’s concerned, “Jim.” Instead he just picked him up and slung him over his shoulder as he ran to the parking lot with his cargo.

Blair’s cries of, “What the hell is happening here?” went unheeded as Jim continued at a break neck speed to his truck, Blair bouncing against his back.

All Blair could make out without the benefit of enhanced hearing was, “Danger. Must protect my guide.” Jim chanted this in time with his steps.

The Sentinel all but threw Blair into the truck. He seat belted him in and told him to keep his head down.

The guide recognized that the primitive sentinel had surfaced from his partner’s expression and did just as he asked. He could question him after they got home.

Jim drove with lights and siren until he drew close to Prospect street. The need to get his guide home and safe was paramount in the Sentinel’s mind.

-----

Back at the field, Simon explained Jim’s bizarre behavior away by reveling that Detective Sandburg had been receiving death threats and Ellison must have come across something that made him believe that his partner was in danger.

The Major Crimes detectives acted as though this occurrence was run-of-the-mill. Their casual reaction to the incident relaxed the fire department team. And well, they had all heard the rumors, that the Cop of the Year was protective of his partner, it was evidently true. They all continued the game.

Simon sent Brown to check on his two missing detectives. “I’d try the loft first,” the Captain suggested to H.

------

The Sentinel got his guide up the stairs and locked inside the loft before he let go. He pressed him up against the door and sniffed him. He started at the top of his head, checked behind the ears, traveled along the tops of the shoulders and worked the hairline ear to ear. He turned his guide to the side and sniffed all over his back, then pushed him back against the door and started down the chest. He pressed his nose tightly into Blair’s armpits, inhaling deeply, imprinting every fragrance for later. He worked his way across and down the furry chest. He stopped his frontal exploration at the belt and turned his guide away from the door again. He snuffled the firm buttocks and then his guide’s groin. The Sentinel paused again, taking in several deep breaths, cataloging the scents. He continued down his legs to his feet, checking each one individually. His guide was clear of the dangerous scent.

But it was here. He next opened Blair’s gym bag that had doubled for his sport bag. In only seconds he rutted out the offending item. A batter’s glove that had the same scent as the dead rat.

The officer part of Jim’s brain insisted that the Sentinel follow his suggestion. He went to the kitchen for a zip-lock bag and placed the foreign item in it.

Jim cocked his head to the side, running a last sensory check over his guide before asking, “Who gave it to you?” Pointing to the zip-lock bag.

Blair, understanding that his Blessed Protector and primal Sentinel were working together as one, knew to just answer the question instead of the flippant reply he’d usually give. “A guy at the field. I had dropped mine and I thought it was mine when he handed it to me. It was for the wrong hand so I went back to the dugout and got my old one out of my bag. Never thought about it. Didn’t even look at the guy. Was watching the game.” Blair tried to remember the guy’s face, “Sorry, Jim, was too focused on the pitcher, don’t remember.”

Jim paced about the front room, then froze. He cocked his head to the side, listening, “Someone’s coming,” he whispered. He grabbed his spare gun from the kitchen drawer, placed Blair behind him and waited bedside the front door.

The Sentinel relaxed at the knock, “It’s H.” He kept Blair behind him still as he opened the door.

“Jim, Blair, Simon sent me over. What the hell happened?” Brown was alive with curiosity.

Jim grabbed the zip-lock bag from the entrance table, “This is from the guy that sent the dead rat. He was there at the game. See if we can get anything off this. Tell Simon I’ll call him later.” Jim kept Sandburg behind him the entire time. Which required moving a bit back and forth as Blair kept trying to stand beside him.

Brown recognized the no nonsense look etched on Ellison’s face and just nodded to the detective. He looked around the big man at Blair, “You okay, Hairboy?”

Smiling, Blair answered, “Yup. You know him, better safe than sorry,” pointing to his partner, trying to assure his fellow detective, pleased at the concern that was apparent.

Jim locked the door behind Brown. The Sentinel moved quickly about the loft, checking the windows and drawing the shades. He checked his guide’s room and didn’t like the exposure with its first floor access. He determined that Blair would sleep upstairs.

Jim listened as his guide entered the bathroom and turned the water on. He took the chicken out of the fridge and started dinner. The anxious man made a salad to keep his hands busy. What he wanted to do was rush into the bathroom and recheck his guide, but he knew that his partner would think him obsessive. It was just so that he could shake the feeling that danger surrounded his friend, he assured himself.

-------

Simon called at the Jags half time.

“We didn’t get any fingerprints off the glove, dirt smudged everything, including Blair’s.” The Captain paused, then asked, “What spooked you out there?”

“The same scent that was on the dead rat was there. He was there, Simon. It’s a very real threat.” Jim’s voice conveyed how serious he was taking this.

“We all think this is a real threat, Jim. Don’t doubt that or us.” Simon knew that the Blessed Protector was in control, but it was imperative that the detective know that he wasn’t alone in protecting Sandburg. “Don’t exclude us, we will be with you on this. No one stalks one of our own.”

“Thank you, Simon.” Jim put down the phone knowing that Blair had overheard most of the conversion.

“They get anything?” He asked.

“Nothing. Simon is taking the threat seriously,” Jim told his partner, pacing the length of the loft much like his animal spirit would.

In an attempt to distract his roommate’s thoughts, “You wanna do the gym early again. It’s way less crowded?”

Jim stopped in place, “I think we should just stay here tomorrow.”

Exasperated, “Jim, we can’t stop living. We can’t give into the guy. You wouldn’t if you were the stalkee.” Blair tried to reason with the stubborn Sentinel.

“I’m not the guide. A Sentinel must protect the guide. I won’t forget that again.” Jim made eye contact with Blair and the guide recognized the depth of sincerity Jim put behind his words.

“Jim, our best shot of catching him is by functioning normal and waiting for him.” Blair walked over to his concerned friend, laying his hand on the bare arm, “I trust you, Jim. We can do this together.”

Jim always found it difficult to deny the request those large blue eyes made of him.

“Gym before work,” the big man conceded. Then decided to trade one compromise for another. “You sleep upstairs ‘til we apprehend him.

Blair wanted to refuse on several grounds, but looking at the fear on his partner’s face, he knew that Jim would get no sleep otherwise. He nodded reluctantly. It was hell being the guide.

Jim locked up as Blair brushed his teeth. The guardian took care of his nightly routine as Blair changed into his tank top and boxers.

Blair followed Jim up the stairs, his protector indicated that he was to take the side furthest from the stairs. No surprise there. As Blair crawled in and faced his edge, his thoughts dwelled on how this wasn’t the way he dreamed of being in Jim’s bed. A Sandburg tale of woe.

He hooked his arm through the railing, hoping that he wouldn’t embarrass himself in his sleep by draping himself over the body he’d been lusting after.

Jim turned so he could face Sandburg’s back. He took a deep breath, filling himself with his guide’s scent. He was ridiculously pleased with himself, getting his guide close to him. He concentrated on the known heartbeat and followed it into sleep.

---------

The panther beckoned, refusing to let the Sentinel stray too far back. The feline set a furious pace and it was all that the Sentinel could do to keep up. Questions later.

They entered a clearing where he could make out a lump at the far side. His panther ran unerringly for it. The scent of blood assailed his senses. He recognized who the blood belonged to; his guide. He ran faster.

There before him, caught in a wolf trap was his guide. The pain filled blue eyes opened, begging for help before they closed, head slumping forward. He reached to check his guide as the panther roar woke him.

He reached over and grabbed Blair tightly to him, checking, needing to feel the heart beat, see his chest move with breaths.

As Jim focused on the regular heart beats of his guide, sleepy eyes opened in confusion. Blair could hear the accelerated heart beat of his Sentinel, the hard chest was pressed against his ear.

“You were killed in a wolf trap.” In a shaken, panicky voice, he revealed the worst part of his dream.

Blair stroked his partner’s arm, “I’m okay, Jim. Check for yourself. See, I’m fine.”

The Sentinel focused his senses on his guide. He located the familiar heart beat. He followed the blood rushing to that very heart. He pressed his nose into Blair’s neck. The customary scent was without fear or the odor of death attached. The Sentinel relaxed but didn’t remove his arms.

“You’re okay, Blair, you’re okay.” He said it as if Blair had been the one that had the nightmare.

The younger man made himself relax within the embrace, enjoying the feel of being snuggled against the keeper of his heart.

Jim kept a vigilant watch over his guide for the rest of the night.

-------

The normalcy of their work-out helped both men to enter Major Crimes in a better frame of mind. Simon yelling, “Ellison, Sandburg,” upon their arrival was in its own way comforting too.

Their assignment wasn’t.

The Captain’s first sentence was all the indication needed, “The Mayor has requested our help on a case that should have gone to homicide. But it’s our lucky day, gentleman, the victim is a friend of the mayor’s son and he wants our best assigned to the case. That means you two.” Banks watched his detectives roll their eyes, already imagining the press interaction.

“Sir, the Mayor hates me,” Jim reminded his captain.

“Irregardless, he still wants the best detective team in Cascade on it.”

“What are the particulars?” Sandburg asked, yet again deflecting the conversation.

“Jason Loftus, nineteen, was found dead in his dorm room. University of Washington. M.E. did a tox screen and said no drugs.”

“And the Mayor wants us involved?” Jim asked wearily.

“Loftus spent a lot of time at the Mayor’s house growing up. He wants to be able to tell his son what happened.” Banks rubbed his head.

“Does the Mayor think his son is involved?” Blair asked gently.

“No, Dustin is away at college. U Conn. Doesn’t even know yet,” Banks supplied. “They’ve got the crime scene awaiting you.” His look asked, why are you still here.

The detective team of Ellison – Sandburg spent the rest of the morning and afternoon investigating

Cause of death was blunt trauma to the back of the head. After talking to numerous friends of the deceased and his roommate, the team went in search of the roommate’s girlfriend. They located her in the Tech building cafeteria.

“Miss Sims?” Jim asked, badge out.

A curly redhead turned, “Yes, can I help you?”

Jim noted that her heart rate went off the scale, but her face remained composed.

“How well did you know Jason Loftus?” Blair asked as he realized that his partner was monitoring her responses.

Sincerely surprised, “Jason? Why do you want to know about Jason?” She looked puzzled.

“It’s routine to speak to people that knew the deceased.” Blair explained, thoughts leaping ahead.

Michelle Sims jumped up shocked, “When did Jason die? Was it the same person that killed Tony?” She looked directly at Blair.

Jim interjected, “Tony Alponse? Well he was just fine when we left him not twenty minutes ago.” Jim listened to her increased respirations and heart rate.

“Oh shit.” Michelle Sims sat down hard.

Blair sat down beside her and gently put his hand on her shoulder. “You thought it was Tony lying in bed this morning. Their hair color and style are similar from the back.”

The distraught student put her head down hard on her hands, clunking the table top. She tried to contain her sobs, “Oh not Jason, I didn’t mean…..”

Ellison pulled out his phone and called the locals to come and make the arrest. It was their jurisdiction. He asked Blair after she was escorted away, “Why’d she want Tony dead?”

His partner answered sadly, “Because he had told her she wasn’t a forever kinda girl.”

--------

The Mayor was pleased at the rapid solution to the Loftus case. Reinforcing again why he demanded Cascade’s best.

Simon was pleased because it was always good to have a high solution rate to back up his requests.

The efficient team work between the partners relaxed the Sentinel and he was almost chatty on the return trip. He was able to put the threat to his guide on the back burner. They stopped for Cuban food before returning to the precinct to do their report.

Jim knew the second that his partner opened his email that there was something unpleasant. He was behind Blair in a flash.

The sound of a wounded animal had Connor’s attention and she signaled Taggert.

Jim read: My Blair, I will not leave you alone. I know you were forced to write that. We are meant to be together. I’ve smelt your arousal, I know it is for me alone.

That pitiful excuse for a shadow must be lost. Forcing you to be away from where you’re needed most, it is too antiquated for your greatness.

If you do not deal with your shadow, I will. Your destined one.

Brown unaware of the new message called out, “Sandburg, line two.”

Rotely, the detective reached out for the phone, “Sandburg.”

A voice oozed over the wires, “Ba-lair. I know you’re as anxious as I to be together…so why is the Neanderthal still with you?”

Blair pointed to the phone and mouthed, “Trace call, it’s him.”

Jim focused his hearing, resisting the urge to rip the phone out of his guide’s hands and smash it against the wall.

Blair placed his hand on his Sentinel’ arm so he wouldn’t zone. Into the phone he said, “What’s your name?” He kept his voice reasonable even though his stomach was in knots.

“Ah, Ba-lair, I know you’re just trying to fool that parasite partner. You would never forget me. I’ve been waiting so long to free myself for you. I’m done, it’s your turn.” The nasally voice stopped and seemed to be waiting for an answer.

“My partner is important. I really can’t have you threatening him. Why don’t you just deal with us?”

“US. I knew you felt the same.”

Joel signaled that they had a lock on the trace. A public phone, two blocks away. Connor and Taggert were out like a shot. Jim was still fixed on the actual conversation between the stalker and his guide.

“My Blair, you are my destiny as I am yours. You are mine.” The voice went from seductive to outraged, “You’ve sent cops after me.” The line was disconnected.

Jim moved right next to his guide, hands on shoulders. The claim from the trespasser that HIS guide belonged to him was inflammatory. Blair was his. His guide. His partner. His.

The phone rang again and Jim grabbed it, “Ellison.”

“Jim. Taggert. He was gone when we got here, faded into the crowd. We’re waiting on forensics to dust for prints. Maybe we can get a name.”

The frustrated growl escaping Jim’s throat reverberated throughout all of the seventh floor.

Simon emerged from his office at the fierce sound. Noting the protective stance Ellison had over the Kid, the Captain approached cautiously.

Blair quickly filled the boss in as Jim said nothing, just stood, guarding.

“Jim, take your partner home.” Simon all but commanded, trying to break through to the cop.

Jim turned his head to the side as he focused on his older friend, “Simon, can you stay with Sandburg for a couple? I need to pick up something from requisitions.”

“Geez, Jim, I don’t need a babysitter!” Sandburg thought this was too much.

Ignoring his guide completely, “Simon, please.”

“Okay, Jim. Go.” Simon waited for the elevator doors to close shut. “Sandburg, it’s just easier to agree when Jim gets like this.” Changing his tone, “You okay?”

Resigned, “Yeah, this has just pushed all the Blessed Protector buttons. I wished they’d caught the guy at the phone booth.”

Banks nodded, knowing that Jim would get increasingly more protective each day this dragged on.

Fifteen minutes later, Jim was back, hands empty. “Thanks, Simon. Let’s go Chief.”

Blair picked up his backpack and followed his Sentinel out, feeling like he was trailing after his darn babysitter.

They picked up Thai food on the way home. Jim just wanted his guide home where he could protect him best. When there, Jim handed the food over to Blair after he locked his side. Then reached into the bed of his truck to take out two of the four boxes he had placed there.

Before they entered the building, the Sentinel checked out the area with his hearing, vision and sense of smell. He gave a hard nod indicating it was safe. Blair felt like were on maneuvers.

Jim did a second cursory check of the inside, double checking, before allowing his guide to enter. He took the boxes upstairs as Blair headed for the bathroom.

Jim went back down to the truck for the other two boxes and carried them upstairs to his bedroom also. Taking his knife out of his pocket, he cut open the boxes and removed the contents of all four.

Blair let the hot water run over his body, loving how he felt more purified with each gallon. He realized that he wouldn’t fight Jim on the sleeping arrangements tonight, he felt decidedly spooked with the phone call. The voice’d had an unfocused menace behind it. The man was mad. He had acted like their paths had crossed before. The scientist part of him knew he should let his brain run with that, but the man wasn’t ready to let his thoughts mingle with a mad man tonight.

When he felt the water start to get cooler, Blair knew he had lost himself in his thoughts. Not only did he want to sleep in Jim’s bed, he wanted to be cuddled in the big man’s arms. Blair dried his body, realizing that even if Jim held him, it was just the Sentinel guarding his guide and not the man himself that would hold and protect him.

The clean man put on worn but comfortable sweats and an old t-shirt of Jim’s. He heard Jim up in his room, so Sandburg turned for the kitchen to lay out dinner.

He called up to Jim and received no answer. He knew his Sentinel could hear him. He stepped out of the kitchen to call out louder only to see the railing of the upstairs room lined with kevlar vests, no light between the one. The Blessed Protector was definitely in control.

After food and a Jags game the two men decided to hit the hay, as Blair still insisted on going to the gym before work.

Jim completed his nightly routine as Blair crawled into the big bed. His nostrils were filled with the odor of the new vests. He turned to watch his protector check the loft once more before coming up the stairs.

Jim crawled in beside his partner and looked his partner over. Thoughts of must protect my guide filled his brain and he growled, “Sleep now, Chief. You’re safe. I’ll stand guard.”

Protesting, “Jim, you need your sleep too, buddy. We’re fine here and even machine gun fire will bounce off the number of vests you have here."”

“Not a joke. That man wants my guide. My guide, you’re mine. I protect what’s mine.” The growling might have sounded ridiculous if it weren’t for the tone of the words or the accompanying body language.

Still, Blair tried to lighten the atmosphere. “You make me sound like Nell needing to be saved from Snidely Whiplash.”

Jim grabbed his guide and pulled him close, placing his mouth next to Blair’s ear, “Not a joke. My guide. Go to sleep.” He turned Blair onto his side and spooned up behind him. One arm was draped over the hard chest and the other propped the Sentinel’s head up. As his guide’s heartbeat settled into its sleep rhythm, the Blessed Protector let the scent of his guide wash over him, filling him with a comfort that only Blair could give him.

Using his training of old, Jim only half slept, part of his mind stayed on ready alert.

--------

The feline butted against him, forcing him forward. The jungle gave way to a clearing that held a large house and gardens. There in the middle of the lawn was a circus cage. Inside lay a wolf caught within a trap. The howl begged for help. The black cat and Sentinel ran to the cage. The howl became a whimper as the wolf morphed into his guide, eyes begged for freedom before he succumbed to the fatal injuries.

Jim started awake grabbing the form within his arms tightly. He opened his hearing wide to catch the heartbeat as quickly as possible. His first decent breath came only after he ascertained that his guide was still alive and safe.

The protector didn’t close his eyes during what was left of the night.

Blair woke to the instant knowledge that Jim had suffered another nightmare. The shear way he was being held told the observant man much.

Taking a deep breath, “I die again?” Blair asked Sentinel soft.

‘Um huh. In the trap within a circus cage.” The anxious man took a long, deep breath of Blair. Nose wedged in the hair under his left ear. The scent bathed his soul the way no words could.

Both men subdued by the vision-dream went about their morning routines in silence. The gym helped, but was unable to restore either man completely.

------

The bull-pen was buzzing and the team of Sandburg and Ellison hoped for a case to distract them. Unfortunately, what was waiting for them, on Blair’s desk, was a gold foil flower box with Blair’s name on top.

A deep throated growl emanated from the Sentinel. “It’s from the stalker,” Jim grounded out.

Sandburg put on latex gloves before opening the unwanted gift. Ellison and Brown did likewise.

Two thornless red roses lay inside. The roses were thornless only because the thorns had been broken off. Next to the stem-ends lay a small box addressed to ‘the Neanderthal’. Jim opened it carefully and found the missing thorns. The card that lay under the roses said only: We started here.

H told Blair as Jim examined the box more thoroughly, “Already called the florist. It was a cash payment by a man. He had on a hat and dark glasses. He paid extra for the thorns to be removed. He never touched the box, roses or the card. The young kid that took the order said the tip was so large he was glad to comply to the odd request. All we have is that he’s approximately five feet ten.” The detective was disappointed with the lack of information.

Knowing the culprit had not touched the box or contents, Jim desisted with his perusal. All he had was the slight odor about the container. The scent kept him on edge and the cat snarl in his head persisted.

Brown and Rafe went to the florist shop to pick up the surveillance video. It provided no leads. The man’s back was to the camera the entire time and his hands were never in view. Frustrated, Jim growled loudly.

Simon kept the pair working on back paperwork. Jim’s protector mode was on triple time and the Captain didn't want to chance Ellison over reacting to external forces regarding his partner.

Jim hovered. Blair tried to remember that all aspects of the Blessed Protector were in effect, but being followed to the john was over the top. Jim all but stuffed him under his desk each time the elevator pinged. He felt like a yo-yo.

On a good day, Jim’s personal communicative skills were lacking, in Sentinel protector mode they were practically non-existent. Growls and snarls associated with his spirit animal were all that the man seemed capable of issuing.

Blair tried to keep Jim focused on the forms at hand, but his partner spent most of his time covertly watching all the others in the office, searching for threats to his guide. Personal space became shared space.

When Joel and Megan rushed back into the bull-pen upon hearing of the newest threat to Blair, Jim pushed his guide into the corner beside the copy machine they were using at the time.

Megan looked amused, Joel was hurt and Blair was angry. He pushed Jim back. “Jim, these are our friends. They won’t hurt me. Please, don’t over react.” Blair went forward towards Joel, only to have his back completely covered by the Sentinel.

“Sorry, Joel,” the big man grunted.

Blair smiled. “He’s a tad over protective.”

Joel nodded, “Yeah, we probably rushed in too fast. Sorry about that, Jim.” The dark man then focused his full attention on his friend, “You okay, Blair?”

Jim didn’t move, he found himself almost jealous of the tone that Taggert was using with his guide. He watched and waited to remove his guide in the face of Joel trying to take what was his.

Blair patted Joel on the arm as he reassured him that he was fine and that Jim was in over-drive in the protection department. Jim was about to tear Blair away from the physical contact with Joel when he heard the big man agree that Jim was right in not taking the threats lightly and that it was better to be over cautious than not enough. Jim puffed up and almost purred. Joel could stay close. He was okay.

Captain Banks caught the tail end of this particular drama and decided that Jim would feel better to get his partner home. After announcing such, he was dazzled with the speed in which his order was complied with. Pretty much before anyone could draw a complete breath, Jim and Blair were gone.

Simon might have felt better if not fifteen minutes later he had a call from Blair that notified him that all four of the tires on the Volvo were slashed to ribbons. So not only did he have to post a police watch over the Prospect residence, Jim would be unable to relax. Maybe they should just stay home tomorrow.

------

The loft was finally a quiet place. Forensics had taken detailed information as Jim growled that he could smell the stalker. Blair had to pull him inside so the officers could do their job. The Captain came out himself to take the report, understanding more fully the condition Jim was probably in.

The note under the front passenger tire was unsettling. –I will be your taxi, no one else can be trusted with your safety. Your destined one.- Jim took it as an implied insult to his guarding capabilities. He failed once, he won’t again.

Jim wouldn’t let Blair get out of arm’s reach of him at any time. Jim hovered in the kitchen. He hovered as Blair returned phone calls, he sat right next to his guide while watching TV. Blair drew the line at Jim following him into the bathroom for his shower.

He could hear Jim pace just outside the door as he soaped up. Part of him admitted he liked the constant attention from his friend. He just wished it was for a different reason. Not as the Sentinel protecting his guide, but as a man interested in his mate.

He dried off and opened the door, still toweling his hair. As he stepped out of the bathroom, he was pressed up against the wall. The towel was thrown to the floor as Jim pressed his nose into Blair’s long locks.

“Blair.” Jim breathed out after a long sniff. He sniffed his guide’s shoulder and chest, groin and legs. He revisited the groin, taking a deeper breath, appeared to pause then continued back up to Blair’s head. “Yes, all Blair. No other scent on you. Safe.”

Acute disappointment after his showering thoughts, Blair realized that the Sentinel was just checking his possession. Jim ushered him upstairs to his bed. He tucked him in.

Puzzled, Blair asked as Jim headed for the stairs, “Jim, where are you going?”

“Must stay alert. Guard. Protect.” With that, Jim headed down stairs.

Blair listened to the pacing prowl of the Sentinel cat and finally used the cadence to fall asleep to.

The Sentinel of the great City was on protection watch. No slacking in the wake of these last threats to his guide. His guide, only his. He paced the loft to and fro the entire night. Ever vigilant, ever alert.

---------

As the morning light hit him square in the face, Blair realized that they were late. He looked over at the alarm clock to see ten ten on the face. He bolted out of bed and started down the stairs and was met half way by a worried Sentinel with his gun out.

“What’s wrong, heard your heart speed up?” Jim asked as he searched the loft once more with his senses.

“Nothing except that we’re late.” Blair told him as he patted Jim’s arm.

“Hurump,” the sound sort of girgled from the throat area. “Simon called. Told us to stay home.” Jim checked the area behind his guide once more before letting him back up the stairs.

Blair pulled on some faded jeans and a flannel shirt then headed back down the stairs. “How about I whip up some breakfast?” Then under his breath, “I’m sure there is some cat chow about.”

“I heard that,” followed the laughing man downstairs.

“No kidding?”

Blair made a huge ham and cheese omelet. Jim scarfed in every morsel. “Did you rest at all?”

Jim narrowed his eyes at the implied censure, “Kept watch.”

Blair nodded. “Why don’t you take a shower. You’ll feel better. We have a guard out in front. I’ll be safe enough.”

“If you stay upstairs, surrounded by the vests.” Jim made his conditions.

Blair agreed, hoping that the hot water would relax his partner.

Their leisure was short lived. A phone call from Simon informed them that yet another package had arrived addressed to Blair.

At the station, the Sentinel checked the stairwell before the two of them proceeded up the seven flights of stairs

If the presents prior to today had set off the protection meter, just entering the bull-pen set them off ten-fold today. Jim grabbed Blair and whipped him around behind him as they neared the box. He approached cautiously, sniffing the air and growling deep in his throat. For which Blair was thankful, at least not everyone could hear the deep throated sound.

The box was unassuming, the short note lay on top of the contents. –I need you. I will fuck you. Your destined one.- And if that wasn’t bad enough, the red silk boxers underneath the note smelled like semen. Even the non-sentinel personnel of the office couldn’t mistake the odor the emerged from the box.

Jim all but roared and then lost control of the cop side and reverted to the primitive man that lurked within. He picked Blair up in a fireman carry and ran with him out of the office, down the stairs and into his truck before all of Major Crimes could finish examining the box.

After buckling his guide in the truck and getting in himself, the Sentinel grabbed on to the front of his guide’s flannel shirt and held tight for the entire drive home. The slight aroma of the semen lingered and kept the primitive at full command.

Jim all but dragged his guide up the stairs. The guide, along with being a detective for Major Crimes was an Anthropological professor too. The Anthropologist understood that the Sentinel had received a significant threat to his guide and was reacting instinctually. Blair went with the tide that was Jim Ellison, way far gone into Blessed Protector mode.

As soon as the door was locked behind them, the Sentinel cocked his head and could still smell the offending odor. The odor of the interloper was on his guide. HIS GUIDE. He pushed Blair against the wall and rubbed his body up and down Blair’s, much as a cat would do when they’re trying to rid themselves of an offending odor.

Jim rubbed and rubbed, but still a trace of the scent could be detected by the sentinel senses. So he began licking. The protector started behind the ear, where the Blair scent was very strong. He licked all about the neck and face until only his scent mixed with his guide’s was detectable. Knowing how well that worked, the Sentinel began on the chest of his guide, only to find his path encumbered by the restrictive clothing. He removed the outer and inner shirts.

He took long, wet sweeps with his tongue. He coated both sides of the shoulders with his saliva. He stopped at the left armpit. His guide’s scent was strong there, he washed it intently, combining their scents. He located the right armpit and licked there so it would match the other. He worked his way through the furry chest, stopping occasionally to rub his face and breathe in the scent. He stopped yet again at a hard nub, his cat-like curiosity had him investigate further. He licked, then sucked the little pebble which resulted in a peculiar writhing of his guide. As he wasn’t pushed away, he continued in his removal of the other scent. An identical nub was located as he crossed the wide chest and he lingered over it with great care. He finally came to the waist of his guide and once again found his way impeded by material. He undid the belt and removed the vexing articles.

He began licking at the waistline and purred his pleasure at the concentrated taste that he found there. He took great delight at the different flavors of his guide. It mattered not at this time if the affronting odor was completely eliminated, the tasting must continue. He would place his scent everywhere and all others would recognize that this guide was well and truly claimed.

The indentation at the center of the belly was delicious and he could spend hours there but forced himself to continue on. He followed the hips to the backside and began anew.

The mounds of flesh on the backside were tantalizing and he worked them plenty. He traveled down both legs with his tongue not missing a single spot. He flipped his guide over and worked from the feet back up to the groin.

At the feet, he licked between each toe, reveling in the strong scents located there. Then he moved to the knees and the inner thighs. Furry balls, much like his were fun to swallow into his mouth. The growls and moans from his guide seemed to be on the happy side. With the last ball laved and scent coated, the Sentinel saw the single glistening drop atop the firm length.

He was captivated. The long, hard shaft was leaking so he used his tongue to clean it. No sooner clean but that the leak started again. This also seemed to cause his guide to buck fervently and groan, so in cat fashion he placed a large paw on his guide’s chest to hold him down, as he devoted himself to the cleanup problem. He concentrated on the leaking shaft and engulfed it entirely. He had to calm his bucking guide before he could continue. He sucked and sucked, trying to remove all the fluid that was leaking. The taste of this fluid was intoxicating and he really wanted more for himself. He redoubled his sucking efforts until he was rewarded with a large amount of the bittersweet fluid.

His guide seemed to collapse within himself, which allowed for easier movement for further marking.

He claimed the mouth, tasting it memorizing it, leaving his scent behind. He filled in the ears, leaving his scent there and realized that he missed another an important hole. Growling, “Mine,” the Sentinel flipped his guide on to his stomach and worked his tongue down the soft furry back. He spread his guide’s legs apart and began licking at the top of the crackline. He tongued his way to the back of now scented testicles. He moved back up to the tight hole and was determined to mark it. It was for no one but him. His guide, his hole. He reached for the lube in the drawer, coating one finger before inserting in. He worked quickly, he was anxious now, he needed to claim and mark his guide so no one could steal him away. He withdrew the second finger and replaced them with his cock. He pushed in all the way with the first stroke. He held himself in place as the yelp from his guide was heard.

The need to move overwhelmed him and he pumped in and out, a roar with each upstroke increased in volume as the primitive sentinel took control. His guide now. No one would mistake it. He was claimed. As his seed bathed the inside of his guide, his yell was only damped by the bite he placed on his guide’s shoulder, further marking him as his.

The Sentinel lay down beside his guide. He threw his leg and arm over the supine body and snuggled close just as sleep claimed him. He purred, “Mine, all mine,” before the snores started.

Blair lay there dazed.

Never had he come so hard in his life. Never had he ever been so possessed. Never had it ever felt so right.

Blair sighed in sadness. He was not taken in love. Only to be marked as a possession. Blair thought about that and realized that it was still okay. He loved enough for the two of them. He had never been this close or felt so connected to anyone as he has with Jim. So, it would be enough, it would have to be. He just hoped it didn’t take a stalker to get Jim to claim him again. Blair fell asleep with the memory of Jim’s mouth wrapped around his cock.

When Blair awoke, he could tell it was late afternoon. He tried to moved and found himself pulled closer to the body that was already draped over much of his own torso. The growl of displeasure had him stop his movements.

“Jim, I need to pee.” Blair announced.

With resigned grunts the constricting hold was loosened and Blair was able to rise. As he headed down stairs, his shadow followed. When he paused, Jim stopped and started licking his neck. It sent shivers of desire through shorter man and he hurried to the bathroom before it became too difficult to pee easily.

Jim followed as Blair moved to the kitchen and took out two bottles of water. He opened one and handed it to his partner. “Drink.” His command was obeyed. He opened his own and downed half before twisting the cap back on.

He then felt a cold tongue lap across his back. He froze in his spot and let Jim continue his explorations. As the warming tongue reached the back of his armpit, a low growl vibrated chest to back.

The scent of his guide was strong, but the scent of himself had faded. He must change that. He lifted his guide and carried him upstairs amid the protests that he could walk.

He placed his guide on his back and covered his whole body with his own. He rubbed up and down, sideways, back and forth. During the course of his movements his cock rubbed and brushed across his guide’s. The sensations were off the scale. He needed to re-claim his guide, leave fresh scent.

But it was when his guide arched up to him that all control went off the scale. His guide wanted him to claim him. He roared in delight. He roughly started licking behind the ears, he drank in the scent. He nipped and bit along the jaw line and froze as he saw the deep bite mark. He sniffed it and recognized his saliva, he licked it and resumed his nibbling.

The guide understood that his Sentinel had very little if any control left. He wanted Jim to take him, but didn’t want to be hurt. It would be unpleasant and later it would bother Jim greatly. So Blair arched up his neck and exposed it fully. A move to signal his submission to his mate. Sandburg hoped that would trigger the desire to couple and allow him to be taken more gently.

The Sentinel did recognize the move. His guide wanted to be his mate, willingly. Yes. All mine. No one else will touch him. He purred as he licked and nipped the neck and chest. He washed the armpits fully. As he worked his way down to the navel, he felt tender caresses on his back. His guide was touching him. A joy spread through him.

So for a short while the Sentinel was able to forget that there was a threat to his guide and instead reveled that his guide wanted him as much as he wanted his guide. And he did. He prepared his Blair gently, with care. His guide’s voice flowed over him, encouraging him to enter and he was not able to refuse his guide.

Jim threw back his head and roared his pleasure. He possessed his guide, his Blair, his. All this was his. He wanted to start slow, somewhere in the back of his thoughts, he wanted to go slow, but the drive to reclaim, mark for all time his guide to him was stronger and he drove in with fierce strokes. His guide’s sounds of pleasure did penetrate through the wondrous haze and spurred him on. He saw his guide grab his own hard shaft and slapped the hand away. He placed his there instead and griped it tightly and pumped as fast as he was pounding inside.

His Blair screamed and out flowed his tantalizing fluid. The Sentinel howled and came as his cock was clenched even tighter by the muscles surrounding it. He collapsed along side his guide and cleaned him up with his tongue. Tasting both his guide’s fluids and his own. Sated, they rested.

They slept through until morning. No dreams, no nightmares, no phone calls. Blair wasn’t sure which Jim he would awaken with so he hopped out of bed after extricating himself from the arms and legs that held him. He hurried to the bathroom for a shower. If Jim was less primitive this morning, he may not want to be reminded by scent about his actions. Blair wasn’t upset, he wouldn’t confuse the sex with love, but he enjoyed it.

The hot water felt good. He ached in a few spots, but the heat helped loosen him up. He dried quickly and with a towel around his waist he wanted to get to his bedroom quick.

As he exited the bathroom he found himself was once again pressed up against the wall with Jim rubbing up and down his body, purring.

Jim had woken up anxious, Blair was missing from the bed. He opened his hearing and found him in the shower. He growled, his scent would be washed off. Not good. He bounded down the stairs to wait for his guide. He caught him just as he was leaving the bathroom. Just as he thought after one whiff of air, he knew his scent was missing. He pushed his guide to the wall and started reapplying his scent. He started at the hairline and began licking his Blair.

“Aren’t you taking this cat cleaning a bit far?” Blair asked, not fighting the bigger man.

“Want my smell on you. Others will then know you are mine.” The Sentinel explained. Leaving the neck, he covered the entire chest before turning his Blair around and laving his back. When that task was completed, he worked his way down further and noted that the hard shaft was leaking again. “Leaking again, Blair, I’ll fix that.” He swallowed the shaft in its entirety. Blair would have fallen but for the hand still pressing him against the wall.

The Sentinel sucked his guide until all the leakage was gone. He knew that his guide would be too sore this morning for a complete claiming so he took a drop of his own leakage and spread it about the base of his guide’s cock. That way the two odors would mingle. His scent so placed he stepped back away from his guide.

Blair pointed to Jim’s own leaking shaft and said, “Let me clean up this one.” He pushed Jim against the wall, knelt down and sucked in Jim’s cock in one sure movement.

The Sentinel was unprepared for the multitude of sensations that assailed him as his guide deep throated him. He would have zoned but for the anchoring effect of Blair’s heartbeat. He could feel his orgasm start and thought to warn Blair, but held his tongue so that his essence would be in his guide. He exploded into Blair’s throat and sunk down to the floor in his guide’s arms.

When he became aware again, Blair asked, “Okay, Jim, can we do breakfast now? We didn’t get any dinner.” Blair smiled at Jim as he added, “Then we can get to work.”

A deep growl met that request, “Simon said we could stay home today. Easier to protect you.” The Sentinel held his guide tight.

“Well, we don’t have to leave here. What I want is in the basement. I think I figured out where I might have met him.” Blair told his partner excitedly.

“You know the person trying to steal you?” The voice was chilled.

“No, I don’t remember him at all, but look at all the clues. The sense of smell is always involved. I think he must have been one of the many case studies I did before I met you.” Blair told him as he stood. Jim had released him when he heard that his guide knew the stalker.

“He can smell things the same as me?”

“Don’t think so, just that his sense of smell was enhanced over the normal range. I tested hundreds of people that worked for coffee or perfume companies. I was hoping that if we look through my notes, something might jump out at us.” Blair explained as he started breakfast. The coffee pot already blinking its readiness. He poured a mug full and handed it to Jim. Then did the same for himself.

“Okay.” Jim’s voice a great deal warmer.

After breakfast they spent the next several hours going through Blair’s files. Although it appeared that he had haphazardly thrown his files any which way into the boxes, the system was very organized. They narrowed it down to ten possibles.

Blair wanted to take it to the station, Jim wanted to stay put. “Jim, I need to find this guy. Stop this threat. We need to go in. I was also hoping we could go to the gym. It’s too hard playing catch up if I miss too many days.” At the look of dismay that crossed his partner’s face he added, “I’ll be with you, no better protection than my own Blessed Protector.” Blair used his most beseeching look and Jim caved.

They did a short work-out before hitting the station. Jim acted out of sorts the whole time and Blair put it down to the fact that Jim hadn’t wanted to come in the first place.

Simon let the Major Crimes crew work on the files that Blair brought in. Between six people it took less than two hours to research the ten possibles. Three were eliminated as they were out of the country and had been the entire time. Seven left. Four of them lived either in the mid-west or back east. Not that would completely eliminate them but they became less likely.

Rafe volunteered to check airlines on the four to see if they had flown in nearby recently. On the three left, the team just dug deeper.

Connor was about to announce her find as two delivery men showed up at the same time. One was a U.S. Marshall with a subpoena for Jim Ellison. He was called in to testify on Friday on the Bilkman case. The other was a FedEx delivery for Blair.

H cornered the man and questioned him on the package origins as Blair and Jim put on their latex gloves. When Blair carefully cut the box open Jim began to growl. A deep throated sound that had strangers backing out of the Major Crimes unit. Brown, Rafe, Connor and Taggert were so used to Ellison’s over-protective manner with Blair, they took the growling in stride.

Inside was a note and a used gym towel. The note said, -We will be together, you can not resist me. Can’t you smell how we’d be together. This is how it should be. You taught me that. Hurry to me. Your destined one.-

Jim ground out in a dangerous voice, “That was the towel you used this morning. I felt off kilter there. I didn’t smell him, but I felt him. That has his sweat on it.”

Blair remembered and thought to himself, next time Jim acted that way, he’d pay more attention. His Sentinel has known that the other had been in the area even without scenting him.

Joel came forward, latex gloves on and picked up the towel and placed it in an evidence bad. “We should be able to get more DNA if he touched it.”

“He did, I can smell him,” Jim growled out as he paced around Blair.

Joel walked the bag down to forensics as Jim moved closer to the box. Aside from his guide’s scent and the interloper’s smell, he could make out the scents of oats, wheat and barley.

The ding of the elevator altered all that someone was coming, a common occurrence at a police station. Jim’s response was not all that common.

The anxious Sentinel snatched his guide from his standing position and threw him face down onto the floor, covering the guide’s body completely with his own.

Simon strode in and stopped next to the two bodies, “Is this a new air raid drill I was not aware of or did our detective receive another threat?”

Connor answered, “Second guess, sir.”

The Captain rubbed his head, “What was it this time? And Jim? You can let Blair up now.” Banks bent over to help up his detectives, but heard the low growl and backed up instead. “Ellison, Sandburg, my office. Now, gentlemen.” The dark man took off his coat as he entered his own office.

The Sentinel checked all about him before removing himself off his guide’s body. He rubbed against him, leaving his scent again before rising.

Blair was slow to rise. He shook his head to clear it after bumping his head on the floor. The protector watched his guide and realized he was hurt. Guilt flooded him as he knew that he was to blame. He fell to his knees beside his guide and ran his fingers all through the silky stands checking the scalp they were attached to for bumps. He found one and just caught himself leaning forward to kiss it.

He stood, taking Blair with him instead and pushed him into Simon’s office.

After Banks handed Sandburg a cup of coffee, Blair explained the latest delivery. Jim remained mute, head darting about checking for more threats against his guide. He stood behind Blair with his hands on his guide’s shoulders.

“Detective Ellison,” Simon hoped he could reach his detective, “You have to testify on Friday. No postponement is open to you. You are the case.” The Captain put up a restraining hand, “I will have our team guard Sandburg, both in the loft and outside. No arguments, Detective.” Simon said his piece.

Blair answered before his partner could object, “That sounds perfectly reasonable, Captain.” Turning slightly, he said up to Jim, “Doesn’t it, Jim? We will fall in with this plan.” Blair was nodding his head at Jim all while he talked.

“Right now, just go home. We’ll call you if we find out any more.” Simon told the two men.

Jim agreed completely with the last request and quickly got his guide up and out of there. The Sentinel would not feel safe until he got his guide back home.

Blair made dinner after he shooed his protector in to the shower. A quick stir-fry with crunchy noodles would fill the meal ticket. Then, hopefully watch the Jags game.

He offered Jim a beer but he refused, and took a water instead. “Need to stay clear, focused.”

“Jim, we’re home, man. I’m safe. You need to unwind.” Blair tried to reassure his Sentinel as he put the food on the table. Jim steadfastly refused.

The after dinner clean up ran as smooth as it always did. Two finely honed partners twisting and moving, anticipating the other’s actions. Blair enjoyed the routine that had been sadly missing this last week. The Jags won and all was fine until bedtime.

The Blessed Protector went into covert op mode and triple checked all the windows and doors. He made sure his guide was comfortable before sliding in beside him. He watched over Blair before allowing himself the slumber he needed.

---------

The panther and wolf slept curled together. The panther occasionally licked the head and chest of his mate. The black cat was ready for sleep when the scent of danger whirled in all around him obscuring his vision momentarily. When it had cleared, his mate was gone and he could hear the howling. He followed the sound, imperative that he rescue his mate.

The circus tent ahead, his destination. He sprinted in and discovered his wolf locked in the cage, legs spread wide and shackled to the sides, howling his pain. The ringmaster stopped him with his hand, indicating that should he move forward at all, he would fuck his wolf. The cat bellowed his anguish.

Soft words from his guide’s voice took him from the horror he witnessed and back into their bedroom.

Blair knew he had somehow shared his partner’s nightmare. He saw it from the panther’s point of view. He had felt the panther’s pain and knew he was close to the edge. He forced himself awake and drew his shuddering Sentinel into his arms. He petted Jim’s head, cooing softly in his guide voice, that all was okay, he was safe and unharmed.

“Come back, Jim, follow my voice, feel my heart.” He pulled Jim’s head to his chest and pressed his ear over his heart.

The Sentinel needed desperately to follow the voice, his guide’s voice, the voice that said he was alive and not trapped.

Jim awoke to find himself curled up next to his guide, with Blair’s arms around him tight. Those arms and hands were stroking up and down his back, filling him with a warmth denied him during the horror he experienced within the dream.

The Sentinel listened to the heart beat strong within the hard chest and he raised his hand to trace its path. The dream reinforced his fear that his guide was in danger. He needed to remark his claim. He shifted his body so he could begin licking, placing his scent all over his guide.

Blair felt the now familiar routine begin and gave himself up to his Sentinel’s ministrations. When the man with the panther soul ended his laving at the groin of his guide, he took a deep breath of the pheromones released because of him. He pressed his face in close and growled into the skin, feeling the vibrations reverberate back at him, intensifying the feeling tenfold.

Blair’s groan of encouragement spurred him on to take his guide. He prepared him and entered him swiftly. He set a punishing pace to leave his scent.

So quickly he accomplished his task that he didn’t smell his guide’s climax. He pushed himself down and sucked up the pulsing shaft, slurping and suckling until he gained the bittersweet spillage.

The wild abandonment that his Blair showed as he climaxed sent renewed shivers of desire straight to his groin. His mate wanted him as he wanted his mate. He purred, his face still pressed against the now flaccid cock. He began claiming and marking his guide anew.

Blair thought on the big cat that Jim’s spirit animal represented. The big cats were capable of obtaining an erection fifty times during a twenty four period. Blair hoped Jim didn’t have that much stamina, then Blair felt his organ stir as Jim worked his way down the body and Blair thought to himself, ‘Then again, maybe……….’

----------

The ringing of the phone broke into Blair’s slumber. He laid there, trying to figure what woke him this time as he could already tell that Jim was still asleep. The phone rang again and he recognized the sound. He forced his sore body up and headed down the stairs. He noted that it was dark and checked the clock before reaching for the phone.

“’Lo?” Blair answered groggily.

“Sandburg? How’s Ellison?”

“Asleep.”

“Good, you know he has to be in court tomorrow. He can’t miss this.” His Captain told him.

“Yes, Simon, I know, he knows. Just make sure the team is here early. He has a bunch of instructions.” Blair requested.

A question entered Simon’s voice, “You worried?”

“To a degree, but not as severely as Jim.” Blair answered honestly.

“Would you feel better down here?” Simon asked.

“Doesn’t matter, Jim would freak.”

Resigned, “Okay, see you in the morning.”

Blair put down the phone glad to see that it hadn’t disturbed his Sentinel. Jim hadn’t gotten much sleep until just a couple of hours ago. This case had touched some deep primitive aspect of the Sentinel and the culmination of the numerous threats created a deep need for the Sentinel to secure his guide to his side.

Jim had taken him twelve times since yesterday afternoon, climaxing inside him each time. The desire to leave his scent primary.

The exhausted guide truly hoped the when the stalker was caught, Jim would be able to reconcile his sentinel reaction with the cop.

Blair knew he would miss sleeping in Jim’s bed, within his arms. There was a part of him that actually enjoyed the possessive side of Jim. It felt like he was important and that felt good. Naomi had never really displayed possessive behavior. Even when she chewed Simon’s ass, it was only because she objected to the police work.

After relieving himself, Blair grabbed a bottle of water and headed back upstairs. Jim was still out and he gazed down at his partner, enjoying this time that he could look upon his partner’s body unobserved. The hard muscled body with smooth skin was a delight to his fingers.

Blair could feel the stirring of desire as his hands gently ran over the shoulders and chest. He curled himself about Jim’s sleeping figure, determined to take what he could get as long as he could.

Jim stirred and pulled his guide tighter against him. A sleepy growl of, “Mine,” vibrated along Blair’s back as sleep claimed him.

------

Friday morning, both men woke early to the hungry growl of their stomachs. Blair got the coffee going as he began breakfast. He sent Jim off to the shower figuring that he would take one after Jim left, so Jim wouldn’t feel compelled to rub his scent on him while Simon was here.

The biscuits were pulled from the oven as Jim entered the kitchen. Blair motioned his partner to the table as he placed the plate full of bacon and eggs in front of him. He then poured the coffee into his mug as he served up the fresh biscuits. They ate without conversation.

Jim fought an internal conflict. The Sentinel’s need to guard his guide versus the cop’s need to testify. The food disappeared as his psyche battled on. The decision was taken out of his hands with the arrival of Captain Banks and half of the Major Crimes unit.

Taggert, Connor, Brown and Rafe followed their captain into the Prospect loft. The Captain laid out the game plan. Brown and Rafe would remain outside, while Taggert and Connor would stay inside with Sandburg. Simon would drive Ellison to the courthouse.

Wanting to disagree with the plan, Detective Ellison could not find fault with it. He left with Simon after a last look at his guide.

---------

“You didn’t have to drive me to make sure I’d show up. I’d have done so on my own.” Jim felt compelled to tell his captain.

“Never doubted that, Jim.” Simon’s voice was sincere. “Just figured that with me there, in direct contact with the loft team, you’d be able to completely focus on your testimony. If something should occur, you’d know right away.” Simon confided.

“You’re worried too.” Jim understood. Simon cared more than he let on.

Gruffly, “Didn’t want you demanding status checks while on the stand.”

Jim smiled his first smile of the day.

-------

Connor re-entered the loft after bringing Brown and Rafe their second cup of coffee. “Say, Sandy, I dug up some interesting information on one of your suspects.”

“Which one?” Blair forgot which one she had been researching.

“Hemple, John Hemple. His wife was reported missing by her sister. When he was questioned by the police, he said that she had packed her bags and left him. He let the police search the house and the reported noted that most of her personal belongings were gone.”

“When did she go missing?” Detective Sandburg asked.

Megan looked up at Blair, “Two days before your first email.”

Joel was looking over Connor’s notes and the original police report. “Something interesting here, guys, it says here that a new porch had been poured that same week.” Taggert looked at his fellow detectives and could see that they had drawn the same conclusion.

Blair snapped his fingers, “His early emails indicated that he had become ‘unencumbered’,” Blair refreshed their memories.

Megan jumped on it, “He killed his wife and put her under the new porch so he could begin with Sandy.”

Joel was up, on the way to the phone, “Let me call and get an APB out there.” The dark man picked up the phone and tapped the connector, “Phone’s dead.” A look of concern on his face.

Megan went to her purse to get her cellphone as Blair walked to the door to signal Brown. He felt light headed and leaned against the closed door to get his bearings. He turned and saw Megan and Joel moving slowly just before falling to the floor. He tried to go the them but blacked out before he could take two steps.

------

Outside, Brown was intent on his coffee as his partner pointed out the single bicyclist peddling slowly down the block.

Brown watched him before commenting, “He could use a lot more cycling time.”

“Oh, look who’s talking,” Rafe laughed.

“All muscle, my man, all muscle.”

Ten minutes later the cyclist reappeared, slowly peddling towards them. He signaled to where a watch would be on his wrist, asking the time.

Brown rolled down his window, “Ten thirty two.”

A stuffed-nose, nasally voice replied, “No, it’s time to take what’s mine,” as he threw a cylinder with escaping gas into the front seat of the detective’s car.

Before Brown or Rafe could react, they slumped in their seats, unconscious.

The cyclist left his bike in the road as he walked to the building. He took the stairs at the Prospect residence to the third floor. He shot out the lock and pushed in the door. He saw the three unconscious bodies, eyes searching for only one. His destined one. He picked up the long locked beauty and left with him.

Down the elevator, out the back to his parked car. He headed out of the city with his prize.

---------

Simon had to admit he was concerned. He stepped out of the courtroom to retry his cellphone. The entire team missed their check in time. He received no answer to his attempts at contacting them. He called dispatch and requested a uniform drive by and do a spot check.

Six minutes later he was horrified.

On the stand, the Sentinel heard a growl in his head as he saw his spirit guide appear at the back of the courtroom. His guide was in danger.

His eyes connected with Simon’s stricken ones as he entered the courtroom. He knew they had to leave.

Simon hurried to the DA’s side and explained that Detective Ellison’s partner had been abducted.

Beverly asked if she could approach the bench. She told the judge what had occurred and asked that Detective Ellison be excused. The judge agreed as the defense council was just reasking the same two questions over and over.

The Sentinel of the Great City and the Major Crimes Captain all but ran to the car. Code three, they raced to the loft.

What they found there sent spikes of fear through both men.

Uniforms had the whole block cordoned off. Paramedic sirens could be heard approaching. Simon pulled onto the curb and barely remembered to shut the engine off as he and Ellison rushed from the car.

Brown and Rafe were laying unconscious on the ground. They were assured by uniforms that they were still alive as they raced by for the loft.

Jim took the stairs three at a time as he raced up. His sentinel senses took in the shot up door and unconscious bodies in his home. But there was one heartbeat missing, his guide’s. His scream of pain could be heard on the street.

He heard the panther growl and the wolf howl. He took a deep breath and concentrated as Blair would instruct. He sniffed.

The stalker’s scent was plain. The Sentinel forced out all scents but the stalker’s and his guide’s. He followed them out the door, down the elevator and out the back way. They ended there. Another howl of pain filled the airwaves.

He saw the fresh tire marking with his enhanced sight and knew that his Blair had been taken away by car.

Simon found his friend crouched on the ground, mumbling. He heard several noes and Blair’s name. He tapped him on the shoulder, “Jim. Jim.”

“He’s got him. Drove off. Can only see the trail for half of the block, then there is no trace.” Jim bent his head.

“Megan and Joel are conscious now, they want to talk to you. Let’s go back upstairs.” Simon led his detective back into the building.

His primitive side just wanted to tear apart the city to find his guide. The cop knew they needed clues. The cop stood and followed Simon back upstairs.

Simon was talking to the paramedics and a Uniform, he waved Ellison over. “This was found in the vent system for the whole building. A knock-out sleep agent, no after effects. Everyone in the building is waking up fine. Oh, and good thing we took my car, the breaks on your truck have been cut. Guess he wanted you out of the picture permanently.”

“Jim,” Megan called out.

Jim could hear the sorrow in her voice. He climbed the stairs to the waiting detective. Simon followed close behind and seated himself across from Jim and Megan. Joel joined them after dosing his face in cold water.

“Just before the gas got us, we’d figured out who our most likely suspect was. John Hemple. With his wife recently reported missing, combined with the fresh laid porch, we came up with….”

Jim broke in, “Unencumbered, the email said he had just unencumbered himself and expected Blair to do the same.” Jim looked alive and interested, “You check that his wife is still missing?”

Joel took Megan’s cellphone as the Aussie replied, “She was as of yesterday afternoon. It was the wife’s sister the reported her missing, said they have lunch every Friday and have had for the last nine years.”

Jim went to Blair’s computer and keyed in his password, sentinel, and headed for the police files. They started an in-depth search about one John Hemple.

Simon called and sent uniforms to Hemple’s residence. Next he called for a search warrant. Simon wanted to dig up the porch.

Joel confirmed that Gloria Hemple was still a missing person.

Right now, all Jim could do was wait and that was the hardest thing to do.

---------

Blair woke to find himself bound and gagged and in the back seat of a moving car. They were out of the city and he could see that the sun was still on the rise, so he figured that he was going east. Jim would be…..JIM. Oh hell, he was probably freaking out about now. Blair’s thoughts churning about in his mind. Worry about his partner was foremost.

He could only see the back of the driver’s head, but the hair color matched that of the suspect Megan had detailed. Hemple. Blair surmised that he had already killed his wife so he was not above violence. He would have to buy time, give Jim a chance to find him. Under all the fear that constant remained, Jim would come. He hoped on time.

---------

With the abduction of a cop, the warrant was expedited. The porch was nearly broken through by the time the Major Crimes group arrived.

Jim knew before they opened the door that they had the right man. “Simon, his scent is all over. The same that was on the objects sent to Sandburg.”

Simon nodded his understanding, grateful that they had solid detective work for the report and not just Jim’s senses.

As the jackhammer broke clean through, Jim grabbed his nose. The stench of decayed flesh attacked his olfactory. The workers were next to react as they made the hole bigger. Joel called for the coroner and a forensics team as Jim began his prowl of the house.

The rooms were plain, no strong smelling substances could be found anywhere. Most likely a result of Hemple’s heightened sense of smell. The bathroom turned up nothing of importance. The bedroom, too, looked like a loss, but for the odd placement of the closet door. Upon closer look, it held a second door inside that led to a hidden room.

Pictures of Blair adorned the walls. Pictures where it was obvious that he had been cut out of the shot. Blair was his guide, no one was allowed to mess with what was his. The more primitive side of the Sentinel was in the fore ground again. Discovering gym towels with Blair’s scent pushed even further at the Sentinel, the need to reclaim his guide paramount over anything else. The scent of the stalker’s semen on those same towels nearly put him over the edge.

He searched the room with his sight and sense of smell. His nose picked up the bare threads of wheat and barley, the same odors that had been in the gym towel box. His eyes found specks of dirt tracked in on shoes. He scooped it carefully into a bag.

He called Simon in. Taggert and Connor followed. The degree of how obsessed Hemple was went up several notches. Banks sent in the forensics team to gather up all the evidence, he didn’t want this guy to escape conviction.

Brown and Rafe left to inform the sister and ask her to come in and make a formal ID.

Simon hustled Ellison out of there, he knew his detective was on the edge. Never one to handle threats to his partner, the perp on this one was depraved and he was afraid that Jim would kill him if he got a hold of him right now. The Captain also believed that if it were possible, Jim would already be out on the streets searching door to door.

Connor was already seated at her computer when Banks and Ellison arrived. Jim came up behind the Aussie and read all that she had up on the screen.

Megan turned toward Simon, “H said he was bringing Mrs. Aster, the deceased’s sister, up here. Felt she had something to tell us.”

Simon nodded and headed for the coffee pot.

Brown and Rafe entered the bull pen, followed by Joel, with a middle aged woman, short brown hair, and an infinitely sad look on her face.

“Jim,” Brown called over to the departments lead detective. “Mrs. Aster would like to speak with you.”

Jim approached with a calm exterior, but an impatient interior. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The older lady nodded, too choked up to speak. She swallowed several times before she started to speak. “Gloria was a dear girl but John was always odd. In their early years, he created perfumes and named them after her. She was happy with that. Six years ago, John became even more odd.”

Simon broke in, “Odd? How do you mean that?”

The short, brown haired bobbed against her collar as she tilted her head. “Odd in way that was never quite right. It’s hard to say any one thing. He’d become fixated, obsessed with just one thing. In the beginning of their marriage it was her, then the perfumes he was creating. Six years ago, he became fixated on something else and he all but forgot her. Gloria was heart broken, tried many ways to recapture his attention, but to no avail. She wouldn’t leave him, now……..,” her eyes teared as she struggled to finish her sentence. A couple of minutes later, Marie Aster found her composure, “Now I want you to find that horrid man and arrest him.”

“That’s our intention, Mrs. Aster. Do you have any idea where he would go?” Captain Banks asked.

“Gloria owned several properties. Our father deeded us three each. Two are working farms and one is a defunct mill. They’re listed under her maiden name of Whitehall.”

Simon stood and put out his hand, “Thank you. You’ve been most helpful. We’ll contact you after we’ve made an arrest.”

Marie Aster nodded once and followed Detective Brown out of the bull-pen.

Jim was barely restrained energy, anxious to find Blair. “The mill. That’s where he is,” the detective announced.

“Why do you think that, Jim?” Joel asked.

“The last box Sandburg received had the scents of wheat and barley and at the house, that secret room had the same odor of wheat and barley. Mills process grain. He had probably been there before taking Blair.” Jim answered succinctly.

Megan’s fingers were already flying across the key board in search of an address. She printed it and the directions as Simon called the locals, asking for a watch only status. He arranged for backup once they ascertained that Sandburg was really there. He’d know as soon as Jim got close.

Simon took Jim, Joel left with Megan and Rafe waited for his partner to return from arranging an escort for Mrs. Aster.

------

Blair woke this time to find himself naked and his hands cuffed above his head. He seemed to be hanging from some kind of conveyance gear. He wasn’t sure, but figured he was close enough in his guess. His feet could barely touch the ground.

He turned his head and no matter which direction he looked he saw pictures of himself, pictures of him dating back to preJim. The irony to Blair was that if Hemple had taken him preJim, he knew he would have never been found.

His mom wouldn’t have missed him for years. But now, with Jim, a Sentinel to boot, Blair knew that Jim would track him down. Hopefully before atrocious things happened and definitely before he was killed. Blair didn’t see any other ending for this. Hemple was really gone.

The depraved man returned naked. Sandburg knew he had to keep him talking.

“How long have you been planning our rendezvous?”

“Six years.” The answer was concise.

“Shit, why so long?” The man was more than obsessed, Blair thought.

“Had to know you. Had to know all about you.” The voice tried to copy Blair’s own.

“But you haven’t talked to me since the testing. How could you know me?” Puzzled at the thought process.

“I watched you. Studied you. I know all your smells. I’d smell your shampoo and duplicated it at home. Same with your after shave and clothes detergent.”

“But how does any of that know me?” Part of Blair was sincerely curious.

“Knowing the odors you liked tells me what you like. I’d matched them so I know you’d like me.” Hemple was mixing two oils together. He put his hands in it and moved to stand in front of Blair. He put his hand on Blair’s chest and the Anthropologist turned detective, moved away from the thrusting fingers.

“Don’t be shy,” Hemple commented. He grabbed Blair’s taught body and pressed against it as he rubbed the oil into his shoulders and chest.

Hemple’s erection pressed into Blair’s hip and the lithe man tried to position himself away from it. The deranged man moved his hands to his obsession’s firm buttocks and pulled the body closer. He ground himself against his fascination, faster and harder, never noticing that his fixation’s cock remained limp.

The older man stepped back a small pace and ejaculated his fluids all over Blair’s chest and groin. As the fog cleared from his orgasmic haze, Hemple was angered to see that his new lover had not responded.

“Well, maybe you need a little pain to respond?” He marched over to the desk and removed the belt from his trousers that were folded on top. “Let’s see how much you like this?”

Hemple slapped Blair’s back with the belt and twitched with excitement as Blair made a sound of protest to match his body jerk. Invigorated with the reaction, he struck harder with the belt on his second swing. Blair cried out as it stung his ass and thighs.

Hemple had a full erection on the third pass. On the fourth strike against Blair’s backside, the distraught man was jerking his erection and came over the belt created welts as Blair cried out in pain.

The scent of his semen and Blair’s fear pushed him closer to the edge of his twisted mind. He reached out and rubbed his semen all over Blair’s ass and balls. He was disappointed again at the lack of erection from his obsession. He squeezed the chilled testicles tightly. The pain from the welts combined with that of his testicles pushed Blair into unconsciousness.

Hemple rubbed his hands all over the beautiful man’s body, firming again at the unlimited access of the Sandburg body.

---------

They were headed to the outskirts of Edmonds, about an hour north of Cascade.

Jim withdrew more into himself as he constantly searched for Blair’s heartbeat. An unbalanced, obsessive man had his guide and he would pay for his audacity in pilfering his guide. No one messed with what was his. No one. Death would be too easy. If a single hair was harmed…..

Simon reacted to the strangled sound that Jim made and laid his hand on his friend’s arm. “Jim, don’t zone, that will only piss Sandburg off. Stay with me, we need you to locate Blair.” The Captain hoped that necessity would anchor Ellison in the here and now.

“Not zoned.” The gruff retort was the only words the distressed man uttered. He continued his search.

As Simon hit the area indicated on Connor’s map, the Major Crimes Captain connected with the lieutenant located outside the mill.

The young man approached their car. “That car inside is registered to a John Hemple. We haven’t seen anyone. We’ve stayed on the perimeter as requested, Sir.” The young lieutenant relayed.

The rough voice of his detective interrupted from behind him, “He’s in there, Simon. He’s scared but he’s talking.” Jim checked his gun, took two extra ammo clips out of his bag and headed in.

“Jim, wait for backup,” Simon told him.

“No. Can’t. Let me go in alone. Otherwise he could kill Blair.” Jim was gone, Sentinel stealth mode.

Simon Banks didn’t really expect Jim Ellison to wait, but he could hope. That was his partner in there and at the moment, that was the only thing Ellison was concerned with. Simon got out the rest of Connor’s map and coordinated their future movements.

Joel watched Jim’s movements.

--------

Blair came to with Hemple’s arms around his waist. He was pressing on the painful areas, causing Blair to cry out.

“I don’t do pain,” Blair yelled.

“Well, I love how you moan, so I am enjoying your pain. You deserve some for all you’ve caused me.” He pushed again on the welts in the middle of Blair’s back before striking his face.

Hemple stood back and slapped an ass cheek hard and gripped himself firmly as he was close again.

Outside, Blair’s Sentinel heard his guide’s cry of pain, heard him speak and Hemple’s horrid response. The Sentinel was livid. He focused on the sounds to lead him through the maze of rooms to the silo. He heard an even more intense cry of pain and then the smell of blood, his guide’s blood. Then the scent of semen, the interloper’s.

The scent of semen reeked. The air was thick with it.

The beast barely held in check raced through the silo in search of his guide. He kicked down the door as he could track the beloved heartbeat inside. His guide still lived. Here the scent of recent ejaculation was overwhelming. The Sentinel froze and deep sniffed the air, it was only the guide thief’s semen, none of Blair’s could be detected. No left over pheromones of desire emanated from his guide’s body. Only pheromones of fear were encountered, his guide had not been violated. He must protect his guide from any further attacks.

He kicked through the last remaining barrier between him and his guide. Standing there, penis erect in his hand, was the scum that dared to take what was his. He could smell the emanate climax and dashed forward and slammed the pittance of a creature hard against the wall. He pulled him back slightly and slammed him again. His knee came up and hit him square in the groin.

As he was about to squash his throat in, a raspy voice intruded, the only voice that could, the voice of his guide. He paused.

“Jim, listen to me. I need you. I’ll be okay, but I need you close. I can’t see, I can’t move, I hurt. I need you.” Blair knew that the primitive throwback would kill the transgressor, but in modern times, Blair could lose his partner to the system. He had to get Jim centered on him alone.

Jim focused solely on Blair’s voice, his heart jumped, his guide needed him. Just like the dream, his Blair called him back. He threw the piece of trash in his hand across the room as he followed his guide’s voice. He must attend his guide.

That was how Simon found them, Blair cradled in Jim’s lap and Hemple in an unconscious heap on the floor. Alive, the culprit was alive. Simon took his first breath of relief. His second greatest fear had been that Jim would have killed Hemple, his first had been that Blair was dead.

Simon directed Brown and Rafe to deal with Hemple for he was also afraid to let Joel deal with him. Blair was special to the former bomb-squad leader and Joel really wanted the scum to face the music.

The paramedics were waved through and Simon had to force Jim to let them work on Blair. The Protector had already covered his guide with his jacket, but the medics had the standard hospital coverlet to finish the job.

Jim rode in the ambulance. After the medical personnel had strapped Blair in, Jim took his hand. There was no separating them from this point on.

Banks quickly followed behind. They were headed for the local hospital, they knew not of the bond between this particular pair of partners and Simon wanted to leave the local hospital intact.

On arrival, he could hear Jim’s bellow and used it to lead his way. He flashed his badge as he passed the admitting desk, going straight to the cubicle that housed his detectives.

Badge still out, Simon faced the doctor that was threatening Jim with security.

“Doctor, these are my police detectives and Ellison’s partner had been kidnapped. A trying time and especially to a close partnership." Simon explained calmly.

“I need room to examine, Captain, …ah, Banks,” the doctor said impatiently.

Simon quickly looked about the room, “If we stand by the far wall, out of the way…?”

“Yes. Fine. Just keep that Neanderthal away. Now!” The doctor was already looking toward his patient.

Simon pulled Jim forcibly over to the far wall with him, murmuring that he could watch, but the doctor had to examine Blair. Simon knew he had to stay along side Jim, ‘cause given the chance, Jim would eat this doctor alive.

With the amount of semen found on the exterior of the body, the doctor feared the worst. He could almost understand the Neanderthal, the fear of rape making him protective. So after his exam, the doctor was doubly glad with his report. The barely held-in-check look on the waiting policeman’s face had his own heart racing.

Aloud the doctor reiterated, “The anus was not penetrated. He was not physically raped. He does have wounds that would match a belt or strap wiping, but no internal damage. Two bruised ribs, but none broken. The eyes are puffy, but nothing series.” The doctor took a breath before continuing, “It will be difficult for him to get around for the next several days as his rear sustained the most damage. I would also advise counseling.” The doctor finished with.

“Standard procedure for the department, Doctor,” Captain Banks explained as Jim was completely focused with the cleaning process that the nurses were performing on his partner. The doctor left the nurses to their job.

Blair stirred, the pain of the clean up getting through, “Jim?”

“Here, Chief.” Jim stepped around until he was in Blair’s line of sight.

Blair made eye contact with the form of his partner, “’Kay,” and phased out again.

The doctor was inclined to keep his patient overnight, but the nurses dissuaded his decision with the simple statement that Detective Ellison would also remain.

Blair Sandburg was discharged with specific instructions of care. Simon promised they’d be adhered to.

Simon got his car and pulled it around front, waiting for his detectives. The friend drove while Jim held his partner on the back seat. Blair was still knocked out by the medication the nurses had given before they left. It was suppose to last for the entire drive home.

At the loft, Simon opened the door as Jim carried in his sleeping partner. The protective policeman took him directly upstairs to his bed. He needed his guide near. It had been too close a call for the Sentinel and he wanted to reassure himself that guide was alive and well and close.

Simon made no comment, only yelled up that he’d go get the prescriptions filled.

Jim looked down and called his thanks to his captain and friend. He then looked back at his guide. He ran his hands all over, double checking that the doctor hadn’t missed anything. And to reassure himself.

Jim covered him, save his head. The Sentinel fingered the curls, overjoyed to have his guide back where he belonged. He lifted the hair gently from his exposed ear and sniffed the neck of his Blair. He rubbed his face in the crook of his guide’s neck, getting Blair’s scent on him and leaving his on his guide.

He lay beside him, guarding.

--------

Four days later, half of Major Crimes descended on the Prospect loft with Chinese take-out and pizza.

Simon was happy to report that Hemple, when faced with his wife’s remains, confessed. Disgusted, he continued, “His attorney wanted him to plead insanity.” Jim stiffened immediately, but Simon held up his hand, “Hemple refused. He said that he did not want it to be on record that his devotion to Sandburg was insanity. He said that one only had to look at his beauty to know he was completely sane. The DA accepted that. We’re hoping that, with the first degree murder of his wife and the abduction of a police officer and subsequent torture, that he’ll get life without parole.”

Jim moved closer to his partner, eliminating all room between them. Blair smiled to himself, his Sentinel was still in heavy guard mode.

Blair was happy to see the team as he wouldn’t be back on duty until next week.

-------

By the weekend, Blair figured he should move back down to his room. The longer he left it, the harder it would be. He was now seeing predominantly Jim over the sentinel protector.

After dinner, Blair brought it up.

“Jim, with Hemple behind bars, the danger to me is past, I’m thinking I should sleep back in my own bed.”

Jim froze in place, back straight, “I’m your partner, I can guard you better upstairs with me.”

Blair smiled, “Hey, Jim, there’s no longer any threat to me.”

“Never know. Best to be safe.” His guard posture in full effect.

‘Damn,’ Blair thought to himself, ‘Jim just didn’t know how hard this is for me.’ Aloud, “Okay, but the sex is over. There’s no need to mark me.” Blair tried a different avenue.

Fear gripped Jim, his guide was rejecting him. “Was it bad? Did I hurt you?”

Blair shook his head, “No, Jim. It was great, in fact, the best ever. It will be hard for anyone to measure up.”

Panic and dread flooded his system, his guide was contemplating sex with someone else other than him. A loud NO! roared in his head. This was his guide. No one will have him but me.

Jim sat still, cocked his head to the side and asked as if puzzled, “If it was good, why do you want someone else?” Jim forced his body to remain still when all he wanted to do was grab his guide close to him.

“I don’t want to go sleep with someone else…….but Jim……this is getting too difficult emotionally.” Blair hoped his partner would understand.

“You’re my guide. I claimed you. We now belong to each other.” Jim pronounced, hating having to find words to say this aloud.

Blair’s body deflated. Dispiritedly he said, “Because of the Sentinel/Guide thing. Because I am your guide, not because I’m Blair.”

“Blair, you are my guide. My guide is Blair. Same thing.” Jim was happy with that.

Blair, though, obviously wasn’t.

“Blair the man is different than Blair the guide. Blair the guide will always be yours because you are my Sentinel. But Blair the man needs to be needed for himself, wanted for himself, loved for himself. Not for the service he provides.” The long haired man sighed, “Jim, I understood that you were threatened so profoundly, that you reacted as all your ancestors would have. You took me, carefully, tenderly, but it wasn’t love Jim, and I need that.” Blair looked down, not wanting to see the understanding and lack of love in the eyes of his heart match.

Jim sat so frozen, for so long, that Blair was afraid that Jim had zoned deep.

The guide placed his hand on the Sentinel’s arm, “Jim, follow my voice. Jim? Jim….”

The Sentinel put up his hand, he hadn’t zoned, he was stunned. Blair thought……..that he took him because….without……and words were hell for the important stuff.

“Blair….” Jim started and stopped, then tried again. “Blair, I may have primitive drives connected with being a sentinel, I don’t yet understand all of them. But I never could have taken you only for marking my territory. I value you too much. I discovered when that image was presented to me, that I wanted it. Not the Sentinel, but me, Jim the regular guy.”

Blair snorted, “Jim, you are never regular.” Then asked seriously, “But why did you want it?”

“Sandburg, you’re the good in my life. You make me a better person. Hell, I look forward to each day, getting a smile or laugh from you. I wanted to be that close to you.” Jim blushed with his last words.

Blair’s heart stopped, then started again double time. He held his breath a few extra seconds. It sure sounded to him like some deep feelings that Jim was harboring, could it be?

“Why?”

“I need you next to me everyday.”

Blair looked into Jim’s eyes, asking the question again, begging for an answer.

“I love you, Blair, as no other before, as no other again. That’s why.” Exhausted, Jim slumped, laid bare and open to pain and humiliation.

Blair sucked his breath in, “Oh, god, Jim, that’s how it’s been for me. I love you with my heart and soul, cause you are my heart and soul."”

Pain warred with hope, “Then why do you want to be with someone else?”

“Cause I thought you didn’t love me, man, that I was only a possession.” Blair knelt in front of his partner, his love, looking into his eyes.

Jim felt the pain leave and he placed his hands on both sides of his lover’s face, “You’re mine?”

“I’m yours. Always.”

Jim let out a breath and whispered, “I’m yours.”

Blair smiled a smile that lit his whole being. “Yes, you are mine.”

Jim’s eyes filled with the desire to be as close to his Blair as he could. With all his feeling in his voice, “I think it’s your turn to claim me, now.”

With love abounding, Blair looked into the eyes of his forever, “Yeah, my turn.”

Jim grabbed Blair up and carried his guide up the stairs. “You’re mine,” he growled into Blair’s neck.

“Yup. And you’re mine,” Blair growled right back.

And at that moment, the possessor couldn’t wait to become the possessed. He smiled at his guide and then he swooped in for a kiss.

fini