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Runaway Guide 2, The Healing

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Chapter 1: chapter 1

Runaway Guide 2 – The Healing

by Joan Z and Neichan

Xander sat curled up on the sofa with his nose nuzzled into Blair's neck. In the two weeks since the four members of the Sentinel pack had moved into their new home Xander had been seeking out Blair whenever Spike wasn't close by.

Blair was more than happy to give Spike a respite from Xander's constant need to be touched. He could tell that it was beginning to take its toll on Spike. Of course, any other sentinel would have been burned out after only a few days. He was going to have to talk to Jim about doing a healing bond with Spike before things got critical.

***

Jim and Spike stood in the kitchen preparing dinner for themselves and their guides; they spoke to each other in a whisper so low only a sentinel could hear.

"The memories of the kidnapping don't seem to be coming back," Jim said.

"They're not going to come back," Spike said. "The doctor said any memories he hasn't gotten back by now were erased not blocked. He just needs to lay down new mental pathways and that will take time," Spike sighed.

"Are you doing okay?" Jim asked. His concern for his chosen second was clear, not only in his voice but in his eyes.

"I'm just tired out. Before this happened there was an abundance of energy between Xander and me. It seemed like the more we re-newed our bond the more energy we had. Now it's just the opposite, the deeper we bond the more tired I get."

"You're healing him, and you're unique. Blair hasn't found any anthropological evidence that there has ever been a sentinel with healing abilities. Even the strongest healer guides can only spend a few hours a day healing and even then they need plenty of time to rest afterward. The only time you get away from Xan is when we cook supper."

"It's not just that I'm a healer," Spike said. "He needs his sentinel too."

"It wouldn't hurt once and a while to let me share the burden," Jim said with an edge to his voice.

"Are you angry at me, Jim?" Spike asked confused by Jim's unusual show of emotion.

"Not at you, at this situation," Jim said shaking his head. "I feel like I'm an outsider looking in. I watch you and Blair work on healing Xander. He goes to you and Blair but he never comes to me. It's as if he doesn't remember me."

Spike cocked his head and evaluated Jim. "You need to renew your bond with Xan." It was a statement not a question.

"It can wait," Jim said with a dismissive tone.

"I don't think it can," Spike said unwilling to let it go. "This whole thing is taking a toll on both of us. You're getting grouchy and I'm getting tired."

"That's not important, just let it lie, Spike."

"Why are you trying so hard to avoid this? There's no shame in needing to renew your bond with Xander. He's your secondary guide, and a core pack member; you need to know on a deeper level that he is okay. I won't stand in your way Jim, renew the bond."

"Xander isn't the only pack member that's hurting," Jim said, looking into Spike's eyes. "He isn't the only one I need to know is okay."

"Blair is doing fine," Spike said.

"Jesus, Spike, what do I have to do spell it out for you?" Jim's voice rose and Blair turned to the sound of Jim's anger.

"Jim," Spike said softly trying to worn their pack leader that his voice was now within the guides hearing range.

"Don't Jim me!"

Xander's head popped up and both guides looked toward the kitchen.

"Blair is the only one doing okay in this, he's a healer guide and he's helping to heal Xander. He's not happy about what happened to Xan but he'd doing something about it and he is blooming. And then there is you. You're killing yourself, you get weaker everyday."

Blair and Xander got off the sofa and walked to the kitchen.

"I'm not dying, Jim," Spike said. "I'm just a little tired."

"I have no right to feel this need," Jim said.

"Of course you do, Jim," Spike said, "He's your guide. Re-bond with him."

"Aren't you listening? It's not Xander I need; I can wait. Every night I go to Blair and he takes away my need to re-bond with Xander. But he doesn't take away my need for you."

"We promised them we wouldn't," Spike whispered.

"I know," Jim said as he pulled Spike into a hug. "That's why..."

"Jim?"

It was Blair, his hair pulled back into a ponytail, his eyes full of questions. Jim could hear his guide's heartbeat, steady and strong, not agitated, as if it were in a holding pattern, wai...ting, wai...ting.

It was Spike that broke the hug and walked to Xander. "Come on Xan," he said. "We need to give them some time alone."

"No," Xander said pulling his arm free from Spike. "This isn't about Jim and Blair, this is about the four of us. Are we going to make it work or not?"

"Xan's right," Blair said. "This is about the four of us, we need to talk this out."

"So why don't we start with the easy one first," Xander said as he walked up to Jim and got in his face. "Why didn't you tell me you needed to re-bond with me?"

"You're still healing, it can wait."

Xander turned his head and look at his two pack mates. "See what we have here gentleman in one...

POMPOUS ASS," Xander said with two pokes of his finger into Jim's chest.

Jim growled a waning, "Xanman."

"You know that Blair blooms when he is in healing mode but you deny that same bloom to me. Why? ... Because... you are... a pompous... ass."

Jim's eyes were dark and his growl grew louder as he picked up Xander, put him over his shoulder and carried him toward their nesting room.

Xander lifted his head, his smile beamed and he raised one arm and waved at his pack mates, as he was carried from the kitchen to the nesting room.

***

Spike smiled and turned to continue with cooking supper. It was Blair that broke the silence.

"We need to talk," Blair said in a firm, alpha guide voice.

Spike sighed. "Jim and I will keep the promise we made to you and Xander, we won't renew our sentinel-to-sentinel bond; you don't have to worry about it."

"That's not what I need to talk about but apparently it is what you need to talk about," Blair said reaching out with his empathic sense to analyze Spike's state of mind. "You'll rebond with Jim..."

"Blair," Spike interrupted. "It's..."

"Don't interrupt me," Blair said letting an edge of anger creep into his voice. It was a tone that Spike had heard him use with Jim but it was the first time it was directed at him. "I'm your guide and you will listen."

Spike cocked his head and looked Blair in the eyes. For a microsecond Blair thought he saw amusement in the sentinel's deep blue eyes, along with a flash of gold, but it was gone so fast he could not be sure.

Blair's voice returned to his normal, alpha guide tone. "When you and Jim made those promises things were different. Xander hadn't had a large chuck of his memories erased and neuro-pathways destroyed. There wasn't some shadow figure stalking him, we thought we knew who it was, but now Ethan Rayne is dead and someone shot down the General's plane, which seems to indicate that it's not just some rich, sociopath or genetics company, that wants Xander. Considering that it was the army that came after Xander, some splinter of our government could be involved. Our pack is under attack. It is only a matter of time before they make their move. You and Jim need to be in top shape to protect Xander. And you are getting weaker. Not just tired, but weaker. You need a healing Spike, which is what I wanted to talk to you about. I think tonight would be good. After that you need to renew your bond with Jim, as soon as possible, after the healing or tomorrow morning at the latest. Jim is hurting and you're the only one that can help with that particular pain."

"Can I say something now, Guide?" Spike asked.

"Yes, Sentinel," Blair said with a smile.

"I will submit to a healing bond but I have to talk to Xan about the re-bond with Jim. I won't do it unless he releases me from the promise."

"He'll release you," Blair said with out any doubt in his voice. "He'll do what is best for his sentinels and it's what's best for all of us. There is one more thing I need to tell you. Xander has been suckling my guide gland at night. He does it in his sleep. I wake up and move his head away and he rolls back to you. He's not aggressive about it, the way a sentinel would be, but still it's not normal behavior for a guide."

"How long has this been going on?"

"The last three nights. I've been waiting to get you alone to tell you about it."

"Are you saying his sentinel gene has triggered?"

"I don't know," Blair said. "We're blind here. The sentinel gene doesn't become active on a guide, but Xander has had some of his guide pathway destroyed by the drug overdose. Triggering the sentinel gene could be his brain's way of compensating for the loss. Or suckling me could be a healing behavior. I would like to do a healing bond with Xander, the touch healing is helping but if I do a healing bond with him I'll be able to tell if his sentinel gene is active."

"You should do that first. I can wait."

"No you can't," Blair said. "If Xander's sentinel gene has triggered he'll need all of us in top shape, especially you."

@@@@@@

Sentinel Prime Peter Wall rolled off of his guide, Wesley, and pulled him into a hug. It was unusual for the sentinel to need to renew his bond with his guide in the middle of the day but these were stressful times. His superior had ordered a U.S. Army plane, carrying a General, who was the holder of a metal of honor, shot down and he hated to think what would happen if Jim or Spike ever found out that it was The Agency of Sentinel Affairs that had given the order. His superior was angry with him that his plans for Xander to be bonded to a sentinel that worked for Sentinel Affairs didn't work out. Spike was supposed to come to him when he found out that Rayne was after his guide. Instead fate had conspired against him and Spike ended up in Jim's pack and cross-bonded with Jim's guide and chosen as Jim's second. All he could do now was monitor the situation by building an active friendship with Jim and Spike. But they expected progress in finding out who was after Xander. Their focus, so far, was on healing their guide, but soon they would ask for his report. He was walking a knife's edge and any loss of focus could, and most likely would, get him killed.

FLASHBACK

Sentinel Peter Wall walked into his superior's offices and was invited to take a seat.

"I understand," the Sentinel Alpha Prime said, "that you have a plan to bring Xander Harris into the Agency."

"Yes sir," Peter began. "I recently worked with an un-bonded sentinel William Spikeman, he is currently a police detective in Lake View, Washington. The man is an exceptional sentinel. I have invited him to join the Agency as soon as he bonds. I would like to arrange a "chance" meeting of him and the Harris Guide. I am sure he would claim Harris if he picks up his scent. He's been looking for a guide.

"Why not just offer him Harris as an incentive to join the Agency?"

"If he thinks we're trying to manipulate him we'll lose this chance."

"Arranging a chance meeting could be tricky."

"We are in luck there, sir," Peter said. "Xander Harris has accepted an invitation to a co-workers wedding and Sentinel Robert Wheaton, of the Lake View Police Department is retiring. I can arrange for him to have his retirement party at the same place and on the same day as the wedding. From there it would be a simple matter of making sure that Spikeman picks up Guide Harris' scent.

"And how will you guarantee that Spikeman picks up the scent?"

"I'll have someone in coat check make sure that Xander's scent gets on Spike's coat. From there all Spikeman will have to do is track him down in the wedding reception. It will be a simple matter for a sentinel like Spikeman. All I need is your okay, sir, and I can put this plan into motion. The wedding's in a month. Spike will file an intent to bond certificate and a week later I will give him a call, congratulate him on his new guide and tell him I have an opening in the Agency that I would like him to fill."

"And you're sure he'll take the job offer?"

"I'm sure sir. A sentinel with his talent is wasted in a town like Lake View and Spike knows it."

PRESENT-DAY

Peter startled as the ringing of the phone brought him out of his memories. "Sentinel Wall," he answered.

"I want you in my office in an hour with a full report on Guide Harris and your plan for getting the situation under our control."

It was the Sentinel Alpha Prime and he sounded like he was loaded for bear. "Yes, sir," Peter answered. The phone clicked dead and Peter sighed as he hung up.

"Do you have a plan?" Wesley asked.

"There is always a plan," Peter said as he swung his legs over the side of the bed and headed for the shower.

@@@@@@

The next day Sentinel Prime Peter Wall had been sitting in the Sentinel Alpha Prime’s waiting room for half an hour. From the muffled sounds Peter could hear coming from the Alpha Prime’s office the sentinel was using his guide. Not surprising in itself, any sentinel would scent mark his guide when he knew another sentinel was going to be close by, it was normal sentinel behavior; but the timing was inconsiderate as far as Peter was concerned. He was told to be here in one hour and he had arrived on time only to be keep waiting.

***

Peter didn’t like his boss; he was opinionated and unbending. The first time he had met the Alpha Prime he had brought his guide, Wesley, with him. The sentinel had looked Wesley up and down and asked what “its” number was. Peter didn’t understand at first, not until the sentinel turned his anger on Peter.

“Its psy number, what is it?” the Alpha Prime asked curtly, his anger clearly showing.

Peter gave a proud smile. “Wesley is a 7.8,” he said.

“Get it out of my office,” the sentinel said as he turned and walked to his desk. “I never want to see it in here again.”

When Wesley had closed the door behind him the Alpha Prime began his orientation speech. “I am Sentinel Alpha Prime Byron Macfie Harris. The Harris’ have been sentinels for as long as written records have been kept. I don’t believe in bonding with high functioning empaths. It takes away a sentinel’s edge, brings them down to mundane levels of functioning. My own guide is a 3.2, I can fuck her six time a day and not lose my edge. If I had my way guides would still be property and no sentinel under me would bond with a guide above a 3.9.But I don’t have my way and there are not enough guides to go around so we have to make do.”

‘Well,’ Peter thought, ‘that explains his anger.’ It was not advised to attempt a permanent bond with an empath rated lower than a 4. A low rated empath would not be able to channel away the stress that was worked up by a sentinel using his senses. An empath at that level could keep a sentinel from zoning or going rogue but the sentinel would never be able to completely relax either.

“According to your file,” the Alpha Prime continued, “you’re one of the best operatives in the Agency. That’s why you’ve been promoted to Sentinel Prime. But I am telling you right now, Wall, lose your edge on any of your assignments and you’ll be busted to night security guard on the docks. Got it?”

“Sir, yes, sir,” Peter answered. ‘Apparently the Sentinel Prime is a hard ass that thinks constant anger is an edge, Peter thought. ‘But it’s not the kind of edge I want.’

“Good, then we understand each other,” the Alpha Prime growled. “I have a long-term covert assignment for you. There is a guide, Alexander Harris, and before you ask, yes, he is a relative, my brother’s spawn to be exact. I just got a report that he was abused at guide school. It seems that this, Ethan Rayne, saw something in the guide and managed to bring out a reliable level of telepathic hazard perception. I want guide Harris brought into the Agency; I want you to find a suitable sentinel to bond with him. Unfortunately, the brat is a high level empath so it won’t be easy finding someone that can bond with him and keep his edge.”

‘There’s that edge thing again,’ Peter thought.

“I need a sentinel with the right mindset,” the alpha prime said while tapping his pen on his desk. “One that is committed to improving the sentinel gene pool. I plan on harvesting the guide’s genetic material and finding out where this hazard perception ability comes from. If it’s on his sentinel gene then we’ll breed him. If not we will splice it onto the sentinel gene and breed for the trait that way. It’s only fitting the ability should come from a Harris, and then this unfortunate smear of a guide in our family history can be erased.”

Peter was very practiced with not letting his emotions show. He managed, although not easily, to keep the shock he felt at the Alpha Prime’s distain for guides from his face. He had met other “old school” sentinels but none with such a high rank. Most of them were either retired or resigned when the reforms were put into place. Peter could see a guide tent at the corner of his peripheral vision. The tent had replaced the cage when cages were outlawed. He wondered how Sentinel Harris had climbed to the rank of Alpha Prime and decided that it must have been a case of, not what you know, but who you know.

“Don’t rush this, Wall,” the Alpha Prime commanded. “If it takes a year or two to find the right sentinel to claim the brat, so be it. Just make sure that the wrong sort doesn’t claim him and that the Agency gets control of the guide. All the information you need is in this folder. Dismissed.

Peter picked up the folder, saluted, and left the Alpha Prime’s office, glad to be out of his presence.

@@@@@@

The secretary’s voice jolted Peter out of his memories. “You can go in now.”

The smell of sex with a female guide assaulted Peter as he opened the office door. He managed to turn down his scent dial and set his face in an indifferent expression as he walked through the door.

“At ease,” the Alpha Prime snapped when Peter closed the office door and approached the Alpha Prime’s desk. “Report.”

“Guide Harris is recovering from his injuries.” Peter began in a clipped, no nonsense voice. “It has been confirmed by his doctors that his memories of the kidnapping incident, have been mostly destroyed; only disjointed fragments remain. Guide Sandburg and Sentinel Spikeman have been healing Guide Harris on a daily basis. Sentinel Ellison and Guide Sandburg have returned to work in the Major Crimes division of the Cascade Police Force. Sentinel Spikeman and Guide Harris remain on sick leave.”

“Did I hear you state in your report that Sentinel Spikeman was healing his guide?”

“Sir, that is correct, sir.” Peter wondered if he should report Spike’s healing ability to the Alpha Prime, but he knew that the sentinel would have reports from the doctors and he would be confronted with the information if he neglected to report it. In the end he decided to mention it in passing and hope that the Alpha Prime would stay focused on Xander and not switch to discussing Spike.

“Sentinel’s do not have healing abilities, Wall.”

“Sir, it appears that Sentinel Spikeman is unique in that ability, sir.”

“Has this been confirmed?” the Sentinel Prime asked.

“Sir, yes, sir,” Peter continued, keeping his eyes focused on a spot on the back wall of the office. “The doctors at the hospital have confirmed that the majority of Guide Harris’ healing has been accomplished with Sentinel Spikeman. Guide Sandburg’s contribution, while substantial, has been minimal in comparison.”

“How can Spikeman have healing abilities, does he carry a guide gene?”

“Sir, no sir, he does not. Guides never trigger as sentinels, sir.” He took an opportunity to get back to discussing Xander. “The Ellison pack believes that Ethan Rayne was attempting to trigger Guide Harris’ sentinel gene. What was done to Guide Harris would be enough to trigger any sentinel and yet his sentinel gene remains dormant.”

“So what you are telling me, Wall, is that Sentinel James Ellison, the best covert ops officer I have ever had the honor of meeting, and one damn suspicious bastard, has managed to bring into his pack a sentinel with healing abilities and a guide that has reliable hazard detection. Both of which were supposed to be in the Agency’s employ by now. Exactly how do you plan to fix this, Wall, and get the Harris guide and this Sentinel Spikeman into the Agency and under our control?”

“Sir, I don’t believe that is possible at this time. Sentinel Ellison has claimed sentinel Spikeman as his second and the sentinels have cross-bonded with Guides Sandburg and Harris. The best we can do at this time is to keep them monitored. I have a friendship with both Sentinel Ellison and Sentinel Spikeman and have put myself in a position of trust. I will be able to keep the situation under control.”

“Cross-bonding! How the hell did that happen, Wall? You were supposed to stay on top of this. Simple monitoring and friendship is not enough control, not with James Ellison in the picture.”

“Sir, the cross-bond happened before the abduction, sir.”

“That’s a mighty tight timeline you’re proposing, Wall.”

“Sir, yes sir, I agree, but it is how it happened.”

“How did Ellison find out Spikeman has healing abilities?”

Back to Spikeman again, Peter gave a mental moan. “Sir, I don’t believe that that is the reason that Sentinel Ellison claimed Spikeman for his second.”

“The man was a school teacher and a bad poet before he became a sentinel. Why else would a sentinel like Ellison bring him into his pack?”

“Sir, Spikeman is in everyway Jim Ellison’s equal as a sentinel.”

Alpha Prime Harris leaned back in his chair and glared at Sentinel Wall. “Look at me sentinel,” he said in a seething voice that sent a chill down Peter Wall’s spine. “Do you expect me to believe that a schoolteacher goes into a coma and comes out of it a first generation sentinel equal to James Ellison, a black ops trained officer, who has a family history of sentinels that stretch back as far as my own family history?”

Peter Wall blinked and swallowed when he looked into the angry indigo eyes of the Alpha Prime. Most men took a step back when confronted with those eyes. It took every ounce of will power Peter had to keep his feet firmly planted to the floor. “Sir,” he said as he swallowed and struggled to keep eye contact with the Alpha Prime. “I can only report the truth, sir.”

“You handpicked this Spikeman to bond with guide Harris. Now you tell me that he is an equal to James Ellison. In what way is that someone we can control? You are one damn lucky bastard that you have established trust with the Ellison Pack or you would be out of the Agency so fast you wouldn’t have a chance to kiss your ass good-bye. I’ll let you continue with the monitoring for now. This opportunity will not slip through my fingers. Guide Harris will contribute to the future upgrade of the sentinel gene pool. You’ve lost your edge on this matter, Wall, too much bonding with that high functioning guide. I can smell it on you. Figure out a way to get me that brat’s spunk in a cup and while you’re at it I’ll take Spikeman’s DNA as well. A sentinel with healing abilities could be very useful in the field. Do that, get your edge back, and I’ll consider letting you keep your guide; fail me and I will have that guide of yours declared unfit and your bond with him stripped, there are level three’s available for bonding. You’re a Sentinel Prime you can’t afford this kind of screw-up. Am I making myself clear sentinel?”

“Crystal, sir.”

“Failure is not an option, Wall. Dismissed.”

@@@@@@

Spike opened his arms to a glowing Xander when he returned to the kitchen with Jim. “Miss me?” Xander asked.

“A little,” Spike answered. “But I knew you were in good hands.” Spike looked at Jim and mouthed a thank you.

“Mmmm,” Xander said, as he snuggled his nose into Spike’s neck and began absent-mindedly licking.

Jim’s face clouded with concern and he looked at Blair who moved toward him. Blair knew what he was thinking, guides don’t lick sentinel’s necks. It is instinct for a sentinel to suck and lick a guide’s neck. A sentinel craves the pheromones that a guide gland gives off in large amounts when being stimulated. Sentinels have no such gland and even if they did, a guide would not have the hyper-senses needed to taste its excretions.

Xander had been a bit assertive while they renewed their bond. Jim didn’t think anything of it at the time. As soon as he rolled Xander onto his back he fell into the usual guide practice of letting the sentinel take the lead, but now he wondered if it was just Xander being Xander or something more.

“Hey, that tickles,” Spike said, as he pulled Xander’s head away. “And we need to eat dinner before it’s ruined.”

“Spike and I talked about this,” Blair whispered. “We’ll bring you up to date after dinner.”

Jim forced a smile on his face. “Let’s eat,” he said. “I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m famished.”

@@THAT EVENING@@

Spike was lost in a healing bond with Blair. He seemed to be wrapped in warmth. Blair filled Spike’s mind; the sight of him, his scent, his feel, the sound of his heartbeat and his taste, topped by the warm healing energy that Blair so freely gave.

Jim sat watching the healing bond. He wanted to be a part of it. The first time Spike had claimed Blair he couldn’t watch. Now that Blair had already been claimed he felt no reluctance to be there, giving support, both physical and emotional, to his chosen mate.

Jim sat with his back against the side of the nest; he held and stroked his guide. Blair lay in Jim’s arms as Spike finished preparing him and gently entered Blair. Jim’s cock was hard against Blair’s back and he closed his eyes to enjoy the sensation as Blair rose and fell back to the rhythm of Spike’s gentle thrusts. They were in a dance. The three of them seemed to whirl to the drumbeat of their hearts in sync. All of Jim’s perceptions were filled with Blair. He felt what the healer felt, the joy of being filled and giving his energy to his sentinel, the sexual pleasure that coursed through Blair’s body with each stroke of Spike’s cock against Blair’s sweet spot. Jim was one with his guide in a way he never dreamed he could be; the universe shifted and for a moment he was Blair, he perceived everything through Blair’s consciousness. He felt the insecurity of the child, always moving never having a place to call home and he saw himself as Blair’s rock, the stalwart standing fast and true, his home in the storm. And he felt the love Blair had for him. The knowledge of what it was to be Blair hit him hard and he threw back his head and roared. Spike answered with his own roar and all three climaxed in a ball of healing energy.

Xander watched the trio from the other side of the nest; he kept himself far enough away so that he would not pull any of Blair’s healing energy to himself. This healing was for Spike, but when the two sentinels roared their release, he moved to them. Spike pulled out of Blair and reached for Xander. He fell into his arms, nuzzled his nose into Xander’s neck, where he suckled, and fell into a healing sleep.

Jim and Blair laid down in each other’s arms. Jim held Blair and rocked him back and forth as Blair fell into the deep sleep he needed to recover from the healing bond, tears rolled down Jim’s face from the intensity of what he had just experienced. The irony of it wasn’t lost on him. He had reached a new level of bonding and it happened because he shared his guide with Spike. He looked at Spike, grateful that the cosmos had sent him this man that he had chosen for his second. He wasn’t sure if Spike was the catalyst for what had just happened, or the open doorway he chose to walk through. Perhaps Spike was both. Blair had said, after his bond with Spike, that there was a part of the sentinel that he couldn’t reach. Jim hadn’t understood it at the time. He just took Blair’s word for it. But now he understood. He looked over at his pack mates and saw the reflection of the nightlight in Xander’s eyes.

“Are you all right, Jim?” Xander whispered in a level pitched only for the sentinel’s ears.

“More then all right, Xan,” Jim answered. “We’re going to make it, the four of us, I can’t let any of you go. You need to roll over Xan, guides in the middle, sentinel’s on the end.”

“Spike’s zonked,” Xander answered. “He’s in a healing sleep.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Jim said. “If he wakes up in the morning with himself in the middle and you on the end he’ll skin me alive, and he’ll be right to do it. So, roll in close to us. I need to touch both of you.”

Xander rolled over, pulling Spike with him; he cuddled up against Blair. Jim threw his other arm over all three of his pack mates. He was the last to fall asleep; he hadn’t felt this contented since the first night he had brought Spike and Xander to share his bed, They were together, safe in their nest and they slept through the night until the alarm woke them in the morning.

@@@@@@

The four were just sitting down to breakfast when Peter and his guide, Wesley, came to the door. Blair and Xander could feel the tension that they were radiating, and Jim and Spike could smell it.

“Come in, Pete,” Jim said. “Have you had breakfast yet?”

“I’m not sure you’ll want to break bread with me, Jim, when I tell you what I have to say. All I ask is that you hear me out to the end. You may not like what I have to tell you but you need to hear all of it.”

“That sounds a little ominous,” Spike said, “for this early in the morning.”

“It’s worse then ominous. This is deep shit. Did you know that Xander’s uncle is the Alpha Prime of the North West Region?”

“Really?” Xander asked. “He didn’t have anything to do with my family while I was growing up. My dad never triggered as a sentinel so he was a family outcast and then to have a guide for a son just...well I guess the sentinel side of the Harris family doesn’t have any respect for guides.”

“That’s putting it mildly. But he knows about you, Xander. He has known at least since Blair reported the abuse. He had just gotten promoted to Alpha Prime and I got promoted to Sentinel Prime. He called me in his office. I went with Wesley but he threw Wesley out. He gave me a speech about how he didn’t believe in being bonded to a high functioning empath. He said his guide is a 3.2.”

“3.2,” Blair said. “It must have been a short term bond.”

“Unfortunately no,” Peter said. “It’s the same guide. I can smell her.”

“You didn’t come here to talk about the Alpha Prime’s guide,” Jim said. “So why did you come here?”

“You met the Alpha Prime, Jim. So, what’s your take on him?”

“Harris is a common name among sentinels,” Jim said. “I didn’t realize he was a relative of Xander’s and I don’t want any special treatment because of it.”

“Believe me you won’t get it,” Peter said. “Not from him, nothing positive anyway.”

Spike got a very bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. “What’s going on, Pete?” he asked, in voice that sent a shiver down Peter’s spine.

Peter looked at the two sentinels. Now that it came to it he didn’t know how to start.

Wesley rubbed Peter’s back. “You have to do this, Peter,” Wesley said. “Why don’t you sit down and have a cup of coffee. I think it will be easier that way. These men are your friends. They’ll understand.”

Blair got up and poured two cups of coffee. Jim called Simon to tell him they would be late. Peter and Wesley took seats at the kitchen table, but Peter couldn’t bring himself to talk. He just stared into his coffee.

Wesley decided to take matters into his own hands. “The Alpha Prime has threatened to have me declared unfit and strip my bond with Peter.”

Jim growled, “Pete, why?”

“What’s your psi rating?” Blair asked.

“7.8” Wesley said.

“He can’t do it, Peter,” Blair said. “It has to be approved by a tribunal and unless he has proof that Wesley is incompetent, it will never get approved. The risk of brain damage to a guide rated above a 6.5 is too great.”

“That’s what I would have thought before the general’s plane was shot down,” Peter said. “But now I am beginning to think that he can, and will have it done, if I don’t stop screwing things up.”

“He can’t blame you for the General’s plane,” Jim said. “That wasn’t foreseeable.”

“I think you should start at the beginning, Peter,” Wesley said. “They have a right to know everything.

“You’re right, Wes,” Peter said. “Head to the storm. It’s never as bad as you think it will be. Just let me tell you everything before you throw me out.” Peter took a drink of his coffee and then began to talk. “This all started, for me, when I got promoted to Sentinel Prime. I was called into the Alpha Prime’s office and given a long-term covert assignment. Blair had just reported Xander’s abuse and Alpha Prime Harris had a report about Xan’s telepathic hazard detection ability. He ordered me to monitor Xander and find a sentinel to bond with him. One that would come into the Agency and allow us to use Xander’s DNA for genetic experiments. He told me to take my time and make sure I got the right sentinel.”

Xander moaned and dropped his head onto Spike’s shoulder. “It’s okay Xan,” Spike said. “I’m with you, no one is taking you away from me.” Spike looked at Peter. “So, your boss is pissed because I claimed Xander before you found an appropriate sentinel?”

“No,” Peter said. “You are the sentinel I chose to bond with Xander. I set you up, Spike. I made sure you picked up Xan’s scent at the retirement party.”

Jim growled and Blair began stroking Jim’s arm.

“Why me, Peter?” Spike asked. “Not that I’m not grateful, but you must have known that I wouldn’t have allowed Xan to be used in genetic experiments.”

“I knew it, but Byron Harris didn’t. He looked at your file, all he saw was an ex-schoolteacher and first generation sentinel; he thought you would be controllable. That’s why I chose you. You were supposed to come into the Agency. I would have taken you for my second. I believed, at he time, we could protected Xander. But he ran and you met Jim. The rest is history.”

“Did you know about Rayne?” Jim asked.

“I knew he was never prosecuted for the abuse. I thought that Spike would come to the Agency for justice.” Peter shrugged. “The cosmos had other ideas.”

“Was it the Agency that kidnapped me?” Xander asked.

“No, but that is part of what’s so upsetting. There are hints that someone above the Alpha Prime, someone or some ones, high up in the government are involved in this. It was Byron Harris that ordered the General’s plane shot down and I don’t think he could have done that without clearance from someone above him in rank. To be blunt, the Alpha Prime has friends in high places. How high I don’t know. And he is not letting this go. He wants Xander and Spike’s DNA. He said if I don’t get it he will strip me of my bond with Wesley.”

“My DNA, that’s new,” Spike said.

“The Alpha Prime has been getting reports from the doctors treating Xander,” Peter said. “He knows you have healing abilities, Spike. He feels it will be a beneficial ability for sentinels in the field to have.”

“What do they want to use my DNA for?” Xander asked.

“That’s a moot point,” Spike said, “since they are not getting any of it.”

Xander looked at Spike. “If he doesn’t get our DNA and they try to break Wesley’s bond with Peter, Wesley could end up with permanent brain damage. I can’t have that on my conscience.”

“They have to prove with a preponderance of evidence that Wesley is unfit,” Blair said. “There’s no way that can happen.”

“Really, Blair?” Xander asked. “I was declared unfit and abused, and no one gave a damn, because I’m just a guide.”

“You weren’t bonded to a sentinel then. You didn’t have anyone to protect you.”

“And you think Wesley does. Peter is being punished and the Alpha Prime is using Wesley to do it. Do you really think Peter has any chance of protecting him?”

“And what about our children, Xan?” Spike asked. “You know they’ll use our sperm for breading. Who will protect our children, the ones we don’t even know exist?”

“So what are we going to do, Spike, stand by and let Wesley be mind raped?”

“Xan, you don’t have to worry. Wesley and I are leaving. We’ll disappear. I only came to warn you. The Alpha Prime is half insane, and this is personal. His words were that it was only fitting that Xander should contribute reliable hazard detection to sentinels. It would take away the smear of having a Harris guide in the family.”

“You can’t leave, Peter,” Jim said. “If Byron Harris is out of control then we need to stop him. We need to find out how far up this goes and you’re the only one on the inside that we can trust.”

“Easy for you to say, Jim,” Peter said. “It’s not your guide that’s at risk.”

“Xander is my guide!” Jim growled.

Peter stopped, frozen for a moment at he vehemence in Jim’s voice. “I’m sorry Jim,” he said. “I’m just stressed out by all of this.”

“There is a way to insure they won’t strip your bond with Wesley,” Blair said. “Let Wesley bond with a second sentinel. If two sentinels testified before the tribunal that Wesley is fit they would not be able to find him unfit.

“You want me to willingly let my guide bond with another sentinel?”

“I did it to save Blair,” Jim said. “You just need to choose the right sentinel, one you can trust with your guide’s life.”

“Graham,” Wesley whispered.

“Sentinel Prime Captain, Graham Miller?” Jim asked.

“Yes,” Wesley said. “Graham asked Peter to be his second but it was right after Peter met Spike. Peter wanted Spike for a second, so he turned Graham down.”

Peter looked at Wesley; his eyes were full of pain and worry for his guide. He did not want to be a second to Graham. He was an Alpha himself, an equal to Graham Miller, in every way except Agency rank, but this was his guide’s life he was dealing with, there was no room for his ego. If Spike could do it, be a second to Jim, then he could make the sacrifice and do it to save Wesley. He made his decision. “I’ll go talk to Graham.”

@@@@@@

Two days later Sentinel Prime Captain Graham Miller sat in his car, two houses from Jim Ellison’s home address. His guide, Riley Finn, seated patiently beside him, still glowing from being scent marked before they left their home. The sweet scent of his own smell mixed with Finn’s soothed Miller. They were about to go into a very alpha sentinel’s personal territory, never a relaxing proposition, not even if he’d been invited. There were protocols to observe and the inevitable recognition of dominance that couldn’t be determined until they were face to face. All in all, an awful lot of trouble to go through. It would be far simpler to just stay away.

“I don’t know why I agreed to come here,” Graham said to his guide. “This cross bonding just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

The idea made Graham’s skin crawl. He didn’t want anyone sharing his Guide. He couldn’t come up with a better reason to pull his gun and shoot someone. Just the thought of another Sentinel’s hand on his sweet Riley would do it for him, throw him into a killing rage. So he had no idea what he was doing outside Ellison’s home. Except he was so damn curious, he wanted to know, needed to know, WHY?

“You agreed because you have been trying to gather evidence to have Byron Harris removed for over a year. You finally have a chance to get a well respected sentinel on your side,” Riley pointed out. He couldn’t help but be aware of Graham’s unease. The tension racing through the sentinel was palpable, as if he were preparing for battle, not a meeting of friendly Sentinels and their Guides.

“I don’t know how much respect he has left with this cross-bonding shit. Having a pack is one thing; it's normal sentinel behavior and choosing a second is not uncommon in the Agency or with sentinels that spend most of their time in the field, but for cops...” Graham shook his head, his hands tightened on the steering wheel as he spoke. “This cross bonding with guides isn’t normal.”

“Detectives,” Riley corrected.

Graham looked at him, frowning. “What?”

“They are detectives,” Riley said again, mildly. He reached out threading his finger through Graham’s on the wheel and loosening the iron grip.

“Not a lot of difference from my point of view,” Graham said, allowing the touch, though he was usually more reserved in public. “They go home at night. They don’t sleep in the field. And why would Ellison choose an ex-schoolteacher for his second? The only reason I can think of is to protect the guide. But he could have done that without claiming Spikeman.”

“So you’re going to turn down the cross-bonding with Wesley?” Riley asked, speaking low and feeling a strange wave of disappointment wash over him.

“No, I won’t make up my mind before we talk. I do think the negatives outweigh the positives in it. But Peter is worried about his guide. I can’t just turn him down. I have to at least give Peter an informed no, besides I am damn curious as to why Ellison did it. I’ve met Ellison and his guide. He would kill anyone that touched Blair without permission. I just can’t picture Ellison willingly sharing his guide.”

And that was the truth. Graham couldn’t figure out a scenario that would fit the facts. He had tried over and over and always came to the same dead end. It only made his need to know burn hotter. He tried again to picture what he knew to be true. He tried to picture Ellison, the ex-special forces sentinel standing by while another sentinel lay Blair on his back and entered him. But all he could picture was an Ellison in restraints; he laughed out loud at the thought of what it would take to get Ellison into them.

“Well we’re about to get our questions answered. Peter and Wesley just drove up,” Riley said, instead of asking about the laugh. He liked it too much to question it. Graham, his sentinel, didn’t find a lot to laugh about and each and every smile or laugh was precious to Riley Finn.

The laugh disappeared with a sigh as Graham got out of the car, determined to quell his curiosity and get some answers.

@@@@@@

Jim saw Graham’s nostrils flare and the hackles on the back of his neck rise as soon as he stepped through the front door. “Graham, welcome,” Jim said, his face stoic but offering his hand to the career military sentinel. “It’s been awhile.”

“Yes, too long, Jim,” Graham said with an equally stoic expression as he shook Jim’s hand. He was busy cataloging the parts of the house he could see and the people in it. Riley, bless him, was staying firmly behind his Sentinel. Not further complicating the mix by making Graham worry about his safety before he had the situation scouted out. “I’m sorry it couldn’t have been under happier circumstances.”

Jim nodded agreement with Miller’s assessment of the mess they now found themselves embroiled in. “You know my Guide, Blair.” Blair stepped forward, smiling. But not far enough to move beyond the shelter of Ellison’s bulk. He stayed behind him, keeping his sentinel happy.

Graham nodded at the glowing guide but did not offer his hand. He sniffed and could smell that Blair had been scent marked by two sentinels. His hair rose further, it just... It made him nervous and he fought to keep his lips from peeling back and showing his teeth. Riley moved up in back of his sentinel. Gently and subtly as he could, he channeled off the stress his sentinel felt.

“And this is my claimed second, Sentinel William Spikeman, he goes by Spike.” Jim sounded proud as he introduced Spike.

With Riley plastered against his back, Graham managed to turn his head and look at the ex-schoolteacher and quickly sized him up. He was slimmer then most sentinels and barely six feet tall, not much bulk to speak of, almost guide-ish in appearance. If it weren’t for the square jaw and intense blue eyes he would have trouble believing he was a sentinel at all. Spike offered his hand and Graham took it. He immediately felt a very pleasant energy surge go through him. His nostrils flared as he took a deep breath and moved to shake Spike’s hand with both of his hands.

“Nice to meet you,” Spike said and then gave a small jerk as Sentinel Miller began to pattern Spike’s palm with his fingertips. His blue eyes widened and he made a strange ugg sound with his sudden intake of breath.

Xander felt the energy bump through his link with Spike. His nostril’s flared and his pupils dilated as he glared at the high-ranking sentinel. Xander pressed in against Spike’s back, much as Riley was doing, but this wasn’t subtle, it was overt, and his arms came around Spike like steel cables, anchoring them together. It was fine with Spike, he melted into the embrace, giving Xander as much comfort as he was able.

With more than a little effort, Spike pulled his hand away from Sentinel Miller as he introduced Xander. As soon as Spike was free, Xander pulled them backward three steps. He made it clear that he wanted to keep a distance between them and the military pair that stood in their doorway.

If Graham had seen the pair from a distance he would have thought Xander Harris was the sentinel. He was bigger than Spike and with his unusually broad shoulders and thick dark hair he had the look of a Harris family sentinel. The aggressive body language was more sentinel than guide. Just as the melting quality of Spikeman’s posture as Harris embraced him was pure Guide. It was weird, and to Graham, standing in strange territory, weird was synonymous with dangerous.

“Why don’t we go into the living room,” Jim said, cutting through the building tension. “We can sit comfortably in there and have a beer while we talk.” ‘And give Blair a chance to work his calming magic... and Spike a chance to get Xander under control,’ he thought.

Blair went into the kitchen to get the beer and Wesley and Riley followed to help, leaving the three sentinels and Xander in the living room. Xander glared at Miller who ignored the guide as he busied himself mentally cataloging Spikeman.

Spike was wearing a tight black t-shirt that left his arms bare so that Xander could have the skin-to-skin contact that he needed. Graham could see that Spike’s relatively thin frame was all muscle. He watched Spike move across the living room one hand placed gently on his guide’s back. Graham’s eyes dilated as he evaluated Spike’s gate and listened to the soft pat of his bare feet on the hardwood floor, he didn’t move like a schoolteacher; he moved like a predator, Graham’s mouth began to water as he tasted the air Spike had walked through. The bare feet, a sign of submission to an Alpha sentinel, were surprisingly...stimulating.

‘This could be the man who put restraints on Ellison,’ he thought as he watched Spike move.
Unconsciously his tongue flicked out to lick his lips.

Spike and Xander sat on one of the sofas. Xander curled up on Spike’s right with Spike’s arm around him. Xander pulled the arm across his chest and gently stroked it, his nostrils flared, as if he were scenting the air.

Gaham’s brows shot up. ‘No it wasn’t possible,’ Graham thought. ‘Was it?’ The other sentinels in the room seemed not to notice the odd way the Harris kid was behaving. Graham grabbed for control. He was in another sentinel’s territory and he had to get a hold on himself and stop letting his mind play tricks on him.

Graham sat on Spike’s left. He thought he heard a low growl from Xander as he sat down but guides don’t growl so he categorized it as a stomach rumble. Thinking how funny it was that it sounded just like a territorial warning, one he had used himself more than once.

Spike knew his guide was capable of growling. “It’s okay, Pet,” Spike said, stroking Xander’s arm. “He’s not going to hurt you, he’s here to help.” Spike looked at Graham. “This is the first time since the kidnapping he’s been around a strange sentinel,” he explained.

Graham blinked. Spikeman was explaining as if...He stared at the dark brown eyes fastened on him from over Spikeman’s shoulder. As if the growl... No he had to be mistaken it wasn’t the growl Spike was referring to it was the glare and the intimate way Xander was holding and stroking his sentinel.

“Hey.” Graham looked up, startled that Ellison’s Guide had managed to sneak up on him. “A beer?” Blair asked.

Graham nodded and took the beer Blair offered, accepting a second one and after sniffing it, passed it over to Riley with a nod of permission to drink.

Blair handed Spike and Xander cokes. Xander wasn’t allowed alcohol since the overdose and Spike simply refuse all alcohol until Xander recovered. Blair went to sit on the other sofa with the other two guides. Jim and Peter sat in the two remaining living room chairs.

Jim looked at Graham. He knew the man well and decided there was no point in wasting time with small talk. “I understand you have some questions about the cross-bonding,”

Graham leaned forward on the sofa. He rested his elbows on his knees and held the brown beer bottle between his legs. “Mostly I want to know why you did it, Jim. You’re the last sentinel I could imagine sharing his guide. Now that I’ve met Spikeman I understand why you chose him for your second...”

As he said Spike’s name, Graham placed one hand on Spike’s knee. His strong fingers were gentle as they cupped it seeking to feel the power of the man beneath the denim jeans.

Spike startled at the unexpected touch, he knew the reaction he caused in many Alpha sentinels but none had ever been this brazen before. He could feel Xander’s muscles tighten when Graham touched him, but he wanted this man to help them. He was not happy about Graham’s behavior but he believed Graham was trying to figure out if he could trust him enough to align himself with Jim’s pack. Pushing Graham away wasn't a practical thing to do, so, instead, he began to murmur soft soothing sounds to his guide.

Xander was even less happy about Graham’s behavior then Spike was and his big hand made its journey downward to lay itself over Spike’s crotch. Spike looked down at Xander’s hand, embarrassed at the intimacy of the touch in front of a strange sentinel but removing Xander’s hand was not an option. Xander was on the edge and Spike knew that he was probably lucky he wasn’t being stripped and claimed right now, company be damned.

“But, what I don’t understand,” Graham continued, unaware of Xander’s protective move, “is your cross-bonding with the guides and nesting with them.” Graham let his hand stroke Spike’s thigh as he sat back on the sofa. Xander gave a loud growl as he saw the sentinel’s hand move closer to Spike’s crotch and then he lunged for Graham.

Spike was faster and stood up, snatching Xander from what seemed like mid air. “He’s mine,” Xander
screamed as he reached for the sentinel’s neck. Graham could feel the movement of the air against his skin
as Xander’s fingers slipped past.

Jim and Blair were out of their seats in a flash.

‘Fast for a Guide, too fast,’ Graham thought as he stood up ready to defend himself, knowing it was impossible for the smaller man to hold onto the raging larger one. But somehow Spike did the impossible and held the struggling, angry, guide, then he got a glimpse of something else impossible just before Jim cut off his line of sight; Spike’s eyes had turned yellow.

“It’s okay, Luv,” Spike said in an English accent, “I’m yours, Luv, yours forever.”

Graham Miller stared, his mouth hanging open as the slim Sentinel picked up the larger, growling and thrashing Guide, with no more difficulty then picking up a gallon of milk and carried him off to the nesting room.

“He’s mine,” Xander screamed again over Spike’s shoulder, still clawing the air trying to get to the offending sentinel.

@@@@@@

When Xander went for Graham, Peter got out of his seat and quickly went to protect Wesley, making sure he stayed down. Riley tried to go to his sentinel but Peter held him back. “Let Jim and Spike handle it,” he whispered in the guide’s ear, his eyes glued on the scene as it played out. He panted, tasting the air, filtering for Spike’s scent and any clue that things had gotten out of the pack’s control. He was thankful that they were in the new house with room to maneuver, in case it came to that, and a private room to take Xander to instead of the tight quarters of the loft apartment. He wasn’t surprised to see Spike’s yellow eyes or the smaller man pick up a struggling, angry Xander and carry him away. He’d seen the yellow eyes before, and knew Spike was stronger then he looked. As soon as Spike and Xander were safely out of the living room he let Riley go to Graham and he pulled Wesley to the front door. A sentinel put in that situation had a choice, fight or bond. He needed to get out of the overwhelming scent of testosterone and pheromones before he reached a point of no return. Peter left the front door open as he stepped out onto the porch. Gulping fresh air, clutching Wesley and fighting for control. He hoped that fresh air entering the house, would reach the two sentinels in the living room, forestalling a disaster. But the wind was wrong and the open door only served to pull the scent of bonding out off the nest toward the open door, past the two sentinels in the living room.

For Captain Miller, object of the attack, it was already too late, the choice had to be made, fight or bond, and Miller was not the type to bond in front of another sentinel.

“What the hell just happened, Jim?” Graham growled. “That was a sentinel that tried to attack me, not a guide. If that’s the result of cross-bonding I don’t want anything to do with it.” Riley was by Graham’s side trying to pry the sentinel’s fingers from the empty beer bottle. The beer was now a puddle on the floor as Graham had instinctively turned the bottle to use as a weapon against Xander.

“It’s not,” Blair said in his soothing guide voice. “That’s the result of years of abuse and an overdose of drugs during the abduction; it left Xander with brain damage.” Blair and Jim watched carefully as the sentinel refused to give up his weapon.

Riley had no choice. He sunk to his knees in the puddle of beer and bowed his head. “Master,” he whispered, for the sentinel’s ears alone, but Jim heard the guide clearly, and so did Peter pacing outside with his hearing turned up to monitor the goings on inside.

Graham broke eye contact with Jim and looked at his guide. Riley was in need, the danger had passed and the guide’s whisper was a call that could not be ignored. Graham let the empty bottle drop to the floor as he put his hands in his guide’s hair. The decision had been made. Bond!

“We have a private room,” Blair said.

“Where?” the Captain asked.

“This way.”

Graham looked around the room as he pulled Riley to his feet. He saw Jim and growled a warning. Jim backed up slowly, small non-threatening steps, until his back was pressed against the wall. Graham, satisfied that the sentinel was no threat, moved with his guide to follow Blair.

Blair made his way to the spare bedroom. There was no furniture; the pack hadn’t foreseen that the room would be needed so soon. There was only wall-to-wall carpeting, but it beat the back seat of a car with windows anyone could see through.

Blair opened the door and stepped aside to let the sentinel and his guide through. “I’ll bring lube,” He said.

“No, I’m set,” Riley said, as Graham pushed him into the room and slammed the door.

@@@@@@

Spike carried Xander into the nesting room and kicked the door shut before putting Xander down. As soon as the guide was free he tore off Spike shirt and pulled him to the floor of the nest. Xander kissed Spike hard, with an urgent need and Spike responded in kind. He let Xander put him on his back and Xander lay on top, his mouth rooting for a guide gland on Spike’s neck. Frustration set in and Xander growled deep and angry; he was a sentinel lost in a bonding thrall. Spike guided Xander’s head to his chest and finding the small nipple Xander latched on to it, sucking and biting, making it swell. Xander was brutal in his need, Spike moaned with the pleasure pain of it.

“Yes, baby, yes,” Spike mewed as Xander worried the tender bit of flesh between his teeth. “Yours, my Luv, always yours, forever.”

Xander stopped and looked up into yellow eyes. “I want you,” he growled.

“I’m yours to claim, Luv,” Spike said. He grabbed the lube that the pack always kept handy in the nest and squeezed a large dollop onto Xander’s hand.

Xander moved down and took Spike’s hard weeping cock into his mouth. He had given Spike oral pleasure many times but this was different. Now Spike was the submissive as Xander’s mouth ravaged him and his fingers massaged Spike’s hole.

Spike fisted the sheets on either side of him as he lifted his hip and moaned his encouragement. One of Xander’s fingers slipped into Spike and Spike’s hips rose to meet it. Xander’s finger thrust in and out matching the rhythm of his mouth on Spike’s cock. Then two fingers entered Spike.

“Yes Luv, more, please, more. Claim me Luv, please.”

Xander inserted a third finger, scissoring them and stretching his guide for the inevitable penetration and claiming to come.

@@@@@@

Blair came back to the living room and found Jim still pressed against the wall. “Are you okay, Jim?”

“Too many pheromones, too much testosterone, need to bond.”

Blair went to Jim and put one arm around the big guy. “Come on, let’s get you to the nest.”

When they got to the nest they froze in the doorway. Xander was on top of Spike. Spike’s legs and arms were wrapped around Xander as Xander thrust into him. Both men knew it would happen eventually. Spike had said as much more than once. But neither expected to witness it.

This claiming was different somehow. Jim could hear it. The sounds Spike was making were guide sounds, and the scent was not quite right either. Jim opened his mouth and tasted the air. The taste was there, it was the taste of Xander, not Guide taste but Sentinel. Jim had tasted it before but always diluted, now it had come into full bloom and filled the nest. Jim gave a low growl as he watched the scene.

Blair was the first to recover from the sight and he pulled Jim down onto the nest floor and guided him to suckle. Jim gave another low growl and a cursory lick to Blair’s neck but refused to take his eyes from Spike and Xander.

“Jim, it’s okay,” Blair said. “We knew they would do this sooner or later.”

“Xander’s triggered,” Jim said. “He’s a sentinel, I can smell it.”

“Mine,” Xander screamed.

“Yours,” Spike answered at they completed the claiming.

Jim started to move toward the couple, but Blair held him back. “Jim, let them have some time.”

“Can’t do that, Chief. Xander’s a sentinel now. If he wants to stay a member of the pack he has to defer to me as head of the pack. Don’t interfere in sentinel business, Guide.”

“What are you going to do, Jim?”

“Claim my third guide.”

“There isn’t any third guide, I’m your guide.”

“Spike’s a guide, he’s glowing. Xander’s claimed him and now he needs to let me claim him.” Jim broke away from Blair and moved toward Xander and Spike.

“He’s mine,” Xander said without any of the anger he has shown before the claiming.

“Yes,” Jim said, “and mine too. I need to claim him, Xan. I’m head of the pack, you need to let me do this.”

“Doesn’t Spike have a say in this?” Xander asked.

“Xan, it’s okay,” Spike said.

“You’re his sentinel,” Jim said. “I need your permission first.”

“I’m a guide, Jim.” Xander said as he began to stroke Jim’s arm. “Blair, you need to get over here Jim is in some kind of a weird fugue state.”

“I can’t,” Blair said. “You just triggered. You’re a sentinel now. This is sentinel-to-sentinel business I can’t get involved.”

“Look at him, Xan, he’s glowing, and Spike’s your guide.”

Xan looked at Spike and saw the glow. “I don’t understand, Spike is a sentinel, He shouldn’t be glowing.”

Spike took Xan into his arms, “It’s okay love. We’ll deal with this, but right now Jim needs to claim me. I know you’re confused, love. Just tell Jim he has your permission to claim me. You have to say the words.”

“You’re going to top him aren’t you?” Xander asked.

“Yes, it’s what I need to do,” Jim said.

“Will you make it beautiful for him?” Xander asked.

“I’ll never disrespect you, Xander,” Jim said, as he removed his clothes. “We’re pack.”

“Sentinel, claim your guide,” Xander said as he looked at Spike and the golden glow that emanated from him.

“I knew it would come to this someday,” Spike said as Jim lay down next to him.

Jim didn’t answer, he just leaned in and began patterning Spike’s body. As soon as he touched Spike he felt the familiar warm healing energy flow through him, but this time it was stronger. Jim moaned and pulled Spike into a passionate kiss. Spike wrapped his arms around Jim and returned the kiss and the two men began to make love.

Xander went to Blair and fell down beside him. “I don’t understand, Blair,” he said.

“How can Spike be a guide. He doesn’t have a guide gene.”

“I don’t know,” Blair said. “But it would account for why all the Alpha sentinels are so attracted to him and why he can heal.”

“Are you okay, Blair, with Jim claiming Spike?”

“We’re already family,” Blair said. “This just keeps us in balance.”

“I hope so,” Xander said, “because I need to suckle and Spike doesn’t have a guide gland.”

Blair bared his neck for Xander and for the first time in Xander’s sentinel life he began to purr as he sucked Blair’s neck.

Jim took his time patterning Spike. Instinct had him search Spike’s neck several times, trying to find a guide gland. Jim growled in frustration and Spike would stoke his back and whisper sounds of comfort. Spike’s energy filled Jim and he could feel the bond he had with Spike deepen. When he finally entered Spike everything seemed to click into place and for a brief moment everything was crystal clear. Jim understood, Spike was still his second, unique and beautiful, but he was also a guide, unlike any that had come before him. Then Jim roared out his claim of “mine” and Spike answered, “yours.”

When the claiming was done all four men felt a pull they could not resist and they all came together in the center of the nest. The scents of the claiming mingled together for the two senior sentinels and the energy vibrations filled Blair and Xander. They lay together in silent exhaustion; all closed there eyes and fell into a deep sleep.

@@@@@@

As soon as the door slammed shut, Graham pushed Riley to the floor and straddled him, sitting on his belly. “You called me Master in front of another sentinel. I told you never to do that.”

“I’m sorry, Master, it was the only thing I could think of,” Riley replied.

“You knelt in a puddle of beer and you stink like a brewery.”

“I’m sorry, Master. Please forgive me.”

“Forgive you, Riley, is that what you want?”

“No, Master, I want to be punished. It’s been so long.”

“How long?”

“Seventy-nine days, Master.”

Graham ripped open Riley’s shirt. The buttons flew across the room, some tapping the wall like a hard rain. The sentinel bent down and bit Riley’s nipple.

Riley hissed at the pain and his cock became instantly hard. He didn’t know why he enjoyed the pain so much, why he craved it and needed it. He only knew that it somehow cleared his mind and made him a better guide. Graham was an Alpha Sentinel but not inclined to be a slave master. He gave Riley what he needed and rarely rewarded him with more. Graham made it all precious, every moment and he kept it that way. But Graham had rules and the most important one was that they kept the master/slave relationship in the bedroom and very private. Now Riley had called his sentinel, Master, in front of other Sentinels and Guides. Riley was determined to make it right, he would find a way to tell the Sentinels that Graham was only giving him what he needed.

“Can’t punish you right now, I need you too much. But when we get home I’ll give you a spanking, I promise.” Graham reached into Riley’s pocket and pulled out the lube he knew was there and then he got off his guide. “Get up and strip, then get on your knees and spread your cheeks for me. I’m going to take you from behind.”

Riley got up and stripped, unable to keep the smile from his face. He knew that if he begged hard enough the sentinel would make it hurt, just a little. God forgive him. He wanted it so much.