Runaway Guide 1
by Joan Z and Neichan
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I am only keeping the fandom alive in our hearts.
Thank you to my beta Kerensa and a special thanks to Neichan whose discussions about character interaction helped me to polish this story.
This story is a crossover with BtVS. Runaway Guide 2 and 3 will also crossover with NCIS.
Additional Pairings: Spike/Xander, Jim/Xander,Jim/Spike,Spike/Blair
PROLOG TO RUNAWAY GUIDE
The Cosmic Intervention caseworker raced to where she needed to be.
In an alternate universe of the multi-verse Spike laughed as holy flames consumed his vampire body. Then white walls seemed to form around him and he saw a glowing woman standing before him.
"So," Spike asked, "are you here to inflict eternal torment on me?"
"No," she said, "I don't do eternal torment, it's boring."
"Then who are you?"
"I am tired of answering the same question every time I visit. I'm going to fix it so you'll remember me when you see me." She lifted up her hand and poked Spike in the middle of the forehead; he felt something inside his head click.
"Oh its you," Spike said, "What do you want this time."
"I've come to arrange for your reward."
"How about rest in peace?"
"You are an immortal soul, there is no such thing as rest in peace."
"Buffy went to heaven."
"She was in a waiting area; do you think The Powers didn't know what Willow was planning?"
"So there is hell but no heaven?" Spike asked.
"I didn't say that. Even in heaven there is work to do; hence, no rest in peace. Can we get back to your reward?"
"Can I be human and be with Buffy?"
"I wouldn't advise that. Angel asked The Powers to turn back the clock when he became human. He was afraid he would end up getting Buffy killed."
"Angel was human?"
"For twenty-four hours."
"Lack of imagination is what he has," the caseworker said with a scoff. "There were all kinds of options open to him, but nooo, he has to go back to being a vampire with a cursed soul."
"What kinds of options?" Spike asked.
"I'm not here to talk about what Angel didn't do, I need to make arrangements for what you want to do."
"Right, Luv, What are my options?"
"You do not have a lack of imagination, Poet, use it!"
Spike thought for a moment. "I want to be human, with the same mystical powers I had as a vampire."
"So, you want to be a sentinel."
"What's a Sentinel?" Spike asked.
"I don't have time for redundancies," she said with a glaring look. When Spike didn't answer she continued with a sigh, "A Sentinel is a male human with enhanced senses very similar to a vampire. It is a common choice for champions from other realities to choose it for their reward. Sentinels bond with a Guide, who is usually a soul mate. They work protecting the helpless."
"Then I can keep working on redemption."
"You're already redeemed, it's the amends you need to keep working on."
"And my soul mate, who is that?" Spike asked.
"You can choose which ever one you like."
"Was that an earth quake?" Spike asked.
"No the amulet has been called back, I need to get you out of here. I'm sending you to a Sentinel universe. Now!"
Spike said good-by to his friends and left the retirement party. If truth be told he was glad to leave. He had turned down his scent dial to keep the smell of booze and smoke to a minimum, but the loud talk and laughter had played havoc with his hearing. He walked down the hall toward the coat check and could hear the band playing at the wedding reception down the hall. The guests were rocus, half singing and half yelling ‘The Bride Feeds the Groom’. He tried to dial down his hearing, but only succeeded in turning up his scent dial. He cursed his lack of control, he just couldn’t find a balance for his put upon senses. He badly needed a guide, but he knew in his soul that none of them he had come across at the guide meets were right for him. He didn’t bother to try to turn his scent dial down. There didn’t seem to be a point. He would just go home and take a nice warm shower then meditate like he had learned in sentinel training. He’d get a good night’s sleep and everything would seem better in the morning.
When Spike got to the coatroom he handed the clerk his tag. It was when she handed him his coat that he picked up the scent. It was ambrosia, heaven sent. He lifted his coat, held it to his nose and took a deep breath. “Guide,” he whispered as he realized his life had suddenly and irrevocably changed.
"Let me see the coat that was next to mine," he ordered the clerk in his best police detective voice.
"I can't give it to you without the tag," she said.
Spike scowled, but managed to keep from giving a warning growl, he pulled out his badge identifying him as Sentinel Detective William Spikeman of Lakeview PD, the clerk shrugged and handed him the coat. He inhaled a large whiff. "Guide," he murmured as the essence of his new found guide traveled to his hippocampus and locked into his memory. Now, at this moment the sentinel had only one purpose in life, find the guide. He turned and walked down the hall toward the wedding reception.
"Hey," the coatroom clerk yelled. "You can't take the coat away from here."
"It belongs to my Guide," Spike called back without looking at the clerk. "I'll make sure he gets it." He didn’t see the smile on the coat clerks face. Sentinel Spikeman had taken the bait. The covert plan was working.
As Spike approached the reception room his eyes changed from their usual lapis blue to the dark sapphire of a Sentinel on a mission. Standing just inside the doorway Spike was hyper focused on separating out the scent of his guide. He turned his head slowly, his nostrils flared and his sight turned to a soft blur as he scent scanned the room. He could smell that the guide was in the room, but the scent was too diluted by the number of guests and their movement around the room for him to get a precise location. He walked over to the nearest table, ignoring the laughter and conversations he began sniffing the men, quickly eliminating each one and moving on to the next.
One of the men at the table took offense, "Hey buddy! What do you think you're doing?"
Spike growled, How dare anyone come between him and his guide?
The man’s wife pulled on her half drunk husband’s sleeve and whispered into his ear. “That’s a sentinel. He’s looking for someone, don’t interfere.”
Spike could smell the fear coming off the woman. He couldn’t afford the time to teach the drunk a lesson, and he didn’t want to listen to the woman’s screams while he did, so he pulled out his police badge and showed it to the people at the table. "Do any of you know who this coat belongs to?"
No one knew so the Sentinel continued on to the next table. He got no more questions, The wedding guests just sat up straight and quiet in their chairs as Spike continued to make his way around each table. By the time he made it to the fifth table the feel of the room had changed. The laughter and loud conversations had turned to whispers as the information spread that a Sentinel was in the room and he was searching for someone.
Alexander Harris, a high level empath, could feel the emotional change of the room take place, from laughter and enjoyment, to curiosity and then to caution. He looked up and saw that a blonde man with a Sentinel's square jaw was carrying his coat and sniffing men.The Sentinel was only two tables away. He stood up, lifting his chair with him as he stepped back. It wouldn’t do to make a noise that would attract the sentinel’s attention. Xander put the chair down carefully and side stepped away from the table making sure to stay out of the Sentinel's line of vision, he took a circuitous route, putting as many people and tables as he could between him and his hunter as he left the room. He walked swiftly out of the building and ran as fast as he could to his car. He dug through his pocket for his keys, but his hand was shaking so badly he dropped them before he finally got the door opened. He forgot to turn off the alarm, the blaring noise startled him and worse, he knew the sentinel would hear it. He got into the car, but he was shaking so much he had trouble getting the key into the ignition. He banged on the steering wheel in frustration then got a hold of himself. He took a deep cleansing breath, forcing himself to calm. The tremor stopped and he was able to put the key in the ignition and drive away.
Spike was at the empty chair, still strong with his guide’s scent. He touched it; it was still warm. Then he heard the car alarm and he knew; his Guide was on the run. Spike’s head snapped up and his softly blurred vision changed to sharp focus as he scanned the room for the nearest exit. There was a fire exit steps away and Spike ran for it, pushing the emergency bar and setting off the alarm. The loud siren didn’t slow him down, he didn’t even flinch, he simply ran, sliding over car hoods to get to the isle where he could see a car backing out of a space. He made it, arriving at the roadway as Xander pulled away. Spike dialed up his vision and got his guide’s plate number. Than quickly called 911 to cancel the fire alarm.
Xander glanced in the rear view mirror and saw the Sentinel looking after him. He knew then that he could not chance going home. He was desperate; He didn't want to bond with a Sentinel. His father had made it clear that male guides were nothing but sex slaves. He had no intention of becoming the property of a Sentinel. *Three days,* he told himself. *Just hold out for three days; by then he'll know it's no good and he'll give up.* He went to an ATM across town and took out the limit of his money and then got on the highway. He didn’t care what direction he was going in, all he knew, all he cared about was getting as far from the sentinel as he could. He traveled until midnight and found a Residence Inn. He figured the sentinel would get his financial records and know he got cash from the ATM. The sentinel would think he was staying someplace cheap and check those motels first. He paid cash for a one night stay, but had to show his driver's license so he couldn’t sign in with a false name. He went to his room figuring he would get a few hours sleep and leave at sunrise, but sleep did not come easy for the fleeing guide. He planned on keeping to the back roads, if the Sentinel didn’t have a B.O.L.O. out on him yet he soon would.
Spike ran the plates to get his Guide's name and address. He requested Alexander Harris’s files from Guide school, and then called his apartment complex to make sure someone was there to let him in.
Spike knew there had to be a reason Harris was running, find the reason, find the guide. Guides knew better; a Sentinel who had found his 'One True Guide' didn't give up just because the guide ran. "One True Guide" he whispered to himself. Yesterday he hadn't believed in 'One True Guide'; he thought it was just a bunch of hokum made up by mundanes to romanticize the Sentinel/Guide relationship. He had no memory of the promise that his cosmic intervention case worker had made. Spike pulled up in front of Xanders's apartment. A maintenance man waited with keys to let him in.
Harris lived in a basement apartment next to the laundry room. Spike could sense something strange about it when he walked in but it took him a moment to put his finger on it. There were no pictures on the wall and no pictures of people anywhere. There was a bookcase full of movies and video games, a TV, a DVD player, an X-box, a computer and a stereo. He looked through the CD collection first. Xander had an eclectic taste in music; Spike smiled, so did he. Then he turned on the computer and waited for it to boot up. Spike found that the computer stored Xander's password so he had no trouble getting into his e-mail. There was nothing personal. Spike signed into the police network and brought up Xander's guide school records.
IDENTIFIED AS A POTENTIAL GUIDE AT AGE 13. ENROLLED IN GUIDE SCHOOL UPON GRADUATION FROM HIGH SCHOOL AT AGE 18.
EMPATHIC LEVEL: 8.7
THIS GUIDE HAS DEMONSTRATED HEALING CAPABILITIES.
Spike whistled. The empathic scale went from 0 to 10, anything over 8.0 was quite rare.
TELEPATHIC LEVER: 8.9/2.7
GUIDE HAS DEMONSTRATED A HIGH ABILITY, 8.9, FOR HAZARD DETECTION; HOWEVER, HIS TELEPATHIC LEVEL DROPS TO 2.7
WHEN FACED WITH MUNDANE TASKS SUCH AS CARD READING. IT IS BELIEVED THIS DICHOTOMY DEVELOPED AS A RESULT OF HIS HISTORY OF ABUSE.
Spike re-read the last sentence and then looked around the room. It all fell into place. Someone had hurt his Guide. Hurt him so badly he no longer had the ability to trust. That's why no pictures of family and friends were in his apartment; that's why he ran. It wouldn’t help him find Harris, but it did tell him something. Harris was smart. He would do the unexpected.
Spike put out a B.O.L.O. on Alexander Harris stressing his Guide, rather than criminal, status."
RUNAWAY GUIDE: DO NOT APPROACH.
REPEAT: DO NOT APPROACH.
MONITOR AND NOTIFY LAKEVIEW SENTINEL DETECTIVE WILLIAM SPIKEMAN OF GUIDE'S WHEREABOUTS.
He knew no police officer would risk incurring a Sentinel's wrath because of an injured Guide. Next he logged onto the Sentinel/Guide Alliance site and filed an Intention to Bond Certificate. He was surprised to find he had to sign a waver. Harris had been declared unsuitable to bond, but there was no notice or reason for the declaration on public record. Spikeman signed the waiver, now he was legal. He didn't have to worry about getting a search warrant for Xander's financial records; or relying on assumptions that there was already one on file.
When Spike had done everything a detective could do to track a fugitive on the run he went into the bedroom and laid down on the bed. He moaned. He wanted and needed his guide. He reached out and pulled one of the pillows to him, the bright red pillowcase was in stark contrast to the sentinel's pale skin. The scent of his guide was strongest on the pillow so he hugged it close, as close as he could and still breath. His breath, each glorious breath was not only scented but tasted. He closed his eyes and brought his knees up and curled around the sacred artifact, the pillow, an item to be cherished. Spike's body ached for his Guide. That was something he didn't anticipate, physical pain. He had Xander's scent but he needed to know his feel, his sound and his taste. He wanted to drink him in with his eyes. He needed more than the small picture of him in the Guide school records. He moaned again as he clutched at the pillow, trying to will it to become the warm body of his Guide. He couldn't just lie there; he had to do something.
He got up and started to pace. The detective in him knew the best thing to do was to wait right where he was, but the Sentinel in him wanted to run and track his Guide, the Sentinel wanted to find his Guide, drink from him and claim him as his one and only. The detective was more practical. Any information about which way the young man had run would come through the computer. He couldn't leave until he knew where to go.
With an iron will he tried to force the Sentinel within to calm but the demand for his Guide grew and Spike began to tear through the apartment looking for anything that could ease his demanding senses. The bathroom proved to be helpful; he found Xander's toothbrush and stuck it into his mouth. There was a slight taste of toothpaste but the taste of his Guide was there too. He pulled the hair from the hairbrush and rubbed it between his fingers. It was soft and calming. Then he went back to the bedroom; the smell of Guide was strongest there. He curled around the pillow again and clutching it to his body. Rubbing the bit of hair between his thumb and forefinger he forced himself to meditate on the taste, the scent, and the feel of his guide.
The cougar, Spike's animal spirit guide, came after only a few minutes. The blue-eyed cat gave a rumbling growl as its large silent paws paced back and forth in Spike's meditating mind, its strong muscles rippled under the golden fur and it’s tail slashed with impatiens. Spike's consciousness stood up and followed the big cat as its essence ghosted through the apartment wall and into the night. Spike felt no cold or breeze as he sped through the town of Lakeview. The guide stopped briefly to sniff at an ATM machine, rising up on its hind legs and placing its paws on the keypad it looked back at Spike and growled before dropping down and lopping out onto the highway. The cougar's long graceful strides sped them along too fast for Spike to read the green exit signs, so he had to be content with counting them as he passed them by. He was glad he didn’t have to run to keep up. It was as if he were gliding through the star filled night, the street lights a blur as they past. It was only a moment before the cougar slowed and padded its way into a parking lot. A sign at the entrance read, Residence Inn, Cascade Washington. The cougar padded to the back parking lot, it stopped to sniff and rub its cheek against a car Spike recognized as belonging to his guide. The cat walked over to a door and the building dissolved and re-solidified around them. They stood in front of door 227. A hyena, green eyes glowing appeared and walked around the sentinel, sniffing him, judging him. The hyena gave a cackling laugh, Spike had a feeling the spirit guide had just found him acceptable, the cougar answered in a low growl.
"He's in there," Spike said.
Satisfied that his Sentinel understood, the cougar began a deep rumbling purr and the two Spirit guides laid down to guard the door.
Spike came out of his meditation and went to the computer. The pain he had felt was forgotten now that he was taking action to find his Guide. He brought up a map of the Interstate and counted the exits along the way until he found the city he was looking for. Then, just to double check, he logged onto the Residence Inn web site and confirmed that there was indeed an Inn located in Cascade. He called the Cascade police and after some annoying delays was finally put through to a sleepy Sentinel Liaison Officer, Detective Jim Ellison.
Jim growled as he answered the phone. "It's nearly 1AM, this better be good."
"This is Sentinel Detective William Spikeman of Lake View. I have an APB out on a runaway Guide and I have just received an anonymous tip that he is holed up at the Residence Inn in Cascade, room 227. I'm sorry to wake you this early but I was told all Sentinel/Guide police activities have to go through you. I need an officer to confirm the tip."
"Sorry for the gruff greeting, Sentinel Spikeman," Jim said, understanding the urgency in Spikeman's voice. "Is he your Guide?"
"I hold an Intent to Bond Certificate."
"If he's there I'll have an officer pick him up. We can..."
"No!" Spike interrupted. "I don't want him emotionally traumatized. Just confirm his presence and put a boot on his car. With a state police escort I can be there inside of forty five minutes. With any luck he'll still be asleep until then."
"I understand your concerns, Sentinel," Jim said trying to calm the obviously stressed stranger. The last thing he needed was a rouge Sentinel in a bonding thrall running around Cascade. "But your Guide is a runaway," Jim said. "I'd say he is already going through emotional trauma."
Blair spoke up. "Let me talk to him Jim, traumatized Guides and their Sentinels are my domain."
Jim was relieved to hand the phone to Blair. If anyone could calm a Sentinel on the edge, it was Blair.
"Hello, this is Guide Blair Sandburg, I'll be glad to help in any way I can, I've often worked with emotionally stressed Guides."
"We're wasting time, Guide Sandburg." Spike said his impatience growing. "I need to confirm my Guide's presence at the inn."
"Of course we will do that for you, Sentinel. What's your Guide's name?"
"Alexander Harris," Blair repeated. "I know Xander. Hold on, Sentinel." Blair looked at Jim, he didn't bother to cover the phone as he spoke, he wanted the stressed out Sentinel on the other end to know exactly how things were being handled. "Get an officer to confirm Xander's at the inn but make sure he doesn't approach the guide." Then he got back on the phone with Spike. "I'll talk to Xander myself, I can find out what's going on. We knew each other at guide school. I promise you we'll get to the bottom of this as gently as possible. Can you tell me exactly what happened before he ran?"
Spike felt better as he told the story, something about Guide Sandburg reassured him and he found himself agreeing to let Sandburg talk to his Guide. As Blair calmly reassured Spike, Jim came back into the bedroom. "He's there," Jim said. "It's ten minutes from here, we should get going."
"Jim just got confirmation Xander is at the inn," Blair said. "We're heading over there now."
"I'll be there as soon as possible," Spike said and hung up the phone.
"So how do you know this Guide?" Jim asked as they pulled out of the parking space.
"I went to guide school with him," Blair said in an uncharacteristically distance voice.
Jim wasn’t about to let this go. Something was bothering his guide. Something he needed to get to the bottom of. "So you were friends?"
"Not exactly." Blair said, looking out the passenger side window.
"What exactly?" Jim asked, keeping his voice even, undemanding, showing only interest and not concern.
"It’s hard to explain," Blair sighed, "He's very smart and a highly rated empath, Xander was always friendly, but he kept his distance, right from the beginning it always seemed as if he just wanted to be left alone."
"You seem spooked by this." This time the concern did show in Jim’s voice. Blair seemed a bit off his game.
"I am, his popping up like this, it's..." Blair's voice trailed off.
"Do you think he came to Cascade because he needs your help?"
"I doubt it," Blair said shaking his head. "Xander has no reason to think I'd help him."
"Of course you'd help him, Chief, that's what you do."
"Now, yeah," Blair said still looking out the truck window. "But not then."
The sadness Blair was exhibiting was more than Jim could bear. He turned into a Seven Eleven parking lot, turned off the truck, and pulled Blair to him. "Tell me now, all of it, or this truck is not moving another inch."
Blair laid his head against Jim's chest. Jim's warmth was comforting and gave him the strength to look at a part of himself he didn't like to look at. When he began to speak it was soft, almost a whisper. "When I attended guide school the director was Ethan Rayne. He's telepathic but not empathic. He used to take Xander for private "tutoring". For a long time there were jokes about Xander being the director's favorite. A lot of the students were jealous, including me. I knew Xander was unhappy but I never talked to him about it. We were an unhappy bunch, forced by law to go to guide school, we all had to put our lives on hold until we graduated. He didn’t have contact with his family but I never invited him to stay with me on school holidays, none of the other students invited him either. I knew Xander spent all of the holidays at the school."
"The Christmas before graduation some of the students decided to play a practical joke on one of the teachers. He had this beautiful sculpture he kept on display in the classroom. I was elected to hide it. I went to a part of the school that was off limits. That's when I found the sensory deprivation tank. Do you know what that is?"
"I've heard of it," Jim said. "They’re isolation tanks, lightless and soundproof even for a Sentinel. They have salt water kept at skin temperature. When you float in it you don’t even have input from gravity.”
"Well a mundane would not want to stay in one for more than 10 minutes, for an empath 10 seconds is too long. I don't even want to imagine what that kind of isolation must feel like. I hid when I heard Rayne coming. I saw him lock Xander in the tank and leave."
"Do you know how long he left him in there?" Jim asked shocked that anyone would hurt a Guide that way. He knew that solitary confinement was a torture technique.
"No, I didn't want to know. Tutoring sessions lasted for about an hour. I don't know if he was in there all that time. I was too scared to report it. Rayne was a vindictive bastard. The students were all empathic; we all knew what he was. I was afraid I wouldn't be allowed to graduate. I was afraid he would keep me there another year and start giving me "private tutoring". It kept nagging at me though. I had nightmares about it, so after graduation I did report it. Director Rayne resigned. Nothing ever came out about his abuse.”
"And you feel guilty for not reporting it sooner?"
"I let it go for six months."
"Not your fault, Chief," Jim said, stroking Blair's hair. "Xander didn't report it either."
"To who? He had no family; he never received mail, no birthday or Christmas cards; he spent every holiday at school."
"He could have reported it to one of the teachers."
"I think he tried. I remember going to talk to Mr. Freedmen once, it was before I knew about the sensory deprivation tank, when I got to the classroom he was angry with Xander and called him a liar. He accused Xander of being lazy. He said he didn't want to hear anymore made up stories."
"Still not your fault, Chief. You were a student at the school, the adults were the ones who let Xander down, not you."
Blair sat up and looked into Jim's eyes. "You don't get it, Jim, I knew there was something wrong, I felt it and I let it slide because it was easy, I was scared, and I was jealous."
Jim stroked Blair's hair, it pained him to see his guide suffering. "Chief, you're the best person I know but you're only human. You were young and scared and you made a mistake, you've learned from it. So now we'll go and help him. We'll make sure he's okay and make sure this Sentinel Spikeman is the kind of Sentinel that will care for his Guide before we turn Xander over to him."
"What if he's not okay?" Blair asked. "What if Spikeman lied and Xander is running because of something Spikeman did?"
Jim started up the truck with a shrug. "Then we'll do whatever it takes."