Notes: I wanted to do something based on the episode 'The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg' for some time now. I finally decided to sit down and do it, and this is the end result. :-) This is a crossover with the British series 'The Professionals'.
Thanks to my betas Bine (Thanks for the inspiration, Sunshine!), DarkCherry, Monica, and Sherri for the excellent work.
It's the right thing to do. It's the right thing to do. Blair kept chanting the same thing over and over again in his head. He looked at the crowd of reporters waiting for him and felt cold inside. Do I know what I'm doing? he asked himself. I'm about to destroy my life's work. All my dreams, my career. I'll have nothing left.
He thought of Jim, his partner, soon to be ex-partner, his friend, his Sentinel. All that will change when this is over. Will it be worth it? His mind supplied a picture of a happy, laughing Jim, and his heart supplied the answer.
Taking a deep breath, he walked over to the small podium and faced his future.
Rafe looked at the other cops in the bullpen. "Hey guys. Sandburg's on TV. He's giving some kind of press conference."
Jim, Rafe, H, and Taggart crowded the small office, watching the news. They saw Blair walk up to a podium and nod to the press.
"Hi. Thank you all for coming. I just have a short speech prepared here. Um.... In our media-informed culture, a scientist receives validation by having his or her work published and after years of research there is great personal satisfaction when that goal is reached. However, my desire to impress both my peers and the world at large drove me to an immoral and unethical act. My thesis 'The Sentinel' is a fraud."
Jim was sure that everyone in the small room could hear his speeding heart. He shouldn't have done this, he shouldn't have, Jim thought ...not after the way I've been treating him. Oh God, Chief. Don't do this, I'm not worth it.
Regardless of Jim's silent plea, the press conference proceeded.
"While my paper does quote ancient source material, the documentation proving that James Ellison...actually possesses hyper-senses is fraudulent. Looking back, I can say that it's a good piece of fiction. I apologize for this deception. My only hope is that I can be forgiven for the pain I've caused those that are close to me. Thank you."
The trip to the loft didn't take long. Blair looked at the few possessions he'd packed before the conference and that he was going to take with him. He couldn't stay in Cascade anymore, it would do no good. Everyone would see him as a fraud, including his friends, and he would be alone. He couldn't work with Jim anymore and his career at Rainier was finished. Blair could still remember the words the Dean spat at him, "You've embarrassed this University for the last time! I want your office cleared out by Friday!"
So he was leaving. Doing what he did best, running away. For all his worldly travels, he had never been to London, so that was his destination. He'd saved some money, maybe it would be enough until he could find a job there.
Leaving a letter for Jim on the coffee table, he took a good, last look at the place he'd called home for so long, grabbed his bags, and left with a heavy heart, but a clear conscience.
Taggart closed the television with a shake of his head. "You think you know someone. I would never believe Blair would do something like this, I always thought he was the most honest person I ever met! Guess I was wrong."
Jim winced at the bitterness of the words. Blair had made the final sacrifice for him, giving up everything to save him. He couldn't let his best friend be seen as a fraud, as a liar and cheater, by the people that he respected. "You didn't guess wrong, Joel," he stated softly.
"What do you mean?" H asked.
Jim looked at his friends and took a deep breath. It was time to come clean. "Everything that Blair wrote in his dissertation is real. I really am a Sentinel."
There was a strange silence in the room.
"So, care to explain what this is all about?" Rafe asked. "We all have been hearing about this paper of Hairboy's, but none of us actually read it. Exactly what is a Sentinel?"
"A Sentinel is like a watchman. Blair sold it to me as a sensory awareness that can be developed beyond normal humans. Means I have hyperactive senses, can smell, hear, see or whatever much better than other people. Blair was the one that came to me and told me what I was. At the time, I just thought I was going crazy. You can say he saved my life."
"That certainly explains the things we've seen you do on the streets," H nodded. "Like finding clues no one else could find. Makes sense."
"Yeah," Rafe agreed." But what is Blair's part in all of this?"
"He's my Guide. I have problems with my senses sometimes, and somehow Blair helps me out, keeps me together, centered. He helped me control my senses, helped me learn how to use them better. And he keeps me from zoning out."
"Zoning out?" Taggart repeated.
"Yeah. Sometimes I concentrate on a sense too much and kind of get oblivious to the outside world, you can say. Basically, I freeze. I don't seem to see, hear, or be aware of anyone or anything, but Blair always pulls me out of a zone out."
"Boy, this is too much information at a time," H remarked. "So, if everything is true, why did Blair just deny it for all the country to see?"
"Because this was all a damn mistake. He finished his dissertation and put it away until it was time to hand it over. He was supposed to take my name out, and any reference to me or the PD. Unfortunately, Naomi found out it was ready, and decided to send it to a publisher friend of hers to see if it was good enough."
"And the publisher put it out," Taggart understood.
"Yes. Blair tried to stop it, but it was already too late. I haven't been able to work, you've seen what's been going on. I can't even go to the men's room without a reporter breathing down my neck!"
"So to get you off the hook, he told everyone he faked the dissertation. Man, that took balls!" Henri remarked.
"Anybody else know about this?" Rafe asked.
"Simon and Conner. I had to tell the Captain why I needed Blair riding along with me, Megan just found out."
Taggart looked at Jim. "Do you mind if after we visit Simon and Conner at the hospital, I go with you to visit Blair? The kid might need a bit of cheering up."
"We'll all go," H said. "He'll need some friends. It's the least we can do for Sandburg."
Jim smiled. "Thanks, guys."
"No problem." Rafe smiled as well. "We like Hairboy. He's helped us alot in the past, and he is a great friend. What he did was above and beyond friendship in my book. He needs to know someone cares."
"Okay. I have a better idea, though," Jim said. "You guys go to the hospital when we finish, and I'll get Blair and bring him for the visit."
Taggart nodded. "It's settled then. Now everybody back to work. The sooner we finish this, the sooner we're out of here."
Blair looked out the small window of the airplane, seeing the last of the American soil disappear. From now on it would be just ocean until they arrived at the European Continent.
He closed his eyes and thought of Jim. It was better this way, it had to be better. Their relationship was doomed for some time now anyway. Even if that mess with the dissertation hadn't happened, sooner or later, Jim would find out how Blair really felt about him and it would never be the same. Oh, he didn't really believe Jim would be mad if he found out his best friend, and Guide, had fallen in love with him. But Blair knew the Sentinel couldn't reciprocate the feeling and it would strain their relationship too much. The young man shook his head. I wouldn't be able to stand seeing pity in his eyes, he thought. It would kill me.
Resting his head on the small pillow, he tried to sleep. It was going to be a long flight, and it would do no good to sit around and think about what had no remedy. What was done was done.
Half an hour before the plane landed he was still wide awake. Try as he might, his thoughts kept going back to Cascade and to Jim, and what it might have been like to be the man's lover.
"Something I'll never know," he muttered to himself. "Might as well forget it, you damn fool!"
"Where's Jim?" Simon asked, as soon as his detectives and Taggart walked in the hospital room.
"Went to get Blair." Rafe replied, looking at the two of them. "How are you feeling, Captain? Megan?"
"I'm okay. Can't wait to get out of here, though," Megan said. "It was a bad idea putting us in the same room. I'm sick of hearing Captain Banks here snoring!"
"Hey! I do not snore!"
The inspector snorted. "Of course not, my mistake."
Henri turned to them suddenly serious. "You know about Blair?"
Simon nodded. "We saw the press conference on TV. I didn't expect him to make such a sacrifice. I misjudged him."
"I think we all did," Taggart stated. "Jim told us the truth, by the way. Maybe together we can cheer Blair up a bit. He must be devastated."
Jim walked in looking grim.
"Where's Blair?" Henri queried.
"Left," the detective answered flatly.
"What do you mean, left?" Simon demanded.
Jim just handed him a letter. "Read it."
The Captain opened the envelope and read out loud. "'Jim, I'm so sorry to be doing this by letter, but I couldn't face you right now. I know you'll be hurt, but in the long run, you'll see this was the right thing to do. You don't really need me anymore. You haven't had a serious zone-out in months, and Simon or Megan can help you if need be. I'm leaving and I'm not coming back. I know it's a coward's way out, but I was never big on guts. Right now I don't think I could stand to be around people that thought I was a fraud.'"
He stopped for a while and noticed the others listening.
"Go on," Megan begged, softly.
"'I think by now you know what I did. I'm not sorry I did it, you know? You're a beautiful human being and you deserve to be happy. I couldn't stand the thought that I was responsible for your misery, I did what had to be done. I hope you live a happy life and manage to forgive me one day. Naomi will get the rest of my stuff from the loft and the University when she can and keep it until I find a place to stay. I told her to let you keep the masks and small knickknacks I left there, they seem to brighten the loft somewhat. You're too anal even with the decor, man.'"
"'On a more serious note, I think you'll be happy to know I destroyed all my notes on Sentinels. Computer disks, notes, notebooks, everything is gone. No one will ever find anything that might be used against you. No more Lee Bracketts in the horizon for you. You're free. It was a nice dream while it lasted, but it's over now. I want you to do me a last favor. Tell the guys that I'm sorry. I know they'll be disappointed with me, but I want you and them to know that I love you all very much. Naomi was never into the family scene, so I guess you guys kinda took that shape along the way. For four years of my life, I had the family I always dreamed about, and I'll miss you all to death. Man, I'm going to start crying any minute now, so I'm finishing this here. Don't bother looking for me, I'm going to Europe. Please, be happy and forgive my weakness. Love, Blair.'"
"He left. He actually left," Jim whispered heartbroken.
Somewhere in London.
The man looked at the other two standing in front of him. "You are sure about this information?"
"Yes sir," one of the men replied. "The assassin is already in town. We already know his identity, but not who hired him or who's the target."
"His name is Peter Shipley," the other supplied. "Seventy percent of his targets were shot, he's a gun and rifle expert, but he has been known to use bombs, poison, among other MO's, or even hire extra help when need be."
"Very well. Follow him, check out everyone he comes in contact with. I want to know his every move. And Bodie, no heroics. For now let's just tail him, wait until we have something to catch him with."
"Yes, Mr. Cowley."
Three weeks. Three lousy weeks and he was practically out of money. Blair sighed. It was time to go job hunting. Maybe that way he could take Jim out of his mind, instead of spending twenty-four hours thinking about the man, wondering how he was doing.
"I'm a pathetic jerk," he muttered to himself, disgusted. "Enough already!"
He got out of bed, took a quick shower, and thirty minutes later was leaving the cheap hotel he was staying in. Blair looked at the rainy weather and snorted. "Typical! Only Naomi Sandburg's son would leave a damn freezing city to go live in another. Could have gone to Africa, Hawaii, South America. But nooo, it had to be another rainy, cold city. I am pathetic!"
Blair spent the whole morning answering job ads from the papers he'd bought, with no success. He had a light lunch and went to a few more job interviews before deciding it was enough for a day. He was walking back to his hotel when he saw a sign with 'Help wanted' on the door of what seemed to be a nightclub. The young man decided to try his luck.
"Can I help you?" the man cleaning the bar asked.
"Uh, I saw the help wanted sign. Thought I might try it out. I need a job."
The man gave him a calculating stare. "Yank, are ya?"
"Well, I don't mind that, might even attract more clientele. I'm the owner, John Wells." He shook Blair's hand. "I need someone to serve tables, think you could do it?"
"Yes sir. I worked in a bar for a few months when I was in college."
"If you're interested, I'll give you a week's trial, starting tonight."
"Why, if I'm interested?"
"This is a gay club, kid. Any objections working here?"
"Good. I have only one demand from my workers then. Wear tight clothes, jeans, shirts, t-shirts. Whatever. Truth is, it brings more customers, helps when they have something to look at. We have good bouncers, and if anyone tries anything they're immediately thrown out, so you'll be perfectly safe. If you agree with this, be here at eight o'clock tonight."
"Okay, I'll be here then. Thanks."
"Don't thank me yet. I haven't said you could keep the job. I have to see how you do at it. Do a good job, and you'll have a job for as long as you want it."
Jim lost himself in the view from outside the french windows. Three weeks. Three weeks. Life really does go on, doesn't it? Simon and Megan were out of the hospital and back on duty, even if it was just paperwork for now. That son of a bitch Zeller was finally dead and would never kill anyone else again. And Blair...Blair was still gone.
Maybe I should have told him that I loved him, he thought. But what would have happened after that? Would Blair love him back, tell him he was sorry but didn't love him that way, or just leave like he had ended up doing anyway? Maybe this was meant to be. God, I miss him.
London. He had checked every flight leaving Cascade the day of the conference and found Blair's final destination. London.
Jim knew he should leave it alone, but he couldn't. At the moment he had a few cases that couldn't wait, but in two weeks time he had vacation coming. And he knew exactly where he was going to spend it. One way or another, he would see Blair again. But what would come of that only God knew.
Blair showed up at the club fifteen minutes before he was supposed to. John nodded, satisfied, and looked at the young man from head to toe, noticing the black, tight leather pants, blue silk shirt, and the black boots.
"Very nice! Okay, just a few more pointers, you'll have Mondays and Tuesdays off. Your shift will start at eight, Fridays and Saturdays until five in the morning, that includes helping clean the place up, the rest of the days, until four in the morning. I pay weekly, tips are yours. You have half an hour to eat something and a twenty minute break. It's hard work, but the pay is good and the tips make it excellent. Like I said, if I like you, you'll have a job for life. Oh, and call me John. Mr. Wells is 'me' dad," he finished with a grin.
Blair returned the grin and raised his hands. "I'm ready to start then."
"Okay. Take these drinks to table ten."
Minutes quickly turned into hours. The place was getting crowded as the night progressed, and Blair was kept busy. It was past midnight when he finally had his break. Passing a table to go into the back room, a man's leg blocked his way.
"Hey, gorgeous! How about you and I going to the dark rooms upstairs and do the wild thing together?" the man leered.
Blair kicked the man's leg aside. "I don't think so."
He tried to walk away, but the man grabbed his wrist. "What's the matter, Yank? Think you're too good for us?"
"No," a voice behind Blair, answered. "But he's with me."
The young man turned his attention to the new player. He was tall, muscled, but with an elegant body, silky blond hair. Probably in his mid-thirties. The striking thing about the man, though, was his face. It was the nicest face Blair had ever seen. The kind of face you liked instantly, that makes you trust without even knowing the person. A pair of twinkling almond eyes looked down at the young man, and the man smiled kindly.
"Care to join me? I have a bottle of exquisite whiskey waiting at my table."
It crossed Blair's mind to say he didn't enjoy whiskey that much, but the man had helped him get out of a tight spot, the least he could do was have a drink with him.
"Sure, why not?" Blair replied, smiling as well.
The jerk that had grabbed him had given up and was chasing another guy already, so Blair was free to follow his savior to his table. Once seated, the man turned his attention to Blair.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Thanks for helping me out," Blair said, sipping the whiskey.
"Don't mention it. So, what do I call you? Yank?"
The young man laughed slightly, feeling strangely at ease with the man. "Only if you want me to call you Limey!" he answered.
His savior laughed as well. "Point taken. My name's Bruce Elliot."
"Blair Sandburg," he replied, shaking Elliot's firm hand.
"What is an American doing in London anyway?"
The young man shrugged. "Needed a change in scenery, this was it."
Bruce smiled. "I bet there's more to it, but I'll leave it at that."
"Thanks. So, what do you do for a living?"
"I have a small security company."
"That's cool. What's the name? Maybe I've heard of it."
"It's called Sentinel security," Bruce answered, and Blair promptly choked on his whiskey.
"Hey! Are you okay, mate?"
Controlling a coughing fit, the young man nodded. "Uh, yeah. Sorry about that."
"No problem, Blair. Sure you okay?"
"Yes. I have to get back to work. See ya around."
He got up and went back to serving tables without looking back. Of all the names...seems he was to be cursed for life with that name, Sentinel. And he was not going to think about Jim, damn it!
Being Wednesday, he was out of the club at four in the morning. It was still dark, a grey winter sky menacing rain for the approaching day, and the air was extremely cold. Blair raised the collar of his jacket and started to walk back to his hotel.
"You know, it's dangerous for beautiful young men such as yourself to be out this late without a proper escort!" a voice said, from behind him.
Blair turned, startled. "Bruce? What are you doing here?"
"Waiting for you. Like I said, it's dangerous for you to be out this late by yourself."
The young man smiled. "I can take care of myself, you know?"
"Never doubted it for a second. Come on, I'll walk you home."
"To the hotel."
"To the hotel, then."
They walked side by side in a comfortable silence until they reached the hotel.
Blair turned to Elliot. "Thanks again."
"Like I said, don't mention it," he said and kissed Blair's hand, bowing slightly. "Goodnight, My Angel."
Blair watched him go and sighed. "Too bad my heart's not in it."
He went to his room and collapsed on the bed, his sleep haunted with dreams of a blue-eyed Sentinel.
A knock on the door woke him up. Looking at his watch he saw it was one in the afternoon. "God!"
More knocks and a voice, "Blair! Blair, it's Bruce! Wakey! Wakey!"
"Bruce?! What the hell--?" He grabbed his robe and went to the door.
"Good morning!" Bruce chirped happily. "Or should I say, good afternoon!" He handed Blair a single red rose. "For you, my Angel."
Too stunned to do anything else, the young man accepted the rose. When he could find his voice again, he asked, "What are you doing here?"
"Came to take you out. I bet you haven't done any proper sightseeing, so I'm taking you on a special Bruce Elliot guided tour. It's free and the guide is the best around. Come on, take a shower and get dressed. Her Majesty's Kingdom awaits you!"
Shaking his head, Blair obeyed nevertheless. Half an hour later they were enjoying the pale sunlight, and Elliot was chatting gaily about the places he was taking the young man to.
And a whole week passed by. Blair and Bruce went out together a few times, and the older man became a regular at the club. Despite the fact that the younger man was well aware of Elliot's interest in him, Blair made it clear he just needed a friend. Bruce had shrugged and only mentioned he could be the best of friends and wouldn't push.
It was Tuesday and the second day off for Blair. He was up by ten in the morning, showered and got dressed. He was having lunch with Bruce at noon and didn't want to be late.
A knock on the door surprised him. He wasn't expecting company and it couldn't be Bruce, the older man was to meet him at the restaurant. Had he changed his mind?
Opening the door he saw two men standing in the corridor. Both in their late forties, one slightly taller than the other, he had shiny black hair, beautiful blue eyes and a muscled body. The other was slimmer, curly reddish hair, and huge jade green eyes. He had a slightly battered cheek, but that didn't affect his looks in any way, the man was definitely gorgeous, both men were, actually.
"Blair Sandburg?" the curly one asked, continuing at Blair's nod. "My name's Ray Doyle, this is my partner Bodie." He gestured to the blue eyed man.
The young man watched them suspiciously. Their faces were familiar, and suddenly he remembered where he'd seen them before. "I've seen you at the club I work in. You've been there every night. Listen, if you have something--"
"We're CI5," Bodie said softly, stopping the young man's tirade.
"CI5?" Blair asked, after checking their ID's.
"Yes. Can we come in?"
He let the two in and closed the door.
"We're a governmental agency," Doyle stated. "More or less the equivalent to your CIA."
"I see. And what's that got to do with me?"
"We need your help to catch a bad guy," Bodie replied, grinning.
"My help? To catch a bad guy? Why? What bad guy?" Blair felt like he'd been pushed into a 'The Twilight Zone' episode without anyone telling him.
"I got a tip from a grass that a sniper is in town to do a job. We managed to identify the assassin, but not the target," Bodie explained.
"What's a grass, and where do I fit in?"
"I guess the Yank word for grass would be snitch," Ray smirked, noticing Blair's grimace at being called Yank again. "And you fit in because you know the sniper and seem close to him."
The young man looked at the two agents confused. "Not possible. The only person here in London I'm close to is--" He fell on a chair. "Oh, man! Are you trying to tell me Bruce Elliot is a professional assassin?"
Bodie nodded. "The one and only, Sunshine."
"Man!" Blair looked at the two men. "Are you sure?"
"Positive. His real name is Peter Shipley," Bodie replied.
"Man, he seems so nice, so sweet.... I can't believe it!" He was too stunned to speak for a moment, then asked softly, "What do you want me to do?"
The two agents looked at each other and suddenly serious, Ray answered, "We want you to seduce him."
"Excuse me? Are you out of your minds? I will not go to bed with him!"
"You won't have to, we have a plan," Bodie said. "Our agency developed this new top secret drug that loosens the tongue, much like pentothal. We want you to use it on Shipley. Go out to dinner with him one night, then bring him here, and slip him a whiskey with the drug. We'll be here to extract the information we need."
"Great," came the sarcastic remark. "And when the drug wears off, he'll kill me. Brilliant plan!"
"No," Bodie assured him quickly, a bright smile on his face. "That's the beauty of this drug. He won't remember a thing. He'll wake up with the mother of all hangovers and will probably think you two did the wild thing all night. He'll never know what really happened."
Blair relaxed slightly. "Assuming I take part in this nutty plan of yours, when would it take place?"
"Soon. The tip we have is that the hit is still some time away, he seems to be planning everything to the detail, so we still have time. Spend the next few days with him, give a few signs suggesting you're interested after all, so he won't suspect a thing. String him along for awhile. Let's make the dinner night for next Tuesday, we know you're off work. What do you say?" Bodie asked hopefully.
The young man looked at the two men and sighed. "Sure, why not?"
"Great!" Ray smiled. "We need to work everything out, it's got to be a solid plan."
"Uh, I'm meeting Bruce...uh, Peter, for lunch."
"Okay, when can you get rid of him?" Bodie asked.
Blair shrugged. "Probably around two. I can't just have lunch and split on him."
"Good thinking, Curly," Bodie said, with a gentle smile. He gave Blair a small card. "Meet us at this pub afterwards, okay? Enjoy the day, Sunshine!"
After the two men left Blair shook his head. "I must be out of my mind!"
"You sent for me, sir?" Jim asked his Captain, sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk.
Simon took out his glasses and rubbed his eyes with a weary sigh. "Yes, Jim. I have some news, and I don't think they're very good. A British agency, CI5, has been making inquiries about Blair. They contacted us asking for all the information we have on him."
"Why would they be interested in Blair?"
"I have no idea. When I tried to pry, I got the polite, but firm answer to butt out."
Jim got up and started to pace. "Could it be that Sandburg is in trouble already? He's been there a month, for crying out loud!"
"Jim, this is Blair we're talking about," the Captain remarked softly.
"Yeah, I guess. Any chance I can go on vacation sooner? It would only be a week's difference."
"Sorry, I wish you could, but we're already shorthanded as it is," Simon said, shaking his head sadly, trying to find a compromise that would soothe the worried detective. "But tell you what, I'll find out where Sandburg is staying. It'll save you time when you get there."
"Okay. Thanks, Simon."
"No problem. Just bring him back. Alive!"
Lunch was definitely an awkward event. Blair tried to act naturally, but he caught himself staring at Bruce more than once. How could such a gentle, funny man be a killer? He didn't know exactly how an assassin should be, but when he thought about it, it was not Bruce's personality that came to mind.
"What is it?" Bruce's voice intruded in his thoughts, and Blair blushed realizing he'd been staring again.
"What is what?"
The older man smiled. "Don't give me that, Blair. You've been very quiet, and you keep staring at me. Do I have bug on my nose or something?"
Blair couldn't help laughing. "I'm sorry," he sighed. "I guess I'm just thinking too much today."
"Home. I'm a bit homesick. And you...."
That seem to brighten Bruce. "Me?"
"Yeah," Blair smiled sweetly, although his heart was doing the mambo in his chest. "I like being with you, Bruce."
Elliot took the young man's hand and caressed it with his thumb. "Me too, Precious, me too."
After lunch Bruce took Blair back to the hotel.
"Blair, are you sure you won't reconsider about us being more than friends?"
"I'll take it as slow as you want, I promise."
Blair seemed to hesitate. He had to play his cards right. If he said no, Bruce would suspect when he tried to seduce him, but if he said yes, things might get out of hand fast.
"You'd take it slow, really?" he asked, trying to sound hopeful.
"Can I think about it? I like you, Bruce, a lot, but...."
"But you're afraid. It's okay, I can wait," Bruce stated with a smile. "But I'll give you something to help you decide."
His arms surrounded Blair's waist and without even caring who might see them, he kissed the young man gently. When they parted, Elliot smiled, "You're definitely worth waiting for, my Angel. See you tomorrow."
Blair waited until he vanished and took a cab to the pub to meet Bodie and Ray Doyle. The plan was in motion.
"Sorry I'm late," Blair said, taking a seat in front of the agents.
"No problem," Ray answered, smiling. "Want a pint?" At Blair's blank look, he smiled and explained, "A beer?"
Blair chuckled. "Yeah, thanks."
When the drinks were on the table, Bodie turned his attention to the young man. "How was lunch?"
"Awkward. I kept staring at him. I still can't believe he's an assassin. He looks so...normal!"
Bodie nodded. "Yes, and that's why nobody ever gives him a second look. That's one of the things that makes him so good. So, what happened when he caught you staring, Petal?"
Blair looked at the agent trying to decide if the man was teasing him, but the pet name seemed to have been said in an affectionate way. "I lied. Told him I was just homesick, but that I liked being with him."
"Too good! He kissed me when he left me back at the hotel. It's going to be hell keeping him away this week. I don't care what you two have to do, but I won't go to bed with him."
"Don't like the idea of having sex with a man?"
Blair looked Bodie straight in the eye. "Direct, aren't you? I have nothing against male sex, and no, I haven't done it before. But I don't want him that way, and I refuse to be anybody's whore. I don't mind kissing him, but I won't go any further."
Ray nodded. "Fair enough. Okay, the plan is very simple. We have the room next to yours, and as you probably noticed, they're connected. You take Bruce to dinner, make him drink as much as possible, and then invite him to your room. We will give you the drug, which is a small pill, you put it in his whiskey, and when it works, we come in by the door that connects our rooms. After we get the information we want, we just let him sleep it off. When he wakes up, he'll think he just drank too much, and won't remember a thing."
"You're sure about that?" Blair was still a bit skeptical.
"Okay. I guess it can work. Tuesday it is."
He turned to the window and watched the cars go by for a while. When he looked at the agents again, they were smiling at each other in a way that made Blair's skin tingle. It wasn't the kind of smile you share with a friend, it was more the kind you share with a lover. Were they lovers? They seemed to be very aware of each other, very close.
Blair cleared his throat and they turned to him. The young man blushed, and to cover his embarrassment asked, "So, what did you do before becoming secret agents?"
Smilling knowingly Ray replied, "I was a copper, and before that I went to art school."
"Art school, really? Why the change?"
Ray shrugged. "Wasn't happy with it and to be honest, didn't think I was good enough either. I like this job, like the idea I help make the world a better place."
Bodie smirked. "Ray is the idealist of the two of us, you can tell, right? As for me, I was a lot of things before coming to CI5. I joined the Merchant Navy when I was fourteen, and among other things, I was a mercenary in Angola, and was in the army for a while."
"You can say that, yeah."
"Why don't you just arrest Bruce...uh, Peter, if you know what he's up to?"
"Because we need to catch him in the act. And because we need to know who's the target, and who hired Shipley. Even if we arrested him, the person who hired him might just hire another assassin," Ray explained.
"Okay, makes sense. But how can you know if I can be trusted? Did you check me out?" Blair asked.
"Yes, we did. We saw you at the club when we were tailing Shipley, saw how you two met, but that could have been an act. You might be a contact or something. When you started going out with him, we had to check you out."
"Aren't you going to ask us what we found out?" Bodie queried.
Blair grimaced. "No need. I know what you found. I still don't know why you think you can trust me. I'm supposed to be a fraud."
"Because of your dissertation? That was the reason that made us take a chance on you, Petal," Bodie stated with a gentle smile.
"I don't understand," Blair looked at the two men, confused.
"What you did took courage," Ray said. "And it was true, wasn't it? The dissertation was the real thing, wasn't it?"
Fear tightened Blair's chest as he looked up at the two agents. They couldn't know that. If they believed the dissertation, they'd know that Jim was really a Sentinel. That would be too dangerous.
As if sensing his fear, Bodie grabbed his hand tenderly. "It's okay, Petal, it's okay," he soothed, his thumb caressing the young man's hand. "It's okay."
For some reason the gentle touch relaxed Blair. He looked out the window again, and thought about Jim and how much he missed the Sentinel. He sighed. "What's it like?" he asked.
"What?" Ray queried.
Blair looked at the two agents. "You two are lovers, aren't you? What's it like?"
Bodie nodded. "Yes, we are," he confessed, stroking Ray's curls with his free hand. "We hated each other when we met, or at least that's what we thought it was. With time, we started getting closer, became good friends, then best of friends, and finally found out we were in love with each other. It isn't easy, but I wouldn't change a thing."
"Yeah," Ray agreed. "It has its ups and downs, we don't always see eye to eye. We're very different, but we love each other and that makes it enough. You could say we compliment each other."
"Two halves of the same soul," Blair whispered, thinking how similar their story was to his and Jim's. The only thing missing was becoming lovers.
"Why didn't you tell him?" Ray asked. When Blair turned to him with a confused expression, he elaborated, "Why didn't you tell your partner that you loved him?"
Ray chuckled. "Give us some credit, lad. If you assume we believe what you wrote in your dissertation, the main reason that would lead someone to do what you did and give up everything, was love. You were in love with him. Why not tell him?"
Blair shrugged. "He didn't love me back. I spent months sending him signals, and he never took me up on them. I stayed by his side even when our relationship was in trouble, and I almost died, hell, I died! I stopped dating, I started spending nights at the loft with him...I did all I could think of and nothing."
"Too bad, it's his loss. You're a good lad," Bodie said. "And be assured, no one will ever know from us that he is a Sentinel."
The young man looked him in the eye. "Don't know why, but somehow I believe you."
"Excellent! Now, where do you want to have dinner? It's our treat!"
"Dinner? I just had lunch! It's not even mid-afternoon!"
Ray chuckled. "Yeah, but Bodie here is always hungry, Sunshine. Come on, we'll go for a ride around town and then take you to dinner. It's the least we can do for our new partner."
Blair snorted. "Yeah, right. Okay, lead the way, gentlemen."
They left the pub with Bodie whistling "Secret agent man" and Blair couldn't help smile a little. He liked these two men. He felt he'd made two new friends for life and that made him feel a lot better.
It was Monday night. The days seemed to be passing by too quickly for Blair, but maybe it was just because he was dreading the next day, the day their plan would be put into action. He spent all his free time going out with Bruce or with the two CI5 agents.
Each day his relationship with both Ray and Bodie seemed to grow stronger, specially with Bodie. The ex-mercenary acted very protective towards the young man, and Blair confessed to himself he enjoyed the attention. It was almost like having a British version of Jim around. They had a lot in common. Besides being great at what they did, both had a strong, quiet side. Bodie was more open than Jim, he was always telling jokes and fooling around, but when it came to talking about himself, he closed up just like Jim.
Bruce was supposed to be out of town the whole day so Blair spent it with the two agents. After a full day of going to fairs, exhibits, and just generally walking around, the young man was ready to call it quits, but the two men dragged him to dinner in one of their favorite restaurants.
Now, wined and dined, the older men were escorting Blair to his hotel.
"I can't believe you ate two desserts, Bodie!" Ray chuckled.
"Hey, I was hungry!"
"How can that be? You finished your food and still nibbled from my plate and Blair's as well. Face it, you're an eating machine!"
"I am not!" Bodie sounded offended, but Blair could see his grin. "I'll have you know that--"
Bodie stopped talking all of a sudden and stood very still. His head tilted to the side, like he was listening, and Blair couldn't help the thought that he looked like Jim when he was using his senses to hear something.
They were in a dark street, near an alley, and the neighborhood was one of the worst in London. They couldn't be very safe just standing around. Opening his mouth to point that out to the agents, Ray stopped him by putting a hand to his mouth and whispering in his ear, "It's okay. He's listening to something. Stay alert."
The warning came from Bodie's lips seconds before the bullets came flying at them. "Ray, take Blair and run for cover!"
As soon as the three of them got behind the few cars around, two men showed up from the alley shooting up at them. The bullets rocked the car shielding them and the noise was deafening. Ray and Bodie returned fire for a while before the danger disappeared. Doyle got one of the shooters in the arm, Bodie killed the other one.
While Ray called for backup and searched the shooters, Bodie walked up to Blair. "You okay, Petal?"
"Yeah," he looked at the ex-mercenary. "You're a Sentinel too, aren't you? That's why you believed in my dissertation. Ray is your Guide, isn't he?"
"Yes to both. That's also why I feel so protective of you, I think. Our boss managed to get us a copy of your dissertation, and that part where it mentions the genetic calling to protect the Guide caught my eye. You're a Guide, right? That's why I feel the same protectiveness towards you I feel towards Ray."
"Yes. Think those guys were sent by Bruce? That he found out about our plan?"
"No," Ray answered, approaching them. "I know them, they're hired hands for a bastard we've been trying to catch lately. I already told Cowley, our boss, and he's taking care of that. It won't happen again."
"So it's not related with Shipley?"
Blair turned his attention back to Bodie. "How many senses?"
"The five of them, like your partner. Like I said, I was a merc in Angola. On my last job I was left alone in the jungle for a few months, that's when it started happening. I came back here, and they seemed to go dormant for a while. On one of the first cases with Ray, I was captured and was locked in a cell for a few weeks. When he found me I thought I was going crazy. Somehow he managed to help me control my senses and became my Guide."
"Wow! This is so cool!" Blair exclaimed, and then yawned.
The backup finally arrived and took care of the situation so Bodie pushed the young man gently.
"Yeah, well.... Come on, Petal. You're dead on your feet. Time for bed, you have a long day ahead of you."
"Don't remind me!"
They'd just started walking again when, shaking his head, Ray chortled, "I still can't believe you ate two desserts, Bodielove!"
"Oh, Blimey! Not again!"
"And you shouldn't eat all that junk food either, man!" the American added. "That stuff will kill you!"
Bodie grimaced. "You sound just like Ray, always lecturing me about healthy food. You know, that makes me think that maybe that's a Guide thing. That and the curls."
"Curls?" Ray echoed.
"Yeah. I mean, you're both Guides, you both like rabbit food, and you both have curly hair! Maybe that's what it takes to be a Guide!" he teased them with a wicked grin.
The two Guides stuck their tongues out at him.
"Rude!" Bodie chided them, as if talking to four year olds. "Very rude!"
"You know, Jim is just like that, a know-it-all." Blair teased back. "Maybe that's a Sentinel thing as well!"
"I am not a know-it-all!"
The two agents finally took Blair to the hotel and said their goodbyes. Exhausted from the busy day, Blair was asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Heathrow airport was a massacre for Jim's senses. He turned the dials down and went to pick up his luggage. He wanted to arrive at Blair's hotel as soon as possible. He was worried sick about that CI5 inquiry and hoped he wasn't too late to stop his Guide from getting into trouble.
Tonight was the night he was going to tell the young man how he felt, that he loved him. Jim had nothing left to lose, they were already apart by an ocean. The worst that could happen was Blair told him to go back. But he had to try anyway, no matter the cost.
He got his bearings together and read the name of the hotel where Blair was staying in for the tenth time in half an hour.
"Soon, Blair. Soon."
"How do I look?" Blair asked.
"Beautiful, Petal," Bodie replied with a smile. "You'll knock him dead."
Blair was wearing a pair of tight black leather pants, black boots and a blue sweater that matched his eyes. He looked at his reflection in the mirror and the fear came again. What am I doing? he thought. I'm about to drug a professional assassin, a killer.
Bodie came from behind him and hugged him. "I know what you're feeling. I can hear your heartbeat, remember? It's going to be okay, Petal. We'll be following you the whole night, and when you get back here, we'll be just next door. You won't even have to shout for me to hear you," he finished with a grin.
Blair leaned back against the agent and returned the grin. "Thanks, Bodie."
"For being my friend, for being here."
"No problem, my lad."
Ray walked in. "His car is parking in front of the hotel. It's show time, Sunshine."
"Go get him, Petal," Bodie said smiling at the young man's reflection.
"Okay. Let's get this bastard. See you later."
He walked out of the room and went to meet Bruce at the hotel entrance. It's time to play Mata Hari, he thought to himself with a chuckle. Let's just hope I don't end up like her.
In spite of Blair's apprehension, dinner went really well. The food was excellent and he made sure Bruce's glass was always full. The conversation flowed easily between them, and for a moment the young man actually forgot he was in the presence of a ruthless man.
Around ten, after the bill was paid, and too drunk to drive, Elliot gave Blair his car keys. "Here. I'm going to catch a taxi, no way am I going to drive like this," he stated, swaying a little on his feet. "You take the car and use it to get back to the hotel. I'll pick it up tomorrow."
"Uh, Bruce? You could spend the night in my room," the young man said softly.
Bloodshot eyes glared at him. "You know what you're offering, Blair?"
"Yes. Come on, get in."
Once back at the hotel, the younger man opened the door to his room and let Bruce in. "Make yourself at home. I'll get us a drink. Whiskey okay?"
While Elliot took his coat off and relaxed, Blair poured two whiskeys, one of them with the pill Bodie had given him, and went to sit on the bed near the other man. "Here."
"Thanks," Bruce smiled at him, taking a sip. "This is nice," he remarked, looking at the room.
"Yes, it is."
"Blair, I'm glad you changed your mind about me. I really like you, you know? Actually, I think I might be falling in love with you," Bruce whispered, and took another sip of his drink.
The young man looked at him surprised. "Bruce...."
"It's okay, Blair. I'm not asking you to feel the same, I know that's not the way the heart works. You feel what you feel and that's the way it is. But I wanted you to know that this isn't just about taking you to bed. I don't want just sex with you, I want to make love with you."
Elliot grabbed Blair's glass and his own and put them on the nightstand. Raising from the bed, he made Blair stand up as well. Looking the young man in the eyes, his arms surrounding Blair's waist lightly, he pleaded as his lips touched Blair's, "Please, let me love you...."
In the room next door, Bodie and Doyle looked at each other. Maybe the plan wasn't working as well as they thought it would. If Elliot didn't drink the whiskey, the drug wouldn't work and they wouldn't get the information. Not to mention it would be hard for Blair to get rid of the man.
"What are we going to do?" Ray asked his lover.
Jim arrived at Blair's hotel around ten. The night was cold but clear and he thanked God it wasn't raining. He booked a room and then asked for Blair's room number. After finding out it was on the same floor but a few doors away, Jim decided he needed a beer before facing the young man and went to the hotel bar.
Having gathered his courage, he was going for his room key when he saw Blair walk in. The young man wasn't alone, there was a man with him, and from the way they were acting, it was easy to understand they were close.
A wave of jealousy washed over Jim. A month! He's been here for only a month and already found someone, and a man! His anger was getting the best of him when all of a sudden his senses homed in on something. The man Blair was with...there was a strange smell on him. What was it? His memory supplied the answer suddenly.
His protectiveness towards the Guide erased any other feelings he might be harboring, and the worry returned. Blair and the man were long gone, and he ran to the elevator. He had to get his gun and stop the man before Blair got hurt.
The kiss was becoming too passionate and Blair didn't know what to do to stop Bruce's advances. When their lips parted, the older man sighed.
"God! I've never felt like this before you, Blair...."
Before Blair could say or do anything, his mouth was assaulted again. He was about to push Bruce away when the door jerked opened with a crash, and a growl echoed throughout the room. "Get your filthy hands of him!"
Both Blair and Bruce turned to the intruder, and spoke at the same time, "Jim!"
"Who the hell are you?!"
The Sentinel didn't bother to answer. Walking up to Bruce, he grabbed him by the collar and shoved him against the wall. "What the hell were you doing to him?! Answer me, you bastard!"
"None of your business! I don't know who you are, but I want you to leave. If you don't, I'll call the police!"
Jim snorted and didn't even seem to notice that Blair was frantic. The young man kept trying to pull him away from the Englishman, hitting the cop in the back to get his attention. "Jim! Come on, man! Let him go! Jim!"
Finally his Guide's voice broke through his anger. He turned to Blair, still holding Bruce against the wall. "Let him go? What are you talking about, Chief? He--"
Jim couldn't help obey the Guide voice and released the man.
Blair turned to Elliot. "I'm sorry about this, Bruce. I know this is not fair on you, but I want you to leave. Meet me tomorrow at the club, okay?"
"I don't think it's such a good idea to leave you alone with this neanderthal, Blair."
Grabbing Bruce by the hand before Jim lost his temper again, the young man pulled him out of the room, and into the corridor. "Bruce, please, let me handle this, okay? It's better this way."
"He's the reason why you left the States, isn't it? Why you're so afraid to get involved again?"
Heart breaking because he knew Jim was listening, but knowing he had to keep stringing Bruce along until the CI5 agents came up with a new plan, Blair lied, "Yes. I need to talk with him, to end things once and for all. Please, meet me tomorrow."
Elliot smiled. "Okay, my Angel. I'll leave you then, but if you need any help at all, call me. Promise me."
"Good." Embracing the young man, Bruce kissed him gently. "See you tomorrow, then."
Making sure Elliot was really gone before going back to the room, Blair finally faced Jim.
"I can't believe I was actually worried about you!" Jim spat at him.
"What are you talking about?"
"Simon told me a British agency, CI5 has been asking about you. I've been worried sick, and here you are, just rolling around in the hay like a common whore."
Blair knew Jim was saying that because he was hurting, but the harsh words stung nevertheless. "Jim, please, let me explain!" he begged. "This is not what you think!"
"Don't bother! And to think I was going to confess my love for you tonight. You're not worth it. If I'd known, I wouldn't have come to this damn country!"
He stalked out of the room, and Blair slid down the wall until he was siting on the floor. The young man closed his eyes, feeling the tears running down his cheeks. "Oh God, not again! I can't lose him again!"
Someone brushed his tears away and he opened his eyes. Bodie and Ray were seated close to him.
"Oh Bodie! What will I do? I couldn't tell him the truth! He would never allow me to continue to see Bruce, even if he knew why!"
"Shhh! I know, Petal, I know. Don't worry about it now, you need to rest. I promise you, Ray and I will take care of everything, okay? Now, come on. Get up."
They helped the young man rise and took his shoes and clothes, opening the bed for him to lay down. It took a long time before Bodie's soothing succeeded to calm the young man and he fell asleep.
After leaving Blair's room, Jim decided what he needed was to get drunk. He couldn't believe his own stupidity. How could he have fallen for a young, irresponsible, hippie flower child? This was the end result. My fault, he thought to himself, while he sat at the hotel bar and asked for a beer.
The next two hours faded into glasses of beer. He kept drinking until he could hardly stand. When the bartender refused to give him another drink, he crawled to his room and collapsed on the bed. He was so drunk and exhausted, he didn't even hear when hours later his room door opened and two men walked in.
Bodie wasn't sure what woke him up. He thought he had heard something in the corridor, but as he sat on the bed listening, everything seemed silent outside. Looking down, his gaze turned to Ray, sleeping soundly by his side. They'd been lovers for nearly twenty years, and his heart still beat faster each time he saw this exquisite creature. What a wonderful gift life had handed him!
It had been a good idea to stay at the hotel to keep an eye on Blair, he thought with a smile. It made things more exciting. The ex-merc ruffled Ray's curls softly, enjoying their silkiness, their wonderful scent. Laying down again, he kissed his way down his lovers neck.
When he felt Doyle stir, he whispered,"I'm hungry. And not for food!"
Ray chuckled sleepily. "Poet, you're not, Bodielove," he joked, turning to face his lover.
They kissed lightly, the passion not yet overwhelming, taking the time to caress each other, to touch all the hot spots on the body each knew so well.
Ray felt Bodie stiffen suddenly. "What?"
"There's something wrong. Come on!"
Jumping out of bed in just shorts and a t-shirt despite the cold, Ray followed his lover out of the room and into the corridor. He saw Bodie kick a door open and walked inside as well. A strange vision welcomed them. A man was laying in the bed squirming weakly, while another man was securing his arms above his head, and another was trying to suffocate him to death with a pillow.
The two agents didn't waste any time. Ray grabbed one of the would-be killers, but the man drew out a knife and tried to stab him. In a swift move, he kicked the man in the groin and punched him so hard the man fell on the floor unconscious.
Bodie was not resting either. When the man saw his partner fall, he grabbed his gun and tried to shoot his way out. The CI5 agent was faster and, rolling on the floor, he managed to move behind his assailant and hold him in a headlock.
"Give it up, you bastard, or I'll break your neck!" He growled and the man stopped fighting him. "Who sent you?"
"Who sent you? I won't ask again!"
"It's the truth! My friend and I were in a pub, this guy came in and gave us a ton of money to kill a man. It was too much money to pass on, man! He never gave us his name and we'd never seen him before!"
"What did he look like?"
"Tall, well built, blond hair and almond eyes. Classy type, nice face. That's all I noticed, honest!"
Ray moved closer. "That description fits Shipley perfectly."
"Yes. And also makes sense. He doesn't like to lose and he thinks Ellison is here to get Blair back. That's him on the bed, isn't it?"
"Yes. He's out cold. Drunk as a skunk, he is. I already called backup to get those two out of here. Maybe I should go get Blair to take care of Ellison."
"Good idea. Go, I'll watch these two."
When Ray finally arrived with Blair, after telling the young man what had happened, other CI5 agents had already taken the two would-be killers to their headquarters for interrogation. Blair knelt on the bed and touched Jim's cheek sadly.
"God, this is all my fault!" he whispered.
"It's no one's fault, Sunshine," Ray chided softly. "Shipley is an evil bastard, and that's all there is to it!"
"But Jim got drunk because of me! He would have been able to take care of those guys with his eyes shut if he was sober! And Bruce...Shipley won't stop now, will he? He will try to kill Jim again, won't he?"
"Probably. He wants you, and Ellison is in the way. But don't worry, we'll take care of everything," Bodie promised. "I already have a plan. But we'll talk about it in the morning. Stay here and take care of your copper. We're going back to our room. If you need anything, call."
"Okay. Thanks, guys."
"No problem, Petal."
After the CI5 men left, Blair sat against the head of the bed and used his lap to cushion Jim's head. Still exhausted, he fell asleep caressing Jim's soft hair.
Jim woke up feeling warm and comfortable. After a terrible night, full of nightmares where someone was trying to kill him, it was a nice way to wake up. Opening his eyes, he saw he had his head pillowed in someone's legs. Yawning, he sat up and couldn't suppress a stunned exclamation seeing who his pillow was. What was Blair doing in his room?
A knock on the door broke through his thoughts. The young man moved, but didn't wake up. Jim opened the door and glared at the two strangers facing him. One of them grinned cheekily.
"Ellison? My name's Bodie, this is my partner, Doyle. We're CI5."
Still feeling a bit confused and trying to block the effects of a major hangover, Jim let them in. "Mind if I take a quick shower and get dressed before we talk?"
"No, go right ahead."
Half an hour later, Jim was feeling like a human being again. Showered and shaved, new clothes on, and a black cup of coffee in his hand, he was ready to face the two agents. He sat on the bed where Blair was still asleep.
"So, what can I do for you?" he asked.
The one called Bodie grinned again. "Actually, that is a very good question. We need your help to catch a professional assassin."
"An assassin? What's that got to do with Blair? You did check up on him, didn't you?"
Ray nodded and proceeded to tell their earlier plan, Blair's part in it, and how Jim completely screwed everything up.
"So, there was nothing between Blair and that guy?"
"Not a thing. And we were in the next room watching over him."
Jim had the good grace of blushing. "Sorry."
"It's okay. There's a way you can make it up to us."
"Shipley wants you dead. He failed the first time, he'll try to make sure he won't miss again. Of course, he doesn't know we're on to him. Our plan is having Blair tell him tonight at the club that you two are back together. That should be enough to provoke him into trying again. You'll be perfectly safe. More agents will be called to watch him and even the two of you, and Bodie and I will be your personal bodyguards. Besides, with your...let's call it, special talents, it will be easier to catch Shipley," Ray explained.
Jim raised an eyebrow and stared at them. "What are you talking about?"
"We know everything in Blair's dissertation is the truth," Bodie said.
The cop could feel his jaw tightening and forced himself to relax. "Really?"
"Yes. And before you start to contradict us or make excuses, let us tell you why we believe you're a Sentinel," Bodie smiled. "Let's just say that I have the same special talents you have."
Jim looked at him surprised. "You?" He turned to Ray. "Then you're the--"
"Guide," Ray finished. "Yes."
The American rose from the bed and walked up to the window. His thoughts were going around in circles. When Alex Barnes showed up in Cascade, he'd nearly gone insane. Sensing something was wrong, having all those strange visions, the awful dream about killing Blair.... He didn't feel anything like that coming from Bodie. No sense of danger, no presence of another Sentinel, nothing.
"Something on your mind?" Ray asked.
"Yeah. There was another Sentinel before. Alex Barnes," Jim nearly whispered. "When she came to Cascade I started having these visions of a spotted jaguar, having dreams where I killed Blair. There was this constant, terrifying feeling that something wasn't the way it should be."
"We heard about her when we were checking Blair out. You're feeling the same coming from me?" Bodie asked softly.
"No, exactly the opposite."
"Good, I don't feel anything like that either. Look, Ellison, there's a lot about this Sentinel thing that none of us understands. We just go with our feelings, it's the only thing we can do. Maybe on some subconscious level you knew she was a bad Sentinel, maybe it was just because she was a female of the species," Bodie shrugged with a grin. "Who knows? But if you don't feel any threat coming from me, then help us out. Shipley's place is in a dark cell, away from the people we protect."
Jim seemed to be lost in thought so Bodie pressed for an answer. "Will you help us catch Shipley?" he queried.
"Yes. After all, I did blow up your plan. It's the least I can do."
Blair woke up with a gentle hand caressing his curls.
"Good morning, Chief."
"G'morning, Jim. Jim!" He jumped out of the bed and stared at the cop. "Uh, I can explain--"
"It's okay," Jim smiled. "Doyle and Bodie were here earlier and told me what's been going on."
"So, we're okay now?" the young man asked, hesitantly.
"Yes. I'm sorry I acted the way I did. When I saw you with that man I got jealous and lost my temper."
They looked at each other silently for a moment.
"I love you, Jim," Blair whispered suddenly.
Jim hugged his Guide. "I love you too! That's why I came all this way, to tell you that, and to take you back with me to Cascade."
"Jim, I can't go back to--"
"I told our friends I was a Sentinel."
"I told them. None of them will think you're a fraud. They're all proud of you, of the sacrifice you made to help me, and they want you back as well. They love you as well, Blair. Taggart said he will personally drag your skinny ass back himself if I can't change your mind."
Blair chuckled. "He said that? And you really told them?"
"He really said that, and I really told them. Look, I'm not saying everything will be rosy when we get back, you'll be out of a job, and some people will think you did fake your dissertation. But we've got each other, good friends.... It will work out! Trust me, Love."
The young man smiled at the endearment. "I trust you." He let out a deep breath. "Okay, when this is over I'll go back with you."
"Great! Now, go take a shower, get dressed and take me sightseeing and to lunch. I want to enjoy my vacation, and I'm starving!"
The two Americans spent the whole day together. Blair showed his lover his favorite parts of London, they had lunch, talked and walked hand-in-hand in a strange, gay tolerant town, where they could be themselves without the worry of being recognized. Bodie and Ray were always close by, and after being swept away by a particularly passionate kiss from Jim, Blair looked at the two agents and mouthed a thank you, knowing Bodie would understand. The smiles that lit both faces let him know he was right, and he smiled back. Life was getting better, even with Shipley still on the loose.
At the club the plan went like a charm. Blair went back to work and told Bruce that he and Jim were giving their relationship another try, and that he was sorry. To make it even worse, Jim was at a table in the middle of the club, and each time Blair walked by they kissed like there was no tomorrow. Half an hour after he arrived, Bruce stormed out of the club like the devil was on his back, and they didn't see him again that night.
Everyone had turned in for a few hours sleep. After coming back from the club, Jim and Blair went back to the young man's room, which had a king sized bed, and Bodie and Ray were sleeping in the room next door.
While Jim was in the shower, Blair came up with a plan to seduce the Sentinel. Not that he thought he needed it, but it would make their first night all the more memorable. Everything was set, all that was missing was his partner.
Hearing the water tap being closed, Blair turned the radio on and picked up a station with the kind of music he was looking for. It was time to put his plan into action.
Jim walked out of the shower to the sound of music, the only light was coming from the dozens of candles spread around them. Blair was in the middle of the room, his head bowed. When he looked up, he smiled a slow, sensual smile, and Jim felt his skin tingle and his heart speed up.
He looked at his lover from head to toe, noticing the sky blue shirt that matched Blair's eyes perfectly. The top buttons were open, and he got a glimpse of the creamy skin on the young man's hairy chest. The shirt was tucked into a pair of black leather pants that laced shut in place of a zipper. The boots Blair had on were also leather, matching the pants in color.
Jim's breath caught in his throat as Blair began walking gracefully towards him. His hips swayed slowly with the music and his hair, worn loose, floated gently behind him. The young man stopped inches in front of his lover. One of his fingers covered Jim's lips, stopping him from speaking.
Taking one of Jim's hands, Blair walked them towards the bed. Reaching it, he turned Jim around and made him sit on the covers. He smiled and then stepped back, moving away from the bed. Closing his eyes, he began to sway his hips to the sound of the music, losing track of where he was, who he was with.
Jim dug his fingers in the covers, watching his lover's body undulate and writhe to the music, a moan escaping his lips at the sweet torture of not being able to touch the sprite dancing before him. His moan turned into a groan when Blair's hands moved to his shirt buttons, opening each one slowly, caressing his chest as more skin became visible. The young man then made his way over to the bed, lifting one leg to place it on the bed's edge. He slid his boot off and then repeated his actions with his other leg.
Moving to stand in front of Jim, he picked up the laces on the front of his pants, and started to untie them, in what to Jim felt was slow motion. He began to slide his pants off, bending forward to remove them, and he was so close that his hair brushed Jim's cheek. He straightened and tossed the pants aside, standing completely naked in front of his Sentinel.
Jim got the message loud and clear. He grabbed the young man by the waist and threw him to the bed, kissing him passionately, almost roughly. His teeth nipped Blair's lower lip before his tongue moved into his mouth. He explored the young man's mouth thoroughly, feeling Blair's fingers caressing his short hair, pulling his head down to deepen the kiss.
Blair's hands left his hair and began tugging on his shirt urgently. Jim stopped the kiss and tore the shirt from his body. He grabbed the young man's wrists in one hand and pinned them against the pillows above Blair, his lips seizing his lover's again. With his free hand, the Sentinel started to caress the hairy chest, his touch light and arousing.
The young man struggled to free his hands but couldn't break Jim's grip. The Sentinel's fingertips caressed one nipple, and Blair moaned, his body arching up, but Jim stopped the caress teasingly. Blair fought harder to free his arms, but Jim was stronger, and the young man surrendered. His capitulation won him a sexy smile as Jim released his lips, both panting for breath.
Continuing the assault on his guide's body, Jim's mouth dropped to the side of Blair's neck, settling over the pounding vein in a pantomime of a vampire kiss. He continued lower, leaving a trail of kisses over his lover's chest. He licked a nipple, and then his mouth slid further down Blair's body, devouring every inch of the flesh he could touch.
Releasing his prisoner's wrists at last, Jim sat up and took his jeans off, slowly pulling them down his hips. Joining Blair again, he let the young man caress his sculpted torso down to his thighs, tracing the muscles and planes with feather light touches. In a sudden movement, the young man pushed Jim down on the bed, his lips closing around the head of his erection, making the Sentinel moan loudly.
Taking that as a sign of approval, Blair slid down to take the rest of his lover's cock in his mouth. He began to suck slowly while Jim was moaning constantly now. The young man quickened his pace, his curls falling around Jim's body, his senses picking up each individual silky thread. The orgasm took Jim by surprise, and all he could do was surrender to it and shout his lover's name in pleasure, his body convulsing, and his vision clouding with the strength of his release.
When his senses came online again, Blair was crawling up his body, licking the sweat from his heated skin. When he was eye to eye with the Sentinel, they stared at each other and their lips met once more for a passionate kiss.
"Was that okay?" Blair asked, when Jim's mouth finally left his.
"Better than okay. I never had an orgasm that powerful before, Love. But it seems we still have some unfinished business," he commented looking at Blair's cock, still fully erect.
Jim looked at the young man with a positively devilishly grin, and in a quick move of his own, grabbed Blair and pulled him flat on top of him. The Sentinel spread his legs, and his lover settled in between them, their hips pressed together.
"You weren't the only one that went shopping this afternoon just in case," Jim stated, his grin wider.
He opened one of the nightstand's drawers and took out a bottle of massage oil. The Sentinel opened it and poured a bit of the liquid into his hand. His hands slid between the two of them, and he started to rub Blair's skin, coating his organ with the oil, making his lover wild with want. Jim wrapped his legs around the young man's waist and his hands guided his lover to the right spot. Closing his eyes, he sighed as he felt Blair's cock rub against his opening.
Blair was nervous, he'd never done this before and was afraid to hurt Jim, but his desire was getting the better of him. It was a sight to see this big strong man exposed and pliant under him. His lust took over, and he pushed forward tenderly, moaning as he felt tight heat enclose his cock. Giving Jim time to adjust, he finally started to move, slow thrusts at first, faster when Jim gasped the order.
Jim looked beautiful, his head thrown back, he was panting, lost in the pleasure. His eyes opened and locked with his lover's as their movements became quicker, tenderness and love there even in the midst of their now primal coupling. It drove both over the edge. Calling each other's names, they came together as a wave of pure pleasure hit both their bodies, washing over them.
Blair fell on top of Jim and the older man embraced his lover. Lost in each other's arms, exhausted and sated, they fell asleep.
In the room next door, Ray was suddenly roused by a heavy body on top of him, greedy hands and lips exploring his skin. "Horny, are we?" he chuckled, feeling Bodie's erection poking his thigh.
"Very," came the breathless reply, while a hungry mouth fastened on his neck.
"Um.... You listened to them, didn't you?"
Bodie raised his head, actually looking offended. "I did not!" Looking at his lover's raised eyebrow, he relented. "Okay, so I did listen to them. I'm worried about them. Don't want Shipley or whoever he might hire to catch them off guard. It's not my fault they screamed and moaned like banshees while making love either!"
"I didn't hear anything, Love. Maybe you can show me...?" Ray suggested with an evil grin.
"Oh, I'd do more than that!" Bodie mock threatened and went down on his lover's body, licking every bit of skin he came in contact with.
He kissed Ray passionately, raising his lover's arms to rest on the pillows above his head. The ex-merc kissed his way across his Guide's jaw, moving down to lick his neck. Ray moaned wantonly and turned his head, exposing more of his neck.
Bodie's tongue moved lower to the hairy chest, causing Ray to moan louder. His breathing quickened as he felt Bodie's tongue teasing his nipples. Hands caressed his flanks and chest, and soon Ray was moaning continuously, those torturous hands never reaching below his waist.
"Bodie, I'll kill you, I swear I will!"
A breathless chuckle against his nipple was his only answer, but finally Bodie relented and his hands traveled lower caressing soft skin. Hearing another loud moan, the Sentinel gripped Ray's hard shaft making him lift his hips from the bed, thrusting himself into Bodie's hand.
Bodie grasped the base of Ray's cock, licking the drops of precum off the tip, his tongue sliding from the tip to the base, moving on to his balls. Each testicle was licked and sucked, causing Doyle to cry out.
His senses telling him his Guide was rapidly reaching his climax, Bodie decided to stop the teasing. Having stretched himself before waking Ray up, Bodie straddle him and slowly lowered himself onto his lover's hard shaft with a moan of his own. Doyle grabbed Bodie by the waist and started to thrust his hips up.
Resting both hands on Ray's shoulders Bodie began to move up and down on his lover's cock. Too soon they were both moaning, and Bodie felt Ray's hand around his cock pumping him. The Sentinel bit his lip in ecstasy as Ray cried out and came deep inside of him.
"Ohhh...Bodie!" Ray's voice was husky with pleasure.
Hearing his lover cry out, and feeling the hot flow of semen deep inside, made Bodie lose control and his seed spurted all over Ray's hand and stomach. Exhausted, the agent collapsed on Ray's chest, panting heavily.
"I see what you mean," Ray finally whispered.
Those were the last words from either of them for a very long time as Doyle set out to return the favor.
The next few days were calm. Bruce Elliot or Peter Shipley was nowhere in sight, but they were sure he would be around soon enough.
It was Monday again and the two Americans were out seeing the town again, just enjoying themselves. Walking slowly through a small park, the two lovers were talking and laughing at each other, lost in their own world, knowing the CI5 men were close to watch over them.
It was a little after one in the afternoon when suddenly Blair's stomach decided to complain about the lack of nourishment, reminding them they hadn't had lunch yet. Chuckling happily, Jim walked over to a small food stand to buy them something to eat, while the young man sat on a bench to rest.
Blair was glancing around, taking in the earthy smells around him when his eyes caught sight of a man running. When he recognised the man as Bodie and noticed the agent was running towards Jim, the young man's heart nearly stopped. He jumped out of his seat.
His lover turned just as Bodie reached him. The CI5 man threw Jim on the ground and covered him. In that exact moment the bullets crossed the space where Jim'd been standing, hitting harmless wood instead of warm flesh. Ray Doyle, arriving only a few seconds late than his lover, fired a few shots, but it was too late. With a squeal of wheels the shooter disappeared in the London traffic.
Standing up, Jim stared at the food stand now covered with bullet holes and turned to Bodie. "Thanks."
"Don't mention it, mate."
Blair arrived as he finished and threw himself in Jim's arms. "God, I was so scared! Are you guys okay?"
"Yes. Both in one piece and with no bullet holes," Bodie answered cheekily.
"Bodie, that isn't funny!" Ray chided, having been scared for his lover too.
"Don't worry, Petal," Bodie soothed Blair, while he caressed his lover's cheek lovingly. "I told you we'd take care of the two of you and I meant it. Nothing will happen."
"How did you know the guy was there?" Jim queried.
"Was looking around and saw the flash of the lenses in the rifle. Professional thing that, expensive too, I'm sure. And it was Shipley. These senses are really something else, too bad we can't use what we see for evidence, or I'd bust the bastard today! But who'd believe I saw who it was from that distance?"
"I know what you mean. Happens a lot where I come from too. It's a blessing and a curse," Jim said, and turned to his lover. "Sorry about all this, Blair. I'll get you something to eat now."
"I'm not hungry anymore," the young man stated with a grimace.
"I am!" Bodie replied, and his answer was three snorts and a "What else is new?" from his lover.
"What?! I don't eat that much!"
He got no answer this time.
It was Friday afternoon. While Blair was getting ready to go to work, Jim was looking out the window, watching the rain falling from the nearly dark sky. His vacation was almost over, three more days, and he would have to go back to the States. Shipley would have to make his next move soon, or he'd lose his opportunity.
Blair walked out of the bathroom, dressed and ready to go. "I've got to go to work, Love. You'll be okay alone?"
"Yeah. Bodie and Ray are next door if I need anything."
They kissed sweetly.
"See you later, then. Have fun!" Blair joked with a smile. "There'll be a guy from room-service here soon. It's a special dinner I ordered for you. Enjoy it and think of me while you eat all those tasty morsels. Bye!"
After his lover left, Jim smiled. Even late for work, Blair was always thinking about him and his needs. It made him feel warm inside. Around eight o'clock there was a knock on the door.
"Who is it?"
Chuckling softly, the Sentinel went to open the door and found himself face to face with Shipley, gun aimed at his heart. "Get back inside," the assassin ordered sharply.
Jim obeyed and the man walked in, closing the door with his foot.
"This time I will kill you, Ellison. There's no one to protect you now."
"This won't make you win Blair, you know? He knows who you are."
"What are you talking about?" Shipley asked, uncertain.
"Your name's Peter Shipley and you're a professional hitman," Jim answered, watching the door connecting with the next room opening silently.
"How do you know that?"
"Two CI5 agents told us. They're on to you, you know?"
"They won't catch me, I'm too smart for them," the man bragged.
"Really? Look behind you then."
Shipley laughed. "You don't think I'll fall for that old trick, do you?"
"You don't see enough movies, man. The bad guy always says that and there really is always someone behind him," Jim said with a chuckle.
"Yeah, and this time it's no different. Drop the gun, Shipley!" Bodie demanded.
The assassin turned slowly and watched the two CI5 agents. Seeing no way out, he dropped his gun.
"It's over. You know that, don't you?" Ray queried. "How did you know Jim was waiting for room-service?"
"Bribed one of the receptionists. This isn't exactly the Hilton, you know? He was more than glad for the extra money in exchange for simple information. He told me Blair had come to him yesterday asking if he could arrange for a special dinner for one for tonight. I knew Blair would be working, so it had to be for you. Too bad I ruined the plan, he had a very exquisite dinner in mind for you, oysters, good wine.... Anyway, he ordered the meal for eight, and I took the waiter's place."
"Good boy. Now, what are you doing in London?" Bodie asked with a menacing growl.
"Doing my christmas shopping, what else?" Shipley replied sarcastically.
"Come on, you stupid sod! Don't play with us! You're going to jail for attempted murder, we caught you red-handed. We can make your prison life very easy, or very, very, miserable. Your choice," Ray offered with a smile.
"What are you talking about?"
"Well, we could spread around to the other prisoners that you're a child molester. You know what they do to them in jail, don't you? Or maybe that you're a grass from the coppers sent to spy on them. Shit! Wouldn't give you two weeks!"
Bodie looked at Ray. "We wouldn't?" he asked.
"I don't know, would we?" Ray replied with a smile, obviously enjoying himself.
Jim shook his head. "I wouldn't bet they wouldn't," he stated, a mock pity look on his face.
"Bastards! Fine! I was hired to kill the President of the United States of America. Satisfied, now?"
A choir of three voices saying "What?!" was heard in the room.
Shipley sighed, annoyed, and explained, "He's supposed to be here next month to help with the peace talk for Ireland. I was supposed to come up with a plan to kill him."
"Who hired you, the IRA?"
"No. A man named John Falcon."
"Shit!" Bodie snarled.
"You know him?" Jim wanted to know.
"Yeah. He's one of the wealthiest businessmen in Ireland, made his fortune selling computer software. Nobody knows where he stands exactly in the religious problem there. Whatever it is though, he strongly believes they should solve it themselves, without any foreign help. Especially from the Americans."
"I'm going to call our boss and tell him we've got what we wanted. Thanks for the help, Jim."
When Blair returned to the hotel, dawn already breaking, they told him the news. "That's so cool! You mean this is over?!"
"Oh, yeah! We can go back to Cascade now, Love," Jim said with a smile.
"When will you be leaving?" Ray asked.
"Okay. Then tomorrow we'll take you guys out to dinner. It's our farewell gift for the help you gave us," Bodie stated. "It's the least we can do for you Yanks."
He ducked quite nicely from the pillows thrown his way.
The airport wasn't as crowded as the day he'd arrived, and for that Jim was grateful. After saying his goodbyes to the CI5 men, he went to check-in, leaving his lover with the agents to part in privacy.
"Ray, take care of yourself, and take good care of this guy, you hear?" He pointed to Bodie, with a smirk. "He has this tough guy act, but that's all it is, an act."
"I know. It's okay, I can handle him. Give us a hug, Sunshine."
Blair hugged him tightly and then turned to the ex-merc. "Bodie," he whispered, eyes shinning with affection.
"I'll miss you Petal," Bodie said, eyes moist.
"You're not going to cry, are you? Because if you do, I think I'll cry too."
"We're manly men, Petal," Bodie grinned. "We don't cry, we have sinusitis."
Blair chuckled weakly. "Oh, right. Listen, I know you're not the writing type, but try to stay in touch, okay?"
"Consider it done. Oh, and Petal? We have a two week vacation in the summer. Think you can show us the sights in Cascade?"
Blair looked at the two agents, stunned. "You're kidding! You're coming to Cascade?"
Blair hugged the ex-merc with enough force to crush a rib or two, but Bodie didn't complain. When they parted, he touched his lips to the young man's lightly.
"Take care, Sunshine. Tell that bully copper of yours to keep an eye out on you. And you keep your arse out of trouble!"
"I will. Bye, guys! See you in the summer!"
He waved and went to join his Sentinel. An hour later they were on their way back to Cascade.
Watching the busy streets of Cascade, with the noisy cars, loud people and general buzz, was definitely a culture shock after London. Tired from the long trip the two men decided to head straight for the loft before telling anyone they were back. Of course, things don't always turn out the way we want it, Jim thought, as a chorus of "Welcome back!" rose from the loft as they walked in.
Both men stood stunned, looking around. There were colorful balloons everywhere, confetti, and a big sign on the wall with "Welcome home!" written in bright red on the wall. And there in front of them stood Taggart, Megan, Simon, Rafe and H, all wearing matching goofy grins.
"Have a nice flight?" H queried cheekily.
"Lovely," Jim smiled. "What are you guys doing here?"
"We have spies everywhere. They told us you were coming back today and on which flight, so we prepared this little welcoming party," Rafe answered. "There's food, drinks, and best of all...us!"
Megan hugged Blair. "I'm glad Jim brought you back, Sandy. We've missed you."
"Speak for yourself!" Mock growled Simon, but his smile betrayed his true feelings. "Seriously Blair, we're glad you came back. We're your friends and personally, I'm proud of you."
"Yeah. And we love you too, kid, "Joel stated, making Blair blush.
"Now.... Care to explain why the CI5 was checking up on you?" Simon asked with his best no-nonsense face.
Blair and Jim looked at each other. "We do have a lot to tell you guys, that's for sure!" Jim laughed suddenly.
The two of them told them about their adventures in London and also about becoming lovers. They had talked seriously on the plane about telling their friends, and decided to start their new life together with a clean sheet, no secrets. Their friends took it really well, happy for them. Now it was time to start building the future.
It was Saturday afternoon. Simon and Megan walked into the loft noticing H, Rafe and Taggart were already there. The Jags were playing, and since they were all off-duty, they decided to get together at Jim's home and watch the game together.
Simon looked around. "Where's your better half?"
Jim frowned. "Don't know. Left early this morning to meet with William Lange and hasn't returned yet. I'm really worried. This is not like him at all."
"William Lange? Isn't he that mysterious millionaire that appeared in Cascade a few years ago from God knows where? What does he want with Blair?" Megan asked.
"I have no idea. He called last night and asked Blair if he could meet with him today. Haven't heard a thing since he left hours ago."
"You're very relaxed!" H commented. "I figured you'd be out looking for him by now!"
"I would if I knew where they were meeting."
The game had just started when Blair finally arrived. He looked really happy, there was a twinkle in the sapphire eyes that hadn't been present in the month since they'd returned from London. Usually he was too exhausted or frustrated about not being able to find a job.
"Where have you been?" Jim queried, sternly.
"With William Lange."
"I know that! But why so long?"
"He asked me to have lunch with him, and I couldn't refuse."
"Why not?" H asked.
"He offered me a job."
"What?" Megan nearly shouted. "Doing what?"
"He's opening a museum and wants me to be the curator. He has an amazing collection, we stayed hours just trying to make an inventory and didn't get to half of it."
"What did you say?" Rafe was curious.
"I said yes. It's the chance of a lifetime. I'll be able to keep working in my field of study, doing what I've always done, research. Lange wants the museum to have a bit of everything, archeology, anthropology, natural history.... And I'll be responsible for everything."
"Are you happy then?"
Blair looked at Simon. "Happy? Simon, I have no words to express what I'm feeling right now. I feel like I'm being born again. I know you suggested I go to the academy and really become Jim's partner. You all said I'd make a great cop. Maybe. But even if I do have good instincts, even if I do manage to hold my own under pressure, I still hate guns, and hate fighting and wouldn't be happy. I'll always be more than willing to help you guys if you need me, but this is what I want to be doing, this is what I love, this is what makes me happy."
Taggart nodded. "Then we're happy too, Blair. I just have one question, why did he pick you? Not that I'm putting you down or anything...."
"It's okay. I asked him the same thing. He told me he believed in my dissertation. Then he told me a bit of his life's story, and I knew I'd say yes to his offer."
"What did he tell you?" H asked curiously.
"That he knew a Sentinel himself, was his Guide in fact. They were part of a medical team that used to travel around the world helping people out as best as they could. He has a few companies that helped finance those trips. When the Sentinel died rescuing some people from a fire, he decided to retire from the world and come to Cascade. When he heard about my dissertation and the press conference, he knew the truth and why I did what I did. He said he tried to find me before, must have been while we were in London. He also told me that during his travels around the world with his Sentinel they met a few pairs of Sentinel and Guide from several countries. There are a lot of us out there," he finished looking at his lover.
"If you're happy, that's what matters. Congratulations!"
"Thank you. Now, what about those Jags? Who's winning?"
They all settled down and Blair rested his head on Jim's shoulder. He was finally at peace for the first time in months. Like Jim had said in London, not everything would be rosy in the future, but he had Jim, good friends, and now even a job he could only have dreamed of before. It was more than enough. Watch out world, Blair Sandburg was back!
-- THE END --