Arriving at the station early, Jim spent some time guiding Michaels in putting together his task force. He made sure the young detective selected solid, experienced officers who wouldn't give the green man a hard time. He left McGee with him discussing the technical aspects of the case when McKenzie called at 9:30.

"Detective Ellison, I think that sailor you asked me about is here. He's still asleep, but Kyle pointed him out to me when I arrived a few minutes ago. He didn't see him arrive last night, that's why he didn't call you. He must have been helping another resident away from his desk. We don't like to leave the desk unattended, but we don't have enough volunteers to cover it all the time. If you can come to confirm his identity I'd appreciate it. He might need medical attention; he seems pretty out of it. It's possible he's stoned since I don't smell any alcohol."

"I'll be there in a few minutes," Jim answered. "I'd love to be able to tell his sister and commanding officer that we've found him."

"I hope he isn't in too much trouble with his superiors, I'm sure they discourage this type of behavior. But, young men will often do stupid things."

"That's true, McKenzie, I appreciate your help."

Jim nodded to Blair. "Let's go pick him up Sandburg. I doubt they gave him anything dangerous, but we'll stop by the emergency room for a drug test and once over."

"Take McGee and DiNozzo with you," Gibbs suggested.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Jim answered. "I don't want him to get any hint of federal interest. He thinks he's solved his problem."

Gibbs nodded at the reasoning. "Alright, let me know when we've confirmed his identity, and I'll notify Commander Abrams. I don't want the kid's record to reflect this."

"And we're going to need a statement once he's recovered," Blair inserted. "He was probably drugged the whole time, but you never know."


The case wrapped quickly. The doctor released Douglas by early afternoon, and he spent the rest of the day with his sister. Reports were completed and submitted by the end of the shift and the entire group headed to dinner to celebrate. The conversation avoided all Sentinel/Guide discussions by common consent. They wanted to enjoy their dinner and besides, Michaels was along.

Returning to the loft, everyone settled in for the discussion.

"Can't I just go back to being normal?" DiNozzo started off the discussion. He was sure he knew the answer, but had to ask anyway.

"No, this is normal for you. It's not a disease or illness that needs a cure. It's like someone born with great musical ability. It just is," Blair answered.

Nodding, Tony continued. "Well, if I'm stuck with them, how do I control the whole mess?"

"With practice and testing," Blair answered. "You may not like them, but I promise, they will give you control."

"I fought Blair over every test, but they did help tremendously. He always made sure I was helpless and uncomfortable, but he didn't do anything unsafe." 'At least on purpose' he mentally added, careful not to look at Blair since they'd both probably end up laughing.

"The simplest thing is probably for you two to spend a couple of weeks here training. We can give you the basics and help you full time. But once you return to DC, you'll need to continue working. If your schedule is anything like Jim's, you'll need to put in the effort to find the time," Blair began. "I know you'll probably need to arrange the time and return, so I'll give you some exercises and simple instructions now. I'm serious, though, this can be *extremely* dangerous if not handled immediately."

Hoping he'd struck the right note between emphasizing the importance of training and not terrifying the pair, he stopped.

"Rhonda booked you on a flight tomorrow afternoon. I know that's probably as late as you can push this trip without causing questions. Sandburg can help them tomorrow morning with the preliminary instructions," Simon interjected.

"Tonight, we'll just go over anything you need clarified and answer what questions we can."

The Cascade trio continued fielding questions for the next couple of hours. By the end of the evening the tension had eased as understanding grew.

"There's one other major side effect of this, at least for Jim. I have no idea if it's just him or will affect you too. Drugs are a major concern. They just don't react normally with Jim's senses. Over the counter cold medicine threw him for a loop, but sedatives are only minimally effective. I'll give you a copy of his drug reactions tomorrow, but you'll have to see what happens for yourself."

"Maybe Ducky could help us," Ziva mused.

"He's our ME, but he also handles personal medical problems if we ask," McGee answered Blair's unspoken question.

"I can't tell you what to do, but you need to be very careful whom you share this information with," Jim said. "You're in the middle of the entire alphabet of organizations with bureaucrats and politicians who think the end justifies the means. If you're not extremely careful you could find yourself in some top secret basement as lab rats or some covert group as assassins."

Jim stared hard at Gibbs, who had the experience to understand and imagine the possibilities. After a moment Gibbs nodded. "We'll be careful. This is the best team I've ever had. I don't plan to let it go anytime soon."

Blair was amused as the other three agents goggled at their boss. Apparently, Gibbs was as generous as Simon with the praise he dished out.

The group headed their separate ways with plans for DiNozzo and McGee to return in the morning before heading to the airport.

Jim closed up his apartment and glanced at his grinning Guide.

"More suspects to torture, Chief?" He knew the scientist in Blair would never completely disappear beneath the cop.

"I don't torture my students. They just think I do." Blair rubbed his hands and cackled evilly.

"Well, just keep me out of your crosshairs." Jim laughed before turning serious. "Chief, I know we've been bonding a lot, but . . ." He couldn't finish the sentence.

"Jim," Blair answered softly. "I don't want you to ever be ashamed of what you are and what you need. An unbonded Sentinel in your territory is going set you off. You want constant reassurance that I'm okay and yours. I told you before Sentinels are possessive. I really don't mind, besides, I enjoy bonding as much as you do. In fact, the Guide side of me has been pretty possessive recently as well. It's demanding your undivided attention, that's why I asked Simon for some time off. I honestly don't know how long I can control my 'primitive throwback' nature."

Jim grinned at Blair's reference. "Okay Darwin, your place or mine?"

"I'm sure yours is cleaner, I haven't had the energy to make the bed the last couple of days." Blair laughed. "I know that would offend your Sentinel neat radar."

Jim ushered Blair toward the stairs and asked. "When do you plan to let them in one this bonding thing? I know if you'd told me at the beginning I would have run across the state line screaming."

"I plan to play that by ear. They seem more accepting than you were, but this is pretty far outside what is accepted as normal."

"Tomorrow is a whole new day. We have a new pair to help and a new detective to bring along. Not to mention a *major* case to crack. Is Michaels ready to handle it?"

"Yeah, I think so. He's pretty nervous, but he'll settle down and see it through. We'll be there to guide him along."

Sinking into bed, the tired men sighed as the bond deepened. Life was good.