Author's note: Thanks to Susan and Arnie for allowing me to play in their universes.
Disclaimer: I do no own The Sentinel and I'm making no money from this story (but it would be nice if I could!).
"I'm telling you, they suspect something," the young man ran his hand agitatedly through his long curls and paced back and forth in the empty hanger his footsteps echoing softly.
"How d'you know? Have they said anything?"
"Well, no, but…"
"Well, nothing," the detective with the pale blue eyes turned away with a dismissive gesture.
"Stop!" Putting a hand on the taller man's shoulder, the angry man's voice rose in volume. "I'm a guide, remember? You kept me there even though you know it's difficult for me because I'm a guide. I know they're experimenting on me. I can feel things. Remember? Surely what I've given you already is enough to take them down, no?"
"Guide Sandburg," the detective swung round dislodging the hand on his shoulder. He loomed over the shorter man and took a step forward pushing him towards the wall. "I haven't forgotten anything. Perhaps though, you've forgotten that we still haven't found your mother and if we can't find your mother we can't protect her, can we? And you know…"
"Jim, careful," the voice was so soft only the sentinel heard it making him stop advancing on his prey.
"Sorry, Joel," the words were conciliatory, but the tone matched the cold eyes. "Guide Sandburg, I know it's difficult, but we've almost got what we need. We need the big names, though, or they'll simply go elsewhere and start all over again. Just a couple of days more. You know that by getting what we need you'll be saving hundreds of guides from a fate worse than death." He watched the features before him flow into lines of resignation.
"Okay," Sandburg hesitated then blew out a breath, "but if I get the slightest hint that anything's going to happen, I'm like, so out of there."
The detective slapped his shoulder and with an obviously false smile pushed him towards the hangar doors. "We have a sentinel team on constant watch, so they'll be there immediately if anything goes down."
"But they can't hear past the white noise generators. I mean Dr Touring's developed this mega…"
"Sandburg… Blair. We have everything under control. Trust us. Trust me as a cop and a sentinel. You have your alarm, so if anything happens use it. Okay?"
Blair snorted, but allowed himself to be pushed out of the doors into the afternoon sunshine. He climbed into his battered Corvair and with a backward glance at the two men watching him he drove off.
Joel Taggart, former bomb squad captain and now working as a detective in Cascade PD's Major Crimes opened his mouth. He was interrupted before he could say anything.
"Don't start, Joel," the voice almost growled.
"Ellison," a single word, softly spoken and Cascade's Senior Sentinel Prime, Major Crimes Detective First Grade James Ellison's shoulders slumped.
"Don't you think it's hard for me to send a guide into possible danger? It's going against everything a sentinel does. But we need the information. God knows what those bastards are doing to them. Some of them are only children for God's sake!" He started towards where the two men had left their car and Taggart had to hurry to catch up.
"I may not be a sentinel, but I also understand the need to save someone, ANYONE, from suffering. However, I also think that that boy needs to know that his mother's dead."
Ellison stopped and turned so quickly that the captain had to take a step back to avoid being flattened. "And then what? He'd pull out and we won't get the names at the top. We've been on this for months. It won't make any difference if we arrest the lowlife. Those bankrolling this will simply go elsewhere and we'll be back to zero again."
"You're preaching to the choir, here," Taggart's normally calm voice held a hard edge. "I just think you're underestimating him. He's seen some pretty horrible things in those labs, had some bad things happen to him as well, but he's stuck it out for nearly six months now."
Ellison waved a hand in what could have been taken as an insult if the men didn't know each other so well. "He's just a grad student, Joel, not a cop."
"A grad student that's been on expeditions in dangerous situations…"
"And he's a guide."
And there lay the crux of the matter. Although great strides had been made in improving the laws regarding guides they were still seen as being weaker and needing to be protected. Ellison being a Dark Sentinel felt this even stronger than normal sentinels. It was tearing up him inside that guides were being illegally experimented on and that he was having to use another guide to bring the lab down. Unfortunately, this frustration often came out in misplaced anger.
Despite being found to be a remarkably strong guide at an early age, Sandburg's mother had defied convention and had refused to have him enrolled into a guide school. She'd travelled around the world taking her son with her and educated him herself. Which meant that everyone was amazed when Blair started university early, sailed through his degree and Masters and had almost completed his Ph.D at only 23 years of age.
However, this had also brought him to the attention of some unsavoury characters working at a research centre just outside Cascade. They'd lured him into their clutches through grants and interesting projects researching guide genetics. Chancellor Edwards from Rainier University had encouraged him to accept their offers, which surprised him a bit as she'd never been terribly enthusiastic towards the young student. Blair, unfortunately, proved that his intelligence was not a fluke and had discovered what was really going on. He protested to his boss thinking it was a few renegade staff doing the illegal testing. Then when he found out that the real purpose of the Centre was to try and find a way of controlling guides and through them, their sentinels, he decided he was going to the police.
When Edwards found out she at first threatened him with expulsion from the university. Then two men roughed him up a bit outside his warehouse home and warned him off and when he still insisted they threatened him with the one thing guaranteed to make him toe the line: his mother. After a few weeks, though, he knew that he had to do something to save the poor souls that were being tortured in the name of 'science'. He knew that his mother would understand, she being an activist saving everything from rainforests to battered women. Rather than go directly to the police he told a friend who was a guide to a police officer in the Cascade PD. The police officer told both his captain and the head of his sentinel clan.
In exchange for the police finding and protecting his mother who was off on one of her many travels, Sandburg had become a reluctant pawn in the fight to bring the criminal group down. Unfortunately, Sentinel Detective Ellison was running the show and he'd never met a more cold hearted, unfeeling bastard in his life.
Ellison and Taggart reached their car and climbed in. Just before pulling away, Ellison sighed and turned to look at his passenger.
"I don't like it either, Joel. I really wish we could do it another way, but you know pulling Sandburg out and trying to put in one of our guys would take, I don't know how long. And all those guides suffering… I just can't…"
"I know, Jim. I just don't like lying to him."
"A few more days and then it'll be over. I'll even let him slug me if it makes him feel better."
With that they left the scene each caught up in their own thoughts.
Sandburg meanwhile wiped his sweaty hands again on his jeans as he drove. God, he just KNEW something was going to happen and it was going to happen to him. He debated whether he had time to swing by his flat and change his clothes, but decided he didn't want to be later than he already was. He had to manage his meetings with the police around his work at the 'Centre' and often had to obfuscate as to where he'd been. He'd also change his clothes even though there were no sentinels at the Centre to sniff out where he'd been he didn't like taking chances. But he'd got a flat tyre and arrived late for his meeting and now had to get back.
He sighed. It looked like he was going to have to take a risk this afternoon whether he liked it or not.
Jim Ellison gratefully shut down his computer and stretched his arms above his head until his vertebrae popped. It'd been a long day and the meeting with the guide had been long and hard. Recently his senses had been jumping all over the place and he was beginning to think that it was the proximity of Sandburg that was the cause. And that made him angry. The man and cop didn't want a guide, but the sentinel was calling out for the close trust and complicity that a true bond brought. For the moment though, he was denying it to himself and, more importantly, to those around him.
"Ellison, my office."
He cursed under his breath as Simon Banks, captain of the unit called out to him. He slowly walked over and entered the office redolent with the smells of coffee and cigars.
"Captain," he said as he eased himself into one of the chairs placed in front of the desk.
"You look tired."
"It's been a long day."
"No thanks. I'm swimming in the stuff."
"Uh huh." The dark skinned man nodded sympathetically and then changed tack. "Is that why you didn't come and tell me about your meeting this afternoon?"
"Uh, no." Ellison shifted in his chair. "You were at a meeting and then Dan asked me to examine that body they found down at the docks."
"Find anything?" The captain's question seemed casual, but his interest was great. Ellison had the potential to be a great sentinel if only he could control his senses better. That meant bonding with a guide, which was something he was quite reluctant to do not wanting to commit himself to having to share his life with anyone else. He'd tried it with a wife and look how that had turned out! He was only holding on to his position as Senior Sentinel Prime due to a number of factors that required a fine balancing act.
His senses, when working correctly, were the strongest of all the sentinels in the clan, but only when they worked well. There were other sentinels, many of them bonded, who were eyeing his status with proprietary looks. None were in a position yet to challenge Ellison, but everyone knew that they were playing a waiting game as long as he didn't bond. Banks, not understanding his detective's reluctance, simply wanted him to get on with it so he could concentrate more on being a good detective. Fortunately for all concerned, Ellison was in Major crimes due to his investigating talents, not his sentinel ones.
Banks didn't need sentinel sight to see the slight grimace on the other man's face at his question.
"Unfortunately, my uh, senses weren't, um, cooperating."
"Well, maybe it's time…"
"No, Simon. You know how I feel."
The captain sighed and rubbed a hand over his head. "Jim," he tried to keep the exasperation out of his voice, "you've been saying this for nearly a year. And your control isn't getting any better. If you want to remain productive you need to bond."
Ellison jumped out of the chair and stalked towards the window. Leaning his head against the glass he cupped his hands behind his neck. "Not yet. I can't… "
"I really don't understand your reluctance. Other sentinels don't seem to have problems with being bonded."
"I like being on my own." The detective's shoulders slumped. "I don't want to need any one."
"What about this Sandburg? Joel says he's a strong guide…"
"Simon, just…" he was interrupted when his mobile phone rang. He pulled it out of pocket and flicked it open. "Ellison."
Banks looked up when he saw Jim push himself away from the window tight anger on his face.
"I'm on my way." He turned towards his captain. "That was Edwards out at the Centre. Sandburg set off his alarm. He's in trouble."
Within minutes the two men were on their way down to the garage followed by half of Major Crimes.