A/N - This was written for this year's Sentinel's Big Bang but you don't need to know any background for either show. It's complete, 31 chapters plus an epilogue, so I'll try to post a chapter a day until it's all up. Slash, so if that's not your cup of tea, back up now.

Growing Pains

Blair rolled onto his side, instinctively scooting over to the warm spot on the other side of the bed. When he realized that he was alone on the king-sized bed, he opened his eyes to see Jim standing at the window, apparently lost in thought. He took a moment to admire the view of the strong back and wide shoulders. It had been many years since the Department of Sentinel Affairs had paired the energetic student with the former soldier, but they'd developed into one of the strongest pairs in recorded history. The downside was being dragged to Washington, DC twice a year to testify to the Senate Oversight Committee.

"You okay?"

Jim Ellison turned away from the view of the sun rising over the Washington Monument, shaking of his head. "The panther was restless last night. Something's coming."

"Something dangerous?"

"Not exactly dangerous, but whatever it is, it makes me want to grab you up and bond like there's no tomorrow." There was no mistaking the lust in the blue eyes as they raked up and down the smaller man.

That look turned him on now as much as it had the week of their first bonding and Blair tossed the bedding back. The thickening shaft immediately caught the Sentinel's attention even as his nose caught the pheromones. Blair smiled as he saw Jim's nose flare. "Come here, lover. Make me yours while we wait for whatever is going to happen."

Jim didn't have to be told twice as he strode across the hotel room, dropping his boxers on the thick carpeting.


On the other side of Washington, DC a group of NCIS agents prepared to storm a warehouse. The Major Crime Response Team had a reliable tip that Padshad Shuhab would personally oversee a weapons deal that morning. Two agents at the back entrance, two at the front, the three younger agents waiting for the team leader to make the call.

Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs winced as the sounds of the pier echoed through his ears and the smells rolled his stomach. Next to him was the team's least experienced agent, Timothy McGee, their computer and technology expert. McGee moved closer to him, waiting for the signal. His aftershave was much too strong, but it was a soothing scent to the older man. Gibbs spoke into his wrist mic. "Hold your positions, all the players aren't here yet." Leaning towards McGee, he sniffed again, letting the rich, spicy scent fill his sinuses and calm his stomach. "New aftershave, Tim? Sure smells better than whatever it is that DiNozzo was wearing this morning."

"Boss?" He wasn't sure what surprised him more, the question or the use of his first name. "I'm not wearing any aftershave."


"Yeah, babe, that's it. Feels so good." Panting, Jim lay flat on his back, watching as Blair rode him. A few lines on his face, a few streaks of gray in the curls, did not diminish the beauty of the younger man. As they drew closer to climax, the bond flared strong, strengthening them both. He reached up and grabbed Blair's cock, pumping it in time with their motions. Blair threw his head back with a cry, echoing Jim's yell, as his fluid landed on the older man's chest.


The signal had been given and the team moved in. In the back, Tony DiNozzo and Ziva David caught their first target unaware and were able to subdue him without raising the alarm. A second gunman opened a door before they were back in position. He yelled and all hell broke loose. Both Tony and Ziva started shooting as they moved across the empty bay to the relative safety behind the crates on the other side.


Gibbs eased forward, McGee behind and to his left. He glanced over his shoulder at his partner, who nodded as he drew down on Shuhab's bodyguard. Gibbs turned back, but a strange, thumping noise caught his attention, distracting him and drawing his focus into a narrowing circle as the sound became louder and consumed him.


Timothy McGee hated these kinds of Ops. There were too many unknowns and too many things could go wrong. That seemed to be the case here as a yell from the back of the warehouse caught the attention of the players. Any hesitation was lost when shooting could be heard. The bodyguard and several others turned towards them, guns drawn. McGee raised his SIG as he yelled.

"Federal Agents, freeze." He fired off two quick rounds before realizing that Gibbs was standing, frozen, in the open. Laying down as much cover fire as he could, McGee charged his boss, knocking him to the ground as a bullet ripped through Tim's shoulder. The impact spun McGee around before he fell. Tim bit back a curse as he was forced to continue shooting with his off hand, protecting Gibbs with his own body between Gibbs and the shooters.

Growing weak from the blood loss, Tim continued to fire, grateful when he heard the approaching sirens and the squeal of tires as Shuhab and his people blew through the side of the building with their armored limo. "Boss? Boss, can you hear me?" McGee crawled closer and struggled to get a response from the older man, but he was unresponsive and barely breathing. It wasn't until he heard DiNozzo yelling for an ambulance that he let the darkness pull him under.


Jim lay sprawled on the bed, Blair draped over him. After such an intense joining their bond was literally buzzing and he reveled in the feeling. It was tempting, so very tempting, to ignore the phone when it began to ring. Grumbling, he finally reached out and snagged it as Blair pinched him to get him moving.

"Yeah, Ellison."

~Jim, it's Simon.~

It was barely six in the morning on the West coast and for the Director of the Department of Sentinel Affairs to be calling this early, something was obviously wrong. Blair sensed it too, sitting up to allow Jim to raise up. "Simon, what's wrong? What's happened?"

~Looks like we've got a possible new sentinel that's just come online. He's been taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital. I need for you and Blair to get over there and assess the situation.~

The hospital caught Jim's attention. "Is he military?"

~No, he's a federal agent, NCIS. Something's weird about this, Jim. If this is legitimate, he'll be the oldest sentinel we've ever had come online.~

"You think he's been flying under the radar?"

~I think that's much more likely than a fifty-two year old man suddenly gaining sentinel abilities in the middle of a gun fight. Figure it out, Jim, and keep me posted. If you think he's the real deal, I can be in the air within the hour.~

Disconnecting the call, Jim turned to Blair who had been leaning close enough to listen in. "What do you think?"

"I think we just figured out why the panther was so restless last night."


Jim was pulling the rental car into the parking lot when he felt it – a primal, untamed wave stronger than he'd ever felt from another sentinel. "Call Simon, tell him it's confirmed."

"Already? You can sense him from out here?" Sandburg was already fumbling for his phone. "My God, Jim, if he's that strong without any training and without a guide..."

"We'd better find him a guide quick, or he's not going to make it for very long." Jim found a parking space and quickly parked the car. "Any suggestions?"

Blair was biting his lower lip as he thought. "I can call Professor Stoddard at the Guide University, but we'd be better off with someone local, maybe somebody from his own agency." The two men climbed out of the car and hurried towards the emergency entrance.

"Does NCIS even have any trained guides on staff? Because I'm telling you, Chief, I don't think this guy can hold out for the months to train a new guide."

Hurrying to keep up, Sandburg was adamant. "If he's as strong as you say he is, and as old as Simon thinks he is, his abilities must have been at least partially active. I bet there's a latent guide close to him that's been keeping him in check."

"I hope you're right, Chief." They walked up to the desk and Jim pulled out his ID. "Ma'am, Senior Sentinel Ellison and Senior Guide Sandburg from the Department of Sentinel Affairs."

The petite woman jumped to her feet. "Oh, thank goodness. Come right this way."

Jim noticed a group of people watching them intently, but his focus was on the new sentinel beyond the double doors whose vital signs were becoming increasingly unstable. "Was he injured?"

"We don't know. Nothing showed up in the x-rays they took and none of the doctors have found anything physically wrong with him. They tried to take him upstairs for a MRI, but every time we start to move him out of the ER, he crashes."

That gave them their first clue. "Was anyone else brought in with him?" Blair reached out with his mind, hoping that a guide, even an untrained one, would react. "Perhaps someone who is still unconscious?"

She nodded. "Another agent was shot during the raid. He's being prepped for surgery right now."

Blair was instantly concerned. "Tell them not to move the other agent yet. Not until we've had time to check him."


"If the sentinel has partially bonded with him as a guide, separating them right now could kill the sentinel."

The nurse's eyes widened in alarm and she grabbed another nurse to pass on the message.

With the wounded agent being cared for as best they could in the emergency room, Ellison and Sandburg went in to examine the possible new sentinel. Blair was still convinced that the man had somehow managed to hide his abilities rather than having subconsciously suppressed them all his life.

"Hey, Doc, what have we got?" Ellison moved closer to the bed, Blair tucked in behind him. Jim recognized a fellow soldier from the haircut to the body that had been kept in shape, despite his age. "Jarhead?"

"Yep, Marine Corps." The doctor rattled off what he knew without even looking up. "Former Gunnery Sergeant Leroy Jethro Gibbs, now a lead agent with NCIS. I've seen sentinels come on line before, but never one this old."

Elbowing Jim just a bit, Blair stepped out from in back of him and examined Gibbs. There was no doubt that the man was deeply zoned. "Up until today, the oldest recorded sentinel coming online happened at the age of thirty-two. This is going to be fascinating."

Jim had to smile at his Guide's enthusiasm. "First thing's first, Darwin."

"Yep." Sandburg looked up at the doctor. "We need to move him next to the possible guide. If they're meant for each other, the Sentinel will stabilize pretty quick."

"What in the hell is going on?" They turned to see another man standing in the doorway, bloody sleeves rolled up to his elbows. "What are you doing with the Boss?"

Ellison crossed his arms over his chest and gave the new arrival a questioning look. "Agent..?"

"DiNozzo, Anthony DiNozzo. Now I don't know who you are, but you have no right to come in here and start making decisions for Gibbs. I'm his second in command – if any decisions have to be made, I'll be the one to make them."

Jim pulled out his badge. "Ellison, Senior Sentinel, Department of Sentinel Affairs. Looks like your boss was a latent sentinel that just came online. That means any decisions from this point on will be made by the Senior Guide until Sentinel Gibbs' Guide is recovered enough to take over."

"No way." DiNozzo shook his head, not willing to budge. "If Gibbs is a sentinel, then I'm his guide because I'm his senior agent."

Sandburg quietly moved to the side and made a call, which told his Sentinel that he was picking up a lot of hostility from the new arrival, so Jim tried to nip it in the bud. "Listen, Skippy, it doesn't work that way."

"Whatever it is, I can learn."

"Nobody learns how to be a guide, it's genetic, the same as sentinels. Now, move." Senior agent or not, Jim was rapidly losing patience with the stubborn man.

"Oh, come on. You can't just barge in here and start taking over."

Jim nodded to the three MP's that came up behind DiNozzo. "Interfering with the bond between Sentinel and Guide is a class three felony. I'm not going to ask you again – back off."

Swearing under his breath, DiNozzo pushed past the MP's and stormed back out to the waiting area. Ellison returned his attention to Gibbs. "Okay, let's get him moved."

Gibbs had been hooked up to a great deal of equipment in the exam room, but now he was transferred to a portable oxygen tank and a Wi-Fi capable heart monitor. Once that was done, the bed was wheeled down the hall to another room.

The smell of blood was strong to sentinel senses and Jim had to dial it down. He knew immediately that the injured man was a guide and even though he wasn't Jim's guide, Jim immediately felt protective of him and wanted to offer comfort.

Sandburg watched Gibbs closely as they moved into the room. Gibbs was becoming more stressed as it was the damage to his Guide and not his comfort that the new Sentinel was sensing.

With the help of an orderly, Ellison tenderly shifted McGee towards the edge of the bed, being ever vigilant to not jostle the damaged shoulder. At the other gurney, Sandburg and the doctor mirrored their actions until the two men were touching.

"Damn." Doctor Wilkes shook his head as he watched the EKG settle into a normal, steady rhythm and Gibbs' oxygen levels rose with each breath.

Blair bounced on his toes. "No matter how many times I see a new Sentinel and Guide start off, it's always cool. We'll give him a few minutes to come out of the zone a little bit more then it will be okay to give him a sentinel safe sedative to keep him under while Agent McGee is in surgery."

Once that was done and Agent McGee was wheeled into surgery, Gibbs' doctor turned back to the remaining sentinel and guide pair. "Walter Reed has a top tier dedicated sentinel and guide unit. Should they be transferred there?"

Jim turned to Blair, leaving the decision to the Senior Guide. "We didn't get a chance to talk to McGee's doctor, how badly is he injured?"

Wilkes checked the chart and x-rays. "One gunshot wound to the upper left chest. It missed everything vital, but was pretty messy with heavy blood loss. Apparently it just caught the edge of his vest so the bullet was tumbling, left a pretty torn up wound track. His recovery will probably be slow, but unless they find something unexpected in the OR, I'd expect him to be able to go home in a few days, as long as he has help. With him being a new guide, I don't expect that to be a problem, right?"

"Shouldn't be. Senior Sentinel Ellison and I will stay here until they're ready to be on their own. All right, we'll plan on them staying here unless we run into complications. I assume that you have enough staff on hand trained in sentinel and guide protocols?"

"Of course. Leaves have already been canceled and the entire team will be here within the hour."

Jim looked over at Blair, making sure to have his support before cutting in. "To be safe, we want Sentinel Gibbs kept under sedation and isolated until Guide McGee is stable enough to handle the first stages of the bond, probably tomorrow morning. Also no visitors for either of them until they've passed the first stages of the bonding. Make sure there's plenty of security, we can bring in more if you need it."

Doctor Wilkes was taking notes. "In the past we've used one of the rarely used isolation units as a temporary sentinel and guide units. It has a card lock system – do you want us to reactivate that?"

"Yeah, let's do that just to be safe." Jim looked over at Sandburg. "Okay, Chief, let's inform NCIS that they officially have a Sentinel Guide pair."

Leaving the Emergency Department, they headed towards the waiting area. Agent DiNozzo was there, standing over two seated women, glowering at them as they walked down the hall. A well-dressed black man that reminded Ellison of a shorter Simon Banks was coming towards the group from the opposite direction, an even shorter, gray-haired man at his side. Judging from the armed agents flanking them, it appeared the Director of NCIS had arrived. Jim waited and addressed him directly.

"Director Vance?"

"Senior Sentinel Ellison? So, it's true."

"Yes, Sir. NCIS now has a Sentinel Pair. Congratulations."

No one in the waiting room seemed overly thrilled by his announcement.