Jim sat at the kitchen table watching Blair eat his lunch. Something had to be wrong. Why had he reacted so harshly to Blair the night before, yet when the doctor suggested that he return Blair to Lake Island he was ready to kill the doctor, or anyone else for that matter, rather then give up his guide.
Talking to a therapist was out. Sitting in a chair like some mundane wimp and crying about his problems was not his style. Yet, he needed to talk to someone about what was going on. He had to find a solution. He had punished his guide, and took satisfaction in seeing Blair suffer. But this morning, even as he washed Blair in the shower, that same warm feeling filled him and was still with him. The bond was doing what it was supposed to do, keeping him stable. But why did the feeling go away just when it should reach its height? Why did he feel as if he were falling into an abyss whenever he claimed his guide, an abyss that seemed to be getting deeper with each act of claiming?
Something had to be done and soon. He couldn't continue on this mental seesaw. He didn't want to punish Blair again, or go through another one of those terrible nightmares. He had no doubt that Blair, not being beside him in bed, had triggered the nightmare. It was proof the bond was working. He needed to talk to someone who would understand, he needed to talk to another sentinel, one that he could trust, but also someone he didn't see everyday. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to one of his sentinel co-workers, wondering, every time Simon or Rafe looked at him, if they were laughing at him for his inability to establish a stable bond with Blair.
But who, who did he trust enough to lay himself open to? Then it came to him Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Years ago, while in special opps, they had gone on a joint mission together. He and Gibbs were the only survivors. Neither of them had taken a guide, the military frowned on Sentinels with guides. They wanted their soldiers sharp and willing to kill. They had spent nearly a year together in the jungle, depending on each other for their sanity and their life, before the military realized they were still alive and they were pulled out of the area. In that time they had bonded as brothers, sentinel to sentinel, and there was no one Jim Ellison trusted more then Leroy Jethro Gibbs. When they got back Gibbs resigned his commission, took a guide and joined NCIS. Jim finished his tour and then moved back to his hometown of Cascade. He joined the police department and took a guide, twice, both times the bond failed.
Gibbs had sent e-mail, at the beginning of the year, saying that he was being transferred to the NCIS office on the Navy base in Seattle. He told Jim to get a guide and look him up. Jim wasn't surprise about the, 'don't contact me until you have a guide', condition the e-mail set down. No bonded sentinel would let an un-bonded sentinel anywhere near his guide. But now he had a guide, so he made the decision; he would call Gibbs.
Gibbs hung up the phone and returned to the couch where his guide, Tony, waited for him. Evenings, if they didn't have to work, were always one of the best times for the guide. Gibbs would indulge in slow, incredibly arousing, bonding. It usually started on the couch with the sentinel brushing Tony's hair and moving on to nibbling erogenous zones until he took the guide upstairs to bed. But if they had had a particularly difficult day it would start in the shower, as soon as they got home. Those were the evenings that Tony thought of as sublime torture. Gibbs often tied him to the bed as he took and gave pleasure. Tony was allowed to do nothing but moan until Gibbs asked the question.
"Is there something you want, Guide?"
That was the signal that he was allowed to beg for release. Gibbs loved the sound of his guide, breathless, needing, wanting. Tony knew he had to satisfy Gibbs with his begging, he had to be inventive or release may not be allowed. He didn't mind serving Gibbs needs, he wanted to, needed to. Hell, he was helplessly addicted to his sentinel's touch. His sentinel had made sure of that.
Gibbs had known that as soon as a sentinel touched a guide the guide would crave more. So he set about using that little gem of knowledge to bond with his guide. He would give Tony full body, warm oil massages then deny him release or any skin-to-skin contact for the rest of the day and night. He also made the guide wear a male chastity belt while sleeping believing that allowing the guide to masturbate would slow down the bonding process. It was a week of hell for Gibbs, all his instincts screamed to claim his guide, dominate him, and show him who the alpha is. But there was another part of him that wanted more, and knew that pure domination was not the way to get it.
On the seventh day Tony whimpered when Gibbs put on the gloves he used to avoid accidental skin contact with his guide.
"What is it Guide, do you need something?" Gibbs asked as he smoothed the gloves over his hands.
"Please, Sentinel" Tony begged as he looked at the Gibbs with huge eyes. "I need you to touch me."
"I just did, Guide. Didn't you enjoy it?"
"Yes, Sentinel, May I have more, please?" Tony asked, letting a little hope creep into his voice.
Gibbs felt his heart quicken. It took every ounce of his control not to lay the guide down and pound into him.
"That's all you get, Guide."
Tony looked at the floor and whimpered again, all hope lost.
"Until I claim you," Gibbs added. "Do you have any other questions, Guide?"
Tony looked up into those unfathomable eyes. He wanted to be able to read what his Sentinel was thinking but all he saw were questions, not answers. Tony swallowed. He knew he shouldn't be asking the question he was about to ask, but he couldn't stop himself. "Wh...when w...will you claim me?"
"When you learn the value of my touch, Guide." Gibbs answered. "When you're ready to give me your body and your mind without holding anything back. When you're ready to serve my needs, wants, and whims without question or hesitation. When you know, beyond any doubt that you exist to serve and be touched by a sentinel. Then I'll claim you."
Tony looked down at the floor again. "I want to belong to you," he whispered. "I don't want to go back to the Guide House. Please, don't send me back. It hurts so much when you don't touch me."
Gibbs couldn't resist any longer. He swept his guide into his arms and took him to the bedroom. He savored every moment of the claiming. Always encouraging his guide to open up to him. And it worked, slowly Tony opened up his mind and the bond became deeper and deeper until the guide had no more to give and then Gibbs sealed his claim and bond with his guide.
In the weeks that followed Tony glowed with the attention Gibbs gave to him and demanded from him. Gibbs noticed other sentinels sneaking covert looks at his guide. It was Ducky that suggested he and Tony get into the Show Circuit. The M.E. was sure that the Guide would be a champion. Gibbs didn't know much about showing his guide but he was a fast learner. The Guide had always been in good shape but with a little body sculpting Tony started winning blue ribbons and Gibbs became the envy of every sentinel he met on the circuit.
Jim Ellison sat on the edge of the sofa bent over; he held a bottle of beer between his open legs and rolled the half full, brown bottle between his palms, watching intently as the light played off the lip of the glass.
Gibbs watched him, it was obvious that something was on his friends mind, something that it was difficult for the sentinel to talk about. "If you keep that up, Jim, you'll zone."
Jim looked up into his friend's eyes and clamped his jaw down. Now that he was here he wondered if it was the wise thing to do, to talk to Gibbs. He had been in Gibbs home for about an hour and a half and it was quite apparent that the bond his friend had with his guide Tony was very different than the bond he had with Blair. Tony would ask and answer appropriate questions not like Blair who only seemed able to say, "a guide submits to his sentinel." He was no longer sure he could make his friend understand what he was going through with his guide, and if he couldn't...
"Jim, whatever it is, you know you can trust me." Gibbs told him, and it was true, He would never betray his friend's trust. They had been through too much together all those months in the Peruvian Rain Forrest. So Gibbs waited; Ellison would talk when he was ready.
"Do you need help on a case?" Gibbs asked, a few minutes later, when Jim went back to watching the beer bottle roll between his palms.
Gibbs watched as his friends jaw muscles tightened once again. "No," Jim said, "It's not a case." Jim looked up and saw a look of expectation on his friends face. There was no judgment there, just patient waiting. "Did you know I tried to bond with two different guides and failed before Blair?"
"No," Gibbs said, "I didn't know that."
"A doctor told me I needed a higher rated empathic for a guide," Jim told his friend, "one that had been conditioned to submit to a bond." He was on a roll now and the words came tumbling out. "So I got Blair, a conditioned guide. They recommended bonding through pain, said it gave a deeper bond, so I did it. They never said, in so many words, that I'd feel the pain too. But hell, it worked, the bond took." Jim looked down at Blair who sat beside his right foot. He reached out and ran his fingers through his guide's hair. "Most of the time the bond is great. We get up in the morning and get ready for work. He keeps me stable all day. Evenings are wonderful. He does whatever I ask of him until...." Jim stopped talking and looked back at his beer bottle. He wasn't sure he could say it, say that somehow his bond had failed for the third time.
"Jim?" Gibbs asked. Whatever it was, it was causing Jim a great deal of pain. He got up and walked to his friend. He squatted down in front of him balancing on his toes as he reached out and caught the beer bottle between his hands, stopping the rolling motion. "Whatever it is you need, an ear, a shoulder, or anything else, I'm here for you, my friend. Whatever it is, you're not alone."
Jim looked into Jethro's eyes, "When I claim him, he lets go of me and I feel like I'm falling into an abyss. It's been getting worse. I ordered him not to do that to me but all he says is 'a guide submits to his sentinel'." Jim looked away from his friend's eyes, "when he did it again I punished him."
"Did you get rebound?" Gibbs asked.
"Rebound?" Jim asked, confused by the question.
"When you have a deep bond with a guide," Gibbs told him, "and you punish him, cause him physical pain, it comes back on you. If you're angry at the time you punish him it won't get through right away. But once you calm down it will get you."
"So that's what the nightmare was? Rebound?" Jim asked.
"Did it hurt?" Jethro asked.
"My senses went crazy; I was nauseous, everything hurt," Jim said, "I never want to go through that again."
"So," Gibbs said with a wry smile, "the good news is there's nothing wrong with your bond. What's the bad news?"
"I haven't claimed him since the night I punished him," Jim admitted. "I was going to, but I have this nagging little voice that keeps telling me that it's wrong. I took Blair to a doctor, fat lot of help that bastard was. He said he didn't deal with bonding problems. He suggested that I take Blair back to Lake Island. I wanted to rip his throat out."
"I don't know why I came here, Jethro," Jim continued with a shake of his head. "I shouldn't be dumping this on you. I just don't know what to do. If there's nothing wrong with the bond then why do I feel like something is wrong, and why do I get this falling sensation every time I claim Blair?"
Gibbs took the bottle out of Jim's hand and set it aside. "You're the only person I would ever talk to about this stuff, and I'd be willing to put a fifty on the line that I'm the only one you can talk to." Then he took both his friends hands in his. "What do you feel?" Gibbs asked. "With my hands in yours what do you feel?"
"Power, friendship, trust," Jim answered, clearly confused at what point his friend was trying to make.
"Now take your guide's hands," Jethro said, "and tell me what you feel."
"He's mine!" Jim said with a fierce tone to his voice.
"Good," Jethro said. "Now close your eyes, breath deep, and relax, tell me what else is there, what else you feel."
Jim closed his eyes and concentrated on his bond with his guide, searching and probing, trying to find feelings and words for what it was that made up his bond with his guide. Blair submitted to his sentinel.
Jim suddenly let go of Blair's hands and gasped. "He just did it again." Jim said. "He just let me go. Our bond can't be good. He's resisting me."
"I don't think he is," Gibbs said, giving Blair one of his patented analytical looks. "I think he's submitting the only way he knows how."
"You're telling me there's more then one way to submit?" Jim asked.
"Apparently so," Gibbs said. "Think about it. He's been conditioned to submit. He's not allowed to have wants or needs. He's not allowed to take anything from the claiming, he's only allowed to submit, totally. Your instincts are right, there is something wrong."
"I don't understand," Jim said. "I wasn't trying to claim him just now. Besides guides need sentinels as much as sentinels need guides. If the bond is stable why would he let me fall?"
"You're listening to what I'm saying, but you're not hearing me," Gibbs said, not letting his frustration creep into his voice. "You may as well be raping him for all he gets out of it. He lets go of himself, not of you. It's rebound you're feeling. Everything you do to him comes back on you."
"But it can't be rebound," Jim said. "In the morning, in the shower, its...." Jim stopped suddenly.
"I get the picture," Gibbs said holding up his hand to stop his friend from trying to explain. "You touch him, he responds and takes pleasure in his response to you. So, why haven't you used that when you claim him?"
"You know why," Jim said. "Claiming is different, it's more then a reward for good behavior... it's more then just pleasuring each other. The guide has to submit."
"Jim," Gibbs said, seeing a way to get through to his clueless friend, you pleasure each other in the shower because you both want to. You need to have him submit, not because he's been conditioned to, but because he wants to and needs to. You need to make him feel like he is your other half, he exists to serve you and that serving you completes him. Then he won't have to let go of himself when you claim him or when you probe your bond. When that happens, when he knows he's part of you because he needs to be, when he submits by clinging to you, you won't feel him falling anymore, you'll feel the strength of your bond instead."
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