3rd in the Runaway Guide series





The Resistance


by
Joan Z and Neichan



Part Six

The Department of Guide Proliferation Washington Genetics ... Monday Morning

Guide 915 paused with her spoon half way to her mouth and looked at the door to the cafeteria. There was a sentinel on the hunt and he was coming this way. One by one the other guides in the room picked up on the energy. The room was hushed as a woman came to the door and looked around. She was slim and muscular, with an intimidating stance that made her seem taller than she was and a look that said she would brook no nonsense. 915 heard a soft gasp from three of the guides as the woman's gaze swept over them. This was the hunting sentinel. A woman. Now that was interesting.

Every guide in the room dropped their heads in submission, every guide that is, except 915. She was a double X, a guide that carried the guide gene on both X chromosomes, that made her a mind walker and few were willing to meet her gaze. Only the strongest Alphas and a few self confident guides dared to make eye contact for long. She opened her mind to the energy the woman was telegraphing, not pushing to get in, but reading whatever the woman had to offer. The sentinel didn't miss that trick.

The glaring eyes met 915's and the sentinel strode toward the table. "You are not afraid of me," the woman said, as she stood bending slightly over the table, invading the guide's space. Her voice was firm, with a pleasant accent, and while it held no question, her searching gaze did. She wanted to know why.

"Since when should a guide fear a sentinel?" the redheaded guide asked reasonably, without breaking eye contact.

The female sentinel threw her head back and laughed with contempt. "They do," she said. "They have already scampered away like frightened mice." She was right, the mind walker and the female sentinel were the only ones left in the cafeteria.

The guide waited in silence while the strange sentinel pulled out a chair and straddled it, leaning her forearms on the back.

"What is your name," the sentinel asked still searching for some weakness, some chink in the guide's metaphorical armor.

"915," the guide answered, simply.

"That is not a name, a number is not a name." The sentinel said, watching the guide carefully and searching for any discomfort, but there was none. She had never met anyone who felt like her. The redhead was strong and confident. This was a guide she could call friend, or even bond with.

"There is a sentinel that calls me Red," the guide said matter-of-factly, leaving it to the sentinel to figure out why. "And a guide that calls me Willow, but mostly I'm called 915. What's your name?"

"My designation is 4, I will choose my own name when I gain my freedom. As for you, I will call you Willow, it fits you. Willow trees are strong and resilient; they bend in the storm but do not break. Yes, Willow fits you well, Guide." The sentinel turned to look toward the door. "They are coming for me. They wish to force me into a permanent bond with a male guide, but none of them can stand the sight of me and I will not bond with a weakling, not even for an hour. I knocked out the guard and came to seek out a guide for myself, there are many in this place to choose from."

"Well, you are a bit intimidating," Willow said, letting the faintest of conspiratorial smiles show. "And most men aren't much good if they're intimidated."

"Only a bit intimidating?" 4 asked, tilting her head when she noticed the smile. Not many people smiled around her, and none as easily as Guide 915. "I was hoping that I was a great deal more than a bit. Why would a guide wish to bond with a weak sentinel?" She tilted her head. "You are making a joke about sex." Willow smiled at her. Oh yes, this was interesting.

Just then Willow heard a rifle shot and a tranquilizer dart hit the female sentinel in the back. Willow went back to eating her cereal as she watched the entertainment unfold around her. The female sentinel turned and charged the door and then another shot rang out. The second dart hit the sentinel in the chest and she hit the floor, she was mad about it, but a double dose of sedative was more even than she could fight off.

A very large guard, mundane not sentinel, walked over to the table. Willow ignored him and continued to eat her breakfast, while others busied themselves with picking up the sentinel and taking her out of the room. "What did she say to you," the guard demanded.

Willow chewed her mouthful of cereal and then she looked up into the man's eyes. The guard gasped and stepped back and Willow went back to eating.

"What's the matter Harry," another guard asked in a falsetto voice, "did the little girl scare you?" he laughed.

"I ain't scared of no little brat," Harry answered, he charged forward grabbing Willow's table and turned it over; spilling what was left of her breakfast across the floor. "I said, what did she say to you?" he demanded again as he grabbed Willow by the front of her blouse and pulled her out of her chair.

Willow had had enough; she put her hand up to the guard's cheek and turned his anger back on him. He screamed in pain as he let go of her and fell to the floor clutching his head. She smoothed the wrinkles from her shirt and watched him writhe.

"What the hell is going on in here?" a nurse asked as she came rushing into the room.

"That witch did something to Harry," the second guard said as he bent down to help his friend to his feet, he sure as shit wasn't laughing now. Willow avoided looking at him; if she did she would laugh at the idiot. As it was she could see from the faint gleam that the sentinel female was down, but not completely out. Unless Willow was mistaken the guard wasn't going to live all that much longer. Willow had been chosen by a sentinel who had no sense of humor about things like abusing a guide. Once Sentinel 4 was on her feet again, Harry and maybe his friend were in for a rough time.

The nurse glanced over at Willow and then looked back at the pair of men. "She's a mind walker, you ass, she can't do any harm to you unless you intend to harm her. Get out of here and consider yourself lucky there wasn't a sentinel around, he'd have killed you for going after a guide." Willow stood calmly, surprised that the nurse had no idea that the woman had been a sentinel. So she was a secret project, too. Another thing the two of them had in common, for Willow had become sure, in the days since her arrival at the facility, that the doctors plans for her went beyond mere "Guide Proliferation".

The nurse turned to Willow. "Are you all right?" she asked.

"I just want to go back to my room," Willow said. That was true enough, she wanted to see if she could meditate and contact Incacha in hopes the spirit guide could get a message to Gibbs. She was sure the General would want to know about the existence of a female sentinel being held prisoner at the facility.


~*~*~*~*~


Gibbs' Office

"Ellison's nesting pack will be here in a few minutes," Gibbs said to his group of people after hanging up his phone. "There's..."

"You invited them here," McGee interrupted, his voice tight. "Without telling us? Come on Abby, we're leaving now." McGee grabbed Abby's arm and started pulling her toward the door. She dug in her impressive heels and made it hard going. Gibbs' voice stopped them in their tracks.

"Stand down, Major McGee!" Gibbs ordered, stepping out from behind his desk. Tony sat up straight behind his own desk, swiveling his chair towards them.

McGee turned, glaring at Gibbs, "You can't order me to turn my guide over to another sentinel," he growled, still holding Abby's arm, facing down Gibbs.

This was a side of her sentinel that Abby rarely saw, standing up to Gibbs was hot and she felt her clit harden and her body moisten.

Ducky was surprised at the scent of Abby's arousal, every other guide he had known would want to soothe their sentinel in this kind of situation, not jump his bones.

"No one is going to force you to give up Abby," Gibbs said, with strained patience. "I'm not sure whether Ellison or Spikeman would be the first one to cut my throat if I tried to force a guide against his or her will. Now come back here, sit down and listen. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you decide against joining the bond, no one is going to force you." Gibbs shot Abby a stern look, her curiosity about the other sentinel was at the root of McGee's problem. She had the grace to blush, understanding immediately what Gibbs was implying. It wasn't the first time her fascination with something, or someone had gotten her or her teammates at NCIS in hot water. This time it was just of a more personal variety.

"Remember, Timmy," Abby whispered into McGee's ear as she rubbed herself against him. "You're mine and I'm yours, body, heart, and soul."

McGee's eyes were dilated and his nostrils flaring and his tongue flicked out tasting the air around his guide. The combination of a strange sentinel coming for Abby and her arousal was sending McGee into the beginning of a bonding thrall. Tony gaped, as Tim tilted Abby's neck back showing off her long throat and licking her guide gland. No one in the room had ever seen McGee act like that, hell Tony'd never seen any sentinel but his own act like that, it was damn private, he felt like he was watching porn. Starring McGeek. Christ. He felt an odd tingle start in his own groin despite his horror at the thought, and he casually clasped his hands in front of himself, crossed his legs and pretended nothing was amiss as he pictured Gibbs doing the exact same thing to him.

"Major!" Ducky snapped sternly, stopping the bonding thrall before it advanced beyond the point of no return. The older sentinel's cheeks were pink, his blue eyes crackling behind the lenses of his glasses. Abby was like a daughter to him and he felt a bit uncomfortable with the affectionate, bordering on outright lusty, public display. "Perhaps we should listen to what the General has to say and then you can take your guide to a more private locale."

McGee blinked, but his breathing remained heavy as he gave himself a mental shake and turned to Gibbs, "I'll listen," he said and then stood quietly glaring at Gibbs with his arm firmly around Abby's waist, holding her so she was partially shielded by his larger body. Abby cooed gently to him, still snuggled up to his side, chin resting on his shoulder where she could just reach the small, sexy spot behind his ear.

"You need to know about Ellison's pack, before they get here," Gibbs said as he returned to his seat and ignored Abby's toying with McGee's ear. "Be prepared for the unexpected. They are truly cross-bonded. Blair and Xander will act like a guide to either sentinel, they move from one to the other without a hitch. Xander is extremely possessive of Spike and he reacts like a sentinel would if someone tries to 'steal' his guide. He is a guide, but he is dangerous. Sentinel dangerous. That is the most important thing to realize. Xander's not completely healed from the kidnapping and he has trouble controlling his anger. Get on his bad side, and it could take hours to calm him down." Gibbs was not smiling. He wanted the major to know he was not joking.

McGee gave a soft grunt at the irony of the statement, from his point of view they were coming to take his guide, he had no intention of trying to take one of their sentinels; his displeasure at hearing anything on the subject of the coming pack of sentinels and guides was very plain.

Gibbs ignored McGee's expression and continued. "It's very important, Ducky, McGee, that you not touch Spike, beyond an initial hand shake, no matter how great the pull to him is." He looked at both his men.

"Jethro," Ducky said, somewhat primly, his mouth pursed. "I doubt that we need that warning. Timothy already feels a certain antipathy towards the man in question, and I've never felt a pull of any kind whatsoever toward a sentinel. In fact in my youth..."

"I said the same thing, Ducky," Gibbs interrupted, taking a moment to lay a comforting hand on Ducky's shoulder. "So did Miller. Well guess what? We were both wrong. I can't stress it strongly enough, if Xander warns you away from Spike, move away. Immediately. Remember I'm part of their hive, and by association, so are you, or they wouldn't have traveled across the country to help us. I need your word that you'll treat them with the respect they deserve."

"You have my word, Jethro," Ducky said, lifting his chin with his usual, impeccable dignity. "Frankly, I'm surprised you felt the need to ask for it. We are united in a common cause." He seemed to think for a moment then, "Miller? You mean Sentinel Prime Graham Miller? That overly stiff fellow I met with you in DC a few years ago?"

"Yes, that Miller," Gibbs said. "Xander tried to attack him when Graham ignored his warnings and touched Spike. As far as asking for your word, no offence, Ducky, but you're a very traditional sentinel, and they're not traditional in any way, and I know you don't approve of cross-bonding."

Ducky seemed to be digesting the new information about Graham Miller, a man he'd found to be too formal and controlled for his taste. "We are living in extraordinary times, Jethro," Ducky said with a sigh of resignation. "Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures, I accept and respect that you did what was needed, but I find I am having trouble seeing Sentinel Miller as not able to control his response to anyone. Especially an attraction to another sentinel." Only good manners kept the older man from shuddering visibly.

"You'll understand once you meet them, Ducky." Gibbs turned his attention to the Major, "McGee?" he asked.

"Respect is a two way street, Boss," McGee said. "As long as they respect me and mine, I'll respect them." The expression on his baby face was fierce.


~*~*~*~*~


"Enter," Gibbs said, when he heard a knock on the office door a second later.

Aaron, the limo driver, opened the door. "General," he announced, stepping inside the team's office. "Sentinel detectives Ellison and Spikeman from Cascade are here with their guides."

"Send them in and then take their luggage to my home. After that you're dismissed," Gibbs said, as he got up from his chair and walked out from behind his desk to greet them. He was looking forward to seeing them, he realized, though he knew they were going to cause trouble in his own squad simply by being here and being what they were. Ultimately, they were what was needed to win this war, sentinels not afraid to bond to protect that which was most vital and precious to them, the relationship of guide and sentinel.

Aaron opened the door wide and gestured for the group to enter as he slipped past them back onto the landing. He was just as glad to be going. He had met a lot of sentinels in his job but this group made him uneasy. The blond made his hair stand on end every time he got a little too close. As a group they acted like they were in a war zone, not the nation's capital, and he could swear that the blonde's eyes glinted yellow while they were claiming their luggage at the airport.

Jim was the first one to enter the office. He quickly scanned the room, nostrils flaring to pick up the scent of the others in attendance. He shook his shoulders, as if casting off a layer of dust and suddenly relaxed, almost smiling when he met Gibbs' gaze.

"Jim," Gibbs said, as he strode forward, offering his hand. "Come in. My word that it's safe."

Ducky watched as the group entered, he could tell a lot about a sentinel and his people by the demeanor and the order that they entered a strange room. He had Jim pegged right away; by his stance, the intent look on his face, and the way he quickly evaluated the room, he had a military background and was the pack's undisputed leader. This was a 'Gibbs caliber sentinel'; his smile was almost feline in character. Like a cat got into cream, Ducky thought. If he were a younger man he would offer to claim him as a brother as well, though he'd never felt the urge to do so before. Interesting in the extreme.

The young man with curly hair who stopped in the doorway waiting for permission from his sentinel to enter, was beautiful, his deep blue eyes bright with interest as he also looked around. His smile was sunny when he spotted Gibbs, and he waggled his fingers in greeting. Definitely a guide, no sentinel would wear hair that long, far too easy for an enemy to grab and use against you in a fight. No, the young bouncy man was definitely a guide. The shaggy haired guide's face suddenly lit up with a smile that was several octaves more brilliant than the one he'd shared with Gibbs. "Tony," he exclaimed as he rushed forward, past his exasperated sentinel to embrace DiNozzo in an enthusiastic hug. He leapt up and Tony caught him in midair. They laughed together, and then Tony put on his serious face and set the other guide back on the floor.

"Hey, Blair," Tony said as he hugged him more sedately, he was genuinely happy to see the other man, and even more pleased that Blair was pleased to see him. "Good to see you again." His eyes twinkled green.

"Oh, man," Blair answered, the smile now replaced by a serious look. "I wish it could have been under better circumstances." He glanced around the office again seeing that there were a number of people he didn't know. He disentangled himself and stepped gracefully back to his sentinel's side.

Ducky watched as the last two men entered. The first a beautiful dark haired guide with broad shoulders and nostrils flaring like a sentinel, his eyes so dark as to be nearly black in this light, his signature guide aura eclipsed by the distinctly sentinel actions. And bringing up the rear, trusted to protect everyone's back was a smaller blond sentinel who moved like a stalking cat, catching his guide's arm he stepped sideways out of the danger spot of the open door, he slid his guide behind him, putting himself between the strangers and his guide. It was a move executed with such grace and beauty that Ducky could not pull his gaze away, nor could he be insulted that the sentinel didn't take Gibbs' word on the safety of the room.

Gibbs closed the door to his office and began introductions. "Sentinel Detective Jim Ellison, and Sentinel Detective William Spikeman, I'd like you to meet my second in command, Sentinel Major Timothy McGee and his guide Abby."

"Sentinels," McGee said with a nod of his head to each, still holding his guide tightly around the waist.

"Hi, nice to meet you," Abby said with a grin and a wave, pivoting her face on her chin resting on McGee's shoulder, letting her exhaled breath tickle his ear, pigtails bobbing on either side of her head.

"Major," Jim and Spike answered together, ignoring the playful guide, as was proper sentinel etiquette. It was clear to both that McGee was not happy about their arrival.

"And this is our M.E., Sentinel Dr. Donald Mallard."

"You can call me Ducky, everyone does," the doctor said as he managed to pull his gaze away from the blond sentinel and walk over to shake Jim's hand. A strong hand, moderately calloused, with long, powerful fingers, and sensitive fingertips. Ducky felt the thickened skin on the forefinger that meant the man had more than a passing familiarity with firing a gun.

"Ducky," Jim said with a nod of respect for the older man.

The doctor then offered his hand to Spike. "Sentinel Spikeman," he said with a welcoming smile.

"Please call me Spike," he said as he took the doctor's hand.

A pleasant warm energy climbed Ducky's arm as he shook Spike's hand. Spike tried to pull away, but without thinking Ducky clasped the blond sentinel's hand with both of his as he locked eyes with Spike's. He felt the rush of energy fill his body as, for the first time in his life, he was drawn to another sentinel.

Xander gave a low, warning growl. Reflexively, Ducky's grip tightened further at the challenge, he didn't want to let go, this energy felt good and he wanted to keep it for himself. He turned his head to look at the guide who was defintely displaying non-guide behavior.

Gibbs came across the room in a flash, forcing his body between the two sentinels and grabbed his friend's wrist. "Ducky!" Gibbs ordered. "You have to let go of Spike's hand now."

Ducky dropped Spike's hand. "Oh, dear, I... I don't know what came over me," he stammered, taking a hasty step backwards, truly flustered. "Gibbs warned us...about... but I didn't believe it was possible." Tony moved then, coming up to stand at Ducky's elbow and let Gibbs' best friend take what support he would. Ducky gratefully stood within the soothing aura and let Tony's calm flow over him. Gradually he felt less and less like sinking through the floor.

Spike's arm pulled Xander in next to him and he nuzzled his guide's neck before turning to back to Ducky. "No harm done, Doctor."

McGee watched as the vignette played out, he tried to sort through the jumble of illogical scent markings and what they had to mean. It was obvious now why a sentinel like Ellison or Gibbs would bond with Spike. Hell, he'd bond with him himself, even though a few minutes ago all he wanted was for Spike to be as far away from Abby as possible. His nostrils flared once again as he took in the groups' scent marking. Ellison, as pack leader had the skin scent of all three of his pack mates on him. Blair and Xander wore the claiming scent of both sentinels. But it was Spike that had the most interesting mix, the guy had been scent marked by both his pack leader and his guide. The mark from his pack leader was on Spike's skin, no intercourse required, but the other mark, the one from his guide...Spike had bottomed for his guide, McGee was sure of it. And it hadn't been very long ago, either. He was surprised, Spike was an Alpha, yet he took the role of second to Ellison and he bottomed for his guide. "He's like me," McGee said softly to Abby, but not softly enough for a sentinel's ears to miss. The whole room turned toward him.

"Umm...Compatible energy," McGee said, frantic for an explanation. "Tony told us you could only bond with compatible energy."

Spike eyes turned yellow as he moved toward McGee, his progress, sensual, seemed deceptively slow, but it was rapid and he was very quickly only inches away. Tim McGee felt himself begin to harden, his eyes drawn to the promising sway of the other male's hips. He licked his lips nervously.

"Is that what you told him, luv?" Spike asked in a perfect English accent, addressing himself to Tony but keeping his eyes locked on McGee.

"It seemed... prudent at the time," Tony answered in an unhappy mumble. "I didn't want to...get into too many details." He reddened. Spike chuckled.

Another time and Tim might have laughed at Tony's embarrassment. But he didn't feel like it now. "Did he lie?" McGee asked, switching his attention to Tony, grasping at anything that could to take his mind away from the growing arousal tenting his pants and Spike.

Spike stopped inches from McGee. He sniffed at him openly, clearly enjoying being provocative. "What I said was I can only bond with someone I can love." The honesty was shocking. Men as a rule didn't openly talk about love in the company of virtual strangers. "You are right; we are alike, you and I, we walk in worlds others can't imagine. I could take you for my own. Do you want me?"

Abby watched as Spike's energy stroked and danced with McGee's. Then she heard Spike's question and she suddenly understood what it meant. She was around McGee in a flash, towering over the blond man. "No! He's mine!" she said, trying to shove Spike back "you can't have him!"

Spike's gaze shifted to the tall dark-haired guide, as if seeing her clearly for the first time, "Druuuu cill aaaa," he drawled, his face taking on an odd look.

Xander had had enough; he stomped forward and turned Spike forcing the sentinel to face him. "That's not Drucilla," he said, his anger like daggers. "You are not going to get involved with her. You're bonded to me, I'm your soul mate."

Spike's gentle hand firmly muffled his guide's outraged speech. "Hush, Luv," he said stroking Xander's face and meeting his anger with love. "That's not the Drucilla we knew. She is his," Spike said, indicating McGee, "a different name...different soul, but she is what Drucilla was meant to be before Angelus drove her insane. They need each other; I won't take that away from either of them. Promise, luv."

"What's going on?" Ducky asked, breaking the spell that had held the room immobile. His gaze was fixed on the blond sentinel and the dark haired guide, who were all but wrapped up in themselves, the larger guide bending the smaller sentinel back over his arm and biting his throat in the most blatant display of possession Ducky had ever seen, and the sentinel was not only allowing it he was co-operating, offering his neck to his guide. Ducky's eyes clearly asked the question if they were entirely sane.

"Blair took a nap on the plane," Jim said, ignoring his pack mate's behavior as if it were perfectly usual.

Ducky looked at him, his expression now including Jim in his question. Gibbs had told them to expect the unexpected but surely he couldn't have meant anything like this.

Gibbs looked at Jim with one of his 'is there a point', looks, both brows raised, but his stance was relaxed, whatever else was happening in the room held no concern for him.

"He got a message from Incacha," Jim continued in the way of offering an explanation. "That's what this is about. We need to talk."

"Who's Incacha?" Ducky, McGee and Abby asked at the same time.

Thankfully diverted, Tony had his hands folded in front of himself again, this time holding a file as a secondary shield.

Gibbs sighed. He wouldn't get any rest tonight, between Incacha's message and seeing that Tony's need were met; it was going to be a long night indeed.





Part Seven

Gibbs looked around his office, "I want all of you to report to my home today at 1400 hundred hours. No exceptions."

The protest came from an unexpected source. The speaker stood with hands on slim hips, her lower lip jutting out rebelliously. "No," Abby said. "I'm not letting my sentinel anywhere near them." Her expression was uncharacteristically mulish.

"That wasn't a suggestion, Abby. It was an order." Gibbs said, letting his anger at her defiance show. "You and your sentinel will be there."

"We'll be there, Boss," McGee said, recognizing a potential disaster in the making. He took Abby's arm and tried to send her what support and understanding he could. She was stiff, angry still, and the look in her eyes didn't bode well. He knew he had to get her alone as soon as possible and reassure her in the only way that always worked.

Dr. Mallard's brilliant mind churned with an analysis of the events since being introduced to the Cascade pack. He was worried, very worried. He had no problem with Sentinel Ellison or his guide; both fell into normal modern sentinel/guide parameters, Blair might seem a little more assertive than most and Ellison more liberal, but all in all, Ducky saw them as a normal Sentinel/Guide pair. He understood the difficulties the young guide Xander was going through and his behavior, while odd, was understandable under the circumstances. It was Spike he had the problem with. He appeared to be an Alpha and yet he had let his guide scent mark him, what was more, he was actually openly wearing the scent into a group of mixed sentinels and guides knowing that the sentinels would know exactly how he'd come to be marked as he was. It was unheard of. And then the thing with McGee, offering to make the Major his own, whatever that meant; followed by allowing his guide to perform a claiming bite in front of everyone. None of it made sense... unless..."Jethro," Ducky inquired quietly, "may I speak with you alone for a moment?"

"Anything you have to say to me, Duck," Gibbs answered, "you can say in front of my pack mates and their guides."

"Jethro, please," Ducky said. "I promise it will only take a moment."

"He wants to tell you that Spike is a multiple personality," Blair said, looking quite a bit calmer about it than Ducky, who considered himself rather unflappable, felt. "That's it isn't it Doctor?"

Ducky glanced at Jim, he wasn't accustomed to addressing a guide directly about important matters, not even guides he had known for years, and he had met this one less then half an hour ago. So, it was a natural thing for him to look to the guide's sentinel for permission to talk to any guide, except of course Abby and Tony. They were colleagues and it was necessary to talk with them about work related topics, small talk, and at times when they drove him mad with their un-guidelike behavior, but even then he would never discuss sentinel matters with them.

Jim understood what that look meant. "You have my permission to speak directly to Blair, Doctor," Jim said with an amused smile. "Blair holds a Doctorate in Sentinel and Guide Studies from Rainier University. He's lectured upwards of a thousand Sentinels at one time in seminars. He is also a graduate from the Cascade Police Academy and he's a highly intelligent and intuitive Alpha Guide and a healer. If it's all the same to you, I prefer not to deal with his rage if I were to try to...disallow... conversations with other sentinels." His smile showed he really wasn't afraid of his guide, but also that he was completely serious about Blair speaking for himself.

Ducky turned to Gibbs, "I have no desire to break my promise, Jethro, but I cannot stand by silently and let vital information..."

"Vital information," Ducky," Gibbs interrupted, "or simply your opinion?"

"It is my medical opinion, based on years of medical experience, that Sentinel Spikeman's behavior does not fit entirely within the range of normal."

"Define normal, Doctor?" Blair asked. "Normal is too often a nonspecific term open to cultural and societal interpretation, rather than a solid medical diagnosis."

Ducky stared at him, considering what he said. It was a mouthful. And, unfortunately for Ducky's pride, it made some degree of sense. Damn. Was he being rigid? Prejudiced? He hated to think of himself that way. He thought of himself as old fashioned perhaps, certainly gallant. Was he really more intolerant than enlightened?

"If we told you what Spike truly is you wouldn't believe us," Blair continued. "I didn't believe it. Spike can call on a past life personality for lack of a better explanation, that personality gives him abilities that traditional Sentinels do not have. I assure you doctor that Spike is entirely reliable and sane. He won't put any of us at risk."

"So you're admitting that Spike is a multiple personality?" Ducky asked pouncing on the admission, but not able to completely dismiss the other train of thought.

"I'm admitting no such thing," Blair insisted. "Spike just has a dial other sentinels don't have, a past life dial, he is able to access abilities from that past life. It's no different than a traditional sentinel turning up his scent dial."

Ducky took a deep breath. "Your explanation doesn't take into account the possibility..."

"Stop it, all of you, right now!" Xander interrupted. "We're not here for this. I'm tired of going through all this crap every time we meet new Sentinels. Spike is a different kind of Sentinel. He saved my life, no one else could have done it." Xander turned to look pointedly at McGee. "All of you should be damn glad that we came to pull your asses out of whatever fire you've found them in. As for you, Doctor," he continued, as the Cascade group closed ranks around him, "if labeling Spike a multiple personality helps you keep your hands off my Sentinel, then fine, just keep your damn label to yourself along with your hands. Spike gets the job done. That's all any of us needs to know."

Gibbs and Tony moved to align themselves with Jim's pack. "Is there anything else, Ducky?" Gibbs asked. "I trust them, and they are what we need to win this war."

"No," Ducky answered, with a sigh of resignation and a nod of respect toward the group. "I stand corrected."


~*~*~*~*~


Gibbs' car on the way to his home

"Blair," Gibbs said, "I need to know what Incacha told you, I have to be prepared for when you tell my people. Is Red alright?"

"She's in no immediate danger," Blair said. "But she had quite a bit of information to pass on."

Gibbs breathed a sigh of relief. He loved Red, not the same way he loved Tony, but he did love her, he hoped that someday she would consent to being a surrogate mother for him and Tony, or that a sentinel would claim her and she'd have a better life then being owned by the state. Mindwalkers were almost never claimed by sentinels; nearly all Sentinels were afraid of the depth a bond would go to with a double X. Everyone had parts of themselves they wanted to keep secret. And then there was the fear no one talked of, that somehow a Mindwalker would gain control over her sentinel and the sentinel would become her thrall, trapped for a lifetime of servitude to a guide. That scenario never took into account that Guides were empathic and it was extremely difficult for an empathic personality to be cruel, they feel the impact and the consequences of what they do to others. "I'm glad she's okay for the time being, but you said no immediate danger; does that mean she senses something is coming?"

"She is sure that Washington Genetics has a Eugenics program and she is a part of it," Blair continued. "They've put her on fertility drugs and will harvest her eggs as soon as she ovulates, then they plan to do invitro fertilization on her. She has no idea at this point who will be providing the sperm for fertilization."

Gibbs whistled with a sharp intake of breath through clenched teeth. "I should have guessed when McGee told me all the Mindwalkers were ordered to report to Guide Proliferation. We had to bring a Mindwalker out of retirement and another down from Canada to interrogate the Guide traffickers we caught."

"They're not going to hurt her," Blair said, knowing it was small consolation, but he still felt he had to say it out loud anyway. "They need her to be in good health to have a healthy pregnancy."

Tony stroked Gibbs' thigh, making no production of it, keeping it discreet, "None of this is your fault, Boss," he said trying to give comfort. "We didn't know what they were capable of. You can claim her, under the new laws. We can say we want her for our surrogate and form a family group. We can get her out of there." He had battled the idea of sharing Gibbs for a long time. A lot longer than Gibbs knew. He was aware of Gibbs' desire for children, of the child he had lost. How could he not be? Every time they encountered a child in trouble he saw the kind of father his sentinel would be. Gibbs deserved a family, and Tony would sacrifice his own jealousy to give him one.

"They won't give her to us before they take her eggs, Tony," Gibbs said, "and maybe not even then." Tony nodded, he knew that was true. But one harvesting wouldn't take all of Red's eggs. There would be the possibility of children in her future. But it was the fate of the children that came from those eggs that Tony knew Gibbs was worried about. What would the bastards do to them once they were born, or even before?

"There's more," Blair said, "The lab is holding a female sentinel, designation number 4, they are keeping her secret but she escaped and came looking for a guide to bond with. Willow said her energy is like a tigress, constantly on the hunt and ready to kill, and she has a mildly noticeable foreign accent, though she is very fluent in English. She escaped to try to find a guide but her energy is incompatible with most of them. Her guards are mundanes, not sentinels, and they took her down with two shots of a dart gun, but she still wasn't completely out. The nurse who came into the room didn't know that #4 was a sentinel. The sentinel told Willow that "they" are trying to force her into a permanent bond with a male guide, but none of the guides can stand the sight of her and she had refused to bond with them, even temporarily, because she considers them to be weak."

"I need a drink," Gibbs said as he pulled into his driveway. He rubbed his forehead. A female sentinel. He felt a spurt of intense foreboding. He almost turned towards Tony. Almost reached out. A female sentinel. Why wouldn't a female sentinel be more desirable to a male guide than a male sentinel? Gibbs hated the thought of Tony with a woman. He'd endured it from time to time, usually when Tony was undercover during the early years of their partnership. He remembered and was not fond of those days. He didn't want his guide anywhere near a female sentinel. His jaw spasmed, and he was sure everyone in the car could hear his teeth grinding.


~*~*~*~*~


Gibbs' Home - Monday Evening

"Well all of that is very interesting," Ducky said while contemplating the warm glow of the inch of amber liquid in his glass. "A female sentinel who is feral and has an energy that Guides find repulsive, she won't be very useful to WG if it's true." Ducky continued as he looked around at the group. "It's just the opposite of what we thought was instinctual behavior in a guide, to calm a sentinel, to comfort and bond with an unbonded one. We can infer that she has difficulty bonding, since she mentioned both a temporary bond and the attempt to force her into a permanent bond with a male Guide who was not remotely interested, in fact was repelled. But the fact that she was surprised to find Red was not afraid of her tells us that the fear guides have of her is not a gender issue. We can assume that it is Red's Mindwalker abilities that allow her to remain at ease in 4's company. Perhaps their strength compliments each others?"

"Willow said that #4 relaxed a bit while talking with her, also," Blair told the group, "and Willow got the impression that the sentinel was analyzing the consequences of a bond with her. She said she could feel the sentinel probing her, looking for weaknesses, perhaps looking for the expected revulsion she'd encountered with all the other Guides she mentioned. The mind probe was light, compared to what a Mindwalker can do but it could account for, at least in part, the reaction others have toward her."

"Do you realize what you're saying?" McGee asked. "This sentinel is wild, she has at least mild Mindwalker abilities and she intends to escape. I know Red; she's not given to exaggerations. If she says that #4 is a tigress ready to kill, then everyone in the facility is at risk. Including Red. Shouldn't we be thinking of a way to get her out?"

"If the female Sentinel escapes she'll take her guide with her," Jim said. "Willow will keep her stable." His tone said it was a done deal, that in his mind Red was already as good as bonded with the female.

"Oh, really," McGee asked." Do you have any evidence to base that opinion on, or is it just wishful thinking?

"Hey!" Xander said trying to stand up and defend his sentinel, but Spike was too fast for him, catching his arm and pulling him back down into the space in the overstuffed chair they were sharing, Xander never made it to his feet.

"She may kill Willow if she doesn't acquiesce to her demands to bond," McGee continued, ignoring Xander's growl and noting just how deceptively strong the slender blond sentinel was. "Providing that is what's going to happen. I haven't been totally convinced. She sounds...unstable."

"It's okay, Xanman," Jim said, holding up his hand to quiet his aggressive, and growling, guide. Then he turned back to McGee. "Whatever else she is, she is a sentinel in need of a guide and she knows it. She will not risk harming the only Guide who has seemed remotely possible to fill that role. She stopped running, risking recapture, to talk with Willow. The only ones in danger are the ones that come between a sentinel and his...uh her... intended guide." The expression on Jim's face made it pretty clear he was also having reservations on welcoming the advent of female sentinels into the world. Gibbs understood his view completely.

"What about Willow?" Tony asked, using the name the Cascade group had given her. "What if she doesn't want to bond with this number four?"

"She won't refuse the bond," Gibbs said. He felt a twinge of regret. There went all possibility of a family. He put it roughly out of his mind. This was not about him.

"How can you know that?" Tony asked, "She refused you when you offered, and you're a hell of a lot more desirable then that #4 chick." Gibbs felt a wave of grateful warmth flow over him.

"That '#4 chick' needs her," Gibbs said, smiling inwardly at Tony's constant assumption that everyone found him irresistible. His tone was firm. "I don't need her, I have you, and besides, Red won't be able to resist the adventure of being bound to her. We need to get word to her that if they escape we'll supply a safe house for them."

"I can do that," Blair said. "She'll have the message by tomorrow morning."

"So, where does that leave me?" Abby asked, anxious to get an answer to the question that had her on edge. "Since the powers that be have already created a female sentinel does that mean I'm off the hot seat?"

"Not from my point of view," Xander said, and the whole group turned to look at him.

"Why would Abby still be in danger?" McGee asked. "They have a female sentinel so there's no point in trying again with Abby and she's infertile, they can't breed more like her. What could they possibly want with her?"

"I don't know," Xander said. "But with me it wasn't just triggering me as a sentinel. They wanted to know if there was a genetic component to my hazard detection. Does Abby have any unusual abilities, anything that you find valuable?"

"None," McGee said, "Abby is just Abby, unique and highly intelligent. But there are a lot of intelligent guides in the world."

"That's not true," Tony said with a look of fear on his face. "She can see emotions and energy auras. She knew something had changed with Gibbs and me when we got back from Cascade, the moment she touched us she knew."

"So?" McGee asked, defiantly, gripping his Guide tightly as if shielding her. "She has some quirky ability. I don't see how it could be valuable to anybody?"

Xander looked at Abby, "How accurate are you?" he asked.

Abby could see the worry mixed with fear that was pouring off of the Cascade group. "I've never been wrong," Abby said quietly. "Some people... I can't see anything. I call them blanks, they're always bad people and I've learned to stay far away from them."

"So," Xander pointed out, "We have a guide who is one hundred percent accurate with an ability to tell if a person is dangerous or not and you don't think that's valuable? I'm eighty-five percent accurate with hazard detection and they want me."

"Who knows about this?" Jim asked.

"Everyone at NCSIA," Gibbs said with an annoyed sigh. "That explains the rest of Incacha's message."

"There's more?" Ducky asked.

"There is," Gibbs said, "But I don't think you're going to like it."





Part Eight

"I think we need to take a closer look at this, let's not rush things." Ducky said, shifting in his seat. "I'm a firm believer of look before you leap, we need to take a good hard look at all the facts. Our enemies are even more formidable than usual, and it would take careful planning indeed if we're not to be defeated, or worse, killed. I'd like to know who exactly is this Incacha chap and why should we trust him enough to take his advice?"

"Incacha is a sentinel Spirit guide," Gibbs said, holding back his wince. He remembered his own skepticism, when he first heard of spirit guides; it was only his absolute trust in Red that let him except that the spirit guide not only existed but was in the hospital nesting room with them when Tony was injured. He was more than expecting Ducky's incredulous stare as the older man's eyebrows shot up towards his hairline. "Both Red and Blair trust him." Gibbs offered further.

Ducky's expression didn't alter by much; Guides were often involved in such hocus-pocus, touchy-feely-mumbo-jumbo. He was a scientist and believed in cold hard facts, but before Ducky could voice his considerable reservations, there was an interruption.

"My sentinel is not going to bond with Spike!" Abby shouted, gripping her Sentinel's arm, this time tugging him and shifting on the couch so he was partly behind her, she squared off against the others in the room. "He's mine, and he's going to stay mine, just mine." She all but climbed into McGee's lap. "Spike promised his guide he wouldn't take us away from each other." She narrowed her eyes at the group watching her antics. She heard Tim sigh, but he knew better than to try and pull away, or shift her off of his legs. That would just start a real brouhaha. He knew better, yes, he did, he stayed right where he was.

"I want to ask Tim to become my Childe," Spike said, evenly, watching Abby with more interest than he'd previously showed. Possessive and aggressive guides were..hot, and he had a definite weakness for them, and so apparently did McGee, just one more way they were alike. He reminded himself that this was business, and that no matter how hot the girl was, his Xander was hotter. "It's different than a traditional bond. I'll be able to transfer my tracking and healing abilities to McGee; if he accepts he'll be able to do what I do. You'll still be Sentinel and Guide, there won't be any interference with your bond." He held up three fingers, "Scout's honor."

Abby growled a warning, showing teeth, she was clearly not convinced.

"Is that what you meant when you said you could make me your own?" McGee asked, perhaps unwisely considering how unhappy his Guide was at the moment. But he was curious. The blond opened his mouth to reply and once again Abby interrupted the answer.

"You're not doing it," Abby said, through clenched teeth, winding her arms around her sentinel's neck and holding tight. He coughed and shifted just enough to breathe again. Abby growled, "Spike's not going to lay My Sentinel on his back."

Tim flushed; he could do without that visual. He glanced around the room, seeing the look on Tony's face in particular, and it seemed DiNozzo could also do without it, too. Gibbs of course looked unaffected, Ducky was purple with embarrassment, but the Cascade contingent looked...determined to wait it out. Interesting. Again. Tim turned back to Spike.

"It isn't the traditional bond between sentinels," Xander explained, answering instead of the Sentinel at his side. McGee could see Ducky flinch. "It's intimate but not sexual in the realest sense, not the way you mean it."

Tim looked confused, but worse, Tony, the unflappable, was turning as red as the far more prim Ducky. Gibbs at least was still in control of his features. Tony blushing though, that was bad. Especially since Tony had 'been there, done that'. Not true sex? Riiiiight.

Tony couldn't keep quiet any longer. "I can't believe you're actually thinking of making McGeek your childe! So maybe Gibbs beating you wasn't sex but as for the rest of it, if you think that wasn't sex..." Gibbs stepped up and put a firm hand over his spluttering Guide's mouth.

"It's what I did with Peter Wall," Spike said, ignoring the little gem of information about the beating he took when he and Gibbs bonded. "It's a different bond than I have with you and Gibbs."

Tim didn't believe that it was possible, but now...Gibbs was red. Tim stared, his mouth falling open and his mind racing, trying to sort out exactly what had happened in Cascade. There had been sex involved when Spike bonded with Gibbs and Tony. Had there been a fight to decide who put who on who's back? If Gibbs won why was he so embarrassed? If Spike won then why did Tony say Gibbs beat him? Unless...Spike let Gibbs win and Gibbs knew it, his eyes shifted back to Spike. Could the smaller sentinel really take Gibbs in a full out fight? Things just kept getting curiouser and curiouser.

"And that is enough detail." Gibbs barked, stopping the line of conversation in its tracks. Tony sat statue still, Gibbs hand not moving an inch from his mouth. Everyone stared at everyone else. Not even the voluble Abby dared to open her mouth.

Spike waited a few moments, giving the room a chance to quiet down, before continuing as if there wasn't any uncomfortably large purple elephant in the room, which everyone was ignoring, but certainly thinking about. "Tim has to want to become my childe, he has to want to take on the new energy along with the abilities and responsibilities that come with it. Just accepting it isn't enough. If he doesn't truly want it, it won't work."

"But why McGee," Ducky asked the question Tony's eyes had been shooting at Spike. "It seems that it would have been more efficient if you had done this with Gibbs in Cascade. It certainly would have saved you this trip, and with your tracking abilities Gibbs and Tony would have had no need to cross bond. Why didn't you share your abilities with the General then and why not now?"

"It's not just tracking and healing ability," Spike said. "Gibbs is happy with who and what he is. He strives to be the best he can be and ever better his best, but he doesn't want to be like me. McGee is a good man and he is happy about that, but he wants more, he wants to grow, he has room to change and is open to this. That's what makes he and I alike; if he wants to he can absorb my energy. Gibbs isn't compatible in that way, McGee is. I don't know how to say it any plainer. I needed to bind with Gibbs in one way...and with McGee in another."

"I find it difficult to imagine exactly what you mean," Ducky said. "But I will take it on faith that you are speaking the truth. Gibbs certainly trusts you. That carries significant weight in my book. However, I hope sincerely you are not preparing to suggest that I join with you in any way, because, while flattering, I'd absolutely have to decline," the ME finished firmly, his chin raised in emphasis.

Spike gave a chuckle. "I was a mama's boy who wrote bad poetry," he said. "I understand the Major. You and I, we can work together, but...I'm afraid a bond between us would fail. I can sense you're a stubborn man when you make up your mind, and steady in your conviction."

McGee had had enough of avoiding the important issue. He interrupted what was obviously going to be a long dance of give and take between the two other sentinels. "So how do I go about absorbing your energy?" McGee asked Spike pointedly, "I'd like to know what I'm being asked to get into." Not that he'd think of saying no.

"No," Abby said, pulling on her sentinel's arm. "I can see your energy, you're not like him, Timmy. I don't want him, I want you. I love you just the way you are. I thought we settled this last night. You don't have to change for me. I'm sorry I said his energy is yummy. Please, I don't want to lose you." She snuggled closer, her super mini skirt riding up her long, pale thighs.

"You're not going to lose him, Abby," Xander said. "Look at us. Do you see any weakness in my bond with Spike?" Pointing out the obvious. If any bonding outside of the main could weaken the primary bond...then they should have been ripped asunder. Abby narrowed her eyes and watched the energy dancing and swirling around Spike and his guide. Xander was right, there was no weakness in their bond. Even the lines that traveled to the other sentinels and guides in the room did not deplete the bond the Sentinel and Guide shared. Then she looked at Gibbs and Tony, she had seen their bond many times over the years since she'd known them, there was no hint of a crack in their bond either, in fact it looked deeper somehow. She bit her bottom lip, analyzing what she was seeing.

"I understand your fears," Xander said. "I had a difficult time the first time Spike made a childe. I was afraid that Peter would be more important to Spike then I am."

"That will never happen, Love," Spike whispered nuzzling Xander's neck.

"Look, all of you," Xander said as he cuddled in even closer against Spike. "In an ideal world we wouldn't have to do any of this. But we don't live in an ideal world. There are people that have taken our reproductive rights away from us, and they will try to take more if we let that stand. They want to mutilate and enslave our children. I know first hand what they're capable of and if I'm not mistaken you know too, Abby. Did they try to make you a sentinel?"

"You told him?" Abby said, glaring at Gibbs, indignant.

"No one told me anything about you," Xander said. "Guides don't growl, but you can. Can you purr too? What else did they do to you that you have to live with? We have to use whatever means are at our disposal to win this war, Abby, for ourselves and for our children. If that means sharing Spike I'll share him. He gives me a lot more than I give him."

"Not true, Love," Spike said. "Without you I'd be nothing. You're my everything."

"And Abby is my everything," McGee said. "I know on the surface Spike and I appear to be very different, but I think on a deeper level, a more personal level, we are alike." McGee turned to Abby. "I want this Abby, not because you said Spike's energy was yummy but for all the reasons that Xander just mentioned and because I feel it's the right thing. I feel a pull toward Spike, this is right for me. I know it sounds corny but I think this is my destiny. We can't afford to be selfish, not with what we're facing."

Abby threw her arms around her sentinel and held on tight burrowing her face into the juncture of his shoulder and neck before lifting her head to look at Spike with a semi-glare of warning. "Okay, Mister, you can make him your childe, but you better not be lying to me, because if you are you'll have me to answer to and I'm no pushover."

McGee held Abby's face in his hands and leaned in until they were touching foreheads. "More than life, Abigail Scuito," he whispered.

"More than life, Timothy McGee," she whispered back.

McGee turned to look at Spike. "That brings us back to the question, how do I absorb your energy and become your childe?"

"We exchange blood," Spike said.

"That's it?" McGee asked. "Blood exchange? Why didn't you just say so?" he sounded incredulous. "We didn't have to go through all that when all we have to do is donate a little blood; and what if we're not the same blood type, can we still do it?"

"It's not a transfusion," Spike said. "Blood type doesn't matter. I drink your blood and you drink mine."

"Drink?" McGee asked. "As in fine crystal and a toast...here's to childhood?" That didn't appeal too much.

"No crystal involved," Spike said, knowing that this would be the most difficult part to accept. "We drink directly from each other."

"From each other?" McGee asked. "Exactly where... from each other?"

"You'll drink from my wrists and I'll drink from your neck," Spike answered.

"And you're sure this is safe?" McGee asked. He was starting to get some doubts, not about becoming Spike's childe, but the process sounded...a bit on the disgusting side. And it was pretty damn intimate, drinking someone else's blood.

"It's certainly not healthy," Ducky said. "Isn't there another way, besides blood?" he asked, taking the words out of McGee's mouth.

"Blood is life, Doctor," Spike said. "It's the only way I know."

"I can't allow it," Ducky said. "Not without a complete blood panel to make sure neither of you are passing on any blood borne diseases.

"You do the blood work yourself, Ducky," Gibbs said, giving his blessing to the decision that McGee made. "Keep it on the QT. I don't want anyone outside of our little circle knowing about this. No one else talks about it, is that clear? Not unless you're in an absolutely secure location. We aren't the only sentinels in town, don't forget that."

"I'll draw blood in the morning." Ducky said.

"Fine, then it's all settled," Gibbs said, standing up. "I don't know about anyone else, but I've had a long day and I need to get some rest."

McGee and Abby stood up. "Don't worry boss, we're doing the right thing." McGee said. He could feel it in his bones and even more so now that Gibbs had given his approval. They walked silently to the door with Gibbs following.

Abby turned and gave Gibbs a quick kiss on the cheek before going out the door walking arm and arm with her sentinel to their car. She was clinging more than usual, and Tim knew that he'd spend most of the evening and night reassuring her of her position in his heart and in his life. Which wouldn't be a hardship at all. Or...well, it would be...hard...but only in the nicest of ways.

Ducky drained the last of his brandy from his glass and then stood and walked to the door. "Desperate times," he whispered, putting his hand on Gibbs' shoulder and giving it a pat. "I understand."

"Desperate measures," Gibbs whispered back and then he watched as Ducky walked to his car.





Part Nine

"What is it Ducky?" Gibbs asked as he walked into the lab followed by McGee and the group from Cascade.

Ducky sat at the microscope scowling. He didn't want to do this in front of everyone, but was resigned to Gibbs' sudden and unwelcome, in Ducky's view, openness when it came to Ellison and his pack. "I need to show you what I found in Sentinel Spikeman's blood." He met Gibbs' eyes with a hard, direct look of his own. Gibbs would know what he wanted, and the other Sentinel would choose whether they would talk in public, or in private. Gibbs didn't hesitate. So, public was what it was going to be. Ducky accepted it.

"Is he sick, Duck?" Gibbs asked with more concern in his voice than the M.E. expected. Abby moved over to hug her friend and rest her head on his shoulder. Gibbs let her, he wouldn't have tolerated it from almost anyone else, but Abby was...Abby.

"He has an odd component to his blood," Ducky said. "His serum is chock full of stem cells, and there's an even stranger component...I think it's caused by a virus, but it's behaving more symbiotic than infectious."

"Would you care to run that by me again?" Gibbs asked, "without all the medical jargon."

Ducky sighed, "You call that medical jargon?" he asked, with a shake of his head. The doctor thought for a moment before reducing his findings to its simplest form. "Sentinel Spikeman has an enhanced immune system. He has stem cells in his blood. He also has...what appears to be a viral infection, a chronic one that is interdependent with his system rather than predatory as a disease entity might be. Much the same way we have beneficial bacteria in our digestive systems. The stem cells in his blood are something an adult shouldn't have. Stem cells are capable of becoming anything the body orders them to become. That means he doesn't heal, he regenerates any damage done to his body, the way a chameleon can grow a new tail. There would be no scar tissue. I assume that injury would activate the dormant cells, but I can't be sure of it. This condition is unknown to the medical community and, I dare say, it more than verges on being alien. It's certainly never been documented in mammals, and it isn't human."

"Spike has already told us he's not entirely human," Jim said. His deep voice was completely calm and unsurprised. As if he knew. Ducky narrowed his eyes. The man was a cop. Not a scientist. So...Ducky glanced at the rest of the party from Cascade. His eyes came to rest on the next speaker and stayed. This one had more of an academic air.

"Can I see?" Blair asked, he was practically bouncing out of his shoes. Involuntarily, Ducky found himself smiling. The Guide from Cascade sounded excited as he walked over to the microscope. "I didn't believe him when he told us. Does it really show up in his blood?"

Ducky looked the Guide over closely as he stood up to let him have a look. He felt his senses begin to open up in a way they hadn't since loosing his guide. Blair seemed to be vibrating with excitement as he sat down and looked into the microscope. Ducky was puzzled by his own reaction to the Guide as Blair neared. Really, it was quite inappropriate. The Guide was claimed and marked. He felt his lungs expand, drawing in the scent, his eyesight sharpen, his skin tingle, he wanted to lean in and.... Hastily Ducky took a step back. He should be able to control his reactions better than this. He wasn't a barbarian; he was a civilized man and an Alpha Sentinel, if an old one. Gibbs saved Ducky from further consternation, shooting the M.E. a sharp look. "You knew?" Ducky asked Gibbs, giving himself a mental shake.

"I didn't know about his blood, but the group told us about Spike before we decided to bond with them." Gibbs said, giving Ducky something to focus on. "They've never lied to us, or tried to gloss over anything. It just wasn't all that easy to understand what they meant."

"Didn't know it would show up in my blood," Spike said, his eyes glowing yellow, cocking his head to the side as he considered the new information. "Thought it was all meta-physical, but it makes sense now that you've told us. It's always been about blood." It was true; blood was always the key to everything.

"Boss," Tony asked, "Maybe you should have Ducky run a blood test on you, see if you've been infected?" He didn't sound happy, and looking at him, Gibbs was struck by the realization Tony might be right, they all might be infected with...whatever it was. If Ducky didn't have the words then he certainly didn't. And while it hadn't bothered him, personally, the idea of his Guide carrying something alien in his blood gave Gibbs the chills. He felt the hairs on his neck rise. He had to fight the urge to go to Tony immediately and strip him down to examine him, sniff him, lick him and bite him, assuring himself his Guide was safe and healthy. Tony probably wouldn't mind so much if it was done here and now, but Gibbs was a little more private in his preferences. He clenched his jaw.

"That's improbable, Tony," Ducky said, to their relief, then he dashed hopes by continuing, thinking aloud. "Gibbs would need to have ingested...."

"That's enough," Gibbs interrupted with a warning look at Tony, and an even more pointed one at Ducky. "I'm fine," he said with emphasis. But he was going to examine every inch of his Guide at the soonest opportunity. Ducky looked momentarily surprised, then his analytical brain caught up with his mouth and he pressed his lips shut.

McGee looked at Spike with growing interest. Gibbs and Spike had shared blood, body fluid, something... he wondered what else there was between them and how many more little secrets Tony was going to spill. "The Cascade team seems pretty healthy to me," McGee said, shaking himself out of his thoughts, "and if Sentinel Wall and Gibbs haven't had any bad side effects then we should go ahead with the bond."

Ducky looked at his long time friend, who had all but admitted to ingesting Spike's blood. Not for the first time he wondered if their minds were being manipulated by the bizarre pack. "Perhaps I should run blood tests on everyone. Just because one person has no ill effects doesn't mean that this virus will react the same way in everyone's system. Viruses are always open to mutation. I'd also like C.A.T. scans to make sure there's no tissue or organ involvement." Or mutation, he didn't say it out loud, but it was a concern. "And it will certainly add to a body of knowledge that I've never seen documented or discussed before." His mouth was still disapproving but it was warring with his desire to research anything and everything that he didn't understand.

"No," Spike said. "I've gone as far as I am willing with you, Doctor. No blood, no biopsies, no tests, no write-up in a medical journal. We're all healthy and I will not submit my guide or myself to become anyone's lab rat. Or worse, a bigger target then we already are. Gibbs can do what he wants, but I assure you he is healthy. The only side effect he has is increased strength and faster healing. I wouldn't risk hurting my family." Spike's declaration was absolute, without the slightest give.

Ducky wasn't going to be able to budge the determined sentinel, but what surprised him the most was that Spike felt he needed to give Gibbs permission to make his own decisions about the tests, he wondered if Gibbs noticed. Gibbs was family, Spike had made that reference more then once, but did Spike consider himself the ruling patriarch, subtly pulling everyone's strings? Ducky decided to see what would happen if Spike's manipulative nature saw the light of day. "I doubt that Gibbs needs your permission to make up his own mind," the doctor said. "He is quite capable of seeing for himself that I have everyones best interest at heart. I've certainly never given him cause to doubt my loyalty."

"He wasn't giving me permission, Ducky," Gibbs said with a scowl. "He was just letting me know there would be no hard feelings from him no matter what I decide to do. Can I say the same for you? You wouldn't be trying to make up my mind for me, would you?"

"I assure you I am not. But I do need to voice my concern here. We've been friends for a long time, Jethro," Ducky said quietly. "Is it such a bad thing to look after my friend's medical health?"

Gibbs put his hand on Ducky's shoulder. "Okay, Duck, for your peace of mind and Tony's I'll let you do a blood test and a C.A.T. scan. On me, no one else. Spike is right; if we all go marching in for a C.A.T. scan it will raise too many suspicions. But I want your word, Duck, if you find I'm healthy, with no ill effects from the bond with Spike, its over. End of testing. Are we agreed?"

"Agreed," Ducky answered. "I'll draw your blood now and make a call to the hospital to schedule the C.A.T. scan." He had no intention of wasting one instant of time, or of allowing the Cascadians time alone with Gibbs to talk him out of it. Jim's next statement caught the Medical Examiner by surprise.

"We'll wait for the results," Jim said, speaking up. "I know you need to think, and this will provide you with more information to help you decide. But as soon as the results are in and you know it's safe, that we're safe, let us help you solve the problem we came all this way to address. If not we'll return to Cascade. No point in staying around when there is nothing to do here. We have things to do at home; Washington Genetics needs to be monitored. We can't afford delay. Every minute counts."

"I'm still willing to go through with the bond to Spike." McGee said. "I don't see a down side to a better immune system." Abby's mouth opened and he clapped a careful but firm hand over it stifling her protest. Gibbs met his eyes, evaluating the statement. He nodded briefly.

"Then it's settled," Gibbs said, ignoring the fuming Guide struggling with her Sentinel. "I'll have the tests, for everyone's peace of mind, and then Tim will bond with Spikeman."


~*~*~*~*~


Ducky sat in his over stuffed leather chair sipping tea. Gibbs' blood did have stem cells in it but they were not hurting him. He'd rushed the tests, but not to the point of missing anything crucial. The full body C.A.T. scan had shown his friend to be in perfect health; and tonight was the night Spike would 'make McGee his own'. He didn't like it, not one little bit. Evidence was mounting that the Cascade group had some kind of mental hold on Gibbs and now it was going to spread to McGee, his second in command at NCSIA. Gibbs refused to speak to Ducky alone, and that, by itself was enough to make Ducky's alarm bells ring loud and clear.

Adding to the elderly sentinel's concern was the undisputed fact that Spike already had his fangs into the Agency via the newly promoted Alpha Prime Graham Miller and Sentinel Prime Peter Wall. Now Ellisons' group had the head of Sentinel Internal Affairs, the title Gibbs held, in their pocket and by morning, would have the second in command, McGee, as well. Ducky couldn't imagine how anyone could sway Miller from his path, there was a stubborn man if ever Ducky had met one, but if Gibbs and Ellison were to be believed, and Ducky did believe, Miller was Spike's. Though they hadn't put it in quite those terms, Ducky did. Somehow Spike was in control, Ducky was sure of it. Gibbs didn't submit anything to anyone, and yet...there was his half-admission about Spike and the bond they shared, a bond that was deeper than Gibbs wanted to let on. Ducky had never expected to hear the like. But Gibbs had indicated it was true, if only by his avoidance of discussing the subject further. The M.E. shook his head, feeling more than a little out of his depth.

Ducky didn't understand why Gibbs couldn't see that these men might be the very ones they got into the resistance to fight. What better cover for spies to use than a rebellious, nonconformist pack? One birthed on the back of a respected, normally conservative man like Ellison's reputation deemed him. Ellison, this was very much out of character for that man, sharing two guides and nesting with another sentinel. As for Spike, he certainly could be an engineered sentinel, yellow eyes and blood full of stem cells, it just wasn't normal, no matter how the Guide Blair defined normal, Ducky wasn't about to be so generous.

The highbred, high-strung Harris Sentinel/Guide... Someone, or several someones had been dabbling in that boy's brain. Did they really expect him, as a physician, to believe that Xander's sentinel skills triggered due to an accidental overdose of a drug? It was far more likely that the kidnapping was a cover or even a covert operation to get a toe in the door with Miller, Wall and Gibbs. Well Ducky wasn't going to succumb to Spike's yummy energy, no matter how seductive it was. He'd declined the invitation to the ceremony tonight, thank you very much. From now on he would stay clear of Spike, he certainly wouldn't make the mistake of ever touching him again. He needed a clear head to watch out for those less suspicious and cautious.

Touch could be the key to Spike's mental control over the group or maybe it had something to do with the stem cells. The virus might be transmissible via touch, and not only ingestion. Ducky flushed again, the unwilling picture flashing in his brain quickly shut down. The medical convention in Boston would begin soon and Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard would look into this stem cell stuff. If Ellison's pack was on the wrong side of this battle, then he would find out, and if so, there would be hell to pay. One didn't hurt or attempt to manipulate Donald Mallard's friends without suffering very severe consequences.


~*~*~*~*~


"This feels kind of awkward," McGee said as he looked around the newly furnished nesting room in Gibbs' townhouse. It was well appointed, looked far more comfortable and cushion-y than anything McGee had previously associated with his boss. This was more like Tony's taste, simple, rich, and so decadent all at the same time, maintaining an understated elegance. It wasn't the least bit feminine, but McGee felt a conviction that he was giving his permission to being seduced.

"We'll take it slow," The barefoot Spike answered as he took off his shirt and sat down on the muted burgundy covers of the nest, watching McGee.

McGee's eyes widened, skittering along the hard muscular chest of the shorter, smaller blond man. This was not a woman's body. This was not an androgynous, slender man with sweet curves here and there to distract him with the fantasy that it might be an athletic woman. This was a man, hard muscled and strong. No doubt about it, and he hadn't even started to take off his pants yet. McGee knew that would happen at some point, and when it did he wasn't going to protest, though he'd bite his tongue off before he'd admit it out loud.

"Abby was pissed that she couldn't be in here for this," McGee said, his eyes averted, but sneaking quick darting looks back at Spike. The glances lasted longer and longer, as he removed his shirt and sat down across from Spike, where he took a deep breath and looked down into the other sentinel's eyes. He ignored the men sitting around them. Jim, Gibbs and Tony were there for support only. Abby, Xander and Blair waited in the living room. The group stayed quiet, for which McGee was very grateful. One patented DiNozzo joke and he wasn't sure he wouldn't take to his heels. He was on the edge as it was, his breath coming short.

Spike's face was sympathetic. He put out a milk-pale hand, letting it rest on McGee's forearm. McGee was more than a little shocked when he didn't feel like jumping out of his skin at the touch. The feel of Spike, the warm, comforting essence of the odd sentinel washed through his limbs. He felt his body sigh and begin to relax.

"She would have distracted us," Spike said, his voice low, soothing. "I'll call her in as soon as the ceremony's over, she'll be here when you wake up, we both will." Spike's dark blue eyes wavered, the irises flooding with golden yellow like honey poured into a jar. One moment blue...the next clear, buttery yellow. He leaned forward about half an inch.

McGee smelled him, his skin, his sweat, his musk. He felt his heart pound more forcefully, as if it beat a little stronger, and little more energetically, yet a sense of peace, rather than agitation seemed to grow, washing through him in ever stronger waves. McGee kept his gaze fixed on Spike and nodded in agreement, swallowing hard. His body was singing. He thought for a long moment, letting the feelings sink into his bones, the deep places, and Spike could see that he was wrestling with himself. Wrestling with wants, needs and fears. With saying yes, like he wanted to, or no, like he felt he should out of loyalty. Fighting with the idea of saying yes..to another sentinel, to a man.

Spike didn't push; he let the other man think. When he wasn't rushed, McGee relaxed a bit more. Spike tilted his head, just enough so that he became the one who submitted, not the aggressor. He softened his mouth, letting his lips part the tiniest bit. He saw the larger Sentinel's pupils dilate instantly. He scented the rush of aroused hormones, of flooding testosterone. He heard the blood rushing through McGee's veins and arteries. A sentinel would always respond to submission of another, and always fight his own. Well, Spike could give him that. Submission. He had no problem with it, never had. He didn't need to be top dog.

McGee growled, a low, possessive sound, and this time it was he who leaned forward, his larger body towering over the blond man's. Now it was McGee who wanted to instinctively do the taking. Spike nearly smiled, feeling a rush of affection and caring as McGee brushed against him. Yes, this one was a good choice, a good man despite being so damn young. He'd be an asset to the pack, a true protector for the guides. Now it only remained to bind him to them. Spike licked his pale pink mouth, letting McGee see it; he smiled inwardly when the growl was repeated.

Spike's hands went to his belt, unbuckling it and sliding out of his pants, leaving himself naked, offering himself gently, if he was wanted, he was careful to keep his offer from any hint of aggression. He could feel the heavy heat of McGee's want pressing into his hip. He guided McGee's hands to him, letting the sentinel pattern him as he gently removed the remainder of McGee's clothing, his own hands moving light and soft over the larger body, careful not to do any mapping. McGee was emphatically hard as he ran his tongue over Spike's nipple. His teeth closed in an erotic bite, not hurting, but thrilling Spike into letting out a quiet moan.

At the sound, Tony shot a side ways glance at Gibbs, who sat watching with a classic unreadable Gibbs expression on his face. The guide slid his hand into his sentinel's and their fingers intertwined. Then Tony felt the almost hidden tremble. The rise of Gibbs' desire, banked, controlled, but definitely there.

Gibbs waited and watched. The atmosphere in the room was intense. As far as he knew McGee had never been with a man. Yet Spike was giving him what he needed. A chance to dominate, although McGee's domination of Spike was far gentler than the beating Gibbs had given Spike when they bonded, he wondered why Spike did it, why he submitted to Jim, Xander, him, and now McGee when he could easily have been a pack leader with other sentinels submitting to him.

Did Spike like submitting? Gibbs knew it was possible, though his mind had a hard time wrapping around the concept. He didn't understand it, but he could accept it philosophically, as long as no one asked it of him. He wouldn't submit. He couldn't imagine wanting to, not really. It was an alien idea. Was it really just penance for the sins of a past life for Spike? Could that drive a Sentinel to submit? He didn't think so. All the Alpha sentinels he had met, until Spike, held to the Western philosophy...'be an oak, stand strong and don't bend'. But Spike was different, he seemed to embody the Eastern philosophy...'be bamboo, bend when the storm comes, but don't break, do not be destroyed, survive...'. Now he wondered, had he misjudged McGee? He had always thought of Tim as intelligent and capable but more a follower able to lead in a pinch, but not born to lead, not like Ellison and he were. He had always known McGee was different somehow; he didn't easily fit into the definition of Alpha or Beta sentinel. When he claimed Abby for his guide and they both flourished, the scales tipped, in Gibbs' mind, toward McGee being the Alpha he claimed to be, that his medical records showed him to be. But still he had expected Spike to take, and McGee to grudgingly submit. It wasn't turning out that way at all. Now he sat watching two sentinels he respected and it all became clear to him. McGee was like Spike, they were bamboo, able to bend and do whatever was required without breaking. And in this instance, Spike had chosen to lure McGee, who was not attracted to his maleness at all, with the 'femininity' of pure, undiluted submission.

Gibbs squeezed Tony's hand. "We're going to win this war," he whispered, sure that their enemies had no idea of what they were up against.


~*~*~*~*~


Abby sat on the sofa sandwiched between Xander and Blair. She sat upright, her lips pressed thin, her back stiff, her knees pressed primly together. She really wanted to bite one of them and dash to the door where her sentinel was being violated this very minute, but the two guides were holding her hands and stroking her arms in an attempt to keep her calm. The soothing touch was working, but just barely. Her eyes kept glancing toward the nesting room, she wanted to be in there and be with her sentinel. She didn't understand why they kept her out. Tony was there in case a guide was needed, she should be there, McGee was her responsibility, not Tony's. "How long is this going to take?" she asked no one in particular.

"The ceremony itself doesn't take too long," Xander said, his big hand on her shoulder cupping it, squeezing comfortingly. He was huge for a guide, and he looked like a sentinel, even more than Abby thought she did. A genetic freak, just like she was. She leaned fractionally into his touch, he was interesting, and he felt good. Sentinel-ish. Xander accepted her move, his grip supporting her, and continued speaking. "But McGee will sleep afterward. He won't wake up until morning."

"It's just that Tim has never been with a man before," Abby said, looking directly into Xander's eyes and nervously licking her lips. "I don't want him hurt." Her eyes held too many fears to list but one was clear as day. She feared that her Sentinel would be penetrated against his will, emasculated, humiliated.

"Spike won't hurt him; he can't force this, it simply wouldn't work," Blair said, soothingly, leaning into her side. He didn't feel like a sentinel, not even a little, she leaned away from him, and closer to Xander. Blair wasn't stupid, he let her move away. He kept hold of her hand, but didn't try to touch any other part of her. "He cares for Tim. What he's doing will make Tim stronger."

"Can I pace?" Abby asked, with her eyes focused on the nesting room door. "I think I'll do better if I pace." If they let her up, she thought, she could make a break for it and get to that door.

"No," Xander said. "The temptation to go to your sentinel will be too much if you're on your feet," he said, putting an end to Abby's not so secret plan. Abby remained silent, fuming.

"It shouldn't be much longer," Blair said. "Spike will call you in as soon as it's done."


~*~*~*~*~


McGee's back arched as he ran his hard cock back and forth alongside Spike's equally hard appendage. He nuzzled into the bend of Spike's neck, nipping the skin over the pounding pulse. Spike ran his hand through McGee's short hair, ruffling it, and turning his face so they looked into each other's eyes. Spike looked deep, waiting for the connection to hit, then he coaxed him on to his side. He put his hand on McGee's cheek rubbing small circles with his thumb. He leaned forward, licking over the man's mouth before leaning back, and locking gazes. "When this is done we will be linked together," Spike began, his voice was soft and seductive. "We'll be closer than you can imagine. There will be love between us, the love of Sire and Childe runs deep and, once forged, it is unbreakable. Are you certain you want it?"

McGee could hear his blood pounding in his ears like a drumbeat. Spike's presence filled all his senses, the sight of his yellow eyes, the feel of his body, his scent, his taste, but mostly the sound of his voice, hypnotic in its call to him, weaving like a spell binding Tim to him even before the final act, before the last consent. Tim's answer was instant, emphatic. "Yes, I want it. Yes," he breathed. His hand rose and his fingers threaded through Spike's short blond hair. He gripped the locks, forearms tensing. He wanted to put Spike onto his back; he wanted to spread him wide and..... Spike let his body relax, let McGee work a knee between his legs, another sign of submission. McGee rumbled happily against Spike's throat.

Spike rolled McGee onto his back in gradual turns, mapping him gently, never forcefully, when McGee was at last spread-eagled and panting, Spike let his fangs drop. He tilted McGee's head and licked at his neck finding the pulse point, judging the bite exactly, he sank his fangs into McGee and drank three mouthfuls of the life giving fluid. Each swallow was accompanied by a shuddering from the larger man. Spike's fingers curled, caressed, held. Then he disengaged his teeth, and kissed the sluggishly bleeding wound.

McGee let out a murmur, and then a sigh, as he felt the warm soft tongue slide over his throat and then the fangs entered him. He gripped the round, lush buttocks that filled his hands, pulling Spike in hard against him, arching his own body upwards. He had expected pain, but there was none, only a rush of erotically charged warmth that filled his body. He rose up, his cock like steel along Spike's belly, moaning with each pull Spike made on his neck. He gave a soft whimper when the fangs were removed. He didn't want it to end. He continued to moan softly as Spike licked the wound closed.

Then Spike lifted his wrist to his mouth and bit into it, letting the blood flow. He let his thighs open, until he was kneeling astride the larger, younger sentinel, McGee positioned intimately. Tim surged up once then relaxed panting, but his eyes were wild. "Blood to Blood, drink and become my own," Spike said as he held his wrist to the sentinel's mouth.

McGee grabbed the offering and held it to his lips, drawing deep of the coppery fluid, he let his mouth fill before swallowing. He wasn't expecting his body's reaction, the hunger, he'd thought he'd have to fight to get it down, not that he'd want it at all, or want it so badly. Heat spread through him and every nerve in his body pulled tight before exploding into orgasm. He drank two more mouthfuls, his teeth scraping Spike's soft inner wrist, as his back arched up and his seed was released all across their bellies, McGee jerking, one hand digging into Spike's hip, the other holding his wrist in a bruising, aggressive grip, and then he let go and blinked once before letting out a huge, faintly surprised sigh, his head sagging to one side as he fell into an instant, heavy sleep.

"It's done," Spike said, disengaging from his worn out partner, handling him with great gentleness. Spike was going to have bruises, but they wouldn't last long. They never did. Bruises meant McGee had wanted him, that his feeling, their connection had been strong, possessive, the kind of bond that would last. Spike stood up, twitched a cover over the naked man now slumbering in the nest. "Tell Abby she can come in now, but let her know that it's normal for Tim to be asleep, he won't wake until morning no matter what she does."

"I'll do it, I'll tell her." Tony said, and then left the room. Spike would have had to be blind to miss the condition going on in the Guide's pants. He grinned even as Jim came towards him. The wave of fatigue hit him suddenly, he'd been waiting for it, and he sank back to sit on the edge of the nest, as far from McGee as he could. No need to aggravate Abby. Spike liked her. She was quirky and she had balls.

Jim kneeled down by Spike's side. Slipping a supporting arm around him and pulling him close, protectively. "Are you all right?" he asked.

"Need Xan," Spike said, exhausted, leaning into Jim's strong embrace. "Felt good." He blinked, his eyelids drooping.

"I'm here," Xan said, as he entered the room and stripped off his clothes before laying down next to his sentinel, making sure he was between Spike and McGee. Abby was no more than a flash of black sailing by Spike's peripheral vision as Jim, sure that Xander would take care of Spike, left the room to retrieve Blair.

Abby sprang onto the padded nest and cuddled in next to Tim. It was over and Tim was sleeping peacefully. She relaxed but wasn't about to take off her clothes. The men in the nest could do what they wanted, she was no prude, eye candy was eye candy and this group was as sweet as they come. But not one of them was going to ogle her Timmy for one second longer. She pulled up the blankets to his chin and tucked them tightly around him. She let anyone who dared to look see her bared teeth. They all wisely kept their distance and she turned away from them and back to McGee, sleeping the sleep of the innocent.

Timmy. Her lovely boy, her sweet, soft, pudgy but oh so lovely sentinel. She nuzzled his neck, smelling the tang of blood. She snarled soundlessly, plucking up the edge of covers and licked at the area, cleaning away the scent. She glanced back over her shoulder, her expression ferocious. Spike was cuddled up with Xander, the guide checking his sentinel's body in a curious turn about of the usual sentinel-guide behavior. Abby glanced over at the others remaining in the room.

Gibbs and Tony were already moving towards the door, and her expression softened seeing Tony's little shiver when Gibbs' hand brushed along his back and she sighed with both disappointment and thanks. She loved them, and they were yummy, but... Then she turned her attention to the two men coming back into the room, watching Ellison and his guide, Blair, undress. There was little light in the room but she could see a glint off of Ellison's muscles. She sighed again, as the sentinel and guide lay down together, the sentinel moving over the top of the guide and hiding him from view, all but the welcoming arms that circled around his sentinel's back.

Abby was wishing she had a little more of a sentinel's ability to see in the dark. But if she had to choose between having a vagina and being a real sentinel, she'd take a vagina any day. She didn't think of herself as being a hermaphrodite, she was a girl and she loved it, and all the parts that came with it. No, she wouldn't change a thing, except maybe be able to have children, but mostly she loved being herself. Being Abby was...cool. She grinned and snuggled up to her exhausted Sentinel. Timmy was the one she wanted most, the one she'd choose. Even so, there was no harm listening to other Sentinels and Guides having sex, was there? Her ears pricked up at Blair's first drawn out moan.




tbc




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