Crossover with The Sentinal

Rated: Adult for Sexual Content (No Partner Betrayal!)
Jim/Blair, Blair/Xander, Xander/Spike

Disclaimer:
The following pages are not for minors!!
The fanfic on these pages contains m/m slash (male on male sex), bondage, BDSM, rimming, oral sex, anal sex, bloodplay, and violence.
For adults, this is a nice little fantasy. For children, this is a good way to really warp your sense of sexuality!!
If you're not of legal age, go read something else.

I don't own any of these guys and I don't make money off this. I'm just having some fun.
Oh, and if you're looking for abuse, rape, torture, chan, or sexual violence, go somewhere else! My guys like what they're doing, and they don't do anything unless both partners are getting off on it!

Manip by Lit Gal Manip by Lit Gal Manip by Mwrgana


Learning Curve


by
Litgal



Prologue

"Xander, we really need you to do this for us," Willow blinked in that' helpless little girl' expression she'd been using on him ever since the yellow crayon. Xander crossed his arms and squinted his eye. The look didn't work nearly as well now that she was one of the most powerful witches on earth.

"Right. And the fact that it's on the other side of the world?" Xander demanded.

"The council hasn't seen an active Sentinel in like five hundred years. This is big. It might be some sort of apocalyptic sign big."

"You're just trying to make me feel better, aren't you?"

"Maybe," she admitted in a small voice. "But knowing how to work with a Sentinel, that would of the good, yes?" she quickly added. "I mean, we already know that a lot of Sentinels end up doing the crazy thing, and if you understand Sentinel psychology, and then we find another Sentinel and this Sentinel is losing his, you know, marbles… what with the seeing and hearing things, and really that does sound a bit like schizophrenia, so you really can't blame the doctors for thinking the Sentinels are doing the crazy thing. There was a guy in the 1800's who might have been a Sentinel and he… let's just say it didn't end well what with mental health field using more chains and boiling water than Prozac." Willow paused in horror, and Xander jumped in before she could continue. He knew her babble well enough to know that she'd just keep right on going.

"So you want me to train to work with some weird nearly-human thing even though no one has seen one in five hundred years and it'll probably be another five hundred before another pops up? Thinkin' I'm not going to be around in five hundred years."

"Bloody hope not," Spike growled as he aimed his car at another hapless citizen of Springfield. Xander glanced over as Spike backed the car up and aimed it at Ned Flanders again, sending the man rolling down the street. No wonder Spike could never beat his scores on the game, he was too busy mowing down the pixilated population.

"Of course you'll probably still be here mooching," Xander snapped.

"At least I'm of some use, mate. Red's sending ya on this chase 'cause none of us need ya 'round here."

"HEY!" Willow protested that, but Xander turned his back and started walking out of the common room. Yeah, he knew he was big on the useless scale, but he didn't need it pointed out by Spike. The missing eye meant he was more a danger to his own side in a fight. He couldn't even count the number of times Buffy or Spike had to save him from some baddie running up on his blind side. They kept trying to blindside him, he quipped to himself as he strode down the hallway, but even he didn't find his joke funny. One little case of malaria and Buffy wouldn't even hear of him going back on the road to track down slayers. Which left him… it left him nowhere he realized.

He could hear Willow's footsteps running behind him in the hall. She had probably stopped to give Spike shit, which was kinda emasculating, but then he should be used to it by now. He started down the main staircase of Watcher HQ.

"Xander, wait," Willow called. Xander considered ignoring her, but too many years of listening made his feet stop before he'd even made a decision.

"Xander…" Willow came up to him and put a warm hand on his bare arm. He could feel the love there, but he could also feel her helplessness, the fact that she wanted to help and didn't know how. "He didn't mean it."

"Yeah, he did," Xander answered. Spike didn't say things he didn't mean. Spike was rude, blunt, sexy, sadistic, lithe, and honest. Then again, Xander had always fallen for the sadistic ones, and the way Willow was looking at him, he wasn't fooling her much with his 'I hate Spike' campaign.

"You just need some time to sort this out," she said softly, and Xander made the connection.

"You're sending me away from him," Xander accused her. "So, how many of you are in on this little plan? Giles? Buffy? Wait, did you call Angel and talk about ways to keep me from making the worst mistake of my life?" Willow pulled back in the face of his anger, and Xander immediately felt guilty. Yep, Xand the Insecure Man spreading unhappiness and misery everywhere he went. Xander wondered what kind of cape came with those sorts of super powers.

"No! I didn't… I just thought…" Willow started tearing up, and Xander's anger evaporated. He reached out and pulled her into a hug.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. You know me, I say lots of stuff I don't mean—it's a disease. I'm just a sick, sick boy… got diarrhea of the mouth here."

"I haven't said anything to anyone," Willow whispered into his chest, and Xander knew she was telling him the truth. "I just don't want you to get hurt."

"Yeah, my skills of pickage suck when it comes to partners," Xander admitted.

"You just deserve someone who loves you."

"Yeah, I know. Maybe you're right about needing some time. So, what's the weather like in Cascade this time of year?" Xander asked as he laid a cheek against her head, smelling the sweet fruitiness of her shampoo.

"Um, I think rainy," Willow said. Xander glanced toward the windows where a grey English drizzle misted the glass.

"Great. More rain. Yippee," Xander said unenthusiastically. Willow poked him in the ribs. "I mean, Yippee," he repeated with a fake smile and a strained enthusiasm. "I'll go pack a bag."





Part One

Manip by Lit Gal
Xander took a deep breath and looked around the airport. Blair's long hair should be easy enough to spot, or at least that's what he'd thought before stepping off the plan in Cascade and discovering at least 10% of the guys had long hair. Xander shifted the duffle bag higher on his shoulder as he walked off the ramp and into the crowd waiting as families reunited with loud calls and group hugs. Xander detoured around a happily chatting Asian family as he searched the edges of the crowd.

It was funny how every airport in the world looked just the same... the same light colored walls, the same big windows overlooking the planes as they crept over the grey asphalt. Xander looked up to see a display of Native American headdresses and decorated spears behind bulletproof glass. Yep, there was the obligatory cultural display put up just to prove that this building wasn't interchangeable with the one in Zimbabwe with the shield collection or the one in Phoenix with the Indian pottery collection.

"Xander?" a voice asked from behind him, and he turned around to find the bluest eyes surrounded by a mane of brown and red curls. Blair.

"Blair?" he asked just to be on the safe side.

"Oh man, I'm so totally stoked to meet you. Jim was half convinced this was some sort of practical joke." Blair gestured toward a second man, and Xander turned to smile a hello to Jim. His expression just sort of froze in place as he found himself looking at the scariest guy he'd ever seen. The expression was pretty much like Spike's 'one second away from killing something' face with a bit of Angel's jaw-twitching 'I think you're an idiot but I'm not going to say it' face thrown in on the side. Oh yeah, someone was not feelin' the love.

"Nice to meet you," Xander finally choked out as he held out a hand. Jim took the hand and ice blue eyes searched him for a second, stopping at the duffle bag before that gaze returned to the crowd. Something from Xander's soldier memories screamed about threat assessments and covert ops, and Xander found himself taking a step to the side to get closer to Blair.

"So, are we ready to get out of here?" Jim suddenly asked.

"Um, yeah. This is all I brought since I don't really trust the airlines with luggage. One time when I was flying to Africa they sent this tribal god carving thing I was supposed to use as a way to prove I wasn't some nutcase because it had this big truth mojo, and they mixed up the bags and sent the thing to Denmark and there I was in this village trying to convince them that I was interested in their young girls because of the whole slayer thing rather than the whole creepy pedophilia thing." Xander groaned to himself as he realized that pedophilia might not be a good topic of discussion around cops.

"Tribal carving? Cool. What tribe?" Blair asked as though Xander hadn't been babbling.

"Um, not sure. Might have been demonic," Xander said. He didn't miss the twitch in Jim's shoulders as the man walked ahead of them.

"Demonic tribes? Oh man, that is so cool. I wonder how Dr. Stoddard would react to a demonic fetish," Blair mused without missing a beat. Funny, Xander had expected more freakage, something more like Jim whose back kept going stiffer until the man could give Angel a run for his money in the stick up his butt department. But Blair seemed strangely okay with it. Xander didn't answer since he really had no idea what to say. Anyway his words seemed to either come all at once or not at all.

"Wait here," Jim said brusquely as they reached the curb. Xander thought he was talking to both of them until Jim's hand reached for Blair's back, herding the shorter man away as Xander stood on the sidewalk wondering whether either of them were going to come back. He had a feeling that if it were up to Jim, the two of them would drive off and leave Xander standing in the grey Cascade morning trying to book a flight back to England. Not that Xander necessarily would head back right now. Time away from the demon slaying and time away from Spike suddenly seemed like a good idea.

Xander shifted his bag to his opposite shoulder as people around him hailed taxis and disappeared into the traffic. When an old blue pickup pulled up to the curb, Xander ignored it until the door opened and Blair leaned out.

"Come on, if we make Jim late for work, we'll never hear the end of it," Blair called, and Xander tossed his bag into the back before climbing in the cab.

The ride to their apartment was uncomfortable with Jim's jaw twitching in very Angel-like ways, Blair filling awkward silences with descriptions of the historical significance of nearly every building they passed and Xander watching them in uncharacteristic silence. He didn't know what to say, especially since there wasn't a good reason for him being here. Sure, Willow had a reason for wanting him out of HQ, but these two were just the saps he got dumped on.

"I left some paperwork in the loft," Jim said in clipped syllables as he parked the truck in front of a bakery.

"You've got time, man. Simon isn't expecting you 'til ten."

"I know, Sandburg," Jim practically growled. Xander had already gotten out and had his bag half out of the bed of the truck, and even though the words weren't aimed at him, he still flinched at the growl.

"Ignore Jim. He's just perpetually cranky," Blair offered as he got out the passenger side and slammed the door. Blair didn't miss the way Jim waited at the hood of the truck and then dropped a hand onto Blair's shoulder as they headed to a door next to the bakery. Xander wondered whether those two were doing it or if his own recently discovered interest in the same sex was just making him look at the world through gay-colored glasses.

"Yeah, no problem. Spent years living with the perpetually cranky myself, only in my case it was the perpetually cranky and occasionally murderous in the blood sucking demon kinda way, but then at least Spike never shaved his legs with my razor the way Dawn does every time she forgets to put razors on her shopping list," Xander said as he followed the pair up the stairs. Or at least he followed after eyeing the elevator for a second.

Jim stopped on the first landing, only a half a story up. "Sandburg, we're out of that organic cleaner you keep under the sink. Unless you want me to use Comet…"

"Oh man, that stuff leaves welts on your skin."

"And it leaves the sink actually clean."

"The organic orange cleaner works just as well."

"If you scrub twice as long," Jim countered. "But do me a favor and run down to the store for some while I get my paperwork together. You know, this would be a lot simpler if that car of yours wasn't always breaking down."

"Hey, she's a classic." Blair protested.

"She's a piece of junk," Jim said with a snort. Xander watched as Blair's gaze went from him to Jim and then back to him. Xander knew that he knew that it was a set-up, but Xander didn't protest despite a pretty good feeling about what was about to happen. Hell, he'd given a few intimidation speeches in his day, so he knew about the whole thing. Blair was obviously the one who had believed Willow's story about Hellmouths and demons and watchers, and Jim… not so much.

"I'll be right back," Blair finally said. "You wanna ride along?" Blair offered.

"Nah, I think I'll stick around and let the Neanderthal intimidate me," Xander shrugged. Blair opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it with an audible snap. Jim's jaw just tightened until Xander could see the jaw muscle bulging.

"Oh man, do not let him scare you. His bark is much worse than his bite," Blair finally said as Jim started up the stairs with heavy footsteps that suggested that Xander had just broken some sort of unwritten rule.

"Yeah, I've dealt with that sort a lot," Xander said as he looked up the stairs. "It's probably just better to let him get it out of his system." He said the words, but he wasn't sure he entirely believed them as he considered being alone with Jim in an apartment. The man was big. And dangerous. And definitely set off the old Hellmouth radar in a vague creepy feeling up the backbone kinda way. And he clearly didn't like Xander.

"I'll be back as quick as I can," Blair promised as he dashed down the stairs and out the door. Xander wondered for a moment if it would be too cowardly to just sit on the steps and wait for Blair to get back, but then again, he had to face Jim sometime. With a sigh he switched his bag from his left shoulder to his right before heading up the stairs. He only hoped that Jim was waiting in the hall because he couldn’t remember the apartment number.





Part Two



Manip by Lit Gal
Fortunately for Xander, Jim stood with his arms crossed outside one of the doors on the third floor. Xander hitched his bag further up on his shoulder and walked past the man despite the slight Hellmouthy vibes. Or maybe vibe was too strong a word since he was only getting a tingle of Hellmouthiness.

He dropped his bag near a couch and turned to watch as the detective locked the apartment door. It really was a nice place, but Xander didn't spare much attention for the room considering the aggression pouring off every tightly controlled gesture Ellison made.

"Want a beer?" the man asked as he went into the kitchen.

"Um, really rather not. Kinda have some bad memories with beer, and since I figure you aren't going to stop growling at me until we talk this out, I'd rather get to the talking part, not that I want to do the talking part, but if we're going to talk, I really just want it all out on the table. Not big on the waiting. Waiting bad. And I babble when I get all freaked out by impending talkage," Xander trailed off, and the expression on Jim's face suddenly lightened. The man was possibly even biting his lip to keep from laughing, but laughing was better than pounding.

"Freaked out?" Jim asked as he leaned again the square pillar, taking a drink from a bottle of water before crossing his arms. "I thought you people dealt with Hellmouths and demons." Xander couldn't exactly miss the disbelief in the voice.

"And guys who can hear dog whistles miles away," Xander added. He had to remind himself not to flinch when Jim's expression suddenly darkened again.

"Are you suggesting I fit into the same category with demons?" he demanded.

"No! Well, maybe. Giles said there was a theory that Sentinels might somehow be related to slayers like the male half of the line or something because they have these protective instincts like slayers, although really slayers to a lot of hunting and killing considering they're supposed to be protectors."

"Slayers. You mean the vampire slaying girls Ms. Rosenburg described." Jim said cautiously. Xander fidgeted and moved closer to the door even though he knew Blair couldn't get back this quickly.

"Um, yeah. They're extra strong and have this vampire radar thing going on. But Giles also said that the Sentinels might come from some sort of warrior-priest clan that battled demons like thousands of years ago, and some people think they might actually have some demonic blood in their ancestry." Xander stopped when Jim's hands closed around his jacket and slammed him back into the door hard enough to knock the breath out of him. The man was fast, faster than anyone Xander knew who wasn't a vampire… or a slayer.

"Oh, hey, no grabbing the guest. Willow said you guys were the 'protect the tribe' types, definitely not the 'eviscerate the guest' type."

"You aren't part of my tribe," Jim pointed out, and Xander felt cold fear wrap around his body at the expression on the man's face. "And I don't buy your line. So tell me who you work for and what you want with us," Jim demanded. The hands tightened so that the jacket dug into Xander's underarms.

"The Watcher's Council sent me just to learn about Sentinels. Who else is going to hire a one-eyed carpenter?" Xander's desperation ratcheted up a notch as Jim turned him and pulled one of Xander's arms behind his back. Ellison pushed Xander face-first into the door, and then used his leverage on Xander's arm to keep him there. "You know, if you're trying to convince me you don't have demonic grandparents hidden up in the old family tree, this probably isn't the way to do it," Xander said as one large hand quickly and efficiently frisked him. The grip on his captured arm changed and then his other side got an equally official frisking.

When the cold of metal went around his wrist, he used the hand he had braced on the door to try and free himself.

"Hey, just hold on one second because I am not into that. Handcuffs were definitely not in the travel brochure, and if you're that cranky about houseguests, just let me know, and I'll find a hotel. Never let it be said I stayed where I wasn't wanted." Xander tried to turn and regain control of his hand, but a kick to the back of one of his knees sent him crashing to the floor, his cheek plastered to the door. "HEY!" he complained even louder as his second arm was pulled to the small of his back before being handcuffed in place.

"Right, so now we're going to have that talk you mentioned," Jim said as he pulled him up and pushed him toward the couch. He briefly considered a sweeping kick aimed at Jim's legs, but considering how easily the man had cuffed him, Xander wasn't making any bets on how well that would go over. He decided on going for the helpless approach instead, which wasn't all that hard handcuffed in a strange city in a strange man's apartment. Why was he the only one who always got into these messes?

Strong hands turned him and then pushed him back into the couch, and Xander flinched when the handcuffs tightened uncomfortably as Jim pressed him back against the cushions.

"Who do you work for?" Jim demanded as he stood over Xander, arms crossed.

"The Watcher's Council," Xander answered honestly.

"Do you work for the CIA?"

"What? No. I don't even know anyone from the CIA. Well, except these two guys that showed up in Sunnydale to get this invisi-girl I went to school with."

"The FBI?"

"No."

"Secret Service?"

"You mean the counterfeit money guys? Just no."

"MI-5? MI-6?"

"Okay, I don't even know who that is." Xander's soldier memories suddenly supplied the information. "Oh, hey, wait, do I sound stuck up and British to you?"

"Army?"

"No." Xander suddenly found Jim Ellison's face an inch from his, Jim's arms on either side of him as he leaned on the back of the couch.

"What branch?" he demanded in a voice that made Xander shudder as much as any fledge's growl ever had.

"What part of 'no' don't you understand?" Xander demanded. "Not big with the military types here, and I'm not going to pass the physical with only one eye."

"So why did your heart speed up at the question?" Jim demanded. Uh oh. Xander considered how to explain that little hitch to someone who didn't even believe in vampires much less chaos mages.

"Um, I might have some Army memories in here after a small Halloween accident with a cursed uniform. But I have hyena memories after a small zoo accident with a cursed hyena, and I don't go eating raw meat… any more. Anyway, my point is that I'm no more a soldier than a hyena," Xander pressed back into the couch as Jim leaned even farther in. "Personal space, buddy. You're definitely in mine, and I really don't know you well enough to be comfortable sharing body heat unless there's some apocalyptic disaster."

"Cursed uniform? At least you're original," Jim announced as he stood up.

"Um, not really. Everyone sort of got cursed that night. Well, maybe not everyone, but most everyone."

"Wait here," Jim ordered before heading up the stairs.

"Yeah, like I'm going anywhere like this," Xander snorted in disgust as he leaned forward to take some of the weight off his wrists. And there he sat and waited as Ellison slammed around on the second floor. When the lock on the door ground roughly, Xander looked up as Blair pushed the door open with a hip.

"I decided to get a few extras while I was out, so if you he-men types are finished growling at each oth…" Blair stopped as he came around the door, and Xander figured it wasn't hard to guess why.

"Um, I think the growling part is over and we've moved on to bondage and general intimidation, which is a bit over-the-top-ish in my book, but seems to be making your partner happy."

"What would make me happy is if you had never called," Jim said as he came down the stairs with a length of chain in his hand: one of those heavy industrial chains with huge links.

"Ya know, technically I never called, so if it's the callage making you grumpy, you really should take that up with Willow." In his head, Xander added, 'the woman who could turn that thing into a daisy chain and leave you making froggy noises as you hopped across the room.

"Oh man, this is the definition of uncool. I told Willow that he'd be perfectly safe here, and I don't think handcuffs and chains fit the bill," Blair added.

"His heart spiked when I asked if he was Army. You may believe this demon crap, but I sure don't, and now that I know where to focus, I plan on finding out exactly who Mr. Harris is representing." Jim wrapped one end of the chain around the pillar and closed a padlock around it.

"Would it help if I once again pointed out that I work for the Watcher's Council? 'Cause I can keep saying that if it helps any," Xander offered as Jim walked over and pulled him to his feet.

"Don't bother," Jim said as he did something with the handcuffs.

"Jim, man, don't do this," Blair finally got around to putting the bags on the counter, and then both of them got to watch as Jim handcuffed Xander's one hand to the end of the chain.

"Chief, if you're right, he won't die from a day chained to the post, and I'll apologize later. If I'm right, I won't risk leaving you alone with him." Jim said to his partner, turning his back on Xander.

"I should be complimented. I normally just get ignored," Xander joked as he sat down on the floor with his back to the post. He might have room to reach a kitchen chair, but he wasn't going to amuse Ellison by trying to reach and finding the chain just a little too short.

"Xander, I am so sorry. He isn't usually such a dickwad," Blair said with a glare.

"Better safe than sorry, so I'll take these keys with me. And don't you go cutting him free. If he isn't still chained to that post when I come back, there's going to be hell to pay."

"Don't go telling me what do to," Blair shot right back, stepping forward until he was chest to chest with Jim. Xander really thought that the anthropologist would have a better chance if he didn't stand a good five or six inches shorter. As it was, it reminded Xander of a Vinji demon trying to take on a Kleynach demon, or a poodle trying to take on a pit bull, and maybe he really needed to stop hanging around Spike and Buffy if the Vinjis and Kleynaches came to mind first.

"Sandburg."

"Ellison," Blair snapped back in the same frustrated tone.

"I'm not leaving you here with someone dangerous. So, the handcuffs stay, or you can both come down to the station and sit your butts in front of my desk until I check out his story."

"So not cool. You think I didn't check out his story? Oh man, you must think I'm a real idiot."

"Chief, I think you're trusting. And I love that about you, but the Army has some deep cover operatives and I'm not letting them get their hands on your research." Jim put up his hand and brushed the unruly curls out of Blair's face. "Or you." Xander could practically feel the connection flare to life between them as they touched, Blair's face turning up to Jim, and in return, Jim's features softened. Xander felt his own loneliness grow in the face of that bond. And really, he wasn't about to be the one who made them turn on each other. Nope. Not going there. Well, not going there again, anyway, he amended that as he thought of his own parents.

"Guys, hey, strangely enough this is hardly the first time I've been tied up. As long as you don't try eviscerating me to summon the fires of hell, I'm weirdly okay with the chain," Xander offered. Jim turned to look at him with ice cold eyes.

"Good because you're staying there until I get some answers." He turned back and dropped a quick kiss on Blair's lips before heading for the door.

"Hey, wait," Xander called just as Jim reached out for the knob. He turned and looked at Xander with the same interest that Spike sometimes gave bugs right before smashing them. "What if I have to pee?" Xander asked as he pulled at the chain.

"Use a bucket." Jim pulled the door open and was gone before Xander could even protest.

"Well, I think your lessons on Sentinels have started. Lesson one, they get really pissy when they think their territory is being invaded," Blair sighed as he went back to the kitchen and started unpacking groceries… groceries that included way too many fresh fruits and vegetables for Xander's preference.

"Ya think?" Xander replied from his spot on the floor. Oh yeah, this was going to be like fun--only not.





Part Three



Manip by Lit Gal
Xander was starting to consider the bucket by the time the door opened and Jim walked through with an expression even grimmer than the one on his face when he left. Xander looked up from his nest of cushions where he was trying to read a huge binder Blair had loaned him. Okay, to be fair he sort of read two or three words, asked Blair a question, and then listened as Blair explained the stuff with more enthusiasm than Willow describing the atomic thingy during a convergence spell whatsit. Yeah, he didn't really listen to her, but he listened as Blair described a Jim who he hadn't yet met, a Jim who was noble and self-sacrificing and overprotective, and maybe he had seen a bit of that last one. And from the expression on Jim's face, he might be about to see more of that, but Xander really didn't know what would have put such a grim look on the Sentinel's face considering Xander really wasn't some top-secret super spy.

"As much as it pains me to say this, my bladder and I are very happy to see you," Xander said with a crooked smile despite the look of murder in Jim's face.

"Give me your hand," he ordered as he pulled out the keys. Xander stood up and offered his handcuffed hand.

"Told you," Blair loudly whispered from near the stairs where he stood with his own arms crossed. As long as he got to use a bathroom, Xander didn't care who told who what or when they'd told it. As soon as the handcuff came free, Xander darted toward the door where Blair had earlier flushed the toilet and nearly made Xander ask for that bucket.

After peeing about a gallon, Xander wandered out of the bathroom wondering what exactly he was going to have to face. At this point, he'd be happy with a quick order to get out of Dodge. Not that he would, but at least then he could grab his bag and call Blair from the relative safety of a hotel. However, when he opened the door, he found Jim standing in his way.

"Can we just avoid the touchage, more specifically, the man handling? Just tell me where you want me to sit, and I'll sit there -- no pushing, pulling, man handling, frisking, intimidating, or handcuffing required," Xander offered as he held up his hands in a show of surrender.

"I, uh, called around some," Jim answered, in Xander noticed both that the words weren't instructions as to where to sit and that Jim looked mildly... well, embarrassed was the closest word he could come up with.

"And I'm assuming you found out that I'm not some big government spy. 'Cause I'm not."

"Yeah. I found one or two people who could confirm that."

Xander waited for Jim to continue, but instead they stood with Xander in the bathroom and Jim right outside it. "Um, not to complain since this is actually better than my accommodations for the afternoon, but are we going to have this entire conversation in the bathroom?" Jim flinched a bit before backing off a step and waving a hand toward the living room. Xander slipped out of the bathroom keeping as far away from Jim as possible.

"Oh man, I knew he had nothing to do with the military. Don't you owe him something?" Blair asked without getting up from the couch. Xander made his way into the living room and sat in the chair.

"Oh, hey, no. No biggie, nothing to make the absolutely huge and still slightly cranky Sentinel apologize for," Xander hurried to say.

"Xander," Jim started in a tired voice as he walked into the living room.

"No, really, I mean it. All's fair in love and when being incredibly and completely overly protective." Xander really wasn't about to push things, especially with Jim still looking so cranky. He really didn't want to spend the night chained to the post.

"Xander, have you ever heard of The Initiative?" Jim demanded, and it was suddenly very clear that an apology was about the farthest thing from his mind.

"Maybe in an 'I really don't want to talk about it' kinda way," he admitted carefully. It was obvious that Jim could sense a lie, well, that and he really wasn't infallible. Xander definitely did not want to get into discussions about the Initiative around the guy. There were a couple of slayer secrets that did not need to go outside the group who had taken Adam down. Hell, he really didn't want to talk about Adam either. It really wasn't a good time what with Spike trying to break up the group and Adam trying to kill the group. Spike's words still stung at him a little.

"You sound a little defensive there, buddy."

"Oh hey, earned the right to be a little defensive here."

"Who is the Initiative?" Blair interrupted.

"Bad guys, well not really bad guys as much as totally clueless guys, but still. Whether they meant to be evil or not, they still kinda ended up doing evil stuff."

"That's what Major Finn suggested, just not in quite those words..." Jim said.

"Riley? He got promoted? Good on him. So now you know I'm telling the truth. Do we get to skip the Houdini impression... or the half of the Houdini impression. The chaining up half without the escape half since my powers of escape kind of suck."

"I want to hear your version. Who are the Initiative and what is your connection with them?"

"Hey! No connection at all, at least not after I helped blow up their little secret base."

"Whoa -- you blew up a government base?" Blair asked with wide eyes.

"Um, yeah but demons had taken over most of the place by then."

"Start from the beginning." Jim ordered as he leaned back on the couch his one arm resting on the back, and his hand resting on Blair's shoulder.

"Oh man, I'd love to hear that story," Blair added, and Xander smiled at the man he was quickly learning to see as a friend. The comment made him feel like he was just telling the story rather than getting interrogated by Ellison. He started at the point where a smoking and chipped Spike had shown up and kept talking until he got to Riley's last visit. Yeah, the one where Spike was sleeping with Buffy, and that didn't hurt him in the least. Not at all. Yeah, he was just going to keep telling himself that. And really he didn't know whether it was the secrecy part or the fact that Buffy said yes to Spike after turning him down or the fact that Spike said yes to Buffy after years of making fun of him. And really, this wasn't the time to try and figure it out.

Jim had just opened his third beer when Xander finally stumbled to a stop.

"Oh man," Blair whispered.

"Yeah, Chief, that pretty well covers it."

"So, is that pretty much what Riley told you?" Xander asked as he tried not to play with the hem of his shirt. Spike always told him it made him look like an insecure six-year-old being sent off to kindergarten. Xander had tried pointing out that five year olds went to kindergarten, not six-year-olds. Spike and just smirked wider and answered with an "Exactly" that it had taken Xander several minutes to figure out.

"There are parts that definitely don't match," Jim said slowly, and Xander opened his mouth to protest. Jim's voice cut him off," Which actually makes it more likely to be true. The only way two people ever describe an event the same way is if they practice their stories."

"No more chains?" Xander asked hopefully.

"No more chains." Blair answered definitively as he turned to glare at his partner. Jim looked back impassively and unapologetically.

"Of the good," Xander said to try and derail the growing tension.

"I am sorry about that, but you have to admit your story sounds a little..." Jim stopped.

"Completely, entirely fucking insane?" Xander added helpfully.

"Yeah, that," Jim conceded.

"So tomorrow the three of us are going to hit the field." Blair said excitedly.

Wha... no way. Simon is not going to sign off on a carpenter doing a ride along." Jim protested.

"So we don't tell him, but man, Xander cannot learn what he needs to know from books. He needs to be out there seeing how you work, learning how a Sentinel uses his senses, observing you as you defend your territory." Blair might have been impassioned in his words, but Jim's stony expression didn't change a bit.

"Um, I'm really not big on the book learning, so if I could learn things more hands-on..." Xander blushed at his own phrasing. He didn't think he wanted to get as hands-on as those two who had somehow moved closer together at some point so that Jim's whole arm was thrown over Blair shoulder and Blair's hand rested on Jim's thigh. The touching seemed so natural -- so unconscious -- that Xander couldn't resist watching longingly. And despite their clear frustration with each other, the touching continued.

"No," Jim insisted firmly. "This is Simon's job on the line if something happens."

"Oh man, this could make the difference between a life in an asylum and life as a functional Sentinel defending his territory for some Sentinel who the watcher's Council manages to find. The council has resources we can't dream of, and with a good enough understanding of Sentinel abilities they have a chance of finding and helping potential Sentinels. Think what would happen if no one had frowned and helped you. We have an obliga..."

"Chief this isn't..."

"The structure they set up to find potential slayers turned actual slayers could be easily adapted to make a global search for Sentinels using existing reporting agencies and some creative hacking..."

"That doesn't mean..."

"And if we can help them find and save other Sentinels, the ability to then empirically study this phenomenon in a larger population could give us clues about how to better protect Sentinels from zones outs or even the phenomenon you experienced when Alex came..."

"Chief," Jim growled, and Xander shrank back into the chair is the two men battled.

"Hey, it's no problem," Xander tried interrupting.

"Oh man, we cannot just keep ignoring the fact that she hijacked your senses. With a larger population..."

"Sandburg, we're not discussing this." Jim's expression came pretty close to the one that Angel would get right before he killed something that he really didn't want to kill. Xander shivered.

"Man, you cannot repress this away. With a larger sample population we could isolate the phenomenon."

"Enough," Jim said as he stood up from the couch, breaking the physical contact that had continued even into the fight.

"Says who?" Blair demanded as he stood.

"Chief, please," Jim said softly and Xander was amazed at the sudden transformation as Blair's mulish expression faded, and he reached out to touch Jim's arm. For several seconds they stood there touching, looking at each other.

"We can talk about it tomorrow, huh? Maybe with some sleep things will seem clearer. Hey, I know, maybe we can just use experiments and demonstrations with Xander after work," Blair suddenly compromised.

"We'll figure it out tomorrow," Jim promised as he reached up to rest a hand on Blair's shoulder, the fingers playing with a curl of hair. "Right now I just want to order some pizza, watch the game, and pretend vampires don't exist."

"I bought all the supplies for my ostrich chili and my mango walnut green salad."

"Pizza sounds good," Xander threw in at this point. What with a being chained to a post all afternoon and the having to watch the fight, he was having a bad enough day already. He really didn't need to cap things off by having to eat vegetables.

"Whatever, man. I just have two words for you guys: Heart Disease." Blair sighed and rolled his eyes, but he also sat on the couch without further complaints while Jim went over to the phone. At least something was going Xander's way today.




Index Next



Feed the Author

Visit the Author's
 Live Journal Visit
 the Author's Website

Home Categories New Stories Non Spander