Title: And the House Came Tumbling Down
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairing: Jim/Blair, Steven/Michael, Rafe/Lee, (preslash) William/Daniel (slash)
Summary: Keeping the faith.
Beta: By my sister Anna. All remaining errors are mine
And the House Came Tumbling Down
“Ow! Shit. Steven? Steven, wake up. Please, please don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.” The voice begged desperately. “Steven, please…” Steven moaned softly. “Oh, thank God. See Blair, he’s moving around. He’s not dead. Everything that landed on him didn’t kill him.”
“That berry good.”
Steven moaned again. Shoving the hands patting his chest away impatiently. “Stop molesting me,” he said, opening his eyes. He looked up into two faces streaked with tears, staring down at him worriedly.
Rafe gave him a relieved smile. “Wasn’t molesting you. I was just checking to make sure you were breathing.”
Steven sat up, eyes widening. “Holy shit. What the fuck happened to the roof?”
Rafe dusted him off. “I think most of it landed on you.”
“Hmm. Are you okay?”
Steven looked at his charges critically. Rafe had a cut over his left eyebrow. Blood coursing down the side of his face, dripping onto his torn shirt. The little Guide’s wide blue eyes, were open the widest Steven had ever seen and he was covered from head to foot in dust and debris. Steven took him gently into his arms, running his hands over Blair, checking for injuries.
“Are you okay, Blair? Do you hurt anywhere?”
“I is good. You?”
“It just kind of feels like I got run over by a semi.”
Rafe moved closer to them. “I felt something, I just didn’t know what it was.”
Steven noticed the fine trembling coursing through the young Sentinel. He pulled him close. “It’s okay, its over and we made it.”
Rafe moved into the comfort Steven readily offered. “Thanks to you,” he replied, again. “If you hadn’t shoved us into the doorway we’d be squashed flat. You covered us with your body. Kept us safe. If it hadn’t been for you we would have been killed.” He looked into what use to be their bedroom. Now a hollowed out shell, missing the far wall that use to have windows that held a great view of their backyard. All their belongings scattered and broken.
“Shh, don’t think about it. We’re alive. We’re together. That’s all that matters,” Steven told the now violently shivering Sentinel.
Rafe looked up at Steven his eyes widening in fear and no small amount or horror. “Steven, what about the rest of us? Lee? Jim? Michael? Your Dad? Sally? Daryl? Simon?” With each name Rafe’s eyes widened even more. “My parent? My brothers?” Steven watched the Sentinel’s eyes fill with tears. “My Guide? What about Lee?” he asked so pitifully it broke Steven’s heart.
“Shh, don’t. It’s okay.”
“How can it be okay? What if Lee is hurt o…or d…dead?” Rafe’s voice hitched.
Steven reached out a hand and gently wiped the blood still sluggishly coursing down the Sentinel’s pale face with his thumb.
“We have an advantage you may not have thought of.”
“What are you?” Steven asked, gently holding him by the back of the neck.
Steven placed his forehead against Rafe’s. “What are you, numbnuts?”
Rafe gave him a shaky smile. “A numbnut.”
Steven chuckled. “Besides that?” he gave him a tiny shake. “Come on, you’re not that dimwitted. Think about it.”
Suddenly Rafe’s face cleared of the confusion he was feeling. “Oh.”
Steven chuckled again. “Yes-oh.”
Rafe’s face darkened. “But…”
“No buts, buddy. We need to know. Good or bad we need to know. Can you do it?”
“I need my Guide. I can’t send my senses out just like that. Not with what just happened. It might send me into a zone.”
Steven looked at the little Guide in his lap. “Blair, can you steady Rafe? We need for him to do a search. See where everyone is and if they’re okay.”
Blair nodded, sending a cloud of dust up in the air. “Can do.”
Steven coughed. “First chance we get, you’re getting a bath. Rafe?”
Steven looked at the expectant face inches from his own. “Start slowly. Not to far. Start inside the house. Jim, Lee and Michael were in the kitchen when the earthquake hit. Find them first. Can you do that?”
Rafe nodded. “Yes.”
Steven smiled at him. “Good. It’s going to be okay. I promise you, it’s going to be okay.”
Rafe’s eyes filled with tears. “And if it’s not.”
Steven rested his forehead against Rafe’s again. “We have to believe it will be. Keep the faith,” he replied, before pulling away. “Now do your job.”
Rafe nodded. “Okay.”
Steven watched as the dark brown eyes closed, tears of fear and dread tracking though the dust and blood that covered Rafe’s face.
He kept silent as he watched. Blair moving into Rafe’s lap the minute he’d see the Sentinel’s eyes close. Rafe’s brows drew together, pulling the little Guide closer. The Sentinel’s trembling so severe it was moving them both.
Steven ran his hands up and down Rafe’s back, trying his best to offer comfort. Unable to hold back his own tears of worry.
“Heartbeats. I hear heartbeats?”
Rafe bit his lip in concentration. “Three. With five fainter ones.”
“Good. Good. Can you put names to the heartbeats?”
Rafe eyebrows furrowed even further. “I…”
Blair reached up a tiny hand placing it on the Sentinel’s cheek, centering him. “No try so hard. It come.”
Rafe nodded. “Okay.” Taking a deep breath he sent his senses out again. Reaching tentatively for the one closest to his soul. Afraid of what he might find. He gasped softly.
“What is it? What did you find?”
“Lee. I found Lee. He’s alive,” Rafe told Steven happily. Rafe sighed, letting the strong heartbeat of his Guide center and calm him.
“Is he hurt?”
Rafe let his senses travel over his unconscious Guide. “Yeah, his right arm his broken in two places and he’s got a lot of bruises and cuts,” he replied, with a soft sob.
“Shit.” Steven cursed softly. “We’ll get him taken care of when we can,” he told the heartbroken Sentinel. “Where’s Jim and Michael?”
Rafe licked at his dry lips. “Unconscious next to Lee.”
“Are they hurt?”
Steven touched Rafe’s trembling arm. “How bad? How bad are they hurt?”
“Jim’s left leg is broken. Michael’s got a concussion and a broken right arm. Both have cuts and bruises as bad as Lee, there’s blood everywhere,” Rafe’s voice hitched again. “Oh, God.”
“What? What is it?”
“Jim felt the earthquake. They were trying get to us when the house fell. Michael grabbed Wofie, Blackie and Barkie. While Lee went for Starsky and Hutch.”
“How do you know?”
“The cats and dog are right next to them. Barkie’s trying to wake Michael. He’s licking his face.”
Renewed tears leaked passed his tightly closed eyes. “They’re hurt too.”
“Barkie’s got a broken right paw. Blackie’s got cuts and deep bruising. Wolfie’s got two big gashes on his back from where a piece of glass cut him.”
“Starsky and Hutch?”
“There okay. They’re still in their cages. Lee managed to keep them safe.”
“Well that’s good. Rafe, I want you to try and wake Jim.”
Rafe opened his eyes and looked at Steven incredulously. “How the fuck am I suppose to do that? Ow!” he said when Blair smacked him on the arm.
“No cuss,” Blair told him angrily, blue eyes sparking indignantly.
“Okay, sorry,” Rafe replied contritely.
“Sorry.” Rafe looked at Steven. “How are we going to do that? Blair’s not close enough to release scent. And I really don’t think we can get out of here without help. The staircase is gone.” He sent his senses out testing the building that use to be their home. “It’s unstable, if we move from this spot it’ll send us crash to the first floor. How did you know, Steven?”
Steven pulled Blair back into his arms. “Know what?”
“That this was the safest place to be?”
Steven gently kissed his baby brother on the forehead. “Rodney said it on an episode of Stargate Atlantis.”
“A TV show,” Rafe said weakly.
“Hey, don’t knock it. He keeps saying he’s the smartest person in two galaxies and it saved our sorry butts.” Steven spit out dirt. “Damn, Blair you have got to be the biggest dust bunny in the world. But you know what?”
Blair looked up at him. “What?”
“You’re the cutest.”
The little Guide giggled. “Silly Stevie.”
Steven hugged him close. “Yeah, I know.” He noticed the wistful look Rafe’s face. “Wanna hug?”
“If it’s not to much trouble.”
“Of course not, you big sissy,” Steven told him, pulling him toward them. “I could use a big, manly hug too.”
Rafe smiled as he wrapped his arms around Steven and Blair. “Manly hug?”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t want you to think I’ve got designs on your person.”
Rafe buried his head against Steven’s neck. “I wouldn’t mind.”
“You wouldn’t, would you?”
“Na. I’d kinda like it actually.”
Steven nuzzled a head covered by so much dirt it’s true color was hidden. “Maybe when we’re older and know what the hell we’re doing.”
“Hmm-yeah?” Rafe said, sighing at the gentle touch. It helped with the overwhelming fear that had become a part of his life. Steven’s touch always had a way of doing that.
“What about Michael?” Rafe asked, rubbing his nose against Steven’s.
Steven chuckled softly, rubbing back. “The perv would love it.”
“Yup. What about Lee?”
Rafe rested his lips against Steven’s. “Lee loves you and Michael. You have a very special place in his heart. A place I can’t touch.”
“You jealous?” Steven asked, softly, pulling back slightly to look into the Sentinel’s eyes.
“Na. I can understand why he loves you.”
“You can?” Steven tugged gently on Rafe’s earlobe.
“Yeah. I kinda care about you the same way and some day I’d like to share that place with you. Could I maybe get a kiss? Everyone’s always kissing Lee and forgetting all about me. I like kisses.” Rafe said wistfully. “And I could really use a cuddle too. I’ve had a really, really bad last few months.”
Steven chuckled softly. “It can be arranged and yeah-you have.” He nuzzled the soft lips, before pulling Rafe close. “How’s that?”
“Nice. Can I get hugs and cuddles whenever I want?” Rafe asked hopefully. “Like Lee does? I could really use them now and then.”
“Sure you can. You don’t even have to ask.” Steven frowned. “Why are you asking?”
Rafe looked away, almost shyly. “I didn’t think that I deserved it. And everyone thinks I’m an asshole. Ouch! Sorry Blair,” he said, when the little Guide smacked him again.
“You not. No call names. Blair no like. Want kisses?”
“Yeah,” Rafe told the now kneeling Guide.
“I give. I give lots and lots of kisses. No be hungry for hugs and kisses eber ‘gain.”
Rafe felt his eyes fill with tears. “Thank you, Blair.” He looked over at Steven who was smiling at him. “Can we wait until we’re down from here? ‘Cause I’m going to need a lot of them. And we still need to wake Jim.”
Steven pulled Rafe against him. “Yeah, it can wait,” he replied, pulling the Sentinel tightly against him. “I love you, Rafe. Try and remember that. Especially when I’m trying to knock some sense into that dimwitted brain of yours.”
“Hey!” Blair said indignantly, pulling at Steven’s arms.
“I want hug and kiss Rafe. I no wanna wait. Moves ober.”
Steven smiled. “Okay.” Chuckling softly when Blair began kissing Rafe’s face, not caring in the least that it was cover in dirt and blood.
“Better?” Blair asked the slightly dazed Sentinel. Rafe had never had Blair’s kinda kisses before. Now he knew what Jim felt when the little Guide got really affectionate. It was like being wrapped up in a cuddly, curly-haired blanket that knew how to give kisses. It felt great. Soul warming, even.
“Yeah,” Rafe sighed happily, the goofiest look on his face. “Oh, yeah.”
Steven ran his hand up and down his back. “Are you feeling well loved?” he gently teased.
Rafe gave him a shaky smile. “Oh, yeah.”
“Good. Wanna try waking Jim now?” Steven asked, edging to look over the side of their ledge. There really wasn’t all that much left of their home. “Shit, we’re lucky we didn’t get killed.”
Steven looked at him questioningly. “What?”
Rafe edged over with him, looking down, forgetting what he was going to ask. “Oh, God.”
Steven placed a hand against his arm. “Easy. We’ve already been through this.”
“I know, but…”
Steven smiled at him. “Feeling your mortality?”
“Me too. Let’s push that aside for now and wake Jim. We still need to find Dad and the others. But we need Jim to help get us down from here.”
“How do you figure that?”
Steven gave him an incredulous look. “You really are a dumbass, aren’t you?”
Rafe sighed. “There you go again with the name calling. It’s no wonder I have an inferiority complex and need to be constantly told I’m loved.”
“You don’t have an inferiority complex. You’re a Sentinel, it isn’t in your genetic make-up.”
“Then what’s the feeling of worthlessness I got.”
Steven reached out and gently cupped the side of Rafe’s face. “That’s ‘cause your Guide is unconscious and hurt. Once we get down and you’re with him, you’ll be as egotistical and self-serving as always.”
“I’m not like that,” Rafe told him indignantly. “I just happen to know what I want.”
“Which you ain’t getting any of.”
Rafe’s eyes looked at Steven incredulously. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
“Nevertheless it’s true,” Steven told him unrepentantly.
“Well yeah, but there’s no need to keep reminding me. Kicking me when I’m down is not cool.”
Steven’s hand went to the back of Rafe’s neck. “You’re not down, just on your knees from getting tossed around a little. You’ll get right back up or you wouldn’t be a Sentinel.”
Rafe looked at him suddenly remembering what he was going to ask. “Steven…”
“Do you remember when you said that we could…you know when we get older.”
Steven eyes narrowed as he contemplated the Sentinel. “Yeah.”
Rafe reached over and gently patted Steven’s chest. “Hmm, if Lee won’t hmmm….would you consider…”
Steven placed his hand over Rafe’s. “Hell no,” he replied softly, when he realized what the Sentinel was asking.
Rafe sighed softly. “Gotta wait for Lee?”
“You won’t reconsider?”
Steven moved Rafe’s hand up allowing the Sentinel to feel his heartbeat. “No.”
Rafe sighed again. “It was worth a try.”
Steven chuckled. “Yeah it was. Cute even.”
“What was cute?”
“You going all red like that. Really cute. It’s the first time anyone’s tried to seduce me. Rafe?” Steven said, opening his arms.
The young Sentinel went into them. “Yeah?”
Steven held him close, kissing his forehead. “I will give you what you need to a certain point. I won’t ever cross the line, not for you, not for anyone. For any reason and you know why. But I want you to remember what I told you earlier.”
“You love me?”
“Yeah, very much. But I won’t hesitate to kick your ass if you try it again. Clear?”
Rafe rested his forehead against Steven’s, lips reaching for a kiss, readily given.
“Clear,” he whispered. “Do we wake Jim now?”
Waking Jim wasn’t as easily as they would have liked. Blair told them that his Sentinel had gone into a zone caused by the pain of his broken leg.
“Can you bring him out of it from here?” Steven asked, holding the worried little Guide in his arms.
Blair shook his head. “No can do. To far. Need to scent.” He looked up, blue eyes shimmering with tears. “Need hurry. No be able to help if wait to long. Jim die.”
Steven bit his lip as he thought about it. “Blair, can Lee help bring Jim out of the zone.”
Blair nodded. “Yup. Not same as me, but Lee can help.”
“How the hell are we going to wake Lee? We’re three floors up.”
Rafe looked over the edge. “There has to be a way down.”
Steven pulled him back. “Not from here. We’re trapped. Shit, shit, shit.” He said in frustration. “If there’s another earthquake, we’re going to be truly fucked. And then there’s the aftershocks. They haven’t even started yet.”
“Can you do the telepath thingie with Michael? Is it still working?”
Steven looked at Rafe in amazement. “Know what, Rafe?”
Steven pulled Rafe toward him and gave the Sentinel a kiss that left him breathless. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re a stupid Sentinel.”
When Rafe was released, he shook his head dazedly. “No one ever tells me that but you.”
“Well, that’s okay then.” Steven closed his eyes. *Michael?” Nothing. *Come on, baby. Wake up* Still nothing. *I know you’re hurt, but you need to fight past that, sweetheart. We’ve got a job to do and not much time to do it in.*
Michael moaned softly.
*That’s it sweetheart. Fight through the pain. Don’t be a sissy. Wake up.* Steven could feel the effort Michael was making to open his eyes. It hurt him in ways he couldn’t even begin to describe. *I know you’re hurt. But you need to wake up. NOW.*
Michael swallowed heavily. Moaning again at the overwhelming pain that brought him to crashing awareness. “Ah!”
“Oh, man. I’ve got a shit of a headache. And I hurt all over. God damn, my arm really hurts.”
*I know sweetheart. That’s cause it’s broken and you’ve got a concussion.”
Michael hissed as he tried to sit up. “Ah.”
Michael ran his head over his curly hair, wincing when he came across a golf ball size lump. “Ow.”
Steven winced with him. *I’m sorry, baby.*
“Why are you sorry? Did you hit me with something?”
Steven chuckled. *Yeah, a house.*
Michael blinked as he tried to clear the haze from his eyes. “Oh, man,” he said when he saw the destruction. “There’s nothing left.”
“Where are you?”
*In the doorway of what use to be our bedroom. We’re safe for now. But you need to wake Lee. Jim’s gone into a zone because of his broken leg.*
*Blair. Where’s Blair.” Michael asked, panicking. “Jim can’t live without his little Guide. Where’s Blair? Where the hell is Blair?”
*Blair’s safe. But he’s to far to scent Jim to bring him out of the zone. You need to wake Lee.*
Michael moved over to where Lee lay so silent and still. “Oh, man.”
“He covered in blood.”
*He’s got a broken arm, too. So wake him carefully.*
“Okay. Lee? Lee? Come on sweetheart, wake up.” Michael moved the pieces of debris that had landed on the young Guide. “Come on, baby. You need to wake up. Jim’s gone into a zone. Wake up. Please wake up. We don’t have much time before he’ll be to far into the zone to bring him out of it.” Lee opened his eyes, looking up at the body builder. Clearly not awake and functioning.
Michael afraid to move him waited anxiously. Finally. “M…Michael?”
The bodybuilder gave him a shaky smile. “Yeah, sweetheart. You wake?”
Lee tried to sit up, hissing in pain. “Sort of. It hurts enough to tell me that-yeah, I’m awake.”
Michael chuckled, pulling the Guide against him. “Good.”
“Rafe? Rafe. Where’s my Sentinel?” Lee asked, anxiously.
“He’s okay. Jim’s not, you need to wake him. He’s gone into a zone.”
Lee looked over to at Jim. It looked like he was barely breathing. “Okay. Okay,” he said, slowly moving over to where the Sentinel lay. “Ow!”
He moved as close as he could carefully cradling his arm, he began releasing scent. At first nothing happened.
“It’s not working.” He looked at Michael his blue eyes darkening to almost purple in worry. “Michael, it’s not working.”
The body builder closed his eyes as be talked to Steven. After a long moment he opened them. “Steven said that Blair wants you to release the bonding scent as well.”
“Can I do that? Is that allowed? Jim’s not my Sentinel.”
“You don’t have much choice. Blair can’t do it. And we don’t have much time before Jim goes so far into the zone we’ll never be able to get him back. Try.”
Lee lay as close as he could to the unconscious Sentinel and began releasing the bonding scent. Not sure it would work, desperately hoping it would.
Nothing happened at first. Then suddenly Jim’s eyes snapped open and he flipped Lee over ignoring the sound of pain the Guide made as Jim began hungrily seeking out the life-giving scent Lee was releasing.
He began keening softly, tears of pain coursing down his face. Knowing this wasn’t the bonding scent of his Guide, yet unable to stop himself. He buried his face deeper into Lee’s neck as he sought to stabilize himself.
*Michael? Michael? Answer me god-damn it.*
*Did it work? Is Jim alright?*
*Yeah, he came out of the zone.*
Michael could feel the mental sigh of relief Steven gave. *Cool.*
The bodybuilder smiled. *Yeah,* he replied, watching Jim finally pull away from the Guide sitting up carefully.
*Could you maybe get us down from here?*
“Jim, do you feel better?”
The young Sentinel ran unsteady fingers through his hair. “Yeah.”
“We need to get Blair, Steven and Rafe down.”
Jim shook his head trying to clear it. “Okay, give me a second.” When he felt a little more stable he turned to Lee. “Thank you.”
Lee smiled at him shyly. “You’re welcome.”
Jim returned it. “I didn’t hurt you did I?”
“I was already hurt, its okay.”
Jim sighed softly, looking up to where he knew his Guide, brother and Rafe were trapped. “We need to get them down before the aftershocks hit. I can already feel them building.”
“How? They’re three stories up,” Michael asked carefully rubbing his head. He had a mother of a headache and his arm really, really hurt.
Jim looked around their devastated home. “Give me a second.” He licked his dry lips again. “We need something, something to help get them down.”
“Jim, how are we going to do that? Your leg is broken,” Lee asked in concern.
“We do what we have to,” Jim replied, trying desperately to rise, hissing in pain.
Michael and Lee helped him to his feet. “What do you want to do?”
“Get as close as we can to where the others are,” When they were just above where Blair, Steven and Rafe waited he turned to the Guide watching him with wide, frightened eyes. “Lee, before we do anything to help them you need to do something first?”
“Can you and Michael see to our pets? Get them to safety. Hurry, we don’t have much time before the aftershocks hit. The rest of the house is going to come down.”
Michael and Lee hurried to see after their pets. Jim watched them go for a minute before looking up. “Steven, can you hear me?”
“Are you alright?”
“After having a roof fall on top of me, yeah-I guess.”
Jim frowned. “When were you planning on telling the others about your broken ribs?”
The Sentinel heard Rafe gasp of shock clearly. “Watchman. Don’t,” Steven warned. “just don’t.”
“You’re hurt, Steven. How the hell did you manage to hide that from Rafe?”
“I have my ways. Besides we have better things to do than talk about me.”
“Not now, Watchman. Can you get us down before the aftershocks hit?”
Jim looked around the living room, trying desperately to find something that would help. Nothing. Damn it, there was nothing and the aftershock were building.
Suddenly he felt a chill run down his spine. Like a gentle touch calling his attention to it. Knowing now what he had to do, he closed his eyes, allowing the feelings to build, seeking it. Reaching out for it with a desperation he’d never known.
Blue light began to shimmer all around him. Every now and then a spark flashed inside the light, darkening to a midnight blue till the Sentinel could not be clearly seen within.
Lee and Michael came running back into the room just as the blue light had darkened covering Jim.
“What’s happening?” Lee asked softly.
Michael smiled. “He’s drawing on the power of every Sentinel and Guide on the planet. With their help he’s protecting what’s his.”
“He can do that?”
“Oh, yeah and more. Right now he’s drawing in so much power he could rebuild the god-damn house if he wanted.”
“Michael?” Steven yelled from above.
“Is Jim glowing?”
Michael nodded. “Oh, yeah, a real pretty blue color?”
“Don’t touch him.”
“What, do I look stupid?” Steven shouted in annoyance.
“Don’t know right now, baby. I’ll let you know later.”
“Ass,” Steven replied, the affection in his voice clearly heard even three stories up. “Michael?”
“Tell Lee to touch Jim. He can without get the shit shocked out of him. Blair said it’s okay. He’s sitting in Rafe’s lap playing with the sparkly things that keep going off.”
Michael turned toward Lee, but the Guide was already inside the blue light with Jim. “He’s already in there with him.”
“We wait until he has enough power to do what he has to.”
Michael looked up. “Do you think every Sentinel and Guide on the planet is glowing blue right about now?”
“Yup. Must be really cool.”
“I love you.”
Michael felt his eyes fill with tears. “I love you too, baby. Very, very much.”
“You can give me flowers if you want.”
Michael wiped at his eyes with the hand that didn’t hurt. “Yeah?”
“Yeah, I won’t mind anymore.”
“Okay. First chance I get I’ll get you the biggest bouquet of flowers the flower shop has.”
Suddenly the light vanished leaving Jim with Lee held protectively in his arms. Only the Sentinel and Guide were no longer young boys, but grown men. The same thing that’d happened when Naomi tried to take Blair had happened again, only this time it included Lee.
“Lee is going to grow up to be beautiful. Really, really beautiful,” Michael replied in awe. “And Jim-hot damn.”
Steven chuckled from above. “Rain it in hornball.”
“I can’t help it. You should see them.”
“What are they doing?”
“Staring at me, staring at them.”
“Ah. Alright.” Steven sighed. “Means I gotta kick start Jim’s sorry ass. Watchman? Come on, Watchman. Get us down from here before it’s too late. You know like- NOW.”
Jim smiled. “No need to get impatient, Stevie. I’ve got it all under control.”
“How, Watchman? You’re pretty boy looks?”
Jim chuckled. “Jealous?”
Jim looked up. “And besides how can you tell I’m pretty, you can’t see me?”
“Because Michael’s drooling over you and Lee?”
“Like I said, jealous?”
“Fuck no. Get us down, so I can kick your ass.”
Jim’s only response was to chuckle once again. “I love you too, Stevie.”
“Yeah, yeah whatever. I love you too, Watchman,” Was the begrudging response. “Down, now.”
“Alright. Stevie, I want you, Lee and Blair to come over to the edge.”
“It’s not stable, Watchman.”
Jim rubbed his eyebrow, frowning. “I’ve stabilized it, Stevie. But you have to hurry. The aftershocks are about to start. And the one that’s about to hit is going to bring down the rest of the house.”
“Aren’t you the best Sentinel the World has ever seen? Can’t you stop them?”
“No, it’s not allowed. Natural progression. I can protect what is mine and that’s the only reason I’m allowed this.”
Three anxious faces looked down at him. Streaked with blood, sweat and no small amount of tears.
“Jim,” Blair said happily.
The Sentinel smiled. “Hi ya, baby. Are you okay?”
“I is good. Stevie protect. He took roof for us. He berry, berry good Protector. He da berry best.”
Steven turned to him. “You think so?”
Blair kissed his nose. “I knows so.”
Steven blinked. “Ah, baby brother,” he replied, not sure how to respond to the overwhelming love he saw in Blair’s beautiful blue eyes.
“Thank you, Stevie,” Jim whispered up, his gratitude clear even with the space that separated them.
“No problem, Watchman,” Steven replied, wincing.
Jim frowned. “Ribs aching much, Stevie?”
Steven rolled his eyes. “Give it a fucking rest will you, Watchman? Get us down.”
“Alright, but this isn’t over.”
“Fuck it is,” Steven insisted.
“Fuck it isn’t.”
Steven gasped, staring down in shock, before turning toward Blair. “Did you hear that? Jim cussed.”
Blair nodded, releasing a cloud of dust. “I hear. No like,” he replied glaring down.
Michael watching quietly chuckled. “Oh, you are in so much trouble, now,” he told the Sentinel.
Jim smiled up at his little Guide. “Yup. Okay, Rafe first. Jump.”
Rafe looked down. “What?” he asked in amazement.
Rafe shook his head. “No fucking way. Ow! Blair I got enough bruises I don’t need any more.”
Blair glared at him. “I tell no cuss. No listen. I hit. Beside Jim say jump, you jump.”
Rafe shook his head again. “I’m hurt and still getting beat up. The world hates me, I just know it.”
Steven next to him chuckled. “No one hates you, dumbass. But you need to jump.”
“You all hate me. I know you do.” Rafe insisted. “You want me to jump three stories so that I’ll go ‘splat’ into what’s left of the living room floor. I want to live. Live, I tell you.”
Steven rubbed his hand up and down Rafe’s back soothingly. “You’re such a woose. Your Guide is down there.” He enticed softly. “Don’t you want to be with him?”
Rafe glared at him. “Don’t treat me like I’m a baby. I’m a Sentinel.”
Steven grinned at him. “Is there a difference?”
Rafe rolled his eyes. “Do you know how much I hate you?”
Steven nodded, still smiling at him. “Huh-huh.”
Rafe looked down, fighting the wave of dizziness. Seeing his Guide for the first time since the earthquake. “Oh, my God.”
Steven looked over. “What? What?”
“Michael’s not kidding, he’s beautiful and Jim’s not so bad either.”
“Hi, Rafe,” Lee said shyly, blushing a bright pink.
“H…hi,” The Sentinel replied tongue-tied.
“Do you want to jump now?” Steven asked urged. “Knowing Lee’s waiting for you down there.”
“No. I’m still not jumping.”
“It’s okay. You’re not going to get hurt,” Lee told Rafe giving him a brilliant smile. “I would never tell you to do something that would hurt you.”
Rafe looked down. “Are you sure?” he asked, not fully convinced.
Rafe stood up. “Are you sure about this?” Both Jim and Lee nodded. “Okay, but if I end up a big red mark on the floor I’m coming back as a ghost to make your life a living nightmare.”
Jim nodded again. “Duly noted. Jump.”
Rafe closed his eyes and with a supreme act of confidence he wasn’t feeling-jumped. His eyes snapped open when he seemed to be caught in mid air. Invisible arms wrapped around him keeping him safe as they lead him toward the waiting Sentinel, Michael and his very own, very beautiful Guide.
Jim smiled as he was gently placed in front of them. “Cool, huh?”
“Oh, yeah,” Rafe replied, looking at his Guide. “Lee, are you okay?”
“I’m alright. You?” Lee asked gently touching his Sentinel’s forehead.
Rafe flinched slightly. “I’m okay. Steven took the brunt of the roof falling in on us. He saved our lives. Wow, you’re beautiful. Are you sure you’re for me?”
Lee nodded again. “I am yours.”
Rafe reached out an unsteady hand, heartened when Lee held still for his touch. “What did I do to deserve someone as beautiful as you?”
Lee moved his face into the gentle caress. “You are my Sentinel, my love, my heart. You are Rafe.”
“Stop with the fucking mushy stuff. There’s two of us still trapped up here,” Steven shouted down in annoyance.
“Sorry,” Rafe replied, looking up. “Who’s next?” he asked Jim.
The little Guide didn’t need to be told twice. Standing quickly, he jumped with a heart- stopping lack of concern. Flying straight into his Sentinel’s waiting arms like a curly haired Peter Pan.
“Hi, Jim,” he told his Sentinel with a happy smile.
“Hi ya, Baby. You okay?”
Blair nodded sending up a cloud of dust into the air, making his Sentinel sneeze. “Bless you.”
Jim kissed Blair little nose. “Why thank you, Baby. I love you, do you know that?”
Blair nodded, causing another sneeze. “I dos. But knows what?”
Jim wrapped Blair into his arms, pulling him close, sighing happily. “No, what?”
“I love you da bestest of all.” Jim buried his nose in his little Guide’s hair, making Blair giggle when it made him sneeze. “Yucky, you put boogers in my hair.”
Jim pulled Blair away slightly. “I don’t have boogers, I’ll have you know,” he replied, kissing him on the forehead.
Any response the little Guide would have made was interrupted by an irritated voice coming from above.
“Look, as touching as all these reunions are I’d like to get down from here. Hopefully before I get squashed by the rest of the house falling on top of me or falling to what will be a very messy painful death.”
Jim pulled Blair higher. “Alright, Steven. Jump.”
“About freakin’ time,” Steven said, taking a dive over the side. “Oh, man, that was so cool. Do you think that the powers that be will let you keep that neat little trick when this is all over?” Steven asked, as he landed just in front of his brothers. “It’d be really cool to play with later. You know, when we weren’t about to get squashed by what use to be our home.”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“Hum, to bad. That was fun,” Steven replied, going up to Michael, smiling up at him as the bodyguard gathered him carefully, gently into his arms. “Hi,” he told him softy.
“Hi, Steven. Are you okay?”
“Steven,” Jim growled. “You’re not.”
Steven looked over at his brother from the comfort of Michael’s arms. “Let! It! Fucking! Go! Watchman.”
“Tell, Michael how many of your ribs are broken. About the bruises covering your back and thighs. And how close you came to getting hurt really bad inside, when you threw yourself on top of Blair and Rafe.”
“Steven?” Michael asked questioningly, worry darkening his blue-green eyes.
“We don’t need to talk about this now. We need to get out of here. Find Dad and the others. They may need Jim’s special powers and we don’t know how long the powers that be will let him have them.”
Michael cupped Steven’s face in his hands. “Do you need looking after?”
“Yeah,” Steven admitted, readily if not reluctantly. “But right now isn’t the time.”
“Alright,” Michael replied softly. “Let’s get out of here.”
They had just reached the backyard. “Here it comes,” Jim yelled as the ground began to shake violently. “Hold steady. It’s going to get rough.”
They held on to each other as the ground around them trembled. Pulling trees from the ground and sending debris flying everywhere.
None of it touched the terrified boys. At one point Steven would have sworn that a piece of tree had come flying at them. Head buried against Michael’s chest, holding on for dear life, he looked over at Jim. His brother’s eyes were closed. Blair against his brother’s big chest. Rafe right next to him, eyes closed as well almost as if praying, his Guide so close they could have been one person.
It was then that Steven realized that Jim had known they didn’t have the time to get far enough away to be safe. Injured as they were they would never have been able to out run the aftershocks or the damaged they were going to rain on them. Jim was making a stand in the yard of what had been their home. Here and now the Sentinel would protect what was his.
Jim and Rafe were combining their powers, with the help of their Guides, they were channeling it to make sure they survived. Steven watched what remained of the house they called home, fall. Sending more debris and dust flying at them. He tightened his arms around Michael, receiving an answer as strong arms pulled him close.
Small explosions began happening. Steven knowing it was gas lines finally breaking from the strain. Electricity poles came lose from the ground, freeing their wires. Sending live current snapping violently all around them.
“Oh, God. If we survive this I promise not to do another bad thing for as long as I live. I’ll even learn to be nice to my Sentinels. I swear,” Steven whispered hoarsely.
Michael pulled him closer. “Shh, you’ll distract them. And besides they’d go into shock if you were ever anything other than who you are.”
Steven looked up at him. “I’m scared, Mikey.”
Michael cupped his face gently as the ground around them rose and ebbed like waves on the ocean.
“I know you are, sweetheart,” he told him looking into wide, terrified blue eyes. “I am too. But your pairings are doing the impossible to keep us safe. You know something?”
“Scared is not a good look on you.”
Seven snorted. “Shit. You’re lucky I’m still young.”
“Cause I’m still holding on to my bladder. And it ain’t easy let me tell you. This is worst than a roller coaster ride. And-I hate roller coasters,” Steven flinched as electrical wires whipped around them like angry hissing snakes, barely missing them.
“It’s going to be okay. Jim and Rafe have it all under control and it can’t last much longer.”
Steven peeked out from the haven of Michael’s chest. Jim and Rafe were now holding hands as they concentrated on keeping them alive. As everything they knew and loved shattered and broke around them.
Blair and Lee were doing their part. The look on their faces was just as intense. Steven could see Blair’s little hand on Jim’s cheek, centering him. Talking so softly Steven couldn’t make out the words the little Guide was speaking. Lee was doing the same for Rafe.
Steven flinched again as the ground under them heaved, sending trees that had been in the ground for generations high into the air.
One of them coming straight for them. Jim and Rafe sensing it, turned. It pulverized before it reached them, sending clouds of pine-scented dust all over them.
Suddenly it stopped. The silence eerie after the loud bone shattering noise of a few moments before.
“Is it over?” Steven asked, gagging at the overwhelming scent of pine.
“Yeah, I think it is,” Michael replied softly, looking around at the devastation.
“I think you might have to pry me off of you. I can’t seem to get my hands to let go.”
“Why would I want to do that? I like it.”
Steven forced himself to let go. “Perv. We got a lot to do. We still need to find Dad and the others.”
“Yeah. Let’s see to our pairings.”
Steven and Michael approached the Sentinel/Guide pairings. “Watchman, are you okay?”
Jim opened his eyes slowly. “Yeah, Stevie-I’m alright. You?”
“Good. Thanks to you and Rafe.”
The Sentinel gave him a brilliant smile. “I could do no less for my Protectors. You aren’t the only one that can protect when you have to.”
Steven touched Jim’s arm. “You did good, Jim. All of you did,” Steven replied, looking around at his pairings. “Thank you.”
“I love you. No matter what age I am, I will always love you.”
Steven ran his hand up and down the Sentinel’s heavily muscled forearm. “I know that, Watchman.”
“And I will do my very best to protect you the way you protect me.” Jim waved his free hand between them. “Protect all of us.” Blue eyes intent as they looked down at his brother. “That is my solemn vow to you. To Michael.”
Steven gave his brother a watery smile. “Thank you, Jimmy. I love you very, very much.”
“I know. That is one of the true constants in my life.” Jim gave him a brilliant smile. “Lets go get Dad and Daniel.”
Steven wiped his eyes. “Are they okay?”
“Fine. Cuts and bruises. Nothing to serious. They made it through the earthquake and aftershock. They were coming home after picking Sally up at the store. The car flipped over two blocks from the house.” Jim looked at the pile of rubble. “What use to be our house. Their seatbelt kept them from getting to hurt, but we need to get them out.”
“Okay lets go get them. We can come back for our pets in a little bit. Their safe right?” Smiling when the Sentinel nodded. Steven started walking in the direction Jim pointed at. “So how long will the powers that be let you do this?”
“Till the job is done.”
Steven’s eyes widened in alarm. “There’s going to be more?”
Jim shook his head, lifting his little Guide higher in his arms. “The worst of it is over. The aftershocks that are left are little ones. They won’t cause any damage. Why?”
Steven sidestepped a huge branch. “Why what?”
“Why did you ask how long I was going to have my powers?”
Jim’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “You don’t ask, just to ask. Why?”
Steven took a hold of Michael’s hand as they continued to walk. “No reason.”
He turned to smile at his brother. “Well if you must know. I think Rafe’s right.”
“Me?” Rafe chimed in surprise. “You’re saying I’m right?”
Steven gave his a mischievous smile. “Course. Even you can be right sometimes. Hard as that might be to believe.”
“Oh. H…Hmm, cool. What am I right about?”
Everyone turned to look at the Sentinel. “What? What? Why is everyone staring at me?” Jim asked, nervously.
“Because Rafe was right,” Lee replied, taking hold of Rafe’s hand, kissing it gently.
Rafe smiled at his Guide goofily. “Thanks, but what was I right about?”
“About Jim, you doofus,” Steven replied in exasperation.
“What. About. Me?” Jim yelled in annoyance.
“You’re going to grown up to be a very handsome devil.”
Jim stopped walking to look at his brother. “What?”
“Yup, you’re going to be a real beauty and if I wasn’t already taken I’d make a play for you myself.”
“What, now you’ve gone deaf?” Jim blinked at his brother, completely and totally at loss for words. Steven smiled at him. “Cat got your tongue?”
“Y…you are a first class perv? Do you know that?” Jim finally managed, blushing a bright, vibrant pink.
Steven wiggled his eyebrows at his brother. “You have no idea.”
Jim cleared his throat. “I do now. I should let Blair kick your butt. You’d that wouldn’t you, Blair? Defend my honor?”
“Yups,” Blair looked at Steven growling menacingly, nose crinkling pertly and very cutely.
Steven chuckled, holding up his hands. “Okay, your virtue is safe for the time being.”
Rafe smiled as he watched the brothers, suddenly remembering. “Jim?”
“What about my family?” Rafe asked worriedly. “My Mom and Dad? Brothers?”
Steven rolled his eyes. “You can be a real dumbass?”
“What do you mean by that?” Rafe asked offended.
“What are you?”
Rafe looked at Steven in confusion. “Huh?”
“What the fuck are you?”
The confusion cleared. “Oh.”
Steven shook his head, sadly. “I don’t know how you keep forgetting. You keep reminding everyone about it enough.”
Rafe smiled at his sheepishly. “Sorry.”
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Check on your family.”
Rafe closed his eyes, sending out his senses. Lee close by making sure he didn’t zone. After a moment they opened. Smiling at them. “They’re okay. Everyone is okay,” he said happily. “Cut, bruises. The house is damaged quite a bit, but everyone is alright.”
“Cool,” Steven told him rubbing his arm with his free hand.
“What about Mattie and my Dad,” Michael asked softly. “Can someone check for me?”
Jim closed his eyes. “They’re okay. Same as Rafe’s family. They were together when the quake hit. They’re okay.”
“What about Simon and Daryl?” Steven asked his brother.
Jim frowned as he sent out his senses. “Simon had a really bad cut on his arm. It’s bleeding a lot, but he’s at the hospital and they’re getting ready to stitch it. Daryl’s sitting right next to him. He’s got a broken leg, cuts and bruises, too.”
“Everyone is kinda banged up, but okay. Everyone survived.” Steven smiled. “That’s so cool.”
Jim returned the smile. “Yeah it is.”
Steven stopped walking to look at his brother in wonder. “We made it.”
“Yeah, we did,” Jim told him softly.
“We’re going to be okay.”
Jim’s smile deepened as he looked over his battered and bleeding family and friends. “Yeah, we are.”
“We have no home.”
“No, but we have each other and that’s all the home we need.”