Title: Zoos, Cotton Candy and Little Guides
Pairing: Jim/Blair (very preslash)
Summary: See title.
Note: Part 3 in the Littlest Guide universe.
Zoos, Cotton Candy and Little Guides
“Hey, Baby-whatyadoin’?” Jim asked as he came down the stairs.
“Coloring wiff Steven,” Came the calm response. Not taking into account that the little Guide had a gray and white kitten named Wofie happily sitting on his back, nibbling on his curly hair.
“Oh,” Jim looked around. “Where’s Steven?”
“Went kitchen for milk and cookies.”
Just then Steven walked through the door precariously carrying a tray and two glasses of milk. “Hey, Jim. Want some cookies? Sally just made them. They’re butterscotch. Get your own milk, I’m not sharing mine.”
“Blair will share his. Won’t you, Blair?”
“Yups.” Just then Blair sneezed, sending the kitten tumbling to the floor. Good thing the floor wasn’t that far. It had been surprisingly easy to get the kitten accepted into the household, especially when Sally and Jim and Steven’s dad had found out it was for Blair. No surprise there.
Jim frowned. “Are you okay, Baby?”
“I good,” Blair replied, sneezing again.
“Are you sure?” Jim asked, picking up his little Guide, looking at him critically.
“For heavens sake, Jim, he only sneezed,” Steven said him, rolling his eyes.
“Twice. He sneezed twice. Blair never sneezes. Maybe we should call Dr. Banks. Do you think Blair’s hot? He feels hot.”
Steven felt Blair’s forehead. “I don’t know. Hey, you’re the Sentinel, you tell me.”
Jim frowned as he concentrated, his eyes widening in alarm. “He is. He is. Steven, what are we going to do? Blair’s sick. We’ve got to do something.”
“Sally?” Steven suggested.
“Yeah, Sally. Sally will know what to do. Sally.” Jim yelled. “Sally. Come quick. Help.”
Sally came running into the living room. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Blair. Blair’s sick. Do something. He’s burning up,” Jim said, panic clear in his voice.
Sally gently felt Blair’s forehead. “He’s just a little warm, Jim. He may have caught the cold that’s going around.”
“Do something, Sally. Call Dr. Banks. Hurry, call Dr. Banks,” Jim begged, wrapping his arms protectively around his little Guide. “He’s a Doctor, he can help.”
“Jim, there’s no reason to call Dr. Banks. We can handle a simple cold.”
“There’s nothing simple about Blair catching a cold. Dr. Banks. We need Dr. Banks. Please, Sally.” Just then Blair sneezed again. “Hurry, Sally-he’s getting worse.”
“Maybe you’re right. I’ll give him a call.”
Twenty minutes later found Dr. Banks examining Blair, who sat quietly on the couch. His panicking Sentinel hovering nervously nearby. “He’s caught a cold.” Simon said. “More than likely from the other kids in school.”
Jim frowned. “I’m going to kick some ass tomorrow.”
“No, no. Don’t try and stop me. They made my little Guide sick and they shall pay for it with their very lives.”
Steven who’d been watching broke out in laughter. “Aren’t you being a little melodramatic?”
Jim frowned at him. “They made Blair sick. Melodramatic, my ass.” He looked at Blair. “See, he’s not even growling at me for cussing. My little Guide is sick,” He whispered pulling Blair into his arms. “Poor, baby,” Jim said kissing Blair’s hot forehead.
Blair rubbed his face against Jim’s chest. “I no feel good.”
Jim gently stroked Blair soft hair. “I know, Baby. I know,” he said softly. “Dr. Banks is here. He’ll make you feel better. Right?” he asked Simon, putting all his confidence in the man that had become a good family friend.
“There’s not much I can do. Give him some antibiotics for the throat infection, cough medicine if he starts coughing. That’s about it,” Simon told the young Sentinel who was looking at him so very hopefully, as if he could make his little Guide better by magic. Simon sighed as disillusionment slid onto that very young face. “I’m sorry, son. But a cold is one of those things that has to work its way through.”
Suddenly Blair sneezed again, and again and again. “Oh, God, Baby-are you okay?”
“No feel good,” Blair said pitifully.
Jim looked at Simon. “Help,” he pleaded, blue eyes dark with worry.
Simon almost smiled. Jim was going completely overboard over a simple cold. It was going to be interesting to see how the young Sentinel would handled chicken pox, measles and all the other childhood diseases coming Blair’s way.
Simon patted Jim’s shoulder. “Okay, son. I’ll do what I can. I’m not a miracle worker, though. I can’t make the cold just up and go away, but we can ease the symptoms somewhat. Sally, do you have any children’s Tylenol we can give Blair?”
Sally nodded. “Coming up.”
Jim stroked his little Guide’s hair gently. “How long is this cold going to last?” he asked Simon.
“Anywhere from three days to a week.”
Jim’s eyes widened in alarm. “Three days to a *week*?”
“Yes,” Simon replied as he offered the tablets to Blair with some sips of water. Watching as the little Guide accepted them, swallowing painfully. Jim winced when he saw that.
“Oh, God,” he said shakily.
Steven knelt by them. “It’ll be okay, Jim. I’ll help.” He said sympathetically. He watched as Jim’s eyes filled with tears.
“Blair’s sick,” He was told heartbrokenly.
“I know,” Steven replied softly. “I know.”
Three hours later found Blair and Jim huddled together on their bed. The little Guide shivering as his fever rose and Jim going out of his mind with worry.
“Are you feeling any better?” The Sentinel asked hopefully.
Heart falling when he was told, “No,” raspily.
“Do you want some of the chicken soup Sally made?”
“Please, Blair. Just a little, for me?” Blair sighed unhappily, but nodded. “Thank you, Baby.” Jim reached over for the soup that sat on the bedside table between the two beds. Offering Blair a small spoonful of broth, wincing in sympathy as the little Guide did his best to swallow it. Knowing Blair was only doing this because he’d asked.
Not knowing for sure if this was hurting Blair or him the most as watched him struggle with another spoonful of broth. His eyes filling with tears, again. He really was going to have to talk to Dr. Banks about that. Not now though, ‘cause right now he had reason for tears his little Guide was sick.
“Do you want a noodle?” he asked softly.
“No.” Wide, solemn, fever-glazed blue eyes looked up at him. “No hungry.”
“I know, Baby. I know, but I promised Sally and Dr. Banks that I’d get you eat. It’ll keep the medicine from upsetting your tummy. Can you try and eat a little more? Please, Baby?” Jim knew he was taking unfair advantage of his little Guide, but it was for Blair’s own good. And watching Blair try to swallow hurt him as much as it did Blair.
“Does it hurt a lot?”
“Hurt,” Blair replied, swallowing the noodle painfully. “No more, please.”
“But, baby-that was only one noodle.”
“No can. Hurts.”
Jim bit his lip hard as he tried to figure a way to get his little Guide to eat a little more. Suddenly it came to him. It was a bit gross, but for Blair he’d do anything. Anything to make him feel better. “Blair, if I try something will you go along with it? It might seem a little icky, but it might make it easier for you to swallow.”
“I try,” Was the solemn promise.
Jim nodded. “Okay.”
He placed a couple of noodles carefully onto the spoon and put them in his mouth, chewing until they were mushy enough for a little Guide with a sore throat to swallow. He moved closer to Blair offering it carefully.
Blair tilted his curly head looking at him curiously. “I no baby bird,” he said hoarsely, but he opened his mouth and took the noodle mush Jim offered. Swallowing very, very carefully.
Jim watched with satisfaction as Blair swallowed it a lot easier than the noodle he’d chewed on his own. “More?”
Blair nodded. “More.”
Jim did it again, chewing the noodle until it was almost liquid before offering it to Blair. He continued to feed his little Guide this way, alternating with spoonfuls of broth until the whole cup was gone.
“You did it, Blair. You finished the whole cup,” Jim said proudly. “Do you feel better?”
Blair nodded. “Better. Tummy full.”
“Good. Wanna take a nap?”
“Nap,” Blair said, cuddling close to his Sentinel.
Jim wrapped himself protectively around his little Guide, pulling him close against him. Face buried deep in Blair curly hair, not minding in the least that his little Guide’s natural scent was tainted slightly by the fever. Blair could be covered in the grosses things imaginable and Jim would have done the same thing. Nothing and no one would keep him from what was his. Not even a stupid cold. With that thought he drifted off to sleep.
“Did you check on them?” Simon asked Steven, as he took a swallow of the fine coffee Sally had just poured for him.
“Yeah,” Steven replied, sitting next to him at the kitchen table. “They’re sleeping now. Jim was feeding Blair like he was a hurt baby bird. It was the oddest thing. Kinda cute in a really gross sort of way.”
“You read the pamphlet about Sentinels and Guides didn’t you, Steven?”
“Yeah. Why?” Steven asked as he took a bite of his almost forgotten butterscotch cookie.
“Because the bond between Blair and Jim is only going to get closer. Closer than most married people.”
“Huh-huh, that’s what I read too.”
“I’ve been studying Sentinels going on thirty years now. And it only gets more interesting. Blair and Jim are unique. So far, they’ve blown everything I’ve ever learned and seen right out of the water.”
“That icky scent thing Blair did to Alex?”
“Yeah, in part.”
“What happened to her anyway?”
Simon smiled almost evilly. “She’s in Alaska. I sent her there the same day she tried to take Jim. If your Father asks it was *after* I stitched her up. Ended up taking six stitches on the forehead, from where she fell and hit her head on the chair.”
“Cool,” Steven said unsympathetically.
“Yeah,” Simon agreed just as unsympathetically. He really hadn’t liked her at all and it was rare for him to outright dislike some one so intensely-especially a Sentinel. “Well anyway, Blair and Jim are adding a whole new chapter to the Sentinel/Guide studies. By the time they’re grown up it may be a complete book.”
“I bet,” Steven replied, taking a swallow of his milk.
“Yes. They bonded very young, especially Blair. So I’m not sure how much of the information in the pamphlets is going to be accurate where it concerns them. What I suspect will happen is that Blair and Jim’s bond will only get stronger and be almost unbreakable unless one or the other decides to break it. Even that might be a little iffy. Blair stands a better chance of breaking if he wants because he’s the one that initiated it.”
“Would he do that?” Steven asked curiously.
“He might. If he got angry enough.”
“So are Jim and Blair married or something?”
Simon smiled at him. “Yes. I think you could call it a marriage of sorts. They’re never going to want anyone else. No matter how much someone tempts them.”
Steven looked at Simon, blue eyes wide. “You do know I’m only nine-right? Am I suppose to be knowing any of this?”
“I don’t see why not. Most of it you read in the pamphlets. It’s not like it’s any big secret.”
“That’s true. Can I ask you something?”
“Sure. I’ll answer it the best I can.”
“There’s something that’s been bugging Jim, but he keeps forgetting to ask you about it.”
“He’s been crying a lot lately. Ever since he bonded to Blair. Is that normal?”
Simon took a drink of his coffee. “Yes. It’s perfectly normal. When a Sentinel comes online everything is hypersensitive. Adding to that-there’s the unfamiliar dependency on someone for you sanity and your very existence. So yes, it can bring on the tears until they learn control. I remember one Sentinel who cried day and night for two solid years.”
“Oh, God - poor Jim.”
“From what I’ve seen Jim doesn’t have it that bad. It should start easing up.”
“He’ll be happy to hear that. Jim and Blair have been together almost two years, I think,” Steven said, biting into another cookie.
“Hmm, yeah I think it’s about that.”
“Yeah, well, he doesn’t like being such a crybaby.”
Simon smiled at him. “What ten year old would? Jim has a birthday coming up, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah, next week.”
“Is he going to have a party?”
Steven nodded. “Yup. He’s getting a jumping balloon. I think he’s even gettin a piñata. Hopefully it’ll turn out better than Blair’s party.”
“Amen to that,” Simon agreed heartily. Suddenly a gray and white kitten jumped into his lap, startling him. “Wow! Who do we have here?”
Steven took another drink of his milk. “That’s Wofie. Blair’s cat.”
Simon stroked the soft fur, earning a gentle purring from the tiny kitten. “Sure is cute.”
“Yeah,” Steven replied offering the kitten a piece of cookie. They both watched laughing when he delicately began nibbling on it. “Blair saw him outside of the mall the other day, when we went to get clothes for school. Really wanted him, too.”
“And your Dad agreed?”
“Piece of cake. All Blair had to do was look at him with those big, blue eyes of his and the cat was his for the keeping.”
“Yes, and you coming home with everything Wofie needed didn’t hurt either,” William said, walking into the kitchen.
“Hey, Dad. How was work?” Steven asked, smiling at his father.
“It’s there,” William replied, snatching a cookie from the platter. “How was your day?”
“Alright. Blair caught a cold.”
“Oh.” William looked over at Simon. “Is that what brings you to our humble abode, Simon?” He asked, offering the Doctor his hand.
Simon accepted it. “Yes. That and Sally‘s excellent food.”
Sally smiled. “Can I set an extra plate for you? We’re having meatloaf tonight.”
Simon sighed happily. “I’d love to. Being a divorced man, you get awfully tired of sandwiches and TV dinners.”
“You have a standing invitation to come over any time,” William told him.
Simon narrowed his eyes. “You wouldn’t perhaps have ulterior motives, would you?”
William smiled at him innocently. “Nope. But having a Doctor in the house won’t hurt any when you have the youngest Sentinel/Guide pair in known history also in the house.”
Simon laughed. “I knew it, but that’s okay. For meatloaf I’ll let it slide. But who knows about tomorrow,” He added warningly.
“I have been duly warned.”
Just then an extremely rumpled Sentinel with his just as rumpled and feverish Guide in his arms entered the kitchen. “Blair, how do you feel?” Simon asked softly.
“I hurt.” They all winced at the extremely hoarse reply.
“Yeow, “Steven said cringing in sympathy. “that *does* sound like it hurts.”
“Hurts,” Blair agreed as Jim sat down, carefully cuddling his hurting little Guide close. Blair buried his head into Jim’s chest, sighing sadly.
They all watched as Jim looked at them blue eyes filling with the ever-present tears. “Isn’t there anything we can do? Blair’s in pain.”
“He’s already on antibiotics. We’re just going to have to wait,” Simon told him softly.
“Hey, Jim-I asked about your crying all the time. Simon says its normal for a Sentinel. And that it should stop after a while.”
Jim turned to Simon. “Really?”
Simon nodded. “Perfectly normal.”
Jim smiled at the Doctor. “That’s great. I was beginning to think I was going to have to carry around Kleenex forever.” Just then Blair rubbed his face against Jim letting him feel the heat coming off him. “Want some juice or water, Baby?” He asked, desperately wanting his little Guide to feel better.
Blair shook his head. “Nope. Hurt.”
“Maybe if you drank it the way you did the soup?” Jim offered gently, stroking Blair damp curls away from his face.
“Okay. Later maybe?”
Blair nodded. “Later.” He looked over at Simon and William. “Jim feed like baby bird,” he said with awe, as if unable to believe his Sentinel would do such a thing for him.
They all watched as Jim turned bright red. “It got him to eat,” he said defensively.
“We didn’t say anything,” Steven replied, giving his brother a huge smile.
“You do know that now you’ve set yourself up to get a cold too,” Simon told the young Sentinel.
“I know, but it got Blair to eat. That’s all that matters.”
“Hmm, this may be the first cold you’ve gotten since coming on line. Let me hear you say that when you get sick.”
Blair began coughing hoarsely, shifting the attention unwitting back to him. “Are you okay, Baby?” Jim asked worriedly, watching in horror as his little Guide seemed to be coughing up a lung.
When the coughing stopped, Blair buried his head weakly in Jim’s chest. “Ow!” He said hoarsely.
Jim wrapped his arms around his hurting little Guide. Trying his best to offer comfort. “Oh, God this is going to kill me,” He told them shakily.
Simon touched Jim’s arm. “Blair is going to get sick, Jim. He’s a tough little boy, he fought for you and won. He’s not going to let a little, bitty cold win. Are you Blair?”
“Nope,” Blair replied, sniffing.
William offered Jim his handkerchief, who promptly cleaned his little Guide’s runny nose. “And besides, according to his records, Blair hasn’t had chicken pox or measles or any of the other childhood diseases. You have them to look forward to,” he told his son.
“Oh, God,” Jim replied, horrified.
“Don’t worry. We’ll help you,” Simon promised. “You’re not going to be doing this alone.”
Jim met his eyes. “I can feel his lungs congesting and his temperature going up. How am I going to deal with this?”
“You do what is best for Blair,” Simon advised.
“But I’m only ten years old-how am I suppose to know what is best for Blair?” Jim asked overwhelmed, panicking all over again.
“What does your heart tell you to do?” Simon asked softly.
Jim rocked his sick little Guide gently, as he thought about the question. “Love my Guide and take care of him to the best of my ability,” he answered after a long thoughtful moment.
“There you go,” Simon replied. “Not so hard even if you are only ten.”
“Okay. Okay.” Jim replied resolutely. “I can do this.”
William smiled at him. “There was never a doubt, Son.”
Jim returned the smile a little more confidant. “I can do this. I’m his Sentinel. I can take care of my little Guide. I can do this.”
“Yes you can,” William reaffirmed. “And we’ll help you in any way we can.”
“Okay. Okay-we can do this. We can,” Jim said, looking into the feverish face of his little Guide. “Right, Blair?”
Blair nodded, burying his face into Jim chest. “Yups. Jim, I tired,” he told him, softly.
“You’re tired? Want to go lay down again?” Jim asked him, pulling Blair closer.
Jim stood with his little Guide his arms. “Okay,” he looked at the three face watching him quietly. “I can do this?” He questioned hesitantly, seeking reassurance.
All three nodded. “You can do this.” William answered for them. “You can,” he reaffirmed. “If you need help just asked.”
“Okay. Okay.” Jim replied as he carried his little Guide out of the kitchen. “I can do this.” He whispered to himself.
Three days later found Jim on the bed he shared with his little Guide.
Completely and totally miserable.
Simon had been right, having a cold and being a fully online Sentinel was way worse “Oh, God-just shoot me. Put me out of my misery now and just shoot me,” he wheezed pitifully. His head hurt, his nose hurt and his lungs felt like they were on fire. He wanted to die.
“Well, Dr. Banks did warn you that you might catch Blair’s cold if you kept feeding him like you were,” Steven told him, laying a cool, wet washcloth on his brother’s flushed face.
“Yeah, I know, but it was the only way I could get him to eat.”
Blair sat on the bed quietly watching his suffering Sentinel. “Jim gots sick ‘cause of me?” He asked in a small voice.
Jim sat up quickly displacing the washcloth. “No, Baby. Don’t even think that. Me catching a cold isn’t your fault,” he said hurriedly as he watched Blair’s wide, blue eyes fill with tears.
“No get sick till Blair catch cold, give his Sentinell,” his little Guide said, a tear falling down his pale little face. “Not good Guide.”
“Come here,” Jim said reaching for Blair, who moved away quickly. “Please, Blair, come here. Don’t make me chase you. I don’t feel good. Come here.”
The little Guide went into his lap reluctantly. “I sorry,” Blair said sadly, lower lip trembling unhappily.
Jim gently moved Blair’s curly hair away from his pale face. “There’s nothing to be sorry for, Baby. I’m not blaming you for me being sick.”
Blair looked up at him, eyes filled with tears. “No?” He asked hopefully.
Jim caressed his cheek with a finger. “No. And besides, I’m feeling lots better. I’ll be good as new for my birthday on Saturday. You could do something to make me feel lots better though,” Jim told his little Guide softly.
Jim lay back on the bed taking Blair with him. “Hmm, yeah. You could take a nap with me. I know you’re still not feeling good and I could really use a Blair cuddle to make me get better a lot faster.”
Blair looked up at him from where his head lay trustingly against Jim’s chest, little arms going around as much of Jim’s body as they could. “I do, I hug. Feed like baby bird?” he offered solemnly.
Jim chuckled hoarsely. “Thank-you, Baby, but I’m not hungry right now. Later?”
Blair nodded, blue eyes closing slowly. “Later.”
“I’m going down stairs. See if Sally needs any help with your birthday stuff,” Steven said from where he sat on his bed.
Jim nodded. “Okay.”
“Do you need anything?” Steven asked, as he covered the Sentinel/Guide pair with a blanket.
“No. Everything I need is right here,” Jim replied, tightening his hold around his little Guide.
Jim woke much later, to find his little Guide missing. He wasn’t to worried, because he knew Blair was fine and carefully climbing the stairs that lead to their bedroom.
He sat up, leaning against the headboard to watch Blair walk into the bedroom, a mug cradled between his tiny hands.
“What ya got there, Baby?”
“Sally let you carry hot soup up the stairs?” Jim asked frowning.
“Not hot. Sally no want Blair get burn.”
“Oh, well that’s good then.”
Jim watched as Blair very carefully placed the mug on the bedside table between their two beds and reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pull out two packets of crackers from one and a spoon from the other.
“What ya doin’, Baby?” he asked curiously.
“I take care my Sentinell.” Jim smiled as Blair struggled to open one of the packets of crackers. Finally, unable to open them he gave them to Jim. “Open. No can do,” he said with disgust, making Jim smile.
Jim opened it, handing them to his little Guide, watching silently to see what Blair planned to do. Blair went to where he’d laid down the mug taking it to Jim. “Hold,” he demanded, as he picked up the spoon.
Blair took out one of the crackers. Carefully placing it in his mouth began chewing it. After a long moment he climbed on the bed, straddling his Sentinel’s thighs he moved close, almost making Jim spill the soup.
Jim went a little cross-eyed when Blair carefully placed his mouth over his. Stunned, he didn’t move until Blair made an impatient little noise. Obediently, Jim opened his mouth and a little tongue pushed the mushed cracker into it.
Blair was feeding him, just like he’d done for him days earlier. Jim was shocked and touched by it. Blair moved away slowly to take the mug out of his hands, carefully offering him a drink of the lukewarm chicken soup. Jim took a small swallow, smiling when his little Guide gave a small sound of approval.
“Thank-you, Blair,” he told him softly. “It’s very good.”
“Hurt?” Blair asked him sympathetically, tiny hands stroking his throat.
“Hmm, a little, “Jim murmured softly, enjoying the gentle touch of his Guide immensely. He sighed in disappointment when Blair removed his hands away to reach for another cracker.
Blair, with the patience of someone a lot older kept feeding his Sentinel until no crackers remained and all the soup was gone.
It was odd, really odd, but it felt good being taken care of by his little Guide. But Jim never had anyone’s tongue in his mouth before. He wondered fleetingly if that was what it was like to be kissed. That thought fled quickly when Blair began releasing the scent.
“Oh, Blair,” Jim whispered softly, pulling his Guide close. He keened softly, rocking the two of them gently. He buried his head against Blair’s neck, the keening increasing in volume as his little Guide began releasing the bonding scent as well. Affirming that Jim would always belong to him.
He would never, ever get enough of this. Not ever. He gently stroked Blair’s curly hair away from his face as he allowed the combined scents to caress his oversensitive nerve- ending, before burying his head against Blair’s neck once more.
Jim moaned softly when he felt a tiny hand stroking his head gently. “More, Blair. Please, Baby, more,” he pleaded softly.
Blair released more of the combined scents, causing Jim to moan burying his head tightly against his little Guide’s neck. “Oh, God that’s so good. I love you, Blair.”
“I luv you, Jim. Berry, berry much.”
Jim laughed shakily as he pulled away slightly. “That much?”
Blair smiled at him. “Yups.”
“How much is berry, berry much?” Jim asked, running his hands over a tiny back.
Blair began kissing his face over and over again. Leaving it slightly more than moist from the sloppy kisses. “Oh, that much?” Jim said laughing quietly.
“Dat much. Blair luvs Jim much.”
“That’s good, ‘cause Jim loves Blair berry, berry much too.”
Blair’s eyes twinkled mischievously. “How berry much?”
The room filled with the happy giggling as Jim kissed Blair’s face giving the little Guide kisses just as wet and just as sloppily as the ones he’d been given.
ELEVEN YEARS OLD
“So how are you feeling, Jim?” Rafe asked, as he handed his friend a gaily wrapped present.
“Better,” Jim replied, taking the gift and placing it with the others on the table set aside just for presents. “Thank you.”
“Got quite a haul there, Jim.”
Jim smiled as he looked at the straining table. “Yeah, huh?”
“How’s Blair doing?” Rafe asked, eyeing the little Guide who was helping Sally lay out paper plates for the food that was going to be delivered in about twenty minutes. Jim had decided he wanted pizza and chicken wings.
“He’s better, too. Got a bit of a runny nose left, but other than that he’s doing great,” Jim replied.
Blair turned toward them, as if sensing they were talking about him. He gave his Sentinel a huge smile, sailing across the yard he flew into his arms. “Jim,” he said happily.
“Oof. Hey, Baby. What ya doin’?” Jim asked, catching his little Guide mid-air.
“Blair help Sally. Happy Birfday, Jim,” Blair answered, as he peppered kisses all over Jim face.
Jim laughed. “Why thank you, Baby. So what’d you get me? I know you and Steven have been plotting something.”
Wide, innocent blue eyes looked at him. “No plot. Get Jim the bestest present in whole world.”
Jim smiled. “Don’t think that’s possible, Baby. *You’re* the bestest present in the whole world,” he told him, giving his Guide a hug. “All I could ever want or need.”
“No want present?” Blair asked, in disbelieve.
Jim laughed again. “Didn’t say that.”
“Hey, Squirt,” Rafe said, softly.
Blair smiled at him. “Hi, Rafe,” he replied shyly.
Rafe reached out and touched Blair’s soft curls. “Do you feel better?”
“Yups. Jim feed like baby bird, make all better. I do for my Sentinell make better, too. Huh, Jim?”
Rafe watched Jim turned bright red. “Huh?” he asked curiously.
“You don’t want to know,” Jim told him hurriedly, turning even redder. “Hey look, foods here. Let’s eat. Hey, Blair after we eat do you want to get in the jumping balloon?”
Blair nodded happily. “Yups.” He said, looking over at the Batman jumping balloon.
Blair sat between Jim’s legs, sharing a plate with Rafe, offering a piece of chicken to his kitten-giggling happily when Wofie delicately grabbed it with his paw.
“Hey, Blair look-there’s Megan,” Jim told his little Guide.
Blair looked over to where his fellow playmate was having Sally fix a plate of food for her. “So?” he said, frowning.
Jim rolled his eyes. Noticing Rafe laughed. “Still no better on the playmate front?”
“You could say that. Blair hates her with a passion. He hasn’t gone in a couple of weeks because of his cold, but he still doesn’t like her very much.”
“Then why does your Dad make him go?”
“It’s suppose to be good for him. Better than hanging out with a bunch of eleven years olds.”
Rafe’s dark eyes flashed. “Hey, I don’t happen to see anything wrong with hanging out with a bunch of eleven year old. Do you H?”
“Nope,” H replied, as he sat down next to them on the grass. A huge plate of food carefully placed on his out stretched legs.
“I know, but Dad says it’ll do him good, even though Blair hates it.”
“Adults are weird,” Carl said, sitting next to Jim, stealing a buffalo wing from H’s plate.
“Hey, get your own,” H protested, reaching for it. But before he could retrieve it-it was in his friend’s mouth.
Carl smiled smugly at him. “Why? I can just steal yours.” He said chewing happily.
H sighed. “I hate you. And since your stealing my food, go get me a soda and I’ll consider letting you keep stealing my food.”
“Okay,” Carl replied amicably. “Anyone want anything?” He asked rising to his feet. Taking order from his friends, he ambled off to the drink table.
“Hey, did you hear that the zoo has a new elephant named Mona?” H told his companions.
“Yeah, Dad was saying something about that,” Steven replied as he joined the group. “I haven’t been to the zoo in forever.”
Jim offered his little Guide pizza - torn into a size just right for tiny hands. “Maybe we could go next week. I don’t think Blair’s ever been to the zoo. Have you Blair?”
Blair looked up at his Sentinel. “What is zoo?”
Jim smiled at his friends. “See. It’s a place where they have lots of animals.”
Blair’s wide blue eyes got wider. “Do they gots panters and wofies?”
Jim smiled. “Panthers and wolves? Yeah, I’m sure they do. Want to got next week?”
Blair launched himself at his Sentinel. “Yes. Yes. Go zoo. See panters and wolfies.”
“Oof,” Jim said, barely deflecting a tiny foot from hitting him in a sensitive area. He gave his little Guide a hug before sitting him in his lap. “But Blair you got a Wofie right there,” He said, pointing to the tiny kitten now sharing food with H.
Blair made a tiny disparaging sound. “Wofie-kitty, not really wolfie. Want see real wolfie. I give kisses,” he offered in bribe, kissing Jim’s face, not taking into consideration that his face was covered in BBQ sauce.
Jim laughed. “Okay, okay. You don’t have to kiss me. I’ll take you anyway, but if you wanna give me kisses I won’t say no even if they are BBQ flavored.”
Blair giggled. “Luv you, Jim. Lots and lots.”
“I love you too,” Jim replied, giving his tiny Guide another hug.
“Hey, Blair, if you give me a BBQ flavored kiss, I’ll go with you to the zoo, too,” Rafe said smiling.
Blair reached over and gave Rafe a loud smacking kiss on the nose. “Der? Go too?”
“Yup, I’ll go too,” Rafe told him.
Jim watched an impassive look on his face, nothing showing except for a slight tightening of his blue eyes. Emotions coursing through him so rapidly, he wasn’t sure exactly what he was feeling. Just that he didn’t like what just happened one little bit.
“Can I ask a favor of you though, Blair?” he asked, none of the churning emotion showing in his voice.
His little Guide’s attention quickly turned back to him. “Ask.”
“Can you be try and be a little nicer to Megan and Cassie?”
His little Guide frowned at him “No,” Jim was told uncompromisingly. “No like Megan.”
“No,” Blair smiled at his Sentinel mischievously. “Take zoo any way,” He told him confidently.
“Oh, yeah-what makes you so sure?”
“Jim luv Blair and Blair give good kisses.”
Jim moaned as everyone laughed. “He’s got you there, Jim,” Rafe told him, chuckling. Rubbing his nose with a napkin.
Jim cupped Blair’s little face, kissing his forehead, affectionately. “You’re going to get me in a world of trouble, Baby. You know that?”
“Yups,” Blair said happily. “Take zoo? See panters and wofie’s?”
Jim hugged Blair close, forgetting all about what he was feeling when Blair had kissed Rafe. Losing himself in the love his little Guide so willing offered. “You know I will you, little turd,” he answered, resignedly. Knowing he’d already lost the battle, without ever having fired a shot.
“Yippy, we go zoo.”
“Yeah, we go zoo. Do you want more buffalo wings before we go play in the jumping balloon?”
Blair shook his head. “Nope, tummy full. Soda, please”
Across the yard Simon had just walked through the back gate carrying a present. Smiling at the activity happening all over it. This birthday party had turned out a lot better than Blair’s if the screaming and yelling children running all over the backyard were any indication.
“Hey, Simon. Welcome,” William said, coming up to him offering his hand.
“William. Great turn out.”
William smiled. “Yeah. Come have pizza and buffalo wings.”
Simon found a empty chair under a large tree where he could watch the children laughing and truly enjoying themselves. Taking a bite of a buffalo wing he looked over to see Blair cheeks a bright pink as Jim pushed on the brightly colored jumping balloon floor sending the little Guide high into the air. His squealing of delight ringing happily in the air.
“Can I join you?” William asked softly, holding his own plate.
“By all means,” Simon replied, motioning to the free chair.
“They’re having a great time aren’t they?”
“Yeah, they are,” Simon replied. They both watched as Jim took Blair into his arms- jumping high, he tumbled them both, his little Guide held protectively against his chest as they landed on the jumping balloon floor. Simon smiled when he heard Blair’s excited exclamations of.” More, Jim more. Higher go higher.”
“I’m glad we decided to allow them to grow naturally,” William said softly.
“Yeah, me, too.”
“That brings me to what I’d like to talk to you about.”
Simon turned toward William. “What?”
“I remember you saying a while back that you were divorced.”
William cleared his throat nervously. “I have a proposition for you.”
“Oh,” Simon said curiously.
“I know that you rent an apartment…”
“How would you know that?”
William had the grace to look guilty. “I …hmm did some research. Don’t be angrily. Let me explain.”
“I’m not angry. Tell me why you would want to research me. If there was something you wanted to know all you had to do was ask.”
“It was something I learned from my son, Steven, when they bought Wofie home. They made sure that they had all the angles covered so there was little chance of being told no.”
William looked over to where his son and little Guide where happily playing. “Having the youngest Sentinel ever, with an even younger Guide under your roof is a tremendous responsibility.”
“Yes, I know.”
William turned haunted blue eyes toward Simon. “No, I don’t think you really do. I’m so worried that I’ll do something wrong and scar them for life. I don’t want that. I want what is best for them. For all my sons. Blair included. I don’t think I’ve told you this yet, but I’ve been unable to find any trace of Naomi. I’ve called off the search and have started adoption proceedings. I consider Blair one of my sons, but I want it in writing, Iron clad and unbreakable. Not that anyone could because Blair is my son’s Guide.”
“I can understand that.”
“Can you? I think maybe you can. Do you have any children, Simon?”
Simon nodded. “Yes. A son who lives with his Mom. I’ve been trying to get visitation rights, but my ex-wife is being very difficult about it.”
“Hmm, I’m sorry about that. If I can help please let me know. My lawyers are at your disposal.”
“Thank-you, I do appreciate that. But didn’t you want to ask me something?”
William smiled at him. “Yes. I have a large house don’t you think?”
Simon furrowed his brows. “Hmm, yes it’s a very nice house.”
“It’s got six bedrooms. Did I tell you that? And an empty room on the lower level that could easily be turned into another office.”
“That’s nice, but what does that have to do with me?”
Steven came up taking a large, refreshing drink of soda from the glass he was carrying, hot and sweaty from jumping in the balloon. “What my Dad is asking, very badly, is if you would move in here with us and help us look after Jim and Blair?”
William pulled his son toward him. “I was getting to it, Steven,” he chided gently.
“Yeah, Dad, but by the time you got around to it Jim, Blair and I will be collecting social security.”
“Hmm, yes. What do you say, Simon? We could really use your help. I won’t charge rent. And you’ll be closer to Jim and Blair. You’ll be able to watch over them all you want. Well, within reason. Please?”
Simon eyed the father and son closely. “Thought about this a lot haven’t you?”
“Yes. I have Sally’s help, but and in-house expert on Sentinels and Guide will ease my mind greatly. I’m even willing to pay for your services.”
“That won’t be necessary.” Simon looked at Steven. “What say you, Steven? Would you mind me living here with you?”
Steven smiled at him from the protective circle of his father’s arms. “It was my idea. Dad just went about it all wrong. Told him to get the room that’s going to be your office ready and the bedroom so that’d you’d feel all guilty about all the money my Dad spent and you’d move it. But he didn’t want to do that. Said it’d be better to wait and ask you first.”
“Have it all figured, out don’t you?” Simon laughed.
“Yup. It worked for Wofie.”
Simon looked down at the kitten playing happily at his feet. “Yes.”
“Does that mean you’ll do it?” William asked softly.
“Yes, it does. And I hope none of us grow it regret it.”
Steven shook his head. “It’ll be great. And you’ll get to eat Sally’s food everyday instead of just once in awhile.”
Simon laughed. “Yeah, that’s a big plus.” He looked at William. “Are you sure about this, William? It’s a big step.”
“I’ve never been surer about anything in my life. And I could really use the help. Like I said before there is Sally, but an expert on Sentinels and Guide’s in-house would be a Godsent. Thank you, Simon. I will sleep better at night knowing you’re under the same roof in case something comes up and I’m sure it will.”
Simon frowned. “Why didn’t you say you were worried?”
William shrugged. “I don’t really know. Stupidity on my part mostly and not knowing quite what to do until Steven came up with a solution.”
“Yeah, well I got tired of hearing Dad roaming the hallway late at light. Back and forth, back and forth. It was starting to make me crazy.”
Simon looked over at Jim and Blair who were cuddling in the jumping balloon. The little Guide happily kissing his playfully protecting Sentinel. “Have you told them?”
William smiled. “Yes, they know I was going to ask you and they love the idea.”
“Great. How soon can I move in?”
“When ever you want.”
“Tomorrow soon enough?”
The piñata broken and all the candy joyfully grabbed by laughing children. Jim not allowed to help Blair because of his unfair advantage. Blair whacked the Batman Piñata hard enough on his own to break it in half, surprising everyone. He’d even gathered some of the fallen candy-not really wanting it he saved it for his Sentinel.
Batman cake all sliced served with chocolate ice cream, Happy Birthday sung, they now all sat around as Jim opened his presents. Jim laughing as Blair helped him tear the wrapping paper. Joking with H he lost track of his little Guide until…
He looked over to find Blair carefully walking toward him holding something carefully in his arms, Steven at his side.
“What ya got there, Baby?”
“Present.” Blair very, very carefully handed it to his waiting Sentinel. A tiny, black kitten with a bright blue bow around his neck. “You like?” he asked anxiously.
Jim picked up the kitten to look at it. It stared back at him with blue-eyed curiosity before reaching out a paw and gently tapped his nose. Jim laughed. “I love him. Thank-you, Blair.”
“Steven help pick.”
Jim smiled at his brother. “Thanks, Steven. I love him. Did you have any trouble getting him past Dad and Sally?”
“Na. Blair gave them the ‘look’ and they melted before its power.”
Jim carefully placed the kitten on the ground where Wofie promptly came over to inspect him. They smelled each other noses for a long moment before Wofie jumped the new kitten playfully.
“It looks like they’re going to get along,” Jim told his brother and little Guide, watching as the two kittens tumbled around each other.
“Yups,” Blair replied climbing into his Sentinel’s lap. “Happy Birfday, Jim.”
“What you name kitty?” Blair asked him, wrapping his arms around his neck.
“Hmm, don’t know. What would be a good name for him?”
Blair shrugged. “Hmm, Blackie?” He suggested.
“Sounds good to me. Blackie it is,” Jim told him kissing Blair’s cheek, pulling him close with a happy sigh.
STICKY LITTLE GUIDES
Jim sneezed for the fifth time since Simon had dropped them off at the zoo, declining to go with them, saying he still had stuff to unpack back at the house and he would be back for them later.
Steven handed him a Kleenex. “You wanted to bring Blair to the zoo.”
Jim took it. “Yeah, zoos smelled before, but its way worse when you’re a Sentinel. The smell of elephant poop alone is enough to knock me off me feet.”
“Can’t you dial back or something?”
Jim rubbed his runny eyes. “I’ve tried. It’s not working.”
“Up,” Blair demanded. He’d been walking, telling Jim he was a big boy and could walk by himself as soon as they’d gotten out of the car. His little Guide had been holding Rafe’s hand and Jim wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but right now he was to miserable to care.
Jim reached down and picked up his little Guide, sighing softly when Blair released scent. Not a lot, but enough to block the smells that were giving him trouble. “That’s better. Thanks, Baby.” he sighed, relieved not to be smelling elephant poop, not to mention wolf poop, horse poop, any poop at all.
Blair smiled. “My Sentinell.” Wrapping his arms around Jim’s neck.
Jim kissed his nose. “Your Sentinell. Can I carry you?” he asked softly, wanting to be close to his little Guide.
“Yups,” Blair readily agreed.
Two hours later found Jim, Blair, Steven, Rafe, H and Carl all sitting in the food court enjoying a variety of snacks. Blair had loved the zoo, especially seeing the panthers and the wolves. Blair had a real fascination with them. They’d spent forever watching them. Blair’s beautiful blue eyes wide as he watched the powerful creatures roaming their separate enclosure.
Now Blair sat in his own chair surrounded by every form of panther and wolf the gift shop had. Well, there was a tiny figure of a prairie dog, but it was overwhelmed by all the panthers and wolves. Jim was sure the poor, little stuffed prairie dog was trembling in fear.
“I’ve got to go to the bathroom. Will you be okay for a minute, Baby?” Jim asked his little Guide.
Blair looked up at him, smiling. “I cool.”
Jim caressed Blair’s soft curls. “Okay, be good. I’ll be right back?”
When he came back it was to find Steven, Rafe, H, and Carl having fits. When they saw him they suddenly became very, very quite. Standing very still in front of Blair.
Jim narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “What are you guys up to?”
Steven cleared his throat. “Hmm, nothing.”
“Nothing my butt. What are you guys hiding and where’s Blair.”
“He’s here,” Rafe supplied helpfully.
“Here. Sitting right where you left him.”
“Oh.” Jim moved closer noticing his friends were becoming even more nervous and they wouldn’t move away from the chair Blair was sitting in.
“Blair, are you okay, Baby?”
“I good,” was the muffled response from behind all those bodies hiding him.
“Okay.” Jim narrowed his eyes once again as he tried to figure out what was going on, making his friends shift anxiously. Steven had told him once that look could freeze someone solid at fifty paces. “What I need is for you guys to move away from my little Guide so I can get to him.”
H smiled at him nervously. “Hmm, don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“Why?” Jim asked with patience he wasn’t feeling. And they all knew it as they moved from one foot to the other apprehensively.
“Well you see we had a little bit of trouble when you left,” Carl whispered.
“What was that? Say that again. I didn’t quite hear it.”
“Hey aren’t you a Sentinel? Aren’t you suppose to hear things for like miles?” Carl asked, smiling timidly. Looking at the unsmiling face of his friend he coughed uncomfortable.
“Oh, I heard you. I’m just trying to decide which of you I’m going to kill first if you don’t move away from my little Guide.”
“I don’t think it matters, you’re going to kill us any way,” Steven said resignedly.
“Why is that?” Jim asked dangerously
“Well, you see it’s like this. Blair wanted to trying something he’s never had before and well it kinda got out of hand,” Steven supplied unhelpfully.
Jim crossed his arms. “Hmm and…”
Heads lowered they all separated to allow Jim to see his little Guide. Jim’s blue eyes widened in shock. He then turned three shade of red and looked like he was going to hyperventilate.
“Are you okay, Jim? You’re not zoning are you?” Steven asked anxiously, hesitantly reaching out to touch his brother’s arm.
“N…no. I’m fine. But for some odd reason I don’t think Blair.”
Four heads lowered to the floor in shame. “We’re sorry,” Rafe said contritely.
“Hmm,” Jim replied, moving toward to his little Guide slowly. “Are you okay, Baby?”
“I good,” Blair answered serenely, contently eating from the bag in his lap. Surrounded by other bags. Open and spilling their sweet treasure all over the table. All over everything.
“Whose idea was this?” Jim asked his brother.
“M…mine. H…he wanted to try it. I didn’t see the harm. I only turned away for a moment to get some napkins. I swear.”
Jim kneeled on the floor in front of his little Guide. “Blair?” Bright blue eyes looked up at him from a face covered in pink and blue cotton candy. It was everywhere, his clothes, hair, everywhere. Strands were even clinging to his shoes. “How did this happen?”
Tiny shoulders shrugged. “Don’t know. Cotton candy berry good. Want some?” Blair asked, lifting a sticky, blue hand, offering some of the quickly melting candy.
“Hmm, not right now. Thanks, Baby.” Jim looked over at his friends who were quietly watching. “What did you guys do? Dip him in it?”
“We don’t know how this happened. Really we don’t?” Rafe told Jim, trying unsuccessfully to pull off some of the cotton candy coating Blair’s hair succeeding in only in making it worse. “It just-happened.”
Jim looked at his guilt-ridden friends and then at his cotton candy-covered little Guide. His face streaked pink and blue and in some places purple, where it was melting together. He’d never seen his Blair look cuter. He bit his lip hard to keep from laughing. “You guys better hope that it comes off, if not, you’re all going to be changing cat litter until it does.”
All four moaned. Unable to hold back any more, Jim started laughing, picking up his little Guide. “Oh.., God-Blair you look so cute. It seems even cotton candy likes you. *A lot.*
Steven, Rafe, H and Carl moved closer laughing too, relieved they weren’t going to get killed. “Just because I’m not mad at you guys doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.” he told them warningly. “Because if it doesn’t there’s a couple of litter boxes with you guy’s names on them. Come on Blair, let’s go see how much of this stuff comes off.” He told his little Guide. Smiling as he listened to his brother and friends moan unhappily in the background.