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"A Sentinel or watchman as the ancient tribes called them are people with a genetic advantage in their role as protectors of people. Discovered by the famous explorer Richard Burton, a sentinel is an individual who possesses enhanced senses and a psychological imperative to protect. In order to process the additional information perceived by the brain, over 80% of the available grey matter is utilised. However due to the large amounts of sensory data that is processed a sentinel is becoming lost in one sense and looses contact with the outside world. This may lead to a coma and in severe cases death. To combat this deficiency nature provided a helpmate to call the the sentinel back to their other senses. The companion or the more modern term guide to the sentinel is genetically able to link and produce a metaphysical bond which enables the companion to retrieve the sentinel. Scientifically it is still unknown how a sentinel and guide find a compatible counterpart other than the guide showing some sort of empathic ability, however the pairing is often lifelong with only a rare few parting by anything other than death." Extract taken from the paper titled the Sentinel by Dr Amanda Price.
The run from the NCIS Naval Yard to the public conference hall near Quantico had went quicker than expected as the evening traffic was light. It was an early summer evening and Junior Federal Agent Sentinel Timothy McGee sat nervously in his parked car outside the venue for the Sentinel and Guide meet and greet. Worry and hope chased each other in equal measure around Timmy's heart, as Tim clenched and unclenched the soft leather of his steering wheel. He took slow steadying breaths to dispel the lingering feelings of inadequacy and fear that had often plagued him. "I can do this." he thought as he took a few minutes and reminded himself that he didn't have a choice. He reflected back to his boss Senior Special Agent Gibbs' unrelenting gaze as he had demanded that Tim sort himself out.
"Go get yourself a Guide, McGee." Gibbs had snapped after his junior agent had suffered a spate of sentinel zones, possibly brought on by the traumatic death of his colleague Special Agent Caitlin Todd. The newly online sentinel had done the only reasonable thing he could do and had booked himself onto all the sentinel and guide mixers in the state.
McGee sighed as he lay his head on the steering wheel, "What guide wants a computer nerd for a sentinel? The universe is having a laugh at my expense." he thought morosely. "The son of a high achieving Admiral and a corporate lawyer neither with the STA gene, a sub par low grade sentinel." Timothy's abilities were not rated as much more than slightly over the range of average. Enough to prompt his move from Norfolk to the Washington DC office. It was his computing skills for which Gibbs had chosen to make the most of and allow Tim onto his Major Crime Response Team (MCRT).
Timothy sometimes felt as if he had been given all the disadvantages and very little of the advantages of heightened senses. Allergies check, zones check; protective instincts check; large body structure check; enhanced senses...sometimes. They had been in short measure until Kate had been assassinated and now he had no control over them. In fact up until recently the NCIS hadn't even utilised him as a field sentinel. They still weren't really his use to the agency was finding the IT pathways not information at the crime scene. A gifted tech was a geek never the less and sentinels weren't traditionally geeky.
Stealing himself for an evening of disappointment, Tim left the relative protective shelter of his car and after taking a moment to smooth down the front of his best suit he walked through the car park, up the steps and into the annual cross agency mixer for un-bonded sentinels and guides.
Guide and Sentinel Support Centre (GSSC) Liaison Daryl Banks watched from the edge of the stage as the guests filtered steadily in to to graze at the generous buffet and mingle in the latter part of the evenings meeting and greeting mixer. As this was taking place near Quantico and a naval base there were a great deal of uniforms mixed in with the suits and dresses. Daryl had spent his time earlier moving smoothly through the crowd, soothing the ruffled feathers of some of the more high stung attendees. Where necessary making the introductions to facilitate the mixing of the guides with the sentinels and vice versa. There were representatives from all over Washing DC and the surrounding states but most had some interest or involvement in the Navy, Marines as part of the military itself or as a civilian of federal agent wishing to be attached to a military guide or sentinel.
As he had mingled he couldn't help but think about the changes that had been brought in the world since the 1960s transformation of the old National Intelligence Department's American Guide Initiative (AGI) and the resurrection of the Bill of Civil Rights for all of America's citizens including guides. Although there were still some die-hard hard liners that resisted the new ways, today's empaths chose to be guides and had their rights protected under the same laws that governed the USA. In addition there was a powerful Sentinel and Guide Court that would raeg war on their behalf it needed. The old dark days of forced bonding and virtual slavery of the guides and sentinels to the government had ended, people from within the AGI itself and growing support for the Sentinel and Guide freedom Front had spearheaded change. Daryl was proud of his own Grandfather Lincoln Jeffrey Banks, who was a civil rights activist and had been at the for front of the political maneuvering to get the unjust laws repealed. Now Sentinels and Guides formed Prides in which to work within their spheres of influence with none so prevalent as the one his own father worked within Cascade Washington States' Police Major Crimes division.
Seeing the nod from his assistant Daryl strode forward and took his place center stage at the podium. "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, guides and sentinels. Welcome to the 21st annual Quantico Naval base Mixer. I am GSSC Liaison Officer Daryl Banks and I'd like to start this evening by offering those that need it the support of the center to equip both the bonded and the non-bonded guides and sentinels now and for the future. Together we can …"
Turning to look at the stage Tim watched as the charming tall African-American young man started talking to the audience. That same Liaison Officer had taken enough interest in the awkward agent to introduce him to three guides. Early on in the mixer there had been Katey Carter, a fellow NCIS employee who was nice, but after a hopeful start had slowly lost interest in him. As they engaged in small talk, she had caught the eye of a young Marine Corp Cadet and drifted away to speak with them, leaving Tim alone for a while. Later on there had been Petty Officer Paula Bates, who was a nice enough guide who had smiled politely and stated truthfully that she was looking for a fellow naval officer to bond with. They'd talked a little more and Tim and Paula had even laughed a little at something or other which had brightened the event up for both of them. Cheered up and more hopeful Tim was currently standing with Rama. She stood at his elbow as they both listened to Daryl's speech and clapping encouragingly at its end, the young agent turned back to continue his conversation with Rama Kaur a kindergarten teacher.
"How long have you had an interest in guiding?" Their small talk was going well and Tim found himself loosening up properly for the first time at a Mixer.
"Oh well I guess I used to watch that programme on CBS. The one about the Sentinel cop and the guide that taught anthropology part time."
"Yes I know it's so cheesy by today's standard. But as a child I just wanted to do all the stuff that that guide did." Rama gently placed her hand on Tim's arm. "I wanted to be with a strong brave sentinel that would always save me, you know." Her brown eyes sparkled as she leaned into Tim's personal space showing her interest. She was much taken with the tall sentinel. Even if he was a little rounded with baby fat. At the start of the evening Rama had told herself she wanted a strong Naval sentinel bond-mate, however she had been a little intimidated by some of the military personnel at the mixer. She was quite happy to have come across Tim and felt quite at ease with this gentle agent.
"I guess my life is a bit like that TV 80s show, not as naive as that though." Tim smiled at Rama, "I spent most of my teenage life watching the re-runs of that show."
"Is that what inspired you to go into teaching."
"Ye,." she enthused. Inwardly "This was it!" Rama thought, "He's obviously the one."
Tim turned away slightly to swipe glasses of wine for Rama and himself from a waiter's tray as he passed them and the agent stumbled.
"I'm looking to continue to teach at the base's school and work with you Tim. Would you be able to work with that Tim?…Tim...are you ok? Agent McGee!" Rama's heart started to beat faster when she realized that her sentinel potential bond-mate was staring glassily to a point over her head. She realized that she was for the first time experiencing a real life sentinel's zone out. Thinking back to her limited experience mostly gained from TV programmes. She did what she could for Timothy. "Follow my voice, Agent McGee. Hear my voice." She moved her hand up and down the arm she had been previously holding onto. People began to notice something was wrong, as Tim listed to one side. Instead of massaging his arm Rama was clinging to his sleeve to try and keep the agent upright. "TIMOTHY!" Rama's guide voice was not heard, as her previous soft tone was eroded by panic.
"Hang on I'll get him a chair."
"No lower him to the Floor."
Hands carefully helped Tim into a safer horizontal position. Minutes continued to tick by as Rama tried without success to get the young sentinel out of his zone and back in touch with the outside world.
Tim's senses had never been acute although recently he had begun to suffer sensory spikes and have variations in both his control and the strength of his gifts. Kate's death had seemed to have triggered a growth surge in his abilities that Tim was thrown by. As he had reached for the drinks he had been surprised to catch a whiff of something so delightful that all of his attention was on identifying that scent. Nutmeg, musk, sunlight and...what is it.
Unknown to Timothy the situation around him was getting desperate as Rama had been replaced at his side by the more seasoned bonded guides and sentinel's. It became apparent that if something wasn't done soon this could be a major zone, which would mean hospitalization.
"Is he breathing?"
"Is there a Sentinel trained first aider?" people looked about.
"Let me through," said a voice from the back as one of the catering staff hired for the event pushed his way through. "I have some training." The teenager came through with such confidence that no one impeded his way and he knelt by the head of the sentinel and carefully shook Tim's broad shoulders. "Sentinel hear me, follow my voice back from wherever you are. Feel my hands on your skin. Come on Sunshine, can you blink those beautiful green eyes for me." A strong hand came to softly stroke on either side of Tim's face. "Sentinel." This was breathed over his face.
"His name is Timothy McGee" Rama said from the back of the crowd now surrounding Tim.
"Yes. It's Agent Timothy McGee of the NCIS" The evenings host Daryl Banks confirmed as he watched the waiter check for strength of pulse and carry out the myriad of little checks that a Sentinel first aider would do. Pressing on pressure points, to ground the sense of touch. Guide Voice to maximize the attempt to reach the sentinel through sound and breathing on the individual to reach their sense of smell and taste. Even moving closer and trying to engage the sentinel visually getting through to the sentinel via sight.
"It's time to come back now, Tim." The soothing young man continued to speak in a calm and commanding tone to the zoned agent. He continued his ministrations and was soon rewarded as the agents eyes slowly gained focus and connected with his. "That's it Timothy." The waiter sat back on his heels as the agent became more aware. Dropping his hands to the sentinel's hands the waiter continued to maintain skin and voice contact unless the sentinel gave some indication that they were no longer welcome.
The first thing that McGee was aware of was the warm mellow voice that worked it's way through his consciousness, and the warmth that seemed to spread through him from the grounding skin to skin touch on his face which had now moved to his hand. Tim found himself looking into light chocolate colored eyes. "…honey."He said as he could now label the scent that had caused him to fall into a major zone, somewhere it became catalogued as home/safe. The young face that had worn a concerned expression, looked confused for a brief second and then amused.
"If you say so...dear." There were answering relieved sounds of amusement from the onlookers. Moving to stand the teenager helped Tim to an upright position as he continued to keep skin contact. The others started to move away respectfully to give the sentinel time to center himself and reduce the stimuli of his surroundings.
Rama who had stayed to make sure that the agent was well, but had drifted to the back of the crowd as the more confident had pushed forward to give help, drifted towards the exit. "Why it's not like TV at all," she thought, "It's a little bit scary." Moving quicker she started to leave the scene and the building. She realized that she needed to give the life of a guide more thought. Climbing into her yellow VW she drove away with much to think about.
Back in the conference center Timothy held the hand of his first aider but didn't let go. All around him the rest of the mixer was getting back to thir previous activities, but Timothy had all his senses focused on the teen. "NCIS Junior Agent Sentinel Timothy McGee." He introduced himself trying to prolong the contact.
"Your waiter for the evening." was the amused reply.
"You're a guide?"
"The brown eyes narrowed as they looked at the quickly recovering agent that had somehow failed to release his hand and was still standing really close. "Yes. You're at a mixer you were probably looking for a guide. I think I saw her..." He stopped talking as, "high tail it out of here when she couldn't help you with that zone." Didn't seem quite the thing to say, "I'm sure there are..."
"No. I mean I think, I..I..think you're m,my guide." Tim stuttered a little as he said the possessive words.
The waiter pulled his hand firmly from the greedy sweaty grasp of the sentinel he'd just helped. I'm not your guide," he said gruffly.
"You don't want me." Tim stood there looking and feeling as if he had just been kicked in the stomach. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he would be rejected by a guide even if it was his guide.
"Take it easy my friend. There are lots of guide here and..." The young voice trailed off and Tim watched as the previously open face became pensive. "…I don't want to bond with anyone. I'm new to this guide stuff and I like being by myself in my own head just fine, thanks. I'm sorry there are a lot of people here just right for you. You should mingle." With that said he turned and walked away without looking back.
"I'm sure you're the one." Tim whispered as he watched the boy turn away from him and melt into the crowd. He knew that if this young teenager didn't agree to becoming his guide then he would leave tonight without one, Gibbs would not be pleased. Looking around the room, Timothy realized that the young waiter had made such a strong impression that all the other potential guides looked unappealing. The spark had gone. Never had he felt so alive. In the brief few moments he'd been with the waiter he had felt newly online and fully able to bring his gifts to the fore. Feeling more determined than he'd ever felt before Tim strode after the disappearing boy, the sentinel part of his brain that McGee had always felt absent or defective was now fully aware and hunting down his fleeing guide. "My guide." Timothy had been in contact with the guide just long enough and during the process of managing his zone the young guide had unknowingly enabled the sentinel to form a basic bond. It had been enough to pull Tim from a zone now it was enough to allow Tim to track the guide down. The overlay of sounds and scents were sifted and Tim latched onto the fragrance of nutmeg, sunshine and honey with a hint of musk and underlain somehow with sunshine and stalked forward.
Katey Carter turned as the young agent she had been talking to earlier walked passed. She'd thought him too weak and geeky before, but now she was re-analyzing the look in his eyes and the way he stalked around the room. It was a lot more like the strong sentinel that she had been seeking. Maybe she needed to give him a second chance. Edward the marine she was talking to touched her arm, and by the time she had carefully dismissed him and turned back to her new quarry the agent had gone. It didn't matter she knew where to find him.
In the wee hours of the night Jonathan O'Neill leaned casually against the post, as the last of the catering equipment was packed away. It had a long evening and he felt tired. Two part time jobs and finishing school were taking their toll. The rent and utility bills were putting a strain on his resources. Since moving from Colorado six months ago things hadn't been improving much. Until that is he'd managed to wrangle a series of part-time jobs. In order to completely separate himself from his old life he was unable to get financial backing or support from his older counterpart. For his own safety Colonel Jack O'Neill had fully abandoned the youngster confident that Jon would be able to look after himself. Existence didn't seem to be kind to a 15 year old emancipated with no family ties or local reference's. High school had been a bore and a trial. Real teenagers were self-absorbed, obnoxious, loud and petty. The only good thing about this year was that he had been able to fast track out of school gaining enough credits to leave early. Skipping graduation he'd worked enough to pay for his way to Washington DC with his GPA he could get a scholarship or failing that he was planning a cadet ship with local law enforcement. Since he had been created he'd drifted though life that didn't seem to fit him. Jon was no longer needed by anyone and all his former life he had been needed, useful.
At first Jon had tried to fit in, it had almost felt like an away mission. Unfortunately even if the colonel had been at times childish in behavior, the discrepancy between a 50 year old man's mentality and the average fifteen year olds had been too much. It had been tiring to try all the time and it wasn't long before he became isolated; a misfit among even the misfits. In order to not be noticed by shadow organizations such as the NID he had tested out of school and moved away.
He had always been a bit of a loner needing an outlet such as fishing to remove himself society, but now he was alone. It was hard to fight life for the sake of it alone. No foe, no greater stakes than his own personal comfort and it was hard to keep going.
The feeling of being watched made the hair on the back of his neck bristle and he looked casually over his shoulder. The sentinel from earlier was over by the far side of the building watching him again. Closing his eyes for a second he remembered the moment of connection they had shared earlier in the evening. For a little while he had had something, the promise of something more. A new life? Not one that he would have chosen but the current life he was living wasn't life. It was the habit of survival. Looking at the green eyed agent that had been around him all evening Jon let himself just for a moment contemplate the possibility of bonding with the sentinel.
Colonel O'Neill had never been an empath, in fact in his early years Jack had been expected to become a sentinel but had never come online. The Colonel could never be a guide, he didn't have the genes but Jon could because he was genetically different. Thor had fixed the clone creation of the rogue Asgard Loki, by splicing over the DNA problem area, using donor DNA from someone else to cover the Asgard tagged site of the originals DNA code in Jon. The results were something no one could have foreseen.
At first Jon had been unaware of his new status, but it wasn't long before he had worked out that the emotional rollercoster he felt was due to his new teenage body, was better or less confusing when he was away from the high school kids and other people. He had read up on books from the library that were there for the purpose of helping the newly developed guide. He was newly angered by what he had then persevered as another injustice, but never the less had worked to gain control of his empathy and shield himself mentally from the emotional leakage of others. Meditation and the calm mantras of martial arts had all helped balance him somewhat. The loneliness however was sharp and unrelenting some empaths needed... " a sentinel." He said out loud as he made his conclusions. He could be needed again, he could be of use once more. Jon turned towards the agent who had moved closer as Jon had been lost in thought and finally smiled and walked towards the sentinel, potentially his sentinel. At least this was something after months of nothing he had made his decision.
Sitting in Tim's car in the lay-by overlooking the lake a little bit away from Tim's apartment complex, the two young men chewed on the last of the left over buffet food, Jon had gotten from his catering boss. The early morning sunrise was accompanied by cool summer breeze. The gentle breeze moved the branches of tree that grew around them and the lay-by. It truly competed the tranquil atmosphere as the men watching the sunrise. Jon cleared his throat as he disturbed the comfortable silence that had fallen between them.
"So we're really doing this."
"It's almost done the bond has been growing since the moment we met. Or you served me those drinks."
Jon scoffed, "Bond at first sight is a myth."
"More like first sniff." Tim returned. He started up the car after putting the wrapping of the food he had been eating in a plastic bag beside him.
"So your place."
"It's traditional, a sentinel likes to.."
"Yeah I've read that... "the sentinel prefers to bring the new guide into his territory to begin the bonding." Jon jiggled his knees as he realized that this was just the beginning of the adjustments he would have to make as guide with a sentinel partner.
"Our territory." Tim reassured Jon. He had found Jon to be knowledgeable and more mature than his years. Over the last couple of hours they had chatted amiably about a variety of subjects from the serious side of bonding and amalgamating their lives to the more mundane of pet peeves. Tim only gave a passing thought to what his colleagues reaction would be to his young guide as he was still in awe of finding such a compatible guide. Putting the car into drive Tim drove them both home.