A/N: So, for my first NaNoWriMo, I tried my hand at a Sentinel/Guide/Neutral AU. I got the inspiration after reading the stories from Phantom_echo on ao3, so if you are interested in this AU, check out that profile.
I mostly base the information about Sentinels/Guides for my AU on that, though I changed/added a few things as the whole SGN thing doesn't seem to be as structured as for example the A/O/B verse, where one can find so many information about.
I tried watching the TV show ‚The Sentinel' but didn't find it very appealing. It's more the concept that intrigues me, so please don't expect this to go accordingly to the show.
Also, there is no BO and no shrinking in this story, though there are bad guys involved. Some characters will have a different Background to fit them into the story (nothing too major) and some will simply not exist.
The story is nearly finished and yes - I got the 50k words for NaNo :) Updates will be every Tuesday and Friday.
'Hello.' = mind speech
'Hello.' = inner voice
"Hello." = normal speech
I hope you have fun reading and I welcome reviews and concrit.
Guide you home
Case Ikeda Sayuri
"Please – don't let them find me! Please don't…"
The barely audible pleading whisper became louder in Shinichi's head. He focused some more on it to discern the direction it was coming from.
Under the rag on the polished wooden floor had to be a hidden trapdoor, and beneath it, they would find the little girl they were searching for.
He could hear her moving around, probably rocking back and forth. If he concentrated just a little harder he could even-
He paused. He knew the touch of this particular mind like his own. Warm and comfortable, she gently tugged at his consciousness.
'It's time to come back.'
Right - any further and he might have zoned out. Dialing down his hearing, he followed her lead without any resistance and let her guide his wandering senses back to himself.
As he anchored back into his body, his vision slowly cleared, and he realized that he was still on the exact same spot as before, Ran next to him, holding his hand. For how long they had been standing here, he had no idea, but it didn't matter much to him. He had found the Ikeda's missing daughter, who apparently had been hidden by her mother when some violent rubbers had broken into their home. Because both parents where unconscious at the hospital at the moment, no one had known what had happened to Ikeda Sayuri.
Megure had called for Shinichi, hoping that he could find her, using his heightened senses as a Level 5s Sentinel.
Since he had come online at the age of fifteen three years ago, he had learned how to use his powers to help the police with their cases. He had been well-known even before, thanks to his work as a high-school detective, but with this additional set of skills, he was called to crime scenes even more often.
Sure, among the police force were some Sentinels as well, but their levels were lower than Shinichi's. Satou Miwako for example was a Level 3s with heightened senses of taste, touch and sight. Especially sight was helpful when she had to aim her weapon or was maneuvering her red sports car with break-neck speed through Tokyo's heavy traffic. Takagi Wataru was her Guide.
No Sentinel was allowed to work on the police force without a Guide, no matter what level they were. The risk of slipping into a 'zone' was too high, and dangerous during a case. Zone outs happened when a Sentinel became too focused on one sense and lost himself in the sensation. They would just stop were they were standing, lost to the world around them, and had to wait until it wore off eventually or a Guide snapped them out of it.
Thankfully, it was quite easy to guide a 3s Sentinel or lower level back to reality and most Guides were able to do so, as long as their rank was appropriate. They were ranked from A to E, with C to E being most common while A and B were as scarce as the 4s or 5s Sentinels requiring them.
While a Rank A Guide could help any Sentinel no matter what level, a Guide with a Rank E could break his mind irreparably should he attempt to guide a Sentinel with a higher level than 1s out of a zone.
The classification and ranking were determined in the MindCenters throughout the country as soon as a Guide or a Sentinel came online. Lower ranks got the option to register themselves to find a match, though most opted to search for a partner among their friends and family first. Guides ranked A or B and Sentinels level 4s or 5s hadn't that freedom. They were forced by the law to get registered and matched up as soon as possible and bond at best. 5s Level Sentinels even had to stay at the center until a matching Guide was found.
No without reason.
4s Sentinels could slip into a 'fugue' where more than one sense was hypersensitive. They weren't able to get back to themselves on their own and a Guide was always needed.
Even worse could it become for a 5s. If all five of their senses went into overdrive, it was called a 'rage'. As the name suggested, it could involve aggressive behavior against others or themselves and could end in grave physical and mental injuries.
Shinichi fondly squeezed Ran's hand as she smiled at him, welcoming him back.
Hadn't she been with him when he'd come online, he was sure he wouldn't be here today.
They both hadn't known about their status back then and Shinichi had been on the field with his soccer team, with Ran in the cheering crowd. He remembered how she had complained about the cold weather and why they had to play outside where her feet would freeze on the spot. It hadn't been that bad, but she wanted to make sure that he knew he owed her a hot chocolate or something afterwards.
It were the last seconds in the game and Shinichi had the ball. All the other players in his team were guarded by opponents and he was the only one who could shoot the winning goal.
Excitement cursed through his veins. He concentrated hard, sweat running down his temples and the muscles in his legs already straining from all the dashing around during the game. Some soreness the day after was a given already.
But he could do it. His team was counting on him.
When he pulled back his leg to give the ball a hard, precise kick to send it into the utmost upper left corner the goalie could impossibly reach, it happened.
Suddenly, his vision tunneled in on the net in that corner, focusing on the slightly worn material and completely blocking out the rest of the stadium. The noise of the crowd that until then only had been in the background, thundered in his ears, his hearing dialed up painfully. The smell of his own sweat, mingled with that of grass and dirt was almost overwhelming. He must have bitten his lip at some point and the rusty taste of blood was heavy and made him gag. When he fell to the ground dizzy and disorientated, the grass seemed to consist of actual blades, slicing into his skin.
His own scream rang deafening through his mind that held him captive with too bright, too loud, too much of everything.
No one had anticipated something like this or was prepared in any way. The Guide who kept an eye on the team as a medic was only Rank B, what normally was more than enough to deal with the few players who were 2s or 3s Sentinels. That one of the remaining players would come online as a 5s and so violently at that, had been unexpected.
Sensing Shinichi's need, the Guide had tried to help but after realizing his level, he couldn't do anything without risking to go insane.
The ensuing minutes stretched like eternities for Shinichi as he lay there, barely able to breathe, because every shuddering intake of air sent icy knifes down his throat and he clawed at his neck, where the fabric of his clothing was itchy like hell, without noticing that he was drawing blood.
Slowly, very slowly, he felt how everything faded away from him and he welcomed it, embraced the numbness, not knowing that is was due to lack of oxygen and that he would suffocate if nothing was done soon.
Finally, shortly before he was about to black out, he felt the relieving touch of two hands on his face, cooling his feverish skin, smoothing away the panic deep inside him and capturing his hands to prevent him from hurting himself further. The smell of a familiar parfum washed over him and a mind so kind and loving, tenderly reached out to his bruised senses – calming them little by little.
Something hot and wet dripped onto his face and he knew she was crying but still found the strength to guide him back safely.
'I'm here, Shinichi' he heard her voice directly inside his head and he let got, let himself fall into her waiting mind. 'Don't worry – I'll take care of you. Breathe.'
'Ran...' And he did what she told him and inhaled deeply, relishing the air filling his lungs without any pain.
All Ran did was purely on instinct as she hadn't had any proper training as a Guide, just the basic knowledge all kids learned in school.
Children were Neutrals until they hit puberty. Some would come online, some would not and as puberty came at different ages, one never knew for sure if they would become a Guide or a Sentinel until they were sixteen. Coming online later than that was extremely rare.
Ran and Shinichi were both fifteen, almost sixteen, and hadn't really anticipated being anything else than Neutrals anymore.
But in response to his own distress, she had come online as well.
She'd seen him fall, heard his anguished scream and her own mind answered with an explosion of impressions. With the need to reach out to her boyfriend, she was halfway over the field before she even knew what she was doing. Next to him, she dropped to her knees and fear lanced through her when she heard his rattling breaths and saw the blood on his hands and neck. Ran tenderly touched his cheeks and they burned fever-hot against her palms.
And then his breathing stopped.
There was no time to wait for the MindCenter to send a medic to take over - he needed her. Now! Without caring about the red staining her, she took his hands and closed her eyes.
She tried to focus on him and only him, to turn out the ruckus around them. As gentle as possible, yet determined, she pushed against Shinichi's roaring mind, prodding him to make her presence known.
Bit by bit, she collected his shattered self and began to reconstruct it, putting him together until he was whole again. Ran didn't even notice that she was crying before she read the thought about her hot, wet tears in his mind.
Relief rushed through her, because now she knew he was aware of her and that she could reach him.
'I'm here, Shinichi. Don't worry - I'll take care of you. Breathe.'
She felt how he relaxed and gave in to her guiding, hanging onto her with absolute trust. Oxygen cycled through his blood again and she felt how her own breathing had been shallow at best.
When she finally pulled him through the last layers to the surface of reality, they both were exhausted and collapsed right there and then.
They then had been brought to the next center and were matched up immediately.
It wasn't unheard of that a Guide would come online when faced with a Sentinel in need, but it was seldom in the combination of Level 5s Sentinel and Rank A Guide.
While Shinichi recovered from his rage, Ran began her special training as a Rank A Guide at the center. After that, they decided that Ran would move in with him in his parent's house until they were of legal age and could decide were they wanted to live. Her father Mouri Kogoro had not been pleased and had Shinichi accused that he'd dragged his beloved daughter into this mess just to have his way with her, but in the end, he had to give in, because as dependent as Shinichi was on Ran, she was on him.
She always had been kind but coming online had amplified that a thousand-fold and she was constantly confronted with the feelings of the people surrounding her. She'd learned to regulate it by erecting shields around her mind, but true calmness and rest, she only found when she entered Shinichi's mind and he welcomed her there unconditionally whenever she tentatively knocked against his awareness.
Without that reprieve from time to time, she was at risk of going into 'Guide-shock', somewhat an equivalent to 'zone', 'fugue' and 'rage'. It could happen when a Guide was frightened, in pain or extremely exhausted.
So, to keep both of them safe and sound, they had to stick together and in the Mouri Detective Agency was simply not enough room for another teenager.
Their bond had formed easily and while some thought sex was always involved, there were many different ways. For them, it had been the deep trust they held for each other since early childhood. They already had been dating a while and taking it a step farther had come naturally.
Back in the here and now in the Ikeda's living room, Shinichi was more than grateful when he looked at the young woman next to him, because having a bond meant a bond for life that couldn't be broken, and he couldn't imagine that with anyone else. After all, he had always been in love with her.
She was accompanying him on his investigations whenever possible, because she always felt when he was about to fall into a zone, even though it hadn't been easy for her in the beginning. Overwhelmed by the negative emotions from culprits and suspects alike, she had fled into the sanctuary of Shinichi's mind and had stayed there, clinging to his arm. After she'd gotten a handle on her shield abilities, it had become better. Now, she sometimes even was capable to point out the culprit to Shinichi if they didn't keep their emotions in check, so he just had to look for the evidence. But she was very careful with such hints, because emotions could be misleading at times and she didn't want to wrongly accuse someone of murder.
At the times she had to take care of her own education, Shinichi took Senes-2 to neutralize two of his senses, so even a Rank C Guide like Takagi was able to help him, should zoning be a problem.
Senes were drugs to help Sentinels during the wait for a matching Guide, and they worked well enough for all Levels, but they were just recommended for short-time usage, because of the possible side-effects. One of those was that one couldn't predict which of the senses would be blocked, while the remaining ones were accordingly heightened. Taking Senes-4 could be devastating for a 5s like Shinichi if the last active sense turned out that sensitive that he would zone immediately.
There also was Senes-5, what basically made him a Neutral for approximately half a day after taking it. It really wasn't recommended to suppress all of your senses, especially not over an extended length of time, because the backlash could be vicious. It was mostly used in medical emergencies like surgery when the patient couldn't be sedated fully, or the heightened senses would send them into shock otherwise.
Beside all the medical reasons, Shinichi simply didn't like it when his senses were normalized by the drugs. Everything felt so dull and smudged then, he feared he could miss a lead or realize it too late. Sure, he had been a good detective even before he came online, but with some cases, time was of essence and if life gave him a gift like this, he wouldn't let it go to waste.
Ran gave him one last reassuring squeeze with her hand before letting go, so he could go one with the case.
But instead of returning to where Megure was waiting, he turned to her.
"Ran, you've heard the voice of the girl. Could you-? I mean, I know you usually don't want to get involved with the cases, but Sayuri-chan is likely to panic if she sees a man and as a woman and with your empathy, you will be able to help her better than any of us."
She smiled warmly. Shinichi knew how uncomfortable she often felt on crime scenes and tried his best to keep her on the sidelines, but this time she helped gladly, so she nodded, and Shinichi motioned to two officers to roll back the heavy carpet.
Sure enough, a trapdoor became visible and Ran positioned herself in front of it, kneeling on the floor. Lightly, she knocked against the wooden planks and spoke with a soft voice.
"Hello? Sayuri-chan? I know you are afraid, but I'm here to help you. My name is Ran. I promise, nothing will happen to you. May I open the trap door?"
Everything was silent for a few moments, before they heard a quite shuffling noise. A small, frightened voice sounded through the trapdoor.
"Re- really? Are they gone? Where- where are my mom and dad?"
Ran frowned. Telling the girl that her parents were currently unconscious at the hospital would only frighten her, so she wordlessly apologized for the little white lie she would use. Better tell her what had happened when they were able to actually take care of her and not while she was hiding in a dark small bolt-hole.
"They got a little injured and the doctors are taking care of them right now. They are waiting for you to come and see them." Not entirely true, but also not completely lied either. With a little bit of luck her parents would be already awake when they brought Sayuri to them as they hadn't been off too bad as far as Ran knew.
"So, do you want to go see your mom and dad?"
She waited a moment and when there was only a sniffling sound but no refusal, she slowly opened the trapdoor with the assistance of an officer.
It was just a small crawl-space under the floor, big enough for a child but too confined for an adult. Sayuri was kneeling on all fours and her tear-streaked face was turned away from the bright light that flooded her hide-out.
Ran held out her hand and gave the girl an encouraging smile. "Sayuri-chan, come - take my hand. Let's go to your parents."