Title: The Colonel and the Fed
Fandom: Criminal Minds/Stargate – All Media
Category: Sentinel, Fusion, Romance, Angst
Pairings: Aaron Hotchner/Jack O’Neill
Characters: Aaron Hotchner, Jack O’Neill, Spencer Reid, Daniel Jackson, John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, OFC, OMC, other Stargate Characters, John Blackwolf
Summary: Aaron Hotchner was a Guide of a different nature who always knew who his Sentinel was but wasn’t ready for that commitment. Now, older and with two children and a career, he wonders if he’s ready. When he runs into Colonel Jack O’Neill he knows this may be his last chance and dives in with both feet. Luckily the Colonel is on board with that idea.
Words: 20, 483
Warnings: No-Beta, Kidnapping, Canon-Level Violence
Tags: Slash, Bonding Sex, Threesome
Beta: None. No non-consensual Beta
Notes: I’ve created a new type of Guide. One that taps into the ley lines of the world instead of the Psionic plane like in the typical Sentinel tropes. The Guides spirit animal is also more corporeal than the typical guide.
“Daniel, what exactly are we doing here?” Colonel O’Neill asked as the two men walked around the Jeffersonian special exhibit. Artifacts that the two of them had brought back from their various adventures with the SGC were on display. The exhibit was a test run for possible declassification of the Stargate program. Each artifact had a vague description on a small placard next to it and let people think what they would about their origins. All items had been freely given to the SG team by very grateful people across the galaxy, or they had been found objects on abandoned worlds. There were no stolen artifacts, Daniel and Jack both had been adamant about that with their team.
“I told you, Jack. I was pulled from the Ascended plane by the feel of my Guide. He came online while I was gone and when I found out you know I was devastated about that. He’s here this weekend and I wanted you to meet him outside of the Mountain.”
“Fine. Then let’s get this shindig started.” Jack walked towards the stanchions where the closed ropes held the crowd back. Jack was surprised at how many people had showed up. He made a very quick and vague speech about what everyone was going to see that night and that donations to the museum were very much welcomed. He opened up the ropes and smiled before he walked away towards the beverage table. He was very grateful they had beer. It may have been, in his mind, foo-foo beer, but he wasn’t one to refuse free alcohol.
“You’ve been staring at that bottle for about twenty minutes. Are you all right, Sentinel?” A deep voice that Jack could listen to for days on end and not get tired of it spoke next to him. There was concern and a bit a humor as the Guide projected towards him, but didn’t push at his shields. A gentle hand wrapped around his wrist as he pulled out of the zone he had not realized he had been in.
Jack swallowed and turned to look at the man standing next to him and his breath caught in his throat. The man was gorgeous. Jack knew him from somewhere, but his brain wasn’t quite catching up.
“Yeah, I didn’t realise I had zoned. On a bottle of fancy assed beer at that.”
The man smiled and Jack tried not to let out the unmanly whine that wanted to escape.
“Anyone ever tell you that smile is rather deadly.”
“Several times. Though it hasn’t been proven yet.”
“That’s because he only smiles at people he likes.” Another man, younger and what Jack would call prettier stood next to the first one. Daniel was on the heels of the younger man and was holding his hand.
“Daniel?” Jack quicked up a brow as he looked towards his best friend and fellow Sentinel.
“Jack, this is Guide Dr. Spencer Reid, specifically he’s my Guide, and that is Guide Prime Special Agent Aaron Hotchner, Spencer’s boss.”
“And friend. Please, Aaron is fine.”
Jack tilted his head to the side and narrowed his eyes. The name sounded very familiar to him. It only took a moment to finally place a name with the handsome face.
“The same Special Agent who works closely with Jason Gideon at the FBI?”
“You know Jason?” Aaron looked like he was about to apologize for something, but Jack just smiled at him.
“I do. He helped me out with a Government project vetting some of our people.”
“And that’s it?” Aaron appeared as if he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Aaron looked down at the drink in his hand and frowned.
“Are you all right, Agent?”
Aaron swallowed and looked up at Jack.
“Please, call me Aaron. And, I’m fine. Usually when someone brings up Jason, there’s a but in there somewhere. And, we’ve recently had some issues…” Aaron was quiet almost like he had retreated inside himself and Jack, though he wasn’t a Guide, he did have a healthy dose of empathy for a Sentinel. It was how he usually was able to charm his way out of many hairy situations. He could smell guilt, frustration, and sadness in the Guide’s scent pile. It had Jack wanting to reach out and sooth whatever it was that was hurting the man. A hand on Aaron’s shoulder had him looking over to see Spencer frowning.
“I’m okay, Reid.”
“Do we have to talk about this again?” Spencer looked concerned and Jack wondered what the two agents weren’t saying with words that they were with their actions.
“No. Look, I should probably go. I’m not great company tonight. I only came because Spencer and Daniel practically dragged me here.” Aaron set his cup down on the table and turned to start walking away.
“I have an idea.” Jack had felt drawn to the agent and wondered if the man was his Guide. Jack normally didn’t give into the type of instincts that were pushing at him, but Aaron had felt in distress and Jack didn’t ever like to leave a Guide in pain.
Jack slipped his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels a little as he considered the question on his mind. He felt Aaron warily watching him.
“I know a little coffee shop near here. Let me buy you some coffee. Maybe something a little decadent. I think we may have some stuff to talk about.” Stuff that Jack had not wanted to consider, but the more he was in Aaron’s presence the more he was accepting the truth of the man. Aaron was most likely, his Guide, but Jack didn’t want to jump to conclusions. He had done that once already and SG1 had been rocked a little too hard in the aftermath. Jack, though, didn’t want to go there. He didn’t want to think about…
Aaron crossed his arms over his chest and frankly if Jack wasn’t sure the man was a Guide he would mistake him for a very powerful Sentinel. Aaron oozed Alpha male much like Jack did. It was effortless, and Jack thought that the man was always aware of himself and what he projected out into the world. It was a delicate balance, especially for a Guide.
“Okay.” Aaron nodded and Jack was wondering if the man was trying to reassure Jack, or himself. The two walked out together not knowing they left behind a very stunned pair who watched, both gaping at Jack and Aaron.
The small coffee shop was perfect. It afforded the two men a level of privacy that each had rarely ever known. It was quiet and for that time of night in DC it was relatively empty. Aaron sat down across from Jack with a coffee cup in his hands.
“I’ve rarely had someone bring me out of zone that quickly. I still can’t believe I zoned on a bottle of beer.”
Aaron chuckled a little and again Jack tried not to get too lost in the smile that came across the man’s face.
“I’m glad I could help.”
Jack took a sip of his coffee and part of him wanted to reach out and pull Aaron onto his lap to nuzzle at his neck. That thought had Jack blushing as he took a sip of his own coffee. He knew what a mess this could be. There were a lot of factors that would need to be worked out if it turned out that Aaron was his Guide. Jack was pretty smart about these things and in this, he was almost certain he was right.
“Why don’t we just get right to the elephant in the room, shall we?” Jack pursed his lips a moment and pushed his cup away from him to lean on the table, putting the full force of that part of himself that was Sentinel projected into his aura.
“And what elephant is that, Colonel O’Neill?”
“So you do know who I am.” Jack almost, but not really felt bad for not properly introducing himself.
“We actually met a few years ago when you came to Sheppard Industries for a meeting with Patrick Sheppard. I was visiting home, taking some time off from the Prosecutor’s office.”
“And this is where I ask how you know Patrick Sheppard?” Jack narrowed his eyes and tilted his head because he was beginning to see that there was more to Guide Hotchner than met the eye. He watched the man pull back and felt him close up his shields tightly enough that Jack almost got no reading off of him. Not even any residual feelings.
Aaron looked down at the table and tapped his fingers for a moment.
“I was eleven years old when I came online. My father was a bastard and I took the brunt of his anger. One night when my mother was still at work, she was a surgeon and had been called in on an emergency, she left the Nanny in charge of myself and my little brother. Those times I would stay with the Nanny and my little brother. Sean had taken to me right away and I always felt like it was my duty to protect him. I would often read in the corner of his nursery while he played on the floor.
“However, this particular night Sean was sick. He had a fever and the Nanny was trying to keep him comfortable but he couldn’t stop crying. My father came in the nursery and threw the Nanny out, he was going to go after Sean and I stepped in front of him. He threw me across the room. You always hear that Guide’s don’t go feral, but with how violently I came online I immediately went feral in protection of my brother.
“The Nanny, I found out later tried to call the hospital to get my Mother to come home, but she was in the middle of surgery so the Nanny called someone else in our family. Patrick Sheppard is my mother’s cousin. It didn’t take long for him and Emma to get to the house. I don’t really remember much other than Cousin Emma going full Sentinel on my father and Patrick used his Guide abilities to help calm me down. The next time I woke up, I was in John’s bed. Apparently he wouldn’t let me out of his sight. Mom was there also and we just never left. Emma and Patrick, they wanted us there.”
“Why am I not surprised you’re related to the Sheppards. It should be illegal for you all to be as fucking pretty as you are.” Jack softly laughed at Aaron’s flushed cheeks. “You are being rather forthcoming for us only meeting twice now.”
Aaron looked up and sipped his coffee for a moment and Jack knew he was trying to gather his thoughts. While he waited for Aaron to say more he thought back to that meeting. It was at the very beginning of the Stargate program. A year after the first Abydos mission. It took him only a moment to understand why Aaron was being as forthcoming as he was. That meeting had Jack running as far away as he could.
“I see you remember that day.”
Jack threw his spoon to the side and pressed himself against the back of the booth. He rubbed at his temple as regrets, guilt, and a little fear had welled up inside him.
“I don’t know if either of us was ready, Jack. I know I wasn’t. I was 22, idealistic, and getting married. Even though I knew the moment I met you I knew you were my Sentinel. I didn’t want it.”
“I wasn’t ready either, Aaron. I can’t go into my reasons because it’s all tied up in the same project and you would need to read a mountain of paperwork and sign even more. But, I think we need to talk some things out.”
Aaron almost choked on his coffee and Jack kept a quizzical look on his face.
“I’ve heard from Patrick that you’re a functional mute. I know I tend to keep a lot inside, but living with Emma Sheppard, she didn’t let you hide. When I lost my wife after our son was born, it was a difficult time. I was allowed my grief, but not my silence and I’m grateful my family forced me to open up.”
“May I ask what happened to her?”
Aaron pushed the coffee back and forth on the table a moment.
“She came down with lymphoma. We thought we had headed it off, and she was in remission, but after our son Jack was born, it came back and it was aggressive. She died a year later. When I had the chance to come back to Virginia, I took it. Patrick and Emma helped me a lot that year. Part of me wanted…”
Jack leaned forward and crossed his arms on the table. He waited with bated breath to find out what Aaron wanted to say. When he wasn’t forthcoming, Jack nudged Aaron a little.
“Part of you wanted, what Aaron?”
“Part of me wanted my Sentinel. After Haley passed I was a mess and had to spend a little while at the Center to help with my grief. I almost had a major empathic event, but it was John, who was on leave at that time, that helped to keep me together.”
“The two of you are close then.”
“Like brothers. And, I have a feeling you, Jack O’Neill have something to do with him disappearing?”
“Classified. Yeah I know.”
“Just know that he is doing well.”
“But, John isn’t what we need to talk about.”
“No. No I suppose we should talk about what we are going to do about us.”
A waitress came by and refilled Aaron’s cup as well as Jack’s.
“I think before we can have that conversation, I need to know what it is you really do out there in Colorado. Because it sure isn’t Deep Space Radar Telemetry. Not with the tech that keeps coming in and out of SI.”
“Then I suppose you need to come out to Colorado where I can not only tell you, I can show you as well. I don’t think either of us can deny what we are to each other this time, Aaron. Even if it changes both of our lives.”
“Yes, Peanut?” Aaron turned away from the closet in his hotel room after he pulled on the polo shirt he had in his hand and looked over at his daughter.
“Are you going to have sex with your Sentinel?” The girl sat down on the edge of the bed and started to swing her legs, kicking the edge as she waited with bated breath.
Aaron probably would have choked on something if he had been drinking his usual morning coffee, but luckily he hadn’t been.
“Faye, sweetheart, where did you hear that?” Aaron walked over and sat on the bed next to her daughter.
Faye shrugged her shoulder and looked down at her lap a moment.
“The classes at the center. They told us all about the different kinds of bonds. And I overheard Auntie Penny, and Auntie Em talking about how they thought Uncle Daniel and Uncle Spencer are hot and they wouldn’t mind….”
“Okay young lady I think we need to talk about you not eavesdropping when Emily and Penelope come over to watch you and your brother.”
Faye was quiet a moment then sighed as she leaned into her father. Her spirit guide, Tigger was curled up on her lap. The Lynx was still young, but Aaron knew it would grow much bigger. The Lynx fit his daughter to a tee. She was a bit of a free spirit, but also too much of a loner like he was. Her protective instincts towards her brother Jack were fierce. Aaron scratched behind Tigger’s ears and the cat let out a soft purr. It wasn’t like petting a real flesh and blood animal, but there was something soothing and comforting in touching a spirit guide.
Aaron bent down and kissed the top of Faye’s head. The tone in her voice and her elevated heart rate told Aaron that she was anxious about something.
“If you do bond, does that mean we have to move?”
“I don’t really know sweetheart. But, there is a lot O’Neill and I have to talk about first. We might find that we aren’t compatible at all.”
“Then why did we come?” Faye’s face was scrunched up in concern as she tilted her head to look up at her father.
“There are things I can’t tell you, Faye. But, we are here so that you and Jack can meet the Colonel and see if you like him. You know I won’t do anything that you and your brother don’t like, or feel anxious over. If that means leaving here and not being with my Sentinel, then that is what will happen.”
“But, Daddy, you can’t give him up!”
Aaron wanted to close his eyes and rub his face in frustration. Faye was at that age where contradictions were a daily, even sometimes an hourly thing. It didn’t help that she was a Sentinel and had come online after Haley had died. Her grief had pushed her there too soon. The Center had tried to calm her enough to stop the process, but her emotions were too strong. Added to that, both Faye and Jack were gifted children academically and it made for many frustrating days for all of them.
“Honey, I can’t do both. I can’t be with someone you and Jack don’t like, or if we aren’t compatible. You have to give me a break here kiddo.”
Faye took a deep dramatic breath before she jumped off the bed upending Tigger as she leaned forward and kissed Aaron on the cheek.
“I’ll meet him. But, if he makes you sad he’ll have to deal with me.”
Aaron wanted to laugh, but he kept it inside because his daughter was just too adorable.
“I promise you first dibs at him if he breaks my heart.” Aaron tried to keep himself from the laugh that was just on the edge of bursting free.
“Dad,” was said in that pre-teen exasperation that Aaron had known so well from both Sean and Alec. He never thought he would hear it from his own daughter.
“Dillon Faye, you don’t have to protect me. That’s my job to protect you. I know your instincts are making you frustrated lately, but I can assure you that as the adult, and your parent you don’t need to worry.”
Faye crossed her arms and Aaron was struck by how much she was like him. Jack was turning out to be more like Haley and he did not look forward to his teenage years. Faye looked thoughtful as she shuffled her foot a little.
“Do I have to call him Dad?”
“I think you’re getting ahead of me here sweetheart. Why don’t we start with the lunch we’ve scheduled. And, you will never have to do anything you don’t want to, okay?”
Faye took in a quick breath and let it out. She nodded her head as Tigger laid across her feet, snuffling at her.
“Okay. Can I go watch TV?”
Aaron nodded his ok and before he daughter ran off, he got a hug.
“It is way too early in the day to deal with these questions.” Aaron scrubbed his face, then stood and went to the bathroom to examine himself in the mirror. He had tried several different outfits already. He laughed about how nervous he was about spending more time with the Colonel. Smoothing down the polo, he slipped his hands in the pockets of the perfectly tailored trousers he had chosen. The Colonel had said business casual was fine and Aaron was trying not to reach for one of the suits he had brought. Instead, he pulled out the sueded jacket that was a perfect color match to the trousers. He knew it was his armour, but he didn’t think he could go to this meeting without something to make him feel more comfortable.
Running his hand through his loose hair, Aaron had decided against his usual hair gel. When he was finally satisfied he looked at himself in the mirror. Thirty-six, widowed, two kids, a career, and a girlfriend left behind. What are you doing Hotchner? Aaron had second guessed this whole endeavor until one day about a week prior to coming to Colorado, Daniel had sat Aaron down and told him some of his own story. Their shared experience of losing their spouses had bonded the two of them.
Aaron was the first one Spencer had wanted to introduce Daniel to. He knew his relationship with Spencer was close, but having the honor of meeting Spencer’s Sentinel first had Aaron a little off balance in the beginning. The two of them had shared a lot of things after Jason had so abruptly left, their brief affair was something to help both of them trying to get past the grief and pain of being left behind. Aaron had to take a moment to shake himself out of the past and give himself one more look in the mirror. He could admit he was nervous as hell.
Walking out of the bedroom he made his way towards the small living room that was between his room and the kids room. Jessica was using the pull out couch to sleep on. Aaron had felt bad at first, but Jessica reassured him that she was fine with it.
“Well, look at you.” Jessica walked over and smoothed out Aaron’s jacket and smiled at him. “Don’t you worry about us. We’ll be fine.” Aaron indicated with his head for Jessica to follow him to the kitchen. After she moved towards the coffee pot to pour coffee for the both of them, Aaron shut the door and turned up the dampener.
“Faye was asking a lot of questions I was not prepared to answer. And I need to have a talk with my team about what is appropriate conversation around my daughter.”
Jessica pressed her lips together as her eyes sparkled with amusement.
“Someone have to give ‘the talk?’” Jessica teased.
“No, I’ve had those age appropriate conversations with both Jack and Faye. But, seems the center has already started to discuss bonds and the different kinds. She just shocked me with some of her questions.”
“She’s curious and scared, Aaron.”
“I know. Frankly so am I. I have no idea what I am walking into.”
“Just don’t do your usual.”
Aaron tilted his head a bit as he leaned on the counter.
“And what is that?”
“Profile to death and scrutinize every little thing. Don’t profile, Aaron. Turn it off and just be yourself.”
Aaron looked up towards the ceiling a moment then over to Jessica.
Jessica went to say more, but the doorbell rang which signalled that Daniel was there to pick him up. Aaron gave Jessica a quick kiss on the cheek before he moved to the door to open it.
“Right on time.”
“We better get going. The Colonel is….well he’s just being Jack.”
Aaron furrowed his brow and Daniel laughed.
“You’ll understand in time. The man is…well he has his own way of doing things.”
“Should I be worried?”
Daniel’s smile wasn’t exactly reassuring, but Aaron could tell from what Daniel was feeling was affection for Colonel O’Neill.
“I would be.” Daniel laughed and Aaron just shook his head. After saying goodbye to the kids, Aaron was on his way to a mysterious mountain, and possibly a new future.
Aaron stood in a conference room staring out the large window at nothing. There was some kind of shield blocking the view of whatever was on the other side. He stood there more to give himself something to do while he waited for O’Neill.
He slipped his hands in his trouser pockets and rocked back on his feet a little. He let his mind wander, trying to not speculate on his current situation. He didn’t want to put up any barriers between him and Jack. Watson was laying across Aaron’s feet offering comfort.
Aaron knew the moment Jack came into the room. He chose not to turn around and preferred to wait for Jack to come to him.
“That isn’t the most stimulating view.”
Aaron didn’t hold back the chuckle that slipped out as he finally turned around and leaned back against the glass. He regarded the Colonel a moment. The man was even more gorgeous in his Air Force regulated BDU’s and tight black t-shirt. The man worked out and it showed. For the first time since they had met again and acknowledged what they were to each other, Aaron actually wanted. He pushed down on that feeling as he looked up at Jack.
“I figured that whatever is on the other side of that shield, it’s something that I am yet to be privy to.” Watson had moved towards the Colonel and started to sniff at his feet.
“Your spirit animal is very curious.”
“Yes he is. He is also a good judge of character.”
O’Neill walked towards Aaron and it was like the whole world had taken a collective breath and was holding onto it. Aaron waited, transfixed as he watched O’Neill move like a dangerous animal on the prowl. He had the impression that the Colonel moved like that all the time. Purpose in every stride as he stopped even with Aaron. O’Neill leaned in close and Aaron was again hit with the impression that Colonel Jack O’Neill was a caged animal that willingly let himself be confined in the cramped halls of Cheyenne Mountain. It told Aaron that whatever was going on down here was important.
“Do I make you nervous, Aaron?”
Aaron didn’t take his eyes off of Jack’s face.
“Frankly, yes. Everything about this situation makes me nervous.”
Jack just smiled as he leaned in towards Aaron even more.
“Good.” Then just like that Jack’s presence was gone and Aaron felt the loss. He hid his shaking hands in his pockets as he pushed away from the windows and settled in one of the chairs.
“If your goal is to keep me off guard, you’ve succeeded.”
Jack looked smug and Aaron just glared at the man till a packet of paperwork was slid over to him. Watson curled up on the table in front of Aaron, glaring at Jack, who looked thoroughly amused.
Aaron knew that if this happened, he was going to have his hands full with his Sentinel. Opening the packet Aaron read through the Non-Disclosure Agreement. He took his time like he would with any government forms because you never knew what someone was going to slip into a form that could come to bite you on the ass later.
“Even though DADT was stopped before it ever found legs, we still felt a need for strong protections for Sentinel’s and Guides. Especially for same-sex couples. General Hammond and myself have done our best to weed out prejudice, but we both know it still exists.”
“Yes it does.” Aaron murmured softly under his breath, but knew Jack could hear him if he wanted. The room went quiet as Aaron finished reading through the documents. He felt comfortable signing them, then handed them back to Jack. “So, aliens are real?”
“Usually the reaction is a bit more passionate.”
Aaron snorted as he leaned back in the chair, but not before burying his hand in Watson’s fur. The spirit animal was more corporeal than most and the Center always assumed it had to do with how strong of a Guide Aaron was, but they weren’t sure because it was so very rare.
“When you have someone like Spencer Reid on your team, you tend to begin to believe that anything is possible.”
“That I have no doubt.” Jack stood and moved towards a panel that Aaron had not seen at first. He stood and went back to the window, anticipation ran through him as Jack smiled. Aaron felt Jack watching him as he manipulated the panel and the shield started to descend. That was when Aaron got to see the Stargate for the first time. Up till then it had only been a word on a page.
“It’s very imposing.”
“You know I only believe half of what was in those reports.”
“That’s because you have a healthy dose of scepticism.”
“It’s what helps me keep my team together and on track.”
Jack moved closer and stood shoulder to shoulder with Aaron.
“When Hammond approves it, how about I take you through it.”
Aaron turned and looked at Jack a moment before he spoke once more.
“You aren’t going to give me ‘the speech’?”
“What speech?” Jack frowned as he watched Aaron pull back physically, then felt those shields shutdown completely.
“The, ‘you’re a Guide and you shouldn’t be in the field, or doing dangerous work’ speech.”
Jack’s eyebrows went so high Aaron thought they could get lost in Jack’s short bangs.
“I’ve read your full file, Aaron. I know you were SWAT for two years and your marksmen scores are better than eighty percent of the men on this base. You also have a dangerous job, I am not going to coddle you. I figure you can handle yourself.”
“You wouldn’t believe the bullshit I’ve received from Sentinel’s over the years.’
Jack moved in close and reached out to touch Aaron just under his jaw, a thumb ran along Aaron’s cheek. That simple touch had Aaron leaning towards Jack to press his forehead against Jack’s.
“Then they didn’t deserve you. I was a complete fool to walk away from you that day at SI. I’ve dreamed about you over the years. I made one bad decision after another. This, here the Stargate program and the people who work with me, this is one of the best decisions I made. I hope that after today…” Jack pulled back to look Aaron in the eye, “I hope that after today it’s another really good decision.”
“Jack, if you had made a move that day, I never would have my kids and they mean the world to me. I would hate to be in a world without them. But, I hope we make the right decision as well.” Aaron stepped closer and wrapped an arm around Jack’s waist, a sense of anticipation filled the air as they leaned in towards each other. Of course it was about that time that they heard a throat clearing coming from the doorway.
“Go away, Daniel.”
“I’m sorry, Jack. I can’t. Someone’s here and Hammond has them in his office not letting them go.”
Jack turned to look at Daniel and frowned.
Daniel looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but where he was and Aaron had a terrible feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Shit.” Jack let out the expletive and a few more before he pulled away from Aaron. “I have to go deal with this.”
“I promise to explain everything, but I need to deal with this. Wait for me?”
“Of course.” Aaron softly smiled as he sat down again, apprehension rose and Aaron wondered why he was on high alert. Something in Jack’s emotional signature had Aaron on guard. He watched as his Sentinel and Daniel left the conference room. Aaron for the fist time in a long time was scared.
Taking out his phone to try to distract himself with one of the word games that Spencer had downloaded for him, he tried to take his mind off of what was going on. He was so focused he didn’t hear or feel anyone coming which wasn’t like him. The sudden sharp pain in his neck had Aaron frowning and turning around. He saw three men he didn’t recognize. Aaron tried to stand, but whatever he had been shot with was working fast.
“Who the fuck…”
“Shh, it’s okay Guide Hotchner. We aren’t going to hurt you, just someone wants to talk to you and Carter needs to have a chat with her Sentinel.”
Aaron felt his heart beating hard in his chest as he tried desperately to stay on his feet. He had no idea who the hell this Carter was but there was no fucking way she was going to take Jack from him. Jack was his.
He tried to speak once more, but Aaron couldn’t, he felt like he had been shot through with lead because he felt heavy. He felt himself falling, then he knew nothing more. The last thought he had was to Watson, find Jack. Find our Sentinel.
Jack wasn’t just angry, he was downright pissed. How Carter got inside the mountain he would find out later. His hands clenched and unclenched as he stormed off towards Hammond’s office. He knew he was projecting and soldiers in the hallways fled away from their obviously furious commander. Jack would later apologize, in his own way, but right now he had a problem to take care of.
“Do you know how she got in?” Jack finally bit out when he was able to speak as he kept up his fast stride with Daniel beside him.
“We’re checking. But, it looks like she persuaded some of the guards. She violated their minds, Jack.”
“Spencer is gathering security footage right now. He’ll review it and let us know later what he finds. He’s excellent at the small details so he will be able to let us know how and where she got in.”
They were almost to Hammonds office when Jack’s name was being called.
“Colonel,” Alec Sheppard had caught up to Jack and Daniel. He was actually the newest edition to SG1 after Carter got sent to Area-51, over Jack’s protests. He wanted her out of the program completely and sanctions brought against her for how she had tried to violate him and force a bond between them, but the Council had other ideas. Unfortunately, Sam had helped save the world as much as the rest of SG1 and was considered an asset. Even if she was batshit insane.
Alec had degrees in theoretical engineering, chemistry, Astrophysics, and a couple of others that made Jack’s head hurt. However, there was less hinkey, slapdash, last minute jury rigging going on. Alec’s first couple of weeks at the SGC had him going over some of their Stargate systems with a fine tooth comb and what he found made him rather angry. He ranted at Jack in technical jargon for about twenty minutes before he wound down, then Daniel made him speak in Jack speak. What Jack got out of that meeting was that they were close to some kind of major event that would have not been pleasant. Hammond agreed to Alec’s request of an overhaul of the SGC systems. Carter had been pissed when she found out, but it was too late for her to do anything as all of the changes had been made and the Stargate system had never worked better or smoother. Jack had a lot of respect for the young Lieutenant and was glad to have him on his team.
“My cousin was here, but now he’s not.”
Jack was about to open the door to Hammond’s office when he turned his head to look over at Sheppard.
“How do you know that?”
“Because we all have tethers with each other. Growing up, all of us, including Aaron and Sean refused conservators. It was easier to help each other. Especially when John and Aaron almost burned through two conservators that didn’t know how to handle their levels. David acted as a buffer as did Mom and Dad, till Mom got sick.
“Anyway, I knew exactly when Aaron came into the mountain and that he was in the conference room talking to you. Don’t worry, I didn’t intrude, it was more a feeling than anything. Then he was feeling content and was waiting for you. Then nothing. We can stretch the tethers pretty far, Colonel. He’s gone.”
“You’re a Guide, right?”
“Shaman, actually. I studied under Blair Sandburg himself for two years. He has only accepted five students over the years. I count myself lucky to be included in that small exclusive club.”
Jack was feeling uneasy as he turned back towards the door and flung it open, glaring at Carter.
“Jack, there you are.” Carter smiled as she leaned back in the chair she was in. “I was trying to explain to General Hammond that all of this has been a terrible mistake. I came to talk to you, Jack.”
“I told you no the first time, Carter. The answer is still no and you have violated several laws by essentially breaking in here. You should be at Area-51.”
“Jack, come on. All the years we’ve known each other, all the years I know you’ve been attracted to me. I know I’m your Guide, Jack. Why don’t you drop this silly pretense and just get on with it already.”
Before Jack could say anything, Watson showed up and stood in front of Jack, growling at Carter. Jack felt a strong shield form around his mind, the presence of Aaron, but projected through the small fox that was to Jack’s mind, standing guard in front of him. Jack’s own fox appeared next to Watson and plopped down on his butt, also keeping a watch on Carter.
“What the hell is this?” Carter frowned as she tried to reach out empathically towards Jack.
“I don’t think so, Ma’am. Watson, that’s Aaron’s fox, is helping to bolster the Colonel’s shields. It’s a trick all of us Sheppards have learned. Now, I think it’s in your best interests to tell us what you did with Aaron before the Daedalus gets here, because if John walks off that ship and realises what has happened, not only will he be pissed, but he will call our father and initiate a hunt, that is if the Colonel here doesn’t call for one first.”
“The Daedalus is coming back from Atlantis?” Carter looked scared and Jack wasn’t sure why.
“It’s due in anytime now.” That was one of the main reasons Jack had wanted Aaron to meet him at the Mountain on this particular day. He thought it would be a wonderful surprise for his Guide. “I suggest, Carter, that you leave and go back to where you are supposed to be.”
Of course it had to be right then that a beam appeared in the already cramped office and two men stood there, one looking right pissed off, the other holding the firsts hand trying to keep him calm.
“What the hell happened to my Cousin?”
“Colonel Sheppard.” Hammond was standing and looking like he had a massive headache that was beginning to show on his face.
“General. If someone doesn’t tell me what the hell is going on, I am making a phone call and initiating a hunt the likes of which this country hasn’t seen in decades.” John glowered at everyone there. He turned his head to look at Jack and raised a brow.
“Decided to get your head out of your ass, O’Neill? Because I can’t tell you how many nights I spent with Aaron before being shipped out trying to get him to see reason. The two of you are the most stubborn Sentinel and Guide I have ever known.”
“Captain Carter here knows something, John. She was trying to force a bond between herself and the Colonel.” Alec glared at the woman as he moved towards his brother.
“Demoted, Carter?” the man next to John had a rather gleeful smile on his face as he looked at the woman who was seething with anger.
“Rodney, I see your arrogance hasn’t changed.”
“And thank god for that.” John didn’t even hide the smile as he looked at the man. “Now, I think we need to move this into the conference room because I am sure my father is going to be making a call here in about five minutes.” John walked out of the office pulling Rodney along.
“I will have you escorted off the base.” Jack watched as Carter moved closer to him, Watson and Bailey both baring teeth and growling at the woman.
“I assure you, Jack, you’ll never find him. If you won’t bond with me, then you aren’t going to have him. You’re mine and before this is over, you’ll be begging me to be your guide.”
“I thought you were delusional before. Get off my base, NOW!” Jack used his Sentinel voice on her, pushing the full force of his power into it and for the first time Carter actually looked afraid. She backed up and almost fell over the chair she had previously been sitting in.
“You know you’ll regret this.” Carter glared as Jack turned his back, he was treading a thin line as he tried to keep himself from going feral. He knew if a hunt was called, no one, not even Hammond himself could stop him.
Aaron’s head was killing him. The drugs that he had been given were strong enough to take out even a strong Sentinel. Slowly he opened his eyes and tried to look around. He didn’t dare reach out for Watson, his spirit animal had been sent to shield Jack. He would protect his Sentinel in whatever capacity he could.
“Good, you’re awake.” A male voice that Aaron tried to place, but couldn’t sounded close, but just out of the dim light that was shining on Aaron. He didn’t know this person which confused him even more.
“Who are you?” Aaron knew from experience that it was useless to ask where he was, but he would try to get as much information as he could. Plus, the more he kept the man talking the more time he had to get out of the cuffs he was in. Late nights in hotels had the team doing strange things to keep themselves occupied. Spencer, in their boredom, had taught Aaron how to get out of many different kinds of cuffs. Though that led to questions about why Spencer had several different kinds of cuffs in his go bag and frank answers that Aaron had wished he hadn’t really gotten.
“Maybourne. I assume you want to know why you’re here.”
Aaron just raised a brow as he watched the man pace. He oozed deceit and corruption. Aaron could tell that he was a dormant Sentinel. Aaron assumed the man’s dormancy was because of his corruption.
“I’ve come to learn over the years that no matter how many times you ask an Unsub what their plan is, they hesitate and lie.”
Maybourne smiled as he walked closer to Aaron and leaned in.
“Everyone I’ve spoken with said that you’re smart. But, I’m going to tell you anyway. You see, Jack had a brief thing with one of his teammates, Samantha Carter. She’s Beautiful, brilliant, and very ambitious. But, he denied her a bond because he kept claiming he already had a Guide. Oh, he never named you, and there wasn’t a way to find you without breaching too many protocols that would set off a few alarms. But we always kept him in our sights. Didn’t take long after the Museum exhibit opening for us to figure it out.
“Now. I’m going to keep you here till Carter has Jack right where she wants him. Don’t worry, you won’t go without a Sentinel, Guide Hotchner. I will personally see to it.”
Aaron glared at the man as he continued to pick at the cuffs. He had already looked around where they were at and could tell it was some kind of warehouse. There was a table with some things on it that had Aaron a little worried. Aaron could also see a gun holster just under Maybourne’s coat.
“And just how are you going to force a bond on either of us?” Aaron sneered, he was not going to give into the fear he felt.
“Well, first you are going to recall your spirit animal.”
“We have ways of making you do what we want, Guide Hotchner. It’s better to just give in now.”
“Why are you so interested in Jack and this Samantha Carter bonding. What is in it for you?”
Maybourne smiled as he leaned back against something solid. Aaron assumed another table, but with the dim light he couldn’t tell.
“Carter promised that she could get me and my team unfettered access to the Stargate.”
Aaron was starting to see it. A Guide, one as powerful as Aaron, could easily manipulate a Sentinel. Blair had talked to him, Alec and Sean about a Guide’s responsibility to help their Sentinel not only with their senses, but to help calm them down when need be. But, there was also a darker side to what a Guide could do. An especially powerful Guide such as himself or Alec, they could manipulate another person’s mind. They could potentially mind control someone. Aaron had seen corrupt Guides twist their Sentinels around and make the Sentinel go into such a feral state that Aaron had no choice but to shoot. He tried hard to minimize the damage to the Sentinel’s body, but often they would need to be isolated for months at a center to help heal their minds.
Aaron had only gotten into someone’s head once, and he had needed counseling himself. The man was so twisted that he almost took Aaron with him when he jumped to his death. It was Spencer and Morgan that had pulled him back form the edge.
“No. You aren’t getting your hands on Jack.”
“We can make you do what we want.” Maybourne sing-songed as he stepped forward once more, looking smug. “Boys,” he called out and two men in military style outfits came out of the shadows. One had a stick in his hand that reminded Aaron of a cattle prod. The other had a some kind of knife.
“Now, Guide Hotchner. I will ask you again, call your spirit animal.”
Aaron looked Maybourne in the eye as he carefully tugged on the tethers he had with his family. He alerted all of the adults as he tried to suppress the bonds with his children. It was a skill he had worked very hard to perfect. All of the Sheppards could do it after Blair had spent some time at their compound. Then he flew back to Washington with Alec in tow. Alec had been declared a Shaman, and the whole family was damn proud of the kid.
Aaron felt several of the tugs back, one in particular had him tilting his head and smiling. John was home and that meant that these people who had him were not prepared for what was coming.
The cattle prod to his stomach he was almost prepared for and moved into it rather than away from it. He felt the electricity through his body, but held back the scream that lodged in his throat. He was almost out of the cuffs, just a few more seconds and he would have it.
“This will all stop if you just recall your spirit animal.”
Aaron glared at Maybourne. He would not give the man the satisfaction he was looking for. But he also realised why the man wanted Aaron to bond with one of his people. If they had an FBI agent on the inside, there was no telling what kind of damage they could do. Fortunately for Aaron, he wasn’t that easily manipulated.
“No. And you will never get what you want, Maybourne.” Aaron felt John’s tether, a code they had all come up with if they were ever in a dangerous or compromised situation. This code said, We’re coming. Aaron smiled and whatever he was projecting had Maybourne’s eyes going wide and fear radiated out from him.
“Don’t think you are getting out of here, Guide Hotchner.”
Aaron chuckled as he tried to work through the pain.
“You have no idea what you have unleashed, Maybourne.”
“Last chance, Hotchner. Call your spirit animal.”
The soldier with the cattle prod moved forward to Aaron again, and Aaron allowed the man close enough to get shocked once more, then Aaron struck. He grabbed the weapon and looked in the man’s eyes long enough to get inside the soldier’s head. Once there he basically flipped the switch on the man’s mind, the mercenary went down in a heap, while Aaron grabbed the weapon and flung himself at the other soldier.
“What the hell,” Maybourne breathed deep, looked at the two men fighting and saw the second soldier fall. Aaron stood, cuts were all over his arms, but he now had the knife and the cattle prod weapon. He sneered at Maybourne and said one word.
John was pacing the conference room like a caged animal when Jack, who was barely holding on himself, walked in with Daniel and Alec behind him. A couple of minutes later Spencer rushed in with a laptop in his hand.
“I found how she got in. Here, you guys can see for yourself.” Spencer played back the security footage showing Carter talking with one of the guards. She tilted her head and smiled as she held her hand against the guards cheek. She said a few words, then the soldier was opening the door bypassing security protocols.
“What the hell?” Jack cursed as he glared at the computer.
“I’ve seen that technique. There are underground Sentinel and Guide centers that have been teaching Guides to use their gifts to manipulate. Of course not all the Guides are even half as gifted as these places like to tell them. I bet Carter was exhausted after that, and there would be no way for her to keep it up. She isn’t anywhere close to Hotch’s level.”
John, Alec, and Daniel all turned to Spencer at once.
“How do you know about this?”
“A case. Three years ago. We were called in when a few Guide’s were found dead and no one knew why. These underground places burn the guides out after making promises and taking their money. We’ve taken down at least ten since then. Because Aaron is technically the Prime of DC, our team gets tagged with any crimes such as this. These cases will often take priority over other cases. When these Guides die like this, sometimes the empathic event affects people in a radius proportionate to their power level. We’ve been lucky that none of them have been major events and only a few people have been mildly to moderately affected each time.”
John was still pacing as Alec dialed out on the conference room phone. John took a moment, then turned as he crossed his arms over his chest, a huge white wolf next to him. Rodney’s smaller gray wolf was also there.
“What I’m going to tell you isn’t something Aaron likes to talk about, but you need to know what we are dealing with here.” John rubbed at his temple before he leaned against one of the windows. “Aaron went feral when his father tried to hurt his little brother. I’m sure Aaron told you, Colonel O’Neill. What he probably didn’t say was that on instinct, Aaron literally shut his father’s brain off.
“He can easily manipulate a person’s mind, but he doesn’t because he is a good man. But, even good men can be pushed too far. If he’s pushed too far, whoever has him does not know what they are dealing with. A feral Guide can do more damage to a lot of people at the same time, than a feral Sentinel in the same situation. If Aaron gets into any of these men’s minds, the only way to bring him back will be you, Jack.”
“But, Guide’s don’t go feral.” Daniel looked perplexed because he had never heard of that.
“Yes they can, Sir.” Alec moved around the room to stand next to his brother needing the familial contact. “I have seen it. During my training, Blair told me that there are those guides who are as powerful as Shamans, but they take a different path. Aaron could easily have been a Shaman, but he is more grounded. He didn’t like the feel of the spirit plane, but he is very much a man of the earth. He would often hike, bike, camp and take long weekends in the woods not far from our compound. He revels in nature and it wasn’t till he was paired with a trainer much like he is that they understood his powers.
“Where my powers as a Guide are a direct link to the spirit plane, Guides like Aaron, they are connected to the physical world. Blair told me to think of them like the Native Spirit Walkers. So completely connected to the earth that they can commune and interact with the physical world in a different way than normal humans. They connect to the physical energies of the ley lines that run throughout the world. They choose, sometimes unconsciously, to stay firmly grounded in the world. That’s why Watson is more real than other spirit animals. Watson comes from that ley line energy, whereas most spirit animals come from the psionic plane. Blair theorizes that the ley lines are a part of the spirit plane made corporeal and laid out over the Earth to help humans connect easier. But, we just don’t know that much about ley line energies. It’s something that scientists who study the spirit plane have talked about expanding their research into.
“Aaron being grounded like he is can pull tremendous amounts energy from those ley lines if he had need for it. A feral Guide can pull on that energy much easier than one who isn’t. But, it’s also exhausting. If he is connected too long and we don’t get to him right away, no telling what shape he will be in.”
The call Alec was making connected and Patrick Sheppards voice was loud, clear, and pissed.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Dad, it’s Alec. Something’s happened to Aaron, he’s missing.”
There was silence, then murmuring for a few moments then Patrick was back on the line.
“Well, I think someone needs to go hunting. Do you need David?”
Alec nudged John to speak.
“No, Dad. I think Alec, Colonel O’Neill and myself can take care of it. I have some of my marines with me, they’ll welcome the chase.”
“John…” The emotion in Patrick’s voice came through clearly, but they didn’t have time for the family drama.
“Patrick, while I understand how you’re feeling, do we or do we not have a sanctioned hunt?” Jack asked as he began to pace as well. He needed to be out there looking for Aaron, but he wanted to do it the right way.
“I have an order here signed by the Director of the FBI and the National Sentinel and Guide center. You have authorization to pull in whoever you want.”
That was all Jack needed to know. Watson stayed with Jack keeping the shield on his mind, but he was so close to the edge that he wondered if the shielding was preventing him from going full feral.
He strode through the mountain at a pace that would make anyone get out of his way. He went right to the armory and suited up. Daniel and John were right behind him and both of them did as well. All three grabbed a folding sword as well as their usual favorite weapons. Spencer ran up to Daniel as they were getting ready and pulled his head down to rest against his.
“Bring him back. I can’t lose my best friend, Daniel.”
“Don’t worry, Spence. You won’t. None of us have thought about Aaron’s kids. As much as I want you with me, I think you would be better suited to go to the hotel and be with them.”
Spencer pulled back and thought about it a moment then nodded his head.
“Alright. Come back to me.”
John grabbed some weapons and when Rodney caught up he pressed them into his Guide’s hands. When Jack just lifted a brow John laughed a little.
“Don’t worry. Rodney can handle himself. Believe it or not he’s taken out his fair share of Wraith, and those motherfuckers aren’t easy to take down.”
“What? I can help. I may bitch and complain, but that doesn’t mean that my help isn’t invaluable.” Rodney huffed as he crossed his arms. John moved in front of Rodney and planted a quick kiss before he started off towards the motor pool.
“Do we have any ideas where we are going?” John asked as he radioed several of his people who appeared in the armory mere moments later. He had them suit up and arm up. They would follow and hang back till John gave them orders to help if need be.
Jack stopped then ran back to Hammond’s office and grabbed Carter by the arm and pulled her along.
“This is what’s going to happen. You are going to tell us where Aaron is and we are going to find him. Then, and only then, if you cooperate I won’t throw your ass in Leavenworth. And you really don’t want to be in the Sentinel and Guide secured ward of that prison.”
For the first time since she showed up, Carter not only looked scared, but Jack could smell the fear in her scent pile. Good Jack thought as they all piled into a humvee with Daniel in the driver’s seat. There was no way that Jack could drive, he was shaking as he was trying to get some kind of bead on Aaron.
“If you tether with me, Jack, you’ll feel Aaron.”
Jack turned to look at John for a moment then he reached out his hand. John threaded their fingers together as he closed his eyes and Jack felt John wrap around Aaron’s shield.
“Hey, little guy,” John was talking to Watson, petting him softly as the fox curled up in Jack’s lap. “Aaron needs help, can you let me into Jack’s mind? You know I won’t hurt him.”
Jack could feel the anticipation as Watson opened a door that let John slip through. Jack felt the tether form, then a moment later his mind was flooded with Aaron. He hissed in shock at the intensity and could feel what his Guide was feeling, which was pain.
“Dr. Jackson, follow Byron. He knows where to go.”
Daniel was going to turn around and ask what the hell John was talking about when John’s white wolf appeared in the street ahead of the humvee. He was running and Daniel did as John said, he followed the wolf. He also put on speed knowing Jack was hanging on by a mere thread. He really didn’t want a feral Sentinel in the car.
Aaron growled at Maybourne as he dropped down to one knee and placed his hand on the ground. He felt the energy around him and tapped into it. The ley lines were weak wherever they were, but it was enough. Aaron had ditched the jacket and watched as his prey took off running. Aaron knew in the back of his mind he was feral, he let himself sink even more into the feeling. Using the energy around him he widened his empathy to feel around him. They were still in Colorado, that much Aaron was sure of. They were a few miles from the base. Aaron felt the forest not too far away and pinpointed the way Maybourne was running. Aaron was subconsciously glad that he had chosen the boots he was wearing, they wouldn’t be a hindrance.
Aaron gave Maybourne a good lead, then he took off running. He had ditched the cattle prod weapon, but kept the knife. He wished he had a gun, but he was never so glad for the training he had gotten from John Blackwolf. The man was a Guide, but he was like Aaron. He was grounded in the Earth around them. Aaron spent six months with Blackwolf on the reservation learning more about himself and what he could do.
Using the tracking methods Blackwolf had taught Aaron, he tracked Maybourne through the woods. Maybourne had lost his gun at one point, Aaron wasn’t sure when, he wasn’t sure of a lot of things at the moment, only that he had prey ahead of him. He was silent as he stalked his prey, finding the not so subtle trail the man was leaving behind.
Aaron carefully let out his empathy feeling the forest around him, taking in and filtering the sounds of the native birds, mammals, insects, and rodents. He searched for Maybourne’s emotional signature, which was fear and something else in the man’s make-up that Aaron had picked up on. It was unique to Maybourne and Aaron could feel it, keeping it in his mind, Aaron followed.
Aaron was close, he was still ignoring the pain in his body, pushing it aside to track Maybourne and eliminate the threat to him and his Pride. Finding the strong emotions from Maybourne Aaron ran full out to catch-up to him and as he was closing in he felt it. Jack was in his mind, sharing John’s tether with Aaron. It was a comforting presence that Aaron wanted to capture and sink into, but not yet. He couldn’t be with his Sentinel until this threat was eliminated and they were safe.
He could feel that Jack and those with him were closing in on his location. He decided to help them. He pulled on the tether and let Jack and John see what he was seeing. It was taxing, but it meant that help was on its way.
Aaron refocused and picked up Maybourne’s trail once more. The knife in his hand he gripped tight. There was a stream close by and Aaron just knew that was where Maybourne was heading.
A clearing up ahead, Aaron could see the man pacing around trying to figure out what to do. Aaron could tell Maybourne was exhausted, but he also didn’t want to underestimate the situation. He didn’t think there were any traps, Maybourne wouldn’t have time to set any, but that didn’t mean that the corrupt little asshole didn’t have any tricks up his sleeve. Aaron decided to crouch low and play. If anyone had seen the smile on Aaron’s face at that moment, they would have run form the man, but he was well hidden amongst the trees. If anyone had seen him right then, his body hidden amongst the foliage, only his eyes could been seen through the competing light and shadow surrounding him.
Closing his eyes, Aaron again placed his hand on the ground. Ley lines near water were always more powerful. He used the energy to gently nudge the wildlife in the area. Aaron knew how to handle most of the animals, but he was sure that Maybourne didn’t. And, though Aaron let himself sink further into his feral state, he wasn’t mindless like a Sentinel gone feral.
First was the small rodents. There was a family of beavers just downstream. They came into the clearing, sniffing at the ground trying to figure out what had disturbed them.
“What the hell? Fucking beavers, get out of here.” Maybourne was a stupid man who didn’t understand the nature of these creatures. He made to kick at the little family when one of the larger beavers growled and hissed at him. “Okay, okay,” Maybourne screamed as he backed off.
Deer mice, rats, voles, and squirrels all came out of their dens, and down form the trees trying to find what it was that had disturbed them as well. Aaron watched with a bit of glee from his hiding place as Maybourne tried to keep the creatures away from him.
A porcupine sauntered into the clearing and walked right up to the frightened man and sniffed at his shoes. Then the birds started to come down, chirping angrily at Maybourne as they flew at him.
“Stop, go away.” Maybourne was flapping his arms trying to ward off the birds. Some of the rodents had left to go back to their dens or up trees. The beavers, however, had taken to the open mouth of the stream right next to the clearing. The birds were settling down and started to fly back to their nests. Aaron saw that Maybourne’s face and arms had been scratched and pecked at. He had ditched his jacket at some point and rolled up his sleeves.
Aaron watched as the man, exhausted, plopped down on the fallen tree log. Aaron didn’t even have to do anything this time, the log must have been home to a spider nest. Maybourne jumped up and screamed as he dislodged the tarantula.
“Alright, alright, please just stop. Make it stop.” Maybourne cried out as Aaron unfurled himself form his hiding spot. On his heels was a family of red foxes. Aaron knew certain animals liked him and would follow him if he let them. This time he was letting them as he stalked into the clearing.
“What the hell are you?” Mayborne shouted.
“Someone you shouldn’t have messed with.” Aaron’s voice was deeper than normal and the words came out more like a growl. The foxes at Aaron’s feet hissed and growled at Maybourne.
“If you’re going to kill me, do it now. I give up.”
Aaron narrowed his eyes and debated on what to do. He was still aware enough to weigh the consequences of murdering the man in front of him. He was an unarmed man, or so Aaron assumed.
“Empty your pockets.” Aaron held the knife like he was going to throw it. Maybourne was shaking as he started to pull stuff from his trousers and the shirt he was wearing. Aaron didn’t know what half of the items that fell to the ground were. They looked like some kind of advanced tech. “I should kill you.”
“Ye-yes, I suppose if I were in your shoes, I would feel the same. B-b-but let’s talk about this, okay? W-w-we c-c-can negotiate?”
Aaron could feel the lie and let go. He raised his hand as he growled low in his throat like he was going to throw the knife, which he already knew would strike true. As he took aim a hand wrapped around his wrist and an arm came around his waist.
“He isn’t worth it, Guide.” That voice, Aaron let that voice flow inside of him as he was held fast. John was there, and so was Daniel who was cuffing Maybourne. As soon as the click of the cuffs sounded, Aaron let it all go. His legs gave out as his body went heavy but he was held fast by strong arms. “That’s it, let it go, Aaron. I’m here now, you’re safe.”
Those words soothed something deep inside of him and Aaron went limp in Jack’s arms.
There was a bit of shuffling, someone had the forethought to jump into one of the isolation vans and between Jack and Daniel they were able to get Aaron inside with Jack next to him. Aaron didn’t pay attention to anything around them, just the feel of Jack. He let his Sentinel undress him to check for wounds and heard the curses at the bruises on his stomach. There were cuts and scratches all over him from first the knife fight, then the race through the woods.
Jack stripped down to his boxers and crawled on the bed and pulled Aaron close to him. The two men fell asleep, drained from their feral and near feal states they wrapped up in each other and let it all go.
Aaron felt warm. Warm, comfortable, and comforted all at the same time. He was wrapped in strong arms that felt familiar. The tether John had shared with Jack was gone, but Aaron knew a tentative bond had already started with Jack. Closing his eyes he sighed and let his mind drift on why he hesitated all these years to accept his Sentinel.
There was one thing they needed to discuss before their relationship went any further. Well, more than one thing, but Aaron was not going to bond with Jack and keep calling him Jack. That would be exceedingly weird for Aaron. He supposed if he and Jack had been bonded before his son was born then the name thing might not have bothered him as much, but now, when they were older and Aaron had cared for Jack for all these years, it was a little off putting.
“What are you thinking so hard about?” Jack asked in a rough voice as he nuzzled Aaron’s neck.
“I’m not afraid of this anymore, Jack. I want this, I do. But there is just one small issue.”
Jack pushed up on his elbow and laid his head in his hand, Aaron rolled over to look him in the eye.
“And what is that?”
“You’re name. It’s just, my son is Jack and it would be weird for me, especially during sex.”
Jack cupped Aaron’s cheek and softly stroked his thumb over Aaron’s jaw.
“My Maternal Grandmother used an old family middle name for me. It was Nathaniel. I haven’t told many people about that. She hated the middle name my parents gave me and decided I was a Nathaniel.” Jack smiled at the memory. “She called me Nate for short. I suppose it would be okay if you called me Nate.”
Aaron laid his hand over Jack’s heart and took a deep breath.
“Nate. I like it.”
“Just, not in the Mountain.” Jack’s smile had Aaron lifting up and finally finally kissing him. There was a spark of something deep inside and Aaron felt the bond slowly being created. The kiss was everything Aaron could hope it to be. Reluctantly he pulled back to catch his breath.
“I don’t want to do this in a van, Nate. And I do want this. I knew it the moment I walked onto this base that I didn’t want to run from you anymore. But, I need you to meet my family first. My kids…”
“Shh, Whatever you need, Aaron. And I don’t relish the thought of bonding in a van either. But, I think before you go home you should see Doc Frasier. Get checked over, shower. I’ll find you clothes.”
Aaron wanted to protest. He hated seeing medics, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to argue with his Sentinel. Carefully they got out of the van, Jack handed Aaron some scrubs that were stored inside for emergencies. It was a quick trip to the infirmary where the Doctor did a thorough check and declared that he was fine. A little bruised, but they would heal up if Aaron didn’t do anything too strenuous. Jack glared at her for that, but Doctor Frasier just laughed and patted him on his arm. The affection between the two was clear as day. Jack cared for her and Aaron could see why. Dr Janet Frasier didn’t take crap from anyone, let alone one Colonel Jonathan ‘Jack’ O’Neill. Aaron was rather amused watching their interaction.
“Alright. I am letting you go, Guide Hotchner on the promise that you will get some rest. Bonding or no bonding, I mean it. You took two severe hits from a Goa’uld energy weapon. And, you went immediately into a feral drive. You need to take it easy.”
“I promise I will, Dr. Frasier. In fact I am heading to the hotel where my family is staying. I’m introducing Jack to my family.” Aaron smiled at his Sentinel as he stood there with a pile of clothes in his hands.
“Here. I guessed your size.”
“Thanks. Now point me to the showers.” Jack showed Aaron where he could shower and dress. Once that was done Aaron looked at himself in the mirror. He had on a tshirt similar to what Jack usually preferred and a pair of BDU’s. The combat boots were a perfect fit and were surprisingly comfortable. Walking out of the dressing area Aaron saw Jack leaning against the wall waiting for him.
“There you are.” Jack reached out and pulled his Guide to him. The two had not nearly enough time together, but Hammond had already approved Jack’s bonding period of three weeks. Jack had tried to reassure Hammond they wouldn’t need that much time, but Hammond had said that with Aaron’s family involved, Jack should take the full time so they could all get comfortable with each other.
Aaron easily went into Jack’s arms and let himself be held for a moment.
“I think we need to go. I don’t know who much longer I can hold off on my instincts.” Jack buried his nose in Aaron’s hair and took a deep breath and shuddered a little.
“Yeah, I need to see my kids.”
Jack let Aaron go and the two made their way to Jack’s car. Aaron told him which hotel they were staying at which was, thankfully, fairly close. Jack parked and Aaron had to get a new room key from the front desk. He was feeling the fatigue set in and the pain in his stomach was starting to get to him. They had only slept for about an hour after Jack had found him. The day had already gotten away from them after seeing Dr. Frasier, and talking to Hammond, it was now early evening.
“DAD!” Faye ran through the room and crashed into her father. “What happened? Uncle Spencer wouldn’t tell us anything!”
“Hey Peanut. Come on let’s go sit and I will tell you.”
“I don’t lie to my children. Faye and Jack’s bonds with me are fairly strong and they can both tell when I’m not telling them the truth, or a version of the truth they can handle.”
Aaron sat on the couch with Jack on one side of him, Faye on the other and his son on his lap.
“First, you guys should meet my Sentinel. Jack, Faye this is Colonel Jack O’Neill.”
“We have the same name!” Jack smiled wide as he held out his arms towards O’Neill. Aaron felt his heart swell as his Sentinel took his son in his arms and settled him on his lap.
“Yes we do. But guess what?” O’Neill smiled softly as Jack looked up at him expectantly.
“You and your sister can call me Nate. Just so it’s not confusing.”
Faye was watching intently as O’Neill and Jack talked. She leaned in close to her father.
“He’s hot. You did good, Dad.”
Aaron gave up. His daughter was growing up and noticing things that he would rather her not notice quite yet, but he knew he couldn’t stop it even if he tried.
“Yeah, he kinda is.”
Faye rolled her eyes as giggled as Aaron planted a kiss on her forehead.
“Do you have to shoot people? I know Dad sometimes has to shoot people.” Jack looked at Nate in fascination.
“Yeah, Jack has a fascination right now with this.”
“It’s okay.” Nate gave his best Colonel face as he watched Aaron’s son for a moment. “Yes. I have had to shoot people, but I don’t always want to. Most of the time they are very bad people.”
“Like Daddy. Are you a superhero?”
Nate looked towards Aaron, completely lost. Aaron didn’t even try to hide the laugh that came out.
“Yeah, buddy. The Colonel is a superhero.”
“Yay!” Jack declared as he leaned against Nate. Aaron felt the ache his Sentinel was feeling through their tentative bond. Arms wrapped around Jack and Nate didn’t even hesitate to plant a kiss on top of Jack’s head.
Aaron let the moment stretch on and was beyond thrilled that his son had taken so fast to Nate. He wasn’t surprised, though. The Sentinel felt good to be around and Jack’s slowly coming online felt an affinity to Sentinels and knew who felt right and who didn’t.
Aaron told his kids a version of what had happened that they could understand and wouldn’t break any secrecy protocols. Thankfully they didn’t ask a lot of questions.
Jessica had left when the two men had arrived to pick up some pizzas, Aaron suspected to give him and Nate some time to talk to the kids. She arrived and after introductions, and some mild teasing directed towards Aaron, they all sat and ate, talked, then settled in to watch a mindless action movie. It was the perfect end to the very shitty day Aaron had.
“Okay, I think it’s time for you two to get to bed.”
“Daddy?” Jack turned towards Aaron from his place on the floor.
“Can Nate read me my bedtime story?”
Aaron looked to see Nate’s eyes shine a little and the emotion he was getting was a bit overwhelming, but there was an underlying happiness that made Aaron smile.
“I think you should ask him.”
“I would be honored, Jack.” Nate stood and picked Jack up, Jessica showed him where the kids were sleeping. Faye followed a moment later.
“You look happy.”
“You know this will change all of our lives. I can’t ask you to change your life, Jess.”
Jessica plopped down next to Aaron and laid her head on his shoulder.
“I’m in this with you, Aaron. Have been since Haley got sick. Besides, I was looking for a change anyway.”
“No, Aaron. You are not going to get rid of me that easy. You know I love those kids as much as you and I am not going to leave you guys.”
“I have no idea how I got so lucky.”
“You’re a good guy, Aaron Hotchner, even if you are too hard on yourself.”
Aaron laid his head back on the couch and took a deep breath, attempting to let it all go. He had not realised that he had fallen asleep till he felt a warm hand on his face.
“I think someone else needs to go to bed.”
Aaron looked up in Nate’s eyes a moment and felt like he could get lost in them.
“Sleep, Aaron. You need sleep. We can figure out the rest tomorrow.”
Aaron nodded and stood up as Nate stepped back. Taking his Sentinel’s hand, he knew his life was forever changed already.
Nate had gotten up early to make breakfast for everyone. He had looked in the small kitchen and saw that they had basic ingredients, but he thought it would be fun to make pancakes. Aaron had given him a room key just before they slipped into bed. Nate made a quick run to the grocery store and was now mixing together the batter while he had bacon cooking in the oven.
“You know, if you hurt my Daddy, you’ll have to answer to me.”
Nate smiled to himself as he turned around from the stove to look at Faye.
“Well then, I will just have to work really, really hard not to hurt him.”
Faye was sitting with her head in her hands as she watched Nate work on making breakfast.
“What do you like to do? You know on days off and stuff.”
“Well,” Nate started the first pancake and turned his body to the side so he could watch the food and and hold a conversation with Faye. “I don’t really get weekends, but my days off I have a cabin. I like to hike, camp, fish, and just be outdoors.”
“Really?” Faye perked up and smiled wide, her eyes sparkling. “Dad takes us camping and stuff all the time. Though one time we took Uncle Spencer and Uncle Morgan, and Uncle Spencer, he didn’t have such a good time. Daddy had to keep Uncle Morgan from laughing at poor Uncle Spencer because of how much he hated it. It was funny, but I tried to be good.”
Nate was trying his hardest not to laugh at the picture that made in his head.
“So you like all that stuff, huh?”
“Yah huh, so does Jack. Daddy said that this year I could try a little hunting. He got me a bow and arrow, because last year when I went to summer camp, I got to try it. Counselor said I was a natural. Daddy, he likes to hunt the small stuff. Rabbits, and small animals. He said we need to be careful with bigger animals because how much us humans are dumbasses.”
“Dillon Faye..” A female voice scolded as Jessica came into view. “What has your father told you about cursing.”
“That it’s not ladylike and I should watch my mouth. But, Auntie Jess, I’m not a lady.”
Nate could no longer hold back the laugh he was trying so hard to hold onto.
“Not with that attitude you won’t be.”
“But what if I don’t wanna be a lady, Auntie Jess. Look at Aunt Emily. She’s all bada…I mean she’s awesome. So is Auntie Jayje. They don’t let anyone push them around.”
“That’s true, sweetie, but Emily and JJ are still ladies when it’s appropriate.”
Faye sighed and rolled her eyes as she dramatically laid her head on the counter.
“See what I have to deal with? It would make any girl crazy.”
Nate had a stack of the pancakes set aside, he turned off the burner and leaned on the counter.
“I think I know a couple of people who you will just love.” Nate was thinking of Vala and Doctor Frasier. He had a feeling they would both get a kick out of Faye. He was also looking forward to introducing Cassie to her. Nate’s family was expanding and where it might have made him run before, he found the Hotchner clan rather charming.
“I smell pancakes!” Jack ran into the small kitchen and looked up at Nate.
“Good morning, Jack. I did make pancakes.”
“I think you made his day already.” Aaron walked in, walked right up to Nate and kissed him. “Morning. Those look fantastic, what did you do get up at the…crack of dawn?” Aaron stopped himself from cursing, he was trying to curb his daughter from doing it.
“Actually I did. Come on, it’s all ready.” Nate spread his hand on Aaron’s lower back, gently leading him to the table. “Sit, I’ll have two little helpers bring everything out.”
Breakfast was lively as the kids were excited about hearing about Nate’s cabin and wanting to see it. He promised they could while he was on leave. Aaron still needed to contact the FBI and find out his options from there.
After breakfast, the kids got ready, Jessica promised them a trip to a ghost town nearby and lunch in a railroad car. They were looking forward to it and it gave Aaron and Nate time alone, finally.
“Nate, are you okay?” Aaron asked as he leaned into the older man who had been looking out the window for a few moments.
“I promised you I was going to tell you why I walked away from you that day at SI.” Nate turned and walked to the couch and sat, Aaron sat next to him. “I had a son. Charlie. He was the light of my life. Sara and I were amazed everyday by that kid.
“I still don’t know what happened, or how he got into my gun safe. I had just got home and that was the first thing I did was put my weapons away. But, Charlie, he was always curious. Sara and I were doing things in the yard when we heard a gun going off. By the time we reached our bedroom, there wasn’t anything we could do.
“Shortly after it happened, Sara and I divorced. We couldn’t make it work, each of us blaming the other, I was blaming myself and we couldn’t get past it. I jumped at the chance for the first Stargate mission.” Nate stood and once more went to look out the window. “I knew from the start that it was a suicide mission. I didn’t expect to come back. In fact I almost didn’t. When I did come back, the Stargate was closed down, the mission buried and I retired. A year later events happened that pulled me back in and that was when I met you at SI. I was still grieving and angry and I knew if we had bonded, it would not have been good for either of us.”
“I’m so sorry, Nate. Did you ever get grief counseling?”
“Not at first, but I knew about six months into the Stargate being reinstated, I had to talk to someone.”
Aaron moved in close, laying a hand on Nate’s chest above his heart, and the other he wrapped around Nate’s hip.
“What do you want to do now?”
“You know our lives will change.”
“I do. I’m willing to be wherever you want to be, Nate. If it’s here, then we’ll be here. If not, we’ll discuss that.”
“You aren’t deferring to me because you’re a Guide, are you? I hate that old fashioned crap about Guides.”
Aaron lifted a brow and gave Nate one of this infamous glares.
“I don’t say what I don’t mean, Jonathan O’Neill.” Aaron walked away towards the bedroom and Nate sighed. He had not meant to piss off his Guide so soon. He followed Aaron to apologize.
“I mean it, Nate. I don’t say what I don’t mean. I’ve had people play games with me before and I am unwilling to do that to anyone else.”
“Well now I feel like an ass.”
Aaron started to strip and all the saliva in Nate’s mouth dried up as he watched. His Guide was beautiful. Lean and long from the running and biking Nate knew he liked to do. Subtle muscles from sparring and working out and a dark olive tone from being out in the sun.
“Have I told you yet how gorgeous I think you are.”
Aaron stretched up after slipping off his sweatpants. Nate caught him around the waist and pulled him close, kissing Aaron like it was the first time. A slide of lips, Aaron opened to him both physically and mentally. Aaron’s shields were dropping fast and it was a heady sensation for Nate.
“I can assume from your current state of undress that you are tired of waiting.” Nate whispered against Aaron’s lips as hands worked to push Nate’s clothes off of him.
“I don’t know what gave you that idea.” Aaron pulled back and the look on his face had Nate pausing for a moment, then laughing as he saw the wicked gleam in Aaron’s eyes.
“Naked, now.” Aaron broke Nate’s hold and moved to the bed and laid out like he was on display. Nate stood there a moment trying to get his lungs to work again. Aaron was on his back with his legs splayed out to the sides, a pillow shoved under his hips. “We have hours before they get back.” Nate held back a groan as he quickly slipped out of his clothes not wanting to wait anymore.
“Jesus, Aaron. You can’t just do that to a man.” Nate kneed up on the bed between Aaron’s legs and bent down to kiss him long and slow. Aaron slipped his tongue out opening his mouth just enough for Nate to slip in and steal a taste. Closing his eyes he dropped his shields, and opened his senses to take in the flavor of his Guide. Nate got lost in cataloging those tastes and textures of just Aaron’s mouth. The minty toothpaste Aaron liked to use, and underneath that was the slight tang of coffee, then the heady taste of Aaron. Nate moaned as he pressed down slotting his hips between Aaron’s legs, his quickly filling cock brushed against Aaron’s fully erect one and the hiss Nate heard told him just how on edge Aaron was.
The kiss kept going and Nate felt like he could get completely lost in just that act alone. It took everything in him to pull away only to nip and lick his way across Aaron’s jaw and move down his neck and throat taking in not only the taste of Aaron’s skin, but the smooth texture as well.
Nate spent time getting to know every place on Aaron’s body that made him moan in pleasure or arch his back just so. His hands trailed over Aaron’s flesh, taking his time, touching everywhere he could.
Nate’s shields dropped so fast he almost faltered at the intensity of emotions he felt from Aaron. His Guide was open to him like no lover had ever been and it shook Nate up a little. He was barely holding on, his control was close to snapping and when Aaron curled his fingers on Nate’s shoulders while wrapping his legs around Nate’s waist, slowly moving against the Sentinel it almost drove Nate into a full bonding drive.
The fumbling for lube had Nate’s hands shaking in anticipation. Just before he pressed inside of his Guide he looked down at brown eyes, half closed, and knew just how real this was. Up until this moment, everything between them had been an ideal, an abstract ‘what if’, but with Aaron under him, so completely open and trusting it almost took Nate’s breath away. Stilling for a moment, he needed to ground himself before he did something that could hurt the both of them. He wanted this to be good for Aaron as much as for himself.
“It’s okay, Nate, I’m not fragile, take what you need.”
Nate leaned over Aaron and laid his head against Aaron’s, breathing fast and hard as his control was slipping away by the second. The tentative bond was growing stronger between them each touch, each kiss, and the knowledge that Aaron was his.
“You can’t just say things like that,” Nate growled as hands grasped his ass, pulling him closer.
“I’m right here, and I’m yours, Nate. Take what you need.” Aaron reiterated in his Guide voice which resonated deep inside Nate, making him shudder. Mere seconds later he was connected to Aaron in a way he had never been with anyone else, even his short affair with Carter. Grabbing hold of the bars on his bed, Nate didn’t take his eyes off of Aaron’s as he moved inside that glorious warmth that surrounded his cock.
Aaron scratched down Nate’s back and whatever it was that had previously held him back snapped and Nate pushed in hard, making Aaron cry out in pleasure. Their coupling was primal, and somewhere in the back of Nate’s mind he knew they were going to leave marks on each other. That made him revel in his Guide’s body, knowing Aaron was going to have very real reminders on his flesh of their bonding. It drove Nate’s instincts and when he finally came it was with a shocked gasp at the intensity. His Guide lay under him, panting, needy and still aching. Nate pulled from Aaron’s body and took Aaron’s cock in his mouth. Fingers dug in his shoulders as Aaron practically whimpered needing that final release cementing the bond between them.
Nate felt all of Aaron’s emotions as he worked his Guide closer to his release. Energy, the likes of which he had never felt before flowed through him, bright, blue, and more beautiful than Nate could imagine anything could ever be. Their bond wasn’t just a single thick strand, not it was a crisscross of energies that covered almost every single part of his Guide. Nate could see it in his mind. The image reminded him of the intricate Kinbaku-bi, or one of the forms of Japanese rope binding, he had seen a display of. Aaron was wrapped up almost like that and it almost took Nate’s breath away. Those ropes of energy tied off at the same time Aaron came down Nate’s throat.
“Fuck, Aaron. You’re beautiful.” Nate swallowed hard and wondered how he had gotten so lucky. Collapsing down on the bed, he pulled Aaron close to him, keeping the image of their bond firmly in his mind. He had never seen or experience anything like it and Nate wanted to keep that image forever.
Hours later Aaron was leaning against the wall next to the bedroom window looking out at the Colorado landscape. He felt the bond inside of him just under the surface and knew there was something different about his and Nate’s bond. He wasn’t ready to explore it quite yet, but eventually he wanted to know more. Aaron reflected once more on how much his life had already changed and how many more changes were to come. Winston was curled up on the window seat with Bailey, the two foxes were entwined and sleeping.
“What are you thinking?” Nate wrapped Aaron up in his arms and held him close.
“How much this part of Colorado reminds me of Arizona.”
“Somethin’ in Arizona?”
Aaron nodded as he continued to stare out at the landscape.
“I had spent two years in Japan with Itsuki Shō and his Sentinel Jaw-Long Jiang. It was quite the scandal that a high level Chinese Sentinel was the mate of the Alpha Guide of Hokkaido, and twelve year old me was highly amused. Even if I didn’t truly understand the social and political implications at the time. They were exactly who needed to help me understand myself. I spent the time on Alpha Guide Shō’s tea plantation learning everything I could from him. It’s surprising how many Guides in Japan are like me. Their powers are earthbound and they learn early to use the Ley Lines. It was an amazing experience, but when I got home I knew something was missing but put it all aside to worry about school, and just being a kid. I still keep in touch with them because they became very important to me.
“Two years ago we had a case in Arizona. It was a cult that was attempting to start a race war between the white residents and the Apache. I met John Blackwolf who was both tribal leader and main law enforcement for the reservation.”
Aaron let out a long sigh as he pushed away from Nate, needing some distance. It was hard to talk about Blackwolf to anyone, let alone his Sentinel. He didn’t want to hurt Nate and Aaron knew it was a possibility.
Aaron snorted as he paced the room.
“He challenged me. Called me FBI in a way that let me know he wasn’t going to take any shit. Told me to let go and use what I had been trained to use. How he knew, I have yet to know. The kids from the cult had broken into the elementary school and if we had not had a heads up, they would have hurt a lot of people. Blackwolf and I hunted them. He wouldn’t let me use my gun, he told me I could take them down without firing a shot.
“By the time we were done apprehending all of the cult members, I did end up shooting one of them, but it was to save Blackwolf’s life. After we wrapped up the case he invited me to dinner at his house. I was drawn to him, I still can’t say what it was, but he was this dichotomy of powerful Guide and Warrior, but calm, gentle almost like Mater Shō. I think I needed that at the time.”
Aaron could feel Nate’s curiosity through the bond, in fact now that he thought about it, Nate and Blackwolf were very much alike. Aaron moved to the bed and sat.
“He said he could feel there was something missing with me and he was willing to teach me. I spent six months on the reservation with him. He was more than mentor, more than a friend…”
Aaron fell silent as memories rose to the surface. Memories that were precious to him.
“You love him,” Nate said with no incriminations or admonitions in his voice. Aaron didn’t even feel jealousy or anger from Nate.
“I do. But, we are from two vastly different worlds. He is very much the Alpha of his tribe and I knew as much as we may have wanted it, I had no place there. I also knew he wouldn’t survive in my world. Plus, two Guides is a very rare pairing. I had told him one night that I knew who my Sentinel was, he encouraged me to find you and stop being an idiot. Leaving was one of the hardest things I have ever done.”
Nate moved towards the bed and sat behind Aaron holding him in his arms.
“Do you stay in contact?”
Aaron nodded, not trusting his voice the emotions too near the surface.
“I will never take that away from you Aaron. We’ve both had lives before this. I would like to meet him one day. I know you aren’t in love with me, we are too new for that, but I hope that we get there eventually, but no matter what, you will always be my Guide.”
Aaron breathed out slowly and laid his hands over Nate’s.
“I know we’ll get there, Nate. But, thank you. I don’t know if you know what that means to me. You will always be my Sentinel.”
They spent the rest of the day exploring each other’s bodies, cementing the bond between them, then when Jess and the kids got back, they ordered in food and spent time as a family. Aaron was content and knew this was how he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
Aaron’s body was battered and bruised as he hung by chains, half naked and feeling more vulnerable than he had in years. He knew something was broken, but not sure what because he couldn’t concentrate anymore. Ba’al stood in front of him, eyes gleaming with half-madness as he glared at Aaron.
“O’Neill chose well. You have one of the strongest wills of any of your kind that I have encountered. You Guides….are so delicious.” Aaron knew what Ba’al was talking about and Aaron really hoped the Goa’uld wouldn’t go there.
Aaron just glared, not giving Ba’al the satisfaction of his words. He was so far from any ley lines that he couldn’t access his power. He was just thankful that Winston stayed hidden. His bond with his Sentinel was stretched thin, the web he was usually wrapped so tightly in was thinning in places. Aaron was doing everything he could to hold on.
“You still refuse to speak. To refuse me! I will break you and the bond you have with O’Neill and once broken, I will bind you to me and the two of us will rebuild the Goa’uld and make them better than they were. And, if I get my revenge on my enemy, all the better”
All Aaron did was raise a brow. Ba’al had no way of knowing how to break Aaron’s bond with his Sentinel, but he also knew his Sentinel was on a hunt and he was most likely feral, he just had to hang on a little longer. When the dagger appeared in Ba’al’s hand, Aaron knew what was coming. Death, then the dreaded sarcophagus…..
Aaron woke screaming, his body shaking, and sweat pouring off him. Bile rose in his his throat, he had just enough time to run to the bathroom to get sick. Then Nate was there, a cool cloth on his forehead, a gently placed hand between his shoulders just like every night since his rescue. Three weeks he was plagued with the nightmares of his torture at the hands of Ba’al. Aaron knew it would be a while before the nightmares subsided. His body was still shaking as he tried to fight off the last vestiges of the dream.
“You’re safe, Aaron. I’ve got you, you’re safe.” Nate pulled him onto his lap and held him in his arms while Aaron purged his emotions while leaning against Nate’s chest. He wanted to say he was sorry, but the words wouldn’t come. Nate just curled a hand against the back of his head and held him even closer to him. Aaron knew Nate also hand nightmares, he sometimes wondered if the two of them were ever going to be okay again, or if Ba’al really had broken something between them.
The one comfort Aaron had was when he remembered how Nate had burst into Ba’al’s chambers, the two fighting, one beyond feral, the other trying to keep Nate at bay. In the end, Nate and those with him had won and Ba’al, along with his elite guard, were all dead.
When Dr. Frasier went to use an Ancient device to heal Aaron’s scars he stopped her. The scars were part of him now, a reminder that he survived when he knew he should have been dead several times over, he wanted to keep them. Thankfully Nate understood.
“I hated feeling so vulnerable. I couldn’t do anything.” Aaron finally found his voice. “I couldn’t stop him, Nate.”
“You fought, you lived, and you didn’t give up. That isn’t nothing Aaron.” Nate’s voice was thick was emotion as his own terrible memories plagued him.
“I think I want to have people over. I need some kind of normal, Nate. I don’t care what we do. I can’t keep going like this.” Aaron made plans to talk to one of the SGC psychologists, he wanted to get through this, he wanted to still be out in the field with Nate.
“We’ll have a huge barbeque. Invite whoever you want.”
Aaron clung to Nate, needing the reassurance that he was home and not back in that hell he had been in. When he felt steadier Nate helped him up and into a shower. Aaron was grateful that Nate wasn’t leaving him alone, that he was right there for him. Letting the hot water cascade down his body, Nate wrapped around him once more and held him.
“I love you,” Aaron whispered against the skin of Nate’s neck. It was the first time he had let those words fall from his lips. Everything they had been through had pushed the two of them closer together. Going through the Stargate was such a new experience for Aaron, but he knew what he was doing was almost an extension of his previous work. He had kept SG1 from some harrowing situations by profiling the situation and the people before it got out of hand. They still got shot at. A lot, but Nate had commented once that it wasn’t as often as before. Also, with Alec on the team, there was less jury rigging and more sound engineering and science.
Nights were spent in Nate’s arms and Aaron knew he didn’t want to be anywhere else. Love slowly grew between them. Aaron had felt the emotions from Nate, but neither had wanted to put them to words till they were ready.
“Oh, Christ Aaron. I love you too.” Aaron could tell Nate was overwhelmed and was content with the silence. Nate helped him wash, then after getting out, he was wrapped in a robe and ensconced on the large reading chair while Nate changed the sheets. Aaron was just glad that he was able to keep his nightmares from the kids.
Faye and Jack were going through their own counseling. Their father missing for weeks had scared them and that was more guilt piled onto what Aaron had already felt.
“Come on, I think I know how to get you out of your head.” Nate smiled softly as he pulled Aaron close. The sex was more for comfort than pleasure. The two had needed the physical reminder that they were still alive and nothing, not even Ba’al could break them completely. Nate knew all the ways to touch Aaron that made him crazy, but this time it was slow and gentle. Nate was making love to Aaron and it was beautiful.
Aaron was smiling. It was the first smile Nate had seen from his Guide in weeks. The get together had been a good idea.
Pulling a bit of strings, Nate had a plane sent to DC and Aaron’s old team had been flown out to Colorado. All except Jason Gideon, who had disappeared when an old enemy had targeted him. Nate called in several favors and had the man tracked down. What he found he didn’t like. Gideon was close to total sensory collapse. He was in a small hospital that didn’t know how to deal with a Guide in Gideon’s situation. Nate quickly rectified that and had Gideon flown out to Colorado and placed in the S&G center’s long term care ward not far from the base. Spencer had been overcome with emotion and Daniel had to take several days to calm his Guide.
Nate was leaning against one of the fence posts that surrounded the large farmhouse that he and Aaron had bought. It was big enough for all of them with room for Cassie to visit on occasion as well. Nate had been ecstatic that Cassie took to Aaron right away, and Faye and Cassie quickly bonded in a way that had both men raising a brow. After the first week Nate had suggested Janet have Cassie tested, and sure enough she tested out to be a latent Guide. They were all watching to see what might come of Cassie and Faye’s friendship. Even right now the two girls had their heads together and holding hands.
“You wanna tell me what exactly happened to Hotch?” The man, Morgan Nate remembered, leaned against the fence next to him.
“What makes you think anything happened?”
“Look man, I worked with Hotch for more than seven years. I may not be a Guide, but I am a sensitive. I know what he feels like and there is something terrible that happened.”
Nate took a sip of his beer and looked sidelong at Morgan.
“If he wants to tell you, he will.”
Morgan pushed off and looked Nate in the eye.
“If you get him killed, don’t think I won’t hunt your ass down. He’s important to a lot of people.”
“Yes he is. But, he’s more important to me. So, is this some kind of shovel talk?”
Morgan laughed and shook his head before he leaned against the wood of the gate.
“Maybe it is. Maybe it is.” Morgan pushed off and went back to talking to Aaron who was at the large barbeque pit.
The woman in the very bright clothing had the kids entertained and Jack was highly amused by her. Paul Davis was confused by the loud and flirtatious woman, which amused Nate even more. Emily intrigued him. She would have made a great member of one of the Gate teams. Even Aaron’s brother Sean had shown up and was currently trying to tell Aaron how to cook.
“He’s doing better.” Nate looked to the side as Daniel occupied the spot Morgan had just left.
“How are you?”
Nate looked at the beer in his hand before taking a long pull, trying to settle himself.
“I felt him die, Daniel every fucking time, I felt him die. I haven’t told him that, he’s had enough to deal with.”
“Jack, you can’t keep that from him. I was there with you, remember?”
“Yeah, Danny I do. But let him heal from this first. I won’t lie, I promise but he needs time still to sort out what happened to him. Believe me, I know what he’s going through.” Nate rarely talked about his ordeal of being a POW, but he had told Aaron shortly after they had rescued him. Daniel only knew because Nate had gotten talkative one night after getting drunk.
“I know, Jack. You know Spencer and I are here, if you need us.”
“Thanks. You know that means a lot.”
The two friends stood there in a comfortable silence, content to watch.
“Who’s that?” Daniel frowned as Nate’s eyes swung over to where his companion was looking. Nate watched a moment wanting to get his first look at the man who still had a part of Aaron’s heart.
“Someone I think can help Aaron more than any of us can.”
“Sean, I assure you I know what I am doing.” Aaron smiled at his brother, then he felt it. An empathic signature he would know anywhere. Aaron turned around and watched as John Blackwolf, all power and grace, stode with confidence towards him.
“John…” Aaron swallowed back the emotion that had lodged in his throat.
“Aaron? Who’s that?” Aaron almost laughed. Sean had come to see him the very day the team had gotten the case that put Aaron in Blackwolf’s path.
“Here, watch the barbeque for me.” Aaron gave Sean the tongs he was holding and tried not to run towards the big Apache. In less time than he thought possible he was there once again in John’s presence. “How? When?…I…”
“A Jack O’Neil called me and told me I should come. That you had need of me.”
Aaron turned to look at Nate standing there with Daniel next to him. Nate just smiled and gestured that he was okay. Aaron turned back to Blackwolf and lifted his hand to wrap around John’s neck. The man’s hair was down falling past his shoulders and Aaron almost grabbed onto it. What he did instead was to press his forehead with Blackwolf’s and his free hand was engulfed in the bigger’s mans.
“I can’t believe you’re here,” Aaron whispered and felt like his knees wanted to give out.
“You’re a mess, shils aash, shi’chicasaw.”
Aaron closed his eyes as Blackwolf laid a hand on his cheek. He didn’t care that people were whispering, wondering what was going on.
“I…am.” Aaron couldn’t find the right words for what he was feeling.
“How long since you have meditated.”
“I can’t, John. Everytime I try…I…”
“What would your Sentinel say if I took you away for a couple of hours.”
Aaron reluctantly pulled away and looked towards Nate. At the almost imperceptible nod and the feeling he got from the bond Aaron felt a moment of relief. He needed to find his center again, if he was going to be any good for Nate.
“I know a place. I promise you’ll love it.”
Blackwolf let Aaron go. Aaron went into the house and changed his shoes to his hiking boots. He grabbed a pack and stuck some water, a few energy bars, and some pre-packed snacks that he and Nate made up for hikes with the kids. Slinging the pack across his back he didn’t say a word as he started off, Blackwolf followed and everyone at the get together stared in shock, but Aaron didn’t care. He needed this. He needed this more than he needed the therapy.
In silence the two walked through the woods not far from the ranch. Aaron led Blackwolf through a trail that Aaron had found one day while exploring on his own. When they came to the small clearing with a stream that cut through it, Aaron moved towards it and sat down on a large smooth rock, Blackwolf sat next to him. Aaron pulled out waters and handed one over and took one himself.
“I’m falling apart, John.”
“Can you tell me what happened?”
Aaron watched the stream a moment before he told Blackwolf what happened to him. Leaving out the alien and other planets part. When he was done he actually felt a little better.
“Everytime I try to meditate, or reconnect to the ley lines, I see him, I feel the things he did to me I…”
“Let me help you.”
Blackwolf stood and shed his jacket and shirt, Aaron did the same. Then, socks and shoes. He folded up the legs of his jeans up to his knees. He knew instinctively what Blackwolf wanted him to do as they walked into the stream and found a place where a large rock had been worn smooth by the water and time. Sitting down, feet still in the water, Blackwolf next to him, eyes closed as the warm sun penetrated the deep cold that had been inside of him since Ba’al.
Blackwolf kneeled behind him, one hand above Aaron’s heart, the other on his stomach. Aaron almost smiled as memories of the first time they had done this flooded his mind. Good memories that Aaron had always kept close.
“Remember, Aaron. Remember what it felt like the first time you truly connected to everything around you.” Blackwolf’s deep rumble resonated inside Aaron as he worked to push memories of his captivity aside. Breathing deep he tried to find what it was he had lost.
“Let go, sils aash. Let go and feel what is around you. Pull on that power you know is deep inside you. Let go, Aaron. Let go and remember.”
Aaron shuddered a moment then slowly, the hard knots that had lived inside his stomach started to loosen, the agony he had lived with almost made him double over but Blackwolf was there to catch him. Nate bloomed fully in his mind, pushed past the shields that Aaron had kept up between them because he hadn’t wanted to give Nate those feelings and memories, but quiet, soothing feelings from his Sentinel, love, so much love flooded him as the confluence of ley line energy he was sitting above was pulled inside of him. Soothing words form Blackwolf helped to ground him even more.
Then, Winston was there. The fox was running and playing, Aaron was seeing through his eyes as his Spirit animal found joy in the world around him. The energy started at his feet with the gentle flow of water, the feel of the rocks and sand under him, Aaron began to connect again to what had been so vital to him in the past and realized what had been blocking him. He had not wanted to taint the world around him with the vile memories of Ba’al and his ordeal.
“Nothing can taint the beauty around you unless you choose it to. Feel it, Aaron. Let it heal you. Sink into the energy that fills you and remember who you are!” Blackwolf’s Guide voice was powerful and with Nate’s love and devotion combined to be a powerful force that Aaron couldn’t fight. He shouted loud and long as all the things he had held back rose to the surface. Energy, warm, blue and soothing filled him like it never had before and Aaron kept shouting, kept pulling from the ley lines around him, got lost in it and felt everything at once.
He shouted one final time as it all came crashing together in one great purge. Slumping down, Aaron was exhausted and if it hadn’t been the strong arms he was engulfed in, he would have fallen into the stream. Being held close, Aaron let himself purge his emotions and was wrapped up mentally in Nate’s warmth, the block broken finally, Aaron trusted his mind once more to Nate, like he trusted him with his body.
“We’ll stay as long as you need, Aaron.” Blackwolf, the physical presence holding him together as Nate held him in his mind. This was the healing he had been needing. The trust Nate had put in him was overwhelming, but Aaron knew after this, they would be stronger than they had been before.
Nate wondered how they got here. Here being Aaron on the bed on his hands and knees with Blackwolf buried inside of him, Nate sprawled out on the oversized chair that had been positioned at the foot of the bed. He was naked stroking his cock watching.
Nate had never figured that he would share his Guide with anyone, especially after they bonded, but when Aaron had told him about Blackwolf Nate had felt not only the longing, but this vital need his Guide had for the man. It should have made him angry, or jealous, or both, but he tempered his emotions and took the time to watch the men during the party. The way they talked with their heads close, light touches, a deep rich laugh that made Nate think of sweeping plains, deep canyons, and sacred spaces. The smile on his Guide’s face, the teasing back and forth and Nate knew this was someone important to Aaron.
Through half-closed eyes he watched as Aaron curled his fingers in the sheets, back arch in as sounds of pleasure spilled from Aaron’s lips while Blackwolf took him apart right in front of Nate. Nate shuddered as his own pleasure swamped over him, the bond resonated deep inside of him and he felt everything Aaron was feeling. He knew they would talk about this later, but Nate knew he would never take this away from Aaron. There was beauty in the way Blackwolf worshipped Aaron’s body, how his hands knew which places made Aaron crazy, how he just knew what to do to get Aaron out of his head.
Ba’al had done everything in his power to try to break Aaron, to try to sever the bond between Nate and Aaron, to try to take what was Colonel Jack O’Neill’s. The Goa’uld had underestimated Aaron’s very strength of will. It didn’t mean that there weren’t scars left, both physically and emotionally. Nate was more than impressed that Aaron had not gone completely insane.
There had been something broken inside of his Guide and Nate had tried everything to help him, but Aaron wasn’t even sure what it was. Their bond was still strong, it was the only thing that had kept Nate going when he hunted down Ba’al and completely destroyed the Goa’uld.
John Blackwolf had taken one look at Aaron and just knew something had been wrong. This, though, had not been the solution that Nate had foreseen, but right at the moment he couldn’t regret the decision. He was witness to something that was beyond sex, beyond the physical, there was power that flowed up and around the three of them, Nate could feel it, and the healing that power brought. The bond strengthened even more and was beginning to feel healthier than ever. When Aaron looked up at him, mouth open, eyes half-closed in pleasure, fingers digging into the mattress, Nate thought he was going to lose it.
“Nate,” his name fell from Aaron’s lips, need and desperation came through. Nate pushed off the chair and moved close. A hand wrapped around his aching, engorged cock making Nate hiss in pleasure. His head fell back as Aaron’s mouth wrapped around him, that connection made Nate’s whole world explode in brilliant, blinding colors. The emotions in the room wrapped around him like a warm familiar blanket, love, devotion, gratitude, respect were all wrapped together and permeated through Nate’s very being.
Going on instinct, he buried one hand in Aaron’s short hair, the other in Blackwolf’s long hair that was flowing down around his face and falling on Aaron’s shoulder’s. Nate’s brain short-circuited as Blackwolf lifted up enough to kiss him, his hips never faltering. The man was power and grace all wrapped into one.
Nate felt Aaron shudder and knew he had come. Nate pulled out of Aaron’s mouth and quickly finished, he didn’t think he could hold on any longer, it was all too much all at once. He looked up when he heard a grunt and saw the look of utter bliss fall over Blackwolf’s face. After Blackwolf pulled from Aaron’s body, Nate crawled up on the bed and a moment later Aaron curled up in his arms. When Blackwolf exited the bathroom he looked a little lost for a moment which was unusual for the Apache Guide, a man who usually always knew just exactly what he was doing almost every moment of the day.
“You can stay,” Nate’s voice was thick with emotion as he and Aaron made room. Blackwolf hesitated but a moment and spooned behind Aaron. Nate chuckled to himself, never thinking that the big man would actually like to spoon.
Nate contemplated on the very surreal nature of this whole experience as he held his Guide in his arms. Aaron clung to him like he had that first night after Nate had found him, grounding himself, but this time he was letting go of his nightmarish time with Ba’al. Nate knew Aaron was changed by what happened.
“Thank you, Nate.” Aaron swallowed hard as he whispered against Nate’s skin emotions still running high.
“You never have to thank me, Aaron. I will give you whatever you need, always.”
Nate had never thought he and Aaron would get to this place. He knew he had to walk away all those years ago, but now with his bond, he knew he couldn’t walk away, not when Aaron was so deeply a part of him that it made him ache.
“I love you, Aaron. Guide.”
“I love you, Nate. Sentinel.”
Aaron fell asleep against Nate and once he had, Blackwolf silently and gently extricated himself, but not before leaning over, cupping Nate’s face in his hands and kissing him. Nate felt a strange, deep connection to the Apache Guide that he would ponder later. Blackwolf pulled back and smiled, then he slipped off the bed. Nate looked up, confusion as the big man gathered his clothes together.
“This time is yours. I will always be there, for either of you.” Saying nothing else, Blackwolf let himself out of the house and Nate wondered if he would see the Apache Guide again, he had the feeling that the future held many possibilities when it came to John Blackwolf. Now, though, he was content to continue to help Aaron heal and for them to get back to the business of saving the universe, together.