Title: A Lone Wolf
Fandom: Scarecrow and Mrs. King
Relationship(s): Lee Stetson/Amanda King
Content Rating: M
Warnings: There are going to be some deaths in this. SC&MK rarely killed anyone, from what I remember. I’m ignoring that.
His mission was in danger.
Lee moved in and out of the crowd at the train depot. He was filtering out the scents and sounds that had nothing to do with the mission he was on. He could hear the faint sounds of the footsteps of his pursuer and figured they were only minutes behind him.
He shrugged his shoulders as he slipped between rail cars, trying to get comfortable in the tux he was in. His sense of touch flared out and he winced. God, he was uncomfortable. It took time he didn’t have to control the urge to rip the whole outfit off but he couldn’t run around naked and be effective. But his temporary Guide would be getting an earful for not remembering the problems he had with dry cleaned clothes…
With his sense of touch under a shaky control, Lee ramped his hearing up for a split second. He had been trained to get a read on his environment as quickly as possible, and he couldn’t afford to be vulnerable here. A train depot was not made for a Sentinel. The only thing he heard was the footsteps of the two men who were after him.
The Guide assigned to him for the mission was nowhere to be found and Lee didn’t have time to try to look for her. He would have to trust that she could look after herself. He was having enough problems with himself. Since his hearing was basically a bust, he carefully raised his sense of smell up several notches.
Lee took a deep breath and filtered out the scents associated with the train yard automatically and caught a muted whiff of peach and honey. Somewhere, deep inside of him, his Sentinel perked up and turned around to follow the scent. The sound of the footsteps on his tail got louder and Lee cut them out to try to match the scent to a heartbeat as he slowly ratcheted his hearing up.
The woman who matched the scent was dressed in a beige trench coat, accented with a plaid scarf and gloves and he pushed away a level of frustration at not getting the change to touch her bare skin. The package in his arms gave him an excuse and he stepped into her space and tucked his arm into hers.
“Wha?” she started to say and Lee had to bite down hard on his control. Her voice was light and smoky, with a burr right in the middle that somehow soothed him better than any other person ever had.
“I need you to take this package and hold it until I find you,” Lee told her. His attention was on her, mostly, but the footsteps that had been perusing him were getting louder. Ruthlessly he jacked his hearing up and memorized her heartbeat and the rhythms of her body so he could find her again.
“Sentinel are you in danger?” she asked as she clutched at the package, he thrust at her. She was tense and starting to leak stress hormones and Lee was sorry that he was the cause of it, but he needed to deal with the men chasing him before he could concentrate on what he meant to him.
“Yes. I need you to take this box and disappear for a little bit. I’ll be able to find you. Now, go, get moving!” Lee put the weight of what he was behind the command. It slid right off her and reflected back onto him from an incredibly sophisticated set of shields that only flared to life when he had pushed.
“Well, that was rude. All you had to do was say!” his mystery woman huffed before moving past him, the package clutched in her hands.
Lee spent several seconds staring after her, surprised at how easily she had avoided his command. Most of the Guides he knew couldn’t handle it when he pushed like that. Whomever she was, she ignored the push and had even pushed back at him.
The crowds surrounding them shifted and his mystery woman disappeared into the mass of them, the fading sound of her heartbeat the only clue she had been there. Lee looked around and saw one of his pursuers and had to suppress a snarl. The grin that crossed his face was savage and he turned to duck between a set of rail cars, moving deeper into the depot.
The two men who had been harrying him for almost three hours followed closely behind him and he growled softly in satisfaction. Ducking behind a solid plinth, Lee waited, all his senses attuned to his back trail.
When a hand wrapped around a gun moved across the space before him, he waited. He needed a bit more than an arm. Luck was with him and the man was looking away from him as he stepped into view. Lee didn’t wait for him to look back. He just reached out and snapped the man’s neck before lowering the body to the void behind him.
The dead man’s partner followed several minutes later and Lee took care of him as quickly. For mundanes, they had done a remarkable job in tracking him. But he didn’t need them tracking him away from the train station. He needed to get back to the Agency, report, direct a cleanup team for the corpse and burn the tux he was wearing before going hunting. Maybe even with a side order of screaming at his temp Guide for being shit at her job.
Because he had a package to find and a mystery to solve. The lady he had turned his very important, very vital, very secret package over to? Was his Guide. And he needed to find her.
Lee walked into the back door of the Agency and started stripping is suit off as soon as the door closed. He was heading for the Sentinel safe room that had been set up for him within days of him being assigned to the office.
“Lee, what kept you?” Billy, his boss, and friend, asked from the anteroom where he was taking off his contaminated clothes.
Lee ignored him as he got his undershirt off. The rash covering his torso was now inflamed and he needed to get it treated before he went any further. From the hiss of sympathy Billy let out at the sight of his skin, he looked bad to mundane eyes too. “I got held up by two guys who were guarding the package. Currently, their corpses are stuffed in a culvert, almost exactly in the middle. I have no idea where Francine is, and I don’t care. I’m going to shower, stop by medical and then hunt down the Guide I handed my package to.”
“You handed off your package to a civilian?” Billy asked as he waved one of the medics on standby forward. “Why did you do that? And how in the hell can you be sure that they won’t look at it?”
“No thank you,” Lee growled as the medic approached him. He wanted no one to touch him until he had showered. “I need to get clean before you start messing with me.”
He ignored his boss and the rest of his entourage to pad his way into the main room and slapped the button to seal himself off from the rest of his coworkers. His shower was easily turned on and he ducked under the spray to get clean. His teeth were gritted as he finished getting clean, but he knew that he needed to get the chemical residue from the tux off his skin.
Lee blotted his skin just dry enough that he wouldn’t stick to his clothes before he went hunting for something to wear. As he poked through each of the items on offer, he carefully sniffed them, just in case. Three of the four pairs of cotton pants he had stored stank of chemicals and he set them aside. The fourth was tucked into a drawer under his underwear. Which he didn’t bother to pull on.
Only when he had the drawstring tied off did Lee bother to unlock the suite to allow Billy and a medic in.
“Sentinel, can you handle your dials if I touch you?” the medic asked as he entered the room.
“Yes,” Lee told him. The medic had never hurt him before and he trusted that he wouldn’t start now. “Just that it so I can get moving.”
“Jesus, Lee what caused that?” Billy cooked as he stared at the raw skin covering Lee’s chest.
“When Francine got our kit together for this mission, she didn’t confirm the tux had been cleaned for my use,” Lee informed his boss, voice even. “Then she disappeared as I was hauling ass away from the scene. I want her sanctioned for that, Billy.”
The flush that spread up the shorter man’s face was subtle and mostly hidden by his complexion. The stink of his anger satisfied something in him and Lee wasn’t going to look too closely at why. “Francine left you alone? And what do you mean the tux wasn’t cleared for your use?”
“I didn’t get this rash because of anything at the train station, Billy. It was there already. At any rate, I managed to stay ahead of my pursuers and was in the process of finding a spot to stash the package when I got the first hint of a nearby Guide. I’ve got a basic imprint and I should be able to find her without too much trouble,” Lee kept reporting on the day’s activity. The sooner he got it all out, the sooner he could go find the Guide.
“Sentinel, I’m going to be spreading some aloe on your skin. Are you good with that?” the medic interrupted, voice and heartbeat steady and soothing.
“Yeah, go ahead,” Lee told him. “Once the package was safe, I dealt with the two guys following me and then came here. Their corpses are hidden and neither had any ID on them. The guns they were carrying are in the tux’s pockets.”
Billy blew out a breath and Lee raised an eyebrow at the emotional display. Yeah, the whole mission had gone sideways, but no one on his side was dead, that he knew of. So, a successful mission as far as he was concerned.
“We’ll get a clean-up crew out to deal with the loose ends. Francine is in the bullpen and gave no indication there were any problems. I know what I say has no real weight in temp pairings, but she’s not going out with you again. That much I can ensure as the head of this agency.”
Lee nodded his acceptance of that. He could not work with her and he didn’t want anyone else to work with her either. “Make sure to put a lock on the door to this room too. Someone’s been messing with the supplies I have stored, and I don’t have time to figure out who.”
“Fantastic,” his boss muttered. “The Guide you left the package with, was she bonded?”
“Oh, boy.” Billy actually rubbed his hands together and Lee snorted softly in amusement. “Let me know how things turn out.”
“Will do,” Lee told him before touring to the medic treating him. “Can I get dressed?”
“The rash is calmer and seems to be subsiding, so I would say yes. Just try to limit your exposure to those chemicals for a while,” the younger man told him.
“I can do that. Now shoo, the both of you. I need to get dressed.” he said with a flap of his hands. Once they were gone, Lee headed back to where he had his clothes stored and started putting together a respectable looking outfit. After all, he didn’t want to meet the woman who might actually be his Guide looking like a slob.
Amanda King was no pushover. She had managed to make a new life for herself after her divorce, she had kept custody of her two sons and hadn’t drowned her mother in the kitchen sink. Given that her mother was a widowed Guide who had managed to hold onto her gifts when her Sentinel had died, that was a pretty big accomplishment.
She was also dealing with coming online. Her gifts had been unfolding slowly and without incident or trauma. Deciding to stick it out at home had made sense.
The only reason she had gone out that day was to make sure her ex-husband made it to the train. He had spent the weekend with their boys and had personally let them know that he wasn’t going to be there for weekends for a long while. His job was taking him out of the country and the best the boys would have for the next few years would be a phone, letters, and maybe Christmas.
So, she had dropped the man off at the train and was heading home when a Sentinel had accosted her and passed her the thing he had been carrying. It was so weird. And she had felt a surge as her nascent gifts started to unfold faster than they had before. She had made it home, put the package on her dresser, and then laid down. The headache that had been building all day was definitely a thing and she needed a few minutes to deal.
“Amanda? Honey? Are you okay?” her mother, Dotty, called as she entered the house.
“I’m fine, mother!” Amanda called as she swung her legs off the bed to stand up.
Her mother snorted and made her way to stand in her doorway. “I can feel you coming fully online, dear. Do you want me to take the boys for the night? Or escort you to the S&G Center?”
“I’ve passed the halfway mark, Mother. And I have a feeling that I need to stay here for the day. I’ll be fine. My shields are holding and I’m in control. I just have a headache.” Amanda told her mother, voice calm.
“If you say so, dear. Should I prep out the fridge with supplies?” her mother asked with an arch look on her face. Like she knew something that Amanda didn’t. If she didn’t love her mother so much, she would… Amanda had no idea what she would do, but she would do something.
“No. Please. I’m just going to take a nap and then putter around the garden.”
Her mother stared at her for several moments before she nodded. “Alright. But call me if you think things are changing.”
Amanda smiled at the waves of love and acceptance her mother was giving off. “I will. Thank you for taking the boys.”
The smile on her mother’s face was bright and under better circumstances, she might have been suspicious. “Uh-huh. Enjoy your nap, dearie.”
“Thanks, mother,” Amanda murmured as she stripped off her clothes and slid on a nightgown. Sleep was pulling her down and she gave in to the urge to rest.
Lee got dressed in the best that he had on hand. Jeans, a good button-down shirt with a sports coat on top. He felt… underdressed for meeting the woman who might be his Guide. A thorough search of his room had shown that at least one of his temp Guides had been through making changes and he was infuriated. Lee had grabbed a pen and paper and spent thirty minutes writing everything down on what had been changed without his authorization. It had been a lot.
In between adding things to his list, Lee managed to cobble together a meal. And then promptly added the foods that he normally kept in the iso room to the list. He was going to be screaming at Guides for hours, the way things were looking. The short note to the S&G Center was an afterthought.
When he made it out, he had a very unwelcome visitor waiting on him.
“Francine. So, you are alive. What a shocker,” Lee tried to push past his previous temp Guide without stopping.
“Lee, I’m glad to see that you made it back,” Francine smiled at him, all sharp edges and teeth.
He had never found out what her Spirit Animal was and frankly he had never been interested in finding out. They had sliced against each other from the first day instead of blending to form a working whole. Add in her inability to settle his senses while they were in the office and her habit of wearing products that aggravated him? Well, Lee had never quite felt safe in her hands and had done all he could to avoid her when they hadn’t been on a mission.
“No thanks to you,” Lee bit out. He didn’t have time for her. “Stay out of my iso room.”
“As your Guide, it’s my responsibility to make sure your safety and comfort are taken care of. That means that your isolation room is something that falls under those duties,” his former temp Guide told him with a smile as false as her hair color.
“And if you had actually managed to do that job, I might not want to drop you off a cliff. Do me a favor. Transfer. Leave. You are hellish to work with and I’m not going to,” Lee told her bluntly.
From the way she blanched, he had touched a nerve. Too damn bad. He had put up with her for months and had tried just about everything to tell her that she was shit at guiding him. It hadn’t worked. He had a better option now.
“I’ll be informing the S&G Center that you are declining to work with your registered Guide,” Francine threatened. “You have to work with me.”
“No, I don’t,” Lee told her; he kept his voice as poisonously pleasant as possible. “I refuse to work with someone who has never managed to actually help me in all the time we’ve had to work together. Billy is already aware of this and has passed my refusal on to the S&G Center. If I had my way, you wouldn’t be working with another Sentinel ever.”
Walking through the main offices of the Agency, Lee swung by Billy’s office to pass off his lists. “I’m heading out to find the package and the lady I gave it to.”
“I figured, Lee. Have you seen Francine?”
“Yup, seen her and told her not to darken my door ever again,” Lee told his boss without a smile. He handed over the note concerning his former Guide. “Make sure that gets to the Sentinel & Guide Center here in DC, please. And this is for the techs who handle the clean-up of the various iso rooms. Everything in mine needs to be cleaned and replaced.”
“Great,” Billy had the most resigned look on his face that Lee had ever seen. He could have been a bit more contrite, he supposed, but it really wasn’t in his nature. And Billy had known what he was getting into. Lee was quite certain that he had been warned on what was likely to happen when a person was in placed charge of a bunch of Sentinels and Guides.
Lee gave him a jaunty wave before heading out. “Right. See you in a while, Billy.”
“Good luck, Lee.”
The trip back to the train station was a lot easier this time around. He had his own car for one and he wasn’t trying to itch his way out of his own skin for two. Catching his Guide’s scent was easy and he kept the windows down as he started circling the area, trying to get a trace. Every time he did, he moved in the direction it was strongest until he was parked outside a very nice suburban house that smelled strongly of his Guide.
Lee made very certain to park carefully and legally before exiting his vehicle. As he walked up to the door, he checked the place out with his senses. Two people in it and only one was a heartbeat he recognized as the one he had memorized earlier in the day.
As he stepped onto the walk the front door opened and he froze. The woman who exited wasn’t the one he wanted, but she was related. And a Guide. Schooling his features to be pleasant and not threatening, Lee smiled.
Snorting the older woman stared at him for several moments before nodding. “So, you’re the reason she’s come online. Good of you to show up. I’m Dotty West, my daughter is Amanda King. She has two sons, Philip and Jamie, and an ex-husband who will be out of the picture for at least the next few years. She isn’t really dating, but she’s been tempted a few times. If you don’t treat her right, I’ll beat you to death with a shovel and bury you in the back yard. Am I understood?”
Well, the lady was both forthright and as feisty as hell. It boded well for what her daughter was like. “Yes, ma’am. You are. Lee Stetson, I’m…”
Dotty waved her hands at him in a dismissive gesture as she started walking towards one of the cars parked in the driveway. “My daughter’s Sentinel. Stop talking to me and get in there! I’ll have the kids for the next two days and will be back this time, day after tomorrow. Shoo!”
For once in a very great while, Lee did as he was bid. He shooed. Right into his Guide’s house.
The house, when he entered it, did seem to be a typical suburban house with kids in it. The scent of his Guide permeated the whole structure and it let him relax as he entered what really was strange territory for him. Infiltrating a foreign embassy seemed like a surer thing as he walked through to the living room. Nothing in the house seemed to aggravate his senses and Lee sighed in relief.
The spread of his senses was easy and Lee could feel parts of him that had been tense for years, relaxing. If this worked between them, he would never have to suffer another temp Guide. Nodding to himself at that possibility, he decided to take the better safe than sorry approach and settled down on a couch in the living room. Given the slow beat of his Guide’s heart, she was asleep and he didn’t have it in him to wake her up.
Lee also wasn’t going to go prowl any further through her house to get a handle on what Amanda was like. He had to wonder what the lady’s spirit animal was. Something with spirit and verve, he was sure.
Time passed in fits and starts as Lee sank into a semi-meditative state. His own Spirit animal roamed around him, and he was only vaguely aware of the contentment radiating off the other, wilder part of his soul. Even though he had only spoken to his Guide for less than a minute that morning, he was certain all would be well.
When he felt Amanda wake up, Lee pulled himself up and out of his meditations and suppressed his nerves. His wolf had other ideas and started towards the bedroom where he had been listening to Amanda’s heartbeat for several hours. The scream that ripped through the house was completely unexpected.
Lee ran for the room and grabbed the sides of the door to stop himself from entering. His wolf was sitting in front of the bed where the woman he wanted as his Guide was laying. Braced in front of him was the biggest cocker spaniel he had ever seen and it was growling at his Spirit Animal.
Tramp was sitting on his haunches with his head cooked to the side in curiosity. Lee could feel himself mirroring the stance as he stared at his Guide.
“What are you doing here?” she asked him, voice hard and full of questions. “Lady, leave the wolf alone. You don’t know where he’s been!”
Lee snorted softly in laughter at the name she had given the spaniel before it looked at him. The last time he had seen a look like that was on his own spirit animal’s face. His eyes were caught by the fluffy canines for only a moment before it faded out. His Guide had a cocker spaniel as her spirit animal. The urge to laugh until he cried was painful but he kept the smile off his face.
“Hey you!” the burr he had heard in his Guide’s voice was present again. “What are you doing here? And how did you find me!”
“My name is Lee Stetson; I’m rated to be an Alpha Sentinel Prime if I manage to bond with anyone. I’m stationed here in D.C for my job which isn’t military, but I can’t get too far into it. I’ve never been married and I have no kids. I like them, but I have no real experience with them, so I’ll need you to help me not be stupid with yours,” He took a deep breath and plunged over the metaphorical cliff. “I followed you by tracing your scent firm the tram station to here. And I think you’re my Guide.”
“What?” Amanda’s voice cracked and Lee smiled, utterly charmed at how her voice reflected her mood. He watched as she ran a hand over her face before pointing past his shoulder. “Out! And take your mutt with you!”
“He’s a wolf,” Lee told her with a bright grin.
“He’s a menace. Just like you,” Amanda snapped back. “Now get out of my bedroom!”
“You don’t know me yet, how can you say that?” he asked as he jerked his head at his spirit animal. Tramp looked back at him and sneezed before disappearing from sight. Lee ignored the snort of amusement from his Guide as he waited for his answer.
“You accosted me at a train station. And then followed me home. Now, out!” his Guide snapped.
She had used a touch of guide voice so he was certain she meant it. Lee just nodded before making his way down to the kitchen of the house and started indulging his curiosity. The fridge seemed to be full of foods that were good to eat cold or easily reheated. Lining the counters were plastic cups with bottles of water and juice.
It looked as if Dotty had taken the time to prepare for them to spend time together. A quick scan showed that there were no condoms or lube stashed anywhere, and he wondered if they were in his Guide’s room. He had to push the thought of Amanda naked away from him before he embarrassed himself.
His nose caught the scent of coffee and he looked around for the source. Dotty had even made sure that the coffee maker was even ready to be turned on. Lee stood in front of the little machine and tapped his fingers against the countertop. Coffee or not?
“Here,” the package that had started the adventure was set on the center beside the coffee cups. “Call whoever you need to, to get that delivered. Once it’s gone, we’ll talk.”
“Right. Anything else?” Lee asked as he moved towards the phone on the wall. It was totally unsecured, but it would do for this. If things went as he hoped he would need something better in the future.
“Yes,” Amanda gave him a level look before crossing her arms. “I’ve been slowly coming online for the last six weeks. Today when we met, that sped up to the point where I’m fully active. Right now, I have a headache. Since we haven’t touched, skin to skin, we have some time and I need it. When we do get to the touching stage, I’m sure things will get very hectic, very fast.”
Lee thought back to their initial meeting and realized that they hadn’t actually touched each other’s skin. He took a deep breath and nodded. If he was this territorial over his Guide with only her scent and her heartbeat imprinted, he didn’t want to see what would happen when he had a lock on everything else. Getting rid of the package now was a damn good idea.
He finished dialing the unsecured phone number to the Agency and maneuvered his way through the various menus until he reached Billy. His boss would be sending an agent out to retrieve the package, put a bonding sign on the door to the house and take a note to the S&G center. Billy also told him that he wouldn’t tell Francine about his bonding until Lee authorized it.
There was an unhealthy part of him that was looking forward to seeing how his Guide dealt with his former temp Guide. Lee wasn’t expecting a catfight, but he was expecting to see someone put in their place. And he was absolutely certain that it wouldn’t be Amanda. Conversation over, he hung up the phone to find the object of his distraction leaning against a kitchen counter, cradling a mug of coffee.
“You are hell on my ability to concentrate and multitask,” Lee admitted as he pointed at the carafe. “Do you mind if I have a cup?”
“Go ahead,” level brown eyes inspected him from head to toe. “So, Lee Stetson, since we aren’t going to do anything other than talk until my head stops hurting, start talking about yourself. From the looks of things, I’m sure my mother stayed long enough to give you a brief rundown of my life.”
Lee winced. “She did. And I like her. Even if she did tell me she would beat me to death with a shovel if I hurt you.”
His Guide just blinked at him for a moment before she broke into peals of delighted laughter. The grin that stretched across his face felt entirely natural and Lee went with it. The sound of her amusement was something that he wanted to hear for the rest of his life.
“Do you want more coffee?” Amanda asked as she uncurled from her spot on the couch.
“I’m coffeed out at the moment,” her Sentinel, now Lee, admitted. He waved a hand in a vaguely embarrassed air and she pointed him towards the right door. She was sure he knew, but her mother had rammed manners into her head and, well…
At any rate, she was as sick of coffee as he was. But it had been helping her headache, so Amanda had drunk far more than her normal amount. Now she felt like she should be vibrating out of her skin, but was mostly mellow and hungry. A brief investigation of the fridge showed that someone had added a coffee cake to it and she sliced off a generous slice before grabbing a bottle of water. They had been talking for hours, and while she was very aware there were things Lee wasn’t telling her, it wasn’t because he was trying to be deceptive.
Her sentinel had felt… frustrated a few times as he seemed to come up to the edge of some topics and have to back off. She was reasonably certain he would have to get her a security clearance before they actually bonded and she learned everything anyway. But thanks to the pattern of evasions and silences, she was certain that whatever he did was as legal as possible and for one of the various alphabet agencies in DC. They had even managed to discuss the all-important intimate safety question before they went any further than talking.
Early in the afternoon, they had been interrupted by someone coming to the door. The package pickup had gone about as well as could be expected. While the agent who had shown up to fetch it had raised all her hackles, Amanda had stayed sitting, working to keep Lady from appearing and trying to savage the Guide who had come to her door. She had marked down what the other woman looked like. She was going to be dealing with her later.
When Lee walked out of the bathroom, she pointed towards her office. “There’s a phone in there. The door closes and you need to get full authorization to share what’s in your head before we bond. Because you know I’ll see it all.”
The look her Sentinel gave her in return could only be labeled as ‘constipated’ and Amanda laughed softly as he glared at her. There was no heat in the look, but there was some outrage. “Better get to it, sentinel. I’m feeling better.”
Comprehension lit Lee’s eyes and a flash of predatory interest sparked across his emotional landscape. Amanda made a mental note to find someplace where her Sentinel could indulge in hunting her down. The idea brought an interesting warmth and a flush to her as well, so she figured that they could have some fun and training in one activity.
Lee headed up to her office and Amanda finished her cake before hitting her shower. She felt mildly sticky from her nap and she wanted to clean up. Body hair removal had been something she had done years before and she was glad of it now. Shaving on short notice would not have been fun.
Amanda wrapped a towel around herself and checked on her earlier prep work. The bed was made with fresh linens, there was lube, toys, a small bowl with warm water and massage oils. She was as ready as she was going to get. Standing at the foot of the bed she tried to figure out how she wanted to approach this. In the middle of the bed with the covers to her chin was right out. Ambushing her Sentinel was out too.
That left lying naked on the sheet. It took more than one deep breath before she was ready to drop the towel in the hamper, but Amanda got settled on the bed. Staring at the ceiling got oh, fast and she sat up. Crossing her legs tailor fashion, she settled into place. While she wasn’t quite ready for meditation, but Amanda made an effort to clear her mind.
The image of her sentinel formed in her mind’s eye and Amanda let it. Tall and well built, Lee was obviously extremely fit. His muscles seemed to be from use, not a gym. She appreciated that. His hands didn’t seem to be soft and pampered but showed enough roughness to be interesting.
He dressed well, she mussed as she thought of the outfit Lee had been wearing. It might be shallow of her, but she liked looking good and she liked it when her partner also looked good. Going hand on hand with that was Lee seemed to know how to be well-groomed and that combined with the rest of the physical package was a very warming thought.
She spent the rest of the wait contemplating the man she was soon to be sharing her life with. By the time Lee made it upstairs, Amanda was quite impatient for his arrival as her thoughts circled around and around what was to come. As her Sentinel walked in the door, she could see when he realized her mood.
His eyes dilated, his face flushed and his cock got hard. Amanda licked her lips in anticipation. “You are hell on my nerves already,” Lee told her. He was unbuttoning his shirt and got the first three done before giving in and pulling his shirt over his head. His shoes were kicked off and his pants and underwear followed.
Amanda watched as Lee looked at his feet before he pulled his socks off. When he stood up, she looked at him, taking in the body of a man who lived by what he could get his body to do. There were a few scars, but she hadn’t expected anything else. The muscles she had hoped for were there and well defined. Her eyes fell to her sentinel’s cock and her mouth watered with want. The snort of amusement from Lee broke her concentration and she looked up. “Guide.”
The smile that stretched across her lips felt like nothing so much as wicked. “Sentinel.”
“You can still call this off. We can wait,” Lee offered.
She could tell that he was straining his own control to give her this one last offer and she shook her head. “I’m good with this. I want this just as badly as you do,” she told him and unfolded her legs before lying back down. “Come, Sentinel, claim your Guide.”
Lee stood at the foot of the bed and tried not to drool. He was a grown damn man, with self-control and all that jazz. He wouldn’t pounce on his Guide. Each breath was spiced with the scent of her arousal and he wanted to wallow in it.
He dropped to his knee on the bed and reached out to grasp his Guide’s ankles. He could feel all his senses expanding to wrap around Amanda, and he let them. The feel of her mind was still distant but growing and he felt like he was basking in the sunlight. Her skin was soft, and when he bent over to smell it, it smelt clean and fresh, Lee ran careful fingers over her feet and smiled at the involuntary jerk and giggle that earned him. Each toe was thin and delicate, nails painted a demure pink and her arches high and strong.
He dropped a kiss on the top of each foot before moving further onto the bed slowly spreading Amanda’s legs with his knees. From the rush of scent and the high-pitched moan, she was okay with that. Lee slowly ran his hands up her legs and bit back a groan as she spread her legs further. His hearing was up far enough that he could hear her heartbeat as a comfortable background noise blending with the sound of air moving in and out of her lungs. Lee let himself rest there for several beats, just absorbing the sounds of Amanda’s body. Her voice still had the burr buried in it as it glided over his ears like silk carried by the moans that were falling from her lips.
He could feel the moment when he had glutted himself on the sounds of her voice and body. His hearing feel back to normal levels and the rest of his senses ramped up further. He didn’t know what he wanted next.
“It’s all for you, sentinel,” Amanda gasped out as his fingers clenched on her hips.
Lee could feel the jerky nod of his head and he swallowed hard. Slowly he ran his hands up his Guide’s ribcage and traced around her breasts to her belly. The sight of his hands, so large and tanned against the pale skin of his Guide too brought another surge of lust and he could feel his cock getting harder.
He gently explored every bit of the front of his Guide, becoming intimately familiar with the feel of her skin under his hands and lips. He knew he was bringing her pleasure with his touch, but that wasn’t his goal. As soon as he felt satisfied with his impression of her front, he urged her to roll over so he had access to the rest of her. Amanda’s muscles were lax and he appreciated that she wasn’t tense or frightened. From head to toe, Lee explored every inch of skin under his hands. When his touch sparked a pleasurable jolt, he filed the location for later.
Touch was almost slotted into place with hearing and he could feel the web his senses were weaving start to firm up. Taste and sight were lagging behind since he was avoiding certain areas, but he knew that would change quickly. Lee pulled carefully get Amanda to turn over again and he groaned as her scent moved around him. He made his way up to her lips and hovered over them, breathing deeply, trying to take everything in.
His fingers finally moved from the skin on his Guide’s hips and drifted over the smooth bare expanse of her mound. The wet heat he had been ignoring exploded over his fingers and he moaned softly. Amanda moaned as well, and from where his hand was resting on her mound, he could feel her muscles clench with an orgasm. Lee had to taste the sound and kissed his Guide for the first time.
He had heard Sentinels say that their Guides tasted spicy or sweet or even like something. He hadn’t believed it. As he kissed his Guide, he found himself believing it now. Hot and spicy, she was everything he had wanted and never known he was missing. Grabbing his cock, he lined it up against the flesh of his Guide and rubbed the tip against the folds protecting her.
Lee lifted his head, breaking the kiss he was sharing with Amanda. He took a deep breath and tried to pull his brain back into gear. “May I?”
Amanda raised her hands from where they were lying at her sides to cup his face. “All yours, Sentinel. I’m protected.”
“Thank you,” Lee whispered as he slid into the wet heat of his Guide’s body. As his cock settled into place, he could feel every sense lock into place as he balanced on both hands. “I’m ready for you.”
“Oh, thank God,” Amanda gasped, the burr in her voice breaking on each syllable. Her mind expanded, covering, blending, and protecting his with all the layers of her shields. Lee jerked, driving his cock deeper into his Guide before he pulled out and did it again.
The pleasure was blinding and Lee chased after it, again and again. Amanda’s mind was meshing with his and he could feel her pleasure climbing with each thrust of his cock. Lee propped himself up on one arm and reached between them to brush his fingers over his Guide’s clitoris. Once, twice and on the third brush, he could feel it when Amanda crashed over the edge into orgasm and he followed.
With the rush of pleasure, the bond that had started between them that morning sealed into place, binding them together with chains of spirit and mind. Somewhere in the background, Lee was sure he heard his wolf howl and Amanda’s cocker spaniel try to follow suit. Content and complete, he snuggled into the embrace of the one person he had never expected to find. His Guide.
It took them most of the two days they had gotten from Dotty before they had glutted themselves out. Amanda wasn’t finished appreciating her Sentinel and she didn’t expect that she would be anytime next few decades. But two days was about as long as she could reasonably expect her mother to keep her boys away from the house.
She had no idea how the boys would take her bonding. Neither were precisely online, but they were both extremely sensitive to her and her moods. At six and nine, Jamie and Philip were too young to come online unless there was a hell of a stressor, but she didn’t think Lee would be one.
They had talked, the two of them, about the boys and what she wanted for them. Philip, her eldest was likely to be the one to come online as a Sentinel. She could almost see a spirit animal forming around him and that concerned her. Philip was nine. She could only hope it was due to her status as a Guide that was letting her see things early.
Jamie, well Jamie was like her. She would not be surprised to find him coming online as a Guide with the onset of puberty. If he did, she was going to be making damn sure he was prepared. Her mother had done all she could for her, but Amanda hadn’t come fully online until Lee had arrived in her life. She wanted to make sure that her budding Guide was prepared for what was to come.
Lee had tried, unsuccessfully, to hide his freak-out at realizing that with his Guide had come two children who would see him as their stepfather. Her amusement had carried across their bond with little difficulty, but she had tried to explain why. She really did.
“The boys have always known I was a Guide, Lee. And it was impossible to hide that I was coming online these last weeks. Mother will have prepared them to meet you, so you can be certain there won’t be much friction from that. I think Philip might give you some, just because he’s the one I expect to be a Sentinel, but I think that it will be minor. Neither of my boys is online,” she explained.
“I know. You’ve said. But Amanda, the last time I was around kids the age yours are, I was a kid,” the look Lee was giving her was concerned and slightly confused. “What am I going to be able to do with them?”
“Be a good influence? Make sure that they grow up to be fine and decent men who will make us proud?” Amanda told him; voice serious.
“You know what I do for a living, Amanda! How in the world can I be a good influence on your kids?” Lee asked, voice serious.
And hadn’t that been a surprise? Her Sentinel was a spy. One who was very successful at his craft. She had seen a number of things in his head that had meshed with what she knew from the news and changed her worldview forever. And if he had done as well as he had without a competent Guide, she was actually looking forward to what he would be like once she was trained enough to assist him.
She had also managed to get a view of his various temp Guides. That was something else she was looking forward to. Francine, the one who had picked up the package that had started this saga, was going to be in for a rude awakening. From the way Lady was growling in the back of her mind, the cocker spaniel was on board with her plans.
At any rate, she needed to make sure that Lee knew she trusted him with her boys. “Will you protect them, make sure that they know right from wrong, to know what predators of our kind look like and how to avoid them? Will you treat me well and by example, teach them how to treat a partner? Will you bandage their hurts, correct their faults, and hold them when the world gets to be too much? Will you do all of that and more?”
Lee wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a hug. “I can do that. Thank you for trusting me with them.”
“Mom? Where are you?”
The call of her oldest son pulled Amanda out of her meditation and she carefully got out the lotus position. She wasn’t quite as bendy as she used to be and there was no quick or easy way to get out of it. “In the living room!”
“Mom!” the sounds of running feet headed her way and she shot a quick glance at Lee as she regained her feet. He was relaxed and sitting on the couch, enjoying the day’s newspaper. At the sound of her son’s voices, he peeked over the edge of the paper and met her eyes. The link between them was as relaxed as he was and Amanda nodded.
Her boys hit her together and their grip was as comfortable as ever. With her new awareness, she could get a read on their emotions far easier than she had ever done before. Both boys were relieved to be home, anxious to see her and very curious about the person behind her.
“Philip, Jamie, this is my Sentinel, Lee Stetson,” Amanda told her boys, carefully gathering both close to her.
“Is that why Grandma had us away from home? You finished coming online and got a Sentinel?” Jamie asked as he stared at Lee for several beats before turning back to her. Philip was being very quiet and that boded ill.
“Yes, and yes,” she told them both. “Lee and I bonded over the last two days and he’ll be moving in here.”
“Is he replacing dad?” Philip asked, eyes hard as they stared at her Sentinel.
“No,” Lee denied that right off. From the confused look on his face, Philip hadn’t been expecting that. “Your dad is your dad, Philip. And while I am your mom’s Sentinel, I can’t be your dad. He is always welcome here.”
“So, you are like me?” Philip asked. Amanda glanced at her eldest, eyes sharp as she took in the way he was standing, almost facing off with Lee as if he was the intruder.
Things were adding up in her head. It looked as if her supposition was correct. Philip was most likely going to be a Sentinel. And if he was this sensitive at nine… Amanda mentally crossed her fingers that he didn’t come online due to this.
Lee moved forward so he was kneeling on one knee in front of Philip. The move put him at eye level with her son and she watched as the boy relaxed slightly. “I’m a lot like you, Philip. Or more importantly, like what you will become. One day, you will come online and your spirit animal will show up and start to show you the wonders of the world.”
“And what is your spirit animal?” Philip asked. He had relaxed even further as Lee had talked to him, the elder Sentinel’s willingness to take him seriously helping settle the boy.
“My spirit animal is a wolf. His name is Tramp,” Lee told him. He held out one hand and his wolf appeared under it, eyes bright and ears cocked forward towards the boy his Sentinel was talking to.
“That is so cool!” Philip breathed out. “I’ll have a friend like him one day?”
Lee nodded as he ran a hand down the back of Tramp. “One day. Now they might not be exactly like Tramp here, but I expect that one day soon, you will have someone come to stay. And then you two will need to figure out a name you both like.”
The smile that crossed her eldest son’s face was blinding and Amanda relaxed. Things would be okay on that front. From her side came a small voice asking the one question she had hoped the boys wouldn’t cotton to. “If your wolf is Tramp, and mom’s cocker spaniel is Lady, does that mean that they can have puppies?”
Amanda clapped a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing. There was no suppressing her amusement as it flowed out of her, though. Lee wasn’t so lucky. Jamie’s question made him spin to face them and he fell on his ass from the force of the movement. “What?”
Jamie moved around her and waved his hands at Lee. “You know, puppies! They are a boy and a girl, so…”
It took a few deep breaths before Amanda could trust her voice and answer the question. “Our spirit animals can’t have puppies, Jamie,” she told him. At least she hoped not.
“Then can I have a sister?” her very precocious and very devious six-year-old son asked.
When Philip started nodding, she looked at Lee, feeling a bit helpless. “Not this week.”
Both boys pouted at that. “Well, shoot.”
“So, this is the main working area of the Agency here in D.C. Since there aren’t a lot of us, we’re able to supply everyone with a desk and or an office to call their own. I have an actual office, small though it is,” Lee told his Guide as he unlocked the door to his small office.
“Let me guess, you got it because you kept growling at people touching your stuff?” Amanda asked with an arched
“I didn’t react well, no,” Lee confirmed with a shrug. Like he cared? People touching his stuff pissed him off.
“We’ll work on that,” Amanda told him. She peeked into the office and hummed at what she saw. Lee had no idea what his Guide was making of what she was seeing in his office. The small room wasn’t decorated with anything more than his desk and a set of file cabinets. No paintings, no pictures, no decorations on the walls to break up the expanse of government-issue white walls. He hadn’t zoned, but that wasn’t really anything to boast about, given the barren acreage he normally sat in. But the bareness left plenty of room for another desk where his Guide would be able to work.
From the speculative looks Amanda was giving the place, he was certain it wouldn’t be plain for long. He just had to hope he could put some kind of restraint in place. He really hoped he could. Or that he could live with whatever Amanda came up with.
“Lee! It’s good to see you up and about,” Billy called from the door to his office. They both turned to look at the man who had attracted their attention.
Lee appreciated that his boss wasn’t trying to crowd close to facilitate the introduction. He honestly wasn’t sure how he would react to that. He looked at his boss after drawing his Guide’s attention towards the older man. “Amanda, I need to introduce you to my boss, Director William Melrose. He prefers Billy,” he murmured in her ear.
Amanda flashed a smile up at him before turning to look at his boss. She passed the smile onto the other man, open and friendly, and Billy smiled back at her. Lee thought he looked like he was trying to pass a kidney stone, but that
might be wishful thinking. His Guide waved at him and Lee could feel a pleased rumble move through his chest at that. “Hello, sir. We’re just checking Lee’s workspace to see if anything needs to be changed due to his bonded status.”
Billy stepped out of his office and leaned against his secretary’s desk. He kept a close eye on Lee and the sentinel could appreciate how careful his mundane boss was being. “What needs to be changed?”
Amanda waved a distracted hand at the office behind them. “The office itself is fine and so is the furniture, but I will be checking out all the office supplies, though, to make sure Lee can handle them.”
“That sounds good,” Billy allowed. “What’s the catch?”
“The catch, Director, is that my Sentinel’s iso room stinks of another Guide. And given that I am picking that up with a mostly mundane nose, it’s bad.” Amanda told his boss, bluntly. “The whole room’s contaminated. It needs to be stripped down to the bare walls and scrubbed with sentinel safe cleaning products. Only then we can start adding things from the S&G Canter back in, a piece at a time.”
“How did you get them to give stuff to redo Lee’s iso room?” Billy asked, voice sharp. “And how did anyone else get in there?”
Lee couldn’t blame Billy for asking about the S&C Center. In the months he had been stationed in D.C., the Center had stonewalled almost every request they had put in. To have the Center willingly help had to be freaking Billy out. Add in someone entering a restricted space to mess with it? Eh. He was glad he didn’t have his boss’s ulcers.
“Let’s just say they didn’t have a choice, and leave it at that,” Lee allowed with a sharp later look at his boss.
And hadn’t that been a bitch to confirm? He had been told many years before that he had the potential to be an Alpha Sentinel Prime when he finally bonded. But when he had felt his connection to his Guide bloom, he hadn’t been certain. Amanda’s spirit animal was a cocker spaniel and he had never heard of a Guide with a dog spirit animal bonded to a Sentinel of his abilities. His Guide had totally put that to rest.
Domestic canines had won the round for sheer understated power that could hide better than anyone could ever dream. And that meant that he and Amanda had another responsibility on their shoulders. It would need to be fit in around his job, their newly combined family, and each other. He had no idea how they would juggle it though.
“Okay,” Billy seemed mostly accepting, and Lee had a feeling his boss would be cashing in on his request for time sooner than he wanted. “But they are going to help you to refurnish your room. What about the rest of the Sentinels here?”
Lee looked down at Amanda and raised an eyebrow at her. The firm nod she gave confirmed it. “They’ll come through.”
“And the Guide who contaminated the room?” Billy asked carefully.
“That person will be dealt with,” Amanda promised. “What they did could have damaged a sentinel if they had arrived looking for help in a delicate state.”
“Like Lee was two days ago,” Billy surmised.
“Almost.” Amanda allowed. “But he wasn’t quite that badly off.”
“Shit,” Billy cursed.
Lee winced at that. Billy rarely if ever cursed. And when he did, things were bad.
Amanda touched his hand and nodded towards the back where the iso rooms were located. “I need to be back there when the techs come to start the stripping process and cleaning.”
“Don’t let anyone touch you, Guide,” Lee told her.
“I won’t,” she told him, eyes serious.
He watched her walk off and rubbed at the ache in his chest.
“You got lucky,” Billy told him seriously.
“I know,” Lee agreed.
“Now, tell me what you wouldn’t say in front of your Guide,” Billy directed.
“She knows all of this, Billy. I haven’t hidden anything from her,” Lee explained.
“And that explains the request to have her cleared to know everything you know.”
Lee nodded. “Exactly.”
Billy ran a hand over his head and nodded “Okay, start talking. Tell me about your Guide.”
Amanda was supervising the techs from the center when she felt another Guide step up to her. A careful sideways glance showed that it was the Guide who had picked up Lee’s mysterious package. She was also the one who had made an unholy mess of his is room. And had been the indirect cause of the rashes she had found after their first rush to bond. She had spent a great deal of time inspecting his skin, repairing the ragged quality of his shields, and working to assess the underlying depression she had found. The other Guide was also the reason for the deep clean happening before her.
“I don’t know why he latched onto you. Do you have any training in being an agent?” the other Guide asked.
Amanda listened to the tone of the other woman’s voice and her emotional tone as she took in her words. Raging jealousy, greed, and avarice. Fantastic.
“Nope!” Amanda let ‘p’ pop like she was chewing a wad of gum. The sound pulled a wince out of the other Guide and she made a note to use it as often as she could. “I was a housewife turned secretary and now I’m Lee’s Guide. And you are?”
“I was his Guide before you,” the other woman sneered. “And I at least, am trained in how to assist him in his field. I’m certain that you will be a great help to him in the future.”
“Mmmhmmm,” Amanda hummed. “Must be nice to be so certain.”
“What’s your spirit animal? A sloth? Maybe a rabbit?” the other woman asked.
“No, not hardly,” she answered with a laugh. “You must be Francine. I’m Amanda King.”
“He told you who I am?” Francine seemed happy to know that Lee had talked about her.
“Only because I wanted to know who had messed him up so badly,” Amanda admitted. She took a good look at the other Guide and nodded to herself. “Your spirit animal is a stoat, isn’t it? A vicious little brown weasel?”
Francine hissed at her and Amanda suppressed a snort of laughter at how much the other woman was losing it. Lee flashed a hint of curiosity down their link and she pushed reassurance back up it. She was aware that her Sentinel was listening to the whole exchange, but was willing to let her try to handle it.
“How did you know that?” Francine demanded; eyes narrowed as she tried to loom over Amanda.
“It’s amazing what you can find out at an S&G Center if you ask the right questions,” she answered, attention on one of the techs cleaning the iso room. For a moment it had looked as if there was going to be an accident and she was relieved when they had managed to avoid it.
“Isn’t it?” Francine agreed.
Amanda looked at the other Guide and raised an eyebrow at her. “I take it you did your research?”
“I did,” Francine admitted smugly. Her voice turned snide and full of innuendo. “Your spirit animal isn’t even useful. It’s a dog. I can’t see how you managed to snare Lee with such a weak spirit animal.”
“Weak huh?” Amanda looked at the Guide before her and unfolded her shields like her mother had taught her so long ago. Francine was flinching before she was halfway through and white with shock at the end. She let her stand there, bathed in her aura for almost a minute before she pulled it all back in.
“The thing most people forget about dogs” Amanda mussed. “Is that they are wolves, in slightly more civilized clothes. Don’t push me, Francine. You will live to regret it.”
Francine swallowed heavily and nodded. “You and Lee are the new Alpha Primes in charge of the Eastern Seaboard, aren’t you?”
The smile that crossed Amanda’s face felt slightly foreign, but she still let it out, with all the savage edges she normally hid showing for once. “Yes. We are. And you are going to leave Lee and I alone. Understood?”
Her cocker spaniel and Lee’s wolf appeared at her feet staring at the other Guide and they both growled. Francine lost the little color she had managed to gain and nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”
Amanda let her grin get bigger as she rested a hand on each of the spirit animals’ heads as she listened to the other woman hurry away. Lesson delivered and learned. Now, she had more important things to take care of and a list of chores to tick off. Watching paint dry for one. Or trying to talk her boys out of their quest for a sister. Maybe even how to get her mother to stop smirking at her.
Francine wasn’t on the list.