Title: Destiny's Bond

Author/pseudonym: Wolfling

Email address: wolfling@email.msn.com

Rating: NC-17

Pairings: Blair/Enqueri

Category: Alternate Universe, crossover with Stargate SG-1

Status: NEW, complete

Date: December 22,1998

Archive: Yes

Archive author: Wolfling

Archive email address: wolfling@email.msn.com

Other website: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Studio/3603/wolfling.html

Series/Sequel: first in an as yet unnamed series

Disclaimers: The Sentinel stuff belongs to PetFly, the Stargate stuff to Gekko. No money made, written purely for enjoyment, yadda, yadda, yadda

Notes: >whew< This one has been a long time in coming. When I started this story in early August I had no idea it was going to turn into the monster it has (complete with sequels already clamoring to be written). It has been a long but fulfilling journey and I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. This is one of my auction stories, bought by Virginia and the little girl in the story is named after Virg's daughter.

Thanks to the crowd on IRC -- Virg, Heidi, Aysah, Cen, Boyd, Maig, and any others I've forgotten -- who watched me write this and constantly pestered me for more. Your encouragement kept me focused. Thanks to PeeJ for sending me the Stargate tapes in the first place – bet you never expected them to lead to *this* did you? <g> Finally thanks to sa, Lianne, Virg and she-with-whom-I-share-a-brain, Maigret for betaing this monster so promptly. This is the longest thing I've written so far and I'd definitely appreciate feedback of any sort.

Summary: While on a routine mission with SG-14, Dr. Blair Sandburg encounters his destiny.

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Blair Sandburg was having an exceedingly bad day.

Being caught in the goa'uld attack had been bad enough. Watching them destroy the village and listening to the screams of injured and dying people -- people who had been happily teaching him of their ways and culture only hours before -- was infinitely worse.

And then the mad race back to the Stargate, shepherding along as many of the panicked people as he and the other team members could, and holding the gate and the surrounding clearing while they dialed home and began evacuating the people, well, it was not the way he would've chosen to spend his afternoon.

Then came the strafing run by the deathwings and one of the children waiting to go through the gate had panicked and ran off into the jungle. Without thinking about it, Blair had run after her, the shouted orders by Banks to stop and let her go quickly being left behind.

"A chance to experience long dead cultures, he said," Blair muttered to himself as he ran. "It's an anthropologist's dream, he said. Well this anthropologist never dreamed about having a bunch of aliens with a god complex trying to kill me. Or stick an alien worm in me or whatever it is they're trying to do here."

He dove to the ground as a stray shot from a Jaffa's spear hit near by. "Okay, that does it," he muttered, brushing foliage from his face and climbing back to his feet. "First order of business when I get back home is to kill Daniel for getting me into this."

************

Late June, a year and a half before

Blair Sandburg sat at his kitchen table in his tiny apartment in Cascade, Washington, going through the responses he'd received to his job applications from various universities.

He was surprised at how many were offers of employment; he knew he had a reputation as a good teacher but he hadn't expected this level of interest in him, not by a long shot. He had figured he'd get one, maybe two positive responses and he really wouldn't have to make a decision. Just go where he was wanted.

Now, with so many choices laid out before him, he found he didn't know what he wanted to do.

If he was honest with himself, he wasn't sure if he wanted to accept any of them. He liked teaching, he really did, but lately he'd begun to feel increasingly like there was something missing.

It wasn't a new feeling; truth be told, he'd been aware of it on some level his entire life. It had eased somewhat when he had discovered the Burton manuscript on Sentinels and had made that his thesis project but now that his dissertation was done it was back stronger than ever.

It was like there was something out there, something that he was supposed to be doing, if he could only figure out what it was.

A knock at the door interrupted Blair's thoughts. He went over and opened it. And froze.

It couldn't be...

The person standing there was of slight build a few inches taller than Blair with sandy brown hair and intelligent blue eyes that looked out from behind a pair of glasses. He looked perfectly ordinary. Perfectly ordinary, that is, until you added the fact that he was supposed to be a ghost.

"Daniel?" Blair asked hesitantly.

The man nodded and gave him a shy smile. "Hi Blair."

"Oh man..." Blair stepped forward and hugged his friend. "I heard you were dead!"

"I was," Daniel replied. "I... uh, got better." At Blair's puzzled look he stated, "It's complicated. I'll tell you all about it but it's going to take some time. Can I come in?"

"Huh? Oh sure, man." Blushing Blair stepped back and let the other man enter, then closed the door behind him. "Can I get you some coffee?"

"Coffee would be good."

Blair nodded and went to the kitchen counter to pour some while Daniel sat down at the table. He brought two mugs over and handed one to his friend. Daniel took it with a muttered thanks and looked down again at the papers that were spread out all over the table.

"Looks like you're quite in demand," he said, gesturing with his free hand while he took a sip.

Blair shrugged as he took a drink from his own mug. "Not sure which one I'm going to accept though. None of them really grab me, y'know?"

"I may be able to offer you another option, if you're interested," Daniel ventured.

"Another option? Like what?"

"It's... complicated," Daniel repeated, with a half-smile. "But what if I told you that I could offer you an anthropologist's dream? A chance to explore living and growing cultures that have been long thought dead. What would you say?"

"I'd say 'Where do I sign up?'" Blair paused for a moment as his common sense kicked in. "Actually I'd ask how that was possible."

"Now that's where the complicated part comes in." Daniel looked up and met Blair's eyes, his expression serious. "This is going to sound pretty out there but I need you to keep an open mind. And whether you believe me or not I need you to promise that you won't repeat anything I'm about to tell you."

Blair was getting more and more curious. "Sure man, I promise."

Daniel was silent for a moment, staring down at his coffee as if gathering his thoughts. "You remember my theory about the pyramids not being built by the pharaohs?" he asked finally.

"You thought they had to be a lot older," Blair replied, letting his puzzlement show. He wasn't sure what this could possibly have to do with Daniel's offer. "I always thought it made a lot of sense but there weren't any clues to who did build them if the pharaohs didn't."

"I have more than clues. I have hard evidence. I know who built the pyramids."

"Who?"

"The ancient Egyptian gods," Daniel replied, glancing up at Blair. "Ra, to be specific. Only they weren't gods. They were aliens."

"Aliens," Blair repeated slowly, as if making sure of the word.

"Aliens," Daniel confirmed. "They're called the goa'uld. But I'm getting ahead of myself," he muttered, shaking his head. "In 1928 a strange circular object was found in the Egyptian desert. It was made of a metal that couldn't be identified and had markings on it that nobody could translate. It was capped with a coverstone, which had a message in hieroglyphics and seven more of those symbols in a cartouche. The message read 'A million years into the sky is Ra, sun god. Sealed and buried for all time is his Stargate.'

The reverence in Daniel's voice as he recited the inscription faded as he continued. "The Stargate was confiscated by the military who spent the next few decades trying to get it to work. Then, in 1992 I was approached to work on translating the symbols."

Blair's eyes widened. "You were working for the military?" he asked, more shocked by that than by the assertion that aliens built the pyramids.

"They're not as bad as you might think." Daniel paused for a moment. "Okay, some of them are, but for the most part not the ones that I'm working with."

"If you say so, man." Blair didn't miss the use of the present tense in Daniel's last statement but restrained his curiosity on that point for the moment. "So you were hired to translate the symbols. Did you? What did they say?"

"They didn't really say anything. They were a map, representations of constellations, a way of describing fixed points in space. Any fixed point has an address of six symbols; the seventh symbol represents the departure point." Daniel paused in his recitation and met Blair's gaze. "This is where it starts getting hard to believe."

'You mean what you've told me so far isn't?' Blair thought but didn't say out loud, maintaining his silence as Daniel continued.

"They programmed the seven symbols of the cartouche into the Stargate and it opened a doorway to another planet."

"A doorway," Blair echoed in the same tone he had used for 'aliens'.

"Well actually it creates a totally stable artificial wormhole but it acts like a doorway. Look, I can give you all the scientific explanations for why it works or as much as they've been able to figure out anyway, but it's simpler to just refer to it as a door. You step into the Stargate here on Earth, you step out on another planet millions of light-years away."

"Okay, it's a doorway," Blair said, trying to remember his promise to keep an open mind. "Did you get to go through it?"

"Oh yes," came the reply. "They needed someone to figure out how to activate the gate on the other side and that was me." Memories shone in Daniel's eyes and he fell silent.

"So what happened?" Blair finally blurted out totally caught up in the story. "What did you find on the other side?"

"The planet Abydos." Daniel's lips curved up into a fond smile. "There are people there -- humans I mean. Their ancestors had been brought there from Earth. They spoke a form of ancient Egyptian, and in many ways their culture was very much unchanged from that of their ancestors. It was an incredible find, anthropologically speaking.

"But they weren't the only inhabitants of Abydos. They were subjugated by this alien calling himself Ra. He was a goa'uld, a parasitic creature that looks sort of like an eel, only much more nasty, and he had taken over the body of a young human boy. He had brought the humans to Abydos to serve him, to be his slaves. He had ruled in ancient Egypt as well, until the people there had rebelled and buried the Stargate.

"To make a long story short, when Ra found us, he tried to send a nuclear bomb through the Stargate back to Earth; we stopped him, blew up his ship and him with it instead. I stayed behind when the others went back to Earth."

"To study the Abydos culture?" Blair asked, forgetting for a moment that he wasn't sure he believed his friend's story.

"Partially," Daniel admitted. "But there was also this woman... Sha'uri." He smiled. "She was beautiful, smart, spirited.. and I... uhh...had... kinda accidentally married her."

Blair's eyebrows shot up. "You *accidentally* got married."

"It was before I figured out what language they were speaking -- they thought I was a god and gave her to me as a gift and I couldn't reject her and -- what are you laughing at?"

"You," Blair said between chuckles, shaking his head. "Only you would end up accidentally married."

"Well it was the best accident of my life," Daniel replied with a wistful smile. "Sha'uri was very special. I loved her very much."

"Was?" Blair asked softly, his heart going out to his friend at the sadness he saw in his eyes. "Did she die?"

"Not exactly." He took a deep breath and then explained. "Ten months ago another goa'uld came through the Abydos Stargate with a small assault force. They attacked and killed or injured most of the people guarding the gate and... took… Sha'uri.

"There was a recon team from Earth on Abydos at the time -- the goa'uld had attacked through the Earth Stargate a few days before -- so I came back to Earth with them. I figured I had a better chance at figuring out where they had taken Sha'uri and getting her back from here than I did on Abydos.

"We got lucky. One of the soldiers who had been at the Gate when the goa'uld attacked had seen all seven symbols that they had used. So we were able to go after them.

"We found where they'd taken Sha'uri but we were too late. The goa'uld had used her as a host body. She'd been taken over by the goa'uld queen." A humorless half-smile touched Daniel's lips. "When I found her she tried to kill me."

"Jesus..." Blair breathed.

"We managed to rescue most of the people the goa'uld had captured as potential hosts when one of Apophis -- he was the head goa'uld -- one of Apophis' guards switched sides and helped us escape. But by then Sha'uri was gone. I haven't seen her since."

Blair reached out and touched his friend's arm. "Daniel I - I -" 'I don't know what to say,' he thought ruefully to himself.

Daniel gave him a sad smile. "I haven't completely given up all hope yet. She's still out there somewhere. One day we'll find her and figure out how to get that *thing* out of her."

Blair just nodded; there was nothing to say to that. Casting around for something to break the silence with, he went back to their original subject. "You were telling me about this 'dream opportunity.' I think we wandered a bit off-topic."

His friend seemed to shake himself and refocused on the conversation. "Actually, we didn't. Everything I just told you led to the establishment of the Stargate Program. Abydos wasn't the only planet the goa'uld seeded with humans. We send teams through the Stargate to make contact with and explore these transplanted people's cultures, as well as search for technology that the Earth can benefit from and that can help us against the Goa'uld. The program's been successful enough that they're expanding the number of teams." He looked at Blair. "That's where you come in.

"Every team has to have an anthropologist as a member, someone who knows how to deal with and interpret strange cultures. A detailed knowledge of ancient Earth cultures and languages is also pretty necessary. The military just doesn't have a lot of people who fit those criteria so they've been forced to search for civilian specialists. Like me." Daniel grinned. "And you."

Blair blinked. "You want me to work for the military?"

Daniel's smile widened at Blair's aghast tone. "I told you they're really not as bad as you might think. Look, why don't I take you to the base and show you around? You'll be able to verify that I'm not crazy or delusional, and you can meet some of the people you'd be working with and judge for yourself before you make your final decision."

"And if I decide to turn the job down after that?" Blair asked. "I mean after you've shown me all this top secret stuff are they just going to let me walk out?"

"They'll wipe the memories from your mind first, using the latest brainwashing techniques," Daniel said in a perfectly even tone. At Blair's wide-eyed look though, he relented. "I'm kidding. Of course they're going to let you walk out. You'll probably be required to sign a paper stating you won't tell anyone what you've seen but that's all.

"So what do you say? You interested?"

Blair thought about it. He really didn't like the idea of working for the military but if what Daniel was saying was true -- and it certainly sounded like at least he believed it to be -- there was no way he could pass this up. "Okay," he said finally. "I'll come and look. But no promises."

"Great!" Daniel replied enthusiastically. "If you let me use your phone I'll make the travel arrangements while you pack."

"Help yourself." Blair headed into his bedroom to throw some clothes into his backpack. "But remember," he called out over his shoulder. "If I end up mind-wiped in some military facility, it'll be on your head!"

************

The Present

'Well I didn't end up mind-wiped but having my brains fried by an alien weapon isn't exactly much of an improvement,' Blair thought as he dodged another blast from a Jaffa spear.

He ran deeper into the jungle, forsaking stealth for speed, head in constant motion as he tried to look in every direction at once, trying to spot both any attacking Jaffa and the young girl he was chasing.

A flash of movement off to one side caught his eye; he slowed and began moving a bit more cautiously in that direction. He wanted to call out reassurances if it was the child, but if it was a Jaffa that would only give away his exact position and probably get him killed.

Blair crept a bit closer and heard muffled crying. He breathed a sigh of relief -- he'd found the girl. Looking around and seeing no one else he decided to risk a soft call.

The little girl stiffened and spun around to face him at the sound of his voice. She stood there frozen, staring at him, and for a moment Blair thought she was going to run again. He called out another soft reassurance in her language, trying to look as non-threatening as possible.

It seemed to do the trick; she took a couple of tentative steps in his direction. He held out his hand with an encouraging smile and she ran the rest of the way to him, hugging him tightly as she hid her face against his stomach.

Blair hugged her back for a moment, briefly stroking her thick black hair soothingly, then gently pushed her away, careful to keep hold of one of her hands. //We have to go now,// he told her seriously. //Before the bad men come.// They had already stayed still too long; Blair felt like there were a hundred eyes on them and fifty Jaffa spears.

The little girl stared up at him wide-eyed, teeth worrying at her lower lip as she considered his words. Finally she nodded and Blair was able to start retracing their steps, using his homing beacon to make sure they were going in the right direction.

A snap of a twig was all the warning Blair got. He spun and dove forward, cradling the child against his chest as he tried to roll beneath the spear the Jaffa was swinging at him.

The Jaffa however was not giving up. He continued forward, swinging his spear, which Blair continued to frantically dodge, the terrified child held close against him.

The fact that the Jaffa was not trying to kill them, only capture them, was not lost on the anthropologist and it terrified him as much as it did the girl. He knew what goa'uld used captured humans for.

'There is no way I'm going to become a mobile home to an alien eel with an attitude,' he vowed to himself as he dodged yet another spear swing.

With that thought in mind he pulled out and fired his gun, all in one smooth swift motion. The Jaffa was dead before he hit the ground; Blair's shot having hit him in the heart.

He stared at the body for a moment, before the reaction set in. Shivering slightly he holstered his weapon and gathered the sobbing child into his arms again.

'All right,' he allowed, breathing a shaky sigh of relief. 'Maybe the mandatory firearms training wasn't a *total* waste of time.'

************

Mid-July, a year and a half ago

"You have *got* to be kidding me."

Blair looked up from the copy of his training schedule at his friend Daniel, who sat across the table from him. They were sitting in the base's mess hall, relaxing over coffee. "I thought you said I wouldn't have to join the military to take this job."

"You don't," Daniel replied. "Your title is the same as mine: civilian advisor."

"Then do you want to explain to me why, if I'm not joining the military, they're putting me through boot camp?" Blair asked, gesturing at the schedule.

A faint smile touched Daniel's lips as he answered. "It's not boot camp. It's basic orien-"

"-orientation for new personnel assigned to the Stargate project. Yeah, I read the memo. But a rose by any other name..."

Daniel's smile widened and he laid a hand on his friend's shoulder. "It's really not that bad, Blair. I was allowed some input into the course's design. It's all things you're going to need to know when you step through the gate."

"Okay, I can understand the courses on goa'uld history and technology and, from what you've told me, the 'what to do when someone asks if you are a god' protocols are pretty necessary as well. I can even understand the hand-to-hand combat bit but mandatory firearms training? I am *so* not into guns."

The smile disappeared off of Daniel's face and his expression turned serious. "Like it or not Blair, you're going to meet things and people out there that you aren't going to be able to talk out of trying to kill you, or worse. Sometimes the guns are necessary."

Blair could hear the ring of truth in Daniel's words but wasn't ready to let go of this quite yet. "I understand it's not going to be all sweetness and light but if it comes down to bullets isn't that what the soldiers on the team are for? Why can't I just stick to advising on cultures and languages and leave the shooting to them?"

"Because sometime you may find yourself in a kill or be killed situation and there won't be any soldiers around. I know it's happened to me more than once. And there are probably going to be times when your team will need to shoot its way out and then every person that can fire a gun is important if you're all going to get out alive. I've been dead once or twice. Take it from me Blair, alive is much better."

Blair was silent for a moment. Much as he wanted to continue arguing the point he couldn't think of any comeback other than 'Yeah, but- 'and that just wasn't going to cut it.

'Face it Sandburg,' he told himself, 'Daniel knows what he's talking about and you don't. He has the experience, you don't. Which more than likely means he's right and you're not. So what are you going to do about it?'

Two choices. He could stick to his guns, so to speak, refuse the firearms training and probably get tossed out of the program. Or he could stay and accept that this is a skill he needed to learn and had to be prepared to maybe use someday. No choice there. This wasn't an opportunity he was ready to give up lightly.

"All right," he said, with a loud sigh. "I'll take the gun training. But I won't like it."

Firearms training aside, Blair found the rest of the orientation program fascinating. He quickly assimilated all that they were taught about goa'uld culture and technologies and even, by the course's end, was beginning to edge towards fluency in their language, having begged Daniel and Teal'c for extra instruction.

Meeting Teal'c had been incredible; here was a real live alien willing and able to answer all the questions about his culture and people that Blair cared to ask.

Though perhaps the Jaffa hadn't planned on Blair having quite so many questions; he had answered patiently for the first hour but somewhere into the second his eyes had started to get that glazed look that Blair had long ago identified as "Sandburg overload."

Blair had politely backed off, not wanting to alienate -- no pun intended -- the man, telling himself that he would be able to find out the answers to most of his questions through reading the intelligence reports anyway, even if it wasn't the same thing as getting it straight from the horse's mouth, as it were.

He had been pleasantly surprised then, when two days later, Teal'c had sought him out and offered to continue their discussion.

It was Blair's enthusiasm, he later learned, that had been the start of earning the Jaffa's friendship. Most new recruits to the Stargate program, having been briefed on what exactly a Jaffa was, reacted upon meeting Teal'c with either fear or hatred, or, at best, wary caution. Blair's cheerful barrage of questions had been a refreshing change.

Not that there weren't some things that creeped Blair out. After reading all the reports on the goa'uld and seeing the video recorded of a soldier who had been taken over by a goa'uld larva, Blair had not been able to stop himself from jumping back when he had at last seen one in the flesh.

The fact that said goa'uld was sticking its blunt ugly head out of the slit in Teal'c's stomach did nothing to lessen the anthropologist's reaction.

The whole symbiotic relationship between the Jaffa and the goa'uld -- the Jaffa carrying the goa'uld larva in a special 'womb' until it was ready to implant a host and the goa'uld larva acting as the Jaffa's immune system, protecting them from disease and healing all but fatal wounds -- and how it affected their culture should have proven fascinating to Blair.

Instead it just creeped him out. Nightmares of having one of those things taking over his body had awakened Blair from more than one night's sleep in a cold sweat. He was beginning to see Daniel's point. If he had to shoot a gun to keep that from happening to another person, he knew that he would.

************

The Present

Blair picked the girl up and gingerly edged his way around the fallen Jaffa's body. He eyed it suspiciously, not being able to totally relax even though he was sure he had killed it.

'So, I'm paranoid,' he thought. 'I'm still not turning my back until we're out of this clearing.'

Once there was a line of trees between him and the body Blair turned and ran; cradling against his chest the little girl who was holding onto him tightly and burying her face in his neck. He continued on at full speed, dashing between trees and over vines, until his adrenaline high started to fade.

Slowing finally, he let the child slide down his body to stand on her own, and leaned against a tree, panting for breath. 'Well if they ever combine shooting and the 200 meter dash as an Olympic sport, I'm a shoo-in for the gold,' he quipped to himself. 'I always thought it was supposed to be fight OR flight. Trust me to do both. Always was an overachiever.'

Shaking his head and ruthlessly suppressing the last of his panicked response, Blair began to think and plan again. He had to get himself and the child back to the gate and pronto, preferably while avoiding any other close encounters.

He checked his homing beacon and groaned; when he had done his jackrabbit imitation, he had chosen the direction *away* from the Stargate. He was now even further from his goal than he had been when he'd found the girl.

He was actually glad that none of his teammates were there to see this; he was teased enough about his sense of direction, or lack thereof. 'They already pester me about carrying the homing beacon. If they find out about this, Banks is liable to put me on a leash!'

Well, the only thing to do was to start heading back to the Stargate, now that he did know which was the right direction and hope that his little detour hadn't used up time he didn't have.

//Let's go,// he said gently to the girl who had slumped to the ground and was hiding her face against her pulled up knees.

She peered up at him anxiously. He gave her a reassuring smile and held out his hand. After a second's hesitation she climbed to her feet and took it. As they started walking through the jungle, in the right direction this time, Blair murmured in English, "Don't worry. I'll get us out of this. I promise."

They had almost made it back to the Stargate clearing when it happened.

A sudden commotion off to the side was followed almost immediately by a spear blast that passed inches above Blair's head. He immediately dove to the ground, pulling the child down as well.

He started easing towards better cover, but a second spear blast made him freeze where he was. Pulling out his gun he aimed in the direction of the blasts and prayed that a target would present itself before either he or the girl was hit.

The commotion in the bushes got louder, but there was no further spearblasts and Blair continued to wait tensely. Suddenly all noise and movement ceased and an eerie silence descended.

Just as Blair thought he would scream if it continued a second longer, the bushes parted and a figure stepped out into the open.

Calm blue eyes surveyed the prone figures of anthropologist and child. //You can get up now,// a voice full of amusement informed them.

Blair felt his body go limp in relief, and for a brief second he allowed himself to just lie there trying to get his heartrate back under control.

//Enqueri!// the little girl cried out, jumping to her feet and running to the newcomer.

He gently hugged her then looked down at her sternly. //You shouldn't have run off like that,// he chided.

//She was scared,// Blair pulled himself into a sitting position then climbed to his feet. //She ran. It happens,// he said, thinking of his own mad dash.

//She knows better,// Enqueri countered, his gaze raking over Blair. //So should you. Your leader is not happy.//

"Yeah, so what else is new?" Blair muttered in English. At Enqueri's puzzled look he shook his head. //Not important,// he said, jumping slightly as he heard a distant energy blast. //Look can we get out of here now? You can scold me later.//

Enqueri looked at him, opened his mouth to reply, then closed it. Instead he turned and let out a birdcall. He tilted his head in a listening pose and was silent for a moment more. Then with a slight smile he said, //Incacha comes. We will leave when he gets here.//

Despite the danger of their situation Blair could not restrain himself at this display. //You can hear him? How far away is he? Does the noise of the battle get in the way? Just how far away can you pick out a sound with your hearing? Is that the-//

A hand covering his mouth cut off Blair's stream of questions. //Do you ever cease speaking?// Enqueri asked, amazement in his voice. //This is not the time for questions Blair Sandburg.//

Reining his enthusiasm back in, Blair sighed and nodded. //You're right, it's not. I'll wait until we are safe -- *then* I'll ask.//

Enqueri's lips curved upward almost unwillingly. //Why do you find me so interesting? I am no different than any other Sentinel.//

//That's just it. You're a *Sentinel*. I've studied Sentinels for years but I never thought I would meet one. You're a dream come true, Enqueri!//

The Sentinel looked at Blair then shook his head in puzzlement. //You must have very strange dreams then.//

'Yeah, well you're not alone in that assessment, Enqueri, my friend. My whole team thinks I'm a little out there about this Sentinel thing. Man, I'll never forget the look on their faces when they realized that *you* were a Sentinel and I had been right about their existence all along.' He grinned at the memory.

************

Six Days Ago

Juggling and fumbling with his gear, Blair ran for the gate room. SG-14 was scheduled to debark on their latest mission at fourteen hundred; it was now five minutes past that. He'd been so caught up reading the article on the recently discovered Temple of the Sentinels that he'd lost all track of time. Now he was late. And if there was one thing the military mind was anal about it was punctuality.

Sure enough, as he reached the gate room entrance he could hear the team leader yelling, "Where the *hell* is Sandburg?!"

"I'm here!" Blair called out in reply, skidding to a halt by the rest of his team. "Sorry I'm late, Simon --Captain Banks -- sir." He half-heartedly tried to salute but gave it up as a lost cause when Banks continued to glare at him.

"Sandburg, just what part of 'We leave at fourteen hundred sharp' didn't you understand?"

"Sorry, sir," Blair repeated, as he tried to settle his pack and other gear which had become a bit tangled in his mad dash for the gate room. "A friend sent me an article about this real big archeological find and I sorta got caught up in reading it. Won't happen again, I promise."

"It better not!" Banks shot back. Turning his head, he waved to the control room. The Stargate started turning as coordinates were programmed in, causing little tremors that vibrated the floor beneath their feet, tremors that would only get worse the closer the gate was to being opened.

"So Sandburg," Sergeant Rafe began casually, nudging the anthropologist, "this archeological find you were reading about. It wouldn't have anything to do with... oh... say... Sentinels, would it?"

"As a matter of fact it did," Blair replied with as much dignity as he could muster. "What's thought to be the long lost Temple of the Sentinels was just discovered in the Yucatan."

"So did they find any long lost Sentinels at this long lost temple of yours?" Rafe asked, unable to keep a straight face.

"Ha ha, very funny," Blair shot back. "You know, for someone who makes his living doing something most of the population would consider science fiction you're really not very open to extreme possibilities."

Rafe was obliged to raise his voice to answer as the noise of the gate's activation began to peak. "This isn't the X-Files, Hairboy!" he yelled just as the last coordinate was programmed in and with a large >whoosh< and energy wave the Stargate opened.

"Okay people," Banks called. "Let's move out!"

As they moved up the ramp towards the gate, the last member of the team, Lieutenant Connor, leaned over and spoke softly to Blair. "Don't let him get to you, Sandy. He doesn't mean anything by it."

"I know, Megan," Blair ran a hand through his hair with a sigh. "It's just I get a little tired of having what was my life's work -- until I joined this program -- ridiculed all the time." A wicked thought occurred to him and he grinned mischievously. "You know I really hope one day we run into a Sentinel, just so I can see Rafe's face."

"If it ever happens I'll make sure I get a picture for you," Megan promised with a wink. Then she turned and walked through the Stargate.

Taking a deep breath Blair followed.

Travelling through the Stargate was an experience that defied description. When Blair tried to find the words to describe it the closest he could come up with was that it was like riding the world's largest and scariest roller coaster. Blindfolded. Naked. In a blizzard.

Over the year he had been using the gate, Blair had gotten somewhat used to it, as much as anybody could anyway. But it was still an extremely disorienting experience and one he never underwent on a full stomach if he could help it.

The other thing about travelling through the Stargate that one had to adjust to was the sudden change in forward motion that happened when one emerged from the gate. It took a certain amount of finesse to remain on your feet when you've just been hurtled umpteen number of light years through an artificial wormhole. But this was a skill that Blair had finally mastered; he still stumbled a little when he emerged from the gate, but he almost always remained standing.

As he did this time, staggering forward a few steps once he was clear of the gate before regaining his balance.

Blair looked around the clearing where the Stargate was located. P8-935, as the planet had been designated, was a jungle planet, or at least it was surrounding the Stargate. The weather was hot and steamy and reminded Blair of the time he had spent in South America on various field studies and trips while he was getting his degree.

"Sandburg!"

Blair looked around and saw Banks standing by a raised stone. "You bellowed, Simon?" he asked as he headed over to join the Captain.

That earned him a low-level glare but otherwise was ignored. "What do you make of this?"

The stone was covered in carved symbols. Blair frowned, putting on his glasses and leaning forward to get a better look.

"Looks like Mayan," he said, running his fingers over the symbols. "But not quite. It looks like it may have evolved from what was used on Earth."

"Can you read it?" Banks asked.

"I think so... Give me a moment here." Blair frowned as he tried to translate the almost familiar symbols.

"This is the gate of gods and demons," he read haltingly. "Through it comes wonders and horrors."

"So they knew about the gate," Megan said.

"Whoever 'they' are," Rafe added.

"Wait there's more," Blair said, forehead crinkling in concentration. "The tribe will be protected, while --" He stopped.

That couldn't say what he thought it said. Could it?

"While?" Banks prompted. "The tribe will be protected while what Sandburg?"

Blair looked up, eyes shining with wonder. "The tribe will be protected while the Sentinel stands guard."

"What?" Rafe asked. "You've got to be kidding Sandburg. You've got Sentinels on the brain."

"Maybe I do but that doesn't change what it says." He felt a giddy excitement rising. They may have just found a potential new source of information on Sentinels.

"We've got to find the people who carved this," he said, heading towards their supplies with boundless energy.

"Whoa Sandburg, slow down," Banks ordered, hands raised in a calming motion. "That stone could've been carved years ago -- centuries ago. We don't even know if there's people still in this area."

"There have to be," Blair insisted. "Somebody's got to keep this area clear. If nobody was tending it the jungle would start to reclaim it within weeks."

Megan chimed in. "He's right Captain. This place does have the feel of being looked after."

"That doesn't mean that whoever's tending it is a Sentinel or knows anything about them," Rafe pointed out.

"True," Blair agreed affably. "We won't know that until we find them and ask them. So let's go already!"

Megan suddenly froze staring out into the jungle. "I think we just found them. Or they found us."

The rest of the team followed her gaze. From out of the jungle two men appeared, wearing clothes and paint that made them practically invisible among the foliage. The smaller of the two was only an inch or so taller than Blair, with thick black hair slightly longer than Blair's shoulder length cut. Two braids in the front held it back off his face. The dark brown eyes that regarded them were alive with intelligence and curiosity.

His companion was much taller and much more intimidating. He was an inch or two over six feet and his chest, bare except for the paint, showed off an extremely well developed musculature. His hair was hidden underneath a bandana made out of the same material as his pants and his surprisingly blue eyes were wary and assessing. The crossbow he held pointed at them did not waver at all.

After a moment of mutual staring Captain Banks nudged his anthropologist. "I believe this is your cue, Sandburg."

"Right," Blair replied. He took several steps forward, eyes never leaving the weapon pointed at them, his hands raised and outstretched to show he meant no harm.

"Uhh hi," he began, trying English first.

There was no reaction from the two strangers.

"Don't speak English huh? Great. I don't suppose you'd like to say something so I can figure out what language you do speak, would you?"

More silence.

"Not the talkative type are you? Well you're certainly not making my job any easier. I suppose I could just try every language I know and see if you understand any of them but that could take a while and it might start annoying you which is the last thing I want to do as long as you're holding that crossbow on me..."

//Who are you?// the taller of the two men asked.

Blair breathed a sigh of relief as he recognized the words. A form of Quechua, undoubtedly slightly different than the Earth variations he knew but not so much that he couldn't understand. //I am Blair Sandburg,// he began pointing at himself. "This is Captain Banks, Sergeant Rafe and Lieutenant Conner." He pointed at each of his teammates in turn. //We uhh...// he paused, debating what to tell them and finally settled on the truth. //We came through the Stargate.//

The smaller of the two men looked interested at that, but again it was the other who spoke. //This is Chopec land. Your kind is not welcome here.//

//Our kind?// Blair repeated, warily eyeing the crossbow that was now pointed directly at his chest.

//False gods.// As Blair watched a muscle in the man's jaw began to twitch. //The Chopec will not serve or worship you. Leave now or I will be forced to kill you.//

//No, you've got it all wrong!// Blair frantically said, words practically tripping over each other as he tried not to think about what an arrow from that crossbow would do to his chest. //We're not goa'uld -- the false gods. We're human like you. We are explorers. We just want to learn about you and your people.//

"Goa'uld?" the shorter of the two men repeated, speaking for the first time.

Blair nodded. //Goa'uld. That is what the false gods call themselves. They are our enemies too.//

//You have fought these Goa'uld?// This again from the crossbow wielder.

//Yes. Well not me personally -- I am a scholar, not a warrior -- but my people have.//

The shorter of the two men moved forward then, stopping when he was directly in front of Blair. He gave the anthropologist such a piercing look that Blair felt like his very soul was being weighed and measured.

Finally the man spoke. //You are much more than just a scholar, Blair Sandburg, much more than a warrior as well. You will find what you are looking for if it is your destiny.// He smiled. //I believe it is. I am Incacha.// Gesturing to his companion who lowered his crossbow slowly he continued. //That is Enqueri. We bid you welcome.//

Blair let out a sigh of relief and returned Incacha's smile. //Thank you.//

"You feel like letting the rest of us in on what's going on Sandburg?"

"Sorry Simon," Blair apologized and even managed to sound sincere. "Things were just a bit hairy for a second or two there. But I think I've got everything straightened out."

"And?" Banks prodded.

"This is Incacha and Enqueri of the Chopec. At first they thought we were Goa'uld -- what they call false gods -- and were going to kill us if we didn't leave." Blair ignored the alarmed looks that brought to his teammates' faces. "But I straightened everything out and now they're welcoming us."

Banks stared at the anthropologist for a long moment without speaking. Finally he shook his head and said, "Sandburg, it never ceases to amaze me how many people want to kill you on sight and how fast you can talk them out of it."

"Yeah, Hairboy," Rafe chimed in. "You would've made a fortune selling used cars. Or writing political speeches."

"Sandy's just got a natural charm," Megan stated with a smile.

"It's amazing how charming I can get when somebody is pointing a loaded weapon at me," Blair replied in kind. "Saving my life is great incentive to talk fast."

"And you've had *lots* of practice," Rafe teased, grinning.

"Since I've been travelling with you I have," Blair shot back.

He looked back at Incacha and Enqueri who were both standing quietly observing the team's interaction. "And speaking of incentives," he began, "I'm going to see what they know about that marker."

"Yeah," Rafe said. "Maybe they can introduce you to a Sentinel."

"I'll ask them," Blair answered seriously. He turned back to the two natives. //The writing on that stone over there...// he began, gesturing at the marker.

//It tells of the gate,// Incacha said. //A warning about what may come through it.//

//Wonders and horrors,// Blair quoted.

Incacha nodded enthusiastically. //Yes!// he replied. //But if you can read it then what is your question?//

//It's actually the rest of the saying that I am interested in. The part about the tribe being protected as long as--//

//--the Sentinel stands guard,// Incacha finished. //It is clear, is it not?//

//So it's true?// Blair could feel himself practically vibrating with excitement.

//It is true.// Incacha's face clearly showed his puzzlement. //What is it that you want to know Blair Sandburg?//

//Your people have Sentinels?// Blair held his breath as he waited for the answer.

Incacha looked even more mystified. //Of course,// he answered. //Enqueri is the tribe's Sentinel. That is why we patrol this area.//

Blair stared at the tall man with the crossbow, openmouthed. //You're a Sentinel?//

//Yes,// Enqueri replied.

//Protector of the tribe, enhanced senses, all that?//

//That is what a Sentinel is,// Enqueri replied.

"Oh man..." Blair could feel the grin start at his toes. "Oh man, I don't believe it! This is just too... oh man!" He bounced in place a few times staring at Enqueri. If it weren't for the crossbow he would've hugged him. Here was the embodiment of his life's work, the proof that he had not been chasing fairy tales!

"You don't believe what Sandburg? What did they say?"

Tearing his eyes off the Sentinel --the *Sentinel*!-- Blair turned to his Captain. "The Chopec know all about the existence of Sentinels. In fact Enqueri here *is* a Sentinel!" He beamed at the team, his excitement and happiness overflowing.

"You've got to be kidding!" Rafe choked. Blair shook his head, grinning. "He's really a Sentinel? Super senses and everything?" Blair nodded, still grinning.

"Rafe look over here!" Megan called. When the man complied she snapped his picture, capturing his stunned expression for the ages. Winking at Blair she said, "Just like I promised, Sandy."

.

************

The Present

'That was the perfect accent to one of the most important moments of my life,' Blair thought with a fond chuckle. 'You'd think, the way Rafe reacted, that the picture was blackmail material.'

The sergeant, when he had realized what Megan had done, had made a grab for her camera. Megan had laughed while she held it out of his reach until Banks had yelled at them both to settle down. All the while the two Chopec had watched this interaction with bemused puzzlement.

Much like the look Enqueri was giving Blair right now. The man just could not comprehend the anthropologist's endless fascination and enthusiasm for all things Sentinel, didn't understand just what meeting and being able to observe Enqueri meant to him.

Nearby foliage rustled and Blair stiffened, bringing his gun up, only to lower it again when Incacha appeared. Enqueri, he noticed, had not been startled at all.

'Of course not,' Blair thought, as he watched the Sentinel nod in greeting. 'He's probably been tracking the man by hearing since he called him. What I wouldn't give to be able to get him into a lab and run some tests!'

Incacha returned Enqueri's nod of acknowledgement then turned his attention to the child, who, like Blair, had been startled by his appearance. He got down on one knee so he could look the girl in the eye and smiled at her reassuringly. //You got yourself in a mess didn't you Nanna?// he asked her, speaking in an affectionate, teasing tone. //Come. Your mother is worried about you. We'll take you to her. Okay?//

Nanna nodded and ran to Incacha, who enfolded her in a tight hug. Looking up at Blair he said, //Thank you for finding our lost one.//

Blair shrugged, a little embarrassed. //When I saw her run off, I just reacted. I didn't think. You would've found her anyway.//

//Perhaps,// Incacha conceded, //but that does not take away from what you did.//

Blair wasn't able to find a fault in that logic. //I guess not,// he said. //You're welcome.//

He found himself smiling at the man. While Enqueri had seemed perplexed by Blair's intense interest in all things Sentinel, Incacha had seemed to understand instinctively just how much it all meant to the anthropologist.

When Enqueri had grown tired of answering Blair's endless questions it was Incacha who had responded, answering as thoroughly as he could, the glint of humor never leaving his eyes. The one time Blair had asked him about his patience with the questioning Incacha had rather cryptically answered that he would help in any way he could to prepare Blair for his destiny. Other than that Blair had been able to get no more than a mysterious smile out of the man on that particular subject, though Incacha had continued answering any and all other questions put to him.

//They hunt for us,// Enqueri stated, interrupting Blair's train of thought. //We must go.//

Incacha nodded, standing and holding out his hand to Nanna. The child surprised Blair by reaching out for his hand instead.

//You have made a friend,// Incacha observed, smiling as Blair took the girl's hand squeezing it tight.

//Looks that way,// Blair said, finding himself grinning back. He just couldn't help but like the man, cryptic sayings and all.

Enqueri took point as they continued to make their way back to the Stargate, dodging an increasing number of Jaffa the closer they got. With the Sentinel leading the way however they managed to avoid them all.

Or almost all.

They were almost back to the Stargate clearing when it happened. Enqueri stopped suddenly, his face a study in intense concentration. Then he yelled, //Get down!// at the same time spinning and bringing his crossbow up and firing all, in the same motion.

Later, when he remembered the next 30 seconds, it would seem to Blair like time had slowed down just to make sure he would imprint every horrible detail. The arrow from Enqueri's crossbow flew towards the trees just as an energy blast was fired from the same direction, directly at Blair and Nanna. Incacha shoved them aside and was hit dead on in the middle of his chest.

Time seemed to slow even more. Incacha looked down at his wound, looked up and smiled serenely at Enqueri and then crumpled to the ground. Enqueri's cry of denial echoed through the jungle.

Blair scrabbled over to Incacha's fallen form, turning the man over and getting his first good look at the wound. He found himself repeating, "Oh god, oh god, oh god" over and over again as he swallowed hard against rising nausea and panic. There was nothing he could do. He'd seen corpses that weren't as badly damaged.

A small yelp escaped Blair as Incacha opened his eyes and clamped his hand around Blair's forearm. Hard. //Time.... to meet... your... destiny...Blair Sandburg,// Incacha gasped out in a breathy pain-filled whisper. //Enqueri... I cannot... you must...// He closed his eyes and obviously marshaled his remaining strength.

His eyes opened again and he fixed Blair with a penetrating gaze. //Protect... help... my Enqueri... promise... Promise Blair Sandburg... you must help Enqueri... your destiny... Promise...//

//I promise Incacha,// Blair said, speaking over the increasingly weak and frantic pleas. //I promise. I'll help Enqueri. Any way he needs. I promise.//

The words seemed to release all the tension in Incacha's body. He closed his eyes briefly before forcing them open again, his gaze focusing on the Sentinel who was knelt by his other side. //Enqueri,// he said simply, then smiled and closed his eyes again. And died.

//Incacha?// Enqueri asked, rising fear, panic, grief and denial in his voice. //Incacha! No! No, no, no...// Repeating the simple denial over and over Enqueri gathered Incacha's limp body into his arms and buried his face in the dead man's hair.

Blair stared at the heartbreaking tableau being played out in front of him, feeling his own eyes tearing up. He hung back, not sure what to do, wanting to respect the Sentinel's very real and immediate grief.

But as the moments passed and Enqueri showed no signs of moving, other than to slowly rock Incacha's body, he knew he had to do something. Enqueri was a Sentinel and Blair knew from his research that if a Sentinel became too focused on any one sensation or emotion they risked the danger of a zone-out. And a zone-out, if nobody brought them out of it, could prove fatal.

Tentatively he reached out and laid a hand on the Sentinel's shoulder. //Enqueri?// he said softly.

The Sentinel gave no sign he had heard.

Blair called again, a little louder this time. //Enqueri, he's gone. You have to let him go.//

//I can't,// Enqueri said, voice cracking with emotion. //I can't... I need him.... can't do this without him...//

Something in Blair reacted to those words with a mixture of grief and denial. Somehow he knew that there was more to this than Enqueri mourning his friend, he knew that Enqueri was giving up, that he would sit there until he zoned and died. There was no way in hell that Blair was going to let that happen.

Gripping the man's shoulders harder, he forced him to turn and look at him. //Incacha wouldn't want you to do this. We have to go Enqueri. Incacha would want you to. You know that.//

Enqueri shook his head. //No. I can't. Not without my...// He bowed his head over Incacha's once again. //I need him to help me. I can't do this, can't go on without help...//

Blair suddenly understood the promise Incacha had made him give. Incacha had known this would be how Enqueri would react. Well Blair was going to keep that promise.

Reaching out, he grabbed the man's face, pulling his head up until Enqueri was forced to meet his gaze. //I'll help you,// he said fiercely.

Enqueri blinked dazedly at the man from tear-filled eyes. //You?// he asked in a whisper, disbelief, grief and maybe a tiny thread of hope all mixed in his tone.

Blair nodded emphatically. //For as long as you need me. I promise you, like I promised Incacha.//

For a long moment Enqueri just stared at him, with eyes that Blair suddenly felt were peering into his very soul.

He seemed to be searching for something, looking for the answer to a question he couldn't voice. Blair experienced a brief flash of fear, as it suddenly felt like Enqueri was seeing all of him, his hopes, his dreams, his petty hatreds. His gifts and his flaws. Seeing and judging.

But the fear passed quickly, leaving in its wake a sense of wonder and peace that can only come when someone knows you to the core and accepts you anyway. And as Blair watched ice-blue eyes turn warm, shining with an inner light, that was exactly what it felt like Enqueri had done.

The Sentinel reached out and laid a hand against the side of Blair's face. The anthropologist gasped as the simple touch seemed to send an electrical current through his system. Everything around him simultaneously came into sharper focus, as if he had suddenly developed enhanced senses himself, and faded into the background, as the man before him became the focus of his entire world.

Blair had no idea how long they stayed like that and had no idea how much longer they would've continued if reality hadn't intruded. Reality in this case being another spear blast that came from the other side of the clearing, hitting mere inches from where the two men knelt.

In an instant Enqueri had pushed Blair to the ground, raised and aimed his crossbow and returned fire. A split second later, a dead Jaffa fell forward into the clearing, Enqueri's arrow buried in his heart.

Enqueri lowered the crossbow and climbed to his feet. //Come,// he said, reaching down to give Blair a hand up. //We must go. He was not alone.//

Blair nodded and turned to call Nanna to his side. As the child scampered over he turned back to see Enqueri kneeling by Incacha's body again. //Enqueri?// he ventured.

//It feels wrong to just leave him here,// the Sentinel said softly.

//I know,// Blair replied, reaching out and laying a comforting hand on the other man's shoulder. He groped for words to say that would help and suddenly they were there. //But you're not really leaving him. You carry him within you, in your memories and your heart. That is the most important.//

Enqueri nodded. //You are right.// With one last look at his friend's body, he climbed to his feet. //We must go,// he said, starting to head out of the clearing, trusting that Blair and Nanna would follow.

Which they did, after Blair took his own last look at Incacha. He wasn't sure where his last words had come from, but he was grateful that he had been able to ease at least a little bit the pain of the man walking in front of him. It made him feel like he was already keeping his promise to Incacha.

The rest of the trek back to the Stargate clearing was uneventful, if dodging and avoiding Jaffa patrols nearly every step of the way could be considered uneventful.

"Sandburg!" Captain Banks yelled as soon as they entered the clearing. He and Megan were standing guard while the last of the refugees were entering the gate. "When the *hell* are you going to learn to follow orders?"

"Sorry, Simon," Blair apologized as they came to a stop in front of the captain. "But when I saw Nanna here run off... I had to go after her. I couldn't just leave her behind."

Banks glared down at the anthropologist for a moment then sighed. "Is she okay?" he asked, his voice still gruff.

Looking down at the little girl that still held his hand, Blair nodded. "She's fine. Just scared. Others weren't so lucky though." His gaze traveled to the Sentinel standing silently a few paces behind him.

The Captain's gaze followed and he immediately noticed what -- or more specifically, who -- was missing. "Incacha?" he asked quietly.

Blair nodded. "He took an energy blast in the chest saving Nanna and me. He saved my life. And hers."

"He okay?" Banks asked, nodding towards Enqueri.

"Truthfully? I don't know, Simon. It hit him pretty hard. I think he's in shock right now."

Rafe joined them. "The last of the refugees are through, sir," he reported.

"Good," Banks said. "Sandburg, you take the girl and Enqueri through now. I don't like how quiet it's gotten in the last few minutes. They're planning something. I want us all gone before we find out what the hard way."

Blair nodded. "Right Captain." He turned to Nanna and Enqueri, switching to Quechua. //We have to go through the gate now.//

Nanna nodded and held onto Blair's hand tighter. Enqueri's expression did not change, but a muscle in his jaw started twitching. //You okay with this?// Blair asked.

Enqueri nodded curtly. //I have to be. Let's go.//

With one more look of concern at the Sentinel, Blair led the way up to the Stargate. Before they stepped in, he reached out and laid a hand on Enqueri's arm. //I'll see you on the other side, okay?//

Again Enqueri nodded and Blair could feel the incredible tension radiating off the man ease a little. Still maintaining physical contact with the Sentinel, Blair stepped through the gate.

The journey through the Stargate was as chaotic as always and, as usual, Blair stumbled a bit when he came out, but managed to keep both himself and Nanna on their feet.

Enqueri however was another story.

The second they were clear of the gate the Sentinel had fallen to his knees, curling in on himself.

Blair was immediately at his side, reaching out and running a gentle reassuring hand up and down Enqueri's back. //It's okay,// he soothed. //It's over now. Take a deep breath and focus on me until you can get your senses back under control.// Blair wasn't sure where the words were coming from, all he knew was that it felt like the right thing to say.

And Enqueri's reactions seemed to prove it was. The Sentinel took a deep shuddery breath, then another, and another until his breathing had calmed and the tension in his tightly curled frame slowly began to ease. Finally, with a deep sigh he straightened, and looked up into Blair's eyes. //Thank you,// he said softly.

"Report Doctor Sandburg," a commanding voice rang out. "Just what the hell is going on here?"

Blair looked up at the c.o. of Stargate command General Hammond. "Goa'uld attack, sir. Major attack. Jaffa troops, death gliders, the works. If we didn't evacuate these people they would've been killed."

Behind him he heard several other people come through the gate. "Close the shield now!" Banks yelled the second he emerged. "Now, dammit!"

Blair was aware of the shield on the gate being closed and the distinctive clang as something tried to come through and ran into it, and he was aware of General Hammond still firing questions at all of SG-14 now but these things only peripherally impinged on his consciousness.

His attention was focused on the man still kneeling on the platform beside him. Enqueri had momentarily got his senses under control, but the new chaos that had ensued with the rest of SG-14's return had overwhelmed the Sentinel once again. Blair watched helplessly as the man curled in on himself again, covering his ears with his hands. //Too much,// he groaned painfully. //Too loud, too bright.//

"Oh man," Blair muttered, frantically trying to figure out what to do. "Lesee... too much sensory input, over-stimulation of the senses. There's got to be a natural mechanism for dealing with this. Think Sandburg, think!" Another groan from Enqueri brought his attention back to the problem. //Umm, can you turn it down?// he asked.

//What?// Pain-filled blue eyes squinted up at him.

//Turn your senses down, decrease the input.// At the blank look he received Blair elaborated. //Okay, imagine a dial -- uhm switch -- in your mind. You turn the switch to the right, it makes everything louder and brighter. You turn it to the left and it turns everything down again. Now picture it being turned to the left.// As he spoke, his voice taking on a calm soothing tone, Blair had reached out and was again lightly rubbing a hand up and down the Sentinel's back.

For a moment Enqueri looked as if he was going to protest, but after a particularly loud crash made him flinch in pain he closed his eyes instead. After a few deep breaths, Blair could feel the man's muscles slowly start to relax under his hand. With a sigh Enqueri opened his eyes and looked up at the anthropologist. //It worked,// he said, surprised.

Blair found himself grinning widely. //Of course it did!// He helped Enqueri regain his feet. //You okay now?//

"Dr. Sandburg," General Hammond addressed Blair in a tone that made it clear it was not the first time he had tried to get the anthropologist's attention.

Tearing his attention away from the Sentinel, Blair looked up at the General. "Yes, sir?" he asked as meekly as he could.

"If it's not too much of an imposition, would you mind joining the debriefing?"

Blair winced at the sarcasm. "Yes, sir. Be right there." Turning back to Enqueri he quickly explained what was going on. //I have to go, our leader wants us to tell him what happened. The Chopec will be taken someplace safe where you can rest.// He hesitated, oddly reluctant to let the man out of his sight. //You'll be alright?//

Enqueri looked from Blair to General Hammond and back again. //You will come find me as soon as you are finished?// he asked softly in a tone that almost made Blair's heart break.

//As soon as I can, I promise,// Blair replied, reaching out and squeezing the other man's arm.

Enqueri nodded. //I will be alright.//

Blair nodded back, gave Enqueri's arm one final squeeze before letting go and watching the Sentinel walk down the ramp to join the rest of the Chopec refugees.

He felt a tug on his hand and looked down into Nanna's large brown eyes. She pulled at his hand until he knelt down in front of her then threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. //Thank you,// she whispered then scampered down the ramp after Enqueri.

Blair grinned, then turned and joined the rest of SG-14 on the way to their debriefing.

************

"...and when it became clear that this was more than an ordinary goa'uld raid, that they were in fact trying to wipe the Chopec off the planet we implemented evacuation procedures," Banks explained. "We escorted as many of the Chopec as we could to the Stargate and defended our position at the gate while they passed through to Earth."

Listening with a half ear Blair spared a moment's gratitude that the captain hadn't mentioned his little unauthorized detour into the jungle in his recitation. Not that he thought for a moment that Simon was just going to forget about it, but it was obviously something that would be dealt with within the team and not made known to their superiors.

Blair himself wasn't exactly sure how he felt about his actions. Sure, he had saved the little girl, but Incacha had been killed. He would never know if that would have been different if he had not been there. He was pretty sure, however, that if there had been no one there to pull Enqueri from his zone-out when Incacha died, that the Sentinel would not have survived either. Knowing that, Blair could not find it in himself to regret his actions.

"--Dr. Sandburg?" General Hammond's voice broke in and distracted Blair from his thoughts.

He looked up, shifting in his seat. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

"I asked if we were boring you," Hammond repeated.

Blair felt himself flushing. "No, sir, not at all," he replied. "I was just uhm reflecting on the mission."

"Well perhaps then you'd like to share your reflections. What is this about a Sentinel, is it? A man with enhanced senses?"

"Yes, sir. I did my doctorate thesis on them -- they've appeared in primitive tribal cultures all over the world." Blair continued enthusiastically, his hands beginning to wave and gesture as he warmed to his subject. "They were the tribal protectors, a sort of early warning system against attack. When we came through the gate on P8-935 we found a stone with Mayan writings that spoke of Sentinels guarding the people.

"And then we met Enqueri -- he's the real deal, General. A real live Sentinel. The man is incredible!"

"It's true General," Rafe confirmed when Hammond looked skeptical. "I didn't believe it at first either but Sandburg and I ran some tests -- Enqueri's hearing, sight, all his senses are at least a hundred times more acute than the average person's."

"It was Enqueri who first alerted us to the goa'uld attack," Megan chimed in. "Without that warning we would've been caught totally flatfooted. Because of it, we were able to get a lot more people out than we would have otherwise."

"About the attack," Hammond began, leaning forward as he spoke, "do you have any ideas why the goa'uld would target these people for so brutal an assault?"

"They obviously thought that the Chopec people or something on the planet was a threat to them," Megan pointed out reasonably. "Every time we've seen or heard of the goa'uld hitting a place this hard it was because they felt threatened. Otherwise they just subjugate, not destroy."

"What though?" Banks asked. "The Chopec's technology is primitive. They have nothing that the goa'uld could possibly consider a serious threat."

"They do have one thing we haven't seen anywhere else." Blair paused as four pairs of eyes turned to fasten on him. "A Sentinel."

Rafe shook his head. "All that just to get one guy? Okay, granted, he's not your ordinary guy but still he's just one man."

"The inscription on the stone by the gate implied that as long as the tribe had a Sentinel they'd be safe from attack by 'gods and demons' -- a goa'uld by any other name." Blair's words sped up as he spoke, as they always did when he felt he was on the brink of something. "And when the goa'uld did attack, they didn't come through the Stargate, they flew there in ships. What if they did that because they couldn't attack through the gate? What if they'd tried that and failed?"

Blair's hypothesis caused quite the commotion, with every one around the table trying to offer their opinions at once. But suddenly the voices seemed like so much white noise to Blair. Something was happening, something was wrong. He wasn't sure how he knew but he was sure he was right. Shutting out all the ruckus around him, he focused inward, trying to follow the certainty to its source.

Yes, something was definitely wrong. The more he focused the surer he became of that fact. It wasn't him, not directly, though the feeling was starting to make Blair want to crawl out of his skin. It wasn't any of his teammates or anything with the station itself. The feeling of wrongness, of trouble was coming from--

"Sandburg!"

His concentration broken, Blair blinked dazedly up at Captain Banks. "Yeah, Simon?" he asked, trying to focus his attention back on his surroundings.

"'Yeah, Simon?' Sandburg, haven't you been listening?" Observing the confused expression on the anthropologist's face Banks sighed and explained. "Dr. Fraiser just called in. There's been a problem with--"

"Enqueri!" Blair finished, bolting straight upright suddenly, as the feeling of trouble found its focus.

"Yes, Enqueri. It seems he went a little -- Sandburg where are you going?" Banks called after Blair as the anthropologist ran from the room.

But Blair didn't stop to answer, he couldn't. Now that he knew that it was Enqueri that the feeling of wrongness was emanating from, he felt compelled to get to the man as quickly as possible. Blair put his head down and ran full out, ignoring the shouted questions and the surprised looks from the startled base personnel he passed.

He didn't stop until he had burst through the infirmary doors like a sprinter crossing the finish line. His eyes darted about the room, lighting on Doctor Fraiser who was staring at him like he had lost his mind.

"Blair, what-" she began, reaching out for his arm as if to check his vitals.

"Enqueri," Blair interrupted, between gasps of breath. Seeing the puzzled look on the Doctor's face he made an effort to elaborate. "The refugee you called about... You said there was a problem... Where is he?"

"In the isolation ward," the doctor replied, then stood staring as Blair rushed by her, heading for the aforementioned room.

Entering the isolation ward, Blair caught his first glimpse of Enqueri and stopped dead. The man was in restraints, tied down at wrists and ankles, with an I.V. inserted into his hand. His eyes were wide open but unseeing and his breathing was shallow. Even in the brief moment that Blair stood there frozen he could tell it was getting even shallower.

The sight hit Blair more severely than he could have possibly imagined; it felt like someone had kicked him hard in the chest. He practically flew across the room to Enqueri's side, sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed, undoing the restraints and taking hold of the man's limp hand.

He knew what this was, knew that it was a major major zone out and that if Enqueri wasn't brought out of it soon that he would die. And seeing as he was the closest thing they had to a Sentinel expert, Blair knew it was up to him.

'No pressure or anything,' Blair thought as he began to speak softly, calling to the Sentinel in his own language, rubbing his free hand in soothing patterns over the man's chest, praying that it would be enough of a focus to break the zone.

For long tense moments nothing seemed to happen, then gradually Enqueri's breathing began to get deeper. He blinked once, twice and the hand in Blair's suddenly latched on with a grip of incredible strength.

Enqueri's eyes focused on him for a brief second, before closing in pain. //Too much, too bright, too loud. No… control...//

His heart wrenching at the lost tone in the Sentinel's voice, Blair tried his best to help. //Focus on my voice, my touch, Enqueri,// he instructed, his voice falling naturally into a low soothing cadence. //Block out everything else.//

Enqueri's brow furrowed in concentration, but then he shook his head and a whimper escaped him. //Can't...//

//Yes you can,// Blair countered, a fierceness that surprised even him creeping into his voice. //Focus!//

For long moments it didn't seem to work, but then Enqueri's grip on Blair's hand loosened -- though he didn't let go -- and Blair could see his tense muscles slowly relaxing. Finally Enqueri's eyes fluttered open again, meeting Blair's gaze. //Thank you,// he said simply.

//No problem,// Blair replied, relief bringing a smile to his face.

Now that his attention wasn't entirely focused on the Sentinel, he became aware that Doctor Fraiser had followed him into the room and was staring at them, eyes wide in shock. "Did I just see you talk this man out of a catatonic state?" she asked slowly.

"It wasn't catatonia," Blair replied. "It was a zone-out. Though I guess technically a zone-out is a form of catatonia so yeah, I guess you did." The entire time he was talking, Blair's gaze never left Enqueri's face.

Out of the corner of his eye he watched Dr. Fraiser slowly shake her head in confusion. "I'm obviously missing something here. What do you mean by zone-out?"

"Enqueri is a Sentinel. His senses are something like a hundred times sharper than a normal human's. Sometimes he can be overwhelmed by all that input and he... zones." Blair didn't really have another word for it and he was still too concerned about Enqueri to give much more of an explanation. Because even though Enqueri had come out of his zone-out he still seemed to be having problems controlling his senses; Blair could tell by the way the Sentinel winced at every stray sound and flinched at the light.

There had to be a reason for it. //What happened?// he asked, keeping his voice as soft and soothing as possible.

//There were too many unfamiliar sounds, sights, scents, they were overwhelming me. I had nothing to hold onto, to brace against. I needed to find you.// The words were said quietly, so matter-of-factly that it made Enqueri's distress all the more poignant to Blair. //They wouldn't let me leave the room. I tried to explain, but they didn't understand. I tried to walk by them anyway but they grabbed me. I fought back. I didn't want to hurt them but I *needed* to find you and I couldn't make them understand.//

Blair found himself responding automatically to the desperation he heard in the other man's voice. //It's all right,// he soothed, squeezing the hand he still held reassuringly. //I'm here now. I'm sorry, I never should have left you alone until I knew you were all right//

Enqueri shook his head, then winced at the movement. //You had to do your duty.//

//Maybe.// But Blair still felt guilty. //What happened after they grabbed you? Is that when you zoned?//

Again Enqueri shook his head. //That happened after she-// he gestured weakly with his free hand at the doctor, //-pricked me with something. After that, everything was worse. I couldn't control my senses at all.//

Blair immediately pinned the doctor with an intense look. "What did you give him?" he demanded.

Startled, she took a moment to reply. "Just a light sedative. Nothing dangerous. He was extremely agitated and we needed to calm him down before someone got hurt."

"The sedative made Enqueri's senses go nuts. That's what caused the zone-out. Hurt him? You nearly killed him!" Blair stopped and took a deep breath, trying to get his anger under control. It wasn't the Doctor's fault that she didn't know about Sentinels and drug interactions, but he couldn't get the image of Enqueri lying there in such a deep zone-out out of his head. If he hadn't been able to bring him back...

Abruptly his eyes were drawn to the I.V. dripping even more drugs into Enqueri's system. "Get rid of that," he ordered tersely, pointing with the hand not holding Enqueri's.

Doctor Fraiser looked like she was going to protest. "Please," Blair pleaded. "I know what I'm doing. Trust me."

A long moment passed as the doctor searched Blair's expression intently. Finally though, she nodded and stepped forward. Without a word she turned off the drip and removed the I.V. from Enqueri's arm. Then with a quiet "We'll talk later" and a gentle clasp of Blair's shoulder she left the two of them alone.

They sat in silence for a while, Blair still holding onto Enqueri's hand, just being near, trying not to think about what could've happened. Finally though when he noticed the tension lines around Enqueri's eyes and mouth slowly ease he was able to put aside the what ifs and concentrate more fully on the present.

//Feeling better?// he asked, absently reaching up and brushing his free hand against Enqueri's cheek.

Enqueri briefly leaned into the caress before nodding. //Things do not seem so intense anymore. I am regaining control.//

//Good,// Blair answered, breathing a sigh of relief. He had no idea what he could've done if Enqueri's control had not come back.

Watching Enqueri's face, he could see the exhaustion that was stamped on the man's every feature. This whole experience had taken a very obvious toll on the Sentinel. //Try and get some rest,// Blair advised. //You look like you need it.//

Enqueri nodded, his eyes already closing. But after a few seconds, they flew open again, frantically seeking out Blair. //You will stay?// he asked almost shyly and the anthropologist couldn't help but hear the underlying plea in the man's voice.

Blair once again felt his heart wrench at those quiet words and he gripped Enqueri's hand more tightly. //I will stay,// he promised.

The Sentinel nodded once again. //Good.// Closing his eyes, he quickly drifted off to sleep while Blair still held his hand, maintaining his quiet vigil.

************

Blair wasn't sure exactly how much time had passed when there was a soft knock on the door and Doctor Fraiser looked in.

"How is he?" she asked softly.

"Asleep. The whole mess with the drugs and his senses going haywire took a lot out of him." Blair spoke in a low voice in an effort not to wake the Sentinel. It seemed to work; Enqueri stirred slightly but settled right back down again.

"Captain Banks would like to speak with you if he's settled."

Blair didn't think about the oddness of the doctor deferring to him on the medical condition of one of her patients. It just seemed... right somehow that he be the one taking care of Enqueri. It didn't seem unusual that Dr. Fraiser would pick up on that.

Captain Banks on the other hand...

He knew that the Captain would be practically frothing at the mouth, wanting an explanation for why Blair had taken off like he had in the middle of an official debriefing session, and Blair was sure that "I had to, I knew something was wrong," was not going to cut it, even if it was the unvarnished truth.

And the longer he avoided Banks the more difficult the conversation was going to be.

Blair knew that the prudent thing to do, the smart thing to do would be to obey this summons and get the whole confrontation over with as quickly as possible. It never paid to piss the Captain off more than he absolutely had to. But he found himself extremely reluctant to leave Enqueri's side. It had been hard enough to send him off with the rest of the Chopec while he went to the debriefing. Given what had then happened, Blair found it even more difficult to conceive of leaving him alone again. Especially after the man had asked him to stay.

Dr. Fraiser was still standing at the door, waiting. "Blair?"

"I promised him I'd stay, Janet," Blair said softly, the conflict plain on his face and in his voice.

The doctor's expression softened after regarding Blair for a long moment. "I'll sit with him," she offered, coming further into the room and laying a hand on Blair's shoulder. "The Captain is just outside, in the main infirmary waiting for you. You wouldn't be that far away."

Blair hesitated. He really needed to straighten things out with Banks as soon as possible and if they talked in the infirmary he'd still be close enough if there was a problem...

"You'll call me if he starts waking up?" he asked finally, looking up at her.

"If he so much as twitches," Dr. Fraiser promised, raising one hand in a silent vow.

Blair nodded, turning his attention back to Enqueri. He squeezed the hand that he still held. //I'll be right back, Enqueri, I promise,// he whispered, then let go and stood up. Dr. Fraiser smoothly took his place, sitting in his vacated seat and gently grasping the hand Blair had just let go of.

After another brief moment of hesitation at the door Blair left, walking quickly to the outer room. He wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible so he could get back to Enqueri.

He found Captain Banks impatiently pacing back and forth in front of a row of cots when he entered the main room of the infirmary. The man did not look happy.

'One good thing about doing this here,' Blair thought, 'is that he won't be able to yell as loudly. Still, this isn't going to be exactly what I'd call pleasant.' He took a deep breath and stepped forward. "You wanted to see me Simon?"

The Captain stopped pacing and turned to face him. "Why, yes Sandburg, I did request the pleasure of your company," he said with a smile. Blair swallowed and had to force himself not to back up a step.

"Well, here I am," he said nervously.

"Yes, here you are," Simon agreed, still in an overly pleasant tone. "You're not hurt or anything are you Sandburg?"

"Hurt? Me? No, Simon, I'm fine. Thanks." Blair's eyes darted to the sides searching for possible ways of escape in case they were needed. It was never ever a good sign when Simon was *this* polite.

"Then perhaps you wouldn't mind explaining to me why you bolted from the room in the middle of a team debriefing?!"

Blair couldn't totally suppress his flinch, as Simon's anger became very clear and apparent. 'Man has no trouble expressing his emotions,' he thought idly even as he started stammering a response.

"I'm sorry, man, really but I had to. I just got this whole totally negative something is wrong vibe and when you mentioned Enqueri I knew that was where it was coming from. Somehow I just knew he needed my help. When I got here he was in like this major, major zone-out -- we're talking vegetable city here -- and if I hadn't brought him out of it, well let's just say it's a good thing I was able to. And it was all my fault in the first place, I never should have left him alone. I mean I should've realized that his senses would conceivably overload what with all the new and unfamiliar input, especially coming on the heels of having his home destroyed not to mention the trauma of having his best friend die in his arms..."

"Breathe Sandburg," Simon ordered.

"Breathe, yeah, right," Blair muttered but did manage to take a deep breath or two.

Once Blair had calmed down a bit, Simon asked for elaboration though in a much calmer tone of voice than he'd used before. "Let's take it a bit slower this time. You're saying that Enqueri's senses overloaded and he 'zoned...?'"

Blair nodded. "He was so far gone I didn't know if I could reach him. He almost died, Simon..."

The Captain waved him to silence. "But he's all right now?"

Again Blair nodded. "Yeah. Once I brought him out of the zone and got the doc to stop pumping him full of drugs he couldn't handle. Wore him out though. And I think it scared him almost as much as it did me. He's sleeping now." The anthropologist couldn't stop himself from casting a glance back at the door to the room where Enqueri lay resting.

When he turned back Simon was looking at him oddly. "What?" Blair asked, shaking his head in puzzlement.

Simon continued to stare for a few long seconds longer then seemed to dismiss whatever he was thinking with a shake of his head. "Seeing as how everything's under control here then Sandburg, General Hammond and the rest of the team is waiting to finish the debriefing. So if you'd just-"

"I can't." The words were out before Blair even had a chance to think about it.

The Captain froze for a moment, giving Blair another hard look. "What do you mean you can't?"

"I- He- I-" Blair stammered then shut up when he realized he couldn't seem to form a complete thought. He took a deep breath and tried again, though he still wasn't sure exactly what he could say. How could he explain the feeling of impending catastrophe he got at even the thought of leaving Enqueri right now?

Well he could only try. "I'm still worried about Enqueri. There's nothing that says he's not going to freak out and zone again."

"Is there anything that says that he is?" Simon asked, logically.

"Well, no..."

"You said he was all right now, that he was just sleeping."

"He is," Blair admitted, "but-"

"And now that you've informed Dr. Fraiser she can keep an eye open for this zoning thing and page you if needed."

"I suppose but-"

"Then what's the problem Sandburg?" the Captain wanted to know.

Blair thought furiously, trying to come up with a logical reason, but in the end all he could think of to say was the truth. "I *can't* leave him, Simon. I- It's just this feeling that I *have* to be here. I can't explain it."

Simon just looked at him levelly for a very long moment. "Don't you think you're taking this academic obsession thing a little too far?"

"It's not an academic obsession," Blair protested. "It's... He's... I can't explain it," he repeated, shaking his head in frustration.

"I think I can," came a new voice from the doorway to the infirmary.

Both Blair and Simon turned as Daniel Jackson joined them.

"Daniel what-" Blair began before his friend interrupted him. He couldn't help but reflect idly that he was having a hard time finishing sentences lately.

"I just came from talking with the Chopec elders. They were rather upset about what happened to Enqueri so I was trying to explain things and calm them down. In return they explained some things to me as well." Daniel looked at Blair as he spoke. "Enqueri, he's a real Sentinel, correct? The kind you did your thesis on."

Blair nodded. "That's what caused him to freak out -- his senses aren't used to a military base and the sedative Dr. Fraiser gave him only made things worse."

"It's a little more complicated than that. Blair, you remember in your thesis you wrote that all Sentinels always worked with a companion?"

"Yeah, to guard their backs and to keep them from zoning." Blair's eyes widened. "Oh man, that's what Incacha was... I mean I *knew* that but I didn't really think about it. Losing Incacha has to have been even more traumatic than I was thinking! No wonder he lost control of his senses..."

"There's more to it than that," Daniel said. "What were these companions of Sentinels called?"

"Well I found more than one name, same as with Sentinels themselves but they all were some variation on Guide." Blair shook his head. "Where are you going with all of this?"

"Just bear with me a moment. When Incacha died, did he say anything to you?"

"He asked me to protect and help Enqueri," Blair said softly, remembering the desperation in Incacha's voice as the dying man pressed him for a promise. "He said something else about it being time to meet my destiny, but I don't know what he meant by that. But he was very clear on wanting me to help Enqueri. Even made me promise."

Daniel seemed to start slightly at the destiny remark. "Blair, what was the word he used for help?" he asked carefully.

Frowning Blair repeated the word Incacha had used.

"That's not the word for 'help'," Daniel told him. "That's the word for 'guide'."

It took a few seconds for the implications of that to sink in. When it did, all Blair could think was, 'Oh shit...'

That certainly explained a lot however -- this strange connection he now felt to Enqueri and his reluctance to leave him. It may even explain how he had known that Enqueri was in trouble before he'd been told.

'That strange look he gave me when I offered to 'help', the one that felt like he was looking at my soul, that must have been him imprinting me as his new Guide,' Blair thought, absently beginning to pace. 'That's probably why I can suddenly bring him out of zones and help him control his senses. No wonder he didn't want me to leave... Oh man, this is *not* good.'

Simon watched as his team's anthropologist turned pale and started pacing and muttering to himself, then glanced back to Daniel. "Would one of you gentlemen like to explain to me just what you're talking about?"

"We're talking about me making a truly boneheaded mistake," Blair answered, never stopping his pacing.

"What mistake? So you mistranslated a word... guide, help, they mean the same thing more or less." Simon looked from one anthropologist to the other. "Don't they?"

Blair snorted. "Hardly."

"According to Blair's research, every Sentinel needed a Guide to function," Daniel elaborated. "From what the Chopec elders told me, Enqueri now sees Blair as his Guide."

"And this is a bad thing," Simon said.

"Are you kidding? It's a disaster!" Blair waved his arms. "Enqueri needs a Guide to function -- he needs me to function. What's going to happen when we find a planet to resettle the Chopec on?"

He could feel himself starting to hyperventilate as the beginnings of a panic attack made itself felt. Seeing the alarm on both Simon's and Daniel's faces, he stopped pacing and forced himself to take slow deep breaths. Freaking out wouldn't help anything.

But man, what had he done? More importantly what was he going to do?

Before Blair could say anything, before he could even begin to come up with any answers he was interrupted by Dr. Fraiser's urgent cry.

In a flash he was across the room and through the door to the isolation ward.

Enqueri was awake and agitatedly struggling with Dr. Fraiser. He stopped the second he saw the anthropologist though. "Blair Sandburg!"

All of his other concerns were forgotten for the moment as Blair practically flew across the room, taking the seat that Dr. Fraiser gratefully relinquished and reaching for Enqueri's hand. //I'm here.//

Enqueri did not immediately relax; rather his eyes seemed to rake over every inch of the anthropologist, even as he tightened his grip on Blair's hand.

"What happened?" Blair asked the doctor quietly, even as his gaze never left the Sentinel's face.

"I'm not sure," she replied. "One minute he was sleeping peacefully, the next he was awake and more than a little unhappy."

//You were upset,// Enqueri told him. //Angry. Afraid.//

Blair blinked. How did- The Guide thing. It had to be. The same way he had known when Enqueri was in trouble.

He noticed that Enqueri was waiting for some kind of response from him. //Yes, I was,// he said honestly. //I had just figured out that something I did wasn't what I thought I did and it kind of threw me.//

Enqueri frowned as he worked his way through what Blair had just said. //So you were not in distress?// he finally asked.

//No. Well not from anything but my own making.// Absently his mind registered Dr. Fraiser's withdrawal from the room.

The Sentinel shook his head. //I do not understand.//

//That makes two of us, my friend.// At Enqueri's puzzled expression, he sighed and shook his head. //Never mind. My mistake. My problem. I'll deal.//

//Tell me,// Enqueri asked, mouth set in a stubborn line.

//Why do you want to know so badly?//

//You are my Guide. You are troubled. Tell me why so I may help.// It was said so matter-of-factly, so confidently that Blair almost believed that it could be as simple as that.

//I'm sorry,// he said softly, feeling even worse for what he had inadvertently done.

//Sorry for what?//

//For this--// he gestured at the disconnected I.V. //--and leaving you alone so you zoned and for making you take me as your Guide in the first place!//

Enqueri froze, his expression turning stony. //You do not wish to be my Guide?// he asked in a voice devoid of all feeling.

The Sentinel's reaction was not at all what Blair had been expecting. //No! I mean yes! It's not that I don't want to be your Guide,// he hastened to reassure him. //It's just... I'm not a Chopec. Having me as your Guide is going to mess with your life.//

Enqueri's expression relaxed as understanding filled his eyes. //Blair Sandburg,// he began calmly, intensely, //if you had not became my Guide I would not have a life to 'mess with'. I would have died with Incacha.//

The simple words hit Blair hard. Intellectually he had known that, known that if left alone Enqueri would not have survived, but hearing it stated so baldly drove it home emotionally as well. Meeting the man's eyes he ventured, //I'm glad you didn't.//

But less than a minute later the whole thing seemed to come crashing down on Blair again and he jumped up and started pacing. //But I don't know what to do now! I have to stay with you -- not that that's a bad thing in and of itself, you're great, you're amazing and I'd love a chance to get to know you better -- but the Chopec will be leaving as soon as we find you a new home and I-I don't think I'll be able to get permission to go with you.//

//I know.//

//Stargate command frowns on their people going native. It's considered -- what did you say?// Blair stopped and turned to look at the man.

//You are not Chopec. I know this. You have your own tribe, your own duties to perform. I know this also. You would not be the man you are if you could just abandon them.//

//But-but-but-// Blair realized he was sounding like a motorboat and stopped. But Enqueri's calm acceptance of the very situation he'd been agonizing over left him stunned. //But as your Guide I have to stay with you,// he finally stammered out.

//No,// Enqueri countered with a smile. //As your Sentinel I have to stay with *you*.//

Blair blinked. For a moment all he could do was stare at the man. //Stay with me?// he repeated weakly. //But I just said I couldn't go with the tribe. If you stay with me you'd have to-//

//Leave the tribe. Yes I know.// Enqueri did not seem the least bit upset about it.

//And you're okay with this." Blair couldn't believe the Sentinel was accepting this so calmly, when he himself was this close to totally freaking out over it.

Enqueri shrugged. //What good would it do if I was not?// he asked. //It would not change anything and just serve to make this harder for everyone.//

//And it doesn't bother you?//

//Of course it bothers me!// A hint of the pain and anger that Blair had expected shone through for a moment. But Enqueri quickly got himself under control. //But that is the way things must be. Being dead would have bothered me more.//

//But...// Blair was finding it extremely difficult to let this go.

Enqueri got up off the bed and walked over to him. He put his hands on the anthropologist's shoulders and gently turned Blair to face him. Blair found himself looking up into a serious, arresting blue gaze. //Blair Sandburg, you are now my Guide. Without you I would be helpless, if I was not dead. Yes, I will miss the Chopec. But my place is with you.//

Blair caught his breath at that simple statement and the emotions it sparked. He should feel guilty and upset about what had happened but all he could think of was how *right* Enqueri's words felt. He thought about having the Sentinel by his side and found himself starting to smile.

//So I'm stuck with you?// he asked, the smile still curving his mouth.

Enqueri smiled back. //Yes,// he said simply.

That smile seemed to reach in and warm Blair's soul. "Oh man..." he breathed, finding himself swaying unconsciously towards the other man's body.

The Sentinel also seemed to be drawn to him, closing the distance between them. Blair gasped as Enqueri's face moved closer and closer to his own, his thoughts running scattered. 'Oh my god, what is he doing? Is he really going to-- Am I going to let him? Holy shit, I think I am...'

And then he was, lips touching and opening under Enqueri's, arms going of their own accord around Enqueri's neck, fingers brushing in the short hair, even as Enqueri's hands tangled in his own long locks, holding him in place as the kiss grew and lengthened.

"Ahem."

The soft clearing of a throat penetrated the sensual haze that had engulfed Blair at Enqueri's first touch. He sprang back so fast that he lost his balance and would've fallen if Enqueri had not reached out a steadying hand. He turned to see Simon, Daniel and Dr. Fraiser all standing in the doorway watching with varied shocked expressions.

For a long moment there was silence as the three stared at the tableau they had interrupted and Blair, blushing bright red, wished he could sink through the floor and disappear. He couldn't explain what had just happened, not even to himself, not yet, and the last thing he wanted was to have to try and explain it to someone else.

Daniel was the one to finally break the silence. "Uhh General Hammond has called a meeting to talk about the Chopec situation and the incident earlier." Daniel's eyes kept flicking back and forth between Blair and Enqueri. "He... uhh... wants you there. To help explain the Sentinel thing."

"Yeah, sure, okay." Blair ran a hand through his hair. 'Just as soon as somebody explains it to me!' he thought, still off-balance about what had just happened.

"You okay Sandburg?" Simon frowned as Blair took a step and almost fell again when he realized that Enqueri still had his hand on his arm.

"Yeah, Simon. I'm fine. Just..." He trailed off realizing he didn't know what he could say.

Enqueri seemed to sense his confusion and distress, and moved closer, laying his other hand on Blair's shoulder. *This* was not helping.

He needed some distance, needed some time to think, to figure out just what was happening between him and Enqueri. He couldn't do that with the man standing next to him. Right next to him. Touching him. It did anything but help his thought processes.

"Can you uhh give me a minute?" he asked the others. He needed to explain where he was going to Enqueri and why, and he wasn't sure if he could handle it with an audience right now.

Daniel nodded. "We'll wait out in the main infirmary," he said, overriding anything that Simon might have been contemplating. He gave Blair a supportive look, then turned to go, Simon on his heels. Doctor Fraiser smiled at him and followed.

Once they had gone Blair turned back to Enqueri. And found he didn't know what to say. He had to go, not only because he had been asked to, but also to get the distance he needed to sort this whole thing out in his head. But at the same time his instincts told him not to leave Enqueri alone. He wasn't sure how to reconcile the two diametrically opposed necessities.

Enqueri did it for him. //You must go.// It was a statement, not a question.

Blair nodded. //Yes. There's going to be a meeting regarding the Chopec. I have to explain what happened earlier, you know with you losing control like that. And probably the whole Sentinel thing in general.// His morose tone telegraphed exactly how much he was *not* looking forward to that conversation at the moment.

'Ironic, really,' he thought, 'considering that up until about 15 minutes ago the whole Sentinel phenomena was one of my favorite discussion subjects. Course that was before a prime example of said phenomena planted a lip-lock on me. Talk about getting involved in your work!' He realized he was starting to babble mentally and made an effort to drag his train of thought back on track.

He opened his mouth to ask Enqueri whether he wanted to wait here or with the other Chopec, but again that odd reluctance to leave rose up and choked the words off. Instead he heard himself asking, //Will you come with me?//

'What the-?' Great, now his vocal cords were acting on their own initiative. 'Just when did I lose control of everything?' he wondered a bit hysterically.

Enqueri was watching him intently, as if aware of Blair's inner turmoil. 'Probably is,' Blair realized. 'With his senses he can monitor my heartbeat and breathing to tell exactly how freaked out I am.'

Just as he thought he was going to start to hyperventilate Enqueri reached out a hand and laid it gently on his shoulder. Just like that Blair felt himself calming. 'Oh man... How'd he do that? Is this part of being a Guide -- finding out you have a six foot one security blanket?'

//I will come,// Enqueri said solemnly.

Blair felt the tension leave his body in a whoosh of exhaled air at the Sentinel's words. 'Like that solves all my problems,' he thought acidly. But he couldn't deny that knowing Enqueri was coming with him had seemed to conquer the incipient panic attack.

//Thanks,// he said quietly, feeling he needed to acknowledge the Sentinel's actions somehow.

Enqueri just nodded, his hand still resting on Blair's shoulder. //I can see that this is... difficult for you,// he said haltingly. //It is... difficult for me as well. But it will get easier.//

//Great,// Blair replied, starting to head for the door. //Always assuming, of course, that I survive this meeting.//

He entered the main infirmary, with Enqueri walking just a pace or two behind, and stopped in front of Simon and Daniel. "Okay, let's go," he said, doing his best to ignore the Sentinel hovering just at his back.

The others weren't quite so accommodating though. "Sandburg," Simon started, "where is he going?"

"Who, Simon?"

That was one thing he had learned since working with all these military types: when in doubt, play dumb.

"Who? Him! The so-called Sentinel that's practically breathing down your neck!" The Captain glared at Blair.

"Huh?" Blair made a show of glancing over his shoulder at Enqueri. "Oh. Him. He's coming with me."

"Absolutely out of the question!"

"Look, Simon, remember what happened the last time I went off and left him alone? Sentinel going berserk, attacking guards, ending up in a catatonic state? Ring any bells? Do you really want to take a chance of that happening again?"

"Sandburg, you can't bring an uncleared refugee into an official meeting," Simon said, exasperated.

"Why not? It's not like he's going to understand anything that's said."

Simon opened his mouth to reply then closed it again. "That's not the point," he finally managed to get out.

"Then what is?" Blair sighed, shaking his head. He was way too stressed to deal with the military mindset right now. "Bottom line Simon, either he comes with me to the meeting or I don't go. I am *not* risking a repeat of what happened earlier."

'Not to mention the fact that I'd probably have a panic attack in the middle of the meeting, which would be *so* not good for my professional image.'

Simon looked like he was trying very hard to keep his temper. "Sandburg, you can't go around issuing ultimatums to superior officers. It's called insubordination and it's highly frowned upon."

"I'm not issuing ultimatums. I'm just stating facts. And the facts are that Enqueri needs a Guide to be able to function and that he's imprinted me as his Guide. I'm the Sentinel expert, remember? If you're not going to listen to what I have to say, why bother asking me anything at all?"

Daniel spoke up. "He's right, Captain. Nobody knows as much about Sentinels as Blair does. If he says he needs to stay with Enqueri then that's what he needs to do. Besides, he's right about the other point -- that Enqueri wouldn't understand anything being said at the meeting."

Blair shot Daniel a grateful look. 'I owe you one pal,' he thought.

Simon appealed to Dr. Fraiser. "Can't you keep Enqueri here, under observation?"

The doctor shook her head. "I'm afraid not, Captain. I agree with Dr. Jackson, Blair's the expert here. I've seen it myself. He's the one who helped Enqueri, not me. I just inadvertently made the problem worse. My medical advice is to do what the expert says."

Simon glowered for a moment, sputtered, then turned and stalked off.

"Can I get that in writing Janet?" Blair asked, with a little smile.

"Sure. If you think you'll need it."

Blair stared after Simon. "I just might. I'll let you know."

"Come on," Daniel said. "We better get moving. General Hammond is not a happy camper when he's kept waiting."

"Don't I know it," Blair replied ruefully. He turned to look at Enqueri who had been silently standing just behind Blair all this time. //We're going to a meeting now, with the leader of this place,// he told the Sentinel. //It might get a bit... uhh... loud.//

"That's one word for it," Daniel said half under his breath.

Enqueri looked after the departed Simon. //I had thought as much,// he replied. //It is much the same in councils everywhere I believe.//

Daniel grinned as they started heading towards the briefing room. //He has a point,// he said to Blair, speaking in Enqueri's language as a courtesy.

//Maybe it's a universal constant.//

They walked in silence for a few minutes before Daniel spoke again, this time in English. "You going to tell me what's going on with you and this Guide thing?"

Blair glanced at Daniel. "Hell if I know," he finally answered with a sigh.

"When we walked in on you, you were… uh..."

"Yeah." He shook his head. "I don't know how it happened. One minute we're talking and the next..."

Daniel watched him for a moment. "This is a new development, isn't it?"

"Of course it is!"

"Okay," Daniel said, holding up his hands in a warding gesture. Behind them Blair could feel Enqueri tense. "I was just asking."

Blair forced himself to take several deep breaths, telling himself that Daniel was his friend and that the question was a legitimate one. "Sorry, Daniel," he apologized. "It's just... This is some weird shit I'm dealing with here. It's got me off-balance." As he calmed, he could sense the tension easing in his Sentinel as well.

'He's tuned right into my emotional state,' Blair realized, some part of his brain taking notes on yet another aspect of Sentinel abilities vis a vis the Guide-Sentinel relationship. The rest of his brain was still too stunned to do much reacting at all.

Daniel nodded, wordlessly accepting Blair's apology. "That I can believe."

Sighing, Blair gave his friend a rueful glance. "How do I get myself into these things?"

"You're asking *me*? I'm the one who accidentally got married remember?"

"Yeah, well..." Blair glanced over his shoulder at the man following him so closely. "I think I've outdid you this time, my friend. At least you knew what to *do* with a wife."

Daniel smiled. "You'll figure it out Blair." He clapped a hand to his friend's shoulder. "Think of it as chance to do some real in-depth research on Sentinels."

'Sticking my tongue down my research subject's throat isn't exactly an accepted information gathering practice,' Blair thought, suppressing the sudden urge to giggle hysterically.

Before he could reply to Daniel they reached the conference room. Pausing before the door, Daniel turned to him and asked, "You ready?"

"No," Blair answered honestly. "But what choice do I have?" With that he took a deep breath and stepped into the room, with Daniel beside him and Enqueri a step behind.

When they entered, everyone in the room turned to see who it was and stopped talking when they saw Enqueri. The silence stretched out and the eyes stayed on him as Blair uncomfortably moved to take his seat, Enqueri still following him and placing himself behind Blair's chair when the anthropologist sat down.

General Hammond shot a glance at Captain Banks before focusing his attention onto Blair. "Dr. Sandburg," he began.

"General," Blair responded with a respectful nod. He didn't offer any explanations just yet, knowing that once he did start trying to explain he was going to go straight into babble mode if he wasn't careful.

The question wasn't long in coming. "Would you care to explain why you've brought your Chopec friend with you to a closed meeting?"

"I had to, General."

"You 'had to'?"

Blair nodded, trying not to squirm under the General's gaze. "Yessir." He took a deep breath and tried to explain. "Enqueri here is the Sentinel I told you about..."

"I know that, son. I read Dr. Fraiser's report. She said that he had gone into some kind of catatonic state and that you brought him out of it. But that doesn't explain why you brought him here."

"Actually, yes it does." At the General's confused look Blair elaborated, his words practically tumbling over each other in his rush to get them out. "Enqueri zoned -- err went catatonic -- because he lost control of his senses and they overwhelmed him. That was partially because of the new alien environment the base is for him and partially because he'd lost his focus."

Before the perplexed looks had a chance to fully form on the faces of his listeners, he explained. "Every Sentinel has a partner, a Guide, who works with them, watching their backs when needed and helping them control their senses. A Sentinel needs this Guide to function. Enqueri's Guide was killed in the attack and I... uhm... sorta stepped into his place. He's bonded to me as his new Guide, so now he needs me to function. That's why he went crazy earlier, in quarantine -- he needed me to maintain control of his senses and when he couldn't find me he kinda snapped. He needs me, General, to stay focused and in control. That's why I had to bring him."

The General didn't answer right away, looking speculatively at the man who stood so stoically behind Blair's chair. "Can't one of his own people take over as this Guide?" he finally asked.

Blair shook his head; somehow knowing instinctively this was impossible. "He's bonded to me."

"Well can't you just get yourself unbonded?"

For the second time that afternoon, Blair fought down hysterical laughter. That question was just *so* typical of the military mind. "It doesn't work that way, sir. Once a... connection... is formed between a Sentinel and his Guide it can't be transferred or broken. Well, short of death anyway." Even the thought made Blair shiver reflexively.

The General frowned. "What are you planning to do then when the Chopec are relocated, Doctor?"

Blair fought the urge to turn and glance up at the man standing behind him. "Enqueri and I have discussed that sir. He's asked to be allowed to stay here when his people leave. With me. He says... uhh... 'A Sentinel follows where his Guide leads.'" The anthropologist shrugged self-consciously. "It's not a perfect solution, but given our options, it's probably the best one, since I doubt that I'd be allowed to go with him and the Chopec."

"I can't give you an answer on a request like that right away, son," the General warned, though his expression was by no means as closed and foreboding as it had been.

"I know that, sir." Blair spread his hands. "You asked, I answered."

General Hammond nodded, then glanced at the Sentinel still standing behind Blair. "Is there some reason he's looming over you Doctor?"

Blair glanced over his shoulder. "I think he's trying to be unobtrusive."

"He's not succeeding." Hammond waved his hand at an empty chair. "Tell him to take a seat. As long as he's here we may as well see if he has anything to contribute to the discussion."

Blair relayed the request to Enqueri who nodded and took the offered chair. //What is it your leader wishes to know?//

Daniel answered him. //We're trying to figure out why the goa'uld targeted your people.//

Enqueri frowned. //I do not understand. Is that not what the ...goa'uld... do? You have said your people have fought them before.//

Blair translated Enqueri's words for the others before answering the Sentinel. //They don't usually attack on such a large scale. They were trying to destroy the Chopec, not subjugate them.// He paused and repeated his words in English before continuing. //They usually only do that when they feel that there is a threat to them. Do you have any idea why they might have thought that about the Chopec?//

//I do not see how,// Enqueri answered, spreading his hands. //The Chopec are a simple people. We do not have the means to challenge the power of gods. Even false gods such as these.//

There was a general disappointed sigh at the table when Blair translated that. "Okay," General Hammond said, taking control of the meeting once more. "Looks like we're going to have to figure this out the hard way after all. So let's start at the beginning again..."

Blair sighed and settled back in his chair. It was going to be a long meeting.

******

Blair flopped down on his bed with a groan.

Long meeting had proven to be an understatement. Marathon session had been more like it. And coming on the heels of what had to be one of the longest and most traumatic days of Blair's life, it had left him drained more than usual.

'Man, when was the last time I got some sleep?' he wondered, rubbing a hand over his face. 'Seems like a million years ago.' Though, when he took the time to think back, he found it hadn't even been a full 24 hours yet. 'So I haven't been awake for forever, it just feels that way.'

A soft sound made him open his eyes and look at the man standing uncertainly in the doorway of his quarters. //Stop hovering and come in and sit down. We're going to have a long conversation and we might as well be comfortable when we have it.//

Enqueri walked over and sat on the edge of the bed beside the anthropologist, scant inches away. Blair sighed, both more relaxed and more anxious at the other man's closeness. Briefly he considered moving but decided it was too much effort.

//What is it you want to talk about?// Enqueri asked.

Blair peered up at the man. //What do you think? This whole-// he gestured broadly with one hand //-Guide thing. What exactly have I gotten myself into here? I mean, what happened earlier, when you- when I- when we-// he broke off, with a frustrated sigh, waving a hand between the two of them. //You know, what happened earlier. What was that about?//

Enqueri frowned in puzzlement. //Do your people not kiss?// he asked, one hand reaching out almost absently to play with Blair's hair.

The anthropologist shivered at the casual intimate touch. //Sure we do. But kisses like that are usually reserved for someone who you-// 'Love.' //-know better.//

//You are my Guide,// Enqueri answered with a shrug as if that explained everything. His fingers continued to fiddle with Blair's hair.

//Yeah but you've only known me for a week! And for most of that time you thought I was crazy!//

Enqueri smiled faintly. //Yes.//

//'Yes'? Is that all you have to say?// Blair struggled up onto his elbows, turning slightly towards the other man. //A week ago you met this man you thought was crazy and now you're sticking your tongue down his throat but it's okay because he's your Guide?// He shook his head. //I just don't get it.//

//I do not understand. What is there to get Blair Sandburg?//

//It's just Blair, okay?// Blair interrupted. //You don't have to say my full name every time.//

Enqueri nodded. //Blair,// he repeated with a smile and another nod.

//You see? That's just it -- you don't even know which name to use!//

//But I know your soul,// Enqueri said, his eyes serious, as he leaned closer. //And you know mine.//

Blair looked up into the startlingly blue eyes. //Do I?// he whispered, even as a voice deep inside confirmed the Sentinel's words.

Enqueri smiled warmly and Blair caught his breath at its brilliance. //You are my Guide,// he repeated. //How could you not?// And with that he closed the distance between them, covering Blair's mouth with his own.

As had happened before when they had kissed, Blair found himself responding wholeheartedly. If he had thought about it at all he would've been wondering why he wasn't freaking out at this, it was so far outside his experience and expectations. And not just because Enqueri was male, though he'd be lying if he said that wasn't part of it. But it was this deep feeling of rightness, this instant connection, the total lack of alarm he was feeling that caused the real alarm. Any sexual interest he was feeling -- and he *was* feeling more than a little -- was almost incidental.

Enqueri's tongue teased lightly at his lips, and Blair willingly parted them, gasping slightly as Enqueri's tongue then slipped inside.

Okay, maybe not *that* incidental.

By the time he mustered up the willpower to push Enqueri away and sit up, he was panting in reaction and his pants were noticeably tighter. He raised a hand to push back his hair, then dropped it again when he noticed it trembling.

//What *was* that?// he asked, his voice much higher pitched than normal.

//That?// Enqueri repeated and Blair could hear the smile in his voice even though he didn't turn to look at the man. //That was a kiss.//

//I *know* that!// Blair glanced irritably at the Sentinel. //I meant why did you do it?//

Enqueri looked puzzled. //Did you not wish me to?//

//No!// Then, knowing that wasn't the complete truth, //Yes. Maybe. I don't know.// He jumped up and began pacing.

The Sentinel said nothing, just sat and watched.

//Is this a Sentinel/Guide thing? Because if it is, I'll do it, I promised I'd be your Guide and I intend on keeping that promise. I just need to know what I need to do, okay?// He stopped and faced Enqueri. //So tell me, what do I need to do?//

Enqueri stared at him -- through him -- for a moment then nodded. //We must complete the bond that was started.//

//Okay. Complete the bond. This is good. I can do that.// He paused then asked rather sheepishly, //Uhm, how do I do that?//

//We must join physically to symbolize our spirits joining.//

//Physically?// Blair squeaked. //By that you mean we have to uhm...// Unable to figure out how to finish the sentence, he resorted to gesturing with his hands to make clear what he meant.

Enqueri smiled slightly. //Yes.//

"Oh god..." Blair could feel the blood draining from his face.

Enqueri was at his side in an instant. //Blair?// he asked, his voice thick with worry, as he reached out a steadying hand.

//I'm all right.// He took a deep breath and forced himself to smile at the man. //Shall we get started?//

Enqueri didn't move, merely stared at him, frowning a little.

//What?// Blair asked, feeling even more jumpy.

//You haven't done this before have you?//

Blair flushed. //Sex? Sure I have! Plenty of times, lots of times. Just not uhm...//

//Just not with a man?//

He nodded, unable to look Enqueri in the eye. How did he get himself into situations like this?

A hand reached out and tilted his chin up, forcing him to meet Enqueri's gaze. The caring and understanding he saw there sent a warm feeling through him that went a long way to dispelling his embarrassment and apprehension. //I will not do anything you are not comfortable with,// the Sentinel vowed.

//I know,// Blair replied, realizing that he did know that. //Just... can we take it slow?//

Enqueri smiled. //As slow as you need.// He reached out and brushed Blair's hair back from his face. //Can I kiss you again?//

The question sent an unexpected heat to pool in Blair's groin. In answer he reached out and, holding Enqueri's face steady, leaned in and captured the other man's mouth.

Again the feelings of rightness, of connection surged through him, along with a healthy dose of sexual arousal. This time though, Blair didn't fight it, instead surrendered to it, pulling the Sentinel closer as the kiss deepened and lengthened. He tentatively darted his tongue out, and Enqueri's lips parted, immediately granting him entrance.

For the longest time they just stood there kissing, Blair unsure of how to proceed and Enqueri seemingly content to go at the anthropologist's speed.

Not that the kiss itself wasn't satisfying. Quite the opposite really. Blair had had orgasms that weren't as intense as just kissing Enqueri was proving to be, entire relationships that weren't as satisfying as this one moment. Once he had gotten past the weirdness of it, the feelings were incredible, totally mind-blowing.

He briefly wondered, that if a simple kiss could engender this kind of response in him, what the rest was going to feel like. And if it was this intense for him, how much more so must it be for the Sentinel?

The thought sent yet another bolt of arousal through the anthropologist's body and he shivered.

Feeling the shiver Enqueri pulled back slightly, breaking the kiss. //You all right?// he asked in a huskier voice than normal, his blue eyes bright with concern.

Blair just stared at the man with wide eyes, unable to remember how to speak. Instead he answered with actions, pushing the Sentinel down onto the bed and quickly following, blindly seeking out his mouth again to resume the kiss.

Enqueri chuckled at his actions, and Blair could feel the vibrations of the sound as it rumbled through the Sentinel's chest reverberating in turn through his own body. He gasped and moaned, as the laughter's caress seemed to travel straight to his cock.

Then Enqueri's hands were moving, threading through Blair's long hair, stroking down his back and buttocks, fumbling at what to the Chopec were the very unfamiliar fastenings on Blair's clothes, they seemed to be everywhere, even as he continued gently devouring Blair's mouth. Blair moaned louder, gradually losing himself under the sensual assault.

He wasn't sure how long it took, but eventually Enqueri managed to strip his shirt off, breaking off the kiss to pull the black T-shirt underneath over the anthropologist's head. Then the Sentinel wrapped his arms around the smaller man and pulled him back down, recapturing his mouth as he did so.

The feeling that ran through Blair as his bare chest touched Enqueri's seemed to steal what little ability for thought he had left. Unable to draw in enough oxygen through his nose, he broke off the kiss, laying his forehead against Enqueri's shoulder as he panted for breath, body shivering and shuddering in reaction.

Suddenly the world flipped and Blair found himself lying flat on his back on the bed with the Sentinel looming over him. He blinked dazedly up at the man, watching as he reached out and ran a finger down Blair's chest. The anthropologist groaned and arched up into the light touch, unable to believe exactly how turned on he was. And they hadn't done anything really interesting yet!

Enqueri's hand continued down over Blair's stomach, coming to rest on the fastenings of Blair's pants. He looked up, meeting the anthropologist's gaze. //May I--?//

Blair gasped and panted, tongue darting out to lick nervously at his lips. For a brief second his nervousness was back full force and he hesitated. But the thrum of arousal in his body was already so high that it would hurt more to stop than it could possibly hurt to continue. So he managed to say one word. //Yes.//

With permission given, Enqueri wasted no time in stripping off the rest of Blair's clothes. Then he sat back for a moment and just *looked*.

Blair couldn't help but squirm under that intense gaze, some part of his mind remarking that you'd never been really looked at until a Sentinel looks at you. Especially the way this particular Sentinel was looking -- eyes warm with affection and approval, and overlaying it all the heat of arousal and need. The longer Enqueri looked, the stronger Blair felt his own need grow.

The moment continued to stretch on until Blair thought he would go mad if Enqueri didn't touch him. Then Enqueri did and he felt like he'd go mad anyway.

He watched as the Sentinel reached out and lightly stroked the inside of his left thigh, from knee to hip. Blair caught his breath and squirmed even more, the caress raising goose bumps all over his body and causing his already hard cock to surge even more.

The movement seemed to catch Enqueri's attention and his hand wandered over and gently stroked Blair's cock, from root to tip before closing around it in a loose fist.

It was like someone had fired off every neuron in Blair's brain at the same time. He groaned loudly, hips jerking upwards involuntarily as he sought to increase the maddening light touches that were only making him crazier.

Somewhere along the line his eyes had closed so he didn't see Enqueri lean over and close his lips around the head of his cock. He certainly felt it though, when that warm moisture engulfed him, crying out as his hips bucked violently upwards.

Strong hands grabbed his hips and restrained him as Enqueri continued to use mouth and tongue to tease and caress his cock, until Blair was thrashing on the bed and moaning continuously, completely lost in the sensations.

Then suddenly, finally, Enqueri ceased his teasing and swallowed him whole. Blair thrust upwards once, twice, and screamed as he came.

Everything grayed out for Blair then; when he once again took in his surroundings it was to see Enqueri lying beside him watching him with the slightest hint of a smug smile on his lips.

//That-// His voice came out a harsh croak; Blair swallowed, licked his lips and tried again. //That was... intense.// He shook his head, unable to describe what had just happened any better than that. //I don't have the words.//

Enqueri's smile widened slightly. //I am glad.// He reached out and gently brushed a sweat-damp curl away from Blair's face.

Blair reflexively leaned into the caress with a contented sigh. He looked up at the Sentinel's face and noticed a certain hesitancy in his eyes. //What is it?// he asked, automatically reaching out and caressing Enqueri's face in turn. He figured it out before Enqueri could answer however. //We're not done yet are we?//

The Sentinel shook his head slowly, his gaze never leaving Blair's face. //No.//

//Oh.// Blair felt a wave of nervousness and anxiety flow through him once again but this time it was tempered by... anticipation.

The sudden tension in his body must've somehow communicated itself to Enqueri because he pulled back and his gaze lowered. //If you do not wish to-// he began in a quiet, emotionless voice.

//I thought you said we needed to... that it was a Guide-Sentinel thing.//

//It is but--//

//But?//

//I do not wish to force you to do something that you do not want to do.//

The quiet heartfelt words seemed to wrap around Blair like a warm blanket. Somehow they lessened his anxiety. He wasn't exactly sure how. Maybe it was because instead of telling him what they must do, Enqueri was now attempting to leave the choice up to him.

He had already felt connected to the Sentinel; now he felt a level of trust building as well.

//Is that why you only...// Blair trailed off, a blush rising to his cheeks as he gestured down at himself.

Enqueri nodded, his own face faintly tinged with red. //You were only consenting because I told you it was necessary. You did not really want to do it//

//You caught me by surprise. This whole Guide thing has caught me by surprise.// He reached out again, running a hand soothingly up and down Enqueri's arm. //But that does not mean I don't want to do it.//

//It does not mean you do want to either.//

Blair tightened the grip on Enqueri's arm. //I want to do whatever I have to do to help you,// he said in an even voice.

//But do you want to do *this*?// Enqueri persisted.

//Yes,// Blair answered honestly, meeting the other man's gaze clearly.

Enqueri gave him one of those piercing looks that seemed to be looking at Blair's very soul. Then he sighed and shook his head. //Your body tells another story.//

'My body?' Blair wondered and then realized that the Sentinel must be measuring his autonomic responses and jumping to conclusions. //So I'm nervous, okay? Give me a break -- I've never done this before! Doesn't mean I don't want to.// He could see that Enqueri wasn't buying it and went on the offensive. //Do you want to do it?//

Enqueri blinked. //I-//

//Yes or no,// Blair overrode him.

Enqueri opened and closed his mouth once or twice before answering. //Yes,// he replied, muscle in his jaw twitching.

//Then I don't see what the problem is. You want to, I want to, you say it's necessary part of the Sentinel-Guide bond...//

//But you don't-// Enqueri stammered.

//Let's get one thing straight right now, Enqueri.// Blair pinned the Sentinel with his eyes. //You may be able to tell a lot about me with those senses of yours, but don't presume to tell me how I feel. Now I said I wanted to go through with this, you said you wanted to go through with this, so why don't we just get on with it already?!//

Enqueri stared and drew in a breath to reply but before he could speak Blair warned, //You better not be opening your mouth to argue with me.// Enqueri closed his mouth.

//Good.// He deliberately raked his eyes down the Sentinel's body. //Now aren't you a little overdressed?// he asked pointedly, gesturing at Enqueri's pants.

Enqueri just stared at him.

Exasperated Blair reached out and began tugging them off himself.

That seemed to break Enqueri out of his paralysis. Strong hands came down and covered Blair's, stilling their movement. //What are you doing?// Enqueri asked, eyes wide with disbelief.

//Undressing you. What does it look like? And it would be a lot easier if you'd let go of my hands.//

Enqueri did not release his grip however. Instead he stared at Blair for a long moment, while Blair unabashedly stared back. //You are serious about this.//

Blair resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Wasn't that what he'd been telling the man for the last ten minutes? Instead he nodded solemnly. //I am.//

Enqueri closed his eyes and let out a deep shuddery breath.

When he didn't respond for a few seconds, Blair jostled his hands. //Hey.// Blue eyes opened and looked at him. //So are we going to get bonded here or what?//

That brought a trace of a smile to the older man's lips. Still smiling he leaned over and took Blair's mouth in a gentle kiss.

The kiss did not stay gentle for long. Almost immediately it deepened and turned passionate, tongues dueling and caressing each other. Blair shivered slightly as arousal once again flared through his system.

The grip the Sentinel had on Blair's hands gradually loosened and became caresses instead, guiding Blair in the removal of Enqueri's pants. All the while their mouths were never apart for more than a few seconds at a time.

Blair did pull back when Enqueri was finally naked, wanting to get a good look at the man. Kinda seeing what he was getting into, or more accurately, he thought, what would be getting into *him*.

The man was incredible looking -- a real poster boy for clean living. Tan, muscular, hard all over. Blair's eyes skimmed downward. Especially *there*.

Enqueri's cock stood proud and erect. Blair swallowed and shifted nervously. It wasn't much larger than average but considering where, if things went as planned, it was going to end up, it suddenly seemed *huge* to the anthropologist.

But mixed in with his apprehension was more than a little excitement, a reaction he could only attribute to the Sentinel-Guide thing. When Enqueri ran a hand down the anthropologist's bare flank it wasn't fear that caused him to shiver.

//Okay?// the Sentinel asked, continuing to run his hand soothingly over Blair's skin, obviously having noticed where Blair's attention was.

Blair nodded. //Yeah. Fine.// His voice became a bit breathless as Enqueri's touch became anything but soothing.

Enqueri seemed perfectly content to just continue stroking the younger man, his light touches seeming to find every hot spot on Blair's body. //We need something to prepare you,// he said when he had the anthropologist panting and wriggling, unable to lie still.

It took a few seconds for the words to penetrate Blair's rather dazed brain and even longer for him figure out an answer. //M-massage oil,// he panted, gesturing at the nightstand beside the bed. //In there.// He moaned and arched into the touch as Enqueri pinched a nipple.

Enqueri reached over and opened the drawer, retrieving the small bottle of oil that Blair had pointed out. Then he gently urged Blair over onto his stomach. Blair complied easily enough, but could not help the little flare of apprehension he felt or restrain himself from shifting nervously.

*Easy.// He felt Enqueri's hands running lightly over his back, soothing and arousing him even more all at the same time. //I won't hurt you.//

Whether it was the words or the touches, Blair felt his nervousness slowly fade and the tension it caused drain out of his body. If he had any brainpower at all left at that moment he would've marveled at how easily the Sentinel had calmed his fears.

Enqueri continued with the light touches, hands gradually drifting lower on every pass until finally one finger darted into Blair's cleft. The anthropologist jerked, startled at the bolt of pleasure that shot through him when Enqueri's finger brushed against his opening.

He held his breath as the finger slowly began penetrating him, only letting it out when Enqueri stopped moving.

//Okay?// the Sentinel asked, rubbing the small of Blair's back while he gave him time to get used to the new sensation.

Blair nodded. //Yeah,// he answered, then gasped as the finger was removed and thrust back in, surprised at how much the movement was turning him on.

Enqueri continued the thrusting and almost unconsciously Blair found his hips starting to move with the rhythm.

//I'm going to try two fingers now,// the Sentinel warned, just before he suited actions to words. At first it was just a bit uncomfortable but that was quickly forgotten when Enqueri twisted his hand and a bolt of pure pleasure shot through Blair's body causing him to stiffen and cry out.

//Whatever you just did, do it again!// he ordered, still shivering a little from the aftereffects.

Enqueri complied, sending another wave of intense pleasure through the younger man's body. "oh man..." Blair moaned, raising up onto his hands and knees and shoving his hips back, encouraging Enqueri's fingers to go deeper.

By the time Enqueri finally pulled his hand away, Blair was panting and moaning almost continuously, totally lost in the sensations that the Sentinel was causing.

//Are you ready?// Enqueri asked, his own voice husky and strained as he guided his cock to Blair's opening.

In answer Blair shoved backwards, gasping as the head of Enqueri's cock breached him.

Enqueri held there, giving Blair time to get used to the invasion before pushing forward a little bit more and then once again waiting. He continued like that, push then wait, push then wait until he was all the way in.

By the time the Sentinel's balls finally rested against him, Blair was covered in a fine sheen of sweat, panting for air as tiny tremors shook his body. Enqueri had kept his promise; it hadn't hurt but the feelings were so intense that Blair was sure he'd go crazy if he didn't come soon.

Then Enqueri started moving, pulling out and thrusting back in and Blair realized he hadn't known what intense was.

All higher brain functions shut down, leaving Blair only instinct and feeling. Each thrust within him that Enqueri made only drove Blair's arousal higher and higher, his world narrowing only to the cock that was pounding him and the hand that had snaked around and was now gently pumping his erection in counterpoint.

There was a second in the instant before he climaxed, where suddenly somehow everything snapped into focus and he was aware of every cell in his body -- and every cell in the man who was behind him, inside him. In that second he could see the connection forming between them, solidifying and strengthening as he watched.

Then he was coming, screaming as wave after wave of the most intense pleasure he'd ever felt coursed through him.

This time he blacked out.

*****

Blair wasn't sure how much time had passed when he woke up, but he did have the sense that it was more than a couple of minutes.

He lay with his eyes closed for a little bit, just taking stock of his body and its reactions. He was lying on his back on what felt like his bed, a sheet pulled up to his waist. Shifting slighting and tensing certain muscles made him aware of a steady ache that reminded him of what he had been doing before he lost consciousness.

*That* thought brought a smile to his face. Man, that had *not* been what he'd expected. Not that he was complaining. No one before had ever made him come so hard that he'd passed out. He wondered idly if that was because of the Guide-Sentinel thing or if Enqueri was just that good.

As he thought the Sentinel's name, he suddenly became cognizant of being totally aware of the other man. He knew, without opening his eyes, that Enqueri was laying on his side next to him, propped up on one elbow, just far enough away to not be touching, his eyes never leaving Blair's face. And that he was smiling.

Opening his eyes, Blair confirmed what he had sensed. A bit in awe of this sudden knowledge and newfound connection, for a moment all he could do was stare up at the man smiling so fondly down at him.

But as the silence between them continued and it became apparent that Enqueri was content to continue just smiling at him Blair finally realized it would be up to him to start any conversation.

//Uhh, hi.//

He felt like slapping himself in the forehead. He'd just had the best sex of his life with this man, was connected to him in some way he couldn't even begin to understand and the best he could come up with to say was "hi"?

Enqueri's smile widened. //Hello, Blair Sand-- Blair.//

//So,// Blair began overly brightly, //was it good for you?// 'Oh god,' he thought as soon as the words left his mouth. 'I've been reduced to cliches!'

Enqueri however seemed to take the question seriously. //Yes,// he answered, reaching out and running a caressing finger down Blair's cheek. //It was very good.//

Blair found himself leaning into the brief caress, sighing in contentment. //Yes it was,// he agreed, feeling a rather dopey grin come to his lips.

Again silence descended, as they seemed to lose themselves in each other's eyes. But finally Blair looked away, breaking the mesmerizing contact.

//So… uh...// he asked looking everywhere but at the other man's face, //does this mean we're bonded now?//

//You tell me," Enqueri responded. //What do you sense?//

Blair closed his eyes and relaxed, and once again came that new awareness of the Sentinel's location and actions. //You,// he said simply, opening his eyes and looking up at Enqueri. //Where you are, what you're doing, how you're feeling.// He shook his head in wonder. //I never imagined...//

Enqueri just smiled.

A thought suddenly occurred to Blair, one that he supposed he should have thought of earlier. //If Incacha was your Guide that means you had this kind of bond with him, doesn't it?//

The smile faded and Blair could sense the roiling emotions lurking beneath the Sentinel's suddenly stony expression.

'Smooth move Sandburg,' Blair cursed himself, watching as Enqueri shut down. 'Gee, why don't you kick him in the balls when you're at it?'

Tentatively he reached out and laid a hand on the other man's arm. //I'm sorry,// he said, heartfelt and sincere. //This probably wasn't the best time to bring up Incacha.//

Blair both felt and "felt" the almost invisible flinch that ran through the Sentinel's frame at his former Guide's name. Instinctively he reached out, pulling the larger man into his embrace, providing what solace he could with his touch and his presence. 'I think I'll just shut up now.'

Enqueri held himself stiffly for a moment before relaxing into his Guide's arms and accepting the comforting. Finally, after what seemed like hours to the worried Blair, he stirred slightly and said one word. //Yes.//

//Yes what?// Blair had totally lost the thread of the conversation.

//We were bonded, ...Incacha... and I. Since our 13th season.// The Sentinel's voice was quiet and matter of fact, which only served to emphasize the pain in his eyes.

'Oh man...' Blair shivered as he thought about how intense Enqueri's connection with Incacha must have been. 'I can't even begin to pretend to be able to replace that...' //I'm sorry,// he murmured, wishing with all his heart he could somehow ease the other man's pain, bring Incacha back to life, *something*.

//So am I.// Enqueri sighed, and rubbed his face against Blair's hair. //The strange thing is, I think he always knew what was going to happen. He used to talk sometimes about me going on if something happened to him. Told me I'd find another Guide... I always told him he was crazy. *He* was my Guide. I could never bond with another.//

Oh. Blair tried not to react to those words but he couldn't stop himself from stiffening. Dammit, he didn't have the right to feel hurt -- it was perfectly natural and correct for Enqueri to feel that way. It had *not* been meant as a slight against him.

Didn't matter, he finally admitted to himself. It still hurt.

Tried to hide it as he might, Blair's feelings were easily interpreted by Enqueri. Pulling back slightly, he slipped a finger under Blair's chin and tilted it up to meet his eyes. //I was wrong,// the Sentinel said quietly.

//I--// Blair stopped when he realized he didn't know what to say. Didn't know if he should be feeling the warmth that flowed through him at Enqueri's last words. But felt it he did.

Again, Enqueri seemed to sense his feelings and leaning in, kissed him briefly. Pulling back, he smiled at his Guide. //Now, there is something you must do.//

//What?//

//Teach me your language?//

Blair blinked, taken off guard by the oh so practical request. It hadn't been what he'd been expecting. //Sure, of course! Whenever you want.//

//Now?//

//Uhm, sure.// The anthropologist sat up, pulling the pillows up behind him to lean against. He did his best to put all the intense confusing emotions aside for the moment and concentrate on teaching instead. //Anything in particular you want to start with?//

Solemnly, Enqueri reached out and touched Blair's chest. //With you.//

Blair shook his head. //You already know my name.//

//That is not what I meant.//

//I don't understand,// Blair began, frowning, then stopped as the answer came to him. 'Oh.' Reaching up and covering Enqueri's hand with his own he said clearly, "Guide."

Enqueri smiled, his eyes never leaving Blair's. "Guide," he said.

Blair reached out with his other hand and laid it on Enqueri's chest. "Sentinel."

Slowly, Enqueri's free hand came up and covered Blair's until their positions mirrored each other exactly. "Sentinel," he repeated softly.

The air between the two men suddenly felt electrically charged. Never once looking away from his Guide's eyes Enqueri brought one set of their joined hands up and reached out a single finger to caress Blair's lips. //And this?//

Involuntarily, Blair's tongue darted out to lick the Sentinel's finger. "Mouth," he managed finally.

"Mouth," Enqueri repeated, then leaned in, pausing only when his face was mere centimeters from Blair's. //And this?// he asked, then closed the remaining distance, covering Blair's mouth with his own.

Blair moaned softly, giving himself up wholly to Enqueri's attentions. When their lips finally parted it took him a moment to find his voice and even when he did it was huskier than normal. "Kiss."

Smiling, Enqueri repeated the word, then began nibbling down the side of Blair's throat. //And this?//

"Ohhh, umm, throat!" Blair gasped, tilting his head back to grant the other man greater access.

"Throat." Enqueri's mouth traveled up along Blair's jaw line till it captured his left ear lobe. //And this?// he breathed, his warm breath causing Blair to shiver in reaction.

"E-ear," Blair stammered, shivering again as Enqueri mouthed his earrings.

And so it went, with Enqueri nuzzling and caressing each body part and Blair providing the name interspersed with the gasps and moans of his ever-increasing arousal. By the time he had gasped out "Stomach" he found himself on the brink of climax.

Then Enqueri's mouth closed over his cock and Blair's hips jerked upwards. That was all it took to put him over the edge. With a wordless cry he came, body shuddering as Enqueri did all he could to prolong the waves of pleasure crashing over him.

It was several long moments before he started to calm. Enqueri released Blair's now softening cock to slide up beside the younger man and take him into his arms. //And that?//

//The body part or the act?//

Enqueri smiled. //Both.//

Blair returned the smile a bit self-consciously. "Penis," he mumbled.

The Sentinel, of course, had no trouble hearing him. "Penis," he repeated in the same tone as he had all the other words. //And the act?// he prodded, a teasing glint in his blue eyes.

'Just when did I lose control of the situation?' Blair wondered, blushing as he mumbled even quieter the answer. 'When I thought about teaching him English this is *so* not the way I'd pictured it!'

"Blow job," Enqueri repeated dutifully, while Blair blushed redder.

//Just do me a favor okay and don't use those words around others,// the anthropologist asked.

Enqueri seemed to take pity on him for his expression grew more serious. //I will never do anything to shame you in front of your people, Blair,// he said softly, his words having the weight of a vow.

//I know,// Blair whispered without thinking, only then realizing that he did indeed know that. Somehow, at a soul deep level he trusted the other man implicitly. 'All of which would probably freak me out if I hadn't already surpassed my freaked out limit about two revelations ago,' he thought. 'Besides,' he added with a yawn, 'I'm too tired to panic right now. This bonding to a Sentinel thing is exhausting!'

//You are tired,// Enqueri observed.

//Yeah, well... survive a goa'uld attack, bond with a Sentinel, have several sessions of mind-blowing sex, it's been a pretty full day.//

Enqueri nodded seriously. //You should rest,// he said, shifting pillows, blankets and Guide around until they were situated to his satisfaction. Blair would've protested if the position he ended up in hadn't been so damn comfortable.

//Sleep,// the Sentinel encouraged softly, as Blair's eyes closed. //I will watch."

Opening one eye, Blair looked up at him. //You need to sleep too,// he protested.

//I am not tired.// Blair looked at him skeptically. //Really,// Enqueri asserted. //I slept earlier, in the white room, remember?//

//Oh, yeah.// Blair yawned. His eyes drifted closed again. //The infirmary. Right.//

//You watched over me then, I will do the same for you now.// A hand began stroking Blair's hair gently and he sighed contentedly.

//Not necessary,// he muttered on the brink of sleep. //But thanks.//

Just as he was drifting off he heard Enqueri whisper, //I will always watch over you, Blair.// Then in English, a single word heavy with imported meaning.

"Guide."

******

'Man, I *hate* waiting!'

Blair paced the entire length of the conference room, telling himself he was *not* going to look at his watch again. He'd already looked at it five times in the last eight minutes. A glance downward. Okay, six in the last ten. But that was going to be the last time.

He told himself for the hundredth time that he had no reason to worry. General Hammond was a busy man, a military man; he would arrive at the exact moment of the appointment and not a second before. And there was still ten minutes to go until then.

He glanced at his watch again. Nine minutes.

From his position leaning casually against the wall, Enqueri watched his Guide pace with a distinct air of fond amusement. He was dressed in green uniform shirt and pants, the same as practically everyone else on base. Blair had to keep himself from startling every time he looked at the man; he just looked so much at ease in the outfit that was so different from his usual dress. In fact he looked more like he belonged here than Blair himself did!

Which, given the topic of this meeting with General Hammond, may not have been entirely a bad thing. If Enqueri looked like he fit in, it would be easier to convince everyone that he *could* fit in.

It had been one week since the goa'uld attack on the Chopec. One week since Incacha had died and Blair had accidentally become Enqueri's new Guide. One week since they had bonded.

'One week since my life and entire self-image has been turned upside down. Sometimes I don't think I'll ever find my balance again.'

It was definitely taking some getting used to, the whole Guide-Sentinel thing. Having Enqueri always around was enough of a change; it made Blair hyper aware of any sensory input that may possibly be a problem for his Sentinel. In the past he'd never really paid that much attention to bright lights or loud sounds, not the way he was having to now.

And that was the least of the changes. Harder to get used to was the bond that had formed between them, the sense of Enqueri's presence that was always in his mind now. It was beginning to sink in that there was no way Blair would ever be alone again, because even when Enqueri was not physically present, he was still *there*, looming quietly in the back of Blair's mind.

He figured it should be driving him nuts and that was even harder to get used to -- the fact that it wasn't. That it all seemed perfectly natural. At least until he started to think about it. Which he tried not to do too much.

But the hardest thing to get used to was his physical response to Enqueri. The Sentinel had only to touch him -- hell sometimes not even that, sometime a certain look was enough! -- and Blair would find himself instantly and completely aroused. An arousal that Enqueri was only more than willing to help him deal with.

He'd lost count of the number of times in the past week that Enqueri had made him come, often without asking or letting Blair reciprocate. And usually by the time Enqueri was through, Blair was in no shape to press the issue.

That inequality bothered him much more than the whole male-male thing. Though Enqueri was his first male lover, he was by no means the first man Blair had ever been attracted to. He'd just never had a chance to follow through on any of those attractions before.

So the fact that Enqueri was a man didn't bother him. What did bother him was that Enqueri was doing all the giving and he all the taking. At least in their sexual relationship. Blair had to admit, as Enqueri pointed out when he'd brought the subject up, that in other areas of their relationship the positions were reversed. That and Enqueri's agitation and discomfort when he'd asked about it were the reasons why Blair hadn't pushed the issue any farther.

But it still bothered him.

The past week had been a busy one, even if you didn't count his Sentinel trying to see how many times he could make Blair's brains melt. Along with Daniel, the anthropologist had been acting as translator whenever someone official wanted to talk to the Chopec. When he wasn't doing that, or pursuing his own research on the Chopec's culture, he was working with SG-14 and some of the command staff as they tried to find a new home for the Chopec. And in every spare minute left over (well at least the ones that Enqueri didn't jump him in) Blair had been continuing to teach Enqueri English.

He'd been amazed at how quickly the Sentinel had picked it up; it was only a week later and Blair would now say that Enqueri had a working, if basic, knowledge of the language. Enough at any rate that Blair was not having to translate everything any more.

Blair glanced down at his watch again; five minutes to go.

Yesterday, a world for the relocation of the Chopec had finally been settled on. The Chopec were scheduled to leave the next day. Which meant that Enqueri's grace period had ended and a decision had to be made one way or the other on whether he'd be allowed to stay.

And that was the purpose of this particular meeting and why Blair could not sit still while he waited for Hammond. Too much was riding on what the General had to tell him.

To tell them, he corrected himself, glancing once more over at Enqueri. Another glance at his watch. Three minutes.

"Relax," Enqueri told him as the speed of Blair's pacing increased. He spoke in English, as he did as often as he could the last few days. "Hammond will come when he comes."

Blair sighed and stopped pacing. "That's not what I'm worried about," he said, glancing at his watch again.

Enqueri opened his mouth to respond then closed it again, grinning. "You are jumping."

"Jumping?" Blair shook his head in confusion.

"Yes." Enqueri demonstrated what he meant, rocking back and forth onto the balls of his feet, just as his Guide was doing. "Jumping."

"You mean bouncing!"

"Ahh. Thank you. You are bouncing."

"I suppose I am," Blair admitted, looking down at his feet. Even now that he was aware of what he was doing he found himself incapable of standing still. "My mother always told me I have too much nervous energy."

Enqueri cocked his head to the side and studied the younger man for a moment. Then he reached out and laid a hand on Blair's shoulder. "Relax," he repeated. "Everything will be as it is meant to be."

And, just like that, Blair was calm, his nervousness disappearing as if it had never been. "How do you *do* that?"

Enqueri just smiled and remained silent.

Before Blair could pursue the issue any farther General Hammond finally arrived.

The General nodded to each of them in turn then gestured at the table. "Dr. Sandburg, Enqueri, please have a seat."

Blair and Enqueri both complied, taking the two chairs across from each other at the end of the table. Blair's nervousness had returned full force and he fidgeted where he sat as he waited for Hammond to speak.

Which the General did after settling into his own chair at the head of the table. "I'm sure you're both aware of the reason for this meeting," he began, his gaze flicking back and forth between the two men.

Nodding, Blair answered, "The Chopec are leaving tomorrow which leaves Enqueri's status up in the air."

"You've requested that he be allowed to stay."

"He *has* to, General! You can't force him to leave! Without a Guide he'll-" Blair managed to stumble to a stop when the General held up a hand.

"Take it easy son. Permission's been granted."

All the air left Blair's lungs in a whoosh. "Thank you General, sir," he said, profoundly grateful. He let the half-formed contingency plans fade from his mind.

Enqueri nodded and echoed his Guide's words.

General Hammond waited a moment before continuing. "There is, however, the question about what do we do with the two of you."

Blair exchanged glances with Enqueri as he felt a little of his earlier nervousness return. "And the answer would be...?"

The General didn't answer right away, Instead he asked, "I'm to understand that the two of you have to remain together, is that correct?"

"More or less," Blair replied. "Now that everything's settled down, I don't need to stay in his back pocket all the time but I wouldn't feel too comfortable getting too far away. It's just too dangerous."

"So you wouldn't be able to go on a mission through the Stargate and leave him behind."

Blair shook his head. "That would be as bad as forcing Enqueri to leave with the Chopec without me. Our... connection... is more stable now, but we still have to pretty much be on the same planet."

He had some idea where this was going and while he couldn't say he was happy about it, it was the least he could sacrifice after what Enqueri'd had to give up.

The General's next words were what he had expected. "In that case I'm going to have to remove you from SG-14, Doctor."

Blair nodded. "I understand sir."

Enqueri opened his mouth to protest, but shut it again when Blair sent him a quelling look.

"A temporary replacement will be assigned pending the completion of Enqueri's evaluation and training," the General continued.

Blair blinked. "Temporary?"

The General nodded. "Once Enqueri is certified for the proper clearances you'll both be assigned to work with SG-14." He paused when he took in Blair's flabbergasted expression. "Is something wrong Dr. Sandburg?"

"No, no, not at all," Blair replied, coming out of his befuddlement. "I just thought--" He trailed off with a shake of his head.

"You thought what -- that you were being removed permanently?" Hammond shook his head. "Son, that would be a waste of resources. SG-14 needs your expertise, and if everything you've told us about Enqueri is true we'd be crazy not to place him where his abilities would be of the most use."

"Yeah. I guess I just didn't..." Blair let his voice trail off before he could complete the thought. Somehow he figured that telling the General that he hadn't expected the military to actually look at the facts and do the logical thing would not go over very well.

The General seemed to divine what he didn't say anyway. "Sometimes, Doctor, the military does make the right decision."

Blair flushed. "I didn't mean-"

"Yes you did. And considering some of the decisions that have been made in the past in similar circumstances I can't blame you. Hell, there've been times I've even agreed. But it seems even the military can learn from its mistakes."

"I'm glad to hear that, sir," Blair said, with a tentative smile.

"So was I, son. So was I."

"So what does this all entail? Just running Enqueri through the training program?"

"It's a bit more complicated than that." Now the General looked a little uncomfortable. "They want to run some... tests, figure out just what exactly Enqueri can do, and, if possible, how."

Blair's insides tightened in apprehension at that news. But he tried not to read anything implicitly sinister into it. "That makes sense, I guess," he began doubtfully. "I mean, I've been meaning to run some tests myself, to establish a baseline so if anything goes wrong I'll have something to work from. It's just..." he trailed off, glancing at Enqueri.

"You're worried that they'll go overboard," Hammond finished.

"To put it mildly."

General Hammond's mouth quirked up in a quick smile. "So was I. That's why I got you assigned to the testing personnel, based on your credentials as an expert on Sentinels. You'll have full veto power over any tests or procedures that you feel step over the line."

Blair gaped at the General. This surpassed all of the scenarios he had envisioned by a long shot. He would have access to all of the sophisticated equipment and testing facilities that the military could provide but wouldn't have to give up control of the situation in the process. He'd be able to learn everything about his Sentinel without putting him at any undue risk.

The General watched as a wide grin slowly appeared on Blair's face. "I take it this meets with your approval, Dr. Sandburg."

"Are you kidding? This is so beyond what I was expecting. It's great, General, perfect!"

Even the General was unable to avoid returning the smile when Blair was this exuberant. He turned his attention to the other man. "What do you think, Enqueri? Is this arrangement satisfactory?"

"If my Guide thinks it is all right, then it is," the Sentinel replied.

"You have no problem with the testing of your abilities?"

Enqueri spread his hands. "Whatever my Guide asks of me, I will do."

Blair swallowed, once again feeling the awesome responsibility this Guide business imparted to him. Being that responsible for another human being, and not just any human being but one that he...

Before he could complete the thought or work himself into a panic attack, blue eyes from across the table caught and held his own. Just like that, he felt himself calming, felt all his fear and worry dissipate. 'I've got to figure out how he does that!'

If the General noticed any of the strange by-play between the two men, he ignored it. "All right then. You're both off duty until the day after tomorrow when you're to report to the infirmary at oh-eight-hundred for complete physicals. If there's nothing else...?"

Both Blair and Enqueri shook their heads. "Good. Dismissed."

******

Enqueri and Blair spent the rest of the day with the Chopec, Blair acting as translator as they prepared for their move and Enqueri just saying goodbye.

Not that Enqueri admitted to doing such a thing -- he was "merely helping them organize for the move", but Blair knew better. Even without their link, he would've been able to tell just from observing: the long intense looks Enqueri was giving everyone, the little touches far more numerous than necessary. It was obvious that the man was storing up memories for when he would lose his people.

All afternoon Blair found his attention drawn back to the Sentinel again and again, to the point that he kept losing the thread of what he himself was doing. It was just that every moment was so poignant, so full of meaning that he felt he had to bear witness to it.

After all, Enqueri was giving up all this -- his people, his home, his way of life -- to stay with Blair. He couldn't let that pass unnoticed.

Or unremarked. So it was that while heading back to his quarters -- which Blair was already beginning to think of as 'their quarters' -- that Blair felt the need to apologize.

"I'm sorry."

Enqueri looked at him in surprise. "For what?"

"For that." He gestured back the way they had come. "For making you say goodbye to the Chopec. For being the reason you have to say goodbye. I'm sorry."

A muscle in Enqueri's jaw started twitching. "That is not your blame."

"Fault, that is not my fault. And yes it is!" Blair opened the door to their quarters and stormed inside, then whirled around to face the other man. "Maybe not on purpose but it is still my fault. If I wasn't your Guide-"

"If you were not my Guide I would be dead. I already have told you that."

Blair shook his head. "Only if you did not have a Guide at all. But you should have a Guide from the Chopec. Not someone who will rip you away from all you've ever known."

Enqueri was silent for a moment, then crossed the room and laid his hands on Blair's shoulders. When he spoke it was in his native Quechua. //You were meant to be my Guide. Incacha,// his voice caught a little on the name, //knew this. He asked you to be my Guide, did he not?//

Blair nodded, eyes downcast. That much was true. But he wondered, if there had been others in that clearing... //It wasn't like he had much of a choice. None of us did.//

//Granted,// Enqueri allowed. //But what is done is done. Regrets cannot change things. We must live with how things are. Are you willing to do that?// Solemn, serious blue eyes looked down into Blair's.

//You know I am. But what about-//

A hand reached out and gently covered Blair's mouth, stilling his speech. //No. No more buts. I will discuss it no further.// He held Blair's gaze until the anthropologist sighed and nodded in acquiescence.

Then Enqueri's hand slid from Blair's mouth, down to cup his chin. //Good,// he said leaning in to kiss the other man. //There are much better things we can do with our mouths than argue over things we cannot change.//

With a sigh, Blair gave himself up fully to the kiss and the wild feelings that Enqueri's touch always seemed to inspire in him. But somewhere in the back of his mind, he continued to worry at the problem.

Maybe regrets couldn't change the past. But they might change the future.

*******

The Chopec and SG-14 with them -minus Blair- were scheduled to leave for their new home early the next morning. Blair had asked Enqueri if he wanted one last chance to say goodbye. The Sentinel had been quiet for a long moment and then had said just one word: "Yes."

So it was that the next morning, when SG-14 and the Chopec made it to the gate room Blair and Enqueri were already there waiting for them.

"Hey Sandy!" Megan greeted Blair with a warm smile. "Thought you were sitting this one out."

"I am. We just came to see you off."

"Figures Sandburg," Simon grumbled. "The one time you're actually on time for a mission is when you're not going."

Blair grinned cheekily at the Captain. "I had to be didn't I? This time you really would've left without me instead of waiting."

"We're going to do that anyway Hairboy," Rafe teased.

"Ahh, but not before Enqueri's had a chance to say goodbye." He nodded towards the Sentinel who had already turned his attention to the just entering Chopec. Blair turned his gaze on Simon. "Just give him five minutes Captain. Please."

Simon stared at Blair for a long moment then turned his head to look at Enqueri, surrounded by the Chopec and talking quietly. Then he nodded. "Five minutes." His voice was a lot less gruff than usual. "I can't give you much more than that."

"It'll have to be enough. Thanks Simon." He turned to go over and join Enqueri, not to infringe on his private good-byes but just to be near in case he was needed.

He'd barely taken two steps when a high pitched voice yelled, "Blair!" and he suddenly had an armful of little girl as Nanna threw herself at him, completely confident that he would catch her.

//Did you hear Blair? We're going to our new home today! Are you coming with us?// The words came out in an excited torrent. Blair couldn't help but smile when he remembered the terrified silent child he had rescued and saw how she was now: grinning, eyes shining, babbling excitedly a mile a minute. Though he still had doubts about some of his actions and their outcomes that fateful day, he was grateful that they'd been able to save her.

//I'm sorry Nanna, I can't come with you,// he replied. //I have to stay here and help Enqueri.//

Nanna frowned. //Enqueri can come too. Ontayku will still let him be Sentinel for the tribe. He doesn't mean it when he says--" The little girl stopped with a gasp and put a hand over her mouth, eyes wide.

//When he says what?//

//I'm not supposed to say,// Nanna whispered, eyes downcast.

Blair's eyes narrowed. //What aren't you supposed to say Nanna?// He didn't like pressing the child like this, but alarm bells were going off in his head. He needed to know what the Chopec leader had said about Enqueri.

When the girl answered it was in a voice so low he could barely hear her. //That Enqueri is no longer of the Chopec because he has bonded with an outsider.// She raised defiant eyes to Blair's face. //But you're not an outsider, Blair! You're my friend!//

Inwardly, Blair flinched. He knew Enqueri was staying behind because he was now his Guide; what he hadn't known and never would have guessed was that the Chopec would no longer consider Enqueri one of them because of it. His heart went out to his Sentinel at the thought of all he had given up.

He realized that Nanna was still looking up at him with wide eyes and he made himself stop thinking and answer her. //You're my friend, too, Nanna.//

The child smiled and hugged him.

Just then, Blair became aware of the little girl's mother calling her. //You better go back,// he told her, nodding in her parent's direction.

The little girl nodded, giving him one more quick hug before letting him go. //I'll miss you.//

Blair smiled and reaching out, pulled her back in for one last hug. //I'll miss you too Nanna. Be good. Be happy. Okay?//

//I will. 'Bye// With that Nanna scampered back to her mother's side.

And then the five minutes Simon had granted them were up and Blair and Enqueri had to move back as those who were leaving got organized and the Stargate was opened.

It hurt to watch the rest of SG-14 go off through the gate without him, a hurt that was only partially alleviated by the knowledge it was only temporary. Blair couldn't imagine how it must feel to Enqueri to watch everyone he'd known -- hell watch his whole life pass through the Stargate never to return. The loss was just too immense for Blair to wrap his brain around.

He turned and glanced surreptitiously at the man standing next to him. Enqueri was watching the Chopec go through the gate with a stoic expression on his face. Only the telltale muscle jumping in his jaw and the lost look in his eyes gave any hint to his real emotions.

Without even thinking about it Blair reached out and laid a hand against Enqueri's back. It was just a casual touch, to let him know he wasn't alone but it appeared to help; Blair could feel the muscles under his hand ease their tension just a bit. He wasn't too surprised then when Enqueri's hand in turn almost shyly came up and stroked Blair's back in an exact mirror of the position.

They stayed like that, watching until the last Chopec had passed through and the Stargate had deactivated, and for a moment or so after that. Then Enqueri sighed slightly and dropped his hand. When Blair would've maintained physical contact he moved away.

"It is done," the Sentinel stated flatly.

Blair stirred, half reaching out towards the other man, only to let his hand drop when Enqueri flinched away. The anthropologist felt his heart break even more. "Are you okay?" he asked softly.

A heartbeat passed, two, then three, before Enqueri finally answered, neither his face nor his voice changing expression. "No."

'God.' Again Blair reached out and again Enqueri flinched away. 'Let me help you!' Blair thought but didn't vocalize.

"I need to be alone for a time," Enqueri said, looking straight ahead and avoiding meeting Blair's gaze.

'No!' Blair's mind was screaming. 'That's the last thing you need to be right now.' But when he hesitated, Enqueri finally looked at him, a mute plea in his eyes. "Please," the Sentinel whispered.

Faced with that, Blair could do nothing but acquiesce. "Okay," he said quietly. He watched as Enqueri nodded gratefully and turned to leave. "Enqueri."

The Sentinel stopped and looked back at him, mute question on his face.

"Just- I'm here if you need me. Don't forget that okay?"

Enqueri's eyes softened and he nodded once. "I will remember." Then he walked through the door and was gone.

Blair stood where he was for a moment, bouncing in place as he resisted the urge to run after the other man. He had promised to give him some time alone and he kept his promises. But this one was taking every ounce of willpower he had.

He realized with a start that this was the first time since that original debriefing that Enqueri had been out of his sight for more than a few minutes. He didn't like not knowing exactly where the other man was; it made him feel edgy.

'You are *not* going to have a panic attack, Sandburg,' he told himself sternly. 'Learn to deal with it, because you're not going through the rest of your life attached at the hip to the man.'

After a few deep breaths, he managed to convince himself that he wasn't about to start freaking out. But some of the edginess remained and would continue to do so until he knew that Enqueri was all right.

And he wasn't sure when that was going to be.

******

Blair still wasn't sure the next morning. Everything appeared normal on the surface as he and Enqueri headed to the infirmary to report for their physicals, if anything about being a Guide to a Sentinel could be considered normal. But it was what was underneath the surface facade that had Blair worried, mostly because he wasn't sure what it was. And Enqueri wasn't talking.

The Sentinel had spent the better part of the day before by himself. From comments others had told him Blair had found out he'd spent most of it in the base's gymnasium working out. Blair himself had spent the day holed up in his quarters going through all the information he had on Sentinel's Guides; long overdue research that he'd wanted to do since becoming Enqueri's Guide but hadn't been able to find the time for.

Not that he managed to find much that was of any use. There was very little written that did more than hint at a Guide's position and duties. Most sources only mentioned it in passing, something along the lines of "To be able to function a Sentinel must have a Guide" and left it at that.

Which left Blair right back where he started: trying to be a Guide to Enqueri with nothing to go on but instinct. And he wasn't sure if instinct would be enough.

Especially as the day had worn on and Enqueri had not returned. By the time the Sentinel had finally appeared in the doorway to their quarters Blair had been practically vibrating with worry and tension and about two seconds away from breaking his promise to himself and going to look for the other man.

Enqueri had been a bit more somber than usual when he had returned but other than that had seemed all right. Outwardly.

Blair wasn't sure what was going on with the man behind the mask of calm however. Even the emotions he usually could feel through the Sentinel-Guide link were more muted than normal.

But when he had tentatively pressed Enqueri about his feelings regarding the Chopec's departure, the Sentinel had totally closed down. Blair had immediately backpedaled, berating himself for pushing too hard.

Several minutes afterward, Enqueri had approached him silently, reaching out and caressing Blair's cheek in silent apology, then leaned in and captured his Guide's mouth in a tender kiss. Which led to a discussion of sorts, all of it non-verbal.

When they had awakened that morning, Enqueri had once again withdrawn behind his stoic everything-is-fine facade. Blair had made a couple of tentative attempts to breach it but quickly backed off when they were rebutted. He wasn't willing to take a chance on alienating Enqueri; after all he was all the Sentinel had left.

It had made things a bit awkward as they had gotten dressed and headed to the mess hall for breakfast. But by the time they had finished eating and started for the infirmary, the tension had eased somewhat and things between them felt, if not exactly normal, at least more comfortable and less stilted.

Dr. Fraiser looked up and gave them a bright smile when they entered the infirmary. "Right on time," she greeted them cheerily.

"Hi Janet," Blair responded, smiling back. "Just don't tell Simon okay? It'll ruin my reputation."

"We wouldn't want that." She looked past Blair to the man standing a step behind him. "Hello Enqueri," she said. "I don't believe we were properly introduced last time. I'm Dr. Fraiser." She held out her hand.

Enqueri looked at her intently for a moment, assessing, before slowly reaching out and taking it. "You are Blair's friend."

Her eyes darted briefly to Blair before returning to Enqueri. "Yes I am."

Enqueri nodded firmly and released her hand. "Then I will treat you as one as well."

Dr. Fraiser nodded slowly. "Thank you," she said. "I am honored."

"So what exactly do you want from us, Janet?" Blair asked after the moment had passed.

The doctor became all business. "Complete physical work-ups on both of you, to see if there's anything physiological about the Sentinel phenomena. It'll also give me baseline readings for Enqueri for comparison if I ever have to treat him in the future." She sobered. "I'd prefer to prevent a repeat of what happened the last time he was under my care."

"Yeah," Blair agreed, grimacing. "You and me both." He shivered slightly, remembering how he'd found Enqueri the last time they'd been in the infirmary. Catatonic Sentinels were something most definitely to be avoided.

He considered briefly asking why, if it was the physiology of the Sentinel she was interested in, Dr. Fraiser wanted to examine *him*. But after a moment's thought he decided it wouldn't hurt to check and see if there were any physiological differences inherent with becoming a Guide.

"Right then," Dr. Fraiser said. "Shall we get started?"

The morning passed quickly as Blair and Enqueri were poked, prodded and otherwise medically observed and evaluated. Starting out with simple physical examinations and blood analysis, Dr. Fraiser then moved on to more esoteric tests.

EEG, MRI, PET, a veritable alphabet soup of procedures took up the rest of their morning. The tests they ran on Blair were quite a bit shorter than the ones they ran on Enqueri and the anthropologist began to wonder if he had been included only to make sure Enqueri did not feel singled out. He wouldn't have put it past Janet to do something like that.

He didn't mind if that was the case. Enqueri was in an alien enough situation without making him feel like a guinea pig as well. Blair didn't mind undergoing a few tests himself if it prevented that.

They broke for lunch around noon, with Dr. Fraiser promising to review the preliminary test results and tell them of anything that jumped out after lunch.

Enqueri had been even more silent than usual that morning and continued to be so as they sat down with their food in the mess hall.

"You okay?" Blair finally asked, unable to let it pass any longer.

"Yes." The answer was short, to the point and utterly unhelpful.

Blair tried again. "You've been pretty quiet."

This time Enqueri looked up and met his eyes. "What do you wish me to say?"

The anthropologist thought about it for a moment. "I don't know," he finally sighed. "Something. Anything." He reached for a topic, choosing the first thing that popped into his head. "How do you feel about this morning's tests?"

A brief look of unease skittered across the Sentinel's features before they settled back into their stoic stony facade. "My feelings do not matter. You said it was necessary."

"It is but-"

"Then there is nothing to talk about." Enqueri turned his attention back to his food and determinedly began eating again.

Blair stifled the urge to bang his head against the table repeatedly. How could he feel so close to someone and at the same time so completely shut out?

The rest of the meal passed in a rather uneasy silence, Enqueri seeming to retreat back into himself, and Blair unwilling to risk another rebuttal.

By the time they were finished Blair was almost eager to get back to the tests and research if only to escape the silence and the growing distance between himself and his Sentinel.

They returned to the infirmary only to be told when they got there that they were wanted in the main briefing room instead.

Waiting for them there were Dr. Fraiser and two other men, both in uniform, neither of whom Blair recognized. One was a colonel and one was a lieutenant, that much he could tell from their uniforms.

The colonel looked a bit young to hold such rank -- in his mid to late thirties. Good looking, with dark brown hair and piercing hazel eyes that seemed to light up as they raked assessingly over Enqueri, he gave Blair the creeps.

"Dr. Sandburg?" he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Colonel Brackett. I've been assigned to assist you on figuring out what makes your friend here tick."

Blair did not take the outstretched hand. "His name is Enqueri and he understands English quite well."

The colonel's smile faded and he dropped his hand. "Of course. No disrespect was intended." His eyes darted to Enqueri and back. "I'm pleased to meet both of you."

Enqueri looked at the man, his stony expression never changing.

"Uhh, yeah." Uncertainly the Colonel turned back to Blair.

With a hint of a smile Blair spread his hands. "I never said he was big on communicating."

Brackett floundered for a minute, looking like he was wondering just when he had lost control of the situation. Finally though he seemed to get himself back on track.

"Why don't you both have a seat and we can get started?" He gestured toward the table.

Once everyone had taken a seat, the colonel became all business. "I've read the reports SG-14 made regarding your last mission and your claims about Enqueri. I've also had a look at your previous Sentinel work, Dr. Sandburg. I must say it's impressive."

"Uh, thanks," Blair replied, startled by the compliment. He was far more used to being teased for the work he had done on Sentinels, for his obsession with them. Though, he had to admit it had to be a lot harder to dismiss his findings when there was living proof sitting beside him.

"These results of the tests you ran on Enqueri's senses on P8-935 -- how accurate are they?"

Blair shrugged. "As accurate as any field test could be. I'm pretty sure we didn't get anywhere near the upper limits of Enqueri's abilities though. There was just no way to measure it onsite. We would've needed a sophisticated lab setup to do that."

Brackett smiled. "Well now you have it, Doctor. Whatever you need to fully document the extent of Enqueri's senses you've got."

For a moment Blair was ecstatic -- finally he'd be able to see just exactly what Enqueri could do, and be able to prove just how amazing the Sentinel was. He glanced sideways at Enqueri, wanting to share his excitement and enthusiasm. The shuttered, withdrawn expression on the other man's face was like a splash of cold water. He felt his enthusiasm drain away.

Brackett had been observing him closely. "Is something wrong, Doctor?"

Ignoring the colonel for a moment Blair turned to Enqueri. //Are you okay with this?// he asked, speaking in Quechua for some level of privacy.

//I will do what is required,// Enqueri replied, his expression never changing.

//You sure?//

Enqueri's expression became, if anything, even stonier. //I will not shame you.//

//I *know* that!// an irritated Blair shot back. //That wasn't what I was asking. I need to-// Out of the corner of his eye he saw Brackett watching their exchange with interest. //Look, we'll talk about it later, okay?//

//I told you -- there is nothing to talk about.// The muscle in Enqueri's jaw had begun to jump again.

"Is there a problem?" the Colonel asked.

"No," Enqueri replied, speaking to the man for the first time. "No problem."

"Good. Doctor, I'll schedule time for you in the labs tomorrow. If that's okay?"

"Yeah, sure." Blair answered the Colonel absently, his eyes still fastened on his Sentinel.

Brackett seemed a little nonplussed at Blair's wandering attention but didn't say anything about it. Instead, he shuffled his papers and looked up at the woman who was sitting quietly on the other side of the table. "Dr. Fraiser, were you able to draw any conclusions from the tests you ran this morning?"

"I wouldn't say conclusions but there were some interesting results that have led me to form some theories," she replied.

This information was enough to at least partially divert Blair's attention from worrying about his Sentinel. "Yeah Janet?"

She smiled at Blair. "Yeah." She paused for a moment, as if organizing her thoughts before she began her report.

"First off, Enqueri is in excellent physical condition, which, given what he was doing before he came here, isn't all that surprising. The physical had no surprises. Some of the other tests however, did."

"Well don't keep us in suspense, Doctor," Brackett encouraged.

Pausing for a slight beat, she gave the Colonel an annoyed look before continuing. "The EEG showed more brainwave activity than normal. The PET showed increased blood flow to the areas of the brain that deal with interpreting sensory input."

"And this means...?"

"That Enqueri's brain seems to be better at interpreting sensory input; those areas of the brain are more active and work harder than the average person's."

"So a Sentinel is a Sentinel because of the way his brain works?" Brackett asked slowly.

"No." Blair flushed as everybody's eyes turned to him after he spoke. "I mean yeah, the brain wiring is probably part of it -- a Sentinel receives so much more data than an ordinary person that his brain would have to be more efficient in processing it. But it's more an effect of being a Sentinel, not a cause."

"Blair's right," Dr. Fraiser confirmed. "In my opinion the brain differences alone wouldn't explain the things that Enqueri can do."

The Colonel shook his head. "If that's not the cause, what is?"

"Best guess?" When Brackett nodded, she continued. "I would say that Enqueri is just more densely innervated than the average person -- he has more nerves so he can receive more information."

"Sounds logical. How would you go about proving or disproving your theory?" Brackett asked.

"That would be... difficult."

"Explain." The word was sharp, a barked order.

"To check this we'd have to do some pretty invasive procedures," Dr. Fraiser said.

//How* invasive?"

For a long moment Dr. Fraiser just looked at the Colonel. When she did start talking again, there was an angry undercurrent to her words. "To verify his sense of touch I'd have to remove a sample from a deep layer of skin, somewhere known to be sensitive would be best, like a fingertip. For the sense of taste, a section of his tongue would have to be removed. I don't think I could check his sense of hearing without leaving him deaf..."

Blair shuddered at the horrible litany. He looked at Enqueri to see how the words were affecting him. What he saw wrenched at his heart. The Sentinel's expression was the same as before, but his eyes... Blair had never seen eyes filled with such misery and resignation.

"But we're not talking anything fatal? Or even permanent? Well aside from the hearing..." Brackett asked.

Blair swung his head around to stare at the Colonel. //What?//

"Oh we won't do anything permanent, Doctor Sandburg." The Colonel airily waved away Blair's concerns.

"You won't be doing any of those things at all, permanent or otherwise!" Blair shot back, literally trembling in anger.

Brackett seemed rather surprised at the anthropologist's reaction. "I would've thought you of all people would want to find out what makes a Sentinel. Would want to get unequivocal scientific proof."

"By hurting what-- who --I'm trying to figure out?" Blair shook his head. "No way man. Not if I have anything to say about it. And I do."

"Do you?" The Colonel sounded amused.

"Oh you bet your uniform I do. Better check your orders Colonel. I'm the Sentinel expert. I probably know more about Sentinels than anyone on this planet. As such I've got veto power on any test that I think steps over the line. And this is so far over the line, it's in another time zone!"

Blair's voice had steadily gained in volume and agitation as he spoke. Now he paused and took a couple of deep breaths to center himself. When he continued his voice was once again quiet, but hadn't lost one iota of intensity. "I'm pulling the plug, Colonel, on this test and the whole damn thing. Enqueri isn't a guinea pig to be poked and prodded or a lab rat to be run through a maze for your edification." He pushed his chair back and stood.

"Doctor--" Brackett began in a conciliatory tone.

"Forget it," Blair overrode him. He glanced down at Enqueri, who was staring up at him with amazement, pride and relief. "Come on, Enqueri. We are *so* out of here."

Blair turned and left without another word, Enqueri right behind him.

******

Blair started heading back to his quarters but abruptly changed his mind and direction. He was so disgusted with the military at the moment that he really needed to get off-base before he said or did something that would really get him in trouble.

Besides, it was past time he showed Enqueri his real home.

He headed for the elevator up to the surface, Enqueri still following silently. Blair kept waiting for him to ask where they were going or comment on what had just went down, say *something*, but the Sentinel remained mute.

'Guess he still thinks we have nothing to talk about,' Blair thought as the elevator doors closed and they started the trip to the surface. He turned and stared at Enqueri's profile; the man's expression was as stoic as ever though Blair thought at least some of the tension in his shoulders had disappeared.

The door of the elevator opened and Blair was momentarily occupied with getting them past the guard stationed there. Once the man had verified their clearance and signed them out, they stepped into the second elevator, which would take them the rest of the way up to the surface.

Enqueri still had not said a word. 'Well that, my friend, is going to change,' Blair vowed silently. 'Once we get home we're going to have it out and you *will* talk to me whether you think you have anything to say or not.'

That decided, Blair stopped worrying about it for the moment. They exited the elevator and headed to the parking area where Blair's Covair was located.

Blair opened the driver's side door and slid in behind the wheel. Enqueri, after a moment's hesitation, opened the passenger side door and slowly climbed in. He shot Blair a questioning look, but still maintained his silence.

"It's a car," Blair explained, taking pity on him. "A form of transportation." At Enqueri's blank look he shook his head. "You'll see."

He put the key in the ignition and turned it, barely managing to suppress a grin when Enqueri jumped as the engine turned over. "It's okay," he said. "It's supposed to do that."

Enqueri gave him a dubious look and the grin slipped free. "Trust me, Enqueri."

The Sentinel's expression softened just a little. "I do," he said quietly, the first words he'd spoken since the confrontation with Brackett.

Then he added, "I am not sure I trust this... car... though."

"Are you kidding? This is my baby. Runs like a dream. She's never let me down." Blair stopped when he saw that Enqueri's dubious expression was back. "You'll see," he finished with a sigh.

Putting the car in gear, he pulled out and headed towards the exit, doing his best to ignore the sharp intake of breath and white-knuckled grip of his companion.

As the moments passed and nothing bad happened Enqueri slowly relaxed, though he never quite lost the dubious expression.

Twenty minutes later, Blair was pulling into his parking spot behind his apartment building. Shutting off the engine he turned to his companion. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" he asked brightly.

Enqueri just glared.

Blair chuckled, feeling a hundred times better now that they were away from the base and the added tension of the place. "Come on," he said opening the door and climbing out. "I'll show you my home."

Enqueri followed. "Your home?" he repeated, showing some interest for the first time.

"Yeah. Where I live when I'm off-duty."

Eyes alight with curiosity Enqueri followed Blair inside, up a flight of stairs and down the hall to the anthropologist's apartment.

Blair unlocked the door, but found himself hesitating before opening it. "I hope you like it," he said quietly, as he realized how much Enqueri's approval of a place that had so much of himself in it mattered.

Then he opened the door and led the way inside.

Enqueri followed, then moved past Blair to slowly prowl around the place.

Standing by the door, Blair watched nervously as Enqueri made a slow circuit, stopping to run a hand over the spines of the many books on the book shelf, looking with interest at the many weapons and other artifacts that decorated the walls and shelves, souvenirs from the various tribes Blair had studied over the years. The more modern conveniences, like the television and top of the line stereo were barely given a once over while the row of photos of friends and family was investigated thoroughly.

It reminded Blair of a cat he had owned when younger; when he had brought the animal home she had done just what Enqueri was doing -- investigated everything before deciding the place was up to her standards and settled in. He could only hope that the Sentinel would decide the same thing.

It seemed at least the living room had passed muster -- Enqueri had given everything the once over and had nodded faintly. Blair let out a short sigh of relief as he watched the man drift down the short hallway that led to the other rooms.

But when Enqueri reached out a hand to open the door that led to the bedroom Blair heard himself say, "No."

Enqueri said nothing, just turned to look at Blair with a questioning expression, waiting for him to explain.

Which Blair was more than willing to do... as soon as he figured it out for himself.

In the meantime he'd just stick to the facts. "That's the bedroom."

"You do not wish me to go in there?" Enqueri asked in a level voice.

"No." He saw a flash of something very much like hurt in the other man's eyes and he hastened to add, "At least not yet."

Enqueri seemed to consider that for a moment. "Why?"

And suddenly the answer was there. "Because if you go in there now, I'll follow you and you'll touch me or just *look* at me and we'll end up having sex. And I don't want that. Not until we talk."

He watched Enqueri frown and open his mouth and he immediately added before the Sentinel could speak, "And don't you *dare* tell me we have nothing to talk about. That is a load of crap."

Enqueri's frown deepened. "Blair-"

//No!* I don't know how things worked with Incacha but I *need* to know what is going on with you to be able to act as your Guide. So we *need* to talk. Otherwise I won't be able to do my job. Now I'm going to go back to the living room and sit down. I hope you care enough about this relationship to join me." Blair burned his gaze into the other man's. "Just be aware that by doing so, you're consenting to talk."

And with that Blair turned, walked back to the living room and settled on the couch.

A long tense moment passed in which Blair worried that he had pushed too hard, too far, that Enqueri wouldn't give in. But then he heard the floor creak softly a second before Enqueri came into his line of sight.

The Sentinel just stood there, staring down at his feet, looking like nothing so much as a little boy expecting a scolding. Blair patted the spot beside him. "Sit down," he said, softly encouraging. After a moment's hesitation Enqueri complied.

Some instinct told Blair to hold his tongue and leave the next move up to Enqueri, even as the silence stretched out uncomfortably between them.

Finally his patience was rewarded as Enqueri looked up, his emotions clear on his face, and said in a miserable voice, "I don't know what you want me to say."

Immediately Blair reached out and grasped his hand, squeezing it reassuringly. "You can start by telling me how you feel."

Again there was silence as he watched Enqueri struggle to find the words. The Sentinel's gaze dropped again as he whispered, "Alone."

Blair bit back his first inclination, which was to reassure the other man that he wasn't. Instead he just asked as gently as he could, "Why?"

A shrug. "Because I am."

Blair did not speak, waiting for Enqueri to go on.

"My people are gone. Incacha" -- Enqueri's voice broke on the name -- "is gone. Your people see me not as a person but as a thing, a puzzle to be solved. There is no one who sees *me*."

This time Blair couldn't restrain his comment. "I see you," he said.

Enqueri shook his head. "No you don't."

"Then what do I see?"

"You see the living proof of your work. You see a responsibility you did not need or want but that was forced upon you." Enqueri's tone was matter of fact, devoid of both accusation and self-pity. It made the words hit home even harder.

"That's not true," Blair whispered, shaking his head.

"Isn't it?"

"No. Okay, maybe when we first met there was some truth about that living proof thing. But it's gone *so* way beyond that now. As for the other, yeah, being your Guide makes you my responsibility but what makes you think it's one I don't want or need?"

"You said it yourself. You only became my Guide because there was no other choice. You did not want to do it."

For a long moment Blair just stared at Enqueri in disbelief. He couldn't believe that was what the other man thought. Though it did explain some of his reactions.

"You don't really believe that do you?"

"Why would I not? It is the truth."

Blair resisted the urge to jump up and start pacing. The last thing he needed to do at the moment was put more distance between himself and his Sentinel. Instead he took a deep breath and tried to figure out how to explain to Enqueri exactly how wrong he was.

Finally he just decided to open his mouth and let his heart speak for him.

"All my life I've always felt like there was something missing, that there was something I should have, something I should be doing. I just never knew what it was. There have been times when the feeling wasn't as strong but it's never gone away completely.

"Until now. Ever since we bonded, the feeling's just disappeared." He stared directly into Enqueri's eyes, willing the Sentinel to believe his words. "You're what I was missing, what I've been looking for my entire life. Incacha said becoming your Guide was my destiny. He was right."

The look on Enqueri's face was a study in stunned confusion. "But- you said you wished there'd been another choice..."

"Because I knew what you were losing by me being your Guide. It would've been better for you if you had bonded with another of the Chopec because then they wouldn't have cast you out." Blair sighed as he realized exactly how badly Enqueri had misunderstood him. "I wished there had been another choice, for you, not me. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."

"You do not regret the bond?" Enqueri asked tentatively and Blair could see the hope warring with disbelief in his eyes.

"God, no! Haven't you been listening? Do I need to repeat it in Quechua so you can understand?" Blair wanted to reach out and shake the man.

Mutely Enqueri shook his head. He reached out and reverently touched Blair's curls. "I understand your words. I just never..." He trailed off, shaking his head again, his eyes wide with wonder.

Blair felt his heart melting all over again. Reaching up, he cupped Enqueri's face between his two hands. "They're true. Every one of them." Then he leaned closer. "I love you," he whispered, realizing as he said it, that that was true as well. Then he kissed him.

Enqueri froze for a split second but then he was kissing Blair back. But this time was different than all the times before; this time he seemed content to let Blair take the lead and control the kiss.

It made Blair think about how Enqueri had been almost obsessive about pleasuring him, to the point of ignoring his own.

Breaking off the kiss he pulled back slightly. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course," Enqueri said.

"When we... uhm... reaffirm the bond," he gestured with his hand to make it clear what he was talking about, "why don't you let *me* pleasure *you*?"

Enqueri was silent for a moment. "You have to act as my Guide. I didn't want you to think you had to do that as well."

Blair nodded slowly. That made perfect sense in what he was beginning to think of as Enqueri logic. "But what if I want to?" he asked.

The Sentinel actually seemed to give that serious thought. "Then I would have to let you."

"I want to."

Enqueri nodded slowly. "I am yours."

The words seemed to be more than a simple statement; they were a declaration, a promise, an essential truth. They resonated within Blair's very soul. "Yeah, you are," he said, before pulling Enqueri to him and kissing him with all the passion he had.

The kiss seemed to go on forever, as his tongue slipped between his lover's lips and delved deep into the other's mouth. Blair brought one of his hands up to caress Enqueri's short hair, the other tightening on Enqueri's shoulder.

When Blair finally pulled back they were both breathless. //Now* I'll show you my bedroom," he said grinning, eyes sparkling with mischief and arousal.

Enqueri returned the grin and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. Blair led him down the hall and through the door he had stopped him from entering earlier.

He didn't give the Sentinel a chance to look around though. Instead he backed the larger man towards the bed, reaching up and initiating another passionate kiss as he did so.

When the back of Enqueri's knees hit the mattress, Blair just pushed him down until he was lying flat on his back, never once relinquishing the Sentinel's mouth during the whole maneuver.

Nor did he release it as he undid Enqueri's shirt, slowly unfastening the buttons one by one. Pushing back the edges of the shirt, Blair ran his hands lightly over the bare skin so revealed, Enqueri's resulting gasp swallowed up in their continuing kiss.

With deft movements, Blair stripped the shirt from his Sentinel's body, tossing it onto the floor. He released Enqueri's lips only to fasten his mouth to the side of Enqueri's throat, nipping and sucking a passion mark into existence.

Once satisfied with his efforts, Blair moved his mouth to the other side and began work on another. Enqueri moaned and Blair shivered slightly, the sound reverberating through them both.

He pulled back and looked down; Enqueri met his gaze with eyes full of arousal, trust and love. For a moment they just stared at each other, drowning in each other's souls.

Enqueri reached up and caressed his Guide's cheek. Blair leaned into it for a brief moment, savoring the tenderness of the touch before he took Enqueri's hand into his own and pulled it away. He pinned the Sentinel's arm against the bed, then reached for the man's other wrist and did the same.

"My lead this time," he reminded.

He knew Enqueri could easily break the hold he had on him but the Sentinel didn't even try. He just searched Blair's expression for a moment, then nodded and relaxed totally. "Yours," he whispered.

Blair shivered at that one word, once again awed and humbled at the trust and surrender it represented.

He had to get back to the business of melting his Sentinel's brains before those feelings overwhelmed him. Swallowing against the heavy emotion, he quickly dipped his head and licked at one of Enqueri's nipples.

A strangled gasp greeted his action, which quickly metamorphosed into a low moan when he closed his mouth over the hardened bud and began working it with teeth and tongue.

Blair continued his actions until he could feel Enqueri's muscles trembling then switched his attention to the man's other nipple. This time the moan was much louder.

When Blair lifted his head again, the Sentinel's trembling was now visible and he was holding onto the bedspread with a white knuckled grip. Leaning up, Blair kissed his lips once tenderly then slid down his body, pushing Enqueri's still clothed thighs apart and lying between them.

Eyes raised to Enqueri's face, he leaned forward and mouthed at the Sentinel's cloth covered erection, watching in fascination at the look of arousal and sensual need that passed over Enqueri's features.

He could grow very fond of that look, he decided, even as he popped open the button on Enqueri's pants and then slowly undid the zipper -- with his teeth.

That earned him another moan.

He grinned and pulled back enough to remove Enqueri's pants and underwear. Tossing them aside, Blair took a moment to just look at the naked perfection stretched out in front of him.

"Do you have any idea how gorgeous you look like that?" he asked, one hand casually caressing Enqueri's inner thigh. "I could just sit here and look at you forever. But don't worry," he added as he felt the slight stiffening of the other's body in protest at that, "I'll be doing a lot more than just looking." He grinned wickedly. "I've always been a hands-on kind of guy after all."

With that Blair slid his hand up from Enqueri's thigh to gently cup his balls. The Sentinel jerked at the touch, back and neck arching in response.

Grinning even wider, Blair continued in the same teasing conversational tone. "Of course I've always been told that my best asset is my mouth." Then he shifted and closed his lips around the head of Enqueri's cock all in one smooth move.

Enqueri cried out, hips thrusting upwards as his hands flew to Blair's head, holding him in place. Fighting his gag reflex, Blair relaxed his throat, letting the Sentinel thrust in deeper.

One hand still fondling Enqueri's balls, Blair braced himself against the bed with the other as he let Enqueri thrust again and again into his mouth.

But the Sentinel was still being too restrained; Blair wanted him totally lost in his pleasure. So he began to hum softly. That did it. The extra stimulation to his cock provided by the vibrations pushed Enqueri over the edge. He grabbed handfuls of his Guide's hair and fucked his mouth in a frenzy. Blair groaned, shivered and did his best not to gag.

Enqueri thrust as deep as he could go one last time and came with a wordless shout. Somehow Blair managed to swallow fast enough that he didn't choke.

As both the hands in his hair and the body beneath him relaxed, Blair let Enqueri's cock slip from his mouth and looked up at the Sentinel's face.

The expression there was all that Blair could've hoped for: stunned, sated, surprised. He grinned and slithered his way back up to Enqueri's mouth, which he kissed tenderly. One of the Sentinel's hands came up and tangled in Blair's hair during the kiss, but when it was over and Blair pulled back, he saw another look in the other man's eyes.

"Oh no," he warned before Enqueri could speak. "Don't you *dare* feel guilty about what just happened."

"Blair I-"

"No! Dammit, you did nothing wrong! Nothing I didn't want you to do."

"I lost control. I could have hurt you."

Blair rolled his eyes exasperated. He reached out and grabbed onto Enqueri's ears, forcing the man to meet his gaze. "You're not listening to me! I *wanted* you to lose control. I was *trying* to make you lose control. It's what you needed and I wanted to give it to you."

"I could have hurt you," Enqueri repeated, eyes still downcast.

"No," Blair stated with absolute certainty. "You couldn't."

Enqueri searched his eyes for the least little shadow of doubt. Blair stared back confidently, knowing he wouldn't find any.

Finally the Sentinel dropped his gaze, reaching down and covering Blair's hand. "You really believe that, don't you?" he asked quietly, staring at their entwined fingers.

"Yes. Don't you?"

"I..." he trailed off, shaking his head.

Blair sighed. "Enqueri." He waited until the Sentinel had looked up. "Do you trust me?"

"Of course. But-"

"Why do you find it so hard to believe that I trust you then?" Blair asked.

He watched as Enqueri struggled to answer the question. "I don't know," the man finally whispered.

Blair reached out and ran a hand through the other man's short hair soothingly. "You do believe I want to be your Guide, don't you?"

Enqueri hesitated. "Yes," he finally answered.

'There's the problem,' Blair thought. "You don't sound very convincing."

"I..." He looked up and his expression made Blair's heart break. "You didn't have a choice."

"You heard what I told you earlier."

A nod. "I did. And I believe you when you said you do not regret being my Guide. But-"

"But you still wonder what I would've done if I'd had a choice," Blair finished.

Enqueri nodded, his eyes downcast again.

"What would convince you?"

"What?"

"I can't change the circumstances of how we bonded, they are what they are. But if there's some way to convince you that I choose to be your Guide..." Blair let his voice trail off, as he could practically see the wheels turning in his Sentinel's mind.

He could tell the second Enqueri had thought of something. "There is, isn't there? Just tell me what it is and I'll do it."

Enqueri blushed but he did meet Blair's gaze. "Take me as your Sentinel as I took you as my Guide."

It took a few seconds for Blair to realize just what exactly Enqueri was asking him to do. When he did, he blushed as red as the Sentinel, even as a bolt of sheer arousal ran through him. "You mean take as in 'take' right?" he asked wide-eyed, gesturing to make clear his meaning.

Enqueri nodded.

"And that will convince you?"

Again Enqueri nodded. "You would be claiming me of your own free will."

'And you will be allowing yourself to be claimed,' Blair added to himself, understanding that that was just as important. He nodded slowly. "Okay."

"Okay?" Enqueri repeated.

"Okay. If it's claiming you want, it's claiming you'll get."

"You will do as I ask." Enqueri still seemed unable to believe that Blair was agreeing.

Blair grinned at him. "It's not like it's a fate worse than death, you know. Actually," he leaned forward until their lips almost touched, "I'm rather looking forward to it." He closed the remaining distance and kissed the Sentinel teasingly.

Enqueri responded, kissing him back just as ardently. When Blair pulled back Enqueri just looked at his Guide for a long moment before saying softly, "Thank you."

Blair just smiled and kissed him again.

After a few moments of exchanging increasingly hot kisses, Enqueri gently pushed Blair back a bit. "You are much too overclothed," he said, eyeing the shirt and pants that Blair still wore.

"The word is 'overdressed'," Blair corrected, even as he began to quickly undo his shirt. "And you're right." He put his considerable energies into remedying that problem.

Once he was as naked as his lover Blair rolled on top of Enqueri, both men gasping at the skin to skin contact.

The Sentinel wrapped his arms around Blair, stroking down his back and cupping his buttocks. Blair moaned, both at the caress and the fact that it pushed his cock harder against Enqueri's stomach.

Bracing his hands on Enqueri's shoulders for leverage, he thrust his hips downwards, wriggling around until his cock lined up with Enqueri's, who was thrusting upwards just as energetically. They continued, both men gasping and moaning as their rhythm increased until Blair had to pull away or risk coming from that alone.

Enqueri whimpered and made a grab for his Guide as the younger man rolled off. "Easy," Blair soothed, lightly running a hand along Enqueri's stomach in comforting circles. "I'm not going anywhere. Just need to get something to prepare you with." Another bolt of arousal shot through Blair at just that thought and the words came out much huskier than his normal voice.

His only answer was an even deeper groan.

Blair leaned over and with trembling fingers opened the drawer in the night stand and fumbled around inside until he pulled out the little vial of massage oil he kept there. 'I've really got to see about picking up some actual lube,' he thought idly to himself even as he turned his attention back to his lover.

And promptly lost the ability to think at all. Enqueri had pulled his knees up to his chest and was holding them there, leaving himself wide open and on display for his Guide.

Swallowing hard, Blair took a shaky deep breath as he tried to calm himself down a little. He didn't think he'd ever seen anything quite as hot as his Sentinel laid out in wait for him. The sight alone was almost enough to make him come. He needed to regain some control or this was going to be over before it began.

He forced his gaze upwards, away from the center of the situation, so to speak, instead focusing on Enqueri's face. What he saw there helped him to finally catch his balance. Enqueri's eyes radiated with arousal and need, sure, but it was the love, the trust that shone from deep within that reached out and grabbed Blair, steadying him enough to continue.

Vowing to himself to take this as slow as he needed to do it right, Blair coated his fingers with the oil and then reached out and rubbed the tip of one finger lightly over the entrance to Enqueri's body.

Enqueri gasped and moaned, pushing back against the touch. Encouraged, Blair exerted some pressure against the muscle until his finger penetrated.

//Yes!// Enqueri cried out, reverting to Quechua, even as he squirmed trying to get Blair to go deeper. //More!//

Blair complied, moving his finger in and out while Enqueri gasped and groaned at the sensations.

When Enqueri was moving with the rhythm Blair added a second finger, and went searching for the other man's prostate. The sound the Sentinel made when he found it had more in common with the scream of a wild cat than any sound normally attributed to humans. Fascinated, and more than a bit hot, Blair repeated the movement several more times, just to hear that particular cry again.

He continued finger-fucking Enqueri until both of them were on the verge of coming. Enqueri let out a wordless wail of protest when Blair pulled his fingers out but quickly settled down when he felt Blair's cock replace them.

Slowly Blair pushed inside, pausing frequently, both to give Enqueri time to adjust and to ensure he himself didn't lose it too soon. And he was in real danger of doing so -- he'd never felt anything quite so tight and hot and the knowledge of exactly who it was added an extra kick to the sensations. But somehow Blair managed to hang on and eventually found himself buried in Enqueri balls deep.

He opened his eyes, only then becoming aware that he'd closed them in the first place, and looked down into Enqueri's blue gaze. For a long moment all they did was stare at each other, swimming in the oceans of each other's souls, that connection as powerful and as real as their bodies'. This was more than a reaffirmation of their bond, this was bringing it to a whole new level, deepening and expanding it until Blair couldn't tell where he ended and the Sentinel began.

//Say it,// Enqueri ordered after what seemed an eternity of their silent communing.

Blair knew exactly what Enqueri wanted to hear and he obliged him. "Mine," he said fiercely, pulling out and driving back in again. "My partner, my friend, my lover, my Sentinel, mine!" Each declaration was accompanied by another hard thrust, a physical declaration to mirror his verbal one.

On the last thrust, Enqueri convulsed, back and neck arching, mouth opened in a silent scream as his cock erupted without ever being touched. He continued to shake and pant as his climax drew itself out much longer than Blair would've thought possible.

If he had been in any condition to think that is, which he most certainly wasn't. The sight of his Sentinel so wild and abandoned in his pleasure, knowing *he* was the cause stripped away any restraint and control Blair might have had left.

His thrusts became wilder and more uneven, losing any rhythm they had previously had. He was grunting with each push and panting like he'd just run a marathon. He could feel his orgasm building, quicker and higher than ever before. With one last deep thrust, it washed over him, dissolving everything else and carrying him away on its waves.

*****

As awareness returned, Blair reflected that he was getting used to passing out after sex.

Without opening his eyes, he realized he was lying sprawled over Enqueri's chest and that the Sentinel was casually running a hand up and down his back.

"Welcome back," a quiet voice said.

Unsurprised that Enqueri knew exactly when he had regained consciousness, Blair opened his eyes and looked up at the man's face. And what he saw there momentarily rendered him speechless.

Enqueri's expression was full of love and affection -- that much Blair had expected. It was the peace, the growing contentment he saw in the Sentinel's eyes that floored him. He had seen it there before, when he had first met Enqueri, but it had vanished upon Incacha's death.

To see it back now, and directed at him, meant more to Blair than he could have imagined. It triggered similar feelings in his own soul.

"You believe me now," he said, utter certainty in his mind and voice.

Enqueri reached up a hand and brushed a stray curl off Blair's face. "Yes." He paused and then continued apologetically. "I did not disbelieve you before, Blair. It's just…"

"I hadn't made the commitment you needed," Blair finished. He caressed Enqueri's cheek. "I understand. I'm sorry it took me so long."

"You did not know."

"Well no, I didn't. Because you wouldn't talk to me about what was bothering you." He fixed Enqueri with a stern gaze. "I need that to change from here on in. You've got to *talk* to me Enqueri. I'm learning this Guide thing as we go along. I need to know when something's wrong before I can try to fix it. So you have to tell me, okay?"

Enqueri nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving his Guide's.

"Good." Blair smiled, then yawned. "Sorry," he said around another yawn. "This whole claiming thing was really exhausting."

"Sleep then," Enqueri ordered, pushing Blair's head down to rest against his shoulder and gently stroking his hair.

Blair relaxed against him with a sigh, his eyes already closing. "Okay." But a certain suspicion made him add, "You too."

"I am fine."

Prying one eye back open, Blair fixed his Sentinel with a steely glare. "We have a busy day tomorrow. I may have dealt with the tests but there's still a ton of training you've got to go through. And yawning in the instructor's face is bad manners. You're not going to make me look like I don't know how to take proper care of my Sentinel. Go to sleep."

The ghost of a smile graced Enqueri's features. "Yes, Blair," he said meekly.

"Good," Blair answered, closing his eye and settling down again. "Night," he murmured as he let go of consciousness and drifted off.

Only to be jerked back to awareness several hours later by his companion's moaning and thrashing. And not in a good way.

"Enqueri?" Automatically Blair's hand reached for the lamp on the nightstand by the bed as he reached out with the other for his Sentinel's shoulder, shaking it gently. "Enqueri, wake up."

Fumbling for the light switch, he managed to turn on the lamp at the same time that Enqueri jerked and awoke with a heartbreaking cry of denial on his lips.

Covered in sweat and still tense, the Sentinel blinked dazedly into the sudden light, seemingly still half caught in the realm of dreams.

"It's all right," Blair soothed, running the hand still resting on Enqueri's shoulder down his arm in a comforting caress. "You were sleeping. You're awake now."

Enqueri's blue gaze focused on him and he watched as awareness of his surroundings slowly dawned in the Sentinel's eyes.

"Bad dream?" Blair asked as Enqueri ran a shaky hand through his short hair with a sigh.

"It is nothi-" Enqueri did not finish the word as Blair met his eyes again. He hesitated for a moment and Blair could almost hear the other's defenses coming down. "Yes," Enqueri finally said softly. "Very bad."

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No." Jaw muscle twitching, Enqueri added after a few seconds, "But I need to."

Blair nodded slowly and sat up fully, crossing his legs under him. "I'm listening," he said quietly.

There was silence for long moments as Enqueri sat, staring down at his lap and Blair waited patiently for him to begin. Finally his patience was rewarded.

"It was about Incacha." The Sentinel's voice nearly broke on the name.

Blair nodded and made a soft encouraging sound, but otherwise remained silent.

And slowly, haltingly the words came.

"It was.... We were back in the clearing. The one where Incacha... Everything happened as it had before, except this time I *knew* what was going to happen. And I couldn't stop it."

The frustration and helpless pain Blair heard broke his heart. He wanted to reach out and comfort, ease as much of it as he could but something inside him was telling him to hold back. That this was something Enqueri had to get out before he could help him.

Enqueri was continuing. "I had to watch him... die... again. Then I had to leave him there." He was staring straight ahead but Blair was sure it wasn't the bedroom he was seeing.

'You had no choice.' Blair almost said those words out loud, but stopped himself. The truth they may be, but he doubted they would bring much comfort to the Sentinel. And he feared if he interrupted Enqueri would stop talking.

But he couldn't just sit there and watch the man's soul bleed and do nothing. Reaching out he rested a hand on top of one of the ones that Enqueri had clenched in his lap, hoping his touch could say what words could not.

"He wasn't dead."

"What?"

"In my dream. I left him and he wasn't dead."

Blair shook his head. "But you said you watched him die," he protested, even as part of his brain was pointing out the futility of trying to apply logic to dreams.

"I did. But after I had left, I could hear him. He was calling me, begging me to help him." Blair could feel the muscles in Enqueri's hands tense even further.

He couldn't stop the horrified "God!" from slipping out at the Sentinel's words. He shivered in sympathetic dread.

Enqueri did not seem aware of him at all as he continued relaying the events of his dream. "I tried to go back but I couldn't find the clearing again. I'd zero in on his voice and try to follow it but no matter what direction I went in, it just kept getting farther and farther away. I couldn't find him but I could still hear him, calling for me, saying my name over and over..."

Enqueri's voice broke then and Blair immediately moved forward, wrapping his arms around his Sentinel and pulling him into a comforting embrace. Enqueri clung to him tightly, burying his face in the side of Blair's neck as he trembled with the effort of trying to get his emotions back under control.

Blair heard him choke back a sob. "No," he whispered. "Let it out. I'll hold you together."

The Sentinel resisted for a few seconds more before finally giving in. Blair held him tightly, murmuring soft comfort and encouragement as Enqueri released all the grief and pain over everything he'd lost: his old way of life, the Chopec and Incacha. Most especially Incacha.

Blair shed more than a few tears of his own. His heart would have to have been made of stone to remain unaffected by the other's obvious pain and his was far from that. Factor in Blair's feelings for the Sentinel, as well as the bond they shared, and he found it a wonder he was holding up as well as he was.

But he knew why he was though. Enqueri needed him. It was as simple and as complicated as that.

It was a long while before Enqueri calmed and even longer before he pulled out of Blair's embrace. Or tried to at any rate. Blair only let him pull back enough to look up, refusing to release the other man from his arms.

"Sorry," Enqueri mumbled, refusing to meet his Guide's eyes.

"Don't be." He reached out and laid a hand on his Sentinel's still tear-damp cheek. "You needed that. Needed to let yourself start to mourn."

Enqueri shrugged. "I had kept control this long..."

"I know," Blair replied. "But you can't keep this kind of thing bottled up forever. It's not healthy."

"Perhaps. But it is easier. This..." He trailed off and when he spoke again it was in a whisper. "It hurts."

"I know it does. Incacha was a part of you and he was just ripped away with no warning. That's going to be painful. But you have to let yourself feel the pain. If you don't you'll never be able to get past it. And if you can't get past it, you'll never be able to remember the good times. And Incacha deserves to be remembered, doesn't he?"

Enqueri nodded slowly as he finally met Blair's gaze, his eyes thoughtful.

"You have to let yourself feel the pain so you can work through it," Blair repeated. "And it's going to hurt like hell. But it'll get better, I promise. And whenever it gets to be too much, I'm here to help carry it." Again he reached up and caressed Enqueri's face. "I'll always be here when you need me," he vowed.

"I know." He pulled Blair to him and held him tight. "I think that is why this happened now -- because I finally believed that. I could let go because I knew you would catch me."

Blair hugged his Sentinel tighter. "Always, man," he said, his voice rougher than normal. "Always."

"As long as I know I have you I can deal with anything," Enqueri vowed. "Even Incacha's death." This time his voice did not waver over his former guide's name.

"It's still not going to be easy."

"I know. But it is as you have said, to lock the pain away I would have to lock Incacha away as well. And that I will not do. I will remember him no matter how much it hurts."

"It won't hurt like this forever," Blair hastened to reassure him.

"It already hurts less than it did." Enqueri nuzzled Blair's neck. "Thanks to you."

They both fell silent then, as they held onto each other, drawing strength and comfort from their physical and emotional closeness. Finally as Enqueri's head began to get heavier on his shoulder Blair asked in a quiet voice, "You think you could sleep now?"

Enqueri nodded and the two men eased back down into a horizontal position. Blair briefly let go long enough to turn off the lamp then snuggled right back into Enqueri's arms.

Enqueri sighed in contentment and tightened his embrace. //My Guide,// he murmured softly just as he finally allowed himself to drift off.

Blair stayed awake a little longer, just basking in the feeling of contentment, of rightness that lying entwined with Enqueri provided. Incacha had hinted that this was his destiny, and Blair was more certain with every passing day that he had been right. This was where he was meant to be and this is whom he was meant to be with.

His Sentinel.

********

Epilogue

Two Months Later

"Oh man, I cannot believe we overslept!"

Juggling and fumbling with his gear, Blair ran for the gate room, feeling a strong sense of deja vous. Five minutes late for the mission. Again.

This time, though it wasn't some stuffy article on Sentinels that had made him lose all track of time. This time it had been the real thing.

And a real Sentinel was a hell of a lot more distracting than a Sentinel article.

Blair supposed he should be grateful they were only five minutes late.

Beside him, Enqueri calmly adjusted the straps on his pack as he easily kept pace with Blair's headlong rush. "Do not blame me," he replied in an equally calm voice. "I was not the one who forgot to set the alarm."

"Like I'm supposed to be able to remember that after my brain's melted. And you know who was responsible for that." He gave Enqueri a pointed stare.

The Sentinel smiled, but wisely remained silent.

It had been two months since Blair and Enqueri had cemented their bond. In that time, Enqueri had completed the training required of every Stargate team member, as well as the minimal testing that Blair had grudgingly allowed. His grasp of the English language and his acclimation to the culture had also continued apace. By now he could and had passed himself off as a native-born American in public.

The intervening months had also seen a deepening of and growing ease in the relationship between the two men. Because although the caring and commitment had been there almost from the start it still took time to learn each other's habits and idiosyncrasies and to become truly comfortable with each other's reactions and needs. And that is exactly what the two months of intense training had allowed Enqueri and Blair to do.

And despite Blair's hidden fears about familiarity breeding contempt, the more they had learned about each other, the closer they had become. There were times now where it almost felt like they were one soul in two bodies.

Things hadn't been all roses though. The shadow Incacha's death had cast over Enqueri was still very much in evidence and Blair suspected that it would never disappear entirely. But, as he had promised, he had been there to help Enqueri in whatever way he could, be it a sympathetic ear, a shoulder to lean on, or a distraction to help him forget when the pain got too strong.

And it was getting better; in the last week or so Enqueri had begun to occasionally speak of his former Guide without pain in his voice or his eyes. It was a slow process but Enqueri was healing.

They entered the gate room at a dead run to find, as expected, the rest of SG-14 already there and waiting for them.

"Sorry we're late, Simon," Blair began as he skidded to a stop in front of the captain. "We -uhm- got held up with a -uh- Sentinel thing."

He could feel Enqueri's amusement as the Sentinel stopped beside him. He shot the man a look that said 'Don't even think it.'

Simon gave him a suspicious look and Blair did his best to appear innocent. 'After all,' he told himself, 'it wasn't exactly a lie. The way Enqueri makes my brains melt is most definitely a Sentinel thing.' He had to fight hard not to smile as the memories of the night before ran through his head.

After another moment's intense scrutiny, Simon sighed and shook his head. "I don't want to know. You two ready to go?"

When Enqueri and Blair chorused, "Yessir," he turned and waved to the control room to activate the Stargate.

As the gate started to turn, Megan reached out and squeezed Blair's shoulder. "It's good to have you back Sandy."

"Yeah," Rafe added. "Missions just aren't the same without you. We haven't been shot at once in the last two months. It's starting to get boring."

"Ha ha, very funny," Blair muttered, glaring good-naturedly at his friend.

"Who's joking?" Rafe glanced at the man standing at Blair's side. "I tell you Enqueri, I'm glad you're joining the team. Sandburg here is a real trouble magnet with a capital 'T'. He needs a bodyguard and one with enhanced senses might just be able to keep up with him."

"He is rather… hyper I believe is the word?" Enqueri agreed with a small smile.

Blair glared at him. "Great Rafe. Thanks a lot. Turn my Sentinel against me why don't you?"

"Hey I can't help it if you're a hyperactive trouble magnet, Hairboy," Rafe responded with a nonchalant shrug.

Enqueri reached out and laid a casual hand on Blair's shoulder. "Do not worry," he said. "I like you hyperactive, Chief."

Despite himself Blair couldn't suppress a grin at the nickname. It had come out of one of the many wrangling sessions with Brackett over exactly what tests would be allowed on Enqueri. The Colonel had given so many orders that Blair immediately countermanded that one of the frazzled technicians had muttered exasperatedly about there being too many chiefs and not enough Indians on the project.

Enqueri had later asked Blair about the meaning of the phrase and had nodded thoughtfully once Blair had explained. The next time he had asked Enqueri to do something the Sentinel had responded with, "Sure, Chief." And Blair had been 'Chief' ever since.

The sudden distinctive >whoosh< of the Stargate activating broke off further conversation between SG-14.

"All right people!" Simon yelled. "Let's move out!"

The team moved up the ramp and one by one stepped through the gate. Finally only Enqueri and Blair were left.

"You ready for this?" Blair asked the man standing beside him.

"Are you?"

"If you are, I am."

Enqueri nodded. "As long as you are with me, I am ready for anything."

"That's good," Blair said solemnly then grinned. "Because going by past experience, anything is pretty much what we can expect."

Enqueri smiled back. "That does not surprise me."

"So are you ready?"

"Yes."

"Let's do it then."

And with that they stepped through.

THE END