Morphological Changes – Part 3

Morphological Changes – Part 3
Author: Ellywinkle
Fandom: 9-1-1, The Sentinel
Content Warning: NC-17
Warnings: Character Bashing, Child Abuse, Discussion – Murder, Explicit Sex, Hate Crimes, Homophobia, Racism, Violence – Canon – Level
Genres: Alternate Universe
Relationships: Eddie Diaz/Buck Buckley
Word Count: 80749

Author Note: I’ve changed Buck’s place of birth for…reasons. The character-bashing tag is for the Buckleys. For those that desire the heads-up, this is a sentinels are known universe and Daniel lives. The story was written for the April 2022 Rough Trade Challenge. Hope you enjoy the finished product.

Summary: Eddie Diaz survived his test under fire and was discharged from the Army with a gunshot wound, a Silver Star, and a designation of Persistent Enduring Latency. When his wife finds her sentinel and divorces him, he decides it’s time to change and build a new life for himself and his son. A new life that has everything he ever wanted, even a guide he can never have. Because if fire couldn’t bring him online, what will it take to reshape his soul?



Chapter Eleven

“Thus, I believe it is not unreasonable to insist that young Evan retain a full security team and restrict his activities to those that allow that team to fulfill their function as body guards.”

Evan scowled at Preston Waterman the third, “I don’t agree. I think it’s totally unreasonable for me to quit my job and live in seclusion for the rest of my life. You may be comfortable running and hiding, but I don’t feel it serves the tribe.”

Waterman huffed, and his sentinel bristled. Evan just didn’t care anymore. He opened his mouth to continue, and his father touched his arm, sending him a private burst of peace, calming him.

Mother frowned at Waterman’s sentinel and let her gaze rake over the assembly. “The FBI has presented their findings. A Center-approved investigative taskforce has examined their case and confirmed. All members of the Soldiers of Justice have been captured. This will go public soon enough, but there is no current threat to Evan or other high-ranking guides. If there is no threat, there is no reason to prevent him from resuming his life.”

“But this has turned a spotlight on our community that shows a vulnerability. You don’t think we should take appropriate action?” Waterman demanded.

Evan clenched his fist when his father motioned him to silence. Listening to a washed-up Prime that was well past retirement try to run his life as if he were a child was frustrating beyond belief. Waterman had fought Evan’s inclusion in any meeting of Primes since his father had decided he was old enough to sit still through them. The older he got, the more control Waterman tried to exert over the unbonded because it was the only way he could retain his own territory.

“You’re concerned about the welfare of unbonded guides? Then redirect that concern and lobby for harsher penalties for crimes against guides. Make even the thought of acting out repugnant to the mundane world. Provide greater protections for sentinels responding to these situations,” Mother encouraged the Rhode Island Prime Guide. “But do not attempt to control our guides. Would you have us lock them all away in sanctuaries where they would have no contact with the outside world?”

Evan glanced over and almost laughed at the faces the U.S. Primes, Sebastian Morello and Damian Stoker, were making behind Waterman. The guides in the room became restless. Fingernails tapped across the tabletop in a rhythm Buck knew would annoy most of the sentinels in the room. He looked to his left where the stormcloud that was Chris Larabee was glaring at Waterman. His fellow Prime, Vin Tanner, was leaning back from the table with his chair propped on two legs and his feet crossed on the table. His baseball cap was pulled down to shade his eyes, and one might have believed he was asleep except for the pocket knife he was using to clean his fingernails.

Beside Uncle Vin, looking as bored as one might be, Colorado State Guide Prime Ezra Standish continued tapping his little rhythm until it brought the room to an uncomfortable silence. “You know, Evan, one might misunderstand today’s discourse and believe you no longer retained free agency.” He turned and raked his gaze over the assembly. “Now, while I myself like to believe I’m above such fleeting things as politics within the Community, I feel I should point out that the Council of Primes is not a democratically elected body. Our inclusion in this body is a product of biology. Status as Prime gives one a place among us, but the ranking is another matter entirely.”

He motioned toward the members seated at the main table, “Hierarchy is based on territorial imperative…a sentinel’s territorial imperative. So while Mr. Tanner and myself have the strength to take the Eastern half of the U.S., Sentinel Tanner honestly doesn’t feel the need to protect more than Colorado as long as Mr. Larabee continues to claim the Rocky Mountain Region.”

Vin grunted his agreement as Ezra gestured toward Waterman and continued. “Now I have nothing but respect for the people of Rhode Island. It is a territory with a rich history. But we both know you barely have the strength to hold that territory while your sentinel continues to acquiesce to your desire to retain your position. So while you do have a right to voice your opinion, don’t believe for an instant that your place in our hierarchy gives you any power in forcing that opinion on one of your superiors.”

“You think you have the right to pull rank over me?” Waterman was practically foaming at the mouth in anger, and Evan tightened his shields to avoid bleed-off. He noticed sentinels reaching out to lay hands on their guides.

Ezra leaned back to avoid the spittle and made a sweeping wave over the room, “I believe anyone in this room has the right to pull rank over you. East Coast Primes Meyrick have the explicit right to pull rank over you, and you continue to argue with them. The U.S. Primes sit behind you as you disrespect them by taking their seat in today’s session to make your little point. But, more than that, Guide Prime Evan Meyrick sits among us as the strongest guide in the room, and you refuse to acknowledge that he has the right of self-determination.”

“He’s unbonded!” Waterman banged on the table with his fist to punctuate his argument.

“Which does nothing to alter his power and potential. Based on that alone, most guides and sentinels instinctively give him due consideration.” Ezra paused a moment and stared at Waterman, “The only reason he does not hold a territorial seat on this council is the lack of a sentinel, and I find it strange that you want to restrict him in a manner that might prevent him from ever finding his.”

“Let’s be honest, Standish. He’s an aberration. A Prime Guide born online who probably never had a matching sentinel. Leaving him to wander free in society is to leave the community open to abuse. Without a sentinel to contain him, we could end up inviting trouble to breed.”

Evan stood and leaned over the table toward Waterman, anger flowing like an oppressive cloud through the room. “I have a sentinel, you asshole. Online or not, I’ve found my sentinel, and it’s caving to people like you that’s kept me separated from him. You lobbied for me to give up my freedom for the tribe. Well, I did my part to protect the tribe. I yielded to reason and allowed you to keep me safe when a verifiable danger existed. But that’s over…and so are you. This little power play is disgusting and bordering on corrupt. You were upset when they chose not to seclude me at your Prime Prep Academy, and I can’t believe you are continuing to press that agenda. Ezra is correct. Bonded or not, I rank you, and your opinions no longer serve the tribe.” He stood tall and looked over at Morello and Stoker, “We’ve talked this issue into the ground. My place, for now, is in Los Angeles. The business of this Council is complete. You, Sirs, have the Watch.”

All Primes, save Waterman, whose sentinel had a firm grip on his arm, stood while the U.S. Sentinel Prime Damian Stoker responded, “The Watch is ours. Thank you for your service to the Tribe.”

Evan glanced at his parents and turned to leave the room.



“Thank you so much, Bobby. I’m amazed you can get it scheduled that soon anyway.” Evan gave his Dad a grin when the man looked up from his laptop. The call relieved a lot of his stress today.

They were flying from San Francisco into Los Angeles on the U.S. Primes’ private jet. After this morning’s session of the Prime Council, it was decided that Evan didn’t need to be present while senior members of the Council schooled certain members that have lost their way. They would be set straight or encouraged to take some time for a readjustment. Or, as Vin put it, Some assholes are a pleasure, and some are a pain. And some of these assholes have a stick so far up their butt they haven’t known pleasure in a hell of a long time.

“I’m just so happy to hear from you, kid,” Bobby was saying. “We were starting to worry we wouldn’t get you back. I wish command wasn’t requiring the requalification.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m probably in the best shape of my life. Trust me, the place I was staying allowed me to stay in practice on most of my skills. We were as active as possible, given the situation. I could pass those quals with my eyes closed. But I think I’m going to try to break some of my records.” Evan was really hoping to break some records. Not that he had anything to prove to anyone but himself.

“Well, if anyone can. You’re sure it’s safe for you to come back?” The slight hesitation made Evan wonder if everyone at the fire station had been encouraged to seek therapy after the attack.

Well, the only thing Evan could do was calm that worry. “Yeah, Bobby. It’ll be announced soon, but they’ve gotten everyone involved. Their investigation is ongoing, but the violent offenders and ringleaders have been rounded up, and half of them have already made deals.”

“I’m glad to hear that. People are going to be ecstatic you’re back in town.”

“I’d like to keep that quiet a couple days until I settle back in, ya know. A chance to see my family before everyone starts showing up.” A chance to see all of his family as far as he was concerned.

“I understand. I’ll keep it a secret for now. But don’t expect that to last long.” Bobby paused a moment, “Do you plan to tell Eddie soon?”

Evan flushed and tried to keep his calm when he saw Mom watching him, “I’m…ummm, I have plans to talk to Eddie. Is he ok?”

“He’s really been struggling without you around to back him up. He really…misses you.” And Bobby put extra emphasis on that.

“I missed him too,” Evan responded softly. He cleared his throat. “So, if you could email me my schedule, I’d really appreciate it. I’ll confirm as soon as I receive it. I can’t wait to get back to work with you guys.”

“OK, I’ll talk to you again as soon as everything is confirmed. And Buck, let me know when the cat’s out of the bag because I’m dying to tell everyone.”

Evan laughed, “I will. Tell you what, you can go ahead and tell Athena if you swear her to secrecy.”

“You’re on. Take care, kid.” Bobby ended the call.

Evan replaced the in-flight phone, careful to avoid his parents’ eyes.

“So, how long are you going to wait until you see this Eddie?” Mom asked in that tone that insisted we’re going to talk about this young man.

“Soon.” He glanced up when he knew he shouldn’t to see two sets of eyes just drilling into him. “You two are the worst, you know that, right?”

“Answer your Mother.”

“I figured I would take you home and drop my stuff. Daniel would kill me if I didn’t see him first. And I know he’s home because you warned him you were coming into town.”

“Don’t worry, we didn’t tell him we were bringing you. You’ll get your surprise.”

“Thanks. I haven’t gone that long without speaking to Daniel since I was a kid. I hate that I couldn’t have contact with him.”

“He was given the option of going into protection with you,” Mom reminded him.

Evan shrugged it off. “I know, but his work is important, and I was the only danger to him. I don’t blame him for choosing to stay.”

“So, Eddie?” Dad took up the refrain.

Evan slouched back, “I figured that once I got the three of you gossiping, I would go over and see if he is home.”

“Or you could be a grown-up and call the man.”

“No. I need to see him in person. I backed off when he asked me last time. I gave him what I thought he wanted because I was afraid of losing him if I pushed. But…I need more. I need to take that chance because I know he’s supposed to be my sentinel. We’re meant to be together. But I would rather he choose me because he wants me just as I am instead of feeling like he’s required to take me for the bond.”

“Evan, you know it’s not like that. The feeling of attraction between a matched pair is one of the most exquisite things you will ever feel. Worry and doubt just drift away because you know with every fiber of your being that what you have is right. If you don’t feel that with him…”

“But I do, I do. When I’m with him, there is nothing that could feel as perfect and right as having him beside me. He doesn’t feel the same because he’s not online. I would like to know that we are so perfect he will choose me. That some part of that feeling transcends bonding.”

“My son, the romantic.” Dad leaned over and pulled him in for a hug across the seats. “I’m proud of you for having the courage to go after what you want.”

They lapsed into companionable silence as the pilot announced the beginning of their descent. Evan looked out the window over his claimed city and felt relief at his return. Somewhere down there was Daniel, Maddie, Eddie, and Christopher…his family. He hadn’t realized how much he relied on their presence in his life until they weren’t there.

The Center had a car waiting, and Evan noticed the driver seemed to let out a breath of relief upon seeing him. His guide aura morphed from nervous to happy/content/joy, and it was a better welcome home than any words could convey. They were quickly on their way to the house while the driver, Joe, assured his parents that he was on call for their stay whenever they needed him.

While they were certainly here for family time, his parents were also planning meetings with Center leadership to discuss the new Crimes against Guides Taskforce that the Prime Council had authorized. Major cities like Los Angeles would be playing a role in the response network they would be building.

Before he knew it, they were home. He didn’t wait for the bags before he rang the doorbell, suddenly realizing that he didn’t have his key. A voice was calling out from inside, but it was distant, so he couldn’t place it.

Then the door was open, and he didn’t hesitate to charge forward and practically tackle Daniel in a hug.

“Evan! You’re home,” were the words that were saturated with love/joy/welcome/happiness/brotherhood/family.

“Yeah, I’m home.” He returned Daniel’s smile and then hugged him again.

“BUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!” screeched at the top of lungs that he hadn’t expected to hear.

Buck spun around to see Christopher rushing toward him, and he released his brother to rocket forward and drop to his knees in front of the boy he would claim as his own. “Christopher.” He wrapped him in a hug and held back tears at the rightness of holding that small body in his arms. He just held on as the feeling of bathing in a sunbeam overtook him and restored a balance he wasn’t aware he was missing.

Christopher was babbling nonstop about how much he was missed and how glad he was that his Buck was home. How sad Daddy has been that Buck was gone and how happy he will be to have him back. Buck just tried to keep up with grunts and hums, not wanting to let the boy go. He wasn’t sure how long he just held on to that feeling before the clearing of a throat brought him back.

“Evan, would you like to introduce us?” Dad asked, a broad smile covering his face.

“Yeah, hey Chris, I have two people I really want you to meet. These are my parents, Rand and June Meyrick. Mom, Dad, this is my best friend in the entire world, Christopher Diaz.” Buck shifted so he could finish the introduction, then leaned in close to Chris, “I promise they don’t bite…much.”

Christopher giggled, “You’re so silly, Buck.” Then he stepped forward to look up at them. “Daniel says you’re the best parents in the whole entire world, and you must be because you brought back my Buck.”

Dad nodded, “Well, he did say the only thing that would make him happy was to come back to you and your father. So, what else could I do but make him happy?”

“That’s why my Daddy is great too because he always does the best he can so I can be happy.” Chris nodded his agreement.

“Your Daddy sounds like a wise man.” Dad had a seat, so he was face-to-face with Chris.

“He is, but he’s been very sad without Buck. He tries to hide it, but I can tell.”

“Well, Sunshine, that’s because fathers try to protect sons. That’s our job.”

“So what are you and Daniel doing here? Is your dad at work today?” Buck inquired while glancing up at Daniel.

“We’re working on a super secret feelings communicator for the innovation competition at the Center.” Chris got wound up, “It’s going to be a bracelet we can wear that lights up in different colors for different emotions so that kids that don’t know how to explain how they feel can show people.” He looked around and then got a lecturing face. “Guides just know how everyone is feeling, and sentinels can smell and hear how people feel. But not everyone is a sentinel or guide, and kids that have been hurt or traum…” Chris glanced over at Daniel.


Nodding his head, “Traumatized can’t always tell people how they feel. So the bracelet has pictures to touch on the screen so they can let people know.”

“That’s a great idea, Chris. I’m proud of you for thinking about that.” Evan pulled him in for another hug. “So Daniel is helping you with it?”

“He’s teaching me about how electronic parts work so I can design it. Later he will help me with the soldering because I’m not allowed to work with things that are hot enough to melt metal.” Chris rolled his eyes at that. “Dad worked last night, so Daniel will take me home after he has time to sleep.”

“Do you think your Dad would be ok if I went over and woke him up?” Evan asked.

“Yeah, we should go show Dad you’re home.” Chris started getting excited, and Buck just shot everyone an urgent look.

Daniel stepped in quickly with a knowing smile, “We don’t have a lot of time to cover all of the lessons we have planned for today. Why don’t we let Evan go see your Dad first? That way, there’s only one person waking him up while we finish what we’re working on.”

Chris looked like he was trying to choose between his project and his Buck, so Evan added an incentive. “Yeah, let me go see your Dad, and you finish this so that you don’t have to work on it tomorrow. Your Dad has to work again tomorrow, right? Well, while he’s at work, we can have a Buck and Chris day. Just the two of us. We’ll go out and do whatever we feel like because I’ve missed you, and I’m tired of being cooped up. How does that sound?”

“Yeah! We can go to the science museum and the movies and out to eat. Just the two of us.” Chris gave him another hug. “You should go so I can get this finished.”

Evan stood up and looked at Daniel. “The jeep?”

“I’ve kept up the maintenance and took turns driving it, so it’s good to go.” Daniel motioned toward the bowl for the car keys.

“Mom, Dad?”

“Go, Evan,” Mom gave him a peck on the cheek, then a little shove toward the door. “We’ll get to know Christopher here.”

Dad grinned at him, then turned back to the boy, “You know, I have sooo many stories of things Evan did when he was your age. Do you want to hear?”

An enthusiastic “Yes!” was heard as he slipped into the garage and climbed into the jeep.



Evan went over and over in his mind what he wanted to say on the drive to Eddie’s house. He was a bundle of nerves and trying desperately to frame a suitable argument. He had promised Eddie last time that he would back off and just be friends if that was all Eddie wanted. But that ship has sailed.

He needed more than friendship. Every atom in his body was attracted to Eddie in a way that said it wouldn’t be complete until the two of them could become one. He didn’t care that the sentinel wasn’t online. Because Eddie was more important than some simple biological imperative.

He had just spent almost five months forced to live without the other part of his soul, and he couldn’t take this half-life any longer. If Eddie rejected him, he would deal with it. But he had to take the chance.

Evan wasn’t certain how he got there. Just one moment, he was driving, and the next, the jeep was in the driveway, and Evan was standing at the front door getting the guts to knock. Finally, he raised his hand, and the door flew open with a sight he had been longing for.


“Hey, Eddie.” Real smooth there.


Suddenly feelings of confusion/surprise morphed into an all-encompassing joy. Eddie hauled him into the house and slammed the door shut before pushing Evan back against it and diving in for a kiss.

They pulled back, and Eddie shook his head, “If you’re a dream, don’t let me wake up.”

Buck wasn’t certain what was up with the kiss, but he wanted it. He wanted so much more than just that. And this time, he was going to do something about it. “It’s not a dream. It’s over, and I’m home. I got home today, and the only thing I wanted was to see you.”

“I’ve missed you so damn much.” Eddie leaned in and put his forehead against Buck’s. He felt the vibration in Buck’s stance like he was barely holding himself back and knew he wouldn’t let this opportunity pass. “Buck, I was an idiot. I pushed you away because I was afraid of losing you, and then I lost you anyway because I pushed you away. It kills me that you were in danger, and I couldn’t be the one there to protect you.”

“It’s fine.”

“No, it’s not. A world without you in it could never be fine. You’re the perfect piece of a puzzle that completes this family. You, me, Chris, hell, even your pushy brother and grumpy sister. Nothing worked right without you.”

“Nothing felt right without you there, either,” Buck agreed, tears running down his face. “I thought the only way I could have you was to let you have your space. But just having your friendship isn’t enough. It was never enough, but I was so afraid of losing you that I compromised and was miserable. You’re it for me, sentinel. Latent, online, I don’t care. You are the only sentinel for me. I love you, Edmundo Diaz. I love you and your kid and your Abuela, who I totally get to keep. And you’re right. We have a family, and I’m not willing to lose any of it to fear again.”

“You won’t. I’m not afraid anymore. I love you. And if, for any reason, a sentinel comes to claim you, I am going to fight back with everything I have because you are mine.” Eddie leaned back in for another kiss. This one was gentle and expressed every bit of love he could put into it. Buck was rigid, brittle even, at first, then just melted against him.

Gentle warmed, grew, and then flashed over into passion between one breath and the next. Eddie let his hands roam under Buck’s shirt, lifting to run his hands over skin. “I need to touch.”

“Hell, yes.” Buck pulled off the shirt while kicking off his shoes.

They shed clothes on the way to the bedroom in a dance that had them constantly touching: hands, lips, skin.

Eddie backed Buck up to the bed and then lowered down on top of him, deepening the kiss and starting to rub off against him before the burn of skin pulled him back.


Eddie looked around and winced, “I don’t have any condoms. I never used them before, and it was really unpleasant when I tried. I haven’t found any that I don’t have a reaction to yet.”

“I’ve never been without a condom, but I’m willing with you, Eds. I’m clean. Unbonded guides are required to get tested quarterly whether we’re active or not.”

“I’ve been tested recently, so I’m fine.”

“Then I say forget about the condoms.”

“Agreed…Lube.” Eddie headed for his bathroom before turning around with his hands up. “Stay right there.”

He tore open his medicine cabinet, searching for the bottle he knew was there. He normally did this in the shower, so was pretty sure he’d never opened the bottle. A wave of relief hit him when he found it, and he raced back to the room and just froze as he saw Buck spread out on the bed, knees apart, with his hand slowly stroking his dick. He was pretty sure he just lost IQ points.

Something in him felt very possessive, and he was moving catlike toward the bed, stalking his prey. Eddie’s voice was deep and rough when he reached him. He lightly gripped Buck’s wrist and slowly pulled his hand away. “Let me.”

He watched Buck for any sign he should stop as he wrapped his hand around Buck’s cock and slowly lowered his head down to taste. Eddie gave into one of his fantasies from the last few months and ran his tongue up the shaft and around the head before licking at the slit. Then he lowered down and took just the head into his mouth and sucked as if he had a popsicle.

The sound of Buck groaning went right to his groin, and he pulled off to repeat the action. This time instead of pulling off, he swallowed in one long action taking in over half before pulling back for a breath and going again and again as he set a rhythm.

It wasn’t long before Buck was gasping his name in an unintelligible warning and spasmed just before his orgasm hit. Eddie smiled at his ability to reduce Buck to monosyllabic nonsense and continued softly sucking until Buck was twitching from overstimulation.

Eddie crawled up the bed to lie beside him, his head propped up on one hand, to watch as Buck came down from his high. Staring at this beautiful man beside him, he realized this…this was Evan. Not his work partner, his life partner. Open and real in a way Buck would never be. Evan, who he would fight to keep. Evan, who he loved.

Evan leaned up to meet him for a kiss and smiled, “Eds, where the hell did you learn to do that? I thought Shannon was the only person you’ve had sex with.”

“Well, you’ve been gone almost five months, Evan. I may have used some of that time for internet videos and practice.” Eddie blushed a little when Evan stared at him in shock.

“Practice? Wait, do you have toys around here?” Evan raised an eyebrow at Eddie with a mischievous grin.

Eddie flushed, then raised his chin, “I may have purchased some aids to determine what I like.”

“Hell, yes. I can’t wait to see what you’ve learned.”

“I’m ready to give you anything you want, or at least try. Tell me what you need, Evan.”

Eddie noticed how he shivered when Eddie called him by his name and smiled, “Come on, Evan. Talk to me.”

Evan’s voice was slightly strained. “In me. I want to feel you in me.”

Eddie grabbed the lube and fumbled with it to remove the seal. “Whatever you need for the rest of our lives.”



Evan was straddling Eddie’s lap on the couch, trading kisses like teenagers making out. He didn’t think he would ever get enough of this.

“Dad! Buck! I’m home!” Chris yelled as soon as the door flew open.

Evan looked up to see Daniel and his parents standing in the doorway behind him, all with identical smirks on their faces.

Chris paused for just a moment before he cheered and came rushing to the couch. “Daddy, is Buck your boyfriend now? Do we get to keep him forever?”

Evan knew he had a deer in the headlights look right now, but Eddie just smiled up at him softly and said, “Yeah, mijo. He’s all ours now. Aren’t you, Evan.”

Blushing slightly, Evan nodded and buried his face against Eddie’s neck as he crawled off of him. He felt his family’s amusement, but he ignored all of them as he looked at Chris, who was doing a happy dance while holding onto the arm of the couch. “Are you ok with that?”

“Yes. You were my Buck, but now you’re our Buck. Are you going to come live with me and Daddy?”

“Well, we haven’t talked about that yet,” Evan began.

Eddie just pulled Chris in close and whispered in his ear.

Chris gave him the biggest puppy dog eyes, “Will you please come live with me and Daddy so we can all be a family?”

“You really want me to move in, Eds?”

“You already have. You just don’t know it yet.”

“Ahem…now that that has been settled.”

Evan winced and looked at Eddie, who suddenly noticed the two strangers in the room.

“So, I suppose I should introduce you. Eddie Diaz, I would like you to meet Randall and June Meyrick, my parents.”

Suddenly Eddie was pushing him aside and struggling to get to his feet. His face went pale before blushing in a way Evan had never seen. “Mr. and Mrs. Meyrick, it is a…pleasure to meet you.” He turned around and offered Evan a hand up, his eyes opened wide in terror as he traded looks with Evan.

“Please, it’s Rand and June. I think we should take some time to get to know one another.” Dad offered his hand to shake, and Eddie gulped and looked to Mom for approval before accepting it.

Mom offered her hand as well and gave Eddie one of the looks she gave battle-hardened sentinels when they displeased her. “So, Edmundo. Tell us about yourself and your intentions toward my son.”



Eddie woke up from the best sleep he had in years. He reached to the side where he could feel the indention from where Evan had slept and noted that it was cool to the touch. He grabbed Evan’s pillow and dragged it close to breathe in his scent.

The sounds of giggles and voices from the kitchen made him smile as he imagined what his family was doing in there. He allowed himself to just close his eyes and listen to those sounds while basking in the peace it brought. Lips against his brought him back to the present, and he looked up into glowing eyes.

“Coffee’s ready. You’ve got about ten minutes until the hashbrown casserole is out of the oven. I figured you might want to get dressed.”

“Would rather spend the day in bed with you.” Eddie frowned at the thought of having to go to work.

“It won’t be long, and I’ll be there with you,” Evan said. “Got a text from Bobby that my requalification will be in four days. It was the first available, and they promise to publish the report as soon as I finish. I’ll be back at the station first shift after.”

“Still too long, but I’ll take it. Kinda crummy that they’re making you do it,” Eddie complained.

“I’ll jump through their hoops if it gets me back to work. I was going stir-crazy. I mean, my uncles are terrific at keeping me occupied, but there is only so long someone can be cooped up before you just lose it.”

“True. Everyone is going to be so excited to hear you’re back.” Eddie looked at Evan and shrugged, “Kinda want to keep you to myself for a while.”

Evan’s grin was blinding. “I made Bobby promise not to tell anyone I was back for a few days. Only he and Athena know. So if we can convince Chris not to tell everyone, then we can still have a couple of days.”

“That’s a plan. So what are you doing today.”

“Well, I did promise Chris that today would be for just the two of us. We’re going to go out and do whatever strikes us as fun. He did mention the science museum and movies yesterday, so we’ll see what the day brings.”

“Buck! The timer went off!” Chris bellowed from the kitchen.

“Oh, I better get that.” Evan leaned down for another kiss before he broke away. “I’m coming! Did you put the trivets on the table?”

Eddie made quick work of his morning routine and joined his family at the table as Evan was filling glasses and handing the picante sauce to Chris to doctor his own breakfast.

He ate and watched as the two most important people in his life made plans for their day full of fun and excitement. He finally felt comfortable in his skin in a way he hadn’t since Evan left, and yet there was this tiny itch in his gut that made him pause.

Evan gave him a questioning look, and Eddie just shook his head. “I’m just jealous about all the fun you two are going to have.”

Evan smiled a little sadly and then nodded. “Well, I guess next time, you will just have to come with us.”

“Yeah, Dad, next time you can come if it’s not a Christopher and Buck Day. Those are sacred.” Chris told him seriously.

“Well, I would never interrupt a Christopher and Buck Day. But maybe we should start Family Days, too. Then we can all go together to do something fun.”

Chris nodded, his head bobbing up and down frantically. “Family Day, yes!” Then he dug in to finish his breakfast.

“Family Day…” Evan locked eyes with him, and Eddie could practically see a flush of happiness flow through him.

Before he knew it, they were out the door and climbing into their vehicles. Chris and Evan waved wildly at him as they pulled out of the driveway and took off to whatever destination they had decided on. Eddie smiled and waved back at them.

As he watched them disappear around a corner, he felt the smile drop into a frown as the itch in his gut grew.



Chapter Twelve

Eddie worked his way through his assignment list at the firehouse in silence. Every ounce of concentration focused on his tasks while a buzz of energy vibrated under his skin. He noted that his coworkers tried to draw him into conversations, but they were a minor distraction to be ignored when not out on a call.

Eventually, they gave up, but he heard them muttering behind him. Eddie felt their eyes on him. He wanted to tell them to stop, but even that much was a distraction he did not need.

When he finished his list, Eddie moved to the ambulance to repeat the process.

There was a sense of urgency and anticipation fighting one another in the air. Under that was an itch that he couldn’t scratch. An itch strangely resembling the one he had the last time Buck was at the station.



“Captain Burgess, I am connecting you to Sergeant Dominguez. He will be your channel 4 for the remainder of this call.”

“Thank you, dispatch to.”

Daniel listened as the fire captain coordinated with the police sergeant for a moment to make sure the feed transitioned smoothly, and the two coordinated their forces for the rescue. Once he was certain their assistance was no longer needed, he tapped the 9-1-1 dispatcher, Josh, on the shoulder with a smile.

“Great improvisation there,” Daniel winced internally, wondering if he was laying it on too thick. He was seriously hoping his gaydar was working right. Why can’t he have Evan’s confidence in asking someone out?

“Thanks!” Josh motioned toward the screen. “I’m just amazed how well this equipment merges with the current call system without having to resort to phones.”

Daniel felt a little thrill that the man appreciated his work, “It’ll be a learning curve, but I’m excited about how well phase 2 has been going. A couple more weeks of this, and we will be ready for phase 3.”

“I’m looking forward to phase 3 myself. I only wish we could be here to see it.” The voice from behind was a surprise.

Daniel stood up and turned, “Rand, June, I didn’t think you were able to make it here today.”

“Our meetings for the rest of today were rescheduled, so we decided to take you up on your invitation if that’s ok?” Rand gave him a little hug.

“Since I’d already gotten you a visitors’ pass, it’s perfectly ok. You can watch some of our phase 2 in action.” Daniel glanced back and then blushed slightly at the look Josh was giving him. “Oh, let me introduce you to my partner in crime today. This is dispatcher extraordinaire Josh Russo. Josh, this is June and Rand Meyrick. They are….”

“Responsible for insisting that discrimination against sexual orientation be included on the federal protection laws that granted marriage equivalency to all sentinel and guide bonds and thus set a precedent allowing same-sex marriage to be recognized. I’m a huge fan.” Josh enthused as he nodded to each, “I’m thrilled to meet you, Primes Meyrick, but you’re a little far from your territory, aren’t you?”

Daniel was doing an internal happy dance. Hell, yes, gaydar functioning at peak performance, and he already loves the parents. He wanted to do a fist pump but caught the look from Rand and tried to turn away, which didn’t work when June stepped up.

“Daniel here is as close to a son as it can get,” June slid an arm around Daniel to hug him, “so of course, we visit once or twice a year. When we heard that he’s been working on his project in the field, we just had to see it in action. We are just so proud of him. And, of course, I’m interested in anything that can expand the range of my sentinels safely. Which is why phase 3 will be so exciting.”

Josh looked confused, “Phase 3 is just an expansion of the current test, right?”

“Not exactly.” Daniel reached over and pulled a couple chairs around for June and Rand to join them. “Phase 3 involves including sentinels and guides in the field. We have six guides who are finishing this last Dispatcher Class. They will finish their training this week and work for at least two weeks as regular dispatchers before we transition them onto the Guide Assist line. The idea being they can assist sentinels in the field when a guide is not near enough to them to provide support.”

“Let’s not forget that bonded pairs can have their own dedicated channel when they separate in the field so that they can do the same.” Rand motioned, “But the part that excites me the most is the haptic feedback system. Phase 1 testing with volunteers at the Center was an enormous success. So much so that the S&G Council is approaching Synchronicity Systems to discuss adapting a version of the device for training and monitoring sentinels as a backup to our conservator system. We are excited to see research expand there.”

Daniel felt Josh stare at him, and he tried to force himself to sit still. He looked to June, who was smirking at his embarrassment.

“Well, I know you’re busy and don’t want to waste your time. So, why don’t we get back to work?” Daniel shot them a look, then turned to face the computer so he could imagine they weren’t completely invading his privacy.

He could hear the smile in Rand’s voice. “We’ve cleared the rest of the day, so we can take all the time we need.”

It was college dating all over again.



“Diaz!” Bobby called out from the kitchen, “Come help me with the prep for lunch.”

Eddie hesitated a moment as he was triple-checking the fire extinguishers. Then closed them up and headed up the stairs. “What do you need?”

Bobby motioned toward a mound of vegetables on the counter. “Wash up and then start cutting. I’m planning on stir fry for lunch if we don’t get a callout. If we do, then it will still be ready for dinner.”

With a nod, Eddie headed for the sink and then turned to start chopping. They worked in silence for a while, which was fine with Eddie. But he could feel Bobby’s eyes on him. He figured it was just a matter of time.

“So, is everything going ok, Eddie?”

“Everything is fine.”

“You just seem a little tense today. If you need to talk, I’m here.”

Eddie grimaced and chopped into the bell peppers with a bit more force than needed. “There’s nothing to talk about.” He glanced over, and Bobby was looking around, but everyone else was downstairs.

Bobby lowered his voice a bit, “I was wondering if a mutual friend of ours might have been in contact….”

Looking up at Bobby, Eddie paused his chopping for a moment. “Yeah, I guess you could say he’s been in contact. But we’re hoping to keep it quiet a few days.”

“I respect that. I agreed not to mention it.”

Eddie started chopping again and had a couple more minutes of silence before Bobby continued speaking, “I was kind of hoping that maybe you would be in a better mood today. I take it that the reunion didn’t go well?”

“The reunion was spectacular,” Eddie said, a little breathless at the memory. He noticed Bobby giving him a knowing look, and he felt the blush flow over his skin. Bobby’s lips twitched into an aborted grin.

“Well, if your evening was so spectacular, then what has you so tense today?”

With a shrug, Eddie dumped the peppers into a container and then reached for the mushrooms. “I don’t know. It feels like I’m waiting for something bad to happen. I can’t explain it. I know it’s not logical. But I can’t help the feeling that something’s going to happen, and we need to be prepared.”

Bobby packaged up the chicken breast he had been cutting and scrubbed down the knife and cutting board. “Have you ever had this feeling before?”

“A few times.”

“Anything happen those times that you can remember?”

“Well, once I earned a Silver Star. Then there was an Earthquake in L.A. that had me climbing in a falling hotel. Oh, and some guys tried to murder Buck in the firehouse.” Eddie didn’t meet Bobby’s eyes when the man spun back around from the sink.

“Eddie?” Bobby’s voice broke at the end.

“I know.” Eddie just shook his head and put down the knife. “It feels like all of those combined, which is ridiculous and impossible. But I just need to keep my focus until I know why I feel this way.”

“If you need anything, let me know.”

“I will.”

Bobby reached out to take the abandoned knife and chopping board. “So, any idea what he’s doing today?” he asked, blatantly changing the subject.

Eddie grinned and was relieved to go with it, “He said he’s been cooped up too long, so they are having a Chris and Buck Day. The two of them take off and do whatever crazy thing comes to mind. Chris has really missed doing it, so I’m happy the two of them are out there bonding somehow. He’s kinda it for me, and knowing he loves my son that much just takes my breath away sometimes.”

“I truly am happy for the two of you…well, the three of you. I’m proud of you for taking the chance.”

“Are we going to have any trouble with the department because we work together?”

“No, Buck’s an online guide, so he is exempt from those rules.” Bobby glanced up at Eddie’s questioning eyebrow and shrugged, “The rules assume he’s working with his sentinel, but they don’t state it or exclude anyone else. They didn’t imagine the possibility when they wrote the rules.”

Eddie laughed and reached out to snag some of the raw vegetables. He bit down, and pain/heat/burning flowed through his mouth and made his eyes water as it took his breath away. He rushed to the sink and spit it out before rinsing out his mouth, but that didn’t kill the fire. He spun around, ignoring Bobby’s questions, as he headed for the fridge and grabbed the container of yogurt. Grabbing a spoon, he popped the lid and took a big bite, just holding the yogurt in his mouth to kill the fire.

He bent over, holding onto the counter while he caught his breath. When he finally could stand again, Bobby was holding out a cold, damp kitchen towel to him with a concerned look on his face.

Eddie took the towel and just held out a hand to ask for a minute. He carefully cleaned the tears from his face, then nodded when he was feeling more normal.

“I think a ghost pepper or something is hiding in there.” He motioned toward the containers of vegetables.

Bobby glanced at the container and then back at Eddie. “There’s nothing but red and green bell peppers in there.”

Eddie shook his head and moved back to examine them. “There’s got to be something wrong with them because that was the hottest pepper I’ve ever tasted.”

Reaching in, Bobby selected one at random and nibbled on it. “There’s nothing wrong with these.”

Tentatively Eddie reached for another and gave it a sniff, but it smelled like normal bell pepper. He cautiously took the smallest taste, but no heat returned. It was fresh, bright, and slightly sweet. He shook his head in confusion. “Bobby, trust me, that was hot.”

“Maybe one of them had a drop of oil from another pepper that didn’t come off when I washed it?”

Even to Eddie’s ears, Bobby’s explanation was lacking. He started to open his mouth when the alarm went off. They shoved the vegetables into the refrigerator and took off to the engine.

As they climbed in, Bobby called out, “Fire in a food truck.”

They made it to the fire as quickly as traffic allowed, Eddie with a constant thrum of faster, go faster revving in the back of his mind. The sense of impending doom was building, and the itch in his gut had spread out over his skin.

He was up and out of the engine the moment it slowed, racing toward the truck to check that the propane tank was shut off. It wasn’t, so he corrected that problem, then raced back to suit up and grab the extinguisher Bobby had at the ready because water and a grease fire were lousy combinations.

Twenty minutes later, Eddie was standing next to Hen and Chim, who had already put away the first aid supplies after treating the minor burns and smoke inhalation from the truck operators. He watched as the remainder of the smoke from the fire drifted into the sky and felt an immense pressure pressing down on his entire body.

He ripped at his helmet and mask, letting them fall carelessly to the concrete at his feet before he bent over, trying desperately to pull in a breath. People were talking to him, but he couldn’t hear. All he could do was feel…feel as if his very soul was being hammered down.

Pain and pure terror overwhelmed him, and he felt himself drop to his knees. He pressed upward with his hands to keep his face from hitting the sidewalk. The world was spinning, spinning, and it was hard to tell which way was up. Eddie fought against it with everything he had. He knew without a doubt that he couldn’t give in.

Then the world popped, and the pressure lessened. Eddie drew in two ragged breaths and looked around. Random people were sitting or lying on the ground. Even people standing were crying without any cause. Hen was checking the vitals of an elderly woman while Chim was running from person to person, evaluating them.

Eddie rolled over and sat down on the ground, his head still swimming slightly but trying to push off the unease. He focused on bringing his breathing under control as he did that. A hand gently squeezed his shoulder, and he looked back into Bobby’s concerned eyes.

“Eddie, you ok?”

He cocked his head to the side in consideration. “Something happened.” A piercing alert blasted out from phones all over the place, and he dug frantically into his pocket to silence it. His eyes caught on the alert, and he froze before looking back at Bobby. “Tsunami.”



Rand felt June’s arms wrapped around him and then noticed she was kneeling on the floor beside him. His chair was overturned, and he realized he must have gone down hard. Mentally he reached out to caress the anchor that his sentinel provided for his shields, then he took a moment to get his own house in order before he sat about buffering everyone in the 9-1-1 Call Center.

Sensitive mundanes and a couple of latents that worked here were reacting badly, so he sent out a calming pulse over the building. Rand took a couple more breaths, then reached out to sample the energy that had caused the trouble.

Alerts started going off around them, and he glanced up at one monitor that was flashing with a Tsunami Alert. Closing his eyes, Rand said a brief prayer for those who were lost and then took June’s hand.

He cleared his throat and then pushed a bit of Guide Voice out as he announced to the floor, “If I may have your attention. My name is Randall Meyrick, and I am the Prime Guide for the East Coast. As the highest-ranking Guide in the City of Los Angeles at this time, I am declaring a Level 5 Psionic Event in addition to the natural disaster you have today. I know you have protocols for such things, so I will not interfere. Thank you.”

Rand glanced over to June, who was already on the phone with the Los Angeles Center to mobilize the emergency task forces. He glanced back at Daniel, whose eyes were a little glassy from the after-effects of the Event. It was far from over. A natural disaster of this magnitude was bound to have secondary or even tertiary events as sentinels and guides came online.

He ran a hand through Daniel’s hair while he helped him restore his equilibrium, then he turned toward the people who were organizing the emergency services information. It would be best if he stayed here to cut through red tape in utilizing sentinel and guide volunteers in the search and rescue efforts. While he wished he could be out there in the middle of this, instinctively, he knew that his service was needed here.

Rand spotted the Supervisor, Sue Blevins, and approached her as she was giving orders to various staff members. “I don’t want to get in the way of you or your staff, but I feel I can best be of service to the City here. I know the LA Center has a coordinator en route to work with you per protocols, but if you can point me in the right direction, I can start setting up.”

Sue gave a slight smile at that. “Thank you. Let me show you the dedicated space we have for the Center, and I will task someone with getting what you need.”

“When it comes to that, please, let me know what you need as well. I’ve got a lot of political weight to throw around, and I’m not above doing it to make sure your people can do their jobs.”

She paused a moment, then gave him a more genuine smile. “I’m going to accept that offer. Today I think we will need all the help we can get.”



Evan sprawled across the roof of the fire engine, sucking in great gulps of breath. Fingers of one hand clenched in Christopher’s shirt, and on the other hand, they were digging into his chest as he resisted the urge to claw at the pain surrounding his heart. Wave after wave of terror/urgency/pain/shock/death was battering his shields, and it felt like it was never going to end.

It was overwhelming and was blasting away at shields that were too brittle to maintain. If he were bonded, he wouldn’t be this weak. If he were bonded, he would have an anchor to hold him and give him the strength and balance to sustain himself. Thought was becoming hard, and he knew it was important not to give in to the darkness, but he couldn’t remember why.

There was movement, and suddenly he was bathed in sunshine wrapped in rainbows. It warmed him from the inside out, and he took a breath and then another. Evan opened his eyes and looked down to where Christopher was now snuggled into his side, sharing body heat and that amazing aura that seemed to glow out and encompass the whole truck. Evan’s empathy latched on and created a bond, a tether, similar to the one he shared with his father. His shields followed that pseudo-anchor and blocked out the waves of psionic energy that were battering him.

He lay there a few minutes more before Chris shook him. “Buck, look.”

Chris was pointing out across the flowing water to a woman who was holding on for dear life. He looked between the life that could be saved and Christopher, knowing that his service to the tribe hadn’t ended yet. Time to get to work.



The 118 reported to the Disaster Command Center and started pulling gear as Captain Nash received instructions. Eddie kept one ear on that conversation while he filed away general locations for the distant cries for help he could hear. It was a bit odd that no one was mentioning them, but he figured that Command must have someone issuing directions based on those calls.

They faded in and out, so Eddie decided it was best to focus on his assigned tasks. There were rescuers pouring in, so he had to trust them to get to everyone possible. He glanced out over the destruction and shivered at the knowledge that so many people in this area did not survive.

Just the thought of how many people must have been on the pier and at the beach today twisted his gut. He was so glad that Chris and Evan were together. Eddie reached for his phone and considered trying another call. The phone lines were going in and out…more out actually the closer they got to the disaster zone, so it was unlikely he would be able to reach them today.

Eddie thought back to that moment when it felt like the world was ending and knew that Evan had to have had that experience ten times over, as sensitive as he was to the energy. The alert listed it as a Level 5 Psionic Event. He knew from his training that an Empathic Event was caused by a compromised guide. But a Psionic Event was like the world itself was crying out in pain. So many deaths so close together resonates with the energy that sentinels and especially guides tap into and sends that disharmony out for all to feel.

Evan had told him that he had a profound link to the psionic plane, and Eddie hadn’t really accepted that. Then. Now, well…his disbelief had been shattered with a single wave. It knocked him on his ass, and he would never again scoff when a guide insisted that the psionic plane connected them all.

There had been a second event, not as big as the first. He’s not surprised to learn there was a second wave.

“Diaz!” Eddie flinched at the volume and looked up to see Chim about four feet from him. Did the man seriously have to yell? “Cap has our boat assignments. Get a move on.”

Chim turned and headed off when Eddie nodded at him, so he grabbed the last of his gear and took off following him. He shook his head to clear it and jogged the last few yards to load up and climb in next to Bobby. He felt jittery, and Bobby was the only thing here that felt steady. Today, that seemed important.

They headed out together in a group of six boats, following a path through the debris. Others had already passed this way. That grim reality could be told by the identifying armbands marking the dead. Eddie forced himself to look away from that and focus on finding the living.

The sound of a baby crying nearby alerted him, and he turned to look. No one else reacted, which was ridiculous because that kid had a good set of lungs. When the boat turned to move away from it, he called out, “That way!” and pointed down what had to be a side street based on the signposts that barely topped the water.

“Crew just came back from searching there.”

“So we’re just going to leave the baby crying down there?” Eddie couldn’t believe the looks they were giving him.

Bobby looked in that direction and then back at Eddie, “I don’t hear anything.”

They cut the engine and everyone listened, but they just shook their heads when Eddie gaped at them.

“Seriously? That kid’s loud enough to be heard in another time zone, and you’re telling me you can’t hear him?”

Bobby firmed up his lip and wrinkled his brow for a moment before he nodded and gestured for the driver to steer in the direction of the baby. It was far enough in that Eddie was surprised the kid could be heard so far, but he spotted a bit of red in the tree. Pointing, they all sprang into action.

Mom was clinging to the branch, trying to keep the upper half of her body out of the water. The baby appeared to be about two months old and was strapped to her chest by a long length of wet fabric. The baby’s wails were loud and clear as they approached.

It was short work getting them into one of the boats. A quick health check showed Mom was shocky and bruised with a possible concussion. The baby was surprisingly unscathed, but her temperature was a bit low, so they sent that boat back with the victims.

Eddie felt everyone’s eyes on him as he stowed their gear to get underway again. He tried to ignore them because it seemed pointless to say I told you so.

“Eddie? How are you doing over there?” Bobby asked softly as they turned to head back the way they had come.

“I’m fine. I’m not sure why everyone is acting so strange. So I heard the baby when no one else did. We’ve got a job to do, and everyone just needs to push off the shock and focus.”

“Eddie, the baby wasn’t loud enough to be heard as far away as we were, much less over the sound of the engines.”

“Obviously, you’re wrong. It had a pretty healthy set of lungs. Everyone was a little too focused on what was in front of them. They’ll do better next time.”

“Right. So, Eddie, you’re not having any trouble hearing me right now, either?”

“Well, you are right next to me.” Eddie glanced over at Bobby with a little grin. Bobby was looking away from him and had a cloth over part of his face.

“But I’m whispering low enough that I can barely hear me.” Bobby looked back and then removed the cloth as he raised an eyebrow in question.

Eddie leaned back a little and looked back and forth between Bobby, the blaring engine, and the cloth, then just shook his head in confusion.


“It’ll be ok, kid.”



Evan sat down and pulled Christopher in for a cuddle. It took him a moment to realize that it was himself and not Christopher who was shaking. They were in a lull between victims and waves. So far, they had gotten wet here, but no one had been swept off the engine during the second wave.

He glanced over at everyone who was sitting silently and still. Traumatized by the destruction and their own survival. That trauma was pressing in on Evan in empathic waves, and it was hard to ignore since he had to actively scan for survivors approaching that he could save. Holding back the urge to scream at someone to get it together when all he felt was a burst of despair, Evan swallowed hard before he forced himself to take several cleansing breaths to settle his mind.

Evan rested his chin on Christopher’s shoulder and felt slightly guilty that he was relying on this tiny child to keep him sane. Empathic shock was just around the corner, but he couldn’t allow it to take him. He had a job to protect the tribe and protect this child. Right now, Christopher was his life.



“Dispatch, this is Captain Nash with the 118.”

“This is Dispatch,” Josh answered.

Daniel held back a little smile at hearing his brother’s Captain calling in. So far, all of the radios in his test had been performing admirably in the disaster area. It wasn’t the test he had envisioned, but it proved that they were reliable and, in many cases, were maintaining better connections than the current models.

“I have an issue, and I need to know if there is an S&G liaison available to speak to me.”

Josh looked over at Daniel, confused. “We do have a liaison at the Center. Can I ask about the issue in question?”

“I have a first responder that may be coming online, and I need some instruction,” Captain Nash responded reluctantly based on his tone.

Josh’s fingers were flying across his keyboard as protocols appeared on the screen. “I can help you with the standard procedures, Captain.”

“I don’t think this is a standard situation.”

Daniel blinked a few times, then motioned to Josh to let him speak. Josh opened the mic, and Daniel took a breath, “Captain Nash, this is Daniel Buckley. Is Eddie coming online?”

“Daniel.” There was a pause like he was considering. “He might be, but I’ve read his file, so…I’m not sure.”

Josh just looked confused, but Daniel nodded. “Hold on, I have just the person you need to speak to.” He just held out his palms to Josh to ask him to have patience and then took off running to the room that was designated for the S&G task force. “Rand, we need you.”

June was already pulling Rand out of the room. He should have known the sentinel was keeping an ear on him.

“Captain Nash is radioing in from Santa Monica. The 118 is assigned to search and rescue operations. He thinks Eddie might be coming online.”

Rand barely heard the last word before he took off running. Daniel could barely keep up with the two of them.

“Captain Nash, this is Rand Meyrick. Tell me what is happening.”

“Eddie was acting strange before the tsunami hit. Similar to the day the station was attacked. When the Psionic Event happened, he went down like a lot of other people did, but he seemed fine when he recovered. We are out here in the search zone now, and he’s hearing things none of us are able to hear. Every time we check, he’s correct.”

“Is it just hearing? Any other signs?”

“Earlier today, his sense of taste acted strange for a moment. He thought a bell pepper was a ghost pepper.”

“Sight, feeling, smell, any of those showing signs?”

“Not that I’ve seen yet, but right now, everything just smells like salt water. Once or twice I’ve wondered about his eyesight, but frankly, he’s always had better vision than anyone else on the team.”

“OK, with an Event like we’re experiencing, we have a lot of sentinels and guides coming online in response. I’ve read Firefighter Diaz’s official Center file, so I know he has a unique history with intense situations. I’m going to be honest with you, it is very possible that he is coming online. Your description is atypical of his history. Now you probably know standard protocol calls for immediately removing the emerging sentinel from the field, but this isn’t a standard protocol situation.”

Rand looked to June, who nodded, and then he continued. “Sentinels who come online during Natural Disasters are normally task oriented. You could say they are motivated to complete a specific task. To remove them from the field is to interfere with them completing the task for which they came online. If we do that, we risk him destabilizing and experiencing zones and spikes. It’s not a good situation at all.”

“But isn’t it better to have him zone or spike somewhere he can receive support instead of out here in the field where it can mean life or death?”

“Captain Nash, if he is coming online now, he is running on instinct, and those instincts will keep him balanced. All the support he needs is someone he trusts to have his back. I guarantee you he won’t experience zone or spike issues until he is able to come down from alert.”

“I hear what you are saying, but we have no one here who knows what to watch for when it comes to sentinels.”

Daniel stood up straight and glanced over toward the guide station that was already set up and ready for use. “Captain Nash, this is Daniel Buckley again. You recall my primary purpose for the radio system you are testing. Can you confirm that Eddie is wearing the complete system? I know some of you guys have tried to remove the behind-the-ear….”

“Yes, he’s wearing it. We all are because we don’t want to invalidate your test.”

“Good, then I think we are going to have an early test run of phase 3. Rand, let’s get you set up over here, and we will give you a direct line to Eddie and Captain Nash. Captain, you will act as Eddie’s onsite guide. I’m going to bet Eddie’s been sticking close to you today, hasn’t he?”

“Yes, you could say that.”

“Evan told me that the reason he was interested in working for you at the 118 was that of all the Captains he met, you were the most Zen-like and easy to harmonize with. Eddie is going to feel that as well and respond because he instinctively will trust Evan’s impressions.”

“I’ll do what I can, but if this becomes an issue, I will have to reassign him.”

“Understood. But for now, you are going to be his support there, and Rand will be the voice in his head, guiding him. Let’s just see how he responds.”


Daniel was logging into the system before Rand made it to the station. He looked at the two of them and said softly, “Evan thinks Eddie is his sentinel.”

“I believe Evan is correct.”

“How can you know?”

“He has the aura of a Prime, and he’s not even online. There is only one unbonded Prime Guide alive at this time, and they both moved across the country to find one another. I don’t believe in chance. I believe in Fate.” Rand gave a soft smile as he glanced up at June.

Daniel watched them trade smiles and focused on her, “Do you think he’s coming online?”

“His file shows he’s been close before and stopped. Primes aren’t like other sentinels. We require a mission to bring us online. Those close calls before, those were missions, just not his mission. When I met him last night, there was a quality that told me he had finally accepted his mission and was just waiting for it to start.” June shifted slightly, and Daniel felt the presence of the Prime in a way she rarely projected. “He’s not online yet, but he’s not far away.”

“How can you tell?”

“Because we are all waiting. He hasn’t claimed his territory yet. When he does, every Prime will know it.”



Chapter Thirteen

“Take some breaths for me, Eddie, and focus on the warmth you can feel from Bobby’s arm. You did well finding that heartbeat through the water and the vibration of the saw, but you need to dial that back to normal now, or this boat ride will become painful. I know you’ve taken the basic classes, so you are familiar with the concepts. Don’t overthink them. Focusing on his normal body temperature is the same as trying to use dials or whatever visualization works for you. You’re just resetting your sense of touch to a normal range.” Rand’s voice was comforting and harmonic in his ear.

Eddie glanced at Bobby, who was letting him hold on while the boat headed for the ferris wheel at the pier. Bobby mimed the breaths, and Eddie nodded and took the breaths. The feeling of individual hairs faded away and became just a general sensation of skin and body heat. “Ok, I’ve got it.”

“Good work. That’s touch online. The only thing you’re missing now is smell.”

“I thought smell was normally one of the first to come online,” Eddie commented as they cleared the debris, and the top half of the ferris wheel came into view in the distance. Given how much water it would take to submerge half of it, he’s frankly amazed the thing is still standing.

“It could be your body’s way of protecting you.” Eddie could hear the sound of the chair Rand was in as he shifted position. “More than any other sense, smell can trigger memory and association. I’m not saying that you have something in your background that might trigger you. But by holding back scent, your mind and body are preventing a lot of the sights you’ve just had from forming an association. It’s just a pet theory of mine, so who knows. It could just be that your senses are coming online as you need them.”

Eddie finished examining the sight ahead and squeezed Bobby’s arm. “Cap, I see an LAFD blue uniform up there. The 136 was on the pier when it hit, right?”

Bobby followed where Eddie pointed toward the structure, though Eddie was sure he couldn’t make out individuals. “Yes, they were.”

The boats raced to the ferris wheel, and they confirmed that Lena Bosco, one of the 136 crew that had been on the pier when the wave hit, was alive and already assisting victims. Eddie and two others climbed and started lowering people to the waiting boats.

As in other rescues, Rand stayed quiet while he was working and only commented when Eddie hadn’t spoken in enough time to become concerned. It was a very natural rhythm, and the man had a voice that made you want to pay attention. He also had a droll sense of humor that explained so much about Evan.

They finally made it to the top and identified their third critical injury of the day. The vibration of the structure increased as it shook itself apart against the water, and it seemed to seep into Eddie’s bones. He forced himself to cycle through his senses the way Rand had described as he worked so that he wouldn’t focus too much on touch alone.

They had the male victim strapped to the backboard, ready for the rescue chopper, and could only sit back and wait. The female victim was belted up, but she insisted on staying until rescue arrived. Without much to do, Eddie focused on the story that Rand was telling of Evan’s many cat rescues growing up.

Sitting on the floor of the car, he leaned back against the bench and tried to ignore the jerks and vibrations coming up through the structure. He licked a drop of sweat from his lip and tasted the salt, which was mixed with a hit of seawater. He glanced out across the sky, hoping to spot the helicopter before they could hear it since he was still working on balancing sound. Point in fact, the sound of the wind around the ride was a little overpowering, so he focused back on Rand.

He hoped they didn’t have to sit still long because when it came to touch, familiarity built contempt in this situation. Every vibration shouted danger at him, and the rest of his senses desperately worked to prevent him from hyper-focusing on that feeling.

His gut was starting to itch again, and that was just adding to his touch issues. He licked his lips and then closed his eyes to the bright sun. Rand’s words started to run together as another wave of pressure overtook him.

Eddie leaned his head against the seat of the bench and took a deep breath, then froze. For a moment he couldn’t move, then it was as if he was wearing a mask and it was removed. Turning toward the bench, he took another breath, and then another, and another.

“Diaz, you ok over there?” Bosco called out from where she was taking another pulse.

Eddie ignored her and pulled in a deep breath through his nose, not quite trusting what he was smelling. He shifted around the victims to get to the other seat and practically pasted his face to the bench as he took breath after breath, moving faster and faster as he searched for an explanation.

A sudden sharp vibrating buzz against the skull behind his ear had him jerk away with a curse. “Fuck!”

“Diaz, you with me now?” Rand’s voice sounded in his ear. “You answer me, sentinel!” The order was clear and couldn’t be disobeyed.

“Chris…Christopher and Evan, they were here, Rand. I can smell them. Why do I smell them in the Ferris Wheel?” It made no sense. Of all the times and places to be smelling his family…

“Are you certain?” There were notes of fear and surprise in that question.

“Yes. Chris uses that apple shampoo. Evan used mine this morning. But he used my aftershave and…I honestly don’t know how to describe it, but I know how they smell.” Eddie thumped his hand down on the seat. “I just don’t know why I would be smelling them here of all places.”

The line went silent in a way he knew meant the other side had been muted. “Rand? Rand, talk to me, please.”

“Eddie, Evan hasn’t checked in with the Center yet, and his phone goes straight to voicemail.”

Eddie shook his head in denial. “They weren’t here, Rand. They can’t be…no.” His breathing started coming in gasps, and he was pushing away at a panic attack. It felt like his life was cracking.

“Calm down, Eddie.” Rand’s voice was forceful and soothing. It connected with a part of him that insisted he should listen to the guide. “Eddie, I promise you, my son is alive. And if mine’s alive, then yours is too. Evan loves that child and would do anything for him—you know this.”

“How are you sure?” It was a broken whisper that begged for something he could believe in.

“I’ve had a parental tether with Evan from the first moment I held that child. If he were gone, I would know it.” There was certainty and power in that statement. “There was a time before he learned to properly shield that I could have told you what condition he’s in. I can’t give you that, but it doesn’t matter how strong his shields are. I can tell you he’s alive.”

Nodding, Eddie sucked in another breath and caught the scent once more. “Yes, they’re alive. Wherever they are, they are together, and they’re alive.” He had to believe that, or he would lose it, and now was not the time to lose control.

He looked over and noticed Bosco watching him carefully. Eddie just shook his head to keep her from asking questions he didn’t want to answer. He looked away from the look of sympathy she was trying to hold back and spotted an object in the sky moving closer.

Eddie forced himself to refocus on his job and kneeled back next to the patient. “Alright, sir, your ride is almost here, so we’re going to tighten some of these straps and get you ready to load up the moment they arrive.” He took care of the chest straps while Bosco handled the feet, then stood up to grab the rig for the second victim’s harness.

By now, everyone could hear it approaching. There was a brief moment of relief when the patient was able to move his fingers, then some business with a signature he ignored before he maneuvered the woman into place and forced her to descend to make room for the basket.

Then it was just a matter of waiting for the helicopter to get into position.



Evan moved fast when the water started flowing back to sea to shield Christopher from seeing the bodies that were floating back with it. Someday Chris would understand the scope of this tragedy, but he couldn’t take that realization coming today. He didn’t want to have that conversation. Evan just wanted to protect him from that reality for as long as he could.

He pushed away the little voice in the back of his head that said, empathically, he couldn’t afford for his warm beam of sunshine to dim right now. That voice wasn’t wrong. He was holding on by a thread, and exhaustion was closing in.

The truck rocked as it was hit by debris, and Evan felt the flash of fear that came from victims in the water. Motioning Chris to stay put, he spun around and climbed over the cab to try to reach out and get hold of one of the people in the water. He almost had him when the truck was struck again, and the man was knocked back into the water out of reach.

At the same time, there was a burst of fear and a jerk on the tether he had with Chris. Evan paused for a precious moment before the adrenaline hit, and he was galvanized into action. Scrambling back over the cab, he looked in horror at the empty place where Christopher had been seated.

“Christopher!” He called out, then launched himself into the water after him.

Evan initially fought the current before he calmed himself and felt for the tether between himself and Chris. The tether that told him Chris was still alive and fighting. Evan altered his strategy and fought to swim with the current in the direction that link was leading him.

Every several strokes he would call out as loud as he could, “Christopher!” to make sure Chris had a chance of hearing him. He didn’t want Chris to think he was alone for a second.

Finally, he spotted him. The water had pressed Chris against the corner of a building. Evan could see that Chris was clawing at the building, but the water was slowly pushing him down the side and inevitably back into the open stream that was ocean-bound.

“Buck!” Christopher screamed as he continued to fight.

“Christopher, I’m coming!” Evan shouted before he kicked off and fought to make it across the flow of water before he was pulled past the building. He hit the building just behind Chris and bounced back a bit, having to struggle to find purchase. There was none, and he settled for reaching for Christopher instead.

“I’ve got you. Hold on, just hold onto me.” Chris twisted so he could latch onto Evan while Evan wrapped one arm around Chris and searched for something to grab onto. Time after time, he missed or couldn’t hold onto whatever structure was in their path. Time after time, the water pulled them under, and he had to fight to bring them back to the surface.

The next building they approached, Evan was able to grab hold of the twisted remains of a sign. Most of it was torn off, but the bracket attaching it to the building was still in place. It wouldn’t get them out of the water, but it would keep them from being washed out to sea. As long as they could hold on.

“Christopher, I’ve got you. Don’t let go.” Evan helped pull Christopher up higher so his arms were around his shoulders, and he felt more secure.

Some more debris was headed in their direction, so he pulled them up as far out of the water as he could and angled himself so he could kick out at the objects to push them away while twisting Christopher so that the child was between Evan and the building. It was all the shield he could offer.

There were only so many times he would be able to repeat that. So he adjusted his grip and then wedged his arm into the opening past his elbow to give himself a better grip and more leverage. It was hell on his shoulder, but better that than to fall back into the water.

“How you doing, superman?”

“Kept swimming, like Dori.”

“Yes, you did. You did great. I was afraid I had lost you.”

“I knew you would save me, Buck. You always save me.”

“Same here, Christopher. You’re my savior, too.” And even hanging from the side of a building with water ripping at his legs, Evan felt the sunshine pulsing from Chris.



The wave was going out, and a large debris field was rushing toward the ferris wheel. All save the last two boats had taken off for safety as Eddie and Bosco climbed over the railing to jump to safety. Eddie paused for a moment as Bosco jumped because he heard something shouted on the wind.


Eddie blinked, then looked down and jumped. The moment he surfaced, Bobby was there, reaching out to take his hand and pull him into the boat.

Eddie reached out his hearing again and heard it clear as day.


He knew that voice. “Evan.” Eddie shook his head and then looked around to see the boats were headed in the wrong direction. They were moving away from that voice.

“We have to turn around. We have to go back there,” Eddie grabbed Bobby with one hand and pointed in the direction of the voice with another.

“No, this is the way to our rendezvous point,” Bobby patted his arm and started to turn away.

“Bobby, I can hear Evan, and he’s shouting for Christopher.”

Shaking his head, Bobby’s brow furrowed, “That doesn’t make any sense.”

Eddie shook his arm in emphasis. “They were on the pier, Bobby.”

Rand came on their line. “His sense of smell has come online, and the first thing he smelled was the lingering scents of Evan and Christopher on the Ferris Wheel. Eddie is a fully online sentinel, and if he says he hears Evan’s voice, then he hears Evan’s voice, Captain Nash.”

Bobby looked back toward the shore and pursed his lips.

Every moment that the boat continued away was like a knife slicing into him. Eddie felt as if another presence inside was clawing its way out to stop them. The vibration of the boat against the water was a counter-beat to the energy vibrating outward from within. It pushed and clawed and growled like a tiger fighting its way out into the light. Suddenly it felt as if the surface tension popped, and Eddie turned to the driver and said, “Turn the boat around.” His voice had a distinct growl in it, and energy was pouring out, making the words forceful and heavy.

The man turned and then shook his head in disbelief.

Bobby looked between the two of them and then focused on Eddie. “Diaz, you need to calm down and reel that back in.”

“I need to get to my family.” Eddie felt like pacing, but there was nowhere for him to move. His imperative was clear. Protect the family, protect his guide, protect the pride, protect the tribe, and defend the territory of Southern California.

He could hear Rand’s voice coming through Bobby’s headset clear as day. “Captain Nash, Bobby, it is imperative that you do what he says. When a Sentinel Prime is this close to the edge, you help them, or you move, but you never stand in their way. I warned you that he came online for a mission. This is it.”

Bobby looked at the driver and nodded before pointing the way Eddie was directing them. “Watch for debris fields, and let’s head that way. Sentinel Diaz will give you direction.”

Eddie honed in on Evan’s voice through the screams for Christopher. The desperation he could hear wrenched at him. In fact, he could almost feel the fear and desperation with a second burst of fear and determination that he was certain belonged to his son.

Beside him was concern/awe/fear/pain. He pushed away at it as a distraction he didn’t need and lost the sound of Evan calling. “I can’t hear them.”

“It’s ok, Eddie. Listen to me instead.” Rand’s voice flowed over him, and he nodded.

“I’m listening.”

“You know what direction the voice was coming from. So we are going to use that and have you concentrate on smell. You should be close enough to pick it up on the wind. Take a deep, slow breath through your nose and focus on the key elements that mean Christopher. You’re going to know that scent even more than you know Evan.”

Eddie closed his eyes and took a breath. Then he turned his head slightly and repeated. There, just barely there, but in that direction. “I’ve got it.”

“You’re doing great. Now, Bobby, I want you to put your hand on Eddie’s arm. Skin-on-skin contact is best.”

Bobby reached out and pushed up Eddie’s sleeve before removing his glove and wrapping his fingers around Eddie’s wrist. “Done,” Bobby announced.

Rand took a steady breath and then blew it out. “Now, Eddie, you are going to focus on the direction of that scent and open your eyes. You are going to let the images for whatever you see flow in and follow the direction you are smelling. It’s called piggybacking, and it’s more natural than you can imagine. Just believe, and when you feel the two senses connect, sink into it and let it happen.”

Eddie tried to force it without success and, in frustration, just stopped pushing and let instinct guide him as he followed Rand’s corrections, and Bobby tightened his grip. Finally, it just clicked, and he let himself move through the air like a bird flying back along the wind currents through twists and turns until it brought him to Christopher, who was wrapped around Evan. Evan’s arm jammed up into some metal of a sign he could just make out.

Eddie pulled himself back out of it and shook it off. He looked around, getting his bearings, and then pointed in the direction they needed to go. “They’re two streets up, one east.”

They headed in that direction, and Eddie felt a moment of relief when they finally spotted them. They tried to move in, but the debris field around this side of the building was stacking up, and there was no way safely through it.

Bobby called out to them, “Buck! We’re coming for you. Just hang on a little longer.”

Evan just nodded back, obviously too tired to speak. He was using his legs to keep one large piece of flotsam from pinning them to the building, and it was creating a dam for the rest. Some were flowing around, but more and more were stacking up.

Bobby directed the boat around to the side of the building, and Eddie looked up to see the fire escape. He grabbed the extra gear in the boat and started to move up. Bosco stood to follow.

“Not you,” Eddie ordered her without a second thought.

Bosco scowled, “Excuse me? I’m already geared up in the harness from the Ferris Wheel.”

Eddie shook his head. “You’re hurt.”

“Is he right?” Bobby asked.

“I can do my job.” Bosco’s entire attitude was petulant and angry.

“That isn’t what I asked,” Bobby instantly responded. He threw on his Captain’s voice, “This isn’t a time for heroics. You’ve already proven yourself. Now answer the question, are you hurt?”

Bosco nodded reluctantly. “Bruised ribs.”

“If you’re lucky,” Eddie scoffed.

“You’re staying in the boat. We don’t have time for a debate. Take off the harness and hand it over.” Bobby wasn’t taking no for an answer. Eddie continued up as Bobby waited for the extra harness, then followed Eddie up to the roof.

Running to the other side, they looked down and spotted Evan and Christopher. “He’s not going to be able to put the harness on himself.”

“OK, let’s get you rigged up and over the side.” Bobby was already tying off the ropes as Eddie dropped them over, careful they wouldn’t get wrapped up in the debris.

Eddie carefully lowered himself down onto Evan’s left side, where he could reach Christopher first. “I’m almost there. Just hang on, Evan.”


“Hold tight, Chris.” Eddie fought the urge to wrap them in a hug and started belting Christopher up for safety. “Just stay still and let me do the work.” As soon as he was finished, he attached the link between them. “I’ve got him, Evan. You can let go.”

Evan shook his head. “I can’t let go.” He gave Eddie a piercing look, and Eddie realized he meant that literally.

“Ok, brace yourself. I’m going to take him from you.” Eddie pulled back on Evan’s hand until he moved enough that he could shift Christoper over onto himself. “Hold onto me, mijo. We’re going for a little ride.”

Looking up, he called out on the radio, “Pull us up!” Then he looked Evan in the eye. “You better be here when I get back, Guide.”

“I’ve got no place to go, Sentinel.”

They reached the top, and it was harder than he would believe to let go of Christopher. It went against every instinct he had to let Bobby take his son. But his guide was below him, and there was an urgency to get Evan up before something worse could happen.

He was back over the side and working his way down in a flash. Evan was too quiet. “You still with me there, Evan?”

The voice was much too tired for comfort. “See, still waiting on a Sentinel.”

“I better be the last one you wait on, ever.” Eddie worked fast to get a harness strapped around Evan’s body. Then he had Bobby raise him a couple feet. Once he was ready, he looked between Evan and the debris field. “Here’s what is going to happen. I’m going to step over and straddle you. Bobby’s up on our ropes and ready to pull. As soon as I give the word, you are going to kick back at that junk and then lift your legs out of the water. I’ll give you a lift assist against this building. Do you think you can do that?”

“I need to get my arm out first, but I’m not sure I can do that without shifting my legs.”

“Ok, one step at a time. Let me get in position.” Eddie shifted so he was straddling Evan and then braced against him. “Ok, you’re latched on, so you won’t drop. I’ve got your upper body contained. Get your arm out of that thing.”

It was awkward getting him to move just right, but Evan made quick work of the extraction. Without that extra support, his feet were having trouble keeping purchase.

“Bobby, ready to pull on my mark?”

“I’m ready, Diaz.”

“Eds.” Evan felt exhausted, and Eddie wasn’t even sure how he knew that.

“Don’t you dare give up on me, Evan. On three, you kick out and raise those legs.” Eddie stared him down until Evan nodded. “On three Cap. One…Two…Three!”

Evan kicked as Eddie pulled upward on his torso, and Bobby started hauling Buck’s rope up the building. The side of the building shook as the debris field slammed into the side and then scrapped its way down the exterior.

“Clear!” Eddie called out, then maneuvered his feet against the building and started walking his way up. When he reached Evan, the man was just hanging there.

He held a slight grin on his face but shook his head and looked up. “Hey, Eds. About time.”

“I came for you as soon as I could. You and Chris are my family, and I’ll always fight for my family.” Eddie wanted to pull him in and feel him, but now was not the time. “You ready to get out of here?”

“There’s no way I can climb this.”

“Today, I’m going to do the heavy lifting. Just relax and let me get up there to help Cap pull you up. The man’s only human, after all.”

“I heard that,” Bobby’s voice came through the headset. “Diaz, bringing you up now.”

Eddie reached out and squeezed Evan’s arm, then continued walking up the side as Bobby pulled. As soon as he was up, he climbed onto the roof and disconnected to join Bobby.

Bobby called down, “You’re next, Buck.”

Together they made short work of pulling him up to the roof and over the side.

The moment they were clear, Eddie latched onto Evan and just reveled in the way his senses seemed to click into place. Even battered, bruised, and exhausted, this was the best feeling he could have. He brushed back the hair that was plastered to Evan’s forehead and just drank him in.

“Hey, there,” Evan said with a tired smile.

“Evan.” Eddie leaned in for a gentle kiss that Evan returned. It felt like a promise.

With the clearing of a throat, they came apart. Captain Nash was staring down at them with a half-smile/have-stern look on his face. “I hope we won’t see a lot of repeats of this on the job.”

Evan leaned his head back and looked up at Bobby, “You know, there are entire codes of conduct written for acceptance of bonding rituals on the job. I’ll get you the rulebook.”

Bobby laughed, and Christopher laughed with them.

Eddie got up and gave Evan a hand before he turned around and lifted his son into his arms. “How are you, Christopher?”

“Buck saved me. Then you saved both of us.”

“I will always come to save you. My family is the most important thing in my life, and you are the heart of that, mijo. Always.” Eddie kissed his head and then turned back to where Bobby was keeping Evan steady.

“I think it’s time we get out of here.” Bobby led the way to the fire escape, and they made their way down to the boat. Eddie got Chris in and secure before helping Bobby with Evan, who was fading fast. It made him wonder exactly how long they were fighting the water.

“Eddie, can we speak to him?” Rand’s voice drifted in, and Eddie suddenly remembered his radio.

“Yeah.” Eddie pulled off the unit and leaned over to put it on Evan’s head.

Evan looked confused for a moment, “Eds?”

“Evan, sweetheart, are you ok?” Eddie could still hear Rand clear as day. He realized they might want a little privacy, but it wasn’t something he could give them right now.

“Dad? I’m fine, ok. I’m not injured. Just bruised, tired, and raw, you know?” Evan assured them.

“I understand. Just tell us what you need, and you have it.”

Evan looked toward Eddie and then down at Christopher, who Eddie couldn’t bare to let go of. “Well, I think it might be a good idea for someone to meet us and take us straight to the LA Center. I don’t think my sentinel is going to deal well with a hundred strangers at a field hospital right now.”

Eddie growled at that thought. No way in hell he wanted that many people near his family. He was twitchy enough with the ones in this boat.

“We can do that.” June’s voice dropped in. “Will you need a bonding suite?”

Evan blushed, “I think that’s a good idea.”

Eddie smirked at that look.

Chris leaned over to see Evan’s face, “Buck, did anyone else fall in?”

Evan jerked, “Oh, at last count, there were 18 people stranded on top of the 136 engine. It’s where Chris and I were able to take shelter when the first wave washed us in from the pier.” He rattled off the last location of the engine.

There were background voices calling for rescue at the engine, and then Rand assured them that help was on its way.

An LA Center Medical team met them as they reached the closest checkpoint. They didn’t even stop to check them over before loading them up for transport. Evan allowed himself to be strapped onto the gurney for the ride with Christopher lying across his lap and chest.

They were careful to ask Eddie’s permission before touching either of them, and Evan noticed that Eddie was precariously close to dropping into Protector. Once they were certain there were no major injuries, shock, or breathing trouble, the medics backed away and gave them space.

Chris was asleep before they made it to the Center. That was a good thing because everyone seemed to be there when they arrived. With the kind of psionic event this caused, it wasn’t a surprise that the Center services were flooded. But it was a lesson in instinct that few would forget when a newly online Prime walked in and growled.

As if it were choreographed, everyone fell back to open a path and came to attention. Evan couldn’t help himself. He just started to giggle at the matching looks of confusion on Eddie and everyone present.

“What just happened?” Eddie stopped and looked around before jogging to keep up with the team headed for medical. “Evan?”

The giggles continued to pour out as they entered the ward, and the path remained clear. Every time Eddie’s face morphed into that total lack of understanding, more laughter just bubbled forth. And with it, his relief and joy at being safe and secure, and finally, finally in the presence of his sentinel, flowed out in wave after wave of happiness across the Center grounds.



Chapter Fourteen

Eddie twitched as another nurse approached their end of the ER portion of the medical wing. He felt like a dick, making them clear out this end before he was comfortable letting them touch his son and guide, but he didn’t feel so bad that he was going to stop doing it. There were too many people around, and while he knew they were all trustworthy, he didn’t fucking know them.

It wasn’t helping that Evan freaked out slightly when they moved Christopher out of sight so they could get xrays on Evan’s legs and shoulder since those were the areas most bruised. Thankfully only bruised, but the combination of the feel of Evan’s fear mixed with the scent of it was driving Eddie round the bend.

Coupled with that, there was the smell of blood and the feeling of exhaustion that hung on them. He glanced at the IV in Christopher’s arm and forced himself to mentally go over the treatment for dehydration to keep himself from focusing on the scent of his child’s blood that one little needle had created. Honestly, he knew it was nothing, but it damn well smelled like they stabbed him.

And it didn’t help that every time he shifted and forced himself not to react, everyone around him flinched or came to attention. It was disconcerting as hell, and Evan was still throwing off waves of humor whenever he caught them doing it.

The nurse stopped at the blanket warmer and pulled out two before approaching Eddie. She stopped two yards away. “Prime, blankets for your son and guide. She nodded toward Chris, “He’s responding well, but we would like to see his temperature up another degree or two.”

Eddie let out a breath and nodded. “Thank you.” He took one of the blankets and moved to tuck it around Chris, who had only woken once when he was being checked for injuries and the IV was inserted. Eddie pulled the older blankets back over the top and then wrapped one around his head before leaning over to give him a kiss on the forehead.

She handed him the second for Evan and then motioned to help, “May I?”

Eddie twitched again at the thought of her touching him, and she immediately took a step back. Eddie made quick work of adding the layer, and the nurse just nodded with a smile and turned to leave.

He turned back to see Evan watching him through half-open eyes, “Sorry if I’m being weird.”

Evan gave him a soft grin. “You don’t have anything to apologize for, and honestly, they all understand. No one is going to take offense even if you decide to be a complete bastard today.”

Evan reached out, and Eddie quickly took his hand. It suddenly felt like he was wrapped in cotton. Soft and comfortable. The little irritations that had been building melted away. “Hey, you’re exhausted. I don’t want you to do anything to hurt yourself.”

“I’m not.”

He gave him a look.

“Seriously, Eds, this is like Guide 101. It’s called buffering, and it’s honestly not hard at all.” Evan rolled his eyes when Eddie gave him a disbelieving stare-down. “Seriously, I could do this in my sleep when I was five. Nothing like shielding. Shielding is like active work, while buffering is passive. I’m just kinda muting the input you’re receiving.” He shifted down on the pillow and closed his eyes without letting go of Eddie’s hand.

Eddie shrugged and accepted it. It wasn’t like he had anything but his observations of Evan to go by, and Evan made everything look effortless. He glanced back in the direction they had entered Medical and forced himself not to reach out his hearing into the Center. That whole situation was bugging him.

“The nurse called me Prime.”


“Why? I haven’t even been tested for a level yet.”

“Don’t need to test you for that.”

“Come again?”

“You’re my sentinel. You think just any sentinel can bond with a Guide Prime?” Evan turned on his side and hugged Eddie’s hand against his chest without opening his eyes. His voice was sleepy. “Besides, every prime from here to Timbuktu felt you snap online there at the end. It’s a small club, and we know all the members.”

“You know them all?” Eddie could believe that, actually. Evan was the type of person who just knew people.

“Bunch of old busy bodies, sticking their noses into everything. Half of them are too serious for their own good. Need to loosen up and live a little.” Evan’s voice was fading away, and Eddie found it adorable.

“So they just need to relax and loosen up?”

“Yup. ‘Cept my uncles. They’re cool. Jus’ don’t play poker with Ezra…real..shark….” Eddie felt him slide into sleep between one word and the next.

Eddie wanted to slide into the bed behind Evan and sleep, but he was too keyed up to relax. And the closer he was to Evan, the further he was from Christopher, and that wasn’t acceptable. It was only about an hour later when Daniel and the Meyricks entered the Medical Wing.

He felt himself relax slightly. The three of them were mentally marked Family by the sentinel and shifted into the Safe column. Rand held Daniel back as they approached and then allowed June to move in front of them.

“Prime Diaz,” June acknowledged him. “Permission to enter your territory and approach your guide?”

Eddie considered how surreal this seemed, especially since there was the barest vibration of a growl in his chest before she spoke. Suddenly that feeling was gone, and he relaxed. “Permission granted, welcome Prime Meyrick.”

He scratched the back of his head and winced, “I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Territoriality is the worst part of coming online as a Prime. Your territory is so much larger than an average sentinel. Inevitably it becomes a huge adjustment. My best advice is to focus on the core territory every sentinel has.” June moved forward and patted him on the shoulder before moving forward to see Evan and pull the blanket a little higher on his chest. “Your guide and your family are the heart of your territory, and you haven’t been able to claim them properly yet. Once you do, most of this will calm down. Until then, everyone getting near is an intrusion. You should have seen me the day I claimed Rand. I scared the hell out of an entire Navy Seals team.”

Rand laughed, “And that was before she put half of them on their asses for interfering.” He stepped closer to Eddie and then slowly reached around and gave him a hug. “You did so well out there, kid. I’m proud of you.”

He could feel the affection, relief, and pride flowing off the man and felt his breath hitch. He blurted out his confession, “I was so afraid I was going to lose them both.” Eddie returned the hug as he tried to even out his breathing. Evan shifted in bed, and Eddie forced himself under control so he didn’t wake his guide.

Rand gave him another squeeze before releasing him. “Don’t focus on what could have been lost. Focus on what you will be able to have now. The bond between a sentinel and a guide is more than a simple relationship. June is not just my wife and partner. She is literally my other half. Finding her was finding a missing part of my soul. I am so happy Evan found his.”

They settled in to watch their two survivors sleep and kept their discussions low to avoid waking them. Eddie stepped in to remove the IVs once the fluids were finished. He was having a horrible time avoiding contact with Evan. And the more he touched, the more he wanted to touch. It was a unique experience because he had never craved contact with another person the way he was craving it with Evan.

Eddie felt strangely out of the loop as the day fell into night. He knew the 118 was still out searching the disaster zone. He heard the occasional snippet of conversation when the doors were opened, and his hearing spread out over the Center. Most didn’t make sense, and he knew he shouldn’t focus on them. But discussions of S&G SARs teams flown into the area and coordinating schedules with California State Emergency Management drew his attention more than once.

Eventually, Christopher’s temperature returned to normal, and Eddie stopped his losing battle of replacing blankets his son kicked off the bed. When he starfished and started to gently snore, Eddie just smiled, grateful for something normal, and ran his fingers through the curly hair. They had given him a warm sponge bath with scent-neutral soaps to remove the salt water smell, but Eddie missed the smell of his son’s shampoo.

Evan twitched in a way that meant he was waking, and Eddie felt a disturbance approaching. He traded looks with June, who suddenly looked constipated.

“What is that?”

“That is a cankerous blight, as Prime Standish might say.” Rand rolled his head around on his neck and sighed. “I was hoping the U.S. Primes would have him contained, but it looks like he slipped his leash.”

A moment later, two men entered. One of the nurses attempted to block them but was at a loss of how to do so. She locked eyes with Eddie in apology, and he just gave her a smile and a nod. She looked between them and then left. Eddie could hear her take off running as soon as the door closed behind her.

They approached without stopping to ask permission which set Eddie’s hackles up. The instinctive part of him that felt like a wild cat ready to pounce was insisting they should be asking permission to approach. The sentinel of the two seemed subdued while the guide half of the equation emoted an entitlement that set Eddie’s teeth on edge.

He heard June and Rand stand behind him and was relieved when he saw June in his periphery take position between the intruders and Christopher’s bed. That she would move to protect his son over her own went a long way in cementing the trust he already felt for the two.

With a long, drawn-out sigh, Rand spoke just as the other guide started to open his mouth. “Waterman, what are you doing here? I’m pretty sure Stoker and Morello ordered you back to your territory.”

“You’re one to talk, Meyrick. Trying to run both Coasts now?” The voice had an oil-slick feel to it that repelled Eddie.

“I’ve never had the desire to overstep my sentinel’s territorial imperative,” Rand responded softly, and did Eddie sense a hint of an implied like you there at the end? “I just serve the tribe when and where I am called.”

“Maybe you should be out there serving the tribe right now.” He dismissed Rand and turned toward Eddie. “You, young man, have stirred up a lot of discord coming online as you did. We all felt that disturbance. There’s not much to be done about it now, but our first order of business is to see you properly trained.”

“He’ll get all the training he needs, Waterman.”

“Yes, he will. I’m going to see to it personally.” Waterman turned back to Eddie. “You won’t need much. The Rhode Island Institute for Advanced S&G Studies supplies uniforms for the students.”

“The what?” Eddie asked, looking over his shoulder at Rand.

“He doesn’t need to attend RII to get the training he needs.”

“He most assuredly does need to attend. Most Primes attend RII. You attended RII, Meyrick. RII prepares high-level sentinels and guides for a life of service to the tribe while honing their gifts to function in intense situations.” Waterman sounded like he was quoting a brochure.

More people were entering the room, and Eddie was getting seriously irritated. He was growling before he knew what was happening. Suddenly a hand gripped his wrist, and he felt a wave of calm go through him. Glancing to the side, he saw Evan kneeling at the end of his bed, with one arm reaching out to make contact. He wanted to turn and help the Guide but couldn’t bring himself to turn his back on the room.

“So, what the hell is so important that you guys have to wake me up and seriously piss off my sentinel? I mean, Eds is normally a pretty chill guy, so it takes a huge amount of fucked-upness to piss him off.”

The short greying guy at the back of the room giggled, and Evan’s head shot up. “Uncle Blair?”

“Hey, kiddo.”

Evan tried to get out of bed, but Eddie just pushed him back with another growl. He didn’t want to come off as some kind of asshole, but these people needed to back the fuck off, and Evan needed to not try to wade into the center of them.

Another sentinel, older with a full head of grey hair, a brace on his knee, and a cane, took a couple steps forward and then stopped and bowed just his head down. “Prime Diaz, may my guide, myself, and our party receive permission to enter your territory and approach you and your guide?”

Like with June, Eddie suddenly felt himself relax toward the new visitors. Evan’s voice in his ear whispering that Uncle Jim and Uncle Blair were cool helped tremendously. “Permission granted…to you.” He glared back at Waterman and his sentinel. Said sentinel winced but said nothing.

This time Eddie didn’t stop Evan as he stepped around him to hug the two men. He just listened as they chattered their hellos. Evan brought the two of them up between Waterman and Eddie, effectively blocking out the nuisances and ignoring them as he made introductions.

“Eds, I need to introduce you to two of the seriously best people I know. This is Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. They were the U.S. Primes before they retired and Damian Stoker and Sebastian Morello took over. They live up in Washington State and almost never come out of their cave anymore.”

“Watch it, squirt,” Jim poked a finger into Evan’s side. “I like my cave just fine.”

“Trust me, he does.” The short guy, Sandburg, and wasn’t it insanity that he was meeting probably the most famous sentinel/guide pair ever, slipped around and gave Rand a hug. “Man, I can’t believe he’s all grown up. And look at him, all ready to bond with his hot sentinel.”

Evan blushed, “Uncle Blair, really?”

“I’m married, bonded, and old, but I’m not dead yet. That is one fine-looking sentinel you’ve got.” Blair just smirked at him.

“OK, you know what? I’m not having the bonding talk with you…again. Once was enough, thank you very much.” Evan huffed and moved around to sit down on the bed. He scooted over and let Blair sit down next to him.

Rand, Blair, and Evan settled down into an interesting trade-off of affection and insults that felt like home and family to Eddie. He noticed, however, that June hadn’t moved from her place in front of Christopher. And Jim Ellison was standing just between Eddie and Waterman. The way the two of them were responding to Eddie’s continued agitation at the man in these little micro-tics of expression told him they were well aware of the fact the man was pissed off at being ignored.

Waterman’s face was turning an interesting shade of red when he finally spoke. “Ellison, Sandburg, I didn’t expect to see the two of you here.”

“Well, after the fireworks earlier, we thought it might be a good idea to come on down and introduce ourselves,” Jim responded. “Caught a ride with all of the volunteers we’ve gathered up for the search and rescue efforts.” He turned back toward Eddie. “Don’t worry about your City. We’ve got a full rotation of S&G teams blanketing the area to locate survivors. Larabee is handling the logistics, so your City is in good hands.”

Eddie nodded, and another piece of hidden tension was released. He didn’t even realize he was worried about that until they mentioned it. It wasn’t like he felt he could leave Evan and Chris to do anything about it, but it still felt like his responsibility.

Ellison looked back over his shoulder at Waterman, “I see you felt the need to do the same. Now that you’ve finished your introductions, it’s ok to leave.”

“We’ll be happy to leave. Sentinel Diaz, if you would just follow us. We have a plane waiting to take the three of us to Rhode Island.”

Eddie’s growl was back.

“Now, none of that, young man.”

Eddie took a step forward and felt Evan’s hand holding onto his wrist again. Slowly he pushed the hand away and took another step.

Ellison looked between Eddie and Waterman, then just stepped back out of the way with a smirk. “You pull a tiger’s tail; you get what you deserve.”

Waterman stepped back, and his sentinel stepped forward to block Eddie from reaching his prey. Eddie growled again, and the sentinel lowered his eyes and bared his throat but held his ground, protecting his guide.

“There is no call for this behavior. It’s my place to see that our high-ranking sentinels and guides are properly trained in the best traditions of service. I’m only doing my duty to the tribe.”

“Lie,” Eddie growled. He could feel the oil flowing from the man. “You serve yourself. How inadequate you must feel in this room with so many stronger guides. How you seethe inside with the knowledge that everyone around you has so much more potential. How you want to put your mark on them so that you can live vicariously through their achievements and claim them as your own because you trained that…you’re responsible for that.” Eddie’s eyes bore into Waterman, and the man paled. “I can see right through you. Your mark isn’t on Evan, is it? They never let you touch him. Well, you’re never touching me or mine.”

“We’ll see about that.” Waterman hissed back like a wet cat.

“Yes, we will.” Sandburg stepped around with Evan and Rand at his back. “We’ve let you build your little empire because you really were good at teaching high-level sentinels and guides how to function. But I’ve noticed most of those you train go straight into military service. Now I’ve got nothing against those who feel the call to serve the tribe that way, but again and again, we get reports of those who felt they had no other options. That is your doing. That is so not cool, man.” Blair gave him a disappointed look that made Eddie want to rethink his life’s choices.

Evan stepped up next to Eddie and took his hand. “Agreed. Maybe it’s time the two of you thought about retirement. After all, your sentinel is looking pretty tired to me. Maybe you should focus on your primary imperative for a while.”

“That’s an excellent idea,” Rand agreed. “Get away for a while and reconnect. It’s time that Rhode Island and RII have some new leadership.”

Eddie growled, “Anywhere but Southern California. You’re not welcome in my territory.”

The sentinel flinched and nodded before he dragged his guide out of the room. Eddie couldn’t help but follow them with his hearing until they had left the Center.

“Hey, you still with me?” Evan’s voice was right in his ear as he hugged him.

“Yeah, just needed to know they were gone.”

“Well, they’re gone now.” Evan looked over everyone and continued to whisper in his ear, though Eddie knew everyone in the room could hear him anyway. “So, Mom and Dad are ready to steal Christopher. Dad’s informed me that they are allowed equal grandparent time for their first grandson.”

Eddie smiled, “Oh really. Think they can just whisk away our son so easy, do they?”

Evan smiled broadly, “Our son…I like that.”

“So do I.” Eddie leaned in to kiss Evan, starting softly and letting it grow into something life-affirming.

Suddenly Jim Ellison was tapping Eddie on the shoulder. “Come with me, Tiger. You and I need to have a Prime-to-Prime talk. Trust me, this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.” Jim walked away without glancing back, expecting Eddie to follow.

June was giving him a solemn nod while Blair and Rand were just motioning him to follow the Prime. He followed the man out across the grounds. They wandered into the meditation garden, which was empty, and Jim groaned as he took a seat on one of the benches.

“Sit, kid. My neck can’t take looking up anymore.”

Eddie slowly sat down across from the man, not sure why they were out here. He kept having to pull his hearing back from where he was trying to find Evan and Chris.

“They weren’t wrong, you know. You need training. You’re surprisingly balanced, given how you came online, but instinct is going to run out sooner or later. Don’t get me wrong, you should always trust your instincts. But if that is all you ever do, then you will never reach your potential.”

“I get that,” Eddie nodded. “I completely agree that I need some actual training so I can understand what’s happened to me. But if any of you think I’m just going to take off to the other end of the country without my son or Evan….”

“Hey, no way. Number one way to drive a sentinel feral is to mess with his guide or family.” Jim shook his head. “I’m not a moron. Look, Blair and I felt you come online and felt the pull to California. You need a teacher, and, frankly, I’m the best qualified to oversee that.” He tapped his cane on the ground and thumped his knee brace. “Even with this, I can teach you more about using your senses than any standard Center class can teach.”

Eddie considered it, knowing the men were based in Cascade, Washington. The thought of leaving the state, even with Evan and Christopher in tow, felt all kinds of wrong.

“Tiger, I told you I’m not an idiot. With your permission, we will relocate here for the next six to eight months while we get you trained. You’ve claimed this territory, so I’m not going to drag you away from it while you are still feeling the need to mark it.”

Eddie wrinkled his nose at that thought. He felt honesty and trustworthiness surrounding the man like a silver shield and decided he could take him at his word. “OK, I can agree to that. But I have questions.”

“Wouldn’t expect anything less from Evan’s sentinel.”

“Why are you volunteering as my teacher? I know everyone says the two of you retired ages ago, so why come out of retirement now?”

“Answer me this first. Why did you so easily accept another high-ranked Prime in your territory? Trust me, it’s not normal if the sentinel doesn’t report to you in the hierarchy.”

Eddie thought about that and tried to determine what the honest answer was. “I can feel you’re trustworthy.”

“That’s not the only reason. Feeling that I’m trustworthy is a function of empathy, not senses. What do your senses tell you?” Jim kept an eye on him and barked back an order when Eddie tried to consider the question. “First instinct, Soldier! Spit it out.”

“You’re mine. OK, you’re both mine.” Eddie blinked at the response. He looked around at the garden before meeting Jim’s eyes again. “I have no clue why I said that.”

Jim smiled back. “Because it’s true. Blair and I took the U.S. Territory because there was no one else able to hold it. Deep down, Cascade has always been the only territory I wanted, but the obligation to the Tribe will win out every time. We did a lot of good while we were there. But we could never stay behind when our people needed us. Got injured taking down a guide trafficking ring, and we decided it was time to step down.”

He shifted as he rubbed at his knee, and Eddie stayed silent when Jim paused for a moment. “The problem with stepping down was that there was no one waiting in the wings who was strong enough to take the territory away from us. Primes Stoker and Morello were the only ones close who were willing. Next up was Vin and Ezra, but you would have to drag Vin Tanner kicking and screaming into the spotlight. They have the strength to take it but not the will.”

“So, we made an agreement. Stoker and Morello would take the title and hold the territory, but they do it as placeholders. Blair and I acknowledge them so they are legitimized, and we all live happily until Evan is ready to take it on. Well, Evan and you.”

“But Southern California is my territory. Boy, does that sound weird to say, but I can feel it.”

“Cascade is mine,” Jim agreed. “When the time comes, you will feel your territory shift, and you will know it’s time to take the U.S. You still have a lot to learn, and Evan as well because he’s never lived as a bonded guide. Also, you have a family to raise. I’m not surprised that right now, your imperative is to build a safe space for your family.”

“The point is, I know you rank me.” Jim flicked a finger at Eddie, “You, Eddie Diaz, are my Prime. And it’s that little bit of empathy you have that sets you a rung higher than me on the ladder. Trust me, once your senses level out, you will instinctively know the hierarchy of everyone in the room.”

Acknowledging that everything the other man had told him was true, Eddie grimaced and then nodded. “So, where do we start.”

“With the most important lesson of all.” Jim gave him an evil grin. “There comes a time in all little sentinels’ lives when they meet their one true guide. When this happens, they feel the urge to join with their guide and form a lifelong bond. For low-level sentinels, this can be accomplished through a period of mutual meditation after a long courtship to get to know one another. Among Primes, it can only be created through a copious amount of really filthy sex. Today we are going to discuss bonding in excruciating detail.”

Eddie froze and just stared at the man in horror.



Christopher woke just after Eddie left and received a full round of introductions. Just like every kid in the world, he latched onto Blair immediately. Evan focused on Blair, who was giving Christopher a blow-by-blow account of the actions of psionic animals on the spirit plane. Evan was certain the man was just trying to divert their attention. He couldn’t figure out why.

Suddenly there was a burst of mortification that ran through the Center, and Blair reacted to it with a grin. Evan started to get up, intent on finding his sentinel, but Blair reached out a hand to stop him.

“What’s Uncle Jim doing with Eddie that could cause that reaction?”

“Well, there comes a time in all young sentinels’ lives when they need the little sentinel talk.”

“Nooooo. Please tell me he isn’t….” Evan shook his head, suddenly certain he wanted nothing to do with getting between Jim and his victim right now. Even if said victim was his sentinel.

“What’s a little sentinel talk?” Chris asked.

Evan turned to look at Blair with a calculating glare before he smiled and climbed up next to Chris. “Yeah, Uncle Blair. What’s the little sentinel talk?”

Blair looked between the two of them and then turned toward Mom and Dad for help.

“You’re all on your own, Uncle Blair.” Dad sat down and just laughed.


“My little sentinel talk was quite different, I am certain. Perhaps next time you will watch what you say around little ears.” June sat back and crossed her arms.



Eddie took a deep breath as he punched in the lock code to the bonding suite assigned to him and Evan. It had taken almost forty-eight hours before he was able to let his son out of his sight. He probably still wouldn’t be ready, but his need to claim Evan had finally exceeded his need to be near his son.

Chris had been ecstatic to learn that bonding with Evan meant he now had new grandparents, aunts, and uncles. And those guys came out of the woodwork when it came to claiming Evan’s new son as their nephew. Evan truly knew everyone.

There hadn’t been an ounce of hesitation when Chris learned he would be staying with Uncle Daniel, Nana June, and Grandy for the next few days. Eddie had expected to be tense about that situation, but it just felt so right that he was relieved that Chris was excited to go.

Of course, there had been a moment of fun when Evan was able to suss out that Daniel was in such a good mood because he got a date with some dispatcher from the 9-1-1 Center. Eddie was happy for the man and hoped it worked out. Daniel was a great guy, and he deserved a little happiness.

“We going in?” Evan whispered behind him.

Eddie smiled, “Hell, yes, we’re going in. After you, Guide.”

“What, not going to carry me over the threshold?”

“And throw out my back before we even get started?”

“I think you seriously underestimate yourself.”

“No offense, but last time I looked, you were a pretty big guy, Evan. I may be able to lift your weight, but I don’t think you would appreciate a fireman carry to get you into that room.”

“Well, you’re right there. But you haven’t even tested the strength boost you got from coming online.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Wait…you really don’t know. Oh, this is going to be good. Trust me when I say you could pin me to the wall and have your wild way with me without even breaking a sweat.” The thought of that went straight to his groin, and Evan just gave him a knowing smirk when he groaned. Eddie flipped him off and then pulled him to the bed and pushed him back onto it.

“Are you teasing me, Meyrick?”

“Every chance I get, Diaz. It working?”

Eddie rubbed up against him and felt the sparks of electricity. Evan’s eyes dilated, and he drew in a ragged breath.

“I guess it worked.” Evan breathed a couple times before he looked at Eddie and said, “Thank you for saving me. Not just from the tsunami but from a life without you in it. There’s always been this part of me missing. I’ve looked for it everywhere. I gave up the job I had worked my whole life to get so I could move to the other end of the country because I just knew this was where I needed to be. And then you were there so close and yet not online. And look at you, here you are. You’re online and with me, and already I feel like I’ll never be alone again.”

“You won’t. You weren’t the only one lost and alone. Then I found you, but I couldn’t keep you. Now that I have you for real, I’m never letting you go, Evan Meyrick. Guide.”

“Sentinel.” Evan threaded his fingers through Eddie’s hair and pulled him down into a kiss. “Will you be mine, bound for all time? As I take you into my body, will you be my anchor and let me into your heart, mind, and soul?”

“Always and forever. I feel like that wave came and rearranged my world. It reshaped me until I fit perfectly with you.”

The end.


Home Page / Part 1 / Part 2


  1. Luckily, the notification for this came through on a Sunday morning, because there was never any doubt that I would just read and read till it was done. I suppose I ought to get up now?!

    I absolutely loved this! Thank you very much.

  2. You are a gift. I feel blessed. I was looking at a mildly depressing day until this came in my email. Thank you so much for sharing this story. It’s pretty and shiny and just turned my mood and my day all the way around.

  3. This is just great! I love the way you bring in the Mag7 ATF characters… the Buck 2.0 shirt is just one brilliant funny example! The plotting, characterization, and world-building was splendid! Thanks so much, as always, for a wonderful read, and all of the time and effort you put into creating it, as well as your generosity in sharing it with us. Kudos! Kudos! Kudos! (I totally want to see Chris Larabee and Christopher the unicorn meet…. ) Thanks again!

  4. I love this soo much. The way you were able to account for the ripples but still have the world of 9-1-1 recognizable was fantastic and honestly awe-inspiring. Thank you sooooo much for sharing this with us all!!!!

  5. Loved this so much. Thank you!

  6. So great. I remember reading this on Rough Trade and loving it, I think I love it even more now! Thank you.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing!

  8. Such an awesome story. Thank you for sharing

  9. I loved this on RT, and I loved it again. Beautiful story

  10. This was a fantastic read! You worldbuilding is great and I love the relationship you build between Daniel, Maddie, and Buck. Buck’s and Eddie’s journey was heartbreaking somtimes, but also so lovely. I enjoyed reading your story so much and I’m sure I’ll come back at one point.
    Thank you for writing and sharing!

  11. Absolutely phenomenal! You have a gift with building suspense, developing characters, and weaving exposition naturally throughout your writing! Superb!

  12. This was lovely! The world-building was fantastic and the different fandoms flowed so well together. You’ve built gorgeous relationships with so many different characters and built a beautiful community while keeping canon enough to stitch everything together perfectly. I’m sure this will be a story I come back to over and over. Thanks for sharing your amazing work!

  13. This was amazing!! the world building,the character development!! I loved it all. I loved the relationship between Daniel and Buck for sure!! Thank you soo much for this beautiful work! I was so sad when I missed the opportunity to read this during rough trade so I was every excited when i saw the notification came through!! Thank you!!!!

  14. This was amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  15. The only reason I didn’t spend all day on Sunday reading this is that I had prior obligations. That and real life are why I only finished this now. Loved this story so much. Thanks for writing, polishing and sharing!

  16. This was wonderful on RT, and now it’s freaking amazing. There were so many things I loved about this story. You did an amazing job exploring Eddie’s path and his feelings at being close but not quite. As the day of the tsunami progressed your words gave me chills. That was really intense. I was so happy that Eddie and Evan were able to come together on their own-before-Eddie came online. I love Eddie’s whole journey. And now he gets to start a whole new one. But this time he won’t be alone.
    Thank you so much for sharing your hard work and your lovely story.

  17. Loved this when I read it on RT and adored this final version too. Such a satisfying story. <3 <3 <3

  18. I discovered this story earlier tonight and have devoured it. I was looking for a long, plotty 9-1-1 story. I was hoping there was a Sentinal crossover I hadn’t read. Then I found this and it was all my dreams put together. Thank you for writing such an incredible world and characters, I loved the ripples outward and the world you created.

  19. This is probably the third time I’ve read this story and I have to say I love it as much the third time as I did the first. Your characters are all so well rounded and beautifully nuanced. Thank you so much for your continuing hard work and the sharing there of.

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