Summary: The adventure of Ezra's life starts with his Sentinel
Author's Note: So sorry for the long wait but life has a way of delaying things. Thanks to Twyla Jane for her patience and knowledge and having to keep me straight. And to the others who have kept hounding me (stop nipping at my feet, I'm working! I'm working! I promise!), thanks for the encouragement and boost (or should I say boot). All feedback is welcomed.
Something bothered his sensor net he had set out. Vin tightened his arms around his guide as he searched for what had disturbed him. After he had bonded with Ezra, the boy had insisted that he tend to his wound. It had surprised his guide when he had just touched Vin's head and his healing power had taken over. A glow had spread from the child's hands covering the Sentinel's skull. Vin felt a warm heat then his pain went away. He had blinked at Ezra who stood with his mouth opened in disbelief before him. He felt the awe, wonder and a little fear of the unknown flow through his guide as Ezra asked, "What just happened?" Vin smiled at the boy then he hugged him, silently thanking him for the help.
JD answered, "You have the gift to heal your sentinel when they're hurt. But I've never seen that glow before. Josiah, we don't glow, do we?"
"No, but then we don't have the kind of power that he has either. He should also be able to heal others. Vin, why don't you see if he can help Chris?" encouraged Josiah.
"Is that his name?" questioned Ezra as he pointed to the black clad figure in the cell with them.
Vin then realized that he hadn't introduced his friends. Turning the boy toward Chris, he said, "Sorry, I should let you met the rest of our crew. Yes that is Chris. Chris Larabee. He is our leader. The two in the next cell are Buck Wilmington, a sentinel like me, and his guide JD Dunne. In the last cell are Nathan Jackson and his guide Josiah Sanchez."
Hellos were said as each man was introduced. Chris stepped forward to see the boy better. Ezra immediately stepped back to his new friend's side in fear. He didn't know what to expect. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. He was a guide that could heal, abilities that he was uncertain about. Now it seemed that he had another whole group of people to adjust to. Ezra still thought of himself as a slave only now he felt the feelings from these men like the feelings of his first owners. Owners who had cared what happened to him but still expected him to know his place. He just had to work out what his place was.
Chris stopped when he saw the child's reaction. Vin put his arm around Ezra as he said, "Hey, it's alright. He's not going to hurt you. None of us are. I promise you that no one is going to hurt you while I'm around."
Ezra held still as his new friend spoke. He looked up into Vin's face instinctively testing their bond for any deception. Again, Ezra was amazed at this new thing this new ability. Nodding his head, he stepped forward to meet Chris.
Holding his hand out, Ezra said, "How do you do, Mr. Larabee. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
Chris gently took the child's hand and shook it. "It's nice to meet you too Ezra. Welcome to our little group."
Ezra ducked his head hiding his face as he softly said, "Thank you, even though it will only be for a little time."
Chris frowned as he asked, "What do you mean by little time? You'll always be one of us."
"There going to kill y'all." shuttered Ezra. "They hate your kind and now I'm just like you. They'll hate me more for deceiving them all this time."
Chris realized, as had everyone else, that the boy was indeed in jeopardy now that his gift had come to power. "We'll think of something to get out of this. How about the escape route you showed the other agent?"
Ezra's head shot up as he said, "He made it? He's alright?"
"Yes, though he was in rough shape. He told us about you. He made a special point of asking us to get you out. Could we use the same route?"
"Yes, but we will need more food than what I have hidden. It takes so long to gather without them knowing that I'm afraid there won't be enough before we have to leave."
"Don't worry about the food. We brought enough and stashed it away ourselves outside." replied Buck.
Vin stepped up behind his guide. "How about checking out Chris' head there Ez. He stepped in the way of a rifle butt just like I did."
The child reached up and placed his hand on the wounded spot. "You should really learn to duck, sir. Better yet avoid getting into these types of situations all together."
Chris head was pounding and he was about to make a sharp retort when he felt a warmth spread from the boy's hands. He closed his eyes as relief flood his aching skull. Within a few moments the pain was gone. He blinked his eyes open then looked at the boy.
"Better?" asked Ezra as he leaned tiredly back into his sentinel. Using his new talent was draining.
"Yes, much better. Thank you." replied Chris as he brought his hand up to his head. It was incredible that this small boy could heal not only his sentinel but others. He had heard of this but never dreamed that he would be a recipient of it. Also, the power that this one little child had and they hadn't even tapped into what else he might do. What even this whole team could do.
"Wow!" said JD as he watched. "Did you feel that Josiah?"
"Yes, yes I did JD." responded Josiah in a subdued voice.
"What's wrong?" inquired Nathan as he felt the worry emanating from his guide.
Josiah replied, "He's so young and not trained. How old is he ten? Eleven? How has he kept from going insane? Nathan, he's the youngest guide I know about if not the youngest in history. His emotions were probably on line when he was very young. What about the life he has led so far? We know it's been rough here but what has he gone through before now?"
Ezra had pushed further back into his sentinel as Josiah talked. He felt the worry and uncertainty. Then the bond between him and Vin opened. Confidence and love flowed as his shield was boosted. Happiness that he was HIS guide came from the sentinel. Ezra relaxed into the link from Vin as he said, "I am thirteen and a quick learner, Mr. Sanchez. I've always been able to adapt."
Nodding his head in agreement, JD added, "He's got a point there, Josiah. We all had to adapt when we found our bond mates. We'll just have to teach him what he needs to know. Besides it not like anything can be changed. He's Vin's guide."
"Don't get me wrong here, fellows. I'm worried at how young he is not if he's should be Vin's guide. We are destined to be together, that I know. But no matter how powerful we feel he is, he is still young and not trained. Even now, I can tell he is exhausted." said Josiah as he looked at Ezra.
Now everyone noticed the pale features on the boy's face as he sagged within Vin's arms. Vin clutched his guide closer as he already knew how tired his friend was. "Don't worry Josiah. I understand what you're saying. We'll just have to work his training in with everything else. He's my guide. He's part of the clan."
Chris stepped forward. "That he is, Vin. If he can adapt so can we. We'll make it work. I don't want to lose anybody on this team."
Ezra spoke up, "Does that mean me too?" Turning to his sentinel, he continued, "I'm sorry that I not good enough but I will learn quickly. I promise not to be too much trouble."
Vin looked into the green eyes of his guide and felt him pleading not to be sent away. Bending down until their foreheads touched, Vin answered, "You'll do fine and you're not any trouble or bother, little brother. We'll do what we have to do." Knowing how really tired Ezra was, Vin pulled the boy over to the small pile of blankets. Pushing the child down then covering him, he ordered, "Rest guide. I'll be here to watch. Just rest."
"I wonder if he knows who the leaders are of this group. Do you think he could tell us, Vin?" questioned JD.
"Not now JD." said Vin as he smiled at his soul brother. "He needs to rest."
"But it is a valid question, Vin. Any help he can give us would increase our chances of getting out of here." stated Chris. Vin quickly looked up at his heart brother in protest. A minute pasted before Vin thought *Fine.* then turned to his guide.
"Ezra? Have you ever met the leader?" asked Vin as he adjusted the meager blanket again.
"I have seen the man but do not know his name. Just that he is called the Chief. They are all afraid of him, even the master," the boy yawned. "I do know that he is supposed to be here tomorrow night."
"Rest now, I'll be right here." said Vin as he ran his fingers through the child's hair in a soothing motion. "Rest."
Ezra smiled in relief as he closed his eyes. He wasn't going to be sent away. In just a moment the boy was fast asleep. Vin checked his vitals again before he moved away. He came to stand beside Chris controlling his emotions as he said, "I got the right to kill every one of these bastards, Chris. I want to kill every one of them that hurt my bond mate."
"Vin, we can't do that unless they give us no choice. They have to face justice. That's why we're here. To bring them to justice." urged Chris. In his mind he sent *I would like to take them out too, Cowboy. But we can't*.
*I know, but you don't know the half of what they did to him. I felt the scars, the fear he has.*
"We'll take them in alive. We have to know who the leader is and where the leak is coming from."
Sighing, Vin said, "I know, I know. I'll control myself and do my job as long as they don't threaten my guide. I can't promise more then that."
"And I don't expect you to. If they harm or hurt Ezra or anyone of us, we'll deal with it."
"Chris, if we go into protective mode, their dead men. You know that don't you? We won't be responsible for their lives." stated Buck. "We've practiced control once, can't guarantee to do it again, especially with the boy now. He's young, powerful and newly on line. He will be emitting all his feelings until he can learn to control it. You felt what happened when they bonded."
"I know. You know how I feel about children, Buck. To me they would have already been dead men, but I have more to think about in this mission."
Nathan spoke up, "We'll have to rely on you leading us, Chris. Just realize you might have to shout a little bit louder to get our attention, like you did in the parking garage."
"That was a good idea asking if he knew the leader, JD. It could have cut short our visit." praised Buck as he pulled his guide to him. The feeling of pride sang through they're connection as they linked.
"Yes," agreed Josiah. "We could have gotten out of here tonight instead of waiting now. It would be better for all us if we talked about our plans. We have to revise it now that Vin's guide is here. I know we planned on the boy coming with us," interjected Josiah as he saw Vin about to interrupt. "But we didn't think about him being a guide. We have to plan accordingly. We must also remember that he is newly bonded and that is another set of problems in itself."
Running his hand through his hair, Chris harrumphed. "Okay, let's discuss strategy."
For the next hour, they talked and planned before settling down for the night. Vin had lay down and gathered his guide to him. The boy had sighed then snuggled against him. Now something had stirred causing Vin's sensory net to tingle. He heard movement from upstairs as their captors began waking up. He reluctantly woke up his guide. They had discussed how they could protect the boy. The best way was the hardest for Vin to do. He would have to let Ezra go about his tasks without letting it be known that he was a guide. Being newly bonded, he would have to forego the instinct to have Ezra near him at all times. If their link was allowed to run it regular course, they would gradually ease up on the constant contact. But now, to save his guide's life, Vin would have to wait until they were out of this place and safely back home before he could complete the bonding time. It was going to be hard.
Ezra felt someone nudge him awake. For the first time in his life he had really rested and he was loath to arouse from such as good sleep. He wonder how much longer he could rest before his master would finally drag him off to cook breakfast. He had had such a wonderful strange dream about finding a sentinel and that he was a guide. In this dream he was loved not despised, cared for not abused. Promises had been made not threats. He stirred again when he heard someone call his name as they gently shook his shoulder. He froze. His master didn't know his name. They had never cared enough to ask what it really was, just called him Rat. His eyes shot open. He found himself looking into the blue eyes of one of the men in his dream. It had been a dream, hadn't it? The man called Vin smiled as he leaned over him. Then he remembered that this was his sentinel and he was a guide. He was HIS guide! Slowly, Ezra raised his hand to lightly trace his fingers down Vin's face to eventually rest his hand at his throat. A feeling of awe emanated from him.
"Your really here," he whispered in wonder. "It wasn't a dream. I'm your guide."
"Well, that's the first time I've been referred to as a dream. But yep, I'm real and I need you to listen to me. They're stirring up stairs. They'll probably be coming for you, right?" Vin heard his guide's heart racing in fear even thought his face didn't show it. The boy nodded his head.
"Okay, we talked about this last night after you went to sleep. They mustn't know that you're my guide. In order for this to work, you need to act like you normally do. Whatever you usually do, do it. This is going to be hard now. You will have urges to come to me. The link between us will be calling you. You must fight it. No matter what you mustn't come to me until tonight when they lock you down here. Got that?"
"Yes. What about you? Won't this be hard for you too?"
"Oh yes. I'm going to have to fight the need too." What Vin didn't say was that his would be harder since he could hear everything going on. "I want you to remember that I'm with you, okay? Our link is active between us. When you feel the urge, draw all the strength you need. Now, let's get ready. We're going to bond lightly so that we can get through this. You'll want to bond more deeply but we have to fight it for now. Tonight, we'll do a real deep bond, okay?" Vin could feel the boy start to tremble as he spoke. "Are you okay?"
"I don't know what to do? I don't know what to do?" whispered Ezra as tears gathered in his eyes. "I'm sorry!"
"Hey now! Your not expect to know what you haven't be taught." Gathering his Guide in his arms, Vin sat up with the boy sitting him in his lap. Stroking Ezra's head, he held the boy until he got control of himself. Vin said, "We need to do this now. Okay? Just follow my lead."
Ezra pulled back from Vin and wiped his eyes. "I'm ready"
Smiling in approval, Vin leaned forward until their heads were touching. "Now link with me. Just relax and find our link to each other."
Ezra closed his eyes as he listened to his sentinel. He didn't know how he was suppose to find this link, then he experience a gentle tug on his mind. He followed it until he felt his sentinel's mind touch his. Fire raced though his mind and blood again. The link was singing to him of happiness, love and acceptance. Joy filled his mind as their souls united again through the link. He wanted to go deeper but he remembered what Vin had said. He felt his friend pull his head back as he broke contact. He sighed in contentment. He tested his shields and found them stronger then before. He smiled as he open his eyes to see his sentinel.
Vin was smiling back at his guide. The kid did well for their second time. He was proud of his little brother. Now came the hard part. He could hear one of the captors grumbling and heading for the basement door.
"Now go to the corner over there. Someone's coming. Act like your afraid of us and you don't know anything. Remember if you need to, seek the link for strength." Leaning forward one more time, Vin breathed deeply of his guide's scent. Releasing the boy, he watched as Ezra went to the corner and sat down. His guide put his head down on his knees like he had been there all night. Vin laid back down to watch out for his friend through slit eyes as the basement door opened.
Paul Grant yawned as he walked down the basement stairs. He was a little late in getting up to roust the Rat to cook breakfast. He knew no one else would be up earlier then him because of the late night his sons had. He reached to flip the light switch as he passed by frowning when he saw that the light was still on. Shrugging, he figured that his sons had done something to the Rat especially the way they had sniggered and laughed after feeding the prisoners. He grinned as he anticipated what he would find. He ignored the cells as he headed for the small alcove holding the washer and dryer. This is where they kept the Rat chained at night. He paused as he saw the chain lying on the floor but with no slave in sight. He quickly turned to the cleared space thinking his sons had tied the boy there while they tortured him then left him there through the night. No Rat there either. Now he was getting pissed. If his sons had somehow managed to let the child escape he was going to beat them within an inch of their lives. He glanced at the cells and paused in his anger. There in the first cell, huddled in the corner was the Rat. Paul suddenly grinned as he saw the humor. He walked over to the cage saying, "Hey, Rat! Found you some new playmates?"
Paul checked the other two occupants of the cell before he tuned away to head upstairs. "I'll be right back with the keys. Don't go anywhere." he laughed.
Ezra sat hunched in the corner waiting for his master's return. He looked over at his sentinel feeling Vin's encouragement sent his way. Strength flowed between them as Vin suddenly opened his eyes then winked at him before closing them again as Paul Grant made his way back down the stairs.
Paul held a pistol in his right hand as he unlocked the cell with his left. "Get on out here and upstairs. You're late in fixing breakfast." Chuckling as the boy literally scurried out of the cage, he said, "You can play with your new lovers later."
Vin watched as his soul brother hurried upstairs. Ezra paused looking back quickly with his own reassurance sailing across they're connection. *I'll be fine.* The rest of the day was the hardest Vin had ever had.
Ezra quickly prepared breakfast for the men who were stirring even now. He endured the smirks and sly comments as they came into the kitchen with his head down hiding his face. He cringed at the emotions that came from the crowd as they wolfed down their meal. He marveled at how much his shield now protected him yet it also boosted the range of his empathic powers. He suffered the verbal and physical abuse because he could draw on the strength of his Sentinel. At one point, he was juggling the emotions around him while trying to calm Vin. Their link flared when one of the men struck him for being too slow in doing some task. He hit the floor curling into a ball as a foot swung connecting to his back. The sound of a roar arose from the basement. Ezra frantically sent soothing impressions to his Sentinel as he scrambled out of the way while the man turned at the sound. *I'm fine I'm fine.*
*I'll kill them.* came Vin's thought as he rattled the cage door. Ezra felt the others trying to calm his bond brother down. He also sensed the captor's fear and impatiens at the ruckus.
With all his strength of will, Ezra projected into his Sentinel's wrath, *You'll get us all killed if you don't calm down.* Silence reign from below as Vin stopped his rant. He stood stock still as he heard and felt his guide.
Chris was at his wits end with Vin. He didn't know how to help his friend. Every since the boy had been taking upstairs, Tanner had paced the floor, stop to growl threats then started pacing again. Unexpectedly he had hit the bars roaring like a lion then suddenly stopped with a frozen look of hate on his face. Chris watched as Vin stepped back grinding his teeth and clinching his fist before he closed his eyes while taking several deep breaths. Fighting his own growing rage, he looked at Nathan prepared to asked what had happened when he saw the same intense glare on his face as he looked up. Josiah was plastered at his side. Chris looked at Buck to see him holding JD while speaking softly to him.
Chris asked, "Buck? What is going on?"
Buck looked at him as he said, "They must be hurting Ezra. Vin and Nathan can hear it, that's why they reacted so strongly. I can't hear it but I can smell the fear. JD and Josiah can feel the boy's pain."
Chris shook his head in anger. "Okay, I understand now why Vin charged the cell door. But why did he suddenly stop?" He caught his breath and he quickly looked at Vin to see him still deep breathing. His fear prompted him to ask, "Ezra's still alive?"
Vin answered him, "Yes though I want to kill." He took another deep breath before he opened his eyes to say, "Ezra reminded me that I could get us killed if I didn't calm down."
Chris closed his eyes in relief at the news that the guide was safe. Chris asked, "How bad is he hurt?" Chris could see the whole house of criminals maimed or dead at this rate.
Vin closed his eyes again then growled, "Punched in the face and kicked in the back. He's crawled into a corner and is being ignored now."
Chris winched as Vin opened his blue eyes. Pain and rage filled them. Chris remembered that feeling. Vin spoke, "I don't know how much more I can take Chris. My blood is calling for blood."
Meanwhile, upstairs Ezra hid in his corner as the cruel captors discussed the prisoner's behavior just now.
"What was all that noise about? Shouldn't someone go check on them?" asked Paul's middle son.
"Why don't you go see?" snapped back his eldest.
"Shut up." said Paul as he sat back down at the table where he had been cleaning his gun. "Don't need anyone going down there to stir them up more then they already are. Besides, the chief will be here tonight to see them and then we can play with them tomorrow." A sneer crossed his lips as he continued, "Tomorrow we can see how long those freaks will last before they beg us to kill them."
Paul grinned as he looked at his crew. All of them had anticipation written on their faces. "Now let's get these guns cleaned and put away. We need to get ready for the Chief. He'll be here soon and I don't want to explain how we weren't ready. Rat! Start preparing supper. Make sure you put some more of that batch of grits you made last night on for the prisoners. We'll feed them one more time tonight before we have our fun with them tomorrow."
Ezra's fear increased as the men laughed while making snide remarks and cruel suggestions about the prisoners being held captive below. He touched the link between him and his sentinel finding Vin in a rage. He quickly shied away and somehow closed the link between them. He didn't know why his sentinel was so mad at him but the hollowness inside was real enough. He had failed again and was unwanted. Ezra had been mistreated and lied to all his life. So for him to be rejected was nothing new. But the pain of this rejection caused him to gasp. Paul Grant and his men didn't hear him as they made plans for the big day tomorrow. His long hair hid the tears on his face as he silently went about his task of fixing supper. What had he done wrong?
Vin sensed his guide in the link then felt him shut the door so to speak before he could get his rage under control. He gasped a NO but it was too late. He staggered over to the wall as the others asked him what was wrong. With his back to the wall, he slid down until he was seated placing his hands on his bent knees with a bowed head.
Chris hurried to Vin's side alarmed at the stricken look. "Vin? Vin?"
Chris caught his breath as Vin lifted his face towards him. The Sentinel eyes spoke of despairing pain as he moaned, "He's shut me out, Chris. He's shut me out."
"Who has, Vin?" asked Chris but Tanner just wrapped his arms around his middle and placed his head on his knees. He waited for an answer. When he didn't receive a reply, he turned to Buck, "Who Buck? Buck do you know what's he's talking about?"
"There's only one that could shut him out Chris, that's his guide," replied a worried Buck as JD linked with him. Wrapping his arms around his guide, he drew him closer, shielding him.
"How? What are you talking about?" growled a vexed Chris. If he had know how much trouble sentinels and guides where, he would have ran screaming like a run over dog into the night. "Will someone please explain?"
"He's talking about the link between Vin and Ezra," supplied Nathan as he patted Josiah's hand that rested on his shoulder to send soothing feelings. "It's like the link you have with us Chris except much stronger. Like a missing part of me was found when I bonded with Josiah. He's the other half of me. That's why most sentinels or guides die right after their bond mates. The hollowness well I can't explain it. Though I don't understand why the boy has shut down the link between them," puzzled Nathan.
"It wasn't his fault. Mine, it's mine," groaned Vin as he raised his head. "I let my rage come across the link."
Josiah said, "That would do it." Looking at Chris, he saw that he still didn't understand. "The boy doesn't know that Vin is not angry with him. He just senses the feeling. He's still too new to realize or know who Vin is angry with. He thinks Vin is mad at him."
JD pulled out of Buck's arms heading toward the cell bars, "Vin Vin, look at me."
Buck moved up to stand behind him. JD said again, "Vin, I need to know if you need my help."
"JD," whispered Buck. He knew JD was offering to surface bond like before, he just didn't think it was a good idea.
JD turned back to his bond mate. "Buck, he's our clan leader. I would let Josiah do it but he can't reach him. I have to help," pleaded JD with his sentinel to understand. Buck's shoulders slumped as he nodded in agreement. No sentinel liked their guide to help others even if they were friends or clan leaders. Vin was both friend and leader so Buck gave his consent. Besides his guide had already helped Vin once. JD smiling said, "We'll bond after this."
Buck smirked, "Your damn right we will!" Buck would claim his guide again to erase the taint of another sentinel on JD.
Turning back around, JD whispered, "Vin, let me help."
Vin's head came up to look at Buck's guide. "My fault my fault."
"It'll be alright, Vin. Ezra will understand tonight when they lock him back down here. We'll explain it to him. Now come here," soothed JD as he reach a hand through the bars.
Vin looked at the hand offered to him. He hesitated he didn't want to betray his brother. Then a though came from Chris. "Take it. Everything will work out Vin.* Slowly, he reached out to let JD help him.