Disclaimer: I'm not USA / Jeff Eastin / etc., so I don't claim to own them.
Genre: Threesome; Alternate Universe
Fandom(s): White Collar; Sentinel (Theme Only)
Word Count: 1,356
Written For: I'm double dipping for jo_anne_storm's Sentinel!AU Request for the Lucky 13 - The AU Prompt Meme and run_the_con Round Two Prompt 'First Day of Spring'
Summary: While Neal is a mastermind at so many things, being a Guide comes with a learning curve.
Neal woke when twin sneezes sounded on each side of him. Rolling over, he saw Peter fumbling for some Kleenex from the nightstand.
"What's wrong?" he questioned, trying to rub the sleep out of his eyes.
"Sentinel Spring has officially started," El said with a scratchy voice.
"I thought the first day of spring was weeks ago," Neal stated. He was more alert now and noticed that neither of his Sentinels were looking their best. Peter had an irritated looking nose from the several minutes of blowing he'd just completed and El's eyes were bloodshot. Looking between the two of them, he felt helpless.
"Sentinel Spring is when everything actually starts to bloom," Peter said. "Don't worry 'bout us. We'll both take the day off and be mostly better tomorrow. We've been dealing with it every year."
"But I'm your Guide," Neal said in a huff. "What can I do to help?"
Peter mentally slapped himself. While Neal was a mastermind when it came to forgeries, art, cons and God knows what else, he was still a beginner at being a Guide, their Guide. And apparently, they were still a beginner when it came to being bonded Sentinels with a Guide. They all had a learning curve.
"How about you take care of Satch first, and then we'll let you take care of us," El offered. "We're still learning how this bond works too."
Peter was standing face-to-face with Neal Caffrey for the second time in his life. The first time, he hadn't realized why the man smelled familiar until a few minutes after he left, leaving the green sucker behind. This time, Caffrey was not getting away. Peter spun the younger man around and placed the cuffs around his wrists.
In that moment, their skin touched for the first time and both gasped.
"Guide," Peter said softly as he inhaled Caffrey's scent. Peter almost recoiled at the fear and panic he could practically taste.
Peter watched as others led Caffrey away with a confused and lost look on his face. He focused on the erratic heartbeat and wanted to keep in close. Instead, he had to strain his hearing to following it as the car pulled away with his Guide in it.
His focus finally returned to a worried looking Jones who had been trying to bring him out of the zone he had fallen into. Peter shook his head to clear the cobwebs. He hadn't zoned in the field since his first year as an agent when he'd still been required to have a service Guide at his side.
"Why didn't we know Caffrey was a Guide?" he asked with a cracked voice. Then time caught up with him and he was a man on a mission. He wanted to know why in the hell Caffrey was not listed as a Guide and then he needed to find out how to claim him. It was a cluster.
Several days later, Peter and El were standing in an observation room with Hughes, a Marshal and a representative from the Sentinel and Guide Testing Facility.
"Tests have a returned a positive for the Guide gene. In addition, the matching system returned two hits," the testing rep said with a nod towards Peter and El. "Since you both are matched and now bonded Sentinels, we've always known you would have the same Guide. But given his age, he should have been in the system years ago."
This time, the Marshal spoke up. "Caffrey entered witness protection when he was three years old with his mother and his father's former partner. When he turned ten, the test results were falsified because it was still too much of a risk for him to be entered into the system."
Peter began pacing. "Why witness protection?"
"His father was a dirty cop. He murdered a superior officer and was on the take for drugs, cash and tipping off raids. He turned state's evidence, but then escaped prison. His family was at risk, so we put them under protection along with his partner, who was the one to turn him in for murder."
"So when did you guys lose control of him?"
"The partner told him the truth on his eighteenth birthday. He came to us and asked for a new identity and said that he wanted to cut ties with us and his mother. Since he was legal and the original threat was considered minimal at the point, we agreed. He took back his original first name and used his mother's maiden name."
"And you kept his Guide status hidden from him," Peter surmised. "No wonder he got into the mess he's in. Guides without training are susceptible to being manipulated into things because they don't know that what they are feeling may be bleeding over from other people. Add to that I think he likely has a strong empathy talent that he's been using in his cons and you have a recipe for disaster."
"So where does this leave us?" Hughes questioned, ready to get to the bottom line.
"He cannot be placed in prison," the rep said flatly. "The Department of Sentinels and Guides would take custody of him before they would allow that happen."
"He's our Guide," Peter all but growled. El placed a calming hand on his arm and he was glad for her latent Guide ability that had initially drawn him to her.
"Can he be released into our custody for his sentence?" El asked the room at large. "We'll be able to get him the Guide training he needs and, as Peter said, he's ours."
Peter was nodding as the wheels in his head turned. "With his knowledge on forgeries and such, we'd be able to use him in the department," Peter said and was pleased when Hughes nodded in agreement.
"What about his flight risk?" the Marshal spoke up.
"Considering you guys are partly to blame for his situation, you shouldn't be worried out it," the rep said with disdain in his voice. "Providing he agrees to a bond with the Burkes, there will be no flight risk. Bonded Sentinels can find their Guide no matter where they go. And if he doesn't agree to bond with them, the DSG will be taking him to custody and place him in training for the duration of his sentence."
"So it's up to you two," Hughes said to Peter and El. "Go find out what he wants to do and let me know, so I can get the paperwork moving. If you go the bonding route, you'll have the mandatory two week leave, Peter," Hughes finished as he led the Marshal from the room.
Peter and El let the rep take them into the room where a nervous looking Neal Caffrey had been sitting the entire time. He looked up with wide eyes when they walked in.
"Is it true?" he asked, looking between Peter and El.
"Yeah," Peter said, forcing himself not to crowd his Guide too soon. "You have a choice to make. It's either-"
"You," Neal cut him off. "Both of you," he added, including El. "It's- I feel like… You," he finished at a loss for words.
And Back to Now…
Peter watched as Neal stroked a hand over El's cheek. Through their bond, he could feel the younger man helping El center her senses on him instead of the overabundance of pollen in the air from the budding plants. Things had bumpy at first as Neal tried to learn what being a bonded Guide meant, but now, almost six months later, they were beginning to settle.
"This mean I get to take the day off too?" Neal asked, breaking Peter's thoughts of the past.
"Nope," Peter said with a smile. "But instead of paperwork and mortgage fraud, you'll be waiting on us hand and foot. And El's a slave driver when she's sick."
Neal looked at Peter in mock horror. "Just tell me she doesn't have one of those little servant bells."
Peter just snorted. "Better you than me," he said before El wacked them both on the head.
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