Chapter Four: Venturing into the World Again
When Aaron woke up, he half expected brilliant blue eyes to be watching him, so therefore when he opened his own brown colored orbs and saw his new Guide was sleeping, he was slightly surprised. Although admittedly it was pleasantly so. Hearing a soft thud followed by a canine huff of exasperation, he lifted his head slightly to see that Daniel’s Danish Landrace Goat, had jumped up onto the desk and was peering down at Aaron’s Wolf. Daniel had named the goat Howard after his idol Howard Carter a British archaeologist who excavated King Tut’s tomb, and Aaron named his wolf Harrison after his favorite Beatle. Harrison was looking up at Howard with an appearance of resigned adoration, and Aaron knew exactly how he felt. He had a feeling they were emotions he’d become quite familiar with when it came to his Guide.
Taking an inventory of his own mental landscape, Aaron realized that the night before had done wonders for him and his psyche. He felt not just mentally better, but physically as well, than he had in quite some time. Maybe even since before Haley died. He could hear a contented hum in the back of his mind and knew it was his sleeping Guide. It was odd how quickly Daniel managed to turn Aaron around from irrational rage to bone-deep contentment. He was discovering that Daniel was everything that he loved about Spencer without any of the things that had put his subordinate in little brother territory. Because of that, what little attraction that he’d held for Reid throughout the years had fizzled into nothingness.
The Platonic Bonding Ritual had been fulfilling in a way that he’d never imagined it could be. On the flip side of the coin though, he could see how it could grow old quickly. He’d had an interesting discussion about the subject with Tony one night when the two of them were stuck in a car watching for an unsub. He said that while a Platonic Bond wouldn’t suit for most, that for the right personality type it would absolutely be enough to satisfy a Sentinel or Guide’s needs. While Tony was aware that most experts on the subject didn’t believe that a Sentinel and Guide bond could be as strong without a sexual component to tie them together, his friend had venomously called bullshit.
At the time, Aaron remembered saying all of the right things, but in his mind chalking it up to Tony letting his past cloud his judgment. He’d have to remember to apologize to the man, if he ever saw him again, for doubting what he was talking about. Aaron now wholly understood what Tony meant. He couldn’t help but wonder how many a-sexual Sentinels or Guides had been forced into a sexual relationship that they didn’t want just because some asshole in the Sentinel and Guide Council thought that they knew better than someone’s natural instincts. Because, if sex wasn’t something that Aaron thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to exploring with Daniel, he could definitely be satisfied with what he experienced last night.
As Daniel snuffled in his sleep and moved closer to him, Aaron moved his arm to settle around the younger man’s waist and moving his nose to the crook of the man’s neck happily took a lungful of the almost intoxicating scent. There were most definitely different levels of a Platonic Bond. For instance, the Bonding that he’d done with Daniel was most assuredly different than the Bonding that Tony and Spencer had gone through when Reid was 12. Given the vast difference in the two pair’s ages and maturity levels at the time of the two Bondings, it would have to be. That was also something that poked at him as being wrong with the accepted thinking.
Bonding was not and should not be the same for everyone. Yet, it seemed that “those in the know” believed that it was some kind of carbon copy ritual. Any Guide and any Sentinel pairing could be inserted into the accepted steps, and it worked. He supposed that technically it may be true, but he wondered if that made for healthy bonds. Or would letting the couples find their own way through their bonding allow for stronger initial bonds and fewer problems in the aftermath as people who generally don’t know each other try to settle into a life together forever.
It was something he would need to consider and discuss with his Guide. Maybe even Jack and Danny or Blair and Jim. He and Daniel certainly weren’t going about the accepted Bonding Ritual, but he was confident that had he not had such a violent reaction to Daniel that it would have been expected, even here where he assumed that people would have to be more open-minded. He was also confident that had he and Daniel been forced into the standard Bonding Ritual right off that they wouldn’t be in such a healthy place now.
“What are you thinking about so deeply?” Daniel asked. His voice husky from sleep, and Aaron mentally shook himself to bring his focus back to the here and now.
“Do you think that the accepted Bonding Ritual requirements hurt or help?”
Aaron watched as Daniel considered the question and couldn’t contain a soft smile as he memorized his new partner’s thinking face. “Well, our Bonding certainly hasn’t gone according to the accepted script,” Daniel conceded eventually.
“I know that Jack and Danny went through the normal Bonding and had all kinds of problems in the direct aftermath until they got back here and could be more secluded. I’ve thought since you, and I began discussing it yesterday that had Danny and Jack been allowed to go the Platonic Bonding route first, then maybe they wouldn’t have struggled so much at the beginning. It was really hard on Jack who is very private and hated being at a Center and watched by so many people, and Danny was so angry over his divorce and what Rachel had done to him that he just wasn’t mentally prepared for a Bond. He once even hinted to me that there were some shades of sexual debasement to the whole situation. Certainly, where it came to the S&G Center’s involvement in the whole thing, not on Jack’s part in it.”
“I was thinking that our Bonding wouldn’t have gone as well if we’d been forced to go the usual route from the beginning, or even if Dr. Frasier was forcing us to go through it now. Then I began to wonder if the accepted Ritual wasn’t actually hindering the Bonding process. I mean there must be A-Sexual Sentinels and Guides out there, and to force them into the current Bonding Ritual requirement would, in my opinion, be rape. I’d like to believe that there were exceptions made. However, from my law studies and from my time at the BAU, I know for a fact that we had at least one case where a Sentinel and Guide pairing went wrong because the Sentinel, in that case, felt forced into having sex with the Guide who felt guilty about pushing for it. They ended up becoming a serial pair and killing other Guides who they felt were mistreating their Sentinels and then executing the Sentinel, in their minds, to save them from the horrors of their abilities.
“Reid theorized that the Sentinel had been a sapiosexual and wasn’t given time he needed to develop the attraction to his Guide’s mind. He felt that had the Sentinel been allowed to learn her mind naturally that they wouldn’t have snapped and begun killing. She certainly wouldn’t have been overloaded with the guilt she had to live with from the suffering her Sentinel went through on a daily basis over basically being raped during the bonding process. I don’t know why all of this didn’t occur to me then, but the only person that questioned the norms at the time were Reid and Tony.”
“Probably because of their own experiences,” Daniel murmured softly, and Aaron rolled onto his back to allow his Guide to scoot over and lay his head on his shoulder. “They certainly would have a better idea than the rest of us how harmful the typical Bonding Ritual could be in the wrong situations.”
Aaron hummed an agreement as his hand began moving up and down Spencer’s back. “Tony told me that was why he made sure he and Spencer were in Italy at the time that he turned 18. They have a much freer thought about Bonding, and since Tony’s father was born there, he was protected under their laws the way they’re currently written. Had they been in the US when Spencer hit 18 they would have been required to report to a Sentinel and Guide Center to undergo the Bonding Ritual even though they’d shared a Platonic Bond at that point for 8 years. Tony knew that he wasn’t ready yet and needed some time to learn his Guide as an adult and get rid of the idea that he was a helpless child. Had he been forced to have sex with Spencer the day Reid turned 18 it would have felt like he was raping him, and they would have at least been sexually coercing Tony.”
“Maybe once things get settled we need to sit down with Blair and Jim and talk to them about this,” Daniel suggested quietly. “I don’t know them well, but surely they’d hear us out.”
“I don’t either, but Blair and Jim are practically Spencer and Tony’s family and have acted as pseudo Uncles to them both for years.” When Daniel’s stomach growled loudly, Aaron chuckled. “I think we need to get Janet in here and check us out, and then maybe we can go find something to eat. I’d like to have some human interaction I think and meet some of the others around here. If you’re up for it.”
“Definitely!” Daniel said before stealing a kiss and giving a good morning to his Sentinel. Rolling out of bed, he pulled out clothes for them both before hitting the call button. “Let’s get this show on the road. I can’t wait to introduce you to Sam and Teal’c.”
Sitting up, Aaron watched his Guide unaware that he had the same look of affection on his face that Harrison had earlier. The only thing he knew was that the world was certainly beginning to look up, and he was more than ready for it.
Not long after, Aaron was following his Guide into the Mess Hall with his hand on the small of Daniel’s back. He could feel the threads of disappointment running along the bond and wished that he could change the situation. It hadn’t taken long for Daniel to remember that his team was not available. It had definitely dimmed his excitement at getting out and showing Aaron the base.
It seemed that while his Guide was incredibly close to his team, he felt like he was only marginally friendly with the rest of the base. He knew people, and yes, he had friendships within the scientist community on the base. Mostly when he wasn’t with his team though he was holed up translating something and keeping to himself. Therefore, with his team not there, the excitement of having people to introduce his new Sentinel to had waned. Aaron was hoping that Daniel’s perception wasn’t reality, and he wasn’t actually isolated from the military contingent on base.
“You’ve emerged from the depths of hibernation,” Aaron heard from behind them and turned with Daniel to see a blond man and a dark-haired woman standing behind them holding hands and smiling.
When Daniel perked up, Aaron felt himself relax. He hated feeling his Guide’s disappointment across the bond. “Aaron, this is Sentinel Sam and Guide Julie Braddock. They’ll be part of your team. I didn’t even think of introducing you to them today! This is awesome. Where’s Alec?”
“Probably already filling his face,” Julie quipped, and Aaron smiled at her as he held out his free hand to shake hers, which moving his other hand to take Daniel’s. “We got held up cause Sam had to get some training reports filed for you.”
Daniel turned to Aaron smiling big. “Sam will be your Second in Command on the team. He and Julie both come from the Toronto SRU’s Team One. Before he joined the Toronto PD though, Sam was a Master Corporal with the Joint Task Force 2 in the Canadian Army, which was a counter-terrorism unit.”
“Jules is just a straight out badass,” Sam offered with a smile as he shook Aaron’s hand. “It’s a pleasure to finally meet you, but we’re all glad that Doc Jackson finally found a mate. It’ll be nice having someone of his experience out in the field with us. Although, I gotta admit I’m considering investing in bubble wrap and tracking devices. I’m a little afraid what the Colonel will do if we ever lose you or you get hurt. No offense, Aaron. I’m sure you’ll be just as intimidating, but I already know how scary Jack is when something happens to his favorite geek.”
Aaron arched an eyebrow and looked at his Guide with a smirk before looking back to Sam and Julie. “This happens a lot, does it?”
“You have no idea,” Julie replied as the line moved forward and the conversation was paused while they all got their meals. Once they had their trays, Sam and Julie led them to a table that held a blond who seemed vaguely familiar.
“Aaron, this is the last member of your team,” Daniel introduced as they sat down. “His name is Alec Trevelyan, and he’s a Swing SentinelGuide. He comes to us from…”
“Holy fuck,” Aaron and Alec said simultaneously then glared at each other stunned, while the other three stared at the two of them.
“I thought you were dead,” Aaron said accusingly, and Alec just glared back heatedly.
“And, I thought you were someone I could trust with my brother. You wanker!”
“Umm, so it sounds like you two know each other?” Daniel interjected before things could get more heated.
Aaron gave Alec one last glare before turning his attention to Daniel. “Remember I told you about Dr. Spencer Reid? The member of my team who is like a little brother to me? Well, he had, or I guess it seems has, an actual older brother.” Aaron waved his hand to Alec who was now merely moving food around on his tray.
“The only thing is Spencer believes that he died when he was 12. Tony told me that it was a pretty traumatic experience for him since it happened barely 2 years after his father left and his mother was institutionalized. How could you do that to him?”
“How the fuck could someone who worked as a fucking profiler not consider that maybe I didn’t have a bloody choice!” Alec snapped loudly. “All the research I did on you after he started at the FBI said you were an upstanding kind of man and fair-minded. Granted it wasn’t bloody easy to find out since I’d supposedly been dead for almost 10 years, but I thought it was something I could trust. Sounds like I was wrong though, and you’re just an arsehole!”
“Hey, what’s goin’ on over here?” A curly haired blond asked as he and a man who appeared to be of Asian descent came over with trays. “Alec, you ok?”
“You’re right,” Aaron said more calmly as he clutched Daniel’s hand. “I shouldn’t have asked that question. It was insensitive and asshole-ish. In my own defense though, Spencer is important to me, and I know how much it hurt him to lose you. That doesn’t mean I had the right to hurdle baseless accusations at you without even trying to find out the truth. I guess my brain isn’t quite as back on track as I’d hoped after… well, my ex-wife’s death.”
“Is that why you bloody left him?” Alec asked, but this time it sounded less like an accusation as the newcomers took seats with one beside Alec and the other on the other side of Daniel. Sam and Julie had taken up spots on Aaron’s other side with Sam seated next to him and Julie on Sam’s other side and now across from the blond. “I don’t really have an excuse other than I’m just a hot-headed arsehole, so it’s fine. Apologies accepted and all that. Just, tell me how Spencer is last you saw him? Did he and Tony work things out? I’d hoped that they would. Kid impressed me when I met him.”
“You met Tony?” Aaron asked relaxing more as Daniel rested a hand on his leg.
“Scared the bloody hell out of him and his mate that lived with him to be a temporary Guide of sorts,” Alec replied proudly with a big grin on his face. “Snuck in while they were out and sat in the dark till they got back. Had to make sure he wasn’t some pervert! The kid quickly dispelled that idea though. He was bloody protective of Spencer even then, and as you know, things weren’t good between them in the early days.”
Aaron snorted affectionately as he remembered hearing about the event once. “I can only imagine. To answer your question, I have never met a Sentinel and Guide pairing who are more connected than Tony and Spencer. Tone is incredibly protective of Spencer, but at the same time makes it painfully obvious that he thinks Reid hung the moon. If Daniel and I are only half as connected as they are our relationship will be everything I’ve ever dreamed of. I would be happy to sit down with you and tell you anything you want to know about the two.”
Daniel quickly took a second to introduce Aaron to the two men who had joined them and identified the blond as Marty Deeks and the other as Matthew Simmons. It was Simmons who addressed the next question to Alec. “Trevelyan, rumor has it you know the new Doc Jackson?”
Aaron felt Daniels interest in the conversation perk up as Spencer’s brother huffed. “Well, I bloody well hope so since I recommended him, but my guess is that Hotchner here knows him, also.” When the other man turned his attention his way, Aaron just lifted an eyebrow in question.
“Jack and General Hammond thought we needed someone else around here who was as experienced as Doc is so that he’s not always so overworked. So, I recommended Tony’s Uncle, Guide Stephen Paddington. He and his mate Sentinel Marcus Stephenson were supposed to be here a week ago, but apparently, something held them up. If the bloody arsehole would answer his phone, I’d know what the hell is going on.”
“You know Tony’s family?” Aaron questioned confused, as Tony had never mentioned having another connection to Spencer’s brother.
Alec nodded his confirmation to the question, but then went on to explain. “Not that the kid knows it. His cousin Eddie worked with me at my former position. Was one of m’best mates there. I don’t think DiNozzo really knows what certain members of his family do though beyond his Uncle George. Never met Stephen and Marcus myself ‘cause I didn’t get time before… well things happened. I know he’s damned good at what he does though. Can’t wait to meet him.”
“Stephen Paddington you said?” Daniel asked sounding excited again, and Aaron was waiting for his Mate to begin bouncing. When Alec nodded, Daniel addressed the table as a whole but was looking at Aaron. “He’s a genius! I had him at the top of my wish list. I worked with him before coming to Stargate. He spent quite a lot of time teaching at American Universities, but still did expeditions during the summer. His linguistic skills though in recent years have grown to match his archeological and anthropological reputation.”
“That’d be Spencer,” Aaron said with a smile. “He told me once that when he moved in with Stephen and Marcus after Spencer came online that Stephen started to learn all the languages that Spencer could speak, and every time he wanted to learn a new one, Stephen would learn it with him. Stephen’s mate Marcus is quite a good psychologist in his own right, and he was actually one of the reasons that they got Guardianship of Spencer even though they were still fairly young. I think you’ll all like him. I’ve met him. He’s a riot. He’s certainly not what you’d expected of someone of his reputation who has spent so much time in academia.”
“There was this one time,” Alec began with a smile, and it started a storytelling marathon despite the veteran SGC members having to dance around the many things that Aaron hadn’t been read in on yet. He thought just maybe that by the end Daniel felt better about his own relationship with some of the military members, and certainly the members of Aaron’s team. He looked forward to expanding not just his personal friendships but his mate’s in the upcoming months and years that they’d be with SGC.