The Magnificent Seven & The Sentinel - Twin Guides AU

Growing Up

Disclaimer: Without prejudice, the characters of "The Magnificent Seven" belong to MGM, Trilogy Etc and the Characters of "The Sentinel" belong to Pet Fly, etc. The characters are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Universe: Twin Guides
Rating: Suitable for people over 13
Feedback: To MMW

Growing Up

The shaman looked at the two women. One was pregnant. Her time was very near and the twin boys she carried had very important roles to fill in the future. He had seen many visions of this moment and knew he would have little time to impart what the women needed to know.Turning off the engine of his pickup, he walked up to the disabled car, sitting on the side of the road with its hood up. “Can I help you ladies?” he asked.

Two young women, girls really, turned to look at the man approaching. They had been so relieved when someone finally came along. The two had been traveling to Texas to meet the pregnant woman’s husband at the army base there. The other woman had agreed to come along not only because she felt the urge to move on, but because she knew her friend should not be driving anywhere alone in her condition.

“Thank you,” the pregnant woman sighed in relief.

“Our car made this horrible sound,” the other woman said, her hands waving around as she spoke. “Then it just sort of died. We’ve been waiting here a while.”

The man nodded. “I’d be happy to bring you to my house and call a tow truck,” he offered. “I live about three miles down the road.”

Exchanging a look with her friend, the pregnant woman nodded. She really wasn’t feeling well and her back was aching something horrible.

“Good,” the man said. “My name is Joe. Do you need anything from your car? We can put it in the back of the truck if you do.”

“I’m Naomi and this is my friend Emma. We were on our way to Texas to meet her husband who’s in the army,” the young woman informed.

Joe smiled. “Well, let’s get going and see if we can get you on your way. Texas is still quite a drive away.” With that, he walked behind the car with Naomi and lifted the bags she pointed out. Placing them in the back of his truck, he then assisted both women into the vehicle and walked around to the driver’s side. Emma was closer to her time than he had thought. He hoped he could get her to his house in time.

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

It was as they turned down the road to Joe’s house that Emma’s pains increased and she realized that the pain in her back had actually been labor pain. Joe did his best to reassure the woman and hastened down the driveway.

Pulling to a stop before the small one-floor house, Joe rushed around to the other side of the truck and opened the door. He helped Emma down and they managed two steps before her water broke. Seeing the fear in the woman’s eyes, he smiled and assured, “I delivered two of my own children in this house. We’ll get you inside and call an ambulance as well as the tow truck. You will be fine.”

Taking some comfort in that information, Emma nodded and moved forward as Naomi rushed up and took her other arm.

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

The labor was much faster than anyone had thought given it was Emma’s first pregnancy. An hour after her water broke, two healthy baby boys were filling the rooms with their cries. Emma lay exhausted on the bed, both boys now resting quietly on her chest.

Naomi wiped her eyes, for all the pain she had seen in her friend’s face during the labor and birthing, she found it impossible to deny the miracle of new life. Reaching over, she gently stroked the tiny heads and smiled at her friend.

Watching the scene from the doorway, Joe stepped into the bedroom. “The ambulance should be here in another thirty minutes,” he advised. “I’m a bit out of the way,” he offered by way of apology. “I also just heard from Tommy. He’s on his way back to the garage with your car. He said it didn’t look too serious and it should be ready for when you move on.”

The exhausted mother smiled at the man who had helped her. “I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done,” she said, tears brimming in her eyes.

Joe blushed and looked uncomfortable at the thanks. Then with a sigh, he moved over to the bed and sat at the edge. There were things he needed to tell these women before they left. He only hoped that they would understand and believe him. His face growing serious, he looked into the eyes of the adults. “I have much to tell you,” he began, wishing there were an easier way to say what he needed to say to them. “I only ask that you hear me out before you make any judgments.” Receiving two nods he continued. “I am a shaman – a medicine man – for my people. In our legends are stories of tribal protectors. These men have special gifts from the spirits to help them protect the tribe and make sure there is enough food and water. These protectors had companions with them to teach them and to aid them. Your boys will grow to be companions.”

The two women exchanged looks, wanting to dismiss the old man’s words, but unable to do so.

Seeing that they were still listening, he continued, “I have had visions of these two in the years to come. They will not be together for long, each of you will have one of them with you and your lives will grow apart. Each will seek his protector, but each in his own way.” Focusing on Emma, he said, “You will keep the oldest. He has the spirit of a warrior and will overcome what is in his way. He will find his way to the side of his protector, but will need the instruction of his younger brother. This will come later in his life. Until then, his life will not be easy and he will spend much time alone, but do not fear for him. Once he finds his protector, he will never be alone again, but instead find a family.”

Turning to Naomi, he continued, “You will have the younger boy and teach him the path of peace. He will be surrounded by books and learning. He will find his protector in this way and will be prepared to help him. He will be a reluctant warrior, but will be able to overcome. Together, your boys will help fight the darkness to come and ensure the survival of their tribes.”

At this point, the sound of an ambulance approaching cut off the old man’s dialogue. He rose from his seat on the bed and moved to greet the new arrivals. There was more he could tell them, but he had told them enough. Somehow he knew he would see at least one of them again. Hopefully both would heed his words.

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

Eighteen Months later

Joe heard the knock on his door and moved to answer it. He was surprised to see a familiar looking young woman standing on his doorstep holding a small toddler with curly brown hair and beautiful blue eyes. “May I help you?” he asked, trying to place the woman’s face.

“I… I didn’t know where else to go,” the woman stammered, looking young, scared and unsure.

“Come in,” the old shaman offered, leading her to the living room. “Sit,” he encouraged, smiling as the boy stared all around him before wiggling away and beginning to explore. Seeing the woman was still uncomfortable, he smiled and asked, “How may I help you?”

“I…” the woman began again before taking a deep breath. When she began speaking again, all the words came out in a rush. “My name is Emma Tanner. About a year and a half ago you helped me deliver my twin boys. My husband died. I lost our house and his family won’t help me. My family’s all gone. I don’t have anywhere to go. I remembered you and thought… I hoped…”

Joe reached over and took Emma’s hand. He remembered now, the mother of the two guides. “I remember,” he said softly. “You and the young one are welcome to stay here,” he offered. “Let me get you some water and then you can tell me what has happened.” Receiving a nod of agreement, he stood and moved toward the kitchen to get a glass of water.

He was only there a moment before he spotted the small boy looking at him from the door, trust and curiosity showing in the blue eyes. A contented smile appeared on his face. His own children were long grown and had left for other areas of the country. They had children of their own who Joe only saw rarely. It would be good to have someone else around the house. Still, he knew there was more to the story than what he had been told. Obviously, the two boys had been separated as he had seen. The fact that one of them would end up in his home had been hidden from him. Still, it would allow him the opportunity to teach the boy the beginnings of what he would need.

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

Naomi Sandburg sat in the warm California sun and watched Blair run after a butterfly. A sad smile appeared on her face as she thought of her friend, Emma Tanner. She had only had Blair for a little more than four months, and found it impossible to imagine her life without him.

When she had received the message that Emma’s husband had passed away, Naomi had hurried out to be with her friend. Once the arrangements had been made, the two women realized that there was no way Emma would be able to afford both boys and the debt the young family had incurred.

At that point, Emma had asked Naomi to take Blair and raise him as her own. At first, Naomi had wanted to let Blair keep the Tanner name, but Emma had observed that there would be fewer questions if they had the same last name. Naomi had vowed that someday she would tell Blair about his family.

Now, four months later, she was left speechless by the sacrifice her friend had made. She better understood the pain Emma had gone through in relinquishing one of her sons because that was what Blair was to her now – her son.

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

Four Years later

Joe rested his hand on Vin’s shoulder as the two stood by Emma’s grave side. Her illness had been long and painful, death a relief. They had managed to put the paperwork through that named Joe Redhawk as Devin Tanner’s legal guardian. At least the boy would be able to stay with him.

“Come on, Vin,” he encouraged after a while. “We should go home. The others will be waiting.”

Tearful blue eyes stared up at the old man. “Kay, Grandpa,” he agreed softly, Leaning against the man’s leg as he was led to the old truck.

Joe sighed. He would need to talk to his family to make arrangements for Vin. Though, like any man, he hated to admit it, Joe knew his time was running out and he knew that this special child would need strong guidance. Perhaps his son Kojay would be willing to add Vin to his family. Tanner and Kojay’s youngest, Chanu seemed to get along well enough…

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

Naomi wandered down the aisle of the used bookstore in Hyde Park. Chicago had the best used book stores and Blair always seemed to enjoy the time here. Looking around she spotted her son with his nose buried in a children’s book. A smile crossed her face. Blair was so smart. He was already reading. They were just passing through the Windy City on their way toward a small commune some friends of hers had told her about up in Wisconsin.

Turning to look around the section she was in, she found an old book by Richard Burton. Wondering what an actor would write about, she pulled it down and opened it. Noting the date, she realized her mistake. The book was too old to have been written by the actor.

Glancing at the title she noted it was about someone called a sentinel. The name meant little to her, but as she skimmed further into the book, her eyes widened in amazement as memories flooded back. She remembered the old man who had helped her friend Emma with the birth of the boys and how he had called Devin and Blair companions and said they would help protectors. Everything seemed to fit in exactly with what was written in this book. Checking the price, she glanced in her purse and noted she had enough to pay for the book.

Gathering her son, she went to the register and paid for both that book and the one Blair had chosen. She would give Blair the book on sentinels for his next birthday. It would be a little over the boy’s head, but that would change.

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

Six years Later

Blair sat in the back of the class. He was bored. Tenth grade honors classes were not nearly as challenging as he had thought they would be. His unusual childhood and the eclectic mix of home-school teachers he had left him well ahead of most children in areas of education. The fact that his companions were almost always adults only added to this.

Right now he was with a man his mother had met years ago before he was born, Josiah Sanchez. He liked the man and hoped that they could spend some more time with him, but Blair had already noticed the signs of restlessness in his mother that meant they would be moving along soon.

Maybe, if he was lucky, Naomi would let him stay here until he graduated. That was only two years away, and then he could go to college. There was bound to be one that would accept him.

Once he was in college, he could learn more about the people called Sentinels. Deep inside, Blair knew that he was a guide and that he needed to find one of these men with enhanced senses.

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

Joe opened his eyes and looked at the boy who had been his family and companion for the past decade. The eleven-almost-twelve year old stood quietly by his bedside, holding his hand, sadness and fear in his eyes.

Finding a small smile, Joe looked at his grandson and encouraged, “Don’t worry Vin. Kojay will come and get you. You’ll be fine. Miss Martin will find a place for you to stay until he can arrive.”

“I know, Grandpa,” Vin replied quietly before looking down. “But I don’t want you to go.”

“Nothing can stop that now,” Joe replied, feeling the same way. “You must remember what I told you, what I taught you.”

“Always, Grandpa,” Vin promised as he watched the old man’s eyes close for the final time.

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

Eighteen months later

Blair sighed. It had been nice to be able to stay with Josiah for so long to finish school and he was glad his mother understood his need. Unfortunately, a family tragedy had occurred for Josiah and his sister Hannah, which meant Blair needed to find somewhere else to go. He was so close to graduating he almost hated to do it, but felt he had no choice.

With the help of the principal, his teachers and Mr. Sanchez, Blair was settling into his seat to take the GED test. When he passed he would be officially finished with high school and, thanks to a few strings being pulled by his guidance counselor and a friend or two of Naomi’s, he would be attending Coleson College in a month’s time.

Of course, he would have to find a university for any additional degrees he wanted, but his choices of colleges willing to take a thirteen year old at the last minute were somewhat limited. At least Coleson was a selective school, that should help somewhat.

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

Vin crouched down and hid in the shadow of the building. He was getting out and no one was going to stop him this time.

After his Grandpa had died, he was taken and put into a foster home. It was just supposed to be for a few days. That first night he had eaten his meal and noticed that the milk he had been given to drink was a little off. The other boys thought so as well.

Vin could remember getting back to his room that night and then nothing until he woke up in the back of the truck with the other boys. A man with a gun was watching over them.

That had been over a year ago, a year and a half if Peter was to be believed.

They had been here all that time. Here was a militia compound. The boys had been taken here and put to work immediately. Their first task had been in the fields under the watchful eyes of the guards. There were maybe twenty boys all totaled. Every day and every night they endured lectures from the various leaders who told them why their way was the only way to live and why their way would bring about a new nation.

Most of the boys went along with it, though none believed the rhetoric. They had been warned early in their stay what would happen if they tried to escape. Vin bore the truth of that threat in the scars on his back and legs.

This time though, he would not be caught.

Moving silently toward the main entrance, Vin crouched and waited until the guard moved off. Before too long, the truck that left every day for the market came up and was searched.

Tanner wasn’t interested in the truck, however. He was just interested in the time it would take for the gates to open.

When they finally did, he ran to the side of the truck, being sure to stay low to the ground, and slipped out of the gates.

He moved immediately into the bushes on the side of the road and made his way as silently as possible along the side of the compound.

When he was out of sight of the main entrance, he darted across the street and into the woods on that side. Watching and listening, he heard the sound of a stream in the distance and moved as quietly as he could to follow it.

As dawn began to light the sky, Vin spotted a nearby road. Moving toward it, he decided he needed a ride. He knew the dangers he was facing, but also knew that he had little choice. He was cold, tired and exhausted.

With any luck he would find someone nice to give him a ride and be able to make his way back home. Someone there should know how to get in touch with Kojay.

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

Three years later

Indecision had kept Blair from declaring a major and now he was a whole year behind. Still, it wasn't like he was old enough to have the job he wanted anyway, so the second major wouldn't hurt, nor would the extra year. A portion of him only wished that he had been able to go on the anthropology department trip this year, but he just didn't have the money and, since he wasn't over eighteen, he would have had to get parental permission anyway.

Normally that wouldn't be so bad, but his mom had disappeared somewhere and Josiah, who was still his legal guardian, was in the midst of consulting with the FBI, profiling a case. It wasn't that he was impossible to reach, but Blair was loathe to interrupt the man just now when he needed to focus and not worry about Blair traipsing across the world.

A sigh escaped the young man as he entered his dorm room at the thought of the man who had been his guardian for so long. The two had been drifting further apart. It wasn't just the miles between them, but the paths their lives were taking. Somehow he knew their infrequent communication would come to an end sooner rather than later, but at least he had met one of the men he admired in the field of anthropology - Eli Stoddard. If things went well, Eli felt that Blair could do his post-graduate work at Rainier. A thought that warmed his heart.

At least he knew what path he wanted to take.

Scanning his room, his eyes fell on the old book his mother had given him. Pulling it from the shelf, he dropped his backpack and settled in the uncomfortable chair. He loved reading about Sentinels and hoped one day to meet one.

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

Vin glared at the book and closed it. Why was reading so hard? Why was school so difficult for him?

He wasn't stupid, he knew that. But sitting in a room being lectured to and then having to sit down and read books just didn't seem to help. Maybe that was why his favorite classes were gym and the lab portion of biology. There was no reading involved.

Still, he needed to get through this year and the next. The army wouldn't take him if he didn't have a high school diploma or a GED.

Staring out the window next to his carousel in the library, he knew that the army did not hold the answers he was looking for, nor was it what he wanted to do with his life, but he could also sense that it was the correct path for him to take. He would sign up for four years and get whatever training he could. Maybe by then he would be able to see where his path was going.

With a sigh, he turned his attention back to the subject at hand and couldn't help wondering if real people actually spoke like Shakespeare.

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

Six Years Later

Vin stepped off the bus and looked around the small, dusty town.

There was a small used car dealership across from the bus station. Scanning the prices painted on the windows, Vin spotted a battered old jeep that would fit comfortably into his finances. Looking both ways, he crossed and a few hours later threw the duffle containing all his worldly possessions into the back of his new car.

With minimal protest, the engine turned over and he was on his way to the only home he had ever known.

As the wind blew around him, he felt the nervous tension grow in his stomach. He hadn't been back to the house or the town since his grandpa died.

A shiver of fear raced down his spine as he thought of what happened after he was taken away from the only home he'd known. It had taken him too long to get back, but he'd finally made it. Now he could only hope someone he knew had taken over the house.

Pulling up in front of the small house some two hours later, he turned off the engine and slowly exited the vehicle. As he stood beside the jeep taking in the fresh paint on the house and the plants in the garden, the screen door opened and a very familiar figure exited. "Uncle Kojay?" he breathed.

"Vin," the man greeted with a nod and a smile before opening his arms.

The young man didn't hesitate. He walked forward into the waiting embrace and wrapped his arms around the man who had become his uncle, who should have been his legal guardian, the man who would raise him. As he relaxed into the warmth of the hug, he felt all the years of fear, pain and loneliness fade away.

He had made it through his years in the army and now needed a new path. That need had led him back here to the one place he called home and, fortunately, to the one man who he knew could help him.

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

"I'm telling you, man, this is the real deal," Blair enthused, bouncing slightly on his toes. He suppressed a sigh as Jim showed all the enthusiasm of a dead fish. While he would be forever thankful for finding his Sentinel, there were times when Blair Sandburg wondered if he had bitten off more than he could chew.

Jim looked away wondering how much longer he would have to pretend to be completely impassive before Blair really lost it. Oh, Ellison knew it wasn't a fair game, but the neo-hippy-witch-doctor-punk who was, disturbingly enough, growing on him, deserved a little payback for all the tests that the Sentinel had to suffer through. That was something else that seemed to take some getting used to, the fact that he was a Sentinel. "You done?" he asked, his voice cool and even, enjoying the speechless response he got. Yep, he definitely had to take his amusement where he found it. Payback.

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

Two years later

Blair had seen Jim's truck outside the apartment and started talking as soon as he entered the building, knowing his friend would hear him. "Got company coming," Sandburg informed, climbing the stairs, still uncertain how he felt about everything all these years later. "My legal guardian, Josiah Sanchez stopped by today. He left the FBI after his last case and is seeking something, penance I suppose. I invited him to dinner tonight." Reaching the landing that the loft was on, he wasn't surprised to see Jim standing in the doorway. "He'll be here at seven," Blair finished stepping past his friend and into the sanctuary of his apartment.

"You sure you want to go through with this?" Jim asked, easily picking up on his guide's distress.

Dropping his backpack and running his hands through his hair, Blair sighed. "Yes," he replied, coming to a decision in his own mind. "It needs to be done. It's been too long."

As he turned to face Jim, a smile crossed Blair's face. "I think you'll like him," he assured.

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

Six months later.

Vin hefted another box in the storeroom and then wiped his brow. He would never understand the path his life followed. It seemed every time he turned around, there was another obstacle in the way, a darker turn, and fewer options to walk the good path.

After returning to his home and finding his Uncle Kojay, Vin had discovered that Chanu was a bounty hunter. With the encouragement of his family, the former sniper had worked with his cousin and discovered quite a talent for tracking down skips.

Then a year ago, Chanu had broken his leg and Vin had been asked to go after Elias Josephs, a. k. a. Eli Joe. Though he hadn't worked on his own before, with the encouragement of his family, he had agreed.

Somehow, Eli Joe and his gang had gotten the drop on Tanner and the next thing Vin knew, he was waking up with a gun in his hand and the dead body of a stranger lying in a pool of blood before him.

That was when the police arrived.

He had been immediately taken into custody and, despite his denials, arrested after only preliminary questioning.

It had been the worst six months of his life, but he had eventually gotten off and his record was expunged. There was and would be no trace of the incident in his file - ever.

The time in jail, however, had given him time to think. It was time for him to search for his guardian. So, upon his release, he had left behind his Harley, packed up his jeep and headed out on the road, taking odd jobs when needed.

Just this morning, he had found himself in need of a job. Agreeing upon a wage, he had taken a position at Virgil Watson's hardware store. Virgil would run the counter, Vin would do pretty much everything else, including sweeping the walkway. The work didn't bother Tanner, but there was something about this place, a sense of anticipation, a sense of destiny, that unsettled him and left him wondering what would happen next.

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