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Sentinel Crossovers
Bastet's Gift   |   Twenty Years Ago
Bastet's Gift
By Sentinel Cat
Author's disclaimer: I'd like to give the standard disclaimers to Pet Fly and UPN. Jim and Blair are not my characters. Also, I'd like to say that the rest of the characters are not mine as well. They were created by P.M. Griffon in her story "In Bastet's Service" found in the anthology Catfantastic II, edited by Andre Norton and Martin Greenburg.

Author's notes: This is a crossover with a short story in the book, Catfantastic II. The story is called, In Bastet's Service by P.M. Griffin. I decided to write this after reading all those posts that were on Senad. And decided to make the story a challenge as well. I adore cats and this seemed a good way to actually bring the panther to the story. Although, I have to admit, it's only a little panther. :-)

Walking down the street to their vehicle, Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg were arguing.

"Jim, you can't tell me that Jacob didn't deserve that reprimand. After all, he did violate police procedure."

"Well, what do you expect, Sandburg? He'd knocked the suspect out after coming after him. Do you expect him to give the Miranda speech while the suspect was unconscious?"

"He came to, in the police car, JIM!! The arresting officers had time to tell him before he got to the police station. I don't know how the DA'll see it, but whether he was told or not afterward, their civil rights were violated. You're supposed to tell them their rights before the arrest, not after."

"Well, Chief, not everyone can be as conscientious as you. Not all of us are perfect. Depending on the situation, we can't always, give a person their rights, before they're arrested. And this happened to be one of those times." Jim was looking in frustration at his partner. Stubbornness was permeating his expressions. He knew that no matter what he told Sandburg, he wouldn't be able to get through to him. Trying to change Blair's mind, was like trying to make an elephant forget. "And besides, he hadn't exactly been arrested yet. Just taken into custody."

"Well, I hope the DA'll believe that too!!" Blair's energy was exploding into his steps. He vibrated while walking beside Jim, with spring and bounce. He just couldn't stand still.

"You know, Chief? It really doesn't matter, now does it? First, it wasn't me that violated the law. Second, I know my job, and if I'm doing it wrong, then I wouldn't have it. So, why are you making it seem that I don't? And putting all this guilt on me?"

"Uh...sorry, Jim. It's just that I've known too many people who've been abused by the police. They're not all as good a cop as you are. And when they break one of our basic civil rights, well, it just makes my temper boil!"

Interrupting their walk a minute, he paused to look at Blair. That nervous energy could have been anger. Or it could be him just getting into one of those lecturing moods. Sometimes it was hard for Jim to tell. His gaze halted on Blair's body for a moment, as in his mind, he went over everything that made him beautiful. It was times like these, noticing how passionate Blair was about the abuse that goes on in the world, he was reminded of just how much he loved him. Shaking his head quickly, he had to make himself remember that there was no earthly way for Blair to ever want him as much as he wanted Blair.

It was painful loving someone who could never love you back!!

By the time they'd gotten to their home, both of them were ready to call it a night. They'd shopped for groceries, went to pick up Blair's work from the university, and ended up having to talk to a few of Blair's friends who'd they'd met in the store. It was enough socialization to last for a while because Blair couldn't go anywhere without someone recognizing him.

They had just pulled up to the curb of their home, when Jim heard it. He wasn't trying to hear anything at all, it was just that it was so unusual that he picked up on it subconsciously. Not bothering to mention anything yet to Blair, he focused on the sound.

In a flash, he was out of the truck, looking around for the sound. He tried to fixate on where it was coming from. After finding it, he head off to his right and went towards the alley that was next to their building. Sandburg, noticing what Jim was doing, was behind him, while Jim was using both sound and scent, by that time, to hunt. Rushing into the alley, both of them were able to hear the struggle going on. Blair right behind him, they came upon what looked like a rape in progress. They were about to plunge in to stop it, when they stopped, stared, and appeared to suddenly be astonished. The rape wasn't turning out to be normal.

The woman was not only using her purse to ward off her attackers, but she had help. Unusual help. Two cats were tearing into her attacker's head. A small calico was shredding one of the men's neck while another cat, this one a large solid black was tearing into the other man's face.

Finally, the men were able to knock the cats off and rushed away down the alley like the cat's of hell were behind them. For all they knew, they probably were. In their typical fighting stance, the two cats growled and snarled and hissed at the two men running away. Then, they just relaxed and raced back over to the woman, a beautiful blond woman in her thirties, who was now getting up off her knees.

"Oh, my sweeties, thank you!!! I never would have survived without you two!!" Reaching down, she picked up the black and the calico, one in each of her hands. Then she turned and faced the two men who were watching everything with a daze on their face. Francie stared at her two would-be rescuers. The men were beautiful. One was a tall, strong man who seemed to present a reassuring figure of authority. The other, while short, had something too. Long hair and a young, hippie way about him, he was beautiful in a way that only the odd could be. But it fit him like a glove. So did the other's appearance.

"Uh, Jim, did I just see what I think I did?"

"Well, unless we're both dreaming, we just saw two cats fight off two men and win. I hope that's what you just saw."

Francie, seeing their pure amazement in their eyes, was by that time quite used to it. After all, it had been on her face when she was first chosen. "Gentlemen, I don't know how to thank you. It's not often you find men willing to interfere in a crime being committed."

Blair, completely flabbergasted, looked like a fish out of water, but ended up saying somewhat coherently, "Miss, we're sorry we were too late, but...I mean...the cats....could you tell us about your cats? Are they trained to do that or are they just naturally protective?"

Francie's light laugh penetrated the dark gloom of the alley. Suddenly, remembering their manners, Blair calmly asked her if she wanted to come into their apartment to freshen up and call the police. She was about to say no, and go back home, when she was stopped. The black cat had it's paw on her arm and got her attention by a sharp claw. Looking down, she noticed that he wanted something. Well used to the mystical communication by that time, after hearing what Gift wanted, Francie looked back up again. Having taken only a moment, she answered, "Yes, I'd like that. By the way, my name is Francie Davis. I'd shake your hand, but I've kinda got my hands full."

"Wait a minute, not the Francie Davis who owns Davis Real-estate Company?" Jim queried. The company had provided help for the P.D. numerous times, by finding them quick, emergency safe houses.

Grinning with amusement at his astonishment, "That's me all right. I started the company a few years ago, after getting severely frustrated with my former company. Nothing worse than working for a company you hate!!"

"Wow! You're one of the biggest in Cascade. What are you doing over here on Prospect?"

Both taking a side, Blair and Jim walked with her back to their apartment. Inside, Blair headed toward the kitchen to make some coffee and put away their groceries, while Jim went to get a wet cloth for her to wipe the blood off and the first aid kit. Sitting down on their couch, she relaxed and waited for the unseen voice to appear for her like it usually does when something like this happens.

The cats got down off of her lap and started to explore the terrain. As Blair came back with the coffee, and Jim returned with the towels and kit, she watched them, while Jim was bandaging her knees. A silent communication was occurring between them. She'd seen enough of it, and had plenty of experience to recognize it. Unfortunately, her training and vocation made her a good judge of people. Right before her eyes, she faced two men who were in love and either didn't know it or if they did, that it was mutual. Her cats, their silent presence in the back of her mind, noticed it too.

Blair, not being able to stand it anymore, said, "Francie, my name is Blair Sandburg. I'm a consultant to the Cascade P.D. and teaching fellow at Rainier. This is my partner, Detective Jim Ellison of Major Crimes." Watching the cats start playing with each other, he commented, "They must be intelligent cats to protect you like that."

"Oh, that's their job." It was out of Francie's mouth before she'd realized what she said.

" mean they're trained attack cats?" Jim had this corny expression like he didn't believe it.

Francie had to say something, "Well, I've had Turtle, the calico, for a very long time, and Gift was given to me a while back. They stay with me to protect me, so I guess you could say that." She was dreading them to ask her how they did that and why did she take the cats everywhere with her. She knew it wouldn't take much for these men to be suspicious of her. She'd seen far too much prejudice lately, being called Cat Lady or Witch behind her back.

//Tell them the truth, Francie.//

Using the silent communication that she was extremely practiced at by now, she said within her mind, Bastet, they'll think I'm crazy

//No, they won't. They're already under my protection anyway. Meeting them, at this time, was part of your destiny. It is to be one of your duties as a Teacher. They need a Teacher at this time, desperately, if they're to have any chance for survival//.

I still don't understand.

//You don't have to. All you need to know is that they are under the protection of one of my children. The Panther. And she is not alone, the spirit of my sister Wolf protects them too. They face a time of change. You're here to give them the necessary chance to survive and to offer yourself as an instructor or an advisor. But they won't need that for a while. For now, they need something else in their life. A catalyst. Offer them Gift.//

When the voice hesitated, Francie got furious and screamed in her mind, What the heck are you talking about, Bastet? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, GIVE THEM GIFT? I thought Gift was MY Partner!

//He is, but Turtle is your familiar. Gift is only in his second. He still has eight more lives to share his love with. He'll always be your partner, but he's not your bonded partner. Gift was sent to you to learn how to love. You taught him that. Now he must teach these two the same thing. These two will need to have a familiar bond very soon. Their inherent magic must be taught. Even though guiding comes naturally to Blair, he doesn't know everything. What he doesn't know himself, Gift will. But it doesn't matter, Francie. It is time for him to leave. Just offer them Gift. It is their destiny.//

Of all the goddesses I had to end up with it had to be an interfering, mischievous, goddess who always has to be mysterious. She never can answer all my questions. No, I have to act first and regret later. After the grumble and argument was over with Bastet, goddess of cats, she opened her mouth and said before she had time to change her mind, "Jim, Blair, to thank you for the kindness that you've given me, I'd like to give you Gift."

"What!" At the same time, Jim and Blair both burst out.

Gift, please, teach your new humans to love you like I do! She smiled as she watched Gift walk over to them and jump on Jim's lap before he could shoo him away. Turning his aristocratic mien upon Jim and Blair sitting next to him, he gazed at them with his rich, copper eyes. His ancient lineage of descendence from a long line of Egyptian cats was reflected in both his stance, the sleek, powerful muscles in his body and the long, powerful legs. Large, about fourteen pounds, he settled himself upon Jim. His stare reminded Jim of his spirit guide. Actually, he looked like a little panther.

While he was being inspected, Gift turned his eyes from Jim to capture Blair's. As he looked deep within both of them, he recognized the truth.

Before him was a Guide. And where there was a guide, the watcher always followed. He'd always thought them legends, but now he knew why Bastet had given him to them. He smiled with anticipation for his future job. Not only would he have a home with two who he would make love him, but he could be there when they realized that the love they have for him could be shared between each other. Now, looking back over to his beloved Francie, he already missed the happiness he'd learned and been taught by the Teacher.

If it hadn't have been for her, he'd have been so afraid of taking a chance on another human. Now thanks to her, he'd learned how to trust. All he'd have to do is guide the Guide and his Watched to their own truth. Don't you just love a cat's sacred duty. Of course, a little mischief wouldn't be out of hand either.

Standing up to leave, with Turtle in her hand, she stopped them by saying, "No, you don't have to get up. I've got to go anyway. I had an appointment with a client down the street. I've been looking for a good home to give Gift to. Your inherent kindness tells me that he was meant to be with you."

Not letting them get over the frozen state of being out of their control, she left quickly before she'd have to answer all their questions. Deciding that even though she had permission to tell them that she was a mage teacher and that Turtle was her familiar, it was better to let them discover all of Gift's gifts by themselves. It would make them appreciate Gift more. Although, "Before I forget, if you ever need help, I know it sounds weird, but for those who have a cat in the family, calling out Bastet's name out loud may get you the help you need. You don't even have to believe in her." With a final grin, she left out the door before they could say anything.

Shaking himself out of the wonderment he'd found himself in, Jim was bewildered. Nothing had been normal today, from having what he thought of as an unconscious man accusing the P.D. of denying him his civil rights, to watching two cats tear into two rapists to protect their owner, and then having one of those same cats (who just happened to look like a little panther) given to him as a thank you when he didn't even want it. Turning, he saw that Blair was in no better condition.

"Blair, why don't we go to bed. Maybe by tomorrow, it'll be better. This has been one extremely strange day."

Waking up, Blair whispered, "You got that right!" and answered, "You're right Jim. I think I desperately need some sleep. I don't know about you, but I keep hearing this voice."

A studious expression on his face, Jim was captured by Blair. It was all he could do not to reach over and start kissing those luxurious lips and imprisoning that mouth of his. Feeling a rise starting to come out of him, he turned, dropped the cat to the floor and said, "Good night." as he was going up the stairs.

Jim had no idea that he wasn't the only one who was aroused by the other's appearance. Blair watched Jim's tight ass encased in denim, and broad manly shoulders sway seductively as he went up to his bedroom. Stopping himself when he realized his pants were becoming a little too small, he looked down and found himself being watched. The cat was gazing directly at him. Copper eyes were saying that he knew what he was feeling. Somehow that voice he'd heard in his head ever since all of this started was back inside his head again.

//Listen to the cat. He speaks the truth.//

I'm going insane. Now I hear the voice telling me to listen to the cat! Yeh, right! I've got to get some sleep.

After discarding everything except the boxers he wore to bed, he laid down, and wondered just what was going on. Sleep overcoming him, he didn't feel the soft, purring animal laying down next to him. Giving Blair a last look, Gift bestowed on him a cat smile and thought it better to start with the Guide. It really didn't matter because by working on one, he automatically worked on the other. And Blair would be first, because Jim would never make the first move if he feared that it would hurt his beloved. Blair was the one who'd ride the cat, so it was better to teach him not to fear the panther.

The feeling of passion winded its way around him, the feel of hands teasing him, touching him with those fleeting touches. He moved, with those fingers moving along his body with him. Lips traveled boldly down his body. The kisses aroused every pore in his body, every muscle strained with desire, skin broke out in goose bumps as it continued. Those lips fleetingly moved their way along his body, reaching his nipples and started that acute suction he desired so badly. Body firm and rigid, he broadcasted the craving he had for more of those lips.

Teasing his body, he responded by pulling his seducer to him, capturing those succulent lips, and diving into the feast that awaited him. Love, desire, passion, taste, smell, feel, all their emotions and senses awakened and were imprisoned within each other. Bodies moved against the other, with their hands touching, grasping, handling whatever they could get their hands on. Cocks hard and ready, pushing against each other, moving each in time with the other, ready to reach the aspired point, that explosion of self. Rocking and bucking, plastered together, they melted against each other where you couldn't tell where one began. The critical point achieved, they burst into an environment filled with lights, rainbows, and bright hot fire. A shout rang out..........


Waking up in a violent spasm, Jim and Blair burst up straight in bed at the same time. Looking down, they found semen covering their bodies and filling their shorts. They realized at the same minute, that they'd been dreaming about making love to the other. Instinctively, Blair, knowing Jim would have heard him and smell his release, feared his reaction. Getting up off the bed, he stood there shakily. Barely able to stand, he decided he needed to clean up, and maybe hope he could talk his way out of this predicament he'd found himself in.

Jim, after looking down at himself, remembering the violence of the passion he'd felt, could only say silently, to himself, "Only a dream! Dear Lord, it was only dream." Too upset with having everything he'd ever wanted given to him and then to find out it was all a dream and nothing had been real. Tears poured out of the stoic man, who never cried. He'd lost his most cherished hope and just knew that he'd never get it back. Getting up, he hadn't heard Blair also moving. He decided that he'd better clean himself. Thankful that Blair hadn't heard him, he was unconsciously filtering out Blair's presence, not hearing him at all. Coming down the stairs, he stopped in astonishment. Blair was sleepily, although with a fearful expression on his face, meeting him at the bathroom.

No longer able to filter Blair out, Jim was stunned at the smell of Blair's release of desire on him. The soft, musky scent that seductively aroused him whenever he was near. Already in such turmoil, he wasn't able to screen his emotions and desires from Blair's sight. Even in the soft darkness, their eyes caught and held each other.

Not able to move, Jim suddenly realized the truth. He just knew. None of this was one-sided. All of it was real, and what he was seeing wasn't going to go away like a dream would.

Blair too, was caught in the spider's web. There was no escape. He didn't exactly want to escape.

Swiftly, not giving each other a chance to change their minds, they found themselves in each other's arms. Blair, his face looking up, caught Jim's head and pulled it down. Their lips met. What they'd each wanted for so long broke out in an inferno of heat between them. Violently, their passion became as explosive as the dream. Pulling Blair up, Jim ground their cocks together and pushed the heat up to the boiling point.

Long past the point of no return, not knowing what was going on, they just reacted to what they were feeling. Finding themselves dropping down to the floor, they needed each other so badly, that they couldn't have made it to the bedroom even if they'd tried to. On the carpet at the foot of the stairs, they made love. Tugging each other's boxers off, their mouth never departing at all, unless it was to find another part of their body to posses. Words were unnecessary as their lips were being put to better use! Nipples, cock, mouth, all parts of their body were busy at the moment.

Control lost, Jim found out just how much of the panther was within him. Dominant Sentinel instincts were released from the strict control he'd had over them. Flipping Blair over, he knew somehow exactly how to prepare his mate. By coating his fingers with the pre-cum already leaking from each other's cocks, he started the ritual preparation needed between two male lovers. Inserting his finger, Jim started a rhythmic stretching movement that turned out both were familiar with if not well-practiced at.

Blair, lost to Jim's overriding dominance, let him take charge. Feeling Jim's finger within him nearly caused him to come right then, but a firm grim on his cock from the other hand Jim had around him, prevented his release. Suddenly, Jim added another finger stretching and massaging his love's internal passage. After going in deep enough, he found the prostate. Softly teasing it, Blair gasped with silent pleasure. No longer able to wait for a third finger, hoping Blair was stretched enough as it was, he positioned himself, and slowly pushed himself in the tight passage and body he loved with his heart and soul.

Feeling Jim's thick cock push into him, Blair could barely take it. Forcing himself to relax, he waited until Jim was all the way in before he started to move. First, just a little push back, then the rocking grew faster and faster until Jim was pounding hard and fast into the body, anticipating every move his lover made. Neither knew how long it was before their desperate desire, accumulated from years of loving and working together as partners, was ready to explode. They suddenly gasped, gave a final vigorous thrust, and shouted each other's name violently, bursting into climax. Blair came on the floor, and Jim within Blair.

Collapsing against each other, Jim pulled out and turned Blair back and laid back down on the floor. Snuggled against each other, they stayed that way for a few moments. After a period of time passed and finally able to think again, Jim realized something and was able to gasp out, "Blair... where...ah.. did this come from? Not talking about our feelings for each other." Jim was starting to become coherent, "I'm talking about the compulsion we just had to make love? God, it was so overwhelming!! I couldn't have stopped it if I tried." Realizing he was leaving the most important thing out, Jim swooped down, kissed the top of Blair's head tenderly, and gently vowed, "And by the way, I hope you know I love you!! That I'll love you forever."

Barely able to answer, Blair turned his head and looked up at Jim. He answered a soft, "Me, too. I love you more than life itself." Appraising Jim's beautifully, masculine profile, it took him a minutes to comprehend the question Jim had asked before. Finally, he turned his head to lay back down against Jim's chest and commented, "Jim, do you know, ever since we met Francie and her cats I've heard this voice seem to tell me things. I hear it, yet I know I'm hearing it only in my mind. Then, after we were given Gift, I actually heard the voice for real. It was a woman's voice, and it seemed to just....I don't know how to explain it...purr might be good description of the sound, but it's a lot more deeper than that. Like it's a sound that wasn't supposed to be heard. I thought I was losing my mind. That's another reason I didn't argue about going to bed last night like I usually do. I don't know what's going on!!" That last was said in a rush, as if he was afraid if he didn't just say it, he'd never say it at all.

Reaching a hand to turn Blair's face back to him, Jim looked into Blair's eyes and Blair into his, and in a spellbound moment, it occurred to them at the same time. They turned in the same direction and stared.

The cat was standing in the darkness a few feet away, eyes glowing with a copper light. Presenting an ethereal, other-world appearance, he looked like an imp sent from hell to cause mischief. Actually that was a good description of him.

Well, at least he'd achieved something, Gift silently congratulated himself. Dream sharing was a common ability all cats had. It gave them the ability to travel among their human's dream realities. It was the reason they made such wonderful familiars in the first place. Looking at the pair, he wondered just what reaction Jim was going to have to Blair's comments!

Uh...Oh.. Maybe I'd better hightail it out of here Before Gift could dodge and run to escape, Jim was up in heartbeat and caught him before he could disappear!!

"Okay, CAT, I don't know what is going on, but I have a strong suspicion that you're behind it, or your mistress is!! We're going to have answers and we're going to have them NOW!!" Nude, irritated, angry, Jim gave a foreboding look to him, as he tried to struggle his way out of Jim's arms. There was no way he was going to escape from paying for his shenanigans this time!!

"Jim, let the cat go! He probably doesn't have anything to do with this. Maybe we wanted each other so bad, all we needed was something unusual to act as a catalyst. After all, if I'd had any idea that you loved me like I love you, than we'd have been together long before this.

Huh, maybe I can get out of it now? The thought was hardly out, before Jim frustratingly shouted, "Chief, you know damn well this cat has something to do with this. I don't care how long it takes, I'm going to have answers even if I have to go to Francie's house right now!!!"

Oh, well, it was a thought!! Cutting in before Blair could defend him again It was all they needed to have their own stupidity separate them again, he calmly affirmed within their minds, (He's right, Wolf Guide.).

"Huh...What the...Gift?"

Jim was just looking at Gift, as if he'd known something was wrong all along. That smug expression on his face was enough to make him want to casually reach out and claw his face to shreds. He'd always hated his mistress when she thought only she was right. There was no living with her then, and from the looks of it, there'd be no living with it now. Oh, well, I guess that's the price we pay to have Partners. Sometimes, I wish Bastet had allowed me to stay a loner. Unfortunately, I learned my lesson too well.

(Will you two cut it out!! If you want answers, you'd better just accept that I am not only talking to you, but that if it hadn't been for me, you two fools would have taken forever before you'd have admitted what I bet everybody on earth knows. And that is that the two of you are not only head over heals in love with each other, but you're a destined set of partners.)

Frowning, Jim just stood there unconsciously petting him. Hating to have that felt too good to him..he told them, (You two, why don't we all sit down. Since I'm not going anywhere, and before long, you'll have a goddess thrown in for good measure, why don't you relax and listen to the answers that Jim threatened me that he wanted. Or is that more important than getting back to bed? After all, I'm sure you can find other things to do than harass this poor little ole cat!!"

The look of surprise on Jim's face and the typical irony and amusement running through what it looked like was becoming their house hold pet, was absolutely priceless. Not able to help himself, Blair threw himself into a fit a laughter. Going over to the couch, where Jim was already in front of, he collapsed, holding himself, with tears running down his face. It took him a few minutes to calm down and be able to stop laughing.

Jim look on all of this with total ignorance of everything that was going on around him even though he'd demanded it in the first place. In the future, he'd know better than to challenge a cat to answer questions. Nothing could dodge any question asked of them better than a cat. It didn't take him long to learn that lesson.

"OKAY!! Blair, if you could stop laughing maybe we can get some answers out of this cat!"

"Okay Big Guy, but he does have out number. God, Jim, you should have seen your face when Gift said that. It was priceless. I wish I'd had a camera. I'm sure Simon and rest of the Cascade P.D. would have paid any price to have seen that expression on your face!" He was chuckling with mirth even as he said it.

"Chief! If you want a mate anytime soon, I'd make sure to be careful what you say. After all, you might not get any..for a week or more if you keep it up." Even though he was exasperated with Blair as he said it, their was an underlying grin hidden just below his tone of voice, readily apparat to someone who knew him as well as Blair did.

"Perish the thought! Well, Gift, what now? I'm not sure where to even start the questions. Although...hey, what the heck are you doing here in the first place. And if you caused us to be together, well, all I can is why?" Even though he was nude, his hyperactivity levels were already starting to rise. He jumped up and started pacing, his mind already in researcher/professor mode. Recognizing that studious look, Jim groaned.

Gift, looking back and forth between Jim, who'd never stopped giving him a wonderful body massage, and Blair, who was starting to mutter words out loud to himself, was starting to wonder what was going on. Even though he was a cat, he still didn't know Blair!!

(What's wrong? Why'd you groan like that?)

"Well, since you're the one who started this whole mess, let me introduce you to Professor Sandburg. Questions and more questions are the only things he can think of. Heaven forbid any of us simpletons trying to stand in the way of knowledge. Superburg is here to leap buildings with a single book on how to make a catapult, discover a way to make his car run faster than a speeding train, which by the way I'd give anything to see, and find a way to make his brain fly faster than a speeding bullet, which it already does, by the way."

Even throwing Jim a dirty look didn't stop him from preparing himself to ask all these questions racing through his mind. The more he thought of one question, the more questions he thought of. Jim had shut up, preparing for the blast. There was nothing left to do except wait for the explosion and hope he survived. It should say something that at least he'd survived Sandburg for the last three years. And since they were now mates, it looked like he'd better just sit back and let the tide come in. It was inevitable.

"Gift, who's Francie, and why on earth would she give you to us when she so apparently didn't want to? And why did you have to bring us together? Why are you talking to us now and besides the fact that I recognize Bastet as being the ancient Egyptian goddess of cats, what does she have to do with all of this?"

The questions leaping out of him all in one breath, Gift finally understand just why Jim had groaned in the first place. He was about ready to himself. He just shook himself, jumped off of Jim's lap onto the table and started to groom himself. After a few minutes of smoothing down his fur, he felt he was composed enough to answer the questions.

(Well, as for who Francie is, she's a Teacher. Before you ask, she's the woman who's mind is very close to the other-world and who's respect for all cats and proven ability as a Partner, caused the goddess Bastet to give her the responsibility of teaching me how to love. I'd been severely abused in my first incarnation and decided that I would never seek a Partner in future incarnations because of it. Bastet decided to take a hand in my case and asked Francie to teach me how to trust and love a human. Francie, who had just lost her beloved Turtle to her ninth incarnation and wanted a true companion, took the responsibility on, even though she'd been warned that she may not see the results of her dedication until I'd moved on to another incarnation. But that didn't stop her. She continued to give love to me, and never let me down, even when I was so afraid of her when she got into one of those occasional rages she gets into from time to time. They're usually caused by her job or her reading about something in the newspaper.)

Shuddering, although he didn't have the facial muscles for expressions like humans did, Jim and Blair were still able to recognize the fact that he not only still feared those rages, but that remembering from when they'd first started in his first incarnation must have really been painful. When he got himself under control again, his composure settled until the memories would flare up again, Gift laid down on the table.

(Francie was wonderful. She played with me. Allowed me to be mischievous when I wanted to be and never got onto me for it. In fact, she was always amused. Whenever she was hurting or upset, she'd pick me up seeking companionship. At first, I couldn't let her touch me. I'd run away from her. Then one day, after I'd been there for a while, she came in one day after she'd ruined a sale for good. Her boss was on her because of it, and she thought she'd lost her job. I felt bad about her not having anyone to care for. That was the first time I let her pet me for companionship. I still didn't trust her, but at least I now knew that she occasionally needed me. It was enough until the ice broke one day. She'd come home one day in a rage. She'd read in the newspapers about the Jaws of Life Burglar, how he could use one of these power tools that save lives for destruction. In the last robbery, he'd finally killed someone shredding them piece by piece. Francie has great compassion for people, and she hates it when people are hurt because of the deranged in human society. Anyway, I was scared. So afraid of her, I wanted to die right then and there. I couldn't even run away, just cringed before her. She saw it and all of a sudden I felt this beautiful voice telling me that she wasn't mad at me and that even though she might get angry, she'd never direct that anger at me. She picked me up and held me for a long time that night.)

Passion filled his mind voice as Gift remembered the care she'd given him. The love and spirit of her daily presence. The wonder of knowing that here was a human who could be a Partner. That a human could finally be trusted to not hurt him. Even though he wasn't speaking, Jim and Blair felt the memories and the love in his voice. At a time like that, he was as beautiful within as his exquisite black kingly body was on the outside.

(That night, the burglar showed up at her house. He was planning to kill her. I couldn't let that happen. As scared as I was, I furious that this creature was going to hurt MY PARTNER! I jumped on his face and started to attack him. I was grateful that I was large for a cat and that I had the muscle to lay into his face. But as much as I tried to stop him, it wasn't enough. Francie was motionless and didn't know what to do. Finally, I saw another cat jump on him too. She started clawing him as well. I recognized Turtle from the Dream Plane, where all cats go in between and at the ends of all their incarnations. Turtle was Francie's Partner for eighteen years, before her ninth incarnation ended and she died. But even with her help, it wasn't enough. Bastet finally took a hand by pouring herself into Francie. She tore the man up into little pieces. Blood was everywhere in her apartment. Francie, although she was really grateful that Bastet had saved her and my life, she was frightened that with the human legal system being what it is, that I'd be put to sleep for attacking the man as well as that she'd probably be in jail too, especially not being able to answer all their questions about what went on.)

Stopping, Gift looked at his new and future Partners. They were enraptured by his storytelling. He was extremely smug for capturing his audience with his story. Of course, he also had the ulterior motive of wanting to make sure they didn't punish him for his mischief. After all, it wasn't to early to start training his humans.

(Francie was really worried. But all her concerns were about me. Not herself. She thought of me before she started worrying about herself. She asked Bastet to take me back because she wasn't sure when she'd be able to be there for me to be a partner or that they'd have me put to sleep. There was no way to explain the whole thing. Bastet told her that she'd never let Francie face all of this alone. That she was only testing her to see what her priorities were. She passed, with flying colors. She used her powers to make the body disappear and the apartment look as if it hadn't been touched. That was when Bastet gave Francie her life's mission. She asked Francie to start taking in cats and kittens that needed to learn how to love. Francie was really upset. While she loved the news that Turtle wasn't going to leave her, ever again, she'd still end up with more cats than she could handle. Bastet told her that only Turtle, who would serve as her familiar, myself, and her first assignment kitten would be a real cats. The new kitten she was in charge of would appear to be Turtle's kitten. She told Francie, to calm her worries, that the other cats would be ghosts and that only to her would they be real cats. Her home would be a temporary stay between incarnations while these cats learned about the best of humans. That's what she's been doing for the past eight years. As for why I was given to you, she already has a familiar in Turtle because of the fact she's already been through her nine incarnations. I can't be a familiar to her because I'm only in my second. So, Bastet decided the two of you needed to have a true Companion. It ended up being me, especially since it helped that my totem guide is the mother panther. That's why I'm solid black. All black cats are descended from the panther.)

" mean, that my spirit guide is behind Bastet's decision to give you to us?" Jim asked it without understanding that it Bastet who was in charge and not the panther.

(Jim, all cats, whether they're a wild cat or a domesticated cat, are under the spiritual leadership of Bastet. She rules over all cats. But while she is the mother of all house cats, she is also the mother of all panthers. It was she who gifted certain humans with the senses of the cats, when she needed representatives on earth. They needed to be fiercely independent, and capable enough to defend their people, with the strength to be able to do so. That ruled out her domesticated cat daughters.)

"Then why is the panther my spirit guide? I've always wondered that."

(Because the panther was the only cat that refused to volunteer to guide her new representatives.. Bastet doesn't like her children refusing her in any way. She decided that as punishment, the panther would forever be the Watcher's spirit guide. Talk about frustrating Lady Panther. She didn't want the job and was very vocal about it. But mother goddess knew that she was also one of the few who would do her job and had the common sense to make sure the guide and the watcher were together forever. And she was wild, unpredictable, and powerful enough to put a little spice to the pairing. Also, Bastet made the decision in conjunction with her sibling, Anubis, god of canines. Anubis assigned his wild son, the Wolf, as the Panther's Partner. The Wolf better characterized the personalities that the guide would need, especially the tenacity and stubbornness to not give up. Anubis is well known for guiding future prophets and teachers. That is exactly what the physical guide has to do.)

Jim was listening with the impression that all of what he was saying was a fairytale and wasn't real. The only thing that kept him from making sarcastic comments was the fact that you could hardly deny a talking cat. Blair was not only excited but elated to have all his questions answered. The only one he had left was.."That still doesn't explain why you're here."

(Well, first off, I was told to get you two together. Actually, that was already obvious to me. I would have done it regardless. But I'm also here to be your contact with the spiritual guides. When you need them, I can make sure and get the Panther and the Wolf to help me, when you need them. As for why I'm here with you? Well, I hope that you'll let me be your Partner. But that's not the only reason. I'm also here to help you. You'll be facing some extremely trying times. You'll find that you'll need extra help. There will be some cases that you just won't be able to solve with a little extra help. I'm small and I can slip in unnoticed in a lot of places where you need a spy or second body. Also, who'd take seriously that I'd be able to help you physically, as well. But you've seen what I can do, when Turtle and I protected our mistress.)

Blair laughed. He'd gentled into a sleepy, gelatinous mass that molded itself to his mate. Listening to the logic and the wonderful story, he was quite okay with it and thought it humorous that now they'd be one of those detectives like in the novels where their animals always helped solve the mysteries.

Jim was just, well he just sat there and accepted it all because it was all he could do. Normally he wouldn't have a cat for any reason at all and sure wouldn't like having to explain to Simon why a cat was traveling with him everywhere. He didn't like the thought of facing that now, but somehow, he knew that if he argued about having yet another weird, strange and different partner in his life he'd regret it for the rest of his days. Just like he accepted Blair's role in his life without any arguments, he knew that he wasn't going to regret Gift's role in his life. Thanks to Gift, he'd found the dearest love of his life. A partner he'd have through all his lifetimes. And because of Gift's big heart, he'd opened himself up to the possibilities of all the wonder in life. Now, he had yet another partner, one he was already starting to care about. And he didn't even like cats! Sometimes the irony in life was strange.

Jim and Blair were resting there and Gift was concerned that neither had said anything more. It was all he needed to be kicked out of the apartment after everything he'd already said and done. Worried, he waited for them to make up their minds. Humans were so slow sometimes.

"Well, Gift, it looks like we really did receive a wonderful gift indeed. You can stay. Tomorrow, we'll go out and get some necessary items if we're going to have a cat in the house. Also, if Blair has rules, so do you! No scratching the furniture. I catch you marking the territory with your spray, and off to the vet you go to be fixed. You don't touch any of the book shelves with knickknacks on it and you go for checkups every three months. Think you can follow those rules?"

Oh, No! Just what did I get myself into? Is it too late to change my mind? Bastet? BASTET? GET ME OUT OF HERE!!!

(Jim..master...Partner...), while he was saying that, he'd jumped down and started rubbing himself in and out between Jim's legs, in the universal language of cats when they want their way.

"You might as well stop, Gift. It won't work. I've lived here for three years and it has yet to work on me. And with anything else, I can wrap Jim around my finger. There's just something about this apartment that brings out the grouch in him. I've never been able to get out of any of the house rules, although I do have to admit that I hope I can talk him into letting me break rule number 77 where there is to be no Blair sex in this apartment. Of course, since he broke that rule too, I guess I don't have anything to worry about." Blair impish grin teasingly reflected the humor in his voice.

"Why, you little...It's bed time for you, darling!" With a laugh, he jumped up, picked up Blair in his arms, and carried him up the stairs. "Gift, I'd tell you to go away for a while, but since I know you can't go anywhere, could you please not interfere anymore or interrupt us for a while? I'm sure Blair and I can handle it from here!"

(Aye, aye, master. Gift here, ready and willing to report for duty.) Maybe it'll be okay after all. Although, I don't know, it doesn't make up for the fact of the upcoming vet visit. It's enough to make me want to disappear.

Upstairs, on the bed, too tired to engage in any strenuous activity, Blair, snuggled on top of Jim's body, looked up at him and asked, "Jim, do you know what we're getting ourselves into?"

Looking down into the bluest eyes he'd ever seen, deep enough that he could drown in them, and wondering how he got lucky enough to have the world in his arms, just stated, "Well, I don't know what we're headed for, but I'm sure It'll be one hell of a ride."

Sleep settled in the loft and all was silent, except for.....THE CAT!