Honor

Title: Honor
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: 9-1-1, Sentinel Fusion
Genre: Fusion, Contemporary, Future Fic, Sentinels and Guides Are Known
Pairing: Christopher Diaz/Denny Wilson, Evan Buckley/Eddie Diaz
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: pre-story Major Character Death. No beta.
Author Note: Chimney died before the start of the story. It’s briefly thought about, not discussed. AN2. I’m using the same general S&G worldbuilding that was introduced in the one-sentence prompt story, Choices. AN3: This will probably get a second edit in the near future. I’m finishing it very close to posting, and the editing has been minimal.
Timeline: Futurefic. Does not account for or mention any canon events after early season 3.
Challenge: Big Moxie, Q2, Fusions or The Sentinel
Word Count: 5,520
Summary: Christopher makes an unexpected trip home from college to surprise his fathers and his best friend.

***

February 2035

Christopher Diaz boarded the plane with the pre-board group, grateful after his long day to have the space to take his time getting down the jet bridge. After his hip surgery and rehab when he was sixteen, he’d been able to switch to just using a cane to help support his weaker left leg. As a result, he’d a had streak of resisting any accommodation because he “didn’t need it.” After being tripped more than once by oblivious businessmen, rushing down the jetway with their roller boards, as if the rush would get them there any faster, he’d gratefully gone back to pre-boarding.

He’d managed to score the last first class upgrade, so he happily settled into his comfy seat, eager for the ninety-minute flight from Oakland to Los Angeles to begin so it could be over with. It was one of the four first-row seats, which were kept on reserve for when sentinels had to travel to give them a little more space to block out the sensory overload that was a plane full of people. Available seats were released for upgrades a couple of hours before the flight.

His phone vibrated in his pocket and he dug it out, smiling at seeing Denny’s name on a new text message.

Denny: Hey. How’d the meeting with your advisor go today?

Chris: Everything went good. Still on track. What are you up to?

Denny: Uncle Bobby managed to wrangle everyone into one place so we’re having family dinner here in a bit. It’s been a minute since we got everyone in one spot. The missing piece is you. Wish you were here Chris.

Chris: Last year of school and then I’ll get to come to all the family stuff, Den.

Denny: You know I support you getting that phd but it feels like I’ve barely seen you in the last seven years. Miss you.

Chris: Miss you too. We’ll see each other soon. I promise.

Denny: I’ll hold you to that. Mom’s giving me the stinkface. I have to help with dinner prep. I’ll send pictures later of everyone stuffing their faces.

Chris was going to be there for that dinner, and it would be a surprise to everyone since it was February, and he wasn’t due home again until spring break—through even that was usually up in the air since his graduate work had consumed more than one spring break over the years.

He and Denny had been friends from the moment they met, but they’d settled into best friends around the time Chris was twelve. Denny was a year ahead in school, and Chris had really wanted to attend the same school and grade as Denny. Buck had been the one to support Chris in pushing himself academically to be able to advance a year. Unsurprisingly, under Karen’s and Buck’s respective influence, Denny and Chris were both accepted into one of the better STEM schools in LA for their high school years. But then Chris had been off to Berkeley while Denny had stayed local and gone to Cal Tech.

He was nearly vibrating with the excitement of springing this on his family and friends. Although, surprising his fathers was never an easy thing to do since they were the Alpha Primes for the entire Pacific West region—from the Nevada and Idaho line all the way to the Pacific Ocean, which certainly covered University of California Berkeley.

They generally did a good job of not acting like total helicopter parents, but the regional prides definitely knew the Pacific West Primes’ kid was in residence. When he’d first started at Berkeley when he was seventeen, the local prides had offered support, but Chris resisted getting too enmeshed with any pride but his own—his fathers’ intimate, personal pride back in LA.

The flight attendant came by and collected his jacket and cane just ahead of the other passengers beginning to stream onto the plane with typical traveler impatience. A female sentinel and guide pair boarded last along with a solo guide, which was a little weird. Sentinels and guides came in pairs—they were called at the same time and accepted their calling as a unit, and that was that. While they did carry on their own lives and interests, they didn’t usually travel separately.

The pair shot Chris a look; they obviously knew perfectly well who he was. He was never sure if the local prides had actually passed around his picture or if it was the whole way his fathers had come online and Christopher’s involvement in it that made him so recognizable.

The solo guide had the seat next to Chris, and she smiled at him. “Good evening.”

“Hey.” He gestured toward the window seat. “Do you want me to take the window so you can be closer to your friends?”

“No, that’s fine. I prefer the window.” She took the seat and then kept sending surreptitious glances his way. She was pretty close to him in age—maybe ten years older at most. She could know who he was from either LA or the Bay Area.

As the flight attendants began their pre-flight checks, he finally set his Kindle in his lap and looked directly at her. “Christopher Diaz. Nice to meet you.”

Her cheeks flushed and she held out a hand, a gesture only a guide could initiate. He shook her hand briefly. “Liz Oda. I’m, well, we are from the LA area.” She gestured to the bonded pair across the aisle. “Santa Monica pride to be specific.”

“Oh.” Santa Monica never failed to cause emotional ripples that he couldn’t fully articulate.

She cleared her throat. “Rick and I were called the day of the… Well, just like your, um…”

“Just like my parents. Yeah.” He hesitated. “You don’t have to hesitate to speak about it for my sake, you know. If it’s for your own benefit, that’s fine, but I’m okay.” He was okay, but it was also so very, very complicated.

She immediately relaxed. “I just have always wanted to meet you, and it’s so weird to be on the same plane. To run into you here in Oakland when we’re both actually from LA. Rick couldn’t get away from work, and I needed to tend to some family business, so my friends came with me.” She pointed to the bonded pair again, who were obviously paying attention to Chris and Liz. “This is Janelle and Elaine. They were also called that day.”

The pair waved.

“There were a lot of callings because of the wave,” Chris offered neutrally. Sentinels came online with an immediate imperative to help find and rescue survivors, with the added strength boosts sentinels had, they were invaluable in finding and saving so many who were trapped. And the guides, even without training, were a stabilizing influence on both their sentinels and the traumatized and grieving citizens.

Liz bit her lip. “Yeah, but none of the callings were more impactful than your parents.”

“I guess a hugely powerful alpha pair coming online right before the wave hit was sort of a psionic tsunami on its own.”

“No. Well, yes, of course Evan and Eddie Diaz are like a force of nature psionically speaking, but I meant…” She hesitated. “I meant because of your presence. Your parents were always so careful to shield you in the aftermath.”

The plane began taxiing, but Chris only paid it cursory attention. “What do you mean?”

“The singing,” one of the women across the aisle said, leaning forward. “I’m Janelle, by the way. Elle.” Something about her bearing told Chris she was the sentinel.

“You heard us singing?” Chris croaked.

Elle smiled. “We all did. I don’t know of a sentinel working that day who didn’t report that they were listening to Evan Buckley’s improvised Disney singalong. Pardon me, Evan Diaz. It seemed like this spot of joy in such bleak circumstances. And hearing you and other other survivors sing made it so much easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

“Oh.” Chris swallowed heavily. “I never knew.”

“It’s just so nice to meet you,” Liz said. “The sentinels may have heard you, but the guides felt you, you know? We could feel the love you had for Buck and your joy in helping him work by singing.”

Chris felt his cheeks warm. “He had to help people, but he saw me as his son, so he couldn’t leave me in an unsafe situation. He put me in this tree and told me to sing Disney songs so he’d know exactly where I was and how I was doing. I told him he had to sing back sometimes. I was eight, ya know? And I only knew Disney songs. I don’t know why the other people sang with me.”

“Because it helped them get through it,” Liz said softly. “It helped me. I couldn’t hear it, of course, but that feeling of hope that you all were radiating was like this bubble of energy that the guides were almost being fueled by. And the sentinels were using your singalong as an aural touchstone. It was just amazing. Eighteen years later, and I finally get to meet you and tell you how much you impacted me in one of the hardest moments of my life.”

“Oh.” Chris wasn’t even sure how to react. “No one’s ever said that before. Thank you.” He looked at her more closely. “Okay, were you called really young? Because you look like you’re barely older than me.”

She laughed. “I’m forty-three, so I’ll take the compliment since I think I’m at least fifteen years older than you.”

He steered the conversation toward the mundane, asking about their work and offering information about his graduate work at Berkeley. Then everyone went back to their own ruminations as drinks were served.

Christopher’s thoughts, however, were on that early fall day back in 2019. “We were standing on the pier,” he murmured, staring into his drink, but knowing he immediately had their attention. “Right by the water, looking out over the ocean. Then the psionic rift opened.” He glanced over and met Liz’s rapt gaze. “You know what it’s like. The sort of hushed awe when a calling happens.”

She nodded.

“This big white tiger stepped onto our plane of existence, and I just knew it was coming for Buck. Somehow, it felt like him. I’m not even sure I can explain it. Buck didn’t even know. He was just watching like everyone else, and I poked him and said, ‘Bucky, he’s here for you.’ Buck looked at me like I was crazy, but then the tiger was there, staring at him.

“I knew with every fiber of my being that wherever the 118 was at the that moment that the rift had opened there too and some big jungle cat was stalking my dad. It just had to be.” He smiled and shook his head. “They were always perfect for each other, but they had a really long period of idiocy, ya know? For a few minutes, I felt like the psionic plane was giving me the biggest gift—the kick in the pants those two needed to finally admit that they were meant for one another.”

Elle leaned closer. “I guess I never knew they weren’t together before that day.”

“Oh, they were together, they were just too clueless to figure it out. Buck was my other parent from the minute I met him. Anyway, Dad called and said he was being stared down by a big black jaguar, and Buck laughed and just said, ‘what do you say, Eds?’ The psionic plane rippled, and for a few seconds, they could see each other. Both on the phone, both standing there with their new spirit guides. Dad smiled at Buck, and they bonded through the psionic plane. Even mundanes felt the ripples of their bonding.”

Chris hesitated. “Then Buck turned his head like it was on a very slow swivel. He looked out to sea, and I remember thinking his eye looked all black, like they were hugely dilated. I was so happy to finally have my parents together. And then he whispered ‘tsunami.’”

***

Chris took the escalator down to baggage claim. Liz, Elle, and Elaine were just ahead of him. They’d talked the entire plane trip, and it had been good in a weird way to relive his memories of the day his fathers had come online. The day Chris had spent in a tree singing every Disney song he knew.

He could tell from their body language of the three women when they picked up on what Chris was already keenly aware of.

His father was waiting for him.

He wondered how distracted Elle had to be not to notice the Guide Prime of the Pacific West lurking around at the bottom of the escalators.

Eddie Diaz was leaning against the wall, outwardly appearing casual in jeans and a blue LAFD t-shirt. To Christopher’s eye, he hadn’t changed much in the years since they moved to Los Angeles. Sentinels and guides aged a little slower, so his father still looked in his early thirties. He was still a firefighter, still strong and lean, but he was so much more calm and secure in himself since bonding to Buck. He radiated an aura of calmness and peace that was alluring to everyone around him.

As soon as Chris was standing in front of his dad, he huffed dramatically. “I thought I’d at least be able to sneak into the city and surprise you guys.”

Eddie just shook his head, giving Chris a careful once over before yanking him into a hug. “It’s so damn good to see you, mijo.”

“Hi, Dad,” Chris whispered.

Eddie held him at arm’s length and gave him a mock-stern look. “There was never any way you were sneaking into my city without me knowing. But if you think your father didn’t know the second you left Oakland, you really don’t understand the nature of the psionic imprint he has on you.”

Chris did understand, though perhaps not the way a sentinel or guide would. Buck was the original helicopter parent of the psionic plane. How in tune he was with psionic energy as a sentinel sort of baffled the S&G community, but it had eventually been written off as an adaption because he’d come online under trauma with his “son” present. People had tried to discount that as the cause of Buck’s psionic connection to Chris since Chris wasn’t his biologically, but Buck had nearly punched someone over that, effectively putting an end to that discussion. Forever.

“Is Pops here too?” Chris asked eagerly.

“Since he could tell you were fine, he let me have this one. This one time.” Eddie smiled and cupped Chris’ cheek. “I’ve missed you, mijo. Welcome home.”

Chris grinned. “I’ve missed you too, Dad.”

***

“You going to tell me what’s going on?” Eddie asked as soon as they were on their way. He hadn’t even blinked at the number of bags Christopher had checked. He’d started to call for a porter to help them to the SUV, but the sentinel and guide trio Chris had traveled with had leapt at the opportunity to help. Chris had introduced everyone and they’d helped get the mountain of bags to the car.

Chris hesitated.

“Christopher?”

“I’m home for good,” Chris said softly. “I wanted to surprise you guys.”

“I’m definitely surprised. But what about school?”

“I’m done.”

The car bobbled in the lane briefly but then everything was smooth again. “Want to back up and tell me more? You’ve been cagey about your degree program, claiming it was a surprise and telling us you weren’t sure when you’d finish…”

“I figured you guys actually did know though. It’s not like you couldn’t have found out if you wanted.”

“Chris.” Eddie blew out a breath. “You wanted it to be a surprise, so we didn’t pry. But we absolutely had no idea you were going to be done early.”

“Well, I’d actually been shooting to be done at winter break, but Berkeley’s dissertation review process is so different compared to most universities’. Anyway, I just needed a couple more months.”

Eddie was silent for long moments. “So, you’re done? You’re coming home?”

“No, Dad. I’m not coming home, I am home. This is it. All the bags are all my personal stuff. Molly is going to send my books, but the place was rented furnished, so…”

The car suddenly pulled to the side of the road and the emergency flashers were put on.

“What the…?”

Then Eddie was yanking Chris into a hug. “I’m so glad.”

Hesitantly, Chris curled an arm around his father’s shoulders. “Dad?”

“It’s just been really hard having you so far away.” Eddie’s voice wavered, and Chris never had any idea his dad took it so hard having him in the Bay Area.

“You never said…”

“Of course not,” Eddie muttered, pulling away and wiping at his eyes. “I want the world for you, but it was really hard not wish the world was where I could keep an eye on you.”

“Buck too?”

“Buck was the worst. Pretty sure he’s listening now since my emotions went all over the place for a few seconds there.”

“That’s okay.” Chris took his father’s hand. “If he’s listening, let’s get it all out of the way, okay?”

Eddie blinked. “Is something wrong?”

“No. I just wanted to tell you about my degree.”

“Okay.”

“I know you guys are betting on some sort of degree that will take me to JPL.”

Eddie smiled. “True.”

“But it’s in structural engineering with an emphasis on disaster management. My dissertation subject was progressive collapse analysis, specifically comparing post-earthquake collapse and post-tsunami collapse.”

Eddie blinked, expression a mix of pride and then confusion. “What…?”

“Mayor Alonzo was very impressed with my dissertation, and he’s offered me a job with the City of Los Angeles. I can’t be a firefighter like my fathers, but I can be assigned to CA-TF1.”

Eyes wide, Eddie stared for long moments. “You’re being tasked to a FEMA team for SAR?”

“Yes. My day-to-day work will be in disaster preparedness, but when CA-TF1 is called up, I’ll be a technical specialist, likely doing structural evaluations.”

Eddie swallowed heavily. “But…you wanted to be an astronaut.”

“I wanted to be like my dads.” Chris took both of Eddie’s hands, squeezing tightly. “You two are my heroes, and it broke my heart as a kid when I realized I could never really be like you.”

“Mijo, no…”

“I know that the department would have accepted me to train as an engineer on a special waiver, but I found my own path that would take me as close to honoring your legacy as I could get. This honors both you, Buck, and my own history with this city.” Chris hesitated. “Please don’t be disappointed.”

Eddie choked. “Dios, no. Never.” Chris was pulled close again. “I’m so damn proud of you.” Eddie’s phone vibrated repeatedly and, with a sniffle, his dad pulled back to look at the text. “Apparently everyone is freaked out that Buck is crying, and we’re supposed to haul ass to Bobby’s house so Buck can hug you for the rest of the night.” The phone was shoved back in his pocked. “He’s proud of you too.”

“Well, all that could get uncomfortable, but I suppose I can endure.”

His dad cupped his face. “Never think I’m anything but proud of you, Christopher. You are the joy of my life.”

Chris smiled brightly.

***

Chris was barely out of the SUV before Buck was there with tears in his eyes, pulling Chris into a hug. Chris melted into the comfort and safety of Buck’s strong body. “Bucky,” he breathed against his father’s shoulder. Buck had always been his own personal superhero, and no one else got to call him Bucky. That was for Christopher, and him alone.

The years had seen more outward change in Buck. Being a sentinel made him a little harder, a little less easygoing, a little less ready to forgive. Being a tribal protector gave Buck a very rigid sense of boundaries that he didn’t allow just anyone to violate. Probably the only people who get even get close to that were Eddie and Chris and they never would.

They’d lost Howard Han to the tsunami; he’d died saving people, but the grief had been a tangible thing in the family for a long time. It had been brutal for Maddie Buckley, who spiraled a little in her grief. With the benefit of adult hindsight, Chris knew she’d tried to manage her grief by attempting to control Buck. But the newly online sentinel in charge of an entire huge region wasn’t having it.

At the time, all Chris could see was that she was hurting his Bucky, but with the benefit of more years and perspective, he knew it was a lot about grief and unresolved trauma. Ultimately, she’d moved back to the East Coast to make a life with old friends she felt safe around. The siblings had reconciled and had visits from time to time, but, to Christopher, it always felt like the tsunami had caused the loss of both Chimney and Maddie.

Whatever the real cause, Buck had been different with everyone after he came online. Everyone but Christopher and Eddie, that is. Buck had doubled down on the emotional and physical shelter he provided for Christopher, and Buck would always be Christopher’s calm in the storm. Dad was his touchstone, the emotional cornerstone of his entire life. Papa was his kindred spirit, his friend, his confidant, his safety when lost at sea.

Chris clung to Buck’s big, strong body, not eager at all to let go.

Buck pressed a kiss to his hair. “I’ve missed you so damn much. I was trying not to be an overbearing ass, but every damn phone call, I had to fight with myself not to beg you to transfer to a local school.”

“I’m sorry,” Chris murmured so softly that only Buck would ever hear.

“Never be sorry, Superman. I wanted you to find your sun in life, the thing that invigorates you and makes you want to get up in the morning. Your journey is your own. I never resented it. I’m just so glad you’re home.” He pulled back, unashamed of his tears and smiled at Chris. “And I’m so proud. I can’t believe what you’ve pulled off.”

“I want to honor my fathers with my life’s work.”

“I want you to be happy.”

“That was never in doubt with you two, Papa. And this path makes me happy.”

“Okay, then.”

Eddie sidled up next to Buck and curled his arm around Buck’s waist, an obvious cue for Buck to finally let Christopher go. Chris could easily stay in the safety of his parents embrace forever, but he knew he had more people to face.

“Does everyone already know?”

Buck scoffed. “And ruin your surprise? Hell no. They know you’re here, however. I had a hell of a time getting to be out here first. Denny his chomping at the bit. I glared at him and declared parental rights. Also, I was your first BFF, and that little upstart better remember that.”

Chris laughed and nudged Buck’s shoulder. “You’re irreplaceable, Pops. But Denny will always be my best friend in my age group, so dial down the territorial imperative and let me say hi to my bestie.”

Buck huffed. “Yeah, all right. Want me to send him out or do you want to talk to everyone at once?”

“Denny first, if that’s all right…?”

Eddie squeezed his shoulder. “Whatever you want.”

***

Denny leaned against the SUV, shoulder-to-shoulder with Chris. Well, shoulder-to-arm. Chris had hit a respectable 5’11, close to his dad’s height, but Denny had just kept going and going, topping out at 6’5.

“I can’t believe you managed to keep this a secret, even from me.”

“You see my dads all the time, Den. And you’re one of the worst secret keepers I know.”

Denny laughed. “Yeah, Mom always says I remind her of Chimney with my inability to keep a secret. At least that makes her smile now. For years, she always got this sad look.”

“I don’t think grief ever really goes away. The tsunami took a lot from all of us.” Chris gestured expansively. “I mean the whole of LA. There are some theories that it takes decades for the psionic wounds of that kind of traumatic loss to heal.”

Denny looked more directly at him. “Is that why the career path? Does it feel like a calling?”

“Maybe a little. It could be that my research and eventual training can help save people in the next disaster or perhaps the one after that. Or maybe it’s just me being as close as I can get to being like my fathers.” He nudged Denny’s shoulder. “It doesn’t have to be deep.”

“Sounds pretty deep no matter what.”

Chris shrugged. “Have you decided what you’re going to do with that shiny engineering degree of yours?” Denny had been dithering since he got his masters in mechanical engineering a couple of years ago.

“Not yet. None of the internships have felt right to me so far. I don’t have your clarity of purpose, I guess.”

Chris frowned. “That felt like you were holding something back.”

Denny’s face scrunched up a little in a way that reminded Chris of when they were ten. “I swear, you’re nearly psychic sometimes.” Denny blew out a breath. “Honestly? I’ve been waiting for you.”

“Wait. What?” Chris stared in astonishment.

“I haven’t liked all these years living so far apart. You’re my—” Denny hesitated. “We’re best friends, Chris, and it’s not as great without you around. If you weren’t going to come back to LA, I planned to join you wherever you settled. Everyone thought you were headed for JPL, so I’ve been holding on to that internship even though…”

“Even though it doesn’t thrill you?”

Denny’s smile was a little…sad. “Working with you would thrill me.”

Chris turned so they were facing one another. “Den? What’s going on? You’re holding something back.”

“It’s nothing. I’m just glad you’re back.” Denny started to push off the SUV, but Chris latched onto his arm.

“Whoa. What’s the deal? Come on. Please talk to me.” When Denny still seemed resistant, Chris added, “We always said we could tell each other anything.”

Denny looked away, blowing out a heavy breath. “Come on, Chris. Really?”

“Really what?”

“You really haven’t figured out how I feel? After all this time, texts, FaceTime… Really, man?”

Chris blinked.

“Oh my god, you really are fucking clueless. Buck said you were oblivious, and that I was going to have to spell it out. But I really thought I’d been obvious.”

“What in the world are you saying?” Chris refused to get his hopes up. Yes, he really did need it spelled out for him. Please spell it out, Denny.

“Jumping Jesus on a cracker, Christopher Javier. Your cluelessness is only exceeded by your intelligence.”

“Your mother would yell at you for that turn of phrase.”

Denny’s hand settled over Christopher’s mouth. “I know. That’s about ninety percent of why I started using it.” Denny’s hand slid around to cup Christopher’s cheek as he rested their foreheads together. “God, Chris, I’ve been wanting to kiss you since you were fifteen. You really don’t know?”

Oh.” Chris took in a shuddery breath, reaching blindly for Denny’s shoulders. “I had no idea. I—” His hands fisted in the material. “I was afraid to hope.”

Denny’s mouth settled over Christopher’s, and Chris fell into the best first kiss of his life. It was excitement and electricity, but also comfort and home. It was everything his best friend had always represented to him.

His best friend who would become his partner.

Maybe he was going to get to have more of the wonderful things his fathers had than he could have ever dreamed. And maybe he really was just like Buck the way everyone said… Because he’d been in love with his best friend and was convinced it wasn’t reciprocated.

It was his dad who finally pulled them apart.

“Mijo, not that I want to be here for this, but I lost the Rochambeau with Buck—again. Never Rochambeau with a sentinel, I swear they cheat. Anyway, you’re broadcasting a lot of happiness and, um, other things, kiddo. Rein it in. Even the mundanes are feeling it.”

His dad was looking up at the night sky, and Christopher couldn’t help but laugh. He was latent and sensitive, but he’d learned to moderate his emotional output years ago. Some moments were just too big to be contained.

He rested his head on Denny’s chest. “Sorry, Dad.”

“Yeah, you sure feel sorry. Come join the party. Everyone else is eager to say hi. Abuela especially nearly rolled over us to come out here.” Eddie turned on his heel and headed for the side gate.

***

Chris and Denny did linger for a few more minutes, giving Chris time to rein in the sheer joy and also to revel in the sudden shift in his relationship with his…Denny. Then Denny curled an arm around his waist and led him toward the side gate as well, the same path his fathers had taken. Chris wasn’t even sure where his cane was at this point—probably in the SUV—but he’d take Denny’s arm around him any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The relationship shift was surreal but everything he’d secretly longed for.

“We’re going to cut out of here early, right?” Chris murmured as they cleared the gate to happy shouts of hello from his family.

“Damn straight.”

Abuela was in a wheelchair these days from another hip injury, but she was the first person his eyes landed on, and he smiled broadly. She was lit up like the sun, arms held out for him.

“Or maybe not,” Denny said on a laugh. “Let’s go hug Isabel. I think she’s missed you most of all.”

Before they could take even two steps, there was what felt like a vibration in the air, and then the very fabric of reality seemed to tear open right in front of them, revealing an ancient junglescape as far as the eye could see. So few people ever got to see into the psionic plane, but Christopher was getting to see it twice. The honor afforded to him was humbling.

It took him stupidly long to realize that the two big cats prowling out of the jungle through the psionic rift were heading right for him and Denny.

Denny sucked in a sharp breath as the cheetah prowled up to him, peering at him with intense, assessing golden eyes.

The black jaguar prowling up to Christopher, however, had him in tears for more than one reason. He’d never thought he’d be called to be a guide. It’d been his secret wish since he was eight, but he’d never believed it would happen. It happened to so few, and there was not reason to think he’d be called.

But the jaguar specifically… People always talked about how alike Buck and Chris were in personality, and it was observably true. But it was Buck who’d said to Chris that, where it mattered, in Christopher’s heart and soul, Chris was exactly like Eddie. And the black jaguar, a reflection of his own soul, staring at him, waiting for him to choose whether to be a guide or not, was proof that Buck was, once again, right in his assessments of all things Diaz.

Everyone in the back yard had gone silent, respectful of the ancient rite of choosing happening once again in their small family.

Chris turned to face Denny. “Well, what say you? Shall we embark on this adventure together?”

Denny laughed. “Hell yeah.” He pressed a brief kiss to Christopher’s lips. “I choose you, Guide. Always.”

“Sentinel,” Christopher breathed out, as his awareness of the world around him began to expand.

The End

47 Comments:

  1. Utterly beautiful.

  2. Thank you.
    This is so amazing and beautiful. Love Chris’ sneaky surprise and how overwhelmed Eddie and Buck are by it. Love the conversation about the singing-wow, just wow. Love Chris and Denny and their choosing. I have happy tears.
    Thank you

  3. This is fantastic! I love every word, and the whole idea of it.

  4. Awww, this was beautiful. And definitely cheered me up during a rough time.

  5. Jilly. I am ever in awe of your ability to make me cry with a few words. This was beautiful.

  6. Great story. Nice to see Chris and Denny all grown up.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. That was lovely, thank you.

  8. Well, here I sit, tearing up over my breakfast. The whole story is adorable! But especially the thing about everyone taking strength from the Disney singalong. Thank you!

  9. This is so wonderful! I love how you create the connections between Denny and Chris, and Chris telling the story of his fathers is just beautiful!!

  10. Awwww. This is so bloody adorable, Jilly. I love the idea that being a sentinel or guide is a conscious choice to be made aaaaaand… we got the disney songs in the tree. YAY! Plus the end where Chris’ spirit animal is a reflection of Eddie’s and all the implications thereof – that’s just … *chef’s kiss*

  11. Jilly James! How *dare* you make me cry at 5:44AM! This is excellent!

  12. Awesome story

  13. ScarsLikeVelvet

    Oh be still my heart … this was amazing and so, so lovely.
    This really made my day. Thank you so, so much for sharing.
    Christopher alone is always a pleasure, but him making new friends on the plane plus Eddie waiting for him at the airport was lovely. Him honouring both Buck and Eddie because they are his heroes? A wonderful idea. And him and Denny becoming lovers right before the psionic plane chooses them … that was the most amazing thing.
    Once again, I fell in love with your words.

  14. I love this so much! I’m glad that he has the same type of spirit animal as his dad though I really thought it would be a unicorn.

  15. Awwwww I really love this. What a lovely thing to wake up to with my 1st cup of tea.

  16. Reading this waiting for someone to call to do some work in my house. Now I am crying, so they will probably turn up in the next few minutes! Gorgeous story, thanks!

  17. Very good story

  18. This is so delightfully lovely. I’m all aflutter over it. Chris deserves all the happiness!

    The bit about him being like Eddie in his heart and soul had the tears going. The love in the family, between them all just seems to pour from the fic, even where it touches on the traumatic events.

    This was just amazingly wonderful.
    Thank you so much!

  19. that was beautiful. thank you!

  20. Wow, this was a time hop and a pairing I didn’t even know I needed. Your Chris is always amazing, Jilly! I love helicopter dad Buck so much. And the singing!! Wonderful story, thanks so much for sharing.

  21. Why are you always making me cry?!? This was beautiful and sweet in so many ways. Getting a Christopher pov always feels like a treat and I really enjoyed seeing an older Chris reflect on his past. I loved this idea of the S&G choosing before and was so happy to see it again. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  22. SO MUCH LOVE. Thank you for this, wow! You’re one of the only authors who can write future!fic with any degree of believability for me; the way you write the characters is still so true to them, even years later. Thank you so much for sharing!! xxx

  23. I love it!

  24. I had no idea I wanted this until I started reading it, you once again entertained me beyond words. This was heartfelt and made me want it to be canon, lol. Molto bellissima! **chef’s kiss*

  25. I just full on started ugly crying because this is just so beautiful and perfect. Both the dogs and the husband came to check on me. You’re amazing, and I love the journeys you share.

  26. Ohhh…..so beautiful. *sigh* tearing up.

  27. That was lovely. Thank you 😀

  28. Sonia Costoya Rodriguez

    Beautiful!!!!

  29. Well. I’m utterly fucking charmed.

  30. That was beautiful

  31. This was absolutely wonderful. I loved everything about it, and I am here for this pairing. It was so sweet! I also adore the casting of adult Chris and Denny. Thanks for sharing this with us!

  32. Eeeee. This was just…so damn good. I love your casting for grown up Christopher and Denny. And the whole damn story was the equivalent of a long hug from someone you love, or being wrapped in a blanket and given a cup of hot chocolate. So much hope and love in this story. Thank you for sharing it with us. <3 <3 <3

  33. *flailing*.

    That was fabulous, and now I’m off to work with a huge grin on my face.

  34. That was utterly lovely. So sweet and perfect & Chris is still a wonderful (taller) unicorn!

  35. Oh, wow. So beautiful.

  36. Perfect!

  37. Simply lovely! I have the biggest smile on my face. Thank for such a delightful story.

  38. ❤️❤️❤️

  39. This was fantastic and I loved every word. I love your casting for Chris and Denny as adults. This was a pairing I hadn’t thought of, but makes so much sense when I read your lovely story. Buck and Eddie as helicopter dads is adorable and I have no problem at all seeing that. The singing was beautiful but heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing!

  40. Wonderful story. Thank you.

  41. By all things Holy and BEAUTIFUL you are a continual source of happy tears. <3 <3 <3

  42. In the name of all things holy and beautiful, you are a constant source of happy tears! <3 <3 <3

  43. Absolutely wonderful

  44. I just love this. Grown up Chris is awesome and I’m in love with the pairing of Chris/Denny.

  45. Aww, yay! I just listened to the podcast episode where you and Keira plotted Buck coming online as a sentinel; I love how you used all of that as background for this sweet story! Thanks for writing and sharing!

  46. Such a feel good story! I loved this! Thank you!

  47. Wonderful Story. Thank you for sharing

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