Attention: This is an ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE. In reality, or as close to reality as Zen&nancy can get, Jim would never act this way. We love Jim!!!
This is a crossover. We're not sure where it came from, nancy doesn't even like crossovers. Zen kept pushing this outline for a Blair/Duncan piece and this monster of an ongoing work in progress is what happened. It doesn't seem to have an end in site. At first we weren't even going to post it, but now Zen really wants to share. We'd really appreciate some feedback here, so by all means, do tell us what you think. However, we really need you to read this one with the words 'alternate universe' firmly fixed in your mind. We don't think we've committed any character assassination (except that Jim isn't really a bigot), but if you do, let us know. We're tougher than we look.
That said, this story takes place somewhere roughly around the beginning of the yet to be fourth season of the Sentinel, and the never to happen seventh season of Highlander. BTW, Zen&nancy are in complete denial of the Archangel stuff and, so far, the entire sixth (crappy) season. So, none of that really matters here. :)
Story title and lyrics borrowed without permission
from Bob Marley (r.i.p.)
Three Little Birds
Don't worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
Don't worry about a thing
Every little thing is gonna be alright
Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Say, this is my message to you:
Don't worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
Don't worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
Blair lay awake, staring at the ceiling. A little light from a street lamp below filtered in the window. His bedroom was larger than the one he'd slept in for the past three years, and this one had two windows. A tape in the portable radio sitting on the floor played Tibetan bells, very quietly. He could do that now, fall asleep with music playing, there was no one here to be bothered by it.
Kicking his covers off with a dramatic sigh, Blair got out of bed. There was no point in lying awake, and if he wasn't going to sleep he might as well get some work done. Setting water to boil in the tea kettle on the stove, Blair walked around the one bedroom apartment, turning lights on as he went. When every light in the house was on, he went back to the kitchen to check the water. Not even steaming yet. He retraced his path through the rooms, checking each window and door to make sure that they were locked. This was a ritual he would perform every night, sometimes more than once.
There was no security here, not the kind he had lived with for the past four years. No one slept above him with a gun in the table at the side of his bed, ready to protect him. No one with hyper senses would hear him if he whispered for help. No, there was no security here at all, it was the most temporary place in the world, but it was very safe. Safe from best friends that expected you to risk your life for them every single day, and never listened when you talked. Very, very, safe from best friends that punched you in the face and broke your favorite clay statue.
The water finally boiled, and Blair poured it into a large ceramic mug. The scent of rose hips filled the small kitchen, making it seem less foreign a place. There was nothing here to tell anyone that Blair Sandburg lived here. No wall hangings, no masks, no statues or brass singing bowls or feathered pipes or divining rods. Just some halfway decent furniture he'd had delivered from a rental place, a dozen boxes stacked against the dining room wall, his laptop, and a futon on the floor of the bedroom. There wasn't even any mess. There was nothing to make a mess with, and he spent very little time here.
The past two months had been spent almost entirely on campus at Seacouver University, in his new office. There was a real desk and a comfortable couch and no one would ever dream of using his space as a storage room. There were some good things about being a real, bona fide Ph.D.. Living in the web of state university paperwork and faculty meetings and campus politics were the drawbacks, but he'd known that. Seacouver U was a big school, with a campus that stretched for a narrow mile along the west side of the city. From his office, on the fourth floor of the Anthro building, he could just see the haze of the water on the other side of the city.
He'd gotten lost every day for the first three weeks,
and the number of new names to remember were mind boggling. A hundred times
a day he thought of his Sentinel, wishing for his help in some little way.
Jim would never get lost trying to get from the library back to his three
o'clock ancient civilizations class in the lecture hall that wasn't on
the map they'd given him. Jim wouldn't let him miss Thursday's seven p.m.
faculty meeting because he was so emersed in grading a stack of papers
that it was nine thirty when he looked up, hoping he had a little more
time. Jim wouldn't have let him let it go when some asshole had smashed
the driver's side window of his car, either.
It had happened last Tuesday, Blair had walked the two long blocks across campus from his office to the faculty parking garage to find the pride flag sticker on his bumper blacked out and his window smashed. A brick lay on the front seat, a piece of paper wrapped around it with a rubber band. It had one word printed on it, "FAG". He'd stood there under the streetlight, shaking, expecting a gang of snarling skinheads to jump out of the shadows and beat the shit out of him at any moment, wishing feverently for Jim.
He'd gone home, went straight to his bedroom and closed
the door. Although there was no one to keep out here, in his six hundred
square foot apartment. He sat on the floor in the corner of the room, with
his knees drawn up and his arms wrapped around himself, his knuckles white
from the stress he put on his locked hands. Blair seethed with rage. He
was so angry, and there was no one and nothing to be angry at. He
wanted to hit Jim back, hit him so hard he went over backwards and skidded
across the hardwood floor, the way Blair had the night he'd made the 'big
mistake'. He wanted to find the guy who had smashed his window and kick
him in the balls, and push his face in the broken glass he'd had to sweep
gingerly off his seat. He wanted to yell, fight, break something, make
someone cry. Instead, he was the one who was crying, rocking back and forth
with his head on his knees, drawn up as small as possible in the corner
of the room.
That night had sucked, he couldn't remember a time when he had felt so bereft, alone and helpless. He hadn't even had the guts to report the crime, just spent money he didn't have on a new window. The nights he spent here were horrible. He paced and talked to the walls and stared out the windows, afraid of the silence. For the first month he'd been here, he'd spent more nights on the couch in his office than at his new apartment. He would set an alarm clock on his desk for six a.m., go home to shower and change and be back on campus for his first class.
He was trying to adjust, trying to accept the fact that this was his life now, and if he wanted it to get better he would have to make an effort to do something with it. Blair had moved around and relocated countless times in his life, but this time he just couldn't seem to settle in. Teaching full time was good, it took more time and concentration than he had in a day. That was exactly what he wanted. He had willingly taken on an absent professor's class schedule as well as his own, and this was his very first semester as a full time teacher. It was a crazy workload. He was juggling more classes than he could ever remember taking in a single semester, let alone trying to teach. It was better than having time to think though, anything was better than that. Blair felt like he had been on automatic pilot for the past two months, using only the parts of his brain that he needed, feeling as little as possible.
People saw him differently than they had in Cascade, he could tell. He was faculty here, of course, not just a teaching fellow, but it was a lot more than that. He didn't try to make a connection with every person he met here, didn't throw himself into conversations and offer bits of information. People treated him with more respect, and people touched him less. A lot less. No one put their hand against the small of his back when he walked, no one touched his arm to ask a question. Are you okay? Are you ready to go? Do we like this person? No one messed up his hair or called him stupid nicknames. In fact, in the past two months, no one had called him anything but "Dr. Sandburg" and "Professor". That sucked.
"Why did you have to be an asshole, Jim?" Blair questioned the empty room softly, knowing he wasn't going to get an answer. Why didn't really matter. There were a dozen more important questions that Blair asked himself everyday, but he didn't get the answers to those, either. Are you okay? Who pulls you out when you zone now? Are you being careful on the job? Do you miss me? Are you sorry? That last one was the only one that he really needed an answer to, Blair thought.
Sighing, he went into the dining room, dropping down
cross legged on the floor next to his laptop. "Thinking about him isn't
going to help." He muttered to himself through clenched teeth. There was
plenty of work waiting for him, he didn't have time to waste thinking about
what he couldn't change. Naomi had told him over and over again growing
up that you had to go forward, that you couldn't live in the past.
The sunset outside his window turned Blair's whole office red with its color. He was sitting at his desk, legs thrown over the arm of his chair, chewing absentmindedly on a pen. Three stacks of graded papers sat in neat piles in front of him on his desk, the last of the day's work. It was Friday, and he didn't have anything else that couldn't wait till tomorrow.
He was thinking about his friends in Cascade, and how much he missed going out to eat pizza and carouse with other grad students. He was trying to make friends here, but there were so many people and he seemed to be working for all of them. He wasn't used to the idea of really being faculty yet, although certainly everyone treated him that way. His assistant, a clean cut young man named Jason, even tried to call him 'sir'.
The weather wasn't any better here, Blair mused, the beginning of November was just as bitter as the ones in Cascade had been. The heat in his apartment wasn't very good, and he wasn't looking forward to going home tonight. Someone knocked on his open door.
"Doctor Sandburg? Can I bother you?"
"Sure Susan, what's up?" Susan Lancaster was one of the almost five hundred names in his grade books, but she was an easy one to remember. She was in three of the six classes he was teaching, his Monday morning lecture and two of the anthro labs.
"Can I talk to you for a minute? I know I didn't make an appointment, but I couldn't find your assistant this morning."
"It's okay Susan, you don't need an appointment, if the door's open, come on in."
"Well, I just wanted to ask you if you could go over some of the material I missed last week, if you have the time. I was going to get the notes from a friend of mine, but she can't find them."
Blair laughed. "I know that story. Okay, it was last Tuesday you missed right? Let me see if I can find my notes."
Susan Lancaster was a bright student, and took rapid notes, but it still took almost two hours to go over the three hour lecture she had missed. Blair didn't mind, he didn't have anything better to do, and while her company was restrained to polite 'thank yous' and rapid scratches of her pencil, it was better than being alone.
Susan left with a final apology for wasting his time, and closed the door behind her. The hall outside was quiet, everyone else on his floor seemed to leave early. Blair closed the venetian blinds of his office window, trying to think of something else to do that would put off going home. There was Monday's cultural anthro lecture to finish up; if he did it now then he wouldn't have to worry about it later. Then, of course, there were always the stacks of papers that he had to grade over the weekend. Turning on the lamp on his desk, Blair pulled out his notes, getting dragged back into the material he was so excited about teaching.
When he looked up again, it was almost midnight, but the lecture was finished and he only had a medium size mountain of papers to take home with him. Sometimes Blair felt like life was nothing more than a constant stream of ungraded papers to be read and evaluated. Taking on so many classes his first semester here had been lunacy, but so far he was keeping up with it. Of course, he did nothing else. Go to school, teach, grade, lecture, go home, grade, sleep. Weekends broke the pattern up a little. Then it was grade, do laundry, go grocery shopping, grade, sleep. Sooner or later, life was going to get better, he told himself resolutely.
He tried hard not to feel disappointed, not to compare his new position here to his life in Cascade. It was boring, being an ordinary person, instead of a cop's partner. It still felt weird to hear about crimes and situations on the news, instead of being there, tagging after Jim, cell phone in hand.
Stuffing the folders he needed into his backpack, Blair shrugged into his coat and grabbed his keys, locking the door behind him. The halls were empty, and he saw no one on his trip down the stairs and through the main hall to the doors. In Cascade, there had been more night classes and there was almost always someone around.
The wind was bitter once he got outside, shaking the trees and blowing newspapers across the steps. Blair pulled his scarf up until there was only a little slit for his eyes, stuffing his hands in his pockets for the long walk to the parking garage.
Halfway there, Blair realized someone was following him. He could hear their steps every few minutes, the sound carrying on the wind. He walked faster, and the steps behind him increased their pace, getting closer. Shit! Which way was safer, back to the deserted Anthro building or across the field to the garage and his car? Neither sounded like a place not to get mugged tonight. The second best option was to try to talk to them. He took a deep breath, trying to calm down. What would Jim want him to do? He didn't have a cell phone to call for help anymore. He could yell really loudly, but he was on a path that took you to the edge of the campus, and no one was around to hear him. He could run, but that sounded like the way to get attacked. Blair stopped abruptly, waiting for the person behind him to get a little closer before speaking,
"Look man, I've got twenty-three bucks, and it's all yours."
"We don't want your money, faggot."
Oh fuck. Two guys, not one, both of the buzz cut, combat boot variety. Now what was he going to do?
They didn't bother to say anything else, they just moved in on him, dragging him to the ground and kicking him. Blair twisted and grunted in pain as the steel toe of a combat boot connected with his ribs.
"Go back where you came from, faggot! We don't want you here!" One of them was holding him down, his arm locked under his chin, the other one was kicking him, and it really hurt. It hurt so much that he yelled at the top of his lungs. "Jiiim! Help! Please!"
"You screaming for your boyfriend, you little piece of shit?" Another blow landed squarely in his groin, and he doubled up in agony.
Blair looked up, there was a very tall, dark haired man standing over him. It took Blair a moment to realize that this very angry person wasn't yelling at him, but at the two guys who had attacked him.
"What are you gonna do about it, asshole?" One of Blair's assailants shouted.
The man smiled. "Try me."
Blair gasped for air, his face pressed to the cold concrete. If he could just stay very still, the pain would get manageable. Right now he all he wanted to do was breath. Carefully. It hurt so much. Why did they stop? Were they finished? He could hear yelling and the sounds of flesh connecting with flesh, but he couldn't make himself turn his head to look.
"Hey, can you look at me? I want to see how badly you're hurt. I'm Duncan MacLeod."
"It's okay, we'll get you an ambulance, you're going to be okay."
"No! Wait! Please, I'm okay. Just... got the wind knocked out of me, let me breath for a minute here."
Mr. MacLeod smiled."You're in shock, and you have to go to the hospital. What's your name?"
"Blair Sandburg, I'm a new professor here. I was walking to my car, I think I know who they were, somebody smashed my window last week. My car window, not my house. Who are you?"
"Slow down Blair, it's okay, everything's alright. My name is Duncan MacLeod, I'm a teacher here, too. I was on my way home from my last lecture, and I heard you calling for help. Who's Jim?"
"Jim's my partner, but not anymore." Mr. MacLeod nodded, sympathy in is eyes. Blair blushed. "No! I mean, not like that, he's a cop. A detective in Cascade."
"I see. Should we call him?"
"Okay, who should we call?" Duncan was trying to keep Blair calm.
"Nobody. Look, um, thank you. You just saved my life."
Mr. MacLeod grinned. "Well, you know, according to Chinese folklore, that makes me responsible for your welfare. How about we start by getting you to the hospital?"
Blair choked, squeezing his eyes shut. He had a blessed protector, but his protector didn't want him anymore. Jim thought the same way about him as the guys who had just beat the crap out of him did.
"How do you know that?" Blair asked curiously.
"I'm a history professor. Come on, Blair, let's see if you can stand up, okay?"
Blair tried to get up, getting almost halfway to his feet before curling up again with a sharp cry of pain.
"Ouch, I think you get to have your ribs taped. Here, let me help you." A strong arm came under his, and lifted him carefully to his feet.
"Are you sure you don't want an ambulance, Blair? The university will pay for it."
"No! I hate ambulances. They strap you down and it sucks."
Duncan chuckled, getting a better grip on Blair, who wasn't standing very well on his own. "Yeah, that's true, they do. I don't think you're going to make it across the field, though. Do you want me to carry you?"
"All the way to the car?"
"Yeah, unless you think you're up to walking, or change your mind about that ambulance."
"Okay, hang on then, I want you to stay as still as you can. I think it's pretty likely your ribs are bruised."
"My backpack... I need it!" Shock was starting to give way to belated panic.
"It's here Blair, it's okay, I've got it." Duncan swung the heavy pack onto his shoulder.
"Can you really carry me all the way to the garage?"
"I don't know, lets find out." Duncan smiled, scooping Blair up into his arms.
"I'm heavy. I weigh a hundred and fifty pounds, man."
"No way, I'd say about ten pounds less than that, at least."
Blair didn't say anything to that. Duncan decided he must be in an awful lot of pain, because he wrapped his arms around Duncan's neck, put his head down on his shoulder and didn't say another word all the way across the field. Duncan worried that maybe he should have called the young man an ambulance, in spite of his refusal. Something about Blair Sandburg stirred up all his clan protector instincts. He had the saddest, sweetest, puppy eyes Duncan had ever seen. He probably wasn't seriously hurt, and Duncan could get him to the hospital just as well as an ambulance. They were almost to the garage when Blair spoke, wheezing a little.
"How did you get them to stop?"
"I kicked one in the head, and the other one decided to leave."
Blair felt slightly ridiculous, letting a stranger carry him, but it was wonderful to feel like someone was going to take care of him. Even if it was only to give him a ride to the hospital.
"Almost there. How are you doing?"
"It hurts and I feel really stupid," Blair confessed sheepishly.
"Don't Blair, you weren't doing anything wrong."
"I should have been able to talk my way out of it."
"Sometimes that's not an option. Here's my car, you're not going to bleed on my seats are you?"
"I'll try not to." Blair sounded guilty already.
"I'm only kidding Blair, don't worry about it, okay?"
"Jim would kill me if I got blood on his truck."
"Well, then Jim is just way too anal."
"You don't know the half of it. He wouldn't even let me flush the toilet after ten o'clock at night."
Duncan gave his passenger a worried look. Blair wasn't making a lot of sense, maybe he was hurt worse than he thought.
"Blair, I want you to keep talking, okay? Don't go to sleep." Duncan started the T-bird, navigating out of the parking garage.
"Wow, nobody ever says that to me."
"Did you get hit in the head?"
"I don't think so. Hey, this is a really nice car."
"Thanks, she's a classic."
"I used to have a Corvair, but it got shot up in this armored car robbery."
"Really? Did you get enough to buy another one?" Duncan smiled at his passenger, who was curled on his side facing him.
"No, I wasn't robbing the truck, I was trying to help Jim. I did that time, too, he even said so."
Duncan smiled at Blair, thinking that this Jim guy should be the one taking care of him now, he was obviously the person Blair cared about most.
"Are you sure you don't want to call him? I could call for you, from the hospital. Cascade's not that far away, he could probably be here in a couple hours.
"NO!" Blair gasped in pain, he had tried to sit up, and now he curled up again, arms wrapped around his stomach. "He won't come. He doesn't want me around anymore."
"Are you sure that's how he feels?"
"Oh yeah, he made it real clear."
"Okay. How long have you been in Seacouver?"Duncan wanted to keep him talking, just in case Blair did have a concussion.
"Two months, I got the position here at the last minute. They needed somebody bad, and I had my doctorate, so I went for it. I was really lucky to get it at the last minute."
"So there's nobody here you should call?"
The way Blair said it made Duncan sorry he'd asked again. Don't worry Blair, I'll take care of you, he thought, and then almost laughed at himself. What was it about this boy that made him want to make sure Blair had someone to look after him?
"We're almost there. I'm going to let you out at the emergency entrance and find a place to put the car, okay?"
"You're going to stay with me?"
"Well, assuming they let you go, you're going to need a ride home, and probably help up the stairs, unless you live on the first floor."
"Uhhg, I hadn't even though about that. Fourth floor. That's really going to suck."
"Maybe you should stay with me for a couple of days. At least I have an elevator."
"Oh man, I can't do that. You don't even know me."
"Let's see what the doctors say, and worry about it later."
"Oh, okay. Are we there yet?"
"Almost. Do you think I should carry you in?"
"No, I'll be okay, look, you can pull me right up to the door."
Duncan leaned across Blair, unlocking his door for him. "Okay, here you go, kiddo, I'll be in in a minute."
"Okay, thanks." Blair pulled himself carefully out of the car.
"Wait Blair, what's your last name, again?"
Blair smiled, thinking that Duncan MacLeod knew more about him than anyone in Seacouver. "Sandburg."
End Part 1