We don't own any of these guys. Rysher, Pet Fly, UPN and a bunch of other people who make a lot more money than we do get to claim them. Please don't pick on us, it's all in good fun.

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

Part 11

By Zen&nancy


Blair lay awake in bed, listening to the sound of the rain against his window. He couldn't sleep, although it had been a rough day at school and he was exhausted. He'd lost count of the number of people he'd lied to, and the stories he'd made up to explain his lip, which was still swollen and ugly. Duncan lay next to him, asleep, his long legs curled up on Blair's futon bed. There was a pit in his stomach, a vague, bad feeling that he was trying to ignore. Jim hadn't called. All evening he'd been tense, waiting for the phone to ring. He wondered if Simon had talked to him, and what Jim's reaction was. Blair hoped that he hadn't lost his temper with Simon, that could be suicidal.

Sighing heavily, Blair got out of bed. Pulling the covers back up over his sleeping lover, Blair padded softly to the living room to sit on the couch. The room was dark, and Blair didn't bother to turn the light on. He sat staring out the dark window for a long time. Finally, he got up, going to the kitchen for a glass of water. Without letting himself think about it, Blair picked up the phone and dialed. His back against the counter, he slid slowly to the floor. It rang three, then four times. The answering machine picked up.

"You have reached the residence of Detective Jim Ellison of the Cascade P.D., please leave me a short message including your name and phone number and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."

Blair sighed softly into the phone, "Jim, it's Blair."

He waited, listening to the sound of his heart pounding. He wondered if Jim could hear it, too. Probably.

"Jim, come on man, I know you can hear me, this is stupid. Pick up the phone. Please, Jim?"

He paused, trying to picture Jim rolling out of bed and going down the stairs to the cordless lying on the counter in the kitchen. When he had imagined the movement twice, he tried again.

"Please, Jim? Talk to me? Come on buddy, I'm really worried. Jim, please, just talk to me for a minute, okay? Simon called yesterday, he says you've been drinking. That's not good. Jim, please don't... Come on man, just pick up the phone," without realizing it, Blair had slipped into his 'Guide voice' his words all one single, soothing note. "You wanted to talk to me, I'm here Jim, I'm right here, just pick up the phone..."

Blair sighed, wondering if Jim could be out this late, and what he would think of this message when he got it. He couldn't be on stake out, or called out of bed to a crime scene, Simon had said he was on desk duty. Maybe he was passed out cold, maybe he'd gotten drunk alone and zoned... Oh God, what if he was too late?

"Jim! Look, I'm not going to go away until you pick up the phone, I'll just keep calling back, man, I mean it. Jim!"

Suddenly there was a voice on the other end, "Sandburg, leave me the hell alone."

He sounded like shit. "Jim..."

"I said leave me the hell alone!"

The phone slammed in his ear, and Blair waited until the dial tone came back, making him jump, before he put the receiver back on it's cradle. "Well, you handled that really well, Blair, nice job, you really helped him. Some Guide you are." Blair talked to himself, leaning back against the wall. A mouse scuttled across the floor, disappearing behind the refrigerator.

"Oh man, that settles it, you guys can have it. I am out of here."

Blair shuffled miserably back to bed. He crawled in carefully, spooning behind Duncan's warm body.

"Mmm, you okay?" Duncan mumbled, turning over without really waking up. His arms pulled Blair close, resettling with his lover snuggled against his chest.

Blair sighed heavily, "Yeah, I'm okay," he hesitated a moment, hoping Duncan's offer still stood. "Can I move in with you?"

Duncan opened his eyes, his brain catching up with the words that had registered in his half awake mind, "Of course you can, Caro. I want you there. Are you sure?"

"There's mice in the kitchen. I hate this place. I want out of here, man, no more."

"No more what?" Duncan's voice was gravely with sleep, but his eyes were wide awake now, looking into Blair's with love and concern.

"No more Jim?" Duncan guessed softly, stroking Blair's hair.

"Did you hear?"

"Mmm, no," Duncan sat up in bed, leaning back against the cold wall and pulling Blair back against his chest. The cold woke him up, clearing the last of the sleepiness from his brain. "Hear what? Did he call?" Duncan glanced at the clock on the bedside table. It was two forty in the morning.

"No, I called him. He told me to leave him alone," Blair whispered, feeling the angry, hurt words all over again.

"I'm sorry, Blair."

"Me too. Man, why does he have to be so thickheaded? I'm starting to think there's just no way I'm going to be able to help him, Duncan. I mean, every time I talk to him I fuck it up..."

"Hey, now where did that come from?" Blair's head fell forward as he stared down at his hands. "No, look at me, kiddo," Duncan raised Blair's face with his hand. "How is it your fault if he won't talk to you? If the man refuses your help, there's nothing you can do."

"I have to, Duncan. If I don't, he's going to lose his badge!"

"Isn't that still his decision to make?"

Blair sighed heavily, shaking his head, "Yeah, but it's still all my fault this happened in the first place."

"No, Caro, it's not. I think maybe you're simplifying this a little too much. Four months ago you expressed your feelings for him, and he kicked you out. That doesn't make you responsible for what happened Saturday, or what he's doing now."

"Doesn't it? If I had kept my hands to myself, and just left, which is what I should have done in the first place when I first realized I was falling in love with him... I can't help thinking all of this bullshit could have been avoided."

"You can't control fate, Blair. I know it's your instinct to protect him, to watch over him, but you may have to face the fact that he won't let you."

"I know," Blair sighed heavily, leaning back against his lover. "I'm sorry I woke you up. You have an early class tomorrow, too."

"So do you."

"Yeah, but sleep dep's a way of life for me, man. You're going to be tired."

"It's okay, it doesn't matter. I can always go back to the loft and take a nap before the night class at the dojo."

"In that case..." Blair murmured suggestively, rolling over in Duncan's arms to kiss him.

"Are you sure you want to? I know you're upset, kiddo..."

Blair shook his head, flattening himself across Duncan's chest. "No, not here, man, not with you. And besides, I always want to. If I'm awake, I'm horny."

"One of the many things I love about you, Caro," Duncan laughed, as Blair pulled his arms up over his head, holding his wrists. There was a kind of joyful abandon that came with loving Blair, and Duncan could never get enough of it, or him.

"Really? Does that mean I can have my way with you?" Blair teased, leaning down to bite Duncan's ear.

"Oh, absolutely," Duncan's voice was low and seductive.

"Mmm, all mine," Blair told him, his hands sliding slowly down Duncan's muscled arms and across his chest. He teased the flat nipples, brushing his palms over them in light circles until they hardened under his touch.

"For the taking," Duncan agreed, watching Blair on top of him, a wide grin on his face. Life with Blair was a series of never-ending surprises, especially in bed.

"Oh, man, what an invitation. I don't think I can resist."

Blair's tongue flicked out across the taut nipple, drawing a gasp from his lover. His hands roamed over Duncan's body, cataloging his response. He was flushed, already hard and restless beneath him. He still marveled at the perfect symmetry of Duncan's body, and never tired of memorizing it by touch.

"No, you have to be patient," Blair teased, running two fingers lightly up the length of his lover's hard cock.

"For how long?" Duncan gasped, shuddering when Blair touched him.

"For as long as I want. That was the deal, no?"

Blair's pointed tongue traced circles around the other nipple, blowing lightly across the hard flesh.

"I made a deal?" Duncan moaned, distracted by Blair's teasing tongue.

"Mmm, I remember it distinctly, you said 'for the taking'. I'm taking."

"God help me," Duncan groaned, laughing at his own lack of control. With Blair he rarely felt the need for control, though. Blair could take as much of him as he wanted, there was no part of him that Blair didn't already have.

Blair moved over him, rubbing himself full length against Duncan. His weight braced on his elbows, Blair slid sensuously down his lover's body, until their feet brushed and he was eye level with the center of Duncan's chest. Pausing briefly to suck a nipple into his mouth, he pulled himself back up. He held himself off of Duncan so that their skin barely brushed, knowing that the light touch of his body sliding over his lover's hard cock would only inflame him further.

Capturing Duncan's lips, Blair relaxed against him, Duncan's hard cock nestling between his thighs, his own erection rubbing enticingly against Duncan's hard stomach. His tongue burrowed into Duncan's mouth, joining with his lover in a slow dual. Blair kissed him for a long time, holding Duncan down with the weight of his body.

Duncan began to move his hips, pushing his cock between Blair's thighs. Blair squeezed his legs together, trapping him in mid thrust.

"Uh-uh, no deal, handsome," he scolded, nipping the full lower lip. "I want your mouth, and that's all you get, for now. Kiss me," Blair demanded, covering Duncan's swollen lips with his own once more.

Duncan groaned, his hands digging into the round cheeks of his lover's ass as Blair's tongue thrust into his mouth. Blair held him trapped with his strong legs, as his mouth was invaded and plundered. Blair's small mouth sucked and nipped hungrily at his, his tongue thrusting hard, taunting him with the suggestive rhythm.

"Tease," Duncan groaned accusingly, trying to move against the hard cock pressed against his middle, hoping to excite his partner to further action. Blair laughed, moving to Duncan's ear.

"No, you just have to be patient," Blair whispered hotly, his tongue flicking over the outer edge of Duncan's ear. Teasing Duncan was fun, but it wasn't the reason for Blair's slow seduction. He could never get enough of the feel of Duncan under him, wanting him. It was still so intoxicating to have this magnificent man, and know that he gave himself to Blair body and soul.

Duncan closed his eyes, shivering when his lover sucked his earlobe into his mouth, biting playfully. Blair was moving again, sliding slowly down to press a hot kiss to Duncan's hip, his curls brushing the hard, seeping erection he was pretending to ignore. He sucked hard, leaving a mark on his lover's skin that he knew would only last a moment. Turning his face to breath over the rigid flesh, Blair let his fingertips graze his lover's cock lightly.

"Have I tortured you enough?"

"Yes," Duncan hissed, shuddering as Blair's exhaled breath caressed him, taunting him with the thought of his lover's tongue.

"Mmm, no, I don't think so, not quite," Blair whispered, sliding back up Duncan's hard body.

Blair's fingertips dragged up the length of Duncan's cock once more, continuing up his chest to roll a hard nipple back and forth.

"Blair," Duncan growled warningly, groaning in pleasure and frustration.

Blair's own cock was screaming at him to hurry up, to take what was so willingly offered before him, as his vision burned the image of Duncan writhing beneath him into his memory.

"Ah, my warrior, I'm not afraid of you. You're all bark and no bite."

Blair's giggle turned into a moan as Duncan's teeth closed over his throat, contradicting him.

"Okay, I could see it your way," Blair moaned, losing the hold he'd had on his desire as Duncan's teeth moved possessively over his throat.

Squirming out of his lover's arms Blair reached for the tube of lubricant next to his bed. Straddling Duncan's hips he rubbed himself against his lover's cock for a few exquisite minutes, letting the fire build until he knew he had to stop or lose control of the hard, panting body beneath him completely.

Just when he could take no more of Blair's slow, tantalizing friction, and Duncan's hands closed over the narrow hips to roll them over, Blair's slick hand wrapped around the head of his cock. Squeezing gently, Blair's small hand pushed down his length, spreading the cold lube over his burning flesh. When he was confident that the hard cock was thoroughly lubed, and that Duncan could take no more, Blair sat back on his heels, reaching behind him to grasp his prize.

"Ah, God, Caro...now, please, Blair..." Duncan growled as Blair settled over him, lining Duncan's head up to the entrance to his body.

"Uhh, oh yeah..." Blair moaned, pushing back hard, until the tip of his lover's cock was inside him.

Duncan's hands reached for him, caressing his cock and balls as Blair sank down, impaling himself on the hard, slick intruder. When Duncan was completely sheathed inside him, Blair leaned back, arching his back and grinding his hips, pushing Duncan even deeper inside him.

Duncan moaned his lover's name, his hand pumping Blair's pulsing cock. Blair's arms bent behind him to grasp his ankles, bracing his weight and his center of gravity, angling the cock inside him against his prostate.

"Aahh, Duncan... you feel so good... right there," Blair rocked his hips, moving up and down slowly on his lover's straining erection. Duncan's hand slowed to match his pace, his thumb circling over the swollen head, squeezing gently.

"I love you," Duncan groaned in ecstasy, thrusting up into the tight heat that surrounded him. Just the sight of Blair like this, body taut and glistening with sweat, his head thrown back and his hair hanging almost to the bed, was almost too much.

Blair's eyes were closed, his breath coming in gasps as he moved up and down, losing himself completely to the blinding pleasure of the hard thrusts. Duncan's cock buried itself deep inside him, pushing him closer and closer to oblivion. He cried out, his hips rocking urgently, seeking release from the burning pleasure.

"Yes, oh yes, Duncan," Blair chanted mindlessly, as the orgasm building inside him took control, driving him down onto his lover's pulsing cock. Duncan's fist tightened around him as he came, his body's internal spasms milking Duncan's cock until he exploded inside him, gasping Blair's name.

Blair fell forward, collapsing on Duncan's chest.

"Don't make me move yet," he panted, unable to distinguish his own pounding heartbeat from his lover's. Duncan's chest rose and fell rapidly, but his arms locked around Blair, holding him tight.

"No, don't."

Blair pressed his cheek to Duncan's chest, happily exhausted.

"I want to fall asleep with you inside me," he whispered, his fingers stroking through his lover's damp hair.

"I love you," Duncan whispered in answer, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

"Thank you," Blair breathed, savoring the feeling of lying draped across Duncan's body, his cock still deep inside him.

They drifted off to sleep, arms wrapped around each other, both knowing that the alarm clock would go off much too soon.


Duncan dropped a sleepy Blair off at his morning Lab, promising to meet him for lunch at Blair's apartment to help him pack.

When Duncan got there that afternoon with sandwiches from the deli, Blair had already taken one carload of boxes over to the loft and was getting the second ready to go.

"Hi! You brought food? I love you, I'm starving. Books are about all that's left, I called the rental place this morning and had them pick up the furniture. How was your morning?"

"Less hectic than yours," Duncan smiled, coming over to kiss Blair hello.

"This is really all that's left? I think we can get it all over there in one trip if we take two cars," Duncan surveyed the stack of boxes by the door, and the books piled up waiting to be packed.

"Yep, this is it, weird, huh? How many thirty year olds can pack everything they own on their lunch hour? I kinda like it, definitely makes life easy when you do this as much as I do."

"But maybe not for a while, now," Duncan told him, smiling when Blair agreed.

"As long as you want me."

"That would be forever, Caro."

"I am so there, man," Blair grinned at him, handing Duncan a box of books to carry down to the car.

They managed to get the last of Blair's boxes over to the Dojo and Blair back to the University only a couple minutes late for his next class.

"See you tonight," Blair promised, kissing Duncan hurriedly before they parted ways again at the edge of the campus. Blair jogged up the path to the Anthro building, and Duncan turned to head back to the dojo for an afternoon of paperwork.


Working on the final for Diversity and Development in his office that afternoon, Blair was finding it hard to forget about the short conversation with Jim. His ex-partner's words repeated themselves over and over again in his mind, as his eyes were drawn to the phone on his desk. He wanted to call, to try again. He checked the clock. It was almost four, Jim would be home, probably climbing the walls by now...

"No, Blair, don't do it. If he needs you, he'll call," he told himself sternly, forcing his concentration back to the half finished test in from of him.

When the phone rang he jumped, his heart pounding rapidly in his chest. Snatching up the receiver before it could ring again, or the person on the other end could change there mind, he tried sound normal.

"Blair Sandburg."

"Chief... it's me. Can we talk?"

"That'd be good. Jim, are you okay?"

"Yeah, Sure, whatever. Um, look, Blair, I want to apologize..."

"Whatever? 'Whatever' is not an answer, Jim. Are you okay?'

"No."

"Okay, just relax, I want you to tell me everything that's happened with your senses since I left, in chronological order if you can," Blair reached for a blank pad of paper and a pen.

"Look, Blair, that could take all day. I haven't really been keeping track..."

"Can you tell me when the last time you remember everything working without any problems was?"

"No, I don't remember. Look, Chief, about what happened when I was down there, I want to say I'm sorry. I shouldn't have hit you. I don't know what happened, I just reacted..."

"Yeah, well, I think I kinda asked for it. Jim, we really do need to talk, not just about your senses... we need to talk about us, and why you reacted the way you did."

A harsh, bitter laugh came over the line, and Blair winced, recognizing the self recrimination for what it was.

"Chief, do me a favor? Don't tell me I'm repressed again, okay? I don't think I can handle hearing it from you. I've got that much figured out by now."

"Ah Jim, man, this is like, so hard... I don't even know where to start. I'm really worried about you. Simon said..."

"Simon can fuck off."

"He took your gun?"

"Sandburg, you're not supposed to be able to read my mind from two hundred miles away," there was both affection and bitterness in Ellison's voice.

"He called, he told me..." Blair answered softly, wishing that he could be there to help, and knowing he couldn't.

"What did he tell you?" Jim asked defensively, and Blair could picture him, jumping to his feet to pace the loft.

"He told me you've been drinking a lot, and that you've been zoning so much that he had to relieve you of active duty. Jim, that is like, so dangerous. You've got to get some help."

"What the hell do you think I'm trying to do, Sandburg? Except your boyfriend decided to try to take me out with his bare hands. What is he, ex-marine?"

"He was trying to protect me..."

"Next time I'll kill him, I swear to God."

"Jim! Rage is not going to solve anything. Duncan is the least of your problems, okay? Could we try to focus on something positive here?"

"Blair, please. Come home."

Blair's eyes closed, his voice a whisper, "I can't do that Jim. I'm sorry."

"I need your help, Blair. I need you. You're the only one who can help me," Jim sounded more desperate than Blair had ever heard him.

Blair realized that he was starting to cry, and he was grateful that Jim couldn't see him.

"I'm sorry, Jim, I can't. This is home, this is where I have to be. I want to help you, big guy, but you're going to have to be willing to help yourself."

"Blair, please. If you'll come back, I'll do anything, whatever you want, whatever he gives you, I can. I need you Chief, I'm not makin' it."

"Oh God, Jim, please, don't do this to me. You can't even accept the fact that I'm gay, you kicked me out. You can't give me what Duncan does. You can't love me..."

"Yes, I can! I do," Jim blurted out, interrupting him, "I always have, Chief, I just didn't want to see it for what it was... God Blair, please come home. It's so damn quiet here, it's driving me crazy."

"I can't come back, Jim, but I can try to help you. Will you let me?"

Blair held the phone pressed so hard against his ear that he almost didn't hear Jim's answer.

"Yes."

"Jim, I'm so sorry..."

"Don't."

There was so much pain in that order, Blair fell silent, at a total loss for words for the first time in his life.

"Blair, why is he so important?" Jim's voice cracked, the emotion stretching taut across the long distance phone line.

"I love him, Jim."

"Why?"

"I don't know, because he's good to me, he makes me feel wanted, he loves me back... he's what I've always wanted, someone that really understands me."

"There's no way I'm going to get you back, is there?"

"No. I'm sorry. But Jim, that doesn't mean I don't want to help you, or that I don't want to be your friend, I do, but you have to meet me halfway here, buddy."

"I can do that. Blair, you have no idea how sorry I am that I told you to leave that night... I was sorry as soon as you left, I wanted to tell you to come back, I watched you drive away. I was an asshole. Can you forgive me?"

"Yeah, of course I can man, I love you. I always will, you're my blessed protector." It felt so good to say it, even if it didn't feel anything like he'd wanted it to, all those years.

"Am I? I thought MacLeod took over that duty."

"No Jim, he's my mate, and I love him more than I ever have anyone on this planet, but you'll always be my blessed protector."

"I guess that's good," Jim whispered, not trusting himself to say anything more.

"Listen, this is what I want you to do. Stop drinking. Get eight hours of sleep. Record everything that happens for twenty four hours, use a tape recorder if your vision is too messed up to write. I need to know what's going on in your head when your senses act up, and how you react emotionally before and after each episode, okay?"

"Jesus, Sandburg, why don't you just cut me open and map my brain."

"Don't offer, it'd be fascinating, man. Seriously, Jim, I need you to do this."

"Okay."

"Okay?"

"Yeah, okay, I'll do my best."

"That's really good Jim. Don't worry, we're going to find a way to get you back online, I promise. Call me tomorrow night, okay? Around eight. Oh, wait, let me give you Duncan's number."

"You're not going to be home?"

"Um, no, actually, that is home. As of today."

"Oh."

"Jim..."

"Blair, be happy."

"I am," Blair answered softly. He gave Jim Duncan's number, and hung up the phone, trying to get his emotions under control.

"Oh man, that sucked," Blair mumbled, gathering his notes into a pile. There was no point in trying to go back to it, all he wanted to do was get back to the loft, and Duncan. "Hang in there Jim, I'm gonna find a way to make this work if it kills me," Blair spoke softly, standing up to gather up his backpack and books.


Duncan was teaching his Tuesday night judo class when Blair walked into the dojo. He stopped, setting his back pack down against the wall to watch Duncan. He was wrapping up the class, going over the new strikes and counters they had learned. Blair watched from the back wall, marveling at the fluid movements of his lover's body. He never got tired of watching Duncan, he could sit on the floor of the dojo and watch him perform his katas for hours, totally content. Lately, he had been getting up early enough to watch Duncan do his morning Tai Chi, and Duncan had begun to teach him the basic movements. He was enjoying it tremendously, his body felt better and more limber than he had in years, and Duncan said that he had a good form already.

"Earth to Professor Sandburg? Is there anybody in there?"

"Oh! Hi, that was great. Sorry," Blair grinned up at him, blushing.

Duncan laughed, giving Blair a hand to his feet.

"How was your afternoon, kiddo?"

"Kinda rough, lets go upstairs, I'll tell you about it."

"Okay, I'll meet you up there, I need to clean up here first."

"Okay, handsome, I'll start dinner," Blair gave Duncan a brilliant smile, raking his eyes once more down his chest before heading for the elevator.

By the time Duncan met him upstairs Blair had water boiling and Joe's blues cd in Duncan's player.

"Hi, what are we eating?"

"Mac and cheese?"

"Run that by me again?"

Blair laughed, "You give new meaning to the words 'generation gap' Duncan, I love you. Macaroni and cheese. You know, Kraft, in the blue box? Really annoying little kid on the commercials says it backwards?"

"Sorry, kiddo, you've lost me."

"That's okay, it'll be a cultural experience, alright? I'm not really up to doing dinner tonight, and it's easy, and it's one of those 'comfort food' things."

"Okay, I'm warned, I'll eat the blue box. Wanna tell me about it?"

"Yeah, I do, gimme a minute," Blair was straining the pasta at the sink. When he had combined the butter, milk and bright orange powder and turned off the burner he smiled up at Duncan. "You know, you really are a good sport. I promise I'll make you a casserole tomorrow to make up for this."

"It looks edible. What do you drink with that? Beer?"

"Milk."

Duncan poured Blair a glass of milk, getting ice water for himself and joining him at the counter.

"This isn't that bad."

"Really?"

"Well, it's better than Army food."

"I'm sorry. I could make you something else."

"No, I'm just teasing. What happened today? You're all wound up."

"Jim called. It was good, I think."

Duncan reached for Blair's hand across the counter, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, kinda shaky and stressed, but not bad, for me," Blair grinned at Duncan, squeezing his hand reassuringly.

"How's he doing?"

"I don't know, not so good. He was pretty upset, but I think we're going to try to work this out. I don't know, am I doing the right thing, Duncan? I want to help him, but it seems like talking to me is really rough on him. I think he finally realized what was going on between us all that time... He apologized, a lot. Jim never apologizes. It was weird. It was really hard to tell him no."

"Apologized?"

"Yeah, he did. Of course, he also said he'd kill you next time you jumped him..." Blair shrugged it off, although Jim had sounded deadly serious.

"Well, that's nice. He's welcome to try," Duncan gave a wry grin.

"Duncan, please man, no macho crap, okay? I'm trying really hard to deal with this whole situation rationally."

"I'm sorry, you're right. I don't want to add to the problem, kiddo."

"I really appreciate that, Duncan. I mean it, you're the best. I know he seems like an asshole, but he's not, well, not all the time. He's having a really rough time, I think it's just about as bad as when he first got his senses back. He's really mixed up."

Duncan thought about what it was like when he died the first time, and how crazy he'd been until Conner found him. "I believe you. Besides, if you care about him, he has to have some good qualities."

"Actually, you guys have a lot in common."

Duncan held his hands up defensively, "Please, kiddo, that's a little farther than I'm ready to go. I'm willing to admit he might not be a total jerk, but I don't think I want to know all the things we have in common."

Blair took a deep breath, "Okay, but we're all going to work on this. We're going to find some common ground, and we're going to deal. I need you to do this for me, Duncan."

Duncan smiled, knowing that he couldn't refuse Blair anything. Resolution was always better than conflict, and Blair was more important than his anger. "I don't want to cause you any more stress, kiddo. I promise to keep an open mind about Jim, and try my best to get over what happened. It's not going to be easy to get the picture of him trying to strangle you out of my head, but I think I can promise you no more violence. As long as he can."

Blair beamed at Duncan, going back to his dinner with much more enthusiasm.

"Thank you. You're awesome. I love you so much, Duncan."

"You're welcome, and I think you're pretty 'awesome' yourself," Duncan smiled and made quote marks with his fingers as he spoke.

"Can I put off unpacking until tomorrow?" Blair looked around the loft at the neat piles of his stuff.

"Of course you can. If you want to store any of it, there's plenty of space."

"That's cool. Most of it's junk, anyway."

"You know you can do anything you want to the loft, right? Put whatever you want on the walls, rearrange..."

"I knew you'd say that. Actually, I love it just the way it is, but I promise, you'll know I live here. I can't take two steps without making some kind of clutter. It's basically a love me, love my mess situation."

Duncan laughed, "I'll love your clutter."


End Part 11

Part 12


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