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 14

By Zen&nancy


Blair watched the white lines on the highway, willing the T-bird to go faster.

"We're doing eighty, Blair," Duncan's voice was gentle. They had been alternately arguing and comforting each other's fears since they'd got on the road.

"I'm sorry," Blair realized that he was sitting on the edge of the seat again, his feet braced on the floor, as if he could make the car go faster by will alone.

"We're about halfway there, kiddo. Hang in there, okay?"

"I'm trying. Look, Duncan, I'm really sorry I yelled at you, I know you're just trying to protect me, but I really need to deal with him alone."

Duncan sighed, his grip tightening on the steering wheel. "Blair, we've been discussing this for over an hour. He's suicidal. He has a gun. What if he decides he wants to take you with him? I can't deal with that, Caro."

Blair reached for Duncan's hand, holding on tight. "That's not going to happen, buddy. He's not going to hurt me this time, Duncan, I promise. You gotta trust me, man."

"I trust you kiddo, I don't trust him."

"If you trust me then you don't have to trust him. Please, Duncan, I have to do this alone."

Duncan frowned, not at all happy about the idea of Blair going to see Jim alone.

Blair shifted, sitting sideways to look at Duncan in the dark. "Look, you took the cell phone, right? What if I call you as soon as soon as I get upstairs and let you know I'm okay?"

"Will you leave the phone off the hook? At least that way I can hear you if you call for help."

Blair thought about it, and decided it was the best compromise they were going to reach.

"Okay, that sounds like a plan. Now I want you to promise me that you'll only come storming up there if I'm really in trouble. Which is not going to happen, okay? I'm going to talk to him, that's all."

Duncan sighed, "Alright, I promise."

Blair leaned the back of his head against the window, the cold glass felt good. He was trying to keep it together, trying not to panic. He kept telling himself that he had to stay calm and centered so that he would be able to help Jim, but the truth was that he was scared shitless, and about two breaths away from a panic attack.

Duncan broke the silence, "Blair, are you sure you don't want to call Simon first? I'd feel a lot better if you let someone else go up there first... Just in case..."

"In case he's dead?"

"Yes," Duncan's voice was very gentle.

"He's not gonna die! I'm not going to let him."

Blair turned away from Duncan, staring out the window.

"Blair..."

"What?" Blair asked softly, already sorry for snapping at Duncan.

"What do you think you're going to find when you get there?"

"Jim. Sitting on the couch, watching t.v."

Duncan looked over at his lover, trying to see him in the dark. "I hope you're right, kiddo."

"I know it seems like I'm being overly optimistic here, Duncan, and don't get me wrong, this is worse than I ever imagined it could get... But I know he's going to be alive when I get there. Zoned, maybe,which could be worse..." Blair's voice trailed off, and then came back stronger, "He had that damn thing to his head, I know he did. I can see it. He went upstairs and sat on his fucking bed and picked up the holdout he keeps under his pillow and he cocked it and put it to his head like it was nothing at all. Somehow he decided it was the right thing to do, and he's so fucking brave he just walked upstairs and did it. But I stopped him, Duncan. I felt it, and I got to him in time. He wasn't in there or anything, nobody home, right there on the edge of a zone, but he listened to me. He's not gonna do that to me now, not when he knows I'm on the way. He'll do exactly what I tell him, even if it kills him. That's what I'm really scared of. What if he can't keep himself from zoning? He's already lost the majority of his senses. I really don't want to think about a five hour zone out, or how the fuck I'm gonna get him back. If I get him back."

Duncan nodded slowly, listening to the rising and falling hope and anxiety in Blair's voice. Blair had scared the hell out of him tonight. When he realized what was happening on the other end of that phone call a cold, foreboding feeling settled in his stomach. He'd watched as Blair slowly became someone else in front of his eyes. Jim's Guide. Even his voice was different, not hypnotic, but totally focussed, drawing you in. The absolute calm and confidence Blair exuded while he was on the phone amazed Duncan. Watching Blair guide Jim fascinated him, and terrified him, too. This was who Blair really was, a Guide, an essential part of Jim Ellison's life, and he'd taken it away. Well, Jim had lost Blair all by himself, but Duncan had no illusions about what Blair's decision would have been if Jim had asked him to come back a few weeks earlier.

He wouldn't let himself say anything to Blair, his lover was holding off panic by will alone, and he wouldn't give him anything else to worry about. It wasn't easy. He was sure that Jim would want Blair to stay, and he wasn't at all sure that Blair would refuse this time, or even that he should. Duncan knew that he would just have to wait and see what happened when they got there. He'd take Blair to Jim, and be there if he needed him. That was all he could do.

Blair sat cross legged, rocking slightly back and forth. He kept telling himself over and over again that it would be okay, that no matter what condition he found Jim in, he'd find a way to get him back. He looked over at his lover. Duncan's attention was on the road, he'd kept the T-Bird in fifth gear since they'd got on the highway in Seacouver. Duncan wasn't yelling at him, he wasn't telling him what to do, and he wasn't begging him not to go to Jim. He was sitting right next to him, calmly making sure that Blair got to Jim as safely and as quickly as possible.

"You know what?"

"What?"

"I'm totally fucking ungrateful. I love you sooo much. Thank you, Duncan."

Duncan reached for Blair's hand, taking it in his and moving it to rest on his thigh. "For what, kiddo?"

"For taking me to him. I can't imagine anyone else doing this. Not after what happened."

"You're his Guide."

"I know, but the fact that you'll accept that blows my mind, man. You are way more than I deserve, you know that?"

"Oh no," Duncan murmured gently, squeezing Blair's hand. "I'm just grateful that I found you, and that I had the chance to love you."

"And if I'm lucky, you won't stop till I'm dead."

Blair thought about how wonderful that would be, if Duncan MacLeod loved him his whole life, if he could really have this one stable, certain thing.

"I won't, Blair, no matter what. I'll love you forever, no matter where you are or what you do, I'll still love you. I want you to know that, Caro."

"Duncan, are you worried that I'm gonna leave you? Don't you get it, handsome? You're my mate, I wanna grow old with you. I want to be with you every day for the rest of my life. Even if someday people do start thinking you're my son."

Duncan laughed, relieved and reassured, "No, they'll think I'm your houseboy, professor, and that's just fine with me."

Blair chuckled, "Doesn't sound bad too me either, handsome."

"You know, if you need to stay there for a few days, that's okay."

"Yeah, I don't know, I don't really have a plan or anything. First I have to figure out exactly what made him decide that turning his lights out was the right thing to do, man."

Duncan had never heard his lover more upset, not even when he'd had his ribs cracked. "Have you thought about what you're going to do about the gun?"

"Yeah, take the bullets out of the clip and make damn sure he doesn't have any more."

"Are you going to tell his boss?"

"Simon? I suppose I'm gonna have to, but man, I am not looking forward to it."

"We're almost there... Are you still sure you want to do this all by yourself?" Duncan knew he shouldn't ask again, but he wasn't at all happy about letting Blair go up to Jim's apartment alone.

"I have to."

Duncan sighed heavily, telling himself firmly that coming between Blair and Jim was the fastest way to lose him. "Okay, kiddo, which exit?"

"The next one."

Blair gave Duncan directions to the loft from the highway, feeling his adrenaline spike as they got closer to Jim. Duncan turned onto Prospect street, watching Blair frantically digging his keys out of his backpack and shoving his feet back into his shoes.

"You're going to call me as soon as you get upstairs, right kiddo?"

"Right. Don't worry, I will."

"I love you, Blair. Be careful."

"I will."

Duncan pulled into a spot in front of the building. Blair was out of the car before he came to a full stop. Duncan watched him tear across the parking lot and into the building, wishing desperately that his lover was Immortal.

Blair ran up the stairs, his hand shaking as he fit his old key into the door. He'd kept it on his ring in Seacouver. At first because he couldn't stand to take it off, and then just because he didn't want to throw it away, and didn't know what else to do with it. He was very glad now that he hadn't given it back to Jim when he left.

Jim was on the couch. Blair ran to him, so glad to find him there that for a moment he didn't realize that the television was turned all the way up, blaringly loud.

"Jim, it's me, It's Blair. Can you hear me buddy?"

No response whatsoever. Blair dropped to his knees in front of Jim's still form. "Oh man, not good, what was I thinking, Jim? It's okay, buddy, don't panic, I'm gonna get you out of this, I promise." Blair spoke to both himself and his Sentinel, silently praying to Incacha's spirit to help him. Blair forced himself to speak quietly, looking for the remote to turn down the volume on the tv, which was so loud it hurt his ears.

He realized the remote was in Jim's hand and pried it gently from his frozen grip. Jim didn't even flinch. Blair found the phone next to him on the floor and dialed.

"Blair?"

"Relax, I'm fine. He's zoned, big time. I think you're going to be down there awhile, why don't you go get yourself some coffee or something?"

"That's okay, I'm fine. I'll be right here."

Exactly how many blessed protectors did he need? Blair smiled, glad in spite of himself for Duncan's concern. "Okay, but it's not like I'm in any danger, man, he's catatonic here."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"No, I don't think so, but thanks. It's good to know you're there."

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Okay, do you still want me to leave the phone off the hook?"

"Yes."

"Alright, but it's not gonna be all that interesting. You probably won't even be able to hear anything."

"I'll hear you if you yell."

"I'm gonna be fine, he's the one I'm worried about, Duncan. This is really bad."

"Go do your thing, kiddo. I'll be right here."

"Okay," Blair set the phone down with the speaker facing up, turning his attention back to his Sentinel.

"We screwed up good this time, huh, buddy?" Blair spoke soothingly, watching Jim carefully for any kind of response. "It's okay, it's all okay Jim. It's me, Blair. I'm here now buddy, I'm right here with you." Blair took Jim's limp hand in his, squeezing with slowly increasing pressure, but he got no reaction.

"Come on, man, just hear my voice. Everything's all right, it's safe to come back now. Come back to me Jim, I need you here, Big Guy."

No response, nothing. Blair put his hand over Jim's mouth for a moment, afraid, but he was breathing, slow and regular. His eyes were closed, and he didn't appear to be able to hear him or feel him at all. How long had he been like this? Ah, God, Jim, please, just hear me buddy, you gotta work with me here, you have to *want* to come back, Blair thought anxiously, continuing his monolog.

"Hey, Jim, I'm here, I drove all the way here just to see you, won't you even say hi? Come on, buddy, I know you can do it. Just listen to my voice, Jim, hear me, let it guide you back, follow my voice..."

Blair continued to talk to the Sentinel in a low, gentle voice, urging him to recognize the sound he was hearing, to remember what hearing was, to open his eyes. He talked until his voice grew hoarse, and finally had to admit it wasn't working. He thought frantically, terrified that in trying to save the Sentinel, he'd killed him. If he took Jim to a hospital right now, he knew they would say he was in a coma, but Blair knew better. This wasn't a coma, it was a zone, a really fucking bad one. Jim must have tried to keep it from happening, turning the volume up again and again to hold his attention until he zoned anyway. Blair wished to God that he knew how long ago that had been. It could have been ten minutes after he'd hung up the phone, or it could have been ten minutes before he arrived, he had no way of knowing.

Blair thought frantically. Sound wasn't working, neither was touch, and sight wasn't an option. Could Jim smell him? Blair moved quickly between Jim's legs, placing his hands on Jim's shoulders he leaned over him until his hair was in Jim's face. He whispered without realizing it, concentrating so hard on trying to reach Jim, to will him to smell him, that he paid no attention to what he said. He just kept talking.

"Remember me, damn it. Come on Jim, this is what I smell like. Me. Your Guide, remember it; Blair. Inhale, that's it, come on, just a little sniff, just remember, follow it back, hear me."

Jim inhaled sharply and Blair almost shouted with relief. He stopped himself, continuing his ramble, more focused now, as he pushed himself slowly away from the Sentinel.

"That's it, that's good, Jim. It's Blair, your Guide, remember? Right here, buddy, just follow it back, listen to my voice, that's it, open your eyes, Jim."

Blair jumped, surprised, when Jim's eyes popped open at his urging. But then his hopes fell again. They were blank and expressionless, not seeing him at all. Blair held up one finger, very close to Jim's open eye and got no response, he didn't even blink.

"Can you hear me, Jim? It's me, Blair. I'm here buddy, come on back..."

"Blair?" Jim croaked. He sounded horribly confused.

"Yeah, Jim, it's me, it's Blair, I'm right here, everything's okay."

"Blair, I can't see!"

"I know, it's okay, Jim, just relax, it's gonna be okay."

Jim sat very still, and Blair was at a total loss as for what to say next.

"I got here as fast as I could... Oh God, Jim..."

"Where the hell were you, Sandburg?"

Oh my God, he's blocked it, Blair thought. Very gently, he asked, "Jim, I need you to tell me the last thing you remember, okay?"

Jim opened his mouth to answer, then closed it again. Finally, he admitted, "I don't know."

"Do you know where you are?"

"Did I get hit?" Jim whispered, his hand raising slowly to his head, and then his chest, "Shot?" he asked, more anxiously. "Blair?"

"Oh boy," Blair whispered, then he made himself answer Jim, "No, you're okay Jim, you zoned. Alright Jim, I know you're upset. Just try to be really patient with me here, partner, I just need you to trust me now, okay?"

"Yeah, of course I trust you."

"Do you remember talking to me on the telephone earlier tonight, Big Guy?"

Jim shook his head, his blind eyes staring blankly ahead of him.

"Do you remember the last time you saw me?"

"What do mean?"

"Oh man. Um, Jim, do you know who Duncan MacLeod is?"

"Who? No, I don't think so."

"Jim, can I ask him to come upstairs? He's downstairs in the car. He's my friend. I think we should all talk together, okay?"

"Just don't leave me here."

"Do you know where here is, Jim?"

"Am I in the hospital? Something happened..."

"No, Jim, you're not in the hospital, you're not hurt. You're with me, and everything's okay now. You zoned really bad, and I'm gonna get you outta here and someplace better, okay? Just trust me. I'm gonna talk to Duncan for a minute, just stay with me. Don't let yourself go."

"It's hard, everything's fadin' in and out. Blair, I'm scared, something's wrong..."

Blair was glad that Jim couldn't see him. He stared at Jim, stricken. If Jim was admitting to fear, than he was dealing with more than just blocked memory here.

"What's wrong, Jim?" Blair murmured softly, begging Jim in his head to try to tell him, to give him any kind of clue about what he'd been feeling before he put the gun to his head.

"I...I don't know. Stay with me, Blair."

"I will, I will, Jim, it's going to be okay." Blair reached for the phone on the cushion next to Jim on the couch.

"Duncan? Listen to me, everything's fine. Jim and I would like you to come up here and talk for a minute. Everything's gonna be fine, so you can just relax and be mellow, okay?"

Duncan responded immediately, "I'm on my way. Are you sure everything's okay? You sound weird, is there anything you want to tell me before I get there? Can he hear you?"

"Everything's cool, Duncan. I just need to talk to you for a minute, so just be mellow for me, okay buddy?"

Blair held his breath, praying that Duncan understand.

Duncan opened the door to the loft cautiously, looking around and finding Blair on the couch next to Jim. Blair watched Jim carefully, but he didn't even turn his head towards Duncan. Blair wasn't sure if he was even aware that he was there.

"Jim, my friend Duncan is here. He's gonna help us, okay? I need to talk to him for a second, I'll be right back. I'm not going far, okay?"

"Okay."

Blair motioned Duncan into the kitchen, keeping his eyes trained on Jim while he talked.

"He doesn't remember anything. He doesn't know where he is. He doesn't know who you are, or what happened. I gotta get him outta here, Duncan, like, now."

"Are you serious?"

"Oh yeah. We're about two breaths from catatonic here Duncan. I'm talking the Big Sleep. So please, please don't argue with me, just help me get him out of here."

"Where are we taking him Caro?"

Blair brain worked overtime, his hands raking nervously through his hair.

"Back to Seacouver, it's our best option."

"You want to take him back to the loft?" Duncan was incredulous.

"Duncan, a six foot two vegetable is not a good thing to have on the couch. I really think that we should get him out of here. He doesn't even know that he's in his own house, man. Too much trauma happened here for him. Maybe he'll be able to deal with it later, but right now I think we should get him someplace calm amd peaceful so I can figure out what to do. The loft is the best thing I can think of."

Duncan sighed dramatically, "Not my choice for a conversation piece either, Caro. Okay, we'll take him back to Seacouver with us if it's what you think is best. "

"Thank you," Blair whispered, looking at Duncan for the first time. "I love you. I won't forget this."

"It's okay, kiddo. Can I talk to him?"

"Yeah, that'd be really good. Just be really mellow, okay?"

Duncan nodded, going cautiously over to where Jim was sitting, staring blankly, straight ahead.

"Hi Jim."

"Who's there? Blair?"

"It's okay, Jim, I'm right here. This is my friend Duncan. He's gonna help us out, remember?"

"Hi," Jim said vaguely, not sure where the stranger was.

"Jim, we're going to get out of here, okay? I've got to go get some stuff for you, I'll be back in just a second. I'm gonna have Duncan sit here and talk to you. I want you to talk to him, don't zone, and I'll be right back."

Blair made eye contact with his lover, making sure he understood the responsibility he was giving him. Duncan nodded to Blair, and sat down in the chair next to Jim.

"Blair's told me you're ex-Army, Jim, so am I. What division were you in?" Duncan's voice was easy going and relaxed, he leaned towards Jim, hoping that it would be easier for the Sentinel to remain aware of him. He could hear Blair upstairs, opening and closing drawers.

"I was a Ranger."

"Really? I bet you've got a lot of stories to tell."

"No stories," Jim shook his head briefly, the most reaction Duncan had seen from the large man yet.

"Okay, no problem." Duncan thought quickly trying to think of what to say to the man who was obviously teetering on the edge of a total system failure. He knew it wasn't a good idea to ask him questions, but he couldn't think of anything that was safe to say.

Duncan was surprised when Jim spoke first.

"You brought Blair here?"

"Yeah, I did. Can I get you anything? Would you like a glass of water?"

"No. Thanks. Thank you for bringing him to me."

Duncan looked up sharply, Jim's face was as expressionless as it had been since he'd come in.

"You're welcome."

"Hey, guys, how's it going?" Blair hurried back down the stairs, his backpack crammed with Jim's clothes and the few things he knew he'd want, and a few more that he hoped to jog his memory with, if they could get that far.

"We're doing fine," Duncan answered him, standing up to let Blair sit next to Jim.

"Hey, buddy, how are we doing here?"

"I don't know."

"Jim, I want you to listen to me, you have to take my word on this one, and I don't want you to worry about it, okay? We gotta go, I'm going to take you somewhere safe, and we're going to get your senses back. I know you're really confused right now, but we're going to go for a ride and we can talk on the way. You with me here, Jim?"

"Okay."

Blair took Jim's hand, guiding him to his feet. "We're going to do this just like we did last time, okay, buddy? You're just gonna let me be your eyes, here we go..." Blair kept a hand on Jim's shoulder, guiding him slowly to the door. He smiled at Duncan, a thank you for the backpack Duncan remembered to pick up for him. Blair handed Duncan his keys, looking meaningfully at Jim and shaking his head sharply.

Duncan nodded, and waited until Blair had led Jim a little way down the hallway before he locked the door behind them.

"Okay, buddy, we got some stairs to deal with here. Here's the railing, put your other hand on my shoulder," Blair lifted Jim's hand to his shoulder himself, guiding him cautiously down the stairs.

They managed the short walk to the car, Duncan going ahead to unlock the door for them.

Blair got Jim settled in the back seat and Duncan went around to the driver's side.

"Where are we going?"

"We're going to go for a ride, Jim, a long one. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

Blair reached for Duncan's hand, letting go long enough to let him shift and then interlacing their fingers again. He was amazed that getting Jim out of the loft had been that easy. That wasn't good, if Jim was too far inside his head to care where he was or where they were going, he had a lot of work to do. Only how to do it? He didn't want to have to tell Jim what had happened, but somehow he had to make him remember, and convince him to deal with it.

He was scared, and very glad that Duncan was going along with this. The only thing he'd been certain of was that he had to get Jim out of the loft, and out of Cascade. He didn't want to tell Simon what had happened, was still holding on to the hope that if he could get Jim back, maybe he wouldn't have to. Or at least tell Simon a less damning version of the truth. Simon might take Jim off the force for this. After everything else that had happened, Blair thought it was likely. Whatever it was going to take to get Jim to face his memory, he needed to do it far away from Cascade and Simon. Getting Jim out of the loft had been his only priority, he had no idea where to take it from here.

Jim inhaled deeply reassuring himself with the scent of his Guide. He knew they were moving, and that Blair had told him something about where he was, but he couldn't remember. Something happened, a flash of light in front of his closed eyes, and for a second he felt like he'd come out of the fog he was floundering in.

"You smell different."

Blair winced, but answered Jim soothingly, "I changed shampoos. Your sense of smell is probably the most reliable thing you've got going for you right now, so try and use it to help you orientate yourself, okay, Jim?"

"I'm tired."

"I don't think it's a real good idea for you to go to sleep right now, Jim. Talk to me for a little while first. You're not remembering anything, are you?"

Jim didn't want to answer, because he knew that it would upset Blair, but finally, he did. "No."

"That's okay, I wanna ask you some questions, here, see if we can draw some perimeters. If it gets to be too much for you just tell me, okay buddy?"

"Yeah, okay Chief."

Blair worded his questions carefully, trying to figure out exactly what Jim had blocked first, and whether it was a series of events only, or an entire period of time.

"Do you know who Simon is?"

"Yeah, of course. Chief, did I zone on the job? Were we on a case?"

Blair let go of Duncan's hand to cover his face. He'd blocked all of it, everything, the last four months.

"Blair?"

"Uh, no Jim, don't worry, you weren't on a case. Maybe you should try and sleep now. I think you might remember more when you wake up."

"Is it night, Blair?"

"Yeah, it's late, go to sleep, Jim. Everything's gonna be okay."

"Okay."

Duncan reached for Blair's hand. Glancing in the rearview mirror he saw Jim curling into a more comfortable position in the back seat. Jim obviously trusted Blair implicitly, and Blair seemed to know instinctively what to say, and more importantly, what not to say. His lover looked like he was hanging on by a thread.

"Are you okay?" Duncan asked softly, glancing back at Jim again in the mirror.

"Oh man, Duncan, I don't know. I'm scared. I'm not sure what to do here. I can't just tell him, it'll kill him, but I can't just let him float around in la la land like this. I've got to get him to remember, but I'm afraid that's going to throw him right back into a zone..." Blair was very quiet and watched Jim to see if his Sentinel had heard any of this. Jim looked as if he had fallen asleep immediately.

"Just take it one step at a time, Blair. You've done everything right so far. Maybe you should try and sleep, too, I'll wake you up if he does."

"You're not going to fall asleep? You've already driven five hours. We could take turns..."

"No, Blair, I'll let you drive the T-Bird, but not in this condition. Don't worry about it, kiddo, I've gone more than a few nights without sleep. I'm fine."

"Okay, but wake me up the first time you stop for gas, okay?"

"No problem," Duncan answered, but he knew Blair slept so lightly that he'd wake up as soon as the car stopped moving anyway.

Duncan kept an eye on Jim in the rearview mirror, but he seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Blair had curled up backwards on the seat, one hand resting on Duncan's thigh. How the hell had he gotten himself into this? He was actually taking Jim Ellison, the man who'd tried to strangle Blair, back to his apartment to sleep on his couch. Or rather, the brussel sprout version of that man.

Duncan's compassion got the best of him. The man obviously needed help. No, that wasn't it, he needed Blair. Duncan promised himself that he would do everything he could to make this as easy for Blair as he could, and to try to get past his first impressions of Jim. Maybe Blair was right, maybe that wasn't the real Jim Ellison. He certainly couldn't have imagined Jim talking to Blair the way he had tonight, or putting his life in Blair's hands like this.

There was almost no traffic and they made good time. Jim looked comfortable enough, stretched out in the back seat. Duncan got off at the next exit for gas, Blair woke up as soon as they pulled in under the bright lights of the truck stop.

"How far have we gone?"

"Almost two hundred miles. Should we let him sleep?" Duncan asked quietly, nodding to Jim in the back seat.

"Yeah. I'm gonna go to the bathroom, I'll be right back."

Blair walked to the long building, going through the gift shop to the bathrooms. Going into a stall, he dug the bullets he'd taken out of Jim's gun out of his jeans pocket, counting to make sure there were ten of them before he walked out, and dropped them into the garbage can casually on the his way to the sinks. He realized he didn't have to worry about it, the bathroom was empty. He was very glad to be rid of the bullets, they'd scared the shit out of him when he'd held them in his hand in Jim's bedroom. He had the sig, with it's empty clip, buried at the bottom of his backpack and wrapped in a sweatshirt. It was a last resort, but if nothing else could bring Jim back, holding the gun in his hand undoubtedly would.

Going back out to the gift shop he bought himself a cappuccino from the machine that promised "a hot, creamy drink" and a candy bar. Going back to the car, he found Duncan standing next to the driver's window, watching Jim.

"He's still asleep, I just didn't want to leave him until you got back. I'll go pay for the gas."

Blair gave Duncan a brilliant smile. "Thank you. I love you."

Duncan smiled back, heading across the parking lot to the cashier. Blair got back in the car, closing the door quietly. Jim didn't wake up, only shifted, curling his long legs into a more comfortable position. Blair was amazed at how kind Duncan had been to Jim, and how concerned he was for his welfare. Maybe this wasn't such a crazy idea. If he could get them trusting each other a little before Jim remembered, it might go a little better when he did remember everything.

Duncan came back, drinking a quart of orange juice, and they got back on the highway. Blair kept an eye on Jim, but he was sleeping soundly. Duncan found All Things Considered on a public radio station, and turned the balance dial all the way to the right, so that only the front speakers were on.

"Is this too loud for him?"

"No, he's out, don't worry about it. News is good, though, he listens to public radio, too. It'll give him something familiar to identify when he wakes up."

"That's good."

"Uh-huh. You know, I really appreciate everything you're doing, Duncan. Especially taking what I said to heart, about us finding common ground..."

"I'm working on it, Caro."

Duncan reached for Blair's hand, and this time his lover scooted over to sit closer to him, leaning his head on Duncan's shoulder.

"I'm going to find a way to make this better, Duncan. I'm gonna get him back."

"I know you will, kiddo, I have faith in you. He does, too."

"I know, and I'm not going to let him down."

In spite of the coffee and the candy bar, Blair drifted back to sleep an hour later, his head still on Duncan's shoulder. Duncan watched Jim carefully for several miles, but the Sentinel slept soundly. The sun was up, and they'd be home in another hour or so. Duncan wondered what Jim would do when he figured out the dynamics of his and Blair's relationship, and how Blair would handle it. Duncan wondered if there really was a way to work all of this out. Blair seemed to have the man under control for now, and there was no doubt in his mind at how much Jim needed Blair. Perhaps there was hope for Jim Ellison's recovery. If anyone could put him back together, Blair could.


End Part 14

Part 15


Feedback? houseofslack@hos.slashcity.com