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
Duncan woke Blair with a light touch to his wrist.
"Wake up kiddo, we're almost home."
"Mmff, is Jim okay?"
"That's good, how are you? Exhausted?" Blair squinted at Duncan, sleepy concern and affection in the bright blue eyes.
Duncan smiled at him, thinking that the day Blair thought of himself first he'd swallow his sword. "I'm okay. Tired."
"Yeah, I bet, you drove all night. Thank you so much, Duncan."
Duncan shook his head dismissively, "It's no problem, Blair. I'm glad you let me come with you."
"Oh man, me, too. I could not have handled this alone, Duncan."
"All I did was drive, kiddo, you did all the hard stuff."
Blair turned to check on Jim, who was sleeping just as soundly as Duncan had said.
"Having you there really helped, though. Thank you, Duncan."
Blair smiled at Duncan, stretching until his back popped. He turned around again to study the sleeping Sentinel more carefully. He looked like he was going to have a crick in his neck, he was slumped against the door, his head on the armrest.
Blair spoke softly, "I should wake him up. Oh man, I'm not sure I'm ready for this. I know he's not."
"Hang in there, kiddo."
"Thanks. Hey, Jim, wake up. Wake up, buddy, we're here... Jim? Can you hear me buddy?"
"Hmm? Yeah, I'm awake. Where are we?"
"Um, we're at Duncan's place. We're gonna stay here for a while, okay?"
"Yeah, I guess so. Chief, what the hell happened?"
Blair looked at Duncan apprehensively.
"Um, let's go inside and talk about it there, okay, buddy? Let me help you," Blair jumped out, pulling the seat forward and helping Jim out of the car.
"Can you see at all, Jim?" Blair asked anxiously, putting his hand on the top of Jim's head to keep him from smacking it on the door frame as he lead him out of the back seat.
"Okay, just take it slow," Blair slipped his arm through Jim's, guiding him to the door Duncan was holding open for them. "There's a little step up here, careful. Okay, just straight ahead now. There's an elevator..."
Jim stopped when Blair did, standing very still next to his Guide. Duncan pulled the gate and turned the elevator key.
"Where are we, Chief? Some kind of warehouse?"
"No Jim, it's uh, a big building, a dojo. Duncan lives upstairs. We're gonna go up there and relax for a while."
"Chief, what's going on? Why are we here?'
"I told you big guy, you zoned, really badly, and we need to talk about it, try to get you back online, okay? Duncan just wants to help, right, Duncan?"
"Yeah, sure." Duncan smiled at Jim reassuringly, which was pointless, since Jim couldn't see him.
Blair guided Jim into the loft, staying close by his side, murmuring about furniture and lamps to avoid.
"Jim, can I get you anything?" Duncan was in the kitchen, putting a pot of coffee together for Blair.
"Some of that coffee would be great, when it's done."
"You got it. Are you hungry?"
Jim shook his head, "No, thanks, I'm really not."
"Okay, Jim, I want you to just relax here buddy, you're safe here, okay? Everything's going to be fine."
"You keep saying that saying that. What's going on, Chief? What happened?"
"That's what we're gonna try and figure out, Jim."
"You weren't there?" Jim sounded even more confused.
"No, I wasn't, I'm sorry, Jim."
"Jesus, Sandburg, where the hell were you? Isn't that supposed to be your job?"
Blair nodded, and Duncan wished that Jim could see the pain in his eyes. He watched quietly from the kitchen, wishing he could give Blair privacy, and glad that he couldn't at the same time.
"Yeah, you're right, Jim, it is my job. I was at school... And it took me a long time to get to you. I'm sorry, Jim, I'm really sorry."
Jim frowned, unhappy. Something about Blair's voice didn't sound right, but he wasn't lying. "What aren't you telling me here, partner? Come on, fill me in."
"I'd really rather have you remember on your own, Jim, it'd be better. Let's try and figure out exactly how much you can remember, okay?"
Jim sighed heavily, giving in, "Okay, but no tests."
"No tests right now, don't worry. Can you remember the last time you talked to Simon?"
Jim's frown deepened, trying to remember. "No, I guess I can't. That's not good. Are you sure I didn't get hit on the head, Chief?"
"Yeah, I'm sure."
"Can you remember the last case you worked on, Jim?"
"Umm, no, I can't."
"Can you try and tell you me what you do remember?"
"I don't know, Chief, just regular stuff. Umm... we went out for Chinese the other night..."
Blair thought back over the weeks before the night of Reiley's retirement party, trying to place Jim's memory.
"Okay, that's good, what happened after that?" Blair encouraged.
"Uh, I don't know, the usual, I think we went home and watched t.v. Blair, I'm confused. Don't you know?"
Then he did. Jim was talking about a night about a week before the night he'd left. Blair congratulated himself, at least he'd placed the point they had to work forward from.
"Yeah, Jim, I remember, but I want you to. I know you're really mixed up right now, just take this slow with me, okay? We watched that monster movie, and we talked about whether or not it was worth putting a new engine in the truck, remember?"
"Yeah," Jim nodded, and his voice was less vague. "I do, Chief, I remember. What happened after that?"
"I went to school early, we did some background checks at the station in the afternoon."
Blair was watching Jim very carefully, he noticed the muscle that clenched in his jaw immediately.
"Duncan, is that coffee ready?"
Duncan raised his eyebrows across the room at Blair because of the edge in Jim's voice, but he answered in as friendly a tone as he could manage.
"Sure is, Jim. How do drink it?"
Duncan brought Jim and Blair coffee, putting the cup carefully into Jim's hands.
Blair sat quietly for a minute, letting Jim drink his coffee. Duncan had wandered over to his desk. Blair knew he was doing his best to be unobtrusive, and he appreciated it greatly. He felt like he was walking through a mine field.
"That was a rough week, huh? We busted that art smuggling ring and Simon couldn't hold off SWAT and they blew into that warehouse and screwed it up, remember? That woman died, and you dislocated your shoulder... You got mad at me at the hospital, for following you in there... You said I wasn't a cop and if I wasn't going to carry a gun then you weren't going to have me tagging along into places where you could lose me..." Blair voice was deep and even, guiding Jim through memories that he knew were there.
"NO!" Jim shouted, getting to his feet, he took a step forward and banged his shin on the corner of the coffee table, hard.
"Shit!" Jim froze, his fists clenched at his sides, "Sandburg, this sucks, I don't want to talk about this anymore." Every muscle in his body was tense, so much so that he was shaking.
Blair was already around the coffee table and in front of the larger man, his hands going to his shoulders. "Okay, it's okay, we'll do this some other way, we don't have to talk about it, it's okay, Jim."
Duncan was standing next to his desk, watching Jim very carefully, obviously ready to jump him if he lashed out at Blair. Blair shook his head at Duncan furiously, continuing his soothing ramble, his hands pushing Jim gently back onto the couch. "Lets just deal with what you're feeling right now, big guy, okay? Tell me what's fading in and out and what's completely gone."
Blair spoke quietly, coaxing answers out of Jim, drawing him slowly back from the edge he'd almost gone over. Duncan watched, very aware that Blair had reached a critical point. He wouldn't let himself interfere, unless he had to. Blair was totally focussed on the Sentinel. Duncan watched, fascinated, as he gently extracted answers from Jim. He could almost see the connection between them.
"What about touch?"
"Distorted, like somebody keeps flipping the dial up and down."
"Okay, take a deep breath.. No, come on Jim, you can, just relax for a minute... That's it... Can you feel this?" Blair scraped his fingernail lightly across the back of Jim's hand.
"Okay, let's try something else..." Blair turned quickly to pull a button off his jacket, which he'd thrown over the arm of the couch. Bending the pin backwards he picked up Jim's hand, pressing the point against the skin between his thumb and forefinger. "Do you feel this?"
"No... wait, yeah, sort of. I think it's hot... Sandburg, if you're burning me I'll..."
"Relax, Jim, you know I wouldn't. Okay, so touch is really sketchy, tell me about vision, what are you seeing? Light? Black? Flashes?"
"Nothing, just, nothing... Blair, you have to help me..."
"Shh, we're gonna get there, buddy, just relax, give yourself some time... Let's try scent now, okay? What's on the table in front of you?"
Jim inhaled slowly, "Um... oranges, something metal, I think, yeah, money, change... And something that's yours... Leather, your gloves?"
"That's awesome, Jim, what else?"
"A book, it smells old... something... oil, not the table, on the right... it's not on the table, it's a whetstone, and oil, for sharpening knives. There's something, it's cloth, it smells like hair and sweat...but not yours..."
Jim's words stopped short, the muscle in his jaw fluttered.
"Talk to me, Jim..." Blair's voice was quietly commanding, but Jim was already gone. Blair knew a second later and moved closer, raising his voice a little.
"Don't go there man, come on, Jim, don't zone on me man. I know you can hear me, listen to my voice, this isn't the way to go here, Jim, we can do this, buddy, come on, come back to me... Talk to me, Jim, it's gonna be okay..."
Sweat broke out across Jim's forehead, his hands balled into fists, he opened his eyes, but instead of seeing Blair he saw Duncan, his fist drawn back, dark eyes angry and determined. His gasped, and rocked back on the couch, his hand going to his side.
"Where is he!"
"Relax, Jim, it's okay, listen to me, it's Blair, it's okay, everything's alright..."
"Yeah, I know, Jim, it's okay, trust me..."
"Jim, you have to. Come on, just breath, relax, tell me what happened, what you remembered... I need to know, Jim, talk to me... I want to help you, Jim, please..."
Jim shook his head, sniffing the air suspiciously, tracking the enemy. He was moving, farther away... Jim tried to keep his mind focussed on the scent that had brought back the flash of fighting with Duncan MacLeod, tried to follow him around the room, but instead he saw the man dropping to a crouch before him, a tight smile on his face... It was too strong, the scent in his nostrils and the memory of pain... He let go.
"Fuck, come on Jim, you can't do this to me... I need you, Jim, pull yourself back, don't let go, come on... listen to me. Everything's okay. There isn't going to be any fighting, everything's all right, you and Duncan can work it out, it's gonna be okay... You don't have to do this, Jim... come on, man,
Blair raised his voice a little, "Duncan, get out of here. Go downstairs."
"Do it! Now. Please,"
Blair wasn't even looking at him, he was bent over the Sentinel, his hands on Jim's shoulders, speaking to him in a quiet, urgent voice.
Duncan realized it was his presence that would make the zoned Sentinel violent, and that without him here Blair was in no danger from Jim Ellison. He'd watched the way Jim responded to Blair long enough to know that Jim would never willingly hurt his Guide.
"I'll be downstairs," Duncan told Blair quietly, going to the back door and down the steps to the dojo.
"Thank you," Blair called softly, his attention returning immediately to Jim.
"Come on, buddy, it's just you and me now, we're alone. Come back to me, Jim, it's Blair, I'm right here, listen to my voice, Jim... You don't want to stay there, I know you don't, come on back to me, buddy. I'm not gonna let you do this, Jim, I need you here. Hear my voice, man, follow it..."
Jim opened his eyes, and saw his hands, clenched into fists in his lap. Four months of memory flooded his brain. He'd hit Blair... And Blair had left him. He remembered everything, the loneliness and the zones, going down to Seacouver, and fighting Duncan MacLeod, and everything he'd done after that...
"Oh God..." Jim groaned softly, his hands coming up to cover his face. "Chief... where are we?"
"Seacouver. Duncan's loft. Take it easy, big guy, talk to me here, what's going on in there? What are your senses doing?"
"They're back, everything. Oh, God, Chief..." A sharp, painful sob broke from Jim's chest. "I hit you..."
"It's okay, buddy, I forgive you, I'm right here, everything's gonna be okay, Jim."
"Please, Blair, tell me I'm wrong..."
"It's okay, Jim..."
"Blair! Why did you come? Why did you stop me? I hurt you... I kicked you out.. Oh, God, Blair, please come back. I need you. I need you so bad, Chief."
"I'm right here, buddy, it's okay," Blair moved closer, wrapping his arms around Jim's shoulders.
Jim didn't take his hands from his face, he was crying, he couldn't help it. He saw it all over again, the scene in Blair's apartment, when Blair had shouted the truth at him and Jim had hit him... He'd thrown his Guide viciously against the wall, and then he'd tried to strangle him. Oh Jesus, and Duncan MacLeod had stopped him...
"Blair, why did you come? What are doing? You should leave me alone. I deserve everything that's happened."
"No, Jim, don't... It's gonna be okay, we're gonna work this out..." Blair held onto Jim tightly, not letting him go when he tried to get up.
"Blair, what the hell am I doing in his house?"
"Duncan wants to help, Jim, it's okay. You guys are going to come to terms with all this shit, we're going to work it out..."
"You're telling me the man that tried to kill me wants to be my friend? He took you away from me, I don't even want to have to talk to him, Blair. I need to get the hell out of here..." Jim was up and heading for the door before Blair could stop him.
"Wait, please, Jim, just talk to me for a minute, please? We can go somewhere else in a bit if you want to, but just wait, man, look at me. It's going to be okay, Jim. I promise. I wouldn't have brought you here if I didn't think we could all handle it. It's going to be fine, you and Duncan aren't going to fight anymore."
Jim stopped, sitting back down on the couch. He couldn't leave Blair. He took a deep breath, "Blair, I don't think I can handle this..."
"Yes, you can. He's not here right now. We need to talk, Jim. You scared the shit out of me last night... Why?"
Jim shook his head his eyes on his hands in his lap, "I can't live without you. I'm an asshole. I'm a liar. I'd rather die than face everything I've done to you..."
"No, Jim, you don't have to... You can forgive yourself, I can forgive you... And you don't have to live without me, we just have to work through this... Please, don't walk out on me, Jim. I want to help you..."
"How can you forgive me? I've never done anything but treat you like shit. I didn't have the guts to admit how important you are to me, I shut you out, I bossed you around, I took everything out on you... And all that time, I was trying not to feel it. I was a coward, I wouldn't admit what I wanted... I wanted you. I need you Blair, please, can we go home? I want you back so badly, partner. I'm not worth shit without you."
"I forgive you because I want to, I want us to be friends again, Jim, I want to be your Guide..."
"Then come home with me. Please..."
"Jim, you want to pretend that none of this ever happened. You want to pretend that I never jumped you and you never hit me and that you and Duncan never tried to kill each other and you never put a gun to your head... You can't do that, Jim, and we can't go back, we can only go forward from here. This is my life, I love Duncan, Jim. I love him and I can't leave him, but I love you too, and I don't want to lose you, man... What I'm saying here is that you're still my Sentinel and I'm still your Guide, if you'll let it be that way. We can find a solution, Jim, I know we can."
Jim sat back on the couch, pulling away from Blair and covering his eyes with his hand again. He didn't want to think about life without Blair at all. He didn't want to be here.
"Blair, I don't want to do this without you."
"You don't have to, buddy. We can find a way to work this out, Cascade is not that far away."
"What do want to do, work out some kind of joint custody deal here?" Ellison's voice was angry. "Blair, listen to me! I need you. He can live without you Blair, I can't. I need you back, Chief, please, do this for me..."
"Jim, you're asking me to give up my whole life, everything I've worked for... I love this man, Jim. I want to spend the rest of my life with him, this is it, the real thing. I've been waiting my whole life for this."
"So that's it, you got your dissertation and that's it, four years, just like that? You've found the love of your life and we're through?"
Blair moved closer, his hand going to Jim's forearm. "Jim, please. You're not listening to me here. I am your Guide. Nothing that happens to me is going to change that. What happened with us... Please, Jim, let me talk about it. Even if you can't, just listen to me, Jim. That night, I wanted you so badly, I wanted you to know what I'd been going through, all that time. I wanted you to feel what I felt. Jumping you like that was really, really wrong, Jim, a total violation of your trust and our friendship. I wanna ask you to forgive me. I'm sorry, Jim. I should have been honest with you. But man, I had it for you so bad, Jim. I think knowing you'd clock me is the only thing that kept me from jumping you on a daily basis, that and wanting your respect. And that night, I was just really drunk..."
Jim startled Blair, raising both hands to his Guide's face and cupping his cheeks to hold him still, Jim leaned forward, sealing his lips over Blair's. Blair didn't move for at least ten seconds. The first five were pure shock, it was the very last thing he'd expected Jim to do. Then the feeling of Jim's lips moving slowly over his registered in Blair's brain, and for a moment he melted against Jim, feeling the strong arms go around him to pull him close.
Jim made a small sound of surprise and pleasure, and his arms tightened, pulling Blair up against his chest. Reason returned, and with it fear and determination. Blair squirmed, dragging himself out of Jim's embrace.
"Jim! Wait, no. I can't. This isn't right, Jim, you don't want this."
"Yes, I do! Blair, please, just listen to me. I've been the biggest idiot in the world for four years. It took losing you to get it through my thick skull that you are more important than anything to me. I don't care what people think, I don't care what happens. Please, Blair, tell me it's not too late."
"Oh God, Jim, it's not that easy. We need to deal with this. Jim, less than twenty four hours ago you put a gun to your head. Why? Because you couldn't deal with this, to the extent that death seemed like the most reasonable option. I know you man, that's not you. What happened just now, that's not the answer, Jim. Listen to me, don't start shutting me out, man. You've been without a Guide for almost four months. This obviously has detrimental effects on your psyche. We need to talk about this, a lot."
"Blair..." Jim's hand came up between them and stopped an inch away from Blair's cheek. He cleared his throat, his hand falling back into his lap. He looked away from Blair quickly, there were tears in his eyes, "Blair... I've lost every person I ever cared about because I don't know how to say how I feel. I spent my whole life alone, pushing people away from me and being angry at them when they left... And then I got you, and you are absolutely the best thing that has ever happened to me, Chief, and I hate who I am when you're not there. I was one cold, cynical, son of a bitch, and then you showed up and I had to trust you on the spot, I didn't have any choice..."
Blair laughed gently, "Yeah, but you didn't like it very much."
Jim shook his head, "I've never trusted anyone like that before, Blair. And you know what? You never let me down, partner, not once. No matter how much of an asshole I was, you put up with me. I would do anything to get you back, Blair, I swear..."
"Jim, we can't go back, buddy, only forward. I want you to believe me here, I want you to trust me. You are not going to lose me, but I can't leave Duncan, and honestly, Jim, I don't think that's the solution. You're straight. No, I'm not saying you're lying, I'm not saying it's not there... But how do you know it's not because you've been separated from your Guide? How do you know it's not a natural Sentinel/Guide thing that you've been in total denial of? I don't think facing your feelings is the thing that pushed you right over the edge, I think it was separation from your Guide. I was an idiot to think you could do this alone. We need some answers here, buddy. I wanna help you, Jim. Please, just trust me."
Jim took a deep breath, and forced himself to move away from Blair. He got up to pace the room, noticing the layout of Duncan's loft for the first time. He went to the coffee pot on the counter and refilled his mug. Coming back, he sat down in the chair across from Blair, running his hand through his short hair, he took a deep breath, and met Blair's eyes.
"Do you have a plan?"
And as soon as Jim said it, it came to him. "Yeah, you're moving to Seacouver."
"You heard me."
End Part 15