Attention: This is an ALTERNATE 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 looked up from the weights he was putting back onto the rack when he heard the elevator gate. Jim walked over to him slowly, looking around the dojo with interest.
"Thanks. How are you doing?"
"I've had better days. Look, Duncan, do think it'd be possible for you and me to sit down and talk about all this?"
"Yeah, of course. Um, you wanna talk here, or go back upstairs?"
"Here is good."
Duncan put the last of the weights on the rack and dropped down cross legged on the work out mat laid down on the floor, motioning for Jim to join him. Jim sat, looking at Duncan intently before he spoke.
"I owe you an apology."
"Apology accepted. But I would like to know... What the hell were you thinking? You could have killed him," Duncan tried to keep the anger out of his voice.
Jim shook his head, his hand coming up to cover his eyes for a moment. "I owe you his life, which is worth a hell of a lot more than mine. I don't know... I was seriously out of my head. Thank you, MacLeod."
"Yeah, well, you seem to be more in control now," Duncan smiled, telling himself that this wasn't really that hard, he could do it, for Blair.
Jim chuckled, "Yeah, barely. Duncan, I don't know where we can go from here, but I don't want to be your enemy."
"Look, Jim, I want you to know that I understand this Sentinel/Guide thing, I know what Blair is to you... I'm not going to stand in the way of that, as long as you don't hurt him."
"So you think that we can find some kind of solution here?" Jim looked uncertainly at the man Blair loved. If Blair loved him, there had to be something worth liking about this guy.
Duncan nodded, taking a deep breath, "I think we can."
"I appreciate that, Duncan. I don't know if I'd be this willing to bury the hatchet after the way I went off... I know you're doing this for Blair, but I appreciate it anyway."
Duncan grinned at him, admitting the truth of Jim's statement with his smile. "He's hard to say no to."
Jim laughed, "He sure as hell is."
"Do you mind if I use those weights? I've got some thinking to do."
Duncan nodded in agreement and understanding, "Go right ahead. I'm going back upstairs to shower and collapse. The keys for the elevator are over there on the bench. Lock it when you come back up."
"Okay. Duncan, I think I misjudged you."
"Yeah, well, neither of us made very good first impressions," Duncan grinned at Jim over his shoulder, heading for the elevator. Once inside he relaxed, thinking that it had gone a great deal better than he'd expected his first conversation with a cognizant Jim Ellison to. It hadn't been that hard, after all, to offer his forgiveness. Duncan knew what it was to get lost in your own darkness, to be consumed by your fears. He had a entirely different perspective on the Sentinel after watching him with Blair over the past twenty four hours.
Blair was waiting for him upstairs, sitting on the couch drinking coffee, his fingers typing rapidly on his laptop. "Hi. Gimme a sec, almost done," Blair mumbled, finishing his thought and closing the screen.
"You're going to crash eventually, you know," Duncan told him affectionately, going over to stand behind the couch, his hands massaging Blair's shoulders.
"You're the one who hasn't had any sleep, I slept in the car. So, how did it go? Did you guys talk?" Blair craned his neck back to look up at Duncan expectantly.
"Yeah, a little," Duncan gave Blair a tired smile. He wanted a shower and his bed, badly, but he wanted to make sure that Blair was okay before he slept.
Blair was still looking up at him expectantly. "How much is a little?"
"Blair..." Duncan sighed, getting a better grip on his patience. It wasn't his lover's fault that he was exhausted and cranky. "He apologized, I accepted. I told him I wouldn't try to prevent you from being his Guide, as long as he can refrain from trying to strangle you. I think we're going to work on being friends. Can I take a shower now?"
"Oh. Okay, um, sure, yeah man, no problem," Blair gave him a dazzling smile and went immediately back to his typing.
Don't panic, Blair told himself. Definitely plan B
then, he'd have to tell Duncan about Jim moving into the building himself.
That might go better with some careful planning. Blair gauged Duncan's
mood, and decided to buy himself some time. Jim was pumping iron downstairs,
and would be at it for at least an hour, and Duncan was ready to fall over.
This was looking like a dinner conversation. Blair sighed, trying to tell
himself that it wouldn't be that bad, he'd just have to keep bridging the
gap. Still, he wasn't looking forward to breaking the news to Duncan.
Jim lay on his back on the bench, all of his concentration on the bar that his arms raised and lowered with smooth, perfect control. This was the closest he ever got to meditation, although the burn of weightlifting was far from an out of body experience. He was calm, though, calmer than he'd been since the night Blair had left. He wasn't really sure if he'd actually just agreed to moving to Seacouver and living here or not. Blair had spent the last two hours talking him into it, and Jim had to admit, it wasn't as brainless an idea as it had originally sounded.
The truth was, he really didn't have any other options. They'd talked for a long time about everything that had happened over the time that Blair was gone. Talking to Blair about everything had forced him to see just how far out of his head he'd been. It scared the hell out him that he'd lost that much control over who he was without even realizing it. When Blair had left that night, he'd been so angry. There had been so much rage, and he'd held on to it, for weeks. Day in and day out after Blair left, anger was what got him through the day. He held on to it, so he wouldn't have to face everything else he felt. He couldn't see what it was doing to him, how it was changing him. Jim realized now that he really had lost himself when Blair left him. All that was left was anger, and he fed off it, letting it take him over. He also realized that by the time he got to Seacouver he'd been completely out of control. He really did feel like he was somebody else without Blair, certainly not the Sentinel of a great city.
Jim set the bar down, rolling to a sitting position. Getting up he put seventy five pounds on the curl bar Duncan had left on the floor next to the bench for him. Sitting on the edge of the bench, he put an elbow on each knee, and reached down for the bar. His back perfectly straight, Jim curled slowly, concentrating on the rhythm and pull of his muscles.
Blair had done a good job of convincing him that a Sentinel couldn't be separated from his Guide. He obviously needed Blair. It was still hard to believe that he'd actually put a gun to his head, but he knew he had. The ramifications of all this were just starting to sink in, and it sounded like a nightmare. Going back to Cascade and dealing with the consequences and repercussions of his actions didn't sound pleasant, not at all. Still, it was his life, and Blair was asking him to give it all up. No, that wasn't true, he wasn't asking him to do anything, he was only offering to help, on his own terms.
Totally non-negotiable ones. Jim knew he was going to have to accept the fact that Blair loved Duncan, and wouldn't go back to Cascade with him no matter what he said. It wasn't easy. He couldn't blame Blair for not being willing to come back, he'd treated him like shit, and he knew it. It still hurt so much to admit that he'd really hurt Blair, that he'd put his hands around him throat. He didn't want to think about it, but his brain kept throwing it back at him.
Jim had no idea what he'd do here, if he gave up his badge and moved to Seacouver to be with Blair. Not with Blair, not like he wanted, he was going to have to take a back seat to Duncan MacLeod. He didn't blame Blair, he'd kicked him out on his ass, and said some unforgivable things. Duncan seemed to make him happy, much happier than he ever had, he knew he treated him a lot better. The way he looked at him, it was obvious the guy loved Blair. He owed him a hell of a lot, he knew that could have killed Blair that day in his apartment if Duncan hadn't stopped him. It hurt like hell to admit it, but it was the truth. He'd made an honest effort to patch things up just now, and even if it was only for Blair's sake, it was more than he would have done if the tables were turned. The fact that he was protective of Blair made Jim crazy, but it also told him that he wasn't really an asshole. Jim had to admit that the only real cause for anger he had against Duncan was jealousy.
He couldn't believe he'd really kissed Blair. It hadn't been bad. Actually, it had felt incredible. To hold Blair in his arms like that after all this time. Just thinking about it filled him with so much longing that all he wanted to do was go back upstairs and wrap his arms around Blair and beg him to come home and start all over again. He knew that wasn't an option, but what the hell was he supposed to do with the need for his Guide that he had finally admitted to? So maybe Blair was right, and it had nothing to do with sexuality or whether he was straight or not, that it was just a Sentinel/Guide thing. One that he'd been repressing for four years because he was to hung up to deal with it. Did that make it any less real? What was he supposed to do now, just turn it off? If he knew how to do that he never would have ended up sitting on the edge of his bed with the Sig Saur under his chin.
Did Blair really think that they could deal with this? He knew that Blair's role as his Guide had pretty much denied him of a life for the past four years, and he didn't want to do that again, but was there a solution to any of this? Where would he live? And what the hell would he do for a living? What would life be like here? He didn't know, but Blair thought it was what he should do, and when it came down to it, it wasn't really like he had any other options. He needed his Guide, plain and simple. Talking over everything with Blair, going over everything that had happened since Jim had kicked him out, had convinced him of that. Living without Blair was like living in a vacuum.
If walking away from his life, or rather the mess he'd
made of it, was what he had to do to get his Guide back, then there really
wasn't any choice involved. Jim had curled his arms until they felt like
rubber. He set the bar down heavily, wiping sweat out of his eyes with
the back of his hand. Why the hell couldn't he just have a normal mid-life
crisis like everybody else?
Blair was in the kitchen cooking when Jim came back upstairs. It was strange to be welcomed by the smell of Blair's pot roast, Jim had to remind himself that this was Blair's home.
Blair spoke quietly, motioning to Duncan sleeping at the other end of the room. "You probably want a shower, let me get some clothes for you. Dinner should be close to ready by the time you get out."
"Thanks. Smells really good."
Jim had missed Blair's food almost as much as he'd
missed Blair. He took the clothes that Blair pulled out his backpack for
him and headed to the bathroom. Walking quietly past Duncan asleep in his
bed was a little unsettling, but he told himself he had to relax if he
was going to trust his Guide.
Blair poured a cup of coffee from the pot he'd made, carrying it over to the bed where Duncan was sleeping. He stood looking down at his lover for a moment, praying to any God that felt friendly. If this didn't work, he didn't know what he was going to do.
"Duncan, wake up, handsome. I need to talk to you."
"Hmm?" Duncan rolled over, reaching for the cup Blair held out to him automatically.
Duncan sat up in bed, taking a long sip of coffee. Blair sat down on the bed next to him, he looked serious and nervous.
"Okay, I'm awake, Caro. Talk to me."
"I think I've figured out a solution to all of this, but I'm really afraid that you're not going to like it."
"What's the solution?"
"Well, see, Duncan, we need to move Jim to Seacouver."
Duncan's mouth opened, he inhaled a deep breath, and Blair could see him getting ready to object, strongly. He held up his hands, speaking fast so Duncan didn't have a chance to.
"No, wait, just listen to me for a minute, man. This is what I've figured out: A Sentinel and a Guide cannot be separated, it's a fatal move on the Sentinel's part. He needs the Guide for protection, balance, stability and security. Without it, he's going to go right over the edge. Historically, when one Guide died, he was replaced with another, but as far as Jim goes, man, I'm it. He doesn't have a choice. Leaving you is like soo not an option. I love you more than anybody ever, I'm fairly determined to grow old with you, Duncan. I'm not giving you up. So, we need to move Jim here."
Duncan sighed, and looked extremely skeptical, "How is that going to work, Blair? Be realistic,"
Blair interrupted him, "You have to admit, Duncan, the man you've been around for the past twenty four hours is not the same person who threatened my life. Jim is totally aware of how out of control he was. He's carrying around so much damn guilt over it he put a gun to his head."
Duncan was quiet, drinking his coffee. Blair let him think about it, getting a little nervous when Duncan didn't say anything for a little while. He was patient, waiting for Duncan to talk to him. Finally, he did, taking Blair's hand on top of the blankets.
"I don't want to lose you either, Blair, and you're right, he has seemed like a different person. You've been right about all of this so far, I still can't figure out how you knew he was in trouble when you did. So, I guess I'm willing to give this a try, but I need to know a little more of what you have in mind."
Blair gave him an irresistible smile, and confessed, "Well, actually, I've been taking this one step at a time. It's worked up until now, so why change?"
Duncan laughed, squeezing Blair's hand. "Okay, so what's the next step?"
"Dinner," Blair's smile broadened, and then he leaned forward into Duncan's arms, kissing him in a way that said thank you, and I love you, and I want you all at once.
Duncan let Blair out of his arms reluctantly when the kiss ended, getting up to change his clothes. Blair was watching him approvingly, thinking that he was a very, very lucky man.
"So, we're all going to sit down and have a nice, relaxed meal together and talk about this, okay?"
Duncan nodded, pulling a clean t shirt from his dresser
drawer. "Okay, sounds like a good idea."
Standing under the hot shower spray, Jim thought about
the solution his Guide had come up with. Blair had never been wrong before.
This wouldn't be the first time he went out on a limb because Blair said
it was the right thing to do. This kid had saved his life for God sakes.
How had Blair known? Blair had only shrugged his shoulders when
he asked him, answering 'I just did, man.' Jim figured that if Sandburg
couldn't figure it out it wasn't likely that he was going to. Standing
there alone, he remembered what the gun had felt like against his throat,
and he shuddered, afraid. He would have never, ever thought that he was
the kind of person that would consider taking his own life. That sort of
thought had been bred out of him, quitting was not an option. He had though,
and it wasn't hard to see that if he didn't take Blair's offer, and move
to Seacouver, it wouldn't be long before he was right back there.
Duncan and Blair were standing at the kitchen counter kissing when Jim walked out of the bathroom. Blair noticed him first, and pulled quickly out of the embrace, blushing slightly.
"Hi. Dinner's ready."
Jim swallowed, and made himself answer, "That's great, Chief, I'm starving."
Duncan was leaning on the countertop, he looked relaxed and genuinely concerned, "How are you doing, Jim?"
"I'm hanging in there. That's a beautiful dojo you own. How long you had it?"
"Almost six years. You're welcome to work out whenever you want to, there's a locker room down there as well."
Blair was putting his pot roast onto plates for them, he handed Jim his, motioning to the table. He and Duncan hardly ever ate at the table, he rarely even noticed it was there, but he'd decided that getting the three of them to sit down at a table together was a good start.
Duncan took his plate, sitting across from Jim and leaving Blair the chair between them at the head of the table. Jim realized that he was starving and attacked his pot roast. It was delicious, but the taste brought back such vivid memories of eating dinner with Blair at home that it was hard to swallow around the lump in his throat. Blair picked at his food, a little nervous and trying to find a way to get them talking.
Duncan looked at his lover pushing his fork around his plate and rose, going to the refrigerator to get them each a beer. Sitting down again, he looked across the table at Jim, "So Jim, Blair thinks that moving you to Seacouver is the way to go here, what do you think?"
Jim reached for his beer, taking a long swallow before he answered, "Sandburg knows what he's doing. If he says I move to Seacouver if I want to keep my sanity, then I guess that's what I do. I can't expect him to give up his life to be my Guide, and I need him, so I guess it's not like I have a whole lot of choice. I don't know what the hell I'm going to do here... But I guess I can take some time to figure that out."
Blair was looking back and forth between them, beaming, Duncan smiled back at him, and then turned back to Jim, "I'm glad you're willing to trust him." It impressed him, that Jim was willing to take that big a risk, he thought quietly for a few minutes, and then turned back to Blair.
"Tell me about how you think this works, kiddo. Is it a matter of distance, or time, or both?"
Blair cocked his head, formulating a reply, "Both. After we determine that his senses are fully back to normal, we can do some controlled tests and establish some perimeters. For now, I want to work on trying to wean him, so to speak, work on spending gradually increasing periods of time apart and see how it goes. He's going to have to find someplace close to live, both for convenience and because I'm sure long distance separation has a lot to do with it, too."
"Would the third floor work?"
Blair's eyes lit up and his mouth fell open.
"Congratulations, MacLeod, that's a first. I've never seen him speechless."
Duncan laughed, nodding at Jim across the table, "Looks good on him."
Blair blushed, and shut his mouth.
Duncan decided to take matters into his own hands, "So, Jim, what do you think, how does that sound to you? It's all storage space right now, but it could easily be turned into a loft in a week or so."
Jim shook his head in amazement, "After everything I've done, you're offering to let me live in your building?"
"Well, I kinda assumed you'd pay rent, but yeah, basically."
"Oh man, Duncan you are brilliant!" Blair jumped out of his chair to hug Duncan excitedly. "This is gonna work, this is really gonna work."
Jim shrugged, "I think I'm outvoted. Is a membership to the dojo included in the lease?"
Duncan laughed through the mop of hair attached to his neck and agreed, "Sure, no problem."
Blair suddenly realized he'd jumped Duncan in front of Jim and slid back to his chair, red faced. The two men seemed to be solving the problem without him, they were already talking about what kind of plumbing and electrical work would have to be done, and how much space Jim would want. This was a lot better than he'd hoped for, fantastic, actually. Maybe he hadn't given either of them enough credit, because they seemed to be doing just fine with this.
When they'd finished Blair got them all a second beer, going to sit on the couch between his lover and his Sentinel.
"You know, Chief, Simon's gonna kill you."
Blair drank from his bottle, then nodded, "I know. But man, you've been a cop for almost ten years, you're ready to do something else, I know you are. It's really hard on you, Jim, I mean, on your senses, too. Constant stress, almost constant danger, I know you're gonna say it's what you're made for, but man, you have so much more than that in you."
Jim raised his eyebrows, considering what Blair had said, "Do you really think so, Chief? I'm not at all sure I could get a transfer onto the force here, with the suspension and all... I'm not even sure I want to. I don't know, I'm gonna have to think about it."
"In the mean time, if you want something to do, I bet I've got at least a couple of classes you'd be qualified to teach downstairs."
Jim nodded, thinking that Duncan was doing a hell of a lot to try to help him. "Thanks, I don't know, I'll think about it, doesn't sound bad at all."
Blair looked at Duncan, "So, we can get started on Jim's place this week?"
"Yeah, sure, kiddo. Monday."
"Great, then we can go back to Cascade and move your stuff next weekend. It's like, totally up to you man, when you want to call Simon. I know I'd put it off as long as I could," Blair yawned, stretching out a little and leaning back against Duncan's arm on the back of the couch.
"Okay, Chief, I guess it's a plan. I gotta trust you, buddy."
Blair smiled, feeling like everything was finally right in his world. He yawned again, feeling his eyelids getting heavier, "Oh man, I think the beer just caught up with me. I'm so tired."
Duncan laughed, he'd been wondering all day when Blair's adrenaline would finally give up. "Go to bed, Caro, we're not going to kill each other."
"I think I have to, I'm falling asleep sitting here," Blair turned to Duncan, pressing a soft, quick kiss to him lips before dragging himself off the couch and over to bed. He crawled under the covers, listening to Duncan and Jim's quiet conversation.
"Duncan, I gotta tell you how much I appreciate what you're doing, being willing to forget everything that happened... You're really going out of your way to help me here, I don't know if I'd do this much for a guy who tried to kick my ass, I appreciate it."
Duncan smiled, but it wasn't really smug, just amused, "Yeah, well, I'm all for peaceful solutions. Don't worry about it, Jim, really. I love Blair, I'm going to do what ever I can to make life easier for him, besides, if you're not a cop, I'll like you a whole lot more," Duncan grinned, knocking his beer bottle against Jim's.
Duncan got up to get Jim blankets and a extra pillow from the linen closet in the bathroom.
"Here you go. Get some sleep, you look wiped out. The couch is actually pretty comfortable, just let me know if you need anything."
Jim took the pillow and blankets from Duncan, shaking his head, "Thanks, I'm fine. Goodnight."
Duncan walked around the loft, turning off most of the lights and dimming the tracks light in the kitchen down to an amber glow.
"Is this going to bother you?"
"No, it's fine," Jim took his socks off, stretching out on the couch. He realized Duncan had been thinking about his senses, and how strange it was to have someone other than Blair's concern.
Duncan went to the bookshelf, picking a book of short stories to read. He took it to bed, taking off his jeans and shirt and getting under the covers with Blair in his boxers. He turned on the small lamp beside the bed, turning on his side with his back facing Blair to block the light, but his lover was dead to the world, sleeping as soundly as Blair ever did.
Jim lay awake for a long time, trying not to think about Duncan and Blair in bed together, just a few feet away. He listened to the familiar sound of Blair's sleeping heart rate, tuning in to it hungrily. He'd missed it so much. It was the hardest thing to do without, the sound of his Guide's heart beating. Every minute or so Duncan turned a page of his book, or shifted on the bed, rustling the covers. His heartbeat echoed against the sound of Blair's, a quiet counter beat that he had to remind himself had every reason to be there.
He didn't think he'd be able to sleep, but before he knew it he felt himself drifting off, thinking about how good it had been to see Blair smile at him again.
End Part 16