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 sat in the waiting room while the doctor looked at Blair. He thought about the attack that the young man had suffered, angry that this was still happening, especially on campus. He had already decided against trying to get Blair to go to the police. He had a strong feeling that Blair would refuse, and that it might have something to do with Jim, the person he had talked about so much.
He wondered what had happened to cause Blair to leave Cascade, and the person he called his partner (but not like that), although Blair certainly wasn't a cop. He still thought it would be a good idea to call Detective Ellison, but Blair had been adamant, and he couldn't bring himself to go against the young man's wishes.
"Hi." Blair stood in front of him, coat in hand, swaying slightly on his feet.
"What did they say?"
"I have bruised ribs and bruised lots of other things, but I can go home."
Duncan smiled. "That's good. You don't look very steady on your feet. Do you want to sit here and wait while I get the car?"
"No, they gave me these muscle relaxers." Blair gave Duncan a goofy grin. "I am, like, feeling no pain, man."
Duncan chuckled, steadying Blair with a hand on his elbow. "That's good. What did they say about stairs and driving?"
"Umm, I forgot to ask. They didn't tell me not to do anything." Blair giggled. "Well, actually, they did, but I don't think it's going to be a big problem. Oh, and she said to stay in bed as much as possible for a couple of days, which I can definitely handle."
Duncan laughed at the dopey version of the person he'd met an hour ago. "Come on, let's get you out of here."
"That sounds really good to me, man. It's freezing in here. I hate the paper thing they make you wear."
"Uh-huh. You sure all they gave you was muscle relaxers?"
"Oh yeah, I'm normally like this."
Duncan guided Blair out the emergency room doors, smiling at the paramedic that held the door for them.
"The car's across the street. Can I put you up against this wall for a couple of minutes?"
"Yeah, sure. This looks good."
Duncan shook his head, watching Blair melt against the wall. "I'll be back in a minute."
" 'kay, I'll be here."
Blair slept through the ride back to the loft. Duncan made the decision to take him home with him when Blair fell asleep trying to give him directions to his apartment.
Pulling up to his spot at the dojo, Duncan tried to wake his passenger gently.
"Blair? Hey, kiddo, wake up, we're home."
"Home?" Very confused, sleepy blue eyes looked up at him.
"My home. Come on, you can sleep on the couch. There's no stairs."
Blair was drifting back to sleep.
"Come on buddy, let's get you inside." Duncan shook his arm gently.
"Mmm, 'kay." Blair raised him arms, waiting for Duncan to pick him up.
Duncan chuckled. "Okay, I guess you can be carried inside. Here, hold on." Duncan walked around to Blair's side of the car, lifting him carefully.
"Shh, it's okay. Stay still."
Blair put his head down on Duncan's shoulder, only vaguely aware of what he was seeing.
"Where are we?"
"It's a dojo, I live here."
Blair didn't say anything else, he closed his eyes, appearing to go right back to sleep in Duncan's arms. Duncan managed to get them as far as the elevator without too many problems, but he was at a loss for how to close the elevator gate without letting go of Blair. Finally, he wedged his burden against the near corner of the elevator wall, holding him up with one arm, and pulled the gate down with the other.
Blair's eyes sprang open at the jerk of the gears. "Where?"
"Elevator, almost there."
"Oh, okay. Why are you being so nice to me?"
"You're not hard to be nice to. Whoa..." Duncan caught him as he swayed. "We're here."
Blair looked around groggily. "It's like home."
"I'm glad you like it." Duncan guided Blair over to the couch, pulling his coat off of him carefully. "Do you want anything besides a blanket and a pillow? Water? Tea?"
Blair shook his mop of hair, curling up carefully on his side.
"Just like home," he mumbled again, his eyes drifting shut.
"Really?" Duncan asked the beautiful, sleeping young man on his couch. He didn't expect an answer, but he stood there another minute, looking down at him.
Blair didn't stir when he was covered with a thick quilt Duncan pulled out of the chest at the foot of his bed for him. Duncan pushed a pillow gently under his house guest's mop of hair and left him to sleep.
Going into the kitchen, Duncan put on water for tea. He was tired, but he wanted to stay up for a little while and make sure that his patient would sleep through the night. Going to his desk, he pulled out that month's account book for the dojo. He could sit at the counter and go over the books without disturbing Blair.
It was almost two hours later when Duncan closed the big blue book. The accounts were balanced for another month, and things were even looking up, a little. On the couch, Blair threw off his covers, moaning.
Duncan went quickly to the side of the couch. "Easy buddy, you're okay." He didn't want Blair to be frightened when he woke up in a strange place.
"Jim?" Blair sounded so happy, as if he wanted very badly to believe that he was right.
Duncan frowned, he was starting to get mad at this Jim guy, who didn't want Blair around anymore. "No, I'm sorry Blair, it's Duncan. Did you have a nightmare?"
"No, it hurts," Blair moaned, opening his eyes. "Duncan? Oh, I remember. Hi. I'm sorry, am I keeping you awake?"
"Hey, slow down a little, okay? Do you want one of those muscle relaxers they gave you at the hospital?"
"Okay, hold on, I'll get them for you. In your jacket, right?"
"Oh man, I'm sorry, you don't have to wait on me, I can get them."
"Stay." Duncan gave him a mock fierce look.
Blair smiled meekly. "Okay. Thank you."
"Would you like some tea?"
"Here are the pills. Do you take sugar?"
"Depends, what kind of tea?"
"Oooh, wow, don't do anything to it."
Duncan grinned, pouring Blair a cup. He carried it back to the couch, sitting on the coffee table and handing it to him.
"This smells better than anything." Blair took his mug in both hands, inhaling appreciatively. Transferring the steaming mug to his left hand and resting it on his knee, Blair popped the cap off the amber plastic bottle. He shook out a small white pill into his palm, making a face at it.
Duncan watched Blair take the pill, blowing on his tea several times. "Do you want to talk about what happened? You said you thought you knew them."
Blair looked down, shaking his head. "No, but I think they were probably the ones who smashed my window last week. At least I hope so, I'd rather it just end here."
"But you have no guarantee that it will." Duncan told him gently. "What are you going to do if the harassment doesn't stop? Hate crimes usually do escalate, and this was pretty serious."
Blair blushed, shrugging his shoulders. Duncan was a little confused, if Blair was "out" on campus, and that was the reason he was being attacked, then why did it embarrass him for Duncan to mention it?
"I guess I'm just not ready to deal with it. I'll worry about it tomorrow." Blair shifted, trying to get comfortable without putting weight or strain on any of his bruised parts, which was virtually impossible.
"Okay, Scarlet, no problem." Duncan teased him.
"That's me man, que sera sera..." Blair's eyes closed for a minute. Duncan could tell he was in pain, he wished there was something he could do about it.
"Don't talk if it hurts."
"No, it's not that bad. You know, actually, this is the second time I've had my ribs taped."
Duncan raised his eyebrows, but Blair didn't say anything else. "What happened?"
"Oh, this guy shot me, but I was wearing a vest, so it only bruised my ribs. Freaked me out really badly though."
Duncan smiled, intrigued. He wanted to ask Blair a dozen more questions, but he didn't want to keep him up if he could sleep. "Sounds awful."
"Yeah, and I didn't even get to rest afterwards, either. Gosh, have I even thanked you for taking care of me like this? Or for coming to my rescue in the first place?"
Duncan smiled at him, nodding. "You have, several times."
"So do you just go around rescuing anthropologists on a regular basis, or what?"
"You're an anthropologist?" Duncan realized he was becoming more and more intrigued with the strange person on his couch.
"Uh-huh, I finished my thesis three months ago."
Right before Jim didn't want you around anymore, Duncan thought quickly. He wondered if the two were related.
"What was the subject?"
"Jim." Blair's smile was sad.
Even though the thesis was finished, had been published for several months now, Blair still felt as if he was doing something wrong, talking about Jim's Sentinel abilities.
"You don't have to tell me about it if you don't want to Blair." Duncan was afraid he had said something to upset the melancholy little person he had rescued.
"No, it's stupid, I mean, it's published and everything. It just feels weird to talk about it, 'cause we kept it a secret for a really long time. Um, okay... Jim is a Sentinel. He has dramatically heightened sensory perception, of all five of his senses. He's sort of like a walking crime lab, which is one of the reasons he wanted to keep it a secret. I found him four years ago. It was like, this tremendous coincidence, my subject just sort of fell in my lap, when nobody even believed there was such a thing."
"You're a student of Richard Burton?"
"Not really, he's more like my idol. You know Sir Richard Burton's work? That's amazing."
Duncan hid a smile. Actually, he had known Richard Burton himself, but telling someone like Blair that might be dangerous. "I'm familiar with it, yeah. So you're saying your friend has hyperactive senses?"
"Uh-huh, he developed them in Peru. He was an Army ranger, and his helicopter crashed, he was the only survivor and he spent eighteen months in the jungle."
"That's quite a story."
"Yeah, I know."
"So you finished your thesis, and Jim wanted you to leave?"
"No, not exactly, he was going to let me stay... then I screwed up. Um, I'm sorry, I don't think I want to talk about it anymore. Is that okay?"
"Of course it is, I'm the one who should be sorry. I have no right to be asking you such personal questions."
"No, I don't feel that way about it at all. You know more about me than anybody else in Seacouver at this point. I just don't want to think about it. Tell me about the dojo?"
"I've owned the place about five years. It drives me crazy but I love it. Some months it makes money, some it doesn't."
"Do you manage it, and teach?"
"When I have to. Right now I've got a guy named Spencer who does the day to day, keep the place open stuff, but I'm still teaching three classes a week."
"What do you teach?"
"Judo, a basic self defense course for women, and right now I'm also running an advanced martial arts class that incorporates several different schools. There's a dozen more classes, but those are Spencer's headache."
"I think I need to sign myself up for intro to ass kicking." Blair grinned, feeling a little loopy now that the pill was kicking in.
"You could take a self defense class, it wouldn't be a bad idea."
Blair made a face. "I'm not really the violent action type."
"Judo isn't about violence, it's about defense."
"I'm not so good at that, either," Blair giggled.
"Pills working?" Duncan smiled indulgently.
"Yeah, sorry man, didn't mean to get manic on you."
Duncan shook his head. "No, I'm glad you're not in pain. You should probably try to sleep, though, while you can. Can I get you anything else before I go to bed?"
"Um, no, thanks, I'm fine. Thank you so much, it was really nice of you to take me home like this, I mean, since you don't even know me and all..."
Blair looked like he could keep right on rambling through the night. Duncan cut him off gently. "I know you, Blair. Go to sleep."
"Goodnight Duncan, thank you for rescuing me." Blair pulled his covers back up over himself.
"You're welcome Blair, sleep well. Wake me if you need anything."
Duncan went to his bed, hoping Blair would be able
to sleep through the night.
Blair woke to the sound of the coffee pot gurgling. The first thing he was conscious of was pain. He felt like someone really big had stomped on him a lot. Then he remembered that someone had. There had been two of them, actually, and then this amazing person had materialized and made them go away...
"Duncan?" His voice was hoarse. He sat up very slowly, clutching the blanket. His pills were on the coffee table next to him.
"Good morning. How are you feeling? Awful?"
"Pretty awful. Is that coffee?" Blair squinted across the room, inhaling hopefully.
Duncan was in the kitchen, making breakfast. He pulled a cup down from the cabinet, pouring for Blair. "How do you like your coffee?"
Duncan smiled, Blair looked lost. "Sure. Did you sleep okay?" He came around the counter, bringing Blair his cup.
"Thank you." Blair took a long sip from his mug. "Ah, that's good. Yeah, I must have, I feel like I've been asleep for a really long time."
"You have. It's two o'clock."
"It is? Oh man, I never sleep that long."
Blair drank more coffee, consuming it as if he could see 'awake' at the bottom of his cup.
Duncan watched him, smiling. "It was probably the pills."
"I guess. My brains feel like cotton candy."
"Are you hungry?"
Blair looked up at Duncan from under a very messy mop of hair. "Yeah, I am, actually, I'm starving. Which is really weird, because I usually don't eat in the morning. Where's your bathroom?"
"It's right there." Duncan nodded towards the open door near the bed.
Blair pushed his blankets off his lap, rising slowly to his feet. He groaned, his arm curling around his ribs immediately.
"Oh man, this is way worse than last time. Why is it always me? I swear man, I am like, this walking magnet for trouble."
He took a hesitant step and faltered, the pain in his ribs throbbing. He swayed, falling back onto the couch. The impact made him yelp, doubling over.
"Ow, easy, Blair. You took a hell of a beating last night, kiddo. Let me help you." Duncan was looking down at him, sympathy and distress in his dark brown eyes.
"Oh man, you are being, like, way too nice to me. I don't mean to be so much trouble."
"Wasn't Jim nice to you?" Duncan asked softly.
Blair squeezed his eyes shut, his full lips pressed into a tight line, and Duncan immediately regretted him words.
"He was nice to me, but I took advantage of it."
"I doubt that," Duncan told him gently, putting his hand on Blair's arm.
"No, I did," Blair answered softly, not looking at Duncan.
Duncan felt terrible for upsetting Blair again. He realized that it was very important to him, to find out if Jim had been good to Blair. The emotions that this beautiful boy provoked in him were powerful. Somehow, he had just known right away that Blair needed someone.
"You couldn't possibly," Duncan told him gently. "In fact, from what you've told me, I think it was very much the other way around."
Duncan remembered that Blair had been trying to get to the bathroom when he'd started this. "Can I help you up?" He asked, already moving to wrap his arm around Blair's middle, careful to touch him below his bruised ribs.
Blair didn't say anything, he was too overcome by what Duncan MacLeod had said. He put his hand on the bigger man's shoulder, letting himself be raised effortlessly to his feet.
"That is so much easier," Blair mumbled, secretly feeling guilty for enjoying Duncan's arm around his waist. It felt so good, for someone to touch him again. He couldn't remember anyone touching him, even just a hand on his arm, since Jim. He remembered being carried in the strong arms last night, how safe it had felt.
"Standing up puts a lot of strain on your abdominal. How are we doing here, kiddo? Think you can make it across the room?"
"Probably." Blair gave him a shaky smile.
"Okay, take it slowly." Duncan kept his arm around Blair's back, supporting him with a firm grip on his elbow until he found his balance.
Duncan watched Blair make his way carefully to the bathroom. He was very glad that he had happened to be there last night, it could have been much worse.
Blair emerged ten minutes later, the fuzzy mop of hair much closer to under control. Making his way slowly back to the couch, Blair looked around for the first time. Now that he took in his surroundings, he realized that it didn't really look anything like the loft in Cascade. It was the bare bricks and lack of walls that had reminded him of home last night. It was smaller, overall, cozier, but, Blair thought, Jim had the advantage of a balcony.
"Nice place. I used to live in a loft. I can't get used to the rooms being so small at my apartment."
That explained what Blair had meant last night when he'd said it felt like home. "Everybody says it's too small." Duncan shrugged. "I like to keep things simple."
"Yeah, I know what you mean." Blair lowered himself gingerly back to the couch.
He watched Duncan in the kitchen for a moment, his gaze wandering around the loft again.
"Are you ready for breakfast?"
"Sounds great. More coffee?"
"Sure. No, don't get up, you can eat on the couch." Duncan was gathering up a plate of pancakes, syrup and a glass of milk to bring to Blair.
"Sure, I do all the time."
"Really?" Blair was looking up at Duncan dreamily.
Duncan gave him an odd look, setting Blair's plate and milk in front of him on the table. "Well, this place isn't really set up for formal dining," he explained. Taking Blair's mug, Duncan went back to the counter to refill it and get his own plate.
"You didn't have to make me pancakes."
"But I love pancakes." Duncan came back, balancing Blair's full coffee cup carefully. "Here, take your coffee."
He sat down on the other end of the couch from Blair, reaching for the syrup.
"Wow, these are incredible. You made them from scratch?"
"I like to cook." Duncan smiled. Blair was frighteningly easy to please.
Blair made it through a little more than half his stack of hotcakes before running out of steam. He eased back into the couch, sighing contentedly.
"Those were amazing, you are a really good cook."
Duncan thought that Blair's smile was even more radiant this morning than it had been last night. This rapidly increasing attachment to the young anthropologist was a little disturbing, but Duncan honestly couldn't remember the last time he had smiled this much.
Blair was almost asleep again, eating had worn him out. He burrowed contentedly into his corner of the big leather couch, thinking how nice it was to be somewhere that felt safe and warm. Suddenly, he realized how much he was imposing on Duncan; he felt guilty, and ungrateful. This man had put himself in the middle of a violent situation to save him, and then treated him like a house guest on top of it, and here he was lounging on his couch like he lived here. As good as this felt, in spite of his bruised ribs, the last thing he wanted to do was overstay his welcome. He sat up again, as quickly as he could.
"I should really get out of your hair, I hope I haven't messed up your plans for the day." Blair blushed, realizing the day was more than half over.
"I didn't have anything I had to do, no plans. Do you really feel up to driving? You're still in a lot of pain. You're more than welcome to stay you know, don't feel like you're imposing."
"Oh no, man, I can't do that. I feel really bad that I've been so much trouble already. You've gone above and beyond the nice guy call of duty here."
Duncan laughed. "Look, my friends tease me and call me Boy Scout. It's just in my nature. I don't think you're in any condition to be home alone, especially with four flights of stairs to deal with. Why don't you just hang out on my couch until you feel up to driving, because we are going to have to go get your car eventually."
"My car... I forgot. I really do feel bad, to impose on you like this."
"You're not imposing, you're good company."
"Oh, okay." Blair smiled hesitantly. The truth was that just arguing about it had worn him out, Blair didn't think he could drive himself home from the university if he had to.
"You're looking kinda pale kiddo, do you want take a pill?"
"I don't know, I don't really like putting chemicals into my system."
Duncan nodded, thinking that if he were mortal, he would feel that way, too.
"I understand, but your body will heal faster if you're not in pain, that's why they gave them to you."
"I submit to superior reasoning." Blair grinned, picking up the pills from the table. He took one, swallowing it with the last of his milk.
Duncan cleared their plates and glasses, setting them in the sink to deal with later.
"Blair, will you be okay if I go downstairs and work out for awhile?"
"Oh yeah, of course, go ahead."
Duncan checked the clock on the wall. "All right, I've got about two hours before the next class, Saturdays get really nuts down there. Listen, if you need anything, press the first programmed button on the phone, it's on the desk. It'll ring downstairs in the office. Tell Spence to go get me, okay?"
"Okay, but I'll be fine, I promise."
"Okay, the remote for the t.v.'s right there, read a book if you want, but don't walk around too much, okay?"
"I think I see what your friends mean with the Boy Scout thing."
Duncan grinned. "Yeah, well, I didn't say I liked it." He disappeared to the bathroom to change into a pair of sweat pants.
Duncan emerged a minute later, shirtless, with his hair pulled up into a tight pony tail and wrapped over double to keep it out of the way. He never bothered to take a shirt with him just to go downstairs, but the way Blair was looking at him made him glad he hadn't. It was only a moment, Blair turned his wide eyed gaze away quickly, mumbling. "Have a good workout."
"Thanks, I'll see you later." The sound of the elevator gate followed Duncan's words, and then Blair was alone in the loft.
He looked around curiously, studying the furnishings and the titles of the books on the shelves that he could see from the couch. Very expensive stuff, mostly antique. Not much in the way of knick knacks or clutter. Lots of books about weapons, and European history, titles in French and Italian and Russian, and some paperbacks that looked like they were probably science fiction.
Blair sighed, deciding that he couldn't afford to waste time reading for pleasure. He had already set himself back several hours on his schedule for grading the mountain of papers he took home with him every weekend.
He had set himself up a system for dealing with the confusion of grading six different classes worth of compositions early in the semester. Saturdays from ten a.m. till noon he graded the human diversity and development papers. From after lunch until evening, physical anth and arch, and after dinner, he'd sit down with the anthro 101's because they were easy and by that time his brain was fried. His other three classes were saved for Sunday. Just thinking about it now made him dizzy, but there were 600 odd papers and tests waiting in his backpack, and they weren't going to go away because he had a headache.
His backpack was sitting against the wall by the coat rack. Not wanting to risk another impact from falling over, Blair rolled carefully off the couch to his knees. Hanging onto the arm of the sofa, he pulled himself laboriously to his feet. "Come on, get with it," he muttered to himself, aggravated by his body's unwillingness to cooperate. It hurt to do almost anything. He had breathing under control, so long as it wasn't a deep breath, but coughing or even yawning was excruciating. He couldn't lift his arms much higher than his waist, and even a coffee cup was too heavy. It felt like every muscle in his body was directly connected to his ribcage.
Shuffling across the big room he contemplated the stuffed bag with a practiced eye. Four or five textbooks, six folders full of papers, and his gym shoes. About fifteen pounds. No way. Sighing, he eased himself back to his knees, scooting the bag in front of him across the hardwood floor. By the time he made it back to the sofa he was out of breath, which hurt like hell. "Man, this sucks. Why does this shit always have to happen to me? Couldn't I just get a damn break for once?" Blair talked to himself as he climbed gingerly back onto the couch, pulling the bag up with him, groaning in pain.
It seemed like no matter what happened, he could count on being the victim. This never would have happened to Jim, he couldn't help thinking morosely. Of course this would never happen to Jim, his rational mind answered, Jim was a cop, and he had probably never lost a fight in his whole life. It wouldn't happen to Duncan, either, depression argued back, digging it's feet in for the long haul. People look at you and the first thing they think is "no threat". Anybody could kick your ass. Old lady's getting their purses snatched probably defend themselves better than you did.
"Work, don't think," Blair muttered to himself, unzipping the backpack.
He had the folder that held the first batch of diversity and development papers in his lap, red pen in hand, when he realized he was crying. "Stop it!" He told himself angrily. "It's over." A panic attack seemed like a really bad idea right now. Blair shut his eyes tightly, rocking slightly forward and back. "It's over it's over it's over it's over it's over it's over it's over it's over." He kept repeating the words until they turned into nonsense syllables, and he could breath a little easier.
Wiping cold tears from his cheeks, he clenched his fists, thrusting them into his lap. Yeah, it was over, but there was always more to come. That was the one thing he could count on, there would always be a next time. If there was trouble, it would find him. And if there was a bully, or a jerk, or a psychopath, well, it was Blair Sandburg, wimp extrordinare, that they were going to pick on.
Now this incredibly nice, interesting guy was taking him in like a lost puppy, and the pathetic thing was, that was exactly what he felt like. He couldn't even keep it together sitting here in Duncan's house... He was having a panic attack on his couch. Great. He felt like the world's biggest loser. Thirty years old and he couldn't even walk after dark by himself without getting beat up. He should have tried to outrun them instead of talking, that was stupid. He never did the right thing.
There was one thing to be grateful for, it had happened here, in Seacouver, and not in Cascade with Jim. He never could have faced Jim, could never tell him that he had gotten jumped and called a faggot and all he did was curl up in a ball on the sidewalk and let them kick him in the stomach. Jim would have been so embarrassed to have him for his partner... A guy who got gay bashed on a college campus, for christ's sake.
He remembered the nasty, furious voice yelling "We don't want you here!" All of the sudden his brain played another sound byte over the first. "Get out of my house, I don't want you here!" The boy with the steel toed combat boots yelling. "Are you screaming for your boyfriend, you fucking faggot?" and Jim, in his face, his fist clenching a handful of Blair's shirt. "You're a fucking faggot, is that what you're trying to tell me, Blair?" He was starting to hyperventilate, and every breath he fought to pull in hurt more.
End Part 2