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 4

By Zen&nancy


Blair came awake slowly, his eyes fluttering open to search for the sound that had woken him. It was Duncan, exhaling a deep breath. He was directly in front of Blair, going smoothly though the motions of tai chi chuan. His face was totally calm and his were eyes closed.

The coffee table had been moved against the wall, and Duncan was standing in the middle of the room, about two feet in front of him. He was balanced on the ball of his right foot, his left knee bent and the leg extended behind him. Blair watched, fascinated, as his arms slowly crossed in the air before his chest, sweeping out and around in a curve that brought his leg in and then forward.

Blair swallowed, a complicated reaction of lust, admiration and appreciation of the total control and grace of Duncan's body was his first fuzzy thought. He lay very still, watching Duncan with increasing awe. As he came awake, Blair realized that Duncan MacLeod was a master of the ancient art he was performing in the small space of his living room.

The powerful body moved in a hypnotic, constant motion that was neither quick or slow. Each movement was an expression of grace, the muscles moving fluidly under the dark bronze skin. Blair squirmed a little under his blankets, Duncan's strength and symmetry had caught the attention of his morning erection and it was very interested. There had been a little soreness all day yesterday, the ache from being kicked much too hard in the groin, but this morning it was gone. He did, however, have to do something about his bladder, which was seriously compromised.

Duncan had both feet on the floor now, his arms raising slowly above his head. Blair sighed, having a hard time tearing himself away from the sight of the incredible strength in Duncan's body. Rolling quietly to his feet, he shuffled to the bathroom, making as little noise as possible.

Duncan opened his eyes slowly as he was returning to the couch. Completing the elegant motion of his limbs before speaking, he smiled at Blair. "Good morning."

"Good morning," Blair answered, somewhat dreamily, his eyes following the supple movement of the muscles in Duncan's well defined back and broad shoulders. Duncan finished his exercise, his concentration only slightly distracted.

Finishing with a long stretch up onto his toes, arms above his head, Duncan wondered how long Blair had been awake.

"That was incredible. You should be teaching Tai Chi, not history, you're awesome!"

Duncan smiled, pleased with Blair's praise, even though he didn't think he was entitled to it. He reasoned that if you did the same series of exercises for 300 years of mornings, you naturally had an advantage over a mortal who is learning the art. Duncan had found that time and dedication were the secret to mastering almost every art, although they was no substitute for talent.

"You're familiar with Tai Chi Chaun?"

"Enough to know that people don't move like that, at that level of difficulty, from taking a few classes from an American instructor at some new age learning center. That was a very old form, wasn't it?"

"Yes, I had a very traditional teacher."

"A sensei?" Blair asked, fascinated and impressed.

A faraway look smoothed Duncan's features, his face relaxing into a smile that was a little sad. "Yes, I had the honor of calling him sensei." Shaking off the memory, he smiled at Blair. "I'm sorry I woke you, I would have gone downstairs, but I didn't want you to wake up to an empty room. You must be a very light sleeper, I don't make much noise."

"A pin drop will usually wake me. I'm glad you didn't, go downstairs I mean. Duncan, that was like, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen a person do with their body. Can you teach me to move like that?"

Duncan tried to ignore the wave of heat that went through his body with Blair's admiration. He was only wearing the sweat pants he had slept in, and Blair's wandering, appreciative eyes were eliciting a response that was getting difficult to control.

"How's your balance?" he asked, smiling at the blue eyes that were devouring him.

"Good."

"Co-ordination?"

Blair shook his head, grinning back. "Not so good."

"Do you meditate?"

"Oh yeah, Naomi, that's my Mom, she taught me to meditate before she taught me to read. She's really cool, you'd like her."

Duncan mused that the woman who created Blair must be a beautiful, carefree spirit.

"Then I think we can work with you, yeah. You don't learn that level of control overnight, but if you're serious, I've love to teach you."

Blair pictured himself standing in front of Duncan, the hard, muscular chest close behind him, Duncan's warm hands firmly positioning and guiding his limbs.

"Oh man, I am soo there."

"I'll take that as a yes, and hold you to it as soon as your ribs heal. I'm going to make coffee. What do you want for breakfast this morning? French toast?"

Blair's eyes went from burning, unguarded lust, to sweet, hopeful puppy dog faster than Duncan would have thought possible.

"Could we have pancakes again?"

"Two days in a row?" Duncan asked, purely for the pleasure of watching Blair's eager expression for a moment longer before giving in.

"They were so good...Please?"

Duncan crossed the short distance between them, bending down he pressed a warm kiss to Blair's forehead, near his left temple. "How could I possibly refuse? You should get those puppy eyes patented before someone steals them and makes a million dollars."

"You think so?" Blair grinned up at him, mischief in his smile.

"Yes, I do," Duncan chuckled, leaning in to brush his lips lightly against Blair's.

Blair sighed, wishing he could make Duncan kiss him for the rest of the day. It felt so nice... Blair was suddenly conscious of the fact that he hadn't brushed his teeth, and that his hair probably looked like the Bride of Frankenstein.

"Um, can I take a shower?"

"Go right ahead, let me try to find some clean clothes for you to put on, I'm sure I can find something that will fit you."

Blair was dubious, but Duncan came back from his dresser with a pair of white cotton, loosely cut pants with a drawstring, and a matching shirt, cut to allow freedom of movement. It was a light cotton gi that Duncan did his Katas in. It might not keep Blair warm enough, but, Duncan thought, maybe he could take on that responsibility for the day. Besides, it was the only thing in his wardrobe that wouldn't fall off Blair's smaller, slender frame.

"Here." Duncan handed them over, along with a pair of sweatsocks and boxer shorts. "These are pretty much one size fits all, they should be okay for hanging out here. If we go anywhere though, we'll have to find you something warmer."

"Thanks."

"Sure, be careful in the shower, don't hurt yourself. There are clean towels in the linen cabinet in the bathroom, and an extra toothbrush, it's the blue one."

"Okay, I'll be back." Blair walked slowly to the bathroom. Duncan watched him carefully, deciding that Blair was moving around with less difficulty today, and if it weren't for the four flights of stairs, would probably be fine home alone.

Blair closed the bathroom door, setting his pile of clothes carefully on the hamper. Turning on the cold water tap in the sink, he squeezed toothpaste onto the blue toothbrush. Leaning over the sink was painful, even with one hand grasping the edge to brace his weight. Blair rinsed his mouth, cupping water in his hands several times rather than bending down to the stream from the faucet.

Undressing was a slow and laborious process. Luckily, his denim shirt buttoned down the front, he was sure he couldn't have lifted a sweater over his shoulders.

Standing in front the mirror, Blair cataloged his injuries. There were vivid crimson and purple bruises, three clear imprints of the steel toes of their boots. One high up on his hip, he could just see the top of the fist sized welt above the waist of his jeans. One on his left thigh that he couldn't see, but could certainly feel, and one not quite as dark as the other two, that spread across his stomach.

He hadn't seen his bruised ribcage since the doctor had taped them up at the hospital, telling Blair not to remove the bandages for at least twenty-four hours, and then only to shower. He had instructed him to re-wrap them as tightly as he could comfortably stand after he showered. Realizing the range of motion necessary to unwind the rolls of white bandage from around his middle, Blair wasn't sure that he could do it at all.

He tried, his hand reaching around to his right side, where the little metal toothed elastic fasteners held the bandage in place. He yelped, grabbing on to the sink again as the world spun. Regaining his equilibrium slowly, Blair bit his lip. It sent a lightning bolt of pain straight through him to try to reach around himself to unwrap the bandage. He hadn't even gotten the fasteners off. He had grasped one and felt it snag just before the pain had hit him, and his arm snapped back. He leaned against the sink, rocking back and forth and trying not to make any noise. Making one more attempt to pull the edge of the bandage free, Blair came close to blacking out when the wall of pain hit him. It stole his breath, freezing his lungs and his throat.

"Come on, easy, take it easy," Blair groaned softly to himself, trying to prop himself up more solidly against the sink. Embarrassed and disgusted by his helplessness, he forced himself to move slowly back to the door. Opening it, he called out softly. "Duncan? Could I, um, ask you to help me? I'm sorry, man, but I can't unwind the bandages they taped up my ribs with."

Duncan was already at his side, before he finished speaking. For a moment his eyes couldn't look away from the bruise that spread across Blair's stomach, then he looked at the young man's face and realized that he was white as a sheet. Two deep indentations marked Blair's lower lip, where he had bit it trying to keep quiet.

"What did you do to yourself, buddy?" Duncan admonished, all concern and compassion. "You shouldn't have tried to reach this yourself, kiddo. It hurts bad, huh? Hang in there, just try and relax," he continued softly, unhooking the fasteners under Blair's right arm and beginning to unwind the bandage. Blair stayed still, holding his arms slightly away from his sides for Duncan, his eyes fixed on their feet.

"Are you okay, kiddo? Do you want to sit down here for me? It's going to hurt more when we get these off, they wrapped them tightly. I'm so sorry, Caro."

Blair raised a hand to Duncan's shoulder to steady himself, letting Duncan lead him to the wide, tiled edge of the tub to sit down. He was thinking about the last time he'd had bruised his ribs, when Jim had taped them for him. It had hurt so badly, although this time was worse. He had nearly ground his teeth down, trying not to make a fuss in front of the other cops and embarrass Jim. All he had wanted was a kind word from Jim, he had tried so hard to hide the pain, afraid that Jim would call him a sissy, or something worse.

He had wanted it so badly; just a little compassion from the man he worshipped, and to be able to rest for a little while. He hadn't gotten either. Jim had taped up his ribs, acting like it was no big deal, and they had gotten right on with the case. The case was always what was most important to Jim. His own comfort, and sometimes even his safety, always came second, and he expected Blair to make that sacrifice as well.

He had felt like such a crybaby, trying not to let Jim see how bad it hurt. And last night, he had curled up in Duncan's lap and Duncan had cuddled him and comforted him, and kissed him, and it had felt so incredibly good. Shame and embarrassment had been the farthest things from his mind, he had felt nothing but peace and contentment, letting Duncan hold him.

The bandages were gone, it hurt more now when he exhaled. Duncan was kneeling in front of him, holding his shoulders in a gentle clasp. Emotion so strong it frightened him welled up inside Blair, and he wanted to sob out loud, but held it back. It was the gentleness in Duncan's touch, the warmth in his simple kiss. It was what he had been aching for, for so long. It was the way Duncan looked at him when he talked, as if he was really seeing him. It was what he had waited for so patiently, with the wrong person. The pain and the futility of the past four years stabbed him, bringing clarity and self recrimination. He saw that in a hundred different ways, he had let himself see only what he wanted to with Jim, and denied a truth that was obvious.

"It's okay, Blair. Everything's going to be alright, I promise."

It was the steady, honest, affection in Duncan's coffee brown eyes, even more than the words, that made Blair lean forward, throwing his arms around Duncan's neck. Duncan's arms wrapped around him, low on his waist to avoid his ribs, pulling him close.

Blair hid his face in the long, incredibly thick hair that Duncan hadn't bothered to put into his customary ponytail this morning. "Thank you," Blair whispered against Duncan's neck.

"Shh... it's okay. I've got you." Duncan's palm stroked Blair's back in soothing circles.

"I'm sorry," Blair whispered, pulling back a little. "It's just that I've been so much trouble, and I, I like you so much."

"Hush Caro, all is well." Duncan was rocking Blair gently forward and back in his arms. "Just a rough morning, it'll look better after coffee and pancakes, I promise."

"Mmm, pancakes. Okay, you could be right about this," Blair conceded, wishing he didn't have to move from Duncan's arms, ever.

"So you think you can handle this shower thing?"

Blair blushed deeply, nodding. "Yeah." He took a shaky breath. "I'm okay." Duncan's rich brown eyes smiled at him, and life suddenly seemed much easier than it had ten minutes ago. "I'm good. Really good."

Duncan's hand cupped his cheek, holding him against his warm, bare chest for another moment. Kissing the top of Blair's head, he pulled them both slowly to their feet.

"Okay, then breakfast will be done when you get out."

"Man, you are like, way too good to me."

"Not nearly." Duncan shook his head, thinking that spoiling Blair rotten could be a lot of fun.

He left, going into the kitchen to start the coffee. When he had filled the basket with grounds and poured the water, Duncan stopped, leaning against the counter with his arms crossed on his chest. He was getting in deep here, he knew it, couldn't help it. He had taken responsibility for Blair from the first moment he had seen him, with his face pressed against the concrete. From the moment he had brushed the thick, curly hair back to see his face, Blair had slipped under his defenses, and aroused every protective, nurturing instinct inside him. It was very easy to forget that a few days ago, he hadn't even known what a Blair Sandburg was.

Drawing the real Blair out from under the shadow of his misery was so wonderfully satisfying. He was full of surprises and mischief, knowledge and ideas, and Duncan wanted them all. Holding Blair in his arms felt better than he ever would have dreamed. A small, sad, angel. Fragile, but not delicate. He felt like redemption. Duncan knew that this was in his nature. He was an introspective person, and after four hundred years he had learned enough about himself to be able to admit that he had something of a pygmalion complex. So yes, it was that, but there was a great deal more. Knowing that Blair was hurting, and alone, only made him determined to be very, very, careful with the beautiful creature, but, it wasn't the reason that he was falling in love with him.

There were a hundred of them. It was the way his eyes lit up when he talked about races of people and places so far away from him. It was amazing to Duncan that he could see them so vividly. It was the way Blair could shift gears in his head in the blink of an eye, he could knock Duncan off his feet, and leave him scrambling to catch up. That wasn't something he was used to. Having a companion that challenged him mentally was rare, and wonderful. It was also the almost frightening extremes of emotion he was capable of feeling. Blair could go from despair to elation in a matter of seconds. It made Duncan want to hold him ferociously tight, to keep him safe and sheltered. It was the way Blair felt in his arms last night, so incredibly right, so good, as if he were meant to be there. Duncan realized a little guiltily that he was already feeling not only protective, but also possessive, of the fascinating man he had rescued.

The coffee pot gurgled, finishing its brewing process and drawing him back to the present. Blair was still in the shower, he could hear the water running. If Duncan worked quickly, he could have the pancakes on the griddle before he got out. He poured himself a cup, taking a minute to drink half of it before pulling down the glass mixing bowl and collecting ingredients. Getting eggs and cream from the refrigerator he began the magical process of turning simple eggs, butter, flour and sugar and cream into thin, gooey, melt in your mouth flap jacks.

The bathroom door opened, letting out a cloud of steam and a wobbly Blair. He stood in the doorway for a moment, holding onto the door frame. It was the look of determination in his eyes that stopped Duncan from going to him. He made his way slowly across the long room. When he finally made it he stopped at the kitchen counter, resting a minute before he tried to talk. He was wearing the gi pants that Duncan had given him, and the socks. He had the rolls of cotton they had wrapped his ribs with and the shirt in his hand.

"Those look incredible. My mouth is watering."

"Just don't drool on my counter top."

Blair giggled, wincing when it made his ribs shake.

"I'm sorry, I have to stop making you laugh."

"No, it's good. It's worth it."

Duncan was trying very hard to put Blair at ease, and not to stare at the dark bruises across his bare chest.

"Do you like crepes too? I almost made you crepes instead, but I was afraid you'd be disappointed if you didn't get pancakes."

"Crepes are yummy, but oh, man, these things are like, divine. A religious pancake experience."

Duncan felt himself smile, turning his attention back to the griddle to flip the pancakes. These were the last of the batter, the rest were staying warm on a plate in the oven, drowning in syrup and butter.

"We should wrap your ribs before we eat, right?"

Blair made a face. "Probably. Could I have some coffee first?"

Duncan reached for the pot. "Absolutely. Do you want to sit here with me?" He pulled one of the stools around from the other side of the counter so that Blair could sit next to him near the stove. As impersonally as he could, he grasped Blair's hips and lifted him gently to the seat. "There, that's a good spot for you."

Blair gave him a beautiful smile, and drank his coffee. "I'm glad you think so," He murmured quietly.

Duncan couldn't help it, it wasn't as if he intentionally made the decision to kiss the soft, full mouth that tasted like sweet coffee, he was simply drawn to it like a magnet. Blair made a wonderful little noise against his mouth, half sigh and half moan. Duncan growled back gently, kissing him more passionately than he had before. His tongue explored the soft moist cavern of Blair's mouth, stroking enticingly along his tongue until he responded, wrapping his tongue lazily around Duncan's in his mouth.

Duncan remembered his hotcakes just in time to save them from turning past the desired shade of golden brown. Blair was holding on to his coffee cup with both hands, his expression a little dazed.

"Hey, are you okay?" Duncan asked softly, hoping to draw him back.

Dreamy blue eyes met his, and Blair shook his head, smiling. "No, I'm wonderful."

Duncan thought the happiness was going to just bubble over and spill out of him, watching that smile. It was for him, and for a moment he just let himself enjoy it. Every emotion Blair felt literally radiated out of him, or so it seemed to Duncan. Just then, his smile was enough to make Duncan certain that falling in love with this incredibly beautiful boy was the right thing to do.

Duncan returned the plate with it's two towering stacks of pancakes to the oven. "Okay, are you ready? Do you want to do this here or on the couch?"

"This is good." Blair gave Duncan the rolls of bandage.

He lowered his eyes when Duncan came to stand beside him. It seemed silly to be shy of Duncan's touch after he had carried him around and even held him in his lap, but he was. Maybe it was because he couldn't dispel the warm, liquid feeling of Duncan's kiss. It was like fire that didn't burn.

Blair flinched when Duncan touched him, fighting the urge to giggle. "I'm ticklish, I'm sorry, I'll try to hold still."

Duncan flattened his palm, touching the swollen, bruised ribs on Blair's left side very lightly. "I'm so sorry." He murmured, wishing he could have prevented the painful looking bruises.

Blair trembled under his hands. "You shouldn't be sorry, you stopped them."

"I'm going to wrap you pretty tight, kiddo, I want you to tell me if it hurts too much, because you have to keep them bandaged like this, and I don't want you to be in pain, okay?"

"No, it feels better when it's tight." Blair's voice was muffled by hair and clenched teeth.

Duncan frowned, knowing that he was hurting Blair and unable to prevent it. "I'm so sorry, Caro." He murmured soothingly, keeping an even tension on the bandage he was wrapping carefully around Blair's middle. He could barely remember what it was like not to recover almost instantly from an injury, and thought it must be awful, and very frustrating. Especially for someone like Blair, who had so much energy.

Blair tried to hold still, holding his arms away from his sides to make it easier for Duncan. "Thank you for taking such good care of me." Blair looked up at Duncan shyly.

"It's my pleasure. Besides, you deserve it." Duncan fastened the end of the bandage with the little metal tabs. He had run out of bandage at Blair's back. "Don't try to take this off by yourself."

"Okay, I won't." Blair answered.

Duncan picked Blair's shirt up from the counter, holding it for him to put his arms through. Blair hummed through his clenched teeth when he had to lift his arms for Duncan to get it over his head. When the cotton fell over him he lowered them very slowly, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. He felt Duncan's strong arms wrap around him, holding him close without squeezing him at all. He was so careful with his strength. Blair kept his eyes closed, his hands found Duncan's solid chest, and moved slowly up to his shoulder, which was as high as he could reach without pain. Tugging insistently, he pulled the big body down until he could touch Duncan's face with his fingertips, and lead him to his mouth for a kiss.

Blair was delighted when Duncan held still and let him kiss him. He licked delicately at the full lips, teasing and coaxing until Duncan growled low in his throat, and opened his mouth. The kiss was long and complicated. Blair didn't want to come up for air, but eventually they had to. He let go of Duncan regretfully, amazed that Duncan had let him kiss him without trying to take control.

"Breakfast?" Blair murmured with a mischievous smile.

"Breakfast, definitely." Duncan pulled up a second stool, placing it next to Blair, around the corner of the counter. Removing the plate from the oven, he set it between them. "Do you want milk or more coffee?"

"Coffee, please."

Duncan pulled silverware from the drawer for them and sat down next to Blair.

Duncan was happy, Blair ate twice as much as he had yesterday, and chattered nonstop all the way through breakfast. He told Duncan all about life at Rainier and the classes he had taught as a teaching fellow there. It was obvious that he missed his friends and his old life. He told Duncan about a trip he had taken with Naomi to the Amazon and about life with the tree people. He talked about Cascade a lot, but he never mentioned Jim or working at the police station. Duncan wanted to tell him that it was okay to talk to him about the man he had spent the last four years of his life with, but he didn't want to say anything that might dampen Blair's buoyant mood.

When they had demolished the two stacks of pancakes Duncan did the dishes. Blair sat on his stool and kept him company, telling him a funny story about the first class he had ever taught.

When the dishes were done Duncan poured them each another cup of coffee and carried them into the living room.

"Come, sit with me." Duncan reached for Blair's hand, pulling him carefully down next to him on the couch. Instead of releasing Blair's hand, he covered it with his left one, cupping Blair's smaller hand between his palms.

"Blair, I feel like I should say this. I know this might not be the best time, for you, but I care for you a great deal, and I want to be part of your life. If I should back off here, tell me, but I want to be your friend."

Blair closed his eyes briefly, and took as deep a breath as he could with taped ribs. "Time is precious, it's an offense to the gods to waste it. Naomi told me that. I've been here for almost three months, I need to start living in the present. And I like you, too." He blushed, looking down at his hand held in Duncan's. "I haven't um, had a boyfriend, in a long time. I never accepted when guys asked me out in Cascade, I didn't want to have to lie to Jim. Man, I feel like I can tell you anything, and that is like, so cool. You make happy."

"I'm glad," Duncan told him, chuckling when Blair threw himself into his lap, burrowing into his chest like a very cuddly small animal.

Duncan lifted his face with a finger under his chin for a gentle, lingering kiss. "That's my plan," he told Blair softly, threading his fingers through his curly hair. "We probably should go get your car today. I could go back to your apartment with you if you want, and you should call your department head and let them know you need to take a couple of sick days. Are you going to tell them what happened?"

Blair could tell from the way he asked that Duncan really did believe that it was his decision to make, and that he wouldn't judge him either way. He groaned softly, pushing his forehead into Duncan's muscled shoulder.

"Oh man, I really don't want to, but I feel like I should. I mean, what if they start harassing other students? I mean, if these guys think they can get away with attacking a teacher, what's going to stop them from harassing anybody with a pride flag on their bumper? I'm not the only one on campus who has one, I've seen a few in the faculty lot, and I'm sure there's plenty of gay students that are out on campus. I feel like I owe it to them."

"I could go with you, to talk to the Dean," Duncan offered, stroking the back of Blair's head hypnotically.

"You'd do that?" Big blue eyes looked up at Duncan adoringly, and he felt himself melting.

"Of course I will, if you want me to. I know him, he's not a difficult man to talk to."

Blair looked steadily into Duncan's warm brown eyes, drawing strength from his unwavering support. "Okay. That would be good, thank you."

"Don't worry about it, we'll see if we can talk to him Monday. Do you feel up to driving? Because you know, if it were up to me, I'd just keep you here, but I guess you'd probably like to be in your own place."

"Your place is a lot nicer than mine," Blair grinned, then sighed softly. "But I guess I should go home. Do you think they'll be able to find someone to take my classes?"

"Of course, they'll have to." Duncan didn't want to let him go, he wished that he could just keep Blair with him in the loft, where he could take care of him. But Sunday afternoon was almost over, the light was slanting in orange patches across the hardwood floor.

"Does your car have decent heat? I'm afraid you're going to be cold driving home like that."

Blair was snuggled against Duncan's warm chest, feeling sleepy and absolutely content, and he didn't even want to think about going out and dealing with the world. It hadn't been very friendly the last time he was there. The loft was like a safe, cozy cocoon, made even more wonderful by Duncan's solid, reassuring presence.

"Mmm, I'll be okay. We should go now, though. Otherwise, I'm going to fall asleep on your lap again." Blair smiled up at Duncan, looking sleepy and very comfortable.

"Sounds wonderful, can I have a rain check?" Duncan asked, lifting Blair easily off his lap and helping him to his feet.

"Definitely." Blair sighed, leaning against the strong body for a moment before beginning to gather up his folders and put them back into his book bag.

Duncan went to the coat stand, pulling down Blair's jacket, his long overcoat, and then a second leather coat he wore on warmer days. Blair had zipped up his bag and was standing in the middle of the room, looking around the loft affectionately.

"Here, will you wear my coat? It'll keep you warm." Duncan guided Blair's arms gently into his long wool coat.

It hung down to the tops of his shoes, and his hands were lost in the sleeves. He laughed, smiling up at Duncan. "I'd love to, man. It smells good, like you."

Duncan shook his head, smiling, and bent down to kiss the beautiful creature swallowed up in his overcoat. "I don't want you to freeze, it's cold out there."

"I hate winter," Blair grumbled, stuffing his hands in the overcoat's big pockets.

"It can be dreary here, but after a while you start to like the rain."

"It's not the rain I mind, it's the cold. It was the same in Cascade. I think I'm just destined to live in places with crappy weather."

Duncan decided he would try to talk Blair into going away someplace tropical with him over Christmas break. Somehow he didn't think it would be too difficult.

Duncan pulled the gate down and Blair smiled to himself, remembering riding up to the loft in Duncan's arms. He looked around curiously when Duncan led him through the dojo, which was closed on Sundays.

"Neat place, I like it."

"Thanks." Duncan held the door for him, and Blair stepped out into the icy November air.

Blair was glad that the T-bird was only a few steps away, the wind was bitter. His hands burrowed into Duncan's pockets, wrapping the long coat around himself and holding it closely to his body.

Duncan unlocked his door and settled Blair into the passenger seat before going around to the driver's side. The T-bird warmed up quickly, and Blair relaxed against the leather seat, thinking that this was by far the nicest car he had ever sat in in his life.

The ride back to the university was short, Blair stared out the window, asking questions about the neighborhood. He was ashamed of the fact that he, supposedly the anthropologist, had lived in this city for three months and knew so little about it's population. He hadn't explored much at all, only learned the route to and from the university from his apartment.

Blair was sorry when they reached the campus and he had to think about getting out of the comfortable car. Driving was going to be rough, it was about a fifteen minute trip back to his apartment. He was glad Duncan was going to follow him. He wasn't letting himself think about the time that would come after that. After Duncan helped him up the stairs and into his apartment, when he would say goodbye and leave Blair alone. It frightened him, how badly he wanted to be able to stay with Duncan, being separated from him seemed like the worst thing in the world. He told himself he was being a baby. How was he going to get through the rest of his life if he was afraid of being alone in his own house? It wasn't like he wouldn't see Duncan again. Duncan had said that he wanted to be his friend, that he wanted Blair to be a part of his life, he wasn't going to just disappear like a wonderful dream that doesn't come true.

Blair knew that, and it was a ball of secret happiness inside him that dulled the pain in his ribs and made it easy to smile at Duncan each time the other man spoke to him. It was the fear of being alone in his apartment that he couldn't conquer. Remembering all the nights he'd spent awake, alone, talking to himself because he was afraid of the silence. After spending the last two days in Duncan's constant, watchful company, it seemed so much worse, to have to go back to being there alone. The analytical part of his brain wondered if maybe Guides weren't somehow incapable of living alone, needing a partner to keep them grounded and focused on the tasks of daily life. For the hundredth time he reminded himself that he wasn't a Guide anymore, that he had failed at that responsibility and the title had been revoked. For a second, the rational part of Blair wondered what Jim would think of Duncan MacLeod, and the way he treated Blair. Blair couldn't even imagine.

Duncan pulled up next to Blair's Volvo, somewhat concerned by his uncharacteristic silence. Blair hadn't said a word since they had reached the campus. Duncan worried that maybe Blair wasn't ready to deal with being in the place where he'd been attacked yet.

"Hey." Duncan reached for Blair's hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Are you okay, kiddo?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. It's going to take a while for my car to warm up, if it starts. Cross your fingers."

"I have cables if it doesn't, are you sure you're going to be okay driving? You don't look so good, buddy." Duncan brushed Blair's cheek with the back of his hand.

Blair smiled, holding very still to focus on Duncan's touch. It sent a rush of happiness through him, every time.

"I'll be okay, it's not that far. I'm glad you're following me, thank you so much."

Duncan shook his head, his brown eyes smiling. "You won't get rid of me that easily."

"That's good." Blair looked away, suddenly shy again.

Duncan reached across him, pulling the handle to open the heavy door. He pressed a quick kiss to Blair's cheek.

"I'll follow you."

"Okay."

Blair pulled himself slowly out of the car, hanging on to the roof for a minute. It hurt, but it was bearable. Duncan had pulled up directly beside his car and he unlocked the door, thinking that it seemed like a very long time ago that he had parked it here and walked to his morning lecture.

The Volvo started on the third try, sounding like a small airplane engine turning over. Blair kept his foot on the gas, listening to the engine and shivering in Duncan's big coat. A little sooner than he really should have, he put the car in drive, revving the engine to keep it from dying. Duncan followed him out of the parking garage and onto the street, turning in the familiar path towards home. Blair drove on autopilot, glancing back at Duncan in his rearview mirror every few seconds.


End Part 4

Part 5


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