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 5

By Zen&nancy


Blair pulled into the parking space behind his building with a sigh of relief. Driving had taken more concentration than he had expected. He was tired and very sore. Duncan was right behind him, he'd even remembered to bring Blair's backpack with him from the backseat of his car.

"How are you doing?" Duncan's eyes swept over him, searching for signs of fatigue or pain.

"Tired," Blair smiled, leading the way slowly up the walk to his building.

They went in the back way, walking down a long hallway to the small lobby with its blue tiled floor. The stairs were wide, with an old fashioned metal banister. There was a landing and a turn every half flight, and it looked like a very long way up.

Duncan shook his head, smiling. "I don't think so kiddo." Before Blair could answer, Duncan scooped Blair up into his arms, settling him against his chest with his arms locked under Blair's legs.

"No way man, you can't carry me up four flights of stairs. I am not going to be responsible for giving you a coronary." Blair was indignant.

Duncan just barely managed to stop himself from telling Blair that he didn't have to worry about that particular possibility.

He grinned down at Blair, shifting his weight carefully and readjusting his grip on the beautiful boy shaking his head 'no' in is arms. "Want to bet?"

Duncan started up the stairs, Blair tried to stay very still in his arms. He wrapped his arms tightly around Duncan's neck and closed his eyes. Duncan paused to rest on the third floor, leaning his back against the wall. He was a little out of breath.

"I can do the last flight, it's okay."

Duncan grinned. "No." He took the last flight two steps at a time, just to prove his point.

Blair rolled his eyes, secretly delighted by Duncan's strength. "Okay Hercules, you can put me down now."

"You mean after all that, I don't even get to carry you over the threshold?" Duncan teased, swinging him lightly to his feet.

Blair blushed, fumbling with his key. "Uh-uh, no way."

He unlocked the door, swinging it wide before entering the small apartment. Duncan noticed the way Blair looked around carefully before entering, and wondered if it was a habit learned from police work or a more recent fear that caused Blair's suspicion. There was no one there, the small one bedroom apartment was empty and dark. Duncan could make out the shapes of furniture and a wall of boxes stacked at the end of the long, narrow room.

Blair went to the far wall, turning on the lights and kicking up the thermostat, although it probably wouldn't do much good. It was chilly in the almost empty rooms, but the heat would rarely come on until it dropped below sixty five degrees in the apartment. Blair suspected that the landlord had set it that way.

"It's cheap," Blair replied to the skeptical look Duncan was giving his three room apartment.

"I hope so," Duncan smiled, setting Blair's backpack down next to the coffee table. All of the furniture was functional, inexpensive, and of no particular style. It didn't look like anything Blair would have picked, and Duncan decided he'd either rented the place furnished or had the furniture delivered from a rental company, making monthly payments on the ugly stuff.

Duncan couldn't help feeling depressed by the dark rooms. There was absolutely nothing of a personal nature in the place. The bookshelves were empty, although six boxes marked 'Books' were stacked next to them. There were no pictures on the walls, no plants or knick knacks. Nothing to tell him anything more about the person he was falling in love with.

Actually, Duncan mused, the boxes stacked at the end of the dining room told him a great deal. Blair had been here for three months, but had unpacked only the necessities. He didn't want to be here. Through the open door to the bedroom he could see a futon on the floor and portable radio. A laptop sat on the coffee table, next to a stack of folders. A stack of textbooks sat next to the table on the floor. Blair had sat there, his back against the couch, working on something. An empty mug of tea sat on the corner of the table, next to a pen and a notepad covered with scribbled notes.

"It's not that bad, I don't really spend that much time here. Do you want some tea?"

"No, thanks, I'm fine. You should call the university, let them know you won't be there tomorrow."

Blair sighed, frowning. "Yeah, I know. I was really hoping I'd be able to go, at least to my morning labs. I have a test to give back and mid terms are coming up."

"Blair, you can't. Your office is on the third floor, right? And how are you going to make it across the campus? Kiddo, you are not up to that yet."

"I know," Blair answered glumly, dreading the idea of being stuck here home alone all day.

He looked so forlorn, Duncan wanted to promise to carry him around campus all day. "Is a day off really such a bad thing?"

Blair sighed, shrugging his shoulders. "I guess not." He didn't sound very sure of himself. "I guess I better call the U. Make yourself at home, okay?"

Duncan looked around, thinking that Blair certainly hadn't made much of an effort in that department, but he took off his coat, sitting down on the couch to wait.

Duncan listened to Blair leaving a message on his department head's voice mail, he could see him every few seconds as he paced back and forth in the kitchen. He hadn't taken off Duncan's long coat, probably because it was freezing cold in the small apartment.

Blair hung up the phone, coming back to the living room to sit next to Duncan on the couch.

"I guess they'll get the message,"Blair sounded like he was worrying.

"It's okay Blair, everything's alright. Professors get sick all the time, they'll find someone to take your classes. Don't worry, okay?"

"Oh man, telling me not to worry is like telling the sun not to rise, totally pointless. But I'll try."

"Are you tired? I'll go if you want to rest..."

"No! I mean, you don't have to leave, unless you have to, I'm not tired, but you probably have stuff to do."

Duncan put his arm around Blair's shoulders, squeezing gently. "I'll stay, for as long as you want me to."

"You must think I'm like, a total wimp." Blair was nervously picking at the scabs on his thumbnails.

Duncan took his hands, gently halting the self destructive behavior. "No, I think it sucks to be alone when you feel lousy and you got jumped two days ago."

Blair nodded, still not able to look Duncan in the eye. "Yeah, I guess you have a point, but Jim would think I'm being totally ridiculous. He'd say 'Sandburg'..." Blair stopped, swallowing his words with almost comical haste. "I'm sorry."

Duncan knew that one of them really should make an effort to keep their emotions under control here, but Blair had a tendency to silence his voice of reason. He pulled him squarely into his lap, wrapping his arms securely around the body shivering in his coat.

"What would Jim say? Tell me."

Blair looked up at him hesitantly from under his hair. "He'd say, 'Sandburg, don't be a baby. If something happens, call 911'."

"That's really reassuring," Duncan murmured dryly.

"He'd tell me that what happened the other night was my fault, for not reporting the incident with the rock through my car window. He'd tell me that it's the citizen's responsibility to be honest with the police and help them to protect them."

"That's a very idealistic view. As a police officer he must be aware that there are many situations that make it difficult or impossible for people to go to the police directly for help."

Blair smiled, with the closest thing to cynicism Duncan had seen on his face. "Jim has very high standards, and he expects other people to live up to them, too. People get divided into good guys and bad guys in his mind pretty quickly. If you're not part of the solution then you're part of the problem."

"He had no right to tell you who to be or how to live your life, Blair," Duncan spoke softly, not at all sure that those were the words Blair wanted to hear.

"I was his partner, and he had the right to tell me what to do and how to act at work, because he's the cop, and I was only there as an observer. He took me in when the place I was living at got blown up during this case he was on. So, it was his house, he had a right to tell me what he didn't want to live with. Although some of his house rules were totally anal, but I mean, it was his house, he let me stay with him."

"Maybe he wanted you to stay with him. Jim doesn't sound like the kind of guy who would let you live with him for four years if he didn't want you there, no matter how badly he needed your help. I understand what you're saying Blair, but neither of those things gives Jim the right to tell you what it is and isn't okay to feel, or who to be."

Blair bit his lip, wanting to argue, but he knew that Duncan was right. "I know. It doesn't matter, it doesn't make any difference what he would think."

Duncan listened to Blair trying to convince himself that it didn't matter anymore what Jim thought of him, and fought the jealousy he felt. He was having a really hard time seeing Jim as anything other than a fairly typical, aggressive, controlling cop. He sounded like an asshole.

"It's okay, everything is going to be alright." Duncan stroked the unruly curls at the nape of Blair's neck.

Blair smiled up at him. "That's it, I have got to play you that song. You really don't know who Bob Marley is?"

Duncan obfuscated, "I've heard of him, I'm just not familiar with his music."

"Amazing." Blair shook his mop of curls incredulously. Scrambling off Duncan's lap he went to the boxes at the other end of the room. "I think the tapes are in this one."

He bent slowly to a large box on the floor that had the helpful description of 'stuff' scrawled across the top. It was still taped shut. Duncan got up, going to his side to help. Opening his leatherman, he slit the duct tape carefully. Inside was a jumble of totally unrelated objects. 'Stuff' had been a perfectly accurate description.

"I didn't have a lot of time to pack," Blair told him, rummaging through the collection of a few square inches of his bedroom floor. When he had packed, he had just thrown everything in his bedroom into boxes, clearing surfaces and floor space methodically until everything was packed. His hand closed over what felt like a tape case and he pulled it out of the collection of clothing, papers and statuary.

Blair bit his lip, staring at the tape. It was the 'earth music' that Incacha had liked. After he died, Jim had let him play it whenever he wanted to. He remembered his invincible Sentinel falling apart over the body of his original Guide. He felt so helpless. How would Jim find another Guide now? What would happen if he zoned out with out one? Maybe he already had. Blair attacked himself for the thousandth time. How could he have put anything, especially his own desire, over his responsibility to guide James Ellison, Detective and Sentinel of the great city? What would Incacha think of him now? Don't go there, Blair told himself sternly, but his stomach contracted with pain anyway. The guilt he hadn't been able to hide from these past three months came back full force. How could he be so happy, practically throwing himself at Duncan MacLeod, who had to be the nicest person on the planet, when Jim could be dead, or in a mental hospital permanently zoned, or anything, for all he knew...

"Blair?" Duncan put his hand on Blair's shoulder, concerned. Blair looked like he was beating himself up over something, it was an expression Duncan had come to recognize quickly. "What's wrong?"

"Oh man, I just really don't want to be here right now. I hate this place. Part of me wishes I had just left all this stuff behind. It's just a bunch of worthless junk..."

Stop it, you're not worthless. Duncan spoke the words in his head, only slightly surprised by them. Translating Blairspeak was getting easier. What he said out loud was, "Okay kiddo, lets go." His voice was gentle, pulling Blair back from whatever pain he was reliving in his mind.

"Go where?"

"Back to the loft. Grab some clothes, we'll go home, come back here in a couple of days, when you feel up to dealing with this." His hand moved to include all the boxes stacked against the wall.

Blair shook his head, big eyes pleased and embarrassed. "Oh no, I couldn't do that. You don't have to babysit me just cause I'm a head case and I can't handle unpacking my own stuff."

Duncan took his shoulders firmly in his hands, turning Blair gently to look at him. "No, enough, no arguments. I don't know why I can't handle the idea of being separated from you, maybe I'll get better at it." He grinned, and Blair smiled back. "But for now, you don't want to be alone, and you don't want to be here. I want you close, and I have to admit my place is a lot nicer than yours. Come on, grab some clothes. You can stay with me until you're ready to go back to school. I want you with me Blair."

"Okay," Blair conceded, looking up at Duncan doubtfully.

Duncan's smile broadened. He lifted Blair's hand to his lips, pressing a kiss to the back of his hand. "Good. It's freezing in here. Doesn't your heat work?"

"This is working. Not working is ten degrees colder, at least." Blair felt a rush of giddiness wash over him with the brush of Duncan's soft lips against his skin.

Blair went into the bedroom to find clothes, taking his backpack with him. Duncan stayed where he was, looking at the things in the box without actually touching them. He was curious, he wanted to know everything he possibly could about Blair, but he couldn't quite allow himself to go through his things without permission. His eyes scanned the papers on the top layer. Most looked liked notes for Blair's thesis. The word 'pheromones' scrawled across one caught his eye. Duncan read a few scribbled paragraphs. Apparently, Jim's senses could be affected by pheromones, and sexual attraction. At the bottom of the page, in the margin, were the quickly scrawled words 'what if Guide were F?' Duncan winced, and looked away, forcing himself to concentrate on something else. It hurt him, imagining the four years Blair had spent living with the pain of loving someone he was with every day, and never being able to express it. He didn't need to ask Blair if he loved Jim, it was obvious.

Blair came back with his backpack tightly crammed with clothes and books. He stood halfway between his bedroom and Duncan.

"Are you sure you want me to come with you?"

Duncan stood up, coming over to Blair and taking his bag from his hand. "Absolutely."

Blair smiled, and slipped his hand into Duncan's. "Okay. I'm ready."

"Good, let's go."

Duncan lifted Blair's bag to his shoulder, wondering how he had managed to drag it out of the bedroom with him, it was twice as heavy as it had been before.

"You get these backpack muscles, after fifteen years of being a student, if it has a shoulder strap, no matter how heavy it is, you can carry it."

"Uh-huh." Duncan shook his head at Blair, smiling, and followed him out of the apartment. Blair locked the door, and started for the stairs. Duncan stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. "Humor me."

He leaned down, picking Blair up with one arm behind his knees and one under his shoulders.

Blair sighed, wrapped one arm around Duncan's neck. "Do I have any choice?"

"Not really." Duncan started down the first fight of stairs.

Blair put his head down on Duncan's shoulder. He felt really high off the ground, and a little scared. He closed his eyes, mumbling. "Just don't drop me."

"Never."

Blair kept his eyes shut tightly all the way down the stairs. Duncan's kiss at the bottom surprised him. His eyes fluttered open for a second and then closed again, savoring the feeling of Duncan's warm lips.

A man in a uniform for the power company walked past them, muttering under his breath in disgust.

"Fucking faggots."

"Fuck you," Duncan called cheerfully after him, giving Blair another quick kiss before letting him down.

Blair looked like he was ready to run for his life. Duncan put his hand on his shoulder.

"Hey, take it easy kiddo, it's okay."

"Yeah, I know," Blair nodded. Duncan could see the adrenaline running through him.

"Relax Blair. When you let yourself get upset by assholes like that, you give them the victory. If you're stronger than them, then what they think of you doesn't matter."

"But I'm not."

"I meant as a person, not physically."

"Easy for you to say."

"Blair, physical size has nothing to do with dealing with stupidity like that."

"It does if you look like a victim."

"Is that what you think you look like?" Duncan held the door for Blair.

Blair didn't answer until they were in the car.

"How can I think anything else when every time there's an asshole looking for someone to hassle, or a psycho who needs a hostage, or a guy with a gun who needs a distraction, it's me they go for, every time. I swear to God, I am so sick of getting pushed around!"

Duncan nodded, not upset by Blair's outburst at all. "Well, maybe we can do something about that. Jim didn't teach you any kind of self defense?" Duncan couldn't imagine someone putting Blair in danger without taking any steps to teach him to protect himself.

Blair laughed bitterly. "Jim taught me how to call for back up."

"Well I think I can teach you something a little more practical. We'll see, when you're feeling better."

"Okay, I guess. I have to warn you, I'm a total klutz, and I am like, so not into fighting. I'm really bad at that hitting back part."

Duncan laughed. "We'll work on it."

Duncan started the car, pulling out into afternoon traffic. "How are your ribs doing?"

"Oh man, really sore. If you can possibly avoid getting kicked with a steel toed boot, do it."

"I'll remember that."

"Do you have classes tomorrow?"Blair asked.

"Not at the University, but at the dojo, yeah. Ten to eleven and then three to five in the afternoon."

"What do you do after that? Eat three steak dinners?"

Duncan laughed, shaking his head. "No, collapse."

"That sounds good."

"Almost home."

Blair sighed, sinking back into the comfortable seat. "Man, I love this car. How long have you had it?"

"I took it out of storage a few years ago. It's been incredibly dependable."

Blair was quiet for a few minutes, starring out the window. It was so nice, not to have to worry about anything, at least in the immediate future. He drifted sleepily, enjoying the warmth of the sun through the window on his face. He opened his eyes again when he realized they had stopped moving.

"Wake up, sleepyhead, we're home."

"Mmm, that's great."

Duncan got out of the car, going around to help a sleepy Blair to his feet. Blair wrapped his arm around Duncan's waist, steadying himself. Duncan was pleased when he kept it there, walking close beside him into the dojo.

They took the elevator up to the loft, Duncan turned the key that locked it and kept it there. The loft seemed even more cozy and welcoming after the trip to his dark, dreary little apartment. Blair took off Duncan's long coat, hanging it up on the coat stand by the door.

"Do you want a beer?" Duncan called from the kitchen, opening the refrigerator.

"No thanks, I think a beer would knock me out right now. Can I look at your cd's?"

Duncan chuckled. "Sure, but it's mostly opera. Why don't you turn on the radio?"

"Okay."

Blair figured out which one was the tuner and turned it on. Finding something mellow, he turned the volume down a little, joining Duncan on the couch.

"It feels so good, not to have to move. I just want to stay right here." Blair's eyes drifted closed for a moment.

Duncan watched him tenderly, thinking that Blair must be exhausted. "Why don't you just relax, sleep if you can. I'll sit here with you and read."

"Mmm, read to me?"

Duncan smiled, stroking Blair's curls. "It's in French."

"That's okay, I just want to listen to your voice," Blair mumbled, only half awake.

"Alright, lie down." Duncan pushed Blair gently back, supporting his back so that he wouldn't strain his sore muscles. When he was lying down, Duncan pulled his legs up, putting Blair's feet in his lap to unlace his hiking boots. Taking them off he set them next to couch on the floor. Reaching for his book on the coffee table, his left hand returned to Blair's feet in his lap, holding them there.

"You really want me to read to you, in French? I might be able to translate as fast as I read, I don't know."

"No, read it in French." Blair mumbled, too sleepy to open his eyes.

"D'accord, mon ami. Te couches avec moi," Duncan murmured, stroking the arch of Blair's foot in his lap.

"Mmm, feels good." The words were barely distinguishable.

Duncan smiled, opening his book and finding his place. He began to read aloud in a deep, steady voice that put Blair to sleep in minutes. Duncan finished the chapter, reading aloud because he liked the idea of reading to Blair, even if he was sound asleep. Sound asleep wasn't a very good description, Duncan decided, watching Blair twitch and fidget. He mumbled a little, but nothing intelligible. His eyes moved rapidly behind his closed lids, and his index finger circled his thumb's knuckle in the same unconscious motion Duncan had noticed when Blair was awake.

Duncan watched Blair twist restlessly on the couch for five more minutes. He couldn't seem to find a way to lie that didn't hurt. He would turn on his side, make a little noise of distress and turn back onto his stomach without waking up. Duncan decided Blair would have a better chance of finding a position to sleep in that didn't hurt his taped ribs in a bed, and stood up, scooping Blair up carefully into his arms.

Blair's eyes opened before Duncan had lifted him completely off the couch. He was right, he was a very light sleeper. He decided to go downstairs and work out so that he wouldn't wake Blair, moving restlessly around the loft.

"Duncan?" Blair squinted up at him.

"Yep. Go back to sleep."

"Where are we going now?"

"Bed."

"Oh, okay. Umm, shoes?'

Duncan kissed the top of Blair's head. He was so sweet half awake. "I took them off."

"Oh, good, okay." Blair's eyes drifted shut again.

Duncan lay Blair on his bed, pulling the covers up around him. Blair curled around his pillow, snuggling into the down comforter.

"Sleep well, sweetie," Duncan murmured softly, bending down to kiss Blair's forehead again before making himself walk away from the side of the bed, and the beautiful sight of a sleeping Blair.

He went to his desk, writing a quick note on a pad of paper there, although he thought it was likely that Blair would sleep until he got back. Ripping the paper off the pad he put it on the coffee table where Blair would see it. Taking his sword from it's place by the door he left the loft, closing the door carefully behind him.


Duncan returned two hours later. He'd had a good work out; Sunday night was his favorite time to practice with his sword, when the dojo was closed and it was unlikely anyone would come by to disturb him. He had worked solidly for two hours at the Iaido form, a series of katas done with the sword fighting an imaginary opponent. He found it to be the most effective practice when he didn't have the luxury of a sparring partner. He had stayed in constant motion, the graceful movements of his body controlled by the image he conjured in his head. Sweeping in the gliding step of the kendoka, his sword had cut and arched back and forth across the dojo floor in a deadly, beautiful dance, until he was dripping with sweat and feeling the burn of fatigue in the arm that lifted the heavy katana.

Slipping quietly into the loft Duncan went straight for the shower, setting his sword on the kitchen counter to clean when he got out. He went into the bathroom, peeling his sweat soaked gi from his skin and stepping into the shower. The hot water felt good on his tired muscles, he stood for a long time under the spray, letting it sooth the knots from the heavy sword work. He worked out intensively with his sword every Sunday night, whether he had a sparring partner or not, and every Sunday he told himself that he needed to practice more often.

When he'd dried himself off, Duncan pulled on a pair of sweat pants and went into the living room. He was surprised to find Blair awake and sitting up in bed.

"Hi, you're awake. I tried to be quiet when I came in. Are you hungry?"

Blair smiled, shaking his head. "No, not really. That's a beautiful sword. It's a katana, right? Do you collect weapons?"

"Yes, but this one's special. I have to clean and oil the blade, would you like to see it more closely?"

Duncan went to his desk drawer for the cloth bag that held the stones and soft cloth he used to clean his blade. Bringing it and the katana to the bed he sat down at the foot, laying the sword between them.

Blair reached out a hesitant finger to touch the blade. "It's beautiful. Not a reproduction, either. How did you get it?"

Duncan's hand covered Blair's wrist, moving it away from the gleaming metal. "Never touch the blade, only the hilt. The oil from your skin will degrade the metal in time."

"Oh, I'm sorry. So how did you get it?"

Duncan smiled, thinking that Blair was going to ask way too many questions. "It was a gift, from a friend in Japan, a long time ago."

"Wow, what did you do, save his life?" Blair grinned at Duncan, thinking of way Duncan had rescued him.

An old pain shadowed the other man's face for a moment, then he took a deep breath and answered. "No, no I didn't. Not at all."

Blair wanted to ask what he meant, but it was obvious that Duncan didn't want to talk about it. He hoped that someday he could ask again, and maybe Duncan would tell him the sword's story.

"Were you practicing with it, in the dojo?"

Duncan smiled indulgently, thinking that maybe showing Blair his sword wasn't such a good idea. It was hard, to remember that he shouldn't give Blair the opportunity to ask too many questions. Because he undoubtedly would, and Duncan was realizing that he really didn't want to lie to him.

"Yes, I was, which is why my arms feel like rubber bands. Do me a favor, okay, kiddo? Don't decide you absolutely have to go back to your apartment tonight. I don't think we'd make it up the stairs."

Blair chuckled, holding his ribs. "I promise. How long did I sleep?"

"About two hours, it's almost nine o'clock."

"Weird, feels later." Blair rubbed his eyes, watching Duncan wipe down the blade of the katana with long, careful strokes.

"It's always strange when you wake up at night. How are you feeling?"

Blair stretched a little, testing the limits of his range of motion. "Not bad, I think it's getting easier to move. Wow, that's really cool."

Blair watched, fascinated, while Duncan used the two small stones to put a perfect edge back on the blade.

Duncan looked up from his work, smiling. "Yeah, it is, I'm glad you like the sword."

"It's beautiful. Can I watch you practice sometime?"

"Mmm, maybe. I usually work out on Sundays."

Duncan finished cleaning his blade, and returned it to its ornamental metal scabbard, laying it casually next to the bed. He was trying not to worry about what he would do if he had to fight while Blair was in the loft. Telling himself sternly that he would cross that bridge when he came to it, Duncan lay down next to Blair, on top of the blankets.

"I'll move if you want to rest..." Blair spoke softly, and it was obvious from the hesitant way he spoke that he didn't really want to.

"Stay," Duncan murmured, coaxing Blair into his arms with an arm around his waist.

"Mmm, okay, I could do that." Blair settled back happily against Duncan's broad chest, spooning himself in Duncan's arms.

"You feel wonderful in my arms," Duncan spoke softly, his mouth near Blair's ear.

"Do I? I'm happy," Blair sighed contentedly.

After a few minutes he squirmed, turning over in Duncan's arms so that he faced the man who held him so tenderly. For a moment he let his eyes roam over Duncan's bare chest, marveling at the beauty of the sharply defined muscles and the smooth bronze skin. Duncan was so strong, and lying in bed next to him, the difference in size between them was even more obvious. Blair knew that Duncan could probably break him in half with one hand, and yet he felt nothing but totally safe and protected lying in Duncan's arms.

"Kiss me?" Blair looked up at into Duncan's dark eyes, seeing affection and desire.

"Oh yes." Duncan's large hand cupped his cheek, lifting his chin to kiss him tenderly. One warm, sweet kiss followed another, until Blair was panting softly against Duncan's mouth, reaching hungrily for the full lips.

"Mmm...you taste soo good." Blair mumbled against Duncan's mouth, feeling him smile.

"So do you." Duncan's hand buried itself in Blair's hair, supporting the back of his head.

Duncan thought hazily that he really should stop, he had made himself promise that he would go very slowly with Blair. He couldn't bring himself to, though. Blair's wet, hungry mouth was too wonderful.

Blair kicked at the covers until he could squirm out from under them. His only coherent thought was a need to be closer to Duncan's body, which was radiating heat. When he was finally free he pressed himself close against the big, strong chest.

Duncan made a low noise of pleasure deep in his throat, and held Blair closer. Their mouths were locked together, Blair's tongue in his mouth coaxed and teased until he gave up, surrendering to his kiss. Blair kissed him as if he were trying to crawl inside him. Duncan felt as if he had been drawn down into an ocean of desire, where the only way to breath was through Blair's mouth.

Duncan's arms around him tightened and Blair moaned softly in pain and protest.

"Oh God, Caro, I'm so sorry! Are you okay?" Duncan let go of him instantly, berating himself for losing control and hurting Blair.

"Mmm, yes," Blair whispered, reaching for him. "More?"

Duncan smiled, letting himself enjoy the beautiful sight of Blair aroused and wanting him. "Oh yes," he told him, his voice was rough. "But not now." His hand caressed Blair's cheek. "I'm going to hurt you if we don't calm down, and I won't do that Caro, you are too important to me. Be patient with me? Come here, let me hold you."

Blair took a shaky breath, crawling back into Duncan's arms. He pressed his face to Duncan's shoulder, a little embarrassed by his lack of control. "I'm sorry, I kinda lost control there, I won't do it again."

"Oh no, don't say that, that's cruel." Duncan's smile was not quite lecherous, but Blair blushed anyway.

Blair nuzzled his face into Duncan's shoulder, too shy to look up again. "Really?"

"The proof is poking you in the tummy."

"Oh." Blair giggled. "You're right. Wow."

Duncan chuckled, stroking his fingers through Blair's curls, untangling the knots carefully. "I don't know what good thing I did to deserve you, but I'm awfully glad fate sent you to me."

Blair looked up at Duncan incredulously. "Oh man, you have got to be kidding. You had to fight these two totally terrifying looking guys to save me, and then you had to carry me half way across campus, and go to the hospital and deal with me being a total wreck and..." Blair paused for breath and Duncan interrupted.

"Don't forget having to carry you inside, and ruining my diet eating pancakes two days in a row, and actually enjoying lifting weights because I had so much energy to work off, and being happier than I have been in years. Blair, you are so good for me, you make me remember to laugh, even when you can't laugh yourself. I didn't even know I needed you until you were here, and now I can't let you go."

Blair was afraid he was going to cry. He pushed his face into Duncan's chest, trying to absorb what Duncan had said. Part of him insisted that it couldn't be true, and that even if it was, he had no right to be this happy. He wanted this so much, and he felt so guilty.

Duncan waited for Blair to speak, running his fingers through the messy curls. Blair had curled up into a little ball against him, his knees drawn up to his chest. It was very quiet, and Duncan listened to Blair's shaky breaths, hoping he would say something. When he didn't, Duncan slipped his arms under Blair's, pulling him gently up to the head of the bed with him.

"Blair? Look at me, kiddo. Did I say something that upset you? I'm sorry, I shouldn't be pushing you. We have all the time in the world. It's just that I want you to know how wonderful you are." He paused, trying to figure out what had upset Blair so quickly. "Talk to me, Blair. What is it? What did I say?"

Blair shook his head, moving back to press himself against Duncan's warm, comforting bulk. "No." He shook his mop of hair, tickling Duncan's chest with his curls. "I just don't know what to say. What you said is, like, incredible, unbelievable, and wonderful. Nobody sees me that way. You have just totally knocked me off my feet here. I mean, most people can only take me in small doses, you know? I'm neurotic, and annoying, and I talk too much. You are the first person I've met in a really long time that I feel totally comfortable with. I love being with you, you make me feel so good, and I'm just really scared that I'm going to fuck it up. My track record isn't all that great."

If Duncan hadn't already decided that Jim Ellison was responsible for Blair's lack of self esteem, he'd want to punch him in the nose even more than he already did.

"We are really going to have to work on this self worth thing, kiddo. How can you possibly not see what an amazing person you are? No, look at me." Duncan's palm cupped Blair's chin, lifting it gently. "You are a fascinating, wonderful, extremely intelligent person, with a great capacity to care about humanity as a whole. I find that devastatingly attractive. And you're gorgeous. I hope that I'm going to have the opportunity to keep telling you these things until you believe me."

"Me too." Blair answered in a small voice, more pleased than he knew how to express.

Duncan smiled, leaning down to kiss Blair's soft lips. Blair melted against him, feeling wonderfully right in his arms. Blair's stomach growled, and Duncan chuckled.

"Maybe you're hungry after all. Why don't I make us some sandwiches?"

"I guess I could eat," Blair mumbled against Duncan's chest, not really wanting to move.

"Okay, stay here, I'll go make us something to eat." Duncan leaned down to draw the covers up. Kissing his cheek, he tucked the covers around Blair before getting out of bed.

The phone rang while he was at the counter, spreading mayonnaise on a roast beef sandwich. Duncan sighed, hoping it would be someone he could tell to go away. He picked up the cordless on the wall.

"MacLeod."

"Hello MacLeod, I'm so glad I found you at home. I'm standing on the corner in front of your building, looking up at you. Do you recognize me?"

Duncan looked at Blair snuggled under his covers, and the sword on the floor next to him, and got very angry at the person on the other end. No! Not now, he thought frantically, wondering if he had somehow cursed himself, worrying about it earlier.

"Should I?" He asked cautiously, glancing back at Blair, who was wide awake and watching him.

"Come to the window, Duncan."

Walking casually to the window, the phone cradled tightly against his ear. Duncan drew the curtain back. Lucas Cromwell. Why now? Duncan thought furiously. I haven't seen the bastard in almost a hundred years and he comes for me tonight. I hate my luck.

"I told you I'd get back to you, MacLeod. It took me a little longer than I thought it would, but now it's time for you to pay. Get down here."

"I'd really rather not." Duncan's voice had an edge on it that could slice bread. Blair sat up in the bed, looking worried.

"Do I have to come up there and drag you out? I noticed you have a very good floor in this dojo of yours, would you like to die at home, MacLeod?"

"That's not necessary, give me fifteen minutes."

"Ten. Say your good-byes."

"I'll see you then," Duncan responded curtly, pressing the cancel button to terminate the call. Lucas was watching him from the corner, his long coat drawn back so that Duncan could see his weapon.

Taking a deep breath, Duncan turned to face Blair's questioning eyes.

"I have to go out for a little bit kiddo, I'm sorry. I'll be back as soon as I can. I want you to stay here, okay?"

"Okay, what's wrong?" Blair had been certain that Duncan didn't like the person he was talking to, he'd never heard him use that tone of voice before. Something wasn't right.

"I have to go see a friend, they um, need some help and I can't refuse. I'm sorry to leave you alone, will you be okay?"

Duncan went to his dresser, grabbing jeans and shirt while he talked.

"Um, yeah, I'll be okay. Will you come back tonight?"

Duncan looked up at him, an expression Blair couldn't read on his face. He came to stand by the bed, taking Blair's face between his palms. He kissed him softly, whispering "Yes," against his lips.

Blair smiled up at him. "Okay, come back soon."

"I'll try."

Duncan went into the bathroom, changing quickly. When he came out Blair was still sitting up in bed. He looked worried. For a second Duncan realized that he was glad that Blair didn't know, and wouldn't be afraid for him, waiting. Then his mind, already kicking into pre-fight overdrive, returned to the problem of getting his sword into his coat without attracting Blair's attention. It was lying on the floor directly in front of the bed, where he had laid it down. He checked his watch, he had five minutes left.

"Um, Blair, could you get me the hair tie on the sink in the bathroom?"

Blair looked a little surprised, but he nodded his head, sliding from the bed.

"Sure, no problem."

Duncan moved quickly, reaching the sword the moment Blair's back was turned. He slipped it into it's sewn-in scabbard in his coat, leaving the metal one where it was on the floor. He pushed it slightly under the bed, thinking that if he was lucky, Blair wouldn't notice. Luckier still, he would come back in one piece, Duncan thought bleakly. Lucas had been good when they'd fought last, too good to beat. He had been very glad when their duel was interrupted.

Blair came to him with his hair tie in his hand, offering it to him. Duncan took the celtic bull, inscribed with the words 'hold fast', raising the hand to press a kiss to Blair's palm.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome."

Blair sat down on the couch. He watched while Duncan pulled his hair back into a tight ponytail at the base of his neck. Duncan put on his long coat, emptying his pockets on the end table. Blair watched him remove his wallet, sunglasses, some change and a money clip. The keys he transferred to the front pocket of his jeans.

"Does your friend live in a really bad neighborhood, or what?'

Oh, he's a clever one, Duncan thought, not really upset by Blair's questions. It made him happy, that Blair was so smart and so intuitive. Of course, it was unlikely that he would be able to hide the truth from him for long, but right now he didn't have the time to explain, even if he wanted to.

"Yeah, he does. I'm sorry, I have to go. Your sandwich is on the counter. Lock the door behind me. I'll be back as soon as I can." Duncan stood for another moment, drinking in the sight of Blair smiling at him. It was a wonderful thing to take into a fight, this beautiful smile that was just for him.

"I will, are you sure you want me to stay here by myself? I could come with you."

"No, it's fine, I won't be gone long, but I have to go." He kissed Blair one more time, hoping feverently that it wouldn't be the last. Then he was gone, striding purposefully down the stairs and through the empty dojo to the street.

"Be careful," Blair whispered to the closed door, listening to Duncan's steps on the stairs.


End Part 5

Part 6


Feedback? houseofslack@hos.slashcity.com