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 10

By Zen&nancy

Blair woke very early the next morning. He was stiff from sleeping curled in his lover's arms, and his lip throbbed painfully. He groaned, raising a hand to feel his swollen face. Duncan was sleeping beside him, his fingers still threaded through Blair's hair.

He rolled quietly to his feet, shuffling to the bathroom to look in the mirror. Last night he'd been too upset to care what he looked like, he hadn't even noticed. Now he inspected his fat lip unhappily, staring at the red and purple swelling along his jaw.

"Great, freak show," Blair mumbled to himself miserably, going into the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea.

Duncan woke up when the tea kettle whistled, looking for his lover in the small room.


"In the kitchen," Blair called, growling in frustration at the ridiculous way he sounded.

Duncan came up behind him to press a kiss to the back of his neck, "How are you doing, kiddo?"

"I don't know yet, let me drink some tea and I'll get back to you," Blair turned his head to kiss Duncan, remembering just in time. "That sucks!" he complained unhappily. "Bet he hit me in the mouth on purpose, just so I couldn't kiss you," Blair grumbled, trying to sip his tea out of the corner of his mouth, "I sound retarded."

Duncan smiled sympathetically, kissing the corner of Blair's mouth carefully, "I'm so sorry, Caro."

"It's not your fault...." Blair tried to tell him, pressing his fingertips to Duncan's lips.

Blair sipped his tea awkwardly, leaning against the counter top. He shook his head, setting his cup down to run a hand through his hair. "Man, that was so fucked up. I think I'm still trying to figure out if yesterday really happened... except I've got this lovely fat lip, so Jim must have been here," Blair continued sarcastically.

"Do you know what hotel he's staying at, Caro?" Duncan asked mildly, inspecting the contents of Blair's refrigerator.

"Why, so you can go over there and beat the shit out him while he's all messed up?" Blair turned on Duncan, who froze, standing with the milk carton in front of the open refrigerator. Blair's eyes were so full of distress that Duncan wanted to take him in his arms, although he knew that wasn't what Blair wanted right now.

"No, I wouldn't do that. I only wanted to check and see if he's still in town, or if he went back to Cascade. You said you thought he would. I thought you might feel better knowing he's not here. That, and if you were going to go to the police, it would be helpful to know where he's staying."

"I'm not going to the cops!" Blair almost shouted at Duncan.

Duncan took a deep breath, and managed to keep his voice calm and even when he answered, "Okay, Blair, you're not going to go to the police, fine. Please, kiddo, try to understand, it's not easy for me to just let him walk away, after he tried to strangle you. I know that you care about him, and it's your decision to make, Caro, but I can't help thinking that it's not in your best interest, or his, to do nothing."

"He wouldn't have strangled me, he was zoning, I could have pulled him out, and he's not 'just walking away'. I doubt he can walk at all. You beat the shit out him, remember?" Blair's tone of voice was slightly more reasonable, but still hostile.

Duncan sighed, setting the milk down and closing the refrigerator door. "Blair, I don't know what you expected me to do. He punched you in the face, and he had his hand around your throat. Was I supposed to just stand there and watch?"

"Yes. No. I don't know. I'm sorry..." Blair made a high pitched sound of frustration, running his hands through his hair.

"Blair, I can't let him hurt you. I can accept that he's your problem to deal with, and stay out of it if that's what you want, but I'm not able to stand there and watch him hurt you, and do nothing," desperation was creeping into Duncan's voice. He came to stand in front of Blair, taking his hands.

"Don't you see, Caro, I'm not ready to lose you..." Duncan looked into Blair's dark eyes, pleadingly.

"Oh God, Duncan, I love you..." Blair wrapped his arms around Duncan's waist, hugging him tightly.

"I'm so sorry," Blair mumbled against Duncan's shoulder. He sighed, "I don't know why I'm taking this out on you, none of this is your fault. All you did was try to protect me. But Duncan, you two beat the shit out of each other, and you're okay, you're fine. He's not. He's probably got broken bones. And there's something else, his senses are freaking out on him, I'm sure of it. That wasn't Jim, that was Jim really messed up. You have to trust me Duncan, I know him. Jim doesn't act that impulsively, and he doesn't try to kill people with his bare hands. I pushed some pretty dangerous buttons, and he snapped on me, but Jim's not going to stay here and stalk me, or anything. He came here because he needed my help, and I couldn't help him. He's going to go back to Cascade."

Blair was starting to relax against Duncan, he sighed dramatically, rubbing his forehead against Duncan's shoulder.

"I believe you, Blair, and I trust your judgment. It really is your decision to make. I just need you to understand how precious you are to me," Duncan told him honestly.

Blair's expression softened, and he gave Duncan a lopsided smile, "I know you do old man, and I'm not going to leave you anytime soon..." His eyes became serious again, "Jim is my problem, Duncan, and I need you to accept that. It's like me having to deal with idea that anytime you get that little tingle at the back of your neck you're probably going to have to go fight, and maybe you won't come back. Look, whether I like it or not, whether we can deal with each other or not, I am responsible for him, to an extent...Duncan, if it weren't for me, Jim might not have learned to develop his senses at all. He might have just had that one episode and gotten over it and just blocked them, or he could have zoned permanently and wound up in a psyche ward, or dead. In a lot of ways, you could say I'm directly responsible for him becoming a Sentinel in the first place. I don't know if I can help him, I think he's going to have to help himself, but I am his Guide, and it's not like he can just go find a new one..."

Duncan put his hands on his lover's shoulders, "I think your loyalty is one of the things I love best about you. Do what you think is right."

Blair shook his head, "Oh man, I don't even know what that is. I never do with him. It's always a guessing game. I mean, I didn't have any idea what a Guide was supposed to be, I just sort of winged it, and most of the time it worked. It just feels so weird to be the cause and not the cure."

Duncan thought about what Blair had said, trying to see the situation from his lover's point of view. He understood that it was a matter of honor and duty, as well as friendship, "You can't help him if he's attacking you. What do you think is the cause of the problems you think he's having with his abilities?"

Blair took a big breath, exhaling noisily, "Me. Me leaving. A Sentinel needs a guide."

"And do you want to go back to him?" Duncan asked softly, his arms around Blair loosening.

"No. But part of me does want to help him. I'm here, man, this is my life, and l love you, you have to believe that."

"I do, Caro, I'm sorry. Forgive me if I need to hear it this morning?" Duncan asked, smiling.

Blair shook his head, wishing he could kiss Duncan. "No, don't be sorry. I love you, Duncan, I've never felt this way about anybody before. I could tell you all day..."

Duncan pulled him close, kissing the right side of his mouth carefully, "You'd just swell my head," he told Blair, nuzzling his neck. Blair leaned against his lover, letting Duncan hold him up. It felt so good, to just close his eyes and draw Duncan's strength.

"You know, buddy, if this whole mess were the other way around, if it was someone from your past, I don't know how well I'd deal with it. I mean, anybody else would either have called the cops, or just dumped me by now. Jim is an awful lot to expect someone to understand."

"And Immortality isn't?" Duncan asked, smiling at his lover. "I'm going to go take a shower, do you want to join me?"

Blair sipped his tea, letting his hair fall forward to hide his eyes intentionally, "No, go ahead. I've got papers to grade."

Duncan shrugged, not surprised by Blair's refusal, "Okay, can't blame me for trying," he grinned, going into the bathroom and closing the door.

Blair leaned against the kitchen counter, feeling his lower lip gingerly. The bruises were dark, over the left side of his mouth and his cheek, and the swelling didn't seem to have gone down any overnight. He touched the cut on his lip self consciously. He didn't want to go outside, didn't want anybody to see that Jim had hit him. The reality of yesterday afternoon was starting to really sink in for Blair. In spite of everything, Jim's disgust hurt just as much as it had three months ago. It was almost impossible to stay angry at him. Every time he thought about it, all he saw was the hurt and surprise in Jim's eyes when he'd threatened to call the cops. He didn't even want to think about having to go to school on Monday. Blair hoped that Duncan would be willing to stay inside and paint today, maybe he could put off dealing with the world until tomorrow.

Dammit, Jim, I am so worried about you, and I am so fucking pissed at you. Why can't you accept me? Blair finished his tea, wandering listlessly to the living room and curling up on the couch. He didn't know how to fight the feelings that were taking over. He was horrified by the way he had turned on his Sentinel, and frightened by Jim's obvious lack of control. Something was very wrong, and if he didn't find out what it was, he might regret it for the rest of his life. He didn't know how he was going to deal with handling Jim, the idea scared the hell out him, but even now, he had a responsibility to the man that he couldn't deny.

Duncan came out of the bathroom in jeans he'd worn yesterday, and one of Blair's old tie-dyes, which was tight enough to show off of his muscles. "Hey kiddo, you okay?" Duncan asked, coming to sit next to Blair on the couch. His hair was still wet, and he smelled like soap and the new shampoo Blair had bought.

"Yeah, just trying to figure out how I'm going to handle this. You smell really good," Blair tried to smile at Duncan, and winced instead.

"Don't worry, you'll find a way. Do you really want to paint today? If you don't, we don't have to. If you want to get out of the house..."

"No, let's paint," Blair interrupted, too quickly.

Duncan's winced, bringing his hand up to stroke Blair's jaw tenderly, "Don't be ashamed, Caro. I'll tell everyone you kicked his ass, I promise."

Blair ducked his head miserably, "Like anyone in there right mind would believe you."

"Oh sweetie, come here," Duncan opened his arms to Blair, who curled up into a tight ball against his chest.

"I'm being such a baby. I'm sorry."

"Shh, don't be silly. You're upset, I'd be a lot more worried if you weren't. I know it's hard, kiddo, but I'm here for you, and I love you. Everything's going to be okay."

"You are like, so incredible."

Duncan smiled, kissing Blair's temple. Blair let Duncan hold him for a little while, drawing comfort from his loving embrace. Duncan broke the silence, speaking quietly.

"What do you think made Jim come here now, after you've been gone for three months? If you're right, and he's having problems zoning out or whatever, why did it take him this long to ask you to come back?"

Blair shook his head, shrugging, "I have no idea, man. He's proud...and he's real good at repression. I don't know, maybe something happened to change his mind. Or maybe..." Blair's words trailed off, his eyes closing in pain. "I don't know, Duncan."

"I'm sorry, kiddo. I didn't want to upset you. It just seems strange to me...It doesn't matter. Should we get started on this painting thing? Where do you want to start?"

Blair lifted his head to smile at him, "Yeah, that'd be good. Let's start with the kitchen, it needs it the worst, then maybe the bathroom."

"Sounds good. Why don't you spread the drop cloths and I'll start masking the cabinets."

"Deal. I love you."

Duncan smiled, kissing Blair's temple, "I love you too."

They painted all afternoon, taking a break to order Chinese food when the kitchen was finished. Blair decided it looked one hundred percent better. Now all it needed was better lighting. That florescent was going to drive him crazy. Standing in the doorway, surveying their work, Blair wiped a smear of paint on his forearm onto his jeans.

"What do you know about wiring?"

"Mmm, I'm beginning to think mine are definitely crossed..." Duncan teased, touching up the floorboards.

"I was thinking about track lights."

"Okay, I think we can figure that out. How do you think your landlord is going to feel about you cutting holes in the ceiling?"

"Landlord? You mean the slumlord who turns the setting on the furnace down to sixty five at night? I couldn't care less. What color?"

"Black. We could put new tile down, too, if you really wanted to."

"Sounds expensive. If I don't get rid of that florescent though, I'm going to go nuts. Those things are evil."

Duncan laughed, but he agreed with him. "Okay, next weekend, lights."

Blair beamed, "You're the best."

The buzzer sounded, and Blair went to let the delivery guy in. They ate in the living room, sitting on the floor beneath the windows.

"I think it might be a good idea to sleep at the loft tonight, kiddo. Are the paint fumes getting to you?"

Blair shrugged, stuffing Egg Foo Yung carefully into the corner of his mouth. "How am I supposed to tell? I think I've had a headache since I walked in here yesterday and Jim was sitting at my table."

Just at the moment Blair said his name, as if on cue, the phone rang. Blair froze, starring at it.

"You don't have to answer it, Caro..." Duncan murmured, watching his lover with growing concern.

"Yeah, I do. It's okay, it's cool," Blair reassured both Duncan and himself, getting up an going into the kitchen.



"Simon? Oh my God, is Jim okay?"

"Calm down Sandburg. No, he's not okay, but he's not feeling any pain at the moment. I need to talk to you Blair..."

"Is he in the hospital?" Blair interrupted, his brain still on emergency alert.

"No, he's drunk. Passed out on his couch, and will probably stay that way for several hours. Sandburg, what the hell happened down there?"

"Um, that might be kind of a confusing story, Simon."

"Why does that not surprise me. Look, Blair, I sent him down there to talk to you, try to straighten out whatever went wrong between you two. Jim wouldn't tell me what you fought about when you left, and you disappeared practically overnight..."

"Yeah, well, it seemed like the most viable option. And uh, actually, Simon, he kicked me out."

"Why?" Simon demanded, sounding very determined to get an answer.

"Um, oh gosh, Simon, I don't think you want to hear about this... uh, do we really have to go there, man?"

"Is this going to be a Sentinel/Guide thing that completely confuses me?"

"Maybe. No. It doesn't matter. Oh, jeez, okay, fine. It was the night of Howard's party. I was really drunk. We went home. I kissed him. He punched me in the mouth. He told me to get the hell out. I left," Blair exhaled a deep breath, staring at the cracked tile of his kitchen floor.

"I see. Well, now I understand why Jim wouldn't talk about it. Did he know...never mind, it's none of my business, and I really don't want to get involved here. However, I would like to know what happened while he was down there. He looks like he took on a platoon of marines, Sandburg, what the hell happened? Are you okay?"

"I've got a fat lip, but yeah, I'm okay. How's Jim? Did you take him to a hospital?"

"Sandburg! What happened?"

"Uhng, it's ugly. Okay, Simon. He showed up at my office and he told me he wanted me to move back to Cascade, just like that. Come on, Sandburg, get your coat, lets go. I said no. He went kinda ballistic, put me up against a wall. That was Friday. I didn't see him again until yesterday afternoon. He broke into my apartment. He was here when I walked in, and he was like, totally not in control, and we argued. He punched me and Duncan jumped on him and it got really ugly after that..."

"I'm assuming Duncan is your..." Simon's voice trailed off.

"Yeah. I think the word is boyfriend, for now anyway," Blair smiled at Duncan across the room. He was sitting tensely on the couch, looking concerned.

"Okay, that makes a little more sense, at least. I couldn't get anything out of Ellison."

"How is he, Simon? Bad?"

"He gets any worse and I'm going to have to take his badge and his gun. I'm pretty damn close to doing it right now, Sandburg. That's why I called. I don't want to, but I'm going to have to put him on temporary suspension, at the very least."

"Ah, Captain, don't do that. You have no idea how hard he's going to take it. Jim is not capable of dealing with someone telling him he's isn't in control of himself right now."

"Blair, you're not listening to me. He's not in control. I can't have him having these zone outs every other day, and going ballistic on witnesses. The man has not said one single civil word since you left. You need to talk..."

"I'm not sure I can do that, Simon. Is he really that bad? Every other day?"

"Until I chained him to his desk. He hasn't been on the streets for the past two weeks, although it's not much better. He's been drinking..."

"Jim doesn't drink, not to get drunk, anyway."

"Tell that to the empty whiskey bottles lined up in his kitchen."

"When did the zoneouts start? Is there anything else? Is he having trouble with trails, or echoes? Is he losing an individual sense altogether?"

"I don't know, Sandburg, he hasn't given me a straight answer about anything for weeks. You're the Guide. Please, Blair, I'm asking you as a friend, just talk to him."

"Okay, Simon, tell him to call me. I'm not making any promises..."

"Thank you Blair, I'm sure this has been hard on you, too. He really needs your help, even if he is acting like a complete jackass."

"I don't know if he's going to let me help him, or if I can be of any help at all, but I'll try."

"Thanks kid. You doing okay down there?"

"Yeah, I am, really good. Say hi to Joel and everybody for me, okay?"

"Will do. I'll go over there tomorrow, sober him up, make him understand that if he wants to keep his badge, calling you is definitely on his agenda. Along with a visit to the department psychologist."

"I don't envy you Simon. Take care."

Blair said goodbye, setting the phone in it's cradle on the wall. He stood there starring at it for several minutes, as if waiting for it to ring again.


"Yeah, I'm okay. Can we get out of here?"

"Absolutely." Duncan stood up to join Blair in the kitchen, resting a hand on his shoulder, "What did he say?"

"He said he's going to take Jim's badge and his gun...Can we talk in the car? I really need to get out of here for awhile."

"Sure, do you want to grab some clothes?" Duncan was capping the paint gallons and picking up the mess they'd made.

"No, I've got stuff at the loft. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be a spaz, I just can't handle it here all of the sudden."

Blair was bouncing on the balls of his feet, trying to keep himself from having a panic attack.

Duncan took one more look at his lover, grabbed his keys off the counter top and Blair's hand, "Okay, kiddo, let's go."

Blair waited impatiently for Duncan to lock the door, bounding down the steps as soon as Duncan turned towards him. He seemed to calm down as soon as he was outside. The fresh air helped. Duncan opened the door for him, and Blair slid into the T-bird. He felt like he needed to put some distance between himself and the phone call with Simon. Scooting over, Blair leaned against Duncan, dropping his head to his shoulder.

"Tell me I'm not a headcase."

"You're not a headcase, but I'd love you even if you were." Duncan gave a tug on one of Blair's curls.

Blair smiled in spite of his split lip, "That's good."

The remainder of the ride to the loft was quiet. Blair kept his head on Duncan's shoulder, watching the wet city night passing by. He wasn't thinking about anything, just floating, enjoying the feel of Duncan beside him and the motion of the car. Duncan promised himself to give Blair all the time he needed. When he was able to, he'd talk about the phone call with Simon. Until then Blair just needed to know that Duncan was on his side, and that he was loved.

Blair leaned back against the wall of the elevator, sighing, "I'm glad we came back here. Maybe I'll be able to think about all this shit if I'm just a little further away from it."

"That's good, Caro. I'm glad you feel at home here. You know, if you change your mind, about moving in, I'd still love to have you here."

"A very tempting offer. I think I'm going to have to keep thinking about it. I really love it here, although, it's almost better to have it to come to, you know?" Blair hung up his coat, going to the refrigerator for beers.

Duncan took the bottle Blair offered him, leaning down to kiss him gently at the corner of his mouth. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Blair smiled, wishing more than anything that he could kiss Duncan for real.

"I know, sweetie," Duncan murmured consolingly, wrapping his arms around the smaller man. "It'll heal."

"Not fast enough."

"You're one big knot here, kiddo. Come on, sit on the couch with me, I'll give you a backrub." Duncan's hands stopped kneading Blair's shoulders long enough to lead him over to the couch.

"Now that I won't refuse. Oh man, that feels so good," Blair groaned, trying to relax under the strong hands that were manipulating his back and shoulders.

"That's good," Duncan murmured, digging his fingers gently into the rocks in his lover's back.

"Oh, yeah, there...thank you so much..."

"My pleasure, Caro."

Blair closed his eyes, giving in to Duncan's strong hands. When he finally started to relax a little, he told Duncan about the phone call with Simon.

"Simon says he's drinking, and that he's been zoning almost every day. He's going to put Jim on temporary suspension."

"He called to ask you for your help?" Duncan clarified softly, his thumbs digging in to Blair's shoulder blades.

"Ahh... Yeah, he did. I promised him I would..."

"Blair, it's okay. You don't have to feel guilty, or apologize. It's your decision to make, you just do what you think is right, and don't worry about me. Okay? I'll be on your side no matter what you decide to do."

Blair leaned back against Duncan, and his lover's strong arms wrapped around his waist. He sighed, "You are so incredible, Duncan. I love you so much, I wish Jim could have just an ounce of your acceptance. He is so rigid. I mean, it's not really his fault, it's the way he was raised, and the Army helped too, I'm sure...but he can be really hard to get through to. Especially now. I just don't know how I'm going to help him. Frankly, the idea scares the shit out of me, and it feels, like, so totally wrong to be afraid of him..."

"Are you going to call him?" Duncan asked, his fingers stroking through Blair's curls.

"No, I told Simon to tell him to call me. If we're going to have any kind of interaction at this point, he's the one who's going to have to make the effort."

"That's good. I think you're handling this really well."

Blair chuckled, "You have an extremely biased opinion, man."

Duncan nuzzled the back of his neck, pushing the thick curls to the side to kiss him. "Mmm, I do."

"You think that the problems he's having with his senses are related to his repression of his feelings for you, don't you?" Duncan asked softly.

Blair leaned his head back into Duncan's shoulder, sighing, "Yeah, I do. How did you figure that out?"

Duncan shrugged, "It makes sense. Pardon the pun."

"Does it? I never know if I'm just going totally off the deep end, or if I'm right."

"Well, I guess I don't know either, Caro, but it does sound likely."

"It feels so weird, to think I was right, all that time. I kept hoping that if I was patient, eventually, he'd just wake up and realize what was there...I wanted it so badly, Duncan. And now, man, it is like, so totally confusing. I wish I'd been wrong... I don't want to be causing him all this pain. I think it'd be better if he just hated my guts."

"Blair, it's not your fault. None of it. It's not your fault. You don't owe him anything, unless you decide that you do. Don't let them use guilt to influence you."

"Oh man, I could write an entire dissertation on Guide-guilt alone. Even now, there's a part of me that is screaming that I should be there, that I'm fucking up. It's like, this instinct, to be there when he needs me, I don't know how to turn it off."

"Do you want to?" Duncan asked gently, very glad that Blair was finally facing his feelings.

"No, I don't know... I guess I'm hoping that I can redefine what it means to be his Guide. I want to help him, I have to, but I won't go back. If I can't make him understand that he's going to have to be honest with himself, and deal with me on my terms, then I don't think I'll be able to help him at all. I can't let him lose his badge, Duncan, it would kill him. In this society, he has to be a cop to be a Sentinel. I have to find a way to get through to him..."

"Well, that may be easier without me hovering over you. I know it made him angry, to see you with another man..."

"Do you really think it was that basic? I mean, setting all the sexual stuff aside, on a purely emotional level, I can see him reacting with the whole blessed protector thing, and a Sentinel feeling territorial about his Guide makes sense, too. I don't know, I guess I assumed it would just totally disgust him to see me with another guy, being affectionate or whatever, because that's the way he reacted when I kissed him that night. Just total straight-guy fury."

"I think you did surprise him, but he's had three months to think about all this, too."

"You think? I don't know, I guess I never consider Jim being like that, questioning anything he does, or ever changing at all. He's just so...like a rock. Absolutely certain."

"Honestly, Blair, I don't think Jim is certain of anything right now."

Blair sighed, "You're right. I know I idolized him, put him up on a pedestal... I couldn't help it, he was so strong. I don't think I was ever very objective. I mean, all the tests I did, all the time I spent studying him, writing about him, and I still only really saw what I wanted to see. I still turned him into a hero, someone to worship. That is so wrong."

"Don't be so hard on yourself, caro. Unrequited love is a powerful thing."

"Oh man, tell me about it." Blair finished his beer, getting up to throw away the bottle. "I spent four years there, Duncan. I think I got pretty obsessive towards the end. He was my life, I didn't do anything that wasn't about helping Jim. I didn't want to. I didn't even want to finish the thesis, I put it off for almost a year after it was finished. I put off my life, everything I'd worked for, just to be with him. I had enough material to write four papers, Duncan. Boxes and boxes of notes. I just didn't want it to end, I didn't want anything to change. Always knowing that he could hear everything, that he could hear my heartbeat and my pulse, always being terrified that he was going to figure it out... It was a four year study in self control and obsessive compulsive behavior, man. It was hell, but I was happy. It was the longest I've ever stayed in one place in my life, and probably the closest friendship I've ever had. The police work was really rough, sometimes, but I got used to it, I guess." Blair paused for air, coming back to sit on the couch with Duncan.

"I missed him so much at first. This was the hardest starting-over I've ever had, and I can't even tell you how many times I've moved to a new place. I still miss him, but I don't miss my life with him. Loving Jim was like loving a brick wall. I mean nothing is going to get through, but that brick wall is going to be there to protect you from anything, and there is absolutely no getting around it, it's always there... God, Duncan, you have no idea how good it is to be in a normal relationship, not that either of us are normal, but you know what I mean. I love you so much, I love my life with you. It's so different, sometimes I still just stop, totally amazed."

"Me too," Duncan smiled, pulling Blair close for a moment. "You are more than I could have ever thought to ask for, Blair. You give me things I didn't even know I needed. I am so much more alive with you, Caro."

"That is like, so cool." Blair traced Duncan's features lightly with his fingertips, "You know, I love that you will always look like this, that your face will never change. I'll always see you just like this...you'll always look exactly like you did the first time I saw you."

Duncan smiled, thinking that it was so very Blair to see it that way, rather than worrying about his own aging and mortality. "Yes, but you will be gorgeous with white streaks in this hair. Promise me you won't cut it?"

Blair laughed, "That's an easy one to make, I think I'd cut off a finger before I'd cut my hair."

"Do you have papers to grade tonight, kiddo? I have some work to do for my lecture on Tuesday, but it can wait..."

Blair shook his head, "No, you know I do... just procrastinating. I'm going to be up all night, I really should get started."

"I'll make you a pot of coffee." Duncan got up, going into the kitchen.

"Thanks, man, that'd be great."

Blair brought his backpack to the couch, spreading the folders out in front of him on the coffee table. " At least I'm down to four classes, I thought six was going to send me right over the edge. Promise me that next time they ask me to take a class for someone you'll make me say no."

Duncan smiled at him, pouring water into the coffee maker, "No, I won't, because you know you'll say yes. You really enjoyed Professor Rodman's classes."

"Oh yeah, working with the grad students was awesome, even if it was really hard to remember I wasn't one of them, but the work load nearly killed me. I mean, here I am bitching about three hundred papers, when two weeks ago there were twice as many."

Duncan nodded, thinking that he was very glad that Blair's class schedule was a little more reasonable now that the other professor was back from his trip to Australia.

"Is there room for me over there in that mess, or should I work here at the counter?"

"No, sit here with me, I'll make room," Blair smiled, stacking the folders he'd spread out on the couch on the floor beside him. Taking out his glasses and a red pen, he started in on the first of the Diversity and Developments tests from last Friday.

Duncan went to his desk, getting the notebook with the outline for Tuesday's lecture in it. Settling at the opposite end of the couch, Duncan let himself watch Blair for a moment. He looked so different with his glasses on, much more like the Anthropologist he really was. Duncan thought it was incredibly attractive, the way the wire rimmed glasses held his mop of hair away from his face, framing it instead of falling in his eyes. They made his dark eyes look even bluer, and his features softer.

Blair was such a striking combination of masculinity and femininity, and he was so comfortable with the balance, in both his appearance and his personality. It was what made him so special, Duncan thought. Blair wasn't the least bit uncomfortable with any aspect of his sexuality, and although he wasn't at all submissive, he was perfectly happy to let Duncan carry him around, or even let him spoil him a little, buying him things for his apartment. It made him happy, to do things for Blair, and it was wonderful that Blair let him, without feeling 'kept' or demeaned by it. It had nothing to do with his gender, really, it was just in his nature to take care of people he loved, it made him happy.

Duncan sighed, pushing back the thoughts of all the things he wanted to do for his lover, all the ways he could please him, for later, when their work was done. He got up, going to the bookshelf to get one of his own books on ancient weaponry to help with the facts he wanted. When he sat down again Blair reached out with his left hand to twine his finger's lightly with Duncan's.

"Love you," he murmured, not looking up from the paper he was reading.

"I love you, Caro," Duncan squeezed his fingers lightly, leaving their hands stretched across the couch, resting on the cushion between them.

Two hours later, Blair put down the last of the tests with a sigh of relief. He took off his glasses, rubbing his eyes before putting them back on again. "That's it, the Diversity and Development's are all done, and the Anth.and Arc's, too. Only two more to go. Maybe I'll even make them wait one more day for the Cultural Anthro essays."

"That's great, do you want another cup of coffee?"

"Yeah, thanks, that'd be great." Blair stretched, arching back over the edge of the couch.

"You're undoing all my hard work hunching over those papers like that, aren't you?"

"Yep," Blair grinned at his lover, who was stirring sugar into his coffee for him.

"Take a break?" Duncan asked, handing Blair his coffee cup. His eyes sparkled, mischievously.

"Well...I did finish these faster than I thought I would. I suppose I could take a little break..." Blair grinned, his fingers reaching up to Duncan's shirt, hooking under the top button to pull him down next to him on the couch.

Duncan's arm went around his shoulders, pulling him close. He kissed Blair very gently, careful not to touch the swollen side of his lower lip. Blair sighed, reaching up to pull his glasses off. Duncan's hand caught his wrist, stopping him.

"No, leave them, I like the way you look with your glasses, Caro, very sexy..." Duncan's fingers trailed down Blair's left cheek.

Blair laughed self consciously, "I look like a nerd."

"Oh no, you don't," Duncan raised Blair's hand to his lips, pressing a warm kiss into his palm. His lips lingered, caressing the hand he held with his thumb and forefinger spanning Blair's wrist.

"Duncan..." Blair breathed, his eyes drifting shut as the soft lips caressed his palm again, the tip of Duncan's tongue tracing the lines of his hand.

"Mmm," his lover agreed, his tongue tracing a hot circle in the center of the palm. "You are so good to have, Blair," Duncan told him huskily, his lips drifting up his wrist, drawing his tongue across the sensitive skin until he found the rapid pulse. Blair groaned, the pen falling from his other hand, uncapped, leaving a red dot on the hardwood floor. Duncan was biting his wrist, nipping lightly over Blair's pulse, and then sucking. His lips formed an oval over the pulse he could feel now, beating rapidly.

"When you do that..." Blair groaned, pulling Duncan roughly against him and kissing him desperately, hurting himself and not caring at all. His lip throbbing barely even registered in his mind. There was so much more to feel... Duncan's hand on his back, warm and hard, holding him. Duncan's hard thigh, pressing deliciously against his. Duncan's lips, so soft, even fuller than his own, and the slight trace of malt on his tongue from the dark beer he'd drunk.

"Your lip..." Duncan murmured, pulling back reluctantly.

"I need this, Duncan," Blair's voice was deep, his eyes searching Duncan's, solemnly.

Duncan's finger's pushed the buttons on Blair's shirt through their holes, brushing the cloth aside to touch him, his fingertips grazing over the small nipples.

"Just let me love you, Caro. I can live without your mouth if I can have the rest of you," Duncan raised his hand, brushing Blair's bruised cheek gently.

"It's making me crazy, I want to kiss you so badly..." Blair almost whined, squirming against Duncan until his lover took his hips in his hands, pushing Blair back against the corner of the couch. Stretching Blair out to lean over him, one hand bracing his weight on the edge of the leather cushion, Duncan kissed his nose.

"I know, Caro, it's awful," Duncan consoled him, his hands returning to Blair's chest, stroking him ardently. "I love your mouth, I love to kiss you, you have the softest lips...but there are other parts of you that are even nicer," Duncan bent his head, his lips closing over the nipple he had teased to a hard point.

"Ahh," Blair moaned, arching against Duncan's mouth.

Duncan's mouth moved slowly over his chest, his tongue paying careful attention to every inch of bare skin.

"Duncan... want you. Oh God, Duncan, I want you so badly. Want you inside me..."

"You're impatient,"Duncan teased, flicking his tongue rapidly across his lover's hard nipple, rolling the other in his fingers.

"Yeah... can't help it. I need you to make it all go away. Make me forget about it."

Duncan's hands slid down to his waist, his fingers working the button on Blair's blue jeans free.

"I will, Caro, I promise," he whispered, pulling Blair's jeans down his legs and off of him. Blair was watching him, trying to hold still for him and failing miserably.

Duncan's hands roamed over his body, stroking and petting until Blair was squirming and whimpering beneath him. His hands reached for Duncan's shoulders, trying to pull him down to kiss him.

"No love, your lip," Duncan reminded him gently, bending down to kiss Blair's neck instead.

Blair groaned, frustrated, and turned his head to the side to give Duncan better access to his throat. He panted softly as Duncan's teeth nipped down his neck, sucking hard for just a second at the hollow of his throat. It felt so good to give himself up to the hunger for Duncan's touch. Just for a little while, he wanted to forget all about Jim and school and responsibility.

Blair threw his head back, groaning. Duncan's wandering hands had finally reached his cock, touching him with feather light strokes up and down his straining erection.

"P-please?" Blair whimpered, thrusting up anxiously into Duncan's hand.

"Yes, Caro," Duncan assured him, nuzzling and then biting his ear, sucking the earlobe with it's silver ring into his mouth as his long fingers closed lightly into a fist around his lover's cock.

"Oh yeah... Oh please, Duncan, don't stop. Oh God that's nice," Blair groaned helplessly, melting into Duncan's touch.

"I love you," Duncan whispered, his breath hot in his ear.

"Mmm," Blair moaned in answer, as his lover slid down his body to run his tongue down the length of his cock.

Duncan's moist little flicks and licks were driving him higher and higher, until all he could comprehend was pleasure. His lover's wet, pointed tongue played up and down the underside of his cock, taking his breath away with the pure, intense pleasure. Blair cried out when Duncan's lips closed around the head, his tongue swirling the drops of precum oozing from him around and around his sensitive tip.

"Ah, God, Duncan..." Blair groaned helplessly, his hands curling into fists at his sides. He lifted his hips, arching towards the heat of Duncan's mouth.

"More? Please? Oh yeah, mmm," Blair writhed in delight as Duncan sucked him slowly into the back of his throat.

Just a few minutes of Duncan's mouth moving over him, sucking hard, his tongue dancing up and down his cock, and Blair felt himself start to lose control. All his muscles tensed, anticipating orgasm.

"N-no," Blair's fingers groped for his lover's long hair, trying to form words. "You have to stop... I'm going to come... Please, Duncan, I want you inside me..."

Duncan lifted his head, his dark eyes burning with love and desire. "Come here," he whispered roughly, pulling Blair out of the corner he had wriggled himself into.

Blair wrapped his legs tightly around his lover's waist, his arms reaching up to lock around Duncan's neck as he rose, carrying him the short distance to the bed. Blair scrambled across the bed as soon as he was dropped, digging the tube of lubricant out of the bedside table drawer. Duncan was standing next to him, stripping hurriedly. When he was naked, he knelt on the bed, reaching for Blair and pulling him close.

"Now?" Blair asked anxiously, wriggling out of Duncan's arms to turn onto his stomach.

Duncan chuckled, enjoying the sight of Blair's squirming backside. He reached for the tube, squeezing the cold lubricant into his palm to warm it before touching his lover.

"You are impatient tonight, Caro."

"Can't help it, it's your fault..." Blair moaned, grinding his hips urgently into the mattress.

Duncan positioned himself between his lover's thighs, spreading the lubricant hurriedly over his aching cock. "Easy, Caro, hold still for me," Duncan whispered in his ear, his cock nestling in the valley between his cheeks, rubbing maddeningly up and down, spreading the slickness of the lube over his skin.

"Duncan..." Blair groaned, trying to hold still as the thing he wanted most in the world slid elusively across him.

"Please... inside, now. Oh God, yes, there, oh there, please...ahhh," Duncan thrust slowly inside his body, holding his hips still with a iron grip.

"So tight," Duncan muttered in his ear, his right hand moving from Blair's hip to his cock, cupping his balls briefly before closing his fist around him.

He pulled back, plunging deeper into the incredible heat of his lover's body, savoring the sensation of Blair relaxing beneath him, opening up to accept him into his body.

"Ahh, love, I am so yours," Blair moaned in ecstasy, pushing back up against him.

Duncan thrust deeply inside him in answer, his mouth laying claim to the back of his neck. Blair writhed beneath him, already almost out of control, his cock pushing desperately into Duncan's hand.

Duncan groaned, thrusting again and again into the heavenly heat of Blair's body, the pace hard and fast.

"Oh yeah... like that... ahh, Duncan!" Blair shouted, urging his lover to an even faster pace, until they were moving together. Duncan's cock was slamming into his ass as his cock thrust hard against Duncan's fist. Blair moaned, his voice rising in pitch and volume as he felt the tightening in his balls that signaled the beginning of the end.

Duncan groaned, losing control altogether as he slammed into his lover's body, the heat and friction robbing him of the ability to even form a coherent though. Pleasure flooded his brain and he sank gratefully into Blair, his hand still pumping his cock spasmodically.

Blair screamed, coming long and hard, covering Duncan's hand and his belly with hot fluid. Duncan's other arm wrapped tightly around his chest, holding Blair pressed against him as he sank one last time into the tight channel, groaning his name as he came inside him.

Blair moved first, wriggling off his lover's softening cock and out from under his weight.

"Did I kill you?" Duncan asked, still unable to move at all.

"You blew out every brain cell I had left, and if I don't get them back I won't complain at all," Blair groaned, rolling to his side to smile at his lover.

"But, I didn't hurt you?" Duncan asked, reaching out one arm to pull Blair close.

"Oh no, you never hurt me. You are the most considerate, and the most incredible, lover I've ever had. And did I mention the most talented? Definitely the most beautiful, possibly the most insatiable..." Blair continued humorously, as Duncan's hand covered his softening cock.

"No, I just like to hold you," Duncan told him, tremendously pleased with Blair's compliments.

"Mmm, thank you, I feel so much better. I think I really needed that."

"My pleasure, Caro," Duncan growled softly, rolling to his side to press a kiss to Blair's shoulder.

Blair sighed contentedly, his fingers combing through his lover's tangled hair. "I'm going to have to get up and go back to those papers sooner or later," Blair told him softly, reluctant to leave the bed and Duncan's warm, sleepy body.

"I left the coffee pot on for you," Duncan mumbled sleepily, reaching for Blair's hand to press one more kiss to his palm.

"Thanks. I should get up, if I don't I'm going to fall asleep with you," Blair sat up, leaning over to kiss Duncan softly. "Sleep well, handsome."

"Mmm, I love you," Duncan mumbled, sighing happily when Blair pulled the covers up over him, kissing his forehead lightly.

Blair smiled, watching Duncan for another moment before forcing himself to crawl out of bed and back to the papers waiting to be graded. He went to the bathroom to take a quick shower, moving quietly so that he wouldn't wake Duncan, who was already snoring softly.

Blair sat on the couch, wrapped in Duncan's thick robe, his hair still wet from his shower. He sipped his coffee, thinking that this was the most peaceful he'd felt all day. He listened to his lover's breathing, looking around the loft contentedly. It felt so good here. It had felt like home from the very first moment he'd been here. Maybe he would accept Duncan's offer. Things just seemed to keep going wrong at his apartment. Every time he tried to spend any time there life seemed to get worse. He knew it would make Duncan happy, and really, he couldn't think of any reason why he shouldn't.

He loved Duncan, more than he had ever loved anyone, even Jim. Life with him was better than Blair had ever imagined it could be. Still, something inside him didn't want to give up his apartment. He hadn't had a place of his own in years. What if he'd forgotten how to be on his own? He'd assimilated his life so completely with Jim's, he became so dependent on him. Blair didn't want that to happen with Duncan. But, the two situations were so completely different. Blair knew that if he moved into the loft, Duncan would do everything he could to make Blair feel that it was his home, too.

It was something he was going to have to think about a lot more, Blair decided. Living with Duncan sounded wonderful, although part of him worried that maybe Duncan would get sick of him if he lived here. His apartment seemed like just another reminder of Jim now, and all the mistakes he'd made. Still, he wasn't sure he could give it up.

Blair picked up the folder of essays, telling himself that he didn't have to make the decision right now. Duncan had told him that if he ever changed his mind, the offer stood. That was what was so wonderful about Duncan, he never pushed him, never tried to tell him what to do, but his love and support were always there.

His lover snored softly, and Blair's pen scratched across the paper, attacking his student's sloppy grammar. The loft was dark and cozy, with just the lamp on the end table next to him casting a pool of light for him to work by. Blair tried to forget about everything else, turning his attention to his student's writing. Blocking thoughts of Jim resolutely from his mind, he concentrated on the work left to do, and peacefulness of the loft.

End Part 10

Part 11

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