Disclaimer: We don't own any of these guys, they are the brainchild and property of: Rysher,
Panzer/Davis, Greg Widen, Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, Paramount, Pet Fly Productions, UPN
and a bunch of other people. No money made, no harm intended. It's all in good fun, don't take
us too seriously.

Attention: This is an ALTERNATE UNIVERSE. Expect things to be wacky.

That said, this story takes place in it's own time period. Zen&nancy no longer feel the need to
comply to TPTB's time lines.

Story title and lyrics borrowed without permission from Bob Marley (r.i.p.)

Mucho thanks to Suze for always being there, and to MoonPuppy, who is crazy enough to be
resident beta at the House Of Slack, and the wonderful people who have written us, we're still in
shock that people like this soap opera.

Vive la RSM!

Three Little Birds

Part 25

By Zen&nancy

"Hello, MacLeod." Methos let his gaze rake slowly over the Scot standing in the middle of his living room with his mouth hanging open. Such a nice mouth, too.

"Where have you been?" Duncan asked faintly, unable to take his eyes off Methos, standing in front of his refrigerator, drinking a beer.

"Oh, here and there. Madrid, most recently. I see you've been busy, are you going to introduce us? Or at least tell him it's safe to put your sword down?"

Methos was eyeing the man behind Duncan, who hadn't spoken a word. He was frowning, standing with his arms crossed over his chest. He wasn't Immortal, but something, some memory had sparked in his head the moment the large man had burst into the loft behind Duncan. He had cold, dangerous eyes, and enough attitude for three men his size.

Blair stared at Duncan for another moment, and when he realized that Duncan wasn't going to look at him, he put the sword down. Duncan looked like he had completely forgotten the rest of the world existed; he couldn't take his eyes off the intruder.

When he was sure than Duncan wasn't going to introduce him to the condescending Adam, Blair got angrier and stalked naked into the bathroom. He thought it very unlikely that Duncan or Adam had even noticed.

Methos smiled blandly, coming around the counter. "Well, if you're not going to introduce me to your lover, at least introduce me to your friend. I'm Adam Pierson," He offered Jim his hand, not surprised by the aggressive handshake.

"Jim Ellison." Jim shook the other man's hand, looking pointedly at Duncan for some kind of explanation. He couldn't believe that Duncan was actually smiling at this person, who'd broken into his house and scared the hell out of Blair.

"Jim lives downstairs. He and Blair worked together in Cascade."

"Hmm, I see. That would make Blair the naked boy in your bed?" Methos let a slow, satisfied smile spread across his face, watching Duncan turn a very appealing shade of crimson.

Anger flashed in Jim's eyes, and he opened his mouth to tell this jerk where to stick it, and then shut it just as quickly. This was Duncan's house, and it was his right to defend Blair, at least in this situation.

"Yes. Are you staying for Christmas?" Duncan hoped he didn't sound too anxious. It was always like this, when Methos came back.

Jim looked at Duncan incredulously, he couldn't believe that he was going to let this guy ridicule Blair like that and get away with it.

"Well, I was planning on it. It seems a bit crowded here, though. I suppose I could claim Joe's couch before anyone else does. Tell me, is Amanda here yet?"

Duncan went to the kitchen, walking past Methos to the coffee maker. "No, not yet. Joe says she'll be here two days before Christmas."

Methos smiled wickedly. "Well, that's going to be entertaining. I want a front row seat for that confrontation."

Duncan laughed self consciously, feeling himself blush. "Oh come on, Adam. She's not going to be any more put out than she usually is when she comes back from God knows where and finds I'm involved with someone."

"If you say so, Mac. You've certainly shocked me," Methos grinned at him salaciously, wandering over to sprawl across the couch.

Duncan laughed, pouring water into the coffee maker. "You are not shockable, old man."

Jim watched the stranger flirt with Duncan, getting more pissed off by the minute. What the hell was wrong with Mac? He wanted to ask Duncan why the hell he was letting this condescending prick sit in his living room and insult Blair. Instead, he ground his teeth, listening to the sounds of Blair getting into the shower. Realizing that his Guide was muttering under his breath, he turned up his hearing a little, focusing on the angry whisper. Laughing at me in *my* house, drinking *my* Goddamn beer at eight in the morning! Who does he think he is, Caesar? This is the guy you've tied yourself in knots over? I don't get it, Duncan. I really don't get it. Seems like an egotistical jerk to me.

Me too, Chief, Jim thought, and had to repress a chuckle. At least Blair hadn't let this Adam guy intimidate him. Jim wondered if all Immortals had as much attitude as this one did. He was sprawled on Duncan's couch as if he owned the place. How old was he? He certainly didn't look any older than Blair, but Duncan said that they didn't age, so it was impossible to tell.

If it weren't for the condescending air, Adam wouldn't look much older than a teenager. Duncan had said that he was many times older than he was, though. Jim tried to wrap his mind around the idea that the sloppily dressed man drinking a beer on Duncan's couch at eight in the morning could be a thousand years old, and failed. Deciding that he needed to get a better take on Duncan's old friend, Jim walked over to the couch and sat directly opposite Adam in the chair, leaning towards him with his hands on his knees.

"So, what do you do?" Coming from anyone else, it would have sounded like a friendly conversation opener. Coming from Jim, it was a challenge, and a comment on his first impression of Adam Pierson.

Methos cocked his head to the side, taking his time sizing up Duncan's running partner. "Anything I like, usually."

"Adam likes to travel. So how was Madrid?" Duncan called from the kitchen, trying to head the inevitable confrontation off at the pass. It was obvious that Jim had taken an instant dislike to Methos, and from the way the old man was egging him on, it looked as if the feeling was mutual.

"So, you don't actually have a job or anything?" Jim clarified, thinking less and less of Adam by the minute.

"I like to consider disrupting MacLeod's life an occupation all by itself, but no, not one I get paid for, not currently. And what do you do for a living? Teach social etiquette, perhaps?"

"No, I'm a cop." Jim's chest puffed out to full intimidation height. If this guy wanted to start something, he was more than willing to accommodate him.

"Really? Well that's a surprise."

Duncan watched the little cat grin spread across the old man's features and realized Methos was having just a little too much fun. "Coffee, Jim?"

"Yeah, sure." Jim got up, coming to take a cup from Duncan with raised eyebrows. He tried to ask Duncan what the hell was wrong with him with his eyes, but Duncan wasn't nearly as good at interpreting his looks as Blair was, and he wasn't sure that Mac got it.

The water shut off in the bathroom, and Jim tuned in to his Guide, who was dragging a brush through his hair. Okay, Blair, let's go make nice with Mr. Snotty. Maybe if we're really lucky, Duncan will actually remember we exist.

Jim lost it. As soon as the words "Mr. Snotty" came out of Blair's mouth, he laughed out loud. Duncan had taken his coffee to the living room. He looked up at Jim, a quizzical look on his face, but he was talking to Adam.

"So Joe's doing the usual Christmas bash. Have you talked to him yet?"

"No, I just got in. Quite an interesting welcome it was, too." Methos crinkled his eyes at Duncan, letting Duncan's embarrassment soothe his annoyance. Picking Mac's lock and finding a piece of fluff in his bed was always an unwanted risk, but finding a very pretty boy with Mac's sword in his hand had been a slap in the face.

Blair came out of the bathroom in jeans and a t-shirt, throwing Jim a warning look across the room. His Sentinel swallowed his laughter, sending him a look back that told him he agreed with him completely. Well, at least he had Jim on his side. Of course, Jim was always on his side, that was one thing he could count on.

Going to the coat rack, Blair picked up his shoes from the floor. Walking past Jim on his way to the living room he managed to thank him and warn him to be nice without saying a word. Jim grinned back at him, shaking his head, but his eyes said he would behave if he had to.

Blair walked around the back of the couch, sitting down in the chair next to Adam to put his shoes on. He and Duncan were talking about the Christmas party, and he waited until Duncan had finished before he spoke. "Hi, I'm Duncan's boyfriend, Blair, and I actually do live here. I'm really sorry I freaked out on you, man, but I didn't know whether or not you were a friend. I'm not used to people wandering in without warning."

Duncan laughed, "Adam's like that. I guess I'm used to it."

Blair felt jealousy raise its ugly little head, and pushed it down again. "Well, I'm glad you're here, Adam. Duncan's been worrying about whether or not you'd make it."

"Has he? Well, I couldn't disappoint him, not on his birthday. Besides, old friends are getting fewer and farther between."

"Adam..." Duncan didn't know what to say, especially in front of Blair and Jim.

There was a tense second when no one spoke, and then Blair took the opportunity to ask Adam directly, "So, how old are you, exactly?"

Anger flashed in the old man's eyes, but he turned to ask Duncan mildly, "You told him?" His eyes said what did you tell him?

"It was inevitable. I decided Blair would be safer if he knew than if I kept it from him."

"That's quite a change in philosophy. When did this come about?"

"Adam, it's my business," Duncan answered quietly, not wanting to fight about it. He knew how Methos felt about telling mortals, and on the whole he agreed with him. However, hiding it from Blair could only put him in danger, and he wouldn't do that, and he wouldn't give him up. Not this time.

"Of course it is, I guess I just didn't realize that I was part of your business."

"All he's told me is that you're a lot older than he is, okay? You can relax, man, I'm not about to go alert the media. I actually have a really good track record when it comes to keeping important secrets."

"Let me guess, you're a Russian spy."

"He's an anthropologist, actually," Jim told him, coming around the counter with barely disguised aggression. If Duncan didn't start sticking up for Blair soon, he was going to tell this asshole where to stick it, Duncan's home or not.

"Blair teaches at the University, he's just received his doctorate."

"Congratulations. What was the subject of your dissertation?" Methos turned back to Blair, trying to curb his acidic tongue.

Blair sent a quick look of question to Jim, who shrugged his shoulders expressively.


Adam raised his eyebrows at him, "How did you get interested in such an arcane subject?"

"You know about Sentinels?" Blair leaned towards him, excitement sparking in his bright blue eyes.

Methos tried not to smile, and thought about what he should tell Duncan's lover. He let his eyes wander to Jim, leaning on the counter top with his arms crossed over his massive chest. So, the cop was a Sentinel. That made a little more sense.

"Yes, I do, a bit. Well, Joe'll be opening for lunch soon, I think I'll go see him. It's good to see you, Mac. Do I get to take you out for lunch for your birthday?"

"I'd love to. Sunday afternoon?" Duncan got to his feet, walking his friend back to the lift.

"Sunday it is. I'm sure I'll see you before then, though."

"Of course you will. Come back for dinner tonight?" Duncan smiled, completely oblivious to the death look Jim sent him.

Methos was a little more aware of Jim's unfriendliness. He hadn't even thought about a Sentinel in four hundred years. They made him nervous. Well, at least this one did.

"Actually, that's probably not the best idea. I'm sure Joe will want me to be at the bar, and I think you may have other plans. I'll talk to you tomorrow, how's that?"

Duncan shrugged agreeably, "All right, tomorrow, then. It's good to see you, I'm really glad you came back."

Methos looked at him speculatively, as if he wasn't sure that this was really true, and then he smiled, unreadable eyes crinkling as he stepped into the elevator. "It's good to be here. I've missed it."

Duncan turned from the gate to find Jim standing next to the desk with his arms crossed over his chest, glaring at him.

"What the hell is wrong with you Mac?"

"Excuse me?" Duncan asked him, coming to stand in front of the larger man. He'd had just about enough of Jim Ellison's macho routine.

"I asked you what's wrong with you? If you want to let your friend walk all over you, that's your business, but letting him treat Sandburg like shit in his own goddamn house is a hell of a lot less than I expected from you."

"What the in the hell are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about the fact that the guy breaks into your house, scares the living shit out of Blair, then stands there and insults him, and you didn't say one word, you just let him." Jim felt his anger trying to get out of control, and clenched his jaw, pushing it down. He was determined to have this conversation with Duncan, and he couldn't do that if he was too angry.

"Blair, do you think Adam insulted you?" Duncan demanded, glaring at Jim.

Blair shook his head at his lover incredulously. Duncan hadn't looked at him since he'd walked out of the bathroom, not once. He hadn't even introduced him.

"No, Duncan, Adam didn't insult me, you did." With that, he launched himself out of the chair and across the loft to the door. "I'll be downstairs, hangin' out with Spence. I think I wanna miss this one."

"Nice going, Mac. Now he really feels like shit." Jim couldn't believe he was seeing this behavior from Duncan. Duncan had always been just as protective of Blair as he was. Was it because the jerk was Immortal, that his sense of reason went right out the window? Why hadn't Duncan told Adam to treat Blair respectfully or get the hell out of his house?

"My fault? You're the one starting an argument over nothing," Duncan told him, thoroughly annoyed. He stalked past Jim to the couch, dropping down in the corner.

Jim followed him, not letting up for a second. "This is not nothing, MacLeod. You heard Blair, you insulted him. He stormed out of here because you hurt his feelings. What are you going to do about it?"

"That's none of your damn business! My relationship with Blair is not open for discussion." Duncan was trying not to lose his temper, but Jim was crossing the line.

"Blair is my business. Period." Jim wasn't about to let this go. He wouldn't let Duncan treat Blair this way, he just couldn't stand by and watch Duncan hurt him.

Duncan jumped to his feet. "You're crossing the line, Ellison! You wouldn't even be here if I hadn't been so understanding about the Sentinel crap!" Duncan had lost control and wasn't holding back.

Jim reeled back, as if Duncan had hit him. "That's low and you know it!" His voice was deep and threatening. "I'm just trying to look out for Blair, not stir up all this happy horseshit. I'm not about to sit on the sidelines and watch him get his heart broken over some skinny, snotty, limey asshole who has no concept of manners or how to treat people! Just 'cause this guy has got you wrapped around his little finger doesn't mean he can ridicule Blair in his own home. I'm not going to let you get away with treating him like he's invisible."

"Wrapped around his little finger? You know nothing about it! You have no right to tell me how to handle my relationships. You're certainly no expert on compassion yourself. I still remember what Blair's face looked like after you paid him that little visit to his apartment a couple of months ago." Jim had no right to lecture him on how to treat Blair.

"You son of a bitch!" Jim lunged for Duncan, knocking two teeth loose before Duncan knew what had hit him.

Duncan's fist connected with Jim's stomach, knocking the wind out him and sending him stumbling back. They stood glowering at each other for a long, tense moment. The air between them was charged with hostility, but neither one made another move.

Jim sat down, he hadn't meant to hit Duncan, and he didn't want to do it again. "Okay, let's try to talk to each other instead of pushing each other's buttons. This isn't about you and me, it's about Blair. Can't you see what you did to him this morning?"

"This is none of your business! You have no right to tell me how to handle my relationship with Blair. I have gone out of my way to stay out of what goes on between the two of you, and I expect you to do the same." Duncan knew that he had handled the situation badly this morning, but it was still none of Jim's business.

"You're telling me that you expect me just stand back and watch you hurt Blair? That that's what you'd do if the tables were turned? I don't think so, Mac. I think you'd be in my face, telling me exactly what I'm telling you now." Jim needed Duncan to calm down and try to see things rationally.

Duncan sat down in the chair and took a deep breath. Jim was right, he would be in Jim's face if the tables were turned. Shit. He'd been so thrown by finding Methos in his home, that he'd lost control of everything else that was going on around him. Looking back he saw Methos as Blair might have, and it wasn't very nice. The old man's smart remarks had always just rolled off his shoulders, he hadn't realized that Blair would take Methos seriously.

"You're right, I would. You don't understand, though, the situation with Adam is complicated..."

"How complicated?"

"That's none of your business, either." Duncan looked up sharply at Jim, who sat across from him with his hands on his knees.

"If it's going to hurt Blair it is."

"It won't."

"Bullshit. It already has. Talk to me, Duncan. What's the story with this guy?"

Duncan sighed, and shook his head. Falling back on the couch, he let his head rest on the back, staring up at the ceiling for a long minute. "He's my friend, and I value his friendship, but over the past few years it's been strained, and there is very little trust left between us."

"Why?" Jim was determined to understand exactly what was going on between Duncan and Adam Pierson.

Duncan sighed, sounding aggravated, and spit it out. "I killed his lover, among other things. That would be the most recent, though." He didn't want to talk about the mistakes he'd made with Methos to Jim; he didn't want to talk about them at all. This might be his last chance to make things right with the old man, and he was already afraid that Methos wasn't going to let him try.

"He's your friend?" Jim had to clarify, sure that somewhere along the line he'd missed a vital piece of information.

"I think so."

Duncan sounded lost, and miserable. Jim felt bad, but he wasn't going to leave this one alone. "So the guy you took out, he was Immortal too?"

"Yes. He was a very gifted man, a poet, who had lost his faith in life and pursued death with a passion that took no regard for mortal lives. He caused the death of a young man who had a very promising future. I took the responsibility for righting that wrong, and took his head. It wasn't something I wanted to do; I felt that I didn't have any choice. Later, I wished I'd chosen differently. That's just my most recent betrayal of our friendship, though, not nearly the worst."

"I see. Do I get to hear the other side of the story, or are we going to condemn you without cross examining the evidence?"

Jim's defense of his character made Duncan smile. He shrugged, trying to find the words to explain what had happened with the horsemen, without revealing the old man's secrets or his age. "I'm not sure there is one, not for the rest of it at least. What I did was wrong. I betrayed our friendship, I didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. I trusted someone else when they spoke against him, someone who had a very biased view of the circumstances. I believed what they told me, without trying to hear his side of the story."

"You're not going to tell me the story?"


"Okay, are you going to tell me why you turn into an airhead every time he looks at you?"

Duncan blushed, but he looked Jim directly in the eye, shrugging his shoulders. "I can't help it. He makes me feel like a teenager. His power intimidates me, and attracts me."

Jim thought about that, trying to understand. He hadn't felt any kind of power from Adam, just a lot of attitude. He didn't see what Duncan could possibly be attracted to, but that, he decided, really wasn't any of his business. "So this is an Immortality thing?"

"Yeah, you could say that, basically."

"Look, Mac, I'm sorry I blew up at you, and I really didn't mean to hit you. Maybe you're right, maybe it isn't any of my business. I'm not trying to tell you how to handle your friend, or your relationship with Blair, but I'm not gonna watch him get hurt."

"I'm not going to do anything to intentionally hurt Blair, Jim, I love him. I feel like a moron for the way I acted this morning. I'll make it up to him, I promise."

Jim nodded, smiling at Duncan for the first time since they'd come into the loft from their run. "That sounds like a plan. Don't worry about it, man, we're all blockheaded about the people we care about sometimes. Just make sure he knows that this guy isn't a threat, he'll get over it. Sandburg has a pretty healthy self-image. Unless you give him reason to, he's not gonna let this guy make him feel inferior."

Blair stomped down the stairs, listening to Duncan and Jim's voices rise in volume behind him. He was very glad he'd decided not to mediate the coming argument. Having Jim jump to his defense the moment Adam was gone was gratifying, but it also made him feel like shit. It was embarrassing, to have Jim lay into Duncan and see the total lack of comprehension in his lover's eyes. Duncan hadn't even looked at him when he asked if Adam had insulted him. That hurt. Adam and his attitude were a big disappointment, but he could deal with that. It was the way his lover had forgotten he existed as soon as Adam appeared that he couldn't handle.

The dojo was dim and empty when he wandered in, the only light coming from the office on the other side of the big glass window. The glass was covered with the snow pictures he and Spencer had made yesterday, and they sparkled from the light behind them. Spence was sitting at the desk, working on the computer. The dojo seemed huge this morning, Blair's footsteps echoed slightly as he crossed the room. Knocking lightly on the open door as he walked past it, he offered Spencer a weak smile.

"Morning. Place feels weird all closed up. No more classes?"

Spencer saved his work and looked up at Blair, shaking his head. "Nope, closed till New Years Day. We realized last year that it was only costing us money keeping the place open the week before Christmas, and all of the classes ended last week. Next six week block starts the second week of January. Nobody has time to work out before the holidays, and this way we can go all out decorating for the party without worrying about keeping the space open for business. I took the ring down this morning, and I'm going to move all the free weights into the locker room. I don't want any of the kids messing around with them during the party. Broken toes aren't a very good Christmas present."

Blair laughed, shaking his head. "Definitely not. Neither are claims on Duncan's insurance. Okay, what else do we have to do to kid proof this place?"

"That's about it. I've already taken all the low hanging sharp objects off the walls. I put the plastic safety guards on all the open outlets, too, so I think we're good. I'm just going over the schedule for next month, and then I'm officially on Christmas break, too."

"Sounds good to me, Spence." Blair flopped down in the chair across from Spencer, glad to be away from the tension upstairs.

"Are Mac and Jim just about ready to hang ornaments?"

"Oh, man, I have no idea. Duncan's not really aware of my existence this morning, and Jim's in a rotten mood. It could take awhile."

Spencer shook his head, getting up to pour Blair a cup of coffee from the pot behind him on the shelf. "Sounds messy, you wanna talk about it?"

"I don't know, it's really stupid."

"Fights are always stupid. He really stomped on your feelings, huh?"

Blair accepted the coffee Spencer offered him gratefully, "Totally. Thank you, so much. I haven't even had any coffee yet."

"Well that's enough to ruin your morning right there."

"Definitely a contributing factor. Don't you hate it when people disappoint you?" Blair wasn't sure if he was talking about Adam or Duncan or both.

"Yeah, it's a drag. Usually it's because you're expecting them to act out of character, though. How did he let you down?"

Blair rolled his eyes, not really embarrassed to talk be talking about his relationship with Duncan with Spencer, but still feeling like a teenager. "I don't know, this old friend of his showed up, broke into the loft, actually, and he was just, like, a total jerk to me. Duncan completely let him get away with it, and it's like, what am I supposed to do? It's his friend, you know? I didn't want to start shit with him, but it really annoyed me that Duncan didn't say anything to him. He didn't even introduce me as his boyfriend. He didn't introduce me at all. In fact, he didn't even look at me the whole time the guy was there."

"That sucks, I'm really sorry. Why do you think Mac reacted that way?"

Blair shrugged, gulping more coffee. "I don't know, man. I get the feeling he's got a serious history with this guy. I think it's pretty complicated."

"So maybe when he showed up out of the blue it just totally threw Mac for a loop, and he didn't know how to deal?"

"Yeah, I guess. It doesn't bother me so much that he didn't stick up for me, it's that he totally ignored me. I mean, I'm his mate, right? He couldn't even introduce me."

"Did you give him a chance to?" Spencer knew that misunderstandings like this were usually all about lack of communication.

Blair thought about it for a minute. "I think so. Maybe not. I was already pretty upset by that time."

"Did you at least let him know that he pissed you off?" Spencer turned around to pour himself a second cup of coffee.

Blair laughed, shaking his still damp hair. "Nah, Jim beat me to it. He's like that. Right now he's upstairs arguing with Duncan about the whole thing. Poor Duncan."

"That's not good. I mean, I know he's your best friend and he's gonna stick up for you, but you should talk to Mac yourself, you know? He won't take it as well from Jim."

"Oh man, understatement of the century. You're really good at this conflict thing. Were you a psych major or something?" Blair knew that Spencer had gone to college for two years at the University before dropping out and going to work for Duncan.

Spencer laughed, leaning back in his chair. "No, dude, my girlfriend's a social worker. Same thing."

Blair smiled, realizing that he felt a lot better. "You should be one. Thanks, Spence, I think I feel better about the whole thing."

Spencer shut down the computer, grinning at Blair when he leaned back in his chair again, his hands behind his head. "Well, I am now officially on vacation, so if you'd like to feel a lot better, we could step out to my office behind the dumpster and smoke this Christmas joint I've got in my pocket." Unbuttoning the breast pocket on his army jacket, he pulled out a cigarette sized joint rolled with a red and green stripped rolling paper.

Blair wiggled his eyebrows at Spencer, contemplating the festive offering. "Well, they should be at it up there for at least an hour. Oh man, I don't know. I haven't gotten high in like, five years. Living with a cop kinda puts a damper on partying. Sounds really good. What the hell. I'm gonna get totally stupid on you, though."

Spencer laughed, getting up from the desk and turning off the lamp. "That's cool, dude. I think you need to de-stress this morning. Let's go out back."

Blair laughed, following him out of the office to the dojo's back door. "Wake and Bake. I haven't done that since college."

"You're on vacation, dude, you're allowed." Spencer held the door open for him, grabbing a piece of wood up against the building to prop it open. Looking carefully up and down the alley, Spencer wandered over to the dumpster. Blair followed him, leaning against the brick wall.

"Man, I feel like I'm in high school, ditching class."

Spencer laughed, nodding his head, "Oh yeah, I did a whole lot of that." He lit the joint, turning his head into his jacket to shield it from the wind.

"Not me, man, I was a total geek. I didn't smoke pot till the summer before college. And then it was on an Indian reservation with my mom."

"No way, dude, you're mom's Indian?"

Blair choked on his hit, passing the joint back before he dropped it. He laughed, shaking his head until he could talk again. "No, my mom's not Indian, we were just hanging out with some friends in New Mexico."

Spencer took a big hit off the joint, passing it back to him. "Oh, okay, I get it. What time is it? I gotta meet Colleen at the mall at ten."

Blair checked his watch, sucking gingerly on the joint. "It's only nine fifteen, you're cool. You're getting stoned before the mall? Isn't that dangerous?"

Spencer laughed, "Nah, it's better that way. She's just gonna drag me through the place anyway. If I'm really lucky, there's a Cin-a-Bon and an Orange Julius in my future."

Blair shook his head in sympathy, trying to talk while holding his hit. "I'm so glad we already got the mall over with." He exhaled noisily, managing not to cough this time. "Actually, we had a really good time. Jim and Duncan were both in good moods. Too bad it couldn't last."

"Hang in there, dude. It'll get better. It has to, it's Christmas."

Blair giggled, taking the joint back carefully, "I think I already worked that angle, man. I might actually have to get them to deal this time."

"Oh, you can do that, Blair, I have total faith in you. Neither of them can say no to you, that much is obvious."

Blair smiled, not really surprised. "Really? That's cool. Just don' tell Jim that."

Spencer laughed, taking the last hit and stubbing out the roach on the side of the building. "No, that wouldn't be a good move. He's a really good guy, though."

"Yeah, he is. Brrr," Blair rubbed his bare arms, waiting for Spencer to pocket the end of the joint. "It's freezing out here."

Going back into the dojo, Blair had to wait for his eyes to adjust to the dim light. "Let's turn the Christmas lights on."

"Sure, no problem." Spencer went to the outlet on the office wall, plugging in the extension cord. "There you go. I'm gonna have to cut out on you now, though. If I keep Colleen waiting I'm gonna miss out on my orange smoothy."

"That's cool. Are you gonna come back later?" Blair flopped down on the floor, realizing that he was a lot more stoned than he'd thought he was.

"Probably. Depends on how bad Colleen wears me out at the mall. I'll give you guys a call on the office phone when we get back, but don't wait for me if you're ready to start."

"Okay, sounds good. Thanks, Spence, for everything. I feel a whole lot better."

"Oh, no problem, dude, don't even worry about it. Hey, I almost forgot, one of these is for you." Spencer came back to Blair, who was lying in the middle of floor. Pulling an even bigger joint out of his pocket, also rolled in the Christmas papers, he handed it to Blair. "I didn't think I'd have a chance to smoke one with you, but I was gonna give you this for Christmas."

"Hey, thanks! That's really nice of you, Spence."

"Merry Christmas, Blair."

"Merry Christmas." Blair grinned up at Spencer, who looked like a giant from flat on his back on the floor.

"Take care, dude. I'll see you later." Spencer headed for the door, his back pack slung over his shoulder.

"See ya later." Blair answered, listening to Spencer's footsteps down the hall.

Resting the back of his head on his arm, Blair watched the Christmas lights. He followed the path of the blinking lights through the pattern of stars on the ceiling. He hoped that Jim and Duncan weren't yelling at each other upstairs, but at this point, he decided he didn't care. Well, he did care, but he needed a break from playing mediator between the two of them.

"Oh man..." Blair breathed, feeling himself relax completely for the first time in days. "Amazing." He grinned to himself, feeling silly and not caring at all. He was a little bit worried that Jim and Duncan would be angry with him, neither of them were very tolerant on the subject of pot smoking. "Who cares, I'm an adult. I can get stoned at nine in the morning on Christmas vacation if I want to." Blair told himself, deciding that maybe he'd just spend the rest of the morning watching the lights, and let Jim and Duncan find him when they were ready.

"We should go downstairs, see if maybe we can talk him into going out to breakfast, what do you think?" Jim got up from the couch, clapping Duncan on the shoulder.

"Yeah, let's go find him. Think he's avoiding me?"

Jim chuckled, cocking his head to listen. "Maybe. But if he is, he's doing it in the dojo."

"Oh, right." Duncan smiled, shaking his head. "That's got to be incredibly useful."

"It is." Jim held the gate open, waiting for Duncan to follow him into the elevator.

Halfway down to the first floor, Jim sniffed suspiciously. "God damn it! I told Spencer if I ever caught him smoking in the building I'd kick his butt."

"What are you talking about?"

"I smell pot, MacLeod."

The elevator bounced to a stop and Duncan pulled the gate up. Both of them stopped short when they stepped out of the lift, staring at Blair on his back in the middle of the floor.

"Hi guys."


"What Jim?"

"You're stoned!"

"Yeah Jim, whatever. Hi Duncan, are we cool?"

Duncan came to squat next to his lover, an uncertain smile on his face. "Yeah, I hope so. Can I take you out to breakfast?"

"Mmm, pancakes. Okay, I'll deal with you and the real world for pancakes. I want my sunglasses though, definitely. It's way too bright out there."

"Blair!" Jim was starting to get angry. What the hell was wrong with his Guide? Sure, Duncan had been a jerk, and he was willing to admit Blair had a lousy morning, but Blair deciding that getting stoned was the answer to his problems was totally out of character.

"Aw, come on, Jim. Just be mellow, okay? I am so not up to dealing with a fight right now."

"That's probably because you're stoned out of your mind, Chief."

"Quit it, you're being The Man."

"I am not. I'm being reasonable. You expect me to be happy about the fact that you couldn't deal with what happened upstairs, so you got stoned? And where the hell is Spencer? I told him that if I ever caught him smoking in here I'd kick his butt."

"He left. And just for the record, Dad, we smoked the joint outside, in the alley. So lay off." Blair made puppy eyes at Jim, who was standing over him with his fists on his hips, looking for all the world like the over-protective father he'd never had. "Please, Jim? It's not that big a deal, man. So I smoked a joint with Spence, what do you wanna do here, ground me?"

Jim made a conscious effort to control his rising blood pressure, and sighed, shaking his head at his Guide. "Fine. You wanna put that stuff in your body, that's your problem. I always thought you were Mr. Pure, I-get-high-all-on-my-own."

"I am, most of the time. Come on, man, relax. I didn't lie to you, I haven't smoked a joint in five years, or more. I came down here and Spence offered and I said what the hell, this day is already fucked, why not?"

Jim frowned, not really happy about it. He knew he didn't have any right to tell Blair what to do. Blair was an adult, and he wasn't a cop anymore. That's what the problem really was, not that Blair had gotten high. He was glad that Blair hadn't said it, his Guide was sensitive to the fact that he was missing his badge like he'd miss his right arm. "Okay, fine. Look, Chief, I think I'm just gonna go upstairs and relax for awhile. Why don't you and Duncan come and get me when you get back from breakfast and we can work on getting the ornaments unpacked."

"Okay, man, whatever. See ya later." Blair knew Jim needed some time to himself, and since he and Duncan looked like they'd settled their argument on their own, he was happy to leave it that way. He could get the details out of them later. Right now it was probably better not to try and deal with it.

"Come on, Caro, let's go out to breakfast and you can tell me all about what I jerk I was."

"Duncan, you were a jerk."

"I know. I'm sorry. I really am. I didn't mean to be. Can we talk about it?"

Blair sighed, offering a hand for Duncan to pull him up. "Yeah, sure."

"Hello... Anybody home?" Methos closed the door to Joe's tavern behind him, turning to find Joe behind the bar.

"Adam! It's great to see you. Want a beer?" Joe was drawing a pint from the tap, and slid it towards him as he came up to the bar.

"That's a much nicer welcome than I got over at the loft. Thank you, Joe." Taking the pint of Amber Ale, Methos drained half the glass, turning to look around the empty bar as he did so.

"Oh, you went to see Mac?"

"Yes, I did. Why didn't you warn me? Some Watcher you are."

"Hey, how could I warn you? I didn't even know you were coming in. You don't write, you don't call..." Joe laughed, shaking his head at his friend. Adam appeared and disappeared as often as he pleased, and he never gave anyone any warning.

"I've been busy. I think I may have to stick around for a while this time though, it's all just a bit too entertaining."

"What, Mac madly in love with a hippie anthropologist?" Joe grinned at Methos across the bar, hoping to goad a reaction out of the old man.

"The whole Sentinel/Guide/Immortal love triangle going on there is just a little out of character for MacLeod, to say the least. What do you think about it, Joe?"

Joe raised an eyebrow at Methos. "What are talking about? Love triangle? Isn't that what Blair did his dissertation on, Sentinels? Some kinda genetic throwback thing, sensory perception?"

Methos set his empty glass down on the bar, and burst into laughter. "I take it you are not aware of the fact that Blair's champion is the Sentinel? I'm assuming he's the Guide, they usually come in pairs."

"Are you gonna explain this one, old man, or are you just gonna act smug? What's Mac mixed up in?"

"You really don't know?" Methos looked at Joe, perplexed.

"Look, I haven't seen that much of him lately, he's in love. He's like that when he's found somebody important. He told him, you know, he told him everything. The three of them were in here last week, Mac seemed happy. Delirious, actually, but I'm not gonna give him a hard time, he deserves a little happiness." So do you, was what Joe thought, but didn't say. Methos still looked as tired and unhappy with himself as he had the last time he'd seen him, the night Mac had taken Byron's head.

"I agree, wholeheartedly. Duncan deserves to be happy." Methos offered Joe his empty glass, and nodded his thanks when it was returned to him full.

"So what's the problem?"

"No problem. I'm just a little surprised, that's all."

"You're going to tell me that you, the five thousand year old man, are homophobic?"

"No, certainly not. I'm just surprised to find Duncan between a Sentinel and his Guide, that's all. It's a sticky place to be, at best. I hope he doesn't get hurt."

"Okay, you're going to drink your beer, and then you're going to explain this Sentinel/Guide thing to me, slowly, from the beginning."

"The beginning is a long time ago, Joe." Methos spoke softly, memories drifting across his hazel eyes.

"You know about this from experience?"

"Yeah, I Guided a Sentinel, back when they were necessary. What's this one doing in Seacouver? They usually end up in mental hospitals these days," Methos mused, nursing his beer.

Joe's impatience got the best of him. "Methos, spill!"

"Well, it's very simple, really, Joe. Jim, that's his name, Jim? Well, he is a Sentinel, and Blair, Duncan's new love interest, is his Guide. How Duncan came to have them living in his building with him, I have no idea. The Sentinel/Guide relationship is usually a lifetime pairing, for the Sentinel at any rate. They don't tend to survive very long without their shadow."

"Okay, so you're telling me that Jim Ellison, Blair's cop friend, has these super senses?"


"And Blair is his Guide?"


"What the hell does that mean?" Joe demanded, about to tell the old man that he was on his last nerve.

"It's not easy to explain."


"They need to be grounded, they need a physical point of reference, and the Guide becomes something like a conductor for the Sentinel's power. It's a very intimate relationship. I don't understand what Duncan's doing in the middle of it. Or how that little boy can be a Guide, for that matter. He doesn't look like he could Guide a dog on a leash."

"Blair's a bright kid, Adam. Do I sense some kind of jealousy here?"

"You sense an undying thirst. Give me another."

"That's what I like about you, old man, I can always count on you for an evasive answer."

"No problem, Joe, my pleasure."

"So, wait a minute. You're telling me that you think that Mac, and Blair, and Jim, are all..."

"Sleeping together. Yes, that would be the natural assumption, unless they're completely crazy..."

"So you have a problem with what? The fact that Mac has a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend, or this Sentinel shit?"

"Neither. Why are you convinced I have a problem?"

"Oh no, your feathers are definitely ruffled, old man. Don't try and lie to me. Which is it?"


"I see. Why?" Joe came around the bar to join his friend on one of the empty stools.

"That's more than I'm willing to share, Joe, as much as I treasure these little heart to hearts of ours."

Joe threw back his head and laughed, a conspiratory glint in his eyes. "All right, I'm not going to make you spit it out, Adam. I think you're going to have to wait a while anyway. He's pretty wrapped up in this guy."

"I know, that's what I'm worried about. I just don't want to see him get his heart trampled. If Blair is his lover, then he's already playing second fiddle, no matter how they've worked it out. I can't imagine a Guide choosing anything or anyone over their charge, unless he's not really a Guide at all..."

"I'm not following you, Adam."

"Joe, I'd like to get a copy of Blair's dissertation, do you think you could do that for me?"

"Yeah, I guess. It's public domain. I'll look it up this afternoon, I gotta go to the library anyway. It's probably on microfiche, do you want me to get you a hard copy?"

"That would be very helpful. I'd like to know exactly how Duncan's boyfriend learned about Sentinels in the first place. It's never been common knowledge, not in any time."

"Well, if you know so much, why don't you tell him about it, maybe you can help him out."

Methos laughed, shaking his head. "Oh no, I'm not getting involved. Not in this. I will look out for our swooning Scot, though. If Blair is using him, I won't allow it."

"Using him? How do you mean?"

"I don't know how to explain that to you, Joe. Just trust me on this one."

"I trust you Adam."

Methos allowed a real reaction to sneak through his defenses. "Really? Still?"

"You have to ask? I've always trusted you, old man. You've never given me any reason not to."

"I guess I haven't. Do you mind if I sleep on your couch? I don't think Duncan wants me on his tonight."

"That's fine. You can help me set this place up for the party."

"Sounds good, Joe. I'm glad I came home for the holidays."

"So am I, Adam, we missed you. Mac's been worried sick about you, actually. You two really should talk..."

"I know. Maybe. I was a bit of an ass back there, it may take him a few days to warm up to me." He offered Joe a half hearted smile.

Joe laughed, shaking his head. "You, a smart ass? That's hard to believe."

End Part 25

Part 26

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