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 8

By Zen&nancy

Duncan's alarm clock rang loudly, the sound bouncing off the walls of the loft.

"AAhhhgg, make it stop!" Blair half groaned-half yelled from under a pillow. He was buried entirely under the covers, his head shoved under, rather than on top of the pillow.

"Duncan! Shut. It. Off!"

"Okay, relax Caro," Duncan rolled to the far side of the bed, finding the button that silenced the alarm.

Sitting up in bed, Duncan raked his fingers through his hair, looking at the lump under the cover that he was fairly certain was Blair, "Good morning love," Duncan pushed the pillow off Blair's head, ruffling the tangled curls.

Blair's voice was hoarse, "Duncan, I love you, but if you don't shut up and stop touching me I'll take your head, I swear it!"

"Okay... Um, coffee?" Duncan asked, much more quietly.

"Coffee would be good," Blair hadn't moved at all, his hair was plastered against the side of his face, one curl hovered over his lower lip. He spit it out with a disgusted little "phh" sound, turning his face into the sheets.

"Hangover?" Duncan asked, remembering to speak quietly.

A pained groan was the only answer Duncan got. Blair's eyes were still closed. His arm dragged slowly up to cover his face with his hand.

"Poor baby," Duncan murmured, trying to remember a hangover remedy. All he could think of was the traditional hair of the dog, and he thought mentioning alcohol to his rather grumpy lover might be dangerous.

"Something died in my mouth," Blair moaned, the words barely intelligible.

"Coffee," Duncan answered decisively, rolling out of bed.

"Ugh," Blair grunted as Duncan's weight caused the mattress to shift under him, "Hurts."

Duncan went to the counter to start coffee, Blair staggered to the bathroom. Duncan listened to the sound of water running, picturing his lover brushing his teeth while counting teaspoons of coffee grounds. He smiled, thinking of how much fun a drunk Blair had been. He couldn't remember the last time he had laughed that much in bed. Poor Blair, he was paying for their revelry, while Duncan felt almost obscenely jubilant.

Duncan went to his desk, bending to open the bottom drawer. He took out a bottle of aspirin, breaking the safety seal. When he turned around Blair was standing behind him, still looking very fuzzy.

"Why do you have a first aid kit and aspirin in your desk? You're Immortal, remember?"

"Yes, but my lover isn't. Here, coffee's almost done."

Blair smiled, in spite of the throbbing in his head. It was so like Duncan, to remember to buy aspirin to keep in the loft for him. "You know, a boy scout isn't a bad thing to have," Blair took the bottle of pills, looking up at Duncan from under his hair.

Duncan almost swept Blair up into his arms, but he remembered just in time. He followed Blair's shuffle to the counter instead, pulling coffee cups from the shelf for them. Blair leaned his elbows on the counter, propping his head in his hands.

Duncan bent his head to place a kiss on Blair's bare shoulder, murmuring, "Drink the coffee Caro."

"Mmm," Blair answered, reaching for the pot.

Blair gulped his first cup standing at the counter next to the coffee maker. He poured himself a second cup and carried it into the living room, sinking very slowly onto the couch. Setting his cup on the coffee table, he pressed his fingers to his temples again, groaning softly.

"Did you take the aspirin, sweetie?"

"Huh? Yeah, I did. I'm sorry, I'll be closer to human soon, I promise. I didn't mean to bite your head off."

"It's okay, Caro. I know what a hangover feels like."


Duncan recognized the curious anthropologist side of Blair pushing through his hangover. "Really. Although we have to drink a tremendous amount for the alcohol to remain in the blood overnight."

"How much?" Blair asked curiously.

Duncan laughed, "Enough for me to have at least a dozen very embarrassing, foggy memories."

He came over to sit next to Blair on the couch. They drank their coffee together without any more words. Duncan decided Blair's headache would benefit from the quiet, and Blair concentrated on getting another cup of coffee into his somewhat uncertain stomach.

Duncan set his cup on the table, kissing Blair's shoulder again. "I'm going to take a shower, okay?"

"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute. I think I need another cup."

"Sounds good. I'll wash your hair for you," Duncan promised, kissing the top of Blair's head before heading for the bathroom.

Blair dragged himself back to the coffee pot, thinking that Duncan knew him too well. That was just about the only motivation that Duncan could offer him right now that would keep him from crawling right back into bed. One of Duncan's scalp massages sounded like the very best cure for his headache. Blair smiled, thinking about it, and poured himself another cup of coffee.

The knock on the door made him jump, spilling some of his coffee over his hand and the counter top. "Shit!" Blair exclaimed, setting the cup down and reaching for a sponge.

"Hang on a minute," Blair called, wincing at the volume of his own voice. He went back to the bed to pull on Duncan's robe before answering the loud knocking.

Blair fumbled with the tie to the robe on his way back to the door. It was much too long, dragging on the floor behind him, but it was definitely preferable to answering Duncan's door in his boxer shorts.

He unlocked the door, cracking it open. Joe was standing in the doorway, leaning on his cane. He surveyed Blair's rumpled, groggy appearance, grinning.

"Morning Blair."

"That's what they keep telling me. Duncan's in the shower. 'C'mon in."

"You look like hell," Joe followed Blair into the loft.

"Thanks. Coffee?" Blair squinted at Joe from under his hair. Sunlight was streaming in the loft's windows, and piercing through his skull.

"Yeah, that sounds good. Are you gonna live?"

Blair laughed wryly,"Yeah, I think so. This is why I don't drink."

"I suppose Mac was his usual cheerful self this morning? That must have been rough. I hate morning people. That's why owning a bar is so good for me, I hardly ever have to see them."

"Oh man, I'm with you. Yeah, he's way too awake," Blair nodded, drinking the coffee still left in his cup after the spill.

Joe followed Blair back to the living room, sitting in Duncan's chair. Blair curled up on the couch, pulling his feet up and wrapping Duncan's robe around himself.

Joe noticed how at home Blair was in the loft and guessed that he had spent a great deal of time here lately. It wasn't all that unusual for MacLeod to develop serious attachments quickly, and it seemed that he was very much attached to Blair Sandburg.

"You know Blair, I'm really glad that you and Duncan got together, it's the happiest I've seen him in years. You seem to be really good for him."

Blair was a little surprised at Joe's frankness, but tremendously pleased to have Duncan's Watcher's blessing. "Um, gosh, thanks. That's really cool. He is like, so amazing...definitely the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Joe drank more coffee, cocking his head at Blair, "So, you said Mac rescued you?"

Blair grinned, wondering if this story would end up in Duncan's chronicles later this afternoon. He didn't mind. In fact, thinking about the idea, he decided it was really cool that his love for Duncan MacLeod would be recorded for history.

"He saved me, man, no doubt about it. These two skinheads were kicking the shit out of me and he just happened to be walking by," Joe saw Blair's hangover take a backseat to singing the praises of Duncan MacLeod. The young man became more and more animated as he told the story.

"He was like, so awesome. I'm curled up on the ground, right, and these assholes with their steel toed combat boots have been dancing on my rib cage, and he's just like, looming over us, yelling at them. So he kicked their asses and the next thing I know he's trying to talk me into an ambulance. He was so incredibly nice to me...He took me to the hospital, and let me stay here. I live on the fourth floor, and there was like, no way I would have made it up those stairs." Blair paused, smiling. He was remembering the way Duncan had carried him up all four flights, running up the last one just to prove his point.

Joe shook his head, laughing. Blair was just too much. Joe really liked the kid though, and he was obviously goo-goo for Duncan. "Yeah, that sounds like Mac."

Duncan came out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. He looked surprised to see his Watcher and his lover chatting and drinking coffee together. He had expected to find Blair back in bed, sound asleep.

"Oh, hi Joe. Sorry we're not ready to go." Duncan's gaze turned to smile at Blair apologetically, "There might be some hot water left. How's the hangover doing, kiddo?"

Blair's eyes roamed over Duncan's body, mentally stripping him of the dark green towel wrapped low on his hips. "Amazingly, it's better." Duncan MacLeod could even cure a hangover, Blair thought bemusedly. He never tired of looking at his lover, who had the most incredible body ever made, Blair was sure.

Joe cleared his throat, chuckling when Blair blushed. "I think maybe he could use a cool one, Mac. Put some clothes on, before he forgets how to blink."

Blair turned a darker shade of red, mumbling, "Sorry," to Joe.

Joe laughed, waving his hand in a dismissive motion, "Ah, I'm just teasin' Blair, I don't care. I think I'm pretty darn unshockable."

"Believe him, kiddo," Duncan advised from under the henley he was pulling over his head.

"I'll remember that," Blair grinned, going into the bathroom to shower. He was disappointed to have missed his scalp massage, but the chance to talk to Joe alone had been worth it. Blair liked the older man, though he was nothing like what Blair had pictured a 'Watcher' to be when Duncan had told him about the secret society.

Duncan took Blair and Joe to his favorite breakfast spot, and Blair got his chocolate chip pancakes. Over breakfast they talked about Blair's move to the city, and his new position at the University. Duncan was surprised when Blair mentioned neither Sentinels or Detective Jim Ellison of the Cascade P.D. at all.

Joe asked Blair about his classes, and stayed with him through Blair's long and complicated explanations. Duncan enjoyed watching his best friend get to know Blair. He polished off a spinach and feta omelet and a side of sausage, thinking about the plans Blair and he had made for later in the day.

Duncan had asked Blair two weeks ago if he wanted to move into the loft with him, and Blair had surprised him when he turned him down. Although it would have made him even happier to wake up next to Blair every morning, Duncan was impressed with Blair's reasons. He felt that he needed to prove to himself that he was capable of living alone, and Duncan realized that Blair wasn't ready to assimilate himself into anyone else's life, yet. Up until that night, Blair had spent almost every day with Duncan, sleeping at the loft and going home every few days just to check the mail and get clean clothes.

Now they were trying to make an effort to spend more time there, and to make the place a home for Blair. So today they were going to paint the apartment. It had been Duncan's idea. Trying to cook in the dingy walled, badly lit kitchen last Tuesday night, he had told Blair that they should put a fresh coat of paint over the entire apartment, and Blair had agreed enthusiastically. So yesterday before going to pick Blair up for lunch Duncan had stopped at the hardware store and picked up three gallons of white paint and some drop cloths.

"Earth to MacLeod...are you with us here, buddy?" Joe clinked his spoon against his water glass to get Duncan's attention.

"Oh, sorry Joe, yeah. I was just worrying about whether or not I bought enough paint. We're going to paint Blair's apartment today, right, kiddo?"

Blair looked up from his fifth cup of coffee, "Oh man, I forgot...Yeah, okay. You don't need a brain to paint, do you?"

Joe chuckled, thinking that if this was the kid without his brains working, he must be impossible to follow when he was 'on'. Blair had regaled him with a complicated explanation of his study of the hierarchy and social structures within institutional environments. He had to admit it was fascinating. The kid would make one hell of a Watcher, he had a great mind for detail, and a broad perspective on the human condition. Watching the way Blair read Duncan, anticipating his words and movements, Joe decided he had a pretty good take on Immortals as well.

"Well, I should let you guys get on with your day, I've got to get back to the bar sometime this afternoon, too."

Duncan grabbed the check out of Joe's hand, and Blair could tell from the way they smiled at each other that this was an age-old argument. Joe knew he didn't have a fighting chance, since Duncan was calling breakfast repayment for bringing the T-bird over for him. He gave in, shrugging, "It's really not a big deal Mac, most people would pay to drive that car."

"I wouldn't trust most people to drive that car, which is why you're going to let me buy you breakfast. Where can we drop you, home or the bar?"

Joe checked his watch, considering briefly. He sighed resignedly, "Back to the bar, Mac, I've got work to do."

Duncan pulled up in front of Joe's, bidding his Watcher a fond farewell, and promising to bring Blair back to the bar sometime soon.

"Take good care of him, Blair, don't let him brood," Joe gripped Blair's arm affectionately.

"Not a problem, man," Blair grinned at him, "Take care Joe, see ya soon."

"Sounds good, be safe, Mac."

"Always. You too, Joe," Duncan called, watching Joe find his keys and enter his bar.

Blair somersaulted into the front seat, wrapping his arms around Duncan's neck. He kissed him, tasting of chocolate and pancakes.

"Mmm, very sweet," Duncan told him, smiling against Blair's lips.

"I love you," Blair told him happily, scooting back to his side of the car and reaching for the radio.

"You too, Caro," Duncan answered, pulling back out into Saturday morning traffic.

Blair surfed the radio stations, listening to only a few seconds of each song before twisting the dial to the next station. Duncan wondered how he could possibly recognize so many songs so quickly.

"Oh man, I love this song!" Blair turned the volume almost all the way up, bouncing happily.

"Okay, what band that I've never heard of is this?" Duncan asked him indulgently. Actually, Blair had broadened his musical horizons a great deal in the past three weeks, and Duncan was surprised by how much of it he genuinely liked.

"It's Depeche Mode. Just listen to the lyrics, man, this song is so awesome!" Blair was bouncing happily, singing along.

"Fast Fashion?" Duncan translated, confused.

"Yeah, I guess. Hey I didn't name them. Listen to this, it's just like, so us," Blair sang along with the upbeat music, bouncing all over the car.

When I'm with you baby

I go out of my head

And I just can't get enough

And I just can't get enough

Everything you did to me

And everything you said

I just can't get enough

I just can't get enough

We slip and slide as we fall in love

And I just can't seem to get enough...

They were stopped at a red light, and Blair threw himself joyously into Duncan, one arm behind his shoulders. "That's exactly how I feel about you, old man," Blair's smile lit up his whole face.

Duncan marveled at how quickly Blair recovered from his hangover. It was strange to have someone calling him 'old man'; it was what he called Methos when he was teasing. Duncan decided that coming from Blair, it was just fine, as long as no one else picked up the habit.

"You know, kiddo, relatively, I'm not that old. I have several friends that are a great deal older than me."

"Really? How old? What part of the world are they from? Originally, I mean," Duncan laughed, watching the anthropologist take center stage, again.

"Well, I've told you about Amanda, she's a little over a millennium, I think, and she's definitely of European origin. I have a friend who's much older, maybe you'll get to meet him someday, but I have no idea what part of the world he started out in, and I doubt he does either."

Blair poked Duncan in the side, grinning, "Oh, I get it, you like older women and younger men, is this what you're telling me?"

Duncan laughed, pulling Blair firmly against his side to avoid being poked again,"When you meet Amanda, you'll forgive me."

Blair squinted, cocking his head at Duncan, "So, how come it's when I meet Amanda, and maybe someday with this other guy. Was he your lover?"

Duncan smiled, but Blair caught something else, maybe regret, behind it, "No, Caro, we never did. But even if we had, I don't think I would understand him any better. He is my friend, and we are...bonded, in certain ways, but there are parts of him that I have a very hard time reconciling. We don't always agree. He is complicated, and very old. He also has a very annoying tendency to disappear when I'm most concerned about him...The last time we saw each other, he wasn't very happy with me. I took away someone who was dear to him."

Duncan swore under his breath at the car that had just cut him off, turning back to Blair to smile at him apologetically. Duncan had been a victim of Blair's 'road rage' lecture more than once.

"You know what, Caro? Why don't we save this story for tonight, in bed, when I can relax and really talk to you, okay?"

Blair nodded, knowing that Duncan really meant it. When Jim had said, 'We'll talk about it later, Chief', it meant they weren't going to talk about it at all. When Duncan said the same thing it meant that what they were talking about was something that he needed to be able to hold Blair close in his arms to tell him.

"Okay man, it's a date," Blair told him softly. Changing the subject he asked, "So, are you ever going to let me tell Joe that I know that you're Immortal?"

Duncan thought briefly about the most likely way that Blair and Joe would come to have that conversation, and banished the disturbing thought. Thinking about the way Joe had drawn information out of Blair all through breakfast, Duncan chuckled, "I think it's fairly likely that he already knows, Caro."

"That's cool, I really like Joe. Do you think he's going to write about me in your chronicle?" Blair grinned at Duncan, obviously excited by the idea.

Duncan shook his head, smiling, "I have no idea kiddo. To tell you the truth, I try not to think about it."

"All of life's a stage, huh? Yeah, I could see that," Blair made a mental note not to pester Duncan about his chronicles.

They pulled up in front of Blair's apartment building, and he went digging in his backpack for his keys. Duncan went to the trunk, loading his arms with gallons of paint and brushes and pans.

"Can you get the drop cloths?'

"Sure thing. Hey, did we remember clothes to paint in?" Blair called to Duncan from inside the car, where he was stuffing everything back into his backpack.

"Oops, sorry kiddo, I didn't think of that."

Blair got out, going to the back of the car. He pulled the folded drop cloths out of the trunk. Duncan was waiting patiently, holding everything else. Blair flashed him a dazzling smile, "It's okay with me, I'm going to enjoy watching you paint in one of my t-shirts."

Duncan laughed, following Blair up the walk to the courtyard of his building. Blair opened the security gate and Duncan followed him into the building. Blair stopped to get his mail from his box in the entranceway, and they climbed the four flights of stairs together. Blair juggled the drop cloths, balancing the pile on his left hip to unlock the door to his apartment.

Going into the living room, he dumped the drop clothes on the sofa. "Hey, babe, we should open all the windows..." Blair's words were interrupted by a familiar, commanding voice,

"I took care of that for you Chief," James Ellison was sitting at his kitchen table, his feet propped up, his hands locked behind his head.

"Jim!" Blair stood frozen in shock, rooted to his spot behind the couch. Jim had broken into his apartment. Something was very wrong. The Guide mode kicked in before Blair could stop it. He recognized it in the tone of his voice as soon as he began to speak, but he couldn't do anything about it.

"What are you doing here Jim? What's going on? It's your senses, isn't it? What's happening, man?"

Jim looked uncomfortably at Duncan, who was standing directly behind Blair, his hand on his shoulder. Did Duncan MacLeod know all about him?

"Look, Chief, we need to talk, alone. Just give me an hour of your time here, Blair," Jim did his best to keep the anger from his voice. He was desperate, ready to beg Blair to come back to Cascade with him, even for a little while, but seeing Duncan MacLeod made his blood boil.

"No way," Duncan answered abruptly, tightening his grip on Blair's shoulder protectively.

Blair looked up at Duncan, surprised. "This is your decision?" he asked mildly, not sure if he was upset by Duncan taking control of the situation or not. He certainly wasn't doing anything about it on his own, Blair thought, trying to make himself think past the panicky confusion in his head.

Duncan took a deep breath, reigning in his anger, "No, Caro, it's not. It's your decision how to handle it when someone illegally breaks into your apartment." It came out harsher than he intended, and he hoped Blair realized that his anger was for Ellison and not his lover.

"Look asshole...you want to mess with a cop? You're gonna get a hell of a lot more than you bargained for, I guarantee it," Jim jumped to his feet, glaring at Duncan.

"No," Blair murmured quietly, a light touch restraining Duncan when he started to move out from behind him. He was thankful when Duncan stopped instantly, remaining tense and solid behind his back. Blair's heart was pounding in his chest, and he knew Jim could hear it. He took a deep breath, trying to get his breathing and his emotions under control. This was so not what wanted to do today.

"Look, anything you want to say to me you can say right here and now, 'cause I don't plan on going through another one of these little scenes, okay Jim? If you don't want to talk to me in front of Duncan, then you can leave, and call me when you get back to Cascade, but we're not going to talk at all unless you calm down" Adrenaline was making Blair's hands shake, but he managed to keep his voice clear.

"I'm not going to say shit in front of D'Artagnan here. Look Blair, this is important. A hell of a lot more important than your little romance."

"Jesus Christ Jim! Why do have be such a fucking asshole? I'm willing to listen to you here, and all you can do is give me shit for being gay. Haven't we done this little scene already? You can't deal with me, fine, then get the fuck out of my life! You have no right to decide what is and isn't important to me," Blair finished, slightly calmer.

The vein in Jim's forehead throbbed, and he shook his head quickly, trying to get his trailing vision under control. The roar of his own blood was painfully loud in his ears. He turned his back to Blair, his shoulders hunched, "How the hell am I supposed to react when my best friend tells me he's a faggot?"

"Look, I'm sorry I jumped on you, okay? I'm sorry I read all your signals wrong, but man, what the hell was I supposed to think?" Blair almost laughed at his own boldness.

"What does that mean?" Jim asked, his voice dangerously calm.

"It means that for four years you acted like a classically repressed, macho guy, who had the hots for me..."

Jim spun around, and Blair recognized the depth of Jim's rage, realizing that it was too late at the same moment. Before he knew it, Jim's hands grabbed two fistfuls of his shirt, ripping him from Duncan's light touch and spinning him around to slam him up against the kitchen wall.

Understanding hit Blair with the same force that his back connected to the wall, and the words came out all on their own, "I was right...you do..." Jim was obviously following his train of thought, because his fist slammed into Blair's jaw before he could finish. Blair's head snapped back, hitting the wall behind him and bouncing back.

Jim's hand closed around his throat, choking him and pressing him back against the wall. His eyes were blank, and Blair was terrified that Jim would zone with his fingers locked around his throat and choke him to death.

"Jim!" He gurgled, fighting the sinking dizziness clouding his mind.

Duncan moved faster than Blair would have thought possible, landing on top of Jim and knocking him to the floor with a loud thud. Duncan went down with him, rolling to his side. Jim jumped on top of him, but Duncan's hand came up, his palm flat and his fingers curled up to strike Jim under the chin, snapping his head back. They rolled to their feet, both men falling into a fighting crouch. Jim threw the first punch, which Duncan blocked, aiming a solid kick to his opponents knee. Jim yelled, and returned the kick, which Blair heard connect with a disgusting crunching sound. They fought in the open space near the windows, sizing each other up in the first flurry of traded blows. Duncan thought grimly that Jim Ellison was well trained, and very nearly his equal. He was also as big as a house, but Duncan was faster. He landed a solid kick to Jim's ribs, feeling the impact all the way up his leg to his hip, and smiled tightly at the loud crack that accompanied it.

Blair flattened himself up against the wall, watching them in frozen shock. His jaw throbbed painfully, distracting him. He tried frantically to decide what to do. He couldn't call the cops, it was far too dangerous for both the Sentinel and the Immortal, but it looked like they were trying to kill each other. Jim's fist landed hard across Duncan's cheek, spraying blood as his teeth cut his mouth. Duncan stumbled back from the force of the blow, knowing his cheekbone had shattered. Jim was surprised when he didn't go down, and in that second of shock Duncan's middle and index fingers struck the center of his throat with brutal force, sending him to the floor, unconscious. Duncan froze, crouching over him, panting harshly.

"Blair! Are you okay?" Duncan called urgently, not looking away from the unconscious man.

"Yeah. No. I'll deal with it later, man. Oh my God, Duncan..."

"It's okay, Blair, everything's going to be alright."

Duncan glanced over at his lover, still pressed against the wall and holding his mouth. He saw Jim move out of the corner of his eye and jumped back, just missing the kick intended for his groin.

Blair flew to the phone on the wall, snatching it off the hook, "I swear to God, Jim, I'll call the cops, and I will press charges. Don't do it. Just get the fuck out, now, right now, or I'll dial 911."

Jim sprang to his feet, spinning around to look at Blair, shock and betrayal in his eyes. Blair felt something inside him crack, the depth of the pain in his Sentinel's eyes was frightening. "Jim..." He didn't know what to say, and before he could think of anything, Jim was gone. Turning and striding quickly out the door, slamming it behind him hard enough to make the walls shake. Blair sank slowly to the floor where he was in the kitchen, his hand covering his bleeding mouth. His lower lip was split, and swelling up. It felt enormous already.

Duncan came to squat next to him, he was still winded, adrenaline and the Immortal healing racing through his blood.

"Oh my God, Duncan, your face..." Blair looked up at his lover, terrified by the amount of blood he saw.

"Just wait, Caro," Duncan groaned, his words almost unintelligible. His hands tilted Blair's face gently to the light, "Oh love..."

Duncan was preoccupied with his distress over Blair's injury, he hardly felt the familiar energy that crackled over his skin, knitting torn skin and shattered bone back together seamlessly.

"Jesus," Blair breathed, reaching up to touch his cheek. Blair felt something like a low level shock, as if he had touched an electromagnetic current. "I can feel it! That is so weird. Does it hurt?"

"No, my face hurts, but the healing doesn't. I'm a little more worried about you,Caro, we need to get some ice on this right away," his speech was much clearer now. Blair just starred up at him in shock.

Duncan rose, going to the freezer for several pieces of ice and wrapping them in the dishtowel on the countertop. Bending back down to Blair, sitting cross-legged and numb on the floor he murmured softly, "Here, let me..." Taking Blair's face in his palm he turned it up to the light again, inspecting the cut on his lip carefully. "This is deep, kiddo, I'm surprised you didn't lose any teeth."

"Hurts like hell," Blair told him, trying to feel his face with his fingertips.

Duncan caught his hand, pulling it back, "No, don't touch, you'll make it bleed again. Here, hold the ice on it. That's it, steady pressure," Duncan was moving his fingers over Blair's jaw and cheek carefully, searching for further injury. "Are you hurt anywhere else? Oh God Blair, I'm so sorry, I should have never let him get near you."

"I was right," he spoke softly, with absolute conviction.

"Blair, sweetie, you're scaring me. Do you want to go to the police?" Duncan resisted the urge to shake Blair's shoulder's and try to draw him back to him.

"No, Jim would lose his badge," Blair spoke almost as if in a trance, his voice monotone.

"Blair! The man doesn't deserve to have one. He certainly isn't stable enough to be a cop, I can't believe they let him carry a gun. If you don't want to go to the police here, you should call someone in Cascade and tell them what happened.

Blair looked up at him. "Call Simon?" he asked vaguely, still sounding as if he was a million miles away.

"Blair, love, come sit on the couch with me, okay? I want you to talk to me, Caro. I know you're upset, I am too. Come talk to me, everything's going to be alright," Duncan took Blair's hand, lifting it tenderly to his lips.

"Oh God, Duncan, I was right...all that time. I'm scared. What if he tries to hurt himself?"

He wouldn't say kill himself, he wouldn't even think it, although the sudden picture in his mind of Jim sitting on a bed somewhere with his gun to his forehead was what had prompted his panicked words.

"Caro, he's far more likely to try to hurt you than himself..."

"No, he isn't. I know what I'm talking about here, man," Blair looked into Duncan's angry brown eyes, horrified. "Oh God, what if he does? Duncan, I'm scared..."

Duncan pulled Blair into his arms, rocking him gently back and forth. "Hang in there, Caro," Duncan murmured against the top of Blair's head, "Everything's going to be okay."

"Oh God, Duncan..." Blair almost wailed.

"I know, love, I know. Everything's going to be alright," Duncan rocked him soothingly, and Blair pushed his forehead into his chest.

"Thank you," Blair whispered. "I can't believe you fought him...Oh man, I am like so messed up right now." Blair took a deep, shaky breath, his hands clutching the front of Duncan's shirt.

Duncan stroked the back of his head, "It's okay, Caro, you're allowed to be. Come on, let's get off the floor and go sit on the couch and talk, hmm?"

Blair nodded, letting Duncan help him to his feet. They went into the living room and Duncan sat in the corner of the couch, opening his arms to Blair, "Come here Caro, I need to hold you."

Blair curled up against his chest, and Duncan wrapped his arms around him gratefully. He pressed his lips to the top of Blair's curly head, closing his eyes. They rocked back and forth unconsciously, holding each other tightly.

"Are you really okay? For a minute there, I thought you were going to kill each other. I've never seen anybody fight like that, like two warriors fighting to the death. I've seen Jim beat up lots of people, but never like that." Blair looked up at Duncan, bumping his chin.

"He's been trained in hand to hand combat, Blair. He's good."

Duncan was having a hard time getting his emotions back under control. The moment Jim's fist smashed into Blair's face, rage had exploded inside him. He had wanted to kill Jim, and that disturbed him deeply,

"I'm sorry, I told you, that if he hit you I was afraid I'd lose it. I guess I lost it."

"No way man, if you had really lost it you wouldn't have stopped after you knocked him out, you would have killed him." Blair talked around the towel he was holding to his lip. He was shaking visibly.

Duncan took a deep breath, exhaling slowly, "You're right."

Blair shook his head, not sure if he was trying to deny Jim's violence or Duncan's. He felt nauseous, shaky, scared and totally overwhelmed. Something was wrong with Jim, he knew it. The Jim he knew didn't act that way. His lip throbbed, making it impossible to banish the memory of Jim's blank eyes, and his hand at his throat, choking him. Blair opened his mouth to speak, but the only thing that came out was a harsh sob.

"Shh, it's okay, caro. Just let it out, it's okay," Duncan rocked them soothingly.

Blair hid his face in Duncan's chest. Duncan's voice was so gentle, such a sharp contrast to the lethal, furious person who had fought Jim. Blair felt the last of his self control snap, all the walls inside him crumbling. He sobbed brokenly against Duncan's chest. Harsh, ugly sounds that filled his almost-empty apartment. The tears burned his eyes, streaming down to soak the front of Duncan's shirt. The violent sobs split the his lip open again, and the salt of the tears stung sharply in the open cut. The loud, painful sobs that exploded from his chest wracked his body, and his breath came in hideous gasps.

Duncan clutched Blair to his chest, sheltering him in his arms. "It's alright Caro, I love you, just let it out," he encouraged softly, murmuring in Blair's ear.

Blair cried until he was exhausted, letting the terror and anger and the pain out all over Duncan. His face was a wet, snotty, bloody mess, and so was Duncan's shirt. His throat felt raw from sobbing and his breath came in halting gulps. "I'm sorry," he cried, losing it all over again when he tried to get words out.

"Shh, it's alright, Caro, you have nothing to be sorry for. It's okay," Duncan's hand rubbed circles on Blair's back soothingly, holding him close.

"I love you," Blair whispered when the sobs had died down to hiccups again.

Duncan picked up a bandanna sitting on the pile of drop clothes next to them. He used it to wipe Blair's face, pressing the cloth gently to his lip to stop the renewed bleeding. "It's going to be okay Caro, I promise. Do you want to get out of here, go back to the loft?"

Blair thought about it for a minute, and shook his head. "No, I can't be afraid to be here, I have to stay. If I leave now I won't have the guts to come back," he answered quietly. It hurt to talk, his throat was raw and his swelling lip throbbed painfully.

"Okay, so we'll stay," Duncan agreed soothingly, squeezing Blair gently.

"Thanks, I don't think he'll come back here..." Blair's words were thick and hard to understand, his lip making it almost impossible to talk.

Duncan raised Blair's red, swollen face to look at him. His voice was very gentle, "If he does, he won't hurt you again, I promise you."

"He won't, he'll go back to Cascade...maybe I should call Simon. Oh God, Duncan, I don't think I can deal with that..." Blair looked into his lover's kind eyes, fearfully.

"Shh, You don't have to, kiddo. You don't have to do anything you don't want to right now. It's going to be okay. Maybe you'll decide you want to do something about it in a couple of days, and if you can't, that's okay too," Duncan spoke to him soothingly, stroking his back.

Blair nodded, sniffling. They stayed like that for over an hour, not talking much, just holding each other and drawing comfort. Duncan realized that Blair's ice had melted all over them both, and tilted his face up to inspect the cut with two fingers under Blair's chin. "We should clean that, and put some ointment on it. My poor Caro, it looks awful."

"Yeah, I bruise in technicolor," Blair agreed, trying to smile, and wincing when he realized that involved using his swollen lip. It had swelled up hugely, his words were all b's and m's, and it hurt like hell to talk.

"Don't talk sweetie, you're making it bleed again," Duncan dabbed gently at the blood oozing from the cut lip with a dry edge of the bandanna.

"Worbse than not being able to laubgh," Blair answered, annoyed when it came out almost unintelligible.

"I know, Caro. My poor little chatterbox, we'll get you a pad of paper and a pen, okay?" Duncan brushed the hair from Blair's face tenderly. "Come on, let's go to the bathroom and see what we can find to put on this, okay?"

Blair heaved a huge sigh, nodding. He couldn't help thinking that one night's drunken stupidity had caused all this pain, and the last four months worth as well. He knew it was a lot more complicated than that, but it was easy to let himself think that way. He remembered the look in Jim's eyes when had told him he was repressed, before they went blank with rage, and sighed again. It was such an ugly mess. Knowing he had been right only made it harder to think about. He forced himself to push the painful thoughts away, reaching for Duncan's offered hand.

"This is gonna hurt, ibn't it?" Blair asked, sitting on the toilet watching Duncan squeeze antibacterial ointment onto a cotton swab.

"I'll try to be gentle Caro," he tilted Blair's face up to the light, dabbing lightly against the cut. Duncan winced, feeling the discomfort he was causing his lover. "I'm so sorry, sweetie," he murmured, spreading the ointment as quickly as he could over Blair's lower lip.

When Duncan had finished, and put the first aid supplies away, he took off his ruined shirt, going into Blair's bedroom to find one to put on. He came back wearing a sweater that was oversized on his lover, and almost fit him. The sleeves were too short, and it stretched tightly across his shoulders, but it was wearable.

"You look silly," Blair informed him, trying not to smile.

"Well, we're not exactly the same size, kiddo. You wear my clothes much better." Duncan smiled, thinking about Blair walking around the loft in nothing but one of his t shirts. "How are you doing, sweetie?"

Blair got up, walking into Duncan's arms. He sighed, resting the side of his face that wasn't swollen up against Duncan's sternum.

"Tired," Blair made a frustrated sound when the word came out with two extra syllables.

"Tired?" Duncan guessed, leading Blair back to the living room. Blair nodded, feeling like every ounce of emotion had been wrung out of him while he cried. He felt drained, spacey and exhausted.

"Lay down here, caro, I'm going to try and put this room back together, okay?"

" 'Kay." Blair lay down on his couch, looking disparagingly at the mess of papers and broken things spread across half the living room floor. Two of the boxes that he had opened and started to unpack the last time he was here had been knocked over, the contents scattering. He could see his brass singing bowl, dented badly, lying against the wall. "Just throw everything out, okay? I don't think I can deal with it."

"Oh Caro, I'm so sorry, we'll see what we can salvage, okay?" Duncan leaned down to kiss his forehead, brushing the hair out of his eyes.

"Whateber," Blair answered listlessly, making a face at the way it sounded.

Duncan began sorting through the scattered books and tapes. Most of them were fine, although a dog eared paperback's cover was torn, and several of the tape cases were cracked. The tibetan bowl was ruined, which was a shame, because it was a good one, Duncan could tell. He gathered up the papers, stacking them back in the box. Gathering the cassettes, he noticed the name on one.

"Hey, kiddo, 'Bob Marley and the Wailers', isn't that the one you were looking for?"

"You're kidding? Really? Is it playable?" Blair asked hopefully, looking up from the couch.

"Yeah, the case is cracked, but the tape's fine."

"Coulb you put it in for me?"

"Sure Caro, no problem."

Duncan went into the bedroom, bringing back Blair's boombox. He put the tape in, rewinding it. Blair sat up, reaching a hand out to Duncan. "Comb sit wibth me?" he asked, rolling his eyes at the way his words came out.

Duncan set the radio down on the coffee table, sitting next to Blair and pressing the play button when the tape stopped rewinding. The music was very much like calypso, but slower, with a pulsing, mellow, beat. The singer's voice crooned with a thick Jamaican accent, telling him that life was worth much more than gold. It was happy music, and strangely spiritual. Duncan listen to a few more bars, deciding the bouncy rhythms and the deep conviction of the lyrics reflected his lover perfectly.

"I like it."

"It's rebggae," Blair laughed shortly, unable to pronounce the word. "Neber mind," he reached for the cracked tape case, pulling the paper insert out to show Duncan. "Here, reab."

Duncan read the small print and looked at the college of pictures, learning about ska and reggae music, and the rastafari singer, who had died of cancer before this tape was released. It was called 'Legend'. The music was evocative, joyous and sorrowful by turns. Duncan felt himself lulled by the steady rhythms, stroking Blair's curls in time to the music.

"I like it, it reminds me of you," Duncan told Blair between songs.

"Thibs one reminbds me of you," Blair told him, trying to talk around his lip.

"Shh, Caro, don't talk, just listen to the music with me, this is nice," Duncan murmured in his ear, massaging his lover's temples with his fingertips.

Blair sighed, relaxing against Duncan, his back against the broad chest.

The familiar song was almost like a lullaby for him, he had played it over and over again those first few weeks alone here, the chorus was a mantra he would mumble over and over again in bed at night, curled up around his pillow.

Don't worry, about a thing

Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright

Don't worry, about a thing

Every little thing is gonna be alright

Rise up this morning

Smiled with the rising sun

Three little birds

Pitch by my doorstep

Singing sweet songs

Of melodies pure and true

Say, this is my message to you:

Don't worry, about a thing

Cause every little thing, is gonna be alright

Don't worry, about a thing

Cause every little thing is gonna be alright

Duncan listened to the sweet melody, singing the lines softly to Blair, "Don't worry, about a thing, every little thing, is gonna be alright."

"I lobve you," Blair told him, feeling as if Duncan had wrapped him up in his love. This man could be so sweet, so incredible. Blair thought that it would be wonderful if the world stopped right now, and this moment could just last forever.

"I love you, Caro. So much," Duncan answered, pressing a soft kiss to Blair's forehead.

Blair dozed in Duncan's arms, drifting in and out of sleep while the music played. Duncan ran his fingers soothingly through his hair, humming quietly. When the tape ended, Duncan flipped it over, putting it back into the deck to play the other side. He loved the singer's voice, and the way he seemed able to transmit his love for his listeners through the music. He listened to the tape a second time through while Blair slept against him, remembering Blair telling him about the song called Three Little Birds the first night, when he had taken him home from the hospital.

The apartment had grown dark. When the tape ended a second time, Duncan carried Blair to bed, settling next to him on the narrow futon. He didn't think he could sleep, but he didn't want to be far from Blair. His lover slept so lightly, anything he found to do in the apartment would surely wake him. So he lay next to Blair, stroking his temple and watching over his restless sleep.

Some time past midnight, Duncan finally drifted off to sleep, still cradling Blair in his arms.

End Part 8

Part 9

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