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 9

By Zen&nancy

Jim didn't know how the hell he'd made it back to the hotel, he didn't even remember driving. He was sitting in the parking lot, the truck idling in neutral, his hands limp in his lap. All he could hear was the sound of his own heart beating, and the blood flowing in his veins. It made a rushing sound, like waves. The setting sun spiked into his eyes, a stabbing pain that lessened, but didn't go away, when he closed them. He shut the truck off, his hand dropping back to his lap, limply. His ribs were bad, real bad. He knew at least one was broken, and he really should go to the emergency room. He was tired, and feeling kinda hazy and woozy. Jim shook his head rapidly, telling himself not to zone on the painful light, not to pass out. If he did, he figured he might never come out of it. No, the hospital wasn't a safe option right now, maybe in the morning... He groaned, opened the truck door and slid slowly to his feet. He staggered, the knee Duncan had kicked was swelling up nicely, and didn't really want to support him. He managed the short walk to the room, forcing each shuffling step and staring straight ahead.

Slumping against the wall, Jim fished the key out of his pocket. "Come on Ellison, focus," he mumbled to himself, trying to find the lock with the key. All he could see were the lines of light reflecting off the metal key and the doorknob. Vertigo was winning. He slid against the wall, finding the keyhole just as his knee gave out for good.

Dragging himself into the room, he avoided the bed. If he lay down now he'd never make himself get up again to tape his ribs. He knew if he didn't tape them, it was possible he could puncture a lung in his sleep. Dragging his almost useless left leg, Jim stumbled to his suitcase, searching blindly for the first aid kit he had packed out of habit. There was gauze, and medical tape, although probably not enough of either. Taking the roll of bandages, the tape and the disinfectant, he staggered to the bathroom.

He didn't bother to turn the light on, or even try to look at himself in the mirror, he already knew his face was a mess. Propping himself against the sink, he pulled his shirt over his head, groaning in agony. He tried to remember how to turn down the dial for pain, but every time his brain heard the word 'dial', it came up with 'Sandburg' and threatened a total systems shut down. So he slammed his fist into the sink, bouncing his knuckles off the cheap fake marble surface again and again.

Jim groaned through clenched teeth, waiting for the sharp, ugly, pain to ease a little. Finally, it did, and he could almost breath again. Reaching for the roll of gauze bandage, he began to wrap it as tightly as he could around his rib cage, starting at the top and working down. He moved very slowly, trying to keep his rib cage still while he moved his hands, wrapping tightly. It was a frustrating, painful job, and when he finally finished he had to repeat the whole procedure with the tape.

When he was finished with his ribs, he pulled a handful of kleenex from the box on the counter, soaking it in disinfectant and pressing it to the cut on his chin.

"Fuck," he growled, holding the wet tissues to the cut. It burned, felt like his whole God damn face was on fire. He wasn't up to dealing with his knee, it was swollen and it hurt like hell, but he was out of gauze and there wasn't much he could do for it. So he dragged himself back into the room, falling on the bed and yelling in pain when his middle section hit the mattress.

He stared up at the ceiling, gritting his teeth and trying to breath. He lay there for what felt like a long time, not thinking anything, just concentrating on breathing slowly and evenly. The ceiling was covered in a thick layer of dust and tobacco residue, even though this was supposed to be a non-smoking room. He watched the air currents moving, and listened to the water in the pipes.

He must have drifted off to sleep. He woke up some time later, his hand going to his side. "Jesus fucking Christ!" Jim grumbled, holding his ribs. Memory came back. Duncan MacLeod, the guy fought like a Green Beret, and had the idea that Blair belonged to him. Jim let out a growl of anger and frustration, opening his eyes to stare vacantly at the ceiling.

He tried to remember what had happened before the fight, what Blair had said, but he couldn't. All he could see in his mind was his Guide, holding the telephone and threatening to have him arrested, to press charges against him. The betrayal felt worse than anything Jim had ever felt before, far worse than the pain of his broken rib. Blank, black rage well up inside him, and he shouted,

"NOOO!" Jim sprang from the bed, looking around furiously for something to smash. The television was mounted on a metal bracket in the corner of the room, near the ceiling. He wrenched it from the wall with a primal shout, throwing it as hard as he could across the room. It smashed into the floor, the screen shattering. Jim tore methodically around the room, attacking each item ruthlessly. He turned the dresser into kindling, kicking it repeatedly with his good leg; the sound of splintering particle board was satisfying. The cheap heavy plastic table and chair were less destructible, so he threw them across the room. The base of the table smashed into the mirror on the wall. The shatter of glass added a musical ring to the sounds of smashing furniture.

Suddenly, he stopped, looking around dazedly. Get a grip, Ellison! He shook his head like a dog, trying to clear the red haze of rage from his mind. What the hell was he doing? Jim fell slowly onto the bed, his hands coming up to cover his face.

"God, Blair, help me, help me..." he crooned softly, rocking back and forth on the bed. The clock on the undamaged bedside table ticked steadily, and the water ran in the pipes and the only other sound was his own frantic heartbeat.

Jim listened carefully, scanning in a circular pattern around his hotel room and then farther out, to the parking lot, listening for someone coming to respond to his tirade. Long seconds ticked by, turning into minutes, and Jim listened for the sound of sirens, genuinely frightened for the first time in years. When no one came, he sat up cautiously, rolling to sit on the edge on the bed again, his head in his hands.

He rocked back and forth, his fists grinding into his eyes. What are you trying to do to me, Sandburg? He tried not to think about the pain, but it was all he had. He couldn't seem to pull his mind away from it. The steady, angry pain of his broken rib, and the slow, throbbing pain in his knee, and burning of the antiseptic on his face.

He was two hundred miles away from home, from anyone who knew him. The idea was both frightening and oddly liberating. He had the strange thought that if the 'copter hadn't have crashed in Peru, he would never be here. That seemed like someone else entirely, he didn't even know that man. He thought about Duncan MacLeod, and now the rage wasn't the red haze that clouded his mind, it was cold and clear and precise, zeroing in on the person that had taken his Guide away. What the hell was Duncan MacLeod? Certainly not what he seemed to be. Could he be a Sentinel as well, was that why Blair was with him? He sure knew how to fight, Jim had never even seen some of those moves.

Blair's words came back to him suddenly, "It means for four years you acted like a classically repressed, macho guy, who had the hots for me!" Oh God, was that really what his Guide thought of him? Not your Guide! His anger screamed back, reminding him of Duncan MacLeod and the pain in his ribs. Blair's contempt was worse than anything, even worse than losing him had been.

Rage, denial, and pain warred inside him, he rocked back and forth helplessly, the springs of the motel room bed frame screeching. Jim gave in, letting the emotion swallow him up. He didn't even know which pain was dominant, only that he hurt, deep inside, stronger than anything he had ever felt before.

He heard Blair's voice in his head, telling him, "It's about friendship."

A high, keening sound rose from his chest, and it took him a moment to realize that he was the one making this noise. Wetness occurred against the hands that were rubbing his eyes, and he fell back onto the bed, groaning. This is exactly what you get when you let someone become essential, his mind told him, but the fierceness of his self contempt was fading. He was tired....Jim drifted slowly, letting himself get to the edge of zoning, and pulling himself back, playing with his vision and his hearing. It was rather like playing Russian roulette. He knew if he zoned here it would all be over. No one who knew how to help him would find him. He would probably end up in a nuthouse, totally unaware of his surroundings. The idea was seductive. If he just zoned on the texture of the tiny particles on the ceiling, or the wail of the baby across the street, it would all be over. He wouldn't have to worry about how to survive without a Guide anymore.

The sun was coming up, streaming throughout the window. The rays caught his attention, lighting up the destruction of the room. It pulled him back from the edge, he had been so close, almost gone. Jim groaned softly, covering his eyes briefly. I need you Blair. How am I going to face Simon without you?

He pushed himself slowly to a sit on the edge of the bed, inspecting his knee. It hurt, but he thought maybe it was not quite as bad as it had been last night. He would go back, there was nothing else to do. He would go back to the loft and the empty room that he had scrupulously avoided for the past three months, and he would figure out something to tell Simon. He sighed, feeling his ribs gingerly. It was bad. Well, at least he had the satisfaction of knowing that Duncan MacLeod was in the same, if not worse, condition.

Jim pulled himself slowly to his feet, wondering how the hell he was going to make the four hour drive back to Cascade. Deciding against a trip to the emergency room, he stumbled painfully to his bag and the first aid kit. There was a bottle of pain reliever in it, he took three.

His suitcase was a bitch to carry. He stopped at the desk, giving the dreadlocked boy behind the desk four fifty dollar bills. He hoped it would be enough to cover the damage, it was almost all the cash he had.

The walk to the truck was slow, it seemed to take forever to make it across the parking lot. He finally did, climbing into the truck gratefully. Jim rested his forehead on the steering wheel, trying to slow his labored breathing, which hurt like hell. Come on Ellison, get past the pain, you've been worse off than this and pulled through, get it together.

He started the truck, wishing it wasn't a stick. Jim pulled out of the lot, trying not to think about what he was leaving behind him.

End Part 9

Part 10

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