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Bastet's Gift   |   Twenty Years Ago
Twenty Years Ago
By Sentinel Cat
Author's disclaimer: I'd like to give the standard disclaimers to Pet Fly and UPN. Jim and Blair are not my characters.

Author's notes: I'd like to thank all my betas for helping me with this. The story took a long time for me to write and could probably use more beta'ing. But, I'm happy with it and hope you are too. I'd like to thank Becky, Sugar Babe, Diana and most especially, Candy Apple for helping me with this. If I didn't take your advice, it isn't your fault. :-) It's my own stubborness.

Now for the extra warnings-this story contains rape, although it's in the past, violence, and it's assuming that the reader has some knowledge of the Highlander.

As he woke up with a groan, all Duncan could think of was Hell, I can't believe I'm back! Above his eyes was the ceiling of his Seacouver Loft. God! It's been so long since I've been here. When he'd walked into the building, it seemed like he was only here, just yesterday. Lying back, with his eyes open, he wondered just what was inside him that needed to be back here. He should have already sold the loft or rented it out, or something. Turning over with a small groan, he slid off the bed, and carelessly nude, walked over to the window of the loft. Looking at the silent street outside, he reflected on what had been happening to him in the last two years.

Nearly collapsing against the window, Duncan's mind was filled with the memories of all the lost chances, the hurt of past actions and the destruction of himself. He'd had so much and because of pure stupidity lost all of it. Surprisingly, destroying Richie hadn't been the final straw. Accepting Ahriman as part of himself hadn't done it, either. What had, and it still shocked him now as much as it did when he'd realized, was the destruction of the greatest friendship that he'd ever had. And, as he reviewed his emotions, possibly more than friendship had been lost without his knowing.

Methos, why the hell didn't I ever tell you what you meant to me? I should have known it was love I was feeling. Nothing less could have pulled me through those trying times with my head still intact Reflecting on his life, with his last actions toward Methos, he'd known that not only their friendship, but the budding love they were developing for each other was at an end. Suddenly, everything hit him at once. Duncan couldn't stop himself as he closed his eyes and let the hurt, pain, and terror of loneliness sweep through him. Suppressing the emotional memories that was becoming a daily part of his everyday being, he opened his eyes and pulled himself together to get dressed for his daily run.

In sweatpants and T-shirt, he decided he needed to lose himself in the daily regimen of physical activity, which is all that had saved him in the last two years from challenging the nearest immortal and committing suicide by losing his head. He started running, heading down tenth street, in which many others would be out running or jogging at this time of day, since it was usually quiet, because of it's wide, straight and long street. Pushing himself to the limit, he did ten miles that day, hardly feeling a thing.

Finally ending up back at the loft, as he entered his home, he paused to look around and saw that all the things he'd brought with him from Paris to the States was still in boxes. He'd been back in Seacouver for three days and had not started to unpack. That was highly unusual for him. If anything, it was more like what Methos would do. Just thinking of that was enough to bring back the depression that he'd held back since that morning and which seemed to be his only mood these days for the last two years.

After taking a shower, Duncan started to carefully unpack and take everything out. He was just deciding where to place the ceramic vase he'd brought back with him from China seventy years ago, when he was interrupted by the telephone.

"This is Duncan Macleod, may I help you?"

A long silence gathered, until a man spoke up. "Well, if it isn't my old friend and enemy. Long time no see!" The words were spoken with a sarcastic tone permeating the voice.

In anxious shock, Duncan whispered "Douglas Hampton?"

"Well, I'm not the King of England, although, since it'd be no surprise to you, that is perhaps, my next goal."

"What do you want?" Duncan, with no control over his emotions, especially with the day he'd had since that morning, couldn't help but reveal the anger he felt in his voice. He stated emphatically, "I thought you knew I'd kill you if I ever saw you again. That hasn't changed."

"Well, Duncan, you may just have your chance. I've just killed a friend of yours, one Professor Tellille. It was surprisingly easy. No trouble at all, if I do say so myself. And while I was in the process of taking his head, it occurred to me that it would be much to my advantage to have something else at my disposal. Want to guess what it is? Or should I say, who it is. Can't guess? I have before me, his adopted son, or as you know, your godson. Now, since all kidnappers usually want something, I guess I need to be typical and give you my demands and all you half to do is give me a generic yes. Now, isn't that simple? Anyway, as I guess you realize, if you don't give me your head, I'll kill him. I think that's simple enough in plain English. You can find me in Cascade. I'm sure you'll be staying at your old residence, so I'll know when you get here. I'll contact you then." Abruptly, he hung up the phone.

"Damn!! Why does this always happen to me?" Already in agony with his recent past with Methos, he didn't need older, painful, memories, fucking him up either. After what had happened in Cascade years ago, it was the last place he wanted to be. Unfortunately, it looked like he didn't have a choice about returning. Being the kind of person he was, running away from an old friend wasn't possible. Gavin had been a close friend and one who'd always been able to cheer him up when he'd needed it. Even though just the thought of taking a head was causing him mental pain, it wouldn't stop him from taking Hammond's head. But, as he thought about the city and all the people he'd cared about, his mind wandered to the one place that was forbidden to him. Unconsciously, he softly muttered, "Jim!"

Bouncing into the loft, Blair was filled with his normal, exuberant energy. He couldn't believe today was the day. He'd finally done it! He had no more tests, he and Jim didn't have any more cases pending, and he was about to take his week long, well-deserved vacation.

With a joyful smile, he rummaged through the fridge with enthusiasm. Finding the fixings for a salad, he got out the homemade vinaigrette and sat down to eat. He'd had a long day at the University, with the two classes he'd picked up unexpectedly because of death of one of the faculty members three days ago. He still couldn't believe that Professor Tallille had been killed like that. Although, he'd never really known the Professor that well, he was surprised that he'd died at all being as popular as he was. Especially, the way he'd been killed. He nearly passed out when he first saw the crime scene. Death alone was gruesome enough. He didn't need to see death by beheading. It was truly a first since he'd worked with Jim. The only thing that kept him from passing out was his experience at seeing various forms of death in the last three years.

Getting a beer, he went over to the couch. Leaning back, Blair thought about the Professor's death. Always, he'd seen Jim push with everything he had to solve a case. Most of the times, he was almost fanatical about it. That was what was weird about this one. Jim was hardly trying to solve it. You'd think, with as unusual a death as this was, not counting the fact that he'd been a Professor at the same university his partner taught at, he'd be going all out to try solving it. But to his surprise, as well as everyone else's at the precinct, especially Simon's, for the first time, Jim was actually demanding to be allowed to keep his vacation, and to not be primary in this investigation.

I've never seen Jim act like this in all the time I've known him. Not only does he not postpone the vacation on his own, insisting it's the perfect time to go camping, but he wants to invite Stephen as well. He said it's the perfect time to start mending fences with his brother. It's totally unlike Jim. Granted, with spring vacation before him, he had a week off with no duties or responsibilities which had taken a lot of extra work to manage. He'd done everything he could to prepare his week ahead of time. Already having graded his own midterms, he'd had the foresight to give it two weeks ago, instead of this week, so his vacation time would be free. Jim had planned ahead as well, trying to make sure that nothing would come up to interfere. But this was different. Extremely different.

Brooding over the personality change in Jim, he wondered why he felt as he did. He should be feeling all broken up, demanding that Jim go all out for his friend, but it was like his mind kept eluding the emotions that he should be feeling. Rage, hatred for a casual friend's loss, obsession to solve the murder, sorrow for seeing an untimely death and whatever else he'd usually be feeling. It was strange that he felt glad he wasn't going to be involved. And he had no clue why he felt that way.

He'd always wondered if his and Jim's moods were based on what the other was feeling. Since he'd met Jim, he'd tried to find out all he could about the Sentinel/Guide bond. Unfortunately, there was little information in written form that he could find. So ever since they'd become friends, it was like he came up with new ideas, new theories off the seat of his pants. But lately, he had to wonder if he was actually inventing all these ideas. After all, he was a shaman, Shaman of the Great City to be exact, as well as Jim's Guide. Maybe there was a spiritual world where some god sent him all the information he needed and depending on when it was needed, gave him enough of an unconscious clue to help guide his sentinel effectively.

The really weird thing that he'd noticed in the last year they'd been together was that he always seemed to know when Jim was upset, angry, frustrated, calm, happy, and whatever other mood Jim was in. But the astonishing thing to him was that he always seemed to know just what to do to calm him when he was about to go postal, whether from anger, stress, frustration or obsession. It was like he could snap his fingers and Jim would do exactly what he told him. Oh, Jim might blow a lot of hot air or complain that meditation was a bunch of hoohicckey or that alternative medicine was not the way to go, but in the end, he always ended up doing what he said. And if he thought Jim needed a vacation to keep from getting stressed, he was always right. It was strange that he seemed to know, unconsciously, more about Jim than Jim did himself. He'd always thought it one way though. Now, he had to wonder if maybe it was a two-way street. If he felt what Jim was feeling, maybe Jim was able to feel his guide, at least in his subconscious mind and know exactly what he had to do to protect his guide, especially from himself.

But with this whole case, there was no earthly reason for the way that they were both acting. The only thing he knew was that he seemed to feel somewhat similar to what Jim evidently was feeling, and he didn't know why it didn't bother him more than it did. And that's probably why all of Major Crimes is walking on pins and needles around us. This vacation that Jim insisted on taking come hell or high water may just be something that he needs. And being his guide, I can't get upset or angry because I have to do what's best for my sentinel.

Maybe that's what I was talking about, when I told Jim that it had come to a point where Jim needed to get away from work for a while. Hell, Simon and I have been trying to tell him that for weeks, and it was only Simon, forcing Jim to take the time off, that he accepted it in anyway. I sure as hell got plenty of argument from him when that happened. Now, all of a sudden, he's gung ho to go ahead and do it. Maybe he'd just been so overworked with his job, that he knew he had to slow down. But finding out from him if that were true was like pulling teeth from a baby. Jim wasn't saying anything except to insist on the vacation and with this weird personality I've had since Tellille's death, I'm not arguing or going against it. And more to point, somehow, I feel I don't have to. And it's obvious that only with this strange, new case, that Jim must have reached the point where he figures that Major Crimes can solve the case on their own.

Also, there was something else that had him contemplating his circumstances. For nearly three years, he'd not only been attracted to Jim, but in love with him. And trying to keep from revealing that to Jim used up a lot of his energy because, unfortunately for him, Jim was straight as an arrow.

He'd never forgotten when he'd first met Jim. In the little, dinky hospital room, all he could think when he walked in to see what appeared to be his new sentinel research subject, was that he'd found him. He'd found the ONE! Growing up, he'd always felt that something was missing. When he'd reached the age of physical maturity he'd known what it was he'd been missing. It was a person to love, that was entirely, completely, wholeheartedly, HIS! Somehow, he'd always known that he'd only have one chance at love. And so, he started to hunt for it, seeking for that missing part of his soul in his vast travels with his wandering mom. And he never found it. Hunting and hunting, he looked and never found what he'd been looking for. He could have just settled for marrying one of his attractive friends that he seemed to make with no effort at all, but he couldn't. He didn't know why, but he kept feeling as if he'd be betraying his love. So, he played the field, having sex where he may because there was no way in hell that he'd be able to go celibate. He had too large of sex drive to be able to do that.

As the years passed by, while he didn't give up looking, he quit actively seeking for love. He figured that if it was meant to be, it would happen. The only thing was that he hadn't expected it to happen over a period of a heartbeat, so suddenly that hitting him over the head with a hammer would have been kinder. He most certainly didn't expect it to be a man that he fell head over heels in love with at first sight, when he'd never been attracted to males in the slightest. And he most definitely hadn't realized that his love wouldn't be returned. It would have hurt a lot more, except for one fact. He'd loved Jim all these years they'd been apart. They hadn't had sex or seen each other everyday, or been best friends. But he'd survived. Living without Jim in his bed, he could do, but living without Jim in his life, well, he wouldn't last long. Survival takes on a whole new meaning when you belong to someone else. Life isn't worth living unless you have someone to love and everything you do, you run it through your head first by asking, is it something my love would like? So, he lived with it. He could have been happier, but he also knew that without Jim in his life, it would be a lot worse.

While all this pondering was going on in his head, he didn't hear the door opening. He was startled when Jim walked in, throwing his jacket on the stand, and keys in the basket. Suddenly popping out of the daze he was in, he looked up in surprise. With a sheepish grin on his face, he couldn't help exclaiming in his mind, Damn, he's gorgeous!!

Grinning himself, Jim went and got a beer. Coming over to the couch, he leaned against it and said, "Well, Chief, do you have everything packed? It was all I could do to keep Simon from giving me that case. He kept insisting that as strange as it was, I was the only detective who was strange enough as well to have a chance solving it. Do you know how hard it is to tell your Captain to go to hell in a polite way? I know one thing, dealing with Simon when he insists on getting his way isn't the easiest thing in the world!! He threw a fit. It was the first time I've actually seen Simon with a red, furious face. It was funny in a way. I don't think he ever imagined that I'd do it. This was the first time that I actually told him I was taking my vacation, come hell or high water." With the smile in his eyes, you could actually see the devil inside him. Jim was evidently enjoying himself very much.

"Uh..Yea, everything's packed, or at least, I think so! Jim...are you sure you're doing the right thing? I mean, it's not wise to piss Simon off."

"You think I don't know that, Chief? Things always happen to me when I'm going on vacation and I'm tired of it. You only have this week to relax and I put in for my vacation four months ago. Granted, it was only because you and Simon insisted on it, but we did it anyway. We'll never get another chance like this. Simon can put other detectives on it. For once, it's not going to be me." Jim gave him a quick dark look after he'd said that, "I'm sorry, Chief, but I can't get involved in this case." Looking down, Jim quietly revealed, "This has too many memories associated with it. I can't go into detail, but I'm the last person who would do a good job in this investigation. I've heard about others like them, and they were never solved. They're also usually a one off case. I doubt there will be anymore murders. And if there is, it will only be the people that are involved with it. Innocent bystanders won't be harmed."

"But Jim, if you know something, shouldn't you be helping the investigation? This isn't like you!"

"I know, Chief. Telling me that won't do any good, though. I can't do it, Chief! For once, can you just trust me? Don't ask questions that I can't answer. Yes, I could probably solve the case, but I also know that it won't stop the beheadings. I promised someone that I'd never reveal what I know, and Chief, you know I keep my promises. All interfering with this case would do would be to put the police officer in danger because of things they don't know that would kill them in a heartbeat."

Getting up, Jim walked over to the balcony with a foreboding look on his face. Following, I stood beside him as he leaned against the railing. It almost appeared as if he were zoning, yet I knew he wasn't. In all the time I'd known him, Jim had never told me anything other than the truth. For Jim not to be able to tell me anything must mean that it involved something that Jim wanted to stay out of. And it didn't escape me that he'd used the word can't multiple times in his words. Jim knew what was going on and evidently he was forbidden to act on it. So, with the obvious excuse of his vacation handy, he had the perfect way to escape from Major Crimes while they tried to solve it. And even when he returned, another investigator would have charge of it, with the immediacy of solving having let up, somewhat. The brilliance of the situation was apparent, as well as the fact the Jim knew damn well that I'd agree to anything he asked of me. I don't think I've ever denied him once, and it didn't look like this would be the first time either.

Turning my head, the view of the afternoon sun filled my eyes with beauty. I loved Jim. It was as simple and straightforward as that. If Jim said he couldn't get involved than he couldn't. And to keep him happy, my emotions were suppressing all of my own feelings about the matter. If it came down to solving the case or keeping Jim happy, keeping Jim happy wins hands down. The professor wasn't as important as Jim was to me. In a way, it hurt to admit that to himself, to know that Jim could kill a million people and I'd still be right there alongside there with him. But the worst thing of all is that I don't regret it.

The shock of the revelations to himself, kept him silent as well as Jim, as they stood there together feeling the heat and the afternoon sun in their faces. Turning to face him, Jim, his emotions carefully hidden from him asked, "Chief, I hope you're ready, because I'd really like to get on the road today. I know Stephen said he'd be ready, but I know my brother. He'll be on time for his work and school, but come game practice or ball games, or camping and he never knows what to do. It's like he loses his mind when he's excited. For as smart a man as he is, he becomes absolutely brainless when its recreational to him. We'll probably have to help him tie his shoelaces, let alone making sure he has his sleeping bag with him."

Chuckling, from speaking with Stephen, I had to admit that Jim was right. But still..."Are sure you want to drag Stephen along? I mean, it may not turn out to be a vacation if all you're going to do is argue over the past. You know, you might want to take getting to know your brother again in little, easy steps."

Suddenly, Jim gave him a brief, concentrated look, while he sat there, still, as if poised upon the edge of flight. Concerned, about to ask what was wrong, Jim said, "I know, Chief, but frankly, there are some things my brother and I need to talk about. Actually, there are some things that are private family matters that I need to discuss with him."

Analyzing his face with a stare, I finally said, "Well, I hope you know what you're doing. Actually, I like Stephen, at least what I've seen so far."

With the penetrating look he was given, I knew that Jim realized I had more questions but I also knew that I wouldn't be given an answer, let alone just what to ask. For once, instead of going ahead and answering on his own, Jim kept silent, even though he knew that eventually I'd have it out of him.

Needing to get out of this highly emotional environment, I jumped up and quickly said, "Well, Jim, if we're going to get on the road, we might as well do it. Stephen expects us at three p.m.."

"I'm glad you're excited!! I know you like camping, but I also know that you like your luxuries as well. The only reason you're enthused about this is because I hired a place at a site with community bathrooms and shower. How in the world did you make do when you were doing your field studies?"

"An anthropologist puts up with a lot of pain to get his data. Besides, you shouldn't talk. You're my data too.!"

"Sure, Chief, go ahead and tease me. You might as well tell me I'm a Neanderthal man. That way, I can just thrash you now."

"Well, as it stands right now, anything will be a vacation, as long as I can get away from the crowds for a week."

"Camping will do that, Chief! Come on, get your gear and I'll call Stephen and tell him we're almost ready to leave." Getting up, he went to the phone to call Stephen. A few brief words later, Jim turned around and found Blair had all their luggage and gear ready by the door. It took two trips to haul their luggage down to the van Jim had rented for the week. After Jim had checked all the windows to make sure they were secure, he locked up and returned to the van."

On their way over to Stephen's house, they made fun of each other, joking around, like they normally do when they're teasing one another, so that by the time they did get to Stephen's they were both relaxed enough not be anxious like they had been after the revealing conversation they'd just had. When they reached Stephen's house, they went up to knock at his door. Opening it with a loud thud, and a yell, "Dammit, where the hell is my swimsuit?", Stephen greeted them with a disgruntled look. Giving them a brief greeting, "Jim, Blair, I seem to have a problem." He turned around, went back inside and started hunting for whatever it was he was looking for. He and Jim just looked at each other, shrugged their shoulder, and waded through the complete absentmindedness of Stephen's brain. Jim had told him that Stephen didn't have much a brain for physical pleasures, and with the site that greeted us, it sure enough seemed like he had trouble with camping for sure. It was funny, them going through his camping gear making sure he had everything from sun block, to, sure enough, his tent, which he had forgotten. But, as embarrassing as it was for Stephen, it did break the ice, Jim seeing Stephen in a way that he'd only seen in his childhood. By the time they were on their way to the campground, Jim was relaxed enough to reminencse with Stephen about past memories. Blair made sure it continued in that relaxing vein, by making sure Stephen was included in the conversation by teasing him about his narrow airheadedness concerning what was supposed to be relaxing hobbies and the joking with him about people they found out they knew in common. Finally, when they reached their site, the three of them were somehow perfectly at ease with each other and at first appearances, seemed to be old friends.

Duncan was in the outskirts of Cascade when he pulled over. His breathing was going a mile a minute. He was a nervous wreck after the drive from Seacouver. In a normal situations, there was no way in hell he would have been there if it hadn't have been for the death of his old friend. He'd been able to get out of killing for over a year now. He carried his sword, but it was only as a last resort. He wasn't as gung ho as he used to be. He wasn't the same warrior that he'd been raised as. Gazing at the scenic view of the city of Cascade in front him, Duncan suddenly realized who he was more like now. Methos! Here Methos had been trying to constantly teach him that he needed to back away from some battles. That if he had to run away or leave than he needed to do it. It was a terrible shame that now that their friendship was broken, he'd finally learned the survival mechanism that Methos had always been attempting to teach him. He'd also learned that sometimes you really need help and that one couldn't do it all by themselves. That sometimes, you needed others to help you survive. He'd always had a problem letting others help him. He'd always had to be the protector.

Starting the car up again, he drove into the city. Knowing the suburbs and central downtown by heart, it didn't take him anytime at all to find his old home. Stepping out, he leaned against the car and stared at two storied, beautiful white house with trellis' along the edge and ivy and rose vines edging it. It looked like the upkeep of the house over the last twenty years that he'd paid for was complete and thorough. It appeared as if it was ready to move into. Getting his suitcase out, he went and opened the door. Stepping through the foyer, flashbacks from the past hit him with a shocking strength. Memories flooded his mind with joy, pain, sorrow, hatred, and sadness. All of those emotions, he'd experienced at one time or another in this house.

Holding himself together by a thin thread, Duncan went to his old bedroom. Hesitating outside the door, he almost went to one of the guests' bedrooms. But with his typical Macleod stubbornness, he had to stick with this one. Although the memories had ended with hatred, there were a lot of wonderful ones as well. Throwing himself on the bed, he wondered just why in the hell he was there. If Douglas wanted revenge, he could just as easily found it where he lived. Although they were enemies now, there was one thing he could count on with him. The fight would be fair. The only reason he took a hostage was to give a reason to fight, even if their past wasn't enough anyway. Although that didn't mean that he wouldn't kill Rafe.

He still remembered the kid. Rafe hadn't been that old when he'd last seen him. He had been seven or eight at the most. He couldn't even imagine what he'd grown up like. And Douglas and Gavin were the only two immortals who knew about his five years of life in Cascade. It seemed ironic that he was facing this just after he'd suffered tremendous loss. The past always leaped up and bit you when you least expected it.

It took a few minutes, but he made sure that everything was turned on, the phone, electricity, gas, and cable. After checking everything, he got on the phone and made a phone call that was way past due. Dialing and letting it ring a few minutes, a voice came on and said, "Joe Dawson, can I help you?"

"Hey Joe! Macleod here!"

"Dammit Mac, where the hell are you? You've had the watchers busy for the last two days, disappearing like that. One minute you're there and the next you're gone. We thought you'd done another of your vanishing acts. You promised to contact me if you ever went anywhere!"

"Okay! Okay! I know, Joe, it's just, I had to leave suddenly. I tried to call you Wednesday night and you weren't there. I wasn't going to leave a message at the bar. As for where I am, I'm in Cascade."

"Cascade! Why are you suddenly returning there after, what has it been, twenty years?"

"I got a challenge from Douglas Hampton. He's taken Professor Gavin Tallille's adopted son hostage."

"You mean Brian Rafe?"



"You're telling me. Anyway, I'm in my old house. I never sold it when I moved, and since I've been paying for the upkeep for the last twenty years, all it took was calling to get the utilities hooked up. If I'm going to have to be here, it sure beats having to stay in a hotel."

"I guess so, Mac. But, you did leave suddenly. In fact, the Watchers never did find out the reason that you left Cascade in the first place."

"You don't know? I thought the Watchers were very thorough with my life?"

"Well, that's one place we were never able to get all the facts. Want to tell me?"

"Joe, not right now. Maybe later, when I'm used to being back here. I promised myself that I'd never return here. The last place I want is to be here. There are too many painful memories associated with Cascade."

"Pain? Hmmm...It seems the Watchers really did miss the boat there. There's nothing in the records of your five years in Cascade that would indicate you'd been hurt that badly. Of course, our Watcher at the time was young, so he could have missed some things."

"Joe, I'm sorry, but I really don't want to go into it. Besides, I'm waiting for that bastard Douglas to contact me."

"Okay, I'll get off, but you'd better be careful, Duncan. The last thing you need to do is to draw attention to yourself."

"You think I don't know that? Bye, Joe!"

"Bye Macleod! Take care."

"You too."

Hanging up, he was filled with a sense of dread. His intuition was right. A few seconds later, he got a phone call.

"Well, well, it seems the recalcitrant immortal has finally made it."

"Douglas, cut the bullshit and tell me where you want to meet. Let Rafe go. You don't need him. It's me you want."

"Temper, temper. It's not nice to make demands to the one who holds the cards. As for Rafe, he's safe. As for a meet, I think we'll wait a few days. I'll let the fact that you can do nothing settle into your brain. But you don't have to worry, you won't have to wait to long."


"Now, Now. I'll contact you later, Macleod. I hope you'll be here."

Throwing the phone down, for once Duncan cut loose and screamed, "Damn him to hell and back!" Invectives were pouring out of his mouth in Gaelic, English, French, Russian, Japanese, and whatever other language he happened to know. Anger so strong was coming off of him in waves. He knew that if he didn't do something, he'd lose it. The last thing he wanted was for Douglas to know he was getting to him. Running to his bedroom, he pulled his sweat clothes out. A run was the only thing that might help. Otherwise, he'd probably do something he'd regret.

As he left the house, as he started running down the street, he didn't know that a silent, distant figure was watching him. And it wasn't the Watchers.

"Well, Stephen, how do you like camping?" Blair asked Stephen, knowing that the other man had just gotten a bad case of chiggers. No one would feel very kind about camping if they'd had that happen to them.

Smiling ruefully, Stephen's humor was still strong even though he had every reason to lose it. "I don't know if I want to do this again anytime soon, but it actually hasn't been too bad. At least it got me out of the office. I didn't realize how much I needed to relax until I was actually relaxing."

"I know what you mean." Coming over to them after preparing the fish for cooking, Jim commented with, "I was really starting to become extremely paranoid. I couldn't even do my job without jumping at every little thing. We'd had one hard case after another. It seemed like it would never let up. Even Sandburg was starting to show his rare temper. Normally, he's the one putting me and everyone else in Major Crimes back together. There's nothing like his enthusiasm and quirky sense of humor to lighten the load of the detectives."

Beaming at the compliment, Blair bursts out, "Well, who else do you think'll do it? Surely not Simon? I can just see it-him dressed in drag performing a Swan Lake aria. Him prancing around the precinct with a swirly tutu and pointy toes."

Laughing their heads off, they all became hilarious picturing that idea. What was even funnier, when Jim told them, was that at one time Simon really had to dress in drag. They'd even taken picture of that historical event but somehow, mysteriously, the pictures up and disappeared. The only clue they'd had was the smug grin on Simon's face.

"But really, Chief, don't kid yourself, you do more than you think you do. If it hadn't have been for you, I wouldn't have solved half of the crimes that I did."

After that serious praise of him, Blair had to smile with an impish grin and say, "Wow! Thanks Jim! I hope you feel that way after I've been pressuring you with my incessant chipmunk chatter, as you so eloquently put it."

"Well, I may not always feel it then or tell you that I appreciate you, but that still doesn't mean you aren't like that."

"Again, I'll remind you of that when I break one of the house rules again."

Seeing a chance to butt in, as well as get some answers he'd been trying to fish out of them, Stephen asked, "Speaking of your house rules, how do you like living with my brother, Blair? And for that matter, what are you doing living with him in the first place?"

"I moved in with Jim, when my apartment blew up. I was renting an apartment that was in a warehouse. Right next to it, an ice lab had moved in. I swore to Jim afterwards, when he asked me how I couldn't know about them, that I thought they were rats. I can live with rats. So I didn't think anything of it."

Laughing, "Well, I see that it's evidently worked out." Staring at both of them for a few minutes, he finally got up the courage to speak, "In truth, I'd wondered if maybe you two weren't lovers. I mean, even a lot of marriages don't last as long as you two've been together." Waiting for their anger, Stephen was obviously preparing himself for their outbursts. To his surprise, they did just the opposite. They laughed.

When their laughter had died down, Jim finally said, chuckling as he said it, "You know, Stephen, you aren't the only one who's asked us that. It seems to be the most common misconception about our relationship. We're not lovers. We're best friends. That's about all I can say."

"I'm sorry I asked. I didn't mean to insult you or anything."

Blair reached out a hand and laid it on Stephen's arm. "You aren't. It's nothing that we haven't faced before anyway." Becoming fidgety after the serious nature of the conversation, especially considering how close it was to his private fantasies, Blair jumped up and told them, "Guys, I'm going to hot spring. I could use a bath about now. Anybody want to join me."

Jim grinned and said, "I hear you. I also smell you. While I don't really want to, I'll do it if you need me to wash your back?"

Reaching over to pop Jim in the head, "Very funny, Jim. I ought to take you up on that. Thanks for telling me that I smell. Like I really needed to know that too." Racing away, Blair gathered the few items he'd need for his bath. He really needed a soak. He didn't like taking one with Jim and Stephen. Unfortunately, that was the perfect way to display to Jim the constant boner he had around him. He didn't notice the silence that seemed to gather around the two men after he left.

A few minutes later, Jim leaned back against the ground, propped up on his elbows and asked Stephen the question that he'd been trying to get Blair away from them for the few minutes it would take to ask. "Stephen, are you still Watching?"

Not surprised at all, Stephen had been expecting that from Jim. "Yea, but I retired from active Watching two years ago. I couldn't take the constant travel. It was wearing on my nerves. That's when I took the job at the race track."

After a few moments of silence, Jim responded with, "I'm on inactive status too. I've never really been a full time watcher. When I joined the military, I never had time to devote myself to the job. Then, when I got out, I was tired of the constantly moving. There was no way I would've stayed active. Instead, I'm the contact the Watcher's go through when a body appears here in Cascade. I try to make sure the case doesn't get solved if it's found, otherwise, I have to make sure the bodies will never be found. I've only had to do that twice since I returned to Cascade. This city isn't the most active place for immortals. In fact, I insisted on this vacation because a head was taken three days ago. My captain knows me well enough that there is no way that I could get away with hiding information, lying about the truth and delaying the investigation. Unfortunately, in this case, it's a disadvantage when you're considered the best cop in the unit."

"I'd heard about that. Professor Tallille, wasn't it. It's a damned shame he had to be killed. He was a pretty decent man. But I know what you're getting at. I can just see you flubbing up an investigation deliberately. And with a partner, there would be no way you could hide it. The only thing it, isn't one of your detectives the adopted son of Tallille?"

"In this case, Sandburg is just too intelligent for his own good. And yes, Brian Rafe is Tallille's son. Any other time and I'd want to solve this case desperately. But I can't get involved. For once, I can't do anything to help and it's driving me crazy."

Stephen just silently commented, "I see what you mean. I've never met a more intelligent man. Good intuition, too. I'm sorry that there's nothing you can do to help. But what about the Watchers? Isn't there something they can do, especially when you consider that Tallille is too closely linked to the Cascade PD?"

"No, I already checked. I called Joe as soon as the head appeared. I get the monthly updates on the computer but there was nothing they could do to help me. I was officially ordered to stay out of it if I could. If I couldn't, to do everything I could to deliberately halt and confuse the investigation."

"At least you didn't have to bury the body."

"That doesn't help, Stephen. God, the memories right now are driving me insane. I don't know how much more I can take."

Again, silence reigned in the air until Stephen was able to gather his courage together to say, "Jim, I know what happened to you. Why didn't you ever tell anyone. Why didn't you tell him?"

Shocked that his brother knew, it was a few moments before he quietly said, "I couldn't. You know what it would have meant. I couldn't let anything happen to him because of me. I wasn't going to be the one responsible for him losing his head. He wasn't ready for that challenge. It would have been over before it had a chance to start. It was easier to just leave."

"But did you have to leave like that, with no word for him. Hell, he thought you were dead, disappearing like that. Do you know he had private detectives hunting for you for 7 months. He didn't give up until he found out through them that you'd joined the army."

"I know, Stephen. You think it still doesn't kill me, knowing I was responsible for hurting him like that. I know he didn't deserve it, but I didn't have a choice." It was extremely rare for him, but the emotional memories had tears pouring down his face. Jim sobbed his hurt, anger and pain, for once letting their past conflicts go, gaining comfort from his brother. Reaching over, Stephen gathered his brother in his arms. He continued to hold Jim as his tears poured out of him. It didn't take but a few moments for Stephen to realize that there would have been nobody he could have confided in.

"I don't judge you, Jim. It's only that, you couldn't have kept me from finding out."

"I know. I just wish I'd been able to make any other decision than the one I made. Even though years have passed, I still have nightmares about it."

"Well, it's past, so I wouldn't worry about it now. You've evidently, recovered from it as much as you could. I just hope you know that I'm here if you ever want to talk. Jim, I'm really sorry for what I did to you back then."

"It's over, Stephen. I should have realized that you were still young. For all intents and purposes, you were still a kid. I wasn't. If it hadn't have been for the fact that the anger against Dad had built up to the breaking point, it would have just blown over. I wasn't so much mad at you as I was with Dad."

"Me too!"

Picking up Blair's return with his hearing, Jim quickly said, "Stephen, we'd better hush. Blair's returning."

Not hearing a thing, Stephen, confused, blurted out, "How do you know that! I don't hear a thing!"

"It's a long story, Stephen. Maybe I'll tell you later."

"I'll hold you to that, big bro!"

Not able to help himself, he smiled. Even though he was still recovering from his emotional release, he was amused at the unconscious return of their brotherly relationship. They'd always been close as brothers.

A few seconds later, Blair bounced into the campsite. His hair was wet as limp noodles, and he looked like a wet poodle. The wide grin on his face, filled with his irrepressible humor, made his appearance incongruous. As one, both Jim and Stephen burst out laughing. Perplexed, not knowing what he looked like, he demanded "What?!" All that confusing, wide-eyed puppy dog look, and the question that came with it did was make them laugh even harder.

Anxiously waiting for another phone call, Duncan spent his time refamiliarizing himself with the city of Cascade. There had been a lot of changes in the last twenty years. He had called to find out when Gavin's funeral was. Attending, he couldn't help but notice the absence of Gavin's adopted son. He'd have liked seeing him again after all this time. He'd always liked Rafe's mother. Gavin couldn't have done better than marrying her.

He did see that there was a couple of men in long coats, not quite trench coats, who were looking at him strangely. He wondered who they were, but since he couldn't ask without revealing part of the truth or be able to do anything about it, he wasn't worrying about it. Of course, he probably would have asked about the people there. Twenty years was a long time and people can change in unrecognizable ways in that amount of time.

After the funeral, in his car, his cell phone started to ring. Thinking it was Joe, since he was the only one who had the number to it, he answered. To his surprise, he got, "So, Macleod, how did you like attending the funeral? Wasn't that a sweet thing to experience?"

Anger, emanating off him in waves, he couldn't help but demand, "Douglas, there's no need to do this. Let Rafe go! I'll damn well fight you! You don't have to worry about that."

Laughter coming out of the phone, he calmly said, "Well Macleod, it's nice to see you off your step. After all, I want to have the advantage. I could hardly do that, if I didn't have something hanging over your head. But since you so nicely demanded, I'll tell you what I'll do. A protg of mine will fight you first. You win, and I'll meet you in a few days. This is as good a time as any to test my student. If he can defeat you, so much the better."

"You Bastard!"

"Thanks for the compliment, Duncan. Meet Gary at the old mill, outside the city, on Klefner Street. I'm looking forward to seeing you lose."

"I won't be the one to lose!"

A smile in his voice, he was answered, "We'll see," He hung up after that. Duncan was still clenching the phone minutes later. His anger had frozen him up. When he finally loosened up enough to make his way to the meet, his hot temper had forged into a calm, ice cold anger. He was too good not to be able to control his temper in battle. That didn't mean that Douglas' student wouldn't pay. His past experiences didn't mean he still couldn't have his revenge. It just meant he'd have to survive. No matter what that took.

He never noticed the two men who'd been at the funeral, following him.

Reaching the mill, with his sword in hand, he slowly, cautiously made his way inside. He immediately felt his challenge's presence. A second later, a dark red headed, olive complexioned, young man came in. The look on his face told him that this Gary thought he'd win with no problem. Evidently, his teacher wanted to get rid of him. Nothing like student/teacher loyalty, he thought to himself.

The man declared, masterfully, "I'm Gary Logan."

"Duncan Macleod of the Clan Macleod!"

With that standard introduction, the fight was on. It was no surprise that it only took a few minutes to win. As angry as he was, he didn't hesitate to take his head. Duncan had by that point had enough, and if this upstart thought he could get by on his arrogance, then too bad for him. In a matter of moments, the head of his opponent was on the floor. The quickening was weak, as only a new immortal's would be, taking only a few moments to absorb. It didn't take him long to recover. He thought about hiding the body, but, they were in an out of the way place that was closed down. He thought it would be a few days at the least before somebody found the body. Wiping his blade off, he didn't realize that he was watched the entire time. As he left, he didn't see the two men calling on their cell phone. Nor did he see them lay something down on the body.

Soon after, when he was long gone, the place was swarming with cops. Brown was in charge, with Simon overseeing what looked like Brown's first major case. With Rafe and Jim on their vacation leaves, that left Brown as the only detective senior enough to be lead investigator on this case. Looking down at the body, Simon commented to Brown, "Damn, this is the second body we've had in week. What the hell is going on?"

Taking a thorough look at the murder site for clues, Brown said, "You don't think it's a cult, do you?"

"I hope not. The last thing we need is more inexplicable deaths. Forensics aren't even back with Tallille's death. And how are we going to explain to Rafe that his stepfather was killed? I don't have the first idea where to contact him or where he is. I'm glad that he isn't here, though. We don't need him constantly demanding us to investigate. But, I do wish we could reach him somehow. It's going to hurt him bad that he wasn't here for the funeral. He doesn't normally disappear without telling me where he can be contacted at. That's not like Rafe."

"Captain, that's no fault of yours. The funeral was paid for by Rainier and it was a closed casket anyway. We'll just have to be careful breaking the news to him when he gets back."

"I know! I know! I just wish....damn it, why the hell did Jim have to insist on his vacation this week? He's probably the only one who even has a chance solving it, especially with the esoteric knowledge Sandburg usually has."

"Well, Captain, I guess we'll just have to do the best we can. You can always reassign Ellison when he and Sandburg get back."

Glancing around, Simon didn't deign to answer. His gaze was fixed on what looked like a hotel deskpad. Reaching down with his gloves, he picked up it up. It was blank. A further look at it as he held it to the light, showed that there was an impression on it. Taking his pencil out of his pocket, he started to rub across it to get the impression. Staring at him was a name, Duncan Macleod and a number. Calling Brown over, he had him bag it for fingerprints. Taking the name and number, he dialed it.

Duncan was walking through his door as the phone rang. Picking it up, again thinking it was Joe, he answered "Duncan Macleod." Simon, on the other end, not wanting to give anything away, said wrong number. Shrugging it off, Duncan just hung up and went to clean his sword. He used a special substance that he'd found cleaned swords well enough that no evidence could ever be found on it. It dissolved blood so their was not a trace. Even though he wasn't connected to the body, he'd long ago learned the lesson that it was better to be safe than sorry.

Simon told Brown, "It looks like we've got our lead. One Duncan Macleod at this number."

Smiling, Brown said, "Well, it's fortunate that we have something. The other body didn't have anything on it."

"Well, lets hope we've got our murderer." While the scene was being bagged and categorized, Simon called to have the phone number traced. Moments later, he had the address. With Brown, and two patrolmen with him, he went to the house. Going up the steps, they rang. Hearing the door unlock, they watched as a tall, very physical man with black hair and dark, olive skin answered. Looking at them in surprise, he queried, "May I help you?"

"Are you Duncan Macleod?"

"Yes, I am."

Holding up their badges, they told him that he was wanted for questioning on the murder of one Gary Logan. Shocked, he let himself be hauled off to the precinct. It wasn't an unusual occurrence, having to answer the police. What was surprising though, was how they'd connected him to his death. The only thing he could think of was that Douglas wanted him to experience the humiliation of arrest. That's not counting, getting him out of a sword fight he didn't think he could lose. He did wonder why an immortal would risk the public finding out about them like this.

Taking Macleod in for questioning, Simon sent Brown back to the house with a warrant in hopes of finding the murder weapon. Brown looked around the house, noticing that it was immaculate, as if this Macleod character had just moved in. A thorough search of the premises revealed a sword. As soon as he saw it, he knew he had their killer. On his way back to the precinct, he told Simon about the evidence over the phone. With that knowledge in hand, Simon used it to question Macleod.

"Duncan Macleod, do you know why you're here?"

"I'm assuming I'm a suspect in something."

"You are. What I'd like to know is just where, when and what were you doing three hours ago?"

"I was driving. I haven't been in Cascade in a long time and I was refamilliarizing myself with the city."

"We searched the premises of the murder site and found this." He pulled out the tablet with his name and number. "Do you recognize this?"

"Well, it's obviously my name and number. I don't know how it got there or why it was there."

"A sword was found at your house. Can you explain that?"

"Yes, I'm a curator of antiques. I don't have a business anymore, but I do carry out the special interests of my clients, when they want a new sword or antique. I specialize in sword appraising, as well as Celtic artifacts."

Simon was really starting to get frustrated by now. Macleod's composure was something that he hadn't seen in a long time. It didn't take much to know that he'd seen the insides of a police station before. He'd already pulled up his rap sheet and was surprised at the number of murders that couldn't quite be pinpointed to him, but that he was most definitely involved in someway. Macleod had a file a mile long with the police. A lot of it was foreign information, too.

"What are you doing here in Cascade."

"I decided it was time for me to return. A friend of mine was killed here. Professor Tallille was a an old, personal friend of mine. I'm even an honorary uncle to his son, Rafe."

Shocked, Simon'd had no clue that Macleod was in any way connected to Rafe. This made things even more complicated. But still, he had to ask, "Why are you here in Cascade when you haven't even visited here in almost twenty years?"

"I had to come to his funeral. After I was called and told about it, I coming back was no longer an option for me anymore. I swore to never return, twenty years ago. I have some painful memories of my past here in this city. It hurts enough, that I wouldn't be here unless I absolutely had no choice."

"When did you return?"

"I got here three days ago."

"So you weren't here six days ago?"


"Can anybody swear to it?"

"Yes, Joe Dawson. He owns a bar in Seacouver, which is my home."

"Well, Macleod, we'll check out your story. I'd advise you to not leave town."

"I know. I wasn't planning on leaving soon anyway."

"Well, that'll do it for now, but we'll need some more answers later. We've kept your sword for analysis. You'll get it back if it comes out clean."

"You'd better take care of it. The sword's been in my family for three hundred years. I don't part with it willingly."

Surprised that it was that old, Simon just nodded. Duncan got his coat and was leaving through Major Crimes, when his past met up with him.

Walking through the doors was a man he hadn't seen in twenty years. The reason for all those painful memories in the first place. There were no words for the shock he felt. Frozen, speechless, he couldn't move. He was walking in with three others, but Duncan couldn't help but overlook them. His eyes were glued on the last person he ever wanted to see.

The man who had his total attention said something to his companions and looked up. Their gazes locked. His shock was suddenly mirrored in the face in front of him. They suddenly weren't moving at all. Emotions ran through them both, almost identical to each other.

Seeing his sudden stillness, Blair noticed that Jim wasn't moving. He was staring, with shock on his face, at a tall, dark man. He wasn't the only one. The man had the same look on his face that Jim had. Turning to find out what was wrong, he saw something else. Stephen was staring at the man in astonishment, too. Quickly his concern for his partner flared. Asking in an attention getting tone, he said, "Jim!"

With the rest of Major Crimes witnessing the scene, there was no hiding anything. Coming out of his frozen state, Jim blurted out in a broken voice, "Duncan?"

Duncan abruptly came back to his surroundings. All the anger, all the hatred that had been building up, not just in the past week, but over the years, all the painful memories surged through him. Not even taking the time to say anything, not caring about where he was, who he was with, he let fly. His fist landed hard on Jim's face. Strong enough, it knocked him on his ass, although it didn't take him out. Duncan silently started to move toward the doors, not caring that he'd just assaulted someone in the police department or that he could be arrested for it. Only one thing halted him. It was a cry of, "DUNCAN!"

Turning back around, Duncan faced his nemesis. The entire precinct looked upon this moving scene with almost unearthly fascination. Simon, Blair and the others watched them. They weren't moving. They didn't know what to do. Evidently, this entire situation was a first. Duncan watched Jim get up and walk over to him, their eyes again locked upon each other.

"Duncan, I...." Suddenly, Duncan couldn't wait around for an explanation. Nothing could explain the pain and hell he went through for years. He turned around and started racing out the precinct. Ready to follow, Jim stopped when Stephen came to him. With a hand on Jim's arm, Stephen quietly said, "Jim, don't do it! You can't do anything now!"

Giving his brother a helpless, hurt, and painful expression, his words were filled with emotions, "Stephen, I've got to go to him! I can't let him think..."

Stephen interrupted him, "Not now, Jim! Let him cool off! The last thing he'll be receptive to is an explanation right now. Wait awhile!"

Hearing and yet not hearing, Jim couldn't take anymore. He ran out of the P.D. as if the hounds of hell were after him. He didn't hear, so locked up with his emotions as he was, Stephen yelling, "JIMMMM!!"

Left in the squad room, Stephen looked around. He didn't know what he was going to say. He didn't have the answers. Blair was silent with astonishment, his face reflected what the rest of them felt. Simon, wanting answers, and realizing that he was the only one who knew anything, came over to him and asked, "Mr. Ellison, do you want to explain what we just saw?"

Wordless, Stephen didn't have the first idea of how to get himself out of this. He didn't know what was going to happen to his brother. He was left holding the bag and he hated it. Fuck it, they can just wait until Jim explains. I'm not going to get Jim in any deeper than he already is. He's already risking the entire organization. He was walking away, when Simon pulled him back with a firm grip on his arm. "Ellison, I've never seen Jim act like that. Now, you're going to tell me what is going on, or I'll hold you for suspicion of murder."

Giving up, Stephen spoke up, "Captain Banks, it's not my story to tell. If you want to know, you're going to have to ask my brother. I won't hurt him more than he's already hurting. What he tells you is up to him. I won't break his confidences." Then, not caring what they did to him, he walked away before the captain could do what he threatened to do.

Simon just stared after him. Blair hadn't spoken a word. Seeing the rest of the room in silence, he suddenly shouted, "Everyone, get back to work! You'd better be busy in five minutes, or there'll be hell to pay!" He went back to his office. With the blinds already down, no one to see him, he leaned against the wall. Hearing the door opened, he watched as Blair came into the office with Brown. Immediately, he demanded answers, "Sandburg, do you know what the hell that was all about?"

Not having the first clue, Sandburg was silent for a moment. Still in shock himself, he didn't know what had just happened. He'd never in the almost three years he'd known Jim, ever seen him react like that. He didn't know what to tell Simon, except for, "Simon, I've never seen Jim act like that. Obviously, Stephen knew what's going on, but I don't. It's not something Jim's confided in me." Without realizing it, the hurt in his voice, was very apparent. Simon couldn't accuse him anymore, because it was as plain as day that he didn't know anything.

Going over to his desk, he fell into his chair, pulling out of a drawer, a flask of whisky he kept only for emergencies. Frankly, if this wasn't an emergency, then he didn't know what was. Offering his chairs to Brown and Sandburg, he told them, "Sandburg, Brown, do you want some of this whiskey? I only keep it for critical times. If this isn't as good excuse as any to drink than I don't know what is."

Brown, getting cups, sat down with Blair. A few minutes later, after they'd silently drank the entire flask, Simon was calm enough to ask Brown, "Did you by any chance set the bugs in Macleod's house?"

"Yea! After getting the facts on his past, we had no problem getting a warrant for bugging his house. There's too many headless bodies in his background to be coincidence."

Finally realizing what they were talking about, Blair cried out, "What the hell do you mean? Is he the suspect you have for the headless body of Professor Tallille?"

A hard, resigned look in his eyes, Simon answered Blair, "Yea, Blair, he is. And it's two bodies. Another was found today. Evidence at the crime scene led us to Duncan Macleod. He's a martial arts instructor, part-time professor, and antique appraiser specializing in swords."

"Damn! And Jim obviously knows him well. From the way he looked, Jim doesn't hate him. It looked more like hurt. What is between them?" Muttering to himself, Blair was trying to work out his own emotions from what he'd witnessed. Unfortunately, as much as he wanted to sympathize with Jim, he'd rather know what was going on. He hated the fact that he didn't know something that must have occurred in Jim's past that was that serious enough to cause him major hurt. If he didn't find out the truth there was no way he could help Jim. And it looked like Jim really needed his Guide to be there.

"Well, with his house bugged, maybe we can find out something."

"Simon, what if what if we don't want to know? I mean, what if Jim knows about this Macleod? He'd be an accessory to murder!"

"You think I don't know that! This was absolutely that last circumstance I imagined when I had the judge authorizing the bugs. But if Jim knows something, then there's no way I can protect him. He'll just have to face up to it. I can't protect him if he doesn't protect himself."

"I guess.."Blair gave him a forlorn expression.

After finding out about the possible threat to Jim's life, Blair was even more anxious. He couldn't believe he'd been placed in this position. But the strange thing is that as extremely frightened for Jim as he was, there was nothing he could do about it.

Who is he? What is he to Jim? Those questions raced throughout his mind. He was so in love with Jim that it hurt not knowing about something that was obviously very important to him. Shaking his head, Blair came out of the retreat he'd made in his mind, when he heard Simon say something important. It caught his attention.

"What do you mean, you'll be doing the listening? Simon, you're not the investigator, Brown is." Blair spoke up.

"Do you seriously think I'd ever let anyone else do it? Now that we know Jim's closely acquainted with our chief suspect, the only was to keep IA out of it is to do it myself. Sandburg, Brown, don't tell anyone else, but I might be able to save Jim that way."

Brown stated, "Jim's our friend, Simon. If we can keep him safe, than I'm all for it."

"You don't have to ask me, either, Simon. I'll do anything, and I mean anything to protect Jim. The only thing--Simon, what about? You know....." Giving Simon an intense look, it hit Simon what Blair was referring too.

"Sandburg, we don't have a choice. If it gets out, it gets out. I'd rather have everyone know about Jim than for him to be in jail."

"I guess so, Simon, but we can't let anyone get hold of the tapes. We can't let anyone find out." He was softly crying as he made those statements.

Brown, looking strangely at Blair and Simon finally asked, "What is going on? What is there that I don't know about Jim? You'd better tell me. The more information I have, the better I'll be able to help."

Seeing the logic of that, Simon and Blair looked at each other and decided that they had no choice but to trust that Brown would never hurt Jim. Within a few moments, they told him about Sentinels and Guides and just what they were capable of.

Hearing this fantastical information, he at first thought Blair and Simon were joking. But remembering the situation, he knew that there was no way they'd be joking at a time like this. Absorbing the knowledge, all Brown could do was what he would have done without asking anyway. He told them that it was okay with him, and that he wouldn't tell anyone, but that he did wonder just what that had to do with this. He thought it was unlikely that they would here anything about that.

Simon just looked at Brown and said, "Thanks, but somehow, anything could be possible with the situation as it stands. Okay, Blair, do you have classes tomorrow? We've got to monitor Macleod's house, starting tonight. You up for it?"

"Yea, but I have one class first thing in the morning and another late afternoon. And as far as me being there, well, I don't have to tell you that Jim's my partner. I'll always be there when he needs me."

"I'm sorry you have to face something like this, just when you're getting back from your vacation."

"Me, too!"

"How did you enjoy your vacation. Did you and Jim's brother get along?"

"It was an excellent vacation. And as for Stephen, I got along fine with him. He's actually a lot more outgoing than Jim is. And Jim, well it only took that first night before Jim and he were comfortable enough to just be brothers. By the time the vacation was over, we were all mellowed out. I didn't hear the first argument or recriminations about the past. But Simon, I know you noticed, but Stephen knew Duncan Macleod as well. Although, evidently not as well as Jim. Whatever happened in the past had to be before he left home. That has to be at least twenty years ago."

"Blair, you just hit the nail on the head. Macleod claims he hasn't been here in Cascade for twenty years. Even though he looks young, he might be close to Jim's age. I wouldn't doubt that they knew each other in high-school. Although that doesn't explain what just happened."

"I know, Simon. Do you think you can find out where he was and what he was doing twenty years ago?"

"I'll start putting out feelers. We should be able to come up with something. Why don't you go home and see if Jim is there. Maybe you can find out by yourself."

"Sure, Simon. I just hope Jim doesn't throw me out for trying to invade his privacy."

"He'd never do that, Sandburg. You're the only one he wouldn't do that too. You're his best friend, and probably the only one who even has a chance to get close to him."

"Thanks, I really needed to hear that now. I'd better see if he went home. Bye." Blair's severely down attitude was apparent to the two men. They continued to watch him until he completely out of the office. Then Brown spoke up, "Captain, you do know he's in love with Jim?"

"Yea, I've always known that. And I'd bet any amount of money that Jim feels the same way. But from all appearances, they aren't lovers. This is hurting Blair badly. I just hope he survives it."

"He will, Captain. And like you said, if anyone can get through to Jim, he can. I don't suggest worrying about it until we know for sure what's going on. It may just be a chance of some old argument or fight years ago. You know how Jim is."

"I do at that. Let's hope they all come out of this."

"I could drink to that. What say we go out for a few drinks now. We'll probably need the fortification before tonight is over."

"Amen to that!" They both got up and left.

As he entered the apartment, Blair realized that Jim wasn't home. His truck was there, but there was no Jim. Blair was convinced that he'd taken a cab. Frightened and scared, Blair threw himself down on the couch. He didn't know what to do now. He needed, desperately to talk to Jim.

Getting up, he went over to get a beer, when he realized something. The computer was on. Knowing that it shouldn't have been, that they'd turned it off before they went on vacation, and that they'd stopped by the precinct first thing when they got back, it was evident that Jim had been the one to turn it on.

It took him a few minutes, but he finally found the files that Jim had downloaded off of the computer. It must have been a rush job, because he probably would have deleted it otherwise. Reading the first, it looked like an update sheet. The database said it came from was something called Watchers. The sheet was the physical facts of one, Joe Dawson. It said he was a resident of Seacouver, Washington. That he owned a bar called Joe's. It listed some facts, like how long he'd worked for the watchers, which was over thirty years, that he was fifty-four years old. Under his title, it said he was United States Divisional Head. It claimed that he alternated residences back and forth between Paris and Seacouver. But then, his eyes were caught down at the end of the data sheet. One line at the bottom said that his active assignment was one Duncan Macleod.

Pulling back in shock, Blair just stared at the sheet. Obviously, this Joe Dawson had something to do with Macleod but he had no idea what organization the Watchers were. A pad next to the computer had a phone number written on it. A glance confirmed that it was the same number as that of Joe's bar. It seemed as if Jim needed his phone number. He'd probably called from here.

There was another file that he'd downloaded. This one was encrypted. But surprisingly, the encryption code was still filed with it. He didn't have to go out of his way to break it. Blair pulled it up.

At the top, it stated Current Placement and Status. Next to that it said Duncan Macleod. After a few moments of reading, he recognized what it was. It was a list of dates for the last year. It had one for each day, and next to them, a brief explanation of Duncan Macleod's whereabouts. Reading down the file, most of it concerned him at his residence in Paris. There was were a few meetings that seemed to be important.

As he started to correlate them, he saw that most were woman. It did specifically state that Duncan was not carrying a sword, that he used a boken stick for defense only. One instance, this one a meeting with a male stated that he'd challenged someone. Threatened only, with intent to stop a killing.

Puzzled, the more Blair read, the more confused he got. When he got down to the end, he noticed something else. One, Macleod had evidently just returned to Seacouver from Paris. It was a permanent move, but he'd only been in his old residence three days, when he disappeared. His actions were recorded up to that point. Someone had made a specific notation that there was no trace of his disappearance. Then, two days later, another notation stated that he was in Cascade, that there was telling how long he'd remain there.

But the most telling thing of all, were two things. First, Macleod wasn't in Cascade when Professor Tallille was killed. Next, even more confusing, and looking at the time the notation was entered, it was just today, there was a statement that said a Gary Logan, student to Douglas Hampton, had challenged Macleod. It was uneven in skill, but Duncan won the challenge with no trouble. Someone had made a specific comment in it.

It said, "Duncan Macleod has apparently recovered from taking the head of his student. The insanity behind that evidently is over. While there is no indication that the recovery is assured, he at least carries his sword for the purpose it's intended for. It will not be long before Hampton will challenge Macleod personally. They are nearly equal in age and skill, so it's anyone's guess who will win. The Watchers have lost all trace with Hampton, and have no knowledge of his whereabouts. We continually search for him, but it seems that he has hidden all trace of his presence and holds Brian Rafe, Professor David Tallille's adopted son hostage for assurance of a challenge. Although Hampton normally fights fair, because of this change in procedure, we do not know if the challenge will be one on one, in a fair fight. Macleod waits for the call. Our reserve contacts within the police department of Cascade assures me that it can be covered up. Jim Ellison will be assigned to the case, with his activation temporary only duty. His brother, Stephen Ellison, has been reactivated to permanent active duty until further notice." It ended with that.

Blair didn't know what to make of this. As confused as this day had been, this was even stranger. Somehow, this Macleod had people monitoring his whereabouts and actions twenty four hours a day. He assumed that this Joe Dawson was the one in charge of Macleod's case, although from his title, he was probably more important than that. Although, why he owned and worked in his own bar, he didn't have the slightest clue. But what was even stranger, it looked as if Jim and his brother Stephen were a part of this Watcher organization.

Leaning back, trying to let all this new information sink in, he didn't know what to do. Did he tell Simon that it looked as if he had proof that Macleod killed Logan or did he wait to see what was going on first. It didn't matter what Jim had done, Blair knew that there was no way he was going to betray his best friend, and the man he loved more than life itself. Even if his own life was ruined in the process.

Deciding he'd be better off waiting to see what the night brought before he did anything, he got up to go to bed for awhile. He knew he'd need the sleep because he'd have to stay awake for at least twenty-four hours. As for this new knowledge, he wasn't going to do anything. He'd have confronted Jim with it first, anyway, before he'd get Jim into trouble by showing it to Simon.

Closing everything down, he laid down in bed to back to wait for tonight's duty. It was going to be a long night, with plenty of dreams and nightmares.

Pacing the floor of his home, Duncan was in a state of shock. Breathing rapidly, he was hurting so bad inside he could hardly stand it. He'd faced a lot of pain before. Losing his parents, Deborah, Tessa, and then having to accept the fact that it was his hand that had killed Richie, this in a way was far worse.

Coming home, he'd made it there in a literal daze. The route had gone by before he'd known it. Hesitating before his home, he suddenly decided he needed physical exertion to help him forget. Rushing in, he quickly changed to his sweats again. He'd already done more running in the last week than he had in a long time. It looked as if he was going to do some more. He was gone for a considerable length of time.

When he made it back, he was somewhat more calmed down, but as he paced the floor of the dining room, the house seemed oppressive to him. It didn't help that this was where his memories of Jim were based.

About 8 pm, he got a knock at the door. Somehow, he knew it was Jim. He wasn't prepared to face him, but he also knew he didn't have a choice. If he was ever going to get over his anger, he'd have to listen to Jim's explanation. It might even be a good one, but that still didn't mean that it would be twenty years too late.

Opening the door, he looked at the man who had the power to bring back all those painful, hurting emotions. Running his eyes up and down Jim, physically aware of him as he'd always been from the first moment they'd met, he pulled back, letting him know that he could come in.

For a few moments, neither spoke. No words were spoken as their eyes were glued to each other. Finally, Duncan had the sense to break the silence. He couldn't help his tone from being harsh and wavering. His emotions were already on overdrive.

"Jim Ellison, what the hell are you doing here?"

A soft, hurt look came into his eyes. Pain was a recognizable part of it, but it was mixed with hundreds of other emotions, even love and happiness. Jim kept his mouth closed until he could bring himself back together to start talking and be able to make sense.

Pulling back, standing a few feet away, deliberately staying out of Duncan's personal space, he said, "Duncan, can we go to the den? I'd like to at least present my case somewhere comfortable."

"I guess so, but I you won't be here long anyway."

"Maybe, but I still need to talk." Jim pleaded with his tone for Duncan to agree with him.

Duncan quickly turned around and led the way into the room they'd always both loved. It was large and had two couches that were huge, stuffed monstrosities. They'd made use a lot of them twenty years ago, and the memories of the past were thick in this room. Jim apparently felt the same way, with his nerves showing dramatically.

Falling down into the middle of one of the couches, he leaned back and waited for Jim's explanation. Jim started pacing like he had done a few moments before he'd showed up. Then he stopped and turned and blurted out before he could change his mind, "Duncan, what I did twenty years ago, I didn't have a choice. I made the only decision I could at the time. You don't know how truly sorry I was and still am today for that matter."

Jumping up, Duncan was immediately shouting, "Dammit Jim, don't you know the hell I went through. One day, we were happy as a peacock, and the next you disappear off the face of the earth. Your brother didn't know where you were, your father hadn't the first clue since you'd been estranged since we met. I thought you were dead. But no, stupid me, I had to get investigators to search for you. And seven, and I mean SEVEN, months later, I find that you've joined the military. There was no goodbye, no dear John letter, no nothing. If I could have killed you at that time, I probably would have." Duncan's pain, sorrow, frustration and intense hurt all burst through his words.

"You think I don't know THAT!! I DIDN'T HAVE ANY CHOICE! If I could have done anything else, don't you think I would have?" Jim was shouting in Duncan's face, too.

"Then why the hell did you do it?" Duncan demanded with an imperious voice, leaving no chance for hesitation.

"I did it to save your life." Jim had quieted to a very soft sound. He was barely audible to Duncan.


Going over to the only window in the den, he looked out up at the stars. Then he turned around and said, "Duncan, I'd better start by telling you something first. I'll go into explanations later on why I did what I did, but first, I need you to know the truth I hid from you from the moment we first met."

An ominous feeling deep within him, Duncan knew he wasn't going to like what he was about to hear. Deciding that he'd better sit down before he passed out, he made himself as comfortable as he could. He was only going to be able to listen if he braced himself emotionally as best he could. There was no sense in embarrassing himself by not being able to deal with Jim's obvious revelations. He waited. The answers would be soon forthcoming.

Reaching into his shirt, he pulled something out. It was a thin chain, with a medallion hanging from it. Taking it off, he walked over and silently handed it to him. Duncan looked down at it. At first, it didn't connect in his mind. Then, looking at it, he knew exactly what it was. Looking up at Jim, astonishment was plain in his eyes. Not speaking, he questioned Jim with eyes. This couldn't be what he thought it was. It couldn't be.

Then, "You're a Watcher?"

Jim sat down at the edge of the couch, looked at Duncan again, and told him, "Yes, I have been since I was thirteen years old."

That statement flabbergasted Duncan. All those years, and now he had an entirely different reasoning for them. He didn't know what to say, until, it occurred to him, "Is that why....?"

"NOOO!! Duncan, you know damn well that's not the reason. If anything, it would have been just the opposite. I was never supposed to get as close to you as I did. It damn well wasn't the reason I fell in love with you!"

"..It damn well wasn't the reason I fell in love with you!" When that bomb fell into their laps, Simon, Blair and Brown were as shocked as they could possibly be. They thought they'd been prepared for anything. But not that! Looking at each other, none of them had anything to say. The explanation was far beyond what any of them had expected. Not saying anything, they just listened.

Blair hurt so bad from that statement, it was a wonder he was okay. The fact that his Jim had been in love with a man before was totally beyond him. He'd always thought Jim was straight. Then, he realized that if Jim hadn't made a move for him in nearly three years, than he probably never would. Knowing Jim wasn't in love with him and never would be tore him apart. Feeling an anguish so strong, before he knew it, tears were falling out of his eyes. The pain was so bad he couldn't hold himself together.

Pulling himself together, he listened to the rest of the conversation. As badly as he hurt, he was still Jim's Guide. The only way he could help Jim was to know the truth. Even though his world crumbled down around him, he started handling it, because he knew Jim would need him, even if the only way he could ever be with him was as a friend. Brown and Simon in a similar state of shock and had their ears glued to the speakers. They all sat there and listened to the scene that unfolded before them.

"Falling in love with you goes against everything the Watchers are. It seriously jeopardizes the entire organization. I damn well wouldn't have fallen in love with you to get close. I didn't need to." As Jim said that, he collapsed against the couch, tears falling down from his eyes. My eyes had just as many tears, but I couldn't gather my thoughts to say anything. We sat there until the quiet of the room exaggerated our memories.

Then, after a few moments, I asked the obvious question, "Is that why you left?"

"DAMMIT, DUNCAN!! You're not listening. I fell in love with you from the first! I knew the truth from before we even met. Do you seriously think I would have left you because of that? I knew you couldn't tell me. I had hoped when our commitment had lasted long enough, that you'd have trusted me enough to tell me the truth, but I wasn't expecting it or even waiting for it. No one knows more then me why you couldn't tell anyone. It would be dangerous to tell me, although just living with you as your lover, I was involved. Sooner or later the game would have interfered with our relationship . And as for telling you, I couldn't tell you I already knew because that would have broken the very code that protected us. I was stuck between a rock and hard place. But that wasn't enough reason for me to leave you! I would have found a way to balance things If I could but circumstances made it impossible."

After that long explanation of telling me that he'd always been a Watcher, something confused me. I thought Watchers were recruited as adults, although I knew that they usually recruited those that accidently witnessed a Quickening. I'd never heard of children Watchers. If they had them, then Joe had some emplaning to do. "Jim, just how did you become a Watcher at that age? I thought they don't recruit until they're older."

"Normally, they don't. But, my brother and I are a special case."

"Your brother! Stephen! He's a watcher too?"

"Yes, Duncan. Actually, he's been an active Watcher all his life. He only recently, about four years ago, retired to settle down with a job at the racetrack. Me, when I left you, there was no way I could ever accept another assignment, so I quit and was placed on reserve status. By keeping me on call I could handle things as they came up in Cascade, but not be forced to do all the traveling that's normally required. If something happened, I was in a position to help cover it up and make sure the public found nothing out. It was especially true when I joined the Cascade P.D. Watchers always need personnel in the police departments to help them, since the bodies always end up there. It's the perfect position to make sure nothing was revealed."

Duncan's voice became confused, his face showing the strain of trying to understand, "But you said you've been a Watcher since you were thirteen?"

"Stephen and I were recruited the same way most Watchers are recruited. We witnessed a challenge and the subsequent Quickening."

"What! You mean you saw a head being taken?"

"Uh..Huh. Stephen and I were playing in the woods on the outskirts of Cascade when we saw a woman fight another man with swords only. Then, we watched as she won the challenge and took his head. The Quickening that following scared Stephen and I shitless. I distinctly remember that we thought aliens had come down to Earth to destroy us. We were immediately running for our lives. That's how scared we were. As we ran away, a man caught up with us and grasped our collars. Forcing us to stay where we were, we waited until the woman had left. Then, Raymond, the woman's Watcher, told us everything. Then he asked us if we wished to be a part of it. He said it wasn't required, but that it would help knowing the truth so we wouldn't have nightmares. He treated us like adults and gave us a choice of either knowing the full situation or to just try to forget and hoped it worked. Like most of the people in that situation, we chose to become Watchers. In fact, Duncan, a lot of Watcher's are recruited that way. Normally, adults don't believe children. If they witnessed a Quickening and told someone about it, adults tended to think they were just playing with them. If they even tell anyone at all. But, Stephen and I were old enough that someone might have believed us, especially if I'd been able to get someone to see the body while it was still there, before it could be buried."

Listening, Duncan was intrigued with a woman taking a head. There weren't that many women immortals and those that were good enough, he either knew or knew by reputation. "Do you know who she was?"

"Yes." Jim started chuckling as if there was something amusing about the thought. "You know her, in fact."



"What! Amanda! She doesn't take a lot of heads. She's too good with worming her way out of situations where she could get killed."

"I know. It was kind of strange that we witnessed the first head she'd taken in over thirty years. Her reputation as a thief and her ability for getting herself out of challenges or trouble precedes her. It would take an angry man not to susceptible to her charms. I do know for a fact that her Watchers have had to be very good over the years to keep from being spotted."

"Don't I know it. Unfortunately, she knows her way around me. I don't know how many times when the trouble that normally should land on her, lands on me. I can see where a Watcher would have trouble following her. As for our relationship, I don't even know why we're still friends. But, it's been over a year since I last saw her. We parted on hesitant terms."

"When you took Richie's head."

"You...know about that?"

"I know. Even though I'm not an active Watcher, I still have active passwords and can get into the Watcher database. I've been keeping up with your records since I left. I have no idea why you took his head, especially when he was defenseless, but since Joe is still your friend, you must have had a good reason."

The pain of the memories of Ahriman were tied up with memories of Richie and of course, Methos. It hurt to remember them. Especially their loss. Combining that with what he felt facing Jim again, had him nearly on his knees praying for relief. "Maybe, but that still doesn't explain why the hell you left me. God, I was so hurt. I hated you for a long time when you disappeared on me with no warning. It's a wonder I ever trusted enough to fall in love again."

Jim had this look on his face when he said that. If he was a Watcher he knew about my relationship with Tessa. If he cared for me even in the slightest, then it had to hurt. Sure enough, he asked, "With Tessa?"


"Duncan, for all it's worth now, I'm sorry. Again, I did the only thing I could do at the time. I never wanted to leave you or ever cause you pain. Leaving you was a last resort. It was either to leave you or kill myself. I thought leaving you would give you a chance to get over me, to find someone else to love. I loved you enough to give you that. I also cared for my life enough to respect myself."

Jim jumped and started pacing again in front of me. Evidently, I wasn't the only one with painful memories and regrets. He just couldn't understand why Jim had left him. He still had no explanation for that.

Inside the van, Brown, Blair and Simon all heard movement inside, as if someone was pacing or moving energetically. As Blair listened, he knew that Jim wouldn't leave without a good reason. In all the time he'd known Jim, his honor and loyalty were his greatest assets. When he loved someone, there was nothing halfway with him. He gave everything. The only thing is that one had to listen closely because Jim would never tell you his troubles himself. He was very closemouthed about his emotions. He expected the people he cared for to know and that wasn't very realistic.

Jim's relationship with his wife, Carolyn, broke up because he couldn't tell her his emotions. Jim shows he cares in lots of little ways, but telling someone, it was hard for him.

Damnit, Jim! Why didn't you tell me about Duncan? Don't you know that even if it killed me, I'd never betray you? God, I love you so much and I didn't even have a chance. Duncan Macleod, I hope you know you found gold when you met Jim. I don't have to hear his reasoning for leaving you to know that when he says he didn't have a choice, he didn't have a choice. But I can understand how you feel. If I'd had Jim's love and lost it when he left me, it would destroy me. The only difference between you and me, Macleod is that I wouldn't have survived.

Absorbed in his emotions of envy and hatred for Duncan Macleod for having what he'd always wanted, he was about ready to leave, but he couldn't because....he had to know. It was as simple and straightforward as that.

As I'd listened to Jim, all I could feel was the need for an explanation. He had to know Why Jim did it. "Hell, I loved you, Jim. Do you know what it did to me to think that you suddenly woke up and realized that you no longer wanted to be with a man? I already had guilt enough because I seduced you. You were only sixteen! At my age, I should have known better!"

"Seduced me! What are you talking about? If anyone did the seducing, it was me. I was the one who pushed, Duncan. Do you seriously think that I could have responded to you like that if I hadn't have loved you. Jesus, my father would have killed me if he'd ever found out. As it was, everything he taught me was still inside me. I had to listen to his voice every time we kissed, touched or made love. I would never have fallen in love with a man if I could have helped. But you know what? There's no way I couldn't have. Duncan, you are the most honorable, beautiful man I've ever seen, both inside and out. I didn't even know if you'd ever had a male lover when I became assigned as your Watcher. I did enough research to find out when I realized what I was feeling. It shocked me that I felt desire for a man. I'd never been attracted to men. None whatsoever. It was only because of your reputation of reacting honorably to someone making a pass at you that I took a chance at all. I knew that you wouldn't hurt me if I did. Otherwise, there would have been no way I could handle the rejection."

"Then you know about Fitz?"

"I know that he's apparently the only male lover you'd ever had. It didn't help that it was obviously the same type of relationship you had with Amanda. I didn't want that. If I was going to go against everything I'd been taught, then it was going to be for love and not the casual affection you get from others as they come and go. For one, I wanted commitment. I needed that badly. Two, I don't have forever to develop a relationship like you. So, you can bet when I seduced you, and I did seduce you, Duncan, I'd have gone all out to win you. Which I did."

"Well, Jim, I didn't know that. All I knew was that the man I loved, had loved for three years, suddenly disappears. I couldn't have helped but thought otherwise. You left me, I didn't leave you! And you know what? I was going to tell you the truth when you graduated. I wanted there to be no reason you couldn't move with me if you had to. As it was, you were too young and had too many close ties to Cascade. I know you had a fallout with your brother and your dad but you had a lot of close friends that would miss you and who you needed. I wasn't about to force anything on you. I wanted you the way you were. But I also can't stay in one place that long, not without someone finding out the truth. My life will always be a series of constant moves. Changing addresses as easy as changing cars. The only thing that I've been able to keep for my own, has been my name. And I'm fortunate I can do that. But that still doesn't stop others from challenging me or using the people I love and care about to get to me. I had reason to be cautious. Anyway, all I know is that after a while, the hatred turned to pain. It got better a couple of years later when I met Tessa, but that still didn't change the way I felt. I just had to deal with it. I promised myself I'd never come to Cascade ever again, because it hurt too much to face those memories. But you can see where that got me!"

"Why are you here in Cascade? If you never wanted to return, then I'm really surprised you're here at all."

"I got a phone call from Douglas Hampton."

"You mean an old enemy of yours?"

"Yes. He called me to challenge me. He told me that he'd killed Tallille and taken his stepson as hostage to force me to fight."

"Brian Rafe?"

"You know him?"

"Of course I know him. I know all the people in Cascade who either have connections to Watchers or Immortals. Besides that, he's a detective in Major Crimes, same as I am. He's a good friend as well. So that's why we couldn't find him to tell him about his father. We hunted for him and since he was on vacation, we just assumed he was out of touch. He wasn't due back until tomorrow."

"Damn, I'm sorry to tell you that. Hampton's using him to force my hand. I just hope he comes out of it alive."

"You don't know where he is?"

"No, he's been contacting me. I even called Joe to find out if he knew anything. His Watchers lost track of him about a month ago. They weren't able to pick up his trail."

"I hope he comes out of this okay?"

"Me too!"

There was more silence. They didn't speak or make a sound for quite a few minutes. Duncan finally asked the one question he needed an answer for, "Why did you leave me, Jim, if it isn't the fact that I'm an Immortal?"

Jim hesitated answering. It told the listeners in the van who knew him well that what he said would probably be something terrifying. They knew Jim well enough to know that he kept everything that hurt him to himself. As Blair waited for the answer as well, he braced himself to find out the truth. He had a feeling that it may be the reason that Jim couldn't love him. If something happened to him while he was with Duncan, then he would have nothing to do with another male relationship. Sweat was pouring down his arms and his heart was racing a mile a minute.

It did surprise Blair that Jim didn't know he was there. Jim always knew if he was in the immediate area. Most likely it was because he was his Guide, but he wasn't for certain. It could be that they lived together and were best friends. He was sure that Jim knew his heartbeat by heart. It told him an awful lot that Jim wasn't using his senses to monitor his environment. He probably could barely keep himself under control, let alone his senses. Straining their ears to listen, after a long pause which seemed as if Jim was trying to form the words in a way that Duncan would understand, he said when he was ready, "I was raped."

"I was raped."

"WHAT!" Duncan was shocked. The absolute last thing he'd ever expected in Jim's explanation was that. Just by looking at Jim, rape was the last thing a person imagined when they thought about ways he could be hurt. "What do you MEAN?"

"You heard me, Duncan. It was hard enough saying it once, let alone say it again." Jim's voice was trembling. It was as if the experience was so fresh in his mind that it seemed as if it was happening again. Jim finally fell down in the chair, head down as if he was ashamed to have had to tell him that. Duncan had known many women who'd been raped and he knew it took a brave one to be able to go on with their life. He couldn't blame Jim now for disappearing. A relationship with a man was probably the last thing he could have handled.

Needing to know, Duncan demanded, "Who did it? TELL ME HIS NAME?"

"It was an immortal."

Duncan was silent. If rape had been the last thing he'd immagined, evidently he was wrong. He couldn't conceive of this situation. The shock of it had him halted in his tracks. He'd always known that he could jeopardize any relationship he had by the fact the he was immortal, but he would have expected an immortal to kill a man he was in love with, not rape them. Although, as his mind seethed with the implications, he could see where there would be nothing worse to get him to lose control and challenge someone. He was so furious by now that he could barely grit out of his teeth, "An immortal?"

"Yes, Duncan, an immortal. And one you knew well. One who was probably one of the greatest enemies you've ever had."

"Dammit, Jim, WHO?"


Anger such as he'd never felt before burst through his mind and body. If Kalas had been there in front of him, he'd have killed him a thousand times, tortured him a thousand years for what he did. Duncan had already experience so much hurt, so much loss because of Kalas, that this was just one more thing to make him hate himself for being what he was. AN IMMORTAL! "WHAT?! You mean that sonofabitch raped you?"

"Kalas did it to try to get to you. He knew we were close, although he didn't know we were lovers. He wanted you to be angry enough to challenge him. If I'd have said anything, you'd have gone off half-cocked, barely able to contain yourself. You'd have lost in a heartbeat. I knew that you would not be able to win when pride and hatred overcomes your emotions."

"You don't know that!"

"Yes I do. Duncan, Kalas was your equal or better in nearly everything. I know you killed him, but I also know you barely survived it. It was more a matter of who's better at the time than who's better all the time. You would have gone off, having lost your temper and soon after, your head. I also knew that if I came back, having been raped, I would have told you everything. Duncan, I may have been young and hurt in the one way that nearly destroyed me, but there was no way on earth that I would let myself be the reason for your death. I could leave you much easier than I could send you off to get yourself killed. I knew that sooner or later you'd take his head. But, that was the worst circumstance to challenge him with. He wanted you to challenge him. He did it, so you'd be vulnerable. Then, he could have easily taken your head. I loved you, Duncan. I could face your immortality, I could face the fact that long after I was dead, you'd still be living, I could accept knowing that you'd get over me and love someone else. You're one of the most generous, loving people this world has ever known so I knew that you would be able to love again. But, I wasn't going to be the cause of your precious life being destroyed. Women are raped all the time, and they have to deal with it, often knowing that justice would never be served. You think I could do any less?" A pause, and "You think that I could love you any less?"

"OH, God! I'm sorry. You're right. My habit to run into situations where I'm not prepared to handle is often. And yes, after my experiences lately, I have to agree that I'd have lost my head in no time. Jim, how did you handle it?"

"I didn't. I ran from it. I stayed with a friend until I was healed enough. I didn't know that Stephen knew about us. Unfortunately, Stephen was more of a Watcher at his age than I was at mine. We'd had a split with dad and was barely talking but that didn't stop him from realizing what was wrong. He'd been following Kalas. He was there when he raped me."

"And he didn't try to stop him?"

"What could he do? He was just a kid. He was the one who arranged it so I could escape from him later. I didn't know that until recently, when he and I made up. And he never told dad. He kept silent, not even telling the Watchers."

Regret and hatred filled Duncan's mind. All he could imagine was Jim needed him and here he was thinking that Jim had tired of him. He should have known better. Hadn't he just learned his lessons about judging people, to look below the surface? "I...I guess I misjudged things."

"NO!! Duncan, haven't you been listening to me? I never blamed you for any of it. I loved you with all of my heart and I wanted to spend my life with you. I could never change that. You came to only obvious solution that the appearance of my disappearing gave you. Do you think that if I'd ever came to you later that you wouldn't have believed me? As hurt as you were, you loved me, and you'd give me the benefit of the doubt without question. Like you're doing now. That's the kind of man you are, Duncan."

The living play unfolded before the listeners. It had them riveted. As they heard Jim and Duncan talking, they were in shock and confusion about the whole situation. Part of the problem was that they didn't understand many of the things that they were referring too. Blair had learned some of it before hand off of Jim's computer but this referring to immortals had him stuck. It also didn't help that he, Simon and Brown were still reeling from learning about Jim being raped. Blair was hardly able to contain himself. He knew why Jim had never been able to love him. The explanation didn't help. He admired Jim for being able to handle a catastrophe like that, but he couldn't help but be hurt when all his dreams and hopes, everything that got him through the day, was being destroyed. Worst of all..he didn't know how to help Jim. Some Guide he was.

He knew about the Watchers from reading the computer files, but he didn't know what kind of organization it was. And what were these immortals. Was Duncan one? Did he even have a chance to win Jim's love? Would he have to live his whole life looking at other people's happiness and never finding it himself? All these questions and more ran through his mind as he listened to them.

By that time Duncan needed to hold Jim. It wasn't just because it was obvious that Jim needed to be held himself, but that he needed to feel Jim in his arms, to be able to touch him, comfort him.

"Come here!"

Jim looked up from the floor which he was staring at to gaze into Duncan's eyes. He saw what was in his eyes and the next thing Duncan knew, he had a handful of large, very masculine man in his arms. Hugging for a few moments, they sat still, absorbing the comfort they found in each other's arms. Finally, Jim pulled away from him and again looked into his eyes.

A few moments later, Jim slowly bent his head to him. Capturing his lips, Jim kissed with all the pain, hurt and all the love that he was feeling. Slowly, Duncan opened his mouth, letting Jim lead. After the violence that had been done on him, he knew that Jim would need to feel control. He was aware of that much. Gradually, the kiss became harder, more passionate. In a matter of seconds, the kiss went from a tentative foray of exploration to passionate union of souls and the past.

Duncan needing to feel Jim, tugged his shirt out of his jeans. With the kiss occupying his mind, he couldn't get the buttons unopened. Finally, aggravated with the whole thing, he grabbed the shirt and ripped it open with one tear. Jim already had his shirt unbuttoned and falling off his arms. Jim's hands were exploring him, teasing the nipples that were so hard one touch had him arching in ecstasy.

Groaning with need, he reached down and felt the hardness of Jim's masculinity. Pulling open his jeans, he took hold of the rigid staff that it had been so long since he'd had. Breaking the kiss, his lips traveled down Jim's chest, taking the time to suckle each nipple. Jim groaned with need. Head back, he was a sight to behold. Hard body, gorgeous muscles delineated on his arms and chest, smooth, hairless skin, nipples firm little nubs, pubic hair outlining the stiff, slender long manhood saluting him. That was all it took.

Getting up off of the couch, he stood up and pulled Jim with him. Kissing again, they moved step by step, discarding each other's clothes, trying to touch every part of the other's body, to the bedroom. Memories of the past didn't stop them as they fell in bed. Duncan landed on Jim's virile body. Pushing up with his hands he gazed that the sultry sight under him. Jim looked at him with this sexy smile in his eyes and mouth that he'd perfected in the three years he'd known him. That was all it took.

Moving, they explored each other, relearning their bodies, feeling their way around a minefield of emotions that held them in a timeless bubble. As things moved ahead, Jim finally broke out, as Duncan was licking and suckling his balls, "God, Duncan, please! Suck me!"

His silent answer was to engulf Jim's cock in his mouth. It had been so long. Moving up and down, in a rhythmic motion, he timed his movements to Jim's. Whenever Jim thrust up, he pulled back. Whenever he retreated, he took all of it. This back and forth dance of desire had them caught of in the heaven of sexual climax. Finally, Jim could no longer hold back, and with a cry of "Duncan!" climaxed with explosive come. Swallowing the body of the man he'd loved so long ago, he tasted the man who'd he'd obsessed about for so many years. There was nothing like the taste of Jim's semen. That was even the one thing he'd never shared with Fitz. He could never do that with him. For some reason, he'd always felt as if it would have taken away his masculinity. He never had a problem with Jim. Giving Jim a blow job had come so naturally over their relationship that it had amazed him at how his development of their sexual experience flowed like a smooth river, with no turbulence.

After the climax, Jim gave him that goofy smile that he was well familiar with, and pulled him up for another kiss. Pulling back, Jim asked softly, "Jim, will you enter me? I need to feel you inside me. It's been so long. I can't bare that Kalas was the last person who entered me. Please! I need you!"

In shock, Duncan was astonished at the courage it took for Jim to admit that he wanted him inside of him. Gathering himself together, he nodded and gently turned him over. Reaching into the dresser, he assumed that the oil that they'd both been fond of was still there having moved in a hurry and knowing that they'd kept plenty well sealed. Sure enough, he found it, and had it opened and in his hand before they could say anything further. Coating his hands, he moved to Jim and sliding his hand down his crack, slowly slid one finger inside. Stiffening, Jim took a moment to suppress his emotions from the past violence done to him. Exquisitely moving the finger in and out, Duncan massaged the internal walls of his anus. Stretching him gradually, it wasn't long before Jim had forgotten the pain of his rape in his desire to have more inside him. Inserting two, he scissored his fingers, making sure that Jim wanted it before he entered a third. Starting to feel uncomfortable with the fullness inside him, Jim paused a minute to let himself get used to the feeling, so there would be no pain. Finally, Jim started to violently push back against his finger, telling Duncan that he was more than ready.

Covering himself with more of the oil, Duncan positioned himself behind Jim and slowly started to enter him. Taking it one step at a time, he pushed inside. He was finally inside! He stayed there without moving until Jim was used to feel of him. When it was no longer an uncomfortable feeling, Duncan started moving in the timeless act of making love. In a quick movement, Jim slammed back. Shocked, until he realized what Jim was conveying with his body, he was frozen. Then, he started thrusting, moving in time to Jim's pushing against him. Slowly at first, then faster, they became absorbed in the feeling of passion between them. At last, Duncan was ramming Jim with the strength of his body, and Jim answered with every thrust against him. Neither had the control they should have with their age. They needed each other too desperately. In a matter of moments, they both exploded, almost in time together. Letting the after shocks hit them, they collapsed on the bed. Pulling out, Duncan took Jim in his arms and didn't let go.

Firmly within his arms, Duncan waited for the peace of after sex to settle in. Neither could speak a word until they were completely at ease. Duncan couldn't believe the emotions running through his mind. He'd always loved Jim, but somehow, this was a goodbye. He didn't know how he knew, but he did. This was a fraction of time that had been given to them for healing. After the pain and suffering they'd both been through, they needed it.

Blair and the others listened to the sound of Jim demanding Duncan inside him, his cries as he was evidently entered and their climax. That was just the beginning. During the rest of the night, they made love more than once. Maybe because their separation had been so long, the feelings between the two were evident even to those who listened. For Blair, it was a time of hell. He couldn't move, he couldn't breath, all he could do was listen to Jim make love to another man instead of him. The only thing he wanted, the only thing he needed was Jim. God, it felt like he was losing his life. Never had Blair felt hatred, envy and this severe depression of unrequited love. Even his relationship with Mara hadn't been this bad. But that was because Mara hadn't been his true love, his soulmate. Jim was.

Inside, his soul started to crumble, unraveling in threads of nothing but the basic material he was made of. The only thing that could have put him back together was Jim's love and from the way things appeared, it didn't look like he'd ever have that. He wanted to scream. He wanted to shout. He wanted to do all those things people did when they threw a tantrum. He was lost inside himself and he needed his Sentinel. It was as simple as that.

As the night continued on, Jim and Duncan made love again and again. Simon, Brown, and Blair could barely believe it when they counted four times. That had to be a lot of passion suppressed. They heard everything from them sucking each other's cocks, to rimming, which included final penetration of both from the sound of it.

It continued until early morning. Blair was holding on by a slim thread. One pull and he was about to lose it. Hearing Jim doing with Duncan what he wanted to do with him was fueling his jealousy. As much as he loved Jim, at that moment, he hated Duncan with everything inside him. He was almost to the point of storming up to the house, demanding that Jim return to him. That Jim was his and not Duncan's.

But he didn't do any of that. He couldn't. After Jim's past experience, he would have been some Guide to destroy Jim like that. Instead, he destroyed himself, as he listened to the sounds of the betrayal of his heart. Brown and Simon, knowing how Blair felt, could only comfort him, by silently giving him occasional hugs, telling him that Jim wasn't going to give up everything for this man. But Blair didn't know that. He couldn't be sure of anything or trust anything at that time. When the sounds of passion tapered off, they once more heard coherent conversation.

Passion everywhere within his husky speech, Jim, buried in Duncan's arms, asked, "What was Tessa like?"

"She was beautiful. In four hundred years I've truly been in love only three times. I had her in my life for nearly twelve years, and during that time, I felt nothing but joy. Pain took a back burner to her. She was an artist filled with life that came out in her sculptures. I never could understand how a woman as beautiful as her got familiar enough to learn to weld enough so that she could create her metal vision. The only thing that I sincerely regretted about my life with her, was the fact that I couldn't have given her children. She'd have made a wonderful parent."

"So would you, Duncan. I always hated the fact that you couldn't help missing out on the things that make the life we live a little bit better. You would have been great with kids. That was something that I had to accept when I committed to you in my heart. The fact that there would never be children. I knew there wouldn't have been even adopted children. You wouldn't have let yourself or any children be placed in the position of being used against you. That's a reality you face everyday. But, I do have to admit that for a time, I hated her. I hated her even though I never knew her, for having you when I couldn't."

"Jim, I'm real sorry about that."

"You don't have to apologize. There's nothing to apologize for. Life went on, and frankly, I know I came out stronger than before. I'm sure that you did too."

"I have to agree with that, but that doesn't change all the years we missed, that we could have been together."

"Duncan, I don't know how to tell you this without sounding callous, but I honestly don't think that we were meant to be."

"What do you mean? Surely, you can't mean God would be that cruel to us?"

"No. What I mean, was that both of us needed to learn how to love. Duncan, today, there's no way I could be a part of your life. There are things that I need that you can't provide."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Duncan, I've never been attracted to males. It still surprises me to this day that I wanted you that bad. I'm not gay, and I barely fit the term bisexual since there have been only two males in my life that I've ever wanted. I've often wondered if I needed you to show me that love between two males could happen. I never imagined that two men could love at all, let alone that it could happen to me. It's just possible, it was the same way with you."

Duncan didn't speak for some time, working it out what Jim said in his head. Finally, Duncan spoke with surprising knowledge, surprising Jim.

"You may be right. I know that I've always been afraid of love. I'm scared of being vulnerable. I'm scared of losing someone I care for that much. I get so tired of losing that it's hard to take a chance. I don't know right this moment, though. I just know that I've only experienced three other times where the hurt was as bad as that." Then, it occurred to him what Jim had said previously, "You said two males?"

"Yea, I was wondering if you'd pick that up."

"So, you have been attracted to another? I take it you haven't done anything about it?"

"No. And Duncan, I still am."

"You mean you want someone now, in the present?" When Jim couldn't speak for a minute, and started blushing furiously, Duncan had to smile. "Don't tell me! You're in love with a man, aren't you?"

Neither knew it but what he said next would change Jim's life forever. Jim had a hard time getting it out, but at last, he quietly affirmed, "Yes."

The minute Blair heard that, it was all he could do not jump up and down. He hoped....he hoped that Jim was talking about what he thought he was talking about. It would kill him, if it wasn't so. After needing Jim for so long, if Jim was in love with someone else, he wouldn't survive. He didn't have the necessary ability to live without his other half. And also, just what did Duncan mean when he said four hundred years. His intelligent mind made the obvious associated from the references to immortals and four hundred years. His brain was telling him that it wasn't possible and yet it was also telling him that there was no denying it. He listened for more, to find out the course of his future and to find out the truth. From his point of view, they evidently were the same thing.

Duncan demanded that Jim, "Tell me."

Lying on Duncan's chest, Jim rubbed his hand up and down his body, trying to get out of admitting the truth. He was as bad as Duncan was. Telling someone what you feel, the emotions that are within you, didn't come easy. Seeing himself in Jim, Duncan didn't force or pressure him anymore. "Duncan, there are things you don't know about me. Things I could never tell anyone. I really didn't know what was going on then, when I first met you, but I do now. You're not the only one who's a living myth."

Duncan couldn't help but be confused, "I don't understand."

"Have you ever heard of Sentinels?"

Blair, listening, held his breath, waiting for the answer. It astonished him and yet it didn't that Jim would confide the truth in this man. If what he suspected was true than it was only natural that Jim could trust Duncan with his secret. If anyone would understand, it would be Duncan. To his surprise, Duncan asked, "Are you referring to the tribal warrior scouts, as stated and described in Burton's works?"

Now it was Jim's turn to be surprised. After his experience with his senses and his Guide, he didn't think anyone would have heard of Burton. "You know about them?"

"I know that Sentinels are blessed or cursed, depending on whether or not they are joined, with hyperactive senses. I knew Burton. I was there when he lectured on his work. We weren't friends by any means, but I did hear him speak on a topic that both fascinated and disgusted him."

"Huh? Disgusted him? Now, I'm the one who doesn't understand."

"Burton had this hatred of same sex relationships. To survive, Sentinels had to form a partnership with another person. The ones he saw were always of the same sex, but there could have been others who weren't. Anyway, the companions, if I remember right, were called Guides. Essentially, they were shamans who had the ability to not only seek guidance from the spirit world but had what Burton called the Voice."

"The Voice?"

"At least that's what he called it. It's the ability to compel a person with the sound of their voice. Normally, these Guides would only use it to control the Sentinel's zone-out factor, which is when one or more senses are so over focused that he or she loses track of their environment. When that happened, they were completely vulnerable to attack. The Guide would protect the Sentinel at that time, while at all other times, it is the Sentinel who protects the Guide. The logic of it goes, that the Sentinel protects the tribe, while the Guide protects the Sentinel, cushioning him and providing his Sentinel with a tie to the physical world when he's lost in his senses. The Sentinel does the same thing, by providing a tie to the physical when the Guide must visit the spirits. As for the Voice, a shaman with that gift is born with it. When they're fully trained, a Guide or a shaman with the gift who's unpartnered is able to compel a person with their voice alone. It can be used for evil as well as good."

"Duncan, what do you mean by that? Are you saying a Guide is evil?"

"No, that's not what I mean at all. Jim, all I'm saying is that the Voice can be used for evil as well as good, by taking away the free will of others, forcing them to do things they would normally not do. But as far as Guides go, because they're partnered, the Sentinel's desire to protect no matter what the cost to them causes the Guide, who's bonded and wouldn't leave even if they could a reason for doing good. Because they have to balance each other out usually, a Sentinel/Guide pair works to protect and not destroy. It's only when either the Sentinel or a potential Guide is alone and unbonded that evil is possible."

When they heard that, Simon and Blair couldn't believe the concise and precise answer Duncan Macleod gave. Both of them were familiar with Sentinel and Guides to know that everything Duncan said was probably true. Blair had already come to those conclusions anyway. Brown, who knew nothing of Jim's gifts but what he'd just learned that day, didn't know what was going on. When Brown asked Blair, "Do you know....?" Blair quickly reached over and put a hand to his mouth. "Shut up, Brown, I've got to listen to this." With Simon's "Blair's right. Stay quiet and I'm sure you'll get an explanation later when it's convenient." Brown hushed up.

"Actually, Jim, I knew an immortal who was gifted with the Voice. A woman. She's a shaman who can compel mortals and immortals with her Voice alone. She nearly always escapes challenges. But since she's still a woman and because the Voice doesn't always work, she doesn't put herself in challenges unless she has to."

"Wait a moment! Are you talking about Cassandra? Your first time?"

Chuckling, Duncan had to laugh at that. "Yes, that's her. Right now, we're not on speaking terms. We had an unavoidable difference of opinion. I stopped her from killing someone she hated and had every reason in the world to hate. She hasn't forgiven me for stopping her or forgiven the person she hated."

"I'd heard about her. She's somewhat fanatical besides being extremely old, isn't she?"

"That's a good way to put it."

Duncan suddenly spoke, concern layered the sound of his words, "Wait a moment, you're not trying to tell me you're a Sentinel, are you?"

Again, the silence spoke for words. The obvious yes was apparent.

"You are one! I should have realized a long time ago. You always did hear and see exceptionally well."

"I've always been one. By the time I'd met you, I was suppressing them, though. Then, they awakened a few years ago, I was the only survivor of a military operation in Peru. When I got back, I suppressed them again. But three years ago, they awakened during another case I was investigating and they haven't gone away yet."

"So, you've got heightened senses? How many? Is it all five?"

"It's all of them."

"Hold on, I just realized. How have you been able to function?" There was a long pause, as if Duncan was thinking, when he whispered, "You've got a guide." He said it as a hushed statement of fact.

Jim nodded. Duncan tried to assimilate that fact. It explained a lot of things, especially the feeling that this was going to be their last time. It wasn't just because of losing Methos. It was because of this. He finally said, "Then that explains what you meant by our experience being necessary to learn how to love in a same sex relationship. Are you lovers?"

"No, we aren't. I've been in love with him for three years now, but I've never been sure how he'd react if I made a move on him. I never want to lose him, and I've been afraid that it would destroy our friendship. I need him to survive. I've known it from the minute we met, but I won't do anything that would destroy it."

As Blair listened to Jim say he loved him, he became ecstatic. All this time, worrying he'd done something wrong to deserve a love that had no chance for reciprocation and it was right before his eyes if he'd just looked. All those clues that Jim threw his way, all the looks, all the touches suddenly had meaning. He recognized the fact that Jim loved him and had for a good long time. He'd always been afraid he was just seeing what he wanted to see because he was scared that Jim would kick him out of his life. It made him furious about all the time they'd denied their feelings. They could have been together long before now and not suffered through the hell that suppressing their feelings did to them.

Duncan continued to speak "Damn! No wonder you're frightened. But I wouldn't worry, Jim. If he's your Guide, than he's probably feeling the same way. You just need to ask him. If nothing else, he needs to know the truth. What if he can't provide everything you need?"

"I know! I know! It's just... I've never been the most successful person with relationships. And this is the one that I can't lose!"

"Again, all I can tell you is to explain it to him. I doubt that he's immune to you. Hell, if you go all out like you did with me, it won't take any time at all to seduce him."

"Seduce him! I can't do that!"

"Why not? It's not like you've never done it."

"I...uh...I was quite a bit younger then, Duncan."

"So, you have more experience now. You should be even better now."

"I guess, I've just never been so close to paradise and yet so far away."

"I know what you mean."

Jim must have heard the resignation and acceptance in those words as much as Blair, Brown and Simon did. Jim's next words were, "Who is it, Duncan?"

"What do you mean?"

"I know you too well. I can recognize the same symptoms in myself. Who are you in love with? Surely not Amanda!"

"God, No!! We'd kill each other before the week was out if that were so."

"Then who?"

Duncan pulled away from Jim to move throughout the room. Duncan started pacing the bedroom, trying to face his own truth and tell it to Jim. Jim deserved no less the full unvarnished truth. And for once, he didn't care that it wasn't his secret to tell. He needed to talk with someone, and Jim above all people, knew what having a deadly secret can do to you. He'd never reveal anything. From what he knew of Jim's personality, Jim would sooner go to the grave than tell someone his secrets. A few minutes later, Duncan said, "Jim, if I tell you this, you've got to promise me that you'll never reveal it to another soul."

"Duncan, you know full well I can keep secrets. Besides the fact that I still love you, even though it's not what I feel for my Guide, you know about me too. All it would take is to tell it to the newspapers and the Government would have me in their laboratories in a heartbeat. I'll tell you something else. I never was entirely factual with your chronicles. When we were together, I never reported our relationship to headquarters."

"So that's why..Joe was telling me that he didn't know what had happened here. I thought that was unusual, but I thought he just didn't realize how much you'd meant to me."

"Now that you know I'm trustworthy, who is it, Duncan?"

Duncan was speechless for moments until, "Five years ago I met someone. Someone who changed the fabric of who I am. All my life I've always known I was Duncan Macleod of the Clan Macleod and always saw the world in black and white. I mean, if you were evil, you were evil. If you were good, then you were good. I never saw the varying shades of gray. It's a wonder I was never killed. A habit of mine is to leap before I look. But I never saw what I was doing until I met this very special person. A very special immortal."


"As a Watcher, who is the most legendary of all of us?"

"Besides you and your cousin?"

"I'm not talking about us!"

"Then I'd have to say Methos." No words were spoken until, "OH MY GOD!! You can't be serious. Are you telling me he's real?"

"As real as you and I."

"Holy...Duncan, how old?"

"He doesn't know. He was born before records were written down, but he does know he's over five thousand."

Unspoken thoughts were racing through Blair, Simon, and Brown. It was finally occurring to them, what Duncan and Jim had been talking about all this time. Blair had suspected and pieced it all together, but hearing the truth spoken out loud as a statement of fact blew his mind away. It was all he could do not to assimilate what having people who didn't age and couldn't be killed unless...(by beheading?) would do to the history of the world. He could see where an organization would come about to monitor these people. His anthropological mind grasped all the facts and started examining them at a hyperactive rate. He could tell though, that Simon and Brown were having trouble believing it. Blair had already faced much that couldn't be explained in his life, so it was no trouble for him to believe. But they thought Duncan was insane. He could tell it by the shocked look of disbelief on their faces. They hadn't recognized the truth when Duncan referred to his four hundred years, or when he and Jim talked about immortals, aliens, and some secret organization called the Watchers. But it was obvious to him now that Duncan must be four centuries old and evidently, from what he'd just said, in love with another very old immortal named Methos. That still didn't mean Blair wasn't stunned.

He'd known about many lost legends referring to an ancient race that never died. If he remembered his legends right, then the only way that these creatures could be killed was by beheading. Quickly, all the associations needed to correlate the facts came together. He realized that those legends must not be legends at all. Simon and Brown were having trouble. They just couldn't believe what was being said. But, neither had ever faced the truly impossible before. He didn't doubt that they would come to believe but it would take some time for them to recognize the truth.

"I can barely believe it!"

"Imagine how I felt when I met him! I almost didn't believe him. If it wasn't for the agelessness of his eyes when he relaxes than I wouldn't have. He looks about my age, but the man has no trouble whatsoever blending in to his environment. He looks younger than I do half the time."

"How did you meet him?"

"I met him because of Kalas."

"Shit! Was he a friend of his?"

"No. Kalas found out about the Watchers. He started killing them. Then, he found out about a Watcher named Adam Pierson who was in charge of the Methos chronicles and was going there to drag all the information out of him."

"Adam Pierson! I've met him. The man's a sarcastic bastard but he does know his job. We met about five, six years ago when I was at a convention. Recognized the tattoo and started a conversation. He's extremely intelligent."

"Too intelligent for his own good most of the time." Duncan's voice was filled with disgusting resignation. Something about it, Jim must have recognized because he asked, "Are you telling me he's Methos?"

Laughing, Duncan couldn't help his humor as he heard the same thing in Jim's voice that he'd heard in his own and Joe's when they found out. "Yeh, what better hiding place than as a Watcher researching his own chronicles. No better way to hide yourself if you're an immortal, especially if you want to doctor up your own chronicles."

"My God! It's hard to believe. What did you do to get the truth, drag it out of him?"

"If you knew Methos, than you just how ridiculous that statement is. No, Joe sent me to protect Adam Pierson from Kalas. When I walked in, I felt a presence stronger than anything I've felt in my life. It didn't take much to associate Adam Pierson with his research subject Methos. It made sense when I thought about it."

"I can see that, but what did he do, challenge you?"

"No, he said "mi casa es su casa" my home is your home and asked if I wanted a beer. Shock wasn't the word for what I was feeling. Of course, I had to ask all the foolish questions one asks when they meet the oldest living being on earth. Most especially how old he was, and did he know the reason for the Game."

"I'd have asked the same things, Duncan."

"I think anyone with half a mind would have, but, anyway, we separated. When I went back to my barge, Methos was challenged by Kalas. He was losing. He hadn't practiced in a long time, so he killed himself by throwing himself into the water. He floated downstream until he came near my barge. When he got there, the first thing he did was challenge him. It didn't take long to realize that he was deliberately trying to lose. When I confronted him on it, he told me flat out that he wanted me to take his head. He told me that he didn't have the passion to fight anymore. But with his quickening and my life, we could defeat Kalas. It was at that point something really and truly changed between us. How often do you expect the oldest living man to just give up like that and offer his head? Any other immortal would have taken it in a heartbeat, but I couldn't. If he'd have died than the world would a lose a very great man."

"Is he wise or something?"

Chuckling, Duncan replied, "No, not really. He is wise in experience. He knows more about human nature than anyone I know, but as for true wisdom? He has it, but he's had to learn it the hard way, over time. He told me once that wisdom has to be experienced then learned because it can't be taught except by time itself. That's true. But for all that, he isn't perfect. He's made more mistakes than you could even imagine and still does. His past is filled with things no one in their right mind wants to know."

"I don't understand."

"Nothing to understand. It's just that when I told you I had to learn the varying shades of gray, it was mainly because of him. I nearly lost his friendship over something that happened in his past, over three thousand years ago. At one point of time, Methos was one of the most evil persons in the world and I had trouble dealing with it when I found out."


"Have you read Revelations in the bible?"

"Some. I did go to church but I don't remember most of what I learned there."

"Well, have you heard about the myth of the Horsemen of Apocalypse?"

"You mean, Death, War, Famine, and Pestilence? Those horsemen?"

"Yes, I mean those. They were real. They were four immortals who terrorized the lands for centuries. Methos was their leader, Death."


"I know, it's hard to imagine. But it's true. Anyway, his brothers were still alive and one of them, Kronos, wanted to form up the brotherhood again. Methos couldn't kill his brothers, even though they were evil, so he manipulated me into doing it. I killed Kronos and Caspian and he killed Silas. We killed Kronos and Silas at the same time. When that happened, a double quickening occurred. Jim, it was so weird. For a moment, we were sharing souls. I experienced everything he was. It was gone soon after though. The only thing is that now I'm able to tell if he's alive and well. I know when he takes a quickening. And I know that he feels the same thing. He made me face everything he'd done, how many people he'd killed, and then he made me face the fact that he didn't deserve to die, when Cassandra was going to kill him for enslaving and raping her three thousand years ago, I couldn't let her kill him. I couldn't have admitted at that time, but if she'd have taken his head, she wouldn't have lived beyond the second his quickening had settled. I'd have killed her. As for Methos? He's changed. He admits that if you can't change, be able to accept your mistakes, and get on with your life, than you won't survive as an immortal. And he's right."

Nothing was said for minutes, until Jim had assimilated everything Duncan had said. Then, Jim stated what had been obvious to him before, "You're in love with him."

"Yes, but I don't have a chance. My damn habit of judging people, including myself, destroyed whatever chance we had. And somehow, I know that if we'd been lovers, we'd still be together. I've always been loyal to those I love. The only damn thing is that I didn't know I loved him. Unfortunately, I pushed him away when I really did need him, not recognizing my love for him, and now, when I do know, I can't tell him that I love him, that he's the one person who is the other half of my soul."

"Duncan, you may be immortal, but you're human. Why don't you try to find him? Tell him the truth?"

"Jim, do you know how easy it is for a five thousand year old man to hide when he wants to? When he doesn't want to be found, then you won't find him. He's a master of making himself belong. I don't know how many times he crashed on my couch or bed. He helps himself to whatever he wants, most especially beer. There's no keeping that around him. It's like he has an bottomless stomach he pours it in. It just keeps coming. He throws the bottlecaps behind the fridge, he breaks into my apartment worse than Amanda does, he makes fun of me, he's one of the best friends I've ever had..." By that time, he was sobbing. Comforting words were crooned to him by Jim. Jim held him until his crying had stopped. Jim didn't make fun of him as he sobbed the story of his relationship with Methos to him.

Time passed and they settled down again. Jim then said, "Duncan, if you want to find him, you will. What I'd do is do the same thing you recommended to me. Seduce him. I doubt he's immune to you. All immortals at least try bisexuality after their first century. And with his age, I'd bet he's learned that love is where you find it. Make up and push him into a relationship. If he says he's too old for commitment, especially an immortal, than change his mind."

"You know, Jim, that makes me feel much better." It was said with humorous tones, but sarcastic in it's implication. A few seconds later, "I might just do that. Did I ever tell you how much I loved you?"

"Duncan, you always told me. I'm sorry our relationship was destroyed but we learned from it. I know that I definitely needed to learn the lessons it brought. But that doesn't mean I don't still love you!"

"I know, it's just not the same kind of soulmate love you have for your Guide?"

"Or you with the old man! Duncan, I'll make a pact with you. You trace Methos and do your very best to find him and I'll do everything I can to win my Guide. Fair enough?"

"Agreed. Though, you're definitely getting the better end of the deal. At least you have your love near you. Me, it'll take me a hundred years before I just might, and I mean might, find the blasted old man."

"Don't whine, Duncan, it doesn't become you. As for your end of the deal, you have eternity, as long as you keep your head, me, I only have this lifetime to do it. And besides, I have a feeling if Methos means that much to you, than you mean that much to him. I doubt he would be able to keep himself from knowing what's going on with you in your life. It probably won't take you very long to find him if you apply yourself."

"Okay, Okay, I just hope he's in a good mood. Of course, I can always drown him in beer. If that wouldn't put him close to heaven than nothing will. Oh, by the way, I'm sorry for what I did at the police station."

"It doesn't make my life any easier, that's for sure. Coming up with an explanation to tell my captain, is going to take some quick thinking. That also means coming up with what to tell Blair. I don't feel I have the right to tell him about immortality. That is a secret that only those who are involved should know. But I'll deal with it. I should be able to invent some explanation."

"Do you trust him?"

"With my life!"

"Then tell him the truth. Tell him everything. The last thing you need is to start a relationship off with lies. That's the easiest way to ruin it. I should know, as many women I've lied to."

"I'd have to get permission from the Watchers. I did give an oath. I don't like breaking it."

"You won't have any problem with that. Call Joe. The Watchers don't have the power to get rid of people now. Joe's broken every rule in the book with his continuing friendship with me. And yet, the Watchers cannot do anything, especially since I might be useful to them someday."

"There's something I need to know! What about Rafe? And the challenge with Hampton?"

"I don't have a choice. I just hope that when we fight he won't have him killed if I win."

"Why don't I go with you? While you're fighting, I can free him."

"Jim, you'll be killed."

"I think not, especially not with my gifts. Besides that, I'm a cop, first and foremost. It's my duty to protect. Does Rafe know about immortals?"

"Yes, Gavin made sure he told him. He'd probably make a good Watcher later on."

"I'll have to recommend it. I'm sure he doesn't know my connection to you."

A loud yawn sounded in the speakers, and Simon, Blair and Brown finally heard, "Jim, I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted, both physically and emotionally. Can we go to sleep?"

An answering yawn, gave him his answer and seconds later, there was no sound in the house.

Simon was the first to speak, "Well, guys, what do you think we should do?"

Brown answered, "I don't have any idea. I'm not even sure what I heard was real."

Blair spoke up assuredly, "Believe it. If there's one person who couldn't be fooled, it'd be Jim. Besides, they've known each other a long time. As for what we should do, it's up to you. We can either tell someone the truth in hopes of getting them to believe you and destroying Jim and Duncan's life or keep silent. Those are the only two options we have."

Simon finally said, "Well, it's a good thing we were the ones in this van. Whatever we decide we'd better be unanimous, because we're risking jail sentences here."

Blair stated, "I say we let it go. Make sure no one will find out the truth. It's the only way we can protect Jim. Besides they might think we're crazy if we go trying to convince the public of five thousand year old men and men who can act as a human crime lab."

Brown, confused at first with Blair's statement, had to agree when it dawned on his awareness, "Captain, Jim's our friend. He obviously trusts Macleod, and if we try to take Duncan in, than that means we'd have to take Jim in to. I say we let it go. It'll blow over sooner or later, especially if we hide the body that Duncan says he's going after."

Hearing that Brown was serious about burying a body, for a moment made Simon start to lecture, but as soon as he opened his mouth, he realized that nothing Brown said was any different than the way he felt. He owed Jim his life and for once, if it meant keeping from the public knowledge that wouldn't do them any good anyway to protect Jim and Blair, he'd do it. He could, at last make up the large debt he owed Jim and Blair for saving his life. But, seeing the smug look on Brown's face, as if he'd just thought of something hilarious, hesitantly Simon asked, afraid of the answer, "What do you have in mind?"

"Well, since Jim and Blair are obviously head over heals in love with each other, what better way to get them to stop talking about headless bodies than to provide an even more juicier thing to talk about. Hey Hairboy, how about you and Ellison smacking a big kiss on each other in front of the department?" He looked straight at Blair as he said it, hardly able to contain his hilarity.

"Brown!" Blair exclaimed with a deep, red blush on his face.

"He's right, Sandburg. Now's your chance to win Jim. I give him two seconds to get over his shock before he responds to you."

"I don't know about that, Captain, it'd probably take at least twice that before Jim could even breath."

"Want to bet?"


They were laughing at him. He was used to them teasing him from everything from the way he dressed, to following Jim around like they were joined to the hip, but he wasn't used to facing his emotions for Jim. He'd been through hell, and now it looked like he had a chance at heaven. He didn't like them teasing him about his love for Jim, but suddenly, he saw the humor in the whole thing and starting laughing. It also helped that he'd come up with a way to return the favor by publicly humiliating Simon and Brown. "Guys, you're probably right. The only thing I'd really love to see is what Jim has in mind when he tries to seduce me."

That set them off again. They started throwing flowers, massage oil, candy, thick clothing, ancient esoteric texts, serenading, anything and everything they could come up with that Jim might think of to seduce him. Then Simon dramatically said, "Blair you could always use those things to seduce him. After all, the last thing he'd be expecting is for you to tantalize and tease him unmercifully. I don't have the slightest doubt that you'd give him a heart attack before you're through."

Hilarity broke out again. They continued laughing in that irreverent mood, until the seriousness of the situation set in. Simon declared, "If we all agree to it, than that's what we'll do. The best thing for all of us is to see if we could maybe find a way to pin the murders on the this Hampton. After all, he's the one who killed them. It seems to me, Duncan was only protecting his life when he killed the one we found at the mill."

"Is there any way we can find out who Logan was associated with?"

"Probably, but it'll take some time."

"Than if we can get a recording of Hampton admitting to killing him than Duncan'll be home free? You do have the phones tapped, Simon?"

"Of course!"

"Then we'll record his voice. If we have to, we'll edit it so that he's saying what we want him to say."

"Smart thinking!"

"Simon, Brown, why don't you two take a nap. I'll listen in anything important. I can't sleep as hyper as I am. I can't believe all my dreams are coming true!"

"Good luck, Sandburg. You'll need it if you're going to spend the rest of your life with Jim."

As Simon and Brown fell asleep, Blair was contemplating all he'd heard that night. He'd always thought he'd never be able to have Jim. Now it looked as if every dream he'd ever had wanting a love that was his, was coming true. Looking out the window, he reflected, wondered what their life will be like twenty years from now. He knew Jim could easily be killed on the job. So could he for that matter, but that wouldn't stop him from taking a chance on love. It looked like the best thing he could do for now, was to imagine ways to drive his sentinel beyond control. He laughed at the idea of using a feather on someone who's touch was 1000 times more sensitive than his. Throughout the rest of the night, he planned the rest of his life, with Jim. He couldn't have been happier.

The next morning, Duncan woke up. A feeling of happiness he hadn't experienced in over a year was surrounding him. Feeling a hard body lying against him, he turned to look at the man he'd loved years ago. Reaching up, he lightly kissed Jim. In minute, Jim was devouring his mouth. They were starting to make love again, when the phone rang. Groaning, Jim tried to get him to ignore the phone. Duncan gave him a quick, hard, passionate kiss, said, "Hold that thought, Jim. I need to answer it. It might be Hampton."

Picking up the phone, he answered, "Macleod."

"It took you awhile to answer, didn't it. Company with you?" The amusement in his enemies voice drove him to the point of quick anger.

Jim noticed that Duncan's heartbeat and respiration increased, softly asked, "Is it Hampton?"

Nodding, Duncan answered the bastard on the phone with, "I'm tired of playing games, Hampton. Where do you want to meet?"

"I guess you've suffered enough. Meet me again at the old mill. Be there at five." Then he immediately hung up.

Duncan started cussing fluently in the languages he knew. He was tired of dealing with everything by himself. For once, he wished he had Methos' help. He really needed him now. Seeing that Duncan was lost in anger and recognizing the sense of hopelessness he had, Jim got up and walked over to the phone to hug him. "Duncan, you're not alone. You have me. I may not be immortal, but I am a Sentinel."

Looking into Jim's eyes, seeing his emotions returned in them, he kissed Jim with everything he felt. Sliding his hands up and down Jim's body, Duncan was enraptured by Jim's unconditional friendship and love. It may not be a soulmate's love, but it was the next best thing.

They were soon back in bed, touching each other, teasing each other using all the nooks and crannies that were sensitive to. They'd been lovers for nearly three years. Neither had forgotten how the other felt, what it took to arouse the other. It didn't take them long to build up to a point where Jim wanted Duncan inside him so bad, he was begging for it. The feel of his cock sliding in and out of his old lover caused Duncan to be insensible with passion. Thrusting hard and fast, he quickly brought them to climax. Jim's come erupted all their chests in between them. The feel of his come inside Jim, had Jim groaning with ecstasy.

After they'd settled down from their high, they talked and made love the rest of the day. They both knew that this was last time they'd be doing this, so they packed as much as they could in the time they had.

At five, Duncan walked into the building. Feeling the immortal presence, he called, "Hampton, show yourself!"

Not worrying, knowing that Jim would take care of thing, Duncan knew he could concentrate directly on the upcoming battle without having to split his attention. He had no doubt that Jim would find Rafe. His trust in his old lover was complete.

Circling around him, Hampton whistled, "Ho..ho, I see you're prepared. Not concerned at all about your little nephew, are you?"

"Hampton, I don't give a rat's ass about what you've done to him. He's either dead or alive. I'm just ready to take your head."

"I see you are ready. Well, let's do it!" With that the battle was on. Hampton pressed his advantage and at the beginning had the best moves. But since Duncan had relaxed and let Jim help him through his anger, he was more calm. Instead of the red-hot anger that filled him earlier, his emotions were engraved in cold, hard ice. Nothing Hampton said while they fought could penetrate that ice. Not long after, Duncan started to beat him. Within moments, Hampton had been forced to the ground with a cold, sword at his neck. Looking up, he demanded, "Finish it, Highlander!" In his eyes was resignation. And a glimmer of gratitude. Surprised, he almost let go, but remembering all the pain he'd suffered, the death of his friends, the senseless death of Hampton's student, the anger returned, and crying, "There can be only one!" chopped his head off.

As the quickening hit, he saw Jim. To his surprise, he was accompanied by Captain Banks, Detective Brown, and the short man who'd been accompanying Jim as he'd come into the precinct. Held up between them, a golden, brown man stood there. Supported by his friends, Duncan recognized his nephew. All of this occurred in a fraction amount of time. Then he saw no more, except at the last, when Jim and Rafe were holding each other up.

The quickening was powerful. Feeling the pleasure and pain of millions of volts of living energy spreading throughout his body, he had his sword held up, as it was all directed into him. When it was all over, tears pouring down his face, he was pulled into Jim's hug. Needing the strong arms around him, he accepted it for a few minutes. Then, pulling back, he looked at the others.

There was no surprise in Rafe's eyes. He may have never seen a quickening, but he knew about them. The Captain and the Detective Brown had pure astonishment in their eyes, as if they'd really seen angels. Perhaps they'd had in a way.

But the last man was the one that captured his gaze. Shoulder length hair framed a gorgeous, heart shaped face. Short, compact body, he was stocky and carried an obvious athletic build. But then he looked into his eyes. What he saw there wasn't astonishment. Instead, there was pain, absolute joy, need, and a definite desire that was hungry for knowledge. Knowing instinctively that this was Jim's Guide, Blair, he turned back to Jim.

Looking at him, he silently told him, I'm giving you up. You don't belong to me anymore, you belong to him. Then he turned around and wordlessly gave Blair the same message except that there was the knowledge that if Blair didn't take very good care of his friend and old lover, it would be the last thing he regretted.

Pulling away from them all, he walked away. He needed to be by himself. He had plans to make. Knowing that these men shared his and Jim's secrets, he had no fears that he would be hurt by them. The last thing he reminded himself was to call Joe. It looked like he was going to get five Watchers for the price of one. He smiled as he left.

The end!

Guys, I have two planned sequels to this. One will be a PWP on Jim and Blair's seduction of each other. The second will be Duncan finding Methos and what it takes him to win him. I'm leaving it here because I can't write anymore for awhile. This is a good stopping point.