The second story in the Immortal Series.

Rating: R for violence and sexual situations

Immortal Champion

By CarolROI

Part 1

Inspector Megan Connor swallowed the last of her wine, and glanced at her watch again. It was nearly midnight, and her informant hadn't shown. With a sigh, she extracted a couple bills from her wallet, and tossed them on the table. What a waste of time this had been. An hour-long drive to Seacouver because her snitch was afraid to meet in Cascade and another three spent waiting for him to show up. At least the jazz had been good, as well as the ribs. She seemed to remember Sandy mentioning he'd been here a couple times. She applauded politely as the guitar player left the stage, followed by the vocalist. The singer had talent, as well as looks. Tall, dark and gorgeous, just the way Megan liked them. What they were doing in a dump like this, she couldn't begin to guess. With a shake of her head, she rose from her table in the far corner of the club, and headed for the exit.

Outside in the darkened parking lot, she searched for her keys. She could hear them jingling in her purse, but couldn't quite put her fingers on them. She shook her bag again, and peered inside, her attention distracted enough that she didn't hear the footsteps behind her, or the metal pipe whistling through the air until it was too late. Pain exploded inside her head, and the world went dark.

Dee leaned over the bar and gave the bartender a kiss. "Thanks for letting me sit in with you guys tonight. I really needed the lift." The tall woman slid her trenchcoat on, and flipped her chocolate locks over the collar.

"You're welcome to join us any time, you know that, Dee," Joe Dawson told her. "I expect to see a lot more of you, now that you're living back at MacLeod's." His heart ached for the Immortal, knowing she was still hurting over the move two months later, even though she had explained to him that it had been the right thing to do. He vowed the next time he spoke to Blair Sandburg, he was going to give him a piece of his mind. Better yet, he would invite him up some night when Diandra was singing the blues, let Sandburg hear for himself what her love for him was putting her through. "It just isn't right, Dee. You were so happy, and that boy breaks your heart."

"Joe, I told you before, it was my decision to leave. It just wasn't going to work out between us; he has other obligations, and so do I." Not that she'd done much with her heightened senses since she'd left Cascade, nor had she gone looking for a companion. Even her former companion, Lydia, hadn't been much help, offering her no more advice other than "When the time is right, you will find each other." At least she could visit Lydia in the spirit world, though she had been trying to cut back on the time she spent there. She'd felt herself starting to walk that thin line between wanting to return to reality, and wanting to stay in the spirit world forever. She wondered what would happen if she did decide not to come back; would her body stay in that suspended state forever? Probably would, until some Immortal came along and took her head. Which, she noted, was beginning to sound awfully attractive.

"Dee, DEE!" Joe's raised voice brought her out of her morbid thoughts. "Dee, go home, talk to Mac. See if he can help you. He told me he was going to Paris next week. Maybe you should think about going with him. A change of scenery might do you good."

She looked into the worried eyes of the Watcher, realizing just how low she'd sunk. "Goddess," she said under her breath. She hadn't realized Blair's absence from her life was affecting her so much. If she didn't watch out, she would end up in the same state she'd been in after Lydia had died: insane. "I'm fine, Joe, I'm fine," she lied. "I'm just tired. I'm going to go home and go to bed." She squeezed his hand, then left the bar.

SLAP! The combination of the noise and the renewed pounding in her head brought Megan back to semi-consciousness. "Ah... the lady cop, she is awake," said a heavily accented male voice. "You better be awake, chica, because you're going to take a message back to your friends."

She tried to struggle, but found herself held firmly, her wrists pinned behind her back, and one foul-smelling hand clamped firmly over her mouth. She forced her eyelids further open, and was rewarded with the sight of a 6-inch knife blade being waved in front of her face. Fear supplied her with a surge of adrenaline, and she kicked out, catching the man in front of her in the shin. He grunted, then growled, "So you want to play rough? We can play rough." He punched her hard in the stomach, and she doubled over, trying not to vomit.

A hand in her hair yanked her back up, and the knife appeared again. "Here's the message you tell your friends in Cascade," the man said, and the knife slashed across her chest, the point cutting through the thin fabric of her blouse, and deep into her skin. She screamed, her cry muffled behind the hand over her mouth. A second stroke of the knife was perpendicular to the first, running from the hollow of her throat down between her breasts. She could feel her blood running in hot rivulets over her skin. "Got the message, cop?"

Megan sagged in her captor's arms, her chest on fire, her head throbbing. It was all she could do to stay halfway upright. She felt her attacker's hands on her thighs, pushing up her skirt. She closed her eyes, trying to will herself into unconsciousness, knowing exactly what they were going to do to her. The man holding her said, "We delivered the message; now do we get to have some fun?"

"Not tonight," came an ice-cold voice from behind the thug with the knife. He made the mistake of turning toward the new comer. A booted foot smashed into his face, and he dropped to his knees, clutching his nose. "Let her go," the voice said to the man still holding Megan. She felt his grip loosen, and she slid to the ground, her knees striking the concrete hard. She pitched forward as darkness descended on her, a scream the last sound she heard.

Dee watched the two hoodlums drag themselves out of the alley. She probably should have held them for the police, but their victim needed her attention. She crouched beside the barely conscious woman, examining her injuries. She had a heavily bleeding cut up near her hairline, but head wounds always looked worse than they were. Dee turned her head slowly, making out the fresh bruises on her cheek, and the split lip. She checked her eyes as the woman groaned; her pupils were slightly dilated meaning a possible concussion. Rolling her onto her back, she found the worst injuries, the two knife wounds. She knew those would need stitches, and possibly the head wound would as well.

The woman moaned again, and tried to move. "Hey, take it easy, you're safe now," Dee reassured her, taking another look at her face now that her eyes were open. "Inspector Connor?" She'd only met the woman once, when she had been arrested for Evan Kendall's murder, but she remembered the Australian exchange officer well. What was her first name? "Megan, it's Diandra Pallas. You're safe now, but I have to get you to a hospital. Think you can make it to my truck?"

"Yeah," Megan replied. Dee helped her to her feet, and when the younger woman swayed unsteadily, she simply picked her up and carried her, Megan being only a few inches shorter than Dee, but almost thirty pounds lighter. Her head sagged against Dee's shoulder, and she was afraid she'd passed out again.

"Megan, come on, talk to me. I know it's hard, but you can't rest right now; you have a concussion."

She gave a little exclamation of pain as Dee slid her into the passenger seat of the Cherokee and buckled her in. "I'm awake, I'm awake," she said.

Shutting the door, Dee ran around to the other side and climbed in, starting the engine and pulling swiftly out of the parking lot. "Hospital's only a few minutes away, Megan, just hold on."

"No," she whispered. "No hospital."

Goddess, this was all she needed. Who did Connor think she was, Jim Ellison? "Megan, you need stitches, you have a head injury. You need to go to a hospital."

"No," she repeated, her voice stronger. "No hospital, no police."

"Damn it, Megan, you're a cop, you know better than this. We have to report this."

"No, I can't, you can't let anyone know about this," she pleaded.

"You're in some kind of trouble aren't you?" Megan stared out the side window, not answering her question. "Aw, bloody hell, Megan. You and Lobo are a hell of a lot alike." She turned the Jeep toward the loft. "If you die... ."she threatened her.

A wry little smile crossed Megan's lips. "You won't let me," she said, and Dee knew she had her there.

Parking behind the dojo, Dee carried Megan inside, riding the freight elevator up to her floor. She hoped to god Mac didn't hear her and come down. That would be all she needed, trying to explain why she'd brought a seriously injured woman home rather than to a hospital. Fortunately, she heard no sound from upstairs, and concluded Duncan was either asleep, or not at home. Setting Megan down on the sofa, she gathered what few first aid supplies she had on hand, and returned.

"Let's get this shirt off you first; those gashes are the worst." Dee slid the shredded blouse off her and tossed it to the floor. Her bra quickly followed, and Dee leaned Megan back against the pillows, her sensitive fingers tracing the injured area, determining the amount of damage. It was worse than she'd thought. The horizontal slash had cut deep into her pectoral muscle, and Dee knew from experience it would never heal properly, even with a doctor's care. Megan would no longer be able to be a police officer, and every time she looked in the mirror, she would have two vivid scars to remind her of what had been. Dee made a quick decision. "Megan, these are worse than I thought. If you don't let me treat them, you could be crippled." That was a little over-dramatic, but it had the desired effect. Megan nodded her okay.

Grabbing a dishtowel, Dee tied a knot in the end of it, and handed it to Megan. "For you to bite down on," Dee told her, "because it's going to hurt worse than getting cut in the first place." The other woman put the towel between her teeth, and gazed expectantly at her. "Take hold of my hand and don't let go," Dee said, giving Megan her left hand. Her right she held over the wounds, and taking a slow, deep breath, she concentrated, pushing her Quickening through her hand and into Megan, speeding up the other woman's healing abilities. She felt Megan stiffen at the pain, and her grip on Dee's hand tightened as she screamed into the towel. "Almost done, just let me finish... " Dee told her. "There, it's over."

Megan collapsed back against the couch, spitting out the towel. "What the hell did you just do?" she asked, her voice shaking. "I figured you were... I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that!"

Dee gave her a reassuring smile. "Just boosted your body's own regenerative power. All that's left is a little redness and that will fade. You won't be able to tell you were ever injured." She moved her hand up to the cut on Megan's head. "While I'm at it... " She applied her talent to that wound also, Megan gritting her teeth and whining in her throat. "-Now- I'm done," she said. "How do you feel?"

"Like a truck hit me," Megan replied. She suddenly realized she was half-naked in front of a woman she barely knew. Picking up on her uneasiness, Dee pulled the afghan off the back of the couch and draped it over her.

"Any place else hurt?" Dee asked.

"Every place hurts," Megan said.

"Well, let's take care of the cuts and scrapes then." Dee opened a bottle of alcohol and poured some on a cotton ball. Wincing in anticipation, Megan helped her find all the injuries from her attack. When they were finally done, they had a long list: one slight concussion, bruised face and mouth, bruised ribs, finger marks on her wrists from where she'd been held, and miscellaneous abrasions on her hands, legs and knees from falling and/or being dragged into the alleyway. She was also filthy, and her hair was a stringy blood-matted mess.

"Is there any way I can take a shower?" she asked.

"Are you sure? You'll be washing away evidence." Dee's eyes narrowed, and she pinned them on the Aussie. "And while we're on the subject, just why didn't you want the police involved in this?"

"It's personal," she said and refused to say more.

Sighing, Dee led her into the bedroom and showed her the bathroom. She got out some sweats for her to wear when she was through; they would be baggy on her, but comfortable. Once she was satisfied Megan had everything she needed, Dee walked back to the living room and picked up the phone, glancing at the clock as she did so. It was hard to believe it was only a quarter after one. Dialing a number she hadn't called in over three months, she listened to the ringing on the other end of the line. On the third ring, a sleepy voice mumbled, "Hello?"

Those two syllables rocked her to her core, and she realized this was going to be much more difficult than she thought. "Lobo?" she breathed into the phone, not able to trust herself with anything more.

That got his attention, and she could hear Blair sitting up in bed and switching on the light. "Dee, what is it, what's wrong?"

I can do this, she told herself. "I'm fine, Lobo. I'm sorry to be calling so late, but I've got a problem only you and Jim can help me with. A couple guys beat Megan Connor up outside of Joe's tonight." At his startled gasp, she reassured him, "She's okay now, just bumps and bruises, but she refused to go to the hospital, refused to let me call the police, and refused to tell me why. She's in some kind of trouble, Lobo, and since she's your friend, and trouble's your specialty, I called you." There, that hadn't been so difficult after all.

She heard Ellison's voice in the background, asking who was on the phone. Blair explained the situation to him, and then the sentinel's voice came on the line. "We're leaving right now, Diandra. Be there in about an hour. Don't let her leave."

"Okay," she started to reply, then the part of her that was tuned in to Megan in the other room kicked in. "Sorry, got to go, I think what happened to her just hit her. See you when you get here. I'm at the loft over the dojo." Hanging up the phone, she raced into the bathroom.

Megan turned on the water, then finished removing her ruined clothes. About all that was salvageable were her shoes. I really liked that skirt, she thought distractedly. Stepping into the shower, she let the water run over her, increasing the temperature until it was so hot she could barely stand it. She scrubbed until her skin turned pink from the abrasive action. In the back of her head, she realized what she was doing, that she was trying to symbolically wash away what had happened to her but she couldn't stop. She washed her hair three times, and still thought she saw blood running down the drain when she rinsed. No amount of soap was going to make her forget her feeling of complete helplessness, and the pain her attackers had gleefully inflicted. She saw the knife wielder's eyes, looking at her defeated, bleeding body with perverted desire. Squeezing her eyes shut made his face go away, but she still felt his hands on her, snaking up her thighs, pawing her under her skirt. With a low, keening cry, she began to shake, freezing cold despite the scalding water, sobs erupting from her aching throat.

The shower door opened, and a blast of cool air hit her super-heated skin just before the water was turned off and a towel was thrown around her. She felt herself being lifted bodily out of the shower, and set on the floor, an arm going around her waist to support her, while another hand dried her off. She leaned on Dee, letting her tears flow, feeling a sense of security in the other woman's grasp.

Once she was dry, Dee wrapped the towel around her, tucking the end in so it would stay up, and seating her on the closed toilet lid. Kneeling beside her, Dee pulled Megan into her embrace, holding her until she ran out of tears, murmuring things in a language the Aussie didn't understand. When she finally forced herself to leave the haven of Dee's arms, Dee wiped her face tenderly, then stood, picking up a hairbrush from the counter.

As she began to gently untangle Megan's dark curls, she said, "Feeling any better?"

Swallowing with difficulty, Megan managed a shaky, "Yeah. Guess I kind of lost it there."

"What happened to you tonight is nothing to be ashamed of. I know you want to blame yourself, that you're telling yourself it shouldn't have happened to you because you're a cop; you should know how to defend yourself." She tilted Megan's chin up so she was looking her in the eyes. "This was not your fault. All the training, all the ability in the world wasn't going to stop those men from doing what they set out to do. If you had been able to fight back, perhaps you would have escaped, or perhaps they just would have killed you. You are never going to know that, though, and if you waste your time and emotion on second- guessing, on what ifs, you are going to drive yourself insane." Her fingers brushed away a stray tear. "I know that sounds harsh, Megan, but I have been there, and your life is too precious to throw away chasing after something that can't be changed. I'm not saying you can't cry and scream and hurt because of what happened. I'm saying don't get bogged down in the might have beens."

Releasing her chin, Dee went back to brushing her hair, and Megan could feel her hands pulling it back off her face and twisting it into a braid. She closed her eyes, leaning slightly against the other woman's hip, letting the gentle motions of Dee's fingers sooth and relax her. Part of her wanted to run and scream and hide from the world, but the rest of her wanted to stay right here forever, in this woman's incredible presence. She felt so safe, so secure. She just knew Dee would let nothing bad happen to her as long as she was by her side.

Dee was just finishing when Megan gave a big yawn. "Pretty tired, huh?" she said.

Megan nodded, offering no resistance when Dee pulled the oversized sweatshirt over her head. It smelled like Dee, she realized, and that gave her a peaceful sense of security, not unlike the one she had felt as a child, when she hugged her stuffed koala to her chest at night. Helping her into the matching pants, Dee led her into the bedroom and tugged back the covers on the bed. "Come on, climb in," she said.

She did as she was told, leaning her aching head on the soft pillow, which also smelled of Dee she noted, and let the other woman settle the blankets over her. Another yawn escaped her, and she caught at Dee's hand as she turned to leave. "Don't," she said, her dark eyes meeting the older woman's light ones.

Dee sat down beside her, and Megan rolled onto her side, resting their joined hands in Dee's lap. With her free hand, Dee rubbed the smaller woman's back until her eyes closed, and her breathing slowed to the deep, even rhythm of sleep. She sat there with her for few more minutes, watching her sleep, listening to her heartbeat.

A knock on the outside door to the loft startled her, and she realized she'd been lightly zoning on the sound of the policewoman's heart. Shaking her head to clear it, she rose, exiting the bedroom, turning out the light and closing the door partway behind her. Crossing the living room, she opened the stairwell door, ushering Jim and Blair inside, but motioning for them to keep it down.

"Where is she?" Jim asked, tension evident in his voice.

Dee walked into the kitchen, and the two men followed her, depositing their coats on the couch. Dee began preparations for coffee as she said, "She's sleeping right now, which is probably the best thing for her at the moment."

"Is she okay?" Blair asked, and Dee took her first good look at him, noticing the tired lines of his face, and the pain in his eyes.

"Physically, yeah, she's going to be okay. Emotionally, it's going to take a while longer. She was hurt pretty badly, and I think she feels that somehow it was her fault, though I tried to reassure her otherwise."

"Was she raped?" Jim asked bluntly, dealing with the attack on his friend the only way he knew how, like a cop.

Dee shook her head. "No, I intervened before that happened. But they were headed in that direction, and she knows it. She already feels helpless enough; she doesn't need that nightmare too. Bastards!" she spit out. She got three mugs out of the cupboard, trying to control the rage she felt building.

She felt Blair's presence behind her, his proximity cool water on her fire. "Dee," he said quietly, "maybe if you just told us what happened from the beginning, we would have an idea of where to look for these guys."

She gave a short, mirthless laugh, and turned around, leaning against the counter. "That's the real kicker. She doesn't want anyone to know about this. There was no way I was going to promise her that, no way. This is my city and no one gets away with that shit if I can prevent it." She straightened, her eyes turning to blue flame, looking every bit the fierce warrior she was. The change was electrifying.

Blair took a step back, and Jim felt the hair on his arms stand up. He didn't know how she did that, but it was impressive. "Dee," he said, trying to get her to focus on the details, "we're all pissed about what happened. But you're the only one who was there. We need to know what you know. So can you start from the beginning? Where and when did this happen?"

She started to go for the coffeepot, but Blair beat her to it. As he poured the hot liquid into mugs, she told them everything she knew. "I was singing at Joe's tonight, and got done about midnight. I hung around for about 15-20 minutes, changed my clothes, chatted with Joe. I walked out to the parking lot, and I heard a noise coming from the alley, some guy saying 'Here's the message for your friends in Cascade', then I heard a knife going through flesh, and a muffled scream. When I got to the alley, I saw two guys beating up on a woman, they had her skirt up, and were talking about having fun. I made sure they had anything but," she said with a snarl.

"Can you ID them?" Jim asked.

She nodded. "Yeah, and just about anyone else can too. I left my mark on them. One of them, the guy who cut Megan up, he has a broken nose. The other one has a broken right arm, just above the elbow." Blair handed her a mug, and she took a sip, noticing he had added milk and honey, just the way she liked it. "Thanks, Lobo," she said. He gave her a slight smile, and retreated to his position next to Jim.

"To make a long story short, I recognized Megan and when she refused to go to the hospital, I brought her here, cleaned her up and called you. I don't think she knew those guys in particular, but she knows what this is about. I don't think it was random."

"I don't either. Did you hear anything else, what this message they gave her was?" Ellison asked.

Dee chewed the inside of her lip. "I think the message was what they did to her, not anything they said. They cut her pretty badly, bad enough she would have lost a lot of mobility in her arm, and been scarred for life. They cut a cross into her chest. One line here," she said, running her forefinger from shoulder to shoulder, just above her breasts, "and one here." She drew her finger from just below her throat down between her breasts. "That mean anything to you?"

Blair's face had turned white at her description, and only Dee's quick reflexes caught the coffee cup as it slipped from his fingers. "I can see you know what I'm talking about," she said.

"Cristo," Blair whispered, his eyes wide and horrified.

Ellison put his hand on his guide's shoulder, and squeezed reassuringly. "It's okay, Chief."

Blair twisted out from under his patronizing grip. "No, it's not okay! I'm the one who got Megan involved in this! This is my fault!"

Dee stepped between the two men. "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up a minute. I told you what I know, now it's your turn. Who's Cristo?"

Blair just shook his head, so Ellison answered for him. "Cristo is a drug dealer in Cascade. He's currently awaiting a grand jury hearing on whether or not he should be bound over for trial. Blair and Megan were instrumental in gathering the information that lead to his downfall. They are the prosecution's star witnesses. Cristo is a real piece of work; crawled to the top of the heap in Cascade by basically eliminating the competition. He has a real ego too, he'd have to, with a name like Jesus Cristo." At Dee's eye roll, he added, "That's his real name, and the cross is his sign. Most of the people we find carved up the way Megan was are dead."

Dee pondered that information for a moment, then noticed Blair was abnormally silent. "Lobo?" she asked. "What is it?"

He turned his worried gaze on her. "Megan," he said, "is she really going to be okay? You said she was hurt really badly... "

"She's going to be fine, Lobo. I healed her. She won't even have a scar. Probably was a good thing she didn't want to go to the hospital; the doctors would have done the best they could, but she wouldn't have fully recovered. So, you don't need to worry about any physical scars."

"Emotional ones are another story, huh?" he said, staring at the floor. "This is all my fault... "

"Sandburg... " Jim began, but Dee's hand on his arm silenced him.

"Lobo," she said quietly, "I'm going to tell you the same thing I told Megan. You can't blame yourself for this. You are not responsible for those men's actions. They made a choice to do what they did to her, a choice you had no part in. Megan is going to need you to be her support, her strength for a while. You can't do that for her if you persist in blaming yourself for this. You're going to dig yourself into a hole of self-pity, and you're going to take her with you. I don't think you want that, do you?"

Blair shook his head. "No, no, I want to help Megan."

Dee took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "Okay, then, that's settled." She turned toward Jim. "So, Detective, what do you think? I'm of the opinion that this was Cristo's way of warning Megan not to testify, and it was supposed to be a warning to you too, Blair."

Jim nodded in agreement. "It makes sense to me, but what I don't understand is why he just didn't have her killed. He's showed no reticence about it before."

Dee was about to reply, when Blair spoke up. "He liked her," he said quietly. "He liked that she had brains, and wouldn't fawn all over him like the rest of the women who worked for him."

This tale was getting more interesting by the minute. When things had cooled off a little, she would have to get the whole story out of them, but right now she had more immediate concerns. "I have a feeling that after tonight, Cristo won't be reticent anymore." She locked gazes with Ellison. "I think Blair and Megan are in a hell of a lot of danger."

At her words, Blair leaned over the sink, and was sick. "Sorry," Ellison said in way of apology, as he rubbed the stricken guide's back. "It's been a long two months. This whole thing started right after you moved away. You okay there, Chief?"

"Yeah," Blair croaked, then his stomach heaved again.

Dee stood there, watching the interaction between the two men, forcing herself to remain where she was, to not go to her companion, to not take away his pain. She felt her own stomach knot in sympathy with his, and was surprised at how little things had really changed between them. The bond was still there, a blue white cord she could see with her "other" sight, stretching from herself to Blair, twining with the thick gold band that connected him to Ellison as the two lines crossed. She wondered if the sentinel knew just how closely the three of them were joined. Hearing Blair starting to hyperventilate, she held back no longer, joining Jim at the anthropologist's side, placing her hand on the back of his neck. "Take a deep breath, Lobo, and hold it. Now let it out to the count of ten. And another deep breath. That's it," she encouraged him.

Blair felt his racing heart begin to slow, and his stomach quit churning. After a few more minutes of deep breathing, he felt better, not terrific, but not so out of control. Turning around, he looked up into two pairs of concerned blue eyes. "Chief?" Jim asked.

"I'm okay," he replied, and for the first time in two months, he did feel okay. He had two sentinels to watch out for him now, and the thought that there was safety in numbers gave him comfort. If anyone could keep Megan and him safe, it would be the black jaguar and the wild mare. That thought gave him an idea, one he was sure Jim would hate, but the more he thought about it, the more he knew this was the solution. And Dee had been the one who was always telling him to trust his intuition. "Jim, Dee," he began, "I have a crazy idea... "

"No, Sandburg, absolutely not," Jim Ellison said, putting his coffee mug down on the table.

Dee leaned back in her chair and looked at the two men facing off over her kitchen table. Blair was leaning forward in his seat, his finger tracing an imaginary line on the wood surface. Ellison sat with his arms folded across his chest, his jaw clenched.

"Jim, you're not seeing the beauty of this. Megan and I would be protected at all times by a sentinel, a human early warning system. It's the perfect way to keep us safe," Blair said.

Ellison shook his head. "No, Chief, I'm going to ask Simon to put you and Megan in a safe house."

Blair snorted. "Yeah, right, just make us sitting ducks. You've seen what Cristo's done to other people who've betrayed him. Four walls and an army of cops didn't stop him. Face it man, there's someone on the Cascade PD who's on his payroll. Probably more than one!"

Jim leaned forward, nose to nose with the anthropologist. Before he could reply to Blair's accusations, Dee's hand moved to rest lightly on his wrist. "Is this true, Detective?"

He glanced down at her hand before he answered her, but made no move to shrug it off. "Probably," he admitted, "though we haven't been able to prove it. But Blair's idea is insane, a safe house, even with its possible drawbacks, is the best way to go."

Dee shook her head. "I think Blair's idea is a good one, in fact, I was going to suggest something similar myself."

"You would," Jim muttered.

With a resigned sigh, Dee began to lecture. "You were in the army, Ellison, so you tell me, which is harder to hit, a stationary, or a moving target?"

"Moving... " He didn't like where she was going with this.

"And which is more mobile, a small guerilla force, or a an entire platoon?"


"And would you say that two cops, a martial arts trained anthropologist, and an Immortal Amazon warrior would make a pretty deadly guerilla force? Oh, and did I mention that two members of the party have heightened senses, so they can detect any threat long before a normal human is aware of it?"

Blair shot Jim a self-satisfied grin. "She's got you, Jim, and you know it."

"All right, but YOU get to convince Simon this is the best idea." Ellison shot back at Blair. He could give as good as he got.

Dee pulled the pad of paper Blair had been scribbling his ideas on over. "So what do we have?"

Blair ticked the items off on his fingers. "You move back into the apartment in Cascade, so that we can watch out for each other. Megan moves in with you... "

"I what?" said an irritated Aussie accent. Megan walked into the kitchen, shooting a glare at Dee. "I asked you not to get anyone else involved in this. Nice to know you can keep your word."

Dee rose to her feet, and approached the policewoman. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Betrayed," Megan shot back, then instantly regretted it as hurt flashed across Dee's face.

"Megan," Blair said, coming to Dee's defense, "that was uncalled for." His angry tone surprised even him. She stared at him for a moment, then sat down in the chair Dee had vacated.

"Connor," Jim said, trying to sooth any ruffled feathers, "what Sandburg meant to say was if the situation were reversed, and he was the one in trouble, he'd want your help. We're not going to force you into anything, but this doesn't just concern you. You know Cristo did this, and you know you're not the only one in danger, Chief is too. All we want to do is make sure the both of you are safe. I know that's what I want. Diandra?"

"Lobo's and your safety is my only concern, Megan, and if you don't like it, tough," the Immortal said. "Now, I asked you a question, how are you feeling?"

Megan swallowed, and looked down at her hands. "My head hurts," she finally said.

Dee moved to get an ice pack for her, and Blair began filling her in on their plans. When she returned with it, he was saying, "So you see, with you living across the hall from us with Dee, we can keep an eye on each other. And when you're at the station, you'll be partnered with Jim, and I'll be with Dee when I'm on campus. So we'll never be... " He realized that Megan didn't know Dee was a sentinel, and Jim didn't know Megan knew about him. "Uh, never be without protection." He looked up at Dee questioningly; it was her decision to make.

Walking over to Megan, she handed her the plastic bag of ice wrapped in a towel. "I'm like Jim," she said simply. Both Megan and Ellison stared at her. Dee shrugged. "It's better if it's out in the open. We're going to have to trust each other implicitly in order to do this, and so we need to put all our cards on the table." Or at least the ones that are necessary, she thought. The immortality card didn't need to be played yet.

The Aussie held the ice pack to her temple, and said, "You're a Sentinel." Dee nodded "But that still doesn't make you a bodyguard. You're a civilian." She looked at Jim. "We shouldn't be letting her get involved in this; Captain Banks will have our hides if she gets hurt."

Blair started it with a small giggle that quickly turned into raucous laughter. Jim stared at him for a moment, then joined in until tears rolled down his face. "Connor," he finally managed, "you've never seen her in action. If Cristo knew she was coming after him, he'd be on a plane right now, heading out of the country."

"You know, that's an idea, Ellison. Are you sure you just don't want me to handle this for you? Save us and the taxpayers a hell of a lot of trouble." She gave him a feral grin.

Jim felt a shiver run down his spine at her words. He had almost forgotten just what she was capable of. "Um, no thanks, Diandra. Let's try it by the book first."

Dee glanced at the clock. It was approaching five am. "Can we save the rest of it for tomorrow? I don't know about you guys, but I need to get some rest. Megan and I will take my room, Lobo, you and Jim can crash in the spare room. You know where the blankets and towels are, right?" At Blair's nod, she told them goodnight, and escorted Megan back to bed.

Part 2

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