Immortal Champion

Part 2

Pouring himself a cup of coffee, Blair sat down at the table in the break room by Major Crimes. After outlining his idea for protecting himself and Megan to Captain Banks, he had been laughed out of the office by the other man. Dee and Jim were in there now, trying to convince Simon that he wasn't crazy. He'd been pissed when he'd stormed out of the bullpen, but now he was just resigned to his fate as the comic relief of the police department. He slumped in the chair, and wondered why Jim and Simon, and the rest of the guys couldn't look any further than the surface. He knew they all cared about him, but he felt it was the way you cared about the team mascot. He knew he did a good job for the PD. Sure, he'd made mistakes, but then so had every cop on the force, and many times he'd been the one to come through with a lead or a theory that helped them catch the bad guys. In fact, it had been his friendship with one of Cristo's subordinates that had gotten him into this situation to begin with. Hell, if it hadn't been for him, and Megan, they would still be trying to catch him at something.

"Why couldn't Jim and Simon be more like Dee?" he wondered. Sometimes he felt she knew him better than his Sentinel did, knew what made him tick, knew how much he had to offer if only someone would take him seriously. He felt a smile tug at his lips, and he gave in to it. She had always believed in him, as a person, as a fighter, and as a Guide. She'd seen things inside him he hadn't known were there. Under her tutelage he had become what he considered a true Guide to his Sentinel, combining what he'd already figured out on his own with the physical abilities of a warrior and the talents of a Shaman. All of those accomplishments meant nothing to Simon and the rest of the PD, because he didn't carry a badge or wear a sidearm. He felt the smile fading.

"Why the long face, Sandy?" Megan asked as she entered the break room. Walking over to the vending machine, she dropped in some change and punched the button for a soda. She wore her injuries like a medal of honor, refusing to cover them up with makeup, wanting the whole department to see Cristo for the scum he was. That, Blair thought, must have been Dee's influence. It certainly wasn't Jim's. Last time he'd been beaten up, Jim told him to put on a pair of sunglasses, so he "wouldn't scare anyone." The case of the murdering computer hackers had been another example of his instincts, his theories being ignored by the detective.

Realizing he hadn't answered her question, he said, "Just thinking. I'm just so tired of having my ideas shot down out of hand."

Megan sat down across from him. "Jim and Dee are still in there talking to him, Sandy. I'm sure they'll work something out."

Blair laughed half-heartedly. "Yeah, right. I'll bet Jim's siding with Simon right now, and we'll end up dead by tomorrow morning in some supposedly safe house."

"I wouldn't count Dee out, she seems pretty persuasive to me. She managed to talk Ellison into your idea."

Blair brightened considerably. "Yeah, she did. She's good at that."

Megan took a sip of her drink, then leaned towards him. "So, Sandy, tell me about Dee. Is she easy to live with? I mean, I haven't had a roommate since I was at university."

Blair grinned. "She is if you don't like to sleep in." He remembered the time they had spent together over the summer, rising at 5 am to run before the day got too hot, the hours spent in the gym as she taught him how to defend himself, the lunches shared on their bench on campus. He had been falling in love with her then, he realized, and it had all come together the evening they had spent flirting and dancing at Joe's. He remembered the first time he'd kissed her, out on the dance floor, in their own little world. The love they'd made later that night had been both tender and ferocious, both of them finding what they had been searching for for so long in each other's arms.

"Sandy? You still there?" Megan asked.

Blair looked at her, but didn't really see her. All he could see was Diandra telling him she had to leave. "I... um... I have to... uh, later, Megan," he stuttered. Getting to his feet, he left the break room, forcing himself not to run. Ducking into the men's room, he closeted himself in a stall, and gave in to the pain. Until this moment, he'd thought he could do this, he thought he could work with Dee and be just friends. After all he'd gotten along just fine these past two months without her. "Who are you kidding, Blair?" he said under his breath. "You've been a mess." And now what was he going to do? At this moment, all he wanted was to lose himself in her arms, and make the whole ugly world go away.

"How many times do I have to tell the two of you no?" Simon said, biting the end of his cigar in frustration. "I'm not going to risk Sandburg and Connor's lives just because you want to play head games with Cristo."

"Sir," Jim said, "right now Cristo is out on bail, and he is so sure he's going to get out of the drug charges that he isn't even making an attempt to flee. He's laughing at us Captain, thumbing his nose at the PD."

"If we can catch some of his men making a try on either Blair or Megan, we can get him on attempted murder charges," Dee argued. "Get him behind bars and then really put the moves on his operation, shut them down completely."

"What's with this we stuff, Dr. Pallas? You're not a police officer; hell you're a history teacher. Why are you sticking your neck out?"

Dee drew herself up to her full height, and crossed her arms over her chest. "Because Blair and Megan are my friends. And if that's not enough for you, I am Seacouver's Champion. Cristo brought his evil to my territory when his men attacked Megan. I am honor-bound to defend her, and Blair." She paused, her brow furrowing in confusion at an overwhelming rush of emotion. Glancing at Ellison, she saw he was experiencing the same thing.

"Sandburg?" he asked, meeting her gaze. She nodded, and as one, they headed for the door, leaving Simon shaking his head in frustration.

Sentinels, he thought. Way more trouble than they're worth.

The sentinel and champion easily followed the tangled trail of Blair's distress, pushing open the door of the men's room barely a minute after they'd left Banks' office, their simultaneous questions of "Lobo?" and "Chief?" echoing in the empty room.

Blair came out of his hiding place, his red-rimmed eyes flicking quickly from Dee to Jim. "What? What did I do?" he asked.

"Nothing, Chief," Ellison said, "we were just worried about you."

Staring at his partner, he asked, "Why?"

"You were... are upset. We both felt it," Dee answered him.

"Both of you?" This was something new. Diandra had felt his pain before, and come running, the night Jim had gone off on him at the hospital, but for Jim to sense what he was feeling... wow. What had triggered that?

Jim's voice interrupted his theorizing. "Are you okay, Chief?"

"I... um... " Shit, there was no lying to them; they probably knew better than he did what was going on. "I need to talk to Dee, Jim. Alone if you don't mind."

"Okay, Chief," Ellison replied and left the room.

Dee raised an eyebrow at him, but didn't say a word. "Can we go somewhere other than the john?" he asked. Nodding, she held the door for him as they exited.

A couple minutes later, they were seated on the steps in the stairwell, it being the closest and most private place Blair could think of in a hurry. She sat down next to him, her hand closing over his where it rested on his knee. "What's going on, Lobo?" she asked softly, though she had a pretty good idea what was bothering him, since it was the same thing troubling her.

Giving her a quick glance, he looked down at his feet. "I don't know if I can do this, Dee. Not the cop stuff, I'm used to being in danger... god that sounds awful doesn't it?" He sighed. "I don't know if I can do the 'us' thing. I thought... I thought I was fine, you know? You left and I hurt for awhile, and then I got caught up in this case, and kind of pushed everything I feel for you aside. But I can't hide from those feelings anymore." He looked up at her, his eyes glistening. "I still love you. I thought it would fade, thought it would go away, but sitting here with you right now, I... I just want you to hold me and not ever let go. Stupid, I know."

"No," she replied, "No, it's not stupid at all. Ever since last night, since the moment I knew I had to call you, I've been having the same feelings. This is not some infatuation, some crush, Lobo. This is the real thing." She ran the back of her fingers lightly over his cheek, and he leaned into her touch, his eyes closing in bliss. "Nothing's changed for me either, just the thought of being in the same room with you makes me high. But we can't allow ourselves to give into those feelings now; I don't know if we ever can. And yes, I know that hurts like hell, but we have Jim to think about. I will not come between the two of you."

Blair ran a hand over his face wearily. "Jim's better than he was. I don't sense the hostility towards you that was there before. He's more at ease around you, and is agreeing to work with you, instead of against you. He never would have done that two months ago. Why do you suppose that is?"

Dee was silent for a moment, thinking the situation over. "It may have something to do with the fact that I'm in Seacouver, that I've claimed my territory, and right now it doesn't conflict with his. I also haven't marked you in nearly three months. He knows you're his, there's not that uncertainty there was before. That may change once I move back into the loft next to yours, and I spend more time with you."

He refused to give up hope. "But if things don't change, if Jim is okay working with you, once this stuff with Cristo is all over, can we... could we give us another try? I mean look at us," he said, gesturing to their positions on the step. "We started out two feet apart, and now smoke couldn't get between us."

Dee realized he was right. They had gravitated toward each other, so close they were touching from their shoulders all the way down to their feet, and it still wasn't close enough. She wanted him under her skin; she wanted him to be a part of her. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, then said, "I don't know, Lobo, I don't know. I want us to be just as much as you do, but I don't know if that can ever happen. I still don't have a companion, you know, and Jim may interpret any overture on my part towards you as my trying to take you away from him again."

"So you're saying no," Blair said, the pain in his blue eyes intensifying, if that were possible.

Goddess she wanted to hold him, needed to hold him. "I'm just saying I don't have any answers, Blair. This is killing me just as much as it's killing you. I... last night, before I rescued Megan, Joe was telling me how sad I seemed, a big change from the person I was the last time he saw me with you. And he was right, I was unhappy, I am unhappy. I even caught myself thinking that maybe 2,800 years is enough... "

"No," he said in a stunned whisper, "no, god, Dee, no... " He gave into the desire to put his arms around her, to comfort her, and be comforted. She leaned into his embrace, hugging him so tightly he had trouble breathing, but he didn't care. It had been bad for him, he realized, but not so difficult that he wished he was dead. Why was it so much worse for her? The thought struck him that he had at least had Jim, another person, another connection, a support system for him to turn to, and it had brought them closer together, healing the tensions his relationship with Dee had caused. But Dee had no one else, no companion, no soulmate to ease the pain of her broken heart. This was his fault. "I'm sorry, Dee, I'm sorry. I should have fought harder to make Jim understand to... I don't know, I just should have done more, should have kept in closer touch... "

"Hey, hey, it's not your fault, Lobo. Shit happens, even to something as wonderful and beautiful as what I feel for you. Maybe it's just not my lot in life to be blissfully happy and completely fulfilled. Maybe the fates have more important things for me planned."

Blair's hand cupped her cheek, and he gazed into her tear-filled eyes. "What in the world can possibly be more important than love?" At his words, her tears spilled over, and she sobbed silently against his shoulder, trying to stop, trying to pull herself together, and failing.

He held her, stroking her hair, rubbing her back, letting her cry. He didn't know what else to do. He wanted to promise her that things would be okay, that they would be together forever, but with everything that was going on around them, he didn't even know if he would be alive tomorrow, let alone if they could make things work between them. That uncertainty was what convinced him. Lifting her head from his shoulder, Blair kissed her, his lips melting into hers, promising her that no matter what happened, he would always love her.

When they finally came up for air, she said, "You always know just what I need. You are my angel."

Swallowing past the lump in his throat, he wiped at the tear tracks on her cheeks. "You are the angel, Dee, the strong, avenging kind with the flaming sword. I'm lucky to be the wind beneath your wings."

She kissed him then, her mouth soft and tender against his, her hands caressing his face. "We will get through this," she promised him when they parted, "and we will find a way to make this work, I swear it." He nodded in response, once again putting his trust in her. "Come on," she said, taking his hand and pulling him up with her, "let me go splash some water on my face, and we'll tell Captain Banks where he can shove his bloody safe house."

Blair followed her back up the stairs, his spirits buoyed by the return of the Dee he knew, the one who took names and kicked butt. There would be no stopping the four of them now.

After much argument, Captain Banks had finally relented, and allowed the two Sentinels to handle it their way. He hadn't liked it much, but he would rather be kept abreast of their plans, than be shut out altogether.

"So where to now?" Megan asked, as the four of them exited police headquarters.

"Dee will take you to your place first, so you can pick up some things, then we'll meet back at the loft," Jim said, and Dee nodded in agreement.

They started down the steps toward the cars, lulled into a little bit of false security, since they were in the Cascade PD parking garage. Dee caught the small noise before Ellison did, perhaps because he was used to the sound of a safety being flipped off. "DOWN!" she yelled, just as bullets sprayed the area where they were standing.

Dee shoved Megan to the ground, hoping to god Ellison had done the same with Blair. "Stay down," she growled in the other woman's ear, then she was on her feet, vaulting over the trunk of the car they'd ducked behind, heading for the gunman. Following the sound of running feet, she chased him out of the garage and down the access alley, too far away to stop him as he dove into a waiting BMW. The car took off with a squeal of tires, heading straight for her.

There was nowhere to go but up. Three long strides, a leap, and she was on the hood, watching the shocked expressions on the perps' faces as she continued over the roof, tucking into a somersault, and landing on her feet behind the speeding vehicle. A flick of her wrist, and her knife was in her grasp; another snap of her hand and it buried itself to the hilt in the passenger side rear tire.

She heard Ellison fire off a shot behind her, the bullet whistling past her ear to puncture the other rear tire. The BMW fishtailed around the corner, and rolled. "Jesus, Pallas!" Jim exclaimed as he ran up to her. "Are you okay?"

She nodded, and followed him to the street. Several other cops were already at the scene, but the gunman and his driver had abandoned the car and disappeared. She stood there, surveying the chaos for a moment, watching as Ellison went to work, then she turned back toward the station, trusting that the sentinel wouldn't have followed her if Megan or Blair had been injured.

Blair met her just inside the front doors, his face worried. "You okay?" he asked in a hushed voice.

"Yeah, I'm fine, Lobo. Where's Megan?" She noticed he was staring at her left shoulder. "What? I get something on me?" She brushed at her coat, and her hand came away sticky and red. "Shit, I didn't even feel it. Does it show much?"

He nodded, then took his scarf off and placed it around her neck, draping the end of it over the bloodstain. "That ought to get past everything but a really close look. Megan's still out back, directing the team out there." At Dee's irritated look, he said, "It's okay, there's a dozen other cops with her; she's perfectly safe."

"I'll feel better once we're at the loft and have time to go over some ground rules, and make some plans." She followed Blair back through the station and out to the garage once again. She watched the team work for a while, noticing with disgust that her Cherokee wasn't going anywhere, at least not until forensics finished digging the bullets out of it. With a sigh, she sat down on the bumper to wait.

"This yours?" Ellison asked as he came to stand beside her. He handed Dee her throwing knife.

"Yes," she said, glancing up at the bemused expression on his face. "Don't make fun of my weapons, Detective. I was just as accurate as you were with your gun."

"I wasn't laughing at you. I was just wondering how many other goodies you have stashed in that coat of yours."

"Just be glad you didn't make me walk through the metal detector when I entered the building," she replied with a grin.

"I'm curious. Where did you learn that little trick you did in the alley?"

"Hmm, jumping over the car? A very long time ago, I used to vault. Not the gymnastics kind, but the horse kind, like trick riders you see in the circus. I just thought of the car as a great big horse, and up I went."

Jim shook his head. He imagined if he got her started, she would have more stories than Sandburg.

"So what now?" she asked, for once leaving the decision up to him.

"You take Megan and Blair back to the loft, and get settled. I'll be along as soon as this is wrapped up."

Dee got to her feet and waved a hand at her Jeep. "Any suggestions as to how we'll get there?"

Ellison made a face, but dug in his pocket and tossed her the keys to the Ford. "Don't scratch it," he warned.

She rolled her eyes in reply. "You know we're going to have to start being a little more aggressive, don't you? Act instead of react?"

The detective nodded. "Leave that to the Captain and I. We know which rocks to turn over. We will trace this back to Cristo, and then he'll be cooling his heels in jail while awaiting the grand jury."

"My offer still stands, you know, to make this all go away." Sliding her hand inside her coat, she adjusted the hilt of her katana, a motion not lost on the sentinel.

"I thought you were one of the good guys," he said softly, the thought of a rogue Immortal with her talents running loose in Cascade making him very nervous.

"I am, Ellison, I am. But Blair is the closest thing I have to a companion, and that protection instinct has a way of bulldozing over anything else. I'll try and keep a lid on it, but I won't make you any promises, not as long as he is in danger." Her flashing eyes dared him to push the issue.

Knowing that he would kill to protect Blair also, even if he might hesitate a fraction of a second longer than she would, Ellison dropped the subject, but not before saying, "Just don't let Sandburg see you like this. I'm afraid it would knock you right off that pedestal he has you on." With a nod, Dee left to gather up her charges.

Megan waited patiently in the hallway, her arms loaded with a hastily packed duffle bag and two sacks of groceries. Blair stood behind her, similarly weighted down, both of them waiting for Diandra to find her keys. Finally, with a disgusted shrug, she gave up. "Must have lost them in the alley. You've got yours, don't you, Lobo?"

Nodding, he handed her his bags and produced a key ring from his pocket, fitting a key into the lock and swiftly opening the door to Diandra's old loft. Megan turned that tidbit of information over in her mind. "Sandy has a key to her place?" She'd taken a wild guess that they were lovers when she'd come to back up Captain Banks' arrest of Diandra, and walked in to find her dressed in a skimpy robe, and Sandy in his underwear. But Dee had moved to Seacouver right after that, and she'd assumed that their fling (she could hardly call it anything else, knowing Sandy's attention span) was over. When she had a moment alone with him, she would ask, she decided. No sense making a fool of herself if Dee's affections were already taken.

She entered the apartment, noting it was still fairly well furnished for a place Dee had vacated. Seeing her expression, Dee said, "The place in Seacouver belongs to my friend, MacLeod, and he had it already furnished. I just ended up leaving most of my big stuff here, since I crash here whenever I'm at the university late." Dee set her bags down on the kitchen counter. "I'm going to go take a shower. Can you put stuff away and show Megan around, Lobo?"

Blair nodded in response and started to set groceries on the counter. Megan handed him things when he asked for them, and watched him stow them away efficiently. If one could judge the seriousness of a relationship by how well a man knew a woman's kitchen, she guessed Dee and Sandy were an old married couple. Leaning on the breakfast bar, she propped her chin on her hand. "So, Sandy, you never really answered my question from before; what's Dee like as a roommate?"

He seemed a little startled, dropping an unopened package of spaghetti on the floor, but recovered well, with none of the weirdness he'd gone through before. "She's okay, if you're into working out, meditating and fencing."

"Fencing? I haven't fenced since university in Sydney."

"Good, see, you have something in common already." Blair put a large pot of water on the stove, and Megan guessed he'd decided on pasta for dinner. "Come on, I'll show you around. This is the kitchen, the living room," he waved a hand at the sofa and empty entertainment center behind her. "Laundry room and half bath." He indicated a door off the kitchen.

She followed as he headed toward the large open space she glimpsed through the openings in the living room bookcase. "Workout studio." Most of the equipment was still there, since it duplicated many of the items at the dojo, though most of her swords were gone.

Megan wandered around the gym, taking in the weight equipment, punching bags and workout mats. "Quite the fitness fanatic, I'd say."

"She has to be," Blair said, then looked like he hadn't meant to voice that out loud. "To keep in such great shape, I mean."

Megan filed his slip away under curious things about Dee, and realized the list was getting rather long. She admired one of the epees hanging on the wall. "Do you fence, Sandy?"

Blair shook his head vehemently. "No, not me. I asked Dee not to teach me."

Megan turned around to face him, a little puzzled. "Why not? You two seem so close, I thought you might share an interest."

"I'm just not into fighting with sharp, pointed objects. She taught me to kick box, though, and I'm pretty good with a staff."

"Finally got tired of being thumped, eh? I don't blame you," she said, her fingers unconsciously tracing the bruise on her cheek.

"I'm sure if you ask Dee, she would work with you, help you get your confidence back."

"I don't know," Megan sighed. "I'm still pretty shook up about the whole thing, and Dee, well she kind of scares me a little," she said, remembering being mysteriously healed by her.

Blair headed back to the kitchen to check his water. "Dee would never hurt you, Megan. There's no reason to be scared of her."

"Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked, as he began to slice tomatoes.

He shook his head. "Just talk to me. I need to keep busy, keep my mind off this afternoon."

Megan sat down at the breakfast bar again. "Okay, so I'll keep being nosy. Let me know when I've crossed a line." She gave him a grin, and he smiled back at her through a curtain of hair.

He went back to slicing produce, pushing his chestnut locks out of his eyes a couple times before giving up and digging in his pocket for a hair tie. "Oh, Sandy, that's gorgeous," she exclaimed, catching a glimpse of the silver wolf's head clasp. He handed it to her, letting her inspect the intricate carving, watching her turn the piece of jewelry so that the blue stones for the wolf's eyes glowed in the light.

She handed it back to him, as he said, "Dee gave it to me, when she... left." A fleeting expression of intense sadness crossed his face, then he pulled his hair back, fastening it into a ponytail with the clasp. He went back to his chopping, after dumping the package of spaghetti into the now boiling water.

"Sandy, if talking about Dee is going to make you upset... "

"No, no, I'm fine, we're fine, just some painful memories, that's all. Go ahead, ask away."

Megan racked her brain for something he would find interesting to talk about. "Okay, how about this, if Dee's a sentinel, like Jim, then how come she doesn't have a guide, someone like you, as a partner?"

Blair stirred the pasta, and Megan could swear she saw him tearing up. He turned his back to her for a moment, and she watched him rub at his eyes with the heel of his hand. Finally he answered her question. "Dee's guide is dead; she died a long time ago, and Dee repressed her senses, until she met me."

She struggled to digest that bit of information. Did that mean that Blair was kind of a surrogate guide for her? And was that why Jim had always seemed so irritable whenever her name had been mentioned? He had been acting really weird when they had been chasing Alex Barnes; did Diandra have the same kind of effect on him? She couldn't stop the words from pouring out of her mouth. "How is it that Jim can work with her without that attraction/hate thing, like he had with Barnes?"

Blair laughed lightly. "I asked her the same question. She said it was because he wasn't her type... " He bowed his head over the salad fixings again, trying to hide the crimson flush on his cheeks.

"Okaaaay," Megan thought. "That's more than I wanted to know." She changed the subject. "Why does she call you 'Lobo'?"

That put a smile on his face. "She saw my spirit guide when we first met. It's a wolf. She told me I reminded her of a wolf, fierce, protective, and playful and affectionate at the same time."

This was good, she had him talking, and his mind off whatever was bothering him. "Tell me about spirit guides," she said. "Tell me everything about being a guide. If I'm going to be working closely with Dee and Jim, I'll need to know how to do what you do, when you aren't there, right?"

Blair stared at her for a moment, wondering if he should. It would take some of the pressure off him, if she could help out. He didn't know what guiding two sentinels at the same time would be like, but he was sure it would be difficult. She might not even have the talent for it; he'd come to realize from the things that Dee had told him about companions, that not just the champions were genetically different. "Okay," he said, "but you have to swear to keep this between the four of us. And if you have any questions, ask Dee, or me okay? Jim still has a hard time with this metaphysical stuff."

Leaning closer, Megan crossed her heart with her forefinger. "I swear it won't leave this room."

Confident she would keep her word, Blair started to teach. "The most important thing a guide or companion has to guard against is the zone-out... ."

Yawning, Dee ran a hand through her hair, pushing it back behind her ears, then returned her attention to the term paper she was grading. A soft knock at the door, and a muffled "It's me," interrupted her. Rising, careful not to disturb the other occupant of the sofa, she went to answer it. Opening the door, she let Ellison in, putting a finger to her lips as a warning to keep it down.

"You're pretty late," she told him, motioning for him to follow her into the kitchen. "Have you ate? We saved you some spaghetti." At his head shake, she went to the fridge and began preparing a plate for him.

Ellison hung his coat up on the hook by the door, and entered the kitchen. "Catch," Dee said, tossing him a beer. He raised an eyebrow at her in surprise, but twisted the cap off anyway. "Lobo's idea, he threw a six-pack in the cart while we were shopping. How did it go with the investigation?"

"Not well," he replied. "We got some prints off the car, and know who the shooter was, but tying him to Cristo is going to be hard. And we have to get our hands on him first. With our luck, he's split town, along with his accomplice."

Dee ladled sauce over the plate of pasta, and stuck it in the microwave. "Doesn't this whole thing strike you as kind of odd? I mean the guys who worked Megan over were sent for a specific reason. This afternoon's shooting was just plain sloppy."

Ellison leaned against the counter, taking a long swallow of the beer, a little surprised he felt this comfortable around the Immortal. "I don't know. Could be when the attack didn't work, he just decided brute force was better than finesse. And sloppy would have been pretty effective, if you hadn't yelled when you did. Cristo would have gotten his way. So, thanks."

She smiled at him in response, the first, real, genuine smile he'd ever received from her, and Jim found himself a bit awestruck. If this was the way she looked at Sandburg, no wonder he had been in love.

"You're welcome," Dee said, just as the microwave dinged. Setting the meal on the table for him, she dug out some silverware, and tracked down the Parmesan cheese. "I've got to get back to grading papers, but just whisper if you need anything." She gave him a small grin. "Megan's asleep upstairs, and Lobo's out on the sofa. If you want seconds, there's still some left in the fridge."

Returning to the living room, she picked up the paper she had been working on, and tried to remember where she had left off. Twenty minutes later, Jim joined her, taking a seat in the armchair across from the sofa. He watched her for awhile, listening to the scratch of her pen on paper. Finally, he said, "How do you do it?"

Glancing up at him, she said, "Hmm, do what? Grade papers at a time like this? It has to be done."

Shaking his head, he pointed to the sleeping anthropologist curled up next to her, his head resting on a pillow in her lap. "He hasn't slept this deeply in weeks, not since this whole thing with Cristo started. One afternoon with you, and he's out like a light. What's your secret?"

Dee thought about that for a moment, then answered, "Trust." She ran her hand slowly down Blair's back. "Lobo trusts me completely, as I do him. He knows I won't let anything happen to him." She looked up at the sentinel, finding a sad, haunted look in his eyes. "Ellison... Jim," she said gently, "I know trust is very hard for you, but you have to find a way to trust Blair. You are the most important thing in the world to him. He would never hurt you, never betray you."

Jim looked away, unable to meet her steady gaze, her words highlighting his deepest fears. He was silent for a few minutes, but sensed she was waiting for him to answer her. Instead he asked a question. "How can you trust him so completely? You've known him for less than six months."

"How can you not trust him? You've known him for over three years." She bit back her next comment. He wouldn't learn anything if she started arguing with him. "Jim," she began again, "I will admit I have a bit of an advantage over you in the trusting department. I was born with the ability to see people's true motives, things they may not even know themselves. It has its advantages; I know who I can depend on, and who I can't. I can depend on Blair, as can you."

Ellison rolled his eyes. It wasn't enough that she was a sentinel, and immortal, now she was psychic too.

Dee tried again to get through to him. "The sentinel/guide relationship is more than just friendship. It's a spiritual bond between two people destined to be together, soulmates if you will. You can deny it all you want, but how else can you explain your relationship with Blair? He's not someone you would normally give the time of day to, Ellison, and here you are with him as your partner, your roommate for god's sake." Seeing he wasn't buying it, she tried another tact. "What would you say if I could show you that bond?"

"What do you mean?"

"Would you let me show you what I see when I look at the two of you?" She reached her hand out to him. "Take my hand, and close your eyes." Intrigued, Jim did as he was told, feeling a small surge of energy as her hand closed around his. "Let yourself relax into a light trance state, squeeze my hand when you feel like you're there."

Closing his eyes, Jim took a deep breath, held it, then let it out slowly, relaxing his body as he exhaled. The more relaxed he became, the more energy he could feel flowing from her to him. He tightened his grip on her hand, and heard her tell him to open his eyes. The first thing he focused on was Sandburg. His guide slept on, undisturbed, but now there was a faint glow around him, a dully gleaming copper color. A thick band of pulsing gold energy stretched from Blair to himself, anchored firmly at both ends. Somehow this seemed right to him, as if he instinctively knew what their bond should look like. Tearing his eyes away from Blair, he looked at Dee, and was so stunned he almost let go of her hand.

Where Blair glowed, she burned. Her aura was a brilliant blinding blue, edging into violet. Its borders snapped and crackled, small tendrils snaking off into the darkness surrounding her. A blue-white vine of power linked her to his guide, and if he stared hard enough at it, he could see it wrapping around the link between himself and Blair, the blue mingling with the gold. "What in the hell?" he whispered.

"We are bound together, Jim, you, Blair and I. It's how we found you when Kendall had you prisoner. We used this connection to find you in the spirit world." She let him look a while longer, then said, "Close your eyes." He did as he was told, and he could feel the energy fading. When her grip on his hand disappeared, he opened his eyes.

"How did you do that?" he asked, still amazed by what he had seen, but wary that it might have been a trick.

"I let you see through my eyes, the same way Lobo and I saw through yours, when Kendall had you. The two of us are connected through Blair; if he wasn't here, and I hadn't been touching him, I couldn't have done it. He is a conduit between us." Dee looked down at him, her expression affectionate.

Ellison didn't know whether to believe her or not. He knew what he'd seen, and it had felt real, but he didn't have enough experience with that kind of thing to know for sure. As for when he had been held captive at the lighthouse, Blair had told him a tale about taking a walk with Dee in the spirit world, and finding the jaguar. He'd had visions himself, but never anything as detailed and as complicated as what Blair had described. Of course, he hadn't had a 2,800 year-old Immortal priestess with him either. As fascinating as the concept was, it made him uneasy. Blair was his guide, after all, and it seemed wrong for him to have a connection to anyone else. He said as much to Dee.

Shrugging her shoulders, Diandra said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, Ellison, but it can't be undone. I did what I thought was right at the time, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can't go poking around in your mind or anything, if that's what you're afraid of. And I can't break the bond between you and Blair. Only death can do that. Believe me, you don't want to go through that."

Leaning back in his seat, Jim thought her words over. He still didn't trust her, not really, not as far as he himself was concerned, but he knew she would never hurt Blair. In that way, she was nothing like Alex Barnes. Focusing on her once again, he watched her work on her papers, balancing the stack on the arm of the sofa as she wrote, her left hand still resting on Blair's shoulder. As he regarded them, Blair's hand reached up and captured hers, tugging it down to rest against his chest, hugging it to him. With a little sigh of bliss, he burrowed closer to her, and slid back into a deep sleep. That innocent action bothered Jim tremendously, and he realized it wasn't the fact that Diandra was a sentinel, and Blair a guide that upset him. It was the fact that quite obviously, Blair was still in love with her, and she with him. Jealousy? Was that what he was feeling? Fearful of what he might find if he examined that emotion too closely, he slammed the door on it, and locked it away with everything else about himself he had trouble dealing with.

Getting to his feet, he shook his partner gently. "Come on, Chief, it's late. Let's get you across the hall and into bed." Dee shot him a look of puzzled irritation, but she made no move to stop him when he helped the still groggy anthropologist to his feet, and led him out the door.

Once they were gone, she locked up for the night, turning out the lights and heading up the stairs. Something had happened down there, something important, she felt, but she was damned if she could figure out what it was. "Oh well," she told herself with a yawn, as she changed her clothes, and slipped quietly into the bed with Megan, "it'll come out sooner or later. Nothing stays hidden forever."

Part 3

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