Immortal Champion

Part 4

Ellison replaced the phone slowly in its cradle, his mind whirling. Blair and Dee were alive! He felt Megan tugging at him. "Jim, damn it, what's going on? Was that them? Are Sandy and Dee okay?"

"Um, yeah, yeah, they're fine. I gotta talk to Simon."

Captain Banks chose that moment to enter the loft. "Jim, Megan, " he began, "the fire department's still working on the vehicle. It'll be awhile before we can examine it."

Jim jumped in before Banks could go any further. "Sandburg and Pallas are alive. They just called here."

The expression on Simon's face was a mixture of joy and confusion. "How is that possible? We haven't gone over the car yet, but the bomb squad is saying the explosion was probably triggered when the ignition was switched off. There's no way that can be done from a distance."

Shaking his head, Jim said, "They didn't give me all the details, but they wanted to let us know they were okay." He knew Simon was going to hate the next part. "They're going into hiding. Even I don't know where they are."

"You didn't try to talk them out of it? No, scratch that, Pallas is just as stubborn as you are, Jim. This had to have been her idea. Damn it!" The tall man took a cigar from his pocket and bit down on it in frustration.

"She wanted to know if we could keep it quiet about them escaping the explosion, sir, and I think that's a good idea. If Cristo thinks they're dead, he won't keep coming after them."

Simon sighed. "Yeah, yeah, I guess I can call in a few favors, make it look like they died."

Megan, who had kept silent until now, spoke up. "If I may make a suggestion, sir? No one but the three of us knows I wasn't in Dee's car also. She was supposed to have picked me up at the station when she got her car, but Jim and I left before they arrived. If Cristo thinks both Sandy and I are dead, he may slip up and we can catch him. If not, at least we'll be able to testify."

Simon gazed at the Inspector, his expression thoughtful. "A good idea, Connor, but just where are we going to put you until then? The safehouse is out, and here is too obvious. I'm sure Cristo will still be keeping an eye on Ellison, seeing if he's properly broken up over his partner's 'death'."

"I have a couple solutions for those problems, Captain," Jim said. "You still have that cabin up north of Seacouver, correct?" At Simon's nod, he continued, "I propose I take Megan up there until the trial."

"And just how are you going to keep Cristo from suspecting something, Jim?"

"I'll be dead too, sir. Despondent over the death of my partner, and two other people I was supposed to be protecting, I'll have a little 'accident' while cleaning my gun." The expression on his face was deadly serious.

Simon chewed the end of his cigar, knowing that this was the best plan they could come up with, but the vision of his friend eating his gun after Sandburg's death hit very close to home. "All right, Jim, I'll see what I can arrange. I'll put Rafe and Brown on the investigation, and Joel on getting the two of you out of here without being seen. I'm going to try to keep this in Major Crimes, with people we know we can trust. I won't, however, let them know Sandburg and Pallas are alive. They'll have to know about you, though."

Jim nodded in agreement. "Thanks, Simon, and I know Dee and Sandburg appreciate your help also." He glanced at Megan. "I guess we should start packing for a week in the woods."

"I'll get my stuff together," she said, and headed across the hall to Dee's apartment.

Simon watched her go, then said, "Are you sure the two of you are going to be all right? Nothing against Connor, but, and I hate to say it, I feel better when Sandburg is the one watching your back."

"I wish things were different, too, Simon, but I think she'll do fine. Chief's been working with her, and she has the raw talent for being a guide; we worked okay together on that robbery last week."

Despite his words, Simon could see Jim was worried. "How's she holding up?" he asked.

A small smile touched Jim's lips. "She's tougher than she looks, sir. Diandra's been working with her, working on getting her confidence in herself back, and I think things will be better now that Connor's chosen to take charge of her own defense."

"What about Sandburg and Pallas? Should I be worrying about them? This Sentinel/Guide stuff gives me a headache, and now that there are two of you... "

Jim felt a small knot of envy form in his stomach at the thought of Diandra and Blair together on a secluded island. "I don't think you have anything to worry about there, Simon. I'm sure the two of them are welcoming the time alone."

If Simon didn't know better, he could have sworn the detective's words held a trace of bitterness.

Blair followed Dee into the bedroom of her apartment over MacLeod's dojo. Joe had dropped them off, promising he'd be back in an hour or so, giving them a chance to get cleaned up and packed, while he picked up some supplies for them. Sitting down gingerly on the bed, he dropped his backpack to the floor, and rubbed his eyes wearily. Despite the sleep he'd gotten in Joe's van, he was exhausted.

"You want the shower first, Lobo?" Dee called from the bathroom. She stuck her head around the corner of the door.

Blair shook his head. "You go ahead, you need it more than I do."

She gave him a wry grin. "Thanks, I think."

"You know that wasn't what I meant... "

She wandered the rest of the way into the bedroom, and dropped to her knees beside him. "You sure you're okay with this?" she asked.

"With the shower? Yeah, you can go first." Seeing her raised eyebrow, he said, "Oh, you mean with us running away and leaving Jim and Megan to fend for themselves? I understand it, but I don't have to like it. I'd feel better if we were all together."

Dee took hold of his hand. "I'd feel better if Cristo were dead, and this was all over. Have a little faith in Ellison, Lobo. He will keep Megan safe, and he knows I won't let anything happen to you." She reached up to stroke his cheek, and he pressed his face against her hand, finding solace in the intimate contact.

"I wish I knew what his plan was... " he started to say, when his backpack trilled. Snagging his phone out of the front pocket, he said, "Hello."

"Chief, it's Jim. I just wanted to let you know everything is taken care of here. Simon is going to issue a press release in about an hour, stating that you and Dee were killed when her SUV exploded. I just don't want you to worry about the other names in the statement."

Blair shot Dee a puzzled glance. "What other names?"

"Megan was in the car with you, and I had a little accident cleaning my gun," Ellison said, failing to keep the self-satisfied tone out of his voice. "That way it'll look like all Cristo's troubles are over, and maybe he'll lay off, figuring that the grand jury will fall through without the star witnesses."

"So we're all dead... where are the two of you going to hide out?"

"Simon's cabin is close to where Dee's taking you. Megan and I are going to head up there. That way we'll be nearby, but if Cristo suspects anything, he'll have to split his forces to get at us."

Dee nodded at Blair to show she'd heard Jim, then rose and headed for the shower. "You still there, Chief?" Jim asked.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm here. Dee got everything; she's gone to take a shower."

Ellison's tone softened, "How are you doing, Blair? Are you okay with this?"

The anthropologist laughed. "Man, Jim, you two are so much alike it's scary. Dee just asked me the same question. Yeah, I'm okay. I'm better now that I know what you're up to."

"You weren't hurt in the explosion? How in the world did you manage not to get killed? Not that I'm complaining, but... "

"I... I'm just sore all over, and I sprained my knee, but other than that, I'm fine. Dee yelled at me to run just before the bomb went off; I think she sensed it somehow, but too late to stop it." He lowered his voice to a whisper, "She died, Jim. It was awful, and all I could think was 'thank god it wasn't you in the car with me'."

"Yeah, well, that's all I could think of too," Jim replied. "That was way too close, Chief. Look, they're getting ready to whisk us out of here, so if I don't talk to you before the court date, be careful, and stay safe. Take care of each other; watch her back, okay? I want to see you walk into that courtroom on Monday and blow Cristo away."

Blair managed to speak around the lump in his throat. "Sure, Jim, we'll be careful. You too, okay?"

"That's a promise, Chief." Blair cut the connection, and put the phone away, saying a silent prayer for all of them.

Megan sat huddled in the passenger seat of a borrowed Bronco, watching as Ellison skillfully maneuvered the off-road vehicle along a one-lane dirt road. The snow that had started a few minutes after the fateful phone call from Dee had increased steadily as they'd climbed further into the mountains, and made driving treacherous. She was glad the Sentinel was at the wheel instead of her. She'd lived in the States for a couple years now, but had never gotten the hang of winter driving, seeing as Cascade was known more for its rain than its snow.

The past few hours had been a rollercoaster of actions and emotions. First had been the explosion, and the overwhelming grief she'd felt at the news that Sandy and Dee had perished, followed closely on its heels by the indescribable joy at the revelation they were alive. She knew from listening to Ellison's one-sided conversations with both Blair and Dee that the two of them should be dead, but weren't. She suspected there was a story there, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth, at least not at the moment. But the next time she was alone with Sandy, she would get it out of him. Her lips curved up in a smile at that notion.

A sharp gasp from Jim jolted her from her thoughts. "Ellison! What is it?" He was clutching the steering wheel tightly, every muscle in his body rigid. "Jim!" she screamed, trying to get through to him, as the truck headed for the steep drop-off at the edge of the road.

Blair crossed the wood floor of the dojo, and headed out the exit, carefully negotiating the icy stairs to the alley. Dee was still upstairs packing, more weapons he suspected, and had asked him to go see if Joe had returned. Setting his bags on the ground, he peered down the narrow street, wondering if the headlights turning at the corner belonged to Joe's van.

The hauntingly familiar sound of steel being drawn from a scabbard reached his ears, and he turned in the direction of the noise. A tall, trench-coated figure stepped from the shadows into the yellow light from the security lamp. "I am Oren Hale of the Philadelphia Hales, and I challenge you, Duncan MacLeod," he said, his voice level, and quite pleasant.

Blair stared at him, mouth open. This guy thought he was MacLeod? What drugs was he taking? After a few shocked seconds, he found his voice, "Sorry, buddy, you have the wrong guy. MacLeod's out of the country."

The lean man shrugged, and lazily brought his sword, a two-handed bastard sword, Blair noted, into a ready position. "Very well, then I shall have to make do with you."

He took a step forward, and Blair automatically stepped back, casting his gaze about for a weapon. This guy thought he was immortal? How stupid could this guy be? Blair didn't have a Buzz... oh, shit, he realized, he's picking up on Dee, who at two floors up was well within Immortal radar. "Now would be a good time to make an appearance, Dee," he thought, as he moved away from Hale's first swing.

"Caught you out without a weapon, eh little one? Too bad for you." He swung the huge blade again, and Blair darted to the side, feeling his injured knee protest. Having located nothing he could use to defend himself, Blair called upon Dee's training, ducking under the sword and landing a punch to Hale's midsection before dancing out of range.

They circled each other, Hale wary now that he knew Blair was going to put up a fight. For his part, Blair watched for an opening, and when he saw the tip of the heavy sword lower, he went for it, stepping inside the Immortal's guard and nailing him with a right roundhouse kick to the head. Hale staggered back, and Blair moved forward to continue the attack, but the slick pavement and his weak leg were his undoing. He slipped, and as he scrambled to stay on his feet, his left leg gave out, throwing him to his knees. A shadow fell over him, and he looked up to see Hale poised to deliver the killing stroke. Blair's whispered, "I'm sorry, Jim," echoed in the snowy silence.

Grabbing the steering wheel with both hands, Megan yanked it to the right as she struggled to reach the brake. The Bronco fishtailed on the snow-covered trail, but headed away from the cliff, straight toward a line of trees. Jamming the transmission into neutral, she fought for control, sprawled awkwardly across the still unresponsive Jim. Missing a head-on collision with a Ponderosa pine by inches, the truck sideswiped a couple more, and came to a stop well off to the side of the road. Putting it into park, she turned to Jim, shaking him and calling his name. His eyes were open, but they were fixed on some point she couldn't see, far off in the distance, and deep inside him. If this was a zone out, it was like none she'd ever witnessed before. Still, maybe the tried and true method would bring him out of it. She began to rub his hand, speaking to him softly.

Time slowed, seconds becoming minutes, and minutes hours. Blair felt the cold, wet snow soaking through the knees of his jeans as clearly as he saw the blade descending toward him. Footsteps pounded on wood planks, and he looked up past Hale's silhouette to the large black mare leaping over the stair rail. Her body twisted in the air, and shifted into Dee, her katana flashing in the faint light, sliding through flesh and bone and sinew as though it were paper.

She landed on her feet, facing the other Immortal, as dead fingers released their grip on his sword. Her free hand catching at his lapel kept his body from falling on Blair as Hale's head dropped to the ground, rolling to a stop a few feet away.

Time sped up to normal as Dee let go of the dead man, yelling, "Lobo, run!" A white swirling mist surrounded them, rising from Hale's body. Blair tried to stand, but his knee gave out again, Dee catching him as he fell. Energy crackled, and a bolt of lightening struck her from behind. Power surged through every cell of her body, down her arms, out through her hands, and into Blair. Never in his worst nightmares had he ever imagined such pain. A scream from the depths of his soul spilled from his lips, joining her voice in an agonized duet.

Megan continued to talk to Jim, begging him, pleading him to come back to her. Sandy would never forgive her if anything happened to Jim. "Come on, Jim, snap out of it!" she growled in frustration. "You wouldn't do this to Sandy!"

At the mention of his partner's name, Jim twitched, and Megan felt relief flood through her, until the twitch turned into violent convulsions. Throwing herself over him, she tried to keep him from injuring himself.

The Quickening lasted an eternity, lighting up the alley as bright as day. Bolts of energy continued to pour from the dead Immortal, bouncing off the walls, the stairs, the dumpster, shorting out the street lamps, and always, always grounding to the Champion and Guide caught in their deadly grasp.

It finally ended, leaving behind broken glass and a small fire burning in a puddle of oil. Diandra slumped to the ground, her arms still wrapped around the anthropologist, her body humming with power. Inhaling a deep breath of ozone charged air, her head cleared. "Lobo?" she whispered, her throat raw from screaming. Turning him on his back, she listened for his heartbeat, finding it racing. Brushing her hand across his face, she found his skin cold and clammy, and no warm breath caressed her fingers. Goddess, he wasn't breathing!

Jim's convulsions went on forever, or so it seemed to Megan, though in reality, she knew the episode couldn't have lasted for much more than a minute. When he collapsed against her, his body limp, her fingers went immediately to the pulse at his throat, finding it strong, but very fast. Leaning over, she listened for the sound of air rushing into his lungs, but there was none. Bloody hell, he wasn't breathing!

Quickly realizing that there was not enough room in the cab to work on him, Megan kicked open the passenger side door of the truck. Unhooking his seatbelt, she dragged him out of the Bronco into the snow, praying she remembered her first aid.

Laying Blair carefully down on the cold cement, Diandra tilted his head back, making sure his airway was open. Pinching his nose shut, she leaned over him breathing into his mouth, then waited for a count of five before breathing for him again. "Come on, Lobo, don't do this to me," she pleaded, feeling hot tears trickling down her cheeks. Another breath from her filled his lungs. "Damn it, Blair, Jim is going to kill me! Breath goddamn you!"

She was leaning over for the fourth time when he coughed, then inhaled deeply, his eyes flickering open, his expression frightened. Gathering him up in her arms, Dee rocked him, sheltering him, hearing his thundering heartbeat slowly calm. "It's okay, Lobo," she whispered, "it's going to be okay." She felt his tears wetting her neck, and she let him sob against her shoulder. Kneeling with him in the darkness, she held him close as the snow continued to fall down on them like soft white feathers from the black sky.

Megan bent over Ellison, her warm breath filling his lungs a third time. She sat back on her calves, counting the beat of his pulse under her fingertips, then leaned forward again. One more breath, and this time he convulsed as his eyes snapped open and he sucked in a lungful of air on his own. He lay there in the snow bank, shaking, as she gripped his hand tightly. "Jim, can you hear me?" she asked.

He coughed again, then with her help slowly sat up. "Yeah, I can hear you," he said. "What happened?"

"I'm not sure. You kind of gasped, and I looked over at you, and it was like you were zoned, but you weren't. The car started to go off the road, so I managed to get it stopped, and then you went into some kind of seizure."

At her words, Jim began to remember bits and pieces. There was cold, darkness, and fear, and pain shooting through his leg. His guide's voice whispered he was sorry, and then there was agony, every nerve ending frying. Tortured screams were followed by the most incredible wave of pleasure, and then nothing. Nothing at all until he'd heard Megan calling to him. "Blair," he said softly, "something's happened to Blair."

Blair continued to shiver against Dee, and she realized he was in shock. Adjusting her grip on him, she got to her feet, the guide cradled against her chest. She turned toward the stairs, intending to go back inside, when Joe's van slid to a halt behind her. The Watcher pushed open the side door for her, and said, "Get him in here, Dee." Sliding him into the seat, she wrapped the blanket tightly around him, and closed the door.

Methodically, she took care of business, tossing their belongings into the back of the van, up against the seat. She locked up the dojo, pocketed the keys, then turned to Hale's remains. Dragging his headless body around to the rear of the van, she hoisted it inside, and followed it with his head and his sword. Slamming the double doors shut, Dee walked around to the passenger side. She climbed in the back seat next to Blair, and almost had her door closed when he lunged across the seat, sprawling over her lap as he just managed to hang his head outside before he vomited.

When he finally sat back up, Joe handed him a bottle of water. Squirting some in his mouth, he swished it around, then leaned over Dee again to spit. "Ohhhh, god," he moaned as he sat up again. "I feel awful." Turning to face Dee, he caught sight of Hale's body, and his stomach lurched again, but he was able to keep from being sick. "I can't believe he was going to kill me," he whispered.

Dee shut the van door, and gestured for Joe to drive. "Take us down by the docks. I need to get rid of him."

Joe put the vehicle into gear as Blair leaned forward, putting his head between his knees. "I can't believe you killed him... "

Dee rested her hand on his back comfortingly, and felt him flinch away from her. Slowly she placed her hand back in her lap, her world turning upside down.

"Are you sure you can stand?" Megan asked Jim as she helped him to his feet.

He was a little unsteady, but quickly regained his balance. He took a short walk around the Bronco, inspecting the damage. Most of it was superficial, but there was no way they were going to get it back on the road without a tow truck. Climbing in the still open passenger door, Jim shut the ignition off and took the keys. Tossing Megan's pack out to her, he shouldered his own, and shut the door.

As an afterthought, he pulled out his cell phone, and switched it on. Diandra had been right; there was no reception, at least under the trees. Punching it off, he put it away, forcing himself to concentrate on getting them the rest of the way to the cabin, and pushing his fears for Blair to the back of his mind. He had to depend on Dee's ability to keep him safe. "Come on," he said. "I think it's about a half mile to Simon's place."

Stepping out onto the faint outline of the road, he began to break a trail, Megan following silently behind.

Joe had driven to the warehouse section of Seacouver's piers, and stopped outside an abandoned building. Dee hopped out to scout the area, her gaze lingering for a long moment on Blair before she shut the van door.

Once she was gone, Joe turned around in his seat, regarding the young Watcher thoughtfully. Blair was huddled under the blanket, his feet up on the seat, his arms curled around his legs, the expression on his face one of pure misery. "Blair," Joe said quietly, "if you won't talk to Dee about what happened, talk to me."

Blair shook his head. "I can't, Joe. I don't know how to describe what I'm feeling. I guess I'm just mostly numb." He glanced quickly at the body in the back. "I saw part of Dee's fight with Kendall, and that's what it was, a duel, a test between the two of them to see who was the best. At least Kendall had a chance, Hale never knew she was coming." He leaned his forehead against his knees, and when he spoke again, his voice was muffled. "She executed him because of me... "

The older man's hand tangled in the guide's hair, pulling his head up so he was looking at him. "Listen to me, Blair. Don't you dare, don't you dare put the blame for this on yourself, or on Dee. Hale's the one who went hunting tonight; all she did was protect you." Tears glistened in Blair's eyes, and Joe softened his tone. "You've been through a horrible experience tonight, one no other Watcher in the world has been through. For all the Immortal battles we've observed, no other mortal Watcher has ever experienced a Quickening. There's nothing I can say or do to help you deal with that, though god knows I wish I could. But don't turn your back on the one person who can help you, who went through the same thing you did tonight."

Blair shook his head, feeling the hold Joe had on him relax into a caress. "I don't know, Joe. I'm just so shook up, so scared... "

"Then let her help you, don't shut Dee out. She loves you for christ's sake. If she could take away everything you're feeling, if she could turn back the clock and make everything as it was, she would. Someone like her comes along once in a lifetime, Blair. You are incredibly lucky to have a second chance with her. Don't blow it." He turned to stare out the windshield at the still falling snow, letting the younger man consider his words.

Blair leaned his head on his knees again, feeling tears beginning to slide down his face, and this time he didn't try to stop them. "Jim," he thought, "I wish you were here to tell me what to do."

An hour later the weary sentinel and fledgling guide trudged through the last of the underbrush into a small clearing. Looming in the center of the open space was the dark shadow of what Megan hoped was Simon's cabin.

Climbing the three stairs to the enclosed porch, Jim felt above the door jam and produced a key. Unlocking the door, he stepped inside, flipping the light switch. To his relief, the lights came on. A power failure was not something he wanted to deal with after what they had already been through.

Setting his pack down, Jim headed to the fireplace, using the well-stocked woodbin to get a fire going. As the room warmed up, both Jim and Megan shed their outer garments. While she checked out the cabin, Jim once again pulled out his phone, finding that they were now far enough above the treeline for him to get a signal, albeit a weak one. Punching in Sandburg's speed dial, Jim paced the small living room while the call went through. When the phone was finally answered, the voice on the other end was unfamiliar.

"Who is this?" Ellison asked, his internal alarm going off.

"Joe Dawson. Is this Detective Ellison?"

"Yes, where's Sandburg?"

"He's right here, Detective, just give him a second."

There was the sound of movement, and the phone changing hands. "Jim?" Blair's voice was strained.

"Chief? What is it? What happened? Don't tell me nothing, because I felt whatever it was."

"I'm okay, Jim, really I am," Blair replied, though Ellison clearly hear the tremor in his voice. "I just... I can't explain over the phone, not really. I got caught in a Quickening, but I'm fine, Dee's fine, we're all fine here, really. We're just going to be later getting to MacLeod's than we thought. We had to make an extra stop."

Caught in a Quickening? How was that possible... though it certainly explained what he'd gone through, if he was to believe Dee's description of one. Jim was puzzled by his last comment. "An extra stop? Chief, what could be more important than getting you to safety?"

He heard his guide's heartrate pick up. "We had to, um, dispose of some extra baggage. Look, Jim, Dee's coming back, and we need to get going. If I can, I'll call you in the morning, fill you in on everything, okay?"

"Okay, Chief." Jim cut the connection, wondering what in the hell had happened to them. No matter how hard Blair had been trying to hide it, he knew it had been something traumatic. For the millionth time that night, he wished they were together, and he sent a prayer to whatever deity watched over guides and sentinels, champions and companions, to keep all of them safe.

Blair watched Dee approach the van, his mind turning over what Jim had said. He had felt the Quickening? Like he had felt Blair's emotional distress a week ago at the police station? Jim had never shown that kind of empathy before. Before what? What had changed? He looked up as Dee opened the back door of the van. Dee, that was the change, Dee was back in their lives.

With a minimum of effort, she grabbed Hale's body and slung it over her shoulders, heading off into the darkness. She returned a few moments later for his head and the can of paint thinner that had been sitting in a box in the back of the van along with some painting supplies. As she walked away again, Blair asked Joe, "I thought she was just going to dump him here. What is she doing?"

Joe turned round in his seat again. "Immortals decompose more rapidly than mortals. It has something to do with losing their Quickening. A couple of days out in the elements, and there's no trace left. The only thing that hampers that is cold. If she just left him in a dumpster, he might be found. She's going to burn him."

Closing his eyes, Blair ran both hands through his hair. "I'm really, really sorry I asked... " He felt Joe's firm grip on his shoulder.

"You haven't really talked about this have you?"

Blair shook his head. "No, not about the details. She told me what she was, and about the Game, and I... I accepted that and then she left. But that was all in the abstract, kind of like the Chronicles. When I start thinking of all those Immortals as living, breathing people, it's overwhelming."

"Blair, she's not any different than you are. She has the same thoughts, the same feelings, the same urges."

"She kills people... " he whispered.

"Not for sport, Blair, not for pleasure. She kills only to survive, and to protect her family. You realize that's what you and Jim, and Dana and Mulder, and your friend Megan are to her, don't you? You are her family... "

"Her tribe... " he said softly.

"Her tribe, if you will. That instinct to protect is deeply ingrained in her. You've read her Chronicle, you know her, you know she takes her responsibilities seriously."

"She has to," he murmured, "it's in her genetic code."

Dee returned before Joe could ask what he meant by that. She hesitated by the back door for a moment, then climbed into the front with Joe. Blair felt his stomach knot. He knew it was stupid, but for some reason it hurt that she had chosen not to join him in the back seat again. Maybe she just wanted to give him some extra room, since it would be a long, slow drive to the cabin in the still falling snow. Yeah, right. He knew a brush-off when he saw it. He laid down on the seat, and pulled the blanket up to his chin, trying not to think about how much his knee hurt, how much he missed Jim, and how much he wanted the comforting warmth of Dee's arms around him. Closing his eyes, he tried to sleep.

He must have dozed off, because when he awoke, he could hear Joe and Dee speaking in hushed tones. Joe was talking about what happened in the alley. "I turned the corner, and saw this guy with a sword confronting Blair. I had no idea what was going on, and then they were fighting." Blair could hear the awe in the Watcher's voice. "I can't believe Blair went after him like that. He had no weapon, nothing, and yet he stood his ground. Hell, from what I saw, he would have had him, except he slipped. I wanted to help then, but there was nothing I could do. I never would have reached them in time to stop him from being killed. And then you came out of nowhere, like some kind of avatar... How did you know he was in trouble?"

Dee sighed. "I felt Hale's buzz, and then Lo... Blair's fear, and I went running." She shook her head. "There was nothing else I could have done. I didn't want to kill him, but there was no other way to stop Hale from completing that blow. I shouldn't have sent Blair downstairs alone. I'm supposed to be protecting him, not sending him out to be slaughtered!"

"Dee, you couldn't have known an Immortal would go after him." Joe glanced at her quickly, his gaze curious. "Unless, of course, he's one of you. You haven't been holding out on me, have you? Blair's not Immortal, is he?"

She rubbed her temples with her fingertips before answering him. "No, no, of course not, Joe. But he does have a buzz. It's faint, but there. I can sense it, and other Immortals can too, or at least Methos can." Blair stifled a surprised gasp. This was news to him!

"He's not a pre-immortal?" Joe asked

"No. I think it has to do with his being a Guide. I've felt it in others who weren't immortal; they have a stronger life force than normal, and to me, at least, it is similar to a buzz. Most of the people I've sensed with it were more closely in touch with the spirit world than others. People like shamans, and spiritualists, and sentinels and guides." Since when did Joe know about him being a Guide? What had she been telling him?

Joe seemed satisfied with that answer, and changed the subject slightly. "So did he actually share the Quickening with you?"

"I'm not sure," she replied. "I haven't really had a chance to ask him." She shifted in her seat to gaze at Blair. "I shouldn't have grabbed him. Maybe then he wouldn't have felt what I felt. Hell, I don't know, maybe he would have been hurt worse if I hadn't been filtering the Quickening energy. Or maybe he wouldn't have felt anything at all if we weren't bound."

Joe looked at her again. "What do you mean by 'bound'?"

Diandra sighed. "It's difficult to explain, Joe. I bound our life forces, our Quickenings if you will, together when we were searching for Ellison, when Kendall had him. It's what lets me know when he's in trouble, or upset. There are times I regret that decision. I did it because it was necessary at the time, and because I thought we would be together. Now I don't know if that will ever happen." The pain in her voice cut deep into Blair, and he clasped his hand over his mouth to keep from making a noise that would give him away.

Joe was quiet for a long time, then he said, "So what are you going to do when this is all over, when Blair has testified, and is no longer in danger?"

When she answered, Dee's voice was weary. "I don't know, Joe, I don't know. I was supposed to die in that car bomb explosion, and right now, being dead sounds pretty good. I can just pack up and leave and start over somewhere else. Preferably somewhere secluded, where nothing ever happens, and there are no Blairs to turn my life upside down. Maybe I'll move back to Australia, back to the Outback. Or find a deserted island and spend my time lying on the beach."

"I'll miss you," Joe said simply.

"I'll miss you too, Joe. You've been a good friend." She reached across the small space between them, and gave his arm a squeeze.

They fell silent then, and Blair was left alone with his thoughts, and his mixed up, jumbled emotions. Dee was going to leave, really leave this time, after she'd promised, she'd sworn that they would try to make things work between them. He couldn't believe she would break that promise, and yet he could understand it. Who had he been to think he had anything to offer her? She probably found most of the world's population incredibly boring just on general principles. He tried very hard to dredge up some anger, some rage at what she was planning, but all he could manage was an incredible sadness and a horrible sense of loss. He pulled the blanket closer around him, and tried to hold back his tears.

Part 5

Immortal Series