"Simon! You have got to be kidding!" Blair burst out. "Dee didn't murder Kendall; she saved Jim's life! You can't arrest her!"
Banks looked at the upset young man, and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Sandburg, the ME says Kendall's head was cut off with a sharp object, like a sword. I only know one person at that scene last night who is experienced in the use of swords."
Dee stepped forward, her arm encircling Blair's shoulders. "It's okay, Lobo, Captain Banks is just doing his job. Tell you what, do me a big favor, and call Joe while I go change. It's speed dial 5 on the phone in the kitchen. Is that all right with you, Captain?"
Banks hesitated, not wanting to let her out of his sight. There was another knock on the door. "That must be my backup," he said, opening the door. Megan Conner stood there, her hand raised to knock again.
"I got your message, Captain," she said, "but why did you want to meet here?" Simon stepped back, allowing her to enter. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of Blair and Dee. "Sandy? What's going on?"
Blair shook his head. "Ask Simon," he said.
"Dr. Pallas is under arrest, Connor. Would you escort her upstairs so she can change her clothes?" With a nod, Megan followed Dee up the stairs.
Blair walked back into the kitchen, and picked up the phone, hitting the speed dial. It rang three times, then Dawson's gravelly voice said, "Joe's."
Feeling a sudden sense of relief at that single word, Blair said, "Joe, this is Blair Sandburg."
"Blair! Is Dee all right? Judy reported in, said there was a Quickening last night, but she couldn't get close enough to tell who the winner was... " The older man's anxiety came over the wire loud and clear.
"She's fine, Joe, just fine," he reassured him. "Only we have a little problem. She's just been arrested for Kendall's death. You don't happen to know a lawyer who specializes in this kind of thing, do you?"
Joe hesitated, then said, "No, but I know a couple other people who can help. It may take them a few hours to get to Cascade. You tell Dee to hold on, okay?"
Blair's fingers tightened on the receiver. "Dee's fine, Joe. I'm the one who's a basket case."
"Blair, it's going to be okay. She won't go to jail, not for killing scum like Kendall. If worst comes to worst, we can always arrange an 'accident' for her."
"Somehow, Joe, that doesn't make me feel much better."
"Just tell her help is on the way, " Joe said, then hung up.
Blair set the phone down, then walked back out to the living room. Simon had moved to the studio, and was studying the various swords on display. "She know how to use all of these?" he asked Blair as he came to stand beside him.
"Yes," Blair said, seeing no reason not to tell the truth. "Simon, you can't do this to her. She didn't murder anyone. If anything, it was self-defense."
"That's not the way Jim tells it," Simon replied quietly. "He says she went there with a sword. She probably had every intention of killing Kendall, just like she did those women in DC."
Blair ran his hand through his hair in frustration. What in the hell was Jim doing? He knew there was no way the truth would stand up in court. Hell, no one would believe it. Was Jim willing to lie to get back at her? "This sucks, man, this really sucks." He left the police captain and headed across the hall to change his clothes. If Dee was going to be arrested, he was at least going to be there for her every step of the way.
True to his word, Blair was with Dee the whole time. He rode with her to the station, stayed with her through booking, mug shots and fingerprinting. He was at her side when she was finally taken upstairs to Major Crimes for questioning. Every head in the bullpen turned as Diandra came through the door, her warrior's bearing and fire undimmed by the handcuffs she wore. Word had already reached the unit regarding Blair's relationship with the suspect, and Dee's sentinel hearing picked up various comments about her physical attributes, and how Blair was a lucky dog.
She could see Ellison waiting in Captain Banks office, and before she could stop him, Blair went for him. She started after him, but Megan wrestled her into a chair. "Nope, you stay here," the Aussie told her, planting herself between the Immortal and the door.
Flying into Simon's office, Blair slammed the door shut behind him, rattling the glass. "How could you! How could you do this Jim! She's done nothing to you, nothing! She saved my life; she saved your life! If it hadn't been for her, you would be dead!"
Ellison stared at the angry guide, his jaw clenching and unclenching in an effort to control himself. "It's out of my hands, Chief. Simon came to me this morning, asked me if Diandra had a sword on her last night. I couldn't lie to him, Blair, I told him the truth. He would have figured it out anyway, it was so obvious. What he did with that information is not my fault."
Blair hesitated, a furrow creasing his brow. "So all you told him was she had a sword?"
The detective nodded. "I couldn't tell him anything else, Chief, he never would have believed me if I told the whole story. Hell, I don't even know the whole story. All I know is she should be dead right now, not sitting there in the bullpen looking like some goddess. What in the hell is she?"
The younger man shook his head. "I can't tell you, Jim. I want to man, I want to, because I know it would make everything okay between us, but I can't."
Jim sighed. The anger he'd felt the night before had faded in the wake of Diandra's wrath, and now all he felt was resignation. If his guide chose to go with her, there was nothing he could do to stop him. Hell, she could take better care of him than he could, she had proven that last night. "Blair, look, I'm sorry about last night. I said some really ugly things to you, things I wish I could take back."
"It's okay, Jim," Blair said, visibly relaxing. "I knew you would cool off, and everything would be okay."
"Yeah, well, I shouldn't have lost my temper," Jim answered quietly. "I seem to be doing that a lot around you lately."
"Dee has a theory about that. She thinks you knew her senses were returning before she did, and that threw your Sentinel instincts into overdrive," Blair said. "I don't have time to explain everything to you now, and Dee tells the story way better than I do anyway. We weren't trying to hide anything from you; everything just happened at once, her senses, and Kendall, and you getting kidnapped."
Jim dreaded asking the next question, but he knew he had to. "And your relationship with her? Are you her guide?"
Blair chewed the inside of his lip for a long moment before answering, his eyes going to Dee's through the window of Simon's office. She nodded, and he opened his mouth to speak, but saw the look of concentration on Jim's face, and knew he was listening to Dee.
In a voice pitched for sentinel ears, and her hand covering her mouth, Dee spoke. "Detective Ellison, Blair is my companion, yes. I have no doubt, however, that that is only temporary. I believe my senses returned with the threat of Kendall. I have faith that they will return to dormancy now that Kendall is dead. I know what it's like to lose a guide, Ellison. I would not willingly wish that on anyone."
"What? What did she say, Jim?" Blair asked, as the sentinel returned his attention to his partner.
"She said she thinks her heightened senses are only temporary."
Simon entering the office interrupted any further discussion. "You're not talking about what happened last night are you? Because both of you are witnesses, and I don't want you comparing notes. It's going to be difficult enough making a case against her without you two trying to couch things in her favor." He gave both of them a stern look.
"I'll go sit with her while we wait for her lawyer," Blair said, slipping out of the office.
Jim watched him go, shaking his head slowly as he saw the guide perch on the edge of the desk next to Dee, his hands going to her shoulders, as she leaned her head against his wrist. Just watching them together was tearing him up inside. He clamped a lid firmly on his emotions. He was not going to lose it the way he did last night. Taking a seat, he tried to figure out what kind of statement he was going to give his captain.
Another hour passed, and still there was no sign of the help Joe had promised. Dee had been moved to an interrogation room, and Simon had asked her a few questions, which she refused to answer. Simon then tried his questions on Blair, with the same amount of success. Frustrated, Banks returned to his office to find Jim waiting for him.
"Any luck?" he asked.
Shaking his head, Captain Banks poured himself a cup of coffee and sat down behind his desk. "It would really help if one of you told me what happened last night. Otherwise, I'll just have to make something up based on the evidence, and that's not going to look very good for Sandburg's friend."
"I told you, Simon, I was injured, and I missed most of what went on, seeing I was at the base of the lighthouse, and the action was all going on at the top."
"What about your senses? What did they pick up?"
"I heard a sword fight, sir. Clashing steel, that kind of thing."
"No one said anything?"
"No, no one said anything."
"Does the reason you and Sandburg seem to be protecting her have anything to do with her being a Sentinel?"
Jim's eyebrows shot up. "You know about that?"
Sighing, the captain leaned back in his chair. "I didn't get to where I am on my good looks alone, Ellison. When I see Sandburg and her working a crime scene the way the two of you do, I put two and two together. So if that's what you're hiding, the cat's already out of the bag."
Jim shifted uneasily in his seat. He hated lying to his friend, but how could he explain what happened? "Sir, if I could speak off the record?"
"Of course, Jim. I have a feeling I'm not going to hear the story any other way."
With that reassurance, Jim told Simon everything he knew.
Diandra had been moved back to the bullpen, the interrogation room needing to be used for another suspect. Blair sat next to her, his fingers entwined with hers, watching the goings on in Captain Banks' office with interest. "What's he saying?" he asked Dee.
"Jim's telling him what happened, or what he suspects happened." She paused, then continued. "Now Simon is saying Jim must be crazy, and how in the hell does he expect that testimony to stand up in court. Jim's saying he knows it won't, and Simon's saying he's going to go with the evidence at the scene, since Jim's story won't even make a good defense."
Blair, who had perked up at the news Simon thought Jim was nuts, slumped in his seat. "This is so not good," he said.
"No," Dee said, "it's not. A good lawyer will probably get me off, but it will take time, and mean a trial. My reputation will be ruined, and I'll have to start over again under another name in another city. It's moments like these being an Immortal really sucks." She laughed lightly as she realized Blair's vocabulary was rubbing off on her. Mid giggle, she tensed, and Blair felt her grip on his hand tighten.
"What? Dee, what's wrong?" Gazing at her face, he could see she was somewhere inside herself, then she came back to him. "Is it another Immortal?"
She nodded, a broad smile on her face. "It's a friend, a good friend." Turning in her chair, she watched the door until a petite redhead followed by a tall dark haired man entered Major Crimes. Blair's jaw dropped in surprise; the woman was the twin of the Companion he'd seen in his dream.
The man inclined his head toward her in way of greeting, and the woman gave Dee a thousand-watt smile. Then they were all business as they surveyed the bullpen. "Which one of you is Captain Banks?" the man finally asked.
Both Simon and Jim had left the office when they had noticed the arrival of the two strangers. "I am," Banks said, stepping forward. "And you are?"
"Agent Fox Mulder, FBI," the man replied, producing a badge. "This is my partner, Agent Scully. We understand you apprehended an escapee from a federal prison, one Evan Kendall." His hazel eyes looked at Banks expectantly.
"Actually," Jim said, "Kendall is in the morgue."
"And you are?" Agent Scully asked.
"Detective Jim Ellison. We spoke on the phone a month and a half ago."
She graced him with the slightest of smiles. "Ah, yes, I remember that conversation well. Did you ever find the information you were looking for?"
"Not exactly," Ellison muttered.
Mulder cleared his throat. "About Mr. Kendall, was he killed trying to resist arrest?"
"Not quite," Simon said. "He kidnapped Detective Ellison, and was killed during a rescue attempt."
Mulder shook his head and tch'd tch'd with his tongue. "Too bad. Of course, seeing as Kendall was a federal fugitive at the time of his death, I'd say the Bureau has jurisdiction in the investigation."
Scully produced a sheaf of papers from her briefcase. "These are orders from the Assistant Director of the FBI, ordering you to turn over all evidence and paperwork regarding Kendall to us. This of course, includes any suspects."
Simon knew an end run when he saw it. "Brown!" he barked. "Get me all the evidence and files in the Kendall case. Your suspect is over there, Agents." Turning on his heel, he stalked into his office, and closed the door forcefully.
Mulder stepped over to Ellison, and extended his hand. "Nice to finally meet you, Detective. Didn't take my advice, did you? Couldn't resist opening Pandora's box."
"Unfortunately not," Jim sighed. He knew Simon was angry, but in a way he was glad Diandra's friends had come through for her. It would save Sandburg and himself from making fools of themselves on the witness stand.
Scully moved to Dee's side, giving Blair a curious glance, then examining the handcuffs on Dee. "Anyone got a key for these?" Megan moved forward and dropped the key into her hand.
Once the cuffs were removed, Dee stood and pulled the smaller woman into an embrace. "Dana, Estrellita, it is so good to see you. I take it Joe called you?"
Scully stepped back, gazing into the other Immortal's face. "Yes, we were finishing up a case in Portland, so were able to get here fairly quickly. Mulder was really ticked when he heard you'd gotten yourself arrested. Expect a lecture."
Dee laughed, then reaching behind her, she grasped Blair's hand and pulled him up to stand beside her. "Dana Scully, I want you to meet Blair Sandburg. Blair, this is my student, Dana."
He held out his hand, and she took it, finding his grasp firm. Mulder came up at that moment, and he, too, was introduced to Blair. The two men eyed each other for a moment, current lover sizing up the former.
Dee left them to get acquainted, and walked over to Jim's desk. "Ellison," she said, as he looked up at her. "I owe you an explanation, but not here. We have a lot to discuss, and I'd like to do it on neutral ground. You okay for a drive to Seacouver?" Her eyes flicked quickly to his injured side, then back to his face.
Jim shot a glance at Blair, who was in the midst of an animated discussion with the two FBI agents, complete with hand gestures. "If this is about who gets to be Sentinel of the Great City, I'm not up to a winner takes all fight."
Dee shook her head. "No, this about who I am, and where we go from here. Despite what I said in the heat of battle, I can't really be Cascade's Champion. That position is already filled." The corners of her lips turned up in a wistful smile, and for a brief moment, Jim caught a glimpse of the woman beneath the warrior's exterior.
"Let me go talk to Simon, and I'll be back."
An hour later, they were piled into two cars, on the way to Seacouver. Blair rode with Mulder in the FBI agent's rental car, and Dee, Dana, and Jim took Dee's Cherokee. Dee was silent for most of the drive, relying on Dana to entertain Ellison. That she did, engaging him in shoptalk, discovering that they both had their share of strange and unusual cases. Dee kept one ear tuned to the conversation in the other car, a little worried about how Blair would get along with Mulder, but her fears were unfounded. Upon finding out Blair was an anthropologist with expertise in South American cultures, Mulder had began quizzing him about the theory of the ancient Mayans as space travelers.
Once they reached Joe's they were welcomed warmly by the Watcher, who gave both Dee and Dana a hug, and shook Jim's hand firmly as he was introduced. The group took a table upstairs, giving them some privacy. After dinner, Blair and Mulder went downstairs to talk with Joe, and Scully cornered Adam at the bar, catching up on what had been happening with the older Immortal. That left Diandra alone with Jim.
She took a sip of her mineral water, wondering where to begin. Finally, she said, "I guess most of your questions can be answered with two words: I'm immortal."
Jim stared at her, his beer bottle paused a few inches from his lips. Slowly, he set it down on the table. "You're what?"
Dee sucked an ice cube out of her drink and crunched it. "I'm immortal. I can't be killed by ordinary means, like falling off the top of a lighthouse." She gave him a wry smile, "Or drowning, or being shot, or stabbed, or hit by a car. Can't even burn to death, though it hurts like hell." He continued to stare, his mind not grasping the concept. "Here, let me give you a demonstration." She picked up one of the steak knives left over from dinner, and ran it across the palm of her hand, then held it up for his inspection.
Blood oozed out of the cut, pooling in her cupped palm. As he watched, the edges of the cut pulled together, tiny blue sparks dancing back and forth across the small gap. In a few seconds, the cut was completely gone, and she wiped her hand on a napkin, then offered it to him. Examining it closely, even his sentinel sight could detect no sign of injury. "Okay," he finally said, "I'll take your word for it. But that doesn't explain your senses."
"In a way it does," she said, leaning forward in her chair, resting her elbows on the table and propping her chin on her hands. "I was a champion, or sentinel, almost three millennia ago. My companion, however, was human. She was killed in battle, and as a result of the psychic trauma, I repressed my senses for thousands of years. I'm not really sure what brought them back, but Blair's theory is as good as any. He thinks it was being around him, around a guide that did it. Personally, I lean toward the idea of fate. Do you believe in karma, Ellison?" At his shrug, she continued, "After all I've been through in my life, I find I have to. Too much of it has been one big coincidence for me to discount the idea that there isn't some cosmic force guiding it. Think of it this way, if something hadn't called me to Cascade, I never would have run into Blair, and that night two months ago he would have gone to the market and been killed."
Jim felt a cold chill run down his spine at her words. He hadn't been there, hadn't been able to protect his guide.
"He came to me in the next few days, and took me up on my offer to teach him." At Ellison's surprised look, she said, "What did you think we were doing all that time we spent together? No, don't answer that. I was teaching him martial arts." Turning in her chair, she gazed over the railing at the anthropologist, who was leaning forward in his seat, listening intently to some point Mulder was making. "He's quite the tenacious fighter, you know. Took to kick boxing like a duck to water, and staff, goddess, he beats me most of the time now." Looking up, she saw Jim's eyes were troubled. "He's still Lobo, Ellison. Learning to protect himself, learning to protect you, hasn't changed him. He made me swear not to put a sword in his hand, and I haven't. He doesn't have the killing instinct, not the way we do. I hope he never feels that rage."
Dee turned her attention back to Blair. "Maybe we can give you a demonstration tomorrow."
Jim didn't know how he felt about that. Part of him was in favor of anything that would keep his partner safe, and part of him felt that Blair's relationship with him had brought about the loss of his innocence. Changing the subject, he said, " Why did you confront Kendall with a sword? I'm assuming he was immortal, like you."
With a small sigh, she said, "There's only one way to kill an immortal, by cutting off his head. Immortals spend a good deal of their lives training for and participating in the Game, which is one on one combat to the death. The winner gets the loser's Quickening, or life force. That was the electrical storm you witnessed when I killed Kendall." At his horrified look, she said, "It's barbaric, I know, but it's our way. Most of us try not to involve mortals in our Game, but sometimes it can't be helped, and sometimes mortals choose to involve themselves, like Joe. He's a Watcher, one who watches and records the lives of Immortals, so that when we are all gone, there is some record that we existed."
Blair's laughter floated up towards them, and Dee smiled. A glance at Ellison confirmed a smile on his face as well. "I can see that's one thing we have in common, detective. Blair is incredibly important to both of us. But he is your Guide. He pinch hit for me yesterday, and I am alive because of it. If he had not known to be there when I needed him... " She shook her head. "We would all be dead. Kendall would have taken my head and then killed the both of you. I am very glad that didn't happen."
She toyed with her glass again, pushing the lime to the bottom and watching it float to the surface. "I would like us to be able to co-exist peacefully, detective. I know just sitting here talking to me is probably driving you crazy."
"Actually, it's not so bad," he said. "You might have hit on something with the neutral ground thing."
"Too bad we can't bottle it and take it with us." She crunched another piece of ice, knowing where the conversation had to go next, not sure how to approach it, or how Ellison would take it. "About last night, the things you said at the hospital... "
Jim cut her off. "They were inexcusable, I know. I've apologized to Blair. I just... " He couldn't voice his feelings of betrayal and inadequacy.
"You felt Blair betrayed you, because he was helping another sentinel." Jim nodded. "Lobo could never do that to you, Jim," she said gently. "He wanted to tell you as soon as we knew my senses were back, in fact, he tried to tell you Friday night when you called him, but the connection was too bad. He figured it could wait until you got back; we had no way of knowing then about Kendall, or that he would kidnap you in trying to get his revenge on Blair. We did the best we could under the circumstances, and if that hurt you, well, I'm sorry." She took a deep breath, and smoothed the wrinkles out of her napkin. "I want you to know I would never hurt Blair, Jim. I know you've had a bad experience in the past with another sentinel. Blair told me about Alex Barnes. But if you don't know by now if you can trust me or not, then nothing I can say is going to sway you."
Jim looked in to her steady blue gaze, and saw no trace of deceit. He sensed that Blair was safe in her presence, and he was really all that mattered when it came down to it. "I will try to give you the benefit of the doubt," he finally said.
Nodding, she said, "That's all that I ask." The sound of the jazz trio starting up effectively put an end to the conversation. "You like jazz, Ellison?" she asked. "This group is really good."
"I'm a classic rock fan myself, but jazz is all right," he replied, just as Blair came bounding up the stairs.
"You two get everything worked out?" he asked.
"To a certain degree," Jim said.
"We've called a truce," Dee added.
Blair came to stand behind her, his hands on the back of her chair. "You up for some dancing?" he asked her.
"I thought you'd never ask," she said. "You going to be okay here on your own, Ellison?"
"I'm fine," Jim said, "you two go on." He watched as Blair led Dee down the stairs and onto the dance floor, feeling a distinct sense of loss as he watched them jitterbug, laughing and joking together.
Several songs later, Blair felt a tap on his shoulder. "Mind if I cut in?" Mulder asked the anthropologist. Blair glanced at Dee, and at her nod, surrendered her hand to the taller man. Mulder slid his arm around her waist, and they moved silently to the music for a few moments before he broke the silence. "I don't think we ever did this," he said.
"Dance? No, no we never did. Somehow that wasn't very high on our list of priorities," she replied wistfully.
"I always thought we'd have the time, and then... "
"And then I was gone, running away with Dana, disappearing for five months," she said.
Mulder looked pensive for a moment, then said, "I don't think I ever thanked you for that, for taking Scully under your wing, teaching her, making sure she'd survive. So, thank you, Diandra."
Dee gave him a smile. "It's okay, Fox. I don't blame you for what happened between us. It was inevitable, I think. Much as I know you cared for me, I know your heart truly lies with Dana; I knew that the moment I saw the two of you together."
"That obvious, huh?"
"To someone who's been there, yes." She glanced across the dance floor, her eyes meeting Blair's as he danced with Dana. "I know a lot about inevitability."
Mulder's hazel eyes met her blue ones. "Are you talking about us, or about you and Blair?" he asked softly.
She quirked an eyebrow at him in surprise. "Are we that obvious?"
"I love it when you do that eyebrow thing. It reminds me of... Scully," he said with a laugh. "But yes, you are obvious. It's there in your eyes when you look at him. I can tell you're looking at him now, because your eyes are all soft and warm. And he's the same way, when he looks at you, his whole face lights up." Feeling tears well up in her eyes, Dee leaned her forehead against Mulder's shoulder. "Hey, hey, was it something I said?"
"No, no, it's not you, Fox. It's just... I haven't felt this close to someone in a long time, even closer than I felt to you, and I'm afraid it's not going to last."
Mulder tilted her chin up, seeing by her expression that she was really upset. "What? You're afraid he's going to get bored with you and leave? Not on your immortal life, Dee. You should have heard him on the way up here in the car. You were all he could talk about, all he asked me about. He's nuts about you, Dee. He's not going to treat you the way I did. He loves you."
"I know he does, I know. I love him too. I just hope my presence in his life doesn't end up hurting him."
Mulder kissed her forehead tenderly. "That's the real trick, isn't it?" he said, his tone remorseful. "One I've yet to master." The song ended then, and they separated, Mulder heading to the table, and Dee stepping outside for some air.
She stood there in the alley, leaning against the wall, wondering if she was doing the right thing. She'd kept an eye on Jim during the time she and Blair had been dancing, and had gotten the distinct impression he was not as cool with her relationship with Blair as he pretended. The last thing she wanted to do was to come between the two of them, but if Ellison couldn't get over his hang-ups about her, that would be what would happen. She slapped the flat of her hand against the brick in frustration.
"Dee?" came the guide's soft voice from the doorway. "You okay? Mulder didn't say something to upset you, did he?"
"No, Lobo, I'm fine, just thinking." She took in the troubled expression on his face. "I'm sorry if I worried you."
Blair stepped out into the alley to stand in front of the Immortal. "You sure you're okay?" he asked. "Because when you left, all of a sudden I got butterflies in my stomach, and I know they weren't mine." He gave her a grin.
"I love you," she said suddenly, her hands cupping his face. "Don't ever forget that. No matter what happens in your life, I want you to know that you will always be incredibly loved."
"Mm, okay," he replied, confused. "I love you too." He leaned into her then, his hands planted on the wall on either side of her shoulders, his lips teasing hers with a nibbling kiss. She giggled, and he kissed her again, one hand trailing down her side and over her hip. She surprised him by hooking her leg around him, and pulling him up against her.
"Hey! I'm all for a little lip lock, but don't you think that's going a little far?" he protested jokingly.
"Just trying to keep your interest," she said, running both hands down his back, pressing his hips against her. She kissed him hard enough to take his breath away, then released him. "Come on, let's see if this army is ready to move out. It's pretty late." Taking his hand, she led him back inside.
They ended up closing the place down at Joe's and decided to spend the night at MacLeod's spare apartment. Sleeping arrangements were a little cramped, but they managed, Dee and Dana in one bedroom, Jim in the other, and Mulder and Blair on the two sofas.
Dee lay on her side of the double bed, listening to the steady even breathing of the other four people in the loft. They had fallen asleep almost immediately, and she was still awake, her mind and soul restless. Finally, she got up, and taking a blanket from the linen closet, she tiptoed through the living room, and headed for the roof. Spreading the blanket out, she lay down on her back and regarded the stars. She felt them calling to her, and, closing her eyes and concentrating on her breathing, she slipped easily into a meditative state.
Opening her eyes, she found herself in a familiar forest, dressed in the garb of an Amazon warrior. It was night, but the moon and stars lit the well traveled path, and she started walking, her long strides taking her quickly to her destination, the Temple of Artemis. Entering the empty temple, she crossed the marble floor to the altar, kneeling in front of the statue of the patron goddess of the Amazons. "Artemis," she prayed, "my Goddess, my Teacher, please show me the way I must go. Please give me a sign, let me know that this is the path you have chosen for me, to once again wear the mantle of Champion."
She remained on her knees for a long time, waiting patiently, listening to the sound of her breathing echoing through the vast chamber. Finally the flapping of great wings from behind her broke the silence, but Diandra did not lift her head, nor turn, afraid she would find her hopes dashed if she did. Soft footsteps sounded on the cold tile, but still she did not move.
"Diandra," came the gentle voice, its quiet authority still present after nearly three thousand years. "My heart, my soul, please look at me."
Slowly, slowly, she turned, her eyes already filling with tears. "Lydia... " she whispered, and then the Amazon Queen was kneeling beside her, her arms going around the warrior's shaking shoulders.
She held her for a long time, until the Immortal's sobs turned to sniffles, and she raised her tear-streaked face to hers. Lydia's small fingers brushed her cheeks, wiping away the last of her tears. "My love," she said, "it has been so long, and yet I never stopped believing you would find me again."
Diandra straightened in the other woman's arms. "After all this time, why now, why now? I've been here many times before, and you were never here."
"You had no need of your Companion then," she replied. "Now that you have once again accepted your role as Champion, I am here for you, but only in the spirit world."
Dee drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, resting her chin on her folded hands. "Then I am still alone in the real world. How can I be a Champion, when you are here, and I am there?"
"A Champion is always a Champion, if she chooses to be. You have chosen." Lydia clasped her consort's hand. "You will find a Companion of your own."
"You know about Blair," Dee said.
The red haired queen nodded. "Yes, it was I who sent him to you. You needed him to find yourself again, and he needed you to complete his training as a Companion. But that time has passed, Diandra. It is time for you to move on, to seek out your soulmate."
"You are my soulmate," she breathed, feeling tears burning her eyes again.
Lydia hugged the other woman, leaning her cheek against her dark hair. "Ah, my heart, do not grieve for me. I will always be with you. You carry me with you, wherever you go, in here," she said, laying her hand on Diandra's heart. "But you have been blessed by the Goddess, been given the chance to use your strength and your courage to change the world, to help others, and so you have done. But you were not meant to do it alone. When the time is right, for both you and your companion, they will appear to you." With those words, she made a sweeping gesture with her hand, and Dee caught a glimpse of snowy mountain peaks and the feeling of the wind rushing past the wings of a great bird, larger and darker than her companion's spirit guide, the red falcon. As quickly as it came, the impression was gone. "When you need them, they will be there." Lydia rose to her feet, and turned as if to go.
"Wait!" Dee cried, scrambling up. "What about Blair? I know he can't be my guide, but I love him."
Reaching up, the smaller woman took the warrior's face in her hands, blue eyes meeting blue eyes in a steady gaze. "As he loves you, Diandra. But sometimes love is not enough; sometimes duty must come first." With those words, Lydia stood on tiptoe, and kissed her Champion. Diandra's arms went around her, lifting her off the floor, holding her close, drinking in all that was her Companion. When they finally parted, Lydia stepped back, and with a quick shimmer, the red falcon took to the air, circling Diandra once before winging into the starlit sky.
Dee opened her eyes to another sky, lit by the man-made stars of street lamps. She felt the sob rising in her chest, and she let it go, tears flowing as freely in this world as they had in the other. Strong arms tightened around her, and she leaned her head on a warm shoulder, a familiar heartbeat thumping just below her ear. "It's okay," he said, "it's okay. Just let it out. I'm here, I'll take care of you." Blair pressed his lips against her hair, and rocked the distraught Immortal until she fell into a restless sleep.
Blair had been asleep on the couch, when something woke him. He gazed around the room, his eyes adjusting to the gray light coming through the windows, picking out Mulder's sleeping form on the sofa opposite him. Something didn't feel right, and he rose quietly, padding first to Jim's room, finding him snoring softly, sprawled across the bed. Crossing to the other bedroom, he peered inside the half open door, discovering only one small person in the bed, when there should have been two. "Dee," he thought, "where are you?"
As soon as the words formed in his mind, he felt the champion's pull, and he followed it out the door of the loft, into the hallway, and up the stairs at the end. Opening the door at the top of the stairs, he found himself on the roof. Stepping out of the stairwell, he saw Diandra stretched out on her back on a quilt, her eyes closed, her hands folded across her stomach. He approached quietly, a little alarmed when she took no notice of his presence, but then he recognized the trance, and knew she was walking the spirit world. Confident that she would come back when she was ready, yet concerned she was vulnerable in that state, he sat down on the blanket beside her, keeping her company.
He must have sat there an hour or more, his leg starting to go to sleep, when her eyes opened, and she gave a heart-wrenching sob. Leaning over her, he pulled her into an embrace, murmuring reassurances to her, rocking her as she cried. He laid down with her on the blanket, pillowing her head on his shoulder, stroking her back, feeling her sobs turn to hiccups, and then finally to the slow, even breaths of sleep.
Blair relaxed then, finally taking a moment to stare up at the stars overhead, watching the clouds roll in, wondering what she had seen that had upset her so. Whatever it was, he would get it out of her, get her to talk about it. He knew from experience that not sharing disturbing visions was asking for trouble. Tucking the end of the blanket around her, he closed his own eyes, slipping into a light doze.
It wasn't long before he felt her awaken. "Lobo?" she asked, "what are you doing here?" Raising up on one elbow, she looked down at him.
"Um, I got lonely?" he replied with a grin. "Seriously, I woke up, and you were gone. I followed your...I don't know what to call it... your essence... up here. You were meditating, so I just waited, and when you came out of it, you were upset."
At his words, he saw a wave of sadness wash over her face. "I saw Lydia," she said softly. She didn't know how to explain what the Companion had told her, so she didn't try.
"That must have been hard," Blair said. "I know from what you've said, that you've missed her very much."
"It was," Dee said, lying down next to him again. "She said some things I'm still trying to make sense of."
Blair pulled her a little closer. "I never told you this, but I think I met her in a dream. She looks like Dana, doesn't she?"
Dee nodded, her chin rubbing his chest. "Yes, Lydia told me she'd sent you to me. And she does look a lot like Dana. Imagine how I felt when I met Dana. For a while, I thought Lydia had come back to me, but I was wrong. The resemblance is only skin deep."
Blair shivered at that, pondering meeting a Jim who wasn't really Jim, not where it counted. Changing the subject, he said lightly, "So, we gonna stay up here all night?"
Dee kissed his jaw softly. "It's almost morning, Lobo. Not much point in going to bed. And much as I like Dana, she is not my preferred bed partner."
"Is that a hint?" he asked, rolling them both over, so she was on her back with him leaning over her. Dipping his head down, he captured her lips with his own, feeling her respond to the kiss, her hands going around his back, sliding under his T-shirt, her fingers tracing his spine. Planting kisses across her cheek and down her neck, he pushed her tank top up, his hands stroking her sides as he nibbled and kissed his way down her chest and stomach. She yanked his shirt over his head, needing the sensation of skin on skin. With a low moan, she curled her fingers around the back of his neck, guiding him to the places desperately in need of kisses. A gentle tug on his hair moved him back over her, her blue eyes burning into his own.
"I think," she said, her hands working at removing the rest of his clothes, "that it's my turn to be on top." With that, she tumbled him onto his back, her mouth and hands working in tandem to set him on fire. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he was aware of the skies opening, and warm, fat raindrops kissing his skin, but all he could feel, all he could see, was the dark beauty over him, water glistening on her skin, her hands gripping his as she danced to an inner music, taking him with her on her heavenward flight.
Jim lay on his back on the unfamiliar bed, the storm having woken him. Instinctively, he reached out for his partner's heartbeat to anchor him in this strange place. To his surprise, he found it several floors away instead of in the next room, its pounding rhythm nearly sending the sentinel after him, until he realized it was accompanied by low moans of pleasure, and the sweet nothings shared between two lovers. Rolling over onto his good side, he pulled the spare pillow over his head, trying without success to block out the sounds of what his heart felt was his guide's treason.
When Dee and Blair finally made it back inside, they were both soaking wet. Not wanting to wake the others, as it was still an hour or so before dawn, they made their way to the dojo's laundry room, using the dryer to dry their clothes and the blanket, while they waited wrapped in towels. Once their things were dry, they went quietly back upstairs, and Blair settled back down on the sofa to get a couple hours rest. He was quickly joined by Dee, who whispered that Dana was taking her side of the bed out of the middle. Rolling onto his side, he made room for her, spooning up behind her and covering them both with the blanket. They were soon fast asleep.
Jim was the first one up the next morning, and wasn't too surprised to walk out into the living room and discover Dee and Blair curled up together, given what he'd overheard the night before. Walking into the kitchen, he rummaged around in the cabinets and located the coffee. Once he'd started it brewing, he took another look at the sleeping pair. He had to admit they looked happy. Blair lay on his back, with Dee on her side next to him, her head on his shoulder and one arm draped over his chest. Blair's hand rested on her arm, and his cheek leaned against her hair, his expression relaxed. Dee's lips were curved in a tiny smile, and Jim again saw the sensual woman beneath the warrior's mask she had always presented to him. No wonder he and Blair had never seen eye to eye about her, if this is the way she was with Sandburg. It was almost as if they had been dealing with two different women. He watched as she snuggled closer to Blair, his arm tightening around her in reflex. Jim shook his head, and turned his attention back to the coffee maker. Deal with it, Ellison, he told himself. Put Blair's needs first for once in your life.
"Is that coffee I smell?" said a familiar voice from behind him. Turning, he found a disheveled Blair pushing his hair out of his eyes, a big grin on his face.
"Yeah, Chief, it is." Pouring a cup for his partner, Jim reflected that maybe if he tried really hard, he could learn to tolerate Diandra for Blair's sake. A woman that could get Sandburg out of bed at 6 am in the morning and have him smiling about it might not be such a bad thing.
"Come on, Dana! Keep your guard up!" Dee chastised her student. The sharp sound of steel meeting steel filled the dojo. She lunged under the younger woman's defense, and found herself rewarded with a kick to the stomach.
"There's a reason my guard was down, Dee, and that was it," Scully said with a smile. "Mulder taught me that move."
"Uh huh," Dee said, rubbing her ribs, "let's see you capitalize on that." She brought her katana down in a powerful overhead stroke, and the two Immortals were off again, their deadly ballet using most of the gym's floor.
Jim sat on a bench to the side, watching with interest. He'd always thought of fencing as kind of a sissy sport, but the way Immortals fought, it was more like no holds barred street fighting. At times both elegant and ugly, the two women combined kick boxing, swordplay, and cat fighting. He was suddenly glad he was mortal; he wasn't sure how long he would last in a Game where the only rule appeared to be survive at any cost.
The door at the end of the dojo opened, and Mulder and Blair entered, having departed on some mysterious errand immediately after breakfast. Mulder carried a large binder under his right arm, but otherwise appeared no different than when he had left earlier. Blair must have tagged along just to keep him company, as he was empty handed. The two men, upon spying Jim, headed in his direction, taking a wide path around the sparring women.
With a final clash of swords, the dueling Immortals ended their bout, and walked over to join the three men. "Okay, Mulder, spill it," Scully said. "What vitally important, yet obscure thing have you dug up this time?" She gestured to the notebook.
"I have here, courtesy of Joe Dawson, my own personal copy of 'What Every Watcher Needs to Know'." He couldn't keep the grin from lighting up his face.
"Mulder, don't tell me you actually joined the Watchers!"
"Yep, got my own tattoo and everything." Holding out his left arm, he peeled back a gauze bandage, revealing a blue circle around a stylized "V". "Who better to document the exploits of Dana Scully, Immortal, than the person who spends the most time with her? Besides, this way I can selectively edit my reports, and we don't have to worry about some innocent Watcher stumbling over some of our government's best kept secrets."
Scully was speechless. "I... Mulder, I don't know what to say," she finally managed.
Dee elbowed her in the ribs. "Say 'thank you', Dana."
"Um, thanks, Mulder, I think. How detailed are these reports supposed to be anyway? I'd like to retain some privacy around you!"
"Okay, children, that's enough!" Dee said, clapping her hands. "You can all look at Mulder's tattoo later. Right now it's time for a little demonstration. Blair?" Turning her sword over to Dana, she grabbed two staffs, tossing one to Blair. "I think it's time Jim knew what we've been working on." Stepping out into the middle of the floor, she moved to a ready position, the staff held in a relaxed grip.
With a glance over his shoulder at Jim, Blair followed her, hoping he wouldn't screw up and embarrass himself in front of his partner. He had a few awkward moments at first, then he had to stop thinking about Jim, and focus on Dee's fast and furious attack. His body fell into the familiar rhythm, and soon he was matching her blow for blow, their sparring quickly encompassing most of the room.
His heart in his throat, Jim watched the pair intently, certain each time Diandra brought the staff around she was going to seriously injure his guide. To his amazement, Blair met her parry for parry, lunge for lunge. In fact, if Jim didn't know better, he would say the anthropologist had the upper hand. Just as that thought passed through his mind, Blair caught the end of Dee's staff with his own, forcing it down. A snap kick to her already unbalanced pole sent it flying out of her hands. The look of surprise on her face was priceless, and Jim guessed that was the first time the Immortal had been relieved of her weapon in years. Recovering from her shock, a smile spread across her face, and she applauded. "Well done, Lobo! Well done!"
Blair flushed under her praise, but Jim could tell he was proud of himself. Rising from his seat, Jim approached him, thumping him on the back affectionately. "You did good, Sandburg," he told him.
"Thanks, Jim," he replied. Much as he valued Diandra's opinion, the one that really mattered was his partner's. "You're not mad or anything, are you?" he asked.
Jim shook his head. "No, anything that keeps you safe is fine with me." He ruffled the younger man's hair. "Come on, Chief. I'll take you all out to lunch, my treat." At those words, there was a mad dash for the showers.
Diandra unlocked the door to apartment 308 and stepped inside. She had had such high hopes after returning from Seacouver two weeks ago. There were no more secrets; everything was out in the open. Ellison knew all there was to know about her. She had hoped that knowing her better would change his feelings for her, but it hadn't. Oh, he was trying, she could tell, but it was a tremendous effort for him, having another Sentinel living across the hall. Maybe there really was something to the neutral ground thing, but short of making the apartment building a colony of Switzerland, it wasn't going to work in Cascade.
School had started up the week before, and both she and Blair had been incredibly busy, so much so that they hadn't spent much time together outside of an occasional lunch at the university. It was just as well, if he knew what she was doing, he would try and talk her out of it. She glanced around the loft. Almost everything personal was already gone; all that remained was the furniture.
Her hearing picked up the arrival of the elevator at the end of the hall. Opening the door, she saw Blair getting off. Now was as good a time as any, she guessed, not that there was ever a good time for what she was about to do. "Hi, Lobo," she said, as he reached his door. "We need to talk."
Blair turned toward her, taking in her tired eyes. "Hey," he said softly, stepping across the hallway and giving her a hug. "I'm sorry I haven't seen much of you lately. I've really missed you."
Dee hugged him back tightly, blinking away the tears she felt welling up. "I've missed you too, Lobo," she breathed. Goddess, this was so hard. "Come on inside." Taking him by the hand, she led him into her apartment.
He took one look around, and turned to face her, pain and confusion in his eyes. "Dee," he said, his voice shaking, "what's going on?"
"I'm sorry, Lobo, but I'm leaving. I'm moving back to Seacouver." There, she'd said it. She braced herself for the storm.
Blair's expression became even more uncertain. "You're... leaving?" he asked. "Just like that, pack up your things and blow, huh? Must be nice not to have to worry about all the money you spent fixing this place up, or quitting your job... "
"I'm not quitting my job, and I'm not giving up this apartment. I'm just moving back to Seacouver, that's all." Damn it, this was not going well.
"So it's me, then. You finally came to your senses and realized a three thousand year old Immortal could never be happy with a thirty year old mortal anthropologist. I mean really, what could I possibly offer you? You've been everywhere, done everything... you needed me to be your surrogate companion, but now that the crisis has passed you don't need me anymore." His voice was bitter.
"No! Lobo! That's not what I... damn it, Lobo, I love you! I love you more than I've loved anyone, anyone since Lydia. You are everything to me... and that's why I have to leave." There was no holding the tears back now, and they spilled down her cheeks.
"If you love me, Dee, then you won't leave me," he said, automatically reaching for her, wanting to take away her pain.
She leaned into his embrace, burying her face in his loose hair, inhaling his scent, feeling his hands stroking her back. "Please, Dee," he whispered, "please, whatever it is we can work it out. I love you so much... "
Shaking her head, she said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I can't stay. I... " How could she tell him? How could she tell him she was leaving because of Jim, and not have him blame the other man for his heartache? "Blair, when we were in Seacouver, and I took my spirit walk, I didn't tell you everything Lydia said. She told me that sometimes duty has to come before love. I didn't want to believe it at the time, but now I see she was telling me the truth. My champion abilities aren't going away. I made a choice to accept them, and now I have to face the consequences of that decision. Those consequences include finding my own companion, Blair, and my own territory to protect. Cascade already has its own Sentinel and Guide pair. I'm just... redundant."
"Dee," he said seriously, "you could never be redundant. You are an original."
"Yeah, well, my presence here is not helping Jim do his job any better. I'm keeping him from his duty, by being an irritant, a distraction. I've heard him walking the floors at night, Lobo, and you have too. Please, Blair, please, understand I'm leaving because I love you, not because I've stopped loving you."
Blair looked into her eyes, and couldn't deny the truth he saw there. "Dee, I... " He had no words to express his feelings, so he kissed her, pouring all his love, all his heart into the touch of his lips against hers. When they parted, he leaned his forehead against hers. "You'll keep in touch won't you? I mean, we'll still be friends, right?"
"Always," she breathed, pressing her lips against his brow. Stepping back, she took a deep breath, and collected herself. "I have something I want you to have." Digging through a carton on the dining room table, she produced a small box. "Open it," she said, handing it to him.
Blair took the box, and lifted the lid. Inside was a braided leather hair tie, the clasp an intricately carved silver wolf's head, two bright blue stones for its eyes. "Dee... " he said softly, incredibly touched. "This is a work of art."
"I found it at one of those Native American galleries downtown." Taking the tie from him, she said, "Here, let me."
He turned his back to her, feeling her fingers comb through his hair, gathering it into a ponytail, fastening the tie around it. The movements were so familiar, ones he did every day, but her touch made it overwhelmingly intimate, and the thought that he would never feel her hands in his hair again sent a dagger through his heart. He couldn't do this, it was too hard. When he turned around, he saw the moment had affected her too, and he hugged her again, one last time.
"Never forget you are loved, Lobo," she whispered.
"As are you," he replied.
With nothing more to say, Blair left her, crossing the hall to the loft he shared with Jim. The sentinel looked up from the TV program he was watching as his roommate entered. "You're home early for a change," he said. "I haven't started dinner yet. I was thinking about ordering in. Chinese okay, Chief?"
"I'm not really hungry," Blair replied, dropping his backpack by the door. He stopped by the kitchen table, leaning on it for support as his body suddenly felt numb.
"That a new hair tie, Chief?" Jim asked innocently, and Blair felt like his whole world had suddenly crumbled around him. He sank into a chair, silent sobs shaking his body. Jim was at his side in an instant, his arm around the younger man's shoulders. "Blair? What is it, what's wrong?"
"Dee's leaving... " he finally managed, and he felt the other man pull him into a hug, not saying anything, just being there for him.
When he had finally pulled himself together, Blair walked out onto the balcony, and watched the sunset. Jim gave him some time alone, then joined him. "You really loved her, didn't you?" he said.
Blair nodded. "I really do," he replied, "I just don't think it was meant to be."
Jim gave his shoulder a squeeze. "I'm going to go order that Chinese, okay? You come in when you're ready."
"Yeah, okay. Jim," he said, as the sentinel turned to go inside, "thanks, for not saying 'I told you so'."
"Hey, I can be sensitive too, you know," was the detective's reply. He went back into the loft.
Blair leaned on the balcony railing, knowing that even though they were apart he and Diandra would always be connected. Perhaps it was better he had never gotten to tell her his news. His left arm itched, and he scratched it, then pushed up his sleeve and unwound the gauze wrapped around his wrist. In the fading light from the setting sun, he could still make out the bright blue ink of the distinctive "V" surrounded by a circle.
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