Princes of the Universe

Author's Notes:

One of these days I'm going to stop the boys from poking their noses 
into other fanfic worlds. As if they can't get enough angst in their 
own... :-)

Spoilers for the episode "Love Kills" (so does UPN, but we won't get 
into that!). And Cassie has a short scene.

For Highlander fans, the last season is ignored and forgive me for 
making minor changes to the "rules of the game." I figured if the 
movies and the television show can have different canons, so could I.

                        PRINCES OF THE UNIVERSE
                   (A Sentinel/Highlander Crossover)
                           D.L. Witherspoon
                           (Posted 6-03-98)


Dr. Xavier Richoff sat hunched over his desk, eagerly and effortlessly 
translating the ancient text in front of him. Well, effortlessly now 
that he was on the third of four packets of pages that had been buried 
with their author nearly a thousand years ago. To Richoff, these 
"journals" represented his Holy Grail and he knew if he were to die 
during the night, he could go to either heaven or hell without a single 

He had first heard the legend of Robert McTeague from his undergraduate 
roommate as they shared the rich lore of their families one long, 
boring night. During his graduate school years and the decades of being 
a renowned archaeologist, he'd never forgotten the myth of the man who 
could see the future more clearly than Nostradamus or DaVinci or even 
H.G. Wells. Robert McTeague had been born at the stroke of midnight as 
the year 1000 A.D. dawned. That was the true source of his gift, 
according to the legend. His was a wealthy Scottish clan and young 
Robert was well- educated and well-traveled. He was welcome in the 
courts of several kings and many pleaded with him to stay in this 
country or that. But Robert always returned to his homeland. According 
to him there was Scottish soil flowing in his veins and it was 
necessary that he return to replenish his supply.

Then one day, Robert came home and never left again. The servants told 
tales of their laird who stayed awake for several days straight in his 
chambers, fiercely scribbling down thoughts that painfully afflicted 
his mind. Many thought it was the devil at work. Others thought he was 
merely insane; perhaps his mother and father had been too closely 
related. It happened that one of his servants had accidently learned to 
read as a child and he curiously took a look at the laird's wild 
writings. He immediately crossed himself, recognizing that he was 
looking at prophecies, portents of the future. He couldn't keep the 
news to himself and soon the whole village knew. But the Scots were a 
wise and cautious people and they kept the knowledge from spreading. 
When Robert McTeague died in 1054, they bound together all his 
prophecies and buried them with him, fearing reprisals if the wrong 
people ever got their hands on them.

Twenty-three years ago while on vacation, Richoff stumbled upon the 
cairn marking McTeague's grave. He sought the clan and asked for 
permission to excavate the site, promising not to disturb the remains. 
His request was denied. Patiently, he waited for those who were in 
opposition to die. A year ago, his patience was rewarded. The young 
cared nothing for their history; he offered cash and a share of any 
future book/movie deals and the grave was his. He was careful with the 
excavation/exhumation, hoping beyond hope that somehow McTeague's 
writings had survived. Once again luck was on his side and after 
preserving the writings, he sat down to translate the copies he'd made.

Richoff had been stunned by what the writings had revealed. McTeague 
had correctly predicted the coming of William the Conquer in 1066, the 
Christian Crusades, the Black Death, and the many struggles for the 
thrones of Scotland and England. He even told of the rise of a nation 
across the ocean, tiny territories banding together to drive out the 
English and eventually becoming a dominant world power. The third 
packet of notes ended with an easily recognizable account of Hitler and 
his Third Reich.

As he opened the final packet of writings, he wondered just how far 
into the future McTeague had seen. Unable to deny his curiosity, he 
went to the last page. McTeague's health had apparently been fading for 
the writing was difficult to read, but Richoff was determined to know 
just how much sight McTeague had been given. His breathe caught as he 
read of men walking on the moon-- this from a man who lived in a time 
where the earth was thought to be the center of the universe. A quick 
scan of the rest of the page showed the last prophecy was for the last 
day in the year 1999. He should have known; McTeague had seen the 
entire millennium of his birth.

"From the city will come two," he read aloud. "One will have the wisdom 
of the ages. The other will possess the gifts of the senses. The two 
will act as one and will rule... even until the end of world and 
beyond." Richoff shook his head at that final statement. "What the hell 
does that mean?"

"How badly do you wish to know?" a voice called and Richoff was alarmed 
to watch a large, powerful form emerge from the shadows of the room. He
adjusted his bifocals and saw a man standing before him, carrying a 
gleaming sword and wearing a wicked smile. "Let's share secrets, 

Chapter One

Detective Jim Ellison held up his hand and motioned Blair Sandburg back 
against the wall as he drew his gun. It was a sad tribute to everything 
Blair had been through that he merely did as Jim told him, even though 
it was their own loft which apparently harbored an intruder.

There was no sign of forced entry, but if Jim thought someone was 
inside, Blair knew there was. Aside from being a detective in Cascade, 
Washington's Major Crime unit, Jim was also a Sentinel, a person with 
enhanced senses. Being a Sentinel was a genetic "condition" and while 
it helped to make Jim one hell of a detective, it also had its 
drawbacks. That was why anthropology grad student Blair had become 
Jim's unofficial partner at the police station and roommate at the 
loft. He was Jim's Guide, helping him master his five amplified senses 
and anchoring him to the physical world when fixating on one sense 
threatened to overwhelm the Sentinel.

The door opened before Jim could kick it in. "Jim?" A slender woman 
with short dark hair peeked out. When she saw Jim's gun, she smiled. 
"Is that a gun in your hand, officer, or are you just glad to see me?"

Jim holstered the weapon and put his arms out just in time to catch the 
beautiful woman as she literally jumped on him. "Amanda, what are you 
doing here?' he asked as soon as she freed his lips.

"Don't tell me you aren't happy to see me, Jim." She leaned into him 
seductively. "Because I know that isn't true."

Blair cleared his throat, saving his embarrassed roommate from 
replying. "Uh, unless you two just want to give the neighbors a free 
show, I suggest we move this reunion inside," he said with a grin.

"You haven't answered my question, Amanda," Jim said as he took off his 

"Can't a friend drop by to cook dinner for a friend?" she asked, 
indicating the apron she was wearing.

"Is that what that smell is?" Blair asked, his nose wrinkling in 

"Amanda was never good at cooking, Chief."

"Oh, but I'm good at so many other things, Chief," Amanda purred. 
"You're a cute one, aren't you?"

Blair blushed and Jim shook his head. "Blair Sandburg, meet Amanda. 
What last name are you using this week? Of course, with your breaking 
and entering skills I don't think I, as a law enforcement official, 
want to know."

Blair was trying to understand that Jim was saying this beautiful lady 
was some kind of criminal. "She can't be all that bad, Jim."

"The stories I could tell--"

"But won't, because you're such a gentleman," Amanda inserted quickly. 
"Besides, we don't want to bore this lovely young man with old war 
stories, Jim. Instead, why don't you take us out to dinner? He's right 
about one thing, Chief, I am a lousy cook."

Wow. What a whirlwind. Who would have thought staid Jim Ellison would 
have such wild tastes in women? "Please, call me Blair."

She pursed her lips and studied him from head to toe, a flush growing 
along his body with the intense gaze. "No, Jim's right. Chief suits 
you." She tugged at a curl that had escaped his ponytail. Then she 
leaned back against Jim. "Take us somewhere nice, dear. I have 
expensive tastes, you know."

Blair couldn't take it anymore. He burst out laughing. "I have to know 
how you two met."

Amanda smiled and said in a loud stage whisper, "We'll talk over 
dinner. Now, let's all go get dressed." She sashayed over to the 
stairs. "Hope you don't mind I moved some of your stuff around, Jim. A 
lady needs space." Jim just stared at the retreating figure in 

"Hey, man, you haven't zoned on me, have you?" Blair asked softly when 
his friend continued to just stand there.

"Did a woman named Amanda just break into the loft, dirty all our pots 
and pans, order me to take her to an expensive restaurant, then tell me 
she's moved my things to make room for her own?"

"Yeah, Jim."

"Then no, I haven't zoned. I've just been 'Amanda'ed'.


Blair thought he talked a blue streak, but he was an amateur compared 
to Amanda. Throughout dinner he barely got a word in edgewise and Jim 
didn't even try. He just sat there smiling or scowling depending on 
which tale Amanda was telling at the time. Apparently Jim and Amanda 
had met several times when he was working covert ops in the Army. 
Amanda, according to her, just always happened to be at the wrong place 
at the wrong time and Jim was her personal knight in shining armor. The 
expression on Jim's face indicated he didn't exactly see it the same 
way. When Amanda excused herself to powder her nose, Blair turned 
eagerly to his partner.

"That is some woman!" he gushed enthusiastically.

"I'll second that, Chief," Jim agreed, somewhat dryly. "You didn't buy 
those romantic, heroic tales, did you?"

Blair shrugged. "I have, on occasion, Jim, embellished a few stories of 
my own so I'm perfectly able to cut through the thickest of bull. But 
you gotta love the spirit with which she spreads it," he added with a 
grin. "You are happy to see her, aren't you, man?"

Jim had to think about it for a minute. "Yeah, I am..."

"But?" Blair pressed.

Jim ran a hand through his short locks. "I'm getting edgy waiting for 
the other shoe to drop."


"Meaning Amanda has never appeared in my life without trouble being a 
step behind."

Blair laughed nervously. "Sounds like we have something in common. You 
don't have second thoughts about me being around, do you?"

Jim shook his head, wondering how Blair could still have doubts after 
all this time. "Give Amanda a few hours or maybe a few days and you'll 
see what I mean."

"Maybe it'll be different this time, Jim. I think she'll be good for 
you. Your past has been knocking you around lately. Maybe she can break 
the cycle. There's no danger she'll break your heart or anything, is 

Jim laughed. "No, Chief. Amanda and I are just close friends."

"Merely in it for the lust, huh?"

"A gentleman never tells."

Amanda's arms came around his neck as she pecked him on the cheek. 
"Isn't he just about perfect? Why you're still free to play with me, 
I'll never know. Someone should have scooped you up long ago. Don't you 
agree, Chief?"

"I can't really say I've thought about it quite that way," Blair 
admitted with a grin.

"Of course you shouldn't be running around loose either. I bet the 
ladies just adore those curls of yours," Amanda commented, rubbing one 
of them between her fingers. "So how do you guys do it? Does Jim take 
the older women and you the younger or you just rotate?"

"Excuse me?" Blair looked at Jim who just shrugged.

"The women that flock to your door. Do you take the odds and Jim the 
evens or do you go into the kitchen and toss for them?" she asked 

Blair looked to his partner for help. "We have different tastes, 
Amanda. We don't fight over women."

"So does that mean you don't like me, Chief?" Amanda pouted.

"Of course I do!" Blair said quickly. "But I like you as Jim's woman... 
I mean he had you first... uh, that's not..."

Jim couldn't help but laugh. "Thank you, Amanda. I don't think I've 
ever seen the Professor so at a loss for words. What he's trying to 
say, I think, is that I have shown a preference and you have shown a 
preference but that doesn't mean he can't worship you from afar."

Amanda beamed. "That's so sweet. Worship is completely acceptable, 
Chief. But just so you don't get the wrong idea, I'm completely 
monogamous with the man I'm with at the time. Maybe next time we meet, 

Blair shook his head. "I don't think so, Amanda. You're definitely too 
much woman for me."

She patted his hand. "Good answer. We wouldn't want to make Jim 
jealous, would we?"

"I thought you liked me angry, Amanda," Jim mused staring at the raven-
haired beauty. "It seems like every time we're together, you manage to 
get me in that condition."

"Actually, Jim, I like you any way I can get you. Lighthearted and 
laughing is perfectly acceptable. You can be such a tease sometimes." 
Jim saw Blair's eyes widen at that and he shot his roommate a glance 
designed to silence him. Amanda noticed. "Of course I don't mind that 
icy blue stare that melts as easily as it cools. And then that jaw 
clenches." She reached out and traced the outline of Jim's cheekbone, 
her finger trailing along until it reached his mouth. " When you get 
that way I can feel the raw power in your body, but still I know your 
touch will be so gentle and that despite the anger, despite the cause, 
you would never use your strength against me. That's because you know 
how to treat a lady, Jim, how to be tender or rough depending on what
tickles the lady's fancy..." 

Blair watched with the fascination of a voyeur. He couldn't help 
himself; Amanda's words were so stirring, her caress so intimate. And 
Jim just sat there as if carved in stone. Man, he envied his friend's 
control. If a woman came on to him so openly, he'd be across the street 
to the Holiday Inn so fast... Then the spell was broken by an odd 
sound. It took a moment to register that it was Jim's cell phone.

"Excuse me," Jim said politely and turned slightly away.

Amanda sat back and used her hand to fan herself. "Is it warm in here?"

"Ice water would probably help," Blair suggested, his hand going to his 
own glass.

"If I didn't know better, I would say that was what he had running 
through his veins," she said as she ran a finger along the back Jim 
presented to her. There was no reaction.

"How does he do that?" Blair whispered in awe.

"Sheer willpower," Amanda explained, her eyes drinking in the tall 
form. "He's a tease, I tell you. The only man I've ever had to work so 
hard to outlast. Of course, I've yet to succeed. But we have had 
several ties. It's very annoying to the competitor in me, but so 
delightfully satisfying to the rest..."

Blair was glad as Jim stuck the phone back in his pocket and motioned 
for their waiter. He was all for equal rights and yes, he felt it was 
possible for a man and woman to be friends, but there were just some 
things he didn't feel comfortable discussing with a woman. But what if 
Jim's ability to "pace" himself had something to do with his senses? 
Touch would be a good bet...

When the waiter arrived, Jim held out his credit card and badge. "I'm a 
police officer who needs to respond to an emergency. Would you mind 
rushing this through?"

"What's up, Jim?" Blair asked when the waiter left.

"That was Simon. He needs us at a crime scene."

"We're not on call tonight. Why us?"

"It's a homicide, Chief."

Blair frowned. If Major Crime was being called in on a homicide, it 
wouldn't be an ordinary one. And for Jim to be singled out, the 
situation was dire. Captain Simon Banks only called in his best 
detective for the really gruesome deaths or ones in a series. Whatever 
it was, a civilian probably shouldn't see it, except him. Not that he 
was used to such scenes, but backing Jim was his job. "Do we have time 
to take Amanda home first?"

Jim regarded his female companion with the kind of stare that made 
Blair nervous. The Sentinel could read far deeper than most were 
comfortable with. "That's not necessary, is it, Amanda?" Jim asked 
casually. "Amanda is not the squeamish type, Chief. Besides, this kind 
of murder is right up her alley."

Amanda dropped her eyes and focused on her napkin. "What kind of 
murder, Jim?" Blair finally asked when he saw the other two weren't 
going to elaborate.

"A beheading, Chief."

The waiter came and Jim scribbled his name, then stood to pull out 
Amanda's chair. She was silent as he helped her with her jacket and 
escorted her to the truck. Blair was quiet too as he tried to figure 
out what was going on. At the loft Jim had intimated Amanda was some 
kind of thief, but said nothing about homicidal tendencies. Surely that 
would have been worth a sentence or two. "Jim, I'm confused," he 
admitted as his partner pulled out of the parking lot.

"Nothing to be confused about, Chief. Remember that shoe I was telling 
you about?" Blair nodded. "Well, it just fell."

Chapter Two

"Jim, we could leave you at the crime scene and I can take Amanda home 
and come back for you," Blair offered as a compromise. It just didn't 
feel right dragging their visitor to a gruesome murder. What would she 
do? Just stand there over the body and watch them work?

"You are a sweetheart, Chief," Amanda said, praising his efforts at 
defending her sensibilities. "But it's okay. Staying with you and Jim 
is probably for the best."

"Does that mean you're in danger?" Jim asked curtly.

"I'm always in danger," she said flippantly.

Jim reached down to cover one of her hands. "You know I'll protect 

She entwined her fingers in his. "Maybe this time I'm here to protect 
you," Amanda said softly.

Jim saw the flashing blue lights ahead and knew the discussion was 
over-- for now. "You'll explain what that means later." She nodded 
obediently but he wasn't fooled. Amanda knew how to avoid the truth in 
more ways than Blair did. He sighed and got out of the truck. It was 
going to be a long night.

"Hi detective, Sandburg, ma'am," a young uniform called as they walked 
toward the area highlighted by a series of halogen lamps. Jim 
automatically adjusted his enhanced sight, only then realizing that 
there were no lights in the area. True, it was a clear field but there 
was a housing development one block over. There should have been 
streetlights. He also noticed something else. "Ozone," he murmured.

"What's that, Jim?" Blair asked from the other side of Amanda.

"I smell fried ozone, Chief, like after a lightning strike."

Blair looked up at the sky. A zillion stars winked back. "No evidence 
of a recent storm," he said, puzzled.

Jim shrugged it off. "What you got, Richards?" he asked the eager 

"One male, approximately in his early to mid thirties. His head is 
here; his body is there. Doesn't appear to be an accident, sir."

"With observation skills like that, officer, you should be a detective 
in no time," Jim joked, trying to ease the tension he felt in young 
Richards. Either he was getting old or the police department was 
recruiting from middle schools these days. "Why is it so dark around 

"Power outage. That's how the victim was discovered. The power company 
guy came out here to see if a line had been damaged. Stumbled right 
over the body."

"Where is he?"

"In the back of my cruiser." Richards pointed to his police car. "He's 
pretty badly shaken."

"I can imagine." He felt a shudder and looked at the woman on his arm. 
"You okay?"

"Yeah, I just want to see the head." From the size of the body, she was 
pretty sure things had not gone the way they should have, but she 
needed to be certain. Jim escorted her over to the rest of the remains, 
ignoring the curious stares of the other officers. She looked at the 
face and closed her eyes. "Damn it," she muttered softly.

"I take it this isn't who you were hoping to find?" Jim questioned just 
as softly. Leave it to Amanda to be up to her pretty little eyes in his
investigation. As if he hadn't known this was going to happen. He 
looked up when he heard the arrival of more vehicles. Simon, Dan Wolfe, 
who was the coroner, and Cassie Wells, head of forensics started toward 
them. "Chief," he called. "Take Amanda back to the truck and stay with 
her." He heard the protest even before his partner opened his mouth. 
"I'll call you if I need you." But he didn't think he would. After all, 
the answers he needed wouldn't come from the crime scene.

Captain Banks drifted away from his two companions to intercept the 
police observer and the woman he escorted. "Sandburg, could I see you a 

Blair told Amanda to go on to the truck and he took the few steps to 
meet the captain. "Jim's with the body... and the head."

Simon nodded. "Is that a witness?" he asked, pointing toward the 
beautiful woman heading toward Jim's truck.


"You brought your lady to a crime scene, Sandburg? Well, that's 

"She's not my lady," Blair hurried to explain. "She's Jim's."

Simon scowled. "What the hell is he thinking... with?" he added as he 
appreciatively took in the long slim legs revealed by the minute skirt 
of her dress. "Have I seen her before?"

"I doubt it, captain. She and Jim go way back. She was waiting in the 
loft when we got home from the station."

"In the loft?"


"And Ellison didn't have her arrested?"

"No. He just took us out to dinner. Of course, by that point she had 
already moved her stuff into his room."

Simon sighed. Only one thing could pull his best team off track-- 
women. "This isn't another Lila, I hope." Lila, another woman from 
Jim's past, ended up being a hitwoman. That she died saving Jim was a 
plus, but didn't take away from the fact she had been hired to kill 

"I think Amanda is in a class all by herself, Simon," Blair said, not 
disputing the captain's worry. He was starting to get concerned 
himself. He'd only caught part of what Jim and Amanda said over the 
body, but he realized Amanda apparently knew the victim. And Jim hadn't 
said a word. Not good. Maybe it had something to do with their covert 
past. Again, not good. "Jim told me to keep an eye on her, so I'm 
assuming he's on his guard."

"Don't assume, Sandburg. You be his guard. Understand?"

Blair nodded and quietly joined Amanda by the truck. "That's Captain 
Banks?" she asked, eyeing the tall, handsome man ambling to the crime 
scene. "Maybe I should hang out with cops more often." When Blair just 
continued to stare in the darkness, she sighed. "You're very protective 
of him, aren't you?"

That got Blair's attention. "What do you mean?"

"At the loft, the restaurant, you couldn't get enough of me. One hint 
that I might cause Jim trouble and suddenly, the temperature has fallen 
close to freezing. Your loyalty to Jim is admirable."

"He's earned it."

Amanda smiled. "I know that. I'm here because he's earned mine too. 
Believe me, Chief, I want to protect him as much as you do."

"Why? And I don't mean the bedtime stories you told at dinner."

"Take away my best props, why don't you?" she complained lightly. "I 
used to be in the circus, Chief. The Amazing Amanda. Acrobatics, high-
wire, magic, the works. I dazzled them all; young, old, male, female. 
Some was skill, most sleight-of-hand. I guess that's my life in a 
nutshell. It's all about the scam and it has worked for me for a long 
time-- trust me, that's not an understatement," Amanda added with a 

She sobered and stared into the night. "I don't regret my life. For the 
most part, it's been fun and one big adventure. But sometimes, you want 
more. Can you understand that?"

The question affected Blair more than she knew. He had wandered from 
adventure to adventure starting as a tagalong to his flower child 
mother and then on his own as an anthropologist. She was right; it had 
been fun. Then he'd met Jim and a whole different adventure had begun. 
And as far as the scams were concerned, he'd been involved in his share 
of those too. "Yeah, Amanda, I understand. It's starting to get weird 
how much we have in common."

She looked at him, first in disbelief then with grudging 
acknowledgment. There was something in his eyes that looked very 
familiar. "Let me give you a piece of advice then-- never scam a Scot. 
Believe me, they just won't buy it. I should have realized that when I 
first met Jim but at the time I thought it was only one particular 
Highlander that I couldn't fool. But I was wrong, Chief.

"I was in Turkey; that part I didn't lie about at dinner. But instead 
of stealing secret intelligence for a government agency, what I really 
stole was a stunning diamond necklace. Whoever cut those stones was a 
genius. Each facet so--"

"You're drifting," Blair warned as her eyes took on a strange glint.

"Sorry, Chief." She banished the memory of the necklace from her mind. 
The loss hurt too much anyway. "The owner of the necklace starts 
chasing me down the street and I was scared to death. They have very 
strict, very nasty laws about thievery in that part of the world. 
Anyway, I see this handsome American officer in his perfectly pressed 
uniform and I run up to him, begging for his help. I weave this tale 
about my being a fellow American unfairly accused of a crime. I hide 
behind him and he confronts the Turk convincing the man I am innocent 
because I had just flown in to meet him, my fiance. How could I have 
possibly planned a jewelry heist? I thought I could work a scam, but 
Jim has the face of innocence down pat. Hell, Chief, even I started to 
believe I hadn't taken the necklace." She laughed in remembrance.

"After the Turk left, thoroughly convinced he had chased the wrong 
person, Jim invited me to dinner. Of course I said yes. Toward the end 
of the meal, he casually mentioned the strict laws Turkey had for 
stealing, how I could get lost in the prison system and never see the 
light of day again. But if he was to speak to that Turk tomorrow and 
find out the necklace had miraculously reappeared, then I wouldn't have 
to worry about what the Turkish authorities would do to me. I was a bit 
miffed that he'd figured me out and I cooly told him I wasn't worried, 
that by tomorrow I would be miles and miles away. I expected a retort, 
maybe a threat. But he merely smiled and said that I couldn't get away 
from him, that he would find me.

"I should have laughed. There was always one man or another telling me 
he would find me and exact revenge, but they never did. They're usually 
quite serious about it and this man was smiling when he said the words. 
Yet, I believed him. It took every ounce of willpower I had, but the 
Turk was able to tell Jim he was sorry for the trouble he had caused 
because the necklace hadn't been stolen, merely misplaced in the wrong 

"Didn't returning it make you feel better?" Blair asked.

Amanda looked at him in pity. Such naivete. "No. But Jim did. We were 
together for seven glorious days and nights."

"So Jim earned your loyalty by making you toe the straight and 
narrow," Blair guessed.

"Alas, the lesson didn't take, Chief. Once the seven days were over, I 
headed right back to the crooked and wide," she admitted shamelessly. 
"The next time I ran into Jim someone was after me again. But this one 
didn't want me in prison; he wanted me dead."

"What had you stolen this time?"

"Precisely the question I expected from Jim. But he merely took care of 
the situation for me."

"So you claim to be protecting Jim now because he protected you 

She shook her head. "I'm loyal to Jim because he saw, he sees, the real 
Amanda and likes her anyway. He could save my life a thousand times and 
it couldn't increase what I feel for him simply because when I needed 
help, he took me in."

"Amanda, we are so much alike, it's scary," Blair remarked hauntedly. 
Jim had seen him at his worse and not only had taken him in, but kept 
him. No matter how often he screwed up, the door to the loft remained 
open to him. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say we were twins."

"Maybe in the cosmic sense," she said with a smile. "So, does that mean 
you believe I'm not a threat to Jim?"

"Yeah. But if you're not the threat, who is?"

Her eyes narrowed as she focused on the crime scene. "That's what I'm 
about to find out. Who is that red-haired hussy brushing up against 

Blair laughed at the description. "That's Cassie Wells. She's head of 
forensics. You have nothing to worry about, though. Jim barely 
tolerates her."

"Can't scam a Scot," she repeated softly. "So what do you think of her, 

"Jim and Simon have warned me away from her."

Amanda nodded emphatically. "Listen to your friends, Chief, and if you 
won't, listen to your 'twin'. If all poisons were bitter, no one would 

He was about to compliment her analogy when he noticed she was halfway 
back to the site. He scrambled to catch up with her. "Hey, where are 
you going?"

"Danger is danger, Chief, and I promised to protect Jim. If that means 
making sure Miss Cassie Wells keeps her distance, so be it."

Chapter Three

Jim easily heard their approach. "I was just coming to tell you guys to 
go on to the loft. I have a witness to interview and a report to file 
so it's going to take a while."

"I can take Amanda home, then come back," Blair offered.

"That's okay, Chief. I'll bum a ride to the station and back home." His 
blue eyes made an appeal to Simon, who nodded.

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends, Jim?" Amanda asked 

"Forgive my slip," Jim said, wondering what she was up to. He was 
pretty sure she'd already grilled Blair about his companions. "Amanda, 
this is my captain, Simon Banks. And this is Cassie Wells who heads our 
forensics department."

"I'm sorry your dinner was interrupted," Simon said politely as he 
quickly assessed Jim's latest lady. She was beautiful, but... He shook 
his head, not able to label what bothered him.

"Were you at dinner with Blair or Jim?" Cassie asked impertinently.

"Both," Amanda replied with a smile to the men.

"They didn't stick with you with the check, did they?"

Amanda's eyes widened in disbelief. "These gentlemen would never do 
something like that to a friend. They are both just so sweet. I'm sure 
they're going to pamper me my whole visit. Jim even cleared a drawer or 
two for me."

"You're staying at the loft?"

Amanda made sure to lean back against Jim as she answered. "Where else 
would I stay? Jim doesn't mind and neither do you, do you, Chief?"

"No, of course not. You and Jim go way back. Who am I to stand in the 
way of that?" he replied, trying to ignore the strange looks he was 
getting because Amanda called him Chief.

"You're Jim's best friend, that's who," Amanda said. "And I know better 
than to try to come between you two. It's quite obvious you're a team."

"Well, Blair, if you ever start feeling like a third wheel, you can 
come and crash at my place," Cassie offered, touching him on the arm.

Quick as a flash, Amanda maneuvered Blair away from Cassie and to her 
side. "I'm partial to third wheels, Cassie. They provide balance and 
company when the other wheel has to work. Come on, Chief, we need to go 
home and let Jim do what he has to. Captain, it was nice meeting you. 
Jim," she kissed him soundly, "don't work too late. Cassie, take 
care." Amanda's flashing eyes made it a warning. Both Jim and Blair 
were under her protection.

Simon grinned when Cassie turned away in a huff. "Your Amanda seems to 
share in your opinion of the feisty Ms. Wells."

"The Amazing Amanda knows all," Jim said softly.


Jim shook his head. "Nothing, Simon. Let's go have a talk with that 
power company guy."


It was the wee hours of the morning when Simon let Jim out in front of 
the loft. Thankfully the captain was as tired as he was, Jim thought as 
he dug in his pockets for his keys. Minimum questions about Amanda, a 
few vague warnings, that was all Simon had said on the way home. But 
tomorrow, he'd probably call his detective into the office and demand 
an explanation. But then, hopefully, by that time Jim would have an 
explanation handy.

He heard their voices as he approached the door. "I'm sorry I'm so 
late," he apologized as he shrugged out of his jacket. "But I'm glad 
you stayed up. We really need to talk." He joined them in the living 
area. Blair was in sweats and Amanda had apparently not only moved some 
of his things but borrowed them as well. His Cascade P.D. T-shirt made 
her look adorable, even innocent. "Ready to tell me what's going on, 

"No," she replied honestly. "And believe me, if the body found tonight 
was the right one, you wouldn't be hearing this story. Baring my soul 
to Chief here was bad enough."

"You bared your soul to Blair?" Jim looked at his roommate in 
admiration. He managed to keep Amanda from lying, but a look at her 
soul had always been out of his reach.

"Had to if I planned on turning my back on him anytime soon."

"She's exaggerating, Jim," Blair said defensively.

"Am not. Your friend was very sweet and kind to me until he thought I 
was going to hurt you or get you into trouble. After that he was so 
menacing I had to explain some of my deeper thoughts until he believed 
I was here to protect you."

"This is the second time you've mentioned protecting me, Amanda," Jim 
said softly. "Maybe you should begin by explaining that. Does it have 
anything to do with our mutual past?"

"No, Jim. It's not about you and me. It's about you and Blair."

"Blair's in danger too?" Amanda nodded. The calm, patient Jim 
disappeared. Danger to himself was just part of the life he'd chosen; 
danger to his partner was an entirely different matter. One that had to 
be taken care of with expediency. "Damn it, Amanda, stop playing games 
and tell me!"

"Wow. That protective streak runs both ways, doesn't it," she remarked, 
touched by the way both men looked out for each other. She'd seen this 
type of companionship before and she felt sorry for anyone who tried to 
separate them. Maybe she wasn't needed here after all.


"Sorry, Jim," she said sheepishly. "Just trying to get my thoughts 
together so that this makes some sense. A few years ago, some guy 
discovered a set of prophecies by a Robert McTeague."

"Xavier Richoff," Blair imparted, recognizing McTeague's name. "He was 
a famous archaeologist. He found the prophecies, then before he could
translate what they said, he died when his house caught fire. The 
prophecies were destroyed as well."

"He didn't just die, Chief," Amanda pointed out.

"No, some believe it was suicide because of what he'd read. After all, 
why would he have had the originals and copies with him when his house 

Amanda shook her head. "It wasn't a suicide either. He was murdered and 
his murderer took the prophecies."

"You know this to be a fact?" Jim asked. He had been content to let 
them discuss the archaeologist and his prophecies but murder was his 

"Yes. Because it is his murderer that is after you."

"Why?" Blair and Jim asked at the same time.

"For some insane reason, he thinks one of the prophecies is about the 
two of you. I'm not sure how he came to that conclusion," she said 

"Do you know what the prophecy says?" Blair asked.

"Something about a guy with the wisdom of the ages and a guy with the 
power of his senses joining together and ruling the world forever. I 
admit I stopped listening when I heard it was you he was after, Jim. I 
just hopped on a plane and came to Cascade." Amanda was so busy telling 
her story that she failed to see the meaningful glance between Jim and 

"Robert McTeague lived about a thousand years ago," Blair hurriedly 
observed. "I'm sure his prophesies are open to misinterpretation, not 
to mention bad translation."

"It doesn't matter whether the prophecy is true. What does matter is 
that Coy Duvall believes it and has targeted the two of you," Amanda 

"How do you know this?" Jim demanded. "Who is this Coy Duvall to you 
and why did he tell you this?"

"He didn't tell me. Jim. I barely know the man."

"But you knew he wasn't the dead body found tonight."

"The body tonight was one of the committee sent here to protect you."

Jim rubbed his temples and wondered if he shouldn't have put this 
conversation off until he was better rested. Amanda never took the 
forward approach to the truth. She preferred batting it around for 
awhile, then coming at it from an angle. Why hadn't he remembered that? 
"What kind of committee, Amanda? And if Duvall didn't tell you what was 
going on, who did?"

Amanda nervously brushed her fingers through her hair as she paced the 
loft. "Just to make this easier in telling, let's just say Duvall 
belongs to a club and his fellow club members don't like what he wants 
to do."

"You a member of this club, Amanda?" She nodded. "And was it club 
business that required you decapitate the man I killed for you in 

Blair's head snapped toward his partner. He'd been sitting back 
listening, trying to sort out fact from fiction as Amanda talked. But 
he had to react to this. "Jim?"

"It was a righteous shooting, Chief. The man came after us with a 
sword. I went to contact the authorities. When I returned, the guy was 
minus his head and Amanda had disappeared."

"It was something that had to be done, Jim."

"The man was already dead," he stated flatly.

"No, he wasn't."

"I don't know dead, Amanda? I put a bullet through his heart." The kill 
shot had been instinctive.

"But he wasn't really dead until I took his head," Amanda argued. "You 
don't understand, Jim."

"Then make me understand, Amanda. I think you owe me that much."

She thought about what she'd confided to Blair. "You're right. I do owe 
you." And it's something you have to know anyway. "I could do this more
dramatically, perhaps," she said as she headed toward the kitchen, "but 
I'm really not into pain."

Something in her voice tipped Jim off. "What are you planning, 
Amanda?" he asked anxiously, rising from his chair to watch her. He saw 
her take the butcher knife from the cutlery block on the cabinet. 
"Don't, sweetheart," he pleaded, when he saw her intention.

"Shit," Blair swore softly beside him as he saw Amanda holding the 
knife over her wrist. What the hell had happened? "Amanda, what are you 
doing?" he asked in a hushed whisper.

"Making you understand." Squinting her eyes shut, she brought the knife 
down deeply across her wrist.

"Call 911, Chief!" Jim yelled as he sprinted to Amanda. She stood 
there, watching the blood stream from her arm and he knew she was in 
shock. He also knew he had to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. 
He reached for a clean dishtowel.

"God, I hate blood," Amanda muttered. The things I do just because a 
man likes me. She looked up to see the panicked men in action. "Hang up 
the phone, Chief," she ordered softly. By that time Jim had taken her 
wrist into his hand and started to wrap the towel around it. Then he 

"Tell the 911 operator you made a mistake, Chief."

Blair frowned. He'd ignored Amanda's order, but this one came from Jim. 
He apologized and hung up the phone. "Jim, she needs medical attention, 

"No, she doesn't," Jim said hollowly. He revealed the wrist he still 
held in his hand. There was only a faint red mark where the laceration 
used to be.

"What the hell?" Blair looked at Amanda angrily. "You pulling your 
stupid carnival tricks on us, Amanda? That's sick!"

"It wasn't a trick," Jim said. "I saw it, felt it, healing, Chief." He 
looked at the wrist one more time, then at the lady it belonged to. 
"Who are you? What are you?"

"I am an Immortal."

Chapter Four

"Why don't we go back to the sofa," Jim suggested, breaking the silence 
that had fallen in the loft.

"I'm fine, Jim," Amanda protested. "I don't need to sit down."

"Yeah, but we do," he explained, gathering Blair with his eyes.

Blair thought about Alice falling into a rabbit hole and knew she 
couldn't have felt as displaced as he was right now. "You're immortal? 
As in, 'can't die'?"

"As in, 'can die', but only if you take my head."

"I think I'm going to be sick."

"You eventually get used to it, Chief," Amanda said knowledgeably.

"The victim tonight, the man I shot in Rome, hell, this entire club you 
talked about. You're all..." Jim shook his head, not in disbelief but 
bewilderment. Since finding out he was a sentinel, he was far more open 
in his thinking. Three or four years ago, he would have simply laughed 
in her face and called her a liar. But now, he merely struggled to 
comprehend what he'd been told.

"We are Immortals, Jim. There are quite a few of us and doubtlessly, 
you know more of us than you think. There are no physical differences 
between us and mortals."

"Except for the part where we die," Blair said dryly. "Where do you 
come from? Are there any distinguishing features about your people?"

"We don't know where we come from, Chief, or how we arrive here. All of 
us are foundlings, taken in, adopted, whatever. We start out as babies, 
which is a mystery in itself since we can't have children. As far as 
distinguishing features, we are as diverse as mortals. Males, females, 
Black, White, Asian, you name it." She hesitated for a second.

"But?" Blair prompted. He was still pretty shocky over the whole 
discovery but he was beginning to see the anthropological significance 
of such a society. And the historical value...

"I can recognize an Immortal when I meet one. Something goes off in our 
heads when another Immortal is nearby. Sorta like a buzzer."

"You all get the same reaction?"

"Most of us. However, there is this one guy who always sneezes when one 
is around."

Blair smiled at that. "There must be a reason for this recognition 
mechanism," he mused aloud.

"Oh, that's an easy one, Chief. We recognize each other so we know who 
to kill," Amanda replied blithely.

"You've been given this gift and you use it to kill each other?" Blair 
sputtered in outrage.

Amanda perched beside him and patted his hand. "It's alright, Chief. 
It's what we're supposed to do. It's part of the Game."

"Doesn't sound too friendly to me," Jim remarked mockingly.

Amanda crossed her arms and stared at the two stubborn men. Apparently, 
she was going to have to give the long version of the story. "Immortals 
have a power, an essence, which is called the quickening. It is 
released when he or she is killed and absorbed by the nearest Immortal 
around, usually the killer, making that Immortal stronger. In the time 
of the gathering, which is now, the Immortals battle and in the end 
there will be only one and that Immortal will rule the world."

"So, in other words, you and your kind just go around offing each other 
when you cross paths?" Jim asked. As if there wasn't enough violence in 
the world.

"You make us sound like barbarians," Amanda huffed defensively. "We 
have rules. How do you think we've kept ourselves hidden from mortals 
all these centuries? We don't fight in public. And we absolutely, 
positively, don't fight on Holy Ground."

"What happens if an Immortal is killed on Holy Ground?" Blair inquired 

Amanda shrugged. "Rumor has it that the only time an Immortal committed 
such a sin was in Pompeii in 79 A.D."

Blair paled. That was the year the city was completely destroyed by the 
eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Nothing survived. "What are the other 

"Just like in the mortal world, they depend on whether you're a good 
guy or a bad one. The bad ones stick to the first two on a regular 
basis. They don't kill on Holy Ground, nor do they fight in front of 
mortals.. The good guys, my side," she asserted with a smile, "believe 
in honorable combat. That means we can't interfere in someone's else's 
fight once in starts. We don't gang up to take out another Immortal. We 
don't attack innocents. And we generally stay away from fighting if 
possible. However, we do defend ourselves and those who are 
defenseless. It's really quite civilized. Believe me, I have several 
close Immortal friends and I would never consider killing them-- unless 
they needed it."

"So is Duvall bad or good?" Jim asked.

"We all thought he was okay until this prophecy thing took over."

"What rule is he breaking? Teaming up, according to you, is 
discouraged, yet Duvall is doing something so awful that is has a 
committee of you trying to protect Blair and me. What is it? Do you not 
come after mortals?"

Amanda looked across at Jim, wondering how to phrase her answer without 
hurting him. He was a most capable man, but no match for a seasoned
Immortal and it was important he knew that. "The general consensus is 
that mortals die, so what? It may seem cruel and some of us with 
stronger consciences than others, find it troubling. But unless the 
Immortal's actions are threatening to reveal our existence, we 
generally stay out of it."

"So what makes us so special?" Jim reiterated. It bothered him that 
there were people dying protecting him. Protection was his job, his 
specialty. The sacrifice of even one life for his was not acceptable.

"You're defenseless, Jim. You may have managed to shoot Duvall before 
he killed you, but as soon as you turned your back he would have taken 
you. At least now you possess the knowledge of how to kill him 
permanently. But you still lack the skill." His flinch was so tiny she 
almost missed it, but she realized maybe she had been too blunt. Damn 
it. As long as she had been handling men and their fragile egos, she 
should have been better at this.

"I can handle a sword." Blair and Amanda stared at him. "Dad made both 
of his sons take fencing. It was to help us with coordination and build 
upper arm strength, something he thought his two quarterbacks should 
have. Then I took it up again in the Army."

"I had no idea," Blair said, constantly astonished by his friend's 
hidden talents.

"You know my Army training, Chief. If it's a way to kill, I had to 
learn it."

"This is good," Amanda announced eagerly, hoping he wasn't just trying 
to salvage his pride. But she'd never known Jim to boast. "We'll have a 
practice session tomorrow. Maybe see if you're a little rusty, share a 
few pointers, that sort of thing."

"I don't have a sword. It's not like I thought I would need one again."

She waved away his concern. "Not a problem. I'll take care of it."

"Fine," Jim said, abruptly getting to his feet. "Is there anything else 
we absolutely have to know tonight or can we just go to bed and start 
again tomorrow?"

"Jim," Blair wailed. "We can't stop now, man. Do you know how many 
questions I need to ask Amanda. We haven't even gotten around to 
finding out how old she is."

"Jim's right," Amanda agreed hastily. "The rest can wait. I'm not going 
anywhere and I promise to answer all your questions-- if they're not 
too personal. I'm sure your mother taught you never to ask a lady her 
age, Chief," she chided.

"I don't know about that, Amanda," Jim commented as he checked the 
locks on the door and started clicking off lights. "You don't know 

"Very funny, Jim," Blair complained. "I don't know how you expect me to 
sleep when I have all these questions. Moments like this don't--" he 
paused to yawn-- "occur every day, you know."

"I know, Chief. But it's been a long day and we need clear minds to 
handle this properly. Amanda's going to stick around. In fact, I'll 
hold onto her all night just so you can be certain she won't leave. 
Does that make you feel better?" Jim asked with a grin.

"The fact that I'm going to bed with a few thousand questions and 
you're going with a beautiful woman? No, Jim. That does not make me 
feel better, man," Blair replied with a rueful smile. He got to his 
feet, surprised to feel exhaustion tugging at him. Maybe Jim was right 
about getting some sleep. "Good night, guys."

"Good night, Chief," they chorused.

"So, Jim, how tired are you?" Amanda asked as they walked up the stairs 

"I don't know, Amanda. How old are you?"

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"Seducing little old women just isn't my style."

"I'll give you old," she said, thrusting her elbow into his stomach. He 
bent over laughing. "Besides, who said you could do the seducing? I'll 
have you know I learned the art when it was considered an art form. I 
could probably teach you a thing or two."

His arms came around her. "Okay, teach. I'm all yours."


"Morning, Chief," Jim called as he came downstairs. He'd heard his 
partner shower, then start the coffee.

"Morning, Jim. Should I make breakfast for three?"

Jim joined Blair in the kitchen. "Yeah, go ahead. Amanda's still 
sleeping, but I'll wake her after I shower. I don't think it's a good 
idea if we separate today." He looked at the floor. "I see you wiped up 
the blood. With all that went on, I forgot about it."

"I did too, man, until I came in here to make the coffee. You okay with 
last night?" Blair asked in concern. Sometimes it was hard figuring out 
how Jim was feeling. He was so used to hiding his emotions.

Jim shrugged. "Amanda is an Immortal. Whether I'm okay with that or 
not, won't change anything."

"And the fact that one of these Immortals is after us?"

"SOP for us, isn't it, Chief?"

Blair reluctantly nodded. When had having a killer after him become 
standard operating procedure and why didn't it frighten him more? 
Apparently his first anthropology professor had been right; man could 
adapt to almost any conditions. "So what's on today's Do List?"

"We need to go down to the station and have a talk with Simon." His 
roommate gave him a dubious look. "Not about that. But he should know 
this Duvall guy is after us. Then if we can get Amanda to agree, we 
should visit with our self-proclaimed bodyguards."

"It bothers you that guy was killed last night."

"Hell, yes, it bothers me, Chief."

"Because these people assume you can't take care of yourself?" He 
certainly knew the feeling-- too well.

"Because someone died, Chief. In my city. In my name. I don't agree 
with the way Amanda and her friends are handling this situation, but I 
understand their motivation. It's the same excuse the government has 
used for its police actions around the globe: the assumption is made 
that said native is not only too weak to defend himself but too stupid 
to even comprehend the danger. Bad politics but good intentions... Who 
I'm pissed at is Duvall. He reads something that is probably no more 
prophetical than the weatherman's forecast and decides he has the right 
to kill us. That is arrogance, plain and simple."

"Maybe it comes with being an Immortal," Blair hazarded. "Can you 
imagine how it feels to have lived through history? To have seen the 
rise and fall of kingdoms and nations? To have watched disease ravage 
the land and know you're safe? To go into battle and know you will not 

"To have to cut off someone's head because he's trying to take yours?"

Blair's animated face became still. "Man, you just have to suck the 
romance out of everything, don't you?"

"Just trying to make you shed those rose-colored glasses, Chief," Jim 
replied. Sometimes his partner got too caught up in life, then life, 
usually unfortunately, would catch up with him. "We're dealing with 
killers, Blair. Always remember that."

Blair nodded solemnly and Jim went to take his shower. Jim was right; 
now was not the time to be elevating these Immortals to gods. These 
people had been trained to kill, to ruthlessly slice off their 
opponents' heads. Constantly pursued, constantly pursuing.

"Morning, Chief. Lost in thought?" The anthropologist hadn't even 
noticed her come down the stairs.

"Why don't you so-called good Immortals just retire to Holy Ground and 
let the bad ones fight it out among themselves?" he asked abruptly.

"Ah, the thousand questions begin." She adjusted the tie on her robe. 
"Why don't you and Jim just let evil take over Cascade? You're not even 
a cop, yet you do not stay in the shadows where it's safe, do you? Good 
must fight evil. Chief. It is the way of nature." Amanda looked at him 
with very sad eyes. "There was one, an Immortal named Darius. He 
participated in some of the most bloody wars in history. Then one day, 
he gained enlightenment. He became a priest and vowed never to lift the 
sword again. Of all the deaths I have experienced, both mortal and 
Immortal, I think his was the most devastating."

"He left Holy Ground?"

"No. He was killed in his church." Her eyes flashed dangerously. "By a 
group of mortals who know about us."

"I'm sorry, Amanda," Blair said quickly, feeling guilty for what his 
own kind had done.

She shrugged off his sympathy. "It's over and done. Death is just as 
much a part of immortality as life. It's something we all come to learn 

"Do Immortals fall in love with mortals?"

"Frequently. There are more of you than there are us, you know."


"And we watch them all die. Friends, lovers, people we consider family. 
They all die and we know that from the moment we love them. I think 
that's why it's so hard to lose an Immortal like Darius. You start 
depending on him to be around and when he's not... This is certainly a 
gloomy way to start the day, Chief," Amanda said suddenly, shaking off 
the depression that had started to descend. "Breakfast should be served 
with a smile, not a tear."

"You're absolutely right, Amanda. You like eggs?" Blair asked, turning 
around to the stove.

"I like anything I don't have to cook. Where's Jim?"

"In the shower."

"Now there's a sight that could brighten my day." She headed toward the 

Blair wondered if he should put breakfast on hold, but five minutes 
later the bathroom door opened and Jim stepped out, ducking as a bar of 
soap flew across the space where his head used to be. "You tease!" 
Amanda shouted as he reached back and shut the door.

Jim picked up the soap and brought it to the kitchen sink, still 
laughing. "Think she's so hot at me, she won't notice when the--" 
Amanda's indignant shriek almost deafened him-- "hot water runs out?"

"I guess she no longer wonders why you don't have a wife," Blair said, 
amused by Jim's playfulness. The big guy apparently was handling things 
okay. "You know it was a rotten thing for you to do, considering you're 
taking her to the station. There wouldn't be any stories you wouldn't 
want her telling the guys, would there?"

"Oh, shit," Jim muttered as he hurried back toward the bathroom. 
"Amanda, sweetheart, I'm sorry for not warning..."

Blair continued making breakfast, occasionally chuckling as his partner 
pleaded in the background. Just another glorious morning in Cascade.

Chapter Five

Jim eyed Amanda apprehensively as he and Blair headed toward Simon's 
office. She was sitting at his desk and already the rest of the Major 
Crime guys were inching in her direction. He thought he'd made up for 
the morning prank but he wasn't sure.

"Come on, Jim," Blair ordered beside him. "You have to trust you'll 
still have a reputation when we get back. Of course, what kind of 
reputation that will be..." He grinned at his friend's discomfiture. 
"Good morning, captain." He opened the door and stepped inside, leaving 
Jim no choice but to follow.

"What's got you so happy this morning, Sandburg?" Simon asked as he 
looked at the two men entering his office. "And what's got your partner 
so worried?"

"Amanda's at his desk and the rest of the guys are sniffing around."

"He's worried about Amanda?"

"He's worried about himself. Amanda knows quite a bit about him and he 
made the mistake of using all the hot water this morning."

Simon smiled and put his hand on the phone. "Should I call out there 
and tell someone to start the tape recorder?"

"Everyone's a comedian today," Jim griped as he settled into a chair. 
"We have information concerning last night's murder, sir."

All joking was immediately put aside. "What do you have, Jim?"

"We have reason to believe the victim is not the intended target or 
targets for the killer."

"This guy just got in the way? An innocent bystander?"

"No, sir. He intentionally put himself between the murderer and the 

Simon shook his head. "No matter how many times we tell people to go to 
the police, some of them still insist on hiring private security. Give 
me the names of the intended victims and I'll see if I can't convince 
them to use the police to help with this problem."

Jim looked at his partner, then straightened in the chair. "Blair 
Sandburg and Jim Ellison."

The captain took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. "You're joking, 
right? Of course you're not. It's never a joke when you two are under 
the gun. I don't understand it. Most cops go through their whole 
careers without so much as a threat. But you two can't cross the street 
without someone trying to blow you away. Why is that, gentlemen?"

"We don't know, sir," Jim replied solemnly.

"Well, it's about time you figure it out," Simon said angrily. "Why am 
I just hearing about this? Why did someone have to die before you came 
to me?"

"We just found out ourselves, captain," Blair explained. "We didn't 
know someone was after us. We didn't know there were people trying to 
head the guy off."

Simon groaned and looked out into the bullpen. "What does she have to 
do with it?" He knew when he met her there was going to be trouble. 
What did he have to do? Neuter the two men in front of him? Probably 
wouldn't help. They could be eunuchs in a harem and still women would 
be their downfall.

Jim and Blair related what Amanda had told about the prophecy. Simon 
immediately caught on to the reference to Sentinel and Guide. "Does 
Amanda and these other club members know how close this Duvall is to 
the truth about the two of you?"

"No, sir. Apparently Duvall didn't let on why he was convinced we were 
the ones mentioned in the writings. I think they were hoping to talk 
some sense into Duvall and let it go."

"Well, I think we can safely assume that approach is not working," 
Simon said dryly. "Do we have an address on Duvall?"

"No, sir," Jim answered quietly. "And we have no reason to pick him up 
or search his home if we did. We only have Amanda's version of the 
story and I'm sure that wouldn't hold up before a judge."

"But you believe her?"


"And you, Sandburg?" He was hoping Jim's partner would be more 
objective, especially after their conversation the night before.

"She's telling the truth, captain." 

Simon sighed and wondered if it would help if he moved away. Took a job 
in Key West maybe. No, better to get off the continent altogether. Ha. 
As if an ocean could keep these two from complicating his life. "How do 
you wish to proceed, gentlemen?" Why did he have these conversations 
with them? Why didn't they just come in, tell him what they were going 
to do, and go do it? Nine times out of ten that's what happened, 
despite his input.

"We're hoping to talk with our would-be protectors. See if we can't 
come up with a plan to get Duvall out of the way, legally and with no 
more deaths. They apparently know him better than we do."

"But not nearly as well as they thought," Simon pointed out. "Do you 
want back up?"

Jim shook his head. "Already have too much of that, sir. We'll keep you 
informed, let you know if we get in over our heads."

"Sure you will," Simon said, not believing a moment of it. Jim meant 
well, but... "Just remember, gentlemen, you're targets. Watch your 

"We will." They stood to leave.

"Jim, stay a moment, please."

Jim looked at Blair and shrugged, sending his partner into the bullpen. 
"Yes, captain?"

"Stop with the captain for a minute, Jim. This is just you and me 
talking, friend to friend. What am I missing here?"

Jim frowned. "I don't understand."

"Neither do I. Something's just not right with this picture. There's a 
man trying to kill you. Has murdered once already in his attempt. You 
don't suggest Blair go to a safe house because you know it would be a 
waste of time. That part I get," Simon said as he chewed on the handle 
of his glasses. "But the Jim Ellison I know would be trying like holy 
hell to get his friend Amanda to safety-- even if it meant force. But 
here she is, tagging along with you as if nothing is wrong and instead 
of worrying about her, you're wondering what she's telling the guys? 
It's not adding up, my friend."

"Amanda is no ordinary woman," Jim said as honestly as he could without 
spilling her secret.

"Please don't tell me she's another paid assassin. Strong women are one 
thing, Jim, but, hell, man, you can do better."

Jim laughed softly. "Don't worry, Simon. Amanda is many things, but an 
assassin is not one of them. She's a survivor, sir, and quite frankly, 
our best hope in getting this mess resolved."

"There's still something you're not telling me," Simon argued.

"It's best that you not know," Jim finally admitted. "It would only 
confuse you, not enlighten."

"You sound like a man speaking from experience."

"Yes, sir. That I am."


"Master Chin," Jim said, cupping his hands and bowing to the older 
Chinese man who opened the door to the estate Amanda had directed them 
to after leaving the police station. Somehow, he wasn't surprised to 
find out this man was an Immortal. As a teen, he'd thought his teacher 
to be the wisest person he knew. Now he knew why.

"Student Ellison," the man replied with a similar bow. "Welcome to my 
humble abode." 

Jim looked at him, slightly startled. "I'm surprised you recognized me, 
master. I was only sixteen when I last saw you."

"Ah, the body ages and changes, my student, but the eyes remain the 
same as long as the soul does. Your soul is happier, but its essence is 
as I remember." Chin Wu smiled at his other visitors. "Amanda, you're 
looking well. I always did prefer you as a brunette rather than that 
ghastly blonde."

"Always complimentary, aren't you, Wu?" she said, smiling as well. "Why 
didn't you say something in the truck, Jim, to let us know you knew 

Blair chortled at the unintentional rhyme and Jim hastened to introduce 
him. "Master Chin, this is my associate, Blair Sandburg."

"Master Chin," Blair said respectfully.

"Mr. Sandburg, it is delightful to meet you. Come in, all of you. We 
have work to do, no?" Without waiting for an answer, he led them to 
what should have been a ballroom. Instead it was apparently a 
practice/workout room with a variety of swords on the wall, mats on the 
floor, and weights in the back.

"You know, if you'd told me Wu was your teacher I would have been a lot 
less worried," Amanda admonished.

"I was his student for less than two years. He and my dad disagreed on 
something and the next thing I knew, I was no longer taking fencing."

"Your father wanted to hold you back," Chin said as he took Jim's hand 
and held it up for inspection. "I wanted to push you forward. Perhaps 
we were both wrong." He walked over to a wall and chose a weapon. "You 
seem to have found yourself without either of us."

Amanda reached over her shoulder and pulled a sword from somewhere. 
Maybe it was another one of her magic tricks, Blair thought as she and 
Jim approached the center of the room. He and Chin watched the mock 
battle from the sidelines and even he recognized his partner was doing 
badly. "Well, he said it had been a while," he said to Chin 

Chin shook his head. "His greatest problem is that he is fighting the 
woman, not the swordsman. Does he not remember that the sword is a mere
extension of his arm? He need not fear it for it will do no damage that 
he does not command. He listens to you, Mr. Sandburg. Make him 

Before Blair could tell the man that he had grossly underestimated the 
control anyone had over Jim Ellison, the master was stepping out to the 
center of the room.

"Stop!" Chin called. He reached back to gather Blair by the arm and 
marched to the combatants. With a not-so-gentle nudge, he propelled 
Blair to his partner's side.

"I told you I was rusty, Chief," Jim said as he leaned over to rest his 
palms against his thighs. Chin was talking to Amanda across the room 
but he was too polite to listen in. Besides, he could figure out what 
they were discussing; his pathetic chances against Duvall.

"According to your old teacher, you weren't trying because of her. You 
need to remember what you were taught, Jim. The sword is supposed to be 
part of you. It will only hurt someone when you want it to. You don't 
have to stiffly hold back."

"It just feels so awkward doing this, you know? People in the twentieth 
century don't fight with swords. Maybe a knife, definitely a gun, but 
not a sword."

"Thing change. Yesterday this time, I thought all people eventually 
died. Now I've met two Immortals. And they fight with swords. Sometimes 
to the death. Remember how to do this, Jim. Your life may depend on it. 
Mine too."

"I hear you, Chief." Jim took a deep breath and forced himself to 
focus. This was not some exercise to test his reflexes. The Immortals 
took swordplay seriously and there was at least one of them out there 
trying to kill him. Worse, trying to kill Blair. The Sentinel grew 
fierce at the thought of his Guide in danger.

"Are you ready then, my student?" Chin asked as he stood before Jim, 
taking Amanda's place as his opponent.

Jim glanced at the weapon in his hand, extending his senses until the 
sword became a part of him. "I am ready, master."

The "battle" went more smoothly this time, their actions fluid, almost 
beautiful as they danced across the floor. "He's good," Amanda said, 
truly impressed. "Jim's always been a better magician than me, 
constantly pulling rabbits out of his hat when I need him to."

"I can relate."

She looked at him sharply. "I bet you have a few rabbits of your own."

Before he could reply, the cell phone in Jim's jacket pocket trilled. 
"Hello? Jim's busy right now, Simon... What?... Where?... We're on our 

"What is it?" Amanda asked, annoyed by the interruption.

"Another beheading."

"Who?" she asked anxiously.

"Don't know yet."

"Guess we're going to find that out," Jim said, as he came over to 
them. "Saw you on the phone, Chief, and figured it was Simon," he 
explained for Amanda's benefit. He turned to his old teacher. "Thank 
you for the refresher course, Master Chin."

"You and your associate are welcome here any time. I look forward to 
having you as a student, Mr. Sandburg," he added as he bowed toward 

"Me and a long knife? I don't think so," Blair responded hastily.

"You would be surprised to find what one can do to protect the ones he 
loves," Chin replied with an enigmatic smile. "Go, see which of us has 
fallen, Amanda. I shall light a candle for his soul."

"Well, light one for Duvall if this isn't him. I'm getting tired of 
losing friends." Her sword disappeared as she slipped into her jacket. 

"This may not be your fight, Amanda. Perhaps it does not belong to any 
of us and that is why we are failing," Chin warned.

"Are you telling me we should no longer protect--" She stopped herself, 
then continued. "I thought we all agreed innocents are not fair game."

"Perhaps it is time the innocents gained knowledge."

"Toward what purpose?"

"Their futures."

"I'll think about it. But for now, we continue as planned."

"As you wish, Amanda."

Jim waited until she was in the truck between him and Sandburg before 
questioning her. "What was that all about?"

"That what?" she asked innocently.

"Between Master Chin and you."

She sighed and stared straight ahead. "Trust me, Jim. You don't want to 

He nodded and figured she was right.

Chapter Six

"So am I right in assuming we still don't have our man?" Simon 
questioned as Jim and Blair came to make their report in his office.

"Duvall is still on the loose, sir," Jim confirmed. "This is a sketch 
of Duvall Amanda made and I've run the name through the DMV and the 

Simon nodded at the pretty decent sketch. "Have copies made and pass 
them out discreetly around here. For all we know, the man could be 
stalking you. At least then we would have a charge. By the way, where 
is the lady responsible for this? I thought the three of you were stuck 
together like paper dolls."

"There's been a call meeting of their committee. They're starting to 
wonder if their plan needs rethinking. Duvall has killed two of them. 
He's more dangerous than they thought."

"Well, are they considering bringing whatever evidence they have to the 
police? We don't need vigilante groups running around out there, Jim, 
no matter who they may be protecting." Simon toyed with the cigar he 
couldn't light on city property. "Don't they realize we cops take 
protecting our own seriously?"

"I think in the beginning they were trying to protect their own, 
captain," Blair said, trying to understand the Immortals' mindset. 
"They considered Duvall a colleague who was merely misguided. Now he is 
the enemy and has to be destroyed."

"What the hell do you mean by destroyed, Sandburg?" Simon stared hard 
at the younger man, a man he'd never known to condone the loss of human 
life, not even capital punishment. "We can get the guy on two counts of 
murder and threats against a police officer. That should put him away 
until he's old and gray. Won't that satisfy your newfound thirst for 

Blair looked at Jim with a quick apology. "I'm sorry, sir. Just got 
carried away for a moment."

"Uh huh," Simon said slowly, convinced more than ever that there was 
more to this case than met the eye. "Maybe it's all this swordplay 
that's got you clamoring for vengeance. But let me remind you, son, 
this is not a game or some drama presented by the Cascade Repertoire 
Company. Those two men aren't going to get up and walk away when the 
curtain comes down."

Jim felt sorry for Blair having to hear a lecture that he didn't 
deserve this time. "We both know this isn't a game, Simon, and we would 
really like to avoid any further deaths. The thought of people running 
around cutting each other's heads off is horrifying and sickening. We 
just want it to stop, sir. No matter what it takes."

Simon decided to ignore Jim's last statement. What he didn't hear, he 
couldn't be made to testify to. "So where were you when I called?"

"At Master Chin's."

"He's the guy who teaches sword fighting and other martial arts to 
kids, right?" His son Daryl had considered studying with him until ex-
wife Joan pitched a fit. "You think maybe he knows this Duvall guy?"

"He knows Duvall. Chin is part of the group, Simon."

The captain took off his glasses and tried to pinch away the pain that 
was starting to pound between his eyes. "So you were there to interview 
him in that respect, right, Jim? Tell me you didn't pick up a sword 
while you were there or had thoughts about doing so." His detective 
remained silent. "You're not only the intended victim in this, Jim, 
you're a cop."

"I know who I am, Simon. Unfortunately, so does Duvall."

Well, so much for trying to stop the headache. "This is your case, Jim, 
and it's you and Sandburg who have your asses on the line. I know you 
can be stubborn, vengeful, and downright mean when you want to be. But 
I also know you're an honorable man and I trust you won't do anything 
that would ever make me doubt that. So go do whatever it is you have to 
do to get yourselves safely out of this mess. I'll cover you as much as 
I can."

"Thank you, sir. I won't betray that trust," Jim vowed solemnly.

"I know, Jim. Now, why don't you clear out and let me have a word or 
two with your partner here." He tried to sound lighthearted but if the 
glances his men exchanged were any indication, he'd failed miserably. 
"No one is in any trouble, I assure you."

"What's up, captain?" Blair asked nervously when they were alone.

"You tell me. I thought I told you to watch out for him."

"I'm doing the best I can, Simon. You don't know how crazy all this has 

Simon searched his desk drawer for the bottle of aspirin he kept there. 
On one long boring afternoon, he had scratched out the brandname and
scribbled Sandburg in its place. How appropriate. "This isn't just
about some nut coming after the two of you, is it? Nah. Because that's 
not crazy. That's just the norm. So what is it? This Sentinel stuff? 
Jim's past covert activities?"

"Would you accept 'none of the above' as an answer?" Blair asked 

"Oh God," Simon moaned. "It's something new, isn't it? Tell me. No, I 
don't want to know. It has something to do with the swords, doesn't it? 
Some kind of ritual killing, am I right? This doesn't have to do with 
you, does it? You're the resident expert on rituals and tribal crap."

Blair got the captain some water and took the aspirin bottle out of his 
hand. He shook out two pills, made it three, then offered them to his 
friend. "Simon," he began, knowing the captain could be trusted. "Do 
you believe in immortality?"


"He took it well." Jim rolled his eyes. "Well, well for Simon," Blair 
explained more fully as they took the elevator to the main floor of the 
police station. "There wasn't even a moment of disbelief. Just a rather 
stunned acceptance. I had to tell him, Jim. He knew we were hiding 
something from him and the not knowing was driving him crazy."

"I understand, Chief, and quite frankly, I think it was easier for him 
to hear it from you. You can make the weirdest things seem perfectly 

"Thanks, I think." Blair looked out the glass doors and saw the 
familiar pick-up. "I think I owe Amanda an apology, Jim. She looked 
like the perpetually late type to me, but here she is, right on time."

"And mad as hell," Jim added as his enhanced sight saw the anger on her 
face and his hearing caught some of her bitter mumbling. He walked up 
to the open passenger's window. "Bad meeting?" he asked carefully.

She shrugged. "We argued. I lost. Get in."

"You don't want me to drive, sweetheart?"

"Do I look incapable of driving? Do you see a scratch on your precious 
truck you didn't have before?"

Jim heard Blair snickering behind him and smacked his Guide on the back 
of the head as they got into the truck. "How about dinner? Martinique's 
is a nice place and we won't have to go to the loft and change," he 
said in hopes of appeasing her. Angry women made him nervous.

By the time they were seated and their orders were on the way, Amanda 
was back to her cheery self thanks to a very charming and smooth-
talking Sentinel. Blair looked at Jim with pride. His Sentinel had come 
a long way in the few years he'd known him. He no longer met tension 
with tension. Instead of confronting Amanda, he had comforted her and 
tonight, he was the one who was telling the stories that caused their 
table to ring out with laughter. Whatever had ticked Amanda off was a 
dim memory by the time Jim paid the check and drove them home to the 

Unfortunately, there were two packages waiting in front of their door 
that made Amanda remember why she was so mad. "You have any idea of 
what these are?" Jim asked as he cautiously checked out the long boxes.

"Yeah. A reminder, a forcing of my hand, a way of telling me I can't 
back out," she replied, oddly sad.

Jim ushered her into the apartment. "You ready to talk about it?"

"No, but it seems I have no choice."

"It's a sword, Jim," Blair said as he opened the box with his name on 
it. "Master Chin sent it. I thought I made it clear I wasn't interested 
in this sort of thing. I get into enough trouble with my Swiss Army 
knife..." His voice trailed off as he opened the polished wood case and 
saw the shiny blade embedded in velvet. "Man, this is beautiful. Must 
be museum quality. I couldn't accept a gift like this, even if I were 

"You have to be interested, Chief," Amanda said softly. "It's a matter 
of life and death. Literally."

Blair paled. "What are you talking about, Amanda? This guy Duvall will 
be long gone before I even figure out which end of this thing I'm 
supposed to hold."

Amanda came to sit beside him on the sofa. "You remember how I told you 
I can recognize a fellow Immortal when I meet one? Well, there's a 
similar occurrence when I meet someone who will one day be an Immortal. 
See, you become an Immortal after your first death, but the trait is 
inside you from the day you are born."

Jim perched on the arm of the sofa, violating one of his house rules 
but not caring. "What are you saying, Amanda?"

She looked at them and tried to find the right words. It shouldn't be 
that difficult. After all, she had managed to tell them about herself 
without a huge display. Telling them this should be a snap. But it 
wasn't. What she had to say could either be considered a gift or a 
curse, and she wasn't sure what category they would put it into. "If 
something happened right now, guys-- something devastating-- I wouldn't 
be the only Immortal in the room."

Chapter Seven

Blair gasped and jumped to his feet, the sword and its case slamming to 
the floor. "I don't believe you! Tell her, Jim! Tell her she's lying!"

"Easy, Chief," Jim said, feeling as if he'd been kicked in the stomach 
himself. "You need to explain yourself, Amanda."

"We usually don't tell the pre-Immortals that we run into. We want them 
to live their natural lives, die when they are supposed to. I mean, you 
tell someone they're going to become immortal and the next thing you 
know they're out there trying to get themselves killed."

"Yeah, but aren't you putting them at a disadvantage? They could be 
using their mortal years training, learning how to fight," Jim 
contended. It would take that long or longer to convince Sandburg to 
chop off someone's head.

"Sometimes we take them on as apprentices and they never know until 
their time comes. But the committee felt this was an unusual 
circumstance and--"

"Stop it!" Blair yelled. "I'm not an Immortal and have no intention of 
becoming one. You said you were all orphans or something. I have a 
mother! Remember her, Jim? The pretty redheaded woman?"

Jim sighed. Oddly enough, this was starting to make sense. "I remember 
Naomi, Chief. I also remember she never told you who your father was. 
She's a free spirit, unfettered by lies and material things, right? 
Then why wouldn't she tell you about your father? Why wouldn't she tell 
your father about you?"

Blair raked his fingers through his hair, ripping out the band he'd 
used to tie it back at the station. "So what are you saying, Jim? That 
my mom just found me somewhere and decided to keep me? That Naomi 
Sandburg was never pregnant? Never gave birth to a bouncing baby me? 
This is too much, man. Too fucking much!"

Amanda was forgotten as Jim tried to calm his agitated partner. 
"Sandburg, stop it!" he said sharply and a startled Blair froze. "Now 
breathe, Chief. Deep breaths. Everything is going to be okay."

Blair obeyed but shook his head. "No, it's not, man. If what she says 
is true, my whole life has been a lie."

"Living here with me has been a lie?"

"No, Jim. That may be the only truth I have left." Blair shuddered, 
then regained control. "Whew! Sorry for coming apart like that."

"It's okay, Chief."

"I'm glad you're so understanding, Jim," Amanda said as she picked up 
the sword and caressed it.

He shrugged and gave a weak smile. "Hey, look at it this way, I don't 
have to worry about being a Blessed Protector anymore." The thought 
made him realize how things were about to change and he grew quiet.

"That's not what I meant, Jim. You see, Wu sent two swords for a 

Jim felt his knees weaken and sat down before he embarrassed himself. 
"Both of us?" he reiterated for clarity. She nodded. "This is going to 
take some getting used to," he murmured faintly. "Why, Amanda? Why did 
the committee decide we needed to know this?"

"Because of that damn prophecy! If it's true, then Duvall belongs to 
you and we have no right to interfere. Wu believes that why we haven't 

"And what do you think?"

"I've seen a lot in my time, heard quite a few predictions of what was 
to come, and it all seems pretty random to me. I don't see how this guy 
who walked the same earth as I, could know what would happen in a 
thousand years."

"The same earth as you?" Blair asked, her words filtering through the 
daze he'd fallen into. "Just how old are you? And I'm not in the mood 
for that 'never ask a woman her age' argument."

Tough room. "Dates weren't kept as well as they are now, so this is 
only an approximation. From what I can remember happening, I became an 
Immortal sometime between 850 and 853 A.D."

"Shit," Blair murmured. "I know you said you were immortal, but, damn, 
you're immortal. Tell me, are you one of the oldest of your kind?"

"No. The oldest surviving Immortal known is Methos. He's somewhere 
around five thousand years old."

"I think I'm going to be sick," Blair said and raced to the bathroom.

"I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to upset him."

Jim nodded, his hearing focused on the bathroom. Blair managed to keep 
the contents of his stomach but it sounded as if he had decided to hide 
out in the room for a while. Wonder if he needed any company? Hiding 
out seemed like a good idea. Too bad Jim Ellison, or whoever the hell 
he was, didn't believe in hiding. "How did you feel when you found out? 
You apparently 'died' when you were young and beautiful. Was it 

She smiled and snuggled up beside him. "Thank you for the compliment, 
but back then I was quite old actually. Disease, bad diets, bad 
sanitary habits, and a lot of others things led to a very short 
expected lifespan. I fell prey to some plague or another and I woke up 
among a pile of dead bodies. I was frightened, excited, curious, and 
just relieved. I had no idea of how I had survived or what I was. 
Later, a beautiful woman found me. Her name was Rebecca and she told me 
who I was. She became my teacher, not just in sword fighting, but she 
taught me to read, told me about the world, made me into a lady. She 
was everything I wished I could be."

"Was?" he prompted, having heard the sadness in her voice.

"She was killed just a few years ago by one of her students who was in 
search of another stupid prophecy! They are dangerous things, Jim, and 
death always seems to follow them."

He kissed the top of the head tucked beneath his chin. "I'm sorry for 
your lost, sweetheart. But maybe all prophecies aren't bad, not if used 
properly. We can use this one to prepare for Duvall."

"But it's a lie, Jim," she pointed out. "The 'rule forever' part is 
okay, but what the hell does it mean when it says one of you possesses 
the wisdom of the ages and the other the power of the senses? Does that 
make any sense to you?"

"Yes, it does."

She sat up so she could look at him. "I'm not the only one with 
secrets, am I?"

Jim shook his head and called Blair back into the room. The two of them 
told Amanda about the Sentinel, the Guide, and the Shaman. This time it 
was Amanda who struggled to find the words. "Wow, I was right about you 
guys and rabbits, wasn't I?"

"I'm surprised in all your years you've never met a Sentinel/Guide 
pair," Blair commented.

Amanda smiled faintly. "Not exactly the kinds of civilizations I moved 
in, Chief. Primitive has never suited me." She yawned and looked at the 
clock. She had no idea it was so late or that the truth could be so 
exhausting. "I think I'm going to bed."

Jim nodded. "I'll be up in a minute. Blair and I need--"

She cut him off with a kiss. "I know. It'll take some getting used to, 
but soon it will be second nature to you both." She gave a Blair a kiss 
on the cheek. "You're the one who said we were twins, remember?"

"Remind me to keep my mouth shut," he replied, but his smile revealed 
he was getting a handle on his initial reaction.

"So," Jim said when he and Blair were alone on the sofa.

"So," Blair repeated. "We're Immortals."

"Future Immortals," Jim emphasized. "It may be years and years before 
we actually become them."

Blair thumped his friend's forehead. "Reality check, Jim. Care to 
recall how we spend most of our on and off time? How many hours, days, 
we spend in the hospital? Either of us making it to the millennium will 
be a major feat."

Jim chuckled. "When you're right, you're right, Chief. You know 
sometimes I've regretted repressing my sentinel skills all those years. 
I think of the lives I maybe could have saved, the risks that could 
have been minimalized. And I told myself I had to make up for that, you 
know, and if the time came when I felt like saying, 'forget being the 
Sentinel because I'm too old for this shit,' I would force myself to go 
on a little longer because that would be the repayment years. And 

"Now you'll be the Sentinel forever. You know tomorrow I'll be all over 
that idea, designing tests and studies based on a century of 
observation instead of months," Blair warned happily.

"A century later and you'll still be working on your dissertation?" Jim 
asked in cinematic horror. "That's one hell of an extension, buddy."

"There goes that odd sense of humor of yours. It's a good thing we got 
lots of time to work on that." He lay his head back against the sofa. 
"You know, Jim, it was a shock learning that I'm going to be immortal, 
but it didn't sound nearly as bad when I found out we'd be immortal 

"Yeah, the thought of you running around without me was sort of 

"Scared I couldn't make it without you, huh?" Blair said, having had 
the same fear.

"Scared I couldn't make it without you."

Blair felt a shiver race along his spine. "Never would have happened, 
big guy. I've always had dreams of you and me here in the loft looking 
for my set of false teeth and you waving your cane in the air telling 
me if I'd kept them in my mouth, I'd know where they were." They 
laughed at the imagery.

"So you think you're going to be okay with this, Chief?"

"Yeah. But what about you? Once I got over the initial shock, I could 
maybe see Naomi finding and keeping me. Probably figured it was some 
psychic sign or she could have been so high on something, she couldn't 
remember whether I was hers or not." He couldn't fault Naomi for 
experimenting It was what teens had done in her day. "But you had a 
real family- a mom and a dad." He turned his head so he could watch his 
partner, see the reactions that flickered in his eyes.

"Just like with you, Chief, it sort of makes sense. I saw Mom pregnant 
with Steven so I know he's the old man's son. This competition he 
forced us into, maybe he was testing his natural son against the 
adopted one. Probably made him mad as hell every time I outdid 
Stevie." Jim sighed, seeing his past in a whole new light. "I don't 
want to get into this tonight, Chief. I'm not sure I'm in any condition 
to get into this."

"That's okay, Jim. Just know I'm willing to listen... when the 
conditions are right." He got up and stretched. "Last night I learned 
there were Immortals. Tonight I learned I will be an Immortal. Do I 
even dare think about tomorrow night?"

"One day at a time, Chief. That's how we'll make it through."

"No, Jim. We'll make it through because we're together."

"You're right, Chief. We will."

Chapter Eight

"At least one of us is prepared for this," Blair said to Amanda as they 
watched Master Chin and Jim practice in the ballroom.

"You didn't do too bad," she said to her temporary student. Since it 
had been established as a given that Jim would fight Duvall, Master 
Chin had concentrated on him and told Amanda to train Blair in the 
basics. "I've had worse students."

"And where are they now?" She looked away. "I figured as much. But 
don't worry. If Jim Ellison says I'm going to learn how to use this 
thing," he held up the sword mockingly, "then, by God, I'll learn how. 
The man does not take no for answer."

"Is it so wrong for him to care about you, to make sure you can defend 
yourself when he isn't around?"

"Stop being so damn reasonable," he said, mildly irritated.

"I think that's the first time I've ever been accused of that 
particular crime, Chief," Amanda said in amazement. "Forgive the slip. 
I don't know what came over me." But she knew. It was lying next to a 
very tense Jim all night, who asked questions about the bloodier 
aspects of being an Immortal and knowing the inquiries were so he could 
be prepared when his partner thought of the same questions. When 
nudged, he had admitted to his fears that Blair wouldn't be able to 
handle the killings and had asked about the parameters of Holy Ground, 
what constituted it and who were the mortals who had killed on it.

Blair sighed. "I'm the one who should be apologizing. I didn't sleep 
well last night."

"I know."

Blair was startled. "You do?" Then he nodded. "Jim."

"Does it drive you nuts knowing he can hear everything you do, sense 
how you feel?" Amanda asked, wondering how it felt to live with a 

"It used to, but now I only notice when he doesn't know. Then I know 
something's wrong with him."

"So you use his monitoring of you to monitor him. I think I'm seeing a 
spark of that 'wisdom of the ages' you're supposed to possess, Chief," 
Amanda praised.

"Yeah, sure," he said uncomfortably. If there was a part of the 
prophecy he had problems with, that was it. Hell of a statement to live 
up to. Actually, it was one hell of a prophecy to maintain as well. 
Ruling forever... sounded tedious. Forever sounding tedious? Get a 
grip, Sandburg. Can we say, "in denial"? It's scary and exciting and 
mind-boggling, but tedious? Nah. Feeling a stupid grin trying to make 
it to his face, he concentrated on the fighters. "Sorta like dancing, 
isn't it?"

"Yes, it's beautiful when done well. But, quite frankly, Chief, I think 
you're going to be more in my league; forget the beauty and go for the 

"Whatever it takes, huh? I'm down with that. Jim always fights with his 
fists. Me? I'll grab anything that I can get my hands on: a baseball 
bat, 2x4, frying pan. I'm not ashamed."

Amanda grinned. "You're going to make a fine Immortal, Chief."

"Yeah, but Jim will make a better one." He watched his partner and had 
a thought. "Hey, Jim, why don't you take a break and replenish your 
fluids." He held up a bottle of Jim's favorite water.

"What do you think?" Amanda asked Chin as she sauntered over to the 
master. "He definitely has talent."

"Yes, but..." Chin hedged.

"But what, Wu?" Amanda demanded. She had no intention of losing Jim to 

Chin watched his student chatting with his companion. "He has the skill 
to beat Coy but I do not know if he has it in his heart to administer 
the killing blow."

She frowned. "Jim's a warrior; he's killed before."

"But only to protect. When the battle is over, Duvall may be on his 
knees. Jim will not perceive him as a threat then. The detective has 
much honor."

"So do we," Amanda argued.

"Yes, but he does not embrace our way of honor yet. Mark my words, 
Amanda. He will hesitate before the coup de grace."

"But I won't," she vowed.

"No! You must not interfere. They have to make the decision for 
themselves or they will hesitate one time too many."

Amanda sucked on her lip in frustration. "Wonder if I could talk them 
into settling permanently on Holy Ground?"

"The world will be theirs, Amanda, and they will be called upon to 
protect it. They cannot do that from the shelter of Holy Ground."

"But when they rule, won't all of us be gone? Isn't that what we 
learned? 'There can be only one'?"

"Yet the prophecy says there will be at least two. And so far, the 
prophecy has not been wrong." Chin pointed to the proof, Sentinel and 

Even from the other side of the ballroom, Amanda could feel the power 
of the bond her two friends shared. Maybe there was something to 
Duvall's prophecy. That power, combined with their own quickenings, 
could be enough to wipe out the game. "When I met Jim, I knew he would 
have an impact on my life. I mean, he understood me and he was destined 
to be an Immortal. I had fantasies of us meeting every once in a while, 
sharing something special. But I never imagined he would change my 
world, change the Immortal world, so completely. If this information 
gets out..."

"Duvall will be the least of their worries. Immortals will flock from 
all over to preserve what they feel is their right; to fight to the 
death for a chance to win the world. If they find out these men have 
the throne by default, they will band together to destroy them-- 
whether they are on Holy Ground or not."

"And then all hell will break loose, won't it?" she said softly.

"And the world will not be able to prevail against it."


"How strong are you, Blair?" Chin asked as Jim showered and changed.

Blair shrugged. "I'll probably have to pump weights to --"

"No, not strong there," Chin said, pointing to Blair's arms, " but 
here." His hand hovered over his chest.

"What are you asking?" Blair challenged.

"Can you be strong for him when he needs you?"

"Who? Jim? What are getting at, Master Chin? You don't think Jim can 
take Duvall?" he asked. "Did you not notice how he read your every move 
in the second part of your practice? He could tell by your pulse rate 
when you were going to try something different. He could see the 
slightest tilt of your blade at the moment of your attack. Yet, you 
still think Duvall will defeat him."

"I think he will defeat himself unless you help him, unless you make 
him accept the truth."

"Which is?"

"To defeat an Immortal, you must take his head."

Blair heard Jim approaching with Amanda on his arm. "He knows, Master 

"Does he?"

Blair blocked the conversation from his mind as he, Jim, and Amanda 
drove to police headquarters. They talked about mostly inconsequential 
things, Amanda apparently knowing a little about a lot and Blair almost 
matching her in trivia. The facts they had learned about each other 
last night and the trouble awaiting them in the future were 
conveniently tucked away as they played at being just a normal set of 
friends spending time together.

It was as the truck pulled into the parking garage at the station that 
Amanda tensed. "He's here," she said softly as Jim pulled into his 
regular spot. "Let me out, Chief."

Blair moved out of her way and watched her draw her sword as she 
crossed in front of the truck. "I know you're here, Duvall. You may as 
well show yourself."

Duvall emerged from the shadows, blade in hand. "Amanda, my dear. Don't 
tell me you've allied yourself with that dwindling group of protectors? 
I'm surprised."

"Why? You think I'm too addlebrained to be able to tell the difference 
between right and wrong? Because what you are attempting to do is 
wrong, Coy. Jim and Blair should not be your targets. Not now anyway. 
We do not attack what will be our young."

"If you believed in the prophecy you would know these two are the 
desecrators of what should be."

"Because two will rule instead of one?" Amanda shrugged nonchalantly. 
"You know I've heard it all my life, but I have yet to see it written 
in stone, Coy. Maybe it was just a rumor. But you yourself saw the 
prophecy. You translated it. You killed for it. You must know it is 
true and cannot be rewritten by you, or any other fool that follows 
your path."

"So what? Now you're saying you believe in the prophecy? You believe 
these two are the ones?"

"She believes because we told her it was so," Jim said as he joined 
Amanda, cradling his own sword.

"So you do not deny it?"

"We do not," Blair said as he joined them, reluctantly holding the hilt 
of his sword.

"And you know what you were meant to be?"

"Immortals? Yes," Jim stated. "Rulers of the world? If that is what's 
planned for us, we accept that too."

"What about my challenge? You accept that as well?"

"Name the time and the place."

Duvall laughed nervously. "So you can have your cop friends waiting 
around to put me in handcuffs and cart me off to some miserable prison? 
No, Det. Ellison. There will be no 10 to 20 year wait for me to kill 

"I agree. No cops, Duvall. Just you and me." A couple of clearing 
voices made him continue. "And a few interested parties who will not 
interfere. You have my word."

"I've studied you, detective. You value your word so I will accept it. 
Ten o'clock tonight at the O'Brien marina."

"Ten o'clock, Duvall."

Duvall nodded and walked away before turning one last time. "And, 
Ellison, if I were you, I'd say goodbye to the people I loved."

"If I thought you had any, I'd say the same to you," Jim said dryly, 
then tilted his head. "Get out of here, Duvall. People are coming."

By the time a couple of uniforms exited the elevator, all swords were 
carefully stowed away and the only comment the officers made as they 
drove away was that Ellison and Sandburg always seemed to get the 

Chapter Nine


Simon looked up from the paperwork on his desk and noticed Jim's arms 
were loaded with manila folders. "No more," he groaned, even as he 
signaled his friend to enter. "I'm already swamped, Jim. Please don't 
tell me you're bringing me more work."

"It's all completed, Simon. Every 't' crossed and every 'i' dotted . 
They just need your signature."

Simon flipped through the stack. "These are reports on all your recent 
cases, reports that I basically have to threaten you to finish. What's 
going on?"

"Just one of those days, sir. I just felt like clearing my desk."

"Oh, you did, did you?" Simon remarked, smelling something bad brewing. 
Jim usually did paperwork without pressure when he wanted time off to 
go somewhere with Sandburg, but there was no way Jim would think of 
leaving while this Immortal situation was occurring. However, the 
detective seemed to be preparing for something... Then he remembered 
glimpsing Jim on the third floor earlier in the day. He'd thought it 
strange because he hadn't even been sure the detective was coming in 
today because he'd given him and his partner carte blanche in the mess 
that was their lives. He'd thought it even stranger because there was 
nothing on the third floor Jim would need, except the department's 
legal staff. He got up and closed the blinds to the bullpen. "What the 
hell is going on, Jim? Clearing your desk, talking to lawyers... You 
planning on offing yourself?"

"No, sir."

Brown eyes surveyed him shrewdly. "Let me phrase it another way-- you 
planning on sacrificing yourself?"

Jim sat down, his shoulders drooping. "I hope like hell that won't 
happen, Simon. But if it does, I wanted to make it easier on the guys 
you pick to take on my cases. And I wanted to make sure Blair is taken 
care of, of course. I made him my legal heir years ago, but I checked 
to see if everything was up-to-date. You know we got that new insurance 
policy last year."

Simon had gotten pretty good at reading his favorite detective. "You're 
going up against Duvall, aren't you? Where and when? I can have men--"

"No, Simon," Jim protested softly, refusing to lie to his friend but 
determined to do things the way they had to be done. In his world, he 
would gladly let Simon provide back up. But tonight he would enter the 
Immortals' world and the rules were very different. "I am the only one 
who can stop Duvall. And if I can't, well at least Sandburg will be 
safe. A guide by himself won't be perceived as much of a threat."

"Why are you the only one, Jim? If these Immortals are so keen on 
killing each other, why are you the one taking on Duvall? Hell, they 
can only die by beheading, right? But you, my friend, can die from 
blood loss, which is usually what happens when you play with knives," 
Simon added bitterly. "Damn it, Jim! This is not your fight!"

"According to the prophecy--"

"To hell with some half-assed prophecy! Some shit about you and 
Sandburg ruling for..." Simon's eyes grew wide. "Oh, no you don't, 
detective. Don't sit in front of me and tell me you and that partner of 
yours are Immortals. I refuse to accept that."

"We aren't Immortals, Simon," Jim said and the captain gave a sigh of 
relief. As if these two weren't strange enough. "But we will be when we 

"Get out," Simon said, raising his hands as if to ward off any more 
heebie-jeebie news from his officer. "Just get out now. I don't want 
you to witness your captain's mental collapse." He closed his eyes and 
when he opened them, Jim was still there. "Why, Jim? Why do you and 
Sandburg insist on telling me these things? I care about you. I swear I 
do. But there are things the two of you should keep personal, you 

Jim nodded, his jawbone growing more prominent. "I understand, sir. We 
won't bother you again."

Simon fumbled for the aspirin bottle. "Don't get mad, Jim. It's just 
that every other week or so, it seems you're coming in here and 
changing the world as I know it. I'm a cop. I'm supposed to be narrow-
minded, hard-headed, and short-sighted. That's why I like my work. 
Every rule is written down and if someone wants to argue, I pull out 
the trusty rule book and cite page, paragraph and sentence. But you and 
Sandburg apparently aren't satisfied with the book. You keep rewriting 
the pages, putting addendums in the back. I just want the order I 
signed on for. Is that too much to ask?"

"No, Simon, it's not too much." Hell, he'd be asking for it himself if 
he wasn't smack dab in the middle of it. All he had wanted in his life 
was a job he respected, enough money to live on, and maybe somebody he 
could kick back with every now and then. He'd given up on family long 
ago, love involved trust and he was too familiar with betrayal to ever 
fully submerse himself in that emotion, and the people who had fame and 
fortune just didn't impress him. So he'd had everything he wanted and 
had gained more when Blair entered his life. But the 'more' had a cost 
and with every repayment, the 'more' seemed to increase. A vicious 
cycle he should have left Simon out of. "Take your time signing the 
reports. Sandburg and I are just about to head out to have dinner with 
Amanda." He stood and headed for the door.

"Jim, I--"

"It's alright, Simon. I understand. If I had a choice, it would 
probably be the same." The door closed softly behind him.

Simon Banks was a man used to making a decision and sticking to it. 
That was the only way a police captain could maintain his authority. 
Those who practiced self-doubt ended up being patrolmen all their 
lives, following someone else's orders and being shoved aside by the 
"big boys" when they came to play. But doubt ate away ate Simon as the 
evening passed. He hadn't been fair to Jim. He hadn't been the kind of 
friend he should have been. Jim and Sandburg needed someone on the 
outside who understood what they were going through and they had chosen 
him. He should have felt honored. Hell, he was honored. But he had 
cracked when they needed him to be strong. He was ashamed of himself. 
Which was why he found himself parked outside the loft waiting for them 
to come out of the building.

He hadn't tried to hide and tail them, knowing Jim would sense his 
presence immediately. So when the detective emerged with Sandburg and 
his lady friend in tow and looked at his car, Simon got out and waited 
for Jim to approach.

"What are you doing here, Simon?"

That was cordial. "I wanted to apologize."

"For what? Stating a truth? It's not necessary."

Simon really hated when Jim got that frigid, "I'm taking the high moral 
road," tone. He could be such a smug, arrogant bastard. "Listen, man, 
just accept the apology, okay? I was thrown for a loop and I reacted 

Jim sighed and looked at his watch. "Fine. I accept your apology, 
Simon. Now go home."

"Why? Because you're going to meet Duvall and you don't want me tagging 

"You're the one who said you didn't want to be involved."

Simon reached out and grabbed the detective's arm. "If you leave now 
with the intention of killing this man, it will be premeditated. Murder 
one, Jim."

Jim jerked free of Simon's grasp. "Don't quote the law to me, captain. 
One thing I am clear on is right and wrong."

"Then let me call for back up. Hell, let me be back up."

Jim wavered when he read the earnestness of Simon's plea in his eyes. 
But he had decided that if he went down for what he had to do, he would 
go down alone. Which meant keeping the captain angry and away. "Keep 
out of it, Simon. I don't need your kind of help. You call yourself my 
friend, then you tell me to keep my problems to myself. Hell, I can do 
that without friends."

"Can you keep your ass out of jail without friends?" Simon asked 

"I guess I'm going to find out." He turned to walk away.

"Halt, right there, mister!" Simon ordered, before crumpling to the 

Jim stared at the woman holding the rock in her hand that had felled 
the captain. "What the hell are you doing, Amanda!" he cried as he 
kneeled beside Simon and checked his friend for damage.

"It's getting late, Jim," she said simply. "We'll put him in his car 
and he'll wake up in a few minutes, no worse for wear."

"Jeez, Amanda," Blair said as he watched Jim analyze Simon's condition 
and nod that he was going to be alright. "You could have really hurt 

"Listen, Chief, I've been knocking men out for over a thousand years 
now. I know just where to hit for the effect I want. Now, get him in 
the car so we can meet Duvall."

Jim heard Blair mutter something about a bloodthirsty wench and 
couldn't agree more. Still, he had to admit, this was probably the only 
way he could have gotten away from Simon. The captain had been 
determined to save him from himself. "We're going to have to have a 
long talk when this is over, Amanda," he warned as he struggled with 
the captain's dead weight. When was the last time Simon had worked out? 
Getting sort of chunky in the middle.

"Jim, I hope like hell we do have a long talk after this is over," she 
said firmly as she urged both of them to the truck.


"I see you are a man of his word," Duvall called as the three of them 
stepped into the light of the marina. Warehouses lined the area, the 
docks empty as there were no ships in port.

"In all things," Jim said as he hefted his sword."Chief, you and Amanda 
stay here at the truck. If I lose, get out of here." There was no 
reply. "Promise me, Chief."

Blair boosted himself to sit on the hood. "No. I won't promise you, 
Jim. So I suggest you better win."

"Amanda," he appealed.

"What, Jim? You want me to bash him over the head and drag him home? 
Probably be just easier to kill him right here, don't you think? 
Whether Duvall comes after him or not, he'll be an Immortal, Jim. You 
think he'll learn to fight if you're not around?" she pointed out 
viciously, remembering what Chin had told her. Jim had to have some 
kind of impetus to finish Duvall off in the end.

Jim shook his head in anger. "You know, for some reason today has 
become 'Pick On Jim Day' and I'm getting damn tired of it. I'm going to 
take care of Duvall then all of you, Simon included, are next."

"Promises, promises," Blair challenged. Master Chin said he had to be 
strong. For Jim's sake, he could be anything necessary.

With a growl, Jim turned to face Duvall. "Let's get this over with. I 
have pressing business afterward."

"Hope it's in hell because that's where you'll be."

"Fuck you."

Jim attacked and Duvall seemed startled by his skill. But he soon 
recovered and once again Blair was reminded of an elegantly 
choreographed dance. In a whisper that only Jim could hear, he reminded 
his partner to use his hearing and sight to anticipate his opponent's 
movements and soon Duvall was on the defensive, the battle surely 
almost over as a blow from Jim knocked the Immortal's sword from his 
hand. But Duvall scooped up a handful of gravel and threw it at Jim, 
blinding him.

"You unscrupulous son of a bitch!" Amanda yelled, sliding off the hood 
of the truck.

"Amanda, be still and shut up!" Blair hissed as Duvall reached his 
sword. "Jim, close your eyes," he ordered in the even tone that 
signaled he was in Guide mode. He clapped his hands once as a signal to 
his partner. "Hear the air, Jim, feel it part with every movement." He 
quieted as Jim parried a blow from Duvall that would have surely killed 

The Sentinel remembered the lessons he'd been taught when he'd been 
blinded by the drug Golden and the hours of simulations in the lab 
where he'd learned he didn't need the handclaps to guide him, that his 
senses were capable of acting as sonar on their own. When Duvall moved, 
he moved, the clashing steel of their swords causing sparks that he 
didn't even try to see. He listened to Duvall's breathing change, knew 
when the man tired and waited for him to make a mistake. 

Thrown off his game by a blinded opponent, Duvall decided to go for the 
kill in one long swoop of his blade. But Jim was ready for him and 
blocked, sliding his sword along Duvall's until it pierced the man's 
flesh directly above the heart. The Immortal dropped to his knees, his 
weapon clattering to the gravel and asphalt. The Sentinel heard the 
man's death rattle and knew the exact location of his opponent's neck. 
He drew back the sword... and hesitated.

In horror Blair saw Duvall's hand creep toward the fallen sword and 
knew what had to be done. "If you can't do this, Jim," he whispered 
into the night," how will I ever be able to?"

The blade did its work.

Chapter Ten

In a flash, Blair was by Jim's side, leading him to the truck and the 
light inside. "Open your eyes, Jim. I need to see--"

"What's that, Chief?" Jim asked, worriedly. "It's feels like an 
electric storm heading this way."

"It's a clear night," Blair said. "Amanda?" He looked around for the 
woman and saw her near Duvall's body, surrounded by a glowing cloud 
that seemed to extend from the other Immortal's remains. He shivered, 
finally feeling what Jim had sensed. Goosebumps prickled his skin.

Suddenly lightning crackled around the dock, streetlights shattering, 
windows blown out of the nearby warehouses, and the water in the bay 
steaming as if nature had caused it to boil. In the middle of this 
maelstrom stood Amanda, her sword held high as lightning danced on its 
tip. As quickly as the storm appeared it abated, leaving Amanda limp on 
the dock and the truck with a cracked windshield. All over the 
neighborhood both car and home security alarms frantically sounded.

Blair turned anxiously to his partner and found Jim had zoned. Shit. 
Between the light show and its electrical currents, the deafening 
alarms, and the pain from the gravel in his eyes, it was a wonder he 
was still breathing, Blair thought as he focused on bringing his 
partner back. The damn quickening gave sensory overload a new meaning. 
"Come on back, Jim. It's okay. It's safe here now."

"What's wrong with him?" Amanda asked breathlessly as she joined them.

Blair quickly looked her over. She looked no worse for wear. In fact 
she looked more energized. Which she probably was. "His senses were 
overwhelmed by Duvall's quickening."

"But he's a mortal. It shouldn't have affected him."

"He's also a Sentinel, Amanda," Blair explained, giving Jim's shoulder 
a rather forceful shake. "Come on, Jim. Snap out of it!"

Jim blinked rapidly, his eyes tearing. "I'm here, Chief. But this damn 
grit is getting to me. Can you do something?"

Blair reached beneath the truck's seat and pulled out a bottle of 
water. "Tilt your head back." The solution was messy but effective.

"Thanks, Chief," he said as his eyesight cleared. "Just in time; we're 
about to have company."

"The department?" Blair figured the alarms had sent them rolling. "How 
do you want to handle this, Jim?" He indicated the decapitated body 
with a tilt of his head.

"Let me," Amanda begged. "Please, Jim." He reluctantly nodded.

The two men listened as Amanda explained to the arriving uniforms how 
Jim had received an anonymous tip while they were out. He had left her 
and Blair in the truck with the cell phone a block back and walked up 
here to meet the informant. Then there had been a large explosion and 
the next thing they knew, all the lights in the area were out and 
alarms were going off. They tried the cell phone, but it too was 
knocked out and worried for Jim, they had driven to the dock and found 
him using the truck's lights. He'd been blinded by debris from the 
explosion, but his partner was administering first aid. They had also 
discovered (and this was whispered in horror) a body of a man without a 
head. No, she didn't think the detective had seen anything, but they 
could ask as soon as he was out of pain.

They backed up the story easily, Jim hesitating only for a second as he 
sensed Simon's arrival. But in the moment he took Duvall's head, he had 
decided that he would have no regrets for this or any other action he'd 
have to take as an Immortal. So he lied with authority, only feeling 
slightly guilty as Simon's reactions revealed that the captain believed 
every word.


Simon reached around Jim and piled some more dishes in the sink. Behind 
him he could hear Sandburg and Amanda arguing good-naturedly over a CD 
and he saw from Jim's faint smile that his friend was enjoying the rare 
moment of domestic bliss. Come to think of it, so was he. Jim hadn't 
apologized for what had happened two nights ago, but he had invited him 
to a home-cooked meal. So what if the stubborn s.o.b. couldn't say the 
words... "Apology accepted, Jim," he said softly. "Mine?"

"Accepted as well, Simon. We were both reacting to not being in 
control. Shocking, isn't it?"

"Cops needing to be in control? You certainly have strange ideas, 
Jim," the captain replied with a booming chuckle.

Jim laughed too, then sobered. "I really do understand, Simon. You got 
more than you bargained for when you offered your friendship."

"Friendship shouldn't come with strings attached, Jim. I know that and 
I accept you and Sandburg as you are or what you become. Still doesn't 
mean I won't be ticked at you every so often. And I can threaten to 
kill you in several painful manners and you'll know I don't mean it-- 
unless I threaten to chop off your heads. Then maybe you should run."

Jim laughed. "I'll be sure to keep that in mind, Simon. Now, if you're 
really my friend, you'll go stop those two from bickering. Cosmic twins 
they call themselves. I'm starting to believe it."

A few seconds later, peace descended on the loft as Simon rejected both 
CDs and chose one of his own. A miffed Amanda stuck out her tongue and
decided to join Jim in the kitchen. "That was mean of you, sending the 
captain in to mess up our fun," she said as she slid her arms around 
him as he finished the dishes.

"You're a fine one to talk, Amanda. Remember you hit the man on the 
head with a rock. I think he's entitled to choose a CD."

"Picky, picky," she groused, as she leaned into his back. "How much 
does he know?"


"Is that wise?"

"Simon can be trusted, Amanda. He knows all our secrets."

"Really?" she asked excitedly. Nipping his neck, she turned back toward 
the living room. "Captain Banks, we need to have a talk," she said as 
she approached. 

Simon backed up suspiciously. The woman had assaulted him once; twice 
would make him the fool. "Talk about what?"

"Secrets, captain. Me about the secrets of Immortals so you can 
understand your friends better," Amanda said happily, linking her arm 
with Simon's and leading him to the balcony. "And you about the secrets 
of a certain Sentinel and Guide. Can you explain to me this fascination 
with redheads?"

"Well, I've given that a lot of thought and..."


Blair let himself into the loft and looked around for his partner. It 
had been his long day at the university so he hadn't seen his roommate 
since morning. Not that he had to see Jim every hour of the day or 
anything, it was just nice to come home and know someone cared how his 
day had gone.

"I'm on the balcony, Chief."

Ah, the good thing about living with a Sentinel was that you didn't 
have to look for him; he always found you. He threw his backpack in the 
corner and joined Jim outside. His partner was standing at the railing. 
"What you looking at, big guy?"

"The city. My city," he explained. "Funny how when I was growing up 
here, I couldn't wait to leave. Yet, when I decided it was time to 
settle down, I found myself right back here. Why, Chief? Heaven knows, 
it didn't have anything to do with fond childhood memories or being 
close to my family."

"Maybe it had to do with you being a Sentinel and this is your 
territory," Blair hypothesized.

Jim considered the idea and felt it had merit. "What happens when I 
have to leave it again? A public death will send us underground or 
eventually we'll have to leave before people get suspicious. Amanda 
explained all this but I don't think it really hit me until today." 
Just a few days ago Amanda had swept out of their lives just as quickly 
as she'd entered, with the promise of returning in the near future. 
However, they weren't sure what that meant; what was the near future to 
one who could live forever?

Blair, not fond of heights, settled into one of the lounge chairs and 
was pleased when Jim joined him. "You won't have to leave forever. Just 
a generation or two. In the meantime I figured we could go visit the 
Chopec. I could study them, maybe get a handle on this shaman gig, and 
you could have a chance to connect with yourself for more than just a 
week or two. We'll just think of it as an interim retirement."

"Of the Sentinel?"

Blair rolled his eyes, knowing Jim was just teasing. "Of the cop. No 
matter where you go, Jim, you'll still be the Sentinel. But being a cop 
requires an extensive background check. It'll take us a while to figure 
out how to work around that. Which means we better start a savings plan 
or something. You not able to work and me supporting us as an 
anthropology professor? Doesn't sound too promising, man."

"We'll be okay, Chief. I didn't use all of my backpay on the loft and I 
had a friend invest the remainder," Jim said.

"The words 'invest' and 'friend' don't belong in the same sentence, 
Jim," Blair warned. "What kind of investment?"

Jim shrugged and disappeared into the loft, coming back a minute later 
with two brown folders. "Let's see. Oh yeah, I remember now. She 
invested in a company she said had potential."

"Oh brother," Blair groaned.

"Something by the name of... Intel." Jim cracked up when he saw Blair's 
expression. "That was years ago. There's a whole list of things now."

"Maybe I should have a talk with your friend, as soon as I get some 
money to invest that is."

"Already done, Chief." He handed him the other folder. On the front it 
read, Blair Sandburg's Portfolio.

"What?" He flipped through it and screeched when he saw the bottom 
line. "Holy shit! Where did this come from?"

Jim grinned. "I had to do something with that rent money you insist on 
giving me every month."

"Jim, I..." This was more than just rent money. His partner had to have 
contributed some of his own. A lot of his own.

"Nothing to get speechless over, buddy. Just think of it as a pension 
plan for a job well done." He plucked the folder from his hand and 
tossed both on the table, ready to focus on more important matters. "So 
tell me about your day, Chief."

"Oh, wait until you hear what happened to..."

As the sun set, the Sentinel watched the colors play across the sky and 
listened to his Guide talk. Whether they had one more year or a 
thousand, he figured he would find no better way to end the day.