Who Wants to Live Forever?
D.L. Witherspoon

SUMMARY: Blair died, but he's not Immortal. Was the prophecy wrong?

DISCLAIMER: Highlander: The Series is/was a production of Panzer/Davis
and Rysher. Render to them what is theirs, and to me what is mine.

Author's Notes:

Okay, this one is a few days late holiday-wise, but I'm just glad I
finally got it written. This is a sequel to my previous crossover,
Princes Of The Universe, so you should probably read that one first.
Flashbacks are courtesy of that particular story. Also, even though this
is a crossover, no known Immies were used in this production, except by

Special thanks to K, my beta, and to Becky and Robyn's Episode
Transcripts page for the direct quotes from The Sentinel By Blair
Sandburg. There are also spoilers for Sentinel Too, parts 1 and 2, and a
brief mention of The Waiting Room.

Hope you enjoy!


~Part I - July 1998~

"I died."

The words were said dispassionately, as if the speaker were commenting
on something benign like the weather. But the listener knew the passion
behind the words, felt the pain as acutely as if it was his own. In a
way, maybe it was his own, for in the moment following Death's wake, he
had confronted it, embraced it, and would have happily exchanged his own
battered existence for its cold comfort-- if he could have been assured
that it would have been an exchange and not just some quaint, but
futile, deal with the devil. It had been his wariness, his fear that his
sacrifice would be in vain, that had given him the impetus to plunge
headlong into the supernatural to merge jaguar and wolf, bringing both
of them back across the threshold of life.

Jim Ellison nodded, acknowledging the oft repeated words. During the
past month since their return from the wilds of Mexico and the bizarre
occurrences at the Temple of The Sentinel, the reality of his death
occasionally hit Blair out of the blue, and the brief statement would
slip from his lips. The first time it had happened, Jim had grown
defensive, thinking it was his partner's sick way of getting revenge--
deserved revenge, actually, but nevertheless of the below-the-belt
variety. However, the blank look in Blair's eyes, which quickly became
remembered horror, convinced him that the slips were involuntary, that
Blair was having trouble accepting the concept of having been dead,
would maybe always have trouble processing the information and holding
on to it. So, since Blair couldn't accept his death, Jim decided it was
up to him to accept Blair's unacceptance. When the words came, he calmly
acknowledged them, and with it all the blame that was due him.

At times, Jim wished he was better at the game of self-delusion, but
apparently when he gave up repression as a form of denial, he lost all
ability to hide the truth from himself. Yes, Blair had died-- no, to be
brutally honest, Blair had been murdered-- and the murder rested firmly
on the shoulders of the man he'd formerly considered as his Blessed
Protector. It had been Alex Barnes who had hit the anthropologist on the
head, then tossed him into the university fountain to drown, but Jim had
engineered the meeting, put the players into place. He'd pushed Blair
away, and taunted Alex. He'd ignored his dreams, visions of prophecy,
for the sake of his sanity and...and the cost had almost been too high.
In fact, the bill was still being paid, but at least this time the
statement was being addressed to the right person-- not to the household
in general.

"Jim, you don't understand," Blair said, sliding his laptop onto the
coffee-table. He had the summer off, his recovery and the trip to Mexico
ruining his chance to attend the first session of summer school, and an
unpleasant bout of amebiasis, a.k.a. amebic dysentery, keeping him from
joining the second session. The disease, caused by an amoeba he'd
ingested while doing the dead man's float in the fountain, had become
symptomatic two weeks after they'd returned from Mexico and he'd prayed
that it was just a simple case of Montezuma's Revenge. Of course, he
hadn't been that lucky, and the quick loss of thirty-five pounds had
left him weak and prone to every little "bug" in the air. Jim had
practically kept him prisoner in the loft, which hadn't been too
difficult at first, considering he really didn't want to think of being
too far away from a bathroom. Now, he was feeling much better, and had
been cruising the internet for uh-- research subjects, when the thought
of his death struck him again. But this time, the words revealed a

"What don't I understand, Chief?" Jim asked, patiently closing his
magazine and focusing his entire extraordinary attention onto Blair.

Jumping to his feet, Blair went into the kitchen and returned with a
knife. Before Jim could stop him, he sliced open a finger and held it
out to his roommate, knowing that Jim could not only see the blood
dripping, but smell it, and hear the drops as they splattered against
the polished hardwood surface of the floor. "This, Jim. You don't
understand this." His blue eyes focused on the ones staring at him,
panicked and horrified. "I *died*, Jim. Why aren't I immortal?"


"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."

**End Flashback**

Jim wrapped his hand around Blair's finger, feeling nothing except the
blood flow stopping due to the pressure he himself exerted. There was no
tingle, no faint electrical shock, nothing that hinted at anything
happening beyond usual mortal healing. He gave a faint shake of his head
at the question that appeared in Blair's eyes.

"She *lied* to us?" Blair asked, his voice low and shaky. "We're not


"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."

**End Flashback**

If it had just been Amanda's word, Jim might have hesitated before
answering Blair's question. Amanda was a dear friend, but as he'd stated
earlier, he was way past the delusion stage. If necessary, or
convenient, Amanda would lie well enough to fool even a Sentinel. Why
she would lie about their immortality, was one to ponder-- or would be,
if he thought there was a possibility she was lying. But.... "Chin Wu
wouldn't lie to us, Chief." The sword master was himself an Immortal and
had taken on the role of their teacher. "And Duvall wouldn't have
considered us candidates for the prophecy if he hadn't sensed our
eventual immortality."

The prophecy: From the city will come two. 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 the world and beyond.
Duvall had interpreted the prophecy and had cast them into the roles of
the "two". If the prophecy was true, then it changed the nature of the
Game-- the Immortal version of the purpose of life. A lot of Immortals
would not appreciate finding out they'd been killing each other for
nothing, that the "Prize"-- whatever the hell it was-- was already
promised to two guys from Cascade, Washington. Now, if they weren't, in
fact, Immortal, then the bright side would be that maybe the real
Immortals wouldn't come after them. The dark side, however, was that if
some of them did decide to challenge them just on principle alone-- they
wouldn't have the ability to sense their Presence. Mortals just weren't
equipped to feel "buzzes."

"So, what went wrong?" Blair questioned, looking down at their hands,
which were still joined. "Why do I still have a cut?"

"I don't know, Chief. I'll take off tomorrow and we'll go searching for
answers, okay?"

"Man, you can't possibly have anymore paid leave coming," Blair
commented, mentally counting the number of days Jim had sat around the
loft taking care of him.

The older man shrugged. "Your peace of mind is worth a day's wages."

"And what about your peace of mind, Jim?"

There was no reply and Blair fought back an angry retort. This
agreeable, subservient, patronizing Jim Ellison was starting to grate on
his nerves. No-- correction-- this Jim Ellison was pissing him off.
Granted, he'd seen the big guy do the guilt thing before, and he'd, on
occasion, gleefully reaped the benefits of a penitent Jim, but this was
going on too long. Sure, Jim had fucked up when Alex Barnes came to
town, but he wasn't the only one. Alex had been at the top of her game,
and he-- well, it was the gallant Blair Sandburg who had approached the
bitch in the first place. See? There was enough guilt to spread around.
Jim had no business trying to hog it all for himself.

Something tugged at his hand, and Blair looked down to see Jim had
smeared the cut with antibiotic and was now wrapping it in a small
Band-Aid. Weird. He hadn't noticed the Sentinel leaving the room or
cleaning the cut. He must be more tired than he thought. Another
lingering reminder of being ill. "What if I don't want you to take off
tomorrow?" he asked peevishly.

"You don't want an answer?"

"I don't need you to get it."

Jim smoothed the small plastic bandage, then closed the first aid kit.
"Get some sleep, Sandburg. We'll go see Master Chin tomorrow."

"Do you know how often I hate you?" Blair asked softly as he toddled off
to his room, fighting exhaustion.

"Join the crowd," Jim murmured, as he put everything away, then wearily
climbed the stairs.


"Student Ellison! You are early this week," Chin Wu called as he saw the
tall man walk through the door of the ballroom/dojo. The Asian had taken
an old, abandoned mansion and turned it into a martial arts school for
kids and adults alike. Since Westerners had trouble discerning the age
of Asians, he'd been able to run his academy for many years without
question. In fact, Jim had attended the school briefly in his teens. But
perhaps it was because he knew Jim was pre-Immortal, or it was because
he sensed there was something "different" about him, he'd pushed his
student more than the boy's father had liked. Jim had been forced to
quit his lessons, and Chin had lived with regret until a few months ago
when the detective returned to his study of the sword. Although the
situation which returned his student to him had been troublesome,
working with him had not been. The discipline Jim had learned in the
Army held him in good stead.

 "Ah, but I see you are not alone. Welcome back, Student Sandburg." Chin
looked at the anthropologist standing slightly behind his taller
partner, and tried to keep pity out of his eyes. The figure was too thin
and pale. In perfect health, he had the ability to be an adequate
fighter-- if he ever took the exercises seriously. Chin knew the
lackadaisical attitude had more to do with Blair's desire not to learn
how to kill, than with disrespect or lack of concentration. The only
time Blair truly tried was when he sparred with Jim. His partner
demanded his best, and Blair seemed conditioned to obeying Jim when it
came to matters of defense. Chin suspected this had something to do with
their Sentinel/Guide relationship, but despite being just under one
thousand, he'd never run into a Sentinel and Guide before. It was only
after he'd been made aware of the prophecy that he'd researched the
existence of such a pair.

"Master Chin," Blair replied, bowing slightly.

"I was told that you were ill. I see that this was true."

Blair flushed with embarrassment. He knew that his clothes, which he
always wore loose, now bagged and sagged in all the wrong places.
"Actually, before I was ill, I was dead," he said, noting that no one
was nearby. The other students were busy at their assigned tasks.

"Dead?" Master Chin frowned. "That cannot be. You do not yet have the
Presence of a true Immortal."

"Yet, the paramedics called the time of my death. That is why we have

Chin motioned to one of his helpers and told him he would be in
meditation for a while. Then he gestured for Jim and Blair to follow
him. "I do not understand," he began as they settled into his office.
"Please, tell me all that happened."

"I got hit over the head and drowned in a fountain," Blair said flatly.

Chin's eyes widened. "But you were resuscitated? Perhaps that means you
were not completely dead."

Blair's eyes sought Jim's for a second. "It was more of a...rebirth,
than a resuscitation," he said hesitantly.


A helpless glance from his partner had Jim clearing his voice. "My
spirit animal sorta recharged his spirit animal," he said, hoping that
was enough, since he didn't know how to be any plainer.

Master Chin turned his dark, fathomless eyes on both of them, and saw
shadows in the air behind them. He shivered as he brushed against the
outer edges of their power. He could only imagine and wonder at what
that would become once they came into their Immortality. Or was that
*if* they came into their Immortality? If he concentrated he could feel
their feeble Presences. If that didn't mean they were to be Immortal,
then what *did* it mean, and how would it affect the prophecy?

"I have never heard of such a thing-- a pre-immortal not becoming
immortal when he died," he hastened to clarify. Of course, spirit
animals reviving other spirit animals was kind of a first for him, too.
He'd heard of such mystical occurrences, but they always happened to
someone else-- like fictional characters. "I'm going to need some help
on this one. Joe Dawson, perhaps...."

"He's a Watcher, right?" Blair asked, the name sounding familiar.

Chin smiled. Once Amanda found out a secret, you might as well buy a
neon sign. "I know the idea of Watchers irritates some Immortals, but
just think about the repository of information stored in the chronicles
they keep. If we're lucky, Mr. Dawson will help us out. If he refuses,
well, there are other ways to get Watcher information."

Jim frowned. "We're not speaking of anything illegal, are we?"

"What if we are?" Blair questioned out of spite, just to see how far Jim
was willing to take this "whatever you say, Chief" attitude of his.

Jim turned to leave. If it took illegal activity to find an answer for
Blair, he wouldn't get in the way. But neither could he bear witness to
it until he was ready to compromise his own morals.

"Stay," Chin said quickly. "It's just that a friend of mine has inside
knowledge of the Watchers. He was once a member of the Society, but
although he's left them, he knows his way around a few databases. But
first, we'll try Dawson."

Twenty minutes later, Dawson had the complete story and had given his
word that he would get right on the problem. "It's good, but rare when
mortals and Immortals work together," Chin said, hanging up the phone.
"I do not know why there has to be so much enmity between our races.
Perhaps this is something the two of you will be able to solve when you

"Don't you mean *if*?" Blair replied dryly. He really hadn't spent much
time considering his eventual immortality, but now that it seemed out of
reach, he was...mourning it. //You are such a headcase, man.//

Chin regarded both of them. "I believe in the prophecy, and I believe
you are the pair mentioned in it. Whatever is happening, is happening
for a reason, a reason that has to do with furthering the prophecy," he
stated firmly.

"How can you be so sure?" Blair asked plaintively, wishing his own
conviction was as strong.

The ageless Immortal gave a warm smile. "Because I feel it in here,
Blair," he said, placing a hand over his heart, then lowering it to his
stomach. "And in here. For nearly a thousand years I have trusted what
my heart and gut tell me. Now is not the time for me to doubt."

"A thousand years...." Blair's voice grew hushed. "I cannot imagine what
such a long life feels like."

"You will more than imagine it; you will experience it," Chin said
assuredly. "Granted that you learn enough to keep your heads. It will
understandably take Mr. Dawson some time to track down the information
we need. Shall we pass the hours in study? You, of course, have your

Blair opened his mouth to explain that they had only come to talk, but
stopped as Jim told his teacher that he had his sword in the truck. The
too-thin anthropologist stared hard at his partner, teetering between
shock and anger. Just how long had the Sentinel been keeping a sword
handy, and why was his Guide just now finding out about it?

"That is good, Student Ellison. Go retrieve your weapon. And as for you,
Student Sandburg, we will start on exercises designed to restore your
muscle tone. In your present condition, it would be difficult for you to
merely heft your weapon, much less wield it properly."

Blair shrugged. "Does it really matter? I'm not an Immortal. I may never
be one."

Chin copied the shrug. "No one has ever been harmed by having too much
muscle-- unless it is in his head. Besides, upper body definition is a
chick magnet."

Blair's surprised grin matched his teacher's wry one.


"Man, I hurt in places I didn't even know I had," Blair groaned,
collapsing onto the loveseat when they returned to the loft.

"It was a long day," Jim agreed. Not to mention unproductive. Joe Dawson
hadn't been able to come up with a single instance of a pre-immortal not
making the leap to full immortality. But since Immortals usually kept
the awareness of pre-immortals to themselves, then maybe such
information couldn't be found in the chronicles. So Joe was going to ask
the Immortals he was friendly with, as soon as he could track them down.
Chin had promised to do the same. Jim, however, doubted either one would
ever find an answer.

"What would you know about a long day, Jim?" Blair asked, cracking open
an irritated eye in his roommate's direction. "After a single spar, you
spent the rest of the day in meditation."

"Master Chin said my focus was off."

"That's not the only thing that's off about you," Blair mumbled.

Jim opened his mouth to give a caustic comeback, then pinched his lips
closed and headed toward the kitchen. "You hungry, Chief?"

Blair couldn't take it anymore. He took one of the pillows from the sofa
and tossed it at the back of Jim's head. It bounced off the target with
a muffled "umph."

"Why the hell did you do that?" Jim asked angrily, before he could stop

"Because I couldn't find a brick," Blair said flatly.

Jim took a deep breath. "Chief--"

"And don't you 'Chief' me. I'm getting sick and tired of hearing you
call me that. I'm Sandburg, your irritating partner, dammit! Just
because you fucked up, and I've been sick, doesn't change who we are!"

"Look, Ch-- Sandburg," Jim began patiently.

Blair got up and headed for the closet. "I know I have a baseball bat
around here somewhere," he muttered.

"Sandburg, stop it!" Jim yelled, reaching out to grab his wrist, then
letting it go when his hand wrapped completely around it. So fragile....

"Fuck you, Jim!" Blair snarled. "I may not be Immortal, but I'm not dead

"But you were," Jim whispered brokenly. His mind was flooded with images
of the blue jacket floating atop the murky water, Blair's pale face and
unmoving chest....

"The key word is 'were', Jim," Blair said, stepping closer to his
partner. "I was dead, and now I'm not-- thanks to you, man. I'm healing.
I will regain the weight, and I'm stronger, Jim. Stronger in ways I
can't even begin to tell you. But you're making me weak, sapping me of
the strength I need to fully recover."

Jim stumbled back until he ran against a chair, and he sat down hard.
"Tell me, Chief. Tell me what it is you want me to do, and I swear I'll
do it."

Blair ran a hand across his face. Finally, he was reaching Jim, making
it through the heavy layer of guilt. "What I want is for us to go back
to the way we were, but I know that's impossible. So, my second choice
would be for us to get back to normal. That involves you being my
friend, not my 'yes man'. Yell if you want to. Give me that ol' Ellison
'I won't stand for that crap' stare. I can take it, Jim. Despite the
fact that I look like a kid wearing his older brother's clothes, I won't
break." He gave his partner a cheeky grin. "And even if I do, you can
put me back together again."

Jim chuckled wearily, wondering again why this man had come back to him,
to live with him, to reclaim the friendship. It either had to be love,
or insanity. He looked up at the grinning face. Definitely insanity.
"Come on, Humpty Dumpty. We'll make sandwiches, clean the kitchen, then
go to bed."

"I'm down with the sandwich and the bed parts. But about this cleaning

"Sandburg," Jim growled menacingly.

Blair rolled his eyes. "House rules, huh? Damn. I should have waited a
little longer to have this conversation with you."

Jim slung his arm around the slight, but sturdy shoulders. "Yes, Chief,
you should have."

~Part II - May 1999~

Blair watched Joel amble off down the hall to give blood, then turned
his attention back to the bed in the Intensive Care Unit.  "No one was
expecting this," he told Jim, whose eyes never left his injured captain.

"I should have been. I'm so off my game, Chief, with all this media
crap. That bullet was meant for me." He could hear the bullet as it
burst through the window, tore into Simon's flesh, then headed for Megan
Conner. Another inch and it would have hit his Guide as well.

Blair tried to determine when Cascade had turned to hell and just how
big a part had he played in the conversion. How had a dissertation he
hadn't even submitted yet be the cause of so much pain? If it hadn't
been for the media mobbing Jim, he would have stopped Zeller at the
rally, and the man wouldn't have had the chance to come after Jim. Now,
two friends were battling for their lives, and his Sentinel....
"Don't...don't block out your senses. This is when you need them most,
and I can help you."

"Take a look at that man." His features hardened as he watched Simon
struggle for each breath. "That happened because of me." He paused and
made a decision. "I don't think it's a good idea to be around me right
now. The only chance I got of getting Zeller is if I'm on my own." He
turned and walked away.

Blair skidded in beside him just as the elevator doors closed. "What
part of 'on my own' don't you get, Sandburg?" he asked dryly.

"Hey, I came with you, man. But I can catch a cab if--"

"I'll drop you by home, then I'll head back to the station," Jim said,
too tired to argue. He had meant what he said to Simon earlier, before
Zeller's attack. He wanted to go back to working alone. He didn't want
to worry about a partner anymore, and he sure as hell didn't want to
worry about being a Sentinel. He was tired of it. He wanted out.

"Jim," Blair began.

"No more, Sandburg," Jim said, stopping him. "I can't do this right now,

Blair nodded, for once understanding Jim perfectly. Because he, too, was
close to being overwhelmed by guilt. They exited the elevator and
started across the partially full parking deck. Suddenly, Jim froze,
then began running toward the truck. Blair automatically copied his
movements, heading for his side of the vehicle. He came to an aborted
stop when he saw that Jim wasn't getting into the truck. Instead, he was
removing the sword from behind his seat. Shit.

"Not now," he murmured as he looked around the deck, trying to see what
Jim had seen. The man came from the far corner, and any thoughts of it
being a mistake fled Blair's mind when he saw the streak of silver the
newcomer held at his side. "Let's get out of here, man," he whispered

Jim shook his head. "If I thought it would do any good, we'd be halfway
to the next state by now. But the paparazzi following me would be a dead
giveaway. What do you want?" he called out to the approaching figure.

"Your drawn sword tells me you already know," the stranger replied.
"Since you aren't yet immortal, I take it that your Sentinel abilities
alerted you to my presence. You would truly make a formidable Immortal.
It is good for the Game that we will never know how formidable."

Jim gave a bitter laugh. "Friend, if you'd made this challenge another
day, you probably would have stood a decent chance at taking my head.
After all, as you pointed out, I'm still a mortal. But I have an
assassin to catch, an assassin who has made his work very personal for
me. So, that means it's not very convenient for me to die at the moment.

"Then, you'll follow me down to the alley? I wouldn't want us to be
disturbed," the Immortal said.

Jim shrugged. "Sure." He tossed Blair the keys. "You can take the truck
home, or you can wait."

"Or I could call for back up. He can't come after you if he's locked
up," Blair argued.

"He can't, but another can. Don't you get it, Chief? All this publicity
has drawn a target on my back. Whatever Immortals that didn't believe in
the prophecy are rethinking it right now. If I can be a Sentinel, then
what's to say the prophecy can't be true, too?"

Blair bit back a scream. Jim was fighting mortals with cameras and
Immortals with swords all because his mother-- no, all because *he'd*
written a dissertation that left the Sentinel exposed and vulnerable.
Sure, he could blame his mother. He could blame Sid. But that still left
him with the fact that those were his words that were destroying Jim's
life. President Harry S. Truman had placed a sign on his desk in the
Oval Office which had read, "The Buck Stops Here," which meant he
accepted full responsibility for whatever the U.S. did. //Just as I have
to accept full responsibility for my dissertation and the chaos it has
caused.// "If you don't mind, I'd like to go with you." //And watch your
back, because even though you don't acknowledge it, that's still my

"Suit yourself."

Blair was startled, and he thought Jim's opponent was a little stunned
too, when Jim took the offensive. There was no timidity in his assault,
just brutal force and a confidence in his blade.  The Immortal was
brought to his knees and decapitated long before he realized he'd been
in a fight.

Blair started toward Jim, but stopped when his partner raised a hand in
warning. The last time he'd beheaded an Immortal, Amanda had been nearby
and the Quickening had automatically gone to her. But now, without the
strength of a full Immortal to draw it, it went to the next best thing--
which was Jim's weak pre-immortal essence. The display was rather puny,
and Blair didn't know if that was because the Immortal had been weak, or
that the Quickening didn't have much to fight against as Jim absorbed
it, curling over on his side in the dirty alley as the strange energy
danced around him, then sank beneath his skin.

"Jim? You with me, man?" Blair asked anxiously, as he bent over his
friend, searching for a pulse.

Jim groaned and struggled to sit up. "All present and accounted for,
Chief," he said, after a final tendril of electricity curled around his
chest, then pierced his soul.

"You didn't zone this time."

"It engaged all my senses. Couldn't focus long enough to zone," Jim
explained. He wiped his hand across his face, staring at the mixture of
dirt and moisture staining his hand. Shit. He could imagine what he
looked like-- the tell-tale tracks of tears coursing through the dirt
encrusting his face. "Let's get the hell out of here." He took his
partner's offered hand and climbed unsteadily to his feet.

"What about--?" Blair angled his head toward the remains of the

"Don't know. Don't care. Worrying about Zeller is about all I can take
right now."

"Right. Besides, we need to treat your injuries. You were nicked a
couple of times and we don't want them to get infected," Blair said,
falling back on practicality. It seemed the sanest thing to do.

"Not a problem, Chief. That guy's Quickening healed them. I felt the
cuts knitting closed."

Blair inspected one of the rents in Jim's shirt, and saw for himself
that the flesh beneath was whole. "Neat trick."

Jim shrugged. "I'd be more impressed if it was something that I could
use to nail Zeller. Let's go, Chief. Now I have to shower and change
before I can go back to the office. Just another fucking delay."

Blair closed his eyes as he took one last look at the "fucking delay".
Then he trailed behind Jim, his mind working furiously. //This has to
end. This has to end now.//

They drove to the loft in silence.


Blair sat in front of the balcony, holding his dissertation in his hand.
Jim had showered, changed, and left without a word. But, hell, what was
left to say?

Naomi looked at the dejected form that was her son. "Will you ever
forgive me for making such a mess of things?"

Blair nodded. Things were going to get better. Soon. "That's okay, Mom.
We're all going to be fine."

"Do you still love me even with all this?"

Blair put down his life's work and stood. "Oh, Mom. Come on. Don't be
silly." He pulled her into a warm embrace.

"I'm sorry."

"Of course I do. Always. I mean, we were all doing what we thought was
right. Right? Nothing happens in this universe randomly. It's all for a
reason." //Maybe just not the reason we expected. Jim snarled at me that
I had it all now, the brass ring and everything. He was right.// "That's
part of what I was writing about. I always wondered if my work would
ever amount to anything. If it's taught me one thing, it's taught me
that Jim is right. I got it all. I got it all right here. The brass
ring. And now I know what to do. Why don't you go call Sid?"

Naomi looked into his eyes, sensing her son had made a decision about
all of this. And that he would not tolerate anymore interference from
her. "Okay, sweetie."

"Yeah?" He hadn't expected such easy compliance, but he was grateful.
Arguing with Naomi would just make things harder.


Blair looked at the dissertation. What had Megan said to him? "Look,
Sandy, if you know you're doing what's right, then you can move on with
a clear conscience. And so can Jim."

He smiled. Megan was a good friend. A better friend to Jim than he was,
actually. She'd found out he was a Sentinel nearly a year ago, and she'd
kept his secret. He, on the other hand, had turned the secret into a
multimedia sound bite. But he was going to fix it. He was going to do
what was right, and yes, his conscience was clear as a bell.

Everything was going to be okay.

It had to be.


Three hours later, Blair stood in the hallway of the hospital, talking
to the doctor as Simon was pushed back into his room. As the doctor
walked away, he looked up to see Jim approaching.

"Hey. The doc said the surgery went well and the bullet missed major
organs on both of them, but, uh, he said they can leave in about a week
or two." At least something was going right.

"Thank God," Jim murmured, sending out his senses to check up on his

"So, I heard you guys probably got Zeller," Blair said casually.

Jim shook his head uncertainly. "I don't know. Somebody probably got
him. We still got Bartley to contend with. I don't know which one's
worse." He tried to smile, but his lips wouldn't cooperate. //Get it
over with, Ellison.// "I saw your press conference."

Blair was startled. He had just assumed Jim had been out working the
case during the whole pitiful affair. He'd stood before camera and man
and declared his thesis to be a fraud, just a really good piece of
fiction. "Oh, yeah, you saw it? It's just a book."

"It was your life," Jim stated softly, knowing how much of himself Blair
had thrown into his work.

Blair shrugged, unable to meet Jim's gaze. "Yeah, it was. You know, you
were right. I mean, uh, I don't know what I was expecting to do with it,
and, uh...I mean, where do I get off following you around for three
years pretending I was a cop, right?"

Jim looked at him solemnly. "This self-deprecation doesn't suit you, you
know. You might have been just an observer, but you were the best cop
I've ever met, and the best partner I could have ever asked for. You've
been a great friend, and you've pulled me through some pretty weird

Blair finally raised his eyes, and he saw the truth in Jim's, that his
friend wasn't merely grateful for what he'd done, but that he truly
meant everything he said. "Thanks."

Jim angled his head toward the elevator. "You ready to get busy?"

"What about the other thing, man? In the alley?" he asked uneasily, as
the elevator sank.

"Nothing's come through the station. Maybe the Watchers clean up
afterwards if they can."

"The Quickening you absorbed? Have you had any problems?"

"Not really. Just an odd tingling every now and again. It's very similar
to what I sense in Immortals."

"Is that how you knew that guy was in the parking garage?"

Jim nodded. "I wasn't really sure, but I'd noticed the sensation while
working with Master Chin, and there was always something-- charged in
the air when Amanda was about. I thought it was just her, you know?"

"It was," Blair said, smiling in remembrance of the vivacious Immortal.

"And the guy's name was Anthony Hall."

"He introduced himself?"

"Postmortem." Blair grimaced. "Just a couple of stray thoughts looking
for a home, Chief," Jim explained. "Maybe it's different for a full

"I hope you don't take this the wrong way, Jim, but I'm glad this is
happening to you and not me. I just don't see me taking it all so well,"
Blair admitted.

Jim laughed. "After what you just did, Chief. I think you can handle
anything." He clasped the younger man on the shoulder, steering him
toward the truck.

Blair sighed. The familiar gesture felt so good. "You think so, huh?" he
asked, slipping into *his* seat. He'd had his mother drop him off after
the press conference and the crap with the chancellor. He hadn't been
calm enough to be behind the wheel.

"I know so, partner. Now, let's go kick some bad guys' butts, okay?"

Former grad student Blair Sandburg grinned. "Okay!"


Two weeks later, Blair was sitting on the sofa reviewing the changes in
his life. How to go from Blair Sandburg, Professor of Anthropology to
Blair Sandburg, Cop, in three easy steps, he thought to himself. What a
roller coaster ride. Definitely not for the faint of heart. But the more
he looked at it, studied it, dissected every part of what happened, he
knew it was for the best. He could be a good cop. He no longer panicked
in high pressure situations, and he'd learned to run toward-- and not
from-- danger. Or maybe he'd learned to run toward Jim-- which was the
same thing. He hadn't thought twice about following Jim up to the roof
when the detective was chasing Zeller. Hadn't even thought twice about
helping Jim go after Zeller even though Jim had been shot. //When did a
gunshot wound to the leg become a minor injury to me? Yeah, Sandburg,
you are definitely cop material now, man.//

He frowned as he heard a groan from overhead. Was Jim's leg hurting him?
It was almost completely healed, but he knew from experience that
sometimes the days right before healing was complete could be the most
painful. "Jim, you doing okay up there?" he called up to the loft. No

Worried, he approached the bottom of the stairs. He could hear his
friend shifting about...and pained moans. Shit. A nightmare probably. To
be expected after the events of the past few weeks. He started up the
stairs, intending to wake Jim, but by the time he reached the top, Jim
was already awake. He was sitting up, his naked chest shining with sweat
and heaving as the Sentinel sought to catch his breath.

"A bad one, huh?" he questioned sympathetically.

"I saw Simon and Conner getting shot," Jim said, burying his face in his

"I know. I was there, remember?"

Jim took a deep breath, then leaned back against the metal headboard.
"No, you don't understand. I saw Simon and Conner getting
shot...*before* it happened."

Blair plopped down on the end of the bed. "What are you saying, Jim? You
had a vision? When? Where?"

"At the Temple."

"The Tem.... Jim, that was a year ago!"

"I know. It was when Alex had me drugged out in that pool. Oh, God. I
could have stopped this, Chief. I could have--" He looked at Blair,
confusion and pain warring in his eyes. "Why the hell didn't I remember
this! I thought I had learned my lesson about ignoring the Sentinel in
me. I opened myself up to him, Blair. I didn't hold back during the
whole ghost thing, and while Simon gets some kind of relief out of
thinking that it was an hallucination due to your cold remedy, I know
the truth. I accept it. So, why didn't I remember this in time? Why did
Simon and Megan have to nearly die?"

"You're a Sentinel, Jim, but that doesn't mean you're perfect," Blair
said gently. "We're often given warnings we don't heed. Look at me. Alex
was a warning. She just took my tapes and found out everything about
you. I should have learned from that. I should have wiped your name from
everything as soon as Alex was dealt with. Did I? No. In my arrogance, I
thought that I had time, that I could eventually get around to it. Your
mind didn't want to deal with the visions, Jim, so it put them away
until a later time. Unfortunately, that time was too late. I was too
late, too. We screwed up again, my friend, and we probably always will,
off and on through our remaining years."

"Then, it's a good thing we aren't Immortals, you think?" Jim asked, his
eyes wet, but holding more peace than before.

In the year since Alex had killed him, no one had come up with a reason
for him not being immortal, so they all assumed that he never would be.
Jim included himself in the "never would be" category, but Blair had his
doubts; Jim had processed Hall's Quickening so well. But he understood
Jim's reluctance-- the idea that he would be Immortal without his Guide
had to be frightening, so he played along. "Yeah, man. There's this song
I remember from when I was little. It was called 'In the Year 2525'.
Just think of the trouble we could get into by then."

"Five hundred and twenty-six years.... And they think the Y2K problem is
going to be bad," Jim joked, grabbing a tissue and blowing his nose.

"Get some sleep," Blair ordered, standing up to leave. "And, Jim,
whether we have one year or five-hundred and twenty-six years...you know
I'll always be there for you. If my thesis was good for anything, well,
it led you to me, or vice-versa. I wouldn't change that for the world."

"I'll hold you to that, Sandburg, when it's your time to go for the
doughnuts," Jim said, settling beneath the covers.

"Cops and doughnuts," Blair muttered as he went back down the stairs.
"Thought that was a stereotype until I started hanging around with you.
Guess I was wrong."

"Yeah, about that and a lot of other things," Jim called, having heard
him clearly. "But not about us, Chief. We'll make it. Hell or high
water. Believe it."

"I do, Jim. I truly do."

~Part III - December 1999~

"You got him?"

Blair looked up from where he was clasping handcuffs around one of the
suspects he and his partner had collared. "Yeah, man! Go!" The suspect's
cohort had taken off toward one of the dockside warehouses which was
masquerading as a drug lab/storehouse. The place was huge, but it
wouldn't take Jim long to "sense out" his quarry, and thankfully neither
of the suspects was armed.

"We'll take him, Detective Sandburg," one of the arriving officers
called, and Blair watched the man dragged off to the squad car. He and
Jim had expected to be arresting drunks on New Year's Eve, not drug

"Where's your partner, Sandburg?" Simon Banks asked, unlit cigar
dangling from his long fingers.

"Getting the other guy. He ran into the warehouse, and Jim went after
him. It's pitch-black in there. The guy's probably going to trip over
something and knock himself out."

"Jim have a flashlight?"

Blair rolled his eyes. "Jim doesn't need a flashlight, remember? Don't
worry, Captain. They should be on their way out just about--"

The sky exploded. No, not the sky, but the building he was just pointing
out. Fire and debris spewed up into the air from the remains of the
roof. Flames shot out of each window, followed by roiling smoke. He
could hear the sizzle as burning embers and boards hit the water and
sputtered out. Then he was falling, hugging the ground as a hot wind
blew across the back of his head.

He scrambled to his knees, idly patting out a spark that drifted onto
his jacket. His hand burned, but he didn't care. "Jim," he called
softly, stepping toward the inferno.

Only to be halted by a strong grip. "No, Sandburg. You can't," Simon
said gently.

"But I have to," he rejoined, trying to disengage the hand holding onto
his shoulder.

"It's too late, son."

Blair shook his head. It couldn't be too late. Not after all they had
been through. The Alex crap. The Zeller crap. Hell, the police academy.
No! He'd learned to ignore the veiled innuendoes about his past, about
him being a liar and a fraud. He'd learned to use a gun, carry it,
discharge it when necessary. He'd arrested children and old ladies,
testified in court, and the cashiers at the doughnut place knew him by
name. Some of it had been funny, some of it irritating, and a lot of it
sad. But he'd gotten through it because Jim said he could, because Jim
said that they would make it-- together, and Jim never lied.

"Don't lie to me now, Jim," he whispered.

"We need to get back, Blair," Simon said, tugging him away from the
conflagration. "The firemen say it's not safe."

"But Jim--"

"He'd want you to be safe, Sandburg. That's all he's ever wanted."

Blair nodded. Stay back, Chief. Stay in the truck. Stay behind me. The
arm that came out to protect him in car chases. The body that covered
his when an explosion was imminent. Keeping the Guide safe. Keeping his
friend safe. //If that's so important, why are you leaving me alone now,
Jim? I'm only truly safe when I'm with you. You *know* that, man.//

He dropped to his knees, too drained to move any further.

"Sandburg!" Simon knelt beside him. "Should I get the paramedics?"

"No. I just need a few minutes alone." He raised his eyes to meet his
captain's. "Please, Simon?"

"Yeah, sure," Simon replied, wishing that he, too, could get a few
minutes by himself to just-- process the loss of his detective and
friend. But that was going to have to wait. He was the captain. That
came first. That always came first.

Blair stared into the flames, looking for...anything. Jim wouldn't leave
him completely alone. Surely if Jim couldn't be with him, the jaguar
would be, right? Jim's furred spirit? The distilled essence of his
Sentinel? //Where are you, Jim?//

The air stilled for just a second, then he felt it thicken around him.
Jim? He searched for an aura, but was instead jolted by a mild
electrical shock. He gasped, wondering if he was having a heart attack.
Tiny flashes of light distracted him and he looked down to watch the
burn on his hand crackle with minuscule lightning...and heal. He laughed
aloud, then started crying with relief. That damned abstract prophecy,
and bad translations. It wasn't that "the two will act as one". It was
that "the two will *become* one." And for that to happen, both would
have to die...and be reborn as a dual Immortal entity. He was now an
Immortal, because Jim had died and revived... somewhere....

//Oh, man. We need to stop doing this in public forums, you know. I
don't mind having to leave Cascade, but I think there are still things
we need to do here. And we need time to figure this all out. So, tell me
where you are, and we'll try to come up with a decent cover story. Of
course, if all the clothes have burned off your body, we're in deep
shit. But that's okay. I'll just say there are too many memories in
Cascade, pack my bag, and meet you somewhere down the road. We can
handle it, man.//

He got up and began wandering the perimeter of the burning building,
trying to sense where Jim was. There was supposed to be a "buzz", right?
A sensation that let you know an Immortal was nearby. But would he feel
Jim's, since they were halves of a single Immortal?


He turned to find Simon loping up behind him worriedly. "I'm just trying
to find Jim, Captain," he explained with an easy smile.

Simon shook his head sadly. He knew the kid wasn't going to be able to
handle this. He just hoped he wouldn't have to be sedated for his own
protection. "Blair, you have some injuries that need to be treated. Just
come with me to see the paramedics."

"I'm not--" Blair stopped, and stepped closer to Simon before continuing
in a much lower voice. "I'm not injured, Simon. See?" He held up his

Simon gaped at the sight. He'd seen the burn earlier when he'd dragged
the kid away from the fire. "Blair?"

"I'm an Immortal now, Simon."

Despite his dark skin, Blair could see the blood drain from the
captain's face. "But...but don't you have to die before that happens?"

"Alex killed me."

He reached out to steady the captain as the larger man swayed
dangerously. "You've been immortal all this time?" At least it explained
the miracle at the fountain.

"No. I just became immortal." Simon stared at him. "I came into my
immortality at the same time Jim did."

"You mean--?"

"Jim died in the explosion, Simon. When he revived, we both became
Immortals. That's a kick in the pants, ain't it?" Blair remarked, his
eyes dancing merrily. One lifetime, ten lifetimes. Didn't matter. It was
just good to be alive. "But now I need to find him, and see if we can't
come up with a good reason why he isn't dead." Another blank stare. It
really wasn't a good look for the captain. "If Jim dies publicly in
Cascade, we'll have to leave. Do you understand? That's why *I* need to
find him."

Simon nodded because that's what he guessed he was supposed to do. He
figured he'd guess right when Blair nodded back and ambled away.
Vacation, he thought as his teeth sank into the cigar he'd jammed into
his mouth. He needed a vacation from those two. It would be a new year
tomorrow, and he was a captain. By hook or by crook, he'd wrangle some
vacation time for the two of them-- maybe list it under medical and
psychological concerns, depending on the story they came up with to
cover Jim's death. Yeah, a few days around the office without having to
worry about what his best detectives were up to would be his ticket to
heaven. And, no, he really didn't want to think about their immortal
status and all the trouble they could get into with that, thank you very

Blithely unaware of Simon's befuddlement, Blair searched the growing
darkness for his partner. He was trying to decide just how "open" you
had to be to feel a buzz, when suddenly he didn't have to wonder
anymore. It was a disturbing sensation, a hum that crawled along his
spine, and pooled at the base of his neck. He whipped his head around
and saw a dark figure at the end of a pier. Jim.

The man was on his knees, bowed over, his hands protectively covering
his ears. Shit. If the buzz was disturbing to him, it had to be making
Jim crazy. "Dial it back, Jim. It's just me, which means you're going to
get used to it-- very used to it." He placed his hand on the wet back,
grounding his Sentinel. Jim must have been blown out of the building and
into the bay. Good. They could work with that-- water softening the
impact, Jim holding on to a spar until he could pull himself out....

Jim lowered his hands and looked at his partner. "We're both--?"

Blair nodded. "Yes, Mr. Late Bloomer. If you'd just managed to get
yourself killed earlier--" He couldn't continue, so he just grinned.
"Gee, Jim, 'From the city will come two. 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.' What do
you have to say about that, Prophecy Boy?"

"I think I have the 'senses' part down, but one of us needs to work on
the 'wisdom' thing," Jim replied with a smirk, adjusting rapidly to the
constant noise in his head.

"Everybody's a critic," Blair said, too hyped to be properly insulted.

Jim flinched, his hands flying back up to his ears. Before Blair could
ask, he heard the whine of a missile, then the boom as the first
firework of the night exploded in the air. Blair giggled and leaned
forward to whisper next to Jim's covered ear. "Happy 2000, man."

~Epilogue - January 2000~

"This is nice! We have the whole island to ourselves?" Blair asked,
staring at the small piece of land they were approaching as Jim steered
the motorboat.

"Yeah. It's belonged to one of Amanda's friends for quite some time. I
think she said something about it being an Indian settlement at one
point. It was their Holy Ground."

"Cool. I wonder if the owner has any literature on the tribe."

"He probably *lived* with the tribe, Sandburg."

Blair grinned. "This is going to take some getting used to-- knowing
people who just don't know history, but have lived it. The inaccuracies
they can correct, the true feel for community and lifestyle they can
share. Hell, who needs an anthropology degree when I got this!"

Jim gave an exaggerated sniff. "And here I was thinking that I was your
brass ring. But now I know-- you'll dump me for someone who's much older
and willing to share a few tales."

"Well, you know what they say about variety, man," Blair teased.

"You know you're going to pay for that remark, don't you?"

"And how will I be able to tell when I'm paying, Jim? You have two weeks
of torture scheduled for me anyway."

"Not torture-- training. By the time you step foot off this island, you
will be able to wield a sword competently."

"Just as I said-- torture." Blair smiled to soften the words. "I know
this is important, Jim. I'll never be as good as you, and quite frankly
I don't want to be. But I need to know how to protect myself, to protect
you. It's like gun training, and you got me through that, didn't you?"

"Ten boxes of ammo later...." Jim said, his eyes twinkling. "As my drill
sergeant said, 'You're going to hate me now, but thank me later.'"



"Did you thank him later?"



"Well, he wasn't a very nice man...."


"Trust me, Sandburg."

"'Trust me', the man says? Why? Is there a waterfall nearby you want me
to jump off of? An airplane to jump out of? A doughnut you want me to
take from Simon...."

Jim laughed. Blair laughed. They didn't need a prophecy to give them

They had each other.