This very moment, while Adam was talking to an old friend, Sandburg was getting a call from another old friend, Angela. She was in a better mood this time.
"Blair..." she was obviously exhausted. "I managed to find out this much. All three of those men you wanted me to research have no official pasts prior to about ten years ago."
"What do you mean?" Sandburg was shocked.
"What I mean is that they are who they say they are, but only for the moment. Either they were all in the Witness Protection Agency, or they have friends in the right places. At first, you might think that they just have spotless records, until you realize that they took the identities of people who died at birth, or in the case of Harlowe, has had the same name and same face as far as the late 1800s. I managed to find an old police photo from a London newspaper showing Harlowe's face, and it matches something from a recent article about a high-profile case he wrapped up."
"It has to be a coincidence!" he couldn't believe his ears, or his mind. Quickly checking his desk for beer or pot, and not finding any, he had an intense desire to pound his head on the table, but was afraid he might not find a table the moment he attempted it.
"I thought that too. I mean, maybe he has strong family resemblance. My mom told me more than once that I look like her grandmother, but you can still tell the differences. The chances of looking exactly like an ancestor have to be astronomical!"
"However, if you zoom in on both photos, you'll find that he has exactly the same face down to the smallest detail. Even the small scar under his eye is the same."
He hadn't noticed that one. "So what you're saying is that we have three people with fabricated identities, and one who has been walking around for at least a century and hasn't aged?"
Sandburg was sputtering, trying to find an explanation, "There have been a few documented instances of people living to an extraordinary age. There was a Chinese guy who lived for at least two centuries. The Hunzas and Georgians live for a hell of a long time."
Angela interrupted him, "But you can still see them age. Harlowe hasn't aged. Plus, he's stuck in the same occupation. He might move from London to Glasgow or Cardiff, but he's still a police detective."
His head was pounding, "I just don't know about this. I'm beginning to suspect that someone's slipped me some pot and I just didn't know it."
"I know it's hard to believe, but trust me. This is for real. You don't know the half of it." She sighed. "The reason I said Adam was trouble? I used to go out with him when I was in Paris."
That was a blow. "When?" he asked softly.
"A little after I left Cascade. It didn't last for long, but the one thing that I noticed is that he seemed to be miraculously healthy. No cavities, no gum problems... he never got sick, and the one time we were moving a fridge and it slammed him against the wall, he didn't get any bruises. I noticed it at the time, but he blew it off. But that's the one thing that came to mind when I noticed that detail about Harlowe."
Some wheels began to roll in Sandburg's mind. "You know, when Amanda got kidnapped, Harlowe got hit by a few bullets, but he was up and around a few hours later without showing any signs of being hit. I've seen Jim and the Captain bounce back quickly too, but not like this! It might explain a few things..."
Angela was silent for a moment, "So you do believe?"
"Let's just say that I have confirmation that something is fishy. Those three are a triumvirate, and they've pretty much blown Jim and myself out of this case. The Captain has a point, there's not much we can do without more data -- we don't know at all where they can possibly be. But still..." Another bell rang off in his head, "Angela, you won't believe this!"
She could sense the urgency in his tone, and her own voice was worried. "What?"
"Jim has a secret informant, and she gave him some hints about the Council of Blood and the Duke of Alba. Centuries ago, during the Dutch-Spanish war, but now it makes sense! What if Amanda and her kidnapper are settling something that happened during that mess? What if Jim's informant is also in on this?" He laughed hysterically. "I've believed in some crazy stuff, but this is bordering on the insane!"
"I know... Blair? I have to go. Blair...?"
The last was a near whisper. "Please be careful? I don't like the looks of this. I want you to come back in one piece."
"So do I!"
* * *
"Methos? It's been a long time. How did you get my number?"
He smiled, "I have my resources."
"You always have. Is this for pleasure or business?"
"A little of both, I'm afraid. I think your protege is running amok in a very bad way."
"Marisa. Who else? She blames Amanda for all her woes, ones that she should have forgotten a long time ago."
Olympias' tone was withering. "Unlike you, some of us have a hard time forgetting painful memories. Is she acting foolishly?"
"No," Methos admitted, "but she was blatant enough to make the police curious. First, she tried to get Amanda framed for murder, and then oddly enough, she had her kidnapped. Nobody knows where they are, but apparently there's someone else out there who's very interested in allowing one of the detectives to find out. She hasn't revealed herself, but she allowed a mortal to know about a little dispute that's been broiling for centuries." He sighed for reasons that he wouldn't explain.
"So there are a lot of questions, but nobody searching for the proper answers?"
"What answers would they seek? What questions could they ask?" He didn't speak about Sandburg, who he feared might have good enough instincts to become a Watcher. Which reminded him... "The reason I called is that I just wanted to know if you were the secret informant."
She was puzzled. "Why would I inform a mortal? If there was a problem, I'd sort it out with Marisa myself." Her tone was blissful, "I'm in Kent right now."
Methos could recognize that tone anywhere, from anyone. "I see." He paused. "Do you know anyone who might have something against Marisa?"
Olympias laughed, "That woman has pissed off so many people in her lifetime, I wouldn't even know where to start!"
"So I'm down to square one again!"
"It looks like it. Let me know how things go?"
"I intend to." He most certainly did.
* * *
Ellison was at the hot dog stand in front of the station. There normally weren't stands like that in this part of town, but he figured that since Sandburg wasn't around, and he really, really liked junk food, that he might not get another chance to indulge himself and eat mystery food minimally sanctioned by the health department.
The vendor was a smiling, jovial New Yorker who reminded Ellison of someone he thought he should know, but not in a way that set alarm bells in his head. More like this was someone who belonged in the movies, or came from one. "Hi there! You look like you're really hungry!"
He smiled, "You bet. Are those polish sausages I smell?"
"You bet! I've got Italian sausages too with marinara sauce!"
"Hmm... I'll stick with two polishes, with the works."
"You betcha!" While the vendor was assembling the food, he was talking. Whether it was to the air or to Ellison, he didn't know, but he listened. "I just got here last week, after living in New York City for all my life, and I can't believe how much it's like a mirror image."
That sounded strange enough for Ellison to take notice, "What do you mean?"
"If you were to put a city to a mirror, all the buildings and people would be there, but everything would be somehow flipped. Language makes no sense, and everything is where it shouldn't be. Familiar movements become unfamiliar and awkward. I mean... look at the way the people are here. They're so open and friendly, with a pinch of beatnik cynicism and spoiled bratness. Back home, they're cynical and paranoid!"
He had been there before, and knew well enough what the old man was pointing at. "Now that you mention it, I know what you're talking about." He munched into his first sausage, "I've been a lot of places in my lifetime, and in Cascade... there are a lot of different kinds of people here, and it's ok. You don't see the friction you'd see in a place like L.A."
"You hit it on the nail, son. You'd almost think the guy who fits in would stand out like a sore thumb!" The vendor chuckled at his own joke.
Ellison almost felt an electric shock as a memory hit him hard.
Jim shifted the hat so that it kept more of the rain from hitting his eyes. Directly, at least. The spray still hit him pretty hard. He'd been rescued from the jungles of Peru, but he wasn't quite out of the woods. One little errand of his own to run, and this was personal.
His hunt led him to Bogota. Both snitches and the paper trails led him here.
Most everyone he saw were the locals, and they all seemed to mesh into a giant herd of sheep. But there was something odd that caught his eye. Everyone he saw were probably natives, but many obviously hoped to be in the United States, especially considering how many of them had accessories from home. But there was one who was so obviously native that he was far more than native.
"You know, I think you might have something there. I just wish it were that easy. I know who it is, but I just need to know where."
"I slipped some napkins under the second sausage. That'll be five bucks, please."
Ellison snapped out of his ozone trip and slapped him a five. "Thanks. Now I don't want you moving away."
He winked, "I know when I see a loyal customer!"
Ellison walked away, chomping on the sinful food, deep in his own thoughts. That's when he noticed something out of the side of his eye. A flash from several stories up. Not really a flash, but rather a momentary pin-prick of light. The one thought reflexively came to mind: sniper.
Continuing to walk, he focused on that flash and saw the area expand until he could see the source. It was a man, crouched between two cars, with a long-range camera in his hands. There seemed to be something colorful on the man's left wrist, but hit was hard to tell. By the angle, the lens would have to be aimed at the Captain's office. It wasn't a rifle, thank god.
"It looks like we have a break..." he made his way to the parking garage, where this man was currently taking snapshots. A thought entered his mind of warning the Captain about the man, but he figured that it would be better to let this guy take some harmless shots and not get tipped off that someone knew about him.
Several minutes later, Ellison smiled, tapping the man on the shoulder. "Hi. I thought you might like to meet my captain in person, since you're so interested in him."
* * * *
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