by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
Hues sighed as he lit his cigar. Like George Burns, he smoked the cheap stuff so he'd actually have money left in the bank; unlike Burns, he made better selections -- Garcia y Vega.
That caught his attention. Turning his head around, he saw a Watcher. A young one, by appearance, and very spooked. Probably on one of his first assignments. "Yes?"
"I was wondering if you might want to have a cappuccino?"
He'd already had five today, but there was always room for more. "Sure. Business or pleasure?"
The Watcher rolled his eyes, "Please! You're not my type!"
Hues' different interests were widely known within certain circles. Maybe that was why his particular preferences were for male immortals. "A pity," he made a face and blatantly stared at the Watcher's legs, "a pity . . . "
"Mr. Hues, I hate to make your life more difficult than it is, but I thought that I should be sharing some of my own observations with you, seeing as you're on a particularly sensitive case right now."
That surprised Hues. "Who informed you about that?"
"The Old Man. He yanked me out of Syracuse and sent me here. Said there was a man who had a fondness for speaking Latin, but by all appearances he was a German, French, or Celt. He calls himself Latro Campi, and he found me."
Hues had to hold his emotions in check, "You mean, he knew you were watching him?" That wasn't an uncommon occurrence, though it was undesirable. Some immortals seemed to have eyes in the back of their heads, most especially those with a lot of hours logged in guerrilla wars.
"That, plus he dragged me into a corner and interrogated me with a lead ball rifle. Just to make sure I knew he meant business, he blasted a cinder block to pieces. Once I admitted I was watching him, he asked me why. I told him that we observed the lives of immortals so that future generations could have a better understanding of the past, and he accepted it. It was like I told him I was a newspaper deliverer. He just walked away, telling me that next time, I should walk more carefully -- he can't get mad at people he can't see."
Hues took it all in. "That's rare. It's also puzzling. Most immortals hate intrusions into their private lives. You're sure he didn't care?"
"All he wanted to know was why. I really think that he suffers from aggressive apathy in many ways. It's like he's focused on one goal, but I don't quite know what it is. The Old Man suggests that you might have heard something back at the hotel."
It wasn't a question, and Hues found himself cursing the Old Man. That was another enigma in this affair that made him uncomfortable. "Latro didn't even know about immortals before that night. His mission, as he claims, is to rid the world of Angels and Devils."
That shocked Paulo, a very devout Catholic. "I believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I believe in the Saints and the Angels, and live my life so I won't go to Hell. But I still find myself wondering if this man is insane. If someone was to tell me that he was an Angel sent by God, I'd find myself doubting."
Hues nodded, "The sign of an objective man, which is probably why the Old Man wanted you, as well as your being Sicilian."
That left Paulo shaking his head, "Why did Latro shove Pierson out the window?"
"He remembered seeing Pierson during the time of Nero, and Pierson didn't dispute that. He didn't dispute being called Methos, either. It could be that he was trying to keep the situation calm -- not contradicting a maniac with an axe -- or it could be that he was telling the truth. The frustrating thing is that if Pierson is alive, it still might not prove anything; he most likely landed on cushions. He might be banged up, but that could be it. He's also under the protection of the di'Anno family."
"The Mafia is protecting Pierson?"
"Apparently, either his living or dead body. Why is that so funny?"
Paulo shrugged, "It's something that just doesn't happen, unless they have a good reason to."
"It's probably the same reason that di'Anno has put a price on my head."
"The Old Man told me about that. I'm thinking though . . . there's got to be a way to get into that compound . . . "
Hues shrugged, "Word is that he's having one hell of a party. I don't know why, but I figured it'd be a good way to get in and have a look around."
"What is it, a daughter's birthday party?"
"No reason. Just for the hell of it. The word is that when he's throwing that kind of party, you'd sell your soul just to get in. This kind of party redefines the meaning of 'Roman party.'"
"Sounds like my kind of party. I'll make a few calls and see if I can get in. I know some people in the old country -- maybe I can get an invitation . . . "
Hues was beginning to like this kid better and better, and not just for his good looks. "Who were you watching in Sicily?"
"Paulina, the daughter of the Don of Syracuse. She got hit by a stray bullet and woke up immortal. Another Watcher had his eyes on another immortal, but was lucky enough to see it, and had me pulled down from the Geneva office. Figured it would be the perfect case for someone of my . . . years." He snorted, "Mafia business is never cushy, especially when it involves daughters of the Don."
"Where is Latro right now?"
"He's near the dive bars. Got thrown out for excessive intoxication, and I think he'll be spending the next few hours throwing up in some jail cell."
Hues shook his head, "We're a skeleton crew . . . one of us has to find Pierson, and we can't let Latro slip away. We also have to keep an eye on Blair Sandburg and Angela."
"Who are they?"
"Bookworms who found evidence of us during the Amanda episode. The Old Man was nervous, because they've been loose cannons before, and he's afraid that Blair might go public with what he discovers. Even if the academic community laughs at his publications, it's a risk we can't afford to take."
"So, what are you suggesting, Colombian Neckties?"
Hues' expression was chilling, "If that's what it takes. I know you're fresh in the field, but the one thing that you quickly learn is that some actions have to be taken. Can you believe that I was a monk at one time?" His expression became nostalgic, "I participated in the anti-Vietnam riots in San Francisco, and honestly believed that this was the dawning of a New Age. I was naive, and as a Watcher, I learned the error of my ways. I have a distinct feeling that underneath your altar boy mask, you know what I mean . . . after all, you did watch a member of the Mafia."
The frightening thing for Paulo was that he understood all too well. Even before he'd become a Watcher, he'd been no stranger to murder or things that only the dark side of the soul is capable of. "You're right. I do understand. I also understand that we took an oath; not to interfere with the lives of immortals."
Hues stared at him, "I think you have misunderstood your oath. Part of that oath involves maintaining the secrecy of the Watcher organization and the community of immortals. Only in highly-controlled circumstances may an ignorant mortal be informed about the secrets."
"It's one thing to keep a secret. It's another to murder two innocent people to keep a secret. 'Thou shalt not murder,' says God. I'd keep that in mind if I was you."
Hues shook his head, "I knew you were too good to be true . . . why couldn't I be sent an agent without moral qualms?"
* * *
Unknown to the press, and most police officers for that matter, high-ranking police officials get a special newspaper that's not supposed to exist. It's called 'Rats Squealing' -- a daily summary of all the word that's been collected from the streets and interrogation rooms.
Captain Banks was reading one item in particular; John di'Anno was holding a party tomorrow. All day and all night long. As a Captain in the Cascade Police Department, Banks didn't think it would be too hard to get an invitation. He felt a guilty conscience scratch the windows of his mind; this would be pleasure as much as business.
Di'Anno's parties had quite a reputation.
* * *
Blair managed to find Angela in the hallway, crying in the stairwell.
He knew why she was upset, but the whole thing still sounded illogical to him, as if there was some reason lying underneath everything else that would truly explain her behavior.
"Angela . . . " She didn't even acknowledge his presence. "I'm sorry if I hurt you, but I don't even know what exactly I did."
"That's right! You don't know!"
"What the hell do you expect me to be? A mind reader?" He was more than half-serious at that, but she didn't even smile, as he had wanted her to do. "I only know what it's like standing in my shoes. I don't know what it's like for anyone else. How can I know what's going on inside if you don't even tell me?"
"Oh, so I'm supposed to spell it out?"
"Sometimes you have to. What's wrong with that?"
Blair had the uncomfortable feeling that he'd screwed up again.
* * * *