by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
* * *
This was the fifth pay phone in a row with the necessary pages ripped out. He'd have to fall back on directory assistance, but they usually only passed out phone numbers -- not addresses.
"A Cascade number, please.
"Jim Ellison. E-L-L-I-S-O-N. I don't know his middle name. Just give me all the listings. Say, run the addresses by me, and I'll tell you the one that sounds familiar . . .
* * *
Blair shook his head, "I'm sorry you feel that way, but there's nothing I can do about it. You're drunk, and you're disturbed. Just take a shower and sleep it off, and I'll be happy to talk about this once you're sober again."
Angela had the hiccups for the last few minutes, and they were getting more intense. She was about to snap something at him, but her expression suddenly changed, and she vomited all over the stairwell.
"Great . . . now you've done it . . . Jim's going to kill me!"
* * *
There it was again. The feeling that he was being watched. If it was Paulo, Latro would be putting that lead ball rifle to good use.
He waited and watched, ignoring all the normal human traffic that went about their normal business.
Latro was looking for the movement that stood out; the expression that didn't fit, the velocity that didn't match its ambient field, the gun or the camera aimed at him.
Who he saw surprised him. He was just as surprised to see Latro.
Latro's grin was vicious, "I see you've survived after all, Methos. Perhaps you'd care to explain how you pulled that one off? I bet that limo had cushions, but that's doesn't save a man's life when he's falling at terminal velocity."
"I don't have time for this, Latro," Methos tried to move on.
"We both have the time." Latro stood in his way.
"Latro . . . look at my hand." Methos held up his right hand, and pulled down the sleeve. "Nothing up my sleeves, right?"
"What about it? Is this some magic trick --"
"You're too slow."
Latro slumped to the ground, next to a garbage can, his eyes staring off into space.
Methos smiled grimly as he went on his way, never regretting the moment he'd had those steel-toed shoes custom made -- all the comfort and appearance of casual shoes, and all the destructive force a groin slam could provide, plus some.
Mortal or immortal, Latro's next moments would make him pray for death.
* * *
Blair, when it came down to it, couldn't really tolerate excessive alcoholism, and he came to the conclusion that this was Angela's particular problem. But along with that and his distaste for her condition, he realized that he couldn't rub her face in it.
He helped support her, leading her back to the apartment. "Come on . . . it's only a little bit away."
With some difficulty, they reached the door and passed through. That's when Angela passed out.
"Great . . . just great . . . "
* * *
At that moment, Jim was at the hotel once more. There was something that drew him back to that window, which was still roped off and untouched. He'd been here a little after it happened, but he felt that there was still something hidden.
The fracture pattern was consistent with breaking by means of a tool. Mr. Pierson hadn't caused the break with his own body.
Turning around, his back facing the window, he closed his eyes and thought, "All right, Jim . . . what would Blair say at a time like this . . . " Blair usually spent nearly every moment with him, but oddly enough, he'd been absent for the last two days, without even saying where he was. That was odd.
"Concentrate . . . Blair's all right . . . "
He opened his eyes, and that's when he saw it. A door at the far end of the hallway. It was a service door, and he could see that it had been forced open. Curious, he opened it and was immediately knocked over by a really noxious cologne. "Smells like shit!" he muttered, shaking his head and trying to wave the odor away.
"Why the hell would someone hide in a broom closet?"
That's when it hit him. "A witness!" Then another realization, "A Watcher!"
He had no proof, and most certainly no physical evidence. Just the smell that this man could have left -- it was definitely a male scent -- and the potential of linking it to someone.
It was just a gut feeling.
"So we have Pierson, a man who forced him out the window, the mob limo below . . . and a Watcher who got it all. The question was, did the Watcher set it up, or did this other guy get in his way?"
He remembered that night, the man with the tattoo on his inner wrist, who had been talking on the cell phone and had somehow known that he'd been spotted. Jim had passed on the tidbits he'd discovered to Banks, but there were still some mysteries.
"So that's it . . . but what now? Watchers . . . the mob . . . immortals . . . "
Jim turned around at the voice. It was an old man who reminded him of that actor -- Quinn, something like that. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, nothing, just an old joke." He was very old, but he had a good set of working muscles on that frame. "I notice that you seem very interested in broom closets and talking to yourself."
"Oh, that . . . " Out of habit, Jim'd been trying to look at the wrists of everyone he'd seen lately, but this old man had some good habits, like keeping his hands in his pockets. "Just double-checking."
"I see. Have you found anything you missed before?"
Jim shook his head, "That' s confidential, you know that."
The old man shrugged, "You never know what you can get just by asking politely."
"Oh? Like what?"
"I don't know. Who knows what other people find treasure or trash?"
"What would you call treasure?"
The old man's eyes were intense. "Understanding. Not just knowing your data, but seeing the big, whole picture. It's what made me survive Stalingrad."
Now that Jim thought about it, the guy could have been Russian, but he didn't have that 'typical' look. More like an Iranian, the more Jim thought about it. "I could imagine. Were you in the military?"
"Me?" he laughed until he coughed. "I was a poor civilian, just trying to dodge the bullets. Much easier when you're young."
"What is that?" Jim noticed what he'd thought was part of the man's wrinkles, but now looked like a scar that ran across his neck. "Cut yourself shaving?"
The old man looked startled, and felt his neck, "That was so long ago, I'm surprised it's still there." His eyes became clear with memory. "That was my souvenir from Budapest."
Maybe . . . but it made Jim suspicious, especially with his recent introduction to the special meaning of beheadings. "What were you doing there?"
No tears fell out of his eyes, "Trying in vain to save my granddaughter from the Soviet monsters, and her own stupidity. I never did approve of her boyfriends."
Jim really didn't know what to say. It seemed the old man was genuine in his statements and emotion, but he couldn't shake the fact that the oldster was here for something else. But what? "Say, old man, what's your name?"
He smiled, "That's what they call me."
Jim held out his left hand, "Jim Ellison."
The old man took a moment to put out his own left hand, having been almost ready to use his right first. Jim was aware of Middle Easterners' aversion to using the left hand. This man didn't seem to be Muslim by that account. Probably just very right-handed. True to Jim's suspicion, he now saw that the old man had a tattoo . . . on his right wrist. It took a single half-heartbeat to see.
"Nice meeting you."
Jim 'sort of' left, but not quite.
* * * *
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