by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
September 1998

Chapter 9

Jim wanted to curse to himself. Who knew what the old man was saying? It sounded like some Slavic language. Then he had to keep himself from laughing, imagining what Blair would suggest at a time like this. Then again, Blair wouldn't have to -- he'd probably speak that language too.

By all accounts, the old man was frustrated about something, shaking his head, almost in an 'I told you so' manner. Or maybe it was an 'I can't believe you're so stupid!' gesture. Maybe it was both.

The old man's hands were twitching a bit nervously. Most definitely, he had the tattoo.

* * *

Joe finally managed to get a few replacement guys to manage the bar while he snuck the Italian kid into a back room. The kid had been amazingly still and quiet, considering that it had been quite a while. Whatever it was, it had him rattled.

"All right, kid, who are you?" Joe sighed, sitting down on a hard Quaker chair.

The kid had some manners too. He held out his hand, "Paulo Scalli. Formerly in Geneva Research, and most recently of Sicily."

" . . . and what are you doing now?"

"Hiding, Mr. Dawson."

"Joe. Please. Everyone else calls me Joe."

He smiled, and Joe could see the beard growing on his face. Maybe Paulo wasn't such a kid. Those Italians could fool you sometimes -- sneaking in a few extra years when you weren't noticing. "It's a long story, but I guess you like that kind."

Joe nodded, "I do."

"It's a Benedictine type of story." He handed Joe a fifty dollar bill. "Any chance we could get some?"

Joe chuckled, "I'm a whiskey man myself, but I'll see what I can do. And keep your money. It's on the house."

In the few minutes it took, Paulo took some deep breaths, and managed to get his story straight by the time Joe handed him a glass of the black liqueur. "It starts off five nights ago. I get a call from a man named Johannes Hues. Tells me I'm getting switched all of a sudden. My immortal didn't know me as 'her' Watcher, so I didn't think anything of it. At first, I thought I was getting reprimanded, but instead, I'm told to keep my mouth shut and do what I'm told.

"At first, I had the impression that I was being used as backup, but then everything changed. I don't know how, but the detective working on the Amanda case somehow found a Watcher spying into his Captain's office, and beat the truth out of him. Or at least that's what the man claimed. In any event, everyone started freaking out, because they assumed rightly that the detective would inform the three immortals that the Watchers were after them . . . and that Adam Pierson was also an immortal."

Joe's expression was neutral. "Go on."

"Everything happened so fast. Amanda escapes and kills Marisa. Amanda and Harlowe vanish to who knows where. Pierson tries to escape, but the night before he's booked to fly to some place in the South Pacific, he gets thrown out of a window by someone who is by all accounts an enigma. Latro Campi, he calls himself.

"I was told to follow Latro everywhere and gather intelligence, and so I did. I don't know how, but Latro found me and beat the truth out of me. With his lead ball rifle. I didn't want to be destroyed like he destroyed a brick lying next to me, so I explained what I was. He didn't care in the slightest -- he just said to be sure to tell only later generations about him, and to stay out of his way. I went to tell Hues about what happened and get his advice.

"Well, at the coffeehouse, Pierson shows up. He was there reading a paper and drinking coffee. He probably didn't even know we were there, or even who we were, and it took us a while to notice him too. I know that Hues was meant to study Pierson and determine if he was immortal or not, but Hues intended on finding out by killing him with a gun, in a public place!" He took a deep breath, "I didn't know if Hues would follow through for good if Pierson did survive. I made a gamble. I stood in the way and warned Pierson that he was in danger. I know Pierson got away for the moment, but I think Hues will try to kill us both now. But I am sure of this; Hues is obsessed, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants."

Joe nodded, "I know Hues. A good man with a good reputation, but you're right. He can become obsessed." He stopped, "You know, I can't just take your word about this. Is there any way you can back it up?"

Paulo shrugged, "Invite Hues over and watch him kill me?"

"I don't think that's quite what I had in mind . . . "

* * *

Hues was cursing to himself. Figuring it was safe now, he made a call, "We have a problem: Paulo Scalli defected.

"Yes. Defected. He warned Pierson, and now he's out of my reach too. I couldn't follow either one.

"I can't imagine that Paulo might try to report me. After all, he stopped me from committing murder in one form or another. He's still an altar boy, damn him.

"Pierson has limited options. He can run or play this out. The Pierson I've heard about would most likely run or hide, as he just did. But still, there's all the possibilities.

"No. I have no idea where they are. I'm in the dark again, just when I had him. Damn it to hell!

"You sound surprisingly placid about this current state of affairs.

"Of course I will continue to look for him! He might return to di'Anno's, but without Paulo, I won't gain entrance."

Hues hung up, not sure whether a sword dangled above his head by an ever-thinning thread.

* * *

Jim was quite sure this old man was a dead end, but he couldn't take the chance that it was just a momentary thing. "Captain. Something strange happened at the hotel. I tried to find some more evidence at the scene, and this old man comes out of the woodwork. It's like he's trying to make me notice him, and he even flashes his Watcher tattoo.

"Yeah, it's really strange. I mean, if I was him, I'd be running from all the cops!

"Well, we have to keep him under surveillance, and maybe run a background check on him. He might know something.

"He might also be a foreign national -- he speaks English well enough, but he speaks it with an accent. He looks almost Iranian, but he could be Slavic.

"I'm near the Starbucks cafe."

* * *

Blair backed up a moment as he saw both Pierson's and Angela's expressions. These last few minutes, he'd been so into the book that he'd totally forgotten that these two were an item.

"What are you doing here?" was all Pierson could say.

"Uh, we're some old friends," Blair was trying to explain. "We worked in the same department for years."

Before he could get any farther, Angela continued. It was such a smooth interruption that only Blair could tell it for what it was. "We're very good friends."

Pierson nodded, "I see."

Blair decided that being ignorant could come in handy for once. "I don't. Angela? I think this is the source of some of your problems, and we'd better sort them out here and now! If you don't, you're just going to get drunk again, and I might not be there to keep you from drowning in your own vomit."

A bit melodramatic, Blair had to admit, but when a soap opera was erupting around you and about to reach critical mass, drastic measures were called for. Plus, the expression on Pierson's face was priceless. Angela's? Blair did feel a little guilt there. Her expression was not just full of shock and disbelief, but also hurt and sadness. This was the last thing he wanted to do, but sometimes love hurt.

"Angela?" Pierson finally asked. "What is this?"

She didn't answer. Instead, she slapped Blair and went and locked herself in the bathroom.

Blair looked at the ground, sighing, "I don't know what state you left her in, but I started off confused, and now I'm worried . . . "

Pierson nodded, flopping on the couch. "You have a beer?"

Blair just stared at him, wondering if he'd even heard the last bit of conversation. He didn't say how Pierson had a total lack of tact. "No, but I have Taster's Choice. Perfect for soap operas and melodramas."

"No thanks. I think I'll have some beer."

* * *

John di'Anno sat at the dinner table, having made his final phone call for the day. "Well, Alana, that's the last of the calls. We're going to have ourselves one hell of a party!"

She pouted, "Is Adam going to be there?"

"Mr. Pierson? No. That's the whole point of it. He won't be here."

"But I wanted him to be here!" she was about to cry in that annoyingly fake way.

He had to get firm at that point. "No. I know you can't stand to live without his company for even a moment, but for once you could be practical and realize that he's trying to preserve his life?"

"You owe me one!"

He grinned toothily at that, "I think I can make a few arrangements. How would you like to have a go at the Cascade swimsuit team?"

She gasped, "You didn't!"

His grin widened. "You're right. I got you one!"

"YOU'RE IMPOSSIBLE!" Alana screeched.

John ducked her slap.

* * * *

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