STREETS
by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
September 1998



Chapter 11

Johannes Hues was still shaking his head in irritated fury. Just when everything was going perfect . . . he'd have to find out what to do with that altar boy. Since Pierson was out of reach for a while, and he had no idea where to find the man next, he thought he'd hit item number two on his list; look up Blair Sandburg.

Maybe it was that wagging of his head that helped him catch what he thought was a spotter.

A little more walking confirmed it. He was being tailed by multiple unknowns wearing suits.

Perfect time for some coffee. That's why Hues liked Cascade and Seattle so much; all the coffee.

A few dollars spent and a cappuccino on his table, next to a bar of chocolate, and he'd soon find out if they were just here to keep track of his location, or to kill him.

It's sad that he was so used to dealing with gentlemen, because these men were not gentlemen. Hues had chosen an outside table close to the road, and a plain van skidded to a halt at his table. Before he could even stand, he was grabbed and thrown into the van by three people. In a heartbeat, the van was invisible, hidden by several other similar vans that just happened to show up at the same place at the same time.

Hues didn't really know all this because he was being hog-tied and gagged. The last thing he heard before the chloroform kicked in was, "Nice tattoo."

* * *

"Would you care for some tea?" Blair asked, trying to forget that Angela had locked herself in the bathroom.

"That depends on what kind. Detective Ellison warned us all about your unusual choices in food."

"It's this really exotic tea I got at the import store. It's from lower China."

"Oh?" Methos knew China pretty well, and found himself leaning forward.

"It's called Orange Pekoe," Blair managed to say with a straight face.

"Ha-ha. You almost had me going. I was afraid you'd give me some Peruvian fermented Llama organ."

"No. That's what Ellison probably shared with you when I made him some sandwiches."

Pierson's face paled. "Did it have the consistency of beef liver?"

"Mmm . . . I'd say that's about right."

"With what I believed was salad dressing?"

"Of course."

"I'd better pray you're a funny guy."

"I'd say that too, but most people don't appreciate my kind of humor."

"I can imagine."

Blair brought back a pitcher of iced tea with some glasses, and realized that they were having one of those silent moments. Blair knew Pierson's secret, and Pierson obviously knew that Blair knew, so they didn't have toplay that game with masks that occupied so many spy movies.

Blair broke the momentary silence, which must have been no more than six or seven heartbeats. "Would you mind if I asked you a few questions?"

He shrugged, sipping some of the tea, "Why not?"

"Great. I was wondering . . . how did it all happen? I mean, how did you get to be immortal?" Blair shut up then, afraid that if he didn't shut up, he never would.

Pierson was silent for a moment. He knew that the kid was an honest scholar, and that he'd keep the secret. There really was no danger at the moment, and if there was a danger . . . then there wasn't much he could really do right now. "We all are born thinking we're like everyone else. Mortal, that is. We enter into all walks of life, just like anyone else. Some of us are farmers, some beggars, and some rulers of nations. It's random that way. Then one day we're killed in one fashion or another; war or muder are most common, but accidents also happen. We come back to life and find that we never stay dead."

"Do you feel different?"

"No. We feel the same way we always do. If we're weak and lazy, that's the way we come back. If we're in our prime and healthy, that's the way we come back." Pierson's smile was shameless, "You can guess the outcome. Darwin wasn't far off the mark."

"So there's some form of elimination?"

"Just like life eliminates us. We make our choices and pay for them, just like anyone else. We step in a manhole; we fall. We anger a man, we die or wish we had."

Blair seemed disappointed, "So in many ways, you feel and experience things just like anyone else?"

"Exactly. We're not superheroes or demons by any account, as many who have known about us made us out to be. We don't even know why we are the way we are, and in many ways, we're worse off than you, no matter how much the poets and philosophers say otherwise."

"Oh?"

"Think about it this way. Have you ever thought that death might be a boon?"

Instead of protesting, to Pierson's surprise, Blair became even more animated, "Oh yes! I mean, the 'dying' must be kind of painful, but many primitive tribes still believe that death is very sacred and an integral part of life. Why, when I was in the Amazon -- "

Pierson genuinely found this fascinating, but he had this sinking suspicion that even the Taco Bell Chihuahua would lose its pre-morning espresso high faster than this kid.

* * *

Jim's senses were on maximum focus, so much so that he nearly screamed like a cat, and jumped nearly as high, when his server had to tap his shoulder to get his attention. "G'fuh?"

"Would you like some more coffee?" The server looked more concerned than annoyed.

"Oh yeah," he nodded quickly.

Her nod was pensive. "Should I call a doctor?"

"That's all right. I'm just thinking."

When he was able to focus again on the old man, he saw some other men in suits approaching. One of them spoke to the old man, his voice garbled somewhat by the ambient sound. "I couldn't help but notice the tattoo. It sort of stands out."

The old man shrugged, "So did your bad tracking skills. I've seen you guys circle around like vultures for the last half hour."

"You should have split then, old man. Di'Anno is paying top dollar for the man who brings in anyone with your tattoo."

The old man was unconcerned, "Anyone can get that tattoo for fifty bucks."

"Not fifty years ago. You coming with us or not?"

"I don't think so. I didn't like di'Anno's father or his choice in bodyguards, and I don't think I'll like his son."

"That's too bad."

The thugs were suddenly startled by the beefed-up man who had somehow snuck up behind them. "It'll be worse for you if you don't put your guns on the ground. You're under arrest for threatening to kidnap a foreign tourist by force."

One of the thugs laughed. "You're a comedian, right?" He looked around at his friends to see if they got the joke. When he looked back at the badge and the gun pointing at him, he stopped laughing. "You want the OK Corral in a public place?"

"There won't be one. The old man wasn't the only one who saw you. You're now surrounded by cops who are going to step in at any moment if you won't cooperate."

"This some fucking joke? You're bluffing!"

The old man spoke up. "Apparently not. Your friends are stone-cold on the ground. It looks like the cops've got the new 'plasma' rifles."

Jim hid his shock much better than the thug now did. True to the old man's word, the other men were lying in restful sleep on the ground. But Jim knew for sure there weren't any plasma rifles in existence. It must have been something the old man had done while Jim and the thug were involved in their head-butting session.

"What the -- " The thug took a chance and spun fully around, and screamed as he found the old man's face just an inch from his.

Jim now learned how the other thugs had gone down. The old man grabbed a portion of the man's neck muscles and crushed. Jim'd never seen anything like it, except on Star Trek. The difference from Spock was, the old man was as brutal as the thug's expression looked -- he sure wasn't peaceful by any stretch of the imagination.

"What was that?"

"Pinched nerve," the old man explained. "If you've ever had to work with your back, like I did, you learn that your muscles can pinch nerves, or that the hands can. Do you have any aspirin?"

"No. Why?"

He shrugged. "I think that it would be courteous to leave them some for when they wake up. Even turning their necks will be painful." He held out his hand. "Thank you for saving my life, Detective Ellison. I would not have been able to stop them without your distraction."

Jim shook it cautiously, "And you would be?"

"Rujevicyn Tutyr. Now you can see why everyone just calls me 'old man.'"

"Mr. Tutyr, we have to have a good talk, as soon as my backup actually arrives and picks these thugs up."

"Have a seat and some coffee, and we can wait for your backup. What would you like to know?"

Ellison sat in a spot that kept both the old man and the thugs in his eyeline. "Why not with the beginning?"

"That, my friend, is a long story." The old man wasn't evasive or nervous in any way. In fact, it seemed that Tutyr wasn't afraid in at all, or else that he just didn't care.

* * * *


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