by Henry Wyckoff
A Highlander/Sentinel Crossover
September 1998

Chapter 18

Joe and a much refreshed Paulo made it to the front door of the di'Anno mansion in one piece. They were greeted by a man who seemed to be more muscle than human being.

"Invitation, please?"

Paulo spoke up, "I'm Paulo Scalli, and this is Joe Dawson -- it's sort of business too."

The doorman nodded. "One moment, please." He made a few quick calls on his walkie and nodded again. "Mr. di'Anno will see you at the balcony."

As they walked down the hallway, they saw that it was not your stereotypical mansion at all. It was quite tasteful in its lack of artwork and sculptures, and it was very clean and tidy. Joe, as he walked, realized that this place needed no artwork because the building itself was art. He was reminded of Italian ruins -- the pillars and the cliffs -- as he and Paulo were escorted to see the boss.

The boss was quite unexpected. Joe was prepared to see some guy wearing a business suit, smoking a cigar and whispering in a muffled cough. He was surprised to see a short and muscular man on the young side of his middle years, wearing a plain white shirt and jeans, and drinking a Bud Light from the bottle. He seemed glad to see Paulo, who was immediately caught in a bear hug and given the kiss on each side of the face.

"Mr. di'Anno, this is Joe Dawson, the one I told you about on the phone."

"Oh, yes." Di'Anno nodded. "Have a seat. We have a lot to talk about. Or let's say that you do."

* * *

Simon Banks reached the front door of the mansion, his invitation already in his hand. In his mind, he wondered how many seconds Jim might last against the doorman. Probably none.

Without an incident, he made his way inside, where he was led to the party room. There was no doubt that this party exceeded di'Anno's reputation as a party-thrower. A heavy metal band was playing full blast, the drinks were pouring like Niagara Falls, and -- he looked away without drawing attention to himself.

Taking a few deep breaths, he reminded himself that he was here on business, and that what those ladies were doing was totally legal, so long as it was behind closed doors.

"You look like a fresh face around here."

Turning, Banks saw none other than di'Anno's wife. By the looks of things, she was well-toasted on champagne and didn't pay serious attention to her wifely vows. "You might say that."

She grinned, "You won't be for much longer."

All Banks could do was stutter and protest, but nobody could clearly hear any coherent words coming out of his mouth.

* * *

Johannes Hues spat out blood. Maybe a few teeth as well.

The interrogator had become impatient a while ago. Gone were the annoyances; here was the genuine punishment. "You think you're tough? I've made tougher men cry."

Hues smiled, still saying nothing.

"What'chu smiling about, Dutchie?"

Hues shook his head. "I'm just picturing you with a ram up your ass."

"Why, you -- " The punch meant to knock Hues into the ground flew through empty air as Hues fell forward, ramming the back of the chair into his attacker's guts.

The room erupted into pandemonium as the other bored thugs there snapped to and realized that Hues wasn't taking his punches lying down.

A moment later, Hues was free of his bonds and raising hell. Nobody had a chance to reach the radio.

"Thank you. Now I don't have to worry about a party invitation."

* * *

Jim walked to the window to get some fresh air. He needed it in more than one way. The 'immortal' bit was still fresh in his mind -- accepting that the Captain was one of them had been even harder -- but this bit about Latro, angels, and Christ cursing someone to immortality was too much.

That's when he smelled it. Oranges, or maybe tangerine. Smelled good. Then he noticed yet another impossibility today through the side of his eye; a man clinging to the very narrow ledge at the edge of the right window. Not even a pigeon would have an easy time perching there, let alone a man wearing a trench coat.

Drawing his gun, Jim yelled, "You stay right where you are!"

Everyone else inside looked at each other in confusion, then noted that Jim was yelling outside the window.

Latro waved goodbye and leaped off the ledge. Straight down.

"Shit!" Jim ran to the front door.

"What's going on?" demanded Blair, but he didn't get an answer.

Pierson went to the window and whistled, seeing the ledge where their stalker had perched. Then he looked down and saw someone who looked like Latro shake his head and run off into the city.

By this time, Jim had reached the street level and found that the man had vanished, but the smell of tangerines was fresh. Following his nose, he saw the fleeing trench-coated man reach the edge of the busy street. Instead of stopping, he gracefully leapt and rolled over the hoods of cars going full-speed, ignoring the honks from the traffic.

Jim's crossing of the street was much less graceful, and that was being very generous -- most would've called it comical. Just say it involved a lot of cars screeching to a halt and Jim doing his best not to be another statistic in the catagory of 'most idiotic attempt to cross a busy street.'

Nevertheless, Jim found that he hadn't lost Latro. The man's speed matched his own. He looked more like the bulky distance runner instead of the thin sprinter, which suited Jim just fine. The man's infuriating habit of bowling through crowds of pedestrians was not fine. "Stop!" he yelled.

Naturally, the pedestrians stopped and became a large, amorphous obstacle.

The man was getting farther away with each heartbeat.

As the man tried to cross another busy street, he wasn't so lucky. A speeding sports car hit him directly and sent him flying about five feet. His landing on the asphalt was no less graceful, and his slide no doubt scraped open half his skin and maybe even broke a few bones. Jim saw the man's face hit the pavement for sure.

"Oh God . . . " he reached the man's still form and flipped him over, hoping to see if the man needed help. He was rewarded with an unexpected punch to the face that sent him flying back against the road.

Most people would have been flopping on the ground in agony, but this guy had more juice than the Energizer Bunny.

Jim pulled himself back to his feet and tackled the man before he got too much further. "You're under arrest, pal." A handcuff was already in his hand as he reached for the right arm. He got the right arm all right; in the face again.

When the man tried running off again, Jim grabbed for the man's feet, tripping him. The sound of landing was not pleasant to hear. That's when Jim got another surprise as the man kicked him in the face, making him let go.

He didn't run this time. Instead, he pulled a long-handled axe out of his coat, faced Jim, and spoke. Jim wasn't sure what the man's accent was -- could have been from anywhere in the northern side of the country. "Let it go."

Jim pulled his gun back out. "You're under arrest. Drop the axe."

Latro smiled. "Go ahead. Shoot me." He stood still, about three feet away, his arms held wide -- more as a challenge-gesture than one of surrender.

Jim stood still. "Don't make me do it."

"You're a cop. Cops have to follow rules. They get thrown in jail if they don't. You can't shoot me, or else I might get the ACLU to sue you. Anything from 'you didn't have to shoot me' to 'you kept me from expressing my civil rights to escape arrest.' Your choice. Your move."

The cars, unable to cross this intersection, were beginning to honk their horns. Several drivers with cell phones were calling the cops.

Jim, focused on Latro, didn't notice all the horns.

Latro smiled. "Come on, cop. What's your move? Either shit or get off the pot."

"You want me to kill you?"

He shrugged, "Whatever." A heartbeat later, he kicked the gun out of the way -- but not out of Jim's hands. Another punch sent Jim flying to the ground.

When he got back to his feet and saw that Latro was in the line of fire -- innocent citizens' line of fire -- he cursed to himself. Though he tried to run after him, Latro was completely hidden. All the exhaust from the many idling cars in all directions had effectively killed Jim's senses.

For a moment, he really could appreciate why certain immortals were killed by others, especially if they could be as aggravating as this man.

* * *

Latro breathed a sigh of relief as he walked down the empty alleyway.

"Nice trick." An English accent.

"I wondered when you might show up again."

Methos emerged, his sword drawn. "I'm funny that way."

* * * *

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