Title: Imitation
Author: akire
Email: akire@mailcity.com
Status: almost complete (just a few editoral changes to make) 
Category: Crossover: Highland/The Sentinel plus mention of other
Spoilers: umm, got a basic grasp of the Highlander universe?  Fine.  Oh
yeah, we’re a Clan Denial fanfic.  In The Sentinel, we pick up after
TSbBS.  Takes place immediately after TIU, so may help to have read
that, but not vital. 
Disclaimers:  D/P, Pet Fly really do own ‘em.  Bastards.  If you don’t
recognize it, its probably mine.  If it’s silly or crazy, definitely is
mine.  But if anyone sends the lawyers after me, I’m sending out the
boys with swords ;)  Oh yeah, and imitation is the sincerest form of
flattery.  If you recognize a specific fanfic creation, it belongs to
its author (when this series is finished, I may tally them up) 
Rating: PG, prob.  Hey, I’m not offended by much, if it should be rated
higher, tell me! 
Content Warning: purists beware.  Language may offend some readers. m/m
relationship in the periphery. 
Summary: Immediately following the guerilla warfare of ‘The Immortal
Underground,’ Jim and Blair return to Cascade only to be thrown
straight back into the deep end!  Someone is running around Cascade,
chopping off people’s heads and trying to make it look like an Immortal
beheading.  Little does the murderer know that Cascade’s resident Immie
is on the case – and he knows what a Quickening looks like. 
That’s long enough. On with the show! 


The sound of the telephone ringing penetrated Blair's consciousness,
tearing him away from the realm of dreams.

"Man, if that's Joe, tell him to shove his tattoo where the sun don't
shine," Blair cussed into the pillow, well aware his room mate could
hear every word.  Pulling his quilt further over his head, he tried to
burrow down and recapture Morpheus.  But it was not to be.  Despite
still feeling a bone-deep fatigue after the past few days, he was awake
now, and that's the way it was obviously going to stay.

Yielding to the inevitable, Blair shifted until he was basically
upright, reorganising his quilt around his shoulders into a makeshift
cloak.  Yawning widely, he staggered out towards the bathroom.
Staggering back into the main area of the loft a few minutes later, he
was just in time to see Jim hang up the phone, one hand still holding
the pen he had obviously been sketching hasty notes with.


The other man's face was grim, his professional mask tightly in place. 
"That was Simon.  He wants us to meet him at a crime scene."

Blair's shoulder's sag.  "Oh man, today's just going to keep on going
downhill, isn't it?"

Jim ignored the rhetorical question, moving to intercept his partner.
"Blair, this homocide..."  he stalled, an unusual occurrence for the

"Yeah, man?  What, messy?  I think after the weekend we've just had, a
little more blood won't kill me."  He even managed a weak smile for his
weak joke.

"Blair.  The corpse.  Its been beheaded.  The higher-ups already think
it's an Immortal-related death.  Simon hasn't even got a detective on
the scene yet, and the brass are already breathing down his neck."

Blair let the quilt drop to floor as he threw up his hand.  "Fucking
great.  Just what we need!  Politics!"  He span in a tight circle,
getting a hold on the fury of emotions he was feeling.  Finally, he
sighed, a tight, explosive sound.  "Let me get dressed.  You got the
address?"  He glanced at the pad in Jim's hand.  "We can be there in
twenty if we hurry.  Come on, let's go do some damage control."
Stepping over the quilt pooled around his ankles, he stepped across the
room and snatched up the phone.  "I'll clue Joe in while we're at it.
Geez, he's gonna love hearing from me."  As Jim left to get ready, he
heard Blair angrily punch out the number, then fill Joe in on the
situation in tightly controlled tones.  Like he had a dozen times since
the previous day, he looked down at the blank skin of his inner wrist. 
In his mind's eye, he recalled the identical tattoos Janet and Joe
wore...the tattoo he too would wear if he took the veteran up on his
offer.  To be a Watcher.  No, to be Blaer's Watcher, an important
distinction.  The subject watching the scientist – there was a kind of
symmetry in the concept, but still Jim was unsure. Running his other
hand roughly over the still unmarked skin, he turned his attention to
the coming case.  There was time to think about the other man's offer


Half an hour after receiving the call from their Captain, Jim and Blair
pulled up outside the warehouse.  Already the uniforms were taping out
the crime scene, and the white van parked near the entrance advertised
the presence of the forensics.  Jim listened for a moment.  "Simon's
inside.  Ready?"

Blair nodded.  "Yeah."  He smiled at his partner.  "This is a bit of a
role reversal, hey?  I'm doing the snooping while you run

Jim shook his head as he got out of the car.  "No.  We're
snooping whilst Simon runs interference!"

Blair laughed easily as the pair struck out for the door, ducking under
the tape.  "Nothing unusual there, then."

Their entry into the warehouse ended that conversation.  Instantly,
they spotted Simon and headed over.  By the time they had reached the
Captain, Blaer was already shaking his head subtly.

"There you two are.  Come on up to the gantry level, you can observe
the entire crime scene without getting in the way from up there."
Under that pretense he dragged his top detectives out of earshot of the
forensic staff.  "Okay, Sandburg, I thought you said you were pretty
much alone in the city."

Blair nodded, his eyes memorizing the crime scene from their bird's-eye
view, searching for clues.  "This wasn't one of ours."

Simon stared at the smaller man, his mind obviously taking a moment to
explore this new option.  "What do you mean?  How can you be sure?"

Blair jutted his chin upwards.  "Well, the big give away is that the
windows are still pretty much whole and untouched.  A real Quickening
would have almost leveled this place."  He then looked down to the
corpse being photographed from every angle.  "As for her, well, take a
look at the body.  Not even fit by modern standards, let alone ‘fight-
for-your-life-daily' levels.  She's wearing flimsy heels, a short dress
and she has long fingernails.  Immaculate hands in general, soft.  No
coat to be found?  Nowhere to stash a weapon in general.    There's a
skill to looking fantastic and being ready to fight, just ask
Amanda one day.  Finally, the third clue."  At this he smirked at his


It was Jim who answered.  "That we found the body at all.  The amount
of blood on the floor, and the way her clothes are soaked through,
she's been here a while.  If she, or her killer, were Immortal, the
duty Watcher would have cleaned up."

Blair nodded.  "Yep, got it in one, Jim.  Its part of their job to help
avoid scenes like this."  He made a sweeping gesture,
encompassing the mass of police officers and support staff who were
milling around the area, waiting to do their job, or cleaning up

Simon nodded.  "Okay, say for a moment I buy the idea that she isn't
Immortal.  What about the killer?"  

Blair nodded absently, his eyes on the body which was now being
carefully lifted into a body bag.  "The neck wound.  It's jagged, the
cut isn't clean.  The weapon wasn't razor sharp, the cutting blow was
clumsy."  He shrugged philosophically.  "Maybe," he drawled, "it
was a newbie Immortal, high on the whole live-forever shickt.  But I
doubt it.  It's hard work to slice someone's neck clean through..." he
caught the tiny shudders of his audience and hurried on.  "My point
being, you're trained to keep your weapon so sharp you don't need to
hack at it.  But our killer was almost in a frenzy, trying to remove
her head from her neck.  Plus, the Watcher thing again."  He turned
away from the scene below as the corpse was wheeled away.  "I vote for
copy-cat killer.  All the elements that were in the media are present,
but that's an incomplete picture."

He smiled slightly at his partner and captain.  

Simon loosened his collar awkwardly.  "Okay, lets wait for forensics to
back that up, but between you, me and the wall, lets start working on
the copy-cat theory.  I want you two to take point on this, and I'll
tell Joel and Meagan to make themselves available if you need a hand." 
He looked down, and waved his hand to get someone's attention.  "Let me
see how long forensics is going to take.  You two..." he shook his head
slightly.  "Just do your thing, and try not to be obvious about it."

Conference over, the trio split up to find a killer.

Returning to the floor of the warehouse, the pair soon slid into their
standard routine.  Blair Guiding, Jim scanned the area with his senses,
looking for clues which forensics might have missed.  But there had
been too much movement in the area, the delay between murder and
discovery too long for there to be much of a scent trace.  Neither did
he find any telltales, such as hair or fiber.

The pair followed the Coronor's guerney outside and watched the van
drive off.  "Nothing, Chief.  I guess we're just going to have to do
this the old fashioned way."

Blair groaned theatrically.  "I was afraid you'd say that."


Afternoon saw the pair at their desks in the bullpen, trawling over the
scraps of information forensics was able to get for them from the crime

Blair tossed the sheaf of papers to the desk.  "Well, that was

Jim followed suit, and stretched his arms above his head until his
joints popped.  "Yeah, no prints, no fiber, nothing.  Few marks on the
girl, apart from the obvious," he amended hastily.  "Minor bruising
around the wrists, rope manacles probably.  She wasn't assaulted before
murder.  Delusional killer?" He tossed out.

Blair shrugged.  "Maybe.  Perhaps he watched one too many news reports
on Immortality and decided the profile fit?"

"How so, Chief?"  Jim scooted his chair over so they wouldn't be easily

"Okay, try this one.  We have our guy –  I agree with forensics, I
don't think your average woman could have managed the decapitation.
Anyway, our guy has a few screws already loose.  A little unstable, but
not hurting anyone, so isn't in care or anything.  Then the news
breaks.  Now, maybe he's had a near death before hand, or had a little
epiphany after having his head filled with stories of Immortality.
Decides he must be Immortal, and therefore he's thinking..."

Jim finished, nodding.  "He's thinking he must go around
chopping people's heads off.  But why this girl?"

Blair sighed and pushed his hair off his face.  "She might have been
convenient.  Maybe she said or did something which, in this guys mind,
identified her.  I don't think we could guess until we know more about
her."  He looked around the office.  "Shouldn't have we gotten an
identity by now?"

Jim pushed himself back to his own desk.  "We're working mainly on
prints, since we can't really circulate a photo of her likeness in her
current state.  No purse or ID was found on the body, so it may take
them at least another hour.  Let's eat while we can," he continued
after a pause.  "And I believe it's your turn to fetch takeout."

By the time Blair had returned with rolls from the nearby deli, Jim was
getting off the phone.

"We've got an ID.  Her name was Charlotte Archer.  She was a grad
student, intending to start her program in the new term."

"What in?"  Blair's academic curiousity was automatic.

"History.  I rang Rainier, spoke to her supervisor just then."  He
gestured to the phone curtly before drawing Blair in to speak quietly. 
"Three guesses as to what her topic of historical research was going to

Blair felt a sour taste in the back of his throat.  "Immortality?
Immortals in History?"

Jim nodded, but he showed no great satisfaction.  "Got it in one.  I'd
say we've found our connection, Chief."

"What about family?"

"She transferred in from Colorado.  The local police should be
notifying the family now.  However, her supervisor did give me her
address.  Maybe someone there knew our killer."

Grabbing their stuff, they headed for the lift.


Charlotte Archer's flat was full of half- unpacked boxes, books stacked
in teetering piles, clothes strewn around, notepads and folders and all
the accoutrements of student-hood to be found in every corner.  For a
moment, Jim remembered when Blair first came to live with him.  He
treated his living space the same way – just a place to sleep and store
your notes.

"I wonder if she had an office on campus?" He wondered out loud.

"Depends," Blair answered as he slipped into the room.  "She was only a
master's student, but if she was teaching, she might have a share-
space.  At the least, she'd probably been given a study carrel in the
library or maybe somewhere in the Hall.  But whether or not she'd had
time to move much in..?"  He shrugged and left the statement hanging.
"According to the landlady, Charlotte's flatmate was a Miss Cathy
Jenkins.  She was planning to move in this weekend.  I've got a contact
number to follow up with."

Jim grunted his approval and moved deeper into the flat, senses wide
open for any clue.  However, as expected, he came up blank.  "I don't
think anyone's been in here for a few days, Chief."

Blair nodded.  "Yeah.  Forensics said she'd been laying there since
Saturday night."  

Jim rubbed his forehead.  It seemed like an eternity ago, but in fact
it was less than twenty-four hours since he had sat with Blair and the
others after the raid on the military base.  The stresses of the
weekend and the lack of sleep after the long drive back to Cascade were
beginning to make themselves felt.  "What about the landlady, the

Blair was looking at him, concerned as only a Guide can be, but he
answered the questions.  "Mrs Cairncross, the landlady, was at her
niece's wedding in Vancouver all weekend, only just got back in this
morning.  She tried to show me the photos.  We can doorknock the
neighbours now if you like?"  

Jim let Blair do most of the talking as they interviewed the neighbours
to either side and across the hall, restricting himself to simply
monitoring their heart rates, making sure they only told the truth.
The neighbour to Charlotte's left remembered seeing the girl leave
around 6pm on Saturday, dressed to go out.  His rough description
matched the clothes that Charlotte was found in.  He did not know where
she might have been going, though.

Jim and Blair thumped back down the street.  "Back to square one,"
Blair managed before a yawn almost split his face.

Jim fought a futile battle against contagious yawning.  "Yeah.  Let's
go check in at the station, then head home and get some rest.  As tired
as we are now, we'd probably miss a clue if it jumped up and down in

Blair snorted, but it was clear he was unsettled.  There was a killer
out there.  As if Immortality wasn't dangerous enough already.


As soon as they dragged themselves into the station, they were nabbed
by Rhonda who was heading home.  "Jim, Blair.  Simon wants to see you
two immediately."

Suppressing a groan, Blair followed Jim through the bullpen.  He could
hear his bed calling to him.  He was Immortal, that didn't mean he
could go days without sleep.

Well, not without a damn good reason, anyway.

Once inside their Captain's office, Simon got straight to the point.
"The brass are demanding answers.   In fact, I've got to head upstairs
in five minutes and explain – personally.  What can I give

Sharing a brief look, Blair began first by outlining what the forensic
report said, then by giving a quick overview of his ‘delusional killer'
theory.  "We've identified the victim as Charlotte Archer, a grad
student at Rainier.  Here's where we think the link is.  We think our
killer chose her because of her research interest – Immortal's in

Simon was not impressed.  "That's a shaky link at best, Sandburg."

He threw up his hands, his patience exhausted.  "Simon, Captain,
please.  We've only been working on this since 10:30 this morning.
It's taken most of the day to get an identity on the body!  There were
no witnesses at the murder site, no security tapes to give us a
convenient clue.  Despite popular opinion, we can't just pull miracles
out of our hats!"  He sat back in his seat, exhausted and slightly
shaky after his rant.

Simon looked closely at his best detective pair.  "What time did you
two get in last night?"

Blair snorted, not looking up from his twiddling hands.  "This morning,
you mean?"

"Did you two do whatever it was you had to do."

Blair felt Jim's eyes on him.  "Yeah.  But don't ask what that was,
Simon.  It'd only increase your blood pressure, okay man?"

Jim intervened.  "Sir, we're going home.  We're going to get some
takeout and have a good nights sleep.  We'll start again tomorrow, and
hopefully we'll have something for you."

Blair rose and gave an honest smile.  "Don't worry Simon.  Since you
can't dazzle ‘em with out brilliance..."

"...I'll baffle ‘em with your bullshit.  Go on, go home."  He shooed
the pair out of his office.


"Benjamin Johansen."

Jim looked at his partner.  "Who is Benjamin Johansen?"

"Our lead."  Jogging over to the truck, Blair waited until they were on
the road before continuing his story.  "Mr Johansen is another graduate
student at Rainier.  And, according to the department secretary, is
also highly interested in Immortal involvement in history.  Also, as
the lovely Lucy told me, they were both up for a number of grants."

"How does this tie into our theory?"

Blair almost bounced in his seat.  "It doesn't.  That's just it.  We've
been working from my off-the-fly theories as if they're dogma.  Maybe
we've been looking at this all wrong.  Perhaps the motive wasn't
delusions.  Perhaps it was greed."

"Yeah, but to kill for the grant money?  In such a manner?  Why not
just shoot her, or poison her, or run her over with his car?  Why did
he have to hack her head off?"

Blair shrugged, deflating slightly.  "I don't know, man.  Perhaps he
has an over-inflated sense of style, or maybe he thinks it some cosmic
irony.  I dunno."  Folding in on himself slightly, he stared out the
window at the passing scenery.

Jim reached over to squeeze his Guide's arm.  You didn't need to be a
Sentinel to know how hard this was hitting Blair, despite the act that
this was just another case.  "Well, lets go ask him."


Benjamin Johansen was blonde to the point of bleached.  Pale hair, pale
eyes, pale skin, pale clothes, pale personality.  Bland and humourless,
it only took a few minutes for Jim to ascertain that Johansen didn't
even know that his colleague and rival was dead.  His grief was real.

The fact that he had a rock-solid alibi for Saturday night helped too.

They asked a few more questions, but the news of Charlotte's death had
obviously hit the young student hard.  Seeing no need to press
questions at this stage, they made their exit.

Outside, in the pale morning sunlight, Blair stretched and groaned.  "A
dead end.  I thought we might have had our lead for a minute there."

Jim rubbed his partner's shoulder for a moment.  "It was a good piece
of detective work, anyway.  I never thought to access the department
grapevine.  Did your Lucy have any other insights into Charlotte
Archer's behaviour."

Walking slowly back to the truck, Blair shook his head.  "No.  Lucy had
to think for a minute to put name to face.  She was so new here, nobody
really knew her well."  He clambered into the truck.  "I asked Lucy to
check and see if she had a desk or carrel somewhere.  Maybe she had
some notes or something.  But it's a long shot.  So where to now?"

"Back to the station."  The truck roared into life and sped away.


Jim returned from the break room, coffee in hand, to catch the last
part of Blair's side of the telephone conversation.

"...yeah, got it.  Thanks for getting back to me about it Lucy.  I
appreciate it.  Say hi to the Blue Dragon for me."  Laughing over some
shared joke, he hung up the phone.

"Your Lucy?"

"Yeah, she found Charlotte's carrel.  A few notes and files.  She had
our friend Benjamin pack them up.  Apparently, they were just starting
to work on a joint paper, which is why he knew her better than their
other colleagues.  I don't think Johansen had anything to do with the
murder, so I said that was okay."

Jim nodded.  "I'd like to see if there was a notebook or diary or
something.  I mean, we don't even know where she was when she was

Blair shut his own notepad and shoved it in his pack.  "Lucy gave me
his address."

"Lets go then."


Benjamin Johansen lived in a studio apartment built out of a converted
warehouse.  The area was one undergoing gentrification, and was popular
with yuppies and other young professionals.

Blair whistled under his breath.  "Grad work is obviously paying more
than when I was there."

Jim swept over the area with his eyes.  At this hour, the place was
nearly deserted, most residents at work.  His ‘spidey' senses were
tingling.  "This way."  He began leading the way towards the last
converted warehouse in the project.  Beyond were the hollow shells of
building yet to be taken over by renovators. The distant hum of traffic
was the only real noise.

Jim's head suddenly tilted up, and his face took on that distant,
focused look.  "What, Jim?"  Automatically, Blair slid into Guide mode.
"What do you sense?"

"Two heartbeats, heading towards the abandoned buildings.  One's
racing, scared.  The other heartbeat is fast too, but excited fast."
Picking up their pace, they moved clear of the renovated warehouse and
headed towards the sagging wire fence that separated new from old.
"They've gone into that warehouse," Jim said, pointing.  He began to
jog.  "I think one of them is Johansen."  Automatically, Blair flipped
out his phone and called for backup.  Joel and Meagan were on their
way, but he doubted they'd arrive in time.  Pocketing his phone, he
took off after his partner.

It took them only a few seconds to clear the distance between them and
the building.  Slipping inside, Jim drew his weapon.  He could hear
Johansen, his voice breaking and sobbing as he pleaded with his captor
to be freed.

"Shit," he heard Blair mutter.  "Jim, its one of us."

Jim stopped and looked at where Blair stood, plastered against the
door.  Blair tapped the back of his head.  "I think I'm just outside
his Buzz range.  Once we move, I want you to get Johansen and get him
out.  Understand?"  Blair hissed in an almost inaudible whisper, the
tone was that of Guide.  Already Jim felt the impulse to comply.  "I'll
deal with the other guy.  Ready?  Let's go."

Pausing only long enough to ensure that Jim was still with him, they
plunged deeper into the gloom.  Moving through the flimsy plywood
office, Blair felt the Buzz blossom into full awareness.  This Buzz
tasted slightly different to the one's he was more accustomed too.  It
seemed – ‘thinner' was the only word he could think of.  He and Jim
moved through the open doorway and onto the warehouse floor proper.  

A burly man, of medium high, held Johansen by the hair and was half-
kicking, half-dragging him towards the far exit.  He had bound the
student's wrists with rough rope, and Johansen's feet were bare.  The
unknown Immortal had probably ambushed Johansen in his house, and had
dragged him here to have his head removed from his shoulders.  The
sword he held was proof of that hypothesis.

As Blair and Jim moved further onto the floor, the unknown man yelled
out in pain as he fought the urge to buckle in pain.  That confirmed
Blair's worst fears.  This Immortal was new, had had no real contact
with others of his kind, no real understanding of how the Game was
played.  All he knew was what had been in the media.

If he hadn't been holding Johansen like a shield, Blair would have just
shot him and dragged him away to some private corner to figure out his
next move.  But as long as he had a hostage, they had to come up with a
different plan.

"Who are you?"  The voice bellowed across at them.  Johansen flinched
and tried to wiggle away.  He was rewarded with a boot to the knee.
The pain of the Buzz had faded, and now he was angry.

"Cascade PD!  Release the hostage and drop the weapon NOW!"

The laughter was high pitched and unsteady.  "I've got news for you,
pig!  You shoot me, I'll come right back!  I'm Immortal!"  More
giggling.  "I'm Immortal!  I rule you all!  You will bow before me!"
He yanked at Johansen and put the sword menacingly at the young man's
throat.  The giggling was verging on hysterics.  "Bill the Brilliant!
That's what I'll be called.  You'll all bow before me in fear!  Bill
the Bold, ruling the world!"

Blair assessed the situation.  The guy was psycho.  Whether he was nuts
before, or whether the shock of death had made him this way, he had no
idea.  Untrained, obviously.  The way he was barely able to lift the
heavy two-handed sword he held with only one hand was proof of that.

Jim yelled his second warning.  "Release the hostage and surrender!"


Johansen's face screwed up.  With speed and bravery Blair wouldn't have
credited to the bleached boy, he pushed back and stomped down hard on
his kidnapper's instep.  He then threw his head back hard.  ‘Bill the
Brilliant' automatically released Johansen, who staggered out of his
grasp.  But the kicks he had taken to his knees made themselves felt,
and he fell to the ground only a few paces away.  His bound hands meant
he could not break his fall.  Roaring, Bill lifted his sword, obviously
determined to kill Johansen before he could recover and escape.

Jim's aim was true.  The bullet tore through the shoulder of his sword
arm.  The weapon fell with a clatter, as the insane Immortal collapsed
to his knees.  "But I am IMMORTAL!" He yelled in defiance and

"Still hurts like hell," Blair commented, sotto voce.  Keeping his
service weapon trained on the other Immortal, he spoke in a normal
voice.  "Jim, get Johansen out of here."  He caught the look Jim threw
him and nodded subtly.  He would deal with this the old fashioned way.

Half-leading, half-carrying the stunned man, Jim made for the office
entrance.  As they passed through the outer doors, he heard the squeal
of tyres.  Moments later, Joel's car appeared, followed by Simon's, who
was almost literally on his bumper.  They slid to a stop right in
front.  He wrenched the back door of Simon's car open and pushed
Johansen in.

He snapped at Officer Gravin, who was riding shotgun with Simon.  "He
was taken as hostage.  Drive him back to his apartment," he waved the
direction.  "And keep him inside.  He'll probably start going into
shock soon."  Shutting the door, he paused only long enough for Gravin
to slide into the drivers' seat and take off.  He then turned and ran
back inside.  His heightened hearing had been keeping tabs on what had
been happening inside.  Blair had tried to talk to this Bill guy, and
gotten a sword swung at him for his trouble.  Still his partner kept
talking, trying to bring Bill down out of whatever delusional state his
mind was in.

Jim skidded to a halt just inside the warehouse proper as the first
clang of steel against steel rang out.  Talking hadn't worked. He was
aware of Meagan, Joel and Simon following him inside, and for a moment
he hoped that the noise was not carrying outside.  Then he lost himself
in the flashing of blades.

The suspect was grossly outclassed, that was obvious even to those as
unschooled in the niceties of sword play as these four were.

Amazingly, Blair was still talking a mile a minute even as he battered
aside every clumsy thrust his opponent made.  He wasn't even breathing
hard, yet Bill was panting, his strokes becoming wilder and wilder.
Blair pulled back and allowed his opponent a moment's respite.  "Why?
Why kill them?  They had no part in the Game?"

Bill's face curled into a evil leer.  "We are better than them.  Their
only use is to service our amusement.  You and I are brothers, you
should know this!"

Something in Blair's expression gave.  "Very well."  Jim felt like ice
was trickling down his spine.  This was not his partner, his flatmate,
his friend.

He knew what was coming.

"Blaer, Shaman of the City." He introduced himself formally, with a
little incline of his head.  So proper, so ritualised.  So very, very
cold and unfeeling.  "You are Bill?"  He leveled the point of his sword
at Bill's heart.  "I challenge you."  Bill looked utterly lost.

"What?  What are you talking about?"

"You wish to play the Game?  Then play!"  With that snarled word, he
leapt towards his opponent, restraint gone.  Bill tried to shield
himself from the flurry of punishing strikes, but lost his weapon under
the ferocity of the strokes.  Spinning, Blaer kicked out and knocked
his opponent's legs out from under him.  A strike with the pommel
between the shoulders, and Bill was down on all fours.  

His expression was pure shock.  Then the blade arced down and severed
his neck.

Meagan made a little choking noise as she tried not to vomit.  Jim felt
his throat constrict tightly.  That was...that was brutal.  He looked
towards his Guide and met his eyes.  "Leave!"  Blair called urgently.

Joel looked like he wanted to argue.  "But..."

"Ohmygod!" Meagan breathed as she pointed to the decapitated body.  It
was glowing blue.

Jim heard a muttered ‘shit' from his Guide, then he yanked every dial
down in pain as lightening struck within the confines of the warehouse.
He forced himself to look from where he and the others cowered against
the wall.  The lightening was striking his Guide, each strike causing
Blair's body to jerk and writhe.  But his face – it was enraptured,
reflecting ecstasy.  The dichotomy kept Jim from rushing to his side.

As suddenly it began, it was over.  Blair flopped bonelessly to the
ground.  The spell broken, the foursome at the door rushed to help
their friend.  Jim lifted Blair gently, but already the smaller man was
pushing himself to stand.  His eyes were a little glazed and unfocused,
but were becoming clearer all the time.

"Blair?  Talk to us!  What the hell was that?"

Blair waved them down with a soft smile.  "Just a little, baby
Quickening."  The comment was punctuated by the crashing sound as one
of the remaining high windows fell to the floor down the other end of
the warehouse.  Most of the other windows had shattered in their
frames.  He sniffed to clear his nose, shook his head slightly, and
stretched his arms behind his back until his joints popped.  Leaning
over to pick up his dropped weapon, he muttered to himself in tones so
low even Jim had trouble hearing.  "What a sick, twisted fuck."  The
sword vanished into the folds of his coat.

Meagan was staring.  "That was little?!"

Blair grinned.  "Hell yeah.  Tiny."  Patting down his pocket, he pulled
out his cellphone and flicked it open.  "Damn.  Dead.  Jim, you got
your cell there?"

Taking the phone, he walked a little away.  Tuning in shamelessly, Jim
realised his partner was calling the Watcher's for a cleanup.
Returning to the main group, Blair snapped the phone shut.  "Okay,
we're set.  Come on."  The smirk became pure cheek.  "What a pity a
wounded suspect got the drop on me when you were all outside.  I guess
Jim's bullet only grazed him.  I suppose we'll put out an APB on him,
but I doubt he'll surface again."  

Simon was waking from his daze.  "To think I joined the police for
truth and justice," he muttered.  "Okay, he got away.  What about the

"He attacked with the sword and when I dodged he whacked the power

"Why on Earth would anyone do that?" Joel asked.

Blair smirked and pushed into the sunlight.  "Immortal's work in
mysterious ways, my friend."


"Well, he was a murderer.  He'd be in jail for ten- twenty years.  I
think someone would get suspicious.  Anyway, that guy was so many
sandwiches short of a picnic, he'd probably front up to the warden and
slit his own wrist to make the point really clear."  Blair passed a
bottle to his room mate before reclaiming his place around the table.

"How can you be so sure he was nuts?" Henri asked as he dealt the
cards.  The pairs' night to host the poker game had also provided the
opportunity to discuss what had happened three days earlier.

Blair tapped the side of his head.  "Cos he's here.  I felt him, tasted
his psyche as the Quickening rose.  The shock of death was too much for
him."  He pondered his cards, ignoring the looks he was receiving.  "It
happens more often than you'd think.  Every so often, one even
survives.  One nutcase Immortal I had the distinct pleasure in never
actually meeting had this fetish for biological warfare.  Cutting
slaves and packing the wounds with dung to see what happened.  Ebola
had him fascinated enough to start mixing up his own shit.  Totally
skitzoid.  Took them four thousand years and some serious rule bending
to end his little delusions of grandeur.  Did not want to leave
that kind of mess lying around, guys."

Simon folded.  "There was so much in that my head is hurting," he

Meagan grinned from the other end of the table.  "Let me see if I've
got this straight.  Quickenings are like a great big psychic mind-dump.
You not only get the whole strength and skill thing, but you also
absorb the personality?"

"Pretty much."

"Doesn't that change you too?"

Blair shrugged and considered his cards.  "Sometimes.  I remember one
Quickening I took, the guy really loved his haggis.  For a week
afterwards I was eating that crap morning, noon and night until Reia
took pity on my and shoved a dirk through my chest."  He winked at
Meagan.  "Shock of death usually puts little things like that right.
For the biggies, the Dark Quickenings, you need some serious holy
ground time."  He whistled through his teeth.  "But lets save that
cheerful topic for another day, hmm.  See you and raise you, Jim."

The rest of Major Crimes watched as Blair won another hand.  "I went
back to the warehouse the morning after.  The windows had been
replaced, the junk in there returned to their original place.  If I
hadn't seen it myself, I wouldn't have believed it."

Jim answered that one.  "Hooray for Watchers, hey?"  He looked at his
partner significantly.  They had spoken after they had made it home
that Tuesday night.  Blair had locked himself in the bathroom for
nearly an hour to ‘process.'  Jim had cooked.  They ate and discussed
totally trivial subjects.  They had sat down on the couch and Blair had
very matter of factly explained why he had to kill that Immortal.  Jim
had explained in similar tones the offer Joe had made.  It seemed like
the right time.

They hadn't come to a decision yet.  But when they did, they would do
so together.

Joel had the cards, ready to deal.  With great focus, he lined up the
deck, halved and shuffled it, straightened it and shuffled again.
"Sandburg, one more question, then we'll let you get back to winning
our paypacks off us.  That guy, he said something.  Something that I
think made the decision for you."  He didn't have to elaborate what
decision that was.  "Why?"

Henri was staring at Joel.  "What?  Hey, cliff notes for us that have
boring lives, please!"

Blair's gaze did not leave Joel.  "He said that Immortals were better
than mortals.  He said that mortal's only use was to serve us, to be
our amusement.  He called us brothers."

"Yeah.  So?"

"Remember that sick fuck with the penchant for biological warfare?
That was his rhetoric too.  Anyone not his brother lived to serve him. 
Forget that at your peril."

"Sounds like a charming lad," Meagan commented drolly.

"Read the bible some time.  Book of Revelations.  Chapter six.  Section
four."  He took a swig from his own beer, not meeting any one's eyes.

This was a new story for Jim.  He stood up, ferreted through the
bookshelf for a minute, and came back with a copy of the King James
bible.  Flicking through the unfamiliar pages, he found the correct
section and read the short passage.  "And there went out another horse
that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace
from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was
given unto him a great sword... "  He looked up at his partners, his
face blank.

"Ho-ly shit," Meagan murmured as Joel discreetly crossed himself.

Blaer shrugged and pondered his cards idly.  "Needless to say, there's
been an unofficial zero tolerance policy amongst most Immortal's for
those of that...persuasion ever since."  He looked up and grinned, the
absence of his normal personality only made truly evident by its
equally sudden return.  "Fold or play."