Disclaimer: Duncan, Joe and the Highlander universe belong to others. I'm just borrowing them.
Author's note: This story was inspired by other fan fiction stories speculating that watchers just may have greater roll in the lives of immortals then we were led to believe. I wrote it some time in the 90's when the show was sill on the air.
A blast of chilled air and a rustle of leaves wouldn't have normally caught Joe's attention, but since the bar really wasn't open yet and he wasn't expecting anybody, the visitor got Joe's undivided attention. He was tall, maybe in his late thirties, or early forties. His hair was short and neatly styled with a peppering of gray. A well trimmed goatee and mustache circled his mouth; the rest of his face was clean shaven.
The man casually let his long trench coat fall open as he stepped into the empty bar and approached Joe.
"Can I help you?" Joe asked in his best friendly bartender voice.
After glancing around the empty bar the stranger replied "Ahm, yes, I was looking for a Joe Dawson."
"Well, friend, you need look no further." Joe replied with a smile. "Cause you've found him."
"I am Vlad Dracum." the stranger replied, offering his hand.
The men exchanged a firm hand shake, then Joe prompted again, "How can I help you?"
Vlad looked around the room, as if ensuring they were alone. "An acquaintance of mine, one Duncan MacLeod, told me you may be able to help me."
Of course, Joe thought to himself, Mac had crossed paths with Dracum in the early 1800's. The chronicles weren't really precise from those times, but he did seem to remember they had parted as friends.
Joe nodded, "A good man, and a good friend. So how does he think I can help you?"
"I want off the list."
"I want off the list." Vlad repeated, leaning closer over the bar.
"What 'List'." Joe had no idea what the man was talking about.
"The Watcher List, I'm tired of being followed, spied on, every detail of my life chronicled for people I will never meet."
A knowing expression crossed Joe's face "Ah, that list. Why didn't you say so?" Joe grabbed his cane and swung himself around on his artificial legs. "Won't you join me in my office where we can talk about this in private?"
The stranger followed Joe into his business office behind the kitchen. Joe took his seat behind his desk and turned on the computer as he sat down. Vlad sat in an old wooden chair across from Dawson.
"Give me a moment." Joe apologized, as the computer went through its boot sequence.
After a few minutes, Joe began typing at the terminal leaving his guest to sit and wonder exactly what he was doing. Finally, he looked up "Ah, here it is, Vladamire Artimus Dracum." He then started reading the details, mumbling a few facts aloud to himself. "Let's see here,...born 1682, Romania, currently resides in Miami,....ok..mhm.."
As Joe continued to review Vlad's file, the immortal casually tried to lean forward to take a peak. But as he did, Joe just as casually adjusted the monitor so his guest couldn't see it.
Finally, Dawson looked up from the computer, "Before I sign you up for the Do Not Watch program, I would like to acquaint you with some of the services the Watchers bring to the table."
A genuine smile crossed Dawson's face. "The Watcher Organization provides a valuable service to all known immortals; we chronicle your lives, as accurately as possible..."
"That's what I want to stop." Vlad returned.
"But don't you want to be remembered for who and what you really are? People pay a lot of money to biographers to get their stories told properly, we do it for free."
"You follow me where ever I go. Most states have laws against it, it's called stalking!" Vlad argued. "Please, I just what my privacy."
"Okay, but you know there are other services available." Joe pressed.
"Other services? Yea, like what?" Vlad didn't try to hide his growing contempt.
"Oh, let's see." Joe paused as he changed the information on his screen. "There's insurance, clean up, a trace service and a few other services tailored for the active immortal."
Dracum shook his head, "What are you talking about, insurance? Clean up? ....."
"Wellll...." Joe began "You know how expensive a quickening can be if it happens on your property, like in or near your home or vehicle. We offer property damage insurance for the kind of incidents you could never really explain to a regular agency and based on how active you are in the game, the price can be very reasonable."
"Not at all, let's see," Joe scrolled through his files "you haven't been involved in a quickening in over seven years. That drops you into one of our lower risk categories." Joe wrote a figure on a pad in front of him and showed it to Vlad.
The immortal's eyes opened wider but he was able to control his jaw from dropping. "That's more then I pay for my home and car combined."
With a shrug, Joe pulled the tablet back. "There are other less comprehensive policies." He sat back in his chair "And other services. For instance, we have a clean up service, we'll clean up after a fight for you, and that can be based on incident, so many a year, or just a flat fee with unlimited clean up. Your friend, Mr. MacLeod, actually subscribes to our Platinum Plan that combines many of our best services. But of course all of this is only available to clients who do not choose to be on the DNW list"
"I can't believe I've never heard of this before."
"We like to cater to an elite clientele, many immortals would feel threatened by our existence. And many would not be willing or able to engage our other services."
"Please," Vlad pleaded again. "I just want my privacy."
Joe allowed a look of defeat cross his face. "That's fine. I can sign you up for the DNW program." He then started typing at his computer again. Finally he wrote a few figures on his notebook again. "I can get you on the DNW for just $5,000 a year, plus a small up front processing of fee...." he typed some more numbers into the system. "Your in luck, the market is a little soft right now. The processing fee is currently only $15,000."
"That's black mail!" Vlad proclaimed, nearly jumping out of his chair.
"You've got to look at it from our point of view; we are set up to watch you. We've got a watcher in place with housing and other sunk costs. Plus, we still need to keep track of you, so if your on the DNW, we have to do it passively, depending on reports from other immortals' watchers, tracking paper work and the like, it's all quite expensive."
The immortal grit his teeth. "Okay, but I had better never see hide or hair of your people again."
"You can count on it, we stick to our agreements." Joe then pressed a few keys on his computer and turned his monitor toward Vlad and offered his keyboard. "All I need from you is to authorized a $20,000 transfer from your back account and set up the automatic withdrawal for the following years." He also slid a legal document forward. "And this is just you agreeing that the yearly fee can be prorated and refunded if you ever decide some of our other services would suit you. However, the processing fee is nonrefundable, but it is a one time fee that you would not have to pay again if you choose to be placed back on the DNW list."
Vladamire scratched across the bottom of the one page document and entered the passwords needed to authorize the withdrawals. "Let this be the end of it." He snarled. Then got up and stormed out of the office, ignoring Joe's offer of a parting handshake.
The phone was quickly in Dawson's hand. "Yea, this is Dawson, Vladamire Dracum just signed up for the DNW program. Yes, that's right you can back off to your normal station for watching him." Joe hung up and turned back to the computer to make one final entry, Mac always got a bit annoyed if he didn't get his commission for referrals, even if it was just for a DNW.