Suprise

Disclaimer: I don't own the concept, I don't own the lyrics, I don't own one of the characters, I don't mind claiming the narrator, but I'd like to disown Ryan Karkoff (you'll see why). I don't make any money out of this (I only wish I did - my bank manager might look a little more favourably towards me!) and no copyright infringements are intended.

This was written for the Watcher Lyric Wheel. It's not a songfic in the traditional sense: The rules of the lyric wheel are that you write a short story and it has to include at least one line from the lyrics you receive. So your story isn't necessarily inspired by the lyrics.

Rated PG-13 (implied violence and general murder of the English language)

The lyrics (supplied by Athena [*TOLD* you eg]) are by the Beautiful South and are included at the end.




Surprise

Looking down over the warehouse from a concealed catwalk is not the best way to view an Immortal duel. I decided that when I was just starting out as a rookie Watcher. Now here I am, fifteen years down the road - and guess what, I'm still doing it. For one thing, it means that should there be a quickening - and non-interference policy or not, I sincerely hope there will be (for reasons I will explain in a moment) - I'm in serious danger from falling debris. Still that bridge is one I'll cross if...when I come to it. Anyway, in this particular warehouse, the catwalk was about the only place in the warehouse where I could 'safely' observe this ritual.

'My' Immortal, Ryan Karkoff, is a true piece of work. He is devious, very dangerous and probably more than a little deranged. He sells drugs to kids and has a hundred other bad habits that would make you think I would have taken what I knew to the police long ago. Trouble is, what do you say? 'Oh, officer, there's this guy, who you can't kill unless you cut of his head...' You wouldn't get beyond that before they'd lock you up in the nearest padded cell.

I think that's a lot of the reason the Watcher creed is: Observe, record, never interfere. I mean - who's gonna believe you?

Normally, Karkoff avoids challenges. He prefers taking down mortals - they stay down. I have seen him fight before though - and he'd be good even without the dirty tricks. But tonight, I think he may have met his match. I hope he's met his match. Scum like Karkoff don't deserve to live and so many times I've been tempted to try and influence those rare challenges...but for some reason I stick to my oath, and a little piece of me dies each time he wins a challenge. I *know* all Immortals aren't like Karkoff - look at Duncan and Connor MacLeod for two. Boy am I envious of Joe and Skip for getting those two assignments. But I'm getting seriously hacked off Watching this guy.

Perhaps tonight will be the night I get reassigned.

The guy he's facing is... Well, I'm not sure. He looks about 22...maybe 23 at best. He's about six feet tall, white, fair skin, dark, close-cropped hair...and no Watcher. That normally indicates a new Immie. But this guy isn't a newbie. No way, no how - not the way he's handling his sword. This guy is *good*. Then of course, he's fighting Karkoff - anyone fighting him is OK by me.

From where I'm watching, I can see that Karkoff figured this guy was nothing when he issued the challenge. This mystery Immie is kitted up like a grad student - hell, he probably *is* a grad student at the moment for all I know - faded jeans, baggy sweater, worn hiking boots; the works. He didn't look threatening...in fact, if I'd been judging this, I'd have said he was an easy mark too. Guess it's just as well I'm a Watcher and not an Immie, otherwise I might be the one about to be shortened. Karkoff's impression's clearly changed now, though.

I can just about make out his facial expression - and it's one of confusion. I can see the thinks bubble from here: This isn't supposed to be happening! I can't help myself - I grin at the thought. Yeah, it's heartless - a human being is about to be killed here and I'm cheering his death. Trust me, if you knew Karkoff, you'd be doing the same.

The fighters are circling now, after the initial exchanges. Karkoff is already looking exhausted. His opponent has barely broken a sweat. He's saying something:

"...do it? Their time on this planet is short enough without scum like you shortening it further."

"She wanted the pleasure pills, *pal*," Karkoff spits back. "Not my problem if'n you can't satisfy the bitch..."

The other man gives a howl of anger and lunges. The howl alone would have had me diving for cover. It's a sound that, frankly, freezes my blood. Couple that to the deadly lunge and... Like I say, I'd make a lousy Immie.

Karkoff must have been expecting the move. He side steps and goes to draw his second blade - knowing that most Immies only carry one and expect everyone else to do the same. Not this guy, though. Even as he passes Karkoff, he's turning, to parry the second blade almost like he was expecting it!

"Like teacher, like student," he comments, enveloping the smaller blade and sending it flying off into the junk behind them.

"What would you know about my teacher?" Karkoff asks, uncertainty clear as they circle again.

The opponent gives a smile. "More than you, I'll bet."

"Koren was a great man."

"He was scum, kid."

"I'll have your head for that comment!" Karkoff howls.

"Not in the next life, and certainly not in this. No student of Koren's is good enough."

I'm gaping now. I guess Melvin Koren is pretty well known in Immortal circles - a piece of shit like him would be. He raped across the old west in the 1800s, ran with the revolutionaries of France in the1700s... There's more than likely a tonne of stuff he did that the Watchers don't know about. Suffice to say he was one evil S.O.B. And this guy clearly knows more about Koren...but he knows Karkoff was Koren's student. I wouldn't have thought *that* was common knowledge.

"And as for that move," he continues as they circle again, "*I* taught it to him."

22 going on at least 3000. Oh boy. How does this guy *not* have a Watcher? I have to shelve that line of thought, though, as I realise his words have had a profound affect on Karkoff. The arrogant little shit has paled and gulped.

"Y...your him!" Karkoff is backing away, and this other guy isn't letting him get away. Suddenly, I'm not so sure I want him to win - if he really taught Koren a trick or two, chances are he's just as bad if not worse... No. Wait. He called Koren scum. Maybe he's a good guy who made a mistake. I'm gonna cling to that thought.

"I am. And know this, when you decided to push your crap around here, you answer to me."

After all the circling and movement for position, the fight restarts, and it isn't long before the other Immie has Karkoff on his knees.

"For Lydia, for Erin, for Paul, for Ian, for Dina." The list of names rings a faint bell with me, but I have no chance to pursue the thought, as the other's sword severs Karkoff's head.

I hastily clamber backwards, even as the quickening starts. The last thing I want to do is get injured. Even as I'm heading to safety, I'm making mental notes about the quickening though. All hell might be breaking loose - lightning might be ripping through the shell of this warehouse and causing things to explode - but I'm a Watcher and we record the lives...and deaths of all Immortals. When I go home I will have to write up everything I've seen for Karkoff's closing report. What I actually want to do, though, is follow this other Immie - to hell with protocol and regs, he's more than 3000 years old and we don't have a guy on him.

But when the smoke clears after the quickening, he's already gone.

***********************************

Later that night, I'm writing the closing report for Karkoff's chronicle. As I'm writing, the mystery Immie's list of names springs back into my mind. I know I recognise it from somewhere, but where? Casting round the apartment for inspiration, my eyes fall on a week old copy of Le Monde. It's not something I'd normally have bought, but the front-page article is to be added into Karkoff's chronicle as well.

The French police were investigating a series of six or seven deaths related to Ecstasy. It's a potentially lethal drug anyway. When it's been deliberately doctored with powdered bleach and other nasties... The last victim, a Dina Martin, had been with friends when she had been given the tablet, and the friends were able to describe the donor to the police: Karkoff.

Dina was one of the names. Coincidence? I don't believe in them. Sure enough, as I look at the article again, the other names are the names of the other victims. Then comes the surprise; Dina Martin died in the arms of her boyfriend, Adam Pierson.

I know Adam Pierson - at least by reputation. Adam's a Watcher. A researcher based here in Paris. Could that be how the mystery Immortal knew about Karkoff? Adam in his grief told him? No. That doesn't make sense...and that other Immie was *definitely* doing it for personal reasons... Perhaps he was Lydia or Erin's boyfriend...or...

It's no good. My mind is going circular now. I'm too tired to be thinking about this kinda shit. I'll finish the report in the morning, hand it in...maybe I'll speak to Adam - put his mind at rest that Dina's killer's dead.

***********************************

The closing report's been handed in and I've been assigned to research while they cast around and see what's what. I don't mind. After ten years of fieldwork, I'm ready for the change.

I don't know what I'm doing here, though. I'm stood outside room 103. I've been told it's what passes for Adam Pierson's office. The men in suits upstairs have actually assigned me to work with Adam - can you believe it? - and have him as my mentor for this stint in research... But I don't start until tomorrow - they've given me the rest of the day off... Yet here I am, standing outside Adam's office. I guess I can't get last night's puzzle out of my head...and I feel like I owe it to Adam to tell him Karkoff's dead.

So I knock.

"It's open - come on in," calls a voice that seems naggingly familiar, but I can't place it. After a few seconds of trying, I give up and follow the instructions.

Pushing the door open, though, I'm not prepared for the sight that greets me.

"Karkoff's old Watcher, right?" Suddenly everything drops into place. The man before me - Adam Pierson - and the mystery Immortal of the previous evening...Koren's teacher...Karkoff's killer are one and the same person.

"You...you're...you..."

'Adam' gives me a sheepish smile. "I guess I have some explaining to do..."

************************************

Good as Gold (Stupid as Mud)
(Heaton/Rotheray)

Don't know what I'm doing here
I'll carry on regardless
Got enough money for one more beer
I'll carry on regardless

Good as gold, but stupid as mud
He'll carry on regardless
They'll bleed his heart til there's no more blood
But carry on regardless

Carry on with laugh
Carry on with cry
Carry on with brown under moonlit sky

Chorus
I want my love, my joy, my laugh, my smile, my needs
Not in the star signs
Or the palm that she reads
I want my sun-drenched windswept Ingrid Bergman kiss
Not in the next life
I want it in this

Got one note to last all week
I'll carry on regardless
The hill to happiness is far too steep
I'll carry on regardless

Dried his mouth in the Memphis sun
He carried on regardless
Tried to smile and he bit his tongue
But carry on regardless

Carry on with work
Carry on with love
Carry on with cheering
Anything above

Chorus

I don't want silver, I just want gold
Carry on regardless
Bronze is for the sick and old
But carry on regardless

Chorus