Chapter 23

Written by Carycomic

SALEM WITCHES INSTITUTE

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

DEC. 11, 1998 (4:30 PM/EST)

"Are you sure?" asked Dr. Strange (trying to keep undue excitement out of his voice)

Nick Sutherland nodded. An ex-Chicago cop for Special Unit 2, one of his cases for them had forced him to work alongside Katherine Del Greco. An emergency room doctor, for Cook County General Hospital, who proved surprisingly unflappable in the face of the supernatural!

The two began dating, soon afterwards, and ultimately married. But, it was only after returning from their honeymoon that she revealed the truth about herself. Namely; that she was a Samothracian-born Immortal, whose knowledge of ancient healing arts had been refined under the tutelage of Cassandra Crescent Moon (among others)!

The two were now private investigators, specializing in the paranormal and extra-legal. And, recently, they had been hired by one Duncan Macleod (officially, a collector of rare antiques for the Bostonian chapter of the Luna Foundation) to find a long-missing person by the name of...Derek Grayson.

Macleod, who had been serving as Stephen Strange's bodyguard for almost two years, knew that Grayson was an international arms dealer. A line of work that _must_ put him into occasional contact with at least one chapter of the Order of Teraka. And, if Grayson would not tell him how to make that contact voluntarily, Macleod would absorb the information via the former's Quickening. After which, he would nullify the contract on Dr. Strange...by putting out a contract on Heinrich Nest (alias "the Master of Sunnydale").

Yet, no sooner had they gotten back to their office, after giving their client Grayson's whereabouts, than Kate was telepathically contacted by fellow Immortal-and S.H.I.E.L.D. esper-John Garrick.

The latter informed Kate that the Master had already met his Final Death at the hands (or, rather, the jaws) of Mayor Wilkins. Which meant that the contract on Dr. Strange no longer existed!

Unfortunately, when she tried to cell phone this startling development to Macleod, it was too late. His flight to Europe had already departed from Logan International Airport. So, Kate and Nick promptly drove to Boston House, where acting Precept Kristin Adams gave them a portkey tuned to SWI. More specifically; the office of a certain Visiting Professor of Muggle Studies.

"There's no reason for Macleod to go after Grayson's head, now," continued Nick: "So, blink/twitch/whatever it is you have to do to get to him, and tell him so!"

Dr. Strange half-smiled: "I think a little astral projection should be sufficient. What's his flight number, again?"

"Pan-National Flight 457," replied Kate.

A moment later, Dr. Strange had assumed a yoga lotus position on the floor of his office. So as not to disturb his meditative trance, the husband-and-wife team continued conversing in whispers.

"You think we'll get a bonus from this?" asked Nick.

Kate shrugged: "It couldn't hurt to ask. We certainly deserve one for having to deal with the likes of Benny Carbassa."

Before her spouse could top her snappy rejoinder, there came a bright flash of light simultaneous with a loud crackle (like that of tissue paper in a shoe box). When they could see again, Dr. Strange was flat on his back!

Immediately, Kate was kneeling to the right of him, administering CPR. After what seemed like an eternity (although, it was probably closer to three minutes), Dr. Strange sat up with a gasp.

"Stephen? Stephen! What happened?"

Dr. Strange shook his head: "I'm not entirely sure. I had almost caught up to the plane when -suddenly- I found my path blocked. By a shadowy figure in a dark gray hooded robe. And, when I tried to inquire who -or what- he was, he fired bolts of eldritch energy at me! The next thing I know, I'm back here."

Nick and Kate looked at each other as they chorused: "Oh, crap!"

The End?

Notes:

Cook County General Hospital: setting for the now-classic NBC medical drama, "ER."

Special Unit 2: a one-and-a-half season wonder that ran on the now-defunct United Paramount Network from April 2001 to Feb. 2002. It dealt with a fictional Chicago P.D. branch, of the same name, whose top-secret job was to protect the Windy City from supernatural evil while keeping the public blissfully ignorant.

Sutherland, Nick and Kate: the ultimate May/December couple. Introduced in the one episode of HIGHLANDER THE SERIES (Season 6), where the primary guest-stars played characters with seemingly no _direct_ connection to Duncan Macleod, whatsoever.