Paul Sloane sat behind his bankers desk and eyed the customers with the casual indifference that defined his job. The pale green walls and laminated wooden style floor made him sick to his stomach but after more than five years he thought he would have gotten used to it. His gaze wavered over the mother with the unruly child, the high school drop out and the businessman. A feeling of vertigo caused his vision to waver and his stomach to temporarily cramp. The feeling of another Immortal nearby. He focussed on the feeling as his eyes swept the bank before finally alighting on a nondescript man with his back to Paul who was busy filling out some bankers forms.

Paul quietly left his desk and walked over to the man and coughed politely

"Excuse me."

The man didn't turn around.

"My name is Marcus Benton. I suggest we go outside."

Paul swallowed to wet his throat which had suddenly become dry.

"You misunderstand. I don't want to fight you, I gave that up a century ago."

The man called Marcus turned to meet Paul's gaze.

"Well then, you should have picked a less public occupation. I'll be outside waiting. Here. You can process these forms to keep yourself busy."

Marcus walked away. Paul stood in the banks customer reception area holding a sheaf of papers. His heart hammering in his chest.

"DamnitI'malovernotafighter.",he thought to himself. He eyed the form.

It was a land deed application for some land outside the city. Marcus wanted to develop it into a wildlife preserve, he had some papers from local wildlife parks and zoos that were overcrowded giving permission to house their excess. Paul wiped his forehead.

"IguesswhileIambusydyingIcantellhimthatthereisnowaythisapplicationwillbegoingthrough.",he thought.


Paul turned around to see his manager beckoning him over. Taking a few deep breaths to calm himself, he strode over.

"Its lunch time Paul. When you come back can you cover for Becky?"

Paul nodded absently as he thought "IFIcomeback"

He walked quickly past the waiting customers, past the staff, depositing the papers in the managers 'in' pile for review on his way out to the staff exit and out to the alley immediately behind the bank. A cramping feeling swamped him just before the voice reached his ears

"its about time"

Paul turned to see Marcus directly behind with his sword nonchalantly slung over his left shoulder and grasped tightly in his right hand.

"I have no sword, you wouldn't kill an unarmed man?"

"it is the nature of the beast to seize opportunities."

Marcus began advancing, wildly swinging his sword, Paul backed away to give himself time to think.

"This isn't really a fair fight.

Marcus smiled grimly, "It seems fine to me"

A wild slash across Paul's stomach had him on the ground hunched over in pain.

Marcus smiled. "There can be only one."

The drop of his sword was inch perfect as it headed towards the back of Paul's neck. He raised his right arm and the sword blow was parried with a metallic sound. The flick of his right wrist slid the throwing knife into his palm. He threw it directly into Marcus' left eye. Marcus dropped his sword and screamed like a banshee as his hands flew to his face. Paul picked up the sword and broke it over his knee.

"You idiot! I gave up fighting centuries ago that doesn't mean I gave up defending myself"

Marcus was screaming incoherently as he pulled the blade from his eye socket and then collapsed unconscious from the pain.

Paul thought back to his mentor, a Roman scholar who called himself 'Jinx', Paul never learned his real name. he advocated loving over fighting, but he was a skilled combatant who had lived for at least a thousand years. Paul loved that old man although he only looked about forty or fifty. He was killed in his sleep, drugged and helpless when the immortal took his head. Paul had come back from his survival training that day in the woods and felt the resonance of the Quickening as he approached their camp. He ran the last mile to find Jinx's body still lying in his sleeping bag, his head still looking content and blissful in sleep. . Paul swore the next head he took would be Jinx's assassin and he had kept that vow for the last hundred years. Making himself a public target hadn't helped, Detective work hadn't helped, how do you track down one immortal out of the immense population and what if the immortal had lost his head already?

Paul sighed and left the alley and the sword, as well as the man, in pieces