"Conflict of Interest"
By DebC

Title: Conflict of Interest
Author: DebC
Rating: PG
Keywords: MW/HL crossover, AU
Archive: Only if you ask and I say yes
Disclaimers: Characters from the HL universe are not mine. Characters form the MW universe are not mine. Nothings mine. I'm used it by now, though; thanks for asking. ;-)
Summary: Miranda must stop Declan from investigating a mysterious beheading

Prologue

[Portland, OR Colby & Ryan Auto Body]

John Colby wiped his hands with an already greasy rag and reached for his coffee cup. "I'm taking a break," he said to his partner, who was still under the hood of the 1983 Ford. His partner made no reply, as he currently had a 3/16 wrench clenched between his teeth. John poured a fresh cup of coffee and stepped outside into the fresh air. He was taking his swallow when a beat-up truck pulled up in front of him. A hulk of a man stepped out, eying John.

"You the owner?" the stranger asked gruffly. John nodded. "How soon can you fix the transmission?"

"Leak?" John inquired. He was not happy with the man's tone of voice, but he sure as Hell wasn't going to do anything about it. The guy looked like he could pound John into the ground just by tapping him.

John looked the truck over briefly and told the man to follow him into the office. "We're booked up today," he said, looking at his appointment book. "But there's an opening first thing tomorrow morning, if you'd like to bring her back in then?" He paused, his pen hovering over slot where the stranger's truck could go. Looking up, he saw that the man was ignoring him totally and was staring at the door to the shop, his face wrinkled in a dark frown. "Sir?" he asked again, clearing his throat pointedly.

The man jerked back around to face him suddenly. "Tomorrow'd be fine," he said and strode from the office abruptly.

When the man was gone, John heaved a sigh of relief. When he was in the navy, he'd seen some pretty tough characters, but none of them had ever creeped him out this much before.

"Yo, John!" his partner called from inside the shop.

"Yeah?" John responded as he returned to the shop.

Richie Ryan slid out from under the Ford and stood up. "I thought I heard you talking to someone."

"Yeah," John said, shaking his head as if to clear it. "Some guy who wants us to look at his transmission tomorrow."

"Oh. You okay?" Richie asked. "You look pale."

"Must be the fumes," John covered weakly, referring to the fumes from the car they'd painted yesterday.

~*~*~*~

John was in the rest room when the gruff, hulking stranger showed up the next morning. He had no idea what had transpired in his absence, but judging from the way his partner of two years was bristling, it couldn't have been good. The stranger just threw his truck keys at Richie's head and said "I'll be back." He then hopped into the passenger seat of the SUV that had pulled up in the meantime. The SUV backed out, spinning gravel all over the place.

"What was that all about?" John asked as Richie picked the keys off the ground.

"Oh, nothing," Richie replied, staring at the cloud of dust in their parking lot. "I think Godzilla just got up on the wrong side of Tokyo is all." A grin quickly spread across his face.

John chuckled. Leave it to Richie, he thought, as he went to pull the truck into the shop. Now thoroughly occupied, he did not see the worried frown that suddenly reappeared on his friend's face.

~*~*~*~

It was almost dusk when Richie locked up the shop and got ready to leave for the night. He was alone, having convinced John to go home early. The truck they'd worked on still sat in the parking lot, it's keys secured in an envelope on the front seat. Richie was dreading the owner's return, and was beginning to think maybe he could get the heck out of there without a confrontation.

He strapped on his motorcycle helmet and hopped on his bike. The engine roared to life. So far, so good, he thought as he left the parking lot. Not that he was actually running away from a fight, he rationalized. The guy hadn't said he was coming back for his head; just that he was coming back. And he hadn't said when.

It would have made a good argument had it not been for the fact that, a half mile down the road, a very familiar SUV forced Richie's bike off the road. Two men got out, one of them lingering by the driver's side door, the other pulling a sword and stalking towards Richie. Then he turned and barked an order at his buddy, telling him to go back and get the truck.

"Hey, it's you!" Richie said, trying not to sound nervous. "Fancy meeting you here..."

"Shut up!" the Immortal snarled, still advancing.

"Look," Richie said, starting to reach for his own sword. "I'm not looking for any trouble."

"Too bad. Trouble's looking for you."

"I don't even know you!"

"The only thing you need to know about me, boy," the hulking Immortal said as he swung his sword menacingly through the air, "is that I'm the man who's going to take your head."

"Yeah," Richie quipped nervously "I've heard that one before, and from a lot better than the likes of you." He regretted it immediately, however, as his unwanted opponent lunged at him angrily.

The sound of metal upon metal rang through the night air as the two men dueled on the deserted stretch of highway. In a lucky blow, Richie knocked the sword from his attackers hand, then charged him, sending them both tumbling to the ground. Being quicker, Richie was first to feet and while the other Immortal struggled to stand, he raised his sword and swung. The man's head plopped to the ground by his own feet and Richie braced for the Quickening.

~*~*~*~

Larry Wales, a salesman headed to Portland on business turned off onto an empty road, realizing he was lost. He stopped his car, fumbling in the glove box for the road map. When he looked up, he realized with horror and amazement that the road was not abandoned. There in the darkness were two people, one kneel the other standing. Lightning like he'd never seen before whirled around them both, striking the one standing repeatedly. As Larry watched, unable to do anything but sit there with his mouth hanging open, the kneeling man fell to the ground. Then, to his shock, when the lightning subsided, the other man walked away, pulled a motorcycle out of the ditch, and drove off.

~*~*~*~