Disclaimer: All recognizable characters and what not belong to Joss Whedon, Panzer/Davis, Chris Carter, Gene Roddenberry, WB, YTV, Mutant Enemy Inc., Rysher, FOX, 1013, and Paramount. You get to figure out who owns which, though. :)
Author's Notes: This was written in the hiatus between second and third season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. A lot of what happened in "Becoming" coincides with my tale except for a few minor details, mostly from Part Two. Think of this as sort of a parallel reality where things ended much differently. This means that there are STRONG SPOILERS for "Becoming I and II" however. Beware.
Special thanks to my friends, who volunteered the undertaking of beta-reading this mess for me: Red Wolf an indispensable presence/resource, Stepford my observant grammar sentinel, Sammie and Diana who brought two interesting viewpoints, and The Tart who kept distracting me with weird jokes.
Starship U.S.S. Enterprise 2370
Walking through the artificially illuminated halls of the Federation Flagship, Buffy could only marvel at where she found herself today. Four hundred years ago she would never have dreamed something like this possible. Hell, four hundred years ago she would never even have dared imagine what could happen in the next week, she thought smiling to herself.
Turning the corner and entering a turbolift, she instructed it to take her to Holodeck 3. Angel was waiting for her, they were going on a nice, romantic horseback ride. She nearly laughed remembering her first time on horseback. It had been a veritable disaster as far as she was concerned, and she'd been loathe to go near one of the wretched beasts again for fear she'd kill it. (Horses, even holographic ones, were amazingly terrified of vampires.) But Angel, the master horseman, had gradually coaxed her onto the back of his own steed. With her arms wrapped tightly around his waist, his body not even a hair's breadth from hers, she'd found herself not minding the slow rolling gate of the animal under them as much as she'd thought. Ever since then, they'd made it a habit of going out to the woods every once in a while. Both of them riding together snugly on the back of one horse, giving them the kind of sweet quality time together they were so short on these days. This time they were going out to have a picnic on a Roplian Hillside some special friends had discovered and replicated for them.
As she'd expected, Angel was standing there to greet her as the doors slid open. He slipped his arm around her shoulders, guiding her away from the turbolift as he filled her in on what had transpired that afternoon in Ten Forward. "It was classic, Buffy. Wes shoulda been there, he'd have loved it," Angel said jovially. She smiled in return. In the intervening years of peace that had surrounded them in space, Angel had blossomed into the guilt-free man she walked with now. It had taken him awhile, but with her by his side, he'd come to accept his past crimes and deal with it. He still had his brooding moments, but they were rare for which Buffy was extremely grateful.
Angel kept talking, oblivious to her wandering thoughts. "Pete was quietly sipping his drink, minding his own business, when Caffnee came over and slapped him on the back. Johnson choked on the synthahol a bit, but managed to regain his composure without overly embarrassing himself. So, Caffnee, completely oblivious to what he'd just done as always sits across from him and begins to rattle on as he waits for his order." Ensign Roger Caffnee was known as a talkative gossip to almost everyone on board. Sometimes his information was worth listening to, in which case you could always trust he'd be quick to tell it, but most of the time he just talked because he liked the sound of his own voice. Officers everywhere usually found themselves needing to be somewhere else when they saw him coming.
Already feeling sympathy for poor Pete Johnson, a casual friend, Buffy was almost too scared to ask what happened. She knew Pete wouldn't sit there passively while Caffnee droned on nonstop, but she also knew he wouldn't try and make up some quick excuse to get out of there without getting retribution for almost being choked on his drink. Johnson was a practical kind of guy, a practical joker that is. You never knew what he might have up his sleeve. Once, he'd even gotten her! They'd had some Klingon dignitaries on board and to celebrate the occasion, Johnson had given her a bloodpie. The trick was, he'd filled it with real blood! Boy, had he'd been surprised when she actually ate it! She smiled, she'd really thrown him for a ringer.
Catching her smile, and noticing she wasn't listening to him by the far-off look in her eyes, Angel stopped talking while he waited for her to come back from wherever she was. She wasn't long in realizing the sudden silence that had befallen them, and quickly looked up at him with an apologetic grin. "Sorry. You were saying...?" she prompted. With her attention back on him, he continued to regale his story of how Johnson had gotten his revenge on simpleminded Caffnee. They both ended up laughing all the way to the Holodeck.
Laying against her companion's chest on the grassy holographic hillside overlooking a beautiful waterfall and stream, Buffy was close to falling asleep. She hadn't eaten since breakfast, and that didn't help, but she knew it was the atmosphere of the place (and the company she was with) that brought about such a sense of tranquility.
A glass filled with a rich, dark red liquid suddenly appeared before her. "Drink, my love. Knowing you, you haven't stopped to eat since this morning. You're much too pale, Buffy. Drink, get some color back into those soft cheeks of yours." As if to confirm, he kissed her cheek lavishly before settling back onto the blanket. Taking the goblet from his hands, she drew a long sip of the warm life-giving fluid within. Purring slightly as the thick blood coated her throat and sent waves of energy flowing into every part of her body.
This was one of the things she liked most about replicators, they were able to get vast amounts of blood quickly and easily without causing harm to any living soul to survive their undeath. There were times when she still shuddered at the memory of her first few days as a vampire, and the havoc she and her sire had caused.
Sunnydale, California 1998
A chilling scream ripped through the air, only to fall on deaf ears. The child was trapped, cornered into an alley with no way out. The two... creatures... chasing him paused at the entry. A sickening laugh rising in the throat of the tall male as his smaller female companion grinned maliciously at him. "It's alright, little one, we won't hurt you." She spoke in a teasingly sweet voice, but Tony caught the muttered "Much" she said under her breath as she drew nearer to his frightened form. He was no fool, his momma had warned him about the dangers of being out at night in this town, he knew he would surely die. Just like Clarissa and Tamara had before him. A lot of people were dying as of late. Murdered, mysteriously. Probably at the hands of these two, he thought, terrified, as it occurred to him he was more than likely about to discover what was behind the mystery of his friends' deaths.
The next morning, Willow and Oz came rushing into the school library to find Giles, Xander and Cordelia already there. Due to the recent rash of murders, they'd all been working overtime trying to stop the vampires' killing spree. Even Cordy pitched in, but it wasn't making a difference. Without a Slayer to fight the demons, the influx of attacked victims just kept rising. Soon there wouldn't be anybody left alive in the entire town.
She sighed involuntarily, Kendra's death had been a blow to them all. But at least she'd never known what Buffy was to become. The other Slayer had been killed by Drusilla just because the mad vampiress could. Kendra had thankfully been spared the pain of knowing of her friend's crossing-over when she'd died.
"Another dead body was found last night," Willow announced as her boyfriend rolled her wheelchair in front of her computer, her fingers then quickly pulling up the information. "A little boy, this time. Seven years old. Two puncture marks on his neck, drained of all his blood. It says here that the police have finally decided they need help dealing with this and have called in a couple FBI Agents they think might be able to solve the case."
"Oh yeah, that'll happen. What are they gonna do, interrogate the vampires?" asked Xander with his usual sarcastic wit, although tinged with the desperate nervousness that seemed to haunt them all these days.
Rupert Giles, an expert at ignoring Xander's babble, turned his attention to the Federal Agents being brought in. "Willow, might you perhaps find some information on these two FBI fellows so we can get an idea on what else we're going to have to deal with? We hardly need this extra complication."
But before he could even fully turn his gaze toward the girl spoken to, a triumphant yelp came from the computer genius as she managed to hack through the security codes guarding the FBI Database. "Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Work for something called the X-Files. Hmm..." she drifted off as she read. A quick nudge from Xander got her talking again. "They investigate strange cases, paranormal stuff, alien abductions, and that kinda thing. I'm pulling up their personal bios now. Wow! This Mulder guy seems really smart! He's an Oxford graduate of Psychology, he has commendations out to yin-yang, and is regarded as the best psychoanalyst profiler in the entire bureau. Says here, his profiles were so uncannily accurate that the Violent Crimes Section he originally worked in nicknamed him 'Spooky'."
"Hmpf! Sounds like he'd fit in perfectly around here," muttered a distracted Cordelia as she continued to examine her manicure. She was all but ignored.
"What's up, G-man?" Giles had a strange look on his face, like that of someone recalling a distant memory.
"Hmm? Oh, yes, that name... Mulder? It's familiar." His eyes glazed over slightly as he remembered a conversation from a time long in his past.
London, England 1985
He sat waiting in a dingy booth near the far wall of the pub they always chose to meet at whenever Adam was back in town. He was not long in waiting before the door pushed open to reveal the clean-cut perpetually young-looking Oxford man who was his friend. Adam quickly made his way over to their regular table, expecting and pleased to see Rupert there already.
The two old friends embraced quickly before grabbing a couple of ales and sitting down to talk and catch up on each other's lives. The Londoner once again marveling at his friend's irrational preference for cheap beer over anything else.
"Say Rip," Adam addressed him, the casual use of the old hardly-ever-used nickname causing Rupert to cringe as he always did when reminded of his troublesome youth, "have I told you about The Legend, yet?" he asked as he finished off his fifth beer. Neither man was drunk, but they'd been drinking enough to cause a change of topic from polite, nonsense chitchat to current racier topics. In taking a break from discussing the merits of London women versus Oxford women, Adam managed to bring up a topic that would forever be remembered by his old friend, Rupert.
"Everyone still talks about this guy who graduated two years ago with some of the highest honors the school's ever known. Students are angry cause the professors still compare their stuff with his, and they always fall short. Those students who remember this guy have all sorts of weird stories about him. Dr. Lily Stowe... you remember Lil'...? anyway, she told me the other day while we were celebrating her new grant award that this protιgι student had some kind of horrible and sad past that'd left him very lonely, which made her feel bad 'cause the resident bitch at the time had laid her hands on him just because he happened to be good-looking."
He paused only to take a large gulp of his freshly refilled mug before diving back into his story. Rupert merely shook his head, Adam had an eerie knack for making even the simplest of tales drawn out. He'd always had the searing suspicion that his friend did it deliberately, though for what purpose was still lost to him.
"So, this guy, Mulder, or something you know he wouldn't let anyone call him by his first name? Weird, huh...?" It had taken Adam nearly two hours to finish off a story most could have told in half-an-hour. But, Rupert was used to listening to his friend's long-winded version of events and had learned to pick out what was important and what wasn't.
It was a good thing too, because unbeknownst to either man at the time, that knowledge would prove vital in the difficult times of the future.
Route 51 Heading into Sunnydale, California 1998
"Mulder, you're crazy." She didn't bother looking over at her partner as he reread the police report yet again. He'd immediately suggested upon reading the file that it was the work of vampires, and hadn't budged an inch in that assessment since. Scully had taken it upon herself to routinely remind him he was insane as she drove into Sunnydale from the airport.
This case had come as a welcome break from long hours of mind-numbing paperwork. No thanks to whoever burned their office and every X-File in it to ashes, she remembered angrily. And she had found herself glad of the chance to get some actual work done. Sitting around in a cramped office with a bored Fox Mulder for any period of time was a dangerous mixture. She couldn't count how many times she'd wanted to hit him over the past few days. They really needed this case to work off that pent-up energy.
"Yeah, maybe... but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. This Sunnydale, it has a history of odd X-File worthy occurrences. And it's not just because it's in California." Although, he silently reminded himself, California was proving to be a hot-spot for vampires. He quickly shook off thoughts of Kristen Kilar and the Holy Trinity. He was sure it wasn't the same group, and he'd worked hard since Scully's return to make up for and forget that entire case. He still felt as if he'd betrayed Scully during that time, he didn't like dwelling on it.
He mentally chastised himself for letting his thoughts wander as far as they did. "In my research of the town itself, there's been repeated mention of it being called 'Boca Del Infernio'."
Scully, who had some understanding of Spanish from her navy-brat childhood, looked at him at that. "'Mouth of Hell', Mulder?" He just nodded in confirmation, his nose still buried in the file he must have memorized by now. Scully recognized the determined, focused attitude he was carrying. He was intent on this case and wouldn't be easily derailed. She might as well go along for the ride to keep him out of the trouble he always seems to find himself in, she decided. Studying his face marred by concentration lines she realized there was no point talking to him anymore. He'd gone into 'Spooky' mode. The rest of the drive passed in companionable silence.
Damned Hellmouth, I knew things were gonna get out of control. City Hall will have my ass if those two Feds expose anything. Principal Snyder stalked down Sunnydale High School's halls, students scurrying out of the way like rats when they saw him coming. He'd been warned by his contacts on the police force that a couple of very tenacious FBI Agents were coming to investigate the recent rash of deaths. This meant trouble for him. It was his job to keep the citizens of Sunnydale from knowing what went on around them, and he was responsible to the mayor if he failed...
Sunnydale High Library
"Um... Cordelia, could you pass me that book over there?" Giles pointed toward a stack of at least six ancient tomes.
The beautiful brunette looked at him in annoyance, before surrendering and fetching the text the Watcher had requested. Although it was still her instinctive habit to balk at anything the group surrounding her said, she'd learned to curb that nature in their current crisis. Besides, while she wouldn't admit it even now to anybody else, she liked Buffy and she wanted to help.
Accepting the old leather-bound volume with a distracted "Hmm," Giles went back to his work without so much as a thank you. Cordelia sighed, and returned to her chair next to Xander. There was no point bothering over niceties these days. They all knew their roles in the tedious work.
They were trying to save the world. Again.
Unknown Location 1998
"Hey, Angel?" Buffy purred as she snuggled closer to her sire, getting only a contented but sleep-laden moan in response. Perfectly comfortable with waking her lover up in more inventive ways, she leaned in to kiss him, tasting his sweet blood as she softly bit his lip.
He groaned in acknowledgment, both from her tender ministrations and the unpleasantness of being awakened before sunset. As his eyes opened in the dark room, which made little difference considering his enhanced night-vision, Buffy smiled enchantingly at him.
"Would you mind if I went home tonight, love? My Mom is supposed to be having an old family friend come over, and I'd really like to say hello." She smiled maliciously, her eyes glinting with a red-gold tinge indicative of the less-than-friendly intent in her request.
Angel clearly picked up on her unspoken meaning, and grinned broadly in return at such a delicious thought. "Would you like me to come with you, or would you rather have this reunion on your own?" He was quite comfortable with letting her have her fun alone, knowing full well that her heart was as evil as his own and she was just as capable of defending herself.
His position and status in the vampire community had been weakened due to that blasted Gypsy curse turning him soft for almost a hundred years, but now that he was back and more importantly, had been the one to take down the Slayer, although in a rather unorthodox manner his status had been elevated even higher than it was when he'd served the Master. Some even considered Angelus to be their new King, bowing down before him as they had to the Master. He still had to contend with a small number of older vampires angered that he'd not killed the Slayer outright, a small group trying to unseat him with remarks about his continued love for Buffy out of jealousy of his and his new Queen's power, but he had little fear of them. He was already acknowledged as one of the best fighters amongst them, and Buffy's experiences as the Slayer made her naturally well equipped to take on any foe.
Besides, he thought malevolently, the only ones who might have been able to beat them had fled the country before the end (or was that the beginning?) had even started. The traitorous Spike had conspired with little Slayer Buffy to kill him, allowing the Slayer safe entrance into his territory and bashing him over the head to stall. If Buffy hadn't engaged him in a fight right away, he'd probably have ripped Spike to shreds right then and there. As it was, while he fought sword to sword with the Slayer trying to bide his time while waiting for the demon Acathla to awaken Spike had grabbed Drusilla and dragged her out of there. His end of the deal to get them both out of the country already in effect.
Spike had left thinking that one or the other of them would die that day, an appropriate enough assumption considering the deadly battle of blades they were locked in. But he hadn't counted on Angel's tenacity, neither had Buffy and that had been her undoing.
It had never been Angelus' plan to kill Buffy, privately he wondered if he even could. There had always been a passionate magnetism drawing them together, and having loved her in every way possible it was just solidified. Even returned to his previous state of sinister fiendishness, he still wanted her. She was his ideal mate, if she just wasn't the damned Slayer. And the easiest solution to that little problem? Simplicity in itself: make her a vampire.
And oddly enough, the circumstances had presented themselves ideally for that right in the middle of their fight.
FLASHBACK Several Days Previous
Their swords clashed viciously against each other, the clang of metal grating on metal the only sounds in the empty mansion. She thrust savagely toward his blackened heart, the force of her entire Slayer strength propelling the blow, causing him to stumble back a step as he hurriedly worked to bring the sword he'd pulled out of Acathla around to parry her.
Matched in strength and will, the two ex-lovers danced around the atrium in a deadly battle of parries and thrusts, with only a slowly awakening demon as spectator. Until the tide began to shift as Angelus aggressively upped his attack.
Buffy spins around, intending to add the momentum of her turn to her next blow, but Angelus blocks her efficiently. His blade catching on hers and sending it to fall against one of the many flower beds. Without giving her a chance to raise the weapon again, Angel slams his foot down on it. Knocking it out of her grip, he uses the momentary disorientation to swing around and land an elbow hard into her face. The force of the blow stealing her balance until she stumbles back into a stone table and falls, bringing the table down with her.
Crawling back against the wall, the now defenseless Slayer watches helplessly as her opponent casually closes in on her, sword idly pointed at her as he revels in his imminent victory. Taunting her till the last.
"Now that's everything, huh? No weapons... No friends... No hope." Even his tone of voice, so casual and confident yet laced with icy pleasure, meant to unnerve her. He gets to watch in triumph as his greatest nemesis closes her eyes in resignation for the final blow of death to come.
"Take all that away... and what's left?" He continues to taunt, enjoying the heady sensation of victory close at hand as he pulls back to finally end it with one quick, deep thrust of his blade. Until, with lightening quick reflexes, her hands come up to trap the sharpened steel between her palms. Her eyes open and her gaze calmly meets his own. Her answer to his challenge falling naturally off her lips as she refuses to die, all signified in her one simple response: "Me."
Renewed, the deceptively innocent girl shoves his blade away. Jumping to her feet, she lands a powerful kick on him before he has a chance to recover. Retrieving her sword, she quickly follows up with a series of lethal strokes. Angelus barely managing to block her at each swing. She advances, driving him backwards, closer to the ever awakening demon with each step.
Being forced backwards, he nearly trips, catching his balance only at the last moment. But it was enough. Skills trained and honed by both practice and natural instinct, the minute opening in his guard does not go unnoticed. Acting swiftly, Buffy's blade swipes deeply into his chest, her momentum and his reactive recoil carrying the now bloodied blade past the wounded vampire and directly into the stone heart of the still semi-awake Acathla.
An explosion of blazingly bright light puts a temporary stall on their fight as each tries to instinctively shield their eyes, bringing bruised arms up to cover their faces even as they step back. However, as quickly as it appeared, the light disappears. Leaving the two combatants to stare in shock at the now fully-embedded sword piercing the silent, and dormant, stone demon's heart.
Stunned out of action for precious moments, Buffy barely registers movement along her peripheral vision before Angelus pounces on her. Although his sensitive vampirical sight was blinded by the bright flash of light which illuminated the room, centuries' worth of experience and pure animal instinct dictated his actions.
He lunges for her, his arms unerringly finding their mark in restraining her hands even as his teeth sink straight into the soft flesh of his lover's pristine throat, inexplicably finding her jugular vein precisely. Buffy's struggles slowly ebb away as her rich, thick, and intoxicatingly powerful Slayer's blood flows into Angelus' mouth and down his throat.
He nearly lost himself in savoring the richness inherent only in the perfection of a Slayer's lifeblood, drinking deeply in an effort to satiate his need. Only as his hunger was slowly fed and began to die away, freeing his mind from the numbing bliss her blood induced, did he by force of will alone manage to break free of his hold on her throat.
Fighting back his demonic desire to drain her to death, Angel fiercely reopens a bloody gash along his forearm instead. With tightly controlled motions, he carefully positions his steadily bleeding arm over Buffy's pale face. Watching with gratification as his vampire's blood drips down into her mouth, still open in a silent scream, and her body swallows reflexively.
Back in the Present 1998
Angel smiled pleasantly as he recalled how he'd lain there on the floor cradling Buffy's body as hers changed and his own healed. His wounds, normally enough to require a week or more to fully heal, had closed during the day as he waited the singular strength of a Slayer's blood accelerating his recuperation even faster than normal.
Her being the Slayer was also the probable reason why she awoke just after nightfall. Normally, it takes a full day or longer for the crossing over to occur completely. But his Queen's eyes had opened shortly after sunset.
She'd turned in his arms, her face already showing the new curves of a vampire in demonic visage, as she'd sensually run her tongue across the new points of her elongated canine teeth. Her response to realizing what he'd done had been immediate. The glimmer in her eyes glowing brightly as she smiled wickedly. And before he'd known it, she'd wrapped her hands around the back of his head and viciously pulled his mouth down to hers.
The kiss had been brutal, would have been bruising had they been weak humans, but Angel had gloried in it. Finally, after months of aggravation, he had her. She was his now, and she knew it. His world was finally beginning to go the way he wanted it to.
Angel remembered pulling away from the deep kiss, with a tremendous amount of effort, and smiling down at his new mate. She'd licked her lips and grinned back. "Can we go feed now, my love?" she'd asked innocently. "I'm hungry."
His only thought that night as he'd taken her out for her first hunt, watching proudly as she successfully dropped two burly men on her own and pleasantly asked him if he'd like to share, had been how incredible she was. She was gorgeous, even vamped out. A stunning vision surrounded by a halo of golden hair, calmly clamping her fangs down into her victim's neck as if it were the most natural thing in the world. She'd needed no teaching, no instruction on what it entailed to be a vampire, her knowledge while she'd been Slayer guiding her by a will of its own.
And she was devotedly his, which was patently obvious. They'd killed seven people that night, with only the first few being for food, the others going down for the sheer pleasure of the kill. And through it all, after each lifeless body dropped to the ground at their feet, she'd bounded over to him for a passionate kiss.
She'd claimed she'd never felt so free, so ironically alive as she did now that she was a member of the undead. And when they'd had their fill for the night, they'd returned home. Not to her house or even to the mansion, but to his mostly vacant loft to spend the rest of the night and next day lounging in one another's arms between bouts of lovemaking.
Buffy shifted in his arms, trying to draw herself up so she could get ready to go out and play. He loosened his grip on her, but the smile never left his face. The days and nights since he'd made her a vampire had been the best in his two and a half centuries. He'd never once regretted not killing her, and he was even comfortable with reburying the dormant Acathla as she'd asked. Buffy had told him that it was his blood which had awakened Acathla, and thus only his blood which could be used to return the demon to its endless sleep. Therefore explaining what had happened during their fight on that unforgettable day when she'd become his for eternity.
He'd looked at the silent stone demon, and then back at Buffy. Willing to heed her suggestion on what he should do with the thing now that he knew how to control it. Buffy had walked over to it, reached a reverent hand out to touch it softly, then whirled back around to him before she did. "Bury it," she'd said with a shrug. "I like this world now, I wanna have some fun in it before it all goes to Hell anyway."
And so he had. And they'd been terrorizing the people of Sunnydale together ever since. It hadn't even taken long for the other cowardly vampires still in town to return to his fold, most accepting his Queen with little opposition. Especially, he remembered with a smirk, after she'd dusted one who'd had the audacity to say something inappropriate to her though he'd never known what. Life, or Undeath as it was, had been good to him since that fateful night when he'd sired her into a vampire. No, he definitely couldn't regret his decision indeed.
"Come on, Angel. Out of bed, already!" Buffy admonished, pulling her lover out of his thoughts and back to her. "We've got places to go, people to kill... Get a move on!" Backing up her words, the former Slayer gripped the bed sheet tightly and ripped it off her sire, exposing his form to her appreciative gaze.
Suppressing a giggle as he growled at her, she let her eyes drink in the sight of him. His body would always be a masterpiece to her. Lean and muscular, strong and soft combined. Every inch of him finely chiseled to perfection. A growl of her own rumbled softly in her throat at she raked her eyes over his chest. She had to turn away quickly before she forgot her plans for the night and jumped him right then and there.
Heading determinedly over to the bathroom instead, Buffy called over her shoulder. "If you can get your lazy butt out of bed, Angel, you can join me in the shower." She turned and flashed him a mischievous grin before disappearing behind the bathroom door.
Angel didn't hesitate. In an instant, he was up and across the room with all the swiftness of his enhanced vampirical speed.
Joyce Summers' Home That Night
The taxi pulled up in front of a friendly looking house in a friendly looking neighborhood. Duncan nearly laughed at the sight displayed before him, it was so utterly cliche. And therefore completely expected when associated with Joyce Summers.
It had been nearly a decade since he'd seen the woman, although he'd kept in touch every now and then. So he knew about her divorce from her husband and the troubles she'd been having with little Buffy. Who, he had to remind himself, wasn't so little anymore. Buffy would be a teenager by now, 17 years old at that. Almost a woman, and at the perfect age for getting into trouble.
Just like Richie, he thought dejectedly. His mood suddenly dampening when he remembers his now dead young protιgι. No matter how many times he told himself that his brazen young student's death wasn't his fault, no matter how often Joe or Amanda and even Methos pounded that fact into his head, his heart still felt the guilt and blame for the 22-year-old Immortal's death. Arihman may have been the cause, but it had been his arm and his blade which had done the deed. He still shied away from touching his Katana, preferring to leave the sword locked up amongst his luggage rather than facing the images of Richie's decapitated head rolling off his shoulders and onto the floor that the weapon kept inspiring every time he looked at it.
After the incident, he'd just dropped the Japanese sword and fled. He'd run off to hide in Tibet, leaving his friends to deal with the mess he'd left behind. He'd stayed hidden out there on Holy Ground for over a year, using kata and meditation rites in an attempt to clear his mind and grant himself serenity again. The demon had thankfully stayed away during that time, although his reclusion from Paris had meant he'd missed Richie's funeral.
Not that he deserved to go, mind you. After all, semantics aside, he'd been the one to kill the boy hadn't he? Mac had tried to convince himself that it was the demon's fault, but he'd found that harder and harder to do when it was apparent that he was the only one who could see Arihman. Then, of course, all that changed.
When the Evil had started to turn onto his friends, Duncan had been forced to the final confrontation. He'd won. And yet it still didn't relieve the pain he felt when he thought of Richie. Or when he held his sword, once a proud extension of his arm an Immortal's best friend now merely a reminder of his frailties.
Joe. Honest and lovable Joe Dawson, his ever faithful Watcher and Friend who'd refused Arihman's gift of returning the old blues man's legs had kept and tended to the sword for his assignment's sake. So that when MacLeod had finally re-emerged from wherever he'd disappeared to, Joe had been able to return the weapon to its rightful owner.
Dawson had pleaded with MacLeod to retake his blade, but the Highlander couldn't bring himself to carry the lifesaving (and life-taking) weapon with him. Instead, he'd secreted it away in a chest and carried a harmless but defensive wooden quarterstaff around with him to be used in case he ever ran across another Immortal out for his head.
He'd been lucky in Paris, having only run into a few Immortals all of which were friends or became friends but he couldn't trust in that same luck now that he was back in the United States. Amanda had basically threatened him with death by her own hand if he didn't get over his fears, shouting at him, "You pick up that damned sword of yours, Duncan, or I'll behead your stupid ass myself!"
Methos hadn't been quite so polite. The eldest Immortal had just shown up on his barge one day and without even saying hello, had drawn his Ivanhoe and had the sharpened steel of the blade against the Scot's throat in seconds. "Don't get yourself killed, MacLeod. Carry your bloody sword and be safe." And with that, the Old Man had turned and left, his sword disappearing into the folds of his coat in the blink of an eye. Leaving a stunned Highlander to watch him leave with wide eyes.
But the message had gotten across. He'd swallowed his fears, and packed his sword in along with his clothes. Now wherever he went, the Katana went. Mac just continued to pray he'd never have to use it.
The front door to the house opened just as the Taxi pulled away. Joyce stood in the entrance, silhouetted by light from inside. "Duncan!" She exclaimed, a grateful smile cracking the sadness which had been permanently plastered on her face ever since her daughter had disappeared. "I'm so glad you could come. I could really use the company."
Her voice had drifted off and caught on the last word, the days of grief beginning to catch up to her again. Mac quickly walked up to her, wrapping her now shaking form solidly in his embrace as he tried to comfort her. Although desperately in need of a good cry, Joyce recognized that her front stoop wasn't the best place for it and the hostess in her took over. She straightened up, refusing to let the few tears that hadn't yet rolled down her cheek fall, and ushered her guest into the house.
As she prepared coffee for her new houseguest, Joyce struggled to regain some control on her emotions. She'd heard about Duncan's loss of the boy he'd practically adopted, and she didn't feel it would be fair to him to pour out all her problems on the poor man. His almost-son had been killed, her daughter had just run away.
Still, she knew she needed to talk to someone. And right now, especially since her ex-husband was out of the country, Duncan was the best person for the job. Joyce still hadn't been able to reconcile what her daughter had told her that night that she'd left. None of it, not Slayers or vampires or fighting to save the world or destiny made any sense to her. Duncan was a smart man, maybe he could put her mind at ease, she hoped.
"How are you holding up, Joyce?" Duncan asked her as soon as she came into the living room, a tray of coffee and snacks balanced precariously on her arm.
She almost screamed at being asked that same question yet again. Had he been anyone else, she thought, she just may have done so. But he was her friend, and more importantly, seemed to be able to understand more than anyone how much this hurt her. So she answered him truthfully, unwilling to try to keep up appearances anymore.
"Not good, I'm afraid." A sigh escaped her lips as she settled down beside him. "Oh Duncan, I'm going out of my mind! I'm so worried about her. Buffy has been getting into trouble a lot lately, and then that whole problem with the police... And the things she told me just before she left! My word, Duncan, you'd never believe half of what she talked about."
She paused as she shook her head, trying to organize her thoughts into some semblance of order so she could explain it to Duncan. Who was sitting right next to her, silently urging her to continue with his compassionate support.
"The night after the police came about that other girl's murder, I came home and found Buffy and a boy talking in front of the house. When I went to confront her, to ask her where she'd been, she gave me this line about how she was in a band. But she and the boy couldn't even get their stories straight. It was obvious she was lying."
Joyce had to wonder how he was going to take this next part. She still couldn't quite believe it all herself. "When we turned to head into the house to settle whatever was going on, this man jumped out of the bushes and tried to attack us! But he didn't look normal, he looked..." words failed her as she tried to describe the attacker, "sick, somehow. And Buffy just hit him and spun him toward the other boy, who then punched the attacker too. And before I knew what was happening, Buffy had pulled out a stick no, no it was a stake, a wooden stake and she'd stabbed that man through the heart! And the weirdest part is, he just exploded in a cloud of dust!"
Joyce paused to catch her breath, thus giving Duncan a chance to interrupt. "Are you sure, Joyce? Absolutely sure that's what you saw?" He wasn't being condescending or humoring her delusions, he was just analytically verifying her tale. He was listening without judging, just as she'd expected him to.
She nodded before continuing. "One second he was there, and the next he was gone. Buffy and that other boy discussed something about the attacker being sent to watch them, but I wasn't listening very well. I was sort of in shock, you understand." She threw him a small smile, hoping to lessen the tension. He smiled back.
"So then, of course, I demand to be told what's going on. And Buffy, well, she just turns around and calmly says 'Mom, I'm a Vampire Slayer' like that's supposed to explain everything! Then she herded us all into the house, and the other boy and I um, Spike I think was his name sat in the living room while Buffy called the hospital to check up on her friends. It suddenly occurred to me while I was watching him that he was somewhat familiar, but when I asked him if we'd met, he told me that I had once hit him with an axe."
"An axe!?!" Duncan's astounded expression prompted Joyce to explain.
"Remember I wrote you about that terrifying ordeal during last year's Parent/Teacher night?" At his nod of assent, she clarified. "Well, this boy had been one of the gang that attacked us. And he'd fixated on Buffy. She'd fought him off for a good while, but when he'd finally gotten the upper hand... well, I hit him over the back of the head with a nearby fire axe."
He just blinked.
"No one messes with my daughter, Duncan," she told him definitively.
"I believe it," came his rueful response.
She grinned. "Right. So there we were sitting in uncomfortable silence when Buffy comes back in. She completely ignores me, going straight up to the boy and asking him what his plan was. I still don't get what they were talking about, but what I did understand was that they were working on a plan to kill Angel, who I'd thought was Buffy's boyfriend. None of it made any sense to me, Duncan. And I still hadn't gotten over this Vampire Slayer business."
"What was the 'Vampire Slayer' business?" he tactfully inquired, making sure to keep his tone neutral.
"Huh? Oh well, Buffy claimed to be a Vampire Slayer. Says it was her destiny to hunt and kill vampires and demons, to try and save the world and so forth. She argued that all her fights in the past, when she'd burned down Hemery High's gym in L.A., all the trouble she kept getting into... she swore it was all because she was a Slayer and she had to fight to survive." Sighing, she admitted, "I still don't know what to make of it, Duncan. I'd thought she was just in need of help, but... the more I think about it, the more it's starting to make sense."
She let out an exhausted breath, "You must think me crazy, Duncan. I mean, vampires can't be real, right? And my seventeen-year-old daughter certainly can't be the Chosen One designated to fight them. It's ridiculous! Who in their right mind would ever believe a word of it?!" she asked more to herself than to her patient guest.
But, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod wasn't going to be so quick to dismiss it. Not anymore, at least. He may have written it off as fancy just a year ago, but since Arihman's tormenting well, the 400-year-old Immortal just couldn't overlook the possibilities now. 'There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio...' he thought sullenly.
Deciding to break the silence which had befallen them, Duncan opened his mouth to ask a question. He never got the chance, however, as a sudden knock at the door soon took away their attention.
Joyce was startled for a few moments, unsure what the source of the noise that had pulled her out of her musings was, until he knocking came again. Quickly giving Duncan who'd been so sweet and so kind to sit there quietly and listen to her insane ramblings an apologetic look, she hopped up to go see who was at the door.
Swinging the oak wood front door open, Joyce Summers received the greatest shock in her life she could imagine happening. There, on the other side of the barrier, was her missing baby girl. She let out a squeal of delight, quickly stepping out to envelop her little girl in a tight hug.
"Oh God, Buffy!" she cried. "I'm so glad you're back! I'm so sorry for not understanding, I shouldn't have been so harsh on you. I love you, sweetie, I always will." She kissed her daughter's forehead before stepping back to examine her precious child, whom she hadn't seen in nearly a week.
"Hi, Mom," Buffy said quietly, doing her best to play up the chagrined-daughter routine. "I'm sorry I made you worry, I just had to split for a little after our fight. I didn't mean to make you wig." She smiled hesitantly at her mother, though it never reached her eyes. Then again, Joyce was too elated to have her baby back to notice, so it didn't matter much.
Pulling herself back together, Joyce immediately realized they were still standing on the front porch. "Oh, honey, come in, come in! I'm so glad that you're back, Buffy," she repeated, thanking whatever Powers That Be for her daughter's safe return.
Buffy's smile merely grew at the invitation as she allowed her mother to escort her into what used to be her home, before her change. This was going to be easier than she'd thought, she realized. When Angel had asked her how she planned on crossing the threshold, since no vampire could enter private property without an invitation, she'd just smiled coyly and told him to trust her. He'd accepted that, and gone back to what he was doing without a second thought namely tormenting her with his hands and tongue. But the quick conversation had left a niggling doubt in her mind that she may not be so successful. Before Angel's caresses had driven all thought from her mind that is. She was glad to see that her plan was indeed unraveling just as she'd hoped it would.
Joyce happily led her daughter into the living room, her heart finally free of the pain and worry which had shadowed it for days now. Her mind so focused on Buffy's sudden return that she completely forgot all the things she'd talked about with Duncan just before. She just couldn't wait to see Duncan's face when she brought Buffy into the room!
Duncan's head snapped up as Joyce returned from answering the door. He'd heard her squeal of pleasure and had been tempted to go see what was so interesting, but something had kept him sitting on her couch. He was still trying to sort out what Joyce had disclosed to him about her daughter when she came back into the room. With a young blonde girl who looked exactly like the pictures he'd been sent of Buffy. It appeared as if the Prodigal Daughter had returned as well, he noted.
"Buffy, dear, you remember Duncan MacLeod. He's staying for a while," Joyce introduced.
Standing up to greet them, Duncan smiled warmly. "Hello, Buffy. It's good to see you again. Your mother's been very worried about you."
The young woman smiled back dispassionately, something cold looming in her eyes that sent a shiver down the Immortal's back. "Hello, Mr. MacLeod," she said simply, coldly. Duncan cast a quick glance at Joyce to see if the other woman had noticed any change in her daughter, but Joyce was oblivious her joy masking whatever else transpired around her.
Buffy hadn't missed the look Mr. MacLeod had shot her dense mother. He must have realized something was wrong here, because his eyes instantly fastened themselves back on her with an intensity hot enough to melt rock. Buffy flashed him a wide grin, pulling her blood-red lips back to reveal just a glimpse of her sharpened incisors, watching closely for any sign of recognition to dance across her prey's very expressive dark eyes.
She was not disappointed. A look of confusion, followed shortly by a glimmer of fear had jittered behind his pupils before he'd shut down his emotions completely. It didn't matter though, the Slayer-turned-Vampire had seen enough. So, Buffy speculated, her stupid mother had indeed had enough sense to tell someone what she knew after all. Not that what the "old family friend" knew would do him any good. He was still going to die, she thought maliciously.
"Mom," Buffy broke the tense silence surrounding them, to which her mother was as oblivious as always. "Could you get me something to eat?" she asked innocently, turning her eyes to stare over at Duncan before concluding, "I'm kinda starved."
"Of course, Honey. I'll be right back." Joyce happily obliged before disappearing off into the kitchen, leaving the other two to circle each other warily.
"So, Buffy. I take it all this Slayer and Vampire business was indeed fact?" Mac stated conversationally, foregoing the bother of tip-toeing around what he already gathered to be true.
Buffy smiled. "Yep, smart boy. But as you've probably guessed," she bared her teeth at him again, allowing her eyes to change color but nothing more dramatic, "I've sorta defected over to the other team, now. If you know what I mean." She laughed hollowly.
His gaze darkened, though the Scotsman allowed no other emotions to flicker across his face. He would not give this creature the pleasure of watching his fear. "But why, Buffy?" he questioned instead, still working to keep his voice flat.
"Well, I didn't really have a choice in the matter you see. I was taken by surprise. But I don't mind, I've since discovered that a girl can have a lot more fun being bad than she can being good."
Her grin suddenly grew as she shifted into full demonic form and started her stalking of the man in front of her. "And I didn't lie to my Mom, Mr. MacLeod," she told him as she followed him around the coffee table. "I am starving." She watched in satisfaction as he gulped in fear, before tiring of the game and leaping toward him.
Mac saw her muscles tense for the pounce and automatically sidestepped the attack. He may never have fought with a vampire before, but he'd had four hundred years of experience dealing with mortals and Immortals alike. He wasn't going to become anyone's dinner without a fight.
Grabbing his coat draped over the hat-rack by the hall, Duncan frantically searched for the wooden quarterstaff hidden within its depths even as he continued to pace away from the creature of supposed myth hunting him with a wicked gleam in her red-gold eyes. He let out a breath of relief the second he felt his fingers close around the weapon as he drew it out to brandish it at Buffy, the Vampire.
Seeing the two-foot long piece of wood he now held defensively before him, Buffy slowed her assault a tad. "Planning on killing me with that?" she asked, not betraying the slightest bit of alarm. "Kinda blunt to be a stake, don't ya think?"
"Maybe," he acknowledged, before smashing the staff over his knee. Thereby effectively creating two sharp and pointy wooden stakes to threaten the girl with.
Her eyes grew wide as she now took in the situation, finally realizing that this wasn't gonna be as easy as she'd hoped. This guy not only knew what she was, but he stood facing her with determination and little fear, holding two potentially lethal weapons before him confidently. And although Buffy told herself she was sure she could take him at any time, she found that she really didn't want to test that claim.
Dancing over toward the door instead, Buffy kept her attention on the man as he followed her with eyes and weapons. Her heightened vampire hearing now picking up the sounds of her mother making her way back into the living room, Buffy glared menacingly at her would-be prey. "This isn't over, Duncan MacLeod," she told him, enforcing her promise with a snarl. "I'll come back for you, and next time you won't be so lucky."
She disappeared back out into the night without further hesitation. Leaving a very tense and somewhat alarmed Highlander standing there in the hall before the open doorway.
Joyce's voice soon echoing softly from the living room, "Where did Buffy go?"
Sunnydale Police Department
The Agents had been at the Police Station for several hours now, trying to sort through the multitude of strange cases these boys seemed to all file under "unimportant". Mulder's patience, thin at the best of times, was ground so haggard that only Scully's presence was keeping him from hitting some of the ignoramus yokels who called themselves law-enforcement officers.
"Jeez, Scully!" he complained yet again. "I didn't know anyone could be this deeply stupid. And here I thought Spender was bad." Referring to the snot-nosed young FBI Agent who'd taken a decidedly blind-sided view of hatred toward 'Spooky' Mulder at all costs, almost including Scully's life.
His mood darkened perceptively as he thought of how he'd almost lost his partner again. Too many times she'd been put in danger because of him, and too many times he'd almost lost her because of it. He'd tried shielding her from danger, with little success. She either ignored his efforts to leave her behind in safety and followed him to the ends of the Earth literally often ending up saving his sorry ass when he got in too deep. Or the fiery redhead lived up to her Irish roots and let loose a formidable temper when he did anything in the name of "protecting" her.
Every time he tried to ditch her, to run off and leave her behind out of danger, she'd track him down like a blood hound. Then after recovering from the initial fear of almost losing him because he inevitably found a way to put his life in danger when his grounding-force wasn't there to stabilize him her anger at his actions would come to the forefront and she'd ream him out better than any boss ever could. Skinner wasn't half as scary as Scully was when she was angry. He'd rather face the Assistant Director's punishments of wiretap duty any day than be the focus of one of his partner's furious stares.
Unfortunately he never seemed to learn. The last time he'd ditched Scully to go run off somewhere on a case without her, though he didn't remember which case it'd been, he still clearly remembered her biting words after she'd pulled his butt out of the fire. "If you ever do this to me again, Mulder," she'd threatened, every tight sinew in her being supporting the words, "I'll put a hole in your lanky hide myself. Got it?" And considering that she'd shot him once before although under slightly different circumstances he didn't doubt it.
So he'd been trying extra hard to be a good little FBI Agent since the reopening of the X-Files Division. Even going so far as to actually do his share of the paperwork for once, as mind-numbingly boring as it was. But that didn't mean he couldn't still get on her nerves, because he knew he'd been doing just that the past few weeks. Scully was a very understanding and caring person, more so than most, but even his infallible partner had her limits.
That's why when this case in sunny Sunnydale, California had crossed his desk, Mulder had snatched it up immediately. Not only did it offer an interesting enough case to legitimately be an X-File, thus getting approval from A.D. Skinner, but it looked to also give them the chance for a small vacation. Lord knows, neither of them took time off on their own to the point where Mulder had been warned to take a week off or else a couple of times.
So out west they'd come, and now here they were sitting in the local Police Station flipping through reports amidst a sea of idiots. The only plus side to their research being that they'd actually found somewhat of a pattern. Or, more precisely, Scully had found the pattern.
"Hey Mulder, look at this. In just the last two years it appears as if the number of strange cases, including unusual murders," she was careful in her phrasing, hoping not to encourage Mulder's outrageous theories by slipping, "has significantly increased. With most seeming to focus themselves on the local High School and its students." She passed the file she'd been looking at over to him so he could see for himself.
"I think we should pay a visit with Sunnydale High's Principal in the morning, then. Perhaps he can shed some light onto why it appears that his small town school suffers more violence than most inner city schools in major metropolises."
Scully nodded her agreement even as she began to pack up for the night. Now that they had a lead, slim as it may be, it was time to head to whatever dive of a hotel her partner had managed to find for them. Scully repressed the urge to sigh.
Sunnydale High School Next Day
Cordelia sauntered into the library, not at all surprised to find the entire "Scooby-gang" minus one Slayer gone vamp already deeply involved in whatever work Giles had put them to.
"Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse on this freaky Hellmouth, they do," she announced.
"Pardon?" Giles focused his attention on the new arrival between flipping through pages of a text on Demonology.
"Well, Harmony told me that Charity said that Amber heard from her brother, Billy, that those two Feds were coming to the school today."
Despite the lengthy report of the grapevine information chain, the news was not all that unexpected. At least not by the Watcher. Shortly after Willow discovered who would be investigating the murders, Giles had tried to get a hold of his old friend. Although it had taken several hours to track Adam down, he'd eventually found the man in Paris. Then having explained his situation, Adam had warned him that the Agent would most likely be quick to discover the connections. A risk both men knew the exact consequences of should it ever happen.
For as long as Giles had known Adam Pierson, the man had known about Watchers and Slayers and Vampires. It seemed that Adam had known his father was a Watcher, and therefore knew that Rupert was destined to become one too. This meant that no secrecy was needed with his old friend, although during his unruly youth that knowledge had proven more of a hindrance than anything else. And aside from an unnatural tendency to annoy the buggery out of him, Adam had always been a highly intelligent and resourceful man. That's why Giles had asked him to dig up as much information on the Federal Agent and his partner as he could, in hopes of finding some way around them without exposing the truth.
Adam had hesitated on the line for several long moments, Giles feeling uncertain by the sudden silence. And then Adam had dropped a bomb on his lap, "Rupert, I've been following Mulder's career since he joined the FBI. The guy is good, and with his current partner, they're the best. If anyone stands a chance of figuring this out, it'll be them. And the more you try to circumvent them, the more suspicious they'll get and the harder they'll look."
"But Adam, y-you don't understand. Things have never been this bad, it's... it's the greatest catastrophe the Watchers have ever known." Giles took a deep breath before admitting, "The Slayer has been turned into a vampire."
Silence. For tense minutes, Giles had just sat with the phone to his ear listening to the sounds of silence, waiting for the exclamation of horror he expected to hear any second. Then Adam managed to surprise him stupid with, "I'll be there by tomorrow. You're working out of the local high school I presume?"
Rupert Giles, Watcher and Librarian, had been too stunned by the sudden and completely uncharacteristic offer by his old friend that all he'd been able to do was nod. He'd been too shocked to even realize that Adam couldn't see him nodding over the phone lines, but it was just unheard of! Adam Pierson had never once in the time that Giles had known him almost twenty years and the man had never once willfully put his life into a dangerous situation. And the Hellmouth most certainly qualified as a "dangerous situation".
He'd eventually been able to overcome his shock, and had been able to tell his old friend exactly where to go once he landed in Sunnydale the next day. And when he'd finally absorbed just what had transpired, Giles had felt some measure of relief. A great weight had just been lifted off his shoulders. Because whatever happened, he would not have to deal with it alone.
Unfortunately, Adam wasn't here yet. "Alright Cordelia. Can you watch for them? Tell me immediately when they arrive?" He waited only long enough to get the cheerleader's nod before turning back to work. If Adam didn't get here soon, he'd need to think of something to stall them himself.
Principal Snyder's Office
"And what can I do for the government, hmm?" greeted the rude little man upon Mulder and Scully's admittance into his office.
While they'd sat waiting, they'd overheard the weasel's comments to a student who'd had the misfortune to be late for class. Mulder, who'd been squirming ever since they'd arrived at the school, finally leaned over to whisper to his partner. "This guy's worse than even my old Principal."
Scully nodded, returning with, "Get the feeling he doesn't like children much?" Further banter was interrupted when the secretary showed them into the Principal's office after a young girl who practically ran from the room was let out.
"Mr. Snyder. I'm Special Agent Scully, and this is my partner, Special Agent Mulder. We're with the FBI." They displayed their badges automatically and in perfect synchrony, having repeated the procedure for years that they had it down to a science. The troll of a principal did not look impressed.
Scully, who'd decided to take charge of this interrogation because she - being a small five-foot-two woman was generally considered less threatening than a six-foot-something man, pulled out her notebook to begin. Mulder standing silently behind her as an imposing rock just in case.
They'd taken their positions without so much as a word spoken between them. Five years of working together, of trusting only each other, had galvanized their partnership into a fine-tuned relationship. Rarely bothering with wasting words, a simple look served to say so much more. It was that unique bond between them which made them such an exceptional team.
"You're probably here about last week's murder, right? The girl found with her throat slit here on campus?" Snyder challenged. "I thought the police had a suspect for that one," he commented snidely.
Scully choose to ignore his tone and focused instead on his words. "Yes, Miss Summers. A student of yours isn't she?"
"Was. I expelled her." He actually seemed to revel in the idea of having expelled this girl, as if it were the greatest moment of his life.
"May we see her file, Mr. Snyder?"
While the troll dug through the file cabinet for his collection of Buffy-faults, Scully and Mulder shared a quick visual conversation. Mulder seemed to feel that this girl might have something to do with the case they were working, and he communicated that to his partner subtly. She understood, but sent back a warning to wait until they could see her student file.
Miss Summers student file turned out to be three. Snyder had pulled out three large folders which he claimed were all on Miss Buffy Summers. "As you can see, that girl has been nothing but trouble since she came here two years ago. Not until the murder, though, had I been able to pin anything on her. Her little friends kept making excuses for her, I'm sure," he grumbled nastily.
Scully had sensed Mulder tense at the mention of how long the girl had been at Sunnydale High, and searched her memory for why that particular information might be important. It dawned on her just as she accepted the first of the three files, passing another onto her partner. Two years. It had been in the last two years that activity in Sunnydale had shown a drastic increase in violence. Her partner would be bound to jump to conclusions on this one, she grimaced internally in preparation.
"Can you tell us the names of Miss Summers' friends, and where we might be able to find them? We'd like to talk with them if that's all right." Mulder, who'd been silent until now, finally interjected. Thus confirming Scully's suspicions.
Although reluctant to comply, Snyder just wanted these Feds out of his school. They were too much of a vulnerability to his job if anything went wrong. "Fine. Willow Rosenberg, Alexander Harris, Cordelia Chase, and our librarian, Rupert Giles. You'll more than likely find them all in the library right now, rather than in clas," he added with finality, his tone an obvious dismissal.
Laying a restraining hand on her partner just in case he decided to say something which would only further aggravate the troll, Scully thanked the man and led them out of there.
Once into the hall, heading toward the library thanks to the secretary's directions, Scully tried to forestall her headstrong partner's argument. "Granted, Mulder, the timing is right. But it's possible it is just a coincidence. The likelihood that a seventeen-year-old girl could be responsible for all this is extremely far-fetched even for you."
"I agree, Scully," he surprised her. "But I do believe it is entirely plausible that this young girl may have some connection to everything that's gone on. I mean, look at her files." Flipping through the one in his hands, he read, "Violent behavior. Often involved in fights. She's even got connections to odd occurrences during most of the dates we've found when weird stuff happened here. At the very least, Scully, you gotta admit it's suspicious." He glanced at her for approval.
"Possibly," she conceded. Paging the folder in her own hands though, she countered. "But many of what is written here is also the typical delinquent behavior of a troublesome student. It could be that this girl is just a bad case."
He nodded, realizing she was right as usual, yet still not ready to dismiss his theory. He hoped Miss Summers' friends may be able to help clarify things a little, although he didn't quite understand why a student who was apparently only trouble would spend her time in the library, or what the librarian had to do with her. Hopefully her friends will be able to answer that question, too, he thought as they came upon the entrance to the school's library. Truth or dare, he pondered, as he open the door to let Scully precede him in.
hem. After Buffy's short "visit", Mac had talked with Joyce about her daughter. If he was going to do anything about this vampire, he would have to learn more about her. He'd even debated calling Joe to see what the Watcher could dig up on the subject, but had refrained from bothering his friend on account of not wanting to embarrass himself by asking about vampires. So instead he'd questioned Joyce if there was anyone her daughter may have talked to, someone who might know her well enough to maybe know where she'd gone and more importantly, how to stop her.
Through her tears at having lost her daughter again, as Duncan hadn't had the heart to tell her what had happened to her only child, Joyce had told him about Buffy's friends and mentor. He was on his way to see them now. Maybe her mentor, the Librarian, Mr. Giles, could shed some light on this predicament. And at the very least, her friends just may indeed know where he could find the new vampire after all.
Sunnydale High Library 1998
Xander sat in his chair, idly doodling on the cast on his arm. Cordelia was sitting beside him, seemingly nonplussed to anyone who didn't know her well. But Xander had been her boyfriend long enough and had been locked in dark closets with her often enough that he could read her body language better than anyone. She was just as worried, and even a little scared, as the rest of them.
Just a few minutes earlier, Cordy had slammed through the library doors, dragging Xander in behind her. Cordy's gossip network had informed her right away when the two G-people had arrived. She grabbed her boyfriend's hand and immediately started hauling him toward the library. She hadn't even bothered telling him what was going on until she'd burst through the doors and told Giles.
Willow and her boyfriend, Oz, had already been there. Still searching the net and whatever other computer resources they could for some way to stop Buffy and Angel short of killing them, since none seemed willing to try the Restoration Spell again. Especially now that they were so vulnerable to counterattack with no Slayer to protect them. It would be a psycho-suicide mission in Xander's opinion. Still, they had to do something. Buffy was their friend, one of his best friend's and the object of a powerful crush since he'd known her.
Stillness soon descended upon the already silent library when the doors opened and two strangers dressed in suits arrived. It was crystal clear to everybody that these guys were Government issue, Xander had seen enough crime movies to know that.
Giles cleared his throat, quickly attracting the FBI's attention even as he silently encouraged the kids to relax and stay calm. Adam still wasn't here yet, and Giles had no idea how he was going to divert the Bureau's attention from the Hellmouth and its backwash.
"Uh... can I-I help you?" Giles stuttered.
Scully took the lead again. "You're the librarian, Mr. Giles?" He nodded nervously in assent. "We'd like to talk to you about one of the students here, Buffy Summers. You knew her, correct?"
Giles swallowed forcibly. Adam was right, they were good. They'd somehow managed to track down enough clues to make the connection to Buffy. So how much else did they know? "Yes, I was her mentor you could say. Very bright girl, I was proud to know her and very sorry to hear Mr. Snyder had expelled her. She wasn't deserving of the punishment, since she committed no crime. As I'm sure you are here to uncover?" He was babbling and he knew it.
Scully was about to call him on it, when the doors whooshed open, interrupting their questioning. The librarian turned to tell whatever stray student had picked this time to come searching for a book to come back later, but found a large man with short dark hair standing there watching them instead.
'What is this, open house on the Hellmouth?' Giles silently cried with a distinctly Xander-ish mental tone.
The two agents had also turned to inspect their newest entrant when the newcomer spoke up. "I'm looking for the librarian, Mr. Giles?" he asked in a faintly Scottish accent.
"Isn't everybody," mumbled the wanted man under his breath. "I'm the librarian, Mister...?" he said out loud instead.
"MacLeod. Duncan MacLeod. I'm an old friend of Joyce Summers' and she tells me you were Buffy's mentor. I'd like to talk to you about Buffy if I could." He cast a glance at the two suits something just screaming Government about them.
Mulder answered the unspoken question. "We're FBI. Agents Mulder and Scully. And we're also here to talk with Mr. Giles about Buffy Summers. Perhaps you'd care to tell us why you'd like to know about this student?"
"I'm an old friend of her mother's." Duncan responded a little too quickly.
Giles merely sighed. This was just too much all at once. "Mr. MacLeod, why don't you come in and have a seat. Agents? If you will also." He indicated the large rectangular table in the center of the lower library, where four kids one in a wheelchair and another sporting a cast were already seated and staring at them all nervously.
Taking his own seat next to Willow, Giles wondered how he was going to do this. Let alone why he was even contemplating telling these strangers anything. He decided to get introductions out of the way first as the three other adults choose the remaining seats around the table.
"As you all know, I'm the librarian here. Call me Giles. The young lady in the wheelchair is Miss Willow Rosenberg, one of Buffy's best friends. As is Mr. Xander Harris here." He angled his head toward the boy with the cast on his arm. "These are Buffy's other friends, Miss Cordelia Chase," indicating the pretty brunette holding Xander's undamaged hand. "And Oz..." Giles paused, realizing he didn't actually know Oz's last name.
The boy/werewolf just smiled coyly at him, saying, "Just call me Oz, everybody else does."
Giles continued, "Right. Well, we know who each of you are and more than likely why you are here. So, um, why don't we start by finding out how much each of you know and go on from there?" And I'll get the chance to see how much I can keep from having to tell you. Maybe we can salvage some secrecy after all, Giles mused pessimistically.
Duncan took the initiative, since it was evident that neither one of the FBI Agents was willing to begin. "I came to town because Joyce asked me to visit. She was worried about her daughter's disappearance and needed someone to talk to. Last night, Buffy came home." There were stifled gasps from some of the kids at the revelation, causing looks of mild confusion on the two Feds' faces as they tried to figure out why that was significant.
Noting everyone's response, Duncan carried on. "Joyce had told me some interesting things about Buffy, and then when Buffy showed up... well, let's just say it became obvious that some of those things were true. I'm just trying to find Buffy now, if you don't mind. And I was hoping one of you might know where I could find her?" His gazed passed over each student to finally land on the librarian.
Mulder's turn next. "We were asked to come here to investigate a string of unusual murders. In going through our research of past cases, we discovered most seemed to center on this school. When we interviewed the Principal, he told us about Miss Summers and yourselves." Exchanging a look with Scully, they silently agreed not to give away any other information than that for now.
At the mention of the Principal, Willow muttered, "The Worm." It was a sentiment echoed in the angry faces of the other Sunnydale residents. Scully couldn't help smiling in agreement. Smart kids, she thought.
Giles ignored the exchange. Instead trying to figure out what each of the three strangers were hiding. Mr. MacLeod had mentioned meeting Buffy, but he was alive and looked to be uninjured. Very odd when encountering a vampire as particularly powerful as Buffy or Angel. Plus, he'd hinted at knowing something about Buffy's secrets. Giles would have to talk with him in private when he got the chance.
And then there were the two FBI Agents. Adam had told him they would most likely research far enough into Sunnydale's odd occurrences to at least discover the town is situated over the Hellmouth. Possibly also linking the murders to the school and Buffy. Well, they'd done that last part. The question though, was whether or not they realized how close they were. And if they didn't, Giles sure as hell wasn't going to be the one to tell them.
"Alright then," Giles began, still uncertain how to go about this conversation. "I think it's safe to say we all..."
Duncan had stopped listening. There was a tingling sensation creeping along the back of his neck, the easily recognizable Presence of a nearby Immortal. The Highlander tensed automatically, slowly rising to his feet as his eyes searched the room rapidly. Seconds later, his intense gaze focused on the library doors. He debated with himself whether or not to reach for his sword, which after last night's confrontation with a vampire, he'd stashed into its custom-designed pocket in his long coat.
The others had all fallen quiet when he'd stood up, shooting him curious glances from every angle. Duncan barely noticed. His attention was now solely fixated on the library's main entrance. The last thing I need is a fight, he mentally grumbled.
The doors swung open as a lean, short dark-haired man cautiously entered the premises. His hand not fully visible since he wisely had it held discreetly over the hilt of his own sword. Duncan's eyes widened the minute the man was completely into the room, whose own posture relaxed noticeably when he saw who was already there.
"Adam!" exclaimed Giles with a relieved and welcoming smile. Even as MacLeod said a startled and questioning, "Adam?" of his own at the same time.
Adam just smiled in amusement at the sight they both made. Walking further into the room, he gave each of his old friends a quick nod and proceeded to introduce himself to the FBI Agents currently watching the spectacle with perplexed expressions looks shared by the four kids sitting at the table, too.
"Hi," he smiled charmingly, absently listening in amusement as Giles asked how MacLeod knew him even as Mac asked why he was here. "I'm Adam Pierson." He shook each Agents' hand in turn. "And it's a pleasure to finally meet you both in person, Agents Mulder and Scully."
Surprise flashed across their faces as he uncovered that he knew who they were. Adam's smile just grew wider. Turning to Mulder first, he said, "I've been following your career since you joined the FBI. Very impressive. And you, Dr. Scully," she startled slightly at the use of her Medical title, "It's always a pleasure to meet such a beautiful and intelligent woman." He bent to kiss her hand lightly, causing the fair-skinned Agent to blush a light shade of red.
MacLeod's tap on his shoulder interrupted his reflections on this shinning example of the fairer sex. "Why are you here, and how do you know them?" repeated a decidedly frustrated Scotsman. Trying to get decent answers out of the older man was like trying to get blood out of solid rock. It would be a miracle if either ever happened.
"I'm here because Rupert," he hitched a finger in the librarian's direction, "told me about all the trouble he was having here with Buffy and I volunteered to help." His grin twisted into a false wounded expression at Duncan's disbelief. "No, really! Why does everyone always think the world must be ending when I choose to give them my help?" Adam's melodramatic tone had the desired effect, MacLeod relaxed.
"Because anyone who knows you at all knows you never put your neck on the line for anyone but yourself," he replied truthfully, though the smile in his eyes and on his face took the sting out of the words. Mulder realized this must be a long standing joke between them.
Ignoring the looks the others were still giving him, Adam pulled up a seat at the table beside MacLeod. Once receiving Gile's nod that the kids present were just as involved in this conversation as anyone, Adam decided it was high time to get this show on the road.
"Okay, everybody. Since I am probably the only one who knows exactly what's going on and how much each of you probably know about it, I'll start." As an afterthought, he added, "Oh, and try not to interrupt me until I've finished all right? Good. I really hate that."
Warning given, Adam turned his attention to what brought Mulder and Scully there. "You came here to investigate the rash of unusual murders that occur here, right? Well, most of those are caused by the vampires and demons that call the Hellmouth home. Buffy, with a little help from her friends," thus including the four kids in on the credit, "has been fighting these killers for the last two years. Otherwise, many more deaths would have occurred."
Raising his hand slightly to indicated he was not yet finished, thus stifling any comments, he continued. "Buffy was born a Chosen One. She was the Vampire Slayer. The one girl born in all the world with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the only person with the ability to hunt and kill these demons with any measure of safety. It is her duty to reduce the swell of their numbers and stop the spread of their evil. In essence, the Slayer is all that stands between the Earth as you know it and Hell personified."
"Our British librarian here, Rupert Giles, is Buffy's Watcher. He is the one who guides and trains the Slayer in her battles against the forces of evil. I had a nice long talk with Rupert over the phone yesterday, in which he told me that four kids presumably these four brave students knew about Buffy's Destiny and helped her in her fights with vampires and whatever other demons the Hellmouth attracted."
After delivering this lovely tidbit of news to various degrees of shock and disbelief in his audience, he realized he'd left one thing out. "Oh, that reminds me. The Hellmouth is exactly what it sounds like. It's the Mouth to Hell. A mystical portal, if you will. It acts as sort of a beacon for all things evil to converge upon at one time or another.
"Now though, Rupert has a really big problem on his hands. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, has been turned into a vampire herself. And as far I've been able to tell by checking out the Watcher Diaries, this is the first time it's ever happened." He grinned now, the image seemingly out of place considering everything he'd just told them so far. "And, boys and girls, it's up to us to stop her."
Duncan, who'd heard much of this already from Joyce except the Watcher business, which he chose to wait to ask Methos about later and had seen Buffy with his own eyes, was the first to respond. "But how? I mean, last night when Buffy showed up at Joyce's house," he repeated for Adam's benefit, "I had to break my quarterstaff into two sharp pieces just to keep her at bay. She's much stronger than I am, and a heck of a lot faster. I must have danced around Joyce's living room with Buffy following me three times before I managed to get a weapon in my hands. How are we supposed to stop her?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Let me get this straight, you actually believe this?!?" demanded a very skeptical Scully, who'd been very good to have kept her objections silent until now.
"Agent Scully," intervened Giles, "vampires are indeed real. And so are Slayers. As real as you and I are, they too exist. Their existence, however, was kept secret for a very important reason." Standing up to go get a well-worn ancient book out of his office, Giles placed the large tome in front of her. Across the front read 'Vampyr'.
"Long before man walked the Earth, it was populated by demons. For untold eons, they made this land their Hell. But then something happened, they began to lose their purchase on this Realm. So the way was paved for mortal creatures, for um, man."
"So where do the vampires fit in?" asked an intrigued Mulder, who seemed to be accepting everything said so far with little question much to Scully's chagrin.
"Oh, well, um, before the last demon left this reality, it fed off a human. Mixed their blood. He became a human form possessed, infected by the demon's soul. He fed off another, and another... killing some and mixing his blood with others. The vampires' numbers have been growing ever since, feeding and waiting for the time when the Old Ones would return and the world will fall back into Hell."
When no one else said anything, Xander piped up with a suitably out-of-place comment to break the silence. "You gotta give him marks for imagery, don't ya think?" The four teens giggled nervously, and Mulder and Adam soon joined in. Duncan and Giles were just smiling, while Scully continued to look at them all as if they must have gone crazy.
"Sure. Fine. Whatever. That's all well and good, but if these creatures really do exist, why keep them secret?" As a scientist, her mind screamed out to her to find rational scientific proof for every strange event in her and Mulder's lives. She'd told Mulder once that she didn't believe anything was outside the realm of science, merely beyond what they knew as scientists. She still believed that, but to believe in what these people were telling her without any fact to back them up was just plain ridiculous.
Mulder had been listening intently all along, letting his memory absorb everything they said even as his extremely active imagination filled in any blanks they left out. Now, he donated his thoughts to the discussion before anyone else had the chance. "Think about it, Scully. What would happen if the world suddenly discovered that everything they thought was myth, all the monsters mothers used to tell their children about, were real... You can just imagine the panic and the chaos that would ensue." He switched his gaze from his partner's doubting visage, to the veiled approval showing on the faces of most of the others present.
"Precisely. Yet all that chaos, as Agent Mulder so aptly pointed out, can be easily avoided by working in silence."
Adam took over for Giles. "We've all seen what happens to people's judgement when they panic, it flies out the window. They become mindless instinctive creatures, which will only make them easier targets. By working in secrecy, a Slayer can hunt down and kill the vampires without putting anyone else's life at risk. It's much safer."
"And most vampires try to keep a fairly low profile so as not to attract a Slayer's attention," added an uncharacteristically bold Willow. When she realized she'd spoken out loud, because everyone was now staring at her, she lowered her eyes and explained quietly. "Well, at least that's what Angel told me once. Like, before he went bad, I mean."
Which brought them onto the next point.
"Who's Angel?" This time Mulder and Scully weren't alone in their ignorance, Adam was also in need of an explanation.
"Buffy's boyfriend, right?" Mac thought he remembered something about Joyce mentioning an 'Angel', and looked to Giles and the kids for clarification.
"Yes. Sort of," Giles sighed, this was still hard for him.
Seeing him struggling with the words, and unwilling to dwell on Angel for long at any time, Xander decided he might as well tell them. "Angel was Buffy's beau while she was still the Slayer. He turned out to be a vampire himself, but a good one kinda. It was this whole 'he got cursed and his soul was returned' deal. They fell in love, did the horizontal tango, and then Angel decided he wanted to rejoin the fang-gang. He and Buff fought a lot for months. Angel killed, Buffy cried, they fought, Buffy cried some more. You see where I'm going with this? Eventually Angel pushed too far and Buffy went to dust his ass, but dead-boy won instead. He turned Buffy into a vampire like him. She's stayed with him ever since. End of story."
Cordelia squeezed his hand in hers, silently offering her support. Xander smiled gratefully, letting some of the bitterness and anger dissolve from the stiffness in his shoulder blades. He may have lost Buffy, but he still had his friends. Cordelia, Willow, and even Oz would always be there to share in his pain.
While the others expressed their sympathies to the children, Adam was thinking furiously. The boy had mentioned that this Angel had been cursed and his soul returned. Only a Gypsy Restoration Spell could have done that. And if they had one... He forcefully dampened his hopes until he could ensure his plan's success. He'd learned long ago never to hope for anything until it happened. Immortality teaches that lesson early on.
"Tell me," he asked when they'd recovered, "do you know how Angel, a vampire, became good?"
"Oh, about a century ago, Angelus as he was called in those days killed the favorite daughter of a Gypsy Clan. As punishment, the elder woman placed a curse on him, and returned his soul. The curse was designed to make him suffer for eternity, but would be lifted if Angel ever experienced a moment of true happiness. Buffy made him happy, the curse broke, and Angelus was reborn," Giles summarized for him.
"Yeah, and like, Miss Calender, who was a descendant of these Gypsy people, she found the Restoration Spell that had been used to curse Angel, and was gonna give it to us. But Angel's psycho witch, Drusilla, found out about it and told Angel. Angel killed Ms. C. before she had the chance," Cordelia continued, casting a concerned look at Giles when she mentioned his dead girlfriend's name.
Willow nodded her head enthusiastically, ready to finish the story herself despite her shyness around the strangers. "But it wasn't all lost! Ms. Calendar saved the curse on disk, and Angel never destroyed that. Buffy and I found her disk about a week ago, and we all decided it was worth a shot to try and re-curse him for her."
Xander snorted bitterly, interrupting Willow with a cynical, "Not everybody was all gung-ho for this 'Save the Blood-Sucker' Campaign, Will."
The girl spared him a look before continuing, "Everything was fine. We had the Orb of Thelessa to retrieve Angel's soul from the ether, the translated annals, the stinky herbs... everything. And it was working, I'm sure it was. But we didn't get the chance to finish. Drusilla broke in and she killed Kendra, who was also a Slayer. The rest of her vamp goons attacked us, and kidnapped Giles. There was nothing we could do, and Buffy was too late to help," Willow's voice drifted off to silence. Oz wrapped his arm around her shoulders reassuringly, and she gave him a small sad smile in thanks.
At this point, Scully realized where in the timeline of things they'd arrived at. "This girl, Kendra? She was the one murdered that got Buffy expelled, right? That's when all this started." Dana herself could not believe she was even listening to this, let alone beginning to believe it. Mulder threw her a look of triumph, to which she responded by glaring at him. It had no effect, his hazel eyes continued to twinkle nonetheless.
Until he realized something Miss Rosenberg had said. "Wait a minute, did you say this Kendra was also a Slayer? I thought you'd just finished telling us that there was only one Slayer per generation, and that Buffy was this generation's heroine. Am I missing something here?" He looked curiously from first Giles to Adam, who along with MacLeod was also looking confused.
Giles didn't even seem flustered. "Oh, well, last year Buffy was killed. Temporarily, of course. Xander's quick actions resuscitated her immediately, but the instant she died, a new Chosen One was called. So for a while, the world had two Slayers defending it from the evil. Now I don't know who the next Slayer is. I've tried to contact other Watchers, cause we are all on the look out for her, but she's not yet been identified. Sometimes this happens, you know," he stated almost defensively. Willow patted his shoulder soothingly, sharing the comfort Oz was giving her.
"Okay, so, why don't you just try this Restoration Spell thing again?" Duncan changed the topic back to what had been niggling him since it was first mentioned.
"Are you crazy, dude?!" Oz, this time, spoke for the Slayerette group. "Willow was nearly killed trying that, and Kendra a Slayer was. They kidnapped and tortured Giles, broke Xander's arm, and the only reason Cordy got away unscathed is that she ran for her life. If I'd been there, I'd probably have been hurt too. And that was with two Slayers around to defend them. We'd be helpless if we tried it now, sitting ducks even. Why don't we just hang a big sign up that says 'Free Buffet!'?"
Thoroughly chided, Duncan chose to admit defeat. Adam wasn't quite so willing to surrender, however. "If that's all that's stopping you, forget it. All we have to do is make sure we get Buffy and Angel alone, and then MacLeod and I will keep them under control until you can curse them. Mulder and Scully can provide back up just in case any lesser vampires decided to join in on the fun."
"What's this 'MacLeod and I' business, Adam? Since when do you start volunteering me, let alone yourself, for guard duty?"
Adam smiled enigmatically, "Since you and I are the only ones around capable of doing the job and surviving it." Leaning in to whisper in his fellow Immortal's ear, the Elder added, "Besides, you've got your sword if all else fails, right? Well, vampires can die from decapitation just the same as any Immortal."
Although still not liking the plan much, Mac nodded. It did make sense in a strictly Methos-ish sort of way. And the guy was a master tactician, so MacLeod had to trust his judgement on this one.
"Alright then, it's all decided. Now all we gotta do is prepare for the Spell, get our two little vampires alone together, and do this thing." His tone left no room for argument. Not that anyone was really willing to bother. Giles and the kids were being given a chance to save their friends, and Mulder and Scully were still outsiders counting on the others' knowledge. Besides, although Adam was young and the newest member to join their company, he had clearly and strongly taken charge over the group. And there was just something about him that demanded obedience.
Joyce Summers' House That night 1998
"Would you sit down, MacLeod? You're starting to make me seasick."
The Highlander glared at his overly calm companion, but dutifully dropped onto the couch beside the elder Immortal. After agreeing on a plan, the group of four kids and five adults gathered in the library throughout the rest of the school day to discuss the finer points involved. It had been Duncan who'd come up with the way to lure Buffy and Angel to the library alone. He remembered that he'd gone there for answers because Buffy had threatened to return the next night to finish what she'd started, and knowing she had a mate meant it was likely she'd bring him too. So he'd asked Joyce to spend the night with a friend, and now he and Adam were waiting for the vampires to show.
"What's taking them so long?" he asked impatiently.
"Relax. The sun just set an hour ago. They'll be here. Demons may not always be punctual, but they're rather reliable," Adam returned, still smiling.
Duncan turned to look at the man, finally realizing what had been bothering him most about all this. "When I was being targeted by Arihman, I thought you said you didn't believe in demons. Now here you are telling me you've known about them and other things like vampires for millennia?"
"I never said I didn't believe in demons, MacLeod. Just that I hadn't seen any. And as soon as you told me what was after you, I went home and searched through every book on Demonology I own. And I own a lot. Arihman was not included in any of them, I had to add him myself. But I swear to you, Duncan MacLeod, if I had known anything about that Evil bastard, I'd have done everything in my power to prevent Richie's death." Adam knew the heart of the question, and tried to reassure his friend.
Somewhat mollified by his old friend's assurance, Duncan apologized for doubting him. He'd had no reason to suspect the Elder of withholding valuable information, Methos had only ever done so when he himself was the one in trouble. There was no reason for him to protect himself this time, because the Old Man wasn't a target. MacLeod had to trust that if Methos had known how to stop Arihman before it came to Richie, he would have told him.
Problems solved, they settled down to wait in silence for their charges.
"It's alright, Buffy. We'll take care of him together. How much trouble can one lousy mortal human be?" Angel asked as they snuck up to the Summers home.
Buffy just gave him a Look.
Catching on, he elaborated. "But you were a Slayer, you were born to fight vampires. He's just some guy with a stick. You could have taken him, I have complete faith in your abilities, my Queen. Of course," he smiled as he put on his game face, "it's always nice to share."
Since Buffy had been invited in last night, and a vampire could always enter once invited, Buffy was supposed to lure MacLeod outside for Angel, and she would get to play with her mother. Following up the plan, Buffy calmly walked up to the front door, and went in. Angel stood in the shadows by the bushes. Watching and waiting for his turn.
"Mom!" Buffy called out loudly once she was inside, leaving the door open behind her. When she got no answer, she was about to yell out, "Where are you?"
A noise to her right soon drew her attention though, as MacLeod and some other man she didn't know answered her summons instead of her mother.
"Joyce isn't home, Buffy. But I asked Adam, here," the other man smiled coldly, "to stop by. Hope you don't mind?" he asked with total insincerity.
They had continued to advance toward her with each word, and now MacLeod was almost within reaching distance. A little closer, and she could hurl him outside to Angel's waiting bite. Then she'd deal with his little friend. May not be the same as her mother, but he'd be a good meal nonetheless.
MacLeod took one more step forward and Buffy flew into motion. Her arms shot out with vampirical speed, her hands grabbing hold of the lapels on Duncan's long coat, and she used her increased strength to whip the man around and shove him out into the night. She heard his strangled yell as her sire soon descended upon him. Her attention, however, was totally focused on the other man in the room, who'd seemed startled by Buffy's lightening quick reflexes.
Adam hardly saw the vampiress move before she'd thrown MacLeod outside, and now turned her fangs over to him. Reacting on five thousand years of trained and honed instinct, the oldest man alive in the entire world turned tail and ran like the wind. He didn't even bother trying to pull his sword, he just ran toward the backdoor faster than he'd run since he delivered the news of the collapse of the Roman Empire several thousand years ago.
Buffy stayed hot on his heels, managing to physically pick him right up off the ground once she caught him spare feet from freedom. "You can't escape me!" she snarled, baring her teeth to bestow the killing bite.
The sounds of gun shots out front distracted her, and she loosened her grip just enough for Adam to rip himself away. She growled as she watched her prey disappear around the door into the night. Not giving up, the vampire followed.
"Come on!" Mulder yelled, encouraging Adam to head for their car even as he pumped three more bullets into the vampire chasing them. He and Scully had decided to come see what the delay was when MacLeod and Adam still hadn't arrived after an hour.
Driving up to Buffy's house, they'd found MacLeod being dangled by an extremely ugly guy with very long eye teeth. Recognizing the man was in trouble, and that the creature attacking him fit the description Giles gave them of a vampire, Mulder and Scully had jumped out of the car to help. Scully hadn't even questioned what she was seeing or doing, just pulled her gun and shot the dangerous foe.
Although he didn't die, the assailant did drop his prey when the pain from Scully's lead bullets riddled his shoulder. MacLeod hit the ground with a thump, but quickly got to his feet and ran toward Mulder. Minutes later, Adam dashed around the corner from the back of the house and made a bee-line straight from the FBI agents rented Ford Taurus, Scully and MacLeod close behind.
Mulder hung back just long enough to provide cover fire, soon having to switch back and forth between two targets as Buffy arrived from the same direction as Adam had seconds earlier. The two vampires growled as they dove for cover under the onslaught of bullets, both knowing that although it couldn't kill them, it still stung like Holy Water.
"Mulder!" Scully screamed at her errant partner, one small part of her mind wondering why he always put himself in more danger than anyone else even as the rest of her worried for her safety and that of the others.
The tall agent fired off the last two bullets in the round, then scrambled to jump into the back seat of the car as Scully peeled it away from the curb. As she hurriedly navigated the automobile back to the school, Mulder and Adam looked out the rear window to make sure the two vampires were following them.
"Well," declared Adam jovially, "that didn't exactly go as planned, but all things considered, it wasn't too bad." MacLeod and Mulder just turned to stare at him in blank shock. Even Scully spared him a glance in the rear view mirror between watching the road and her driving.
"What?" he asked frankly, his face the picture of innocence. "We're all alive, aren't we? And the vamps are on their way. What more do you want?"
As the adrenalin rush wound down, the four shared a relieved chuckle the rest of the way to the school. Indeed, what more could they want when dealing with two of the worst vampires ever to exist?
thing organized. It had been decided to let Willow try to recast the curse since she seemed to be the only one with enough knowledge in the magical arts to control the power of the Gypsy spell.
The computer genius sat in her wheelchair in the center of the lower library, surrounded by candles and the putrid smoking herbs traditional to this particular ceremony. Cushioned on a soft velvet cloth on her lap was Giles's Orb of Thelessa, which had somehow survived the fight when they'd last tried to activate its powerful magic. Willow had a printout of the translated Restoration Spell beside her.
Around Willow, Oz, Xander, Cordelia, and Giles had taken up positions to form an awkward circle. (All wearing large crosses around their necks, just in case.) They each had segments of the spell before them, written in Latin, which they were to chant once Willow began the actual curse. All the teens were nervous, but prepared. Giles had even coached the kids on how to properly pronounce the Latin words they'd be reading.
Now they were just waiting for the others to arrive.
Minutes later, the doors suddenly flew open as the four other adults poured in, unsettling the anxious Slayerettes.
"Get ready!" Mulder shouted, he and Scully moving quickly into their positions near the book shelves on the upper level. "They're coming!"
Adam and Duncan flattened themselves on either side of the library's swinging doors, each poised and tensed waiting for the vampires to come through. By unspoken agreement, especially after their less than stellar fight back at Buffy's house, they decided not to bother with any pretenses. Each Immortal drew their swords, discarding the long coats which had concealed the bladed weapons, and assumed defensive postures.
The others in the room didn't have time to wonder why the two men were carrying swords before a loud deep growl announced the imminent arrival of Buffy and Angel.
The second the two vampires slammed through the doors into the library, Willow began reciting the curse. Buffy, not yet realizing what was going on, moved to attack her ex-Watcher and friends. Her lover quickly laid a restraining hand on her arm though, as his mind instantly recognized what they'd just walked into.
"Trying to curse us, little Willow?" he taunted. "These are powerful magics you're playing with, what makes you think you can handle any of it?"
Buffy listened closely, the mention of the curse making the entire gathering take on a new meaning. She wasn't ready to do the whole 'tortured-vamp' routine, and knew her sire wouldn't be thrilled by the idea either. They'd fight their way out of this little trap, and kill anyone who tried to stop them. Taking a few moments to make a quick tactical survey, she searched around the familiar public room with her eyes, counting people to ensure there wouldn't be any sudden rescues when she and Angel slaughtered these puny mortals.
"Hey, where are the other two? MacLeod and his coward friend?" she asked of no one in particular when she failed to see their faces amongst the others.
"Right behind you, Bitch!" Adam and Mac closed ranks behind the vampires, swords up and at the ready. Effectively blocking the undead fiends' escape.
Angel and Buffy whirled around to face their other two opponents. "What is this?" Angel demanded, malicious humor coloring his voice when he saw the two swords angled toward them. "Two of the Musketeers get lost? Allow me to help," his fist lashed out at MacLeod, surprising the Highlander enough that the vampire was able to connect with his adversary's chin. "Hollywood is south of here!" he jeered, laughing maniacally as MacLeod and he engaged in formal combat, circling each other warily about the point of the Scotsman's Katana.
Buffy laughed at her mate's joke, and Adam used her preoccupation to launch his own attack at her unprotected sides. Slashing his heavy Ivanhoe blade down, Buffy wasn't quite fast enough avoiding the blow before the cold steel scraped her ribs. She howled in agony and anger, grabbing one of Giles' old books off the counter to throw at her assailant.
Adam ducked the projectile, using the action's same momentum to leap at her for another swipe across her knees. Beside him, MacLeod had just successfully slit Angel's stomach open. The enraged male vampire screamed in fury, foregoing all grace to tackle his larger combatant to the floor full force. Duncan's ancient Japanese sword clattered to the ground under the assault.
The Slayerettes watched the vicious battle with wide eyes. Xander and Cordelia almost forgetting to repeat their lines until Giles snapped them back to their task. Willow didn't even seem to be noticing any of it. The shy girl was loudly chanting the Spell in its original language, her head held back and her eyes glowing the same frightening color as the pulsating Orb.
Above them, Mulder stood transfixed, amazed by the spectacle before him. Scully was scared, not quite willing to believe what she was seeing with her own eyes, but not knowing how to discount such compelling evidence either. But she did know her job, and catching a glimpse of her two new friends locked in a losing battle with the vampires, she grabbed Mulder's arm and hauled him down the few steps to the main level with her.
Drawing his eyes off of Willow for a moment, Mulder's questioning glance at Scully had him drawing out his gun as well. Checking their new clips, each agent approached the fighting mass until they could get a clear shot at the two predators.
Disarmed and injured now as well, Adam commanded to two Federal Agents to shoot the damn vampires and not worry about himself or MacLeod. Struggling with Angel, MacLeod seconded the order with a grunt of pain.
Mulder and Scully looked first at each other weighing the risks before cocking their guns, aiming as best they could at the two evils of the writhing mass, and fired. Scully flinched in sympathy when one of the bullets either hers or Mulder's, it was hard to tell impacted with Adam instead of Buffy. Luckily though, most of the shots landed on their intended targets, causing enough of a diversion to give the two Immortals the upper-hand again.
Struggling to their feet and retrieving their fallen swords, the Immortals regrouped to stand back to back on one side of the snarling menace, with Mulder and Scully armed with crosses and guns on the other.
"How much longer is this gonna take?" MacLeod grumbled, straining to put weight on his still-healing ankle.
"Not much longer for you, boy!" Ignoring his slit gut and bleeding gunshot wounds, Angel kicked out at the Immortal nearest to him who just happened to be MacLeod. The force of the vampire's strike shattering his knee, the Highlander bellowed in pain as his leg gave out from under him and he collapsed to the floor.
Adam heard his cry and reacted smoothly, bringing his sword around rapidly in a natural decapitation arc straight for Angel's neck. The 242 year old vampire's eyes widened as the flicker of a candle flame reflected off the deadly metal headed right at him. Frozen on the spot for a moment, Angel hardly heard Buffy cry his name and barely saw her throw herself in front of the sword's path. But he did hear her anguished yelp when the blade meant to kill him cut into her side instead. Snapping out of his trance, Angel roared and struck out at the remaining Immortal over Buffy's prone body. His entire being focused on destroying the mortal who'd dared to hurt his Queen.
Gunfire erupted in the small school library, the sounds echoing off the walls and book stacks. They were soon joined by an agonized howl as Mulder and Scully emptied their clips into Angel before he could get a hold of Adam. The tall vampire crashed to the floor next to Buffy, his body too wounded now to fight no matter how much he wanted to. He resorted to snarling and glaring at the humans standing over him as he gathered his unconscious Queen in his arms.
Taking full advantage of the momentary lull, Adam and the Agents picked up MacLeod and started to haul him away from the threat still growling on the floor. Adam was hurting and tired, not sure he could keep this up any longer. Although, as a plus, at least he wasn't bleeding any more being the oldest and most powerful Immortal had its perks sometimes, rapidly accelerated healing being one of them. His injuries had begun to heal the instant they were afflicted, while younger Immortals like MacLeod would take a few minutes to begin recuperating. Still, even he had his limits. And why the Hell hadn't Willow finished that damn curse yet?!
As if the girl in question had heard his thoughts, everyone suddenly became aware of Willow's spell casting as her voice boomed to a peak and the Orb exploded in waves of blindingly bright light. A sharp wind rose from nowhere and rushed across the library, sending cold shivers down the humans' backs as it gusts past them. The maelstrom lasted for only a few seconds, dying down as fast as it had risen to leave everyone standing in shocked silence.
A disorientated moan and resounding thump in the wake of the quiet dragged everyone's attention back to Willow as the exhausted girl passed out to lie in a heap at her boyfriend's feet. The now-spent Orb of Thelessa crashing to the floor to break into a hundred pieces. Oz automatically leaned down to swoop Willow up into his arms, turning to stare at the carnage the library had become.
Books laid strewn everywhere, spilling their pages across any available surface. Chairs were toppled, and several bookcases leaned precariously against each other. Each of the dozens of candles that had been lit around the room were melted down to the holder, the splinters of remaining wicks smoking almost solemnly amidst the chaos. And farthest from the people, in a corner near the door, lay a shaking and crying Buffy Summers and her boyfriend Angel.
"Did it work?" No one was sure who voiced the actual question, since the same thought was on everyone's mind.
Mulder let go of MacLeod, gently easing the injured man to the floor before cautiously making his way over to the two vampires.
"Mulder! Be careful!" Scully warned him, knowing he probably wasn't listening, but feeling compelled to caution anyway.
She watched as her partner ambled up to Buffy and Angel, still lying on the floor wrapped in each other's arms. Keeping both his gun and a cross held before him, Mulder slowly reached down to check the trembling vampires. They gasped at his first touch, and he instinctively withdrew his hand, taking a cautious step back just to be safe. But they didn't move to attack, they didn't even snarl or growl at him. The young-looking pair just turned their heads in his direction, faces looking as normal as any human's, and stared at him with tears in their eyes.
Relieved, Mulder sighed loudly, his body visibly relaxing for the first time that day. "It's okay!" he called. "It's over."
Sighs of relief were heard around the room, smiles now just beginning to break out on the gloomy faces of those present. Adam allowed himself to drop down to sit beside his fellow Immortal, finally giving his Immortality the chance to heal his wounds properly and completely. MacLeod groaned next to him, the feeling of knitting bone in his knee almost as painful as when it had been shattered earlier.
Hearing his groan, Scully, the only on-hand medical doctor, immediately snapped back to herself. Slipping smoothly into Doctor-mode, the red-haired agent knelt down before her patients. Reaching for MacLeod first, since he was closest, she ripped away the linen of his pant leg to reveal his broken and bleeding knee. She was just about to wrap the torn shreds of his pants around the wound when Adam's hand closed around her wrist, stilling her actions.
Glaring up at him when he continued to prevent her from treating this man's wounds, he calmly stated. "There's no need for your doctoring skills, Agent Scully." She opened her mouth to protest, wanting to yell at the man that his own friend was in agony and that she may be able to help and why the hell wasn't he letting her?! She paused at the look on his face, however.
Using his free hand, Adam exposed the skin of his shoulder where Scully had seen one of their bullets enter. Pulling away his bloodied shirt, Adam wiped a red smear away to reveal clear, clean, healthy, and undamaged skin.
Confused, Scully could only mutter a weak "How?" as she reached out to feel the unbroken skin herself. Her mind had just been through too many shocks in one day to be able to come up with any rational explanation for this.
Still recovering on the floor at their knees, MacLeod laughed coarsely at what he recognized as the older man's expression of defeat. He regretted the action moments later when his healing chest protested vigorously by sending waves of pain to every part of his brain. Adam grinned nastily down at him, taking a perverse pleasure out of seeing his friend's suffering. The Elder did not like the idea of telling these people, or anyone, about Immortals.
During this interchange, Giles and the kids including a groggy but awake Willow had wandered over to join the rest of them. Mulder had left Buffy and Angel alone to their grief as the memories of the horrors of the past week or in Angel's case, the past few months returned with a vengeance. The two re-souled vampires were curled up together against a wall, crying in their shared despair.
The others were all gathered around Adam Pierson, waiting curiously for his explanation of how he and MacLeod had healed themselves. Yielding under their intense stares, the oldest man in the world sighed heavily. "We're Immortal." He stated the fact clearly and with finality, wishing that could just be the end of it but knowing that was impossible.
Someone snorted in response, probably one of the teenagers. Ignoring the intrusion, Giles couldn't help but ask the man he thought he'd known, "What do you mean, 'Immortal'?"
"It's actually kind of a misnomer, really. We can die, just not unless our heads are cut off. Otherwise, we'll just heal and wake up from whatever wounds we suffer, no matter how bad. MacLeod's knee should be just about back to normal by now."
Pulling himself to a sitting position, and shoving away Scully's hand reflexively reached to restrain him, MacLeod verified that, yes, indeed his knee had healed.
"See? We're fine. A little sore perhaps, but that'll ease off in a while." He shrugged, acting as if this were a normal if not often occurrence. "Trust me, we've lived with this for centuries. We'll be okay."
"Just how old are you?" Scully, of all people, asked first. Seems the skeptic had finally seen enough to start accepting without questioning.
Adam hesitated. Admitting his age, and thus his true identity, was not an easy thing for him. Even his friends rarely found out until they had to, as had happened with Joe Dawson. The North American Regional Watcher Head had been his friend for years, but Adam had not confessed his identity to him until the blues man sent MacLeod to him for help against the crazed Immortal, Kalas.
Feeling sympathy for his old friend, especially knowing how important the man's secrecy was to him, Duncan took the spotlight away from Adam by answering first. "I'm about four hundred years old, Agent Scully. Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1592, at your service," he announced proudly, and semi-formally. Obviously, it was an introduction he was quite familiar with saying. Scully had the feeling that if he'd been able, he would have finished off with a slight bow as well.
Considering everything they'd just been through, everyone took this added shock without much outward display. Some of them had seen enough lately that they doubted anything would ever surprise them again. They just turned their gaze over to Adam next, waiting to hear how old he was.
"I'm... older," Adam improvised at the last second. He just did not feel comfortable betraying his age or his identity no matter how much he claimed to trust these people.
Duncan cocked an eyebrow at him, but said nothing. The others watched the exchange in silence, wondering what it was all about but not willing to ask.
Adam glared, but relented. "Alright, I'm the oldest. Happy now?"
"I didn't say anything, Old Man!" MacLeod answered defensively to his friend's accusing glare. "But taking into account everything we've all just been through together, I think it's safe to say you can trust them to protect your secret as well. Besides, what would they want with your Quickening?" he argued.
"What's a 'Quickening'?" interrupted one of the teenagers, Willow this time. Oz was still carrying her, and she was still weak. But this conversation fascinated her enough to fight off her exhaustion. Mulder respected her for that, and felt much the same way. This day was just turning out to be one of the most eventful days of his life. He loved it!
"An Immortal's life-force, his power," a new voice added from behind the group. No one had noticed Angel and Buffy approaching them, and more than one person jumped when Angel spoke.
Answering Adam and MacLeod's questioning glances, the oldest recently re-souled vampire responded. "I've met a couple of you before. Caught the light show. Nice gig you guys got going, by the way." He angled his head toward their swords, still resting beside their owners.
"Who'd you meet?" Mac wondered curiously. Not at all surprised that he was calmly talking with the same creature that had tried to rip him apart not even an hour ago. With their souls returned, these two vampires weren't half as frightening.
"I think you might know him, actually. I hadn't realized it earlier, wasn't exactly thinking along the lines of Immortals then though, so that's understandable. His name was Connor MacLeod. Friend of yours?"
Duncan's jaw dropped, and even Adam seemed taken aback. Then the Eldest chuckled, repeating the long standing joke Connor had started centuries ago. "'Same clan, different vintage.'"
Duncan smiled. "Connor's my teacher, and my oldest friend. If he told you about Immortals, he must have trusted you enough to keep it secret."
Angel nodded. "He did. This all happened in Maine just after the turn of the century. I'd been cursed originally for only a few years and was still trying to work out who I was. I was hunting in the woods one night, and ran across two guys dueling with swords. I watched. Connor won, and decapitated his opponent's head." Angel cringed in remembered sympathy, decapitation killed vampires too. "Next thing I know, the forest lit up when a freak lightening storm suddenly rose and centered on the surviving combatant. Nearly blinded me," he muttered with a smile, not at all bothered by the experience. "I confronted him after the winds died down, and he explained. We became friends, and hung out together for a few weeks. He really helped me adjust to my guilty conscience, though he never knew he was doing it. We separated without him ever having found out I was a vampire."
Leveling his gaze at Adam then, he revealed his suspicions. "For nights on end, Connor would tell me stories about the different Immortals he knew or had heard about. Including the myth about the legendary five thousand year old Immortal, eldest of your kind, Methos." His expression was as much question as it was a statement.
"Bloody Highlanders. Big-mouthed Boy Scouts, all of 'em!" Adam, a.k.a. Methos, grumbled good-naturedly. The Gods were evidently against him keeping his identity secret, so he might as well go along with it, he thought.
"Hey!" Duncan punched Methos in the shoulder indignantly. As the only Highlander present, he felt it his duty to get retribution for the Old Man's crack at his honor.
Giles was having a little trouble comprehending Adam's, er Methos', age. "You're five thousand?!"
"Or somewhere thereabouts, give or take a century. I'm not really sure. I don't remember much of my early years. But that's the best estimation I can come up with," he shrugged in reply.
They talked for a few more hours, Methos and MacLeod explaining the basics of Immortals and the Game to their intrigued listeners. Buffy and Angel expressed their deep sorrow to everyone for what they'd done, to which everyone basically accepted the apologies with a smile. Giles was a little more reserved, since Angel had murdered the one woman he loved his sweet Jenny, but understood that they weren't in control of their actions and reluctantly forgave them. He'd never forget, none of them ever would, but they could move on.
Eventually someone must have checked the time, because it became apparent that it was nearly sunrise. The library was still a mess, but Giles decided he'd just close it for the school day tomorrow. (Not like anyone but those present ever entered its domain anyway.) Saying their goodbyes, everyone parted for the night. Giles' offered Adam, who he now forced himself to think of as Methos, his couch to sleep on since the man hadn't had time to get a hotel room. MacLeod went back to Buffy's former home, with a letter from the female vampire to give to her mother, Joyce, in his pocket. Mulder and Scully went back to their motel with heads full of new experiences and unspoken understanding not to mention any of it in their official report. Oz took Willow home in his van, while Cordy gave Xander a ride with her.
And alone, souls and friendships firmly reinstated, Angel and Buffy went back to their loft to begin their undead lives anew.
Starship U.S.S. Enterprise 2370
She and Angel had been together ever since, and their undeaths had been happier because of it. They didn't even have to worry about the curse ever breaking again because of a Binding Ritual Methos had discovered in the months afterwards. (It sealed their humanity with their hearts, never to be separated again as long as they loved. Which both were intent on making forever.) Over the course of the centuries, the two vampires had kept in touch with their Immortal friends even meeting a few other friendly and not so friendly Immortals as well.
They'd been there to see their friends graduate first high school then college, watching from blacked-out cars or shadowy crevasses. They'd cheered when Scully was promoted to Assistant Director of the FBI, and partied with Mulder when he'd finally found his long-lost sister. And they'd cried as each of their mortal friends gradually grew old and passed away.
But that hadn't been the end, there have been more friends and more enemies since then. Buffy and Angel travelled the four centuries together, every step of the way. Through war and peace, love and hate, the vampires survived it all. As they would continue to survive for eternity.
Red Alert! Red Alert! Battle Stations! All hands brace for impact!
However long it lasted.
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