Los Angelus, summer of
Absently, Tara moved the food around
the plate with her fork as she waited for Adam to get off the cell
phone. They had arrived in L.A. less than two hours ago and they'd
already run out of leads.
The first place they had checked
was Angel Investigations. Luckily, they were listed in the phonebook
as Tara didn't know the address. But, as they pulled up in front of
the building, Tara realised she'd just used up her luck quota for
the day. A 'For Rent' sign was taped to one of the windows.
"It seems your vampire has closed up shop," Adam had said,
reading the sign. "Do you have any idea where we should look next?"
"No…I didn't know him very well…I met him only once, at
"Hmm…watch the street, would you?"
Puzzled, Tara had turned to watch the passers-by, only to hear a
sharp click a moment later. She glanced over her shoulder and found
Adam slipping in through the now open door. "Stay here, I'll have a
quick look around and see what I can find."
He had found
nothing; the place had been swept clean of Angel's presence. So now
she sat in the restaurant of a Hotel, playing with her food as Adam
made a few phone calls. She wasn't sure what he expected to find,
but Adam had insisted that everyone left a paper trail - even an
Tara wondered what else had changed over
the last year, her mind dwelling on the crater that was once
Sunnydale. They were alive…she was alive…she'd know if Willow was
dead, wouldn't she? Sighing, Tara admitted to herself she wouldn't.
Like her magic, her ability to sense her lover's wellbeing had been
severely affected by her first death. The power was still there, she
could feel it if she concentrated; but her ability to tap into it
had disappeared as surely as her previous life. It was if her inner
pathways had been realigned when she died and they now flowed in a
She had once cautiously breached the
subject with Adam, careful not to go into too much detail about her
previous powers. She had swiftly found out that, although Adam could
accept the idea of vampires existing, he was very sceptical about
her insistence that other demonic creatures existed as well. And
when she brought up the Hellmouth…well, he stopped laughing
Surprisingly, after a lot of humming and hawing;
Adam had eventually admitted they were a few immortals who could be
termed as witches. Excited, she had questioned him but quickly found
out that Adam's idea of what a witch could do and hers were vastly
different. Nevertheless, she kept on prodding him for information;
who were they, did he know him?
Tara's heart had sunk as she
saw the shutters go down on his face. "I've met three that I've
known of" he muttered distantly. "One I don't get on with, the other
Seeing the flash of pain in his eyes, Tara
decided to drop the subject.
But she had continued to
investigate the problem without Adam; turning to his friend, Joe,
for help. She swiftly found out a few things she wish she hadn't.
She found out about Cassandra. She knew Joe had left out a lot of
the details, and he had been suspiciously vague about when Cassandra
and Adam first met, but he did give her the general gist of the
story. It was then she realised Adam had been less than forthcoming
about his past. She had her suspicions before, of course; but never
in her wildest dreams would she have guessed the scope of his
deception. One thing was for sure, he was a lot older than the two
centuries he had admitted to.
Needless to say, Joe's
revelations had left her shaken. Even Joe's censored version made a
horrific tale. Adam could sometimes be a little cold and unfeeling,
but never in a million years would she have guessed he was capable
of such an evil act. It definitely caused her to examine Adam's
cynical and pragmatic nature more closely. This was the man who was
her teacher, could she trust him?
Not for the first time,
Tara had questioned her decision to leave Sunnydale with Adam. Who
was this man in whom she had entrusted her life? Every time she
thought she'd him figured out, he said something which made her
realise he was a stranger to her; and now this… Quickly she had gone
over her options. The first thing that had sprung to mind was
confronting him and demanding the truth, but she had spent enough
time with Adam to know he wouldn't react very favourably. With a
sigh, she had come to the conclusion she was more than a little
afraid of her teacher.
Tara smiled ruefully as she
remembered those few days. By the time Amanda had arrived in town,
she was ready to pack her bags and flee to Sunnydale; her fear of
Willow's reaction to her newfound immortality momentarily overridden
by the disturbing new revelations about her teacher. Even now she
wondered if she should have; at least would have been at Willow's
side when whatever happened…happened.
But she hadn't of
course. Instead, Amanda had swept into town and, seeing Tara's
distraught state, took her out for lunch.
"So…are you going
to tell me what's on your mind, or shall I have to pry it out of
you?" Amanda had asked as their plates were cleared away and coffee
was placed on the table.
"Oh…it's nothing, just wondering
about things in general."
"Adam giving you a hard time?"
Amanda had asked astutely, "Don't worry, dear; his bite is worse
than his bite. You just need to learn to stand up for yourself a bit
And then it all poured out. She had told Amanda
everything. About Willow, about Sunnydale, about how she wasn't sure
if she made the right decision when she left. She even ended up
telling her about her conversations with Adam and Joe. She also told
her about Cassandra.
"Aaaah," Amanda had sighed knowingly.
"I see. Well, darling, I don't know what to say except that was then
and this is now. People change, Tara, immortals change. The Adam you
know and the Adam Cassandra knew are two different people. I'll tell
you a little secret, I am over a thousand years old; and the person
I am now bears very little resemblance to the young woman I was when
I met my first death. An immortal changes with the centuries, they
have to in order to survive; it's as simple as that."
recalled with amusement her stunned reaction to Amanda's age. She
had known Amanda was a lot older than she looked; she was an
immortal after all - but a thousand years. "How old is Adam," she
had blurted out unthinkingly.
Amanda had smiled knowingly,
her voice filled with gentle reproof. "That is for Adam to tell you,
not I, Tara."
Taking the hint, Tara had changed the subject.
"I don't suppose you know anything about immortal witches?"
she had asked wistfully, not really expecting an affirmative answer.
She was pleasantly surprised.
"As a matter of fact, I do." A
sad smile lit up Amanda's face as she spoke. "Her name was Rebecca
and she was my teacher…" In a soft voice, Amanda had told Tara about
her teacher; about Rebecca's life, her death, the Methuselah stone
and, because one thing always leads to another, Amanda told her
As Amanda explained about Alexa's illness and
Adam's last, desperate bid to save her life, Tara began to realise
what Amanda had meant when she said Adam was now a very different
person to the man Cassandra knew. Which was what Amanda intended, of
course; Tara had seen the watchful look in her eyes as she spoke.
But it didn't matter because, as Amanda told her more and more about
those faithful few days, Tara began to understand; for all Adam's
faults; he was still very, very human…
"Earth calling Tara
"Huh?" Glancing up from plate, Tara caught the
amused glint in Adam's eyes.
"Are you worried there might be
something hiding under those carrots?" he asked teasingly, "Your
errant vampire, perhaps?"
"Nah, not Angel's style," she said
lightly, "Personally, I suspect he's lurking in the coffee pot;
somewhere nice and dark to brood…"
Adam quirked an eyebrow,
"Is this brooding thing habitual?" he asked as he poured a cup from
the aforementioned coffee pot. "Because I have to tell you; the more
you tell me about this guy, the more I'm beginning to suspect Mac is
leading a double life."
Tara grinned; she had never met
Duncan MacLeod but between what Adam, Joe and Amanda had said, she
had formed a clear picture in her mind of what he was like. "Let's
put it this way," she said, "My friend Xander used to call him
'brood-boy - when he wasn't busy calling him dead-boy, of course!"
"Oh lovely," Adam grumbled, "I can't wait to meet him. I can
already feel the angst ridden atmosphere. Tell me, have you ever
heard of a law firm called Wolfram and Hart?"
have you found out?" asked Tara, sitting bolt upright in her chair.
"Have they hurt Angel? Is he okay? Oh goddess, have they killed
"And from that, I will presume you have," Adam said
dryly, "Relax, he's okay. But, from you've just said, I'm not sure
if this is such a good thing."
Puzzled, Tara frowned
worriedly. "What do you mean?"
"Well…according to my
sources, Angel Investigations pulled up stakes a couple of weeks ago
and moved into Wolfram and Hart. Your vampire friend is now the CEO
of their L.A. branch."
"That's impossible," Tara gasped,
"Wolfram and Hart are evil, he would never…oh."
prompted. "What is it you're not telling me, Tara?"
soul, he must have lost his soul," Tara said softly, her mind
reeling with what that might mean. Shuddering, she remembered what
Willow had told her about the last time he'd lost his soul; it
wasn't pretty. If Angelus was back, things could get very nasty. Did
he have something to do with what happened at Sunnydale? Tara felt a
cold ball of anger rise inside her, "If he's touched one hair on
"How on earth could someone lose a soul?"
Adam demanded incredulously, "It's not as if he could leave it
behind him on a bus…or could he?"
Tara sighed; she had
deliberately played down certain aspects of her previous life once
she'd realised Adam wasn't too enamoured with her tales of the
supernatural. After the little incident when she described the
Hellmouth, she began to censor what she told him. But because Adam
knew of the existence of vampires, she saw no harm in telling him
about Angel and his uniqueness among the undead; that he was the
only vampire who had a soul. With some difficulty, he had wrapped
his mind around the idea of a vampire with a conscience;
begrudgingly taking her at her word when she insisted it was true.
"Well, I suppose there is always one to disprove the rule," he had
Tara hadn't been able to summon the courage to
tell him there was a little bit more to the story That would mean
explaining the gypsy curse and she was more than slightly convinced
that Adam was humouring her half the time. She had once overheard
him speaking to Joe on the phone, voicing aloud his worries about
her mental state.
"Sometimes I don't think she's all there,
Joe," he had said, "I think her experiences in that blasted town
have left her with some severe psychological problems. You should
have seen the place; it was practically overrun with vampires…"
There was a short pause as Adam listened to Joe on the other end.
"No, Joe, just because they are vampires, it does not necessarily
follow there are demons and Hellmouths too!" Having heard enough,
Tara had quietly shut her bedroom door.
Now, as Adam stared
at expectantly, she wondered where to start. "It was a curse," she
said haltingly. "He killed a gypsy in the nineteenth century and her
tribe cursed him with a soul so he would suffer with a guilty
"Okaaay," Adam drawled as he slouched back in
his chair and folded his arms, "You've got my attention, what else?"
"The curse had a clause," Tara explained, "One moment of
perfect happiness and puff, no more soul."
you're thinking Angel has been a very happy boy recently," Adam
Tara nodded silently
do you want to do now?" he asked.
"I still want to see him,"
Tara admitted, "It'll be dangerous but he's our only lead."
Are you sure you want to do this, Tara?" Adam asked gently.
"You can change your mind anytime you want, you know. All you have
to do is say the word and I'll book the first flight out of here."
Tara smiled sadly. She knew what Adam was really asking; did
she really want to know what had happened to Willow and the others.
"Yes, I'm sure," she assured him.
"Right, then," Adam
muttered. "Well, their offices will be closed by now so we'll wait
until morning. It'll probably be for the best, anyway; daylight will
give us an advantage."
Tara sincerely doubted it, Willows
description of Angelus still burned in her mind. "Um, I did mention
he was a master vampire, didn't I?" she said.
exactly, is a master vampire when it's at home?" Adam asked
impatiently. "Don't tell me he's able to turn himself into a bat or
"Oh no," Tara said hastily, "That's a myth -
well, sort of a myth. Willow told me she once saw Dracula do it -
but Angel can't do anything like that. When I say he's a master, I
mean he's older, stronger and smarter than the usual vampire…oh, and
he'll probably have minions. We'll need stakes and crosses…and lots
of holy water…" her voice trailed off as she saw the expression on
Adam's face. "What?"
"Dracula," he asked, his face a picture
"Don't ask," Tara sighed. "It's a long story."
Muttering something undistinguishable under his breath, Adam
got to his feet. "I'm going to get some air," he murmured. "I'll be
back in a few hours."
Tara watched silently as he stalked
out of the room, a rueful twist to her smile. She should have seen
that coming. Adam had taken a lot of these 'walks' since they'd met.
Signing the bill for the meal, she stood; she'd wait for him
upstairs. Hopefully, he will have cooled down enough to listen when
Paris, Summer of 2002
"What do you
mean he's gone?" Methos hissed, glaring at Amanda as she draped
herself on the barge's couch.
Amanda shrugged. "I mean he's
gone, Adam" she drawled. "As in absent, away, not here
- aren't you going to introduce me to your new friend?"
Methos looked over his shoulder and saw Tara still standing
in the doorway. "It's safe to come in, Tara," he said, waving her
in, "This is Amanda, an old friend of Duncan's."
young woman stepped into the Barges main living area and Amanda got
her feet, flashing a warm smile. "How do you do, Tara; my name is
Amanda Darieux," she said, taking Tara's suitcase from her hands.
"Take a seat; you must be tired after your long
Methos glared at Amanda suspiciously. "How did you
know her journey was long?" he demanded. "I haven't even told you
where I was."
"Joe phoned me," Amanda said simply. "Or
should I say he phoned Duncan and got me instead."
him not to do that," Methos said irritably.
"Well, maybe he
felt it wasn't fair to let you shanghai Duncan like that," Amanda
said with a shrug. "Its all academic now, he's not here."
Methos threw himself onto the couch and irritably gestured
at a seat as he noticed Tara hovering at the edge of the room. She
perched on the edge of an armchair and quietly looked around, her
intelligent eyes taking everything in. Turning his attention to
Amanda, he frowned as he saw her poking her head into the fridge;
surely she wasn't about to attempt to cook? He breathed a sigh of
relief as she pulled out three bottles of beer from the fridge; a
narrow escape from Amanda's cooking skills - most of her concoctions
ended up stuck to the bottom of the pan. As she rooted around for
the bottle opener in a drawer, Methos found himself wondering what
the hell she was doing here. The last he'd heard, she was running a
club in Canada; where was it again? Toronto, Quebec,
A bottle slid into view and Methos grabbed it out
of Amanda's hand. "What are you doing in Paris, Amanda?" he asked
before taking a swig.
"I felt the need to see the city
again," she murmured, handing Tara a bottle before taking a seat
beside Methos on the couch.
Methos smirked. "You mean you
felt the need to see Duncan again," he corrected, "Who's after you
"What makes you think…"
comes after night and water is wet, Amanda," he murmured, sarcasm
dripping off every word. "Who is it?"
"It's not an immortal,
if that's what you're thinking," she said with a sigh, "Just your
normal, mundane hood."
"He can't be that mundane if you left
the country to avoid him," Methos pointed out.
"What can I
say, he has a mean streak," Amanda admitted. "I thought it would be
a good idea to disappear for a few weeks while the local police take
care of him….I've a friend on the force."
said, raising an eyebrow.
"It can be," she said with a
shrug. "So…how's life? I see you've acquired a
"She's not my student, " Methos interjected
quickly. "I'm just….keeping an eye on her until I find someone
willing to teach her."
"Like Duncan," Amanda concluded, "I
think you might be out of luck, Adam."
"Tell me about it,"
Methos muttered as he eyed Tara sitting in the armchair. She was
studiously pretending not to listen to their conversation as she
took a polite sip of her beer; smart kid. Sitting back in the couch,
he looked at Amanda speculatively…
"The answer is no," she
"I didn't ask a question," Methos protested.
"But you were going to!" she countered. "You found her,
she's your responsibility."
"Last time I looked, there were
only three rules to the game, Amanda. There wasn't a clause which
said 'Oh, by the way; if you come across any new immortals on your
travels, they're your problem'."
"I said responsibility, not
problem, and I don't see why you're making such a big deal about
this. She seems to be a nice, intelligent girl - aren't you,
Darling," she added, throwing Tara a wink, "It's not as if you have
a busy schedule, Adam. Taking on a student won't kill you!"
"I wouldn't bet on it!" Methos grumbled.
silent until now, cleared her throat. "I'll be fine by myself,
honest," she murmured, "I know you think I need a teacher but I
don't. I've been thinking about this on the flight here and I've
decided I'm not going to participate in the 'game'."
and Amanda sighed in unison. "I've already explained this to you,
Tara," Methos muttered. "You can't opt out of the game, its part of
being an immortal."
"I can't see why not," Tara protested,
"I mean, you said Holy ground was safe…"
The image of Darius'
dead body sprawled over the altar of his church rose in Methos'
mind. "Even Holy ground isn't totally safe, Tara; they're ways
around that rule. Trust me on this."
"But its murder," Tara
said, distress showing in her voice, "I don't think I could live
with that…and my friends…"
And there lay the true crux of the
problem, Methos realised; her friends. His mind flew back to their
discussion in the motel in Sunnydale. At first, Tara had insisted
she should go home; saying that her friends would take her
immortality in their stride. They had seen stranger things in their
life, after all. But when he explained the mechanics of the game,
she suddenly fell silent. Without a word of protest, she quietly
accompanied him to L.A. and, after he had acquired a false passport
for her, onto Paris. Now, for the first time, he gained an insight
into her sudden change of mind. She didn't think her friends would
have a problem with her immortality, but she did think her friends
would have a problem with her being a murderer.
nudged him discreetly, "Say something," she whispered under her
And, at that moment, Methos knew he was doomed.
Whether he liked it or not, he had just acquired a student.
"I'm going for a walk," he said abruptly.
L.A., Summer of 2003BR>
Once out of
Tara's line of sight, Methos made a beeline for the lift. He fully
intended to leave the hotel for a few hours, but not without his
laptop. Hurriedly, he stabbed at the button and shuffled his feet
impatiently as he waited for the lift to arrive. After what seemed
an age, the doors eventually opened and Methos slipped inside.
Mercifully, the elevator was empty so he didn't have to bother
holding in the tirade going on his mind. "This is it, old man," he
muttered, as he pressed his floor's number. "The moment you were
avoiding for the last year. I knew we should have stayed in Paris."
Cursing under his breath, he stepped onto his floor and hurried to
his room. He knew Tara wouldn't linger in the restaurant and he
didn't want to see her until he was ready. He needed a few hours to
Grabbing his laptop, he rushed to the elevator and
cursed once again when he noticed it was on its way up from the
ground floor. Knowing his luck, Tara was probably in it; if he
didn't move quickly, she would sense his presence. Not stopping to
think twice, he ran to the stairs and took them two at a time.
It was with a breath of relief he stepped onto the pavement
outside; at last, a moment alone to gather his thoughts. Weaving his
way through the pedestrian traffic, he searched for a place to grab
a quiet beer. He eventually spotted the perfect spot a few blocks
from the hotel; a little pub called McGovern's. Stepping inside, he
let his eyes adjust to the dimmed light and, seeing that all the
tables were taken, made his way to the bar. Taking a stool, he
ordered a Guinness and opened his laptop. Connecting it to his
mobile, he typed his enquiry into the search engine and pressed
They were 278 entries.
Ah well, he supposed
he should start with the official website. Clicking the link, he
scrolled down Wolfram and Hart's homepage. Near the bottom, there
was a small paragraph detailing how their L.A. office was under new
management. Alongside it was a small photo of a serious but looking
young man staring confidently at the lens. A quick glance at the
photo's caption confirmed his suspicions. This was Angel.
the end of the paragraph there was another link and, with a quick
click, he followed it. A new page opened up on screen and Methos
found himself staring at yet another photo of the vampire, this time
flanked by a number of other people. The young man certainly wasn't
camera shy. He scanned the caption under the picture and quirked an
eyebrow as he recognised one of the names. Tara had mentioned a
Wesley Wyndham Price when they were discussing Angel Investigations
earlier. Quickly, Methos examined the photo again, his eyes shying
away from the green skinned creature standing to Angel's left; one
supernatural entity at a time, than you very much.
he scrolled down the page. Apparently the new management were taking
the L.A. branch in a whole new direction; how delightful. Cynically,
he read the contents as he recalled what Tara had told him. He
didn't know what to believe; perhaps things weren't as black and
white as she thought. Again, he looked at the photo. If he'd lost
his soul, as Tara believed, it would explain his sudden turn to the
dark side, but it didn't explain why Wesley Price had joined
him…maybe he'd been turned. Would that be the sort of thing a
soul-free Angel would do? And what exactly was so evil about Wolfram
and Hart anyway? He knew it was a law form…but still.
Frowning, he took a sip of his beer and looked at the search
engine's page once more. Scanning the list of sites, he eventually
settled on one entitled 'The Wolf and the Hart: Enter the Darkness'.
It took him a matter of moments to realise he had stumbled across a
conspiracy buff. Some of the stories bordered on the crazed. The
claim L.A. had spent a week under darkness, for instance; if
something like that had actually happened, surely it would have been
all over the international papers…
On impulse, he did a quick
search on sun eclipses in California, and his eyebrows rose in
disbelief as the page filled up with hundreds of entries. Uneasily,
he sifted through them. Some of entries were personal web pages,
some of them were online journals; but all of them spoke of the week
the sun went dark in Los Angelus. There were also a number of
disturbing references to a woman called Jasmine.
What had he
gotten himself into?
Closing his laptop, he finished off his
pint and left the money on the counter. For the last year, he had
avoided talking to Tara about her past. Partly because he thought it
wasn't a good idea encouraging her to dwell on her life before her
first death, and partly because he wasn't sure he'd like what he
would hear. Now, he wondered if that had been such a good idea.
He shook his head as he remembered the little she had told
him about her life in Sunnydale. Some of the stories had been so
outrageous he hadn't known what to think. At first, he'd believed
the trauma of her first death had seriously unhinged her mind. But,
as he spent more time with her, he revised his theory. Tara was
probably one of the most well adjusted people he'd ever met. She was
a little on the shy side, but that was hardly a sign of insanity.
As Methos walked down the street, his mind flitted back to
his visit to Sunnydale. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't quite
forget the unearthly scene he had witnessed on Sunnydale's high
street. The black clad figure levitating in mid-air as she toyed
with the local police constabulary. He had tried to dismiss the
incident as smoke and mirrors, an illusion like those Cassandra was
so good at; it didn't work.
It seemed, after five thousand
years, they were still a few things he didn't know. He wasn't sure
how he felt about that. He thought of Mac, and how he had lost his
student as a result of battling something he didn't understand; the
entity that called itself a demon, Ahriman. Then, too, he had
questioned his friend's sanity rather than believe what he had said.
Now he found himself questioning why he so stubbornly held onto his
Methos sighed; Duncan would have been the perfect
teacher for Tara. Not only did they have a similar ethical outlook,
but he also had a lot more patience and sympathy for a new
immortal's plight. His own first death was so far in the past, he
only had a vague recollection of his mortal life. Methos could teach
Tara one end of the sword from the other, but he couldn't instil in
Tara the willingness to kill in order to survive. The concept of the
game horrified Tara, her gentle nature repelled by the idea of
chopping someone's head off. And it only got worse when he
eventually described to her a quickening. Try as he might, he
couldn't convince her that a quickening wasn't the immortal's
equivalent of a soul. She had once, in a fit of pique, described
immortals as a race of soul eaters. The thing is, he wasn't so sure
he disagreed with her; it just didn't bother him as much as she
thought it should.
Looking up, he found he'd arrived at the
hotel. Squaring his shoulders, he stepped into the lobby and made
his way up to the suite. He felt her presence even before he exited
the elevator. Tara wouldn't sense him until he reached the door, it
was one of the few advantages of being old; he could always sense
them coming first - not that he would admit it. Letting himself in,
he saw Tara calmly reading a book on the couch. She quietly laid the
book aside and Methos glanced at the cover - 'A hundred years of
solitude'. His lips quirked; sometimes Tara displayed a twisted
sense of humour. "We need to talk," she murmured quietly, fixing him
with her large, serious eyes.
"That's putting it mildly," he
said lightly, heading for the mini-bar.
"You drink too
much," she observed as he pulled a beer from the fridge.
Methos shrugged. "I can never drink too much," he declared
as he sprawled in an armchair, "One of the many disadvantages of
being an immortal. The best I can hope for is a slight buzz."
"I don't seem to have that problem," Tara said, throwing him
a puzzled look.
"Wait a few years," he advised, "You'll find
out what I mean if you live long enough."
Tara shrugged his
words away. "I need to tell you about my life in Sunnydale," she
said, "All of it. Otherwise you won't be prepared for what you will
find at Wolfram and Hart."
"I'm all ears," Methos drawled,
cradling the bottle in his hands.
"You're not going to like
"I didn't think I would, Tara," he said. "But you're
right, I need to know everything. I've put off this moment long
A flash of surprise crossed Tara's face and Methos
smiled grimly as she sat forward in the couch. "Well, it all started
during my first year in college…"
The story began.
BACK : NEXT
FICTION : BUFFY/ANGEL
FICTION : CROSSOVER
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