Part 27: Realizations
Didn’t think I’d be doing this (as I promised no OCs in this story), but: Doctor Athanor Rubedo is my creation (he just popped up, fully formed!). If you want to use him for a story of your own, go ahead, just let me know you have and where the story is so I can put a link to it on my personal website.
“About bloody time,” Spike quietly exclaimed from his seat beside the sleeping Dawn in her hospital room, which thankfully had no other patient in it but the young Slayer. “What took you lot so long?”
Methos had just walked into the room with Giles. They had been following Buffy and Angel, whom had been anxious to get to their daughter for the past four hours. Thus, the Immortal watched in faint amusement as the souled vampire glared at the other vampire as Buffy answered in exasperation, saying, “We’d have been here sooner, but Child Services got a hold of us and kept asking us question after question, and wouldn’t let us come see Dawn! I was about ready to punch
one of them,” was the finishing sentence, which came out in a near growl.
There was a momentary pause as everyone looked at the elder Slayer for the sheer vehemence in her voice, before Angel asked Spike, “How is she?”
“Sleeping at the moment,” the younger vampire answered bluntly. “She took quite a beating by whatever got a hold of her. The cemetery I found her in was nothing but rubble.” Spike’s tone then became angry and demanding as he said, “Speaking of which: What the bloody ‘ell was she doing out there at that time of night with no one watching her?!”
“We didn’t know she was out there,” Buffy snapped back. “We thought she was in bed!”
“Well, then, maybe you should’ve been keeping a closer eye on her, or were you too busy shagging Peaches to notice anything else? I could smell the sex on you two before you even stepped in here,” Spike sneered.
Buffy shrieked as she lunged towards the soulless vampire. But before she could reach him, Methos and Angel simultaneously locked their arms around the Slayer and held her back.
Spike merely gave the eldest Slayer the British two-fingered salute in response.
Methos shook his head at that, and grimaced as he lost his grip. As he quietly cursed while Buffy struggled against Angel’s vice-like hold and avoided him grabbing her again, the Immortal heard a voice mumble painfully, “Will you guys keep it down? I don’t feel too good here.”
Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing, before scrambling to stand around Dawn’s bed. As Methos settled at the foot of the bed, he noticed that the girl’s eyes were just barely open, which said to his medical trained eyes that she had to be in considerable pain. Either that or she was faking it pretty convincingly. He thought it was a bit of both, considering she’s a Slayer, but was badly injured by a powerful demon from what he understood from the phone call he had received earlier. Either way, a good dose of painkiller would no doubt help.
Giles had just asked Dawn from where he stood to one side of the young Slayer how she felt, when there was a discreet cough and knock at the doorway to the room. Everyone turned to see a man in his mid-fifties that looked like he was descended from those who came from the Middle East wearing a doctor’s outfit. With a genial nod, he spoke as he stepped fully into the room, “Hello, my name’s Doctor Athanor Rubedo. I am Ms. Summers’ primary doctor at this time. I was just told that Ms. Summers’ family was finally allowed to come. Who here is Mr. and Mrs. Summers?”
“That’d be us,” Buffy answered from where she sat on the end of Dawn’s bed as she gestured to herself and Angel, who stood beside her.
Smiling, Dr. Rubedo shook their hands while saying, “A pleasure to meet you.” He then looked beyond them to Dawn, and commented, then asked, “And it seems my patient is awake. If everyone can clear themselves from around the bed so I can give her a quick look over?”
After those that were standing had shuffled off to the unoccupied side of the room, the doctor quickly took a look at the medical chart in his hands, then put it down on a nearby table. Stepping over to Dawn’s side, he smiled reassuringly, and said in a light conversational tone, “Hello, there, Ms. Summers. I have a question for you: do you want me to keep referring to you as I have, or as Dawn?”
Opening her eyes a little wider, the young Slayer looked at the doctor, before mumbling, “Dawn, please.”
“Great! Now, Dawn, could you open your eyes all the way? I need to shine my light in them to test their reactions. I know you won’t really like it, but it’s got to be done.”
Groaning a little, Dawn opened her eyes fully, then tried to squint at the same time. Chuckling, Dr. Rubedo took out a penlight, bent closer to his patient’s face, and began moving the now lit light between her eyes. After a minute, he put the light away, then raised his hand with three fingers up before her eyes and asked how many fingers she saw. The answer given was correct, which pleased the doctor. He studied Dawn’s face for a moment with a frown, before reaching forward to carefully turn the girl’s face from side to side, allowing the teenager to close her eyes again in the process. He then prodded the lump on the side of her head as gently-yet-firmly as he could. The young Slayer couldn’t suppress a wince at that.
Making one of those doctor-type hums that could mean either good or
bad news, he stood back up, and said, “Well, Dawn, it looks like your concussion is much better than when it was last checked on, and that bump on your head should be gone in two days at most. Your bruises are also healing at a phenomenal rate, and should not even be evident by tomorrow morning, from what I can tell.”
Methos watched out of the corner of his eye as Buffy shifted with sudden unease, while Giles pulled off his glasses and polished them, muttering softly, “Oh, dear,” as Watcher and Slayer realized something that he had already understood before he even left his hotel today:
An injured Slayer was being checked over by a professional doctor...and they were going to have to do damage control. Near the back of the room, he could see Angel was tense, and was ready to do whatever needed to be done, having come to that conclusion himself.
The doctor was still talking, as he said, “Now, normally, if I see injuries as extensive as yours were when you came in, I would have ordered two-to-three days’ hospital stay as well as recommending you or your guardians to file a police report. But considering how fast you are healing, I think something else should be done instead. Don’t you agree?”
By this time Dr. Rubedo had turned from Dawn, who bore a distinct impression of a deer caught in the light of an oncoming car, to gaze steadily at Buffy with one eyebrow raised.
For a moment, silence, then the eldest Slayer said in a voice that was slightly higher pitched than normal, “Well, we Summers’ tend to heal a little faster than normal.”
Again, the doctor hummed as he crossed his arms in front of himself.
At that, Buffy’s eyes widened, and she said hurriedly, “Ok, a lot
faster than normal.”
The other eyebrow joined the first.
With a barely heard whimper, the Slayer turned to Giles with an expression that clearly screamed: help me!
Giles cleared his throat as he carefully put his glasses back on and just as he began to stutter out an excuse, stopped. This caused Buffy to turn back to the doctor, and stare with a start. Methos suppressed a laugh, having caught on to what was happening halfway through the excuses.
A faint, knowing smile now resided on Dr. Rubedo’s face as he held out one hand in a gesture to stop the conversation further. He said, “Peace, Mrs. Summers, and you as well, sirs. I am aware of your group and what you do for this town. I will not reveal your secrets, nor draw unwanted attention to them.”
Wearing a particularly dumbfounded expression, Buffy gawked, before getting out, “Wha—?”
The doctor grinned, then explained, “My son was in your year, Mrs. Summers. Also, I come from a long line of Alchemists. I decided to become a doctor after I witnessed my father lose his eyesight in an experiment to fine tune a step in the Alchemy process. My skills have come in handy with my family’s inevitable injuries since then.”
“Oh,” came Buffy’s bewildered response to that. “Okay.”
Nodding, Dr. Rubedo then said in a more serious tone, “Now that we’ve got that out of the way, why don’t I explain what we’re going to do here so I can let you be? No doubt you have things you need to talk about.”
“Sounds good,” Angel replied from where he was now leaning casually against the sink counter.
“Wonderful,” the doctor stated, pleased, before grabbing Dawn’s medical chart, and quickly began writing. In a professional tone, he then said, “Due to Dawn’s rate of healing I’ll be able to release her from here at noon.” He paused in his writing, and pointed his pen at his patient, as he said in a stern tone of voice, “But
, I will only do this if you promise me that you’ll do no heavy physical activity for the rest of today and all of tomorrow. That wrist needs to finish healing before you can do anything with it, or it’ll have to be reset later with you actually wearing a cast for a week and not a splint for a few days, Miss.”
Methos watched as the young Slayer nodded vigorously in obvious understanding and agreement. No doubt she didn’t want to go through re-breaking her wrist again, nor wearing a restrictive cast which could not be easily removed. He saw as a moment later she stilled suddenly, looking very queasy. He wouldn’t be surprised if her concussion hadn’t decided to remind her of its presence once more.
It looked like Dr. Rubedo had thought the same thing as he commented, “It seems as though you need a bit of medicine for that head of yours. Let me just say a last few things, and I’ll take care of that for you.”
As the teenager smiled wanly in thanks, the doctor turned to Buffy, and said, “I am aware that Child Services was called in by one of the nurses when Dawn was brought in. I’m going to do what I can to get them to leave you alone. I’ll also do the same for the police. As for when Dawn is released from here, I’ll come by shortly before noon and run one last exam on her to see how she’s healing, and then she’ll be free to go. I won’t even ask for a follow-up visit, as I don’t think it’ll be necessary.”
The relief and gratitude on Buffy’s face was self-evident as she said, “That’s fantastic. Thank you!”
Dr. Rubedo nodded in understanding before walking out of the room. He came back only a moment later with a filled syringe. Walking over to Dawn’s IV stand, he quickly injected the medicine in the appropriate place along the tubing. Capping the now empty syringe and placing it in the hazardous waste container, he said, “Alright, Dawn, that pain killer will stop the pain you’re feeling, but won’t put you to sleep. If you start feeling discomfort again, use the call button to get the nurse.”
After Dawn mumbled her understanding while raising the head of her bed to be more comfortable, the doctor turned to the others in the room while she did this and held out his hand to shake their hands. Once that was done, he bid those there farewell, and left the room, closing the door as he did so.
Silence settled on the group for a time, then Buffy sighed heavily as she sat down on the unoccupied bed. The silence stretched further before the elder Slayer asked as she gazed wearily at her daughter, “Why, Dawn? Why did you go out there without someone with you when you know
there’s some super strong demon wandering around right now?” “What?”
was Spike’s shocked exclamation to Buffy’s words as he stood up from the seat he had been sitting in since their arrival, giving Dawn no chance to respond. “What the ‘ell are you talking about? You know what got her already?!”
Dawn scowled at Buffy, and pointed with her uninjured hand to the chipped vampire, and stated angrily, “That
is why I was out there. Spike doesn’t know anything
of what’s been going on since Quentin’s arrival here three days ago. Someone
needed to tell him, and I didn’t see anyone
about telling him!”
An uncomfortable silence descended as Angel, Buffy and Giles looked at each other, clearly at a loss for words. But, even though they might have no notion of what to say, another didn’t.
“What demon,” Spike growled out. “Do you even know what it is?”
“No,” Giles admitted, “at least not yet. Our information has been fairly limited. We are hoping that what Dawn can tell us will allow us to identify it.”
“Can you even assume it’s the same demon as the one you’re looking for,” the vampire asked. “This is the ‘ellmouth. You know what can be drawn to it.”
“Spike,” Dawn said quietly, drawing everyone’s attention to her, “it’s the same. It matched what we knew from two other attacks before this one.”
“What attacks,” Spike asked tautly. “I would’ve heard about it if it were demon-related.”
“That’s the thing, though,” Dawn said, “the attacks were done to humans, by someone who looks human. If it weren’t for her strength, speed, and some weird coloring, she could pass for human with no problem. Also, the first attack looked like gang in-fighting gone wrong, while the other seemed to be Tara having a relapse.”
“Red’s girl was hurt,” the vampire asked, his shock evident. He scowled and cursed at Dawn’s affirmative nod.
When nothing further was said, Angel asked Dawn to describe the demon for him, a sketchpad and pencil ready. While father and daughter were doing that, Buffy and Giles brought Spike up to speed, with Methos giving input from time to time. The four had just gotten around to speculating on what type of demon or part-demon it could be from what they currently knew when Dawn yelped in shock.
Everyone’s attention quickly returned to the teenager, who sat in her bed staring in fascinated awe at the paper in her hand.
“I’d forgotten how good you were,” was all the girl said.
When it looked like Dawn would just continue to gaze at what was in her hand, Buffy cleared her throat pointedly. Startled, the teenager looked at the group, blushed, and extended the paper towards them. Buffy took the paper, glanced at it, then passed it to Giles, who in turn gave it to Spike. After raising an eyebrow in appreciation, the vampire gave it to Methos. The ancient Immortal looked at it, and felt a shock ripple through him.
Even if the eyes and some of the facial features were somewhat different, he would recognize that face anywhere. Many years of close and intimate living would do that. Cassandra.
But how could this be possible? She wasn’t a demon, nor could an Immortal become
a demon. He could not figure it out. So lost did he become in thought, that Methos was barely aware of the conversation going on around him as he absently handed the picture back to Buffy.
“So, anything you can tell us about this demon that we don’t know already, Dawn,” Buffy asked as she took the drawing back, unaware of her fellow Immortal’s distracted state.
“Well,” Dawn said after a moment of contemplation as she chewed on her lower lip, “the demon doesn’t have blue hair. It’s actually brown with blue streaks in it...and blue splotches on the skin. It was really weird.”
“What about those eyes, Bit,” Spike inquired. “They don’t look normal in the drawing.”
Dawn’s expression grew somewhat excited, as she answered, “Oh, yeah! Those were freaky. They were bright blue.”
“Glowing, or just bright,” asked Giles for clarification.
“Bright,” was the answer, “kinda like someone threw acid on them, or something. There was no way they could be human eyes.”
“Was there anything you could pick up about its abilities, Dawn,” Angel asked.
Silence fell, before the young Slayer said slowly, “Yeah.” She looked seriously at Giles, Buffy and Angel, with a brief glance at the distracted Methos, then said, “Apparently she can sense Immortals...even those not Immortal yet.” The girl’s pointed look told the three of them that she knew what they had kept hidden from her, and that she wasn’t pleased.
“Crap,” was all that Buffy said in response, her voice sort of numb.
This made Dawn scowl darkly, before she said with a bit of heat in her voice, “Something you wanna tell me, Mom
? You know I hate secrets...especially
secrets that’re about me!”
“Why should I say it when you seem to already know,” was Buffy’s flippant-yet-bitter response.
“You know,” Dawn began with a cynical air as she crossed her arms in front of her, wincing when she accidentally jarred her broken wrist, “for a secret, this was a pretty lousy one. I’d already been wondering if I would be Immortal someday even before the demon told me.”
The elder Slayer threw up her arms at this and began to stalk out of the room when her younger counterpart barked out infuriated, “Don’t you dare walk out on me!”
Buffy whirled around to face her daughter, and said angrily, “What do you want me to say, huh? I wanted you to have as much of a normal life as possible! I didn’t want you to take risks without thinking there’d be no consequence. I don’t want you to have to deal with what I have to deal with now that I’m Immortal, on top of being a Slayer!”
“Well, maybe if you told
me this stuff before hand, I wouldn’t have to drag it out of you,” Dawn exclaimed. “Or even worse: learn about it when it’s too late! What do you think would’ve happened to me if that demon had killed me, and I didn’t know about being Immortal? Heck! What would have happened if I had jumped through that portal after all? Do you honestly want to play this game with me?”
An impenetrable silence descended with Dawn glaring furiously for all she was worth, while Buffy kept opening and closing her mouth, stunned, clearly trying to find something to say. It was into this that Spike spoke, saying, “Enough, you two. We’ve got bigger things to worry about right now.” He received a glare from both for this, which he ignored. “Dawn, was there anything else about this demon you can tell us? Perhaps what it’s after? I recall hearing that this demon’s looking for something, but not what that something is or even if it’s a who. Do you know?”
Dawn’s glare became contemplative as she looked through her memories of her encounter with the demon. After a minute, she looked up and around at everyone, her gaze landing a moment longer than the others on the still distracted ancient Immortal, before saying as she looked at Spike, “Yeah, she’s after someone named Methos. I don’t know much more than that. When she realized I didn’t know anything about this person, she just left...after giving me my concussion, I’m thinking.”
“Sounds about right,” Spike muttered, clearly recalling how he found Dawn last night.
With a sigh, Buffy said as she gathered up her purse while glancing at Angel, who was soon standing beside her, “Then it seems we’ve got some research to do. We need to find out what this demon is, and hopefully figure out what it—she
wants with this person, and find this Methos before the demon does, too.”
Methos looked up at this point, something having brought him out of his deep introspection, unsure of what had done so. He noticed that it seemed to be time to go as he saw Angel and Buffy leave after a quick goodbye to Dawn. Seeing Giles waiting for him at the door, he nodded to the young Slayer and vampire and left as well.
The Watcher and Immortal were outside the hospital before Giles said quietly to Methos, “Be careful, Adam. It seems this demon that Tara and Dawn encountered is looking for you.”
Methos stopped in his tracks and stared at Giles, causing the other to stop as well. In a deliberately mild tone, the Immortal asked, “What are you saying?”
Giles looked over his glasses at Methos, and said seriously, “The demon’s looking for you by your actual name, Adam.” Having given his warning, he readjusted his glasses and cleared his throat, saying in a more normal tone, “I would suggest you contact your people, and see if they can help us with identifying this person. Good day.”
Methos remained where he was as he uneasily watched the Watcher go to his car and soon after leave the parking lot. Slowly going to his own car, the Immortal considered what he needed to do. I need to get in touch with Joe. Something’s seriously wrong with Cassandra. He should be able to give me the info I need, or at least a start on understanding what’s happening.
He got into his car, and began driving back to his hotel. If I should encounter her in this town, I’m not going to hold back. I’m tired of her games. We’re going to end this, one way or another, next time we see each other.
“Hey, Brat, how ya feeling?”
Dawn looked up from the demonology book she was reading to glance in irritation at Faith as the middle Slayer took a seat beside her at the table she sat at. Seeing the honest concern on the older girl’s face that belied the flippant question, the teenager’s emotions changed to resigned exasperation as she rolled her eyes and looked around the Magic Box to see if anyone else was in hearing range.
Satisfied that no one was, the younger Slayer answered dryly, “Wishing everyone would quit asking that.”
Faith chuckled as she leaned back in her seat, before saying half-seriously, “Better that than no one caring and actively making it worse.”
The two Slayers shared a knowing and understanding look between them with that comment, asking and receiving forgiveness for an act that really didn’t happen between them in the past—despite their memories of it happening. They then gazed over to the doorway between the shop and training room to see Buffy and Angel come out looking ruffled, with Giles following after as he commented about their techniques from the training session the supernatural couple had just done. It wasn’t long before said couple sat with Dawn and Faith at the table.
Giles joined the group a moment later with even more demonology books to add to the slowly growing pile on the table, and asked, “Dawn, have you recalled anything else about this demon that you have yet to tell us?”
Dawn nodded once, then answered, “Yeah. I didn’t remember until just a short while ago, but remember when we were talking about the demon’s eyes? Well, I remember now that the eyes kept changing from that weird blue color to gray and back. The strange thing is that with the eye-switching, the personality changed too. I was completely freaking by the end of our encounter because of that.” She was thoughtful for a moment, before adding, “Now that I think about it, it kinda reminds me of Ben and Glory, but not as extreme a physical change.”
Buffy looked like she was ready to begin freaking out at that comment, while Giles ruminated out loud, “Perhaps possession? That would narrow our choices of demon down dramatically, but I do not recall a demon with that ability having the qualities we know this demon of having.”
“Oh, crap,” Dawn suddenly said, a look of horror on her face from something she had just recalled. Sitting up straighter in her seat, she explained what she had just realized, saying, “I remember now that I confronted the demon about being a demon when it was saying it was Immortal instead, when it switched personalities, and claimed to be an Old One reborn.”
Hyperventilating, Buffy exclaimed, “Oh, god! How can you forget something like that
Suddenly on the defensive, the younger Slayer stated, “I had a concussion, okay? I don’t quite have everything in order about what happened, and some things are still too hazy for me to remember right! Also
, I wasn’t really allowed the time to process that statement after it was made. So don’t be on your high horse about it, okay
Before the two could fall into another squabble between themselves, a throat cleared pointedly in front of them. Almost to a person the group of five turned to look in the direction of the sound to find Quentin and a stranger of roughly equal proportions to Angel, though slimmer and longer haired, standing by one of the shelves near the table.
“Oh great,” Faith said sarcastically, “it’s the big head, and he’s brought a friend.”
The middle Slayer received a glare for her comment while Dawn smothered a laugh; even Buffy looked half amused, a vindictive gleam in her eye as she did so. Angel was just blank-faced with a hard look in his eyes.
Giles was cleaning his glasses, his own expression wary as he asked, “What brings you by, Quentin, and who is this?”
The head Watcher glowered for a moment longer at the reformed Slayer before answering Giles by saying, “I find it curious that Ms. Summers believes that she has encountered an Old One, as I have with me one of the few true experts on such creatures.” He gestured to the man beside him. “This is the Guardian of the Deeper Well, Drogyn.”
“The Battlebrand,” Giles stuttered out in shock, just as Angel said as he stood and held out his hand, “It’s been a long time, Drogyn. I didn’t really expect to ever see you again when I left Europe.”
Drogyn studied the souled vampire for a bit, then pale blue eyes met dark brown, before the offered hand and forearm were gripped in a warrior’s handclasp. With a wry smile, the Guardian replied, “Nor I you, my friend. How is it that you have become companion to a Slayer? I was surprised to hear of it from Mr. Travers.”
Dawn watched interestedly as Angel ran a hand through his hair, a wry smile on his face as he answered, “A rather badly dressed demon with an attitude pointed me in the right direction, you could say. Things fell into place after that...as well as a few things that shouldn’t have, but it all worked out in the end.”
“That’s one way of putting it,” Buffy muttered as she rubbed her neck a little more firmly, before stilling the motion, her eyes narrowing. She dropped her hand to rest it near where she kept her sword on her, and stated as she stared intently at Drogyn, “You’re Immortal.”
The Guardian gazed quietly at the eldest Slayer for a moment, then inclined his head as he answered, “I am.”
“Huh,” was all Buffy could say to that, before turning to Angel, and asking, “Was that why you weren’t surprised that I was Immortal, because you knew about Immortals through this guy?”
“This is all very well and good to know,” Travers interrupted in a tone of voice that said that he could actually care less, before concluding in frustration, “but it does not explain Drogyn’s presence here...a thing which he has yet to fully explain to me
Irritation now in his voice, Drogyn replied, “That is because what I have come here for is not your concern, but that of the Champions within this city.”
Standing straight with an arrogance that all could see, Quentin declared imperiously, “What concerns them, matters to me.”
The derisive laughter coming suddenly from the three Slayers showed the truth of that statement.
Buffy was the first to regain control of herself, as she said scornfully, “The day you actually care
about what we do
, and not what we aren’t
doing that you wanted
us to do, will probably be after the world ends...and I really
doubt even then!”
Quentin glowered, before saying in a very affronted tone of voice, “I will not stand here, and listen to your accusations! I am Head of the Watchers Council, and deserve far more respect than you’ve shown me since my arrival in this pathetic little town.” He turned to Giles. “Rupert, as of now, your pay is halved. You clearly have no control over your Slayers, and until you do, your pay grade will reflect that.”
With those words and a scornful gaze sent to all there, Quentin Travers left the Magic Box.
In the incredulous silence that fell after the Watcher left, Buffy muttered darkly, “Bastard.”
Giles sighed tiredly, then commented, “It is a good thing, then, that this shop pays me better than my Watchers’ salary ever did.”
“Really?” Buffy said, her expression curious, yet confused. “Considering the small amount of customers we get in here, I thought it’d be the opposite.”
The resident Watcher cleared his throat uncomfortably while taking off his glasses to clean them, before explaining, “Yes, well, it started that way. Anya and Willow, with Dawn’s help, is what made the difference. They’ve turned the shop into a rather productive, ah, online business, I believe they call it.”
Faith’s eyebrows rose as she asked, “Your
using a computer?”
Giles shook his head, before correcting, “No. Anya and Willow do that. I merely give the final word on purchases and sales.”
“Interesting,” Angel commented from where he stood by Drogyn, “but perhaps we should speak of more serious matters?” He turned to the man beside him, saying, “I know you don’t like questions, but...”
Drogyn raised a hand in a stopping gesture, his expression understanding, as he said, “You wish to know my purpose here, and why I seek the Champions here in this city. That is understandable, and I will explain.”
The Guardian moved away from Angel and towards the table, pulling a satchel in front of him that he had had at his side. From this bag, he carefully pulled out ancient looking scrolls. Placing those in the table, he began his explanation.
“From my understanding, you have dealt with an Old One before. Therefore, I will just give you an overview of what you need to know right now, and give further details later.” He nodded towards Dawn as he said, “According to the young lady here,” said lady supplied her name, “Dawn, she has already encountered the one I am here to speak to you about.”
Drogyn settled into an empty seat beside Faith, before saying further, “First, I will give you its name: Illyria, the god-king of the primordium, the eldest and greatest of the Old Ones. Its power and influence on our world was so great, that it is felt even now, millions of years after its physical death. It even still has followers in this day and age that worship it.”
“What do you mean by physical death,” Buffy asked, her expression thoughtful-yet-confused. “And how’d it come back? The last Old One we dealt with isn’t anything like this one’s being described.”
A scowl briefly flickered across the Guardian’s face, before he answered, “Only an Old One can truly kill an Old One, otherwise it is just the body that is destroyed. Illyria’s spirit was eventually captured by its own acolytes. We are unsure what promises were made to accomplish this.”
“I’ve got a question,” Faith stated as she turned in her seat to more fully face Drogyn. At his wary nod, she asked, “How’d this demon get reborn, and how do we stop it?”
Resignation along with irritation beginning to show, Drogyn said, “We don’t know the exact details, but some things are known. For an Old One to be reborn, the demon’s essence must somehow be infused into a host body. The spirit will then devour the soul of its host, until all that remains is the host’s body. As for how to kill it, each one is different.”
“Meaning you don’t know,” Buffy said bluntly.
“As the Guardian of the Deeper Well, should you not have known that this Old One had escaped,” Giles inquired.
Angel winced as Drogyn’s eyes snapped over to the Watcher. Barely controlled anger was evident as he answered curtly, “My charges are not few! Illyria’s sarcophagus was not stolen, we would have noticed that immediately; nor was it taken out of the Deeper Well, as I would have to have approved such a move. Instead, it simply disappeared. We only realized it was gone, and the demon reborn only a few days ago. The moment we knew where it had gone, I came.”
“Damn, Old Man, when you call them, you call them! The Field Watchers are going nuts trying to figure this one out.”
Methos lounged against the headboard on his bed in the hotel he was staying at, listening to his friend, confidant and sometimes co-conspirator on his cell phone.
“What did they find,” the ancient Immortal asked. “Quite a bit...and none of it good,”
Joe Dawson admitted. “From what they have been able to gather, she’s been gone from her grove about one to two days. There was a deep indent just outside of her house, like there was something heavy there, but no tracks to explain how something sarcophagus-sized got there or was taken away. The grass was just crushed and still green under whatever it was, so it hadn’t been there long. They did find traces of strangely colored sand in that spot that they’re analyzing to see if it’ll help them figure this mess out. Inside was even stranger, though. There was no evidence of a struggle to suggest a kidnapping, but something had happened. “It looks like Cassandra was fixing some herbal remedy, dropped it, and then fell in it. Water was everywhere. They found the remains of her sword by her bed. The blade was completely shattered, the hilt half-buried in the wall, and they’re not sure how that happened either. In amongst the pieces they found blood and vomit residue that hadn’t been mopped up completely. The thing that’s really making them wonder what the hell happened there is that they found something in the wall by the bed that was a very detailed indent of a head, just above where the sword was. You could see where the eyes, mouth and nose were in it. They sent me a picture, so I can show you if you want. They also did a comparison to Cassandra’s head with that indent, and it matched up. Mind telling me what’s going on?”
Methos roughly rubbed his face before sighing. In a slightly frustrated tone, he answered, “Yeah, but I warn you: this can’t get back to the Watchers until the matter is dealt with or at all.”
There was a long pause, then, “Tell me.”
“I believe Cassandra’s been possessed by a rather strong demon, and seems determined at the same time to finish what she started with me...which points to a symbiotic possession. At least that’s what I’ve come up with.” “WHAT?!”
The Immortal chuckled darkly in response, before continuing, “I know. I haven’t actually seen her, but Dawn did. Angel drew a picture of who she saw, and I recognized that it was Cassandra. She looked different in some aspects, though. That’s really why I wanted you to have someone look in on her last known location to confirm if it was her and not merely someone who looked like her. From what you’ve told me, it sounds like it is
her.” “Damn. So, what’re you going to do now?”
Methos’ expression turned cold as he said, “I’m finishing this. If she wants to lose her head over something that had happened in the ancient past, so be it. She’s made her grave.” “What if it’s this demon that’s making her look for you?”
Glaring at his shoes, Methos stated with a hard edge in his voice, “If so, I’ll deal with it.”
In the silence that followed, Methos heard the muted sounds of a busy bar become louder, followed by someone talking indistinctly, yet urgently. Joe gave an affirmative response to what had been said, and then said to Methos, a trace of worry hidden in his voice, “Look, I need to get going, and make an appearance to keep things settled here. You do what you need to do, you always have. Just promise to keep me updated, okay? And if you do off her, don’t tell me! I want plausible deniability if Mac learns she’s dead.”
A wry smile touched the Immortal’s lips, and lit his eyes briefly with a dark humor, before he answered, “Sure, Joe.”
The Watcher of Immortals chuckled humorlessly, then said, “Bye, Old Man. Don’t you loose your head, either!”
Methos shook said head ruefully as he heard the line disconnect; knowing that despite his friend’s flippant tone, Joe would practically be biting his nails in worry until this whole mess was over with. Just as he was closing his cell phone, and wondering what to do now, his hotel door suddenly flew into the room and crashed into the wall opposite the doorway; breaking said projectile into two pieces, and placing a crack in the wall when it did so.
Letting over five thousand years of instinct take over, the Immortal rolled away from the entry and off his bed, landed on the floor, and grabbed his sword from under the bed in one smooth motion, dropping his cell phone in the process. Peeking over the edge of said bed to see who had come calling, he saw Cassandra in all her strangely blue glory standing just outside the doorway, arm extended stiffly in front of her from her having slammed her hand into the door just a moment before.
The ancient Immortal’s gut twisted as he felt the vile wrongness
in Cassandra’s Quickening, and knew his assumption of possession was correct. The question remained, though, of just how deeply that possession went.
The possessed Immortal turned her head towards Methos, inhuman acid blue eyes momentarily pinning him in place, as some instinctive memory that he could not recall recognized what he was seeing...even if he could not consciously understand it. A shiver went down his spine as he stood, sword tightly gripped and half-raised.
“Cassandra,” he acknowledged.
The woman tilted her head to one side, stepped into the room, and said coldly, “The Immortal cannot answer you right now.” The demon’s eyes raked over Methos’ body, clearly evaluating him, before declaring, “You appear to be the one I seek.”
Raising his sword just a little bit more, Methos asked, “How can you be sure, and why would you seek for whom you seek?”
The demon’s expression hardened at his words, clearly not pleased, before moving with sudden speed towards him. Methos immediately swung his sword with all his might, striking the demon’s neck as she stopped in front of him.
The sword’s blade bowed and then burst apart.
Partly spinning around from the force of his suddenly unchecked momentum, hilt flying from his hand, Methos barely had time to register his sword’s breaking before he found himself being yanked backwards and then flying through the air sideways. He crashed head first through the door of the bathroom and landed in a stunned pile on the tiled floor.
Before he could right himself, let alone clear the stars in his vision, Methos was hoisted to his unsteady feet by his shirtfront. Gripping the hand holding him in place, Methos, blinking his eyes to clear them, suddenly realized he was gazing down into the demon’s eyes. He attempted to jerk back, but found himself unable to do so.
The woman breathed in, her eyes now halfway closed. Lazily gazing up at him, she said, “You are the one I seek. Your scent confirms it, Methos.”
She released him abruptly, causing him to rock back on his feet as she turned around and walked towards the center of the room. Catching himself on the doorframe, Methos warily watched her, as he asked in hopes of stalling for time to find a way out of this mess, “Why were you looking for me?”
“The Immortal’s memories concerning you intrigued me,” the demon admitted, turning to face him. “I decided to make you my Qwa'ha Xahn.”
Methos’ mind blanked out for a moment as he heard within his mind words spoken in a ritualistic and fervent tone using his voice, but which he had no recollection of ever saying. “I will be your priest, your servant, and your guide upon your return to this world. I am your Qwa'ha Xahn!”
He came back to himself with a shudder, to find the demon once more in front of him, her hand running over his chest, her expression curious. He stood frozen, heart pounding.
With a hint of pleased surprise in her voice, the woman said, “It would seem, Immortal, that you are already my Qwa’ha Xahn. My writings reside within your body, though they are not visible. Only my priests are allowed to do so.”
you,” Methos choked out, disbelief of what was happening in his wide eyes.
The demon tilted her head in an oddly bird-like fashion, before saying with slowly growing anger, “You do not know? You who possess my
scriptures within your body?! I am Illyria, god-king of the primordium! I was and am
the Shaper of All Things! Before me, none knew what power truly was. Before me, none knew how to rule. It was through me, that the peoples of this world began to unite into nations.”
Methos’ look of incomprehension caused Illyria’s expression to harden as she hissed out, “How is it, you are my Qwa’ha Xahn if you have no knowledge of me? Your ignorance disgusts me!” The demon’s expression cooled as she stated, “It matters not. You will serve me willingly or unwillingly”
At those words, a strange feeling of lassitude rushed through Methos. As he felt this, Illyria spoke, saying commandingly with an undercurrent of power in her words, “I am your god. You shall do all that I say, Qwa'ha Xahn.”
A part of the ancient Immortal that was not under the demon’s spell balked at what was spoken, refusing to comply. Methos grabbed a hold of that emotion grimly, not caring that it originated from a dark part of his past, and brought it to the fore. Immediately, pain unlike anything he’d ever felt before in his life assaulted him. He could only think one thing when this happened. This is worse than absorbing two Quickenings at once!
Methos’ whole body shuddered as he fought the god-king’s command, his very essence seeming to twist and writhe within him in protest. Putting all his will and strength of spirit against the powered command, he swayed as he felt the compulsion shatter abruptly.
Gripping the bathroom doorway once again to stay upright, he drew breath in deeply, then stood up straight, tall and proud. Glaring with barely restrained fury, he growled out, “I bow to no one!”
Once more, her head tilted to the side, as though gazing at an unknown type of bug, the demon said simply, “Pity,” before grabbing Methos’ shirtfront and slamming him onto the bedroom floor on his back. Placing a foot firmly over the gasping Immortal’s chest, she leaned forward, and said matter-of-factly, “Your insolence grows irritating. You will
Remaining where she was, Illyria turned her face to gaze at the cell phone that was suddenly ringing on the floor by the bed. When it stopped ringing, she glanced upward, and watched as the air stretched and opened into a portal. Through the portal, the inside of a semi-spacious room that was dimly lit could be seen.
Reaching down, Illyria easily yanked Methos to his feet, and gazed at him. In a cold tone, she said, “We are going to my temple. Once there, you will understand the futility of not serving me.”
With those words, the demon pulled the Immortal through the portal with her, just as his cell phone began to ring again. As the portal closed, the phone stopped ringing, before beeping a few times a moment later.
Buffy walked the streets of Sunnydale, worry in her heart. She had been making the various rounds to those that needed to know what was currently going on that didn’t know yet, meaning that Spike, Willow and Tara now knew what it was that they were facing. All that remained was to tell Adam. She had tried to reach him by phone, but he had uncharacteristically not answered. She had tried three separate times, before making the decision to go see him and find out what was going on.
As she neared the hotel her Immortal teacher was staying at, her gut instinct began warning her that something was very wrong. Hearing the sirens in the distance coming closer, she began to run.
Seeing the manager of the hotel waiting anxiously in the parking lot for the police, Buffy stealthily moved towards the hotel building, and made her way to the room that had no door when it should. Reaching Adam’s room, knowing that she had perhaps a minute before she had to be gone, she slipped inside and stopped, heart clenching in fear.
“Oh, no,” was all Buffy could say in horrified disbelief as she gazed about the room.
There were obvious signs of struggle everywhere. Walls cracked, doors busted off hinges, and the worst: Adam’s sword scattered in pieces all over the floor. Drawing in a deep breath to steady herself, she quickly searched the room for any of her teacher’s more personal and private items.
Gathering Adam’s coat, laptop and cell phone, Buffy gave one final mournful-yet-worried glance at the broken sword and fled the premises.
Heheh! The gang learns things they didn't know before, Illyria is Not Happy, and people begin wondering what the heck they're doing. Part Finished:
Is anyone still actually reading this? Let me know if you are, and what you think of the story so far! Constructive criticism is always appreciated as well, as it helps me become a better writer.