Disclaimer: I don’t own any of the shows involved or any of the characters, and I’m not making any money out of them, I’m just doing this for the love of the shows and the love of Richie. All rights and ownership belong to whoever actually owns them, I’m just having a party in their flat and promise to clean up after myself.
Warning: This story contains non-graphic same sex relationships, so don’t read it if that sort of thing offends. There’s also the occasional bit of bad language, but I try to keep it to a minimum.9. Losing My Religion
Xander sat bolt upright in bed, waking Spike. The vampire stroked his lover’s back and was concerned to feel it was clammy. That couldn’t be good, he mused, even for an Immortal. “What’s wrong Xand? Another nightmare?” he queried, though he already knew the answer. They had been living in Paris for a little over a year now and just a fortnight ago Xander had won his first Challenge. Every night since he had been having the nightmares.
“It was different this time. Full on Star Wars type crap, you know, spaceships and aliens, the whole enchilada.” Spike moved to a sitting position and proceeded to stroke Xander’s hair as he spoke, “I was in charge of this whole army and…” he broke off, staring intently at an Egyptian stela they kept on a dresser. “Okay, here’s a question, how come I can suddenly read hieroglyphs?” Spike looked at him curiously.
“Seriously? You can read that inscription?”
“Like it was written in English. And I think I can speak Latin and Greek too.”
“Well Latin I do know. Do you think this has something to do with the Quickening?” Spike asked in Latin. Without thinking, Xander replied in the ancient language.
“Maybe. I really don’t know. Amanda warned me that I might take on a few personality traits of my opponent until the Quickening settled into my system, but she didn’t mention anything like this.” Spike slipped back into English.
“Xand, honey, we were just speaking in Latin and you didn’t even notice.” Xander looked at him, shocked, “I’m really worried about you, I think we should contact Rupert.”
“Well I don’t know how much he’ll be able to help; he’s the wrong kind of Watcher. Maybe we should go to the horse’s mouth? If we go to Seacouver there are three experienced Immortals and Joe there. If anyone should know, it’s them.” Spike nodded in agreement. In the morning Xander could make arrangements for a night flight Stateside.
“But for now, even Immortals need their rest love.” William cooed, gently pushing Xander back down in the bed and wrapping himself around him. Nothing was going to hurt his Xander on his watch, not even bad dreams.
After grabbing a beer from the fridge, Methos took up his customary slouch on Mac’s couch, then, after making sure both Mac and Richie were watching, he placed his hand on Jack’s thigh. Just a subtle, casual gesture, but one that spoke volumes to anyone who knew him, one that said ‘I know what’s going on and it’s okay guys’. Mac took a step toward Richie and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Methos, there’s something I think we should tell you.” Methos looked innocently at them both, before deciding there was no fun in torturing them today.
“If you’re about to tell me that you two have been doing the horizontal mambo, I already figured that out myself.” he grinned at them.
“You did?” Richie exclaimed “Jeez, you knew, Amanda knew, does anybody not know?”
“If it’s any consolation, I don’t think Joe knows.” He ducked as Richie threw a cushion at him, “Brat. Anyway, much as I adore discussing your love life, that isn’t why we’re here. About a week ago, I took a head,” Richie looked at him in mock awe, “Yes, I know it doesn’t happen often, but I’ve never run from a direct challenge.” It was Duncan’s turn to look sceptical, which Methos chose to ignore, “it seemed fairly ordinary, but when we looked at the body, there was a parasite living inside of him.”
“But that’s impossible.” Duncan said, “Parasites are killed by our immune systems.”
“I know, but this particular parasite looked like a snake and resided wrapped around the spine.” He was looking intently at Richie as he said this, who, to his credit, cottoned on to his meaning.
“Ah so you’re on your way to Colorado Springs.”
“Exactly. This sort of thing is Jack’s field of expertise, but he hadn’t come across anything like it before. I had a few… bad dreams that involved spaceships and lasers, so I thought it might be best to consult with Daniel and Angus.”
“Would somebody please tell me what’s going on here?” Duncan demanded. The other three looked at each other, suddenly uncomfortable.
“It’s classified. I’m sorry.” Jack said, “I have clearance because I work for the British government, and Methos managed to get clearance through his Watcher ties, and Richie… I’m sorry, just how did you get clearance?” Methos and Richie exchanged glances and grinned.
“Richie didn’t exactly get clearance, lover, more…”
“SG-1 trusted me. Needed to trust me.” Jack looked at them both and then shrugged. What did he care if SG-1 wanted to blab Top Secret information? Richie turned to Duncan. “I’m really sorry Mac, if it were down to me I’d tell you in a second but it really is need to know. If I told you I’d have to kill you.”
“Now there’s an idea…” chimed Methos. Duncan and Richie threw him an exasperated look that was so near identical it made him laugh.
“Look, it’s down to Daniel and Jack to tell you Mac. No, sorry Jack, I meant the other Jack, Angus.” Richie said as Jack threw him a puzzled look, before Richie glanced at his watch, “In actual fact, they should be here shortly.” Methos looked at him curiously, “Well, I was about to tell you that you don’t need to go to Colorado, they happen to be coming here anyway. They said they had something they wanted to show me.”
As if on cue, the four felt the arrival of two more Immortals, and Duncan went to the door. The others all subconsciously laid a hand on the hilt of their sword, but they immediately relaxed as Duncan welcomed Daniel and Jack O’Neill. Jack surveyed the room and raised an eyebrow.
“Sorry, Duncan, I didn’t realise you had guests.”
“Well, I think you already know Adam? And this is Jack Harkness, his current student.”
“Captain Jack Harkness? The Torchwood guy?” O’Neill held out his hand, and Jack got up and shook it.
“The very same, General O’Neill. I’m glad that reports of your demise were exaggerated.”
“Well, as far as the non-Immortal world is concerned, they weren’t, General Jack O’Neill is dead. I’m using my real name for now, Angus MacNeill, although I prefer Jack.”
“Yes, but things might get a little confusing.” smirked Methos, “It’s good to see you, tosser.”
“You too bastard.” Methos tentatively held out his hand and then O’Neill pulled him into a hug, “How you doing Methos?”
“Same as ever Angus, staying one step ahead of the sword, you?”
“Enjoying my recent demise, staying low and fishing. So what brings you here?”
“If I’m guessing correctly, the same as you.” O’Neill looked at Methos suspiciously, “A couple of weeks ago I won a fight and, lets just say that my opponent wasn’t alone.”
“Cut the enigmatic crap Methos, I just drove all the way here and I’m in no mood. There was a snake in his head, right?” Methos nodded.
“I knew we were right to come Jack, this means the one I killed wasn’t alone after all.” Daniel said.
“You’ve killed one too? Have you been having nightmares?” Daniel nodded before saying,
“I was afraid of this.”
“Afraid of what!” demanded Duncan, “Would someone please tell me just what the hell is going on here?!” O’Neill sighed and shrugged.
“Well, if things are as bad as I think they are, then you’ll find out sooner or later.” he said, “Daniel, fill him in while I talk to Methos, Richie and Captain Harkness about the device.” Daniel nodded.
“Is there somewhere else we can go Duncan?”
“We’ll go down to the office, the dojo is closed. We won’t be disturbed.” They both left via the elevator.
“Um, before you say whatever it is you came to say Jack,” Richie piped up, “you should know that it may be worse than you think. Amanda’s student Xander called yesterday, he and his partner Spike are flying over from Paris, and in fact they should be here as soon as it’s dark. From the way he was talking, I think he might have killed one too.” O’Neill took a deep breath and let it out slowly, assessing this new information.
“Well we’ll deal with that when they get here Rich. In the meantime,” he said turning to Jack and Methos, “I need you two to take a look at this and tell me if you know anything about it.” He retrieved the strange hand device from a holdall and passed it to Methos, who examined it carefully before passing it to Jack.
“I’m sorry Angus, I’ve never seen anything like it. Although I do get a curious tickling sensation when I look at it.”
“At the base of the neck right?” Methos nodded, “That’s what Daniel said when he held it. How about you, any thoughts Captain Harkness?”
“Please, call me Jack” he grinned, “And no, I’m sorry, I’ve never seen anything like this. To be honest I’ve had no contact with the Goa’uld, I deal more with biologicals here on Earth.” O’Neill nodded grimly.
“It was worth a shot. So, what does a guy have to do to get a beer round here?” Richie grinned and fetched one from the icebox, along with a second for Methos.
A few hours later, Xander and Spike had arrived and filled everyone in on their part in the mystery. Shortly after their arrival, Duncan slipped out to get supplies. He was having trouble with the whole alien thing, and needed to clear his head. O’Neill was chairing the ad-hoc meeting and he summarised the situation,
“Well I think it’s clear that we have three connected and worrying problems here. One, there are Goa’uld here on Earth who have taken Immortals as hosts. Two, those who have taken the heads of said Immortal Goa’uld may have inherited the genetic memory of the Goa’uld along with the Quickening. Three, we have this strange device which makes us all feel uncomfortable and we don’t know what it does.” O’Neill placed the hand device on the table before continuing. “Now, one of those things on its own would make me nervous, all three makes this a scary proposition.” Xander took the device in his hand and examined it.
“I know what this does.” he said quietly. Everyone looked at him. “I know how to work it, I just can’t do it. But I know it’s to use on us, on Immortals.” He was speaking in Goa’uld now, but Richie, O’Neill, Daniel and Methos all understood him. Richie was frightened by how much he did understand, far more than Daniel had taught him.
“Uh guys? I understand him. I think I must have killed one too.” They looked at Richie, assessing this new information and then turned back to Xander.
“What does it do to Immortals?” Methos asked him, speaking in Goa’uld too so Xander wouldn’t lose the connection to the memory.
“They use it on us so they can take us as hosts. It keeps us from healing long enough so they can get in and take up residence.” Daniel was concerned by how much Xander was accessing the Goa’uld memories and switched the conversation to English.
“Xander, come back to us now.” Xander looked up at him, as if only just noticing his presence. Daniel turned to Spike, “Have you noticed any changes in his personality? Anything out of character, no matter how small? Short temper maybe?” Spike shook his head. “Good, that means that he is controlling the memories. I was concerned that they may be controlling him.” Xander chuckled.
“You were concerned that I was possessed by a snake in my head?”
“Well at least it isn’t a bloody hyena this time.” Spike chuckled, “Sorry, private joke.” He said at the look everyone was giving them.
“Let’s just say it isn’t my first possession.” Duncan came back into the apartment carrying supplies, including beer, Methos was pleased to note, and he swiftly took a few and passed them out.
“We’ve just discovered something disconcerting about this device.” Daniel said, showing it to Duncan.
“It’s a hand device isn’t it?” Duncan said casually in Goa’uld. The others looked at each other. Noticing their glances, Duncan queried, “What?” Richie slapped him on the back.
“Welcome to the ‘I speak Goa’uld and I didn’t even know it cos I’ve killed one of those snake-head Immortals’ Club Mac.” Duncan looked at Richie to see if he was joking, then to Methos for confirmation, who simply nodded his head.
“I was just…” Duncan started. Methos and Daniel both nodded. Captain Jack grinned,
“So it looks like me and Jack senior here are the only Immortals in the room not to have killed one. I don’t know about you old guy, but that kind of makes me feel left out.”
“We’ll have to think of a snappier club name though, Rich, that one doesn’t really pop.” Xander said and grinned. Richie shot a grin back, but it quickly dissipated at the serious looks on the other Immortal’s faces.
“We need to find out just how serious this is.” said Captain Jack. O’Neill nodded in agreement then said,
“You’re right. We were hoping we might convince Joe Dawson to examine the Watcher records to look for anything that may hint at just how many of them are out there. One or two was disconcerting, but now we know there were at least five. Who knows how many more there are or where they are.” Daniel held the device up.
“Well, hopefully, we have in our possession the only method they had for taking Immortal hosts, so there shouldn’t be any new ones appearing.”
“Yeah, we just have to hope there aren’t many out there to start with.” Xander deadpanned. Methos got up and retrieved his laptop from his luggage, which was in a pile on the floor.
“We should be able to access the database from here. Adam Pierson may have left the Watchers, but luckily nobody has thought to revoke his access.” Captain Jack leapt up and grabbed his PDA from his pocket.
“I’ll contact my team, get them to run a search for any matching phenomena in the Torchwood database. Don’t worry,” he added at the look on O’Neill’s face, “I won’t be specific as to details, just enough for them to run the search. They’re used to me being cryptic.”
“Really?” Richie said, “I can see why you and the old man get on so well then.” He ducked as a well aimed cushion flew at him from Methos’ position and grinned. Duncan looked at the clock on the wall and turned to Spike discreetly.
“It will be day soon, hadn’t you better be leaving?” Spike nodded, so Duncan spoke to everyone, “Look everyone, we’ve been talking all night. What say we break this up for now and get some rest? These Immortal Goa’uld have been around a long time and haven’t done anything yet, or we’d have noticed them before. So they will still be there tonight. I suggest you all go to your hotels and get some rest, do some research and we can meet up at Joe’s this evening to discuss what to do next.”
“That’s a good idea.” O’Neill agreed, “We’ll meet at Joe’s bar at nineteen hundred hours. In the meantime, if Jack and Methos can find out what intel they can, Daniel and I will speak to our team. They’ve been looking over all the old reports of sightings that we had previously dismissed as hoaxes.” He and Daniel stood up and walked out, followed by Jack and Methos, once they had gathered their stuff together and got the key to Methos’ apartment back from Duncan, who had been keeping an eye on the place. Xander and Spike hung back, waiting until everyone was gone.
“Thanks for that, it could have been bloody awkward trying to explain why I was leaving the party early. And cheers for the invite.”
“You’re welcome. I had a feeling you would rather not reveal your…nature to the others until it becomes necessary.”
“Here’s the key to my apartment.” Richie said, handing it to Xander.
“Thanks for this man; hotels can get a bit funny about people sleeping in the day. It stops the maid cleaning. At least that’s their excuse. Are you sure you don’t mind though Rich?”
“No, I don’t. I’ll stay here.” Spike coughed, uncomfortably.
“Oh, yeah, right. Um, you won’t actually be around when we get there, so…”
“Huh? Oh! I invite you into my apartment. Both of you.” Richie grinned and Spike returned the smile. They both picked up their bags and Xander and Spike left Duncan and Richie alone. “Whew! Finally. I thought today would never end, it’s just been one thing after another today!” he stopped as he noticed that Duncan was looking pale, “Are you okay Mac?” he sat next to him, and took his hands in his own.
“Yeah, it’s just…aliens?!” They looked at each other seriously for a moment, one confused, the other concerned, before they both collapsed into laughter.The L World will continue in Part 10: Long Dark Teatime