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.10. Long Dark teatime
Sitting on the couch in Richie’s darkened apartment, Spike flicked the channels, surfing for something bearable to watch. “Crap. Crap. Shite. Oo Judge Judy.”
“What time is it?” Xander asked groggily. He was lying on the same couch, using Spike’s lap as a pillow.
“Only four. Still another three bloody hours till the meeting. But hey,” he said, looking down and stroking Xander’s hair, “You slept right through, no nightmares. That’s got to be a good sign, right?”
“That or jetlag.” Xander groaned as he sat up and stretched. He got up and plodded into the kitchen. “What’cha watching?” He opened up the refrigerator and grabbed two beers from the stash they’d purchased. It was clear from the penicillin specimens they had found on arrival that Richie hadn’t been here for a while, so he had gone to the supermarket for supplies earlier, followed by a trip to the butchers for some pigs’ blood. He came back to the couch and sat back next to Spike, passing him the second beer.
“Judge Judy, but it’s a rerun.”
“Well turn over then. I think there’s this great manga series on Nick.” He reached for the remote, but Spike pulled it out of his reach.
“No sodding way am I watching any of that Japanimation crap. I’ve seen the warnings. Those cartoons give people epileptic fits.”
“So? It’s not like we have to worry is it? Give me the damn remote!” He started to struggle for the remote, but Spike kept leaning further away.
“No! Anyway, Queer Eye is on in a minute.”
“No way! I’m not sitting here for an hour listening to you bitch about the ‘bloody poofters’. Every week you find something to complain about.”
“Well it’s not my fault they’re all camp as a row of tents is it? It’s sodding disgraceful, sets the Stonewall movement back thirty years. You Americans can only deal with homosexuality when it’s tied up in a nice, safe, camp bow.”
“What about Will and Grace?”
“Don’t even get me started on Will and Grace! There will never be a realistic, masculine, homosexual hero in American mainstream media. Vampire hero on the other hand, absolutely fine. It sickens me.” In an attempt to alleviate the mood, Xander made a lunge for the remote and was rudely shoved backwards for his trouble. In shock, he got up and went to the door.
“You know what? What the hell am I hanging around here for? I can go out in daylight. I’ll see you at Joes’.” With that he picked up his coat and left.
“Bloody good riddance too. Bye Captain Pugwash!” he yelled at the now closed door.
Across town, in Adam Pierson’s apartment, Methos and Jack were hard at work. Methos had been trawling the Watcher database for any indication of Immortal Goa’ulds or any likely candidates and was compiling a worryingly large list of names. Jack had been reading through the reports that his team had sent him and cross-referenced it with Methos’ list in an attempt to cross off some names or make a firmer identification. It was frustratingly slow work, and there were very few names that could be definitively crossed off the list of possible Goa’uld, but, fortunately, there were only a handful that could be certainly identified as being Goa’uld, and most of them were already dead. Jack paused in what he was doing and looked at his teacher.
“What do you think would happen if the last one left was one of these guys?”
“A Goa’uld winning the Prize? Now that is a very scary thought, and one I don’t care to entertain.”
“So what do we do? Do we go out and hunt them down? Isn’t acting as a group against the Rules?”
“Well, technically, but we wouldn’t be actually fighting them as a group, only looking for them as a group. After what Daniel said about the genetic memory, I don’t think we can chance the wrong Immortal beating one of them. Can you imagine if say Hitler had been one of us and he’d had the knowledge of the Goa’uld?” They both shuddered at the thought, “Doesn’t bear thinking about. Or worse yet, imagine if someone like Kronos had gained that knowledge.” Jack grimaced. Methos had decided to trust his lover with the truth about his past, mainly because Jack already knew how old he was and because his own past wasn’t exactly glorious, but also because Methos felt an affinity towards him, and trusted him more than anyone he’d met in his entire long life. Even more than he trusted the Boy Scout and that was saying a lot. Jack had accepted the information, and it didn’t alter his feelings towards the old man, but he still felt uncomfortable whenever Methos mentioned his Horsemen days. Fortunately, that wasn’t very often. Jack turned back to the screen of his laptop and looked at the list again before shutting down the computer.
“I’ve gone over everything, there’s nothing more to get from this information. Let’s hope that Jack and Daniel come up with something from the SGC that will help narrow this list a bit more.” Methos shut his own laptop and stretched.
“You’re right. There’s nothing more we can do until later. I suggest we go to bed for a few hours.” There was a wicked gleam in his eyes as he said it, but he followed it with a theatrical yawn. Jack grinned and joined in the game.
“Well, if you’re tired. It must be hard for a man of your years to deal with such excitement.” Methos leaned over and placed a hand on Jack’s thigh, and began to slowly massage it.
“Who said anything about sleep?” Jack grinned wider and, taking Methos by the hand, led him into the bedroom.
Daniel walked across the room, rubbing his eyes blearily. As he neared the door he felt the Buzz of another Immortal.
“Jack?” he asked, reasonably certain of the answer.
“Yeah, Daniel, open up.” Daniel unlocked the door of his hotel room and opened it a crack. After verifying it was indeed O’Neill, he opened it wider to let him in. “Heard anything from the team?” Jack asked.
“No, but I was asleep. I haven’t checked my cell for messages.” He trotted over to the nightstand and examined his phone. “Nothing. Do you want me to call them?”
“Well I don’t think the switchboard will be prepared to field a call from a dead man, even at Cheyenne Mountain.” Daniel opened his phone and hit speed dial.
“Hey Sam. I’m gonna put you on loudspeaker okay? It’s just me and Jack.” He hit a button on the phone. “Go ahead.”
“Hi Daniel, hi Angus.” Obviously Sam wasn’t alone in the room. Daniel knew Jack wouldn’t talk unless they were secure so he asked her,
“Hey, are you on speaker too?”
“No, no. I’m just here in my office with Cam and Teal’c and Walter.” So, it was okay to talk, but she might have to be cryptic in her responses. Jack went ahead anyway.
“So Carter, anything interesting turn up?”
“No, not yet, sss… so we will keep digging.” Using ‘sir’ when talking to O’Neill was almost a reflex, but she needed to be more careful, that had been close. “It seems our initial assessment of the reports was correct, there’s nothing to indicate that they are anything but hoaxes. Walter just left sir, we can speak freely now. I can’t find any indication in the reports we examined that these Goa’uld were genuine. We still have about twenty more to re-examine, but I doubt any of them will prove useful.”
“Well, that’s actually good news, if you think about it.”
“Not really Danny, it just means the sneaky bastards are good at hiding, and we know that from the run-in with Seth. Okay, Carter, keep looking and if any turn up positive call Daniel immediately.”
“Will do sir.” Jack closed the cell phone and sighed.
“Well, there’s not much we can do, I’m going to go get a drink. Coming?”
“No, I think I’ll go over to Adam’s apartment and see how they’re getting on. I’ll come to Joes’ with them.”
“Okay, but it’s your loss, I hear he serves mean chilli fries.” Daniel grinned as Jack turned and left, then he headed for the shower.
Joes’ was quiet, as usual. Since he had returned from Paris and reopened, things hadn’t been the same. He did enough business to keep going, but there wasn’t much profit. There’d be a damn sight more profit if Methos would pay his damned tab, he thought to himself as he wiped the bar. He looked up as the door opened and squinted at the evening sun. The newcomer walked in, letting the door close behind and as Joes’ eyes readjusted he recognised Rupert’s young friend Xander. Xander walked up to the bar and sat on a stool. He smiled and offered his hand across the bar, which Joe warmly shook.
“Hey Joe, how’s it going?”
“Not bad, yourself?”
“Hmm, can I get a beer please?”
“That bad huh?” Joe picked up a stein and pulled a glass of draught. “Do you wanna talk about it?” Xander shook his head.
“No, thanks man.” He paused as he took a long drink, “Damn him though! He drives me up the wall! He acts like he’s this big man, like he’s in a unique situation and it makes him better than everyone else but really he’s just this neurotic insecure mess.”
“This is Spike I take it? Giles told me you were together, and I read your Watcher reports.”
“I have a Watcher now? Cool!”
“Well I have to say that’s not the reaction of most Immortals.”
“Yeah but most Immortals weren’t Watchers first. See, that’s exactly my point, I’m unique too, in my own way, but Spike completely ignores that.”
“If you have a problem with him, why aren’t you talking about it with him?”
“Because he always has to be Spike. Just once I’d like to talk to William, to know what he really feels. But no he has to hide behind ‘the big bad’, even though he’s good now.”
“You hide behind your jokes don’t you? We all have our defence mechanisms.”
“Apparently mine is dating demons. I guess you don’t have to worry about them breaking your heart if you’re worried they’re gonna rip it out.”
“See, bad jokes to deflect from a genuine question. If you really thought Spike was just another in a long line of demons, you wouldn’t be with him, you’d have walked after the first argument.”
“You’re kidding me right? I did nothing but argue with Anya and I nearly married her. I’m just a glutton for punishment.” His diatribe was ended by the arrival of another Immortal. He looked toward the door, waiting, and Joe did the same, he’d been around Immortals long enough to spot a Buzz, and they both relaxed as O’Neill strolled into the bar.
“Xander! You’re eager aren’t you?” Xander raised his glass in response. “Ah great minds think alike. Another round please. You must be Joe Dawson? I’m…”
“Angus MacNeill, until very recently General Jack O’Neill, U.S Air Force. We actually met once before, but you probably don’t remember. I was just a grunt and there was a lot going on…”
“Of course, Saigon. I’m sorry; I didn’t recognise the name before.”
“No problem. Two beers right?”
“Make it three, have one yourself.”
“Very civilised of you, don’t mind if I do.”
“Actually, thanks for the offer, but if you don’t mind I think I’m going to walk around the block, clear my head, think some things through. Don’t worry; I’ll be back by seven.” At that Xander got up and strolled out of the bar. Joe pulled two beers and passed one to O’Neill.
“So, you seem to have done okay, this place, being head of the Watchers.”
“I’m only head of US operations, and Sam Carter should know when to keep her mouth shut.”
“Don’t blame her; it was Methos that told me.”
“Huh, should have guessed. He has developed a worrying tendency to tell the truth recently.”
“Nah, he still only does it when it suits him. He…” O’Neill was cut off by the door banging open and Spike storming in.
“Is he here?” Joe interpreted ‘he’ to mean Xander and shook his head, “Good. Then I’ll have a double whiskey then. And make it Scotch and all, none of your American shite. You must keep a bottle for MacLeod.” Joe muttered something under his breath before disappearing in the back.
“What kind of a name is Spike?” asked Jack as he swigged his beer.
“It’s a nickname. Name’s William, but I’m not exactly keen on it. Angus.”
“Fair point, but Spike? That’s like a dog’s name.”
“It’s from his bad old days.” Joe said as he came out from the back. Spike shot him a warning look, but Joe either didn’t see or simply ignored him and poured out a single shot of whiskey. “You see Spike here used to have a fondness for killing his victims with railroad spikes.”
“Used to being the operative phrase here. Bloody Watchers.” Spike growled. O’Neill eyed him suspiciously. “Oh bloody hell. Well, you were all going to find out sooner or later. I’m a vampire. But I’m one of the good guys now okay?” O’Neill didn’t exactly look convinced and Spike saw his hand move toward where he suspected his sword was concealed. “Wait, before you do anything hasty, just let me explain, please. But first, another round.” He downed his whiskey and began to explain to O’Neill about vampires with souls and the sorry tale of William the Bloody.
“So I’m just supposed to accept that you are a vampire with a soul and a champion for good now?” Jack said after about an hour.
“Is it any less ridiculous a story than a bunch of blokes in long coats living forever and swinging bloody swords around?” O’Neill conceded the point and indicated to Joe to pour another round.
“But this doesn’t mean I trust you.”
“Good. I don’t trust meself somedays.” Jack looked toward the door as he felt the Buzz of another Immortal. He looked at his watch and saw it was only 6.30, so he reached for his sword, but Spike stopped him. “It’s Xander.” Jack looked at him and Spike tapped his nose. “Vampire sense of smell, better than a bloody dog mate. Excuse me gents, I think I have to face the music.” He downed his second drink in one and then got up and walked out into the street. Sure enough, Xander was pacing around outside, still undecided as to whether to go back in or not. He looked up and saw Spike, who smiled at him. Xander punched him. “What the bloody hell was that for?”
“You know what it was for, for shoving me earlier.”
“I get walloped for a row over the bloody remote?”
“You don’t get it do you? You always have to hide behind the big bad Spike, you never let me in.”
“Christ, I’m sorry, next time you can choose which channel to watch, basement boy.”
“This isn’t about the damn remote!” Xander was shouting now, “It’s about your inability to connect emotionally. It’s about you not wanting to be the ‘tortured’ vampire with a soul so instead you throw up this Teflon attitude, like you’re still evil, like you don’t care about anyone.”
“You think I don’t care?” They were stood only inches from each other now, “You arrogant little wanker, you don’t know what I feel.”
“Because you never tell me, you… you…” Xander was at a loss because every insult that came to mind involved the word vampire, and he didn’t really want to throw that in Spike’s face now.
“Go on, bloody well say it then.” Xander just glared at Spike defiantly. Suddenly Spike grabbed him roughly by the neck and kissed him passionately. “You want to know how I feel? I love you, you silly sod. Do you think I make a habit of shagging blokes? In a hundred years there have only been two.” Xander suddenly felt like a petulant child. He didn’t ask who the other had been, he had a feeling he could guess.
“I’m sorry. Just let me in please. Let me be with William occasionally.” Spike stroked Xander’s hair.
“You are love, you are. It’s just hard to turn off Spike sometimes. What, do you want me to write you a poem or something?” Xander looked at him, unsure of how to say no without hurting his feelings. He had read a few examples of Spike’s poems and knew that they were the real reason for his moniker of ‘William the bloody (awful)’. As he debated how to let him down, Spike couldn’t keep a straight face any longer and started to laugh. “I’m only joking, mate. The look on your face…bloody picture and no mistake!” Xander grinned back at him and joined in the laughing. They were going to have some great make-up sex tonight.
“So, from the intel we’ve gathered, it seems that there are four of these Immortal snake-heads here on earth that remain unaccounted for.” O’Neill said. He, Joe and the others were seated around a table in the middle of the floor. Joe had closed early so they wouldn’t be disturbed.
“Not that it would make much difference.” He had grumbled at the time. It was Methos’ turn to speak now.
“Unfortunately, the four are completely unaccounted for. They haven’t had Watchers for about a hundred years, so we have no idea of their current locations or aliases.”
“I’ll have my people stay extra alert for anything out of the ordinary.” Joe said, “But there is nothing about glowing eyes anywhere in the Chronicles, so I don’t think we’re going to see anything definitive.”
“Unless one gets beaten and you find a body with a snake hanging out of it.” Xander quipped.
“Indeed.” Methos said, raising an eyebrow. Both Xander and Daniel had to suppress a smile, Xander because he was reminded of Giles, Daniel because he was reminded of Teal’c. “So, moving on, our best course of action right now is nothing. Agreed?” Everyone nodded, some more reticent than others.
“Meanwhile the SGC will continue to make discreet investigations.” said O’Neill.
“As will Torchwood.” Added Jack.
“And the Watchers.” Joe said.
“Both branches.” Xander chipped in. Methos leaned over to Duncan and whispered to him.
“This must be driving you nuts.” Duncan looked at him quizzically, “Well, you normally love dashing off to fight the evil Immortal and save the day, don’t you Highlander? And this time you have to sit on your Scottish arse and leave it to everyone else. Must be killing you.” Methos said with an evil smirk. He did love to tease Mac. The meeting ended and transmuted into an ad-hoc poker game. As Joe fetched the cards and chips from the back, and Richie went to fetch snacks and drinks, Duncan leaned over to Methos and said,
“You’re not exactly acting yourself either; getting involved, volunteering information. In fact, I’d say you were acting more like me.” This had the desired effect, and Duncan grinned as Methos sat there, dumbstruck, as he suddenly realised he was surrounded by Boy Scouts.
Around midnight, seven weary figures strolled out from Joes’ bar. The two Jacks were taking the lead, comparing notes on time travel, whilst Daniel and Methos brought up the rear, chatting amicably in ancient Greek about the merits and pitfalls of Socratic Method. Duncan had stayed back to help Joe clear up. Xander, Richie and Spike were in between the two pairs, bitching about losing big to O’Neill and Methos.
“It’s not bloody fair. Just cos they’ve been around since before the bloody game was invented.”
“So have you. You’re just pissed because you thought you were going to win with those queens.” Xander pointed out.
“Well they bloody should have won. You don’t need to be sodding Rain Man to figure that he should never have had those aces. I reckon he bloody cheated.”
“Well, I shouldn’t say that to his face. Not if you want to keep your head.” Richie cautioned, only half joking. He knew how seriously Methos took poker. Up ahead of them, Jack and Jack were interrupted in their conversation by a group of youths hanging out in an alley.
“Got a light?”
“No, sorry. Don’t smoke.”
“Me neither buddy.” The group of twenty youths moved out of the alley in what the two warriors instantly recognised as an attack formation, and so they prepared for a fight. A few yards back, Spike suddenly stopped and pointed at the group. He sniffed the air and smiled.
“About bloody time,” he said, drawing a stake from his pocket, “a chance for a decent bloody scrap.” Understanding, Richie and Xander pulled out their swords and Xander pulled out his stake. Methos and Daniel were too engrossed in their discussion to notice and there was no time to warn them. The vamps’ faces changed as they attacked the two Jacks, who were surprised to say the least. Captain Jack was only momentarily shocked, he had come across vampires before, and so he lay into them with his sword. O’Neill on the other hand took a split second longer to kick into action. That split second was enough time for the nearest vamp to grab him and bite him.
“Bollocks.” Spike yelled as he Richie and Xander charged into the fray. Spike made for the vamp with O’Neill, and dusted him, but not before O’Neill’s lifeless body fell to the floor. “Bollocks.” repeated Spike, his game face on as he turned to the next potential victim. He knew O’Neill would be back up soon, but that meant one less fighter in the meantime. The vamps may have looked young, but they were obviously seasoned hunters and fought well. Daniel and Methos had finally noticed what was going on, and stood dumbstruck. Daniel saw the body of his best friend lying on the floor, but he couldn’t reach him. Suddenly a couple of the vamps noticed them and so they found themselves fighting.
“Beheading!” Methos shouted to Daniel, “Works on most things!” Daniel nodded grimly and drew his sword. The vamps were good and had the advantage of numbers, but they were unarmed. Spike and Xander were pros and the others were seasoned warriors. Before long there were only a couple left. O’Neill came around to find he was lying at the feet of the last one. The vamp was taken aback by the sudden resurrection and his last words were:
“What the…” as he exploded into dust. As the dust floated to the ground O’Neill saw Spike holding a stake behind where the vamp had been. He also saw his true face. Spike leaned forward and offered him a hand, which O’Neill took.
“This still doesn’t mean I trust you.” O’Neill grinned as he stood up. Spike grinned back. They turned towards the others, but Captain Jack, Daniel and Methos all took a step backward, their swords raised.
“What’s the matter?” Spike said, spinning around to look for a missed foe.
“Um, your face.” Xander said, “It’s your other face, you know, your grr, arr, face.”
“Oh shit, sorry.” Spike said as he morphed back to human.
“You’re like those things.” Daniel said. It was a simple statement; there was no accusation in his voice. He had seen O’Neill take Spike’s hand, so he knew there was more to this situation.
“They were vampires.” This came from Captain Jack, “Demons that inhabit the bodies of the dead once the soul has departed. Evil demons that live on human blood and murder for fun.” He, Methos and Daniel pointed their swords toward Spike and took a step forward. Simultaneously, Spike took a step backward, his hands raised, and O’Neill, Xander and Richie stepped between him and the other three Immortals.
“Ordinary vampires are like that, yes, but he isn’t an ordinary vampire.” Xander explained.
“He got his soul back, his human soul.” concurred O’Neill.
“He’s one of the good guys now.” Richie chipped in. Looking at one another and shrugging, Methos and Daniel both lowered their swords. Not entirely convinced, Jack continued to point his at Spike, although he did lower it slightly.
“I’ve read about the vampire with a soul.” Jack said, “His name is Angel, not Spike.”
“Oh bloody hell, why does it always come back to that ponce? He is not the only vampire with a soul anymore. I went off, and I underwent the bloody trials of whatever the hell it was, some wanking great demon in some bloody cave in Africa, and he gave me back my soul. I went off me trolley, saved the world, died, came back and here I am. His royal broodiness did not corner the market in ensoulled vampires you know.” Xander leaned over to Jack and whispered conspiratorially,
“You hit a sore spot there.” Jack smiled, and cautiously lowered his sword. “Angel was Spike’s grand-sire and there’s a bit of unresolved tension between them.”
“So says the King of the Land of the Blind.” Spike growled.
“Ignore him, he’s still pissed that Billy Idol stole his look.” Xander grinned. Spike stomped off at this, but Jack could swear he could hear him mutter as he left,
“He bloody did you know.”
The six Immortals turned as they felt the approach of another, and gave a collective sigh of relief as they saw it was Duncan.
“Did I miss something?” queried the Scot. The others looked at each other before they all burst out laughing, leaving Duncan looking bewildered as he looked from one to the other for an explanation. Richie and Methos both clapped Mac on the back and Methos said,
“We’ll tell you later Highlander. We’ll tell you later.” before he collapsed into another fit of laughter.The L World will continue in Part 11: Lone Gunman