Chapter 3: In which explanations are made
see disclaimers in Chapter 1
“Okay, so, I’m not a demon?” Xander watched the man across the table from him and Spike, still uncertain about him.
“Well, that depends on who you ask and what century it is,” Delvin replied with a smirk. He was enjoying himself a lot more than he’d expected too. This new Immortal didn’t question the existence of the supernatural, just the nature of Immortality itself, and that was fine with him. “But our kind are similar in many respects to humans. We don’t have the soulless drive for violence and cruelty that characterizes so many demon races, but like humans, some of us choose such a path. We live as humans until our first death, and upon first waking from it, our aging process stops altogether and we begin to heal faster than most demons. The headache you had earlier was me. It’s a warning system so that you know that you’re in the vicinity of another Immortal.”
“So, why didn’t my parents tell me?” Xander wondered out loud. “I mean, they should have so I wouldn’t be all surprised when I first died and all that.”
Delvin sighed this part was never easy. He was about to explain when Spike cut in.
“Yer parents aren’t immortal, Whelp. They don’t know that you are. All Immortals are foundlings; you were adopted.”
“No, no, I’m not adopted,” Xander protested. “Why would they adopt me? They don’t even like me.”
Delvin watched the vampire wince slightly, wondering at that last statement.
“Sorry, Xander, but you were adopted,” Spike insisted. “I always suspected it ‘cause you don’t much smell like ‘em, but when I realized you was immortal I knew fer sure. No one knows where Immortals come from or what make ‘em like they are. No one ever sees ‘em get left as babies, they just show up in the woods or on a doorstep. There’s all kinds of theories, but no one knows ‘sept maybe the oldest.”
“And he’s not telling,” Delvin said. “Spike is completely right. In the history of the world there is only one known incident of an Immortal having a blood relative, and that’s me and my twin. But, like everyone else, we were found abandoned on the castle grounds. Likewise, you’ll never be able to father a child. Immortals are infertile and can’t carry deceases, so you can forget everything you were ever taught about safe sex so long as your partner doesn’t care.”
Xander valiantly tried to ignore that last bit and figure out how he felt about not really being Tony and Jessica’s son. But as he was thinking another headache split his skull even stronger than before. He flinched and glared at Delvin.
“Can’t you tone it down a bit?”
Delvin laughed. “The more time you spend around other Immortals, the less it will hurt. And that wasn’t me. That was them.” He pointed over his shoulder at the two new Immortals that walked into the diner.
Spike looked up, wondering at the male. The woman he knew was Diane, Delvin’s twin. She sneered at the sight of him.
“Well, he’s not a pile of dust so apparently he didn’t try to kill you,” she said, stopping at the end of the table and transferring her glare from Spike to Delvin. “This Hellmouth is making my skin itch; can we go now?”
“You can go, but I’m staying,” Delvin replied, not without understanding. Immortal flesh and blood was a delicacy to most demons, but Xander had already made it clear he wasn’t leaving. Delvin was really starting to like the boy and couldn’t leave him without a teacher. “Diane, this is Xander, my new student. Xander, my sister, Diane, and her student, Greg. Greg, by the way, wasn’t nearly as stubborn about leaving Vegas as you are about this place.”
Xander just crossed his arms and set his jaw. “The hellmouth cannot be contained by a single person. I can’t just turn my back on things, whether I get along with the Slayer or not.”
Diane’s eyebrows shot up. That was new. “A slayer’s only backup is her Watcher. Everyone knows this. What is she, thirteen, that she can’t do what she was Called for?”
“Buffy just turned twenty,” Xander replied. “She’s been holding this place for five years. Just cause she needs an attitude transplant sometimes doesn’t mean she can’t do the job.”
“Twenty,” Delvin said, impressed. “I’ve never heard of a Slayer living so long.”
Spike grumbled. “’S the whelp’s fault. Bloody White Knight complex, ‘e ‘as. I’d’ve got her four years ago if not fer him and the other one. Not even mentioning the poof.”
“The poof, huh?” Diane asked, pushing Delvin over to slide in beside him. Greg pulled over a chair and straddled it at the end of the booth. She’d owe him explanations later. “That wouldn’t be our dear Angelus, would it?”
Spike snarled. “Don’t think I don’t know you two had something to do with him being all soul-having. Don’t know how you managed it, but you’ll be happy ta know he worked out the clause a few years back. Wrecked merry hell on all of us until the witch figured out how to recurse ‘em.”
“Well, you must understand, Spike,” Diane explained reasonably. “We want to hurt you and your entire nest. We couldn’t curse you, because that would hurt William. You took Angelus abandonment harder than William did, I’m sure. Anyway, who’d he experience his moment with?”
“The Slayer,” Spike replied with a smirk. “Her seventeenth birthday. Lovely gift for ‘er, a master vampire mad from a century’s imprisonment. The bloody wanker was completely out of it, ‘round Drusville loop, he was.”
“So, he’s been recursed with full awareness of the clause now?” Delvin asked, not caring that a Slayer would be dumb enough to sleep with a cursed vampire and expect nothing bad to come of it. “Where is he?”
“He’s in L.A.,” Xander answered. “Can we get back to why do I need a teacher? Cause I gotta tell you, the word “school” has less than pleasant connotations in the little world of me. But, I did graduate. So, why do I need a teacher?”
“Do you remember when I first showed myself?” Delvin asked. “I was holding a sword, and Spike said that you weren’t part of the Game. What he was telling me was that you weren’t going to try to kill me without cause. Many Immortals would have, and they’ll try to kill you too. As you’re teacher, I’ll teach you how to use a sword, or sharp object of your choice, though sword is the most popular, to defend yourself from other Immortals. I’ll also teach you how to set up a new identity for yourself, because in ten years or so, people will start to notice you aren’t aging and they’ll want to know why. Most of us learn to fake a death and go, or just go, if you think no one will look for you.”
“Wait, but why would another Immortal want to kill me?”
“Because, about four thousand years ago, some creep calling himself “War” starting lying to every Immortal he didn’t kill. When these Immortals took students, they passed the lie on. So, nearly every Immortal on the planet, with the exception of less than twenty of us, genuinely believes that the last Immortal standing will receive some great Prize,” Delvin said bitterly. “Some think it will be power to rule the world, other think they’ll become mortal again with everything that implies. I say if such a day ever comes the last one standing will simply go completely insane. See, Xander, we can only be permanently killed through beheading, and when you take another Immortal’s head, all of his memories and skills come rushing into you. After the Quickening settles, it just becomes subconscious knowledge that comes in handy from time to time. Occasionally, you might even pick up a whole new language. But you’re also receiving the Quickening of every Immortal they’ve ever killed, and the ones that they killed going back to the dawn of time. If ever there is only one, then that Immortal will have the combined memories and power of every Immortal that ever lived with the exception of those rare occasions when someone managed to lose their head with no other Immortal around to receive their Quickening. I just don’t see it as being possible that someone could hold the collective souls of our entire race and still retain any sense of self. But others do, and some get addicted to the feeling of the Quickening and will kill any Immortal in their paths. You need me to teach you, so you can take them down before they do you.”
“Whoa, you expect me to kill people? I only kill demons,” Xander protested. “Can’t I just injure them?”
Delvin grabbed a fairly dull steak knife off the table and, making sure Xander was watching, stabbed it completely through his own hand. The young man’s eyes were wide in horror, but Delvin just pulled it back out and held out his hand. He noticed Spike shrinking away with a hungry look. Control indeed, Delvin thought, impressed that the demon hadn’t tried to jump him the moment the scent of his blood hit the air.
Xander watched the open bloody wound close in seconds. He understood. He whispered, “Injuring them will only piss them off, won’t it?”
Spike couldn’t help it. Firmly ignoring the sweet scent of Immortal blood in the air, he placed a comforting hand on Xander’s shoulder, heartened when he didn’t shake it off. “It’ll be self-defense, pet. It won’t make you evil.”
Diane watched, amazed. This demon was comforting an innocent. And the boy was an innocent, that much was clear. A fighter of demons but an innocent. What an astounding contradiction! So why was he the friend of a master vampire?
Xander sent Spike a weak smile. “I guess I don’t have much of a choice, huh? This is my life now.” He looked at Delvin, his new teacher. “So, how do we do this?”
Immortals on a hellmouth, what fun. Yes, the silent (so far) student of Diane's is Greg Sanders of CSI. More on him later. So, what do you think?