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An Immortal Life, Trials Past: A Day in the Life

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This story is No. 8 in the series "An Immortal Life Series". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: In "Mes Amis", Joe meets Xander. In "Need", he meets Xander's younger self without giving away his older self's identity. This explains why.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Xander-CenteredFlatlanderFR1317,189113,1226 Aug 036 Aug 03Yes
AN IMMORTAL LIFE, TRIALS PAST:

SEACOUVER and SUNNYDALE, 1999:

A DAY IN THE LIFE

DANIELLE FRANCES DUCREST



Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, Twentieth Century Fox Productions, Kuzui Enterprises, Sandollar Television, Mutant Enemy, and UPN. Highlander belongs to Davis/Panzer Productions, Gaumont Télèvision, and Rysher Entertainment. Any copyright infringements were not intended. This story was written for entertainment and not for profit.



Spoilers: Major spoilers are for all of the Immortal Life stories from "Too Late" to "Mes Amis". Other spoilers are for the Highlander: The Series episodes "Judgement Day" and "One Minute to Midnight."



Timing: The first part of this story takes place before "Too Late." The second part takes place during and after "Need." The third part takes place before, during, and after "Alternative".



Summary: In "Mes Amis," Joe Dawson meets Alex LaVelle in 1996 Paris. In "Need," Joe appears in Sunnydale 1999 where he meets the younger version of LaVelle, only he doesn't give any indication that he recognizes Xander. This story explains why. It covers a time span from February 1999 to May 1999, or from "Too Late" to "Alternative".



*****


February, 1999

Seacouver, WA



Today was an average day in the life of a Watcher, namely me. It started out that way, anyway. I woke up in the afternoon after a long night at the bar. Thirty minutes later, I was back at said bar, going over the bills and last night's receipts and making a list of what needing re-stocking. I also added more money to the old man’s insanely large tab. I need to ask Alex if he knows of any way of tricking-or, if that fails, convincing-Methos to pay it. After I got all of that taken care of, I booted up my laptop and logged onto the database. I checked my e-mail for any late reports and was very pleased to see that my lecture on turning reports in on time had done its job. Roberts and Penn were the only ones that still needed to send me their monthly reports; the rest had, dutifully, sent me theirs overnight.


I smiled as I scrolled down the list. Melinda "Mina" Harker’s name got my attention. I smiled. I hadn’t seen her since the time we ran into each other at the Watcher Headquarters in Europe. That was five months ago. She was assigned to Peter Lionhardt, a three-centuries-old Immortal who preferred living in one of three places: France, the southern states, or the northern United States metropolitan cities. Mina had been assigned to him for close to three decades now.


Jeez, that’s a long time. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I’ve been watching MacLeod for eighteen years now, and it still feels like I started yesterday. Okay, maybe it doesn’t-not with everything that’s happened-but still.


Anyway, Lionhardt moved from Europe to Chicago less than a month ago. Although Chicago isn’t in my range of oversight, Lionhardt travels along the west coast for his business, so my bosses decided to make me Mina’s boss and placed her under my direct supervision. This e-mail would be her first report given directly to me.


I selected the link and the e-mail loaded onto the screen. I wondered what sort of things she’d be reporting, and knew that whatever it was, it would be interesting. Lionhardt had a penchant for the supernatural – he owned an occult shop in Chicago, and many of the items he required could only be found in California of all places. Mina also loved the supernatural, and that was the basis behind her being given the assignment of watching Lionhardt. Her particular fixation on vampire novels had earned her nickname, Mina, after Wilhelmina Harker, a character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.


I clicked on the link and began to read, wondering what kind of fantastical myths and items Lionhardt had discovered this time.


To my curiosity, the e-mail wasn’t her report. Instead, it was a sort of prelude to it.



 


Date: Thurs, 11 Feb 1999 23:35

From: M_Harker@field.us.watcher.org

To: J_Dawson@field.us.watcher.org

Subject: something interesting



Hey, Joe. How’s the bar? Here’s something that I think will interest you. Lionhardt has taken on a student, an Alexander LaVelle Harris. We’re in Sunnydale, CA, and it looks like we’ll be here for a few months – Lionhardt intends to teach Harris the basics, and it looks like Harris doesn’t need much more than that. I’ll send my full report on Saturday. Below is a picture and a description of Harris.


I checked the database in case Harris was one of those Immortals that pretend to be newbies. While I couldn’t find an Alexander LaVelle Harris, I did find an Alexander LaVelle, currently residing in Paris, and the photos of LaVelle in the database resembled Harris incredibly. Scientifically, there’s no way they could be the same person. I won’t bore you with the magical theories. What do you make of it?



Mina H.



 


Could there be two Immortals out there that resembled each other so much, as well as having a similar name? It was quite a coincidence-that was for sure.


I scrolled down and did a double take. Alexander LaVelle Harris looked exactly like the man I had met three years ago in Paris, France. Brown hair, brown eyes, square jaw, high cheekbones, Harris' height – all of it matched my own memory of him.


I frowned at the screen. Something strange was going on, and only Mina or Lionhardt would be involved in something as strange as this sounded. I needed more information.



*****



Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 16:26

From: J_Dawson@field.us.watcher.org

To: R_Calais@field.weu.watcher.org

Subject: lookalike



Hey, Ron. Long time no hear. How's Paris? It's been a few months since my last trip to France - care for a game of poker next time I'm in town?


Harker's pegged an Immortal that looks a lot like LaVelle. Has LaVelle been taking any trips to the California coastline recently? Let me know ASAP.



Dawson



*****





Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 17:52

From: R_Calais@field.weu.watcher.org

To: J_Dawson@field.us.watcher.org

Subject: Re: lookalike



Hey, Joe! You're right, it's been way too long. I'm not in Paris anymore; LaVelle moved to Chicago just last week. They haven't put me under you because LaVelle still makes frequent trips to Paris-even has a house there. LaVelle hasn't been anywhere near California since the 1850's-don't know who this lookalike could be. You said Harker spotted him? You know, that's odd. Ever since LaVelle got here, he's been keeping a close eye on Peter Lionhardt's affairs-isn't Lionhardt Harker's assignment?


Keep me posted if you find anything, all right?



Calais



*****



Over the next three days, I contacted other sources and did a little research of my own into the connection between Lionhardt, Harris, and LaVelle. With every new piece of information I found, I ended up with more questions than answers. Ron's e-mail didn't help me feel any less bewildered.


I remembered when I first met Alex LaVelle three years ago at MacLeod's barge in Paris. Not long after LaVelle had shown up, MacLeod had a visitor from another Immortal named Ian Madison. Madison turned out to be LaVelle's student, Marc. That was about all I knew about the situation…until now. I looked into Marc's chronicles. I wasn't all too surprised when I discovered that Marc was in Sunnydale, California, in the winter of 1995, only a few months before Marc came looking for his teacher in Paris. His Watcher reported that Marc had been fine until the day he gave a lecture at Sunnydale High School. After that, Marc had acted as if he was in shellshock for months until he came to Paris and re-united with his mentor, Alex LaVelle.


The Watcher had no idea what had shaken Marc so much, but I had a suspicion that it had to do with newbie Harris. Harris was, according to school records, a student at one Sunnydale High, and he would have been among the students that Marc lectured.


Some of the pieces of the whole Harris-LaVelle puzzle began to fall into place. Marc had visited Sunnydale on business where he saw a Pre-Immortal that looked exactly like his teacher and mentor. It was so shocking to him that he had to find his mentor in order to confirm that Harris wasn't him, and he does so when Marc and LaVelle catch up to each other in Paris in 1996.


I was pretty sure by that point that Harris and LaVelle were two different people. So why, if that was the case, did they look so much alike, and why did they have almost identical names?



*****


April 1, 1999

Seacouver, WA



Everyday life caught up with me after a few days of researching. MacLeod breezed into town for the rest of the winter and the spring, and he kept me pretty busy. One fact about being MacLeod's Watcher is that there is never a dull Sunday afternoon. With all the Watchers that passed through, whose assignments either settled down in Seacouver, managed to pass through it without fighting with MacLeod, or fought and lost to the Highlander, I hosted a poker game every week at the bar. I had very little time to do any researching, even with help from other Watchers.


Before I knew it, two months passed since Mina sent me the e-mail telling me about the new Immortal down in Sunnydale. It was still a mystery to me, but I'd put aside trying to solve it for now. At least I had until I sat down in front of my computer on May 2nd. That day, a few late April reports were in my inbox, unopened, but what caught my interest was a different message, one that had a blank where the return address should have been. There was no subject, and the date was also missing. All there was in the message was an attached file labeled JerryDamon.zip.


I recognized the name. Jerry Damon was the Watcher I'd put on Harris back in February. Damon had sent weekly reports on what Harris was up to until the beginning of April. His last report had stated that Harris had won a challenge against Bryan Costello, then Damon simply disappeared. I'd sent a couple of Watchers down there to investigate, but they hadn't seen any sign of the missing Watcher. I'd assigned one of them to watch Harris and posted a warning to Watchers everywhere to look out for Damon, and that was the end of that as far as everyone was concerned.


I never expected to receive a message with an attachment named after the MIA Watcher. I saved the file to my hard drive before unzipping it to discover that it contained a WAV file:


"Damon, this is Jerry. I just wanted to say that I'll be late tonight. Harris and his friends have decided to spend all night researching another demon, and I have to stay and record it all because the battle always comes next. Both you and the Watchers want to know what his skills are, although they'd never believe me if I said he was fighting demons and vampires and not Immortals. Anyway, see you later. I'll tell you everything that happens."


It was a phone conversation, probably a message left on an answering machine. Beyond that, it didn't make a least bit of sense. Demons? Vampires? Had Jerry gone insane? Was that why he dropped off the face of the Earth? If it had been Mina, I wouldn't have been concerned, but Jerry was a practical guy.


No matter what happened to him, the message had to be investigated. I contacted my bosses in Europe and informed them of the situation, and would have done a little checking of my own if MacLeod hadn't entered the bar at that moment. Amanda was with him, and from what I could hear from within my office, Amanda was having some guy trouble of the police kind. So I logged off of the database and shut down my computer before leaving the office to find out what was going on.



*****



Less than a week passed by. I was getting ready to open the bar for another night of business when the door whooshed open. I looked up, half expecting it to be the resident Immortals coming for a drink. I was surprised to see Watcher Tribune Patricia Elmwood standing just inside the door.


I somehow forced my lips to form a smile. "Ms. Elmwood," I greeted her. We weren't on the best of terms. Three years ago, I had been placed on trial by the Watcher Tribunal. The charges had been falsifying chronicles and consorting with an Immortal, namely one Duncan MacLeod. Elmwood had been the Supervisor of Eastern Europe at the time. She was also on the jury that found me guilty of all charges. I nearly got a bullet to the head because of it.


She was, however, my superior now, whether I liked it or not.


"Mr. Dawson," she greeted me, and I immediately understood that she was here on business only.


I pulled out one of the chairs that I had just lowered off a tabletop and motioned that she should sit in one of the other chairs. We sat down. My gaze drifted down to the file folder she placed on the table between us. It was considerably thick.


"What can I do you for?" I asked her.


"I'm here to discuss the situation with Jeremiah Damon," Elmwood announced without preamble. "We have investigated the WAV file you sent to me last week. We're also aware of your own investigation into what is going on in Sunnydale."


I shifted in my seat. As if sensing my discomfort, she raised a reassuring hand. "Not to worry, Mr. Dawson. Your curiosity is perfectly understandable, considering the likeness between the two-thousand-year-old Alexander LaVelle and the new Immortal Alexander LaVelle Harris. The other tribunes and I have decided to fill in whatever gaps you may have encountered in your search."


I stared at her. "Why tell me anything?" I asked, suspicious. At the same time I wondered what they knew that I didn't.


She took a deep breath. "We want you to go to Sunnydale to bring in Damon. You will command a team of ten Watchers, and you are authorized to use whatever force necessary to escort him to Watcher Headquarters."


"What?" The question came out sounding like a semi-hiss, semi-yell.


"We believe that Damon may have gone Hunter on us," Elmwood told me. "We also have reason to suspect that he may have persuaded many of our newest recruits to his way of thinking. As a Watcher with quite a bit of experience with the Hunters, as well as being the supervisor of this corner of the world, the Tribunal feels that you are the best man to lead the arrest."


Best man my ass. I didn't get by in the Watchers all these years without learning how to spot a liar. Elmwood was telling the truth for most of her speech and only started lying when she gave me the Tribunal's reasons for ordering me on this mission. She's a good liar-she probably would have pulled it off if not for the grimace of distaste that she had trouble covering up. After all, she didn't much approve of my relationship with my assignment. No, I bet that the real reason why the Tribunal was sending me to do their dirty work was because of my service record, as well as my reputation. Sure, I had a few friends here and there, but there were a lot of rumors that weren't in my favor circulating among Watchers stationed everywhere.


I snorted but refrained from comment. Elmwood said nothing about my rudeness.


"So what does Jerry have to do with Harris and LaVelle?" I asked her.


"As you know, Damon was Alexander LaVelle Harris' Watcher before he was officially declared to be missing in action a little over a month ago. You are also probably aware that Harris' teacher was Peter Lionhardt, an Immortal who owns an occult shop in Chicago, and that Lionhardt believes in the existence of the supernatural, such as vampires, demons, witches, and those sorts of things."


I nodded, wondering where this was going.


"Well then, Mr. Dawson, you may have trouble believing this, but all of those things do and truly exist."


I gave her an incredulous look. What the hell was she trying to pull? We weren't friends-not even close. We likely never would be. Was she really trying to pull a joke on me?


"I assure you that I am not lying and I am not insane," she told me. She removed a file from the densely packed folder and held it out to me. "You may see my cat-scan if you like, taken yesterday morning."


I glanced over it. "So you're sane, Ms. Elmwood," I said. "That doesn't prove anything."


"You're right, it doesn't." With that said, she handed over the rest of the stack. I flipped through it. I saw very life-like pictures of things with horns and red, scaly hides. A number of newspaper clippings were also included in the assortment. The articles told about bodies found all over the world with tiny wholes in their necks. Cause of death for every single one of them was bloodloss.


I felt my doubts become less and less with every article I read. There was no reason why the Watcher Tribune would spend all the time and energy required in fabricating this much material, even with their resources.


"Okay," I said carefully. "Let's say I believe that vampires and demons are real and that magic exists. What then?"


"Then I tell you about our theories concerning Alex LaVelle and "Xander" Harris, as young Harris prefers to be called. But first, I will tell you a little bit of LaVelle's confidential background."


"Our earliest chronicle of Alexander LaVelle is dated roughly about 1130 AD when Amanda's Watcher observes them spending time together. I used to be Amanda's Watcher, so LaVelle's encounters with her are the ones I am most familiar with. He was going by Mark at the time, but the description matches LaVelle's. It was not the first time LaVelle and Amanda had met. However, we do not have any records of Amanda's earlier meetings with him. All of this is public information and could be easily found in the Watcher Archives. There are some parts of LaVelle's chronicle that are kept confidential, however. Such as the fact that, whenever Amanda and LaVelle weren't-you could say, sleeping-they spent quite a lot of time in the graveyards of churches with their swords drawn."


"They weren't thinking about fighting on holy ground, were they?"


"Yes, but not in the way you're thinking. They were waiting for newly arisen vampires to break free from their graves. Once the fledgling vampires appeared, LaVelle and Amanda would decapitate them, and the vampires would explode into dust. Apparently, killing demons on holy ground does not in any way violate the 'no-fighting-on-holy-ground' rule."


I closed the folder with a loud thud and rubbed my eyes. This was a lot of handle. Could Elmwood really be serious? Sure, I felt the same way once upon a time about the whole 'Immortals-are-real-and-we-watch-them' deal, but…demons? Exploding to dust vampires, with Amanda doing the killing? For some reason, that last bit was the hardest part to believe.


She waited a moment before continuing her insane story. "LaVelle has spent quite a bit of his lifetime fighting evil." A smirk appeared on her face. "Quite a bit of that time was spent getting Amanda out of trouble with demons as well as humans. As a result, we believe that LaVelle is quite the expert on demons and magic."


"As for his connection with Harris…Harris also fights demons and vampires, only he has done so as a Pre-Immortal for the last two and a half years. He works alongside the Slayer, a girl who has extra strength, speed, and skill needed to fight vampires. So, you see the similarities. Harris and LaVelle both fight demons and vampires, and they are both Immortals. Like you, we have endeavored to discover the reason behind this. Even within the supernatural community, Immortal twins born at a thousand years apart are unheard of. We have employed many magic and demon exports to come up with theories. While any of them are plausible, the one I support the most has to do with time travel."


"Time travel?" I repeated, curious despite myself. I was starting to warm up to all of this stuff. After all, who said demons couldn't be real when Immortals were?


Elmwood nodded in assent. "Throughout my research into LaVelle's chronicles, I've come across inconsistencies. LaVelle often seemed to know when a major famine would hit or when a war would begin or end. Some of things he knew, he couldn't know unless he is either a prophet or he is from the future, and there is no evidence to support that he is or ever was a seer."


"So, what? You're saying that Harris grew up in Sunnydale, became Immortal, and then was transported back in time over a thousand years?"


Elmwood nodded, smiling. "That's exactly what I'm saying."


I shook my head, incredulous. "This is ridiculous."


"Is it?" she challenged. "Who are we to say what is ridiculous and what isn't when we record the lives of beings that never age and never die?"


"What does all this have to do with Damon?"


"If we had known that Harris was so involved in the supernatural, we would not have assigned Damon to him. When Damon falsified his reports, he acted under the assumption that he would be thrown into the nearest insane asylum the minute he mentioned demons or vampires in any of his reports. This was understandable, and it is not the reason why we want you to bring him in. I’ve already said that we suspect him to be a Hunter, and I’m afraid that I can’t go into the details behind that."


"Why not?" I wanted to ask her. After all, if she was going to tell me all this, why not reveal a few more secrets? But I didn’t.


"You will act under the assumption that we wish to question him for falsifying chronicles. The men that will accompany you have no knowledge of the supernatural-they do know that Damon might be a Hunter and that he will likely have help. You will not discuss anything I have told you with anyone else. Understood?"


I nodded and she stood, taking the folder with her. "If you still have doubts, you won’t have them when you go to Sunnydale."


"Why’s that?"


"Sunnydale, California is no ordinary town," she said. I met her eyes and felt a chill go down me. The way she said that…did she mean there were demons there? "You will see what I mean when you get there. During your stay, Mr. Dawson, be sure to stay in a group whenever you go outdoors at night." She pointed at the cross hanging by a chain around my throat. "Keep that on you always. If you run into a demon, chop off or shoot off its head; that works for most of them. You can kill a vampire the same way, but a good stake to the heart will suffice."


"Stake?" I repeated. I did not like the sound of this. Elmwood wasn’t kidding around with me, if she ever was. She had the most serious look on her face, the kind my mother always gave me whenever she was telling me something that she wanted me to take directly to heart.


Elmwood reached into her purse and removed a piece of wood sharpened to a fine tip on one end. She handed it to me, then she passed me a plane ticket. "You will leave tomorrow at eleven fifteen AM. Good luck, Mr. Dawson."


She left me staring at the stake in my hand, wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.



*****


April 2, 1999

Seacouver, WA



I hastily made arrangements with Mike, one of my employees, to run the bar while I was gone. Elmwood hadn’t given me much time to get ready. At around nine thirty in the morning, I was hurrying as much as I could to pack an overnight bag with my laptop. While I packed, I thought about what Elmwood told me. It all seemed so fantastical to me now, but another glance through the articles and pictures, as well as looking at the stake before placing it with my luggage, brought back the chill I had felt the night before.


At ten fifteen, I left my apartment and loaded my bags into my van. Hands appeared to help me lift my suitcase into the back. I glanced to my left to see none other than MacLeod. "Hi, Joe," he said conversationally. "Going somewhere?"


"Hey, Mac. Yeah, I’m going to be in California for a few days," I told him.


He regarded me solemnly. "Watcher business?"


I sighed and nodded. There was no use hiding it from him. "Yeah, well, see you in a few."


We said our good byes and I drove off to the airport, wondering if telling him that much really was a good idea. I was thinking about MacLeod’s connection to Alex LaVelle. MacLeod might let it slip to Methos that I was going to California, and if Methos learned from Mike that I was going to Sunnydale, he might warn LaVelle about it. Time traveling or no, there was no possible way that LaVelle didn’t have a connection with whatever was going on in Sunnydale.


I couldn’t worry about that now. I had a plane to catch and a renegade Watcher to arrest.



*****


April 2, 1999

Sunnydale, CA



How did the kid find me? I had been in Sunnydale for only three hours, waiting for the Watcher team to show up before we started the search, when Xander Harris came to visit me at my hotel room. He was packing a sword, and he had three companions – a red headed girl and a blonde, and a black-haired boy. They were as surprised as I was by the sword, so that meant they knew who he was. Better run a background check on them, make sure they won't go blurting out secrets to the press.


Harris looked exactly like LaVelle. Every detail was the same, right down to eye color. I almost blurted out ‘Alex’ before I saw the kid’s eyes. Alex’s eyes were those of a man who had lived through two millennia of hardship. Xander’s eyes, while haunted, were still young. Not only that, but there was no recognition in Harris’ eyes. That’s when I knew, well and truly for the first time since all this began, that Xander and Alex were two different people.


Harris wasted no time in his interrogation. "Joseph Dawson?"


I took a deep breath and nodded. "That’s me."


"Do you know who I am?"


I thought back to the day I told Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod that I was his Watcher. "Alexander LaVelle Harris," I replied, "son of Anthony and Jessica Harris."


I noticed his knuckles go white around the hilt of his sword. "How do you know all that?" Harris demanded. The kid looked pissed.


I sighed. Maybe this was why the Tribunal sent me here – not only was that message sent to me, but if I ran into Harris and his friends, I’d be able to explain what the Watchers were without any qualms.


"Let's go inside. Then we'll talk," I told them. I glanced outside warily. Even though the sun still shined, Elmwood’s warning had spooked me good. There was no telling what might be hiding just outside, listening in.


The blonde spoke for the first time. "Agreed."


Once inside, I faced them. Harris asked me, "What do you know about the Watchers?"


"I can't tell you, kid."


"Why not?" the auburn-haired girl asked, looking curious.


"Because I shouldn't. How do you even know about us, anyway?"


Harris ignored the question. "Where did Jerry take Peter Lionhardt?"


Mina had told me a week ago that Lionhardt was making a trip out here. She hadn’t told me about this. "Jerry's captured Lionhardt?" I blurted out. I went through a few choice words in French and Vietnamese. That was just great. Well, if the Tribunal needed any confirmation that Damon was a Hunter, here was their proof.


"Maybe you should start at the beginning," the blonde suggested with an eyebrow raised. She motioned to Harris. "'Cause I know for a fact that Xander is really pissed off, and we can't guarantee that we'll be able to hold him off if he decides to take it out on you."


Harris started before throwing the blonde a sheepish look. I relaxed a little when I saw him relax. The auburn squeezed his shoulder. I watched the exchange, assessing them. These kids were worried about their friend. They were a little wary about the Watchers, and if all their experience with the Watchers revolved around Hunters like Damon, it was up to me to set the record straight. I'd read over the information I had on Harris during the flight, and I was sure he could be trusted, if I played my cards right and didn't get him too pissed off first. Also, if Damon had Lionhardt, then we couldn’t afford to play cat and mouse – skipping directly to the truth was the best option for all those concerned.


"The Watchers are an organization of historians. We observe and record the lives of Immortals, but always in secret."


The four teenagers stared open-mouthed at me. "You spy on them?" the auburn asked, outraged.


"I don't like the sound of that," Harris agreed. The anger was returning to his voice. "Especially since some of your Watchers decided to kidnap my friend."


I shook my head furiously. "The Watchers are historians. We never interfere in the lives of the Immortals that we watch-"


"-Then how do you explain Damon?" interrupted the blonde.


"Jerry Damon stopped sending in his reports about a month ago. When we found out he was falsifying his reports, we were sent to investigate." I flashed a smile at the group of teenagers. "I'm guessing you had something to do with that?"


Harris and the auburn both nodded. The black-haired kid, who had been silent up until now, entered the conversation. He asked, "Where are your friends, then?"


I assumed they meant the two Watchers that had met me at the Seacouver airport and accompanied me on the plane trip. "They were heading for Sunnydale High, actually, to keep an eye on you and the general vicinity in case Jerry showed up." I risked flashing a grin. "I guess they just missed you."


Harris and co. exchanged looks. "How do we know you aren't lying?" the young Immortal demanded. "How do we know you really aren't working with Jerry?"


I shrugged. We were running out of time. "I guess you don't, but if you're telling the truth that Jerry has captured Lionhardt, then I want to help get him back."


"Why?"


"Like I said, we don't interfere, and we don't tolerate anyone who doesn't follow the rules." I winced as I remembered my own trial three years ago, and wasn’t surprised to find my hand rubbing against my side where a bullet from Galati’s semi-automatic had ripped through my stomach. That bullet to my stomach had, believe it or not, saved me from getting one directly to the head.


The auburn asked, "What are you going to do?"


"Take Damon into custody as soon as we find him," I told her. "We just need to find him first."


The girl glanced at her watch and her eyes went wide. "Guys, it's almost six," she told her companions. The four kids exchanged those looks again. I wondered what was supposed to happen at six.


"What do you guys think? Should we trust him?" Harris asked his friends.


I watched as they glanced at each other resolutely. They seemed to reach a verdict and the blonde turned to address me. "All right, Dawson," she said, giving me that same serious look Elmwood had used. "You go in and get Damon and his men after we've cleared out. Understood?"


They weren’t given me a choice. I nodded. "Where is he?"


"You can come with us and see for yourself. Then after we've left with Peter, you can go in with guns a-blazing."


I didn’t like the idea of going anywhere in the same car as them, but again they left me no choice. We went in Harris’ convertible to the warehouse district where Damon was being held. I called my two assistants who, to my relief, reported that the recon team was in town.


Harris and his friends went in first. While they were inside, the recon boys pulled up to a block away from the warehouse. We waited ten minutes for Harris to show. When he didn’t, we went in with ‘guns a-blazing.’


I ended up shooting Damon personally with my handgun. An hour later, I sat in the Sunnydale Airport, waiting for my flight to be announced. I was glad that was all over. At that moment, the recon boys would be escorting Damon and his followers to a private airstrip where they would be flown to Watcher HQ. Unsurprisingly, among the Watchers that Damon had suckered in was the same Watcher I assigned to watch Harris after Damon disappeared. I am sure going to have trouble finding someone reliable to watch the Sunnydale High student in the future. Rumor is that the Tribunal’s talking about reforms in an attempt to identify any renegade Watchers hidden within our organization. Maybe that’ll do some good.


As I waited for my flight, I dialed the number Elmwood had given me. She answered it. "It’s Dawson," I told her. "Damon and ten of his pals are on their way to France. Did you want me to join them?"


Elmwood sounded relieved. "That’s not necessary, Mr. Dawson. For all it’s worth, thank you for your help. Did you run into any…unexpected problems?"


"None," I answered. She sounded relieved by that.


After saying our farewells, we hung up.



*****


Date: Sat, 3 April 1999 17:52

From: M_Harker@field.us.watcher.org

To: J_Dawson@field.us.watcher.org

Subject: Re: looking for someone?



First, I'd like to apologize for losing Lionhardt. It's the first time it's happened in twelve years, I assure you. Lionhardt, I thought, just wasn't the type to disappear all of a sudden. I went home for the night, and when I returned the next morning to resume Watching him, Lionhardt was gone. He wasn't at home, his car was still in the driveway, he didn't show up for work at his occult shop or at his dojo, and on top of all of that, he wasn't at any of his usual haunts. I tried tracking his credit cards, but he didn't use them the entire week he was gone.


So he was in Sunnydale? I should have guessed. I promise you, Joe, it won't happen again.



Mina



*****


April 4, 1999

Seacouver, WA



I'd been back in Seacouver for a day or two when Alex LaVelle showed up at the bar. I wasn't too surprised to see him; Ron had warned me that Alex was heading this way. Even so, I found myself staring. I hadn't seen Alex for months, not since the last time I was in Paris. I compared him to my memory of Harris, and there was no doubt: they were identical.


I gave him a welcoming smile. "Alex! What brings you to my humble establishment?"


Alex grinned back. "I think you know, Joe. It's about what you were doing in Sunnydale."


I nodded and grabbed a bottle and two glasses. The two of us took a seat at the bar. "That Watcher you assigned to me is pretty good," Alex commented as I filled his glass. "Does he know about everything? You know, vampires, spells, all of that?"


I nodded. "And then some." That was another thing Elmwood had told me about when I got back to Seacouver. Actually, the first thing she'd done, seven hours after I'd arrived back at my apartment, was take me out to the closest graveyard. She'd made sure I had my stake with me, then she gave me custom-made wooden bullets for my handgun. "Shoot him through his heart, or hers," she'd told me. "If you can't get the heart, shoot him anyway. It won't kill him, but it will slow him down."


Then, she'd walked over to the nearest fresh grave. It was only then that I noticed that something was breaking through the grave's surface. The next thing I knew, the grave's occupant had burst free. The first thing I thought was that it was an Immortal reawaking from death. Then I saw his disfigured face and knew that he was a vampire.


I shot the bastard without another second's pause. I didn't hit his heart, but I managed to weaken him enough that Elmwood rushed in and staked him. Then, to my shock, the vampire burst apart into dust.


I'd needed a strong drink after that, and I was still recovering from the shock of it all. We'd returned to my bar, and while I downed a scotch she handed me a list of every Watcher under my supervision that knew about the demonic community. It turned out that they'd sent revised reports to me and sent the full reports of the actions of their supernaturally involved assignments directly to Elmwood.


Alex took a long swig of his beer. "You've probably got a lot of questions about the relationship between Alexander LaVelle Harris and myself. Well, I've decided to tell you the truth. We're the same person."


I nodded, remembering the theory Elmwood had shared with me. "Time travel." I sounded calm when I said that, as if this was a normal conversation for me. With everything I'd read and seen about in the past few days, it might as well be.


He looked surprised. "What?"


I shrugged. "It's one of the theories we've got. Is it true?"


He nodded. "How many people in the Watchers now about this?"


"What, about you and Harris? About a handful. About vampires and the works? A few more."


He shook his head in disbelief. "So much for trying to keep a low profile with the Watchers," he muttered. "That's only half of the story, however," he said, a little louder. "I want you to know that I am going to Sunnydale in a few days."


I frowned. "Why? You haven't been down there for years. You're not going to talk to your younger self, are you?"


"Not exactly," he said. "Maybe I should start from the beginning. Let me tell you how I got sent back in time in the first place. I'd been Immortal for only a few months. I helped fight the good fight with my friends at Sunnydale High. Only one day, as he often does, Giles predicted the upcoming apocalypse. It wouldn't be the first one we had to stop, so it wasn't a big deal. Ones of my friends, Willow, was-er, is-a witch, and she had to perform this counter spell that would prevent the end of the world. Only, the spell backfired, and I, along with Giles and Anya, the woman who would eventually become my first wife, were accidentally sent back in time to two years before the birth of Christ."


"All of this happened two thousand years ago for me, on the thirteenth of April of the year 1999. For my younger self, all of it will take place in nine days' time…"



*****


Summer, 1999

Paris, France



Jeez, and I thought I was warming up to all of this stuff about magic and creatures that go bump in the night, but I was just getting started. What Alex told me - about the spell, about the proposition that Doyle guy gave him about Alex merging with his younger self, everything - it was quite a chuck of info to process. I operated on autopilot that night, and it wasn't until the next day when I began to examine everything he'd told me from every angle. Alex planned to stop the time-travel spell. What the hell would happen after that, he had no idea. He just knew that, somehow, he and Harris would become one being. That sounded scary as hell. I wondered if Alex was completely sure that he knew what he was doing.


Alex took a plane to Sunnydale a few days after his explanation. Every free moment I had during that week was spent checking my e-mail and making sure my cell phone was on and had fresh batteries. Ron sent me daily reports. On the afternoon of April 13th, I found these in my inbox:



*****



Date: Tues, 13 April 1999 6:53

From: R_Calais@field.weu.watcher.org

To: J_Dawson@field.us.watcher.org

Subject: lost him



LaVelle entered Harris' high school at 3:51 AM this morning. At a little before sunrise, blue sparks resembling a Quickening shot up from the area of the school library toward the sky. I rushed over to the side of the library and glanced in at the window. All I saw was the librarian, Rupert Giles, standing up from a kneeled position on the tiled floor. The implements of a spell remained around him. I think I recognized all the ingredients. I will try to determine what spell he performed. LaVelle wasn't anywhere in the library. I searched the grounds, but he'd disappeared. I drove out to LaVelle's hotel in case he returned there.



Calais



*****



Date: Tues, 13 April 1999 7:35

From: R_Calais@field.weu.watcher.org

To: J_Dawson@field.us.watcher.org

Subject: at the hotel



Rupert Giles just pulled up to the hotel in his French Citroen. He entered LaVelle's hotel room by kicking the door down. A moment later, he reappeared with Harris following him out. I'm pretty sure it was Harris because he was rubbing his wrists where LaVelle had bound them with rope.


Still no sign of LaVelle. Request assistance in search.



Calais



*****



Alex had done it. I'm not sure how I knew; I just did. He'd stopped the spell, and judging from the fact that I still remembered him, Alex LaVelle wasn't erased from history. That could mean only one thing: the merging thing was still going to take place, assuming if it hadn't already.


For weeks afterwards, I was in constant correspondence with a number of people, namely Harris' latest Watcher, Grant, as well as Calais, Methos, Alex's student Marc, and Elmwood, all calling about the same thing. To all appearances, Alex LaVelle had disappeared off the face of the earth. Only Xander Harris remained. All we could do was wait for the merging thing to take place.


If someone told me two months ago that a normal, average day for me would include a serious discussion about averted apocalypses, vampires, or similar topics, or that Alex LaVelle was really Xander Harris sent back in time two millennia, I would have kicked that person out of Le Blues Bar without a moment's pause. Now, not a day goes by without Methos or Amanda regaling me with another tale about helping Alex take down a demon or thwart the apocalypse…or rescue Amanda from some demonic trouble. Only when MacLeod stopped by did we discuss anything else.


That's an average day in the life of a Watcher, namely me. It can get pretty strange at times.



THE END



 

The End

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