Title: Calling All Angels
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Characters: Willow, Darius
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things Highlander belong to Davis/Panzer, et al. The song “Calling All Angels” is performed by Train.
Distribution: The normal places.
Summary: Sequel to “Crisis of Faith”. Duncan finds a package when going through Darius’ things. Spoilers: Season 5 Finale for BtVS. Season 1 Finale for Highlander.
// I need a sign to let me know you’re here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup //
It was hard to be here, so soon after everything had happened. But it had to be done. There were things in Darius’ office that shouldn’t just be left for the next priest that took over. Things that meant something to Duncan and to others that had come and gone during Darius’ life.
He sighed, staring across the room at the half-full boxes of personal effects, things that were too priceless or filled with history to be just tossed in the garbage. Darius hadn’t had much, and that was the only blessing Duncan found in all of this. It was short going, and he was thankful that he wouldn’t be here for very long.
It was still too painful.
The Watchers were responsible for this, that much Duncan knew by now. And Horton, the one that had led them, had escaped from him. But just this once. There would be no second chance for Horton if ever he was within Duncan’s grasp again. He would exact the kind of vengeance that he knew Darius would look down upon, but that would make his own heart feel that much lighter.
Vengeance could cleanse, too.
He glanced back down to the desk, blinking back the bitter tears that had been a constant part of his eyes for days. There was mail to be gone through, things that had piled up over the last week. Junk mail came to little Parisian churches, too, he note with a wry half-smile. That was what most of it was. Bills and letters from friends that Duncan shared with the priest in most cases. He put those to one side, vowing to contact the Immortals in question directly, either in person or via phone. This wasn’t the type of news to share in a letter.
The last letter in his hand was from an American address, California to be exact, and came from a name that Duncan didn’t recognize. Willow Rosenberg. An Immortal, perhaps, though many of Darius friends were old enough that Duncan had heard of them at one time or another. He opened the letter, reading over it briefly. She was supposed to be visiting, in a few weeks’ time. Nothing in her letter indicated that she was anything other than a mortal acquainted. No doubt one of many that Darius had befriended over the years. Someone that he had helped through a crisis or offered kind words of wisdom.
There was no phone number included, though Duncan didn’t find that odd at all. He glanced around Darius’ desk, looking for any sign of a way to contact this woman. But, other than her address, he had no means to speak of.
And she didn’t deserve to hear this news in a letter anymore than Darius other acquaintances did.
He sighed, gathering up the letters he had set aside, and placing hers on top. If he called the airline tonight he could have his return ticket redirected for a short stopover in California.
// I need a sign to let me know you’re here
Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me //
Sunnydale was the type of quaint California town that Duncan had pictured when he looked up the map online to get directions to Willow’s house. He smiled, driving his rental car down streets that were just big enough for cars to go in both directions, with a little parking room to either side. The lawns were well-tended, the houses evoking feelings of family.
The streets, he noted absently, were all but deserted, though it was only mid-afternoon. No children playing in front yards. No one out for a walk. He passed only two other cars during the drive through Willow’s neighborhood.
Odd, but in a small town kind of way, he decided, rolling to a stop in front of the house marked with the number from the letter.
He shut the car door, glancing around. There was no car in the driveway, nor one parked out front. It would be just his luck if no one was home and he was left standing around waiting for hours.
And this was a task he would just as soon get over and done with. There was no easy way to break the news of a friend’s death – and there was no getting around the fact that Willow and Darius had been friends. Her letter had been nearly ten pages long, and had talked of things much too intimately to be a stranger.
He pressed the doorbell, tapping the opened letter against his hand. It only took a moment before the door swung open, exposing a brunette teenage girl.
“Hello?” She asked politely, her eyes wary. Good kid, he thought to himself. Too many teens these days were all too willing to be overly friendly to a stranger. He’d get none of that with this girl, he could tell.
“I’m looking for Willow Rosenberg.”
She raised her eyebrows, crossing her arms with a decided scowl on her face. “Wills! Someone here to see you!”
Duncan winced. She had a good set of lungs on her.
He heard feet on the stairs before he actually caught sight of the one that had to be Willow. She was petite, with bright red hair that put Richie’s blonde-red locks to shame with their vibrancy.
“Hi,” she smiled tentatively. “I’m Willow. And you’re –“
“Duncan MacLeod,” he offered. “I need to speak with you regarding Darius.”
Her green eyes flitted down to his hands, to the letter that he had continued to tap against his palm without even realizing it. As if that was an omen she knew all too well, her face fell.
“Let him in, Dawnie. It’s alright.”
The brunette swung open the door, face a careful mask of cool indifference as he stepped into the house. She breathed a soft sigh of relief, shutting the door behind him.
“It’s daylight, you know.” Willow smiled sadly at the girl.
“Can never be too safe.” The teen shrugged cryptically. “Want me to get some soda or something?”
“Do you want something to drink?” The red head turned back to him. “We have soda, water, tea. . .”
“Water is fine,” he smiled. “Is there somewhere we can talk.”
“Yeah,” she nodded, biting her lower lip. Her eyes were unfocused, as if she were thinking about something. “In here’ll be good, I guess.”
He followed her silently into the living room, taking a seat on the sofa when she sat in one of the chairs. She gestured at the letter.
“I take it he never got that?”
Duncan shook his head, permitting himself a tiny sad smile. “It was a few days too late, I’m afraid.”
“Right,” she nodded. There were tears glittering in her eyes. Pain that he shared. Darius had been his friend for hundreds of years, but that didn’t mean he hurt more than she did. Or that her pain was less worthy. Friendship was friendship. And it hurt when it was gone.
“Can. . .” She stopped, shaking her head. Her hand came up to press at her lips, holding back the sobs he could see building in her chest. “How? Can I ask how?”
Duncan sighed. “He was attacked.”
Her green eyes flew to his, mouth forming into a tight line. She took a deep breath through her nose, the room filled with the ragged sound. “And the one who attacked him?”
“Escaped.” He said the word as emotionlessly as possible, fearful to let his own anger over it all transfer to her just by speaking the words. She seemed to be hovering right on the edge between pain and rage.
“Here’s the –“ Duncan looked up at the teen that had reentered the room. Her dark eyes went to him, glaring. “What did you do?”
He sighed. “Someone she knew. . .died.”
“Oh, oh no.” The girl muttered, setting the glass of water on the table so hard that they sloshed over. Willow was rocking back and forth now, her eyes distant, darker than he remembered. “Tara! Tara!!!”
Duncan glanced up from Willow to the teen, forehead creasing with confusion. Tara? The question died on his lips as more footsteps pounded down the stairs. A blonde haired woman appeared quite suddenly, looking as if she’d just thrown on some clothes. She took one look at Willow and moaned softly in sympathy, jogging to drop to her knees next to her.
“Shh, baby. It’s alright,” the one called Tara whispered, grabbing hold of Willow’s head between her hands. “Just breathe with me, ‘kay?”
Duncan tore his gaze from the two women to look at the teen. Dawnie had been what Willow called her, but that sounded more like a nickname than anything.
She nodded once, tersely.
“A friend of mine, and hers as well – Darius,” he offered, wondering if that name would even mean anything to her.
It did. He could see by the look on her face, the way her eyes clouded over. “Oh. No, no, no. We were gonna go visit him at the end of the month!” She sniffled, glancing over her shoulder at Willow and Tara. “He was the one that helped Willow when. . .”
“When what?” Duncan prompted the teen.
“When my sister died,” she whispered, her eyes flying to his. “He helped her when my sister died. I’m really just here to visit for the summer. . .then I go back to my dad’s. Now that Buffy’s gone him – and my friends here – are all I’ve got. I was looking forward to meeting Darius. Willow said he made her feel better.”
“I’m sorry,” he murmured, aware all too keenly of how fresh the pain looked on her face. A year, maybe less. They’d been through so much in this little house. The quiet neighborhood really was a horrible cover-up for the pain that lurked beneath the surface, where no one could see it.
“It’s okay,” Dawn smiled sadly, wiping away her tears. “I’m sorry for you, too.” She offered. “You said he was your friend.”
“For a very long time,” he nodded.
She reached down to pay his shoulder, turning back to where Willow and Tara still sat, heads together. He couldn’t hear what the blonde was saying, but it was at least keeping the red head from flying off the handle. Her sobs were slowly subsiding into soft sniffles. . .and eventually those faded away to even breathing.
Tara sighed, moving away from the gently sleeping Willow. “I’m sorry about that. Darius. . .he was special to her.”
Duncan nodded. He knew all too well what Darius could mean to people. That was what he had meant to him, too. A source of light in the darkness. Something to hold tight to when the world seemed like it was caving in.
“Will you let us know if they ever find the guy that did it?” She whispered to him, eyes pleading.
“Of course,” he nodded, knowing a dismissal when he heard one. He’d let them know the moment he found Horton and tore his vengeance from the man’s hide. It was the least he could do, if it would offer them any peace of mind. He stood, casting a glance at Willow. “Will she –“
“She’ll be fine,” Tara nodded. “We’re tough people, don’t worry.”
He smiled at the fire in the blonde’s voice. With that steel behind her he didn’t doubt for one moment that they’d be just fine.
“Here’s the number for the house,” Dawn offered, thrusting a slip of paper into his hand. “You know, so you don’t have to come flying in next time.”
Duncan nodded. “It was nice to meet you all.”
Within minutes he was back on the road, headed towards the airport. Tessa and Richie would already be back in Seacouver – and if his luck held out he’d be there soon enough. Seeing Willow and Tara had reminded him how much he needed his own family right now.
But, just like those women, he’d be just fine.
He was tough, too.
// And I’m calling all angels
And I’m calling all you angels
And I’m calling all angels
(I won’t give up if you don’t give up)
And I’m calling all you angels
(I won’t give up if you don’t give up) //
~*~End Fic – As In ‘Complete’ – No Sequel~*~