Title: Because I Could Not Stop
Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things
Highlander belong to Davis/Panzer, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Summary: Response to Poetry Challenge #1. I started wondering why no one had
done this pairing yet for the challenge, considering who our favorite ROG
was at one point *grin*.
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
-- Because I could not stop for Death, Emily Dickinson
The car sputtered and died in what Willow was unhappy to note was the
‘middle of nowhere’. She sighed, letting it coast to a stop on the shoulder
of the road, laying her head on the steering wheel as it ground to a halt.
This was great. Just frickin’ great! In the middle of nowhere, at night –
and she was pretty sure her cell phone hadn’t had service in this area for
the last five miles.
Yep, she frowned – glaring at the bit of plastic, no service. Why did that
not surprise her? She could hardly get service a block from home, much less
. . .here.
She was going to kill Giles for this. No more driving to some backwards
little town just to get a ‘rare’ book. It wasn’t even a research book, for
Goddess’ sake! Not that she’d known that before she left Sunnydale. Oh no,
why would Giles have bothered to tell her she was driving to some little
Washington blip on the map to pick up some ancient book of . . .poetry.
The book in question was wrapped up, snug as a bug, and lying on the
passenger’s seat of the car. She was half-tempted to toss it out the window,
as payment for the pains she’d taken so far. First the long drive here, then
the finding of the small town, near a little lake, finding the person
selling the damned book, and now –this-. Stuck, until someone else happened
to wander along on this little backwoods road. And how long could –that-
take? Hours? Days? How many people honestly drove this road, especially this
late at night?
As if in answer to that silent query to the gods, headlights appeared in her
rearview mirror. She blinked rapidly, but they were still there. Not just an
illusion. And they were getting closer. Hopefully the person would see her
and not just drive by.
“Guess I should get out of the car,” she muttered, praying silently at the
same time that this person wouldn’t be some sort of axe murderer or
Outside was cold, colder than she would have liked, and she found herself
shifting anxiously from foot to foot as the headlights grew closer in the
darkness. When she judged it to be only a couple hundred yards away she put
her arms in the air, waving frantically and hoping that whoever was driving
would see her and stop. Her breath was a white fog in the coldness as she
And the car slowed. Slower. Slower.
And. . .stop!
She hid a smile, thanking the gods for looking out for her tonight. Keeping
her hands out in the open, as if to say ‘not a threat’, she walked over to
the driver’s side window.
“Hi,” she murmured, smiling shyly at the somewhat good looking man that was
sitting there, looking at her with curious eyes. “My car broke down. . .Don’
t suppose you have a cell phone and could call AAA for me?”
The corner of his mouth lifted in what she could only think of as a smirk.
“Sorry. Cell phones have never been my thing.”
She shivered. Not only cute, but rather British as well. With an accent
that, in any other circumstances, would have made her all tingly. As it was,
the feeling she got was still close.
“Oh,” she sighed. “Well, darn.”
“And even if I did, I somehow doubt AAA could get out this way any time
soon,” he offered, that same mocking smirk on his lips. Or was it playful?
His eyes were kind. It hardly seemed as though he meant to be mean to her.
And mocking –would- be mean. So, yes, playful was just the right expression
for it, she decided in all of a few seconds.
“Well that bites,” she muttered with a shake of her head.
“Would you like a ride to town? You could wait there until morning. I’m sure
they have a mechanic or two that could help.”
It was either that or stay out there, in the cold and dark, hoping for
someone else to happen along so that –
So that what? She could call for the Automotive Club and –hope- they
happened to have a tow truck out here in the middle of nowhere.
She smiled, nodding. “I’d like that, thanks.”
“Not a problem. Did you need to get anything from your car?”
Willow frowned. “I should just leave that stupid book in there. It would
serve him right.”
She paused, blushing. Babbling in front of strangers would only make her
seem. . . crazy. And crazy was definitely not what she needed him to think
of her. She nodded, turning back to the car. Within only a minute she had
her purse, the dead cell phone, and Giles’ book. At least now there was
nothing in the old piece of junk for anyone to steal, except for a some holy
water and stakes in the trunk that she was just sure would seem odd if
anyone found them.
The passenger’s side door was already unlocked when she put her hand on the
handle, and she opened it gratefully, sliding into the warmth with a soft
“Cold?” her benefactor inquired.
“A little,” she shrugged. “No big thing now that I’m not out there.”
He nodded, a soft smile on his lips. “My name is Adam, by the way.”
“Willow,” she grinned. “And, thanks, again. I was starting to panic, just
sitting there in the dark.”
“I can imagine. You’re lucky – not many people use this road.”
She laughed. “Not many people go to that little town back there? You’re
kidding me, right?”
Methos felt his smile widen a bit at her cheerfulness. She really was very
lucky he’d decided to leave the cabin a day early. For that matter, she was
lucky he hadn’t chosen to stay at the bed and breakfast when he reached the
other side of the lake. No one else would be coming along this road tonight.
The townspeople rarely left their little haven of solitude, and few ventured
out this way, especially after sunset in the middle of winter. MacLeod, for
all that he loved the wilderness, rarely came out here in the winter
Thus the reason Adam had chosen to make his newfound annual trip to the
little cabin in the middle of a lake, right smack dab on holy ground. He had
grown to enjoy that solitude, for all that it lacked the comforts of more
civilized surroundings. At least there, in the midst of all those trees and
wild animals, no Immortal could come looking for him. Not for Adam Pierson
and not for Methos. Not for any of the faces he had worn over the years. Oh,
they could still come, he supposed. But it would not do them any good.
He had been half afraid, when he saw this little red head sitting next to
him, that an Immortal had finally found him. That he would be forced into a
fight for all that he didn’t want one.
But she hadn’t been Immortal. Not even pre-Immortal. There was no buzz
associated wit her. Just a pretty little thing stranded in the middle of
He was happy to help, of course.
“Are you from around here?” he asked, conversationally enough, watching her
out of the corner of his eyes.
“No, California,” she shook her head. “I just came out here to get this . .
. old, dusty book.”
He turned just enough to see the text she was holding. The leather was old
and cracking from what he could see in the little light inside of the car.
“It’s a book of poetry, in case you’re wondering. Some first edition
something or other,” she laughed lightly. “And, as I said, Giles is dead for
sending me all the way out here to get it. I mean – it’s like the man’s
never heard of FedEx or UPS or Airborne Express or –“
“I get the point,” Methos chuckled. “He was just worried that the shipping
would further damage it, I’m sure. Something that old must be taken great
care of to prevent it from, well, falling to pieces.”
“I know,” she sighed. “And won’t Giles be thrilled to hear that a fellow
book lover helped me out. I just. . .dunno, middle of nowhere, far from
home, and car breaks down. Sounds like the plot for a made for TV movie.”
He saw her shiver and rub her hands together. The car didn’t heat that well,
and he knew it. His own hands were covered in warm gloves. She didn’t look
like she’d dressed at all for the weather. Probably didn’t imagine for a
single second that her car would break down and leave her stranded. He
pursed his lips together, thinking on the problem.
“There’s a blanket behind the seat if you’re cold,” he offered, the solution
making itself clear. A trace of a smile flitted over his face, pleased that
for once his tendency to just toss his things in the back instead of the
trunk was working out for someone’s good. It was a nice, thick blanket, too.
The same one he’d used to keep himself warm while in the cabin.
Only when she gasped did he realize his mistake.
His very large, sharp mistake.
He has a sword.
In the car.
Not an axe murderer, she told herself. A sword murderer. Hadn’t there been a
rash of odd beheadings in Washington state a few years back? She swallowed,
hand on the blanket, unable to tear her eyes from the sword.
“I’m an antique dealer,” he offered quietly. “Don’t worry.”
“Don’t worry, he says,” she muttered to herself, managing to still grab the
blanket as she turned back to the front. There was a lump of pure fear in
her throat. He seemed nice enough. And handsome enough. But wasn’t it always
the handsome ones? Wait, no. The handsome ones were always gay or screwed up
in the head. Oh, wait. The screwed up part –would- apply. She swallowed
hard, feeling that hard lump of fear rise back up almost immediately. This
couldn’t be good. Men with swords in their cars, in the middle of nowhere.
Right. He was looking for some poor girl by the side of the road to –
“I swear to you, I’m harmless.”
Willow snorted before she could stop herself, eyes growing wide almost
immediately – her cheeks flushing with embarrassment. “Sorry, its just – you
know – guys with swords usually don’t end in happily ever after.”
The corners of his mouth rose. “You’ve had much experience with ‘guys with
“Well, no,” she shrugged, adding in the back of her mind that usually it was
vampires with sword. Or demons. Not often was it actual human men. “So, um,
She felt uncomfortable now that this was out there, just hanging in the air.
It was like a lead cloud that had descended over their little journey. Fear
could do that, she supposed.
“I can let you out if you like,” he offered, turning his head to look at her
in the darkness. “If it would make you feel better, that is.”
She hardly thought that standing out there, by the side of the road, would
make her feel any better. Especially when her fingers and toes started to
freeze off. But the offer at least made her feel a touch better. Besides,
she told herself, it wasn’t like she couldn’t defend herself. Her mojo was
good to go if needed.
“No. That’s alright.” She settled back into the seat, bringing the blanket
up to cover herself. It was taking a bit of the chill off, and that was
good. She wanted to be nice and warm if she had to do any fighting for her
She didn’t know at what point she dozed off, only that when she woke again
they were still on the road headed into town. For one moment she panicked,
worried by the thought that her odd benefactor could have taken her anywhere
while she slept.
But he hadn’t.
“Huh?” She whispered, turning to face him.
“You were whimpering in your sleep, then you woke.”
“Oh,” she frowned, thinking back on what exactly had made her wake up. “I
guess so. Don’t really remember, though.”
“It sounded something awful,” he offered. “I was about to wake you myself.
Someone named Angelus –“
He wanted to ask her how she knew that name. How she had come to know it so
intimately that it drove her into the depths of the kind of nightmares that
he had just witnessed. He knew the name. He had met the creature that it was
attached to and nothing good had come of it. In fact, it had resulted in his
By exsanguination, no less. It had been. . .far from pleasant.
And she somehow knew of Angelus.
But he didn’t ask. Asking would undoubtedly give away part of himself. The
part that he didn’t want some stranger off the literal street to know. And
he doubted she wanted to talk to him about those horrors that made her
cringe in her sleep.
He wouldn’t want to.
He didn’t, for that matter. There were many horrors that sent him screaming
in the night.
But Death – Methos, Adam, Benjamin, whoever – didn’t share his secrets.
When she dozed off again it was to a dreamless sleep, from what he could
tell. At least, there was no more whimpering. No half-screams.
Whatever she had witnessed, he felt sorry for her. There were some things
mortals just didn’t need to know about – and the creatures of the darkness
were some of those very things.
“Thanks again, for the ride,” Willow smiled, already half out of the car.
“Sorry I freaked about the. . .”
Methos smirked, nodding. “Understandable. Good luck with your car.”
The ancient Immortal watched her go, hearing those words she’d left
unspoken. Sorry she ‘freaked’ about the sword – glad you’re not some crazed
He chuckled humorlessly at the irony or a girl who had nightmares about a
crazed vampiric maniac that had accepted an offer of a ride from Death.
~*~The End – No Sequel – No Prequel~*~