This is an interlude of sorts in the Choosing ‘verse set between chapters 5 and 6 of Choices. I say of sorts because it is both more and less substantial than Bound or Envy and less directly relevant - it does not further Buffy's story in the way they do, instead the Choices parts are a framework from which flashbacks to the history of Immortals and their Game are hung. This framework is however, a less abstract scene than those depicted in previous interludes.Disclaimer:
All characters, concepts and locations from Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. I do not own Highlander, the characters and locations used from the series are the property of Davis-Panzer Productions.Spoilers:
While not necessary, reading Chosen
(to Chapter 5) will help understand the Buffy I am writing about in this story. Chosen contains details of the timeline of this series.Game Play
Buffy wasn’t sure how this would help. Sure Duncan was nice and well meaning; but his fixation on her ability to fight was unnerving. It wasn’t going to teach her what she had come here to learn.
“You might not be a part of the game but that doesn’t mean that all will believe it. Like it or not, you feel like one of us, and that means that others of our kind will come after you, will expect you to play by our rules.”
“What does it matter? If an Immortal attacks me, I’ll just kill them and run away.” It almost seemed pointless to make this argument; she could see that this man didn’t believe her capable of much.
Duncan bit back questions about her fighting skills, hardening his expression and returning to his original lesson, “The rules are there for a reason, and there are stories of dire consequences to them being broken.”
“What sort of consequences?”
He smiled, for the first time in any of their conversations the girl seemed to be taking a real interest, “Well I heard once that one was broken in Pompeii around AD 79”
“Pompeii?” her brow creased, thoughts travelling back, remembering something long ago, “But that was…” She stopped, with his reaction to vampires, Buffy wasn’t sure that bringing up Hellmouths and the results of closing them was the best idea, “Never mind… so, these rules.”The quickening flowed down the blade and into the wound causing more pain than any wound a mortal could inflict. These powers that dwelled within endlessly seeking one another out, one life force reaching for the other. As is their nature, to combine, to be one.
With his bloodied blade the old man deflected a blow from the other Immortal even as his wounded foe fell back. She was trying to manoeuvre him around, trying to force him to bare his back to the boy but he evaded her blows, moved her instead so that she was between him and her companion.
He was by far the superior swordsman, either of these children would have been defeated alone by now, and that was why they were attacking together after all. Combining each of their hundred odd years of experience to combat his thousands. The most annoying part of this venture was that it was working. That between the pair of them they were slowly witling him down.
One always managed to be there when the other began to falter, and despite the numerous nicks they’d managed to inflict, the stab to the boy’s gut was the first time he had managed to damage them in retaliation. He parried without thought, bringing his sword up to block her attack and wincing as it pulled a cut over his ribs, stumbling back.
She fell for it, lunging in for the kill without properly guarding herself, ending up skewered on his blade, gasping for breath as it passed up through her lung and into the heart. The still warm blood of the boy mixed with that of the girl, blending some trace of each of their quickenings with his.
Not that pleasure-pain that normally followed the blending of immortal life forces.
This was pure agony. The fire of three distinct lives flowing through him, through each of them from that point where their powers met. He withdrew his sword from the girl but it didn’t rid any of them of the echoes of pain.
It lessened as he dragged himself away but they still burnt through him, both those powers in his blood fighting his own. When he was far enough from them that he could stand he looked back, at where the boy had pulled himself to his companion’s side, waiting for her body to rejuvenate.
He should kill them. He should stop their cowardly antics forever but then, as the boy’s terrified gaze met his, the old man knew that alive or dead none of them would let this happen again.
All fights must be one-on-one