Title: The not-dating kind (1/1)
Disclaimer: The Buffyverse is Joss', the HLverse belongs to Davis Panzer et al.
Distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth, otherwise just ask. I'll say yes.
Pairings: Willow/Methos, secondarily Dawn/Richie
Summary: Willow agrees to do Richie a favour. This takes place in a rather distant future in the Buffyverse - no spoilers whatsoever. As for Highlander, Richie is alive! The end of S5/beginning of S6 never happened.
A/N: Thanks to Sara for the beta. All mistakes are mine.
Merry Christmas to Shellbell, hope you enjoy this!
The not-dating kind
"Thanks a lot for doing this, Willow," Richie called from the living room.
Willow exchanged a look with Dawn in the mirror as she kept brushing the younger woman's hair. "You so owe me one, Dawnie," she told her softly, before replying more loudly, "As long as he's not a psycho killer, I guess it's no big."
Dawn was smiling brightly at Willow. "You know I've actually met him. He's not on the bad-looking side. Kinda big nose, but he's got charm."
Willow shook her head with a small amused sigh as she put the brush down. "I can't believe I'm going on a blind date. I don't do blind dates. Blind dates always get dangerous. Remember Malcolm my internet date?"
"That was ages ago," Dawn dismissed it as she took hold of the mascara, "and you won't be alone. It's like a quadruple date! For the guy's birthday."
"I'm *not* a present he gets to unwrap," Willow pointed out as she traced her eyes with black eyeliner. "This is gonna be so embarrassing. I can feel it. I wish Buffy didn't have Josh, she could have done this. She's the champion of dates."
"You'll do just fine," Dawn reassured her softly. "Now we should hurry before Richie gets real impatient."
Willow nodded and walked out of the bathroom after Dawn. The younger Summers walked up to the young redheaded man and they pecked. Willow had to admit Richie Ryan was a sweetheart. Despite her earlier misgivings about him, he had proven to be the perfect boyfriend for Dawn. He had needed a favour – a date for a friend of his – and Dawn had suggested Willow right away. How could the witch have said no?
"You both look terrific," Richie dutifully remarked as the two women slipped into their coats. He offered Dawn his arm.
Willow checked her coat for the thin stake she always kept tucked in the lining as they headed out of the apartment she shared with Dawn and Buffy. She listened absent-mindedly to Dawn and Richie's light-hearted chatter. They made a fine couple. She just hoped she would not make too big a fool of herself with Adam. She was so not a pro at the dating thing.
"Relax, Will, you'll do fine," Dawn told her again as they walked out of the building into the cool night air.
Willow smiled at the younger woman, aiming to show confidence she did not feel. "Sure I will."
"You shouldn't worry too much about Adam," Richie added with that soft smile of his. "He can be a bit of a grizzly bear, but he tends to act the fool instead in front of beautiful women."
No risk of that tonight, then, Willow told herself, unsure whether Richie's words were really supposed to be comforting. Seeing Dawn elbow him with a glare tended to suggest that they weren't.
"I've never dated a bear," Willow replied with a nervous smile. "It's bound to be an interesting experience, right?"
They had reached the small restaurant where they would spend the evening and Richie held the door for the two women. Willow looked around the place and decided she liked it. She had never tried it before and did not know what to expect of the actual food, but it looked cosy and relaxed. Yes, she liked it.
At the back of the room, a tall man with long brown hair tied back in a ponytail motioned for them to come over. Dawn walked forward eagerly with a smile – of course, Dawn already knew Richie's friends. Willow really would be the odd woman out.
"Hey Mac," Dawn greeted the man with the ponytail. "This is Willow. Willow, that's Duncan MacLeod. Mac."
"Hey," Willow said with a smile as they shook hands. He was a bit of a hottie, though really not her style.
"And this is Amanda," Dawn went on, gesturing to a woman who had remained seated.
And wow, what a woman. No, Willow had *not* checked out her cleavage. She had the loveliest of faces, too, harmonious features and big sparkling dark eyes, topped with short black hair.
"Hey," Willow said again as she shook the delicate hand.
Amanda's eyes twinkled. "Hello. A brave woman to risk a blind date with Adam."
"She's just joking," Richie hastened to clear up.
"Am I?" Amanda asked on a puzzled tone, then laughed at the distraught look on Willow's face. "I am. He's not that bad. Do you want to pick a safety word?"
"You should take Amanda's advice, kid," someone said in Willow's back. "You can never be too careful around Adam."
The witch turned around to face the newcomer. The one who had spoken was a fifty-something-year-old man with grey beard and hair and a cane. Next to him stood a thirty-something Black woman with wide features and big soft brown eyes.
"I'm Joe," he said as they shook hands.
"Cynthia," the woman introduced herself.
"Willow. Nice to meet you."
"And I was just teasing," Joe added with a gleam in his eyes. "The old man isn't that bad."
"Old man?" Willow repeated.
"Just a saying," Mac assured her. "Why don't we all take a seat? I'm sure Adam will be here soon."
"You sure are hopeful," Joe remarked as he moved forward. "Remember last year?"
"What was last year?" Willow asked, wondering if she wanted to know the answer.
"We had to drag him out of his place to the restaurant," Richie replied offhandedly as he drew Dawn's chair for her.
"He's not one for birthdays," Duncan added.
"Oh," was all Willow could say.
"But not to worry," Amanda added with a smile. "Last year he had no young beautiful woman of an incentive."
Willow shared an anxious look with Dawn.
Methos stalked towards the small restaurant. Why in the hell had he told them he would come, this time around? He should never have capitulated. But Amanda had ways to get things out of you – quite pleasant ways, at that. Methos was never letting Mac know about that one. He would not have come all the same, if it weren't for that date they had arranged for him. A friend of Richie's girlfriend, apparently. Poor girl did not know what she had signed up for. And even if Methos would have stood up on his friends without a second thought, he could not do that to the poor girl. He'd come, try to be remotely civil, then pretext a busy day tomorrow and head off.
Of course, he had had to stumble upon a Quickening-starved youth on his way. Otherwise he would have been on time, and that would have been a shame. The challenge had been quickly dispatched, but the Quickening was still unpleasantly ringing in his mind. He could think of a thousand other things he would rather be doing than going to a birthday party.
What a stupid idea at that. He did not know when his birthday was. He did not care when his birthday was. He had not celebrated a birthday in he wasn't sure how many years, and he certainly did not miss it. He was fairly certain Amanda had been the one to plant that idea in Mac's mind the previous year. Or it might have been Joe, looking for a way to irritate Methos. Good job, then.
He reached the restaurant and bottled up his resentment to present a nice front for the unfortunate girl. He spotted his friends at a table at the back – they had already ordered drinks, so it seemed, and… a beer was waiting for him at the empty seat. At least that much would go well. Now… all he could see of the poor girl was a mass of red hair.
"Good evening everyone," he told them as he reached the table. "Sorry I'm late. Something unexpected cropped up."
He saw Richie and Duncan exchange a glance as Joe's head whipped to him. Methos barely refrained from groaning at their lack of discretion. At least Amanda kept smiling at him as if nothing was the matter.
"Nothing too serious, I hope?" she asked lightly.
"Nothing I couldn't take care of," he answered.
"Then it's no excuse to ignore Willow like this," she went on, nodding towards the unfortunate girl who had come to be his date.
"Indeed. I'm terribly sorry. I'm Adam," he said, extending a hand towards her.
"Willow," she answered softly, looking every bit uncomfortable as they shook hands.
She was lovely, in any case. Pixie-like features, green eyes, she was the picture of cuteness. Maybe this evening would not be such a waste of time after all. He let warmth show in his eyes.
"I'm really sorry about the delay," he assured her as he let go of her hand.
"Don't worry about it," she replied with a small frown of her nose. "Joe was keeping me entertained with tales of your last birthday party."
Adam did not know what to say for a few seconds. She was mocking him! The picture of cuteness was making fun of him, complete with twinkles in her eyes and small laughter lines at the corners of her mouth!
Amanda laughed delightfully, and the entire table joined in, chuckling.
"You should have seen the look on your face, old man," Joe told Methos with a grin.
"I just hope you won't drink quite that much this time around," Willow added with a small sheepish smile.
Methos hung his head without looking away from her, letting the smile come at last. "I promise you I won't."
"So. You're glad you came after all?" Dawn asked Willow with a smile.
Willow smiled back. They were standing at the bar of the restaurant. The meal had been delicious; the two girls had gone to fetch some drinks.
"Yeah, I am," Willow admitted. "Those guys are so cool."
And they were. Joe owned that blues bar Dawn had told her about numerous times. Willow really liked him. He had that easy companionship thing going for him. Cynthia occasionally sang in his bar; that was how the two of them had met. She was soft-spoken and sweet, with a gentle laugh that was as musical as her resonant voice. Duncan and Amanda formed quite the stunning couple; there were sparks of all sorts flying between the two. Richie and Dawn were their usual sweet selves, and Adam… Well, Adam was another topic altogether.
"I know," Dawn replied with a big grin. "See how I could not keep from gushing about them when Richie introduced me to them?"
Willow chuckled. "Oh yeah. Buffy and I were beginning to wonder if you didn't like them more than you did Richie. Now I get it."
"What about Adam?" Dawn asked eagerly.
"Yes. What about Adam?"
Willow turned to Amanda, who had just joined them by the counter. The older woman smiled dazzlingly at Willow after ordering her own drink.
"I – he's great," Willow had to admit, feeling her cheeks heat up.
She would not say it out loud for the world, but she actually liked him. A lot. He was so smart, and he knew so much stuff, and he was always so incisive and funny. It was so great to lean back and watch him interact with Amanda, Mac, Richie and Joe. There were such bonds between the five of them, no matter that Adam acted as if he would rather get a teeth pulled out than admit it.
"Great, is he?" Amanda turned to Dawn. "What do you say?"
"I say Will's got a crush," Dawn replied with a smile. "What do *you* say?"
"I say it's all very unfortunate," Amanda replied, and Willow's heartbeat sped up. "Because so does Adam. And I'm not sure I want to wish him on any woman I even remotely like, much less something as sweet as you."
Willow smiled shyly. "You think he – he likes me?"
Amanda smiled back as they were given their cocktails. "I think he adores you." Her eyes flickered towards their table and she extended her hand as if to grab her glass, knocking Willow's cocktail over in the process. She righted it immediately, smiling apologetically at the bartender as she did so, but half of it had already spilled. "Oh, look how clumsy I am. You should order another one, Willow. I'll pay for it."
"Um – okay, thanks," Willow said with a frown.
Amanda gave Dawn her drink, took her own, then grabbed the youngest woman's elbow and stirred her towards the table.
"I'll fix you another one right up", the bartender told Willow.
"Sure thing," she replied absently as she saw Adam walk towards her.
He really did look good, too. Well, sure, he needed someone to help him pick his clothes, 'cause he looked every bit the thirty-something student who didn't care what he wore as long as he wasn't shivering or sweating, but he filled the tasteless clothes nicely. And of course, those eyes of his, and that smirk too – he looked slightly uneasy and embarrassed as he made his way over. Hmm. Could Amanda be right about his returning the crush?
"Who'd have thought Amanda for a klutz, eh?" he asked, gesturing at the spilt drink. And that accent…
"What? Oh, yeah," Willow replied with a nervous smile.
Adam smiled at her as he ordered four whiskeys straight on the rocks.
"So. You, um, enjoying yourself?" he asked as Willow's cocktail was placed in front of her.
"I sure am," she answered a bit too eagerly. "And who'd have thought, again, 'cause blind dates? Not really my thing. Not that non-blind dates are, really. I'm the not-dating kind."
"That makes two of us, then", Adam remarked with *the* smirk. Willow wanted to dissolve into a puddle of goo at his feet. Or possibly jump in bed with him. She hadn't been with a man in so long.
"But I should be asking that question, really," she forced herself to speak on. "It's your birthday. So. Happy birthday?"
The smirk grew smirkier. "Yeah. Happy birthday."
The table of their friends erupted into laughter and the moment was lost.
Willow smiled nervously as she grabbed her glass. "I should get back to them."
"Do I make you nervous?" Adam blurted out, surprising her.
She grimaced. "Did the babble-talk give it away?"
"Among other things," he acquiesced. "Look, this is stupid. I don't do dates either, really. You don't do dates, I don't do dates, perhaps we should just skip to the part where I walk you home?"
This was the moment when she would slap him or give him a piece of her mind, or possibly slap him then give him a piece of her mind. Methos knew he was not cut out for dating, among other things because he could not talk to women. He still did not know how Alexa could have fallen for his lines – but Alexa, everything about her had been special, to start with the urgency. Methos always felt the urgency, no matter that they had two months or twenty years to go, but then Alexa had been painfully aware of it, too. Willow had no reason to feel it. Such a lively young woman would not realise that death could happen at her every step. They never did.
So, Methos braced himself for the slap. Only it did not come. She was looking steadily at him, her features a mix of surprise and – reflection?
"How about I walk you home instead?" she suggested, then seemed to snap out of it and blushed slightly. "I – I mean Buffy – Dawn's sister. She might be coming back home with her boyfriend and, well, I-I-I wouldn't want to interrupt."
Methos wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth. "I'd love for you to walk me home, Willow." He glanced at their table. "And I suggest we skip the goodbyes, too."
She frowned, but then seemed to think better of it. "Alright. Let's go."
Methos got their coats from the rack, hoping nobody would turn around to check on them. He could not quite believe his luck. This had been supposed to be an annoying evening, and instead he had found himself 'on a date' with the picture of cuteness, who also happened to have quite a brain under all that red hair. And a sense of humour.
They slipped out unnoticed. "How far?" Willow asked as she took his arm.
Too far, he thought as she looked up at him eagerly. "Ten minutes, at most."
"So. You were tracing symbols with your finger on the table before dessert, and I couldn't figure out whether they were Babylonian or Etruscan?"
That almost made Methos stumble. "You know Babylonian and Etruscan?"
"I told you I knew many languages. Which one was it?"
"Babylonian," he replied absently. "I assumed you meant not quite so dead languages."
"Dead things are never as dead as you think", she replied a bit sombrely, which puzzled him. She snapped out of it. "Proof is, you still write them. How come, by the way? That part of your thesis?"
"I – yes," he answered, more and more taken aback by her. "I study an ancient legend. Such languages are needed."
"Tell me about it," she asked. "That legend."
"It's not very interesting," he supplied, cursing himself for not having lied.
Willow stayed silent for a few seconds. "Is it Immortal stuff? 'Cause I know about that."
Methos stopped dead in his tracks and she let go of his arm, turning to face him. "Richie –"
"Still hasn't told Dawn," Willow cut in. "'Cause I think she'd have told us. She doesn't have a clue. I thought I should let you know before… you know. I can sense you guys, when I touch you."
Methos was looking at her with disbelief. "Sense us? How do you know what we are?"
"I had a bit of a chat with the first guy who gave me that feeling."
"I'm a witch," Willow replied. "Buffy, Dawn and I know everything about the supernatural, trust me. So… Dawn probably won't be freaked if Richie decides to come out to her. And you won't be telling Richie even that much, unless you want me to spill the beans to Dawn. *And*… you can tell me about your 'thesis'."
A witch? Of all the people for his friends to find for him, they had found him a witch who could sense Immortals?
"It's about the oldest-living Immortal, Methos," Methos finally replied, letting her take his arm again as he walked on. "He's a bit of a myth. Dated back to at least five millennia."
"And I guess now's the time to mention I can figure out your guys' age within a few decades?" Willow asked with a grimace.
Methos let this sink in. "Yes. Well."
"Do they know?"
They walked the rest of the way in silence. Methos was trying to absorb it all. She knew it all. She was not shying away. She just – knew it all, and she had known what he was and how old he was since they had shaken hands, and he had not had a clue. As if it truly did not matter. He opened his door and motioned for her to get in.
"Would you like something to drink?" he found himself asking, his mind still lingering on those revelations.
"I'd like for you to come back to the here and now," Willow replied, and Methos snapped out of it with a sheepish smile.
"Sorry. It's just – a bit to take in."
"Hey, what should I say? My blind date's several millennia old. He probably knows how they *spoke* Babylonian." She walked up to him. "And he's the one freaking out 'cause I'm a twenty-six-year-old poor little Wicca."
Methos could not help smirking. "I'm not freaking out," he informed her.
And, as a proof of his absence of 'freaking out', he bent down to kiss her. As passion built up and they made their way to the bedroom, Methos realised he did not have a clue where this was going. Just one evening, and she had already managed to surprise him more than anyone else had in a long while, and maybe that was why he now found her more attractive than ever. He truly did not have a clue about what was coming next.
And for once, he relished in the feeling.
~~ fin ~~