Once a thief
Author’s note: Unbeta’ed all mistakes are mine. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Thanks to Deepbluejoy for the rec! Contains some dark references and behaviour. Be warned. I do not own Highlander, nor do I own Buffy the vampire Slayer. Once a Thief
It took a great deal of care and planning for one Immortal to observe another. Especially one as old and well trained as Keelin of Darini. Amanda took great care as she studied the older Immortal’s life and behaviour. It seemed that somehow Keelin had picked up not one, but two daughters.
Knowing the mischievous yet kind-hearted nature of her mentor in the art of gentle thievery, Amanda wondered who had died and requested she take care of her children. Adoption was the only way in which an Immortal could have children after all.
A pang in her heart was quickly repressed. Amanda would not mourn for what she could not have.
Joyce, as she was calling herself, left for work after seeing her daughters off to school. After a slight hesitation, Amanda followed the older daughter. Just to see what she got up to, with Keelin as a role model.
What she saw during the day was fairly tame, playing a little hooky. But at night, that was an entirely different matter.
BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS The Gallery, later that day
Joyce Summers was balancing the books. Which was more difficult than it sounded. Her Gallery was solvent, but only just. So she carefully needed to splice in income from other sources. Sources much older than the gallery. Much, much older. She really needed to arrange an inheritance from a distant relative, to make life easier.
She stiffened when she felt it. The door opened and a dark-haired woman came in, smiling slightly at her surroundings. “Dear me. How the mighty have fallen.”
“Amanda,” Joyce said in a resigned tone of voice. “What are you doing here?”
Amanda chuckled and sat down on one of the couches Joyce provided for viewing various pieces. “I thought I’d drop in for a visit, doncha know? For old times sake?”
“Last time I saw you, you were headed for the horizon, leaving me to handle a street full of Nazi’s,” Joyce replied evenly. “Whatever ‘old times’ mean to you, Amanda, to me they now merely mean that next time I see you, the encounter will end with you a lot shorter.”
“Still going on about that?” Amanda sniffed. “That was ages ago.”
BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS HLHL BtVSBtVS Berlin, Museuminsel, the Pergamonmuseum, 1936
Keelin of Darini was exceptionally skilled at her chosen profession. For close on three thousand years she’d been one of the most elusive and most successful thieves, ever. Mostly she worked for herself, sometimes she took a commission. Tonight she was helping an old apprentice. Amanda was much younger and a lot more impulsive. It tended to land her in considerable trouble on occasion.
But Keelin had to admit that tonight’s caper was worth it. It had annoyed her for years that the so-called treasure of Priam lay in a Berlin museum. *I stole it first, dammit!*
she thought sulkily. And it wasn’t like it was easy sneaking into the Trojan palace while the army lay without its walls and was intent on burning it down. She’d even buried it, safely out of their reach. And then the stupid wall had collapsed on top of her cache and Keelin really did not fell like doing a lot of heavy lifting. And when she’d come back the bloody Trojans had rebuilt! Right on top of it!
It was almost enough to make a girl give up her life of crime.
She tapped her thin bladed knife into a small gap and clicked aside a latch. Then she levered the window open, slipped inside and waited for Amanda to follow her. The younger Immortal made a slight sound and Keelin gave her a look of disapproval.
Amanda rolled her eyes and headed off towards the right. Keelin frowned. She was quite sure that the Troy exhibition was the other way, but Amanda didn’t stop. She headed down the stairs, towards the Pergamum exhibit itself. Keelin followed.
“What are you doing?” she finally hissed as Amanda started poking around the base of the rebuilt temple.
“Looking for something,” Amanda replied. “I left it here earlier. It’s far more important than your silly headdress.”
“Ri-ight. And what is it and why didn’t you tell me about it before?” Keelin crossed her arms. “And why do we need to get it in the middle of the night?”
“Just some stuff I got from a friend,” Amanda replied evasively.
“A friend? Who gives you valuable things?” Keelin lifted a disbelieving eyebrow. “Sounds unlikely. More likely is he’s some poor shmuck you robbed blind.”
“Have a little faith in me, Keelin. He gave them to me for safekeeping,” Amanda insisted. “He knew they were onto him and wanted them safe.”
“And he picked you? Not the world’s greatest judge of human nature is he?” Keelin sighed good-naturedly. “You could just have asked, you know. I probably still would’ve helped.”
Amanda coughed. “Maybe. Look, we can go up later,” she stepped on one of the ancient carvings, climbed up agilely and reached into a hollow between two marble plates invisible from the ground level. She took out a soft velvet bag and hastily tucked it into her small rucksack. “There. All done.”
Keelin rolled her eyes. “Come on then,” she walked back up the steps to the Try exhibition. They reached the room and Keelin was picking the lock on the door when she heard the footsteps. And then she saw Amanda duck out of a window. And knew she’d been caught. Now she had to hope that Amanda would come save her.
Heinrich Voss. They wanted to know about Heinrich Voss. They beat her and she kept telling her she didn’t know. And they beat her again. They wanted plates, printing plates that Voss had made, deep in the bowels of the Gestapo building, plates so good that the American Mint couldn’t tell the difference. Paltes Voss had stolen.
Plates Voss had hidden, before he died. Handed over to a female accomplice. But Keelin didn’t betray Amanda, even now. Amanda had to come and save her.
And that was when she died the first time. She really didn’t like remembering what happened after that.
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“Yes. And I spent about half of that age getting killed, again and again, getting experimented upon,” Joyce opened one of the long drawers of her desk and withdrew a sword. “Actually, screw waiting for next time.”
Amanda’s eyes widened. “Y-you’re not serious!”
Joyce rose. “Deadly. There is one advantage of this town. If I say you attacked me with a sword and I killed you in self defence? No one will even bat an eyelash in between the barbeque fork incidents and the wild dog attacks.”
“B-but we’ve been friends for centuries,” Amanda had risen and drawn her sword.
“Were friends,” Joyce corrected her coldly. “You broke the Code, Amanda. You abandoned me. It’s really very clear to me now. It’s amazing what ten years of being held by the Nazis and another twenty by the Russians will do to your outlook on life.
Amanda winced “I’m sorry about that, yeah. Really I am.”
“Are you? I’ve been out for thirty years, Amanda. Didn’t hear from you then, not a single letter or signal of apology,” Joyce moved between the taller woman and the door. “Nor did I see any attempt on your part to break me out.”
Amanda licked her lips. “Look, you need my help?”
“Do I? Knowing you, you need a fall guy for a job you thoughtlessly accepted, and refusal no doubt will lead to painful consequences,” Joyce raised her sword higher, appraising her opponent.
Amanda shivered under the cold gaze. “Your daughter is the Slayer!”
“I know. Much though I might try to deny it,” Joyce’s sword did not waver.
“Where did you get them, anyway?” Amanda asked, curiously.
“Oh, an old manuscript. I discovered what we are. And how we can procreate,” Joyce smiled evilly.
Amanda gasped in shock.
“And you will never find out what it feels like to be a mother, Amanda,” Joyce stepped closer and her sword dipped under Amanda’s guard, ripping her shirt and drawing first blood.
“I was trained by my father to defend my honour. You were trained to herd sheep,” Joyce sneered at Amanda’s surprised expression.
Amanda raised her sword, desperately parrying an attack. “She and her friend Faith broke into a store! And they fought these vampires and Faith killed a guy by accident! She’s going off the deep end!”
Joyce caught Amanda’s sword with the hilt of her own and pushed the dark haired Immortal back against the couch. “Really? I’ll need to interfere then. The poor girl has needed guidance for a long time but that stupid boy Wesley keeps telling me I should not interfere. But enough is enough. I’ll have a word with those idiot Watchers. Both of them.”
Amanda rolled over the couch, but Joyce’s sword cut into her back. She staggered to her feet as Joyce vaulted the couch and landed right in front of her, backhanding her across the face and then slammed her hilt down on Amanda’s sword hand.
With a cry Amanda dropped her weapon and Joyce kicked it away. “Please!” Amanda begged.
Joyce smiled grimly and slammed the brass knuckles on her other hand hard into Amanda’s temple.
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Faith was not crying. Big strong girls from Boston did not cry. She was packing as quickly as she could. She’d head for the mayor’s office. Maybe he would keep her out of jail.
Suddenly the door of her crummy motel room flew open and Joyce Summers stalked in, her daughter’s ear firmly in her grasp.
“Ms. S? B? What’re you doing here?”
“My name is Ms. Summers. You are coming with me. And both of you are grounded until you’re thirty!” Joyce growled. “Skipping school? Or in your case, not going at all?” She glared at Faith, who gulped. “Breaking and entering? Theft?”
She practically threw Buffy on the bed, where the blonde sat sniffling and rubbing her ear. “And not telling me in what kind of circumstances Faith lives in? You are in such trouble Buffy Anne Summers!”
“Yeah? Grounded? How’re you gonna do that? Last I heard, you weren’t my mom and not the boss of me!”
“No, that was Dr. Dormer. I put little… pressure on that Wyndham-Pryce boy and Rupert. Neither of them is your guardian. I offered, you know, it’s amazing what people will do when you’ve got a high priced lawyer. So for all intents and purposes, Faith Hope Charity Lehane? You’re mine!” Joyce growled.
During her rant Joyce had been bending over more and more towards Faith, who was hunkering in on herself and leaning back at the same time. Each of her names seemed to hit her like a sledgehammer.
“B-but I killed a guy…” she whispered.
“Alan Finch, yes. Who was the vice mayor to a man who wants to Ascend and kill a lot of people. I don’t know about you, but I doubt he was lily white,” Joyce remarked as she took in the room fully. “Let’s pack you up, young lady!”
“They’ll arrest me!” Faith wailed.
“No they won’t. How can a teenage girl slam a wooden chair leg into a fully grown man’s chest, shattering his breastbone and four ribs? Front and back?” Joyce poked Faith’s forehead with a finger.
“Use that brain of yours, girl! It took my lawyer three minutes to have any charges against you thrown out. Besides, you were with Buffy, Dawn and me, at home, getting the law laid down on you for your earlier crimes, when I decided you needed a firm hand,” Joyce looked down at the two teens who both gulped, wide eyed and nodded.
“B-but what about the Watchers’ Council?” Faith whispered.
Joyce ran a hand over her face. “I called in some favours. It has to do with who I am. We’ll go into that later. Suffice it to say, neither Council nor Rupert will be offering any objections, if they know what is good for them.”
She glared down at the two already chastened girls. “Well? What are you two waiting for? Buffy, help Faith pack. Faith? Those trousers are far too tight. We’ll be getting you some more clothes.”
Faith nodded meekly. “Yes, Ms. Summers.”
“And food. You look half starved. And that shower is a disgrace, it’s a wonder you don’t smell like a sewer. I’ve arranged for testing at Sunnydale High tomorrow, so you’ll be placed in the correct grade. Willow, Xander and Buffy can help you study so you can catch up with them, those two need a good talking to as well! Cheating on their boyfriend and girlfriend. Really!”
Buffy made a sound as if to object but a glare silenced her.
“I’ll go and pay your bill. I’ll be back in ten minutes and I want you ready and packed. If you aren’t, or have conceived the strange notion that if you leave I will not find you? Think again!”
Joyce turned and strode out of the room. Faith blinked back tears. “She wants to take me in? She wanted to before? I-I just thought she wanted me to fight instead of you?”
“Mom says it’s easy to think about the sacrifice of soldiers if all they are is a number and a rank, not a person,” Buffy explained, rubbing her ear again. “And it won’t be all fun. She means it about the grounding. And we’ll be paying for what we messed up in that sports goods store.”
“I set you up to fall, why is she taking me in?” Faith whispered.
Buffy shrugged. “Yeah, we’ll need to talk about that. But you know, you don’t have the monopoly on dumb stuff when you’re scared shitless.”
Faith smiled bitterly. “B? I thought I was going to jail, or worse. I was running to the Mayor, to keep me out, away from Wesley’s goons.”
“Yeah, Mom said you might try that if we didn’t hurry,” Buffy looked awed. “I never saw anyone so cowed as Wesley when she was finished with him. Except possibly Giles.”
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Amanda came back to life, blinking against the bright light shining into her eyes. She groaned, then shook her head, trying to clear the cobwebs. She felt that she was tied to a cross and not wearing very much. Except for a ball gag and some strategically placed bits of cloth.
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the House of Darini. Tonight, and many nights to follow we shall have a special floorshow.”
Amanda stiffened. She knew that voice. She opened her eyes a crack. Keelin was standing next to her, dressed in a tight, white leather corset, short skirt and thigh high leather boots with five inch heels. She knew the outfit well, it had been a favourite with the Paris Bohemians in the 1910’s and later in London and New York as well. Once, The House of Darini had been the most exclusive chain of houses of assignations in the world. Madame Dorion’s had taken them over when Keelin disappeared, but suddenly Amanda wondered who really was in charge now.
“Well now, it seems that our guest has awakened,” that warm familiar voice purred. “Shall we see what we can do with her, ladies and gentleman? Now, for after the show, who wants to start the bidding for Amanda’s delightful services?” End Note: Very little of the Sneak thievery. Hope it satisfies nonetheless…