Ch. 2 - Research and a Revelation
This is a re-post since this chapter got munched when the site went down.
Ch. 2 Research and a Revelation
Willow stared at the picture of a demon with two heads without absorbing any of the information printed on the page of the old and rather smelly book. On the surface, she watched Xander as he made humorous and sarcastic comments while he worked his way through his book of demon mug shots. Even though Xander was quite entertaining, he didn’t occupy more than a fraction of Willow’s attention span. Underneath her quiet façade, she worried.
Introducing Methos to the gang had gone well. He had toned down the snarkiness and played the part of the friendly grad student. In other words, he had acted like Adam Pierson, not Methos. His harmless demeanor, and the fact that Willow vouched for him, had earned him a cautious acceptance among the Scoobies. Methos’ pronouncement that he could read Latin and Greek had put a huge smile on Giles’ face, and the Watcher promptly handed over half of his stack of books.
By all accounts, Willow shouldn’t be worried, but she was – because she had yet to reveal that Methos was an Immortal. She had convinced the old man that they needed to be truthful about what he was. She had many reasons, but in the end it came down to trust. She couldn’t ask her friends to trust a stranger she brought home unless she told them the truth. Willow and Methos arrived at this decision after a heated discussion that never quite devolved into a full-blown argument. Methos had finally acquiesced, but he had a condition. He refused to reveal his age or true name.
/I still can’t believe that I got him to compromise as much as he did. Now I’m sitting here having doubts. He’s getting along with them so well. I don’t want to mess anything up./
Xander sat on the floor by the coffee table. Anya had claimed a spot on the couch behind him. She absently played with a lock of his hair as she leafed through The Lexicon of Leeches. Xander closed his own book with a snap and sighed.
“You got anything, Ahn?” he asked.
Anya made a face. “Not really.” She flipped to the front of the book and glanced at the Table of Contents. “We’ve got blood-suckers, bile-suckers, brain-suckers, and marrow-suckers. There are things that will suck out magical energy, things that will suck out your life force, and…” She stopped for a moment as something on the page caught her eye, “Oh my God, there are things that will suck out your libido.”
Dawn giggled, “Kind of like a demonic anti-Viagra?”
Anya ignored her and tapped Xander on the shoulder with some urgency. “You have to stay away from T’Netopmi demons.”
“Okay, Ahn, I’ll do my best to avoid Teenet . . . Teetop . . . um, the sex-suckers, but is there anything in there that goes with the phrase Buffy heard in her dream?” Xander made air-quotes with his fingers and intoned in comically deep voice, “From Beneath You It Devours.”
“No, there weren’t even any demons that sucked stuff out through your feet.”
Everyone in the room stared at her for a moment.
Anya frowned at everyone’s reaction, “What? It’s a perfectly reasonable interpretation. Does anyone else have a better explanation for what it means?”
Xander spoke up. “She does have a point, Buff. ‘From Beneath You It Devours’ is a catchy little ditty, but it’s not a lot to go on.”
Buffy tucked a bit of hair behind her ear and shrugged. “I know. I did mention that it felt uber-evil, right?”
“Yes,” Giles said dryly as he added a book to his ‘finished’ pile, “But, aside from what seems to be a rather obvious reference to the Hellmouth, we aren’t meeting with much success. Of course, the most obvious answer is quite often wrong, so we must make sure not to overlook any of the more obscure phenomena.” Giles paused and observed the pained expressions on nearly everyone in the room. “However, I think we’ve done all we can for one night.”
All the Scoobies happily closed their books. Dawn flopped over on the floor in mock-exhaustion and used her sister’s lap as a pillow. Buffy absently stroked Dawn’s hair as she rolled her head in an attempt to work the stiffness out of her neck. Anya bent down and whispered something in Xander’s ear that made his eyes widen. Xander then thanked Anya for not making her comment out loud.
She responded by saying, “You’re welcome, now let’s go home so we can have sex.”
Giles grimaced slightly, and everybody else laughed.
Willow took a deep breath and gathered her courage. “Hey guys, wait a second, okay?”
Anya sat back on the sofa with a small huff of annoyance.
“Did you find something?” Giles asked.
Willow shot a look at Methos. He stared at her intently for a moment, and then gave her an almost imperceptible nod.
“I, um, no . . . it’s not about Buffy’s dreams or the new evil. It’s . . . well, I guess I should have said something right away, but I . . .” Willow looked down at her hands, which were holding onto a book so tightly that her knuckles had gone white.
Methos rescued Willow from her halting confession. He had a grimly determined look on his face. “It’s about me. I’m an Immortal.”
Silence reigned for a few moments until Giles said quietly, “Dear Lord.”
Buffy glanced at Willow and then at Methos. “So, you’re part demon?”
Anya spoke before Methos had a chance to answer. “Oh no, Immortals aren’t demons. They’re just different. They don’t mix with anyone but humans. In fact, when I was . . .” Anya looked at Methos and changed what she was going to say, “ . . . in my old job, I couldn’t do anything for the women wronged by them – and some of those guys really deserved it.”
“Yes, well, Anya is correct that Immortals don’t seem to associate with any other supernatural beings.” Giles contributed, “No one has ever been able to determine the reason for the separation . . .”
“Willow says it has something to do with auras and magnets.” Methos offered.
Giles shot a glance at Willow and opened his mouth to ask a question, but Methos forged on ahead. “She also said that she couldn’t ask all of you to trust me unless I revealed my deep dark secret. I understand that, but it doesn’t make me any happier about the situation. The danger to my life increases as more people know. So, I’d ask that all of you refrain from telling anyone about me.” He looked over at Giles, “Especially you. I’ve worked very hard at keeping myself out of the Watcher Chronicles for Immortals, I don’t want to show up in the ones for the Slayer.”
Giles produced a handkerchief and hurriedly began polishing his glasses.
“What’s this ‘life in danger’ stuff? You just said you were immortal.” Xander asked. “And there are other kinds of Watchers? G-man, you’ve been holding out on us.”
“Yes, there are other Watchers. There was a schism in the organization thousands of years ago. Actually, I was taught that Immortals, and their branch of the Watchers didn’t exist anymore.” By this time, Giles had put his glasses back on and acquired an anticipatory gleam in his eyes. “As for your first question, it’s quite reasonable for Mr. Pierson to wish to avoid detection. The word Immortal is a bit of a misnomer. Immortals can be killed, but only by decapitation.”
Methos winced at the revelation of the only way to kill him permanently. Giles continued, “Strictly speaking, Immortals can be killed by anything that would kill an ordinary human being, but they will revive unless they’re beheaded. They also heal very quickly.” Giles was quickly getting on a roll.
“They fight each other to the death in a process they call the Game. The theory is that the last Immortal alive will win some sort of Prize. Immortals are not demonic, and they are not evil.” Giles paused, and then added as a caveat. “At least no more so than an ordinary human.”
“Three cheers for exposition-man.” The sudden unleashing of his caustic wit clearly demonstrated Methos’ displeasure at being the center of attention. It also put the brakes on Giles’ enthusiasm. The Watcher sat back in his chair, lifted his chin a fraction, and adopted a formal and slightly disinterested expression that fairly screamed ‘defense-mechanism.’
“So, how old are you?” Dawn asked quickly in an attempt to dissipate the mounting tension.
Methos looked over at Buffy, hoping she would admonish her sister for asking such a rude question. Instead, she just sat there with an expectant look on her face.
“That’s kind of private.” He finally managed.
Dawn wasn’t deterred. “Oh come on, Buffy dated a two hundred and forty-something year old vampire. Are you older that?”
“What? You did!”
“I know, but that’s not the point.” Dawn folded her arms and quirked one eyebrow. Buffy took a deep breath and continued, “The point is . . . it’s getting late, and you have school tomorrow, and I have work, and I think we should all call it a night.”
Anya stood up. “Finally.”
Xander quickly got up as well. Giles looked like he would have liked to join Dawn in her interrogation, but he followed the tide of people toward the door.
Xander turned back to face Methos once more, “Hey Adam, you can relax. We’re used to lots of weird stuff around here. Besides, Willow says you’re okay.”
Anya tugged impatiently on his arm, so Xander grabbed their coats and they headed home. Giles left after a brief and quiet word with Buffy. Dawn went to the kitchen for a glass of water, and then made her way upstairs after saying goodnight to Willow and Methos. Buffy hesitated at the bottom of the stairs.
“There’s stuff to make up the couch in the hall closet.”
“Well, goodnight guys.” Buffy gaze settled on Methos, “Don’t worry about Giles. He just gets excited when he finds something new that he can research. He wouldn’t do anything to endanger you.” Her tone sharpened for a moment, “So, you know . . . try to be nice.” She turned to Willow and smiled, “It’s good to have you home, Wills.”
Willow watched Buffy go upstairs and then offered Methos a hesitant smile. “I thought it went well.”
“Really?” Methos’ voice was tinged with wry disbelief.
“Really.” Willow answered with what she hoped was an encouraging nod.
“I noticed you were rather quiet.”
She looked down at her feet. “Yeah, sorry about that. It just seemed to happen so fast, but I really wouldn’t worry. I think they like you, and . . .”
Methos stepped closer and placed a quick kiss on her forehead. “I’m sure it will be fine, Red. Are you sure about tomorrow? You don’t have to go if it’s too soon.”
“No, I want to go, it’s just . . . you’ll come with me right?”
“You don’t even have to ask.”
End Ch. 2