Quiet in the Library.
Arguments Are Dangerous (or ‘Quiet in the library’)
Author: Anime Ronin
Summary: A letter brings an old teacher and student together on the Hellmouth and a traditional greeting gets him shot. Don’t worry, though; he gets better.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Mutant Enemy owns Buffy, Rysher owns/owned Highlander.
(Sunnydale High School, Library)
“No! Xander, please, listen to me. I know this looks bad but I need you to put the axe down.”
Methos had woken up from death many ways but he had to admit that this was a new one. Standing over him was a stripling of a boy armed with what looked to be a headsman’s axe, the axe over his head, ready to strike, and in the boy’s way was his former student Janna Kalderash, who currently went by the name Jenny Calender. It was obvious that the boy was not thinking, Methos could see the look in his eyes, but it wasn’t fear he saw.
“Step aside, Miss C. The demon-“ Standing at about six feet tall, the boy was lean, almost lanky, but he knew better than most how well baggy clothes could hide things. Dark hair, dark eyes, a mouth that looked to be made for smirking or smiling, there was an air of joviality around him that was now somewhat replaced by restrained malice and maybe just a hint of chauvinism. All in all the typical American boy… or he would have been if not for a few glaring issues, the biggest of which was the bloody _axe_ in his hands.
“He’s not a demon, Xander,” Janna pressed, holding her hands up towards the boy. “I assure you he’s not a demon.”
“I shot him with the crossbow and he stopped breathing. He then started to get back up after I took the quarrel out. That says ‘demon’ to me.”
Methos had to admit that, given the circumstances, he would have sided with the young man had he not been the one shot. Then again, had he been in the boy’s shoes, Janna’s pleas wouldn’t have mattered and the ‘demon’ on the ground would have already been dead. Permanently. ‘This is why I don’t like answering letters from my old students. This never ends well for me or my wardrobe.’
He had gotten the letter from Janna about a week prior and it had asked him to come to Sunnydale, California for a consult on an old language. He had told her about new-fangled things called computers and e-mail, that she could have scanned the language in question and he could have seen it that way, but she had given him an answer about how a demon that had been sealed into a book had accidentally been scanned into a computer and havoc had ensued, so they were a bit gun shy about it all. He’d shown up earlier that day and had been in the middle of a rousing little argument in the supposedly empty library with his student, swords drawn, circling one another as they had so many times before, when things had gone sideways and a quarrel had slammed into his back, piercing his heart. It was a shame; he liked this shirt.
“Xander, please, listen to reason. For me?” Janna pleaded.
“He had a sword. You both had swords. He was going to attack you.” Gods above and below the boy was stubborn. Maybe he was distantly related to a certain Scot that Methos knew…
“That’s how we greet each other. My teacher is a royal pain in the ass who must be going through his sixth or seventh childhood but if he actually wanted to hurt me, he would have come in with a gun, not a sword. Please, put the axe down and let’s be reasonable,” the woman said in a soothing, melodic, almost hypnotic tone of voice. He’d taught her that, too, but she was adding her own spin to it. She was always more successful with it than he had ever been. Maybe it was the blouse she’d worn that day and the cleavage she’d liked to show all of those years ago.
The boy’s conviction wavered for a second and he lowered the axe to a ready position at his side. Methos sighed. Thank the-
Janna looked down at him and glared. “Get up, Adam. Slowly, with no sudden moves.”
“And what if I don’t want to?” he asked back, admittedly childishly.
“Then I ask Xander to cut your legs off at the knee. He’s a sweet young man and I’m sure he’d do it for me.” The axe came back up and Methos glared at the woman. Minx.
Slowly he got to his feet and looked around for his sword once there. He found it over on the table, next to Janna’s slim-bladed short sword that she had picked up in Florence back in the sixteenth century and he was glad that it was not damaged, but something told him the boy was not going to let him near it, nor was Janna. “So, what do we do now? You asked me to come here, remember?”
“I want you to have a look at a book, Adam. It’s important.”
“And the boy? Have you taken a student of your own and want him here to watch your back?” he teased her.
“I’m a teacher here, Adam,” she growled at him dangerously. “I have over sixty students. Xander works here in the library.”
“And what kind of a library has axes and crossbows in it, I wonder? I would hate to think of the problems that a call to the school board might cause.” It was, of course, a bluff, a game. He liked games and teasing Janna was a favorite pastime.
The boy, apparently, did not like games as his stance shifted, his left foot slid forwards, his knees bent and his entire body tensed. It was actually fairly decent form, which was surprising. He didn’t have the build or the frame for an axe fighter, not like Silas had been, but he supposed Janna knew what she was doing. The growl that came out next was actually a little startling and he instantly began to wonder if the boy had Nordic blood in him. He’d avoided the Vikings as much as possible when he’d sailed on the high seas, especially in the North, but he had run across a few and one of the berserkers had left a lasting impression on him.
“Stop screwing around, Adam. Xander’s more than capable of ending this fight if he needs to and I’d rather not have to help him clean up the mess that you losing your head will cause!” Janna snapped at him.
Methos arched an eyebrow at her. More than capable? Interesting. “Alright. So, where is this thing you want me to look at?”
She nodded at him and then turned back to the boy, “Thank you, Xander, but I can take it from here.”
“Are you sure?” the boy asked, clearly torn.
“Very,” she assured him. It took her two tugs but she got the axe out of the boy’s hands and Methos sighed in relief. Several minutes passed after the boy left and, once she put the axe away and came back to the table, she slapped him.
“What were you thinking, Methos?” she hissed at him. “Drawing a sword? In a school? What if someone else had walked in?”
“I never saw him,” he admitted. “Where was he?”
“He was in the back taking care of a few things. You’re lucky I was able to talk him out of taking your head, Methos. The demon situation around here has people like him on a fine enough edge but seeing someone waking up after dying doesn’t help matters.”
“So I noticed. What else have you taught him?” Methos asked Janna as she handed him a book. Oh, Etruscan? Very nice… but… hm… no, no, that wasn’t Etruscan… “And where did you get this?”
“We found it and he’s in my computer science class.”
He arched an eyebrow at her, “You _found_ this? And I mean what have you taught him with the blade? Or are you still teaching him to dance? I remember you once saying that no man should wield a sword who cannot dance.”
“I haven’t taught him anything like that, Methos. Why would I?”
“Because he’s Pre, Janna. Can’t you feel it?” To be fair, he had missed it at first and was only now realizing it.
Given Janna’s very pale face, apparently she hadn’t. “Wh- what? No, you have to be mistaken. I would have known, Methos.”
“Well, obviously you didn’t. I could be wrong but I don’t think I am.”
“You are wrong. I check the school regularly for Pre children and only two have ever come through here. Do you know what kind of a death count this town has?”
“Located over a Hellmouth? It must be staggering,” Methos shrugged. He’d run across his first demon while he had been Death but had not really made that big of a deal of it. With enough work they died like everything else. Vampires had become a constant source of entertainment and irritation over the centuries. “This looks to be Etruscan in dialect, maybe Umbrian, but something isn’t right about this. Where did you say you found it?”
“I didn’t. So it’s just Italian?”
“No, it isn’t. Besides, they take pride in that area and are never ‘just Italian’. They have their own identity. It’s like saying to someone in Ireland that they’re English or New Yorkers that they’re the same as Texans. It generally engenders a poor response from all parties involved. You should know this, Janna. You spent… what? Two hundred years in Italy?”
“I spent a decade in Florence,” she corrected him. “I left as soon as I could.”
“Ah, yes, I remember. Did Leonardo ever get you to sit for one of his drawings?”
“That hound? No. I swear if he wasn’t drawing or getting into trouble, he was chasing skirts.”
“You say that like it is a bad thing.”
“Maybe I have better taste in men.”
“Better than Leonard Di Vinci?” Methos asked. “Or maybe you were one of the throngs going after the available Medici boys.”
“We’re not here to talk about my love life or lack thereof from centuries ago, Methos. Do you recognize the text or not?”
“Of course I do,” he told her, sounding offended.
“What does it say?” she pressed with a growl.
He sighed and, after finding pen and paper, started to write it out. Troublesome. “What are you going to do about the boy?”
“What makes you think I’m going to do anything?”
“You took the time to talk him down and keep him from taking my head. You called him by name and you asked him to do it ‘for you’, which tells me that you have some kind of relationship with him, even if it’s only professional. You also have me translating a text from a diary written by a madman and a vampire about an unholy rite that will raise the dead from their restful sleep and create an army of minions. I thought you were out of this game, Janna.”
“I’m out of _the_ Game. I’m here on business, repaying a favor.”
He believed her, though only partly. “And when he dies?”
Janna paused at this and he knew he had her dead to rights. While she could be as big of a bitch as any other woman he’d ever met, including Cassandra, she would help anyone she claimed as a friend or as family. “If it comes to it, I will cross that bridge when we get there.”
He arched an eyebrow at her, not missing how she said ‘when’.
AN: A little fun I had from a challenge. I’m also fairly sure I will continue this one day but right now I’m just getting it down to appease my muse in hopes that she’ll let me get back to what I was really working on.