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A Puzzle in the Pacific Northwest

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This story is No. 4 in the series "Geography Lessons". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Faith & Racquel are on the Job Again

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Television > West Wing
Highlander > General
Multiple Crossings > Faith-Centered
RichFR181943,86133714,04513 May 1423 Aug 14No

Chapter Eighteen

Joe Dawson's POV

Look, the Watchers really dropped the ball on Amanda.

There are some major gaps in the record, whole centuries during which she had no Watcher, or at least no records of a Watcher*. I wouldn't be surprised if she'd arranged some of that herself. MacLeod found me, and Methos learned about the Watchers God only knows how long ago, and I'd be stupid if I thought that they were the only Immortals to figure it out.

And let's face it, if anybody would catch on, it'd be her. She's paranoid for good reason; people really are out to get her. Immortals because they want her quickening, and everybody else because she'll steal anything that isn't nailed down; she's stolen a lot of things that were nailed down, for that matter.

So she has a habit of looking over her shoulder, and she notices things. Like if there's a beggar or traveler hanging around in Paris, and then the same beggar or traveler shows up in Calcutta ? She's going to spot it. Throw in the fact that she changes her name, hair, and location as often as some women change their shoes, and ditching a tail is no big deal. She can escape from a situation before most people even know that there's a situation to escape from.

Conventional wisdom says she's not much of a fighter. That same conventional wisdom says that she defeated Hengist the Saxon in 853, about three years after her own first death, and then avoided fights for over a thousand years; and then, starting in 1998, she and her student Nick Wolfe took eleven heads in just a few months ? Yeah, right... that makes sense.

Sure, if she can get somebody like MacLeod to fight for her she will. If she can escape a fight by running away, she'll do that too. She'll lie and she'll cheat and she'll steal; she's almost as good a survivor as Methos. But for almost twelve centuries, anybody who managed to back her into a corner - and there had to be at least a few of those - didn't walk away from it. She did.

We probably should have paid a little more attention to that.

Amanda's POV

"Well the Lord made the world and it seems kind of funny that the Lord made the Bee and the Bee made the Honey"**. Hold that thought, I'll get back to it.

There are some Immortals, Methos among them, who claim not to remember their lives before their first death. I don't especially want to remember mine.

The Industrial Revolution began in the late 18th century. I was there.

Some historians date the age of Enlightenment to Francis Bacon, who died in 1626. I actually met him once (well, technically I stole his purse, but I think that's beside the point).

There's a consensus that the Renaissance started in Florence, in the 14th century. I was already about 500 years old at the time.

For most of my life, I knew what everyone knew, which was what I'd been taught at the monastery where I was found as a baby. Yes, found; nobody knows where or how Immortals are born. We're all foundlings. You'd think that after a few thousand years somebody would have solved that mystery, but unless Methos knows more than he's saying no one has.

On the other hand, Methos always knows more than he's saying.

That was in Normandy, which wasn't called that then because the Norse hadn't conquered it yet. I was born a few years after the death of Charlemagne. Considering the alternatives, I can't complain too much about my childhood. I had a decent diet, which a lot of people didn't. I didn't have many material goods (or any, really), because the monks didn't either, having taken a vow of poverty. But then, a lot of people didn't have much more; everything had to be made by hand and purchased with hard currency, and there wasn't a lot of that in circulation. Most of Europe lived on the barter system, or occasionally the extortion-at-swordpoint system. Even the kings lived in conditions that would be considered abject poverty today.

As for education, Europe was in the midst of what would later be called the "Carolingian Renaissance", when there was an increase in "literature, writing, the arts, architecture, jurisprudence, liturgical reforms, and scriptural studies", according to Wikipedia. A few of the monks may have been involved in that, but if so they saw no point in passing their knowledge along to a freakishly tall orphan girl who was probably destined to spend her probably short life as a servant or worse. Besides, all the books, and there weren't many, were written in Latin; I wouldn't have understood them even if I had been able to read.

(About the 'freakish' part - I'm a little over five foot eight, and that's without heels. In the twentieth century, I'm taller than most women. In the ninth, I was taller than almost all of the men).

So, what did I learn from the monks ?

"Well the Lord made the world and it seems kind of funny that the Lord made the Bee and the Bee made the Honey". I told you I'd get back to that. There were details, of course; the Lord made a lot of other things as well, in fact He made everything, and it all worked the way it did because that was the way He made it to work. The difference between how things worked and why things worked wasn't noticed, let alone mentioned.

The theological view of the world was the only view there was. The whole universe was a battlefield between God and the Devil, and why God permitted the Devil to exist in the first place was a mystery known only to Him. They fought for human souls (and again, the reason why was a mystery), and they both had minions everywhere; Angels for the forces of Good, and Demons for the forces of evil.

Everyone believed in demons then, and not in the sense of "I believe there's life on other planets". It was more like "I believe that the sun came up this morning". Of course there was magic; everything was magic. The seasons, the weather, the stars, the cycle of life; it was all magic. Science didn't exist yet as such; to most people, even the word "science" would have been a meaningless noise.

And I believed too, even more after I was turned out to the streets, in an age when the streets were paved with mud. I was about thirty when I died, caught stealing food from a house where everyone had died of plague. As for the things I did to survive to that point, with no family and no future ? Let's just say that stealing from the dead was one of my lesser sins and leave it at that.

I knew about evil and I knew about monsters, and I was as superstitious as everyone else at the time. But I met Rebecca, and I learned, and I thought that I'd left such stories behind me centuries ago.

Now I've somehow stumbled into the middle of one of them. So bear with me if I'm finding it a little hard to breathe at the moment.

As they entered the dimly lit bar, a towering creature with the build of a bodybuilder and the head of a Bassett Hound moved to intercept them. Faith tapped her axe and gave him a smile of anticipation, and he stepped aside and sat down.

The person behind the bar was short and thin, and apparently human, but Amanda had the impression that he left a trail of slime behind him. He started talking before Faith even opened her mouth.

"Look, we can talk about this. This place is neutral ground, the rules says so...". he said.

"RULES ??", Faith yelled. "Do I LOOK like the Sunnydale Slayer ? Am I blond ? Do I wear stylish yet affordable outfits ? I'm the Banshee Bitch from Boston, and I'll tell YOU what the rules are, whenever I fuckin' think of them !!". She slammed her axe on the bar for emphasis, and the wood cracked.

Amanda thought that was nice alliteration.

In some respects the bar resembled an old time waterfront saloon. There were stained posters on the walls spanning at least four decades (none of them recent), and a mix of several different styles of furniture (none of them current). On the back wall was a pay phone with a rotary dial and a broken cord, and above the bar was an old tube tv with at least quarter inch of dust on the screen.

The clientele was another thing entirely...actually, several other things entirely. Besides the canine bouncer, there were a trio of females in short skirts, whose bulging eyes moved independently and whose heads were covered in vibrantly colored feathers. There was a too pale, too thin, and entirely too tall individual with eyes that glowed like green coals, seated across from a squat grey skinned woman with four unjointed arms and no eyes at all. At the next table sat a man in a three piece orange suit and a bowler hat, lapping at a bowl of what looked like gravy, with a two foot long tongue. In the back, a couple of people in out-of-date clothing slid towards a side door, pulling blankets over their heads as they went.

She saw a creature that looked something like a two legged warthog duck down and try to squeeze itself under a table. Since the creature weighed close to 500 pounds, the effort was only partly successful.

Without turning around, Faith made a noise that sounded like gargling. The warthog yodeled back, Faith gargled some more, and the creature sat back in its chair, which looked like a coffee table with a back on it. the creature looked relieved, although Amanda wasn't sure how she knew that.

"Excuse me", said Methos, "but what was that ?"

"Some demons have their own languages", said Sanchez. "Faith speaks a couple of them, although she doesn't usually advertise it".

"But those sounded completely different", said Methos.

"Of course", said Sanchez. "The demon was using the pitiful supplicant tense, and Faith was using the irate dominant tense".

"You're joking", said MacLeod. "Irate dominant ?"

"It's the default tense for Slayers", replied Sanchez with a shrug. "It's demon grammar, what do you expect ?"

Amanda needed to sit down. Demons had grammar ? Demons had languages ? There were people who could speak demon languages ?

As they left the bar, Methos said "Well, that seemed to be a waste of time".

"I wouldn't count on that", replied Racquel. "It's traditional to threaten the bartender, and it's traditional for the bartender to complain, but that isn't always the objective". She pointed to Doreen, who was standing at the corner of the building and waving them over.

When they got there, she nodded in the direction of the used car lot, where Jennie crouched behind the skeletal remains of a '76 Duster. Beyond her, they could make out two blanket draped figures clambering over the chain-link fence at the back of the lot.

"Those two are vamps", said Faith, "and they know what I am, and right know they're running to tell their boss that I'm in town. So all we gotta do is stick with them, and they'll lead us right where we want to go".

"Which might be where they want you to go", pointed out Methos.

"Well, yeah", said Faith. "That's what makes this fun".

* Highlander Wiki has a list of Amanda's recorded Watchers, and known quickenings; and there are huge gaps in both lists.

** The line is from "Honeycomb", by Jimmy Rogers, released in 1957. Yes I am that old.

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