This story is going to have to be non-canonical, as the timing of what I want in no way works with the timing of the Buffy Universe as described by the show.
This story takes place in September of 2003, at a time when Sunnydale I believe has long since been reduced to a smoking hole in the ground. Well, too bad. I am instead twisting the threads of reality and weaving my own pattern. The specific change I am making is taking the universe as it sat at the end of "Gone", from Season 6, and translocating it in time to late 2003. I suspect this change, and the ripple effect of the events in this story will have effects on the future from here on out as well. But I don't really know.
For those unfamiliar with where "Gone" lay in the timeline, Anya and Xander are engaged, Tara lives still, and she and Willow are in love, but having serious problems over Willow's "Magic Addiction", and there is no Great Evil of the moment (Ok, there is the Geek Gang, who wants to be the Big-Bad, but come on, look at ‘em.) Buffy has a sort of relationship with Spike, who has a chip in his head, but no soul in his heart.
This is an updated version, with minor changes made to address some issues raised by reviewers and my Beta Readers, who hadn't had a chance to look at the first draft I had posted. I am toying with continuing this story later with a sequil, following Buffy's actions but I not sure where it would go at this point.
This story is a crossover with my other story which I will be posting here, titled Meeting of Minds. The crossover takes place in Chapter 25, subtitled "Party in the Parking lot", should you read either one, you'll know why. I do plan on following this thread up later, but not until after MoM is completed. (I am currently working on Act 3 of that story, and expect to have it finished around September 2004, one year after beginning it.) If you haven't read it, then you should know that Meeting of Minds is a fan fiction based generally on the Highlander universe. Since they reveal the same events, only from different points of view, both this story and Meeting of Mind's chapter 25 are spoilers for one another. I would strongly recommend reading that story first, rather than this one, as the very characters mentioned here are also spoilers for MoM.
Any comments should be directed to DanaShort@aol.com. Please be sure to reference the story title in your email, other wise it will likely be eaten by my SPAM filter. I do answer all email I see, so if I never respond to you, please change the subject, and try again.
Legal Disclaimer: I own nothing. Well, Ok, I have a car that only has about fifteen more payments left on it, and I have a bunch of clothes and some cool electronic equipment like this computer I am using at the moment, and a minority interest in the house I live in which is mostly owned by the bank, but otherwise, I own nothing. I most specifically DO NOT own the concept behind Immortals, nor any of the pre-existing Immortal characters which have appeared in this story. These are all owned by Panzer/Davis, or whoever may of purchased or licensed them from their creators. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, her friends, and the universe in which they reside is owned by Twentieth Century Fox, Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and/or the WB Television Network, or whoever may of purchased or licensed them from their creators. Characters or concepts from other universes owned by other individuals and companies may of wandered through this story as well, and again their appearance does not in any way imply ownership of them on my part. No copyright infringement is intended nor implied. As far as the characters I created, others are free to use them, I lay no claim of ownership to them either, I do however ask that you return them in the condition they were found, no added romantic/emotional entanglements or missing body parts (especially heads), please. I hope you enjoy the story.
------------------------------------------<Cut Here>------------------------------------------The Four Coachmen of the Apocalypse, Now.
By Dana Short
Hell. This was Hell. Buffy was sure of it, since she had spent some time in Heaven, she certainly had basis for comparison.
Hell was a place, called "The Doublemeat Palace," and if it wasn't evil, she wasn't sure what evil was. But it was also a paycheck, and if she had any hope of keeping Dawn out of the clutches of Social Services, then she needed that paycheck, and was willing to do time in Hell to get it.
Buffy sighed, as she looked out the drive through window, waiting for the next unfortunate soul with more hunger than sense to fall prey to the building's drive up queue.
A large RV towing a tiny car had pulled off the highway, and heading for the driveway. Poor suckers.
Buffy watched as the RV swung into the parking lot, staking out a whole row of empty slots as it blatantly ignored the fading lines drawn on the cracked and dirty asphalt.
The engine shut off, even as the side door banged open.
First out was a mangy looking dog; it's bedraggled appearance at distinct odds with the new-looking RV's exterior.
The dog was followed by a youngish man, kind of cute, and a red headed young woman.
"Are ye sure it is here ye wan ta be eatin, Patrick? I think the Pop-Tarts would be a safer meal." The woman asked with a thick Scottish accent.
"Yes, Sally. I'm sure; I used to eat at a Doubblemeat Palace when I was in college. I didn't know any of them still existed. I thought someone had shut the entire chain down or something. I was never sure, but the Doubblemeat Deluxe was one of my staples when I was in school. I can't wait to get a couple. You know how getting killed makes me hungry," The man, Patrick, replied.
Buffy wasn't sure she had heard what the guy had said, due to the distance, and the fact that she was only listening through a half-closed drive up window from inside a building, with the sounds of the kitchen and the dining area providing a distracting environment around her. But it sure sounded like the cute guy had said he had been killed, and it made him hungry. She must have got something wrong. Must have.
Another young woman, this one with long, dark hair was coming out now, and she was being followed by a second couple, another older woman with shoulder length black hair, and a twenty-something guy, one odd thing was that despite the unseasonably warm evening, they were all three wearing coats. Again, by it's self, that was nothing too unusual, but something about them set her Slayer Sense to softly tingling.
Buffy watched, as the party turned and headed towards the entrance to the restaurant, completely ignoring their dog, which ran off the opposite way, towards the vacant lot on the other side of the parking lot, as though he had an urgent appointment of his own to take care of.
Buffy wasn't sure what about them was making her all itchy, but as they approached the front of the building, she felt two distinct waves of, something, wash over her, one right after another. Then, just as they were coming in the door, she felt it again, two more times, and the entire party came to a sudden halt, looking around like they were seeking a familiar face. "Uh, Cassandra, did you feel that?" the Patrick guy asked the woman with the shorter dark hair.
Cassandra nodded, and continued her scan of the patrons, then the employees, until her gaze met Buffy's. At that point, she seemed to relax slightly. She pointed at Buffy, and said so softly that anyone else would not have heard it, and even Buffy would of missed it had she not been specifically paying attention, "Over there, the girl at the window. She's the one, I think."
Buffy's guard was now certainly up. They had specifically pointed her out to one another, and all three of the coat wearing whatevers had looked her in the face, before nodding to themselves. Only the redheaded woman seemed to miss what was going on.
"Wha is it, Cassandra?" she asked, looking back over her shoulder at the taller woman behind her.
"The girl at the drive through. Not old, hardly stronger than Patrick here, based on where we felt her for the first time." The woman answered.
"I wonder where her Watcher is." Sally asked, looking around the place with renewed interest, then reaching up to brush her hair back, exposing a faint blue tattoo on the inside of her left wrist.
"She may not have one yet. As I said, she's new. You might want to make a report or whatever it is you do." Cassandra answered, starting forward towards the counter, and resuming the motion of the entire group after her first confident stride.
Buffy was defiantly wigging now. Whoever they were, they were looking for Giles as well. She didn't like the feeling of being in the dark like this. And what did they mean she was new, and hardly stronger than the Patrick guy? He looked like some sort of nerdy wimp, almost. Ok, not a total wimp, but seriously, him verses a Slayer? Get real!
They finally made it to the front of the counter, and each of them put in an order. The Patrick guy ordered two Doubblemeat Deluxes, with everything on them. Sally, the lady with the accent, ordered a soda, then asked about the salads, but declined to order one. The long haired girl ordered a double-cheese burger, catsup only, and a water. The older looking guy ordered a large soda, two chili dogs, and an order of fries. Finally, Cassandra, the older lady with the shorter dark hair, ordered a single bacon cheeseburger, and fries, with a sprite.
Buffy watched with suspicion, as they collected their orders and retreated to a side table, where they proceeded to eat. 'Well, at least they're not Vampires,' she thought to herself, as she watched the party eating. Sally, the redhead, got up, and returned to the counter, where she ordered a crispy apple-fry.
Buffy watched as the strange group chowed down on their food, which pretty much nixed any thoughts she had about them being Vamps, but she still was defiantly getting a wiggy feeling off of four of the five.
Buffy tried to pay as much attention to their conversation as she could from her station by the drive through window. However with the coming of several vehicles full of unlucky or foolish patrons, it was torturously hard for her to do, limiting her to brief flashes of conversation.
"...Sue?" the cute older guy asked at one point.
"I don't see any Watchers I recognize, no, but it's been a long time since..." the younger woman with the long dark hair responded, before the drive through speaker crackled with the words, "Hello?" Blared the drive through speaker. "...okal Watchers," the girl named Sue finished.
"Hello?" again came from the speaker, "Any one there?"
Buffy sighed, then pushed the greasy button, and said, "Welcome to Doubblemeat Palace, home of the Doubblemeat Deluxe, the best Beef and Chicken burger in the world. May I take your order?"
Buffy looked out the window, seeing the group's dog drag a broken branch from the lot next door over by the RV, and leave it in the parking lot, with a short stubby end poking up in the air, before heading over to one of the numerous potholes in the parking lot, and starting to dig furiously.
As Buffy punched in the man's order, she tried in vain to follow the conversation from the table in the front, but it was truly a hopeless effort.
As soon as they had finished eating, they gathered their trays, and dumped them as they headed for the door.
Buffy was so relieved to see them leave; she almost missed the next part. That would have been a true shame, had she not seen it.
As the Patrick guy and the Sally woman led the way back across the dimly light parking lot towards their RV, a group of about a dozen Vamps wandered up from the other direction. Unlike the indefinable wiggyness she had gotten from four of the five she had been watching, these she ID's immediately as Vamps, her slayer sense going into major overload.
Buffy immeadiatly started to look for a way to get outside, as a perfect opportunity for Slayage presented it's self. As she started away from her post, she bumped into the Manager, who simply looked at her with a single eyebrow raised, and said "Is it your break time yet, Ms. Summers?"
Uttering a soft, "No Sir", Buffy turned back towards the window. Truly this was Hell, she knew it in her soul.
Looking out helplessly, she watches as the first of the Vamps, apparently their leader reached the Sally lady just as she was following the Patrick guy into the RV. He grabbed her arm, and swung her away from the vehicle, into the clutches of his associates behind himself, before launching himself up the stairs and inside.
He was only inside a few moments, however, before falling backwards out the door, to land on his back on the cracked asphalt of the parking lot, banging his head with a loud gong-like clang on a hubcap Buffy had not noticed before.
The skinny dog, who Buffy had last seen heading away from the RV came hurtling out the door, to land with a snarl before the still body of the Vamp leader, as the head of the Patrick guy poked out and called, "What the..."
Meanwhile, the Vamp who had grabbed the Sally chick had hit her over the head, her body slumping unconscious in his arms as he bent her neck to take a first bite of his meal.
The feeling of helplesness was almost making Buffy explode, when the real weirdness began.
The woman, Cassandra, yelled "Vampyres!" before pulling an honest to goodness sword out of somewhere, which she used to neatly slice the head off of the nearest Vamp, dusting him instantly.
The Sue chick, noticing that Sally was apparently out of commission, yelled, "Methos, I really don't think we should worry about Watchers just now, it's ten to three!" With that, she also produced a blade, in her case, a Katana, apparently once more from thin air.
As Buffy looked towards the remaining man, apparently with the odd name of "Methos", he also seemed to draw a sword from some hidden location, and together, the three sword wielding maniacs waded into the group of Vamps.
Make that four maniacs, as the Patrick guy had re-appeared at the door of the RV, and he also now carried a sword.
Leaping from the doorway, he launched himself into the melee, whereupon he promptly lost his balance, and his inertia carried him, and his sword forward, whereupon he promptly skewered the Methos guy, like a shrimp on a shiskabob.
Methos looked down at the blade sticking out of his chest, and promptly died.
Patrick looked at the body as it slid off his blade, and murmured, "Sorry," before turning around with his blade again extended to swing a wobbly swipe at the nearest Vamp.
Once again, he seemed doomed to do more harm than good with his actions, for his swing managed to miss the Vamp entirely, but brought him around, whereupon his descending blade sliced neatly through the blouse and stomach of the Cassandra woman who had just finished decapitating her third of the six remaining Vamps, allowing a torrent of blood to start pouring out of her torso.
The blood had a transfixtive effect on the remaining Vamps, allowing the Sue girl to dust her second kill a moment later, after which she took in the carnage wrecked by Patrick in the few moments since his emergence from the RV.
"Uh, Patrick, you do know you are supposed to kill them, not us, right?" she asked, in a voice all too calm in Buffy's estimation for the situation at hand.
"Sorry Sue. This is the first time I've tried to do anything other than practice swings, remember?" he whined, looking mournfully at the dead bodies of his two friends laying on the ground in separate pools of blood.
The first Vamp, the leader, had finally climbed back to his feet, and was approaching from behind the two conversationalists, who were ignoring the static Vamps for the moment.
"I know, not much of a Teacher, am I? You really should let the Witch take you on, you know. She has been doing this for thousands of years." The Sue woman said.
Buffy couldn't figure that comment out. Witches didn't live for thousands of years, and other than Willow, she didn't know of many witches who fought Vamps either, unless they were first attacked.
"No. YOU are my teacher. If you don't want me, then fine. But I want to stay with you. You are the only thing that I have to steady me, anymore." Patrick replied, swinging his sword wildly for emphasis as he spoke, and for once, his inadvertent action connected briefly with one of the five surrounding Vamps, leaving only four stationary Vamps, and their stealthily approaching leader, along with a dissipating cloud of dust on the wind.
Sue apparently noticed the movement over Patrick's shoulder as the lead Vamp closed on them, and called out, "Pat, behind you!" but it was too late. The Vamp reached out, and calmly grabbed Patrick by his neck, jerking him off his feet, and snapping the neck in the same movement.
Buffy knew that that was it for the Sue chick as well, left alone with five Vamps, sword or not.
Even as Buffy decided that she could always try and find another job to support herself and Dawn, and was about to bolt for the door to try and save the Sue woman, the wierdness outside just got wierder.
As the leader of the Vamps marshaled his four remaining minions to surround Sue, the dead body of Methos, the older guy Patrick had skewered with his sword, suddenly gave a gasp and sat up.
It looked down at it's chest and straightened it's shirt before reaching over and retrieving the fallen sword from the ground then climbing silently to it's feet.
Buffy was definitely getting the wiggins now, as she watched the living dead, or whatever it was, look at the still dead body of the Cassandra chick, then take in the location of the still unconscious Sally gal, and the body of Patrick, laying just behind the circle of silent Vamps closing slowly around Sue, who stood, her Katana raised, turning slowly so as to keep track of all five of her opponents at once.
The dog's head poked suddenly from beneath a parked car, it's jaws fixing on the ankle of one of the Vamps, and Sue's blade flashed in the streetlights, leaving her with only four opponents to track, as she steped into the sudden hole in their circle and put the empty car with the dog coughing up Vamp dust beneath it to her back.
The Methos guy walked up behind the Vampire leader, even as Buffy saw the Cassandra woman's body twitch, then roll over on it's back.
"Whatever they are, they certainly aren't human." Buffy thought to herself, as she watched the Cassandra woman's hands clench and unclench while her back arched up away from the ground.
Her attention was suddenly drawn back to the four remaining Vamps, as the Methos dude reached out, and tapped the Vampire Leader on his shoulder.
Game face on, the Vamp spun around, and froze at the sight of the no longer dead guy. "Wha, who are you?"
Methos spoke softly, so softly that Buffy could barely hear above the bustle of the kitchen behind herself, and the traffic on the highway outside.
"I am Death, once known as the Pale Rider on a Pale Horse, one of the Four. I am your Doom."
The Vamp's eyes widened in panic, and his game face fell away as he stumbled a few steps backwards, loosing his step as he tripped in the pothole the dog had been digging in earlier. Sue's katana flashed again, and the remaining three Vampires found themselves leaderless.
Buffy noticed that the Cassandra woman had risen to a sitting position herself, and was reaching for her own fallen sword even as the Patrick guy gave out a yell, and sat up as well.
As the three remaining Vampires realized that they were suddenly outnumbered, and by opponents which didn't seem to stay dead, they turned to flee only to find the way blocked by the snarling visage of the dog.
Turning back towards their four sword carrying opponents, now moving to encircle them, they apparently decided to split up.
One ran towards the Sue chick, which was not the brightest move, as a final flash of her katana signaled it's fourth kill of the evening.
The one which charged towards the Cassandra woman faired little better, as her slender rapier shot around and decapitated him so fast the blade was invisible.
Probably the luckiest one, if one could call its fate lucky, was the one which charged at the still staggering Patrick guy, who had risen to his feet again, but without his sword.
That Vamp slipped and stumbled as he ran through the pool of blood on the ground, then, tripping over the abandoned sword, he fell forward to impale himself on the branch she had seen the dog dragging earlier.
As the last Vampire turned to dust and drifted away on the wind, Buffy could only stare.
Twelve Vamps, and no one killed, at least not permanently. Whatever these people were, she had to find out, and fast. She made a note to go straight to Giles after work and have him do some research on someone named Methos, the pale rider on a pale horse, and also, who the Four were. Buffy realised that if she counted the maniacs with the swords, the two women, and the other guy who accompanied this Methos, that there were four of them. She assumed that they were The Four. He should be able to find something. He needed to know they were looking for him anyway, and possibly hiding from him based on what that Sue chick said to the Methos guy.
Buffy watched as they gathered the still unconscious Sally woman, and carried her inside the RV. Patrick bent over and picked up his sword, even as the dog grabbed the branch, and started dragging it back towards the empty lot.
As the engine started up in the RV, the dog came shooting back, and launched himself through the closing door, his tail looking like it should of gotten caught in the door it's self it closed so fast.
The RV backed up, with the Methos guy, who was kinda pale looking at the wheel of the RV, which was a cream color, now that she thought about it. She watched as it turned back towards the highway and rolled out of sight.
Buffy would definitely have to look into this. While whatever they were didn't seem to like Vampires too much, there was still something about the whole group, especially those four. They had a certain odor about them. One she had smelled many times before, first from The Master, then later from Angelus, and most recently from Glory. She thought she smelled Apocalypse, now.