Summary: Xover BtVS/Highlander **SPOILERS ON BUFFY S7 FINALE!!**
In answer to challenge #46 on the Next Level
Somebody unwittingly sets up shop on the Hellmouth
Archive: TwistingTheHellmouth, TheNextLevel, wherever, just ask and thou shalt receive
Disclaimer: I do... no, seriously, I don't own any of these characters they belong as far as I know Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy and Panzer and Davis respectively
A/N: I must admit I was in a real quandary about the timeline of this story. I wanted it to play in Sunnydale but since Joss well und truly wrecked the place in the season finale that was out. Unless I’d make it AU at some point just before. But I don’t like AUs.
So I settled for sticking with canon but modifying it slightly.
So Sunnydale wasn‘t destroyed completely, just the parts around the old/new high school.
Everything happened as it happened: Willow went bad, the SITs all came to Sunnydale, Spike left/came back/got his bite back/died, every potential slayer became one, etc. You get the picture.
For Highlander: I didn't bother with the timeline. Richie's alive, that's all.
*Cogito ergo sum* means thoughts.
Here be Dragons
„I must tell you this before we go any further: the previous owner of the premises was murdered. Right out the back. I have had some folks in who minded, saying it would be unlucky or some such. I figured not wasting both our times if you mind as well.“ Mr Blackard ended his little statement like a question, fixing his potential client with a curious stare.
„I don’t mind.“
The dark haired man with the pony tail assured the real estate agent.
„Then by all means, step in.“
Mr Blackard turned the keys and threw open the double doors to a dimly lit anteroom.
After some fumbling to locate the light switch both men proceeded through a second set of doors into a large square room, the expanse only broken by a couple of bare concrete pillars. The windows were high up on the walls on two sides and had been painted over. Apart from some dusty chairs and some odd crates the room was empty.
There was a recess with a slightly lower ceiling in the back of the room.
The dark haired man cast a critical eye over everything and turning around gave the real estate agent a tight lipped smile:
„I’ll take it.“
It was six o’clock in the morning and Buffy was sitting tucked away in a corner of her mother’s room stifling her sobs so as not to disturb Dawn.
It was all proving too much for her. She didn’t know how she could possibly be able to handle everything that had been thrown at her.
They had defeated the First but at a terrible price: Anya, Amanda, not to mention Spike.
She felt her eyes tearing up again and bit down hard on her fist to prevent herself from making any noise.
She hadn’t known that his loss would hit her this badly.
They hadn’t been together for some time and when they had, it hadn’t been healthy for either of them.
But so much had changed, not least of all Buffy herself. She might have been ready to accept the gift Spike had been willing to offer but again the chance had been ripped from both of them.
And the slayer was alone again.
Quite apart from this personal loss which she couldn’t share with anyone since nobody would probably understand, she had to take care of a bunch of underage slayers in training and eventually go search for the rest of them, explain to them what responsibilities came with the powers they all shared now.
And she was barely a grown up herself. Although she had shouldered the burden of a grown up when most kids her age made decisions no graver than whether the pink lipstick they chose might put off that cutie they were angling for.
She had to be a mother to Dawn and a provider too.
And even at that simple task she had failed.
Buffy could take down demons and nasties twice her size and then some, but today she had received a letter from social services stating that they had replaced Doris Kroeger and would be revising Dawns case.
Buffy knew she had no chance in hell that they would leave Dawn with her once they found out she was on the dole again after Doublemeat had fired her because she had called in sick once too often to save the world.
A noise from the bathroom next door made her listen up. It was probably Xander leaving for work.
Sometime during the immediate aftermath of defeating the First it had become a routine for him to sleep over during the weekends. After having lived so closely with one another neither of the extended family of slayerettes wanted to let go of each other so easily.
Buffy hastily dried her eyes, stood up and after checking the corridor for any early morning lurkers, dashed into the now abandoned bathroom.
After restoring herself a bit she went down into the kitchen. Xander had left the paper on the kitchen island.
Richie Ryan swirled the mop over the now shiny hardwood floor in a final gesture. And mopped his brow with an already damp rag.
„Phew! If I never see another dust bunny again, it’ll be to soon.“
The strawberry blonde slumped down on one of the newly aquired benches lined up along the wall and flexed his aching hands.
Duncan MacLeod looked up from his task of putting up the last clothes pegs and answered goodnaturedly:
„At least now we are nearly done. You want to start on setting up the computer and getting the office ready?“
In truth Duncan never felt quite comfortable around computers. They usually contained way too much information about sensitive topics like freak lighting storms or the odd fact that one Duncan MacLeod always seemed to be suceeded by another in the ownership of certain properties.
So he felt quite relieved in having as little to do with the infernal devices as possible by delegating all officework to Richie.
“Yeah, man. That way you’ll get to clean up after the clean up.” Grinning the young man rose and tossed his rag in the general direction of his companion and vanished into the office off the anteroom.
Richie looked relieved to escape the gruntwork. Duncan couldn’t help but smile at Richie’s eagerness. And sure enough as soon as the door had closed behind the young man semi loud music could be heard.
Looking around Duncan could only be amazed at how they had transformed the slightly rundown premises they had rented only last week.
The windows had been cleaned, letting the sunlight flood the large room. In one sweaty and messy afternoon Duncan and Richie had torn out the rotten floorboards and a local company had replaced them with a new dark hardwood floor. The walls were now painted a nice warm yellowish colour and the recess had been partioned off to provide storage space.
The anteroom now sported a carpet and a potted plant and the office had been painted in red.
That had been Richie’s idea, he had read somewhere on the internet that red was supposed to get people into a spending mood.
*Whatever works, I guess. What time is it anyhow?*
The outer door rattled as someone tried to get in.
Duncan turned around and could see a rather small blonde girl of about 21 or so peering through the glass.
Upon seeing him she raised a hand in greeting and smiled sheepishly, indicating the closed door.
“Just a moment! I’ll fetch the keys.”
Shortly afterwards Duncan opened the doors, blinded for a moment by the dazzling sunlight outside.
“Hi! My name is Elisabeth Summers. We talked on the phone this morning about your ad.” She held out her hand in greeting.
Buffy, after some talks with Giles, had figured that it would make a better impression to use her given name, at least at first. Elisabeth Summers sounded more like a serious job applicant than Buffy.
Duncan shook her hand and noticed she had a firm grip.
“Hello Miss Summers. My name is Duncan MacLeod. Yes, we talked. Please come in.” Duncan held the door for her. As the young woman passed he noticed that she barely reached his shoulders. He frowned not believing for a moment that this might actually pan out.
They proceeded to the dojo itself. Buffy looked around and finally settled on the handsome Mr MacLeod.
*Handsome doesn’t begin to cover it. The man is the hottest. And the name! Duncan MacLeod. It doesn’t get anymore droolworthy than that.And of course Duncan rhymes perfectly with Hunkan... woof.*
She managed to stifle an escaping laugh and smiled instead.
Duncan smiled back: “So, you are here for the job. Can you give me any references? Any previous experience?”
Buffy’s heart sank and she panicked slightly. The experience wasn’t a problem, she had that in spades but the only people who would have been able to give any references for her inconveniently burst into dust after the assessment.
“Well, you see Mr MacLeod, you probably noticed that big hole in sorta the middle of town? It is hard to miss with all the traffic being diverted and boy, can I tell you, is it now a mess to just get to the supermarket. Usually it only took 10 minutes but now, phew, now I have to go all the way ‘round...” she noticed Mr MacLeod’s slightly raised eye brow.
*Great! Now he thinks I’m demented.*
“But never mind that now. Anyway, I used to work at Sunnydale High School but when it got blown up all my papers were lost. And I haven’t had time to get replacements...”
“Blown up?” Duncan was puzzled.
“I meant caved in. Of course, caved in. I mean, who would blow up a high school? Unless you wanted to avoid a chem test.” Buffy giggled nervously and faltered as she noticed Mr MacLeod’s stony expression.
*Not only demented but dangerous as well. You might as well just leave now and find a nice deep hole to hibernate in.*
Duncan had to fight hard to keep from smiling at the stammering blonde.
*This has to be the most stupid story I ever heard except from the dog ate my homework.*
“So, you have no references you could show me?” Duncan couldn’t resist from poking, what he didn’t expect was the reaction he got. Miss Summers shoulders slumped and all the light seemed to just drain from her eyes and she turned away from him as if to leave.
*What did I do?*
He hastily called out before she reached the exit: “Miss Summers, if you can’t provide written references maybe a demonstration is in order?”
*I am such a sucker! Methos would have field day! Why do I bother at all? Look at her! She’ll probably break a nail and sue me.*
Buffy turned around at that. Mr MacLeod seemed serious. She allowed herself a tiny piece of hope.
*Maybe all isn’t lost. Well Hunkan, be prepared to be surprised.*
When Mr MacLeod indicated the mats, she happily dropped her bag on one of the benches along the wall and slipped out of her coat and shoes, leaving them with the bag.
As she stepped onto the mats, she felt much calmer. This was something she knew about since she was 15.
“How about you just show me some katas?”
Ok, maybe not.
“Some exercises, some of your moves.”
Buffy felt slightly stupid at first to be fighting herself so to speak but after a short while she got into the mood. This was just like training with Giles back then, just without various cutlery being hurled at her. She unconsciously synchronized her moves with the music that could still be heard in the background.
Duncan was amazed. This young woman had a grace and poise when fighting that many much older immortals could only envy. She had closed her eyes and was still moving with unerring surety and purpose. She definitely knew what she was doing.
She followed no discernable school but rather used moves from different martial arts. Duncan could identify Karate, Judo, Jui-Jitsu and Aikido easily enough. She even used Capoeira, the flamboyant Brazilian fighting dance from the favelas. Combined it made for one hell of an effective fighting style.
Duncan kicked off his shoes, being dressed in slacks and an old t-shirt from the clean up anyhow. He stepped onto the mats.
Buffy sensed someone step nearer, she halted and opened her eyes, surprised that she had them closed.
Mr MacLeod stood on the edge of the mats and just now bowed to her.
For a hilarious instant she thought whether she had to curtsy. Then she remembered one infamous scooby evening in Xander’s basement when Willow and she had made the mistake of letting Xander chose all the videos. This was just like in one of those easterns.
So she bowed back awkwardly.
Duncan was again amazed. Even though she had had her eyes closed and seemed completely immersed in her moves, she had sensed at once when he set foot on the mats.
He bowed to her and fell into a fighting stance.
Buffy was reluctant to just hit her hopefully soon-to-be employer so she waited for him to make the first move.
And sure enough Mr MacLeod gave her quite a run for her money and after an exchange of blows and kicks, she settled into the joy of fighting when you are not in mortal peril. It had been a long time since she had sparred with anyone this good.
*Not since Spike.*
Duncan noticed her faltering, took advantage of the opening and moved in, sweeping her legs from under her.
She landed on the mats with a hearty oomph.
*Giles would chew me out for loosing concentration so badly, not to mention the chewing that would happen if this had been a vampire.*
He offered a hand to her and she took it gratefully.
“Can’t have the employee beating the employer now, can we?” he offered goodnaturedly still gripping her hand.
“So you are going to hire me?” Buffy could scarcely believe her luck and forgetting her slayer strength shook Mr MacLeod’s hand enthusiastically. “Thank you! Thank you so much! You won’t be disappointed, Mr MacLeod, I promise.”
Mac winced when he felt bones grind together.
“If I let you call me Duncan, will I get my hand back in one piece?” he managed to say.
“Oh, I am so sorry. Sometimes I just forget my... Sometimes I am just so clumsy.” Buffy dropped Duncan’s hand hurriedly and wanted to kick herself.
“So, may I call you Elisabeth?”
Duncan wasn’t sure but he thought he distinctly heard her say ‘no’ over the increasingly loud music from the office. He felt surprised and a little affronted.
“But you can call me Buffy.” The newest employee of DeSalvo's Dojo, Sunnydale branch gave him a sheepish smile and Duncan managed to suppress most of his hilarity about the incongrous name.
“Buffy it is then.”
They shook hands again, Duncan gingerly and Buffy carefully.
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