Title: Another Life Begins
Author: DanKnight (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rating: PG-13 at the absolute worst.
Spoilers: Spoilers for the Buffy episode “Help” (7.04).
Archive: Ask first, but I am sure I will say yes
Feedback: Are you kidding? Of course I want feedback. Good, bad, indifferent, bring it on!
Synopsis: Cassie found a second chance at life, and she took it. Sequel to “When One Life Ends…”
Distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth and Any of the list I post this story on obviously can post it on their archives if they want. Other then that I would appreciate if anyone asked first. Not because I am picky about who shows it, but I would like to actually see where it is going.
Disclaimer: Buffy and Cassie do not belong to me. They are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, and some other people and companies that aren’t me. Highlander is the property of. Highlander is the property of Davis-Panzer, Anchor Bay, Spike TV, Gaumont Television and others who are also not me. This story is for fun and I am making no profit off any of it.
AUTHORS NOTE: This story is a sequel to my previous story “When One Life Ends...” which can be found at the url http://www.tthfanfic.org/story.php?no=3445
Cassie knew this day would come soon, the day when her training as an immortal would end and she would venture out on her own. In the ten years since she had been “reborn” Cassie had taken the opportunity to learn all she could about immortality, about using a sword, and about the world.
Duncan had taken her on as his pupil after he found her in Sunnydale High shortly after her first death. With a trip to Seacouver and a new last name of Cooper, Cassie began her training. It wasn’t easy, her small size made it difficult to defend herself with a sword. But Duncan taught her how to use her size to her advantage, how to maneuver and use her opponents strength against themselves.
Most people would grow frustrated when trying to learn such a complex fighting style. But Cassie never did, and made sure to absorb everything Duncan taught her. She and Duncan once talked about that very thing.
“Have to say I am impressed with your attitude. Most of the people I train have a hard time adjusting to the fact they will have to fight for their lives.” He told her as they took a break.
“I spent all my childhood thinking I knew exactly when I was going to die. I had no hope, no defense. I have a chance now, a chance to live, a fate I am not sure of. I never had that, ever!” She told him emphasizing the last word.
“So, no more visions then?” Duncan asked. Cassie had told him shortly after her first death about her visions, and about how she hadn’t had one after her death.
“None.” She told him with a smile, “Good riddance too. Living forever I can deal with, living with the knowledge of your death. That is a curse.”
“You do know it won’t be easy for you now don’t you. You’re small, and young, and a female. A lot of us will see that as an opportunity for an easy quickening.” Duncan told her seriously.
“Let them come. At least I won’t know when, or how. I have dealt with death already. I just want to live life with hope.” She finished explaining to her mentor.
“Well then…” Duncan said getting up and grabbing his sword, “I hope that you learned what I taught you, because I won’t be taking it easy on you this time.” The Highlander said with a wink.
Cassie meant what she told him though. She studied and trained with Duncan everyday until he had nothing else to teach her.
Cassie left after that. She knew Duncan was right, that immortals would see her as an easy mark and living in the game would not be easy for her.
In her short time as an immortal the others of her kind she had met talked about the possibilities of the future. They talked about men one day living in space, curing diseases, and the excitement that just maybe they would live to see it happen.
Cassie knew she probably didn’t have that long, that her size and strength would catch up with her before that. So she made sure to live every day of her life to it’s fullest. She woke up at the crack of dawn every day. She stayed out until the wee hours of the night. She didn’t know if she had one more day or one hundred more years, so she made every one of them count. And she relished the unknown. The fact that she didn’t know when that last day would come. That she could guess, and that she could plan for the future. It didn’t matter if she would possibly never see her plans come true she still had the hope.
A year passed and immortals did come for her head thinking she would be a helpless little girl. But Duncan taught her well and she in fact was able to defend herself. She was able to take heads, which she did several times. But she never went searching for one. She didn’t care about the game, about there being only one. She cared about living.
After two years of immortality Cassie set out to see the world. She packed a backpack and saw everything she could. She didn’t want to miss out on anything. She saw the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Then she got on a plane and saw England, Ireland, Egypt, India, Russia, she even went to Scotland and saw the beautiful lands Duncan came from.
During her travels she made lovers, friends, both immortal and mortal, and even enemies. But Cassie lived on. Determined to make her new life matter the young immortal took heads when she had to and she survived. And she relished all of it, every last bit.
Before she knew it twenty-five years had passed. Cassie had since returned to America. Living in Hershey, Pennsylvania she went to nursing school, got her degree, and got a job at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
She took a job in intensive care. It was hard sometimes, seeing people so near death and knowing that while she would never get sick or hurt they were fighting for their life. But she also helped people recover, helped save their life and give them the second chance she had found so long ago.
It was living there that she got the phone call from Duncan. Joe Dawson, a member of the secret organization that watched immortals, but more importantly her friend, had died.
Cassie stood by Joe’s grave the following day. It was after the services and no one but her and Duncan remained.
“I still can’t believe he’s gone. In my mind I still always saw him like when I met him. He wasn’t young but he was always so alive.” Cassie told her friend.
“I know.” Duncan said. He was taking it hard, Joe may have been her friend but to Duncan he was like a brother.
“How many funerals have you been to?” Cassie asked, before realizing the bluntness of her question, “I mean… if I can ask.”
“I have no idea.” He said plainly, “More then I could ever hope to count. It’s one of the curses of our life. We stay young but we will always watch the people we love die. No matter how young they are when we meet them, we will always outlive them.”
”I never used to think I was going to outlive anybody.” Cassie said simply.
Duncan thought for a second then looked at Cassie, “He used to talk about you a lot.” Duncan told the woman who had in some ways become like a daughter to him.
“Really?” Cassie asked a little surprised.
“He always kept tabs on you. He said when you left me, the Watchers were sure someone would take your head within a year. They all thought you were too young, too small to survive on your own. Every year you survived Joe would tell me how much you impressed the watchers. He would tell them he was never surprised, they knew your stats but Joe knew you. He said he knew you had it in you to survive.” Duncan then looked at the young immortal with pride, “and so did I. I knew you were special.”
“I’m not even fifty years old Duncan. I’m hardly you.” Cassie answered back humbly.
“Do you know how many immortals die within the first year of their immortality? Our lives are dangerous. To survive means to constantly save your own life. No one does it for you, the rules see to that. A lot of my students never made it five years. Richie...” Duncan paused, clearly still hurt by his former protege’s death. “You make your own destiny, and you have proved you are able to. You should be proud of what you have accomplished. Because I’m proud of you.”
The years passed and Cassie eventually had to leave her job in Pennsylvania, or else risk her coworkers noticing she was still young. They were already joking about her “good genes.”
But Cassie knew she had found her calling. She changed her identity and moved to Georgia, then once she had been there too long she moved to Toledo, Ohio, then to Tulsa, Oklahoma, then to Boston, Massachusetts.
It was in Boston not long after what in reality was her 60th birthday that she met someone who again changed her life. His name was Eric Brandon. He was an orderly in the latest hospital she was working at. And he became the love of her life.
A year after they began dating he proposed to her. Cassie accepted and the next chapter of her life, a life she never dreamed would be so long, began.
They were married for 50 years. In time Cassie trusted him with the truth, and told him about her immortality.
When they met they were seen as the same age, in time he became the older man, and the mature lover. But in Cassie’s eyes he was always the handsome young orderly she met and fell in love with.
It wasn’t always easy, they never could have a family. It was something Cassie never thought she would have anyway. From believing she would die in high school to her immortality Cassie never dreamed of children. But Eric did and the reality he would never have any hit him harder then even the truth of his wife’s immortality. But they proved their love, like Cassie’s life, knew no bounds. And for over fifty years they persevered. Through all the moves and new identities they had to endure they had each other, and that was enough.
The immortals never stopped coming during their time together. One by one opportunistic immortals came after Cassie. Some by chance meeting, others sought her out; for in the less then a century since Cassie’s immortality she had slowly started making a name for herself.
Word had spread about the small quirky little girl, a student of the Highlanders, who looked like easy prey but had taken so many heads. Some immortals, mostly male, with an ego and too much faith in their own abilities had to see it for themselves. It usually proved to be the last thing they ever saw. Cassie didn’t like having to take lives. She, more then (than) most immortals, knew the true value of life. But she also knew what little time she and her lover had, and she wasn’t going to let anyone take it from her.
The young immortal sat by her husband’s bedside when age finally took him.
“It isn’t fair.” She spat out in the hospital as she saw the only man she ever loved strapped to tubes, his life leaving him. “You are a better person than I am. It isn’t right that I can cheat death but you can’t.”
“Don’t be angry dear.” Eric said weakly, but with a smile showing the love for his wife that never wavered. “Being with you has given me more of a full life than I ever thought. I’m not afraid. God is waiting for me.”
“But how can you not hate me?” Cassie asked in tears, “We should have grown old together, we should have had a family, but I could never give you any of that. And now…” Cassie stopped feeling her voice breaking.
“You gave me more than you could ever know. I never thought I could love anyone as much as I loved you. Or they could love me so much. You have been my heart and soul baby. If you hadn’t been an immortal, you and I never would have met. I thanked God every day for what you were, and that you found me.” The old man said.
He then reached up his hand as Cassie took it, trying but failing, to be brave for her love as the tears escaped her. “Just promise me you will keep living.” Ben asked her weakly.
“Keep that love for life you have always had, it’s what I always loved most about you.”
“I promise.” Cassie said with a choked voice. Then she felt Eric’s grip weaken, and he was gone.
It was a promise she kept. Cassie continued her work as it took her all over the world. Decades passed and in time Cassie met new lovers, though none would ever replace the one she gave half a century too.
The immortals still came and much to everyone’s surprise Cassie continued to best them. She was now over 150 years old. The woman who thought she would never see 20 had seen generations live and die. Governments and leaders had risen and fell. Even as an immortal she hadn’t believed they were things she would live to see. She was sure her size, her body would catch up to her. But no matter how many immortals came she refused to let it happen.
It was at this time that she had reunited with her teacher in the new Iran. After a bloody war lead by an Iranian leader that made even the despots of her time look tame, they had taken over almost all of the nation of Iraq. Unfortunately, while Iran now had new borders it still had the same problems. But it was in the war torn and medically starved environment that Cassie was needed that her skills were needed.
She sat with her teacher one day. She was no longer Duncan’s student anymore, not in more then name. Cassie was seasoned, and experienced. She and Duncan weren’t a teacher and student anymore, they were fellow immortals. Cassie never lost her youthful exuberance, but like Duncan she now carried an old soul.
“I figured it out Mac.” Cassie explained to Duncan as the two sat down for drinks after work one late night.
“Hmm?” Duncan asked looking up from his drink, “What did you figure out.”
“Why I am still alive. Why no one has taken my head in all these years.”
“Because you’re good Cassie. Better then even I ever expected.” MaCloud answered.
“It isn’t just that Mac. I’ve beaten from much better swordsmen, and much more experienced immortals.” She said.
Duncan nodded, he knew enough of Cassie’s war stories to know she wasn’t lying. Many long term players in the game had met their end at Cassie’s hands in the last century and a half. Many of them Mac was sorry he wasn’t there to end instead.
“Then why Cassie?” He asked with a soft smile.
“Because they never have the right focus. In 150 years I have never sought out a fight, never gone looking for a head. Did you know that?” She asked him.
“No I didn’t.” Mac answered a little surprised.
“I never have gone out to settle grudges or make the world right. I do that through my work, not through battle. The immortals that came after me were always hunters. They always had their eyes set on the prize, on killing the opposition to become the only one.”
“Me, I could care less about the prize. I never even think about what would happen if I won the game. But they do, it is what they are obsessed with. They want forever, I only ever want just one more moment, that is the difference.” She said.
Duncan thought for a moment, what Cassie said seemed to make sense to him. “Well then…” Duncan said raising his glass. “To one more moment.”
“To one more moment!” Cassie smiled as they clinked glasses.
And the moments came and went. Cassie continued her work in the new Iran for over six years before having to leave. It was shortly before she left that she met her first and only student.
Mostafa Abbas was a civilian casualty. Just a guy in his mid 20’s trying to make his way home in the war torn streets. Unfortunately for him his path came into contact with a band of terrorists consisting of former Iraqis, unhappy with their new rulers. The firefight that ensued due to their protest counted Mostafa among the many casualties.
He arrived in Cassie’s clinic near death. She knew she sensed something from him, not her usual buzz but definitely a feeling. It wasn’t until after he died on the gurney and then woke back up that Cassie realized what he was.
She took it on herself to train the young man, to help give him the chance to survive that Duncan had given her so many lifetimes ago
“I can’t do this.” Mostafa shouted in frustration during one of their training sessions. His voice echoing off the walls of the abandoned building Cassie taught him in. Cassie had once again bested him quickly. In anger the Iranian threw his sword to the floor.
“Well you won’t be able to do anything if you keep giving up.” Cassie told him seriously.
“Come on Cassie, you’ve watched me. I can’t get this down. I might as well just let whatever immortal I meet next have me.” He said defeated.
“Oh that is a great attitude.” She answered with annoyance clear in her voice. The new immortal was not picking up his training well, due mostly to his bad attitude. Sometimes Cassie thought he was sorry he didn’t die.
“Come on. What’s the point? Do you really think I am going to be the last one, the one to live forever and rule humanity?” He asked sarcastically.
“That isn’t the point.” Cassie told him, “Being immortal doesn’t mean we will live forever, not to me. Only one of us will actually live forever. The rest of us have a limited time from the moment we become immortal. It may be next year, it may be hundreds or thousands of years. But even our time is limited, we aren’t that much different than humans.”
”So what is the point then?” He asked his teacher confused.
“The point is we have some time. Any time. We all get a second chance at life, which means new hopes, new dreams. Even if we don’t live long enough to see all of it we still got the time for those dreams. The second chance to make them true. It’s a chance none of the other people who died at that attack ever had.”
Mostafa did listen, and it seemed like finally she was getting through to him. “Now pick up your sword. If you want those hopes you are going to have to learn how to defend yourself, so you have a shot at living to achieve them. Otherwise you’re already dead.”
Over the next year Mostafa slowly saw what Cassie was trying to tell him, and with renewed energy he learned from her. He eventually left, much like Cassie left Duncan, but he took what Cassie taught with him. And he survived.
Another 30 years passed and Cassie saw something that astounded her. After years of planning, delays, and political maneuvering the first ever civilian space station was launched, named appropriately enough ‘Endeavor’.
Over the next 10 years it became home to over 600 people. It also included a medical facility, which Cassie found herself on the staff of. The woman who once never thought she would live long enough to see men colonize space now lived among the stars.
Ironically enough, it was on that space station high above earth that Cassie Newton finally did meet her end. It was a chance encounter, a visiting supply ship counted an immortal male amongst its crew. Like so many others Cassie had encountered he was a blood thirsty immortal looking for an easy kill. He found nothing easy about Cassie, but in the end the female immortal was unable to defeat him.
As she felt his sword lunge into her gut, Cassie dropped her sword. Some would have feared what was next as her adversary yanked the sword from her body and raised it over his head preparing to serve the severing blow that would bring him a quickening.
In Cassie’s brief moment before death she had no regrets. As her unexpectedly long life flashed before her she saw the people she saved all the centuries before, the man who gave her the love of her life, Mostafa her student and friend who in many ways Cassie would live on through, and Duncan, who had been like a father to her.
Cassie thought she would never live to see 18, never live to do anything important. She thought she would never have a life, much less one that mattered. Instead she got centuries to embrace all the wonders life offered. It wasn’t being the only one that was important to Cassie. It was living a life that mattered, and never wasting the time you had. And in that game, the important game, Cassie knew she won.
She braced herself for the blow as she prepared to once again find out what awaited her after death. And to the surprise of her murderer, right before the killing blow, he actually saw her smile.