Faith reluctantly crawled back to consciousness, prodded on by a painful tugging sensation at her side. Warily, she opened her eyes, afraid of what new mess she might find herself in. After a second, Faith recognized her surroundings from a dim recollection of Joyce Summer’s bed room and sighed in relief. "I’m still alive," she observed, somewhat surprised.
"And, it looks like you’re going to stay that way," Buffy replied, not looking up from the half healed wound and the bandage she was changing.
"Now what? You wait for me to heal up, then ship me back to prison? Or are they on their way to pick me up now?" Faith asked antagonistically, because that was the only way she could keep from embarrassing herself by begging not to be sent back.
Buffy’s brows drew together and her mouth screwed up, then she opened her mouth as if to snap back at her fellow Slayer. Then, without having said anything, she paused, relaxed a bit, and shrugged. "If you want, I could call the cops right now," Buffy offered in a disinterested tone, "But, if I were you, I’d want to avoid going back to prison, maybe try doing good for awhile--see how that worked out."
"You mean that?" Faith asked half sitting up in surprise then falling back on a pile of pillows still too weak to sit up. "You’re not just shittin’ me, are you? You’re really not sending me back to prison?" she pressed thinking what Buffy seemed to be offering was just too good to be true.
"No, I’m perfectly serious. From what I hear you’ve sincerely changed. Heck, you almost got yourself killed saving my life. If you’re not going to go around maiming and killing innocent people anymore, you could do a lot more good out of prison than in," Buffy explained, still not overly enthused about Faith’s release but willing to be reasonable about it.
"You’re just gonna let me go?" Faith asked for confirmation, still not believing Buffy could have forgiven her enough to let her go.
"Not exactly," Buffy replied.
"What do you mean ‘not exactly’?" Faith said suspiciously, feeling vindicated. She knew there had to be a catch.
Taping the new bandage in place, Buffy hedged, "How do you feel about Washington State?"
"Never been there," Faith replied, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well..." Buffy began, not exactly sure how to explain, "I don’t think you’re ready to be completely on your own--"
"You mean you don’t trust me," Faith interrupted.
"And," Buffy continued a little louder, deciding to ignore the interruption, "I don’t think your coming back to Sunnydale is a good idea--"
"You mean you still hate me and don’t want me around you and your friends," Faith interrupted again.
Knowing that any reply she might make to Faith’s interjections would only result in a full scale argument, Buffy simply gave Faith her best evil eye and continued, "I didn’t know where you should go, since the Council was definitely out. Luckily enough, Mac saw you sacrifice yourself for me, thought it was noble, and offered to take you in. He lives in Seacouver which is in Washington State."
"Who’s Mac?" Faith asked, "And, why would he offer a perfect stranger a place to stay?"
"Tall, dark haired guy with a big sword, you might have noticed him in the fight?" Buffy prompted. "And he offered because he’s a really nice guy and just does that sort of thing."
"Yeah," Faith nodded. "I remember him. But, you know, B, no one is that nice. He has to have some ulterior motives," Faith protested Buffy’s naiveté. "Of course, if I’m remembering the right guy, I could really go for some ulterior motives. It’s been awhile, me not really going for the girl on girl action," Faith qualified her protest.
"If he has any ulterior motives, they’re not what you’re thinking," Buffy said dryly. "I haven’t known him very long, but if anything I’d guess he’s making up for his very own detour through the darkside."
"You’re sending me off with some near stranger?!" Faith complained, but not seriously. Her moving in with a total hottie sounded like a good plan to her. "He could be a major freak on the look out for Slayer nookie."
"You wish," Buffy replied. "And, if he turns out to be some other kind of freak, I’m sure you can handle it. You are a Slayer after all."
* * * * * *
Downstairs in the dining room, Methos had his lap top out and was working on something illegal.
"What’cha doin’" Dawn asked, coming up behind the Immortal, sandwich in hand.
"Creating identifying records for one ‘Faith MacLeod,’" Methos replied absently, still concentrating on what he was doing.
"I thought Mac was going to do that?" Dawn asked, "You said it wasn’t your business and you didn’t want to get involved."
"Mac was going to make a mess of it," Methos answered, eyes still glued to the screen. "If he’s going to be harboring escaped convicts, the least I can do is make sure he doesn’t get caught. Otherwise, I’d have to come up with a clever plan to get him out of prison. Faking a few records for his new ‘cousin’ is a lot easier."
Just then, Buffy walked in. "The patient is finally awake and eager to meet her new roomie," Buffy announced. "Where’s Mac?"
"He’s fixing the leaky outside faucet," Dawn answered. "He really doesn’t get the whole not doing stuff thing does he?" she asked rhetorically.
Buffy went through the kitchen and out onto the back porch. She was about to go down the steps and circle around to the side of the house where the drippy faucet was, when she heard voices. Catching her sister’s name, Buffy couldn’t resist the impulse to stop and eavesdrop.
"What are you planning to do about Dawn?" Joe asked.
"I’ll keep in touch, and when the time comes I’ll be there to explain anything she hasn’t figured out on her own," Duncan said, clearly unconcerned at present.
"But what happens in the mean time?" protested Joe.
"Life goes on like normal," Duncan suggested. "Immortals avoid the Hellmouth. Now that the crisis is over, I can see why. Ever since we stopped the ceremony, Methos and I have been feeling sudden impulses to leave. I think Dawn’ll be fine without me keeping an eye on her."
"Don’t you have any curiosity?" Joe asked, frustrated with his friend’s apparent lack of concern for the oddities of Dawn’s case.
"Not enough to go poking my nose in business that doesn’t concern me," Duncan replied evenly.
"Suit yourself," Joe said, giving Duncan up as a lost cause. "I’m going to go see how Methos is progressing with his little project. It’ll be easier to get the details on your new family member from him than to look them up myself later."
Hearing Joe come her way, Buffy started down the step toward Duncan. As they passed each other, Joe gave Buffy an assessing glance, trying to figure out if she’d overheard anything. Buffy pasted a clueless smile on her face and pretended she hadn’t heard a thing.
Finishing up his repair of the faucet, Duncan was screwing the garden hose back into place. Seeing Buffy come around the corner of the house, he rose to greet her, brushing dried grass off his knees.
"Faith’s awake," Buffy said.
"Did you tell her about my offer?" Duncan asked.
"Yes," Buffy answered. "Are you sure you don’t want to take it back? It’s not too late. You haven’t met her yet, so she can’t take it personal... ly."
"If I weren’t sure I wouldn’t have offered. She nearly died for you. That’s not the action of an irredeemably evil person," Duncan said for what felt like the millionth time. Everyone except Anya had tried to dissuade him from his offer--Anya didn’t care where Faith went as long as it was away from her.
"Just because she’s not irredeemable doesn’t mean you’re the one who has to do the deeming. A serial killer, even if she’s former, is a lot to take on, and you don’t even know her," Buffy pointed out.
"All the more reason for her to move to Seacouver with me," Duncan said, still convinced of the rightness of his decision. "Faith has enough to deal with already without a lot of personal history getting in the way."
"If you’re not changing your mind about it, I guess you should come get introduced," Buffy said turning back toward the back porch with Duncan following close behind. After ascending the top step to the porch, Buffy suddenly stopped and spun to face Duncan. "One more thing before we go inside--what’s so special about Dawn?" Buffy demanded.
"Special about Dawn?" Duncan replied innocently, "You’re her sister, you’d know more about that than I would."
"I am her sister, which is why I have to ask what you know," Buffy pressed. "And, don’t pretend it’s nothing. The look you gave her when you first came to the Magic Box, the fencing lessons, Adam’s irritating questions, all add up to something and the conversation you just had with Joe pretty much clinches it. So, now you’re going to tell me what it is, because I really need to know," Buffy said not quite threateningly, but with lots of conviction.
Duncan silently looked at Buffy for a minute, gauging how likely the Slayer was to not let the matter go until she had all the answers. Then he gave it up as a foregone conclusion, figured that, as the Slayer, Buffy didn’t have room to throw any stones, and decided to tell her the truth. "Dawn’s going to be Immortal one day," Duncan stated simply.
"Oh," Buffy said, a little nonplused. "I thought it might be something like that, but it’s still a shock to have it confirmed. My sister, an Immortal, it boggles the mind."
"You can’t tell her," Duncan warned. "She should have as normal a life as possible before..." he trailed off not wanting to mention the d-word.
"No worries there, I wouldn’t dream of telling her," Buffy reassured. "We haven’t seen normal in years, but I’m still not going to say anything. If she knew she couldn’t die permanently she’d be beyond reckless. Then I’d have to listen to her bitching and moaning about being an eternal sixteen-year-old till my dying day," she elaborated, quickly getting used to the idea. Compared to finding out your sister was originally green energy and your memories were created by monks, Immortality is small potatoes. "Actually, it makes a lot of sense when you think about it," Buffy mused to herself.
"It makes sense?" Duncan asked, surprised at Buffy’s reaction and more than a little confused. "Perhaps you could explain something that’s been bothering Methos and Joe," Duncan said tentatively. Since Buffy didn’t make any protests, Duncan continued, "I don’t know if anyone has mentioned it, but all Immortals are foundlings. None of us have ever had a biological family."
"And?" Buffy asked, seeing where Duncan was going with this, but wanting to know how much he knew before she said anything.
"Dawn’s not adopted, is she?" Duncan asked. "Joe looked, but couldn’t find any record of an adoption."
"There wasn’t technically an adoption, but..." Buffy fished around for the right way to put it. "Let me put it this way: Dawn wasn’t adopted, but I didn’t have a sister three years ago."
"What about the school and medical records going back before three years ago?" Duncan asked.
"My, Joe certainly was thorough," Buffy observed pointedly. Then getting back to the matter at hand, she shrugged and said, "They’re fakes."
"Fakes?" Duncan prompted.
"Dawn needed a place to hide and someone to protect her, so I got a sister," Buffy explained. "The one who was after her is dead now, but others might come looking. As far as the world’s concerned Dawn’s my sister and has always been my sister. It has to stay that way," Buffy warned, dropping into a dead serious tone.
"I will never do anything to endanger Dawn, you have my word," Duncan gave his solemn oath.
"Good," Buffy accepted Duncan’s promise.
"Can I ask one other thing?" Duncan said, returning the conversation to a more normal tone.
"You can ask."
"What about the forgeries? Methos couldn’t even spot them and he’s an expert."
"He may be an expert at normal forgeries, but magical forgeries are a lot harder to spot," Buffy answered.
"You can forge documents with magic?" Duncan asked, surprised. That just didn’t seem like an appropriate application for magic to him.
"From what I’ve been told, you can do just about anything with magic if you can figure out how to go about it and are willing to pay the price," Buffy replied. "Oh, and before I forget to warn you, don’t bring up her life before she became my sister with Dawn. It’s not something she likes to think about. Last time it came up, a trip to the hospital and several stitches were involved."
"As far as she’s concerned, I only know she’s your sister and think she was born that way," Duncan agreed, seeing no other choice in the matter. Duncan thought Dawn would probably benefit from talking about whatever was so horrific about her past, but there was no way he could bring it up without revealing how he found out Dawn was anything other than what she appeared and that would entail revealing her Immortality.
"Alright then, now that we’ve got that settled, let’s go see Faith. She’s probably wondering what’s keeping us," Buffy said, relieved to finally have her suspicions confirmed and that she was able to fob Duncan off with some half-truths, avoiding any mention of The Key. On one hand, she wasn’t happy that Dawn would one day have to participate in the Game Duncan told her about, but on the other hand at least Dawn wasn’t going to die at a young age as was so likely to happen living on a Hellmouth.
Then the two finally went upstairs to introduce Duncan to Faith.
* * * * * *
Buffy quickly performed the introductions then left the room so they could get to know each other. Buffy figured that with her there Faith would be on edge, making the conversation with Duncan unnecessarily difficult.
Faith had struggled into a sitting position while Buffy was downstairs. From her spot, propped against the headboard, she looked Duncan over like she was sizing up a side of beef. Amused by her blatant inspection, Duncan quirked one eyebrow, grinned, and decided to play along with his own minute inspection.
Deciding to put the bad girl attitude on the back burner for awhile, Faith patted the bed beside her and said, "Why don’t you stop towering over me and tell me what possessed you to invite me to come stay with you."
Duncan took a seat about even with Faith’s knees, facing her, and said, "Buffy told me what happened before, and I saw what you did for her. I just thought you might need a place to go."
"You’re not worried I’m going to kill you in your sleep?" Faith asked, only half joking and defenses firmly in place.
"Not really, should I be?" Duncan answered.
"I’m not plannin’ on it, but I never planned on doing a lot of things, but I did ‘em anyway. I mean, killing a bunch of people and going to prison wasn’t exactly on my to do list," Faith said with a humorless chuckle.
"Long as you’re not planning to kill me, I won’t worry about it. I’ll worry about you knifing me in my sleep when it actually happens," Duncan said.
"But, then you’d be dead," Faith pointed out, obviously beginning to think Duncan wasn’t playing with a full deck.
"Not for long," Duncan corrected, then seeing Faith’s blank expression, he added, "I guess Buffy skipped that part."
"B must’ve skipped something if that last bit was supposed to make sense," Faith agreed.
"Faith, I was born four-hundred years ago and I cannot die," figuring she’d find out anyway if she moved in with him, Duncan didn’t hesitate to give her the short version.
"Huh? What gives? You’re not a vamp. How can you be four-hundred and only look thirty-something?" Faith asked.
"I’m an Immortal, and before you ask, I don’t know where we come from. We’re just like normal humans except we don’t age, at least not after the first time we’re killed, and although we can be killed we just get up again a few minutes later, as good as new," Duncan explained.
"You serious?" Faith asked, disbelieving. "I could stab you in the heart and you wouldn’t be hurt?"
"It’d hurt, dying is usually painful. But, I’d survive," Duncan answered.
Faith looked at Duncan for a minute, then accused, "You’re just pulling my leg. People don’t just get up after they’ve died. Demons sometimes, but you’re not a demon."
"I was hoping to avoid the demonstration this time," Duncan said, pulling a pocket knife out of his back pocket. Unfolding the knife, he said, "Watch closely, I don’t want to have to do this more than once."
Duncan took a deep breath and ran the blade over his left palm hard and fast, leaving a deep cut behind. Faith was surprised by his actions but still deeply skeptical. Then, before her very eyes, little flashes of what looked like lightening moved over the wound sealing the gash in their wake. Mere seconds later the wound was completely healed as if it were never there, the only remaining evidence being a few smears of Duncan’s blood.
"Wow, that was really cool," Faith observed, as Duncan grabbed a couple tissues from the box beside the bed and wiped away the blood.
"Now you believe me?" Duncan asked.
"Yeah," Faith said, "But, that still doesn’t explain why you’d want to help me. What’s in it for you?"
"I want to help you because everyone deserves a second chance. And, because people have helped me in the past with no expectation of return; doing the same for you is the least I can do. Besides, I hear you’re pretty good in a fight," Duncan explained.
"Okay, I got all the standard do-gooder mumbo-jumbo, but you lost me on that last part," Faith replied.
"I own a dojo and I’m always looking for a good sparring partner. There’s not a lot of people who can match four-hundred years of practice. I thought maybe you could teach a few classes, just to keep busy. And, I could learn a thing or two in the process."
"You paying?" Faith asked.
"We can work something out," Duncan agreed.
"Sounds good to me," Faith agreed to the plan.
"I suppose this means you’re coming to Seacouver?" Duncan asked.
"Not like I have anywhere else to go," Faith shrugged, "If I don’t like it, I can always leave."
* * * * * *
Several days later, after Faith had time to heal up, everyone was at the airport saying their farewells.
"Too much shit’s happened for us to be friends, hasn’t it?" Faith stated more than asked.
"Yeah, but I don’t want you dead anymore, I don’t even hate you," Buffy said brightly.
"I guess that’s progress," Faith admitted with grin, "You’ll call me if you need help with something?"
"I will, even before calling Angel, at least we never dated," Buffy replied.
"You take care of yourself B," Faith ordered.
"You too," said Buffy, then she moved on to the next person in line.
Buffy went up on tip toe to give Duncan a sisterly kiss goodbye. "If something happens you should know about, I’ll keep you posted," she promised. Then looking pointedly at Methos and Joe she said, "Or, you could just ask them. They’ll probably know about it before I do."
"Sorry about that," Joe, Duncan having filled him in on part of the truth, apologized for his investigation, "I never could leave a mystery alone."
"I’m not sorry. No harm no foul, I always say," Methos said, grinning to let Buffy know he was just teasing. Then glancing over to see Dawn still well out of earshot--hugging Legolas goodbye and instructing Faith to not be a jerk--he added, "Don’t worry about your sister, we know how to keep a secret. No one who shouldn’t is going to know anything about her."
Finishing up her farewells to Methos and Joe, Buffy interrupted Anya’s presentation of a scheme to transport elven made goods from Middle-earth for a vast profit and shooed the vengeance demon away from the elf. "So, you’ll be going back to Middle-earth in a couple months and we’re probably never going to see you again." Buffy said with a disappointed sigh.
"That is the plan. We probably won’t ever meet again," Legolas agreed. "I shall miss you and Dawn, even Anya. Her odd directness has grown on me."
"Yeah, we like you too. But, if you’ve gotta go..." Buffy trailed off. Then chewing on one side of her bottom lip and giving Legolas a speculative look she said, "You’ve gotta go and I’ll never see you again, so what the heck." Then she went up on her toes, pulled the tall elf down to her and kissed him full on the lips.
Legolas hesitated for a split second. Then, embracing the ‘what the heck’ mentality, his arms went around Buffy and he deepened the kiss. The nibbling and tasting went on for quite sometime, until their audience started throat clearing and commentary. Needing to breathe, Buffy eventually broke the kiss, panting slightly.
"You’re very good at that," Legolas observed grinning from ear to ear.
"You too," Buffy agreed with a matching grin.
Then giving each other a quick, friendly, hug they said their good-byes.
* * * * * *
Meanwhile, a few steps away there was an uncomfortable moment between the semi-lovebirds. "So, Anya..." Methos trailed off, not really sure what to say.
"It was the veins wasn’t it?" Anya asked shrewdly.
"Veins?" Methos asked.
"You know, my demon visage. Xander couldn’t deal with me going all veiny either. Men are all so superficial. You look slightly inhuman for two seconds and next thing you know they don’t want to be your orgasm friend anymore," Anya complained.
"Uh... I’m sorry?" Methos tried.
"Yeah, sure, whatever. At least you apologized," Anya shrugged and walked away.
* * * * * *
A couple minutes before their boarding call, a familiar balance demon strolled up to the group. "Good job with the demons, that coulda gotten seriously messy," he congratulated the group.
"And, now you’re here to warn us about something even worse that’s about to happen?" Buffy guessed.
"Nah, nothin’s comin’ for awhile yet. There’s somethin’ brewin’ but with you and Faith still alive and kickin’ we got a good shot," Whistler replied. "I’m here to keep you from making your own mess. The separation between Immortals and demons is back on." Giving Duncan a significant look, he continued, "You stay out of Faith’s business. Give her a job, place to stay, be her friend, but leave the demons to her. There’ll be hell to pay, in the literal sense, if you go sticking your nose where it don’t belong."
"I’ll stay out of the vampire slaying," Duncan grudgingly agreed.
"And you?" Whistler asked Methos.
"As if I even considered the possibility," Methos sniffed.
"Good, I’ll be goin’ then, have a nice flight," Whistler said and walked away, swiftly disappearing around a corner.
Faith, Duncan, Joe, Methos, and Legolas boarded their flight to Seattle a few seconds later and Dawn, Buffy, and Anya went home.
* * * * * *
Legolas spent a couple more months in Seacouver, then when the right time came, Methos and him flew back to Switzerland and the stones. Methos said goodbye to the elf at the bottom of the hill and said he’d probably visit Middle-earth again in the not so distant future.
Legolas entered the circle of stones, sliced his hand, said the words, and woke up several moments later under a different and very familiar set of stars. "How was your visit?" a gruff voice asked him.
Sitting up and seeing his friend Gimli sitting nearby, he answered, "It was... interesting. Remind me to tell you about it sometime," he teased the dwarf.
"Sometime? What about now? It’s still a long walk to the city," Gimli pointed out barely able to restrain his curiosity.
"Very well," Legolas relented. "Adam’s world is very different from this one, even the trees aren’t the same, but that was just the beginning of it..."
A/N: That’s it for a bit. Everyone is back home where they belong, except Faith who’s getting a second chance at being a Slayer, this time in Seacouver. But, now that everyone’s been introduced, paths are sure to cross again. And, there’s still the Dawn issue to settle. No direct sequels any time soon--I kind of need a break from the Buffy/Highlander milieu--but there are plans for another sequel sometime in the nebulous future.
If you spot any confusing bits or unanswered questions, please email me. I am going to revise, so there’s every chance of a new scene inserted to correct an oversight. I already plan to insert a M.E.-what-happened-to-Legolas scene somewhere near the beginning.