AN: CHAPTER TWO UP
'Women never have young minds. They are born three thousand years old.' Shelagh Delaney
It was days like this that made Joe Dawson wish that he had never become a watcher and stayed doing something non-hazardous, like working on a nuclear waste plant.
Being a watcher wasn't always bad, particularly when he was working in the field. Normally, the worst he had to expect was morose Scotsmen, the occasional visits of immortal kleptomaniacs, and five thousand year olds who had a bar tab that filled its own ledger.
However, the aforementioned bar tab having immortal occasionally caused far more trouble than any one man could deal with. If Methos wasn't getting into trouble somewhere else, then one of his former lovers, friends, wives, enemies, slaves etc. was turning up in Seacouver and making trouble.
And if someone from Methos' past wasn't turning up to make trouble, then the immortal was all too skilled at making without any outside assistance. After five millennia, the immortal had developed an innate skill for pissing off the most level minded of people.
It was all too likely that this habit was intrinsically related to Methos' sarcasm, irony, sometimes-unbalanced temperament, chequered past, and keen appreciation of the absurd. Methos' habit for getting into fights in the middle of Joe's bar had already cost the watcher more in damages than he liked to think about when sober.
He supposed that he ought to have expected something to happen soon. Methos had been in Seacouver almost a month, and there had been a distinct lack of incidents. When he had mentioned this to the insufferable man, Methos had had the audacity to pout and insist that he didn't only come with trouble on his heels.
When Macleod had heard this statement, the highlander had snorted into his beer, causing Methos to attempt an affronted expression.
But, all other factors aside, Methos had returned to form with fantastic style.
The evening had begun ominously peacefully, without Methos, Duncan or Richie having been challenged by anyone during the day. Methos had then promptly ordered himself a beer and gotten into an argument with Macleod over the relative benefits of a one-handed or two-handed grip.
When it happened, it was near closing time, and there was no one in the bar except Joe and the three immortals. Joe had known exactly when the events had started, for the three immortals had looked up at exactly the same moment.
Joe had groaned, knowing all too well the expression on the face of an immortal feeling the approaching presence of another. He had groaned once again when Methos had paled rather rapidly and begun getting up from his seat. Richie had turned to the older man and asked,
"Someone you know, Old Man?"
Methos had nodded,
"An old friend."
Richie had groaned under his breath, knowing all too well that most of Methos' old friends wanted to kill him,
"I don't suppose they're just here to talk?"
Methos groaned as well,
"Not a chance, she was furious with me last time I saw her."
Richie groaned again and banged his head against the table,
"No chance she's here to apologise?"
The other immortal had shook his head,
"Her, apologise? That would be my job. She never apologises. I have to go to her on bended knee and apologise. I think she enjoys that more than she is actually angry, but she's somewhat temperamental."
Methos had quickly pulled on his coat and made for the back door, but, before he could go two steps, the door began to swing open. Methos paled and dived behind the bar.
Duncan and Richie had sighed and drawn their swords, facing the opening door.
Of all the people that Joe had been expecting to see at the door, an irate blond dressed in leather and a rather confused group of teenagers, with an older man and one who looked to be in his late twenties, was not one of them.
The blond immortal had looked at Richie and Duncan, with their swords drawn, and had rolled her eyes expressively,
"I'm here to yell at him and maybe give him a kick up the ass, not decapitate him, you can put those away."
Richie had smiled at her and begun to put his sword away, but Duncan had scowled and made no move to do the same. The woman had laughed,
"Look, I've known Methos since he was born, I might kill him a bit, but nothing permanent. I happen to like him the way he is."
Duncan's scowl had softened slightly, but he still made no move to put away his sword, his experiences with Methos' other friends teaching him wariness. The blond snorted,
"Chivalry really is dead. Look, if I give you my sword will you let him get up from where he's hiding behind the bar?"
Duncan had raised an eyebrow, but had put away his sword. The woman had smiled and then reached into her trench coat. With a clink, she had withdrawn an elegant long katana, which she placed on the nearest table.
"Feel free to have a look, just try not to hurt yourself, kid. Oh, and Methos, you can stop hiding behind the table now. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done it a long time ago."
The blond had plopped down into a seat, crossing her legs and leaning back indolently. Duncan had mouthed 'kid' at Richie, who shrugged, then the Highlander went to pick up the katana. The Scotsman picked the blade up with reverence, easily able to tell that it was the masterpiece of a true genius.
The Scot took a few practice strokes with the blade, testing the balance and weight of the blade, finding them both to be flawless. Then the Scot began to slowly bring the blade through the elegant dance of a kata, gradually getting faster and faster, until the sword was only a humming blur of silver.
Then, as the whirling dance of the blade came to an end, the Scot threw the sword at the blond immortal, whose back was to him. The entire group who had arrived with the strange immortal gasped, all except the strange dark-haired man.
The strange immortal merely waited as the deadly blade approached the back of her head. Then, at the last minute, she shifted her head slightly to one side, so the blade went past her. Then, as the hilt came level with her ear, she raised one hand and wrapped it around the ornamented ivory grip. The sword stopped dead in her hand.
There was complete silence as everyone watched the strange immortal slowly slid her sword back into the ebony scabbard. Methos had stood up during Duncan's kata and now walked around the bar towards the group. The strange immortal looked Duncan up and down once and laughed slightly,
"You're not bad with a sword. If you're still alive in fifty years, look me up. I'll teach you how to really use a sword."
Duncan scowled at the stranger and Methos swallowed a laugh. The highlander then turned his stare on Methos, before speaking again to the stranger,
"I'll do that, if you'll tell me your name."
The stranger rolled her eyes expressively,
"And isn't that just the question of the hour?"
Duncan stared questioningly at her,
The woman groaned and turned away from him to Methos,
"Stop looking like a deer caught in the headlights, Methos. I'm just here to talk."
Methos moved slowly from the bar towards her,
"I suppose it's too much to hope for that you're just here to catch up about the good old days?"
The stranger rolled her eyes again,
"Very funny. No such luck though. It's about the kid."
Methos sat down at the same table as the stranger and groaned loudly, before beginning to swear, extensively, in every language that he knew, which was a lot. When he had finished, the stranger arched an eyebrow and stood from where she was sitting,
"Very eloquent, but it won't do anything to help with the trouble your charge has started."
Methos glared at the stranger,
The woman smirked,
"Yeah, remember, Paris 1675, you agreed that you watched him during even-numbered centuries, I did the odd-numbered ones."
Before Methos and the strange immortal could debate the issue, the stranger's red-haired friend spoke,
"Buffy, could you explain stuff now?"
"Buffy? Where'd you think that one up?"
The strange immortal, Buffy, scowled,
"I didn't. I got the name back in the fifties. I was going as Bethany Winters at the time. Then I met this girl called Joyce whose parents had died. I adopted her, but she couldn't pronounce my name and called me Buffy, it kinda stuck."
Before Methos could comment on this, the redhead spoke again,
"Joyce, as in your mum?"
The immortal nodded,
"Well, she's not my mum, I raised her since her parents died, as I told you. But she's pretending that I'm her daughter, who really died at birth. That's the problem with looking like a teenager for eternity."
The redhead made a face,
"I still don't get how you're alive."
The immortal made a face. Methos turned to her,
"They don't know?"
The immortal frowned,
"Well I kinda died immediately after I found out what the brat was doing. Then I came here immediately, so I haven't had time to explain."
Before the strange immortal could sat anymore, the dark-haired boy who had some with her asked,
"Well, now's as good a time as any, Buff."
The immortal made a face,
"It’s a long story, so I'll give you the Cliff's notes version. I was one of the earliest slayers. Then I died, and became immortal."
'Never explain- your friends do not need it and your enemies will never believe it anyway.' Elbert Hubbard
Xander was very confused.
It was not that this was unusual for him, or a difficult accomplishment, but this level of confusion was strange even for him.
The day had started as usual for the boy, waking to hear his parents shouting at each other, their voices slurred with the alcohol they had already consumed. He had quickly dressed and slipped out of the house, managing as usual to avoid saying more than two words to either his mother or father before going to school.
He had arrived at school two minutes before the bell had rung and had snuck into his homeroom with three seconds to spare.
The day had passed as usual, with him pretending to understand his way through classes, all the while making a mental note to ask Willow what was going on in whatever lesson he was in. He had then cut his afternoon classes to watch Faith and Buffy training in the library with Giles.
He had gone with all the others to the Bronze, where they had stayed until sundown. When night had fallen, Faith, Buffy and Willow had decided to patrol together, while the others went to join Giles in the library.
The evening had then passed as normal, the only interruptions being the stealthy arrival of Angel and the cutting comments Cordelia had directed all too frequently in his direction. Of these two occurrences, Xander had difficulty deciding which was worse.
He hated the dark vampire with a passion that sometimes surprised him, but Cordelia's comments had gained an acerbity since the two of them had broken up. He had mostly been able to ignore the ensouled vampire, but the guilt he felt over what he had done to Cordelia made it harder to ignore her well-chosen jibes.
But, for an evening of researching about how to kill different demons, the evening had passed into night in a perfectly normal fashion. Normal, that was, until Faith and Willow had turned up in the library carrying Buffy's blood-soaked and mutilated corpse.
Xander had had to physically restrain the urge to vomit. He had seen a lot of things since Buffy had arrived in Sunnydale, but there was something about seeing the girl he had thought to be invincible battered and broken had hurt more than anything he had ever known before.
Living in Sunnydale meant that Xander had seen a lot of strange things, although he had discounted most of them before Buffy had arrived and he had known what Sunnydale really was. But there was nothing that could have prepared him for what happened next.
He had been on the point of attacking Angel for not caring about Buffy's death, when Willow had attracted their attention back to the table where Buffy's corpse had been placed. Thus they had all watched with morbid curiosity as Buffy's gaping wounds had knitted themselves together again, as blue light danced over them like electric currents.
Even Giles had been lost for any words of explanation as Buffy sat up at the table.
There had been no doubt that the slayer had been dead when Faith and Willow had brought her to the library. But there was also no doubt that when Buffy sat up she was just as alive as she had been earlier in the evening.
Only Faith had asked the question that was prominent in all their minds: what the hell was going on, but Buffy had brushed the question off with what was obviously practised ease.
Only Angel had been unsurprised by Buffy's seemingly inexplicable resurrection. The vampire had remained perfectly calm as Buffy had stalked towards him. The situation had only become more surreal when Buffy asked the vampire if she had just died in front of them.
Xander's already over-worked brain had almost exploded when the vampire had answered quite calmly that Buffy had died. Buffy had then sworn and asked Angel if he had told them anything, a question to which the vampire answered the negative. Buffy had seemed pleased by this response and then had turned to Willow.
After asking Willow something that made no sense to the others in the room, Buffy had calmly informed them that they were going to a place called Seacouver and then to Colorado Springs. When the matter of the hellmouth had been brought up, Buffy had stated that Joyce would look after things, and that Buffy had been training her since the 1950s.
None of them had dared to ask questions as Buffy had requisitioned Oz's van, they had merely piled into the van, all but Angel brimming with curious questions.
Buffy had driven northwards like a maniac, swearing under her breath in languages not even Giles recognised.
When Willow had shakily requested that they stop for breakfast, the figure that had turned in the front seat was someone that none of them recognised. But Buffy had relented and stopped at the nearest roadside diner.
All of them but Angel, who had fallen asleep in the back of the van, piled out of the car, blinking in the bright sunlight. Buffy had ushered them all into the quiet diner and informed them that they could order whatever they wanted, as long as they ate it quickly.
As they consumed their breakfasts, Buffy sat and drank her way through six cups of black coffee. The slayer then lit a cigarette as they finished their breakfasts.
They had barely finished their last swallows of food as Buffy paid the waitress for their breakfasts, using what appeared to be a platinum card. They were then ushered out of the diner and back into the van.
The second part of the journey was very different from the first, as if the coffee and cigarettes had mellowed the slayer. Buffy had slipped a queen cd into the van's sound system and had switched to swearing in languages that Giles and Willow could understand.
With less persuasion than before, Buffy had pulled over again a few hours later, at yet another nondescript roadside diner.
Buffy had not made any comments about time during this meal; she had merely made a point of taking poignant looks at her watch during key intervals in the meal. Once again, Buffy had paid for the meal as she ushered the others out of the diner and back into Oz's van.
Buffy had been quietly morose during the next part of the journey, her silence adding an uncomfortable tension to the already stuffy van. The uncomfortable silence had continued, with Buffy ignoring any questions as they crossed state lines into Washington State.
The sun had set as they drove north, and Angel woke just before they made their final stop for dinner.
Buffy had turned in her seat as she noticed that the vampire was awake. Angel had quirked his lips at her in recognition, and she had pulled into the next roadside diner.
They had all piled out of the car once again and had traipsed into the diner. Buffy had led Angel to a booth in a corner of the smoking area and had glared at the rest of them until they had chosen their own booths.
Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Faith and Oz had chosen the largest booth they could find, whilst Giles sat at a table to himself, reading the paper and drinking tea.
After the five teens had ordered their meals, they had sat and watched the vampire and vampire slayer in their corner booth. Both had ordered black coffee, and sat there, sipping at the scalding liquid whilst smoking cigarettes and talking together in low voices that not even Faith's enhanced hearing could distinguish.
Xander had watched them even after the others had lost interest. As he munched his way through a cheeseburger and fries, and then a slice of chocolate cheesecake, all paid for once again by Buffy, he watched Angel as the vampire made Buffy laugh as she had not laughed in ages.
Fortunately for Xander's sanity, or what was left of it, they had left the diner as soon as Buffy had noticed that they had all finished their food. However, his temper had not improved when Buffy had asked Angel to join her to ride shotgun, claiming that the vampire had the best night vision and would able to stay awake longer.
Thus Xander had had to watch in disgust as Buffy and Angel sat together, their hands touching even as Buffy drove ever northwards. The two talked in a strange lilting language that Willow had recognised as a derivative of Irish Gaelic that was no longer spoken.
Even though he did not know what was going to be within, Xander was therefore very glad when Buffy pulled the van to a final halt outside of a building whose neon sign declared it to be Joe's Blues Bar.
When Xander had followed Buffy into the bar, he had not expected to be greeted by two men holding swords, one who could not be much out of his teens. A third man had been standing by the bar, obviously in the middle of an escape attempt. The bartender had been sitting down watching with a resigned look on his face. Buffy had made some comment about not coming to permanently kill someone, then both men had put away their swords.
Then Buffy had withdrawn an elegant katana from out of what appeared to be nowhere and then handed it to the older man. The stranger had then performed an elegant kata with the sword at a speed and excellence the likes of which Xander had never seen before. Then, to his shock, he had thrown the sword straight at the back of Buffy's unprotected skull. Buffy had done nothing to prevent he passage of the sword at the back of her head until the last moment, when she had tilted her head slightly to one side and caught the sword, bringing it to a dead stop, no pun intended.
Katana sheathed, Buffy had then turned towards the man who had been trying to make a run for it before they had entered. She had spoken to him, addressing him as Methos and the following conversation Xander had understood very little of. Then the conversation had turned to the subject of Buffy's mother. Finally Willow had asked the question they had all had on the tips of their tongues ever since Buffy's miraculous resurrection earlier in the library. Buffy's answer had surprised them all speechless for a moment, and Xander then asked the question he knew to be foremost in all their minds,
"What are you talking about?"
Buffy smiled, but it wasn't a smile that was either comfortable or familiar on her, it was an almost feral smile than he did not recognise. As she answered, there was also a unfamiliar edge to her voice,
"Gee, Xander, I wouldn't have thought it was that hard to understand. I'm immortal, therefore I neither age nor die. But before my first death, I was one of the earliest slayers, therefore my slayer powers remained after I died."
Xander had frowned, both at the sarcastic tone to the explanation and to the explanation itself. He had spoken then, asking again what he thought to be an obvious question,
"But, you did die. The Master killed you in his lair."
Buffy had rolled her eyes and sat down on one of the tables,
"I am immortal, not invulnerable. I was killed by the Master, but I came back. Death isn't permanent for me, I just come back afterwards. Unless I am decapitated, that is. I would have left immediately after I came back to life, but I was drowned as well and then you came to rescue me, I hadn't thought you'd do that, so I decided to stay for a time."
"So, you're not Buffy?"
Buffy, or whoever she was, sighed
"I am Buffy, or as much of Buffy as there ever was. If you're looking for Buffy, I'm all you're ever going to find. But I'm not really the Buffy you know, I haven't ever really been that person. But that isn't the point, and certainly not why I came all the way up here."
Willow spoke then,
"But, Buffy, if you never meant for us to know about this, to know about what you are, then why did you bring us all the way up here?"
"Because I may need your help."
The stranger that Buffy had called Methos spoke then,
"How can this lot possibly help to clear up whatever mess the kid's made this time?"
Buffy sighed and turned back to Methos,
"One, they're more helpful than they look and, two, we're gonna need all the help we can get with this particular mess of his."
Methos sighed and asked,
"I probably don't want to know, but what has he done this time?"
Buffy slipped into a chair opposite him and leant towards him, keeping her eyes fixed on his,
"You wanna know what the brat's gone and done?"
"Well, then. I'll tell you what the dratted idiot did. He first joined the USAF and then he helped open the Chappa'ai."
Xander did not see any significance in this statement, but obviously Methos did, as he paled rapidly and banged his head hard against the table. After spending a moment doing this, he lifted his head from the wooden surface and said,
"Please tell me those two statements were at least mutually exclusive actions?"
Buffy smirked and shook her head,
"I'm afraid not, the Stargate, as they call it, is now under the control of the United States Air Force."
Methos groaned even louder and his face turned very serious,
"When you say that he helped them open it, to what extent have they discovered the knowledge that it reveals?"
"You mean you want to know what they know of the Goa-uld?"
Xander did not recognise the word, and from the looks on the faces of the others, none of them did either. However, the word was obviously more than familiar to both Buffy and the stranger Methos. Methos nodded and Buffy sighed,
"I'm not sure precisely what they know of the Goa-uld, but the fact that the Stargate has been opened again is reason enough to track the kid down and take him to hand."
Xander swallowed slightly at the ominous tone in Buffy's voice. He did not want to know what Buffy meant by taking the kid to hand, but he was sure that it could not be pleasant. Finally, the stranger who had thrown the sword at Buffy spoke,
"Methos, what are you talking about?"
"It's not really important, Mac."
The man Mac, frowned,
"Well, I want to know."
It looked like Methos was not going to answer, but Buffy punched him and said,
"Just tell him Methos, we might need his help."
"I can't imagine why we would need his help, but I suppose telling him won't hurt."
Buffy frowned and punched Methos again, causing the man the rub his now injured shoulder,
"I do wish you would stop that. Some of us are only ordinary immortals, unlike you."
"Yeah, well, I'm one of a kind."
"Thank the Powers for small mercies."
Buffy made as if to punch Methos again, and he held up his hands in a defensive position and she lowered her raised fist.
"Fine, tell them all now. But I want my friends to know as well."
Methos frowned and began to speak,
"If you're so keen on everyone knowing, you can tell them yourself."
Buffy sighed and spoke,
"Fine, if you're going to be that way. I will tell them."
Buffy gestured for them to sit down, which Xander reluctantly did, noticing with some pleasure that Angel for the first time that day looked as curious and confused as the rest of them. Buffy cupped her chin in her hands and began to speak,
"First, I guess you should know a little more about me, information without which this explanation would be quite fruitless. I do not remember the name I was born with, or even if I was born with one. The first name I remember having is not even my own. The first name I used was Sekhmet, which was the name of the Goa-uld symbiote that took over my body."
Angel spoke then,
"Buffy, I'm confused, what's a Goa-uld?"
Buffy sighed sadly,
"It's complicated. Basically the Goa-uld are an alien race…"
Before she could continue however, Macleod interrupted,
"Aliens, lass, you're trying to convince me that there are actually aliens out there?"
Buffy scowled dangerously and leant towards Macleod,
"I suppose that you'll be telling me you don't believe in aliens."
"Of course I don't believe in aliens. You'll be talking about vampires, demons and UFOs next."
Buffy smiled in a predatory manner that made Xander and her other friends from Sunnydale shiver. They had not seen that smile many times, but it was not a good omen. When Buffy spoke, her voice was overly sweet and condescending such that even Angel shivered slightly,
"You don't believe in vampires, Scotsman?
Macleod snorted, seemingly oblivious to the threat in Buffy's soft tone,
"Vampires are no more than a bedtime story."
Buffy smiled even more sweetly and then turned from Macleod to the silently observing Angel sitting behind her,
"This charming gentleman here possesses a scepticism relating to the existence of the respiratory challenged. Would you be kind enough to make an amendment to his opinion on this matter, in which I know you to be expert."
Angel sighed and Buffy turned around to face him, genuine love and affection in her eyes, as well as a healthy dose of apologetic sorrow. She brushed his cheek with her hand and said,
"I know you don't like doing it, Angel, but it's only this once and we will need MacLeod's assistance if we are to face the Goa-uld."
"Just this once."
"Have I ever lied to you?"
Angel opened his mouth as if to reply, but Buffy placed a finger on his lips,
"That was a rhetorical question love. But, despite certain things I said when we met in Vienna, I have not lied to you since I met you after you had your soul restored. Anyway, I swear that I will not lie to you about this. Please, we're going to have enough problems with the military, Methos, the kid, the Goa-uld, etc. I don't have enough time to deal with MacLeod's self-righteous scepticism."
Methos snorted with amusement and an injured expression slid onto Mac's face. Angel shook his head, allowing as he did so for his face to shift to his true demonic visage. MacLeod swore loudly in Gaelic, making Buffy, Angel and Methos laugh, something that was very disturbing with Angel's demonic face at the fore.
Buffy smirked and then turned to MacLeod,
"Okay, so now we've established that vampires and aliens exist, we really ought to get to Colorado, I'll explain the rest of the story on the way there, but we really can't wait."
First time writing Highlander, tell me how I got the characters.