Flashbacks (The morning after the night before)
Richie Ryan lounged on Duncan's sofa in the Seacouver loft. One hand held a clean white cloth, the other, his sword. The sword glistened in the early morning light, and Richie watched the reflected sparkles dance around the room with a glum face.
“How was the hot date?” Duncan trotted down the stairs, his hair slicked back into its usual ponytail, but still wet from the shower. Duncan wore only black dobok pants, and he padded into the kitchen in bare feet while tying the string at the waistband.
“Hmm?” Richie glanced up.
“Date. Anne? Dinner and a movie? Dancing or going to Joe's for jazz and drinks?” Duncan smiled warmly at Richie, his young student the closest thing he'd ever have to a son.
“Umm. Okay, I guess. Didn't make it to Joe's.” Richie sat up higher in his seat, making a show of wiping down the blade. Duncan frowned but walked over to the kitchen and flicked on the coffee pot. “Does it get any easier?”
“Dating?” Duncan grabbed an apple from the kitchen island and walked over to the couch, flopping down next to Richie. “Sure it does.” He bit into the apple with a crunch, ruffling Richie's hair. When Richie did not look up from his work, Duncan set down his apple and took the cloth and sword from his student. He looked across the room to the clock. “Shouldn't Anne be here by now?”
“She's not coming.”
“What?” Duncan McLeod set the sword down on the coffee table. “It wasn't that late when you got home. You had a fight?” Richie scowled at him, and Duncan scowled back, crossing his arms across his bare chest. “Ethan is a good friend of Joe's, not to mention Connor and Amanda, you didn't do something stupid with his daughter, did you?” He slapped Richie on the back of his head. “She may be in her twenties, but if she's still living at home, she could be pretty sheltered. You didn't push her into something she wasn't ready for? On a first date?” The silence stretched out uncomfortably in the room.
“She said she would call. She didn't.” Richie picked up the sword and cloth resumed the wiping.
“It's dating, not rocket science.” Duncan told him. “Apologize. Grovel. If you like her, she'll come around. You're a good kid. So is she.”
“She's dead, Duncan.”
“We were challenged. She told me to run.” Duncan stared at Richie, dumbfounded. “She meant it.”
“She isn't one of us.” Duncan stated flatly. Richie shrugged. “You ran? Where did it happen?”
The two immortals looked around the alley, now hot and stinking in the morning sunlight. There was no sign of Anne's body, and the dumpster was empty. “Clean up crew?”
Duncan shrugged. “I'll talk to Joe.” He shook his head. “Damn it all.” He paced the alley, running his hands through his hair, nervously. Spotting scraps of blue torn silk in a shadowed corner, Duncan picked them up, showing them to Richie, who paled. “I thought you said you didn't. I know Anne had this on when she came over.”
“I didn't. Honest.” Richie held up his hands in surrender. “I swear.” Duncan's grim mood darkened further, his scowl deepening. Richie approached his teacher. “What's that?” He pointed at a bundle of cloth in the deepest shadows of the buildings. Richie leaned down and snatched it off the ground. His hands shook as pink lace panties and a bloody stake slipped out from under the wadded up skirt. “Fuck.” Richie vomited into a trashcan beside the dumpster.
Methos entered the Amanda's apartment, locking the door behind him. Dropping the keys in the wicker basket beside the door, he picked his way across Amanda's apartment, leaving his Samsonite suitcase next to the bathroom door. His breath hitched when he saw Buffy's slim form in the bed they had shared the night before. She was tangled in the sheets, and he saw faint traces of the nips he had left on her shoulder blades and the impression of his fingers on her buttock where he had gripped her hips hard enough to leave a bruise. The slayer consciousness did not recognize his love marks as injuries and left them alone. The marks gave him an odd sense of relief – she was real, she was, once again, by his side. His memories of their lovemaking the previous night were real. Adam set their coffees carefully on the table beside the bed.
“Anne?” Methos shook Buffy's shoulder. “Anne.” When she didn't stir Adam felt a cold sweat of panic, shaking Buffy hard. Dropping the shopping bags he carried on the floor, Methos grabbed her shoulders and shouted in desperation, “Isabella, darling, wake up! Please.”
“Adam!” Buffy startled and rolled over in the bed. “What's wrong?”
“The last time...” Adam sank to the floor between the two bags, tears pricking his eyes. “I couldn't wake you. You wouldn't wake up.”
“Oh, Adam.” Buffy slid over in the bed, making room for him, and throwing the sheet back. Adam climbed in, leaving his shoes behind. He burrowed his face between her bare breasts as Buffy rubbed his back. “I'm so sorry. I'm so, so very sorry.”
“I thought...” His voice choked up. “For a second, I thought I'd lost you again.” Adam looked up, seeing Buffy's concerned face. “It's stupid.”
“It's not stupid, Adam Pierson. I understand.” Buffy propped up on one elbow, Adam took advantage of the position to suckle at the nipple positioned in front of his nose, his arms wrapping around Buffy's body. “Anne's just a name I picked at random, maybe it's better if you go back to calling me Isabella. Ethan does. You'll have better luck waking me with that name.”
“Love you,” he murmured into her chest as he tightened his grip on her. “Bella. Mine.”
“I'm always yours, Adam. I love you, too.” Adam's grip loosened. “It's okay, sweetie, I won't break.” Adam's arms tightened again.
“Really?” Buffy smirked down at Adam. He had abandoned her nipple and was nuzzling at her stomach. “I hadn't noticed.”
“You smell of Ethan, the bed smells of Ethan,” Adam crawled up her body to kiss her.
“That's not terribly surprising. He was just here. Do you mind?” Buffy shifted a bit to reach a hand to his face, trying to read his expression between kisses.
“Only that Ethan isn't here to enjoy it with us.” Adam settled his hips between her legs, which wrapped around his body automatically, her ankles crossing. “But, what is surprising – you smell of William and Drusilla, too. Noticed that last night.”
“You have a better nose than most weres. It's kind of annoying, you know.”
“I do.” Adam answered proudly as he licked a line up her neck, Buffy squirmed, but allowed him to continue. “All sorts of interesting scents and tastes on this body of yours.” Buffy rolled her eyes, and Adam chuckled. “Quite the collection of friends you've got for yourself. Johnny M. bonded you.”
“He's dead. Lothos.”
“It's been a while.”
“Doesn't make it any easier, I know.” Adam continued his explorations. “Richie. Joe. MacLeod.”
“I'm working at Joe's bar. ” Buffy huffed. “Joe's never been anything other than a perfect gentleman. I like Joe. He's adorable. And you know quite well that I haven't been making time with Duncan or Richie. The Highlander is too uptight. And I look too damn young for his tastes.”
“His loss is my gain.” Methos chuckled with dark humor. “But McLeod can fight.”
“True. So he trains me. And I've picked up his scent. All the man sweat and bare chests in the dojang. And hand to hand. Wrestling.” Methos stilled. “What, I can't look? Cop a feel? Duncan is a hot piece of ass.” Buffy teased. Adam pulled the sheets away from her legs and was now running his nose along her inner thigh. “Not as hot as you. And your ass is mine.”
“Well, me and McLeod. We're sort of on the outs right now.” Adam licked a line up Buffy's thigh. “Darla. Mmm. I like that. Oh, the memories. Glorious memories. Shall we seek her out?”
“If you like. Angelus staked her. I sent her to Connor for training.”
“She's never been in the Game. And it's been seven hundred years since she needed to fight. She'll be fine in Chicago. But that's why I'm here, with Duncan.” When Adam glanced up, “Will keeps in touch with them – but Connor has his hands full with Darla, he didn't need both of us on his plate.”
Adam smirked. “I can handle the both of you just fine.” He licked a line up the inside of the other thigh. “More Ethan.”
“I don't think that's what Connor meant. Are you going to try to figure out the entire history of this shell with your nose?” The teasing voice took on a tinge of irritation as she half-heartedly pushed him away.
“And what the hell did you do to Duncan MacLeod? I don't recall that we ever had any business with him before.”
“I didn't do anything to him.” Adam grumped. “We were friends. We might have been great friends. I like him. He treats me like a normal bloke. I did my level best to convince him I was.”
“You are a normal bloke, Methos. As normal as any twenty-three thousand year old male can be.” Buffy emphasized the 'Methos', as she attempted to sit up in the bed. “Let me up. Coffee?” Buffy perked up, spotting the the two white and green cups sitting on the table next to the bed, now that her full attention was no longer on Adam. She pushed herself up on the pillows. “You brought coffee?”
“Yes. And pastries.” Adam lifted the bag from the floor.
“Ooh. Gimme.” Buffy gave Methos a hard shove that had him clinging to the side of the bed to avoid being tumbled onto the hardwood floor. “Hand over the food and no one gets hurt.”
“But I thought I was busy turning you on.”
“No, you were busy sniffing me like a nosy puppy. And asking questions. And reassuring yourself that I'm here. Newsflash, not exactly a turn-on.” Buffy took the box from Adam. “I'm here. I'm fine. Yes, I've been with Will and Dru, and Ethan, and Darla, for that matter. But I know quite well that you don't mind me with any of them.” Selecting a chocolate croissant, she took a bite. She set the box on the bed between her and Adam, creating a virtual boundary between them. “I was stuck on the hellmouth, they were there. You weren't. My usual contacts couldn't locate you.” She settled back, sipping her coffee. “You. Duncan. Explain.”
“Kronos came to town.”
“Your sister told him I was one of the Horsemen.”
“So, I am Death. Killer of thousands. MacLeod the Younger got on his holier-than-thou high horse and tossed me out of town.”
“Wonderful.” Buffy rolled over, snuggling against Adam's side. “Just wonderful. Why the hell did she do that?”
“Why does Cass do anything?”
“Because it suits her purposes. She's a seer, Adam. She thinks she can tilt the balance and direct the future into the least harmful path. She chooses her words carefully.”
“Well, goody for her. She didn't help me any. Kronos was mad. Now, Kronos is dead.”
“You never liked him much.”
“Nah, didn't.” Buffy agreed, reaching back into the bag for another pastry. “But I understand – understood – the need for him. Having him dead, well.”
“Hmm.” Buffy hummed as she fidgeted with the bed sheet that pooled around her legs.
“Caspian and Silas are gone as well.”
“Ah. So that's what Drusilla's vision meant.”
“She saw them die.” Methos' face was downcast. “I'm sorry she witnessed that.”
“She felt it. Took weeks for Will and me to calm her down. She was hysterical. I can't even remember what I told Rupes about it. I had to call Connor and Darla in to help with her. And Amanda. It was – very hard. Apparently, their deaths destroyed some valuable time lines. They were needed. Badly needed. Particularly Silas.”
“Your sister didn't think so.”
“My sister's Sight isn't the end all and be all. She has flaws in her visions that Drusilla does not. Cassandra does not always fill in the missing pieces correctly.” Buffy gave a little shake of her head. “I love my sister, but. Enough of this. Let's go out.” Buffy slid off the bed, reaching into the bureau for a pair of tiny pink shorts and a jogging bra. Reaching into the upper drawer, she palmed several throwing knives and a switchblade, tossing them on the bed as Adam returned with his suitcase, stripping off his slacks, and retrieving a pair of shorts and a singlet from the case.
“I brought your blade from Paris.” Adam slid the linen and silk wrapped blade across the bed. “I figured you'd want it back.”
Buffy lovingly unwrapped the blade, giving it a few test swings. With a flick of her wrist, the blade disappeared into the air. Buffy gave a small sigh of contentment. “You have no idea how good that feels.”
“I don't think I'll ever get used to seeing you do that.” Adam commented. “It defies understanding.” Raking his eyes across her body, he smirked. “But, I'm pretty sure I know how good it feels.”
“It's mostly science, not magic, Adam. You could do it. I've told you before, if you had the patience, two or three months to spare. You could learn to do it.”
“It's fine. I don't mind using my bare hands in a pinch. Neither do you.” Adam slipped a small silenced revolver into his waistband, after checking the ammunition.
Buffy rolled her eyes as she followed Adam to the front door. “Honestly, Adam, Ivanhoe or not, I think you still prefer your bare hands. It's like popping a champagne cork for you.”