Unforeseen Consequences: Revelations
Title: Unforeseen Consequences: RevelationsAuthor: ArjenWord count: 80.000+Summary: Sixth story in Black Sunrise. Crossover with Highlander. In some universes Cordelia Chase is a normal teenager. In others, she is neither.Pairings: None.Rating: PG-13.Crossover: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Noir, Highlander.Disclaimer: All characters and other recognizable things are property of Mutant Enemy, ADV films, Panzer/Davis, Rysher, and whoever else wants to lay claim to them. Everything that I thought up is made using their property so I can’t really claim that either.Feedback: Preferably constructive criticism, tell me what I’ve done right and wrong and I’ll be happy. Flames I consider as written by five years old who according to that ridiculous rating system aren’t allowed to read this.Chronology:
The Day After
Dark, Darker, …
Unforeseen Consequences: Heart of Darkness
Unforeseen Consequences: RevelationsBackground: Dawn was created early and the monks weren’t stupid enough to lead Glory directly to her. During Halloween ‘97 she was possessed by Kirika from Noir. Afterwards she retained the memories of this assassin and had gained knowledge of the supernatural. Since then she has tried to learn how to live with the different minds that now inhabit her body. An unfortunate side effect of all this has been that she now experiences dreams that are more real than they should be.Author’s note: While it would help to read the previous stories in this series everything that happened there is explained in this one as well. These explanations won’t happen immediately though.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ indicates a change of POV Every action has consequences, of which at least one cannot be predicted beforehand. When the monks turned the Key into a living being they had not expected her to be possessed by the spirit of an assassin. But what if that had not been the only unforeseen consequence of their action? What if there was another, one that might have even more of an impact on her life?Chapter 1
“Four… Three… Two… One… Happy new year!” Being hugged by her mother she did her best to both ignore the pain it caused and hide the exasperated way she felt about yet another meaningless ritual. What was it with these people and celebrating everything?
January 1 wasn’t any different than December 30, or May 12 for that matter. The only difference she could see was that when you wrote down a date you put down a different number in the year part of it. So what was it that made people want to celebrate this night? Maybe the real owner of this body would have known the answer to that question, but she didn’t.
“Happy new year Dawn.” Being brought out of her reverie by those words she turned around and nodded her agreement to the girl that uttered them. This one too wanted to hug and kiss, although there appeared to be something holding her back. Kirika might not have known Jane as well as the real Dawn did, but she had a lot of experience reading people and it was obvious to her that that the girl was acting a little stiff.
Just like her—or rather Dawn’s—other friend. Ever since she had returned from her trip to Los Angeles she’d felt as if a wide gap separated her from the girls. During Christmas—another useless holiday—she had still believed that she was to blame for it.
The brutality of the events in LA had shocked even her, but for her at least it hadn’t been the first time she’d had to deal with guilt. However, when that strange personality had taken over and turned her complete attention to the task of making her enemies suffer, Dawn had been scared into retreating far back into her mind. The madness and total disregard for life simply became too much for her. And now, it was Kirika who had suddenly been assigned the duty of commanding an unknown body, or rather the emotions that it ran on.
The emotionless version of her, the one that she’d believed buried after that confrontation at the Manor, had freely given up control of the body to her, so that the secret would remain just that. Nobody was to know that Dawn was no longer controlling her own body. If anybody would find out, well she wasn’t entirely sure what would happen but one of the few things all personalities agreed on was that they were there to stay.
If someone would try to remove them there would be consequences. A high price would have to be paid, a price she didn’t believe anyone in Sunnydale was willing to pay. And that was just what the sane ones would do; the actions of the other were as unpredictable as they undoubtedly were gruesome. So, in order to save the lives of those around her, Kirika needed to play the part of Dawn to perfection.
“You too,” she finally answered as she broke away from the hug, and even attempted one of her own smiles. The smiles were one of the worst things about the whole impersonation. She still couldn’t get them right. Smiling had never been an important aspect of her life, so there had been never been any need to practice it. Under other circumstances it wouldn’t have been so bad as people usually recognized the slight lifting of her lips for what it was and simply ignored the sad look in her eyes.
This time it was far more difficult however. Not only couldn’t she smile the way Dawn did, but the people around her were very observant. A trait she had never really been fond of when it manifested itself in others. Good observational skills led to people remembering little details and quickly discovering inconsistencies, both things that she definitely couldn’t afford to face during her missions.
And despite her youth Jane was one of the most observant people she’d ever met. While the girl might not be the kind of genius that could solve difficult equations in her head, she was very good at connecting the dots. “Are you alright? You do remember that if anything is bothering you, you can always come to me and Sara right?”
“Yeah Dawn, you know that both I and the fashionably challenged are always willing to help you. No matter what.” The way those last words had been stressed ignited warning lights all over her mind. They knew.
Shocked by this sudden revelation she looked at Jane’s face. Yes, there appeared to be knowledge there, but was it the right knowledge? Had they succeeded where even those who had been present had failed? Did they understand what had actually happened during that faithful Halloween she had been dragged away from Mireille? No, she barely refrained from shaking her head in denial, they couldn’t have found out. There just wasn’t enough evidence for them to have found out.
But now that the initial shock was starting to wear off, Dawn realized her mistake. While considering the possibility of discovery she had wasted precious time, time that she should have used to make a joke about Sara’s teasing or even giving a normal answer. Whatever suspicions her friends had, she had just confirmed them at least partially.
“I know.” It wasn’t the best answer and, as she was already aware, a little late, but it was better than nothing. In an effort to distract herself she took her glass of champagne and took a sip; only to once again be disgusted by the taste. Just like in Los Angeles, the alcoholic drink didn’t taste right. And it wasn’t the US wine-industry that was the cause of that problem. No, it was simply that those damn taste buds of hers still weren’t able to deal with normal things like wine or champagne.
But once again she had allowed a momentary distraction to take her away from her mission. Keep up the cover of a normal happy Dawn until that personality was able to do so herself. She hadn’t expected it to be this difficult though, after all she had some limited access to most of Dawn’s memories. Unfortunately, while there wasn’t much they could hide from each other, there were a number of things she didn’t know. But then again, those things weren’t exactly the ones that should have a great impact on her actions right now.
“You say you know, but do you really?” Sara asked, obviously intending to push her into a revelation. Something that had no chance of succeeding, no matter what they tried, now that she was aware of what they wanted. Only through shock would they have been able to reach their goal, and there was no chance of her being that surprised again. She was Noir, she was trained to handle surprises. And turn them against her opponents.
“Of course I do. And you do understand that things like that go both ways, don’t you?” It wasn’t often she spoke that long a sentence, but as she watched the reaction of the two girls she realized it had been the right choice. She wasn’t the only one with a secret. Something had happened while she was in Los Angeles, and unless she was way off the mark it was the reason they suspected something.
Had they? No, the chances of either of them encountering Sunnydale’s nightlife, surviving it, and then connecting it to her current situation were just too small. And if they believed she might have knowledge about it, why wouldn’t they speak of it? Or did they try to use silent hints? The wooden sword they’d given her for Christmas wasn’t exactly a subtle one if that was the case, but she decided that they would never keep something like that from one of their best friends. The three of them had always been open about everything, there was no reason to suspect that her friends would hide something this big.
“Sure, we would never keep anything from you that you didn’t already know,” Jane said, after a couple of seconds of silence.
But while the answer was telling in its own way, Kirika ignored it. Something else had happened, something that she had been waiting for since Christmas. There was no doubt about what she’d felt, Dawn had actually come out of her stupor for a moment. But what had been the reason? Something that had been said? A thought that had crossed her mind? Or was she breaking out of her catatonic state out of her own volition?
It was Sara who then stopped her from contemplating that moment however as she excitedly told the two of them. “Yeah, yeah, whatever. The fireworks are starting, let’s go outside and watch.”
Outside? Standing there between the vampires and other human-looking abominations? Once again she felt that emotion she had so little experience with. Fear, she was afraid of the creatures of the night.
In her true life there had been only one kind of creature of the night that counted, and she had been queen among them. But these beings… They were hard to wound, and even harder to actually kill. A single bullet or knife was never enough, and from some of the things she had heard it seemed that sometimes not even killing them was enough. Some of them could come back from the dead, or at least be brought back by some kind of magical ritual.
Always magic; filthy, dangerous magic. The one thing that was at the core of all her fears. She could fight things that obeyed the laws of nature, the strongest man would die if you stabbed him in the heart or put a well-placed bullet in his brain. But with these magical creatures, who knew what they might survive?
Stepping out where the cool sea wind could caress her face, she exorcised those thoughts and worries from her mind and instead focused on the beautiful lightshow. Fireworks, where there was fireworks, there was black powder. Could she make use of that knowledge? No, Dawn would be impressed by the sight, not trying to figure out the tactical advantages, especially as there were better alternatives anyway. Focus on pretending to really be Dawn.
It wasn’t until several hours later, shortly before going to bed, that she allowed her earlier questions to resurface again. Both Jane and Sara had been acting normally for the rest of the evening, so she had allowed herself to forget about her doubts again. But now that she didn’t have to focus on anything else anymore she could spare some time for it. Besides, she hadn’t written about the day’s events in either of her diaries yet.
The diaries were a leftover from the Dawn personality, a personality she really hoped would be back soon. Never intending to stop writing about the events she experienced, Dawn had kept up her habit. The only change being that she considered her old diary the public one, and wrote everything important in another book, in Japanese. Strangely enough, after taking over Kirika had never even considered stopping writing about the events that took place.
A choice that was made without even considering the need to stay undercover. No, the real reason for the second diary was the feeling of helplessness as she’d run around on that Halloween, looking for information about where she was. That was something that should never happen again and, considering the amount of magic that was used in this town, you never knew when someone might mess with your mind again.
Having finished that diary, she continued in the one that Dawn would keep. Kirika was totally immersed in that task, but even while describing a particularly beautiful flower made from firework, she couldn’t get all the annoying questions out of her mind. She kept pondering the events of the night, and in the end decided it might not be a bad idea to try to get some more information from her, or rather Dawn’s, friends tomorrow. That situation might still be salvageable, and she didn’t want to hurt Dawn anymore by alienating her best friends.
Having made this decision, she finished her daily writings and prepared for bed. While putting on her pajamas however, there was one unbidden question that she couldn’t get out of her mind, a question that scared her more than anything else possibly could.
If these beings were so hard to kill, and could live for hundreds of years, did that make them immortal? Vampires couldn’t be immortal, they were dead, but what about those countless demonic species? Was there one among them that could be considered truly immortal?
It was a beautiful spring day, or at least that’s what Cordelia was trying to convince herself of. Nothing was about to go wrong, and she would enjoy the sunshine. Yes, maybe she’d go to the beach and walk off some of the stress. No! There was no stress, life was perfect, so she might as well have some real fun and go shopping.
Stepping out of the school proved that she was only fooling herself into believing that, as she couldn’t help noticing the different way in which she was being treated now. The jocks turned away from her, the Cordettes—who got their status thanks to her—turned with them, but made certain she would be able to see them laugh. Laugh at her. And the reactions from the other people who noticed her weren’t anywhere near as respectful as she was used to.
How had it come to this? A week ago her reputation hadn’t been as high as before she started publicly dating Xander, but at least it hadn’t received its death knell yet. How could that no-good insignificant little man dare to cheat on her with what was probably the only person that stood below him on the food chain? If she ever found out who it was that had told people about it, she would make sure that they’d regret it for the rest of their lives. Long, healthy, years full of suffering. Death was too good for them.
“Hey Cordy.” Cordelia turned around to glare at the person who dared to interrupt her glorious suffering. Nobody had the right to interfere when she was having such tragic thoughts. And when she saw that she had recognized the voice correctly she narrowed her eyes as her anger grew to epic proportions.
“What?” she asked Buffy. “Do you want to pour some salt on the wounds? Drive me even lower into the ground? Or do you just want to be there when the Titanic sinks?”
“Huh? Titanic?” the blonde looked confused for a moment before answering the questions. “Nah, I’m not here to do anything like that. It’s more like that I… I don’t know. I just think it’s unfair to you that you’re the one that’s suffering because of all this.”
“You want me to believe that you’re doing this ‘cause you feel sorry for me?”
“I guess.” The impertinence. Who did this bleach-blond, stuck up, no good loser think she was?
“Then you can leave. I don’t do the compassion thing.” Having said that she turned away from the girl, who was probably only trying to make peace, and stormed off to her car.
“But…” Buffy obviously didn’t feel she should give up just yet. Cordelia had other ideas about that however and ignoring the shout continued on her way, shoving away everybody who dared to cross her path at the wrong moment.
Who did these people think they were dealing with? She didn’t need any help. She had always been able to deal with anything that came her way, well except for that one small little matter, but that had been so long ago it didn’t really count.
“Hey, watch it,” some inconsequential kid said as she bumped into him, and if she had been in a better mood she would have enjoyed flaying him with her tongue for that show of impertinence. But she wasn’t in a better mood and she wavered between doing him some real physical harm and ignoring him.
After a couple of agonizing moments she chose the path of the wise, and simply walked past where he was already lying on the ground. Strange how her mood wasn’t even good enough to get some satisfaction out of the fact that he had landed in some dirt.
The further she walked however, the less people got in her way. Cordelia wasn’t sure whether that was because they had seen her approach, or because this part of the schoolyard just wasn’t as busy. Not that it mattered to her, as long as all of them got out of her way. Luckily it wasn’t long before she reached the parking lot and with a sigh of relief she zeroed in on the beautiful convertible carrying the custom license plate.
‘Queen C, That’s me,’ Cordelia thought and finally let some of her bad mood evaporate. The constant reminder of who she was always managed to do that to her, which of course had been one of the reasons she’d bought it. Combined with the wind she would soon feel caressing her face as she raced her way to the mall—or would it be the beach after all?—she was pretty sure that her bad mood would be gone within hours. At least until tomorrow, when the whole sordid affair would start over again.
Upon reaching the door to her car however she had a feeling there was something wrong, but couldn’t immediately find anything. Only when she lowered her eyes to the tires did she notice the two flats. Two? That couldn’t be an accident. Walking around it to the other side she found that it wasn’t only the two tires on the driver’s side. Somebody had been an equal-opportunity tireslasher.
“Oh, look at the poor little girl. Her little car all messed up,” came the mocking sound from behind her and she turned around to spear the perpetrators with a defiant stare. If they expected her to react to something like that they had the wrong idea. She didn’t recognize the kids, but figured they were probably one ridiculous gang or another. After all, the existence of real gangs was a must if all the vampire activity was to be successfully blamed on them.
The fact that gangmembers had a much higher chance of actually being turned was also the most likely reason the average minion was so stupid. After all, most of them were addicts and therefore weak in every possible way. Those idiots with a habit of taking hard drugs were even worse as that stuff messed with their brains. Which was after all one of the things that stuff had in common, whether it was PCP, alcohol, or nicotine.
The fools didn’t seem to be impressed with her action however and just started laughing, probably because of whatever high they had just scored. “You know guys, I think somebody was a bad boy and slashed her tires. I wonder who that might have been.” And with another cackle of mad laughter the lesser being started lazily flipping a knife in the air.
It had been them. They were the ones that had desecrated her beautiful car. And now they thought they could get away with taunting her about it. All the frustration of the entire day collided at that moment. Every single moment she’d had to keep herself in check, every time she’d wanted to hurt someone for what they were doing to her. All of them combined into a single ball of hatred, and made her reach a boiling point. And for the first time in several years, Cordelia Chase let go of the control that had ruled her life during that time.
Casting a quick look around she didn’t see anyone around who might be surprised by her behavior and stalked toward the group of thugs. With every single step she took part of her cover was dismissed, and her stride became ever more confident, as she once again started to exude the authority that was hers by right of birth. The only thing she regretted about the situation that was about to occur was that she couldn’t have them flogged for what they did to her car. In her experience that scum of the earth known as criminals had mostly kept their place when punishments like that had still been allowed.
Before she reached them however, Cordelia remembered to take her jacket off and throw it back at her car. It missed of course, but at least dirt was relatively easy to clean. “What’re you gonna do, chicky?” the overly confident leader asked, obviously not able to recognize true authority when he faced it.
Not deigning to let that foolishness deter her, Cordelia walked until she stood right before him and leaning forward, until her face was only inches from his, she spoke in a calm and collected tone of voice. “Once upon a time I would have had you drawn, quartered and beheaded for a crime such as this. Aside from that, your family would have been ruined in every aspect, except that they would have remained alive; always knowing that your bones had been picked clean by the ravens as your head was adorning a stake in front of my family’s mansion. In these less civilized times however, I find that I am forced to satisfy myself with some mere physical means of retribution.”
“Huh?” Clearly a statement like that went over this despicable creature’s head, but what else could you expect from these traitors to the crown? “Are you like dissin’ me or something? I don’t take that y’know.”
“My dear, low-born, piece of horse dung,” Cordelia started, hoping this would finally penetrate the other’s befuddled brain. “Yes, I am dissing you. In fact I’m dissing you so hard that, in the unlucky event that you’d happen to breed, your children would feel dissed.”
And that did indeed manage to make him lose his temper, although his reaction wasn’t quite the punch and some incoherent mumbling, or shouting, she’d expected. Someday she would remember how bad she was at strategy before she started picking a fight.
The moment that the knife entered her abdomen she did her best to ignore the pain, but it was difficult. On the other hand, it wasn’t something she was unable to deal with. In the name of fashion she had endured some very painful times, and it wasn’t exactly the first time somebody stabbed her either.
Of course, this was the second time in less than two weeks that her stomach had to endure something like this. And experience didn’t stop it from feeling as if the entire court was dancing on her entrails either. Luckily the shocked look on the goon’s face offered some useful distraction. He had probably expected her to either back away, or even fall down. Well, if he did he was as successful in predicting human behavior as she was.
Because instead of backing off, or doing anything else that someone of her standing should have done, she slapped the boy. “Bad boy.”
“What?” Shocked by her behavior the fool stepped back, allowing her the chance to back him up against the wall. There was no way she believed that the silly slap she’d managed could have caused this, so it was the fear of the unknown that did. Something Cordelia had every intention of milking to its fullest effect.
Once she had him against the wall however, she was faced with a decision. A decision that would have to be made soon. While the knife that was still sticking from her stomach hadn’t caused anything close to a lethal wound, she had no intention of staying here until anyone else would arrive. Walking around with a wound like that wouldn’t help exactly help her regain her deserved status.
The decision wasn’t really a hard one, kill him, or not. In a way she really wanted to kill him, but she really didn’t want all the trouble that would come with it. Besides, no matter what had happened in her life, she had no intention of casually killing anyone. Not even a lowlife like this. So, choosing the other option, she put a genuine angry snarl on her face and grabbed the guy at the lapels of his jacket while pulling him closer to her own face until she could smell how difficult it probably was for him to use a toothbrush.
“If I ever see you again, you’ll wish I’d killed you today.” And with that warning delivered she rammed her right knee straight up and, more than satisfied with the way he went cross-eyed, let him drop down to the floor.
Stepping back from the kneeling boy she pulled the knife out of her stomach and, wiping the bloody weapon clean on their leader’s clothes, Cordelia growled at the boys who were still standing there with their mouths open. “Scram!”
Well, would wonders never cease? They actually did as she’d ordered, which left only the leader to deal with, before taking a well-deserved rest. Turning back around to the moaning heap of pitiful flesh she lifted her leg once again, and her satisfaction increased once more as she heard the crunching sound caused by the impact of her expensive shoes on the unworthy recipient’s nose.
It was only when the boy didn’t move at all that Cordelia considered checking if he was still alive. Putting her hand at his throat she checked for a pulse, breathing in relief when she discovered one. Good, she hadn’t killed him. Killing people always caused such a mess, which was one of the reasons she detested the Game.
That and the fact that having to fight someone with a sword was a very risky business, the problem with fights like that had in her opinion always been twofold. First there was the fact that she wasn’t a good swordfighter, as a child she had been taught that fighting was the business of men and all she had to do was keep some good ones close by. Which led immediately to the second concern.
She had always considered swordfights to be a matter of luck and—despite what Hollywood tried to show people these days—they rarely lasted more than a couple of minutes. In that short time however she would have to be lucky several times while all her opponent would require was a single moment where her luck ran out.
Those were odds she didn’t care for, and she didn’t understand why hardly anybody else seemed to figure that out. It didn’t matter how good you were, in the end you’d face someone who was just a little bit luckier than you. Someday you’d trip during a fight and end up on the wrong side of the sword. But despite that, there were still people running around waving their swords as if it truly mattered who won that stupid Game of theirs.
But there too the ancient adage was proved true. Wisdom truly did come with age as practically everyone running around hunting people was young. Whether that was because the old ones had gotten smart or had simply run out of luck wasn’t all that important, but it was always the young ones.
Young ones. How ridiculous was it for her to call someone else young? A rather large number of Immortals were older than her, including some of those who were still actively hunting. Shaking that thought off, she brought her attention back to the boy. He would live, and if she didn’t want to run the risk of anyone finding her like this she really should leave.
Still, her stomach hurt terribly and lifting her shirt she took a look at the wound decorating it. Why did this have to take so long to heal? Had that part of the spell really been necessary? Sure, it was obvious that nobody could sense her quickening, and the whole memory deal to make her fit in with these people couldn’t have been avoided. But why take her healing as well? It took hours to heal something as superficial as a normal cut. Who was she kidding? She knew how long this took but with a bit of luck it would at least heal faster than the wound she’d had after that zeppo had cheated on her.
Taking some bandages from where she kept them in her car, something she’d started doing after she’d been hurt one too many times, she quickly improvised something that looked like it might work. Patricia would be able to handle the rest, and after taking one last look at the boy who’d dared to hurt her she took off for home.
After walking for almost five minutes, she was starting to feel a bit better again. It helped that the street she was walking through appeared mostly deserted, which meant that there wasn’t anyone who’d ask her questions about the pain she was so obviously suffering. If anyone in Sunnydale would even notice something like that. Despite that Cordelia really hoped that nobody she knew would come out of one of those houses to talk to her.
Hah! She shook her head in disgust. With her reputation so completely destroyed there was no danger of that happening. Of course, while passing one of the alleys she would have done her best to avoid during the night the world apparently decided it was time to come crashing down around her anyway.
“Cecilia.” She could almost taste the hatred in the voice as its owner snarled her name. The hatred in that voice was so clear that Cordelia Chase, student of Sunnydale High, turned with trepidation to look into the alley. Only to see someone she’d hoped to never lay her eyes on again. Why did this happen now? With no man around to manipulate into fighting this battle for her? While she was still wounded?
And to make matters worse, she wasn’t even carrying any weapons aside from the worthless knife she’d just taken, and her personal dagger. If there was one thing she’d learned though, it was that sometimes you just had to roll with the punches life sent your way. Which was why she opened her mouth to say the only thing that came to mind.
It was still far too early in the morning when Kevin noticed his assignment’s phone ring, and for a moment he wondered what kind of fool would be up at this time of the morning. Six o’clock wasn’t a time people should be calling each other. Of course, there were circumstances for which a time like that might be necessary, but he was quite certain Richard Washington wouldn’t receive a phone call about his sick grandmother.
But whatever the reason, the Immortal answered the phone and after a hesitant start soon started acting very agitated. An action that caused Kevin to curse the fact that he didn’t have a tap on the Immortal’s phone; it would have been so much easier had he been able to hear the conversation. But of course, his Immortal wasn’t important enough for what little trouble his bosses would have to go through.
With a look of disgust on his face he considered the ridiculous amount of paperwork he’d had to go through, only to have the request denied. And look! Now he needed it, and no doubt he’d be blamed for his failure. Even hearing one side of the conversation would have been nice, but Washington was paranoid about bugs and probably would have found them during his next periodic check.
A parabolic microphone might have worked too, but he had always considered that to look far too cheesy to actually use. And he’d never really needed it before; the routine his assignment followed was almost like a script that happened every single day. Washington would get up at five-thirty in the morning and after taking care of his needs would go running from about six to seven. Once he returned there would be sword practice until it was time for him to go to work. Of course Kevin should have realized that this script might change and now he’d lost his chance to listen in. Peering through the carefully concealed telescope he noticed that, after hanging up, the schoolteacher didn’t even go outside for his run.
For the first time in the seven years that he’d been the man’s Watcher, the routine changed; and Kevin was pretty sure that couldn’t possibly be a good thing. He was a Watcher however, and if something suddenly changed the behavior of his Immortal, he needed to find out what it was. So, for the next forty-five minutes he was busy perusing the Chronicles of Richard Washington, an Immortal who was believed to be at least 300 years old but whose early past was still shrouded in mystery.
He had always been fond of his assignment, something that was hard not to be when it came to that man. Not an active participant in the Game, he had only taken five heads. The only remarkable thing about that had been that of those five, three had been during the Civil War. Like all Americans, Immortals had been forced to choose a side during that war, and sometimes when they encountered each other that meant they would fight. In many cases it had been thought enough for the other to die a temporary death, but sometimes heads had been taken.
According to Washington’s Watcher at the time all three of these fights had been at the instigation of the people that lost their heads. But as the two of them had been fighting in the same unit, that could just as easily have been a cover-up to make his friend look better. Or was that too paranoid a thought? No, it had been proved that not all Watchers could act impartial when it came to their Immortals, so he had to at least consider the possibility.
Back to his assignment; while the man wasn’t important enough to the Watchers for them to spend a lot of time speculating about his background, Kevin had found out that the man absolutely loathed slavery. And if you combined that fact with the way he was so paranoid about being overheard it led to the conclusion that he had probably been a slave. Which made the deaths of those three Immortals seem a lot more suspicious.
While that was interesting to read and think about however, it didn’t exactly help him in any way. The other two challenges had without a doubt been instigated by his opponents, and as the last one had been over sixty years earlier, Washington could hardly be called an active hunter. Which made his actions seem a lot more worrying. The only other Immortal he’d heard about who had suddenly reentered the Game again was Duncan MacLeod.
Sure, the guy was supposed to be on the side of angels and one of the main contenders for the prize, but that didn’t mean he had to like his own assignment taking a similar path. People around Macleod had the nasty habit of dying, and not only the guilty either. Both innocents and even some Watchers had met their demise because of Macleod’s interference.
However, before he drew the wrong conclusions about his Immortal’s behavior, he really should try to find some answers himself.
* * *
“Oh, hello Kevin.” Washington waved him in, clearly distracted by whatever the call had been about. It was obvious that the man had been thinking ever since he’d received the call, so much in fact that he hadn’t even changed out of his workout clothes despite the fact that it was very unlikely he was going to do any running.
“I don’t have all that much time, but I missed you this morning and wanted to make sure you were alright,” Kevin answered as he stepped inside. He felt a drop of sweat work its way down his back and shifted his shirt a bit to intercept it. It hadn’t been easy, making himself look as if he’d just spent his normal hour of exercise in only a couple of minutes, but he had succeeded.
“I’m fine, it’s nothing.”
While he hadn’t really expected anything else, Kevin still felt a sliver of disappointment, but he hadn’t come here to give up. “Ah, ah. If it had been nothing you would’ve shown up. And besides, you don’t look as if it’s nothing.”
“Just leave me alone,” Washington immediately bit back, and this time Kevin didn’t need to fake the surprise that showed on his face.
“Hey, relax man. I’m on your side, remember?”
Guilt crossed the other’s face and he rejoiced in the knowledge that he’d taken the right course in this small battle of wills. Were all Immortals this easy to fool? Or was it that strange innate sense of trust Washington had? And thinking about that trust, where did that come from? If he’d really been a slave how could he so easily trust other people, or was that part of the Immortal psyche? The ability to shrug of terrible events?
He suddenly noticed Washington had started talking again, and quickly returned his attention to the man’s words. “…a phone call, and now I’m debating on what to do.”
“Phone call? This is about a phone call?” Allowing a shocked expression to come forward, Kevin sounded horrified when he posed his next question. “Oh no, nothing happened to your family did it?”
“What? No, this doesn’t have anything to do with my family. It is a personal matter though and I’d really rather not tell you about it.”
“If you’re sure, but you do realize that I’m more than willing to listen and help with your problem don’t you? And you know I wouldn’t tell anyone about it.” That last, bald-faced lie was the one real regret he had about befriending his assignment. It wasn’t that he minded reporting on the man’s every move, it was just that he didn’t like the fact that he had to lie about it to his friend.
“I know that, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Unless… no, never mind.”
“Unless what? Come on, you were about to ask me something, don’t try to act as if you don’t think I would do it for you.”
“I know you would try to help me, but…” As Washington trailed off, Kevin had the feeling he was close to having the other admit his Immortality. When he continued however, that short hope was cruelly dashed. “No, there’s nothing you could do, and while I feel grateful for your offer of support I just can’t accept it. Now, don’t you have work you need to get to?”
And that way Kevin was summarily sent away, without having learned anything about the contents of the phone call, but with the knowledge that it had an even greater impact on his assignment than he’d first believed. What could it possibly be?
* * *
Now it was almost a week later and he had finally received his answer. Not completely of course, but at least he now knew who it was all about.
After leaving Washington’s house he had kept up his research and had tried to come up with various reasons that would have his assignment so upset. There wasn’t much that had helped him, but when Washington had suddenly started making traveling plans he had hoped for his breakthrough. California was the state where the target of his friend’s ire could be found.
Five minutes after he’d heard about the plane ticket he was pouring through the Watcher’s database in an attempt to discover which Immortal might be the one. It was difficult work; but after discarding all those that couldn’t possibly be the reason, mostly a question of age, he had been left with a handful of possibilities. And he’d felt pretty certain that, unless Washington was going headhunting after all, one of these would be the reason for the call.
He had studied each one in detail, and after finding out in more detail where they would be going the list became even shorter. By the time he had followed Washington from the plane he had been certain who it was going to be. Or at least until his assignment suddenly took a completely different direction after leaving Los Angeles, and eventually ended up in some little town he’d never heard of before.
It hadn’t made any sense at all, and Kevin had been flabbergasted. There were no Immortals in this place, in fact as far as he knew there was nothing of interest at all. The only thing that could possibly be of any interest to outsiders was the local college, and he wasn’t even sure about that. But nonetheless this was where Washington had gone, and the Immortal had known exactly where he was going.
The first visit had been the local high school. Maybe he had misinterpreted the signs and this was all because of a job offer? No, the way Washington had avoided talking about what was going on was proof enough that something more than a new job was at stake here. But despite that, the Immortal kept staring at the empty building for over fifteen minutes, before finally going to look for a motel.
The next day Kevin had once again followed Washington to the high school, but this time while school was still in session. Like before he didn’t enter the school, but instead spent time exploring the parking lot. Not that that took a long time, as within minutes he had been standing in front of a convertible with a custom name tag, saying ‘QUEEN C’. Probably some rich girl was his reaction, but Washington appeared to see it as the thing he had been looking for because he turned around and walked away from the school.
Next had come a walk through what was probably a rich neighborhood—the only reason he wasn’t sure was that most houses in the town looked to be owned by the wealthy—until a house had been spotted. It was a big house and looked nice, but he figured that the only reason the Immortal had stopped in front of it was the note he was holding. A note that most likely contained that very address, at least that’s what Kevin thought as he couldn’t think of anything else that might make Washington stop there.
After the immortal had found the house they once again walked—well, Washington walked while Kevin stalked him—to the school. Not in a direct line, and it looked more like an attempt to scout enemy territory than a normal walk, but in the end the Immortal had appeared satisfied and had proceeded to do something Kevin had never expected to see. He’d actually hired a gang of sorts for a job.
He hadn’t found out what the job was, as Washington had ensconced himself in an alley. And intent on following his Immortal, Kevin had walked around until he could sneak into the other end of the alley and hide behind a dumpster. But now he realized that the job probably had to do with the girl who had just called his friend a slave. Repressing his own feelings of uncertainty—neither of them appeared to have felt the buzz!—he listened carefully to the conversation.
“I didn’t expect to see you here.”
Washington sneered at the girl before replying. “So I see. But the time for hiding is over. There can be only one.”
“Oh come on. Don’t be ridiculous, why would you want to challenge me? Have I ever treated you badly?”
“You…” Kevin looked as his assignment simply stood there, so surprised he didn’t know what to say. “You kept me as a slave!”
“So?” No matter how strange it seemed, he had a feeling that the girl—no, Immortal—really didn’t understand what was so bad about slavery.
“So? So?” Washington shouted, clearly angered by the lack of any guilt.
“Yeah. So? It’s not like I was the only one who kept slaves, it was a perfectly legal thing and I never mistreated any of you.”
“You kept us locked up, forced us to work for you and you dare to say that you never mistreated us?”
“Yes,” the woman answered, not bothered at all by the violent outburst.
Apparently Washington seemed to recognize that too, as he visibly tried to reign in his anger. “Fine, I doubt I’ll be able to convince you of anything else, but like I said. There can be only one.”
“I don’t want to fight you.”
“Ah, but I do so want to fight you.”
For the first time Kevin noticed a sign of hesitation in the beautiful woman’s posture as she tried to get out of fighting. It was obvious that whatever she had done in the past wasn’t enough to have turned her into a bloodthirsty fighter. And he had to admit that her next action almost made him laugh, as she waved her hand and told Washington. “You don’t want to fight me.”
Clearly her opponent had recognized the action as well as he once again stood there gaping in surprise. “You? You tried to do a Jedi mind-trick on me? In what kind of delusional world do you live?”
“See? That’s why you don’t want to fight me. In case you happen to win you would wind up with my mind in your head. That’s far too dangerous, so you’d better reconsider your challenge.”
“No. We will fight.”
The woman heaved a heavy sigh before finally admitting defeat. “Fine, you win. How about tonight, eight o’clock, at the docks?”
“No, here and now.”
“I don’t think so. Tonight would be a far better option.”
But Washington shook his head and Kevin already had an idea of what he was about to say. “No, tonight would give you far too much time to run away. We will fight now.”
“You doubt my word? I’m a Lady of standing, how dare you question my word!” This time it was the woman who was agitated, desperately so in fact.
“I dare because I know you. There is no doubt in my mind that you’d run away like the coward you are.”
“Coward! I can’t believe this! Is that the gratitude I get for letting you live?”
“Letting me live? You were too afraid to face me even when I didn’t know what either of us was.” Washington immediately understood he’d let himself be distracted however and brought the conversation back to where he wanted it. “But I’ll give you two choices. Either fight me now, or I’ll shoot you and take your head without a fight.”
“And you question my honor?” The woman—what was her name again? Oh yeah, Cecilia—immediately jumped on the perceived slight. It was obvious to Kevin that she rather fought her battles with her tongue than her sword. “Besides, I’m wounded. You wouldn’t want to fight an injured woman, would you?”
“Hah, you might be able to somehow hide your quickening, but I don’t doubt that you still heal as fast as any other Immortal.”
“I’m unarmed.” Well, she sure didn’t seem to want to fight now, did she? But once again Washington didn’t seem to care and just assumed it was a lie.
“I repeat. You can walk into this alley out of your own volition, or I’ll shoot you and drag you in here myself.”
“Someone would hear the shot.”
“There was this invention called a silencer, perhaps you missed it?” Washington said while raising his eyebrows in a mocking gesture, while Kevin was desperately trying to figure out where and when Washington had retrieved a gun. Or was it a mere bluff? Not that it mattered, as the words had their intended effect.
“Fine,” Cecilia bit out, knowing that she wasn’t about to get out of this fight. “Let’s do this then.”
Having said those words the young-looking woman entered the alley, visibly gearing herself up for the coming fight. Washington had already thrown his coat aside and was now holding his bastard sword in a two-handed grip. And while the two of them went through their own rituals of preparation Kevin felt his pulse reach a new top speed.
He was actually going to see a fight to the death. He was going to be witness to a quickening. He was going to see a murder take place, and would then help in covering it up from the police. Quietly shifting around behind the dumpster that hid him from the two combatants he wondered where the woman’s Watcher was. At least, that was on his mind until he and his assignment both were surprised by Cecilia’s action.
“You’re going to fight with a switchblade?”
“Duh, I took it from one of those fools who desecrated my car. What part of unarmed didn’t you understand?”
“I didn’t expect that for once you’d actually be telling the truth, but no matter. You should have known better than to walk around without a sword.”
The other huffed at that. “Right, they might be blind in this town, but I think that if I started carrying a sword to school it would get noticed anyway.” Any other comments that she might have wanted to make had to wait however as Washington attacked.
Watching the woman duck under the first swing before backing up made Kevin feel sorry for her. He didn’t doubt that she hadn’t been an angel in the past, but it was obvious to him that she’d thrown over a new leaf and had turned her back on the Game. Now she was dragged back into it however, and not in the most gentle of ways either. Washington was toying with her, knowing he was in no danger allowed him to take chances in order to hurt her, something he was obviously succeeding in.
From the bloody patch on her shirt it seemed obvious that she hadn’t lied about being wounded either, but compared to the wounds she was receiving now that had been only the beginning. Kevin winced as the game of cat and mouse continued with yet another shallow cut on the woman’s arm, causing her to stumble into the wall.
“How about we call this one a draw?” she rasped in a voice filled with agony while supporting herself with one hand against the wall.
“Not a chance,” was the reply causing her to nod in resignation. By now she was starting to show the desperation she had probably been feeling ever since Washington had called her by name.
“You’ve,” she coughed up a bit of blood before starting over. “You’ve got your payback. Why don’t you let me live in the knowledge that I’ve been beaten by someone I once called slave. Don’t you think that’s bad enough?”
“I want you dead. I don’t care about hurting you.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
Washington ignored that last mutter and stepped forward to continue his onslaught, but this time the woman didn’t simply duck under the sword. Instead she took a forward dive, planted the switchblade in Washington’s thigh, and rolling into a crouch she suddenly held a second knife in her hands. No, Kevin’s knowledge of bladed weapons corrected him, that was a dagger, not a mere knife. No matter what it was however, she used it in an attempt to slash her opponent’s hamstrings.
An attempt that failed miserably as Washington had already started turning around and swinging his sword wildly he connected the flat of his blade with her extended arm, jarring it hard enough to make her lose her hold on the dagger. “Lying bitch!”
As she stood up again, Kevin could see that, despite the fear the woman had felt before, she was now back in control of herself. While obviously still bothered by her wounds—that weren’t healing like those of her opponent—she calmly stopped cradling her arm and, dusting herself off, she stared defiantly at the man. “Don’t act all sanctimonious on me, slave. You’re the one who didn’t care whether I was wounded or not. In fact if-”
But she didn’t get the chance to finish her sentence as Washington grabbed her hair and yanked her closer, burying his sword in her stomach in the same movement. “I don’t feel like listening to any more of your lame excuses. I’ve let you live long enough.”
Cecilia only stared at him, and while Kevin couldn’t see her face from where he was crouching, he imagined she had a defiant look on it. At least, that’s the way he planned on writing it down. He couldn’t be certain she actually had an expression like that, or if all that showed on her face was the pain she had to feel as her opponent twisted the sword in her belly.
But if he was to simply stand there and watch someone, who he used to call friend, brutally murder this beautiful woman then the least he could do was make his fellow Watchers believe that she had been defiant until the end. Once he’d done that he’d either quit or at the least ask for a reassignment, there was no way in hell that he’d be able to look into Washington’s eyes now and think of him as a nice guy.
As Washington stepped back, and pulled his sword out of the woman’s body, Cecilia fell to her knees but raised her head out of defiance. A perfect position for a beheading. Something the male Immortal agreed on as he raised his sword for the final stroke and spoke the words that prevented Kevin from interfering. “There can be only-”
The expected ‘one’ didn’t come however and Kevin turned his averted eyes back to where the man was standing. Only to see him drop down as well. What? The sound of hurrying feet then drew his attention to the other end of the alley, where he saw a young girl come running towards the two fallen Immortals. Had that girl just? But how? Now that he knew what to look for he peered at the body, never once moving from his position so that he’d remain hidden from the girl.
There were a couple of small things sticking out from Washington’s body, things that might be the hefts of throwing knives. But how could a little girl do that from such a distance? Scratch that question. How could a little girl do that, period? More important were other questions though; why did she do it? And did she really know what she’d just done?
But from the girl’s behavior it soon became obvious that she didn’t have any idea about the Immortality of the woman. A hoarse question came from the little girl, who seemed to have realized the other’s situation rather quickly. “Cordy?”
Cordy? Was that the name the woman was using here? It probably was short for something. Cecilia, Cordelia? The names had a number of similarities but were further apart than the ones some other Immortals used. But that didn’t matter now, Kevin thought while trying to figure out how much the little girl knew.
The tears that streamed down her face at the moment Cecilia—no, Cordelia—died, once more proved that she really didn’t know the woman would get up again. The mourning only lasted a minute though, before almost mechanically she stood up again and started cleaning up the scene. The first thing she did was to take the throwing knives, clean them, and put them back in the sleeves of her jacket.
After that she went through the pockets of the Immortal she’d just killed, but not finding anything she stepped away from the corpse to look at the weapons. It also meant he’d been right about the gun being a bluff. The sword received a cursory examination, as did the knife and dagger, but they were all artifacts that the girl was clearly puzzled by. Now that was something Kevin could understand. He doubted Cecilia had ever shown anyone that she owned a dagger like that. Combined with Washington’s sword and the switchblade, that made for a strange scene.
He frowned at that thought; why was the dagger more likely than the switchblade? He shrugged the question off, it was just something that fit the woman better, he didn’t know what kind of dagger it was but it seemed a lot classier than a switchblade could possibly be. After examining the weapons, never once touching them, the girl turned to the coat, which she was now going through the pockets of.
A movement brought Kevin’s attention back to Washington’s body. The Immortal had returned to life and was now doing his best to keep that fact from the girl. Something he was succeeding in, as she hadn’t stopped rifling through the pockets even though he was reaching for his opponent’s dagger.
But when she was done with that she walked back to the corpse of the woman and, with her back to Washington, knelt down beside her before starting wailing again. If this was how she was going to alert the police she couldn’t possibly have blood in her veins; anything warmer than ice water would have prevented her from acting that cold.
Despite the way she acted though, she was still only a little girl and behind her there was a man who probably wanted to do her harm. Should he warn her, or not? His oath as a Watcher told him not to, but his conscience as a human being told him to do it. But how had she been able to kill Washington in the first place?
Like all Watchers, Kevin had read the stories about child Immortals, ancient beings trapped in the body of a young boy or girl. Most often they were the cruelest of all the Immortals, and what if this was one of them? Should he really help someone like Kenny? But no, she didn’t even know about Immortals, so why was he even thinking about this? He had to warn her.
A sudden scream from the girl proved that his hesitation had been costly. With his heart in his throat he watched as she arched her back from the sudden pain caused by the dagger slashing across her back. It could have been worse though, as it looked like Washington had been aiming for her neck
Kevin wasn’t quite sure how the girl had spotted the attempt though, but she had and twisting out of the way had limited the damage. And as she then immediately ignored the pain, dove forward over Cecilia’s body, and went into a roll that turned her around to face a surprised Washington, the situation was turned around.
In a smooth movement she reached behind her back and pulled out a small gun from which she fired a single bullet. The sound of the gun discharging rang through the alley, and Kevin could see the Immortal crashing to the ground again. This time with a hole in his head.
Shit. Whatever happened, there was no way he was going to show himself to that little girl. No sirree, not him, unh-unh. There was no doubt in his mind that she’d try to kill him if he did. The problem remained however that he really had to get out of the alley before the cops arrived, and he couldn’t do that without being spotted if the girl was still there.
And she didn’t exactly seem to be in a hurry to leave. Didn’t she realize that someone must have called the cops after that gunshot? The police had to be on their way, yet she didn’t seem bothered by that possibility.
In fact after she had moved everything that even looked like a weapon away from Washington, the girl took her time screwing a silencer on her gun and inspecting her wound. Okay, inspecting her wound was a rather big word for what she did, but the fact was that five minutes after she’d fired the shot she was still in the alley.
Ten minutes passed and Kevin broke out in a sweat, he couldn’t be caught here. Hell, this entire situation wasn’t allowed to happen. And why wasn’t Cecilia, Cordelia, whatever, healing? She should have woken up by now, shouldn’t she? Different Immortals had different recuperation times, but it really was time that she woke up and explained things to her friend. Then they could leave and let him do the same without getting caught by the police.
Fifteen minutes, and still no sign that the girl was about to move away from her position. She seemed to be waiting for Washington to revive again, something she took far too calmly. Nobody reacted that calmly to seeing the dead walk for the first time, so she had to know about Immortals, didn’t she?
In an effort to calm himself, he started biting his nails when after twenty minutes the girl still hadn’t made a move. She was still staring at the body of Washington, holding the gun in a relaxed grip, and constantly on guard. No, it was still impossible for him to get away without her noticing it, and while she might let him live he didn’t want to bet his life on her kindness.
Another five minutes later he accidentally bit his own lip from frustration, but the pain only reminded him again of the trouble he was in if someone discovered him in this situation. Why wouldn’t the damn girl leave? Swallowing the coppery tasting blood in his mouth he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the disaster that was going to happen.
After half an hour there still was no sign of the police, and Kevin started to come to the conclusion that, aside from costing him a couple of years, his worrying had been for nothing. It was at that point that Washington came back to life as well. He didn’t notice it immediately, because the man had the presence of mind to stay as still as he could, but the girl couldn’t be fooled.
“I can see you breathing. Get up.” As Washington did as she told him, recognizing that she could just as easily kill him again, she appeared to study him. For a moment her eyes strayed to his forehead where the blood was the only thing that remained of the wound that had killed him. “What are you?”
“What do you mean?”
“The sun is still out, so you’re not a vampire. And you don’t look like any demon I’ve ever heard of. What are you?” This time it was clearly a command, but Washington showed his stubborn streak and didn’t answer. Not even when the first bullet shattered his left knee.
“Fuck off,” he finally said, while trying to support his weight on only one knee.
“You shouldn’t use that kind of language in front of children.” A second shot took care of the other knee and he crashed to the ground still looking defiantly, but with a lot of fear in his eyes as well. “Let’s try another question. How do I kill you?”
While obviously struggling to keep himself from screaming, Washington couldn’t stop himself from glancing at the girl’s neck, giving away his secret.
“Decapitation. Should’ve realized that myself,” the girl said in the emotionless voice she’d been conducting the entire interview, before once again putting a bullet in the Immortal’s head.
When she then walked over to the sword, Kevin could see her wince as she accidentally pulled the wound on her back. And that was without swinging a sword in order to decapitate someone. Should he try to get away during the resulting quickening? No, while it might be the only time he could get away without being noticed, he couldn’t simply walk away from the moment that his assignment lost his head, and to a mortal that didn’t know anything about Immortals at that.
The feeling of lightning bolts striking her body woke Cordelia from her deceased state, and while screaming out in pain she tried to figure out what was happening. Realization hit her at the same time another burst of quickening did. But how? Unfortunately being pounded by the life and strength of another Immortal didn’t do your cognitive processes a world of good and she couldn’t come up with a reason for her receiving the quickening.
Fuzzy though her mind was, she did realize that the hiding spell was no longer active. The witch she had paid for that particular bit of magic had warned her that receiving a quickening would end it. Something to do with how her quickening would be altered by an event like this. But that still didn’t tell her why she wasn’t the one being decapitated.
The last thing she remembered was that the former slave had been about to take her head. No, between two strikes she suddenly remembered something. There had been someone else; someone had been holding her while she died. Someone who called her Cordy, but who?
And just as suddenly as it had started the quickening was over and, attempting to regain her breath while resting on all fours, she waited for her strength to return before even trying to stand up. Survival instincts suddenly came forward however and she raised her head to get a good look around, only to be confronted with a ridiculous sight.
“Dawn? Why are you holding a sword?” The girl just stood there in shock, alternately looking from the corpse at her feet to her. Wait a minute, had Dawn taken the slave’s head? Since when was she capable of something like that?
“You possessed her.” What? What was she talking about? “You’re like Eyghon, only with better special effects.”
No! She couldn’t really think that, could she? But as Dawn walked over to her, Cordelia realized that the girl was actually thinking that. Dawn really believed that she had been possessed, instead of only having received a quickening. It might be a realistic assumption, but that didn’t make her feel any better about having someone she liked try to cut of her head.
She had to do something, and quick. Dawn was already standing next to her and holding the sword above her head, in an attempt to bring it down. Once that downswing started the young girl couldn’t possibly halt it. “Dawn, it’s me!” But it wasn’t enough. Whether it was too late, or if Dawn simply ignored the words, didn’t matter as the sword came down to cut off her head.
Post-fic comments: This story consists of seven chapters in total which will be posted on a weekly basis.