Don’t Lose Your HeadNot-the-Author’s Note: I didn’t write this. My brother did. He sent it off to me for shits and giggles, and it’s just too good to sit in my inbox, read only by me and a couple of friends. So, I got his permission to publish it here. All feedback is welcome.
Disclaimer: Neither I nor my brother own anything related to
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer or
Highlander. If we did, poor Joss and the writers of Highlander wouldn’t know what hit them.
Duncan McLeod wanted nothing more than to live a peaceful life. He did not seek out conflict for glory or serve any cause other than protecting himself and his friends. But Duncan McLeod of the Clan McLeod wan an immortal. And immortals either led very violent lives or very short lives.
Duncan had sensed the other immortal a week ago. Somewhere at the fringes of his senses, he felt the buzz that signaled the presence of another immortal in the area. Duncan had glanced around his surroundings, but did not spot anyone. This meant only a few possibilities.
Duncan then headed for the closest holy ground, a church two blocks from his home. Holy ground was the only place that immortals would not fight on. Duncan had hoped this would be seen as a gesture of peace and the other immortal would appear and talk to him. But the buzz lingered for a few minutes, then disappeared as the unknown immortal departed the area. That meant only one thing. Duncan McLeod was being hunted.
In the week since he first sensed the other immortal, Duncan McLeod felt his presence three other times. Each time, his stalker remained unseen. On this day, Duncan walked down the harbor area of Seacouver when he again felt the familiar buzz.
Time to end this, Duncan thought as he slipped into a nearby alley. The alley was dark and deserted. Duncan knew it would be private enough for the battle he knew was coming. Duncan glanced down the alley way. The alley ended overlooking the harbor. It was a perfect place to dispose of his foe once the battle ended. Duncan patted the side of his overcoat, feeling the weight of his Katana. The blade had served him well over the centuries against countless enemies. Today, it would take the head of one more foe. Duncan idly wondered how many more heads would fall to his blade before he either lost his own or all other immortals were dead. For in the end, there can be only -
Duncan spun to face the speaker. He cursed himself for allowing his foe to startle him.
“I was hoping you could help me.”
Duncan reached for his katana, then stopped. The young man before him stood unarmed. Duncan glanced around and realized that he still felt the buzz of an unseen immortal. The buzz would normally disappear once the spotted nearby immortal, but he still felt the warning sense of one lurking about.
“I was driving around trying to find 15th Street and I figured who better to ask than a guy with an 80’s style ponytail, wearing a heavy overcoat in August, and lurking in a dark alley.”
Duncan warily watched the young man. Although he wasn’t an immortal, he had a strange manner about him. He’s wearing an eye patch. It’s the twenty-first century. Who still wears an eye patch?
Duncan glanced around, eager to be rid of the young man.
“Go north down the street two blocks, and take a left. Four blocks later, you’ll hit 15th.”
The young man had slowly circled around Duncan, when he halted.
“Just so you know, the eighties called and…”
The young man’s gaze went past Duncan. Duncan glanced behind him and only saw a few empty boxes and a broken mirror beside the wall.
“Yeah….Okay, the... sorry to disturb you.”
The young man muttered his thanks as he walked out of the alley. The man seemed almost ashamed or embarrassed. Once the man exited the alley, Duncan pulled out his Katana and slowly looked around. The buzz was stronger now. He could sense his opponent was very close. Duncan slowed, soaking in the sounds and smells of his surroundings. He was a trained warrior about to battle. His senses took in everything. Let his opponent sneak in the shadows, Duncan McLeod would face him without fear. None could ambush him. Nothing could surprise -
“Sorry, but north is which direction again?”
Duncan turned and saw the young man had returned. Switching mental gears, he snapped, “It’s a one way street. North is the only....” Duncan glanced then, pulled his Katana down and behind him. “North is the only direction you can drive.”
The young man stared at him.
After a pause the young man spoke.
“Is that a sword?”
“No.” Duncan muttered.
“It looks like a sword.”
LEAVE! LEAVE NOW! STOP DISTRACTING ME!”
“No. It’s… a cell phone. New model… latest style...” Duncan trailed, hoping that would end the conversation.
“A cell phone.”
“Shaped like a sword.”
“Cause that’s the latest style.”
“Yes!” Duncan barked.
“Okay, then. So North is just following the flow of traffic on the street.”
“Good to know. Cause if it was against traffic…well the directions wouldn’t be much use.”
“Kay, then. Thanks again.”
The young man slowly turned and walked out of the alley.
“You’re welcome.” Duncan watched him leave and counted to five, hoping he wouldn’t return.
Now that he’s gone I can concentrate on-
The pistol round hit Duncan in the shoulder, spinning him around.
“So the great Duncan McLeod, finally brought down because he was too distracted giving driving directions. And I thought this might actually be difficult.”
Duncan raised his Katana as he took in his attacker. The immortal stood to be a daunting 6 foot 6. He held a Desert Eagle pistol in each hand and had a battleaxe strapped to his back.
He was using guns! This man had no honor.
Duncan staggered towards his attacker, raising his Katana with his still functioning arm.
The bullet hit Duncan in the stomach. Duncan stumbled but pressed on. He changed his course away from the attacker to the end of the alley towards the harbor.
The next round slammed into Duncan shoulder, causing him to drop his Katana. Duncan sped up and closed the distance to the harbor.
The two rounds impacted in Duncan’s back knocking him forward into the water. As he fell, it seemed to Duncan that time stretched out. In the background Duncan faintly heard a voice.
“When I turn is that my left or your left?”
As Xander Harris drove down the street, he came to one inescapable conclusion. He was lost. This in and of itself was not alarming. Xander Harris had been lost in much more dire places than the Pacific Northwest of the US. He had been lost in the African Bush at night with a pack of vampires tracking him. He had been lost in London while tracking a group of Chaos worshippers on a pub crawl. He had been lost in the mall parking lot after a five hour shopping trip with Anya, while he was carrying all her bags.
But this was so much worse.
Xander Harris was actually considering stopping and asking for directions.
Jeez, what is up with these streets? I just passed 12th two blocks ago. So this upcoming street must be… 18th!!!! What the f- Oooh, cute coeds.
“Excuse me,” Xander asked after rolling down the window. “I was hoping if you could… ignore me and walk away.”
The girl he addressed turned and walked into the storefront Xander had stopped in front of.
Xander continued talking. “It’s the eye patch, isn’t it? You’re so overcome with passion, that you can’t trust yourself. You’re afraid that if you even make eye contact with me, you’ll strip off your clothes and throw yourself at me. I wish I could say your fears are unfounded, but we both know that would be a lie. Can’t say this is the first time my roguish good looks have overpowered an otherwise sane and rational woman. It’s my gift… and my curse.”
A homeless man had stopped and watched as Xander spoke to the now absent girl. Xander turned as he noticed the man.
“Hey, how ya doing?”
Xander sighed as he killed the ignition on his car. He gazed across the street.
Why couldn’t Giles have sent Andrew? I haven’t even been back from Africa a week when he sent me on this errand.
In the back of his head, Xander knew that Giles did not trust Andrew on any mission unless he was closely supervised.
I should feel flattered. Giles actually trusts me enough to give me real assignments. No fluff duties in Rio or Rome. But I deserve a vacation. Once I pick up this book, I am definitely taking some time off. And I’ll be sure that the new Watcher’s Council will pay for it.
Xander watched as the few pedestrians walked along the sidewalk, subtly keeping their distance from him.
I can feel the love. I just need someone to tell me how to get to this bar. Let’s see… married couple avoiding eye contact. Kids… running down the sidewalk too fast. Guy in dark alley… lurking about suspiciously.
Xander looked up. The man across the street kept glancing around. Let’s see. Hanging around out of direct sunlight? Check. Looking around for someone, possibly a helpless victim alone? Check. Situated where they have easy access to people, but can disappear out of sight? Check. Dated hair and clothing? Double check. Jeez. The eighties called, they want their hairstyle back. Hey that’s not bad. Maybe I can work it into a quip when I take him out.
Xander got out of the car and walked across the street towards the alley. He reached behind him to stash one of his stakes in the waist of his jeans.
All right. Let’s do this.
Xander smiled as the man spun around in surprise.
“I was wondering if you could help me.”
Well that was embarrassing.
Xander grimaced as he walked out of the alley.
The guy had a reflection. You’d think non vampires would have the decency to not act suspiciously to avoid confusion.
Xander reached his car and searched for his keys.
At least I got directions. I just have to head…
Which way is north? Dammit! I left my compass back in Africa. Wait a minute. The sunsets in the east so…is that right? Think. Okay, Japan is the land of the rising sun, and it’s to the west. So the sun rises in the west. That would make it… completely useless since sunrise was twelve hours ago.
Xander turned and walked back to the alley.
Now that was just weird. Xander glanced back to the alley way as he headed towards the car. But I know which way to go. Is that thunder? Great. I didn’t even think to bring an umbrella.
Xander got in his car and put the keys in the ignition. Just go down and tur- wait a sec. He was opposite me so the directions would be reversed. So it would be a mirror image. That means I have to turn… Man, that’s a lot of thunder. And not a cloud in the sky. So I would turn…
Xander sighed once more, took the keys out of the ignition, and got out of the car. He turned once again to the alley way.
“When I turn is that my left or your left? Cause at the light- Did you just shoot that guy?”
Duncan’s would-be assassin turned to face Xander.
I knew there was something weird going on. And this guy is probably evil… Or the other guy was…. I think.
The immortal smiled as he saw Xander.
“McLeod’s head may have escaped me, but I will slake my thirst for blood with yours in the meantime.”
Yup. He’s evil.
Xander slowly backed away, one hand reaching behind him towards the waist of his jeans.
“Hey, maybe we can work something out. How about a toe instead?”
The immortal’s grin never wavered as he dropped his guns and pulled the battleaxe of his back.
“It’s okay if you scream. I like it when they scream.”
Xander clutched the stake behind his back. “And I enjoy screaming in terror when being attacked. It’s nice that we can work things out to everyone’s satisfaction.”
The immortal walked towards Xander and heaved his axe in the air preparing to strike. Xander lunged, driving the stake into the immortals heart. The immortal paused, looked down at the stake imbedded in his chest, and dropped his raised axe.
“You didn’t tell me you had a weapon. That’s not fa-”
The immortal fell to the ground. Xander watched.
Okay. I would feel a lot better if this guy crumbled to dust.
The body of his assailant lied still on the ground.
Or he could dissolve into a green goo.
The body remained stubbornly corporeal.
“Right. Well, if horror movies have taught me nothing else, it’s to gather the dropped weapons after the killer is seemingly, yet probably not, dead.”
Xander kicked the battleaxe away from the body. He backed up a few steps and picked up the two pistols his attacker had dropped.
“Please don’t be human. I know you’re evil and stuff, but I don’t think I could handle having killed an actual human. C’mon. Be a demon in disguise. It would-”
The immortal sat up and screamed.
“YES! Not human!” Xander pumped his fist in the air in relief. He looked back down at the body. “I’m guessing you’re not down for the count yet.”
“And then I shot him. He’s back down, but I was wondering if you could clue me in on what he is and how to get rid of him.”
Xander glanced down the alley way. He had quickly moved his car to block the alley way, but as he moved it he noted the flow of pedestrians had almost dried up as soon as the sun began to set.
Xander turned his attention back to the phone.
“I told you, Giles, the guy looks human. No horns or claws or other visible demonic features.”
Xander paused as he listened to Giles.
“Eww! I’m not searching his body. Guy looks like he hasn’t had a bath in a week…
“Okay, he had two pistols, a battleaxe, and I found a sword near the end of the alley, Japanese design I think…
“Yes, I’m sure of the design. I watched a bunch of Chow Yun Fat movies last week and it definitely looks like one of those swords…
“Look, I just need to know how to get rid of this guy. I’ve shot him four -”
“AAHH! WHO DARES TO -”
“Five times, plus a stake to the heart, and he keeps popping up. This is getting annoying…
“No, I haven’t found your guy yet. I’ve been a bit busy being attacked. Oh, and by the way, next time I’m getting a rental with OnStar. It is not a luxury…
“Well you would sound snippy too, if you had spent the day cramped on a plane, driving an hour from Seattle to Seacouver, then the bookstore you sent me to isn’t even open anymore. I try tracking down the owner, but whoever laid out the streets in this town must have been on crack. Plus the little matter of… Hold on.
“Hey, I can see you breathing... You’re not fooling me… Fine.”
“And all I have to show for it are a battleaxe, a sword, and two pistols with rapidly depleting ammo…”
“Really? That much for a sword? Okay then. Once I get this book, I’ll mail it and the weapons off to you. But I expect a cut of the sale…
“All right then. Call me back if you get any more info. In the meantime, I’ll follow rule six. When in doubt, hack the shit out of it.”
Xander closed his cell phone and picked up the battleaxe.
“You’re lucky I have a change of clothes in my bag.”
Xander swung the axe and cleanly severed the head of his assailant. He hefted the axe again, then paused as he noted the swirling mist pooling around the body. Small lightening bolts crackled around body. Xander backed up watching the scene. Huge bolts arced from the body into the harbor water below, then disappeared.
“Hoookay, then. I’m guessing you’re through then.”
He whistled happily as he dumped the body, then his bloody clothes into the harbor.
Duncan McLeod stumbled into Joe’s Bar soaking wet.
“Jesus, Mac! What happened?”
Duncan looked up and saw his friend Joe Dawson coming from around the bar.
“I have been having the worst day.”
“You look it. You want to clue me in?” Joe asked.
Duncan dropped into the nearest chair.
“I was ambushed. Taken completely by surprise.”
“You? That’s rare. Who was it?”
“Never got a name. He was huge though. Six and a half feet easy. Dressed like a biker with a Grizzly Adams beard. The worst part is he carried guns.”
Joe sucked in his breath. “Kalkoth. I didn’t know he was in the area. From what I’ve heard, he likes to stalk other immortals, then shoot them up before going in for the kill. He’s killed a lot of people. Good ones. I’m glad to see you made it through. Is he still around?”
Duncan paused, then shook his head. “No. I got his Quickening. And I saw a few things in it I could really have done without.”
Joe sat back in relief. “So how did you take him out? Everything I’ve read told me that he’s pretty tough.”
Joe looked up in surprise.
“I was down by the harbor, when he shot me up. Right before I died, I made sure to fall into the water.”
Joe nodded. “Makes sense. Keep away from him until you revive.”
“My coat dragged me down. When I revived I had gotten tangled up in some lines and couldn’t get free before I drowned.”
Duncan glowered at the smile that was starting to form on Joe’s face.
Duncan continued. “When I revived again, I was able to break free, but I lost my coat and shoes. I was just at the surface when Kaltech’s-”
“Kalkoth.” Joe corrected.
“His Quickening hit me. That shocked me and I… drowned again.”
Joe let out a bark of laughter as the front door to the bar opened and a customer came in.
“Well, I’m glad you find this amusing. I went back to the alley he ambushed me in and there was no sign of him… or my sword.”
Joe looked up. “Sorry, Mac. You got another sword handy?”
“Yes, but that was my favorite. And the really frustrating part is that there’s someone out there that took out this Kalgon-”
“Whatever, and I have no clue who.”
Joe stopped to think. Behind him he heard the new customer order a drink.
“You said you received the Quickening though.”
Duncan nodded. “So whoever killed Kalgary-”
“Must have been a normal mortal. Joe. You’d let me know if you heard about any Hunters in the area.”
Joe’s face paled. “Jesus, Mac. They were wiped out when Horton died. All of his followers are gone.”
Duncan looked down. “That’s what I thought. I’m afraid we’ll never really know what happened-”
“Hey weren’t you shot?
“And your directions sucked by the way. It was four blocks over and then two blocks up. Not two blocks up then four blocks over.”
Duncan stared at the young man before him.
“So I’m thinking that if you’re shot, yet walking around, you must be the same as the evil biker demon from the alley.”
Realization hit Duncan. “You’re the one who took his head!”
“That’s right. Xander Harris, semi-professional demon hunter with the Watcher’s Council.”
Duncan stepped back. “So you’re a Hunter then?”
“Four blocks over then two blocks up is the same as two blocks up then four blocks over.” Joe interrupted.
“I’m not a Hunter. And they’re called Slayers anyway. I’m just a Watcher.” Xander turned to Joe. “It’s not the same if they’re one way streets.”
“No, they’re called Hunters. And you’re not a Watcher, you don’t have a tattoo.”
“I think I know what a Slayer is called. And the new Council doesn’t have tattoos.” Xander replied.
“But one way streets alternate direction. So if it’s an even number of blocks, you can take either way.” Joe added.
“What new Council? Joe has been a Watcher for over twenty years, and it may go through changes, but it’s still the same organization. And members that hunt Immortals are called Hunters. Because they hunt. Get it?” Duncan nearly screamed.
Xander looked at Duncan in confusion. “What are you talking about? Slayers slay vampires. Which is why they’re called Slayers. Anyway, you’re probably just lying to me.”
“Why would I lie to you?” Duncan asked.
“Isn’t there construction two blocks up from here?
So you’d have to go up then over.”
“Cause you’re a demon. And demons tend to lie. Cause… they’re demons. Except for the nice ones. But demons that randomly attack people in alley ways are not nice. So you lied. Q. E. D.”
This time Duncan looked at Xander in confusion.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I’m not quite sure anymore! All I want to know is where’s Joe Dawson?” Xander yelled.
Duncan glanced to Joe. “Sitting right beside you.”
Xander glanced down to Joe. “Oh, hey man. Good to meet you. Been looking for you everywhere. I’m Xander Harris.”
“So really the best way would be to drive up six blocks, over two, park in the shopping center parking, then walk the two blocks down.” Joe said.
Xander looked at Joe. “What?”
“Okay, just so I’m clear. You,” pointing to Duncan, “are an immortal. Immortals can be good or bad. They fight each other for their…”
“Quickening.” supplied Duncan.
“The guy in the alley that shot you and attacked me was a bad guy. You,” pointing to Joe, “are part of a group called the Watchers, that has nothing to do with vampire Slayers.”
“Vampire Slayers?” Joe muttered.
“They instead chronicle the lives of these immortals, and if a Watcher goes rogue and starts killing immortals, they’re called Hunters.”
“Right.” Joe and Duncan said.
“Okay. Glad we got that cleared up. Now that I know that I realize none of that has anything to do with why I’m looking for you.” Xander said.
“Okay, why are you looking for me?” Joe asked.
“Rupert Giles sent me. Did you use to run a rare bookshop?”
“Good. I am trying to track down a copy of the Necrotelenomicon. A copy wound up in your bookstore around 1990 and as far as I know never left.”
“I sold my bookstore a few years back. Along with all the stock. It was taken over by William and Hutchins.” Joe informed Xander.
“Phone book of the dead?” Duncan muttered.
“But Giles checked with that company, they never had a copy.” Xander said.
Joe thought about this. “Was this book dealing with the occult?”
“I sold a portion of my stock to a private buyer. It was my rarest occult and supernatural related books. I figured the guy was just a kook.”
Xander sighed. “You wouldn’t happen to remember who you sold them to, would you?”
“Let me check my office. I keep records of all the customers I ship stuff to.”
Joe got up and walked to his office. Duncan and Xander sat across from each other in awkward silence.
Duncan finally broke it. “So you actually killed Kal…amari?”
“Is that his name? Yeah I did. He dangerous?”
“Unbelievably. He actually uses guns in fighting other immortals.”
“But guns don’t kill you guys. Permanently, I mean.”
Duncan shook his head. “No, but they can knock us out and let him take our heads.”
“Ahh.” Xander said in understanding. “So why wouldn’t you use guns when fighting another Immortal?”
“Because we use swords.” Duncan explained.
“Oh… So why wouldn’t you use guns against a guy with a sword?”
Duncan looked around, hoping Joe would soon return.
“Because… it’s vulgar. It just isn’t done.”
“Oh, I get it.” Xander said. “It’s much better to let some guy cut your head off then let people think you’re tacky.”
“That’s not… It’s a complicated…. Joe! You find that name yet?”
Joe hobbled back to the table.
“Here you go.” Joe said, as he handed Xander a slip of paper.
“Thanks man.” Xander glanced at the piece of paper. “San Francisco? I better find a motel to spend the night. I have to get up early for the drive.”
The three men rose and headed for the door.
“I need to head back to the dojo. I could use a shower and some clothes that don’t have bullet holes in them.” Duncan said.
“Yeah. Well it’s been a full day.”
“I know. And the worst part is I lost my Katana. That sword has been with me for over a hundred years. It’s worth half a million dollars.”
Xander looked up at Duncan. “Say Duncan, about your sword…”
“Sorry you lost it. Hope you find it soon.” Xander said.
As they left the bar and headed separate ways, Duncan heard the faint whistling of “We’re in the Money”.
Xander unlocked his car and glanced at the piece of paper Joe had given him.
Looks like I’m headed to San Francisco. Never been to Chinatown before. Guess I’ll get the chance when I visit this Egg Shen.Coming Soon: Medium Sized Trouble in Little China