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The Call Of The Gathering

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Horsemen". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: sequel to There and Back Again The Horsemen’s Tale. Xander and Willow are adapting to life as scoobies, but must eventually leave when they feel the call of the Gathering

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Xander-CenteredangrymonkeyFR181346,27827118116,53410 Dec 052 Jan 06Yes

Ends of a Sort

as usual, own nothing.












The immortals made their way to the nearest airport and got tickets to Toronto Canada. Methos had checked the Watcher’s database and it indicated that indeed the last immortal left alive was Kenny and he was still hiding in his personal labyrinth.

They arrived in the city four days later and were instantly drawn to where the youngest immortal left alive was hiding. After checking into a motel Xander and Silas went out to deal with Kenny while the other four waited there. Technically it was Xander’s turn to take a head, but decided to let Silas have this one since Willow had taken his turn. The two visited the concrete bunker the kid was hiding in. After examining the structure Xander grinned and said to Silas, “I have a great idea on how to get him out.”

Silas looked intrigued and asked, “What is it?”

Xander’s smile became more feral, “Remember how we got that young immortal off holy ground in Cumbria back when we first rode?”

Silas thought for a few minutes then threw his head back and laughed, “We will have to give them steaks for a month!”

Xander gave a final look at the compound and said, “Well we had better get some recruits.”

Three hours later and the two were back, this time with a truck they had ‘borrowed’. As Silas backed the vehicle to the open door of the bunker, Xander used one of his special gifts to make sure his new allies understood the plan. He then opened the doors of the truck and fifteen large dogs ran into Kenny’s fortress. They had been able to pick the animals up from the local pound for a reasonable price since they would have soon been put to sleep. Silas pulled the truck forward and the two waited patiently using the rear fender as a seat. After a few minutes Silas pulled out a dagger and whetstone and began sharpening the weapon in preparation.

Forty minutes later they heard an extremely pissed off ‘child’ yelling and swearing. Silas took out his ax in anticipation. A few minutes later a pack of nine dogs came out of the door, dragging the child immortal with them. Xander told the animals to let him go and the dogs obeyed, dropping the injured child at Silas’ feet. As he got to up Kenny put on big wide eyes, “I’m just a kid, those bad men keep coming to kill me!”

Xander rolled his eyes and tossed Kenny one of his foot long daggers. “You aren’t going to fool us you little rat. So face Silas like a man. We’ll give you a few minutes to recover from our friends escort.”

Kenny realized that there would be no pity coming from these two and, as soon as he caught the dagger, lunged at Silas. This took the massive immortal completely by surprise and blade was buried to its hilt in his abdomen. Knowing that he had no hope of taking out two adult immortals Kennedy turned and ran as fast as he could.

Silas swore and pulled the dagger from his gut. With a bellow of rage he began to run down the street after the world’s youngest immortal, his wound gradually healing. The dogs’ pact instincts reacted to this and they joined Silas on his hunt. The older immortal’s legs were so much longer than Kenny’s that he soon gained on him. Famine brought his ax down on the 900 year olds back mercilessly. Then without hesitation took his head.



The dogs seemed to know what was coming and ran and hid back into the bunker for cover. Silas managed raise his left hand in triumph, brandishing his large ax to the heavens before lightning brought him to his knees. When the sky cleared his wound had healed, but his front was still covered in blood.

As he made his way back to the van he swore at Xander in Babylonian then said in English, “Why the hell didn’t you tell me you were going to give him a knife?”

Xander just laughed and said, “Needed to give you a challenge.” He then sobered and added, “The pack said that that little bastard managed to kill four of them and that one is down there wounded. I’ll get one of them to take me to her; you get cleaned up and find a good vet.”

Silas nodded and tried his best to wipe the blood off his front as Xander went into the bunker. There was an entrance room with a ceiling of about eight feet. One of the dogs led him towards the only other exit to the room. True to the watchers description, the ceiling in there was only four feet high. Xander crawled along the tunnel, following the black lab that was leading him to its fallen pack mate. The two went through a series of twists and turns. Xander saw one of the dogs that hadn’t made it had fallen into a pit trap that had several spikes in the bottom. The black lab walked around the trap and the immortal followed. Soon he heard whimpering and was able to make out the form of the injured animal.

As Xander approached, the wounded animal tried to get up but fell over again, letting out another whimper. Before getting any nearer Xander said in a calming voice, “Easy girl, were going to help you, ok.” This seemed to calm the animal enough for Xander to look at her injuries. The dog had a deep cut on her foreleg that would need stitches. Xander Tore off a piece of his shirt and wrapped the animal’s leg. He then awkwardly carried the dog out of the labyrinth.

Silas had found the address of a good veterinary clinic on the trucks onboard computer and was more than willing to drive her. Xander watched his Brother drive off then turned to deal with the body. “Decapitated child found,” was not a headline he wanted to see in the papers.


After taking the body to the local incinerator he began the forty minute walk back to the motel he and the last immortals were staying at. Nine dogs were following him eagerly. When he was about halfway there he suddenly felt one of the immortal presences disappear. He began to run, knowing that someone he cared for was dead. He hadn’t made it five steps before another presence blinked out.

The first quickening to hit was Amanda’s. He saw her memories of how after she felt Kenny die she gave into the urges to kill. She had taken her sword and brought it down on the nearest immortal there. The unlucky person happened to be Yomet. She didn’t even know who it was that had killed her. Xander knew it was Willow, otherwise he wouldn’t be getting this quickening.

When the seizures stopped Xander began to wonder what had happened to Yomet’s quickening. Amanda had died before she could claim it, therefore it should be going into Willow and by extension him. Suddenly he felt the hairs on the back of his neck begin to raise. In every quickening Xander had ever taken, the memories and soul slammed into his mind, leaving him reeling. This was completely different. Yomet’s consciousness slowly poured into Xander. Xander now remembered the monk’s millennia of mental training as if he had done them himself. There were no seizures with this quickening, just a calm acceptance. When the quickening stopped Xander felt that most of the thirst for violence he had learnt to control after the fall of the Horsemen was gone. He had no explanation for what had happened, but knew he should hurry back to the motel to see if Willow was ok. He took off at a fast run, his pack following him.

When he made it back to their rooms he could feel that Willow and Methos were inside. He entered and saw Willow sitting on the bed, Methos next to her. They were comforting each other. As soon as she saw Xander, Willow said resolutely, “We have to stop the game from turning us against each other before it’s too late. Silas may be four times older than Amanda was, but it’s only a matter of time before he gives into the urge to fight us.”

Xander nodded, “I take it you have figured out how to do that?”

Willow nodded, but didn’t look too happy. “I’ve tried everything I can think of to cut off the call of the game but nothing works. Even in my deepest trances I can still feel it trying to twist my will. There is nowhere on Earth that we can hide from the call. In fact I’m pretty sure that even if we go to other dimensions we won’t be able to stop it.”

Willow paused then continued explaining her plan in a resigned tone, “We are going to have to split up and go our separate ways. If we lock ourselves in different dimensions then even if we hear the call we won’t be able to do anything about it.”

Xander stiffened and said coldly, “We will not break apart again.” After a second's pause he added, “Besides you would just open up the dimensional wall when you couldn’t fight the call anymore. There must be some way to keep us from killing each other.”

Willow shook her head sadly, “It’s the only way Xander… And we have a perfectly good Key to keep us separated.” Xander was about to object when Willow said in calming voice, “We still have a while before we have to go our separate ways, for now lets take care of our friends’ bodies.” Xander kept his mouth shut, but the argument was far from over. Before he could make it to the case he kept the body bags in (always useful to stock when you are an immortal) Silas made it back to the motel. He burst in, ax draw. The massive man relaxed when he saw that his three Brothers were still alive, “What has happened here?”

Methos explained the situation to Silas, and when he was done the younger man said sadly, “I will miss the annoying girl and quiet man.”

Methos patted him on the back and said comfortingly, “We all will Brother.”

The three men stored the bodies in their temporary homes, soon they would be taken to the plots that the Horsemen believed Amanda and Yomet would have preferred.

When they were done storing the bodies and cleaning the blood from the room Silas spoke wistfully, “It is too bad we cannot claim the prize as a group. It would be entertaining to rule this world for eternity.”

Xander looked up from where he was standing next to Willow. He laughed and said, “If we really wanted to rule the world, we could go back to our home dimension. In that world Willow could burn an entire planet to dust if she chose to.” He then chuckled, “Face it Brother, ruling the world would get old after a few centuries. Too much responsibility.”

Methos snorted, “I never thought I would hear you say that, but I agree. I can’t wait to go back to Joe’s. There is little on this planet better than a warm beer.”

Willow looked at her Brother pityingly, “Are you ever gonna catch onto that new fangled contraption called a refrigerator?”

Methos made a face, “It ruins the taste!”




The Horsemen went back to France first to bury Amanda next to her teacher. It was a small ceremony since all of Amanda’s mortal friends had been dead for a while. The only person besides the Four there was a women who had obviously been her Watcher. None of the Four objected since the women clearly wanted to pay her respects.

Dawn hadn’t known Amanda all that well, so had decided not to attend. She had however insisted on making time to take her and her family to Yomet’s funeral. This was why the now sixty year old Mark, 32 year old Buffy, 15 year old Rupert, and six year old Sera were traveling with Dawn to meet the Four at Yomet’s monastery.

The family of five were welcomed by the monks, some of the older ones even recognized Dawn from when she had visited the Horsemen while they trained years ago. They didn’t seem surprised by her still youthful appearance, just a byproduct of Yomet’s three millennia stay. When she saw Willow and Xander, she ran forward to hug them. This was the first time she had seen them in sixteen years. Sure they had shared vid-calls and e-mails, but it just wasn’t the same. “I’m so sorry about Yomet, I know he was very good friend of yours.” Dawn said into Willow’s hair.

When Dawn let her go Willow said reassuringly, “It’s ok Dawnie, in a way he’s with me all the time now.” She tapped the side of her head then smiled, “Besides ever since Xander got his quickening he’s been a lot more mellow.”

Dawn then noticed the dogs that were running around the yard of the monastery, “Umm Willow why are there dogs everywhere?”

Willow laughed and said, “Their Xander and Silas’ adopted family.”

“Hun?” Was Dawn’s simple reply.

Willow shrugged, “There was a child-immortal hiding in a booby-trapped maze. Xander and Silas went to the pound and got a bunch of dogs to drag the kid out.”

Dawn looked horrified, “You guys killed a kid!?”

Willow quickly amended her statement, “Oh no, Kenny was over 900 years old!”

Dawn relaxed a little, but not completely. At this point Sera ran up to her mom with a standard poodle and said, “Mommy, can I have a puppy.”

“No!” Dawn shrieked. Then said more calmly, “I think he belongs to your uncle Xander.”

“He said I could have him!” The six year old answered happily.

Dawn thought desperately for a reason to give her daughter not to keep the poodle, she ignored Willow’s stifled laughter. However the witch ended up coming to rescue by saying, “I know you want to take Cerberus home with you sweetie, but don’t you think he’ll miss all his brothers and sisters here?”

Sera looked from the poodle to the other dogs and said sadly, “I guess.”

Dawn then jumped in, “If you want we can find you a puppy of your own when we get back home.”

The six year old nodded a unhappily, “Ok.” She then ran off to play with Cerberus.

When she was out of earshot Dawn let out a breath and said to Willow, “Thanks.”

Willow shrugged, “It’s nothing, but you really wouldn’t have had to worry, none of these dogs would hurt a person unless Xander told them to.”

Dawn didn’t look convinced and responded, “I still wouldn’t feel comfortable with one of them near my kids.”

Willow nodded in understanding.

Dawn decided to change the subject, “How was Yomet killed? You never explained in your messages.” Willow told the story about how the call had overcome Amanda. Dawn then asked uneasily, “Does this mean that you and Xander going to try killing each other some day?”

Willow looked at the ground sadly, “About that, I was kind of hoping you could help me lock us all in different worlds for the rest of our lives. I’d rather give Xander up then have to kill him or have him live with killing me.”

Instead of complaining about the situation or trying to convince Willow to stay, Dawn looked over to where her husband was talking with Methos, “I take it I’ll have to stay in a different world as you four as well in order to keep one of you from making me take you to the others.” Dawn may not have felt the call of the gathering but she understood that it if Willow was contemplating leaving Xander then this was a bad situation.

Willow nodded; she was surprised that Dawn understood and accepted the plan so easily. She studied the Key’s face, over the years it had acquired an ageless quality. She could pass for anywhere from 25 to 35 years old. She also carried herself with a nearly regal grace. With a start Willow realized that Dawn was no longer the same uncertain girl that had been given to Buffy to protect and who Buffy had asked her to look out for. Dawn was now someone who Willow was glad to consider a friend. Willow decided to answer bluntly, “It will take a while for Xander to come around to the idea, it is very important to him to keep his family together… But one day he won’t be able to fight it anymore, when that happens I’m going to need your help to get him out of this world.”

Dawn nodded and the two women headed to where the funeral was beginning. The ceremony was short and simple. Yomet’s body was cremated and buried with the other monks’ remains. As he had always insisted that he was no different from any other monk in the monastery.

After the ceremony the Four decided to part company for a few years. Methos headed back to his bar in Seacover. As he left Xander threatened, “You had better keep up your swordwork old man; I may come by some day and make sure.” Silas decided he had spent enough time out of the world and that he might enjoy settling down in a more populated area for a while. He even mentioned trying to become a vet. He took the pack of dogs with him when he left.

This left Willow and Xander. They decided to head back to France with Dawn and her family. It had been too long since they had spent time with her and wanted to get to know her family.




It was thirty years before the Four met again. Though they stayed in touch they though it best not to tempt fate by all staying in the same city, one small argument could lead to a lost temper and possibly a lost head. Unfortunately their reunion was not under the best of circumstances. Silas had left the ranch he had settled on and gone to see Methos in desperation. It seemed that he was starting to have great difficulty controlling his desire to go hunting. He had even raised his ax to his Brother before Methos shot him and disarmed him. The two immortals had quickly made their way to Paris to find Willow and Xander. There had been a long drawn out debate and after many angry words Xander had finally agreed that they should follow Willow’s plan.

The five made their way to Silas’ ranch. Willow and Dawn prepared the spell with their useful little interdimensional ring. They all mourned the loss of their Brother. Dawn and the older immortals said their goodbyes to Silas. Methos was the most torn up by what was happening since he had always been closer to Silas then the others and had known the man the longest.

Finally he let go of his little Brother and, with an unhappy laugh, spoke to Xander, “You know when we first started the Horsemen you said to me, “Screw the game, in the end there will be four.” I always thought you were full of it, but I guess you were right. It’s too bad we won’t be together to celebrate it.” He then sobered and put out his hand, “To the Four.”

The others got up from their seats, Silas grasped Methos’ arm, Xander grasped Silas’ arm, Willow grasped Xander’s arm, and Methos grasped Willow’s arm. Their right arms formed a square and they said in unison, “To the Four.”

After they parted Willow and Dawn opened a portal to another world. They made sure that, unlike this Earth, it was young and still full of potential, not on the verge of collapsing under its own natural and not so natural problems. In fact the human species had only appeared recently on this plane of existence. Silas picked up a pack and then took the reins of a small heard of horses. With a last look at his family he walked through the portal with his animals.

Once he was gone and the portal closed Willow carefully recast the spell to another world in some other corner of the multiverse. She made sure to set similar criterion as for the Silas’ world. In addition to his sword all Methos took with him were travel rations, one of Silas’ horses and a hard copy of his journal that he had recopied into a set of encyclopedias similar to Xander and Willow’s. After another tearful goodbye Methos mounted his steed and road off into his new home.

As the oldest of the immortals, Willow and Xander were slightly less affected by the call. They decided to hold off on separating for at least a few more days. They spent their time ridding through the Silas’ ranch, and enjoying the last of their time together. Neither could completely understand the concept that they would never see the other again. For as long as either could remember they had been friends, even when they had been estranged after the fall of the Horsemen it was understood by both of them that they would eventually meet up again and watch the Earth grow old. They had both seriously considered killing themselves so they could at least, in a sense, stay together by giving the other their quickening, but the other would hear nothing of it.

Xander had hopped that since he could now visit Willow’s mind he would still be able to see her. Unfortunately distance mattered for the link that Gilgamesh’s quickening had formed to work and it was nowhere near strong enough to stretch across the worlds.

Their last night together was not spent having wild and passionate sex, neither was really in the mood. They both sat quietly camped out in the hills waiting for the next day to come when they would ride down and have Dawn help them go there separate ways. It was enough to just spend the time together. There really wasn’t much point to talking as they had already discussed nearly every possible subject under the sun at one point or another during their long lives. They also didn’t want to risk getting in the fight that the call was trying to push them to.

The next day they headed down to the ranch house where Dawn had been staying. The spell to open the gateway to another world was done without many words exchanged between any of the Scoobies. Dawn said her goodbyes and gave Xander a long hug. Finally he turned to Willow and, without saying a word, hugged her to him as tightly as he could. Ten minutes later he finally let go and backed away from her.

Xander picked up his gear and took the bridal of his horse. Before he could lead it to his new home however Willow stopped him and gave him a tiny wrapped package. With a watery smile she said, “Open it later, it’s kind of embarrassing.” With one last hug he mounted the horse and left the world he had spent over fifty five centuries in.




Willow and Dawn had discussed the situation and Dawn had decided to stay with her family in this world which meant that Willow would be leaving. Not wanting to risk giving into the temptation of forcing Dawn to let her go find her husband or Brothers Willow gave the Key her ring and had her perform the spell one final time. After hugging Dawn she mounted her horse and rode into her knew world.

Dawn watched the shimering gateway close and looked down at the ring on her fingure that helped her focus the power of the Key. Carefully slipping it off she put it on a stone at her feat and picked up a hammer. After a few minutes hesitation she smashed the ring with as much force as she could. Willow had made it clear she wanted the ring destroyed so the dimensional walls would be nearly impossible to breach.

~~~~~





Xander was sitting on the earth in his new home with his head in his hands, weeping. As soon as the portal had closed he had dismounted and opened Willow’s package.




Inside was a single yellow crayon.



















End of story
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********
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There may or may not be an epilogue and or sequel. Either way since I’m trying to head back to school it will be a while in coming. If there is one it will, without question, be a multiple crossing.

Sorry if you found the ending sappy, or unhappy. I found it tied things up nicely.

Thank you for reading and revieving. I hope you enjoyed the story.

The End

You have reached the end of "The Call Of The Gathering". This story is complete.

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