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Bloody Hell

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Summary: Angel/Buffy/Highlander X-Over What happens when you bring three of the world’s biggest jokesters/trouble magnets together? Combine Richie, Methos, and Xander and there’s bound to be trouble.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > Xander-CenteredRachelleRyanFR15127,09013238,97422 Feb 0622 Feb 06Yes
A/N: This is one of my oldest stories so please be kind. Thank you.

Disclaimer: On the advice of my lawyer I decline to claim ownership of any and all characters. In a chance of cutting a deal I assert that these people belong to Panzer/Davis and Rysher, Joss Whedon, and Twentieth Century Fox. I had nothing to do with their creation or anything that happened to them.

Summary: Angel/Buffy/Highlander X-Over What happens when you bring three of the world’s biggest jokesters/trouble magnets together? Combine Richie, Methos, and Xander and there’s bound to be trouble.

Note from Author: I know this is one of the most used crossover ideas but I couldn’t resist.

Thanks to my sister Aisha for help with the fight scenes and my beta Kate N.

Character information (in case you don’t watch one show or another):

Richie Ryan: Street kid, taken in by Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod and Tessa Noel, Seacouver native, became immortal in the shooting that killed Tessa, was a professional motorcycle racer until he died in front of millions of fans, first kill Mako the bounty hunter, never died in season six (never will if I can help it)

Methos A.K.A. Adam Pierson: Oldest Immortal, 5,000 give or take a century, once Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, beer lover, joined the Society of Watchers (the guys who spend their whole lives following immortals around documenting their lives) to escape the game, has a joined Quickening with Duncan MacLeod

Alexander “Xander” Harris: Goofball, original Scooby Member (that’s what the people that help the slayer are called), used to date Cordelia, had a crush on Buffy (Slayer), normal guy whole lived in Sunnydale his whole life, best friends with Willow (computer geek turned witch)

Cordelia Chase: A.K.A. Queen C, rich bitch in high school, started helping fight demons when she started dating Xander, dumped Xander when she caught him kissing Willow ended up with a piece of rebar in her stomach in that episode, after high school her family lost all their money due to not having paid taxes for twenty years and she went to L.A. to be an actress, started working for Angel Investigations when he saved her from a vampire who had decided to make her a meal.

Liam A.K.A. Angel A.K.A. Angelus: vampire with a soul because he was cursed by gypsies after he killed one of their own, name originally used to be Liam, changed to Angelus after he became a vamp means “the one with the Angelic face”, changed his name to Angel when he got his soul back, used to date Buffy, stopped when he lost said soul because of happiness clause built into curse (had sex with her and experienced one moment of pure happiness), moved to L.A. and hired Doyle and Cordelia to help fight the good fight

Francis Allan Doyle: half demon on his father’s side, Irish on his mother, gets visions from the Powers that Be that hurt like hell, tries to keep Angel from cutting himself off from human contact, has a crush on Cordelia, first name Francis but everyone calls him Doyle (I think it sounds better myself)



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Bloody Hell

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Chapter I: Death Takes a Holiday

(Sorry the Fabulous Ladies Night Club is not the Titty Twister)



Xander

I hadn’t expected to end up working at a strip joint when I packed my bags and left the hell demons and vampires of Sunnydale behind. I also hadn’t expected the engine of my truck falling out in a little one-horse town where the horse was dead and dying. Oxnard had dried up years ago even though the residents hadn’t. Pretty much the only places open in Oxnard were the liquor store and the strip club.

Life is pretty strange, I left the Hellmouth to get away from vampires but it seemed that destiny had other things in mind. My grandmother used to say, “Fate will lead he who will follow and drag he who will not”; she had a lot of sayings like that. I never really believed her until seven vampires surrounded me outside "Fabulous"'s walls. I had always known that I would die young, hell half of Sunnydale did, but I had hoped that it wouldn’t be at the end of the pointy pairs of teeth I’d been avoiding and fighting against for years. Still I considered the odds and I knew this was it. 'Some one in Heaven, or Hell for that matter, is laughing their head off I bet. Oh well like that guy said, ‘Die young and leave a pretty corpse.’

I fought hard and even managed to stake three of them with well-hidden stakes. Stakes are what any paranoid surviving Hellmouther never really leaves behind, even when they are running from the knowledge they possess. It helped that these vampires were not very bright ‘must have been locals’ and surprised by a meal that fought back, but I knew there was no way for me to get them all by myself.

‘I hate always being right.’ As I felt my life draining away I thought of how ironic it was. I had left because I was afraid that my luck had run out and it really had because what do I do but run in to probably the only group of vampires for miles. Suddenly I felt the sickening sweet blood of a vampire sliding down my throat. I was too weak to fight and the blood kept coming and coming…

Above Xander the vampires were arguing. Some wanted their victim to become one of them to replace the vampires that he had killed but the others wanted him to pay for what he had done. Later on Xander would wonder if he was lucky that the vampire that sired him was too stupid to let go as he argued. The idiot kept his wrist to Xander’s mouth thus giving Xander about 2 quarts of blood. It never noticed how weak this was making him. He had been a jock before he had been turned so that tells you that sometimes stereotypes are true. It is a little know fact by non-vampires that the more blood your sire gives you the stronger a vampire you will be. That’s what makes vampire a minion, a childe, or a master. Xander, always the lucky one, got number three.

Methos


Oxnard turned out to be a real dump. It didn’t even have good beer. Ah, well just one more rinky-dink backwoods America town in the line of rinky- dink towns that Richie and I have been touring. Ever since we had left Europe Richie had wanted to travel. Said, “I’ve never done it really and that jaunt after Mako didn’t count.” 'Whoever Mako is.' Personally after 5,000 years the thrill of travel is gone but the poor youngster had been through so much I couldn’t say no when he turned his puppy dog eyes on me. Kronos must be laughing his head off in Hell, the great and terrible Death being manipulated by a youngster barely out of diapers.


Heading back to the motel I hear muffled fighting to my right. Automatically I head in that direction. ‘Bloody Hell! I ought to kill that Highlander now. He’s turned me in to a bloody Boy Scout!’ Coming upon the source of the commotion I see that I’m already too late. Instead of rushing into the situation when the victim clearly is no longer in need of help I take it all in, there are four vampires crowded around the body of a young man, just a kid really, fighting with each other. One is kneeling holding the body of the kid, the kid used to be tall with dark brown hair and he is being feed one of the vampire’s blood which means he will soon be one of them. I decided to move closer to catch their conversation.

“He’s strong he took three of us when he was human. He can replace them. After all he killed them.” Ugly number one argued. Still holding his wrist to the boy’s mouth. ‘Wonder how much blood it takes to make a vampire?’ I shrugged; it didn’t really matter the more blood the vamp lost the weaker he would be and the easier to fight. I couldn’t leave these bloodsuckers alive or undead or whatever. Though the thought was tempting, a plague upon the people of Oxnard. ‘Sure would cut down on the idiot population of America.’ I shook that though off. I’d left my murdering days behind with the horsemen. I would feel - heaven help me - guilty if I left these fools to the mercy of vampires. Still there was no doubt in my mind that if the vampires all worked together they could take me down in a heartbeat, but vampires don’t tend to work together. They rely on their strength too much and that is their down fall.

Ugly number two who looked to be the leader, a very incompetent leader to me, gave a little growl. “No, he killed our brethren he must die! Not be given the gift of becoming a vampire!” Ugly number three, who was once a very pretty girl, nodded in agreement with Ugly number two whom she had her arm wrapped around. Ugly number four had just opened his mouth when I felt it, the Buzz. It started flickering on and off and it was the muted buzz of a pre-immortal. I glanced around trying to find it source when it hit me. The boy in the vampire’s arms was the one emanating the buzz. He had to be there was no one else around.

“Ah, shit.” I felt like banging my head against the wall. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had no idea what vampire blood would do to an immortal. It had never happened before. That I know of. Grabbing my sword I attacked. Ugly two and three fell quickly, standing so close together is not a bright idea, makes it easy for a single beheading stroke. Dust flew. Ugly four rushed me like an idiot. ‘Not too bright are they?’ I chopped his feet out from under him. Then I cut his head off his shoulders and it rolled for a bit and then exploded. Ugly one just stared up at me stupidly as I kicked him away from the kid. He tried to get up to rush me but was too weak from blood loss. He couldn’t even get to his feet. I beheaded him while he was down.

The buzz that had been flickering died. I looked down at the body of the boy and said, “Welcome to immortality kid.” The little voice inside me that I recognized as the voice of wisdom whispered that life was about to get a lot more complicated. I sighed looking down at the face that looked so innocent in death and wondered what this new child would bring to my life. ‘Gods above help me.’



Richie

The room we rented in this town is a real dump and the town’s not much better. I flipped the TV off. There was nothing on any of the whole ten channels that this town got. ‘Maybe travelling wasn’t such a good idea. All I’ve seen so far is the inside of dirty hotel rooms.’ I didn’t regret travelling with Methos though. I was slightly taken aback by his real identity at first I still couldn’t help but identify with the guy. Mac is such a gung-ho moralist. He forgets what he doesn’t want to remember and he definitely doesn’t want to remember that I used to live on the streets where murder, rape, and pillaging or looting as we call it today was part of my everyday life. It’s not an abstract concept to me like it is to Mac. When you grow up in a world like that you either become the shadows or you become the blood spot on the sidewalk. I got out before I had to make that choice but sometimes I can’t help but wonder what would be different if Mac hadn’t decided to take me in.

No, Mac’s latest moral tirade over Methos’ past was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I thought that they were over that. Mac certainly had acted as if he had forgiven Methos but this I guess he will never let it go. I blew up at him and Mac didn’t take well to my taking Methos’ side. I told him that I wasn’t an innocent and when I came to him and he sure as hell wasn’t either. We’re all killers for heaven’s sake! How can he condemn Methos for his past when we’ve all killed? Mac said I was too young to understand. It was like he’d punched me in the stomach. Too young? Who the hell was he kidding?! He just didn’t want to admit that I was right. I stormed out and took Methos with me.

I was surprised that I actually could get him to come along but he probably was still hurting from what Mac had said and was vulnerable to my pleading. All I wanted at the time was to get away from Mac’s moral high ground. On the spur of the moment I decided we should do one of the most American activities in existence. Road trip.

Since I had nothing better to do I was just sitting around doing nothing, being bored, reviewing what exactly had caused me to go on this insane trip, and what had possessed me to drag Methos along with me. When Methos came back he’d brought a present; he was dragging a limp body. He dumped it onto the closest bed, grabbed a beer from the small rickety fridge that came with the room, and then fell into the nearest chair in the way only Methos can, that graceful slump of his. He took a swig and then grimaced from the taste. I couldn’t blame him the quality in this town sucked. Glancing from the bed and back to Methos. I calmly asked, “So what’s going on?”

“Stumbled into the middle off a vampire convention.” From his off hand reply and the flippancy in his tone I could tell that he didn’t expect me to believe him.

“Ah man really? Out in this little town. Jeez I hope you got rid of them.” Methos blinked. ‘Guess he didn’t see that one coming.’

“You believe in vampires?” He asked incredulous half rising in his seat to look more fully at me. Suddenly it hit me that he had been sitting in a defensive position ready to support his claim. ‘I’ll be dammed.’

“Yeah of course.” I shrugged, “Seacouver had a few of them. You had to watch out on the streets or you’d end up being a meal. Which brings to mind the question why’d you bring him,” I gestured to the bed, “here if he was a victim? You should have took him to a hospital.”

“Well he was a victim but now he’s dead.”

Now I was confused. I’d been around dead bodies a long time, even before I became immortal, so the fact that I was now sharing a room with one didn’t really faze me, but I couldn’t figure out why Methos would bring the body with him. “Okay, if he’s dead then why’d you bring him here? You should have just left him the authorities would have found some excuse for his death, they always do.”

“Because he’s going to wake up.” Methos said simply doing nothing to relieve my confusion. “Hopefully as one of us.”

“What!”

“The vampires that killed him were turning him when I got there. I have no idea how this is going to effect a pre-immortal.” The worry that showed on Methos’ face was contagious.

“So you have no idea what’s going to happen?”

“Yep!” False cheer was evident in his voice. He took another mouthful from his bottle and once again grimaced at the taste.

“Just great.” I looked at the body on my bed. ‘Hope he wakes up soon. I don’t want to sleep on the floor.’ Methos while a good friend is not very generous. So I have a feeling that even though he was the one who brought our guest home I’d be the one sleeping on the floor if it came to that.

Xander

A new consciousness entered Xander’s body and started taking up residence. The demon was a strong one, an old one. The huge amount of blood that Xander’s sire had given him had allowed for such an old and powerful demon to come across. Usually ones such as it were not able to because vampires, while mostly stupid, do not want to create a rival that is stronger and smarter than them. Xander’s own strength of will also helped to draw the demon to his body, for such a demon needed a strong body to inhabit. It had been biding its time for millenniums waiting for this chance. For the longer a vampire demon stays in Hell the less likely it will ever leave.

The demon went about improving it’s new body doing all the things that a usual Leski, a vampire demon, does with a few differences. The Leski that usually come to earth are weak and so they have no real personality; they become their host taking on most of their memory and personality. But this Leski was not weak or with out personality. It had spent its time in Hell gathering knowledge so that if it ever did get a chance to escape it would have no equal. With demons the older they get the more powerful they are (unlike humans) and this demon was really old, 8,945 years to be precise.

Another part of Xander was busy at work too. This part though was not an intruder. It had been waiting years to be activated. It was hard at work repairing the damage done to its body but was nowhere near as fast as the intruder. Detecting the intrusion it started preparing to expel it. It also worked to keep all of the Xander intact and therefore not letting Xander’s soul leave while the intruder tried to push it out.

The demon would have sighed with satisfaction if it could. Its work was done. It would finally see the world instead of the hellhole it had been sharing with the other Leski demons its whole life. Willing his new body’s eyes open it prepared to wreck havoc on the world.

The other force in Xander noted the demon’s move and pinpointed this as the time to strike. So it did.

Methos

We had been waiting for 3 hours and gone through a case of beer. I would have given up if had any idea what was going to happen. But I didn’t an unusual occurrence for me. Richie was getting just as bored as me maybe even more so.

Suddenly I heard a noise coming from the bed. Sounded like a growl and I didn’t feel a buzz. I caught Richie’s eyes and he nodded if we had to we would kill him. It was the merciful thing to do. I turned my eyes back to the bed just in time to see what happened next. The boy’s body suddenly writhed with the blue white lighting that immortals exhibit when healing only it covered him completely. He jerked around on the bed for a few moments then a fine dust exploded into the air and I was hit by one of the most powerful buzzes I had ever felt. ‘Shit.’ Then the light show stopped and the boy lapsed into death again.

Richie coughed. He had been sitting too close and had inhaled dust. “Jeez man he feels just like you.” He remarked. I raised an eyebrow at him.

“What do you mean?” I asked curious. Thus far only really old immortals had the time to learn that you can distinguish between buzzes or so I thought.

He looked confused. “I mean that his buzz is as strong as yours. I’ve noticed that older you are the stronger the buzz your know?” I raised my other eyebrow now. A little more nervous now he went on. “I mean Mac he feels pretty old too kind of like Amanda but I figure that’s because of all those heads he takes and you well you at first I didn’t know what to make of you. Ya had that kinda ancient edge but not the real bite, it made sense when I found out you were Methos ya know. Its nothing special everybody can tell.”

I felt like smacking him instead I just sighed. “No Richie, they can’t.”

“What?” He asked really confused now then comprehension showed on his face and he got wide eyed. “Oh.” He was quiet for a while after that. I decided to take pity on him.

“Richie it’s not that bad. Could actually come in handy. Just keep it to yourself though huh. Some people don’t like others knowing their age. Especially women.” Richie seemed to cheer up a bit, though I could tell he was still a little shaken, and turned back to watching our once again dead roommate. I heard him mumble under his breath. “Wish he’d wake up already. I want my bed.”

Xander

Xander’s immortality inspected what the demon had done before it had been exorcised. The changes that it had implemented had been finished before it could act therefore it could not change anything other that which would be harmful to Xander’s future health. Satisfied that it’s job was done it began waking the more conscious aspects of it’s being.

The first thing I noticed was the pounding in my head the second that there was pounding everywhere. Groaning I sat up and took in my surroundings; cheap hotel room lot like mine, one door, two windows neither big enough to fit through, two beds the one I was on hard as rock, a TV, and oh yeah two guys in chairs staring at me. One closest to me had red short curly hair about 5’10”, weighed 120 to 140 pounds hard to tell sitting, about 19 to 25 years old. The other had close cut black hair, about 6’2”, 160 pounds, and anywhere from 20 to 30 years old.

I started rubbing the sides of my head, thinking had made my head hurt. Except surveying and noting escape routes had become second nature after my stint as toy solider boy so it was all automatic. As I saw it there was no way for me to get out the door with those two guys there and there was no other way out. The thing was I didn’t really want to leave until I had some idea of what was going on and my instincts were telling me that the only ones with that information were sitting right in front of me. Plus I didn’t think I could get up at the moment anyway. So noticing that a silence had fallen I asked, “Did anybody get the number of the truck that hit me?” Hoping to break the ice. They glanced at each other and I could tell they were silently communicating. ‘Not good.’

The inside of my mouth felt like I’d been chewing cotton. Running my tongue around I tried to get some spit back that’s when I felt them. Slowing down I went over each elongated canine carefully slowly digesting what they meant. The memory of what had happened came rushing back and I felt like being sick. More calmly than I felt I asked, “Could some one hand me a stake?”

Richie

Time seemed to slow as our guest slowly sat up. When he did I noticed along with a buzz he had red-rimmed yellow eyes, the eyes of a vampire, along with the disfiguring ridges that made vampires so ugly when they came in for the kill. He also seemed rather groggy yet those eyes showed intelligence as he took in the room. I had the feeling that our guest could now find his way around in the dark.

Silence rained until he said, “Did anybody get the number of truck that hit me?” I looked to Methos silently communicating this was not the time to make jokes. He rolled his eyes saying your one to talk, and then with a worried look he added how do we tell him? I sent back I don’t know. Our guest solved that question for us.

The calm, “Could some one hand me stake?” shocked me. I turned to look at the very calm looking boy on the bed. His face was without feeling and he seemed to be the most Vulcan looking person I’d ever seen. Yet I could see in his eyes utter terror and horror. It was the look I had in my eyes when I woke up next to Tessa with her dead and me not. I couldn’t think of anything to say.

Methos didn’t have that problem, “Sure kid if you really want but there’s no real point. You’d just wake up again.” This seemed to be the wrong to say for it burst the barrier keeping his emotions in check and he exploded.

“I’ve had enough!” He yelled ending it with a snarl. Then he sprang up from the bed and attacked screaming the whole while. “My life is one fuck up after another.” His eyes were glowing and he didn’t seem to know what he was doing. Me I was too slow to even touch him much less stop him as he started to beat on Methos. “First my dad thinks I’d make the prefect punching bag. Next my mom dies. Then I get to watch friend after friend die or disappear never knowing why.” Bloody tears tracked their way down his face. Methos looked like he was in trouble the kid had punched him across the face and Methos still looked dazed. Gathering up my courage I flung myself at him hoping to give my friend time to recover. Next thing I knew I was flung against the wall so hard I could feel bones breaking. Wheezing because of my broken ribs all I could do was watch, listen as the fight went on, and hope that I healed real quick.

Methos

At this point I was just dodging instead of trying to fight back since I had found out that the new guy’s punches were so powerful that they had already broken my jaw and my arm. Lucky for me the kid had his eyes closed or I’d be in bigger trouble the only reason dodging even worked was because of it. He moved so fast that I don’t even want to think of fighting him hand to hand when he’s coherent. Hearing all of the screamed and whispered words I could understand why he had gone ballistic though.

“I make friends with the Slayer. Found out what’s been killing us, wish I hadn’t. Had to kill my best friend not two hours later. I had to kill him you understand he was turned. He was turned. I’ve turned.” The attack started to slow. The finally it stopped the kid had sunk to the floor tears running down his face. “I’ve turned.”

I looked around the room and I see a total disaster area with the kid dead center. My sarcastic mind could only come up with ‘Boy the maid’s just going to love us’ before I collapsed against the wall behind me and slowly slid down. I spied Richie across the room clutching his ribs. He chuckled then grimaced, “That went well.” I half smiled as I felt my bones snap back into place.

“Next time you do all the talking.” I said when I could finally move my jaw again.

The kid had stopped crying his face had reverted and he was just staring at his hands eyes still glowing but that was fading too. I didn’t know what to say when he slowly looked up at me and in such a lost voice asked, “What am I?” Bloody tear tracks drying on his face.

Richie managed to get up and slowly make his way over to the boy. He put one hand on the kid’s shoulder still holding his ribs and said, “Don’t worry it’ll be okay.” willing reassurance into his voice.

The kid’s response was to look back down at his hands and say, “Will it? It never has before.”

Xander

I was surprised after my out burst that they didn’t just kick me out on my ass for what I’d just done to them. I could see blood. Hell I could smell blood. Though how come that blood didn’t tempt me had me at a loss. I ended up back on the bed I had vacated feeling ashamed. While the two guys I had just thrashed checked each other’s wounds. I distinctly heard the red head’s dislocated shoulder being popped back into the joint. I recognized the sound because I had to have it done to me after a couple fights. Those hurt like hell.

I winced in expectation. These guys probably weren’t to thrilled with me. In fact I wasn’t to thrilled with me either at the moment. I had better control than this but some how I just couldn't pull myself together.

“I don’t know about you but I think I’d like to know your name.” Said the red head as he and his friend sat down.

“Name’s Xander Harris.”

“Richie Ryan.” The red head returned.

“Adam Pierson.” The guy with the black hair seemed to be following Richie's lead I noticed Richie rolled his eyes at that. They had taken the seats that they had left when I attacked. Again I felt a rush of shame.

Shifting nervously on the bed I decided to do something I rarely do apologize. “Um, I’m sorry.”

Adam I think blinked. “For what? This.” He waved his hand at the mess. “This is nothing. Kid, we’re not going to hurt you or even let you kill yourself before you know the whole deal.”

“But I am vampire and I just beat the cramp out of you.” I said feeling tears well up in my eyes again. “Man I’m a regular water fountain today.” I said wiping the tears away before they could fall. But the stuff on my hands didn’t feel like tears slowly looking down at my hands I found they were covered in blood. Suddenly I felt like crying again. This time I controlled it though I didn’t want any more blood on my hands or my face for that matter.

“Kid you’re not just a vampire if you were you’d be having a serious case of blood lust and you wouldn’t be thinking of killing yourself. Which you are aren’t you?” Adam asked looking at me with a penetrating stare.

I was still gazing at my hands but I nodded. Richie got up and took my bloody hands in his. “Xander you're not just a vampire you're also like us, immortal. Before you woke the demon was expelled by your immortality as we watched. It was a great light show. That means you’re not a demon. You don’t have to worry about suddenly killing someone if want to you won’t.”

I gazed into his eyes and found a spark of hope but the immortal reference confused me. “What’s an immortal and how’d I become one?”

“Immortals are people that don’t age, heal from any wound, and will never die unless they lose their heads. Immortals are born immortal but age and get hurt like any normal person till their first death.” Richie paused then went on. “There are also some cons to the whole immortality bit. We can’t have children we’re all sterile, we’re all foundlings, and we play this ‘Game’ and the loser pays the ultimate price. I never heard anything about anyone being turned as their first death and I don’t know how that’s going o effect you but we’ll,” He waved to his friend, “help you figure it out.”

I gave him a wry grin, “My world’s just been turned on it head again hasn’t it?”

Adam nodded, “Afraid so kid.” He paused. “You’re taking this rather well.”

I sighed, “I learn denial doesn’t help a long time ago. You know what Shakespeare wrote ‘There are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamt of in your philosophy Horatio.’ And if I believe in vampires and demons why shouldn’t I believe in immortals? I have one question though.”

“Only one?” Richie asked.

I grinned more genuinely this time. I was starting to feel more like myself. “Okay more maybe more than one but my big one is what is this ‘Game’ and how do you play?”

Methos

The question I dread the most when I’m explaining immortality to a new immortal is the one bout the ‘Game’. I mean how are you supposed to tell some housewife or banker or just about anybody that they had to go from relatively good citizen to killer. Yes, it is a kill or be killed situation but it is not an easy thing to accept especially today. As people have gotten more “civilized” killing has gotten less acceptable. So I decided to save Richie from explaining it to Xander.

“The ‘Game’ is something every immortal plays and you can’t run from it. It only follows you and the only way to avoid it is to live on holy ground your whole life because that is the only place that immortals can’t and won’t fight. When two immortals meet we get this warning buzz in our heads there’s a reason for this. When an immortal loses his head their power goes to the closest immortal. The more heads you take the more powerful you become. Get it?” Xander nodded a look of grim understanding spreading across his features. “There are very few rules in this ‘Game’ one our fights are always one on one and two DON’T fight on holy ground. Rumor has it last time some one did Pompeii got buried.”

Looking decidedly grim and serious Xander slightly shook his head. “As my grandmother would say ‘There’s a price for everything and back fees are a killer’. So what do we fight with? I mean cutting a person’s head of isn’t easy. And man I swore to myself that I’d only ever kill vamps and demons but I guess that’s going out the window.” Putting his head in his hands Xander shook it even harder and mumbled some thing. Sounded like “Fate just loves me.”

I couldn’t help but smile at that the kid reminded me strongly of Richie. They joke to cover how scared they feel. Most of the time when I discover a new immortal I ship them of to one of my other immortal acquaintances but this kid was tugging at my heartstrings just like Richie and McLeod had done. Plus the way Richie looked at the kid I knew he felt for him and wouldn’t like me giving over his training to some one else. After that whole mess with Mac I felt more inclined than ever to go along with his wishes.



Richie

I saw myself in Xander. We were both too young having our worlds turned upside down by things out of our control. The feeling of helplessness, the general unfairness of it all, and the way that it seemed to all to be ganging up on you all were familiar feelings. In fact sometimes I still felt them. Methos gave me a look that asked ‘Should we keep him?’ and I nodded. With Methos as his teacher I felt sure that Xander would survive a long time. After all the guy had survived 5,000 years. He has to know something.

Xander still had his head in his hands so I shook him to get his attention. “Xander what do you think? Want to train? Or you want to be a sitting duck?”

“What choice do I really have?”

“None.” I said sadly.

“Okay Teach let’s get to it.” Xander said surprising me with his willingness.

“Whoa, whoa kid. First I think we should get a days rest. I already feel like we’ve went through a training session and we haven’t even gotten a sword in your hands yet.” Methos said putting his hands up as to stall Xander. Thoughtfully he added, “You know some of those moves you used were real professional, seemed military.” He raised an eyebrow inquisitively.

Xander shifted uncomfortably and said, “Um, well that’s a long story.” Trying to change the subject he asked, “What do you mean a sword?” Methos and I exchanged a glance but we let it drop.

“Like you said earlier cutting a person’s head off isn’t too easy. Commonly immortals use swords some have used axes though but it's not too popular.” Methos explained. “Now I suggest you go home. It’s late and you need your sleep.” Xander nodded then tried to stifle a yawn apparently the mention of sleep made him realize how tried he really was.

Getting up he got ready to leave when I noticed that he still had yellow eyes, facial rides, and fangs. While I felt Xander wouldn’t want to be reminded of his vampirism I couldn’t just let him walk out that way. People would talk. We’d been so caught up in what was going on we just forgot though I think it also was partly because we wanted to forget. Clearing my throat I stopped Xander at the door. He turned around to look at me. Uncomfortably I said, “Um, you may want to figure out to um, hide that.” Waving my hand at his face for elaboration.

“What?” Confusion dominated his face but comprehending slowly dawned. Worriedly he mumbled, “Alright here it goes. Hope I got this right.” He took a deep breath and the vampire features seemed to swiftly melt back into his face. Looking a little disgusted and pale Xander turned and quickly dashed out he door.

Xander

I woke up to the sun shining on my face. ‘Hmm guess I should have shut the curtain. Never know might have burst into flames.’ Seeing as how the sun felt pleasantly warm and my face was not smoking I figured that the sun wouldn’t hurt me. Which was a relief. With a sigh I heaved myself out of bed and headed towards the kitchen a familiar rumble telling me it was time to eat. I was half way through me Corn Flakes when I realized that I was eating solid food and smiled. ‘No liquid diet for me.’

I realized that even with all of the down falls of being immortal, and they were many, were a lot better than being a vampire which I would have been if I wasn’t an immortal. Of course I was still somewhat vampiric. Which once again made itself know when I accidentally pulled the door of my fridge. I pulled a little too hard and it came right off. 'Wonder how I’m going to explain this one to the hotel manager.'

That reminded me of the irony of it all. When I had stepped out of Richie and Adam’s hotel room last night I found myself in my hotel. Which I guess shouldn’t have surprised me because there are only two hotels in Oxnard. All I had to do was walk up the stairs and turn the corner and there was my room. No wonder I thought our rooms looked similar.

It was 5 o’clock in the morning but I was an early riser a trait that had been ingrained so deeply I don’t think I’ll ever be able to break it. It was reinforced by my acquired solider memories. I learned when I was about four that I didn’t want to be around when ever my father came home. Dad would stagger in drunk as a skunk, and smelling like it too, around six each morning because that’s when the last bar closed. Though I couldn’t figure out why, until I met Buffy, Sunnydale bars stayed open till dawn. Apparently a lot of owners died when they wouldn’t stay open long enough for the “night people” and the rest got the idea. Any way my father always took full advantage of this when he could, when mom wasn’t home, and get as drunk as he could. My father was and still is a mean drunk and if I was still around when he got back I’d get the crap beat out of me. Lucky for me Sunnydale sunrise is early because I used to have to hide outside in the park or in a tree or just anywhere I could in those days. If it weren’t early I would have been vampire food a lot earlier.

‘I’d been vampire food. Hmm, not many people can say that because they’re buried six feet under. Wish I couldn’t either.’ With a sigh I picked up my cereal bowl and headed to the sink. The thoughts of my family always get me all confused. My Mom was a big time attorney so she was always busy and never really noticed how bad Dad drunk. Especially since he only did the diehard drinking when she was away on a case. That’s when he’d yell and scream and hit me and he’d always blame my bruises and broken bones on fights with the other boys. I never told her the truth because Dad told me that he’d hurt her if I did. He knew I’d do anything for mom. So mom put me in self-defense class while my father was against it. Totally the reverse of the usual as my instructor told me once. I think the only reason Dad protested was he wanted it to be easy to beat on me.

My Mom was never like other moms she never really had much time to pay attention to me and so to keep me busy when I was younger she’d give me a book to read out of her show library. You know those libraries packed with books that people never read and just have to show others that they have one? Well ours actually got used. When I’d finish one book my mom would blindly reach into the shelves and pull me out another one. Then she’d buy me something or do something with me no matter how busy she was. I’d hand her my finished book and she smile down at me with her brightest smile that made me feel that every thing would be all right. I must of read every book in our library some more than once. I know I read Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” at least three times. Sometimes it wasn't even a book that I got. She’d sometimes get her cases mixed in with the books but the was okay I had already read all her legal books. I know more about the criminal law system then most lawyers.

Shaking of the memories I decided to head down and see if my new teachers were up yet I’d been sitting at my table reminiscing for... I glanced down at my watch 45 minutes so it was almost six. My twisted sense of humor made itself know. ‘Hey if they weren’t up already then them being waken up by their new student would be a great way to begin the day.’

Methos



‘Some times I really hate Richie.’ He is always up on 4:45 on the dot. Every morning! Even when he doesn’t have an alarm clock. I can hear him moving around when he wakes and it wakes me up too. He’s very quiet about it and sometimes I sleep through it but most of the time I don’t. Takes me a while to get back to sleep after he’s up and I wish Richie would break that habit. When I asked one day why he does it and he shrugged, looked at me sheepishly, and totally avoided the question. I didn’t push. Richie usually doesn’t go silent but when he does I know it’s bad.

Richie had left an hour ago because he didn’t want to keep me up, so being woken yet again by the knock at the door considerably annoyed me. My clock read 5:59 and I groaned cursing all the world’s early risers. I didn’t feel a buzz but I didn’t approach the door any less cautiously after all some immortals have been know to hire mortal henchmen. Henchmen that word always made me think of super villains not real people.

I hate mornings. I really hate mornings. Noon is a much better time of day and no matter how many people tell me the early bird gets the worm I still see no reason to wake before 12:00.

Pulling the door open I am totally shocked to see the kid, Xander, standing outside the door. He’s rubbing his temples but stops when he looks at me. Smiling he says, “Now I know why you call it a buzz.” And walks past me. ‘Now this is an interesting development.’ I think pulling my jaw off the floor.

Shaking off my shock I look intently at Xander who had sat down on the same bed that he had woke on yesterday. “Kid how did you do that?”

He looked confused for a second. “Do what?”

I slowly resumed me previous seat also and realizing that he didn’t know what I was talking about I explained. “When you felt my buzz kid I didn’t feel yours.”

I could practically see the wheels turning in the kid’s head. He was thinking it over and fast too. Suddenly he snapped his fingers and stood up saying, “I got it.” Then started pacing back and forth. “I noticed several things this morning you know. 1) The sun doesn’t burn me like it should a vampire.” He gestured outside to the sun brightly streaming down. “2) I can eat real food not just blood. Which I greatly appreciate let me tell you. And 3) I have a reflection. So it stands to reason that if some of the things that are true to vampires don’t apply to me that therefore some of the is true for immortals won’t be for me either. My immortality blocks parts of my vampirism and my vampirism blocks parts of my immortality.”

Now I was rubbing my temples. I could feel a major headache coming on. “Kid I think you are going to confuse a lot of people.”

He gave me a half grin, “I already do.” As an after thought he asked. “Would you stop calling me kid?” I just grinned.

Richie

Even the restaurants in this town suck. Having woken up at 4:45 like always I found even less to do than I usually do. When you wake up as early as I do there isn’t much for you to do when everyone else is asleep. Especially when your travelling companion doesn’t like to get up before noon but I usually can find something. Not in this town. I decided to go back to the hotel being up early for once wouldn’t kill Methos and I was getting seriously bored.

He asked once why I wake up so early. I didn’t know what to say to him. I mean how do you tell someone that you learned to wake up early enough to evade your foster parent’s groping hands? My terror at waking up to feel the person that is supposed to take care of you and protect you fondling you is still strong enough to make me get up before 5:00. That’s when Mr. Jenson used to get home from work dead drunk. I learned to get up and be somewhere else before he got home so not to get caught by him. Lived with that perv for only six months but after that I can never sleep past 4:45 I just can’t. And I don’t know how to tell Methos that so I just shrugged and changed the subject wishing for not the last time that my childhood had not been so fucked up.

Finally spotting the hotel I pushed the memories of my past out of my mind. There is no time for the past when you have to deal with the present. I can feel two buzzes coming from our room but I could tell from the strength that it had to be Methos and Xander unless some other really strong immortals had arrived in town over night. The one felt a little muffled like it was wrapped in cotton but I put that down to my imagination. Xander must be an early bird too. Methos would never get up by… looking at my watch it read only six.

Methos is not going to be in a good mood. ‘Ah well, he’ll get over it. I hope.’

Methos

Feeling exasperated I went to open the door. Richie was back. I guess I should have been relived but I was when the first words out of Richie’s mouth were “So I see you haven’t killed him yet.” I was blocking his view of the room so there was no way that he could actually see Xander meaning that he had felt him. ‘Curiouser and curiouser.’

The kid was rubbing his temples again when I turned around and just shrugged at my raised eyebrow. Apparently he had heard Richie too.

“Richie could you feel Xander?” I asked while we headed into the room.

He looked at me confused. “Of course I did. Why do you ask?”

“Because I didn’t.”

It took a minute for this to sink in. He groaned and sank in to a chair putting a hand over his eyes. “Why me? Ok when I walked up I felt two buzzes but one was kinda muffled. I just thought it was my imagination again.”

“Don’t worry about it Richie,” Xander said, “I think I need to be some what normal.” He frowned. “Well as normal as an vampire/immortal can be.”

I decided to change the subject. “Well Kiddies we’re leaving this dump today. This town is no place to train. I mean come on even drunk bums will notice a bunch of people fighting with swords.”

“So where will we go?”

I smiled. “To a place where no one cares if you’re weird as long as you have money. To a place where weird occurrences happen every other hour. Where you can walk around half naked as long as you say it’s the latest fad. Where I happen to own a house. Boys we’re going to L.A.”

“I’ll start packing,” Xander said standing up to leave. “Just about anywhere has got to be better than here.”

He had his hand on the door when Richie said, “Wait what if the sun burns you!”

The kid just smiled and said, “It won’t. How do you think I got in?”

***

Chapter II: Ah, L.A.

(What the heck it’s close enough to Venice)

Two months later

Xander

I wiped the sweat out of my eyes, while trying to dodge Adam’s sword. Learning sword work was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Adam told me when we started that strength isn’t everything in a fight there’s also tactics and speed and agility. Mostly I already knew from fighting the way stronger demons that hang out at home but I still was surprised at how much I had to learn. When I spar with Adam four out of five times I end up on my ass. Though I get my licks in first. I tend to beat the crap out of him. But since he has a lot more experience with a sword fighting than me I usually end up with my ass as grass. Though I don’t know how much more experience he actually has because Adam won’t tell me his exact age. I can understand that seeing as how, it seems immortals, accumulate power with age. I think that Adam’s fairly old since duh he’s teaching both Richie and I. Then there is the fact that Richie likes to call Adam “Old Man”. Richie and I, well, we’re pretty much even. Which means we pretty much knock the hell out of each other when we go at it. Richie’s a fairly new immortal like me so with my vampiric enhancements and his few years on me we're almost but not totally equal.

Right now I'm fighting with Adam and he’s just pulled one of his tricks. Throwing in a new move that I haven’t seen before. We’ve been fighting this fight for over 30 minutes and even I feel tired. My vampire strength, speed, and stamina come in handy when fighting with Adam though I wish I didn’t have them. They are a constant reminder of the fact that: I am not normal. Immortality I can ignore most of the time but not my vampirism. New shit pops up everyday. I find it pretty ironic now. I used to feel like I was useless when I was with the Scoobies because I had nothing special to contribute. I was donut boy. Now I wish that I was just plain old Xander again. Because even if I had it rough before I found out that Buffy’s right having a lot of power ain’t worth jack shit if everyone wants you dead.

Reminiscing isn’t the best thing to be doing between sword parries and I find it impossible to dodge this new move Adam’s thrown in because of my lack of attention. I may have been able to handle it if I had been paying more attention to the fight but now... I can’t block either or I’ll end up in a deliberate trap. I take the third option and end up with Adam’s sword in my gut but with my sword at his throat. “There can be only one.” I said as I died.

Taking the sword was no big deal as a mortal I had taken stupid risks all the time. Some how my hunches always paid off. Well almost always. I see a glimmer of approval in Adam’s eyes then the world goes black.



Methos

I have to admit it the kid’s sword work impresses me. Most immortals even after a couple centuries don’t like to die to win and this mere kid who had only been training for a couple months understood that sometimes the only way to live is to die. Like I said impressive, especially in light of the way he acts when he’s not training. He is one of the biggest goof balls I have ever known but he seems to take training deadly seriously. Xander is a strange combination of clown and warrior and I can’t help but wonder how he can maintain that balance.

I hear clapping accompanied by a buzz. I didn’t worry even if it isn’t who I think we’re on holy ground.

“He got you.” It’s Richie all right and he’s grinning. “He’s getting better everyday.” He winced at the fatal wound. “That had to hurt. How long do you think it will take to heal?”

“Not long the kid heals fast.” Richie nodded.

“You know he royally creeps me out sometimes.” I frowned. “Especially when he gets all fangy, but then again I think that creeps him out too.”

“I’ve noticed that also. Probably has to do with his past experiences ay?” Richie and I winced in unison as we recalled the tale our young friend had told us of his life. Xander’s tale had been bad with hell demons, sociopaths, bug people, possessions, hordes of vampires, and much, much more but it had also had deeply impressed us. I mean how many people can say they’ve been fighting the powers of darkness since they were sixteen? That they’d gone up against things hundred of times stronger than them and come out of it alive? Sure most immortals lead less than normal lives but that’s usually after they actually become immortals and after they’ve finished puberty. Some of the things I would have had trouble believing if didn’t see them every night when we go out hunting. Which is another story.

We started hunting down L.A.’s demon population after Xander casually mentioned that demons and vamps usually hang out in cities and that L.A. probably had quite a few I decided that they would be a good way to practice. After all you don’t have to worry about hurting them and vampires are more like real humans than a dummy. It also would be a good thing for the town. I planned it so we would split up after the first night and Xander had showed us the ropes. Xander said I was a sadistic bastard when I explained exactly what we’d be practicing, how to make um hurt like they’ve never hurt before so you can win, and asked if we were going to keep score. He grinned while he said it though and not a nice grin either. I returned it.

It was a great idea. People work harder they get all competitive. So I set up some simple rules. The rules were if you’re to busy trying to get kills to save a life, well you lose more than your kills. If you need help on a kill everyone shares in the kill. Things like that.

Turned out the splitting up thing didn't work out too well either we do better as a team, pack hunting our prey but hey, all my ideas can't be gems. To my surprise I have trouble keeping up with the kid. He knows what he’s doing. Right now his score is 55 mine is 52 and Richie’s is 47 Richie’s still a little ticked about that but he’s catching up. Xander was right L.A. does have a big vampire population and we’ve barely made a dent in it. Along with its monster population, not all being demons, our nights are pretty busy.

Xander

‘Damn that hurts.’ Groaning I sat up. Two buzzes hit me as I revived. Opening my eyes I quickly jumped into a defensive stance I only relaxed when I saw it was only Richie with Adam. Adam blinked at me and I tried to figure out why. Then I realized that I was Grred. Quickly I shifted back feeling disgusted with myself. Shaking the feeling off I smirked to cover my feelings. “Ah guys I didn’t know you cared.” Seeing the blood that covered me from my death I pushed myself off the floor. Richie smiled back at me as I got up.

“But Xander we don’t. I was just waiting for you to wake so I can kick your ass later to night.”

“You’ll have to wait a little longer. I’m going to go change since some one came along and ruined my shirt.” ‘Immortality sure is tough on the wardrobe. My workout clothes are full of holes. Though my two sparring partner’s aren’t fairing much better.’

“Hey don’t look at me,” Methos said rising up his hands in a show of his harmlessness, which brought the bloody sword he used to kill me with into view. At Richie and my pointed stares he revised his first statement. “Okay do look at me, but you’re the one that made the move kid."

“Yep, I did.” I smirked at him as I ascended the stairs. I heard Methos mumble when he thought I was out of hearing range ‘He’s getting way too cocky.’ And I heard Richie snort then reply ‘You’re just saying that because he beat you’. ‘Damn straight.’ was the last thing I heard before I really got out of range. My senses increased about ten fold because of my little “accident” with sharp and pointy objects and I’ve learned they can come in handy and have been working on developing their different aspects. I learned long ago to make use of everything that could come in handy, but learning to use my vampire abilities still makes me queasy.

Sighing I change in to my hunting outfit. It’s not what a person who’s seen too many movies would think a “bad ass vampire hunter” would wear. You know the sunglasses, the baggy clothing, and the big clunky boots. No when your hunting vamps you got to play it smart, I learned that in all my years playing second string to Buffy. Sunglasses reflect even the tiniest bit of light immediately giving away you location plus they make everything darker and since your hunting at night they would make it near impossible to see jack-shit. Baggy clothes catch on things, make it harder to move, and make more noise a definite no-no. Clunky boots, do I even have to explain it? Make way too much noise, make for bad footing, and less effective fighting. No what I wear is nothing like that. I wear all black or really dark colors that’s about the only thing the movies do have right, but what idiot ever thought that a fighter would wear leather? To constraining that’s for sure and hard as hell to fix once ripped, which happens a lot. My clothes tonight are matte black nothing shiny they’re tight but not so tight that I can’t move. I wear soft-soled thieves’ shoes. They’re hard to come by. Custom made to look like regular shoes but don’t make a whisper of movement if you walk right.

One of my Dad’s girlfriends after my mother died was a thief. She liked me a lot and taught me some of her tricks. I got the feeling that I’m the reason she stuck around so long since my dad is good to look at but not much in the personality department. Any way she told me who her supplier was and I told Adam and Richie about her. To say the least hey were impressed and so was I. I’d never actually met Terri before but she sure knew her stuff. Outfitted us at half price too when she found out her ‘old friend’ sent us to her. Terri’s was where I got most of my outfit, most of my other clothes too since when I left Sunny-D I didn’t take too much with me.

Back to my night time attire, everyone’s seen those long sweeping trench coats that the baddies and the goodies for that matter wear, right? If it were up to me I wouldn’t wear that either. I hate it when those self- righteous pricks do that walking in to the wind shit. You know where their coat flaps around them as they walk away? Probably jealousy now that I think about it. I mean before I knew I wasn’t a super hero or super villain and that meant I had no right to wear the coat because I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. The thing is that I now I can. When that vamp killed me he pretty much insured that I’d be wearing a coat of one form or another for the rest of my unnaturally long life and I now have the badass attitude to pull off the coat sweep. And once again I find I don’t want what I wanted before. The idea disgusts me because it reminds me of what I have become.

But like with my abilities I can’t afford to let my feelings get in the way of an opportunity. Because long coats are just too practical to this lifestyle to abandon. Both Richie and Adam have taught me the little tricks to using my coat to hide my sword from view and besides that they are very good for hiding other things in too, like guns. All those nights alone in my room with nothing to do gave me plenty of time to familiarize myself with just about every type of weapon known to man from a simple six shooter to a air tank missile. Hey, everybody’s got to have a hobby. They also taught me how to sew in the invisible sheath so I can adapt any new coat I may wear. I never thought that my learning to sew would help extend my life. But being immortal is a lot tougher than just the sword work you also have to learn to blend in, to change ids, and so on. So I wear a long black coat but I don’t have to like it. It’s starting to grow on me though.

Something I’ve learned in my life is it pays to be paranoid and Adam has just reinforced that idea. Richie had a harder time adapting to the always be prepared motto that Adam seems to go by than me but he’s changing too. I’ve gathered that Richie’s first teacher was some all out Boy Scout who was really good with a sword but had no real sense. Not that either of them really talks about it but they do make references some times and that’s how the guy comes across to me. Richie’s been learning some of the stuff I have right along with me. Like that you should always wear more weaponry then just your sword. Right now I’ve got knives all over me in hidden sheaths. After Adam found out what good hand eye coordination I have he made a present up for me, a set of knives and their sheaths that can be hidden anywhere and everywhere on the body. Then he taught me all about their usage and so not to leave Richie out he gave him the same teachings also. I remember Adam said to us during our knife training ‘Knife fighting isn’t pretty it’s gutter fighting. You slash where it hurts and you try to inflict the most damage you can with out you getting cut into little bits into the process. Throwing your knife at some one right off the bat isn’t a good idea unless you have a true shot cause you just threw away your weapon. No throwing a knife at some one may look heroic but heroes more often than not end up dead because their target moves. ‘No I don’t want you to be heroes I want you to live.’

I also carry two Glock 9mm pistols in shoulder harnesses. Bullets may not kill a demon or vampire but they sure as hell can hurt them and usually slow them down. Besides monsters aren’t the only evil things that walk or crawl through the night. And then there were the Green Berets’ memories I picked up that Halloween, not having a side arm nearby makes me feel naked. In Sunnydale I could ignore it, I felt semi-safe there. It was my territory I guess but here I always feel on edge plus the feeling is stronger not as muddled as it was before. That’s another thing that my little trip to the land of the dead changed, the memories of that little Halloween incident are now clear as a bell where they were foggy before. Methos said it was probably because my Quickening latched onto the memories when it was still dormant because that’s what Quickie’s are supposed to do; store the memories and power of the loser. So mine did it with them because it couldn’t tell the difference between a Quickie and a spell. The memories were there but dormant with my immortality and that’s why they weren’t clear until my death. I guess that sort of makes sense. I must admit that sometimes I find these memories just as disconcerting as my vampiric abilities.

That leads me to the last bit of my weaponry. My sword. Drawing it I recall the day I received it. Adam got a big kick out of giving me this particular sword. I can still remember his smile as he handed it to me. He told me he picked it up in Japan, he wouldn’t tell me exactly when, and that it had belonged to a samurai he defeated. Apparently the samurai thought that Adam was a demon and had been determined to defeat him. ’Too bad he lost some times I think maybe Adam is a crony of Satan.’ At the time he had thought the design on the handle to be very bizarre so he kept it. Katanas often were ornate but the design on this samurai’s sword he had never seen the likes of before. It had what appeared to be a deformed bunch of fierce snarling dogs inlaid in gold twined around the black handle. They were so realistically rendered that they almost looked like they were ready to run off the handle in pursuit of their prey. Still it was the blade that was the real eye catcher. It was long, 3-feet, and some how the smith had been able to give the metal a reddish tint as if it was perpetually covered in blood. Now it must have been Fate once again deciding to have a laugh at my expense because how else would Adam have killed just the right guy to get just the right sword with just the right design to poke fun at a student he wouldn’t have for another thousand years or so. I mean come on how many swords out there have hyenas on the hilt? Ha! I never thought there’d be one! Hyenas aren’t the most loveable creatures after all.

Re-sheathing my sword I checked myself I the mirror. Nope can’t see any of the hidden weapons. Good. Well time to go kill some evil blood-sucking fiends. Smiling I headed down the stairs where Richie and Adam were waiting, they had no idea what they're getting into tonight.

Richie

Methos is a great guy - most of the time - but he can be really aggravating. After Xander went upstairs Methos started doing the one thing he knows drives me batty, singing - in German. Xander says it’s worse than Klingon opera and after finding out what the hell that was I have to agree with him. I can’t wait till Xander gets down here and we can go just so Methos will stop.

“Do you have to do that?” I finally asked not able to stand it when he started the second chorus.

“Yep.” He said and started again. I mentally started banging my head against a wall. Suddenly Xander was behind me. My heart jumped three feet and took up residence in my throat. 'Damn he’s good at that!'

Xander nodded to us. “Let’s go.” ' He’s too quiet. Oh, no. He’s in full hunt mode. Xander’s really breaking out the big guns, wonder why?' Glancing at Methos I can see that he’s come to the same conclusion. 'Shit.'

Four hours later

Richie

Well nobody died. Well nobody who wasn’t dead already. A couple people got hurt but no one died, that we know of. After four hours of almost constant hunting I feel like I’ve been ten rounds in the ring. Falling onto the nearest piece of furniture, a leather chair, I rested my head on the arm. Lifting my head up I glared at Xander who was doing like wise.

“How in the hell did you know it was going to be that bad?”

“Vampire New year.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“Nope.”

“Oh shit.” I dropped my head back on the chair.

“Yep.”

Not bothering to move this time I ask. “Where’s Adam?”

“He said something about a shower. He did get pretty well covered in that slime.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“I don’t have the energy to move. I’m going to sleep.”

“Good idea.” After that the only sound that could be heard was snoring and the sound of running water. Adam almost drowned when he fell asleep standing up in the shower but the rest of the early morning was quiet except for our snoring.

Xander

This is what I get for trying to get one up on Adam. ‘Staring out at the rooftops of L.A. is all well and good and it is a great view but hell, patrolling alone is boring.’ As punishment for the shock of Vampire New year Adam decided to make me patrol by myself for a week and none of the vampires I kill count. All the work and none of the points, 'Shit. I'm going to get them for this.'

Hearing a loud scream I swore. 'I'm really going to get them.' Turning in the direction of the scream I started running and I didn't stop when I got to the edge of the roof. There aren't too many tall buildings in Sunnydale but once I saw Angel do what I'm just about to, that's what gave me the idea to make the roofs of L.A. my personal highway. Other vampires like to use the same route so some times I catch them off guard. Drives Richie and Adam crazy watching me jump from roof to roof. I think they're part jealous part worried as hell.

Coming up on where the scream had originated I jumped off the roof. I don't know exactly how I do it I just sort of slow my momentum and float down. I raced around the corner hoping that I wasn't too late. My gut was screaming to me that something about this was wrong but I ignored it. 'What does my gut know anyway? It let me eat that bad sushi a week ago.' Then I rounded the corner and found a .44 special pointed at my head and Drusilla at the other end. 'A lot apparently.'

Dru smiled at me and said, "You've been a bad doggy guarding my prize." The last thing I heard were six rounds as they slammed into my body. The last thing I felt was the agony and then there was nothing as one of the bullets exited out the back of my skull.

Drusilla kicked Xander's now lifeless body making sure he was dead. She pouted when she realized he really was. Looking at the gun in her hands she murmured to it, "You're too quick." and dropped it next to the bloody mess she had created. Skipping away Drusilla hummed to herself happy at the thought of leaving what was left of Xander to rot.

Angel

We'd been hearing rumors for weeks that something big was going to go down, if only we could figure out what. The local vampires and demons are all scared while Cordy, Doyle, and I are just confused. We had been trying to dig up something from my contacts but nobody will talk. Out of sheer desperation we tried deciphering information from old prophecy books. I may have earned the nickname 'Cryptic Guy' from the Scoobies back in Sunnydale but even I can't figure out some of the cryptic wording the prophets love to use in their books. Makes me wish for Giles, that man was a walking decrypto ring.

Cordelia threw down the book she had been reading for 2 hours in frustration. I looked up from my copy of 'Demons and Gollums' by Thorson a particularly dry book with so many allusions to previous works that I had to look some thing up every minute or so. "Angel we're never going to find anything in these... these books of insanity." Personally I agreed with her but I knew this was our last recourse and so did she. She just wanted reassurance that we were doing the right thing, so I opened my mouth to give it to her but before I could say anything she continued in true Queen C fashion. Shaking what was once a carefully manicured nail at me Cordelia said, "No, don't you dare tell me that we have to keep looking. I've been reading for 6 hours straight. My mind is on shut down. My fingers are so tired from turning pages they feel like they're going to fall off and my nails are wrecked. Tell me again why I get to stay here with you being research girl and Doyle gets to cruise the bars."

I sighed. "I've already explained it Cordelia. Doyle is known in those bars, people are more likely to talk freely with him there. They don't trust me because they know what and who I am and with you, well they're more likely to stare, you don't exactly fit in to the whole bar scene."

"So I have to stay here because I'm not a known die hard drunk?" She gave a little shake of her head. "Wait you don't even have to say it Angel. I'm being unfair, its just that sometimes I feel so..." Sighing Cordelia picked the volume she had thrown down before. Instead of finishing her sentence she change the subject. "Better get back to work." I smiled at her. I don't think I'll ever fully understand Cordelia.

‘Damn, now I have to start reading my own book again.’ I just barely kept a frown off my face. I hate reading this nonsense.

Drusilla

I was still disappointed about how quick the toy that beloved had given me ended my fun but Miss Edith was whispering how much more fun we were going to have when the world ended.

Beloved was waiting for me at our place. I ran into his arms. He smelled of blood and death. The smell reminded me of my Angel. Spike never smelled like this he always smelled of blood and soap. Remembering the toy I pulled back and stared into the deep his brown eyes, "It was too quick." I said accusingly jabbing my finger into his chest, his gorgeous chest. I almost melted into him again then remembered I was angry with him.

"I know my dear heart. But it is time now to collect our prize. And his death will not be so quick."

Pouting I looked up into his dark eyes. "Promise?"

Kissing me on the nose he murmured "Promise." and pulled me back into his embrace. Then turning to the vampires we had amassed who had been watching our exchange trembling he ripped off one of their heads. As it turned to dust in his hands he said the sweetest thing. "No one stares at me and my lady. Now let us go and collect the last piece of the puzzle." 'Spike never said such nice things.'

My mind raced at the thought of the fun we would be having. "I forgive you beloved." He smiled at me and I smiled back. 'The streets are going to run with blood.' Giggling I clapped my hands.

Methos

Immortals have long debated over what is the greatest machine invented. I know that McLeod thinks it’s the airplane and Amanda thinks that it’s the Jacuzzi, me I hold out on the microwave oven truly a life saving device. Richie agrees with me, we'd never survive in L.A. without it and take out. When we talk about it Xander just shakes his head and mutters to himself that people thought he was crazy. Richie and I decided to spend our first free night kicking back watching T.V. and vegging out. Xander gets to pull solo shifts for the stunt he pulled with Vampire New Year and we get a break. I really like that kid.

Careful not to spill any of the popcorn I flopped down on the coach next to Richie. We had rented some movies from the local Block Buster and I was looking forward to seeing some of my favorites again along with some of the newer movies. Thus the popcorn and the microwave. Richie smiled as I sat down and hit the play button; I was so lost in 'The Thomas Crown Affair' that I never noticed the vampires surrounding us. The first indication I had that we were about to be attack was when one of the vampires stumbled over my 13th century desk and swore loudly as 200 pounds of dead weight fell on his foot.

I jumped to my feet and reached for my sword swearing mentally at my lack of readiness. It was too late they already had us surrounded. We fought valiantly but they had numbers on their side. I'm not sure how many we killed but I can say for sure that there were a lot fewer of them going out then there were coming in. When we were finally disarmed and being held back a woman who had been only watching the fighting swayed towards us moving to music that only she could hear. Her floor length purple dress clung to her as if it were a second skin and swished against the stone floors as she walked. She had black hair, and blue eyes that were filled with insanity. The moment I looked into those eyes I knew we were in some deep shit. She started caressing Richie's face and I could see him flinch away from her touch.

I was wondering how all these vampires had gotten into my house uninvited when a buzz came into range. 'It just goes from bad to worse.' The immortal was a man he came strolling down the stairs stopping midway to survey the room. The first clue that our newest uninvited guest had a few screws loose was his clothing. No one sane person walks around in this day and age in an 1800’s frock coat, leggings, and buckled shoes. The next was the completely mad smile playing on his lips. The absolute dead give away that the lights were on but nobody was home was the total lack of emotion in his eyes. It was like the life had been sucked out of him. ‘It’s like looking into Kronos’ eyes all over again. Bloody hell we are in so much trouble.’

“Darling we have our prize now.” The insane woman giggled and turned to the man on the stairs.

“Which one do we want?” Her voice was like broken music. It would have been lovely so rich and melodic if not for the insanity layered into it.

“We want Methos beloved, the oldest man still alive. That one.” He pointed directly at me. I felt my throat close up. ‘Damn! I always knew that being the oldest was going me killed.’ I snorted, if I wasn’t the oldest than I wasn’t alive anymore and I wasn’t going to that extreme to get rid of the title. ‘Why the hell couldn’t Presses keep his head a little longer?’ The snort seemed to draw our guest’s attention. “Oh, how rude of me not to introduce myself. I am Quinn Mallory and I’m afraid I’ll be your death.” He switched his gaze to the vampires holding me. “Bring him.”

“What do we do with the other one?” Mallory smiled.

“Drain him then take his head.” He turned holding his arm out for the vampiress who gleefully took it and they strolled out together. Before I could act one of my captors bashed me over the head and everything went dark.

Richie

The moment I saw Mister Looney Tunes in his ancient clothes I knew we were in deep shit. He had insane stamped on his forehead and the crazy lady in purple well she was just the icing on the cake. I’ve known my share of crazies, heck I’ve been kidnapped by enough of them, so I knew right off those two were right off their rockers. When I heard what was planned for me I knew I couldn’t just wait around any more hoping for a more opportune moment. It was now or never. They had just dragged an unconscious or dead Methos out the door leaving me with the remaining eight vampires that had survived the attack. Most people that know me wouldn’t think I could do what I was planning at this moment but hey what’s life without its little surprises? I suddenly went limp off balancing the two vampires holding me. I took full advantage of this, Methos had taught me a lot in the last few months and I knew I’d have to use all of it to escape with my head still attached. First I broke the one vamp’s knee with a quick kick, ignoring his cries of pain, as he fell I snapped his neck. That shut him up. Moving on to his partner who had recovered and was now rushing me, I did a scissors kick to his neck taking him down to his knees. Then with another quick twist breaking his neck since the vampires had divested me of my stakes. The rest of the vampires rushed me. Stupid on their part. Five vampires later I felt a blade enter my gut. ‘Maybe not so stupid.’ I had just enough strength to pull it out and kill the last vampire before I bleed to death.

***

Chapter III And Life Goes On

(So does the beat but that’s another story)

Xander

Trapped. Cold. No air. Must get out. Slamming. Air rushing in. Freedom. Hunger asserted itself now that freedom had been achieved.

Deep hunger. Sniffing the air he followed the scent of food. It seemed to just be walking around. ‘Food shouldn’t be walking.’ The thought briefly broke through the haze surrounding Xander’s mind but was quickly buried. The realization behind it wasn’t though. Can’t eat the walking food. Turning from the temptation he headed to the smell of cold food. Ripping into the food. Not fresh. ‘Doesn’t matter.’ Hungrily drinking several bags of the food the haze slowly dissipated with each gulp.

I blinked my eyes to find myself standing in what appeared to be a big, dark storage closet. I had no idea how I got here. The last thing I remembered was Drusilla shooting me. There was something in my mouth my hand was gripping whatever it was. So I pulled it out and found myself staring at an empty blood bag. Looking down I found a dozen or so more bags littering the floor. ‘Oh, crap.’ I staggered back my mind not processing what was happening. I ran into the wall and slid down it. That’s when I noticed that I was covered in blood. It drenched the shreds of my shirt and was splattered over every bit of me. I’ve seen a lot of blood over the years but the sight of it caked onto me made me want to lose my lunch. I was pretty sure not all of it was mine. I closed my eyes and as the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I brought my hands up to my face only to find that it too was covered in blood and so were my hands. My game face was more defined than ever and I could feel the hardness of the ridges. Like I had touched a hot stove I pulled my hands away and wrapped them around my legs. I started rocking back and forth lost in oblivion, crying.

Nurse Arson

Tonight had been a night from hell. Three gun shot wounds, two car accidents, one guy got his hand caught in the washer now that was disturbing, but the worst had been the kid who had been shot to pieces. He had six rounds emptied in to him, one right through the brain, and yet he was still clinging to life some how. It had been horrible; the poor boy was only 16 or 17 years old. Dr. Lindsey took one look at him and she could tell the boy didn’t have a chance, all of us could. Anything we could have done would only have prolonged his suffering. With all the damage to the brain even if we had kept him alive he would have been a vegetable for the rest of his life. But it was so sad looking down at that boy who’s body just didn’t know when to quit, he could easily been my brother James lying there shot up in some senseless piece of violence. The officer who had found his body had hoped he would pull through, similar brutal deaths have been happening a lot lately and I guess she wanted to find out who shot him. Kate is a good woman she really knows her stuff.

Sighing I collected my things to leave one more night in the mad house. On the way out I walked by the blood storage room out of habit. We used to get a lot of break-ins for some reason until people started hanging around watching for the thieves. I was going on auto-pilot exhausted from a hard day of work when I heard it, crying. I admit I hear a lot of crying everyday, anybody who works in a hospital does, but this crying cut right to my heart. It felt like I was the one crying, like it was my pain only not mine. It was a very strange feeling. Cautiously I peered around the door and there on the floor was a huddled figure rocking back and forth. I felt another wave of pain wash over me when I looked at that hunched over form. Slowly moving in, as not to startle whomever this person was, I knelt down in front of them. Only inches away I could now tell it was a he and not a she. I reached out to him and whispered, “Shush now it’s alright.” The boy startled raising his head out of his arms and by his jerky movements I could tell he was scared though it was too dark to see his face. I laid my hand on his knee trying to reassure him. His knee was covered in something sticky and half dried but I gave it no heed after all I’m a nurse we touch things that normal people wouldn’t with a ten-foot pole. There was something slightly disturbing about the boy’s eyes it was like they were glittering though I don’t know how that could be because there was almost no light in the closet.

He said in a shaky voice, “You know a lot of people seem to be saying that to me lately.” ‘This one’s a joker I can just tell.’

“They’re right.” I said soothingly. ‘Oh, he reminds me so much of James.’ I had been taking care of my little brother ever since our mother died two years ago. In this scared kid I could see my James the day he heard that mom had finally given up the ghost.

He seemed to lose all his humor and sounded so sad when he calmly replied. “I don’t think so.” Then he looked straight at me. I’m not sure how I could tell since I couldn’t see three inches in front of my face but I knew his eyes were locked on mine. Then I was lost in a whirlwind of red and yellow falling and not able to catch myself. The last thing I heard before the lights went out was a whisper. “I’m sorry. You seem really nice.”

Xander

I walked out the front door wearing the nice nurse’s lab coat and scrubs acting like they always do in the movies, like I belonged there. It was a good thing that nurse was such a tall woman otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. My clothes, which I thankfully noticed they hadn’t had time to remove, were covered in blood and shredded by bullets and I doubt that I could have just walked out with the state they were in. There also wasn’t any ink on my fingers so I assumed they didn't have time to fingerprint me. Also a good thing since my prints are on file. ‘That reminds me I should really hire a hacker to get rid of those for me.’ An oversight I admit.

Taking a deep breath I hailed a taxi. I had to keep moving. I had to figure this all out. I had to keep the panic that was threatening to turn my mind in to a gibbering, useless wreck at bay. The panic is not a new feeling to me. The first time when my dad hit me, the day I found out my mother had died in a plane crash, when I had to kill my best friend Jesse, every time some hell demon threatened one of my friends, when I woke up to find out that I had become the thing that I hated most those were some of the many times I felt the panic reaching out for me. I was able to escape it every time but two and those two times were the worst in my life. I told the driver to take me home. I needed to figure everything out and I needed Adam and Richie to do it. Those two would steady me like my mother and the Scoobies had done before. True friends are hard to find yet I seem to collect um like stamps. I felt a smile tugging at my lips. ‘I guess the world’s not ending if I can still joke.’ Then I sobered remembered all the times when the world had been ending and I had still been making jokes. ‘Then again maybe not.’

We pulled up in front of the mansion and I paid the cabby in a sort of haze not really concerned with him. My mind was full of confusion trying to make sense of the last few hours trying to get my world back into order. I trudged up the steps to the mansion not really paying any attention. The moment I saw the front door I snapped out of it. It was broken in and hanging slightly a jar. Now totally on alert I drew my sword, which thankfully the hospital people hadn’t thought to search for they had taken my guns, and I gently pushed the door open. I didn’t like what I found, scattered weapons, up turned furniture, dust covering everything, and Richie lying in a pool of his own blood. ‘Oh, hell.’

Doyle

After leaving the lovely “Flaming Flamingo” I started staggering back to Angel Investigations. The ground didn’t seem to be in the same place every time I put my foot down and I had a headache the size of the Sahara, for once it wasn’t PTB induced. No this motherfucker was from pure alcohol. I had just spent the last two days cruising the bars trying to dig up info on some impending disaster that was prophesied. The problem was no one was talking. Every one is scared for some reason and they’re all clamed up. I tried every trick in the book but no deal. Finally I spotted our lovely office looking like heaven after the dives I just left. I’m not usually very picky about the places where I go to get drunk but the dives that I’d been in the last few days even I wouldn’t normally go into. Swaying I some how made it up the steps to the door, must have been an act of God, and got the door open. Angel and Cordelia looked up at my less than stealthily entrance. Standing in the door way I said, “’Ello Lucy I’m hoomme.”

Cordelia wrinkled her nose at the smell I was giving off. “Jeez, Doyle what’d you do drink the whole bar?”

I managed to get the few feet to the sofa and flopped down on it face first. My voice muffled I said, “Nope, just more than a few bottles out of about five of um.” I held up four fingers.

“Drunk.” She was answered by snoring. Getting up from her seat she cautiously poked him with a pencil. Cordelia turned to Angel and said, “I think he passed out.” Angel sighed.

“I’ll get the coffee, you get the water.” Cordelia’s grin could have lit several city blocks. She scampered off to the kitchen and returned with a pitcher of water. She then unceremoniously dumped it over Doyle’s head.

I woke up to cold water being poured all over me. Sputtering I rolled over and fell on the floor. When I looked up through my soggy bangs I saw my Princess smiling down at me. It was almost enough to make me forgive her. Almost. I was too drunk to retaliate now so I just glared at her as I pulled myself back onto the couch. Angel handed me a cup of “coffee” or at least the sludge that Cordelia tries to pass off as coffee. He was trying to hide it but I could see a smile tugging at the sides of Angel’s mouth. I tried to be angry with them but I understood probably better than most how sometimes you have to laugh to stop the crying. Sighing I took it and said, “So did you guys find anything new?” The tension had been relieved if only for a brief moment and I wasn’t going to begrudge them that just because my pride was hurt, and it was.

Cordelia took a deep breath then blew it out in a puff of air. “I’ve found nata, nothing, zip, zero. How about you Angel?”

Going back to his desk Angel picked up a book that had been lying open. “I haven’t found much only a cryptic prophecy concerning “...the oldest man still to walk the earth, who has been and cheated Death, will meet his final death at the hands of immortality...” The rest of the prophecy, what I can translate any way since the thing is in ancient Sumerian, is pretty vague going on about the end of earth.”

Cordelia wrinkled her brow. “So all we got to do is find some really old guy with a walker and stop the bad guys from getting their hands on him?”

“I’m afraid it won’t be that easy.”

Xander

I knew it would come down to this, some how I knew. Angel and I had never gotten along mostly because we were fighting over the same girl. We both thought we loved her. The thing is I’ve realized that while I do love Buffy it’s not the way I thought. I love her like a sister I want to protect her but I’m not in love with her. I love her but I’m not in love with her. Like what I feel for Wills only there was a healthy dose of lust in there for a while which is slightly disturbing. Ugh, I’m babbling to myself, doing a Willow. I know now what was the root of my problem with Deadboy but the thing is I still don’t like him. I respect him but I don’t like him. I never got to know him and what I do know about him doesn’t endear me to him. Plague of Europe and all that. Plus those wonderful months he spent torturing my friends. So I had been avoiding this very thing since the moment I found out exactly Angel was headquartered.

Looking at the shocked faces of Angel and Cordelia. I could tell that this was probably the last thing any of them expected. The guy on the couch, who looked about as smashed as you can get, just looked confused unlike Cordy and Deadboy who’s jaws were flapping in the wind. “Do I bloody know you?” He had a distinct Irish accent, which made me think fondly of Adam when he was drunk.

Still I couldn’t help but smirk. “Nope.”

“Xander what are you doing here?” Cordelia was never one to beat around the bush. I sighed this wasn’t going to be easy.

“We need your help.” ‘God I can’t believe I just said that.’

For a moment she just stood there shocked. Then she visibly shook it off. “Who is we? What do you need help with? Are you going to pay? And what did he mean by its not going to be that easy? What do you know about some old geezer that we don’t? Stop laughing at me...you dweeb!”

I couldn’t help it I was shaking with laughter. I lean up against a desk to keep from falling over. Richie smiled obviously without a clue but still amused at my insane behavior. “Oh, god Cordy its good to know that some things never change. Your just as pushy and tactless as you were in high school.” Cordelia just huffed and turned away from me.

“What do you want?” Those were the first words that Angel had said. He had been keeping quiet. Suddenly nothing was funny any more. I shot a glance at Richie and he nodded saying ‘they’re your friends you might as well tell them.’

Sighing I dragged one of the chairs filling the office over to the couch were everybody had been clustered before we showed up. Richie followed my example and as he was sitting I caught a whiff of something off the guy on the couch under all the alcohol. Whatever it was it wasn’t human. I shot a startled glance at the Irishman but didn’t comment after all I’m not totally human any more either and Angel had to know. He did have the same senses as me. If he trusted him then who was I to say anything? I took a deep breath, let it out then I started talking. “First of all this,” I waved to Richie, “is Richard Ryan otherwise known as Richie.” Richie glared at me. “As for what I want from you guys well I want you to help me, us rescue our teacher Adam Pierson otherwise known as Methos the oldest living immortal on the planet from an insane immortal named Quinn Mallory and an equally insane Drusilla. And no Cordelia we’re not going to pay.” Silence greeted me.

“Immortals?” Angel finally got out in his usually composed way.

Richie answered this time. “People who can’t die. Not vampires or demons just really, really long lived people. We kill each other in one on one combat for the power of Quickening in the sick cosmic joke called the Game.” Now it was my turn to glare at him. ‘Sure it was true, but shit.’

“We?” I wanted to throttle Richie. I wanted to throttle Angel to for that matter.

“Damn it Angel. Fine you want to know. I’m one of these immortals too. Richie and Adam found me after I died and started teaching me the basics. And now some crazy bastard of immortal has teamed up with Drusilla and has kidnapped my teacher. Well, I damn well want him back. Preferably with his head sill attached.” Richie gave me a pointed stare but I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t tell them I was not just a immortal but a vampire as well. I have a hard enough time dealing with it I’m not going to tell them as well. Today maybe the day for shocking revelations me finding out I could drink blood, me finding out my teacher is the oldest immortal on the planet, them finding out I was immortal but by god I wasn’t going to reveal that secret without it being drug out of me!

Cordelia looked slightly disgusted at this revelation. “And I actually kissed you?” I noticed a bit of movement from the guy on the couch.

Smirking at her I shot back, “And you enjoyed it baby.” Another twitch from couch potato. I caught the look on his face and immediately recognized it. I’d seen it often enough in my mirror. It was a mix of jealously and resignation. ‘Guess Cordy’s snared another one.’

“Enough you two. We have to find away to stop the world from ending.” Angel interrupted.

“Again.” Angel shot a glare at me. I seem to be getting a lot of those today. “O.K. Deadboy what do we do now?” He got up, picked up a heavy book from a stack of them, and dropped it on my lap.

“We research. And don’t call me Deadboy.”

“Oh, joy. Having high school flashbacks here.” I heard Richie snicker behind me. “Oh, shut up.”



Methos

The sound of incessant giggling woke me. The pounding in my head made me wish I hadn’t. I groaned. Picking myself off the floor I took stock of my surroundings. 1) I was in a cage, the big kind they use with Gorillas. 2) I was not only in a cage I was hanging in said cage twenty feet above the floor. 3) Across from me about fifteen feet away too far to jump even if I could get out of the cage was a platform. 4) Below me was a pile of human bodies and sitting on top of them was the crazy vampire who had taken me. I swallowed the bile rising in my throat. I have seen a lot of death in my five thousand years, hell I’d been Death for a thousand but I hadn’t seen such blatant disregard towards human bodies since Auschwitz. Their faces were contorted in masks of horror and pain that were evident even in death. The children amongst them were the worst; they looked like they had slowly been starved to death before the torture. The insane vampire was sitting on them like she was sitting on a mound of dirt not of human bodies. She was bent over giggling and talking to a doll but when I started moving around her head shot up and she stared directly at me. Her eyes held the same cloudy insanity of before but this time they were worse because they also contained lust.

Before I could blink she jumped straight up landing on the platform. I’d seen Xander do the same thing before but now I hated that ability because it meant she could jump over to my cage and do who knows what. She was still clutching her doll and she smiled at me the lust growing brighter in her eyes. I started backing up in my cage even though I knew there was nowhere to go. I could tell whatever she was going to do I wouldn’t enjoy it. Her smile just transformed into a grin. It was the grin of the cat who ate the canary.

Kate

I don’t know when my life became so screwed up. No, actually I do. It all started when I met Angel. Looking over the reports from Nurse Arson and the head corner at the hospital I wonder if maybe all of this is in my head. Maybe in reality I’m strapped down in a padded room muttering insane mumblings to my bellybutton. Pinching the bridge of my nose I wonder if maybe that would be better. I figure the kid was a vampire or demon and that nurse was lucky to be alive. There was nothing I could do though. What do I tell the Captain? I need an all points bulletin on a dead guy?

Once upon a time I thought I knew what was what. I was a good guy who went out and saved good people from the bad people of the world and monsters and demons were only fairy tales that mothers tell their children to keep them quiet. Boy, was I wrong. All of the little inconsistencies made sense after I found out there were vampires and demons out killing those good people I was trying to protect and that scared me. I didn’t like it. I still don’t in fact if I could I’d go swim in that delightful river of denial but I can’t. I can’t bury my head in the sand a hope that all of the things I now are true will go away just because I say so.

I can’t ignore the fact that something demonic has taken up residence in the Warrington warehouse. People have been disappearing from around that area for weeks. The fact is that I can’t just sit back and let people die so I find myself reaching for my jacket. I have to go for help and the only place I know to go for this kind of help is Angel Investigations.

Angel

Staring at Xander I tried to figure out what was bugging me about him. I noticed something different about Xander the moment he came in. The last time I saw him it was after the Ascension. He had been in charge of the students. I remember how impressed I was at the way he got all of the students to believe him about the mayor. I also remember being impressed by the calm and leadership abilities he showed. I was also very surprised. At the time the Xander I knew was a kind-hearted klutz. He was always getting knocked out in the beginning of a battle but the way he gathered those teenagers and taught them the basics to fighting in a few short hours… Well, it shocked the hell out of me. I remember thinking at the time that I might of underestimated him but after the battle he was back to his wiseass self. Xander to me was always the biggest mix of contradictions. He was the most loyal guy around. I think he would literally walk bare foot into hell for his friends. Yet he was also the most immature person I had ever known. One of the most annoying also. He had always seemed so insecure with himself yet totally confident in everyone else’s abilities. The difference I saw was in the way he carried himself. Every movement was deliberate. It was like he’s walked through the fire and come out stronger. What had worried me was what fire had forged these changes? Then I found out. Death has a way of making a person grow up. Still there was something different about him something I knew should be obvious yet I was missing it. Shrugging it off I looked back at the prophecy I was supposed to be reading determined to keep my mind on the job at hand.

Xander has always been unnerving so now should be no different but it is. I’ve known Xander a long time, certainly not as friends but I have known him a long, and I can tell there is something he’s not telling us. What I don’t know but whatever it is I can’t help but feel will be important.

Richie

I used to spend a lot of time in libraries when I was younger. I know what people would think. Me in a library? But that was what made it the perfect place to hide from street gangs. Libraries were the last place they’d look if they even knew where to look for one. So, I spent a lot of time around books and okay I read quite a bit, hell what else are you supposed to do in a library? The librarian would get suspicious if a person just came in and did nothing for hours on end. Plus books relieved the boredom. I can say though without a doubt that none of the libraries that I used to hangout in had books like this. ‘A Gorkos demon has three horns that act as an ant’s antennae does gathering information from the air. They are known to enjoy human brain as a delicacy and are prone to uncontrollable cravings for the a fore mentioned… Jeez, who finds out this stuff?’ I could feel my eyelids drooping. ‘Damn this material is boring.’ Rubbing my hands over my eyes I wished for something anything to interrupt so I would have an excuse to stop reading.

The door banged open answering my prayer. ‘Ask and you shall receive.’ Everyone’s head jerked up at our noisy guests entrance. She was in her mid- thirties, around 5’11, blonde, blue eyed, and most definitely a cop; everything about her screamed it. I shared a glance with Xander and he nodded in acknowledgement, he had seen it too.

“Kate.” I shot a glance at Angel obliviously he knew our new visitor. I was shocked when Xander told me about the dude. I mean I had been staking vampires for months and now he tells me there’s one in L.A. with a soul. I had asked, “What if I had staked him?” Xander just shrugged. I gathered he didn’t like the guy much. This happened after I had to fill him in why exactly we had to go save Methos ass. I didn’t have to tell him everything but I figured I might as well get everything out in the open now. Cause if this Quinn nut could find out that Adam was really Methos the oldest motherfucker on the planet he probably could find out about those crazy years in the Middle Ages while he was at it. I got to say though his reaction to finding out that Adam was really Methos the oldest of us five thousand years old and once one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was one I never expected. He shrugged. Damn, the guy just shrugged. He said, “The past is the past as long as it stays the past I have no problem with it. If he suddenly thinks horses have to make a come back and starts riding around in a mask killing people that is another thing.”

After I told him who the psycho of the month was and why he wanted Methos Xander got that look in his eye. Most people would mistake it for craziness but even though I’ve only known Xander for a few months I know it’s steel. When he gets that look in his eye it means he’s willing to do anything to make sure things turn out right. And I do mean any thing. That’s when he told me about Angel and how he had set up shop in L.A. after graduation. I didn’t ask how he knew where his detective agency was I really didn’t care. We set out as soon as we could change. It may sound slightly ridiculous after all our friend’s life was hanging in the balance and we went to change before we headed out to save him. The thing is I don’t think if we could walk around even in L.A. wearing E.R. scrubs and blood-covered clothes.

The detective swept the room taking in everybody. She stopped on Xander and the blood drained from her face. In a move so fast I almost missed it she drew her weapon and pointed it at Xander. ‘Oh, crap.’

“You’re dead. You were dead. The hospital said there was no way you could have survived. What are you? A vampire? Demon? What?”

“Me.” Xander pointed to himself pulling the innocent bit.

“Yeah you. What are you I saw your body full of holes. You were dead.” Obviously innocent wasn’t going to work.

“So I was dead. People don’t stay dead too much in the real world.”

Cordelia snorted, “Xander knock it off. We don’t have time for this shit. Kate he’s an immortal. They don’t die. Period.”

She turned her head to look at Cordy keeping her gun focused on me. “But he was dead. No pulse nothing.”

For a minute there Xander had been his usual joking self but now he looked weary again. He sighed and half shrugged. “It was only temporary. It takes a while for my body to heal then I revive.” She lowered her gun still looking wary.

Angel who had been calmly observing the whole state of affairs decided that now that the tension was over to ask the obvious. “Why are you here Kate?” ‘I’m really starting to see why Xander doesn’t like that Angel guy. He’s so cold like nothing really matters.’

Kate let out a breath throwing one last glance at Xander. “In the Warrington district there…” She trailed off as Doyle started convulsing.

Xander

Visions from the Powers that Be, who would have thought it? For that matter I never thought the powers that control the universe would pick The Powers That Be as their moniker. Sounds sort of cliché, couldn’t they pick something else like Controllers of All or maybe Those Good Guys Who Do Good And Try Not To Let the World Go To Hell. Doyle doesn’t seem to enjoy them much if the half of a bottle of whiskey he drowned directly afterwards was any indication. Seems that the visions are the Powers’ version of a cheat sheet. I’m not going to complain it got us out of research and on to the part where we charge in and save the day. It was kind of odd that Doyle’s vision showed us Warrington Warehouse as where Adam no… Methos was when Officer Kate Lockley had just come to Angel Investigations for help because of it. I guess the PTB’s have a sense of humor. I’m just glad the officer couldn’t come along. She kept staring at me as if she expected me to grow horns.

I gazed up at the building supposedly holding Methos and wondered if this was maybe too easy. Nothing in my life is ever this easy. ‘Don’t jinx it idiot.’ I had a hard time getting Angel to agree to my plan but then I have years of experience in the area of stubbornness. To me talking people into doing things in an art form. I had to perfect it to get anything out of my father. Blind him with enough bullshit though and he’ll do just about anything if he’s drunk enough. So in the end Angel acquiesced. “1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10” I stopped counting and kicked the door in. Smiling I said to no one, “I always wanted to do that.” Swinging my arm out I staked the vampire that had been rushing me from the side. Surveying the lay out I saw about fifty vampires spread out over the floor of the warehouse.

One of them stepped forward. He was the typical vampire wearing leather looking all bad ass. “You fool we out number you fifty to one we’ll eat you alive.”

My smile still in place I replied, “I’m so impressed that you can count. So can I that’s why I brought reinforcements.” ‘And they should be arriving right about… now.’ Angel’s car drove through the side of the warehouse letting the sunlight stream in. As we only have minutes of sunlight left I move quickly. As he’s cringing from the sunlight I stake the lead vamp and start working on the rest. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Doyle, Richie, and Cordelia climbing out of Angel’s convertible. Richie came out sword swinging, Doyle was armed with a crossbow and a stake, and Cordelia was using a super soaker full of holy water to push them back then stake them. I got a knock to the head for my trouble. I turned to the vampire that had broken what looked like a chair over my head. He was standing shocked holding what was left of the legs. I took one of them out of his hands and staked him with it. He still had a shocked expression on his face as he turned to dust. “Live by the sword die by the sword. Speaking of swords.” I pulled mine and started anew on the vamp crowd. They were starting to thin out between our combined efforts.

Suddenly I felt a buzz wash over me. Looking around I found a man on a raised landing dressed like he was heading for a ball. A ball in the seventeen hundreds. ‘Got to be Mallory. After all how many immortals are there crazy enough to be walking around in outfits like that? Um, better not answer that.’ He had been similarly searching the room but when his eye’s met mine he stopped and slowly smiled. Now I’ve known my fair share of lunatics but I got to say that this guy’s eyes gave even me the shivers. I couldn’t see anything in them other than hate and insanity. I smiled back just to show the bastard he couldn’t intimidate me. I used the smile I learned from Adam who I suppose learned it to scare all those villagers back when he was Death. It is cold yet hot as Hades at the same time. I noticed that Mr. Mallory’s smile faltered. I started towards him dusting vampires as I went. Mallory just stood waiting for me. I felt my smile turn into a grin.

Cordelia

I saw that nut standing on the landing smiling off into the mob of vampires then I saw that harebrained Xander heading towards him. I yelled to Richie in between vampire dusting, “What does that moron think he’s doing? He’s going to get himself killed! Why isn’t he waiting for the sun to go down so Angel can take him? ” I was greeted by hearty laughter. I had been busy fighting a practically macho vampire that had tried to wade his way through the holy water I couldn’t turn around right away but the moment I took to glance in his direction I was stunned to say the least. He was leaning on his sword trying to not fall over.

“Cor-Cordelia.” He gasped out over his guffaws. “Xander could kick Angel’s ass.”

I was too shocked to say anything but Doyle not having known Xander and his total lack of fighting skills was able to get out the question that I was thinking. “What?” Well, he said it with maybe a little less enthusiasm than I would of if I could have gotten my tongue to work but he was almost as surprised as me. After all humans just aren’t in the same league as vampires when it comes to strength.

Richie didn’t get a chance to answer right away because a vampire thinking that he was too preoccupied to defend himself took the chance of charging him. Quickly throwing a knife I hadn’t noticed he was carrying Richie stopped the hotheaded vampire with a well-placed strike to its thigh. It fell like a sack of potatoes. The vamp’s scream was cut off mid way as result of his head flying across the room. Even shocked over Richie’s boast about my former boyfriend in the back of my head I considered Richie’s use of his sword in the fight. I never really appreciated the usefulness of a sword when fighting vampires since Buffy had seemed to prefer stakes, but now I find myself considering getting one of my own. I shook that whimsical thought off. Telling myself I don’t want to be fighting vampires. I’m just doing this to my acting career takes off. Inwardly I snorted. ‘Go on Cordy tell yourself another one.’

With a vicious smile Richie turned to us. “Xander hasn’t been sleeping the last two months. The oldest guy on the planet was training him. Methos hasn’t survived this long by not being smarter, quicker, and deadlier than every one else and he taught us both how to keep our heads. I have a feeling that Mr. Mallory will come out of his fight with Xander a foot or so shorter.”

“But he’s human!” I could feel my stomach turning at the thought of my once naïve Xander capable of killing a human being.

Richie looked at me with pity. I remember that look. It was the look that Angel used to give me when I’d say something innocent. He does it less and less. For some reason I found it sort of refreshing.

“Wasn’t Adolph Hitler?” Then he turned his back on me. Doyle nodded and I could tell he agreed with Richie. Thinking back I remember in high school, pre-Scoobies, the report I had to do on serial killers. I had hated it at the time. That icky Mr. Miedel had forced it on me because he thought I needed to learn what the real world was like. It was so gross, and I didn’t even dig too far into the facts of the crimes. I saw something I really hadn’t wanted to when I looked into the photographs of those killer’s faces. At the time I couldn’t identify it, I just knew it scared me.

Now after years of fighting to save the world I realize I know why their eyes frightened me. They were worse than the monsters and demons of the night. They had chosen their lives of hate, rage, and death, demons just did what was in their nature like animals. Human killers did what they did because they wanted to. They all had souls but hated the world so much that they killed any way.

I felt something leave me at this revelation and I realized I wished still didn’t know. I wished I could be like the people of Sunnydale. That I could stick my head and the sand and pretend that the world was a nice shiny place and not full of all the shadows I know it is. Cursing my conscience I turned back to the fighting, taking my frustrations out on those I knew deserved it. I noticed that the men had closed in on me while I had stood still thinking, protecting me from the vampires, this angered me and at the same time comforted me. They nodded to me to show they knew I was back in action and backed off. I cut into the few remaining vamps with renewed gusto. ‘Damn you world for being so confusing.’

Angel

One thing I never could stand even when I was mortal was waiting, and that’s all I’ve been doing for the last…I checked my watch again, ten minutes. ‘I should never have agreed to this. I don’t know how I let myself be talked into this. It’s too risky. People could get hurt.’ Still it was the best plan we could come up with. Scratch that. Xander could come up with. Catch the vampires off their guard by attacking during the day, create a hole in the wall by running my car through, I was a little dubious about that part, and then flank them while their trying to get away from the sun. I had real problems with that part because as Xander pointed out there was no way for me to get to the warehouse with out becoming a “crispy critter” and even if I could I would be just as hampered in my fighting as the other vampires in the warehouse. I fought with Xander for a while trying to come up with an alternative but I gave in after every avenue was exhausted. I hated to admit he was right. Not knowing how many vampires that Dru and Mallory had been able to gather we had to use every advantage.

I was shocked when I found out that Dru was back and I felt the usual mix of quilt and hatred when I think of her. She is a product of my past and part of me feels guilty for what I did to her the other part of me can’t help but hate her for the horrible acts she commits. Kate told us of the way she found Xander and the condition he had been in. He just shrugged it off; after all he lived, but what about all those that don’t live. It is my fault she is the way she is but she is also a monster that has to be stopped.

They say a few minutes can be an eternity when you’re waiting. I definitely agree. The sun took forever to set. As my thoughts as my only company I impatiently watched as the last rays of the sun set. When they finally did I took off towards the warehouse with a roar using all of my pent up anger and frustration on the first vampire I saw. I tore his head off. My anger released I took in the battle being raged around me. Cordelia, Doyle, and Richie were off to one side surrounded by vampires trying to get past Cordelia’s super soaker and not having a good time of it. Whenever one did get past it they usually lost either a limb or a life as payment thanks to Richie’s sword. Doyle was taking out vampires with his crossbow occasionally missing though his accuracy was a surprise to me. There were about twenty vampires still fighting but they were starting to lose their confidence. The fight was going out of them as not one of them had yet to land a significant blow on either of their attackers.

Seeing that they were okay I started looking for Xander and was shocked at what I saw. He was fighting Mallory. ‘What is he trying to do get himself killed?’ Then I noticed that their swords were moving faster than I could see. Suddenly I had the feeling that I had been outclassed. I pushed those thoughts aside but even as I began fighting again I couldn’t help but cast one last look at the two fighting immortals.

Xander

Mallory was no Methos that’s for sure. The insane immortal fought with strength but not really any skill still he was good. His fury and insanity actually lent to his ability. Insanity is unpredictable. Our blades crossed and for once I was able to easily over throw him. Vampire strength comes in handy. He stumbled back a bit but quickly regained his footing. We had worked our way out of the main part of the warehouse complex and into one of the many side buildings.

“Why didn’t you have Drusilla kill me?” I couldn’t help but ask my curiosity getting the better of me. “My good looks?”

“You weren’t worth our time.” ‘Ouch, that hurt.’

“You went to the trouble of putting me out of commission for a while.”

“Only so there would be one less blade to fight when we went after our prize.”

“Why do you want Methos any way? I know he isn’t dead yet.” He couldn’t be dead. It would have been too much trouble to not just behead Methos when he got him at our place if all Mallory wanted was his Quickening.

Mallory looked surprised for a moment but it was quickly replaced by his usual look of arrogance and contempt. “You are right he isn’t dead. But that doesn’t matter. You’re not going to save him.” He took another swing at me, which again I blocked. ‘This could go on all night.’

I immediately regretted thinking that as I tripped on a loose piece of wood lying on the floor. Mallory lunged at me and before I could get back to my feet. His sword entered my gut. It was a fatal wound and I sunk to my knees. I fully expected for him to behead me right then. Angrily I stared at the wood that had tripped me up. ‘Isn’t that just like me to get killed by the thing I’ve been using to fight for years.’ I was bewildered when he didn’t kill me right off. He just kicked my sword away and held his to my neck. I could feel it cutting in and I didn’t dare move. I felt blood trickling down my neck to join with the rest and I had to bite my lip to keep from jerking. Methos once told me that there is nothing as frightening as having a sword at your neck. He was right.

Then Mallory spoke. “It was inevitable you know.” He paused I guess for dramatic effect. ‘Boy, he’s an arrogant ass.’ “I’ve spent 200 years researching, planning, and gathering power for this. Years of learning magic, of strengthening my hold on the world of the night, finding the necessary components. I was driven be my certainty. No one could stop me. I could not fail. It was prophesized. So don’t feel bad. You never had a chance.” His confidence wavered on the last part and I knew he was lying.

Blood bubbling up as I spoke I asked, “Really?” He seemed to find that amusing, as if knowing that I was on the verge of death gave him some kind of sense of power, the truth was I could feel my wounds healing. My vampire healing is faster than my immortal and I know I heal a lot faster than the usual immortal so Mallory wouldn’t be expecting me to heal as quickly as I am. If I could just keep him distracted for a few moments more.

He smiled down at me. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell you.” ‘Damn this is just like in the movies. He’s going to tell me his evil plan before he kills me. Now all we need is that corny dramatic music to start playing.’ “The prophecy said the only one who could stop the Reckoning was ‘the vampire that walks in the sunlight’. No such creature exists. It would be impossible. So you see, I truly could not fail. I will rule the world after tonight with an army of demons at my command and you. You will be dead. It is time to say good bye.” He raised his sword to bring it down in one final strike. It was very dramatic and also very stupid. Time seemed to slow as I rolled reaching for my sword my heart beating ten times faster than usual. Mallory’s sword cut through the air where I had been seconds before. I brought mine up and repaid him the favor of the feeling of a sword in his gut. I had vamped out in my desperation to reach my sword. Shock barely had the time to register on his face before his head left his shoulders.

“We of all people should know better than to use the word impossible.” I said to his headless body. I felt like I was going to throw up. I’ve seen a lot of corpses in my life but the sight of one I created was worse than any of my past run ins. Mallory’s head had stopped rolling a few feet from his body and his face still wore the shocked expression he’d died with. His body had fallen over awkwardly, not the neat little slump forward like in the movies, and I could clearly see the clean line where I had chopped his head off. I couldn’t stop staring at his body. I was in shock. I had planned on doing this but the reality was unfathomable and I just couldn’t think. The man who’s memories I acquired that fateful Halloween was a solider and had seen plenty of dead bodies. He’d also killed. He was a Green Beret; he killed a lot of men. I could remember killing before even though I haven’t. I thought I was prepared. I wasn’t. So even though I was focused on Mallory’s body at first I didn’t notice the mist starting to collect around it and when I did it just didn’t impact on my mind. When the first bolt hit I started screaming. Out of ecstasy and pain and everything in between. It was like my world was exploding. It was indescribable.

After the first bolt hit Xander’s immortality got to work. The energy rushing in was expected and handled easily. The collection of power was after all one of its main functions. Also as a result of Xander’s living on the Hellmouth Xander’s immortality had been skimming Hellmouth energy off for years. So it had no problem with this new energy but it hesitated over the memories also included. Most immortals’ Quickenings didn’t have the power to hold onto the memories that come with a Quickening but Xander’s exposure to Hell energy had given his Quickening a lot of power to draw on. This made it possible to absorb these memories instead of letting them float around for a few days before being forgotten. Xander’s immortality didn’t know any of this and it wouldn’t have cared if it did. It didn’t have enough consciousness to care about anything. No, it just followed the precedent set by the Halloween incident. It labeled the memories and skills that had belonged to the other being as another form of power and shunted them to the brain to be stored as another resource. The flow of energy and information stopped. With its job done Xander’s immortality subsided, to wait for the next chance to perform its job.

Adam and Richie both tried to describe a Quickening to me but they both couldn’t put the feeling into words and I found I couldn’t either. As the last bolt hit I felt like I’d been through a tornado. I’d been set on fire and my nerves were still tingling. Every bit of me felt full of energy. The pain was warring with the pleasure. My eyes snapped open with an audible snap. Until that moment I hadn’t known they were closed. Yet I could say without a doubt the one thing I was at the moment was pissed. I knew exactly what that asshole Mallory was planning to do and it turned my stomach. Demons and vampires have an excuse. It’s their nature to want to destroy humanity but Mallory just wanted it all. He wanted his cake and he wanted to eat it too. He didn’t want to take the chance that he wouldn’t win the game so he decided he’d find another way to get the prize. An easier and quicker way to become the ruler of Earth. Mallory had been a nobleman and he had thought that it was his right to take what he wanted and be damned. He had taken pleasure in the pain and torture of others, kicking people out of their homes and torching them to the ground back in the day, and in the present becoming a mass murderer hanging around with vampires using them as he would have used the serfs on his grounds.

Still as my mind was flooded with the images of Quinn Mallory’s past and I was getting lost in them. Things were getting jumbled and one moment I was in England looking down at a dead peasant I had just killed holding on to the pitch fork I had used to do it and smiling as his women folk gathered crying around his dead body. Then the scene shifted and I watched as if in slow motion as a woman came at me with cleaver in hand. I felt the bite as it dragged through my skin splitting my stomach. My hands were on my stomach trying to hold my guts in as she stood over me looking triumphant. I was suddenly in a forest looking down at an Indian woman she was scuttling back from me fear in her eyes her skirt was ripped already. After that I found myself standing on a battlefield. Men in blue where charging, canon balls were whizzing around me. The man next to me suddenly was headless. I felt fear. Next I was in a University listening to a lecture on mathematics a few moments later I gutted the heavyset lecturer for not listening to my questions. Then next I was smiling a Drusilla calling her beloved.

That snapped me awake. I had no frame of reference when it came to medieval Europe or even frontier America. The people I had seen I couldn’t drudge up and real feeling for. They were long dead and I knew nothing of them. Other than a general feeling of sadness over their deaths I had no deep emotional attachment to them but I did have some deep feelings for Drusilla. I despise Drusilla. She shot me six times for Christ’s sake! Clinging on to the thought of Drusilla I used her as an anchor keeping my mind steady. I started searching Mallory’s memories for things connected to her. I knew that when I found her I’d find Methos.

Richie

Even though I knew that Xander didn’t want these people knowing about his vampire side but I couldn’t resist barbing Cordelia. Her smug “I’m better than you” attitude reminded me way too much of those years I spent on the streets when everyone considered themselves better than me. I had to admit though she did better than I thought she would in a fight. I’ve only met two women who had her strength of character, Angie and Amanda. What is it with good-looking women? And how in the heck does it translate that if your gorgeous you have to be a ballsey fighter? I guess I shouldn’t question it. It’s got to be one of those mysteries of the universe type deals. I might have to respect her as a fighter but there was no way I was going to like her as a person not with her up on her high horse so I couldn’t help rubbing the fact that Xander could kick her boss’s ass in her face.

I wasn’t bragging either. Xander is just plain stronger than the ordinary vampire. Getting up from one of Xander’s punches is a hell of a lot harder than any vampire that I’ve fought with. Once I got him so mad he knocked me out cold. It took two days for my tooth to re-root itself.

Angel isn’t bad himself. He cut through the vampires with ease and soon we found ourselves alone in the warehouse because the vampires had been turned into the dust beneath our feet. That left us asking, “Where is Xander?” And I was asking loudest. After all I know Xander all to well and I know how he is. Finding him turned out to be easier said than done. The maze of side buildings connected to the main vampire nest was dizzying and complex. The architect must have been crazy.

“How are we ever going to find them?” I gritted my teeth. I was pulled out of my musing by Cordelia’s whining, which was driving me more insane than the architecture. It was no wonder that Angel had paired up with Doyle rather than handle her. The cautious moving about in the maze of buildings was getting on my nerves too but there was no way I was going to admit it with Cordelia complaining about it. The fact was there very likely could be vampires hiding out in these buildings, but our slow progress was making me consider committing homicide.

“Cordelia…” I was about to tell her what to do with herself when I was interrupted by the sound of breaking glass and great crashes. Sounds I knew by heart. Lightening flashed and wind rushed past us. The booms got louder. Cordelia grabbed onto my arm.

“What’s going on?” I just shook my head and took off running towards the origin of the sounds and flashes of light. My earlier boasts aside my stomach churned with fear at what I might find when I arrived at my destination. I’ve learned that no matter what others say that sword fights are one part skill one part imagination and one part chance. ‘Xander you better be alive or I swear I’ll kill you myself.’

Doyle

One second I was searching for our lost member the next I was running after Angel. Boy can he move. Puffing I cursed silently. I’ve never seen lightening in a building before but I’m not really surprised. No, yesterday I was fending off a three headed woman who was trying to get into my pants for my wallet. Seems she liked the taste of leather. With all the strangeness in my world lightening inside a building barely blips on my weirdo-meter. Suddenly Angel stopped in front of me. Almost crashing into him I was able to turn aside at the last second. I stopped a few feet in front of him when my momentum ran out and put my hands on my knees wheezing. ‘I really need to get back into shape. It was only a 200ft run.’ Regaining my breath I looked up to see right inches away from my face Xander staring right at me. A Xander with yellow-red eyes, fangs, and the ridges of a vampire. ‘Okay. Well that rates a 9.5. Especially since I just saw him a couple of minutes ago in full sunlight.’ Xander growled and hurriedly I backed up.

Quicker than thought Angel moved forward and drove a stake into Xander’s heart. “I’m sorry Xander.” He whispered as he stepped back. His face full of sorrow. I felt a pang myself. I hadn’t known him very long but I still liked him. Well, sort of. I was jealous of his past with Cordelia but I didn’t wish to see him dead.

Xander staggered back gripping at the stake protruding from his chest. I expected him to burst into dust almost immediately so I was flabbergasted when instead he looked up at us with a shocked expression blood trickling from the corners of his mouth. Then his eyes rolled up and he collapsed backward. I stared down at his dead body and blinked. When I opened my eyes again Xander was still there very much dead. ‘Now this is a ten.’

Richie

I knew before I got there that something was wrong. There was a churning in my stomach that just wouldn’t settle. I arrived just in time to see Angel drive a stake into my friend’s chest. I was on the other side of the building so I kept running praying all the while that Xander’s immortality would save him. ‘He’s never been staked before. What if it kills him?’ I watched relieved as Xander toppled backward instead of bursting into dust. I slid to a stop beside my fallen friend only glancing at Doyle and Angel then dropping to my knees and pulling the stake from Xander’s chest. It made a disturbing slurp as it was removed. Almost instantly Xander sat up. There was no gasp, nothing. It startled me. I backed up a little, in the nick of time too because Xander stood in one fluid motion. Moving faster than I had ever seen him move he flashed over to Angel and in one single punch knocked the vampire flat on his back.

“That. Hurt.” He growled out looking down at Angel. Angel wisely stayed down rubbing his jaw looking up at Xander stunned. I took that time to analyze Xander. First he wasn’t breathing. Second moving at vamp speed. Third he was still wearing his game face. Fourth I hadn’t felt a buzz when he came to. Conclusion: Xander was so exhausted that he was existing in vamp mode. Not good. For Xander to be strung out enough to stay vamped out…No wonder he wasn’t acting rationally. Then you add his first quickening to the equation…’Xander must be on the verge of killing.’ With that in mind I slowly rose not wanting to piss him off. Xander is deadly and at the moment unstable.

“What the hell is going on?!” I winced. I had forgotten Cordelia. She either couldn’t read the signs or she just didn’t care. I opened my mouth ready to tell her to shut up but my mouth clicked shut. ‘Oh well, it’s her head not mine.’

“Oh, shut up Cordy.” Xander turned to his ex. Gesturing down his length he sarcastically spat out. “Obviously I’m not just an immortal but a vampire. Combine the two and you get the handy dandy immie/vamp comes with soul and stake proofness.” He turned and stalked off heading for one of the exits we hadn’t come through.

“Where are you going?” I calmly asked.

Xander spun around. “We don’t have time for this. Drusilla, at this moment is preparing to sacrifice Adam to a hell demon so her “beloved” can become the ruler of the world. I don’t know what she’s going to do when he stands her up.”

Unsheathing my sword I nodded to him. “Let’s go then.” I saw Angel dusting himself off out of the corner of my eye. Cordelia looked at Doyle and Doyle nodded. She sighed then nodded as well. I smiled grimly.

Xander looked at all of us and said. “If we’re all in agreement now.” His voice dripped with cynicism. Then he turned and began stalking off again this time with us following.

Xander

I was pissed, miserable, aching, and horny to boot. Richie and Methos both tried to tell me about Quickenings but they couldn’t accurately describe it. Basically they told me I’d have to find out for myself. Well after my first I had to say I didn’t like the side effects. I was frustrated and ready to kill the first thing that crossed my path. My immortal side had taken such a beating that it had retreated totally and I was running completely on vampire side. To say I was having a breakdown would be to vastly understate it.

I was hanging on by a thread and that thread was fraying but at the moment I really didn’t care. I followed Mallory’s memories secure in the knowledge that at the end of this tunnel would be someone I could beat the hell out of, Drusilla.

The first thing that hit us was the smell. I had been expecting it but even with advance warning I was hit like a ton of bricks and I knew that the smell was just the beginning. Rounding the last curve we walked right into the charnel house. It was like a scene out of the Holocaust. The bodies were piled one on top of each other like cordwood. I could hear Cordelia behind me retching. I almost joined her. Richie beside me turned green and Doyle closed his eyes shaking. Angel moved past me getting closer, stopping inches from touching a little girl whose arm had been ripped off. He looked pale and grim. I’d never seen so many dead bodies in my life yet I knew these. I had the memories of most of their deaths. I felt the edges of my sanity being tested and quickly shut out the memory of their screams. Angel was doing the kindest thing he had ever done for me by blocking my view of the corpses.

Focusing on the here and now I looked up. I saw it. The cage. I saw Methos too. He was most definitely dead. He was covered with slashes of different shapes and widths like someone had took their time using every type of edge they could to cut him to shreds. I could see the blood dripping off the edges of the cage and I knew he had bleed to death. ‘Dru must have decided she wanted to make pretty lines.’ I felt my blood boiling.

Richie took a step forward and started searching for a way up. Before I had time to tell him that there was only one way a screeching filled the air. There was barely enough time for Richie to look up then a flurry of purple and red descended on him from the platform above. He recoiled clutching his throat blood seeping out around his fingers. The flurry shot back and resolved into Drusilla. Richie crashed to one knee, one hand dropping to support himself. His hands were covered in his blood and more was dropping to the floor by the minute. I could see his eyes glazing over. It happened so fast that I didn’t time to react. None of us did. Taking my eyes from my dying friend I glared a Drusilla. She was swaying back and forth with her customary vacant look. A wide smug smile was stretched across her face.

“You’ve come to see the end. Miss Edith said that you would come. Can you hear the screams?” She giggled and raised her arms twirling around. “It will be glorious.” Drusilla stopped. Her smile grew. “Full of screams.” I growled and shoved Angel aside. I’d had enough of that bitch. Dru looked at my game face in surprise. Then whispered, “The Dark Knight.” I saw Angel jerk. She was pissing me off more and more. ‘What am I Batman?’ Then she attacked.

Now I’d never fought Drusilla before. In fact I don’t even remember a time when I’d seen her fight. She preferred sneak attacks and hypnosis to all out confrontation. I figured she wasn’t much of a fighter. I was wrong. Like a newbie I rushed her my hate making me irrational. She ripped the sword from my hands displaying how much I had underestimated strength. Undeterred I punched her. She rocked back then delivered a punch of her own. I went to kick she blocked. She tried a right cross. I gripped her arm. She tried to strike me in the stomach I grabbed her other arm locking her. She used both her feet to push against me propelling her away and slamming me against a wall.

Angel and the others had been watching our exchange in shock. I guess it looked like a scene from a kung fu movie. Pulling myself off the floor I glared at them. “Well. What are you waiting for? Get him down.” I pointed up at Methos. “She can still perform the ritual and that would definitely be a bad thing.” Angel nodded and I left him to it.

I never should taken my eyes off of Dru. I turned when I heard her deranged battle cry. From somewhere, don’t ask me where, she had gotten her hands on a mace. “Not good.” I muttered as I dove to my right. Dru giggled insanely as she swung the mace at me. I was forced to keep dodging. I made a leap back putting some distance between us. “Sword. Here sword.” I called out scanning for my sword. Drusilla took advantage of my distraction to take another swing at my head. I spotted it out of the corner of my eye in time to jump out of the way. Facing her squarely I wasn’t too surprised when Dru smiled at me.

“Here doggy.” she crooned. ‘She truly is crackers.’ I lost a couple seconds just staring at her in amazement then I found I was trapped between a wall and the bodies and she was closing in.

Trying to stall her I asked. “Dru can’t we talk about this?” As I backed up I noticed a flash of gold. Dru stopped her advance frowning. “Doggies no talk.” ‘Damn my mouth.’ She swung the mace as I rolled to her left. Then I spotted it. My blade was stuck in some poor dead guy’s head. Continuing my roll I pulled it out. Dru followed me smashing the mace into the floor, bodies, everything in the attempt to hit me. I got the blade up just in time to stop the downward swing of the mace. The spiked ball reflected off the blade with sparks. Dru blinked as her weapon encountered resistance instead of smashing my head open. She took another swing this time the Katana sliced through the chain link of the mace and she was left with a wooden stick. Both of us stared at the stick she now was holding. Then I smiled. Dru curled the fingers of her free hand. “Grrrrah. Bad dog.” She said as she threw the stick at me. I easily ducked. Dru retreated backward and she glared at me.

Dru stood there glaring at me as I got to my feet. I wiped some blood from the corner of my mouth. Then beckoned to her in the universal “bring it on” gesture. Dru hissed and threw herself at me. I bashed her face with the pommel of my blade. She let out a shriek of pain and was jerked back blood spurting from a broken nose. Drusilla cradled it for a moment then she rushed again and raked my chest with her clawed hand. Shooting back to avoid my sword I could see her hand dripping with my blood. She smiled in triumph then sickeningly licked her fingers. “Doggie taste good.” I winced in revulsion. I could feel the wounds on my chest healing and this time I attacked. Altering slashes with punches and jabs. Dru didn’t have time to think. I was slowly slashing her to pieces. Keeping on the offensive I forced back. Then Dru tripped over a small shredded child. From the extent of the mauling it was impossible to tell if it had been a girl or boy. She looked up at me bloody and beaten too tired to get up. Then she spat at my face. I wiped it away. It was a combination of blood and spit. “My beloved will come and when he does he will rip you into itty bitty pieces for the kitties.”

I looked around then found what I was searching for, a piece of wood. I didn’t want her death to be easy after all the torture and death she had wrought on the world. Beheading seemed much too kind and much too quick. Kneeling I picked it up. Turning back to her my smile was full of hate and condescension. “Sorry Dru but the only thing he’ll be doing is rotting in hell. Say hello when you get there.” Her eyes widened in disbelief mouth parted to deliver a denial then I thrust the make shift stake into her chest. She turned to dust with the same expression of shock as Mallory.

Turning from the pile of dust that had caused me so much pain I found Angel carrying my dead friend over his shoulder. Richie had risen and was being supported by a bloody Cordelia. Doyle sighed. He was no less gory than the rest of us. “Can we go home now?” He asked in a weary tone.

I looked around at the hell pit we were in, looked at the remains of one of the most fucked up creatures that had ever existed, and thought about the body of the first man I had killed. I cocked my head to the side to seem like I was considering it. “Let’s see. We’ve saved the world from eternal hell, again. Saved the damsel in distress and killed the bad guys. Yep. I think it’s time to go home.” Cordelia rolled her eyes. Angel just stared impassive. Doyle grinned.

Richie hoarsely laughed. “You better be glad Adam’s dead. If he heard you call him ‘the damsel in distress’ he’d kill you.”

“Yeah. But hey I’d just get back up again.” I smiled. ‘Just shields to hide behind. Just shields.’ I retrieved my sword and as a group we hobbled out of hell.

***

Epilogue: Home Sweet Home

(There Is Officially One Less Vacancy In Hell)

Richie

Taking a sip of my brandy I turned to Methos. “I miss him already.” It was raining out and the two of us were sitting in front of the fireplace getting pleasantly drunk and licking our wounds. Methos smiled a particularly unsettling smile. I felt my stomach flip. ‘This is not good.’ Swallowing my concern I asked, “So how exactly is he getting home? He left that junk heap of a truck in Oxnard.”

Methos’ smile grew. ‘Oh, crap.’ “He didn’t.” Methos just kept smiling. “You wouldn’t let him.” My decanter hit the table with a ‘plunk’. “He did.” Methos nodded. I groaned and rubbed the side of my face. “How could you let him take my bike?”

“Oh, don’t worry kid. I’ll buy you a new one.” My head shot up but Methos was just calmly sipping away. At my astonished look he chuckled. “Oh, come on. I’ve been around for five thousand years. I’ve got more money stashed away than God. What’s a couple thousand for a friend?” I sputtered.

Xander

Wind whipping past me I shifted gears and sped up. Night travel is not something I’d recommend, especially this close to Sunnydale but I didn’t want to stop for the night. I mean come on what would be the odds I’d be attacked --

Suddenly an arm was in front of me. I hit it and the air went out of my lungs with a whoosh. My bike shot forward while I was thrown to the side of the road. I could hear the screech of metal on pavement as my bike skidded to a stop. Ribs aching I watched as the vampire and his gang moved closer coming in for the kill. The vamp who had knocked me off my bike was smiling predatorily. He thought I was going to be an easy kill. He was about to get a big surprise cause I was pissed.

A female vampire, a blonde air head type, sniffed at me looking miffed then she whined. “Ooooooh, Declan he’s punyyy. Hardly enough to sharrre.” For a moment I thought she was going to stomp her foot like a spoiled child.

“You’re not going to get the chance to try it.” I growled as I shifted into vamp mode and then I rose in one fluid motion. When I get angry I find myself moving in fluid motions faster than the eye can really see. It intimidates and I wanted to scare the dead fuckers before I ripped them apart. ‘They wrecked my bike! I went to some much trouble to steal it too!’

One second I was on the ground the next I was holding the lead vampire in the air. His feet dangling he grabbed the arm I was using to hold him up. Scared he pleaded, “We’re sorry we thought you were a mortal.” The others were too shocked to react.

“Do I look like a mortal?” I growled out. I was fully a vampire. I had learned in L.A. I could either be fully vampire or immortal if I so chose. He and his gang shook their heads in fright.

“We’re sorry ma…” I ended his pleading by shoving a stake in his heart. Briefly I wondered what he was going to say then I shrugged it off. The three vamps remaining glanced at each other then took off running. It didn’t take long before they joined their leader as dust in the wind. Calmed somewhat I stalked over to my bike to assess the damage. I winced at the damage to the paint but it only seemed superficial. Hauling it up I let the vampire merge back with the immortal. ‘Of all the luck.’ Sighing I gunned the engine. Seconds later I passed the sign “Welcome to Sunnydale”. Some wiseass had drawn an arrow next to the population pointing down. I snorted and kicked the starter. ‘It’s good to be home.’

Finis

The End

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