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Several Brands of Immortality

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Summary: Sequel to "Immortal Style, Slayer Sarcasm"

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Highlander > GeneralQuicksilverFR18111,234122,47124 May 0324 May 03Yes
Several Brands of Immortality
by: Quicksilver
mbsilvana@yahoo.com
Sequel to Immortal Style, Slayer Sarcasm
Standard Disclaimers
This is this last story of this arch.... feedback is important.....


The Prophecy of Forever- the Slayer’s Prophecy

There will come a day when the Guardians
Are demoralized, falling from their own strength
The Guarded will cross paths, and nothing shall be the same
The youngest and oldest shall meet
Each torn by their own weaknesses
And eternity becomes truly eternal
The blood shall mingle, and death shall be conquered
The Slayer falls, rising to a new destiny
One kiss for love, one kiss for hatred
and the final seals her fate

Charlotte spun around and watched as Methos entered the room, tailed by Buffy.

“Hello, lover,” Angelus purred to Buffy, if anything, becoming more relaxed.

“Hello,” she said coldly. “Where’s Alexa?” Buffy demanded.

Angelus snapped his fingers, and the orb rose out of its box. “Right here.... the Methuselah stone....”

The stone glowed brightly, and Methos looked at it, bitter and hopeful at the same time. This, the Methuselah stone, had been his hope for a life with Alexa, a hope that had been dashed as he watched it fall into the river.

The stone’s beauty was entrancing, but after a brief glance, Buffy’s attention was riveted on Methos’ face. For once the Immortal had dropped his guard, and Buffy saw Methos clearly for the first time. Awed by the depth of personality, Buffy knew she couldn’t cope with him at the moment. She decided that she would do what she did best, and apologize to Methos later. Go on the offense.

“Oh, pretty!” she said sarcastically to Angelus. “What is the Christmas ornament for?”

Methos, to Buffy’s surprised, snapped out of his reverie to put a restraining hand on her shoulder. “Quiet, child,” he said softly, ignoring Buffy’s betrayed look. “How?” he asked.

Angelus smiled, his handsome face taking on a look of boyish enthusiasm. “It’s your fault, Benjamin,” he taunted. He sprawled onto the couch, almost as boneless as Methos.

Methos stared at threat the stone for a minute, then let of a particularly vehement curse.

Charlotte walked up to him, maneuvering herself between Buffy and Methos. “I see you’ve figured it out, lover,” she purred sensually, her French drawl as intimate as it had ever been.

“Well, I haven’t!” Buffy said, confused and frustrated.

“I trapped her,” Methos whispered, shocked. “Of all the evil things I have ever done, this is by far the worse.” He reached a hand out towards the Methuselah stone, which Charlotte batted aside.

“And you did it for love,” she said sarcastically. “You always DID have a problem with your love life.”

Buffy had no idea what was going on, but knew that whatever was happening, it had something to do with the crystal. So she did what she had always done. Act without thinking things through.

She jumped over Angelus, aiming for the orb. Methos screamed a warning to her, but it was too late. She touched the orb, and her world shattered. The globe flickered with brilliant light a few times, then went dark. Methos watched in horror as the small blond was propelled into the wall of Angelus’ apartment. He ran over to her, carefully keeping an eye on Angelus and Charlotte. When he felt for a pulse, there was none.

The Slayer was dead.

***********


Richie sat on the library table, watching the Slayerettes research, He KNEW that he should be helping, but he just couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm. Methos had been acting strangely, and Richie had the feeling that the Slayerettes and himself had been forced onto a useless mission. By the grim look in Giles’ eyes, he thought the old librarian agreed with him.

Finally he just couldn’t take it anymore. He stood up, catching the librarian’s eye. “This is senseless,” he said, voicing what all of them were thinking. “Buffy and Methos don’t need this information- they need our help!”

“Soul binding? What if it’s serious?” Willow asked.

Richie thought for a second. “You and Giles stay here. I’m going to chase down the bastard- I mean Adam-and shake some sense into him.”

Richie had only been in Sunnydale for an extremely short time, and it showed. He was lost within minutes of leaving the library, and he couldn’t sense Methos anywhere. So he decided to wander around, hoping to find Methos by the annoying headache the older immortal inspired. The Buzz is occasionally useful, Richie thought, trying to lighten his mood. Sure is more effective then a pager.

Richie was just driving past an apartment complex when he felt it. The Buzz. An extremely strong one, at that. It had to be Methos.

He spun the motorcycle around quickly and parked somewhat flamboyantly -still have my touch- and entered the building. Richie forced his way into the apartment. His eyes widened in horror. Methos held his sword in front of him, defensively crouched over the tiny form of the Slayer. Richie’s assessing glance told him that Buffy wasn’t breathing. Producing his sword from standard immortal-space, he walked into the room, holding his blade in front of him, ready for a fight. Charlotte’s face was distorted by the demon within her, and Richie felt morbid fascination well within him. A few years ago, he would have given anything to be Immortal, but he had learned, through bitter experience, that an immortal life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He wondered what it would be like to invite a demon into his body, and decided that the rewards just weren’t worth it. His musings were interrupted but a feral growl. Methos.

Methos’ eyes were crazed. “Bastard!” he growled after what seemed to be an eternity.

Angelus shrugged, even though he was truly disappointed. Buffy had died relatively quickly, and he hadn’t had the chance to make her HIS. So now he had no choice but to salvage what remained of the situation. Leaping off the couch, he grabbed the box and closed it around the Methuselah stone, careful to avoid touching it.

“You won’t deny me a last kiss from my beloved, will you?” Angel asked mockingly. He lunged forward with the inhuman speed, yanking Buffy’s body away from the Immortal. Before Methos could react, Angelus stood halfway across the room, cradling the dead Slayer in an almost tender fashion. He kissed her gently, then sighed. “Her blood’s still warm,” he said wistfully, “but I don’t have time to eat.” He threw the Slayer to Methos, who dropped his sword to catch her. “Make sure she gets a decent funeral, will you?”

Methos only glared. “You’re dead, demon. I’ll hunt you to the last of my days,” Methos promised darkly.

Angelus grinned crookedly, even though his eyes seemed unusual- almost human with sadness and disappointment. “I’ll lead you a merry chase.” He held up the box, and Methos wondered what the vampire was doing with the orb. Angelus had killed Buffy- what more could he want? “I guess this will have to wait till later,” Angelus said, grabbing Charlotte and propelling her from the room.

Charlotte turned back and blew Methos a kiss. “Now that the slut’s out of the way, we can get back together,” she laughed. “A tout a l’heure, mon bijou.” She winked, then vanished into the crisp night air.

“Get out of here,” Methos said quietly to Richie. Richie nodded, his eyes wider then saucers. He backpedaled slowly, hating the thought of what he must do next. Tell the Slayerettes that their friend, the Slayer, was dead.

***********


Methos thought of following Angelus, but decided not to. Revenge was a delicate art, and fury only smashed it. He would kill the vampire later, slowly.

Besides, Buffy would need him. He watched her chest, waiting. Sure enough, Buffy gasped for breath after a few seconds of his observation. He looked at her, feeling extreme sorrow. To be seventeen for an eternity. It was a fate he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy, let alone Buffy, the Slayer.

He stood protectively over her, waiting for her to sit up. But she didn’t. She died again instead.

“Buffy,” he said softly. Then he frowned. Buffy should have returned by now. He touched her throat, checking for a pulse, just to make sure. He had been so positive that she was a pre-immortal. He thought for a second, then made a realization. He quickly busied himself to remedy the problem.


***********

Richie walked into the library, feeling like a dog who had been kicked once too often. He stood in front of Giles desk, waiting until the Slayerettes were all looking at him. Giles set his book down, almost knowing what Richie was going to say before he could say it.

“I’m sorry,” Richie began, feeling like a condemn man facing a firing squad.

Willow’s eyes teared up. Xander went pale, and Giles slumped in his seat. Cordelia, surprisingly, was the one to speak first. “How?” she demanded. “And where’s Mr. Pierson?”

Richie shook his head. “There wasn’t a mark on her that I could see. Magic, maybe. Adam was there.... taking care of her,” Richie said. He couldn’t bring himself to say her name. “He’ll probably go hunting Angelus....”

Giles pressed his hand to his forehead. “What am I going to tell her mother? ‘Your daughter died fighting a demon, who just happened to be her ex-boyfriend?’” He thought of Kendra, knowing that he would have to summon her. A Slayer had to be on the Hellmouth. Buffy shouldn’t have been the one to die, he thought bitterly. It should have been me. I was the Watcher who didn’t prepare her well enough.

Xander was numb. He couldn’t think of anything aside from the fact that he would never see Buffy again. Beautiful, brave Buffy was dead. It shouldn’t have happened- she was the one who always won all of her battles. He wanted, more then anything to see her once more.

Willow could only sob. Buffy had been her first female friend, and Willow had loved her. She felt gentle arms slip around her, and looked up into Richie’s concerned eyes. Relieved, she collapsed into his arms, for a second forgetting about the other redhead who should have been there comforting her. But Oz’s band had a gig, and he wasn’t there. She envied him; he had a few more hours of blissful ignorance.

Cordelia usually would have been sobbing loudest of all, demanding attention. But all around her, the Slayerettes were falling apart at the worst possible time. She recognized, realistically, that she was the most distanced from the situation, aside from Richie. For the first time, Cordelia found herself in nominal control of the Scooby gang. And she wasn’t going to let them down.

“OK, people,” she declared loudly, her voice a little more gentle than usual, “snap out of it.”

Xander raised his head, his red eyes dry. Willow stopped crying, and Giles straightened. “Shut up, Cordelia,” Giles said crudely.

This was it. The moment of truth. Cordelia stiffened her spine. “No.”

They all looked at her in amazement before she continued. “The Slayer’s dead. All sorts of nasty things are happening, and we just lost our head cheerleader,” she said. “The squad is going to have to pick up the slack until you can get reinforcements. Xander, Richie and I will go out and cover patrol. Giles, you and Willow continue to research this soul-binding nonsense.” She picked up her jacket and slid into it. “We can mourn later, but the world needs us now.”

The Slayerettes looked at the beauty queen with new respect. “It sounds like a plan,” Richie said. “We’ll do a quick sweep and come back in time to help with research.” He glanced at his watch. “I think we’ll be pulling an all-niter.”

Xander followed the young Immortal out of the door, leaving only the librarian and the hacker. “I guess we had better get to work,” Giles said, trying to push all recriminations out of his mind until later. Opening a new book, he started to flip through pages, seeking the answers Methos had asked of him. I’ll hurt the bastard for not protecting Buffy well enough later, he promised himself mentally.

***********


Buffy breathed heavily, trying to get air into her lungs. Then she opened her eyes to a whole new world.

She could feel Methos beside her. His presence was more intense then any vampire she had ever felt- including the Master's. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing but sympathy there. No, not
sympathy, she thought. Empathy.

"Welcome to Immortality," Methos said. From nowhere, he drew a slender sword and tossed it to her. She caught it adroitly, her Slayer training kicking in.

Buffy didn't even want to think about the ramifications of her return from the dead- truly dead this time. So she reverted to her primary defense mechanism- sarcasm. "Nice sword. Do I get a long coat to go with it? Ralph Lauren, of course."

Methos shook his head. "Angelus won this battle. He killed you far too young. But you'll win the war. He doesn't know you're Immortal. And in his ignorance, he'll be the final looser."

Buffy rose shakily to her feet, using her new sword as a prop. Looking down, she saw her white sweater was stained with blood. "Did he orb cut me or something? I really don't remember dying."

Methos shook his head. "It's my blood," he explained. "The magic that makes you the Slayer was battling your native Immortality- I had to give you an edge."

Buffy looked at Methos and touched his shoulder in a gesture of thanks. To her surprise, a spark of electricity arched between them.

"Part of my Quickening is in you now," Methos whispered in awe.

Buffy smiled, almost shyly. "I guess you can say I really have an electric personality now."

Methos' smile faded. "We have work to do," he reminded the petite Slayer-turned-Immortal.

Buffy nodded, her face wearing an expression of solemn duty. "No rest for he wicked- or the people who kill them."

Methos smiled grimly. "Indeed. But for now, we have to get back to the library and reassure your friends you are very much alive."

Buffy nodded her agreement. "Sounds like a plan." She turned to exit, but Methos stopped her.

"Hide your sword. Having it out could be construed as a challenge."

She looked at her cropped sweater (ignoring the blood, as she had gotten in the habit of since claiming her sacred duty), and then her tight pants. "Where?" she asked.

Methos smiled wickedly. "That's the greatest secret of Immortality." He leaned forward and whispered into her ear, then backed off to watch her reaction.

"I have to put it WHERE?" she demanded.


*********

Angel stalked into the room, enraged. Buffy was dead! He couldn’t believe it! He looked around for Drusilla, the crazed seer, but couldn’t find her. He wanted to find the raven-haired wench and shake her till her fangs dropped out for not warning him of the possibility of Buffy’s death. He wanted the blond Slayer dead, but not before he drove her crazy!

He turned and looked at Charlotte, the dark French vampire. One of his earlier creations, he noted. She was approaching her two-hundredth birthday, and Angel finally made a realization.

He was bored with her.

“Where’s Drusilla!” he yelled at one of his standard vamp thugs. This one was freshly made, no more than two weeks dead. He had to replace them constantly, because most of them got caught by the Slayer before they hit their first year of unlife. Perhaps this one would survive longer, now that Buffy lay dead, ready for the grave she had feared so much. There would never be another Slayer like her.

The thug trembled before his master, even though he must have outweighed Angelus by at least a hundred pounds. “Spike and Drusilla left,” he whimpered, wishing he had been allowed to go with them. He certainly didn’t want to be the one who told Angelus... but he had lost the coin toss, and had to remain behind.

“What!” Angelus roared. his voice something no human could mimic. “They LEFT!?”

The thug nodded. “Said something about feeling like Chinese. They’re going over to China.”

Angelus raged inwardly for a second before finding another target. The poor goon didn’t have a chance; Angelus picked him up easily and threw him into a chair, which shattered. Then Angelus crept forward, picking up one of the broken legs. “You should have KEPT them here!” he yelled, ignoring the fact that a new vamp barely had the power to control themselves, let alone vampires of Spike and Dru’s caliber. He thrust the stake first, watching in satisfaction as the goon crumpled into dust.

“You really shouldn’t have done that,” Charlotte chided him. “Now you’ll have to make another. Haven’t you ever heard the saying, ‘Don’t kill the messenger?’”

Angelus shook his head, slapping his palm with the stake thoughtfully. “Something’s up if Drusilla moved out of town,” he mused pensively.

Charlotte tsked. “She’s crazy. And maybe she just felt like a change of scene- and you know Spike will do anything for her.”

Angelus glowered at her. “Crazy like a fox, you mean,” he said. “She saw something she didn’t like. And Dru’s visions always come true.”

Charlotte sidled over to the table, then spread herself out like a whore in Babylon. “I don’t believe that. She promised me I’d get everything I want, and that hasn’t happened yet.”

Unless Dru had been lying to you, Angelus thought, Why would she tell the truth? She doesn’t fear you, Charlotte. He grinned to himself. With the little matter of a foretelling readily explained away, there was nothing to stop him. It was about time he took care of business. He rolled onto the table, carefully positioning himself above her. She smiled sensually and wiggled, brushing her breasts across his chest. He smiled own at her, tracing light kisses across her throat, watching her eyes sparkle with lust. Then he thrust into her- with the stake.

Her expression was almost exactly like Darla’s had been when Angel killed her. “Mon cher,” she whispered, just before her body disintegrated.

Without Charlotte’s body supporting him, Angelus fell to the table, lying in a pile of dust. “I guess I have a problem with the females in my family. She was beginning to irritate me,” he said to no one, wiping the dust that had been Charlotte off his black clothes. “I guess I’ll have to make another one,” he said, echoing some of Charlotte’s last words. The possibilities were endless- maybe having a red-head around would be fun. If he couldn’t have Buffy, her best friend would have to do. “The Slayer is dead. To hell with the damn prophecy.” He pushed all concerns about Drusilla’s unexpected departure out of his mind. All he had to do was catch the annoying Immortal and kill him first, then the town would be his for the taking.

Angelus walked over to his closet and pulled out an old friend. A sword.


***********


Xander, Cordelia and Richie had just returned from the patrol. There had been at least ten vamps out celebrating the Slayer’s death- word spread fast. Richie had watched in horror as Xander fell onto the vamps with an insane fury. Amazingly, the teenager had managed to stake most of them with minimal help from the Immortal. Cordelia had taken two out by herself as well. Richie remembered how he felt after hearing of Lissa’s death; he certainly couldn’t blame theme for their anger.

They walked into the library, taking a quick glance at the clock on the wall. Four AM. Hard to believe that Buffy had only been dead for five hours. “Are you going to be ok?” Richie asked the teenager.

“I’ll never be ok again,” Xander answered morosely.

The teenager collapsed at the table, all of his energy deserting him. He looked over at Willow and Giles, both of them flipping through pages frantically.

Richie looked up, sensing an Immortal. The door opened again, and Xander looked up just in time to watch Methos enter. He opened his mouth to ask questions, but his throat clogged when he saw who was following the Immortal. Buffy, very much alive.

Giles dropped his book, his eyes widening. “Buffy,” he whispered, unable to say anything else.

Willow, however, wasn’t at such a lost. She darted to her feet, and quicker then an Olympic sprinter, threw herself into the Slayer’s arms. Buffy laughed joyously and returned the redhead’s hug.

“You lied to me, man!” Xander said, coming to the obvious conclusion, and accusing Richie.

Richie held up his hands defensively. “She was dead. I had no idea she was a pre-Immie.”

Giles finally found his voice. “You’re Immortal?” he asked. When Adam had mentioned the possibility of it, Giles had dismissed it after a little thought. The Slayer had never been an Immortal- she had to be born, and Immortals weren’t. They were discovered. How do I tell her that Joyce isn’t her mother? he wondered.

Cordelia hugged Buffy as well. “Since you’re not dead, I guess that means I have to give you back your stereo system,” she said teasingly.

“That sounded almost like a Xander remark,” Buffy retorted, finally speaking.

Buffy’s use of his name got Xander’s attention back on her. He literally jumped over the table to pick Buffy up and swing her around. “Cool! You’ll never have to worry about wrinkles!” he said, unable to tell her how grateful he was to see her still among the living.

Buffy looked at him, as saw everything he wasn’t saying. “Now that sounded like Cordy. I think you two are rubbing off on each other.”

The mismatched couple smiled at each other, for once dropping their pretense of hostility. “We’re just glad to see you’re ok,” Cordelia said. “It’ll wear off soon.” Then she notice Buffy’s sweater and drew back. “Please tell me you didn’t get any of that blood on me.”

Methos decided that if he didn’t cut in, this was dissolve into a mush session or an argument, which they didn’t have time for. “We have school tomorrow. I have to teach, and so does Giles. And I don’t think your parents would appreciate you skipping- again,” Methos said wryly. “Go home and to bed for three hours. We’ve had our little battle for today. Richie, there’s no point in your continuing your masquerade as a student- you can stay here and help Giles after getting a little shut eye.”

The Slayerettes nodded, and started to gather their stuff. Buffy watched them, then darted into Giles office to pick up a clean shirt (she had started to keep a small supply their to avoid wandering around Sunnydale a blood-stained mess and attracting unwanted attention).

“Get some sleep, Rupert,” Methos said, almost kindly.

“We have a lot of talking to do,” Giles replied.

“Indeed. But I need the stuff on soul-binding, and you can’t get it while you’re half-dead on your feet. You’ve had an exhausting night, and school starts in four hours.”

Giles groaned. “I’ve been keeping a cot in my office. I will, as Buffy would say, crash there for a little while.” Rubbing his eyes, he headed for his office, remembering just in time that Buffy was changing.

The Slayer bounced out, seeming invigorated from her return from the dead. “Adam, will you walk me home?” she asked. “I have a few questions for you.”

He nodded and started walking. She caught up with him quickly. “It just occurred to me that I can’t be made into Vamp Girl anymore- right?” she asked hopefully. One of her greatest fears had always been that possibility, and it would be a great relief to learn that it wasn’t possible anymore.

“Not that I know of. Now, if it had been your FIRST death,” Methos said, shuddering, “things wouldn’t work out so well. I saw a Vampiric Immortal once, and it wasn’t pretty.” He thought of Caerwin with remorse. Killing him had been terrible- a vampire with Immortal powers. The magics had clashed within Caerwin’s body, rendering him completely insane. And Methos had a horrible certainty that Caerwin hadn’t lost his soul when the demon took control.

Buffy was relieved beyond words. “That’s all I wanted to know.” Then she laughed. “It’s funny to think I returned from the dead, only to go back to school the next morning.”

Methos shrugged. “Life goes on. People are born, live, and die, but that doesn’t stop other people from going about their daily business. Paying taxes, or evading them, whatever the case may be.”

She laughed again, though this time her facial expression was more thoughtful. “Indeed,” she said.

They walked the rest of the way back together. Somewhere along the journey, Buffy slipped her tiny hand into Methos’, and he didn’t pull away.

********



Methos was in a cranky mood. True, that was not at all unusual, but he hadn’t slept hardly at all. After dropping Buffy off at her house, he’d gone and continued to research, along with Giles and Richie. A few centuries ago he could have pulled an all-niter with ease, but now he just felt plain old. Seeing Buffy die, learning of Alexa’s imprisonment, and hand-holding a new Immortal weren’t a good combination for his restfulness.

Most of the students seemed to sense his lousy mood. Since they all lived in Sunnydale (the emphasis is on LIVED in this case- staying alive here wasn’t easy), they had very well-developed senses of self preservation. And those senses were telling them to lay low.

Unfortunately, one Xander Harris, not known for his powers of observation, was fated to aggravate the Oldest Immortal Man known to mankind (or, at least, the Watchers). This was certainly NOT a good thing for the teenager- when teenage Immortality was pitted against 5000 years of REAL Immortality, the results were a foregone conclusion.

However, to be fair, it wasn’t entirely Xander’s fault. Xander had had a long night, especially when one considered he’d lost one of his best friends, only to learn she was Immortal. Most people would have cut the teenager a little more slack if they knew this. Methos knew this.

But Methos wasn’t most people.

The class, one of Methos’ last of the day, walked into the room, all of them on time. To further irritate the Immortal, Buffy walked in. Her presence grated on his nerves like nails on a chalkboard. Their was something about a new Immortal’s Buzz that was slightly off kilter, as if the Quickening still wasn’t fully functional. Buffy slid into her seat after rubbing her temples. Methos’ Buzz was a bit much, especially for a newby.

All of them were on time- except, of course, the afore mentioned male Slayerette. “Sit down, shut up and at least pretend to pay attention,” Methos growled at his class. He opened his book to begin the lecture, and the door swung inwards. Xander had arrived.

“Sit down, moron,” Methos snapped. “Do you realize you’re late!?”

“Do you realize you need a large dosage of Prozac?” Xander retorted as he slid into the only remaining seat- of course, it was in the front row.

Methos’ eyes blazed, and Buffy and Willow started to wager how long it would be until Methos pulled out his sword and made Xander shorter by a foot. “I will not tolerate that kind of disrespect from a student,” he hissed between his teeth.

Cordelia quietly closed her book. They wouldn’t be learning much about history, aside from the fact living through most of it helped promote a serious temper.

“I’d respect a real teacher,” Xander muttered underneath his breath.

Xander had, unknowingly, just hit the wrong button at the wrong time. It was like going into a nuclear base and pushing the big red button labeled “UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE LET THIS BUTTON BE ACTIVATED”. Or, in other words, hitting the self-destruct command.

“You, my dear idiot, have just signed your death wish,” Methos said. The Immortal decided that subtlety was wasted on Xander- besides, Methos was too tired to bother. The class spent the rest of the period of watching one of there own get damaged mentally. Xander managed to get one good crack about Viagra in, but aside from that minor victory, it was Methos all the way. Xander would have emotional scars for years to come.


*******

A blearied-eyed Watcher and a red-headed immortal were all that remained in the library. Giles was frantically paging through a book, trying to find.... something.... that would tell them how the third night of the prophecy would go.... or even when the third night would be. Richie had just finished Cassandra’s Destiny Unbound, and was at a loss. Research had never been his thing.

“So, Giles,” Richie said, “do you want me to do anything in particular?”

“What Mr. Giles wants is for you to go to class,” a voice said, coming from behind the young Immortal. Richie spun around, and his eyes met with on of the most fearsome sights in Sunnydale- Principal Snyder in a mood.

“Um,” Richie stuttered, remembering that he was enrolled as a student too late.

“Skipping on the second day of classes?” Snyder purred, his prey fixed within his sights. “Hardly attractive behavior for a student with such a... colorful record.”

Richie cursed the fact that Snyder had found out about some of his more... colorful exploits. Nothing to compare with Buffy’s record (Methos had shown it to him in a fit of pique against the Slayer), but enough to make sure Snyder would make him miserable.

“He’s helping me with a research project,” Giles inserted calmly. Giles hated talking to the principal- it was like doing the electric slide on thin ice.

“Oh? And why isn’t he in any of his classes today? The books can wait,” Snyder informed him.

“Richie used to work in an antique shop, so he is helping me restore lost books and such. Unfortunately, they decay faster then we can fix them. He’s helping save a bundle for the library’s budget. I promise I’ll return him to class tomorrow.”

Richie heaved a sigh of relief. Snyder surely couldn’t object to such a reasonable request.

Evidently, the troll-like principal considered doing so. His eyes narrowed dangerously, but them he swung around on his heel, leaving without another word. “He’s up to something,” Giles said as soon as Snyder was out of ear ranged.

“Let’s hope it doesn’t contradict what we’re doing,” Richie prayed.


********

Classes were finished for the day. The Slayerette gang, plus two other Immortals, were milling in the library. Xander, still worried about Methos’ ire, carefully kept his mouth shut for a change.

“So what are we going to do now?” Willow asked, voicing what they were all thinking. “We know that Alexa is trapped in the Methuselah Stone, and Buffy’s Immortal.”

Methos was about to reply, but then his eyes shifted rapidly left and right, which Giles recognized as a sign that another Immortal was near.

“You have to invoke the third night tonight,” a female voice said.

Everyone turned around, to be met by the sight of a beautiful red-head. Giles was about to ask who she was and how she knew what was going on when Methos spoke, answering his question..

“Cassandra,” Methos whispered, trying to hide his shock from the Slayerettes.

She nodded grimly. “Hello, bastard,” she replied coolly. “Our reckoning will have to wait. We have more important matters to attend to.” She swept grandly into the room, her cloak flaring around her like a bird’s wings.

The tension in the room was palpable. Giles stepped in, the only other person aware of Cassandra’s powers. “Greetings, milady,” he said. He took her hand and kissed it in respectful tribute. “It is an honor to be graced with your presence.”

She nodded, accepting his homage as her due. Methos could see the centuries she had lived in that nod, the experience only an Immortal could have. “Greetings, Guardian. I have had a vision- tell me, where is the Methuselah Stone?” she asked quietly, her accent a combination of many warring languages.

“Vamp boy has it,” Xander inserted without thinking. Before he could elaborate, Cassandra turned her attention on him. Xander stared back, transfixed. Cordelia elbowed him, trying to get his attention back to where it belonged (namely, on HER), but to no avail. Xander simply watched the Immortal Priestess, oblivious to anything else.

Cassandra stared at him for a minute before releasing him from the spell she cast on all men without meaning to. Tossing her red hair back over her shoulders, she looked at Methos. “So the Slayer’s first love controls it,” she mused. “Things may not be as dismal as I had originally thought. I thought that it had been destroyed, perhaps.”

Methos raised an eyebrow. “A vampire has the Methuselah Stone and you’re not worried?” he asked in amazement.

She smiled enigmatically. “If we recover the Orb, we may be able to salvage the situation.”

Buffy sprang to her feet, ever ready for action. A Slayer didn’t have time to think- she reacted (of course, it was the same impulsiveness that had gotten her killed). “So I go out and do my slayage thing and poof! Problem solved.”

Cassandra sighed. “Violence is not always the way. YOU MUST NOT KILL ANGELUS,” she stressed.

Methos wondered why to himself, but kept his doubts unvoiced. Cassandra undoubtedly had her reasons for making such a demand, and he knew that she wouldn’t betrayed them. Him, she would back-stab gladly, but the Slayerettes had done nothing to earn her wrath, and Cassandra would work for the greater good Buffy and her crew represented. “I’ll get it, then,” he said. He rose to his feet in a movement that would make a professional gymnast jealous. “I think I have an idea on how to get it away from them.” He gestured to the door, and Buffy preceded him.

Cassandra watched them go. Then she turned and spoke to Willow. “Can you tell me about Angelus and Angel?” she asked. “I think I might know a way to restore Angel’s soul- permanently.”

********


“I can’t believe Angel would have the bad taste to live in a factory,” Buffy muttered. “Every time I see it, I just can’t believe it.”

Methos snorted. “It doesn’t surprise me. Vampires are notorious for their overly-dramatic taste.” Then he paused, pulling Buffy around to meet his eyes. “We need a plan,” he said, staring deeply into her eyes.

Buffy nodded. “Angel doesn’t know I’m still alive.”

“Then I storm in, while you grab the orb?” Methos said, following her train of thought.

She nodded. “I hope it doesn’t kill me again. I’ll try to stake Charlotte while we’re at it. Cassandra didn’t say anything about not killing her.”

Methos closed his eyes, pained. “It must be done,” he said.

Buffy smiled at him, lowering his head with her left hand. “I know,” she said, then kissed him.

It was like throwing gasoline on a steady fire. The kiss had been meant as a consolation, but quickly became passionate. Buffy pressed her lithe body against him. She could feel the subtle play of his muscles as they tightened. Methos opened his mouth and wrapped his arms around her waist, literally lifting her off her feet. They kissed for a few minutes before Methos pulled away. His eyes were passionate. “Not now,” he said.

Buffy tried to catch her breath. For a first kiss, it certainly had been something. “After this is done,” Buffy said, caressing his chest lingeringly.

“Maybe,” Methos replied. “I don’t want to get dragged into court for assaulting a minor.”

Buffy laughed. “How about a minor assaulting you?” she teased, her body still flush with arousal from the kiss.

“Maybe some other time. Right now we have business to attend to.”


*********

“She was never meant to be the Slayer,” Cassandra announced, seemingly out of the air. She and Giles were alone in the library, pouring over the Karanda Sextet together (she had three, he had one- she was a much faster reader then even the Watcher).

Giles looked up from his volume, wondering where this had come from. “What do you mean?” he asked, even though he knew. It had been troubling him since discovering Buffy’s Immortality.

She smiled at him, the smile that had entranced a thousand men before Giles. “Buffy has always been pre-Immortal. The Slayer’s mantle should never have fallen on her.”

Giles looked at her seriously, shifting his glasses the way he did when he was nervous. “How did it happen?”

Cassandra sat down beside him, shrugging her slender shoulders. “Who knows? I dream the future, and the past, I see what is happening oceans away, but even I do not know everything. No one knows how the Slayer is selected.” She picked up the book he had been reading, shutting it firmly. “There’s nothing important in there,” she said as a side note before continuing. “What I do know is that the magic is correcting its mistake. Now there is a second Slayer in the world, something that has never happened in all the millennia of the world’s existence. All because of Buffy.” She yawned abruptly.

“Tired?” Giles asked.

She nodded, for once dropping her mythical aura. “I had a straight flight. I left at ten, and got in just as your school was finishing.” She stood up and stretched. “I usually avoid getting involved in things like this.”

“I’m glad you made an exception in this case,” Giles said, smiling warmly.

Cassandra looked into his eyes deeply. She hesitated for a few moments before replying. “So am I,” she said softly.


***********

The two Immortals- the oldest and youngest of them all- crept into the factory. “I forgot to warn him about Spike and Dru!” she thought frantically.

She glanced at Methos, wondering if she dared risk whispering a warning to him. His eyes were focused on the factory, and she decided that he was old enough to take care of himself. She touched his shoulder silently, indicating that she was going to go around the back.

Methos watched her trim figure retreat, then decided to make his entrance. “Enter, stage right,” he whispered to himself.

He walked up to the main doorway, then decided to go for drama. He kicked the door open.

The factory was full of ancient meat machines, and Methos shuddered as the sight of them triggered a mild flashback. He’d seen the damage the machines could do to a careless worker. Angelus, though, was no where to be seen.

A warning tingle ran down his side. Five thousand years had taught him to follow his instincts, so he rolled aside, coming to his feet easily. Just in time.

A sandbag that had been suspended from the roof (the Lord knew WHY) came crashing to the floor, followed by a slightly lighter form wearing all black leather, and looking damn good in it, too. “Nice dodge,” Angelus complimented.

“Comes from dealing with bastards like you,” he informed the vampire. He produced his blade, a slender flash of light surrounded by the eerie shadows. “Now you die!”

Angelus smiled. “I’ve been looking forward to this,” he said darkly. He unsheathed the sword from his back. “Before I kill you, I don’t suppose you’d tell me where you Immortals hide your swords, would you? It’s been puzzling me for a while!”

Methos growled in response, hoping Buffy was moving fast. It would take most of his hard-earned restraint to keep from killing this vampire.

Angelus made the first move, and Methos parried. The vampire was strong, amazingly so, and fast. Methos wondered how long he’d be able to hold out, and feared that it wouldn’t be long enough. The Immortal and vampire made a few exchanges, then pulled back, each looking for weaknesses.

“Did she scream for you?” Angelus asked, almost sweetly. “She did for me- most amazing woman I’ve ever had. That Slayer strength- wonderful. She wrapped her legs around me, and when she had an orgasm- oh! I thought she was going to break my ribs.... probably would have if I’d been mortal.”

Methos knew what Angelus’ tactic was, and forced himself to stay cool, even if he didn’t like what he was hearing. He lunged forward with feigned rage, hating Angelus’ ringing laughter. He watched the window, waiting for the signal.

*****

Buffy, meanwhile, was crawling through the rafters, trying to be quiet. She could hear the sounds of the battle below, but Charlotte was still around. She finally made it to the back of the packing plant. Her eyes widened as she realized that she couldn’t see the crystal. “Where the hell is it?” she whispered.

“Ici- here,” a soft voice answered, thick with a French accent.

Buffy did a handspring with a twist, preparing to face the French femme fatale face-to-face. “So do we battle like the guys are doing, or are we going to handle this in a more lady-like fashion?” she asked.

The French girl laughed joyfully. “No, petite. I am going to give the Methuselah Stone to you, and my Benjamin,”

Buffy looked at her, really looked at her for the first time. The girl’s hair was a careless tumble of curls, and her eyes were dark- Buffy could have sworn she saw the universe reflected with in them. Most of all, though, Buffy couldn’t feel the demon.

“You’re cured...” she whispered.

“If you consider dying a cure, then oui. I prefer to think I am free!” she declared proudly.

“How?” Buffy asked.

“Angelus... he finally repaid me for making me a monster like him.” She tilted her head, the curls cascading over her right shoulder. “But I still owe a debt to my beloved.” She produced the small box that contained the Methuselah Stone. “Give this to him, and tell him I love him!”

Buffy grasped the small box reverently to her chest. “I will,” she promised.

“He is a very special man, non?” Charlotte asked, giggling like a school girl. “Many woman have loved him, yet none have proven his equal. If I were you, I wouldn’t let him go. You fascinate him- make sure you keep things that way! Take care of my Benjamin!” Charlotte commanded. Charlotte waggled her fingers cheerfully, then started to fade. The light in her eyes expanded to engulf her entire body, and Buffy could only watch. Soon their was nothing left, aside from a Slayer who had just had the most profound spiritual experience of her young life.

Buffy stared for a minute longer, then remembered what she had come here to do. Clutching the box tightly, she took off, remembering to throw a stone through the window just before she made her getaway. If things went according to plan, Methos would be meeting her back at the school so they could plan their next step.


*******


Many people believe the world follows many simple rules laid out by the Laws of Physics. This, as the Slayerette crew would readily admit (with the possible exception of Willow) was patently untrue- the world was, in fact, governed by Murphy’s Law- the well-know idea that anything that can go wrong would do so. So to say things “should go according to plan” (or even think it, as Buffy had on her way out of the factory) was asking for trouble... in other words, jinxing the whole process.

Sunnydale, though, was located on the Hellmouth. This meant all sorts of weird things happened there. This time, something beyond strange happened. The plan actually worked.

Methos heard the glass shatter, and knew it was his cue. He pulled out a small grenade and threw it at Angelus. The vampire laughed as he batted it aside, but his laughter was short lived- this was a special Willow-designed grenade. It began to hiss, and a combination of garlic and holy mist (holy water heated up until it was in steam form) began to leak out. Angelus shrieked in a voice that couldn’t possibly be human.

“Have an appointment!” Methos teased. “We’ll get back to this at some other time!”

Methos ran out of the vampire’s lair, wiping his eyes as he went. The garlic had made them sting. He couldn’t feel Buffy’s presence in the immediate area, so he took off for the school at top speed. He wished he had had the foresight to bring his vehicle along, but it was probably better he hadn’t. Bloody Americans insisted on driving on the wrong side of the road, and in the state he was in, he’d probably get himself killed. He really didn’t feel like explaining to a morgue attendant that he wasn’t really dead.

Anyway, he managed to make it back to the Slayer’s Den (as he had begun to call the school library to himself) relatively unscathed. He walked in to be met by the sight of all the Slayer’s friends wrapped up in some kind of scheme. He looked at Cassandra, and raised an eyebrow. “Something go wrong with your brew, witch?” he asked.

She shook her head. “Buffy successfully retrieved the Methuselah Stone.”

It was Giles who spoke after her. “What was interesting is the fact that it was given to her- it seems Angelus had already killed Charlotte, and her spirit wanted to make amends.”

“She sent her love,” Buffy added as a conclusion. “Now there comes a problem with the Stone itself. We think there’s some kind of ritual-thingy we can do to maybe give Angel his soul back,” she said softly, the emotions conflicting in her blue eyes.

Xander picked up the box that held the Methuselah Stone and tossed it in a careless fashion towards Methos. He reached out and caught it, raising an eyebrow. “Apparently this thing works better then Ma Bell when it comes to contacting a soul stuck in it,” Xander said with his impish grin. “So go ahead and make the call!”

“Why?” Methos asked Giles. “I thought we were simply going to set Alexa free.”

The Watcher fidgeted with a book, not meeting his friend’s gaze. “We think that, by using the Methuselah Stone itself, we can restore Angelus’ soul. Alexa herself may be able to help in that aim.”

“Would you rather go do it by yourself?” Willow asked with her usual keen perception.

Methos smiled softly at the red head, once again thinking that she was one of the most special people he’d ever encountered in his endless life. “I’d like that very much,” he said. He glanced around the room and rose to his feet. “Buffy, you may join me,” he informed the new Immortal.

They went into Giles’ office and Methos slowly opened the box. Methos held up his hand, grasping the Methuselah Stone. "Come to me, Alexa," he beckoned.

The light that had vanished when Buffy had touched the stone returned tenfold, and then shorted out with a brief flare. In its place stood an attractive woman. The woman was obviously dead- she was transparent, and all the colors she had possessed in life looked muted. Rather then eyes, Buffy got the impression of vast fields of stars, reminding her of the way she’d seen the universe reflected in Charlotte’s. "Adam!" Alexa exclaimed gladly.

Buffy withdrew into a corner, content to watch for a change. Methos' eyes blazed with emotion. He set the stone down gingerly, casting it an ugly glare before speaking gently to Alexa's shade. "I'm so sorry. I got you into this."

Alexa snorted, surprising Buffy. Ghosts can snort? she wondered briefly, before returning her attention to Alexa's response. "It's not your fault," Alexa reassured him. "Angelus used the orb to
snatch my soul from Heaven. The Methuselah Stone was just a tool. He lied. I wasn't trapped until he trapped me."

"But how did he know of you?" Methos asked.

Alexa frowned. "I don't know. That's something we'll have to discover."

"We'll?" Buffy asked. "Aren't you going back to Heaven?" she asked.

Alexa shook her head. "I can't get back until Angelus is dead. Until he releases his claim on the Methuselah Stone, I am, in effect, trapped on this plain of existence." She looked at Methos, smiling gently. “It’s seems you have all sorts of old flames crawling out of the woodwork for no apparent reason, huh, Adam? I guess after a few hundred decades, you tend to wrack up a number of them.” The ghost looked at the youngest Immortal, smiling almost slyly. “But he’s worth the aggravation if you can put up with that ego of his.”

Methos felt a faint blush crawl up his neck. Being stuck between two females who were gossiping about him was never ANY man’s (mortal OR Immortal) idea of a good time. He’d certainly learned one thing about women in his lifetime- no matter how long he lived, he’d never understand them.

“Really?” Buffy asked, starting to get comfortable with Methos’ dead girlfriend. “I’ll keep that in mind- he certainly knows how to kiss.”

“Experience,” Alexa said. The stars in her eyes glinted, and Buffy liked her mischievous grin on her face. The Slayer wished she had met Alexa when the woman had been alive- they could have been terrific friends.

“Enough!” Methos finally howled, losing his hard-earned cool. “We have stuff to attend to- like getting you free, love,” he told Alexa.

“We need to have Angel for that,” Alexa said. She looked towards the door and smiled back at the two Immortals. “I think it’s time we got a game plan together.”


*****

The Slayerettes and their accomplices looked at the squirming vampire grimly. When it came down to it, capturing Angelus hadn’t been that difficult. Intelligent as he was, he had one downfall- his pride.

The group had surrounded the warehouse, preparing for a long siege. Methos had led the main assault, Giles following him with a crossbow. Angelus had realized that taking Giles out first would be the wisest move, so he had lunged forward, ready to make the kill. He had been stopped by Buffy,

Buffy had yanked him backwards, his look of stunned surprise satisfying the urge to hurt him more seriously. If things went according to plan, Angel would need his body back, and she didn’t think he’d appreciate any wounds.

Together the Slayerette gang had bound him up for shipping, Methos and Richie wrapping the chains around him- if something went wrong, they could afford to die.

Buffy had managed to keep him subdued long enough to get him into the library, then unceremoniously dump him the center of a the floor.

Which brings us to the current point in time. Cassandra was drawing on the floor, using a thick piece of white chalk. Her lines were eerily precise, but Xander guessed it was years of experience. “So what do we do now?” he asked.

“You’ve all read over the ritual,” she said, not looking up from her work. A circle with elaborate criss-crossed lines was taking shape.

“The key to the ritual is that you must want it to work,” Giles said, tossing his own two cents in.

The Slayerettes waited in silence as Cassandra finished. “Richie, Cordelia, since you’re not actually involved in the ritual, I advise you to stand back. I’m going to be Priestess, and the rest of you just need to step into the circle when it is time.” She dragged the bound Angelus into the center of the circle and left him there, stepping so she was standing on the very edge.

“Are we ready?” she asked.

Her question was met by nods from everyone. With a dainty hand, she unlocked the case that held the Methuselah Stone. Carefully, she picked it up, and the stone seemed to pulse at her touch. Her hands cupped it gently as she spoke to it as though it was sentient- and perhaps it was. “Come. I call upon the power of ages!” she declared softly. “The circle is drawn, the players have met. Infuse the lines with your power, so nothing evil may leave the circle.”

Like a slow fire, the white light from the Stone spilled out of her hands, tracing its way along the chalk. The teenagers watched, amazed, and Giles recognized a true Mistress of the Magical Arts.

Cassandra's eyes glowed with the power of the Methuselah Stone. Angelus struggled against his bonds, his feral face hissing as the light settled on his yellow eyes.

"Demon, I command you," Cassandra intoned grimly. Angelus opened his mouth and shrieked, the demon within in complete control of the body it shared with Angel. "Listen to those you have wronged."

A wind from nowhere spun into the library, whipping clockwise around, lifting the women's hair up off their shoulders and flipping the pages of the books on Giles' desk.

Methos stepped into the circle, drawing his sword. Carefully, he cut his palm, letting the blood drip to the floor. "Mine is the oldest hurt. You stole my beloved from my very arms, remaking her in your own image. For love stolen, I lay my curse on you."

Next Giles came forth, and he, too, cut his palm. "Demon, I hate you. You callously betrayed my beloved, a woman who was trying to help you, snapping her neck without a single regret. For that, I lay my curse on you."

Finally Alexa floated into the circle. "Demon, I regret knowing you. Not only do you torment my beloved, but you denied my eternal rest as well. Though I have no blood left to shed, I lay my curse on you."

The white glow of Cassandra's eyes spread over her face and down her body. "Three curses laid, anguished blood of the lovers spilled- man, immortal and ghost. For this, demon, I banish you." The light flowed off Cassandra like water, moving towards Angelus. Before it could touch him, though, Buffy stepped into he circle. Her presence was like a dam; the glow halted.

"The man within Angelus is good. He is my beloved, and I beg, Priestess, for you to spare him." She held her new sword on her hand and sliced, cutting almost to the bone. The blood gushed forth into
the circle, but Buffy stood steadfast, waiting. Her Quickening healed her, but it would take a while for her body to replenish the blood she had lost.

"Who else will speak for him, then?" Cassandra demanded formally.

Willow stepped into the circle. "I, who was his friend. Angel saved my life many times, and the lives of my friends. For this he has earned my friendship." She slit her palm boldly, though not as
deep as Buffy had.

Xander was the last to enter the circle. "I hate the demon Angelus, but Angel is a strong and decent man. I respect him." He cut his palm, and the circle started to glow as soon as a drop of his blood
hit the floor.

"Three damn Angelus, and three speak for Angel. Lover, friend and rival's blood pool together. The decision is made! Angelus is banished for eternity, while Angel shall be spared," Cassandra chanted
proudly. The dam Buffy had formed vanished, and the light continued onwards and enveloped Angelus. He screamed, the scream of a creature descending to Hell. The light brightened, and Cassandra started to
levitate a few inches off the floor. "I give to the Magick the Methuselah Stone- consume it!" she boomed, her voice shaking the library itself.

A flare of light, beyond that of the sun, then darkness.

******

Richie and Cordelia were the first to regain consciousness, probably because they were the only two not directly involved in the ceremony. Shaking her head in amazement, Cordelia sat up. "Did it work?" she demanded to know.

Richie rose to his feet, trying to ignore the pounding pain in his temples. "I don't know. We’ll have to wait until Angel wakes up.” He looked at the heap of bodies sprawled around the room. The books were everywhere- it looked like a hurricane had blown through. Richie remembered the wind, the glow, and was amazed at what had happened. When he had been Cordelia’s age, the world had been simple- just steal and fight to survive, and keep his mouth shut. Then he had met MacLeod.

Richie felt his Quickening working, and looked over at the three other Immortals. He couldn’t feel their presence. Trying to hide his concern from Cordelia, he went and checked for a pulse on Buffy.
Nothing. Methos and Cassandra were dead as well. With great trepidation, he checked Giles. Amazingly, the man lived, as did Willow and Xander. Why did the Immortals die? he wondered.

Giles opened his eyes slowly. “Help me sit up.”

Richie helped the middle aged man do so. “We can’t figure out what happened. What’s worse is, all the Immortals died.... and they haven’t come back yet. Any ideas?”

Giles frowned. “I really don’t know. According to my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been attempted before. Cassandra would be the one who would know.” He looked at the dead woman almost longingly, as if he wanted to get rid of the responsibility that had once again thrust itself on him.

They heard a sudden intake of breath, and turned. “Immortal coming back to life,” Richie explained. “And according to my headache, it has to be Methos.”

Sure enough, the oldest Immortal sat up. He looked around the room, then his eyes fixated on Buffy. She was curled up on her side. “Something happened,” Methos whispered.

“Well, you all died,” Cordelia inserted tartly. “That’s certainly something.”

Methos sighed, too drained to chastise his student. “No, something happened. I could feel the power racing through me, and then there was... a release.”

By this time, everyone except Angelus was sitting up. Cassandra rose to her feet, a little shaky in spite of her attempts to keep her noble priestess persona on. She swayed over to wear Angel lay, resting her slender hand on his forehead. She closed her eyes in concentration, while the Slayerettes waited with bated breath. She moaned low in her throat, and Giles came up behind her, placing his hands on her back to steady her. “Well?” Giles finally asked.

She opened her eyes and fixed them on his face. Buffy got the impression that the Watcher and the Prophetess were the only two in the entire room. “The demon is gone,” she said softly. “The question is whether Angel’s soul reclaimed his body.”

“Angel would never miss the chance to be with Buffy,” Willow said softly, watching the Immortal Slayer cross the room.

Buffy crouched by Angel, not daring to hope. She watched his chest, though he, like most vampires, didn’t breath. They all sat in silence together, watching. Finally Angel’s eyelashes started to flutter. He opened them, and his gaze fixated on his beloved.

“Buffy,” he whispered, caressing her cheek gently. Her eyes welled with tears, and the moment was broken. Xander let out a hoot and swung Cordelia around in a dance of celebration. Willow hugged Richie, then blushed as the red-headed Immortal looked down on her head, astonished. Cassandra and Giles contented themselves to more sedate smiles. Methos, though, looked on impassively.

Of everyone in the room, only Cassandra looked at Methos, seeming to recognize his pain. She allowed herself a slight smile at his expense- watching his beloved in the arms of another was the greatest torment she could think to torment him with. Methos looked back at her, nodding slightly to acknowledge her victory. Then, quiet as a panther on a prowl, he rose to his feet, leaving the Slayer and her vampire together.

Cassandra watched him go, wondering why she felt the beginnings of regret.


********

Thank God for Saturdays, Willow thought. She rolled out of her bed, and started to straighten things almost as soon as her dainty feet touched the floor. She’d had the luxury of sleeping late, which would admit (privately) she needed. It had been a harrowing week, and the culmination of the ceremony last night took more out of her then she had liked.

As a compulsive neat freak, she kept meticulous notes in a notebook. She thought about getting an electronic diary, but she, better than most, knew how easy it was to break into places, and she certainly didn’t want anyone to see her journals. She normally would have taken this quiet Saturday morning to curl up with a cup of cocoa in her bunny slippers and update her records of the Scooby Gang, but this time, she needed to know what had happened before she could begin recording history for posterity- not that posterity would even admit that a Slayer existed, let alone saved the world on a weekly basis.

“Hello?”

Willow smiled into the receiver, even though Giles couldn’t see her. “How’s Angel?” she asked.

She could picture him adjusting his glasses the way he did when he was uncomfortable. “It appears that Angel is going to be fine. It seems he still has his powers, yet this time his soul is firmly entrenched. Cassandra wasn’t able to detect any loopholes this time around.”

“Huh? How come he still has his demon’s powers? Shouldn’t he be entirely human?” Willow asked. She’d been studying occult to attempt to cover some of the slack Ms. Calendar’s death had left, but she still was a little confused.

“Think of it like a brain-dead person. There’s no actual conscious thought, yet the body itself remains. Angel’s body is that of a vampire- there’s no way around that, yet we’ve managed to destroy the demon within him,” Giles explained. “It’s rather a complicated subject- I’m not sure I understand it completely myself....”

Willow bit her lip, trying to decide how to broach the next subject. Go for the heart, Willow-girl, she chided after there had been a few minutes of dead air. “And Methos? Is he going to stay here to teach Buffy?” she asked.

She heard Giles take in a deep breath to steady himself. “Methos doesn’t want to be in the same town as Angel- he hasn’t really forgiven him, and I can’t say I blame him. He’s decided to leave her training to Richie and Cassandra. Richie is strong enough to teach her the basic moves she’ll need, while Cassandra can see if Buffy can hone any of her Slayer techniques into advantages she can use in a Challenge from another Immortal.”

Willow thought there was more to it than that, yet decided it would be more prudent to maintain a silence. “Thanks, Giles,” she said quietly, then hung up. She stared out the window for a few minutes, wondering why life never got simpler.

************


Methos walked into Angel’s Apartment. His blood from healing Buffy was still on the carpet, and the wall was cracked from where Buffy landed after the Methuselah Stone had thrown her. Walking further, he found the bedroom. Angel was sitting on the bed, staring up at the ceiling.

Angel looked up at Methos. “I wish I could tell you how sorry I was,” he said to the ancient Immortal.

Methos smiled sadly. “Guilt and regret aren’t going to get you anywhere. I suggest you put it behind you and go on living. Or what passes for living in your case,” he amended with a fleeting smile.

Angel slumped, denial clear in his brown eyes. “You can’t imagine the things I’ve done. Thousands dead by my hand. I deserve to suffer,” he said broodingly.

“Pah!” Methos spat derisively. “If killing thousands mean that you have to wallow in agony for a century, get over it. If you must make amends, do it by doing something with your life!”

Angel shook his head. “I don’t deserve to continue my existence at all,” he mourned.

Methos felt his anger flare. He knew Buffy loved this vampire, and he wasn’t going to let Angel destroy her by dragging her down with him. “Do you love Buffy?” he asked.

Angel’s face grew even grimmer. “With my entire soul.”

“I think we’ve already proven that. So here’s the bottom line- stop moping or I MAKE you stop moping.”

A trace of Angel’s old spirit came back. “You really thing so? I’d like to see you try.”

Methos decided to play his trump card. “You think you’re such a bad guy? Well, I was the baddest of the bad for a while.” He leaned in so that their faces were no more than six inches appart. “Ever heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? I was Death...”

Angel’s eyes widened. “I-I-”

“I’ll let you think on it for a while. Just so you know, the guilt doesn’t work for more than a century or two at a time.”

With that, he left the room. He hoped the seed he had planted would take root. He walked out into the sunlight, determining that he had one more stop to make before he left Sunnydale.


********


Buffy looked at Methos, admiring his beautiful eyes sadly. "Have you ever wondered what might have been?" she asked.

Methos knew what she was referring to. "I've found it better not to. Angel needs you now more then ever," he said.

She nodded. "I know. And I love him. But…."

Methos tilted her head back to kiss her. Her body melted into his, and she groaned softly. "Besides," he whispered, "we're Immortals. Monogamy doesn't work for us. After you get a couple decades under your belt, we'll see." He kissed her again, stroking her back, then around to her chest. "Angel doesn't get up for another few hours. How about a nice prolonged farewell?" Methos asked teasingly, though he was more then half-serious.

Buffy shook her head. "I couldn't- Angel needs me, and I can't have a divided heart. Not now."

Methos laughed. "I see." He bent forward and kissed her again, but it wasn't a kiss of farewell. It was a kiss that said "until later".

And Buffy looked forward to that day. But for now, she had Angel, her friends, and eternal life. More then enough; more then any Slayer had ever had before. She watched as the Ancient Immortal left the room, wondering. Then she turned around and started off towards Angel's apartment, waiting
for the sun to set.

THE END

Closing Notes: Damn, I’m glad! FINALLY! I always knew the series would have an ambiguous ending- after all, that’s the way both Highlander and Buffy are! The series will continue in jolts and spurts... the first sidestory is on my site- It’s titled “Immortality, Slayer Style” and tells of Buffy’s first Immortal battle!
To be honest, I don’t think this series is my best piece of writing- that is definitely “The Myth of Methos”... if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to! (shameless plug!)
Now, bw a good reader, and FEED THE AUTHOR! She gets hungry.....

The End

You have reached the end of "Several Brands of Immortality". This story is complete.

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