Vengeance of the Reaper
Macboru

Rating--R (graphic violence)

Mackenzie O'Byrne and Thomas Jager are 
my invention based on the preceding copyrighted concepts.

Disclaimer--The concept and characters of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" 
(Buffy, Xander, Willow, Oz,   Joyce, Giles, et all) belong to Mr. 
Joss Whedon, Warner Bros. And Mutant Enemy.
The concept and characters of "Highlander" (Duncan and Connor Macleod, 
Joe Dawson, Methos, et all)   belong to Davis and Panzer Productions 
and Rysher Entertainment.
The concept and characters of  "The X-Files" (Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, 
Walter Skinner, et all) belong   to Mr. Chris Carter, 10-13 
Productions and 20th Century Fox. 

No profit has been or will be made from this story.

Summary--Mackenzie O'Byrne and Buffy Summers are trying to continue 
their relationship when Mac's old enemy returns, bringing in his wake 
a couple of FBI agents.

Author's note--This a sequel to "Enter the Reaper". If you're looking 
for titles in a similar vein,   check out "The Axer Carrick Cycle" by 
Henry Wyckoff and "Chronicles of the Wanderer" by Steve   Pantovich. 
Oh, yeah  relationshippers beware. Despite Mr. Carter's stated 
preference, I don't quite  see how  those two keep their hands off one 
another. I've fixed that. A second sequel is in the  works.

E-mail the author at macboru@hotmail.com  


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        Vengeance of the Reaper 
                By macboru
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Prologue 
Sunnydale, Ca. 
150 Creek St. 
0830, Sunday


Buffy Summers stirred and blinked her eyes open. Her boyfriend was 
sitting up, leaned back on a pair   of pillows he'd propped against the 
headboard. Languorously, the young woman pulled herself up to lay   her 
head on his stomach. Mackenzie O'Byrne lifted his arm to allow her to 
settle against him. Gently,   he began to stroke her hair.

After a while Buffy softly said "Penny?"

Mac gave a grunt.

"Grrr?" She echoed.

"I was just thinking that since you're over the hill now, I ought to 
trade you in on a newer model,"   he teased. Buffy had celebrated her 
twentieth birthday the day before.

"'*Over the hill*'!" she growled. Reaching under the covers for 
something vulnerable, she gave the   man a hard pinch. That wasn't easy 
to do  Mac was more or less built like a rock.

"Ouch!" he yelped.

"'Over the hill'?" she said again, scowling up at him.

"Yeah," he answered. "You know. *Old*."

Buffy wrapped her hand around something sensitive and looked daggers at 
her lover. The two of them   stared at one another for a long moment. 
Mac broke first. A wide smile spread across his youthful   features. 
After another beat, Buffy returned his smile. The warmth between the 
two lovers was   palpable.

Releasing her grip, Buffy turned in his arms and got up on her knees. 
Grabbing his head with both   hands, she leaned forward and kissed him 
softly. After a few seconds she sat back.

"So I should pack?" she teased.

Mac gazed at the naked woman kneeling in front of him. She was easily 
the most beautiful sight he'd   ever beheld. "Maybe not just yet," he 
seemed to decide finally. "Maybe you've got one or two years   left in 
you." Buffy rolled her eyes. She was going to look sixteen for the rest 
of her life and they   both knew it. They also both knew that that 
pleased him far more than her. Buffy had an occasional   vision of 
being carded for a drink on her two hundredth birthday.

Mac smiled at the woman he loved and pulled her close.


On Interstate 5 a dark gray sedan sped south. Early that day its driver 
had set out from San   Francisco. The car easily wove through the 
Sunday morning traffic. Keeping precisely to the posted   speed limit, 
its passage went unnoticed. There was nothing at all remarkable about 
the car. It had   been selected by the driver  if not the late owner - 
for that very reason.

Driving down the highway, Polovsky saw a road sign informing him that 
L.A. was a hundred and fifty   miles away. The immortal grinned coldly. 
In a few hours he'd be there. Within a day, he'd be in   Sunnydale. 
Within a week - at the most -  he'd take the head of Mackenzie O'Byrne.

Next to the immortal rested a San Francisco newspaper. Its headline 
screamed "*Third murder victim   found*".

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Part 1

Scene 1

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St.
1000, Sunday

Buffy came downstairs and entered the kitchen to be greeted by the 
smell of fried eggs and coffee.   She fixed a cup, gave Mac a quick 
peck on the cheek and sat at the kitchen table to watch him cook.   In 
a few minutes, Mac set a plate of food in front of her and joined Buffy 
at the table. She watched   him eat with a disbelieving smile. The 
young woman had never seen a man that could consume so much,   so 
quickly.

"Don't forget, we're having dinner at my Mom's today," she reminded 
him. She didn't think he'd have   forgotten, she just wanted him to 
stop eating long enough to answer. It gave her the opportunity to   
shovel some of the food off her plate and on to his. Buffy was a little 
afraid of getting her hands   too near his food when he was eating.

Completely oblivious to her intention, Mac stopped vacuuming his plate. 
"Sure, sweetheart," he   answered as she slid half her portion in front 
of him. Seeing this, he cocked an eyebrow at her. "Not   hungry?"

"Mac," she scolded him, "if I ate everything you put in front of me, 
I'd be something like a size   twenty."

Mac grinned at her. "I think we can find a way to burn the calories," 
he suggested with the hint of a   leer in his voice. Buffy grinned back 
at him.

"Cradle robber," she said, and winked.


Buffy and Mac were sitting on the porch, Buffy comfortably ensconced in 
his lap, with their feet   kicked up on the rail when Thomas Jager 
drove up into their driveway on a massive Harley. Setting the   kick-
stand, he dismounted the bike and strolled up the steps to the pair. He 
carried a newspaper in   his hand.

"Hi, Thomas," Buffy said.

Mac called out something in French.

Jager responded in the same language, then turned and nodded at Buffy, 
saying in his vaguely German-  accented voice, "Hello, Buffy. How are 
you today?"

"Suddenly annoyed," she answered. "I think you two do that whole French 
thing just to get to me."

The German returned, "In truth, no."

Mac added, "I just don't want this ugly bastard blistering your 
innocent young ears, honey." He   kissed and nuzzled her neck. Buffy 
squirmed in his lap, having a happy. After a moment  and   *entirely* 
too soon in Buff's estimation  Mac pulled his lips away and said to 
Jager, "So, Hunter.   What's up?"

Jager handed over the paper and said something else in French. This 
time, Buffy understood one of the   words. The word was 'Polovsky'. 
Feeling her boyfriend suddenly tense beneath her, the young woman   
knew she'd heard correctly.

"Whoa, guys! Enough with the whole talking around me thing," she 
complained. "I just heard a bad   word. It sounded suspiciously like 
'Polovsky'."

Mac unfolded the paper. The front page's headline screamed "*Third 
murder victim found!*" Buffy's   eyes widened as she caught part of the 
first paragraph. The words 'murder' and 'rape' jumped out at   her.

"*Mierde*!" breathed Mac. Then he was sliding out from under the woman 
in his lap, dropping the paper   as he rose. Buffy snatched it up as 
she thumped into the empty chair. Noticing that the paper was   from 
San Francisco, she read the story. She heard Mac start shooting a 
barrage of questions at Thomas   in French.

"Mac!" she warned. "*English*."

Mac switched languages in the middle of a sentence without pause. "-any 
idea where he is?"

"Sorry, Reaper. There's not even any proof that he did this," 
temporized Jager.

"It's him," answered Mac flatly.

"We're trying. I called Dawson this morning. We need some luck."

Jager was a Watcher, member of a secret society that observed and 
recorded the lives of immortals.   The watched  ergo 'Watchers'. The 
same circumstances that had brought Mac to Sunnydale had led him   to 
become aware of the Watchers. Joe Dawson was big in the Watcher 
community. The man had proven in   the past that he could make miracles 
happen. Still, Jager was right  they needed some luck.

Almost all immortals had Watchers. Polovsky's had died in a car wreck 
weeks before. Since that time   Watchers all over the world had been 
looking for him. Mac now knew  knew in his bones  that the   bastard 
had gone to ground in San Francisco.

Mac had plenty of reason to want him dead *personally*. Polovsky had 
killed his teacher, an immortal   named Finn Mac Cuhill.

Buffy finished the article and looked up at her lover and his Watcher. 
She'd seen that look on Mac's   face before. One really bad night 
recently she and her best friend Willow had almost died. *Would*   have 
died, if Mac hadn't thundered in to the basement where they were being 
held captive like the   wrath of god himself. She had seen him 
literally tear the head off of a vampire that night.

He'd had that very expression on his face at the time.


Buffy sat with Thomas in the kitchen drinking coffee. Mac was out back 
venting his frustration on one   of the two heavy punching bags.

"All right, Thomas, give," she ordered the Watcher. "I'm starting to 
have a major wiggins here."

Jager looked at the young woman for a moment, wondering what to say. He 
admired Buffy. He had some   idea of the horrors she'd dealt with as 
the Slayer  the one girl out of her generation chosen to   protect 
humanity from the vampires. Consequently, he was pretty sure she'd 
never dealt with anything   like this. A few weeks before, Reaper had 
assembled a strike team to help the Slayer clean out the   vast bulk of 
the vampire population that was infesting Sunnydale, postponing his 
pursuit of the   immortal Jan Polovsky to do so. During that time, 
she'd discovered that she was an immortal. And she   and Mac had fallen 
in love.

Now her man was gearing up to pursue Polovsky. Jager knew it and so did 
she. She wanted to know the   details about *why*. More, she deserved 
to know.

Jager had been the Reaper's Watcher for nearly ten years. They were 
brothers of the Legion, a strong   tie. Between that personal 
connection and the Watcher's intimate familiarity with the immortal, 
Jager   had built up great respect for his 'assignment'. Since the two 
of them had met, a strong friendship   had rapidly grown between them.

Because of all that, he decided to answer Buffy's question as fully as 
he could.

"About two hundred years ago  in 1801, to be exact  Reaper's teacher 
discovered that a group of   nuns had been slaughtered at an abbey in 
Silesia  that's in Poland," the Watcher answered in   response to her 
confused look. "The man who killed them had taken his time. From start 
to finish, it   probably took more than a month to finish them all. 
Their murderer had locked them in chains  the   young ones at least. 
The others he simply killed outright. The young ones he...played with. 
One at a   time.

"Seeing what had been done, Mac Cuhill joined the hunt for the 'man' 
that had...savaged...them. He   was relentless in his pursuit, but came 
up dry." The Watcher sipped his coffee.

"Almost two year later," he continued, "Mac Cuhill learned of a similar 
spectacle in Austria.   Immediately he went there and took up the chase 
again. This time he had some luck. He cornered   Polovsky in a church. 
Holy ground, so he could do nothing but wait. As he sat in the church, 
Polovsky   taunted him.

"Then Polovsky set the church on fire. In the smoke and confusion, he 
escaped, Mac Cuhill dogging his   heels. Polovsky had great luck that 
day. Somehow, he eluded his pursuer. Yet Mac Cuhill never stopped   
hunting him. They even fought a couple of times. Both times, Polovsky 
escaped him. Always lucky that   one. Just over a month ago, they met 
again. Here.

"Again with the bastard's infernal luck! Attacked and weakened by 
vampires, Mac Cuhill fell to his   enemy. You were here for the rest."

Buffy thought about the day she'd met Mac. At their first meeting the 
Slayer had been sitting on the   ground, knocked down by an unfamiliar 
sensation. Not initially realizing that Buffy was unaware of   her 
status as an immortal, Mac had believed that *she* was the one that 
killed Finn Mac Cuhill and   challenged her. Subsequently, he had 
informed her of what she was and what that entailed. Their   meeting 
was the first link in the chain of events caused by Polovsky's killing 
Mac Cuhill and ending   with Buffy moving in with O'Byrne.

Buffy had known that Polovsky was unfinished business for her 
boyfriend. She simply hadn't understood   the truth as to why, assuming 
Mac's unvoiced obsession was a simple desire for vengeance. Mac hadn't   
corrected her assumption. Not wanting to upset her and disturb their 
bliss, he'd decided that   Polovsky had enough of a head start that, in 
effect, hunting for the immortal could be put off.

Now three innocent women were dead. Buffy knew it must be tearing him 
apart. Leaving the Watcher in   the kitchen, she went out into the 
backyard.

Mac had a calm, cold expression on his face as he pummeled the heavy 
bag. Dressed only in a pair of   sweat pants, the veteran was drenched 
with perspiration. His hands were bleeding from the punishment   he was 
inflicting. The bag was splattered with sweat and blood. As Buffy 
watched, he suddenly seized   the bag with both hands and began 
alternately driving his knees into hit  left, right, left,   right...

Finally, Mac collapsed to the ground exhausted. The woman walked over 
to him and crouched down on her   knees. Seeing that tears were 
streaming down his face, Buffy's heart wrenched.

Wrapping her arms around the man, she tried to comfort him. "It's not 
your fault, Mac," she said   softly.

"No?" Mac growled.

"No," she assured him firmly. "We both know  if you'd known where to 
find him, you'd've been off   like a shot."

"I could have *looked*," he stated. "I should have hunted him!"

"Where?" she demanded. "And don't say 'In San Francisco'  you didn't 
know he was there!"

"Maybe I would have if I hadn't been..." Mac's voice trailed off.

"If you hadn't been *what*, Mac? Helping me? Saving lives here?"

Mac looked away from her. "If I hadn't put my own desire to stay here 
ahead of my duty!" he snarled.   "If I hadn't decided that you were 
more important!"

Buffy looked stricken. 'Oh, God!' she worried. 'Does he blame *me*?' 
The young woman sat back away   from him as tears of pain formed in her 
eyes.

Suddenly, Mac reached out and grabbed her. Pulling her close, he 
squeezed her in his arms. For the   first time in as long as the 
immortal could remember  perhaps the first time in his life  he broke   
down and sobbed. The rage and pain he felt at the loss of Finn, his 
guilt that he hadn't surrendered   his own happiness with Buffy to 
track Polovsky, all the years of struggle, death, war and loss   
overwhelmed Mac all at once. Holding the woman he loved, he cried in 
her arms.

Buffy didn't know how to react. She'd never pictured Mac like this. 
Never in her life had she   believed she would be comforting someone as 
she was at that moment. Not knowing what else to do,   Buffy did 
exactly the right thing  she held her man quietly as he sobbed.


Jager watched from the kitchen door as his friend cried in Buffy's 
arms. After a few moments he went   back and sat down at the kitchen 
table. After a minute's consideration, the Watcher decided that this   
was something that should undoubtedly be recorded for posterity. He 
also knew that it wouldn't be.   The display in the backyard would 
remain secret. Undoubtedly historians of the future would   appreciate 
reading about the moment when the immortal called the Reaper had become 
human, when he was   finally pushed past his limit and was confronted 
with the choice of becoming a man or a monster.

Too bad.


After a while, Mac quieted. Buffy was gently stroking his hair as she 
held him. His own hold of her   became less desperate, more tender. 
Looking at his lady, he wiped the tears from her face. In a   moment, 
she did the same for him. Then they kissed.

Breaking his lips away from hers, he whispered, "I love you. Remember 
that, no matter what  I love   you."

Buffy moaned, "I love you, too," into his cheSt.
Finally, the two of them got up and returned to the house. Seeing that 
Jager had left, they quietly   moved upstairs and started cleaning up. 
Mac climbed into the shower, letting the warmth of the water   ease the 
last of his tension away. Buffy joined him and began soaping his back. 
In a short time the   lovers were on the bed, still wet from the 
shower. Desperately, they clung to each other, holding on   as if 
afraid to let go. Buffy cried throughout their coupling, Mac trying to 
kiss away her tears.

In the years to come, Buffy always thought it was the sweetest, most 
powerful love they ever made.


 Scene 2
Sunnydale, Ca.
1630 Rabello Dr
1630, Sunday

Buffy pulled her car into her mother's driveway. The car was all of 
three days old. Mac had decided   that Buffy required transportation. 
With his typically pragmatic approach to problem solving, he'd   picked 
Buffy up from school, driven her to a car dealership and said 'Pick 
one.'

She'd been pretty excited about it at the time. Now, with her entire 
world falling apart, the car was   just transportation. As soon as she 
walked into her mother's house, Joyce saw that something was very   
wrong.

"Where's Mac, honey?" she asked her daughter.

"He can't make it, Mom. Something sort of came up."

Joyce studied her daughter intently. Whatever had 'come up' was 
obviously serious trouble. Joyce   could think of only one thing that 
might cause trouble for the veteran  another immortal. At that,   she 
only knew of *one* immortal that Mac really wanted a piece of.

"That 'something' wouldn't be named 'Polovsky' would it?" she asked.

Buffy's mouth dropped open. "How did... How could..." she stammered 
out.

"Joe Dawson and Colonel Deblout told me. What's Mac going to do?"

"Did you hear about those women that were killed in 'Frisco?" Buffy 
asked. Joyce nodded. "Well, Mac's   decided that Polovsky did it. He's 
getting ready to go up there," Buffy's voice devolved into a wail   as 
she broke down and began to cry.

Joyce went to her daughter and held her.


 Scene 3
Sunnydale Ca.
150 Creek St
1700, Sunday (Local)

Mac finished packing his bags and carried them down to his living room. 
Jager was waiting for him   with his own bag.

"And just what do you think you're doing, Hunter?" Mac asked the 
Watcher.

"My job," replied Jager. "I'm your Watcher, remember?"

"To hell with that! We're brothers of the Legion," stated Mac, playing 
his hole card.

"Yes, Reaper, we are. And I'm going with-"

"You're gonna stay her and look after Buffy," the immortal cut him off. 
"Please."

Jager looked disgusted. Buffy was the Slayer. If it came right down to 
it, she was better off looking   after herself. Jager maintained no 
illusions  he'd just slow her down. Besides, he had a hole card   of 
his own to play.

"If I let you go off alone and you don't come back, she'll kill *me*, 
and you damn well know it!"

Mac looked a little nonplussed at that. Damn, but Hunter was probably 
right. Still...

"Brother, *please*," he pleaded. "Buffy's fighting a war *here*. 
Despite her friends' experience,   you're still the best backup she 
could get-"

"After *you*," interrupted Jager. Still, it was obvious Mac wasn't 
going to budge. With a sigh, the   younger man relented. "All right, 
you damn-"

"Tell her I love her, Hunter." With that, Mac walked out of the house.

Behind him, he could just here Jager say, "Bring your ass back in one 
piece and tell her yourself, my   friend."

Mac threw his bag in the back of the Pathfinder, got in the truck and 
drove away.


 Scene 4
Sunnydale Ca.
1630 Rabello Dr
1800, Sunday (Local)

Joyce answered the knock at the door to find Jager on the front porch.

"Thomas!" she exclaimed. "Do you know where..." Her voice trailed off 
as Jager slipped past her. He   walked into the living room to find 
Buffy sitting, teary eyed, on the couch.

"Is he gone?" Buffy asked him.

Jager nodded. "About a half-hour ago," he confirmed.

"Then why aren't you with him?" she demanded. "You're his Watcher! You 
should-" she cut herself off   and started crying again. Jager went and 
sat next to the young woman on the couch. Gently, he reached   out and 
placed a hand on her shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze.

"For the same reason you're not, Buffy," he answered. "He doesn't want 
me there."

Buffy laid her head on his chest and sobbed. After a while, she quieted 
down and asked, "Did he say   anything?"

"Just that he loved you."

As her daughter sobbed, Joyce sat down on her other side and began 
stroking Buffy's back. 'Damn that   man!' her mind screamed. To make 
her daughter cry like this...

Buffy finally got control of herself again. "He'll be all right, won't 
he Thomas?" she asked.

Jager grinned. "Of course he will, my lady," he assured her. "Of course 
he will."


 Scene 5
L.A., Ca.
I-5 South
1930, Sunday (Local)

Polovsky smiled to himself as he sped south on the last leg of his 
trip. In an hour he'd be back in   Sunnydale. After he dumped the car. 
Damn nosy cop!

Anyway, he'd dump the car, get a new one and finish the drive. He'd 
rest tonight. Tomorrow he'd steal   O'Byrne's woman. O'Byrne would come 
to him and then-

The 'buzz' of a passing immortal took him by surprise. For just a 
moment he lost control and the   sedan swerved. The contact had been so 
brief... Whoever it was must have been heading north.

North...

From *Sunnydale*!

Polovsky grinned. O'Byrne  it had to be O'Byrne. The other immortal 
must have heard about the   murders and headed north to hunt him!


The surprise of the brief 'buzz' shocked Mac. In an instant of near-
clairvoyance, the truth clicked--   Polovsky  headed south.

South  toward Sunnydale.

Mac hit the very next off ramp. In minutes he was headed back home, 
pushing the SUV as fast as it   would go.

'God, please let me catch him right here! Right now!'

By the time he reached Sunnydale's outskirts, Mac knew that either 
Polovsky had pulled over    assuming it *was* Polovsky  or had 
somehow stayed out of detection range ahead of him. Either way,   it 
didn't matter. If Polovsky *had* come back, he'd made a serious 
mistake.

Sunnydale was now Mac's home turf. Between himself, Hunter, Buffy and 
her friends, he had the town   pretty well wired. The bastard would be 
leaving Sunnydale in a box. A *small* box.

Lots of them.

--------------------------------------------------- Part 2


Scene 1
J. Edgar Hoover Building
Washington, D.C.
2330, Sunday (Local)

"Mulder," complained Dana Scully, "please tell me that you've got a 
really good reason to drag me in   here at eleven at night."

Fox Mulder looked up from his desk and gazed at his partner. "Yeah, 
Scully. I do. We've got just   enough time to catch the red-eye to 
L.A."

"And why would we be catching the red-eye?"

"You know how you're always complaining I never take you anywhere fun? 
Well, I thought we might visit   a little spot called *Boca del 
Infierno*," he informed her with a crooked smile.

Scully thought about that for a second. "'Mouth of Hell'? You're taking 
me to someplace called the   'Mouth of Hell' and you call that fun?" 
she demanded.

"Yeah, let's go. I'll explain on the way to Dulles. Our flight to L.A. 
leaves in about an hour."


"You remember reading recently about those murders in San Francisco?" 
he asked as he drove them   through the light late-night traffic.

"San Francisco, Mulder. *San Francisco*," Scully emphasized. "*Not* 
L.A. You said we're going to L.A.   To the '*Mouth of Hell*' in L.A., 
to be specific."

"I'm getting to that. Anyway, a car was stolen in 'Frisco, its owner 
murdered, two days ago. Guess   where that car was spotted this 
evening?"

"Wild guess. L.A.?" she asked sarcastically.

"Give the lady a cigar. Guess what the connection is?" he teased her.

"Same killer?"

"You got it. The car's owner was killed in an almost identical fashion 
 and probably with the same   knife  as one of the women. Gutted like 
a fish. A couple of hours ago, a cop in the City of Angels   pulled 
that car over. He's dead, too. Guess how *he* was killed?"

Scully grimaced. "All right. So the serial killer has moved south. If 
he's killed a cop, then every   policeman in the state will be looking 
for him. Why are *we* going?" she persisted. "So far, this   doesn't 
sound like an X-File."

"Two weeks ago, in San Francisco, a man was beheaded at one of the 
locations near where one of the   murdered women was snatched. Last 
month, *two* men were similarly beheaded in a little suburb of L.A.   
called Sunnydale," he explained.

"And you think it's the same killer? Mulder that's a crock and you know 
it. Serial killers are very   monogamous. They pick one method and stay 
with it," Scully reminded him.

"I don't know if it *is* the same killer, Scully. What I do know is 
that decapitation murders have   been on the rise world wide over the 
last ten years. They tend to be centered in certain cities.   Namely 
Seattle, New York, Paris and London. But *only* centered. They've been 
going on all over the   place.

"What makes these murders special is a very similar set of reports 
surrounding the murders-- sudden   storms of 'blue lightning' and , in 
many of the cases, very valuable merchandise is left behind," he   
finished.

"Drugs?" she guessed.

"Swords," he replied.


In the air, their conversation carried on as Mulder handed his partner 
several case files. In each   file, the same set of curious 
circumstances were reported. Mysterious 'blue lightning' on otherwise   
clear days, valuable swords  many of them antiques worth tens or 
hundreds of thousands of dollars    and...

Victims whose identities either didn't check out, or who were 
themselves suspects in decapitation   style murders. Several surviving 
suspects turned up repeatedly. Duncan Macleod. Russell Nash. Finn   
Bonet. Mackenzie O'Byrne...

Scully finally turned to Mulder. "So..."

"Did you see the name O'Byrne?" he asked. "Macleod?" 

She nodded.

"Guess where Mr. O'Byrne just moved to?" he asked.

"Sunnydale?"

"Damn, Scully. You're on a roll. Can you guess where some gentlemen 
named Nash and Macleod visited   last month?"

The picture was forming. "Sunnydale," she answered. "You think one of 
them is the San Francisco   killer?"

"What I think is that several suspects in 'Headhunter' cases suddenly 
converged in L.A. last month   and left two men named Finn Bonet and 
Mark Cathay dead in their wake. But all that is just part one,"   
Mulder taunted.  "Much as I know I'm going to regret this-- what's 
'Part two'?"

"Sunnydale sits on what many mystics believe is a gateway to Hell 
itself. The first Spanish settlers   called it '*Boca del Infierno*'  
the Hellmouth. Where, from time to time, a lot of strange things   have 
happened. The per capita death rate in Sunnydale is *twelve times* 
higher than in L.A. And I   don't mean from natural causes. To read the 
reports filed by the Sunnydale P.D., they have the worst   drug and 
gang problem in the country."

Scully sighed. "So?"

"So, the DEA says 'liar, liar, pants on fire'," Mulder replied.

"No drugs?" she asked, beginning to be interested despite herself.

Mulder shook his head. "No worse than any other town of similar size 
and location. L.A. gangs   actually seem to be avoiding the area.

"So, G-woman, a serial killer  and possible headhunter suspect  is 
apparently heading south to a   small town which just saw its first two 
decapitation-style killings *ever*, where another headhunter   suspect 
just moved and several others just visited *and* is believed to be a 
gateway to Hell? Which   said town is the center of centuries of 
unexplainable occurrences which have radically increased in   number 
over the last four years?

"Call me crazy, Scully, but I think this is an X-File."

Scully shook her head. "Mulder you *are* crazy," she confirmed.


 Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
1630 Rabello Dr
2100, Sunday (Local)


Mac parked the truck and hopped out. Immediately he was hit with the 
'buzz'. As he approached the   steps to the front porch, the door flew 
open revealing Buffy, sword in hand.

She just stared at her lover for a moment. Then she raced to him and 
leaped into his arms. Wrapping   her arms and legs around him, she 
covered his mouth with her own. After several long seconds she came   
up for air. Then she hit him.

Mac looked at her for a moment, then asked, "Miss me?"

"If you came back because you forgot something..." she warned.

Mac grabbed her and kissed her deeply. "I love you," he said.

Buffy gave him that silly grin she got whenever he made her knees go 
weak. "I love you, too," she   replied. "Bastard," she added.

The grin left his face. He took a deep breath, smelling her hair, 
breathing in her scent. After   allowing himself that one perfect 
moment of peace with his beloved, he stepped back.

"I needn't have bothered leaving to look for him," he explained.

"What do you mean, honey?" Buffy asked.

"Polovsky. He's coming here."


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
1630 Rabello Dr
2300, Sunday (Local)


Mac wanted Jager to grab a bag and move into Buffy's old room. He 
briefly considered bringing Joyce   over to the 'Keep' with Buffy and 
him, but decided in the end that it was better if she wasn't there.   
Maybe Polovsky wouldn't think to look for anyone in Mac's life, but it 
wasn't much of a hope.

'Hope is not a viable coarse of action,' Finn's memory reminded him.

Best to just keep his distance and put protection on Buffy's mother. 
Putting protection on Buffy,   however, was something else again.

"Hell, no!" she announced. "If you think for one minute I'm gonna play 
the 'little woman' and hide   here  sorry, Mom, no offense  Mackenzie 
O'Byrne, you've got another think coming!"

Mac sighed. "I don't want you to hide, honey. I want you to stay here. 
Watch out for your mother-"

"And, incidentally, stay out of the line of fire?" Buffy interrupted 
him. "Mac, that's sweet, really.   No."

Joyce listened to the by-play, torn between amusement and fear. Buffy 
turned to her.

"Listen, Mom. I want you to take a vacation. Go visit your sister, 
'kay?"

Before Joyce could respond, Mac jumped in. "Excellent idea! Hunter, 
help her pack," he ordered.

Joyce decided it was time to put her foot down. "Just a damn minute! 
I'm not going to be driven away   while my daughter stays to deal with 
some psycho-"

"*Buffy*, won't be dealing with him. *I* will," Mac stated flatly. 
"Listen, Joyce. I just want to   cover my bases. This bastard likes to 
hurt women and he's not above taking hostages. Buffy can take   care of 
herself. Hunter  *Thomas*," he amended, "knows what to do if he trips 
over this guy-"

"Yeah," affirmed Jager. "*Run*."

"Precisely," Mac nodded. "You, Joyce, are a civilian. He *might* try 
for Buffy. *Might*. But if he   finds out about *her*  which, by the 
way, is what I'd like to avoid," Buffy glared in response. "If   he 
finds out about her, he'll find you. That puts Buffy at risk. *That* 
reduces my ability to deal   with him."

"I'm staying," Joyce said again. "Period."

Mac and Jager traded a look. '*Women*!' they communicated silently.


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
0230, Monday (Local)


Mac groaned as he crawled into bed. Buffy sat there with her legs drawn 
up, wearing her favorite one   of his shirts, looking at him. In 
response to his tired sounds, she smiled and turned out the light.   
Slipping under the covers, she molded herself to his body and laid her 
head on his cheSt.
"Mac?" she said.

"Yeah, honey?"

"I want you to promise me something," she pleaded. Then her voice grew 
firm. "Don't ever, *ever* do   that again."

"Do what, Buffy?"

"Try to send me away. Don't do it again. We're a team. I know we have 
to deal with other immortals on   our own  I don't like it, but, okay, 
I can accept it. *But*, we're a team. When Thomas walked in and   you 
told me that you wanted to go it on your own, I died inside.

"Don't ever do that to me again," she begged.

Mac considered that. Polovsky was *his* problem. Wasn't he? Of course, 
Buffy could always say that   the legions of the undead that he helped 
her fight were *her* problem, couldn't she? What would he do   if she 
did? Accept it?

Of course not! But... Ah, to hell with it! He was born well before the 
age of 'political correctness'    and *he* was the man. Buffy's 
abilities  which he maintained great respect for  weren't the   
issue.

Then...what *was* the issue? He'd fallen in love with a warrior. More 
than that  with the only woman   he'd ever met that really *fit*. Yes, 
she needed his protection  but not from evil. Not even from   other 
immortals.

She needed her man to protect her heart.

Beyond that, she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself. 
Together, they did make one hell of   a team. She knew he needed to 
fight this fight. She'd let him do it and never complain  unless he   
cut her out. That would hurt her in ways she might not be able to 
forgive.

"Buffy?"

"Yeah, honey?"

"Will you marry me?" he asked.

Buffy sat bolt upright in bed and turned on the light, then turned to 
stare at him. "What?!"

Mac looked at her. "I asked if you would marry me."

Buffy couldn't believe it. "Are you kidding me? Four hours ago you were 
trying to get rid of me!" she   exclaimed.

"I was wrong. You're right. We're a team. You're also the only woman 
I've ever loved. More, the only   woman I've ever met that I could 
love." Mac sat up and turned to face her. "I know this isn't the way   
I should be doing this. There should be flowers and wine and a band 
playing in the corner of some   romantic restaurant.

"I should be on my knees with a really suave speech. I always figured 
if I did meet a woman and   wanted to marry her, I'd want all the crap 
about honor and obedience... But I don't. We're a team. I   love you. I 
want to marry you," he finished.

Buffy just stared at him for a long moment. "Mac, we've been together 
like, what, six weeks? And you   want to get married?"

"Yes, I do. To you." Mac stared at her for a long moment. "Buffy, will 
you marry me?" he asked.

Looking him in the eye, she said, "Yes."

-----------------------------------------

Part 3


Scene 1
L.A., Ca.
Los Angeles International Airport  0630, Monday (Local)


Special Agents Mulder and Scully practically stumbled off the plane and 
down the causeway. In short   order they'd picked up a car, grabbed 
some coffee and started down I-5 to Sunnydale.

"So what's the plan, Mulder?" asked Scully. "Knock on O'Byrne's door 
and ask 'So, chop off anyone's   head lately?'"

Mulder grinned at his partner. "That'd be one approach." Scully shook 
her head. He continued, "How   about we knock on his door and conduct a 
'routine inquiry' about certain suspicious goings-on in the   area? "

"How about if we check in with the Sunnydale P.D.?" she countered.


"No, no, no," the Chief of the Sunnydale P.D. said as he shook his 
head. "You've got it all wrong,   Agents. What we've got here in 
Sunnydale is a bad bleed-over from the gang violence in L.A. Big   
problems with gang-bangers high on PCP."

"Despite the fact that the DEA says that this 'drug problem' of yours 
doesn't exist?" scoffed Scully.   "Despite the fact that gang violence 
is on the decline for the third straight year in L.A.?"

As the Chief continued shaking his head, Mulder jumped in. "What about 
vampires, Chief?"

Scully's head whipped around so fast that Mulder swore he heard a 
snapping sound. 'Course, it might   have been the Chief's jaw thumping 
on his desk.

"Vampires?" repeated the Chief. "Agent Mulder," he laughed, "this is 
California  not Transylvania!   Vampires  go ahead, pull the other 
one."

"Thank you for your help, Sir," interjected Scully. "We'll be in 
touch." With that, she grabbed   Mulder's arm and tugged him out of the 
office. And out of the building. Once outside, she turned on   her 
partner.

"Vampires?!"


With the two FBI agents out of his office, the Chief began to sweat 
profusely. After several minutes,   he regained control of himself long 
enough to reach for the phone.

"Mr. Mayor? It's the Chief," he began. "We may have a problem..."


"Vampires, Mulder? You said 'serial killer'. You said 'cop killer'. You 
even said 'blue lightning,   decapitations and swords'. You did *not* 
say 'vampires'!" she said angrily. "If I catch you with   another 
stake-"

"I could've *sworn* I mentioned the vampires, Scully," he cut her off 
with a grin. "Let's go visit a   lady named Buffy,"

"'Buffy'? Who the hell is 'Buffy', Mulder?" Scully demanded.

"Buffy Summers. In several of the reports I received from those mystics 
I mentioned, her name came   up," he explained.

Scully shook her head.


A quick check in the phone book revealed that Joyce and Buffy Summers 
resided at 1630 Rabello Dr.   Over Scully's strenuous objections, the 
two agents headed there next. 

Unfortunately, no one seemed to be home when they got there. Scully 
couldn't help looking pleased at   Mulder's chagrined expression when 
no one answered the door. Even after he rang the bell for a solid   
minute.

"Mulder, they're probably at work. It's ten in the morning," she 
pointed out.

"Good point, Scully. Let's try O'Byrne."

"Assuming he's not also at work, Mulder, seeing as how it's now," 
Scully glanced at her watch, "ten-  oh-two a.m., what does he have to 
do with vampires?" she asked in a saccharine-laced voice.

Mulder sighed. "This is plan 'B', Scully. Since we can't investigate 
the vampires right now, we may   as well investigate a headhunter."

Scully groaned.


 Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
1035, Monday (Local)


Buffy sat up and yawned, stretching her arms high over her head. 
Feeling Mac's hand stroke her back,   she turned and smiled down at her 
fiance.

"Purr," she said.

Mac chuckled. "Skipping class today?" he asked and nodded toward the 
clock. Her first class had been   over for more than half an hour. She 
briefly looked at the clock and turned back to him.

"Are you kidding? I've got a rich fiance. Phooey on class," she said 
with a smile. Mac chuckled   again.

"Well, since your cutting class anyway, how about we get up and go for 
a ride?" he suggested.

Buffy frowned. "Look for Polovsky?" she asked.

"No," he replied. "An engagement ring."

Buffy laid back down, straddling him. "So this was like a *serious* 
proposal?"

"Yeah. And I'm hoping it was a serious answer," Mac suggested 
pointedly.

Buffy kissed him softly. "It was, sweetie. It was *definitely* a 
serious answer." She hopped up and   started dragging on his arm, 
pulling him out of bed. "C'mon, lover. I want a really *big* diamond on   
my finger when I tell Mom."

"Women and shiny rocks," muttered Mac.

The doorbell rang before Buffy could reply to that. "You get the door," 
she ordered. "I need time to   get pretty."

"No, you don't," disagreed Mac. That earned him another kiss before she 
darted into their bathroom.

Mac pulled on a pair of pants and a T-shirt before padding down the 
stairs. 'This better not be   another damned salesman,' he grumbled 
silently. Whoever it was had apparently fallen asleep leaning   on the 
buzzer. Reaching the door, the immortal jerked it open, one hand 
hovering near the breakbox   that held a shotgun  the veteran warrior 
tended to be cautious almost to the point of paranoia. Of   course, he 
still had his head, didn't he?

Two people, a man and a woman, who were obviously feds  'Jesus! Do 
they *issue* those suits?'  were   waiting on the porch. Putting on 
his most neutral expression, he asked, "May I help you?"

"Mr. Mackenzie O'Byrne? We're Agents Mulder and Scully, FBI," said the 
male as they produced their   IDs. "We'd like to ask you a few 
questions."

"May we come inside, sir?" asked the woman.

Mac stepped out on the porch and pulled the door shut. "No," he 
replied.

There was a space of several seconds while each waited for the other to 
speak.

"May we ask why not?" asked Scully.

"Sure," answered Mac.

Several more seconds of silence followed. Scully gritted her teeth in 
annoyance. "Why can't we step   inside, Mr. O'Byrne?"

Mac gave it another long moment before he deigned to answer, "I said 
you could ask, ma'am. I didn't   say I'd answer."

Scully took a threatening step forward. "Look-"

She got no farther than that. Mac stepped into her space. As she tried 
to back away, he reached out   and touched her shoulder. Somehow, he 
spun her around and into Mulder, causing both of them to   stumble into 
the porch rail. They looked up and stared down the barrel of Scully's 
pistol.

In O'Byrne's hand.

Pressing the tip of the barrel against her heart, Mac reached over and 
slid Mulder's pistol out of   the holster. With their guns in either of 
his hands, Mac cocked his head to the side.

"I'm going to let this one time be a warning, ma'am. Don't push me 
again," he said in a flat, dead   voice. He reversed the pistols in his 
hands and offered them back to the feds. "Now, what do you   want?"


Buffy lingered in the shower for a few minutes. When Mac didn't come 
back and join her, she quickly   finished, jumped out, brushed her 
teeth and got dressed.

Slipping on a pair of jeans and a tank top, she headed downstairs. 
Sniffing the air, Buffy determined   that Mac hadn't turned the coffee 
on yet. Odd.

Who the hell was at the door?

She walked up to the door and opened it. Stepping outside, she found 
Mac and two people in ugly   clothes that looked like every stereotype 
of a cop she'd ever seen, read of or heard about.

"Honey?" she asked. "What's up?"

"Feds," answered Mac cheerfully. "*Un*civil servants."

The redheaded fed didn't care for the sound of that. 'Coarse, neither 
did Buffy. Whenever Mac got   that cheerful tone in his voice, he was 
about to paste somebody. He'd had that same lilt when he'd   tortured 
Spike.

She quickly stepped over to him and wrapped an arm around his waist. 
With a gentle squeeze, she   communicated to him, 'Watch your temper, 
sweetie.' He glanced at her and let the corner of his mouth   curl in a 
fractional smile. Mac sighed and wrapped his arm over her shoulder.

Scully and Mulder picked up quickly that the young woman had a calming 
effect on O'Byrne. Scully gave   the woman her full attention.

"Hello. I'm Special Agent Dana Scully. This is my partner, Agent 
Mulder-"

Buffy interrupted her. "Isn't he 'special', too?" she asked, causing 
O'Byrne to chuckle.

Scully reddened. "And you are..."

"Buffy." 

Mulder and Scully exchanged a look. How many 'Buffys' could there be?

"Buffy *Summers*?" asked Mulder.

"Yeah...for now anyway. Why?" she asked.

"What do you mean 'for now'?" queried Scully.

"We're engaged. So 'Summers' *for now*. What do you guys want, anyway?" 
Buffy was beginning to get   annoyed with these two. Whatever they 
wanted couldn't be good. Besides, she had a ring to shop for.

"Well, we'd like to ask Mr. O'Byrne, here, about a couple of recent 
murders. Death by decapitation.   Sound familiar?" Mulder asked. Buffy 
gave Mac a quick glance.

Mackenzie still hadn't changed expression. "I read about it in the 
paper, Mr. Mulder. The first one   happened almost a week before I 
moved here," he pointed out.

"Do the names Russell Nash and Duncan Macleod ring any bells, sir?" 
asked Scully, keeping an eye on   Buffy. O'Byrne might as well be 
carved from stone  when the man had attacked and disarmed them he'd   
never changed expression. Even now he stood there stoically. The girl, 
on the other hand, obviously   had *much* less experience hiding her 
emotions.

Buffy Summers knew those names.

"Again, ma'am," Mac answered. "I never said anything about answering 
your questions. We're done."   With that, Mac turned Buffy around and 
walked her to the door.

"I suppose you don't want to talk about the vampires, either, then?" 
Mulder called out to the   retreating couple and causing Scully to 
wince. O'Byrne and the girl froze, then slowly turned around.

Buffy began to softly lecture him in response. "I don't know what it is 
you know, Agent Mulder  or   what it is that you *think* you know  
but let me give you some friendly advice-- don't dig in   Sunnydale. 
For anything." She turned and walked back to Mac's side.

Together, and without another word, the couple disappeared into the 
house, leaving the agents behind.   Scully and Mulder exchanged a long 
look.

"Scully," asked Mulder. "Do you believe this is a coincidence?"

"You mean our headhunter suspect living with your vampire girl?" Scully 
shook her head. "Hell of a   coincidence."

"You saw their reaction to my question about vampires. What did you 
think of that?" Mulder asked.

Scully thought about their previous 'vampire' cases. "All right, 
Mulder. They know something. And,"   she reluctantly conceded, "so do 
the cops. I just don't understand the connection between the   vampires 
and the headhunter cases."

"Well, legend says that one way to kill a vampire is by beheading it," 
her partner suggested.

"Mulder, what are you saying? That the headhunter case is about killing 
vampires?" she scoffed. "Then   how do you explain the serial killer in 
San Francisco? And the murdered cop in L.A.?"

"I'm beginning to think that a vampire may be behind that," Mulder 
replied. Seeing his partner open   her mouth to object, he hastily 
amended, "Granted, the victims in those cases were knifed. Maybe it's   
a really *gruesome* vampire."

Scully just shook her head and went back to the car.


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
1100, Monday (Local)


Buffy waited patiently while Mac showered. She watched on the security 
monitor in Mac's office as the   two feds got in their car and parked 
across the street. They obviously weren't going away anytime   soon. 
Damn it!

Eventually, Mac came back downstairs and walked into the office. "They 
still here?" he asked her.

Buffy nodded and pointed at the monitor. "Parked across the street. 
What do we do?"

Mac walked over to his desk and sat down. Picking up the phone, he 
dialed a Seattle number. When the   other end was picked up, he hit the 
speaker button and said, "Joe, Mac. How're you doing?"

"*Hey, Mac! How are things in Sunnydale?*" asked Joe Dawson.

"Great, great. Listen, Joe, I may have a problem. Do you guys have any 
connections in the FBI?"   queried the immortal.

"*Yeah, I've got an old friend there. He's an Assistant Director*."

"Good. A pair of agents named Fox Mulder and Dana Scully just showed up 
here. They're asking   questions about Duncan and Connor  only, in 
Connor's case, they used the name Nash," Mac explained.

"*Oh, shit!*" exclaimed the Watcher.

"Yeah, I know  but it gets better. They were looking for Buffy, too," 
agreed Mac.

"*Looking for Buffy? They knew where to find her?*" worried Dawson.

"No, I don't think they expected to find her here. They wanted to ask 
her about vampires."

"*I don't believe it! What the hell is going on down there?*"

"I don't know, Joe. Hunter tell you about Polovsky?" Mac asked.

"*Yeah, he called last night. Two feds is something you sure don't need 
right now. I'll call my   friend and find out what I can.*"

"Thanks, Joe. Do it quick will you? I need intel  and I need it fast."

"*I'll do it right now. You two take care*," Dawson instructed. The 
Watcher hung up the phone.


In Seattle, Dawson dug out his address book and looked up the number of 
his old friend from Viet Nam.   He quickly punched a number into his 
phone. It rang only twice before being picked up.

"*Director Skinner's office. How may I help you?*" asked a woman on the 
other end of the line.

"My name's Joe Dawson. I need to speak to Walter Skinner  it's 
urgent," he informed her.


In his office at the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C., A.D. 
Walter Skinner was reviewing   a budgeting report when his secretary 
buzzed him. "Yes?" he asked.

"*Sir, there's a Joe Dawson on the phone for you. He says it's 
urgent,*" she informed him.

'Joe Dawson?' wondered Skinner. 'What could he want?' Skinner and 
Dawson had known each other since   their time in Viet Nam. They still 
saw each other occasionally, whenever Joe happened to visit D.C.

And Joe had managed to quietly slip him useful information from time to 
time over the years. Joe   apparently had some amazing sources of 
information. Skinner had learned to never ask how he came by   that 
info. When Joe offered something, he just took it and was grateful for 
it.

Wondering what Joe had for him this time, he instructed his secretary, 
"Put him through." Skinner   picked up the phone. "Joe? What's up?"

"*Walter, I hate to bother you, but I need some information  and I 
need it fast. Can you find out   about a couple of agents named Fox 
Mulder and Dana Scully?*"

Skinner's eyes widened. "Why do you want to know about Scully and 
Mulder, Joe?" he demanded. Mulder   had told him about a serial killer 
in San Francisco that he'd believed was headed to L.A. and   requested 
permission to drop everything to head out there. Knowing that he 
probably wasn't going to   get any more information from the agent at 
that time, Skinner had approved the requeSt.
But Joe Dawson lived in Seattle. What in hell was Mulder up to now?

"*I can't really get into that, Walter. I just need to know what you 
can tell me about them,*"   answered his old friend.

"Sorry, Joe. They're two of my best agents. I'm not going to tell you 
anything without a good   reason." A *damn* good reason.

"*Walter... I've helped you whenever I could. It's time for some 
payback, buddy,*" demanded Dawson.

"You know me better than that, *buddy*," Skinner answered with 
hostility in his voice. The line was   silent for a long beat.

Dawson considered what to tell the FBI man. Finally, he sighed. 
"*Walter... These two agents of yours   are about to step into a 
shitstorm. You wouldn't believe me if I *did* tell you,*" he demurred.

Considering what the nature of Mulder and Scully's work was, Sinner 
doubted that. "Try me," he   demanded.

"*Your two fair-haired children are in Sunnydale, California 
investigating vampires.*" Dawson paused   to let that sink in, then 
repeated, "Vampires, *Walter. As in blood-sucking demons from Hell. 
Believe   me when I say that they're in over their heads, old friend. 
Now, what can you tell me?*"


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St.
1230, Monday (Local)


Scully and Mulder sat in their rental car across the street from 
O'Byrne's residence discussing their   observations. Scully was 
remarking on the remote location of the subjects' house when Mulder's 
cell   phone rang.

"Mulder," he answered.

"*Mulder, where are you and what  *exactly*  are you doing?*" 
demanded the voice of A.D. Skinner.

"Investigating the serial killer, sir," answered Mulder. Scully gave 
him a disbelieving look. "We're   tracking a possible connection in a 
suburb called 'Sunnydale.'"

"*So your investigation has nothing to do with vampires?*" demanded 
Skinner.

Mulder tensed up. *What the hell?!* "Vampires, sir?" he echoed. 
Scully's eyes grew wide.

"*I just got a call from an old...source. A very *reliable* old source. 
He tells me that not only are   you investigating *vampires*, Mulder, 
but that your in way over your head on this one. I can't help   
remembering the *last* time you investigated vampires,*" Skinner 
finished accusingly.

Mulder flushed. He'd almost been arrested for murder when he staked a 
boy he'd claimed was a vampire   a couple of years before.

"This case has a lot of peculiar angles, sir," he answered. "But, yes, 
there may be a vampiric   element to it. Or, at least, some of the 
principals might think so," the agent amended.


Inside the house, the phone rang. Buffy snatched it up. "Hello?" she 
answered.

"*Buffy, it's Joe. Mac still there?*" asked the Watcher.

"Yeah, Joe. Just a sec. Honey!" she called. Mac appeared from the 
kitchen with a couple cups of   coffee. He handed her one and took the 
phone.

"Talk to me," he instructed.

"*Mac, these two FBI agents are trouble. They're assigned to something 
called the 'X-Files'*"   explained Dawson. "*Apparently, they 
investigate inexplicable phenomena  which includes the   paranormal. 
This guy Mulder has investigated vampires in the past.*"

"*Mierde*!" exclaimed Mac.

"*It gets worse, Mac. Mulder and Scully are officially out there to 
investigate a serial killer that   they believe is moving south from 
San Francisco. You thinking what I'm thinking?*"

"Polovsky," Mac said flatly. "Shit!"

"*Lay low, my friend,*" advised the Watcher.


Mulder closed the cell phone. His conversation with Skinner hadn't been 
entirely pleasant. He told   Scully what the A.D. had had to say.

"Mulder, follow this back," she said. "Who could have told Skinner?"

"I don't know. O'Byrne must have some influential friends if-" Mulder 
broke off. "Speak of the   devil."

Across the street, O'Byrne and Summers were walking out to the 
Pathfinder parked in the driveway. The   two subjects got in and drove 
off toward the freeway. The agents followed. Ninety minutes later, the   
two cars were parked at an expensive looking jewelry store in L.A.. The 
subjects hopped out and   walked over to where Scully and Mulder were 
parked. Mac beckoned them out of their car.

"Listen, you two. I know that you're both too damn stupid to go away, 
so here's the deal. Buffy and I   have some shopping to do. Then we're 
taking her mother out to dinner. Leave us alone, follow us, flap   your 
arms and fly  I don't care.

"*But*," he continued, "if you really want to know about vampires, 
you'll go find a motel and get   some sleep. Come out to our place 
around nine." O'Byrne turned on his heel and walked back to the   girl. 
With her hand on his arm, they walked into the store.

The two agents traded a look.

"What do think changed his mind?" asked Mulder.

"I'm guessing she did." Scully turned to her partner. "Mulder, if we 
start chasing after vampires,   who's going to look for the serial 
killer?" she demanded.  "I'm telling you, Scully. Somehow it's all  
connected. And those two are right in the middle of it,"  he answered 
with certainty.

Scully shook her head. "Mulder, you have no proof of that. Nothing, in 
fact beyond a wild coincidence   and some unfounded guesses," she 
complained.

"The longest journey starts with the first step, Scully," Mulder 
pontificated. Scully groaned.

Almost an hour later, the two subjects re-emerged from the jewelry 
store. The girl was sporting a   good-size diamond on her left hand. 
Scully guessed that it must have cost a small fortune.

'No,' she decided. 'A *large* fortune.'

From the jeweler, O'Byrne and Summers went to a mall, where they spent 
two hours wandering around.   Summers bought a few clothes and led the 
man into a Victoria's Secret. She bought a bag full of   things there, 
and the two of them left the mall. The next stop was a gun store. A 
half-hour later,   they carried a crate of ammunition out to the truck.

The two car convoy finally headed back to Sunnydale, getting to the 
house on Creek St a little after   five o'clock. The residents carried 
their purchases inside while Mulder and Scully waited in their   car, 
once again parked across from the house. At six-thirty, O'Byrne and 
Summers reappeared, got back   in the truck and drove downtown


Joyce waited at Mulligan's Restaurant for her daughter and Mac to show. 
Buffy had called at one and   insisted that the three of them go out to 
dinner. Joyce had a sinking feeling in the pit of her   stomach for the 
rest of the day.

When Buffy and Mac walked into the restaurant a little before seven, 
Joyce knew her suspicions had   been sound. Buffy had an absolutely 
huge engagement ring on her finger. It had taken Mackenzie   O'Byrne 
all of six weeks to steal Buffy away.

'God, it's just too soon!' she wailed silently. Curiously, it wasn't 
the six weeks that bothered   Joyce  she herself believed that Buffy 
and Mac belonged together. Those two fit like a hand in a   glove and 
would probably be together long after Joyce had passed on.

It was just too soon for Joyce. Her baby had grown up and found her own 
man and her own life.   Sometimes Joyce realized that she actually saw 
just as much of Buffy now as she ever had  it was a   rare day Buffy 
didn't at least stop by  but that didn't change the fact that her 
little girl was   *gone*.

Struggling to put a smile on her face, Joyce stood up and embraced her 
daughter.

------------------------------------------

Part 4


Scene 1

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
2115, Monday (Local)


Mac parked the truck and turned off the ignition before turning to look 
at his fiancé. Buffy   had tears in her eyes. "What's wrong, 
sweetie?" he asked.

"Oh, Mom," she answered. "She's trying hard, but..."

"Right. Trying hard. But she's so upset that it took the two of you all 
of what? Five minutes to   start planning the wedding?" he teased.

Buffy grinned. "Yeah, well... It's a female thing, honey," she teased 
him back. Mac leaned over and   kissed her.

"Ready to go to work?" he asked. Buffy nodded. "Go ahead and change. 
I'll go collect our tag-alongs."

"Are you sure that's a good idea, Mac?" she asked. "This smells like 
trouble to me."

"A *good* idea? No," Mac replied. "But I can think of only a limited 
number of ways to stop them. I   think you'd like those options less." 
Buffy shuddered at his implication. Mac seldom let the   blackness 
within him show through, but she knew it was always there. "Besides," 
he continued, "if   Joe's friend is right, maybe they can be of some 
use."

"And what if they find out about us? About the Game?" she persisted. If 
the two feds already knew   about vampires, fine. If they found out 
about immortals, that was something else again. Buffy and her   friends 
understood all too well what the governments of the world would likely 
do if immortals were   discovered.

"I'll deal with that when  *if*  the time comes," Mac answered. No, 
not *Mac*, Buffy decided.   *Reaper*. She suddenly had another reason 
to hope the feds didn't discover their secret.

If he decided they were a threat, Mac would kill them without blinking 
an eye. *Reaper* had no qualms   whatsoever about killing an enemy. 
He'd been doing that for forty years.

The two immortals got out of the truck. The Slayer went into the house 
to get ready for 'work' while   Mac went over to collect the two feds.

As O'Byrne approached the car, Mulder rolled down the window. "I told 
you we'd be back around nine,"   the immortal chastised the agents. "Of 
course, I figured you were stupid, too. I guess you'd better   come on 
in," he finished. O'Byrne turned his back on the agents and went back 
up his driveway toward   the front door.

Mulder gave him a hostile look as he retreated. While he and Scully had 
spent the day following the   young couple, his friends had tried to 
check deeper into O'Byrne's past. The Lone Gunmen had found   little. 
Mackenzie O'Byrne was obviously at least ten years older than the he 
appeared to be  he'd   done *something* classified for the Reagan 
administration back in the early and mid- eighties.

Something *highly* classified. Most of the government's information on 
the man was incredibly well   restricted. Not that there was much of 
it. What there was painted the picture of a highly skilled    and very 
valuable  government agent.

Still  or maybe as a result  it irked Mulder to no end that this 
*kid* was calling him stupid.   O'Byrne looked to be all of twenty-
five. Maybe younger. His fiancé was twenty  barely twenty   at 
that. A pair of children had spent the day running all over L.A., 
jerking his chain just for the   hell of it. Mulder's annoyance 
continued to mount until he recalled what he'd seen in O'Byrne's eyes   
earlier that day. The girl's eyes as well, to a slightly lesser extent.

Their *eyes* certainly weren't young. Mulder and Scully got out of the 
car and followed O'Byrne.


Buffy took a quick shower and pulled on some comfortable clothes. When 
she returned downstairs she   found the two feds sitting on a couch in 
the living room. Mac had given them each a soda.

"Hi, there!" she called out.

"Hello, Ms. Summers," Scully greeted her. Her partner just nodded.

Buffy grimaced. "Buffy, please. 'Ms. Summers' makes me feel old. 
Besides," she grinned, "Mac *hates*   the term 'Ms.'"

"Okay, Buffy," answered Mulder. "So when are you and your boyfriend-"

"Fiancé," Buffy corrected him.

"-*Fiancé*," echoed Mulder without breaking stride, "going to 
tell us about the vampires?"

"Well, Fox  can I call you Fox?  we figured it would be easier to 
*show* you than to try and   explain."

Mulder looked a little nonplussed at Buffy's presumption. Scully hid a 
grin  Mulder *hated* to be   called 'Fox'.

"Actually, Buffy, Mulder doesn't like being called that," Scully 
explained.

"Well," announced Mac as he walked back into the living room with a 
coffee tray, "Buffy and I don't   really like being followed around, 
either." He set the tray down and fixed a cup which he handed to   
Buffy. He held the pot up and raised an eyebrow at the two agents in 
silent question.

"Yes, please," Scully answered him. "Cream, no sugar."

"Black," answered Mulder. The four of them were quiet as Mac fixed the 
coffee and passed out the   cups. Buffy left for a minute, returning 
with a thermos. Mac poured the rest of the coffee in, added   cream and 
sugar, closed it up and vigorously shook the container.

Buffy left again, returning this time with a bag. Mac handed her the 
thermos and left the room. Once   he was gone, Buffy turned to their 
unwelcome guests.

"Okay, guys, listen up. What we do is dangerous. If you're gonna come 
with us, we need a few ground   rules," she instructed. "One, do what 
we tell you  don't argue, ever, because we're not playing   games.

"Two, we may or may not see anything tonight. Things have been kind of 
quiet lately. If nothing   happens, that's a *good* thing.

"Three  and this is *really* important  don't piss us off. Especially 
Mac. When we hunt, my honey   really gets in the zone," she explained. 
"Trust me on this. I've seen him in action. When *Reaper*   comes 
calling, you just get the hell out of his way. Or you get dead. Got 
it?"

"Reaper?" asked Scully. Buffy frowned and cocked her head to the side.

"Yeah," she answered carefully. "Mac's...been around. He wasn't always 
helping me do this. He had a   life before he came here, you know."

"Here to the Hellmouth?" asked Mulder.

Buffy's eyes jumped wide open. "You know about that, huh? How much do 
you know?"

"That you and your friends run around chopping the heads off of people 
that you think are vampires   and leave the bodies for the police to 
find," Mulder guessed.

Buffy paled and turned to Mac as he walked back into the room, dressed 
for work. The two immortals   exchanged a long look.

"That's not quite the way it works, Mulder," responded Mac. "Why don't 
you quit playing guessing   games for now. We'll go see what we see  
then we'll talk." He looked at Buffy. She nodded.

The two immortals opened the bag and started pulling out weapons. As 
the subjects of their   investigation armed themselves, Mulder and 
Scully grew progressively more nervous. Mac and Buffy both   wore loose 
pants, boots and turtle necks  comfortable clothes allowing plenty of 
movement. The   clothes were dark and just stylish enough to let 
someone mistake *why* they were dressed that way.

O'Byrne slipped into a shoulder rig that had a shotgun swinging freely 
under his right arm  a well   under legal-length shotgun. Both of them 
slipped silenced .38s into skeleton holsters at the small of   their 
backs. Extra magazines went into cases hung on their belts. Buffy and 
Mac slipped on long,   loose-fitting coats. Then they each slipped a 
half-dozen *very* sharp wooden stakes into pouches   inside those 
coats.

When finished, they looked like two stylishly-dressed young people out 
for a night on the town  on   the surface. To the two federal agents, 
it was obvious from the way they'd handled their gear that   Mac and 
Buffy were, in fact, two well-armed and *very* dangerous hunters. Mac 
turned to the two feds.

"Here's how this works," he instructed. "Buffy's got the lead. Period. 
You two are here to observe    nothing more." As he spoke, a hard 
glint came to his eyes. O'Byrne didn't look like a twenty-five   year 
old smart-ass any longer. Buffy looked almost as bad  just as 
dangerous, but in a friendly sort   of way.

One obvious killer. One friendly-looking killer. One *extremely* 
hazardous combination. Scully   suddenly had no doubts at all that 
these two were capable of... 'Maybe,' she decided, 'a better   question 
would be-- what *aren't* they capable of?'

Mulder was debating how long he and Scully would survive if he tried to 
stop them from doing whatever   it was they planned to do. 'Maybe if I 
had a SWAT team,' he thought. 'No, not SWAT. I need soldiers.   
Commandos.' He studied the pair closely as they led he and Scully 
outside. 'Yeah, commandos. Lots of   them.'


 Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
Sunnydale Cemetery

2230, Monday (Local)


Mac had driven the four of them toward town. Once parked, they'd gotten 
out of the truck and started   strolling down the street. During the 
drive, Mulder and Scully had each considered drawing down on   the pair 
in front. Both had decided against it. Neither of them was eager to mix 
it up with the   affianced couple.

Besides, they were both curious about what was going to happen next.

Once out of the Pathfinder, Scully noticed that Buffy wasn't wearing 
her ring. Scully was sure she'd   had it when they left the house. 
"Buffy," she asked, "where's your ring?"

"Locked in the truck," the girl answered. Buffy grinned. "It's too 
pretty to wear on patrol."

O'Byrne chuckled quietly. Buffy frowned at him, but even in the dim 
light of a flickering street   lamp, it was apparent to Scully that the 
younger woman's eyes were still smiling.

"Why is that funny?" asked Mulder "I see her point  that rock would 
attract every mugger for miles."   Mac winked at him as Buffy tried to 
stifle a giggle. Mulder wasn't sure which surprised him more.

"We actually got mugged once, Mulder," Buffy informed him. "I'd just as 
soon avoid going through   *that* again."

"The two of you are afraid of muggers?" asked Scully. Considering how 
they were armed...

"Not *of*, Dana," corrected Buffy. "*For*."

Scully and Mulder thought about that. Finally Mulder asked, "What 
happened to the guys who mugged   you?"

Buffy threw a sharp look at her fiancé, who winced a little. But 
she smiled as she explained,   "Mac heard the bugler sound the charge. 
The worst part was that we were on the way home. It took   like, I 
don't know, an hour, maybe? To get those guys to the hospital and sneak 
off with no one   seeing us."

Scully pondered that. The two of them had cared enough about street 
punks to take them to the   hospital  but they were out cutting other 
peoples heads off? Something didn't make sense about that.   As the 
group neared a cemetery, she was trying to decide what was up with the 
two of them when both   Mac and Buffy suddenly stiffened and stopped in 
their tracks.

Each reached under their coat and produced a sword.

'Where the hell did *those* come from?' Mulder wondered as he reached 
for his gun.

O'Byrne's free hand lashed out and seized the agent's wrist. Their 
suspect was focused on something   across the street. Looking in that 
direction, Scully saw a man dressed in a long coat standing on the   
steps of a church. In a flash of insight, she wondered what the odds 
were that the new arrival had a   sword under his coat, too.

"Polovsky?" Buffy asked Mac.

"Take care of them, Buffy," said O'Byrne. Hiding his sword under his 
coat, he strode quickly across   the street to confront the man on the 
church steps.

"Who the hell is Polovsky?" demanded Mulder.

"A god-damned butchering psychopath," Buffy gritted out venomously. 
"And a dead man when Mac finds   him."

Mulder and Scully exchanged an incredulous look. This was getting more 
confusing by the second. Then   an idea hit them both at the same time.

"This guy Polovsky been in San Francisco lately?" asked Mulder. Buffy 
shot him a look. She chewed her   lip nervously for a second, then 
slowly nodded her head.  "Mac thinks so," she answered. Across the  
street, the two men were confronting one another. The man  on the steps 
suddenly leaped down at  O'Byrne, who spun out of the way and cut his 
attacker across the  belly.

Mulder and Scully started to race across the street when Buffy pulled 
out her .38 and pointed it at   them. "I'm sorry," she said. "I can't 
let you interfere. Even if wasn't against the Rules, you'd just   get 
yourselves killed."

'Rules?' wondered Mulder.


Mac strolled easily across the street, taking in everything around him. 
With every step, his   situational awareness increased. With every 
second, everything that made Mackenzie O'Byrne the good   and decent 
man that had won Buffy's love submerged a little farther from sight. By 
the time he   reached his target, Mac was gone.

In his place stood Reaper  veteran of countless wars and campaigns 
dating back forty years. Years   spent in the Legion, in Special 
Forces, leading strike teams against the Drug Cartels in Latin   
America... Years spent earning a reputation as the living 
personification of Death himself.

"Your name wouldn't be Jan Polovsky, by any chance now, would it," 
Reaper asked in a cheerful voice.   Hearing the deceptive friendliness 
in his voice, anyone who knew the man asking the question would   have 
ducked for cover. The fool standing on the church steps didn't know 
that. Getting closer, Mac   saw that it wasn't Polovsky. Instead, it 
was some immortal he'd never seen before. Damn.

"'Fraid not," he replied. "Name's Michael Mitchell. Who're you?"

"Reaper," O'Byrne answered. 'Shit! This really *is* Grand Central-
fucking-Station!' he cursed   silently.

"Reaper, huh?" echoed Mitchell. "Cool name kid. You must be new to the 
Game. Most of us don't go in   for that kind of crap."

"Passing through?" asked O'Byrne.

"Mostly. But I've got time for you," answered Mitchell.

"Bad idea, Mr. Mitchell," said O'Byrne politely. "We've got company 
across the street."

"So?"

"*So*, Mr. Mitchell, we should defer this. Our Game isn't for 
spectators," Reaper reminded the   newcomer.

"Yeah, but one of *them* is one of *us*. I'll deal with the others," 
taunted Mitchell as he drew his   sword. Reaper stared at the man 
'Fool,' raced though his head as Mitchell leaped at him.

Drawing his sword from beneath his coat, Reaper danced out of the other 
immortal's path. A quick   slash opened up Mitchell's belly, causing 
him to gasp in pain. Reaper stepped back, rocked on his   rear heel and 
stepped forward again. He brought his sword up over his shoulder and 
cut off Mitchell's   left arm with a short stroke.

Mitchell fell to his knees and stared at the stump where his arm had 
been a moment before. He was   still staring at it, wondering why it 
didn't hurt, when Reaper swung his Katana through Mitchell's   neck.


Across the street, still half a block away, Scully, Mulder and Buffy 
watched the battle between the   immortals. When O'Byrne cut off the 
strangers arm, Scully gasped.

When O'Byrne decapitated his opponent, her heart seized up.

Mulder stared, shocked speechless, as O'Byrne murdered the other man.

Buffy's heart had lurched when the stranger attacked Mac. Over the next 
seven seconds, she forgot to   breathe. Despite seeing Mac  *Reaper*  
in battle before, despite knowing how fantastic a warrior he   was, she 
was still terrified for his safety. In the time she'd known him he 
hadn't battled another of   their kind. The fight, short and brutal, 
demonstrated to her why her man had so little fear of   vampires and 
demons.

The beasts were amateurs.

Buffy wondered if the two feds had noticed how close the other man's 
blade had come to Mac's neck.   She could've sworn it had grazed his 
shoulder as the other immortal passed. The stranger was good,   she 
decided. Of course, the proof being in the pudding, Mac was better. He 
still had his head.

Mulder started again to cross the street.

"Wait, Mulder. It's not over yet," she stopped him. Mulder threw her an 
incredulous look.

"Not over?" he asked.

"Mulder!" gasped Scully. Mulder whipped his head back around. Though 
neither of the agents could know   it, Buffy was seeing this for the 
first time as well. A mist rose out of the corpse and slithered   over 
to O'Byrne as blue lightning started slithering around the two 
combatants.

"What the hell is *that*?" demanded Mulder.

"The Quickening," answered Buffy.

The lightning danced. It touched on a nearby car, cranking it up and 
setting off the alarm before   blowing out the headlights. Two nearby 
street lamps flared incredibly bright and exploded. The dead   
immortal's corpse floated into the air and began to spin horizontally.

Mac was the focus of it all. The power of the Quickening ripped a 
tremendous scream from the victor   as it battered him. Every sense was 
overwhelmed as he was wracked by indescribable pain and pleasure.

Though lasting less than a minute, it seemed to tear at the immortal 
for an eternity. Every thought,   every experience, every *feeling* 
Mitchell had ever had forced its way into Mac.

Finally, battered and breathless, Mac dropped to the ground. It was 
over.


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
3245 Grove street

2310, Monday (Local)


Wracked by the Quickening, Mac huddled on the ground beside Mitchell's 
lifeless remains. Feeling an   approaching immortal, he struggled to 
his feet and tried to bring up his sword.

"Mac!" called Buffy.

'Beloved,' answered his mind. Mac couldn't verbalize a response. It had 
been the biggest Quickening   he'd experienced in twenty years. 
Mitchell hadn't been a novice. Stupid, yes, but no newbie. "Buffy,"   
he finally croaked.

Then his love was by his side, trying to help him up. He shook his head 
at her. "We need to get gone    *now*," he ordered.

"What the hell was *that*?" demanded Mulder.

Buffy took a deep breath. "Mulder, grab the dead guy. Dana, help me 
with Mac." Seeing the two feds   stand there with stricken looks, she 
ordered "*Now*, damn it!"

The two agents started. Scully moved to her side as Mulder examined 
their surroundings. "Buffy," said   Scully, "we need to get the police-
"

Buffy whirled on her. "Do what the hell I tell you, and do it right now 
or so help me I'll kill you   myself," she spat. Mac finally found his 
feet. He quickly centered himself.

"Scully, Mulder, you two have a choice," Mac informed them. "Spend the 
rest of your lives wondering   what just happened  or do what you're 
told. Choose." He turned to Buffy. "Honey, run back, get the   truck. 
We'll meet you halfway."

Buffy looked at him for a second, then darted forward and kissed him. 
Turning on her heel, she raced   off. Mac strode over to Mitchell. 
Picking up his opponent's sword he handed it to Scully. He   retrieved 
his own sword and slipped it back under his coat. Then he bent over, 
snatched up the head   and tossed it to Mulder, who reflexively caught 
it and grimaced in distaste. Finally, O'Byrne heaved   the body over 
his shoulder and set off after Buffy.

Mulder and Scully looked at each other. Then they turned and followed 
O'Byrne.

In less than five minutes, Buffy pulled up in the truck. Mac heaved the 
corpse off his shoulder and   onto a plastic sheet in the back of the 
truck. He took the head from Mulder and the sword from Scully   and 
tossed them in the back as well. Then he slammed the hatch shut, turned 
to the agents long enough   to say, "Get in," and climbed into the 
passenger seat.

"Where to?" asked Buffy.

"Head up Paladin and take us into the desert, sweetheart. We need to 
unload that dumb bastard in   back."


Over the next two hours, Mulder and Scully watched as O'Byrne buried 
the corpse, sprinkling some kind   of powder over the body. A shift in 
the wind brought tears to their eyes  the powder was some kind   of 
tear gas. "To keep the animals from digging him up," O'Byrne commented 
to them when he saw the   question on the faces of the two agents. When 
he finished, Buffy drove them back to the 'Keep'    which apparently, 
was what they called their house.

Once there, they all trooped inside. Mac slipped off his coat and 
shoulder rig, revealing a long tear   along the left side of the shirt. 
As O'Byrne picked up a phone and punched in a number, Scully picked   
up the coat and found an identical injury. Both the coat and O'Byrne's 
shirt were spotted with drying   blood.

"Either of you two speak French?" asked O'Byrne. Seeing them shake 
their heads, he started softly   speaking in French to whoever was on 
the other end of the line.

"*Hunter? It's Reaper. I just ran into an immortal named Michael 
Mitchell.* 

"*No. He's dead. Find out what you can on him, will you? I want to 
check what I got through his   Quickening against your files.* 

"*Thanks, Brother. By the way, we've got a new wrinkle. Call Joe and 
tell him the feds saw it all.* 

"*He'll explain it. Thanks, brother.*" Mac set the phone down in its 
cradle and sat in a comfortable-  looking chair. Buffy walked in and 
handed him a cup of coffee. She perched on the arm of the chair   and 
stroked his hair as he slipped an arm around her waiSt.
'Dear god,' she thought. 'I almost lost him tonight.'

"We really want an explanation now, *Reaper*," announced Mulder.

Mac frowned at Buffy. "It slipped out," she apologized. After a moment, 
he shrugged and focused on   the feds.

"I've heard some interesting things about the two of you," Mac began. 
The two agents exchanged a   look.

"From who?" demanded Mulder.

"Later," Mac demurred. "Right now here's the thing. One of the things I 
heard is that you make your   living exposing secrets. Right now, 
that's not a very good thing for me to know."

The threat in his voice was obvious. O'Byrne was deciding whether or 
not to kill them. Both agents   silently evaluated their chances of 
drawing down on the man before he could carry out that threat.   They 
were both armed and several feet away from the man. He was seated with 
a cup of coffee in one   hand and his fiancé more or less in his 
way. Neither O'Byrne nor Summers were armed at the   moment. And he'd 
been wounded. So they considered the odds.

Neither one wanted to try them. O'Byrne, sitting there comfortably, 
casually stroking the young   woman's hip, was undoubtedly the single 
most dangerous man either of them had ever laid eyes on. It   was 
revealed in the way he moved, the way he walked. Even in the way he 
sat, seemingly  deceptively    relaxed.

Most of all, it was in his eyes.

Mulder was wondering if he was an alien. It would explain the light 
show.

Scully was deciding that the *second* most dangerous person she'd ever 
met was sitting on the arm of   O'Byrne's chair. It was a close second 
at that. The two of them together?

Forget it.

"So, the question, then," continued O'Byrne, "is what the hell do I do 
about you?"

"You guys want some coffee?" Buffy asked. The incongruity of her 
question relaxed the tension.   Mulder, the trained psychologist, was a 
half-second behind Scully in realizing she'd done that   deliberately.

"Yes, please," answered Scully. "Thank you."

"Coffee sounds good," agreed Mulder.

Buffy jumped up. "Don't kill anyone," she instructed Mac. He looked up 
at her. Buffy winked, bent   over and kissed his forehead, then walked 
to the kitchen.

Mac and the agents stared at one another. In a few minutes, Buffy came 
back in with the coffee tray   and served. That done, she went back and 
perched herself on the arm of Mac's chair again. His arm   returned to 
its place around her waist as hers returned to its place around his 
shoulders.

Earlier, when seeing them together, Scully had mused 'young love'. Now 
she decided it was much   deeper, much stronger than that. The man that 
had attacked O'Byrne had died easy. If he'd killed   O'Byrne...

"I think you're gonna have to tell them, honey," Buffy said.

"Easier to-" Mac started.

"They're not in the Game, Mac," she cut him off. "They're not vampires. 
Honey, they aren't *evil*,   and you know it." O'Byrne considered that 
for a long moment. Buffy's opinion obviously carried   tremendous wait 
with the man. Mulder wondered if anyone else's did. He had strong 
doubts. Still,   O'Byrne needed a push.

"Convince me, Mr. O'Byrne, and we'll keep your secret," Mulder offered.

"Your life on that, Mulder? And yours, Miss Scully?" asked Mac. "*Both* 
your lives? Because that's   what *we're* risking."

"You'd better be pretty damn convincing," stated Scully. Still, she 
knew she was mostly posturing. If   O'Byrne decided not to trust them, 
he *would* kill them both. Not necessarily for his own sake.

He'd do it to protect Buffy.

"All right, then," Mac began. "We're immortal."


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
0015, Tuesday (Local)


'Immortal?!' Mulder shouted silently. 'Hot damn!'

"Immortal?" Scully echoed his thought. "Define immortal."

"We don't age. Barring defeat in battle, there's no telling how many 
hundreds  thousands  of years   we'll survive," elaborated Mac.

"'Defeat in battle'? Like tonight at the church?" Mulder queried.

"Like tonight at the church, yes. What you saw was the Quickening. When 
I took that fool's head, I   took all his knowledge and power as well," 
Mac further explained.

"You mean... You don't mean you took his *soul*, do you?" demanded 
Scully.

"I don't know. In a way, I suppose. Don't feel sorry for him, ma'am. 
Judging from the power of his   Quickening, I'd have to say he'd killed 
a busload of us over the years," the immortal tried to   reassure her.

"Like a pyramid effect?" guessed Mulder.

Mac nodded. "Very much so. Some of us actively hunt each other, 
striving to be the sole remaining   immortal."

"What would be the point of that?" the agent wanted to know.

"The point, Mulder, is the Prize. Enough power to rule the world 
forever."

Scully paled. The implications were enormous.

Mulder asked, "You said 'some of you'. What about you two?"

"I like his head right where it is, Mulder," Buffy answered.

"Most of us just live our lives, Mulder," added Mac. "Some of us  like 
Buffy  do our best to   protect humanity." Mac had considered  
briefly  leaving Buffy's status as an immortal a secret. But   even if 
the agents didn't figure it out on their own, Buffy would've had his 
hide for it.

They were a team.

"Protect humanity from what?" asked Scully.

"There are a lot of evils in the world, ma'am. Some friends of mine 
tried to kill Hitler sixty years   ago." Mac grimaced. "Of course, 
unfortunately, they failed." He shrugged. "We're immortal, but we're   
human for all that. Not gods."

"How old-" Mulder started.

Scully cut him off. "Do you *have* to keep calling me that?" she 
complained. Mac was starting to make   her feel old. Buffy giggled.

"Don't mind the geezer, here, Dana. He's just being polite in his 
typically old-fashioned way," she   explained. Scully suspected it was 
something Buffy teased the man about on a regular basis.

"Almost sixty," Mac answered Mulder's unfinished question. "Buffy just 
turned twenty."

Mulder's jaw worked furiously. He was a little disappointed. "When you 
said 'immortal', I figured you   were older than that."

Mac chuckled and Buffy giggled again. "Some of us are. My teacher was 
almost three thousand years   old."

The sound of a dropped pin striking the floor would have been 
deafening.

"Three *thousand*?" Mulder echoed.

"One of the victims that brought you two out here. Finn Bonet?" Mac 
reminded them. "His name was Finn   Mac Cuhill. He was once the *Rig 
Fian* of the *Fianna Fail*  Supreme Commander of the Irish Army. He   
was legendary  so much so that he passed into myth."

"Didn't Morgan Llewelyn write a book about him?" asked Scully. Being of 
Irish descent himself, her   father had read everything he could get 
his hands on about ancient Irish myth and history.

Mac grinned. "Yeah. Finn loved her stuff. Claimed a lot of it was 
historically accurate. For context,   that is." His grin faded and his 
eyes grew hard again. "A psychopath named Jan Polovsky killed him.   
Right here in Sunnydale. That's what brought me."

"You plan to kill him yourself?" There was definite disapproval in 
Scully's voice.

"What do you suggest he does, Dana?" Buffy demanded, defending her man. 
"Have him arrested? Oh,   *there's* a good idea. 'Yes, your Honor, this 
is the guy that killed the three thousand year old man.   Oh, by the 
way, two hundred years ago, he raped and slaughtered all the nuns in a 
little abbey in   Poland, too'," she mocked, voice dripping sarcasm.

Scully and Mulder exchanged a meaningful look. 'Raped and murdered'? 
Mulder's guess about the serial   killer in San Francisco had been 
right on  and barely scratched the truth.

"If this man Polovsky killed your friend, what makes you so sure you 
can take him?" asked Mulder.

"I think Polovsky had a little accidental help," answered Mac.

"What help?"

Buffy sighed. "That would bring us back to the vampires," she said.

"Vampires?" echoed Scully. She nearly forgotten about that.

"Vampires, immortals... Quite a little town you've got here. No wonder 
the first settlers called it   the Hellmouth," observed Mulder wryly.

Buffy suddenly yawned. Mac took a quick look at his watch. "I think 
that's enough for tonight,   folks," he announced and stood up. Buffy 
leaned into him, her arm settling around his waiSt.
"But, the vampires-" began Mulder.

"It'll keep until tomorrow, Mulder," said Mac.

"What about your wound?" asked Scully. "I'm an MD. Let me take a look 
at it..."

Seeing the two immortals grin, Scully's voice trailed off. "What wound, 
Dana?" asked Mac. Stepping   closer to him, Scully's hand reached out 
and gently pulled at the slash in his shirt. There was no   evidence of 
any wound  just a few flakes of dried blood. "Oh, that," remembered 
Mac.

"Like we said," Buffy reminded her. "Immortal."

Seeing the disbelieving look on Scully's face, Mac sighed and 
disengaged himself from Buffy. He   pulled off his shirt and handed it 
to his fiance. "It's ruined anyway," he said to her as he pulled a   
folding knife from his belt.

Mac opened the blade and cut deeply into his arm, gritting his teeth as 
he drove it through the meat   and drew it up several inches toward his 
elbow. Buffy held the shirt under his arm as he pulled the   knife back 
out. Scully took a step forward but stopped when Buffy glared. The 
young woman's meaning   was clear  *no one* was getting near her man 
right now.

Mulder moved up next to Scully and watched as O'Byrne held his arm out 
to them.

"Watch," Mac instructed.

In a few seconds, little blue sparks started dancing along the length 
of both the entry and exit   wounds. Fascinated, the two agents watched 
the wound close up and heal before their eyes. In seconds,   O'Byrne 
was whole again. Not even a scar remained as evidence of the damage 
he'd inflicted on   himself.

Mac cleaned the blood from his arm with the shirt.

"Do you guys want to stay here?" Buffy offered. "It's pretty late." And 
the two feds would be where   the immortals could keep an eye on them. 
She took Scully's arm. "C'mon, Dana. I'll show you guys your   room."

"Uh, Buffy... We're not... That is we don't... We're *partners*, 
not..." her voice trailing off,   Scully had no idea why she was 
suddenly so embarrassed. Half the Bureau thought she and Mulder we're   
involved.

"Well, why not?" Buffy demanded. "Trust me on this Dana, life is short. 
*Too* short."

"Thanks for the offer, Buffy, but we'll-" began Mulder.

Mac cut him off. "We've got three spare rooms, Mulder. Considering 
where we are  and what you now   know  I'd feel better if you spent 
the night."

Buffy dragged Scully upstairs calling, "I'm gonna give here the big 
bed, Mac," over her shoulder. The   two women disappeared.

"Is she always so..." Mulder asked.

"You have no idea," confirmed Mac. "C'mon, Mulder. I'll show you to 
your room."

-------------------------------------------

Part 5


Scene 1

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
0800, Tuesday (Local)


Scully woke up to hear a soft knocking at her door. She rolled out of 
bed and answered it. Because   she was wearing only a T-shirt and 
panties, she kept herself mostly hidden as she opened the bedroom   
door.

Buffy was standing there, dressed in sweats soaked with...sweat. And 
holding a cup of coffee.

"Good morning," she announced. "Mac's making breakfast. I sent Mulder 
down to get your bag out of   your car. Here," she pushed the coffee 
through the door. "Shower's down the hall. 'Scuse me. Gotta   run." 
With that, the young woman vanished down the hall.

Scully sat down on the big bed and drank her coffee. The big *empty* 
bed. Buffy's words from the   night before had kept her awake a long 
time. What *was* keeping her and Mulder apart? Well 'Mulder'   was part 
of the reason. 'Mulder'  not 'Fox'. She liked the name 'Fox'. More, 
she thought it   appropriate.

Of coarse, part of the reason she thought so might be that she was in 
love with man. She wondered how   he felt about her? Dana was never 
really sure on that score. What had Buffy said? Life's too short?   
Great advice coming from an immortal.

"Scully?" Fox  *Mulder*  called from the hall. "I've got your bag." 
Dana took a deep breath.

"Come in, Mulder," she called out. As soon as the words were out of her 
mouth, Dana regretted them.   'I just woke up! I'm a mess! Shit!'

Too late now  Mulder walked in. And froze. Scully was sitting on the 
bed not wearing much of   anything at all. A grin crawled over his 
face. Dana would've been rather pleased to learn that   sitting there 
like that, dressed the way she was, she was fulfilling several of his 
fantasies. The   beginning part anyway.

The two friends looked at one another. Both thinking the same thing  
that the other didn't see them   as a possibility. It would have been 
poignant if it weren't so pathetic.

"You know, Scully, I think I've had this fantasy," Mulder teased.

From somewhere deep inside, Dana summoned every bit of courage she had. 
"Shut up, Fox. Don't move,"   she ordered. Jumping up from the bed, 
Dana grabbed her bag. She quickly threw it down on the bed,   ripped it 
open and grabbed her toothbrush and paste. She walked past him and out 
the door.

"I mean it  don't move." Dana repeated, and disappeared down the hall.

'Fox'? Mulder repeated to himself. When he'd told her not to call him 
that  that he'd even made his   parents call him 'Mulder'  he'd been 
trying to keep her at arms length. At the time, he'd felt a   healthy 
amount of lust of her and didn't want to compromise them. Since then 
he'd fallen head over   heels in love with her.

Now her calling him 'Fox' hurt a little, because it was an intimacy 
coming from someone he knew he   could never have. In a minute, Scully 
reappeared  teeth brushed and face washed  grabbed his arm,   dragged 
him into the bedroom and kissed him deeply.

The world got a little wobbly for Mulder as he wrapped his arms around 

the gorgeous redhead and   returned her embrace.


Finishing her shower, Buffy took a few minutes to pick out something 
pretty to wear and got dressed.   Ready for the day, she headed out of 
the bedroom. Thinking to see if Dana needed anything, she walked   down 
the hall to the guest room and glanced in the open door. Quietly, she 
pulled back, turned on her   heel and went downstairs.

Mac was just finishing setting breakfast out on the kitchen table. 
Seeing Buffy's happy face, he   quirked an eyebrow at her.

"Our guests may be a little late, sweetie," she said.

"Why?"

Buffy shot him a coy look. "What's *our* favorite thing to do?" she 
asked.

"Oh. Well I hope they're quick. Breakfast'll be cold."

Buffy whacked his shoulder. "Be nice," she scolded him.


When Scully and Mulder finally arrived in the kitchen, Mac pulled a 
tray from the oven. On it were   two plates. He set them on the table. 
"Careful," he advised. "Plates're hot."

Sitting at the table was another dangerous looking man. He nodded at 
them. Scully and Mulder sat down   and started to eat.

"Where's Buffy?" asked Dana.

"School. She has a class at nine-thirty," explained Mac. He gestured at 
the stranger. "This is Thomas   Jager. Hunter, these are Agents Mulder 
and Dana Scully of the FBI."

"Pleased to meet you," rumbled Jager in a slightly accented voice. 
O'Byrne had pronounced his name   'Yager'. Between that and the accent, 
Mulder figured the man for a German.

"Are you..." Mulder's voice trailed off.

"No," answered Jager. "I'm a Watcher."


Buffy had lunch with her mother, finished the day's classes and headed 
home. Poor Mom was torn, Buffy   decided, between being upset that her 
little girl was getting married and being excited about the   wedding. 
Which depressed Buffy a little.

She'd never get to go through things like that. 'Course, that wasn't 
*entirely* a bad thing. Her mom   had been through five or six kinds of 
hell raising Buffy. And just imagine having *Mac* for a dad!   'Up and 
at 'em son,' she could picture. 'Today we run fifty miles and do six 
zillion push-ups. Then,   once we're warmed up...' The thought of it 
kind of gave her the giggles.

Once she got home, she saw Thomas' Harley and Giles' car parked in the 
driveway. Biting her lip, she   carefully worked her way through the 
obstacles and parked her car. Once successful, she sighed in   relief. 
Giles probably wouldn't notice a dent, but if she dinged Thomas' bike, 
he'd be furious.

Buffy didn't really get Thomas. Sure, she got the whole 'Brothers of 
the Legion' thing  kind of,   anyway  but the Watcher seemed to 
practically worship Mac. In a strange, 'old soldier' kind of way.   She 
liked the man, but sometimes she thought Thomas would be a lot happier 
if Mac just grabbed him   and took off to invade a foreign country or 
something.

And the way Thomas treated her got on her nerves sometimes. He was 
almost *too* respectful. Buffy   would've been shocked to learn why. 
Thomas didn't simply care for her because she was Mac's lady  he   
thought she was nearly the perfect woman. He was, in fact, in awe of 
her in a way he never would be   of Mac. Buffy had battled Hell's 
minions from the time she was sixteen  Mac was just a regular kind   
of warrior.

Getting out of the car, Buffy immediately felt the 'buzz'. Mac was 
home. Not only home, but waiting   for her when she got to the door. 
She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply.

"Miss me?" she teased. Mac grinned.

"Every minute," he answered.


Giles was in the living room explaining to Scully and Mulder about the 
Hellmouth, and their   experiences there. When Buffy walked in, he 
stopped and stood up.

"Hello, Buffy. How was your day?" he asked politely. In many ways, 
Buffy was the daughter he'd never   had. So it took him all of about a 
nanosecond to focus on her ring. "Should I assume congratulations   are 
in order?"

Giles shot Mac a dirty look. The Watcher had been there for nearly two 
hours, and the immortal hadn't   mentioned a thing. Thomas looked 
nearly outraged. He started tearing into his friend in some very   rude 
sounding French.

As Mac stood and patiently listened to Jager's tirade, Buffy walked 
over and hugged Giles. She turned   to Jager. "Thomas," she said. Jager 
broke off and looked at Buffy.

"Listen, guys," she explained. "I only told Mom. I wanted to get 
everyone together and have a little   party, only, well, one thing sort 
of led to another, you know and, well..." her voice trailed away as   
Giles hugged his protégé again.

"I understand, Buffy. Congratulations. To both of you," he added with a 
nod to Mac.

Jager stepped toward her and bussed her cheek with a chaste kiss. "Yes, 
Buffy. Congratulations." He   turned back to Mac. "As for *you*, *mon 
ami*-"

"Thomas, perhaps we should accept their apology. That way we can be 
here to watch the fur fly when   Buffy and Mackenzie make the 
announcement to everyone else that might've expected to be told sooner   
rather that later," Giles suggested with a teasing stab at their 
friends.

Jager gave in and grinned. In truth, he was as pleased as punch. He 
hasn't believed Reaper had enough   sense to marry the girl  certainly 
not so quickly. He walked over and embraced his friend. Giles   offered 
his hand and clasped Mackenzie's shoulder.

Dana and Mulder sat through all this, nearly forgotten. It suddenly hit 
Dana, that she and Fox were   one of the 'things' that had come up. 
Considering what Giles had been telling them, she figured that   Buffy 
had had to learn to snatch at her happiness where she could. Until 
quite recently, at any rate.

And if Buffy hadn't been immortal, she might well be dead. *Had* died, 
in fact  thus becoming   immortal. She sighed  the girl would look 
young and pretty forever.

And never be able to have children - any more than Dana herself could 
thanks to the damn Consortium.   And perfect strangers would show up 
from time to time trying to kill her.

*And* she had a destiny as the 'Chosen One' on top of that! Dana 
decided Buffy *deserved* to be young   and pretty. And in love. 
Certainly there was no doubt of that  the two immortals were head over   
heels in love with each other. She'd almost asked if Mac (when did she 
start thinking of him as   'Mac'?) didn't think he was moving a little 
fast when Giles revealed that he'd only met Buffy six   weeks before. 
Somehow, Dana hadn't previously made that connection in her mind.

Now she was glad she'd kept her mouth shut. Mac and Buffy deserved to 
let their friends know the good   news without the accidental 
interference of strangers.

Giles settled back down to continue his lecture as Buffy walked into 
Mac's office to call up her   friends and invite them to a party.

"Mac," Scully interrupted. "A party? Now? With this psychopath Polovsky 
running around?"

The room froze up. Then Giles cleared his throat. "Miss Scully-" he 
began.

"Dana," she corrected, surprising herself. She was usually so slow to 
open up with people    especially civilians. What was it about this 
bunch?

"Dana, then. Dana, Buffy and her friends have been fighting monsters 
for years. They grab at   happiness where they can. Believe me when I 
say there is no hope at all that Mackenzie could derail   this," he 
explained.

Mulder was making observations of his own. 'Mac', 'Reaper', 'Mackenzie' 
 the psychologist in him was   noting that O'Byrne's relationships 
could be categorized by how he was addressed. With Rupert Giles,   it 
was warm but proper. With Jager, it was the old soldier thing  it 
would be interesting to meet   others who called him 'Reaper'. 'Mac' 
seemed to be for general friendly acquaintance.

Except in Buffy's case. Buffy addressed him according to her mood. 
Pretty typical behavior for a   woman to display with her mate, 
actually.


Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
1830, Tuesday (Local)


 Buffy had insisted Dana and Mulder stay for her engagement party. 
Apparently it was going to be a   pretty informal affair  Buffy didn't 
have a lot of close friends. Every one of them seemed to be a   part of 
the 'team'. 

They tended to be young, too. There was a trio named Xander, Willow and 
Oz, with Willow turning out   to be Buffy's best friend. Oz and Willow 
were very much a couple, but Oz and Xander quickly   gravitated toward 
O'Byrne ('Mac', noted Mulder). A young woman named Amy showed up 
shortly after,   immediately huddling with Buffy and Willow after 
greeting 'Mac'. Buffy's mother Joyce showed up,   greeted 'Mac' and sat 
with 'Rupert' (O'Byrne was the only other one that called him that, 
Mulder   noted). A couple friends of O'Byrne's showed up shortly 
thereafter  a man and a woman. The man was   named 'Big Jim' and 
wanted 'Mac' to talk about vampires  he seemed obsessed with the 
subject, even   for this crowd (something personal there). The woman 
was named Constance and had never met 'Mac'   before ('Mac' *was* a 
general acquaintance rule).

Then Buffy's father arrived. He had apparently only met 'Mac' once and 
didn't care for him (small   wonder  'Mac' was obviously 'you bastard' 
in that man's eyes).

Several dozen calls around the world from 'Mac', 'Mackenzie, *and* 
'Reaper' had been made. In every   case a promise had been issued for a 
wedding invitation.

Buffy's father put up the best front he could, but he was still the 
first to leave. Between his ex-  wife, a roomful of near and complete 
strangers and 'Mac' (a.k.a. 'you bastard') the man was just too   
uncomfortable. Buffy walked him out when he left. The two of them 
stayed outside a while. When she   returned, it was pretty obvious to 
all that the conversation hadn't gone well. O'Byrne was an obvious    
if clichéd  point of contention. Mulder wondered how Joyce 
dealt with it.

The apparent relief of everyone in the room following Dad's departure 
was explained simply enough by   Joyce and Giles  the poor man was the 
*only* one there who knew nothing about immortals, the   Hellmouth or 
Buffy's calling as the 'Chosen One'.

Despite her father's disapproval, Buffy (a.k.a. 'Mistress of the Keep') 
was soon back in good   spirits. Mulder watched the news about 
Polovsky's suspected arrival circulate. Everyone seemed to   understand 
the danger. They also understood to run as fast as they could for 'Holy 
Ground' at the   first sight of him and report that information 
('intel') to 'Mac' as quickly as possible. Even 'Big   Jim' (who turned 
out to be another immortal  and three hundred years old!) agreed that 
'Mac' should   have first crack at the 'psychopathic son of a bitch'.

Dana walked up to Mulder and goosed him. "Stop it, Fox," she 
instructed.

"Stop what?" he asked innocently. 

"Put that wonderful brain of yours in neutral and stop categorizing and 
filing every damn little   thing!" Dana knew her man. "Mac wants to 
talk to you."


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
2030, Tuesday


Dana walked Mulder into Mac's office. O'Byrne, Giles and Jager had 
apparently slipped away from the   party  the three men were waiting 
for them.  "Have a seat, Mulder," instructed O'Byrne. Mulder sat. 
Surprising him to no end  albeit pleasantly    Dana perched herself 
on the arm of his chair and looped her arm over his shoulder. He 
suspected it   had little to do with seating availability.

'Christ! Where has this X-File been?' he wondered.

"All right, Mulder," began O'Byrne. "Decision time. You've been briefed 
 you've *both* been briefed    on who we are and what we do. You 
possess more information than I, personally, have ever trusted   
someone with on such short notice. Where do you stand?"

"What do you mean, Mac?" asked Dana.

"He means, my lady," answered Jager, "what do you intend to do with 
that information?"

"You've met us. You know what we do," added Giles. "You know about 
Buffy. It is fair, we think, to   ask your intentions."

Mulder had been seriously considering that question for almost twenty-
four hours. "Polovsky has to be   stopped," he said.

"Yes, he must be," agreed Giles. "Can *you* stop him?"

Mulder had been considering *that* as well. The only way to stop him 
meant cutting his head off. Even   if the immortal was somehow 
arrested, confined... Mulder knew all too well that certain agencies 
both   inside and outside the government would grab him. The real 
question was what *they* would do with   him.

If that cigarette-smoking son-of-a-bitch got his hands on an 
immortal...

And what would happen if there was no Buffy? Well, sure, if she died 
another Slayer would be called.   Would she be nearly as adequate? Or 
would she be just the latest in a string of *children* going back   
centuries who was slaughtered by demons? Mulder was curious why he was 
so quick to accept the claims   of this group  they bordered on the 
fantastic.

Of course, Mulder had quite a bit of experience in dealing with the 
unbelievable.

What about the immortals and their 'Game'? Well, if exposed, who was 
most likely to survive the   manhunt? A few like O'Byrne, maybe. And a 
shitload like Polovsky. Those like the Cancerman. One of   them would 
win this 'Prize'. Then the world really *would* be in for the shitstorm 
of all time.

"No," Mulder answered. "I can't."

"Then you'd best leave it to Reaper, don't you think?" suggested Jager.

The only problem there was that Mulder was all too aware that 'Reaper' 
had been perfectly prepared to   kill both he and Dana. He might be 
heroic, but he was a heroic *bastard* with the conscience of a   
chainsaw.

Still, all the people out in the living room obviously liked and 
trusted him  even the woman whose   daughter's cradle he'd robbed. 
Considering how easily O'Byrne could have killed him, maybe it was a   
point in the man's favor that he hadn't.

Mulder was trained to judge men's characters accurately. He had years 
of experience doing just that    and doing it well. While he never 
wanted to get on O'Byrne's 'enemies list'  which, all things   
considered, probably tended to stay rather short  Mulder knew the man 
was a walking, talking,   living, breathing *hero*. With lots of 
friends just like him.

Friends that, on the one hand, would avenge him. And who, on the other, 
would drop everything and   race to his side if called.

Mackenzie O'Byrne might just be the ally Mulder and Scully needed. To 
make an ally of the man, he   needed to do more than keep his secrets.

"No, I don't," responded Mulder.

"Damn it, man-" Giles began. O'Byrne cut him off by lifting his hand 
and signaling 'Halt'.

"What are you offering, Mulder?" asked Reaper. "And what's the price?"



Buffy pulled her head out of a steadily more giddy conversation about 
weddings with Willow, Amy and   her mother to notice that Mac was AWOL. 
Along with Giles, Thomas, Dana and Mulder. Big Jim and his   date  a 
woman he'd saved from a vampire in San Diego a couple weeks before  
were 'looking at   weapons' in the basement, she knew. Xander and Oz 
were in the TV room scarfing down junk food and   watching the Playboy 
Channel on the big screen, but everyone else had disappeared.

She excused herself from the girls and headed for Mac's office. She 
quietly opened it and slipped   inside.

"So you're claiming that an evil extra-governmental agency is planning 
to  no, *conspiring with*    aliens to conquer the planet?" asked 
Giles. "Agent Mulder, I find that rather hard to believe," he   
scoffed.

"Rupert, you're sitting in a room with an immortal and a Vampire 
Slayer," Mac said as Buffy perched   herself on the arm of his chair. 
She winked at Dana. "*You're* going to scoff at this?"

That pretty well shut Giles down. "Well, yes. Mackenzie. I see your 
point."

"But, Reaper, *why* would they do it?" asked Thomas.

"Why does any power-mad lunatic ally himself with demons, Hunter? Or 
try to conquer a neighboring   nation? Or," he suggested pointedly, 
"try to exterminate an entire race of people?"

Thomas shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

"'Why' doesn't matter," Mac added. He turned to Mulder. "All right, 
Mulder. You help us  Polovsky   comes first. He's here, he's probably 
coming for me or Buffy and I can deal with him *now*.

"Then we'll help you. I'll call my friends and we'll shut these 
motherfuckers down," he finished.

"Shut who down, honey?" asked Buffy. Mac was wound tight as a spring. 
Whatever it was that Mulder had   told him about, Mac was furious. He 
reminded her of the night he'd decided to wage war on the   vampires. 
He'd 'called his friends' then, too  in a week they'd killed more than 
a hundred of the   beasts, virtually exterminating the local 
population.

"Bad guys, sweetie. Soon to be deceased bad guys," Mac answered.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------------

Part 6


Scene 1

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
0800, Wednesday (Local).


Buffy groaned as her eyes fluttered open and focused on the clock. It 
had been a long night. She   turned in Mac's arms and faced him. His 
eyes were open and staring into hers. The lovers traded a   soft kiss.

Then Buffy forced herself out of bed. As she stumbled toward the bath, 
Mac's voice rang out quietly,   "Now there's a beautiful sight."

Buffy turned and looked at Mac. All of a sudden she felt a little self-
conscious about her nudity.   Blushing a really pretty shade of pink, 
Buffy crossed her arms over her breasts and turned in profile    
unintentionally striking a provocative pose. Mac leaped out of bed, 
crossed to her and wrapped his   arms around her. He began to draw her 
back to bed, but Buffy shook herself loose.

"Hey, Tarzan. Jane have class, remember?"

"Can I carry your books?" asked Mac with a grin.

Buffy smiled at her fiance. "No, honey. I've really got to go  
provided, that is, you ever want to   see me graduate."

"Well, fine then," Mac teased her with a wink. "Wash your own back, 
missy."

Buffy gazed at him with an evil glint in her eye, then walked up and 
nuzzled his neck. "Tell you   what," she promised, "You get rid of our 
new friends, and I'll put on my cheerleader outfit when I   get back."

Mac stroked her hair and whispered in her ear, "Tease."

Buffy giggled.


Mac walked into the kitchen and found Mulder and Scully brewing coffee. 
"You kids are up, I see," he   greeted them.

"Morning, Mac," Dana smiled. Her red hair was a bit tousled, and 
overall she looked tired.

'Not bad looking for first thing in the morning, though,' observed Mac. 
'Not *Buffy*, but not bad.'

Mulder looked as if he'd been hit by a truck. "Morning, Mac," he said 
tiredly.

Mac quickly made breakfast. In a few minutes, Buffy made an appearance, 
scarfed down some food, gave   her fiancé a kiss and darted out 
the front door. The moment she was gone, the phone rang.

"Hello?" Mac answered it.

"*Mac, Duncan. Can you pick up Joe and me at LAX this afternoon?*" 
Macleod's voice asked.

"Duncan! Sure, pal. What's bringing you two down here?"

"*Joe and I figured you might need some help with your 'visitors',*" 
answered the older immortal.   "*Besides, we wanted to see Buffy. At 
the rate you two are going, we thought you might slip off and   get 
married before you remembered to send out the invitations.*" Duncan 
teased.

"Oh, ha, ha," replied Mac. "What time's your flight due in?"

"*Three-thirty. Gate C-23.*"

"I'll be there, my friend. Until then," finished Mac. He hung up the 
phone and looked at the agents.   "Company's coming," he explained.


 Scene 2

L.A., Ca.

Los Angeles International Airport

1515, Wednesday (Local)


When Joe Dawson and Duncan Macleod walked out of the causeway and into 
the terminal, they found Mac   waiting for them. The three friends 
shook hands and embraced warmly.

"Where's Buffy?" asked Joe.

"Wednesday, Joe," explained Mac. "Her last class didn't get out 'till 
three. I called her at lunch   and let her know you guys were coming. 
She'll be at the Keep when we get back."

The group was quiet as the visitors retrieved their bags and the three 
men went out to the truck and   began the trip to Sunnydale. Once on 
the way, Mac explained the events of the last three days.

"So you think Polovsky is here?" asked Duncan. "In Sunnydale?"

Mac nodded an affirmative. "That's what my gut tells me. Of course, it 
might have been that idiot   Mitchell I passed on the highway."

"Or another immortal entirely," pointed out Joe.

Mac nodded again. "Yeah, but, like I said, my gut says 'Polovsky'."

"Then you think he's coming for you?" asked Duncan.

"Yeah," answered Mac. "Maybe Buffy, too. Although I think it unlikely. 
She's too new. If Polovsky had   known about her before..."

The implication was obvious to Macleod and Dawson. Polovsky would have 
jumped at the chance to   'enjoy' Buffy. Until Mac had come to town, 
Buffy hadn't know she was an immortal  ergo, she wouldn't   have known 
how to kill one. Despite her abilities, Polovsky would have had the 
upper hand the whole   way.

"So, what *really* brings you two down here?" asked Mac.

Duncan turned in his seat to share a look with Joe, sitting in back. 
"Have you ever heard of a 'Dark   Quickening'?" he asked Mac.

"No," the younger man answered. "What's that?"

"We  the Watchers  used to think it was a myth," answered Joe. "Now 
we know it can be very real."

"It?" prompted Mac.

"Did you ever meet Darius?" queried Duncan.

Mac nodded. "Yeah. Hell of a man. I heard someone got him."

"Yes. Hunters  renegade Watchers, bent on destroying us all," 
confirmed Duncan.

Hearing that, Mac shot a look at Dawson in the rear-view mirror. The 
Watcher looked chagrined.   "Fanatic splinter group, Mac. Pretty much 
all dead, now," Joe explained.

"*Pretty* much?!" exploded the veteran. Mortals that new about them  
and how to kill them... Shit!   How in hell could he and Buffy protect 
themselves from *that*? And he'd thought the idea of the   Watchers  
recording their immortal lives  was a pretty good one. Christ  if 
Hunter had been one of   them...

"Yeah, pretty much," agreed Duncan. "But that's not the issue right 
now. We need to warn you about   the Dark Quickening, Mac."

Mac chewed that over. "All right," he finally said. "Tell me."


Buffy was practically hopping. Jager and Giles had come over, each 
eager to see the two incoming   visitors again. Buffy had drafted their 
help straightening the place up. Not that it needed it,   reflected 
Scully. Buffy and Mac  mostly Mac, probably  kept a clean house.

Jager had been further assigned to 'Go do that barbaric man-thing out 
back' by Buffy. Which turned   out to be skewering and roasting a 
tremendous slab of meet over an open barbecue pit.

Mulder had spent a lot of the day in Mac's office, reviewing his 
library. Buffy had reluctantly   allowed that, but only with the strict 
instruction not to touch *anything* but the books. Apparently   the 
office was Mac's space and Buffy didn't want anyone disturbing it. The 
longer she was around the   affianced immortals, the deeper Dana's 
appreciation for their relationship grew.

It surprised her a little that Buffy didn't summon her younger friends. 
After a while, she figured   out why. Buffy wanted a chance to greet 
'Joe' and 'Duncan' privately before calling up the rest of   her 
extended family. Giles and Jager were there because they had their own 
connections to the   incoming guests.

Besides, Scully decided, this was probably Buffy's first chance to be 
the hostess for dear friends in   an adult setting. It was kind of 
charming.

Shortly after five, the Buffy walked through the living room and opened 
the front door. Mac and two   men were walking up the steps to the 
front porch. The house had thick walls, and Scully hadn't heard   Mac's 
truck pull up  how had Buffy known they were back?

Seeing the question on her face, Giles explained, "Immortals can sense 
one another. It's how they   prepare themselves for what they may 
face."

Mulder and Scully traded a look, remembering how Mac and Buffy seemed 
to have known that Mitchell was   nearby a few nights before. 
Apparently, they *had* known. Damn.

Buffy gave Mac a quick kiss, then squealed, "Joe, Duncan!" and gave 
both men a big hug. Each of the   men returned her embrace warmly. 
Mulder noted the friendliness of the group, while Dana practically   
basked in the warmth.

'Who *are* these people?' she wondered, looking around the room at the 
men and Buffy. 'I didn't think   there were any heroes left in the 
world, yet here they are.'

Buffy brought Duncan and Joe over to the two agents. "Joe, Duncan, 
Dana, Mulder," she introduced   them.

The four strangers contemplated one another for a long moment. Finally, 
Duncan offered his hand and   Joe quickly followed suit, saying, 
"Walter Skinner speaks highly of you."

Mulder and Scully stared at the bearded man, leaning on a cane. So, 
this was Skinner's 'source'.

"Where did you meet A.D. Skinner, Joe?" asked Dana.

"Viet Nam. We served together in the Corps before *this*," the Watcher 
explained as he thumped the   cane against one of his legs. The strike 
produced a sharp smacking sound  Joe's legs were   prostheses.

"How..." Dana began. She let her voice trail off, not wanting to be 
intrusive.

"Stepped on a land mine." Joe shrugged. "Could've been worse. It led to 
my involvement with the   Watchers. Sometimes life works out in strange 
ways."

Mulder was aghast. "*Skinner* knows about immortals?" he demanded.

Joe shook his head. "Not unless you've told him."

Everyone quickly settled down after that. With Buffy playing hostess, 
the feds and the Watchers began   to exchange information. It had 
surprised Mulder to learn that Giles was from an entirely different   
group of 'Watchers' and that the two groups hadn't known about one 
another until recently.

Giles' group was less than pleased with what they'd learned, but any 
action they might have taken was   forestalled by a couple of guys  
another immortal friend of Buffy and Mac named Jean-Paul Deblout   and 
Deblout's Watcher  on separate visits. Deblout had offered them a 
quick death. His Watcher had   offered an exchange of information.

Mulder wondered which of the two had been more convincing.

At any rate, Dawson's Watchers had assigned a liaison to Giles' 
superiors and an uneasy truce was in   effect. Probably a good thing 
all around, Mulder decided. Giles' group had just picked up some *very*   
effective allies in their battle against evil. And they got to live. 
The agent had no doubt that this   Deblout wouldn't have hesitated to 
kill them all  immortals tended to be very comfortable when   dealing 
out violence.

And now Giles had one hell of a lot of influence with his superiors. 
Not only was his Slayer immortal    and involved with another immortal 
who was particularly dangerous in his own right  but Giles was   also 
*the* key element connecting the immortals and the Council. In recent 
weeks, the vampire   population in Southern California and around Paris 
(Deblout and friends at work) had been   annihilated. Hope was daring 
to raise its head in the Council.


Buffy walked out on the porch and found Mac in his usual pose  deep in 
his favorite chair, feet   kicked up on the rail and a bottle of beer 
resting in a bucket of ice beside him. Her honey looked to   be deep in 
thought.

Buffy walked over to him, sat down in his lap and snuggled against her 
man as he wrapped his arms   around her and softly kissed the top of 
her head.

"Penny?" she asked.

Mac was giving the subject of Dark Quickenings a lot of thought. Would 
it happen to him? If  *when*    he took Polovsky's head, would it 
turn him as a Dark Quickening had once turned Duncan? Would he   hunt 
Buffy just as Duncan had hunted his own friends?

He was also wondering what to tell Buffy.

"Mac and Joe are here in case I find Polovsky," he explained. Buffy got 
the truth, he decided.   Always.

"What do you mean?" she asked, tensing up.

"There's a danger of something called a 'Dark Quickening'. It happened 
to Duncan, once. Couple of   years ago, he killed an immortal so 
overcome with evil that it drowned the goodness within him. Made   him 
evil."

Buffy felt her heart start to hammer as Mac continued. "It can work 
both ways. Remember me telling   you about my friend Darius? That he 
killed an immortal monk at the gates of Paris and suddenly   decided to 
disband his army and spare the city?"

Buffy nodded. Darius had been a barbarian warrior bent on the conquest 
of Europe early in the first   millennium. She'd wondered why he'd 
changed his mind.

"Well," Mac continued, "apparently, the Quickening of the monk he 
killed drowned the darkness within   him. That's what changed him."

"So, killing an evil immortal can make you go bad?" she asked 
fearfully. Buffy knew full well that   Mac was bent on killing 
Polovsky. Finn Mac Cuhil's Quickening hadn't turned Polovsky into a 
good guy.   That butcher practically *personified* evil.

Mac nodded. "Like I said, it happened to Duncan."

"But Duncan isn't evil," Buffy contradicted him.

"No, not now. But he was. He started hunting and killing his friends. 
Immortals he'd know for   centuries." Buffy started to shiver. If Mac 
killed Polovsky...

"Are you saying you might come for me?" she asked quietly.

Mac paused for a long moment. The silence was pregnant with morbid 
possibilities. Finally, he   answered, "Joe and Duncan think it's a 
possibility. After what happened to Duncan, another immortal   captured 
him and took him to a holy spring. Somehow it cured him.

"Our friends are here in case Polovsky's Quickening turns me. To try 
and do the same for me," he   finished.

"'Try'," echoed Buffy. "You mean it might not work?"

Slowly, Mac nodded his head. "There are no guarantees, no."

"But you have to face him anyway?" Buffy asked. "Why can't we catch 
him, encase him in cement and   drop him in the middle of the ocean?"

Mac smiled down at the young woman who had captured his heart. "Finn's 
Quickening, Buffy. I won't   have that lost."

Buffy settled her head against Mac's chest as tears formed in her eyes.


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
Sunnydale Central Park
2030, Wednesday (Local)


Buffy and Dana strolled through the park. Mac, Duncan and Mulder were 
several hundred feet in their   wake 'pulling drag'. As they walked, 
Dana wondered what was bothering the younger woman. Finally,   tired of 
the ominous silence, she asked.

"Buffy, what's wrong?"

Buffy looked at Scully, wondering what to tell her. She sighed. "Duncan 
and Joe came down here in   case Mac finds Polovsky..."

As Buffy revealed the worries of the other immortals and their 
Watchers, Scully grew progressively   paler.

"This 'cure'," she asked at last. "It's worked before?"

"Yeah, but Mac and Duncan are different. Duncan is kind of an overgrown 
boy scout and he's been   around for four *centuries*," Buffy 
explained. "Mac is very in tune with his dark side. He uses it   when 
he fights. Hell, I think he uses it when he *cooks*. He's been involved 
in a lot of bad stuff   over the years."

"Tell me," instructed Dana.

As Buffy told Dana about Mac's history, the agent's heart started 
hammering in her chest. Five years   in the French Foreign Legion, most 
of it spent in Viet Nam and Algeria. Three more years spent in   Viet 
Nam with US Army Special Forces. Another six years spent on and off in 
Latin America, fighting   in Reagan's drug war. Counter-terrorist 
operations all over the planet, working for the CIA, British   MI-6, 
the Israeli Mossad...

Five decades spent studying martial arts. Everything from Aikido to 
Philippine stick-fighting to   something called Wun Hop Kwen Do.

Nearly thirty battles with other immortals  almost always to the 
death.

And now his campaign against the vampires.

Dana Scully understood Buffy's concern. But maybe the young immortal 
had missed something. "Buffy,   maybe his comfort with darkness is a 
help. Duncan spent his life as a  what did you say? Overgrown   boy 
scout?"

Buffy nodded and gave Dana a sad smile. "Well," Scully continued. "Mac 
has spent *his* life swimming   with the sharks. Maybe he can channel 
evil better than Duncan can."

Buffy suddenly looked hopeful. "Do you really think so?" she pleaded. 
One person she'd loved  Angel    had turned evil. Buffy didn't think 
she could handle losing Mac the same way. She still had   nightmares 
about being forced to kill Angel.

Losing Mac would destroy her.


Behind them, the men were discussing the Consortium. Despite dealing 
with vampires, immortals and   even a demon named Ahriman, Duncan was 
proving a bit skeptical.

"Pardon me, Duncan," taunted Mac. "But doesn't the name 'Hitler' mean 
anything to you? If memory   serves, Connor helped liberate one of that 
bastard's concentration camps. Hell, *you* tried to   assassinate the 
sack of shit yourself," the younger immortal pointed out.

"The Consortium I can buy, Mac," countered Duncan. "It's the part about 
aliens that I'm having a   problem with."

"I've *seen* them, Macleod," asserted Mulder. "Believe me  they're 
real."

"*Duncan*!" Mac suddenly hissed quietly. O'Byrne was staring at 
something off in distant shadows.

Macleod saw it, too, apparently. "Got it," he answered.

Mulder had no idea what the two immortals were looking at. Until he saw 
Buffy racing across the park   at whatever had caught the other men's 
attention.


Buffy had seen the beast, all right. She'd also seen what it was 
carrying.

"C'mon," she ordered Dana. "*Quietly*," she added. Suddenly, Buffy was 
gone. Dana stared at the young   woman's retreating form for a moment 
before racing in pursuit.

As she chased after the Slayer, Scully saw the three men looking in the 
direction Buffy was running.   They raced to close with her.

Buffy hit the vampire with a flying kick. The beast dropped its burden 
 a young child  as it   slammed back into a tree. Pulling a stake out 
with either hand, Buffy stepped forward and kicked the   vampire in the 
face. It snarled at her as she darted forward and slammed a stake 
through each   shoulder.

Its howl was cut off when Buffy punched it in the throat. Drawing her 
pistol, the Slayer shot the   beast through both knees. She had the 
silenced .38 leveled at its face when the men arrived. Seeing   that 
his fiancé had things well in hand, Mac crouched down next to 
the boy.

"Still breathing, sweetie," he reported just as Scully joined the 
group. Mac pulled a squirt gun from   his coat pocket and squirted it 
in the child's face. The boy blinked his eyes.

"Who, who, who're you?" stuttered the boy.

"The cavalry, son," answered Mac. "You're going to be okay. What's your 
name?"

"B-B-Billy. I w-want to go ho-home," cried the child.

"Okay, Billy. We'll take you home." Scooping up the boy, Mac called out 
to Buffy. "Make it quick,   honey." 

Once her man had taken the boy far enough away, Buffy went to work on 
the vampire. She handed her   pistol to Duncan. "Cover me," she 
ordered. Macleod nodded. Buffy reached out and broke both of the   
vampire arms.

"That was to get your attention fang boy. I want to know where your 
friends are  *now*," she   emphasized.

Mulder and Scully watched the quick, brutal interrogation of the 
hissing *thing* staked to the tree.   After about two minutes, Buffy 
drew another stake and shoved through the vampires heart. It exploded   
into dust with a soft *poof*. Without a second look, the Slayer spun on 
her heel, retrieved her   pistol from Duncan and pulled out her cell 
phone.

"Giles, it's Buffy.

"Yeah, we found one. It had a little boy.

"No, the kid's fine. Listen, it volunteered some info."

'"Volunteered"?' thought Mulder.

'Oh my god!' thought Dana. 'We were worried about *Mac*?'

"Yeah, we're gonna get the kid home and head for the nest," continued 
Buffy. "I'll check in later.   Bye," finished the Slayer. Putting away 
her phone, Buffy looked at the two agent's expressions.   "What?" she 
demanded.

"You're pretty...efficient," observed Dana cautiously.

"She's had a lot of practice over the years," pointed out Duncan.

"I staked a vampire once," interrupted Mulder. "*It* didn't go *poof*."

Buffy shot the man a look. "Then you didn't do it right, Mulder. Let's 
go."

The four of them reached the entrance to the park just as Mac pulled up 
in the truck. The boy was   sitting in the front seat, so Buffy lifted 
him up, slid in and set the boy on her lap.

"Drive carefully, honey," she teased Mac. He nodded. The boy wasn't out 
of danger yet, not sitting   perched on an adult's lap in the front 
seat of a moving vehicle. "Hey, Billy. Why don't you tell us   where 
you live?" she gently coaxed the child.

As he gave directions as best he could  the kid couldn't have been 
more that five or six years old    he clutched Buffy tightly.

Pulling up in front of what was hopefully the kid's house, Mac leaned 
over and whispered to him,   "Don't be getting any ideas there, son. 
The lady's spoken for." Mac winked at the kid and Billy   giggled. 
Buffy whacked Mac gently across his cheSt.
"Be nice," she teased, causing Billy to giggle again.

"Wait here," Mac ordered the passengers as he, Buffy and Billy climbed 
out.

"They're good with kids," observed Dana. "It's too bad..." She left the 
rest of the sentiment   unspoken. None of the group would be having 
children of their own. In Mulder's case, that was because   Dana 
couldn't, but still...

"Yeah," agreed Duncan. "Which is kind of strange."

"Why's that?" asked Mulder.

"Because Mac doesn't really care for children. Must be Buffy's 
influence," Duncan explained.

After a few minutes, the couple in question returned to the truck. "I 
don't care, Mac!" Buffy was   saying angrily. "They're the ones that 
let Billy out to play. They should be keeping a better eye on   him! 
They're his parents!"

"Granted, they could've handled that a little better, honey, but-" he 
replied as he started the   truck.

Oblivious to the amused curiosity of Mulder, Dana and Duncan, Buffy cut 
Mac off. "I'll say they   could've handled it better!"

"Guys!" interrupted Dana. "What happened?"

"They were a little upset that Billy left the yard-" Mac started.

"They started yelling at Billy!" Buffy cut her fiancé off again. 
"Like it's *his* fault that   some vampire snatched him?"

"Still, sweetie," scolded Mac. "Offering to rip the guys lungs out was 
a little much, don't you   think?" Buffy folded her arms and glared at 
him.

"You told his parents about the vampire?" asked Mulder.

"No. We said that we saw a gang-banger dragging Billy through the park. 
I doubt Billy will realize   any different," answered Mac.

"Why not tell them the truth?" asked the fed.

"Oh, right, Mulder. 'Hi, folks! I'm Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. We just 
rescued your son from a blood-  sucking fiend from Hell!'," mocked 
Buffy. "Yeah. Keen idea. *Not!*"

"No one would believe us, Mulder," counseled Mac a bit more soberly. 
"No one wants to know the truth.   Trust me on this."

Mulder and Scully traded a look, remembering their reception from the 
Police Chief. The immortals had   a point.


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
1210 Parker Dr
0500, Thursday (Local)


Scully and Mulder waited in Mac's Pathfinder. Leaning against the 
truck, Jager cradled a shotgun.   Giles and Dawson had been ordered to 
wait back at the Keep while the Slayer led her small strike team   
against the new nest. Jager had been allowed to come along to keep the 
feds out of trouble.   Apparently, the Watcher was used to baby sitting 
duties. His usual station during a hunt was driving   the Pathfinder, 
loaded with weapons and some of Buffy's friends, all of them on post as 
a reserve.

The three immortals had disappeared almost half an hour before, 
positioning themselves for the   strike. Even if they hadn't been told, 
Mulder and Scully would have easily picked up that the group   were 
experienced at what they were doing.

"Don't like being left behind, Jager?" asked Mulder.

The Watcher shook his head. "No, I don't. I understand it, but I don't 
like it. Still," Jager   reluctantly allowed, "I can't fault Reaper's 
tactics. We all come home."

"There's something I don't understand," began Mulder. "What's with the 
guns? I'd have thought they'd   be kind of useless against vampires."

Jager gave him an evil grin. "That's because you don't know what 
they're loaded with," he said. "We   modified a bunch of hollow-point 
ammo, filled it with garlic and holy water. The round practically   
*explodes* after penetration. For a vampire, it's one *painful* way to 
die. Of course, you have to   get them in the heart to actually kill 
them. Otherwise, it's just excruciating torment."

The two agents remembered Buffy kneecapping the vampire in the park and 
traded a look. The Slayer   could be stone cold when she wanted to be.

"We just got in a load of .38 wooden slugs. Haven't had a chance to try 
them in the field yet," added   Jager.

"And the shotgun?" asked Scully.

Jager racked the gun and caught the ejected round. He handed it over. 
Mulder examined the short,   *sharp* stake. Scully looked over his 
shoulder and asked, "Doesn't the tip get blunted in the gun?"

"Not enough to affect performance. Effective tools, but you've got to 
be *close*. Ballistics on these   toys are for shit," explained the 
veteran.

"I presume you've...'tested' this equipment before?" asked Mulder.

Jager nodded again. "Yeah. When we've got something new, Reaper and 
Buffy select a...*test subject*.   They've got a cage in the basement 
back at the Keep."

Scully shuddered. "For vampires?" she asked.

"Yes and no. The cage does double duty as Oz's holding pen."

"Why would Oz need a holding pen?" asked Mulder.

Jager smiled. "'Cause he's a werewolf," he answered. "Ah, they're 
back."  Mulder's mind was reeling. *Werewolf?! * Scully looked up at 
the approaching warriors  for warriors  they were, she no longer had 
any doubt of  that. And there were more of them spread out all over the  
place around the world. Why was that oddly  comforting?


Upon returning to the Keep, the group trudged inside to report in to 
Giles.

"How many?" asked the Watcher.

"Five," answered Mac. "I worked on one for a few minutes. This nest 
wasn't connected to anyone else   here. Learned something interesting 
though," he added with a smile. Buffy giggled and Duncan   chuckled.

"What was that?" Giles asked.

"It seems," answered Duncan, "that the word is out in the vampires' 
'community' that Sunnydale is an   unhealthy place to be. The 'Greatest 
Slayer in history' *and *her 'mate' are getting a reputation as   being 
unstoppable."

"The vampires we just dealt with thought it was bull," added Mac.

"Foolish of them," observed Giles with a small smile.

Dana noted that all of them looked rather pleased with themselves. 
Especially Buffy  the part about   her 'mate' seemed to just tickle 
her pink. And, curiously, Mac didn't seem to mind being referred to   
as a virtual appendage. Apparently, being the 'Slayer's *mate*' was 
something that agreed with him.

Of course, it was an accurate description. Buffy *was* the Slayer and 
Mac was definitely her mate.

'Vampires beware,' Scully thought.

------------------------------------------

Part 7


Scene 1
Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St  0800, Thursday (Local)

Sitting in the shade of a boulder half a mile away from O'Byrne's 
house, Polovsky watched O'Byrne's   woman drive away. Through the high-
power telescope, the immortal thought the girl looked tired.   Young, 
too.

'So,' he thought to himself. 'O'Byrne likes them young. We have 
something in common!'

The immortal continued to watch. After a while, he sat bolt upright. 
O'Byrne and another immortal   entered the back yard and began to 
fence. Polovsky new the second man was an immortal because he   
recognized him.

Duncan Macleod of the Clan Macleod.

Shit! Polovsky hadn't seen that bastard in over a hundred years. Where 
had it been? Oh, yes. The   Pacific Northwest  1868. Neither of them 
had been looking for a fight. No, that wasn't quite right.

Macleod had been hunting an immortal named Kern. Something about 
Macleod's woman being murdered, if   he remembered right. Judging that 
the other immortal wasn't someone he wanted to tangle with right   then 
 Macleod had clearly been on the warpath  Polovsky had slipped away.

He'd heard a lot about Macleod over the years since. About the 
*Macleods*, plural. Duncan and Connor.   Each had a considerable 
reputation. Connor had taken out the Kurgen back in  what? '85, '86? 
The   Kurgen was no joke, either.

Polovsky recalled that *both* of the Clansmen had been summoned by 
O'Byrne the month before to deal   with the vampires. Just two among a 
half-dozen of the formidable immortals that O'Byrne had called.

What in *hell* was Macleod still doing here?

After a while, three other men came outside. A cripple, a bookish 
looking sort and a man who was   clearly a soldier. They sat and drank 
coffee as the immortals sparred. 'Mortals,' decided Polovsky.

Macleod and O'Byrne traded blows faster and faster. Judging by their 
styles, Polovsky decided they   both liked short, close fights. Seeing 
Macleod leap into the air and somersault over O'Byrne's head,   with 
O'Byrne practically levitating and spinning to meet the new attack, 
Polovsky amended his   thought. They might *prefer* the close fight, 
but the two immortals were flexible as hell on the   subject.

Two more joined the coffee klatch  a man and a woman. After a while, 
the two immortals ceased their   exercise and joined the group. The 
newest arrival  the man  apparently asked O'Byrne to spar with   him. 
Another immortal? No  they didn't use swords. O'Byrne was working with 
the man, showing him   some unarmed combat techniques.

Polovsky snorted a short laugh. Aside from Macleod, O'Byrne had 
surrounded himself with *mortals*.   What was he training them for? Of 
course! To hunt vampires. Obviously that was becoming a long term   
project for the immortal.

After a bit longer, the mortal soldier went inside and retrieved some 
weapons. Polovsky carefully   shifted to stay in the shadows as the sun 
climbed higher in the sky and watched the group below set   up targets.

The weapons were mostly pistols fitted with silencers. But there was 
one very large caliber sniper   system as well. Polovsky judged that it 
had to be a .50  it was much to large to be anything else.   The 
soldier was explaining something about the rifle to the man and woman 
who'd come out last. When   he finished that, he started in on the 
pistols. Polovsky wondered if O'Byrne seriously intended to   fire the 
monster weapon.

No, he decided. Just the suppressed pistols. Every one of them  even 
the cripple  turned out to be   at least a fair shot. O'Byrne and his 
pet soldier were awesome. But what the hell good were guns   against 
vampires? After considering the question for a while, he lit on the 
answer. O'Byrne had made   some kind of special ammunition! Clever 
bastard. Didn't care squat about tradition  O'Byrne would   examine 
the problem and figure out a solution that *worked*.

Meaning he was more dangerous than Polovsky had thought.

His tactics, his allies, O'Byrne's own abilities... Polovsky would need 
an edge or he'd need to run.   Luckily, there was an edge to be had. 
O'Byrne had a rather obvious weakness.

He had a woman.


 Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
1700, Thursday (Local)


Buffy walked into the Keep to be greeted by the smell of dinner. 
Sniffing the air, she decided dinner   smelled pretty good. She 
groaned. Buffy knew that she had to get these people out of her house 
or she   was gonna get mega chunky. Of coarse, it would taste good on 
the way. Mac appeared in front of her.

"Don't worry, sweetie," he said. "We'll run it off." Mac wrapped his 
arms around Buffy, lifted her up   and gave her a deep, lingering kiss.

"I was hoping we'd find some *other* way to burn the calories, Mac," 
she suggested playfully. Mac   smiled in reply. "Miss me?" Buffy asked.

Mac's smile grew wider as he kissed his lady again.

Dana walked in and caught the display of affection. "I'm kind of 
surprised you two have the energy to   fight vampires," she teased.

Buffy and Mac unlocked their lips and turned their heads to Scully. 
"It's an immortal thing," said   Buffy playfully. She patted Mac on the 
shoulder. "Put me down, Mackenzie. I need to go get clean."

Mac obliged and Buffy headed for the stairway. Pausing on the first 
step, she turned back to him.   "Well?" she asked. "Aren't you gonna 
come along and ask me about my day?"

Mac padded over to her, hoisted her up until she was cradled in his 
arms and carried the woman up the   stairs. Dana watched them go with a 
smile on her face.

"They are very much in love," came Jager's voice from behind her. 
Scully turned to find Fox and   Thomas looking at the stairs.

"I hope they're quick," wisecracked Mulder. "Dinner's almost ready."

Jager turned on the man with blood in his eyes. Scully darted forward 
and slapped Mulder's arm. "Be   nice, Fox," she ordered, hoping that 
would defuse the veteran.

It didn't. "Mulder, I will say this only once. You will treat the 
mistress of this house with proper   respect or I will kill you," Jager 
said in a slow, flat voice. "Do you understand?"

"He was teasing, Thomas," soothed Dana. Jager fixed Mulder with an icy 
glare for a long second, then   turned on his heel and left.

"Jesus!" commented Mulder. "What was that about?"

"Isn't it obvious, Fox? Thomas is in love with her," informed Dana.

Mulder pondered that for a moment. "Well, he's fond of her but-"

"No, Fox," sighed Dana. "In love. Not he-wants-her-for-himself love. 
More like the old-fashioned,   courtly type."

"You think?" asked her partner.

"I *think* that he meant what he said, Fox. Mackenzie O'Byrne might 
grin at a crack like that. Thomas   would kill you."


Buffy actually *did* tell Mac about her day  it just took a while to 
get around to it. First, they   had felt a mutual need to burn some of 
those calories that Buffy was always worried about.

It was almost six when they got back downstairs. In a way, they'd 
followed Mulder's advice  for the   two of them, that *had* been 
quick.

Under Jager's careful scrutiny, Mulder kept his mouth shut. The rest of 
them were just polite as the   late arrivals grabbed some food. The 
agents were gradually drawn into the circle of friends as the   
afternoon gave way to evening. At eight, Buffy decided to drag them all 
down to the Bronze.

She called her friends and pretty soon the whole group had decided to 
meet there at nine.


Mulder looked around at Buffy's extended family. Oz was playing with 
the band on stage ('Dingoes Ate   My Baby?' he mused, chuckling 
quietly). Willow was dishing with Buffy, who was leaned back against   
O'Byrne, cradled under one of his arms. Jager and Xander were 
discussing something about new tactics   the 'Slayerettes' were keen to 
try out. Duncan and Joe were sitting across from Dana and himself,   
quietly drinking coffee as the four of them and O'Byrne (apparently 
oblivious to Buffy and Willow's   discussion) listened to Giles report 
on something the Council had just sent him.

It was a comfortable group.

Deceptive, too. Mulder was keenly aware that between Buffy, Mac, Jager, 
Duncan, Dana and himself   there was enough firepower being carried to 
overthrow a small nation. Among the entire group there   was enough 
destructive experience to terrorize a fair-sized one.

Yet, to look at them from a distance, they were just a group of friends 
aged between twenty and maybe   thirty-five (discounting Dawson and 
Giles) enjoying an evening out on the town. Though he still had   
qualms about the kids  *young people*, he amended  being involved, it 
was obvious that the warriors   in the group valued them. Where it came 
to vampires and demons at any rate. Players in the 'Game'   were 
strictly the purview of the immortals.

Macleod and O'Byrne, specifically. Mulder wondered if Buffy minded the 
unspoken protectiveness. Given   her obvious disdain for the 'Game'  
she gone on at some length about the stupidity of it before    and the 
older immortals' plain submission to her in the demon department, 
Mulder thought it unlikely.   Interesting.

He was on the verge of a grin, thinking about the creative kind of 
suicide someone would be   committing by accosting them, when a couple 
of drunken idiots did just that.


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
The Bronze
2145, Thursday (Local)


"Hey, girlie, let's dance," demanded a young man as he dropped his hand 
on Willow's shoulder. The   young woman nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Uhm, thanks, but, no," answered Willow. "My boyfriend's in the band."

"Well," announced the first kid's friend, "If he complains, we'll deal 
with him. Hey, sweet thang,"   said punk number two to Buffy. "Let's 
dance."

Mulder looked around at the assembled group, wondering who was going to 
lead the charge. Curiously,   none of them moved. Xander tensed up, but 
Jager simply laid a hand on the young man's arm, quieting   Xander 
immediately.

Buffy smiled sweetly at her admirer. "Thanks, I can't," she demurred.

"What, you two bitches are too good for us?" demanded punk number one 
in a slurred voice.

"No, we're just both here with someone," answered Buffy. She squinted. 
"Don't I know you?"

"Yeah, bitch, we're in English 202 together," confirmed punk number 
one.

'Bitch' again. Twice in less than thirty seconds. Mulder decided the 
boy definitely had a death wish.

"That's not a nice thing to say to a lady," suggested Scully. Mulder 
thought Dana was on the verge of   shooting both of the kids dead on 
the spot.

"What 'lady', *bitch*?" emphasized punk number two. Number one began to 
chuckle.

Mulder shot a look at O'Byrne. Duncan started to get up, but stopped 
when Buffy waved him off.

"Oh, *you* got a problem, dude?" punk one asked him.

Duncan grinned. Dana noticed that the Scotsman's charm had been stashed 
away somewhere. Still, it was   probably better if Duncan dealt with 
the kids  Jager or Mac would probably kill them. Thinking of   which  
why were they sitting so calmly? Something didn't fit.

For his part, Mac was trying to decide what Buffy would let him get 
away with. One of her hands was   already squeezing his thigh in silent 
warning. Still, he had a limit, and she damn well knew it.

"Mark, right?" she asked number one. "Listen, Mark, you guys are drunk. 
Why don't you just leave?"

'Mark's' hand was still on Willow's shoulder. He looked Buffy straight 
in the eye and very   deliberately enunciated, "Fuck you!"

Mac limit was reached right then  just as Buffy released her grip on 
his thigh. Disengaging himself   from her, the immortal warrior stood 
up, reached out, grabbed Mark's throat and jerked him into the   air. 
With the inebriated young man's feet dangling a good two feet off the 
ground as he gasped for   breath, Mac started to speak.

"I don't like you. Leave. Right now. Or I will cripple you  right 
now."

One of the bouncers suddenly showed up. "There a problem here?" he 
demanded.

Mac turned to look at him. The bouncer stepped back. "No, no problem. 
Why?" asked Mac cheerfully. The   bouncers eyes darted over to Mark, 
who was turning purple as Mac strangled him. Mark's feet were   still 
well clear of the ground.

The bouncer summoned his courage. "I'm going to have to ask you to 
leave."

Mac's eye narrowed. 'Do you mean us?" he asked, still in his 'cheerful' 
voice. Buffy grimaced.

The bouncer's eyes scanned the assembled group before turning back to 
O'Byrne  who was still holding   the boy suspended in the air. "Ah, 
no. Definitely not you guys, no. *Them*," he said, indicating the   two 
drunks. Punk number two was backed up against the wall, eyes wide and 
abruptly sober.

"Oh," said Mac. "Okay." He released his grip on the boy, Mark, who 
immediately dropped to the floor.   Mac turned his gaze on the boy 
trying to become one with they wall. "Did I stutter?" he asked.

"No, sir," replied the suddenly respectful young man.

"Then why are you still here?"

"I think he is tired of living," suggested Jager.

Mark's friend grabbed the kid on the floor and started hustling away. 
Mac's eyes followed them all   the way out the door. When they were 
gone, he turned to the bouncer.

"Sorry for the trouble, sir," he apologized  still entirely cheerful. 
Too much so, in Buffy's   estimation. She reached over and tapped his 
hip. Mac looked down at her. When he looked back at the   bouncer his 
face was back in its usual bland mode. "Would you like us to leave?"

"No, that's okay  but no more trouble, okay?"

"No more trouble, Charlie," promised Willow.

The bouncer nodded and left. Mac sat back down. Buffy stared at him for 
a long second before finally   sighing and giving him a kiss.

"My hero," she teased.

"I'd have let you deal with him, but-" began Mac.

"But nothing," Buffy interrupted him. "Thomas, sit down!" Jager 
grimaced and sat back down. Mulder   had seen the man start to rise 
from his chair. Buffy had obviously made the same guess as Mulder   
concerning what the man intended.

"Where was I? Oh, yeah  'but nothing'," the young woman smiled at her 
fiancé. "You're my   hero. And we don't have to take anyone to 
the hospital this time, either." Buffy wrapped her arms   around Mac's 
neck and drew him into a deep kiss.

"Duncan?" asked Dana quietly. "Are all of you so strong?"

Mac heard her and looked up before Macleod could answer. "I don't know 
about the rest of these guys,   but *I* have the strength of ten 
because my heart is pure," he pontificated.

Duncan choked back a laugh as Buffy started giggling.

"Actually, Reaper, I think it's more like the strength of thirty," 
joked Jager. "Plus whatever they   accumulated."

Scully looked confused, but Mulder grasped the implication immediately.

"Quickenings. He's talking about Quickenings, Dana," he said softly.


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
2330, Thursday (Local)


Once back at the Keep, the six of them  Mac, Buffy, Mulder, Dana, 
Duncan and Joe  said goodnight   and slipped off to bed. Giles and 
Jager had separated from them when they left the Bronze, along with   
Xander, Oz and Willow.

Joe and Duncan were asleep in each of their rooms in short order.

Dana and Fox  now sharing a room  dressed for bed, but, perhaps 
surprisingly, didn't immediately   launch themselves at one another. 
There were things to discuss.

"Did you *see* the way he jerked that kid into the air?" asked Mulder. 
"And kept him hanging there   for  how long? A minute?"

"I saw, Fox. Did you pick up on why it took him so long to move?" she 
asked.

"It's the nineties, Dana. He didn't want to get in the way while Buffy 
asserted herself-"

"Oh, bull," she interrupted. "Trust me, Fox  that wasn't the reason."

"Then what was?" he asked, interested in her take.

"Remember what they told us about being mugged? They didn't really come 
out an *say* it, but I   guarantee that she ripped him a new one over 
that. The *second* those two popped up, Mac was   struggling to contain 
himself

"He didn't want to upset Buffy," she finished.

"You think she has that much influence on him?" queried her partner.

"Yes, I do. She's probably the only person that does. This isn't some 
mutual infatuation, Fox. Hell,   I think it's more than just the two of 
them being deeply in love," she theorized.

"Love taming the savage beast?"

"No. More than that. Something *deeper*..." Dana's voice trailed away 
as she lost herself in thought.   "Somehow, she's reached him in a way 
I don't think anyone has before. When she did that, she bought   him 
outright."

"Mutual, you think?"

"Very much so," Dana agreed. "I think those two have been through six 
kinds of hell  every bit of it   alone. Finding each other... God, 
Fox, can you *imagine* what one of them would do if something   
happened to the other?"

"I know what *I* want to do," he said suggestively. Dana smiled at the 
man and reached out for him.

'Why did we wait so long?' was her last thought before thinking was set 
aside.


In their bedroom, Buffy and Mac silently decided to forgo any 
discussion until *after*. When *after*   finally arrived, they were 
wrapped in each other's arms and tangled in the sheets. A light sheen 
of   perspiration was drying rapidly in the warm breeze coming from the 
window.

Buffy's head was pillowed on Mac's chest. He softly stroked her back, 
amazed at the vision in his   arms.

"Thank you," she murmured. 

"For what?" he asked.

Buffy smiled against his chest. "What do you think?" she asked 
playfully.

"Oh." He craned his neck to where he could plant a soft kiss on her 
forehead. "Thank *you*."

"All part of the service," she replied, eliciting a chuckle from him. 
Buffy turned in his arms and   propped her chin on his chest so she 
could look at his face. 'My god, he's beautiful,' she thought.

Buffy couldn't quite believe the prize she'd won.

"Where have you been all my life?" she teased.

"Looking for you?" he ventured.

Buffy snorted. "In Algeria? Viet Nam? Boy you really *did* search high 
and low, didn't ya?"

Mac chuckled again as he moved his hand up from her back to stroke her 
hair.

Buffy wrinkled her forehead. "How close to you come to killing those 
kids tonight?" she asked.

Mac's eyes grew cold for a moment as he considered her question. After 
a few seconds, he refocused on   the woman in his arms and the warmth 
returned. The look on his face had answered her question.

Buffy arched forward and kissed her man. "I love you, Mac."


Drawing her tight against him, he said, "I love you."

---------------------------------------------------------------------


Part 8

Scene 1
Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
0700, Friday (Local)

Scully slowly woke up. Mulder's arm was wrapped around her waist, the 
two of them spooned. Dana   decided after a moment's thought that the 
sensation was luxuriously comfortable. What the hell had   woken her 
up?

The trill of her cell phone answered that question. Cursing under her 
breath, she lunged for the   phone.

"Scully," she answered. Fox was awake, eyes drinking her in. Dana began 
to blush, realizing that the   man beside her was being treated to a 
view of her naked from the waste up.

"*Agent Scully, this Detective Palmer, LAPD,*" announced the voice on 
the phone.

"Yes, Detective. What have you got for me?" Dana asked as she tried to 
cover herself with the sheet.

"*Unfortunately, not much. We found a couple of partial prints that our 
killer missed during his wipe   down of the car, and we're having them 
analyzed. But, hell, they may turn out to belong to that poor   bastard 
in 'Frisco*," Palmer reported. Fox dragged the sheet from her hand. And 
kept dragging,   exposing more of her. Dana slapped at his hand.

"Damn it. No other leads?" she asked. Fox had grabbed her hand and 
started sucking and nibbling on   her fingers.

"*Afraid not. Have you got anything?*"

Fox moved his mouth to her breast, keeping her hand trapped. Dana 
struggled to keep her voice steady.

"Not yet. We-" Dana drew her breath in sharply as Fox nibbled on her. 
"We'll keep looking."

"*Right. Later.*" The L.A. detective hung up.

Dana thumbed off the phone and dropped it to the floor. With her now 
empty hand, she grasped Fox by   his hair and pulled him away from her.

"Fox..." she threatened.

He gazed up at her. "What?" he asked.

"It'll keep," she said, and moved his head back to her breaSt.

Buffy, Mac and Duncan finished their run and walked into the living 
room. They each stopped long   enough to grab a cup of coffee and 
headed out back to the training pit. Duncan led them through a   series 
of katas for a while, before pulling Buffy onto the grass for a little 
one-on-one unarmed   combat training.

Joe brought a thermos of coffee outside and shared it with Mac while 
they watched the Slayer spar   with the Highlander.

'Damn  we do all have cool names,' mused Mac, thinking back to 
Mitchell's comment. 'Maybe Mitchell   could've used one.'

Seeing the wry grin on Mac's face, Joe asked, "What?"

"Nothing, Joe," replied the immortal. "Just admiring my girl."

Buffy was certainly giving Macleod a run for his money, Dawson noted. 
Give the woman a few more years   of practice...

At eight-thirty, Buffy signaled a halt. "I've got to get to school, 
Duncan. Two classes on Fridays."

As she walked past her fiancé, she grinned and turned back to 
Macleod. "How 'bout giving my   honey a little exercise?" she called. 
"He's looking a little peaked."

Joe and Duncan laughed as Mac stood up and gave Buffy a playful swat on 
her rump. She giggled and   kissed him quickly before darting into the 
house.

As Mac walked over to him, Duncan observed, "That girl is going to be 
the end of you, Mac."

"Maybe," agreed O'Byrne. "But what a way to go."


As Buffy trotted up the stairs, Mulder was heading down. She told him 
the guys were all out back and   raced into her bedroom.

Mulder continued on down and outside. The two immortals were attacking 
one another with great gusto.   Joe handed him a cup of coffee as he 
sat down to observe the warriors at practice.

Mixing styles with each move, O'Byrne and Macleod danced a freewheeling 
ballet of death. Locking and   breaking holds, occasionally managing to 
toss their opponent to the ground, the immortals were   pulling no 
punches  Mulder heard the occasional snap of a breaking bone. After a 
little   consideration, he thought he understood why.

As warriors, they had to be able to fight on despite injury, despite 
pain. Knowing that they wouldn't   seriously hurt one another, the two 
warriors were literally trying to kill each other.

It went on for quite a while, too.

Buffy popped outside long enough to give Joe a quick hug and took off 
for school. Scully came out   with a cup of coffee and sat down to 
watch the show.

At one point, Macleod managed to dislocate O'Byrne's arm and break his 
elbow. Mulder would have   thought that would stop the fight  at least 
for a moment. Instead, O'Byrne managed some kind of   complicated twist 
that ended in a palm strike that hurled Macleod away from him. Grabbing 
his own   broken arm, O'Byrne wrenched the injured elbow back into 
alignment.

Macleod charged back into the fray, earning a kick into his face of 
sufficient force to somersault   him backward.

O'Byrne set his feet, gritted his teeth and somehow jerked his 
dislocated shoulder back into place,   just as Macleod swept his feet 
out from beneath him.

The match ended with Macleod stopping his own palm strike to O'Byrne's 
face just an inch short of his   nose. Dana knew that blow would have 
driven bone shards into Mac's brain. Apparently the immortals   knew it 
as well  despite appearing to be lost in the heat of combat, both men 
had known exactly how   far to push and when to stop.

Mac gazed up at Duncan. "Luck," he said.

"Maybe," allowed Duncan with a grin. "But you're still dead."

O'Byrne smiled and held up his hand. Macleod seized it and pulled his 
friend to his feet. The   warriors bowed to one another.

Approaching the coffee klatch, Mac observed, "I'm hungry. Let's eat."


 Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
Sunnydale Community College
1505, Friday (Local)


Finished for the day, Buffy was enroute back to her car when she felt 
the presence of another   immortal. She looked around, trying to spot 
Mac.

Instead, she saw a man leaning against her car, looking surprised.

No, not a *man*. Polovsky. Buffy recognized him from a photo Joe had 
produced for her and her   friends.  'Good god!' thought Polovsky. 
'O'Byrne's woman is an immortal. Well, well.'

Buffy started to pull out her phone but stopped when Polovsky opened 
his coat enough to reveal his   gun.

"No trouble, now, dear. No sense dying before giving your boyfriend a 
chance to rescue you, now is   there?"

Startling Polovsky to no end, Buffy leaped to her right, landing 
between a pair of cars. Pulling out   her phone as she scuttled for 
safety, she hit speed dial and started praying.

"Hello?" answered Mac after two rings.

"Mac! He's here!" she cried.

"Where are you?" demanded Reaper. '*Definitely* Reaper,' ran through 
Buffy's mind.

"School parking lot," she informed him.

"Can you get to the church on Grove?"

Buffy was already running, threading her way through cars as she went. 
As the silenced bullet   shattered her spine, she fell to the ground.

"Buffy? Buffy, are you there?" demanded Mac. Buffy tried to answer, but 
couldn't.

Polovsky was suddenly standing over her. The immortal pumped another 
three rounds into Buffy's   twitching body. Her last that before she 
died was of Mac.


"BUFFY!" screamed O'Byrne into the phone. Surrounding him, two federal 
agents, two Watchers and his   fellow immortal stood silent.

"*No need to shout 'Reaper',*" answered a voice on the phone in Mac's 
hand. "*Wouldn't do any good   anyway. I'm afraid your woman is dead. 
Well, for the moment anyway. I imagine she'll be back soon.*"

Reaper stood and listened as the voice taunted him. Inside, the rage 
was quelled as all emotion died.   Not one shred of humanity was left 
in the man. All was calm. Reaper was the center of a vast pool of   
nothingness. No emotion. No sentiment. No fear.

"Polovsky?" he asked in a flat, dead voice.

"*Why, yes. I have something you want, now. How about a trade?*"

"When and where?" that deathly calm voice asked again.

"*I'll be in touch.*" The line went dead.

Mulder watched O'Byrne calmly hang up the phone and walk out of the 
room. Everyone jumped up and   followed as he went upstairs. Once he 
reached his room, O'Byrne stripped and walked into the shower.

"Mac..." Duncan started. The older immortal's voice trailed away as 
O'Byrne stopped and turned   around.

"Hunter," he said calmly. "Get dressed. Give Duncan some clothes. We're 
going to work."

Finished with his instructions, O'Byrne took his shower.


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
1630, Friday (Local)


They were all gathered in O'Byrne's office, Jager hunched over the 
computer. Macleod, Hunter and   Reaper were dressed much alike. Loose 
clothes, long coats. The two legionnaires were armed for bear,   
equipped with pistols, shotguns, knives and stun and thermite grenades. 
The Highlander had a pistol   and his sword. In addition, Jager was 
armed with the .50 sniper rifle.

"Here's the play," instructed Reaper crisply and calmly. "Polovsky will 
feel another immortal coming,   so, Highlander, you're the reserve. If 
Polovsky takes me, you take him. If you're worried about the   Dark 
Quickening, shoot him, bind him, encase him in cement and drop him in 
the middle of the ocean.   But *stop* him.

"If I win, determine if *I'm* suffering from the Dark Quickening. Do 
what you need to do. Hunter,"   continued O'Byrne. "Priority one is to 
retrieve the Slayer. That mission is yours. Utilize whatever   means 
are necessary. My safety is not a concern. Clear?"

Jager nodded. Watchers were forbidden to interfere in any fight between 
immortals  but Reaper was a   brother of the Legion. The Slayer was in 
danger. And Polovsky was in bad need of being killed. 'Fuck   the 
Watchers,' he decided.

"The rest of you can not help with this. End of story," Reaper stated 
flatly.

"Any questions?" Reaper looked around at his allies.

"How do you find her?" asked Mulder.

"Buffy's phone has a locator chip in it," answered Jager. "It's the 
latest thing  intended to   dissuade cell phone thefts."

Mulder remembered the Lone Gunmen telling him about that. They were 
convinced it was so the   government could track its citizens.

"A gimmick, but just now a useful one," put in O'Byrne. He turned to 
Jager. "Have they stopped moving   yet?"

Jager studied the monitor for several seconds. "Yes. I have their 
location."

O'Byrne exchanged the battery on his own cell phone, then picked up the 
phone on his desk and punched   in a series of numbers. Setting the 
phone back in it's cradle, he looked up.

"If he calls, it will forward to my cell. Stay off the line," he 
instructed Dawson and the two   agents. He turned to Jager. "Hunter, 
radios."

Jager stood and passed a radio to Macleod. Then he pointed to Dawson, 
asking, "Remember how to hook   up the rig?"

The Watcher nodded.

"Don't call us," instructed Reaper. "I'll check back to make sure their 
location hasn't changed   before we strike the target. Scully, can you 
operate the locator program?"

"It is set to track automatically," Jager informed her.

Scully look at the window on the computer screen, studied it for a 
moment, then looked up and nodded.   "Yes."

Reaper looked around. "No matter what, Polovsky dies tonight," he said 
in that same eerily flat, dead   voice.

Then he turned on his heel and walked out of the room. Jager and 
Macleod were right behind him.


"What do you think, Joe?" Dana asked once the immortals had driven 
away.

"I think I've read his file," answered the Watcher. "Believe me, it 
doesn't do him justice."

"What do you mean?" asked Mulder.

"Well... What do you know about him?" Dawson temporized.

"We know about his military background," Dana ventured. "Buffy told me 
a little about him."

"Did she mention he was a POW in 'Nam?"

"What?!"

Mulder looked as shocked as Scully sounded. Every story about every 
'crazy vet' returning from the   war danced through his head.

"Yeah," continued Dawson. "For about a month at the end of the Tet 
Offensive. Then he escaped. Took   him another month to make it back to 
US forces. There are reports that he stalked and killed more   than a 
hundred NVA and VC troops on his way back. When he got back, his C.O. 
put him in for a   Distinguished Service Cross.

"Some pencil pusher had it downgraded to a Silver Star  his first of 
several. Didn't matter to 'The   Reaper', though. Only time he ever 
wore his awards was when ordered to."

The two federal agents stared at Dawson as he continued to share what 
he knew about the men out   hunting for their comrade  and beyond 
being the love of O'Byrne's life, their comrade she surely   was.

"Before and since, O'Byrne's been fighting one war or another.

"Thomas spent ten years in the Legion. Been everywhere from Beirut to 
Baghdad. And he's spent most of   the nineties dogging after Mac. He's 
had to kill over a dozen men just to stay alive as he followed   his 
assignment. And Mac never even knew he was there  which, when you 
think about it, is pretty   slick in itself.

"Macleod... Well, Duncan's fought in one war after another himself. 
Back in World War II, he was part   of the French resistance, worked 
for the British SOE and was part of the plot to kill Hitler in '44.

"What do I think?" finished Joe. "I think Polovsky is going to die 
tonight. God alone have mercy on   the bastard if Buffy's dead  
because then *Reaper* won't settle for his head."


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
1002 Johnston Ave.
2030, Friday (Local)


Hunter was in his element. The veteran slipped from shadow to shadow as 
he circumnavigated the   condemned building. He'd been here before, 
hunting vampires, so he was familiar with the layout. That   did 
nothing to mute the caution he exercised during his stalk. At one point 
or another he froze,   almost preternaturally aware of everything 
around him.

As the late spring sun had sunk low over the horizon, he'd moved into 
position. Taking well over an   hour, he was finally sliding into the 
roost he'd selected for himself high up in the warehouse. It   was one 
of several points where he'd thought he might have a good shot at his 
target.

Sure enough  there the bastard was, sitting on a crate and examining 
Buffy. Hunter examined the   immortal through the scope on his rifle. 
Tempted to scan Buffy, to check her for signs of life, he   disciplined 
himself to concentrate on the target. He couldn't help noticing she 
still had her head    given that much, the woman would heal.

He sighted in on Polovsky. Once he confirmed that it *was* him sitting 
there, Hunter focused the   cross hairs on the center of his target's 
mass and began his breathing rhythm. Even if the target was   wearing 
body armor, it wouldn't matter. The round would eviscerate the target 
on impact.

Set and centered, Hunter began to squeeze the trigger.


Completely unaware that he was centered in the sights of the sniper 
overhead, Polovsky focused on the   girl. She was gorgeous, truly a 
remarkable catch. The fear in her eyes as she stared at him from   
where she lay bound and gagged on the floor was delicious. Once he'd 
dealt with O'Byrne, it would be   pleasant to-

No. He was going to have to simply kill her and be gone. With luck, 
O'Byrne would come alone. The   Rules of their Game demanded all combat 
be one-on-one.

Of course, *Reaper* might not follow those rules... But Macleod would. 
And Polovsky was reasonably   sure that he could take either of the 
immortals  after all, he had the girl for leverage. He   considered 
that for bit as he fondled the girl's phone.

When should he call?

He decided to let O'Byrne hang for a bit longer  the stress would eat 
at the man. Meantime, Polovsky   figured he should get some rest. He 
stretched and began to rise just as a tremendous explosion   sounded. 
He was punched in the gut and hurled across the floor by an absolutely 
stunning impact.


"*Scheisse*!" hissed Hunter. The bastard had moved just as Hunter let 
the round loose. What was it   Deblout had said?  The bastard had 
luck? Damn straight.

He kept the rifle sighted on Polovsky as he carefully picked up his 
radio. Reaper was waiting for his   call.

"*Reaper, Hunter. Go*!" he hissed in French. He knew that his Brother 
was charging in at that moment.   Still he kept his scope centered on 
Polovsky.

Who twitched.

Polovsky felt the approach of another immortal. That bastard! O'Byrne 
had broken the Rules  not just   with the gun, but by using a *mortal* 
to shoot him! And Polovsky knew *exactly* who that mortal had   to be  
the soldier he'd observed the day before. Sheer luck he'd moved when he 
had. Undoubtedly that   shot was intended to hollow out his chest, 
making him an easy kill.

But how in hell had O'Byrne found him? Of course! That damned girl must 
be wearing a locator of some   kind. That god damned O'Byrne had staked 
his woman out as a Judas Goat!

Polovsky felt compelled to admire his opponent's ruthlessness.

As the healing began, Polovsky slowly closed his hand around his gun.


Reaper was moving the second Hunter's call came in, Macleod close on 
his heels. In moments, they were   inside the warehouse. In less than a 
minute they were standing over Polovsky.

Seeing his partners arrive and move to the target, Hunter quickly 
swarmed down a series of ladders to   the ground floor. He raced 
straight to Buffy, heaved her up over his shoulder and started out of 
the   building.

Behind him, the immortals waited for the target to revive.

"Not fair, Reaper," wheezed Polovsky. "You used a mortal."

"Stand up when you're ready, Polovsky," instructed Reaper in that flat 
voice. "Take your time. I've   got the rest of your life."

-----------------------------------------

Part 9


Scene 1

Sunnydale, Ca.
1002 Johnston Ave.
2045, Friday (Local)


Once outside the warehouse, Hunter set down his burden. Taking out a 
knife, he carefully cut the gag   from Buffy's mouth.

"Are you all right, Buffy?" he asked.

"Mac?" she demanded.

"Inside. Dealing with Polovsky," he informed her as he set to work on 
her bindings.

Buffy started shaking her head. "But, the Dark Quickening-"

Jager understood her concerns all too well. "The Highlander has a 
pistol. If it turns Reaper, Macleod   will kill him. Then we'll figure 
out how to cure him."

The last of the rope was cut away. The Watcher helped Buffy to her 
feet. She started massaging the   feeling back into her arms as Jager 
kept a hand on her shoulder to steady the young woman.

"Who knows what's happened?" Buffy asked as she worked to get the kinks 
out.

"Just Scully, Mulder, Dawson, and Macleod. There was no time and no 
point in telling anyone else," he   answered. "We had to scramble to 
rescue you."

Buffy cringed.

"Don't take it badly, Buffy. Those two men in there have needed 
rescuing a time or two themselves,"   he tried to reassure her.

It was exactly the wrong thing to say. It snapped the Slayer out of her 
shock and let her focus on   the single most important thing in the 
world at that moment in time. Her man was in that building   playing 
Russian Roulette, spinning the cylinder on a pistol with three bullets 
in it  Polovsky and   his sword, the risk of the Dark Quickening...

And the gun Polovsky had killed her with.

Buffy started to race back inside just as the shots rang out.


"Stand up when you're ready, Polovsky," instructed Reaper in that flat 
voice. "Take your time. I've   got the rest of your life."

The wounded immortal groaned. The pain radiating from the wound the .50 
sniper rifle had inflicted on   him was excruciating. Still, Polovsky 
managed to quietly reach for the pistol in his coat pocket.

"Two on one, Reaper?" he demanded. "The Rules truly mean nothing to 
you, do they?" he accused.

"That's rich, coming from you, Polovsky," Macleod derided him.

"Don't worry, Polovsky. I know the Rules," answered Reaper. Polovsky 
began to notice O'Byrne's voice.   It had a dead quality to it that was 
truly frightening to behold. Thanks in part to the power of Mac   
Cuhil's Quickening, Polovsky was already healed.

But he continued to huddle on the ground, waiting for his opportunity.

"We'll have a fair fight," continued the Reaper. "Then you'll die."

Polovsky rolled over. The pistol in his hand fired.

Not even Mackenzie O'Byrne was faster than a speeding bullet. He *was* 
fast enough  barely  to turn   slightly, causing the bullets intended 
for his heart to catch him in the side. The impact of the   three 
rounds punched him hard, hurling him down to the ground and across the 
floor, his sword   skittering away.

Quick as a snake, Polovsky turned and emptied the rest of the clip into 
Macleod, who had whipped his   sword up and was striking down at him in 
a powerful overhead stroke. The Highlander staggered back,   sword 
flying from his grasp. The immortal hit the floor, dead on impact.

Polovsky rolled to his feet and pulled out his sword. Seeing O'Byrne 
struggling back up and reaching   for his own blade, Polovsky turned 
and fled.

He reached the door just as O'Byrne's woman ran in. Barely noticing the 
'buzz' that had signaled her   approach, Buffy sensing all three of the 
men inside, neither had time to prepare. The two immortals   slammed 
into one another. Polovsky's superior mass carried them back outside.

Behind them, O'Byrne staggered to his feet and took off in pursuit. He 
reached the door to find   Polovsky struggling with Hunter, who'd 
smashed the stock of his rifle against the ribs of the   powerful 
immortal.

Polovsky swiped at the Watcher with his sword, slicing the man open 
from his groin to his neck. As   Hunter collapsed to the ground, 
Polovsky whirled on Buffy. She kicked him in the face and retreated   
toward a small clump of trees some idiot designer had decided would be 
enough greenery to make up for   the ugliness of the warehouse. 
Polovsky charged, raising his sword to take her head.

Reaper dropped his sword and grabbed his shotgun. He brought the bead 
up fast. Maybe the immortal had   never drawn so fast in his entire 
sixty years of life. On pure instinct, he sighted and fired.   Earlier 
 owing to Polovsky's damnable, uncanny luck  Hunter had essentially 
missed his target.

Reaper didn't.

Buffy heard the roar of a shotgun and felt a splash of blood as 
Polovsky's chest exploded over her.   The explosive slugs Reaper had 
loaded the shotgun with hollowed out the immortal. Bits of his heart,   
lungs, liver and intestines washed over Buffy as Polovsky's blood and 
viscera sprayed through the   air.

Polovsky was hurtled forward in pursuit of his missing parts by the 
blast. His sword fell to the   ground as the immortal collapsed at 
Buffy's feet.

Reaper picked up his sword and raced to his fallen enemy. He jerked his 
pistol from its holster and   handed to Buffy. "See to Hunter," he 
ordered.

Buffy started toward the injured Watcher, but saw Reaper raise his 
sword to finish off Polovsky.

"Mac!" she cried out. "The Rules-"

"Fuck the Rules," Reaper cut her off. He brought his sword down and 
took Polovsky's head.


 Scene 2

Sunnydale, Ca.
1002 Johnston Ave.

2100, Friday (Local)


The mist from Polovsky's ruined corpse writhed out and settled over 
Reaper. The lightning began to   dance. A stray shot of it hit Buffy 
and hurled the Slayer back ten feet through the air. She thudded   onto 
the ground near Jager.

Knowing there was nothing she could do for her man, Buffy wrenched her 
eyes off the spectacle and   focused on Jager. The Watcher was hurt 
badly, but she thought he'd make it if they could get him to a   
hospital in time. She ripped off her shirt and pressed it to the deep 
slice in his chest. The Watcher   was oblivious.

All of Thomas Jager's attention was focused on his friend. Reaper was 
suffering through the most   powerful Quickening the Watcher had ever 
witnessed.

Thick, powerful bolts of lightening shot out in all directions, 
crawling over every nearby surface.   The trees were set on fire. One, 
then two of them exploded. The windows high overhead shattered and   
rained glass over everything. Buffy huddled over the Watcher to protect 
him from the flying debris.   Glass sliced open her back. She couldn't 
cry out, because the air was sucked from her lungs.

The air was so thick with static electricity that Buffy's air stood out 
in a halo around her head as   sparks jumped back and forth between her 
and Thomas.

Behind her, Mac was screaming in tongues. The pain in his voice tore at 
her heart.

'Please, god, oh please don't let it turn him,' Buffy prayed.

Rather than diminish, the Quickening continued to mount in force, as 
the combined power of the   Quickenings of the tens of immortals 
Polovsky had slain tore into and through O'Byrne. Finally a   sonic 
boom rent the air.

And all was silence.

Buffy turned to look at the man she loved. He was strewn on the ground 
like so much garbage. She   wanted to go to him, tried to, but Jager 
grasped her arm.

"Wait," croaked the Watcher. "Ready your pistol."

It was two long minutes before the body stirred. Buffy could hear 
sirens in the distance as the   immortal climbed to his feet.

"Mac..." Buffy called softly. Was he still Mac? Or had the Quickening 
been dark? Had it turned him   into another Polovsky?

Had she just lost him just as she'd once lost Angel?

The immortal stumbled. He started to reach out to his sword, then 
stopped. His head whipped around   and focused on Buffy. He stared at 
her for a long moment, then strode toward her with increasing   
strength. Buffy clenched the pistol tight in her hand. 

Mac collapsed on his knees beside her and looked into her eyes.

"Mac?" she asked.

He gave her a weak grin. "Still me, honey," he answered. Buffy wondered 
how she could be sure. Mac's   hands reached past her and gently probed 
Jager's wound. "Can you walk, Hunter? We need to get gone."

Jager gave him a weak grin. "I'll manage."

"Get Buffy to the truck, Brother," Mac instructed. He leaned over a few 
inches and kissed Buffy   tenderly. "Get out of here, sweetie. Take 
Hunter back to the Keep."

"The Keep? Not a hospital?" she asked.

"Dana's an MD, remember? Better than a hospital. No waiting."

"What about you?"

"Duncan's down. I need to get him out of here." Mac stood, dragging 
Jager to his feet. "Get going,"   he ordered.

Following Thomas' directions, Buffy helped him stagger away.

Mac walked over to Polovsky's corpse. He looked down at the ruined 
monster for a moment, allowing   himself one precious second of 
satisfaction.

"It's done, Finn," he told the memory of his friend and teacher. Then 
he bent over and retrieved the   swords. Leaving the body behind, he 
turned and started to walk away. Having a thought, he turned back   and 
quickly searched through the dead immortals pockets. He found 
Polovsky's wallet and Buffy's   phone. Setting a couple of his stun 
grenades inside what was left of Polovsky's chest, he grabbed the   
head and set it in the cavity before carefully balanced a thermite 
grenade on top and pulling the   pin.

As he walked away, the thermite activated, setting off the stun 
grenades, blowing what was left was   left of the immortal to pieces 
and incinerating the bits. Let some cop figure *that* one out!

Inside the warehouse, he picked up Duncan's Katana and Buffy's sword 
from where Polovsky had tossed   it before the other immortals' 
arrival. Finally, he heaved the temporarily dead immortal over his   
shoulder. Then he walked out into the night and put space between him 
and the mess he'd left behind.

He walked close to a mile before he felt life beginning to return to 
his friend. Sitting the   awakening immortal down he groaned with 
relief.

"Well *that* took long enough. You know, you're one heavy bastard, 
Duncan."

Macleods eyes fluttered open as he gasped, sucking in his first breath 
in almost an hour. He eyed Mac   suspiciously. "What happened?" he 
demanded.

"You died."

"No kidding?" replied Duncan sarcastically. "*Then* what happened?"

"I executed Polovsky. After I blew his chest apart with an explosive 
shell." Mac grimaced. "Please   don't give me any crap about it. The 
bastard had taken out Hunter and was trying for Buffy's head."

Macleod's eyes grew wide. "Is Thomas..."

"Christ, I hope so. I told Buffy to take him to Dana  she's an MD. I 
needed to cover up the mess I   made of Polovsky and drag your heavy 
ass out of there. Sirens were closing in as you and I departed,"   
reported Mac.

Duncan felt for his sword.

"Looking for this?" asked Mac, holding up Duncan's Katana. "Don't get 
in a huff, Duncan," he scolded   as he watched the Highlander's eyes 
narrow with suspicion. "I didn't want it poking me as I carried   you. 
And I *really* didn't want you deciding I'd gone over to the dark side 
and trying to kill me.   Here," finished, handing over the sword.

"Can we go home now? What I mean is, are you done with your beauty 
sleep? I'm tired, I'm hungry and   I'm worn out from carrying you all 
over the place," Mac complained with a grin.

Duncan rolled his eyes.


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
2330, Friday (Local)


Buffy had gotten Thomas back to the Keep. Dana had immediately gone to 
work on the wounded Watcher.   Using medical supplies that Mac kept on 
hand, she cleaned, stitched and dressed his wounds. Loading   him up on 
Tylenol with codeine, Dana finally had Buffy and Mulder help her carry 
him to the couch.   Dana really wanted him in a bed, but the wounded 
Watcher had no intention of moving until his friends   returned.

Buffy had grabbed Dana and dragged her upstairs to the bathroom. It 
took some convincing, but she   finally got Dana to agree to take the 
bullets out of her. Dana had agreed only because she believed   Buffy 
when the young woman said she carve them out herself if Dana wouldn't 
help her.

"I don't want to be setting off metal detectors everywhere I go, Dana," 
explained Buffy. One painful   hour later, the young woman was free of 
Polovsky's bullets. The experience left Dana shaken. Buffy   had had to 
guide her as the doctor searched the fragments out without benefit of 
any x-ray to guide   her effort.

Buffy and she had showered and dressed before coming back downstairs, 
both of them pale. Buffy was   curing that by drinking lots of fluids 
as her body worked overtime to rapidly replace the blood she'd   loSt.
Dana had a stiff drink. Then she had another.

The five of them sat and waited for their friends to come back. Dana 
kept a close eye on Thomas,   watching for complications. The Watcher 
had finally drifted off to sleep.

Right around eleven-thirty, Buffy leaped to her feet and raced to the 
door. She flung it open and ran   outside.

Chasing after the young woman, Dawson and the two agents stopped when 
they got to the door. Buffy had   her arms and legs wrapped around Mac 
and was kissing him passionately. Duncan looked at them a   moment, 
then slipped by the lovers and trudged up the stairs to be warmly 
welcomed back.


 Scene 4

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
0130, Saturday (Local)


Buffy snuggled in Mac's lap, half asleep. He held her tightly, his face 
resting on her head. Duncan   and Joe sat in the other two chairs, 
while Dana leaned back into Mulder on the love seat, their feet   
resting on the coffee table. Jager was drifting in and out of sleep on 
the couch.

Buffy had explained how Polovsky had shot her down, right in the 
parking lot, and how the immortal   had taunted her with what he 
planned to do to her  *with* her  after he killed Mac. Mac, Duncan 
and   Thomas had filled in the pieces of the story surrounding her 
rescue.

Dawson quietly wondered how much of this should find its way into the 
Watcher journals. If the truth   about Jager's role came out, *Thomas* 
would be on trial for his life, just as Dawson had once been    and 
Joe had no doubts whatsoever how O'Byrne would respond to *that*. No, 
this story was going to   stay secret for a long, long time. It had to.

Mulder and Scully had been wondering how to explain this officially. 
The families of Polovsky's   victims deserved to know that the murderer 
was dead. That'd keep for now. Maybe when they weren't all   so 
tired...

At one-thirty in the morning, Mac asked Dana whether or not they should 
move Jager. Deciding it was   better if the injured man was actually in 
a bed, she'd said yes.

Mac patted Buffy's hip and had her get up. As Mac and Duncan carefully 
moved the Watcher  under   Dana's critical supervision  the rest of 
them began stumbling off to bed.


Buffy took Mac gently by the hand and led him to the bathroom. First 
she turned on the shower, then   stripped off his clothes. She took off 
her own and guided the other immortal into the shower. After   the two 
of them were clean, they dried off and Buffy led her man to bed.

When Buffy slipped on a T-shirt, Mac understood that she intended for 
them to sleep. Barely able to   keep his own eyes open, he didn't 
really mind.

She crawled into bed with him, slipped into his arms and lay her head 
down on his chest. Mac draped   his left arm over her back while his 
right hand stroked Buffy's face. Mac realized she was already   asleep.

In another moment, so was he.


Dana still had the shakes as she described what she'd done for Buffy. 
Mulder sat, listening quietly.

When she finished, Mulder shook his head. "Well, she had a point, 
Dana."

"Fox, I had no x-ray, no anesthetic, no proper instruments  I used a 
knife and a pair of needle-nose   pliers!" she expounded.

"She's all right, though, right?"

"That's not the *point*, Fox."

"They're really something, aren't they?" Mulder asked, hoping to 
discuss some less gruesome aspect of   their hosts. "From what Buffy 
and Jager said, Polovsky's Quickening made the fireworks the other   
night look like a sparkler."

Dana nodded her head. "Can you imagine what it must have been like for 
her, Fox? Having to sit   through that with a gun in her hand, waiting 
to see if Mac was still *Mac*?" she asked, looking pale.   "Waiting to 
see if he'd try to kill *her*?"

"He took a big risk," agreed Mulder. "Of course. He didn't really have 
much choice."

"He could have gone along with Buffy's suggestion. It was exactly what 
he recommended to Duncan."

"I mean that *Mackenzie O'Byrne* didn't have much choice, Dana," Mulder 
elaborated.

"You mean, you think he's that driven by hate? Blood lust?"

"I think he's a warrior from the old school," he explained. "I don't 
think letting an enemy live is   ever really an option for him."

The two partners looked at each other. Something between them silently 
went 'click'.

In a moment, clothes were flying.

------------------------------------------

Part 10


Scene 1

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St
1000, Saturday (Local)


Buffy woke up feeling Mac gently stroke her back. She tightened the arm 
she had draped across his   stomach. The two of them had slept almost 
nine straight hours without moving at all.

After a while, Mac noticed she'd awaken. He slipped out of her arms and 
padded quietly into the   bathroom. In a moment, Buffy heard the sound 
of the garden tub being filled. She gazed at her   fiancé as he 
reappeared at the sink to brush his teeth and wash his face. Then Mac 
turned and   walked back to her.

Pulling the young woman up, he slipped her T-shirt over her head. Mac 
bent down and slipped off   Buffy's panties. Then he stood and picked 
her up. Cradling his lover in his arms, Mac carried her to   the bath. 
He stepped into the tub and sat them down. Positioning Buffy between 
his legs with her back   to him, the man reached around her and cut off 
the water.

Sitting in the large tub of bubbles, Mac picked up a bar of soap and 
began washing his woman.   Finishing that, he reached out and picked up 
a bottle of shampoo and proceeded to wash Buffy's hair.

Through it all, neither of them said a thing. Her chest nearly bursting 
with warmth, Buffy just   enjoyed the attentions of her lover. Once 
he'd rinsed her hair with a pitcher of warm water, Buffy   climbed out 
of the tub. Quickly brushing her teeth, she grabbed Mac's shaving gear 
and moved back to   the bath.

Sitting on the edge, she draped her legs over Mac's shoulders an leaned 
his head back against her   belly beneath her breasts. Buffy lathered 
her man's face and carefully shaved him. Finished, she   wiped the left 
over shaving cream from his face with a wash cloth.

Finally, Buffy bent down and kissed him.

The woman stood up, turned around and settled her self in Mac's lap. He 
leaned forward so she could   wrap he legs around him.

Still, the lovers remained silent.

As they began to make love, Buffy decided that this was something they 
had to do again. It was, hands   down, the single most erotic thing she 
had ever experienced.


Dana woke up and checked on Thomas as Mulder made use of the shower in 
the hall bathroom. The Watcher   had been lucky  Polovsky's blade 
should have eviscerated him. Instead, it had only sliced him open   to 
his ribs and the lair of subcutaneous fat. While he needed to take it 
easy for a few weeks, he   could move around.

Making Mulder help the injured man downstairs, she made use of the 
shower herself before joining the   slowly assembling group on the main 
floor.

Joe and Duncan were up. Duncan had already made reservations for the 
two men to fly back to Seattle   that afternoon. When Dana asked him 
why, he'd explained that Buffy and Mac had had a rough week and   
needed some time to themselves. Dana had to agree that the immortal had 
a point.

Joe called Giles and told him he ought to put in appearance. Duncan 
fixed breakfast. He was serving   it when Buffy's Watcher arrived. 
Alarmed at Jager's condition and outraged that he hadn't been called   
when Buffy was kidnapped, the group worked to settle him down.

"There was no *time*, Rupert," asserted Jager. "The minute we got the 
call, Reaper had us all   scrambling. Besides, what could you do? Wait 
and worry?"

Giles was hardly mollified. "Where is she now?" he demanded.

"Where's who, Giles?" asked Buffy as she slid quietly into the kitchen.

Giles was instantly on his feet and embracing the young woman. "Are you 
all right, Buffy?" he   demanded worriedly.

She grinned at him. "Of course I'm all right, Giles. Sir Gallahad and 
the knights of the wickedly   round table charged in to save the day."

"King *Arthur*," Giles automatically corrected, causing Buffy's smile 
to widen. Realizing that that   had been her intention  distracting 
him  Giles sighed.

"So Polovsky is dead, then?" he asked.

"*Way* dead," confirmed Buffy. "Mac made a mess of him."

"A mess?" Giles asked.

 Buffy grimaced. Jager jumped in. "The Slayer's mate rendered him into 
many unidentifiable pieces."

The 'Slayers mate' reference caused Giles to venture a small smile. 
Stupid of him, really, to expect   Mackenzie to care about anything 
that didn't contribute to Buffy's rescue, he knew.

Mac was fetching cups of coffee for Buffy and himself while this was 
going on.

"Any thoughts on how to get away with reporting Polovsky's demise?" he 
asked Mulder and Scully. "The   families of his victims deserve to now 
that their loved ones have been avenged, I think."

Dana smiled at the immortal. 'Of course,' she decided. 'Buffy's safe. 
He can afford to be human now.'

"I thought we'd wait to see how the Sunnydale PD treated it," offered 
Mulder. "Assuming they're   creative enough, Dana and I can come up 
with some way to connect their explanation to the Bay Area   killer."

Mac nodded thoughtfully. Mulder was one devious bastard, he decided. 
Imagine using the creative   incompetence of the local constabulary to 
finish this up!

"Sounds good," the immortal agreed. He turned to his friends from 
Seattle. "Well guys, you gonna   stick around a while? You're more than 
welcome."

Duncan and Joe both shook their heads.

"We'll fly back today. You two deserve a little quality time alone," 
observed Duncan.

"We'll be back for the wedding, though," added Joe. Duncan nodded his 
agreement. "When is it going to   be?"

Mac looked at Buffy.

"June," she answered. "I always wanted to be a June bride."

Joe smiled. "Then I guess we'll be seeing you guys in a couple of 
months," he replied.

"Is that enough time to plan, Buffy?" asked Dana. "Weddings are a lot 
of work, you know."

"Well, I don't want to wait until next year," answered Buffy. "Besides, 
with Mom helping it'll be   long enough."

"A big wedding?" Duncan asked.

Buffy smiled. "Yeah. But simple," she added hastily, seeing the look on 
Mac's face. "*Way* simple."

Their friends all laughed.


 Scene 2

L.A., Ca.
Los Angeles International Airport
1530, Saturday (Local) 

With Mulder and Dana off coordinating between the LAPD and Sunnydale's 
police department, and Thomas   resting at the Keep under Giles' 
supervision, Buffy and Mac took Duncan and Joe to the airport.

The friends all warmly embraced one another as they said their 
farewells. Eliciting a final promise   from the young couple concerning 
invitations to the wedding, the Seattleites boarded their plane.   
Buffy leaned against Mac, the two of them arm in arm, as their friends 
departed.

Once the plane lifted off, the affianced couple started back to their 
car, Buffy chatting busily   about all the things they needed to do to 
be ready in time for June.

"June's okay with you isn't it sweetie?" she interrupted herself to 
ask.

"*Tomorrow's* okay with me, Buffy," Mac assured her. "Where do you want 
to go on our honeymoon?"

"Somewhere where there's no one but us," she informed him.

"Okay," he agreed. "Sounds good."

"But with room service," she amended.

Mac looked at the beautiful young woman on his arm and smiled. 
"Somewhere where there's no one but   us, but with room service," he 
echoed. "Okay, I'll see what I can do."


Mulder and Scully were at that moment in conference with the Sunnydale 
PD Chief, one of his   detectives, Sunnydale's Mayor and two Los 
Angeles detectives.

"What makes you so sure that this guy was our killer?" one of the LAPD 
detectives demanded of Mulder.   "There isn't enough of him left in one 
piece to fill a doggie bag, much less identify!"

"The corpse had the knife we think was used on the Bay Area women," 
pointed out Mulder. "And the keys   to the car stolen from L.A. earlier 
this week."

"That car was parked a block away. Prints in it and on the keys will, 
we think, match the partials   pulled from the car stolen in San 
Francisco," added Scully.

"If, will, we think," echoed the Detective Palmer disgustedly. "Even if 
all that turns out to be   true, how do we know that pizza boy is the 
guy in question? There's still the little matter of   finding enough of 
him to ID."

"And who in hell did that number on him?" the other L.A. detective 
wanted to know. "And where is   *he*?"

"Gang-bangers," inserted the Chief. "We have a big drug and gang 
problem down here."

The two L.A. detectives and the two federal agents shot him a 
disbelieving look.

"I suppose that's possible..." allowed Mulder. 'Idiot,' he thought.

The Mayor silently echoed that sentiment. Attention from outside they 
didn't need. Well, at least the   two feds hadn't said anything about 
vampires.

"Check the prints, guys. Then we'll see where we are," advised Mulder.

"But-" began Palmer.

"Given the brutality of 'pizza boy's' execution, one might wonder if 
*someone* decided to go after a   cop-killer," speculated Scully.

That suggestion brought the men from L.A. up short.

"Are you suggesting a *cop* did this?" Palmer demanded coldly.

"What we're *suggesting*, Detective," said Mulder, " is that we have a 
strong suspicion that 'pizza   boy' is our serial killer."

The visiting detectives shared a look. The feds' meaning was clear. 
They had some kind of personal   knowledge that the corpse *was* the 
killer, that a *cop* had killed him and they were willing to let   it 
go.

Not a typical fed attitude. Those bastards usually jumped at the chance 
to fry a local.

Damn. Chalk one up for the good guys.

"All right," said Palmer as he nodded slowly. "We'll look into it."

With that the two detectives stood up and left. On the ride back home 
the men would be seriously   rehashing their opinion about the FBI. 
Maybe they *weren't* all back-stabbing shits.

Back in the Chief's office, the Feds and the locals were engaged in a 
staring contest. The Chief   broke firSt.
"So, that's it then," he said.

"Not quite," disagreed Mulder. "I don't know what the two of you are up 
to here, but let me give you   a little friendly advice," he warned. 
"We've got friends here. Including, as of about five minutes   ago, the 
LAPD."

"Don't give us a reason to concentrate our attention here, gentlemen," 
threatened Scully. "If we come   back, it'll be with a task force 
comprising the DEA, FBI and IRS. And we'll stay here a long, long   
time. Clear?"

The Chief turned pale, confirming the agents suspicion that the man was 
as dirty as a cop could get.   The Mayor just gave them a bland smile. 
"We understand, Agents. If that's all, then please let me bid   you 
good day."

Scully and Mulder stood and left. Once in the car, the two of them 
traded observations about the men   they'd left behind.

"Did you see what I saw in the Mayor's eyes, Dana?" queried Mulder.

"Yes. That bastard really isn't afraid of us at all. I wonder why?"

"Well, *I'm* wondering if we should have Mac talk to him," Mulder 
suggested, grinning at the thought.

"Is there some reason you want the Mayor dead, Fox?"


 Scene 3

Sunnydale, Ca.
150 Creek St.
1930, Saturday (Local)


The five of them  Buffy, Mac, Thomas, Dana and Mulder  sat in the 
living room digesting dinner. The   two couples were snuggling and 
talking quietly as Jager began drifting off to sleep.

Dana had decided the Watcher could go home the following day, and the 
two agents would fly home   themselves.

"So, are you guys gonna make it to the wedding?" asked Buffy.

The invitation touched Dana deeply. She was a little amazed at how fond 
she'd become of the young   woman in so short a time. And Mac seemed to 
approve of them in turn  though that approval was   obviously 
tentative.

"Absolutely, we'll come," Dana answered for both herself and Fox.

Mulder canted his eyes at her. Damn, but Scully had gotten possessive 
quick. Which was a *good*   thing, if unexpected. His only real 
question concerned how to make this work. Their enemies would be   
dancing in the streets if they learned about his and Dana's change in 
status  the Bureau frowned on   partners getting involved. It wasn't 
outright *prohibited*, but...

Whatever. They'd work it out.

Besides, Mulder had an ally of his own now. He hoped.

"Mac?" he asked.

"Yeah, Mulder," replied the immortal.

"The Consortium..." Mulder's voice trailed away as Buffy gave him a 
venomous look.

Mac squeezed his fiancé's hip and answered. "Send me the intel. 
I've got some friends who're   going to be particularly interested in 
this. I'll come to D.C. and visit in a few weeks... I want to   meet 
this 'Cancerman' of yours."

Buffy didn't look exactly thrilled by Mac's promise. Small wonder  she 
and Mac seemed to be   constantly dealing with some crisis or other. 
'Course, they probably always would be.

"Few weeks?" echoed Mulder.

"Yeah. Buffy and I want a little quiet time before we go charging into 
something new." Hearing that,   Buffy sighed and nuzzled his neck. "And 
I need a little time to get hold of a couple old friends,"   Mac added.

"Mac, Buffy, if you don't mind, I'd like to hear about this whole 
Slayer/Watcher/Immortal thing,"   asked Dana. "Where'd it start? I 
mean, Giles and Joe gave us the party line, but what's your take?"

So Buffy and Mac settled in and shared a few war stories.


 Scene 4
Washington, D.C.
J. Edgar Hoover Building
1100, Monday (Local)


A.D. Skinner closed the report and looked at his two agents.

"I don't see anything here about vampires," he noted with relief. 
Dawson's warning had worried him.

"The vampires are being dealt with, sir," replied Mulder.

"Come again?" asked Skinner, shocked. He wasn't sure what surprised him 
more  Mulder's bland reply   or Scully nodding her head.

The two partners had decided that Skinner could be trusted with this 
part. He'd seen enough over the   years as he supervised the two of 
them to know there were a lot of strange things out there. Buffy   and 
Mac hadn't been so sure, but had finally been willing to go along with 
the recommendation.

Of course, Mac was coming to Washington anyway. If he decided Skinner 
was a problem, he'd cease being   a problem. Cease *being*, for that 
matter. Mulder thought Skinner could be of some help, though, and   
decided it was worth the risk to the A.D.'s life  not to mention his 
own  if he turned out to be   wrong.

"I said the vampires are being dealt with. They've been here a long 
time, but they're...being kept   under control," answered Mulder.

"Agent Scully, don't tell me *you* believe this," pleaded Skinner.

"Not every threat comes from people like Cancerman, sir," she replied. 
"I saw one. A vampire."

Skinner's head turned back and forth between the two agents. "And these 
'vampires' are being dealt   with?" he asked.

Mulder nodded. Seeing that he wasn't going to get anything else out of 
his two agents, Skinner picked   up the report.

"What about the serial killer? How can you be sure that the remains 
will turn out to be the right   man?" he asked.

"We believe, based on the condition of the remains, that someone with a 
personal vendetta against him   tried to render the corpse 
unidentifiable, sir," answered Scully. "That person  also as yet   
unidentified  failed in some aspects. The keys, the car, the knife-"

"Or staged it," Skinner interrupted. "Maybe the serial killer staged it 
himself in order to cover his   tracks."

"That possibility is discussed in our report, sir," answered Scully. 
"Based on the connections   between the evidence on hand, and the fact 
that they tie all the way back to San Francisco, we find   that to be 
unlikely."

Skinner considered that for a moment and nodded. "All right. So who 
killed the serial killer?"

"We may never know," Mulder answered.


 Scene 5

Sunnydale, Ca.
The Bronze
1930, Monday (Local)


Buffy and Willow sat at their table and quietly talked about the 
preceding week's events. Willow's   eyes got bigger and bigger as Buffy 
related her kidnapping and rescue.

"Oh my god!" gasped Willow. "I'd have died from the scare, Buffy. How'd 
you deal with it?"

"Mostly I just prayed Mac would find me, which he did, of course."

Willow nodded. "Of course."

"I tell you, when Thomas shot him I almost had a heart attack!" Buffy 
continued. "And then..."

As Buffy related the story to her best friend, she noticed Mark and his 
friend across the room. The   two guys were staring at her and Willow. 
Consequently, they completely missed seeing Mac slide up   behind them.

The immortal laid a hand on the shoulder of each man and whispered 
something to them. If Buffy had   blinked at the wrong moment, she 
would have missed the boys' departure. She smiled as Mac walked up   to 
their table with coffee for the three of them.

Buffy stood up to allow Mac to sit down. Then she sat in his lap. As 
one of his arms wrapped around   her she turned and gave him a look.

"What?" her fiancé asked innocently.

Buffy smiled and gave him a quick kiss before turning back to Willow. 
"So anyway, she said. "I'm   thinking June..."


-----------------------------------------

Epilogue

Six weeks later
Alexandria, Va.
1440-C Holmes Ave.
2315, Thursday (Local)


The man who had proven to be the bane of Scully and Mulder's lives over 
the last seven years walked   into his small, cheaply furnished 
apartment. It had been another long day. Sometimes he wished he had   
no knowledge of what was really happening in the world, no part to 
play.

The hand that darted out, closed on his shoulder and jerked him up into 
the air was unexpected to say   the least. In moments, the man was 
gagged, bound to a chair and looking at two very disturbing   
individuals. Each was dressed in dark clothes, their faces covered by 
black ski masks. The powerful   manipulator had just about decided he 
was being robbed when one of his attackers squatted down in   front of 
him and began to speak.

"I don't know you, you don't know me," said the flat, dead voice. "But 
you have something I want.   I'll stop the pain when you succeed in 
guessing what that is."

The man Mulder had dubbed 'Cancerman' focused his eyes on a syringe 
that the attacker was about to   inject him with. As the needle entered 
his arm, an intense burning sensation began to speed through   his body 
from the point of entry. In moments the pain was almost unbearable.

Waiting for the cocktail of drugs to take effect, his interrogators sat 
patiently. 

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