Immortal Dilemma
Richard Ruth, 1997

Legalistic Disclaimer
As usual, this is the deal:  The concept and characters of Highlander (Duncan 
MacLeod, Richie Ryan, and Joe Dawson) belong to Davis and Panzer Productions 
and Rysher.  Meanwhile, over in Sunnydale, the concept and characters of Buffy 
the Vampire Slayer (Buffy, Angel, Xander, Willow, Giles, and Darla) belong to 
Joss Whedon, Warner Brothers, and Mutant Enemy.  They'll be returned to their 
respective owners with no stapling, spindling, or mutilating (well, not too 
much anyway).  Also, thanks go to my guinea pigs, excuse me, beta readers, 
Mary Ellen Jedrlinic and Claudia Diamond.

One last thing before we get this show on the road, please do not re-post this 
story without first gaining the author's permission (a.k.a. me).  Violation of 
this rule (second only to not killing on holy ground) may result in either 
decapitation or staking-depending on my mood that day.

Author's Note
This story is set during the fifth season of Highlander and during the second 
season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  In other words, the insanity of 
Highlander's fifth season finale Archangel, when Richie has an unfortunate 
"accident," is completely disavowed in my corner of the galaxy (located 
slightly to the left of Proxima Centauri-hang a turn at Babylon Five and go 
four light years-you can't miss it).  When necessary, I've also taken the 
liberty of filling in some of those annoying gaps in character backgrounds.  
Remember, all (positive) comments are welcome; all other (negative) comments 
will be rationalized, criticized, and ignored.  If you have as much free time 
on your hands as I do, please direct E-mail to:  Enjoy.

Immortal Dilemma

The young man pulled his motorcycle up in front of the large red brick 
apartment building.  His female companion threw her leg over the back of the 
bike, stepped off, and removed her helmet.

"Sure you don't want me to come up?  I still haven't seen your new place.  I 
promise I won't bite...unless you want me to."

"Sorry Richie.  My apartment is a real mess.  I'm still fixing it up and I 
don't want you to get the wrong first impression.  When it's finished, you'll 
be the first to see it."

Swiveling further around on his seat, the young man placed his arms around the 
woman's waist and pulled her close to him.

"You've talking to someone who lives in a dive slightly smaller than a 
shoebox above a Chinese take-out place.  Believe me.  It doesn't take much to 
impress me."

Looking into his eyes, Christina paused a few moments before answering, "I 
really can't tonight, Richie.  I have some early classes tomorrow.  As it is, 
I'm only going to have a few hours sleep."

Early in their relationship, she had warned him that completing her degree and 
going on to grad school was a priority.  Well, with graduation only months 
away and the GREs looming, Richie had to respect her decision.  Christina had 
worked hard for everything she'd accomplished.  After all, not everyone could 
complete a bachelors degree in four years, let alone two.  Just because a 
higher education was never a major factor in Richie's life, or even a minor 
one for that matter, didn't mean that he couldn't appreciate its significance 
to her.

"Christina, I swear you spend more hours with those books than with 
people...including me.  You know what they say about all work and no play?"

Running her hands up the back of his leather jacket and through his short 
blond hair, she coyly responded, "No, young man, why don't you tell me."

Richie only responded by tightening his embrace and kissing her deeply.

"I've really got to go.  See you Friday night?"

"Sure," Richie responded, "how about 9 o'clock?"

"That would be great.  There's a place across town called The Bronze that we 
can go.  It has some pretty cool music and there's a friend I'd like you to 

Pulling her close for a final kiss, Richie responded, "Sounds like a date."

Reluctantly breaking away, Christina quickly climbed the stairs leading to the 
building's lobby and disappeared from view.

Richie continued to sit outside the building for the next couple of minutes 
recalling the past four months with Christina.  He hadn't told anyone about 
her yet, not even his friend and mentor, Duncan MacLeod.  But as the days 
passed, the more he thought that she might be the one to which he would reveal 
his true nature...and eventually ask to marry him.

If his guess was correct, Duncan would not welcome this news.  In fact, this 
was the main reason he had not yet introduced the young woman to the elder 
Immortal.  Duncan-being Duncan and thereby thinking he knew it all-would 
simply group her with the many women that Richie had been briefly involved 
over the past several years.  Deep down, however, the young man knew this was 

Had Richie Ryan looked up, he might have noticed a lone figure staring down 
upon the scene from the edge of a nearby rooftop.  To this individual, the 
events of the past few minutes were neither romantic nor heart-warming.  
Nothing but hatred and the incessant pursuit of power mattered to this mind, 
which had long since lost its grip on reality.

As Richie pulled away on his bike to begin the 20-minute trip up the 
interstate to Seacouver, Christina was happily dialing the telephone number of 
a high school friend who she also happened to be tutoring on weekends.

"Hi, Willow.  It's Christina.  Ready for this Saturday's wild and wacky 
adventures in advanced COBOL programming?  You are?  Did I ever mention that 
you really should get out more often?  Only kidding, but you really should ask 
that-what's his name, Xanadu?  OK...Xander-guy out.  Take the initiative or 
you'll never rope him.  I know it's hard, but give it a try.  I have to go hit 
the books now, but I was just checking if you're up for Friday's Bronze bash.  
Great.  Oh, I'll also be bringing a very special friend that I want you to 
meet.  See you there."

With that, Christina hung up the phone and ended what would be the last phone 
call of her 19-year life.


The following afternoon, Richie entered MacLeod's dojo.  Passing quickly by 
the men working out in the large training room, he headed directly to the 
glass enclosed office at the far end of the gym.  As he warmed up the laptop 
computer on the desk to do some bookkeeping, he heard the building's freight 
elevator start down on its short but noisy trip from MacLeod's loft above.  
Simultaneously, he also felt a tingling sensation impress itself upon his 
consciousness, signaling the presence of another Immortal.  Moments later, he 
heard the wooden elevator door slam upwards on its track and Duncan came into 

"Hi, Richie.  Thought you would've come in earlier today.  Late night?"

"As a matter of fact, yes."

"What's her name?"

As MacLeod closed the office door, Richie swung his feet off the desktop and 
walked towards the window overlooking the nearby railroad yard.  Staring out, 
he had his back to the other Immortal who was now leaning on a file cabinet.

Audibly taking a deep breath before answering, he said, "Her name is 
Christina and I think I'm in love with her."

Looking directly at the younger man, MacLeod remained silent a moment before 
responding, "And I thought this might be a quiet day for a change."

Richie didn't appreciate what he interpreted as a snide crack.  Spinning 
around to face MacLeod, he quickly countered, "That sounds funny coming from 
someone with more conquests than Julius Caesar."

MacLeod's face momentarily darkened.  However, after a few moments of silence, 
he sat down and motioned for Richie to do the same.

"OK.  Sorry.  I'm listening."

Richie then began, logically enough, at the beginning, "We've been seeing 
each other close to four months now.  She's a student who is very serious 
about her studies.  And, best of all, we really enjoy each other's company.  
When we're together, the rest of the world seems to disappear.  You know what 
I mean, Mac?"

In many ways, MacLeod was more comfortable facing down a sword-wielding psycho 
than in having these types of discussions.  After a few moments, he responded, 
"Yes, Rich, I do.  Very much so.  But as I've said before, Immortals can't 
make these kinds of decisions lightly.  As you've found out on more than one 
occasion, asking a mortal to enter our world can be a matter of life or 
death...literally.  You've got to be absolutely sure.  Are you?"

Silently, Richie rose and headed back towards the window.  After a long pause, 
he reluctantly answered.

"No.  Not yet, anyhow."

Standing and moving up behind the young man, MacLeod placed his hand on 
Richie's shoulder.  "Well, when you are, there won't be any doubts in your 

At this point their conversation was interrupted by a ringing telephone.  
Richie waited until MacLeod ended the call from an athletic equipment supplier 
before stating, "Mac, I'd like you to meet Christina this weekend.  She knows 
that I have no family and that you're my best friend."

Without hesitation, MacLeod answered, "Sure, Richie.  I'd be happy to meet 

"Thanks, Mac.  It means a lot to me."


The following evening, Richie was running usual.  Gunning his 
motorcycle along the Crosstown Expressway, he was trying to remember if he'd 
forgotten anything.  He had made dinner reservations in a nice little Italian 
restaurant, to be followed by dancing at the club Christina had mentioned.  
Personally, he would have preferred listening to the blues at Joe Dawson's 
place, but he was easy.  Turning onto Christina's street, Richie's smile 
quickly faded as the scene before him unfolded.

Several police cruisers as well as additional unmarked police cars lined the 
street.  A police line had been set up across the sidewalk in front of 
Christina's apartment building.  On the third floor, shadows could be seen 
moving across the windows, backlit by high intensity floodlights within.  
Bringing his motorcycle to an abrupt stop, Richie dropped the machine on its 
side, forgetting to set the kickstand.  He ran towards a cop on the sidewalk.

"What happened?  What's wrong?"

"Sir, there's been an incident.  Who do you know in the building?"

"My girlfriend.  Her name is Christina O'Leary."

Moving towards the entrance to the building, the officer indicated that Richie 
should stay with his partner and that he would return momentarily.  After 
answering a few more questions by the first cop's partner and receiving no 
responses to his questions in return, Richie was rapidly losing what remained 
of his patience.

Exasperated and distracted, he didn't immediately notice the plainclothes 
detective exit the building and proceed in his direction.

"Mr. Ryan?  I'm Detective Michael Mendell with the Metropolitan Police 
Department.  I'm sorry to have to inform you that Ms. O'Leary has been the 
victim of a crime."

"Where is she?  Is she OK?  Is she in the hospital?'

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ryan, but she's dead."

The words struck Richie like a sledgehammer.  Staggering backward, his leg 
brushed against a fire hydrant and he fell backwards into the gutter.  Mendell 
quickly motioned to one of the officers to help him get the dazed young man 
back onto his feet.  They slowly eased him into one of the nearby cruisers and 
asked him if he wanted some coffee.

After waiting a few minutes for Richie to compose himself, Mendell asked a few 
more questions.  Seemingly satisfied with the answers, he indicated that he 
would be heading back to the precinct.  Stating that it wouldn't be a good 
idea for Richie to drive a motorcycle in his current state of mind, he offered 
to take him home and impound the motorcycle until it could be picked up.  
Reluctantly, Richie agreed.

Except to give directions, Richie didn't speak to Mendell in the car.  They 
rode silently along in the detective's black Ford Crown Victoria.

"Do you live here alone, Mr. Ryan?" Mendell asked as they entered the 
darkened dojo.

"I only work here.  A friend lives here.  He was supposed to meet Christina 
tomorrow.  I really need to talk to him."

Sensing Richie, MacLeod started down in the elevator from upstairs.  Raising 
the elevator door, he quickly focused on the tall figure standing next to his 
student and immediately became cautious.  Especially since this one had cop 
written all over him.

"Kind of late for guests, Richie.  Is there a problem?"

Before Ryan could respond, Mendell slipped his badge and ID from his coat 
pocket and identified himself as a homicide detective.

MacLeod quickly shifted his gaze to Richie.  For the first time he noticed the 
redness and swelling around the younger man's eyes.  Crying?  Previously, he 
had only seen Richie cry on one other occasion, and that was Tessa's funeral.  
What the hell happened tonight?

"Sorry to bother you, sir.  But your friend asked me to bring him here.  I'm 
afraid there's been a murder."

"Murder?  Who?"

Barely raising his voice above a whisper, Richie answered, "Christina...someone 
killed her in her apartment."

The young Immortal then sat down on one of the nearby wooden benches and 
placed his head in his heads.

"Oh God, Richie, I'm so sorry."

Looking down at the slumped figure, MacLeod was at a loss for words.  Having 
himself lost the love of his long life not so many years earlier to a random 
and senseless act of violence, he knew the flood of emotions that Richie was 

"Mr. MacLeod, can I speak to you for a moment?"

Indicating his office, MacLeod and Mendell entered the glass enclosed room.  
Offering the detective a cup of coffee, which was politely refused, MacLeod 
started pacing across the room.  Meanwhile, Mendell quickly surveyed his 
surroundings, taking note of the two curved swords mounted on one of the 

"Detective, what happened?  Do you have any idea who might have done this?"

"No.  So far, we have no hard leads.  But, our investigation is just 
beginning.  Although she was new in the building, according to her neighbors 
Ms. O'Leary was friendly, quiet, and very rarely had guests in her apartment.  
It's just too early to develop a definitive profile of the killer."

Sitting on the edge of his desk, MacLeod needed to ask the next question.

"What was the cause of death?"

Mendell paused before responding, "Mr. MacLeod, I can't divulge any specifics 
about the case.  All I can tell you is that the crime was brutal, sudden, and 
that death was caused by massive blood loss."

The detective then waited a few seconds before he posed his first question to 
MacLeod.  He knew how it would be interpreted, but it had to be asked.

"Mr. MacLeod what can you tell me about Mr. Ryan out there?"

Fully expecting the question, MacLeod responded without missing a beat.  
"Well, detective, I can tell you that he didn't murder his girlfriend.  And, 
since I don't expect you to take my word on anything, I trust you'll be 
checking into Richie's background.  So, let me save you some time.  Richie was 
an orphan who bounced from one troubled foster family to another.  As a 
result, he had frequent scrapes with the law and was arrested several times 
for burglary and theft."

Upon hearing this, Mendell stopped taking notes and looked up from his pad.

"What would you say, Mr. MacLeod, if I told you that Ms. O'Leary's apartment 
showed signs of a burglary?"

"I would say, detective, that she was the victim of a vicious individual who 
places no value on human life.  And, that individual is not sitting in the 
next room."

With that, Detective Mendell flipped his notebook closed and thanked MacLeod 
for his time.  Upon exiting the office and passing Richie, he quickly 
expressed his condolences and left the dojo.

As was often the case, the two Immortals were left grieving the loss of a 
loved one alone.


Over the weekend, news of Christina's death spread like wildfire across 
Sunnydale.  Although the small suburb of Seacouver seemed to have more than 
its fair share of unusual deaths, the brutal murder of an intelligent young 
girl still made headlines.

Sequestered in her small bedroom, Willow Rosenberg was devastated.  Refusing 
to answer her phone or come downstairs to see her friends from school, she 
simply couldn't stop thinking about her friend Christina.  Not only had she 
connected with the older girl intellectually, but she also admired her 
independence.  On some level, deep down, Willow had a special respect for 
independent women who were successful despite the men, or lack thereof, in 
their lives.

However, as Saturday passed into Sunday, something changed.  Willow's grief 
was rapidly evolving into anger.  She needed to know who killed her friend and 
why.  Answering the phone when it rang, she realized that she had the ability 
to bring those responsible for Christina's death to justice...either here on 
Earth or in the great beyond.

"Hi, Xander.  I'm OK.  Thanks for calling.  Yes, I know I have to eat.  My 
mom mentioned you came by yesterday.  Sorry I didn't feel like talking then."

After a few minutes, Willow asked Xander Harris to meet her that night at 
Sunnydale High School.  They would use a copy of Rupert Giles' passkey to get 
into the school library to use the computer terminal's Internet connection.  
What they didn't expect was the librarian to be roaming around the stacks on a 
Sunday night.  He was.

"Hey, my man Giles.  What, some overdue books needed to be catalogued before 
the moon changes phase or something?"

As usual, the librarian/slayer trainer/watcher was engrossed in researching a 
volume of supernatural phenomena; his mind focused on the distant past, not 
the mundane present.

"What was that, Xander?  Oh no, nothing like that.  How silly.  There have 
been some reports of recent demonic activity at a racetrack near Paris and I 
thought I would research any similar occurrences.  What brings the two of you 
here so late?"

By this time, Willow had started warming up the PC and was accessing the 
county coroner's database.  It was safe to assume that this was one of the few 
computers in town (or anywhere else for that matter) where the coroner's 
office was set as a favorite website.

"Giles, did you hear about the girl that was killed in her apartment the 
other night?" Xander asked.

"Of course.  Horrible.  The police said it was a robbery or some such thing.  
You Americans have such a penchant for senseless violence."

With a wry grin, Xander replied, "You mean, as compared to ten centuries of 
deliberate, calculated British violence?"

Seeing Giles' annoyed expression, he quickly continued, "Well, Giles, Willow 
was a good friend of the girl and she wants to know who killed her."

"Oh God!"  Willow was frantically pointing at the monitor.  She had quickly 
hacked her way into the autopsy files and called up Christina O'Leary's file, 
No. 23346A-97.  Along with the usual cold medical abstractions describing a 
young life snuffed out in its prime, there was this passage "...death resulted 
from blood loss caused by massive neck and torso injuries caused by a large 
bladed instrument."

"Look at these pictures!  She was gutted like an animal in her own 

By this time Giles had come around the table and was standing behind Willow.  
Removing his glasses, he said to Xander, "This was the work of a very 
deranged individual.  I think we should call Buffy."

Within an hour, a young girl entered the library.  To a casual observer, the 
girl, wearing a large leather jacket, knee-high boots, a baggy man's shirt, 
and a large silver cross around her neck, seemed like a typical high school 
fashion victim.  Correction.  A very attractive high school fashion victim.  
Looking up from the terminal, Willow was visibly relieved that Buffy Summers 
had arrived on the scene.

"Sorry about your friend, Willow.  I wish I had known her."

"So do I.  The two of you would have really liked each other.  Did Xander 
tell you what I found?"

Fingering her cross, Buffy responded, "Scumbag crossed the line.  Scumbag's 
gonna die.  Did I miss anything?"

"Buffy, try not to be so flip about this.  We have no hard evidence that this 
was anything more than a robbery gone horribly wrong.  If we're dealing with a 
simple, but admittedly brutal, crime we have no right to be judge, jury, and 

Giles was clearly not amused (he is British, after all).  He then asked Willow 
if the police had any leads.

While quickly spinning a world globe on top of the checkout desk, Xander 
quipped, "The cops around here couldn't find a clue if Vanna was selling them 
for $250 each."

"Unfortunately, he's right...for a change," Giles remarked.  Holding a 
printout from Willow's unauthorized voyage through the Sunnydale PD's case 
files, he added, "They only have one suspect at the moment...a Richard Ryan who 
lives in Seacouver.  They also list an address."  Pausing as he read further 
down the page, he then added with a note of consternation, "Oh...oh seems 
that our young Mr. Ryan was arrested on at least two separate occasions with 
stolen swords in his possession."

"So, our boy likes to play with sharp objects, does he?" Buffy remarked.  
Slipping a wooden stake into her boot, she said to Xander, "I think you 
should check out this Ryan guy tomorrow.  I'd do it myself, but my mom has me 
baby-sitting my cousin who's visiting for a few days."

Xander was puzzled.  "How am I supposed to do that?  Take a bus up to 
Seacouver and then walk home-I don't drive, remember?"

Buffy smiled.  "Oh, I think I can arrange transportation with a friend."

What remained of Xander's grin disappeared completely.


The following evening Richie left his apartment to get a drink (or two, or 
three) at Joe Dawson's bar.  After a weekend of sheer hell, topped off by 
Christina's funeral that morning, he was determined to get smashed.  In all 
likelihood, Joe would have to pour him into a cab for his return trip home.

On a normal night, the young Immortal would have noticed the two people 
sitting on the black Harley-Davidson parked down the street.  After all, 
Richie could appreciate a nice bike when he saw one.  But not tonight.  
Instead, he simply climbed aboard his own red Yamaha and sped off, oblivious 
to all around him.

"OK, Angel.  Tell me again why I'm hanging on to the back of your motorcycle, 
freezing my ass off?" Xander inquired.

"Because Buffy and Willow want us to tail that guy.  To follow someone on a 
motorcycle, you get yourself a bigger motorcycle.  And I just happen to own 
one.  Hang we go."  Gunning the engine, they were in pursuit.

"Where the hell is he going?  This looks like your kind of place, Angel.  
Empty warehouses, railroad tracks, abandoned piers."

Not normally a big conversationalist with Angel, it was helping Xander's mind 
considerably at the moment to be engaged with something other than his 
possible death from a blunt force impact with another vehicle or an immovable 
object such as a telephone pole or a tree.

"Hey, Angel?"


"Of the three of us, why am I the only one wearing a helmet?"

"Well, Xander, I can't speak for the guy up the road there, but what's the 
worst thing that can happen?  I dump the bike, get up, dust myself off, check 
for any missing limbs, and walk away.  No big deal."

"Uh, Angel?"


"What about me?"

"Don't ask.  That's why you're wearing a helmet."

Upon hearing this, Xander hung on a bit tighter.

A couple of minutes later, Richie Ryan pulled up outside Joe's place and went 
inside.  A minute or so later, Angel and Xander also entered the bar.

"I never thought I'd say this, but The Bronze isn't looking too bad to me 
right now," Xander remarked.  What he hadn't noticed was that Angel had 
barely progressed past the doorway when his hand shot up to his temple.  
Across the room Richie, seated at the bar, had a similar reaction-causing the 
color to drain from his face as he pitched forward towards the polished wooden 

"Richie, what's wrong?"  A look of concern was now obvious on Dawson's face 
as he asked, "Is there someone here?"

"I don't know.  It feels different this time.  Stronger.  More intense."

Near the door, Xander now had his hands full.  Angel was in such intense pain 
that it had caused his concentration to momentarily slip, revealing his 
vampiric face.  Fortunately, however, the jazz club's dim lighting concealed 
his true nature from the other patrons until Xander could usher him to a 
corner table.

"What the hell was that?  You decided it was time to come out of Bela 
Lugosi's closet?"

Angel was in no mood for Xander's sense of humor.  "Please just shut up for a 
minute, Xander...I feel like someone just shoved a stake into my ear."

"You mean you sensed him?  How can that be?  Is he a vampire?"

"Xander, I don't know what just happened.  But, I'm not really up to playing 
20 questions here."

" do you feel?"

"A little better-now-but I'd hate to see the other guy."

Across the room, Dawson was looking at the 'other guy,' who was also slowly 

"Joe, did you see anyone just come into the bar?"

"Only those two guys over there.  Why?"

Looking up to face the older man, Richie replied, "Because I think at least 
one of them may be causing my Tylenol moment here.  That's why."

"Immortals?  I don't recognize either one of them."

Richie paused to glance at the two strangers sitting across the smoky room.  
He then decided to remind Joe that the Watcher database had some rather large 
gaps when it came to the identification of new Immortals.

"Do me a favor, Joe.  Go over and feel out those two for me.  Ask a few 
innocent questions like if they want a drink, if they're new in town, and-if 
they're talkative-if they're going to try to kill the handsome young redhead 
at the bar.  Just try not to be too obvious about it."

Joe rocked back and forth on his cane a couple of times before remarking, 
"Oh, is that all?  Why don't I just pull out my gun, shoot them a few times, 
and see if they stay dead?"

With a grin spreading across his face, Richie responded, "Well, if it 
wouldn't be too much trouble..."

Muttering something under his breath about distinctly recalling some Watcher 
rules about not interfering, Dawson began his slow shuffle across the room 
towards the darkened corner table.

"Here comes the old man that Ryan was talking to," stated Angel.  "I think 
he's made us.  Stay quiet and let me do the talking."

"Sure thing.  You won't even know I'm here.  I'll just pull an invisible man 
routine and..."

"Xander.  Shut up.  Now!"

Arriving at the table a couple of seconds later, Dawson began by saying, 
"Welcome to Joe's.  Can I get you gents anything?"

However, before Angel could respond, Xander ordered a round of Jell-O shots 
and beer chasers.  The resulting glare from the vampire could have cracked 

"Whoa, friend.  Aren't you two a bit young for the hard stuff?"

Smiling, Angel responded, "Some people are older than they look, friend."

With an equally large grin, Joe replied, "Isn't that the truth.  But I'll 
still need to see some ID."

At this point Xander started mumbling something about forgetting his driver's 
license and feebly patted his jacket pockets.  Angel, however, simply assumed 
a very calm demeanor, looked straight into Dawson's eyes, and stated, "Bring 
us the drinks my friend ordered."

The fact that the set of eyes Joe was staring into were now blood-red tinged 
with gold was not lost on Xander who observed the interchange.  The teenager, 
awestruck, simply remarked, "Now if only I could do that at parties..."

Before Joe consciously realized what was happening, he was moving back towards 
the bar to fetch the drinks.  Once he was back behind the bar, Richie leaned 
over and whispered, "So.  Who are they?"

"Must bring them shots and beer," Joe mindlessly stated.

"Shots and beer?  Joe, what the hell are you talking about?"

Richie was puzzled.  After all, nosing into everyone else's business was Joe 
Dawson's specialty.  Coming back empty-handed from an information gathering 
mission was unheard of.

"Joe, who are..."

However, before Richie could finish the question the older man was moving back 
towards the strangers.

"That's it.  I'm outta here," Richie stated to no one in particular.

Noticing Ryan's movement towards the exit, Angel rose from the table, turned 
to Xander and said, "Pay the man and meet me outside.  We've got to go."

Xander was not a happy camper.  He got proofed, got busted, got served, and 
got stuck with the tab.  All before he could down a drop.

"This sucks big time!" he muttered.

Exiting the bar in time to see Richie's taillight disappearing into the 
swirling Seacouver fog, Xander had to quickly jump back onto the curb to avoid 
getting hit by Angel's Harley as it screeched to a halt.

"That really stunk!  You know that, right?"

Angel merely replied, "Stop complaining and get on.  We're gonna lose him."

Barely waiting for Xander's butt to hit the seat, they sped off into the 


About a mile down the road, Richie looked back and saw the two men tailing 
him.  This was not good.  He was outnumbered two to one.  Not good odds in any 
fight...mortal or Immortal.  Realizing he had to balance the scales, he 
increased his speed and headed towards the home of the great equalizer.  He 
just hoped MacLeod was in.

As he hung on to Angel's midsection for dear life, Xander shouted over the 
roar of the engine, "Where's he going...and why so fast?  The police report 
said he lives on the other side of town."

"He's made us!  If I was him, knowing I was being followed, I'd go 
underground right about now."

Xander asked, "Are you speaking from experience?"

Angel's reply was too low to be heard over the noise of the motorcycle, 
"Unfortunately, yes."

Rounding a corner into a long, dark, dead-end alley that was bordered by a red 
brick building on one side and a chain link fence separating it from a rail 
yard on the other, Angel and Xander stopped abruptly.  Sitting in front of 
them, idling, was Richie's motorcycle.  Riderless.

"I don't like this," Xander remarked nervously, "it feels like..."

"A trap," Angel finished.

Sauntering out from behind a dumpster at the entrance to the alley, Richie 
casually asked, "Hey, shitheads.  Are you looking for me?"

Xander was already overwrought.  Now he also felt cornered.  Angel, on the 
other hand, merely looked amused.

"Hey, I think he's talking to you, Xander."

"Angel, this isn't funny.  I think he's holding something behind his back.  
It's probably a gun and he's gonna shoot us!  I say again, this really sucks!  
I'm too young to die!"

At this point, Angel was tempted to take the opportunity to slap Xander across 
the face.  Instead, he simply stated, "I'll handle this."

As Richie started to close the distance between himself and the two intruders, 
he announced, "I'm Richard Ryan.  Who the hell are you?"

Slowly, the vampire dismounted his bike.  Turning to face the approaching 
Immortal, he replied, "I'm the Angel of Death.  Nice place you have here."

Xander snidely added, "And I'm scared shitless.  Enough with the damn 
introductions.  Do something."

Over his shoulder, Angel told the teenager, "Whatever happens, stay on the 
bike.  If I go down, you get the hell outta here and tell the others.  Got 

For once, Xander answered simply.  "Yeah."

As the two Immortals neared each other, they once again experienced 
excruciating pain in their heads.  Once again, each was only partly successful 
in controlling the impact.

Before the pain subsided, Richie was momentarily thrown off balance by the 
four-foot length of sharpened steel he was holding out of sight along the 
length of his leg.  Its tip hit the pavement with a sharp clank before he 
could regain control of the weapon.

For his part, Angel was not as dramatically affected as he was earlier in the 
bar.  However, even with only a partial transformation, his normally handsome 
facial facade assumed a distinctly feral appearance.  The effect did not go 
unnoticed.  Raising his sword, Richie commented flatly, "Long lifeline or not 
buddy, you're one ugly son of a bitch."

His eyes bulging, Xander croaked, "Uh, Angel...THE GUY HAS A SWORD!  THIS IS 
NOT GOOD!  Maybe we should leave Sir Lancelot alone to go play with the other 

Without turning, Angel calmly told Xander that everything was under control.  
He then proceeded to pick up a length of pipe that a railroad worker had 
evidently dropped at the base of the chain link fence.

Pipe in hand, Angel then added, "Why should we leave now?  The fun's only 

Overhearing this remark, Richie responded, "I'll give you some 'fun' you 

Angel paused a second before answering, "You mean like you gave to Christina 
O'Leary?  Show me what a big man you are with that blade, BOY!"  He then 
lunged toward Richie, using the pipe as a quarterstaff.

In the heat of the moment, the only thing Richie comprehended from this last 
exchange was the name of his dead girlfriend being spoken by an ominous 
stranger.  Naturally, he assumed that the person now attacking him had also 
killed her.

Sparks flew as sharpened steel met blunt force lead.  Neither man nor vampire, 
Immortals both, had a clear advantage.  However, that situation rapidly 
changed when one of Richie's downward slashes cleanly sliced through the left 
sleeve of Angel's leather jacket, not to mention the flesh beneath.  The 
response was immediate.  Snarling, the vampire left his feet and landed a 
flying-literally-drop kick to Richie's midsection.  The force of the impact 
flung the young Immortal into the wall of the building.  He also felt (and 
heard) a couple of ribs crack, puncturing a lung.

Pulling off his jacket, oblivious to the gore beneath, Angel remarked, "This 
is a new jacket.  Do you know how much it cost?"

Slowly, painfully, regaining his footing, Richie was only now realizing that 
this was not a typical opponent.  Mac had never mentioned the power of flight 
as being part of ANY Immortal's bag of tricks.  Coughing up blood and 
attempting to stall for time to allow his body to heal, Richie decided to 
strike up a conversation.  At the very least, he wanted to know the name of 
the person who might kill him.

"Who are you?"

Richie was not heartened by the response.

Approaching for another strike, his opponent answered, "My friends call me 
Angel.  You, however, can call me Angelus."

An enemy with a Latin name.  Richie immediately realized that this was a bad 
omen for his possible success or even his continued survival.  For Immortals, 
Latin indicated age, which in turn indicated skill with weaponry.  Taken 
together, that usually meant death-permanent death-for a younger Immortal.  
To have any chance, Richie knew he had to go on the offensive.

Making a downward feint towards Angel's wounded arm, he quickly redirected the 
blow upwards when the vampire moved to protect his injured limb.  The sword 
caught Angel in the face, opening a long raw gash along his left cheek.

Observing the battle from approximately 15 feet away, Xander cringed at the 
latest injury, thinking, "Oh, that's got to hurt.  Big time."

Angel instantly responded to the slashing by viciously backhanding Richie 
across the face, his silver ring gauging a deep wound in the side of the young 
man's face.  Quickly following up, Angel swung the pipe out like a scythe, 
taking out Richie's legs from under him and sending his sword sliding out of 
reach.  The Immortal was now on his back, weaponless, staring up at his 

Looking down with a smug expression, Angel was suddenly entranced by the 
appearance of a small streak of lightning which danced across Richie's face, 
closing the bleeding wound.

"What the hell are you?"

Getting a close look at Angel's face for the first time and unsure why his 
head was still attached to his shoulders, Richie replied, "Hey, I can ask you 
the same question, buddy."

Suddenly, the vampire was distracted by the same feeling of intense pain that 
had overcome him previously.

"Uh, Angel, we have company.  I think it's the Second Musketeer."

MacLeod had sensed Richie's approach when he first entered the alley.  
Expecting him to come upstairs, he was not immediately concerned by his 
delayed arrival in the loft.  That rapidly changed when he heard the clash of 
metal against metal.  The distinctive sound of Immortals battling.

Pausing to watch the fight from the dojo's side door, he initially thought he 
couldn't interfere in a traditional battle between two Immortals.  That was 
until he heard the name "Angelus" and got a glimpse of Richie's opponent in 
the dim light.  It was then obvious to MacLeod that "The Rules" did not 
apply here.

" monster...butcher," MacLeod spat out.  Advancing with his katana 
drawn, he added, "Back away from him!  We have some unfinished business 
between us."

It took Angel a few moments to recognize the newcomer.  When he did, he coolly 
stated, "Well, if it isn't Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.  It's been 
what...220 years?"

"Not long enough, Angelus."

Dropping the pipe, Angel moved rapidly towards his motorcycle.  Turning to 
face MacLeod and Richie, who was now back on his feet, he remarked, "It's 
been fun, guys.  We'll have to do this again sometime soon."

As the two Immortals looked on in amazement, Angel's face transformed back to 
its human mask.  He then quickly climbed aboard the bike and sped off.

"Who and what the hell was he, Mac?  Do you know him?"

"That, Richie, was a nightmare.  A nightmare straight from Hell.  We have to 
talk to Dawson.  Now!"

Simultaneously, several blocks away, Xander was asking, "Who the hell were 
those guys, Angel?  Do you know them?"

Angel responded, "Only the one with the ponytail.  We have to see Giles.  

Meanwhile, the battle in the alley had been observed by an individual using 
night vision glasses from the top of a boxcar in the rail yard.  The observer, 
who had already committed one brutal murder within the past few days as the 
first phase of his psychotic plan, was now formulating his next move.

Also an Immortal, he planned to use Christina O'Leary's death as a means to 
distract-and then kill-the young, distraught Richie Ryan.  After all, as he 
had already proven dozens of times during his long lifetime, the young ones 
were the easiest to kill in any case.  Even more so when the right 
circumstances presented themselves...or were arranged.  Of course, the 
Quickenings of young Immortals might not, in and of themselves, help one win 
The Prize, but they could serve as reinforcement when forced to battle an 
older Immortal, especially one whose student was just killed-thereby giving 
the killer knowledge of his/her teacher's tactics.  In other words, 
slaughtering the young ones couldn't hurt, and might actually help on the road 
to The Gathering.

What this individual had just witnessed was truly exciting.  Not only was 
Richie Ryan now a target on his radar scope, but so was at least one of the 
other men he spied in the alley (who, from his long distance viewpoint, was 
also an Immortal).  Specifically, the man Ryan was battling appeared to be a 
most promising candidate for his future plans.  The only formidable opposition 
was the individual who appeared on the scene last and came to Ryan's rescue.  
Immediately recognized as Duncan MacLeod, a serious threat, he would be given 
a wide berth and avoided at all costs.

Despite MacLeod's possible interference in his plans, the possibility of 
acquiring an easy Quickening (or two) was too powerful a lure to be ignored by 
his power hungry mind.


Back at the Sunnydale High School library, Giles was listening intently to 
Xander's report on of the events which transpired earlier in the evening.  
Meanwhile, on the other side of the room, Buffy was hovering around Angel, 
checking to see that his wounds were healing.

"...and then this second guy shows up with a sword and helps the first one that 
Angel flattened.  The really weird thing was that Angel recognized the second 
guy from what...200 years ago?"

"Two hundred twenty," Angel corrected as he crossed the room with Buffy 
close behind.  "His name is Duncan MacLeod."

At this point, Giles interrupted with a question, "So if they're not 
vampires, how is one of them still alive after hundreds of years?"

Angel paused before replying, "I've been thinking about that.  I think there 
may be a connection with that old guy we met at the bar.  He had a symbol 
tattooed on his wrist.  I've seen it before.  A long time ago."

Sliding a notepad to him, Buffy remarked, "C'mon Angel, share with the class.  
What did it look like?"

Taking a few moments to sketch a fairly accurate representation of The 
Watchers symbol, Angel passed the pad back to Buffy, who was now surrounded by 
Giles, Willow, and Xander.

"Willow, can you use that thing over there..."

"It's a computer, Giles"

"Fine, that computer, to try to find out anything about this symbol?"

Pondering the question for a few moments, she replied, "I guess we can clean 
up the drawing, scan it in, and..."

Giles, his impatience with all things technical obvious, interrupted, "Fine.  
Very Good.  In the meantime, I'll search my chronicles.  Xander, please assist 

Following Giles, Xander remarked to no one in particular, "Research boy is 
needed once again."

Left alone, Buffy and Angel thought it might be time to make their exit.  
Leaving the school, they decided to take the shortest route across town, which 
just happened to pass through the Sunnydale Cemetery (it was quiet and 
secluded, after all).

"It's not every day that you're on the losing end of a street brawl," Buffy 
said as she took hold of his arm, "getting too old?"

"First, who said I lost and second, with age comes wisdom.  After all, I was 
smart enough to find you."

Running her hand along the slashed sleeve of his jacket, she replied, "Well, 
who am I to disagree with my elders."

At that, Angel leaned down and kissed Buffy.

Running her hands along his face, her fingers found the rapidly fading scar on 
his cheek.

"Did I ever mention that I have a thing for scars?"

With a smile Angel asked, "Would that be a good 'thing' or a bad 'thing'?"

"A very, very good thing," Buffy replied.

"Well then, don't just stand there.  I'll be gone soon."

If Angel had not been otherwise distracted, he might have noticed the stranger 
who had followed them from the school and was now watching them through 
binoculars from outside the cemetery grounds.  The stranger had followed Angel 
and Xander back from Seacouver after their altercation behind the dojo.  If 
handled correctly, he thought, this situation could present an unexpected 

Reordering his priorities, he decided to pursue this Immortal first, before 
possibly refocusing on Ryan later.  In fact, since it made no sense having 
Duncan MacLeod after him seeking revenge, he might settle for one Quickening 
and forget MacLeod's protégé altogether.


Richie and Duncan entered Joe's bar at closing time, just as he was ejecting 
the last straggler of the night.

"Hey, MacLeod, what brings you here so late?"  Turning to Ryan, he 
continued, "And Richie, why did you leave without saying goodbye before?  I 
turned around and you were gone."

Richie shot a confused glance at MacLeod before responding, "Uh, Joe, don't 
you remember the two guys that were following me?"  Motioning with his arm, 
he added, "You went over to talk to them at that table, started acting really 
weird, and served them drinks.  I thought it was time to get outta here."

Dawson looking dumbfounded, said "I don't think I'd forget something like 
that, Richie."

"But Joe, I saw it happen."

MacLeod interrupted at this point, remarking "OK.  OK.  Something weird 
obviously happened tonight.  Joe, I met the two guys that were following 
Richie tonight.  Therefore, I can't dispute his version of what happened."

Hearing this, Joe sat down heavily on a bar stool and stared at an empty 
glass.  After a moment of thought, he remarked, "I'll be damned.  All I can 
remember is picking up some money left on that table earlier.  I thought that 
was kinda strange since I couldn't recall who was sitting there.  You know 
that I usually take note of the people who come in here, for obvious 

When Dawson finished, MacLeod stated, "Joe, regardless of what happened 
earlier, I need you to find some information on Richie's new admirers.  I have 
a license plate number from the motorcycle they were riding.  And, I also had 
a run-in with one of the bastards years ago in Europe."

As he was speaking, Richie realized that a memory of events long past were 
taking form in his mentor's mind.


County Dublin, Ireland, 1777

"Good to see you again, Duncan.  How long has it been?"

"Nearly ten years, Jonathan.  How have you been?"

"I can't complain.  All in all, business has been pretty good and the crops 
are coming in well."

MacLeod dismounted his horse as Jonathan took the reins.  The long-time 
friends then embraced.

"My God, Duncan.  You haven't changed a bit.  You look exactly the same as I 
remember you."

Pausing, Duncan quickly replied, "Oh, that's not true, Jonathan.  I'm getting 
old just like everyone else.  I just hide it better."  He pulled at his 
powdered wig for emphasis.

Walking towards the estate's stables, Jonathan said, "I was saddened to learn 
of your father's death a few years ago.  He was always fair and honest in our 
dealings.  He was a good man, Duncan."

Desperately trying to suppress a grin, MacLeod replied, rather immodestly, 
"That he was...a truly great man."

"Well Duncan, I'm sure you think of him every time you look in the mirror.  
You're obviously your father's son."

Not wishing to explain Immortal genealogy, MacLeod let this statement pass 
without comment.

Entering the stable, Jonathan said, "Well Duncan, I received your letter.  
I'd be happy to show you some of our prize stallions.  We have quite a few to 
choose from this year."

"That's wonderful, Jonathan.  Our families have been doing business for a 
couple of generations now, and that means something to me.  Your horses have 
always served the MacLeods well."

Later in the day, after Duncan selected a snow-white two-year-old, Jonathan 
asked MacLeod if he could come to dinner that evening at the manor house.

"It would be my pleasure.  How's Dorothy and the children?"

A slight frown crossed Jonathan's face as he replied, "She's fine, and the 
children are growing like weeds.  You know how it is.  However..."

"However...what's wrong, Jonathan?"

"My eldest son has been causing some trouble recently.  I've heard that he 
goes into town at night and causes brawls in the pubs.  He's also been 
associating with some, how shall I put this, unsavory women.  Also, during the 
day he refuses to leave the house and oversee the planters.  At night, he's 
never home.  His mother and I are very concerned."

MacLeod listened intently, but wasn't sure how he could help.  He interjected, 
"I find that hard to believe, Jonathan.  The last time I saw Angelus, he was 
just a wee lad.  How old is he now-19?  20?"


"Are you sure he's not just working out some of his wild oats?  It happens 
with most young men his age."

"I hope so, Duncan.  It's just that he hasn't been the same since he went off 
to serve in His Majesty's Army.  He came back colder, distant."

Hearing this, MacLeod quickly replied, "Believe me, Jonathan, battle can 
change a man."

"I know Duncan, that's why I thought you could talk to him.  You can relate 
to him-and him to you-as I cannot.  Also, he's threatening to bring one of 
his harlots to dinner tonight.  My wife has forbidden it, but I'm not sure 
he's going to respect her wishes.  I really could use you there for moral 

Without hesitation, MacLeod responded, "I'll do whatever I can."  Climbing 
aboard his horse, MacLeod departed, saying "See you tonight, my friend."

At 8 o'clock that evening, MacLeod rode up to the manor's entrance.  Wearing a 
long dark cape, he dismounted and approached the front door.  Knocking, he 
waited for a response.  After waiting nearly a minute and receiving no answer, 
he knocked again, using the metal top of his walking stick for emphasis.  This 
time, the door, which was not locked, creaked open about an inch.  Peering 
inside and seeing no one in the foyer, MacLeod called, "Hello?  Is anybody 

Receiving no reply, he proceeded into the sitting room which was illuminated 
by candles, but unoccupied.  With a growing sense of concern, MacLeod crossed 
the room towards the entrance to the dining hall.  Entering, he stopped dead 
in his tracks.

"Oh good God!"

The scene before MacLeod was quite possibly worse than anything he had 
encountered on any battlefield.  Jonathan, his wife, and their children were 
sprawled around the large banquet table and on the floor.  There was blood 
everywhere.  Additionally, two servants who had obviously answered the screams 
of their masters, also lay dead by the door leading to the kitchen.

MacLeod was actually starting to become physically ill, both due to the 
carnage laid out before him as well as to a sudden inexplicable pain in his 
head, when he was distracted by laughter emanating from the sitting room 
behind him.  There, at the top of the stairs, stood the heir of the household 
and a young woman.  Both were laughing.

Staring down, Angelus casually remarked, "Oh look, my dear.  We have company 
for dinner.  I do believe it's Duncan MacLeod.  It's been a long time, Mr. 

Replying, the young woman said, "Undoubtedly, dessert has been served, 
Angelus."  They once again started laughing in unison.

MacLeod had never encountered such a seemingly inhuman act of fratricide in 
his life.  He thought the boy had to be completely mad to commit this type of 
atrocity.  But, what about the woman.  What could account for her behavior?

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Angelus addressed MacLeod, "I'm sorry, 
sir.  Have we ruined your appetite?"

"What have you done, boy?  You've slaughtered your entire family.  Why in 
God's name?"

Leaving his companion's side, Angelus proceeded towards the fireplace and 
retrieved a goblet from the top of the mantle.  Sipping the red liquid within, 
he replied coldly, "God has nothing to do with this."  Pausing to look at 
the girl, he continued, "My family didn't accept Darla here.  Mother said 
that I'd either have to choose between her or them-I made my choice."

Darla then remarked impatiently, "I'm sorry to break up this little reunion, 
Angelus.  And I so hate to eat and run, but we really do have a long trip 
ahead of us tonight.  Let's finish our dessert and go."

At this point, the two started to advance on MacLeod from different 
directions.  Drawing a sword from beneath his cape, he started to back up 
towards a corner of the room.  Not a good tactical situation, but at least a 
defensible position from which he didn't have to cover his back.

Lunging first, Darla was quickly driven back by a couple of vicious slashes 
from MacLeod.  Angelus, however, was not so easily deterred.  Removing his 
army saber from the wall, he proceeded to engage the Immortal in combat.  
Although not as skilled with a blade as his opponent, Angelus was holding his 
own until MacLeod was able to trap his sword against the wall and punch him 
full in the face.  The result was negligible.

"That's not very good behavior for a guest in my home, Mr. MacLeod."

Managing to free his sword, Angelus responded by smashing the Immortal in the 
face with its hilt, shattering MacLeod's jaw.  Even with the haze of pain 
foremost in his mind, the Immortal was nevertheless amazed by the younger 
man's inhuman strength.

Retreating across the room, MacLeod stumbled against a closed door, closely 
pursued by the man and woman.  Turning, he elected to throw a nearby 
candelabra at the woman, gaining a momentary reprieve when her dress ignited.  
While Darla beat out the flames, he was free once again to engage Angelus in 
single combat.  After a few more thrusts and parries, MacLeod was able to 
knock his opponent off balance.  When battling Duncan MacLeod, that was 
usually fatal.  But not this time.  Thrusting towards his opponent's chest, 
MacLeod said, "I'm sorry, Angelus."

"Angelus!!!"  Darla screamed when she saw the blade penetrate her lover's 

Meanwhile, the young man's face actually took on a quizzical expression as he 
looked down at the blade that was deeply embedded in him.  He then collapsed 
to his knees.

What happened next was completely unique in MacLeod's existence.  Pulling his 
sword free, MacLeod expected the young man to fall over on the floor and die 
quickly.  Instead, he just continued to kneel for several seconds.  Looking up 
to face MacLeod, he then started to laugh...joined by Darla a few seconds later.

"Ouch.  That does sting a bit, doesn't it my love?"

"Yes, my love, it surely does."

Looking up, the young man's facial appearance made MacLeod's blood run cold.  
Confronting him was a pair of red eyes, a deeply wrinkled brow, and a set of 
incisors that could only be described as fangs.

"Oh my God!  What in Hell are you?"

"Better, MacLeod.  As I said before, God has nothing to do with this.  But, 
Satan surely does."

Noticing that Darla had also assumed a demonic appearance, the Immortal once 
again retreated against the closed door.  Forcing it open, he found himself 
within the manor's small chapel.  Expecting to be followed, MacLeod was 
surprised when his attackers did not pursue him across the threshold.

Saluting with his saber, Angelus simply stated, "Until we met again Duncan 
MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod."  The vampires then vanished from MacLeod's 


"I didn't leave that house until the following morning...well after dawn."

Richie and Dawson simply sat there a few seconds, before exchanging shocked 
expressions.  Joe was the first to respond, "C'mon, MacLeod.  Vampires?  This 
is some kind of joke, right?"

"Tell that to Jonathan and his family."

Richie then spoke.  "OK Mac, I've got to admit that the guy I was fighting 
tonight looked a little weird.  But you know how shadows can play tricks with 
your vision..."

"Richie, the slaughter I witnessed back in Ireland was not a figment of my 
imagination or a trick of lighting."  Turning to Dawson, he said, 
"Vampires...I don't know...maybe.  As you know, Joe, I'm not a big believer in 
the supernatural."

"But Mac, why would this...this thing want to kill Christina?"

MacLeod thought for a moment.  Shaking his head slowly from side to side, he 
answered, "Who knows, Richie?  Maybe it's simple revenge on me, through you.  
What I do know for certain is that there was no conceivable excuse for the 
massacre I witnessed 200 years ago."

MacLeod then moved to the other side of the bar, poured himself a shot of 
single malt Scotch, and added, "And I also know that this creature, Angelus, 
must be stopped."

Turning to Dawson, he asked, "Joe, will you help us?"

Dawson hesitated a few seconds before answering, "If it wasn't you asking, 
Mac, I wouldn't even consider it.  However, I'll make some discreet-very 
discreet-inquiries into the Watcher archives and some other databases.  Maybe 
there is some record of this Angelus."

Shaking hands with his Watcher, MacLeod replied, "Thank you, Joseph."


Late the following afternoon, Willow's computer search hit paydirt.  Following 
an obscure thread on the Internet, she got a hit during her search for the 
unknown symbol.  The root directory that matched her inquiry, however, was 
stored in a London museum's database and its associated subdirectories were 
encrypted.  After running some skillful hacking protocols-not to mention 
three state-of-the-art decryption programs-over the file, she was staring at 
a partial Watcher chronicle of Immortal activity in Western Europe.  Quickly 
spotting two names, she called to Giles and Xander to come out of the stacks.

Adjusting his glasses, Giles asked Willow, "Did you find something?"

"Oh.  I think you can say that."

Jumping up to sit on top of the computer table, Xander cracked, "OK.  Out 
with it woman, the menfolk are waiting."

Entering the library at that moment, Buffy greeted the others.  Receiving 
little response, she added, "Good to see you too."

Turning towards Buffy, Giles remarked, "Willow thinks she's found something 
on our two mystery men."

Looking down at Willow, the Slayer said, "OK.  What gives?"

"Well, according to this file, there's this seemingly secret society called 
'The Watchers' that..."

Sitting bolt upright, Giles interrupted, "Wait.  Did you just say 

"Yes, Giles.  This group monitors the activities of a race known simply as 
'Immortals.'  It seems that they record the lives of these beings without 
directly interfering in events such as duels, which seem to occur quite 

At this point, Xander remarked, "Hey, Giles.  They don't interfere.  You 
could learn a thing or two from them."

Ignoring Xander, Giles asked, "Did you say duels?"

"Yes, they fight to the death to collect Quickenings, whatever they are.  
Allegedly, the last Immortal will win 'The Prize,' whatever that is?"

"Gee, why don't they just buy a box of Cracker Jack?  Every box has a prize 
inside."  Once again, Xander was ignored.

Buffy then asked Willow, "So does it say anything about our boys, Ryan and 

"Actually, quite a lot about MacLeod.  It seems that he's about 400 years old 
and, from what it says here, he's a very good fighter.  In comparison, Ryan, 
his student, has only been in 'The Game' a few years.  But, he has already 
killed several people."

"Including Christina," remarked Buffy.

Xander then said, "Wait, I'm confused.  If these guys are Immortal than how 
can they kill each other?  Isn't that a contradiction in terms?"

Willow paused before answering, "According to this, they can only die one decapitation."

Jumping off the table, Xander squeaked, "They cut off each others heads!  
That's disgusting!"

Buffy then wryly remarked, "Yeah, not as neat and clean as staking someone in 
the heart."

"You know what I mean.  That's different."

Giles then interjected, "Excuse me.  Are you trying to tell me that we have a 
couple of Immortal mass murderers loose in the neighborhood?"

Walking over to Giles' weapons locker, Buffy responded, "Not for long we 

Meanwhile, in his loft, MacLeod had just received a call from Dawson.  Quickly 
taking down some notes, he thanked Joe, hung up, and dialed Richie's number.

"Richie?  I just spoke to Joe.  He has a lead on that license plate.  He 
traced it to some place in Sunnydale.  I thought you might want to check it 
out with me.  No, let's wait until tonight.  There will be fewer witnesses 
around.  I'll pick you up around 9 o'clock.  Fine.  See you then."


"Now what does baby want?  How about a nice bottle of warm milk?"


"OK.  Forget the milk.  Now, where is that pacifier?"

Buffy might fight ghouls and demons without blinking an eyelash, but now she 
was confronting a new horror:  baby-sitting.

Searching first under the couch pillows, and then under the couch itself, 
Buffy found nothing but a couple of petrified potato chips.  Suddenly hearing 
giggling, she looked up just in time to get hit the face with strained peas.

Wiping her face on a towel, Buffy muttered, "Just wait.  I'll get mom for 
this.  'Sure, bring Jeremy over.  We can take care of him for a few days.  
Don't worry, it's no problem at all.'  And then she goes out!  'Don't worry 
dear, how much trouble can Jeremy be?  Anyhow, it'll be good experience for 
when you have children.'  Well, Buffy thought wickedly, Mom obviously doesn't 
want grandchildren of her own."

At that point, the front doorbell rang.  Expecting Xander and Willow at any 
moment, she didn't bother to look out the window before opening the door.  
Therefore, she was somewhat startled when an older man was standing on her 
front steps.

"Excuse the intrusion, but my car has a flat tire and I don't have a spare.  
I was wondering if I could use your phone to call for help?"

Well, he looked harmless enough, Buffy thought.

"Sure, the phone's right over there on the table."

Turning around to indicate the location of the telephone, Buffy only had a 
moment to wonder what the strange odor she was suddenly smelling was, before a 
rag was placed over her nose and mouth.  Immediately losing consciousness, she 
went limp and collapsed against the intruder.

"Chloroform is a wonderful thing.  Cheap, quick, and effective."

A minute or so later, Xander and Willow were walking up the residential street 
when they came upon a rather alarming scene.  A stranger was struggling to 
dump Buffy's body into the trunk of his car.  Running towards the man, Xander 
started screaming, "Hey, you!  What the hell are you doing?  Let her go!"

He only made it to within 10 feet of the car when he was suddenly staring at a 
very large, very serious-looking sword pointed directly at his chest.  Willow 
came to a halt beside him.

Xander asked incredulously, "Does everybody carry a sword in this town now-
what do you want?"

The stranger responded by motioning towards the trunk, "I think want I want 
is obvious, boy.  However, assuming you want to live a little longer, I need 
you to convey a message."

"What kind of message?"

"I want you to tell her little boyfriend that he should come to Pier 17 at 
midnight tonight-alone.  Tell him that Cameron Kullen has 
settle with him."

Attempting to stall for time, hoping that Buffy might come to, Xander said, 
"I think you're a little confused, buddy.  I'm her boyfriend."

Noticing with some amusement the strange expression which crossed Willow's 
face upon hearing this, Kullen simply said, "You young people do lead 
interesting lives these days, don't you."  With a dangerous grin, he added, 
"Then tell her OTHER boyfriend that he either comes to the pier tonight or 
she dies."

With that, he closed the trunk, got behind the wheel, and sped away.

Staring helplessly at the departing car, Willow asked Xander, "What do we do 

Heading towards the open front door of the house, the teenager replied, "We 
call Giles.  That's what."


Angel had been awake about two hours.  After rising and dressing, he decided 
to watch a videotape that had been recorded earlier that day as he slept.  As 
the opening credits of Good Morning America scrolled on the screen, it never 
dawned on the vampire that he was probably the only person that recorded and 
later replayed the morning talk shows to see mundane things such as the sun 
rising over New York, or children playing, or birds flying-all sights that 
would otherwise be denied to him, a creature of the night.

"Let's see, what's in the old fridge?"

Opening the refrigerator door, Angel was confronted by a multitude of glass 
bottles.  Some contained whole blood while others, filled with a clear liquid, 
contained plasma.

"What am I in the mood for tonight-A?  B?  I know.  I'll just go with the 
old reliable...AB."

Laughing to himself, he wondered if AB went better with meat or poultry?

Sipping the liquid through a straw, Angel considered how much easier it had 
become in recent decades to satisfy his needs.  As compared to earlier in the 
century when he had to resort to breaking into hospitals and blood banks to 
steal supplies, now all that was necessary was a bogus entry in a medical data 
base listing him as a patient with a blood "disorder."  Hemophilia was his 
personal favorite, since it was one of the more well-known blood afflictions, 
therefore less likely to raise suspicions.

In a sense, feeding for him was now as simple as going to a drive-thru window 
is for most people.  Simply present the proper (forged) medical documentation 
and pick-up your order-to go.

Darla, of course, ridiculed this kind of behavior.  What she never understood 
was that Angel ceased being a "normal" vampire the night his soul was 
restored by a gypsy clan in revenge for killing one of their own.  Until the 
night she died-by Angel's hand-Darla didn't comprehend that her lover had 
ceased to be a mindless killing machine driven by an eternal need for blood to 
satisfy the demon within.  Instead, he was unique.  A man, trapped within the 
body of a vampire, haunted by the memories of past horrors.

Angel was preparing to continue reading the latest Anne Rice novel when he 
suddenly experienced a sharp pain in his head.  Seconds later, his front door 
exploded inward, the result of a powerful kick by Duncan MacLeod, who was 
followed into the room by Richie Ryan.  Both had their swords drawn.

"I was just having dinner, MacLeod.  I'd ask you to join me, but you look 
more like the meat and potatoes type...or is it haggis?

Knocking several empty bottles off the table with the blade of his sword, 
MacLeod stated flatly, "It's time you paid for your crimes, Angelus."

Remaining seated, Angel responded, "So you and your friend are here to 
execute me?"

"No," MacLeod countered, "we're here for justice."

"What do you know about justice, MacLeod?  You and Ryan are just like me.  
We're all killers.  I know.  I read your damn Watcher files."

At this point, Richie exploded, "We're nothing like you, you bastard.  We 
only kill when challenged-to survive-you kill for pleasure."

Turning back to MacLeod, Angel said, "So you're here to avenge the deaths of 
my family from over two centuries ago?  What kind of a hypocrite are you, 

The Immortal replied, "For their deaths, Christina O'Leary's, and countless 

Standing, Angel responded. "I never met Christina O'Leary.  But, maybe you 
should discuss that with your student here.  She was killed with a large 
blade, not by me."

Lunging toward Angel, Richie screamed, "You're saying I killed Christina?  I 
loved her!"

"Richie, no!"

Before MacLeod could stop the younger man, Richie's momentum had carried him 
across the room towards the vampire.  By simply sidestepping the assault, 
Angel managed to grasp the young man by the arm and fling him through the 
black-curtained window beyond.  Amidst shattered glass, the Immortal came to 
rest on the abandoned building's fire escape.  Regaining his senses a few 
moments later, Richie muttered, "God, I hate when that happens."

As Richie was exiting the building, Xander was just arriving.  In fact, the 
newcomer barely avoided getting hit by the shower of glass that crashed down 
on the sidewalk.

"Uh oh, Angel has company."

Racing up the stairs two at a time, Xander entered the apartment just as 
Richie started to climb back in through the window.  When he saw the teenager, 
MacLeod stated, "Stay back boy, this doesn't concern you."  To which Xander 
angrily replied, "Who the hell are you calling 'boy'?"

Taking advantage of this distraction, Angel quickly picked up the kitchen 
chair he was sitting on and slammed it down on MacLeod's right shoulder.  The 
Immortal, caught off guard, saw the blow coming and tried, unsuccessfully, to 
deflect it away.  Although staggered, MacLeod remained on his feet, while his 
katana landed on the floor in the spot he previously occupied.  Retrieving the 
weapon, Angel quickly placed the blade against Duncan's throat.

Seeing the situation unfolding before him, Richie was frozen in place outside 
the window, unsure what, if anything, to do.  With an obvious look of 
confusion on his face, all he could utter was, "Mac?"

MacLeod spoke next, "Richie, if he kills me, I want him to follow right 

Nervously, all Richie could answer was, "Sure, Mac."

After a few moments of impasse, Angel stated, "I don't want to kill you, 

"Why do I have a hard time believing that?"

"Because if I wanted you dead, I wouldn't do this..."

Angel then handed the hilt of the sword to MacLeod, who was visibly surprised.  
Turning his back to MacLeod, he said, "I have not killed a human being in 
nearly a century, MacLeod.  Can you say that?"

"That may be true, but it doesn't excuse all the lives you destroyed."

After a pause, Angel responded, "Don't you think I know that?  I'm trying to 
repent for my sins...acts so heinous you can't even imagine them-but I can't 

Finally taking notice of Xander's obvious agitation, the vampire turned his 
attention to the teenager, "I don't remember inviting you here.  What's 

Xander, who was in no mood for verbal sparring, blurted out, "Buffy's in 

Snapping fully alert, Angel asked, "What happened?"

Xander then recounted how he and Willow witnessed a man dragging the 
unconscious young girl into a car.  When challenged, he drew a sword, got in 
the car, and sped away.

Upon mention of a sword, both MacLeod and Richie were immediately puzzled.  
The older of the two spoke first, asking Xander, "Did he say anything else?"

After thinking for a few moments, he answered, "Yeah.  He said that if we 
want to get Buffy back-alive-Angel should meet him on Pier 17 at midnight."

Coming up beside MacLeod, Richie commented, "Mac, that sounds like a 
challenge...between Immortals."

"Yes, it does, Richie."  Pointing at Angel, MacLeod then added, "The big 
question is why would an Immortal be challenging him?  It just doesn't make 

Slowly approaching the two, Angel suggested an answer, "Unless he thinks I'm 
Immortal...your type of Immortal.  He might have been watching our little joust 
in the alley the other night and got the wrong impression."

MacLeod then asked Xander, "Did he say anything else?"

"Yes, he said Angel should come alone or Buffy would die."  Pausing to 
think, the teenager then added, "He also said his name is Cameron Kullen."

Turning to MacLeod, Richie asked his teacher, "Do you know him, Mac?"

Without hesitating, he answered, "No, but I'm sure Dawson does."


About an hour later, possibly the largest group of people ever assembled in 
Sunnydale High's library were gathered to plan strategy.  Present were 
MacLeod, Richie, Dawson, Giles, Angel, and Xander.  Only Willow was absent, 
because she was at Buffy's house keeping watch over the girl's cousin.  Joe 
was addressing the crowd.

"This guy Kullen is a real piece of work.  At about 150 years old, he is the 
worst type of scumbag imaginable.  Not only does he stalk and then challenge 
much younger Immortals, those he considers to be easy targets, he also works 
to create distractions in their lives."

Because he already suspected the answer, Richie took a deep breath before 
asking, "Distractions?  What kind of distractions?"

Hesitating, Joe continued, "He usually kidnaps-and kills-people who are 
close to his chosen opponent."

"He killed Christina.  The son of a bitch killed her to get to me."

Nodding, Dawson continued, "That's just how this psycho does things, Richie.  
If I knew he was after you, I would've warned you.  I'm very sorry."

At that, the young man simply replied, "I'm going to kill him."

Hearing this, Angel moved across the library towards Richie, stating, "Oh no, 
you're not!  Kullen asked me to come alone or Buffy dies.  I can't let 
anything happen to her...I'd rather die."

Although this statement surprised MacLeod, he let it pass without comment.  
However, Joe did respond, saying "Even if you do fight him-if you lose, 
she'll die.  Kullen never lets witnesses live."

Nervously adjusting his glasses, Giles then added, "Gentlemen, you simply 
don't understand.  Buffy is a very special girl.  Nothing can be allowed to 
happen to her...the consequences would be unthinkable."

"OK," Xander asked, "what can we do?  We have less than two hours left."

"Well," MacLeod stated rising to his feet, "I don't know about the rest of 
you, but since Kullen wants to fight an Immortal, I think we should give him 
exactly that...and then some."


Regaining consciousness, Buffy felt disoriented in the dim lighting.  
Surveying her surroundings, she quickly perceived the dampness that penetrated 
the old warehouse.  Most importantly, however, she also realized that she was 
bound to a chair, unable to move.

"Welcome back, Ms. Summers.  Glad you could join me before my little game 

Trying to blow some stray hair away from her face, Buffy asked into the 
darkness, "Who are you?  Why am I here?  What, you couldn't find a date or 

Slowly walking around from behind her so that he could be seen, the Immortal 
answered, "Oh, very funny, Ms. Summers.  But, to answer your question, my 
name is Kullen-Cameron Kullen-and you're here as bait."

"Bait?  For what, you sicko?  I don't even know you."

With a snide laugh, Kullen replied, "How can you talk to me like that, 
Buffy-you don't mind if I call you Buffy, do you?"

"Of course not.  As long as you don't mind if I rip your heart out and hand 
it to you."

Laughing once again, Kullen simply responded, "Very good.  Such spunk.  I 
like that in a prisoner.  The usual crying and groveling does become so 
tedious sometimes."  Continuing, he then added, "Now, as for why I need 
you-it's very simple.  You're going to draw you're boyfriend here so I can 
kill him."

Up until now, Buffy was much more angry than scared.  Now, however, she was 
beginning to get frightened...for Angel.

"My boyfriend?  Why him?"

Running his hand down Buffy's cheek, Kullen brushed aside some stray hair 
strands.  Raising her head to look directly into her eyes, he answered, 
"Because he has something I want."

Struggling against the ropes holding her to the chair, the girl asked, "What 
the hell are you talking about?  What could Angel have that you want?"

"Does a Quickening mean anything to you, Buffy?"

Her mind was now racing.  A Quickening?  Where had she heard that expression 
before?  Then she remembered Willow's research on Immortals.  This nut case 
must think Angel is an MacLeod and Ryan.

Seeing Buffy's facial expression visibly change, Kullen asked, "Your 
boyfriend did tell you about us, didn't he?"

Hoping that Kullen would fill in some of the holes in Willow's research, Buffy 
tried to act as ignorant as possible.

"I don't know what your babbling about, mister.  Angel is just a normal 

Laughing, the Immortal said, "Oh, no.  Not normal.  Not at all.  Your 'Angel' 
is a killer who likes to have duels in dark kind of guy, actually."

Only half ironically, Buffy said, "No, Angel's nothing like you. He wouldn't 
hurt a living thing."

Kullen was rapidly tiring of this argument.  Turning to leave, he said simply, 
"Well Buffy, for your sake, I do hope that he comes here tonight.  You could 
say that your life depends on it."

When he was gone, Buffy resumed struggling against her bonds-with increased 


"Tell me again, what are we doing in a sewer?" Richie asked.

To which Angel replied, "Pier 17 is in the old section of town.  The whole 
area is crisscrossed by these tunnels.  We should be able to come up under the 
building without being noticed.  Cameron shouldn't expect that."

Xander then asked, "Angel, should I ask how you know about these tunnels?"

"Let's just say that when you have a particularly adverse 'reaction' to the 
sun like me, it's always handy to know some alternate routes around town."

"Shit!  What just rubbed my leg?  Was that a rat?"

With some amusement, MacLeod replied, "Calm down, Richie.  I thought you grew 
up on the streets.  This should be just like old times.  Anyhow, you haven't 
seen real sewers until you've been under Paris.  Now those..."

"Please, don't let me interrupt your fond memories of France, Mac, but let me 
just say that I grew up ON the streets-not UNDER the streets-and, I never 
could stand rats."

"Well, why don't you just use that pig-sticker you're carrying on them?"

"I'll use it on you, you blood-sucking freak."

"Who the hell are YOU calling a freak, swordboy?"

Realizing he was the only mortal present, Xander then said, "It's good to see 
that age and wisdom tends to raise the level of a conversation."

Losing his patience, MacLeod said, "Enough.  We're here to get the girl back 
and nail that bastard Kullen."

The four then proceeded along in silence until they came to a metal door.

"OK," Angel said, "this leads up to the basement of the pier's warehouse.  
They used to offload liquor from ships during Prohibition and smuggle it 
through these tunnels.  Now, if we can get it open."

MacLeod then stepped forward and said, "Richie, you go low, I'll go high."

The two Immortals then strained against the door, with no visible effect.

Soon distracted by a low growl coming from behind them, the two looked back to 
see Angel fully transformed into his vampiric form.

At this point, Xander remarked, "You might want to step aside guys."

Clearing out of the vampire's way, they looked on in awe as Angel proceeded 
not only to simply open the door, but to tear it from its hinges.

"We must have loosened it up," MacLeod said feebly.  Richie simply nodded.

After propping the mass of steel against a wall, Angel immediately returned to 
his human appearance.  "OK, MacLeod, we're in.  Now what?"

"Now we split up.  Xander and I will try to find Ms. Summers while you and 
Richie try to locate Kullen.  If we're lucky, they won't be in the same 
location.  Just remember, we have to get her to safety before you confront 
him.  He can't be given the chance to hurt her when he realizes what's 

Meanwhile, in a car on the dock outside the warehouse, two middle-aged men 
were doing what they do best-namely watching and waiting.

"So Giles, how did you get into this line of work?"

"Do you mean being a librarian?"

Now slightly annoyed, Dawson clarified his question, "No, I mean being a 
dentist-what do you think I mean?  How did you become a watcher?"

Removing his eyeglasses to wipe them, he responded, "I was born into it 
actually.  My father was a watcher and it just seemed natural that I follow in 
his footsteps.  How about yourself?"

"Well, in my case, I was sort of recruited into our organization.  After I 
had an unfortunate encounter with a landmine in Vietnam, you could say that 
they made me an offer I couldn't refuse."

"What do you think is happening in there?"

"Excuse me?"

"Xander and Angel-I want to know what's happening-I usually go with them 
when Buffy's in trouble."

Dawson replied, "I'm sure they'll be fine.  MacLeod's done this before."  
Removing a flask from his pocket, Joe then offered the Englishman a hit of 
Brandy, saying, "Want a sip to warm up?"

"Oh, no thank you..."

As Dawson was thinking something along the lines of "Damn stuffy Brit," 
Giles removed his own flask and added "...I'm more of a Whiskey man myself."

"A toast then.  To success."



"It's almost time, young lady.  Now we'll see what kind of man your boyfriend 

"He's man enough to kill your cowardly ass, you creep."

With a laugh, Kullen remarked, "What a nasty mouth on such a sweet face.  You 
really should try to mind you manners."  He then slapped Buffy across the 

"Please don't annoy me.  I really can get unpleasant if you annoy me."

Licking blood from her lip, she responded, "Yeah, just look at what a great 
guy you are now."

Raising his hand for another pass, he suddenly let it drop when he felt a pain 
in his head.

He then heard Angel shout, "Kullen!"

"Well, Buffy, at least he's prompt."  Departing, he added, "Until we talk 
again later."

Under her breath, she muttered, "Don't count on it, scumbag."

In another section of the warehouse, Angel once again called, "Kullen!"  
This time he got a response.

"Must you be so loud?  I heard you the first time."

"Where's Buffy?"

Closing the distance between the two to approximately 30 feet, the Immortal 
answered, "She's a little tied up at the moment.  But, then again, maybe 
that's the way you like her...tied up."

Angel was in no mood for Kullen or his wise mouth.  However, he had to keep 
this charade going until he had some indication that Buffy was safe.  Holding 
his army saber erect, he asked the Immortal, "Why did you kidnap her?  Why 
not just challenge me directly?"

"Well, I do hate to leave some things to my life, for example.  
By doing it this way, I fight on my schedule, on my battlefield.  I like the 
odds much better this way."

"I'm sure you do.  Now, release Buffy."

"Oh, I'm sorry, that's quite impossible.  If I win, I can't have witnesses.  
The police might start asking troubling questions."

"You're a real prick, aren't you?"

Laughing, Kullen said, "You haven't seen anything yet."  Pulling out a 
pistol, he quickly fired a round into Angel's shoulder.  The vampire, 
staggered, ducked behind a partition as additional rounds whizzed by.  Behind 
the wall, he stumbled into Richie Ryan, who noted dryly, "Getting shot sure 
hurts like hell, doesn't it?"  Angel simply nodded.

Hearing the shots in the other section of the warehouse, Buffy started 
screaming Angel's name.  Fortunately, her calls also served as a homing beacon 
for MacLeod and Xander, who quickly untied her from the chair.  They also 
wanted to get her out of the building.  However, they soon learned that Buffy 
had other thoughts.

"What's he doing here?" Buffy asked Xander, indicating MacLeod.

"Don't worry, he's helping us stop this guy, Kullen-he's the one who killed 
Christina O'Leary."

"Where's Angel?"

Xander replied, "Don't worry, he can take care of himself.  Let's get you out 
of here."

However, when dealing with Angel's safety, Buffy wasn't ready to leave 
anything to chance.  Breaking away from Xander, she started running towards 
the sound of the gunfire, with the two men following close behind.

As the three Immortals were now all in the same section of the building, it 
quickly became apparent to Kullen that it wasn't simply Angel he was 
confronting.  Reloading his gun, he yelled into the shadows, "You cheated!  I 
told you to come alone!"

Upon hearing this, Richie muttered to Angel, "This asshole is using a gun and 
he says we're cheating!"

Angel replied, "I don't know about you, but I'm tired of this guy."  With 
apparent ease, he then started climbing vertically up the wall they were 
taking cover behind.

Looking up, Richie thought, "How does he do that?"

Meanwhile, across the floor, Kullen was now taking aim at Buffy, Xander and 
MacLeod, who just came into view.  Buffy was able to roll behind a crate, 
unharmed, but MacLeod was less fortunate.  Shouting, "GET DOWN!" MacLeod 
pushed Xander to the ground and caught a shot in the chest that would have 
struck the teenager.

Rolling the now immobile Immortal over, Xander spotted the blood and croaked, 
"Oh man, you've been shot!"

MacLeod whispered, "I'll stay down."  The Immortal then lost 

Ignoring the instruction, Xander waited for Kullen to take aim elsewhere 
before dragging MacLeod behind the crates where Buffy had previously been.

Kullen, meanwhile, was rapidly running out of bullets, but not targets.  
Alternately, he was taking shots at Richie-who was circling counterclockwise, 
Buffy-who was circling clockwise, and Angel-who was stalking him from above.  
All were closing the distance to their target.

His gun now empty, Kullen threw it away and pulled out a sword from beneath 
the folds of his black trenchcoat, saying, "I guess we'll do this the old-
fashioned way."

In the next instant, Kullen heard a whooshing sound a split-second before 
feeling a sharp pain on the left side of his chest.  Staggering backwards, he 
reached up and felt a wooden stake.

"I'm not really an old-fashioned kind of girl."

Buffy was now standing before the Immortal with a grin spreading from ear to 
ear.  She added, "The next time you kidnap someone, you really should check 
their boots.  No telling what might be in there."

Pulling the stake out, Kullen started to get back to his feet when he was 
knocked violently down.  Regaining his senses moments later, he was now 
looking up at Angel who was standing over him.

"Where?  How?"

"You could say that I'm very fast on my feet."  His face then assuming it's 
sinister appearance, the vampire added, "Inhumanly fast."

Kullen started to croak something about breaking the rules, when Richie came 
into view.  "Rules?  You try to hide behind the rules when you've violated 
them yourself!  You disgust me!"  Pausing to let his words sink in, he then 
added, "But, as you can see, my friend here isn't covered by our rules."

Now looking at Richie, Angel asked, "Do you want to do the honors or shall 

The young Immortal responded, "I'll do it," and then to Kullen, "get up!"

As Angel and Buffy moved off to one side, Kullen slowly got back on his feet.

"Pick up your sword or I'll kill you where you stand."

His panic rapidly increasing, Kullen-now pleading-said, "If you let me go, 
I'll give you anything.  You're could be rich."

Richie would hear none of it.  He responded simply, "You took the one 
treasure I had; everything else is meaningless.  This is your last chance...pick 
up your sword."

Bending down to retrieve his weapon, Kullen quickly tried to catch his 
opponent off guard by lunging forward from his bent position.  Richie easily 
blocked the attempt and the battle was joined.

Meanwhile, behind a crate, Xander heard the clash of metal just as MacLeod 
regained consciousness.

"Are you allright, man?  I thought you stopped breathing."

Coughing, MacLeod replied, "I probably did" and then, hearing the battle, 
asked the teenager, "what's happening?"

"Your friend is fighting the guy who grabbed Buffy."

"Help me up."

Once MacLeod was upright, he and Xander turned to watch the conflict, the 
young man asking, "What can we do?"

Solemnly, the Immortal replied. "Nothing."

As the fight proceeded, Richie soon discovered that Kullen was not without 
skill.  While pressing an attack to the older Immortal's recently staked left 
side, he himself was slashed in the left leg.

"It's not too late, boy.  My offer still stands."

"Don't call me 'boy,' you son of a bitch!"

Moving in to exploit the young man's leg wound, Kullen made a stabbing motion 
which was blocked and turned aside.  Richie then forced him backwards across 
the floor with a series of powerful thrusts and uppercuts.  All were blocked, 
except one-the one which impaled Kullen against the warehouse wall.

Richie then quickly followed-up with a punch to his opponent's face, which 
caused Kullen to drop his blade.  Then, ignoring the older Immortal's pain, 
Richie then proceeded to push his blade in even further.  Twisting it, he 
asked, "How do you like it, you bastard?  Now you know how Christina felt!"

Seeing the battle take this turn, Xander started to cringe while Angel 
remarked to Buffy, "This is starting to get ugly."

MacLeod also did not like what he was seeing.  To his student, he shouted as 
forcefully as he could manage, "Richie!  End this!  Now!"

Regaining his composure, Richie only paused another moment before withdrawing 
his sword, allowing Kullen to slump to the ground.  He then stepped back and 
stated, "There can be only one-and it's not going to be you."

Averting his eyes from the killing blow that followed, Xander could only 
weakly remark to MacLeod, "Oh man.  That's nasty."

However MacLeod, knowing what was going to follow, said, "We have to get out 
of here."

Oblivious, Angel and Buffy approached Richie, who seemed to be walking towards 
them in a daze.  Angel then remarked to the young man, "It's over, Ryan.  
Let's go."

Cryptically, Richie simply stated, "It's coming.  You have to leave."

As Buffy started to ask, "What's coming?" she noticed a white mist rise from 
the corpse and start to envelop Richie.  Almost immediately, lighting started 
to arc across the warehouse.

Seeing what was happening, Angel shouted, "Everyone, get down!"

As the firestorm continued to lance around the building, shattering light 
fixtures and setting crates afire, Richie was thrown to his knees-the focal 
point of the cataclysm.

Angel, by this time, had thrown himself on top of Buffy, shielding her from 
flying debris.  It was then that a lighting bolt struck a crate, exploding it 
and sending out ballistic wooden fragments in all directions.  Buffy 
immediately realized something was wrong when she felt Angel go limp and, 
looking up, saw his eyes roll back in their sockets.  In a panic, she cried, 
"Angel...Angel?  What's wrong?"

Once the turbulence had passed, Buffy rolled Angel onto his side and 
discovered a foot-long fragment embedded in his lower back.  Quickly coming to 
after she removed it, he asked, "What happened?"

"You caught a splinter."

With a weak smile, he said, "Obviously, not in the heart."

As MacLeod made his way across the warehouse to help his student up, across 
the room all Xander could manage to say was, "Wow, what a blast!"

Outside the building, after observing the structure's windows explode while 
thunder rumbled within, Giles asked in alarm, "What in God's name was that?"

To which Dawson replied, "That, my good man, was a Quickening."


A week later, all the principals were invited to MacLeod's dojo after hours.  
Upon seeing the various weapons arrayed along the walls, Buffy reacted like a 
kid in a candy store.  Soon she was sparring with Richie using quarterstaffs.

As Dawson and Giles watched, the older man said idly, "It's probably good for 
them to practice with someone new for a change."

"I can't agree more.  Buffy needs a well-rounded education in the martial 
arts.  I just can't provide her with that."

Dawson responded, "Don't worry, I'm sure he'll go easy on her.  There's no 
sense anyone getting hurt."

With a smile, Giles said, "Oh, not to worry, Joseph.  Buffy won't get hurt."  
Unconsciously rubbing his shoulder from his last practice with the girl, he 
then added, "However, I can't say the same about Mr. Ryan."

At that moment, Richie discovered what it felt like to get nailed with a 
quarter-inch diameter piece of wood between the legs.

"Oh, oh, I'm very sorry, Richie."

With color slowly returning to his cheeks, he stammered, "That's...all right, 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the gym, Xander and Willow were taking full 
advantage of the smorgasbord that MacLeod had provided for his guests.

"Look Xander, deviled eggs and cocktail wieners and..."


Turning towards the boy, she asked, "What did you say?  I couldn't understand 

Seemingly trying to down half the spread in one gulp, Xander had to wait for 
his gastrointestinal system to catch up with his mouth before answering.  "I 
said, everything tastes very good.  I highly recommend the shrimp puffs."

The two were suddenly distracted by the sharp sound of cracking wood.  Turning 
around, they saw Richie laying on the floor surrounded by splinters where a 
wooden bench had been sitting moments before.

"Oh, sorry again, Richie."

Meanwhile, behind the closed door of MacLeod's office, Duncan and Angel were 
discussing the past, present, and future.  After all, between the two of them 
they had witnessed over six centuries of human history.

"Why did you choose this life, Angelus?  At least I was born what I am, but 
you choose this for yourself."

"MacLeod, I was in love with a woman who not only betrayed me, but wasn't 
even human.  Can you possible know how that feels?  Then when I finally 
realized what was happening, she gave my a choice:  die or live forever.  I 
had seconds to make my decision.  A 20-year-old facing certain death or a 
faint chance to survive.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have chosen 

"I still can't forgive you for killing your family.  How could you do such a 

After a pause, Angel answered, "What you don't understand, MacLeod, is that a 
vampire-a typical vampire-isn't in control of itself.  The creature may 
appear human when it wishes, but in reality it's simply a demon masquerading 
as a man.  Your soul is gone and killing-even killing your entire family-
simply becomes a means to continue living.  At that time, I had no more 
control over my actions than a tiger does in the jungle.  Both acting on pure 
instinct.  No remorse, no sorrow.  It's an easy way to live."

"I'm not a big believer in demons, Angelus.  I believe in what I can see and 
touch, not in the supernatural.  I have trouble accepting a force that can 
invade and take control of a man, causing him to kill his family and 

"Well, most people would have a hard time accepting the concept of 
immortality, MacLeod, but here we stand.  Does their not accepting it make it 
any less real?"

"No.  But, once your soul was restored, how did you go on living?  I don't 
think I'd be able to go on knowing what I'd done."

"Excuse me, MacLeod, but until you're in that position, please don't say what 
you'd do.  I could choose to walk out into the sunlight at any time, but what 
would that accomplish?  All of my victims would still be dead.  Instead, I'm 
trying to help Buffy on her quest.  At least, in some small way, I'm trying to 
make amends for my crimes."

"Well, Angelus, I hope you find peace.  It's not...excuse me" MacLeod, 
interrupted by the loud crash of metal dumbbells scattering outside the 
office, opened the door and shouted, "Hey, Richie, take it easy on her."

Quickly closing the door again, all he heard was part of Richie's reply, "But 
Mac, she's killing..."

Turning back around to face Angel, MacLeod then posed a question, "Where was 
I...oh yeah, one other thing...what can you tell me about Xander over there?"

"Xander?  Like what?"

"What's his family like?  What's his relationship with Buffy?  What's his 
relationship to Willow, for that matter?"

"I'll take the hard ones first.  Willow has a 'thing' for Xander, who thinks 
of her as a good friend.  Xander, on the other hand, has a 'thing' for Buffy, 
who thinks of him as a good friend.  In case you haven't noticed, by the way, 
I'm the fourth side of this love quadrangle."

"As for Xander's family life-what I know of it-he has no brothers or 
sisters and his parents are always at work or out of town.  He frequently 
implies that they treat him more like property than as their son.  Why are you 
so interested in Xander, MacLeod?"

Before he could respond, the office door once again opened and Detective 
Mendell let himself in.

"Why don't you make yourself at home, detective.  We seem to be having an 
open house tonight."

Mendell did not seem amused.  He said coldly, "Don't be a wiseass with me, 
MacLeod.  I've found a dead body and I think you know something about it."

His face impassive, MacLeod answered, "I really think I would remember 
something like that.  Why would I know anything about it?"

Starting around the desk, Mendell commented, "Well, for starters, we don't 
find many headless bodies in Sunnydale.  Last week, we did...on a demolished 
pier that looked like a bomb hit it."


"I'm warning you, MacLeod."

"OK, detective, but I'm still not sure what this has to do with me."

"I'll spell it out for you then, MacLeod.  Forensics has traced fibers from 
the dead man's clothes to the murder of Christina O'Leary and second-and this 
is the clincher-they also determined, based on metal splinters imbedded in 
the body, that the murder weapon was A SWORD."

Steepling his fingers in front of his face, MacLeod simply responded, "That 
still doesn't prove anything.  I'm sure that many people own swords around 

"Sorry to disappoint you, MacLeod, but very few people own swords...and even 
fewer who do also had their friend's girlfriend killed by the latest murder 
victim."  He paused before adding, "And I think that you or Ryan decided to 
get revenge on the scumbag who killed Christina O'Leary."

"I will admit, you have a very interesting theory, detective.  But that's not 

Leaning down so his face was close to MacLeod's, the cop then said, "You're 
right, MacLeod.  But maybe if I confiscate your weapons here and then get 
search warrants for your apartment and Ryan's, maybe I'll come up with 
something more solid."

Tapping Mendell on the shoulder, Angel stated, "No, you won't."

Turning around, Mendell started to remark, "And who the hell are...?" when he 
stopped in mid-sentence.  He was now staring silently, mouth agape, into the 
vampire's red, gold-tinged eyes.

Angel calmly continued, "You just came here to say that the O'Leary murder 
case was closed.  The evidence seems to indicate that the murderer was himself 
killed in an apparent gangland slaying."

The vampire then withdrew across the room, leaving the cop standing there 

After blinking a couple of times, Mendell looked down at MacLeod and said "I 
just wanted to let you know that the O'Leary murder case is closed.  The 
evidence indicates that the murderer was himself killed in an apparent 
gangland slaying."

Trying to hide his amazement, MacLeod said simply, "Thank you, detective.  
I'm sure Richie will take some comfort in knowing that."

Turning to leave, Mendell hesitated, muttering, "I can swear there was 
something else I wanted to say."  After a moment, he added, "Thanks for your 
help, Mr. MacLeod.  Please send my regards to Mr. Ryan."

"I will, detective.  Have a good evening."

After the office door closed, MacLeod smirked and remarked to Angel, "That 
does come in handy, doesn't it?  You don't think you could teach me..."

"I'm afraid not.  It's an acquired skill."

Rising and walking towards Angel, MacLeod remarked, "I guess where 
were we?  Oh yes.  Do you swear that what I tell you now will not be 
repeated...until the appropriate time?"

"Yes, I swear, MacLeod.  You were saying something about Xander?"

MacLeod then stated bluntly, "Xander was adopted.  He was an orphan.  In 
fact, he's like Richie and I...or at least he will be one day."

Blinking several times before responding, Angel finally said, "Xander?  
Immortal?  How do you know?"

"Not only can we sense each other when we are Immortal, but we can also sense 
those who will eventually become Immortal.  Just to be certain, I asked Richie 
about Xander and he agrees that he feels something."

"Why tell me this, MacLeod?  What can I do?"

"First, as I said before, no one can know the truth.  It would only disrupt 
the life he has now.  God knows that will happen soon enough.  I'm telling you 
because you know what immortality can do to a it can warp even the 
most level-headed individual."

"Second, you're in a position to provide guidance to Xander, subtly.  You're 
also in a position to shield him from danger.  Consider what would happen if 
he's ever bitten by a vampire.  The results could be catastrophic-the 
blending of vampire and Immortal attributes might be too much for anyone to 
stop.  For these reasons and others, please watch the boy."

Shaking hands with MacLeod, Angel simply responded, "I will."



That's All Folks (Or Is It?)