Mother's Gift

Disclaimer: I in no way own or claim to own anything to do with the 
Highlander Universe, Panzer/Davis, Rysher Entertainment, and Gaumont 
Television seem to have that honor with the possible exception of 
Richie, who I hear now belongs to Clan Denial. 

Disclaimer: Buffy, Willow, Xander, Giles, Angel, etc., not to mention 
the vampire slayer concept, don't belong to me either.  I'm pretty sure 
they're owned by Joss (God of All Things) Whedon, The WB, and 20th 
Century FOX, among others. Any song lyrics/poems are copyright their 
respective owners. 

Warnings: This story is completely alternate universe, in both worlds.  
Angel never went to Hell, Jenny isn't dead; Kendra was never called (I 
never liked her anyway), skipping right to Faith, Richie is still with 
head intact, and Buffy is a Highlander-style Immortal.  Also, Oz and 
Willow never discovered each other.  There are references from some of 
the 'Buffy' novels, and are spoilers if you haven't read them.  My 
apologies if I mangle the French- I've never had a class.  Now that you 
know this, this story will still probably make a lot more sense if 
you've already read Mother's Curse. 

No copyright infringements are intended, and I'm making absolutely no 
money off of this story.  Please don't sue me-I have no money anyway. 


***Comments, questions, praise, and constructive criticism always 
appreciated.  Flames used to roast marshmallows.  If you'd like to 
archive this story elsewhere, please email me first.*** 


  Highlander--Duncan MacLeod, Richie, Methos/Adam, Amanda, Others 
  BtVS--Buffy, Willow, Xander, Cordelia, Giles, Angel 

Type: Crossover -- Highlander/Buffy the Vampire Slayer 
Rating: Adult (language, violence, m/f sex) 

Symbols: Text in **'s are character thoughts and/or feelings.  Text in 
<< >>'s  are overheard thoughts.  Text in *** ***'s are transmitted 

------------------------------((Part One))-----------------------------

Because I could not stop for Death, 
He kindly stopped for me; 
The carriage held but just ourselves 
And Immortality. 

We slowly drove, he knew no haste, 
And I had put away 
My labor, and my leisure too, 
For his civility. 

We passed the school where children played, 
Their lessons scarcely done; 
We passed the fields of gazing grain, 
We passed the setting sun. 

We paused before a house that seemed 
A swelling of the ground; 
The roof was scarcely visible, 
The cornice but a mound. 

Since then 't is centuries; but each 
Feels shorter than the day 
I first surmised the horses' heads 
Were toward eternity. 

By Emily Dickinson 


Angel moaned, attempting to bring his hands up to cover his eyes 
and throbbing head. For a few seconds, all that he could concentrate on 
was the splitting pain inside his skull. He drew his hand down across 
his forehead, smearing the thick liquid that had poured from the gash 
on his scalp. Blood, fresh blood--he could smell it--so he hadn't been 
out all that long. 

Something else fought for his attention. Buffy! He couldn't 
remember... They'd been fighting something... somebody... He couldn't 
remember where they were, what time it was... Where had she gone? 
Angel's first impulse was to stand, to find her; when he tried to move, 
his head and shoulders were too heavy. They felt as if weighted down 
with lead. 

Another wave of red-hot agony washed from his temples to the 
back of his neck; another moan, this one small from lack of 
concentration. Against the pain, he forced his eyes open. His first 
impression was that he had been blinded.  Foggy, burning hot greys 
obscured all but a few shadows. No, not fog... the heat... smoke, fire. 
*Oh God... Where's Buffy?* He tried to move again, with no results. 
Maybe he'd been unconscious for longer than he thought. He could feel 
the heat working its way inexorably closer. Everything in him screamed 
a warning to flee. He was sure, somehow, that he'd been in worse 
situations before, but couldn't bring anything to mind. 

Of its own volition, Angel's arm fell from his head and the 
fingers brushed against something soft, but mostly unyielding...  This 
close, he should have been able to hear her heartbeat. Sudden panic 
added fuel to his efforts. He inched his fingers along her body, 
prodding for some response, for any response. Angel strained forward 
until little red and green spots of light swam in his field of vision. 
At last his fingers tangled through strands of long, soft hair. She was 
whole, intact, as far as he could tell. Whatever rational part was left 
functioning in his mind realized that she would probably survive this, 
even if he didn't. 

Maybe... if he could just... move... Angel managed to raise his 
shoulders a couple of agonizing inches above the floor before gravity 
took over again and his head hit with a dull thud. 

Though he hadn't drawn in a breath, he could feel his lungs 
itching as they slowly filled with noxious smoke.  A dizzy, nauseous 
sensation from the throbbing in his head spread through his entire 
body.  *Damn, there's been so little time...* As soon as the flames ate 
away at the timbers surrounding them, he'd feel their scorching breath 
for a single moment, then be nothing but ash. Seventy years ago, 
perhaps, he would have welcomed the release, even knowing where he was 
destined for. He wasn't ready, not anymore. He didn't want to die. 

Angel wished suddenly that he could remember how he had gotten 
here, wherever here was. Buffy was still unmoving; at least she would 
be spared the torture of feeling her own flesh char and flake off, but 
she would still wake up.  And if she didn't, she wouldn't have to worry 
any more. He closed his eyes, unwilling to stare into the empty 
greyness as those flames crept closer. 

Angel felt only the slightest vibration as Buffy was lifted 
away, drug out of reach of this tenuous grip. Even so, he willed his 
eyelids once again to rise, reveal whatever new threat would be after 
them now, while they were both completely helpless. He could barely 
make out a dim, dark, but solid shadow moving through the haze.  There 
had not been a single footfall to indicate that someone had entered. 
Ever so slightly, he caught a disorienting, unnerving energy from the 
figure that his muddled thoughts would not allow him to identify. 

The stiff crackling of plastic right next to his ear was 
followed only a moment later by his entire body being rolled inside a 
sheet of thick material. Angel struggled as much as he could manage, 
but whoever had gotten to him was not only exceptionally quick, but 
seemed able to almost predict his movements. There was nothing now but 
blackness, and the crackling noises, and movement. The plastic near his 
feet and head was folded inward, completely sealing him off. When he 
felt himself hoisted up, and draped half-length across what he guessed 
to be a shoulder, he kicked out, nearly dislodging the black plastic 
tarp that covered and protected him. 

***Don't struggle, unless you'd like to take up sunbathing.*** 

The thought, threaded so carefully through his own, cleared any 
arguments he might have had.  There was a hint of amusement in it-
silvery and calm-that made the situation seem all the more ridiculous.  
Angel allowed his entire body to relax despite everything, and was 
alert enough to recognize when the girl that was carrying him had 
stooped down to grab Buffy's limp form from the floor. There was the 
sound of breaking glass, then a split second's warmth on the outside of 
the darkness surrounding him. The demon inside him shuddered at the 
feeling, burying itself as deeply within as possible as protection 
against the deadly sunlight. 

With a grunt of pain, Angel felt the landing impact. They must 
have been on the second or third story of a building, at the very 
least; the fall was terrific, yet somehow the grip around his waist was 
never loosened. Scrapings and scufflings of cloth and thick-soled shoes 
on dry grass and dusty pavement were the sounds of the girl getting 
back to her feet. 

Angel lost count of the seconds as he was jostled on the girl's 
shoulder. She was running; for what, he couldn't begin to guess, but he 
allowed himself to hope that it was toward shelter. Occasional shadows 
flitted over the thick tarp, cooling, but giving no indication of 
lasting long enough to rest under. After what seemed an eternity, he 
was dropped gently to a flat surface, and felt Buffy's warm body--he 
could hear her heartbeat now--laid next to his. 

Metal scraping against metal and cement ground in his ears as 
the girl pried a long neglected manhole cover away from its resting 
place. Heavy clunking, then a soft splash below preceded his being 
lifted again. There was only a slight drop this time, and Angel was set 
gently against the side of the sewer tunnel. The black tarp was 
unrolled from around his face and torso, enough so that his first 
glimpse outside was of a vampire-pale face, blood starved, framed my 
glossy black hair and possessing the most intense, sad, ancient eyes he 
had ever seen; all the more shocking in one so young. Teresa Knight. 

She paused only a moment, meeting his gaze, before settling 
Buffy against his side. No smile touched her lips, no expression gave 
away a hint of her thoughts or motives. Silently, she moved a few 
steps, jumped, caught the lip of the manhole with her hands, and pulled 
herself into the sunlight.  


"There was no reported break in, but when I went there this morning, 
the dust was disturbed in some places, and several of the boxes had 
been opened and gone through.  I saw no indication of why she would 
come back, unless she simply wanted to retrieve her belongings," Giles 
commented, looking back and forth between Slayer and vampire and
rubbing his fingers through his hair. 

Buffy shifted uncomfortably against Angel's side where she was still 
hanging.  Since waking up, she'd refused to be more than a few steps 
away, and letting him out of her sight was out of the question.  The 
thought of Teresa Knight back in Sunnydale did not appeal to her in any 
way, shape, or form.  There had to be some reason behind her return 
beyond picking up the things she had, in her mind at least, left behind 
so easily over two months ago. 

"So she's gone again?  Just like that?  Did you find anything out 
about how she knew we were in that abandoned building?"  Angel hugged 
Buffy closer, knowing that this was bothering her a lot more than she 
wanted to let on.  *Not that I blame her.* 

"No, actually," Giles said more to Buffy than Angel--he could see how 
agitated she was--backing up a small step as she bristled noticeably.  
"In a few more days I might have more, but this is the first I've heard 
of her since..."  He hesitated before mentioning anything to do with 
those last few days after the terrible battle that had ended with the 
permanent deaths of Spike and Drusilla; and Angel's soul returning.  
Teresa was now, as far as he knew, Angel's only surviving progeny; the 
others, none with more than the usual allotment of vampiric sense, had 
been easily picked off in the short months without their established 
leaders.  Nothing of that sort applied to Teresa Knight. 

Angel jumped in before anything drastic could happen in the silence.  
"Since she left."  *Left.  It's best just to think of it that way.*  He 
squeezed Buffy's hand, comforting silently.  She knew that the 
connections between Teresa and himself were.. unusual, at the very 
least; extraordinary applying more aptly; far beyond the normal sire 
and progeny.  The prophecy had seen to that much. 

How else could she had managed to find him?  How could she have known 
where he was, and helpless?  The syringe filled with holy water would 
have killed him instantly if they would've succeeded in reaching his 
heart, or injecting more of it, or if he'd been weaker, younger, had 
less reason to live...  The partial paralysis was the least of what 
could have happened to him, and he was thankful enough to be just a 
little stiff and sore.  Once Buffy had woken they'd spent a couple of 
hours trying to maneuver miles of unfamiliar sewer tunnels while the 
daylight held. 

"So what do we do?  I can't just sit around here doing nothing!  Is 
she up to something?  Is there another prophecy?!  Giles, I have to 
know!"  *Or maybe I don't want to know,* her mind whispered silently, 
and just as silently, she ignored the thought.  When Angel's soul had 
been restored, she'd been beyond feeling anger at the girl.  That 
night, all she had seen was her suffering--worse than her own for the 
loneliness.  When Angel and Adam had insisted on caring for Teresa, she 
forced herself to admit that it was for the best.  But when Teresa--and 
all her telepathic powers--had disappeared for parts unknown, some part 
of her had rejoiced. 



Both men cut in at the same time, irritating beyond words for the most 
part, but they did -mean- well.  She sighed, wishing more than anything 
that they hadn't been overwhelmed by some of the last few older 
vampires who'd managed to band together--they'd figured taking down 
their two most powerful enemies in one final, fiery flare would be the 
perfect end.  She'd never even seen Teresa, in truth, she hadn't woken 
up until minutes after the girl had gone, but just knowing that they'd 
been rescued by her...  "Okay, okay.  I get your point.  Giles, if you 
hear anything, you'll be sure to tell me the very next second?"  Along 
with the expression she shot his way, her tone suggested that it was 
more of a demand than a question. 

"Oh, of course.. Of course!"  The relief in Giles's voice was almost 
too evident.  Even if she did have good reason, dealing with her moods 
was not his favorite thing to do.  Even if female Immortals did not 
suffer from the monthly hormonal cycle after first death, they 
sometimes acted like it.  He glanced over at Angel, and was reassured 
to see that he was no longer looking like a pale ghost of his usual 
self.  Teresa had never actually done anything to him, but Giles knew 
that Buffy harbored a deep resentment toward the girl.  She kept a part 
of Angel that she had never been able to touch.  He wouldn't allow it. 

"Anything?"  Buffy asked again, her voice showing the anxiety that she 
never let herself display if she could possibly help it.  Angel 
tightened his grip around her shoulders, rubbing them gently, 
reassuringly.  Suddenly, her entire body tensed, and she whipped her 
head around in the direction of the main entrance. 


The doors to the library burst open without warning to the room's 
other two occupants, pouring in a sudden overwhelming amount of sound 
as three men, none looking to be very old but at least two of them far 
beyond the normally allotted human life span, entered at practically 
the same time.  One, his head of red curls standing out vividly, rushed 
forward, then stopped abruptly a few feet away from the three, eyeing 
Angel warily.  Richie tended to side with Xander, when it came to the 
opinion of Buffy's undead beau. 

Duncan and Methos, better known as Adam Pearson, had fewer 
reservations.  They took in the sight of Angel and Buffy standing 
together and at once breathed twin sighs of relief. 

"Rupert only told us only the bare details over the phone.  We were 
afraid you'd gotten yourself in over your head again.  Came down as 
soon as we could," MacLeod offered, putting a hand on Buffy's shoulder 
in such a fatherly manner that Angel had to bite back a sudden and 
totally uncalled for growl of possessiveness.  "What happened?" 

Methos hung back, unwilling to get too close to the others.  After 
seeing that they hadn't lost anybody, he chose to take the role of 
distant, detached observer.  Ever since that night, and he hadn't been 
back to Sunnydale since... Fighting, he had known, just known, in his 
heart, that everything was lost.  Millennia of life--of memories and 
lost loves, lives he had lived, good and bad--and it all would end in 
one titanic battle against forces that wanted to destroy the world.  It 
would probably have been simple justice, considering his own past, if 
they had failed.  But he had lived, and that wave of evil had been 
shattered.  Spike and Drusilla, made even more powerful by an 
Immortal's blood flowing in their dead veins, had died.  Methos looked 
up at the man--no, the vampire--cradling the Slayer against his side.  
There was no cruel, vicious, corrupt demon controlling the body now.  
It had been locked away, imprisoned for what should be forever by 
magicks that were lost to all but a five thousand year old man...  
Then, however, Angelus, in all his dark strength--more, really, then 
the two other vampires at his side--had sought to bring Hell back to 
reign on earth.  There had been one other, to stand on that side, and 
she, the most powerful, the only one with a soul to wound... None were 
sure of the whole story, but they had finally decided that she had been 
so linked to Angelus that she'd been caught in the psychic backlash 
when Angel's soul had been restored.  She was found, appearing dead to 
all the world--no breath, no heartbeat--and Angel and he had taken care 
of her as best they could, guarding her body; she'd awoken and 
disappeared from Sunnydale only a few days later.  Since then, he'd 
been forced to reevaluate his policy of avoiding danger--he couldn't 
stand by anymore, and let the world die. 

"Jeremy and Olivia, that's what," Buffy answered, her voice betraying 
how angry she was at herself for not having killed them.  "They're the 
only vamps left here over fifty, and they decided that they wanted a 
barbecue."  She sighed.  "They almost got what they wanted." 

"So what stopped them?" Richie asked, glaring sideways at Angel.  
Steadfastly, the vampire refused to return in kind. 

Buffy shifted uncomfortably under the sight of the three other 
Immortals.  She hadn't known them for long, really.  They'd sort of 
'run into' each other in the alley behind the Bronze, their swords 
raised, her ready to stake both Angelus and Teresa.  The girl had 
pulled Angel away before she'd gotten the chance, and left them by 
themselves, all needing explanations. 

"They stabbed Buffy in the back, and injected me with a syringe full 
of holy water," Angel said for her, when she lapsed into silence.  
"Then dumped us in one of the old abandoned warehouses down by the 
docks and set it on fire.  I woke up first; by that time the fire was 
almost to where we were..." 

Giles spoke up, stammering, knowing that he was the only one who could 
handle the situation with some sort of diplomacy.  All the flames would 
be directed at him, but he was used to that.  "Teresa K-Knight has 
returned to Sunnydale.  She-she rescued Buffy and Angel, and dropped 
them off..."  He pondered exactly how to tell the others that she'd 
left them in a sewer tunnel.  "In a safe location.  I went to her 
former residence this morning, and there were some boxes opened, things 
taken, but nothing of her other than that." 

Methos drew in a quick breath, his expression carefully guarded to 
reveal absolutely nothing of what me might be feeling.  Duncan tensed, 
straightened, and shook his head as if not quite believing what he just 
heard.  Richie, however, instantly and almost instinctively reached for 
the sword hidden at his side. 

"Teresa's back?  And you're not doing anything, not trying to follow 
her at all?  How could you just let her go like that?" Richie furiously 
spat toward the nervous looking Watcher.  His fingers itched to do some 
serious damage, to inflict some sort of pain.  He hated her.  Hated her 
with every part of himself.  She had nearly made him her first 
Quickening, had tried to tempt him to join with her.  He'd refused, 
and, when the fight was over, been the first to advocate her immediate 

Duncan spoke up more calmly, but the expression on his face could be 
either repressed outrage or pain.  He didn't like the thought of Teresa 
Knight much, but he'd seen enough in his four hundred years to know 
that true evil, like true good, is impossible-the girl had come close, 
very close, but there was not one person conscious in that graveyard 
who hadn't felt... something.  "We can stay here for a couple of days, 
or weeks, if need be.  At least I can.  If she doesn't disappear again 
completely, we'll know soon enough." 

"You really don't have to stay, I mean, if you don't want to... I can 
take care of her if she shows up again."  Buffy stood a little taller, 
but that did little to impress any of the other three Immortals, all of 
which topped her physically by a good many inches.  She rubbed at the 
back of her neck, tense as she still was before the Buzz wore off 
completely.  It was always an unnerving feeling for her, like something 
just outside of her senses, and warning of immediate danger at the same 
time-far too eerily like the sensation of a vampire in the vicinity.  
"In fact, I insist." 

"I don't have any plans," Methos said slowly, ignoring the Slayer's 
protests.  Taking a deep breath, he turned to Richie with a look upon 
his face that clearly said 'neither do you'.  "Do you?" 

"Me?  Well, I-" If he had missed the first, not entirely subtle 
expression, there was no way that Richie could have resisted the scowl 
that the old man sent his way.  He returned the favor.  "No, I'm free.  
Completely free," he added under his breath, just loud enough for Buffy 
to hear. 

Duncan let out a silent sigh for his student's thick headedness.  He 
only hoped that in one or two hundred years, if the boy could survive 
that long, he would have a more open view on some things.  In fact, if 
he didn't soon become more accepting, his chances of living for another 
century were slim.  Sometimes right is right and wrong is wrong, but 
deciding which is which is rarely that simple. 

"Look, guys, I'm touched that you came all this way for me and 
everything, and on such short notice, but it's really not necessary-" 

"We're all really glad that you can stay," Angel said, earning himself 
a quick elbow to the ribs from Buffy and a few surprised glances from 
around the room.  He rubbed at his side, grimacing; at least she had 
checked herself from doing any real damage.  When he looked back up 
again, the only one that seemed more out of place was Richie.  Surprise 
had turned to distrust.  He sighed.  *You can't please everyone, can 

"I've got some extra room at my house-" Giles offered, wondering 
himself at Angel's statement.  Maybe not all of the Holy Water had 
worked its way out of the vampire's system. 

Duncan shook his head, relaxing a bit until Richie's anger got the 
better of him, and he turned moments after Angel's statement, stalking 
out of the library.  "We've got an apartment, don't worry.  And enough 
crosses and stakes to equip most of the high school." He glanced at 
Methos, and the ancient Immortal followed his young friend. 

"You don't have to put yourself in any danger for me," Buffy said, 
watching the door still swaying a little on its hinges.  As soon as she 
had said it, she realized how idiotic it sounded.  "Okay, okay... It 
looks like I'm pretty much outnumbered and outmatched on this.  You," 
she said, allowing a bit of a smile to appear and turning enough to 
poke a finger against Angel's chest, "Are going to pay for that." 

Angel raised an eyebrow, not caring how her mood had gone from evil to 
playful, just like that, only enjoying the effect.  He caught her hand, 
drawing it against him and bringing her closer.  "Oh, am I really?" 

"Definitely," Buffy grinned, tilting her head up so that the hair fell 
back and away from her neck. 

"And just how do you propose that I repay you?" He leaned forward, 
never one to turn down an invitation, his eyes taking on a dark golden 
tinge.  Her hand still against his chest, he growled softly.  Her eyes 
lit up with pleasure, and she pushed closer. 

The sound of Giles loudly clearing his throat missed the couple 
entirely.  Beginning to be rather uncomfortable as the two started to 
make out right in front of them, he eyed Duncan, expression pleading 
for help. 

Grinning slowly, MacLeod nodded, and slipped the gleaming katana from 
beneath his coat.  He didn't make a sound as he moved across the floor, 
sword held lightly at his side.  But when he started to raise the 
blade, just to the level of Buffy's neck, Giles's eyes widened in 
disbelief and he started to frantically signal the Immortal to stop. 

Every muscle in her body tensed suddenly at the hairline pressure of 
cold metal against the base of her neck.  Buffy's eyes snapped open, 
and Angel reacted instantly, pulling her away and grabbing for the 
throat of whatever it was that threatened her.  He snarled viciously, 
fangs bared in a feral grimace that showed exactly how deadly they 
could be, and opened his eyes to find himself holding a squirming 
Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod a few inches above the floor.  Even 
in the rather uncomfortable position, the man was grinning, and the 
sword was still grasped firmly in his hand, its tip in just the right 
location to do some damage, even to a vampire.  Angel's face abruptly 
reverted to its human shape, and he released his rather bemused 

"Do I even have to guess what you two where doing when Jeremy and 
Olivia caught up with you?" Duncan almost laughed as Buffy's face 
turned a deep shade of scarlet, and Angel reached up to scratch the 
back of his neck.  A blushing Immortal and an embarrassed vampire made 
quite an unusual picture. 

Giles saw that the situation was becoming absolutely hopeless, and 
literally stepped between them.  Of course, if Buffy really had not 
been paying attention when she was attacked... well, then she had 
gotten what she deserved.  He thought that for a minute, then, trying 
not to think at all, pushed Buffy and Angel gently toward the back of 
the stacks.  "Why don't you two, uh- go home.  We'll- I'll do some, ah- 
research and get back to you two t-tomorrow." 

They didn't have to be told twice.  Vampire and Slayer each offered 
him a look of relief, then took off for the rear door of the library.  
They were holding hands the whole way. 

When Giles turned, MacLeod grinned widely, tucking the katana 
underneath his duster.  "Kids," he offered with a nonchalant shrug.  
Leaving the Watcher speechless, the Immortal started in the opposite 
direction.  The doors swung out after him, then stilled, leaving the 
library in complete silence.  He would never figure out anyone more 
than twice his age or less than half. 

After a few moments of nothing happening, Giles shook his head, and 
reached for the first thing that he could get his hands on.  He came up 
with a thickly bound book entitled 'Hidden Pathways: Demon Roads and 
Convergences'.  "Research... Yes, research," he mumbled to himself, 
blinking.  It was going to be a very long night. 


Teresa chuckled, resting her chin on her folded hands as she watched 
the library slowly empty.  Up on top of the bookcase, not even Methos 
had seen her.  Part of her was surprised at how easy it had been, to 
not move a muscle that would betray her location.  Part of her wondered 
why she had been foolish enough to attempt such a stunt.  If any of 
them had caught her... but they hadn't.  The warnings in the back of 
her mind that had started miles away from Sunnydale had gone unheeded.  
She'd been reckless, and was enjoying it. 

She knew why she had come.  She had to see them, all of them, back 
together again.  It had not been enough, nor for very long, but it was 
everything to her.  Richie - still the hot-tempered youth he had been 
before.  Had he changed at all?  Funny, she could barely remember why 
she'd offered him a chance to join instead of just killing him without 
a second thought.  It didn't matter now anyway.  Angel... she had 
nearly given herself away when he'd come into the library.  *Buffy's.  
He's Buffy's now and forever.  A thread of love to bind the soul, a 
true love's word to save us all...* 

At last, only Giles was left in the room, and a heavy, comfortable 
silence settled in with the bright lamplight and stack of open books.  
She had to leave again - she could feel something pulling her away, 
whispering of a mystery that was too powerful to ignore; but first, 
first she would find out where she had to go afterwards.  Silently, 
Teresa slipped down off of the bookcase and padded across the hard, 
polished floor. 


"When in bluebell woods, protection from the dark fae is often 
warranted.  Be on guard for general mischief, even when walking along 
protected and well-trodden paths.  Above all, neither stray nor dawdle, 
for the incautious traveler will often find himself-" Giles blinked 
suddenly, reaching for his glasses without quite knowing why.  He 
pushed them back up on the bridge of his nose, wondering what could 
possibly have interrupted his train of thought.  Everything seemed 
quiet, still, peaceful. 

A cold shiver went down the back of his spine, forcing him to look up.  
Giles felt his heart give a few spastic beats at the sight.  She was 
hard to forget - that same dark hair, those fathomless blue eyes.  She 
smiled a little, revealing permanent fang-teeth - canines just a bit 
too sharp, too long, to be natural.  Not the normal vampire fangs, but 
then, no normal vampire had ever had those and blue eyes at the same 

"Teresa."  His voice remained remarkably calm; though the girl's 
slight resemblance to Drusilla, the long tresses, the serene 
countenance, pressed itself forward right then.  He had no idea what 
she wanted - whether she was demon, or human, or something else 

"Mr. Giles." 

She sounded so young for a moment.  He almost believed that she was.  
Certainly her body was that of a teenager, but she looked older than 
she had been when she had first died-she couldn't have been more than 
fifteen or sixteen from what Angel had been able to tell him.  
Prematurely aged.  So much like a Slayer, to grow up too fast, but now 
Buffy would never grow old either.  Most Immortals suffered first death 
well into their twenties or early thirties.    Suddenly realizing that 
his thoughts were going off on a tangent, Giles focused again on 

"I presume you heard everything."  He didn't notice the shadow that 
passed over her eyes as the unintended, gentle jibe hit harder than 

"Everything."  Teresa fought to regain control of herself.  She would 
not, refused to simply peer into the Watcher's mind and pick it clean.  
The temptation was there, stronger than usual - second only to the 
vampiric bloodlust, or the Immortal drive for the Quickening once 
combat had begun in earnest.  They were so similar.  Suddenly, even the 
scents long imbedded in the room-old paper, stale coffee, ocean salt-
became distracting.  The perfect, polished exterior cracked a little.  
That part of her that had been screaming for days had buried itself 
deep inside her thoughts.  It was something like the demon inside of 
Angel, hiding from the sunlight, but her demon was trying to come to 
the surface. 

"Then what have you come back for?"  Giles fancied he saw her sway a 
little on her feet, blinking, eyes unfocused as if some small voice was 
commanding her attention elsewhere.  There was so much confusion... 
Part of it was coming directly from her, he realized, and wondered if 
she had any control over her abilities at all. 

Teresa felt vague impressions - memories, ingrained in the very air 
around them, visions of the past minutes that were being eaten away as 
time progressed, her own voice - smug, superior, from what seemed like 
forever ago as she sat in a chair and crowed her defiance.  With each 
passing second, it got a little worse, threatening to break the always 
fragile thread of sanity she clung to.  And in the back of her mind, a 
bit of reason telling her to back away... away from the danger - the 
Hellmouth.  It brought everything else evil to it, in time, why not 

Morphing into her vampire face, growling deep in her chest, and baring 
all too well functioning, perfectly normal fangs, Teresa took one step 
back, and then another, casting her head from side to side like a 
cornered animal.  She watched as Giles shook off the miasma of feeling 
she'd been casting and picked up a wooden stake from the table.  *Good 
for him.* she thought, though she knew if she lost herself right then 
and there he wouldn't stand a chance.  Some piece of her almost smiled. 

"I-I'm trying to..." What exactly was she trying to do?  Curling her 
fingers around a stack of thick, old books, her feet above the level of 
the Hellmouth, she could almost think clearly.  She had had a purpose 
in mind... Giles let the stake slip a little in his hand, and she 
snarled in warning.  He tensed, reacting instinctively as prey to the 
sound of a predator.  "I need to know... what I am... what I am 
supposed to do, now, if anything... how..." 

Giles watched in amazement as the girl's eyes faded back to blue under 
the deep shadow cast by the vampiric brow ridge. 

Taking in a deep breath, and summoning the courage that had failed her 
just moments ago, Teresa looked directly into the Watcher's eyes.  "Mr. 
Giles, I never asked to be this way.  I never wanted to be part of any 
great prophecy, or to be different, let alone to be one of a kind.  I 
have to find out what I am, and how I am supposed to live like this, if 
I am even meant to.  I don't want to suffer, but I cannot end my 
suffering either." 

"You cannot commit suicide, is that it?"  Giles was torn between the 
conflicting impressions she gave off, both supremely dangerous and 
incredibly vulnerable at the same time.  Beneath both was a poorly 
hidden agony.  He would never have advised any other person to take her 
own life, but, then, Teresa wasn't exactly a person.  From his Watcher 
training he knew as much about demons-vampires especially-as anyone.  
"The demon won't let you."  It wasn't a question, and the pain flared 
briefly in her eyes.  She didn't need to answer.  A soulless vampire of 
her age was incapable of ending its own existence, and there must be 
enough in her to hold the body by the same rules. 

"Rupert, there is no spell binding my soul in my body.  Only my 
original Immortality keeps my soul intact.  There is nothing keeping 
the demon in check but my will that it be so.  And this -gift-," The 
bitter sarcasm in her voice rang as perfect truth.  "This awful ability 
that I have had ever since I can remember, that I continue to discover 
more each day... If I cannot control it, if it drives me insane, again, 
then I will become as evil - more evil - than I was before."  She 
licked her lips nervously, blinking so that the golden light came into 
her irises again.  "You know what it is like to hold responsibility for 
a single life.  I hold a host of darkness, the army that I know I could 
call with a single thought, captive, and I've not even the benefit of 
your years.  Mr. Giles, I'm only seventeen years old.  Please, if you 
cannot help me, I have no choice but to take help from you.  I don't 
want to do that." 

Giles stood, motionless, for a long minute, just studying the face in 
front of him.  A prophecy could not be a life, but that seemed to be 
the lot into which this girl had been cast.  He would not be her for 
anything, but he could help her, perhaps.  She didn't want to be evil, 
and that might be her salvation.  Only sixteen... "Can you return two 
days from now, at dawn?  The Hellmouth is at its weakest then." 

"You'll help me?  Really?"  As if freed of a terrible weight, the 
girl's shoulders straightened, and the vampire faded from her face.  He 
would not have felt it, but some warmth crept into her dead flesh. 

The wave of relief that she gave off was potent enough that Giles 
couldn't help but smile.  "I will give you what I can, along with my 
promise that no one else will know, so long as you cause no trouble." 

Teresa laughed, actually laughed, again revealing the fang-teeth, but 
they seemed less threatening.  "Me?  Trouble?  Watcher, you have a vow 
on all I hold dear that I will be no danger to this city.  And even if 
all the demons of Hell break loose tonight, my word is my bond.  I will 
be here at dawn, in two days, and I give my thanks." 

She bowed with a flourish, and turned to leave, but Giles's voice made 
her look back.  "Teresa?" 

"Yes, Giles?"  Fatigue tugged at her now, demanding the rest that she 
usually denied herself, but pride kept her upright.  So many different 
sides, in such a short time... 

"Everyone asks, sometime in his life, who he is.  How do you know that 
you will not be disappointed with what you find?" 

Giles watched as the girl's expression shifted again, this time to 
doubt.  Pain, or was it fear? darkened her eyes.  She looked at him, 
saying nothing, then turned without a word and disappeared into the 
maze of books.  Where she had been, it seemed that a sudden influx of 
air came to take her place and fill the hollow.  There was no sound, 
but he knew that she had gone, and would not be back until dawn, in two 


As soon as the first school bell of the day had rung that Monday 
morning, Xander, Willow, and Cordelia had all been brought up to speed 
on the events of the weekend.  Cordelia had mentioned how fond she was 
of the name Olivia, and something about how it made her think of nice, 
big closets, then left the library.  Xander followed a minute after 
with an apologetic look on his face. 

Willow watched them leave practically together, not moving, but 
seeming rather uncomfortable to Giles.  To Buffy's more appreciative 
eye, she could see how much her friend was hurt-was still being hurt-by 
Xander and Cordelia hooking up.  No one had seen it coming at all, but 
it left little room for doubt as to where Willow ranked in his heart.  
"Wow, that was quick.  Think we should warn the janitors?" 

"Nah.  If they get caught Principal Snyder will just give them a year 
and a half of detention, and sentence them to community service, and 
probably call for a complete crackdown on-" 

"Buffy, I believe we have the general idea, at least," Giles said, 
emerging from behind the stacks with an armful of what looked like 
very, very old books.  "Now, closer to the point..." He set the books 
down, looking around and blinking.  "Where have Xander and Cordelia 
gotten themselves off to?" 

"Broom closet.  Smoochies."  Buffy ran a hand over and snagged one of 
the books.  "'Demonic Possession and Exorcism Rituals of the Far 
East'," she read off evenly, then looked up at Giles.  "Planning a 
little light reading, or is there yet another baddie in town?" 

"Oh, oh!  Research party!" 

Both Giles and Buffy glanced at the red headed hacker who seemed so 
excited at the chance to spend uncountable hours threading through 
barely recognizable texts, some of which really weren't in English. 

"Willow.  Caffeine?" 

"Yeah, sorry. No more, I promise." 

Giles sighed quietly, watching the two girls - Buffy sitting on the 
counter, Willow in her usual seat behind the computer.  He hated 
deceiving them; maybe it wasn't his place to help Teresa, even if she 
deserved it.  He should've turned her over to the Watchers Council when 
she was still weak and helpless, should tell Buffy right now.  He had 
promised.  "No, there're no new demons arriving in Sunnydale that I 
know of, which in and of itself is amazing."  He was a little surprised 
himself.  Almost weekly disasters had come to be a bit of a routine. 

Buffy hopped off the counter and casually wandered past him; Willow 
fiddled self-consciously with the mouse. "I don't know.  I don't like 
it either," she said, shaking her head. 

The Watcher grimaced as the Slayer walked over and stood in the exact 
same place that Teresa had, barely eight hours ago, but she was turned 
away and didn't notice.  They were so physically different, on the 
outside at least.  Inside...  "You've got a chance to do something 
other than slay, Buffy, even if it's just until another demon or fresh 
infusion of vampires new turns up.  I thought you'd be thrilled." 

"Are you sure there isn't something you're not telling me?"  Giles 
took every ounce of self-control not to give himself away, but Willow 
could see the blood drain from his face.  A frown passed over her 
usually cheerful face, the second in less than an hour, but she said 
nothing.  Buffy went on, "Usually whenever there's a little less 
activity than usual, you're the first to jump on the extra training 
bandwagon.  It feels like the lull before a storm, and I can't shake 
it.  Why haven't any Immortals challenged me?  Richie said that he 
didn't have to wait a month, and Duncan fights all the time." 

Apparently the return of her teachers had started her thinking, and 
only now was she letting him know - they'd both begun to keep things 
from each other - not good for a Slayer and her Watcher.  "Richie is, 
well, a bit quick to be judge, jury, and executioner, Buffy; and Duncan 
is old enough to have enemies of his own.  I'm sure in a couple of 
centuries you won't have to worry about waiting between challenges 

Buffy laughed out loud, actually throwing her head back and smiling.  
It was the first time that Giles had seen her laugh without Angel 
around in ages, and it was infectious.  Even Willow's expression turned 
into a slightly embarrassed grin. 

"A few centuries.  Giles, do you have -any- idea how funny that is 
right now?"  She was grinning so hard, her face threatened to crack, 
and it looked for a minute like she might break out in laughter again.  
"A few centuries..." 

Though Buffy had quickly enough accepted that she was an Immortal, 
that she would never grow old, would wake up from injuries that that 
would kill even a vampire, and would have to fight for her life against 
others sometimes a hundred or more times her age, the fact that she 
would live for perhaps thousands of years - if she had the talent and 
the will for it - hadn't quite sunk in yet.  Giles had taken much 
longer to accept her fate, especially since it meant, as far as he 
knew, she would be the Slayer until another Immortal took her 

"No Immortal in his right mind comes within a fifty mile radius of a 
Hellmouth.  According to Adam, it affects them more than a normal human 
being.  If he would've known it was here, they would never have come."  
Giles shook his head, wondering again how many actually knew of the 
existence of the Watchers, and the Slayer, and all the forces that they 
fought against.  He needed a chance to talk with Joe Dawson again.  The 
other Watcher, of a different sort, had been very helpful, even after 
they'd performed the ritual that had prevented the end of the world as 
they knew it. 

Buffy rolled her eyes, some hint of seriousness returning with a 
bright grin that nevertheless conveyed a sense that she was listening 
to him.  "I'm just being a worrywort.  We'll se about Teresa, then-" 
She frowned, and Giles swallowed nervously, the mention of Teresa's 
name bringing the memory back.  "You haven't heard anything about 
Teresa, have you?" 

"No, I'm checking with the police department this afternoon.  It may 
be that she's already moved on." 

The way Buffy studied him suddenly, as stern as any inquisitor's 
glare-he wished that he didn't have to keep anything from her; but she 
would never allow Teresa to escape alive again, if she could help it.  
For a moment, Giles doubted that the Slayer could kill Teresa Knight if 
she tried.  He pushed the thought away. 

"And if I hear even a word of her whereabouts, I will find you, 
immediately."  He could only hope that she would take his word for it. 

She eyed him once more, as if trying to figure out why things just 
weren't sitting right with her, after all, she had her Angel, her 
friends were all alive and healthy, and demon activity was at a low 
point.  *Enjoy yourself.  Go out.  Have friends.  Shop.  Go to the 
Bronze.*  Buffy smiled lopsidedly, then nodded, much to Giles's relief.  
"Okay.  I'm Bronzing it with Angel tonight, meeting up with Adam and 
Mr. MacLeod, but other than that I'll just do a quick patrol then head 
for home." 

"Buffy?" He couldn't stop himself from saying something as she headed 
for the doors. 

"Yes?" She turned back to look at him, her books in her arms, bookbag 
slung over one shoulder, expression unburdened. 

"Uh, um," he began lamely, suddenly wishing he hadn't said anything.  
"Be careful." 

"I always am," Buffy said, touched by her Watcher's concern more than 
worried.  "I'll see you tomorrow."  She hurried out of the library just 
as the bell for the next class began to ring. 

"I-I'll be in after school.  I need some books, for, ah, research," 
Willow said from directly behind him.  Giles jumped involuntarily, his 
heart giving a thud he was sure sleeping vampires could hear for miles 
around.  "I'll be here until five, at least."  His voice, as he 
answered, was unfortunately wavering.  He moved aside so that Willow 
could go forward. 

Willow frowned thoughtfully, her brow furrowed as she looked into 
Giles's face, but she said nothing.  Instead, she hiked the straps of 
her bookbag back up onto her shoulders, and hurried out before she 
would be late for the next class. 

Again, Giles found himself alone in the large and familiar room, 
surrounded by books, newspapers, even the dread machine that Willow 
managed to pry so much information from when he couldn't.  Hesitantly, 
he walked around the counter and sat in the hacker's usual seat, 
pressing the buttons that he knew were supposed to start the programs 
running.  He was rewarded with a few loud beeps, and the computer 
seemed to come to life.  So far, he'd found nothing other than the 
original prophecy to aid Teresa Knight. 


"Methos, you're not the one she attacked, nearly killed!  You don't 
understand what I'm trying to tell you here."  Richie looked at the 
older Immortal, his eyes set hard as stone in an uncompromising face, 
his arms folded over his chest in his best attempt to look 
intimidating.  It wasn't working. 

Methos sighed, trying to pull forward some vague memory that wanted 
examination, but the redhead's insistence was distracting him. "I 
cannot begin to tell you the number of times I've heard that line 
before, and from people who had far greater reason to use it.  Richie, 
she had no more control over her actions then than any other vampire, 
maybe less," he added, though he would not say a fraction of what he 
actually knew.  It would only have made the younger man more 

He'd expected a -little- more reaction than that.  "And how do you 
know that she isn't just sneaking around here, waiting for a chance to 
get her revenge, huh?  How can you be so sure that she's good now, if 
that's even remotely possible?" 

"If she'd really wanted to kill you, she would have done it months 
ago, Richie, when you were lying on the ground, absolutely helpless.  
As soon as she woke up a week later; a day before she disappeared, it 
wouldn't have made any difference.  When we went back to Seacouver, do 
you think she would have any trouble at all tracking us?  We didn't 
save you life; she spared it.  End of discussion."  Methos raised the 
book that he had dragged with him from Seacouver to prevent, if he 
could, any more of the argument that had lasted for nearly forty 
minutes-and he could see continuing until Richie ran out of things to 
say, which he found unlikely.  He only partly understood the young 
man's depth of hatred for the dark-haired girl he'd helped nurse back 
to health. 

He sighed again, this time with more gusto, wishing Duncan would hurry 
up and get back from wherever he'd gotten himself off to.  Nevermind 
that he'd said he was just going to get something for them to eat and 
he would be back in a few minutes.  Richie could more be more than a 
nuisance sometimes.  Usually MacLeod's choice student was as reasonable 
as any Immortal his age could hope to be, but something about the 
situation was making him irrational.  He hadn't seen that sort of lust 
for blood in one of his own kind in... in a long while; and Duncan's 
dark Quickening didn't count.  If Richie could condemn Teresa for her 
crimes, why not Duncan for his? 

Casting an almost disappointed glance at the ancient-timer, Richie 
shook his head and picked up his coat, which served only as a 
convenience to hide his sword in this warm climate.  "I thought you'd 
understand, but I guess I was expecting too much."  He watched Methos 
put down the book, and observe his movements suspiciously. 

"You're going headhunting?"  There was a note of surprise in his 
voice, mixed with some other emotion that Richie interpreted as fear. 
"Are you going to try and stop me?" "No, but I wish you wouldn't." "You 
don't think I could win?" 

"I don't think you have a chance.  I told you that before.  She's not 
a normal Immortal Richie; she's not even a normal vampire.  If she 
truly wants you dead, you'll die.  And if you insist on provoking her, 
it will be on your own head. Or rather, it will be your head that 

Suppressing a surge of white-hot anger, Richie nodded curtly, just 
enough to give the impression that he knew in his own mind that it was 
Methos who was the fool.  He yanked at the knob to the only door of the 
apartment they were all sharing.  "Thanks for vote of confidence."  
What did Methos think he was, a baby?  Some sniveling little punk out 
to take any Immortal head he came across?  Teresa Knight had nearly 
killed him once; he couldn't allow her the chance to do it again-to him 
or anyone else.  Instead of slamming the door behind, Richie closed it 
quietly, and didn't look back as he headed outside, into the heart of 


"Wow, I-you guys... I never expected to see you guys again.  I mean, 
sure, we didn't meet the first time under very prodigious 
circumstances, but this is different.  And-and, we're back where we 
started from.  Okay, now, I know I'm going to mess this up horribly, 
but you speak Latin, right?  Well, I've been learning, sort of, and-" 
Willow, despite the advanced warning, was practically tripping over her 
own words in an effort to find out as much as she could about Buffy's 
teachers and to not say the wrong thing at the same time.  The effect 
was not the one intended, but Methos was smiling all the same, which 
only made Willow blush and him smile more. 

"I'm sure Mr. MacLeod and Mr. Pierson have better things to do with 
their time than listen to you practice your mumbo jumbo, Willow." 

Methos started to say something, but Xander cut him off. 

"Yeah, and you have so much more content-filled conversation to entice 
our friends here.  Everyone knows how near and dear to the heart is 
your cappuccino." 

"Put the gerbil back on the wheel, hello.  This is latte."  Cordelia 
Chase, as perfectly groomed as always with a revealingly cut, tightly 
fitting dress in shades of dark blue and green accentuated with seafoam 
colored splashes, arrived carrying a small tray, seven containers of 
what was sure to be the Bronze's best attempt at the substance balanced 
on top of it.  Xander looked like he was going to say something when 
she cast a smile directly to Duncan before setting the tray directly in 
front of brooding Immortal, but before he could speak, she'd slid into 
the only seat available-next to him. 

MacLeod took one look at the young woman next to him, then returned to 
watching the front door of the Bronze, hoping that Buffy, Angel, or 
Richie would show soon.  He couldn't believe that his student would be 
insane enough to go after Teresa without even a moment's preparation; 
he should never have asked him to come back to Sunnydale. 

"You said you've been studying Latin?  What made you decide to do 
that?" Methos turned his attention back to the red-head who seemed to 
have been excluded from the conversation entirely.  In fact, she was 
looking rather subdued and morose as Xander Harris focused his gaze 
entirely at Cordelia. 

Willow jumped a little, surprised that someone had actually spoken to 
her, and it wasn't a feminine voice.  Usually once Xander and Cordelia 
started their nightly round of 'I hate you's, 'I want to drag you back 
into the broom closet's, it was Buffy who brought her back into the 
conversation.  "Me?  Well, I was, ah-" She debated whether or not to 
tell him about her experiments with magic, then decided against it for 
the moment; she didn't know how he'd react, and didn't want to drive 
him away.  "A lot of those old books, that Giles uses for research... 
they're.. ah- they're in Latin, and I wanted to be able to help with 
the research, for uh- research purposes." 

Methos raised an eyebrow, sensing not only from her stuttering speech 
but from the way she was avoiding his gaze that she wasn't saying 
everything.  He doubted that she would be able to lie outright and keep 
even the partially straight face she was managing, but that didn't mean 
she couldn't be stretching things a bit.  None of the others at the 
table-with Duncan staring mutely at the doors, Xander glaring, and 
Cordelia doing her best to charm the uncharmable-even noticed.  Arming 
himself with the slightest hint of a warm, inviting smile that had 
brought women to him for millennia, he tried again.  "Are you sure 
that's it?" 

*Okay, calm down.  Just a friend.  I mean, he's even ugly.  Look at 
that nose- it's huge...* Willow found her thoughts wandering far, far 
away from their normal, everyday tracks.  "Wha-What?  Oh-" Maybe it 
wouldn't make too much difference... "I'm also doing these spell things 
that are in Latin and I thought it'd be better if I knew what I was 
saying so that I didn't mess anything up or," she blanched suddenly.  

*She's rather sweet when she's like that,* Methos thought, smiling 
again even as her face lost all blood.  "You're being careful, aren't 
you?"  He reached across the table and put one of his large hands over 
her small, delicate ones.  Instead of jerking them away, she merely 
looked up at him, wide-eyed. 

"You mean you're not angry?  Everybody else was... Giles was, Jenny 
was, Buffy was, Angel w- actually Angel just told me that magic was 
nothing to toy around with, and to be careful."  The confusion on her 
face changed as she saw him smile again to something between wonder and 
embarrassment.  Of course he wasn't angry with her.  If she wanted to 
practice magic, that was her choice.  A few centuries ago he might have 
steered her away, hoping to save her life, but the chance of witch-
hunts recurring within her lifetime seemed remarkably slim. 

"That's a very sound piece of advice.  I hope you're following it."  
He didn't release her hands, and she showed no sign of moving them.  
*She's a high school girl.  Get a hold of yourself.  She's too young.*  
Really, she wasn't though, and her actions proved it.  Was she 
seventeen or eighteen?  He rarely thought about it, but knew that not 
too long past she would have been married off and starting a family 
years ago.  Smiling at his own thoughts, he shook his head at the 
folly.  *Let her decide.* 

"I haven't done anything big yet, really.  Just little stuff, you 
know: protection spells, glowing crystals, a couple of glamours..." *I 
hope he doesn't ask what for.  Maybe I've said too much already.  Maybe 
he'll just go and leave me alone here with Xander and Cordelia and Mr. 
MacLeod... okay, not alone, but I wish he didn't have to leave.  Silly, 
he's not going anywhere right now.  Not until they find Teresa.  I 
wonder where his friend is, Richie.  Xander and Richie used to get 
along so well...*  "Did... did you ever practice magic?" 

Methos nodded, and sat up a little in his chair, never taking his eyes 
off of her though his mind drifted back into what was now the long-
vanished past.  "Alchemy, actually, back in the thirteenth century.  It 
wasn't the most productive enterprise in the world, but it certainly 
kept my pockets filled.  Just as I had everybody thinking I was on the 
verge of turning lead into gold with nothing more than peacock feathers 
and a few drops of oil of smoke, I turned up dead at the foot of a 
flight of stairs." 

Willow's eyes widened to the size of saucers.  "Were you really dead, 
or just temporarily dead, or did someone -push- you down the stairs, or 
did you mean to be found dead?"  She blinked rapidly, then blushed and 
added.  "I guess you couldn't have been permanently dead, since, you're 
still alive and all, here, breathing, now." 

"It was foolish of me, actually," said, grinning as he finally took 
his hand away from hers and offered a silly grin in its stead.  "I 
didn't mean to fall down the stairs, but I was carrying all sorts of 
supplies; fourteen speckled robins' eggs, I seem to remember that; and 
my cat, Rex, decided he wanted a share..." He shrugged.  "My 
housekeeper heard me fall, and she'd bought most of the town before I'd 
woken up."  A slight, embarrassed smile touched his lips.  "It takes 
awhile to heal a broken neck, you know, even for an Immortal." He 
chuckled again, noting the ease with which he was telling her things 
that had occurred hundreds of years before she was born, and she was 
accepting them.  Constant proximity to the Slayer must have made her 
more willing to believe in the unbelievable. 

"So what happened then?  It must have been absolute pandemonium when 
you revived in front of all those people."  Willow looked at the table 
for a brief second, and realized her hands were still out there, 
exposed.  It felt wrong, somehow, to leave them like that.  She quickly 
hid them beneath the table, hoping that no one else had noticed. 

Methos thought a moment, trying to remember exactly what they had 
done.  So much of the time, he forgot the parts that bored him.  
"Nothing happened.  When I woke up, everybody was making such a fuss 
that I figured out what they believed had happened, and played the part 
accordingly." His nose wrinkled with the signature of disgust.  "Though 
let me tell you now that digging out of your own grave is never an easy 
task.  I'm glad they didn't try to ram a stake through my heart 
beforehand, or break all of my limbs and tie them together, just in 
case I turned out to be a vampire." 

There was a pause while Willow digested that bit of news.  It was best 
she got over it as quickly as possible; either accepting it or not.  
"They believed in that sort of thing back then, didn't they?  Everybody 
knew about vampires.  It's a wonder they ever had anything-anybody to 
feed off of at all."  She glanced at Duncan, who was still barely 
conscious of those around him, then back to Methos.  "I guess you've 
had to dig yourself out of a lot of graves."  It wasn't sitting easy 
with her, how much alike the two groups really were. 

"Not as many as you might think.  Usually you can run before they get 
a chance to bury you, or just ride a few leagues until you find a place 
where nobody knows or cares who you are, or what's in your past."  
Willow gave him a quizzical look, and he grinned, amending with a wink, 
"Or at least that's what I used to do, before passports and paperwork 
for the unwashed masses." 

A smile returned to the redheaded hacker's face, but the blush was 
absent, and the tension between them melted away as if it had never 
been present.  "Unwashed masses?  I thought cleanliness was supposed to 
be next to godliness." 

"Maybe for some, but I've come to enjoy regular bathing-with water... 
and soap.  Cities that don't reek of open sewers and stables, all the 
finest scents in the world, available within a five minute drive."  He 
chuckled, enjoying the reaction it got from her.  "Or less, if you've a 

"Do you?  Do you have one?" Willow asked, her enthusiasm bubbling over 
the top at the thought of a chance at a new, unfamiliar computer, so 
much so that she forgot her usual shyness. "What kind is it?  Memory?  

A laugh burst out from between his lips, startling everyone, even 
Cordelia, who had managed to get her chair as close to Duncan's as was 
physically possible and proceeded to look annoyed that she had been 
distracted.  "I'm not exactly an expert, but if you'd like I'll be sure 
to memorize all the stats by tomorrow night.  Maybe you'd like to check 
it out yourself.  Computer, this is Willow Rosenberg.  Willow 
Rosenberg, this is Computer.  I'm sure you two will be good friends in 
next to no time."  While he talked, he pantomimed the introductions.  
Willow laughed too, the delightful sound music in Methos's ears. 

Duncan frowned mechanically at the brunette sidling closer to his side 
with every passing moment, then, knowing that she was not likely to 
stop, stilled.  *No reason to give her encouragement.*  His hand 
brushed against the cup of coffee that had gone cold on the table.  He 
picked it up, sipped, and grimaced.  The stuff was awful.  If he didn't 
know better, he's say that Buffy and Angel weren't going to show. 

At the same instant, the staticky, slightly disorienting sensation of 
the Buzz hit both Immortals.  *Finally,* Duncan thought to himself, 
relief his first emotion as Buffy Summers appeared in the doorway 
followed momentarily by Angel, who looked quickly from side to side 
before following.  Methos, who hadn't been facing the entrance, felt 
his heart leap once before he turned to see the Slayer enter.  In his 
thousands of years, that automatic, unrestrainable warning heartbeat 
had saved him more times than he could count. 

Buffy, always one to make a dramatic entrance when she could, strode 
across the short distance between the door and the oddly miss-matched 
group, grabbed the nearest chair, swung it over to the table, and was 
seated in it all in one swift movement.  She was breathless, and her 
hair a mess, but there was a definite smile on her face as Angel, much 
less ostentatiously, joined them. 

"So what's with all the long faces?  And where's Richie?"  Buffy 
surveyed the faces around her, noting that Cordelia and Xander looked 
ready to kill each other, which meant they would sooner rather than 
later be meeting in the nearest dark room, Duncan appeared uneasy, and 
Methos and Willow kept making small, furtive glances toward each other.  
She made a mental note to watch them more closely, then turned and 
smiled at Angel; he did his best to remain unamused, though they were 
both extremely relieved. 

Duncan looked at the small, blonde girl who was the Slayer and also an 
Immortal and his student.  "Richie's gone.  None of us know where."  
Her face fell as quickly as it had been lit up with a smile.  "What 
kept you?  You're nearly a half hour late." 

"We hit a bit of a snag on the way here," Angel offered, his voice 
almost completely devoid of any tone or inflection that could give a 
hint as to the nature of that snag.  He instantly had everyone's 
attention.  "Jeremy is dust, and Olivia is gone.  She's probably in 
Mexico by now." 

"And how exactly did you manage this feat?" Xander scowled, well aware 
that the same pair had nearly made mincemeat out of them just three 
days before. 

"You'll never believe it, but they got in a fight," Buffy said, a 
little enthusiasm returning to her speech.  She glanced over her 
shoulder, but the nearest couple, the only ones within hearing range, 
were seriously not interested in anything but each other.  Her eyes 
went back to the rest of the group.  "All's we were doing was watching 
this scene play itself out.  Olivia staked Jeremy with a broom handle 
after he threatened to chain her to the wall and take over what little 
remained of the nest.  It was funny too; I've never seen a vampire's 
face turn quite that shade of purple."  She couldn't help herself, 
Buffy grinned just remembering it.  "Half of them didn't know what was 
going on, and the other half were trying to either stop Olivia or were 
egging her on.  Then we jumped in, and it was all over in less than a 

"I'll bet you know all about that," Xander mumbled like a surly child, 
his expression never lightening. 

"You'd be the one to talk, wouldn't you Xander?" Cordelia shot back, 
acid on her tongue and with one eyebrow raised, looking down at him. 

Buffy went forward without pausing.  "I must've staked at least five, 
and Angel got three.  Olivia ran for it with about three or four 
others.  We chased them down the block before one of them tripped.  I 
staked her, Angel kept going and claims he got another one, but I 
didn't see it."  She scooted her chair over slightly, so that her thigh 
pressed up against his.  "Olivia got into the car with however many 
were left and took off at a high rate of speed.  I doubt she'll be 
putting in any more appearances in the Sunnydale Demon-O-Rama."

"Wow, so that's a definite good thing, right?  All the vampires are 
taking a vacation from Sunnydale just in time for summer break," Willow 
said brightly, glad that they were at least going to get a temporary 
reprieve from the usual day-to-day Slaying.  A small cloud of doubt 
worried at the back of her mind, though, that would not let her be 
entirely cheerful.  *Not quite all the vampires.*  She didn't look up 
at Angel; she wasn't even thinking of him. 

"Yeah, vampires just don't appreciate the wonderful Sunnydale tanning 
opportunities, do they Will?  Long days, short nights..." Buffy 
chuckled, watching Methos, still Adam Pierson to her, watch Willow.  
"In fact, I was thinking of making a trip to the beach tomorrow, if 
you're up for it?" 

"Me? Tan?  No, no, no... I turn red as a lobster, then peel like a 
snake.  Sunlight and I don't mix well."  Methos grinned at her again.  
*He keeps doing that.  Why does he keep doing that?  It's so annoying 
when he does that.*  "Maybe if you had one of those big beach 
umbrellas, though, that I could sit under.  'Cause that would be cool, 
and I could bring sandwiches." 

"A date it is then.  How about you Cordelia, are you up for a day of 
tanning at the beach with the rest of the girls?" 

"I thought tomorrow was Tuesday.  Don't we usually have school on 
Tuesdays?"  Cordelia, though acting more annoyed than usual, seemed to 
be paying attention. 

"Usually being the key word there," Buffy said before resting her head 
against Angel's shoulder.  He, like the rest of the men present, was 
tolerantly listening on as the females planned away.  "There's some 
sort of teacher in-service tomorrow.  They were blasting it over the 
loudspeakers in the gym every two hours" 

"You mean we don't have to go to school tomorrow?" If Cordelia looked 
a little surprised, she covered it well.  "Of course I'll come.  That's 
the best news I've heard all day." 

"I thought that was when you found out Neimann-Marcus was having a 
half-off sale," Xander grumbled only half under his breath. 

Cordelia turned an icy glare at her boyfriend.  "Nobody wants to hear 
your whining, Xander.  Besides, who gave you permission to talk?" 

"Bite me!" 

"You wish!" 

Methos leaned over slightly so that he could talk to Willow without 
either of the two combatants noticing.  "Do they always act like 
this?" he asked in a soft whisper. 

Willow shook her head in a negative.  "This is actually about as bad 
as it gets.  I don't know what they're fighting about either," she 
answered barely loud enough for Methos to hear, then straightened 
quickly as she saw Cordelia looking her way. 

Thankfully, Queen C wasn't interested in whatever Mr. Pierson and 
Willow were doing across the table.  She was more focused on not 
looking at Xander Harris at all. 

Buffy nearly said something to the couple, but Angel's hand on her 
back warned her against it.  Instead, she decided it was high time to 
get to what the various supernatural members of the group had agreed to 
meet for.  "So were we going to practice, or just sit here talking all 
night?" she asked Duncan, smiling at the dark-haired Scot.  "Not that 
I'm against that in any way, but with Giles off the training kick and a 
general lack of demon activity, I'm raring to do a little damage." 

Duncan nodded quietly, not wanting particularly to leave without 
Richie, but if the boy hadn't shown by now, he wasn't going to at all.  
"The library or the gym?  I've gotten authorization from your... 
principal," he didn't know if that was the right way to describe the 
sniveling little weasel that he'd had to meet with.  "To be your 
private instructor.  I think he believed I was some sort of parole 

"Yeah, that's Snyder.  If the bug up his butt got any bigger he'd be 
walking bowlegged."  Getting a couple of looks from around the table, 
plus from the people who were starting to trickle into the club, she 
added defensively, "Come on, you all know it's true." 

"Are you still up for searching Teresa's house, Adam?" Angel asked, 
starting to break up the groups.  "I was going to check it out myself, 
but since you're here..." He felt Buffy lay a hand on his thigh below 
the table, but this as one time when he would not let himself be 

Methos dared to cast a glimpse toward Willow, whose face had 
immediately fallen at Angel's suggestion though she had put on a mock 
happy smile not a moment afterward.  As much as he wanted to stay, he 
knew that if he passed up this chance he would not be likely to get 
another.  Somehow, the girl's house had become like new holy ground, 
sacrosanct, at least to him alone.  He had no idea how the vampire 

"Let's go."  He stood; grabbing the coat he had casually hung over the 
back of his chair.  The heavy sword inside its carefully hidden pocket 
neither bulged nor unbalanced the garment as he swung his arms into 
position and adjusted the shoulders. 

As if that had been the signal for everyone else to disperse, the 
entire table stood.  There was a moment as Cordelia flipped her 
perfectly done tresses and stalked for the back of the Bronze and 
Xander followed almost immediately after her that the rest of the group 
stopped to watch. 

"Anybody want to take bets as to whether they make out or fight some 
more?" Buffy asked, and received an unenthusiastic response consisting 
of silence. 

"We'll use the library, Buffy.  There's less chance someone will 
notice us there, plus you should always learn to fight in real life 
situations.  Sometimes large amounts of deserted, empty space aren't 
going to be available."  Duncan shrugged on his own coat, let it 
settle, then nodded toward Willow.  "You're free to come with us if you 
would like."  *I wonder if she's always the odd one out.* 

Willow sighed, but nodded in acceptance.  "I should know this stuff 
too.  There's no telling when I might need to fight some demon and the 
only weapon is a large piece of pointy metal."  Not quite knowing that 
she was going to do it, she looked in Methos's direction again.  His 
eyes met hers.  *Why does he keep doing that?*  She hurriedly turned 
the other direction to follow Buffy and Duncan. 

The two men remaining watched the small group until they disappeared 
through the front door of the Bronze, then grew uneasy as the 
comfortable chatter was replaced by a sense of aloneness and not quite 
silence-the teenage hangout was as popular as it had ever been-but of 
being the only ones that could see each other. 

"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Methos asked the vampire, noting 
that his eyes weren't focused on anything, just staring off into space, 
and he wasn't moving. 

Angel shook his head, blinking a few times to clear his vision.  He 
looked at the ancient Immortal, easily twenty times his senior, then 
nodded.  "As ready as I'll ever be." 


Methos turned the keys in the ignition and listened as the jeep 
continued to vibrate for a moment or two, then was silent and dark.  
The light breeze outside that was just stirring the tops of trees 
rattled a piece of loose pipe on the front of Teresa Knight's old home.  
The two men sat in silence for a long, uncomfortable moment, neither 
wanting to be the first to break the eerie stillness that had 
accumulated on the short drive. 

"Giles has already been here once, and I'm sure the police were here 
after she disappeared.  What if we don't find anything?" Angel was the 
first to speak up, but he didn't look over at his Immortal companion, 
and barely raised his voice enough to hear.  It was what they were both 

"If we find nothing, then we find nothing," Methos said matter-of-
factly, and a bit more quickly than he probably should have.  He turned 
his head so that the vampire sitting next to him could not read his 
expression.  "It's the Sunnydale PD, how good can they be?" 

"Giles," Angel reminded. 

"Hasn't been here all day.  She could have come back since he was here 

Angel was doubtful, but looked toward the unassuming house anyway.  He 
remembered the first time he'd really noticed it.  It hadn't been two 
weeks since he'd lost his soul, and the young man that lived inside 
with his parents had had the bad luck to catch his eye.  He'd made him 
a vampire within the hour, and he had been one of the last to be dusted 
after Spike and Drusilla's deaths.  Sometimes his children were too 
tenacious for their own good. 

"You know, I can't even remember were I dumped her father's body.  It 
was just an inconvenience to be gotten rid of, so I could get back to 
her faster.  Anything to please her would've pleased me.  I think she 
must have pushed me into hurrying through the process, because she knew 
what I'd done to Drusilla." 

"I wouldn't put it past her," Methos said flatly, following the 
vampire's gaze through the dim night.  "The last time I-we-saw her, I 
thought that she was the saddest creature I'd ever known.  Now I don't 
know if she was getting into my mind or even if I remember everything 
correctly.  It all sounds absurd by the light of day."  Angel grinned 
lightly at the unintended pun, and Methos couldn't help but smile, 
though the expression faded quickly.  "If I didn't think they'd kill 
each other, then the survivor come after me, I'd introduce her to 

"Cassandra?"  Angel had heard, nearly, the entire story of Methos's 
early days when he rode with the Horsemen, while they were guarding 
Teresa's cold, unresponsive body.  "No offense, but putting those two 
together would be like mixing gasoline and a lighted match.  I'm not 
sure the world could survive it." 

"It was only a thought.  Shall we go in?"  Not waiting for an answer, 
Methos opened his door and got out of the jeep.  Instantly, he pulled 
his coat a little tighter around the neck.  For California in May, 
Sunnydale was ridiculously chilly, and the wind was increasing.  There 
was probably a storm brewing a couple of hundred miles out at sea. 

"Do you really expect to find anything?" Angel asked, shutting the 
jeep door with a sound that seemed horribly loud against the still, 
quiet backdrop.  The whole neighborhood was dead. 

"No.  Do you?" Methos to catch up with Angel, who had wasted no time 
in crossing the short distance between the vehicle and the house's 
front door. 

"I don't know.  I guess part of me his hoping that it'll be empty."  
Angel reached for the brass doorknob, expecting to have to break the 
thing off, or climb through a window, but to his surprise the door 
swung open without even a touch. 

"Oh, I hate it when that happens," Methos said, grimacing as he and 
Angel stepped into the gloom of the shuttered and curtained building.  
The smell of disuse-dust, dampness, and stale air-assaulted their 
nostrils.  In the slight layer of gray fuzz that covered the bare floor 
they could barely make out a large area trampled by many heavily booted 
feet and that was already partially covered with a new layer of dust, 
and a single set of clear footprints that went back into the house. 

"Giles wouldn't have left the door open like that.  He would have at 
least shut it; locked it if he could."  Angel squatted down, examining 
the doorknob from the inside.  "It's not broken." 

Methos fiddled with the light switch, flipping it on and off without 
effect.  "Maybe I should have brought some flashlights." 

"No problem," Angel said, standing up.  He was in full game face, his 
yellow eyes standing out distinctly against his pale skin, glowing 
slightly in the pitch darkness.  Moving past the startled Immortal, he 
headed into the kitchen and returned with two flashlights and a handful 
of batteries.  "I don't know if they'll work though." 

"How did you know-" 

"I've been here a couple of times before, remember?  Besides, people 
always keep these things in the same place."  He handed Methos one of 
the flashlights and a couple of the batteries. 

"There's a couple of boxes in the living room.  I vote we start 
there," Methos said, screwing shut the top to his flashlight and 
turning it on.  A weak beam illuminated the room, cutting through the 
dust that they had kicked up and was hanging, suspended, in the air. 

Angel did the same thing, but his flashlight sputtered, then went dark 
after two or three seconds.  "You can if you want.  I think if we're 
going to find anything, it'll be upstairs."  He rapped on the side of 
the flashlight, getting a few more seconds of dim glow, then nothing. 

"So vampires can't see in the dark?" 

"Not entirely, no.  Not well enough to read by anyway."  Angel laid 
the dead flashlight on the table next to the door, then headed for the 
stairs.  A slight sensation of restriction met him at the foot, and 
realizing he was still vamped, shifted back to his human face.  The 
pressure lifted, and he started up, carefully not touching the 

Though he didn't need as much light as a human being, or an Immortal 
for that matter, Angel had always preferred having some sort of 
artificial source-fire for the longest time; candles or torches, then 
the convenience of gaslights and incandescence. 

There wasn't a whole lot to see, actually; no pictures hung on the 
walls, no knick-knacks rested on shelves or in open cabinets.  In 
whole, the upstairs felt more unlived, while the downstairs was merely 
abandoned.  The difference gnawed at the back of his mind like some 
large, dangerous rodent. 

Avoiding the room that he knew he would have to come back to 
eventually, Angel pushed aside the partially open door that blocked his 
way into a completely unlit room.  It turned out to be almost entirely 
empty-an unmade bed was shoved against the far wall, an empty dresser, 
its drawers hanging open ludicrously, but that was all.  Even the 
closet was empty.  He wondered if it had been intended as a guest room, 
or if this had been Timothy Knight's. 

Angel was silent as he explored the rest of the upstairs.  There 
wasn't a great deal to see.  More empty, dead rooms, the skeletons of 
unused furniture, the stale air--that was all.  He flipped the 
lightswitch in one, but there were no more results than expected.  It 
was only stalling, and he knew it.  Taking a deep, unneeded breath to 
steel himself, he exited and headed into the last room left. 

Almost at once, the difference hit him.  He stood blinking at the open 
window directly opposite the door, the light curtains fluttering 
absently in the breeze.  Instead of uncirculated, damp air, there was a 
faint hint of subtle, feminine scent that he couldn't quite identify.  
For the first few seconds, he entirely expected her to step out of the 
shadows right then. 

When it became evident that she wasn't going to make an appearance, 
Angel shook his head and cast his eyes downward.  What had he been 
thinking?  Clearing his thoughts, he took a resolute step forward, 
making sure not to step on anything in the shadows.  If she had left 
anything of value, it would be in this room. 

There wasn't much here either, no stacks of books that he could see, 
no cryptic drawings, no tiny, meaningful mementos.  He briefly peered 
into the small bathroom that was just off to one side, but it was 
entirely bare, stripped down to the countertops and linoleum.  Again, 
Angel forced himself to really look at everything in the small bedroom 
that had been Teresa's.  The furniture was in the exact same place as 
it had been when he'd first seen it.  Even the bed was unchanged, 
though a piece of clear plastic had been draped over it when the police 
had searched the house.  The bloodstain below was old enough to have 
nearly no scent, but he knew it was there. 

Angel felt a jolt go through him when the small piece of folded white 
paper caught his eye.  It was lying there, innocently enough, propped 
against the headboard.  His face transformed again as he took the note 
to the window to read.  For a few long moments, he simply stood there, 
examining the simple words, and wondering what he should do with them. 


Methos watched his friend, one of the few who knew what he really was, 
fade into the overlapping shadows as the uncertain glimpses from the 
street were cut out by shutters and plastic curtains.  Shrugging off 
the vague feeling of unease-*You've done this plenty of times before 
old man.*-he knelt before the nearest unopened cardboard box and blew 
the dust away from the top. 

The cloud that shimmered off was light, and he ignored it as he lifted 
the worn flaps and peered inside.  There didn't seem to be anything 
interesting, just some casual summer clothing-probably her father's.  
He poked around a bit, lifting them up to see if anything was 
underneath, then moved on to the next box when the search turned up 

It looked older, and was covered with layers of broken tape, the 
bottom few yellowed with age as if it had been used for many moves 
beforehand.  When the flaps were open he saw something that made him 
smile; books.  Lots and lots of books, of all sizes and, from what 
little he could see on top, types.  He took one out.  *'The Dragonbone 
Chair'*  Another.  *'Brave New World'*  Another.  *'For Their Gods: 
Virgin Sacrifices of Vanished South American Cultures'*  Methos had to 
look twice at the last one, then shook his head and put them all back 
into the box. 

After that, he made his way through the various boxes and covered 
baskets, finding more clothes, more books, an empty jewelry box, some 
old papers-nothing unusual except for the occasional unconventional 
title among the more usual volumes.  Finally he came to the last box, 
which had been heavily taped and was still exactly as it must have been 
when Teresa and her father arrived.  Methos pulled the knife from his 
pocket and slashed through the thick, sticky material that had done its 
job well for so many months. 

Another book was the first thing he pulled out-some sort of photograph 
album with a faux Victorian theme.  He opened it, and stared, smiling 
despite himself, at a full page picture of Teresa Knight as a tiny 
baby.  She'd always had that look, apparently, even with little fists 
clenched up by her head and a down of fine black hair on her head, 
those blue eyes were serious and a little too sad. 

The next pages were more pictures of Teresa, some smaller and harder 
to see than others, but all with captions underneath in a fine, spidery 
script that he found impossible to read with only a flashlight.  He sat 
back on his heels, wondering how many times he'd seen such a small pre-
Immortal-not very often, he knew.  They tended to pop up out of what 
seemed like nowhere at seven or eight years old or occasionally in 
their early teens. 

Methos continued to flip slowly through the stiff pages, until he got 
to a point about mid-way through the book when the pictures just 
stopped.  He turned a few pages ahead, but it was still the same.  
Puzzled, he laid aside the book and reached into the box again.  A pair 
of shining bronze candleholders was followed by a mostly full bottle of 
pale gold perfume. 

Near the bottom of the box was a large, flat object that unexpectedly 
dragged at his arm as he lifted it.  He unwrapped several layers of old 
newspaper, then several more of clean, white, but fragile tissue paper.  
Inside a heavy frame of pewter and blackened silver was a portrait of a 
young family-the woman, warm-complected and wearing her long hair swept 
softly behind her shoulders, was holding a tiny baby clothed entirely 
in white.  Behind them, a proud, respectful-looking man had his hand on 
his wife's shoulder.  Both of them were smiling.  Methos ran his 
fingers over the inscription underneath the picture-Timothy, Rose, and 
Teresa Knight - June 20, 1982. 


The sound not five feet behind him brought Methos to his feet 
instantly, still clutching the portrait in his hand.  The sight that 
greeted him wasn't much of a relief.  Angel was looking at him in the 
same way as he had when he'd gone upstairs-in full vamp face. 

"Sorry about that," Angel apologized, holding forward a single sheet 
of paper.  "I found something." 

"So did I," Methos said, holding out the picture of Teresa's family 
and giving it to Angel before taking the note.  "There's more than 
that, and some still in the box, but I don't think we'll be finding 
anything else." 

Angel took the portrait, examining it closely and having to smile at 
the sight.  That was how a family should be, always, together and 
happy.  "I never met her mother.  I don't think she was with them when 
they came to Sunnydale." 

"I don't think she's been around for awhile, Angel.  She probably died 
very shortly after that was taken.  Less than a year, I'd guess."  
Methos shook his flashlight, hoping for a little more from it, but when 
nothing came of it but a few rattles from the batteries inside he 
started to read the note. 

 'I know not everyone will be thrilled with my return, 
  but I can give my assurance that the stay will be brief. 
  I do not wish to cause any more harm than I have already 
  done, so if I possibly can, I will stay out of your lives. 
  Adam, Angel, I know it will be you who will read this, 
  since no one else would either want to enter this house 
  or rummage around enough to find this note. I am only here 
  to try and find myself, and then I will leave.  I wish you 
  both well.  Adam- tell Richie, if you see him, that he's a 
  blockhead.  Angel- tell Buffy that I heard the fire, and 
  I would have saved anyone in that building.  I will see 
  you both again, but not for a long while.  Take care of 

Teresa Knight' 


Willow watched intently as the two Immortals sparred back and forth 
across the cleared floor of the library.  She herself, after having 
moved several times when the swords became too close for comfort, had 
settled on a spot inside the cage that held the weapons and several of 
Giles's more important and fragile books.  It was the perfect vantage, 
actually; it protected her without impeding the view. 

Buffy and Duncan were moving together, neither one able to get in a 
blow that would disable or disarm the other.  Sweat beaded on their 
brows from the intensity of the fighting in the already hot room.  The 
Slayer had long since lost the cocky grin on her face-Duncan was giving 
her no mercy, and had already had his sword at her neck twice.  Each 
time he had drilled her in how to avoid mistakes that would be fatal in 
an actual fight. 

All of a sudden Duncan raised his sword, giving Buffy an obvious 
opportunity to slash across the abdomen.  Willow held her breath as the 
Slayer darted in to make the blow... and missed.  She had 
underestimated the distance and had to take a step forward to avoid 
falling.  Duncan had already made his move, and his katana was hovering 
a bare breath away from the back of Buffy's neck.  Willow started to 
breath again. 

"Sloppy, Buffy.  That's one of the most elementary mistakes a person 
can make."  Duncan had to take a minute to recuperate, catch his 
breath, and moved a bit to allow Buffy to stand.  "Fighting with a 
sword is not all block, thrust, plunge like you're used to with a 

Buffy nodded-it was all she could do until she stopped panting.  Giles 
had never been able to give her a workout like this; he simply hadn't 
the strength.  She had felt it the moment she was lost. 

"You have to stay balanced.  Never overextend yourself like that.  
You'll either loose your head before you know what's happening or your 
sword will be knocked out of your hand.  Either way, you're dead." 

"I didn't think you were so far away.  Another two inches and you 
wouldn't be singing the same tune."  Buffy grinned as he admitted with 
his eyes that she was right. 

"Perhaps," he said, not willing to acknowledge anything more.  "But if 
it came down to two inches, you'd better hope it's not you who's 

"Point taken, but how do I keep from doing that?"  Buffy drew a hand 
across her forehead, and pushed back a couple of straggling tendrils 
that had escaped her hairband. 

"Don't tell me you couldn't feel that you were too far away the minute 
you tried." "Well..." "You have to keep control from start to finish.  
If you know in your mind, and more importantly, in your gut, that you 
can't make it, don't try." 

"Is this the point when you tell me to use the Force?" 

In an appropriately Darth Vader-like voice, "Buffy, I am not your 

At once Buffy cracked up in laughter.  "What do you say, one more 

"If you think you're up for it." 

The two started again, but Willow found her thoughts wandering.  *I 
wonder where Adam is...* 


Richie found himself wandering the bad part of Sunnydale, which was 
indeed only a few blocks away from the good part of Sunnydale.  There 
was easily as much area of the town that was run-down and abandoned as 
was lived in.  It was worse than Seacouver-empty factories, houses 
boarded up and locked, stores with their windows smashed in or taped 
along cracks.  Even if the Hellmouth had never existed, this would have 
been a vampire's paradise. 

After leaving the apartment, he had spent a couple of minutes 
wandering aimlessly, not sure of which way to go.  Returning was never 
an option; he wouldn't until he had her head.  The neat, orderly rows 
of tended gardens and hedges didn't suit his mood any more than he 
guessed they would that of an Immortal demon.  Stopping, and half 
scaring to death, an elderly woman who was slowly making her way along 
the otherwise deserted sidewalk, he'd learned that if he was looking 
for anything out of the ordinary, he'd be best to head toward the 
water.  Wasting no time, he had. 

Now it was several hours past sunset, and there hadn't been a single 
sign of what he was looking for.  A few people had passed him by, in 
pairs or alone.  One, a woman who looked to be in her late twenties, 
eyed him hungrily as they passed each other by, but seemed to decide 
against anything when he returned with as cold a glare as any he'd ever
given.  Vampires.  Vermin. 

The blare of police sirens a less than a block away caught his 
attention for a moment, but not enough to make him miss the sounds of 
someone-or something-rummaging around through an alley just across the 
street.  The streetlight was broken, but the moon was enough light for 
him.  It had to be. 

As he silently moved across the dilapidated pavement, Richie drew his 
sword from beneath his coat, only checking around to be certain that he 
was not being observed as an afterthought.  Mac would have called him 
reckless.  He didn't care. 

The usual refuse was in place - broken wooden pallets, cardboard boxes 
filled with all manner of vile trash, a large stack of broken clay 
flowerpots.  From behind a large metal dumpster with green paint 
flaking off in places, the sounds of stealthy movement continued to 
emanate.  Richie was beginning to think that it might not be here, but 
he felt ready to face whatever Hell-beast this damned town flung at 

The sword was gripped strongly in his hand.  Suddenly a small furry 
creature, its tail bushed out to gigantic proportions, darted out in 
close pursuit of an equally fierce looking rodent.  He jumped out of 
the way as the two sped down the alley.  *Nothing but a stupid cat.*  
He felt foolish for having gotten himself into such a situation; his 
face was burning hot and beet red.  At least there was no one around to 
see him, and it was too dark for close observation from a distance 

Before his mind became aware of anything, the flesh at the back of his 
neck had broken out in goosebumps.  The Buzz of another Immortal 
surrounded him only an instant before a whoosh of cold air and a heavy 
sound announced the arrival of someone who had jumped from the building 
behind him.  He whipped around, sword at the ready. 

"You really are a prick, you know?  I can't believe I offered you your 

Richie swung without preliminaries, and Teresa jumped back, making no 
attempt to retaliate. 

"I haven't tried before, but I'm almost certain if I really wanted to 
I could fry your mind." 

"I'd like to see you try." 

He felt a jab of sharp, tingling pain that wasn't exactly physical, 
but seemed to center in the front of his head and disorient him 
nonetheless.  It was a silent scream, inside his mind. 

"Had enough?" 

"I came here to fight, not play." 

Richie noticed only when Teresa pulled the sword from beneath her 
simple black coat that she was wearing a dress of pale, antique white 
satin and lace.  The choice struck him as insolent, somehow. 

"Though obviously you have other plans.  Who are you going to seduce 
tonight, Angel or Methos?" 

There was no immediate response, no spark of rage as he'd hoped to 

"You know better." 

That she was right only made him madder. 

"Fight me." 


"Fight me!" 

Richie sliced open her left cheek with the tip of his sword.  Teresa 
felt the thick, sticky fluid dripping over the pale skin and landing on 
her coat collar.  She brought her fingers up, swiped them across the 
wound, then slowly licked them clean.  The blood was warm as any 
mortal's.  Sparks flickered briefly across the cut, and it was healed. 

"You're not thinking clearly.  You have so much anger inside of you; 
it's clouding your judgment.  What I did to you, I cannot take back.  
If I could make amends then I would, but I know of nothing I can do to 
make things better.  If there was anything, anything in the world that 
was in my power to give you, I would." 

"I want you dead." 

The fight started before another heartbeat had gone by, Richie's sword 
singing through the air with more skill than he'd ever mustered before.  
Twice he thought he would feel the resistance of her flesh being rent 
by the sharp blade, but each time he met only shadow; form without 
substance.  Already his coat was slashed back and front, blood flowing
liberally.  He refused to give up. 

As the combatants locked swords, muscles straining against each other, 
the Immortal panting but the girl not even having broken a sweat, 
Teresa looked into Richie's eyes and saw the flashing rage still 
burning there. 

"I can't give you my life.  It's not mine to give." 

Richie jumped back, leaving Teresa standing firm, the only sign of 
disorder her black hair which went wildly where it pleased.  His sword 
remained up and at the ready, but she lowered hers and raised her chin. 

"And it was alright to take mine?" 

Blue eyes were as calm and collected as at the start of the fight, 
never suggesting that she had just spent the past minutes locked in 
combat.  Teresa sighed softly, the breath barely touching her lips. 

"I was screwed up.  The demon-" 

"You are a demon." 

"I am, aren't I?" 

Teresa allowed her face to morph into the feral, ridged visage of the 
vampire, and smiled to display the fangs. 

"Imagine that." 

"You deserve to go to Hell." 

"I know." 

Richie was struck dumb for a moment, unable to come up with anything 
to say in response.  He muttered a few unintelligible syllables, 
blinking at the same time.  A thought tried to push its way to the 
surface, but was overwhelmed by the flood of disgust and outrage that 
swamped his mind. 

Teresa held her weapon defensively, blocking the first of many 
violent, short blows, then switched, quickly forcing his back to the 
crumbling, greasy brick wall.  She knocked the sword from his hand, and 
pressed her own against his neck.  The breath came fast in his throat, 
but there was no fear at all, only a sort of loathing hatred that 
desired her to burn forever. 

"Go ahead.  You know you want to." 

Teresa snarled, and with her voice altered from the fangs, said, "I 
don't want to kill you, but if that's what you really wa-" 

Pain.  Pain that took over her body and locked her mind on one 
thought.  *Pain.*  Teresa's eyes bulged out from their sockets, and she 
struggled to say something more to Richie.  All that came out of her 
mouth was a thin dribble of blood.  The sword fell from her hand to the 
ground, clattering metal against asphalt.  Unable to do anything else, 
she turned. 

The pale skinned, dark-haired girl standing behind her took a few 
steps backward, eyes wide open, before she regained her senses and 
aimed her fist for Teresa's eye.  She was light-years ahead of that 
move.  With the stake still embedded in her back, its tip poking 
through the front of her chest just over the heart, she ran. 

Richie stopped to look hard at the girl who had interrupted what might 
have been his final moment, picked up his sword, then ran after. 

Faith stood, watching as the young man, some sort of Hunter, she 
decided, moved like the wind in pursuit of the vampire she'd just 
staked.  Funny that, the vampire not turning to dust like a good little 
demon should. 

"They said Sunnydale would be exciting." 

The cat returned to its hiding place, a limp, dead mouse held proudly 
between its teeth. 

"They certainly weren't wrong." 


Teresa had to stop after a few blocks-the loss from the blood oozing 
around the stake was making her weak.  She'd had no problem, even in as 
much pain as she was in, loosing Richie.  He would have never found her 
if she'd not wanted him to.  Ducking in to the back of an unlocked, but 
still used storage building and turning on the light with stained 
fingers, she surveyed the damage. 

The piece of wood was thick, easily the size of a table or chair leg, 
and it had worked its way forward as she ran.  Nearly an inch stuck out 
in the front, covered with red.  Blood saturated her clothing for a 
handspan above and dripped onto the floor.  The trail would be a 
problem if she couldn't stop the bleeding soon. 

Squeezing her eyes shut against the jolt of pain that she knew was to 
come, Teresa let all of the breath out of her lungs, collapsing them as 
much as possible.  Fresh liquid left a puddle smeared on the ground.  
She acted before the fear could freeze her body into motionlessness and 
ran backward at full speed into the wall directly behind her.  Her eyes 
flew open as the stake was pushed another two or so inches forward.  It 
was enough.  Teresa grasped the wooden implement and pulled it out. 

Instantly the hole in her chest poured out what seemed like all the 
blood she had left in her body.  Teresa choked, and coughed again, 
painfully bringing up red vomit.  She collapsed to the ground, gasping 
for the breath that her vampire nature did not need, but her Immortal 
side demanded.  And it was that side that would heal her now.  Already 
the tremendous electricity that coursed through her body was 
concentrating on growing new flesh across the gaping wound. 

Though she felt horribly tired, in a few more seconds the rippling, 
tearing pain had subsided to a throbbing in the muscles and deeper 
tissues as they regenerated cell by cell.  The whole time she remained 
awake, conscious.  An Immortal would have slipped into temporary death.  
A vampire would have disintegrated into a whisper of dust.  *Note to 
self.  Dying-not good.* 

Teresa waited a few minutes to collect her wits and salvage as much of 
the fallen blood as she could reach without stirring more than her 
right arm and fingers.  Finally when she took a deep breath and there 
was no sudden, unexpected pain from the movement, she ventured sitting 

Her head swam and sang, and Teresa was sick again, dizzy, shaking.  
She forced herself off of her hands, up to her knees, then stood 
unsteadily on legs that were determined to bend like rubber.  There was 
nothing in this building to replace her blood-stained dress, shoes, or 
coat.  She didn't fancy spending time searching out new ones or 
returning to her hiding place for replacements.  No matter.  She 
carefully opened her mind, seeking one thread through the multitudes 
that greeted her.  Weak or not, blood smeared and dirty or statuesque, 
she would get a few words in with this new Slayer. 


Faith slapped her remaining stake idly into her left palm as she 
strolled through the mostly quiet back alleyways of California's most 
demon-infested town.  After the encounter less than fifteen minutes 
ago, she was having trouble finding something to keep her interest up. 

"Here demon, demon, demon..." 

Nothing.  Not a sound, a growl, a snarl-not even an evil whisper. 

"Come out, come out, wherever you are." 

Something tapped on her left shoulder.  She spun to the right, knowing 
that whatever it was would regret messing with her.  There was nothing 

"Looking for me?" 

Faith spun again, and saw the vampire she had staked earlier.  She 
barely noticed the dark stain on the already dark fabric of the coat 
that Teresa had pulled close about herself, but she could smell the 
blood.  The bits of bright red fabric sticking through the hole like a 
target to the heart did catch her attention. 

"Yeah, actually.  How come you're not dead?" 

Teresa shook her head and tsk tsked with her tongue.  "Faith, Faith, 
Faith.  Such a name for one of so little." 

Faith scowled, not expecting anything to come of it. 

"Let me explain this to you one more time, since obviously you missed 
it the last.  I'm a Slayer; you're a vampire.  I kill you; I go 

Teresa, feeling the relief of letting her vampire face show, 
backhanded the dark-haired girl, whipping her head around from the 
force of the blow.  She nearly stumbled back into a pile of open and 
scattered garbage bags before regaining her balance and without a 
moment's pause leapt forward, stake firmly in hand. 

"You bitch!  I'm gonna have so much fun killing you!" 

Faith lunged for her heart, the tip of the sharp wooden instrument not 
even grazing her bloody clothes before Teresa caught the arm that held 
it in her hand.  The Slayer made an ineffectual attempt to free 
herself, but the grip was true.  The fingers slowly tightened, 
squeezing, then when that didn't work, starting to crush muscle and 
sinew.  Her body weakened, her will was barely enough to stay her hand 
before breaking the bone. 

"Ow!" Faith yelled, exerting every bit of her Slayer strength to break 
free even as the stake fell from her numbed fingers.  Teresa felt her 
grip loosen, and let go only to immediately catch the girl's arms 
behind her back. 

"Are you always this dense?"  Faith strained her muscles, unused to 
fighting against an enemy with more strength, then used Teresa's body 
as an anchor to kick her legs up, forcing her to take on all the 
weight.  It didn't work-they were too far away from any building to 
gain leverage, and she inevitably returned to the same position. 

"Are you going to do that again?  Because if you want to do this the 
hard way I'm all for chains.  I never got to torture anybody, but if 
you want to be my first..." Grinning, Teresa lowered her mouth to the 
hollow of the smooth, hot neck in front of her.  She ran her extended 
fangs over the skin; not hard enough to draw blood, but enough to make 
her realize that the danger was very real.  The hunger that twisted her 
insides to bits was real.  She had to let her know that this was no 

"I'm going to tell you this once, so you have a choice: you can 
listen, and we can both go on our merry ways afterward, or you can 
fight me, and things can get ugly real quick." 

There wasn't a sound of acceptance or rejection, but Teresa, even 
without Looking, knew that she was listening for the moment.  "I am not 
a vampire.  I'm almost surprised you didn't figure that out when you 
shoved a stake through my heart."  Her expression changed to one of 
guilt and something like embarrassment-hilariously funny on a vampiric 
face.  "Nice arm, by the way.  Those things hurt like Hell going in and 
coming out." 

"Yeah?  Well if you're not a vampire, what are you?" 

Faith started to struggle again, and Teresa pulled the Slayer's left 
arm just a little tighter, a little surprised at her own strength.  
Another centimeter would start dislocating joints. 

"That's what I'm here to find out, numbskull.  And everybody keeps 
bothering me about it too.  It's severely annoying.  Besides, I already 
gave my word-" Teresa wrenched the shoulder out of place as Faith 
attempted to wriggle free of her grasp.  She gave a grunt of pain as 
the nerves screamed out against the abuse, but it was nothing compared 
to what Teresa had just been through.  "That wasn't smart Slayer.  Now, 
I already gave my word that I would be no threat to this city.  I keep 
my promises." 

"I'll never believe a promise made by a demon." 

Teresa's eyes narrowed, but she didn't twitch a muscle that could 
inflict more pain.  "If I am a demon, then I cannot change that any 
more than you can your being a Slayer." 

"Fuck you." 

"Is that an offer?" 

"Not while you're holding me like that." 

"Sorry, you'll have to give me something better than that," Teresa 
chuckled, sending little shots of white-hot pain through the girl's 
arm.  "Demon or no, I'm not interested." 

Faith snorted, ignoring the pain as her shoulder was starting to go 
numb.  "Well that's a first." 

With no warning, Teresa pushed the Slayer's shoulder back roughly into 
place and spun her around, forcing her face to face and eye to eye.  
Carefully she pried her way into the girl's tightly locked mind, 
catching thought after thought as they bubbled to the surface.  The 
invasion lasted only a few seconds, then ended as abruptly as it had 
begun.  Faith scowled darkly, but she had not felt a thing, not even 
known that anything had taken place.  She wouldn't have, unless Teresa 
had chosen to speak telepathically.  There was no reason to. 

"My apologies," Teresa said, blinking as her eyes faded from golden to 
blue.  The words were hard to get out, and she started to back slowly 
away.  "I didn't realize." 

"Realize what?" Faith all but snarled, glowering menacingly like a 
small animal that wants to puff itself up to look more impressive. 

*She's been through a lot.  It takes a lot to live through something 
like that.  I hope she finds someone to help her...*  Teresa suddenly 
knew how close she had come to loosing control over the demon that 
inhabited her body, and shivered.  "Look.  I know you don't trust me.  
You have no reason to.  Nobody does.  I could have killed you, but I 
didn't.  I'm gonna go, and if you try and stop me, I'll be glad for the 

The Slayer stood in exactly the same place, rubbing her bruised 
shoulder and mending her wounded pride.  She knew she was supposed to 
find the town's Slayer-in-Residence, and her Watcher, but that could 
come later.  With what little was left of tonight, she was going to go 
slay as many vampires as she could find and feel the satisfaction of 
their turning to dust at her hands.  


Giles rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and took another long swallow 
from his coffee cup.  The stuff was awful, especially black, and he 
hadn't bothered to add anything to it past three that morning.  He 
probably should have stopped hours ago, but dawn was just minutes away, 
and what little he'd found, he felt, was remarkably insufficient. 

"Mr. Giles?" 

Rupert knew that one of these days instead of just leaping clear into 
his throat, his heart would simply stop.  Steadying his nerves, he 
looked up and caught his breath. 

"You look like bloody Hell." 

Teresa touched the frayed portion of her garments, and felt how the 
fabric was already stiff with the almost entirely dried blood.  An 
indefinable expression somewhere between annoyance and reluctance 
hovered briefly on her features before they returned to their trademark 
stillness.  Just as she hadn't gotten a chance to change her clothing, 
she had yet to see herself in a mirror. 

Giles stood, blinking at the absolute colorlessness of her skin.  
Vampires rarely lived long enough to loose all pigment, but this seemed 
to be coupled with a lack of substance as well.  Even the bluish-purple 
veins he expected to see just underneath the flesh were disappeared.  
When she looked at him, he noted that her eyes were darker--almost, no, 
completely black.  The pupils had dilated to obscure the entire iris, 
disguising their color.  Shaken, he pulled out a thin sheave of papers 
and held them out. 

"I'm afraid I don't have much for you.  There's the prophecy, of 
course, and I've copied most of the surrounding chapter, but I haven't 
gotten a chance to translate it yet." 

"Whatever you can give; it was more than I had before.  A start, at 
least."  Teresa took the papers, not bothering to hide the trembling in 
her hand.  She stretched out the other and grabbed the edge of the 
desk, supporting herself.  There was no more color to loose in her 
face, but her eyes narrowed slightly.  If she didn't get back to her 
blood supply, some food, and some rest soon, she might just collapse on 
the sidewalk, and then where would she be? 

"If you don't mind my asking..." Giles's mind refused to let the 
matter alone, and he didn't want her to go, perhaps forever, without 

"What happened to me?"  Teresa smiled grimly, and pulled her coat away 
from her chest.  The ragged tear though her beautiful white dress was 
easy to see, surrounded as it was with the bloody stain that went all 
the way down the front.  "A stake through the heart." 

"And you're still alive?"  He was incredulous. 

She chuckled softly.  "In a manner of speaking." 


"Buffy, no.  A Slayer, yes." 

Giles frowned, and reached for a single sheet of paper offhandedly.  
"Teresa, another Slayer isn't called until the one before her dies.  
That's impossible." 

"Maybe.  Maybe not.  From my experience, at least, I'd say you've got 
a second Slayer on your hands.  Buffy -has- died, or she wouldn't have 
become Immortal.  What's this?"  She gestured toward the paper that he 
was holding, and after a moment's hesitation, he handed it to her. 

"A map, I believe.  If you can follow it correctly, you'll find an 
ancient library with far, far more to offer you than I ever could.  
Watchers have been searching for it for generations." 

Teresa looked at the deceptively simple drawing, the way clearly 
marked along three separate paths.  There must be something more to it 
than that, or someone would have found it long ago.  "Lost since the 
mid-1500's.  I'm sure if I found this library you'd appreciate my 
return with clearer instructions?"  She grinned at Giles's horribly 
solemn nod. 

"You'd be doing the Council a great favor.  They'd be in your debt." 

"I'm not interested in having anybody beholden to me."  Teresa felt 
the hunger roiling in her belly, and knew she had only a few minutes 
left before she had to be elsewhere.  Her self-control wasn't perfect, 
and the Watcher's heartbeat thudded strongly in her ears.  "But I am in 
your debt, Mr. Giles, for what you've given me.  I may be going far 
away, and I don't know when, or if, I'll be seeing you again."  She 
carefully tucked the papers beneath her arm.  "You need only to think 
of me, and I will return to pay in full." 

Giles nodded, never doubting for an instant that she would.  There was 
a silence as their eyes locked, and he felt that she wasn't probing his 
thoughts, but, instead, reading his face.  Finally, she shook her head, 
and started for the back of the stacks. 

"I hope you find what you're looking for." 

For a moment there was no response, but just as he'd decided that she 
was gone, her answer came back to him. 

"I will find more." 

(End part one)