Watching and Waiting

A Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Highlander the Series crossover

Summary:  Buffy's imminent death ("The Gift") leads her _other_
Watcher to reflect on their relationship.

Disclaimer:  I don't own the characters or concepts behind either
Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Highlander.  The people and companies that
do have names like Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Gregory Widen, Peter S.
Davis, William Panzer, Filmline International and Rysher, among
others.  I mean no disrespect, and I'm not gaining any financial
benefit from this.  I'm just having some fun with their toys.

Spoilers:  So many for both series (BtVS through the end of Season
Five; all of Highlander) I'm not going to bother trying to specify
them.  Except for "The Gift" (BtVS Season Five Finale) most of them
are mild.

Acknowledgments:  Thanks to Katie C, Katharyn Rosser, and Wicked
Raygun for beta-reading this for me the first time around.  And to
Saturn Girl for being understanding.

Author:  WyseQuack (
Written:  July/August 2001  Revised April 2003
Rating:  PG-13 for mildly offensive language

Timeframe:  This story takes place shortly - very shortly - prior to
the conclusion of the BtVS episode "The Gift."

So now I'll know.

It's taken over four years for me to find out for certain.  Which,
looking back on just how crazy those four years were, amazes me.

Almost as much as the fact I've managed to keep my own little secret
this long - and counting.  Not that there haven't been a couple of
close calls.  Keeping that damned tattoo hidden gets awkward at times.
Long sleeved shirts aren't always the most comfortable choice for
California heat.

No, that's not the only method I use, but it's the simplest.  And the
shirts get a lot more comfortable when I ask myself whether Buffy will
be wanting an explanation _before_ or _after_ she pounds me into jelly
when she finds out about my skin graffiti.  A vampire slayer who lives
on a Hellmouth gets paranoid about things like tattoos for some
reason.  And secrets.  If paranoid is the right word.  It implies the
fear is unreasonable.  Fear is never unreasonable in this town.

So, why was a Watcher assigned to Buffy Summers in the first place?
What?  No, I'm not talking about Giles.  That's the problem with these
secret organizations - any bunch of johnnny-come-latelys can come
along and start using the same name, causing no end of confusion, and
there's not a whole lot you can do about it.  Okay, it is a bit of a
backhanded compliment to us - we apparently know what we're doing in
the secrecy department.  I still wish Giles' group had been a little
more creative in their choice of name.

Yes, we had the name first.  We go back well beyond the origin of the
English language.  I've never heard Giles mention exactly when his
Council was first formed, but it's just so English - the country -
that it has to post-date the Norman Conquest.

Yes, I know a little more about history than I admitted to on my high
school history tests.  When you're the child of a Watcher (either
kind, I imagine) you can't help but pick up a little history.  You
think twice, at least I did, about drawing possibly unwelcome
attention to yourself by advertising the fact.  If I started to do
well in one subject, my teachers - and parents - might start expecting
me to do well in others - maybe even all of them.

What?  Oh, my mother.  Quite a few Lavelles have been Watchers over
the past few generations.  Because of that secrecy thing, we're pretty
selective about how we recruit.  Which is why a lot of our recruiting
goes on inside our own families.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, about to explain how Buffy wound up with a

It's pretty simple really.  Back when she was at Hemery, not too long
before she torched the gym, one of our guys saw her chop off a man's
head with a butcher knife - after which the man turned to dust.  Since
our guy had been following Mr. Dustpile-to-be because he was a dead
ringer for someone who was supposed to be twenty years dead, he came
to all the wrong conclusions.

If you haven't figured it out for yourself, I'll spell it out:  He
thought he'd seen the end of a duel between two Immortals.  Then,
after it ended, the loser's Quickening ignited the body, turning it to
ashes almost right away.  Or so our guy convinced himself.

It was an easy mistake to make.  He'd never seen a real Quickening - a
lot of Watchers never do - and decided the tales about that had been
exaggerated.  Look, a lot of us wonder why these lightshows don't seem
to attract more attention than they do.   Among those of us who've
never seen one it's a rather common belief that Quickenings are not as
big a deal as advertised.  I thought so myself.

Then Buffy hit town, and I learned just how much I _didn't_ know about
my own hometown.  It became a lot easier to accept things like the
entire population of Paris being so distracted by the blackout that
nobody asked any questions about a freak lightning storm centered on
the Eiffel Tower.

Anyhow, after our man in L.A. witnessed the Quickening-that-wasn't he
tailed Buffy home.  No, she never saw him.  We're good at what we do,
and part of that is not being caught doing it.  So, we learned where
she lived, which let us figure out her name.  I'll admit we were a
little surprised when we found out she really was a high school
student.  It's not an environment many Immortals care for - even the
ones physically young enough to pass for it.

So, we were in the process of putting someone in place when Buff's
marshmallow-toasty approach to vampire extermination got her expelled
from Hemery.  The Summers' women said goodbye to L.A. and hello to
Sunnydale, which just happened to be the hometown of one Karen Harris,
nee Lavelle, semi-retired Watcher, and her not-so-little-boy Xander,

I'd always intended to go to the Watcher Academy after high school,
which was one more reason I never worried about my grades.  Oh, the
Academy prefers people with good grades, but like I mentioned,
ancestry counts for a lot.

Plans changed in a hurry when we found out Buffy was coming here.  We
Watchers are a pretty capable bunch, but we're not above taking
advantage of opportunities that get dropped in our laps.  So I got
tagged as Buffy's Watcher.

It's rare for someone without Academy training to get an active
assignment, but it's not unheard of, especially in circumstances like
mine.  It's generally much less awkward for us if the Watcher is close
to the Immortal's apparent age.  Combined with the fact my mom, who
_did_ have Academy training even if she hadn't been in the field for
over a decade, would be handy for back-up and advice, that made me the
obvious choice.  So, I got my tattoo, and put on the payroll, just
before Buffy arrived.

I wasn't the youngest Watcher in history; I wasn't even the youngest
Watcher on active assignment.  I was one of the youngest, which gave
me a little bit to brag about, and I was being paid basically to get
to know a pretty girl.  Life was great.

Then, I met Buffy, and she left her stake behind the first time we
talked.  I would have understood if she'd been carrying a sword or
even a nice sharp knife, but a stake?!  Color me confused.

Next came that oh-so-strange conversation I overheard in the library
that now seems oh-so-normal.  At the time, I was wondering whether I'd
been made, though I couldn't see how, and Buffy and Giles were setting
me up somehow.  I finally decided it was most likely some kind of
initiation prank.  When Willow wandered off from the Bronze that night
and Buffy started asking about it I figured Will was in on it, too.
She was the one who'd pointed me at the library, after all.

I've lost sleep wondering if things might have turned out better if I
hadn't been so closed-minded.   If Jesse would still have been a
vampire the next day, and a pile of dust the next night.  I've never
reached a clear answer.

I followed Buffy out of school the day of the Harvest as much to prove
to myself I was up to being a Watcher as to help Jesse.  Not that I
didn't want to rescue him, but I knew Buffy would be able to manage
just as well without my "help."  It was starting to sink in with me
that we had no real reason to believe Buffy was Immortal, but nobody
had told me to stop watching her.  Besides, Immortal or not, I thought
her activities might be of interest to the higher-ups.

After we, or rather after Buffy, averted the Harvest, with a little
bit of help from the rest of us, I went home and told my parents the
whole story.   Hey, I already knew they had more reason than most to
be receptive to 'weird'.

They took it pretty well, all in all.  Mom wondered if Buffy might be
an Immortal whose Slayer abilities were related to a strong
Quickening.  There are reports in the Chronicles of Immortals with
rapid healing, or exceptional speed, strength or stamina.  Not that
it's universal; there are disfigured Immortals around.  Xavier St.
Cloud had an artificial hand, Kalas had a badly scarred throat, to
name two, not that either one of them is around any longer.

I didn't think so myself, and after I subtly pumped Giles and learned
of the typical Slayer's abbreviated life expectancy, Mom came around
to my way of thinking.

I wrote up my first report and sent it in, worrying that it would
result in my assignment being the briefest in Watcher history.  Not
only did it raise serious doubts about whether my subject really was
an Immortal, there was the whole believability thing.  There are some
weird things in some of the Chronicles, but I'm pretty sure I'm the
title holder in the category of 'Strangest Initial Report.'

Maybe the fact it was so unbelievable worked in my favor in a strange
way.  If you don't believe the vampire part, you don't believe that's
why you can, on occasion, catch Buffy chopping heads off.  That means
no reason to believe Buffy wasn't Immortal, and therefore no reason to
tell me not to Watch her.  Well, except for the fact I was clearly on
some kind of hallucinogen.

Without waiting for them to ask me, I took a blood test, and had the
results included with my first report.  I felt obligated to do
everything I could to convince whoever wound up reading it that my
report really was true.  It might save lives.

The guy in L.A. was lucky.  He mistook a vampire for an Immortal.  You
think he was the first one to do that?  Me neither.  The lucky part
was he survived the experience.  A lot of others didn't, I'm thinking.
If one person somewhere up the line read my report and took the
warning to heart, I decided it would be worth a little bit of

My report raised some eyebrows when it arrived, but the fact the
details I gave about vampires matched those in certain little known
Chronicles made them stop and think.  I'm not saying they believed me
so much as that they weren't willing to accuse me outright of lying,
but that was enough that they didn't fire me.

I took pity on them and started being selective about just what I
reported.  Oh, the reports I sent in were true, just not complete.  At
my mom's suggestion, I have complete reports I've arranged to be sent
to Regional Headquarters in the event of my death, but I'm not about
to send them in before that.  If I do some pencil pusher will waste my
time asking me if everything I'd reported had really happened.  I
figured I'd spare myself the grief.

Buffy dealt with the Master's flunkies for the rest of the year, not
to mention rescuing my ass from Mantis Lady and reversing the hyena
possession and other fun stuff like that.  I Watched, helped her out
when I could, and managed not to make too big a nuisance of myself at
the other times.

Then came the night Buffy went to face the Master.  And lost.

I got Angel's sorry ass out of self-pity mode long enough for him to
show me the way to the Master's lair, where we found her.  I did the
CPR, but I didn't have a lot of hope it was actually going to work.  I
still don't think it did.  I think Buffy came back on her own.  I just
don't *know*.

But I would think it would explain why Buffy came back from two
minutes of being dead stronger than before.  OK, prophecy explained,
big weight off shoulders, but there's no way she would have realized
that part so fast.  And it makes no sense for that to be part of the
Slayer package.

One girl dies, the next is called.  That's how it works.  No mention
of "but if she doesn't stay dead . . . ".

Not that I don't see a huge flaw in the actual system.  If one Slayer
dies before she's finished heading off an apocalypse du jour, and the
next one is called on the other side of the world, how's she supposed
to get to where she needs to be in time?

The point is, while I couldn't be certain about it, it looked to me
like Buffy was once again the probable Immortal she was supposed to
have been when I first met her.  The Slayer thing was now in addition
to that rather than instead of it.

Not that I considered trying to explain this to Buffy.  She's not
normally the kill-the-messenger type - she's never done anything
permanent to Giles, after all - but she has her limits and I was a
little worried this would push her past them.  I'd pretty much be
saying 'Guess what, Buff?  Not only do you get to spend your nights
battling vampires, you get to spend your days fighting sword-wielding
maniacs who want to chop your head off.  For eternity.  Or until
somebody in one of the two parades after your head finally gets
lucky.'  I could make a pretty good guess how she'd take that.  I also
like my internal organs where they are.  I kept quiet.

Nothing much really changed, except I really started hoping Giles and
Buffy were paying enough attention to swords in her weapons training. 
We dealt with the usual monsters, vamps and tourist demons.  It's all
a little blurry now, except for what my mom said after Kendra showed
up and I told her about the sudden duplication of slayers:  "Trust my
son and his friends to take 'There can be only one', and turn it
upside down, inside out, and backwards." 

Then Angel reverted to type.  That was a fun-filled time in our lives.
Everybody else worried about Angel killing us all slowly and maybe
even turning Buffy before she could bring herself to stop him.  I
worried about a Dark-Quickened Buffy joining Angel's team and there
being nobody around with a snowball's chance in the Hellmouth of
stopping either one of them. 

You don't know what a Dark Quickened Immortal is?  Think of someone
with the charming homicidal personality of your typical vampire, the
same life expectancy, a big, sharp sword and no problems with daylight
or lack of an invite.  They also tend to ignore the fact they're
supposed to restrain themselves on holy ground.  They don't eat blood,
but I still don't want to share a table with one.

Around that time, I had this one nightmare with a Pinky and the Brain
theme.  Buffy and Angel were speaking all the Brain lines in chorus
and Spike and Dru were speaking all the Pinky lines, also in chorus.
It put me off cartoons for over a month.

Finally, the showdown came between Buffy and Angel.  My first, and
maybe only chance to see a real live we-mean-business swordfight, and
I'm too busy med-evacing Giles to appreciate it.  Talk about irony.
Not that I really needed to see it to know which way I was going to be
writing it up.  After all, if Buffy had lost, the end-of-the-world
thing would have made writing up the report rather pointless.

Afterwards, Buff did her Have Stake, Will Travel disappearing act and
we managed as best we could without her.  I reported what I knew,
which wasn't much, I admit, and waited for her to come back or be
spotted, whichever came first.

Eventually, she did come back and everything was right with the world.
Then Faith showed up and my Evil Slayer nightmare wound up coming

We could have handled the start of that whole mess better, I'll admit.
She didn't want to go to jail for killing the deputy mayor.  The cops
didn't really have any solid evidence on her, but we all acted like
her arrest and conviction was all but certain.  I, at least, should
have known better; I've got some special insight on just how
frequently people kill each other without serving jail terms.  If we'd
sat down to think it through we might have been able to help Faith
slide through the cracks.  Considering the allowances we made for
Angel, who'd done far worse, it doesn't seem like such a stretch.

Instead, in well-meaning ignorance we started treating Faith like a
criminal without even realizing we were doing it.  Then we were taken
by surprise when she really started acting like one.  Who'd a thunk
it?  That idiot Wesley didn't help, throwing a torch on the gasoline
leak we'd created, but if I'm honest, I have to admit we started that
leak all by ourselves.  For a bunch of people who save the world on
what seems like a monthly basis, we can be really stupid.

I'm sorry the deputy mayor got himself killed, but Faith shouldn't
have had to pay the whole price for it.  No, she's not blameless, but
let's look at the whole picture:  The man wandered right into the
middle of a battleground, and got caught in the cross-fire. I have a
bit of a reputation for bone-headedness, but even I wouldn't have been
that dumb.
The first thing they teach you at Watcher Academy is when you see two
Immortals with their swords out do NOT get between them.  It's nothing
to do with the non-interference rule; it's plain common sense.
Actually it's not something they teach you; If you haven't figured out
for yourself that being between two drawn swords isn't a good place to
be by the time you to get the Academy, you get a note in your file
that means you will never _ever_ get a field assignment.

Whether or not we accidentally shoved her down the path that led to
the dark side, Faith walked to the end of it all by herself.  Mayor
Wilkins was there to greet her and give her her black hat and a hearty
welcome, but she was the one who went to him.  It worked out well
enough for us in the end, since she turned out to be the Mayor's
Achilles heel, but I don't want to forget that Faith was our friend
once.  When you forget your mistakes, you end up repeating them.  Mom
once said that was the most important thing anyone ever taught her.

I nearly spilled my guts about everything - Immortals and Watchers
alike - when we realized just how old Mayor Wilkins really was.  Then
I started wondering why one of the Immortals we track would want such
a highly visible position as Mayor, even if it was of a fairly small
town.  I held my tongue with the Scooby Gang, but I sent an alert up
to Regional HQ, along with a request for any information they might
have on him.  I won't be surprised if I find out I have a reputation
up there and probably a nickname along the lines of 'Chicken Little.'

They were glad to get a reasonably specific request from me for once. 
The collection of Chronicles is huge - we've been around for a while -
and not terribly well cross-referenced.  It can take a long time to
get a response to a question like 'How many Chronicles contain a
mention of vampires?'

I've sent in a few like that over the years.  I've yet to get a
response quickly enough to be useful.  One of my mom's old bosses, a
guy named Dawson, sent me copies of the Chronicles on one Duncan
MacLeod in response to one of my requests.  He included a note about
certain entries he thought would be of special interest to me.
That's where I found out about Dark Quickenings.  And that demons
actually make occasional appearances somewhere other than Sunnydale.
Not that I was entirely clear on how MacLeod managed to defeat that
Ahriman demon.  I'm just glad he did.

The MacLeod Chronicles were a lot more readable than the stuff in
Giles' collection.  Even if they were nearly as weird in places.  That
guy has a real talent for finding trouble.  Or maybe for having it
find him.  I know some people like that myself.  Hell, I used to _be_
somebody like that.

My girlfriend is over eleven centuries old, even if she doesn't carry
a sword.  Well, not often.  On my bad days, I can almost see us being
used as the basis for a romance novel, a la "Blade of the Macleods".
Yes, I've read it.  Most Watchers have.  Yes, even the guys, though we
don't always admit it.  Not my flavor, but I borrowed my mom's copy
for Anya to read and she loved it.  I never owned a copy myself.  I
said that I had read it, not that I'd bought it.

Yes, Anya knows everything.  About my being a Watcher, I mean.  When
two people spend as much time naked together as Ahn and I do, tattoos
do not stay secret.  She recognized it right off.  I repeat, she is
over eleven hundred years old.  She's had dealings with a few
Immortals - and Watchers - along the way.
No, I haven't told the Watchers all about my girlfriend.  Not even my
mother.  I may have mentioned a couple of incidents with a demon name
of Anyanka, but I haven't mentioned any connection between said demon
and a strange and wonderful girl named Anya Jenkins.  Nor am I going
to.  Not even posthumously this time.

When Ahn told us about Ascencions and how much stopping full-fledged
demons took, I started thinking about how to lure some other Immortal
to Sunnydale, and how to talk Buffy into taking his or her head on
holy ground.  I'll admit, Giles' approach really was a lot simpler.

Especially since we don't have one single report of any Immortal
(excepting Buffy - if she is) setting foot in Sunnydale since the town
was founded.  For what is arguably a race of people determined to
exterminate itself, they're unusually sensible about some things.  If
I could be tortured to death ad infinitum, I'd think about giving the
Hellmouth a wide berth, too.

Crap.  That was Latin.  I'm using _Latin_ in my head.  Correctly - I
think.   I have _got_ to stop spending so much time around Giles.

Of course, we're assuming the reason we haven't seen them is they
haven't been here.  It's possible we just missed them - I can't prove
that my next door neighbor isn't Methos - but it's not likely.

Another plus about making use of Giles' demolition expertise was I
didn't have to break that pesky no-interference rule.  Oh, I'll admit
I've probably bent it into nice and twisty pretzel shapes, but what it
basically means is 'Don't try to influence the outcome of a
confrontation between Immortals'.  Or arrange one in the first place,
which is what I was thinking about.

When I first heard Mom refer to that Dawson guy as Captain Kirk, I'd
thought it was an old boss/employee thing.  Then, I read the MacLeod
Chronicles he'd left with us.   It quickly became pretty clear
afterwards that Dawson ignored the no interference rule whenever he
felt like it.  Something which nearly got him killed on at least one
occasion.  My mom made sure I noticed that part.

Everything considered, If I'd ever had any reason to believe any
Immortal was heading our way, I still would have told Buffy what I
knew, what I suspected and to brush up on her swordplay, rules be
damned.  I'll admit I'm just as glad it never happened.

So, after we blew up Mayor McSnake and the school buiIding, I
celebrated my release from high school by taking a cross-country road
trip.  Or so I let everyone back home think.  Actually, I spent that
summer going through accelerated training at the Watcher Academy.  It
was a small class, for people like me who'd gotten thrown in the deep
end and given field assignments early for various reasons.  The
Instructors didn't waste any time; they wanted us to get back to our
assignments and have those people back under our eyes.  Only now, they
would be properly trained eyes.

I actually enjoyed most of it.  It was fascinating meeting other
Watchers in the flesh and learning about their assignments.  A couple
of them had stories damn near as strange as some of mine.  I found the
self-defence course kind of amusing.  I'd been tangling with vampires
and other horrors for over two and a half years by that point, and
_now_ somebody decides I need to learn how to defend myself?  It was
intense, but rewarding.  The Academy as a whole, I mean, not just the
self-defence class.  But by the time it was over I was ready to
collapse, and I wasn't the only one.

I finished near the bottom of the class, but this time it was because
the class was full of really sharp people rather than a lack of
interest and effort on my part.  I still passed with room to spare.

So I went back to Sunnydale and watching Buffy while I tried to figure
out how to manage in the real world.  Watchers have other jobs for a
reason besides  a public cover; nobody does this for the money.  Maybe
I _should_ have worried more about my high school grades.

On top of finding work and getting to know Ahn better there was the
usual Sunnydale stuff - Buffy's roommate Kathy was a demon, Riley was
Secret Soldier, Buffy's new hero Professor Walsh was really Doctor
Frankenstein, and Dawn turns out to be the Key.  This town is _brutal_
on secret identities.

It's hard to believe Dawn hasn't been around all along.  I know - now
- that my first few years' worth of memories of her were planted, but
they're so _convincing_.  One more thing I don't want to try to
explain to my bosses - and I'm not talking construction.

I've sent in a few requests the past few months for any information
we've got about Glory or the Key.  Not that I even had a name the
first time.  All I got back was 'Can you be more specific?'.

You know that TV show with the sister witches?  The one where they
have a magic book which always tells them everything they need to know
about this week's bad guy?  I hate them.  I _really_ hate them.
Almost as much as our research guys hate me.

Since we were turning up a big, fat zero on our own, we were desperate
enough to go the Council.  Who insisted on doing their review before
they'd share the what.  I wasn't sure I could slide my little secret
by them.  Luckily, Buffy brought them around to our way of thinking
before it really got put to the test.  And we finally found out what
we were dealing with.

Which isn't the same as knowing how to stop her.  But we managed to do
that, too.  Permanently, thanks to Giles.  Yes, I saw.  And the man
made me feel so slimy, when I tried to bring it up.  Not that I needed
much help.

I guess he was just trying to spare us dealing with life's ugly
necessities.  It's a little late for that, buddy.  But I appreciate
the thought.

So now it's come down to this.  I suppose it could have turned out
worse - even a lot worse.  But it could have turned out better, too.  

Buffy's going to hit the ground sooner or later, even if I do seem to
be perceiving everything in super-slow motion right now, and when she
does - CPR isn't going to be an issue this time.  She's going to come
back on her own.  Or she won't come back at all.

If she comes back, she's going to have a lot of questions, and I'm
going to have the horrible privilege of giving her the answers.
That's not going to be fun; I remember how Buffy and Giles treated Ms.
Calendar when _her_ little secret came out.  But considering the
alternative, I'll be happy to do it.

Temporary or not - especially not - I don't want to watch my friend
die.  Again.

But I have to.

I'm a Watcher.

It's what we do.


Author's Afterword:  Please don't bother asking me 'Was she or wasn't
she?'  I don't know myself.  In some stories, like the classic 'The
Lady or the Tiger', asking the question is more important than finding
the answer.  Your author is firmly of the opinion that this is one of
those stories.