Title: Who Said You Only Live Once
Posted here: 08/05
Rating: N-17 overall
Content: C/A is the goal, this is an Highlander cross-over.
Spoilers: ATS- takes place in between S2 and S3 (but- I’ve mentioned things learned in Birthday (S3-); However, the important part- no Connor (baby or otherwise) or reappearance of Darla or Groo or anything remotely S4 – or when Wesley and Fred decided to get eye surgery or contacts thereby not needing their glasses: Highlander- I don’t know the episodes well enough to say- the series has ended so there is no chance of anyone being ‘spoiled’ but I have included a brief history of certain characters…and the mention of the demon Ahriman was an arch at the end of S5& S6.
Disclaimer: The characters in the Angelverse were created by Joss Whedon & David Greenwalt. No infringement is intended, no profit is made. Highlander belongs to Gaumount/Davis.
Distribution: Just ask
Notes: if you don’t like crossovers or the Highlander you won’t like this- I hope that you’ll give it a chance but I’ll completely understand if you don’t. Highlander Notes: brief summary for those that are unaware-the Highlander was a show about Immortals- beings that were immortal except they could be killed by decapitation and their purpose was to live for the ‘gathering’ a final battle that left one with the power of all- main character: Duncan Macleod– Highlander- 450 years old-very nice looking- cool- (OK, my opinion). Methos– 5000 years old -yeah- that old. Really a cool character- history- (except- that he was one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Cassandra– almost as old as Methos- the history- Methos with his friends killed her whole village-and I guess her (except she was also an Immortal). I read from the great feedback that either people know all about the Highlander or barely nothing….this part tells a little more in depth about Immortals. Anything that is wrong- sorry to the purist. I’m going on memory and a quick refreshing from episode guides.
Thanks/Dedication: To Dannyblue – Thanks for reading my spirited ideas- more importantly your encouragement.
Cordelia swore that she would scream if Fred asked one more time if Angel was going to return. Cordelia knew that she would slap the young woman if she followed up Wesley and Gunn’s reassurances with the whining question of when.
Angel had only been gone on his self-imposed grief- working through, working beyond-sabbatical for a week and every friggin day of that week the frightened young woman would scamper downstairs whimper her questions then shoot back upstairs or under the table with tear filled eyes.
Cordelia wasn’t completely unsympathetic. Fred had been through a lot. Five years of living in a cave as a fugitive after being a slave in Pylea wasn’t exactly first class treatment at club med. But DAMN’T, the young woman had survived, didn’t that indicate even just a little that Fred had some sort of back bone and sense.
But if the physicist librarian had any steel in her it disappeared as soon as Angel left to go on his grief trip. Fred’s constant flitting around, jumping at every sound, starry-eyed gaze whenever Angel’s name was spoken, and her whining about the lack of the source of her hero worship was getting on Cordelia’s every last nerve. It was making the pounding of her head even more violent. Cordelia wished the young woman back to the hidden depths of her room and her fairytale walls.
Cordelia groaned and ran to hide in the basement from the sight of Wesley and Gunn trying to tempt Fred from under the table with promises of tacos and Angel’s return. The boys could handle Fred- they seemed to want too.
Cordelia kicked at the stone floor, swinging Angel’s sword in a half haphazard motion. Angel never did say whether he’d teach her to fight. She tossed the weapon back on the bench and slumped down in the near by chair. Cordelia grimaced rubbing her face, forcing the pounding in her head to a manageable level. She chewed on one of the pills that now seemed her constant companion.
It wasn’t Fred’s persistent questions that were trying her nerves. It was the fact that Cordelia had them also that was driving her as nutty as the physicist-that and everything else. Angel promised he would be back but Cordelia wasn’t so confident. It was Buffy grief that they were talking about. Cordelia hoped that Angel was taking the time to do what he said- work his way through his sorrow.
But, Cordelia wasn’t positive that he wasn’t just wallowing in his guilt and allowing his brood inclination to convince him that there was no hope in their mission or no reason to continue to try to embrace his humanity or god forbid he blamed her.
Damn, Cordelia and Angel had just gotten back to a friendship that she could revel in and believe and would’ve trusted with her new founded fears. But Noooo, another blonde trauma had to go and ruin it.
Cordelia knocked her head back on the wall, triggering a flare in her headache. Quickly with practiced ease, Cordelia squelched the burning down. God. How bitchy and selfish could she be? She was blaming Buffy for saving the world and dying, preventing Angel’s strong arms from encircling Cordelia and telling her everything would be okay.
Cordelia’s thoughts drifted back to her conversation with Xander. It had been awkward at first but she couldn’t avoid calling him. Cordelia knew that if she felt a sense of loss at the slayer’s death than her former boyfriend must have been truly devastated. Those were the truths she lived with, Angel loved Buffy, Xander loved Buffy- everyone loved Buffy.
Cordelia shook her head, relieving her skull from the ache and resentment. She didn’t want to feel bitter about the blonde young woman and her everlasting grip over the hearts of the men that Cordelia had loved and loved now. Cordelia didn’t want to give blame or accept any. It was life in all of its glorious unfairness, live with it, deal with it, and die with it-that was Cordelia’s motto.
Cordelia twirled her fingers against her temples, no matter her inner turmoil she did believe what she told Angel and Xander- Buffy’s death was horrible, but it hadn’t been wasted. Buffy died protecting the world and those she loved. Buffy needed to be grieved- yes, but she also needed to honored by those she loved by continuing to live and fight the good fight. Cordelia could only hope her own death would be so worthwhile.
Cordelia didn’t know if either man had heard her. She wasn’t sure that Xander even believed her attempts to comfort him, fortunately, Cordelia did know Angel had believed the sincerity in her words, he just hadn’t reacted, just stared at her- his expression unreadable before telling her that he needed this time alone- away from her. Okay. Angel hadn’t actually said that last part, but it was obvious in his broody silence.
The sudden hurt that sprung up at that realization had surprised Cordelia. She hadn’t realized how much she wanted Angel to need her or how much she needed him beside her. God, in his guilt over Buffy’s death would he blame her? He hadn’t been there to save Buffy because he was off in another dimension saving Cordelia.
“Errgh” Cordelia sighed out loud, yanking her hands from her head. The pain was manageable and hiding wasn’t the answer, neither was self-blame. Willow had said that neither Buffy nor any of the Sunnydale gang had called Angel for help. They thought they could do it own their own and Buffy did, she just died.
It wasn’t Cordelia’s fault for standing too close to whatever magic weird mishap that thrust her into Pylea. It wasn’t Angel’s for following to save her. He didn’t know there was a choice to be made- her or Buffy. Cordelia hid her head in her hands. She could never question what Angel’s choice would’ve been if he had known; and pray that he never did either. The answer could kill her.
Angel said he’d return and he that he did believe in the mission. Cordelia had to believe him. Angel needed her- she was vision girl after all. Cordelia silently sighed. She just hoped he remembered that she was his friend too.
The young woman rose to her feet, pain managed and resolve solid for that moment.
Cordelia glanced around, grateful to see Fred sitting at the table rather than under it. The young woman actually seemed to be participating in a disjointed conversation with Wesley and Gunn.
Good, maybe now, Wesley could concentrate on solving their new case.
“Any luck on figuring out how to rid the Cleavers of- Cleavers can you believe it. I almost choked when the guy said his name was Ward- who thought someone would actually name his or her child Ward Cleaver…. I guess it could have been worse- Beaver anyone?”
“That just sounds nasty,” Gunn made a face.
Cordelia rolled her eyes, “Gutter mind.”
“Uh,” Fred looked up in confused interest.
“Nothing, Fred,” Wesley shook his head disapprovingly. “Yes, Cordy, actually, I’ve discovered a potion that will rid the Beaver…I mean the Cleavers’ basement of all the Gorgon larvae. We just need some Xelent root.”
“I’ll go.” Cordelia held out her hand.
“You’ll go to a herb shop?”
“Why not, it’s the only shopping I get to do now a days.” Cordelia was happy for an errand that got her out of the hotel. Sitting around thinking and worrying about Angel was making her anxious and depressed, which was making her testy.
If she didn’t get her mind straight and under control or Angel didn’t come back soon or at least send word, she was afraid that she would descend into true bitch mode. No one needed that. Cordelia quickly chewed another pill.
Cordelia browsed through the magic shop taking her time. Some of the crystals were pretty. Cordelia sighed as she put the shiny purple stone back. Wesley had practically ripped the lovely crystal she had bought off her neck and lectured her endlessly the last time she gave into the urge to by a piece of jewelry at a magic shop.
It hadn’t been her fault- how was she supposed to know that the necklace was a conduit for dark magic, the clerk hadn’t told her. All Cordelia knew was that she could afford it and that it went perfectly with her new blouse.
Cordelia wandered over to the herb bins. Yuck, not so pretty all roots and no leaves or flowers. She fingered the dried gnarly Xentel root. Damn, they were expensive. Cordelia glanced back at Wesley’s instructions.
There went the rest of their not so much petty cash. Cordelia made a mental note to add the cost to the Cleaver’s final bill.
Cordelia turned. Her spine was tingling. Someone was staring at her. Cordelia’s gaze narrowed on the figures of two men. Her beginning glare turned appreciative. They both were very good looking. One, dangerously so, in the Angel-type way, all dark striking looks draped in a leather duster.
His hair was longer than Cordelia usually liked, but the neat ponytail fit the man, just has the coat fit his broad shoulders and his dark eyes- they held as much knowledge and secrets as Angel’s did, if not more, though the stranger’s eyes looked liked they had laughed a whole helluva lot more- maybe even enjoyed life a few thousand times.
Angel’s eyes couldn’t say that- the ensouled vampire dark eyes were too quick to cloud in his patented guilt broody mode. Cordelia drew her eyes away from the man to the other’s companion. His eyes were similar in feel and content to the other, really ‘old’- but not tired old, just knowing old.
He was good looking as well, but not in the same striking way as the darker man, but in that kinda really cool scholarly way, he reminded Cordelia a bit of Wesley. Though, Wesley wasn’t even close too being as comfortable in his skin as the stranger. This guy had confidence in his strengths. Wesley still had a lot to learn.
Cordelia scrunched up her face trying to guess their ages, both seemed several years older than her friends or at least in Angel’s case older than his physical appearance. Cordelia chuckled; trying to imagine how either man would look if they were actually 250 years old. Yeah, right, she got it-dead. Still, it was hard to guess.
Their faces were smooth but their eyes were full of so much experience giving the men an ease of confidence associated with much older and successful men, those two would’ve brought her father and his business partners to their knees in shame. Cordelia frowned again.
Their eyes really did remind her of Angel’s when he was just remembering all that he had seen in his advanced life but not reliving the experience and guilt of Angelus.
Cordelia diverted her glance, blushing slightly, as the men caught her staring. Hey. There was no reason for her to be embarrassed they had started it. She had turned back to challenge their stares, but the men had moved their attention to the old books.
Cordelia looked at the men’s backs. They were talking in a low whisper. Cordelia was curious about what they were saying. Were they talking about her? Oh. Nevermind. Cordelia went back to the bin of Xentel’s. Strange men in an occult shop weren’t her idea of quality dating material- no matter how good-looking or intriguing. They were probably evil or something.
She just hoped that they had been staring because they thought she was attractive rather than a good choice of victim material for whatever evil ritual or thing they probably were planning. Cordelia shook off her interest and bought the necessary amount of Xentel. The sooner she got out of there, the sooner they could complete the Cleaver job and the sooner they could get paid.
“Are you sure?” Duncan said to his companion once Cordelia left the shop.
“Yeah.” Methos continued to browse the book titles. He looked up when he sensed Duncan preparing to leave the shop. “Mac, what are you doing?”
“We should follow her.”
“If she’s a Pre-immortal….”
“What about it?”
“She needs to be…”
“What? Hand held? Mac, I can sense them, but I have no clue when she’s going to experience her first death. Explaining to her before that wouldn’t do any good except freak her out.”
“I know she’s beautiful and you’re chivalrous,” Methos rolled his eyes. “But, Duncan, not every damsel needs to be saved. Anyway, we here for a reason, though I can’t see why Cassandra couldn’t do this little errand herself. Russia has airports. Another damesl you just had to help, uh. What a joke that is- Cassandra a helpless damsel.”
Duncan shot a look a look his friend. “She wants the book on Baba Yaga for her research and I don’t remember her asking you to help her. For that matter, I don’t remember asking for your company.”
“I was bored. Anyway, I like the idea of Cass across the globe writing an encyclopedia on Slavic witches and myths. If she’s preoccupied then she will be less likely to remember that she really hates me and wants my head. “
“She’s given up her revenge, Methos.”
“This century. Damn. I can’t find it in these stacks. Are you sure this is the right store? Let’s…” Methos looked up as Duncan headed for the store clerk. Methos nodded following glad that Duncan was back to thinking about their original purpose.
Methos had found that the many years his head remained attached to his body correlated to a major extent to the many times that he minded his own business.
Methos satisfaction took on a pessimistic spin when instead of asking about the book, Duncan asked about the young woman who had just left.
Methos shook his head. His ‘mind your own business’ rule was long adhered to, there were only a handful people that he would violate it for, if that many.
However, the immortal highlander was one of them. Methos resigned himself to Duncan’s new quest even though he had a bad feeling that it was going to be a lot more complicated and involved than picking up a book for Cassandra.
The clerk’s eyes narrowed over the tortoise rims of his glasses.
“I’ve never seen you in here before. Who are you?” Walter asked suspiciously.
It wasn’t that he believed his client list was sacrosanct. But, the Bandox demon had a healthy respect for Angel. If Walter gave up any information about any of the vampire’s humans and harm came to them and the vampire found out, Walter would be out of business in one simultaneous beat of his two hearts.
And the woman in question- sheesh, from what Walter heard on the street, anything happened to her, that one echoing beat would be stopped by his hearts being ripped out by way of his throat. Then again,
Walter looked at the stack of business cards he displayed religiously by the register. Cordelia Chase had threatened on the pain of siccing the vampire on him to not only display Angel Investigations business cards but also to drop them in every customers bag before they left. Walter had to admire Cordelia Chase. She did what she promised, lying, but getting her point across.
He had refused indignantly after Cordelia refused to give him a kick back on any business generated. Walter quickly changed his mercantile mind when the next night, the vampire barged in the store frightening all his customers and threatening Walter’s life and every limb for hitting on his young employee. Walter shouted through choked breath that it wasn’t true.
Even mentioning that the woman while okay was human and therefore only had two breast- Bandox females had four, why would he want the deficient human. Questioning the woman’s attractiveness caused Walther to be breathing out of his mouth for two weeks as his nose was broken. The vampire seemed to be violently bothered that Walter knew how many breasts the woman had.
Walter had put the business cards up the next day after the vampire’s visit. He also began to admire the woman more as a few months later, Cordelia offered him a small percentage of the business his actions brought the agency. It hadn’t been a large amount of money, but Walter admired her actions and she continued the payments every subsequent few months.
The young woman knew the value of strong persuasion and compensation to others, abet it small. She’d have made an excellent Bandox, except for the two-breast thing, which if asked Walter knew nothing about, regardless of the snug shirts the young woman had a habit of wearing.
All of which meant, Walter was in a dilemma. If these strangers turned out to be bad guys and had plans to harm the young woman, Angel would kill him. But, if they were customers in need of Angel Investigation’s services and Cordelia found out that he turned them away, she would somehow get the vampire to damage him and Walter knew she would find out,
Cordelia had an eerie talent for knowing when he’d forgotten to give a customer a card. And it was more than that she counted every card left when she came to restock and pay him, she some how calculated those that were gone with an amazingly accurate count against how many customers that had come in. That girl could smell profit.
Walter glanced up. The bigger guy was looking ready to burst, the other looked like he could care less. But the pony-tailed guy looked the more dangerous. Walter smiled- he had an idea.
Both men rolled their eyes. “And how much will whatever we ‘buy’ cost us.” The more dangerous asked contemptuously.
Walter pursed his lips. “How would I know until you pick it out? You were looking at the books. Find anything? No. Okay. Here.” Picking up a small-shriveled head key chain. “No special power but it does raise eyebrows. Five dollars.”
Methos took the key chain over Duncan’s glare.
“You’ll tell us for five dollars?”
“I give you what you need if you buy something, I don’t care what. What book were you looking for?”
“The Text of Baba Yaga”
“Ah, the Slav witch; one of the more popular powers in the Central and Eastern Mythology. Some call her a practitioner of the black magic, some claim she has links to the goddess of life, death and rebirth, the evil of her powers determined by those that call for it. Whichever, that book contains many spells and better yet, we’ve got no problem here.” Walter smiled and then frowned. “You better buy something just in case, got to cover my bases and protect my arms and legs from Angel.”
“You want the key chain?”
“Do you have the book?”
“Nope, sold it last week.”
“Fine.” Methos pulled a bill and slammed it on the counter.
“Very good purchase. Like I said no powers, more of tourist thing, but good enough for your particular questions.” Walter rang up the item, putting it in the bag, throwing an Angel Investigation card in it before handing it to the men.
“What was that?”
“That was this,” Walter held up one of the remaining cards in the holder for their inspection. “The young lady that was previously here and I have a standing arrangement, I keep them on prominent display for her and she keeps the…Angel from hurting me. She works there.”
“Angel Investigations? The Angel that you seem scared of?”
Walter grunted. “He’s known to be violent over certain things, the safety of his employees-that girl in particular- very violent. But, they do run a detective agency for those with special needs.”
“Like finding the book you’re looking far. Which shouldn’t be hard since Wesley, who I heard was now the boss, don’t understand how that happened, Cordelia has the business sense and Angel the enforcing manner, but then again I hear tell Wesley’s the brains. He does seem to know his stuff.”
“Since this brainy guy of Angel Investigations did what?” Methos commented realizing that the man hadn’t answered any of the questions about the book’s whereabouts.
“Oh, bought the book you want. He thought some of the spells looked interesting. He’s always buying books.”
Methos shook his head in the wind produced by the fast going convertible. “Looks like we’ll getting involved with your damsel.”
“Methos, she needs someone with her when it happens. The not understanding can drive a person crazy or get them killed.”
“Duncan, immortals have survived the changing fine without a babysitter. Mentors are found or not. Ritchie was more unique than the usual, especially since you didn’t know that he would become an immortal. You cared for him, taught him and…“
“Then killed him.” Duncan said roughly.
“Duncan, that wasn’t your fault and you know it. But, even so, you just may have had to kill him eventually. It’s the nature of the game. There can only be one.”
Duncan slammed his fist against the steering wheel.
Methos looked out over the fast passing horizon. Methos had been a killer, not a warrior, not one that fought for a cause, but just because he could, he continued his lifestyle after becoming an immortal. He had only stopped when he had been tired of it all.
Those years were unimaginable to someone like MacLeod, the killing for pleasure not for honor or defense, consciously being the epitome of evil. The Highlander, the warrior, was so damn honorable and after all this time still so naive.
Methos sighed. He had spent thousands of years avoiding, hiding, just surviving, making no more connections with mortals and immortals than he had to, forgetting that living held an excitement of its own. Then he met Duncan at the height of his weariness. The Highlander had refused to take his head- that one act of mercy drew Methos to the other Immortal and that’s when Methos was reminded that there was more to living than just making it through another millennium.
Methos looked over to his friend. Someday, Methos may be destined to fight Duncan. He would regret that day but he would do his damnest to win, because ultimately, Methos would always want to survive. He chuckled. Methos would lose.
Duncan with all of his nobility and caring was also a survivor but more importantly he had one of the best sword arms Methos had ever seen. Five thousands years of use and technique didn’t quite beat the fire of a warrior’s heart and strength of pure talent. If Duncan were too die it would be because he was broken and the naiveté that made him strong was destroyed.
Methos didn’t particularly want to see the day another Immortal took Duncan’s head- which was why he was concerned about Duncan’s interest in the pre-immortal. Duncan almost broke when he killed Ritchie, his student, his friend and his family. It didn’t matter that it was under the influence of a demon, not Duncan’s own actions.
Duncan was able to recover, but if he were inclined to take this new pre-immortal under his guidance, Duncan would be vulnerable again.