A Lone Horseman in Sunnydale Lore Krajsman Subject: A lone Horseman in Sunnydale Author: Lore Krajsman Rating: PG 13 Summary: Methos comes to Sunnydale and all hell breaks loose. Feedback: just send it to firstname.lastname@example.org Archive: Off course just ask Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, Joss does. Nor do I own Highlander or any characters or ideas from that series. Please don't sue me for using it. This is a sequel to another story named Return to Madness. Take my word for it, everything becomes much clearer after reading that one first. A Lone Horseman in Sunnydale A dark figure stood in the shadows, chanting endlessly. His feet stood perched widely in a stream of blood and water. A cloak surrounded his large figure. His eyes invisible under the dark hood. A cauldron filled with liquid copper stood before him. The copper started boiling, bubbling sharply and as he chanted the metal took a life of its own and in it, forms took shape. Surrounded by darkness the figure grabbed in the cauldron and pulled out the forms. His hands came out heavily burned, leaving not much more than the bones beneath but quickly healing in a burst of red lightening. Four masks: One for War. One for Famine. One for Pestilence And finally, one for Death. The remainder of the copper boiled away in angry washes of steam. And at that moment, the hooded man yelled out in an ancient demonic language, "May the first seal be broken." Part one I looked and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (Rev 6: 1-2) Light shone on the streets of Sunnydale. It was yet another overly hot day in California. Outside on several of the lawns sprinklers were having a courageous fight with the heat to keep the grass from dying. In a basement room a young couple was still sleeping. The man was snoring slightly, but that didn't bother his female companion. She was nestled closely against his warm body with a warm contented smile on her face. The sun might have risen to its peak hours ago, but the two of them hadn't noticed it. Even the noise of the alarm hadn't bothered their sleep. They'd stayed up late. Well, "up"... Let's say they were awake (on the couch, on the table and especially in the bed). Xander slightly moaned as he came back to the land of the living. His eyes started opening and he smiled when he felt Anya's body against his own, shrugging off the image of the woman that had been haunting his dreams for what had seemed to be forever. For a moment he enjoyed her presence but then his eyes fell on the clock. In less time than it took to blink he jumped out of the bed, grabbed his pants and started dressing himself. Anya moaned slightly as she felt the cold breeze against her legs that had gotten bare. "Xander?" "Sorry, got to go." He blurted out while running for the door. He was late for his job already but if he showed up he might not get fired. Might. Even that wasn't for certain. Anya fell back on her pillow and right back asleep, holding Xanders pillow in a death grip.. Xander raced to his job. He was working in a bar again, this time as a waiter/dishwasher. He nearly ran into a minivan the way he hastily parked his car. He jumped out and nearly flew in. "Decided to finally grace us with your presence Harris?" For once Xander was smart enough to keep his mouth shut He didn't want to anger his latest boss as well. "If you ever show up this late again, I'll throw you out on your ass so fast you'll be wondering what hit you." The lecture went on for a few more minutes. Xander was able to blank most of it out and just nodded every once and awhile, agreeing with everything the other said. After that the young man ran for his apron and hastily started serving his assigned tables. It wasn't until hours later that he finally allowed himself to be overcome by his exhaustion and dared to sit down for a second. Next to him was a dark-haired man. The guy wore a long dark trencoat over a beige pullover and blue jeans. A glass of beer stood in front of him. Still half filled. Not that that took long to remedy. "Do you know where Stevenson Hall is?" The bartender looked at him with suspicious eyes. "It's one of the frat-houses near campus." He answered in a gruff voice. "Why?" The stranger stayed simply congenial. "My brother said he'd be there. " The darkhaired stranger took another sip from his beer. "Not that he found it necessary to mention where the hell that dorm might be." The big man offered him another beer as he started laughing out loud. "Kids these days. Just no common sense." The dark-haired man took his beer and gulped it down. "I could show you," Xander stated, "who's your brother?" "I doubt you know him. He's new in the area." he took a sip at his second beer looking down at the young man that had dared speak up. "His name's Thomas Moore." Xander was just about ready to tell the man he was right, that he didn't know the guy, when it hit him. "You're Methos?" Before he knew it he was lying on the ground with a knife pushed against his throat. Xander tried to back of, but the ground sat in his way. "Who are you and how do you know that name?" The man hissed. Xander noticed a dark fire in the mans eyes. He gulped, trying to get out of the way of the knife. "Chill man. I'm Xander. I'm a friend of Temlans, sort of." Methos threw him another gaze, looked him over with something in his eyes telling Xander that he didn't like what he saw, and lifted the boy back up. "If I wasn't certain that he could beat me with both hands tied on his back I'd whip his ass for this. He should know better than letting mortals know our names like that." The man started muttering a long list of strange words that all had something to do with cursing his brother to hell. Not exactly the kind of thing you should do when you were standing on the Hellmouth. "One word of advice kid. Never ever mention my name or Temlan's in public." Xander slowly brushed his neck, almost still feeling the cold sensation of the knife against his warm flesh. "I'll remember Me-- Uhm what should I call you?" "Matthew. Matthew Moore. Now mind leading me to my brother." "Sure." Then he remembered. "As soon as my shift is over." "Well I've waited in worse locations." He smirked and ordered another set of beers. "Uhm, is that really a good idea? I mean ..." Xander didn't want to mention it, but with Sunnydale's nightlife in mind... "I don't want it known that I came this close to a Hellmouth, sober." Xander stared at the man in absent disbelief. ******* It took two hours before they left, but by that time Methos was still as sober as when he'd first come in.
Xander kept an eye on the lanky immortal as the man stepped in his car. The way he slumped down like that was almost annoying, it came of so fluidly. "So mister Moore, you're a doctor, right?" "Sometimes." "But your brother trusts you enough to mess with something in his brain." "Temlan trusts me not to cut his head of while he's out of it. That's all." The immortal didn't bother to try a conversation with his driver. He was still annoyed by the idea of having to be in Sunnydale, on top of the Hellmouth. Why didn't he just say no when Temie asked him to come? Better yet, why didn't he just tell the brat to come to Seacouver. Off course after killing Connor... ******* Meanwhile Buffy was facing a couple of vampires in the graveyard, only this time she wasn't alone. A pair of teenagers were fighting alongside her. Temlan picked them out easily. At times as Buffy watched him fight, he reminded her of those fight scenes in the Matrix. These moves were just to impossible to be real. Well, unless you were a 5,000 year old shamanic warrior like Temlan was off course. Lilin on the other hand had a bit more trouble. She still took them out, but it took her a bit more effort. She seemed a great fighter, but unlike her husband she didn't have special psychic abilities or a nearly inhuman fighting skill to help her out. They'd interrupted the vampires in some kind of ceremony. Buffy rolled over a heap of bones that the vampires had been using for it. She wondered what it was about this time and hoped it wasn't the Hellmouth again. Sooner or later they would have to find a way to close that thing. She ducked quickly, to avoid a run in with a sledgehammer. Since when did vampires start using weapons anyway? Well aside of Darla and Spike and... She kicked it in the chest and gave it a good roundhouse twirl against its chin. Then before it could respond she slammed a stake in its heart and took a quick look around to check out how the two ancients were doing. Temlan had just dusted his fourth opponent and Lilin had managed to throw another one on a huge spike sticking out of the fence. The young looking girl seemed to be searching for a stake, so Buffy threw her one of her own. The fight was over in a minute. The slayer went up to the altar, the victim was already bleeding to death. She quickly ripped his shirt and used it to stop the bleeding. "Temlan, help me out here!" She yelled. The ancient immortal somersaulted out of the way of one of the last vampires before landing on the demons shoulders. Before it could grab his feet he gave it a kick in the face and planted a stake in its heart, landing in the place where the vampire had stood only an instant before. He took a look at the boy dying before them. It was too late; even *his* healing abilities would no longer save him. The ancients eyes told Buffy the fact before she even had to ask. Damn, even Parker didn't deserve to die like this. As Lilin killed off the last of the vampires, Buffy looked at the artifacts they'd been using for their ritual. Should she destroy them or not? Chances were that if she did, the situation might get worse. She threw Temlan a pleading glance. He shrugged his shoulders. The shaman had no idea what the vampires had been planning either. The three of them left silently. They'd been to late to save the boy and it was still to wonder if what they'd done had helped a thing. They'd just plainly been too late to do anything but kill the vampires. Some more vamps turned to dust, as if that were reason to cheer. ****** From the shadows a dark hooded man was smiling. The Slayer had done exactly as he wanted. The blood of a sinner, mixed with the ashes of the demon spawn had been the thing needed to call the power of the First. After the three left he kneeled down on the sand and started drawing a circle, using the power generated by the vampire dust tainted blood of the sacrifice. And as he chanted a dark figure appeared. Part two "Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword." (Revelation 6:3-4) When the three got to the Watchers place, both Temlan and Lilin stopped instantly. Both felt the immortal presence. Lilin shivered as she felt it. It was singing inside her mind, crying out as it roamed through her subconscious. She moved closer to her husband Temlan. The ancient boy was as apprehended by the Buzz as his wife was. He too could feel the presence course through every inch of his body but to him it felt like coming home. Buffy froze when she noticed their reaction. "It's Methos." The boy said while entering. "Kéfu!" He yelled out. "Kéfu sù" Came the response. Buffy took a look at the tall dark-haired man inside. The guy was drop dead gorgeous. Tall and lanky, his wet dark sweater covered a well defined chest. No Angel, sure, but definitely something to look at. "Wow!" she let out. Lilin threw her a hard glare but Buffy didn't notice. "Hi, I'm Buffy. Buffy Summers." "Matthew Moore or Methos as the little idiot seems to have told everyone." The immortal grinned as he reached out for her hand without ever leaving his nice comfortable couch. Temlan didn't break away from the glare Methos threw him at those words. He just shrugged and sat down in Giles old rocking chair. Lilin immediately nestled herself on his lap. "So the blond's the Slayer. Kinda old, isn't she?" "Methos!" "What? How many Slayers do you know off that actually reached 20?" "Not that many but that isn't the point, now is it?" He then turned to Buffy. "Sorry but my brother suffers from a terrible lack of respect for hero-types. I think it's because of that time he and the other Horsemen got their butts kicked at Taros." "We did not get our butts kicked. We merely made a strategic retreat." Temlan broke out in laughter. "Is that what it's called, last time I heard, she killed both you and Caspian, threw Kronos in a river and left Silas crippled. If it weren't because she didn't know about immortals, you guys would have been dead." "Horsemen?" Giles muttered. He took another look at the young man whom he'd invited into his home. One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? The man sure didn't look like one of the demons he'd read about. Was he like Loki? But how could he be? The Horsemen were known as the scourge of the ancient world. They'd fought and killed several Slayers but had seemed to stay away from them after Taras. It seemed the chronicles had been correct, they had been defeated. And pretty bad, too, if Loki, no *Temlan* was to be believed. Xander remained in his corner. Yet another member for the Gang. Great. He didn't really see a reason for him to stay. Anya was waiting back home and man was she ready for him. But despite knowing that, he didn't move away from his chair. It was as if something kept him here and it had to do with the man stretching his feet on Giles coffee-table. He slouched back in his chair, trying to think of why this guy seemed so important, but he couldn't seem to catch it. ****** Four men screamed as the vampires brought them up to the circle. All four of them were soldiers or had been soldiers in the past. The first one was a weary old man who'd fought in Vietnam and had lost all his illusions there. He was bleeding from a wound on his head that slouched his already messy rags. The second one had fought in the Golf war, and had returned his chest filled with medals, his heart filled with regrets. He still wore his uniform, but not much gloss was left on it. The third one had fought in Sarajevo and had seen brother fight brother over long gone disputes. His eyes showed the weariness of his heart. The last one was still young and all the fighting he had seen had been here in Sunnydale were he'd been a member of the Initiative. His young innocent face stood out against that of the others. Yet like the other four he too was a fighter. He too had lost to a war. Even though his had been a hidden war. But the one thing all four of them shared was that none of them were here out of their own free will. The demon shouted cries that no human ears could hear and four skeletons appeared in front of the men, forced in the middle of the circle. There was a mixture of swords, knives and guns lying on the ground. Drums started beating and the soldiers heartbeats started drumming right along with it. Before they could stop themselves they started fighting both eachother and the skeletons, slashing violently. The hooded man laughed loudly as they cut eachother to pieces and their blood dripped together. "And thus War was called." A second figure of a man appeared as if brought forth by the blood. Part Three "When The Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, "Come!" I looked and there before me was a black horse. It's rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's wages, and three quarts of barley for a day's wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine." (Revelation 6:1-5) When the three got to the Watchers place, both Temlan and Lilin stopped instantly. Both felt the immortal presence. Lilin shivered as she felt it. It was singing inside her mind, crying out as it roamed through her subconscious. She moved closer to her husband Temlan. The ancient boy was as apprehended by the Buzz as his wife was. He too could feel the presence course through every inch of his body but to him it felt like coming home. Buffy froze when she noticed their reaction. "It's Methos." The boy said while entering. "Kéfu!" He yelled out. "Kéfu sù" Came the response. Buffy took a look at the tall dark-haired man inside. The guy was drop dead gorgeous. Tall and lanky, his wet dark sweater covered a well defined chest. No Angel, sure, but definitely something to look at. "Wow!" she let out. Lilin threw her a hard glare but Buffy didn't notice. "Hi, I'm Buffy. Buffy Summers." "Matthew Moore or Methos as the little idiot seems to have told everyone." The immortal grinned as he reached out for her hand without ever leaving his nice comfortable couch. Temlan didn't break away from the glare Methos threw him at those words. He just shrugged and sat down in Giles old rocking chair. Lilin immediately nestled herself on his lap. "So the blond's the Slayer. Kinda old, isn't she?" "Methos!" "What? How many Slayers do you know off that actually reached 20?" "Not that many but that isn't the point, now is it?" He then turned to Buffy. "Sorry but my brother suffers from a terrible lack of respect for hero-types. I think it's because of that time he and the other Horsemen got their butts kicked at Taros." "We did not get our butts kicked. We merely made a strategic retreat." Temlan broke out in laughter. "Is that what it's called, last time I heard, she killed both you and Caspian, threw Kronos in a river and left Silas crippled. If it weren't because she didn't know about immortals, you guys would have been dead." "Horsemen?" Giles muttered. He took another look at the young man whom he'd invited into his home. One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? The man sure didn't look like one of the demons he'd read about. Was he like Loki? But how could he be? The Horsemen were known as the scourge of the ancient world. They'd fought and killed several Slayers but had seemed to stay away from them after Taras. It seemed the chronicles had been correct, they had been defeated. And pretty bad, too, if Loki, no *Temlan* was to be believed. Xander remained in his corner. Yet another member for the Gang. Great. He didn't really see a reason for him to stay. Anya was waiting back home and man was she ready for him. But despite knowing that, he didn't move away from his chair. It was as if something kept him here and it had to do with the man stretching his feet on Giles coffee-table. He slouched back in his chair, trying to think of why this guy seemed so important, but he couldn't seem to catch it. ****** Four men screamed as the vampires brought them up to the circle. All four of them were soldiers or had been soldiers in the past. The first one was a weary old man who'd fought in Vietnam and had lost all his illusions there. He was bleeding from a wound on his head that slouched his already messy rags. The second one had fought in the Golf war, and had returned his chest filled with medals, his heart filled with regrets. He still wore his uniform, but not much gloss was left on it. The third one had fought in Sarajevo and had seen brother fight brother over long gone disputes. His eyes showed the weariness of his heart. The last one was still young and all the fighting he had seen had been here in Sunnydale were he'd been a member of the Initiative. His young innocent face stood out against that of the others. Yet like the other four he too was a fighter. He too had lost to a war. Even though his had been a hidden war. But the one thing all four of them shared was that none of them were here out of their own free will. The demon shouted cries that no human ears could hear and four skeletons appeared in front of the men, forced in the middle of the circle. There was a mixture of swords, knives and guns lying on the ground. Drums started beating and the soldiers heartbeats started drumming right along with it. Before they could stop themselves they started fighting both eachother and the skeletons, slashing violently. The hooded man laughed loudly as they cut eachother to pieces and their blood dripped together. "And thus War was called." A second figure of a man appeared as if brought forth by the blood. Part Four "Come! I looked and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death and Hades followed on his heels." Willow and Tara looked on in wonder as Lilin and Temlan were dancing body to body. Slowly reflected by the hazy light. Buffy was on her own. Riley was still missing. Xander seemed uncomfortable even with Anya sitting on his lap. He kept stroking through the former demon's hair as if to make certain that she was still there. Methos sat next to them, seemingly amused by his brothers actions on the floor. Temlan had wanted a good night out before going under the knife. He'd go first so that he could perform the procedure for Lilin. For some reason she didn't seem to trust Methos. Tara was looking at the dance floor, but neither she nor Willow dared to take the chance. Friends was fine, but people still looked oddly when two girls showed they felt more for eachother than that. Willow looked at the floor with a certain question in her shy heart and took the decision for them both, pulling Tara up on the dance floor with her. The larger girl didn't really struggle but seemed somewhat uncertain, Willow didn't leave her any doubts and pressed her lips on her lover's. Then Spike showed up at the door. Buffy was the first to notice him. Her bad mood didn't really improve by seeing him. She wasn't sure why, but something in the vampire seemed to set her off even more. Even though she knew it's was to be expected for him to show up sooner or later a part of her got angry just being this close to him. It set off her Slayer sense. She tried to ignore it. He was living with Temlan and Lilin after all. No, she didn't like him; if only he weren't so damn helpless right now. She took another look at the blond punk. The vampire looked ragged along the edges. Something was seriously wrong here. ****** Two dark figures stood waiting silently while a third stood carving of a child's bones. A smile could be seen on the second ones face as the mans scraping tuned through the room. His tongue left his mouth and brushed past his lips. "Soon, War. Soon you shall ride one more." He added the carvings with the mixture that was boiling in front of him, stepping over a girls body that littered the floor. "A virgins blood, a demons spit. The heart of an elder and the bones of a child. All shall be gathered, all shall be brought and Famine will ride again." A shimmery vision of a blond giant appeared in front of them. But the vision would not become clearer. "We will need the soul of Death to join with us. It's a good thing that Loki were kind enough to bring him here." A dark red filled the hooded mans eyes. Part Five "I did it for you." Methos' dark figure was barely more than a shadow as he walked through Sunnydale's streets. His hands in his pockets, shivering against the cold. His face didn't show it, but even now he couldn't be certain what to do. There were no plans, no eventualities to prepare for. The Horsemen were dead. He'd seen them die, he'd killed one of them. Yet something had been taking a strain on the vampire. But what? *** Bronze Age ca 2000 BC *** Methos looked at Kronos. The man's eyes were huge, standing red as if he'd seen something he couldn't deal with. The older immortal tried to stay calm, there weren't many things in the world that could spook Kronos. "Darkness father." Methos tried and sooth his sons pain by rubbing the young mans shoulders. "He's evil." Kronos had come to him in tears, crying over his wife's and children's deaths. They'd died in the fire when the citizens of his city had found out about Kronos' immortality. "Yet he offered me Mara and the children. He says I'll have them back if I serve him. What should I do father?" Methos wasn't sure. Even though he was raised by the Liliaeth, he still had difficulty believing in things like demons other than those in mankind. "I don't know." Kronos got up and turned away from him. "It told me that all I have to do, is surrender to him and they'll be back. As if nothing happened. My family." Methos looked at Silas, the young man was playing with a rabbit he'd just caught. His mind still in a fog of dealing with his newfound immortality. "I can't give you any answers Kronos. I wish I could." Part of him wished the demon could have offered him one of his previous wives or children. He'd lost so many. Why would the thing offer this kind of prize to his son while he'd never offered any such thing to him? "He offered me a family." Methos remembered the old priest that had shown up shortly before Kronos had. Raving on and on about Kronos being the Champion and that Methos had to help him. The immortal had turned him away. Religions changed to often for him to believe in any of them. Methos looked at his grandson. The only one of Kronos' children that had survived the carnage. The young pre-immortal sat huddled before the fire, his eyes wild open in shock. He'd tried to calm young Caspian down somewhat but it hadn't helped. The boy couldn't get rid of hearing his family's screaming as they'd died in the fire. "Should I say no?" *** Present *** Methos sat down on a bench. It had all started so innocent. His son, his grandchildren. They'd all been together again. At least for a while. And if young Caspian had been acting somewhat strange, it hadn't really bothered them. They'd pledged the promises the demon had wanted from them. Even Methos hadn't dared refuse to give his pledge, to give his soul when Kronos had looked at him. How could he have known that the demon was real? "Hello brother." He looked around, almost expecting to see Kronos standing there again. But it wasn't. It would never be his beloved son, brother again. "Temlan." He didn't even turn around to face the young looking immortal. The kid shouldn't have come. "It doesn't have to mean anything Matta." "Are you sure of that?" *** Bronze Age *** The three men and the boy rode into the small town. All four where dressed in black. Kronos looked at his former neighbors and friends with disgust in his eyes. "Burn them." The words came out cold, without feeling. Caspian and Silas put their torches to the wooden surfaces of the shacks the mortals were living in. Some tried to run but they were put to the sword. Methos looked at his son and turned his eyes to the small wound on his hand that still hadn't faded out. A signal of their pact with Ahriman. "Burn them." Kronos said once again. "Kill them all." He could no longer stop himself and joined the massacre. It became a drumming beat in his head. Burn them. Kill them. Make them pay. At the end they were all covered in blood. Even young Caspian who was barely 12. The four of them united in a square. "Brothers." All followed Silas words. "Brothers." Forever. A young woman tried making her way to town. Two young children with her. "Why Kronos?" He turned at her, looking at her with love in his eyes. "For what they did to you." "They were my family and you butchered them." Kronos tried to pull his arms around her. She wrestled out of his grip, refusing him. "Why?" "I did it for you ... for the children." "No." The single word was said in absolute horror. The woman face showed her shock as she turned her back to him. "I will have nothing more to do with you. Ever" "But I did it for you!" She didn't listen, didn't wait. To shocked by the scene around her to think about her actions. Leaving her husband in shambles, crying on the ground. "I did it for you Mara. Only for you." On the background Methos could hear the demons laughter. Part Six "And peace shall set us free." Xander wandered away, alone. Like most of his life. He wasn't sure why but something in his head kept telling him not to take anyone with him as he left the place. Soon mists surrounded him and he shivered, praying for a natural phenomenon. It wasn't long before the young man couldn't see a feet in front of him. He stretched out his hand, searching a path through the whiteness surrounding him. "Hello beloved." He stopped. What was that? He remembered a voice he'd heard a thousand times before, yet he couldn't remember from where. "My beloved, my Asmodeus." The young man turned his head, looking for the direction the sound came from. A ghostly finger streaked past his cheek. Shivers crawled up his spine as the hairs at the back of his neck stood up. A female shape appeared in front of him. "I was waiting for you beloved." Her eyes where ghostly white in the fog like shape that her body had taken, yet despite his complete lack of sight for anything else, her he could see as clear as day. "Who?" "This is not the time for questions, beloved. Remember..." The voice whispered in his ear, touching a part of him that was only vaguely conscious. "Liliaeth." "Is that all you remember Asmodeus?" "Jo'lon." A deep longing filled the words, the name. The female shape nodded. "The time has come, beloved. " Xander tried to shrug off the sensations she called up in him, yet part of him refused to fight, giving in to her caress. He tried to ignore it, to think of Anya but it was in vain. "It is as I have seen it." Xander could feel her shimmery hands touch his face. "You, my beloved warrior, have returned for the time of the finding. The Ai'kan'she walks the world and the demon has taken the Champion as his tool. Soon will come the Gathering and at that time we shall stand together. Rest now my warrior and remember. Xander fell to his knees, falling in the mud. ****** The dark figure could sense the whisper, it lifted his head as if trying to hear clearer. So, the Mother had made her move and had chosen her warrior. It would not help her. The demon tried to reach out and find the warrior but could not find him. A shroud of light surrounded him, hiding him. "You can not hide him from me." he said in a bound of heartless fury. "I have already won. Your son Methos shall be mine soon and when the One stands in victory I shall rule eternity. Why do you still fight me while you could be my bride?" A soft chuckling filled the air. "Because you are evil." The irony did not miss its point. "Your pure one is gone, Mother of the Night." The demon thought to wound her with that knowledge, that he had found the child before she could. To have the child destroyed by its own teacher, the champion, before it could reach its potential. Suddenly he could see a tear in her veil and he saw the boy he thought dead. "That can't be." She laughed openly. "You have cried victory to soon, Trickster, First Evil, Ahriman. The boy is mine." Her laughter grew ever louder until her presence left the room. "No!" The demons screams filled the minds of all who could hear it and not a few blacked out under its horror. Part Seven "Life is about choices; fate is determined by every moment of life." In Giles apartment both Buffy and Spike cried out in pain. At that exact same moment at the Bronze, a vampire dropped his latest victim, grabbing his head while the girl got away. A lucky case of circumstances. At the same time in a secluded room two young Wiccan witches grabbed eachother in shared agony as the scream reached their souls. Both grabbed for whatever clothes they'd dropped before. Both sharing a blush as one touched the other in what before had been a joining of both body and soul. All over town mystics, witches and anyone with the slightest touch of the supernatural could feel the demons scream. None but one could understand its meaning. "You must fight him, brother." Methos looked at his younger brother. "What are you talking about?" "Ahriman. It's long past time that you stand up to him. To take the mantle that your son Kronos dropped so long ago." The boy's touch on his shoulder reminded him of nothing so much as the knowledge of a wise elder even though despite the boys age he was still the younger one of them both. "Choose, my brother. Choose. Accept your true self Methos Ke Cha Jo'lon. And choose." Methos turned away. "Guardian or destroyer, take your pick." Before Methos could answer three forms appeared before him. He staggered back, not believing his eyes. "Kronos." My son, my brother. "You were..." The dark scarred figure grinned. "Welcome back brother. Soon we shall ride." ********* Back at his apartment Giles helped Buffy up on her feet. Spike meanwhile crawled up on his own. "What was that?" Giles looked at Buffy, a baffled gaze in his eyes. "I don't know." "What do you mean, you bloody wanker. You're supposed to know these kind of things." "Then tell me Spike. What's happening to you?" The vampire looked down. "Voices." he whispered. "All the time those damn voices, calling up for the Horsemen, for the kill. But I can't kill, can't get rid of it. Can't call Death." The vampire shivered up on the couch, not even complaining when his mother Lilin put a cold compress on his head. "The voices want us to kill, to raise up Death. The Fourth Horseman." "Methos." Both Buffy and Giles turned to Lilin. "But the Horsemen are dead. They were immortals, nothing more. Why would someone use that kind of ritual to summon a bunch of dead immortals?" "Good question." ******* Xander woke up in a puddle of mud. His clothes were stained and wrinkled. Ruined. His head hurt and he barely noticed the crystal around his neck. The crystal he hadn't worn before. Brief flashes of images played through his mind. Battles, love, and things he'd never faced in his life. He started crying, not sure why. The image of a young redhead forming on his eyes. Part Eight "Bring forth the children, for they arth the blessing of the lord." Methos heart was pounding. Kronos was back. Kronos, Caspian, even Silas. "How?" "Ahriman, brother. He promised me his protection. He promised me my family. He always keeps his word. Always." Methos could see the red twinkle in his brothers eye. The demon was still at work. Calling his brothers back to life. But why? What use could it have for them? He couldn't see Temlan anymore. Where was the kid? What was he planning on? Methos backed of. Kronos alive had been bad enough. Now? He had no intention to deal with the mans ghost. "Join us brother and nothing will be able to stand between us and the world. Nothing." There was no way to run. Methos could feel his brothers blade touch his neck. What could he do? ******* Buffy was running. She had to stop it. If all four Horsemen were assembled, only disaster could follow. But where could they be. She let an instinct she didn't even know she had, guide her ever forward. The drums of urgency rang through her ears. ******* Temlan was frozen to the ground. Unable to move. Ahriman was planning the same move he'd tried with Richard Ryan. MacLeods student. Making Methos kill him. Temlan knew his brother would never be able to live with it. Neither would he for that matter. He tried to muster all his strength, to move out of the demons grasp, but it was to powerful. ******* Methos kicked at his Horseman brother and tried to jump out of the way, pulling his sword out as he did so. All three Horsemen circled round him. Over and over, trying to goad him into a fight. Unsure what to do he sticked to responding rather than making attacks of his own. Looking out for a chance to get away. "You killed me brother." he heard Silas' eerie voice say. It was a kind of whisper, his form becoming clearer as their swords struck. "Not again." Methos ducked for a faint made by Caspian, barely avoiding a hit by Kronos. His sword went out to strike, to late he saw Temlans frozen face in front of him. Part Nine Methos' soul screamed out in pain. "NO!" Then his sword was stopped mere inches from the boys neck. He looked up, barely believing what was happening. He looked in the eyes of the boy, no the man, holding his sword back, his bare hands wrapped around the blade. A kind of light came shining from him and Methos instantly recognized the Orb of Methuselah around his neck. The Horsemen turned to him and the boy returned their gaze inch for inch. "Be gone demon. In the name of light be gone." A light came pouring out of the crystal and the ghosts of the Horsemen faded out of sight. Methos collapsed on his knees. He stared at the boy, Xander, and before he could ask any questions he fell into unconsciousness. ******* Giles couldn't help staring at Xander. His cup of tea was still in his hands, untouched, the liquid slightly trembling. The young man was sitting on the ground, unmoving, unspeaking, almost meditating. Buffy was the first to come back to her senses. "Who are you? And what have you done to Xander?" The ancient presence in Xanders body looked up at her and smiled. The smile was so much like Xander that she could almost believe nothing was wrong. Until he spoke at least. "I am Asmodeus, consort to the Liliaeth." Temlan nearly spat out his tea at those words. "Asmodeus?" he asked disbelieving, remembering his mothers stories about the mortal, the very *dead* mortal. "The demon Asmodeus?" Giles couldn't help but ask. "Hardly." The young man turned to Giles. "I am quite human, I assure you." Then almost as an afterthought. "And so is Xander." "What did you do to him?" Buffy seemed both shocked and raging in fury. "Nothing really. I am Xander and Xander is me." He laughed softly at the glares that statement give him. "For a long time my soul has been a part of the cycle. Unaware, non existing. Bound from knowledge by the orb of fire. Till the orb was destroyed a short time ago. After that the Liliaeth called out for me, awakening the part of my soul that holds my memories. I responded, finally awaking from my long slumber." He faced the gang. "I 'am' Xander, but now, I am Asmodeus as well." ***** Methos woke up with an enormous headache. It felt as if his very skull was splitting apart. He faced straight up at one very pissed of Slayer. The ancient gulped, trying to avoid meeting her eyes. "What in the name of Madonna's bustier do you think you were doing." She grabbed his face, forcing him to look at her, he tried to get out of her grip, but she was to strong for him. "Killing your own brother? What was it, reverting back to your Horsemen days?" The ancient wanted to respond, but he didn't know what to say. He'd almost killed Temlan, the thought alone... Now he knew how Mac must have felt after... "It wasn't his fault." Xanders calm words made everyone concentrate on him, the serene look in his eyes was eerie to say the least. "He was seduced by Ahriman, that which you knew as the First Evil." A memory flashed through Buffy's mind; Angel's nightmares, the defeat in his eyes as he tried to resist. His insistence on trying to die. The First Evil was not something to be trifled with. "Ahriman?" She whispered. "It is a deceiver, but do not underestimate it, it is a very old and very dangerous... evil. " Buffy chuckled. She crossed her hand and held her hand on her chin. "What did it want with Methos?" "He's the last of the Horsemen, it needs him to bring the other Horsemen back to life." "But why?" "We served him." Methos offered after a slight hesitation. "We swore an oath to be his. I never... I didn't think..." "And since you served him before, it can always use you, no matter what." The former Horseman just nodded at Giles' words. "Then why aren't you serving him now?" Methos staggered back at the hard words, not sure what to say. Oaths meant little to him, even then. He'd betrayed his oath to Kronos before, he'd do it again. "He left." Xander/Asmodeus' words once again reminded them that one of their number wasn't as normal as they'd thought he was. "He broke his Oath, fought one of his brothers. Ahriman needs not just him, but the Quickening inside of him as well." "The shared Quickening, but then... What about MacLeod?" ****** The hooded man held his hands over the cauldron. Ancient words spewed forth from his lips. The three shadows stood before him, their menace increasing. The man's eyes shone red in the darkness. He lifted the hood from his face, showing it to the victim lying bound at his feet. Inwardly a man once known as Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod cringed in horror as his hands slit his victim's throat. Part Ten Asmodeus quietly listened to the wind as he walked over the empty campus grounds. A silent voice told him where to go. The others gave him weary looks, but followed his lead nonetheless. Young Xander's voice was fighting again, trying to regain control over the body they both shared. His strength, though significant, was like a drop of water compared to the ocean united in Asmodeus. It was so incredible to be here again. To feel the wind in your ears, to touch and be touched. The scents alone were worth staying around. They were odd and new, and familiar at the same time. And then there was the ancient presence soothing him, talking to him, brushing past his mind. If only the child would lie down, get out of the way, he could talk to her. They were one and the same, yet Xander seemed unwilling to become a part of him. To grow. He didn't understand. The orb aided him to concentrate as he looked for the demons essence, the darkness of it. It was a dark red, an ugliness that spread across the astral plane, tainting whatever it touched. He could feel the power of the orb course through him, its familiar glow. It beckoned him, called out for more. ******** It itched, the scar on his hand, the symbol of his oath to Ahriman. His words as they spoke the Oath were bristling in his throat. "Through life and through death, for all time and beyond." He'd broken his Oath a thousand times since then, ignored its calling, time and time again. Now here he was, a man without honor, the ultimate survivor, never to be free. His mother's words had told him what would happen, the seduction that Ahriman stood for. He'd ignored her then, he'd laughed at her fears, these days he knew better. The boy was wearing the orb, the thing that could have been Alexa's immortality. The ancient wanted to snag it off of his little neck, to pull it of and keep it to himself. Why should he have it? Why should her lover be immortal while she lay dead in a grave. The man had died millennia before. He'd had his chance at immortaliy. His life was over. Why couldn't Alexa have had the same? If she'd gotten her hands on it so easily, why then didn't she answer his call and help him when Alexa needed it? ******** The dark one nestled herself on her cushion. The soft furs made her more comfortable as she laid back to rest, opening her mind to find him. Ahriman. The demon was hiding again, seeking his refuge in the Champion's mind. Jo'lon knew the rhythm by now. Thank all that was pure that the Child was still hidden, safe. No matter what happened now. She gently whispered a prayer to the spirits, soft words offered to the wind floating from her lips. Her eyes grew heavy in the soft comfort of the place near the fire. It grew, reaching out at her, making her Quickening respond to its drum. The ancient let it, fading in the darkness. Her mind searching out for the dark red fog. It was there. Oh yes it was always there, slipping through the smallest cracks. She followed its trace, touching the mind it was encrusted in for now. MacLeod. He'd won the war for the world, but while doing so, he'd been forced to lose something as well, a shell of protection that Ahriman had all to willingly taken advantage of to hide, to survive... All she had to do, was to reach out... now. Part Eleven "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you." Jean Paul Sartre Ahriman felt a shiver go through him, almost like fear. Something was happening. Her. He resisted, his grip grew firmer, more powerful, she seemed gone for now, but was she? The demon paced through his chambers, holding his chin while muttering indignations. How dare she interfere like this. He should have dealt with her eons ago, but the Mother of Demons had never been an easy one to deal with. He knew her, oh yes. Jo'lon, Lilith. The first light created. The first immortal and their hope for a good outcome. She'd chronicled the dawn of time up to now and always she had stood against him. If only he could get her at his side, he'd be able to win once and for all, but she never would. He knew that as well as she did, for they had been created at the same instant in time. Opposites in many ways, of the world and out of it. A balance. Light and darkness. Hope and despair. He quickly ordered his Horsemen to search for her warrior. Asmodeus would have to be killed before she could work through him and ruin everything. ****** Two full goblets of wine stood on the table. A third, empty one waited for its owner to come down. Duncan rested his feet on the table, knowing Tessa would start complaining the moment she saw him sitting like that. He loved those little discussions of theirs, that almost always made them end up upstairs. She'd come in any moment now, dressed in that black negligee with that beautiful silken peignoir covering her light body. Her blond curly hair, hanging free over her shoulder. He smiled, leaning back in the couch, listening to the Bohemian. Suddenly his quiet peace was shattered by the loud banging of Slayer coming from upstairs. Oh god, didn't that kid ever learn the rules. "Richie!!!" He yelled as loud as possible. "Do I have to come up?!" Man, no matter how much he loved his son, and how glad he was to have him back from school, there were times... He snickered a bit, knowing all to well how lucky he was to have his son home and how much he missed him when he was away. The music piped down almost immediately. He had a hunch the boy was just trying to get to him, testing him too see how far he could go now that he was back home. Duncan sighed in contentment, letting himself be warmed by the fire, lighted in the fireplace. He knew for sure that his life could never be more perfect than this. *** Blood, pain, A knife along a throat. His hand dipped in blood, licking it from his long fingers. The knife as familiar as his hand. **** He sat up in shock, startled by fear. No that was a lie, a nightmare, this was reality. It just had to be. He held himself, feeling a sudden rash of cold fear come over him. Who was that monster that would enjoy the feeling of fear in his victims, that would kill like that. He remembered other dreams. Murders, dozens, hundreds... but that couldn't be real. He was a cop. A reasonably good man. Someone who protected people. He grabbed for his badge, holding it in his hands, like a shield of honor. Something to prove he could never be like that, that brutal, that ruthless. There was a picture of his family stuck behind it. It was all for them, always for them. His wife, his son. He remembered his father, a mayor of a small town in Scotland, moving to America... everything. That was reality, that was real life, not that fantasy of swords, and lightshows and... murder. Wasn't it? All of a sudden he grabbed his head in pain. No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! The chant went on and on. He didn't want this. Everything was perfect. It had to be real. He glanced around, searching for something, not sure what. Anything. Something deep inside of him warned him to get ready, to be warned, that danger was approaching and that what awaited him could destroy everything he held dear. "Who are you? You don't belong here!" He suddenly yelled in an agony born of despair. "And you do?" ******* Xander kept wandering through the darkness. Where was he? Where was everyone? Things were becoming inhumanly silent. At first he hadn't noticed it, not really listening for it, but as he became more and more numb he knew it for sure. There was no background noise, nothing at all. He was trapped in a white fog, and he couldn't even see the ground he was walking on. He kicked the ground as hard as he could. No sound. He tore apart a paper he had in his bag. No sound. Then he looked at the paper, a ten dollar bill, just great. This was worse than that time with the Gentlemen. At least then it had only been the voices that had been missing. Voice. He yelled out, anxious to hear a sound, any sound. His outcry ran through the thick fog around him, muffled slightly but audible. "Hello!" he yelled. "Anyone!" No one answered. Were those figures out there in the distance? He followed them. "Hello! Can you hear me." The figures didn't respond. "Please, anyone!" He ran after the figures, they faded away into nothingness. No there they were, he ran after them, suddenly recognizing them, Buffy, Temlan, Willow, Tara, even Methos. Then he suddenly saw the last figure. Himself. He stood still stunned. What? Three figures on horseback attacked them out of nothing. He still wasn't sure what he was seeing but he ran up to them, ready to help. He stood right in front of the Horsemen, but they didn't even see him, they rode right through him. He looked at himself, his hands. What was this? He tried to do something, anything, but anything he touched just slipped through him, or he slipped through it. His double took out some of the skeletons helping the Horsemen out. Xander crawled up from the ground and his mouth fell open in shock, seeing himself fight like that. "Don't they know that isn't me." he whispered. "It has to be some kind of evil double, something that's taking my place to harm the gang. He shivered though he didn't feel cold, he didn't feel anything actually. "Why don't they see me, hear me, anything." But none of them did. At one point, Buffy was even about to kick right through him. He ducked out of the way, but her feet still flew through his leg. He fell down, hitting the ground hard, it didn't hurt. None of it did. "Buffy?" She didn't notice him. He looked down and finally noticed he could look right through his hands. Part Twelve "Forgive me father, for I have sinned" Duncan fell down. His eyes going up to the room upstairs. "She's not real." He denied it. "This is a fantasy Highlander, a lie." She crouched over him, her strong thighs holding him down. "But she's here and he is..." Pain rolled from his voice. "I don't want to..." Her hand brushed past his face. "It isn't reality Highlander. And I would have thought that you of all people should know better than to trust a fantasy like this." "Why should I?" He pushed her off, getting up. "Life has been nothing but hell for me. What has reality ever done for me. I've been losing loved ones, sometimes I had to kill them. This... he waved around. Here I can be a good man, someone with a family. I can be..." "Free?" She whispered. "Free of the Game, free of the persona that people expect from you?" She got up softly, spinning like a cat. "This isn't freedom, Champion. It's a cage. And you alone can open it." ******* Methos watched impassionately as his former brothers attacked their little group. He could feel their presence pulling at his very soul. This wasn't his fight, he suddenly realized. His being here only enhanced the demons powers. A voice called inside of him, a single voice and he followed it. It led him away from the fight, into a group of trees that led to a sewer entrance. "You have got to be kidding me?" The thing was filthy, disgusting and looked as if it hadn't been moved, touched or cleaned in ages. He gave a disgusted snarl to the thing and started pulling it up. As Asmodeus faced Kronos, a shiver coursed through him. Methos, where was that long lost son of Liliaeth? He was gone. They had to finish this and quickly. The ancient warrior pulled at the core of the orb, taking its power inside of him, inside the body he inhabited. It was the very thing that had once kept him alive for thousands of years. He could feel his mind slip into the orb, feeding it, causing a current to form between them, a storm that grew stronger in intensity with every second he held it in, when he finally released it, the Horsemen had no more hope of victory. He fell down on his knees, weakened, his mind caught in the orb and as he looked out one last time he prayed to the ancient spirits for them all. ********** Methos couldn't believe himself. The very idea that he was doing this out of his own free will was disgusting to say the least. His feet were unsteady due to the slippery slime that was supposed to be water. He could feel the stench of the sewers sip into his clothing. There was a gigantic door standing between him and his goal. He took out a handkerchief, that too was dirty but at least it was better than nothing. The gate squeaked loudly as he opened it. His feet slobbed with the slime sticking onto his boots. He didn't even want to know what the stuff was, though the stench gave some of it away. How could any being with a sense of smell even consider ignoring this? He continued down the way until he ended up in some sort of crypt. The looks of it reminded him of... it was not a pleasant memory. There was someone standing there, a tall hooded figure. Its cowl and cape were filled with dark black stains. The man's Quickening vibrated through him, he could feel it drum in him, behind his eyes, beating a familiar rhythm. This was not an unknown, but then again, he'd known that. The face of Duncan MacLeod confronted him, his eyes shining a dark red, a cruel grin on his lips that was worse even than the one the Highlander had had after the Dark Quickening. "Welcome back ... son." ****** They were all waiting for something. All the people around the table. Fitz, father Darius, Tessa, Richie, ... this was the best moment of his life, being honored for his deeds. Brian was having a beer, trying to outbrag Corey. Amanda seemed to be listening to them but was really eyeing the other side of the room. Duncan smiled at seeing them, his friends. Even the old bartender was there, Joe, an old friend and jazz player whom he'd been meeting for years. There was such a sense of rightness about the scene, of having everyone together like this. It wasn't real, it had been too good to be true from the beginning and it was long time that he admitted that. But how to get out? Part thirteen "You are free and that is why you are lost" Franz Kafka Xander was back. Anya smiled, eyeing him. She wanted to grab him, throw him on the ground and have hot naked sex with him if only to show how happy she was to have him back. Well that and that confused look he did so well. She grabbed hold of him, taking his lips, his tongue. His eyes were hazed in confusion, she tried to pull him back to reality, he didn't respond. Not right away. She let go, slightly lost. "Xander?" she begged of him. He started shaking, and fell into her arms. "Xander?" Buffy's voice pulled them apart, just in time for the others to hug their friend. "Methos." Temlan suddenly whispered. The others turned back. "Where?" The ancient was gone. With Asmodeus gone, the others had no idea, not even a hunch of where they had to go to, but none of them dared say that as a bad thing. At least their Xander was back, that was much more important. Temlan suddenly froze, looked up, his eyes fell open as a stream of red lightening started building from the west. They didn't lose any time. ******** Spike looked in his mothers eyes, pain coursed through his body. His lips softly uttered Sumerian chants of death. Lilins fingers slid through his hair and she rocked along with him. She whispered a sweet lullaby to the body of her son, tears dropped down her chin. The vampire Spike, Will. For the first time she could weep for the son she'd lost, for his shell that was left behind. She looked at a stake left behind on the table. For the sake of her son, the true William, she should stake his body, put it out of its misery. She couldn't. She couldn't force herself to get up, to take it, to... No matter how much she knew she should. Each time she looked at him, at her sons eyes, she couldn't lose him, not even this shimmer of him. So she just rocked along with the cold body resting in her lap, the killer, the demon. But still... her son. ****** The gang arrived to a sight beyond imagination. For all things it looked like a battle out of legends. Man against man, immortal against immortal, sword against sword. A dark hooded man wielded a white handled katana. He was tall, hidden in the darkness of his cloak. Compared to him Methos stood small, his face as bare of emotions. His Ivanhoe was firmly in his grasp. Buffy was the first to notice the ritual altar, she moved up to it. But the further the battle went, the worse the ground started shaking. 'Another earthquake, oh god.' she had no idea what was going on, just fought the shaking as she concentrated on her goal. She didn't need to turn to know the others were right behind her, her hair fluttered around her face, wind got worse, playing along with the fury of the battle. Then her eyes caught sight of the slaughter in front of her. Blood, gore, everywhere. Bodies were littered as if on a trash pile. Men, women, children. She got up to it, forcing herself to look, to know what they were fighting for. Then... she shrieked back for a second. Have mercy no... Willows hand touched her shoulders, making her look away. She hardened herself, this was not the time to choke, there was no time for this, she had a job to do. At Giles' guide they started the cleansing spell, the one Asmodeus had prepared for them. She took in the place that Asmodeus had been supposed to take. There was no other choice. Temlan whispered the lead, praying to the beneficiary spirits to aid them in their quest. Willow and Tara formed the circle with Giles, Anya and Xander finishing it. They concentrated their power on Buffy and in a whirlwind of emotions she found peace and clarity. "See beyond deception." The demons red haze surrounded the dark warrior, corrupting him. "See the truth." A man possessed, not a demon, a man innocent, not an evil. The demon noticed their actions. "See the faith." The image of a boy formed over her, the one image the demon feared more than anything. "See beyond hate." Her hand stretched out, not to anyone in particular,yet something held on and the demon fell back, terrified by the double sided attack. The fury in the battle increased as did the raging wind. More and more the earth started shaking. Methos could barely keep hold of his sword, as the demon hoped for at least one victory, as small as it might be. "See no fear." The demon-possessed warrior kicked Methos' sword out of his hand. The ancient fell on his knees, staring in the eyes of his soon to be killer. His best friend. Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. And as the demon expected fear to feed upon, he got acceptance, as he expected terror to suck the life out of his prey, he got hope for a future yet to come. He lifted his sword over the ancients head, ready to strike. ********* And in the whirlwind Duncan MacLeod grabbed out to the hand reaching out for him, looking up in the eyes of... Oh god, Richie! He almost fell, the sight of his student, his son, his victim. An image of the boys beheaded corpse appeared in front of him. "Don't worry Mac. Don't worry about it." "But I... killed you." The hand reached out to him, touching his chin. "Don't worry about it Mac. Nothing ever is as it seems, remember that." The voice faded away and the Scot stared straight in the eyes of Methos. His sword inches away from the other mans throat. It slipped from his fingers, he fell on his knees. "God... no..." Epilogue The silence was devastating. The storm had lain down, but everyone was still recovering from the shock. Xander sat in a corner, thinking of memories that didn't make sense, thoughts that kept sipping through. A past he had never had, love he had never shared. His free hand fell on the orb, a part of him wanted to break it, the other felt like holding on to it forever. And though he'd deny it there was a seduction in those ghostlike figures that kept coursing over him, making him long for a touch he wanted to fight to stay away from. Buffy was with Will and Tara, all three trying to come to grips with what they'd seen, the horror of it. Anya muttered lowly in her sleep. Her head rested against his shoulder, she was softly snoring. He didn't mind. Methos stepped over cautiously. "Xander? Are you all right?" Xander didn't know what to say. Suddenly the door shot open again, nearly waking Anya with its noise. Temlan came bursting out, gave Methos a furious glare and stepped out. The slow deliberate paces hiding his anger. He sighed a little, watching his brother leave. "What's up with him." It was as good a change of conversation as Xander could manage at this point. "We tried to remove his chip. It didn't work. "Ouch." Lilin came out of the room as well, Spike followed behind her. The young teenager nodded to Xander, purposefully ignoring Methos, before she went out after her husband. "Yes, very..." He watched Lilin, then sighed gently. Spike didn't look all to happy either as he fell down on one of the chairs, taking the back of it in front of him. "You feeling a little better?" He asks the youngish vampire. "What do you bloody care." The vampire took a smoke. "You're my nephew." The ancient Immortal's voice is icy. "Sure uncle Methos." The sarcasm underlying his tone was obvious. "You damn wanker." "At least I *can* wank, little boy." He snarled. "Sorry, I think you've been watching to much television. I happen to be quite ... able. Uncle." The vampire sat open legged and looked at Methos teasingly. "Prove it." He grins. Spike seemed about ready to do just about anything, when Giles came in. Methos quirks his head at Spike. "Another time, then." He looks up at Giles. The former watcher looked at the strange bunch, the Horseman, the vampire, the former demon and whatever Xander was supposed to be now. All signs seemed to indicate he was back to normal, but still, with that stone around his neck you couldn't really know. Shivers went through him as he thought about what he'd found out. Asmodeus, Lilith. If Xander was what he appeared to be, the boy might be in serious trouble. Trouble that might make what happened after that love spell of his, look like childs play. For Lilith would not just let him go. Lilith, Liliaeth, whatever she called herself. "Well, Giles?" Methos prompted. "Your friend is resting in a bed upstairs. I had to give him a sedative." The ex-Watcher coughed. "The memories hit him hard." He gives a sigh of relief. "It could've been much worse, though." "Worse?" Xander turned to him in shock. "He almost killed you. Not to mention how many other people he killed." "Ahriman could've kept his grip on him. He could also have gone totally catatonic when the demon let go of him." "Or he could have killed you?" Giles stated quietly. "That, too." "That boy, the one that represented Ahrimans greatest fear. What was that about?" "Richie..." He whispered to himself. "He was very pure of heart. Very pure and filled with light." "Was?" Memories hit Xanders brain, a boy. A connection opened and he saw the same boy. He bumped his head against the wall as he fell back in pain. "Xander??" Methos asked, quickly sliding over to the young man. "He's alive." the young man whispered. "He's still alive." He got up, holding closer to Anya who was slowly waking up. "What? Richie's still...?" "That's what broke Ahriman, his greatest victory was lost, the pure one is still alive and as long as he is, Ahriman will never win. Never." Methos' hand went to his chest as his breath caught. "What will happen if he ... dies." Giles seemed to have a problem grasping the words. "Then it seems that... we'll lose." He says softly. Liliaeth says: "Not to mention the end of the world, not just now, but for all eternity." Xander added. "The Ai'kan'she is like the plug, the thing that'll wield away the darkness. If he wins the Eternal battle amongst the everlasting ones, there will be no more hate, no more darkness, no more pain, no more hunger. It is what he was born for. To end the night. To fulfill the promise." Methos swallows. "But if he looses..." Xander didn't finish the sentence. The old Immortal stands. "We don't have a moment to lose, then. We need to find him, fast." "I'll help." The young man got up from his chair, carefully laying Anya back. The young woman moaned a bit and started waking up. "Xander she asked." But Xander was to far gone and Methos accepted his hand. The end (for now, next in line, Methos, Xander and Anya on a road trip to look for Richie)