I was late getting to the uni that morning. The damn Highlander was supposed to take me to work with him. But then Amanda showed up and all thought of classes, and 'good-old-Adam' were long gone. So, when the phone call came just as I pulled into my reserved spot, I was pretty sure it was my secretary, wondering where I was.
"Rhonda, sorry. That bastard, MacLeod…"
"Dr. P-Pierson? It's Kim. From Chaucer Class. Please, Dr P. He…he says he'll kill me…"
Shit. Why me? The girl was in my class. And a preimmortal. Hadn't things been going just too good for some shit not to hit the fan?
"Enough little one," I heard a man's accented voice say softly. Then louder, "That's correct, Pierson. I will kill her. Permanently. It will be very public, very nasty, and I will see that you and your friends are implicated." Whoever the other man was, he laughed then. "Or, I may put it all on the Immortal Mr. Duncan MacLeod. Isn't technology wonderful? I've come to really appreciate You Tube!"
Of course. Why not.? "Leave the girl alone," I said with a sigh. "What do you want?"
"We're out at the Old School--in the forest on Highway 23. Be here soon, Pierson."
As he clicked off, I could hear the girl screaming.
The whole phone call had only taken seconds. Thinking I had time, I dialed MacLeod's number. His cell was off. His answering machines picked up at the dojo, and at the loft. I left messages.
I called my office. "Rhonda, I've got a family emergency. Cancel everything for the rest of the day. Look, if Mac calls, tell him I'm out at Old School on 23."
"Sure, Adam, is there anything I can do?"
"No, ah, I just have one of those things to take care of."
Jesus. If only Rhonda had been able to read minds.
I drove my SUV out to Old School as fast as I dared. Who the fuck was this guy, and why did he want me? He hadn't acted like he knew who I really was. Usually they gloat when they think they've cornered 'the legend.'
And why was I going towards trouble? Usually I was running in the opposite direction. Fuck, was the Scot rubbing off on me? Yes, of course. But we had that -- whatever it was that had happened with the double quickening. If I was stressed out enough, MacLeod would feel it. Just like I could feel the bleedover from his fucking Amanda.
When I got out to Old School, I parked near the front entrance, got out and just stood next to my truck. I could feel presence, and looked to the side of the building. There was a man standing there. He was holding Kim, his hand fisted in her long hair. The girl was crying quietly.
"Don't come any closer. I'm sure you wouldn't want anything to happen to the young lady."
Kim stared at me with large, frightened, green eyes. It looked like she was holding her breath. She might have been, because there was a sharp sword held to her neck.
And fuck if there was anything I could say or do. At the moment. The immortal dragged Kim into the building and I followed.
"I want you to drop all of your weapons, Pierson. And undress. Everything off. There's no room for modesty here. You have only to worry about this girl's life -- if you really care for her. Or not?" Then he smiled pleasantly at me. I had absolutely no idea who this guy was. None at all!
What the fuck? "Well, don't you think an introduction is order?" I asked. "I don't usually get naked with someone…"
"Now, Pierson. I have little patience." He shook Kim just a bit, and she screamed and he shook her more until she stopped.
"Yes, I suppose I should introduce myself since we're going to be such intimate friends. I am Robert Verdun."
The name didn't sound familiar at all. So why did he want me? I'd understand if we were enemies, or if he knew I was Methos, but that didn't seem to be the case.
"Now, don't come any closer. Just do as you were told."
I sighed. Of course I would comply. But I shook my head. What was this fascination evil immortals had with me? And my body? I'm just a guy, after all. Very carefully I started pulling out my weapons, but taking my time. Luckily, Verdun hadn't picked one of the immortals in town who know who I really am. Then I'd really have been screwed.
Okay, as slowly as I tried, I eventually ran out of toys. And now that I'd had a chance to surreptitiously look around, I'd noticed two more immortals. And a mortal with a gun who could kill me faster than I could run. Yeah. But there was no doubt that Verdun was the boss.
"Get to it Pierson!"
"All right. Just one thing. I want you to leave the rest of the immortals alone. You promise to do that, and I promise... Myself. No fight, total cooperation." Was I totally insane?!
Verdun smiled then and nodded. "Fine," he said. "You know what I want," Verdun reminded me. "Everything off. You can either take it all off yourself or I can have someone help you. It's the only way to ensure that you aren't armed -- at all. You obviously believe in being cautious, Doctor Pierson. So do I."
Then he smiled again. His eyes were bright, feverish. He was careful to keep Kim between us since she was merely a tool now.
I almost believed him, that he wouldn't hurt anyone else. Almost. Okay, now was the time to panic. I was covered on all sides by men with guns or swords, And the ones with swords knew how to kill me for real. Come on, Mac. Make with the link. Come and get me! I looked at Verdun. He looked a little pissed.
"I don't suppose you'd just accept my word?" I asked. Even though I was pretty sure I knew what the answer would be. Still, it was worth a shot. Carefully I began to pull my duster off when Verdun shocked me to stillness.
"Do you want to kill her?" He shook Kim like a rag doll. "Do you want to be the one that takes her head? I might let you do it."
I shivered involuntarily. Kim wasn't even responding to him now. God, what have I gotten myself into now? When had I turned into a bloody boy scout?
"She'll let you take her head, you wouldn't even have to fight."
"No. I don't think I'm interested, thank you," I said, and I knew it was true. The girl had given up. She hung listlessly in Verdun's grip. "Look, I'm totally disarmed. I swear. Why don't you just let her go and then we can go?"
"I have specific plans for you, Dr Pierson. None of which involve taking your head. You may wish I had before we're done, but I chose you because, no matter what I have done, I detest having to harm women." He smiled again, a slow, seductive smile. "But if you don't do what I have told you to do, if you do make me take your head, just remember there is someone else I can still go after, someone who, from what I understand is older than you. And I will use him if I have to. So, you see, we both get something. You get my promise I will not harm the other Immortals in the area. I get your promise that you won't do something that will cause me to take your head."
Fuck. I knew he wasn't bluffing about taking MacLeod.
"You're a true paranoid, Verdun." I shook my head. "If the word of an old man isn't good enough for you." I shrugged. "Fine. You're wrong, though." Taking off my coat I held it out for one of my captors to take. They would be able to feel that there were no concealed weapons. I had, in fact, totally disarmed, and didn't have so much as a nail clipper on me. I continued to disrobe. Sweater, then the shirt I wore under it. I had no idea what game was being played. Yet.
I was down to jeans. Verdun was watching me as I unbuttoned and unzipped. Started to push them down and off. Then I almost laughed when the man pulled out a thong.
"You can put this on if you're feeling modest. But everything off. Now." Shrugging, I let the jeans slip down and then kicked them off. Along with my socks. "Doesn't matter to me, Rob. Did you think being naked bothers me? Don't you get it? It's all a matter of trust, my friend." I held my hands out from my sides. "You believe me now?"
"A matter of trust." He stared at me, but behind him one of the other men licked his lips nervously and swallowed and Rob rounded on him. "This man is not a toy for your admiration or sexual amusement, Zachariah!"
This Zachariah looked away and took a deep breath to calm himself. Yeah, the old man still had it even when it can get him fucked. Or, ah, and killed. Shit.
Then Rob held out his hand to the other man and took my coat from him. He patted it down, even checking out the lining. Then he draped it over my shoulders. The rest of my clothes were picked up and folded and I shrugged into my coat.
"I would imagine very little bothers you," Rob said. "I've more or less lost my own morals after 3000 years. Nudity is just a state of undress. But it serves a purpose as well." He motioned and a stretch limo pulled up, right outside of the building. "We have a short journey ahead of us. After you," he said as he swept out a hand ahead of me.
While Rob got into the back seat with me, another immortal bent to take up my arms. He ran an appreciative thumb over the Ivanhoe's edge before he wrapped it in a cloth taken from one pocket and put the rest of my arsenal into other pockets.
It was four to one, Rob, the mortal driver, and two other immortals. I was stuck in the back seat between Rob and one of the other immortals, not Zachariah. Pretending to an ease I definitely didn't feel, I knew it wasn't a good sign that they hadn't bothered to blindfold me. So I leaned back against the seat, semi-sprawled, and partially closed my eyes. The last thing I saw as we left the car park, was Kim stumbling to her car.
We drove away, deeper along a path into the woods, then cut out onto another access road leading to the highway. The winter's darkness began to grow, and I noticed how Rob was smiling. Why? I still had no real idea what he wanted with me, and -- yeah, it scared me.
As I sat there in the car, I was thinking about Kronos. I wondered what my brother would think of me now. Willing to do anything to save my friends. Well, the SOB had called me soft the last time we were together. But I liked to think I'd just grown up.
After several more turns we stopped in an area I was sure was pretty far off of the highway. I wondered where we were. It was full dark, and it was obvious we weren't near civilization. Tonight was the last night before the new moon. The Milky Way was plainly visible in the sky, and would be the only light in the sky.
Then we were stopping and parking. I looked around at all the other cars parked in the lot. There were an awful lot of them here in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, with no lights visible. I could feel the fine hair raised all over my body. This was not good.
"Put these on," Rob said as he handed me a pair of sandals.
He didn't order the coat removed again, so I was happy to comply with his obvious wish, and put on the sandals. Then we started off down a long, long path that was soon lined on both sides by people who carefully blocked it off behind us as we passed. The farther we went, the more people I saw, but they were shadows in the darkness, and I knew my first impression that this was bad was correct. It was going to be real bad. And why the fuck were we on holy ground? This was an ancient Indian burial ground near Talmanhetta. I recognized the Mound.
Then I saw the altar for the first time, and wondered what god these idiots worshiped. I almost laughed at a sudden thought. Wouldn't it serve me right if it was a god I had been?
I heard the whispers, 'The Sacrifice,' coming from the voices of the sycophants, those who were worshiping. Some were so close their faces could be seen. Disgustingly, they were filled with awe. Rob waved a hand to them and the murmurs died down to nothingness, to absolute silence. He nodded at me, and I noticed his ceremonial robes. So, he was the High Priest. Fuck.
"I'm afraid I have to ask you to remove the coat again," Rob said softly. I nodded, and a woman stepped forward and reached for my coat, and I did what I'd done so many, many times before. I stood beside the altar. Calm. Serene. Doing as I was bid without pause. I allowed the woman to take the coat and sandals.
A moment later I was lifted onto the altar. It was cold, but I never shivered. Instead, I stretched out as if on a comfortable bed.
"I present to you the Perfect Sacrifice," Rob said in a bold voice.
God, had he made a mistake here. I almost started to giggle, but then he held up the knife. A very special Ceremonial Blade. And a Goblet. I was so fucked…
"And from him shall come the power, granted by he whom we all worship. His wisdom shall become our wisdom, as we drink of his life's blood."
I was really, really fucked!
Rob smiled down at me then and said, in a low voice, "I told you I wouldn't take your head. You're too valuable to me coming back to life." Then he touched the knife to my bare chest. Ice. The blade felt like ice.
"As he dies, so shall he live again, to be our Sacrifice, to be let of his blood, until such time as our Lord is appeased."
As if, I thought. But only a second later the special blade with its icy touch made a neat slice along the veins in my forearm and Rob held the cup underneath to catch the blood as it dripped. Then he moved onto the other arm a moment later. He took one goblet full, and I watched him drink it. A second he poured onto the fire. A third he painted onto the Sacred Mound. Obscene. Desecration.
I tried to be stalwart. But he cut, and cut and cut. I healed so fast it seemed to take forever just to get the first goblet full. So, I zoned to my special place. I'd actually been to a couple of places like it in the real world. But this place was a jewel of the dream world.
Even there, though, I knew what Rob was doing. I'd guessed this was primarily a blood cult. And bleeding to death wasn't that bad a way to die. Definitely not as good as la petite mort.
Unfortunately, having a knife shoved in your heart still hurts like a mutherfucker no matter what. My last thought? Come on, Duncan, now might be a good time for the for that old link to kick in! Come and get me, Highlander!
+ + + + + + + + +
A harsh breath in, and a gasp out as I revived. Then I jerked upright, straightened up. We were back in the limo, but I didn't want to keep leaning on Rob's shoulder. The man had just killed me, after all. Even though, he had covered me with my coat, I couldn't help shivering. I'd been dead. Not that it stopped my smart mouth. "Well, Rob, what's on the program for the rest of the night?"
"It's just begun, Adam."
Rob really liked using my name. I wondered what he was thinking. Who he was thinking I really was. He looked at me strangely for several minutes while I ignored him.
I was on autopilot now, trying to access my memory of blood-cults. But I didn't seem to be having much luck. Maybe because everything was sluggish. He'd bled me, and killed me once tonight. Was there going to be another ritual tonight?
"No, really, Rob? What are you after that you need me so badly?"
"Do you know how precious your blood is, Adam? How much power can be gained just from drinking it -- much less from the other blood rites that have occurred. Age alone, can do it if you know the right spell. But the rest of it? How many blood rites do you know?"
Did he realize how stupid he sounded? Unfortunately, nothing he'd said or done had given me any idea how to defeat him. Or notions of what he would do next. I sighed and answered him.
"A couple. But more importantly, Rob, do you know I need fluids and food? In that order? Or there won't be nearly enough blood for whatever you're planning." Whatever nasty thing it is, I thoughtfully amended and shivered while my teeth began to chatter. I was doing my best to keep up the fiction I was a relatively young immortal, but I really did need food and drink if I was going to try to escape.
And fuck, if one of the flunkies didn't hand another flunky a cooler from the front seat. Inside were juice and sandwiches. Rob came prepared.
"Have your fill," Rob said. "I thought I would have to set up an IV when we got to where we're going and rehydrate you that way, but if you're willing to cooperate… We regenerate fairly quickly, blood too," he said. "I've made a study of it, as I'm sure you can guess." He gave me a confident smile.
Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, get your ass moving!
Yeah, and I bet you enjoyed every minute of it, Rob, I thought. But I chose not to reply to the other immortal's words. Instead I shrugged and looked into the cooler. "What? No beer?"
"I'm afraid we don't have any beer with us, no," he said.
I sighed dramatically, and frowned over the sandwiches. "Look, why don't we stop at this place I know. Beer, great burgers. And the owner can sing some mean blues."
"Sorry. I don't think it would go well with the rites. Otherwise, I'd love to go drinking with you."
"No? Rob, come on. Where's your spirit of adventure?" When my offer was declined, I shrugged and kept eating, "Your loss, Rob." When I finished eating, and drank another juice I got comfortable again and closed my eyes. I hummed quietly until we stopped.
Holy ground again. I wondered if Rob was scared.
My escort led me into an abandoned church filled with worshipers, and I was again taken up to an altar. At least this one was warmer, I thought as I was disrobed and laid out.
Then the ritual started and I slipped away. Then I was dead again.
+ + + + + + + + +
The first thing I heard when I returned was Rob. "Are you with us?"
There were several comments, not very nice comments, I would have liked to make to Rob. "Just get the crap over, I'm cold, it's late, and I need a drink," I groused. But it was sheer bravado. For some reason, maybe total blood loss? I was weak as a newborn. Now would be the time for you to show up, MacLeod, I thought. Any time now. Please, MacLeod? Please? I tried to move, but I couldn't. What the fuck else had fucking Rob done to me?!
My eyes closed of their own accord. I could feel Rob doing something. Feather-light touches on my body that felt icy-cold, Then Rob started muttering and before I realized it I was being securely bound to the altar. Oh, so not good. I decided just to go away again.
I heard Rob chant loudly and at that moment I perceived the fire. But it was the stench of burning flesh, my own flesh that brought me tumbling back to reality. I writhed uncontrollably, but no sound passed my lips, I would not give Rob the satisfaction.
And, oh, it was bad. It was really bad. But it wasn't the fucking worst. Not by any means was it the worst. Still, it was more than enough to make me wish I was dead. Again. Despite my commitment not to, I couldn't stop the moans. As much as I wanted to deny Rob any sign that I was affected. I could feel molten metal eating into me. Whatever had the fiend done?
I opened my eyes, knowing I was going to scream even though I didn't want to.
"Well, well, well. What have we got here?"
Despite everything, I recognized the voice. Not that I believed it. But the shock of hearing it so close seemed to supersede the pain.
"S -- spike," I managed to growl out.
"Right in one, mate."
The blonde vampire's crystal-blue eyes glowed eerily as he reached across me and grabbed Rob by the throat.
"What's this, then? I don't like people to play with my toys."
I -- growled. I hurt. And I was angry. And I wanted whatever the crap Rob had -- whatever he'd put onto -- off my body. Now.
"Don't get your knickers..." Spike gave me a onceover." Oops. Forget the knickers thing..."
"Spike!" I tried for a yell, but all I got out was a barely audible breath.
"All right old man."
Suddenly the place was overwhelmed by vampires. People were running and screaming, and I didn't care! I shivered despite the burning of the heated metal in my chest. Rob was about to see what real blood-drinkers were like, though I didn't know what else was going on, I was so out of it. But Spike pulled Rob closer. Inexorably closer, into -- almost -- a lover's embrace. The vampire smiled, and his fangs appeared.
He turned slowly and forced Rob prone on the altar, right beside me. He bent closer.
Another vampire approached me. Broke the bindings and lifted me off the altar as if I were a baby. "A-A-Angelus," I breathed quietly. "Help me?" I think I pointed to whatever was on my chest.
I closed my eyes and sagged against the still chest of the vampire. Angel. What was he doing with Spike?
What was Spike doing here to begin with? I tried to turn to look at Angel, but hissed sharply as the metal dug into my burned-raw flesh.
"Hold on, old man. Let me get you out of the line of fire," the vampire said as he carried me towards the building's entrance and laid me down in the back pew.
"Angel," I gasped. I was in pain, probably going into shock.. "How... How did you know?"
"Spike knew. He got a phone call. Said somebody was fooling with his 'connection.'" Angel smiled at me. "And you know how Spike is."
"Yes. Well." I would have laughed if I could have gotten enough breath.
"Oh, look, Spike's going to have a snack," Angel said conversationally. He pointed to where Spike had Rob pinned down on the altar, his body covering Rob's as he licked his neck.
"That looks, well, just a little fucking suggestive, doesn't it," I managed to get out. I managed a weak snicker.
Spike growled. "Sod off, old man." He bent back to his struggling victim. His fangs bit into the tender flesh above the artery, then he was busily gorging on Rob's blood.
"He's mine. Let him go."
Spike looked up at the man who was challenging him for his prey. "What the bloody hell now?"
"Let him go. He's mine." I looked over to see MacLeod and Dawson. Halleluiah, the cavalry had arrived!
"Not freakin' likely," Spike growled. Quick as lightning, he ripped out Rob's throat.
Both Angel and I shouted at the same time. Well, I tried to shout.
"Mac," I said weakly. "Spike, he's only trying to help."
"Spike, it's MacLeod's right to revenge his mate."
"What?" Suddenly Spike returned to his human aspect. He licked the blood from his lips. He looked from me to the Scot. Then he grinned and shook his head. "Well. Well." He stepped back and away from Rob's body. Lying lifeless -- for the moment -- on the altar.
"It's not like that, Spike," I tried to say. "We only shared a quickening." I looked at Dawson and he had a fucking huge smile on his face.
Angel stayed by me as the Highlander and Dawson came over. "I had an idea you were coming, Mac," I lied without guilt. "But Spike and Angel got here a little quicker." Though how they knew I was in trouble was a complete mystery.
Then I was gathered into MacLeod's arms even though I cried out as the metal welded into my flesh bit in. I almost blacked out, but I had enough breath to whisper to the Scot. "Kill the bastard, Mac. Take his head."
"What did he do to you? Oh, never mind, tell me later!"
Then MacLeod kissed me. Kissed me for real, for god's sake, before laying me back down. Then he pulled off his coat and laid it over me.
Spike was still standing beside the altar. Rob was still dead, the ugly wound in his neck just starting to heal. We all waited, fully expecting the Scot to wait until Rob was able to accept a challenge before taking him out and taking his head. But that wasn't the way things went.
"Watch him for me," Mac told Angel, then he bent over and kissed me again. He pulled his katana and very quietly walked over to the altar. As the Scot approached, Spike drew back. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. MacLeod the Boy Scout was dragging a dead and defenseless immortal off Holy Ground and was going to take his head. For me.
Spike followed MacLeod outside. "Whoa!" we heard him shout just before the Quickening hit and everything exploded. Which I didn't see, of course, only heard. And from that alone I knew it must have been painful for MacLeod. Not to mention it was the Quickening of a 3000-year-old immortal! How the hell had I missed running into him?
After a time, Spike helped the Scot walk back in to where I was with Angel. Since it was clear that all MacLeod could think of was getting back to me.
"I wish I could kill him again," Mac whispered. "And do it more slowly."
"Well, mate, you could have let me finish him off a time or three first, too." Spike gave MacLeod one of his patented 'cute' head tilts.
"What did he do to you? Adam?"
There was so much I wanted to say, but this was definitely not the place to do that. Instead, I let Duncan kiss me and soothe me as much as he could. It was so fucking weird to have him want me in his arms. Then MacLeod drew away, and looked at me. And yeah, I could feel his anger growing.
"Look, my coat's around. Someplace." I shook my head. "My sword. They took it, it's around. Somewhere. I don't know…"
I realized then that I was beginning to disassociate. Pain, shock, blood loss, hypothermia, were all taking their toll. "Mac?"
"Watch him, Angel, prop him up so I can see." That was Dawson. What was he gonna do? Draw pictures?
"Adam," MacLeod tried to take me in his arms, but he had to accept help from Angel and Spike as well since his own legs were still shaky from the after effects of the quickening. And from my pain that was bleeding through on our link. "I'm here, love, I'm here."
"What? What?" Love? Did he really say that?
That's when I passed out from the pain as they took me to the SUV.
+ + + + + + + + +
I came back to find myself laying flat in the back of the truck.
"Let's get him back to Seacouver," Duncan said. "Spike, Angel."
"You go ahead," Angel said with a headshake. "I need to get back to LA." Then he was gone before anything more could be said.
Spike looked in at me. I know he was dying -- well, not exactly dying -- to ask about this 'mate' business. "I'd like to go back with you. I think I can help."
I only hoped he could.
"Get in if you're going, Spike," Duncan told the vampire. The vampire complied, sliding into the front passenger seat. He shook his head and grinned. "Old man, you do get yourself into the most interesting situations," he snickered
"Go, Joe," Mac said when everyone was in. "I have him, just get going.
"Joe, think we should take him to Anne?"
I bit my lip to hold back a moan of pain when the Highlander shifted me. "Mac," I said carefully, trying not to move too much, "I'll be okay. And no doctors!"
Fuck. I knew my exclamation was a mistake the instant I made it. The metal in my raw flesh shifted. The pain was incredible. I faded out.
+ + + + + + + + +
"Almost there. It's a chain motel. One of the better ones. Hold on," I heard Joe say as I was coming around again.
He made the turn into the driveway and pulled in under the portico. "I'll get a couple of rooms." Frankly, I didn't care where we were or what they were doing as long as somebody got this shit out of my body.
"Adam, how can I help you? Are they still burning you? What are they doing?"
"Mac, just hold me. Still. Be still. It...they...I...I can't describe it. I just. Have to get them off..." Tears began to seep from the corners of my closed eyes. Fuck it all.
Joe came back with room keycards, and I could hear him talking about food. Not that I cared.
As careful as MacLeod tried to be, I cried out when he set me down in the bed. Every movement of my body caused the metal to shift. The pain was incredible, as if a white-hot brand was constantly being pressed into my vulnerable chest. I couldn't help grasping his arm when Mac would have moved away. "Mac, Duncan, kill me. Please, just put me out of this misery," I pleaded miserably.
"And if you won't do it, I have no problem with Spike, or Joe doing it. I don't care," a lovely, low lilting *female* voice added.
Shit. I was doubly fucked. How could I have missed the bitch's presence?! I closed my eyes and waited for the sword.
"Well, old woman. Fancy meeting you here," I heard Spike. "Last time I saw you..."
"You were playing 'let's make a deal' with…" Cassandra snapped.
"Oooh. Still pissy? Sorry, luv. You're just not my type."
"Stay out of my way, Spike," Cassandra warned. "We have no deal."
I have no idea what had happened between the old bitch and Spike. And I had no idea what she was doing here now. But at least she didn't have a fucking big axe this time.
"Oh!" The pain was getting worse.
"Is it OK? I mean, can I go ahead and kill him for now? We can bring him back later... But, I don't have to tell you, he's in agony. Cassandra?"
I think I was going to beg. I really do. But then she touched one of the pieces of metal and I went berserk. I tried to scream, tried to roll away. I was panting and sweating, and shivering all at the same time.
"Evil, Mac," she whispered. "Pure evil. Let me, Mac. If we can figure out what the runes mean…" I looked up to see Cassandra take the knife from Mac and place the tip under my ribs. Yeah, I wanted this respite.
"What?! What?" Cassandra asked from the floor where Spike had thrown her.
"Don't you feel it? The spell. It's still active. Killing him again will finish it. Have you got any idea what the ritual was?" Spike snorted. "Goody two-shoes. Think you know it all. Yeah!"
I wish I could have laughed.
"He said you were a boy scout. High Lander. Lettin' her…"
Oh. God. I involuntarily groaned. "Please...somebody...please...something..." And then I started to sob.
"What are you talking about? I can't leave him like this, Spike," Duncan said. "So what are you talking about? And quit playing games. And if you can help him, then bloody get to it, all right? Cassandra? Someone, please," he begged.
"I don't know, Mac," Cassandra again. "This is evil." She ran her hands above me. Over what I now knew were some kind of runes. Not touching, but still she flinched. "I'm sorry, Duncan." She shook her head.
"Someone, please." I wasn't sure they could hear me.
I heard Spike sigh. "The crap I get myself into. All right. Whoever, whatever that bloke was, he managed to tap into something. This isn't a normal spell." He leaned close to me and studied the runes. "It looks like he got lucky.
"If you kill the old man, he loses his soul. You try to remove the runes, they'll kill him. Not dead like, uh, regular dead. More like Demon Dead." He looked at Cassandra and MacLeod. "You know who Methos was. What he was. The power of Death is still in him. Feeding the spell. The only thing that can break it..." He stopped when Joe came into the room to see what was going on.
"What can break what?" he asked. "There has to be something... Some way... Some way to make the pain go away... Some way to help Adam before he dies of shock or something else...
Spike shrugged. "Sure. You can counter it with innocent blood. Happen to have a spare virgin?"
Well, wasn't that a pisser, I thought as I started to float. I think Cassandra realized I was dying. They were losing me, and pretty soon I was going to slip into a coma.
"Do we know any virgins? Any virgins at all?"
That was the last thing I remembered for a while.
+ + + + + + + + +
"Come back, Methos. Come back, come back, come back."
I did. And Duncan kissed me again. That had been happening rather a lot today.
"You still with me, love?"
I tried to nod.
Then he said, "I'm sorry," and I knew he was going to hurt me more. I wanted to twist away, but I had no more strength to fight.
Duncan started cutting, and I started to cry. I hurt so badly. I really only wanted to die.
"Wait." I heard Spike nearby.
"Can you help?" Mac asked Spike.
Yes. Yes. Yes!
I realized I had bitten through my bottom lip to keep from screaming. The runes were still working inwards and Duncan was going to have to carve deeply to get them out of my flesh. I looked up at the Scot, then at the vampire. "Spike can..."
"I can help, MacLeod. You just may not like it much."
The bed dipped when Spike sat beside me. "MacLeod, when I start, you just go for it." I looked up as he shifted into full vampire mode and sank his fangs into my neck.
"Ah," I breathed. Then I stilled. Finally I arched up just a little. Shivered. Sighed again. I was euphoric and reached up with my free hand to stroke Spike's face.
I don't think Duncan liked it. Not one bit. At least that's what I was getting through the link. But he had no choice but to allow Spike to feed. Fucking yeah.
"I'm done," Duncan said, softly. I heard soft chiming, and realized it was the sound of the runes clashing together.
I looked up at Spike. For a brief moment there was danger and warning clearly showing in his eyes. Then he looked away quickly and got up off of the bed.
"That's it, then? Done with me? Don't need a bloodsucker any more?" Said bloodsucker sauntered towards the living room. "Right, just be going." He glanced back at me. If I hadn't been so blissed, well, I might have said -- something.
I watched as Spike gave MacLeod a half-salute. "Take care of the bloody SOB."
+ + + + + + + + +
I must have dozed off for a second. "Duncan," I shouted when my eyes flew open. I grabbed his arm. "Nightmare. It was..." I stopped and looked around. At myself, covered in blood.
"It was real," I whispered softly.
"It was real," Duncan agreed in a soft voice, regret evident. "I'm sorry, love.
"Spike. Please, please don't go…"
Mac had moved very gently to sit behind me on the bed and gather me up into his arms. I steadily healed as I looked up at the vampire.
Duncan's hand stroked my hair while he continued talking to Spike."
"Spike. You don't have to go, Spike," Mac said softly and I was really surprised. "I haven't had time to thank you yet."
"Sure, mate. Glad to help. My pleasure." He tilted his head to look at us, and grinned.
Knowing what I knew about vampires, and the zing they got from immortal blood, I'm quite sure drinking from me had been a pleasure.
"If you hadn't been here, if you hadn't known what to do, I would have lost him for good. Thank you isn't enough -- if there's a way I can repay you, tell me."
"None that I can think of now, MacLeod. But I'll get back to you...eventually." Then the vampire was -- just gone.
A moment later I stirred in Duncan's arms. "Duncan," I whispered, "It did happen?"
"It was real. I'm sorry, love."
I nodded. "Rob's dead." A statement. Unless Cassandra could translate the runes, we would never really know what Rob had mean trying to do. Of course there was a chance even Rob had just stumbled into the magic. "You didn't hurt Kim, did you? It's not her fault, Mac." I shifted again. My movements much stronger. "Mac, I'm a mess. So's the bed. Help me clean up? I think I need a long, hot bath."
Duncan kissed me gently before he straightened. Holy shit, even more kissing. Then he went into the bathroom and I could hear water running. When he came back into the bedroom he lifted me up into his arms and I think he was surprised that I wasn't as light as he thought I'd be. I smirked as he lowered me into the tub.
"Let's get you cleaned up. The bath should be just the way you like it, I hope."
"Oh, yes, great Duncan, just great," I said. Thanks to Spike, I was feeling better. Much better. Much, much better, in fact.
"Do you want me to wash you?" Mac asked in a hesitant voice.
I couldn't help myself. I sat up, sending a wave of warm water over the side of the tub as I thrust a washcloth and soap into his hands. "And you can wash my hair, too."
Duncan laughed as he took the soap and washcloth. It was a job to get the dried blood off me, but eventually it was done. He drained the nasty water, rinsed me off, then refilled the tub. Then I leaned back so I could get my hair wet, while he got a bottle of shampoo. It was so erotic, him washing my hair like this, I felt like purring. "Ah, yes, Mac, you could do that forever, and I couldn't complain."
"I adore you, Methos," Duncan whispered as he carefully rinsed the shampoo out of my hair and then spent some time massaging my neck and shoulders. His hands were methodical and strong, working out any kinks or knots he felt in my shoulders.
"Hmmm?" I think I was too blissed out to respond more coherently. Between the power of the ritual, and the power of Spike's feeding, the bath and now the massage.
"Are you warm now?"
"Hm? Warm?" I turned so I could look at the Highlander. "To quote a friend of mine, 'I'm the bleeding volcano.'"
Unfortunately, my reverie didn't last. There were too many questions that needed answers. By the end of the bath, hair washing, and massage, I would have preferred some sleep. I was healed, but still felt drained. Instead, I dressed (Joe had found my clothes) and went out to confront Cassandra. And to eat. And have a beer -- or a dozen.
"How did you get involved in this mess?" I asked, taking the offensive at once and sprawling on the sofa in the suite's living room.
"A disturbance in the Force."
MacLeod and Dawson snickered. I was not amused. "Cassandra."
I sat upright and glared at the woman before getting up and going to the serving cart for some breakfast. And a beer, when it became obvious the Scot wasn't going to do it for me. I guess he thought I was okay, but what had happened to all the 'love' from earlier? I went over to eat at the small dining table, away from the other three.
"Seriously, it started at the last quarter moon."
Hm, two weeks ago, I realized.
"But I thought it was Duncan that was in trouble." Cassandra gave one of her dismissive shoulder shrugs. "His aura led me here."
"I guess I can see that," Dawson suddenly said, and nodded. "But what the hell with the vampires, Adam? Vampires, for God's sake?!"
"Yeah, Methos, and what was that about you and a 'connection' to, um, Spike? No, that wasn't it." Duncan shook his head. "Yeah, it was more like 'being' Spike's connection."
I'd hoped they'd amuse themselves, and I'd be able to get through my food, and at least a couple of beers before having to answer anything. But no bloody luck on that. I had shit for luck today, I thought with a sigh. I was going to have to explain the whole 'blissed by vampire sucking my blood thing' sooner or later, and it looked like it was sooner…
"No idea how Spike and Angel and the rest of the vampires got involved," I said with a shrug as I got up to get a second beer.
"It was me," Cassandra admitted quietly.
Three male heads swiveled towards her. MacLeod was clearly pissed. Dawson and I, in sheer awe. And, well, a bit of thanksgiving from me too.
"I *said* I thought something evil was after you, Duncan. Angel fights evil in LA. He has a team of demon hunters. He has an agency. I didn't know Spike," she said the vampire's name with a sneer, "was part of it."
"See," I hissed at the Scot, "I didn't know about any of this." I looked around at the other three. "Wait one damned minute. Cassandra, you had two fucking weeks. Why didn't you warn Mac if you thought he was in danger? Why go through so much trouble?"
I stalked over to the other three. "Oh. I get it, you thought *I* was the evil that would… Damn you, woman, when will you ever get it, that I. Am. Not. The. Old. Methos!"
Dawson started to laugh. "Oh, Adam, I think she got it this time."
"What?" I looked over at Cassandra. She was staring at Joe, and if looks could kill, well, my old friend would be in an early grave.
"Remember back when you were dyin', buddy? We were all wondering how we could get our hands on a virgin?"
"Yeah?" I barely remembered.
"Well, Spike figured it out. Seems like we didn't really need a virgin per se. We just needed an *innocent*." Dawson stopped, and grinned at me like a fool.
"An innocent. Okay. So who'd you guys get?" Had to be someone from the hotel, right? I said as much. "Right?"
"Ah, no, buddy." Joe started laughing again.
"Stop playing, Dawson! If you're gonna tell him, just get on with it, man!" Mac ground out.
"Oh, for heavens…" Cassandra broke in. "It was *you*. We used *your* blood, Methos!"
Whoa. I shook my head. "Me? Uh, mine? How… Somebody want to explain that? No. Somebody, explain that!" I demanded.
Cassandra was turned away, and from her posture I could tell she wasn't going to speak. Dawson was still laughing. That left the Highlander. I looked right at him and glared. "Well?" I asked as calmly as I could.
"It was like in 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,' when Aslan came back from the dead."
"What the fuck?"
"It's old magic! Okay?" Cassandra had whirled around to face me directly. "Apparently you were prepared to die for that girl."
"Kim? Yeah. And the other immortals in town he threatened. Mac, Amanda, and… Uh, yeah. I guess I was. I didn't want to…" I looked over at Mac. He stared back at me, absolute horror on his face.
Cassandra went on. "We used your blood. It worked. You're alive. "
"You don't even have any scars," MacLeod said as he got up and came over to pull me into his arms. Then he kissed me. And didn't stop at just one.
I heard movement behind me, but didn't care in the least.
"Oh, gods, they are so…"
"Cute, aren't they? Say, Cassandra, can you give me a lift to town? My band's playing tonight. I, ah, don't think those two'll be ready to go anytime soon, and I can't take Mac's SUV…"
"I guess you can. You say you're playing tonight?"
Snick. The door closed and locked behind them. But it wasn't quite good enough for the Highlander.
MacLeod let me loose just long enough to pull me over to the door and put out the 'Do Not Disturb' sign then put on the second lock. Alone at last.
+ + + + + + + + +
Cassandra left the next day after spending the previous evening at Joe's. Not just at the bar. She went home with him when he closed. He hasn't said a word to us about it.
Amanda must have been tipped off that things had changed, She had cleared out of the loft by the time we got home. I later found out she'd gone to LA and met up with Angel and was working with Angel Investigations. I haven't told Duncan.
Kim is fine. She talked to a therapist for a few weeks, and recovered quickly.
Duncan is taking longer to recover than I would have thought. At first he was so afraid to let me out of his sight, I could barely go anywhere without him. It's better now that we're back in Paris. But I still may have to find a therapist for him.
As for myself, well, believe it or not, I'm working with Cassandra to discover the meaning of the runes, and to find the maniac who was Rob's boss. I've almost talked her into inviting Spike and Angel to work with us too. Or maybe we'll contact the other Watchers. Maybe the Talamasca..
I have nightmares on occasion. And for that I'm glad I have Duncan. Just his presence will calm me back to sleep.
Oh, yes, we *are* sleeping together. We're even considering getting married. But neither of us has ever committed to another immortal. I'm thinking of us together forever…explosive at best. But if we do, I'll let you know. Maybe send you an invitation.