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October 22, 2000

Sunnydale

Buffy Summers smoothed down her shoulder length blonde-brown hair and pushed open the heavy door to her Watcher's two story home. "Hi guys," she announced glibly, only to halt with trepidation at the sight in front of her. She eyed her friends warily, feeling the depressive aura of pending doom in the atmosphere around them.

Willow Rosenberg was sitting at the small wooden desk that housed Giles' computer, swallowing nervously, while simultaneously twisting a strand of red hair around her index finger. "Hi Buffy," her friend offered with a tentative smile before resuming her task at the computer.

"Willow," she returned slowly, then turned her attention back to the room at large to study each one of her friends.

Xander Harris was sitting on the couch across the room, tapping a nervous foot into the worn blue carpet while attempting a smile that failed dismally. "Hi Buff," he said with false cheerfulness when their eyes met.

"Xander," she returned, while slowly inching her way into the room until she was a few feet away from her Watcher.

Rupert Giles was standing in the center of the room, seemingly engrossed in a very large and heavy text, and totally unconcerned with her entrance. She stood mesmerized, feeling the waves of tension floating around her while her stiff and proper British Watcher adjusted his glasses and absently reached for a cup of tea from his dining table.

"Giles? You want to tell me what's going on here?" she asked nervously.

"What ? Oh, well.... yes. Buffy, I'm glad you're here, actually." He placed the book on the table and removed his glasses in order to rub his eyes. She waited, knowing he would tell her what was going on. Eventually anyway. In any case, she knew better than to rush him. He would explain soon enough, and by the looks of her friends, she really wasn't sure it was something she wanted to hear.

"Oh-kay." She let out a long breath with the word and turned around to face her friends. "Someone want to tell me what's going on here?"

"Buffy," Giles' voice brought her attention back to his face. "It seems that we have a problem."

She laughed at that announcement and twirled around to talk to Willow. "Oh, yeah. Well, when do we not have a problem? What is it this time? A big old ugly demon going to try and open the Hell Mouth again? Just tell me where it's at and we'll take care of it."

"Uh, Buffy," Willow interjected, only to fall silent when she was interrupted by Giles.

"I'm afraid it's a little more serious this time, Buffy," he offered.

"More serious than the Hell Mouth?" she asked incredulously.

"Sit down, Buffy," Giles motioned toward the general direction of the couch with his glasses.

She acquiesced, and scooted next to Xander while Willow turned in her chair to face them.

Giles replaced his glasses on his nose and picked up the book from the table. "This is different. For one thing, we're not really sure what we're dealing with or what the outcome may be. It's all in riddles. However, we do know that on Halloween this year, a demon," he paused and looked up, pointedly making eye contact with each member of the group, "or demons as the case very well may be, will arrive from the Underworld to wreck havoc on mankind."

"Sounds pretty much normal demon type stuff to me," Buffy interrupted. "Come on guys, what gives? After all we've faced, we're not going to let one little Halloween demon get to us." She looked at Xander and frowned when he turned away from her gaze. "Willow?" She glanced at her friend who only shrugged and attempted a shy smile in answer.

"Buffy, listen to me." Giles' voice brought her attention back to him as her own smile faded into a worried frown. "There are too many unknowns about this demon. For one thing, most demons don't come out on Halloween. Secondly, this--whatever this is--isn't going to happen here. From my interpretation of the texts, it's going to happen in a place called Seacouver, Washington."

"Seacouver?" she repeated. "I've never heard of it."

"Well, yes, it's not exactly a haven of demonic activity, usually at least. But, there's more, and this may be the key to why this particular location was chosen. According to the prophecy, every thousand years, the Demon of Infinitus will attempt to feed from ancient blood and rise from winds and lightening to rule the world."

"Demon of Infinitus?" Buffy sounded out the name slowly.

"Yes," Giles set the book down and frowned in concentration. "The Demon of infinity, or endless life, if you will. According to the text this--thing--for want of a better word, was vanquished to hell thousands of years ago. Up until now, for whatever reason, the prophecy has remained unfulfilled. The text, itself, is very difficult to read. Part of it is encoded with complex mathematical inscriptions, and there is much of it I still don't understand. For instance, what ancient blood? And I'm not sure what Seacouver has to do with it, but by my calculations, that is where the ceremony will take place. And, Buffy, there's more."

"More?" she repeated uncertainly while struggling to process the new information.

"Angel," Willow offered in a small voice.

"What about Angel?" She looked from her friend to her Watcher. "Giles?"

"He's involved. Big surprise," Xander remarked snidely from her left shoulder.

She swerved in her seat to face him. "Involved how?"

"Well," Giles' clipped tones interjected. "We're not really sure he is, actually. But, if I've translated correctly, it says...."

She watched him skim the page with a nervous finger before finding the passage he needed to quote.

"There is one of the night, a demon with a soul who has fed on ancient blood."

"And?" she asked incredulously.

He snapped the book closed and continued somberly. "Stated plainly, and according to the text, he is now bonded to the ancient one. Due to this bond, only he can kill the demon when it rises and stop the fulfillment of the prophecy."

"That doesn't mean he's involved." She stood up, well aware that her voice was rising with her anger.

"Buffy, we're not saying he's done anything wrong. We're merely saying that this is a coincidence that we don't understand and we want you to be aware of. Besides, we don't know what we're looking for or how to fight it when we do find it. We were rather hoping Angel would know."

"Fine. I'll call Angel in L.A. And we'll go after this thing and kill it."

"Yes, well. Good. I think we can be ready to leave for Seacouver in a few days. Luckily I found this when I did. If we had waited any closer to Halloween, we may have been too late."

"No."

"No?"

"No. We won't be going anywhere. I said I would go. With Angel."

"Buffy!" Her name was echoed off the walls in stereo while both her friends stood in shock, and her Watcher advanced on her disbelievingly.

"No. No arguments. Giles, you said it yourself, you don't know what we're facing. Willow, you had plans this Halloween with Tara. And, Xander, don't tell me you and Anya don't have better things to do. Besides, you hate Angel." She pointed a finger at each of them in turn. "Xander, I don't want you or Will to get hurt. Look," she added with determination, "if I need you, I'll let you know, but right now I'd rather you guys stay here." She stalked out the door, well aware of the worried glares following her back.

~~~~~~

October 24, 2000

Seacouver at sundown

Angel glided down the alley, his hyper-acute senses picking up the foul stench of garbage and human sweat. He stopped, his muscles held tense, when the prickling presence of another vampire slithered across his skin. He heard the crunch of gravel behind him, and swirled around, throwing himself against the advancing form with all his might.

Shifting his weight, he pressed his forearm against the neck of a tall red headed man who was now pinned against the cold brick.

"I think it's time you and I had a little talk," he spat against the man's face, not surprised when he changed in front of him. He watched the vampire's face turn into a snarl, his mouth fanged and growling, and felt the responding power unleashed.

Angel snarled and answered with a transformation of his own, and pressed more firmly to hold him in place, before whipping out a stake to press against the vampire's heart.

"What do you want?" the vampire snarled.

"Answers." He growled and pressed against him harder. "There's something going down here soon. I want to know what it is and what it has to do with immortals?"

~~~~~~

October 24, 2000

Seacouver, Washington

Early AM

Duncan MacLeod shifted into wakefulness with the intoxicating scent of his male lover filling his nostrils. He felt the warm heat of his lover's chest under his cheek and burrowed closer, rubbing a stubbled jaw across the smooth skin. He felt a small raised pebble of flesh brush his lips as he moved, and opened his mouth to flick his tongue across the nub, smiling when he felt it harden and peak.

"Morning," came the sleepy rumble from above his head. He started to answer, thought better of the idea, and bit down on the tiny pink nub so temptingly close to his mouth instead.

"Bloody hell, Mac. Why'd you do that?" came the outraged cry.

Duncan shrugged, and hugged Methos' waist tighter, grinning when he saw Methos' answering erection belie his outrage. "Because it was there," he offered with a false tone of innocence before attacking the hard little nub a second time with mouth and teeth.

This time there were no cries of outrage as his lover moaned under his ministrations while thrusting his hips upwards in blatant invitation. Duncan slid his hand under the sheet and wrapped his fist around Methos' hard length. He began a slow steady rhythm of hand and mouth, moving over to the other nipple to lick and suck as his strokes on Methos' cock increased in both speed and pressure.

Methos' hips were thrusting, meeting the rhythm of his partner's strokes in perfect harmony. Duncan heard him moan unashamedly into the morning air, crying out when a sharp nip of teeth pressed into a sensitive nipple, and thrust upwards, hard and fast, until he was coming in hard spurts.

Duncan half reclined, his hand still wrapped around Methos' quivering flesh as it jerked with every expulsion of creamy ejaculate. Duncan's own breaths were ragged, his own cock hard and aching with need. But, he couldn't stop, couldn't pull away. Not yet. Not while his lover was so beautiful in his passion, his head thrown back on his pillow, his eyes closed tightly as he rode out his orgasm, trusting Duncan to take care of him in his ecstasy. Duncan looked down the length of Methos' body, admiring the finely muscled chest, now heaving and sweaty as his muscles tensed and released. The cock in his hand was hard, the head reddened and shiny as each orgasmic spurt shot out the slit.

Finally, he felt Methos' body relax, his breathing even out, and he released the spent cock from his grasp. "Good morning," he answered with a chuckle as the green hazel eyes opened to look at him accusingly.

"Indeed," Methos replied with an amused smirk.

Duncan pressed against him, stifling a moan when his own hardness brushed against a muscled thigh.

"Problems, Mac? Hm." Methos lifted the sheet to gaze underneath at his lover's erect cock. "Need help with that?"

"What do you think?" he growled, now much too aroused to continue the teasing any longer.

A kiss was his answer, a meeting of lips, open and moving against his own while tongues stroked and caressed. He moaned into the oral exploration, feeling his aching cock pulse with need. A gentling against his mouth told him of its pending loss and he opened his eyes as the wet heat pulled away.

He looked into darkened eyes, saw his own passion reflected back, and groaned when the other man released him and turned over to thrust his ass up into the air. He saw the perfect round globes pushed up blatantly and reached out a sure hand to stroke the smooth skin. A wriggle under his palm signaled impatience and he chuckled before leaning down to press a kiss on a perfect cheek.

An outward stroking of his thumbs opened his lover's body to his view: Methos' anus still open and glistening from their loving the night before. With one thrust, he was fully seated inside the tight passage, his balls bouncing off the pale skin of Methos' ass. A deep breath and he flexed his muscles, thrusting in and out, his fingers digging into Methos' skin. Mac held onto Methos' hips tightly, pulling him back to meet his thrusting cock, holding him still with every retreat. It wasn't long before their moans were once again filling the air, mingling with the slap of skin against skin, as their thrusts became frantic. A muffled cry into the pillow alerted Duncan of his lover's climax and he followed close behind as the tension in his cock shattered, sending pulsing aftershocks through his groin as he shot streams of come inside his lover's body.

~~~~~~

"Plans tonight?" Duncan asked his lover as they both slipped on their long coats and raised the gate to the lift.

"Um, usual. Papers to grade. Need to do some work in my journal. But, then I'm free. You?"

"I'm good. I want to work out when I get in from my meetings. Why don't I meet you at Joe's for dinner?"

"Yeah, that's fine. About eight then?"

"Sure, that's good for me. Spend the night?" Duncan looked at his lover expectantly, slowing his steps before they reached their perspective vehicles.

"I could do that, yeah. Sure you wouldn't want some down time though, Mac? We've been living in each other's pocket for a week now." Methos stopped and faced Duncan, giving him time to think about his answer.

"I'm sure, Methos." Mac smiled. "You can move in anytime as far as I'm concerned."

"I know, it's just...."

"I know, old man. A little space," Mac told him gently, stopping the apology he didn't need to hear. He understood his ancient lover all too well, and if he needed time and space before committing to their relationship, he was more than willing to let him have it.

"I love you, you know," Methos informed him while pulling him close for a kiss.

"I know," Mac murmured against Methos' lips, allowing himself to be kissed in gentle apology. "I'll see you at Joe's. And Methos...." He stopped the other man's retreat with his words. He waited until Methos stopped and turned before he continued with a smile. "I love you, too."

"Later, Highlander." He was nearly blinded by the smile that lit up Methos' face.

~~~~~~

Same time at the Seacouver Hilton

"You shouldn't have come, Buffy," Angel said worryingly.

"I didn't have a choice. I'm the slayer. You think I *want* to be here?" she huffed back in exasperation.

"Then go home. I can handle this," he told her more gently.

"No. I can't do that. I can't leave you in danger. Don't you think this is hurting me too? Being this close to you again? It's tearing me apart inside," she admitted miserably.

"Buffy, don't. Just don't," he begged her, turning away to escape her gaze.

"Fine. You want to pretend that there's nothing left between us, fine. But, I'm a part of this so you'd better accept it and tell me what's going on." She bit her lip and waited, lifting a tentative hand to his back, withdrawing it quickly before he was aware of her near touch.

He finally turned to look at her with resignation. "Okay, but you'd better sit down. It's a long story."

~~~~~~

8PM

"I don't get it. How are we supposed to find this thing when we don't even know what we're looking for?" Buffy slid on her jacket and turned to Angel.

"We'll patrol. If something is really about to go down the way Giles thinks it will, maybe it'll find us. Come on. We have a lot of ground to cover." Angel pushed her gently towards the door with a hand to the small of her back.

"I know. I looked around this afternoon, but not for long. Besides, it's not like I know anyone here, and from what I've seen, it's not exactly laughsville around this place. Where are we going again?"

"Joe's Blues Bar. According to my sources, it's a good place to start looking. If I'm right, and we are dealing with immortals, this is where I was told to look. Besides," he continued with a smile, "they have good food and better blues."

"Blues? I didn't know you liked the blues, Angel." Buffy looked up at her darkly brooding ex- boyfriend as he held open the cab door for her.

"Never came up. Come on. Get in. The club's just a few minutes away."

Buffy looked out the back passenger side window, taking in the dank sidewalks through the graying mist of the little seaport town. "Cheery place. I can see we're going to have lots of fun here." She pushed back into her seat and looked at Angel who gave her a tolerant smile. "What? Oh yeah, I forgot. You're Mister Broody guy anyway. This is probably right up your alley."

"Actually, it's not a bad town. Besides, we're not here on vacation, Buffy. We have a job to do, remember?"

"How can I forget? Demons, the end of the world, yadda, yadda, yadda," she groused.

"Hey," Angel signaled the taxi driver as they neared an intersection. "Drop us off up at the light. "Come on." They slid out of the cab and he took her hand.

"Uh, Angel. I don't exactly see a Blues Bar here."

"I know. It's up the street a couple of blocks. I just wanted to get a feel for the place."

She waited while he paid the driver, wrapping her arms around herself as the instant chill slithered up her body.

He slid his wallet back into his pants pocket as the cab pulled away. "Here, come on. It isn't far."

"Angel, have you ever been here before?" she asked as they started walking towards the next intersection.

"Yeah, I've already started scouting around. Besides, I pulled a map off the internet before I left L.A."

"A map. Of course, why didn't I think of that," she added lamely, hurrying to keep up with the long strides of the tall, brooding vampire beside her.

A few minutes later they were scurrying towards a gray building with a brightly red colored "Joe's" lit up against the brick. She increased the pace of her steps, anxious to get out of the night chill and towards the food she could smell wafting out the front door. "Ow, hey, what's up?" she yelped in concern when her arm was yanked, pulling her to an abrupt stand still. She looked up into Angel's face and studied the look of concentration etched across his handsome features. "Immortals?"

"I don't know. I'm sensing something here. I'm just not sure what it is yet."

"A demon?" she asked. Surely it wouldn't be this easy.

"Possibly. I don't know. I've only felt something like this once before. It could explain...look, let's go in." He pulled her arm gently and started walking towards the door.

They entered the bar, instantly drawn into the dimly lit, smoke filled interior. She scanned the bar and tugged at Angel's hand, concerned when he didn't budge. "Angel?" She turned to look at her almost lover.

Angel was standing still as a stone, his dark eyes studying every face in the crowd. She felt him stiffen beside her when his eyes locked on another man who had stood and mirrored Angel's stance. She studied the other man--the tall muscled body in blue denim, long dark hair pulled back with a clasp and falling loose around his shoulders, dark brooding eyes, and a sensuous mouth that was now set in a frown as they were studied.

"Stay here," she was informed as her hand was released. She watched Angel take slow steady strides towards the other man who continued to stand and wait, his hand now drawn inside his leather coat as Angel neared his table. 'Like hell, I will,' she thought and took swift deliberate steps to bring her back by Angel's side.

"You don't take orders well," Angel gritted out between his teeth.

"Yeah, so I've heard," she answered back blithely.

~~~~~~

Methos walked towards the bar with long sure strides, his heavy coat swirling around his legs with every step. The damp mist clung to his body, mingling with the icy tingles prickling his skin. He sniffed the air, and looked around with narrowed eyes, while his ears listened for sounds. Any sound, a shuffle of feet, a ragged breath to match his own. Anything that would warrant the feeling of doom seeping into his pores and slithering up his spine. He felt the heavy weight of his broadsword against his side, placed a reassuring hand on its hilt, and quickened his strides. Joe's was just a block away.

He was less than a hundred feet away when they came out from the darkness without warning. Five of them, large, over seven feet tall, their hairless green brown skin wrinkled and slick. They had tiny narrow slits for eyes and huge mouths that made up a third of their faces. On top of their bald domes were two small pointed ears that looked suspiciously like a cat's. He shouldn't have been surprised then, when they turned, they were displaying the long furry tails of a domestic feline, tails that swept the ground behind them as they moved, leaving a sweeping brush of dirt and debris behind them on the asphalt.

He never had time to liberate his sword. They came at him too swiftly, moving as one unit to grab and restrain him. A wrinkled hand covered his mouth and nose and he could no longer breathe, his oxygen supply effectively extinguished. Unconsciousness came quickly.

~~~~~~

Duncan MacLeod swirled the amber liquid in his glass and closed his eyes, letting the somber blues roll through him in gradual waves. Joe's voice was rich, deep, perfectly complimenting the strums of his guitar, the heavy beat of the bass, and the melancholy chords of the piano.

He felt good, his muscles no longer tense after a long workout in the dojo after work. His stomach growled, reminding him that he hadn't eaten, and he opened his eyes to glance at his watch. Eight fifteen. He smiled. Methos would be there soon and they could eat dinner. However, in reality, he knew it was the other man's company and not food that had him waiting in anxious anticipation.

The feeling came from outside, washing over him quickly to grate across his nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. He shivered, his skin pimpling with goose bumps. Tensing, he stood, his eyes locked on the front door in expectation. What the hell was this? Whatever, or whoever, was out there was definitely immortal. But, the buzz wasn't like anything he'd ever felt before. It was different, abrasive. Not the annoying buzz of a new immortal, or the deep resonance of Methos' old and powerful presence. It was off somehow. A mutation that he couldn't explain. He felt the adrenaline rush that normally precipitated an encounter with another of his kind and immediately became nauseous.

The door opened, and he reached inside his coat to grasp the hilt of his sword. A tall dark man entered, wearing black pants and shirt, a long leather coat billowing around his legs as he stepped inside. A small blonde woman stood beside him, wearing jeans, a blue halter top and brown jacket, her hair swept back in a trendy clasp, and her make up accentuating her youthfulness.

The man stopped and met his eyes. He mirrored Mac's stance, muscles tense, dark eyes searching while a small muscle in his jaw twitched at the corner of his mouth. Mac saw his gaze move to his hand which was still hidden inside his coat, and tightened the hold on his blade.

Slowly, the pair moved towards him and he waited, never releasing his hold on his sword, his body held ready for battle. When they were only a few feet apart, the man finally spoke, his voice soft and deep. "I'm not here for you. My name is Angel. This is Buffy. We need to talk."

"Angel? What do we have to talk about?" Duncan noticed that the other man had kept his hands out and visible, and relaxed his own hold on his sword before offering a chair at his table. Duncan waited until the couple were seated, then sat down and studied the other man warily.

"I'm not like you, if that's what you think. I'm a--different. But, we can't talk about it here. We're in Seacouver because you or someone like you may be in danger from forces you cannot fight. Do you have somewhere else we can talk?"

"Aye, but I'm expecting someone for dinner. Have you eaten?" He looked from the man to the younger woman, who shook her head negatively to his question. "Well, why don't we order and Adam should be here soon. Then we can go back to my place and you can tell me all about this danger, Angel."

The other man nodded cautiously, and he motioned the waitress to their table. Surely his lover wouldn't be too much longer. He glanced at his watch again, frowning when he realized Methos was almost half an hour late for their date. He checked his cell phone quickly to make sure the battery was charged and there were no messages, aware the whole time that his guests were monitoring his every move.

"Something wrong?" Angel asked him.

"No, I don't think so. Adam's running late and it's just not like him not to call." He saw them exchange a worried look and for no reason he could ascertain, he rushed to assure them. "He's fine, I'm sure of it. Sometimes he just gets delayed and forgets what time it is."

"Yeah, let's hope," Buffy offered, but she didn't look convinced as she shared another look of concern with Angel.

As soon as their food arrived, Duncan asked for a to-go box and looked at his watch. His gut was churning with fear for his lover who had not yet arrived. The only consolation in his worry was the fact that no electrical activity had rocked the seaport town, giving him hope that whatever had happened, his lover's head was still firmly attached to his shoulders. He noticed the worried looks of his guests once again as he checked his watch and found himself growling in irritation.

"I take it you know what's going on?"

"Well, not exactly, but we have an idea," Angel offered gently.

"Let's go." Duncan stood abruptly and motioned for his two guests to precede him out the door. The drive back to his loft was made in silence. Once inside he sat down opposite them in the small living room area.

"Okay, start talking," he ordered without preamble, his anger building as his nerves frayed with worry. "First, what do you know about me?"

He watched the woman touch Angel's hand in warning, only to receive a heavy sigh in return for her troubles. "No, Buffy. He needs to know the truth. Otherwise, he won't trust us," Angel informed her with surety.

"Good answer," he told them, and waited, a brow raised in expectation for the other man's words.

"I know that you're immortal. You can't die unless someone takes your head," Angel stated calmly.

"If that's true, why give me that information? How do you know I won't kill you now?"

"I don't," Angel said with a wry smile. "But, something is about to go down, and somehow it involves you. I have to trust you or we don't have a chance against this thing."

"What the hell are you?"

Angel looked Duncan in the eye. "I was born the first time in 1727. In 1753, I was reborn--as a vampire." He stopped talking, waiting to see how his statement would be received.

Duncan studied him, knowing the other man was waiting for a reaction to his words. He started to speak, then demurred, running the facts through his mind as he knew them. He didn't believe in vampires, did he? But, then, most people didn't believe in immortals. What if this man was telling the truth? He said he or Methos may be in danger. Looking at his watch again, he determined that his lover was over two hours late with no word accounting for his whereabouts. That was reason enough for him to take this man seriously.

"Is that why your presence is so different?"

"I believe so. I can feel you too, but you don't feel like us. You don't feel like him either."

"I see. How did you find out about us? You said 'you don't feel like him either.' Who are you referring to?" Duncan looked at the young woman who was being eerily silent. "And, what do you know about this?"

"Buffy doesn't know anything about your people. I had to tell her because she's a part of this."

"Explain," Duncan demanded, feeling his guts tie up in knots of fear.

"I'm a slayer," she interjected carefully.

"A what?" Duncan interrupted, needing to have all the information clear in his head before they continued.

"A vampire slayer. Well, a demon slayer actually," she informed him. "One person is chosen and given the strength to fight evil forces in the world. Right now that person is me. My Watcher...."

"I'm sorry. Did you say your Watcher?"

"Yeah," she answered, stopping to give Angel a worried look. "Giles, his name is Giles. Anyway, he found out that something bad was going to go down this Halloween here in Seacouver. Something demon bad," she reiterated in case he had missed that particular point.

Angel jumped in to continue their story. "Something that has to do with ancient blood and lightening and winds. Kind of sounds like a quickening to me."

"A quickening?" Buffy asked him, seemingly perplexed by the word.

"When an immortal is beheaded, all his power and memories are released and taken in by the other immortal. There is a lot of electrical energy discharged into the atmosphere when this happens. It's called a quickening," Duncan informed her matter-of-factly.

"The problem is that we don't know where this demon is coming from or even what it is. Only that the danger exists and we have to stop it," Angel continued.

"Wait a minute, Angel," Buffy stopped him with a touch of her hand. "Giles said you fed off the ancient blood; that you were bonded somehow. And, you were the only one who could kill the demon."

"I think you'd better explain, both for my benefit and for your young lady." Duncan told him. His voice didn't hold a direct threat, but it was a near thing.

"Yeah, guess I'd better. I had heard rumors about your kind soon after I was turned in 1753. But, I had never met any of you until 1780. I was in England then. I wasn't someone you'd want around at that time. When we become vampires, we lose our souls," he stated blandly, his eyes downcast as he spoke.

Angel looked up and met Duncan's shrewd gaze. "We have no conscience, no morals, nothing. All we have is an inner drive to eat and kill. The first time I saw him, I was almost knocked down by the power of his presence and I knew he had to be immortal. Unfortunately, at the time, all I could think about was the need to feed off of someone so powerful."

Duncan clinched his jaw and waited, while the other man gave himself a deprecatory laugh, his eyes downcast as he studied his hands, apparently trying to choose his words carefully before continuing.

"I hadn't counted on anyone being stronger than I was, though. Oh, not physically stronger. We're all given superhuman strength when we turn. But there was something inside him, stronger than my own hate and needs. To put it bluntly, he scared the shit out of me. There was something in his eyes, something I was seeing inside of him that spoke of my own demons. Only he had learned to control his and I hadn't. I didn't wait to see what would happen if he ever released the darkness inside himself. Not with the kind of age and power I felt radiating off of him.

"In 1898, I killed a young gypsy girl. For revenge, her family put a curse on me. They returned my soul. Now, I get to live every day remembering all the pain and horror I inflicted on others."

He looked up and met Duncan's eyes, the pain evident, and Duncan saw the truth in his words. Duncan nodded once, communicating acceptance and understanding before the other man continued.

"I met him again in 1925. He knew immediately that I had changed. It seems that he had quite an extensive knowledge of our kind. It's then that he took me in, took me aside and told me about himself and your race. He also told me about a time when he was fighting his own evil, his own demons, and what it was like to have to live with that guilt every day. In a small way, he saved me. He made me a little stronger and I knew I wasn't alone. At that time, he was very old, thousands of years old. Strong, powerful. We, the undead, can feel that ancient power better than your own race since all living energy draws you to us."

Angel winced. "When we met the second time, I hadn't fed in a while. I was suffering. He offered me his blood. I didn't want to take it, but...."

"But you did," Duncan finished for him, feeling anger twist his gut.

"Yeah, I did," Angel met his gaze squarely, the regret in his face palpable. "But, only enough to make me strong again. I didn't try to drain him, like I would have...before. As it turned out, it didn't take much. His blood was very potent. I think it may have something to do with his age. There was something there--different. When I fed, I felt his power enter me. I'd never felt anything like that before--or since. It was like an electrical current entered every cell in my body. That's when he told me who he really was."

Duncan felt his heart quicken and leaned forward, unmindful that he was settling into the vampire's personal space. "Why would he let you do that? Why would he tell you about us?"

Angel sat back instinctively. "I knew there was something--that he wasn't like normal humans. But, he wasn't like me either. I was in so much pain, trying to cope with everything I'd done--all the people I'd hurt. He was there, he understood, and he cared. We comforted...." He paused and licked his lips. "We comforted one another."

Duncan felt his heart sink and his stomach clench. "You were lovers." It wasn't a question.

"Yes, for a short time."

"Did he give you a name?"

"I think you already know what it is."

"Tell me anyway," Duncan informed him acidly. If this man or his kind had done anything to his lover....

"Methos, and if I'm right and he's here in Seacouver, he's in grave danger. You do know him, don't you?" Angel asked him pointedly.

"Yeah, I know him. It's Adam."

"And he was supposed to meet you hours ago?"

"Yes."

"Angel, we'd better go. I'll call Giles as soon as we get back to our room and see if he's found out anything," Buffy stood and reached for her coat.

Duncan had been so intent on Angel's story that he had almost forgotten the young woman was there -- almost.

"Your Watcher?" Duncan asked with wry amusement.

"Yeah, my Watcher. Why does that word seem to freak you out so much?"

"Because immortals have Watchers too. I'm just surprised, that's all."

"You have a Watcher? Why am I not surprised?" Buffy muttered to herself as they walked to the elevator.

"You think whatever this *thing* is, it has him, don't you?" Duncan asked, so softly his words were almost lost by the noise of the lift. He was surprised when Angel turned around to answer him.

"Yeah, I do. I'm sorry."

'Damn.'

~~~~~~

October 25, 2000

PreDawn: Day One

Methos woke to the nauseating smell of blood and decay, and wondered in the small, still coherent part of his consciousness if it were his own. He felt the burning pain in his arms and vainly tried to pull them down to relieve the pressure, only to be reminded that he was held securely by chains attached to the dank walls of the underground cave.

He opened his eyes and looked around, confirming what he already knew. He was naked, held prisoner by the five demons that had taken him the night before. At least he assumed it was the night before. They were in what appeared to be an underground cave, musty and damp, with shallow water lining the bottom and soaking their feet. He was chained to a far wall, lit torches giving off the only light, which cast a shimmering glow and shadows across the walls in a macabre design. All five demons were there, looking just as he remembered, only larger and more menacing in the lighted shadows.

They saw he was awake and advanced. "So, ancient, you are with us once again." One demon stepped forward and opened his mouth to speak.

Methos narrowed his eyes and studied his captor intently. The creature's mouth covered almost two thirds of its face, looking much like a swinging door when opening to speak. He noticed that its mouth did not move to make the sounds, which under the circumstances, was the least thing to shock him. Now that he could see them more clearly, he saw that they were gender specific as three of them appeared to have rather large penises and scrotums swinging between their legs, while two did not. He assumed that these were the females, even though their genitalia appeared rather nonspecific. 'Wonderful,' he thought. 'They mate.'

He looked up when the leader began to speak once again. "It is good that you have woken. We need you conscious for the ceremony. It begins today."

"Well, it's lovely to have been invited, but you should have asked first" He made an attempt at humor, well aware that his efforts would be fruitless. The demon looked at him blankly, and he shrugged, wincing as the chains tugged his shoulders sharply with the movement. "Fine, why don't you just tell me what this is all about, then."

"This is an ancient ritual. Older than yourself, old one. For seven days we will practice the ritual of Infinitus. We will pierce your ancient skin with fire and watch it burn and heal. This signifies the burning hell where our Demon God sleeps and the healing He will take from your power when He rises."

The demon reached out and touched Methos' face softly with a cool hand, and he had an odd sensation that the demon was smiling even though his lipless mouth never moved.

Drawing back his hand, the demon continued. "Our Demon God Infinitus sleeps in hell, but will awaken every thousand years on the day you call All Hallow's Eve. For seven days we feed on ancient blood, until the seventh day when our Demon Lord rises and drinks His fill. Once He is strong again from your blood, He will feed off your life energy as it leaves your body. Then He will rise to Earth and take His rightful ownership."

Methos closed his eyes and tried to collect his thoughts. Shit. He had hoped that these things, whatever they were, didn't know what he was or how to kill him. Now it not only appeared that they did, but in fact, intended to take his head on Halloween. Wonderful. Just bloody great. How was he going to get out of this?

His contemplations were interrupted when he felt the scurry of feet draw closer and opened his eyes. All five creatures had advanced on him, each carrying a red hot poker in a hairless wrinkled hand. He barely had time to process their intent when all five stabbed him at the same time, driving the scalding lead into different areas of his body. He jerked in his chains, and screamed, as pain enveloped him, searing every nerve ending until he let go of both bladder and bowel, and fell unconscious against the cave wall.

When he woke, they were standing around him, surrounding him, each holding a small gold chalice. "Very good." A female walked up to him and reached out to touch his face. "We are ready. We drink your blood in honor of our God. We will bathe in your life force to make our power strong. The magic from our ritual will make Him strong enough to waken and join us." She removed her hand and stepped away. He followed her with his eyes as she strode over to a small table and picked up a set of knives and began handing them out to the other demons.

He felt fear knot his insides as they all advanced, this time with a knife. Once again, they attacked as a team, each slicing a different area of his body until his blood ran freely, which they collected in their cups. A knife sliced into his abdomen, a hot burning pain that seared into his gut as the knife twisted inside him. Blood ran down, still warm from his body, until the cold rim of the chalice pressed against his skin underneath to catch the flow.

His breathing became rapid and shallow, and he retched, tasting nothing but the acrid bile that burned his throat, until another knife sliced through his groin, stopping just short of his penis as his blood gushed from the site. Once again he felt the cold lip of the cup as it pressed against his scrotum and he shuddered. Another slice across his chest and he was convulsing in shock. He was only vaguely aware of the burn down an arm and a leg and knew it was a blessing.

It was the blue sparks from his own healing that brought him to in the end. He convulsed once and dragged in a painful racking breath. He hurt all over even as his muscles and tendons healed in his tortured body. Pulling himself up to his full height to relieve the pressure in his arms, he looked around. The gold ceremonial chalices were lying scattered at his feet, empty save the tell tale remnants of blood that coated and dribbled from each vessel.

Far away, he heard moans and grunts, and looked into the shadows, groaning when he found his captors at the far end of the cave. All five were rolling in the dirty water, their bodies covered in his blood and their legs entwined around one another, with rhythmic undulating movements of their hips which looked suspiciously like the human sex act.

He wasn't aware that he had groaned aloud until their collective heads came up to study him and they disengaged to advance. The male creature's penises were swollen and erect now, swaying with their movements as they pressed close. "We have partaken in your blood, ancient. Now is the time for ceremony. Watch us as we celebrate the rebirth of our God, as the climax from our bodies release the power from your blood."

With that proclamation he pushed another male to the floor and savagely thrust his cock into a hidden orifice under its tail. He began thrusting in and out, grunts and moans of pleasure escaping a mouth that was held open, but not moving. Another male threw a female to the floor and spread her legs wide before thrusting inside her without warning. The other three demons jumped on one another, body parts engaging immediately as their sex organs thrust together frantically.

Methos closed his eyes against the sight in front of him, and attempted to ignore the sounds of skin slapping against skin, the harsh sounds of their grunts as they echoed throughout the cave, until the sounds became frenzied and he had to look again. This time he didn't close his eyes, instead watching them with amazement as their movements surpassed any amount of sexual excitement he had ever witnessed. They were pistoning in and out of one another's body with an inhuman speed, the force of which was almost violent, until they were all jerking in what appeared to be one large shared orgasm.

'Christ,' he thought to himself. 'They're getting off on drinking my blood.' He closed his eyes, and fought against the hysterical giggle threatening to escape his parched lips, shivering against the chill and gloom of his damp prison. He could still hear the sounds of their frenzied sex, and groaned in disgust. A face floated across his mind, settling behind tightly closed lids, and he concentrated on that image instead, a small comfort amidst the pain of the present moment. He remembered dark eyes, a lush mouth--Duncan--and for a few moments the pain in his healing body subsided. Then the pain came back, acute and sharp, as the chill prickled his skin and his gut twisted in fear.

How the hell was he going to get out of this?

~~~~~~

Sunnydale

Giles shut his suitcase impatiently and stormed to the door. Who the hell was banging on his door at this hour? He yanked it open and stepped back to allow Willow and Xander to enter.

"What are you two doing here? What's wrong?" he inquired.

"Nothing," Willow squeaked.

"We want to go with you," Xander supplied at the same time.

"Well, that's certainly commendable, but you know Buffy doesn't want you there," he told them stiffly.

"Yeah, but we can help her," Willow assured him. "You know, the Scooby gang, all together. Fighting demons."

"Or is she afraid we'll be in the way with her and Angel?" Xander asked sarcastically.

"Xander, you haven't exactly been Mr. Accepting Guy when Angel is around," Willow reminded him.

"Don't you two understand?" Giles interjected before their bickering got out of hand. "Willow, your powers are tenuous at best after our fight with Adam, and she doesn't want to put you in a situation she can't control. And, yes, Xander, Angel is involved in this, whether you like it or not. She's having a hard enough time being with him right now without your anger getting in the way. Let her do this without you this time." He looked at them pleadingly and smiled when he saw signs they were wavering. "Look, I really must be going. Buffy called me and they could use my help. It seems there's a lot more involved here than we first imagined, and we don't have much time."

"All right." Xander said reluctantly. "But, if she needs us, you'd better call."

"Agreed. I promise. Both of you."

"All right. But, Giles." Willow winced when he quirked his brow at her questionably.

"Yes?"

"There may be one little problem."

"What?" He heard a distinct edge to his own voice.

"Spike came to my dorm last night. He wanted to know why Buffy and Angel were in Seacouver together."

"How did he know?" Giles asked perplexed.

"He said the word is out in the vamp community that Buffy left town, and I think he keeps tabs on Angel."

"Why on Earth would he do that?"

"Jealousy. And, I think he's a little scared of Angel."

"I see. Well, yes, that's certainly a possibility. You didn't tell him?"

"Well." She winced again. "I tried not to, but you know how persuasive he can be."

Giles sighed deeply, and just barely managed not to roll his eyes in disgust. "Yes, I know. But I also know how much trouble Spike can be. If he shows up, he'll be nothing but a nuisance. I don't trust him. Besides that, he never does anything unless it benefits himself in some manner."

"Oh, I don't know." Willow smiled and shifted her feet. "I kinda think he's got a crush on Buffy."

"Don't be absurd. Of course he doesn't," Giles chided. "But, I wouldn't put it past him to cause trouble. He quite hates Angel."

"Yeah, well we have that in common," Xander grumbled.

"Look," Giles sighed. "I have a plane to catch. If you see Spike again, try and keep him away."

~~~~~~

October 26, 2000

Day Two

Buffy jumped up from bed and headed for the door. "Hang on, I'm coming," she yelled to the insistent knocking.

She was stopped by a strong, steady hand on her shoulder before she could pull the door open.

"Buffy, wait. You don't know who or what's on the other side of that door."

"It's probably Giles, Angel. He was supposed to be here hours ago."

"Maybe, just don't take any unnecessary chances, okay?"

"Fine, you open the door." She threw up her hands and pulled away in a mock huff.

He grinned at her retreating back and opened the door, thankful the sun went down early this time of year. More thankful, still, when Rupert Giles entered the room with a flourish of words, carrying the texts they needed for research.

"About time. Buffy, Angel, we have to hurry. I fear time is running out. Especially if what you are telling me is true, and they do have an ancient already in their grasp for the ceremony."

"Yeah, it's true. Evidently, there's this really old guy running around and they found him," Buffy told him simply.

"He's been missing since the twenty-fourth. MacLeod is frantic," Angel added matter-of-factly.

"As well he should be. As we all should be, in fact." Giles adjusted his glasses and opened a text to place it on the small hotel room table. "Here, these are the demons we are searching for."

Buffy and Angel flanked him, and looked at the pages he indicated with a sweep of his hand.

"Ooh, like real ugly type guys. No hair and they definitely need some wrinkle cream."

"Yes, well, I'm sure they would appreciate that when we find them. Actually, they do have hair. But only on their tails. See, here is another picture." He pointed to the opposite page where a profile view was drawn in perfect detail.

"What do we know about them, Giles?" Angel asked realistically.

"Like I stated in Sunnydale, they worship the Demon Infinitus. I didn't truly understand the ramifications at the time, but, of course, then I didn't know about immortals. Do they really exist?" He looked questioningly at Angel.

"Yeah, they exist."

"And one of them is really over five thousand years old?"

"That's what they say," Buffy offered lamely.

"Extraordinary. Well, it seems that these demons partake in a seven day ritual every thousand years around the time of Halloween. Except...."

"Except ?" Buffy prompted him.

"Well, except, there is no record of any activity in several millennium ."

"I don't imagine there are too many ancient guys just walking around, Giles," Buffy reminded him.

"No, I imagine not. However, if what you tell me is true, this guy was certainly walking around a thousand years ago. Why not take him then?"

"Maybe they don't think four thousand is old enough," Buffy offered.

"Most likely, they couldn't find him," Angel interjected.

"I have to agree with Angel. For some reason the place of the ceremony is almost as important as the ceremony itself. It's only because a series of coincidences have placed the ancient one here at this time that has allowed this to take place."

"So what do we do?" Buffy asked, already becoming impatient with the discussion.

"We have to find them and kill them, before they have a chance to fulfill the prophecy and release this Demon, whatever he is." Angel turned to face her.

"Quite right. Where can I find this Joe Dawson you told me about? I feel time is of the utmost importance here and we need to get started."

"He's at a place called Joe's Blues Bar. Here's the address and his phone number." Buffy dug out a slip of paper from her purse and handed it to Giles. "He's Duncan's Watcher."

"His Watcher. Indeed. How interesting. Okay, well, let's give him a call then, shall we?" Giles reached for the phone and began to dial until an annoying and incessant pounding on the door caused him to pause. He replaced the phone in its cradle and waited while Angel stealthily glided towards the door and opened it.

"Well, there you are, mates. I was hoping I wasn't too late for the party." The bleached blond vampire leaned against the door jam, and peered into the room with a knowing smirk.

"Spike," all three moaned in unison.

~~~~~~

Joe Dawson shifted in his office chair and groaned against the pain in his hips and stumps. He couldn't wait to get home and take off his prosthesis. It had been a long day, hell, a long week after the old pain in the ass had gone missing. He looked over at the man sitting on the other side of his desk and sighed.

"So you're a Watcher?" he asked the tall proper Englishman who was now sorting out several books across Joe's desk.

"Yes. To the slayer." Giles peered up from his work, and answered with a slight smile and nod.

"Uh, huh. And the slayer is...."

"The vampire slayer. The chosen one. And you're a Watcher as well. You watch... tell me again what they are."

"Immortals. They've been around for thousands of years. They're a special race of people who can't die unless you cut their heads from their bodies. We watch them and keep their history. But we don't interfere."

"Well, yes. We watch also, but we're more in the role of teacher. We assist the slayer. Guide her if you will. Buffy tells me you watch this MacLeod?"

"Yeah, Duncan Macleod. He's been my assignment for over twenty years. But, I guess if you believe in vampires, this is nothing new to you."

"Well, certainly not much different than the other extraordinary beings I've been in contact with through my slayer. But, new? Yes, I've never heard of immortals before. Most interesting actually. And, this other chap, the one they took...he's really thousands of years old?"

"Adam? Yeah, at least five thousand by our records. His own memories are a little thin at that point. He remembers taking his first head five thousand years ago, but before that...." Joe held up his hands in surrender to the thought and shrugged.

"Yes, I see. You know the area. Do you have any ideas where we should start looking?"

"Yeah, here's a map. Mac has already started tearing the town apart looking for him. And I have my own people looking here." He pointed to marked points on the map with a pen as he talked. "And your people are working this area. Mike is going to close up the place for me tonight. So, I figure we can leave and cover this area here." He looked up to gauge the other man's understanding as he pointed to an area by the docks.

"Yes, that's fine. The sooner we get started then, the better."

~~~~~~

 

They stepped out of the taxi and headed down the dark street toward the loft.

"When are we going to kick some demon ass, mates? I thought we had some major activity going on here?" Spike groused to his companions.

"We've got to find them first, unless you know something you're not telling us," Buffy informed him irritably.

Spike smiled and ignored her barb, choosing to prod her instead. Sometimes it was just too hard to resist.

"What does this MacLeod have to do with the bloke the demons are holding?" he asked as they headed down a secluded alley.

"They're lovers. I could smell another man all over MacLeod when we were there. And the scent was all over the loft. MacLeod is an immortal too, but not as old," Angel told him, grabbing Buffy's hand to pull her close as they shuffled around a garbage bin.

Spike watched them in amusement, noticing the way Buffy frowned at Angel's words. "Got a problem with the guy-guy thing, slayer?" he asked with a chuckle.

"No, of course not, Spike" she answered indignantly. "I'm hardly in the position to be narrow-minded girl. And I'm fine with Will and Tara."

"You sure it's not because I told you most immortal beings are bisexual, Buffy?" Angel asked knowingly. "Or is it because I told you about Adam?"

"Ah," Spike laughed out loud. "I see. You finally told her about your own little sexual diversions, huh, mate?"

"No, what I told her," Angel answered through gritted teeth, "was that all of us who have been around more than a century have learned that love and sex doesn't always come in one kind of package. We all tend to have bisexual tendencies. We've just had longer to explore them, that's all."

"Speak for yourself, bloke. I've never looked in the other direction myself. Never had to. There's always been a lovely at my beck and call."

"Yeah, right," Angel laughed at him. "Buffy knows there's a sexual payoff when we take blood. You're going to tell me you've never fed from a man and had an orgasm, Spike?"

"That's bloody different and you know it. I love killing, and quite frankly, I miss it. So if you're done flapping your jaws, let's find this MacLeod and go kill your bloody demons."

"I think he's protesting a little too much, don't you, Buffy?" Angel turned towards the slayer and laughed.

"Yeah, I'd say so. Something you're not telling us, Spike?"

"Shut the hell up," he muttered under his breath before stomping away from them.

~~~~~~

Duncan sent the lift to the ground floor of the dojo and waited. He felt the abrasive presence, not immortal, but something potentially as dangerous, and tensed, becoming concerned when he realized the feeling was accentuated by a second presence, completely asynchronous from the first. He picked up his katana and hurried to the gate, prepared to battle with whoever exited his elevator.

He lifted the gate and invited his guests in, then stood aside and watched as Buffy and Angel emerged, followed by a slender blond man with dark eyes and sculpted cheekbones. He felt the man's presence scrape across his nerves like sandpaper, and shivered, as he raised his sword. "I'm Duncan MacLeod of the clan MacLeod," he introduced himself, his katana held up in warning.

"How nice for you, mate," the blond answered snidely before turning to look him in the eye. "Nasty buzz you got there. I take it you're one of those immortal blokes, then."

Duncan glanced at his guests who were shooting peeved looks at the man's back.

"Duncan, this is Spike. In case you haven't figured it out yet, he's a vampire too," Angel informed him.

"Yeah, I gathered. Your buzz feels pretty nasty too, 'mate'," he returned bitingly and lowered his sword. He motioned for them to sit down in the living room and followed them in. "I take it, you've had your soul returned to you too, then?"

"Me?" Spike turned to study him. "Not likely. I've got this bloody chip in my head, thanks to the Initiative."

Duncan noted the man's agitation and looked at his guests with a questioning glare.

"The Initiative was a group of military types in Sunnydale who captured demons and studied them. Sometimes they altered them, like with Spike," Buffy told him simply.

"Altered?" Duncan asked, wanting to fully understand everything about the strange man sitting in his loft.

"Altered? You make it sound like I've been neutered. They put a chip in my brain which makes me incapable of hurting humans. I can't feed off them or hurt them in any other way physically. Don't let that fool you though. I'm still a bloody bad ass. I can kill as many demons as I want. And that probably goes for you too, since you're immortal."

Duncan suppressed a smile and addressed Buffy. "You're the slayer, if you say he's okay, I'll accept it, but I don't necessarily trust him. Are you okay with him being a part of this?"

"Yeah, I guess. Like he said, he can kill demons. But, if he gets out of line, feel free to kill him," she offered cheerfully as an aside.

"Thanks, I will." He looked pointedly at the blond who was still muttering under his breath from his seat in the corner of the room.

Once that had been settled, he sat down and faced his guests. "Have you found out anything?"

"Not enough. We think we know what they're trying to do, but we're not any closer to finding them, if that's what you mean. Giles is here. He went to the bar to meet with your Watcher. They're going to take a different part of the city and look tonight," Angel answered him. How about you? I take it you haven't had any luck?

Duncan shook his head. "None. I've driven all over the city. If Adam is here I should have felt his buzz."

"He might not be where you can sense him. Demons tend to live in disgusting places. If they're underground, you might not feel him." Buffy interjected sensibly.

Duncan thought about that while trying to construe places the demons could hide. "You're sure they're going to kill him, then?" he asked, fearing the worst.

"Yeah, we're sure. Giles was able to decipher the rest of the text pertaining to these guys. It's pretty old and he had difficulty with the language. Luckily he was able to do it. Not many people could translate a language that old."

Duncan smiled to himself. Well, there was one other person who could. Unfortunately, that was the man they sought. "And, what did it say?"

"Are you sure you need to hear this?" Angel asked him.

"I'm sure." Duncan sat up straighter and looked Angel in the eyes.

"Well," Buffy jumped in, "the ugly hairless ones are the ones holding him. Giles thinks they are undergoing a ritual that lasts seven days, finishing on Halloween on day seven."

"He thinks they're drinking Adam's blood in this ritual, Duncan. It also speaks of horrible torture that escalates every time the ritual is performed. And, it ends with the demons engaging in a wild sex orgy with one another," Angel continued gently.

"What? And they didn't invite us," the comment came from the blond with the cockney accent.

Ignoring Spike, Duncan stood and reached for his coat. "I'm ready. We need to get going if we're going to find them." He slipped his katana into the hidden sheath of his coat and headed for the lift without further comment.

"Duncan, wait. What weapons do you have? I mean, besides the sword," Angel asked as Duncan lifted the elevator gate.

"I have a gun, and Adam's knives. How about you?" He looked at them pointedly.

They gathered in the lift. "I'm the slayer. I never go anywhere without weapons," Buffy answered slyly while opening the small bag she had carried in. Duncan looked inside, saw the assorted contents of knives, crossbow, and stakes, and smiled.

"We're ready," Angel told him self assuredly.

"Let's go then." He pulled down the gate and punched the button to deliver them to the ground floor. He turned to Spike as they descended. "If you cause Adam to come to any harm due to your actions, I will personally turn you to dust. Do you understand?"

"Oh, I understand. I wouldn't think of hurting your little bed mate," Spike mocked back at him.

Duncan started to retort, thought better of it, and turned away in disgust instead. He'd leave his anger for the things holding Methos. And, if that meant he had to kill this one too, then he was more than up to it.

~~~~~~

October 28, 2000

Day Four

Methos shivered, the cold prickling his skin like hundreds of tiny icy knives. He was no longer standing, too weak from blood loss and hunger to support his own weight. They had taken him down from the wall and rechained him to the floor of the cave, and while it took the painful weight from his arms, he was now lying in filthy water.

They had already started their daily ritual, lighting the torches that would surround his body. The grill stood ready, the coals already red hot. He watched each of them move to the grill and insert an iron poker into the flames, until it settled firmly within the coals. Their ceremonial chalices were arranged on a silver tray, a set of sharpened knives arranged neatly on a gold tray next to their newly built altar.

He watched them warily with a mixture of trepidation and rage. His blood was pounding in his ears, and he pulled at his chains anxiously, only to fall back into the dank water, resigned, as they surrounded the altar and began chanting in a language older than himself. He listened, and translated some of the words, his mind now hazy from pain and fatigue. "Demon God of Endless Life," he translated as they chanted over and over, moving towards the grill to pick up a hot poker. 'Well,' he thought. 'You fucking bastard, are you the one responsible for the immortal race?'

They came towards him, and he flinched, surprised when one stepped forward and answered his thoughts.

"No, ancient. Our Demon God did not make your race. But, He needs your blood and your life force in order to rise to His place on Earth. It is only your ancient blood that can restore Him to His own immortality."

Before he could contemplate the demon's words or process the fact that they could read his mind, they had speared him through with the hot pokers and his mind went blank as he screamed out in agony.

He knew he had died when he came to. His body was still repairing, the blue sparks of immortal healing still dancing across his skin as it knitted the knife wounds together. They were still drinking his blood, a look of ecstasy on each of their faces as they drank deeply. They were taking more blood from him each day, allowing it to flow freely into the chalices before drinking their fill. He knew by the seventh day, they would completely drain his body of blood, before taking his head.

He waited, watching, knowing they would soon begin the last phase of their ritual. It began as a slow dance, their bodies swaying together, until they had moved to the middle of the room, their bodies in perfect alignment. Then suddenly, they pounced, the movement as sudden as it was violent, throwing one another to the ground. The next thing he knew they were rutting, hard and fast, their bodies humping each other in a frenzy of grunts and violent thrusts. He watched in fascination as they began throwing themselves across the room, still inside their mates, their bodies hitting the water with a thud and a splash.

Once they had all screamed out in orgasm, a cry that almost shattered his mind with its intensity, they separated and moved towards him again. He watched warily as one of the females picked up a torch and handed it to her mate. She collected all five, giving one to each of them, until once again he was surrounded. He looked up at them, and knew they could see the pleading in his eyes. He saw their arms descend with the torches, felt the heat near his body, and closed his eyes.

He was still screaming long after the fire scorched the skin from his body.

~~~~~~

October 30, 2000

10:00 PM

Day Six

Joe Dawson entered the loft and made a mental inventory of the people already accumulated in the small living room area. Rupert Giles was seated at the couch wearing a suit and jacket, a large book open in front of him as he skimmed the pages.

Buffy Summers was sitting on the couch, wearing a pair of dark blue jeans and a heavy blue woolen sweater. Her hair was swept up in a ponytail, but her makeup was perfect. She looked up at him and smiled when he entered the room, and he nodded, returning the smile. He saw her bag sitting next to her feet and knew it contained a wide assortment of weapons.

Angel was sitting next to her, wearing his usual dark jeans and shirt, and still wearing his long coat to guard against the chill. 'Did vampires get cold?' he wondered to himself, then shrugged as he knew it didn't matter. Not now, not with the old man in danger. He'd worry about vampires later. Angel looked up at him and nodded his greeting, the look of worry never leaving his face. The man could almost brood as well as MacLeod.

Spike was pacing the room, clearly impatient for action, and annoyed at their delays. He was dressed in black, still wearing his coat, his blond hair a sharp contrast to his otherwise dark clothing and pale skin. Joe saw the vampire eye him warily and snarl, before turning away to pace in the opposite direction.

Duncan motioned to Joe when he saw him. "Have a seat, Joe. We're ready to get started," Duncan called to him as he slipped a knife into his boot.

Joe walked over to a chair and sat beside Buffy and Angel, the click of his cane the only sound in the otherwise quiet room. He took the time to study Mac, notice the drawn look on his face, the same look of pain and worry he had been wearing since Methos was taken. He, too, was dressed entirely in black, his dark hair pulled off his shoulders in a ponytail.

"Spike, come sit down, if you plan on joining us," Giles informed the vampire irritably.

Joe heard an incoherent retort, and turned his head to watch the blond move around the room and take a seat at the kitchen island.

"Are we ready?" Mac asked.

"Yes, here's the map of the area in question." Giles opened a map across the coffee table and began pointing at an area already circled off with a dark marker. "This is where Angel's and Buffy's sources narrowed down their activity." They heard Spike snort from across the room.

"Do I want to know?" Duncan asked darkly as he monitored their behavior.

"Let's just say that Buffy can be very persuasive," Angel assured him.

Joe nodded when Giles looked to him for confirmation and picked up the thread of conversation. "From what we can tell, they have to be holed up somewhere under this part of the city in the underground caves. Mac, we'll find him," he told the Highlander gently.

"We have to, Joe. Our time is running out. In two days...." Mac looked at Joe and tensed, gripping the back of the couch until his knuckles turned white. Not yet, and Joe understood. He had never seen Mac as happy as he'd been with Methos. Not since Tessa. And for the hundredth time since this had begun, he wondered how Mac would survive if they couldn't get to Methos in time.

"Do we know how to get in without being seen?" Angel asked from beside him.

"We believe so. Look." Giles motioned with his pen. "Here and here are entrances into the caves. Hopefully, they won't be expecting us. Buffy, you and Angel can enter through this area here at the East end docks. MacLeod, you will enter here." He pointed to a spot on the map. "This will be a back door into the cave, if you will, but there's no guarantee that Angel and Buffy will be able to distract them for you. Joe, you and I will wait outside and provide a lookout. And--" he paused. "Well, backup if they need it," he continued after clearing his throat and adjusting his glasses.

"You do have a weapon, just in case?"

"Yeah" Joe opened his jacket and displayed his firearm. "I'm ready."

"Well, remember, Joe. We don't know how to kill them yet. That may only buy you time. Use it, but get out of their path. We won't be helping your friend by letting you get killed," Giles continued.

"Joe, maybe...." Mac finally sat down on the couch and turned to Joe.

Joe knew what Mac was going to say and felt his skin prickle in irritation. "Don't go there, MacLeod. I'm in. All the way. Just get the old man out, you got that."

"Yeah, I got it. Thanks Joe."

Joe saw him attempt a smile and returned it. "We'll get him back, Mac."

"Well, I'm bloody glad you're all so sure. What do you want me to do?" Spike asked.

"Stay the hell out of my way" Mac turned on him angrily.

"Don't you want some backup, mate?" Spike asked him with amusement.

"I have backup. I don't trust you, and I won't risk his life unnecessarily."

"Mr. MacLeod," Giles started to speak, but was interrupted by Angel.

"Mac, we don't know what we'll find."

"No, we don't. But I'm getting him out of there. You just take care of the demons," Mac informed them. "Adam is my lover," Mac paused again, defiant, as if expecting a calamitous response, but no one spoke or reacted in shock. "I will get him out," he repeated. "Trust me on this."

"Fine. Spike, you stick with me and Buffy," Angel acquiesced.

"Thrills. Well, slayer, I'm ready if you are."

"Great, just great." Buffy stood and reached for her bag. "Let's go."

Joe waited until everyone had stood and walked towards the lift. He got up with the help of his cane and ambled over to Mac who was slipping his katana inside his coat. "Mac, you sure about this? It wouldn't hurt to have some backup."

"I'll have backup, Joe. You and Giles will be there, and those three will be inside with me. But, I need to go in alone. I don't know what I'm facing or what I'll find." He looked up with pain filled eyes and Joe nodded.

"Okay, man. I guess I understand. Just don't take any unnecessary chances."

"I could tell you the same thing. Let's get moving. He's already been gone too long."

~~~~~~

Duncan eased into the mouth of the cave, pressing against the walls to both camouflage his movements and stay out of the putrid water lining the floor. He had waited until he received the signal from Joe and Giles before entering after Buffy and the vampires were firmly ensconced inside and ready for his entrance.

He was several feet into the cave before he saw them. Five large green brown demons, hairless except for their cat ears and tails, milling around the interior of the cave, seemingly oblivious to the activity surrounding them. He spotted Buffy and Angel on the other side of the cave, and waited for their signal. He didn't see Spike, and ground his teeth in frustration, hoping the other man's impulsiveness wouldn't be a cause for failure.

In the end, the signal came from one of the demons when it saw a shadow and looked up, spotting Buffy in the wings. In a flash she jumped down, effectively taking the demon down with a drop kick to its head. In a flurry of movement, they had all advanced, the demons towards Buffy, and the men into the melee to protect her.

Duncan fought, kicking and punching the large beasts as they attacked. Beside him, he saw Buffy take out another demon with a chop to its chest before drop kicking it across the cave. He barely had time to register her moves or wonder at the speed and agility in which she fought. It was one thing to hear about the slayer's strength, it was quite another to witness it. He was suddenly glad she was on his side when she took out a knife and speared a demon in the heart.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the way to kill them, as the wounded demon pulled out the knife and threw it aside, before standing once again to continue its fight. Duncan cursed and pulled his sword as he took another demon down. Hoping his instincts were right, he swung with all his might, and decapitated the demon as it rushed him again. He stepped back as the demon's head flew off and hit the ground, splashing his legs with the putrid water. The large body fell backwards and stopped moving.

He saw Buffy take another demon down and moved behind her, pushing her out of the way. With another slice of his katana, he took its head, and stood back to give the body room to fall.

He grabbed Buffy's arm and ran with her to the other side of the cave where Angel and Spike were fighting the last three demons. All five were in a raging battle for their lives, their strength surprisingly equal as they threw each other against the cave walls with powerful blows. Angel pulled a knife from his coat and danced forward, slicing the demon across its abdomen. The demon raised its head and howled, its large mouth opening, but not moving with the sound. Then once again, it advanced, the large abdominal wound closing in front of their eyes.

Duncan stood back in shock when both vampire's faces changed, metamorphosing into snarling beasts with fangs. He heard them growl and watched them attack, suddenly turning vicious as Spike tore the head from one of the demon's body. Angel threw another across the cave, throwing himself on it after it slammed against the wall.

Duncan raised his blade and yelled at Spike who had the fourth demon cornered against a wall. Spike looked up, saw his intent and threw himself out of the way as the blade swung in a wide arch, slicing the demon's head from its shoulders.

In the corner, Angel and Buffy were kicking and punching the last demon who was still trying to fight them off. Duncan heard Spike's voice and turned as the vampire strode towards the others.

"Let me take care of this one, mate." Spike growled and jumped into the fight, catching the demon as Buffy drop kicked him in Spike's direction. Spike grabbed the creature's head and twisted, until he was dangling the bloody head in his hand, and watching the body fall into the water.

They assessed the carnage while Duncan looked around the cave, anxiously searching for his lover. He saw the altar on the other side of the cave. In the center of the altar lay Methos, naked and drenched in blood, his arms and legs chained. Duncan ran through the water until he reached the man chained to the cave floor. Reaching into the water, he pulled at the chains, grunting with the effort, until he felt movement behind him and looked up to see Angel and Spike standing over them.

"We got it, mate," Spike informed him as he and Angel knelt down, each taking a chain, pulling on it until it snapped in their hands. Duncan took a deep breath and let it out, feeling both relief and fatigue from the spent adrenaline. He nodded and looked into their faces, his gaze transfixed when their features smoothed out to their human form.

"Thanks," he said in a barely audible whisper, as he turned his attention back to the unconscious immortal in the water. He gently picked him up and cradled him to his chest as he heard Angel place a call to their Watchers on his cell.

"Giles, we got him. Come in with some flashlights and blankets."

A few minutes later he heard the tap of Joe's cane on the uneasy footing and yelled for him to stop while Giles brought down a pile of blankets. He took the blankets and gently wrapped his lover inside their warmth before picking him up in a fireman's hold to carry him out.

He felt Angel's hand on his shoulder and turned to smile his thanks. They exited the cave and went to their vehicles to meet back at the loft.

~~~~~~

They made their way in the loft, Duncan now carrying his dead lover in his arms. He carefully laid him down, uncovering him to assess the damage. He skimmed over Methos' body with sure hands, grimacing as he noted each slowly healing mark. His lover was pale and thin, the clear markings of cuts and burns still marring the usually flawless skin.

He saw Buffy watching them, and modestly covered Methos' genitals, smiling when he saw her turn away and blush in response.

"Need help cleaning him up?" Angel asked him as he finished his examination.

"No, I can handle it. You've done enough. Thank you."

"This may not be over yet," he heard Giles authoritative tones from the living room.

Duncan stepped away from the bed and looked at him in disbelief. "But, we got all of them. We have Adam back."

"Well, no, actually we didn't. We don't know if we got all of them. You killed all that were in the cave, but who's to say how many more may be out there. And there's still one day until Halloween. I'm not sure they won't try again before the time is up. And even if we did get all of the demon's minions...."

"We didn't get him," Angel finished for him.

"Yes, quite correct," Giles stated simply.

"They'll have a hell of a time getting through us to reach him," Joe informed them sternly, while walking to the bed to look at his friend.

"I can watch him," Duncan told them with certainty. His lover had a lot of healing to do, and the last thing he needed was an audience.

"Look, I know you need some time alone, but I can stay downstairs. Just give me a place where the direct sun can't get in and I'll keep guard. This way, you can take care of him and know you're safe," Angel volunteered.

Duncan looked at him and sighed. He knew he could use the extra manpower and he did trust the other man. And, Angel already knew what they were. Who Methos was. "All right, but just until after Halloween," he acquiesced.

"Well, I'm out of here." Spike told them with a nod. "You blokes can stay and do the baby-sitting duty. By the way, you wouldn't happen to know where there's a butcher close by would you?"

"Come with me and Giles, Spike. You can have some of Angel's blood supply," Buffy informed him coolly.

"The slayer feeding a vampire?" Joe asked incredulously.

"Yes, well, since Spike can't feed on humans anymore, he has to find his supply using more conventional means. Angel, I'll be back at the hotel with Buffy and Spike. Call if you see any signs of trouble." Giles collected his books and map and started towards the lift. He stopped in front of Joe, and turned back to face the others. "I fear we have not seen the end of this. Buffy, I shall need your help back at the hotel. We'll return before dusk." He looked at Mac and Angel. "You should be safe enough until then."

Buffy reached up and touched Angel's face. "I could stay with you," she offered.

"No, go with Giles. He's right. We'll be safe enough until tonight," he returned softly.

Spike rolled his eyes. "Blood?" he reminded them snidely.

"Yes, well. Come along then, Buffy... and Spike," Giles amended as he turned to leave.

~~~~~~

Duncan washed his lover from head to toe, gently cleansing the muck and blood from his body. Methos had already revived and died again, finally reviving to slip into a deep sleep. Duncan heard him cough, and raised his head up into his lap to stroke his hair away from his forehead.

"It's all right, Methos. You're safe. It's over," he soothed as he stroked the silky brown hair.

He watched hazel green eyes open and smiled when he saw them focus on his face.

"Mac?"

"Hi. Welcome back."

"How'd you find me?"

"Long story. How about something to eat?"

He saw Methos wince and rushed to assure him. "Why don't we start with some beef broth? Then when you're feeling a little stronger, I'll fix you something else."

"Sounds good." Methos choked on a cough and grimaced.

Duncan slid Methos' head off his lap and put a pillow under him gently. A few minutes later, he returned to the bed with a warm cup of broth and a cup of juice. Settling behind him, he eased the other man up to lie against his chest and began feeding him the broth, stopping occasionally to let him sip the juice. He heard Methos sigh and set down the bowl.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Duncan asked him softly. He waited, then closed his eyes in relief when the other man finally began to speak.

"Yes, but not about what happened," he was told solemnly. "I'm not ready for that yet. Please understand."

"It's okay. I'm here when you're ready. You know that. What then?" Duncan inquired gently.

"Me. Us. Duncan, I know I haven't invested as much of myself as you have to our relationship. I know I've hurt you." Methos sighed deeply in Duncan's arms.

"Methos, we don't...."

"Yes, we do. I do. Do you want to know what kept me going while I was being held? Hmm? It was you, Duncan. The knowledge that I had you to come back to."

Methos paused once again and Duncan held his breath and remained very still, waiting for him to continue.

"Do you want to know what hurt me the worst? What frightened me the most?" Methos asked blandly.

Duncan shook his head, knowing his lover could not see the movement.

"It was the thought that I would never see you again. Of all the times I had hurt you. That you might not care if I came back." Methos shivered against him and laid his head back against Duncan's chest.

Duncan kissed Methos' head and hugged him closer. "Don't, Methos. I won't pretend that it never hurt, but I always understood. I not only want you back, I want you to stay. I love you. Now rest. We can talk about this later when this is all over and you're stronger."

"I do love you," Methos whispered softly and closed his eyes.

"I know." Duncan replied gently. He wrapped his arms around Methos' chest and hugged him tightly until he had fallen asleep once again. Duncan felt the tightness in his chest ease slightly, and kissed the slumbering head lying against his breast. He felt the first tears fall, and let them escape unhindered, until they were sliding down and dropping on Methos' skin.

He felt a movement and looked down into concerned eyes. "Duncan?" Methos said his name softly, while reaching up to trace a tear as it fell down Mac's face.

"Shh, it's okay, Methos. We're okay," he soothed until they were both asleep.

~~~~~~

October 30

10 am: Seacouver Hilton

Buffy returned to her room and flopped on the bed. "So what did you have in mind?"

"If I'm right, this is far from over, Buffy. I think we need to call Willow and Xander. We may need them."

"I don't want to put them in danger," Buffy reminded him with a frown.

"I realize that. But, the demons fed off Adam's blood for six days already. Infinitus will be quite powerful when he rises tonight. We could use Willow's powers to help us. What about Spike? Do you think we can count on him?"

"I think so. I gave him some blood from Angel's supply, and he seemed to be in a better mood."

"Well, I certainly hope so. We're going to need everyone at their best tonight." He shook his head ruefully and picked up the phone.

~~~~~~

8PM

Duncan smoothed back the soft brown hair from his lover's forehead and bent down to plant a kiss on his cheek. "Sleep, old man. You deserve it," he muttered softly.

He felt the burning buzz of a vampire and stiffened, reaching for his katana instinctively as he strode towards the door. He heard the knock and took a deep breath, and let it out, feeling his muscles relax as he opened the door.

He stood back and allowed his guests to enter, raising a questioning brow as two unexpected visitors slipped past him in the doorway.

A short red headed young woman stood in the center of his home and looked around in wonderment. "Wow," she gushed before turning to stare at him instead. "Wow," she repeated again, appearing flustered.

"Willow, come sit down." A dark haired man guided her towards the couch irritably.

Giles stepped past him to the couch and spread his books on the coffee table. "Duncan, this is Willow and Xander. They will be helping us tonight."

Duncan nodded towards them, turned towards Angel and Buffy, and motioned towards the living room area. "Have a seat. Joe will be here shortly. Did you find out anything?" He looked pointedly at Giles.

"Yes, I believe we have a better understanding of this creature now," Giles assured him solemnly.

Angel walked around the couch and glanced towards the bed. "How is he?"

Duncan's gaze followed his and he frowned. "Sleeping a lot. He eats a little when he wakes up, but he's still healing."

A few minutes later Joe arrived and they gathered around the books in the living room.

Giles began. "I haven't been able to find a description of the creature, but for all intents and purposes, I think we can assume that he's quite large and vicious. If this thing is allowed to rise to Earth, he will cause massive destruction to mankind."

"The ritual...what they were doing to him?" Mac looked towards his lover in their bed.

"Yes, the ritual. I've been reading more about that today. Somehow, by drinking Adam's blood and torturing him, they were able to cast a spell that would allow Infinitus to waken on the seventh day. If that happens and he drinks Adam's blood and takes his quickening, he will have the power to rule over Earth for all eternity."

"Why Adam's blood? Why not any immortal?"

"According to prophecy, only the blood of a very ancient being can unlock the powers of the ritual. During the ceremony, they had to burn his flesh and drink his blood. Then the power was transferred to Infinitus by their energy as they, well, ah...." He sputtered and searched for words.

"They what?" Mac narrowed his eyes dangerously.

"They had sex," Buffy told him simply with a cool lack of embarrassment.

"The energy from their combined orgasms transferred the power," Angel clarified.

"But they don't have Adam. They can't finish the ritual," Willow stated.

"No, not without Adam. But, Infinitus will still rise tonight. If these creatures have established a telepathic link to Adam, Infinitus may be able to use it to find him. We must stop him before he finds a way to complete the ceremony." Giles continued.

"How?" Duncan leaned forward in his seat and asked.

"Easy, we find him and kill him," Buffy informed him.

"Well, actually, Angel will have to kill him," Giles corrected her. "That's the second part of the prophecy. There is only one person who can kill the demon. A demon with a soul, who has also drank from the ancient blood." Giles looked from Angel to Duncan, uncertain how the immortal would react to the news.

"He knows," Angel told him.

"Yes, very good. Angel must separate the demon's head from its body when it wakes and rises. No one else can destroy it."

"Adam told me the demons could read his mind," Duncan added.

"Then it is true. I wondered," Giles spoke under his breath.

"What do you mean, you wondered?" Joe asked pointedly.

"I had read a passage that stated they," he started, pointing towards Angel and then the bed, "would be connected through body and mind through his ancient blood. I didn't know what it meant at the time. Interesting if it is true. Angel, have you noticed any telepathic connection between yourself and Adam...or the creatures?"

"No, none," Angel added, his brow furrowing in concern.

"I see. Then I'm afraid I don't understand," Giles answered.

Duncan thought back carefully to his lover's words. "Adam said he only noticed it after they had tortured him for the first time."

"Then the drinking of his blood combined with the power from the ritual gave them the connection. Yes, that makes sense." Giles flipped through the pages of the book thoughtfully. "We really must get started. Spike is already there waiting. Here's the plan."

They all gathered around while Giles explained their roles.

~~~~~~

Caves by the Docks

Duncan, Angel, Buffy, and Spike slipped into the cave, their bodies weighed down with knives and a crossbow. Duncan openly carried his katana and led the way in. Giles stood watch with Joe who was dialing a number on his cell phone. On the first ring, his call was answered. "They're in," he stated and hung up.

~~~~~~

The Loft

Willow sat on the floor in the middle of the loft and crossed her legs. Xander sat next to her and watched while she took out several items from her backpack and set them out in front of her on the floor. He looked at the assorted candles and powders surrounding a small red bowl and frowned. Willow's powers both awed and frightened him, and he fervently hoped her spell didn't backfire tonight. He touched the gun Giles had given him before leaving and looked up towards the bed. The immortal was still sleeping peacefully, only waking once before the others had left for the caves.

Xander blushed when he thought of the kiss MacLeod had given his lover before he left. He had never seen a man kiss another man that way-- passionately, tenderly. And he'd never forget the look MacLeod had given him when Giles gave him the gun and a cell phone, placing the old immortal's care in his hands.

Shaking himself from the memory, he focused his gaze back on his friend and watched while she started her spell.

She started chanting, low and deep, as she lit the candles around the bowl.

~~~~~~

Caves by the Docks

Angel looked at his watch and motioned towards the others. "Willow should have started her protection spell by now. Let's go."

"Like you believe that bloody drivel," Spike scoffed at him.

"I've seen her do some powerful spells, Spike," Buffy informed him snidely. "I seem to remember you kidnapping her to do a 'get back your ho' spell for you once."

Duncan felt his pulse quicken and turned to look at the vampire and slayer angrily. "Look, all I care about is keeping Adam safe and killing this thing. You can argue about this later," he told them.

"He's right," Angel conferred as he led them further into the cave. "Let's just try and keep it together long enough to finish this, then she can kick your ass." He looked pointedly at Spike.

"Right, and if it wasn't for this bloody chip...."

A noise from deep within the cave stopped his thought and they froze as a loud bellow echoed off the walls.

"I believe that's our demon," Angel whispered, and started walking forward towards the noise.

Venturing another hundred feet into the cave, they froze once again as the roar became louder and more tortured.

"I do believe he sounds pissed." Spike sounded amused.

Duncan smiled ferally. "Not as pissed as I am."

Then they saw him, rising out of the floor of the cave as the earth shifted, splitting the rock to form a large crater in the ground. He was huge, over twelve feet tall, brown green, slimy and muscular. This creature didn't have ears or the cat like tail. Instead, he was covered in scales, his eyes bulging from his sockets, his mouth a big open vessel from which it roared in fury.

They watched, mesmerized, as he looked around, bellowing in rage when he couldn't find the altar and his ancient sacrifice.

"Showtime," Duncan muttered under his breath and lifted his sword. Beside him, he saw Angel and Spike change, their faces becoming demonic and deadly. They advanced together and surrounded the demon that was now lifting a large arm towards them.

Duncan felt goose bumps pimple his flesh and the hairs rise from his skin when it began to speak from its large open mouth.

"What have you done with my people? You have interfered in my sacrificial rights. His ancient blood was mine. You will die for this."

"I wouldn't count on that," Angel replied menacingly.

With unexpected speed, the demon rushed them, his arms flailing out in front of him. Duncan choked when the demon emitted a foul smelling spray from its mouth as it drew nearer. He covered his mouth and nose with his free arm and attacked with his katana while Angel, Spike and Buffy attacked from the other side.

~~~~~~

The Loft

Xander watched, feeling his stomach fluttering uncontrollably. He felt nauseous, and covered his mouth when the foul odor covered them once again. Beside him, Willow continued to chant as she pinched first one powder then another to throw into the bowl. He watched as thick smoke filled the air, and coughed, until he started retching.

Once he could breathe again, he looked towards the bed, his heart thumping wildly in his chest when a large gray cloud engulfed the sleeping immortal. A dark evil permeated the room, and he reached out to touch Willow's hand. "Willow...Willow...." he yelled frantically, while shaking her hand to get her attention.

~~~~~~

Buffy kicked and punched the demon from his rear flank while Spike attacked from his back. Duncan slashed and kicked at the beast's flailing arms as he attempted to fight off their advance. Only Angel attacked from his front, where he was in clear view of the demon's eyes.

"I have found the ancient," the demon bellowed menacingly. "You cannot stop me."

"We'll see about that," Duncan raged and sliced at his chest, smiling ferally when he saw bright red blood appear and flow down its abdomen.

The demon howled with outrage, and continued to flail until a swift kick to both flanks sent him flying forward onto the ground.

Buffy looked at the blond vampire who was poised for another strike and smiled. "Great kick," she congratulated him as she shifted into stance, ready for the next attack.

"Not bad yourself, slayer. Ready?" he looked at her and smiled around his fangs.

"Ready," she yelled and they both jumped and kicked the demon in the head.

Duncan sliced across the demon's arms as it clutched for leverage to rise to its feet. Another kick from Buffy and the creature was down once again.

Duncan raised his katana for the killing strike, then lowered it and turned to Angel instead. "Finish it," he instructed and threw his blade towards the vampire who caught it easily in one hand. Duncan kicked the creature in the head while Buffy and Spike landed well targeted kicks to his flanks. There was a swoosh of the blade and the creature's head was rolling away cleanly.

They pulled back, taking ragged breaths as the odor dissipated and the air cleared. Buffy ran to Angel and threw her arms around him, as his face shifted back into human form.

Duncan pulled out his phone and called Joe. "It's over. Angel killed him."

Before Joe could reply, he heard Giles yelling towards the phone. "It worked. The creature's essence was at the loft, but Willow's spell protected him."

Duncan sighed heavily with relief and took his sword from Angel's hand. "Let's go home."

~~~~~~

Methos woke to the feel of a soft bed, warm blankets and an even warmer body pressed against his back. He breathed in the smell of his lover, and let the other man's unique buzz wash over him. He was still tired, and hungry. But he could tell he was clean and safe. And incredibly horny.

He twisted in Duncan's arms until he could press his mouth against Duncan's neck. He started with small sucking kisses down Duncan's neck until he reached his collar bone. He felt the other man wriggle under his mouth and tighten his hold around Methos' waist.

"You're awake," the sleepy Highlander announced.

"Um, and horny. Going to help me out?"

"What'd you have in mind?"

"Oh...." Methos nipped at Duncan's Adam's apple. "I don't know. Maybe a little of this...." He worked his way down Duncan's chest, stopping to suck on a nipple, laughing when the other man tilted his hips forward to rub his hard cock against Methos' thigh. "Or a little of that." Methos continued to nip at Duncan's skin, trailing his tongue down the muscled abdomen until he reached his prize.

He swooped down and engulfed Duncan's cock, going all the way down to the root, laughing when the other man thrust upwards off the bed in response. "Methos," he heard his name yelled out and he chuckled around the hard organ once again. He began sucking, using his tongue to flick across the sensitive areas underneath. Duncan was undulating underneath him in time to his sucking, and he sped up until he tasted the first drops of come escape from his slit.

He released him, smiling when his lover groused in frustration. "Methos," he heard the plea and kissed his lover hard in apology.

"I've been so alone, Duncan. So lost. I need you, love. Here. Now. Inside me." He flipped himself over, and tilted his ass in the air. He felt the bed dip as Duncan shifted onto his knees and warm hands caressed his buttocks before gentle fingers moved into his crease.

Methos felt a lubed finger probe his ass and began thrusting against the mattress to relieve the pressure in his throbbing cock. Soon, he felt the blunt pressure of Duncan's cock and he bore down to allow the invasion, never losing his rhythm as he continued to rub himself into the silken sheets. He felt himself being filled and increased the movements of his hips as Duncan began thrusting in and out of his ass. The head of Duncan's cock hit his gland, and he yelled out his pleasure until the other man fell across his back and increased his thrusts in time to Methos' own thrusts against the bed. They moved in perfect time, and let the pressure build, until they were shaking with the effort, and crying out as their orgasms hit and carried them over the edge into ecstasy.

Duncan took a shuddering breath and rolled over to lie on his back, pulling Methos with him to lie against his chest. "God, Duncan," Methos said as he heard his lover laugh and tighten his arms around his waist in response.

"Yeah, you okay?"

"I am now. How did you find me?"

"Long story. How about a shower and something to eat and I'll fill you in."

They started to get out of bed when a noise from the lift signaled a visitor. Duncan pulled the covers back around them securely, and waited, until the elevator stopped and Angel stepped out into the loft.

,
"Hey, I see he's awake," Angel announced while gliding across the room.

Duncan watched Methos assess the other man with narrowed eyes, until it was clear he recognized him, and Methos smiled and visibly relaxed against him.

"Angel. What in the hell are you doing here?" Methos asked him.

"Oh, just passing through. You okay?"

"I am now. You wouldn't have anything to do with it, would you?"

"Yeah, well, maybe a little. Look, the danger is past, and Buffy needs to get back to Sunnydale. Glad to see you're all right," he told Methos with a smile. "MacLeod will fill you in and he knows where to find me. I need to get back to Los Angeles, but I can stick around for a couple of days. Maybe we can get together and talk before I leave."

"Yeah, later," Methos informed him with a smile, fully aware that the strong odor of sex was permeating the air around them.

Methos watched Angel leave, and turned to Duncan. "Going to tell me about it?"

"Shower, food, talk," Duncan told him sternly with a swat to Methos' ass.

"Yeah, I can handle that." He laughed out loud when Duncan chased him out of the bed with another swat to his backside. He ran into the bathroom and jumped in the shower, his lover close behind him. "Hey, Mac?" Methos asked as Duncan turned to adjust the spray.

"Yeah?"

"Have I ever mentioned vampires?"

 

FINIS