Love and bites,
Jennifer Bratcher, Elf with the fang sharp wit.
<He was born 400 years ago in the Highlands of Scotland and he is still alive. He is Immortal and he is not alone; some good some evil, battling to death, the winner taking his enemy's head and with it his power. I am a Watcher, part of a secret society that observes and records Immortals but never interferes. We know the truth about Immortals and in the end there can be only one. May it be Duncan MacLoud, the Highlander.>
<Joe Dawson- Watcher>
Angel looked into the new antique store. It had just opened recently and was open past dark. It wasn't like most antique stores now a day, looking like a parlor from Victorian England, but instead it was modern and Art Deco. D. MacLoud Antiques was written in bold gold letters on the display window. Shrugging, Angel entered, not knowing what he might find. Maybe some interesting piece of Asian art for his collection, or some archaic chronicle.
Classical music drifted from the upper level of the shop. He idly started to look around. He noticed that he was the only one in this room, he wondered where the clerk or the owner of the store was at.
He looked into a glass display case. It was filled with the really expensive items, like the solid gold Babylonian mask. There were many Celtic silver workings in there as well. There was a bracelet with the Gaelic symbol of eternal life engraved all around it. He smiled slightly at it and shook his head, eternal life wasn't what it's cracked up to be, he thought wryly.
He continued to browse through the store. He noticed that there where a lot of swords. All kinds: katanas, bastard swords, rapiers, an El Sid, broad swords, and a Scottish Claymore. The owner had really taken time out for this sword collection. Some of these swords were priceless, and had a sign below them reading: Just for display only.
Then he saw a painting. His first thought was It can't be. He moved over to it, not believing. It can't be, I thought this was destroyed in the fire. But it was.
A painting he did more than 244 years ago, when he was still human. It was of his family. A lump formed at his throat as he looked at the images of his mother, father, siblings and himself. He reached out and touched it, to make sure it was real. The look in the painted image of his eyes seemed to say, "It isn't dust now, is it?" in a thick Irish accent. Angel shook his head, trying to get the image from his mind. He opened his eyes and the painting was still there.
"Damn, and how the hell did it get hear?" Angel asked himself as he looked at it. He remembered when he had done it, trying to get his younger brothers and sisters to hold still, convincing his strict father to be in the portrait, and then, finally, the work on the picture itself. He had been proud of it when he was finished, but his family, least not his father, was. It was trying to live up to his family's image that had probably drove him to the drinking and the women.
He frowned, one of the first things he did when he was a vampire was rip his father's throat out. He remembered that killing his father very well. Darla was beside him, laughing her pretty head off in glee at her new fledgling, not even suspecting that he would be that vicious when she had bit him.
"Hello, may I help you?" Angel turned, startled at the voice. It was almost impossible to catch Angel off guard, that was what he usually did. "Hi, can I help you with something?" The speaker was tall, Angel's height, with black hair, brown eyes and looked more like a martial art instructor than an owner of an antique store.
Angel cleared his throat and answered, "No, I'm just looking."
The shopkeeper nodded and said, "Sorry I startled you, but I didn't hear you come in."
"Bad habit," Angel murmured.
"What?" The shopkeeper had a slight British, probably Scottish, accent.
"Never mind," Angel quickly answered. Then he turned to look back at the painting.
The shopkeeper said, "Oh, that's a nice piece, from . . . "
"Galway, Ireland, painted about 245 years ago by an unknown artist," Angel quickly supplied, realizing the mistake he had made after it was too late.
"So you know about this odd piece then?" the shopkeeper asked.
Angel nodded and answered, making it up as he went along, "I'm interested in this kind of thing. My girlfriend's father was a historian, and he quickly got me into this thing. It turned out that I had this talent for knowing really old artists by their paintings. I wish I didn't though."
"You wanted to date the girl, not spend time looking at old paintings and books then," the shopkeeper guessed with a smile.
Angel nodded, glad that the shopkeeper had given him a way out. It was logical that he could have a girlfriend that's father was a historian, after all Giles had been an archeologist before he had been a Watcher. The shopkeeper held out a dark hand, and Angel shook it, hoping that he wouldn't notice that it was cold.
The shopkeeper said, "Hello, I'm Duncan MacLoud, and you are?"
Angel smiled slightly as he answered, "Angel Chase." Cordelia wouldn't have to know that he borrowed her last name, besides the girl was too dense to figure it out. Then he realized that "Angel Chase" sounded sort of ridiculous. He was going to have to come up with a better name for himself for his forged certificates.
"Well Mr. Chase, this is an excellent piece, and, frankly, I don't know why I bought the thing in the first place anyway," MacLoud said.
"And don't call me Mr. Chase, it's Angel, just Angel," Angel told him thinking, Just Angel, I don't even have a last name anymore. Then the vampire smiled despite himself and said, "You bought it because it was an excellent piece."
MacLoud smiled at him and said, "That's as good of a reason as any."
"Exactly," Angel replied. Then he asked, just to make sure, "Do you have any ancient books with archaic text in them, do you? I collect them."
MacLoud pointed to a large bookcase filled with leather bound books. He asked, "Do you have any in mind, perhaps? "
Angel nodded as he moved over to the books. He wasn't going to say what, the shopkeeper might find him stranger than he already did if he answered, "Yeah, do you have any books about the undead or demons or even a spell book or two." That would not be wise.
MacLoud asked, "Do you need any help?"
Angel shook his head as he began to thumb through a book titled Watcher's Chronicles: The Highlander; as collected by Jamerson Wood. At first he thought it might be about a Slayer, but it wasn't, it was about something else entirely. Startled, Angel shut the book and slipped it into the crook of his arm.
Duncan MacLoud watched curiously at his young customer, it was the second time in his shop that the young man had been startled, like he had seen a ghost. Angel, that's what MacLoud thought his name was, had looked like he had seen a dead relative when he was gazing at that painting from Ireland. It struck MacLoud as odd, this young man did.
The mortal didn't have the carefree gate that most mortals his age did, in fact he seemed old, like he had seen to much in his time. MacLoud could relate to that, he had seen a lot in his 400 years, lost many loves, and even killed some very close friends.
MacLoud walked over to the counter and sat on the stool that was sitting behind it. He watched as Angel paged through some books, placed them under the crook of his left arm and went on. By the time the mortal walked over to the counter he had four books. MacLoud rang them up, and, surprisingly, the young man paid cash.
When the mortal left the store, MacLoud walked over to the painting to see what had spooked the lad so. It was of a 18th century noble family. There were a man and a woman, and children, but MacLoud ignored that. It was the eldest son that held his attention. He was in his mid twenties, but that wasn't it. He was tall, broad shouldered, like the mortal who had just left his shop. The dark brown hair was longer and tied back, but the face was the same, except the expression was different. The dark eyes in this painting seemed mocking, while the mortal had this haunted, brooding quality about him.
But it was the same person, he could just be a decedent, MacLoud thought. But that wasn't likely, and he couldn't be an Immortal, he didn't sense him. I'd better ask Methos or Dawson, MacLoud thought, but it could be nothing, but MacLoud didn't think so.
Angel was eager to get back to his apartment to read the book he had just bought. He walked through the streets of Los Angeles alert. One might not know what they might encounter in the City of Angels. As he walked by an ally, he heard the familiar clash of steel against steel.
Cautious, he walked into the ally. Two men where sword fighting. Sparks of steel flew as the two swords clashed. The younger of the two spun his sword in a graceful arc. He laughed as he kicked the older one down on his knees. The elder looked up and panted, "MacLoud is in this town now, Draken. You won't get away with this for long."
Angel watched in part horror and part fascination as the one called Draken threw back his head and laughed. Draken said, "Foolish old man, let the Highlander come. His Quickening would be something, just think of the power. Let him come. I'll be ready for him."
The old one plunged his sword upward, probably to stab Draken in the gut. Draken blocked the blow with the simplest of ease. He smiled and said, "There can be only One."
The old one spat in Draken's face and sneered, "Go to Hell!"
Draken brought his sword up high and said sweetly, "You first, old man." Then, in one fluid motion Draken beheaded the older man. Angel blinked, the one called Draken just didn't . . . Did he? The older man's head lay beside his corpse.
Angel watched as smoke lifted from the body and surrounded Draken. Draken lifted up his sword and screamed. Lightning raced around the body, around the ally. Angel ducked as a lighting bolt came at him, but he was riveted to the sight before him. The energy hit Draken like a fist, charging around him. Draken shouted in triumph as the lightning flickered to nothing.
Draken looked directly at Angel. Their eyes froze at the sight of the other. Angel stood up, knowing he had to hold his ground against whatever Draken was. Draken took one lingering look at Angel and ran in the opposite direction.
Neither Angel nor Draken had been aware that they were being watched. Methos had kept a discreet enough distance that the other Immortal wouldn't sense him, but close enough to watch. He recognized Draken, the whelp had improved his fighting skills since the seven hundred years he had last encountered him.
Methos knew that Markus was an excellent fighter, and that he was a close personal friend of Duncan MacLoud. Methos thought the whelp was very defiant to want to take on MacLoud like that. Even though MacLoud was a child compared to Methos, he was probably the best warrior among the Immortals. He had even killed two of the Four Horsemen, and Methos had killed the other one. Methos was the last of the Four Horsemen, but he had reformed, for survival reasons.
Methos had taken his first head 5,000 years ago, and he planned to live a few hundred more years, until there was only One.
Methos noticed that the tall mortal still stood in the ally, slightly dumbfounded. Methos noticed that he had four books under the crook of his arm. They were old books, like a couple hundred years old and leather bound. The mortal didn't look much like a bookworm though. Methos watched as the young man exited the ally, noticing the cautious alertness in his gate.
Now came the hard part: telling MacLoud that an old friend had died. Methos swallowed, that was something he wasn't looking forward to.
Draken entered the booming night club and looked around. He had energy to burn, and some mortal was going to help burn it for him. A girl caught his eye. She was tall and shapely with long, silky dark hair and dark complected. She was exotic looking and Draken had to meet her.
Cordelia Chase sat at the bar and idly sipped her Fresca, knowing that she was being watched. She looked up at the young man who was watching her so intently. He was tall, with ash blond hair and icy blue eyes, and he was a total hottie. He was dressed well too, wearing a long black duster, tight, faded blue jeans and a black T-shirt.
She brushed back her long hair away from her face, smiled flirtatiously and turned back to her drink. It had been a while since anyone had looked at her in that way. It had been a long time since she had been on a date. She knew he was approaching her. She heard him sit down next to her.
"Hello," he said in an incredibly sexy voice.
Cordelia turned to him and replied, "Hi."
He held out a long fingered hand and she took it. Instead of shaking it, he lifted it up to a very attractive mouth and kissed it. She felt tiny shivers go up her spine. He said, "My name's Drake Immer, and what's yours my dear?"
Cordy was charmed by his old-fashioness as she answered, "Cordelia Chase."
"Beautiful name, Cordelia, classic, I like it," Drake told her with a seductive smile playing at his lips. She quickly looked up at the bar's mirror and silently sighed in relief. He had a refection, good, he wasn't a vampire.
He asked, concern evident in his voice, "Are you all right?"
She sent him her most dazzling smile and replied, "I am now."
Drake smiled in relief and asked her, "Would you like to dance?"
He stood up and handed her his hand. She took his hand. She said as he pulled her up, "You bet."
MacLoud had been staring at the painting for a few hours now, just staring at it, nothing else. He had been looking at the young man in the painting. It was the young man, Angel, MacLoud thought his name was, every detail. The same nose, eyes, everything. The only difference was the style of hair and clothing and his expression. MacLoud had been trying to find some difference, but there was none.
Then he sensed the presence of another Immortal, that familiar shout in his mind, the tingles that alerted him to a possible battle. MacLoud turned to see Methos standing in his doorway. MacLoud didn't like the look on the ancient Immortal's face.
MacLoud asked, "Methos, what happened, what is it?"
The other Immortal sighed, swallowed and said, "MacLoud, I don't know how to tell you this, but Markus had been killed earlier tonight."
MacLoud was quiet for a few moments. Markus had been one of his closest friends along time ago, but MacLoud had drifted on his own way. It had been more than a hundred years since he had seen Markus, but his death brought a sorrow with it anyway. But that was the price for being immortal, loosening your friends and family around you over the years.
MacLoud turned and faced the painting. For some strange reason he thought of Angel Chase. There had been something otherworldly about the mortal that he couldn't put his finger on. Methos went on, "A mortal was watching, and not a Watcher."
"Are you sure?" MacLoud asked.
Methos nodded his dark head and answered, "Yeah, MacLoud, I'm sure. And a Watcher wouldn't be that close in sight to an Immortal."
MacLoud asked, "Who killed him?"
Methos sighed and answered, "That's another thing Mac, it was Draken. The whelp has improved sense the last time I met him."
MacLoud remembered the blond Immortal with the passion for beautiful young mortal women and Quickenings. He conquered when it suited him and liked killing mortals who got in his way. MacLoud only met him once, but it seemed that Methos had been better acquainted with Draken.
MacLoud asked, "How along ago was that?"
Methos answered with his usual sarcasm, "Oh, about seven hundred years ago." MacLoud blinked, sometimes he forgot how old Methos was.
"Is he after you then?" MacLoud asked.
Methos shook his head and answered, "No, he wants your head."
MacLoud replied, "Well that wouldn't be the first time."
Methos looked at the painting finally and asked, "What's so interesting?"
MacLoud looked at it and pointed to the young man. Methos studied it for a second. His eyes got big as he exclaimed, "That was the mortal that saw Draken behead Markus."
MacLoud looked at the older Immortal directly. Now there was more to that mortal than met the eye. He told Methos, "Do whatever research you can do on this painting. There is something up with that boy and I want to know it."
The door opened. MacLoud turned and watched Joe Dawson limp into his shop. Dawson was his Watcher, and probably knew more about him than anyone else on the planet. He looked older than MacLoud and Methos with his silver hair and beard. He was a tall man, big in build. He looked at both MacLoud and Methos and smiled. He asked, "So what's up with you two?"
Methos answered in his smartass way, "Oh nothing, just Draken killing Markus and wanting MacLoud's head. Just normal stuff, Joe."
Joe just glared at him. Methos had that effect on people sometimes and he enjoyed it. Joe looked at MacLoud and said, "Mac, be careful, I'm really sure that you could beat this guy, but he can be a nuisance." Then Joe asked, "Hey MacLoud, where's that book I brought, you know Watcher's Chronicles: The Highlander; as collected by Jamerson Wood?"
MacLoud looked at him quiscaly. He didn't remember that book and that Joe had even gave it to him. Joe elaborated, "You know, it was a thick leather bound journal. I put it on your counter, and I told you about it and you said okay."
MacLoud didn't remember it. He shook his head. Joe groaned, "I need that book back MacLoud. I thought you knew about it."
Methos asked, "Was he busy at the time?"
Joe answered, "Yeah, he was taking inventory."
Methos chuckled as he said, "Joe, Joe. That is the normal response when someone is busy."
"Damn it, you can be very annoying at times," Joe said.
MacLoud was trying to think about that book. He said, "I think I might have put it in the bookcase."
Joe limped over and started to look in the bookcase. He said, "Mac, it isn't here."
MacLoud rembered that Angel Chase had bought about four books. He groaned and said, "Oh, no. Methos, the boy bought four books while he was in here."
Joe was like, "What boy, an Immortal?"
Methos ignored him as he said, "Well if he payed for it with a credit card we could trace him."
MacLoud shook his head and mumbled, "He payed for it in cash."
Methos said, "Okay, then lets look up the painting."
It was a hour before dawn when Angel reached his penthouse apartment. It was fitted with heavy black curtains to keep out the sunlight. He walked out onto his balcony and looked out. This was his city to protect, he thought with a certain amount of pride.
Then he thought about the beheading earlier. He frowned, he was going to have to look up anything that had to do with beheadings and an energy release like an electrical storm. Angel looked at the four books lying on a table in his apartment. He had a feeling that it was in that Watcher's Chronicle he had bought.
4:30 P.M. The next day.
MacLoud was waiting on a customer when he sensed another Immortal. Methos walked into the shop and waited behind a display case. The customer looked at the urgent look on Methos' face and back at MacLoud. Duncan knew what she was thinking, and had a guess on what she was going to do.
The woman flashed an uncertain smile and said, "Mr. MacLoud could you hold this for me till tomorrow?"
Duncan nodded and cheerfully answered, despite the worry on the older Immortal's face, "Yeah, sure. It was nice doing business with you Mrs. Pannini." Mrs. Pannini nervously smiled and scooted out of the store.
Methos walked over to the counter and beckoned Duncan over to him. MacLoud asked, "Methos, what is it? Did Draken kill someone else?"
Methos shook his head and pulled a folder out of his trench coat. He said, "No, that painting has a very interesting history, and I think you should hear it."
"Okay, then, what is it?" Duncan asked,
Methos took a breath and said, "Well it was painted about 244 years ago by the eldest son of the O' Rourke family in Galway Ireland, Angelus. He did the painting and added himself, but that's not the strange part."
"What is then?" Duncan asked.
"I'm getting to that," Methos replied. Then the oldest known Immortal went on, "Well about a week later after the painting was finished Angelus was killed. After that the rest of the family was slaughtered, as well as their friends and their families, and the estate was burnt to the ground. Only the youngest daughter escaped, and she knew who killed all of her family and friends."
"Who? An Immortal, Draken? And Angel Chase is her descendant, looked up his family history and wants revenge on who killed his family so long ago, right?" Duncan asked as he began to put the pieces together.
Methos shook his head and answered, "Wrong. It was Angelus and he was the one who was in your store yesterday."
"What? How, he wasn't an Immortal?" Duncan asked in disbelief.
"Oh, he's immortal," Methos sarcastically answered. MacLoud wanted to punch Methos when he did that sometimes. Right now was one of those times.
"What do you mean Methos?" MacLoud asked.
Methos gave an awkward smile and answered, "Well MacLoud, he's a vampire. He's been dead for over 200 years."
MacLoud didn't believe it. Vampires didn't exist. They were figments of over active imaginations. He said, "You've got to be kidding Methos."
Methos looked at him like he had just sprouted horns, or in this case, fangs. He said, "What MacLoud, you didn't know that vampires existed?"
"Oh, like you're the big expert yourself," MacLoud bantered back. He knew it was impossible to argue against someone 5000 years old because Methos was usually won, unless sword fighting was involved, then MacLoud won.
Methos smiled and answered, "Well one bit me about a thousand years ago, I think. It kind of goes in and out you know." He chuckled, "But you should have seen the look on his face when I came back to life and I beheaded him." Methos' expression became thoughtful as he said, "It's not every century that you see a person explode into a pile of ash."
But MacLoud was ignoring him. He had bigger concerns on his mind, like the vampire had that book about Immortals, mainly him. An eternal food supply, MacLoud thought. He told Methos, "Methos, look up all you can on this guy. I have a bad feeling about this."
Angel had just woken up, it was about twenty minutes till sundown and Cordelia would be over soon to help him out. He wondered why, to this very day, he had hired the girl as his secretary. Out of all the people from Sunnydale to find out where he had left was one of Buffy's friends. Luckily, the girl wanted as much to do with Sunnydale as he did. Besides, he didn't have to worry about Cordelia finding out that he was a vampire, because she had already known. And, as annoying as she could be sometimes, she could really come through. There was also the fact that the child was always honest, no matter whom she wounded. Ever since they had started working together, on more than one occasion, Cordelia had thrown the truth in Angel's face when he had almost given up.
He had to admit it, but he was beginning to like the girl. Besides, there where sometimes he could startle her.
Angel dressed and walked over to his refrigerator. He opened it. There where blood bags hanging from the top rack, pint containers filled with blood from the local butcher, and some normal, human foods, incase he got a craving for it. He grabbed one of the pint containers and a mug from a near by cabinet.
It was about fifteen minutes later when Cordelia was knocking on the door. Angel called out, "It's open Cordelia, you can come in." Then he looked back at the book Watcher's Chronicles: The Highlander; as collected by Jamerson Wood.
There is a secret race that lives among us. They are immortal. They cannot die unless they are beheaded. The Immortals battle each other in combat to the death, the winner taking his opponent's head, and their power in an energy release like a lighting storm. The energy release, called a Quickening, passes all of the Immortal's knowledge and power.
The Immortals battle till there is only One. The last Immortal will have all the knowledge and power of all the other Immortals.
I am Jamerson Wood, a Watcher, part of a secret society that observes and records, but never interferes. My Immortal I am in charge of is Duncan MacLoud, the Highlander.
Angel sat there, stunned. Immortals, Watchers (there was a certain ironic joke to that). He took a drink out of his mug, trying to let all this sink in.
Cordelia looked down at the mug after he put it down. She picked it up and asked, "What are you drinking?"
He didn't answer her. He just looked down at the book, trying not to smile. Angel herd Cordelia take a sniff. He simply answered, "My breakfast."
She put the mug down and sneered, "Sometimes I hate you."
Angel only chuckled, there where some good things about being a vampire he reasoned.
Then he continued to read about Duncan MacLoud, the Highlander. He was the owner of the shop. Angel was sure of it. MacLoud was just more than four centuries old. He read more about MacLoud. Angel learned that the Highlander was a boy scout, a knight in shining armor, a true hero. Great.
Cordelia sat down across from him and asked, "Hey, Angel do you need my help tonight?"
"Maybe, why?" Angel replied.
The Shakespearean girl smiled and cheerfully answered, trying to sound flippant, "Well, I was going to meet a friend."
"A guy," Angel said looking strait into her eyes.
Cordelia said, "Why do you think that?" Angel gave her a doubting "don't play with me look." She groaned and snapped, "Why do you know all this stuff? Are you like physic or something? It can get really annoying this 'I am all old and stuff", you know."
He smiled slightly and replied, "I'm not physic, and I am old. So I know a lot more than you young lady."
"Bite me," she mumbled in a voice no human could hear.
He looked down at the book and said, "Cordelia you should never tell a vampire to bite you," he waited before she looked at him to finish. He said, "For they might take it as an invitation."
Cordelia Chase was blissfully quiet.
In Cordelia's expert opinion of men Angel did not deserve his good looks. One reason was because he was a vampire, another was that Cordelia had no effect what so ever on him, and the last was because he could be such a jerk sometimes. She couldn't even believe that she had liked him once upon a time.
She sighed and started to strum her fingers on the table. Angel looked up from his really old book at her then back down again. She asked, "Hey Angel, why don't I see if some big evil is brewing and I can run back hear and tell you if it is?"
"I guess this guy must be really good looking then," Angel replied without even looking up at her.
Cordy was really tempted to tell him to bite her again. She had to see Drake again. She sighed and gave in, "Yeah, he is."
Angel asked, "What about Xander?"
"That loser, I think not," Cordy snapped.
Then he looked up at her with his really intense eyes, the ones that could shut a lesser person up by look alone. But Cordy wasn't a lesser person, she was going to tell the blood sucking fiend off. She was about to do so when he said, "Go then, have fun. Be careful, but you should have enough sense, I hope, to know that."
She gaped at the blood sucking fiend for a moment. He looked at her questionably as she just gaped at him. Cordy, knowing a good thing when she saw one, stood up. She said, "Thank you Angel, thank you. Good luck with your old books." Then she was off.
MacLoud waited for Methos' return. Vampires existed, he couldn't believe it, but in a way it made sense. The bell over the door rang, signaling someone coming in. Joe limped in and looked MacLoud strait in the eyes.
He asked, "Mac, what's wrong?"
MacLoud shrugged and answered, "Nothing except that vampires are real."
"You're kidding, aren't you MacLoud?" Joe asked.
MacLoud shook his head. Then he felt the presence of another Immortal. He looked at the door. It wasn't Methos. He was tall, dressed in all black with longish blond hair. He looked to be about in his mid-twentys. MacLoud had only seen him once, but he recognized him immediately. It was Draken.
Draken walked around the shop like he owned it. He looked at MacLoud and said, "Ah, the Highlander. I've heard so much about you. I'm not going to challenge you. We have an audience." He looked over at Joe. Then he continued, "I'm not going to come after you yet, I have more important things to do."
"Like what you son of a bitch?" Joe snapped.
Draken looked Joe over then looked over at MacLoud. Draken asked, "Does he know?"
"Yeah, I know about Immortals you bastard," Joe sneered.
Draken crossed over to Joe in three swift strides. MacLoud was about to defend him, but thought better of it. Draken looked Joe over like a lion would its prey. He mused, "A Watcher. I've heard about you, Old Man."
MacLoud reached out to one of the display cases. His sword was out of reach, but the katana he had in his hand would work just fine. MacLoud angled the blade on the other Immortal's throat. Draken had enough intelligence to back away from Joe.
MacLoud asked, "What do you want?"
Draken smiled and answered with a fiendish smile, "What every sensible person wants MacLoud. Power." With that he walked out of the shop.
Draken was about to meet the lovely Cordelia in about half an hour, but he had something important to do right now. He rode the elevator to the penthouse floor of the skyscraper he owned. He had made the fair kill last night so no one could guess his game.
Draken entered his large office. He sensed the presence of another Immortal. He closed his eyes and savored it. Several heavily armed mortals saluted him as he walked past.
There was a chair in front of his antique desk, and hand cuffed to the chair was another Immortal. He struggled as he saw Draken. Draken smiled, his charming Shakespearian beauty would understand if he was late.
Cordelia looked hot, Draken wouldn't mind if she was a few minutes late when he saw her. She was wearing a tight red dress, cut to enhance all of her charms. She opened her purse and pulled out her compact. She checked her makeup, and it was perfect. "Nothing could improve your beauty my Shakespearian lady," Drake said behind her.
Cordy looked up at him, charmed all over again. He looked great, dressed in a black silk shirt, black leather pants and black trench coat. His ash blond hair hung rakishly (rakishly, she had been hanging around Angel and Giles too long) over his brilliant blue eyes. He reminded her of a rugged Leo a little bit.
She smiled and indicated the seat across from her. She said, "Well Drake, sit down and tell me about yourself."
Drake smilingly sat down and said, "Well sweeting, there really isn't much to tell."
"Oh, come on, you probably have lots of deep, dark secrets, I do," Cordelia flirted.
Drake smiled at her and flirted back, "You're too young to have any deep, dark secrets."
"What do you know about age?" she teased.
"A lot my sweet," he replied.
"And he also knows a lot about beheadings." Cordy groaned as she turned to see Angel glowering protectively over her. She muttered, "Damn it!"
Angel was about five seconds from picking Cordelia up and rushing out of the night club. It was the Immortal. The blond smiled lazily at him and took Cordelia's hand. He said, "Cordelia's with me. I'm sure there is some other girl you could find."
Angel said, "Draken, I know what you are. Let the girl go and we'll go outside."
Draken stood up, bringing Cordelia with him. The Immortal wrapped his arms around Angel's sidekick, Angel's friend, as much as he hated to admit it. Draken smiled at him, recognition dawning in his ice blue eyes. He said, "Ah yes, you saw me behead Markus. You have no idea what I am, mortal. So just run home and live to see another sunrise."
Angel grinned a little as he replied, "Well, you have no idea who I am, either."
Cordelia looked from both men, obviously confused. She asked, "What the hell is going on Drake, Angel?"
Angel answered, "Don't worry Cordelia, I won't let this son of a bitch hurt you. I swear it."
"What?" was Cordelia's shrill reply.
Angel answered, "This bastard beheaded a man last night. And he's as human as I am, Cordelia."
Angel was glad that he had trailed Cordelia. He had a hunch that the Immortal was with Cordelia. Angel read a short passage in that book about Draken. He was like Angelus, Angel's alter ego, destructive, sadistic, power hungry, and evil.
Draken said, "Oh, I'm way beyond your comprehension, mortal. And the girl is mine."
Cordelia had the sense to struggle now, and she managed to slip out of the Immortal's grip. Draken just grabbed her wrist and twisted her arm behind her back.
Then Draken was still. His head whipped around looking for something. Angel saw Duncan MacLoud standing behind the Immortal with two other men. One was tall, big, middle aged with silver hair and beard and he held a cane. With the natural sense that came to vampires to know the week and the sick, Angel sensed that both of his legs where missing from the knee down. The other one was slightly shorter than MacLoud and had shaggy black hair.
Draken then wrapped his other arm around Cordelia's neck, holding her in a way that was all too familiar to Angel. The hold was one that could be used to break someone's neck. Cordelia whimpered. Angel straitened to his full leanth, felling the beginnings of the change upon him.
Draken sneered, "MacLoud this doesn't concern you." Then he turned his back on Angel to face the others. Bad move. Angel moved faster than the human eye could follow.
Angel grabbed the Immortal by the hair and jerked him toward him. Cordelia screamed. Then the silvery sheen of a blade snaked out toward both Angel and Draken. Draken took one look at MacLoud and ran, grabbing Cordelia with him. Angel snarled and began to take off after them.
He would have made it except for the katana and broadsword blades angled at his throat. Helpless, MacLoud and the shorter one lead Angel outside.
Angel looked at both of them as they angled their swords away from him. He stuffed his hands into his jean's pockets and asked, "What the Hell do you want?"
MacLoud answered, "We won't let you hurt that girl."
Angel frowned at him. The older looking one said, "MacLoud you better act quick so you can get Draken. You better be right about this guy."
Angel asked, "Well shopkeeper, what is it?"
The one welding the broadsword answered, "Well Vampire, you were gonna make a meal out of that girl."
Angel glowered at him and began to make his way past them. He was ready to fight if one of them came at him. As he was walking away, he snapped, "Don't be ridiculous, vampires don't exist."
"Then tell me Angelus O' Rourke, who killed your family and how come you've been alive for almost three centuries," MacLoud called after him.
Angel froze. The painting, he had researched the painting. MacLoud went on, "The painting was what gave it away, O' Rourke."
Angel spun around to face him. He felt his face beginning to change. He snarled, "You bastard, Angelus O' Rourke has been dead for almost 244 years."
It felt odd to Angel being called by his Christian name, the name he had when he was still breathing. O' Rourke had died when Darla bit Angel, as Angelus, the Scourge of Europe had died when the Kalderdesh had cursed him, as Angel had died when the curse was lifted off of him, and when he was sent to Hell by the woman he loved. Still loved and would love for all eternity. Death and pain where his means of existence, but he wasn't about to let this boy scout bring that up.
The broadsword guy exclaimed, "See MacLoud, I told you vampires where real!"
Angel said to MacLoud, "Well, since you're not a vampire, exsplane how you've been alive for over 400 years."
MacLoud's mouth dropped. Angel's characteristic half smile formed as he replied, "The book you had misplaced was your downfall, Highlander."
Then he turned, slightly sniffing the air for Draken's sent. He had to track him before his trail became too cold. He said, "I have to go find Draken before I loose one of my few friends."
A phone rang, the crippled one reached into his coat and pulled out a cell phone. He answered it saying, "Dawson, what is it?"
Then the rest of Dawson's conversation was: "Yeah." "You're sure?" "He what?" "Draken, you're sure Wynn?" "Are you sure it was an Immortal?" "Yeah, I'll tell em'." "Is he after MacLoud?" "Did you see a girl with him? Tall, very good looking, long dark hair wareing a red dress. You saw her, you sure he's not going to hurt her?" Then Dawson became angry, "Watch the son of a bitch then. See if he's gonna follow this pattern." Then calmed down slightly, Dawson said, "Okay then. Bye." Then he slid the cell phone back into his jacket.
Angel looked at him as MacLoud asked, "What is it?"
Dawson sighed and answered, "Draken killed another Immortal. He had a clip of ammo pumped into him before Draken beheaded him. He's taking the girl."
"Damn it," Angel cursed. He turned back around before he lost his temper and did something he might regret. He started to walk out of the ally when a hand caught his elbow.
MacLoud spun him around and told him, "We need to talk, O' Rourke."
Angel looked down at MacLoud's hand and back into MacLoud's eyes. Anyone else would have let Angel go with the look he gave MacLoud, but MacLoud held him still. Angel relaxed and said, "All right then Highlander, lets talk."
MacLoud felt odd having O' Rourke, a vampire, in his apartment. Methos looked at MacLoud, grinned and shrugged. Joe looked confused, and well the vampire was pissed. O' Rourke stood in the darkest place in the room, almost hidden completely in the shadows.
O' Rourke said, "Well, you said we need to talk, so lets talk."
MacLoud replied, "Well O' Rourke, what did you see that night?"
O' Rourke glowered at MacLoud and answered, "It's Angel. Not O' Rourke, just Angel. I heard something in an ally, and I saw Draken behead an older looking guy. Then, what you call a Quickening, happened. Lightning every where. So Highlander, what are you?"
Methos answered, "MacLoud, Draken, and I are Immortals. We cannot die unless we are beheaded. We've been around for as long as man. We fight in combat to the death till there is only one."
Angel shook his head and asked, "I know that. But what are you? Demon or something else completely? And who are your friends MacLoud?"
MacLoud pointed to Methos and Joe, introducing both of them in turn, but leaving out the part that Methos was the oldest known Immortal. Then he asked, "What do you mean by demons?"
Angel leaned against the wall, now completely hidden in the darkness. Then he immerged from the shadows, circling all three of them. Angel answered, "Demons, ancient evil beings, spawns from Hell. They walk the earth wanting to rid it of the plague of humanity."
MacLoud knew about demons, remembering Arhiman. Methos said, "And let me guess, I bet that you've met a few, right?"
Angel half smiled and replied, "You can say that." Then he frowned, thinking out loud, "But then you really can't be demons because I've would have sensed it." Then he looked at MacLoud and asked, "Then what are you?"
Joe answered for MacLoud, "They're Immortals, like Methos said. They fight to the death, the winner taking their opponent's head and with it their power."
"The Quicking," Angel put in.
Methos nodded, continuing, "Yes, since you already know most of this it won't hurt to tell you the rest. We fight till there is only one Immortal left and that Immortal gets all the power and knowledge of all the Immortals."
Angel nodded and said, "And you don't want someone like Draken to get all that power."
"Exactly," MacLoud said.
Angel shoved his hands into his pockets and asked, "What would this bastard do to Cordelia?"
MacLoud looked at Methos for Methos knew the Draken better than MacLoud did. Methos shrugged, saying, "Well from what we saw at the club, he doesn't want to kill your friend."
"But what will he do to her?" The vampire was getting anxious.
Methos answered, "Probably nothing. He'll probably use her as bait." Methos looked at MacLoud and grinned, "Mac can't resist a damsel in distress or a helpless mortal caught in the crossfire."
MacLoud hated the constant teasing he got from his friends telling him was too good for his own good. Methos had often told him that chivalry was made up by a bunch of board poets and minstrels. Amanda, his off agean-on again Immortal Lover, had called him a boy scout many times. It just made Joe curse a lot.
Joe asked, "What are you, then Angel?"
It was the question Angel had been waited and dreading, the vampire question. Joe asked, "Is it like the movies and books, can you turn to into a bat or a wolf or mist? Can you fly?"
The one called Methos looked at the mortal and sarcastically replied, "Joe, the vampire I encountered didn't turn into any of those things, he just sprung out and attacked me."
Angel was worried that there could be some new uprising of vampires in L.A., not good. He asked, "How long ago was this, and what happened?"
Methos answered, "About a thousand years ago, if I remember right. He bit me, drank my blood, killed me . . . "
"I thought you said you couldn't be killed unless your head was chopped off," Angel interrupted, still possessing all this information, and that Methos was over a thousand years old.
MacLoud answered, "We can die, but we come back. The only way to truly kill us is to cut off our heads."
Angel asked, "So you die momentarily and come back then?" All three of them nodded. Angel wondered how Joe Dawson was involved with all of this, but wasn't going to ask until later.
Methos went on, "I woke up and the vampire was still there. You should have seen the look on his face . . . Then I beheaded him and then he exploded into a cloud of ash. He was an ugly son of a bitch too." Cheerfully Methos added, "It'd not every century you see a person explode into ash. It's a real exspereance."
Angel chuckled a little as he said, "I see it every day."
"So you go around killing other vampires, why?" MacLoud asked.
Angel knew that his answer to this question would define the opinion of himself to the three men in this room. He wanted to sit down, wishing that he was at his apartment and not the Immortal's, even though it was a lot like his. He walked over to the window, and looked down at the City of Angels, his city. It was his duty to protect it, to come to terms with who and what he was. He was Angel, not Angelus the Scourge of Europe, or Angelus the one with the angelic face, or even Angelus O' Rourke, even though each of those people helped made who Angel is. Each memory defined him. From his start as the drunken lad in Ireland to the most vicious vampire to ever live, to a mortal soul with the power, hunger and evil of a vampire who loved a human destined to be his enemy.
MacLoud walked to the window, his eyes widening as he noticed Angel's lack of reflexion. Angel answered, "Because I have to. Because I'm not one of them."
"What do you mean?" MacLoud asked.
Angel was about to tell MacLoud what he had first told Buffy a few years ago, or at least a variation of it. Angel looked at the Immortal, back at the window, and back at MacLoud. He answered, "All a vampire is a corpse in which a demon inhabits. It walks around with all the memories and personality, the dark side of it, mind you, of that person. The soul is gone, no conscience, no remorse, it's an easy way to live.
"About a hundred years ago I was cursed." He waited a beat, he knew he had all three of them captivated. Angel continued, "Gypsy elders. I killed the favorite girl of their clan, and they fount the perfect punishment for me."
MacLoud and Joe looked expectant, while Methos looked slightly amused, like he knew what was coming. Angel went on, "They restored my soul." MacLoud and Joe looked shocked, while Methos had a knowing look on his face.
Methos said, "So you hunt vampires and other monsters to make up for all the evil you have done."
"Something like that," Angel bantered back, he knew how to handle smart asses, and Methos was one.
MacLoud asked, "What does this girl mean to you?"
Angel half smiled and answered, "She's a friend, even though under other circumstances I wouldn't admit it."
Joe asked, "I'm still not clear on the whole vampire thing, what the hell is going on?"
Angel looked at the crippled man and felt sorry for him. Angel knew what it was like to be disabled. He asked, "You mean you want to know what is truth and what is fiction, right?" Joe nodded. Angel shrugged and replied, "Well, ask away."
MacLoud asked, "Can you hypnotize people, you know like in the movies?"
Angel shook his head and answered, "No, I can't but some others can. Before . . . before I was cursed there was a girl I changed with physic powers. They developed even more and she can hypnotize people. Another vampire, a very old one, called the Master, could do that as well. Also when a vampire attacks a person and the person survives, and the person has no memory of the attack." Then he chuckled, "It would be nice at times though."
Joe asked, "All the other powers, you know flight, the shape shifting, and telepathy, can you do that?"
Angel chuckled, the idea of him turning into a bat was funny, or a wolf, or mist. Then another image of himself flying around Los Angeles made him snort. He shook his head and answered, "No, I can't."
"So you're not all powerful then?" MacLoud asked.
Angel shook his head. He said, "And all of the modern legends, like Anne Rice, are wrong. I fear the cross, I can't enter a home without an invitation, but once invited I can keep coming in, I don't have a refection, and holy water burns a vampire's skin like acid."
Methos asked, "I know beheading kills one of you guys, but what else?"
Angel shrugged, answering, "The traditional method is a wooden steak threw the heart, but other ways are burning, sunlight, beheading, and there is even a poison that can. . . . " He shook his head, trying to get the image that was forming in his mind out. He did not want to think of that, now, or ever again.
MacLoud asked, "So what can you do, do you have any powers I mean?"
Angel answered, "It depends on the vampire. Some are stronger than others, some heal faster, some are more sensitive, I mean have better senses than others, and some are faster. Occasionally you'll get a master vampire or a rouge that'll be almost unstoppable. Most of them are idiots. I even thought so before."
MacLoud studied the vampire for a moment, the ease he moved. MacLoud noticed that Angel had moved with a fighter's grace, and he wondered how powerful the vampire was. MacLoud looked at Methos, who inturn shrugged, then at Joe who shook his head.
MacLoud knew one thing, that Angel was not evil. MacLoud knew that for a fact. The guilt and pain of over a century was reflected in the vampire's eyes. What Angel was doing had a certain nobility in it that MacLoud admired.
Methos said, "So then, what are you like then?"
Angel only half smiled and shrugged. The vampire said, "I'm me. I don't know." MacLoud had a feeling that there was more to it than that. Then Angel looked out the window. "Damn, I've gotta go."
MacLoud looked out the window as well, sunrise was about a half an hour away. Angel said, "We'll meet tonight."
Methos asked, "When and where?"
Angel smiled and answered, "I'll find you."
MacLoud watched as the vampire walked out of his apartment. A few feet down the corridor, Angel seemed to fade into the shadows.
Cordelia paced in her plush prison. It was richly furnished with a canopy bed and oak dressers. Drake, Draken rather, hadn't done anything to hurt her. He just put her in this room and said to behave herself. He was a jerk.
Cordy walked over to one of the closets and opened it. It was full of stylish and expensive clothing. Cordelia ran her fingers over the sleeves of a sheer burgundy blouse. Everything looked to be in her size and Draken had told her she was welcome to everything in these two rooms.
She looked down at her dress and two inch high heels. Not exactly the outfit to plan an escape in, she thought. Cordelia grimaced, it didn't mean anything if she wore any of these clothes, did it? Well she shrugged to herself and grabbed a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt from the closet.
Angel woke up. It was an hour before sunset. He walked over to the window and looked out, making sure that none of the sunlight hit him. He was worried about Cordelia. He had so few friends, and he already had so much blood on his hands.
He didn't want her death hanging over his head.
He paced the confinement of his apartment, knowing he should get something to eat, but wasn't hungry. He opened up the refrigerator like an impatient child and looked in. He reached in and grabbed his one bag of human blood.
Angel studied it, the thickness of it, the color. Mostly he survived on animal blood, but if he was severely injured human blood helped speed up the healing process. Disgusted with himself, he hung the blood bag up on the top rack and grabbed the half-filled pint from the other night.
Angel sat down on the couch and wondered what was happening to Cordelia.
Cordelia stealthily walked out of her plush prison. She crept down the hall, wanting to make a dead run for it, but knowing that would be stupid. She wondered why Angel hadn't tried to save her yet, then she remembered the weird guys in the club with the swords. She wondered if he was alive, so to speak.
Cordelia looked down the hall, it was clear. One thing about hanging with Angel, it had taught her to be more careful and smarter. Cordelia broke into a run to the door at the end of the corridor. Grinning at herself, she open the door.
The grin slid off her face as she saw Draken smileing at her. He grabbed her by the wrist and said, "My dear, things are about to get very interesting."
Cordy groaned and said, "Damn it." Draken laughed.
Angel put on his duster when someone knocked on the door. He felt his senses sharpen and grope out of the apartment in warning. He walked to the door, grabbing his baseball bat along the way.
Angel quickly opened the door, holding the bat ready. MacLoud, Methos and Joe stood there, a faint smile played across Methos' features.
Angel stashed the baseball bat and crossly asked, "How the hell did you find me?"
Methos smiled at him and answered, "Well, some of Joe's people followed you last night."
MacLoud shrugged as Angel looked at him. MacLoud said, "It was Methos' idea, not mine."
Angel glared at the older Immortal, wanting to take the baseball bat and smash it across his face. Methos chuckled, which cause Joe to mutter, "Smart ass."
Angel grinned at the Watcher. Then, as an afterthought, "Hey, Joe have you ever heard of someone called a Slayer?"
Joe looked perplexed for a moment, which caused Angel to chuckle. He had a sense of humor, an odd one, buried under centuries of torture and loneliness, but it was there. Besides, Angel had to ask that one. For a moment he wondered what it would be like if Giles and Joe Dawson met. Probably very awkward for the British Watcher.
Methos asked, "Is there something I'm not getting hear?"
Angel nodded. MacLoud shook his head and grinned. MacLoud said, "Someone accualy got you Methos."
Methos shrugged and replied, "Bound to happen sometime."
Angel crossed his arms, becoming serious once more. He asked, "Draken. Cordelia. Did you find anything?"
Joe answered, "Two possible places."
MacLoud looked at the vampire's pale features as they drove to one of the addresses that Joe had fount. MacLoud asked, "This girl, what does she mean to you?" He had asked the question once and wanted to see how Angel would answer it again.
Angel strummed his fingers of the T-Bird's dash board as he answered, "She's a friend, I guess. She's my sidekick, I think. She helps me and I pay her. She's my girl Friday, I think. It's kind of strange." Then with a self mocking smile he added, "Most of the things of my life are strange."
MacLoud smiled, he knew the feeling. He said, "I know the feeling."
The vampire looked at him and asked, "Do you?"
MacLoud nodded. He knew what it was like to lead a strange, semi-charmed life. Immortality wasn't what it was cracked up to be. He had even killed his best friend under the influence of Ahriman. He wondered if Richie's spirt was well.
MacLoud asked, "Have you ever heard of the demon Ahriman?"
Angel looked at him intensely. The vampire had this intense brooding quality about him that was discerning. He answered, "Yeah, it comes every thousand years to be defeated by a challenger. Each champion has their own way of defeating them."
MacLoud watched Angel's reaction as he said, "I was this generation's champion."
Angel's eyes became huge as he said in disbelief, "You killed Ahriman. That's incredible, but good."
"How?" MacLoud asked, not understanding.
Angel's half grin was sad as he answered, "I thought that someone else would have to fight him, and that I would lose them."
"A girl," MacLoud said partially understanding.
The vampire nodded and was about to add something when they approached the building.
MacLoud looked at the heavy lock on the back door. It had a chain around it. MacLoud was about to pick it when Angel reached it and broke the chain. MacLoud looked at him startled, Angel only shrugged.
The vampire pushed open the door. They walked into the building, and MacLoud had his sword at the ready. And they were met by twenty armed guards.
Angel shouted, "Run! This way!" MacLoud only looked at Angel for a moment before the vampire took off at a dead run. Angel didn't want to be shot. It hurt like hell. He had been shot twice over the past three years and didn't want to relive the experience.
Angel looked behind him, the Immortal was running from the armed guards, moving fast, but not fast enough. Then Angel saw a heavy steel door. He didn't sense anyone inside it, so he grabbed MacLoud and busted it open.
He locked the door behind him and looked around the room. MacLoud said, "Well we fount the place."
Angel asked, "Okay then, now what?"
MacLoud shrugged as they began to pace the room. Angel looked up for an air-conditioning vent, then he gasped. He saw vents, but they weren't air-conditioning vents. They where gas vents. MacLoud cursed, "Son of a bitch."
Angel had led them into a trap. He heard the guards milling about outside when yellow gas seeped from the vents. MacLoud started to waver as he said, "Its knock out gas."
"Damn," Angel cursed as MacLoud passed out on the ground. The gas wouldn't affect him, Angel was technically dead and didn't need to breathe. The door started to slowly open. Angel quickly laid down on the ground and closed his eyes, giving the illusion that he was asleep.
The guards picked up MacLoud first then Angel, dragging them onto an elevator. Angel opened one of his eyes for a moment, reading the number that the guard pushed. He read 20, the top floor, inwardly, Angel cursed.
They were dragged to a room and sat in chairs. Every self defense mechanism demanded that Angel snap the neck of the guard that was hand cuffing his hands behind his back. Angel tugged slightly at the chains, keeping the rest of his body limp. If push came to shove, he could break them with no problem.
A familiar voice cried out, "Ohmygawd! Angel! Let him go you bastard!" So Cordelia was all right, for now, that was a small comfort to Angel.
Beside him, MacLoud slowly awoke, Angel pantomimed the actions. He looked up at Draken groggily.
Draken was sitting in a lush chair behind an antique desk. Cordelia was standing beside him, her hands cuffed behind her back. Angel looked at her, hoping she would get the message to keep quiet.
MacLoud asked, "What are you doing, Draken?"
Angel was aware of the ten armed men in the room, two of them pointing machine guns at their heads. He cautiously looked around. The office was expensive, filled with fine pieces of art and statues in glass cases.
Draken answered, "I'm going to be the only One left Highlander."
Angel twisted his handcuff chains behind his back, he felt them start to give way.
MacLoud asked, "How are you gonna do that Draken?"
The blond Immortal sadistically smiled as he pointed at the armed guards. Draken answered, "It's simple really. Xavier St. Cloud came up with the basic idea."
Angel didn't know the name, but the spark of anger in MacLoud's brown eyes showed he did. MacLoud hissed, "Your capturing other Immortals, shooting them, and while they're dead, you cut off their heads."
Draken's laugh was sadistic as he exclaimed, "Yes! Isn't it brilliant?"
Angel said, "No, it just shows that you're a coward."
Draken walked over to Angel and struck him. Angel glowered up at him and laughed, "Is that all you have, Draken?"
Cordelia shook her head and suggested, "Um, Draken, I don't think getting him angry is a good idea."
Draken leered at her and replied, "Thank you for your concern my sweet, but I can take care of myself." Angel felt the handcuffs slowly give way under his grasp.
Cordelia tossed her long, dark hair as she said, "Just thought I should warn you."
MacLoud struggled and snapped, "Let the mortals go. They have no part in this game."
Draken walked behind the desk, as he did he lightly caressed Cordelia's cheek. Angel wanted to beat him to a bloody pulp. Draken replied, "Well the lovely Cordelia would be so useful and the boy needs to die. He knows about us."
Angel felt that the chain was near breaking. Draken said, "Say good bye to your friend, MacLoud."
Cordelia looked nervous, and Angel knew the feeling. MacLoud said, "Draken, you don't want to do this . . . "
Draken nodded at the armed guard and said, "Kill the mortal."
The guard grinned and aimed his gun. Angel rose up in one fluid motion, showing the broken handcuffs. The guard blinked in surprise. Angel smiled and said, "I don't think so, boy."
Then he disarmed the guard and pointed the gun at the other armed guard. Another guy rushed at him, Angel spun around and grabbed him. Angel snapped the guy's neck without much thought. Draken looked surprised.
Angel reached behind MacLoud to brake his handcuffs, but MacLoud had already gotten out of them. Draken shouted, "Shoot them!"
Bullets reined on them. Angel dove behind the chair, so did MacLoud. MacLoud said, "Give me the gun."
Angel handed the Immortal the automatic weapon. MacLoud stood up and fired a few rounds. Angel rose up and launched himself toward Draken and Cordelia.
He felt the flesh of his face quiver as it changed. His brow became heavy, calloused, and jutted out. His canines grew and sharpened into gleaming fangs. He blinked his eyes and when he opened them they glowed a predatory gold.
Draken blinked as Angel towered above him on the desk. Angel smiled and said, "I'm not human." Then he lifted Draken up with one hand. Angel said, "I'm beyond your comprehension, Immortal."
Draken's ice blue eyes widened in terror, good. Angel smiled and lifted Draken closer to him. From behind Draken Cordelia shook her head and said, "See, I told you not to tick him off, but no." Then the sharp, searing pain of a bullet sliced into his arm. Growling in pain, Angel dropped Draken.
MacLoud shoved Angel off the desk and shouted, "Get the girl!" Then MacLoud noticed Angel's face. Angel growled at Draken and tried to reach for Cordelia. Draken grabbed Cordy in one fluid motion and dove behind his armed goons. Angel snarled and looked for some way to grab Cordelia.
MacLoud cried out and fell to the ground. "Damn it!" A bullet hole went through the Immortal's gut. Angel grabbed MacLoud, he wasn't breathing and didn't have a pulse. "Damn, damn, damn, damn, damn it!" Angel kept cursing as he slung MacLoud in a fireman's carry over his right shoulder.
He kicked the door and closed his eyes for a moment. He opened up his senses to their fullest, groping for a way out that was near the Thunderbird. He ran out of the door, bullets shattering things around him. A bullet hit its mark in Angel's left shoulder. He growled in pain, but kept on.
Angel ran down the fire escape stairs, the goons following close behind him. More gun fire followed him, and he shouted as a bullet went through his left lung, close to his heart. He stumbled a step, but kept running.
Angel finally reached the first floor. He paused for a moment, winching at the pain. He saw a window. Angel grinned as he ran through it. Pieces of glass sliced into Angel's flesh, but he ignored it. He only had one thought on his mind, escape.
Angel ran as fast as he could to the black T-bird. Luckily the top was down. He placed MacLoud in the passenger's side and jumped in the driver's side. He took MacLoud's keys from his pocket and started the engine.
Angel gave the building one last look as he drove away.
As he drove Angel felt each wound, he flinched, but kept his mind on driving. MacLoud gasped for air, Angel looked at him in amazement. MacLoud was fully healed, Angel wished he was that lucky.
MacLoud rubbed his face and groggily asked, "What happened?"
Angel flinched, he answered, gritting his fangs in pain, "You died. I got us out."
MacLoud asked, "What about the girl?"
Angel swallowed and looked a head, the guilt was almost elispeing the physical pain. He didn't answer. It was sometimes the easiest thing to do. Sometimes he was too guilty to answer, and that bothered him.
MacLoud sat up and said, "Draken still has the girl."
Angel nodded, winching as he did. He said, "Yeah, he does."
MacLoud said, "Pull over." Angel looked into the Immortal's angry face and did as he was instructed.
"Now what?" Methos sarcastically asked Joe as they stood in front of the empty warehouse. Draken wasn't there, nothing was there except a few rats. Methos didn't like rats, discussing, plague carrying filth.
Joe shrugged and answered, "Well, I'll call up the Watchers and see if they know anything about this. Or we can wait for MacLoud and the vampire to get back."
"Angel, Joe, his name is Angel," Methos corrected.
Joe uneasily shrugged and pivoted away from Methos on his cane. The Watcher might not want to admit it, but they made a good team, and Methos was fond of the bitter mortal. Like he was fond of Amanda. They both amused him. He respected MacLoud. There was just this pure goodness in his soul that inspired others to do good.
The classic black T-Bird pulled up in front of them. Methos sensed MacLoud's presence as the younger Immortal and vampire immerged from the vehicle. They both were the worse for wear with their clothes covered with bullet holes and damp with blood. Methos leaned up against Joe's van and said, "I don't think you've been to some block party, so what happened?"
MacLoud gave the vampire a dirty look, the vampire returned the favor, except he growled a little bit. MacLoud answered, "We fount Draken."
Angel answered before MacLoud did, "We were out numbered and out gunned."
MacLoud whirled on the vampire and sneered, "You could have left me and got the girl you know that."
Angel stepped closer to MacLoud. Methos knew a fight's beginnings when he saw them. The vampire was inches away from MacLoud's face as he growled, "Well, next time you're dead and someone wants to cut your head off, I'll let them!"
MacLoud moved closer as he spat, "The girl's still in danger. She could be dead right as we speak!"
Angel snarled, "Don't you think I know that? No one could have gotten Cordelia back with all that firepower Draken had at his disposal. Besides, he doesn't want to hurt her."
MacLoud moved closer and snapped, "What, the big, bad, blood sucking fiend couldn't go through a wall of armed humans?"
"What the hell is that supoce to mean?" the vampire snarled. Methos and Joe watched as they were practically on top of each other.
"I don't know, do you want to make something of it?" MacLoud fired back.
Methos, sensing his cue, tried to pull them away from each other. His efforts got him shoved against the warehouse door. He stood up and waited.
Angel asked, "Do you? Because, I can do just fine on my own."
Then, as Methos knew he would, MacLoud punched the vampire. Angel's head was snapped to the side. Any other person would have been rearing from that blow, Methos knew that from personal experience. Angel looked back at MacLoud and said, "Fine, if you want a fight, then you'll get a fight, Highlander." Then Angel returned the favor with a right cross.
MacLoud reeled back and straitened up. He spun around, sending a good, solid round house kick at the vampire. The blow connected with Angel's mid section. The vampire doubled over for a split instant and then snap kicked MacLoud in the chest. They rushed at each other, trading blows furiously.
None of them was winning anyways. Joe was shouting for them to stop, but, they were having too much of a good time beating the crap out of each other. Methos looked up and sent a silent prayer to whoever was listening. Then he rushed in between them, making the sign of the cross to ward off Angel.
Methos held his cross shaped fingers at the vampire. Angel looked at him like he was insane. MacLoud was catching his breath as he watched Methos. Methos asked, "Can we act like normal adults and try to save the girl?"
Angel laughed. Methos didn't believe it. Here he was, the oldest known Immortal, and some leech was laughing at him. Angel laughed again, almost doubleing over. Methos looked at him in disbelief and pushed his makeshift ward of evil at him.
Angel asked, "How many vampire movies have you seen?"
"Why?" Methos asked, noticing that his fingers weren't having any affect on the vampire.
Angel shook his head between bouts of laughter. He slowly stopped laughing and said, "It's been years since I've had a good laugh."
Methos asked, "What's so funny?"
MacLoud chuckled, "The ward against evil doesn't work on him, Methos."
Methos shoved his hands into his ratty trench coat and shuffled defensively. He said, "Well, it was just a thought."
Angel said, "Okay, now, what about Cordelia? Because I'm into this as thickly as you are, and if you tell me to keep out of it, I won't. It's a stubborn little habit I've picked up during the years."
Cordelia couldn't help the sly grin that formed on her features as she watched Draken pace around his office. He asked, "That was a vampire, wasn't he?"
Cordy grinned and quipped, "Boy, and did you see the look on your face when he picked you up? I swore you were about to piss all over yourself when he growled at you."
Draken smiled sadistically and said, "Well I can cut off his head and MacLoud's in the same night. Your little creature of the night doesn't scare me."
Cordelia grinned. Angel was like a Timex, he took a licking and kept on ticking. He may fall down, but he would always get up swinging, and he would always win. She told him, "You don't know Angel, do you? Boy, you're about to get your ass kicked."
Draken sneered at her as his fist contacted with her face. She shouted in shock and pain as she fell to the ground with the force of the blow. He jerked her up and twisted her arms roughly behind her back with savage force. She herd the sound of hand cuffs clicking shut behind her. She whimpered in fear, most of her bravado gone, when he tilted his sword at her throat.
He jerked her up, sending sparks of pain up and down her arms, and pulled her face close to his. Draken snapped, "You, my dear, sweet child will be bait for both MacLoud and the bloodsucking fiend."
"How connected are the Watchers?" Angel asked as Joe talked to someone on his cell phone. Methos shrugged and stuffed his hands into his coat pockets.
MacLoud rolled his eyes and rubbed at his soar jaw. Next time MacLoud knew to end a fight with a vampire quickly. Angel packed quite a punch. He answered, "The Watchers are all over the world. They're connected, and they can all get information from each other."
Angel nodded and said, "That could be useful. If another Immortal was bothering you, and you didn't know who they were you could just ask Joe."
"Or me," Methos said with a wry grin. Angel ignored him and looked back at MacLoud, asking, "Did that get Joe into any trouble?"
MacLoud's grin was bitter as he answered, "You could say that."
Angel leaned up against the T-Bird and asked, "Why are you here in L.A.?"
For someone who didn't like people, the vampire sure asked a lot of questions. As an explanation, the vampire said, "Los Angeles, the City of Demons. If you're wanting to fight evil, this is the place, but if you're not, it defiantly isn't."
MacLoud shrugged. He really didn't have any idea on why he was in L.A. He got tired of Paris, and it brought up too many painful memories. Like, where he, under the influence of the demon Ahriman, decapitated his ex-student, and one of his best friends, Richie Ryan. The young Immortal didn't have a chance. He just walked down the esclateor and MacLoud sliced his head off.
He eventually defeated Ahriman, and came to terms with Duncan MacLoud, of the Clan MacLoud, and decided to come back to America. He then started up his antique shop again, hoping for a little piece, and to protect a couple of mortals.
MacLoud asked, "Why did you come to Los Angeles?"
Angel half smiled and looked wistfully up at the sky. He answered, "The obvious reason."
MacLoud smiled, "A girl."
Angel nodded and said, "You don't know the half of it." He half smiled and said, "I don't think I even understand half of it."
Joe was on his cell phone once more, talking adamantly with a Watcher. He turned the phone off and said, "We fount Draken, he's at The St. Paul Catholic Church on Second street."
MacLoud frowned, he was on Holy Ground, he couldn't kill him if he needed to. Angel said, "Fine, lets get him then."
MacLoud told him, "No, we can't."
"Why not?" Angel asked.
"It's Holy Ground," MacLoud simply told him.
"That's not a problem, I can go into churches," Angel said.
Methos said, "No, Immortals can't fight and kill on Holy Ground."
"Why not?" Angel asked.
"Because it would be very bad," Methos answered.
Angel said, "Well, I'm not an Immortal, so there's no rule saying I can't kill him."
Cordelia looked around at the huge church. Street light filtered in from the stain glass windows, casting everything in a plum glow. Draken sat on the altar with all the arrogance of a king. Cordy couldn't wait to see Angel wipe that look off his face. Or even that MacLoud guy.
Cordelia heard the engine of a car parking. Draken smiled and said, "Ah, they are here."
Cordy twisted her hand cuffs. Why couldn't she have super strength too? She snapped, "Ass kicking time."
"Not particulary," Draken said with a smile.
"You could say that," Angel said as he entered the church, a long sword in his hand.
Angel saw that Cordelia was unhurt. Good. Now it was time to put his plan into action. MacLoud didn't like it, but, as Angel pointed out, no one had any other ideas than to wait for Draken to come out. Angel was going to make him run out of the church, right into Methos or MacLoud.
Angel clutched at the sword in his hand and easily swung it up. Draken smiled and smoothly said, "You can't kill me here."
"Why not?" Angel asked. He looked over to the side, changing his face, then facing Draken vamped out.
"Because you can't," Draken swallowed, less sure now.
Angel looked around and said, "Oh, yeah, because we're in Holy Ground. It doesn't matter, I'm not an Immortal."
Draken stood so that the altar was between them. Angel hoped that he didn't notice the porcelain basin filled with Holy Water to the side of him. Draken croaked, "Something could happen to you, to us."
"What?" Angel asked, "The portal of Hell opening up and swallowing us?" Angel smiled, purposely flashing his fangs, "Hell doesn't scare me."
"Yeah, he's been there," Cordelia called out.
Angel moved closer and whispered, "I'm already damned, it doesn't matter if I go to Hell this way, or some other."
"You're insane," Draken cried out.
"No," Cordelia said, "He's just about to kick your ass."
Then Angel growled and charged at him. He swung his sword down, cutting the altar in half. Draken screamed as Angel came at him again. Then, he ran out of the church.
Angel snapped Cordy's hand cuffs and asked, "Could someone tell me what's going on?"
Angel smiled and said, "It's a long story."
MacLoud brought out his sword as Draken ran at him. Draken shouted, histericly, "Oh my god, MacLoud, that vampire . . . He's insane. You gotta kill him!"
MacLoud said, "You should have thought about that before you kidnaped the girl and started killing Immortals like you did."
Draken's blue eyes went wide. MacLoud said, "There can be only One."
Draken brought out his sword and shouted, "And it's not going to be you!"
He charged at MacLoud. MacLoud blocked his blow and swept his legs out from beneath him. He had his head then, but MacLoud wasn't ready to take it yet. Draken sprang back up and swung his sword at him. MacLoud deflected the blow and sliced his sword across Draken's arm.
MacLoud said, "That was for Marcus you bastard."
Draken looked at the bleeding gash and sneered, "I'll have your head for that MacLoud."
MacLoud brought his sword up and said, "I don't think so." Then, with one clean swipe, he cut off Draken's head.
Angel watched the lighting charge through the stain glass window. Cordelia asked, "What's going on?"
Angel took her hand when the electricity finally stopped. He said, "Well, lets go see."
MacLoud was leaning on his sword when Angel and Cordelia emerged from the church and Methos and Joe came to join him. Angel said, "Looks like he lost his head."
Cordelia exclaimed, "Eeeeeewwwww! Gross, beheadings."
MacLoud said, while still catching his breath, "It's over."
It was a few days later when Angel walked into MacLoud's shop. MacLoud shook his cold hand and asked, "How are you?"
The vampire nodded and said, "Fine, and you?"
MacLoud answered, "Good."
Angel said, "Thank you for helping me get Cordelia back."
MacLoud replied, "Thank you for helping me stop Draken."
They nodded at each other. Angel said, "Well, maybe we should keep in touch, incase I run into an Immortal and you run into something else."
MacLoud nodded in agreement, "We should do that."
Then they shook hands. Then MacLoud smiled and said, "I'm going to find out what happened with you and the reason you came to Los Angeles."
Angel raised an eyebrow at him and said, "I don't even think forever is going to be enough time for you to find that out."
MacLoud laughed and the vampire smiled. Then Angel said, "Okay, the painting, how much is it?"
Angel placed the portrait in the closet. Cordelia stood behind him and asked, "Why aren't you hanging it up, it's a good picture?"
Angel shook his head. The mortal wouldn't understand. Then she said, "Okay,
the MacLoud guy and the lighting, I want answers . . ."
But there is a sequel in the works!