Title: Once a Slayer, Now an Immortal

Disclaimer: I do not own either Buffy: the Vampire Slayer or Highlander. I am merely borrowing them.

A/N: This story will take place after season seven of Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and after "Revelation 6:8" in season five of Highlander. Richie will not be appearing in this story; he is probably off traveling. Wesley will be on loan from a slightly AU season five of Angel for a few chapters here and there.

* Solutions *

"Hello," Buffy said into the phone, glad for the distraction and excuse to ignore the others.

"Buffy, it's Wesley."

"Oh, hey. How's it going?" Buffy asked.

"Fine, just fine. I have an answer for you," said Wesley.

"Oh, just wait one second. I'm going to put you on speakerphone," said Buffy as she did it. "I finally told Duncan and Adam about being the Slayer and since they know all about my unique problems, they should be allowed to hear the possible resolutions."

"Alright," said Wesley, his voice sounding unnaturally loud over the speaker. "Travers is using a crystal called a hebescesaxum. It's Latin. It means 'weakening stone.' The Council has known about them for quite a while. They were previously used to weaken the Slayer during her Cruciamentum."

"Isn't that nice," interrupted Buffy. "What? Was that before the Council got into New Age, homeopathic muscle relaxants?"

Wesley cleared his throat, obviously uncomfortable, "Well, um, yes, actually. You see, they stopped using the crystal because it was difficult to make certain that the Slayer would be within its effects during the entire time of the test. Should the Slayer move too far away from the crystal, she would regain her abilities and the test would be ruined."

"So, what do I do?" asked Buffy. "No offense, Wes, but this info doesn't exactly help me overcome the obstacle."

"Just let me finish, Buffy. Be patient and stop interrupting," snapped Wesley, sounding extremely exasperated. Buffy could just picture him pinching the bridge of his nose and pursing his lips together in frustration; it made her smile. Duncan, Adam, and Joe just smirked at each other, each having felt the same irritation at the talkative blonde.

"I shipped you a crystal, Buffy," continued Wesley. "It should work as a blocking agent. The crystal, if worn around your neck, will absorb the energies of the hebescesaxum and render them inert."

"So, it's like my lead to Travers' Kryptonite," interrupted Buffy.

"What?" asked Wesley simultaneously with Adam.

"Sorry," shrugged Buffy, "too much time with Xander."

"Yes, well," continued Wesley, deciding to just ignore Buffy's nerdy outburst, "just wear the crystal around your neck and you should be able to beat Travers. I mailed it to you overnight, so you should receive it in the morning."

"Thanks, Watcher-mine," said Buffy, about to hang up until she heard Wesley clear his throat again. "Is there something else?"

"Yes," said Wesley. Buffy could hear him shuffling papers around. "On a hunch, I decided to track Travers' past as far as I could. I found something interesting. Do you remember what I told you about the split in the Watcher's Council?"

"Yeah," said Buffy, looking pointedly at Adam and rolling her eyes. Did Wesley think she was stupid or something?

"Well, it was Travers."

"What was Travers?" asked Buffy, refocusing her attention on the phone.

"The Immortal who went around killing Slayers. In five months Travers killed seven Slayers. He managed to disappear right after the split and was never made to pay for what he had done. Looking back into some old files, I found his old Watcher's file. It says that Travers, or Nathaniel Wilkes as he was called then, killed the Slayers to prove to the Council that they weren't training the girls properly. In some ways, his attacks did help; the Slayers' training became more rigorous and the Slayers' life expectancy was increased by nearly six months."

"How did he get away with this?" asked Duncan, too disgusted to stay out of the conversation. "The Watchers should have had enough records on him to ensure that he didn't become a Watcher. What happened?"

"Hello, you must be Duncan MacLeod," said Wesley, polite as usual. "Well, since the split between the two branches of the Watchers Council was so deep and effective, only 100 years later Travers was able to take over the Council that dealt with the Slayers under an assumed name. It seems that no one was the wiser. I found this information about him in the branch that deals with Immortals. It seems that they have known about this the entire time."

"How did you get this information?" asked Joe, concerned for his organization's security.

"Ah, you must be Joe Dawson," mused Wesley. "It is a pleasure to make the acquaintance of a fellow Watcher. I only wish I had a face to go with the voice. Well, to answer your question, here at Wolfram & Hart, I have some resources that are unavailable to most people, including some of the best hackers in the world. I put one of my best—and most trustworthy—men on it. I made helping Buffy my top priority."

After hearing the affection in Wesley's voice and the obvious care that he felt for Buffy, Joe's concern melted away and he was left just feeling glad that Buffy had someone that cared so much about her.

"How did no one in the Council ever catch on?" asked Buffy, rejoining the conversation.

"Well," explained Wesley, "it seems that he would disappear every 30 years or so and return 30 years after that with a new name, each time managing to finagle his way to the top. Despite being quite a son of a bitch—pardon my language—Travers was actually a very intelligent man. Some of the research he did for the Council was quite brilliant."

"Still hate him," said Buffy, with a lopsided smile on her face. As different as Wesley was from Giles, it was times like these that Wesley reminded her exactly of her former Watcher. They both had a thirst for knowledge that would allow them to forgive almost anyone for almost anything in the pursuit of it. She liked that about them.

"Yes, well, you are certainly within your right to do so," chuckled Wesley. "I should be going. Angel wanted me to research something for him and I have not even begun yet. I will have to come up with some sort of excuse."

"Tell him you were throwing up," advised Buffy. "He can't get mad at you if you were sick."

"Buffy, I am not a high-school student attempting to get out of writing an essay," chided Wesley.

"Yeah," laughed Buffy, "like you ever tried to get out of writing essays in high school. I bet you used to write extra essays for your teachers as presents or something."

"Goodbye, Buffy," said Wesley, putting an end to the teasing.

"Bye, Wes," said Buffy, sorry to have to hang up so quickly. "I'll talk to you again soon. And thanks … for everything."

After hearing the soft click on the other end of the line, Buffy slowly lowered the phone into the cradle. Looking at Duncan, she grinned and casually flipped her hair over her shoulder. "Looks like I can fight my own battles again," she said jokingly. Although the statement was spoken in jest, Duncan recognized an intensity behind it. Buffy did not want him to fight her battles for her. She had had enough of that. She simply wanted support on the sidelines and Duncan was ready to give her that. With a slight nod of his head, he let Buffy know that he understood her.

After nodding back curtly, Buffy jumped up, back to her usual cheery, energetic, pain-in-the-ass mode and kicked them out of her apartment. "I'm tired and need to sleep. I will see you guys tomorrow. G'night."

X X X

The next morning, Buffy walked into Joe's bar with a spring in her step.

"Well, you look better," remarked Duncan, glad to see his student back to her old self. Seeing her so depressed yesterday had really unnerved and upset him.

"Well, I am a girl and girls love accessories," said Buffy flippantly. With that she pulled out the crystal she had received from Wesley that morning. It was a light pink, the exact same shade as the crystal Travers had. It hung from a leather thong and when the light caught it, it sparkled and shone. "Isn't it pretty?" she asked the amused men.

"Sure, it's pretty, but does it work?" asked Adam, who had been fairly quiet the day before after revealing his past to Buffy. He was worried. But not about Buffy keeping her head; he had complete faith in her and her fighting abilities, even without her super-strength. He was worried about the person. Although Duncan and Joe seemed perfectly happy to see Buffy acting cheery, he couldn't help but think it was façade. And the sad part was, she was such a good actress, she was even fooling herself. He had lived a long time and seen a lot of things and he knew that recovery was not that quick. It was long and hard and painful. He just hoped that when the reality hit Buffy, she wouldn't be hurt beyond healing.

Entirely unaware of Adam's feelings, Buffy shrugged and answered, "Won't know until I try it." Then, seeing his anxious face, she added, "But I have complete faith in Wesley. I'm sure he's right."

"Do you have a plan for how you will find Travers? Do you want help?" asked Duncan hoping that Buffy would answer "yes" to both questions. Although he'd been unable to teach her new fighting techniques, he was still her teacher and he hoped that he had imparted some wisdom to her. Having a plan could be just as important as the fight itself. It was key to be prepared. He also hoped that she would let him help her. Although he didn't know if she truly needed help, he wanted to be there for her.

"Yes and no," answered Buffy, laughing when she saw Duncan's face fall at the "no." "It isn't that I don't want help, Duncan, it's just that this is something I need to do for myself. I need to see this through to the end by myself. I'm done having people fight my battles for me. And I'm not saying this to protect you," she said, cutting off his argument before he could even mount it. "I'm saying this to save myself."

Swallowing hard, Duncan fought back any complaints he might have made. Her logic was sound and he did not want to curb this independence and self-reliance she was showing. Moving ahead, he asked, "So, what is your plan?"

"I was planning to go back tonight to the cemetery that we met in. I don't know why, but I have a strong feeling that he'll be there. Call it slayer intuition, or maybe it's immortal intuition since this is more connected to that aspect of me, although it is connected to both," yammered Buffy. "Anyway," she said to cut off her flowing babble, "I'll just hang out there, you know, kill some vamps if I see them."

"Kill vampires? Tonight?" asked Joe incredulously.

"Yeah," said Buffy. "I'm done pretending that I'm not still the Slayer. I am. I always will be. It's my duty and I can't ignore it just because I'm tired of it. It's a part of me that will never go away."

There was a moment of silence as the three men absorbed that, each silently applauding Buffy. Acceptance was not an easy thing to achieve, especially from oneself.

"Until tonight," continued Buffy, resuming her playful attitude, "I just want to hang out with you guys and relax."

"No problem," said Joe, grinning. "I'll get you a beer."

X X X

Buffy got to the cemetery just as the sun was setting. Duncan had pointed out to her that she didn't need to wait until sundown; Travers wasn't a vampire. But it just felt right to Buffy. She spent her entire life in dark cemeteries. Just as Giles felt at home in a library, Buffy felt eerily at home in a poorly-lit cemetery.

She had only been there for maybe ten minutes when she felt the familiar buzz indicating that another Immortal was approaching. Tucking the crystal safely out of sight under her shirt, Buffy grabbed her glaive and went on alert.

* TBC *

Just one more chapter left.

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