Disclaimers:I own neither Buffy nor Highlander. I wish I did, but I don't.
Spoilers: No real point in Buffy or Highlander, so it'll be a little mixed-up.
Note: I never really go into the series of Highlander, so this is more a crossover with the film. Italic text denotes flashbacks.
Swords Drawn, Act 1
Giles dropped the phone back into its cradle and slowly removed his glasses. He slowly cleaned the lenses, something he did when he needed to think.
Darkness. Gunfire. People screaming. Echoing clashes of steel on steel.
Buffy looked at him, "Are you ok, Giles? You seem a little distracted."
Giles shook himself, "No, I'm fine. I've just spoken to someone I've not seen for a long time. An old friend, of sorts."
The Slayer was slightly confused, "O-K. So what is it tonight? Training or research?"
Giles walked past her, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to give it a miss tonight. There is something I have to do." He opened the door to the Magic Box's back room, and locked it after him.
Buffy looked over at the Scoobys, "Ok, weird. Which, with Giles, is incredibly scary."
Giles opened his weapons chest and quickly emptied it. The false bottom was a little stiff, but it gave way in the end, and the former Watcher looked down at what was hidden below: two cloth-wrapped cylinders and a battered old box. The first cylinder was removed and unwrapped, the black velvet dropping to the floor without a sound. He opened the end of the container and reached in. His hand found the familiar shape of a sword handle, and he drew the weapon.
The meter long blade seemed to shine in the twilight that drifted in through the windows, its marked surface showing where the steel had been folded time after time to make it stronger. The grip was varnished wood, and felt like it had been molded to his hand, as indeed it had.
Giles stood and swung the sword a few times. It was perfectly balanced, and made almost no sound as it cut through the air. He swung it in a faster and more complex pattern, his body remembering movements long forgotten by his conscious mind.
The sounds of steel echoing against steel. Two bodys moving in a deadly dance that could spell death at the slightest mistake.
Giles bowed his head slightly as he finished his exercises, before retrieving the scabbard from the tube and returning the sword to its place. The other cylinder revealed a second sword, almost identical to the first, except for a lighter colour to the varnish in the handle. He looked at the weapon intently, tears welling up in his eyes.
A smile on a face framed by auburn hair. A laugh. A soft voice singing. Love.
He looked at the old box, but refrained from opening it; he didn't have time for that.
Buffy's face turned the instant she heard the lock click, but Giles breezed past them without a word, his long over coat trailing behind as he headed for the door. Her eyes caught sight of a scabbard attached to his belt, and her heart missed a beat.
Waiting till Giles was gone, she opened the door to the back room and walked over to the weapons chest and looked inside: all the swords where there, and there was an envelope sitting on top, her name printed in Giles' careful hand. She ripped it open and read the note:
By the time you have found this note, I will be gone. Under no circumstances are you to follow me. This is something I have to do alone, and you would be more of a liability then help.
Crumpling the note, Buffy ran back to the others, "We have to find Giles!"
The steam rose up from the vents in the ground. Giles didn't know if it was bad plumbing or demon activity, and more to the point, he didn't care. He silently drew his sword; the phone call had merely told him where to go, not why the sudden meeting had been called. Movement in the shadows registered on some sixth sense, and he span round, the tip of the sword coming to a stop against the yielding flesh of a neck.
"Steady on there!" Spike raised his hands in submission, "I was just going to ask if there was something going on that I should know about."
"You don't understand, any of you." Giles' gaze seemed distant, like he wasn't talking to the vampire before him, "You think that everything's so simple, don't you? Well it's not. There are some things your kind will never understand. You don't understand real pain, real suffering."
"Ok, I know when I'm not wanted." Spike backed away, slightly worried. "I'll see you around then?"
Giles lowered his sword. "Possibly."
Spike backed away into the shadows.
Buffy paced back and forth as Willow and Tara finished preparing the locater spell that they hoped would find Giles. Willow placed the last candle on the floor and took a deep breath. "Ok, for this particular type of spell to work, we'll need something Giles touched recently."
"Try this," Buffy said, handing over the note, "I'm guessing he wrote it just before he left." Willow took the note and placed it in the centre of the chalk circle drawn on the floor.
"Look what we just found hidden under the bottom of the weapons chest." Xander appeared from the back room brandishing the tube containing the second sword.
Dawn was close on his heels, holding the battered old box, "I don't know about you guys, but I've never seen anything like this before."
Buffy opened the box, "Photos." She looked closer, "Really, really old photos." The others gathered round, looking at the crumpled brown photos sitting in the box, along with several letters written in a careful hand.
Anya lifted one, "It's in Russian."
The sword almost connected with Giles' neck, but he reacted instinctively, bringing his own weapon up and ducking to the side, rolling over in the damp alley. He came up fighting, his sword slashing out at a shadowy figure, who flipped over backwards.
The two men stood facing each other, swords raised at the ready. They slowly circled, their eyes locked on each other, ready to strike at a moments notice.
The stranger smiled, lowering his sword. "It's good to see you again, old friend."
Giles relaxed his guard. "You to, MacLeod."
Xander looked over Anya's shoulder. "Can you read it?"
Anya looked at him, "Of course I can read it. It's a love letter, addressed to Giles. It's from a woman called Sasha, that's slang for Alex, as in Alexandra." She looked at the bottom of the letter. "This can't be right; it's dated 1916."
Buffy grabbed one of the photos and turned it over. "What's this say?"
Anya looked at the writing. "It says: 'Rupert and Conner, St Petersburg, 1913'." She flipped the photo over and looked at the two men. "Maybe it's his grandfather?"
Connor MacLeod handed over his hip flask. "As much as I have come to love this country, you still can't get a decent whiskey here for love nor money."
Giles smiled as he took a swig of the strong liquor, "I suppose us Sassenach never learned how."
Conner's eye's narrowed, "I never used that word to describe you, not once." He took the flask back. "It is good to see you again. The last time was what, 1920?"
Giles' face fell, "1917, Archangel."
Darkness. Gunfire. People screaming. The echoing clashes of steel on steel.
Buffy shook her head, "No, it's Giles all right. Must be some sort of trick, like those tacky 'Wanted' posters you can get from Wild West theme parks."
"Hey!" Xander objected, "I look very 'Desperado' in that cowboy get up."
Anya smiled, "You look more 'Blazing Saddles' than 'Tombstone', trust me." She looked at the photo. "I don't think it's a fake; I think its real." She lifted a photo of an attractive woman with dark hair. She flipped it over, "Sasha, Archangel, 1917."
Conner sighed, "I'm sorry: I didn't mean to bring up old memories. It's been a long time, I guess I just forgot."
"85 years, 2 months and 17 days; I'm not sure about the hours and minutes, but if you give me a moment, I'll work them out." Giles leaned back against the wall. "She was the best of us, and I loved her more than anything, more than life itself."
Conner nodded, "I know, and she loved you the same. That's why she faced him."
"He was looking for me; he wasn't interested in her." Giles had started to cry, "It should have been me."
The echoing clashes of steel on steel. A single scream, cut short. The sight of blood in the moonlight. Laughter; evil and full of malice.
"Look, we're ready to do the spell, so why don't you just wait to ask him yourself?" Willow suggested, feeling slightly left out, "I'm sure there's a logical explanation."
Dawn looked at her. "In Sunnydale?"
"Oh, good point." Willow admitted. "Well, I'm sure there's an explanation."
Spike breezed through the door. "Why's 'Old Grumpy' acting strange all of a sudden?" He saw the man standing next to Giles in the photo. "Connor MacLeod?"
Conner sat on an abandoned packing crate. "That's why I'm here. He's here, Viktor is, looking for you. I think he wants your head."
Giles sprang to his feet. "I know where he'll be."
Buffy looked at Spike. "You know this man?"
Spike shook his head. "Not so much 'know', more 'know of'. He's an Immortal."
Anya clicked her fingers. "That explains it." Her smile was almost a grin. "Giles is an Immortal."
Xander raised a hand. "Exsqueeze me? And baking powder? A what?"
Anya took a deep breath. "There are certain humans who are, and no one knows why, Immortal. They can live for thousands of years, drifting from place to place, changing identities every few years so as not to draw attention to themselves. Legend has it that they can only be killed by decapitation. If one Immortal kills another Immortal, they gain their essence through what's known as the 'quickening'. They gain all the skills of the one they killed. If Giles is an Immortal, then he could be more than old enough to have been in Russia when these photos where taken." She let out her breath.
Buffy shook her head. "I don't get it; if Immortals gain this 'quickening' when they kill one of their own, how come he seems to be friends with this MacLeod?"
Anya sighed. "Part of the legend says that there will one day be something called 'The Gathering', and all the remaining Immortals will converge at the same place and fight it out until there is only one left. This winner will be given a 'gift' of some kind, as well as the knowledge and power of all the defeated Immortals."
She looked at the photo of Giles and MacLeod. "I've met a few Immortals in my time, and one of them told me that they tended to keep as far apart from each other as possible so as not to accidentally trigger The Gathering. Still, while Immortals may not see each other for decades, they can forge friendships that last centuries. Then again, the same could be said for their hatreds."
The fog rolled in off the sea, covering the docks as Giles and MacLeod made their way towards the distant shape of a large container ship.
To Be Continued...