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.

* Saying Goodbye *

"Well, I have plane tickets for everyone," Giles informed the group. Nearly everyone stopped what they were doing and turned their heads to look at him. Willow and Kennedy stopped kissing but remained cuddling on one end of the couch in the lobby of the Hyperion. Xander, who was slumped at the other end of the couch, hit the pause button on his game-boy. Andrew, who had been leaning on the back of the couch watching Xander play Zelda, straightened his body. Rhona and Vi stopped sparring on the far end of the lobby and lowered their swords. Robin stopped critiquing Rhona and Vi. Dawn closed the book she was reading on her finger to keep the place.

The only two people who did not stop what they were doing or look up at Giles were sitting at the base of the stairs. Buffy and Faith, though they heard his announcement, continued thumb wrestling.

"It's about time," said Xander with a sigh. "I was getting a little of tired of Deadboy's hotel."

"But it was nice of him to let us stay here," chided Willow, shooting a reproachful look at Xander. Despite being grateful to Angel, Willow was just as ready as Xander to get out of here. Everyone was. It had been two weeks since Sunnydale's collapse and they were all anxious to leave the surrounding area and move on with their lives.

"So, where are we going?" asked Dawn quietly.

"Well, I thought we would go to London," answered Giles. "From there we can rebuilt the Council, to our specifications, of course. Although the headquarters are no longer there, the Council did own numerous other—smaller—buildings in London. Those are open to our use as the Council's remaining funds should be.

"Willow," Giles continued, "I need you to get on a computer once we land and transfer complete control of funds to us."

"No problem," assured the redheaded Wiccan, giving him a brief smile.

"When do we leave?" asked Andrew. And, after further thought he tacked on, "I am invited, right?"

"Yes," responded Giles, "I booked a ticket for you as well. The plane leaves in five hours. We should all get packed."

It was only then, as everyone headed towards the stairs to go to their rooms and pack, that they noticed Buffy and Faith still thumb wrestling.

"Are you guys going to pack, or what?" asked Xander with a smirk on his face.

"Can't you see we're deep in battle here?" responded Faith, with a question of her own. "I ain't gonna lose 'cause my clothes don't know how to pack themselves."

"I'll pack your things for you," Robin told the dark-haired slayer.

"Thanks," she responded, without taking her eyes of Buffy or their clasped hands.

"Do you want me to pack your things for you?" Dawn asked her older sister.

"No," replied Buffy curtly.

"Then, you should probably let Faith win and go pack yourself," cut in Xander.

"Ooh, I like that," said Faith, with a wolfish grin.

"No," repeated Buffy.

"What do you mean?" asked Willow with panic lacing her voice.

"I mean, I'm not packing and I'm not going," said Buffy evenly, still focusing on her match with Faith.

"You're staying here?" asked Xander.

"I don't know," said Buffy softly, "I just know that I am not going."

"Why?" asked Willow shrilly. "We need you to set up the new Council with us. We need you, Buffy."

"No," said Buffy, finally looking at them. "You want me, you don't need me. You guys can get along just fine without me."

Faith took advantage of Buffy's distraction to pin her thumb and win their match. "Re-match? Or are you scared?" she asked Buffy, laughing.

Willow shot Faith a warning look before responding to Buffy, "We do need you. You're the Slayer."

"Actually," Buffy said with a shrug, "Faith's the Slayer, and Rhona, Vi, and Kennedy are also slayers. And you have five more slayers upstairs. You don't need me."

"But you're our best friend, Buffy," choked out Willow, near tears. "We want you with us when we create the new Council."

"Well, you should have thought about that before you kicked me out of my house," said Buffy with an angry twang in her voice. "You made it perfectly clear that you don't want me anymore. You have Faith and the others now. I came back. I helped defeat the First. I'm done now. I'm done being the Slayer. I need to just be a girl. I need to be Buffy Anne Summers: young woman, blonde, college dropout, un-Slayer. Right there is the problem," Buffy continued, looking down at her hands, "those are the only descriptions I can come up with for myself. I don't know who I am outside of the Slayer and it's time I found out. I just need time on my own to think everything through and decide where I belong and who I should be when I get there."

"Buffy, we already explained why we asked you to leave," interjected Xander, his voice taking on a plaintive and whiny quality.

"See, there are two things wrong with what you just said" said Buffy, giving him a stony glare. "First, you didn't 'ask' me to leave, you told me to leave. You didn't give me a choice. Second, you 'explained' but you never apologized. I haven't been your friend for a long time now. I've just been a weapon, a general, a champion, the Slayer—not Buffy. It's time I became that again.

"But, what about me?" asked Dawn, tears streaming down her face.

"They'll take care of you, Dawnie," said Buffy, her voice softening as she spoke to her little sister, the girl she had died for.

"We need to discuss this," said Giles, sending his charge a scathing glare.

"Yeah, and that's our cue to leave," said Rhona, grabbing Vi and Kennedy. Kennedy tried to remain with the others but Robin and Andrew grabbed her and forced her up the stairs with them. After they left, the only ones who remained were an angry Xander, a crying Dawn, a hurt Willow, a disappointed Giles, a nonchalant Faith, and a tired Buffy.

"Buffy, we have been through this before," Giles told her. "You cannot simply run away from your duties. We may have an abundance of slayers now, but none of them have you experience or your fortitude. If we want to make a reformed Council—a strong Council—we are going to need everyone's help."

"Just leave her alone," said Faith, standing up. Although her voice remained even and calm, her stance was vaguely threatening and predatory. Her muscles were tense, as if ready for a fight. "She needs some time along to think. I get it. I got it. I got it back in prison—a lot of room for thinking there. B just needs to chill on her own a bit."

"You don't get it, Faith," admonished Xander, shaking his head emphatically.

"No, you don't get it," said Faith, finally allowing her voice to rise. "None of you get B. I don't even get B, but I get her a hell of a lot better than you. None of you can understand what it means to be Called, to be the Slayer. It ain't no walk in the park. So just back off and leave her alone. It's her choice if she goes or not."

"We can make her go," said Willow quietly with averted eyes.

"You do that and you're just like the other Council," said Faith, remembering the three-man extraction team that had been sent after her from England.

"Thanks, Faith," said Buffy standing up. As she embraced the other slayer, she whispered into her ear, "thanks for getting me."

"Anytime, B," said Faith, hugging her back.

Buffy pulled away first and walked to the door of the Hyperion.

"Where are you going?" asked Dawn, shocked by her sister's behavior.

"For a walk," said Buffy. Just before she walked out the door, she turned around and uttered a stilted "goodbye" before disappearing into the world outside.

Buffy walked down the street, letting the sun shine on her face. Normally this would create serenity in her but as she walked away, knowing they would be gone when she got back, Buffy thought over everything that had just happened. Had she been too harsh with them? They were really only children who had acted out of fear. That thought made Buffy halt and wonder when she had begun to think of Xander and Willow as children; she was younger than both of them. She continued walking and thought about her sister. She loved Dawn and would always love Dawn, but love just wasn't enough. She needed more. She needed understanding and she knew she would not get that from Dawn. When she thought of Giles, she could feel a sob rising in her chest. She had once trusted him completely and even thought of him as a father but in the last few months, she had seen a different side of him. She had always wondered how a man as good and kind as Giles could work for the Council in the first place—now she knew, he was just like them. He would do whatever he thought was necessary, regardless of what the consequences might be.

She smiled when she thought of Faith. Who would have thought that she and Faith would ever end up so close? Even before Faith had begun to work for the mayor, Buffy hadn't been very fond of her. She simply thought of Faith as an annoying little sister, and she already had one of those. But, as time went on, Faith's role in her life changed. The annoying little sister became her enemy and then she became her sister again, but this time, the sister was not annoying and not little, she was equal.

Buffy's musings were interrupted when she suddenly felt something she had never felt before. She doubled over, grabbing her head, unsure of what the odd vibration in her head could mean. There was a buzzing in her ears that was so loud; she couldn't focus on anything else. She staggered into an alley with her eyes squeezed shut willing the feeling to stop.

As it began to subside she heard someone behind her declare in a loud, masculine voice, "My name is Peter Wilson, and I challenge you. Draw your sword!"

* TBC *

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