Wandering Souls, A WIP

Warriorsong

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Author's notes: Just a note about Wandering Souls, it notes were it ties into the canon series of Buffy and Highlander, being the Season 3 and 4 hiatus and the beginning of Season 6 respectively.

I have not seen Endgame so I have no idea what goes on in that, so far as rumours I have heard. Logic simply dictated that the reason Connor went after Slan Quince was because he killed his son and wife. That said it was also the reason why he fell victim to the dart from the hilt of Slan's sword. No way a fully alert Connor would have walked into that.

Disclaimers

Highlander and characters are copyright by Panzar-Davis and Rhyser Entertainment. Buffy The Vampire Slayer and characters are copyright Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and The WB.

If any of this information is wrong, my most humble apologies. No copyright infringement is intended, this is merely a work of fan fiction. I am in no way affiliated to any of these companies and people and what not. Thanks for reading.

Prologue

He felt old. Really old. The age of the years he carried, not those of his face. Such pain. Not that of the body but that of the mind. That was two now, in the past two decades, two wives and the closest things he had to a daughter and a son, outside of his pupils.

Brenda, struck by a car on a lonely highway in northern Scotland. Rachel, the girl he had raised since World War II, of cancer. And then, a rogue immortal, seeking him out for his power and his head had killed his wife and adopted son John.

So he had tracked this rogue, and found an old friend. Blinded by rage, the rogue had struck him down, and his kinsman, Duncan MacLeod, had exacted the tribute.

Alone and adrift.

So he ran, simply ran. Living from his duffel bag and out the back of his battered old grey Porsche. He could have allowed himself to be swallowed by high society and let riches and lavaciousness swamp him, but at heart, he was merely a wanderer. A wandering soul.

-------

The boy we see now had the same idea. A break, a finding of himself, knowing that he could do it without his friends.

He felt like the outsider. He was the normal one. Outsider because the others all had some advantage, knowledge or some such. Except Cordelia, but then she had the uncanny ability to annoy, so that counted. He was just Xander. Xander Harris. No good Xander, Xander the Loser.

He shook the thoughts from his head. He had done a lot, he told himself, yet they were always watching out for him. He had taken down vampires, zombies, ascending demons with some help and had saved his friend's lives on many occasions. Yet he still felt that he had less to offer.

At best the Scooby Gang were misfits. What with a vampire with a soul, a Slayer, a Wicca, a Watcher, a werewolf and a... well, whatever the hell Anya qualified as.

He shook his head.

He knew why he was doing this; he just couldn't admit it. He wasn't trying to prove himself to them but to himself.

Shrugging on his backpack and throwing it into the back seat of his beaten up hatchback, he turned from the burnt out shell that used to be Sunnydale High School, climbed into the driver's seat and finally after getting the damn thing to start, he drove off.

-------

The grey Porsche ate up the miles with a single mindedness.

The driver was only partially paying attention to the road before him, a dusty ribbon, across a dusty desert under a dusty sky.

It had been five or so years now since Slan Quince had been killed by his cousin. Five years of travelling, avoiding cities and other immortals. That was his burden. While Duncan was a friend to many immortals, Connor had few contacts. Kastigear was one of the last.

He wasn't afraid of the remaining immortals. He had confidence in himself and faith in his steel. The darkness in his heart kept him moving, a purpose beyond his comprehension.

From lonely highway to holy place he traveled, the world spinning under his feet as he walked along his immortal coil.

Had the years finally managed to drag him down?

-------

Xander had given up on the heater. The blasted thing had coughed at him, made the car colder and then decided to billow smoke for a while.

Turning it off and keeping himself amused and warm by singing had worked for a while, but the desolation of the desert quickly made his loud out of tune singing voice a squeak. It seemed inappropriate.

He had been travelling for a couple of days, pulling into out of the way campgrounds and sleeping in the back seat. It was definitely not comfort central, but he could think without his past overshadowing his every move.

His past that predominately featured a blonde bombshell with a tendency to kick ass when the mood took her.

Xander smiled.

Yep, those sorta thoughts would keep him warm.

-------

The grey Porsche stopped.

The driver, a lean yet muscled man, looking to be in his early to mid thirties. His faded blue jeans and black shirt looked dull and monochromatic as the first of the suns rays crept over the horizon.

While things may seem bad, the cycle of day, month, year could continue, proving that something, one small something, was definite.

The man watched the sunrise quietly and then bowed his head. Returning to the car's interior, he gunned the engine and the car leapt across the flat plain, a silver streak seeming to race the orange flames of the sun's light.

-------

The sun poked a ray into Xander Harris?s eye. Xander flinched, banging his head against the car door.

Scratching his head, his fingers caught in the matted nest of brown hair.

"Nice," he breathed sarcasm dripping in his voice.

-------

Texas was nice enough. Pretty plain though. That didn?t bother Connor overly much. Plain and uniform he could relate to. No surprises.

He knew he was jaded. Big deal.

The fact he tried to keep hidden from himself was that he was tired. Tired of this life. Its never ending conflict, whether it be the struggle for more of it, losing loved ones or the clash of steel on steel.

He longed for release.

He thought about killing himself.

-------

Texas looked at lot like California to Xander. Well maybe the attitudes and belt buckles were bigger. And no palm trees. He had been on the road for just over a week and his car was still in one piece, so things were okay.

He did however long for human company. Even if it punctuated very sentence with a spit.

So, as the sun began to set, Xander turned the wheel, coasted into the dingy little parking lot of some small town truck stop, and shut off the engine. He placed a couple of stakes in his three-sizes-too-big jacket, checked his wallet and got out of the car.

Even away from the Sunnydale, the Hellmouth and all that entailed he was packing wood.

That didn't sound right.

Shrugging off stray thoughts and hopefully exuding an aura of calm, Xander walked towards the truck stop and the questionable civilization it contained.

-------

The Porsche threaded its way skillfully along the road. His cousin had finally resurfaced after disappearing for a year. Some tragedy had occurred when Duncan had accidentally killed his student Richie. Connor had met the kid once, during the whole Slan Quince thing and had sensed the boy's 'potential'. Duncan had taken the boy under his wing, the boy skeptical of any help where he had been tricked and bullied his whole life.

One year and some months later, the boy was immortal and Duncan's lover of many years lay dead.

For some three years he had been like a father to this boy and them by some bizarre twist of fate, had killed him.

The letter had been from an acquaintance of Duncan's, a man that knew about their ?relationship?. The details were sketchy, but Connor decided that his cousin was okay. No cause for alarm.

The trip into the city had been uneventful. having all his mail forwarded from New York some weeks ago to San Francisco was no hassle. He had been quickly in and out, hopefully attracting no attention from any immortals in the area. He had sensed a couple on the edge of his radar, quite young and obviously not paying much attention to whatever he was doing.

He had left by the end of the day.

Back on the road.

-------

Xander was managing alright. The lady behind the counter thought he was cute and kept refilling his coffee. The eggs had been like rubber, the beans undercooked and the bacon like leather, but at least it was food and better than what he could have managed on the small gas cooker in his trunk.

Xander inquired as to the direction of the rest room and left the counter, the payment for his meal, under the edge of his plate. The lady had swept up the payment and tip before he had fully turned around.

Walking towards the bathroom door, Xander began to ponder what he would do for rest tonight. A cheap motel would be nice, a bed, shower and maybe some TV.

He pushed open the bathroom door and found himself outside.

How charming.

The door slammed behind him.

-------

The three figures watched from the shadows across the lot. The kid had stepped outside and was obviously confused about something. It then shrugged and turned towards the wall.

The darkened figures chuckled as the sound of splashing reached their hypersensitive ears.

Slowly and with what could only be called preternatural stealth, they began to edge closer to the urinating figure.

-------

Connor had entered the small town, with hopes of finding accommodation and maybe a meal. The main street was deserted, the only pool of light from a run down looking truck stop. Several cars were outside in the parking lot, mostly pickups and jeeps and even a little hatchback that looked like it was on its last legs.

He continued on, the motels and what not were most likely on the other side3 of this dive town.

A tingle on the base of his neck.

Damn. He slammed on the brakes. An immortal and close. He swore again under his breath. This was not what he wanted. He would have to take care of whoever it was. Chances are that it may point another in his direction and he really wanted to be left alone. If the immortal was someone he had heard of maybe he could cut a deal. If not, he would cut them.

Bringing the engine back to life, he turned sharply and spun the Porsche into a side alley near the truck stop. Reaching into the back seat under a blanket, he pulled out his dragonhead masamune and slipped quietly from the confines of his car. Locking the door, he held the katana reversed in his hand as he headed towards confrontation.

-------

Xander had managed to do his fly up and had begun to walk around the building when a black clad figure inserted itself into his path.

"Hey sugar, you look sweet enough to eat," it purred.

Xander took the figure in, slim, curvy with tight black clothes. The hair was dark and cut close to the shoulder. The skin of the girl was like porcelain.

He began a "How you doin?" as he looked into her face.

It came out as "Eep!"

The girl's features had scrunched. Her forehead riding down as her nose rode up, pulling her top lip back in a sneer, which exposed her pearl white incisors.

Xander stepped back and bumped into a large husky looking vampire, close-cropped blonde hair with a chest, 2 by 4 could be snapped over.

A third vampire came out of the shadows, thin and with curly brown hair.

Xander was effectively hemmed in on all sides against the wall.

He didn't really like his chances. He had been in situations like this before yet never alone and without a crossbow or a Buffy. He shook that thought out of his head. He was his own man; he didn't need to be protected. He had seen Buffy do this enough, he could manage.

He hoped.

"Back off freaks, I got mace." as he reached towards his oversized pockets

Okay that didn't work too well. They started laughing. Xander grinned and pulled out a nice foot long stake, jabbing with it and embedding it in the chest of the curly haired vampire.

"Crap!" it said before it and its hastily sworn oath drifted away on the wind.

The lithe female vampire, snap kicked the stake from Xander's hand and roundhoused him into the wall.

The big blonde monstrosity grinned, his face contorting into the mask of a demon and squarely punched Xander in the stomach, holding him steady with a meaty hand on his shoulder.

"Bastard! What kind of mace do you call that!"

"Vampire mace?" Xander quipped as she struck him across the jaw with the back of her hand. His jaw made a rather disconcerting sound and pain assaulted Xander like a doubleslap to the ears.

Well, he could see where this was headed. He was supper and his mouth had just got his own jaw broken. First time its him vs. vamps and he ends up buying the farm. Great.

Xander prayed an apology as Blondy and Slappy sank their fangs into his neck.

-------

Connor rounded the corner to see a figure held against the wall by two others, one big and blonde, the other small and feminine. His target was the young man against the wall with the very pale face.

Connor coughed.

Both figures turned to him and the boy dropped against the ground, lifeless.

Connor then looked at the two creatures. While normal looking from behind, up close and personal their faces looked like a permanent scowl was etched on their faces, predatory and hungry.

The female hissed at him, showing long canines in a rich red mouth. Connor's senses balked as he realised these things had been drinking the kid?s blood.

Suddenly and with a speed that belied its bulk the blonde form charged.

Quickly and with centuries of practice steeling him against this unknown, Connor readied a battle stance as the monster came closer. Within striking distance, the blade still reversed, Conner brought the blade up and across the creature?s chest, creating a deep gash.

Steeping back and looking down in disbelief at its chest, Connor straightened his knees and continued his strike by twisting the sword around in his hand. Blade now forward, the sword fell across the creature?s neck, smoothly decapitating it.

Ash's feel like polluted snow.

The female looked at Connor and extended her claws, running at him, maddened. Lunging low and up, the female found Connor's blade deep in her chest. Yanking the blade from her ribcage, the girl feel to her knees before the Scotsman. Spinning the blade over his wrist and pointing the blade out to his left across his body, Connor ended her afterlife with a smooth mid-body stroke.

Connor stood for a minute. He had never seen the like. He had heard rumours, yet never witnessed any other reportedly immortal creatures.

Shaking his foot, to rid it of the dust that was settling, he stepped towards the slumped form against the wall.

The sets of pinprick marks of either side of its neck were closing and the colour was slowly returning. The kid?s jaw was moving back into place. The boy however was still dead to the world.

Connor, his voice, low and full of sadness simply said, "Welcome to my world, kid."

Connor stood quietly looking at the kid that was lying on the motel bed. His jaw had reknit and the marks on his neck had disappeared; yet he was still pale. Not surprising considering the first death was often the longest. Connor lifted his hand up, and flipped open the wallet contained within. The boys face greeted him on his driver's license, a cheesy smile plastered across his face.

Alexander Lavelle Harris. Young too, about 17 or 18 years old.

Connor scratched his arms. Whatever those things were, the dust that had disintegrated into was like a fine gravelly sand, irritating the follicles on his arms. Scratching harder didn't help.

Connor shrugged. The boy would be out for a while yet, so he walked towards the bathroom, grabbing his duffel bag on the way. He closed the door quietly.

-------

The body of Xander Harris lay on the bed, spread-eagled. Slowly his eyelid twitched, followed by a spasm that coursed through his whole body. Ragged and gasping he breathed deep, sitting bolt upright as the air filled his lungs.

Taking full breaths he sat hunched, the air feeling cool and bountiful for some reason. Like his lungs were drinking in the oxygen.

Creeping, Xander straightened up, a tingling feeling crawling from between his shoulderblades to the base of his skull. It cried danger.

"Welcome back."

Xander crawled back on the bed, tumbling off the side to come to rest in a heap on the floor. His head slowly came up over the side of the bed to see a man seated in the chair in the corner. He hadn't noticed him.

Xander quickly stood and backed into the corner.

"Who are you?" he asked, his voice trembling.

"Connor," the figure answered.

Xander stood in the corner, his hands at his sides rested against the wall, as if he was ready to push himself off and make a break for it. The figure noticed this and stood up. The man was an imposing figure, about 6-foot tall, and with an air that seemed to command respect. The accent was strange too, like Giles' but richer, sticking on certain words and not on others, some consonants clipped.

Xander's pulse raced.

"I'm a vampire aren't I?"

The figure looked taken aback by this, whatever he was about to say lost in his momentary confusion. Quickly however, he overcame it.

"What? No, you're not a vampire."

That wasn't what Xander wanted to hear. Being a vampire he could deal with. Somewhat. Being in a strange room with an even stranger guy got his mind going in directions he wasn't one hundred percent keen on.

"What are you going to do to me?"

A snort came from the figure's direction as he sat down again.

"Nothing nasty, which I take it is were your mind is going."

Xander visibly relaxed at this.

"I?m here to help," the figure continued.

Xander wasn't having fun. His reason had finally caught up. If he was a vampire, the demonic influence it brought would have presented itself by now and taken over if the guy was a threat, either eliminating it or eating it, whichever came first. The fact that he wasn't going for the throat was clue enough to the fact he wasn't newly turned. That and he didn't really feel like wearing black.

"Are you a vampire?"

Connor laughed, heartily. It was a good-natured chuckle, not the demonic cackle Xander was expecting.

"No, I'm not a vampire. Although I do have a question for you."

Connor hoped if he could strike up a conversation with the kid, things would go a lot better than the 'Hi, you're immortal, have a nice day' way this sort of thing tended to go.

"Shoot," Xander said, instantly cursing himself for his ill choice of words.

"What were those things that attacked you? Don't worry, I took care of them, but I was kinda curious as to what they were. But I am guessing from your questions that they were vampires."

Xander looked at the guy again. He seemed perfectly sincere. Xander decided the question wasn't loaded so he answered.

"Vampires. The walking dead. Nosferatu."

The figure really didn't seem at all surprised and took it with merely a raised eyebrow. If he hadn't seen them explode he would have been skeptical. But he had so that was cool.

This confused Xander even more.

"I take it you mean that literally?"

Xander's eyes almost bugged out at this statement.

"Um, yeah. Normal guys don't turn to dust when they get killed."

Connor nodded. It seemed the world he had lived in for over four hundred years still had a few surprises left in it. Still while he wasn't skeptical, he needed to be sure.

Xander couldn't help but feel uncomfortable in the presence of an individual who had just learned that the dead really did walk and took it in his stride. Then again this guy had ended up in a situation more or less the same as he had during the Harvest. It didn't help that the itch on his neck persisted having lessened from a distracting blaze to a dull throb. He reached his hand over to scratch the back of his neck.

Connor's lips curled in a half smile.

"Don't worry about that," he said, looking the boy over now that he was mobile, "it?s going to become a common thing. You'll get used to it."

This scared Xander more than he would have liked. This guy, who he didn't know from Adam, was talking to him like they were old friends and that things were absolutely normal.

Xander felt his knees give out and sat down on the floor, the corner at his back. He put his head in his hands and began to mutter incoherently to himself. The sentence "What's going on!" appearing at regular intervals.

Connor stood and walked over to the boy. He put his hand out, palm up, in a gesture of help, hoping the boy would take it. Obviously the kid was shell-shocked, but hopefully he could overcome it. And Connor hadn't even told him he had died yet.

Xander looked up to see the hand outstretched to him. He followed the arm up the body till it reached a chest clad in a grey t-shirt. Above that was a strong face, framed by unruly hair that crept just below the figures ears. The face was full of compassion.

The guy hadn't hurt him, when it was obvious he could have at any time, so Xander reached out and took the proffered hand. Connor pulled him to his feet.

The boy was skittish, which was understandable, but at least he realised Connor wasn't going to hurt him. Connor pointed to the bathroom.

"There are some clean clothes in the bathroom. Get cleaned up, while I order us something to eat. After that we talk."

Xander's eyes went to the indicated door, to the man and back again. He released the man's hand and took a step back into the corner. He knew that tone of voice. Giles used it frequently; it was the lecture-of-dire-import-that-may-save-your-life tone.

Connor stepped back himself, putting up his hands. "Relax," he said. "There are things I have to tell you and they will sit better after a shower and a meal."

Xander moved slowly to the bathroom, not turning his back to this man, whoever the hell he was. What kind of name was Connor anyway?

Connor placed the phone back in its cradle. The food was on the way and the kid was still in the bathroom. He knew this because he had checked the windows himself when they had first arrived, making quite sure they couldn't be opened enough to let a human slip through. The last thing the kid needed was to wander about unaware. It was a stroke of luck really that Connor felt the need to be quick, he had only been seated scant minutes before the boy awoke. Hopefully the shower would help the boy clear his head and calm him down.

Almost as if on cue the door opened and the boy cautiously stepped into the doorway. The borrowed clothes wee a bit large for him but were a lot better than the ones that lay on the bathroom floor behind him, soiled by the gutter he had died in and the dust of those creatures.

Vampires. Who would've thought?

Connor pulled out a chair and indicated the boy be seated as he retreated into a chair himself on the other side of the table, putting distance between them so as not to create alarm.

The boys eyes wandered slowly about the room, drinking in the details before he slowly came towards the table and sat down gingerly.

He looked at Connor skeptically.

"First," Connor spoke, sure he had his attention, "I want to make it blindingly clear that I mean you no harm. Secondly, I believe introductions are in order. I am Connor MacLeod." He could add the rest later.

Connor reached his hand out to the boy, perfecting straight, using subtle body language to show the kid that they were equal.

Cautiously, like a cat playing with a viper, Xander reached out and took the man's hand. His handshake was loose and limp. Connor's eyes frowned but otherwise he gave not indication of the results.

"Xander Harris."

"Well Xander," Connor stated, "I can see from the fact that you know something about your assailants," he deliberately stressed the word, "that you are not an ordinary young man. In fact, because of this single event, you will never ever be ordinary again."

Xander wasn't sure about this. The guy, Connor, said he wasn't going to hurt him, and he believed him, yet he seemed to speak in riddles and half sentences. And anyway normality wasn't Xander's buddy at the best of times.

Xander opened his mouth to speak but was silenced as the doorbell rang.

Connor indicated for him to stay sitting and went to the door. Xander could hear some talk over his shoulder and then Connor returned pushing a tray laden with food. Xander's mouth began to water.

Connor moved several platters to the table and placed a knife, fork and plate before Xander.

"Eat" he said. Xander, pretty sure he hadn't slipped any poison or what?s-it in on the way over, obliged. Connor sat down again and watched as the boy ate.

And he ate. Gusto was an appropriate word as the boy stacked steaks, pancakes and potatoes on his plate, liberally dosing them with barbeque sauce and maple syrup, indiscriminately.

Connor, shock evident, quickly shook it off and began stacking his own plate, somewhat more conventionally.

After some minutes of eating noise and another stacking of the plate, the boy looked at him.

"Thanks," he said, the words muffled around the word.

"What for?"

"Killing the vamps. I take it you took out the other too?" He swallowed, "They must have hit me pretty hard. They would have killed me if you hadn't come by. But you didn't need to do all this." Xander finished indicating the room and the spread before them.

Connor nodded, a small sad smile on his face.

"Well Xander, it was the least I could do. We are in a sense family now. And, despite what you believed happened, they did kill you."

Xander dropped his eating utensils, them falling to clatter against the crockery, almost mimicking his heart bouncing inside his ribcage.

"What?"

"Eat more and I will explain."

Xander eyed him suspiciously and slowly picked up his fork, spearing a hunk of meat and gazing over it at Connor as he lifted it to his mouth. It was official. The guy was a loon. Maybe if he just ate the guy would eat his liver or wear his face for a hat.

Connor was quite as the boy's eating slowed dramatically, the kid's eyes half on the food and half on him. He sighed. Great, the kid thought he was nuts.

"I never really got the cliff notes of it, but I do know that as long as there has been man, we too, have been. A friend of mine said it best in that we move silently, down through he centuries, leading many secret lives."

Xander just looked at him, the large slab of whatever it was halfway between plate and mouth.

Connor sighed again. Why did no one believe anymore? Was it the cynical nature that man had wrapped around himself to stop the things he couldn't comphrend from rattling the bars of his fragile world? Its surprised him that the kid was being less than receptive if he knew about vampires.

Xander on the other hand, was trying to take all this in without gibbering like a fool. Okay so the dude hadn't eaten him yet but he had said that Xander had died. Dead, as in not of the living. That was kinda hard to take when he was pretty sure he was alive. He was breathing, he was at some state of consciousness and his heart was beating. Probably beating too hard at the moment. He could accept what the guy had said, living for centuries and all, but in his experience, anything that lived longer than a century tended to not be human. He placed the knife and fork down and leaned back and gestured that Connor continue. He felt like reality was about to fall out the bottom.

Connor sat looking at the boy. He nodded grimly as the kid gestured at him and continued.

"I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, and I am immortal." Xander hadn't seen Connor take the sharp steak knife off the table, but he saw it now, as Connor held it in his right hand and ran its point hard up his left forearm slicing the soft flesh.

Xander stumbled back on his chair, knocking it over as the blood blossomed along the cut on Connor's arm, and it was cut deep. The trickle of blood turned into a stream as Xander watched.

As Xander stared at the result of the horrifying and unprovoked act of self mutilation, he gasped and his breath caught in his throat as the wound slowly closed, blue and white flecks of light flashing at the edges of his perception and the itch on his neck singing.

Connor picked up a napkin and wiped the blood from his arm. He held the arm, its flesh unmarred out for Xander to see.

Xander stood, his knees bent, a hand out stretched as his balance fought the gravity that was conspiring against it. His body shook and his mouth moved and no sound came out.

Connor stood and moved out from behind the table. Xander stumbled backwards, falling onto his backside, his hand still outstretched as if to ward Connor off. Connor put his hands up and took another step.

Xander spun on his haunches, sprung, opened the door and disappeared into the night.

"Shit," cursed Connor as he ran to the closet beside the bed and grabbed his trenchcoat. Bending down he pulled his dragonhead from beneath the bed and slipped it into the sling in the coat he now wore. Slamming the door behind him he too, disappeared into the night, a faint tingling on the back of his neck guiding him.

-------

Xander ran. He had no idea where they were aside from the fact that they were most likely still in the same town that he had died in. He shook that though out of his head - attacked in, damnit! His senses screamed at him and his reason mocked him from the darker corners of his psyche. How could he be dead, he was running, his lungs burning and his heart racing, and he hurt all over. He wanted to fall to his knees and howl at the injustice of his life. From one shitty circumstance and straight into another. The itch in his neck was subsiding yet his fear spurred him on. Running.

A part of him was sort of detached. It was filtering information now from five minutes ago. Before he, Connor, had cut himself, his accent had changed, deeper and more recognizable. Scottish.

And another part of him knew something too. That he, Xander Harris, was running from the truth.

And that scared him more than the Hellmouth opening. Again.

-------

The large semi-truck moved along the highway, its momentum as unrelenting as the tide. The driver, a large heavyset man, bald headed with a coarse beard, nodded his head in time with the music coming over the stereo. A large hand clasped the thermos on the dash and a meaty thumb flicked the lid off, moving the opening to the drivers? lips in one swift movement.

The sound of the introduction to "La Grange" by ZZ Top came over the radio and the driver placed his thermos, now empty on the seat beside him, and began to beat his hands against the top of steering wheel in time to the beat.

-------

Connor had returned to the motel. The panic driving the boy had pushed him on. Connor could have easily followed but he knew where the boy would be going. Grabbing his bag and the kid?s clothes from the bathroom he placed them by the door and grabbed his keys. Throwing several hundred dollars on the table he grabbed his belongings and locked the door leaving the room key inside.

He opened the Porsche and threw his bag and Xander's clothes inside. Carefully looking about he slid his sword into the driver?s seat and sat behind the wheel. He gunned the engine and the tyres smoked as he reversed out of the car park and sped off towards the truck shop where he had discovered the boy not an hour earlier.

-------

Rudkin belched as he stepped out of the truckstop. The truckstop lay on the outskirts of the town, the heavy traffic taking a bypass rather than disturb the locals. He lit a large cigar and scratched his bearded chin as he breathed in a mixture of night air and rich chocolatey smoke. His rig sat off in the truck park, its black paint seeming to make it an extension of the night. He rolled his muscled shoulders as a cool breeze gently swept over his bald head.

He leisurely stepped down of the concrete verge into the parking lot, his now full thermos in his large hand.

And then he felt it. The tingle that told him that another was nearby, yet still far enough off to be prepared. Rudkin increased his pace, his purposeful stride echoing off the hard asphalt as his boots struck. He opened the driver?s door on his rig and climbed in placing his thermos in its stand and dragging deeply on his cigar. His large fist struck the roof panel and it slid away. Suspended above his head was a thick broadsword, its point in a special lot and clips holding the handle. Rudkin half climbed out once more before grabbing his sword and leaping to the ground, the moon reflecting off its polished surface. He shouldered the door shut and made off to the north, towards the cause of his itch.

Xander had reached his car and was fumbling in his pockets for the keys. The itch had gone and he was rather glad. At this point he was quite prepared to return to Sunnydale without looking back and hiding in Willow's closet.

He managed to get the key out of his pockets, a half mumbled "yes" turning quickly to a "crap" as his shaking hands betrayed him and the keys fell from his grasp.

As he bent down and reached under the car he felt the itch return. Quickly he clutched his keys and stood up, glancing in all directions. There, some fifteen metres away, a titanic sword over his shoulder stood a giant of a man, bald with a dark beard obscuring his face. He wore jeans and a plaid work shirt with a t-shirt underneath. His muscles seemed to fight the confines his clothing placed upon them.

The man was grinning. This didn't put Xander at ease; it was a predatory grin.

"Urh, Hi," said Xander, trying to sound confident and not pulling it off.

The figure moved it sword in front of him, the tip of the blade pointing directly at Xander's chest. Xander swallowed.

"Hello boy. I believe you have something of mine."

Xander had no idea what this guy wanted but obviously he was unhealthy. He had heard somewhere that you agree with crazies and they go away.

"What?s that?"

"Your head!" The figure exclaimed and began to come towards Xander his strides purposeful. Xander turned and ran, hemmed in by cars he could only make his way down the alley.

He cursed as he ran. He had obviously heard wrong.

Xander's legs pumped as the gorilla behind him gave chase. He passed the back door to the diner where he had eaten and continued on, stopping only when a high chain link fence obscured his view, at least ten feet tall, its top lined with barbed wire.

Xander spun and backed up as far as he could, the fence behind him and the man blocking the alleyway. He was trapped.

"Come out mouse and I won't play with you. I'll just take what?s mine and be on my way."

Xander's head darted from side to side, always keeping the figure before him in some way visible.

"What did I ever do to you?"

"Nothing pup, but I wants your head. The name's Rudkin."

Xander grabbed a nearby trash can lid, holding it before his body like a shield.

"What's with you nuts and introducing yourselves!"

Rudkin chuckled, deep. "You meet some other nuts didja mouse?" Rudkin swung his sword before him in a low arc then suddenly he stiffened. Xander felt it too.

"Yes and some of us do not like being called nuts." Xander recognized this voice. In fact he had been praying for the last few minutes to never hear it again.

Rudkin turned slowly, ascertaining Xander was no threat. "Well MacLeod, long time, no see. Have fun hiding away, mourning your pathetic immortality."

"Rudkin." Connor said simply, contempt dripping off his voice his acid. "I thought someone would have shut you up permanently by now." His katana was held low at his side.

"Why, Highlander? Afraid you ain't got the moxy to do it. Quince break you, did he?"

"Shut your mouth, slime!" Connor snapped at him, twirling his sword over his wrist and squaring off against Rudkin.

Rudkin simply smiled and saluted MacLeod, his blade before his face before positioning himself in a guard of two.

-------

Xander couldn't believe what he was seeing. Two men, both rather large blokes, armed with swords were squaring off at about ten at night in an alleyway in some backwater hick town. You wouldn't read about it, except maybe in the National Enquirer.

Before Xander could process, the opposing swords, one slender and streamlined, one large and heavy clashed together, in between the two men, both had looks of determination on their faces.

They seemed to be locked like that for eternity, staring into each other?s eyes before both men broke and spun around the swords clashing again in the air. Connor broke the lock and stepped back his sword held in the centre of his body. Rudkin also stepped back, side on, his sword able to protect his exposed body in an instant. Connor lunged, and Rudkin flicked his wrist, deflecting MacLeod's strike, and then swung his sword around his back, his arm passing his face and aiming a swipe at MacLeod's neck. Connor saw the attack coming and ducked, his foot striking out and connecting with Rudkin's shin, his hand balancing him upright in the precarious position.

As Rudkin stumbled back, Connor righted himself and pressed his advantage. Again he lunged, a move identical to the previous. Rudkin fell for it, deflecting it in exactly the same way. Connor spun quickly turning his back to Rudkin, and curling his blade from its sharp edge to its ridge. Using the thicker portion as a curve against Rudkin?s blade, the point now arched towards Rudkin rather than away. A look of horror flashed over his face as he realised his error and felt the Japanese blade dig deep into his chest sliding between his ribs and ripping through his lungs and heart.

Rudkin's sword clattered to the grimy concrete and garbage floor of the alley as he fell to his knees. He grunted and almost cried out as Connor removed his sword and kicked the broadsword away. Rudkin looked up at MacLeod, contempt burning in his eyes as he rested on his knees, his heels against his buttocks. Frothy blood bubbled out of his side and he grinned, his teeth red with his lifeblood.

"Happy now?" The large man quipped, his voice a deep gurgle, almost unintelligible.

Connor lined his blade up with Rudkin?s neck and pulled his sword back.

"I will be. There can be only one." And with that he followed through on his stroke.

Xander sat horrified huddled behind his trash can lid. Rudkin's head rolled and wobbled like an overinflated basketball and Connor stood over the body that had toppled backwards, once bereft of its head. He could taste the air, static, like before a lightning storm. He threw the lid from him as a small shock tickled his fingers. Connor turned to him at the noise, acknowledging his existence for the first time since he had arrived.

And then the heavens opened. A streak of lightning struck MacLeod dead center of his chest, throwing him back against a wall. The bolt danced over his body, sparking off as it was drawn to the metallic detritus in the alley. A large bolt jumped to the body of Rudkin, the static lifting if from the ground as wisps of smoke and billows of mist floated over to MacLeod and swirled about him like a tornado.

And as suddenly as it started it was over. The smell of ozone graced the air and brought Xander to his senses. Stunned, he snapped his head when he heard Connor's sword clatter against the cobbles. The owner of said sword was pulling himself up off the cobbles groggily. He finally managed to stand and shook his head.

He turned to Xander.

"Now, I think getting out of here is a good idea."

Xander simply nodded dumbly and followed the one Rudkin had called Highlander out of the alleyway.

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